Walking in the Word
* Turn with me to Romans 9 and let’s read verses 6-17.
* Romans 9-11 are almost a “book” unto themselves. In fact, at least one preacher thinks this section of Romans needs to be dealt with independently of the rest of the book. Certainly there seems to be some logic to this.
* Were we a Bible or Seminary class it would be more than appropriate to talk about things like “Israel-God’s chosen people,” “the Patriarch”, “Deception in the family”, or a host of other subjects which might be of interest to a few but not really helpful when we leave this meeting. My desire is to not make our time together a lesson in academia but rather a rather a lesson in assistance.
* As I have read and studied this passage, I am again taken with how God can be found in every phrase of every passage, if only we take our time and walk through the word. To use the phrase “walk through” has come to mean that “to take one’s time” and “look beyond the obvious.” Today let’s do just that. Together let’s take a walk, not run, not scan, not pop in and out, but take our time and walk through God’s word & find Him there.
* Paul is obviously talking to and about the Jewish people, but we can discover 3 simple and helpful truths for them and for us.
1. God’s Word Is Strong – In the movie, “The Core”, a nerdy looking, computer geek delivers this line about his ability to hack the computer, “This is my Kung-fu and it is strong.” Without a second thought we can say, “The Word of God is our Kung-fu and it is strong. The HCSB Verse 6 begins, “It is not as though the word of God has failed” while the NKJV says “it’s not that the word of God has taken no effect.” The Greek term literally means that the word of God has not fallen down or failed. Throughout history, the enemy has attempted to do away with the word of God, but it has always been unsuccessful.
* Hebrews tells us, “The world of God is living, effective, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” That verse goes on to remind us that the word of God penetrates beyond the exterior to the places few people know and see. Let me offer you three thought to put your hand around;
a. It Reveals Truth – As I have stated many times, in the USA today, truth is at a premium. Popular opinion is skewed about this thing of truth. People wanted to say truth is relative, but if truth is relative, is it really truth? For instance, when is cold blooded, calculated murder okay? When is rape okay? When is assault okay? The answer to all is never. How do we know that all these things are wrong? Because the Bible, the actual revelation of truth, tells us. The truth is, the Bible identifies and defines sin. Never miss this; a culture cannot define sin, it can only discover the truth. The Bible, God’s word, is a well constructed road map which leads us through this life and into the next one. As the Bible is digested, it gives instruction about how to be fulfilled in this life. Answers are found in the Bible because it reveals truth.
b. It Retains Truth – “To retain” means to “hold on to” or to “keep”. May I suggest that the Bible does this? While armies, Kings, rulers, countries, and many more have attempted to discredit, dismember, and destroy the physical word and the principles contained therein, God word stands. Truth is difficult to destroy. A young monk named Martin Luther challenged the wicked ways of the Catholic Church with his 95 Theses in 1517. After a 4-year struggle with the powerful church, he was called to answer for his position and given a night to reflect. After the night, He boldly stated, "Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen." With these words, Luther stood on truth.
c. It Remains True – Let’s make this very simple; “What was true 2000 years ago is true today.” Truth is that which holds true “in all times, all people, for all people.” Jesus said, “I am THE way, THE TRUTH, and THE life.” This word has never failed, never fallen short, & never let anyone down. It’s strong enough to stand the test of time and eternity.
2. God’s Will Is Sovereign – Sovereign is a word which we have problems understanding. Why? Because we have never seen it applied in America. We live in a Democratic Republic which does not grant “sovereignty” to any one individual. However, we can remember Saddam Hussein as a Sovereign ruler over Iraq. Although his rule was wickedly vicious, it serves as a model for us to understand a “sovereign ruler.” One who is sovereign needs no permission from anyone to do anything. As a ruler, everyone in their domain is under their rule. The sovereign ruler holds the power of life and death in his hands. As an American, are you uncomfortable yet? You don’t want to live under the hand of a sovereign ruler? And now we see the problem we have with God. This is why we tend to rebel.
a. He Afflicts – Look at our text with me. It is God who decides the status of all of humankind. He is big on the “not everyone” principle. Here we are told “not everyone who is OF Israel IS Israel.” Confused yet? This conveys the same thought Jesus gives in the Sermon on the Mount when He says, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of God.” In His sovereignty it is God who ultimately decides and knows who will enter the Kingdom. About Israel? Some thought that because they possessed Jewish blood they were automatically a part of God’s Kingdom. God says, “Not so.” Before we get to judgmental of these, it is the same mindset which says, “Because I’m a part of the local church, I’m a part of God’s Kingdom.” Once again, God says, “Not so.”
* While many may not like this truth found it God’s word, it is still God’s word. It is not from being born into a preacher’s family, a deacon’s family, and not from being a member of a church which gives us a place in the Kingdom. For those who think, “I’ll slip in”, God afflicts their spirits.
b. He Affirms – The whole of God’s will and His sovereignty is to affirm and give confidence to those who have come to Him by faith in Jesus and have established this relationship with Him. In our text we read the “Statement of the Promise” and the “Children of the Promise.” Now we can sort this out by looking at the historical examples of 2 pair of brothers which Paul reminds us about. Two men were step brothers (Ishmael and Isaac) and the other two (Esau & Jacob) were twins. Now we can review the history of both of these (which would take quite a while) or we can simply acknowledge that God selected the 2 younger boys over the normally selected older boys. Think about this: In His sovereignty God affirmed Isaac and Jacob before they were ever born. Did He choose them because they were better than their siblings? Obviously not. It seems that God almost always chooses the most unlikely to do the most important task.
c. He Assigns – Look at verse 7 with me. The text says, “In Isaac your seed will be called.” We can look back in Genesis and see where God promised Abraham that through the lineage of Isaac would Abraham’s family be preserved, but here is the payoff; In His sovereignty, God assigned Isaac (not Esau) the responsibility for upholding the covenant God had given to Abraham. You may ask, “So? What does that have to do with me?” Just as surely as God gave Isaac this assignment for His life and family, God gives you & me an important assignment. May I just mention 3 parts of your assignment? You and your relationship to God, your family, and your church family.
* God’s assignment for you doesn’t depend on human effort, ingenuity, or will; it is totally given by the will of God.
3. God’s Way is Supreme – Truly, I wish we had more time for this thought because so much needs to be considered. Today, we are taught that “our way is best”, “do what you like”, or even “if it feels good, do it”. Precisely because of all this manmade philosophy we see our country and even our world crumbling at the most fundamental levels. Thinking we know best, we are destroying the best parts of our lives. Think about “pizza” with me for a minute. While some people like pizza with “one topping”, each of us would admit that one topping pizzas a simple, less expensive, and quicker to get. There are very few areas of life that the simple, cheap and quick is best and matters of life are no exception. God’s way is supreme.
a. It’s Fair – His way is not unjust or unfair. The word tells us about the fairness of our God. He shows mercy. This means He doesn’t give us what we deserve. His way is to reach down in love, offer us His best, and in His sovereignty to make it available to everyone.
b. It’s Compassionate – When we think God is ready to annihilate us, He stands ready to be compassionate. It’s His grace. This means that He gives us what we don’t deserve. Not only does God make an offer of forgiveness to us, but He sends the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts and stir our spirits. And if we hear;
c. It Saves Your Soul – This is God’s desire for you today. His offer of forgiveness is available only through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus. When you sense God’s spirit working in your Heart, you need but respond and He will save you.
Walking is good for you. Many in this room have taken up walking for your health. This morning we have taken a walk through a section of God’s word and discovered it to be strong, His will sovereign, and His way supreme. What will you do with truth?