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Understanding the Times

socialmedia@cityrise.org July 12, 2021 sermons, crosspoint church - belliare, Good News, Roger Patterson, romans, sermon,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Roger Patterson on Sunday July 11th, at our Crosspoint Church – Bellaire campus. To view the sermon in full, please visit our YouTubpage.

Have you ever gotten stuck in the mud?

My brother-in-law and his family came to town this week for a quick visit. My niece, Molly, wanted to go to the Dr. Suess Experience at the George R. Brown Convention Center and so they asked if they could pop in on us late Thursday night and leave out Friday afternoon.

We said, “Certainly,” and we had a nice visit Thursday evening.  In that visit, I learned that my 4 year old niece, Molly, loved Jeeps. And that they play a Jeep Counting Game when they go anywhere.

I let Molly sit in my Jeep Wrangler and her mom said that she has already said that she wants a Jeep when she gets her drivers license when she turns 16. As we talked about this, my brother-in-law then said, “Molly, have we ever told you the story of how Uncle Roger and I got our Jeeps stuck in the mud?”

Ah…the Daisy Dukes Story, I said.

Jehu was out of college and he bought a Jeep Wrangler. I had a Jeep Wrangler that was red and had wide tires. He and I thought it would be fun to take his jeep and go mudding out in Fort Bend County where we lived at the time.

So, we headed out, with little experience of driving Jeeps in the mud, and we left my Jeep at home.

It wasn’t too long until we were playing around and doing some off-roading when all of the sudden, we got stuck.  And I mean stuck stuck.

So, I got out and was trying to help get the jeep unstuck when a few things happened.

  1. As he spun his tires, he flung mud into my face.
  2. As I stood in the mud, the sole of my tennis shoe separated from the bottom of my shoe, rendering my shoes inoperable.
  3. And as I tried to exert some sort of force to get that Jeep out of the mud, I split my Jeans…like really blew them out!

We certainly had a laugh, but then we quickly realized that we had a problem. We were still stuck.

Now, this meant that his jeep was going to have to stay there and we were going to have to walk to a pay phone…because guess what? This was before these two recent college graduates had a cell phone.

And here was my problem…I couldn’t use my shoes and my pants had been blown out.

By God’s providence, Jehu had a pair of cut-off denim shorts in his Jeep and a pair of Rubber Work Boots that came up to my upper shin.

So, out there in that field where we were stuck in the mud, I put on those denim shorts and those work boots.

But keep in mind something with me…only if you really want to.

I am 6’5” talls. Jehu, Julee’s brother, is 6’1” to 6’2”.

Now, why a guy ever has cut off denim jeans in his jeep blows my mind…but they were cut to a length that would fit his frame.

When I put these things on…yall…it looked like I was wearing Daisy Dukes Cutoffs.

We walked to the nearest gas station, called my wife and had her bring my jeep to help get him out of the mud.  Then, guess what happened?

Yep, about an hour later, we had two Jeeps stuck in the mud.

Fortunately, there were some workmen nearby and they had a two strap and the ability to pull us out.  And fortunately, Jehu had about $100 bucks on him and these guys thought that $100 was a good number to help us out.  So, we forked over his money and they freed us from the mud!

And, as I tell you that story, I am so glad that I don’t have a picture of that day!!!

Now, here’s why I am telling you that story. As we navigate Romans 9-11, if we aren’t careful, we just might get stuck in the mud, lose the sole of a shoe and split our pants.  I don’t want that to happen to you. I don’t want us to get stuck in the mud theologically.

So, let me put before you a simple outline and then we will dig into our text today.

As we study Romans 9-11 we must understand…

  1. The Times in Which We Live
  2. The Heart of Man
  3. The Heart of God

Now, we are in the middle of Romans 9-11, and we will be wrapping up chapter 10 today. But in these chapters we have some challenging concepts like:

  • predestination,
  • election,
  • Israel’s hardening of the heart,
  • the Gentiles being grafted in,
  • and ultimately, God’s plan for Israel to be saved.

And, as we saw last week in Romans 10:13, “…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Paul then lays out a logical flow for our missionary task to go and preach, to send and fund and get the good news to the Jew and the Gentile.

Then we see these words in Romans 10:17.

Romans 10:17

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

And its as if Paul comes to a pause in his presentation. Then, someone raises their hand and asks a question…or he anticipates their questions.

Notice the questions that Paul is going to anticipate in our passage today.

Romans 10:18-21

But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

Do you see these questions?

  1. But I ask, have they not heart?
  2. But I ask, did Israel not understand?

 

Now, keep in mind that all throughout this letter, Paul has been talking about the Gentiles – the “Nations or Ethnic Groups” that are not the nation of Israel.

At the same time, he has also been talking about Israel as the special people of God…those who have the Patriarchs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; those who have the law and the prophets.

And if you recall, in Romans 3, he gets to the point after his indictment of both the Jews and Gentiles, to tell us that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

And as we saw as Chapter 10 opened up, Paul is absolutely burdened for Israel…his fellow Jew, to come to Christ.

Now, notice this with me for a moment. And maybe this is where I need to insert my first point…

As we study Romans 9-11 we must understand…

  1. The Times in Which We Live
  2. The Heart of Man
  3. The Heart of God

As we study Romans 9-11, we must understand…

I. The Times in Which We Live

Look at Romans 11:1, 7, 11 and 25-26.

The reason I want us to do this digging and work is to see that Paul is looking at this comprehensively. He is talking to us about history – God’s work through history to accomplish His plan.  And we will find ourselves on this timeline in just a moment helping us understand the times in which we live.

Romans 11:1

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 

So, Israel is not excluded from salvation, as Paul himself was an Israelite. But his point is that they didn’t pursue salvation by faith, but by works (Romans 9:32).

Now, look at Romans 11:7.

Romans 11:7

 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened…

As you will see in chapter 11, there has been a remnant of Israel who will believe. Paul says, these “elect have obtained it, but the rest were hardened.”

Now, look at Romans 11:11.

Romans 11:11

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 

Now, we will unpack this jealousy in a bit, but the reality is this: Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and His Good News opened the Gospel to the rest of the nations.

And look at God’s promise in verses 25-26.

Romans 11:25-27

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

Now, we will be diving deeper into all of this next week, but undergirding all of this, is this sense that there is a story unfolding and here is where we are in that story.

James Boice states…

“Paul is asking in a general way, ‘Where is history going? What is God doing in history as time goes by and one historical age succeeds another?’ He is also asking, ‘What is God doing with Israel? – an important question since the Bible concerns Israel so much? Specifically, Paul is asking, ‘Have God’s purposes in regard to Israel failed?’”

And that’s where it would help you and I, as followers of Jesus 2 millennia later, to understand where the Bible says history is going, and where we are in the story, as we are ourselves are living in fascinating times.

The times in which we live:

Illus: I had a nail in my tire the other day and my check engine light was on in my Jeep. Now that check engine light has been on awhile, but I just kept going and going.  The nail in the tire though…that made me stop by Joe’s Auto on Stella Link.

Joe is a believer and he knows I am a pastor. So, we got to talking about things, trying to fix the world and her problems and he said something like, “I never thought I would be living in times like these.”

I thought about that for a moment and then chewed on it in light of this message.

What was he saying?

Something has changed. Something is amiss.  Where every other crisis drove people into the church, the Corona Virus drove people away from the church. And like most every other church in our city that I am in relationship with, we still have 1/3 of our people who haven’t come back.

We then watch the news and see devastating things.  Just this week, there was a young man shot in the back of his dad’s vehicle as they left the Astros game. It was a Road Rage shooting. Last I heard, he was on life support.

We live in a time of great social unrset.

We live in a time of cancel culture and in a day where leaders aren’t trusted.

We are living in a day in which it will be harder and harder for the church to stay true to the Scriptures.

We live in a time where people are demanding you to speak about something, and if you don’t, you are complicit with the injustices that someone else, in another city, has carried out on a person.

We live in a day where in the last few weeks, 20 churches in Canada have been vandalized or burned to the ground.

Something has changed – And I think it’s that the “LOVE OF MOST IS GROWING COLD.” Which is a mark of the end times.

But, these things aren’t discerned or understood if we don’t recognize the day and time in which we live.

So, we have put together a timeline of Biblical History for you that recounts the biblical story and the message of the gospel. It’s shows us where history has been, and where history is headed and helps us see where we are in the story.

So, here is what I want you to understand.

This story is headed somewhere…where all things are subject to Christ. It’s headed to a New Heaven and a New Earth. God is at work in history and here is where we sit…

At this point, we are:

  • in this age of grace where the gospel is going to the nations
  • In this time where a partial hardening has occurred to the Jews so that the good news can go to the nations
  • In a time where the love of most is growing cold.

And we are also in the time of 2 Peter 2:1-3 and 2 Peter 3:3-7.

2 Peter 2:1-3

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

I don’t know if you know this, but since Covid hit, there have been many churches who have lost their pastors. Some have died. Some have been exposed for immorality. Some have been accused of all sorts of greedy practices.

Some have taken their own lives and some have just up and quit.

I was telling Julee just this week that it’s crazy that during this time of leading through Covid, that so many guys have fallen by the wayside.

Now, notice 2 Peter 3:3 and following.

2 Peter 3:3-7

…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Church…

  • scoffers are coming.
  • Pressure will be coming. These are people who have no inhibition. They can justify their lifestyles of sin.
  • They will mock us… “where is his coming?”
  • But… v. 7by the same word, the heavens and the earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly… (show this point in history)

New Testament History

Do you see it?

In light of all that is coming, here is where we are.

But it’s here that we must look at man’s heart and then once again see God’s heart. Remember, we don’t want to get stuck in the mud, blowing out our shoes and having to put on some cut off shorts. Let’s look at our second point together.

As we study Romans 9-11 we must understand…

  1. The Times in Which We Live
  2. The Heart of Man
  3. The Heart of God

As we study Romans 9-11, we must understand…

II. The Heart of Man

Romans 10:18-20

But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

To not get stuck in the mud here, Paul anticipates these two questions:

  1. Has Israel not heard?
  2. Has Israel not understood?

And basically says, “Of course they have heard and of course they have understood.”

As James Boice says it…

“The bottom line of Paul’s answer is that we cannot blame God for our lack of faith our even for a lack of understanding.”

Now, what Paul often does here when he makes his point is he quotes an Old Testament Scripture to assist in making his point.

He asks, “Has Israel not heard?”
Then he says…of course they have.  And He quotes Psalm 19:4.

Psalm 19 is about God’s revelation of himself to all of humanity day after day, through creation and then in particular through His word.

Psalm 19:1-4

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun…

Do you see how God’s creation day after day and night after night reveals His character?  It says here that it REVEALS KNOWLEDGE.

Verse 3 says that there is NO ONE WHO HASN’T HEARD!

Then, we see in verse 7 and following God’s specific revelation through the written word of God.

Psalm 19:7

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;

James Boice states…

“Psalm 19 insists in its first part, that the revelation of God in nature is continuous (“day after day” and “night after night,” v2), abundant (“they pour forth speech,” v.2), and universal (“there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard,” v.3), this should be understood of the specific revelation, too. The revelation provided in the Bible is also continuous, abundant, and universal, and what is said of the Bible should be said of the preaching of the Bible’s message by the Christian preachers.”

Some might say, “They Jews didn’t understand.”

That’s the next question Paul asks.

Romans 10:19-20

19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

These two Old Testament quotes tell us that Israel would see the Gentiles come to the Lord and it would create Jealousy on Israel’s part.

Now, are you jealous about something that you don’t understand?

Not at all.  For, “Ignorance is bliss.”

Paul’s point is that the Jews are acting jealously because they precisely understand the message that the GOSPEL of GRACE was not a contradiction of Judaism, but a fulfillment of it. That’s what made it so offensive.

Boice says…

“Paul was quite right in saying that their anger toward the Gentiles showed that they understood the nature of the gospel very well.”

And then he adds…

“What is our problem?  Is it that we have not heard the gospel? No, we have heard it…Is it that we have not understood the gospel? No, we have understood it all too well. That is why we are angry with those who have received it, and with God, who refuses to play by our rules and take note of our accomplishments.”

The core problem in men’s hearts is that we have understood the gospel of grace but we refuse to submit to it. That’s the heart of man.

And briefly, as we look at verse 21, we see God’s heart.

As we study Romans 9-11 we must understand…

  1. The Times in Which We Live
  2. The Heart of Man
  3. The Heart of God

As we study Romans 9-11, we must understand…

III. The Heart of God

Notice God’s heart in verse 21.

Romans 10:21

 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

This is actually a quote of Isaiah 65:2, spelling out the nature of God’s love in contrast to a disobedient and obstinate people.  Here, Paul shows us that God’s love is:

God’s love is…

  1. Continuous

God’s love is Continuous – Constantly holding out his hands toward Israel for an entire day.  Think about how long you can hold out your hands without them dropping.  In just a bit, your arms will get weary and tired.

You who have yet to come to Christ’ you who are rejecting Christ- God faces you with the Gospel of Jesus Christ with his arms continuously held out to you.

God’s love is…

  1. Continuous
  2. Compassionate

God’s love is Compassionate – It is filled with passion for you. This picture of outstretched arms is a picture of a parent reaching out to a crying child. It’s the gesture of Jesus reaching out to us from the cross with his outstretched arms.

The third quality of God’s love is that it is costly.

God’s love is…

  1. Continuous
  2. Compassionate
  3. Costly

God’s love is costly – for these outstretched hands of God have the scars of nails. These scars mark the moment with those 9 inch nails were brutally pounded through them, as Jesus was hung to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

Someone once said, “No other god has wounds.”

And that’s exactly right. No other god has willingly paid the costly redemption price for all of mankind through all of the ages.

Conclusion: My friend, as we conclude, do you see the love of God?  He is patiently holding out his hands for you. He longs for you to put your faith in him, to repent of your sin and trust in him.

I want to close with this:

2 Peter 3:8-13

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

The day of the Lord is coming. He will come like a thief in the night. But in the meantime, we see that God is patient. God is longsuffering with mankind. God is not slow to fulfill his promise…but PATIENT, NOT WISHING ANY SHOULD PERISH BUT THAT ALL SHOULD REACH REPENTANCE.

As believers we are to live lives of holiness and godliness waiting for the coming day of the Lord.

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