WHAT IF GOD?
Romans 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Amazing verses! Amazing man, the Apostle Paul! What an insight he had into the depths of the revelation of Jesus Christ! What an amazing love he had for his nation, Israel! For even after they stoned him, slandered and beat him, when he got to Rome he says to the Jewish elders, “not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.” (Acts 28:19) Rare christianity, this!
And these two verses concerning God’s absolute sovereignty over all humans are ‘sandwiched’ in by this Apostle’s expressions of affections for Israel. So the belief in sovereignty does never ‘cool evangelism,’ nor render the true christian heart stoical and uncaring! One might be a Calvinist and be distant and cold towards one’s fellowmen, but not so with a true, Spirit in-dwelt believer who nourishes the doctrines of sovereignty within his heart! Read these following verses and see for yourself that unbelievable passion resides in the heart of this man who is used to pen these verses of the strongest sovereignty.
Romans 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Does that sound like a cold hearted Calvinist? I’m afraid that what we mostly have in ‘religion’ today are either wild fire evangelicals, with no depth of doctrinal soundness, or those of intellectual theology, whose knowledge has so “puffed” them up as to be aloof from other human kind. But there are those with both the love of Christ within their hearts and the knowledge of God within their heads. These have their God-granted understanding (1 John 5:20), to be the springboard that encourages their faithfulness in preaching the gospel amidst the dry bones of their day.
For it was this word of sovereign election that spurred the Apostle Paul to encouragement at Corinth, and caused him to abide a year and a half preaching the gospel! Acts 18:9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
And the matter of sovereign election is brought up by the apostle just prior to our verses regarding the natural birth and the natural family. For in verse eleven we read, Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) God’s birthing his spiritual family, chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), takes precedent over the natural birth and family! In fact, as we shall see, the improper relating to the natural family, putting our love for them above the love of the Lord, is of a devastating eternal consequence.
Therefore one of the things which shall cause many to be surprised in hearing the words, “I never knew you,” after a life of being devoted to religious practice, will be their inordinate love of their natural family above the spiritual love of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is truly a “sword” sent by him into the realm of human kind! It even pierced into his own mother’s heart! Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Here is the passage in which our Lord introduces the sword of the Spirit, (the gospel – Ephesians 6:17), which shall divide God’s family from the natural families. Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Our Lord also dealt with this issue on a personal level. Consider his response in the matter of his earthly family attempting to interrupt his preaching which would gather his heavenly family. Matthew 12:46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
And in those verses preceding our text in Romans nine, (see verses 11-16), (where we were instructed that the purpose of God according to election is above the fruit of the natural womb), we are told that the two unborn children had done nothing good or bad, (v.11), as the basis of their being chosen or rejected. For salvation is not of works, but by grace alone!
And that virtually unknown God in today’s religious world must be dealt with! For he is the only true God! This brings on the question that must also be dealt with when the true God is preached! Here is that question: Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
The issue that is missing in religion today is that upon which this whole matter rests. It is the glory of God! That’s where sin began! We “came short” of the glory of God! (Rom. 3:23) Most do not even know what is meant when one speaks of the glory of God! Like a parrot spouting words in order to get the cracker that Polly wants, we can recite, “The chief end of man is to glorify God.” But, as far as our understanding goes, we might as well be quoting, “Humpty Dumpty had a great fall!” The proof is that we had either rather reinvent God, if we choose to abide in religion, or consider ourselves more righteous than he is, if we seek justification for leaving religion’s halls altogether.
But just how do we get the glory back? It can only be recovered through Jesus Christ and the gospel! John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
Zechariah 6:13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The good thing, which we find revealed in our text, reveals that this Great and Holy God is willing to show … To make .. known … might make known … the trueness of his Being for our salvation! John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
But that also requires vessels of wrath as necessary objects upon which to display his holy wrath! We humans mostly only see the display of sinful wrath and anger among ourselves. But God’s wrath is holy, pure and undefiled, for he is separate from sinners!
When a young woman is being attracted to a young man, he puts forth the best of his manners. But she won’t really know him until she can witness the reaction of his character in stressful conditions. Let someone dent his new car, or a waiter get his food order wrong, and then she will see him more fully for what he is. The Bride, in preaching the gospel, gets to observe her Heavenly Husband (Isaiah 54:5), regarding both those who make up the vessels of mercy, and those of the vessels of wrath. With what result? The result is praise and adoration for him in both!
Rev. 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
Rev. 16:7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments. 19:2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
The purpose for all creation is for the display of the glorious God! Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
This was the issue with God as he disputed with Moses as recorded in Numbers chapter fourteen. Due to Israel’s sin, God suggests to Moses that he will smite and disinherit them, and then make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. (Num. 14:12). But listen to the words of Moses to the Lord: Num. 14:15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, 16 Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. 17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, 18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. 19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
Do you think maybe that the Apostle Paul did his daily Bible reading in this passage as he was writing the letter to the Roman believers? For the Lord is urged by Moses to display himself in the trueness of his character! (This of course, was given to Moses’s heart for our learning by the Holy Spirit.)
But now also consider the final results of this communion between Moses and the LORD God. Num. 14:20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: 21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. 22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: 24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
These, just like those of the Lord’s day in his earthly ministry, had the glory of God revealed unto them, but they would not ascribe to God that glory which was His, by way of believing and worshipping Him! John 5:36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
All who will not ascribe glory to God, with the result of loving him with all the heart shall fall under, and cause the display of, the holy and righteous wrath of God!
This is also the reason that the Lord Jesus, walking upon the sea with the disciples in a bad storm would have passed by them. Mark 6:52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. When God’s glory is revealed in his works and we do not worship him, it hardens our hearts and sets us up for his passing us by!
Pastor Gene Breed Nov. 9, 2013