“It’s Not Fair!” — A Question of God’s Righteousness
September 1, 2019
In homes with children — especially young children — there is an often repeated declaration that particularly reveals the theology of the children: “It’s not fair.”
- When dad receives a larger portion of ice cream for dessert, “it’s not fair.” (The same thing might not be said when dad takes more broccoli during dinner.)
- When an older sibling’s bedtime is extended, “it’s not fair.”
- When a younger sibling receives a more expensive gift from Grandma at Christmas, “it’s not fair.”
- When the child doesn’t get to start for his baseball team in the playoffs, “it’s not fair.”
- When a friend, who doesn’t study as much as the child, receives a better final grade, “it’s not fair.”
- When the teenager doesn’t get the anticipated promotion at work (or scholarship), “it’s not fair.”
With every “it’s not fair” statement, the child is revealing his theology. He thinks he is revealing a theology of supreme righteousness, but in actuality he is revealing a theology that asserts that he is to be the Lord of the universe and that all things in all places are to be for him and for his glory. He needs to have his basic belief system realigned to the truth. And a wise parent will help him with that.
In a very similar way, there are common protestations against God, His sovereignty, and His salvation. The theological term for these protests is “theodicy” (God + Righteousness). “Is God righteous when there is suffering, evil, Hell, judgment, etc.…?” It is this very question that Paul is addressing in Romans 9. After asserting God’s sovereignty in salvation, Paul addresses two anticipated objections to divine election. The first question is in vv. 14-18 — “Is God unjust in choosing?” And the second is in the passage before us today (vv. 19ff) — “If God sovereignly chooses and hardens, then how can He condemn anyone to Hell?”
Let’s summarize it this way:
God’s divine election is just and God’s condemnation of sinners to Hell is just.
That is Paul’s conclusion, but his answer to the question is different than what we might anticipate. We will see the righteousness of God revealed in a dialog of two questions:
- Man Questions God: “Is God’s Condemnation Right?” (v. 19)
- God Questions Man (vv. 20-23)
- “Who is Man?” (v. 20)
- “Doesn’t a Sovereign God Have Rights?” (v. 21)
- “Isn’t Judgment a Demonstration of God’s Just Purposes?” (vv. 22-23)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 9:19-23.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.