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Human Responsibility to Choose (b)

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Human Responsibility to Choose

Romans 10                    January 6, 2002

 

Introduction:

The paper reported yesterday that a 21 year old man in Little Rock, Arkansas, awoke at about 10 p.m. Thursday night to the screams of his 24 year old sister coming from her bedroom.

Actually, she had just called 911, but he ran to her aid and found a man who had kicked in the back door of the house in the process of attempting to rape her.

Before the police arrived he grabbed a kitchen knife and repeatedly stabbed the attacker who died a short time later at a Little Rock hospital.

No charges were filed against him, of course, since he was saving another life, the life of his sister.

You and I would certainly do the same if we found ourselves in this kind of a situation.

We would willingly endanger and even give our own lives if necessary to save those we love.

And this is just like our God who willingly gave his own life through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross that we might be saved.

But there is another element at hand in the story of salvation, and that is whether or not the person in danger actually wants to be saved.

So beyond the question of God's willingness to give his life for those he loves, how far is God willing to go to save someone he loves?

You see, the death of Jesus Christ set the stage for the possibility of salvation for anyone who wants it, but we must respond to that blessed reality in faith.

We must make an active choice, and that leads us to another article from yesterday's newspaper that illustrates that reality in terms of life in the city.


Although winter quite mild, cold has 8th fatality


Many still refuse to go to shelters

By Matthew Walberg

Tribune staff reporter

Autopsy results Friday deter­mined a man found in a vacant West Side lot died of exposure, the eighth such death this win­ter.

The unidentified victim, who appeared to be in his 60s, was found in the 900 block of West Cermak Road at around 6:30 a.m. Thursday, according to po­lice spokeswoman Laura Ku­biak. He was found shirtless, us­ing one coat as a mattress and another as a blanket, she said.

The man was the eighth cold-related death in a winter that has been mild by Chicago stan­dards. There has been less de­mand for emergency shelter this year compared with a year ago, when the city shivered be­tween alternate blasts of snow and frigid temperatures, said Lisa Elkuss, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Ser­vices. A total of 34 people died because of cold weather last winter “Common sense would tell you that those two factors would pose a number of safety factors,” she said.

Elkuss said the city increased the number of beds it has avail-

able to 5,900 this winter, up 400 from last year.

The city’s Department of Hu­man Services offers a host of programs and help for those stranded in the cold. In addition to emergency relief from the cold, many of the shelters offer drug and alcohol treatment, job training and housing programs, Elkuss said.

Anyone in need of shelter can call the city’s non-emergency help line, 311, or go to any police station or hospital. The depart­ment also sends out teams of workers in a partnership with the Department of Public Health, trying to reach home­less individuals. “We can’t make anybody do anything but we try very hard to educate peo­ple on what’s available and en­courage them to take advantage of the services that are there,” Elkuss said.

She estimated that about 10 percent of Chicago’s chronical­ly homeless adults never take advantage of the shelters. “For whatever reason—they’re ei­ther distrustful of the system or they want their independence— all the persuasion in the world is not going to get them to take advantage of the services. That’s the way they want to be, and there’s nothmg in the world that’s going to get them into the shelter system. But we keep try­ing.”


So how far is God willing to go to save those he cares about (and he cares for everyone – even the homeless).

Just like this article, God provides a place of shelter from the time of storm (a warm bed out of the winter cold), but we must take it.

Just like this article, God offers us healing for our lives (drug and alcohol treatment, job training, and housing programs), but we must take it.

Just like this article, God makes it simple (just dial 311 or go to any police station or hospital), but we must take it.

Just like this article, God sends teams out to find the disenfranchised where they live (to educate and encourage about what is available), but we must take it.

And just like this article, there are those who cannot be reached because they do not want to be reached.

This morning's message in Romans 10 (found on page 1760 in your pew Bibles) addresses the question of just how far God is willing to go to save those he loves (and that includes us all).

Specifically, Romans 9, 10, & 11 are about God's program to save his own chosen people, the Jews.

Now that we have come beyond the holidays and begun the New Year, I want to bring our attention back again to where we left off in Paul's letter to the Roman church.

You may recall that Romans 9, 10, & 11 form a kind of parenthetical insert into his logic of explaining our need for the gospel.

These chapters are somewhat of an aside in that they address the "Jewish problem" that his explanation of the gospel raises.

And that problem is just this: that if the gospel is so effective, then why hasn't God saved his very own people through which he chose to reveal himself?

Romans 9 is all about God's sovereign freedom of choice to operate his own divine plan and to save whom he will, when he will, whether we understand it or not since he is God and we are not.

And we affirmed that the way he has chosen to save people is through his only son, Jesus Christ.

It is not God's fault that the Jews have largely rejected their Messiah.

In a sense, the question we addressed in Romans 9 was, "How does God choose whom he saves?"

The answer of course is that God chooses to save all those who have responded in faith to him through the message of his son, Jesus Christ.

For now, the Jews have largely rejected that message, but that will not always be the case. He has not forgotten his people.

For now, he has chosen a mighty work through the gentiles who are responding to him in faith.

So if we understand from Scripture that one day Israel will indeed be saved, then we can ask the other question, "How far will God go to save those whom he desires to save?"

Regarding God's own chosen people, the Jews, he went to the ultimate extent to give his life to save them with the death of his son, Jesus Christ.

But they must still want to be saved. They must make a choice. They must choose life over death. This is the same choice that we must all make.

And that is where we get the title for this morning's message, "Human Responsibility to Choose."

But God is full of grace. He does not just leave us with the death of his son. We will see just how far God is willing to go to save us.

Big Question:

How far is God willing to go to save us?

 

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 1-4)

          B.      Implication

God so desires to save us that he is willing to make his requirements simple.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 5-10)

          B.      Implication

God so desires to save us that he is willing to make himself accessible.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 11-13)

          B.      Implication

God so desires to save us that he is willing to remove all barriers.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four

 

          A.      Narrative (vv. 14-18)

          B.      Implication

God so desires to save us that he is willing to seek us out.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

V.      Cycle Five

 

          A.      Narrative (vv. 19-20)

          B.      Implication

God so desires to save us that he is willing to entice us.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

 

VI.    Cycle Six

 

          A.      Narrative (v. 21)

          B.      Implication

God so desires to save us that he is willing to wait.

          C.      Illustration

Keep the porch light on.

          D.      Application

 

Conclusion:

Big Answer:

How far is God willing to go to save us?

God so desires to save us that he is willing to make his requirements simple.

God so desires to save us that he is willing to make himself accessible.

God so desires to save us that he is willing to remove all barriers.

God so desires to save us that he is willing to seek us out.

God so desires to save us that he is willing to entice us.

God so desires to save us that he is willing to wait.

Timeless Truth:

The only barrier that God has allowed to remain regarding our salvation is our own freedom of choice.

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:14 NIVUS)

 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

 (Joshua 24:15 NIVUS)

 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit— fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 15:16 NIVUS)

But in God's wisdom, by his perfect plan and patience, Israel will one day choose their Messiah, and the world will be transformed by his coming to them.

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