Got this email from Dr. Mantooth today and thought it was interesting. He recently finished teaching a course on Spiritual Gifts at our church and this is a follow-up thought from him that he gave me permission to quote.
“As I was reading Romans 12 this morning, I read through chapter 11 to get a feel for the movement of Paul’s thoughts. Verse 29 of chapter 11 popped out at me. “God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable”. His discussion was about Israel in God’s plan. I find it interesting that Paul used the word “gifts”. So I looked it up in the Greek NT and the word is charismata — which is the word we usually translate as spiritual gifts. Anyway, since we had the class on spiritual gifts recently and lots of questions were raised, I thought I’d relay my findings onto you all. It seems that one of the questions that was asked in class was “Does God ever take away a spiritual gift from us?” This verse might give us a clue to that answer. Anyway, it’s worth chewing on for a while. ”
Leon Morris says that the word “gift” here refers back to Romans 9:4-5 where Paul says the Israelites have been given the gifts of adoption, covenants, the law, the temple service, promises and their forefathers. So he makes a case that the word here is more general than spiritual gifts, but speak to those things which the Israelites have from God because they were the chosen nation. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the verse cannot also be applied to gifts from God to the church, or to an individual believer.
The basic sense of the verse is that God doesn’t change. His gifts and His call are irrevocable. Just because someone has rejected God at some point, doesn’t mean that He will have no more use for them or may not still be able to redeem them for His purposes. This was the message Paul had for Israel. Because of the next verses I think it is legitimate to make application to nations and to individuals.
On to another thought: What gifts has America been given by God? Have we had a unique calling in the progress of history and, if so, what have we done with our calling? Let’s discuss…