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Summary: Paul has taught us that God picks out individuals for salvation not based on anything they do, but out of pure grace. At the same time, he bypasses others. This raises a number of questions, and Paul fields them, though not necessarily to our satisfacti

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Is God Unjust?

(Romans 9:14-29)

1. There are many puzzles in life. One recent puzzle is the whereabouts of an escapted tiger.

Bengal Tiger Seen Roaming La. Army Base

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

FORT POLK, La. — A Bengal tiger on the loose in the thick brush surrounding Fort Polk seems to be playing hide and seek — and winning.

A team of about 40 soldiers and sheriff’s deputies searched the woods on the Army base for a second day Wednesday for any sign of the tiger.

"So far we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of it," said Scott Heinrich, owner of a wild animal consultancy that was brought in to track the big cat.

It was unclear where the animal came from, but it’s likely that it was a pet that escaped or was set free, said Leslie Whitt, director of the Alexandria Zoo, who assisted in the search. Several witnesses said the animal was wearing a collar.

Heinrich said he and others scanned the woods Tuesday morning from a helicopter but did not see the tiger. They continued their search on the ground, beginning from where the animal was last seen, he said.

Based on witnesses descriptions, the tiger is probably about 100 pounds and 1 year old, Whitt said. If it was kept as a pet, it probably has not learned how to hunt for food, he said.

2. But few things are more puzzling than the mysterious ways of God.

Main idea: Paul has taught us that God picks out individuals for salvation not based on anything they do, but out of pure grace. At the same time, he bypasses others. This raises a number of questions, and Paul fields them, though not necessarily to our satisfaction. God is God, and He does as He pleases. We do not have to like it, but we should not live in spiritual denial either.

I. Is God Unjust? (14-18)

A. The answer: “Not at all”

B. God is merciful to some (16)

1. This mercy is NOT a result of human effort or even desire

2. It is based on God’s Sovereignty

A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death.

"But I don’t ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy."

"But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied.

"Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for."

“Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman’s son.

C. God is just to some others (17-18)

1. If you read the account in Exodus, you find that, at first, Pharaoh hardened his own heart; then God hardened it further as a judgment

2. Everyone’s heart is hard toward God; sometimes God softens a person’s heart somewhat without necessarily regenerating that person…

3. Daniel 4:35, a lesson Nebuchadnezzar had to learn: “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”

4. In the case of Pharaoh, God hardened his heart further so he would not become co-operative…this is similar to God giving depraved society “over” in Romans 1:28…an act of judgment

5. Dr. Leon Morris put it this way, “Neither here nor anywhere else is God said to harden anyone who had not first hardened himself.”

6. God is therefore free to do just what verse 18 says….the wonder is NOT that all are lost, the wonder is that SOME are saved….God is not obligated to show equal mercy to all…

God is God, and He does as He pleases. We do not have to like it, but we should not live in spiritual denial either.

II. How Can God Blame People If He Irresistibly Chooses Some While Bypassing Others? (19-21)

A. Paul does not give us a direct answer, probably because he knew none. He acknowledges the question, however, to indicate to his readers that they are, in fact, understanding exactly what he is saying.

B. His answer addresses attitude more than intellectual content. He treats the question more as an objection than a query.

1. Paul does not usually stifle legitimate questions; indeed, he encourages them

2. But here, since there is no way for we humans to understand how these issues can be reconciled, the only answer Paul can give us boils down to this: Remember who you are and remember Who God is…

3. “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” Psalm 115:3

4. The Scriptures reveal God as He is, not as we want Him to be…too many of us develop our theology and then make the Bible fit it rather than studying the whole of Scripture and then developing our theology…

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