May 26, 2019
What makes you sad? What makes your heart ache? What are your greatest sorrows?
We likely have similar kinds of lists of sad things:
- Illness of a loved family member
- Cancer and terminal diseases in children (I was often profoundly sad walking halls of Cooks Hosp)
- Broken and unreconciled relationships
- Civil injustice — foolish and ungodly decisions by courts
- Cultural rejection of morality (pick your favorite topic — there are many)
Where does the rejection of the gospel fit on that list? When people have heard the gospel and reject it, does that grieve you? When people who should know the gospel and should embrace the gospel because they have heard it clearly spoken, and they reject it anyway, are you sad?
How badly do you want unbelievers to know Christ? Does your heart break for irreligious religious people — for unbelieving religious people? Specifically, do you grieve for the lostness of God’s chosen people, Israel? And what does their unbelief say about God and His relationship to us? Has the gospel failed? Or even more, has God been unfaithful to His promises?
As we open Romans 9, there is a dramatic shift in tone. Paul ends Romans 8 with a rejoicing, victorious benediction. Then Romans 9 begins with no transition word or phrase, and with a blunt statement of grief. It seems that this chapter is disharmonious with all that has preceded it. What is Paul doing? He is addressing a question that most certainly would have been in the minds of his Roman readers.
Romans 8 is victorious. But astute readers will remember that the book is an explanation of the gospel and that gospel is integrally tied to the Israelites:
- The gospel is given to the Jew first (1:16)
- The gospel is rooted in the OT principle of faith (1:17)
- The gospel is given through Christ who was promised by the prophets (1:2), and who was born as a descendent of David (1:3).
The gospel is inextricably intertwined with Israel and God’s promises to Israel. And the nation of Israel rejected Christ. She not only rejected, but she mocked, crucified, and killed Christ. She wanted no part with Him. The promises that were made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the 12 sons of Jacob — and then to Moses, David, and Jeremiah — have gone unfulfilled. Israel remained in unbelief, and still is in unbelief today.
By all appearances, Israel should have believed. She was God’s chosen nation. She had unsurpassed rights and privileges. And she did not believe. Here are the unspoken questions Paul is addressing in this passage:
- If Israel did not believe, what happened to her and what will happen to her?
- And what will happen to us who as Gentiles are not part of God’s chosen nation?
- Will God save us and keep us? Or is our future as uncertain as Israel’s seems to be?
The question of Romans 9:1-5 is —
When the gospel appears to fail, has God failed?
Underlying that question are three longings expressed by Paul in this passage:
- The Longing for Gospel Security (Context) — Is God faithful?
- The Longing for Gospel Growth (vv. 1-3) — Is the gospel powerful?
- The Longing for the Gospel for Israel (vv. 4-5) — Is Israel disinherited?
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 9:1-5.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.