Sermon Title: Objections Overruled!
Scripture reading: Romans 9:1-16
MAIN IDEA: Paul has exposed the futility of a Jew trusting in self-righteous religious ritual, rather than seeing their sin as the cause for a just condemnation and need for a Savior. Now he ANSWERS THREE OBJECTIONS to his apparent disparagement and ridicule of Judaism.
We can never grasp the good news unless we grasp the bad news and our human condition. It is too easy to spend time thinking about the wonderful news of the gospel and too often forget the condition we used to be in.
His bringing the gospel to many places, has gifted Paul to handle objections and control the argument. Up to this point he has taught: Chapter 1: People have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, so God has given them over. Chapter 2: Then he addresses the self-righteous moralism (outwardly moral) of people in general and the Jews specifically (outwardly religious) and their false assurance. Then he talks of being a Jew who is one inwardly.
Because of the end of chapter 2, someone might have a problem with Judaism, which is why he takes up the argument in chapter 3. Judaism is not the problem in and of itself, it is the misunderstanding and misapplication of Judaism. Jews rejected the Messiah and they believed, because they were God’s chosen people, they thought they were automatically chosen by God.
In this way, we have met people who believe they are saved because they prayed a prayer or were baptized or kept the Sabbath, etc. What practice do we have today that would be similar to Paul’s argument here in Romans 3 regarding circumcision? God is not obligated to save us because we pray the sinners prayer. Just as a Jew would have to be circumcised to follow God sincerely, we need to do similar things (such as genuinely repent and pray for forgiveness). Things that are done outwardly so easily can become a religious ritual. Saying things like this will automatically cause objections. So Paul handles these in Chapter 3
- OBJECTION (3:1): You’re implying there is no benefit to being Jewish and keeping the Law of God!
(3:2): Wrong! The very nature of being given the Law of God has inherent advantages!
It is great in every respect, Paul replies. What benefit is baptism, sinners prayer, etc.? The tendency of human beings is to exaggerate the point someone is trying to make (an either or fashion). Bearing the law is no good by itself. Without fully understanding and following from the heart, being a descendent of Israel is not any good. He wants us to live and love (our Jewishness/Christianity) from the heart.
Interesting note, Paul says, “first of all” but has no further list after “entrusted with the oracles of God.” The supernatural prophecies and revelations of God. The divine promises of a Savior, the revelation of a Messiah, came through the Jews (also the lineage). All of this came to the Jew first. Sooner, and better than everyone else. But, the typical Jew defined and focused on their privileges wrongly.
The point is to faithfully understand and to live it out, not just ceremoniously.
The real goal of God was the new covenant, giving a heart of flesh. The promises of God were never intended to be given apart from repentance and faith. They failed to see the need to exercise personal faith. They should have understood the promises and privileges. (2 Timothy 3:15 scripture gives wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus). John 5:38-39 search the Scriptures because you think they have eternal life, but they testify of Christ, you are missing the whole point.
Don’t get stuck on the outward things of the Law. Don’t get stuck on praying the prayer.
There are many people today who erroneously believe, because of religious rituals, they have been saved, not trusting in putting their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Not a Jew who is one outwardly, but inwardly AND not a Christian who is one outwardly, but inwardly.
Hebrews 4:2, unite the promises of God with faith. Paul is not ridiculing Judaism, but those who live it without uniting religion with faith; misunderstanding religion.
In a sense, they were wanting all the benefits of the promises of God without the responsibilities. There is no Glory of Jerusalem without the King. There is no Christianity without the Christ.
- OBJECTION (v.3:3): You’re saying unbelieving Jews can prevent God from keeping His promises!
(v.3:4): Wrong! God is always true and faithful, regardless of how men assess His actions!
The OT did promise a coming King, a Messiah, the restoration of the land. In other words, “some of us don’t believe, so God can forget His promises?” They prevent God from keeping his promises?
In Greek, word used here is strongest way to say no, can’t get any more “no” than this. Certainly Not. God forbid.
Genesis 12, God will make Abraham a great Nation, God ratifies that covenant later. The promise is kept by God. Covenant. Genesis 15, only God passes between the split animal sacrifice (signifying He was responsible to keep the promises). God makes more covenant promises (e.g., 2 Samuel 7 promises to David with the establishment of the Messiah’s everlasting throne, hence Psalm 24). We know what Paul, a Jew, knows about these promises to the Jews. Later in chapter 9, he says, don’t think these promises have failed, but know your genealogy doesn’t make you a believer. So, God will establish His promises to those who have faith.
Most of the Israelites have a hardened heart because of the saving of the bringing in of the Gentiles. Jeremiah 31, as will be explained in chapter 9-11.
Anyone with a true understanding of God will see the full expression of God’s Kingdom will be both for us spiritually and the Jews in reality.
The promises of God will be kept.
What is the significance of this for our day, understandable for us and the people we share the Gospel. Here it is, Christianity today is plagued with a similar attitude, prosperity Gospel. It connects the ideas, if you are a faithful believer, God will help you. It is faith in a positive outcome. Or, it is an interpretation of my health and prosperity is God’s blessings. The Jews of Jesus day sought the blessings of God’s promises, but did not unite the promises with faith. They wanted the glory of being a great Nation, not the establishment of God’s glory or God’s Kingdom.
We cannot pursue our happiness without obedience. We do this sometimes when we say, “I’m doing all these things right, why is God doing this?” the great privilege and aim of our life should be God’s glory. The Jews made the kingdom/Israel their aim.
We will understand blessings better if we think of them as being undeserved, because they are.
- OBJECTION (v.3:5): If Jewish unbelief is part of God’s plan for fully revealing His righteousness, then it is unjust for Him to judge their unbelief!
(v.3:6-8): Wrong! That foolish logic would render God’s justice and sovereignty to be incompatible aspects of His nature.
One of the most difficult parts of evangelizing is convincing people they are sinners, spiritually dead. Everyone thinks everyone is fine with themselves.
The end of chapter two draws the distinction of those who are saved are ones inwardly. So, this verse is a continuation of addressing the objections resulting from this.
So, there are Gentiles being saved, because of the rejection by the Jews (Romans 11:12-15). Israel’s rejection accomplishes God’s plan, but raises the question, “If Jewish unbelief is part of God’s plan for fully revealing His righteousness, then it is unjust for Him to judge their unbelief!” Wrong! That foolish logic would render God’s justice and sovereignty to be incompatible aspects of His nature.
This is a complicated question (similar to reprobate problem, how can the non-elect be judged if God did not give them faith?). This is man-centered thinking, as the parenthetical statement implies (I am speaking in human terms v.5).
Remember, the entire section is part of a bigger argument that all are under sin. So, because of this statement, mankind will not receive this truth easily.
(Romans 1:1-32 gospel for unbelievers; Romans 2:1-15 gospel for people who feel morally right; Romans 2:16-29 gospel for religious)
People would rather rationalize about sin rather than repent. That is where these objections come from. People change the argument rather than admit sin: Christians are anti-; they talk about scandals in the church; hypocrites in the church; if there is evil God is bad; prove God exists; Creation vs evolution; existence of hell; murderers shouldn’t be given; even Christians don’t agree on these issues so how can you tell me what is true.
Paul had experienced every distracting tactic after many years of street witnessing. We need to follow the example laid out here. Paul assumes the obvious, God will judge sinners. This is an axiomatic truth. (A philosopher or a rebel may say, just because Paul says its true doesn’t mean it is true.) The example here is to state the truth emphatically is a valid form of argument in our presentation of the Gospel. State it boldly, emphatically, with grace and love.
Paul restates in verse 7, “if my lie (sin) makes the truth abound more to the glory of God, why not sin more?” He answers a fool as his folly deserves. If people have that kind of logic, have not come to understand the grace of God nor of truth. Their condemnation is just. The slanderous abusive accusation against God is worthy of great judgment. Evil is evil, period. A true believer will pursue what is right for the glory of God, not evil (as stated in chapter 2:7: persevering in doing good, seeking for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life).
We, believers, delight in putting the goodness of God on display, not delight in advancing evil. We don’t ask questions, when might it be okay for me to sin.