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Our Merciful God

socialmedia@cityrise.org June 21, 2021 sermons, cityrise, houston, Roger Patterson, sermons, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Roger Patterson on Sunday June 20, at our West U Baptist Church campus. To view the sermon in full, please visit our YouTubpage.

Happy Father’s Day. Let’s hear it for the dads out there. Go ahead and get loud. Thank you, dads, for all you do! Here’s a few quotes on Father’s Day for ya…Grab your bible and meet me in Romans 9. Let’s pray.

As we mentioned last week, Romans 8 is regarded as maybe the greatest chapter in all of the Bible. We flip over to Romans 9, many regard it to be the most mysterious and confusing chapters in all of the Bible.  This is our second week in Romans 9. We’re not avoiding these hard chapters, but pressing in, believing God to speak to us and reveal more of himself to us in these 33 verses. If you weren’t here last week, I need to catch you up; for those who were here – brief recap —

  • Salvation comes by faith, not by birth –
  • Salvation comes by faith, not by works –
  • Salvation comes by God’s Election, not human wisdom. So as God is at work in the world saving, redeeming, and calling people into relationship to himself – it’s all mercy. Vs. 15-16, “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” And then again in verse 18, “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” To understand this we have to understand that none of us are owed mercy, from God; no in fact it would be just of God NOT to show us mercy. We sinned and rebelled against him. Romans 3 – none is righteous, all have turned aside…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So, none of us are deserving of mercy, but wrath.

But It is so incredibly glorious and good, that He chose to show mercy. Mercy is to withold what is deserved. And he is saying here that he doesn’t have to show anyone mercy, but he will have mercy on who he has mercy on, and he will have compassion on who he has compassion on.

Today – where we pick up today in verse 19 – Paul asks a question that I myself find myself asking. If God has mercy on whom he will have mercy and hardens whom he wills, then how can God hold people accountable? Let’s look at this portion together in its totality, and then I want to break it down for you.

Romans 9:19-33

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel[c] be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Now, before I share my outline with you, I want you to see how Paul anticipates these questions:  Look at these two questions that he anticipates In verse 19.

Romans 9:19

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 

The Interloper, or at least the one In Paul’s mind that Is asking questions essentially Is saying…

“If God is in control of who believes and is saved, then how can he condemn and hold those who won’t turn from sin to God accountable? How can those who never turn to Christ be blamed for their sin?”

It’s here that I want to now share with you an overarching outline of Paul’s response. He points out three significant principles about Salvation that we must understand.

3 Principles about Salvation

  1. God Is Sovereign In His Authority
  2. God Is Patient
  3. God has a Good Purpose

Let’s look at this first one.

I. God Is Sovereign In His Authority

Paul says the first thing I want you to see as you wrestle with this question is first and foremost, God is Sovereign in His Authority. When I say sovereign, I mean supreme, unequaled.

Paul says, I get what you’re wrestling with…no question. It’s a difficult topic. But the first thing we must do when we’re looking at this is to start with the truth that God has perfect, Sovereign authority. He has complete and comprehensive authority.  This is incredibly important.

AW Tozer was an incredible pastor and writer and he said that…

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

So, when we have questions about God…the place we need to start is what we think about when we think about God. Look at verses 20-21.

Romans 9:20-21

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 

Paul says that the molder has the right to do what he thinks best with the molded. He says the potter has the right to do as he thinks best with the clay. Surely, he has Isaiah 45 & Jeremiah 18 in mind here.

Paul reminds us that God is the Creator. We are the creature.

We would be wise to also remind ourselves of this.  Here are a few places that we see the vastness and awesomeness of our God.

Isaiah 45:12

I made the earth
    and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
    and I commanded all their host.

Psalm 33:6

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Father’s Day Illustration: It’s good to be reminded because at times we forget this. I can’t help but think about parenting in this text…Insert Father’s Day Illustration here:  Sometimes we forget we are the kids and God is God.

Let me give you a few more reminders of God’s Sovereignty…

Psalm 115:3

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

Psalm 135:5-6

For I know that the Lord is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.

Psalm 145:13

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

 The second thing I want you to see is… God is Patient.

3 Principles about Salvation

  1. God Is Sovereign In His Authority
  2. God Is Patient
  3. God has a Good Purpose

II. God Is Patient

Let’s look at Romans 9:22-23 here and notice the patience of God.

Romans 9:22-23

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory

Brian Hedges says…

“It’s not saying that God is in a hurry to dispense his wrath, that God is waiting up in the heavens, saying, ‘I can’t wait to strike people with his thunderbolts of wrath and of anger.’ That’s not the picture at all.

Instead, the picture in Scripture over and over again is that here are sinful people, here are sinful individuals, here are even whole societies, and God warns and God waits and God pleads and God gives opportunities to repent. Sometimes he will even wait centuries.”[1]

God is so patient with people. Think about those in the Bible.

  • Adam and Eve. They messed up. What did God do? Strike them and start over? Nope. He provided a sacrifice for them. They don’t die immediately.
  • Pharoah – he kept God’s people in slavery in Egypt. 10 plagues. Didn’t strike him down after 1 or 2 or even 5. God was patient with him, even.
  • God’s prophets in the OT –
    • Obadiah
    • Joel
    • Amos
    • Hosea
    • Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah
    • Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Jeremiah

– all of them sent by God to warn God’s people to change, to repent…God was so patient with his people.

Brian Hedges goes on to say…

“What is God doing? He is showing his patience, he is showing his longsuffering. This is the disposition of God towards vessels of wrath; that is, towards sinful human beings headed for destruction. His disposition towards them is one of longsuffering, it’s one of patience.”[2]

Man, this means the world to me. It means God is not in a hurry to execute wrath on you; he is patient to redeem you. Sometimes we think God is ready to pounce on us when we fail or fall. That his arrow of wrath is locked and loaded, just anticipating our sin and failure. That’s not what we see here. We see God as Sovereign in Authority and God as incredibly patient.

This is the Heavenly Father. And his patience with us should move us to be patient with our children like he is patient with us.

A puritan writer Stephen Charnock wrote…

“It is long before God can sense to give fire to his wrath and shoot out his thunderbolts. Sin hath a loud cry, but God seems to stop his ears not to hear the clamor it raises and the charge it presents. He keeps his sword a long time in the sheath.”

Today, if you’re a follower of Jesus, God is patient with you as you grow and walk with Jesus.  If you’re not a follower of Jesus, God is patient with you, waiting on you to respond, waiting on you to trust him and look to the Savior Jesus.

And this leads us to the final thing I want to show you that Paul emphasizes. Let’s look at our outline once more.

3 Principles about Salvation

  1. God Is Sovereign In His Authority
  2. God Is Patient
  3. God has a Good Purpose

III. God has a Good Purpose

Let’s see His good purpose In verses 24 and following.

Romans 9:24-26

even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

Friends, here Is a crucial point that Paul Is making…God’s allowing Israel to reject Christ has opened the door for everyone from the nations to receive Christ.

F.F. Bruce states…

What Paul is doing here is taking the promise from Hosea—that God will not allow this broken relationship to remain forever, but looks forward to do a day when “not his people” will be “his people”—and is extracting from this promise a principle of divine action in which Paul’s day was reproducing itself on a world-wide scale.

In part due to Paul’s apostolic ministry, great numbers of Gentiles (who had never been “the people of God”) who had no claim on his covenant mercy were coming to be enrolled among his people and to be the recipients of his mercy. Through the Gentile mission, Gentile lands now had many people who were “sons of the living God.”[3]

And this is still taking place today.  Do you see God’s Good Purpose?

Keep reading as he now quotes Isaiah and further discusses the people of Israel.

Romans 9:27-29

And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”

Now, notice how he has just said that this Is concerning Israel.  Here in this shift from Hosea to Isaiah in verses 27-29, he moves from the inclusion of the Gentiles to the exclusion of the Jewsapart from a remnant. The significance of both quoted texts lies in the contrast they contain between the majority and the minority. Although the Israelites are as numerous as the sand, only a remnant will be saved. Out of the total destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, only a handful was spared.

Let’s look at verses 30-33.

Romans 9:30-33

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Isaiah 26 says that the Gentiles, those far from God, found salvation through faith — they attained it, not because of their own works, but through faith in Jesus!

The Jews who looked to salvation through works/performance/keeping the law and failed in their attempt (they did not succeed in reaching that law). And for that, anyone who looks to something outside of Jesus for salvation fails in their quest.

God’s good purpose all along was that all people hear and believe in Jesus. And the Jews who rejected opened the door for the gospel to go to the nations, to you and to me.

God wants all to be saved, and he’s merciful and he’s patient.

But salvation does not comes by works or by birth, but only through faith in Jesus.

Let me close with this – I want to give you a “Don’t” and a “Do.”

  1. Don’t get caught up in the “am I elect question.” It’s not for you to wonder…that’s not the point of all of this…
  2. Do get caught up in the gospel…The point is that you come face to face with the bad news of your sin and deserved wrath. That you see the bad news and see good news – that God has sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sin out of his great love and grace and mercy in order to remove wrath and replace it with righteousness. Do get caught up in this. And when you respond, you will be saved.  As we will see next week, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved.”

Let’s pray.

[1] Brian G. Hedges, “The Sovereignty of God”

[2] Brian G. Hedges, “The Sovereignty of God”

[3] F.F. Bruce, Romans, 195.

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