Romans 15:7-13 Our Unchanging God

Romans 15:7-13

God has no plan B

Good Morning! Go ahead and grab you Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. If you do not own a Bible, please grab one from the back table and consider that our gift to you.

As we continue through Romans, as we start to see the end of this year-long journey come in to view, what we see is that Paul is not taking his foot off the gas. He is not letting up on the intensity, the importance and the depth of what he is writing to the early churches in Rome.

The last few weeks, as we have started chapter 15, we have look at such heavy and important, weighty issues such as who Jesus is and why he did what he did while he was here on Earth. We look at the importance of the Scriptures, ALL the Scriptures, what we call both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We looked at the example that Christ set for us. We looked at how important it is that we look only to the Words of God when trying to hear the voice of God, not to the words of men, and that God has chosen the Bible, His Written word, as his method of revelation to us.

And this week, as we continue through chapter 15, we will see that Paul is going to deal with Gods perfect and unchanging character, our hope, our Only hope. And how God has brought all things together in one plan for one people, for one purpose. Not merely light reading that we are dealing with in this scriptures.

So, before we go any further, lets go ahead and read our text for this week, Romans 15:7-13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and Ill encourage you to read along, to follow along and see these words for yourself in whatever translation you are using. Romans 15:7-13.

The Word of God says:

 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”

10 And again it is said,

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again Isaiah says,

The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Paul here, writing inspired by the Holy Spirit, brings together all of redemptive history and shows that there are not reactionary plans by God. God does not have a Plan A, and Plan B and a Plan C. God doesn’t change his plans because we thwart his original plans. He doesn’t treat some of us with one plan and some of us with another plan. There is one plan.

This plan has been in place for thousands of years. We see the first hints and revelations of it in Genesis 3, we see it throughout the first chunk of chapters of Genesis and then in Genesis 12, we really see it spelled it when God speaks to Abraham. Genesis 12, verses 1-3 and especially pay attention to the last line.

Now the Lord said[a] to Abram, “Go from your country[b] and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[c]

Many see this as Christians needing to have unwavering and blinding support of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham. But the point of this passage is rather the last line of the passage, In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Through the line of Abraham, as a Physical descendant, comes Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ, we see in the New Testament, that those who have faith in Christ are the spiritual descendants of Abraham and it is those spiritual descendants who bless Abraham by believing God, being credited as righteousness, just as abraham did and it is the spiritual descendants of Abraham who are from all families of the world who are blessed by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

This was Gods plan from the beginning. If you look at the original texts, the word for families in verse 3, is the same as the word translated as “kinds” in Genesis 8 when referring to the various animals coming off the ark. So, God is saying the Abrahams blessing, the spiritual seed of Abraham will bless all kinds of people. Not certain people, not certain groups, but as John writes in Revelation 7:9 & 10:

 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

There is no some included in Gods plan that is part of Plan A and then some who are part of plan B. There are no first class or second class groups of people in heaven. The New Testament shows us that there is no difference, no distinction between what it refers to as Israel and what it refers to as the Church. The New Testament shows that they are one and the same. This means that Israel was not plan A and Gentiles were plan B. Both were in Gods plans from the beginning and there is no difference. Paul makes that quite clear with the Old Testament passages that he quotes here.

The word for nations in the Old Testament and the word Paul uses for Gentiles as he quotes these passages in the New Testament have the same meaning; essentially all of humanity, all nations and races. Ethnos is the greek word that Paul uses here translating the hebrew to greek, where we get our English word ethnicity.

Look especially at these middle passages he quotes, Deuteronomy 32:43 & Psalm 117:1,

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

&

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”

Thats very inclusive language. That us Gods plan being inclusive from the beginning. Inclusive as in ALL people have the chance, opportunity and invitation to come in to the love of God and be his people.

And what we seed of Gods plan too is that, not only has it not change and never failed, but his plan has been to choose us from the beginning. We seer throughout scriptures, and especially as we have journeyed through Pauls letter to the Romans that God is the one who chooses us. Without him reaching out to us and changing our heart and mind, we wont reach out to him.

Some people see this as  negative. They sit as hopeless if we are not the ones to reach out to God, but this should be a supreme comfort to us. First of all, we know that God doesn’t change his mind. And so, if God chose us, if he is the one that reached out to us, than we will never unchose us. He will never take back from us what he has assured us that we have. He does not change his mind.

We, however, change our minds like we blink our eyes. We change our minds about little things. We change our minds about big things. Things like our hair color, our job, our homes, our tastes, our favorite anything. In this society, we often change our minds even on our spouses and our gender.

So if we choose God, and we could change our minds on him, doesn’t it recon that we would turn our backs and walk away at some point. John MacArthur famously said that “If we could lose our salvation, we would.”

And so, then we ask, how often does Jesus change his mind? He doesn’t, and he wont. And he has pursued us, he has reached out to us, a rebellious and sinful people. Paul writes in Romans 5:8 that it was “while we were yet sinners, that Christ died for us.” And on that cross, he looked up at said, “It Is Finished.” Once the deed was done, it can’t be undone, and once his mind was made, it wont be changed.

Thats one of the attributes about God that makes him God; his unchangingness. It’s also called his immutability. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, all God, one God. God is unchanging. He is eternal. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Nothing about him, his attributes, his character, his plans or his purposes, none of them change. All of God & all everything about him is perfect and unchanging. Psalm 102, verses 26 & 27 says:

They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27     but you are the same, and your years have no end.

And in Isaiah 46: 10 & 11 The LORD says:

My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

&

I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

God has decreed has plans from before the beginning of the world, and nothing can thwart them, nothing can change them, nothing can get in the way of them. Nothing will change his mind and nothing will remove us from his hands once we are in them.

God chose Abraham in Genesis to be the father of the group of people that he would use to bring His message and to bring his blessings to the world and to be a blessing to the nations around them. Through that physical line came Christ Jesus.

Through Christ Jesus all the families of the earth were blessed. Here in Romans 15, Paul shows us in verse 8, that the reason that Jesus came through the physical line of Abraham, why he was, as Paul puts it, that Christ became a servant to the circumcised, to show God’s truthfulness.

God said it, He promised it would happen this way, through these people, in these circumstances, and then he delivered. Against all odds. Jesus birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, him being God was the fulfillment of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, the nearest of which were written over 400 years before his birth. Many of which were written 700-100 years before his birth.

He was born the way, in the place and in the manner that God had long said that he would be born. To show Gods truthfulness. To confirm the promises made to the patriarchs, the fathers of the faith in the Old Testament. And he did all this so that Gentiles would be brought in and made to glorify God. That his mercy would be poured out in all nations of the world. That the chosen people of God would be made up of people from every tribe, every tongue and every nation.
So, we know that God is unchanging. We see that he has proven what he says will happen and that what he has planned, has never changed. And as we see, his plan was to bring Jews and Gentiles both, people of all the world into his fold. There was only ever one redemption plan. There was only ever one plan that God made. No plan A, no plan B. No reacting to his plans going wrong. No trying to come with anything else, and no multiple groups of His people.

In that, there was no separate plan for Israel and for the Gentiles. The plan from God was the same for each. The plan was the same for both. The promises were the same for both. The fulfillment of those promises were the same for both. The method of carrying out that plan and fulfilling those promises was the same for both.

That fulfillment is what brings all people’s together, Jews, Gentiles, all brought together under the blood and at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. And, more importantly, it is ONLY through Jesus Christ that any of the promises that God made can be fulfilled. It is ONLY through jesus Christ that any of Gods plans can see fruition.

And it is Only through Jesus Christ that we can be reconciled to God the Father and receive the forgiveness of our sins. There simply is no other way but through Jesus Christ.

Jesus did what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus lived a sinless life, therefore not separated from God. Our sins separate us from God. But God had a plan, a redemption plan. He had a plan to reconcile us back with him. A plan hatched between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit before God created time.

That plan was the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His life was sinless, so no separation from God, no sins to have to pay for. His death was unwarranted. He was innocent and therefore was sufficient to pay the price for all of our sins, meaning that our slates could be wiped clean, we could be forgiven and our relationship with God could be restored. His resurrection meant that he not only paid for and therefore defeated sin, but now he paid the price and defeated the penalty for sin, the consequences of sin have now been negated. He beat death. Specifically he defeated and eliminated eternal death.

And through all that we receive something incredibly powerful. We receive hope. The Gospel in many ways is hope. When we share the Gospel with others, we are sharing hope. When we hear the Gospel, hear it with open ears, understanding it and its repercussions, we hear hope. Paul writes here in Romans 15, verse 13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

God gives us hope, he fills us with joy and peace while he gives us belief. It is through the Holy Spirit that we hear the Gospel with open ears and hear Hope. God grants us that belief. Because it is through that belief, through faith and faith alone that we receive the grace of God.

Ephesians 2:8 & 9, Paul writes:

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

By grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. As revealed by the scriptures alone. Done to the Glory of God alone.

And it’s not based off our works, our righteousness. It is not based on anything that we can do or earn. It is based on of Jesus righteousness, it is based on Gods grace. It is based on his “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” It is based on his character and his Word. And because it’s based on God, it’s based on Jesus and not ourselves, we can have hope and peace when we respond to the Gospel. Trying to do it ourselves is the most exhausting thing that we can attempt in this world. Jesus instead offers hope and rest.

He says in Matthew 11:28-30:

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I feel so humble, filled with humility that God chose me. So much gratefulness. That I have received his grace and his mercy. And so much assurance that it does not depend on me. Reading through this passage of Romans, I feel drawn back to earlier in Paul’s letter, to Romans chapter 5, verses 1 & 2.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God.

Lets Pray

Romans 11 All Gods People are One

Editor’s Note: This week did not get a chance to get spell checked. WordPress changed some things in regards to how type up your post and I haven’t had time to fool around with it and find the spell check button. Please forgive the spelling errors. Thank you

Romans11:1-32

Good morning! Please turn with me in your bibles to
Romans chapter 11. And this week we return through our series going
through the book of Romans, Pauls letter to the churches in Rome. If
you do not have a Bible, please help yourself to one from our back
table as our gift to you.

As I have been reading through Romans as a whole and
chapter 11 specifically, one of the things that jumps out to me is
the reminder that It is not just the single verses or small passages
of scripture that need to be taken in context. But longer passages
including entire chapters, when we read them, we need to make sure
that we are looking at those passages in the context of what the
author, both human and divine, is writing.

Remember that Paul did not write this letter with verse
numbers or with Chapter breaks. He wrote this as a letter. It is a
flow of thought. Romans especially is systematic and organized and
there are parts where he changes the directions of his thought
process, but he wrote it as a letter and we have to remember that as
we read it.

So, we need to remember that, as we read Romans 11,
that it is not divoreced from what Paul was writing in chapters 9 &
10, and its also not divorced from the previous 8 chapters before
that. And especially the last few chapters, but a main theme
throughout this letter has to have an impact on how we read this
chapter.

Paul
starts off in Romans chapter 1, verse 16 talking about this main
theme, saying: For
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for
salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the
Greek.

The
Gospel and only the Gospel brings salvation. And the Gospel is
available to all, Jews first, but now to the Gentiles as well. Thats
you and me.

And
There is no distinction now between us. We see in Romans 3, verses
22-24:  the
righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who
believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his
grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

All
have sinned. None are worthy. All who come to Christ and bear His
righteousness thorough the grace of God, given through our faith in
Christ, All who do that are justified, or declare righteous. No
matter who, no matter what, no matter your background, ethnicity,
your sins. All.

Justlast chapter, chapter 10, Paul again, remphasises this, writing inverse 11-13:  Forthe Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be putto shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew andGreek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on allwho call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of theLord will be saved.” Andthen in verse 17, faithcomes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

And
so, it was with that contextual background that Paul dives in and
writes Chapter 11. I wanted to break this chapter chapter up a bit.
Its a long chapter. I even gave Dave the verses and was going to stop
with v 24, but the closer we got to Sunday morning, the more I felt
it needed to be read in its entirety, partly for the reasons I
already mentioned, the need for full context. So, we will see if we
teach through the whole chapter, but I am going to read Romans
Chapter 11, and I am writing out of the English Standard Version.
Please, if you have your Bible follow along in yours, whatever
version that may be.

Paul
writes:

I
ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am
an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham,[
a]
a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his
people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of
Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they
have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I
alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God’s
reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have
not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time
there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it
is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer
be grace.

7 What
then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained
it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,

God
gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that
would not see
    and ears that would not
hear,
down to this very day.”

9 And
David says,

Let
their table become a snare and a trap,
    a
stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes
be darkened so that they cannot see,
    and
bend their backs forever.”

11 So
I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means!
Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so
as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches
for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles,
how much more will their full inclusion[
b]
mean!

13 Now
I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to
the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make
my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if
their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will
their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough
offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root
is holy, so are the branches.

17 But
if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild
olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the
nourishing root[
c]
of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If
you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root
that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken
off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were
broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through
faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not
spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note
then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who
have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his
kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they,
if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for
God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut
from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to
nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the
natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

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

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

28 As
regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards
election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For
the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as
you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy
because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been
disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may
now[
e]
receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience,
that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh,
the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How
unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For
who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who
has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to
him
    that he might be repaid?”

36 For
from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory
forever. Amen.

So
there are a few things that Paul touches on in here but there is one
main, unifying theme in what Paul writes here, in language that lends
itself to confusion and is often misunderstood, he says in verse 26,
In
this way, All Israel will be saved.”

And
that right there is why we need to take things in the whole of
context. The context of the chapter, the context of the letter, the
context of the other letters of Paul, the entire Bible.

In
this way, All Israel will be saved. Which begs the question, who is
Israel that Paul is referring to here? And essentially, historically,
there have been three main opinions on this.

Before
sharing what these three options are, I want to reitterate something
I said at the beginning of us going through Romans chapter 9.

This
is a chapter that many people see different sides of various
theological fences and dont often see how the other sides can come to
their conclusion. In that regard, this is a worrisome chapter to
preach through. I may, as we go through this chapter, I may upset
some of you. I may teach or preach what I see as the plain meaning of
the text and it may go against what you see and believe as the plain
meaning to the text. Here’s the thing, that’s ok.

I’m
not going to not preach and teach what the Bible says in fear of
upsetting some of you. And I hope you aren’t going to just take what
I say from up here as Gospel without pouring over the scriptures
yourself. There are things in the Bible that we can disagree on.

Wherever
you end up after going through Romans11, the one thing I ask is that
you read in context. Remember the context and recognize your own
presuppositions, which we all have. Thats all I ask.

So,
Who is Israel that Paul refers to here? Who is Israel, whom all will
be saved? The three historic options boil down to this. First, Paul
is referring to all ethnic Jews, all the physical seed of Jacob, also
known as Israel. And yet, just a few chapters previously, in Romans
9:6-8: For
not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,

7 and
not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but
“Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

8 This
means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children
of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

This
shows that the term Israel can mean something other than the Ethnic,
physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Option Number 2 is
that Israel refers to the physical nation or country-state of Israel.
This is the nation of Israel of the Old Testament. This is Israel who
conquered and was conquered. This is the nation of Israel, made up of
the 12 tribes that fractured into Judah and Israel, both of whom were
conquered, captured and exiled. This is the current nation of Israel
that was created in the aftermath of World War 2.

However,
much of the nation of Israel is largely secular. They are not, as a
nation, observing the Jewish religion. They are not walking with God,
instead they are, if not functional atheists, then placing there
future on their ethnic identity, much like option number 1.

The
third option, the one that I see in the Bible is that in verse 26
here, All of Israel referes to All believers, both Jewish and
Gentiles. Again, starting from Pauls own writings, in Romans 9, that
the children of the promise are Abrahams offspring, to whom the
promises of Israel are made. Paul says it as well in Galatians 3,
verses 7-9: Know
then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.

8 And
the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[
c]
the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham,
saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

9 So
then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man
of faith.

The
Bible makes it clear that the Old Testament, that Jesus is the
fulfillment of the Old Testament, meaning that all of the Old
Testament is shadows, types and foreshadowings of Jesus. This
includes Israel. Galatians 6:16 refers to Jesus as the Israel of God.
The promises made to Israel in the Old Testament were fulfilled in
Christ and the punishment and curses on Israel were poured out on
Christ. As one Pastor explained, The Church has not replaced Israel,
the church is the expansion of Israel. Since Jesus is the true
Israel, all who belong to Christ, and ONLY those who belong to
Christ, belong to Israel.

Now,
lets stop for a moment and ask, why am I spending time on this? Why
is this important. Again, this is not something that you all may
agree on. For me, this gets at the very heart who God is. And it is
consistant with who God is and what he has revealed to us.

We
see here in chapter 11, the idea of the olive tree, representing the
Jewish people and the wild trees being grafted in, representing the
gentiles. We, you and I are here because God choose to unite Jews and
gentiles, to make us all one in Christ. Again, all those who are in
Christ and Only those who are in Christ. There is no difference in
our standing, in our rightousness, in our salvation. There is no Jew
nor greek.

This,
again, can be misubderstood. In this world, in our workd and our
society, there are jews and greeks, there are males and females,
there are rich and poor, there are distinctions. We are all
individuals and God has created us this way. He determined your
ethnicity. He determined your sex, whether you are male or female. He
determined where and when you were born and all those things. But
none of those things can affect our salvation. None of those things
can affect whether we are saved.

I
referenced Romans 1:16 earlier. For
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for
salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the
Greek.
Paul
has alternately spent his time writing both to the Jews that, Yes,
the Gentiles are included in the Kingdom of Heaven. He calls it the
mystery of the Gospel on numerous occasions, because to the Jewish
people at the time, it would not make any sense to them that God
would choose to include the gentiles, especially when there were
plenty of Jewish people still around. But Paul alternates that with
his words to the Gentiles that No, the church has not replaced
Israel. Both are called by God. There are the elect in both, there
are believers predestined and foreknown by God in both groups and
more accurately and to the point, there are not two groups. There is
only one, those who are in Christ.

To
me, this is a call, an appeal and an example of the kind of unity
that God wants from us. When one tree gets grafted in another, they
are not two trees, but they are now one tree. Yes, one was fisrt then
the other, but they are one tree. In a marriage, a husband and wife
come togethere and the bible says they are now One Flesh. If you are
married you are not two individuals living life along side each
other, you are united, you are one. When we are brought in the
Christ and receive from him our salvation, He is inseperable from us.

And
ths how he calls us to be. Insepperable. United. Not uniform, not
Stepford, but united. There is no super Christians. There are no
varsity or JV christians. There are only Christians, Christ
followers.

The
other part of this, for me, is that God knows all things, from before
he created time. There are no surprises. He didnt just happen to be
surprised that the Old Testament Nation of Israel rejected him over
and over. He didnt then come up with a plan B. There was no spite and
thought process that, If they are going to reject me then I have to
come up with a plan B. This was Gods plan from the beginning. God is
unchanging. The theological term is immutable.

His
plan from the beginning of time was to save you and I from our sins.
We are not replacing anyone, nor are we second best. We are a part of
Gods redemptive plan. That should be both an encouragment and a
comfort to us. And especially as we get close to Christmas, when Gods
redemptive plan got put into affect. Jesus, the Son of God, being
born, still God, but now, also, man, a little baby boy. Before this
plan was put into action, before the beginning of time, when this
plan was initially hatched, by God the Father, God the Son and God
the Holy Spirit, at that point in time. Gos picked you and I to be a
part of his people. He picked you and I to be a part of his
redemptive plan and he picked you and I to be with him in perfect
eternity future.

What
A God. What Love. What foreknowledge. What foreplanning,
predetination. What a blessing he is. What a gift he is.

And
this is all the sulmination of these first 11 chapters of Romans. I
said earlier that Pual didnt write these letters with chapter breaks,
and thats true. But there are points in his letters where there is a
clear and purposeful shift. This could be in theme, or in subject or
as some have broken up Pauls letters, first half is theology, second
half is application. And we see one of those shifts between Chapters
11 and 12. So the end of chapter 11 here really is the climax of what
Paul has been writing.

And
what that means is that these last few verses, verses 33-36, which we
are going to look at next week, instead of division or confusion or
anything along those lines, the first 11 chapters of Romans should
bring us to worship and awe of God. He is good, He is just. He is
Love. He is holy. And while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Worship, praise, glory and Honor to God.

And
unity and grace to each other. Again, we can disagree on what certain
parts of what Paul writes means, including who ALL Israel is as we
looked at today. We can disagree on that and still be fellow brithers
and sisters in Christ. We can disagree and still show each other love
and mercy and grace. We can disagree on this and still be united
under the cross and the death and resurrection of our saviour Jesus
Christ.

If
Pauls writings do not lead us to this, then we are reading them wrong
and we need to repent and search our hearts for the love and
forgiveness for each other that Christ first showed us.

Lets
Pray.

Sources:





https://twitter.com/NewGeneva/status/1071426758820290561)

Romans 9:24-33 God is the LORD of All

Romans 9:24-33

God is LORD of all

Good Morning. Please open up in your Bibles with me to Romans chapter 9. We jump back in this week to our series through Romans and we finish up the 9th chapter here as Paul is addressing objections to Gods sovereignty. As usual, if you do not have a Bible, if you dont own one, please help your self to one from the back table there as our gift to you.

Now, The first sections in Chapter 9 we saw Paul address three specific questions dealing with Gods sovereignty and we came away with three very clear points. First, Gods Word and his promises have not and cannot and will not fail. What he says will happen, is guaranteed to happen. Second, Gods decisions, on who he calls to himself and who he chooses to save are just that, his decisions. And He, as God, as perfect and just and merciful, his decisions are right and just, or more accurately, full of grace and mercy to those he saves and just to those he doesn’t. third, He is the creator God, we are his creations. He has every right to mold us as the potter molds clay, and to form us into what he wants and what is best. And all of this, not only the third point, but all of Chapter 9 is showing that all that God does is for His Glory.

So, as we finish up chapter 9, we see Gods glory on display and we see Paul is re-emphasizing two of his main points that he has been preaching all letter long. Gods Word is the foundation and the bedrock of everything. And Salvation belongs to the LORD and is available to people of all nationalities, background, race, sex, all of it. No one group of people has a hold on Christ and his redeeming work, to the exclusion of others.

So, with all that said, we are going to be looking at Romans chapter 9, verses 24-33 this morning. Since verse 24 starts in the middle of a sentence, to help with the context, we will start reading with verse 23, which is also in the middle of a Paul sentence, but adds context. We will read through the end of the chapter, and just notice, Paul quotes numerous Old Testament passages in these 9 verses and alludes to quite a number more.

So, without further ado, lets read Roman 9:23-33 and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, Paul writes:

 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel[c] be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness[d] did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Amen? So, Paul quotes a lot of scripture in this passage here. And that makes us wonder, why would he focus so much scripture on this passage? What point is he making that needs that scriptural emphasis to combat the questions and objections? I think we can pull out three points from this passage, two of which Paul is saying and one of which he is showing by example.

So lets start with that last one, the point that Paul is showing by example. Scripture is the foundation of all that we believe. If the Bible says it, its true. We believe the Bible. It is the inerrant, infallible, all-sufficient word of God. I think one of the main things that Jim was saying last week, what his underlying premise for everything he was saying was the Gods Word is true. In everything, and everything that it says is trustworthy and has only been verified throughout history, never disproven.

The Bible was written over 1600 years. It was written as 66 separate books or letters by over 40 authors, in 3 languages on 3 continents. But in all that, 1 main story, the restoration of our sinful selves to God and his glory through the perfect righteousness of his Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, In Jesus Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone, as revealed by the scriptures alone. The motto of the Reformation, the pillars that the Reformation was built on, that Biblical, true Christianity is built on.

And so, we need to look at what the Bible says, in its totality. Not just one verse here or there. Paul knows this. And so, to help his point, as an Apostle, as a messenger of Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writing scripture, he brings in the Old Testament scriptures to show that he wasnt just making this up. To show that he wasnt going against what God had previously said. Instead, Paul is showing that these things he is emphasizing here in Romans, and chapter 9 especially, have been established and planned from the beginning. It’s not a new plan that God came up with. This is not plan B, this is a continuation of the one and only plan that God has had. And scripture itself testifies to that.

And the first point that Paul makes in this passage is that God will call his people from all nations, all Peoples and every tribe of the World. And that was the plan from the beginning. Not from the Jews only, but from the Gentiles also. Gentiles, simply being any one who is not a Jew. God sent his Word and his prophets and his Son, our Messiah through the Jewish people. The physical descendants of Abraham hold a special place in Gods heart and were given a special calling.

But Salvation belongs to the LORD and is promised to the Sons of Abraham, but as we looked, not the physical sons, not the biological, genealogical, physical sons of Abraham, but to all who have the faith of Abraham, the spiritual sons of Abraham. Gods plan from the beginning was for all people groups to be represented in Perfect eternity.

Revelation 7:9 & 10 shows what it will look like when we are worshipping the LORD for eternity. John recorded:

I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

All tribes. All Peoples. All Languages. God will call who he decides to call. Or maybe more accurately who he has decided to call before the creation of the world. And its an incomplete reading of the Old Testament to think that Gods salvation was limited to one people group during that time.

Thats what Paul is pointing out here. Gods invitation, his call to salvation of all peoples, Jews and Gentiles alike is not a new revelation that the Apostles or Paul came up with. Paul quotes Hosea and the sentiment is echoed in the book of Ruth as well, in verse 26 here:

Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

Shortly after I became a Christian, after I started going to church, I heard this and I have been saying it ever since. Christianity is very exclusive, because it has one door, one method of salvation, one way, and that is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way to know the Father or to access him except through his Son. But, Christianity is the most inclusive religion out there as well because the invitation is given to all, whosoever may believe. The invitation is not limited to any group or any people.

We know that his Word does not return void, meaning that exactly what God set out and planned from before the beginning is exactly what is going to happen and has happened. And what he has planned to pur his grace out on all people’s groups, on people from every tribe, every nation and every language.

Now some people hear what I’m saying and they think it means dismissing the Jewish people. They think the argument is that the Jewish people times has come and went. Paul points out that isn’t true either.

Paul quotes twice Isaiah here and points out that not all Israel will be saved, but that there will be a remnant, there will be some of the nation of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, who are called by God and will turn to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Messiah and they will be saved. They are a part of Gods plan and have been from the before the creation of the world, just like you and me. Call upon the name of the LORD and you will be saved.

Now, Paul makes that point and then goes on to point out to things keeping many of the Jewish people from knowing Christ as their Messiah. First, Israel recognized, because God was clear in the Old Testament that righteousness was required to Know God. That the only way to be reconciled to Him is through righteousness.

The problem was where Israel thought that the required righteousness came from. They pursued righteousness by the following of the Law that was given down by God. And yet they couldn’t achieve that obedience to the law, couldnt achieve or acquire that needed righteousness.

And Paul points out where the needed righteousness comes from. It comes through faith. Faith in Christ. And in fact is Christs righteousness that is able to be put on us, so that the Father sees the needed righteousness, from his Son when he looks at us. This righteousness cannot be achieved or acquired or earned. Paul says the gentiles did not pursue it. It is by grace through faith.

And that faith in Christ is a stumbling stone for many in this world. And more specific, that faith in Christ alone for our righteousness. Many don’t want to trust in Christ alone. It is not in our human nature to trust in Christ alone. It’s barely in our nature to trust in Christ at all, let alone to trust in him alone. And what happens when we trust in anything other than Christ alone, we stumble over the corner-stone. We trust in works. We trust in ourselves.

We are wrong. Paul says it here. There are those who think they will be saved in the end. That they will have the required righteousness as if it were based on works. There are many who think they will enter the Kingdom of Heaven who will be denied and rejected.

Jesus says in Matthew 7, verses 13 & 14: the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

It is harder to trust in Christ alone than to try to trust in ourselves and to earn our righteousness, narrow and hard is the way that leads to life. But many are on the wide and easy path and they think they are on the narrow and hard. There is a day coming when we will either be accepted, trusting in Him alone, or rejected, trusting in our works even if we believe in him.

Jesus talks about this later in Matthew chapter 7, verses 21-23, a famous passage. Jesus tells the crowds:

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The issue here is not whether the people believed that Jesus was LORD. They had the intellectual knowledge and probably believed in their heart. The issue is that they were trusting in their works. They were trusting in the fact that they prophesied, that they cast out demons, that they did mighty works and they expected that those works were good enough to get them into heaven. Jesus calls those works that they trusted in, lawlessness.

Trust in Christ alone. Thats the way through the narrow gate. Not Christ plus works. Not Christ plus heritage. Not Christ plus political views. Not Christ plus race. Not Christ plus anything. Theres a saying, Jesus plus anything equals nothing.

Paul is clear in this passage. All whom God calls, will respond and will trust in Christ alone. His Word will not return void. And God will call his people from everyone who was not his people. Every nation, every language, every people. No matter who or where you come from, there is no salvation outside of faith in Christ alone. The scripture says this from the beginning of the Bible and continues to say it throughout the New Testament. God didn’t have plan A and Plan B. He doesn’t have one plan for now, one plan for then and one plan for later. It’s all the same plan. Scriptures speak to it and are our foundation for everything spiritual. Trust in Christ alone, not works, not plus anything. Not even Jesus plus communion. This is a time to reflect on your faith. Is it Christ alone, or Christ plus anything. Do you know who Jesus is, or do you know Jesus?

We are going to celebrate communion this morning. A time of remembrance. Who Jesus is and what he has done. Very God and Very man. Jesus spoke to his disciples saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” What does it mean to “follow” Jesus? For the modern Christian, we obviously can’t literally walk behind Jesus as the apostles did, but we can still follow his commands.

One of the last commands he gave was to do this in remembrance of Him. To remember. We do this because he first loved us. And we remember Jesus has thousands, even millions of disciples all over the world. Followers of Christ, black & white. Hispanic and Asian. Native American and Middle Eastern. Male And Female. Jew and Greek. All spiritual descendants of Abraham and all Children of God. And we gather as a local gathering of his family to do this together.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

And thats the caveat, right there. Communion is for those who have chosen to Believe and follow Jesus Christ as our sole and total means of salvation. Gods grace poured out on us, because his wrath was poured out on His Son.

We are commanded to remember because otherwise, we forget. When we forget, we put other things before God and that was one of his very first commandments.   have no other gods before him.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

Romans 9:1-13 Gods Word has not failed

Romans 9:1-13

God chooses the Children of Abraham

Good Morning, please go ahead and turn with me in your bibles to Romans chapter 9. Please know that if you do not own a Bible, there is always one for you on the table in the back as our gift to you.

Romans chapter 9. This is a chapter that many people on different sides of various theological fences both use against each other to try to prove their points. In that regard, this is a worrisome chapter to preach through. I may, as we go through this chapter, the next couple of chapters even, I may upset some of you. I may teach or preach what I see as the plain meaning of the text and it may go against what you see and believe as the plain meaning to the text. Here’s the thing, that’s ok.

I’m not going to not preach and teach what the Bible says in fear of upsetting some of you. And I hope you aren’t going to just take what I say from up here as Gospel without pouring over the scriptures yourself. There are things in the Bible that we can disagree on.

Wherever you end up after going through Romans 9, the one thing I ask is that you read in the context of building right upon the promises and assurances and the complete sovereignty of God that Paul built up in Romans chapter 8. Remember the context and recognize your own presuppositions. We talked about this on Wednesday morning. What you go to the Bible looking for, you will get out of it. If you go into the Bible looking to prove the theological point that you already assume, you will find evidence for that point. If you go to the Bible asking God to reveal the truth to you, to speak his words to you, which is what the bible is, If you go in, with no human assumptions, looking genuinely, earnestly and completely to seek Gods Will and Gods truth, then that’s what you will get out of the Bible.

Speaking of the Word of God, before we go any further, let’s go ahead and read the passage for this week. I am going to read Romans chapter 9, verses 1-13. This chapter is so interconnected that we will have overlap from week to week, so next week wont necessarily start with verse 14. We may not make it all the way through verse 13 this week, but because of the interconnectedness, we will read through these 13 verses today.

So Romans Chapter 9, verses 1-13, Paul writes:

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

Paul starts off, finishing up what we looked at last week, knowing that Gods promises are true, that he is faithful, that he had it all planned out since before the beginning of time and that there is but one way to God the Father and that is God the Son, Jesus Christ. We lays all that out, and then coming off of the highest of highs, he expresses the great sorrow and unceasing anguish that is in him.

Why does he have this pain, suffering and sorrow? This great sorrow and unceasing anguish? Because his flesh and blood, his Jewish brothers and sisters who had so much advantages, as Paul points out in verses 4 & 5, they have negated those advantages, those privileges.

Paul’s statement in verses 2&3, summed up, say that he loves his brothers so much, that we would switch places with them in a heart beat, if it meant that they would be saved. He says “I wish that I myself were accursed,” implying that they are accursed, the word in the Greek is Anathema. Accursed, cut off from Christ. Paul wishes that he could be cut off from Christ, if it would mean that his kinsman, his fellow Israelites would be brought back into the fold of God the Father.

Two things that jump out to me about Paul in these first few verses. First, he knows that he cannot switch places with his fellow kinsman. Paul’s sacrifice, if he were to lay down his life, thinking that it might save anyone, would have no meaning. At least, it would not accomplish anyones salvation. Oh how Paul wished it would and wished it could, but he knew what Christ had said, and what he had written just chapters previously in this letter. Christs atoning death on the cross and his resurrection, allowing for the forgiveness of sin is the only single thing that can save any one. Period. Outside of Christ, there is no hope, no heaven, no salvation from sin.

And in this, since a vast majority of Israelites rejected this Jesus guy as the promised Messiah, that means that they had rejected salvation, they were accursed, cut off from Christ, and therefore, were doomed to punishment in Hell instead of eternal glory with Christ.

That broke Pauls heart. And it should break ours. It’s easy to have our heart-break for our close friends, or family that don’t know Christ, knowing the eternal future that awaits. Its harder to look at our enemies, whatever that actually means in our life, and to weep for them as dead in their sins and eternally lost. Its harder to look at people who have physically, mentally, or emotionally done us wrong, have hurt us in whatever ways and to pray for their salvation. To love them enough to be willing to eternally doom ourselves to hell so that they would have a chance for eternity with Christ. Its harder to look at people we fought against in wars, people we voted against, people whose beliefs and behaviors may disgust us, it’s harder to have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in our hearts for them.

And yet, that s exactly what Christ calls us to do. To love and pray for and minister to those who we don’t want to, who “dont deserve to be forgiven,” just as we didn’t deserve to be forgiven. To reach out to the very people that we try to pull away from. Our hearts should break for every single soul to dies outside of Christ.

The second thing that jumps out to me is how steadfastly Pauls clings to Gods sovereignty and faithfulness. He knows what God promised, as we wrote in this letter. Those who are in Christ, are forgiven and will reign as co-heirs with Christ for eternity future. Those who die outside of Christ are not, and will spend eternity suffering the wages of their sin and feeling the full force of Gods wrath.

God is faithful. God keeps his word. God keeps his promise, The Promise. But if God keeps his promise, how can some of Israel not be saved? Israel, the Israelites, the Jewish people were the physical descendants of Abraham. God made his promise to Abraham, back in Genesis 17, verse 7: And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

So, the argument by the Jewish people was that BECAUSE they were Jewish, BECAUSE they had the advantages mentioned in verses 4 & 5, because they had & kept the law, they didn’t need that grace through faith thing that the gentiles needed. They saw the coming Messiah as an earthly, political, geographical, national savior as opposed to an eternal, spiritual, individual savior.

And so, if God has not saved the whole nation, every physical descendant of Abraham, then he hasn’t fulfilled his promise, right? Paul says, No, the Word of God has not failed. God’s promises are still fulfilled, totally and completely. What he promised will happen, happens. But what was commonly understood as how it would be fulfilled is, in fact, not the way that it would be fulfilled. Again, what they wanted to see from the scriptures is what they saw from the scriptures, even if it was inaccurate.

This part in Romans right here is just one of the spots where Paul shows that the promise given to Abraham about his descendants, about Israel, is not given to his physical descendants, but to his spiritual descendants. Here in romans 9, the second half of verse 6, through verse, Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes, For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

Paul also spends much of Galatians chapter 3 & 4, within the context of comparing righteousness by faith or works of law, showing us who the promises of God were made to. Again, looking at Galatians 3, starting with verses 7-9:” Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The Word of God has not failed. As Paul explains this, again, we remember the context. God is sovereign over all. Only what he allows to happen, happens and he continually shows that, despite our human perspective at times, his Word does not fail. Many of us know Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.

Our understanding is fallible. And especially when we try to focus in on certain verses our passages, without paying attention to whats going around in the scriptures around it.

John Piper speaking on Romans 9, he says this:

Romans 9 is an explanation for why the word of God has not failed even though God’s chosen people, Israel, as a whole, are not turning to Christ and being saved. The sovereignty of God’s grace is brought in as the final ground of God’s faithfulness in spite of Israel’s failure, and therefore as the deepest foundation for the precious promises of Romans 8. For if God is not faithful to his word, we can’t count on Romans 8 either.

Here is what I see as one of the points here. Paul spent Romans 8, as I said at the beginning, showing what Gods promises and how we can have faith and hope and assurance in God and his promises. But some came up with a concern. They came and wondered, how can we trust in those promises with these concerns, with seeing many Israelites not being saved? It was a valid question.

And so Paul is showing here what the response would be to that concern and why, even with that, we can still have hope and faith and assurance in God and his promises. Those whom have faith in Christ, in the person and work of Christ, in his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. We are the children of the promise. We are Abrahams descendants. We are adopted as the children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

Paul uses two examples from Genesis to show that God’s Word, no matter how crazy it may sound to us, No matter what we think we see that seems to negate Gods word, no matter how far-fetched it all is. The Word of God has not and will not fail. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

When he tells a 90-year-old woman whose life has proven her to barren, that in 1 year, she would have given birth to a son, that sounds crazy. Why would we believe that? Of Course, that s exactly what happened, and Isaac was born. Then, when Rebecca was pregnant by Isaac, God knew it was twins, knew which would be born first, which would be born second, told Rebecca that the older would serve the younger and both in their physical, individual lives, but in relation to their lives and descendants and the line of Christ, “For Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

All of this, before either one had a chance to do good or bad, to show that is not based off works, but on Gods grace and sovereignty. He says something and it happens. Because and for his glory and his purposes. When he says something, we can trust it to but fulfilled fully and completely and perfectly, even if not how we foresee it.

Remember, none of us could foresee his grace and mercy poured out on us. Not with who each and every one of us is outside of Christ. Not with our natural sin nature. Again, what Paul has been repeating in this letter. Romans 3, All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The sins that identified us and caused us to suppress the truth of God, that is intrinsically known to all. Romans 1. Romans 6, The wages of sin is death. But. but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 5 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 10, which we will get to coming up, verse 9-13:

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Not deserved, not foreseen, not predictable. But promised. According to his will and his purposes. Christ poured his blood out for us. He willingly took the place that we deserved. He died on the cross, for us, for the forgiveness of sins. To show us his love, his glory and his goodness, his Holiness.

Normally, on the first Sunday, this month, instead today, we remember and celebrate this. Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy.

Jesus knew ahead of time. God planned from before the begining of the world, that this would happen. It was the way it had to be. It was the only way it could be. And Jesus told his disciples that it was about to happen and instituted this sacrament as a remembrance of it.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.