February 21, 2021

God is Just


There are texts in the Bible that are difficult for preachers. This text is not difficult for a preacher, but it is difficult for the listener. As Eugene B. said – this text is easy to understand, but it is difficult to accept!

Red Romans 9:19-29

I hope you have come across the following scenario in your life: guys play any sport, and before the game begins, two captains who are selecting from the crowd, are taking turns in choosing players for their teams. They begin with the most promising players and pick the smallest and weakest the last. There was one weak and small boy, who was always chosen last. Once, two new older boys joined the crowd, and they were made into captains, and when it came for them to choose their team, one of them for the very first pick chose this small, weak boy. Why? He was his older brother, and loved him! God makes a choice, and it is not based on our ability and merit… but simply on the basis of His love.

When I chose out of all possible girls in the world, Irina, and married her, why didn’t anyone shout loudly: “What a terrible discrimination is this; it’s not fair that you didn’t marry all the rest of the girls in the world?” We understand that the right to choose is in the hands of the groom – it’s okay for him to make a choice. But, why don’t we submit to the idea of God doing the same?

This text is easy to understand, but difficult to accept. And today, we will look at this text from a certain angle, which Paul himself offers us in order to explain that in God’s election, he is just! We will ask 4 practical questions that will help us come to terms with God’s election and sovereignty in salvation.

I. For what purpose are you questioning God? (v. 19)

(v. 19) – Before this verse, Paul made a very serious statement – God hardened Pharaoh to show His power and so that the name of God would be preached throughout the earth! The question is – does this suit us? The answer is no! Why? Because we have our own system of assessing what is valuable, what is right, what is logical – but these are all our personal standards, but it is quite possible that these are not the standards of Scripture. Then what do we do? Either the Scripture must be adjusted to our understanding, or our thinking must submit to the Scripture. And this is what Paul is trying to do in v. 19 – he does not deny the reality of emerging issues and internal conflicts. It’s ok to ask questions like this.

Paul does not allow a person to argue with God or question His sayings. Why? This question is an objection to God’s decisions! When a person protests – this is an unbelief; this is punishable; this is the position of all who do not believe God! Even their question, reveals and takes away the last hope that there might be faith!

Ex. Zechariah (Luk. 1:18-20) – his question conveyed skepticism and disbelief, why Mary’s question (Luk, 1:34-35) – conveyed a sincere search for help in understanding the situation. We as humans may not know the heart of a person asking questions, but God knows! This has an important application – if you ask questions in order to understand something, it is one thing, but if you ask questions in order to cover up your unwillingness to submit to God, then it is another thing, and God sees that…

So, for what purpose are you asking questions? Often, the Scripture does not give us full and detailed answers to our questions.

II. Are you satisfied with an incomplete answer? (vv. 20-24)

Look at vv. 20-24 – Paul does not try to balance God’s sovereignty and human responsibility for elections.

Ex. (v. 22) “desiring” is a specific desire that God has – this is His will…, but “prepared” is a middle voice (man prepared himself for the destruction by his unbelief and resistance to God).

Scripture leaves these two things in a certain incompatibility, so that we do not choose what suits our thinking, but accept both doctrines by faith, and humbly obey God, when we do not understand everything.

(v. 21) – this verse reveals the position of clay – it cannot assert a better understanding and knowledge of clay than the potter! The potter knows and understands clay better!

(v. 22) Vessels of wrath… I want these truths to seriously stir up those who do not submit to the Gospel, live for themselves, and do not worship God… for you these truths should be like a serious shock and a call to humble yourself and seek God!

What does it mean that someone is a vessel of wrath? Let’s try to determine what God could have wrath against? Will God have wrath against a person who obeys Him, or tries to please Him, believes in God, worships God? No! Against what there is God’s wrath?  (Rom. 1:18) – against the wickedness of man! The vessels of wrath are wicked people! There is a real reason, there is guilt, there is condemnation! That’s why nobody will ever say to God that He is unjustly angry with someone!

(v. 22) – “endured” – best illustration by Pharaoh – (Ex. 10:16-17) – Pharaoh had 10 plagues, during which he had real opportunity to repent and humble himself…

“The vessels of mercy” (v. 23) – both are made of the same clay! The fact that some of you are vessels of mercy has nothing to do with your merits! It all depends on the Potter! He decides! The conflict is not resolved… Can you accept sovereignty of God by faith?

III. Is your opinion the right yardstick? (vv. 22-24)

(v. 22) – God spared the vessels of wrath in order to show His anger and power and at the same time (vv. 23-24) show His glory on the vessels of mercy. A couple of observations:

1) God’s glory in fulness is revealed not only in the salvation of sinners, but also in the just punishment of others!

2) God’s glory in salvation of the vessels of mercy cannot be fully visible until it is placed in opposition to God’s judgment and punishment! Just think, if God were not a just judge, but only a merciful and loving God… It would never help us appreciate His mercy and love, since we would never know what it means not to receive mercy! If the whole world is white, I can’t make a good estimate of the purity of white until I put that white against the black color!

IV. Have you learned to see God’s mercy? (vv. 25-29)

It is about the heart (Rom. 2:28-29) – circumcision of the heart – humility, repentance, faith and being born again!

Paul applies this to two groups of people – both a complete surprise.

(vv. 25-26) – the Gentiles became God’s people!

(vv. 27-29) The remnant of Israel will actually be saved!

(v. 25) – not my people… my people… let’s take a deeper look at what it means – you are not my people! It means rejection, lack of hope, unresolved conflict between God and man! Is there a way out of this situation? In this verse, God is calling “not his people”, his people! This is hope of this passage! God’s Word has such a powerful impact! This is His will! And in an instant, a person who had no hope, was not God’s, becomes His! Isn’t it a miracle? And what if today, some present here today cannot say that they are part of God’s people.. but, being at this service, and hearing that God changes the status of a person by the power of His Word, now this person hears this voice directed toward him? Oh, if God speaks to you today, dear friend, this is the time when you need to submit to God!

(v. 27) is a sobering message – not all those who think they are saved will be saved! Not everyone who says they think they are real Christians, they serve for years in church, do many good things, lead a morally upright life – and Christ in the end will tell them – I never knew you! God is ready to accept you too!

Several important takeaways:

1) Disagreement with this doctrine, reveals our unwillingness to recognize our sinfulness. The main reason why we struggle with the idea that other people fall under eternal condemnation is that deep in our hearts we do not believe that we ourselves are worthy of such condemnation. Deep in our hearts, we think that we deserve this mercy from God! Also, we think that other people deserve the grace of God too! But, the Bible says – every man is utterly sinful, corrupted, spiritually dead, does not deserve any mercy!

2) Disagreement with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty suggests that we think that we are more merciful to people than God! But every time when God’s ability to have mercy is set against human ability, God’s mercy triumphs over!

When David had a choice from whose hand to receive punishment, he without hesitation chose God and His mercy over mans (2 Sam. 24:14).

3) Agreeing with this doctrine does not abolish human responsibility and willingness to serve, but on the contrary makes it possible (Ch. 12 – Paul calls believers to action).

4) Conforming to this doctrine equips us to preach the Gospel to even the most inconvenient and least suitable people. Why?  Their qualification for salvation is not in them, but in God! God can save anyone!

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