May 19, 2013
The Book of Romans
Is there Unrighteousness with God?
V 14, What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. In chapter eight Paul established that God has a purpose for believers, nothing can prevent God’s purpose from being fulfilled, no one can separate God’s people from His love. But what about the promises and covenants God has made with the Jewish people? God had a purpose for Israel and God said that he loved Israel. Paul’s arguments are important; the very character of God is at stake because Israel appears to be excluded from God’s program.
Paul defended the character of God by showing that Israel’s past history actually magnified God’s attributes of faithfulness, righteousness, justice, and grace. Paul’s arguments support the belief that Divine sovereignty and human responsibility both come from God and are a part of God’s plan. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility do not compete but cooperate with each other.
Notice the series of questions asked by Paul in this chapter. V 14, What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. Verses 19-24, Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? V 24, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? V 30, What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. V 32, Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.
Also notice some of the hard sayings found in the text. V 13, As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Vs 15-16, For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
I. God’s Faithfulness, Vs 1-13
- Vs 1-3, I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Paul’s heart was heavy with sorrow for the lost people of Israel. Like Moses, Paul was willing to be cursed and separated from Christ if it would mean the salvation of Israel. Exodus 32:30-32, And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. Paul was sincere but the gesture was impossible. Romans 8:35, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
- Vs, 4-5, Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. The theme is the blessings of God’s election of Israel as His own people. Exodus 4:22-23, And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. God gave them His glory in the tabernacle and temple. Exodus 40:34-35, Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 1 Kings 8:10, And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD. God’s glory came to dwell with Israel on Mount Sinai. Exodus 24:16, And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. God gave covenants to Abraham, Moses, and to David. God gave Israel His law to govern their political, social, and religious life. The purpose of all the blessings was that Jesus Christ, through Israel, would come into the world. All of these blessing were given freely to Israel and to no other nation.
- In spite of these blessing Israel failed because when the Messiah appeared they rejected and crucified Jesus Christ. No one understood this better than Paul. Before Paul was saved he persecuted the Lord’s church. Does Israel’s failure mean that God’s Word had failed? No! God is faithful no matter what people may do with His Word!
- Romans 9:6-10, Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac. God’s election of Israel is not based on natural decent. There is a difference between the natural seed of Abraham and the spiritual children of Abraham. Abraham had two sons, Ishmael (by Hagar) and Isaac (by Sarah). Ishmael the firstborn should have been chosen but it was Isaac that God chose. Isaac and Rebecca had twin sons. Esau and Jacob. Esau the firstborn should have been chosen, but God chose Jacob. Esau and Jacob had the same father and mother, unlike Ishmael and Isaac, who had the same father but different mothers. God did not base His election on the physical. Therefore, if the nation of Israel, Abraham’s physical descendant, rejected God’s Word, it still would not nullify God’s elective purposes. Physical decent is no guarantee of a place in God’s family.
- Vs 11-13, (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. God chose Jacob before the twins were born. The two boys had done neither good nor evil. So God’s choice was not based on character or conduct. Jacob’s election was not based on anything he had done but solely of the bases of God’s grace.
- Malachi 1:2-5, I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever. And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel. V 3 refers to nations (Israel and Edom) and not individual sinners. Esau was not the object of God’s electing purpose of an elected nation. John 3:16 makes it clear that God loves sinners. John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The statement has to do with the nation of Israel national election not individuals. God’s election of Israel does not depend on human merit, their disobedience cannot nullify the elective purpose of God, and God is faithful even though His people are unfaithful.
May 27, 2013
II. God’s Righteousness, Vs 14-18
- V 14, What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. The fact that God choose Isaac and Jacob over their older brothers to carry on His plan of salvation through the nation of Israel might seem as an act of unrighteousness on God’s part. But Paul responds to the question with a forceful “God forbid!” Because all are sinners in the eyes of God, God does not owe mercy to anyone. God’s mercy is not based on natural descendant, personal character, or merit. Election (salvation) is always a matter of grace. If God acted only on the bases of righteousness nobody would ever be saved. God’s election and rejection is not based on the evil deeds of some or the good deeds of other. Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- V 15, For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Paul’s response to the question posed in verse fourteen is not to justify God’s actions or choices but to state the unequivocal sovereignty of God in doing as He wills. God states His absolute right not to be questioned by His creation about His decisions. Exodus 33:19, And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. This statement revealed the character God, as Moses was able to observe the glory of God. The nation Israel had commented idolatry while Moses was on the mount receiving the law. The whole nation deserved to be destroyed; yet God killed only three thousand people, not because they were more wicked or less godly, but purely because of His grace and mercy.
- V 16, So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Salvation does not depend on human will or effort. Salvation is based on God’s mercy. 2 Timothy 2:24-26, And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. The situation is not that people want to be saved but cannot be or that they are running after God but cannot find Him. Apart from God’s drawing them, none are seeking the one true God. Romans 3:10-12, As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
- V 17-18, For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Using Pharaoh as an illustration Paul quotes Exodus 9:16-17, And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? In comparison Moses was a Jew; Pharaoh was a Gentile, yet both were sinners. Both men were murderers and both had experienced God’s wonders. Pharaoh was a ruler, and Moses was a slave, yet it was Moses who experienced the mercy and compassion of God. Why? Because God willed it that way. God is sovereign in His work and acts according to His own will and purpose. God raised up Pharaoh that He might reveal His glory and power and He had mercy on Moses that He might use him to deliver the people of Israel from bondage. It should be noted that God only gave Pharaoh over to what Pharaoh had already chosen to do. God gave Pharaoh opportunity to repent, but instead, Pharaoh resisted God and hardened his Heart. The fault lay not with God but Pharaoh. Nevertheless the fact remains that God’s sovereignty chooses to have mercy on some and to withhold it from others.
III. God’s Justice, Vs 19-29
- V 19-23 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory. Find fault means “to blame.” Paul raises and some important questions. If God hardens whom He wills why blame one who has been hardened? If God hardens the heart of individuals how can it be said that they are resisting God? Isn’t the hardened one only doing what God has willed him to do? In reply, Paul rebukes anyone who would raise such objections, which in the end are only a protest against God’s ways, and not a sincere request for explanation. The word power in verse 21 means right or authority. Paul insists on God’s right to do as He purposes.
- Some contend that the phrase “What if” has reference to some vessels being designed for eternal destruction while others a prepared for eternal glory. It should be noted that the grammatical structure of the first prepared, referring to the vessels of wrath, if different from the second prepared, referring to the vessels of mercy. The first literally means, “prepared themselves,” while the second is “which He prepared.” If an individual is doomed, it is because of rejection of God; if an individual is redeemed, it is because of the grace of God. The question is not: Why are some saved and some condemned? Everyone deserves condemnation. It is only by God’s grace that anyone is saved.
- In reference to the potter and the clay Paul shows that God deals with the vessels of wrath with patience and mercy. God did not make mankind a vessel of destruction but rebellion and sin of the clay made sinful humanity ripe for judgment. God does not deal with sinful humanity as lifeless clay but as creatures with a free will. God give ample opportunity to for mankind to be saved. Although God hates sin and must judge it in a most final manner, His mercy is constantly going out to the creatures involved.
June 2, 2013
- Vs 9:24-29, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. The nation of Israel is God’s chosen nation. But the tragedy of Israel has been the divine judgment of being scattered throughout the world because of disobedience. But the climax of Israel’s disobedience and rebellion was their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. Because of their rejection, the nation of Israel has been cut off as the ambassador of the Good News of Jesus Christ. But God in His sovereignty has prepared a seed or remnant of believing Jews, which became know as the Jerusalem church, to carry the message of salvation to the world. Isaiah 1:9, Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
- Acts 1:6-8. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. The disciples being Jews understand the prophecy that the nation of Israel would be restored when they asked Jesus when the kingdom would be restored. Jesus’ response to those Jewish men was it is not important that they know when the kingdom would be restored but that Lord’s church would have the responsibility to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. I Peter 2:9-10, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Out of the vessel of disobediences came a vessel of honor that shows God faithfulness to His promise to Abraham. Genesis 12:3, And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
- God rejected the Gentiles and chose the Jews, so that, through the Jews, He might save the Gentiles. The nation of Israel rejected God’s will, but this did not defeat God’s purpose. A remnant of Jews did believe, and God’s Word will be fulfilled. Acts 15:13-17, And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
IV. God’s Grace, Vs. 30-33
- Vs 30-33, What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. The text moves from Divine sovereignty to human responsibility. We will never be able to reconcile the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Mark 8:34, And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. John 6:37, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. Romans 10:13, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. The text contrasts two kinds of righteousness. The righteousness, which is of the law, is one of doing something. The righteousness, which is by faith, is one of trusting in something, which has been done. It is trusting in the salvation work of Jesus Christ. The contrast is between salvation by works and salvation by faith. The first is impossible and the second is possible for all. Each individual needs to decide what kind of righteousness he is seeking. Are you depending on good works and character, or are you trusting in Christ alone for salvation. God does not save on the basis of birth or behaviour. He saves by “grace through faith.” Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
We cannot deny that there are many mysteries connected with Divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility do not compete; they cooperate. The fact that we cannot fully understand how they work together does not deny the fact that they do. Paul’s arguments support the belief that Divine sovereignty and human responsibility both come from God and are a part of God’s plan.
Created and Researched by Pastor Dennis Baker
Zion Baptist Church
3485 New Baumgartner Rd. - St. Louis, MO 63129 - Phone: 314-846-1867