God had a people, Israel. He likened them to a vineyard which He cultivated, looking for an abundant yield; however, God looked for fruit and there was none, so He cut it down (Isaiah 5). Jesus spoke of His followers as being likened to a new vine (John 15), the Church. Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes, so that it might bear more fruit. However, the dead branches are cut out and cast into the fire.
In Romans 11 the metaphor changes. Instead of a grape vine, the people of God are likened unto an olive tree. It, too, was a cultivated olive tree (Israel); however, some of the branches were cut off because of unbelief. Since New Testament days, wild tree branches (Gentiles) have been grafted into the old cultivated olive tree root (Israel). If God can cut people off from His people (Israel) and bring outside people into His people (the Church), He can bring Israel back in and cast out people from the church today.
Can God remove people from His church? If you are saying, this sounds confusing, I thought that if you were saved you cannot be lost. How can the teaching of this passage reconcile with the eternal security of the believer? We will look Romans 11:13–16 over carefully, and I am sure that by the close of the service you will be confirmed in your belief that the Good Shepherd truly will not lose not even one of His sheep. None will be lost or perish. His sheep are safe in His hands. However, there is a warning in this passage!
We will be looking at several passages in addition to Romans 11. Our study will take us to the unproductive vineyard of Isaiah 5, the vine, and the branches of John 15, as well as the parable of the foolish and wise virgins found in Matthew 25. There is a common theme that will surface and hopefully shed abundant light upon the Romans 11 passage.