Summary: We can trust God with everything. He is not a failure and is not wrong, no matter what is going on in our lives.
Can I Trust Him?
Englewood Baptist Church
Sunday Morning, May, 2008
Not long ago, I took a walk in my neighborhood. It was early. As I turned a corner, there before me were two huge dogs. They were on the loose and they looked hungry. Immediately, I stopped in my tracks and tried to make a quick analysis: are these dogs safe? Can I trust these two beasts or am I about to become a light breakfast? Thankfully, my fears were relieved when one of them wagged its tail and came to lick my hands. But, for a moment, I had to stop and wonder, can I trust him?
Unfortunately, today, many have the same issue with God. Many people today are asking the same questions. If there is a God out there like many seem to believe, what is this God like? Is he benevolent or is he bossy? Is he kind or is he crotchety? Is he caring or is he calloused? Is he generous or is he stingy? Does this God have a personality? I need to know if I can get near him or not. Should I walk closer or should I turn and run?
In Romans 9, the apostle Paul is wrestling with some of the most difficult questions that come upon us as believers. He has already tackled one of those perplexing questions as we studied chapter 8. That question was this: if God is good then why does He allow so much evil? Paul has given a remarkable response in saying in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good for those who love him.” In other words, like a master chef, God will take the ingredients of pain and suffering and work them together for a pleasing product. One day, our pain will metamorphosize into pleasure, just as God turns a fuzzy, worm into a beautiful butterfly. All things will be good…we just have to be patient. That was Paul’s response to the problem of pain.
But another hard question arises that we face as followers of Christ. Here is it: If the Bible teaches the doctrine of hell—that God sends people to a horrible place of punishment where the fire is never quenched—if the Bible teaches that such a place exists and that most people born on this earth end up there, then how can we claim that our God is loving and good? Can you really trust in a God that creates a place like that? Should I walk closer to that God, or should I turn and run like I would from a rabid dog?
As we look in Romans 9 this morning, we are about to discover Paul in one of his lowest moments. He is depressed because all of his loved ones—the people that he grew up with and used to run with—they have chosen a pathway to hell. And you can sense in the first few verses of this chapter the deep anguish that he feels for his lost, loved ones. Look at the heart of an evangelist in vv.1-5…
Paul says, “I have unceasing anguish in my heart. I have great sorrow.” So dreadful was Paul’s pain that he actually wishes he could change places with his lost friends, as if that were possible. He says in v.3… “I wish that I could be cursed and cast into hell so that they might be saved, but I can’t.” This nagging pain is what every mother feels who has a prodigal son that is throwing his life away. This pain of Paul is felt today by a brother who watches his own sister run away from God. Paul was hurting because the people he loved the most were rejecting the One that could save them. Jesus had died first for the Jews and Paul was the black sheep in the family of Israel. No, he was the white sheep. He was clinging to the cross, while everyone else ran away, and he couldn’t understand why.
These Jewish people had been given every chance to be saved. If you will notice in verse 4, there is a long list of privileges that were provided for the Jews by God. Theirs is the adoption as sons. God calls Israel his firstborn child in Ex. 4:22, that’s a special thing. Theirs was the adoption as sons, but not just that. Theirs is the divine glory—the shekinah glory of God that filled their temple and sat down upon their camp. Other peoples of the world didn’t get to see that. They also had the covenants—the covenant with Abraham, then with Moses, then with David. God made special promises to Israel that he didn’t make to other nations. There was the receiving of the law, the 10 commandments where God spoke with his voice to Israel and wrote on tablets with his finger. He was reaching out to them. There was the temple worship, the priesthood, and the sacrifices that all pointed to the coming of the Lamb of God, the Jewish Messiah. They had the patriarchs—not just Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel and men like Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and David. What a privilege they were given to have men like these. And to top off the list, they had the ultimate man—the God man—came from among them, Jesus Christ. If you look at Matthew 1, it begins with a family tree and from the Jewish line came the Son of God.