ROMANS:THE ROAD TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

No Hope Without the Mercy of God

9:19-33

Jerry A. Collins

5/9/04

SCC

 

*               How should we respond to the sovereignty of God?

*               What is a vessel of Godís mercy and Godís wrath?

*               What is the stone of stumbling for the Jews?

 

It is said that Napoleon was approached by a mother seeking a pardon for her son. Napoleon responded that her son had committed this particular offense on two occasions and justice now demanded his death. ĎBut I do not ask for justiceí she said, ĎI plead for mercyí. ĎBut your son does not deserve mercyí Napoleon replied. ĎYesí she cried, Ďit would not be mercy if he deserved it and mercy is all I ask forí. ĎWell thení the emperor said, ĎI will have mercyí. And he spared the son from the justice he deserved. Mercy then is not receiving what you justly deserve. Godís mercy toward us has been established already. God has the right to show mercy to whomever he chooses vs 15. It does not depend at all on any effort I put out to deserve it nor does it have anything to do with my pedigreeó2 arguments being used by Jews assuming they were deserving recipients of Gods mercy. They assumed they had an inside track on God and that they were better than other people. Salvation does not depend on national privilege. Even tho the Jews had this, they still missed out in mass. Salvation comes thru belief in the promise included in the sovereign choices of God. The choice of Isaac as the promised seed and the choice of Jacob instead of Esau indicate that it has always been based on Godís sovereign choice not our earned status. Godís Word has not failed here but been actually fulfilled thru Gods choices. The conclusion of vs 18 can seem fatalistic then. And a skeptic may conclude that being the case, why is it that God still finds fault? Who is able to resist him? If God makes the choices, how can he hold me responsible? Accusations and bitter charges against God are not something new.

1. QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE POTTER AND THE CLAY MAKES CRITICISM OF POTTER FOOLISH 19-21

(1) I cannot charge God with being unjust 19-20a. Examine my credentials. Who are you o manÖ First, I am created. I have no authority over my creator. Second, I am finite. My knowledge is limited and my understanding small. Third, I am frail. I am weak, limited in strength and have a short lifespan. Fourth, I am foolish, prone to blunders, deceived and deceptive. God is none of this. God is three Oís and a jesuithil. There is no comparison.

(2) I cannot tell God how to shape my life 20b. Why did you make me like this? Not one of us had any say in who our parents would be. Or what personality we would have. Or the color eyes be given. Or what nationality I am. God made that choice for me. It is presumptuous for me to sit in judgment upon God. Judging is Godís prerogative not mine.

(3) I have no right to complain to God about His work or behavior 21. The clay cannot tell the potter what he can do with the clay. I do not ask the plants permission to work in the garden. It is ludicrous to think I need a gardens permission or understanding before I can shape it and use it. The point here is inappropriateness of Israel to be critical of Godís use of them for shaping her according to Godís particular purpose of His own choosing. She had originally been chosen for an honorable use. It states that the potter molds his clay and then makes itís use for either honorable use or common use. Some clay formed into a beautiful vase and another into a cooking pot. We come into Godís hands sinful vessels, sin that God did not put there and He molds our lives for His purposes. What are you giving to God to mold? What attitudes? What ambitions? What values? What thinking? We are incapable of judging God of the use of His sovereignty in an unwise, unrighteous way. There is an infinite, qualitative difference between the potter and the clay that makes it foolish and wrong to criticize the choices of the potter.

2. THE PURPOSE IS TO DISPLAY GODíS GLORY FOR VESSELS OF MERCY 22-26

(1) God endures defiant sinners to reveal His wrath against sin vs 22. These vessels have fitted or prepared themselves (middle voice) for destruction. They have made themselves ripe and ready for judgment. God has patiently endured their antagonism but their judgment is coming. Romans 2:5 says, they are storing up wrath against themselves. People prepare themselves for destruction by pursuing sin (Romans 1). Pharoah was such a vessel of wrath. But so is Israel who opposed the very gospel being preached by Christ and the apostles giving them ample time to repent in Godís mercy. (2) Godís patience is to show His glory to the recipients of His mercy 23. God endures one for the sake of the other. And these were prepared beforehand, ahead of time for this glory. So the reason for having us as objects of His mercy is to glorify Him. We advertise the character and the nature and the riches of God! We can say more about God because of His mercy toward us. We can display more of Godís character by our mercy toward others. In all of this God is glorified. But it is with the backdrop of His justice, His wrath, His sovereignty. And these vessels include both Jews and Gentiles vs 24.

3. OBJECTS OF GODíS CHOICE ARE THOSE WHO SEE SELVES AS PITIFUL & NEED MERCY 25-29

God gave a call both in vs 24 and 25 and it refers to a call to salvation. Some will answer this while many will not.

(1) The inclusion of gentiles in this group in harmony with OT Hosea 25-26. By Godís mercy believing gentiles became part of the church.

(2) Israelís election as a nation did not preclude Godís judgment of the unbelievers in it 27-28. And Isaiah says Godís mercy and faithfulness delivered a remnant of Jews while most of them perished. Now that remnant is part of the church as well (Acts, James).

(3) Apart from Godís protection of His people none of them including us would have made it and none of us would have been saved 29. Our destruction would have been as complete as Sodom and Gomorrah. This remnant is proof of Godís mercy to Israel today. Jews for Jesus is example.

4. STUMBLING OVER JESUS MEANS NOT PREDESTINED TO RECEIVE MERCY30-33

(1) Israel struggled hard to obtain justification by doing good works or depending upon their pedigree but did not arrive at the righteousness of the God of the Law 30-31. But Gentiles obtained the prize by believing the gospel..were not running that hard.

(2) Israel as whole, excluding remnant, failed to gain righteous standing before God because she tried to obtain it by works. However, they stumbled over a stone in the road that hindered their progress. So intent on winning Godís approval they could not even recognize the Stone tripping over as one prophesied in OT who provides their salvation. They did not allow Christ to fulfill this function for them. Consequently he became a stumbling stone for them. Matt 11:6 Blessed is He who keeps from stumbling over meí.

1. Donít ever assume that you know better than God what should be done. You may be tempted to.

2. Godís patience with sinners is not condoning their sin but giving opportunity for a display of His glory by means of His mercy.

3. God is merciful toward the humbleóthose recognizing their need before God.

4. Coming to Jesus with repentant heart will make you recipient of Godís mercy.