Luke 7:1-10 Jesus is the Son of Man Faith and Authority

Luke 7:1-10

Jesus is the Son of Man

Faith and Authority

 

All right, please turn in your Bibles with me to Luke chapter 7. We are continuing through our walk through the Gospel of Luke. Each of the Gospels, as you read through them have a bunch of little subsections that we go through. They are each the life and more accurately the ministry of Jesus and so each section and subsection have a different setting or a different focus or whatever.

We just finished a section of Jesus teachings called the Sermon on the Plain. In this teaching, Jesus focused on showing us that our hearts need to be turned to love, whether our friends, our enemies, those who treat us well or those who treat us like dirt. To do this, w must use our wisdom and discernment that comes along with having our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit and living a life of Faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus finished off by telling us that if we do the things that he taught, it will show up in our actions. Jesus talked, he taught, and he used words. Now, he will be showing those things, teaching us with his actions.

Words and actions go hand in hand. If they don’t, there is a disconnect, there is an inaccuracy between what we say we believe and what we actually believe. And as we touched on last week, this is not talking about a single event, or a moment in time. All Christians will sin. We all fall short of the standard that God has set for us.  But this is talking about looking at the totality of someone’s life, or more importantly, our own life. And that disconnect is a huge sign that we need to pay attention to.

So, with hat thought in mind, that our actions need to match our words, lets look at some words. This week’s passage is Luke chapter 7, verses 1-10. As usual, Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation as we read what the Word of God has to say.

Luke 7:1-10, Luke records the works of Jesus, writing:

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant[a] who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion[b] heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

So, WE see Jesus spent chapter 6 teaching his disciples and followers. Here, as he finished up his teachings, he went into town. In this town, Capernaum, there was a Roman Centurion there who had a problem.

Centurions were military officers at that time. I’ve heard them compared as an equivalent rank of Captain. He would have been in charge of 100 or so men, hence the name Centurion, as in Century, as in 100. Now, it was rarely exactly 100, but that was the idea.

RC Sproul points out that every time we see a Centurion mentioned in the New Testament, they are men of good character. We see this in here in Luke 7:4. In Luke 23:47, in Acts 10:2 and in Acts 27:43.

 

This Centurion had a servant who was very sick. How sick? Well, lets remember that Luke was a physician. And he confirms that the servant was sick to the point of death. He was dying. There was nothing left to try, nothing left to do besides wait.

And we see that this was not just a slave to the Centurion. This was not some whipping boy or an errand runner. This was not just a servant. This reads to me like the Centurion and the servant were close friends. He would have meant a great deal to the Centurion, not as a commodity, but as a person.

This Centurion had heard of Jesus. He had heard of the healings. He had heard of the teachings of Jesus. He had heard of the sings and wonders that Jesus had performed. He knew that Jesus could heal his servant.

And what we are going to see next is three different perspectives. We are going to see the Jewish perspective. We are going to see the Centurions perspective and we are going to see Jesus perspective.

The Centurion sent some Jewish elders to speak to Jesus. That they would, speaks, again, to the character of the Centurion. And they did. The Jewish elders went to Jesus and pleaded the case of the Centurion. They tried to show how he was worthy. This is the Jewish perspective. They are applying merit to him, trying to show that he should have right standing before God based on merit, based on his good works.

They said, this man is worthy! He is a good man! He loves the Jewish Nation! We see that he did help build the Synagogue, presumably the one in Capernaum.  This perspective is one we see through society today. I’m good enough. I’ve done enough. I’ve given enough. That will earn my place in heaven.

Now, we know of course, that this isn’t true. This perspective is wrong. None of us can ever be good enough, do enough, give enough or anything to be worthy of the grace and mercy of God.

During this time, there were folks known by the Jewish people as “God Fearers.” These were Gentiles who believed in and seemed to worship the True God, but who did not convert to Judaism.

Was he saved by Grace? Was he that we would call a Christian in the way that we would call Abraham or Noah for example? IT appears at this point possible, if not likely.

Jesus obviously saw something, so he headed to this Centurion. Before Jesus got there, the Centurion sent some friends to intercept him. The Centurion, either had a change of mind and heart, was embarrassed because he didn’t know that the Jewish elders would promote his supposed worthiness. His message to Jesus started with “I’m not worthy.”

Then the Centurion recognizes, acknowledges and defers to Jesus authority. He knew Jesus was able to not only heal, but that he could heal from a distance, with just his word.

As a Roman military officer, the centurion would have had a great deal of power and authority at that time. Rome was occupying and ruling over Israel at that time and would have had absolute authority over any Jews that he wanted to order around any Roman soldier underneath him. He says this, “I know authority, I command someone and the do it. Period.” This centurion didn’t have to defer to anyone or show respect to Jesus, but he did.

HE recognized the authority within Jesus because he had authority himself. This is the centurion’s perspective. His authority was less than Jesus. He knew that all authority was handed down and given by God.  He was not worthy for Jesus to come all the way to his house.

This Centurion understood grace better than most of Israel did. He understood grace better than most of the church today does. He knew that anything Jesus would do was not because he was worthy in any way, not because he deserved it, but because the LORD is merciful and full of Grace.

Jesus was marveled at the Centurion. Scripture only shows us two times that Jesus was marveled. The first was in Mark 6:6, where Jesus marveled at unbelief in Nazareth. This is the second time, in the faith of a foreigner.

Every religion in the world, including the so called no religions, every religion in the world says do good, be good. They all have their own definition on what being and doing good looks like, but they all have the same call. Be good, do good and you will be accepted, by a god, by society, by friends and family, by who and whatever. Be and do good and be accepted.

Except we can’t be good enough. And that might sound like bad news. Except it is actually good news. We don’t have to be good enough. Jesus flips the script on this line of thinking. He says you are accepted, therefore, be and do good.

The Centurions faith here becomes the focal point. This is Jesus perspective. And he especially contrasts it with general Israel. One of the big points that Jesus makes in his Gospels, one of the biggest beliefs that Israel held that Jesus refutes is that, As Paul writes in Romans 9, not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring.

Not all who play the part, are a part of the family of God. Not everyone who is an Israelite is a child of Abraham. Not everyone who is a member of a church is a member of THE Church. Not everyone who says LORD LORD will be saved. This puts into action what we saw Jesus talk about last week.

The faith of the Centurion marvels Jesus. IT should marvel us as well, because it shows that faith, true faith can save anyone. We should not presume our salvation, but Paul writes in Philippians 2, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

We should not presume, but we can have assurance. John writes in his letter, I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

It is by the grace of God alone that he gives faith. It is that faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that offers us salvation. Part of what we read this morning, Hebrews 11:1 & 6: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Jesus calls on us to repent and believe the Gospel. Belief is required, but belief is only a part of faith. Faith is that deeper, that heart knowledge, the words paired with actions.

The scripture uses faith and belief interchangeably. John also famously writes, John 3:16-21:

“For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

The centurion had faith that Jesus was able to do what he had heard he could do. It appears that the centurion had faith that Jesus was who he said he was and had true saving faith. His salvation would come as a gift from God, not as a reward for something he did, or who he was, but because of who Jesus was.

David Gooding says this about salvation: salvation is not granted on the basis of man’s good works, worth or merit. It is given on the grounds of faith. And faith according to this story, is not confidence that we have done the best we could, that God will assess our merits generously; faith is abandoning trust in our works and merit and any thought of deserving salvation and relying totally and without reserve on the Person of Christ and the authority of his Word.

 

It is out faith in Christ and our faith in his word that drives us to bey and to follow.  Jesus says that our faith, the faith that saves is faith in His work on the cross, on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now, each month we remember Jesus sacrifice, his shed blood and his death on the cross. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Before he did this, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis, we celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Luke’s Gospel records the Last Supper, and he writes of Jesus telling his disciples in chapter 22, verses 19& 20: He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after super, he took the cup, saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

Romans 13:1-7 God Ordained ALL Government.

Romans 13:1-7
God Instituted ALL Government

Good Morning! Please go ahead and grab your Bibles with me, and open up to Romans chapter 13. If you do not have a bible or do not own one, please grab one from the back table as our gift to you.
So, Romans 13. This is a tough section to teach and preach on, and frankly, it’s a tough section of scripture to read for me. This is because of my personal political views, and what I know about some of your guys political views.
To briefly recap, we are in a section of Pauls letter to the churches in Rome where he is talking about living out our Christian Faith. And our living right and acting right, living out our Christian faith is predicated on right doctrine, or accurately knowing what the Word of God says.
We can live right in front of God without knowing what he is telling us. It doesn’t come from our feelings. It doesn’t come from our opinions. It doesn’t come from what we want our think or feels good to us. It comes from what God says and this here, the bible, is his Word to Us.
You know, last week, Ron Sallee was here and he talked about the need for accurately knowing what Gods Word said. He read from Amos and showed us that there is a spiritual famine coming in the land. It comes from not knowing, not disciplining ourselves and nor wanting to know what the Bible says.
And so, we need to make sure that we are submitting our thoughts, views, actions and priorities underneath what the bible says.
To set the scene a little bit here for these 7 verse we will be looking at this morning, There was a lot, and I do mean, ALOT of governmental opposition to the spread of Christianity for the first 300 or years until Constantine, Emperor of Rome, converted to Christianity. We could debate back and forth about whether that was ultimately good or bad for Christianity or whether he really was or was not a Christian, but one thing we can historically see is that this stopped persecution of Christianity for a time.
Before then, well, lets just say it was rough. 11 of the 12 Apostles were violently martyred. The twelfth, John, the one whom Jesus loved, survived being boiled alive in oil and was sent to live in exile on an island.
The book of Acts covers much of the rough time the Apostles had and especially Paul as he simply went to share and preach and teach the Gospel. To really look at what Paul has to go through, check out what he writes in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 showing just a bit about how much He went through, and especially persecuted against.
So we see government opposition in the Early church. We see it throughout the first couple of hundred years of Christianity. We see it through out the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church was persecuting any lay person with a Bible, those who were trying to translate the Bible and those who believed and taught that salvation was through grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as revealed in the scriptures alone and all to the Glory of God alone. We see it through out the world today, in places like China, where the church is very much illegal and pastors are being arrested. We see it in areas of the Middle East & Northern Africa where people are being imprisoned for claiming faith in Christ and for sharing it with others.
We don’t yet see that in out Country, not to anywhere close to those levels. We are starting to see some of the beginnings of it. We are starting to see the social outcasting of historical, biblical beliefs. We see the legislating of unbiblical and anti biblical ideas, behaviors and worldviews. But we are just beginning to see those in our country compared to around the world today.
So, remember what things were like for Paul, and for the apostles, for the early church, we remember the context of which this letter and this section especially was written. And it with those conditions of governmental persecution against the early church that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write these 7 verses.
So, lets read Romans 13:1-7. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and please follow along in your Bibles as we read. Romans 13:1-7
Paul writes:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
I don’t know about you, but I know for me, that’s hard to hear and that’s hard to read, especially at specific times and with specific political dynamics.
Heres what we know. God created this world, he created all of his creation with order. He created us and his creation with a natural hierarchy. He created us to submit to the things that are in authority over us.
We know this because we are created in his image and the trinity shows submission. For example, Jesus, God the Son, completely equal in every way to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. And yet, he willingly submits himself to the will and authority of God the Father (Luke 22:42, Hebrews 10;7, 1 John 4:10)
So, being created in his image, we are made to submit to authority. And our highest authority is, of course, God. And we do see, an example of that in Acts chapter 5. Peter and John were arrested for a second time and brought before the high council. We read in Acts 5:27-32:
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
We must obey God rather than men. WE are going to come back to that shortly. But here we are still establishing the point that there is a hierarchy in the levels of authority. And we are all called to submit to all the authorities above us. Scripture shows us that wives are to submit to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22. Christians are to submit to their pastors in Hebrews 13:17 and citizens are to submit to their rulers in 1 Peter 2:12. This is but a very small list of a few of the ways that we are called to submit.
One of the problems is that this goes against the very core of who we are as Americans. We became a nation by rejecting the authority of our sovereign rulers. The individualism we see around us today, the “all about me,” attitude that is becoming more and more prevalent, everyone who is more worried about their rights than their responsibilities, the very thing Paul was teaching against in ch 12, all have grown out of the founding fathers fighting against and rejecting the authority that was governing over them at the time.
Dont get me wrong here, it made us into a great nation. Maybe the greatest nation the world has seen. But as this attitude and mindset grew and morphed, it may well have cost us our soul. See, this is our fleshly natural desire. This is what started with Adam and Eve in the Garden, to throw off the authority over them, to be their own authority. And we have been doing it ever since. Rebelling against the authority over us and trying to be our own authority.
But God says that we are to submit to authority. And verse 1 right here, all authority has been instituted and ordained by God. This is specifically referring to governing authorities, to governments. One of the things that this means is that, in America, whoever is voted in as president, is your president whether you like him or not. That means that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were your presidents. It also means that George W Bush was and Donald trump is your president, whatever you think of them, of their policies, of their religion or of their private lives. What this doesn’t mean is that all governments or leaders follow God and do what is right all the time.
But God puts rulers and governments in place, he puts rules and laws in place for our benefit. We look to the Old Testament and we see the laws that God handed down, the 10 commandments and we see that God did not hand them down, did not institute them to restrict us or to punish us, but he gave them over because he knows whats best for us.
He is not interested in our happiness, but in our holiness. Thats what us submitting to his authority will bring us. Romans 8:29, Paul writes that he brings us through things so that we may be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, as in made Holy and righteous.
But we rebel against that. We rebel against God and his graces by sinning and going against his commandments and his laws. But we also rebel against God by going against Gods ordained and instituted governments. RC Sproul says it this way, “Rebellion against the authority implies rebellion against Gods ordinance.”
Because what Paul says here, as we see that the purpose of the laws that God is for our benefit, so too the purpose of government is for societies benefit. Governments and rulers are put in place to protect & reward the good and to punish and restrain the evil. They are to be a terror to be bad conduct.
This is the case with all governments. This is especially the case, of course, if the rulers and the governments know God and are following him. But this is true and accurate for non christian governments as well. The only difference being what their view of right and wrong is. But often, when the government is instituting and enforcing laws, the general outcome is that if you act good and follow the rules, it will be good for you, if you do evil and/or rebel against the authority it will be bad for you.
Another part to this is that God is showing that the government has the right to enact capital punishment. This can be a controversial topic, but Paul writes in verse 4 that if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Now, there are some very clear and important limits on capital punishment in the scriptures. I don’t know if you noticed, but we actually looked at some of them the last few weeks. Romans 12:19,  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. This is showing that it is not for us as individuals to take vengeance into our own hands. So called vigilante justice, despite, I’ll be honest, sounding really good sometimes, goes against what Gods Word says.
We also saw that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter 5 addressed the Old Testament teaching of An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth. Remember Jesus pointed out that this was, again, not for us as individuals to take part of, but it was used in the Old Testament in a legal setting. Not only that, but another one of Jesus big points in this was that we need to be careful that the punishment fits the crime.
Governments are not just given free rein, with no restrictions, no rules. God gives limits to their responsibilities and their powers. Capital punishment is not an across the board thing. It is not for any and all crime. It is not for without due process and it is not for whatever the Government decides to make it for.
Thats part of the thing we need to remember if we want to have a conversation about capital punishment. Yes, the concept is biblical. But we need to make sure that the application and the practice are as well. That is not being done in this country unfortunately. Too many states have too many different parameters and studies show that across the board, different verdicts can get handed down for the same crime.
But again, one of the biggest takeaways is that God has ordained that governments are allowed to administer appropriate punishment for breaking the laws that said government instills.
As we saw earlier, we have the dual responsibility to submit to the laws and authority to the government that God put in authority over us. Paul says here in verse 5, Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
But we also have the dual responsibility to put Gods laws ahead of mans. Again, for the sake of conscience. So, if or when, depending on your viewpoint, the government decides to outlaw the Bible, or make it illegal to hold biblical viewpoints, if government persecution gets to the point where it is in China, in Iran, in parts of Northern Africa, if it gets to the point where it was in Paul’s day, then we have a duty, an obligation to follow Gods laws. We will and are obligated to continue to preach and teach the bible. We are to continue to read our bibles and hold on the truth that is within.
Here the thing we forget though. WE stand up for Gods laws ahead of mans and man has every right to administer appropriate punishment. We break the law, we go to jail. Thats the way society works. Yes, we stand up to unjust laws. Yes we do what the bible tells us to. But if we break the laws, whether just or unjust, we need to understand that we will face the consequences and we should not be surprised to spend time in jail for it. Again, I’m not telling you not to stand up against unjust laws, laws that go against God, I’m saying there are consequences for doing so.
Paul finishes up this section, again, sounding much like Jesus’ teachings. Verses 6 & 7 are not things most of us want to hear.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
It pains me to read this and to say this but God says that we are to pay the taxes that our Government tells us to pay. Stinks, huh? Especially here in California? Now, again, that doesn’t mean that we don’t speak out against what we see as excessive or unfair taxes. Speak out absolutely. Get involved in trying to change things that you think, from a biblical view, need to be changed. Do what you can to ge the leaders, our representatives to listen and put policies, procedures and all that into place that you think are right and fair.
But we pay taxes to whom they are owed. Luke 20:21-25, Jesus addresses this. Remember that Israel was occupied by Rome at that time. The Jews didn’t want to acknowledge roman authority and Rome wanted to take as much money as possible and to exert as much authority as possible. So the Jews wanted to know, would Jesus side with Rome or Israel?
Luke writes:
they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality,[d] but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius.[e] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Now there is also a lot in that passage for a different day, but notice what Jesus says here. Romes authority is legitimate. The money they use is issued by Rome. So give it to them. You are issued by God. Give yourselves to Him.
Rome had authority over them, but it didn’t give them their authority, nor did it own them. If their identity was true, if their faith was real, nothing Rome did to them could take that away.
Who are you? Who has given you your identity? Is it the government? IS that who defines you and is that who you ut your trust in? Unfortunately, for too many today, that is the case. God put the government in place for the benefit of society, but it can not define us, it can not give us our identity and it will not and cannot save us.
Jesus Christ is the one who gives us our identity. The term Christian means Christ follower. We obey the government that he gave us, but He is who we follow. Before hand, it doesn’t make any sense, I know. I was there. I am an American. I dont need anybody to save me. I dont need to submit to any authority.
But once we submit ourselves to Gods authority, we surrender ourselves to him, we trust in Jesus Christ and the work he did, dying on the cross and raising from the dead. Then the Holy Spirit comes in and seals us, transforms our heart and opens our eyes. Now we have a new identity. Now we are no longer sinners. We are no longer who others tell us we are. We are no longer who we tell ourselves we are . We are no longer defined by our race, by our ethnicity, by our national citizenship, by our political leanings, by any of it.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t have any of those things anymore. We still are American. We still are white, black, hispanic, asian, Native American. We are still Republican or democrat or other, conservative, liberal or moderate. Those things play into making us who we are, and we can celebrate them, but they do not define us. They are not our identity.
We belong to Christ. Our citizenship is no longer of this world, but in the city which has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10) We are citizens of the Kingdom of heaven, though we do not yet reside there. Jesus prayed that we would be in the world but not of it. (john 15:19) While we are in this world, we have a duty and a responsibility to care for it, to seek to do right and to preach, teach and live the Bible. Jeremiah 29:7 reads: But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Lets Pray.

Romans 9:13-29, pt 1 Answering Objections to Gods Sovereignty

Romans 9:14-18

Objections to Gods Sovereignty

Good Morning! Please turn with me in your Bibles to Romans Chapter 9. If you don’t have a Bible, if you do not own one, we have a couple on the back table there that we would love for you to have. If you do not own a Bible, please let that be our gift to you.

Now, as we get into what Paul is writing here in Romans chapter 9, it is easy for us to have the intellectual answers and responses, but it is much harder to have the right, true emotional, instinctual and reactionary answers and responses.

We look at what Paul has been showing us about God, not only over the course of the last chapter and a half, but over the last 9 chapters, building from the beginning of this letter and still continuing to build as he writes chapter 9 here.

Paul is hammering home the point, in many different ways, with many different applications, that God is completely and totally sovereign. That what he has determined, not just seen, but determined before the beginning of time has zero chance of not happening. That God has chosen, strictly in his Goodness, His grace and his Mercy, He has chosen to save some of us from the eternal punishment deserved from our rebellion against him and our sin.

That doesnt always sit well with us. In fact, in our emotions and our human understanding we do whatever we can to reject this idea. We reject what God has clearly taught. We call him a liar. We say that things are not fair because we dont understand them. We attack Gods character.

Ultimately, we dont want to come under authority, and God demands that we submit to his authority. In all this, human objections to Gods authority, to his will, to his goodness and fairness pop up all the time. Romans chapter 9 addresses 3 of those such questions. We addressed the first one last week.

God promised Abraham that his descendants would be the recipients of the promise. Not all of the Jewish people, the physical descendants of Abraham, were saved. So then, has Gods Word failed? No! We, in our human wisdom, see the promises that God makes and assume they will be fulfilled in a certain, specific way. God says otherwise.

In this case, the promise is not made to the physical descendants, though they have many advantages, but to the spiritual descendants, all who believe in Christ. All whom God has called to him, will receive the fulfillment of the promise of God and Gods Word will not have and has not failed.

This morning we will take a look at two more of those objections. Overall, we will end up looking through verse 29. We are going to start with verse 13, which we also touched on last week, some of that overlap I was mentioning. We will start with verse 13 and in this first section and read through verse 18, looking at the first objection. Romans chapter 9, verses 13-18. Paul writes:

As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

So, in its essence, the argument here is that it is unfair for some people to be saved and for some to not be saved. The argument usually comes along like this, “It is unfair for God to choose to save some and not choose to save others.”

Now, if you think this as well, if this question, or objection is a struggle for you, or if you hear this objection and want to know how to respond to it, or if you have any other questions and objections, or hear from others various questions and objections, I’m going to show you today how we answer and respond to those questions. It’s the same way Paul responded to those questions and objections.

We look at what the Bible says.

Simple and clearly. What does Gods Word say? If we limit it to that question, we can see the answers to our questions very easily. Paul here, very simply answers this objection. He says, “No, it’s not unfair, nothing about God is unfair!”

And Paul shows that this is what Gods Word says. Many places, in many ways. Now, we see that said very simply and clearly, but, who wants to raise their hand right now and say, “But God…” But you don’t know my situation. You don’t know what I’ve been through. But my brother, but my sister. But my child, but my grandchild…

That answer God gives us through out scripture, the answer that Paul gives us here is simple and clear. We make it complicated. Our sin nature, that we are all born with, makes it complicated. This fallen, broken world makes it complicated. When I read this, I make it complicated. Im willing to wager, more often than your willing to admit, when you read this, you make it complicated.

The answer is simple. The situation, the context, the application can all be complicated. So let’s try to keep this simple.

Hope brought up a point this week. We were watching something together this week, I don’t even remember what it was. But it was a couple of episodes of something in a row. She went to skip one of them. At some other point in time, she had seen the end of the episode, the last few minutes or so. She knew what happened, She had been spoiled to the ending. That ever happen to you? See the end of something before you see the whole thing? Or someone spoils the twist, the surprise of a movie you have been waiting to see? Whats the point of watching it then, right?

God never gets spoiled in that way. He is never surprised by the ending. And it isn’t because he sees the whole picture, it isn’t even because of his omniscience, his knowledge of everything. God does not see the episode or movie all at once and know the future if you will. No, God wrote the script. He wrote it with the ending already in mind. He wrote the ending, and in a way, it is the purpose of the story.

Again, it’s not that God sees all and knows all, but he determines all. He creates all. He has authority over all. He gets to determine what happens, he gets to determine when it happens and he gets to determine who it happens to. He and he alone has the right, the ability and the authority to determine anything, let alone everything.

God says, simply and clearly, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” and Paul again, makes crystal clear that because of this, it is based on God, his mercy and his character, his perfect mercy and his perfect character, and not on anything about us, no human exertion, no human will. His mercy is based on him and him alone.

Paul bring sup Pharaoh. It is interesting to me. We see Pharoah in the beginning of the book of Exodus. Pharaoh was again and again presented with the truth of Gods Word and with Gods plan and Pharoah continually rejected it. It’s very telling, I believe that the language the Bible uses alternates between Pharaoh hardening his own heart, and God hardening Pharaohs heart.

They are both used. They are used interchangeably. And they are used with no difference. The Bible makes no distinction between God hardening his heart and Pharoah hardening his own heart. And I think that’s a key thing to keep in mind when we remember and acknowledge Gods sovereignty and authority. It doesn’t take away our responsibility.

John Piper says, Results are God’s business. Obedience is ours. And this is true obedience that he is talking about here. This is not checklist obedience. This is not righteousness based on obedience. This is an obedience out of love, out of thankfulness, out of passion and out of submission to a greater authority than ourselves.

That means obeying to the best of our ability. That means obey, not just enough, but all the way. That means obey just like we love, with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

That means that we plant seeds. We plant them with love and passion. We plant them anywhere and everywhere. We plant them in all times and places because we don’t know which ones he will water. We don’t know which one will be on rocky ground, on shallow soil, on fertile ground. We don’t know who he is calling to himself. We do not know the end of the movie, who gets saved and who doesn’t. God knows because he wrote the movie. God knows because he determined it.

And He determined it for a specific purpose. Look back at what Paul quotes, what God said to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

To the Glory of God alone.

The purpose of Gods revealed will. To show his power in us so that his name might be proclaimed in all the earth. This specifically is not talking about salvation. That would be real easy to take out of context. God shows his power in us, his followers, us healing people and doing miracles so that we can bring people to Christ. That would be a wrong interpretation and application of this text.

God raised up Pharaoh. He made this man the most powerful man in the world at that moment in history. He put him in charge of the greatest nation in the world at that point. And he hardened his heart. Pharaoh was not and would not be a believer. He would not know Gods mercy and grace. And God used him, in his wickedness, in his evilness, in his sin, to show Gods own power. He showed his power for his own glory. He showed us power so that his name would be proclaimed in ALL the earth.

He showed us his power because one day, in the end, all will eventually submit to Gods authority. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is LORD. But not all will bow and confess in time.

God is for God. All of Gods choices, while he works all things together for the good of those who love him, all of Gods choices are made to glorify himself. All of Gods choices are made with the perfect knowledge of a perfect God, who is perfectly good, perfectly merciful, perfectly just, perfectly perfect. There is no unfairness in God.

Just because we can’t see everything he sees, doesn’t mean he is wrong. Just because we don’t see everything he determines, doesn’t mean he doesn’t determine it. Deuteronomy 29:29. The secret things belong to the LORD. He doesn’t reveal everything to us. He is under no obligation to.

That doesn’t change our responsibility, shouldnt change our obedience. There is quote that is often sourced to Charles Spurgeon that says: If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.’” Jesus says, “and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Results are Gods business. Obedience is ours. To be obedient, we need to submit. To be obedient, we need to acknowledge his authority. In order to rightly obey, we need to forsake any authority that we think we have the right to lay claim to.

We insert what we think is our right to have authority over or in place of God in a number of ways. Lets start with this. What is the name that God has given himself in the Scriptures?

Gods name, Yahweh, translates I AM. I am what? Thats part of the problem. We want to finish what we see is an incomplete sentence, an incomplete description. But for God, I AM is a complete sentence. For us, we try to fill in the blank, we speak for God where he has not spoken.

We try to label God, to conform him to what we want or what we expect. We do what we have no right to do. We do what we have no authority to do. Only God has the authority to define himself. Only he has the authority to declare what is true. And he has. And he has revealed to us what he has declared true. He has given us his inspired word, inerrant, infallible and fully sufficient. He has given us the Bible.

This book, his Word, reveals all that is needed to be revealed for us to do what we are supposed to do. It is fully sufficient for matters of life and faith. And it gives us the answers that we need. It does not always give us the answers we want. That works two ways. Sometimes it is silent, not answering the questions that we ask of it. More likely, more often, it answers the questions we ask. It answers simply and clearly. But it does not give us the answers we want.

We can intellectually and verbally affirm we believe that the bible is true, fully true and completely true, but if we take Gods answers and we change them to fit what we want them to say, then we are not being obedient to God. We are not submitting to his authority.

When Paul answers this objection, that God is unfair because some are saved and some are not, when Paul tells us there is nothing about God that is unfair, and that all his choices, which are not dependant on human will or exertion, but on God himself, when Paul shows us that simply and clearly that God is completely and totally sovereign and has planned all things out before time began, and that ll his choices and decisions and determinations are done for His Glory and His Glory alone… When Paul tells us that, we don’t like it.

It can trigger some fatalism in us. Thats the attitude that, since God has predestined it all, I don’t have to actually do anything. I don’t have to submit. I don’t have to obey. I don’t have to evangelize. I don’t have to repent. I can continue to sin. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, Eat, Drink, for tomorrow we die.

God squashes that pretty hardcore if you read anything in the Bible. Gods sovereignty does not negate man’s responsibility. Gods sovereignty does not negate your responsibility.

This is the next objection that Paul responds to. Dealing with what responsibility we have and why should we bother doing anything. We will dig deeper into that next week.

As we come close to finishing up this week, want to come back and emphasize, we don’t always like what God says in his Word. We don’t have to. We do have to submit to it.

We have to do what he has told us to do. He doesn’t make that optional. And when we are saved by God, when he has chosen to show us mercy and compassion, we want to do what he tells us. Not in order to achieve righteousness, not to earn favor or salvation, not to be worthy of mercy and compassion, but because he has already shown it to us.

We are not saved by obedience or by works, or by human will or exertion. But we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, by Christ alone, as revealed in scripture alone, all to the glory of God alone.

We show that salvation, we show our faith with obedience, with works, with our human will and exertion, powered by the love of Christ which compels us.

That means that we put to death the sins that live inside us. In our salvation, our sins have been crucified and we are new creations. Our sins have been forgiven and we are to pursue holiness and sanctification. But they have not all been driven out.

We still have sin inside us. They can include sins that we are working through, trying to drive them out. They can include sins we don’t want to let go of. They can include sins that we have hidden or denied so much that we don’t recognize them as sins. What sins are you hiding from others, including yourself? What sins are you justifying based off your situation, your circumstances? Or based of what you want the Bible to say instead of what it actually says.

Anger, pride, sexual immorality, apathy, indifference, idolatry, and so much more. But not only killing sin, but also, in the positive, doing the good works that God has prepared for us. Creating disciples, do justice, love kindness, taking care of widows and orphans, sharing the good news of the Gospel, studying the Word, praying and so much more.

Gods word is clear. What he says is often and mostly simple and clear. Allister

Begg likes to say, “The Main things are the Plain things and the Plain things are the Main things.”

Our job, our responsibility is to do all things to the glory of God. And to do that, we need to submit to Gods authority and his will as revealed through his word, the Bible.

Lets pray

Even the rocks cry out

Nature astounds me.  The trees in autumn are so wonderful to watch, I can get lost in watching a single leaf fall to the ground.  And the fact that nature, from the earth, to animals, to nature as a whole, while not predictable, follows such a beautiful, harmonious pattern makes me understand, at least for a moment or two, those that worship nature.

Now we know to worship the Creator, not the created.  That God himself orchestrated the cosmos, the wind and waves, the leaf I follow to the ground.  but the bible clearly states that the heavens display His handiwork.  That if we don’t give God his full worship, that even the rocks will cry out.  I have often pondered this.  Many hours have thought and prayed, “Lord, let me worship you in your glory, and keep the rocks silent.”  But tonight, driving home, through the wonder that is the Pacific Northwest tonight, while listening to a sermon on God’s authority, I think I finally caught a glimpse of what this all means.

“And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed,  each according to it kind, on the earth.” and it was so.  The earth brought forth vegetation…(Gen. 1:11-12a)  The earth sings God’s glory and it’s God’s glory that people hear and worship.  They are enticed by what the earth does, but miss why the earth does so.  It is because it’s creator deemed it so.   The earth pronounces God’s glory because it is doing what it was commanded.  Because in doing what God commanded, it can show true obedience to the One who has ultimate control.  It can reflect the Master.  That is how nature has it’s power.  It’s in the obedience to the master that it’s true purpose is revealed.  And it’s that way with us.

 

Why does the blossoming apple tree hold our fascination?  How is it that even though we know that after harvest season come winter and snow, and yet we still find beauty in the flakes falling???  One could think that their very predictability would cause us to lose interest in the whole process. But it’s the very predictable pattern of God’s creation that sings His praise.  The wind and the waves, the snow and apple tree are subject to God, and do exactly what He commanded at the beginning of time, and that’s it.  They do what He wants, regardless of their own will.  Now the apple tree doesn’t have will, but we do.  When do we reflect the glory of our God?!?!  When we are subject to Him, and are doing the will of our loving father, regardless of our own will.  Instead of garnering favor for ourselves, like we try to from time to time, let’s think of the apple tree, the dandelion, the oak losing it’s leaves every year.  They don’t shout about the mighty acts they have accomplished, they simply show the world, all who see, what God instructed them of, and thereby give glory to their creator.

 

In every day, there are times when we feel the Spirit calling us to something.  How about we don’t fight it, but like the snowflake falling, or the rose blossoming, we follow the authority of our Creator, and do His will, giving Him the glory He deserves.  And keep those rocks silent one more day.

Hope Holencik

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