Summary: The more I focus on what I am doing for God the more likely I am to miss what God is doing in me.
This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.
While I was in high school I worked at the Lucky Wishbone that my dad managed. Over time, my dad gave me more responsibilities there and eventually I often opened or closed for him, which required things like counting the money and making entries in the books. But even with those extra responsibilities I was making less money than some of the other employees there who weren’t responsible for those tasks. And at the time I was often upset about that. I thought that I deserved more for what I was contributing to the restaurant and to my dad.
It wasn’t until much later in life that I gained a better appreciation for that time in my life and realized that all that time I thought I was doing something for my dad that deserved some kind of reward, my dad was actually doing something much more important and valuable for me. He was helping me to develop a great work ethic and also some skills and abilities that would serve me well throughout my life.
Unfortunately, I sometimes fail to consider the things that I learned from my dad when it comes to my relationship with God. And so if I’m not careful, I’ll start thinking of all the things I’m doing for God and even begin to think that God somehow owes me for that. But then when I read passages like the ones we’ve been studying for the last couple months in Romans 8 and 9, I realize that God doesn’t owe me a thing and that in fact He is doing far more in my life than I could ever deserve.
Perhaps I’m the only one here this morning who struggles with that, but my guess is that because we are self-centered humans, that is a tendency that we all have to combat in our lives from time to time. And fortunately for us, the apostle Paul is going to give us some very practical help with that as we continue our study of the book of Romans.
The main theme in Romans 8 and so far in Romans 9 has been the sovereignty of God in the process of salvation. In that section of His letter, Paul has been focused on the idea that God, in His perfect wisdom, gets to choose those to whom He will show mercy and those he will harden. He alone decides who will be a vessel of mercy and who will be a vessel of wrath.
And while Paul has touched on man’s responsibility in that section, he hasn’t really focused on it. But now as we get to the end of chapter 9 and the beginning of chapter 10, Paul is going to address that idea in much more detail
[Read Romans 9:30-10:4]
As we’ve done with most of our recent messages, I’ll begin with the main theme and then we’ll develop that further.
Remember that Paul is still dealing here with the question that was raised at the end of Chapter 8:
If most of the Jews are rejecting Jesus as the Messiah and most of the church consists of Gentiles, then has God’s purpose for the Jews been defeated?
Up to this point, Paul’s argument has been that God’s purpose for the Jews has not been defeated because all along God only intended to save a remnant of the Jews that He would choose and that is exactly what has happed.
But now, Paul is making another argument for why the Jews have largely not responded to Jesus as the Messiah. And here he is focusing on the responsibility that the Jews themselves bore for that.
Paul’s argument here centers around Jesus and what man chooses to do with Him. In verses 32 and 33, Paul quotes from Isaiah to show that every person will do one of two things with Jesus: They will either find Him to be a rock of offense and stumble over Him or they will believe in Him and stand firm on Him and do as we sang earlier and build their lives with Him as the foundation.
Paul quotes from two different passages in Isaiah in verse 33 and he puts them together in a way that reveals both of these possible ways to respond to Jesus.
therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,