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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 12

Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 12

Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 12
Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 12
TOPICS: From Valley to Victory

From the very beginning of time, the people who wanted a god who suits them. They wanted a god who matches their preconceived ideas of him. They want a god who likes what they like and believes what they believe. They wanted a god who operates on the basis of their feelings, and functions like a bellhop. Quite a while back, a friend of mine told me this story about the church, one of those staid churches that are very traditional and nothing changed in 60 years.

And then a young Evangelical pastor came in and he began to preach the Word of God. And then one of those old-timers came up to him and he said to him, and I'm gonna quote here, he said: "Reverend, if God were alive today, he would be shocked at the changes that you're making in this church". But before you blame this guy, in reality is, this is the attitude of so many professing Christians. They are like the little boy who was drawing a picture and his father said to him, he said, "What are you doing, son"? He said, "I'm drawing a picture of God". He said, "Son, nobody knows what God look like. God is Spirit. How can you say that"? He said, "Well, they will know in a few minutes".

My beloved friends, this is the attitude of the people who lived in Rome to whom the Apostle Paul is writing. But I wanna tell you that the very last verse of chapter 9, follow with me in the Scripture in your own Bibles, please, the very last verse, verse 33: "'See, I lay in Zion a Stone that causes men to stumble, a Rock that makes them fall, but the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'" This is the very core of the Christian faith, this is the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and this is the very foundational stone of the entire chapter, Romans chapter 9. He dedicated the rest of this chapter in answering those who accuse God of not being fair and not being just.

And I have four things, four things. First of all, the promises of the sovereign God will never, never... can you say, "Never"? Never fail. This is verses 6 to 13. Secondly, the character of the sovereign God is that he is more than fair and just, verses 14 to 18. Thirdly, the sovereign God is not answerable to us, verses 19 to 29. I'm gonna come to each one of those. Fourthly, the sovereign God had Jesus in mind all along. Since before Creation, he had Jesus in mind.

Now, let's look at these four very quickly. First of all, the promises of God, the promises of the sovereign God, they will never fail. The people of Israel were favored by God. Make no mistake about it. In fact, he enumerates them in verses 4 and 5. He shows those favors, seven of them altogether if you're counting: "They are the physical descendants of Abraham, they're adopted by God, they entered into a covenant with God, they received the law, they had a temple to worship in. They were given promises of the Messiah. And there had the patriarchs through whom Jesus physically descended". I mean, amazing privileges, just like the privileges of a child of a covenant in the Christian church who grow up to know Jesus, to hear about Jesus, to be instructed about Jesus, to know the righteousness of God, and to know the Word of God.

These are privileges that some people throw away. How can a child of privilege become a child of prejudice? How can a child of blessing can be a child of blasphemy? Paul said, "It is not because God has failed to keep his promises". No, and a million nos. Then what? Verse 6: "For not all who are descended of Israel are true Israel". Don't miss this. Don't miss this. A lot of people do. Now, here's what Paul is saying, that it is from the beginning there's always been two Israels. How many? Two Israels. And then he goes on to explain what he was talking about, illustrates it. One is the physical descendants of Israel and those that believed by faith just like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did. What's Paul saying? He's saying, "All of God's promises were not for the nominal Israel, but for the spiritual Israel".

Just as salvation is not for the nominal Christians, but for the believing Christians. God's promises have always been and always will be for the faithful remnant within Israel. You remember back, all the way back to chapter 2:28, Paul is distinguishing between those who are physically circumcised and those who's spiritually circumcised, not outwardly, but inwardly in their heart. He made that distinction early, early, early in the epistle to the Romans. And then here he comes and says, "I wanna prove that to you. I'm gonna prove my point, distinguishing between the nominal Jews and the faithful, believing Jews, and there are two separate people because those who believe like Abraham are the true descendants of Abraham".

And then he illustrates it from the Scripture, from the Old Testament. He says, "Abraham had two sons," right? "Isaac and Ishmael". There's something here in verse 13, and if you have your Bible, underline it, verse 13, because it requires an explanation. A lot of people stumble over this word "hate". Did you get that? The word "hate". When he says, "I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau", I wanna explain that. It's very important, very important. In reality, there is no English equivalence to that word that is in the original.

In the Hebrew speech, it's called "hyperbole," "hyperbole". It's like when Jesus said, listen carefully to what Jesus said in Luke 14:26: "'Unless you hate your father and mother, you're not worthy of me.'" And you say, "Now, wait a minute, Michael. This is the God of love who went to the cross out of love is now talking about hate"? Chill out, because I'm gonna explain it to you, okay? The best way I can translate it for you, the best way I'd explain it to you is that he's saying, "You must place your salvation ahead of your loved ones, ahead of everything in life. If you really want to receive my salvation, it has to be your number-one passion. It's the number-one desire. It's the number-one longing in your heart. It has to be the huge priority over and above all relationships. Salvation has to be an overriding passion of yours".

The promise of God to Israel never failed. You have to understand, it was a promise for those spiritual Israel, why? Because all along, God's promises were intended for the faithful remnant within Israel. Those who are truly the descendants of Abraham are those who have the faith of Abraham, not necessarily the race of Abraham.

The promise of the sovereign God will never fail. Secondly, the character of the sovereign God is more than fair. He is more than just, 14 and all the way to 18. Now that we understand God's promises never fail, but rather, they are fulfilled, they are fulfilled in the spiritual descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then why these Jewish leaders are falsely accusing the Apostle Paul of being a traitor to Judaism? Listen carefully, the objections that they have and the objections that they're raising that Paul is answering here in this chapter, "Is it fair of God to choose Isaac over Ishmael"? I hear the same argument today.

"Is it fair on God's part to choose Jacob over Esau"? Paul says, "You are asking the wrong question". You're asking the wrong question. The question is not whether God is fair. The question is, "Does God have mercy at all"? Verse 15: "The sovereign God says, 'I will have mercy on whom I'll have mercy.'" The question of the critics is ill-conceived question. When it comes to God's salvation, forget about man's logic. God operates on his own set of logic. Because if God exercises justice, none of us will make it, none of us. We are up the creek without a paddle. If God exercises justice with me, I'm up to my eyeballs in alligators.

And, beloved, let me confess to you, I've never prayed for justice for me. I prayed it for others. Man, do I got a list of people I want God to sock it to them. Praying for justice would be only foolish. Only a fool prays for justice, and I can tell you, my mama never raised a fool. Forget about it. I am pleading for mercy, not justice. That's what I plead with God for, mercy. Beloved, God owes us nothing except judgment. That bellhop God that is preached in many a church today has no resemblance to Yahweh, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Look at verse 17. It was when Pharaoh hardened his own heart, God said, "Hey, I'll give you more of what you want. I'll harden it even further".

The promises of God, the promises of the sovereign God will never fail. Secondly, the character of the sovereign God is, he's very fair, he's just. Thirdly, the sovereign God is not answerable to us. Look at verses 19 to 29. Here comes the next critic, the question of the next critic. If God is gonna have mercy upon whom he's gonna have mercy, why even pray? Goodness gracious, I'll save a lot of time. Why witness? Why get attacked by my coworkers for trying to live my Christian life and witness to them about Christ? Well, if he's gonna do that, just forget it, right? Have you heard that? Oh, I'm glad Paul answered that question, not me. If it was left up to me, I would have messed it up.

But here in verses 19 to 29, he's saying, "If you're asking God to respond to the fallacial demand that God is answerable to us, then you are compounding the problem. You are compounding the problem". Here's a Youssef translation. Paul is saying, "Chill out for a minute and think of your pathetic knowledge of God". In his graciousness, God allows us as his children to ask, "Why"? And listen to me, there is nothing wrong with asking, "Why"? Nothing wrong with that. And that's not what he's talking about. The problem arises when we demand that God gives us an answer, demand that God be answerable to us.

Now, listen, I know because we have this democratic culture and society, and I thank God for it, we feel that we elected officials to office and if they don't do what we ask them to do, we can vote them out. Here's the problem, my beloved friends. Listen to me, because many people in the church think and believe that they voted for God. Hello? I talked about this last message. They think they voted for God. There is gonna hold 'em accountable. And that is false teaching. And that false teaching I alluded to in the last message, they're actually saying, "I voted for God. I chose God. He did not chose me. I am the one. It's up to me to walk with God".

I've got news for you, if it was up to me to walk with God, I would have been lost a long time ago. Oh, my goodness. We decided, we chose him, and we are Americans. We're the center of the universe. No, you're not, God is, God is. God is the center of the universe, amen. Give him praise. Beloved, I heard with those ears, I've heard with those ears preachers who are trying to downsize God. They wanna bring him down to a wallet size. Preachers wanna hold God accountable. The way I think about it is just think about it from a human relationship. Parents who have given everything, who've done everything for their children.

Only when their children reach adulthood, they have no gratitude, no thankfulness. Or an employer who gives a job to an employee who desperately needed it, and then that employee turns his back and betrays his employer. Think about this, how devastating it is from a human relationship point of view. How much more from God's point of view? Think how dreadful this is to disrespect and disappoint a loving God. We take all of the common graces from his hand. We take all of the blessings from his hands. We take all of the unseen and untold mercies from his hands, and then we have the temerity, when things go wrong, or some blip screen in our life, and we get mad at God.

Please, don't misunderstand me. Paul is not talking about a sincere believer, and I've been there many times, a sincere believer who occasionally feels perplexed by his situation or her situation, feels perplexed about the circumstances, and they're coming to the Lord and ask, "Lord, do something". That's not what he's talking about. He's talking about those who have no respect for God whatsoever and treat him like the bellhop. Beloved, Paul is saying that we must let God be God. And if he is indeed the sovereign God, he will always make perfect sense to himself. And we will understand it one day. If not in this life, it will be for eternity, but we will understand it one day.

Now, for those of us who get angry with God sometimes because of sin and dreadful sinners, and I already told you, I do that. But I want to tell you, Paul has a word for us here. He's saying, "Be very patient. Be very patient, for God's judgment of sin and sinners is on its way and it's gonna be absolutely spectacular". And because of this judgment is gong to be so severe, you don't wanna be anywhere near the people who are gonna be judged. Because God is he who is. He does what he does when he does it and how he does it.

Here in this passage in Romans chapter 9, Paul is quoting from the Old Testament, which is Paul's Bible at the time, saying, "The Gentiles will come to God through faith, and they will become his people". But his own, just like John said in John chapter 1, "His own received him not". They will not be his people on that dreadful day. Far, far, far, far from being a traitor to Judaism, Paul is only proclaiming what the Old Testament prophets have prophesied about the Messiah. The fact they did not want to accept them is not God's problem, it's their problem. He is indeed longing for them to stop hardening of their hearts and come to Christ.

Listen to what Jesus himself said. Matthew 8:11, here's what Jesus say: "'I say to you that many will come from the east and the west,'" that is always a reference to Gentiles, "the east and the west," those who are far away. "Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom," that's the Jewish people, the covenant people, "they will be thrown outside". In their spiritual blindness and their self-centeredness and self-righteousness, they'll become angry at the fact that heaven's entrance is only possible through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The promises of the sovereign God will never fail. The character of the sovereign God is more than fair and just. The sovereign God is not answerable to us. Finally, God the Father had God the Son in mind all the way, even before the Creation, but certainly we see the beginning of it in Genesis 3:15. He had Jesus in mind all the time. They just couldn't see it, didn't want to see it. You know, those last four verses, 30, 31, 32, 33, you see them in the Bible? This is a word picture of what is trying to say in those four verses.

Every person, whether a Jew or a Gentile, has to decide whether they will be hoisted up by the power of the Holy Spirit and rest completely on the Rock of Zion, the Rock of Ages, the Lord Jesus Christ, or they wanna spend their days trying to kick at the Rock and kick at the Rock, and then trying to climb that Rock with their fingernails. You can only imagine the results, the consequences. If you decide that you'll do it your way and try to climb the Rock with your fingernails, I plead with you, I plead with you.

The reason I'm broken is because I don't want anyone to suffer for eternity, not at the sound of my voice anyway. That's what I'm responsible for. I'll plead with you, don't climb on your fingernails. You're gonna be crushed by the Rock. Come on the cable car, the Holy Spirit of God. Let him lift you up, hoist you up and take you to the Lord Jesus, the Rock of Ages, and there you're gonna find peace, joy, and above all, eternal life with Jesus. I want to tell you this as I conclude, something I've given a lot of thought to through the years, I really have, many, many years.

Why do people, or some people at least, stumble over Jesus, the Rock of Ages? Why do they stumble over him? They want to climb that mountain with their fingernails. These fingernails of personal pride, whether it be pride of ethnic heritage or pride of a religious heritage or pride of theological heritage, there's fingernails of pride of self-importance. "I can do it". But, my beloved friends, until you put aside your pride, until you put aside your pride and allow God's cable car, the Holy Spirit, to just lift you up, judgment will overshadow you not only in this life, but forever.
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