Romans Series #14
Truths about the Potter
READ chapter 9
Truth #1 - If you share the heart of Christ, your heart will hurt deeply for those who don't know Christ, because Christ has a Passion that ALL would come to Christ, while knowing that not all will and it grieves his heart.
A. God Loves, Chooses All
1. The topic of "choosing" and "election" causes SOME to paint a picture of a God that would have called some to Christ and they would have followed him kicking and screaming if necessary and though they breathed out insults and hatred, they would have made their way into heaven, simply because God chose them.
On the other hand someone would have been cast into hell even if the greatest desire of their heart was to follow Christ, simply because God didn't pick them.
2. That is not a picture that I see of Christ. I believe this picture and though it is an understanding that some have, is a not consistent with the picture that scripture paints of God, his purposes, his ways, and his salvation throughout scripture.
3. The God I see in scripture would call ALL MEN to himself if they would simply respond to his call and come to him.
4. We see the passion of Christ for all of Israel to come to him and yet knowing that they wouldn't respond as a nation and come to him with wholesale obedience.
5. If we know Christ and know his heart, we will share this passion. The greater our knowledge and experience of Christ, the deeper this passion.
6. We see it in the heart's cry of Paul here in verse 2
V2 - "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish"
7. Paul didn't get this passion on his own.
a. It was NOT part of his personality make up.
b. Paul didn't have the compassion of an evangelist when he was simply a Pharisee.
c. If this compassion was of his own doing he would have been a Hebrew Missionary to those poor misguided Followers of Jesus.
d. He would have suffered and anguished to convert them back to Judaism. But instead, what did he do? He was dragging them to prison, seeing them beaten, and having them killed.
e. Now, he would trade his own eternity to see his people come to faith in Christ?
f. Hmmm - sound familiar? Where would he have gotten a heart and passion like that? Perhaps from the Spirit of Christ that lives within him?
So would a Christ with this passion, a Christ who wept over the city of Jerusalem be so flippant in rejecting some and embracing others without reason.
B. Context of Predestination
1. Now before we get into Truth number 2 we need to address and Understand the context that Paul's hearers would have received this message
2. In their understanding they would have seen God's "predestination" as to a people group; Specifically to the Hebrews.
God had predetermined that the descendants of Abraham would be distinctly his people.
3. Was it "right" for God to choose these people over all of the rest of the peoples of the world?
Of course it was?
4. Was it right because they were better than other people? NO.
5. Was it right because they had done special things toward God? No.
Was it right because all the other people were worse than the children of Abraham? No.
6. It was "right" because it was a choice made by a God who is RIGHT, and JUST, and Fair!
It was right because he is God and we are NOT.
7. It is right because he is God all by himself.
No one made him, yet he made me.
He made everything and everyone and it was all for his purposes therefore he can do with it what he wants.
8. I'm an "artist". My "craft" is music and words. As an artist I can create with my music however I want can I not?
I can create whatever type of music I want. I can develop whatever types of messages as well right? Wrong, because I recognize a higher craftsman, I understand that I myself and my "art" are simply the product of another artist.
So I am not at liberty to produce whatever I want, because I must produce what reflects the work of MY craftsman, my potter.
Even as an artist, I am simply the clay.
C. NOT Chosen still became "chosen"
1. So, God made a choice to select and draw Israel to himself.
And in the New Covenant he has predestined the Gentiles, people who are NOT HIS people to be HIS people.
2. Does this mean that in the Old Covenant that only the children of Israel followed, worshipped, and knew God? No, there are pockets of people throughout the Old Testament that knew God and followed him.
3. Did God ONLY call or draw the "chosen" seed of Israel to follow him? No, look at the book of Jonah as God called the city of Nineveh to repentance. They listened and repented in obedience and God blessed them with his forgiveness and blessing. That is until they forgot and as a people returned to their old ways.
4. Ruth - "your people will be my people, your God will be my God
5. Rahab - living in a city destined by God for destruction - Jericho - yet her Faith saved her and brought her into the "chosen"
6. Moses' Father-in-law was a priest to God
7. Nebuchadnezzar even confessed the Lord God Almighty late in his life
8. Israel was called a "light to the nations"
a. Zechariah 8:22,23 - "And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him." This is what the Lord Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'"
Just a little - side here - My prayer is that verse 23 will be true of New Life Baptist Church - that people will be grabbing us and saying, "I hear God is with you tell me about him.
b. But if Israel was to be a light to the nations, would God "turn on a light" only to taunt the rest of the world with a spotlight on what they COULDN'T HAVE
c. NO that's not the God we serve
Would the God who says, "I have held out my hands to you all day long, a disobedient and obstinate people" would he then hold out one hand while holding back with the other by saying, "you can't come"
- "COME HERE 'STAY'"
If Jesus Died ONLY for some ELECT PEOPLE then that means at the moment he died to save them, he was condemning all others because there is not and will not be another Savior but Jesus
Yet Jesus said that he didn't come to condemn the world but that they would through him might be saved.
1 Timothy 4:10 says that he is "Savior of all, especially those who believe" in other words he died for all but it is only experienced by those who believe and receive
Truth #2 - God has knowledge and Understanding that we don't have and makes choices based on that knowledge.
1. I don't understand the phrase that says "God hardened Pharaoh's heart" -
2. God used Pharaoh's stubbornness to punish Egypt and then bring about the freedom of Israel.
3. Yet I know that there is no "evil in God". He cannot do evil things. So perhaps God knows something I don't know.
4. Perhaps the creator knows that while Pharaoh had the same opportunity to receive God's revelation, he knew that he would not.
5. God's "hardening" didn't come without Pharaoh's own repeated free rejection of God.
6. So, seeing what Pharaoh would and would not be, God, the Creator chose to use him as an instrument for his own purposes.
a. If I know that a rock will always be a rock and will not be softened, I can let it lie in the woods and leave it alone, however, as I go through the woods, I can choose to pick up that rock and put it in my sling and turn it into a weapon.
b. I can choose to pick it up and grind corn with it.
B. God's Choices
1. Our problem in comprehending the "choices" and "actions" of God is that we see, experience, and understand everything in a linear fashion.
a. you receive God in a linear fashion - God loves you, God draws you, you hear his voice, you follow him, he works his plans in and through you
b. however, God knows everything. God is everlasting, FROM everlasting, TO everlasting. He knows the End Before the Beginning. He knows your choices before you make, them. His knowledge is complete and a perfect present tense. It is as if everything has already happened even before it linearly happens
c. So, while we see that picture from last week's Study in Romans 8 of God's work in us as Linear and Chronological, Foreknew, Predestined, Called, Justified, and Glorified - Yet they are all completed tasks, so God sees them as a finished work.
2. We can get that concept, or perhaps we can't? I don't know, but ultimately we have to admit that we don't really comprehend it in all of its repercussions.
3. Yet in God's Sovereignty and Complete Control over the Universe, he has given man certain "freedom" to make choices.
4. Still our "free choices" do NOT, in any way, limit God's Sovereignty because …
Truth #3 - God's has a purpose and a plan that cannot be stopped by the free choices of man
1. He sees the entire picture
2. He knows every choice we will make
3. He knows the end he is working for and is working backwards
Truth #4 - The Mercy of God is beyond human understanding
A. Worthy of Mercy?
1. We need to hear this passage as a first century Jewish Christian living in Rome would receive it. While they were living in the Grace of Christ, they still fought the often natural human resentment toward "those who we do not feel 'worthy' of the Gospel."
2. Whether it was like the Jews feeling the Gentiles were not worthy because they weren't Jewish, or perhaps thinking the Romans in particular weren't worthy because they were their rulers, and persecutors. There was always a since that someone was not worthy of being a Christian!
3. Like the story of the workers in the vineyard when the were hired at the beginning of the day, and mid-morning, noon, mid-afternoon, and the end of the day. When pay time came, those at the end of the day earned the SAME WAGE as those who had worked hard all day. "THAT'S NOT FAIR" they cried to which the Master said, "I paid you what I promised, it is my vineyard, can I not pay whom and what I choose?
B. God's Shows Mercy
1. God doesn't show mercy like we do
2. if WE were in the mercy business, who would have been left out?
3. if we determined who would be called, who would be left out?
a. there was a man in the region of Geresa, who was nothing but a trouble maker and community menace.
> he was plagued by demons, voices in his head.
> he could not be contained, bound, chained.
> he ran around screaming through the night and lived among the graves/tombs of the dead
> Surely he had no reason, nor chance, for the mercy of God.
> yet when he found himself at the feet of Jesus, even though the demons in him begged to be left alone, Jesus knew his heart, Jesus set him free, Jesus showed him mercy and he was a new man, clothed, seated, in his right mind.
b. there was a man named Saul - he was a smart man, he was wealthy, he was prestigious, but he was a murderer, a persecutor of God's faithful
> Yet in mercy, when he fell at the feet of Christ, blinded by the light of his glory, worthy of God's punishment, God showed him mercy
> Not only did God show him mercy, but God then transformed him, from Murderous Saul to Preaching, Missionary, Teaching Paul.
c. Jesus met a young, wealthy, religious ruler. We don't have his name, but we know that
> he was a good young man
> He was a faithful man doing most of what the law requires, studying the scripture, following the law, doing good to all
> He even came to Jesus asking the right question
> Yet he went away sad, he went away unchanged, he went away without the mercy of God
> We might have given him mercy, surely he deserved it for all of his "goodness" and wealth. Yet Jesus knows his heart and he went away sad
d. Should we line up? Not many of us really had anything to offer him? Why would he show us mercy? Why would he choose to make anything from the lump of clay that we are?
> How can the piece of art from it's perspective make any judgment about the art created from the artwork? How can a toenail on the statue of liberty have any perspective of the beauty of the creation, the art that it is a part of?
> How can a grain on the sands of the seashore understand the beauty of the world of which it's a part? How can a burning ball of gases light years away from here understand the perfect place in our sky that the Lord gave us when he placed it where it is in our galaxy.
> We finally made it to Mars again - we've landed on two different sides and guess what we found? ROCKS, ugly red rocks. What's on the moon? Rocks. But isn't the red planet beautiful in the sky, and doesn't the moon full of rocks, make a beautiful marble in the sky?
3282 The Human Cell
There are several trillion hard-working cells in every person.
A cell is so small it takes 250 of them, placed side by side, to equal the diameter of a dot. Inside the membrane of each cell, swimming around in the cytoplasm, are about 200 of these wiggling, squirming particles, each one a living and active chemical laboratory, a food and energy factory.
Inside of each of these cells are about 200 wiggling mitochondria. Each one of these would be about 1/50,000th the size of a globe as big as a dot! Inside of each mitochondrion are hundreds of small "spheres" scattered along stalks in the mitochondrion. Each sphere is about 1/1,000th the size of the mitochondrion! So, each sphere would be about one-five-millionth (1/5,000,000) the size of a dot! Each of these tiny spheres is a chemical factory, with a "production line" that produces energy and food for the cell. This is such a marvel of smallness and intricate complexity that it stretches one's imagination even to try to think of it.
4. We can't understand God's creation even though we are part of it, so how can we begin to understand or question his mercy and purpose in mercy
So what do we do when we don't understand? TRUST, MY CHILD, TRUST
Truth #5 - We will never understand the choices, the ways, or the moves of God but we can completely and eternally trust God when we understand and even more when we don't understand.
1. The funny thing is that if we fully understand Paul's analogy of us as Clay, Created beings under the hand of a Potter creator, we can understand just how little we know.
2. We have become sooo "SMART" that we expect to figure it out.
3. We expect it to fit into our understanding. So, we hate it when we can't figure it out and we will argue to great lengths how our understanding of things is right!
4. But we are CLAY - we are in the middle of creation.
5. We are in the middle of a history that we don't and won't understand until we see it through the eyes of heaven and the understanding of our renewed minds, likened to the mind of Christ.
6. We need to humble ourselves, from intelligent, theologians, who have it all figured out to embrace that we are simply clay.
7. We are prized clay. We are above all of his other creations, we are a little lower than the angels, we are the apple of his eye, but we are still clay!
8. rather than argue that God is out there picking you and rejecting someone else, embrace that he has chosen a body called the church and you and I can become part of his chosen if we receive him by faith. You can trust him to "choose" you if you respond to his call to you.
John 14:1 - Don't let your hearts be troubled, Trust in God, trust also in me
Psalm 118:8 - It is better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in men"
1? To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; ?2? in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. ?3? No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. ?4? Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; ?5? guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.