This past weekend I preached on Romans 9:14-29 “God’s Unfailing Word: Part 2” at Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville. You can listen to the audio here. The main point is that God’s Word has not failed. But in this sermon I also addressed the topics of election, predestination, and double predestination–and it was Mother’s Day!
Romans 9:14-29 “God’s Unfailing Word: Part 2”
Intro: There are many questions that cause people to struggle with the Christian faith.
-Today: Problem of suffering; Science and Faith; injustices done in name of Christianity; hell; exclusivity of Christianity
-Paul’s time: If gospel is fulfillment of OT, why have most of Israel refused to believe? Has God’s Word failed?
-Paul doesn’t ignore the objection, but deals with it head on in Romans 9-11
-He helps us think through the question and in the end our own faith is strengthened
-God’s Word has NOT failed.
-In ch 9-11, Paul unpacks 3 main ways to consider the question about Israel’s unbelief
-Last Week: Beginning of 1st answer:
Even though majority of Israel has not believed, God’s Word and promises to save Israel HAVE NOT FAILED! This is because not all ethnic Israel is true or spiritual Israel. Only those who are elected by God to this.
-This week: Paul continues this argument.
-First, Paul addresses two objections to the doctrine of election
-Second, Paul quotes OT prophecy to show what is happening was actually predicted in the OT
-We are to see this: God’s word has not failed; God’s Word is unfailing!
*Follow Paul’s argument: 1st, Two objections to election are dealt with; 2nd, Paul shows OT predicted what is happening.
I. Objections to Election Addressed (9:14-23)
Election: God, in grace and love, chooses some to be saved to eternal life. They are chosen not based on any conditions of them: not chosen because of their future good works, future faith, or anything in them. God chooses some out of his infinitely wise and good purposes which he has not chosen to reveal to us. All who are chosen are truly part of God’s people and will be saved.
-Remember Paul’s argument: God has elected a people, both from the Jews and Gentiles, which means we should NOT expect every single Jewish (or Gentile) person to believe, but only those whom God has chosen.
-People struggled with the doctrine of election in Paul’s time
-People TODAY struggle with the doctrine of election (non-Christian AND Christians [me as a young Christian])
-Here, Paul deals with two objections to election.
OBJECTION #1: It is not fair that God chooses some (9:14-18)-Objection stated (14a) What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part?
-Is God unjust because he chooses some?
-ANSWER given (14b) By no means!
-ANSWER EXPLAINED (15-17)
–God has the right to choose whom he will show mercy and compassion upon (15)
-Quote from Exodus 33:19 (Israel had received mercy after gold calf incident)
-God owes no one mercy; because of sin we all deserve condemnation. Yet he graciously shows mercy to some
–It depends ENTIRELY upon God who will receive mercy (16)
-“depends not on human will or exertion” =not on our faith or good works
-“depends…on God, who has mercy”= God’s sovereign grace. God has ULTIMATE say.
-God also has a purpose for those who do not receive his mercy (17)
-Pharaoh was insolent opponent of God and God’s people (Ex 5:2)
-God’s “very purpose” = “I have raised you up so that…”
-Good purpose: “I might show my power in you” = Plagues and deliverance of Israel
-Continued: “My name might be proclaimed in all the earth” =God’s glory!
*REMINDER: This world and life is not about us, but God and His good purposes and glory. It is his story, not ours.
-This humbles us, but also points us to a glory far greater than any human glory
-We were made for the glory of the INFINITE God, who is light and love.
-REITERATION: God is the who decides who will receive mercy and who will be hardened (18)
-Notice “whomever he wills”= God DECIDES! Ultimately, He has is the one who choose who will be saved.
–Will receive mercy…or…hardens =DOUBLE PREDESTINATION: God chooses the eternal destiny of all -“To harden” is to confirm in the sinfulness a person already has.
*MOO: “God’s hardening is an act directed against human beings who are already in rebellion against God’s righteous rule. God’s hardening does not, then, cause spiritual insensitivity to the things of God; it maintains people in the state of sin that already characterizes them.”
-SUMMARY: God is not unjust to show mercy on whomever He wills. He is GOD and any mercy received by any is utterly undeserved. Furthermore, God uses those who are hardened for His good purposes too.
OBJECTION #2: It is not right for God to condemn those who reject him, since they are not elect (9:19-23)
-Objection stated (19): 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
-If non-elect are just doing what they are predestined to, why does God find fault? Who can ultimately resist God’s will?
-This is a TOUGH objection!
-Paul does not back down what he said. But also, his answer may not be what we like:
-Answer given (20-21): We really have no right to arrogantly criticize God’s ways
-Arrogance of a human criticizing God (20a)
-Absurdity of mold criticizing molder (20b)
-Absolute right of the Potter over the clay (21)
-Some vessels for honorable use “elect” and some for dishonorable use “reprobate”
-God’s Purpose in predestining some to destruction (22-23)
-“Vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (22b)
-Made for the purpose of showing his wrath and making known his power (22b)
-God endures them with much patience (22c)
-In order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy (23a)
-Which are prepared beforehand for glory (23b)
-MAIN POINT in 22-23: God has a good purpose in predestining some to destruction
-Scripture teaches BOTH God’s sovereign choice over all who will be saved AND Real Human Responsibility
-No one is “forced” or “coerced” into sin.
-Everyone who goes to hell deserves to go to hell.
-Gospel offer “All who believe will be saved” is REAL and not an illusion!
-For God to elect ANY to salvation is an act of sheer grace & mercy, since all are fallen in Adam and deserve condemnation.-App: Election is not a doctrine to scoff at, but believe in and adore God for.
-We don’t have to full understand it (like Trinity, Hypostatic Union), but Scripture calls us to confess it.
II. OT Prophecies Confirm the Current Situation (9:24-29)
9:14-23 is described as a parenthesis by commentators. Now, Paul continues the argument he started back in 9:6-13, which is this: God’s word has NOT failed, even though a vast majority of Israel has experienced God’s salvation offered to us in Christ the Messiah. The reason it has not failed is that not all ethnic Israel belongs to true or spiritual Israel. Only the elect.
-Paul gives 3 sets of prophecies which show what is happening was foretold in Scripture.
1 HOSEA Predicted God’s People would be made up of Jews and Gentiles (24-26)
-Paul now speaks about the “vessels of mercy,” who are the elect of God, chosen by God to be saved (24a)
-The people of God are made up of Jews and Gentiles (24b) -This was a shocking truth for Jews to hear, but Paul shows us it was predicted in Hosea
-Hosea predicted this would take place (25-26)
-“I will call…” (God is calling a people to Himself from Gentiles and Jewish people)
-“they will be called “sons of the living God”
-Brought into the family of God and saved.
-Paul wants us to see that what has happened is not a failure of God’s Word but a FULFILLMENT!
-“God’s Word is unfailing”
2 ISAIAH Predicted it would only be a remnant of Jews saved (27-28)
In this prophecy Paul highlights the prediction that not all who Israel would be saved, but only a “remnant”
-Though there many of them “as the sand of sea,” few would be saved “only a remnant will be saved”
-Paul shows that very few Israelites believing was predicted in the OT. -“God’s Word is unfailing”
3 It is God’s Mercy that there Remain Some from Israel Who are Saved (29)
In this last quote from Isaiah we see that it sheer mercy of God that Israel has not been completely wiped out.
-Sheer mercy “if the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring”
-It was God’s doing that some were saved
-Without God’s mercy: “we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah”
-Israel would have been completely destroyed.
-“God’s Word is unfailing”
APPLICATION: Because God’s Word is unfailing…
1. Because God’s Word is unfailing…We have fresh reasons to love and worship Him. (God is amazing)
2. Because God’s Word is unfailing… We can take comfort even when we fail much. (GOSPEL HOPE!) *Moms*
3. Because God’s Word is unfailing… We can trust what God has said about the future (heaven and hell)
-This is fresh motivation to share the gospel with those around us.
FINAL WORD: While we hold to the absolute sovereignty of God, including double predestination, we also believe that EVERYONE who believes the gospel will be saved. So, we preach it to all! And we invite all here to believe it.