April 28, 2004

The Gospel and God's Sovereignty

This is a few days late, but what follows is the outline of Sunday's sermon. This is the continuation of the lesson from last week, The Gospel and God's Choice, on Romans 9:1-18.

The Gospel and God's Sovereignty: Romans 9:19-29

As with last week, Paul continues to answer the objections raised by Jewish critics of his gospel message of grace, through faith, for all.

  1. God's right to make saving choices is not up for human review (19-20).

    The objection is raised that if God is sovereign over salvation, then he should not find fault for people being what they are. To this, Paul fires back some rhetorical questions of his own.

    1. The clay doesn't have the capacity to critique the Potter (20).

      This is a no-brainer; after all, clay has no brains. There is a fundamental difference between the potter and the clay. Yet it is we who are the clay (cf. 2 Cor. 4:7).

      This is why Job got into trouble with God. He crossed a line by presuming to correc the Almighty (Job 40:1-2). See also Isa. 45:9. Job went from questioning God to quarrelling with him, from "Where are you?" to "How dare you?"

      None of this is to say we cannot question God or bring our troubles to him. See Psalm 62:8, for example. We can talk to God, but not talk back to him. The clay has no capacity to critique the potter.

    2. The Potter has the right to do what He wants with the clay (21).

      God is sovereign over all that he has made; he does not answer to us, but to his own perfections. Unfortunately, we live in an era that exalts self-esteem when it should be esteeming God.

      Does this mean God is silent about his purposes? No, in fact Paul gives a hint about why God does what he does: to make his glory known.

  2. God's sovereign choices will reveal His surpassing glory.
    1. The glory of His righteous judgments (22).

      This has already happened, big time, in the story of Moses and Pharaoh. See Exod. 14:4: "the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord."

    2. The glory of His great patience (22).

      Why does God allow evil people to persist? Because it shows his great patience.

    3. The glory of His saving mercy (23).

      If we got what we deserved, we would get only wrath. But instead God shows mercy, both to Jews and Gentiles. Paul quotes both Hosea and Isaiah to prove this point.

    Why does God want to display his glory? For us, it is the best thing he could do, because we were created to savour it. God allows us to know him, to come close to him. God's sovereign glory is our supreme good.

In addition, the evening sermon was a followup titled "Questions About God's Sovereignty." Unfortunately I missed it due to another meeting commitment that night, but I snagged the outline on the way out. I think I have done a passable job filling in the blanks.

Questions About God's Sovereignty: Biblical Answers for Head and Heart

Definition of God's Sovereignty: God's right to do anything He wishes in line with His own perfections.

  1. God is sovereign over all things.
    1. Divine Names
    2. Biblical Statements
  2. God sovereignly uses evil without creating evil.
  3. God sovereignly works through evil people.
  4. God sovereignly works in ways that sometimes leave us perplexed.
  5. Responding to a Sovereign God
    1. Talk to Him about what's on your mind.
    2. Accept responsibility for what's in your heart.
    3. Trust Him for what's beyond your control.