This is Larry's verion of how Paul might follow up his Letter to the Romans. Incomplete reflections on a topic close to my heart. A message that needs to be sent again to those who wish for the roll-back of Vatican II. Jews are important to Christianity.

To the First Church of Rome

Dear friends,
I have something very important to tell you. Some of you have been lording it over your Jewish brothers, telling them they are not going to Heaven. Worse, you have been slandering them, calling them names and teaching your children to do the same. There are even reports reaching here you are telling each other you have replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people. I am shocked and ashamed of your childish words and behavior.
Listen carefully to me. This is a matter of grave urgency for each of you and for all of the Church of our Beloved Savior Jesus Christ. I will explain to you the purpose of the Jews and how you are to treat them.
God made a promise. Men go back on their promises. God does not. So I ask you, has God kicked out his people? I can’t believe such a thing, and I can’t believe you believe it either. I am Jewish myself. My ancestors are from one of the original twelve tribes, from Benjamin, the smallest tribe. Nope, God has not rejected us.
If you read the Bible you carry you see what it says in the story of Elijah the Prophet. Elijah complained to God that his fellow Jews had killed the other prophets, broken down God’s altars and were now trying to kill him. What does the divine voice say to him?
“I have 7,000 men left who still worship me.”
In the same way today, God has a ‘remnant’ left, as he always does. And this remnant exists by Grace alone, not by anything they did or do.
So what does this mean? What the Jews tried to do, they failed at. But some Jews, selected by God the Father through Grace alone, these few Jews get it. God himself made the others numb in Spirit. God himself made them blind and deaf.
Why did God the Father do this? Was this a disaster? No, far from it. Because they fell away, salvation has come to every nation on Earth. And this saving of all the nations will, in time, provoke and stir up the rest of the Jews to get with it again and return to God. Now ask yourself this, if their rejection of the Messiah Jeshua means the enrichment of the whole world, and their ‘offense’ leads to the salvation of all peoples, how much more will it mean when they come back to belief in full strength?

Now, I, Paul, have something to say to you Gentiles. I am a missionary to you. But I also always try to stir up my fellow Israelites to belief. Even in my job as Apostle to you Gentiles, I am required to witness, through example, to my brothers – who are also your brothers. Listen up. If their rejection of Jesus has meant the salvation of the whole world from sin and death, what will it mean when they accept the gospel? Nothing less than Life from the Dead!
If the seedling is consecrated to God, so is the whole tree. If the root of the apple tree is consecrated, so are the branches. Yes, some of the branches have been lopped off, but you, a crabapple, have been grafted onto this trunk, and have come to share in the juice and sap which comes from the holy root.
Don’t put on airs about this. Don’t make yourself superior to the branches. Remember, it isn’t you who sustain the root: the root, the Jewish oracles, the Torah, the Prophets, the Psalmists, the belief and prayers of the Fathers in the faith, these sustain and nourish you and your children.
You might say, “These Jewish branches were lopped off to make room for me to be grafted in.” Right on. They were lopped off for lack of faith. They went to synagogue and said the prayers, but they lacked faith. You are grafted in by your faith, not by membership or reciting prayers or attendance in church. The only way you can hold your place on this trunk is by your personal faith. Don’t get carried away by pride. Watch out! If God didn’t spare the cultivated apple branches, he will be quick to lop you off, too.
Just look at the kindness – and severity – of God. He is severe to those who fell away. He is kind to you. But only so long as you hold on to this tree in faith. Otherwise, chop! And the Jews, if they come back to belief and faith, they will be grafted back in. Can God do this? Of course he can. Look at you. He cut you out of a wild crabapple tree and grafted you to his good cultivated apple tree against all nature. Think how quickly and happily God will graft back in the natural apple branches when they return to faith in him.

There is a deep truth here which I want you to understand. You need to understand this mystery so you don’t get carried away by the sin of self-importance. This partial blindness has been laid on Israel only for as long as it takes for all you gentiles to be admitted. After this happens, all the Jews will be saved! This is God’s promise and it stands forever.

In spreading the gospel, Jews have been treated as opponents of the gospel for your sake. But God’s choice stands. They remain friends of God and beloved for the sake of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The gifts of God are beyond recall. Here is how it is. You and your fathers used to be disobedient to God, but now have received God’s mercy and Grace through Jewish disobedience. While you are receiving mercy they have remained disobedient. Why? So they, too, can receive mercy. Whose mercy? Your mercy. God’s purpose in making everyone prisoners of disobedience and faithlessness, was so he could show mercy to all men and women everywhere. And he will do this through your demonstrations of faith and mercy, which will stir all Israel to faith in emulation of you.
O the depth of riches of wisdom and knowledge of God! Who can figure out his mind? Who could ever have given him counsel? Who has ever given God a gift without receiving back immeasurably more? Glory forever to his Holy Name! So be it.

So, what to do? My brothers and sisters, in the strongest possible way, I beg you to make the one offering to God he asks for. Yourself. Not a sacrifice of dead animals or baskets of food or even of money. Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God.
How do we do this? How do we make an offering of our self dedicated and fit for acceptance by God? We do this by worship with full heart and mind. However, we cannot worship God with full mind and heart if we conform to the world as we see it, what our eyes and ears tell us. We must be willing to let our mind be remade and our nature not just changed, but transformed. If we do this, we are promised we will know what God wants for us, what is good and acceptable, and even perfect. Then we can come to know God’s will for each of us personally.

God’s will is different for each of us. Each one of us is different. Just as in the human body there are many organs and limbs, each with its own purpose, so in the Church we form one body with many limbs and organs. Our differences are important. God has given each one of us unique gifts. The strength of those gifts varies as God passed them out. So don’t think too highly of yourself for your gifts. Use them, but with humility. God has even chosen how strong a faith each of us has. So be sure to exercise your faith and gifts in proportion to what you have received, and don’t criticize others. Guard your self.

The grace of our Lord Jeshua the Christ be with you all. Amen.
Now to him who has the power to solidly plant you according to the good news I am delivering to you, and the preaching of Jeshua the Christ himself, all these things now revealing the mystery, which had been kept secret since the world began,
But is now shown to you plainly, and by the writings of the prophets, who wrote obedient to the command of the everlasting God, which has been made known to all nations so they might receive faith:
To God only be glory through Jeshua the Messiah for ever. So be it!

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