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Perplexities of the GospelThe Practice of the Gospels
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Part Two

An Expository Study of Romans

Chapters 9 through 14

INTRODUCTION:

Christianity Through the Epistles of Paul

The apostle Paul, called and trained by Jesus Christ as apostle to the Gentiles, was the very one responsible for the spreading of Christianity to the world outside Judaism. What started out in the eyes of the Rabbis as an offshoot sect of Judaism, the sect of the Nazarenes, ended up as a major world religion—-Christianity.

The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, was almost solely responsible for this mushroom type growth in Christianity through his teaching, both verbal and his letters. Without those precious letters we would know very little or nothing of this man’s greatness as a Christian leader and teacher. Countless Christian revivals down through the centuries owe their very existence and success to the epistles of Paul, which had their beginnings in people being transformed –spiritually set afire—by the Holy Spirit as a direct result of reading Paul’s epistles, particularly the book of Romans. Do you wish to be spiritually transformed, enlivened? Do you wish to transform your congregation—making your membership become spiritually alive—vibrant, radiant Christians? Then read this series of expository studies about the apostle Paul’s letters, and then apply them, to yourself, and to your congregation. Then watch the growth!

Chapters 9,10 & 11:

The Perplexities of The Gospel,

What About Israel? Why Are Some
People Saved and Some Are Not?

ROMANS 9

Romans 9:1-5. "I speak the truth in Christ--I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit--I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."

Abraham took the very same unselfish attitude toward Lot and also the sinful inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was not concerned for himself but for others who were less deserving. Genesis 13:5-12. "Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. So Abram said to Lot, 'Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left.' Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom."

Abram was content to let Lot choose, and Lot chose what appeared to be the more fertile ground, leaving Abram with the rough hill country of Canaan. In Genesis 14 Abram risks life and limb to rescue Lot and all his possessions by taking on an invading Assyrian army at night. In Genesis 18 Abram actually argued with the Lord in an attempt to save the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction. Do you ever get tired of serving those who don't return your love? Moses did. But what was Moses overall attitude toward those who constantly resisted his leadership under the Lord? In Exodus 32 we find Moses up on the Mountain of God for forty days. The children of Israel, impatient as ever, started worshipping a golden calf and reveling in a wild orgy. Moses came back in the middle of all this, so angry that he smashed the two tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them. God was angry too. But Moses pleaded for their forgiveness. Moses' plea to the Lord can be found in verses 31-32, which states, "So Moses went back to the Lord and said, 'Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin--but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."

Another one of God's servants exemplifying this unselfish attitude was Nehemiah. Nehemiah 1:1-5. "The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some men, and I questioned him about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, 'Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.' When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." Nehemiah is a cup bearer to the king [of the Persian Empire], a pretty plush job. He was willing to give all this up. His attitude can be seen in his prayer to God found in Nehemiah 1:5-11. Nehemiah interceded for others. Nehemiah 1:5-11. "Then I said: 'O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.' They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your mighty hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man [the king of the Persian Empire].' I was cupbearer to the king."

Paul's life was one long journey, going from community to community, country to country, sharing the gospel and wonder of God's love for mankind. His attitude for the Jews who wanted him dead can be seen in Romans 9:1-5. Understand the depth of love Abram, Moses, Nehemiah and Paul had for people who were not necessarily deserving of it. Jesus died on the Cross for this evil world, not to condemn it, but to save it. All these people, Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, and all the Prophets and David, had the heart of God in them. Paul had this same heart in him. If you're tired or complacent you don't have God in your heart [the way He needs to be].

Romans 9:6-18. "It is not as if God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, 'It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.' [Gen. 21:12] In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: 'At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son. Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls--she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' What shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'

It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'I raised you up for this purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.' Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."

Vs.6: The name Israel Paul is using in verse 6 means governed by God in Hebrew. Paul is saying that not all Israel is Israel. i.e. Not all Israel is governed by God. Not everyone who is called a Christian is a Christian [Matthew 7:21-23; Mark 7:6-8].

Vs. 14: How is verse 14 unfair? How can God hate Esau. Because God knows the future. He knew Esau would live for the flesh. He has perfect foreknowledge. God's answer, verse 15, is "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy."

Vs. 16-18: The first ten times Pharaoh hardened his own heart by the way the Hebrew reads in Exodus. Then the eleventh time the Hebrew translation indicates that God set and made permanent that hardening.

Romans 9:19-29. "One of you will say to me: 'Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will? [sort of a Calvinist approach in this question, isn't it? i.e. It's all cut in stone anyway, so why try. Paul's answer to this logic follows] But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? 'Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory--even us, who he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," and "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality [Isaiah 10:22-23]." It is just as Isaiah said previously: "Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have been like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah. [Isaiah 1:9]."

The lesson here: God is very Sovereign, but is also of great love and mercy.

Romans 9:30-33. "What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they persued it not by faith but as it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame [Isaiah 8:14; 28:16]."

That was the conclusion to Romans 9. It is by faith, not works of obedience to the law without faith, that saves us. And that faith is the faith of Christ in us and not our own human faith.

 

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