Submission to Authorities (Romans 13:1-7)

Submission to Authorities (Romans 13:1-7)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, September 25 and Sunday, September 26, 2021

Did any of you ever watch the show Andy Griffith? I used to watch that show. It was/is a comical and wholesome show. There was one particular episode in which Barney gives Gomer a ticket. Right after giving him the ticket Barney violates the law by a U-turn. Gomer immediately says, “Citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest!”

Well, today’s passage gets into the place of government in our life. God’s order is: God-State-people. The state submits to God, the people submit to the state. However, whether or not the state submits to God, we are to submit to the state. Let’s look at this passage.

My theme today is:

Christians are called to be submissive to authorities.

  1. Be subject to the government (Romans 13:1).
    1. Witherington footnote: It is very interesting to compare what Paul says here and how he describes Christian community life to what Tertullian (Apology 39) says at the end of the second century: “We are an association bound together by our religious profession. … We meet together as an assembly and society. … We pray for the emperors. … We gather together to read our sacred writings. … After the gathering is over the Christians go out as if they had come from a school of virtue.”[1]
    2. We are now in the ethics and moral section of Romans. Now, Paul addresses the government.
    3. Look at verse 1, Romans 13:1, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
    4. There is a passive command and then there are two statements about governing authorities.
    5. I said that it is a passive command because the verb directly translated “let be subject” is an imperative command in the passive mood.
    6. It is a command, but it comes off more gently, “let every person…” He is not saying, “do this,” or “don’t do that.”
    7. The command is that we are to be subject to the government. This is throughout Scripture.
    8. Eph 5:21 tells us to be subject to one another.
    9. Titus 3:1 and 1 Peter 2:13 also tells us to be subject to authorities.
    10. Hebrews 13:7 and 17 tell us to submit to church leadership.
    11. Da 2:21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding
    12. Da 4:17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’
    13. Jn 19:11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
    14. Now, the next two statement are critical.
    15. “For,: this means he is about to explain something.
    16. There is no authority except God. What does that mean?
    17. It means every government is under the sovereignty of God. He has a purpose. He can use it.
    18. This does not mean that God endorses corrupt leadership. The Roman leadership at that time was very corrupt.
    19. This means that God is the ultimate authority. There is no authority above God. Every leader will have to submit to God.
    20. Those that exists have been instituted by God.
    21. We may all know that the kings during the Middle Ages would use this verse to keep people in submission.
    22. However, this is only endorsing the system of government. This is not endorsing an evil monarch.
    23. God ordained/setup the idea of government.
  2. Why (Romans 13:2-5)?
    1. Look at verse 2, Romans 13:2: Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
    2. There is an inference here, therefore is a logical, inferential, conjunction. Whoever resists authority, resists what God has appointed. What? What he means is that when we resist authority, we are resisting the government and God has appointed government. This does not mean resisting President Biden, or President Trump, or President Obama is resisting God because of them. No, we are resisting the government and God appointed a system of governance.
    3. If we resist, we will incur, that is be subject to, judgment, that is discipline.
    4. CSB: The Jewish nation rebelled against Rome in two costly wars, bringing judgment upon themselves at a cost of more than one million lives. Government is ordained by God to reward good and punish evil, providing peace and order for those whom it serves. The sword alludes to capital punishment. A government that rewards evil and punishes good will not long survive, for evil is innately destructive. “If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials will be wicked” (Pr 29:12).[2]
    5. Look at verses 3-4, Romans 13:3-4: For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
    6. This is very practical. If you do good the rulers will not bother you.
    7. Now, anyone of us could think of the exception, but we make rules based on the norms, not the exceptions. We could think of the times when someone was doing good and faced discipline, but most of the time, if we are doing what is right, we will be okay.
    8. If we do wrong, we are right to be afraid. The government does not bear the sword in vain, that means for no reason.
    9. The ruler is the servant of God. Meaning, by serving in the government, whether one realizes it or not, he/she is a servant of God. They are in God’s system.
    10. The leader is an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
    11. This means that oftentimes God punishes wickedness through His people.
    12. This is really all about common grace. Generally speaking, even non-Christians recognize right and wrong and can carry it out in government.
    13. Verse 5, Romans 13:5: Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
    14. This sums this section up. Therefore, is an inference.
    15. When we are subject to the government by obedience, we avoid God’s wrath. How? In obeying the government, we are obeying God’s system to keep up moral order in this fallen world.
    16. It is also better for our conscience because in obeying the government we are doing right.
  3. In obeying the government we pay taxes (Romans 13:6-7).
    1. Now, Paul deals with taxes.
    2. Look at verses 6-7: For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
    3. “For because of this,” because of what?
    4. Because of the government system which was instituted by God. We pay taxes because God setup government as part of His common grace and natural law.
    5. When did God setup government?
    6. Genesis 1:28-31; 2:24-25, He setup government with the family.  
    7. In Genesis 2:15 God told Adam to take care of the garden.
    8. In Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy God setup a system of government for the Israelites.
    9. Dr. Constable: God has established three institutions to control life in our dispensation: the family (Gen. 2:18–25), the civil government (Gen. 9:1–7), and the church (Acts 2). In each institution there are authorities to whom we need to submit for God’s will to go forward. Women are not the only people God commands to be submissive or supportive. Male and female children, citizens, and church members also need to demonstrate a submissive spirit.[3]
    10. God also put it in our hearts that we need government. Meaning, God taught us that through common grace.
    11. Again, in verse 6, authorities are ministers of God, again because they are taking care of God’s system.
    12. Verse 7: pay what is owed to them.
    13. Taxes to whom taxes are owed… taxes to government. Jesus addresses this in: Matt 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25[4]
    14. Revenue to whom revenue is owed…Pay your boss, pay those who you owe money to.
    15. Respect to whom respect is owed…respect leadership…
    16. Honor to whom honor is owed…
    17. There is a principle, it is subsidiarity. This means the closest people to a situation are most equipped to handle the situation. Your family is most equipped to take care of the needs of your family. Poland is most equipped to handle the needs of Poland. Ohio is most equipped to handle the needs of Ohio. It is not good to micromanage.
    18. The dictionary definition is:
    19. the quality or state of being subsidiary
    20. a principle in social organization holding that functions which are performed effectively by subordinate or local organizations belong more properly to them than to a dominant central organization.

Applications:

  1. We must obey the authorities.
  2. We must understand that God setup the system of governance so resisting authorities is resisting God.
  3. We must even submit to corrupt authorities. There is not an exception given for authorities that are corrupt or that we do not like.
  4. The only exception is when there is a conflict we are to obey the higher power, which is God (Acts 5:29).
  5. We must pay our taxes (verse 6).
  6. We must pay revenue to whom revenue is owed (verse 7).
  7. We must pay respect to whom respect is owed (verse 7).
  8. We must give honor to whom honor is owed (verse 7).

Prayer


[1] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004).

[2] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1801.

[3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 13:1.

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by renewing your mind, and out of that live different lives than those of the world (Romans 12:1-21).

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by renewing your mind, and out of that live different lives than those of the world.

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, September 18 and Sunday, September 19, 2021

J. D. Greear shares:

I did a little reading up on caterpillars recently and learned some fascinating things about their transformation process. When the caterpillar is in its cocoon, it isn’t just rearranging pieces on its body. It’s not in there reading manuals about flight or working out. It actually releases enzymes that turn its body into a little soup. Those cells rearrange into a new creation—with wings, antennae, eyes, and all the rest.

After a few weeks, it nibbles a hole in the cocoon, and out pops a butterfly! And then, without any classes or coaching or coercion, it flies.

The Apostle Paul may or may not have known all this about butterflies. But he did recognize that something similar happens to the believer: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind …” (Romans 12:2 CSB).

“Transformed” means changed from within. The word in Greek for “transformed” is metamorphoo. It’s where we get our word “metamorphosis”—you know, the word we use to describe what happens to a caterpillar when it sews itself up in a cocoon and emerges as a butterfly.

When God transforms us from within, he releases gospel enzymes into our heart that restructure it so that spiritual flight becomes second nature.[1]

My theme is:

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by renewing your mind, and out of that live different lives than those of the world.

  1. Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the Lord (verses 1-2).
    1. In this chapter Paul is transitioning from all the rich doctrine to how we are to live. Because of all this rich doctrine we live differently.
    2. Verses 1-2, Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  2. Thinking of the body of Christ (verses 3-8).
    1. Paul is about to write about being the body of Christ. However, I find it interesting that he begins this section the way he did. It is as if he was saying you cannot live the way a Christian is to live unless you are transformed by Christ. If you are conformed to the world, you cannot live the way a Christian is to live. Further, you must be transformed. After you are transformed the rest will follow.
    2. So, to live as a Christian you need to:
      1. Be one (Romans chapters 1-11).
      2. You must have the right doctrine (Romans chapters 1-11).
      3. You must be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
      4. You must be transformed (Romans 12:2).
    3. Now, he gets practical.
    4. Look at verse 3, Romans 12:3: For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
    5. Now, we are going to skip to verses 9-13.
  1. Christian living (verses 9-13).
    1. Now, Paul gets very practical. Jesus is not mentioned in this section, but He is the backdrop.
    2. Verse 9, Romans 12:9: Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
    3. Paul is straightforward: love should be genuine. Think of genuine. This means it is not fake, it is real.
    4. Abhor what is evil. Abhor means “a strong feeling of revulsion or aversion.”[2]
    5. Hold fast to what is good. Think of holding fast to something, when we are “holding fast” we are holding tightly. We do not want to let go. We cling to what is good. Cling means “to glue something together.”[3]
    6. Verse 10, Romans 12:10: Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
    7. This is the language of family. We are to love one another with the affection we would have for a brother or a sister.
    8. Verse 11, Romans 12:11: Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
    9. Do not be slothful in zeal. To be slothful would mean to be lacking, or to not care, or to be lazy. We must care about zeal. Maybe since they thought the law could not save them and salvation is by grace they could have an “I don’t care attitude.”
    10. Be fervent in spirit. This means passionate intensity. Serve the Lord.
    11. Verses 12-13, Romans 12:12-13: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
    12. Paul is giving simple statements.
    13. Rejoice in what? The hope that we have. We have hope in Christ.
    14. Be patient in what? Patient, even in tribulation. Why? Because of the hope. Be constant in what? Prayer. We must keep praying for our hope and patience in tribulation.
    15. When we do this, we can’t loath our neighbors. It is hard to hate someone we are praying for.
    16. Contribute to what? The needs of the saints.
    17. Show what? Hospitality. That may be one of the needs of the saints. Hospitality was critical back then.
    18. There is a book, “The Gospel Comes with a Housekey.” In it Rosario Butterfield writes about how important hospitality is to the gospel.
  2. Christian unity (verses 14-21).
    1. Verse 14, Romans 12:14: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
    2. That is a common statement throughout the New Testament. Christians will be persecuted. We are to respond with blessing. We are not to curse.
    3. Jesus did this, He prayed for those who crucified Him.
    4. Verse 15, Romans 12:15: Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
    5. As the body of Christ, we rejoice together, but we also weep together. This is about our unity. Remember the picture of the body of Christ like a human body? If my arm hurts it affects my whole body. Therefore, as the body of Christ, we really care about one another. Also,
    6. Verse 16, Romans 12:16: Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
    7. Live in harmony.
    8. Have you ever been to a concert? In a concert multiple instruments and singers come together in unity to make something beautiful.
    9. Do not be haughty. That means arrogant or superior. Don’t be a know it all. That goes along with the next part: Don’t be wise in your own sight.
    10. Verse 17, Romans 12:17: Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
    11. The world would say to repay evil with evil, but not us. We are to repay evil with good. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”[4]
    12. Jesus did not take out vengeance on Judas.
    13. Verse 18, Romans 12:18: If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
    14. “if possible…” This means that this is not always possible, but when it is possible we want to live peaceably with all.
    15. Can we do that? What about our neighbor? Our co-worker? The person who you disagree with?
    16. Verse 19, Romans 12:19: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
    17. Proverbs 25:21-22 are quoted in verse 20, Romans 12:20: To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.
    18. Instead of taking vengeance, we do the opposite. We can do this because we know that God will take care of the sins committed against us.
    19. Feed our enemy. Give water to our enemies.
    20. Verse 21, Romans 12:21: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
    21. That is a summary.
    22. Don’t let evil overcome you. Overcome evil with good.
    23. When we live this verse, it assures that we will not be overcome with evil.
    24. We cannot overcome evil with evil.
    25. In doing this we won’t win all but we will win some for Christ.
    26. If we think lying and sin are effective, we will be overcome with evil. Don’t do that.
    27. John 16:33: Jesus overcame the world.

Jesus changes us to live this way.

I read a book about Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was in the 1936 Olympics held in Germany. He was famous for setting records for how fast he could run the mile.

Later he was planning to enter the next Olympic competition but it was canceled because of WWII. Zamperini entered the war and served on a B 24. He was shot down and spent 47 days at sea and then around three years as a Japanese prisoner of war. He was badly mistreated in the POW camps. 

Following the war he dealt with post traumatic stress disorder. This caused him to plunge into alcoholism which brought on a host of other problems. He was married and had one child, but his marriage was being threatened with divorce. Every time he closed his eyes at night he was plagued with memories of his time as a POW. He was filled with hate and wanted to kill one particular guard (Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), who was later included in General Douglas MacArthur’s list of the 40 most wanted war criminals in Japan. Finally in 1949 as the 31 year old Billy Graham was preaching an evangelical crusade in Los Angeles, Louis’ wife gave her life to Christ at the crusade. She eventually convinced Louis to also attend. Louis attended once and was convicted but left in anger during Graham’s invitation. Louis’ wife, Cynthia, convinced him to attend again. He did and started to leave again during the invitation. But he was convicted and went forward giving his life to Christ.

Following the conversion his life changed dramatically. He went home that night, and at the time when he would usually drink alcohol to excess, he dumped his alcohol down the drain. His hate was changed to forgiveness. His marriage lasted until his wife’s death. He never had nightmares of his time as a POW again. He later went back to Japan and spoke to the guards who were accused and convicted of war crimes. He forgave them. But the one guard who was the worst to Louis, Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), was thought dead and Louis never was able to talk to him. Later they found out he was alive and Louis was scheduled to meet with him and wrote the letter below. But he was not able to meet with him as Watanabe declined the invitation. Someone was supposed to take the letter to him, but no one knows if Watanabe received it. The letter is below:

To Matsuhiro [sic] Watanabe,

         As a result of my prisoner of war experience under your unwarranted and unreasonable punishment, my post-war life became a nightmare. It was not so much due to the pain and suffering as it was the tension of stress and humiliation that caused me to hate with a vengeance.

         Under your discipline, my rights, not only as a prisoner of war but also as a human being, were stripped from me. It was a struggle to maintain enough dignity and hope to live until the war’s end.

         The post-war nightmares caused my life to crumble, but thanks to a confrontation with God through the evangelist Billy Graham, I committed my life to Christ. Love replaced the hate I had for you. Christ said, “Forgive your enemies and pray for them.”

         As you probably know, I returned to Japan in 1952 [sic] and was graciously allowed to address all the Japanese war criminals at Sugamo prison… I asked them about you, and was told that you probably had committed Hara Kiri, which I was sad to hear. At that moment, like the others, I also forgave you and now would hope that you would also become a Christian.

Louis Zamperini[5]

Christ changed Zamperini. He changes us so that we can live differently and love differently.


[1] https://jdgreear.com/blog/what-it-really-means-to-have-our-minds-transformed/?utm_source=JD+Greear+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5e1d797092-BLOG_DIGEST_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_009733a9e6-5e1d797092-87118783

[2] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 236.

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://jdgreear.com/blog/where-do-you-get-the-power-to-forgive/?utm_source=JD+Greear+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2c0a798593-BLOG_DIGEST_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_009733a9e6-2c0a798593-87118783

[5] Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Random House, Inc.. New York. 2010. Specifically pages 396-397 for the letter and pages 368-398 for Louis conversion and life transformation.

The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation (Romans 11:25-36)

The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation (Romans 11:25-36)

Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, September 5, 2021

Children may be dismissed to junior church.

Imagine yourself turning on the TV and tuning into a courtroom trial. In your living room, you can see only what the camera shows you. You don’t hear all the testimony. You don’t get to question the witnesses. You don’t get to see all the evidence. You don’t hear the instructions to the jury. You’re not privy to the conversations between the lawyers and the judge.

When the jury comes in with its verdict and the sentence is passed by the judge, how adequately can you assess whether justice has been done? We would not be able to know what justice required and whether justice was upheld if we are lacking information.

How then can we sit in judgment on God’s justice? We don’t have all the information necessary to judge whether God has been just.[1]

Today, we end the first 11 chapters of Romans. This means that we end the section on doctrine.

Do we allow room for mystery? I am talking about mystery spiritually.

My theme today is:

There is a mystery of how God hardens and softens hearts.

My application: We must allow room for mystery and worship the Lord.

  • The mystery of the partial hardening (verses 25-27).
    1. Let’s look at Romans 11:25-27: Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27“and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
    2. Paul begins to explain the mystery.
    3. He writes that he does not want them to be wise in their own sight. He writes that he does not want them to be unaware.
    4. Do we understand mystery? Do we think that we are wiser than we are? Do we think that we can figure everything out?
    5. D. L. Moody shared: I am glad there are things in the Bible I do not understand. If I could take that book up and read it as I would any other book, I might think I could write a book like that.[2]
    6. Over the last several chapters Paul has been sharing things that are beyond our comprehension. Seriously, we cannot figure out the things of God and we need to be put in our place.
    7. Can we explain how God orchestrates His plan with our freewill? This is an antinomy, that is an apparent contradiction, a paradox. But it is not at all a contradiction. God is so great to know how to work out both without compromising either.
    8. There are other things that we cannot figure out. We cannot figure out the Trinity.
    9. We must leave room for mystery in our life. In Matthew 13:11, Jesus talks about giving the disciples secrets of the Kingdom of God. Listen, there is mystery, and through the Holy Spirit, God lets us in on things, but we will not understand completely.
    10. Now, Paul is about to explain another mystery.
    11. Remember, since Romans chapter 9 Paul has been explaining why the Jewish people have rejected the Messiah.
    12. He has been explaining that God has been consistent with His word.
    13. Paul has shared through many Old Testament prophesies that God was going to include gentiles in His plan and there would only be a remnant of Israelites.
    14. Now, Paul explains why.
    15. This is critical.
    16. This is the conclusion.
    17. A partial hardening…
    18. Notice, this is not a complete hardening.
    19. A partial hardening has come upon Israel, that would be the Jewish people. Their hearts are hardened, but not forever.
    20. Their hearts are hardened until the fulness of the gentiles come in. Their hearts are hardened in order to graft in the gentiles and then the gentiles will make the Israelites want the Gospel more, remember verses 11-14 of this same chapter.
    21. One person shared: time of the gentiles: gentiles had world domination from the time of the Babylonian world domination that started in 605 BC and then Medo-Persia and then Greece and then to Rome and back to Rome at the end of days and until Jesus comes again. Fulness of gentiles is about finding many people among the gentiles to open their hearts to Jesus as Savior. One is political domination and then the other is God’s opening hearts and minds of gentiles to be saved. One is political domination and then the other is salvation. Only at the end of the tribulation will all Israel be saved, but this is just those alive then who make a conscious decision to commit to Jesus.[3]
    22. Now, remember there have been many times the Jewish people hardened their own hearts (called “stiff neck” in Exodus 32:9; 33:3, 5; 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:13; 10:16; 2 Kings 17:14; Acts 7:51). So, does God harden hearts? Yes. Do people harden their own hearts? Yes.
    23. Then, look at verse 26, all Israel will be saved.
    24. This does not mean every Jewish person will be saved without believing in Jesus. One person shared: The end of Romans 11:26 says that all Israel will be saved, the deliverer will come from Zion. The Jewish people alive at the second coming will become believers and enter into the Millennial Kingdom.[4]
    25. This is talking about many Jewish people being saved at the end of the tribulation period and entering into the Millennial Kingdom.
    26. Then Paul says, “as it is written” and that means he is going to quote the Old Testament.
    27. Paul then quotes Isaiah 59:20-21. The Deliverer will come from Zion. Zion means Jerusalem. He will banish ungodliness from Jacob.
    28. CSB: Here in v. 26, “all Israel” means there will be a conversion of the Hebrew nation. It does not mean that every single Jew living will be saved. Salvation is defined in vv. 26–27 as the new covenant that the Messiah will inaugurate.[5]
    29. All Israel, according to the use of the phrase in the LXX, never referred to every single Jew (cf. 1Ch 19:17 where it refers only to soldiers; 1Sm 25:1, where it refers only to those who buried Samuel), and more than likely Paul does not mean that in the future every Jew will be saved. All Israel should probably be understood to refer to the vast majority of the ethnic people of Israel, Jews from every tribe and from every locale all over the world.[6]
    30. Verse 27 continues the quote: God talks about the covenant with them (this is Isaiah 59:21), when God takes away their sins.
    31. This is prophesying Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus, the Messiah came from Jerusalem (Zion).
  • They were enemies of the Gospel, but loved because of their ancestors (verses 28-32).
    1. Let’s read verses 28-32: As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
    2. Now Paul writes that they [the Jewish people] are enemies of the Gospel.
    3. Why? They are enemies of the Gospel because they have rejected the Gospel and persecuted Christians. In Romans 5:10 Paul shares that we are “enemies” of God without Jesus’ blood atoning for our sins.
    4. Why does Paul say “for your sake”? The “your” is the gentiles, the non-Jewish people. This is because since the Jewish people have been rejecting the Gospel this opened the way for the gentiles. So, they, the Jewish people, have been enemies of the gospel, and this allowed more gentiles to come to know Jesus. In verse 11 of this same chapter Paul writes about this, salvation has come to the gentiles.
    5. Paul continues (still in verse 28), but as regards to election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. Now, Paul is talking about how God chose Israel throughout history. Remember Romans 9:5 Paul talked about how they have the patriarchs, etc. Romans 10:15 is similar.
    6. Verse 29: The gifts of the calling of God are irrevocable.
    7. This is an amazing verse. God’s gift and calling on Israel does not change.
    8. This election was God’s choice. This is about the covenant w Abraham. In Genesis 15 God alone passed through the sacrifices which shows He is the only one who can cancel them. The covenant remains.[7]
    9. Verse 30: Paul now says that they at one time were disobedient to God, but now they received mercy because of their disobedience. This just means that because of the Jewish people’s disobedience that opened the way for the gentiles to receive mercy; in this case, God’s mercy.
    10. In verse 31 Paul is saying that will flip. They, the Jewish people, are now disobedient, but will receive mercy because of the mercy shown to the gentiles. This is what Paul wrote about earlier in this chapter. The gentiles accepting Jesus will make the Jewish people jealous for the gospel.
    11. In verse 32 Paul is saying that all are disobedient. The “all” means Jews and gentiles. The Jewish people, the gentiles, everyone needs the Gospel. God wants to show mercy to all. The “all” means all people groups, not all individuals.
  • Doxology (verses 33-36).
    1. Let’s read verses 33-36: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
    2. This is a powerful doxology and I cannot give it justice.
    3. Paul has shared things that are too amazing to understand. The Gospel is for everyone. Israel is rejecting the Savior, but that won’t last forever. There is a mystery in the way God works.
    4. Paul takes a breath, “oh…” The theme of verse 32 that God will give mercy to “all” leads to worship.
    5. H.B. Charles shares: The Truth of God is shallow enough that a little child can come and get a drink without the fear of drowning. But the truth of God is deep enough that the greatest of scholars can come in and never touch the bottom.[8]
    6. So, these next several verses are worship.
    7. There is depth in riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Actually, Paul just exclaims, “Oh, the depth of the riches…”
    8. The juxtaposition of “depth” and “riches” suggests a bottomless treasury of mercy.120[9]
    9. It is the longest of Paul’s doxologies. God’s judgments, his decisions about the world and about human matters, cannot be figured out by human beings.[10]
    10. How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways.
    11. This means that we cannot figure God out. God is deep. There is mystery. One person shares almost every heresy is us trying to scrute the inscrutable.[11]
    12. In verse 34 Paul expands on this with two questions with implied negative answers: Who has known the mind of the Lord? NO ONE. Who has been the Lord’s counselor? NO ONE.
    13. This is from Isaiah 40:13 with allusions to Job 15:8 and Job 36:22-23.
    14. That is even humorous. The Lord does not need counsel from us.
    15. In verse 35 Paul is quoting to Job 35:7 and 41:11. (V. 35 quotes Job 41:11 from some source other than the LXX. “With God, man never earns a recompense; he can only be loved and treated with mercy.”)[12] Who gives gifts to God? God does not need to pay us back for anything. God owns it all (Psalm 50:11).
    16. Paul wraps this worship up with verse 36: From Him, that means from God, through Him, that is God, and to Him, again, God, are all things.
    17. God is the source from which all things come, the means by which all things happen, and the goal toward which all things are moving. He is the originator, sustainer, and finisher of everything ultimately (cf. Col. 1:16). In view of all these things (vv. 33–36), He deserves all glory forever.[13]
    18. 1 Cor. 8:6 is a good cross reference; also John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-20. Other cross references: Rom 16:27; Eph 3:21; Phil 4:20; 1 Tim 1:17; 2 Tim 4:18; 1 Pet 4:11; 5:11; 2 Pet 3:18; Jude 25; Rev 1:6; 5:13; 7:12[14]
    19. To God be the glory.
    20. Amen which means “truly, truly” or “let it be.”
    21. This is how Paul ends these 11 chapters of theology.
  • Summary and applications:
  • We must leave room for mystery in our life (verse 26).
  • We must not be prideful thinking that we can understand everything God does or does not do (verse 26).
  • We must repent of any intellectual pride (verse 25).
  • We must understand that God does have a sovereign plan and He does soften and harden hearts (verse 26).
  • We must understand that God will bring about salvation of many Jewish people in the future. This is most likely the end of the tribulation period, but it could have already begun (verses 26-27).
  • We must understand that the covenant with Israel is irrevocable (verse 29).
  • We must understand we all need God’s mercy (verse 32).
  • We must worship God (verses 33-36).
  • We must understand that God does not owe us anything (verse 35).
  • To God be the glory (verse 36).

In 1862, when Lincoln was 53 years old, his 11-year-old son Willie died. Lincoln’s wife “tried to deal with her grief by searching out New Age mediums.” Lincoln turned to Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.

Several long talks led to what Gurley described as “a conversion to Christ.” Lincoln confided that he was “driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go.”

Similarly, the horrors of the dead and wounded soldiers assaulted him daily. There were fifty hospitals for the wounded in Washington. The rotunda of the Capitol held two thousand cots for wounded soldiers.

Typically, fifty soldiers a day died in these temporary hospitals. All of this drove Lincoln deeper into the providence of God. “We cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.”

His most famous statement about the providence of God in relation to the Civil War was his Second Inaugural Address, given a month before he was assassinated. It is remarkable for not making God a simple supporter for the Union or Confederate cause. God has his own purposes and does not excuse sin on either side.

Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away. . . .Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”[15]

Can we follow President Lincoln’s example and trust the Lord?

Prayer


[1] Source: John Walton, author and Moody Bible Institute professor, from sermon “Auditing God”

[2] Source: D.L. Moody, Christian History, no. 25.

[3] see Luke 21:24; Dr Rydelnic; Open Line; 02.27.2021

[4] Ibid. 05.08.2021

v. verse

vv. verses

[5] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1799.

LXX Septuagint

cf. compare or consult

[6] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1764.

[7] Dr Rydelnic (Professor of Jewish Studies and Bible), Open Line, Moody Radio.

[8] H.B. Charles; Renewing Your Mind; 07.30.2021

120 Dunn, Romans 9–16, p. 699.

[9] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 277.

[10] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 277.

[11] Dr Mohler

Spring convocation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel 2021

LXX Septuagint

[12] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 277.

[13] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 11:36.

[14] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[15] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lincolns-providence?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=82749622&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_MxXo_YBQu18a5XSiFnsSbS0ghk8vpBG5hGNHKPvKKN1XkYQhO_FRoROANfkjmsbTn5Dxabl43TnBPlMMmYwgL3UWWuw&_hsmi=82749622

Gentiles Grafted In (Romans 11:11-24)

Gentiles Grafted In (Romans 11:11-24)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 29, 2021

Albert Einstein wrote things that suggested he had some sort of belief in God, but he also wrote of his own unbelief. James Randerson says:

Einstein penned [a] letter on January 3, 1954, to the philosopher Eric Gutkind who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. The letter went on public sale a year later and has remained in private hands ever since.

In the letter, he states: “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

Einstein, who was Jewish and who declined an offer to be the state of Israel’s second president, also rejected the idea that the Jews are God’s favoured people.

“For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”[1]

My theme today is:

Gentiles are grafted in to a rich faith going back to the Patriarchs.

My applications are:

Don’t be arrogant about your salvation and do not take God’s kindness lightly. Persevere in the faith. 

  1. Context
    1. Beginning in Romans 9:1-6 Paul has been answering the question of the people of Israel, the Jewish people.
    2. Why would they reject Jesus?
    3. In the beginning of Romans 9, Paul said that he would be willing to be accursed for the sake of his brethren (Romans 9:3).
    4. In Romans 10:1-2 Paul also shared his heart for Israel.
    5. In Romans 9 and 10 Paul was showing that God is being consistent with His promises. God had spoken through the prophets that gentiles would be grafted in and that Jesus would be a stumbling block to the Jewish people (Romans 9:30-33 specific about Jesus being a stumbling block).
    6.  In Romans 11:1-10 Paul shared that God did preserve a remnant.
  2. Salvation comes to the gentiles to make Israel desire a relationship with Jesus (verses 11-12).
    1. In verse 11 Paul begins with a question and this question refers back to the previous section.
    2. Look at verse 11 (Romans 11:11): So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
    3. In the previous verses Paul had written about the hardness of heart the Israelites were under.
    4. Now, Paul is answering the question, did they stumble and fall?
    5. Now, they stumbled, but this led to the gentiles salvation. If they had fallen, there would have been no Messiah and further no salvation for the gentiles.
    6. God had a purpose. Through their stumbling, through their hardness of heart, the gentiles have been saved.
    7. The gentiles are to make the Israelites jealous, that is to desire salvation.
    8. Look at verse 12 (Romans 11:12): Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
    9. Now Paul uses a “how much more” argument.
    10. If their trespass means riches for the world…
    11. If their failure means riches for the gentiles…
    12. How much more will their full inclusion mean. This is meaning, if by their sin rejecting the Messiah means that others are saved, how much greater will it be when this partial hardening is over and the Jewish people are again included in God’s plan.
    13. Dr Constable: Paul here anticipated the national repentance of Israel that he articulated later (v. 26). God promised to bless the world through Israel (Gen. 12:1–3). How much more blessing will come to the world when Israel turns back to God than is coming to the world now while she is in rebellion against God![2]
    14. Remember this is about God’s plan.
    15. CSB: The future reception of Jews by God will result in world blessing. If their unbelief brought riches to the Gentiles, their future faith in Jesus as Messiah will enrich the world (cp. Is 2:2–4).[3]
  3. Paul addresses the gentiles; don’t forget you are grafted into Judaism (verses 13-16).
    1. Let’s read verses 13-14 (Romans 11:13-14): Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.
    2. I always love how direct Paul is. In this case he is addressing the gentiles and he says that he is an apostle to the gentiles.
    3. In Acts 9:15 when Paul is saved God tells Ananias that Paul is a “chosen instrument of Mine [God’s] to bear My name before the gentiles…”
    4. Paul says that he “magnifies” his ministry. How does he magnify his ministry?
    5. The answer is if he can provoke his people, that is the Jewish people, to jealousy and save some of them, that magnifies his ministry. How does that magnify his ministry?
    6. I think the answer is that then he is a missionary to the gentiles and the Jewish people. His ministry expands.
    7. Let’s look at verses 15-16 (Romans 11:15-16): For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
    8. Their rejection, that is the Jewish people’s rejection, means the reconciliation of the world. Does this mean the whole world is reconciled to God? Of course not. It means the reconciliation of those who accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation. Romans 5:11 shares that when we believe in Jesus we are reconciled to God. We are friends with God. The hostility created by our sin is taken away. 
    9. What does their acceptance mean? What does the acceptance of Jesus by the Jewish people mean? It means life from the dead. It means life from the dead for those that accept the Gospel. But how is this greater?
    10. Paul is saying that the gentiles are grafted in. He is going to build on that beginning in verse 17. So, Judaism is the tree, and the gentiles are wild branches. If the tree is holy because more Jewish people are saved, he is saying that the tree is more alive from the dead. Specifically, in verse 16 he is saying if the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, who would that be? That would be Israelites, the Jewish people. If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the lump. He is saying the foundation is holy, so the rest is holy. Further, if the root is holy, so are the branches. If more Jewish people accept Jesus that is life from the dead, and this is because the foundation, dough, the root, is holy.
    11. New American Commentary: …it would appear that what Paul was speaking of here was a great spiritual awakening of Israel to take place at the end of human history.[4]
    12. Dr Constable: When Israel returns to God and He accepts her, the results for all humankind are comparable to life from the dead (cf. Ezek. 37). God’s blessings on humanity now will pale by comparison with what the world will experience then (i.e., during the Millennium).[5]
    13. Paul will build on this in the next section.
    14. New American Commentary: Numbers 15:17–21 describes an offering made from the first grain harvested and ground. The cake presented to the Lord consecrated the rest of the batch. Paul wrote that if the dough offered as firstfruits was holy, then the entire batch was holy. In this metaphor the “dough” represents the Jewish believers who had accepted Christ (the remnant of v. 5), and the “whole batch” would be those who would come to believe. The metaphor changes to a tree with its branches. If the root is holy, so are the branches. In this case the “root” represents the patriarchs (esp. Abraham); and the “branches,” the nation that follows. The point is that if the patriarchs were holy (and they were), so also were the Jewish people (in the sense that the positive effects of the patriarchs reached to them (cf. 1 Cor 7:14). God’s rejection of the Jewish nation was neither complete (Rom 11:1–10) nor final (11:11–24).[6]
  4. The gentiles were grafted into Judaism, but they can be cut off (verses 17-24).
    1. New American Commentary: The normal process of grafting called for cultivated shoots to be joined to the branches of a wild olive tree that had been cut back. The exposed ends were smeared with clay and bound with cloth or date straw.103[7]
    2. IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Grafting of trees (adding a shoot of one tree to another tree) is reported in both Jewish and Greco-Roman literature. Sometimes shoots from a wild olive tree would be grafted onto a domestic olive tree that was bearing little fruit in an attempt to strengthen or save the life of the tree. The unproductive original branches would be pruned off, and the new graft was considered “contrary to nature” (as in 11:24—NASB).[8]
    3. Paul is about to expand on his metaphor about a root and a branch. Paul writes about an olive tree.
    4. Dr. Constable: The cultivated olive tree was a symbol of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament (Jer. 11:16–17; Hos. 14:4–6).[9]
    5. The Jewish people are the natural branches.
    6. The gentiles are unnatural branches, wild branches.
    7. Paul seems to be thinking of a heavenly olive tree. All of these branches are on this heavenly tree. Some of the branches belong all the way down to the root. These are the Jewish branches. Others come from a wild olive tree. These branches are added because they believe in Jesus. However, some of the natural heavenly branches are cut off because they reject Jesus, but they can be grafted back in.
    8. We must persevere in the faith.
    9. Another illustration would be a train heading for heaven and a train headed for hell. The train heading for heaven is made up of cars which are natural. The natural cars are Jewish. But some of these natural cars quit believing that the Engine is taking them to heaven and so they fall off the tracks. But then some of the cars from the train heading to hell start believing the Engine of the train heading for heaven will take them to Heaven. They are then attached to the train heading to Heaven. Still, if they do not keep believing and do not stay attached they will be cut off. Likewise, the cars that fell off the tracks can still be re-attached if they believe in Jesus.
    10. Let’s read verses 17-18 (Romans 11:17-18): But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.
    11. Imagine this. We have this olive tree. Some branches are broken off. Then there is a wild olive shoot and it is grafted in. The wild olive shoot that is grafted in now shares in the nourishing root from the olive tree.
    12. That is the gentiles. That would be us. We are grafted in. We receive the nourishing roots of the natural olive tree of Judaism.
    13. Verse 18 is challenging the gentiles are not to be arrogant toward the natural branches. We must not be arrogant towards the Jewish people. Remember Judaism supports us, not the other way around.
    14. Jeremiah 11:16ff addresses Israel as a green olive tree.
    15. Verse 19 reads (Romans 11:19): Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.
    16. Paul is not anticipating their response. These branches were broken off. These Israelites rejected the Messiah. This gave a spot for me.
    17. Then in verses 20-21 Paul responds (Romans 11:20-21): That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
    18. Paul shares that is correct. They were broken off, but why were they broken off? They were broken off because of their unbelief.
    19. BUT… this is a strong contrast. In contrast to those broken off, you must stand fast through faith. Do not become proud. Instead, fear. You may bring up the many times in the Bible we are told not to fear. You may bring up Deuteronomy 31:8; Isaiah 43:1; Matthew 10:31; 1 John 4:18; and others. But this is a different type of fear. We do not need to fear when we are doing what God calls us to do. This is a fear of sinning, this is a fear of NOT trusting God. This is a fear of backsliding, or falling away.
    20. Why would we fear? We must fear falling away. We must fear losing the faith. We must fear not persevering in the faith.
    21. Paul gives the main reason to fear. Verse 21 says that God did not spare the natural branches. That means that God did not spare the natural born Israelites, so he definitely will NOT spare us.
    22. Now let’s look at the next verse.
    23. Verse 22 (Romans 11:22): Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
    24. Paul wants them to take notice.
    25. Take notice of the kindness of the Lord.
    26. But also notice the severity of the Lord.
    27. God is severe toward those who have fallen. But God is kind towards them, the gentiles, as long as they continue in His kindness.
    28. This is a passage about perseverance.
    29. We must persevere in the faith, or be cutoff.
    30. In Romans 2:4 Paul says that God’s kindness is to lead to repentance. Heb 3:6, 14 are about holding fast the faith.
    31. Remember John 15:2 about bearing fruit or else we will be cutoff?
    32. Now, let’s look at verses 23-24 (Romans 11:23-24): And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
    33. Paul is now saying that the Jewish people that repent will be grafted back in. If they do not continue in their unbelief, that is if they repent they will be grafted in.
    34. God is able to graft them in again.
    35. I read the following: Science writer Hope Jahren shares an interesting fact about plants, especially how a tiny seed starts to put down roots—the most essential thing for a plant’s survival. She writes,
    36. No risk is more terrifying than that taken by the first root. A lucky root will eventually find water, but its first job is to anchor … Once the first root is extended, the plant will never again enjoy any hope of relocating to a place less cold, less dry, less dangerous. Indeed, it will face frost, drought, and greedy jaws without any possibility of flight.
    37. She calls taking root a big “gamble,” but if the seed takes root it can go down twelve, thirty, forty meters. The results are powerful. The tree’s roots can “swell and split bedrock, and move gallons of water daily for years, much more efficiently than any pump yet invented by man.” If the root takes root, then the plant becomes all but indestructible: “Tear apart everything aboveground—everything—and most plants can still grow rebelliously back from just one intact root. More than once. More than twice.”[10]
    38. If you were cut off from a wild olive tree, that is the gentile olive tree, and grafted into a cultivated olive tree, that is a Jewish olive tree, then how much more can the natural branches be grafted back in. They can be grafted back into their cultivated tree.
    39. I want to repeat the following for emphasis:
    40. Paul seems to be thinking of a heavenly olive tree. All of these branches are on this heavenly tree. Some of the branches belong all the way down to the root. These are the Jewish branches. Others come from a wild olive tree. These branches are added because they believe in Jesus. However, some of the natural heavenly branches are cut off because they reject Jesus, but they can be grafted back in.
    41. We must persevere in the faith.
    42. Another illustration would be a train heading for heaven and a train headed for hell. The train heading for heaven is made up of cars which are natural. The natural cars are Jewish. But some of these natural cars quit believing that the Engine is taking them to heaven and so they fall off the tracks. But then some of the cars from the train heading to hell start believing the Engine of the train heading for heaven will take them to Heaven. They are then attached to the train heading to Heaven. Still, if they do not keep believing and do not stay attached they will be cut off. Likewise, the cars that fell off the tracks can still be re-attached if they believe in Jesus.
    43. A key point of this illustration is to encourage the gentiles not to be arrogant. They must understand when they are grafted in their roots are in Israel. They are still gentiles but the roots of their salvation are in Israel.
  5. Applications:
    • We must understand that God is not finished with Israel (verse 11).
    • We must understand that Israel has stumbled, but not fallen (verse 11).
    • We must understand that God is at work saving gentiles in order to make Israel jealous for salvation (verse 11).
    • We must understand that there will be a great inclusion of Israel at some point (verse 12).
    • We must understand that salvation is from the Jewish people (John 4:22), meaning the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (verses 16-24)).
    • We must not be prideful of our salvation (verse 18).
    • We must understand that we are grafted into a rich heritage from the Jewish people going back to the patriarchs.
    • I see stern warnings about perseverance in verses 21-22. If God cuts off Israelites who do not believe and accept Jesus, what will He do to us if we do not persevere in the faith.
    • We must understand the kindness of God, but also the severity of God. God does not tolerate those who do not persevere following Him.
      • Some of us really must take this warning.
      • Some of us may well realize the kindness of God, but often forget His holiness.
      • God’s holiness is not to be trifled with.
      • We must be devoted to Him.
      • He is Lord of all or not Lord at all.
    • Understand, that all of the applications recently have been more about beliefs, but soon when we get to Romans 12 they will transition to behavior. 

It happened in just a blink with a quarter mile to go at the 2005 running of the Preakness. Afleet Alex had battled his way to the front of the pack when another horse cut in front of him, and their heels clipped each other. Afleet Alex stumbled, his knees buckled, his nose nearly went into the dirt, and his jockey, Jeremy Rose, hung on.

“That’s the closest I’ve ever been without falling. I thought for sure we were going down,” Rose said. “The thought process was, I was going to get run over. Luckily, he came right back up underneath me.”

Afleet Alex not only recovered, he went on to win the race by nearly five lengths.

The Bible sometimes refers to the Christian life as running a race in which we all stumble, and yet if we hold on, the Lord provides us sure footing and balance so that we will not fall.[11]

Let’s persevere in the faith!

Prayer


[1] Source: James Randerson, “Childish superstition: Einstein’s letter makes view of religion relatively clear,” http://www.guardian.co.uk (5-13-08)

[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 11:12.

cp. compare

[3] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1799.

[4] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 219.

[5] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 11:15.

[6] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 220.

103 J. A. Patch, “Graft,” ISBE, rev., 2.553.

[7] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 220.

NASB New American Standard Bible

[8] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ro 11:17–24.

[9] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 11:17.

[10] Source: Adapted from Hope Jahren, Lab Girl (Kopf, 2016), pages 45-46

[11] Source: “Afleet Alex Averts Disaster,” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7774053/displaymode/1107/s/1/framenumber/1/vaar1/btn_0 http://www.msnbc.msn.com (5-23-05)

God Has Not Rejected Israel (Romans 11:1-10)

God Has Not Rejected Israel (Romans 11:1-10)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, August 22, 2021

One fine day in 1941, Violet Bailey and her fiancé Samuel Booth were strolling through the English countryside, deeply in love and engaged to be married. A diamond engagement ring sparkled on Violet’s finger—her most treasured possession.

Their romantic bliss suddenly ended. One of them said something that hurt the other. An argument ensued, then escalated. At its worst point, Violet became so angry she pulled the diamond engagement ring from her finger, drew back her arm, and hurled the treasured possession with all her might into the field.

The ring sailed through the air, fell to the ground, and nestled under the grass in such a way that it was impossible to see. Violet and Samuel kissed and made up. Then they walked and walked through that field hunting for the lost ring. They never found it.

They were married two months later. They had a child and eventually a grandson. Part of their family lore was the story of the lost engagement ring.

Violet and Samuel grew old together, and in 1993 Samuel died. Fifteen years passed, but the ring was not forgotten. One day Violet’s grandson got an idea. Perhaps he could find his grandmother’s ring with a metal detector. He bought one and went to the field where Violet had hurled her treasured possession 67 years earlier. He turned on his metal detector and began to crisscross the field, waving the detector over the grass. After two hours of searching, he found what he was looking for. Later, filled with joy and pride, he placed the diamond ring into the hand of his astonished grandmother Violet. The treasured possession had come home.[1]

Think about losing something like that. Well, in the passage we are going to look at Paul responds to those who thought Israel was lost. Israel was not lost. Like God preserved the engagement ring, God preserved a remnant of Israelites.

My theme today is:

Israel has not been rejected, God preserved a remnant.

  1. Context:
    1. One source shares: In Rm 9, Paul introduced the themes of election of some of the offspring of Abraham to be His children of promise and the hardening of others. In chap. 10, he emphasized the need for faith in Christ. In chap. 11, Paul weaves together all of these themes, and argues that there is still a future for ethnic Israel in God’s program.[2]
    2. How did we get to this point?
    3. In Romans chapters 9 and 10 Paul has been writing about the Jewish People, Israel. He has been answering the question about why the Jewish people, the Israelites, have rejected Jesus.
    4. Paul has been making the case that God had told them this would happen.
    5. In Romans 10:6-21, last week’s message, Paul wrote about preaching the Gospel and then also he used many Old Testament passages to again show that God said that not all would believe.
    6. Now, we come to Romans 11:1-10.
  2. Israel’s rejection is not complete or final.
    1. In verse 1 Paul very directly asks a question.
    2. Paul is answering an unseen objector.
    3. Look at verse 1, Romans 11:1: I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
    4. Paul asks the question and then he is absolutely emphatic in the response. “By no means.” Of course, he has not rejected His people.
    5. Paul considers himself part of the remnant that has been preserved.
    6. One source shares: “Had God cast away His people, then above all He would have cast away the Apostle Paul, who had opposed Him with all his might” (Luther, Romans, 139). Cranfield thinks Paul’s reference to himself is meant to argue that if God had really cast off Israel as a whole he would never have chosen an Israelite to be his apostle to the Gentiles (Cranfield, Romans, 2.544).[3]
    7. Paul then gives an example. Look at the example. Paul uses himself as an example.
    8. Paul, himself, is an Israelite. Paul is a descendant of Abraham. Paul knows his tribe as well, Benjamin.
    9. One source shares: Moses referred to Benjamin as “the beloved of the Lord” (Deut 33:12). Morris notes that Benjamin was the only son of Jacob born in Israel, that Jerusalem was situated on land belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, that Benjamin was the only tribe remaining faithful to Judah, and that the first king of Israel came from the tribe of Benjamin (Romans, 398–99). Käsemann refers to the tradition that says Benjamin was the first of the tribes to cross through the Red Sea (Romans, 299).[4]
    10. God did not reject Paul.
    11. Look at verse 2, Romans 11:2: God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?
    12. Paul restates to make his case. “God has not rejected His people.” But Paul adds, “people whom He foreknew.
    13. God foreknew Israel.
    14. Psalm 94:14 is a cross reference.
    15. Now, Paul uses an example of Elijah.
    16. Verse 3, Romans 10:3, is from 1 Kings 19:10 and 14. Look at verse 3-4, Romans 10:3-4: “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
    17. Verse 4 comes from 1 Kings 19:18.
    18. This is about Elijah talking to God after he conquered the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19:20-40). Elijah conquered these prophets, but then Jezebel wanted to kill him, so he was running scared.
    19. Elijah talks with God and says, “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.”
    20. Elijah felt alone, but he was not.
    21. God responded.
    22. Paul even says, “What is God’s reply to him?”
    23. God had 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Baal was a false God they worshipped.
    24. Paul goes deep in the Old Testament scripture to make the case which he shares in verse 5. God preserved a remnant.
    25. Look at verse 5, Romans 11:5: So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
    26. What is Paul saying?
    27. God has not rejected all Israel.
    28. Some Israelites will be saved.
    29. God has kept a remnant.
    30. In one source a footnote shared the following: Nygren points out that the existence of a remnant in any age depends not upon the character of the people but wholly on God’s purpose and election. Thus “ ‘remnant’ and ‘election’ (λεῖμμα and ἐκλογὴ) are interchangeable concepts. A ‘remnant’ is not just a group of separate individuals, taken out of a people doomed to overthrow; it is itself the chosen people, it is Israel in nuce” (Romans, 392–93).[5]
    31. This remnant is chosen by God, and how are they chosen, by grace.
    32. It is not about works.
    33. Look at verse 6, Romans 11:6: But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
    34. If we earn our salvation it is no longer grace.

In his book Connecting Christ, Paul Metzger retells the story of the friendship between the Jewish writer Elie Wiesel and the French Christian writer Francois Mauriac. While in Auschwitz, Wiesel was torn from his mother and sisters and forced to watch his father get beaten to death by Nazi guards. After the war, Wiesel chose to keep silent about his traumatic experiences. But as a young writer, Wiesel had the chance to interview Mauriac, a prominent Christian writer and former leader in the French Resistance movement. Though he respected Mauriac, Wiesel arrived at Mauriac’s apartment with an ulterior motive: he wanted Mauriac to help him meet the Prime Minister of France, which would have been a boost to Wiesel’s emerging writing career. In a 1996 interview here’s how Wiesel recounts their first meeting:

Mauriac was an old man then, but when I came to Mauriac, he agreed to see me. We met and we had a painful discussion. The problem was that [Mauriac] was in love with Jesus. He was the most decent person I ever met in that field—as a writer, as a [Christian] writer. Honest, sense of integrity, and he was in love with Jesus. He spoke only of Jesus. Whatever I would ask—Jesus.

Finally … when he said Jesus again I couldn’t take it, and … I was discourteous, which I regret to this day. I said, “Mr. Mauriac … ten years or so ago, I have seen children, hundreds of Jewish children, who suffered more than Jesus did on his cross, and we do not speak about it.” I felt all of a sudden so embarrassed. I closed my notebook and went to the elevator. He ran after me. He pulled me back; he sat down in his chair, and I in mine, and he began weeping. I have rarely seen an old man weep like that, and I felt like such an idiot. I felt like a criminal. This man didn’t deserve that. He was really a pure man, a member of the Resistance. I didn’t know what to do. We stayed there like that, he weeping and I closed in my own remorse. And then, at the end … he simply said, “You know, maybe you should talk about it?”

He took me to the elevator and embraced me. And that year, the tenth year, I began writing [Night, my novel about the Holocaust]. After it was translated from Yiddish into French, I sent it to him. We were very, very close friends until his death.

Later in his life Wiesel declared that it was Mauriac, the man “who declared himself in love with Christ,” who influenced him to share his story and become a writer.[6]

  • Paul gives substance to his claim about a remnant (verses 7-10).
    1. Look at verse 7, Romans 11:7: What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened
    2. Paul asks a question, it is as if he is asking a question in order to explain what he means.
    3. Israel failed, they missed the mark. They were seeking the Messiah, but they missed.
    4. The elect, that is the chosen one, the remnant did obtain it.
    5. The rest were hardened.
    6. We have talked about this.
    7. There is a mystery to this, but it does seem that most hardened, also hardened their own hearts.
    8. Look at verse 8, from Isaiah 29:10 and Deuteronomy 29:4. Romans 11:8: as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”
    9. “As it is written” means that he is going to quote Scripture.
    10. The first line was quoted from Is 29:10 and the last lines are adapted from Dt 29:4.[7]
    11. God gave them over… God let them go their own way.
    12. They had eyes but could not see and ears that could not hear. Paul quotes from Moses here. First he quoted from Isaiah and then Deuteronomy, which would be Moses.
    13. Later in verse 25 of this chapter, Romans 11:25 Paul will say that a partial hardening has come upon Israel.
    14. Paul has made his case from Isaiah and now he will make his case from David. Verses 9-10 come from Psalm 69:22, 23. Look at verses 9-10, Romans 11:9-10: And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”
    15. Paul takes this passage and applies it to Israel. Israel had darkened eyes and became a servant to others.
    16. MacArthur shares: A person’s “table” was thought to be a place of safety, but the table of the ungodly is a trap. Many people trust in the very things that damn them.[8]
    17. One source shares: The Jews regarded Psalm 69 as Messianic in Paul’s day (cf. John 15:25). The quotation from this psalm (vv. 22–23) records David’s desire. He wished that his enemies’ table (i.e., blessings) would become something that they would stumble over. The enemies in view were the Lord’s enemies as well as the king’s since he was the Lord’s anointed. This is really what had happened to the Israelites who had set themselves against God by rejecting His Son. Inability to see clearly and bondage to the Law had resulted (cf. Act. 15:10). The Greek phrase dia pantos usually means “continually.” It probably means that here rather than “forever.”333 Paul would explain that Israel’s obstinacy and bondage would not last indefinitely (v. 26). Paul explained that God had brought upon the Jews what David had prayed would happen to his persecutors.[9]
    18. One source shares: The Jewish nation missed salvation because they sought for it by works. The elect portion was given mercy, but the majority was hardened in unbelief; OT citations are given to show that God has judged his people.[10]
    19. augustine: Behold mercy and judgment—mercy on the elect, who have obtained the righteousness of God, but judgment upon the others who have been blinded. And yet the former have believed because they willed it, while the latter have not believed because they have not willed it. Hence mercy and judgment were executed in their own wills.[11]
  • applications:
    1. We must remember that we do not know the Lord’s mind, the Lord is still at work (verses 1-10 and also later in verse 34).
    2. We must not be like Elijah and think that we are the only Christian(s) left (verses 3-4).
      1. Many times, we do think that we are alone as the only Christian, but we must be encouraged. God is with us and many times there are more Christians supporting us than we realize.
      2. Further, even if we are missionaries, and we are truly the only Christians, in that case, people are praying for us.
      3. We likely have more Christians around us in the workplace.  
      4. We likely have more Christians around us in the school. Maybe if we speak up they will too.
    3. Notice, the remnant in verse 5 is chosen by grace. We must remember God’s sovereignty and God’s grace. God’s grace is amazing. The remnant is not about what they did, or do, and neither is our salvation.  
    4. Verses 8-10 uses references from Isaiah 29:10; Deuteronomy 29:4 and Psalm 69:22-23 to remind us that God has been consistent with His promises. We must worship the Lord remembering that He does not lie or change His mind (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29).

I read the following:

We have a sterling silver tea set at home that a family member gave us as a reminder of her love for us. It’s quite old and beautifully made, and it sits on a stand in our dining room. There’s only one problem: we can’t use it. Before she gave it to us, she had it chemically coated so that it wouldn’t tarnish. Hot water will ruin the finish.

God’s not looking for sterling silver tea sets. He’s looking for rough-and-tumble clay pots—the kind that can be used everyday. He’s looking for the kind of pots that don’t need to be tucked away in a china closet, but can be sent out into a crash-bang world, carrying within them the life of Christ. The church was never meant to be a china cabinet, where precious pieces could be safely stowed out of harm’s way. The church was meant to be a working kitchen, where well-worn pots are filled again and again to dispense their life-giving contents to a thirsty world.[12]


[1] Source: “It wasn’t all bad,” The Week (2-15-08), p. 4

chap. chapter

chap. chapter

[2] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1762.

[3] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[4] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[5] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995).

[6] Source: Paul Metzger, Connecting Christ, (Thomas Nelson, 2012), pp. 73-74

[7] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 11:8.

[8] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 11:9.

333 333. Cranfield, 2:552.

[9] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 11:9.

OT Old Testament

[10] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1799.

[11] James Stuart Bell, ed., Ancient Faith Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bibles, 2019), 1405.

[12] Source: Bryan Wilkerson, “Unbreakable?” PreachingToday.com

The Message of Salvation for All (Romans 10:5-21)

The Message of Salvation for All (Romans 10:5-21)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, Ohio on Sunday, August 15, 2021

In one of the popular ads that accompanied the 2010 Super Bowl, Cars.com tells the fictional story of a wonder child named Timothy Richman. From his earliest years, Timothy displayed an amazing level of confidence, and his confidence came from knowledge.

As a toddler eating in his high chair, he saw a pan of food cooking on the stove catch fire. Knowing somehow that baking soda puts out fires, Timothy calmly threw his rattle at a box of baking soda located on a shelf above the flaming pan, knocking over the box, which poured the soda into the pan and extinguished the flames.

As a boy about to learn to ride a bike, Timothy stands straddling the bike as his dad prepares to put on the training wheels. Timothy says, “Balance, momentum, and a low center of gravity,” and with that knowledge fully absorbed, before Timothy’s dad can get the training wheels on, Timothy pedals the bike away and down the driveway.

In junior high, Timothy confidently walks up to a teen on an Italian beach who has been stung on the leg by a jellyfish and acting on his knowledge of first aid, he pours vinegar on the inflamed skin. He explains in perfect Italian that vinegar can neutralize jellyfish stings.

As a high school student on safari in Africa, he uses his knowledge of veterinary obstetrics to deliver a baby Bengal tiger that was breeched.

As an adult, Timothy gets out of his car on a highway as a tornado approaches a bus full of cheerleaders. Using his knowledge of storm cells and tornadoes, he explains to the cheerleaders that they will be safe if they exit the bus and lie in a low-lying depression beside the road. Just as the cheerleaders and Timothy jump safely into the ditch, the bus rises in the air and is carried away by the tornado.

The narrator explains, however, as Timothy stands with a scared look on his face in a new car lot, “When it came time to buy a new car, he was just as nervous as the rest of us.”

Then Timothy sees a Cars.com sign and pulls out his cell phone. The narrator concludes, “So Timothy Richman got his knowledge at Cars.com, regained his confidence, and got the perfect car at the perfect price.”

This little commercial entertainingly illustrates the fact that no matter how much knowledge and confidence you have in many areas of life, you can still be clueless in another important area of living.

The fact is, no matter how smart you are, apart from God’s help you are clueless about important spiritual truths.[1]

In the passage we are going to look at today we will see the apostle Paul continue to impress that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. We cannot earn our way to Heaven. Paul continues to answer the question about the Jewish people.

My theme today: Salvation is for everyone.

The application:

Make sure Jesus is your Lord and also share the Gospel with others.

  1. Context
    1. We continue our trek through Romans, and we come to the rest of Romans chapter 10.
    2. In the beginning of chapter 10 Paul wrote about the Jewish people.
    3. Romans 10 began like Romans 9. Paul shares his passion for the Jewish people. Paul shares his heart that they would know the Lord.
    4. In Verse 1 (Romans 10:1) Paul shares that he is praying for their salvation.
    5. In verse 4 (Romans 10:4) Paul shares that Jesus is the end of the Law. It seems that that means, as MacArthur shares, Paul means that belief in Christ as Lord and Savior ends the sinner’s futile quest for righteousness through his imperfect attempts to save himself by efforts to obey the law (cf. 3:20–22; Is 64:6; Col 2:13, 14).[2]
    6. This leads us to the rest of Romans 10.
  2. Saved by faith, not by works (Romans 10:5-13).
    1. In these next several verses Paul writes about how we are saved by faith and not by works.
    2. Remember Paul has been contrasting this all throughout the book of Romans. More specifically, in Romans 9:30-33 and 10:1-4 Paul talked about the Jewish people stumbling over Jesus (verses 32-33). The Jewish people thought they could achieve righteousness by keeping the Law, but they did not pursue it by faith (Romans 9:32). Paul had said they had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. They conformed to the Law, but missed Jesus. They thought they could achieve righteousness on their own (Romans 10:2-3).
    3. Look at verse 5 (Romans 10:5): For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.
    4. Now, Paul is getting more specific in his contrast. What is the Law of Moses? What did Moses write about?
    5. Now, this is about the Ten Commandments. This is about the Torah, the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Moses wrote those books, inspired by God.
    6. Moses wrote about righteousness based on the Law.
    7. The person who does the commandments, the commandments taught by Moses, shall live by them.
    8. Leviticus 18:5 says just that: You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.
    9. The thing is that no one could keep the Law. Romans 7:10 reads: The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
    10. Let’s keep going. Look at verse 6, Romans 10:6: But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down)
    11. Now, Paul is getting into righteousness that is based on faith and not based on the Law. This is from Deuteronomy 30:12. This continues. Look at verse 7 (Romans 10:7): “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
    12. Remember these are statements that we are NOT to say. Verse 7 is a quotation from Deuteronomy 30:13. Paul takes these statements and applies them to Christ.
    13. We cannot bring Christ down or bring Christ up.
    14. Look at verses 8-9 (Romans 10:8-9): But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    15. The word is near you… That comes from Deuteronomy 30:14.
    16. What word is near you? Paul answers it right here. The word of faith, which they are proclaiming, the Gospel.
    17. In verse 9 Paul continues to share what the word is:
    18. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. We have a simple Gospel message right there. Notice there could be more right here, but Paul lists some main things. Jesus is Lord, God raised Him from the dead.
    19. Public confession: In the first century when one was baptized they had to say Jesus is Lord.
    20. His Name is Jesus, but Lord is His title.
    21. Paul adds more explanation in the next verse:
    22. Verse 10 reads (Romans 10:10): For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
    23. The belief is in the heart and that belief brings justification, that is God declares us righteous.
    24. Then one confesses that and is saved. To me it seems this happens simultaneously and the confession testifies to the salvation.
    25. Verse 11 (Romans 10:11) is another Scripture quotation: For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed [or put to shame].”
    26. This is from Isaiah 28:16 and had been quoted in Romans 9:33.
    27. Verses 12-13 close up this section: Romans 10:12–13 (ESV)
    28. 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
    29. Verse 12 begins with “for” which means this is an explanation. There is no distinction between Greek and Jewish persons. Paul has been contrasting the Greeks with the Jewish people all through the book and here he is saying the same Lord is Lord of all. Romans 3:32 and 3:29 had shared that. 
    30. God is giving riches on all who call on Him.
    31. Everyone, regardless of ethnicity, who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.
    32.  Verse 13 is a quote from Joel 2:32.
  3. The importance of preaching the Gospel (verses 14-15).
    1. Look now how Paul continues this Gospel theme. Paul had just shared that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved and now he is going to talk about preachers.
    2. Verse 14 (Romans 10:14): How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
    3. There are three questions here, one after another, with implied negative answers. No one can believe if they have never heard. They cannot hear without a preacher.
    4. Paul is not talking here about OT believers who looked forward to Christ, such as Abraham and David in ch. 4, nor is he talking about infants who die in infancy.[3]
    5. Then verse 15 (Romans 10:15): And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
    6. The context of Isaiah’s words was the announcement of God’s favor in restoring Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity.[4]

Joni Eareckson Tada

Once while Ken was cleaning out our garage, he came through the kitchen door holding up a pair of Canadian crutches. “Do you want to dump these?” he asked. I stared at the dusty crutches and my throat tightened. “They’re Daddy’s,” I said with wet eyes. The aluminum was scraped and the rubber tips were scuffed, but the crutches brought into focus a flood of memories.

When I was in the hospital, I could always tell when my father was coming for a visit. “Click-click” his crutches would echo on the hallway tile. Oh boy, Daddy’s here! I would think, grinning to myself. I felt that he, more than anyone else in the family, understood my situation. This is why for me that clicking sound was so welcome. Today’s verse talks about the beauty of feet that bring good news—that includes crutches!

Think today about all the friends and family members you know who bring you good tidings and the words of peace. The sandaled feet of your daughter, home from college. The tennis-shoed feet of your neighbor with whom you walk every morning. What do people think of when they hear your feet coming? Do they say, “Oh boy, here comes…!”

Make my feet beautiful, Lord. May I be mindful to carry the good news of your glad tidings to others today.[5]

  • Another question with an implied negative answer. They can’t preach unless they are sent. “As it is written” means he is going to use another Old Testament quotation, this time from Isaiah 52:7.
    • Rom 1:15; 15:20 are good cross references.
  • They did not all believe (Romans 10:16-21).
    • Now, the “they” would be the Israelites. The people of Israel, the Jewish people, did not all believe.
    • Look at verse 16 (Romans 10:16): But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”
    • This comes from Isaiah 53:1.
    • Verse 17 (Romans 10:17) comes back to the previous theme of salvation. Look at verse 17 (Romans 10:17): So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
    • We must hear the Word of Christ, or of course read the Word of Christ, that would be implicit too.
    • Faith does not come from charisma or gimmicks, etc. Luther said something like he and Melanchon sat and drank beer while the Word did the work…[6]
    • In verses 18-21 Paul strings together Old Testament quotations. Let’s look at those (Romans 10:18-21):
    • 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,

and their words to the ends of the world.”

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

              “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;

with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

              “I have been found by those who did not seek me;

I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

  1. In verse 18 God is asking, “have ‘they’ not heard?” the “they” is Israel. This is Israel’s culpability.
    1. Verse 18 then quotes Psalm 19:4. That particular Psalm is about God’s general revelation. God has revealed Himself in nature.
    2. Then verse 19 quotes Deuteronomy 32:21. In that passage God prophesies His frustration and even anger with their idols, so He will make them jealous with other nations. God will use other nations, nations that do not understand the covenant.
    3. Then, verse 20, Isaiah 65:1 is quoted.
    4. Notice Paul says that Isaiah was bold to say this.
    5. God was found by those who did not seek Him, who would that be? The gentiles.
    6. God has shown Himself to those who did not ask for Him, again the gentiles.
    7. Verse 21 quotes Isaiah 65:2. What is happening? God is saying that He made Himself available, all day long, to a people that were contrary and disobedient.
  2. Let’s sum this up.
    1. Paul has been answering the question of the Israelite rejection of Jesus.
    2. Paul uses many Scriptures to show that God has been consistent with His Word and promises.
    3. God said that He would reveal Himself to the nations, to the gentiles.
    4. God also said the Jewish people would be stubborn and rebellious. God prophesied that through Moses in Deuteronomy 32 before they even entered the land.
    5. Witherington shares: God is making non-Christian Jews envious by bringing into the people of God Gentiles, who are characterized as “not a nation” and as lacking understanding.[7]
    6. Paul will continue this in Romans 11.

Piper

What does it mean to “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead”? Satan believes that God raised Jesus from the dead. He saw it happen. To answer this question, we need to ponder what the resurrection means for God’s people.

The meaning of the resurrection is that God is for us. He aims to close ranks with us. He aims to overcome all our sense of abandonment and alienation.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s declaration to Israel and to the world that we cannot work our way to glory, but that he intends to do the impossible to get us there.

The resurrection is the promise of God that all who trust Jesus will be the beneficiaries of God’s power to lead us in paths of righteousness and through the valley of death.

Therefore, believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead is much more than accepting a fact. It means being confident that God is for you, that he has closed ranks with you, that he is transforming your life, and that he will save you for eternal joy.

Believing in the resurrection means trusting in all the promises of life and hope and righteousness for which it stands.

It means being so confident of God’s power and love that no fear of worldly loss or greed for worldly gain will lure us to disobey his will.

That’s the difference between Satan and the saints. Oh, might God circumcise our hearts to love him (Deuteronomy 30:6) and to rest in the resurrection of his Son.

Devotional excerpted from “Believe in Your Heart that God Raised Jesus from the Dead”[8]


[1] 2010 USA Today Ad Meter and Cars.com

[2] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 10:4.

[3] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2175.

[4] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 10:14.

[5] Taken from More Precious than Silver

By Joni Eareckson Tada

Copyright © 1998

[6] White Horse Inn; 9.10.2006

[7] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 264.

[8] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-the-resurrection-means-for-us

Paul’s Desire for Israel (Romans 10:1-4)

Paul’s Desire for Israel (Romans 10:1-4)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, August 8, 2021

On April 12, 2012, the White Sox’s pitcher Philip Humber pitched a perfect game. That is, he retired 27 batters in a row. No walks, no hits. It’s a feat that’s been accomplished by only 18 other pitchers in Major League Baseball’s 108-year-old history. But then in November of that same year, the White Sox cut him from their team roster.

An article in Sports Illustrated zeroed in on Humber’s deadly character flaw—perfectionism. The article’s subtitle read, “For one magical April afternoon, Philip Humber was flawless. But that random smile from the pitching gods came with a heavy burden: the pressure to live up to a standard no one can meet.” The article continued:

The biggest problem with Humber wasn’t his talent. It was, according to those close to him, the unrealistic expectations he set for himself. “He’s a perfectionist,” says Robert Ellis, [a former mentor to Humber.]”

Humber admitted, “After the game it was like, I’ve got to prove that the perfect game was not a fluke—I almost felt like I had to prove that I deserved to be on that list. I was thankful for it, but at the same time I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that this wasn’t a joke. I’m really good enough to do this.”

Every time Humber took the mound, he tried to be the pitcher he was in Seattle—but competence seemed unattainable, much less perfection. In his next start, he allowed nine runs in five innings. Two outings later he was bombed for eight runs in 2 1/3 innings. Every time he fell short of the new standard he set for himself, he pushed himself harder. He began spending more time than ever in the video room. He played with every imaginable grip for his pitches. He threw extra bullpen sessions. He ran more, lifted more. He asked teammates how they dealt with their struggles. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t recapture the magic. “I just feel lost,” Humber said.

The article concluded with a ray of hope: “Philip Humber doesn’t know what will come next in his baseball story. This he knows: He’s done chasing perfection.”[1]

My theme today is:

The Jewish people had a zeal for the Law, but missed Jesus, Who is the end of the Law.

My application: Trust in Jesus for salvation and pray for the salvation of others.

  1. Context:
    1. Again, let’s place this passage in context:
    2. Paul has been talking about how God can do with nations as He pleases.
    3. Romans 9:1-6 was about Paul’s heart for his brethren, the Jewish people. Paul wanted to be cursed so they could be saved.
    4. As I shared last week, we see in Romans chapter 9 an antinomy, that is an apparent contradiction, or a paradox. This is a mystery. There is a mystery which is God’s sovereignty alongside the freewill of human beings. God is sovereign and people have freewill, people are accountable for their actions, yet God does have a predetermined plan. There is a mystery regarding how much freewill we have and how God orchestrates things to accomplish His will.
    5. Romans 9 was showing that God is in charge. God is in control.
    6. So far Paul has given examples in order to show that God is faithful, and that God is in charge.
    7. In verses 7-13 (Romans 9:7-13) Paul showed that the promise to Abraham was going to go through Isaac, not Ishmael, and then through Jacob, not Esau. In verse 13 (Romans 9:13) God said that Jacob He has chosen, but Esau He has rejected.
    8. In verses 14-18 (Romans 9:14-18) Paul gives the example of Pharoah. God raised Pharoah up for His purposes and God hardened Pharoah’s heart for His purposes. God has the right to do with nations as He pleases and Pharoah was the head of Egypt. Further, Pharoah hardened his own heart.
    9. In verses 19-29 (Romans 9:19-29) we talked about God’s providence and that we cannot talk back to God. Paul gave the example of a potter and clay. The clay cannot talk back to the potter (Romans 9:20). A potter has a right to make some for honorable use and some for dishonorable. The potter has the right over the clay. God has the right over nations. God chose Israel for His purposes.
    10. Paul then used a few Old Testament quotes, Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10 to show that God was going to call gentiles to Himself. Isaiah 10:22-23 is also quoted. Isaiah 1:9 is also quoted to share that God was preserving a remnant.
    11. In the end of Romans 9, in Romans 9:30-33, Paul was showing that gentiles were saved because they had faith and Jewish people had not been saved because they kept the Law without faith.
    12. Paul quoted from Isaiah 28:16 and 8:14 in that order to show that Jesus was a stumbling block.
    13. This brings us to chapter 10.
    14. One source shares: The chapter division signals a shift in Paul’s emphasis from God’s dealings with Israel in the past, namely before Christ’s death, to His dealings with them in the present.[2]
  2. Paul’s desire for Israel (Romans 10:1-4)
    1. Romans 10 begins much like Romans 9.
    2. Romans 10:1 shares: Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
    3. Notice how Paul steps back and addresses them? He address them as brothers, or it could be translated as “brothers and sisters.”
    4. I think it was Dr. Rydelnic that shared: This is the only verse in the Bible about praying for lost people and this is about the Jewish people.
    5. Paul is writing here about the Jewish people, Israel. Paul’s desire and prayer for them is that they will be saved.

Piper shares:

Paul prays that God would convert Israel. He prays for her salvation! He does not pray for ineffectual influences, but for effectual influences. And that is how we should pray too.

We should take the new covenant promises of God and plead with God to bring them to pass in our children and our neighbors and on all the mission fields of the world.

God, take out of their flesh the heart of stone and give them a new heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19)

Circumcise their heart so that they love you! (Deuteronomy 30:6)

Father, put your Spirit within them and cause them to walk in your statutes. (Ezekiel 36:27)

Grant them repentance and a knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil. (2 Timothy 2:25–26)

Open their hearts so that they believe the gospel! (Acts 16:14)

When we believe in the sovereignty of God — in the right and power of God to elect and then bring hardened sinners to faith and salvation — then we will be able to pray with no inconsistency, and with the confidence of great biblical promises for the conversion of the lost.

Thus, God has pleasure in this kind of praying because it ascribes to him the right and honor to be the free and sovereign God that he is in election and salvation.[3]

  1. One person writes: My wife, Angie, went to a rough high school. There were few Christians there apart from one teacher, Mr. David Bunton, who taught manual arts.
    • Years after Mr. Bunton left his position, dozens of his former students became believers. Many have entered the ministry and become pastors and missionaries.
    • I tracked down Mr. Bunton, who is now 70 years old and retired. He was stunned and choked with emotion when I told him of the many conversions since he had taught at that high school.
    • I wondered how his influence had brought such a harvest. He told me that many times he had prayed softly over his classes as he sat back in his desk and watched them work. But apart from this, he’d done nothing to influence these students toward Christ. The only common point of spiritual connection the students shared was that they were prayed over by their teacher.[4]
    • Now, look at verse 2: For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
    • He is talking about his ethnicity. The Jewish people have a zeal for God. Stop right there.
    • CSB shares: Both zeal and true knowledge are necessary if one is truly to know God and serve him. In his zeal as a non-Christian Pharisee, Paul (then called Saul; see Ac 7:58 and note there) persecuted the church (Ac 22:3–5). Likewise, zeal among unbelieving Jews led to Jesus’s unjust execution. In spiritual blindness they not only missed God’s way of righteousness, they opposed it.[5]
    • But there is a logical contrasting conjunction here, which is translated as “but.”
    • “But,” their zeal is not according to knowledge.
    • They followed the Law without knowledge, or without the knowledge that God was sending a Savior. They were not trusting in Jesus. Paul will actually explain his meaning in verse 3.
    • Romans 10:3 reads: For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
    • His brethren, Israel, the Jewish people, were trying to establish their own righteousness. They thought they could be good enough by keeping the Law.
    • Tony Evans shares: Many of you are trying to make it to God’s heaven by stirring up your own righteousness. You are stirring as hard as you can—got to live right today, got to do better today, got to go to church today, got to give money today. And you stir and you stir, and it’s still not sweet. You’ve stirred your life the best you can, but stuff is still settling at the bottom, and it’s just not blending in. The righteousness Jesus Christ offers is the end of your stirring. He’ll make you into sweet tea. He is the end of the law to everyone who believes because he’s already fulfilled the law for you and put his Spirit into you.[6]
    • They were ignorant of the righteousness of God. They did not submit to God’s righteousness.
    • The righteousness of God was, and is, Jesus. Jesus was completely righteous and died in our place.
    • Romans 1:17: For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
    • They ignored Jesus. Paul will show this in the next verse.
    • Verse 4 shares that.
    • Romans 10:4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
    • This is saying that the Law ends with Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the Law. The Law was a tutor to lead them to Christ. As I shared last week: Remember that Galatians described the Law as a tutor to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:24). The Law was to lead them to Christ. Galatians 2:16 shows that a person is not justified by works of the Law, but by faith in Christ. They thought the Law would make them righteous in, and of, itself, but it was supposed to lead them to Christ.
    • The Moody Bible Commentary shares: The end of the law indicates that Jesus, by His death, brought the era of living under the law to a close. Just as the finish line is both the goal and the end of a race, Jesus is the goal of the law inasmuch as it anticipated and pointed toward Him, and He is the end of the law since He brings its era of governing life to a close (see the comments on Mt 5:17–19; Rm 3:21–26; Gl 3:10–4:11).[7]
    • MacArthur: Although the Gr. word translated “end” can mean either “fulfillment” or “termination,” this is not a reference to Christ’s having perfectly fulfilled the law through His teaching (Mt 5:17, 18) or through His sinless life (2Co 5:21). Instead, as the second half of the verse shows, Paul means that belief in Christ as Lord and Savior ends the sinner’s futile quest for righteousness through his imperfect attempts to save himself by efforts to obey the law (cf. 3:20–22; Is 64:6; Col 2:13, 14).[8]
    • One source shares: As the hymnwriter A. M. Toplady put it, “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to thy cross I cling.” The only thing God requires of people is that they not persist in trying to earn what they can only receive as a totally free gift. Their problem is that pride stands in the way of receiving God’s gift. Deeply ingrained in people’s hostility to divine grace is a proud and stubborn self-reliance that would rather suffer loss than be deprived of an occasion for boasting.[9]
  2. Applications:
    1. Paul addresses them as brother and sisters. We must address people with loving, familiar language (verse 1).
    2. The apostle Paul prayed for the salvation of his ethnic group (verse 1).
    3. We must pray for our immediate family to be saved. Salvation is from God (Jonah 2:9) and so we must go to God in prayer.
    4. We must pray that God would change the hearts of our children so that they would turn to Him for salvation.
    5. We must pray that God would change the hearts of our grandchildren so they would turn to Him in salvation.
    6. We must pray that our siblings would turn to Christ.
    7. We must pray that our parents and grandparents (if they are alive) will be saved.
    8. We must pray that our ethnic group will be saved.
    9. We must pray that those from our neighborhood, our city, and our country will be saved.
    10. We must pray for the salvation of people.
    11. We must understand that zeal alone will not save us, or others, we must have zeal and a trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior (verses 2-4).

Clifton Fadiman, in The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, tells a story about Valdimir Nabokov, the Russian-born novelist who achieved popular success with his novels Lolita (1955), Pale Fire (1962) and Ada (1969).

One summer in the 1940s, Nabokov and his family stayed with James Laughlin at Alta, Utah, where Nabokov took the opportunity to enlarge his collection of butterflies and moths. Fadiman relates: “Nabakov’s fiction has never been praised for its compassion; he was single-minded if nothing else. One evening at dusk he returned from his day’s excursion saying that during hot pursuit near Bear Gulch he had heard someone groaning most piteously down by the stream.

“‘Did you stop?’ Laughlin asked him.

“‘No, I had to get the butterfly.’

“The next day the corpse of an aged prospector was discovered in what has been renamed, in Nabokov’s honor, Dead Man’s Gulch.”

While people around us are dying, how often we chase butterflies![10]


[1] Albert Chen, “The Problem with Perfection,” Sports Illustrated (12-31-12); source: Nick Lannon, “The Problem with Perfection,” Mbird blog (1-9-13)

[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 9:32.

[3] Devotional excerpted from The Pleasures of God, pages 208–209

[4] https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2001/december/13438.html

[5] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1797.

[6] https://jdgreear.com/how-god-makes-you-into-sweet-tea/

[7] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1761–1762.

[8] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 10:4.

[9] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 208.

[10] Source: Vernon Grounds, Denver, Colorado. Leadership, Vol. 7, no. 3.

Israel’s Unbelief (Romans 9:30-33)

God’s Providence: Israel’s Unbelief (Romans 9:30-33)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, August 1, 2021

Even the best of humanists devise systems of ungrace to replace those rejected in religion. Benjamin Franklin settled on 13 virtues, including:

Silence: “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.”
Frugality: “Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing.”
Industry: “Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
Tranquility: “Be not disturbed at trifles or accidents common or unavoidable.”

He set up a book with a page for each virtue, lining a column in which to record “defects.” Choosing a different virtue to work on each week, he daily noted every mistake, starting over every 13 weeks in order to cycle through the list four times a year. For many decades, Franklin carried his little book with him, striving for a clean 13-week cycle.

As he made progress, he found himself struggling with yet another defect: pride. There is perhaps not one of the natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it. Struggle with it. Stifle it. Mortify it as much as one pleases. It is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself….

Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.[1]

Franklin wrote those very good things, but they will not bring salvation.

My theme is:

The gentiles have found righteousness, the Jewish people, though following the Law, have not been made righteous. We must trust in Jesus.  

My application is:

Trust in Jesus for your salvation and do not let Him be a stumbling block to you.

  1. Context:
    1. Paul has been talking about how God can do with nations as He pleases.
    2. We see in Romans chapter 9 an antinomy, that is an apparent contradiction, or a paradox. This is a mystery. There is a mystery which is God’s sovereignty alongside the freewill of human beings. God is sovereign and people have freewill, people are accountable for their actions, yet God does have a predetermined plan. There is a mystery regarding how much freewill we have and how God orchestrates things to accomplish His will.
    3. This chapter is showing that God is in charge. God is in control.
    4. So far Paul has given examples in order to show that God is faithful, and that God is in charge.
    5. In verses 7-13 (Romans 9:7-13) Paul showed that the promise to Abraham was going to go through Isaac, not Ishmael, and then through Jacob, not Esau. In verse 13 (Romans 9:13) God said that Jacob He has chosen, but Esau He has rejected.
    6. In verses 14-18 (Romans 9:14-18) Paul gives the example of Pharoah. God raised Pharoah up for His purposes and God hardened Pharoah’s heart for His purposes. God has the right to do with nations as He pleases and Pharoah was the head of Egypt. Further, Pharoah hardened his own heart.
    7. In verses 19-29 (Romans 9:19-29) we talked about God’s providence and that we cannot talk back to God. Paul gave the example of a potter and clay. The clay cannot talk back to the potter (Romans 9:20). A potter has a right to make some for honorable use and some for dishonorable. The potter has the right over the clay. God has the right over nations. God chose Israel for His purposes.
    8. Paul then used a few Old Testament quotes, Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10, to show that God was going to call gentiles to Himself. Isaiah 10:22-23 is also quoted. Isaiah 1:9 is also quoted to share that God was preserving a remnant.
    9. That bring us to the end of Romans 9.
  2. Summing this up, what about Israel?
    1. Let’s read verse 30:
    2. 30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith
    3. One source shares: Paul’s question, that often marks a new argument in Romans, introduced his concluding summary that he couched in terminology suggestive of a foot race. Israel struggled hard to obtain the prize of justification but crossed the finish line behind Gentiles who were not running that hard. Israel as a whole hoped to gain justification by doing good works, but believing Gentiles obtained the prize by believing the gospel.[2]
    4. Paul is asking a question and then he answers it.
    5. What shall we say? Paul is using a question format to explain what he has been explaining.
    6. Gentiles, that is, non-Jewish people, did not pursue righteousness, but they have attained it. How did they receive this righteousness?
    7. They received it by faith.
    8. They received it by trust.
    9. Look at Romans 1:17: For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
    10. Knowing Jesus is about faith. It has always been about faith.
    11. Look at verse 31: but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.
    12. Paul now is contrasting the Jewish people versus the gentiles. The gentiles had faith and that faith brought righteousness. But on the other hand, the Jewish people, Israel, pursued the law that leads to righteousness and that did NOT succeed in reaching the law.
    13. They pursued the law, but that did not give them righteousness.
    14. Remember that Galatians described the Law as a tutor to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:24). The Law was to lead them to Christ. Galatians 2:16 shows that a person is not justified by works of the Law, but by faith in Christ. They thought the Law would make them righteous in, and of, itself, but it was supposed to lead them to Christ.
    15. Paul is about to complete his argument. He has an argument, a logical argument, called a syllogism.
      1. Verse 30: Gentiles are righteous without the Law.
      2. Verse 31: Israel followed the Law of righteousness without receiving righteousness.
      3. Verse 32: why? They did not pursue it by faith.
        1. Stumbling over the stumbling stone.
        2. Paul substantiates his argument in verse 33 with a quote from Isaiah 28:16 and Isaiah 8:14 in that order.
    16. So, let’s read verses 32-33: Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
    17. Israel did not pursue the Law with faith. They did not pursue the Law with faith in the Redeemer, faith in the Messiah to come. Those that did pursue the Law with faith in the Messiah were saved.
    18. What a picture, they stumbled over the stumbling stone who Isaiah wrote about. Jesus was the stumbling stone.
    19. So, Paul quotes from Isaiah 28:16 and then Isaiah 8:14:
    20. Isaiah 28:16: therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
    21. Isaiah 8:14: And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
    22. Isaiah prophesied around 700 years before Jesus that God was going to send the Messiah. The Messiah is Jesus. Jesus is the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:19-21). People will, and have, stumbled over Him.
    23. However, those who believe in Jesus will not be put to shame. They will be saved.
    24. One source: Here Paul follows a common Jewish interpretive practice of blending texts together (Is 8:14; 28:16). Because Isaiah 28:16 probably alludes back to Isaiah 8:14, Paul’s blending of the two is especially reasonable, although perhaps only his Jewish readers caught what he was doing. The point is that the same stone that caused Israel to stumble (Is 8:14, which also speaks of the stone as a sanctuary) would save those who believed (Is 28:16).[3]
    25. 1 Peter 2:6, 8 are good cross references.
    26. Dr. Ben Witherington shares: The shame in view here is the eschatological shame of appearing at final judgment naked—that is, in the wrong condition. Thus, Paul clearly has had a future wrath in mind in this discussion, not merely a present wrath (cf. 5:5).[4] Further: Käsemann says that “Judaism must take offense at Christ to the degree that the requirement of faith enforces a break with its religious past. It cannot see that precisely in this way it is summoned back to the promise it has been given. The continuity of the fleshly conceals the continuity of the divine word maintained in Scripture. It thus conceals the eschatological goal.”52 The problem with this assessment is that it seems to assume that faith was not a requirement before Christ, which is not so.[5]
    27. New American Commentary: Sinners still reject the righteousness of God because they cannot earn it. It is absolutely free. They stumble over the offer because it deprives them of any proprietary involvement in their own salvation. It is pride that brings people down. How deeply ingrained is our rebellious self-esteem! Too proud to accept God’s willingness to forgive, sinners stumble headlong into eternity with their stubborn sinfulness intact.[6]
    28. Carl F.H. Henry shared: Many think the Christian religion has run its course, and that the gloom of Good Friday is now settling over the long history of the church. But they are wrong. The reality of the resurrection cannot so easily be undone. In truth, it is the world of unbelievers that remains on notice of judgment.[7]
  3. Application:
    1. This whole section is about faith. We must recognize that we must have faith in Jesus (verses 30-32).
      1. As we pursue the moral law, and doing what is right, we must recognize that we are only saved through faith in Jesus.
      2. This means that we are only saved by trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection for atoning for our sins.
      3. As we attend worship services and Bible studies, we must understand that we do that in order to grow closer to Jesus, and to stay in tune with Jesus, and to hear from God, not to earn our salvation.
      4. As we share the Gospel, we must recognize that we are only saved by Jesus’ grace, and others can only be saved by Jesus’ grace.  
      5. As we worship God, we must recognize that worship does not save us. We worship to give back to God. We worship because He is worthy (Rev. 4:8-11 and Rev. 5:8-11).
      6. As we pray, we must recognize we pray for support and a relationship with God, not to earn our salvation.
      7. As we serve others, we must recognize we do not earn our salvation by good deeds.
      8. As we fellowship with the church, we must recognize that we do that to spur one another on towards love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25), not to be saved.
    2. We must recognize that Jesus was and still can be a stumbling stone. May we never let Jesus be a stumbling stone for us (verse 33).

With hundreds of things to see in Berlin, few tourists pay attention to what lies under their feet. The four inch by four inch blocks of brass embedded in the pavement are easy to miss. But once you know they exist, you begin to come across them with surprising frequency.

Each stone is engraved with the name and fate of an individual who has suffered under the Nazi regime. They are known as Stolpersteine, or “stumbling stones.” There are over eight thousand of them in the German capital, and tens of thousands of them are spread across European countries, making it the largest decentralized monument in the world.

The idea was first conceived by German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992 to commemorate individual victims of the Holocaust. Each block, which begins with “Here lived,” is placed at exactly the last place where the person lived freely before he or she fell victim to Nazi terror and was deported to an extermination camp. Unlike other holocaust memorials that focus only on Jews, the Stolpersteine honor all victims of the Nazi regime, including Jews, the disabled, the dissident, and the gays.

Although not everyone supports the drive, Michael Friedrichs-Friedländer, the craftsman who makes each Stolperstein, spoke in support of the project. “I can’t think of a better form of remembrance,” he says. “If you want to read the stone, you must bow before the victim.”[8]

Of course, this passage is talking about Jesus being a stumbling stone. Let’s not let that happen.

Prayer


[1] Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace (Zondervan, 1997), p. 34

[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ro 9:30.

[3] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ro 9:33.

[4] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 259.

52 Käsemann, Romans, p. 279.

[5] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 259.

[6] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 206.

[7] Carl F. H. Henry in Carl Henry at His Best. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 4

[8] Kaushik, “Stolpersteine: The ‘Stumbling Stones’ of Holocaust Victims,” Amusing Planet (3-8-19); Eliza Apperly, “’Stumbling stones’: a different vision of Holocaust remembrance,” The Guardian.com (2-18-19)

Can we talk back to God (Romans 9:19-29)?

Can we talk back to God (Romans 8:19-29)?

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, July 25, 2021

When I was training for my second marathon there were some days when I would get up at 4 am and go out to try to run long distance. I was trying to run close to twenty miles before 7 am. There were times that I was running away from the city and I would look up in the sky and notice the stars. Do you ever look at the stars? Do you ever notice how many stars are up there?

The vastness of our universe allows us a glimpse of the might and majesty of our Creator. Philip Yancey gives the following description to help us appreciate the scale of that universe:

If the Milky Way galaxy were the size of the entire continent of North America, our solar system would fit in a coffee cup. Even now, two Voyager spacecraft are hurtling toward the edge of the solar system at a rate of 100,000 miles per hour. For almost three decades they have been speeding away from Earth, approaching a distance of 9 billion miles. When engineers beam a command to the spacecraft at the speed of light, it takes 13 hours to arrive. Yet this vast neighborhood of our sun—in truth, the size of a coffee cup—fits along with several hundred billion other stars and their minions in the Milky Way, one of perhaps 100 billion such galaxies in the universe. To send a light-speed message to the edge of that universe would take 15 billion years.[1]

Isn’t that amazing? When I think of how big the universe is, it makes me realize how small I am, and yet I question God. I think we all do at some time or another, but we really must realize who we are versus who God is. We really must realize our place.

It would be easy to be discouraged thinking we are small and that leads to more depression, but I want to encourage you that God does care about you. So, realize 2 things: Firstly, God is God and we are not. Secondly, God does care about you. God does love you. God does want a relationship with you (2 Peter 3:8-9).

That is my theme today. We are going to continue our trek through Romans and I want you to notice:

Firstly, God is God and we are not. Secondly, God does care about you. God does love you. God does want a relationship with you (2 Peter 3:8-9).

  1. As a potter creates vessels, God creates nations (19–22).
    1. How did we get to this place in Romans 9?
    2. Paul has been writing about God’s sovereignty over nations. Some think this chapter is about how God can predestine some individuals for salvation and others not for salvation, that may be an indirect conclusion, but I think the main theme is God’s sovereignty over nations.
    3. Paul has been writing why the Jewish people have had a hardness of heart for the Gospel.
    4. In verse 14 Paul began to defend God’s justice. Paul started with the example of Pharaoh in the Old Testament.
    5. Now, Paul will build on that example with more examples of God’s sovereignty.
    6. Verse 19: You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
    7. This verse is a rhetorical question.
    8. This verse is asking about how we can question God. Who can resist God’s will?
    9. In other words, how can God find fault with Pharoah if God was governing Pharoah.
    10. Paul is alluding to Jeremiah 18:1-12 and the example of a potter with clay.
    11. Look at Paul’s response in verse 20:
    12. But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
    13. This is a very basic analogy and a good analogy.
    14. God created us. God knit us together in the womb (Psalm 139).
    15. How can we question God the creator?
    16. John Piper shares these differences between God and man:
      1. God is the creator, and man is the created.
      2. God is infinite, and man is finite.
      3. God is utterly self-sufficient, and man is totally dependent on God for everything.
      4. God is all-knowing, and man is little-knowing.
      5. God is never erring, and man is often erring.
      6. Therefore, how can we, mere men, presume to object to that God and his will.[2]
    17. Look at verse 21:
    18. Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
    19. The potter can do what he wants with the clay, correct? Of course.
    20. Paul is comparing God’s work with us like a potter with clay.
    21. Bobby murphy’s message on this passage is helpful:
    22. Paul’s analogy of the potter and clay in verses 20-21 is the hermeneutical key. I said he’s alluding here to Jeremiah 18:1-12. In that context, God is speaking of nations not persons. He teaches in verse 6 that He can deal with Israel, and by implications all nations, however He pleases, just as a potter can deal with the clay however he pleases.
    23. God goes on in verses 7-10, to explain how He pleases to deal with nations. He might declare to destroy a nation but relents if that nation turns from evil. Or He might declare to build up a nation but will change His mind and not build it up if it turns to evil.
    24. The pattern is clear. God can do with nations whatever He wills. What He wills is to build those up that turn from evil and not build those up that turn to evil. He can justly do whatever He wills with nations and this, consistently with His nature, is what He wills.
    25. Paul does apply this to individuals as well, again from Bobby Murphy: God is sovereign. Individuals deserve nothing from Him and thus He can do with them whatever He wills. Well, the Bible, in verses like 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9, tells us what He wills. It’s that none should perish. Or to use Paul’s terminology in verses 22-23, it’s to have mercy on all individuals and prepare them for glory. It’s not to bring His wrath against them and prepare them for destruction.
    26. Look at verse 22:
    27. What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction
    28. “What if…” so this is an example.
    29. Does God have a right to create people, things, or nations to be used for destruction? He is God, right?
    30. Remember, in context he is talking about Pharoah and Egypt.
  2. As a potter controls those vessels, God controls nations (9:23–24).
    1. In light of this, is man responsible? Yes! (9:19–20): As the vessels have no right to criticize the potter, the nations have no right to criticize the Lord.[3]
    2. Now, these verses go along with the previous verse.
    3. Paul is comparing God to a potter and so what if a potter creates some vessels for wrath and destruction and then the purpose is here in verses 23-24:
    4. Look now at verses 23-24: in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
    5. In verse 24 Paul connects this with the people he is writing to. God called them, both Jewish people and gentiles. God called them to be saved in order to show His glory and His mercy.
  3. The example from Hosea (9:25–26):
    1. This Old Testament prophet predicted that God would not limit his grace to Israel but would save repenting Gentile peoples; Hosea called these Gentiles “children of the living God” (Hos. 2:23; 1:10).[4]
    2. Look at verses 25-26: As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ” “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”
    3. Verse 25 comes from Hosea 2:23.
    4. One source shares: Drawing from Hosea’s marriage, Paul compares Gentile salvation to mercy bestowed on an undeserving adulterous wife (see the book of Hosea).[5]
    5. Verse 26 is from Hosea 1:10.
    6. This is an example of God having mercy on who He wants to have mercy.
  4. The example from Isaiah (9:27–29): Paul quotes from Isaiah to demonstrate God’s sovereignty concerning Israel.[6]
    1. Out of the millions of Israelites, only a small remnant will be saved (Isa. 10:22–23) (9:27–28).[7]
    2. Even the remnant would perish apart from the grace of God (Isa. 1:9) (9:29).[8]
    3. Let’s read verses 27-29:
    4. And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.”
    5. The first quote in verse 27 is from Isaiah 10:22. This is God saying that there are many Israelites. Israel is like the sand of the sea, BUT most won’t be saved. Only a remnant will be saved.
    6. Remember the context, from the beginning of Romans 9 Paul has been answering the question of why the Jewish people are not responding to the Gospel.
    7. In Romans 11:5 Paul will say that it is true in this time that only a remnant will be chosen by grace.
    8. Verse 28 is also a quote from Isaiah and in this case Isaiah 10:23. In that passage, in Isaiah, God was talking about judgment from the Assyrians which was judgment on Israel.
    9. Verse 29 comes from Isaiah 1:9 and the point is that if the Lord did not intervene to preserve a remnant there would have been no Israel. They would have been like Sodom and been destroyed.
    10. Some translations say: “Lord of Sabaoth” which means: Traditionally, “Lord of hosts”; Grk “Lord Sabaoth,” which means “Lord of the [heavenly] armies,” sometimes translated more generally as “Lord Almighty.”[9]
  5. So, what is the point of all of this.
    1. In verses 1-5 Paul began answering the question of Israel’s unbelief. Paul said that he would be accursed for the sake of his brethren, the Israelites being saved.
    2. Paul is building his case that God can have his way with nations.
    3. God hardened Pharoah’s heart in order to bring judgment on Egypt and glorify His name in bringing the Israelites out of Egypt.
    4. God is like a potter working with clay. The nations are the clay.
    5. However, God preserved a remnant of Israelites and He still has a remnant.
  6. Applications:
    1. We must know our place (verses 20-21).
    2. God is the Lord, He is the creator and we are the creation (verses 20-21).
    3. We must submit to Him as God.
      1. This means that He sets the rules of right and wrong which are revealed in His word.
      2. This means that we must submit to His ways.
      3. We must submit to His plan of salvation (John 14:6), though we do not really have a choice.
      4. We must submit to His Ten Commandments (Ex 20).
    4. We must worship Him as God.
    5. We must understand that it is God’s right to do with His creation as He pleases (verse 21-22).
    6. We must understand that God is to be glorified and exalted (verse 23 and 1 Cor. 10:31).
    7. We must worship God for preserving a remnant and grafting the gentiles in (verses 24-29).

On September 5, 1977, the Voyager I space probe was launched from Cape Canaveral aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket. It has been speeding through space at an average speed of thirty-eight thousand miles per hour ever since, almost a million miles per day. Voyager I is the first spacecraft to travel beyond the he­liopause into interstellar space, and NASA continuously calculates its distance from Earth. As of this writing, Voyager I is 13,490,006,617 miles from Earth and counting.

That is pretty amazing, isn’t it? But not as amazing as you. The Voyager 1 will run out of gas, so to speak, around the year 2025. At that point, it will have traveled more than fifteen billion miles! But guess what? That is less than half the length of the DNA strand(s) in your body if (they) were stretched end to end. The cumulative length of DNA in all the cells in your body is about twice the diameter of the solar system (over 32 billion miles)! In the words of the psalmist, you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”[10]

So, don’t be discouraged. Be encouraged. In this amazingly big universe God cares about us. God cares about us so much that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again.

Prayer


[1] Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? (Zondervan, 2006), p. 20

[2] https://www.desiringgod.org/labs/who-are-you-to-question-god

[3] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ro 9:14–20.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1796.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ro 9:29.

[10] https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/how-long-is-your-dna/

Excerpted from Double Blessing: Don’t Settle for Less Than You’re Called to Bless Copyright © 2019 by Mark Batterson, page 87. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

God’s Providence: Israel’s Unbelief is Not Inconsistent with God’s Plan (Romans 9:14-18)

God is a just judge. Isn’t that nice?

Figure skating analysts have expressed concern about the possibility of judge favoritism tainting the proceedings in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

At the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, a scandal was generated after Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova won the gold medal in the short program, beating out highly favored and leading skater Yuna Kim, who’d previously won the gold in 2010. The optics of Sotnikova skating off the ice and into the arms of a Russian judge, who was married to the leader of the Russian skating federation, sparked an outcry of unfair bias.

“Our jaws dropped,” recalled U.S. skater Simon Shnapir, who was watching at the rink in Sochi with other competitors. “But at the same time, none of us are strangers to how skating works. … You either deal with that or you don’t.”

The subjective nature of the sport, combined with the unique system that allows judges to score athletes from their own countries, has created an environment rife with conflicts of interest, which is why figure skating has consistently been plagued by controversy.

NBC News found that approximately one fifth of the 164 judges eligible for the upcoming figure skating events are current or former leaders in their national skating federations, which gives them a natural incentive to inflate the scores of their countrymen.

“This, in my opinion, is a clear conflict of interest,” said Sonia Bianchetti of Italy, a skating judge at seven Olympics, “but the rules do not forbid it.”[1]

We deal with injustice in this world, don’t we? What we see in the Scripture is that God is just. God is not partial. God is not swayed by money, or influence or anything like that. The passage we will look at today shows that.

My theme today is:

Israel’s Unbelief is Not Inconsistent with God’s Plan (Romans 9:14-18)

  1. God IS just (verse 14).
    1. Let’s read verse 14: What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
    2. There is a question.
    3. Is God unjust?
    4. Paul is emphatic in his response.
    5. “By no means!”
    6. How did we get to this place in Romans?
    7. Remember in Romans 9:1-6 Paul was writing about how desperately he wanted to see his people saved. Who were his people? The Israelites. Paul wanted to see the Israelites saved. But they had rejected the Messiah.
    8. In Romans 9:6-13, Paul wrote about how the Word of God has not failed. Paul wrote about how the promises of God have not failed. Paul explained that all of those descended from Israel were not true Israel. What Paul meant is that all of those descended from Abraham are not true Israelites. Abraham had two sons, but God said that through Isaac your descendants will be named (verse 7). The covenant and the promise were through Isaac and not Ishmael.
    9. Then, in verse 13 God says that the promise was through Jacob and not Esau. Verse 13 says that Jacob God has loved, but Esau God has hated. I shared that that could be translated “Jacob I have chosen, but Esau I have rejected.” God chose the promise to come through Jacob.
    10. This chapter is showing that God has a right to do what He wants with nations.
    11. God has a right to choose Israel.
    12. One reason He chose Israel is that the Messiah would come through Israel. The Messiah, Jesus, came through the descendants of Abraham and all throughout the Old Testament God is protecting that line for the Messiah. Through Jesus Jewish people and gentiles can be saved. That fulfills Gen 12 that God will bless the nations through Abraham and further that Abraham is the father of many nations. This is because the gentiles are grafted in as Abraham’s descendants.
    13. Back to verse 14, in Romans 3:5 Paul talked about this same question. God is not unrighteous.
    14. 2 Chron 19:7 reads: Now then, let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes.”
    15. Romans 2:11 says that God shows no partiality.
    16. God is just.
    17. What does it mean to be just? A dictionary definition reads “based on behavior according to what is morally right and fair.” To be just means to be impartial in judgment.
    18. Think of equity. God punishes wrongdoing. God will do what is right. His judgment is impartial. God is righteous. That is why Paul is bringing it up again in Romans. People could be charging God with being unjust in favoring the Jewish people over the gentiles, but Paul is responding to that argument.
    19. In the rest of this chapter, Paul is going to give examples to defend his argument.
    20. The first example is Pharoah, which Paul will write about until verse 24. As well as in verses 21-24 the example of a potter and the pottery.
    21. Then, in verses 25-26 we will see an example from Hosea. The Old Testament prophet Hosea predicted that God’s grace will not be limited to Israel (Hos. 2:23; 1:10).
    22.  Then, in verses 27-29 Paul will quote from Isaiah to show that even amongst Israel only a remnant will be saved (Isa. 1:9; 9:27-29; 10:22-23).
    23. The point is that God is being consistent with His Word.
    24. Paul will wrap up this chapter with two grand conclusions:
      1. Through faith the Gentiles have found righteousness without even seeking it (9:30).
      2. Through the law Israel has not found righteousness even after seeking it (9:31–33).
        1. The seeking (9:31–32): They tried to be saved by works.
        2. The stumbling (9:33): They have stumbled over Christ the rock, as predicted by Isaiah (Isa. 8:14; 28:16).[2]
    25. That summarizes the rest of this chapter, as I have stated I think Paul’s case is that God has a right to do with nations as He pleases. This passage is not about individual election, or individuals, but about God choosing Israel.
    26. Let’s now look at Paul’s first example, Pharoah.
  2. God determined to pardon sinful Israel with undeserved grace (9:15–16).[3]
    1. Verse 15 reads: For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.
    2. In verse 15 Paul is quoting from Ex 33:19. In that passage Moses was interceding for the people. Moses wanted to see the Lord and the Lord says that His goodness will pass before him. God then says what I read.
    3. In verse 16 Paul makes a conclusion, it would be better translated “consequently, therefore”: Verse 16 reads: So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
    4. God is the creator, correct? As creator God has a right to do what He wants with His creation. Paul is showing that God is consistent with His promises.
    5. This means it is all about God.
    6. About these verses Bobby Murphy shared: “…man deserves nothing from God. Thus, if He withholds advantage from a person, He isn’t unjust because the person doesn’t deserve it. The fact He gives advantage to another person who doesn’t deserve it is irrelevant in that regard.” 
  3. God determined to punish sinful Pharaoh with deserved judgment (9:17–18).[4]
    1. Verses 17-18 read: For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
    2. Paul uses a typical rabbinic formula here in which the OT scriptures are figuratively portrayed as speaking to Pharaoh. What he means is that the scripture he cites refers (or can be applied) to Pharaoh.[5]
    3. Paul is responding about Pharoah. That passage comes from Ex. 9:6. Paul does not explain the context, so we are supposed to know the context. Most of us know it. Moses was confronting Pharoah. God was doing miracles and curses on the Egyptians in order to show His glory and lead the people out of Egypt.
    4. God did show His glory through Pharoah.
    5. I am quoting from Bobby Murphy again: Notice the word “hardens” in verse 18. It alludes to the terminology in the narratives about Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; and 14:4, 17). Those verses teach God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to demonstrate His power through the 10 plagues.[6] 
    6. Verse 18 is another application.
    7. There is a double connective here that cannot be easily preserved in English: “consequently therefore,” emphasizing the conclusion of what he has been arguing.[7]
    8. God’s mercy is about God.
    9. There are many scriptures about the Lord hardening hearts: Ex 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 17; Deut 2:30; Josh 11:20; John 12:40; Rom 11:7, 25[8]
    10. Piper shares: At least in this case, God seems not to be actively inflicting a hardening, but instead withholding himself (which is itself the hardening) (Isaiah 64:7).[9]
    11. The Christian Standard Bible: Exodus points out that Pharaoh hardened his heart many times before God punished him by hardening him.[10]
    12. Seventeen times Exodus mentions Pharaoh’s hard heart, the first two being ascribed to God’s decision to harden him (Ex 4:21; 7:3). Only four times does the text say that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Ex 7:4; 8:15, 32; 9:34), and one of those verses (8:15) says that “he hardened his heart … as the Lord had said,” indicating that God was the impetus behind Pharaoh’s hardness.[11]
    13. MacArthur: This does not mean that God actively created unbelief or some other evil in Pharaoh’s heart (cf. Jas 1:13), but rather that He withdrew all the divine influences that ordinarily acted as a restraint to sin and allowed Pharaoh’s wicked heart to pursue its sin unabated (cf. 1:24, 26, 28).[12]
    14. One more source: He is sovereign in all that he does. Although the text says repeatedly, however, that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it also stresses that Pharaoh hardened himself (cf. Exod 7:13–14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34–35). Morris notes that “neither here nor anywhere else is God said to harden anyone who had not first hardened himself.”24[13]
  4. Applications:
    1. We must be careful of accusing God of being unjust (verse 14).
    2. We must remember that God is the Lord and creator. He is the sovereign King of the world and all that is and was and ever shall be. God hold all things in existence (John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-20).
    3. We must remember that when we do have doubts or questions about God and His justice it is important to think them through (and pray them through) as Paul does right here (verse 14 and verses 14-18).
    4. We must remember when we do have doubts or questions about God and His justice we must have a reality check of who we are and who God is (verse 14).
    5. We must remember that it is God’s right to have mercy on who He wants to and have compassion on who He wants to have compassion on. God would have every right to have eliminated the human race when sin entered the world in Genesis 3 or when the Israelites made the golden calf in Exodus 32 (verse 15).
      1. We must worship God for His mercy on us.
      2. We must worship God for His mercy giving us the Gospel (John 3:16; 6:44).
      3. We must worship God for His mercy giving us the Holy Spirit (John 15; Romans 8:9).    
      4. We must worship God for His mercy in the place of our birth.
      5. We must worship God for His mercy in the time of our birth.
      6. We must worship God for His mercy in the family we were born to.
      7. We must worship God for His mercy that we do not suffer more.
      8. We must even worship God for His mercy that we do not suffer less. Maybe, even in suffering, it is God’s mercy drawing us closer to Him.
    6. Praise God, it is not about us, but God (verse 16).
      1. If it was about us we would never be saved (Eph 2:8-10).
      2. If it was about us we would fail. We cannot save ourselves.
      3. We were dead in our sin (Eph 2:1-5).
    7. We must recognize that God does put people in places for His glory as He did with Pharoah. God is sovereign (verse 17).
    8. Yet, we must recognize that God seems to harden people who are already hard-hearted. May we not be hard-hearted (Ezek 36:26).

Justice, we all long for it, don’t we?

We want justice. In this world we lack justice. I have an example. It was 1994 and O.J. Simpson was the main suspect in the murder of Nichole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Supposedly that trial is something that changed cable news. Remember the white bronco chase? Many people were glued to the television to watch CNN to see if O.J. would be acquitted of the crime. The thought was that his money and influence would get him off. On October 3, 1995 he was acquitted of all criminal charges.[14]

In this world we have injustice. Take heart God is a just judge.

Christianity is the unreligion. It turns all our religious instincts on their heads ….

The ancient Greeks told us to be moderate by knowing our inclinations. The Romans told us to be strong by ordering our lives. Buddhism tells us to be disillusioned by annihilating our consciousness. Hinduism tells us to be absorbed by merging our souls. Islam tells us to be submissive by subjecting our wills. Agnosticism tells us to be at peace by ignoring our doubts. Moralism tells us to be good by discharging our obligations. Only the gospel tells us to be free by acknowledging our failure. Christianity is the unreligion because it is the one faith whose founder tells us to bring not our doing, but our need.[15]


[1] Mary Pilon, Andrew W. Lehren, Stephanie Gosk, Emily R. Siegel, and Kenzi Abou-Sabe, “Think Olympic figure skating judges are biased? The data says they might be.” NBS News (2-6-18)

[2] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ro 9:30–33.

[3] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ro 9:15–16.

[4] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ro 9:17–18.

[5] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ro 9:17.

[6] Bobby Murphy

[7] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ro 9:18.

[8] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[9] https://www.desiringgod.org/labs/god-exalted-him-to-crush-him

[10] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1796.

[11] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1760.

[12] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 9:18.

24 Morris, Romans, 361. Calvin speaks of “weak exegetes” who hold that when God is said to “harden,” it implies only permission and not the action of divine wrath (Romans, 207). See also Murray (Romans, 2:28–30). Fitzmyer says that “the ‘hardening of the heart’ by God is a protological way of expressing divine reaction to persistent human obstinacy against him” (Romans, 568).

[13] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 200.

[14] https://abcnews.go.com/US/key-moments-oj-simpsons-life/story?id=48724637

[15] Dane Ortlund, Defiant Grace (EP Books, 2011), p. 38