Sunday, November 28, 2010
Romans Chapter 9
- Paul is expressing concern for his Jewish brothers and sisters. He is willing to take their punishment, cut himself off even from Christ if they could be saved through his actions.
- Paul's heart is reflecting the heart of Christ. He so loves the Jewish people, his family in essence, that he is willing to give up everything for their salvation.
- Paul couldn't do this. His life could not free another's. But such love is expressed here.
- John 14:6-7, 6:27-38
- Luke 1:76-79
- Philippians 1:27-30, 2:1-11
- Matthew 28:18-20
- I Timothy 2:1-7
- Is your heart reflecting the heart of Christ?
- Do you grieve for the unsaved? Does your heart yearn for them to know the joy of Christ as you do?
- How concerned are you for those who don't know Christ?
- Are you willing to sacrifice your time, money, energy, comfort, and safety to see them come to faith in Jesus?
- Israel was adopted, just as we are adopted. They just happened to be adopted first...
- footnote: “The Jews viewed God's choosing of Israel in the Old Testament as being like adoption. They were undeserving and without rights as natural children. Yet God adopted them and granted them the status of His sons and daughters.”
- God revealed Himself to them. Made covenants with them. Gave them the law. Made them a privileged people. They alone were worshiping Him and receiving the benefits of His wonderful promises.
- Paul lists the 3 major ancestors: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- As far as humanity was concerned, in the flesh, Christ was an Israelite.
- And Christ is GOD. The One who rules over all things and is worthy of ETERNAL praise! Isn't that wonderful!
- Hosea 2
- After giving the above brief history lesson, Paul goes on.
- Has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? NO! God NEVER fails!
- Paul then makes the statement that not all who are born as Israelites are God's people... whoa... wait... Even being born into the nation of Israel doesn't make you a member of the family? Then how do you get in? (Can you imagine how this rocked the world of the Jews Paul was preaching to?)
- footnote: “God's word in the form of beautiful covenant promises came to Abraham. Covenant people, the true children of Abraham, are not just his biological descendants. They are all those who trust in God and in what Jesus Christ has done for them.”
- The Jews natural lineage didn't mean that they automatically made it into the family. Isaac was not Abraham's only son. And Jacob was the younger of twins.
- So what did the others do that God didn't allow them to be part of the lineage? Esau wasn't even born before God told his mother that he would serve Jacob... hadn't had a chance to do good or evil.
- Paul was trying to show that our election and our calling into the kingdom does not come from something earthly. It comes from what God sees in your heart. God chose Jacob because He knew his heart was to follow after God. Just as He chose David to be the forefather of Christ... because He saw his heart.
- This relates I think to the people who try to get to heaven through grandma or something. “well my grandmother went to church every day!” or “My mother prayed for me a lot.” so? They can be the best, well-meaning people in the world... and THEY might be fine with God... Or people who think that if they're good enough, if they do enough good works and deeds that their life will be good enough to enter heaven. It doesn't work that way. It's a personal relationship dependent on YOUR OWN heart's condition.
- John 4:21-26
- I John 3:1-24
- Galatians 3:23-29, 4:1-20
- Psalm 139:23-24
- Where is your heart? Are you included in the lineage of God? Are you part of the family?
- Are you trying to depend on something or someone else to get you into the kingdom?
- So then is God unfair? That He would take someone into the family who is not of the house of Israel? (That He would save someone who has never set foot in a church? That He would reach out to touch the untouchable?)
- But God told Moses that he would show mercy and compassion to whomsoever he chose to. He's God! He doesn't have to follow any rules! He'll give love where He feels like it! It's like telling a Mac truck he has to stay in his lane in a sharp curve... if he wants to cross... he's gonna cross... and you better get out of the way. Ha ha.
- The point is, God doesn't have to have boundaries. He's big enough and powerful enough that He can do whatever He wants... but He puts boundaries on Himself through His word so that nobody gets hurt. Just like the truck stays on his side of the road so he doesn't hurt you.
- So God chooses where and when to show mercy. We can't decide that we want it, and we can't work to deserve it. It's not our decision if we get eternal life and salvation or not. We can't suddenly decide that we want God's mercy in our lives... we can decide that... but we have to ask for it. We can't take if from Him. He chooses when to give it, and He gives freely when asked.
- Acts 2:38-40
- Ephesians 2:1-10
- Are you showing compassion where Christ would show compassion?
- Are you trying to give God rules to follow? Are you dictating what God will and will not do in your life? Or in the lives around you?
- God puts people where He wants them. If you have a skill set and are in a place to use it to further His kingdom... He put you there.
- It says God chooses who to show mercy to and whose hearts to harden so that they don't listen to Him.
- footnote: “Hardening is like a callus or like the tough bone fibers that bridge a fracture. Spiritual hardening begins with self-sufficiency, security in one's self, and self-satisfaction. The real danger is that at some point, repeated resistance to God will yield an actual inability to respond, which the Bible describes as a hardened heart. Insensitivity indicates advanced hardening. Warning signs:
- Disobedience: Pharaoh's willful disobedience led to his hardened heart. (Exodus 4:21)
- Rebellion or discontent: Suffering or discomfort can create an attitude that blames God. (Deuteronomy 8:6-14)
- Having wealth and prosperity: taking God's blessings for granted can cause us to feel as if they were owed to us. (Psalm 95:8)
- Rejecting a deserved rebuke: Rejecting God's gift makes our neck stiff and our heart hard. (Proverbs 29:1)
- Refusing to listen: Leads to a loss of spiritual hearing. (Zechariah 7:11-13)
- Failing to respond.: Listening to God with no intention of obeying produces an inability to obey. (Matthew 13:11-15)”
- footnote: “Paul quotes from Exodus 9:16, where God foretold how Pharaoh would be used to declare God's power. Paul uses this argument to show that salvation was God's work, not people's. God's judgment on Pharaoh's choice to resist God was to confirm that sin and harden his heart. The consequences of Pharaoh's rebellion would be his own punishment.”
- Jeremiah 4:3-4
- Have you hardened your heart to the things God wants from you? Are you being disobedient (doing what you want rather than what God wants) just to maintain control in your life?
- Have you stopped listening to God? Or are you being a Jonah and trying to run from something God wants you to do and in effect hardening your heart to the things of God?
- Paul asks then “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven't they simply done what He makes them do?” Good grief people... God didn't make Pharaoh turn away... but He didn't go chase him down and force him to do what He wanted either... We still have a choice in this. And God can choose whether or not to show mercy... but I think He's already proven that He has and will through the sacrifice of Christ.
- Who are you to argue with God? The painting doesn't turn to the painter and tell him to add some more blue to the right corner, nor should we ask God why He made us the way He did. If God left some blue out of our painting, there was a reason for it. Ha ha
- God uses willing vessels. He has just as much right to use you, as not. It depends on your willings.
- footnote: “With this illustration, Paul is not saying that some of us are worth more than others, but that the Creator has control over the created object. The created object, therefore, has no right to demand anything from its Creator—its very existence depends on Him. Keeping this perspective removes any temptation to have pride in personal achievement.”
- I Corinthians 15:1-11
- Isaiah 29:15-16, 64:8-9
- Are you a willing vessel? Are you trying to tell the potter how you wish to be shaped?
- God has the right to show us His anger. We mess up all the time. We are not fit to use sometimes. But God in His mercy is patient. It is very much like the child who doesn't understand that it's not a bad thing to use a marker on the walls. You let them color in a coloring book, you encourage them to draw, you let them create... and then when they color and draw and create in a big way on the walls of your home, there is anger. But it doesn't mean the child gets kicked out of the house or that the parent doesn't love them anymore. It just means that they need further instruction on boundaries.
- In much the same way, God teaches us how we are to live. And we still go outside the boundaries He has set. And instead of kicking us out of the family or disowning us, He shows mercy and yet again teaches us the same lesson.
- The difference is in the child who colors on the walls out of spite or anger. Deliberately gets the permanent marker and draws over as much as they can just to make you angry or just to assert their independence.
- If we continually turn our backs on what God wants to do for us and in us, we won't survive His wrath. Eventually He will let us do whatever it is we want to do. He will allow our hearts to harden against His voice and against His leading. In effect, we condemn ourselves to an eternity without God through our disobedience.
- Verse 23 explains why God takes His time with us. It says “He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom He shows mercy...” Remember the story of the prodigal son? The son who stayed, was obedient, and so on... he expected to be deserving of his father's bounty. But the prodigal. Wow... He left, took his father for granted, ran away to do his own thing... and when he came BACK. Wow. All of the things that he took for granted, suddenly were so precious to him. He came back begging to get just a little, and his father took him back as a full son. A full heir.
- When God is patient “with those on whom His anger falls”, it's like the prodigal son. He doesn't do it just so that we can be a part of the family... When God takes you back into the family, it's so you understand it better and you can appreciate it more. Your heart, will respond to what God is doing in your life more. It will seem so much more precious to you who have known what it is was to be without God's grace and mercy, than to those who never left.
- I Timothy 1:12-19
- I Corinthians 15:33-34
- Do you feel His Grace today?
- Do you feel His love?
- Do you know that God did EVERYTHING just so He could show you love? Just so you could be with Him? And He did it ALL so that He wouldn't HAVE to condemn you to a Christ-less eternity.
- What are you doing with God's gift to you?
- Are you taking God's grace for granted?
- vs. 24-29
- We are selected from both the Jews and the Gentiles to be given God's mercy.
- He called the Jews His people in the Old testament. But also in the OT in Hosea, He said He would call those who weren't His people into His family and that He would love them. Who's He talking about? US! The Gentiles. The rest of the world!
- God called the Jews, then He sent out a worldwide call to any and all who would hear.
- In vs. 27, God said the people of Israel were as numerous as the sand, but only a few would be saved. Judgment will be carried out and only a few will be left.
- Why? Why would God say that only a few would be saved after He just said that He had called EVERYONE!?
- Because of unbelief. Because Israel refused to follow God.
- Even though the Gentiles were not at that time following God, they were made right with God through faith.
- But the people who were trying to make themselves right through the law, rather than through faith, never succeeded. They didn't make themselves right with God.
- Christ was a stumbling block placed in the way. They had followed the law for generations, looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. But Christ didn't match up with who they thought the Messiah would be.
- They thought He was going to be a great King, mighty on earth. Someone who would come and conquer the Roman Empire. Someone who would take over with military rule and crush anyone who got in the way.
- So Israel stumbled. They didn't see the big picture.
- footnote: “The “great rock” they stumbled over was Jesus. The Jews did not believe in Him because He didn't meet their expectations for the Messiah. Some people still stumble over Christ because salvation by faith doesn't make sense to them. They think they must earn their way to God, or perhaps God will simply overlook their sins. Others stumble over Christ because His values are the opposite of the world's. He asks for humility, and many are unwilling to humble themselves before Him. He requires obedience, and many refuse to put their wills at His disposal.”
- I Peter 3:18-22, 4:1-11
- Jeremiah 3:11-25, 4:1-2
- Have you stumbled over this rock, or have you chosen to build your life on it?