Summary: This is the tenth message in a series over Romans 6-11. The series examines how we now live under God's grace. This message examines the doctrine of predestination.
There are certain topics known as “hot button topics.” These can be defined as a controversial subject or issue that is likely to arouse strong emotions. In the church the subject of predestination can be classified as one of these. In fact, predestination has prompted many heated theological debates. The debates have resulted in fractures within the body of Christ as new movements have been birthed as a result of the strong emotions that come along with this “hot button topic.” The topic of predestination has been misunderstood and erroneously explained down through the ages. These debates have failed to result in any significant light being shed on this topic. Our goal today is to take a fresh look at the concept of predestination and work to strip away many of the human opinions to see what God’s Word has to say about this topic. Our stop today is in the most significant passage that deals with this topic, Romans chapter 9. Paul dives head first into the icy waters of predestination. While he will not answer all the questions we may have, we will discover some important concepts that will help us grow in our understanding of this topic. We need to set a couple of ground rules before we tackle this passage. Approach the passage with an open mind and be willing to change your view if need be. So if you’re ready let’s begin our journey through Romans 9.
I. The issues that prompt Paul to approach the topic of predestination.
A. Paul chooses to begin this passage on a very personal note.
1. Paul established the fact that what he is about to say is true and can be taken to heart.
2. Verses 1 and 2 are one sentence in the Greek, in reality Paul is saying that what He is saying is the truth, he will not lie because he belongs to Christ.
3. The sorrow that Paul has over his own people was overwhelming. His lament over his people is a common form found in Jewish apocalyptic literature especially in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem.
4. The bottom line was that the whole reason for the Jewish nation to exist was to be a blessing to all the nations of the world. However, they have chosen to reject the Messiah that made it possible for this purpose to be carried out.
B. The question Paul is struggling with is, “Has God abandoned the Jewish people?”
1. The danger Paul saw was that there might be those who would take Israel’s rejection as God’s Word failing.
2. The topic of predestination is approached as Paul shows that the tragedy of the Jewish people in no way indicated that God’s plan has failed.
3. Paul’s sorrow over his people was so great that he would be willing to trade his salvation if it would allow his people to be saved.
4. John MacArthur explains it this way, “Paul felt such love that he was willing to relinquish his own salvation and spend eternity in hell if somehow that could bring his fellow Jews to faith in Christ!”
C. The puzzling fact is that the Jew’s rejected God’s plan despite all the advantages He had given them.
1. God had chosen the nation of Israel to be His exclusive people and had given them so many privileges and advantages.
2. Paul was proud to be Jewish but the pain he felt resulted from the fact that the people and their leaders literally threw this privileged position in the trash.
3. Paul could not understand how the Jewish people failed to benefit from all the advantages that God had given them and ultimately rejected the very Messiah that they had waited centuries for.
4. Paul was literally torn apart because He could not understand how a people promised so much would put themselves into a position of being cut off from God.
II. To understand predestination one must establish God’s sovereignty.
A. The concept of predestination rests upon the sovereign choice of God.
1. The world has often adopted erroneous views in regard to God’s Sovereignty.
a. God is unable to right the wrongs that exist in humanity.
b. God is unwilling to involve Himself in the wrongs of humanity.
c. God in reality is simply unjust.
2. God has never promised that every Jew would be saved, He promised that there would be a remnant.
3. So God has not failed in His ultimate purpose even if a small group of Jews accept Christ and are saved.
4. When you examine the Greek you discover two interesting things.
a. The physical descendants of Abraham are not the ones who have the promise.
b. The Spiritual descendants of Abraham are literally the true Israel.
5. Since Paul highlights two distinctly different Israels in this passage changes everything. The arrival of the Messiah would fulfill God’s sovereign purpose for the nation of Israel.