Sunday, February 25, 2007

God’s Election by Grace! - Romans 11:1-10
February 25, 2007 AM
By Pastor Lee Hemen

An 8-year-old girl wrote to a Christian leader, seeking advice. She wanted to know how she could get her daddy to carry her picture. She said her dad had a photo of her little brother in his wallet (the boy looked like his dad). And he carried a picture of his pretty 15-year-old daughter too. But when this 8-year-old gave him a photo of herself, he put it in a drawer. It seems that she wasn't good enough for her daddy.

To be rejected for anything can leave a huge emotional mark on a person’s life. Of course, it depends upon what you are rejected from and why. However, rejection can carry a heavy burden in a person’s life. It would be especially hard to learn that your whole ethnic group or nationality were rejected by God! How worse would it be then if you were chosen by God, yet ignored that election? J. A. Meads Jr. began a sermon with: "The reason you and I cannot ignore God can be stated in one word: Israel. No other nation has been known as a 'chosen people.' No other nation has as much to say about the love, the patience, and the anger of God. Through Israel, God has given the world an object lesson about His nature." Paul understood this quite well. He knew Israel had been chosen of God, and in this “election” God expected His people to live in faith. Paul understood that God’s election is by grace and should never be ignored. Let’s discover why this morning…

READ: Romans 11:1-10

Since the foundation of the Christian church, martyrs have laid down their lives for their faith in Christ. In this generation, thousands of believers have suffered imprisonment, persecution, and death for their faith. “In fact, more people have perished for their commitment to Jesus in the last hundred years than in all previous centuries put together” – Although we may be spared from such costly loyalty to Jesus Christ, we may experience rejection by family and friends, or we may encounter misunderstanding, ridicule, and loneliness. Rejection by people will happen sometime in our life. But for the Christian, rejection by God will never occur. Yet, Paul’s readers were insecure in what Paul was trying to teach them so Paul belays their insecurity by telling them that…

I. God’s election by grace means He has a plan (vv. 1-5)!

1. God can never reject those He loves! Paul’s, “I ask then” is literally, “Therefore, I say.” The apostle’s question is, “Did God reject His people?” In the original Greek the question is asked to elicit a “NO” in reply: “God did not reject His people, did He?” Paul then presented himself as spiritual and physical proof of what he was trying to teach them. He had responded by faith to Jesus Christ and had received God’s provided righteousness, and yet he was an Israelite and of the tribe of Benjamin! If Paul, a faithful Jew, could receive Jesus as Savior, than all Hebrews could! He goes on to relate, “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says…?” If God had kept a “remnant,” a small portion of the Israelite nation during the trying times of Elijah who were loyal to Him by faith, He certainly could do so now! And, in fact, God had done so! He told Elijah, “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In God’s infinite foreknowledge He had done so: “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace!” It is amazing to understand that in His wonderful foreknowledge God has already provided for those who would come to Him! Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37) While we may not know who is part of the “remnant,” God knows. Paul teaches us that God’s election by grace means He has a plan!

EXAMPLE: Calluses can be built up on person’s fingertips through constant use, like when guitarists practice over and over, they will build calluses up that help them to play. The same is true for broken bones. A callus can build up to help the bone heal. However, calluses can also make that are in which it forms, less sensitive. This is why God in Scripture relates that the hearts of the Israelites were hardened like Paul states in verse 7. I can remember practicing and practicing until my fingertips became insensitive to the wire strings of my banjo. It took a lot of time to make them so they could not feel anything. Spiritually this can occur as well when people’s hearts are hardened or callused against God. This is what occurred. God told the prophet Ezekiel, “But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate.” (Ezekiel 3:7) In fact, He goes on to state that He alone will harden their hearts in order to bring about His will. It was God’s plan all along. Paul teaches us that God’s election by grace means He has a plan!

Little children feel the pain of rejection when one of their peers is chosen instead of them to recite a poem or sing a song. As they grow older, some of them are not going to be chosen for the varsity team. Some of them are going to be turned down by a girl they want to date. Some may marry and have their mate leave them for another person. They may wonder why the Lord allows them to be rejected. They may ask, “Was I good enough?” “Did I do enough of the right things?” “How could I have been better?” Paul again relates a wonderful truth to us in the fact that…

II. God’s election by grace means it is never by good works (vv. 6-10)!

1. Being good, is not good enough! After his historical illustration Paul drew a conclusion for his day: “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace (lit., “a remnant according to the election of grace has come to be”).” Paul was only one of thousands of Israelites in his generation elected to faith. Paul added that this choice is totally by God’s grace. He would relate, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) In fact, we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do!” (Ephesians 2:10) Remember Paul had bluntly stated that the Israelites had “pursued [salvation] not by faith but as if it were by works!” (Romans 9:32). Like insecure children, the Jews zealously sought to be accepted by God on the basis of works and the righteousness of the Law (Romans 10:2-3). However, they were not accepted by God through their works; only the “elect” were accepted, because of God’s sovereign choice by grace: “What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened!” It may be disconcerting for us, and I am sure it was for Paul’s readers to grasp, but God’s grace is, remember, by His choice and according to His redemptive plan. God closed the hearts and minds of those who would reject His grace. He “gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day!” The same is true for all who reject God’s grace. While God dulled the acceptance of some, he opened the eyes and ears of others to faith. Paul teaches us that God’s election by grace means it is never by good works!

EXAMPLE: Our dog Molly, when she is caught doing something she is not supposed to, will run to her bed, lay real flat, wag her tail, and look real cute. It is as if she were saying, “See, I am not so bad, am I?” “I am a good dog!” Sadly, there are those who live their faith the same way. They run and hide by doing as many “good” things as they possibly can thinking that “Surely God will love me because I am being good!” “I am not so bad, am I?” While it might be adorable when a little dog does it, it is pathetic when a human being tries to win God’s favor by doing good deeds rather than accepting Him by faith. If good deeds saved anyone Jesus never had to die on the cross and rise from the dead. Paul teaches us that God’s election by grace means it is never by good works.

God’s election by grace means He has a plan, and God’s election by grace is never by good works. Dennis DeHaan writes that, “Many people seem to get along well without God. But just as the world today can't ignore Israel, so also it can't ignore Jesus Christ, who came from Israel. As the One who created the universe, He is God (Colossians 1:15-17). As the One who died on Calvary's cross, He is the world's Savior and Redeemer (vv.13-14). Trust Him to save you today.”

Sunday, February 18, 2007

God’s Wonderful Offer! – Romans 9:30-10:1-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 18, 2007 AM

Recently, Baptist Press reported on a story concerning a “radical new website” that is gaining popularity by “challenging people to deny the existence of God.” It is run by an obtuse atheist, a Mr. Fleming, who claims he “became a born-again Christian when he was 13.” (You can claim you are rational, but it doesn’t mean you are!) The really dim-witted thing is that he is giving away a free DVD on how to be an atheist. You have to go to a web site called YouTube and post a video of yourself denouncing God by saying the phrase, “I deny the Holy Spirit.” The website explains that “the phrase is required because Mark 3:29 says, ‘Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.’” This is so illogical and intellectually ignorant on so many levels. First, if you are truly born of the Spirit you cannot “blaspheme” Him no matter what you say. (Look at the context of Jesus’ teaching.) Secondly, why would a true atheist care what anyone believes? Third, if a real atheist does not believe in God, by simply suggesting to others to denounce Him, you are tacitly saying you believe there is a God to denounce!

Some people really have no idea of the wonderful offer God has given us. Yet Paul did and he teaches us exactly what it meant for the Jews of his day and for us today as well. Let’s find out for ourselves this morning as we discover what Paul teaches about God’s wonderful offer!

READ: Romans 9:30-10:21

Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues at Concerned Women for America, told Cybercast News Service that by arrogantly rebelling against God’s authority, the website I mentioned earlier implicitly acknowledges His existence. Most atheists I have met and spoken with are usually stunted in their intellectual growth. While trying to convince others of their non-belief, one comes away with the clear idea that they are never quite sure of themselves. It comes down to arrogant ignorance of relationship. Like the Jews of Paul’s day…

I. People can be ignorant of God’s wonderful offer (Romans 9:30-10:4)!

1. It does not matter how foolish you are, you can still be saved! Does this mean that the Jews who tried hard to do good things blew it? Good question! Paul effectively says, “Yes.” Why? “Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone,’” Jesus! They were spiritually ignorant. Now in case they misunderstood Paul’s intention here or that he might not care about his own people, Paul retorts: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved!” In fact, Paul could “testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” Like a lot of folks, the Jews had a knowledge of God but it was not a complete knowledge. So like a lot of folks do, who do not have a full understanding of God, they “sought to establish their own” righteousness and “they did not submit to God’s.” Paul knew that “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” It is by faith, not by being good or even in knowing there is a God. See, people can be ignorant of God’s wonderful offer!

EXAMPLE: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. We have all heard that adage. It comes from the Old Testament, by the way. And it perfectly describes what will occur to anyone who takes Fleming seriously and truly believes that they have been lost forever by doing what he suggests. Yet, in fact, the one person who truly could be guilty of what he is trying to describe from Mark’s gospel is Fleming himself, if he does not know God personally. Tragically he will one day discover that God never really knew him at all. God is more than a genie in a bottle or a good old boy that we can just cozy up to and say whatever we want to. Fleming, like a lot of folks do, misunderstood prayer. While prayer is a conversation with the Lord, it is not just any old thing that comes to mind. It is a sacred moment of when you, the created thing, stop, put aside whatever you are doing, whatever you think is important, and whatever is the master of the moment and you give your full attention to the Creator of the universe as you worship and converse with Him. And contrary to what Fleming’s adolescent thinking my be, He does speak back if you listen. The reason that you may not hear God is that you fail to understand His wonderful offer.

Fleming stated, “I loved Jesus and he was my best friend and I talked to him and God all the time,” tells me he misunderstood his relationship. He went on to say, “I have to admit that they never talked back to me, and I think some people would say that God does talk to them and I think they’re not being honest with themselves.” What Fleming is relating to us that he never intellectually got past his own juvenile attitude and attention span. Sadly, there are many adults calling themselves “Christian” who never do. They fail to comprehend their relationship with Jesus and God’s wonderful offer. They remain immature, like Fleming, building their relationship on their selfish terms. The Jews of Paul’s day did the same thing. In fact, we discover that…

II. God’s wonderful offer is on His terms and not ours (Romans 10:5-13)!

1. Today might be the day God offers salvation to you, but it is on His terms! Paul wrote that “Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: ‘The man who does these things will live by them.’” In other words if you believe you can earn your righteousness before God, you will live like it. You will try and try and fail. If you live your faith thinking God is your best buddy, you will live like it (shallow) and fail in your relationship. Just like Fleming did. You will try to relate to God on your terms! However, a “righteousness that is by faith” will not try to “bring Christ down” to your level, nor will it try to “bring Christ up from the dead” over and over again! A works oriented or infantile faith does these very things! Paul asks, “But what does [Scripture] say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart!’” In fact, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved!” We discover that “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” It does not matter who you are, God’s wonderful offer is on His terms and not ours! “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

EXAMPLE: Herein is uncovered the fallacy of atheistic thinking. Whatever they may decry or try to claim, they want their life on their terms and no one else’s. Life revolves around them. They are self-centered individuals. This is why atheism leads to neglect in relationships, situational ethics, and closed-mindedness. Often atheists will try to say they are the ones who are “liberated” in their thinking because they are not held back by believing in things that are myths to them. Yet when all the shine is rubbed off the apple, the truth is atheism is egocentric. It is like the old joke -- QUESTION: How many atheists does it take to screw in a light bulb? ANSWER: What light? I can see perfectly well in the dark. If I do not screw in a light bulb, there can never be light, and if there is no light that means there is no darkness because there is no light! Therefore, darkness is actually light. Besides… I am perfectly happy living in darkness. Paul relates that God’s wonderful offer is on His terms and not ours.

Paul had related to his readers earlier that “For although [people] knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Just like Fleming. He knows about God, he knew God in a literal sense, but never in a truly relational one. In that knowledge Paul tells us they are “without excuse…. what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” Yet they “suppress the truth by their wickedness…. [and] Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools!” (Romans 1:18-22) Trying to get teenagers to “sell their souls,” by blaspheming the Holy Spirit is not only spiritual suicide, it is foolishness in the extreme and arrogant. This rebellious action does not in anyway disprove God nor make Him any less real. Quite the opposite, in fact. So what is the answer? Paul related that…

III. God’s wonderful offer must be offered by those who already know about it (Romans 10:14-21)!

1. With whom have you personally shared God’s offer? After proclaiming God’s gracious offer in Christ, Paul confronted the natural questions that arise, each additional question building on the key verb from the preceding question: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” The answer: ““How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Just like the Israelites, not everyone will accept the good news, the gospel. That is their choice. However, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” The message of the gospel has gone out throughout the entire world! Paul would say that the message of salvation has been heard: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” God has given His wonderful offer to every “nation.” God says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” How is it possible? God’s wonderful offer must be offered by those who already know about it!

EXAMPLE: Baptist Press relates: “Fleming is aggressively targeting teenagers by advertising his site on 25 websites frequented by teens, including Xanga, Boy Scout Trail, Teen Magazine, CosmoGirl and Seventeen, according to Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink.” “As young people are the most vulnerable to religious indoctrination, we feel it is important to reach them with the concept of challenging the doctrine they are told to unquestioningly believe,” says. So far at least 955 videos have been posted, including one from someone named Joel. “My name is Joel. I deny the Holy Spirit, as well as God, Jesus, Buddha, Zeus, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, Sponge Bob, the pope, Santa Clause, Mother Mary, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, Optimus Prime, all the saints and Spiderman,” he says, according to Nightline. What is the answer to this? God’s wonderful offer must be offered by those who already know about it!

People can be ignorant of God’s wonderful offer. God’s wonderful offer is on His terms and not ours! God’s wonderful offer must be offered by those who already know about it!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

God’s Wonderful Choice! - Romans 9:19-29
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 11, 2007 AM

People often have a wrong view of who God is. There are those who want to see Him as a lovable old man sitting upstairs in heaven in a comfy rocking chair benignly looking down on His lovable but bumbling creatures. Then there are others who view God as a malevolent being, gleefully waiting for His creations to mess up just so He can zap them into delightful submission. Still others look at God as an unknowing and uncaring entity. An ultimate being that exists but does not get involved and allows us to live in a universe that He has set spinning into motion, only to live our miserable lives out and then die an ignoble death. None of these views of God is biblical or correct. All neglect the fact of Jesus, God’s Son, coming into the world. The correct way to view God is through Jesus Christ, because when we do we get a better view of God, who He is, and of God’s wonderful choice.

Paul understood this. He did because he personally had a relationship with Jesus as his Savior and Lord. It is only from this kind of vantage point that we can get a clear picture of who God truly is and what He is like. Anything else is but inadequate speculation. It is kind of like trying to describe a baseball game to someone who has never heard of baseball before. Believe me, I have tried to do so. Just as incomprehensible as the rules and nuances of something like a manmade sport can be, imagine what it is like when those who do not know God try to understand Him, or how difficult it can be for those of us who do know Him to describe who He is and how He loves us! In fact, Paul begins to do just that to his Jewish brothers because he longed for them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Paul wanted his readers to understand God’s wonderful choice. Let’s find out how…

READ: Romans 9:19-29

I can remember standing perplexed and horrified at what my Dad had just shared with me. He actually told me that because I was a boy, who was becoming a gentleman, I could not pound into the ground the girl who shoved me at school. When I whined back my disbelief and the unfairness of this “doctrine of Dad,” he replied, “Lee, enough! Real men act like real men, no matter what.” It was part of my father’s mindset. His upbringing and his moral code of conduct. Real men, treated girls and thereby later, women, with dignity and respect. No matter what. In reading the Bible I have learned that God does something similar. He operates within a moral construct. Paul understood this as well and teaches us that part of understanding God’s wonderful choice is found in knowing that…

I. God’s freedom operates within a moral framework! (vv. 19-24)

1. Human logic cannot and sometimes dares not harmonize divine sovereignty and human freedom! Why? Because God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways! (Isaiah 55:8) Yet the question would arise that if God is all powerful and sovereign, “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” Instead of answering with such an obvious response, Paul goes to the heart of the issue when he retorts “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Paul knew that the provisions of God’s grace are boundless, and in knowing that, the “pottery” has no right to question the “potter.” It is absurd. If it is God’s creation, His universe, His plan, then how in the world could the “lump,” the created thing, question the Creator? Humans, however, are not hapless robots because in His infinite mercy God does not totally judge those now that He knows will one day reject Him, nor does He neglect the ones who come to Him freely! Paul states that “What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?” It is God’s choice! Anyone who turns to Him has already received, now receives, and will one day receive divine mercy! God’s freedom operates within a moral framework!

EXAMPLE: I graphically learned the lesson of treating young ladies like ladies when I said something quite unnecessary to my older sister. Now, we could tease one another, make jokes, and even get into scuffles as long as it was done in sibling rivalry and not meant to be malicious. However, one day when my sister, Laili, had been kind of a pill because she could not go be with her friends for the day, she took her dark mood out on Ed and I. Sadly, my father only heard and saw my revengeful act. I can only remember screaming something about her being “ugly,” and that no one in their right mind would want her as a “friend.” And, oh yeah, that her “so-called friends were probably glad she did not go with them, because she was soooo ugly!” You get the idea. I learned several things that day. 1) Check to see if Dad is home or not, 2) Never get so ugly with my words, and 3) Expect my father to teach me how a “correct young man is supposed to act” to his sister. Like I said before, my father had a moral code of conduct. Paul understood that God did too. In fact, so great is God’s, that in His mercy He chose to provide a way for sinful people, who could have cared less, a way for them to receive His mercy! You see, God’s freedom works within a moral framework.

When my father sat me down to discuss with me just how a young gentleman was supposed to act, he shook his head. “Lee,” he related, “I am surprised at you. Are you sure you want to be a part of this family?” (Of course if I had my choice, my sister would have been put up for adoption right then!) After my father’s unsympathetic lecture on how to treat young ladies as young ladies and how young men are supposed to act, I was in tears. I questioningly snuffled up at him, “Can I still be a part of this family?” Surprised, and laughing a bit, he replied, “Certainly! You will always be a part of this family! Even when you act like a little Vandal! You are a Hemen no matter what!” I was glad. The same kind of relief can be found in what Paul is teaching us here in Romans. He tells us that…

II. God freely chooses to make those who are not His people, His people! (vv. 25-29)

1. When God’s eternal covenant was broken by the sinful actions of His people, God provided that His people would ultimately be provided for! Paul uses the examples of Old Testament passages to illustrate this point and bring his teaching into context. The Jews understood that there would be and was only a remnant, a small portion of Hebrews, who had been saved from destruction. Paul deftly and correctly applies this to anyone, Jew or non-Jew, whom now comes to Jesus: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” “Lo-Ammi” means “not my people,” and “Lo-Ruhamah,” means “not the object of my affection.” Paul knew that “they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” Although only a “remnant will be saved,” the Jews would be numerous “like the sand by the sea,” because of all the Gentiles who would be grafted in as chosen people by faith. If this were not true, then the Israelites would be as extinct as Sodom and Gomorrah! It was God’s plan all along. God freely chooses to make those who are not His people, His people!

EXAMPLE: As I went slowly back to my room, Laili was standing by the doorway. I looked up at her and she put her hand on my head. She then grabbed me by both of my ears, pulled my face close to hers, and whispered, “You were the one who was adopted! We found you on the way here from Wyoming somewhere in Idaho! That’s why you are such a spud!” Then she hugged me and gave me quick kiss on the cheek. I went off and got ready for bed knowing that I was indeed part of the family. Who else would have a sister who could one minute infuriate you and then be almost nice! Paul knew that we may not always understand how and why God did what He did, but in His will and way God freely chooses to make those who are not His people, His people. Who are we to question God?

God’s freedom operates within a moral framework! God freely chooses to make those who are not His people, His people!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

God’s Grace Revealed - Romans 9:1-18
February 4, 2007 AM
By Pastor Lee Hemen

People often want to argue the injustice they seem to find in predestination. They think that it is unjust because they do not have a choice, yet they forget the underlying truth of God’s sovereignty. It isn’t a matter of personal choice, which we enjoy, it is a matter of God being omniscient. Knowing all things. Either God is God or He is not. If He is God then He is the one who chooses and not us. He is the one in control and not us. It is His plan and not ours. However the believers, and especially the Jews of Paul’s day, struggled with this concept as well. Why? Because they felt that they were God’s chosen people and therefore should have special privilege in God’s choosing. Paul would say, “Hogwash!” God’s predestination revealed God’s grace.

Recently I listened to a speaker who claimed to be Jewish even though he did not believe in God at all. In fact, he did not believe in religious expression or experience. My immediate thought was, “That is impossible! You cannot say you are Jewish and not believe in God!” Paul has made it plain that the argument of special relationship or kinship held no water. To be a Jew one had to be one inwardly, spiritually. Real spiritual circumcision occurs inwardly, not because you were born a Jew or follow a ritual. What then is the benefit of being a Jew or for that matter claiming to be a Christian if it depends upon predestination? Good question. Predestination is God’s plan and we are all part of it. In fact, it is God’s grace revealed.

READ: Romans 9:1-18

For Paul God’s grace was revealed in knowing that…

I. Spiritual kinship, not ethnic origin, determined who was a true Israelite! (vv. 1-9)

1. Paul was convinced of God’s plan for his people and ultimately for all people! He gives us seven historic and factual examples of God’s plan of predestination for the Jewish people: 1) Theirs is the adoption as sons; 2) theirs the divine glory, 3) the covenants, 4) the receiving of the law, 5) the temple worship and the promises. 6) Theirs are the patriarchs, and 7) from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ!” Paul’s “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” was derived from his knowledge of how God had worked through his “own race” and was now working through Jesus! The anguish came from his knowledge that his own people did not readily accept God’s plan of salvation through the Messiah, Jesus! For Paul, however, because of Jesus he knew that “It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” Why? “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.” “The promise,” for the Jews, “was stated: ‘At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.’” The spiritual truth of this is the fact that anyone can enjoy the blessings of being God’s child through genuine faith in Jesus Christ. That is a true child of Abraham. This was God’s plan all along. Spiritual kinship, not ethnic origin, determines who is a true Israelite!

EXAMPLE: I watch a TV show called “Myth Busters.” It is where a team of people take everyday myths we have heard over and over and test them out to see if they are true or not. They want see if they will really do what the myths say they can do or not. You know, like a man running and hitting a window in a skyscraper and falling to his death. Or, making a cannon out of tree stump. Or, trying to jump out an airplane, land on a rubber raft in mid-air, fall, and be able to land in one piece and slide down a snowy hillside. During these crazy stunts Adam, one of the team, will usually saying something like, “I am so glad when a perfect plan comes together.” What he means is something usually blows up or falls apart. They never know what will ultimately happen no matter how hard they try to figure the outcome. That’s because we do not know the future and there are so may unknown variables. Yet, God knows. He knew that even though He chose the Israelites to be His people, He knew why, and He knew what the outcome would be – Jesus Christ. This was God’s plan all along. Spiritual kinship, not ethnic origin, determines who is a true Israelite!

For Paul God’s grace was revealed in knowing that …

II. God’s favors are not determined by anyone or anything outside of Himself! (vv. 10-18)

1. Election is not dependent up what we do but upon God’s divine purpose! Paul proves that God has the divine right to decide who He calls, how He calls them, and when. It is not dependent upon what we may do. God has known the way it would be long before we came along! He used strong language to get his point across to his Jewish brothers: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” He did not mean God actually hated Esau, but rather used this to get their attention. It was plain to Paul that just being Jewish would not save you. We struggle with God knowing who will be saved and who will not because we place it as predetermination instead of predestination. God does not predetermine, but in His foreknowledge He knows who will and who will not accept His free offer. And He knows His ultimate eternal plan for mankind and all of creation. The same was true with the Israelites. Paul anticipated this objection. God is not unjust. “With the Lord our God there is not injustice of partiality.” (2 Chronicles 19:7) God gives “mercy” and “compassion” on those He chooses. God’s election is based on who He is not on who we are. Even “Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac,” Paul would write. “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls….” He would continue, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” God raised Pharaoh up for “this very purpose” which was “that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” There it is. The reason of God’s predestination that we struggle so much over. His will, not ours. His way, not ours. His thoughts, not ours. God’s favors are not determined by anyone or anything outside of Himself!

EXAMPLE: You may ask, “And this is a good thing?” YES! Because if God worked by predetermination then we have no freewill whatsoever. We are but mere pawns in some cosmic comedy. But in His glorious mercy and grace, God gave us the choice. We, as finite beings have no idea who will or will not choose to follow God. He knows because He is God and He has always known. This does not insinuate He is malicious or uncaring. It means that even in His infinite majesty and power He understood us from all eternity and sent His one and only Son Jesus to die for us! Even… while He knew… who would reject Jesus and those who would say “Yes, Jesus come into my heart. Be my Savior and Lord.” That is awesome! That is powerful! That is cosmic in scope! God is sovereign! God’s favors are not determined by anyone or anything outside of Himself!

Spiritual kinship, not ethnic origin, determined who was a true Israelite! God’s favors are not determined by anyone or anything outside of himself!