October 18, 2022 12:00 am
Throughout the ages Christianity has inspired many ill feelings in its adversaries, such as hatred, persecution, anger, and contempt. But this seems ordinary enough, given Christ’s promise that “all who desire to live godly in the world will suffer persecution.” In this message, however, Stephen discusses an ill feeling which Christianity is inciting that isn’t quite so ordinary. It’s neither anger nor contempt . . . but envy!
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When it comes to the eternal salvation of your soul, it's critical that you're relying on the correct source of truth. You read this verse and your mind is flooded like mine with questions and you immediately want to say, that's not fair. And that's exactly what Paul knew we'd say. So he goes on to verse 14 to say, there is no injustice with God is there. In other words, you're not saying or suggesting that God isn't fair, are you?
But I want you to know that I would rather have a God who provokes a thousand questions than the imaginary God of our generation who barely provokes a yawn. Whether you're a Jew or a Gentile, a man or a woman, rich or poor, there's only one means of salvation. Salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ. Since Judaism rejects the Bible's teaching on Jesus, what does that mean for the Jews? The Bible calls them God's chosen people.
Are they? Christianity has inspired many ill feelings in those who disagree with it. Today, Stephen discusses an ill feeling people have toward the truth. It's not anger nor contempt, it's envy. Stephen returns to Romans 11, and he's called this message green with envy. Let's get started right now.
A.W. Tozer wrote these very provocative words. He said, If we were able to extract from any man an answer to the question, what comes into your mind when you think about God? We would be able to predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. What do you think about when you think about God? Who is God to you? Your answer determines more about you than God, for God would never change based upon your own interpretation of who he is. But some might say, why bother with the study of God?
Another author, J.I. Packer, warned his generation and ours, you disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded with no sense of direction. You ignore the study of God and just go ahead and wander through life. Tozer added this in his own writing to the believer.
He adds this on top of what Packer said. He says this to the Christian. If you would bring back spiritual power to your lives, you must begin to think of God more nearly as he is. And how do you think of God more nearly as he is? You think of God more nearly as he is, as you study what his word says he is for the word of God is not fiction.
It is truth. And if the devil is going to get us to believe that he's won a major victory, of course, for if the Bible is fiction, not only is salvation anybody's guess, whether there is a heaven or a hell or moral absolutes are now up for any question. But more importantly, just who God is is now up to anybody and everybody's imagination.
No wonder our generation in particular stumbles through life with no sense of direction. And I say all of that because we're about to begin studying in a little closer detail a description of God that runs counter to the heart and the logic and the reasoning of the normal human being. We're about to study who God is in terms that may make us feel uncomfortable unless we believe it's truth.
And then our hearts will be filled certainly with questions but with the soaring through means of this incredible truth. Now the theme of Romans Chapter 9 in a word is sovereignty. And you want to write that somewhere at the heading of your chapter the sovereignty of God.
Now while the nation Israel is the subject matter is Paul talks about their past in Chapter 9 and their present in Chapter 10 and their future in Chapter 11. When you study this chapter you see between the lines and even boldly stated that the subject matter is the sovereignty of God. Now I say I believe in the sovereignty of God I'm sort of preaching with the choir I doubt many in here would say I don't believe in the sovereignty of God. But let me be a little more specific. The theme of Romans Chapter 9 is the sovereignty of God in election.
And I have your attention now. In this section Paul will describe who God is with statements on the one hand that seem very troubling in fact somewhat shocking. And then on the other hand when you believe it it is reassuring that God is sovereign in everything certainly in the matter and the prescription of redemption. And what Paul will do here in this paragraph beginning with verse 6 in Romans 9 which is where we left off is describe God's sovereignty with two illustrations from Israel's past history. First God's sovereignty will be seen in the supernatural conception of Isaac and secondly God's sovereignty will be seen in the sovereign election of Jacob.
If you have your Bibles let's begin in Chapter 9 with verse 6. But it is not as though the word of God has failed for they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel neither 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 a word of promise. At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son and not only this but there was Rebecca 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 in order that God's purpose according to his choice might stand not because of works but because of him who calls.
It was said to her the older will serve the younger just as it is written Jacob I loved but he saw I hated. Now back at the beginning of this paragraph Paul begins by saying it is not as though the word of God has failed literally fallen or fallen apart. That is just because the nation of Israel has rejected the Messiah. That doesn't mean the word of God regarding the nation Israel has failed and he reminds them in that next verse that all Israel are true Israel is not necessarily those who descended from Abraham and we've already spent a lot of time studying that. I'll at least remind you of what Paul wrote to the Galatians in Chapter 3 verse 29. If you belong to Christ then you are Abraham's offspring heirs according to promise the promise now all Israel didn't believe did they in fact the nation at large rejected Christ only a few believed that first.
So does this mean then that the promise of calling a nation to himself that that somehow failed. Well what Paul will do here is he will take from their own history proving through illustrations that while all of the nation did not believe that God was electing from within the nation some who would believe and they are the true Israel. They are the true Israelite sons and daughters of God by faith in him just as Abraham believed and by faith was justified. Paul goes all the way back to the beginning of the nation Israel to show that God was sovereign in his choosing and that his purpose has not failed. So he begins here in this paragraph by mentioning of course Abraham that the Jews knew their history and they would know from knowing their own history that Abraham did not seek God. God saw it after Abraham.
Abraham was a member of a pagan idolatrous family not one shred as it were of light but God saw it Abraham giving to him light whereby he would believe. And since the call of Abraham is recorded in Genesis Chapter 12 every Jew reading this letter called Romans would have to confess that Jewish history began with God's choosing of Abraham the nation began by the election of this one named Abraham and then Paul moves in this paragraph to mention Isaac the son of Abraham and if that isn't proof of God's sovereign power nothing is. Look at verse 9 for this is a word of promise. At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son. The nation of Israel could never ignore or deny that the special called man named Abraham would never have gotten any further.
In fact he would have convoluted distorting the promise through what I'll do it as we'll see in a minute. Unless God had sovereignly brought life as it were to be in the womb of a woman who is well past childbearing age. The conception of Isaac occurred in spite of physical impossibilities. Genesis tells us she was barren. Chapter 11 verse 30. Moses also tells us that she's past the age of childbearing chapter 18 verse 11. And then on top of that chapter 17 verse 17 tells us she was 90 years of age and she conceives and bears a son.
Why. Because God made a promise God promised and God is sovereignly capable of fulfilling his promise without help as it were of mankind. But even more than that is this point the conception of Isaac occurred in spite of physical impossibilities first of all but secondly in spite of faithless attitudes.
Let's go back in that story for a minute. Shall we in Genesis turn there to Genesis chapter 16. And while you're turning let me set the stage it's been at least 10 years since God made the promise to Abraham that his descendants would outnumber the stars. You can only imagine Abraham's sense of anticipation. In fact his name Abraham means illustrious father proud father exalted father. You can imagine people introducing themselves to Abraham and then asking of him his own name and Hebrew names would be very significant.
They would be articulating in effect what the person was or what the person did or what the person may even own. And they would ask him Well what is your name. And he would say Well my name is Abraham illustrious father and they would say Oh you must be a very proud father of a child or of children. And Abraham might hang his head and kick the dirt and say Well I don't have any children but then he'd add I believe the word yet. I don't have any children yet.
What do you mean yet. Well because God has promised at least one child. Well by the time you reach Chapter 16 of Genesis I think Abraham has stopped saying yet.
He didn't say it anymore I don't think. He is filled with doubt and so is his wife as we'll see in a minute. Whenever you doubt the sovereignty of God it won't be long before you trust the sovereignty of you. You fail to trust the power of God and that means you will trust the power of you.
As we go through this story I want to pull out some practical things that occur whenever any one of us regarding anything in life takes matter into our own hands and the first thing I want you to notice is that you will begin to rationalize your resentment of God's will. Look at verse 1 Genesis 16 now Sarah Abrams wife had born of no children and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarah I said to Abraham Now behold the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. In other words it's all his fault.
Look what he's doing to my life. Please go into my maid. Perhaps I shall obtain children through her and Abraham listened to the voice of Sarah. And after Abraham had lived 10 years in the land of Cain and Abrams wife Sarah I took Hagar the Egyptian her maid and gave her to her husband Abraham as his wife and he went into Hagar and she conceived and when she saw that she had conceived her mistress was despised in her sight. And you have to think as you read this record at this very point oh man the nation chosen by God that will come from the lines of Abraham is already corrupted.
It will indeed be fallen apart. And did you notice how Sarah begins back in verse 2 behold the Lord has prevented me from bearing children theologically in a sense she's right but her bitterness and her resentment is not from a human perspective. Surely conception may be viewed as an accident or a difficulty or a travesty or a tragedy but it cannot happen without God's sovereign purpose to bring about a life that will never ever end for conception to occur requires the purpose of God which means that for it not to occur also requires the purpose of God. And we spend all of our time and attention on the medical or physical conditions which may seem to be the primary cause but behind those conditions which God may allow through science to repair. But those are not primary behind it is a sovereign primary cause who is God rather than trust in the purpose of a sovereign God had promised Sarah I turns bitter and resentful toward God and she says in effect God is ruining my life. God is messing up my life.
God is in the way of what I want. What's worse she takes matters into her own hands and decides that another wife who can bear a child would be better than one who cannot. And I imagine behind the scenes the enemy of this nation that will be is wringing his hands with glee. He will now have an opportunity to corrupt the nation.
He can now bring about the falling apart of the nation that many might even believe. Now in Paul's day by the way you can tell when you're taking matters into your own hands when you refuse to live by God's boundaries and God's parameters and God's prohibitions and wait for God's purposes. Sarah I says God isn't coming through. It's time to institute plan B which is nothing more or less than rebellion with with rather spiritual sounding words. Maybe you know somebody that's doing that very kind of thing using a spiritual vocabulary to do nothing more than justify their sin.
You know God won't mind or God made me with needs and I'm meeting my needs and God wants me to be happy and I'm happy. Sarah I use as spiritual words but she's actually acting out a rebellion against God and she gives ungodly advice to her husband who fails to maintain the standard of godliness as her shepherd and he follows along. Verse 4 tells us he went into Hagar and she conceived and then know what happens when she saw that she had conceived her mistress was despised in her sight. Now they hate each other. You take matters into your own hands and you not only rationalize your resentment but you ruin second of all personal relationships.
Just wait and see at least three relationships will be profoundly affected here. Between Sarah and Hagar you have this bitter rivalry between their sons Ishmael who is the father as it were of modern Arab nations and Isaac the father of the Jewish nation and the descendants of those two boys are still fighting still in the news thousands of years later we're watching them fight over the same piece of property they both claim Abraham as their father and they're both right. You have this bitter feud and this hatred which can only be explained in terms of what you read in scripture. Even the relationship between Sarah and Abraham suffered look at verse 5 Sarah says to Abraham May the wrong done me be upon you.
Isn't that great. Abraham it's all your fault and in a way it was. She knew he was wrong. He knew he was wrong.
Hagar knew they were both wrong and Ishmael will never get over how wrong they were. We have every reason to believe that the nation Israel will never make it to first base unless God is sovereign. By the way there's one more thing that happens when we take matters into our own hands we not only rationalize our rebellion and ruin relationships but we refuse to believe God's reassurances. Look over it at verse 5 of Chapter 17. Here God comes not to reassure Abraham and he says to him listen Abraham no longer shall your name be called Abraham but your name shall be called Abraham for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. That's what Abraham means. He went from being illustrious father of maybe one or more children to now being called Abraham which means father of multitudes.
Imagine introducing yourself now. Father of nations. This would have been reassuring had Abraham followed the prescription of God but now he can't even believe God's reassurances. Look at verse 15 in the same chapter. God said to Abraham as for Sarah your wife you shall not call her name Sarah but Sarah shall be your name.
That means princess in other words she's royalty now why because he goes on to say kings of peoples shall come from her. Then Abraham fell on his face and worshiped God. No and laughed. Can you imagine having an audience with God and God tells you something and you're so far removed from obeying him that your response is you laugh. If you look over Chapter 18 verse 13 you discover Sarah's laughing too. God says to Abraham in verse 13 Why did Sarah laugh saying Shall I indeed bear a child when I am so old.
And listen to this you would underline this if it didn't already. Is anything too difficult for the Lord. That's the point. So your problem Abraham is you don't understand who God is. You don't understand sovereignty.
Sovereignty has to do with the fact that conception doesn't occur and it has to do with the fact that conception does occur. You see my friends God was bringing Abraham and Sarah past childbearing age. He was moving them beyond what they could figure out.
He was moving them beyond the norm so they could never take credit for the beginning of this nation ever making it even to the second generation. It would be clear that his power and his might and his sovereign purpose over the affairs of mankind would rule the day and God will manifest his sovereign even in the nursery. Even there he determines conception. He determines the life that will be born. He determines the kind of person that that baby will be. He determines the physical makeup of that child knit together in the womb. He determines the timing of that birth the generation the family the nation where the child will be born and raised which means when you understand this and you believe this it means he chose you to be born. He made you. He put you together.
He chose you to be born in this generation at this time in this place. God said in verse 14 of this chapter at the appointed time I'm going to return to you and at this time next year Sarah's going to have a son. Does that mean that Abraham and Sarah won't have to be able to get together physically would there be no egg no sperm. Certainly were there not nine months of growth all of that would occur. Yes to all of that. But these though we look at them as primary issues these are secondary issues and the primary cause is God and Paul says back in Romans 9.
Go back there. He says the very fact that this nation exists this child was born this inconceivable conception if you can imagine that irony occurred. And even though Ishmael was Abraham's first born son Isaac would be the one chosen by God. Now back here in Romans 9 Paul anticipated the Jewish reader saying well you know wouldn't be a difficult choice.
This isn't hard. We can understand God's election. Ishmael isn't a pure blood. He is the son of an Egyptian mother and Abraham it's obvious that God would choose Isaac and Paul in effect says I need say that. And so I want to give you another illustration verse 10. Not only this but there was Rebecca also when she had conceived twins by one man our father Isaac. Now you've got an interesting situation here. It's one thing for God to elect Isaac over Ishmael but now you've got twins.
It could be double trouble right. They have the same Jewish parents. Both are pure blooded Jews. God will make a choice and his choice is dramatic for at least three reasons. Number one he chooses the second born twin.
In other words he goes against the norm. You have the inheritance and the passing of the right and the blessing on the first born. God just circumvents that and it's his way of saying I am the one in control. Second of all the choices made before they are even born.
Paul specifically states that this was all done so that God's electing purpose might be irrefutably known and taught. Thirdly the choices made independent of merit. One doesn't grow up to be a better boy than the other one. In fact they're both kind of rotten if you study their lives. Jacob's election occurred before his birth and it will occur in spite of his behavior. A woman came up to Charles Spurgeon who preached on this text 150 years ago a great preacher and she said I don't understand how God could say he hated Esau and Spurgeon responded by saying madam I find it more difficult to understand how he could say he loved Jacob from what I know of Jacob.
Jacob have I loved or in this context chosen but Esau I have hated in this context rejected. Does that raise a thousand questions. He bet it does. But I want you to know that I would rather have a God taken at face value in the scriptures who provokes a thousand questions than the imaginary God of our generation who barely provokes a yawn. You read this verse and your mind is flooded like mine with questions and you immediately want to say that's not fair. And that's exactly what Paul knew we'd say. So he goes on to verse 14 to say there is no injustice with God is there.
In other words you're not saying or suggesting that God isn't fair are you. May it never be. Let me give you at least two thoughts in closing about this subject.
Number one and I'm going to say the same thing two different ways. Talk of election usually focuses on the negative. We immediately run to all the questions we'll never be able to answer when it was intended by God to be reassuring. That's why Paul is using it here. He wants to reassure those who will believe that God's promises haven't failed even though the nation Israel has rejected Jesus Christ. God knew that God is calling out true Israel from among the nation of Israel who will believe. Second of all the negative questions about election often cloud out the amazing implications of this wonderful doctrine like these.
Let me say them again with different words. You are here on planet Earth today by God's appointment. You know how significant that is. You know what that says about you and what it says about God's thoughts concerning you. You were born into your family and into your generation by his timing.
You were put together with strengths and weaknesses to glorify God's grace and sufficiency. You are even now under God's determined plan of training and pruning and conforming. He's in charge of that too. So relax and just follow him. He's sovereign.
Don't take matters into your own hands no matter what you're facing no matter where you are no matter how you failed. There is a widow in our assembly a widow of many years a woman greatly used by God brilliant earned doctorates a great teacher. She was married to a man who was a scholar as well an author an influential leader and she has been his widow now for several decades. Every time I see her and now that the church has grown larger it is not as often as I'd like. I ask her how's it going. And without fail she'll look up at me right in my eyes smile and say God is on the throne.
I love that. God is on the throne. We will never answer all of the questions as we plow our way through chapter nine.
We're going to have fun trying and it may irritate you to no end. But let me leave you with this as God who is described in this book as a sovereign king we echo from the book of Job these words. Can you discover the depths of God. Can you discover the limits of the almighty. They are as high as the heavens.
What can you do. There's only one thing we can believe this description of God and say in our hearts and with our lives and with our wills God is on the throne. I hope that your words and the example of your life will cause people to want what you have today. You're listening to Steven Davey here on Wisdom for the Heart. If you haven't seen it yet we'd like to send you a gift of several issues of Stevens magazine. Steven deals with a different topic each month and helps you better understand what the Bible says and how it applies directly to your life. The magazine also has a daily devotional guide that you can use to remain grounded in God's word every day. This is a resource that we give to all of our partners and we'd like to send some issues to you. Call us at 866-48-BIBLE then tune back in next time as we bring you more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-03 06:47:33 / 2022-12-03 06:57:18 / 10