Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God has the right to do as He sees fit, God reveals Himself as He is, God has foretold these things in Scripture

Chapter 9 v 19-29- ‘Why does God still blame us?’

Two premises

1. Salvation is due entirely to God’s will (v15 & 18) 2. We do not and cannot resist God’s will (v16).

False conclusion

3. God cannot blame us (v19) for rejecting Him. If He makes all the decisions, surely He must take all the responsibility?

What, then, is the true conclusion? How can God be sovereign and yet we remain responsible for our sins?

If we are appealing to God, we are admitting He is in charge. Therefore, we have got to accept His ruling, even if we still think He’s wrong (God forbid).

If we are questioning God’s sense of justice, our own must be at fault because our sense of justice comes from Him (i.e. we cannot possibly be more just than God- see Genesis 18:25).

But Paul is not wishing to stifle genuine questions. “It is the God-defying rebel and not the bewildered seeker after the truth whose mouth he so peremptorily shuts” (Bruce).

Three answers

1. God has the right of a potter over his clay (20-21). In other words, if we are questioning God’s justice, we do not correctly understand God’s total ownership over us, and therefore our total absence of ‘rights’ before Him; instead, we have privileges which He graciously grants us. We forget that He is the Creator and we are the creatures. We invert things in our heads as to who has the right to reason things out.

Read Isaiah 29:13-16 and glance at the rest of the verses in that chapter.

What is at the root of much of our questioning against God?

What should be our attitude and approach towards Him?

Can we learn anything more from Job (42:1-6)?

2. God reveals Himself as He is (22-23), and brings glory to Himself in this. Verse 22 is God’s stance towards vessels of wrath, and verse 23 about his stance towards vessels of mercy, and in many ways the verses are parallel. But…

a. God is very patient with rebels, even though their destruction makes His wrath and power known (and therefore brings Him glory)

b. God prepares the objects of mercy for glory, but no ‘agency’ is indicated for the preparation for the vessels of wrath for destruction. Stott says, “Certainly God has never ‘prepared’ anybody for destruction; is it not that by their own evildoing they prepare themselves for it?”

c. The riches of God’s glory on the vessels of mercy are the shining foreground, made to look all the brighter in contrast with the sombre background of his power against the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. In other words, mercy is more glorious when contrasted with wrath; and the patience of God against rebels indicates His preference for mercy, as well as His desire to make His power and wrath known. Patience (with sinners, both those who will repent and those who will not), power (against powerful rebels), wrath (against the unrepentant) and mercy (towards the repentance) are key attributes of God’s character that are only ‘revealable’ in this scheme of things. And God reveals Himself as He is and brings glory to Himself in this…

Many have thought about theses verses for years, and even Stott says that the ultimate mystery cannot be solved (that of why God only has mercy on some). RC Sproul says that the real theological question is actually why God allows any of us wicked people to continue to exist. However, some have even said (blasphemously) that “it is the weakest point in the whole epistle” (CH Dodd).

How would you answer such an objection?

3. God has foretold these things in Scripture (24-29). God had always planned to include many Gentiles, and to cut short His work amongst the Jews, so that only a “remnant” (27) or “seed” (29) would be saved.

a. Many Gentiles included (24-26). These verses were originally applied to the northern tribes of Israel in the 8th Century BC, but now Paul applies them to the Gentiles.

Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. What does God desire to make of Gentile believers? What tasks does He wish us to perform? How are you doing these things in your life?

b. Many Jews excluded (27-29). Both the Isaiah passages contrast the majority (Israel before the divided kingdom; the great cities of the plain) with the minority (Israel after the Assyrian invasion; just Lot and his two daughters). This should really make us consider how blessed we are to be part of the few who are saved…and that our salvation seems almost at the expense of the Jews who have now been cut off… soli deo gloria.

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