Mar 12 2023 Romans 9-11 The Chosen
12th March 2023
We had a good discussion last week – and one of the questions brought up a common question – basically – why does God allow bad things to happen.
Sometimes people use this verse to give comfort, but the person receiving it doesn’t hear it in the way it is intended – Even Jesus on the cross asked, My God, My God, WHY? And it is recorded in two languages – Aramaic and Greek –
God causes all things
All things work together for good
If God causes all things, He could have stopped it, right? But many have lost faith or rejected faith because of this.
All things work together for good – what we do, is pull these out of their context – this is not describing God’s role in evil, whether He ordains it or allows it – and it doesn’t say – this will all work out. He is saying something different there.
Here is my paraphrase: Whatever happens, good or evil – this is not talking about God’s role in this – but whatever happens, God will work through whatever happened to bring about His work into transforming us into the image of Jesus.
It will all be for good doesn’t help everybody.
Romans 9-11 – I will go through quickly – highlighting a few things.
The Bible Project has an excellent section on Pharaoh and the hardening of his heart…
This section deals with Calvinism, Arminianism, predestination, etc – but today we will look at Marettism! And I realize that name doesn’t compare to the others.
Another hard verse:
Romans 9 -
13 Just as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.“
That doesn’t sound like God! To hate someone?
14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!
He anticipates their response – and there is disagreement on what Paul is saying.
This is an idiom – it comes out of Malachi – not Genesis – and it doesn’t say Esau, it says Edom – the people of Esau, thousands of years later. It is an idiom for a people’s chosen status – it is not an emotional expression of hatred or love – it is spoken of a person who is chosen and who is not – and this is part of the theology of election – and these sections relate to Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians and their conflicts.
To the Jewish people who are saying you must follow Torah – and many have rejected their Messiah – and he is saying – you are Esau – not Jacob – rejecting the Messiah.
Election is not about being chosen to go to heaven – or it is not about individual salvation. That is different for some. In Romans – it is not talking about YOU being elected for salvation. It is talking about agency – the people who were chosen to be agents for blessing in the world.
Starting with Abraham – chose him to be a blessing to all the nations. And Israel continually gave up on that mission.
Jacob was chosen to bring God’s blessing to the world, including Esau! But Israel didn’t do that – they were at odds with the world they were supposed to bless.
Romans 9: I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
Israel has rejected their messiah and Paul is broken over this. He is trying to explain where they have gone astray – and he takes them through the Old Testament to show them
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "through Isaac your descendants will be named."
He is saying – it is not about ethnicity or genealogy – it is about faith and grace – in the promise of the children of God.
8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is a word of promise: "At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son."
Abraham had two sons – Ishmael and Isaac – but the people of Israel have become Ishmael because they have rejected the Messiah – and the Gentiles have become Israel.
10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, "The older will serve the younger." 13 Just as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
This all happens before they were born – it has nothing to do with them – in one sense – and God is always surprising in the way He goes about it – not the human way, but the God way.
Then he talks about Pharaoh being hardened –
9 If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;
10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."
This is a familiar verse that we share in our gospel summaries – here, the focus is on confessing Jesus is Lord (and Caesar is not). You are confessing His divinity – but are also swearing allegiance to a new Lord – not Caesar, but Jesus.
This is his point:
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
Everyone comes to God in the same way – by faith in Jesus. You are all in the same boat.
for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; 13 for "Whoever will call upon the name of the LORD will be saved." 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
So, what He is telling them now – those of you who have come to Jesus – you are blessed – why? SO that you might be a blessing to the world.
The way we do that – is by bringing Jesus to the world – through proclamation and the performance of the Life of Jesus in the world.
What Paul is concerned about – the Christians in Rome are in such conflict that they are no longer being a blessing to the world.
Paul is trying to explain – just like for Israel, it is not about YOU but the world God loves – and now the church is becoming the same.
The question, of course, is – is it the same with us today? Our world today?
My life is in this world. There is great conflict in Christianity – WITHIN Christianity – and Paul would be appalled – important Christians canceling others!
Like Paul says – we have become like Israel and have forgotten our calling – forgetting why we have been chosen. Theology has to be practical. All theology is practical, and all practice is theology…
15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!" 16 However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, "LORD, who has believed our report?" 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Are our feet beautiful, bringing glad tidings of good news? Are we beautiful people, bringing glad tidings of good things? That is our calling.
Romans 11 – he starts talking about branches – how Israel have been cut off from the vine and the Gentiles have been grafted in – giving this elaborate metaphor – to heal this division – and now he is summing up everything he has said – Romans 11:
30 For just as you (Gentiles) once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy
There are all kinds of systematic theological issues = whatever you hold to – and how you hold to it:
32 For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.
It is all about the mercy of God. Predestination – Free will – election – it all points to the mercy of God to all!
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
When people ask WHY? We who want to help, need to stop and say – Yeah, I don’t understand. God’s ways are unsearchable. You cannot do a ChatGPT to get an answer. You can’t google search it. You won’t find anything on the whole of the internet to allow us to understand God’s ways or His judgments.
34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Now, in Chapter 12 – the practical stuff! We have all this wonderful practical stuff – and most divide Romans to
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore
What is the therefore there for? This is not a new chapter! It was not written that way! It is not something different – it is a continuation of his previous thoughts -
, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God
Everything is about His mercy.
We have looked at judgment, wrath, suffering, tragedy – and when we stand in the presence of God – there will be judgment – and what we will realize – God will be merciful to all over everything.
We can’t understand that here – a day will come – when we will understand – but not here.
We can know and have the hope – in that day – there will be this – sigh of relief – God has been merciful to me – He has been merciful to all. What does that look like? None of us knows.
, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.