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Showing posts from November, 2019

Romans 9:22-23: What If God, Desiring To Show His Wrath And To Make Known His Power, Has Endured With Much Patience Vessels Of Wrath

Romans 9:22–23 [22] 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, [23] in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— (ESV) Let's go back to the illustration of a potter and his clay. My experience with pottery was very short lived. I did make a few items that survived the kiln's heat. I had a few that did not survive the heat. Regardless of the outcome it was my right to make whatever I wanted with the clay and to determine how it would come out. This is the case in a much grander scale with God. Consider that God has perfect character. I do not. God's purpose with the clay is as a master potter. He is perfect in all that he does. Paul brings up the rhetorical question concerning God's patience with vessels that he knows are not going to survive the fiery kiln. Why does God create vessels of wrath?

Romans 9:21: Has The Potter No Right Over The Clay?

Romans 9:21 [21] 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? (ESV) I remember when I was in middle school. In art class we were able to make things out of clay. I was so excited. I had never used clay before and I wanted to make something that I could be proud of. At that time I was in love with peregrine falcons. So, I crafted a peregrine falcon out of a piece of clay. I shaped it from a lump to a very smart looking bird. I remember the teacher reminding all of us that it was very important to get all of the air bubbles out of the clay because after we were finished shaping our clay projects they would be going into the kiln. The kiln was hundreds of degrees. If there were air bubbles still in the clay the project we had worked so hard on would be destroyed. I want to tell you that my peregrine falcon survived the kiln. It did not. I say all of that to say this. God is the master creator.

Romans 9:19-20: You Will Say To Me Then, "Why Does He Still Find Fault? For Who Can Resist His Will?"

Romans 9:19–20 [19] You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” [20] But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (ESV) This passage of Scripture is one of the most difficult for us to grasp. The context for this verse is the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. Paul knows that his readers will have a logical question to the fact that God divinely chooses who he will have mercy on and who he will not have mercy on. If we were not given mercy by God how can he hold us accountable for our sin? First of all, this is a very valid question. It is one that has caused people much consternation. One of the biggest challenges for us is that many of us have an inadequate view of God. We do not view him as completely sovereign. We insist on things being determined by us. We attempt to direct things and then expect God to fall into line with our will. God does not work that way

Romans 9:18: So Then He Has Mercy On Whomever He Wills, And He Hardens Whomever He Wills.

Romans 9:18 [18] So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (ESV) Moses and Pharaoh. What do they have in common? Have you ever stopped to consider that question? They both had evil hearts. They were both murderers. You may remember that Pharaoh ordered all Jewish babies to be killed. Moses was spared. Moses as a young adult saw one of his fellow Hebrew slaves being beaten by an Egyptian and Moses murdered the Egyptian. Let that reality sink in for just a moment. We love to paint our biblical heroes with perfect colors. We eliminate the flaws and celebrate how wonderful they were. We forget that all of mankind is born in sin with a propensity to do more sin. Moses was no different. Neither are you. Moses and Pharaoh had a sinful heart in common. What set Moses and Pharaoh apart? God chose to have mercy on Moses. God hardened Pharaoh. This is a very difficult concept for us to grasp so let's break it down a bit. At first glance it seems th

Romans 9:17: For The Scripture Says To Pharaoh, "For This Very Purpose I Have Raised You Up"

Romans 9:17 [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.” (ESV) Go back to your Bible stories that you heard when you grew up in Sunday School. Do you remember Moses going to the Pharaoh and saying, "Let my people go!" Perhaps, you hear Charlton Heston's voice saying those words from the great movie, "The Ten Commandments." Paul is going back to this story for us in our verse today. The Pharaoh was the ruler of all Egypt. Egypt was a great empire that ruled much of the known world. The Pharaoh was one of the greatest rulers of the world. Like many who have assumed great positions of power he needed to be reminded that he did not get there on his own. Paul quotes Exodus 9:16 where Moses declares God's words to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up." What Paul wants us to see here is the sovereign

Romans 9:16: So Then It Depends Not On Human Will Or Exertion, But On God, Who Has Mercy

Romans 9:16 [16] So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (ESV) I love hearing people tell of how God brought them to faith in Jesus Christ. Some Christians tell of how their life was full of self-destruction and reckless living. There is no earthly reason why they should even be alive, and yet they were radically transformed by the power of God. People who have dramatic testimonies often describe how God protected, guided, and drew them to himself. There is no question that God graciously chooses people to belong to him. It is out of his great love that he is willing to save any. What is this gracious choosing of God based upon? Many would argue that God sees our reaching for him and responds to our act of the will and then chooses us to belong to the Kingdom of God. Paul seems to be saying something quite different in this verse. Paul says that it (God's gracious choosing of people for salvation) does not depend on human will or exert

Romans 9:14-15: "Is There Injustice On God's Part? By No Means!"

Romans 9:14–15 [14] What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! [15] For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (ESV) One of the greatest complaints against God is that he is unjust. This complaint is usually offered by those who live in rebellion to God's sovereign rule. They look at how he has mercy on some and not others and they assume he is being partial or unjust. Paul even assumed that some of his readers in his day would level that accusation. He is prepared to address the issue. Paul offers a rhetorical question: "Is there injustice on God's part?" The answer is an emphatic "No!" Those who would complain about God's justice are thinking that the offer of mercy should be determined by man and his own efforts. The reality is that God is very much in control of who he is offering mercy to. To the Jews who would insist that God's m

Romans 9:12-13: She Was Told, "The Older Will Serve The Younger."

Romans 9:12–13 [12] she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” [13] As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (ESV) In the Old Testament the natural course of things was that the oldest child was given the birthright. This meant that when the father passed away the oldest child received special privileges. They became the priest of the family. They were given a double portion of any inheritance. As Rebekah had two children in her womb she knew that the first born would have the birthright. Before her children were born, Rebekah was told that the birthright was going to go to the younger child. As we read the narrative account in Genesis we find that Rebekah took matters into her own hands and helped Jacob to deceive his father and in a sense steal the birthright from Esau. However, we also read that Esau himself despised his birthright and sold it to Jacob for some pork and beans. From these two men we have two nations. The nation of Israel is, of course, ma

Romans 9:10-11: In Order That God's Purpose Of Election Might Continue, Not Because Of Works

Romans 9:10–11 [10] And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, [11] though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— (ESV) Let's go back in history once again and try to discover what God intended to accomplish in bringing the promise of redemption to mankind through the nation of Israel. We have established that God called Abraham and promised that all nations of the earth would be blessed through him. He was promised a son, Isaac, who was given to him in his old age. Isaac, the son of Abraham had two children. They were twins, Jacob and Esau. Which one would God choose to continue his promise through? God chose Jacob. We could assume that God knew what kind of man Jacob would become because as God he knows all things, and so he chose Jacob over Esau based on his knowledge of Jacob's fut

Romans 9:9: For This Is What The Promise Said: "About This Time Next Year I Will Return, And Sarah Shall Have A Son."

Romans 9:9 [9] For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” (ESV) We can read this verse and wonder, what is so special about the promise that Sarah would have a son. Sarah was barren. She was in her nineties. The timing seemed to be too incredible to even believe. The name Isaac literally means "laughter." This is due to the fact that Sarah laughed when she heard the promise of God that she would become a mother. Consider the parallel here. The promise of a child who would come and bring salvation to the world was given to the people of Israel. All of the prophets spoke of the Christ who would come, the Messiah. Sarah did not truly believe that the promise of God would come about. She laughed. Many Jews did not believe that the promise of God would come about either. Abraham was told of the specific time that God had established that Sarah would have a son. This promise was completely of God and God was t

Romans 9:7-8: Not All Are Children Of Abraham Because They Are His Offspring

Romans 9:7–8 [7] and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” [8] This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. (ESV) The Jews were very proud people. They had much to be proud of. As Paul has made very clear the Jewish heritage included the very profound promises of God. The giving of the law, worship, and the covenants were all part of their wonderful history. The Jews viewed Abraham as their "father." It was Abraham whom God called and made a people of to bring redemption to the world. Paul is making the point here that just being a physical descendant of Abraham does not at all make you a Jew in the sense of being a child of God. You can be a Jew in the physical sense only, and that does not mean that you are a recipient of the promises of God. The children of the promise are those who belong to God.

Romans 9:6: But It Is Not As Though The Word Of God Has Failed.

Romans 9:6 [6] But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, (ESV) I love how Paul starts this verse. It is not as though the word of God has failed. There is a principle here that we need to hold on to in every situation of life. The word of God has never failed. The word of God never will fail. Our understanding is clouded by our finite understanding. The way that we see things is not always accurate. If our perception differs from what God's Word has said, we are wrong. Paul is looking at the plight of many of his fellow Jews. It would be easy to see the rampant unbelief and rejection of their own Messiah and assume that God must have failed in what he said in His Word. That would be a human and natural perception. It would also be a wrong perception. The word of God has not failed. In verse 4 and 5 Paul lists the great benefits and promises that God gave to the people of Israel. He  speaks of: "the

Romans 9:5: To Them Belong The Patriarchs, And From Their Race, According To The Flesh, Is The Christ

Romans 9:5 [5] To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (ESV) Paul loved his heritage. As we have seen, it crushes the heart of Paul to consider that many of his own people will spend eternity in hell because of their rejection of the Messiah who came to set them free. Paul's love for the unbelieving Jews is such that if he could save them himself by choosing to go to hell in their place he would be willing. In this verse Paul continues to expound on the blessed heritage of the Jewish people. To them belong the patriarchs. When you read of the patriarchs in Scripture it is referring to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God chose Abraham to build a whole nation of people who would be used by God to bring salvation to the whole world. How would God bring salvation? God would bring salvation through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Paul makes a point here to note that Jesus came from the race of

Romans 9:4: They Are Israelites, And To Them Belong . . .

Romans 9:4 [4] They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. (ESV) Paul loved Jesus. He also loved his Jewish heritage. It pained the Apostle that his brothers and sisters would reject the truth of Christ who was the fulfillment of all that the Jews had believed and longed for. As we saw in the previous verse Paul's love was so intense for his Jewish brothers that he would rather be damned to hell if it would mean the salvation of the Jewish people. That is intense. In this verse he lists some of the glorious history and benefits of the Jewish faith. The Jews were adopted as a whole nation by God. He cared for them and protected them as his very own children. He revealed his glory to them. In his leading them across the desert they saw God's glorious presence in the cloud leading them by day and the pillar of fire protecting them by night. Consider the covenants. Covenants are prom

Romans 9:3: For I Could Wish That I Myself Were Accursed And Cut Off From Christ For The Sake Of My Brothers

Romans 9:3 [3] For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (ESV) There are many titles that could be given to the Apostle Paul. He was an apostle. He was called to lead in the church in great ways. He was a teacher. The church's doctrine is influenced greatly by the writings of Paul. Paul was used by God to perform many miracles, even raising people from the dead. Paul was a church planter, extraordinaire. He was a martyr. Paul was all these things. When you look at how effective Paul was in being a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ you have to ask, "What made Paul so effective?" I think we find the answer in this very sobering verse. Paul is describing how he feels about his own people, the Jews, and the tragedy of their unbelief. If Paul could guarantee that all of the Jews would be saved by his being cut off from the love of Christ he would do it. He would rather spe

Romans 9:1-2: I Have Great Sorrow And Unceasing Anguish In My Heart

Romans 9:1–2 [1] I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—[2] that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. (ESV) As we begin to look at Chapter 9 of the Book of Romans we approach it with sobriety. This is a chapter that has caused many people to be confused. The overall theme of this Chapter is the unbelief of the people of Israel. As Paul has made clear in the previous 8 chapters of Romans salvation is by grace through faith. Works of the Law will save no one. In this part of Paul's letter to the church at Rome he is very vulnerable. He talks about great sorrow that he has and unceasing anguish in his heart. Lest one were to question just how sincere he was in speaking of his sorrow he prefaces that remark by saying that he is speaking the truth in Christ. He is not lying. His conscience bears witness in the Holy Spirit. This is serious what Paul is talking about. Before we look in greater detail

Romans 8:38-39: For I Am Sure That Nothing . . . Will Be Able To Separate Us From The Love Of God

Romans 8:38–39 [38] For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, [39] nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV) We are fickle creatures. We, who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, still struggle with having total confidence in our walk with the Lord. Remember John the Baptist once questioned if Jesus was still the Messiah or should he expect another? Peter walked on water, but then doubted. We are often in need of reassurance. I love how Paul starts these last two verses of Chapter 8. "For I am sure." Paul is trying to reassure those who might be inclined to waver in their confidence that God loves them. In this grand list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God Paul wants his readers, and you and I, to understand that we can be sure of God's love! I have always been confident i

Romans 8:37: No, In All These Things We Are More Than Conquerors

Romans 8:37 [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (ESV) Do you feel like a conqueror? For so many people just getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge. In our world we are going to deal with all kinds of discouragement. We have relationships that challenge us. We have times where we battle sickness, loss, and various kinds of discomfort. It can truly be hard to feel like a conqueror. Paul says, "In all these things we are more than conquerors." The question you should be asking is, "What are all the things Paul is talking about?" Paul is referring to the list of things he raised in verse 35: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword. We are conquerors over all these things. Now, it is important to recognize how we are conquerors over these things. We are not conquerors because in ourselves we are so strong and valiant. In our own strength we are too weak to accomplish anyth

Romans 8:36: As It Is Written, "For Your Sake We Are Being Killed All The Day Long"

Romans 8:36 [36] As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” (ESV) If someone were to offer the opportunity to have a relationship with a God who loves you would you be interested in the idea of "being killed all the day long?" How about "being regarded as sheep to be slaughtered?" Most people who have heard the Gospel preached are only told about the value of being in eternity with God in Heaven. Rarely are they told about the hardship before Heaven. Why would the Apostle Paul reference an ancient verse of Scripture in describing our relationship with God? He is actually referring to Psalm 44:22. He just gave a biographical description of all the things that he had personally encountered that could not separate him from the love of Jesus Christ. These included tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword. I believe that Paul is helping us to get a balanced

Romans 8:35: Who Shall Separate Us From The Love Of Christ?

Romans 8:35 [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (ESV) There is no greater love than the love of Christ. It was this very love that looked at us in our sinful condition and made the greatest sacrifice in all of history. We were all rebels against God's perfect holy standard. We were lost and unable to please God. The love of Christ reached out to us and provided the means of our forgiveness, salvation, and justification. If you consider how great the love of Christ is it would be natural for our greatest fear to be separation from that love. How terrible it would be to have been radically transformed by the love of Christ into a new creation only to become separated from that same love. Is that possible? Paul raises that rhetorical question in this verse. When you read this list of possible things to separate us from the love of Christ can you imagine someone who m

Romans 8:33-34: Who Shall Bring Any Charge Against God's Elect?

Romans 8:33–34 [33] Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. [34] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (ESV) This verse causes us to picture a court room scene. We are accused of being sinners. We are in violation of God's Law. This could be terrifying. However, we have an advantage in this situation. We are already declared innocent by the judge. God the Father has sent his son to pay the penalty for all of the sins that we are accused of. Verdict? Not guilty. Let's consider who would actually bring the charges against believers in Jesus Christ. At the time that Paul wrote this letter to the church at Rome the likely people to bring accusation would have been the Jews. Many of the Jews had spent their lives painfully trying to keep the Law. The idea that Gentiles could jump in front of them and be declared innocent before

Romans 8:32: He Who Did Not Spare His Own Son But Gave Him Up For Us All

Romans 8:32 [32] He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (ESV) The love of God, our Heavenly Father, is beyond extravagant. As Paul has made clear in the opening chapters of the book of Romans every inclination of man's heart was pure rebellion to God. What is God's response? Instead of obliterating us off the face of the planet He provides his own son as a sacrifice for our sins. We were completely undeserving. He was completely loving. The context of this verse is in the midst of a discussion of the righteousness of God that we have received as a free gift. We are no longer bound to the Law which we could never fulfill. Christ not only forgives our sin, but he also fulfilled the entire Law for us by living out a perfect life. Everything we need he has given. Now that we understand the context it will help us to understand the rest of this verse. "How will he not also with him grac

Romans 8:31: What Then Shall We Say To These Things?

Romans 8:31 [31] What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (ESV) There is always some people who hear the promises of God and have questions or misunderstandings. The same would have been true when the first readers of Paul's epistle to the church at Rome heard his description of salvation through grace. Paul closes out this particular section of his letter by saying, "What then shall we say to these things?" What shall we say? There has likely been some questions stirred up by what people had read so far. The idea for a first century Jew to believe that all of their sin could be forgiven without any works being required would have been scandalous. If such a forgiveness could be forgiven could it be later lost? These are the kinds of questions that the next few verses will address. Let's also consider the misunderstandings that inevitably come from the declaration of the beautiful promises of God. "If God is for us

Romans 8:30: And Those Whom He Predestined He Also Called

Romans 8:30 [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV) In the previous verse we looked at the fact that God predestined us. Our discussion focused on foreknowledge. Unlike what many believe concerning this doctrinal truth foreknowledge does not mean that God makes a decision based upon our choice that he knows in the future. Rather, he chooses to set his love and affection on someone and "know" them long before they are born. Ephesians will help us to understand more completely what predestination is based on. Ephesians 1:5 tells us: "He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will." What is the basis of foreknowledge and predestination? The purpose of his will. God's will is the basis of predestination. Can we understand that completely? No. But it is still true. Now, Paul tells us the pr

Romans 8:29: For Those Whom He Foreknew He Also Predestined

Romans 8:29 [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (ESV) There are those who will read this verse and get fixated on the word, "predestination." In fact, the study of this biblical truth has been the cause of many a theological debate. I have heard some say, "I do not believe in predestination." To which I respond, "That is a heretical statement." It is one thing to disagree about what predestination means. But to disbelieve it entirely is to reject Scripture. In fairness, what people mean when they say they do not believe in predestination is that they do not agree with a particular viewpoint concerning predestination. At the heart of the debate is not whether or not we are predestined, but rather what is the basis of our predestination. Is it based upon God foreknowing our future choice of him? Or is it based on God's sovereign w

Romans 8:28: And We Know That For Those Who Love God All Things Work Together For Good

Romans 8:28 [28] And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV) This verse is probably in the top ten list of verses of Scripture that are taken out of context. People love the phrase that "all things work together for good." This wonderful phrase has to be understood in the context of the rest of the words around it. Many people claim that if they are Christians everything is supposed to go the way they want it, after all, things are to work together for good.. Let's look a little more closely at this verse. First of all, the verse is talking about those who love God. Those who love God are people who want God's will to be done, not their own. People who love God are those who live for God's glory, not their own glory. So, the first thing we need to understand is that this verse is only talking about those who desire God's glory, not selfish seekers of their own glory

Romans 8:27: And He Who Searches Hearts Knows What Is The Mind Of The Spirit

Romans 8:27 [27] And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (ESV) We tend to be very private people. In many respects we are too private. We think that somehow we can get away with things because no one is watching. What we fail to realize is that God the Father is always watching. It is our Heavenly Father whom the Apostle Paul is referencing when he says, "He who searches hearts." Consider the words found in 1 Chronicles 28:9: "And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. (ESV) The Lord searches all hearts. and he knows what is the mind of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who is actively interceding for us before the Father. Co

Romans 8:26: Likewise The Spirit Helps Us In Our Weakness.

Romans 8:26 [26] Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (ESV) Did you ever want to help someone so badly it almost hurt? In this passage of Scripture Paul has been talking about the idea of groaning. The Creation is groaning in anticipation of the revealing of the sons of God. We ourselves are groaning in anticipation of what God has in store for us. Now, Paul tells us that the Spirit of God groans in intercession for us. Imagine that the Holy Spirit of God wants to help us so badly that his intercession is an intense action that expresses itself in groaning too deep for words. It is easy for us to get so caught up in the stress of life that we think no one truly cares about our struggles. God does. His Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. He is groaning for our benefit. This intercession on our behalf is so important. As Paul says, we will find

Romans 8:25: But If We Hope For What We Do Not See, We Wait For It With Patience

Romans 8:25 [25] But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (ESV) I love Christmas. I remember being a small child waiting for Christmas to come. Somewhere in November the three big department store Christmas catalogs would come out. I would page through the J.C. Penney, Sears, and Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogs, pausing to tell my parents what particular toy I could not live without. From the time those catalogs arrived until Christmas morning seemed like an eternity. There would be special parties at school. There were Christmas programs both at school and church, but they all just seemed to taunt me that it was almost Christmas, but not yet! I hoped for Christmas, but I did not see it yet. We hope for what we do not see. We know what it will be like. We have read the catalog. Scripture describes for us something far better than toys under a tree. We are told of a place where there will be no more suffering. There will be no more sin. The great