Summary: God’s sovereignty in salvation and reprobation
November 14, 2010
I need to start tonight’s message with an apology. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I first decided to preach through Romans, and if I had, I may not have preached it.
The first seven chapters were all easy enough to accept because they fit right in with what most churches believe and teach (with what I’ve always believed). Then we came to chapter eight (a chapter I thought was all about love—and it is), but I didn’t realize that it was about election based on love in sovereignty.
Now we come to chapter nine and the teaching here is all or nothing:
Either God is all the way sovereign or man is able to save himself.
Either God loves everyone and strives to save all men or God has predestined the elect for salvation and He has predestined the reprobate for judgment.
I owe you an apology. Not because of what I’ve been preaching, but because I’ve done it in timidity. I was afraid that I might be wrong or that there’s some verse I can’t explain which causes it all to come crashing down.
I want to be clear: there’s still a lot I don’t understand, but I’m sorry to all of you for doubting what’s so clearly written. Tonight I’m preaching with a new attitude.
Romans 9-11 is a section of Scripture devoted to the sovereignty of God. We’ll see how God chose Isaac and rejected Ishmael (9:7), how He loved Jacob but hated Esau (9:13), and how He had mercy on Moses but hardened Pharaoh (9:17-18).
We’ll see how God created some men as vessels of mercy and others as vessels of wrath. Some were prepared beforehand for glory while others were prepared beforehand for wrath. (9:22-23).
We’ll see how it’s not those who pursue righteousness who find it, but those who receive it from God (9:30-10:21).
We’ll see that even when men did seek God, He darkened their eyes so that they could not see (11:5-10). Those whom He has not chosen for mercy, He has chosen for wrath.
Is this a hard teaching?
Yet, I think you’ll see (if the Lord chooses to show you) that it’s Scriptural.
Now, in chapter eight we’ve seen that God is sovereign in suffering because He’s sovereign in salvation. He does indeed cause all things to work together for our good since He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son.
This predestination isn’t just some random selection process; we didn’t get lucky enough to be picked by God. Rather, those whom God foreknew He predestined.
Remember, there are those who say that His foreknowledge means that He took a glimpse into the future to see those who would choose Him, and then He made His decision to save them based on that knowledge.
First of all, that would ultimately make salvation dependent on the will of man which goes against every teaching of the Bible. In just a few verses we’ll read, “It does not depend on the man who wills or runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16). The natural man can’t save himself because he doesn’t seek God (Rom. 3:11), in fact he’s hostile to God, and his mind is unable to subject itself to God’s Law! He cannot please God (Rom. 8:7-8).
Second, the word foreknowledge can easily be defined to mean not “a decision made based on knowledge of the future,” but “to intimately know and to be acquainted with” or “to be chosen.”
When we talk about God’s foreknowledge, we mean that God has known us in His intimate love from before the foundation of the world, and so He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son.
Because His love for us is eternal, who then can separate us from Him?
38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But, here’s an interesting thought: how can we be so sure since Israel lost her election? Did God fail to accomplish His purpose?
Chapters 9-11 address this point:
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4who are Israelites,
Many of the Jews hated Paul and considered him a traitor. Remember that he was a Pharisee; he was a great leader, and then he just changed sides one day. All of a sudden the one who was persecuting the “blasphemers” for calling Jesus the Christ was preaching Christ himself!