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God's Word Has Not Failed (Romans Sermon 59 of 120)

God's Word Has Not Failed (Romans Sermon 59 of 120)

February 20, 2005 | Andy Davis
Romans 9:1-11:36
God's Purpose for the World, Election & Predestination, Providence and Sovereignty of God

The Great Need for Confidence in God

As I begin this incredible section of Scripture, Romans 9-11, I'd like to begin with a question of context. I want to try to establish why Paul wrote these incredible chapters. And I think that understanding the context and understanding what Romans 9:10-11 is meaning to say in the flow of Romans, will be our best opportunity to understand it in its detail as well. This is always my desire to set scripture in context and to try to see it in its place.

And as I was thinking about why Paul wrote this, in my discernment of what that reason was, I was taken back to the darkest moment in our economic history. Some call it Black Tuesday. It was October 29th, 1929, the great stock market crash. It had been preceded by Black Thursday on October 24th when millions of shares had already passed hands and the market couldn't really stand another shock, but it received it that day, Black Tuesday, as $16 million shares of stock were sold at an ever downward spiral of value, as people began to look at their stocks and think that they have no value and in fact they didn't.

There was a panic and the stock ticker couldn't keep up with what was going on and people were shooting in the dark and guessing as to what to do and they were hearing rumors and terror overtook them. And they just started dumping their stocks and it just went out of control, and it began a slide economically. The stock market bottomed out in July of 1932. The market had peaked out at 381.17 and it bottomed out at 41.22. And it would be 22 years before it would recover all of the ground. This was the period of the Great Depression, a period in which people had no confidence in the economic system of the United States, no confidence in their banks, there would be runs on banks, and people would want all their money out, and the banks would have to close down, shut down because they didn't have all the money. You remember there was one of those in the movie, It's a Wonderful Life, that they show every Christmas time. And there is Jimmy Stewart and he's saying the money is not here, it's in your house and your...

But the confidence people were terrorized. They had no confidence in the bank and this was a worldwide problem. It wasn't just happening in the US. It actually had preceded the US in Europe, for example, in Germany, post World War I, Germany was going through a terrible time economically. 1923, unemployment had risen to 6 million in Germany and the value of the Deutsche Mark, and this is really astonishing was 4 trillion Deutsche mark to the dollar. If you had $1, you could get 4 trillion Deutsche Marks if you wanted them. As a matter of fact, the value of the Deutsche Mark was so low, if you held a single Deutsche Mark in your hand, of course, you would need barrels and barrels of these to buy anything of value. The story is told of a woman who had an overflowing basket full of German Deutsche Marks and she went to buy some bread and she left the basket outside, because it was so heavy. She came back to find that someone had stolen the basket and left the Deutsche Marks on the sidewalk.

There was absolutely no confidence in the Deutsche Mark, just as in the US, six years later, there'd be no confidence in stock. They looked at it as something of no value, there was nothing behind it. Now, I am not an economist, I'm not able to probe the depths of what caused all of this, but I think it is an illustration of why Paul wrote Romans 9, 10, and 11. If you look at Romans 9:6, I think this gets to the heart of the matter. In Romans 9:6, it says, "It is not as though God's word had failed." Do you see that? That is the key to this whole section. Paul is dealing with the confidence of the people of God in the word of God, confidence that we have, that God will keep his promises, that what God has said he will most certainly do.

I. Context: How Does Romans 9-11 Fit In?

And so Paul is dealing with a very significant issue, he's dealing with the question of the Jews. What about the Jews? Now, if you look in context of course, Romans 9 comes right after that magnificent Romans 8.  In Romans 8 there are incredibly lavish promises of God's undying love for us in Christ and it ends with an incredible crescendo, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors, super conquerors through him who loved us for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the past nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus."

Does Israel’s Rejection of Jesus Christ Invalidate the Word of God?

There it is, the promise of God. Now my questions, what's it worth? What's it worth? It's just words printed on a page. Why? Because look at the Jews, were they not God's people? Were they not his chosen nation? And the experience of Paul and of the early church is that the overwhelming majority of them were rejecting Christ. And if the doctrine is true about the Gospel, if you reject Christ, you are eternally condemned, separated from God eternally in hell. What a tragedy then. Has God's word failed? Did God make promises to Israel that he didn't fulfill? And if the answer to that question is yes, then let me ask you Gentiles, how do you know that God won't renege on his promises to you? Is Romans 8 worth the paper it's printed on? That's the issue. And so he's taking up the situation of the Jews and their manifest rejection of the Gospel, a rejection which for the most part in the same ways they did in Paul's day continues to this very day today. Does it invalidate the Word of God? Does it invalidate the promises of God? That is the question.

The Deepest Questions: Divine Sovereignty, Human Responsibility

Now, as we look at Romans 9, we come of course to one of the most astonishing chapters in the Bible, it's an incredible thing because here we're going to come to the issues, the deepest issues of God's sovereignty and of human responsibility. We're going to come to the issue of God's sovereign election before the foundation of the world, of the people to believe in him and also the topic of the vessels of wrath and how God's choice fits into that. And it really comes down to the question ultimately concerning our own salvation.

Is it up to me? Is it my will, my actions, the inclinations of my heart, my achievements, my will, my faith saves me? Or is it on the other hand, God's will, God's actions, God's sovereign choice? That is the question. And that's the issue that people have wrestled with for centuries and centuries. Now, I recognize that Romans 9 is difficult meat to chew and swallow. I did not come here in October of '98 and preach Romans 9. I didn't begin my ministry here even though at the time I believed then what I believe now about this chapter, and I believe many things about this chapter. One of the things I believe is that it's good and helpful and beneficial to the people of God. But there is a sequence and an order. And I feel, as a church we've come to the place where we can together investigate a challenging chapter of Scripture without recriminations and doubts and anger and frustration.

But I do not imagine that everybody sitting here today is in exactly the same place and that everybody sitting here today is exactly eager and open to accept the full doctrine of God's sovereignty over all aspects of salvation. I feel that we are probably all in a different place, and I believe there's not a person in here that respects and honors the sovereignty of our God sufficiently. I think, all of us are going to have a big step up on that topic when we see God enthroned, when we see him at last. So all of us have a journey to travel. So what I'm going to urge you to do here at the beginning of the message and then again at the end is take it slowly, take it piece by piece, take it in. Read the scriptures. Be the noble-minded Bereans who take Romans 9 back home and read it for yourself and see if it's so. I'm going to be preaching, I'm going to be doing the best I can to explain it as I do other passages of Scripture, but take it slowly, and chew it, and swallow it, and think about it.

Let it transform the way you look at God, but don't reject it out of hand. Try to understand it. Now, as you look at Romans 9-11, there is the question of, is it just an addendum, an insert, something that Paul stuck in there? Some might say, yes, it's an insert, and it's a dangerous one, it'd be better if we just went from Romans eight through Romans 12, let's just skip it just, whoosh, the bridge. Alright, go right to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. But we cannot do that. This is God's word, this is not Paul speaking to us. This is not Pastor Andy speaking to us. This is God saying things to us, that we need to hear his Word. And so we can't do that.

But some have advised that, people that I respect, for example, Philip Melanchthon who is Luther's right-hand man, a godly man, careful thinker in theology, wrote to John Calvin and advised him not to preach at all ever on predestination and election. It's just going to cause divisions, it's going to cause difficulties, don't do it. And Calvin didn't agree, neither did Luther, for that matter, but preached openly on these things. John Piper, a pastor in a Baptist denomination in the midwest relates that a young pastor in that same denomination was given advice by a denomination official in how to handle Romans 9, and he said, "There is a way to preach Romans 9 so that no one knows what you really believe."

Well, I could do that, too, but I don't think that would be beneficial. I'm going to fly my flag and tell you what I really think, but I really want you to do what you should do and that's be the Bereans, they go home and say if it's so, and discern and read through the scripture. The one thing I don't want is for you to ignore Romans 9, that's what I don't want you to do as though it isn't there.

Romans 9-11 is not Superfluous

Now we need to read it and understand it and take it in. It isn't superfluous, it isn't something extra. It is what God wanted to say through Paul in this matter. Now, this is the middle of a sermon series. You may say, "I've been here for years, and I don't remember Romans 8." Well, unless you were here on that special icy snowy day a few weeks ago when I kind of recapped Romans 8… What I did was I preached through Romans 1-4, and then took a year or so break and then preached Romans 5-8, and I've taken a several year break, and now we're resuming in Romans 9. So do not suppose that I am just choosing Romans 9 now because I really want to preach on Romans 9. I do but it's the next chapter.

The Gospel is the Power of God for Salvation

And so we need to understand there's been a flow and a development in Romans 1-8, up to this point, let's take a minute and find out what it was. In Romans 1:16-17, the Apostle Paul spoke of the Gospel and that's what we're talking about, the gospel, in Romans 1:16, he says, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile, for in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, from faith to faith just as is written, the just shall live by faith." That's kind of the theme of the whole Book of Romans, it's the gospel, it's power, righteousness from God as an imputed gift, the just shall live by faith.

The Universality of Human Sin

But then in Romans 1:18 up through 3:20, he goes through basically the doctrine of the universality of sin. The universality of sin, and he takes on the pagan, the Gentile idolater's in 1:18 through 1:32. These are the ones who exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve created things rather than the creator who's forever praised. Amen.

So they make this exchange, they worship idols, they become sexually perverted, they do all kinds of evil things and it culminates in a list of sins at the end of Romans 1, that shows the heart of a lost person. But then Paul takes on the religious person. I think we know that he's predominantly talking about Jews who had received the law in Romans 2, received the law, but they weren't keeping it, therefore they were essentially hypocrites in one sense outwardly looking moral, but inwardly corrupt. They were not keeping the law of God, and so they were under God's condemnation as well. It's not a matter of hearing the law but those who keep it, and no one is keeping it.

And so he sums it all up in Romans 3 saying, "What shall we conclude then? Are we [I think Jews, Paul speaking there as a Jewish man] any better? Not at all. For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written, there is no one righteous, not even one, no one who understands, no one who seeks God, all have turned aside, they have together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one…" That's true of Jew and Gentile alike. So he sums it all up in Romans 3:23 saying, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

The Heart of the Gospel

But then comes the heated core that just the center of the Gospel, in Romans 3:21-27, and that is the presentation of Christ as a propitiation, a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. God presented Christ in our place. Jesus died on the cross. He took on us, on himself the wrath and the curse of God, and he extinguished it, he drank our cup of wrath on the cross, and by simply believing in Jesus, we can be forgiven of all of our sins. That's the core of the Gospel message Romans 3:21-27.

Justification by Faith Alone

But then he goes on to talk about justification by faith alone. It is by believing in Jesus alone and not by any good works, not by good works that we are made right with God. Paul takes that on in Romans 4, and he points out that in Romans 4 even the patriarch Abraham discovered the same thing. It isn't a matter of being circumcised. Abraham was justified by simply hearing the promise of God, he heard the promise of God, he believed it, and it was credited to him as righteousness. He was made right in God's sight simply by hearing the Word of God and by believing. Let me stop there for a moment and tell you, can you see why Romans 9 is so important? Because if God's Word can't be trusted, if it's like buying a piece of the Brooklyn Bridge, you know if somebody comes up and offers you full ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge, I would urge you to investigate first, okay?

It's not likely to be valid, it's not likely to be worth the paper it's printed on. But God has come to us and has promised us things. And Abraham heard the promise of God, he believed it and it was credited to him as righteousness. That's the way we all get saved, by hearing and believing the promise of God. Can you see why God wants you to have absolute confidence that he keeps his promises? That's the essence of our faith.

Sin and Death in Adam – Grace and Life in Christ

Then in Romans 5, he talks about assurance, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and we have this whole assurance in Romans 5:1-11, then he takes on the deep doctrine of original sin and Adam, explaining in a significant way, how it is that all of us are sinful and how Jesus's death is similar to Adam's in that through him, through this one man, all of us, are made righteous, then he wrestles with the question of our daily lives, of struggling with sin, takes on that issue and talks about the doctrine of sanctification and how we grow step by step, walking with Jesus, trusting him, putting sin to death by the power of the Spirit. He then raises the question of the issue of the law and our battle with it and our battle with the flesh in Romans 7, and how much we struggle and will struggle with the flesh, and asking questions about the law. Do we just throw off the law or do we have to keep it and how does it work?

The Spirit-Filled Life of the Believer

And then culminates with that magnificent chapter, in Romans 8, the spirit-filled life, the role of the Holy Spirit, and the fact that we are free from condemnation, and we have the Spirit of sonship crying, Abba Father, within us, and we have a promise of glory that someday we're going to be as glorious as Jesus and therefore that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We have full assurance that God will keep his promises, and someday we will be glorious, in heaven. Romans 1-8, magnificent.

What About the Jews?

But now he wants to ask, "What about the Jews? What about the Jews? Has God promised them things as well? And he's going to go over the benefits, the spiritual benefits of the Jews in Romans 9, and he's going to talk about them, but it harkens back to the earlier understanding that the Jews are God's people, his chosen people, for he said, in Deuteronomy 7:6-8, "You are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession." And so the Jews were his people, his treasured possession and now, overwhelmingly, they are rejecting the Gospel.

Now, I want to tell you that this is so beautifully Paul's standard procedure. Paul will lay out doctrine and then he will pause, and he will ask hard questions against the doctrine he's just laid out and then answer those questions. He does it again and again. On the issue, for example, of circumcision earlier in Romans 4, he raises up the question. Do you have to be circumcised in order to be righteous? No. What did Abraham find? He was justified before he was circumcised. He raises up the question, you see. And then later in Romans 5:20, he makes a beautiful statement. There he says, "Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more." Well, what do our tricky devious little minds do with that statement? Well then, why don't we just go on sinning so that grace may increase? Let's have a grace party. Let's just sin and sin and sin so that grace can just be flowing. We want to see a lot of that grace. So we'll do the sin part and God will do the grace part.

So, Paul raises that question against his doctrine and he answers it beautifully in Romans 6, saying that we died with Christ, thus we died to sin. Then he raises up the question about the law. He says, "Well, if we're not under law, then is the law sin?" Is there something wrong with the law? No, he answers that one as well. You see what he does, he's raising questions. He does the same thing at the end of Romans 8 again and again, what then shall we say in response to this question mark? If God is for us, who can be against us, question mark? This is what he does, and we're going to see him do it in Romans 9 as well. We're going to see him raise up the very questions that will be in your mind and then he answer them.

II. Paul Faces the Jewish Question

What then shall we say, is God unjust? May it never be, he's going to raise up these questions. Well then, why does God still find fault or who resists his will? He answers that one, this is what he does. And what question is he raising against his own doctrine? Well, if in Romans 1-8, it's all based on the promises of God, it's all based on God and his ability to keep his promises. What about his treasured possession? What about the Jews? That is the question he is answering. And so he's bringing this up, he's facing the Jewish question. Now, Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, he was a Jewish man, he was a Pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews, he called himself, but he was God's chosen instrument to go out to the Gentiles, and so he's going out there and everywhere he's ministering he's dealing with Jewish opposition. He is facing Jews that are in his face, and so therefore he has had to test his doctrine against Jewish questions. He's kind of battle-hardened in this area. He's dealt with these questions and he's going to continue dealing with the question of the Jews, and he does it in a very beautiful way here very winsomely. Look at the beginning of Romans 9, he says there, "I speak the truth in Christ. I'm not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit. I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart, for I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers those of my own race, the people of Israel."

Do you see how he identifies himself with the Jews? "…My brothers those of my own race, the people of Israel." Well, he does the same thing at the end of chapter 10, look at that, chapter 10:1-2, he says, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved." See that? "For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, that their zeal is not based on knowledge." So again, identifying himself with the Jews, praying for them, loving them, concerned about them. And then in chapter 11, he does the same thing again. Chapter 11:1, "I ask then, did God reject his people? By no means, I am an Israelite myself a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin." Do you see how he's identifying himself? Chapter 9:1 and following chapter 10:1-2, chapter 11:1 and following, he's identifying himself with the Jews, he's reaching out to them. He wants his people to be saved, but he wants to deal with this question, the question of the Jews. He's also dealing with the possibility of Gentile arrogance. Oh, how wicked are our hearts and how prideful and how ready for us to feel as Gentiles, that we now are God's chosen people and they're out, they've been rejected. And so he's going to bring up and explain how the Jews still fit into God's plan. He's rejecting any sense of arrogance because frankly, arrogance is the very thing that destroyed the Jews anyway, that arrogant sense that they didn't need God.

Ultimately, he wants unity in the Roman church, he's going to talk about that in Romans 14 and 15. He wants one church, he wants people together, Jew and Gentile together, concerned, loving each other, so he's facing the Jewish question.

III. The Central Issue: The Vindication of God & His Word

Now, the central issue as I mentioned in this text is the vindication of God and his word. Let's start with the topic of the vindication of God, look at Romans 9:14. In Romans 9:14, it asked this question, What shall we say then? Is God unjust? Do you see that question? My feeling is that this is going to be the first thought that will come into some people's minds when you get to certain passages of the scripture. You're going to think that's not fair, that's not just, that's not right. And Paul is going to deal with that question.

It matters to Paul whether you think or we as the readers of Paul's epistle think that God's unjust, that's why he deals with the question. And so this is what you call theodicy, the justification of God, showing that he is righteous in all the things that he does. That's a concern for Paul. He also as mentioned in verse 6, wants to vindicate God's word. "It is not as though God's Word had failed," so that's the center of it all. God would be justified that he would be shown to be righteous and just in all that he does, and that his word would prove to be trustworthy and worthy of your faith and your confidence.

IV. Major Themes

Now behind that are some major themes, major themes. What are those major themes? Well, the tragedy of Jewish rejection of the Gospel, we're going to talk about that God willing next week and the week after. It is a great sorrow to Paul, that they're rejecting the Gospel, and it's incredibly important that Paul has that sorrow. It shows you a lot about him and about the nature of what he's talking about. Another theme, of course, is the theme of God's freedom and absolute sovereignty in election.

Not just that God is sovereign, not just that he chooses people to believe in him, but that he has the absolute freedom to do so, that he has the freedom and the right as king and creator of the universe to do whatever he wants with what he's made. This is a vision of God that's hard for us to accept, is it not? It's a struggle for us to think of a God that's that free. We like to think of ourselves as the captain of our fate and the master of our soul. Let God have all the rest, but this is mine. But the Scripture says otherwise, the Scripture says that God is the king. So not merely that there is such a thing as predestination, not merely that there is such a thing as election, but that God has the full right to do it without consulting you first. He doesn't need to have a poll. He's not running the universe by an opinion poll unlike some leaders who might seek to do that. God doesn't do that rather he is the king.

Thirdly, Paul desires to vindicate his Gospel as rooted in the Old Testament. Now it's remarkable Paul is a thoroughly rooted Old Testament scholar, he's writing these New Testament epistles, but one New Testament scholar went through his 12 epistles and counted all of the open quotations of the Old Testament in those 12 epistles, came up with 89 quotations. Of those 89, 27 are found in these three chapters, that's remarkable over a third in the three chapters we're studying here. Paul is clearly at pains to show that his doctrine is consistent with Old Testament Revelation. He is not preaching a God different than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He's preaching a continuation of what they did. It's not an innovation here, it's not a new doctrine. He's teaching the Word of God consistently.

Fourth, another theme is the danger of misunderstanding and misusing doctrine. This is a grave danger. The Jews misunderstood and misapplied the doctrine that they were God's chosen people, they thought that simply because they were the descendants of Abraham, they were fine spiritually, and John the Baptist was the one who had to say, "Do not begin to say to yourselves we have Abraham as our father. I tell you that out of these stones, God can raise up children for Abraham."

They were misunderstanding their choice, the choice as God's chosen people, they thought it meant that every single individual Jew was safe and sound to live however they wanted and they would be fine spiritually, they misunderstood that. But he's also attacking the Gentile arrogance that says, "Well, apparently we are the people now." That we're God's people now because the Gospel is doing so well among the Gentile, so God doesn't need the Jews. In both cases he's really zeroing in on pride and arrogance, pride and arrogance.

The Glory and Mystery of God’s Eternal Purpose

Romans 9-11 is the antidote to human pride. It destroys our pride and brings us low. And then finally the glory and majesty of God's eternal purpose. Above all, Paul wants all of us, you and me both alike as we study this to come with a vision of God and his greatness, and his majesty and the mystery of his purposes, and so he ends up with this incredible statement in Romans 11, "O, the depth of the riches, the wisdom, and the knowledge of God, how in searchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." That's where he wants you to end up, glorifying God as he really is, not a pale reflection of God that you perhaps maybe learned in Sunday school, or in a false teaching sort of way, but the real God, the God that there really is, the one who sits on his throne and rules over all things.

And you know what that tells me? It tells me never, never think that you have Romans 9 down pat. I got that figured out. Never say, "I've heard some good sermons on Romans 9, I got it down." Well, let me tell you something, the one who wrote it, said, "I don't get it." I mean, that's my take on it, alright. He gets to the end of Romans 9-11, and he says, "O, the depth of the riches, the wisdom, and knowledge of God. How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out." What does that tell you? Paul's saying in a fancy way, I don't get it, not fully. I don't reject it, I accept it, but I don't get it fully. You're not going to get it all. I won't get it all but we should study it nonetheless, shouldn't we? Should we not take in the meat of the word. Should we not chew it, meditate on it, let it have its work in us? I think we should.

V. The Movement of Paul’s Argument: Romans 9-11

Now, what is Paul's argument here briefly? I'll just give you a quick overview of Romans 9-11. It's going to go in six steps. He's going to start with talking about his anguish, his personal anguish for his lost kinsmen, 9:1-5.

Secondly, he's going to zero in on what I've told you is the key concept for this whole thing. God's Word has not failed as a key concept, and he's going to explain why it hasn't failed in Romans 9:6-29.

Thirdly, he's going to talk about the Jews that they stumble over the Gospel, personal faith in Christ, the simple Gospel, they stumble over it, while the Gentiles are streaming in and have been for 2000 years now. But in Paul's argument in his day the Jews are stumbling while the Gentiles are streaming.

Fourth, he's going to make the absolute statement and then explain it that God has not rejected his people, he's not done with national Israel. He's not done with the physical descendants of Abraham.

Fifth, he's going to give us a mystery, he's going to tell us that God uses and then ends Israel's hardening in part concerning the Gospel. God hardens Israel in part. He uses it for his ends, and then he will bring it to an end at the end of the world, and this is a mystery. And so the Jews are experiencing a hardening and then that hardening will end.

And then six, the proper response as I just mentioned, awe-struck praise of God's eternal plan.

Now, as we look at these units, the second one, I think, is probably the one that causes us the greatest interest and concern and that is, that God's Word has not failed. In Romans 9:6, he says, "It is not as though God's word had failed, for not all who are descended from Israel are Israel." In effect, what God is going to say in there is, "I never promised, I never made a promise that every single, individual, biological descendant of Abraham would go to heaven, and therefore my word has not failed." And we talked about this the last time when we're looking at Genesis and you have the contrast of Isaac and Ishmael, and then again the contrast of Jacob and Esau, but he's going to go deeper. Paul (or really God through Paul) says, "But why Isaac and not Ishmael? Why Jacob and not Esau?" And that's the very issue that we're going to be looking at over the next few weeks.

VI. Applications

Now, as we look at this overall, what application can we take to it? Can I just strike to the heart of this matter and ask you, first of all, be patient with yourself and with your preacher, okay?  We are going through the deepest strongest texts that there are. I think it's ironic that on Sunday evenings, I'm going through Hebrew 6, which is every bit is difficult and tough on the other side of the issue of God's sovereignty and human responsibility. So if you want like a double dose of meat come tonight to Hebrew 6. I didn't plan that, God seems to have, but there it is. We're doing Romans 9 on Sunday mornings in Hebrews 6 in the evening, but this is incredible stuff.

Therefore, I'm asking you if there's something I say or something that seems to be coming out of the text, you know like, "Whoa, that can't be right." I urge you to take it back. Read it over, pray it through, think about it, give yourself time. I'm not expecting that at the end of two weeks, we'll all be on the same page on sovereignty and election.

The Benefits of Studying These Difficult Scriptures

Second of all, can I urge you to understand the benefits that come from studying this? There are incredible benefits that come from this. Now you say, "Why are we going through this?" Well, some of you aren't. You just know that we're going to go through it, because it's the next chapter in Romans, and that's a delight. We're going through it because all Scriptures is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. We're going through it because we need it, but I think there are three great benefits that come from understanding this. First is an astonishing vision of God as he really is. And I can't tell you how much that's going to help you in life, it's going to help you across the board. It's going to help you when you're facing trials, facing medical issues, facing employment issues, facing relationship struggles, facing anything you may face in this life. The first thing that helps you the most is a sense of God on his throne, ruling the universe, and that vision comes so beautifully out of Romans 9.

The second thing, benefit that comes from this is amazing security for the believer. Amen? You look at it and you say, God has spoken life to me. He's promised me in Christ that I will be raised from the dead on that final day, that Jesus will lose none of all that he has given, but raise them up at the last day. I have absolute security, because I am not trusting in myself, but in God who raises the dead and what's the third benefit that comes from studying Romans 9? Total humility.

You know when you get to the end of Romans 9 and 10 and 11, you look at that and you take it in, you accept its message, you know what it leaves you? A miserable, wretched, sinner with nothing to offer, saved by God's sovereign grace. And you know what? I think that vision helps you almost as much as the other one does.

We were studying in Sunday school this morning talking about Peter's denial and how confident he was in himself. Oh, self-confidence is the enemy of the Gospel. Romans 9 slays self-confidence and we need it done. So what I ask you to do is humble yourself, study carefully, and accept the fact that God wants you to know Romans 9, and let's roll up our sleeves and try to understand it.

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