Skip Heitzig - Romans 9-10:4
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Good evening. Great to see you, especially on a day when the season can't decide if it's spring or winter. And I think we've had a little of both in the last couple of days. But it's nice and warm in the fellowship of God's people in here. And we're glad that you could make it for this midweek Bible study. A time when we plow through the scriptures verse by verse, book by book. And we are in the book of Romans. Jesus said to the religious folks of his day, he said, you error not knowing the scriptures. And that's a mistake I don't want any of us to make. We will error if we don't know the scriptures.
And so the commitment of our staff, of this fellowship, of those in leadership is that we would feed people all of the word of God, all of the scripture, what Paul called in the book of Acts, the whole counsel of God. From Genesis to Revelation, see how it applies to our lives. And we have finished Old Testament books, two of them. And now we're in the New Testament book of Romans. We're in chapter 9. So let's open our Bibles to Romans 9, if you haven't already. You probably already have in my little introduction. You're all ready to go, raring to go. Hopefully, you have even read in advance Romans 9, 10, and 11. I trust that you have or that you have a working knowledge of it. If not, doesn't matter, but it's always better if you have. Anyway, shall we pray together?
Father, thank you for the hunger that we have that you have put within us to know truth. To know your words of truth. Lord, I pray that as we uncover this grand section of scripture, this unit, in the book of Romans, chapters 9, 10, and 11 or however far we make it tonight, help us to not only understand, but to rejoice in the fact that you are sovereign. And in your sovereignty have elected us, chosen us in Christ, before the foundations of the world. That's a truth we will not fully grasp. Yet, it is a truth that we can rejoice in. We can be thrilled about. Lord, I pray you will give strength if we are weary. I pray that you will give encouragement if we are downhearted. I pray that you will lift us up. I pray that you will provide for the needs of your people. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Well, when we get to chapter 9, as we dipped into it last time, we noticed a shift in Paul's tone and Paul's emotion. In chapter 8, he's pretty high. He's pretty exuberant. What will separate us from the love of Christ? And he lists several possibilities and says, in all these things, we are hupernikaó. We are more than conquerors. So it's a great, awesome chapter. He's definitely pumped. He's definitely stoked. But when we get to chapter 9, there's a shift. He's broken hearted. He comes right out of the chute, so to speak, expressing his heartache over his own people and the lostness of his own people. And how that he, himself, could even say, look, I'm willing to be a curse from Christ for my brethren, the Jewish nation.
So Paul is emoting quite a bit in chapter 9. It's very personal to him because of his background as a Jewish man. And so in chapter 9, 10, and 11 he speaks about Israel's past, present, and future. Romans 8, their past, or Romans 9, their past. Romans 10, the present. Romans 11, their future. I'm sure that many of the Jewish people, especially those who had known Paul personally, thought that Paul was a traitor. Because he is saying that Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes. That the law served its purpose. It's done. And now Paul is running around preaching to Jew and Gentile a law free gospel. Saying, we're not under the law. It's not about keeping the law. The law is over. It served its purpose.
Now we are under a New Covenant, the covenant of grace. I suppose if you are Jewish and you heard Paul say that, you'd think, the guy's a traitor. He left Judaism. He's gone off to Gentile regions. He sold out. Remember when Paul wrote his letter to the Philippian church and he gave his background? And he says that I was circumcised on the eighth day of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin. A Hebrew of the Hebrews concerning the law a ferrocene, concerning Zeil, persecuting the church, concerning righteousness which comes by the law. I was blameless. Then he said, all those things that were once gain to me, I counted loss. For the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ and I do still, I do count them as rubbish, dung, scoobalawn, a very strong word. That I might gain Christ. I'm willing to give it all up to gain Christ.
So Paul would have been misunderstood. Therefore, he circles back after having written what he has written to underscore the idea, the fact, that God is not done with the Jews as a nation. The Jewish people, Israel as a nation, as an ethnic group, he's not done with them. They still are chosen. And he still has a plan to incorporate salvation in and through the Jewish nation. And that's why 9, 10, and 11 are very important chapters in the book of Romans. Over the years, I've gotten letters from people who knew that I had a Catholic background. And I got one several years ago. I was then approached by somebody, locally, in another town up in Santa Fe. And then just, the week before last, I got another one of these letters. And this was different, though all three were different.
But this was from a gal, But they were, basically, all the same thing saying, the Lord laid it on my heart to write to you and tell you to return to the Catholic church. And now, I don't know in what capacity she thought I should return to the Catholic church. Certainly, I couldn't be a priest. Being married with an adult son and grandchildren does pose an impediment to that possibility. But she did say, you could have a role as a deacon leading people back to the true light in this church. Now I understand where she is coming from. And part of me wanted to write back a very loving, but forthright, letter about truth. And even stir up a dialogue. But then I thought, how profitable would that be?
So I just read that, and the letter that I got a few years back saying, basically, the same thing that I should return. And I can only think that some of them think that I must hate the Catholic church. I don't hate them. I love them. My heart breaks for them. Who, like many of the Jewish religion, believe that their relationship to their church or with the Jews to their synagogue is enough. And that that merits their salvation. So I can relate a little bit to Paul and his sentiment here.
Now as we get into chapter 9, 10, and 11 there's something else you need to know. You know that Paul quotes the Old Testament a lot when he writes his letters in the New Testament. He was a rabbi. He knew the Old Testament. And in the book of Romans, he does this quite a bit. He will often appeal to Old Testament text. What's interesting is that half of Paul's quotes in the book of Romans from the Old Testament, half of them are in chapters 9, 10, and 11, dealing with the Jewish people. He knows his audience. And also what's interesting is 40% of those Old Testament quotes are taken from one prophet, the prophet Isaiah.
So in chapter 9, verse 1, "I tell the truth in Christ", even though we dipped into this we're going to go back, take it as a unit. "I tell the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit. That I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I, myself, were a curse from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh." Here, when Paul is speaking about Israel, he's speaking out about his spiritual brothers and sisters, but his brothers and sisters racially as Jewish people. He has sorrow in his heart. And he's going to explain that sorrow. But the fact that Paul says something that I don't know that I could say, he said, "I have great sorrow that I could wish that I, myself, were a curse from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh."
Now, this reminds me of somebody else in scripture, a guy by the name of Moses. Moses was up on Mount Sinai, received the Ten Commandments directly from God. He's walking down all excited to give the children of Israel the Ten Commandments. He looks down in the camp and sees them getting into a drunk, debauched state, dancing around a golden calf. He breaks the tablets on the ground. Symbolic of the fact that look, I haven't even given you the law, and you've already broken it.
Second Commandment, you will have no other gods or make no idols. First Commandment, no other gods before me, besides me. You've broken one and two, and I haven't even delivered them to you. God, in effect, says, Moses, stand aside. I'm just going to destroy them. I can raise you up to lead a different nation. We'll start from scratch. Moses stepped in, as an intercessor, and said Lord, forgive them. And if not, blot my name out of your book that you have written. Now that's a kind of a love that I don't relate to.
As I look around at my nation today, I don't think that I could say Lord, you can just take salvation away from me if you save my nation. I look at my nation, thinking, you know what? They kind of made their bed, let them sleep in it. They made their stupid choices, let them live with it. That isn't the heart of Paul. And that certainly isn't the heart of Jesus. And he said, I could wish that I, myself, were estranged apart from Christ if it brought salvation to my people. That's probably a very strong figure of speech. I don't think Paul really wished that he wouldn't be a saved person or that would do anything. But he is expressing a sentiment.
And he says, verse 4, "Who are Israelite's?" That is racially the Jewish nation. Who are Israelite's? Not spiritual Israel, literal Jewish people. "To whom pertain the adoption." The adoption is the fact that they were called the children of Israel. God said, you are my son, my firstborn. I chose you out of all the other nations in the earth. They had a special relationship as adopted, so to speak. God entered a covenant with them. Of all the people in the world, God chose them as his special nation. "To whom pertain the adoption."
Next on the list, the glory. I think the glory was a reference to the physical glory of God that was with the children of Israel while they were going from point A to point B, going from Egypt into the promised land. The presence of God was with them. Every time they would camp, every time they would move from the camp, there was a visible sign of the glory of God. The shekinah, the shekinah, glory of God.
So during the day, it was a cloud that hovered over the camp of Israel, over the Tabernacle proper. At night, it was a pillar of fire. So a built in nightlight for 40 years. This kind of warm glow at night outside your tent. You'd get up at night, you couldn't sleep, you go outside, and the sky would be glowing as a reminder that God is with you in your midst.
Then during the day, and I got to tell you, in the Sinai desert where you get, especially in the heat of the day in the summertime where it's like living in a tent in Phoenix in the summer, to have a cloud covering you in your encampment every day, that's pretty handy. It's pretty awesome. So it was something that rested over the Tabernacle and, later on, entered into the temple that Solomon built. But that was the glory of God visible as a reminder of his presence with the people. So the Israelite's, they're children of God in the Old Testament. The glory was committed to them.
The covenant is next on the list. God made a covenant with Abraham for the land. God made a covenant with Moses for the people. God made a covenant with David for the kingdom and the Messiah. The giving of the law is next on the list. God revealed himself through the scriptures, through the law, through the prophets. The law is the Torah. The initial meaning of that is the Ten Commandments. The broader meaning of that is the first five books of Moses. The full extent of that is the entire Old Testament scriptures, the Tanakh. God revealed himself through the scriptures to them.
Next is the service of God. That's something that means God provided a means of approach to him by the service of the priests in the Tabernacle and the temple, a sacrificial system, prayers that were offered, seasons of gathering and convocation during the year. All of that was the service through the tribe of Levi, through the priest and the high priest, so the God's people could approach him. And the promises, think of all the incredible promises God gave to the Jewish nation. He promised them land. He promised them a kingdom, something he has yet still to fulfill. He promised them a Messiah.
So he is listing the benefits that God has given to his nation, Paul a Jew, Hebrew of Hebrews. I belong to this nation. It's a special nation, God picked them. And then notice, verse 5, "Of whom are the fathers", Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, patriarchs, "and from whom, according to the flesh Christ came." So he's the pinnacle of all the promises God gave. He is the ultimate Revelation that God gave to the Jewish nation. Through the Jewish nation came the Jewish Messiah that we Gentiles are worshipping, are following.
It's important you realize Jesus was a Jewish man. Jesus wasn't a Christian. He didn't go to church. He went to synagogue. He was dedicated in the temple. He was bar mitzvahed as a son of the commandment. He said, I didn't come to destroy the law. I came to fulfill the law. "Of whom are the fathers from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came." And here's one of the strongest affirmations of the fact that Jesus Christ is God, the deity of Christ. Notice verse 5. "Of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came." Notice who "is over all the eternally blessed God, Amen."
Now, that is a perfect translation from the Greek language of that verse. He is the eternally blessed God, Amen. But "it is not that the word of God has taken no effect, for they are not all Israel who are of Israel. Nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham." But, quoting now scripture in Isaac, "your seed shall be called. That is, those who are the children of the flesh. These are not the children of God. But the children of the promise are counted as the seed." So you know how Paul is writing. He's writing in a diatribe form. He is posing a question as if he's sitting next to a dissenter, somebody who would disagree with him. And he is supposing what the disagreement might be.
And then, after he brings up the question, the issue, he then answers the question. "It is not that the word of God has taken no effect." Somebody might say, you talk about all the promises God made, since all of Israel did not believe in Jesus but the nation itself as a majority has rejected Jesus as the Messiah, does their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah mean that God's promises have failed? That's where we left off last week. We dealt with that question and then closed. And what we said is this. Rejection by the majority does not negate God's promise to the minority. There's always a few who do believe. There's always a remnant in the scripture. And he will hammer this through chapter 9, that there is a remnant who believe.
Here's what we need to understand about how God works. God gives not operate on the basis of human relation. It's not who you're related to. Well, my parents were believers. My grandparents were Christians. Good. God has no grandchildren. God only has children. Are you a child of God? So God gives not operate on that basis of human relation. God does not operate on the basis of human perfection. It's not what you do to earn it. It's not your good works. It's not like you meet a certain threshold, now, you've worked hard, and you've earned it. So now God sort of owes it to you. It doesn't work that way.
God operates on the basis not of human perfection nor of human relation, but of divine election. He makes a sovereign choice. And he cites the case of Ishmael, the firstborn of Abraham, and Isaac, the second born. Though, before Isaac was even born, God chose Isaac, not Ishmael. It was God's sovereign choice before birth. He was the son of promise. Even though Sarah said take my handmade, Hagar, I can't do this. I'm an old hen. I can't pull this off.
So let's help God out a little bit. You take my handmaiden, Hagar. You guys have a child. And we'll call that God's promise. The firstborn, that child was Ishmael. Later on, God gave them the son of promise, when Sarah became pregnant, and Isaac was born. That was the son of promise. And so it's interesting when you read, even the book of Genesis, where God, in Genesis 22, says to Abraham, take now your son, your only son Isaac. Wait a minute. Abraham said, he's not my only son. I've got a son who's years old, some say up to 30 years old. His name is Ishmael. But the son that God recognized as the only son was the son God had promised in advance, Isaac. Take now your son, your only son Isaac.
So that is those who are children of the flesh, verse 8. "These are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as seed. For this is the word of promise. At this time, I will come and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this, but when Rebecca also conceived by one man", that would be Isaac, "even by her Father, Isaac. For the children not yet being born nor having done any good or evil of that purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him who calls. It was said to her, the older shall serve the younger a it is written. Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated."
When Rebecca could not have children, she was unable to have kids. She was barren. Her husband, Isaac, prayed, which is a good thing for a husband to do. He prayed for his wife. And the Lord answered his prayer. Rebecca became with child. And she was having a difficult pregnancy. She didn't know why. And she complained to her husband. And she goes, well, if everything's all right with me, how come I'm having such a hard time in my pregnancy? And so the Lord spoke to her when they both prayed about it before the Lord. The Lord said two nations are in your womb. In other words, you're going to have twins. Two nations are in your womb. Two peoples will be separated from your body. And the older shall serve the younger.
Now, God said that before they were even born. God made the choice. God knowing what these two kids would be like, God has precognition. God knows all things in advance. God is omniscient, he knows all things. And part of omniscience is precognition, the ability to know things in advance. That's where prophecy comes from. God knows it all, so he predicts it. God knowing that to those two children, Esau, the first born, wouldn't care about spiritual things, wouldn't care about family name, wouldn't care about his heritage, could care less. Sold his birthright for a little bit of red chili stew.
But God also knew that Jacob would be interested in that blessing, would be interested in spiritual things. And so God made a choice in advance, having precognition, knowing all things, the older is going to serve the younger. Now, in both of these cases, you have God making a choice. And in both of these cases, it's not the first born. It's the second born that takes the blessing of the family, which was against all Semitic sensibilities. There was a law, not just among the Jews, but all Semitic peoples of ancient times, we would call it the law of primogeniture. Which means the first born gets the blessing. The first born takes the family inheritance. The first born is the priest of the family, et cetera. God broke that rule. He said, the older is going to serve the younger. The younger one is the one that I have chosen.
Now, he's going somewhere with this. We do, though, have to remark on verse 13 because this bothers a whole lot of people. "As it is written", now, he's quoting Malachi, not Genesis here. So this is the last book of the Old Testament. So these two kids have been born. They've had children. They've developed nations already by this time. So verse 13 says, "as it is written, Jacob I have loved. But Esau, I have hated."
Now, that does bother some people. It used to bother me a lot. How could God say that? Here's what you need to understand. He is not writing this. This prophecy is not about Jacob and Esau. But the descendants of Jacob and Esau who had developed into nations, the nation of Israel versus the nation of Edom, that hated the Jews, that fought against the Jews, that attacked the Jews, that rejoiced when the Jews went captive into Babylon.
So as God is writing about their descendants he says, "Jacob, I have loved. Esau, I have hated." He's speaking here about national election, national election. One day, a student of Charles Hadden Spurgeon's, in Spurgeon's pastors college, went up to him and he was grimacing in his face. And he said, Mr Spurgeon, I'm really having a problem with a passage out of Romans, chapter 9.
And he quoted this verse. "Jacob, I have loved. Esau I have hated." He said, I really am struggling with the fact that God said Esau, I have hated. And Spurgeon looked at him and said, you know, I too have had problems with that verse. Except my problem is a little bit different. I don't understand why it says Jacob, I have loved. That's what I'm having problems with. I know about Jacob. And the fact that God says, I really love Jacob, it's like man, I also have problems with this verse. Verse 12, "The older will serve the younger. The premise of that is in the previous verse, "that the purpose of God according to election might stand."
Now, the idea, the teaching, the doctrine of election, God sovereignly choosing people to be saved is one of the hardest teachings, doctrines, you will ever confront. I don't know if you've wrestled with it. Most thinking Christians have wrestled with it. It's a tough, hard principle. On one hand, we are told to make a choice to choose God. Choose this day whom you will serve. Whosoever will, let him come. Believe is the appeal, believe, receive. We're told to make a choice. On the other hand, we are told that God has already chosen. We are chosen in Christ for salvation before the foundation of the world. So we have a problem with that.
Now, I have not unraveled the mystery. I am not here to give the final answer so you'll walk away going, oh, good, I'm satisfied now. No matter what I say, no doubt, you and I will still wrestle with it. But both are true. Both principals operate at the same time. Now, I'll give you an example of how that works in an earthly level. The FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, that's the FAA? They have determined that on a certain date, at a certain time, of flight will leave New York City to London, England. It's in the books.
You can go on your computer, you can see that the plan has already been made. The departure time, the estimated arrival time, the coordinates, the route, it's all determined in advance. Yet, you can choose if you want to be aboard that plane or not. And all the people aboard that plane, they don't have to be there. It's not like somebody woke up and said, you have to go to England today. You have no choice. No, they've made a choice to buy a ticket. Not only that, you can choose what part of the plane you want to sit in.
If you've got money to burn, you want to sit in first class all the way to England, it's a nice ride. You have a little bit less, you might prefer business class. Your business may provide that for you. Or you want to save money and you get it well in advance, you get a economy class. And you can even choose if you want to sit on the aisle or you want a window seat. You're not going to choose a middle seat, but that could be chosen for you if you don't make the choice far enough in advance. But you have certain parameters of your own choice.
Then, you can choose, once you're aboard the flight, if you want to eat or not, listen to music or not, watch a movie or not, talk to people or not. You are operating within the parameters of human choice, even though you're on a predetermined flight. So you have both something predetermined and selected in advance, cooperating with your decision. So things like that happen all the time. When it comes to salvation, God has made a choice to pick you.
Now, you can get bummed out about that. You can wrestle with that. And I've seen people irate because of that. And my reaction to them is I don't know why you're upset about that. I'm thrilled at that. You know what that means? It means God chose me. I'm on the winning team. I don't go, I'm so bummed out God chose me in advance. Think how elated the disciples were when Jesus said to them one day, now, these disciples had chosen to follow Jesus. They had chosen to give up their nets, chosen to give up their fishing career, and follow him. And one day he turns to them and said, you didn't choose me.
I chose you, and ordained you that you should bring forth fruit. And that your fruit should remain. He not only said that I chose you before, but he guaranteed the success of their future ministry in those words. Boy, that's thrilling. So you walk up to a gate and the gate says, whosoever will, let them come. You go, well, that's interesting. I'm up for that. I'll choose to go in. You open the gate. You walk in. The gate closes behind you. You look back and the inside sign of the door you just voluntarily opened says chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world. And then you find a table with your name tag at it. And you go wow, I made the choice to come in. Yet it seems like I have been chosen to be here all along. It's a marvelous mystery.
It is a mystery, but both are true. You must choose. You are not drawn irresistibly to God. You have no choice in the matter. You do have a choice in the matter. But God chose you in advance. What shall we say then verse 14? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not. For he said to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy. And I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. So then it's not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, even for this purpose, I have raised you up. That I might show my power in you. That my name might be declared in all the earth. Therefore, he has mercy on whom he wills and whom he wills he hardens."
The next illustration Paul uses is Moses and Pharaoh. Two men, both sinners, both murderers, both had seen the marvels of God in their midst. One is saved, one is not. God chose Moses to lead his people. God chose his people to inherit a new land. Now, something I want you to notice. In verse 15, he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." He's quoting from Exodus 33. You need to understand the context of Exodus 33. As soon as the children of Israel we're dancing around that golden calf, which I just mentioned to you, and God said move aside. I'm going to wipe them out, destroy them, and start a whole new nation. Moses intervened and said, no.
After that, after Moses' prayer, God said, I will have mercy on whoever I will have mercy. I will have compassion whoever I will have compassion. In other words, I'm going to have compassion on these people. And if you know the story, a plague swept through. God stopped the plague. Instead of wiping all of them out, 3,000 died, but not all of them died. All of them deserved death because all of them were engaged in idol worship. But God was merciful to his people during that incident.
So I think Paul is bringing it up because somebody said, it's not fair that God should choose people to be saved and have compassion on one and not another. So he says, OK, so if you are having trouble and balking at the fact that God is merciful and compassionate, then you have to realize that God was merciful and compassionate to you. He should have destroyed all y'all, and he didn't. He had mercy on you. He was compassionate on you. Now what do you say? Well, I'm glad he did. Yeah, exactly.
So that is the incident that he uses as an example. Verse 17, "For the scripture says to Pharaoh, even for this purpose I have raised you up. That I might show my power in you. That my name might be declared on all the earth. Therefore, he has mercy on whom he wills and whom he wills he hardens." If you are familiar with the Book of Exodus, I'm just guessing that you are, we are told in that book that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Do you remember reading that? You read that and you go, that's horrible. So it's God's fault. No, because if you would have read from the beginning it says, Pharaoh hardened his own heart first.
There's about 20 instances in the Book of Exodus where it says that pharaoh's heart was hardened. About half the time, Pharaoh hardens his own heart. The other half, God hardens it. Two different words are used. One is a voluntary, I want nothing to do with God. I want nothing to do with his revelation. I'm going to do what I want to do. That's personal hardness. That's choice. And then it says, God hardened it. It's a different word. It means he affirmed it or he firmed up his heart. He firmed it. He made it firmer.
So here's the principle. Whatever choice you make, God will firm that choice up. If it's a choice for him, he will firm your heart. He'll harden your heart in your desire to be owned by him, controlled by him, submitted to him. He'll firm that up. If you harden against him, he'll harden your heart against him. He will, it's a bad analogy. It's like poker. I see your five. I raise you ten. I see your hardness. I raise you a little bit harder. I'm going to harden my heart. OK, I'm going to make it firm. I'm going to soften my heart and open it up to you. OK, I'm going to firm that decision.
So one is personal, your choice. The other a sovereign, God's choice. Both are true. "Therefore, he has mercy on whom he wills, and whom he wills he hardens. You will say to me then, why does he still find fault for who has resisted as will?" So if God is hardening my heart, then how can God charge me for having a hard heart? Even though we just explained how he can do that because Pharaoh hardened his heart first.
"But indeed, oh man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, why have you made me like this? Does not the potter have power over the clay from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show his wrath to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?"
Yeah, it says God firmed up or made hard the heart of Pharaoh. But think how long God was patient with that bonehead. Who is the Lord that I should obey him, he said. He was just so flagrantly in God's face as a rebel for a long time. God put up with him a long, long time. "That he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had prepared beforehand for glory. Even us, whom he called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles."
Now, back to this whole election thing. If people hear about that and they're not following Christ, they might, like the dissenter Paul uses, in an imaginary way, say something like, well, maybe God didn't choose me. What if God didn't choose me for salvation? How can he blame me then? How could he send me to hell since he didn't choose me? Well, that's an interesting objection. Because the Bible says whosoever will, let him come. Whoever wishes, let him drink of the water of life freely.
There's a lot of whomever's or whosoever's in the Bible. There's lots of appeal for you to make a choice. To change your future trajectory. So I would tell somebody who says maybe God didn't choose me, I'd say, well, maybe he didn't. But do you want to be saved? Do you want your sins forgiven? Do you want to spend eternity with God forever in heaven? I don't know. Do you want to commit your life to Christ? Do you want to right now, let's pray right now. You can repent right now. And everything can change for you. Your name can be written in God's book of life. You can be a forgiven sinner. You can walk out of here with joy.
I don't know. I don't think so. I don't want that. OK, your choice. Maybe God didn't choose you. Well, that's not fair. Well, then if it's not fair, I can prove that God chose you. Turn your life over to Christ. Choose him and you will discover, like the disciples who chose to follow Jesus, you didn't choose him. He chose you. No, I don't want that. Maybe you're right, maybe God didn't choose you. But you can't use that as an excuse when God says whoever will, let him come. So come, do something about it. Make a choice. Do it tonight. Don't let another day go by apart from Christ. But you can't stand before God, if you think you'll be able to stand before God and say not fair, Paul sort of brings it down to this answer and says, who are you to say to the potter? You're a lump of clay. Who are you to say to the potter not fair?
Remember when God told Jeremiah, he said, Jeremiah go down to the house of the potter and watch the potter work on his wheel. And I will reveal my word to you there. So he goes down, he sees the potter working on a jar of some kind, some kind of a vessel, and he goes, as I was watching the potter, the vessel was marred in the potter's hands. So the potter, rather than throwing the clay and discarding it, he reshaped it, reformed it because it was marred, and shaped it into something different.
Now that's a picture of the mercy and compassion of God. Because what causes a clay pot to be marred? A lump. It's hardened. It's stiffened. There's a lump in it. And so when the wheel is turning around and he puts his thumb or hand on it to shape it, that lump will dig out and leave a scar. It'll be marred. Now the potter could say, this stupid bunch of clay, and toss it away. But clay costs money and takes time to act. So he just will add water, resoften it, work out that stiffness, make it malleable, and shape something he wants to. God says, this is like the children of Israel. Instead of discarding the nation, he'll reshape the nation. He'll rework the nation.
So think of God's, every flaw that you had he goes, I'm done with you, forget you, get out of here. You're not going to heaven. Like Santa Claus, having a list, checking it twice. Aren't you glad that he is patient enough to be merciful and gracious. And though you are marred, he reshapes and reworks for his glory. As he says, verse 25, also in Hosea, "I will call them my people, who were not my people and her beloved, who was not beloved."
Now, you remember the book of Hosea, right? Hosea married a wife by the name of Gomer. Not a great name, not a great wife. She was a prostitute. God said, go down and marry a prostitute. And so they got married. They had a few kids. First born boy was named Jezreel. Second born daughter was Lo-Ruhama. And then he said the third born son, when the third born son was born, the name was given to him, Lo-Ammi, which means not mine or not my people.
And God was working out an analogy through the life of Hosea, the prophet, of how he dealt with the people of Israel. So here you have a prophet and God says, OK, I've got a tough assignment for you, dude. Marry a prostitute, knowing that she's going to go out on you after you have kids in the marriage. She's going to leave the marriage and go back to prostitution. And when she does that, here you are at home with the kids. Your wife has left you and gone to be a prostitute again. Go take money with you to the house of prostitution and buy her back to you again. Well, that's a tough assignment. I don't want to be a prophet and do that. I don't want that job. That was Hosea's life. And Hosea was demonstrating that that's what God would do with his people Israel. And in the place where it was said, you are not my people, the book of Isaiah said, you shall be called ahme, my people, mine, you belong to me.
So that's a summary of that book. So he quotes that. "I will call them my people." And he says that regarding Jew and Gentile, according to verse 24. "And her beloved, who was not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them you are not my people, they will be called sons of the living God." So he cites Hosea, the prophet. Now, he cites Isaiah, the prophet, Isaiah chapter 10. Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel. "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved." There's that principle again. "Rejection by the majority does not negate God's promise to the minority." A few people will be saved. A remnant will be saved. Some will believe. "So although the number of the children of Israel will be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. For he will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth."
Now, I can't be sure, but in part, Paul may have been looking also to the future. Even if he wasn't, John certainly had the advantage of writing about the future in the book of Revelation. In the book of Revelation, you have a remnant of Jewish people who are sealed in the tribulation period. There are 15 million Jews right now on the earth. A very small remnant, 144,000, of them, according to the book of Revelation, will be sealed and protected during that time of future judgment upon the earth. A remnant, a small group. That's always a remnant.
Verse 29, "And as Isaiah said before, unless the Lord of Sahbalt had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom. We would have been made like Gomorrah. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness even the righteousness of faith." Sort of like the second born. In the law of primogeniture, the second born isn't the one chosen. But in Isaac's case and in Jacob's case, it was. We shouldn't have been chosen, but we are. God made us his people.
"We've attained righteousness of faith. But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith. But as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone as it is written. Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone, a rock of a fence, and whoever believes on him will not be put to shame."
Now if you're wondering, what on earth does that all mean, what he just said? Israel pursuing the law of righteousness, hasn't attained to righteousness. OK, he explains that. I'm glad you asked that. Verse 1, chapter 10, "Brethren my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. But I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they", here's the answer. "For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God."
There are two religions in the world. You say, Skip, you need a math class. There are far more religions than two. No, If you boil all belief systems down, you have only two approaches to God. Two religions in all the world. The first is the religion of human achievement. The second is the approach or, you might call it, the religion of divine accomplishment. Most all religions in the world fall in the first category. You are saved by something you do. OK, God opened the door, but you earn your salvation. You achieve certain things. The Jews had a system of righteousness, a system of sacrifices. They would pray. They would pray three times a day. They would fast a few times a week. They would tithe. And all of that was a means by which they were earning favor with God.
Jesus even gave a parable of that. Luke, chapter 18, he said two men went up to the temple to pray, one a pharace, the other a tax collector. The pharace stood and prayed, thus with himself. Lord, I thank you that I am not like other men, unjust, extortioners, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I possess. He is boasting of what he had done. And so whenever you have a righteousness that you concoct, or conduct, or perform by yourself, that is, by definition, self-righteousness. A self-righteous person is a person who is righteous by him or herself. They've done things. They've earned things.
But then, there's the only approach that God will receive, and that is divine accomplishment. It's where you come and you say, nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling. You realize, I can't save myself. I can't add to my salvation. I can't earn my salvation. It's only by the grace of God. It's a gift that I received. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but he gives a grace. He's willing to give you salvation if you just believe in him. It's not faith plus continued faithful membership in a certain church. It's faith plus nothing. No, it's faith plus baptism. No, it's not. Because if it's faith plus baptism, now it's faith plus a work that you have performed, your work of baptism.
When Jesus was on the cross and he said to the thief next to him who evidently believed in him, made some kind of utterance of belief, Jesus said, today, you will be with me in paradise. He didn't say, buddy boy, once you've been baptized and establish membership in a local church, proving yourself faithful, then and only then will you be with me in paradise. First of all, the man's on a cross, he's going to be dying soon. He can't do anything at all. And he really didn't need to do anything at all. Jesus was doing it all for him. The cross was at all. He did it all. And so that simple act of faith, that simple utterance of faith, today, you will be with me in paradise. But, "They being ignorant of God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God." We need to look at the next verse as we close. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." It's over.
The covenant of the law, the covenant under Moses, it's over. It ran its course. It's done. God promised, through the Prophet Jeremiah, behold, I will establish a New Covenant, in chapter 31 of that book, a New Covenant with the House of Israel. Not like the old one, I'll write my law in their hearts. It'll be a covenant of faith, not of works, not of sacrifices, not praying, or fasting, or tithing, but just believing in Jesus. Now, we have a moment, so I'll dip back into verse 2. And next time we're together I'll just take all of chapter 10. I did have the intention of going through chapter 10 tonight. But you're not surprised that we didn't make it. No, I'll save those remarks for next week because our time really is up.
Father, thank you for what you have given. It couldn't have been given unless Jesus had given it all 2,000 years ago on a cross. That act, that event is so monumental. So unique in time and space that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. If we confess with our mouth, if we believe in our heart, that God raised Jesus from the dead, as Paul said in chapter 10, we will be saved. Lord, we can't be righteous by ourself because there's not enough we could ever do. There's not enough righteousness we could ever produce. There's not enough goodness we could ever manufacture. If we spent 24 hours a day, seven days a week our entire life being perfect, still wouldn't be enough to merit being in your Holy perfect presence. But you've made a way where there is no way. And by your sovereign choice, you have elected us. And we chose to cooperate with your choice of us. And so we don't rebuff or have a hard time with it. We rejoice. We're so stoked that you picked us. We're your kids. We're part of the Covenant. We've been adopted, sons and daughters. Were in the family. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.