Summary: God’s Word will not and cannot fail but that leads to two crucial questions: 1) Is God free to do whatever he wants? 2) Is God fair in the way he treats people? Today's message will help us wrestle with these issues of God's sovereignty.
The God Who Can Be Trusted
Romans 9:4-18 4 … Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. 6 It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son." 10 Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-- in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls-- she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
Intro: In May 1995, Randy Reid, a 34-year-old construction worker, was welding on top of a nearly completed water tower outside Chicago. He unhooked his safety gear to reach for some pipes when a metal cage slipped and bumped the scaffolding he stood on. The scaffolding tipped, and Reid lost his balance. He fell 110 feet, landing face down on a pile of dirt, just missing rocks and construction debris. When paramedics arrived, they found Reid conscious, moving, and complaining of a sore back. Apparently the fall didn’t cost Reid his sense of humor. As paramedics carried him on a backboard to the ambulance, he had just one request: “Don’t drop me.” (Source: Greg Asimakoupoulos)
I suspect that some of you feel that way today. Even though He has saved you from the big fall, you wonder if perhaps God is going to drop you as you struggle with trusting Him. Will God really come through for you? Can you and I really trust Him to keep His promises? Let’s take this to a deeper level and let me verbalize three questions that many of us have asked at one time or another.
* Has God’s Word failed? This has to do with his power.
* Is God faithful? This has to do with His promises.
* Is God fair? This has to do with His purposes.
Last week we learned that evangelism will have little effect if we don’t care about the lost and be willing to change our approach. As we move into the bulk of Romans 9 this morning, let me warn you up front that this section of Scripture may be hard to swallow. In light of that, let’s keep Isaiah 55:8-9 in mind: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” It’s my prayer that by the time we’re finished today, you’ll be more willing to trust the God who will never drop you.
In the Apostle Paul’s day, many people were wondering if God had somehow dropped the Israelites because so few of them had put their trust in Jesus as their Messiah. “Imagine a situation where a certain man is the founder and owner of a large, profitable corporation. This man has many children in his family, and he makes a general promise: ‘My children will always have a seat on the Board of Directors of my company and nobody but my children will have a place on the Board of Directors.’ This is his promise, this is his word. Now suppose many years after making this promise some of those who received this promise were not placed on the Board of Directors while at the same time this man went and got people living on the streets and made them his Board members. Wouldn’t it seem that he had not kept his word? Wasn’t it unfair to place people from the streets on the Board instead of those who had grown up in his own home?