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I’m going to invite you to Romans Chapter nine. Romans Chapter nine is where we’re going to be today. And this is a very powerful text of scripture. And I thought about this today for some churches. This is a very divisive passage of scripture where people get really opinionated in a Romans Chapter nine. But I thought this morning, man, I am just privilege and blessed to be able to share this passage with our church this morning. I feel very fortunate as a pastor to be able to be a pastor here at ABC. Maybe because I planted the church, I don’t know. But whatever, whatever, whatever the reason is, this is out of all the churches that exist on planet Earth. This is where I want to be. And this is the group of people I love to serve with. You guys are your heart for the Lord and your love for Him just makes it a joy to walk through a passage like this. And when we start to engage this, this passage of scripture, we’re going to pick up in verse 14. We actually started it last week, but in verse 14, you can tell by the way, that Paul’s written this. He’s anticipating a lot of questions about what he has just discussed with the Jewish people, especially as it deals with the sovereignty of God over human beings and what that looks like for us, how words like predestination and election have been used. And what does that mean for us in light of of God’s sovereignty and how are we to respond to that? Paul Paul is as a seasoned minister, he’s anticipating there’s going to be a lot of questions in light of what he has said.
And part of the reason is because we as people, we battle with trust issues and especially when it comes to understanding how sovereign God is. In fact, when you look at this passage, this passage brings you to the precipice of really realizing in comparison to God we are pretty small, very, really insignificant in relation to the sovereignty of who God is. But just as you start to recognize how great God is, Paul then shows how much value God puts on us by what He has done for us, which which is a good spot. So you should you should come to this passage, recognizing the magnitude of this really magnificent sovereign God that we stand before today and just how powerless we are in comparison to him. But yet at the same time, while we walk in that to realize how great his grace is, that’s that’s where this this passage comes from. And we from the very beginning, as human beings, have wrestled with that reality. In fact, when you if you just read starting in the book of Genesis, what you discover when when the serpent enters into the Garden of Eden, the challenge to Eve is really to question Eve. Does God really have your best interest in mind? Does does God is God withholding something from you? Don’t you know better for you that what you need than what God does? And sometimes we tend to act as the exception to what God has like sometimes read scripture and be like, That’s good for all those people.
But here in my situation, I’m different, right? Like, I know what’s best for me. If if God were here right now, he would obviously agree with me. And we sort of put ourselves in the position of being in control of everything as if we were God. And that was the mistake Adam and Eve made in the beginning. They rather than listen to God, they decided to tell God what was right and what was wrong. They wanted to take the position of God. And religion works the same way. Religion is all about you being in charge of your your destiny and how you perform that that God must avail himself to you and you obligate God by the things you do because, well, God owes you. You’re in control. But what you find in Romans Chapter nine and the reason I think Paul is answering questions here in Romans Chapter nine is because he’s dealing with a religious audience and he knows they’re going to have some rebuttals to this because they think it’s all about them. And look how great they are because they do it better than anyone else. And so if God’s going to love them, if God owes anybody, it’s those guys, because, well, at the end of the day, they’re perfect and we’re not.
And he knows they’re going to ask some questions related to that. And truth be told, we all should, especially in terms of what Jesus calls us to in Scripture, which is completely surrender your life to him. He didn’t create you for you. He created you for him and for you to find the purpose for your existence requires you to surrender your life completely to him and trust that that God is sovereign and cares for you. Right? It’s one thing to recognize the sovereignty of God, but it’s another thing to to to also realize that in that sovereignty, God also loves you to be completely in control, but have no compassion or care for the people you’re in control of is a dangerous thing. And but but at the same time, we need to know God is completely in control. If we’re going to trust him, we need both of those things. God is in control. So if I trust him, he will work it out and he cares about me. You need both of those things in order for you to relinquish those things. So. So what you think about God in this passage matters. Some people read this passage and look at the sovereignty of God and become so overwhelmed by the sovereignty of God. They don’t even want to get near it.
But when you start to to recognize and looking at his sovereignty that he also loves you, that he’s also for you, that he’s given his life, then your response to him as you learn to trust in the Lord is to see how. He is faithful when you move in that trust throughout your life. And this is where Paul comes in, this this this passage of scripture and and in Romans chapter nine and and Paul’s teaching us to to learn to trust in the Lord. And he really just makes two points in these passages in this passage that we’re going to look at. And learning to trust in the Lord. And I think what’s important is what we learn about the nature of God. Malachi Chapter three, verse six tells us, I am the Lord. I change not so the same same God you read about in the Old Testament is the same God in the New Testament, and he’s the same God today. Sometimes we read these stories and Scripture and we’re like, Man, that was great for those guys. The way that God did that and the way that God loved them. And we we see this God as if He is these this distant description of of of this deist God on a on a page. But the reality is the same God you read about in the Bible is the same God today, and he carries the same concern for you.
So learning to trust in him. Important for all of us, especially knowing we battle and wanting to put ourselves in the position of God in our sovereignty as if we control our destiny and we don’t. He does. So point number one in your notes is this. Our creator rules his creation. Not not a very profound thought, but important. Our creator, he’s in charge of creation, not us. And so it’s his to decide what he wants to do with it. And so Paul starts off this way. What shall we say then? Is there an injustice on God’s part? He’s asking this question because remember, he just ended in verse, verse 13, talking about Esau and Jacob and how God chose Jacob. But really, before they were even born, he he chose to work through through Jacob, that the Messiah would come. And he didn’t choose Esau. And some may look at that and be, Well, that’s not fair that God chose one and not the other. We dealt with that last week. But then but then if you’re a Jewish person, you see that God chose Jacob, and now you’re looking at the circumstances in the first century and you feel like, well, wait a minute, if God chose to work through the Jewish people, through Jacob, that lineage, and all of a sudden all these Gentiles are coming to know the Lord. But the Jews have, by and large, rejected Christ. How is God being true to what He promised? Right? He promised it would come to the Messiah.
He had promised he would bless, send the blessing through God’s people. But now it looks like God’s people, The Jewish people had rejected him. So does that mean that God is not faithful to what He promised? That’s the question he’s posing here. What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? The one who claims to be just and righteous as he injustice he a unrighteous? And the obvious answer to that, he tells us, is by no means no way. In fact, what we need to understand is how great God is. And what his plan is for our lives. And so Paul starts to reveal to us God’s authority, his character and his plan. He goes on further in verse 15 to 18, you’re going to see in verse 15 and 17, he actually quotes some Old Testament descriptions of of some events to help us understand. And then he he makes a proclamation in verse 16 and 18 in light of that. So verse 1517, he reminds us an Old Testament passage demonstrating who God is and verse 16 and 18. He then describes the the character of God in light of what happened there. And I’m going to actually start I’m going to read verse 16 first so we can see what Paul wants us to to bring to light in light of the example he uses in verse 15. And then I’m going to go back and read verse 15, but this is what he says, verse 16, he says, So then it depends not on humans, human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy.
Here’s what Paul is saying in this passage that God is completely in control and we aren’t. That God really is not obligated to have to give us anything. He is just to allow us to experience the consequences of our own actions in life. Like there is no one in this room that God owes anything to. This is what God is saying. So if God has done anything in creation, it’s only by hand of His grace. God. God is completely just with the life of any center to bring His justice at any moment. God is not obligated to any of us. He doesn’t owe us a thing. And so he, in verse 15, then gives us that example of something God said to Moses in Exodus 33. He said, For he says to Moses, I will have mercy. On whom I have mercy. And now I have compassion. On whom I have compassion. The statement that God gives to Moses is on the backdrop of him just setting Israel free from slavery didn’t didn’t owe him, but he brought them out of slavery anyway, by his grace. And in his grace, Israel, once they’re set free, decides to immediately begin to grumble and complain against God. And God was upset by their behavior to him when he demonstrates this grace.
But. But in light of that, God still chooses to demonstrate His grace. And He says to Moses, I can show my mercy to whoever I want, whenever I want. I don’t owe anyone anything, but I can respond in this way. And for us, it’s a reminder or a reflection of really what Romans has already taught us. In Romans chapter five, verse 12, he says that he says this, therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin. So death spread to all men because all have sinned. And what Paul’s recognizing here is that we all have guilty because we all have a sin nature. And in light of that sin nature, we’re also all sinful. We’re guilty in both degrees that we’ve inherited this sin nature through through Adam, which the wages of that is death. And in light of that, we’ve all been we’ve all been sinful. We’ve all done something wrong. And God’s not obligated to any of us. In light of that, the only thing that would be righteous for God to do is to bring His justice. The sovereignty of God in light of that. It’s very sobering. Who I am. Before. Holy God. Imperfect me. Perfect creator. It’s a very humbling place. And then he goes on in verse 18, he says this. He says, I’ve got to find it. So then he has mercy on whomever he wills and he hardens whomever he wills.
Paul takes the thought that he shared in verse 16, and he takes it one step further. He says, Not only will he have mercy. But he also hardens whomever he wills. And and then he goes back and he shares this example in verse 17. 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. And then he goes on to describe for us the idea of hardening. What he’s demonstrating to us is he’s he used the hardening of Pharaoh for his purpose. He raised Pharaoh up in that hardening to accomplish what it is that he would desire. So. So coming to a passage like this and realizing how sovereign God is over creation and using fare as an example and talking about the hardening of fair, this is usually where people come into this passage like, Wait a minute, I got some questions here, right? God has creatures that he has created and some he has mercy on and some he’s hardened. How how does that work? And especially in light of a good God or a sovereign God? I told you in the beginning his sovereignty is important, but also but also to talk about his nature. If you’re going to completely trust in that sovereignty, you want to know that that sovereignty is for you.
It’s one thing to be sovereign, but it’s another thing to be sovereign and actually be be for you as a as a person. So, so trusting in that sovereign God. Like, how do I know that he doesn’t have ill intent for me? What how does this work? Why would he do this? We’ll talk about why in just a minute. But I think before we talk about why, I want to talk about how. How did God do this? What you think about this verse matters. It will affect how you respond to God. And it will encourage you to reflect what you think about God. And what I mean is, if you think God is evil and mean in his sovereignty. Rather than run to him in need, you will run from him and fear. If you think God treats you poorly, it will encourage you to respond poorly. And so what you think about God in this passage matters because it will encourage how you respond to him and also how you reflect him in this world. So how did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Well, I think it’s important just to remind us for a minute what we know about the character of God. In fact, if you grab the notes this morning, you’ll see at the very bottom I highlighted just a verse from Exodus chapter 34. But what’s important about this verse is how much this verse has mentioned in Scripture. And if you ever read the Bible, Bible’s written by 66 books, written by over 40 authors for 500 years, one of the things that the authors of the Bible love to do is to quote one another.
Over those 500 years, they’ll reflect back on things got us done and the way he’s demonstrated himself. And they’ll quote those passages as if to remind us things move forward. This is how God is continuing to work. He’s being faithful to his promises. He’s being faithful to who he is. Do you know the most quoted verse out of all the Bible from other from from the book of comes from the Book of Exodus. Say it like this. The most quoted verse in the Bible by the other authors of Scripture comes from the Book of Exodus chapter 34, verse six and seven, because it’s a reminder of the character of God, and they want the idea of who He is to constantly be reflected upon as God moves forward in this world. And so when we come to a passage like the hardening of heart and how we deal with it, I think this is important as it relates to the nature of God to understand who He is in his sovereignty. So that when we come to the idea of how we should respond in light of who God is, we do so with the correct perspective of of God in his nature. So in excess 34, verse six, it says this The Lord passed before him and proclaim the Lord the Lord a God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.
But who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers and the children, and of the children’s children, and to the third and fourth generation. So he certainly ends by saying to us, Look, God will be just God. He will be just He will. He has to be in order to be good. He must be just and he will judge. And the things that we do will will affect generations. Right? The way you choose to walk with God today will have an impact in generations and for generations. Your poor decisions can affect your lineage. It can affect people around you. But but he’s a reminder in all of that that what God’s heart is. Merciful, gracious, slow to anger. Abounding in steadfast love. Faithful. That is who got is in fact, in the book of Jonah. When Jonah was was called to go to Nineveh to preach to the Nineveh, you know how the story of Jonah goes is like if anyone knows a Bible story, you know, Jonah, rather than go to Nineveh, he runs to Tarshish, he gets eaten by a big giant fish. He gets puked out later, which must have been a scene to see. And eventually he goes to Nineveh. And at the end of the book, Jonah, really, in the moment when he sees Nineveh repenting, he reflects on why he wanted to to avoid going to Nineveh, even though God called him to.
And this is what he says about the character of God, He says. And he, Jonah, prayed to the Lord and said, Oh Lord, is it not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That. That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster. Jonah’s enemy, the Jewish people. Their enemy was Nineveh. And Jonah didn’t want to preach a message of opportunity for God’s grace to the people in Nineveh because he knew the character of God. In fact, when you think about this idea of hardening of heart, I think what’s important to know, James 113 tells us that no one’s saying when he is tempted. I’m being tempted of God for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one. I God, God doesn’t force us to do evil and God doesn’t even tempt us to do evil. To do so would be to make God evil. But when we look at the idea of of this hardening of heart, what you find throughout the book of Exodus, where where Paul reflects on on Pharaoh being raised up, it’s interesting how it describes this idea of hardening throughout the book of Exodus as that story unfolds.
There’s there’s multiple verses that tells us one fair hardened his own heart. And then there’s passages where it tells us, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. And then there’s passages tell us that for his heart was hard. And so the question is, okay, well, who who did the hardening of Farrow’s heart? Was it? Farrow? Was it God or was this as a heart? Heart. And the answer to all that is yes. Yes. So how how do you reconcile that in in what Paul is communicating here and the idea of ferrous heart being hard, well won, it’s to always remind ourselves of the sovereignty of God, right? Like God is free to do as God desires to do, as long as it doesn’t violate God’s nature. God is creator. Work. We’re creature. But what does it look like for God to heart and for his heart? And I’m going to give you my biblical response to this. And if you don’t like it, that’s okay. I’ll still call your friend and you don’t have to like me, but I’m going to like you. All right? People get very passionate about this. But I’ll tell you what I think it is. I think God can use whatever he wants for his glory, and he certainly does so for Pharaoh. In fact, one of the things I would be cautious with when when it tells us that God hardened for his heart.
One of the things I find interesting, if you know how the story goes, God frees Israel out of Egypt. Egypt chases Israel to the to the Red Sea, God parts the sea. Israel walks through the Egypt. The soldiers go in after Pharaoh or after Moses and the Israelites and and God closes the sea and they drown. Right. But what’s interesting is there’s not a passage that ever tells us Pharaoh drowned. There’s not a passage that ever tells you Farrah died. There’s not even a declaration about the end of his life, eternally or physically. It just tells you that in this moment, God hardened Farah’s heart to accomplish a purpose. It doesn’t even tell you for how long God hardened for his heart. It could have been just for this moment. So to to just assume all of that in this passage of scripture, I think, is is to imply a bit much than what Scripture says. But God can certainly use the evil in our heart to accomplish a greater purpose. God can do that. And in fact, he does it with Pharaoh. And this is the way I think God does it. Pharaoh is full of pride. Truth be told, the reason any of us do not bow down to God is because we, our hearts can can fill with pride like some. When some people understand the gospel that Jesus paid it all, that Jesus gave his life for you. That if you come to Jesus, confess to Jesus and surrender yourself to Jesus, that God gives you new life in Him.
Some people look at that and think, That’s too easy, right? But but I can look at that and say, No, that’s incredibly hard. Because. Because what it requires you to do is to be humble before the Lord. And people don’t like to do that because we like to think that we’re in control. And when our hearts are filled with pride and we think someone else wants to take the position that we want, then we war and we fight and we harden our hearts. Who is this God? That’s the question Favre asks Moses. When Moses comes to Pharaoh and says, God said, Let my people go. First question is who is that God? Doesn’t he know I’m God? I mean, that’s what the Pharaohs believed in the day, that they were God’s presence on the earth. Does he not know who I am? Who is this petty God, one of many gods in this world today? And Pharaoh saw God as a competition to what he desired to do, not as a deliverer of His grace for people who needed freedom. And so favors heart becomes hard for his heart starts to compete with that. And I think God looks at the moment and he says to him, That’s fine, fair. If this is where your heart is, the hardening of hardening in this moment to that, God relinquishes his hand of grace off of Pharaoh, and let’s Pharaoh run down that path.
God uses the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. In fact, I would say the same is true for us in Scripture today. There’s warnings in the Bible, in the New Testament, Hebrews. Happens a few times today. If you hear his voice, do not harden your heart. It is a gift of grace. To even have the privilege to hear. Of what God has done for you, that you could find freedom in him. Do you know how sovereign he is? Do you know what he could do to our lives at any moment? Because he is completely just creating creator over creature. Yet you hear the word of his grace. Fact first Peter five. The opposite of that is to say this humble yourselves, therefore under the mighty hand of God. That the proper time. He may exalt you. I think in the stubbornness of our heart and our pride that when we experience grace as as fair experienced the grace of God coming in to even speak to him through Moses, when we’re in that position of pride rather than surrender. Our heart grows harder. And I think this is what God did in this moment. He He continued to pour out his grace and his heart continue to get harder and harder in this moment that he wasn’t he wasn’t willing to let go and God knew and God was going to use it in order to bring out a greater purpose.
So when you think about this passage. The beginning part of this. I think Paul is saying when when they ask the question, is God unjust? And verse 14, what, Paul? Rather than run away from that, what Paul really does is he steps harder into it. He’s like, Well, let’s for a moment just examine how great this God is and how sovereign this God is. So so we can understand just how important we we consider our state before him. This is not a game to play. God is holy. We’re not. And God completely rules over creatures. We don’t dictate what God does. God determines what God does. And so to come before God of that magnificent brilliance and to even have a place to stand before him at all and not be. Be smitten off the earth. It’s a place of grace. It is. It’s very humbling. It’s very sobering. It puts a distinction between creature and creator, and it provokes us to consider what kind of person God is. One of the healthiest places you can be on your spiritual journey. It’s in a place of complete humility before the Lord. And at the same time, when you recognize how powerful he is. It can also be scary. To to surrender yourself to something with that much authority. That much power. But at the same time, like. I know what people tend to come to church like. And not you guys. You guys have it all together, and everyone’s perfect here, right? So I’m talking about other churches in this moment, but.
You know, sometimes you walk through life and you experience the good things of life, and sometimes you experience the bad things of life. But what you ultimately find in that is like, there’s something missing. There’s even when life goes well for you. There’s something missing. And that void in your soul. Needs filled and in order to fill it, it’s going to take something greater than what you’ve experienced in this life. Like for those who walk life and have tried life without the Lord, how did that work out for you? You need something far more sovereign, far greater, and you need that thing to to be for you. And I shouldn’t call it a thing. I should call it God, but you need it to be for you, which is point number two, that I think Paul then leans into in these notes and he says this, Well, he doesn’t say this. I’m saying this God’s way is always better. God’s way is always better. Which is why here at church, we often say, Look, we’re not here to offer You offered you just a piece of God. We’re not here to tell you how to be the best, better version of yourself or how to be a good person. We’re here so that you can completely let go of of you before the Lord you die to yourself.
And embrace Jesus, what he has for you. That is the only way God calls us to live in Scripture. That is the only way you find the purpose of of your life and what God has for you. Is to surrender the the throne of your life to the one who was really in control and and find out what the the Lord has has called you to in him and. Verse 19 he he then goes on, he says this he goes, you will say to me then why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will. But who are you, old man, To answer back to God? Well, what does molded say to its molder? Why have you made me like this? 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. What if, God, I love this. So he says to us all the way to verse 21, Look, God, His creator, your creature, and he can do what he wants with his creation. He’s in charge. That’s what he’s saying. But but then he proposes this question, which is which is great. He goes a step further and says, But now let’s consider how this sovereign God acts. He says, 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. In order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.
He’s saying not only do you not recognize how sovereign God really works, but but what if he works this way? What if, for example, with Pharaoh? What if God was completely just just to wipe Pharaoh off the earth? But rather what if instead God chose to endure? The hardness of Pharaoh. In order to bring about a greater salvation. What if God could use the bad things of this world? To bring an even greater hope through it. That’s what he’s saying. What if God knew how to turn the despicable heart of one person? In order to bring the rescue of millions of people. That’s what God’s done. He’s saying, Look, you think you know better than Sovereign God who is over all things. Consider consider the character of who God is. Exodus 34, verse six and seven. And just just look at the way God’s hand has worked. Even though Pharaoh made things hard, God turned it around for good for those that would find rescue in him. Millions of Israelites set free from from that because of that, through that. And not only that, that story becomes a picture of the ultimate redemption that God wants to bring for his people throughout all of creation. In fact, God didn’t just do it in the lives of Pharaoh. God does it over and over and get into Scripture when you when you think about the the New Testament and the New Testament, Jesus teaching his word, people are receiving it, but not everybody.
In fact, in Mark chapter four, Jesus really says a similar thing to how God worked in the life of Pharaoh, He says. But to those of excuse me, but to those on the outside, everything is said in parables, right? So he’s saying, Look, to those of you that have embraced this, I’m glad you’ve embraced this. But to those of you on the outside, I’m teaching all of this in parables. And you know why I’m telling this in parables verse 12 so that they may may be ever seen, but never perceive and ever hearing, but never understanding. Otherwise they might turn and be forgiven. You know, Jesus is saying here. He’s looking at people that have embraced him. He’s looking at people that are rejecting him, and he’s choosing to share a message where the people that are rejecting him can’t understand what he’s saying, because what Jesus ultimately wants to do is use their hardness of heart to lead to his crucifixion. That will bring a greater salvation for everyone. God is taking what man intends really for evil. And he’s using it to write a a greater redemption story for all people. Oh, in this moment, again, I think it’s a little much to assume that that that Jesus uses the hardness of their heart. Jesus isn’t forcing the hardness of his heart, I don’t think.
But but what I think in the story is their hearts are already hard and God is taking off his hand of grace. He’s saying, I preach the message. You’ve rejected it. I’m taking off my hand of grace here to let you continue down the path of sin which you are already on. You’re already choosing this road. And knowing that you’re choosing this road, I am going to use this to bring about a greater salvation, a greater redemption story that will go beyond the Jewish people and it will reach into the Gentile world. In fact, the next verse is Paul quotes and and Romans chapter nine, verse 24. He goes back to the book of Josiah to share this. He says, Even us, whom he has called not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles, as indeed he says in Josiah, Those who are not my people, I will call my people. And her who is not beloved, I will call beloved. And in the very place where it was said to them, You were not my people there. They will be called sons of the living God. So what he’s doing, he’s going back to the story of Joseph. If you know the story of Josiah, Josiah was told by God to marry a prostitute. It’s not known whether whether Gomer became a prostitute after she was married or before she was married. But at some point in there, she became a prostitute.
And Joseph had to keep going out and rescuing Gomer. She had to he had to keep paying for her by her out of slavery at one point. And it was this picture of God’s grace over and over showing up in our lives that no matter how many times we reject him, God is he’s faithful, He cares for us. He can he can bring about a work even when our hearts are against him. And he refers to people that are not his. He tells when Josie and Gomer have children, he’s like, I want you to name these kids, name them not loved and not my people. Who wants that name? Right? But but, but their life became a picture of really God’s ultimate hand of salvation. And it became an illustration. Of God’s hand over the Gentile world. To the Jews. He’s saying, Look, your rejection of me. I’m actually going to use the hard heart to bring about a greater redemption story to invite Gentiles into this. And then to answer the Jewish mind, he goes on further and shares a couple of illustrations, one from Isaiah ten and one from Isaiah chapter, chapter one. And he says this Isaiah cries out concerning his rule. Though the numbers of the Sons of Israel be as the sands of the sea. Only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out His sentence upon the Earth fully and without delay. Truth be told, what Paul is reminding Israel here.
There is always been physical Israel, right? But there’s only been a remnant that’s been spiritual Israel. And really that belongs to the people of faith, whether Jew or Gentile. And what he’s saying is, look, Israel, if you go back through your history, what you find is over and over, the majority continue to be unfaithful. But at the same time, God always had a remnant. God always had a remnant. And in Isaiah chapter ten, what he’s doing is actually talking about it in this passage. It’s a passage of judgment and hope. What are you saying? Israel is being carried into Babylonian captivity. Assyrian captivity. They know these captivity are coming and he’s looking down the turnpike of their life and they realize that they’re going to be taken away. And they’re wondering, is there any hope for us? And he reflects back on this passage saying, look, you’re going to be taken away, but there’s always going to be a remnant. God will always preserve his grace, will always come in and deliver God. God will always be faithful in that way. So there’s at one point recognized and there is judgment and rejection, but at the same time, there is this opportunity of hope. In fact, in Isaiah chapter one, he goes on further and quotes verse 29, he says, And as Isaiah predicted, if the Lord of Hosts had not left us offspring. We would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.
And what they’re saying is, look, if God hadn’t intervened. It would have been over for us. We had no hope. Apart from the grace of God being made known in this world. There is no hope. And what is recognized in their unfaithfulness. Is that the sovereign God continues to show up with his faithfulness. That they could always have the opportunity of hope. We see in this passage. The sovereignty of God. And you see in this passage the grace of God. Sovereignty is humbling. And the grace is inviting. To to realize in comparison to who God is. Really? Really. We’re just ants on this planet. But to see at the same time the love of God. Continue to be poor out over and over. No matter how many times Israel turn their backs on them, no matter how many times we turn our backs on him. The grace of God faithfully demonstrated in in Christ. Now some people. Sometimes we read a passage like this, and some people, they don’t like it. With Christ. There’s life without Christ, there isn’t life. And that’s what that’s what the Lord is hanging this passage. And some people get frustrated by that. Like Jesus said, statements like I am the way the truth in the life. No one comes to the father but by me. If you want to know how to get to heaven, it is exclusively Jesus. There is not another way. It is exclusively Jesus. And people get frustrated by that and they think, Well, who is God to do that? Right? I am a good person.
I’m in control of my own destiny, by the way that I perform to obligate God to have to own me. That’s that’s that’s where people come to. Oftentimes the pastor’s like that wrestling with with things like this because they want to be in control. They don’t like someone else’s in control, and they want to govern their own destiny. And they don’t want to accept the fact that God does. That’s God’s job. And the rebuttal to that is I’m a good person. That happens to me, I think, every week when I walk around. At some point someone finds what they do, what what, what I do, and then they like to share their their place. And they just say to me, here’s here’s my belief. And as long as you’re good, that’s all that matters. They try to find mutual ground. That’s what they say to me. And can I tell you this morning, that’s not all that matters. In fact, that doesn’t matter in comparison to your salvation. God certainly wants you to be good, but it’s not in order to earn your position before him. That’s not up to you. That’s up to him. But to hold to that view. To hold that view. Someone will say, you know, it’s not fair that God would say that as long as I’m a good person. Let me just give you a few few thoughts here.
There is no such thing as good without God. Like to suggest you can be a good person without God is really foolish. Because without without God, there is no moral law. You have to have a moral law giver in order to have a moral law for which goodness must come from, you need a God in order for good to exist. So to suggest you could be good without God is an impossibility too. It makes a mockery of what Jesus has done. It makes an absolute mockery of what Jesus has done to suggest that you can look at Jesus who dies so that you can accept his free gift and say, Oh, don’t worry about that. Jesus, I got this. I’m a good person, right? I can know you could do that for other people, Christ, but not necessarily for me. As long as you’re good, that’s all that matters, right? I mean, it completely makes a mockery of everything Jesus offered in his life. If there was another way, Jesus would not have given himself. And then to suggest that all it takes to get into eternity, into heaven is to simply be good. Without recognizing that what makes heaven heaven is the presence of Jesus. Who would ever think that you can live in someone’s home and never acknowledge the person that owns the home and you get in heaven and people like, Why are you here? I was just good.
This is God’s house. Who cares? I’m good, right? I can live here. This belongs to me. To. To suggest you can be in the presence of God without ever acknowledging God, without even surrendering to the one who owns the home is foolishness. What makes heaven Heaven. It’s the presence of Jesus. It’s him. It’s not about if you’re good enough. No one can ever be good enough. It’s about if your life has been humbled before. The creator of all things, who has given his life for you that you can find freedom in him. When we talk about life as Christians, we’re not talking about living forever. That’s certainly a part of it. But we’re not talking about when I go to heaven, I get to live forever. That’s not what we’re talking about. When we talk about life. We’re talking about experiencing a relationship with Jesus both now and forever. We talk about eternal life. It’s not about a place. It’s about a state of being before anything. And that state of being as having life because you have Christ in you. And the only way that happens. Is by having your life completely surrendered to him. Which is why I said towards the beginning, our church is not a church about come get a little self help. It’s not about giving you a little bit of improvement to make tomorrow just slightly better. I do want your life to be better. But the only way that really happens.
Is an absolute surrender to the sovereignty of his God, knowing the character of God and what he has done for you. And when you discover that. When you see this great God. And how personal he has become. In order that you could have forgiveness and freedom. There is no one who has ever loved you to that degree. There is no one who can give you the hope that Christ has has provided for you. There is nothing in this life that can fill you the way that Jesus can fill you. And when our hearts begin to recognize that it’s not only a gift that we can receive, but it’s something that Jesus also wants to to live out through us that others can know Him. When we’re filled with the presence of God, our hearts are inspired to live for His glory in this world, because we recognize when we didn’t have a shot in the dark. Jesus comes in with his great light to give us his presence. Which leads me this story to end. There is a young man names named James Renwick. He lived in the 1600s. His father’s name was Andrew. His mother’s name was Elizabeth. There his parents were were weavers. They lived in Scotland. They had had multiple children, but none of them had survived out of childhood. And their pray to the Lord was God. If you could just give us one one more child. And the Lord did.
The Lord brought them. James And this family was a family of believers. And it was during the time that King Charles came into Scotland. King Charles the second came into Scotland and tried to declare to the church that he was the ruler of the church, and they needed to surrender to them. And this group of people refused to acknowledge King Charles as the king over the church in Scotland, and they referred to themselves as covenant heirs. They didn’t want to an earthly king over the church. They wanted their heavenly king, and they refused to bow down to King Charles to the point that King Charles started mastering the Christians in Scotland. In fact, James went on to study in the University of Edinburgh in order to to go into ministry. And while he was in Edinburgh, when King Charles’s people would come into town, they would find the Christians and they would decapitate them and they would cut off their hands and they would nail their heads in their hands to the walls of the city gate as warning to the people in their desire to pursue God and not bow down any King Charles. James was one of those people. James refused to bow down. James The story says that in his life he would travel all over Scotland, sometimes by day, sometimes by night, over mountains, hungry, sleeping in caves, continuing to proclaim Christ to the people and refusing to bow down to Charles.
And one day James was caught. James was thrown into the stocks. And James got to the end of his life right before he he died. His mother came to visit him. And the night before his execution, he happened to to slip a note to his mother. But James’s note is a reminder of what the heart discovers when it finds itself in Christ. But he says this February 16, 1688, James’s mother at this point is a widow. But he says there is nothing in the world that I am sorry to leave, but you. Farewell, mother. Farewell. Night Wonderings, Cold and weariness for Christ. Farewell, Sweet Bible and preaching the Gospel. Welcome, Crown of Glory. Welcome The Blessed Trinity. And one God I commit my soul into your eternal rest. Do you know why James could say that so confidently? The next day he was carried out to his execution. But do you know what gave James the privilege to say something like this so authoritatively and knowing where his eternity rests? The sovereignty of a good God. When you know how great God is. And you know how much his power reigns. And you see the extent of his grace willing to come for your life that you can find freedom in him. If anything in this world is secure, it is what you have with Christ. James in that moment, boldly letting himself rest in the sovereign hands of that God, knowing that what God desires for Him is always best.