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Called Because of the Promise

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2023 2:00 am

Called Because of the Promise

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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March 20, 2023 2:00 am

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Okay, we're going to turn to that real simple, easy passage of Scripture. Romans 9, it's a rich passage of Scripture, and I cannot mine it properly, but let's stand as we read the Word of God. So here you see the heart of Paul as he's concerned about his fellow man.

Chapter 9, 1 to 13. I am telling the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brother and my kinsman according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belong the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all God blessed forever.

Amen. But it is not as though the Word of God has failed, for they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel, nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but through Isaac your descendants will be named. 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. For this is the word of promise, at this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this, but there was Rebekah also when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac. For though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose, according to his choice, would stand not because of works, but because of him who calls. And it is said to her, the older shall serve the younger, just as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

And in the Gospel of John chapter 1 verses 12 and 13, let me read 11 too, but he came to his own and those who were his own did not receive him, but as many as received him to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Let us pray. Father in heaven, we thank you for your great grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. If you had not sent him, if he had not come, if he had not suffered, died, and buried, resurrected, ascended, reigning now, we would all be lost.

We would have no hope in this world. Father, thank you for your amazing grace that you would even dare to die for us as sinners. And Father, we are indebted to you for your mercies. We pray this now. Bless me, Lord.

Help all the people that are hearing this. Lord, cause us to search your word more. Cause us to long for your grace. Cause us to cry out for more grace for others. We ask this in Jesus' name.

Amen. When you read this passage of Scripture and you open up the first pages of the Scripture of this particular passage, you realize that Paul is very much concerned about his kinsmen who are lost, who are not yet believers in Christ. And you know, this is not new at Paul. There've been others who down through God's history and an economy of things have also had the same burden in some way or another. Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 32, verse 31 and 32 mentions one time, it's mentioned one time that he was concerned the children of Israel had been in disobedience. They had made a golden calf. They were sinning against God. They'd been saved from Egypt. And yet they immediately went back to doing things that they had seen before and following the culture and just got off track immediately because their hearts were not clear and were not totally sold out to the God who had just saved them. And so it says in Exodus 32, then Moses returns to the Lord and said, alas, this people has committed a great sin and they have made a God of gold for themselves. But now, if you will, forgive their sin.

And if not, please block me out of your book, which you have written. It's a very bold statement by Moses, but he was burdened. He was troubled. He's flesh and blood like we are. And yet he saw the magnitude of the sin and the danger of eternal judgment on the people that God had just rescued.

Jesus said similar things. I remember a good long time ago, back when I was in school and I took this course called The Geography of the Holy Land. If you went to Israel, then you got more credits and you had to write a paper, of course.

So in Israel, we went over it. I got on the plane and went over and that was a different time and era where money was transferred differently. So I took a nap on the plane. I got off the plane, went to the place where all of the students were staying. And I realized, uh-oh, I lost my traveler's checks. So there it was. So I was going to go see, go to the traveler's checks office.

Somebody did find them on the plane, turned them in. So, but I was up that night and at about 2 a.m., I don't know why, I was up there praying actually. And I was thinking, and I was sitting there looking out over the city of Jerusalem, all the lights on, and I thought, oh my. Remember what Jesus was doing when he looked at this city? Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her.

How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you were unwilling. That is an amazing passage of scripture. It shows you the heart of God. It shows you a little bit back why Moses was thinking the way he was. And yet, here is this tension.

Jesus is the sovereign son of God, the Messiah in person on the face of this earth. And there's this tension between God's sovereignty and God's and man's responsibility and he is weeping over the people who were not coming because they were not interested in what Moses had to say or he had to say. So that brings us to our points. We also struggle. If you have a loved one who does not know the Lord yet, if you have a friend, you have other acquaintances that you wish that they would come to faith in Jesus Christ, you sit there and struggle too. You look at these passages of scripture and you struggle with them and we should. And we see that tension and we see the heart of them and we see the heart of Paul screaming out here for the people that he loves and he's connected to ethnically.

But he realizes they have all these advantages and yet they're squandering them right and left and that's the context of this. So some people malign Paul because he says it's hard things but don't start looking at what he's saying that's hard for us to accept until you see what's in the heart of Paul. And this was what God, what Christ had put in his heart, what Christ puts in your heart, the burden that you have for people who do not yet know Jesus Christ and you say you know you don't have the ability to cause them to believe. So in this passage of Romans, when we jump over to verse, let me read a couple verses. Chapter 10, he says, brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. At the end of that chapter, he says, but as for Israel, he says, all the day long I've stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. Then in verse 11 one, I say then God has not rejected his people has he?

May it never be for I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin. You see the heart of Paul is just breaking over the people that he loves and he's connected to ethnically and he has this heart that God gave him to be a missionary to where? To the Gentiles. So he has a heart for the Jew and the Gentile alike and that's the work of Christ in his heart. So if your burden for your loved ones and for other people that you know, that is the heart of Christ being reflected in you, that's God speaking to you, we should have that burden.

We should have that struggle and it's good that we have that struggle. So as we look at this passage of Scripture, you know, sometimes we think about Paul and the struggle that he had, how deep it was, you know, he's the Hebrew of the Hebrews and and everything. But then again, if you think again a minute, now wait a minute, the Hebrew of the Hebrews, who was expanding the kingdom of God and Paul, you know, Paul said he was willing if it was possible to give up his life so that his fellow men brothers could be saved. Maybe you've thought that if I could do something and influence my family, if I would just give sacrifice my life, then maybe someone would believe. But remember the Hebrew of the Hebrews, the one expanding the kingdom of God, beaten for the gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ has already given his life. We can't, our lives are nothing compared to his.

He's given his life, he's offered himself to the world and yet the world does not respond, some of it. And that is where we are when we come to this passage of Scripture, the reality. And Paul brings up the question, okay, he goes next, he begins about all the advantages people have. Well, we think all the advantages the Jewish people have. What about us with a Christian background or a Christian worldview in our home or among our friends or when we've been raised in a Christian home, we know something of it. We can turn on the radio and hear Christian messages all the time. Are we squandering the advantages? How are people that you want to witness to, are they squandering the advantages that they have to hear about Jesus Christ?

We need to challenge people. What are you listening to? Are you squandering that? Don't blame God.

What are you doing? So when we look at some of these advantages, look at verses four and five. He goes down a list of number of advantages and there are great advantages. And God began the concept of adopting sons way back in the Old Testament. In fact, that's what he did. He created an entire nation, he adopted an entire nation and this is what he said through Moses in Exodus. You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagle's wings and brought you to myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession among all the peoples of the earth for all the earth is mine.

He's saying I have adopted you. And yet we know Paul is lamenting over the fact that many have just forgotten him. Then there is the next thing that mentions the glory and the covenants that are listed sort of together as a pair here. And we see the light of the glory of God when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt and then when he had the tabernacle built and then later on the temple, the presence of God, the Shekinah glory was in there reminding them, here is the glory of God, I'm present among you. They saw this.

They had that advantage. Then the covenants, the affirmations of God choosing them that God had promised that one who would defeat Satan and sin and death and he promised that to Adam and Eve after the very first sin committed on this earth, that the descendant of hers would crush the head of Satan. Those promises, those same covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, all the way through the Old Testament and then Christ comes and fulfills that covenant. Then there was the legislation that they had the civil law and the ceremonial law that pointed to Christ and Christ fulfilled all those laws. Then there was the temple service, the worship that gave the symbolism there that you needed to be washed, you needed to be cleansed, you needed the blood to cover you and that all that symbolism was pointing to the Messiah who was to come, who would take away the sins of the world and yet they squandered that.

There were the promises of God of a covenant, personal covenant relationship with him and God said to Abraham, Genesis 17, 7, I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and to your descendants after you. Well, New Testament says that when we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and many will not even consider Christ, but there he is, man of history, the son of God on this earth, living, dying, rising again and coming again. There's the covenant of grace, the glory of God in the face of Christ and the covenants fulfilled in the person of Christ in the blood and the sacrifice there on the cross. And then there is the fact that the law, Jesus kept that law perfectly for you and I.

He's accomplished it. It's a gift of grace to every believer of all that would come. And then there's the worship. We worship God in spirit and truth because God has put a spirit in us and we've met the real Savior if you know Christ. So it's all been fulfilled. And so the question then, how do we squander it?

Why do other people squander it? And who is this Jesus? He's the one who made the covenant, who keeps the covenant, who fulfills the covenant. He is the Lord. Now verse 5 declares that the genealogical record in the Scripture shows that the line of Christ down through the ages is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the very son of David.

That was declared at the triumphal entry and we know it's really true. So yet Paul says this, this is the Christ according to the flesh who is over all and blessed forever. Amen. He's saying that Christ is God. Similar pattern is in Romans 1 25 where it says, and they serve the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever.

Amen. Who is blessed forever. Amen refers to the ones before who is Christ. So here Paul identifies Christ as the one that God has sent. He is God in the flesh and the second person of the Trinity. Now all these promises that are made depend upon the work of Christ.

It depends all upon him. He is fulfilling everything. So we are blessed because of the promise of Christ's coming and the person of Christ himself. And now he gives us some stories in the following verses in 6 and following. Now he talks about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

And that's repeated. Those families are mentioned all through Scripture and so we need to pay attention to them and you know much of the stories of their lives. But it demonstrates and documents that God's calling is by his grace. It's only by his grace and only by God's calling that anyone is ever saved. So the lives of these new generations help us understand or grasp some of the struggles that we have and it helps us understand sometimes why people are rejecting or not understanding what is God doing? How does God call?

How does God save? So we see that in here. Now there's a principle in verse 6 that he's going to lay down. We're going to come back mention this principle and we're going to come back to it later. But he says there's a principle that's operating here physically that all the descendants of Abraham are not true believers.

He says for they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel. Got that principle? Got that truth? That's very important to understanding the grasping part of this passage.

I can't wrap it all. But it's very important. That is a very key point.

The implication is that there is a question. Is there any advantage then to being born in a family that knows the word of God, that teaches the word of God, or even has a Christian worldview? Is there any advantage of having that and being a descendant of Abraham or having the same faith like Abraham?

So the point is this. Salvation is by faith in the promises of God, but ultimately in the promised one of God. Salvation is by faith in the promised one of God who is Jesus Christ.

That is then the only way of salvation forever. So the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob illustrate John 1, 12, and 13. But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even those who believe in his name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

If he hadn't birthed us, we would not be alive in Christ. Abraham and Sarah, let's think about that couple. They were promised that they were going to have a son, and they were promised this after they had been trying for all their married life and it hadn't happened. And what was the promise?

I'm going to give them in reverse order here. One promise was that through Isaac your descendants will be named. But before that, two people had come, two angels had come, the messenger, and he said, at this time, an appointed time, I will come and Sarah shall have a son. That was the promise. Now they believed God at that point.

They really did. And so, you know, all those who are born physically in the line of Christ are born according to the appointment, the timing, and the promise of God. All those born spiritually are born according to the appointment, the timing, and the promise of God. All of God's children trust in the promised one, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It is God who causes the spiritual birth. Can our unbelieving friends see that reality? Do they understand that reality, that God causes the spiritual birth?

Okay. Now, God's first promise of a Savior was to Adam and Eve after they had committed the first sins on the face of this earth that Christ would come and crush the head of Satan. And the promise is repeated again and again, from Abraham all the way down through the scriptures until the time of Christ is fulfilled. So even a child born to Abraham and Sarah would be the child in that promised line.

That was definitely going to happen. And Abraham knew that, that that promise would have to be fulfilled if they had a child. But Abraham and Sarah were not sinless. They were sinful, like us, but yet earlier they believed, they believed what God said, but then it wasn't happening.

And they were getting older and it still wasn't happening. And so they chose, or Sarah came up with the idea, let's do something cultural. Let's blend with the culture and do what they do in the culture. You have the handmade and she'll bear that child on my knees and I'll claim it as it comes out, as it's born. That's what we'll do. We'll help God out. So at age 90 and 100, however, God showed his choice. Sarah does conceive and have a son.

And this is the one that was promised. It was not according to man's ability or fleshly ability. This was obviously mysterious and the supernatural work of God.

The same, that thing that happens in every person who was born again, it is mysterious and it is supernatural. It's not according to the will of man. It's not according to the flesh of man, but it's of God. That was the name of that, the nature of that birth.

The physical nature of it and the timing of it was certainly of God. Now, what about Isaac and Rebekah? Well, Isaac and Rebekah believed and trusted in the God of Abraham.

They trusted in the promises. Isaac had heard them. Rebekah knew about what those promises were, passed along from Abraham to them, that God was going to bless the families of the earth through the line of Abraham.

And now that was Isaac through his line. Yet being sinners, Isaac and Rebekah sinned several times. Through their line, the promised Messiah was to come and that was according to the purpose of God. So when Rebekah became pregnant, there was a mysterious supernatural revelation given to her and to Isaac. And this is what the prophecy is in Genesis 25, 23, the older will serve the younger.

Okay? Isaac knew God's will was, from this prophecy, that the younger child would be the spiritual leader in the future and be the line of the Messiah. He knew that. Rebekah knew that. However, Isaac sinned because he was trying to give the blessing to Esau.

And Rebekah sinned because she was leading her son Jacob to deceive his father, her husband, Isaac. The point is, God is the one who chooses, who appoints, who blesses as he decides. That should make us run to Christ. That should make us not complain, but, oh, I need Christ. If he's the one who blesses, who chooses, who appoints, who purposes, then I need him. I don't need to complain against him.

I need him. So once when Esau, you know, he came back from hunting, and he was a pretty macho man, I guess, and he was an outdoorsman. He sold his birthright.

He had no regard for spiritual things. He sold that to his brother, Jacob. They were obviously old enough to hunt, and Jacob had some good stew going on in the fire. And so he said, okay, I'm hungry. I didn't get anything at this time, so feed me.

Yeah, you can have my birthright. Disrespect for the family, but also there was a spiritual element to that, to be the spiritual leader, and he disregarded it. Shows you the hearts of these men, but also shows them both as conniving in some way. So we know the story. When Jacob deceived his dad and got the blessing, Esau wanted to kill his brother. He was determined, and Rebecca heard it. He heard him saying these things, probably screaming them out.

I'm going to take him out. But anyway, so Jacob had to leave, and on the way to Uncle Laban's house, he had a dream and a vision. And there that vision was, sent by God, by God's grace, he saw Christ at the top of this ladder and the angels of God coming up and down. And God was telling Jacob, Jacob, the blessings don't come from your earthly parents, really. The real blessings come from God Almighty.

You're looking in the wrong place. And so he understood that he needed an ongoing relationship with the living God. He got that. God was changing Jacob. He was seeing who he really needed. So that proved true in Isaac and Jacob's life and Esau's life and the calling, the choice is not ours. It is God's grace that calls us and appoints us. Now, you know that says in Scripture that the twins had not been born, yet God had already called out Jacob and he was his choice and he had a purpose for him. So the physical line of crisis was going to go through Jacob.

We can see that. That's being fulfilled. That was God's purpose. And that's why we have these genealogies in Luke and Matthew. We can see, oh yeah, this is who God said it was going to be and this is how it happened, according to God's plan.

But more importantly is the line of faith. Those who have faith like Abraham, those who come to the faith of the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, these are the ones who put their faith in the creator-redeemer, the covenant God of Scripture. Now, Jacob and Esau in verses 12 and 13 are mentioned, that generation. Esau being that outdoorsman who's just a fairly good hunter, he got a lot of good venison, but he did despise his birthright. He was not spiritually minded, but he was very fleshly minded. And Jacob, a sinner, he participated in the deceit of his own father.

He lied and he got the blessing from his blind dad, Isaac. Now we come to that point where it mentions that God loved Jacob and hated Esau. But let me read to you something from Proverbs, which is a good thing to remember that both of these men were sinners. Every person that I mention here is a sinner. They're like us.

Okay. Proverbs 16 to 19, describe what God dislikes. There are six things which the Lord hates, yes seven which are an abomination to him, haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies and one who spreads strife among brothers. Jacob and Esau are described in that text. We are described in that text. So were Abraham and Isaac, Rebekah and Sarah. Jacob, I love, but Esau I hate is a quote from Malachi 1 verse 21, the prophecy of Malachi. Jacob and Esau, you can say are two types. They're types.

They symbolize the difference between the righteous and the wicked, the believer, the one who really believes and one who is just fleshly minded. There's that contrast there. So when Jacob and Esau met years later, Esau was not angry with his brother. They had been separated for years. Jacob's coming back with a wife and a bunch of kids and a lot of wealth. And Esau was very happy. He greets him. He says, no, don't worry.

I don't need anything. He was prosperous because why? His heart was fulfilled.

He had all the desires of the flesh. He was not a spiritually minded man as far as we know. So maybe he probably did profit in some way because he was looking after Isaac's affairs and his wealth. And so coming off of that, he developed his own.

He was doing well. And even at the end of time, when Esau and Jacob met, they buried their father. There was peace. However, the descendants of Esau are called the Edomites. And the Edomites and the Israelites were at odds. When the Israelites came out of Egypt and they finally started headed toward the promised land after they disobeyed, but this time they came up the east side of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, and Edom is there, and Edomites said, don't come. And they brought out their battle, men for battle.

And so God told the Israelites to go a long way around Edom before they entered the promised land. And so you see that hatred. There's a strife between the descendants of Jacob and the descendants of Esau. That's part of the background of this. But some have explained the phrase, Jacob, have I love, Esau, have I hated, to be like, well, God loves one more than the other.

Well, that's not quite exactly it. Actually, the word hated here is used in a moral sense. It's not like I'm going to take vengeance on someone or I have malice towards someone, but there is a moral problem with Esau.

Okay. But the verse is very straightforward. And we look at the history and the descendants, we see that conflict working out. But it is clear that God chose, called, and purposed to love Jacob and with a moral hatred to hate Esau. So I can't explain that in its depth. I don't really know how to explain all of that. But clearly grace is only given. But you know what? Sometimes when you have somebody that you love, you think, well, they deserve grace. But they don't.

Neither did I. Grace is given purely out of the pleasure, good pleasure of God and the mysterious will of God and the undisclosed will of God sometimes. We do not know. He calls us to himself and some will not come. So grace is not inherited. It's not from man's will. We are not saved because of our bloodline. Only the promised Savior is traced to the line of Abraham.

Grace is received only by faith. That is God's way of working. The word purpose, I'm going to go back there and look at that verse there in verse 13. Purpose. It means literally that there's a definite set purpose. It's an exceedingly strong purpose. That's what that word means. It's the opposite of merit.

You don't merit anything. God purposed it. It's predetermined because we can't determine it. God called.

That means he effectively draws men and women to himself. And that's what Scripture, the New Jesus taught, that the Father draws us to him. And the choice, the favor given to Jacob was God's choice. It was not on merit.

It was not because anyone deserved anything. If works, then no one is accepted. No one is saved because we cannot work our way into heaven. We cannot deserve our way into God's presence. So the inheritance, the eternal blessings of knowing Christ only come through personal faith in Jesus Christ himself, the only redeemer. That is God's one calling, one purpose for the believer. We are called out of darkness to worship and serve Jesus Christ. And it's all for the glory of God. It's not because we are special, but we're called to serve him by his grace to the glory of God. Now, the proposition of this sermon is this. Out of the rebellious generations of mankind, God has determined to call a believing people to himself to worship and serve him by his grace. It's all done by his grace. So clearly God's grace is given.

You look at Scripture. It's always given. It is not earned.

It is not deserved. Therefore, if we know that and our friends know that, we should run to Christ quickly. And I think that's what God is saying to the rebellious generations. We can't make ourselves into something that we're not.

We need to run to Christ to have him change us, him redeem us. So Jacob, have I loved? Esau, have I hated?

Do we look at it in its context? Who was Jacob? And who was, yeah, who was Jacob?

Wait a minute. Jacob's name was changed to Israel, right? So it says up here earlier in the passage of Scripture that, for they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.

We can read it this way. They are not all of Jacob who are descended from Jacob. So it is not by bloodline. It is not by descent. It is not by the will of man at all. It is by the blood of Christ.

Didn't Jesus say, you must be born again? You're born from above and not by the will of man. It's his grace and we only abound in his grace, only by his grace forever and ever.

Let's pray. Father in heaven, we are so unworthy and yet you have done these things in history. Centuries of fulfilled promises.

Centuries of working from family to family to family to person to heart to heart. You are the one who changes our hard, rebellious hearts in every generation. Oh Lord Jesus, come to us and be merciful to us in this time and let us rejoice and glorify you because you are the living God. You're the one who causes that spiritual birth. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-19 20:50:21 / 2023-03-19 21:03:17 / 13

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