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Mystery and Assurance, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
July 24, 2023 9:00 am

Mystery and Assurance, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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July 24, 2023 9:00 am

Do God’s ways often seem confusing to you? Pastor J.D. continues today’s teaching from Romans 9 to teach us how trusting in the mystery of God’s wisdom and his goodness to save us gives us assurance that he will finish the work he has started in us.


Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. If God is infinite in power and he's infinite in goodness, would we not also suppose that he is infinite in wisdom? If God's wisdom is as high above ours as his power is above ours, should it surprise us that there's a lot about the wisdom of God's ways that we just can't grasp yet with our relatively tiny minds? Happy Monday, and welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. A great missionary, J. Oswald Sanders, once said, What will amaze us as we look backwards from eternity is not the severity of God's justice, but the greatness of his mercy. Is anyone else thankful for that mercy right now?

I know I am. And today, Pastor J.D. explains how trusting in the mystery of God's wisdom and his goodness to save us assures us that he will finish the work that he started in us.

It's all about him. And that's great news. Let's rejoin him in Romans Chapter 9 as he finishes up our message titled Mystery and Assurance. Here's Pastor J.D. Verse 25, Paul pulls back the curtain a little farther, and he shows us how God actually had a merciful good purpose, even in allowing Israel to reject him. He says, Israel's rejection of the Messiah, by the way, that allowed us Gentiles. Gentiles just means people who aren't Jews, all the non-Jews.

It allowed us to find God. He quotes Hosea, an Old Testament prophet, his prediction of God opening up the door of salvation of the Gentiles through the rejection of the Jews. He says, as it also says in Hosea, I will call not my people, that used to be our name, not my people, she who is unloved, talking about all the Gentile nations, they'll be called beloved, and it will be in the place where they were told you are not my people, they will be called the sons of the living God.

He is saying to Israel through the prophet Hosea, all these places in the world, because you reject me, all these places in the world, like Great Britain and the United States and Africa and Asia, they're going to become my people through your rejection. Because Israel rejected Jesus, a lot of us Gentiles were able to find him a savior. That means that even Israel's rejection of Jesus ultimately served a larger, better purpose, and that was the inclusion of lost nations.

One day, Paul says, you'll see that all of God's actions had a good purpose and a good end. So the question we started with, why did Israel reject Jesus, and was that a failure on God's part? Paul's answer four ways over is no, and God was not wrong to let it happen, and God was not wrong to hold those who rejected him accountable. So why then, you asked, did Israel reject him?

Why? Notice Paul's answer, verse 31, they rejected him because they wouldn't humble themselves, they wouldn't humble themselves before the gospel. Israel pursuing the law of righteousness has not achieved the righteousness of the law. They thought they could do it by themselves, they didn't think they needed grace, they thought that Jesus was going to show up with trophies for them, but why is that? Because they didn't pursue it by faith, but as if they pursued it as if it were by works.

They stumbled over the stumbling stone, which was the gospel. Paul's answer is the Jews rejected Jesus not because God appointed it, they rejected him because they would not humble themselves and accept the gospel. They would not accept that salvation could only be by grace through faith and not because of their goodness or their efforts.

That was the big sticking point, y'all. Jesus, the Messiah, the Messiah the Jews had been waiting on all those years, he didn't show up saying that I'm here to reward you and give you a trophy for how awesome you are. He showed up saying that they and all of us had no goodness at all and could only be saved by an act of free unearned grace. They would not humble themselves to admit unless you show mercy to me for reasons that have nothing to do with me, unless you save me out of your goodness and not out of my goodness, I can never be saved. That was Jesus' central message, so they rejected him. Now, just unless you say, well, see, that proves the Jews of that day were especially bad. If you say that you've missed the whole point of Romans, all of us would reject Jesus in the exact same way unless God gave us the insight to see. That's the logic of Romans 9. So let me draw a handful of conclusions from that, okay?

This is the so what part of the message. Number one, we can't escape the sovereignty of God and salvation. You can't escape it. Some Christians who deeply love and believe the Bible, they say, well, J.D., okay, I get the logic of what you're saying, but I just can't accept that God would leave some to perish. In my view, God must always be doing everything he can to save everybody. Realize that at some point, though, you're going to have to acknowledge something about God's sovereignty, right? Right?

I mean, think of it this way. Remember how God appeared to the apostle Paul in Acts 9? Jesus appeared to him, bright light, knocks him off his horse. Paul, Paul, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?

I am Jesus. It's hard for you to kick against the good. Remember that scene?

Right? That was pretty effective, right? Why didn't Jesus do that to everybody? Why didn't he do it to somebody in every nation? He's God. He could do it if he wants to, right?

He writes the rules. Some have tried to alleviate the difficulties of God choosing some for salvation by saying that in Romans 9, Paul is only talking about a national election, as in God chose Israel. Now he's chosen the Gentiles, but he doesn't choose individual people within those groups. He just chooses big groups and then let them decide for themselves.

But honestly, does that really help? I mean, if that's the case, why didn't God elect more nations? Why not reveal the Bible in all languages to all people at the same time? Why would you only choose the Jews?

Here's a big one for me. Why would you make the church that is so consistently unreliable the only vehicle for gospel proclamation? Why not send a band of angels down to do it for us? Why not have Jesus appear in a 900 foot version of himself with one foot on Ellis Island, one foot in New York Harbor and have CNN do a live broadcast of him explaining the gospel to everybody?

I feel like that would be compelling, right? Why not? He's God. He can do whatever he wants.

You see, this approach just kind of kicks the can down the road. At some point, all of us have to admit, in our view, God could be doing more to get the gospel to people if that was his only objective. So even if it's only a national election, and I don't believe that it is, but even if it's only a national election he's talking about, the point Paul is making is the same. Giving mercy is God's free prerogative, and he owes it to nobody. Number two, this truth forces us to wrestle with whether or not we really see ourselves as truly unworthy of the gospel.

Swiss theologian and Karl Barth, he said of this passage, the more a man finds these texts to be harsh, the more he is wedded to his own righteousness. Do you deep down, do you believe that God owes you salvation? Do you really believe that you are worthy of condemnation?

You see, what I've found is that the reason we have a problem with other people getting condemnation, the reason we have a problem with other people going to hell is deep down we don't believe that we're worthy of it, and they probably aren't either. Scripture's testimony is unequivocally clear. You and I are worthy, truly, genuinely worthy to be condemned forever.

Do you really believe that down in your soul? If so, then you'll have less trouble with this truth because you'll understand that any of us knowing God at all is just an act of unimaginable grace. Number three, don't be silly and suppose that you would be more merciful than God.

And I say that because some of you even right now are saying in your heart, well, if I were in charge, I'd have done things different. But any time in Scripture, God's mercy is contrasted with ours. God comes out favorably every single time. When the human race kicked God off his throne, he responded by laying down his life.

When somebody cuts you off in traffic, you fantasize about ramming their car repeatedly with your own. The only reason that you and I would think we would do things in a kinder and better way than God is because we just don't see things clearly. That's why Paul says in verse 20, do you the created thing really think that you're in a place to lecture the creator about true goodness and love?

Where did you learn about goodness and love? Wasn't it from the creator? The created thing can't say to the creator that created it, hey, I understand goodness and love, and you're not hitting the mark.

I'm better than you. Let me remind you of what I've explained to you before. Just think about how much power it took to create the universe, right? Think about how much power it took to create our universe. We say that God is infinite in power, and he is. He'd have to be to create this universe. If God is infinite in power and he's infinite in goodness, would we not also suppose that he is infinite in wisdom?

And here's the question I always press at you. If God's wisdom is as high above ours as his power is above ours, should it surprise us that there's a lot about the wisdom of God's ways that we just can't grasp yet with our relatively tiny minds? I can assure you using the words of J. Oswald Sanders, what will amaze us as we look backwards from eternity and we see things clearly, what will amaze us is not the severity of God's justice, what will amaze us is the greatness of his mercy.

You know how I know that? Because Peter says right now, the apostle Peter says, the apostle Peter says the angels who are around God's throne, and they see things clearly. Peter says what they're amazed by is not how severe God's justice is, what they cannot get their minds around, what they long to look into is the mercy that God showed to sinful people in the gospel. That's what blows their minds.

And one day when we see what they've seen, it's what will blow our minds too. So do not be silly and suppose that you would be more merciful than God. The only way you would say that is an extreme act of foolishness and arrogance, and just not seeing things the right way.

Number four, this truth should destroy any last vestiges of pride in us. You were saved not because God saw a goodness in you that was worth saving. You were not saved because God saw a goodness in you that was worth saving. You didn't have a little good left in you, like Luke saw in his father, Darth Vader, right at the end of the first Star Wars, spoiler alert, by the way, okay?

But I see some good in you. That's not what God did with us. You didn't have some good potential, some natural ability that God knew he could work with if he could just get you back in his spiritual gym. You weren't like the guy in The Princess Bride who was only mostly dead with a little life left in you that God could fan back into flame.

For these of you that are under 40, you have no idea what I'm talking about. And that is a shame because it is an awesome movie. But you are not like the guy who's like, I'm mostly dead. You were all dead.

You were dead utterly and totally spiritually dead. You remember Romans 3 10? There are how many righteous? Not even one. There are how many who naturally seek God?

Not even one, not one. This is hard to admit and it's where many people stumble, but the human heart apart from the grace of God is so wicked and so hard. It takes a miracle of resurrection to open it. It takes a miracle to make the blind see. It takes a miracle to make the lame walk. It takes a miracle to make the dead walk out of that grave. Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature's night.

Thine eye diffused, a miraculous quickening ray. I rose because my dungeon flamed with light. My chains fell off. My soul was free. I rose, went forth and followed thee. Hallelujah, what a savior.

That destroys my pride. You see, I understand like the writer of amazing grace was grace that taught my heart to fear. I was too stupid even to know what to be afraid of. I was casual in my attitude toward God. I didn't think about God's judgment.

I didn't think about his power. I was just going through life thinking I just want to make life work. And then grace came along and said, you ought to be afraid. Towards grace that taught my heart to fear and then grace my fears relieved. It was God who worked in me both to will and to do with his good pleasure.

That means from the start to the finish and at every place along the way, salvation is all totally 100% of God. Where is pride in that scenario? My richest gain, I count but loss and poor contempt.

I despise all of my pride. Thanks for joining us today for Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at While you're there, you'll find tons of free resources like the Ask Me Anything podcast, our daily devotionals, the entire library of Summit Life broadcasts, sermon transcripts, and much more. But on top of those free resources, every month we select a premium resource for those who support this ministry. This month, we are excited to offer you the first part of a two-part Bible study through the book of Romans written by Pastor Tim Keller. This study is a great way to glean even more from our teaching series in Romans, and it's a great tool to use by yourself, with a friend, or with a small group.

We'll offer part two later this year, so don't miss out on this first volume. We'd love to send you a copy as a way to say thank you for your gift of $35 or more to this ministry, and you can give by calling 866-335-5220 or by visiting Now let's get back to today's teaching on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. Number five, we must not let limitations in our ability to understand God's sovereignty keep us from obeying God's clear commands. You say, well, if God has chosen some for salvation and determined to save them, what purpose is there in me sharing Christ? God's already chose, right? I mean, how do I affect the outcome?

I understand the question. I just need you to know that Paul never uses these truths to reduce human agency in how God brings things about. In fact, Paul explains that it is only through our efforts that things change. Prayer really moves the hand of God.

Sharing Christ, sending missionaries, sacrifice by the church makes an actual difference in the eternities of others. That's why over the years I've used a quote I found years ago by a guy named A.A. Hodge, an old Princeton theologian. Does God know the day that you'll die? Well, what do you think? Yes, he does. All right, has God appointed that day?

Yeah, if you believe your Bible, he has. Can you do anything to change that day? No. Well, why do you eat? I eat to stay alive. What happens if you don't eat?

You die. Well, if you don't eat and then you die, would that be the day that God has preordained for you to die? Quit asking stupid questions and just eat. Eating is the preordained way that God has appointed for living.

How all this works together, I don't know. But I know that when I pray, it moves the hand of God. I don't know how it all works together, but somehow the more I share Christ, the more people seem to keep getting elected in my life. I'm like, well, if I didn't, and God's like, stop asking stupid questions.

Eating is the preordained way that I'm set for living. Prayer is the way that I have set to move on earth. Sharing Christ is the way that the gospel goes forward. Don't ask questions that are beyond your pay grade. Yours is not to philosophize and figure me out. Yours is to obey. It is not on you to figure out the ways of God. It is on you to obey the commands of God. It is arrogance and presumption to sit around speculating on the sovereignty of God when simple obedience is commanded. That's why when I get a 19-page email from a seminary student who wants to argue with me about these things, I always just reply back and say, who have you shared Jesus with this week? Stop typing me emails and go do what he told you to do.

Stop philosophizing and start obeying. All right, number six, this truth emboldens us to share with even the least likely. This is where you start to get really going. The truth shows you that God can save anybody. God can save you and God can save anybody. He often will save the most difficult as a display of his glory. He's already told you what his motive is. I'm going to put my glory on display. And the harder the situation, the more glory he gets. You're sharing Christ with somebody easy and they come along. I mean, you know, God will get some glory from that, yeah. But you start sharing with somebody ridiculous. That's where God's like, watch this, and let's just start showing off.

Right? Some of you have people in your lives that are ridiculous. Some of you are ridiculous, okay?

You're sitting here and you've been ridiculous. What we understand is that God puts on display his glory and when the situation feels impossible, right? That's when he gets glory. I was listening to one of our worship pastors the other day share his testimony. And I only ever told my wife, I'm like, God is just showing off with that guy because of what he came through and what he did.

He's so unlikely. Why would he be here? It's because God put his grace on display. That means that those of you who are listening right now, some of our 258 missionaries around the world that are serving in some of the most difficult places on earth, God has promised to save some from every nation and he can and he will fulfill that promise. That means you keep sharing because he has said there's going to be people from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and the Sudan and South Africa and Indonesia, Great Britain, even some in Hollywood, there's going to be Republicans and there's going to be Democrats.

They're all going to come to faith in Christ because I have determined that I will save some and have a vibrant witness and vibrant worship from every people group on earth. And so you just keep sharing because he's promised it. I've often explained that serving in a difficult place, it makes you, and I tell this to our teams going out, it's like that proverbial woodpecker I tell you guys about, right? The proverbial woodpecker, you know, the woodpecker's tapping along the telephone pole.

You're not making any difference on the telephone pole. Just make a noise, right? And all of a sudden, he's just tapping away and he can do it for a hundred years and not make any difference. All of a sudden, all of a sudden lightning strikes at that telephone pole from heaven, splits a thing open and then woodpecker's like, you're kind of looking at that thing, right? So he goes and he flies and he gets several of his buddies and he brings them back. He's like, there she is boys.

Look at what I did. I'm like, that's what it's like to share Christ in these places. That's what it's like to share Christ with somebody that's difficult is I know, I know that when I am just putting it out there and obeying, God decides, you know what?

This is time for me to bring life. And he does it in a way that gets the glory so I can keep sharing and I can keep praying and I can keep obeying because God is the one who owns salvation. And nothing is too difficult for God. So don't give up on that people group. Don't give up on that person. Don't give up on that son or daughter.

Keep asking and let God do something amazing. Because what you'll find the longer you do this is that God seems to delight in moments where you feel weak and just coming in and being amazing. I see this sometimes when I'm preaching. I'll preach a sermon and I'll be like, as I'm saying, I'm like, man, this is good. People are going to get saved today. If Satan's here, he's probably going to repent, you know?

And just, I'm thinking that. And I'll get done and it'll be like nothing. And then there's other times I'm up here and I'm like, this is so, I'm going to get fired. God might revoke my salvation.

It's just so bad. Right? And that'll be the day that I'll get a bazillion people writing me and saying, Hey, God really used us. And I can just see God in heaven, just chuckling, going like, ah, it's not about you and your strength. It's about me and my power to save. You just obey and you let me be the wonder. You let me be what is amazing. Finally, number seven, this truth is the source of our assurance.

That's where we started, right? I can be confident that the God who sought me and bought me and clothed me with his goodness when I had none of my own, well, that's the same God who will never let me go. Let me close this message on Romans nine with a letter that we got from one of our members who their small group a few weeks ago, they got ahead of me and then went through Romans nine together.

And I remember I sent this letter in and I thought it's better than anything I can say on it. This guy writes, he said, I grew up in a dysfunctional non-Christian home. Neither of my parents were capable of expressing love and my father was always angry and disgusted with us as children. When I came to Christ at the age of 18, the scars from my childhood were deep. One night as a teenager, as an 18 year old, I was laying awake struggling and crying out to God. I became fixated on a question, which I prayed to God, God, why did you save me?

I didn't understand myself well enough to know why that question seems so important to me. God, why would you save me? I struggled and I wept and I cried that question out to God and suddenly God answered me in a way that was nearly audible. In my heart, he whispered this voice, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. You recognize that as the quote we just went through in Romans nine. He said, I didn't know where that quote came from, but that was the word that was in my heart.

I didn't understand what it meant. I didn't know where it was from, but I vividly remember the experience. The church I was going to at the time, their basic message was get your act together. And I lived in constant fear of not performing well enough. But then I started to come to the summit church and I started to hear the real gospel. I can now see that what I wanted to hear at 18 years old when I asked God why he saved me is I wanted to hear him say that he saw something good in me. He saw something worth saving.

I wanted him to say that he was proud of me. I wanted him to give me the some sense that I was worthy of his love. But now I see this question as a spiritual trap. No matter what good qualities God might have seen in me, they are all tainted with sin and selfishness and rebellion. Any reason which he might have given as a reason to save me would have ultimately become the reason I lost my salvation since I could never be good enough consistently enough to deserve his love. So instead what God said to me was I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. And now I understand that God was telling me the love that he gave to me was not a love that could be lost by my failures. The love that he has for me originates in his character and his goodness not in mine. When God showed me this it was like a burden fell off my back. I'm free to know his love and to trust him in everything. I know that I am secure in his hands. God would not send his son to die for me so that I might ultimately be lost.

What he began in me he will complete. The salvation and purposes of Jesus Christ cannot be corrupted. I know there are a lot who are confused or uncertain about Romans 9 but for me it's a tremendous comfort and a source of assurance. That's the role that Romans 9 is supposed to play in your life.

That's why Paul puts it there. He says I know it kind of blows your mind but you need to understand that what God started in you he intends to finish. And when you feel so weak that you can barely hold on you just know that he's still holding on to you because those he foreknew and predestined those he called those he called those he justified and those he justified and those he justified for him he is going to glorify. So when you're weak and you feel like you have nothing left you be amazed and you thank God that it didn't start with you and it's not going to end with you and it's sustained not by you it's sustained by him. Salvation is offered to you right now if you will receive it.

Jesus said whosoever will may come which means he wouldn't invite you into the goodness and truth of salvation if he didn't mean it. Thank you for joining us today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. If you missed any of this message you can listen again or download the transcript when you visit us online at Pastor J.D. challenged the Summit Church to be reading their Bibles along with the study because if there's one thing that will transform your walk with the Lord it is spending one on one time in God's Word. So we'll do the same make Romans a part of your reading plan too. Right now we're offering a fantastic resource to help you really dig into your Bible and learn more about the deep theology of the book of Romans at the same time. It's the first part of a two-part Bible study through Romans called The Gift of God and it was written by the late Pastor Tim Keller.

We chose this resource for you our listeners specifically because of the way that Pastor Tim takes the first half of Romans and breaks it down into seven studies with all kinds of application questions, prayer points, and even keyword definitions from the scripture. We'd love to send you a copy right now as a thank you for your financial gift of $35 or more to this ministry. Just give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or you can always give online at I'm Molly Vidovitch. So very glad to have you with us and we'll see you again Tuesday as we move into Romans chapter 10 right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-24 11:05:36 / 2023-07-24 11:16:58 / 11

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