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Let God Be God
Election from Romans 9:1-33
Open your Bibles to Romans 9–take the outline in your bulletin, as I invite you to worship a God who is bigger than you.
Today is not specifically about sin–that was Romans 1 to 3. Or salvation in chapters 3 to 5, nor sanctification in chapters 6-8, but chapter 9 begins a discussion of God’s sovereignty, and particularly the difficult concept of election. Are you ready for some extreme craziness? What do I mean? You’ve heard of the X-games? Well, today is the X-sermon. Why?
1 So you can get the full picture, I will cover an entire chapter to clearly see an incredible picture of God’s sovereign election.
2 We’re entering into a debate that has raged for centuries. Did God choose me, or did I choose Him? And if He chose me, then why didn’t He choose everyone? What does the Bible actually teach?
3 We’re going to see a picture of God that is far beyond our understanding–it will be like leaning over the edge of the Grand Canyon and looking straight down. He will be awesome, frightening and immeasurable.
4 We will discover God’s direction for Israel and our church. How is Israel God’s people, yet they do not follow Christ? Did God not keep His promises to His chosen people?
Paul tackles these questions in Romans 9. But how does chapter 9 fit into Romans? When you read this letter, it seems better to put Romans 8 right next to Romans 12. Then why this section on Israel in Romans 9, 10 and 11? Two major answers . . .
There is a personal reason: Paul was considered a traitor to the Jewish nation. He ministered to Gentiles and taught freedom from the Law of Moses. He had preached in many synagogues and caused trouble. No doubt, many of the Jewish believers in Rome had heard about his questionable reputation. So in these chapters, Paul demonstrates his love for Israel, and describes his desire for their salvation.
Then there is a doctrinal reason: Paul told us at the end of Romans 8 the believer is secure in Christ, and God’s election will stand from eternity past to eternity future–God keeps His Word. But then someone will ask, “Hey, what about the Jews? They were chosen by God, yet now you tell us they’re set aside while Christ is building His Church? Did God fail to keep His promises to Israel?”
In other words, the very character of God is on trial here. If God wasn’t faithful to the Jews, how do we know He’ll be faithful to the Church–to me? So Paul answers these questions in Romans 9, 10 and 11, giving each chapter an unique emphasis (see the chart).
Most of all, these three chapters are about the character of God. Is God faithful, just, righteous, merciful and gracious? He is–but you will also find Him today transcendent and sovereign.
Let me warn you–my job is to explain the text of Romans 9 as simply as I can. But my job is not to make God appear simple, because He’s not–He is intimate, personal, yet beyond our understanding. So I invite you to join the debate Christians have argued for centuries, to see a description of God that will frighten you, and to understand the direction of God for His people. Let God be God, and . . .
#1 Pray for the Right Heart Verses 1 to 5 What is that?
First A Passionate Heart for the Lost Verses 1 to 3
Notice the last two verses of chapter 8:28, 29, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, … nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul builds to a great crescendo in Romans 8. Paul’s soaring–absolutely nothing can separate me from the love of God. Paul is flying here. But when you come to Romans 9, there’s a dramatic change in moods. As Paul begins the first two verses of Chapter 9, he is very low. Look at Romans 9:1, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit [the conscience is neutral, it must have a guide–the Holy Spirit and the Word of God guide the believer’s conscience], 2 that I have great sorrow [heaviness] and unceasing grief [continual torment] in my heart.”
Wow–what happened? He went from mountaintop to valley in one verse. What caused Paul to be in anguish? And why does he make certain we know he’s not lying? Why? He’s concerned about the salvation of the Israelites. Paul is a Jew whose heart was breaking for the salvation of his fellow Jews. He was extremely passionate.
In a random survey of Olympic athletes, they were asked one question. “If you could take a drug that would guarantee you a world record, but shortly thereafter would take your life–would you take it?” Ready? Sixty percent said, “Yes!” Are you that passionate about anything?
Just for a moment imagine this. What if there were a contract from God Himself, that if signed by you would guarantee the salvation of your entire family and all your friends, but if agreed to you’d have to spend eternity in Hell in exchange. Would you sign it? You say, “That’s ridiculous.” No, it’s not, for if such a thing existed, the apostle Paul would have signed it. Look at verse 3, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, [meaning sent to Hell] separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
Paul didn’t betray his own people, like many accused him of. Paul loved his fellow countrymen, even though they rejected Christ. His heart is breaking for them–so much so, Paul says he’d be willing to go to Hell if it could put the rest of the Jews in Heaven. Now that’s compassion.
The previous verses say nothing can separate us from the love of God, but Paul says he’d be willing to be separated from God by eternal punishment in Hell if it could get his people, the Israelites, into Heaven (I am not lying). Paul isn’t teaching a theological truth here–he’s not saying you can take someone’s place in Hell. But Paul is showing us his evangelistic fervor. Paul had a passionate heart to reach his people who were lost.
What are you passionate about? What really drives you? When people describe you, what do they say turns your crank? Really, what would your spouse say, kids, parents or best friends? And here is the capper–would it have anything to do with Christ? Paul’s passion was to reach the lost with the good news of Christ.
What’s that? That by faith alone Jesus can, on the basis of His sacrifice on the cross, rescue you from eternal punishment for your sins, give you an abundant life now, and eternal life forever with Him. He can turn an empty unsatisfied heart into a heart of great satisfaction. Paul’s passion was the same passion Christ had—right? Jesus did die to save us, Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Evangelism is the sob of God over the lost–and for the Christian, a broken heart for lost souls. I know you want that heart, so try this–every time you go into a social setting, at work, at Starbucks, at school, with sports do this. Imagine where each one there is headed eternally until it breaks your heart. Then seek to serve or sacrifice for them, praying that God would open an opportunity to share the Gospel with them. But Paul not only had a passionate heart, he also had . . .
Second A Respectful Heart for All People, even the lost Verses 4 to 5
Paul honored his countrymen, even though they were lost and destined for Hell without Christ. Paul wants the Jewish Christians in Rome to know he’s not a traitor, nor a Jew-hater, but a man with a loving heart of respect for his own people. Paul shows his respect for his lost Jewish people by recalling eight special advantages they received because they were God’s chosen people.
Verse 3 to 5 again, “from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the [temple] service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers [AND notice the greatest advantage of the JEW at the end of verse 5] and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”
The greatest blessing of the Jews is they were given the privilege of being the race where the Messiah would come from. The Savior of the world, Jesus, was in Abraham’s line–a Jew. Do you respect those without Christ? Here is the test. Do you spend more time criticizing those without Christ (their politics, their morals) OR do you spend more time praying for them and focusing on how to reach them for Christ?
So how do you let God be God? Pray for a respectful and passionate heart for the lost. Why? Because that’s God’s heart. Luke 19:41, “When He [Jesus] approached, He saw the city and wept over it.” You and I won’t let God be God unless we have His heart for people, and hurt with Him over lost people. If you do, then you will be able to . . .
#2 Trust in God to Always Keep His Promises Verses 6 to 33
You can bank on God’s promises–but Paul? How come the promises God made to Israel don’t look like they’re being kept? How can I trust God to keep His promises to Me (to save me), when Israel isn’t saved and God made promises to them?
Paul says here, don’t doubt God’s promises to you or to Israel, even though Israel is not following Christ. How can I trust Paul? Because you need to understand God’s promises are based on God’s plan. God’s plan is based upon God’s perfect character, and God’s character includes sovereign election. The Jews are not following Christ because God failed, but because . . .
First Salvation is by God’s Election, not Man’s Selection Verses 6 to 13
Listen, we all know–not everyone who goes to church is saved. Not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is born again. Not everyone born in a Christian family goes to Heaven. And not everyone born a Jew is a true Israelite–not everyone who’s a physical descendent of Abraham is a child of God. Why?
1 God Saves by Grace, not Race Verses 6 to 7
Look carefully at verses 6 to 7, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed [God keeps His promises]. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: ‘through Isaac your descendants will be named.’” On what basis did God choose Israel? Why did he pick out the nation of Israel? Because they were bigger, more intelligent, better looking–why?
Paul will tell us several reasons. And in verses 6 to 7 he reminds us it’s not because of their race, but because of His grace. The reason why the Jews are not following Christ is cause they thought they were already saved because their parents were Jewish. But Paul says not all physical Israelites are true heirs of the promise. Just because you have Jewish parents doesn’t automatically make you a child of God.
Aren’t you glad you’re not saved because of your heritage? What if God had said, “Only Italians, only Asians, only Texans!” I wouldn’t have made it. It’s not race, but it’s grace. Read with me Romans 2:28 and 29, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit.”
What makes you a child of God is not external symbols, but the internal transformation of the heart. Racial Israel is made up of unbelieving Jews and believing Jews. But spiritual Israel is made up of believing Jews and believing Gentiles. Real Israel is not Israel of flesh, but true Israel is one of faith. So what’s Paul saying? You’re saved by faith, not your family. You don’t inherit salvation–salvation is based on God’s grace, not race.
God keeps His promises—how do we know? One, sovereign election is not by race, but by His grace. And . . .
2 God Saves by Promise, not Preference Verses 8 to 9
Paul asks, “Do you remember how it was for Ishmael and Isaac?” in verses 8 and 9, “That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is a word of promise: ‘At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.’”
Paul had their attention by using Abraham as an illustration, so he asks them to recall Genesis 21, God’s promise not preference. Sarah couldn’t get pregnant, so she said to Abe, “Take my handmaiden, Hagar, and have a baby through her.” So Abe had a son, Ishmael, through Hagar. But Ishmael was not the son of promise. So thirteen years later, Abe is one hundred years old, Sarah is in her nineties, and God gives them the son of promise, the miracle baby, Isaac.
They named him “Laughter”, because Sarah didn’t believe they’d have a son when they were so old. If they had believed God, they would have cried, having a baby at age ninety. So here is Isaac–Joke Boy, Laugh Man, the joke’s on us. God said to Abe, “I’m going to make you the father of a great nation.” So Abe said, “What about Ishmael? He’ll do just fine.” But God said, “No, he may be your preference, but he’s not the child of promise. He was born by your efforts, not by My choosing. He may be your selection but he is not My election. The miracle promise baby is Isaac, and he’s the one who’s going to be the father of many nations.”
Paul clarifies, salvation is not based upon my preferences, my efforts, my decisions, but based upon God’s promise. Salvation is based upon God’s election, not man’s selection. That means God has kept His promises to Abraham, since true spiriual Israel is being saved, even though most of racial Israel is not following Christ. But you’re not convinced, so Paul adds . . .
3 God saves by Providence, not Performance Verses 10 to 13
Now using the example of Jacob and Esau, Paul says in verses 10 to 13, “And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ 13 Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”
This proof is even stronger than the last one. Not only is salvation based upon God’s choice, but it is based upon God’s choice before we are even born before we’d done anything good or bad. In other words, God does not merely look ahead to see who’ll choose Him or live good, then He selects them. No, but before we are born, Ephesians 1:4 says, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Before creation, God chose who would be saved.
Genesis 25ff tells us the story of the twins, Jacob and Esau. Esau was born first and was traditionally supposed to receive all the firstborn birthright privileges. But God said, “No, I pick Jacob.” Why, God? How did you come to the decision to pick Jacob? Because Jacob was more righteous than Esau? No–because Jacob was a man of great integrity? Hardly. Because Jacob would submit to God so easily? He wrestled with God. No, verses 10 to 13 say, “No I picked him before he was even born.” Why? So it would not be because of Jacob or Esau, their good character or bad character, nor their good deeds or bad deeds, but God says only because of my purpose, my choice–so that my call might stand alone as the reason.
There are some who think that before creation God looked ahead and chose those who would respond to Him. But Paul destroys that thinking here. God chose Jacob before he was born, to point out He doesn’t save anybody on the basis of their works, their performance or what they do. God says, “I make my choice because of my own providence–my own perfectly wise decision.
Verse 11 says, “It is not by works,” just like Ephesians 2:8 to 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, 9 not as a result of works.” No one can be saved by their works, or their faith, but only by God’s gift of faith to us, His choice to call. Can you imagine what heaven would be like if people could be saved by working for it? Everyone would be bragging on how they got there. I got here cause I gave $10,000 to Kiss the Kitties for Christ. Well I got here cause I attended a solid church.
Paul says, “Here’s an example of where I chose one man and decided to use him before he was even born just to prove salvation is not based on working hard or living good.” Both Jacob and Esau were fallen in Adam–both were guilty of sin, therefore both deserved God’s wrath for sin. Paul’s point is, one was chosen, one was not–yet both were descendants of Israel.
Ishmael and Isaac were sons of Abraham, but one was chosen, the other rejected. Isaac’s twin sons were descendants of Abraham, yet God cut off Esau, while He blessed Jacob–not because of them, but in order to demonstrate His purpose in election. In other words, God’s choice doesn’t depend on man’s will or our belief, but rests solely on God Himself.
Look at verse 13. You know what bothers me about this verse? Not “Esau I hated”–(I don’t have a problem with that, because God should hate all of us for our rebellious sin). But I struggle with “Jacob I loved,” because if you know anything about Jacob, he was one of the most unlovable people there was. He was a scoundrel, a cheat, a swindler, insecure, he took advantage of people–just the kind of person I would not want to be around. But God says—“Jacob I loved.”
But if God could love Jacob, then He can love me. I don’t have to be perfect for Him to love me, or pretend to be spiritual–but I can be honest and transparent because God says, “Chris Mueller have I loved.” Christ’s love is unconditional. It isn’t based on my ability to earn it or deserve it. Salvation is based solely upon God’s choice–God is keeping His promises to spiritual Israel.
Now I know what you’re thinking–this feels unfair. Not all Israel is saved, because God only chooses some. Not all people today are saved, because God only chooses some. That’s unfair. No its not–why? Because God says so.
Second Sovereign Election is not Unfair Verses 14 to 23
Paul anticipates what you and I will be thinking, so in verse 14 he says, “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!” (No, no, a thousand times no, God forbid, NO, never, stop thinking that. Amen?) Never think God is unjust. “But–I have questions.” So Paul says, “Questions are good; what are they?” Well one, since God is sovereign, two questions . . .
1 Isn’t it unfair for God to show mercy to one, but not to another? Verses 15 to 18
Paul says no, and let me give you two reasons why–two answers, A and B.
REASON A God has the right to be merciful to whomever He chooses Verses 15 to 16
“For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, [puts out effort/pursues] but on God who has mercy.” God has the right to show compassion and mercy to anyone He chooses, even when no one deserves it.
When God spoke these words to Moses in Exodus 32:32, Israel had just been worshipping the golden calf, committing the serious sins of idolatry and immorality. Exodus 32:6, “So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play [describing a drunken orgy].”
God wanted to kill them all and just start over with Moses. But Moses interceded for them, and God decided He’d be merciful, even though they all deserved eternal punishment in the face of God’s holiness. He’s God–therefore if He chooses to be merciful, He can be merciful. But look at verse 16–God had compassion upon Israel not because they willed (verse 16) by human resolve to receive His mercy, or ran after God pursuing Him with effort and energy, or deserved God’s mercy. But Israel received mercy only because God willed to be merciful to them.
In your outline, God saves us on the basis of mercy, not merit. Titus says in 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Paul’s point is clear–God is not unfair by being merciful to men. Since no one deserves mercy, but all deserve judgment for our sins–when God gives some of the unrighteous the gift of righteousness, God isn’t being unfair but merciful and compassionate.
When I was in India, there were thousands of crippled beggars everywhere I went. Was it wrong for me to help some but not all? No! Then is it unfair for God to help some who don’t deserve nor want His help? No! Salvation doesn’t depend on man’s merit, but on God’s mercy. If it weren’t for God’s mercy, none of us would make it. If we had to be good enough to get to God, we’d have to be as good as God, and none of us are even close. So it’s not unfair for God to show mercy to one but not to another, because . . .
REASON B God has the right to display His character as He wills Verses 17 to 18
Look at verses 17 to 18 and the example of Pharaoh, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, [God raised Pharaoh upon the scene of world history, why?] to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name [all of who God is] might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.’ 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”
The Lord of all history put Pharaoh into a position of authority in order to demonstrate God’s greater power and authority so the conflict with Pharaoh would bring glory to God’s name all over the planet. Compare Moses in verses 15 and 16 to Pharaoh in verse 17.
Moses was a Jew, Pharaoh was a Gentile, yet both were sinners. Both were murderers and both witnessed God’s miracles. Yet Moses was redeemed and Pharaoh was not. God raised up Pharaoh in order to reveal His own power, and God had mercy on Moses to use him to show mercy to His people Israel. Why? God has the right to display His character as He chooses.
God is merciful to those He chooses, and hardens (literally makes stubborn and obstinate) whom He chooses. Exodus tells us God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but the Bible also tells us Pharaoh hardened his own heart as well, displaying his own sinful heart and confirming God’s action. God is sovereign, yet man is still responsible.
But I can hear you asking, “Chris, I have a second question.” So Paul answers it in verse 19, “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’”
2 Isn’t it unfair for God to hold people responsible for their actions? Verses 20 to 23
If everything depends on God’s sovereignty, what happens to my responsibility? How can I be accountable if God pulls all the strings and I don’t have anything to do with my salvation? How can God even blame me for anything if it’s totally up to Him and I have no choice? Chapter 10 is about responsibility. Paul responds two ways–to answers A and B.
Response A It’s irreverent for the creature to criticize the Creator Verses 20 to 21
“On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?”
Wow! In modern language, Paul says, “Don’t talk back to God. Who are you, human, to tell your Creator what to do?” People have no right to attack God, or accuse Him of being unjust. Anyone who does has too low a view of God and too high a view of themselves. We’re the creatures–we owe our existence to God. We are frail, our knowledge is limited, we are sinful, our understanding is limited to the physical world. We live for only a few short years. When we accuse God, we only show how finite, foolish, wicked and depraved we really are.
Paul reminds us God is the potter and we’re the clay. The clay has no more right to accuse the potter than do the bunk beds I made for the boys have the right to say, “I don’t like what you’re using me for.” Listen, you bunks–I made you, and if I choose to use you as a bed for my boys, or grandchildren someday, or as a decoration, or as firewood for my purposes it is my choice. I made you.
It is God who determines whether I am a common Pharaoh or an honorable Moses. This is getting heavy, but remember–we can’t fully understand God’s sovereign election. It can only be embraced in faith, acknowledging its truth simply because God has revealed it to be true in the Word of God. The Bible teaches us that we deserve Hell for our sins. We’re helpless and hopeless to save ourselves.
God elects some of humanity to be His children–then in time awakens our hearts causing us to be born again, so we can actually respond to Him in faith and repentance. Then from that new heart enjoy intimacy with Him, and be able to live obediently to His Word. But why did God do it? To convince us God is not unfair.
Response B Both the lost and the saved put God’s character on display Verses 22 to 23
“What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.”
God will always be consistent with His character. You see, in dealing with His sinful creatures by punishing some and pardoning others, God is doing nothing unjust, for both vessels serve His highest goal, displaying God’s character and bringing Him glory. The punishing of the vessels of wrath displays God’s displeasure, anger, holiness and power, and the pardoning of the vessels of mercy displays God’s compassion, love and grace.
In the Greek, I believe the phrase prepared for destruction in verse 22 is middle. God is not the one preparing people for destruction. The middle voice means they prepared themselves by their own rejection of Christ. But in verse 23, “prepared beforehand for glory” is active voice, meaning it’s God himself who elects and saves. God called the saved and allowed the lost to display His character.
We’d never understand God’s holiness or wrath if He had not allowed sin. And we’d never know God’s grace if He had not been merciful to some. Paul says, “Let God be God.” He has the right to be merciful to some, even when everyone deserves His wrath—let God be God.
God is sovereign, but you’re responsible to obey the Word of God. You’re to teach your young children obedience, and show them the consequences of disobedience. The Bible tells you how to do this before Christ, so they realize how much they need Christ. Romans 9 teaches God is sovereign–Romans 10 teaches you are responsible. So let God be God. His Word has not failed Israel nor us, because all whom God has elected to salvation are or will be saved. That’s not only not unfair, but it is actually incredibly good news.
So first, salvation is by sovereign election, not man’s selection, verses 6 to 13. Then second, sovereign election is not unfair, verses 14 to 23. And now . . .
Third Sovereign Election has been Extended to Some of the Gentiles Verse 24
“Even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” How do we know that Paul? God previously revealed not all Israel would be saved, and some Gentiles would be saved. So Paul now says this was . . .
1 As prophesied in the Old Testament Verses 25 to 29
Paul quotes two Old Testament prophets–Hosea and Isaiah. Hosea was the prophet who protected Gomer, even during her harlotry, even buying her back as a slave on the block in the open market, naked and full of shame. Just like that God will one day redeem Israel, but until that day Hosea says in verse 25 and 26, “I will call those who were not My people, My people, and her who was not beloved, beloved. 26 And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them You are not My people, there they shall be called sons of the living God.”
Hosea predicted God would save Gentiles and make them His sons–that’s us, the church of the living God. God told us He elected Gentiles in the Old Testament, plus Isaiah predicted that even though Israel as a nation would reject Christ, there’d be a small group of true Jewish believers who would believe in the one true Messiah. They’re called the remnant and described in verse 27 to 29, “And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, ‘Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly.’ 29 And just as Isaiah foretold, ‘Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity. We would have overcome Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.’” (Meaning, had God not graciously saved a remnant, then Israel would have been utterly destroyed like Sodom.) Finally, we know God’s sovereign election includes some Gentiles.
2 As seen by the response of the Gentiles and the unresponsiveness of Israel Verses 30 to 33
The other side of God’s sovereign election is man’s responsibility. Notice how Paul teaches it here without any apology or conflict. Simply–God chooses, man must believe.
Fact #1 The Gentiles found God’s righteousness by faith Verse 30
“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith.” The ungodly Gentiles who didn’t put any effort in their pursuit of living righteous found God’s righteousness, which only comes by faith in Christ. But . . .
Fact #2 The Jews tried to earn their righteousness by works Verse 31 to 33
“But Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.” Godly Jews, who put great effort in trying to live righteous, missed God’s righteousness because they tried to work for it, but never could live perfect.
As James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” Why did they miss it? Because they tripped–they stumbled over Jesus Christ! Look at the end of verse 32 and 33, “They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’”
The Jews missed their own Messiah because He did the work for them. They tried to live good enough to please God, but only Christ can live good enough to please God. Therefore we must have the righteousness of Christ–but you can’t work for that. Every other religion, including Judaism, says work hard and live good. Look at the end of verse 33—“Christianity,” Jesus says, “believe, and I’ll live good through you, and you will not be disappointed.” Amen?
There are only two kinds of people in the world–those that stumble over Jesus, and those who stand upon Jesus by faith alone. God elects and you respond–you share, God saves. God is in control, you pray. God directs you, you obey His Word. Do you get it? Let’s see . . .
One Election forces us to see God for who He is
The picture of God from Romans 9 is awesome and frightening. God has the right to do whatever He wants–He’s not on trial. We don’t have to figure Him all out. The fact is, if God were small enough for me to figure out everything about Him, He wouldn’t be big enough to provide salvation. God is bigger than you. He is beyond our complete understanding. Somebody once said, “You can lose your soul denying the sovereignty of God, but you can lose your mind trying to understand the sovereignty of God.”
God is ultimately sovereign in life, yet I’m responsible in life. And God is going to hold you and I accountable. Have you submitted to Him? Turn to Christ from sin, surrender your life to the sovereign King–do it today.
Two Election is a motive and comfort in evangelism
God has not only chosen people, but also has chosen the means by which He will bring salvation to them. The message of the Gospel is to be proclaimed by people, like you and me. I don’t have to win people intellectually, or move people emotionally–the task of evangelism is, I am to be the obedient instrument in the hands of a sovereign God, whose saving power goes forth through the medium of the foolishness of preaching Christ and the cross by the weakest beings.
You don’t win anyone to Christ, but you do get to share and watch God perform the greatest miracle that can occur in a person–that God would use you, as He causes someone to be born again. It’s God’s responsibility to save, its our responsibility to rave.
Three Worship knowing God is sovereign, and minister knowing you’re responsible
I worship like a Calvinist, but I minister like an Arminian. I know God is in control, and I worship Him for His saving grace. But I also know He holds me accountable, and that this life is all I have in order to serve Him and display Him to this world. He gave me the gift of faith, so now I serve Him with dependent works. He predestined good works for me to accomplish. So I praise Him for saving me, and I labor in dependence upon the Spirit by the Word of God to serve Him until I see Him face to face. I cringe at the thought of squandering God’s selection of me. How about you?