Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
The word ?entitlement? has become a part of the public discourse in America these days. Some people suggest that the United States is becoming a society of entitlement, where everything we need or want is owed to us. When we don?t get what we want we feel we have been treated unfairly. It?s a natural human trait, actually. It even seeps into our spiritual lives as well as our material.
One of the hardest things for us to reconcile is the fact that God makes choices?that some will get to heaven and some won?t. We naturally think that this is unfair?that we are good people inside and God is big enough to just overlook our little weaknesses and give us eternal life anyway. We underestimate the purity of God and the impurity of man and how the two are irreconcilable outside of Jesus.
Romans 9 ? 11 deals with this subject, especially when it comes to reconciling the fact that some Jews are a part of God?s family and some are not.
Paul has just come from sharing one of the most affirming things possible ? that we have an unbreakable connection to a loving Father through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It seems that wonderful gift leads him to mourn for those who stubbornly refuse it.
1 ? 3
Paul was born a Jew. He loved the Jews. He took the gospel to the Jews. But despite years of work, most of the Jews rejected what he had to say. Paul feels this so deeply that he ?could wish? to become a curse himself if it meant his people would come to Christ. Was this not the exact same love that Jesus had for us? (2 Cor 5:21). Of course, it would be impossible for God to curse Paul because Jesus had already taken that curse (Gal 3:13), and Paul has just gotten done saying that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Psalm 122 says ?Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.? What is our attitude toward the Jews today? God loves them and wants so much for them to come to Him. Jesus said on his way into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday:
Luke 13:34-35 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!? How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!? 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, \'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!\'\"
Let us, like Paul, have a tremendous heart for the Jews, praying that they will see their Messiah. A day will come when Israel returns to God, and then will come forth super evangelists who will finally get it and be a force to reckon with.
4 ? 5
Paul says ?they had so much going for them.? They were supposed to be Israel, governed by God. They were adopted by God at Mt. Sinai, God showed them His glory on the mountain, married them with the covenants, gave them His character sketch in the Law, the way to worship God through the sacrifices, and the wonderful promises that awaited someone who wanted a relationship with him. And finally they were the people actually related in the flesh to the Messiah Jesus! Every one of these things point to Jesus and should have been a no-brainer once Jesus came on the scene. They had a leg up, a tremendous advantage. Yet most did not recognize Him and actually were threatened by Jesus and had Him put to death.
What happened to them in rejecting Jesus was not new. They had been rejecting God from the moment of the beginning of the marriage ceremony! We just finished studying 2 Kings 17, in which God had finally had enough of rebellious Israel and sent them into exile in Assyria.
2 Kings 17:15 ?They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false??
But Israel?s rejection of God did not mean God?s plan failed.
6 ? 13
I see two main points in this section. It involves God?s call and our choice.
1 ? Verse 6: Just because some of God?s chosen people rejected the Messiah doesn?t mean God has failed. You don?t become a Christian based on physical birth. Not all Jews by birth are part of the spiritual Israel (he?ll talk about that later in chapter 11). We have to choose to become a part of God?s family.
2 ? It involves God?s call. Paul pictures this by giving the example of Jacob?s kids: Esau and Jacob. Esau was the elder, but God chose Jacob to carry the line of the Messiah. It didn?t have anything to do with behavior. Just like you can?t get God to love you by being good or stop God from loving you because you are bad. We are ?elected? by God?s own mercy, not by our character or ancestry. It?s like getting an invitation ? we can chose to accept it or not, but it is God who chose to invite us.
So something that trips people up a lot is verse 13 ?Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.? This is a reference from Malachi 1:2-3 and refers to the nations born of Jacob and Esau. It just means that God chose Jacob to carry the line of the Messiah, not Esau. If that weren?t enough, we get an even more controversial OT reference next.
14 ? 18
We might conclude based on the Jacob/Esau thing, and this quote of God talking to Moses in Exodus 33 when Moses wanted to see God?s glory, that God is unfair to choose some and not others. What?s really going on here is the surprise that God shows mercy to anyone. Both Jacob and Esau were pretty bad guys. If righteousness was based on behavior, neither one would be chosen.
We look at it from the wrong end. God?s character is to show love. This is what he said as he passed by Moses in the cleft of the rock.
Ex 34:6-7 ?The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands,? forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin??
So God desires to show mercy and chooses by His will to show that mercy. He wants to do it for everyone, but is also holy and cannot fellowship with us who walked away from Him in the Garden of Eden. So he made a way through the line of the Messiah. Everyone who held to that promise or who holds on to Jesus gets His mercy.
Paul then uses the example of Pharaoh. In Exodus, 7 times it says Pharaoh hardened his heart, and then 7 times God hardened Pharaoh?s hearts. God will not force a relationship on anyone. In the end we get what we want. If we reject Him, he will help us in that choice, but it is not God?s desire.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
1 Tim 2:3-5 God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to? the knowledge of the truth.
So this teaches that we clearly cannot earn God?s favor, but He shows His favor to us through Jesus. He doesn?t owe us anything, but He gives us everything!
19 ? 29
This section could be very confusing unless we first understand the character of God as loving and merciful, but along with the fact that God is pure and no evil can exist in His presence. God is in the business of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. To do the restoration He must first do the redemption, or all of creation would be destroyed because it has become infected with evil.
God calls everyone but not everyone will respond. God knows this from the beginning. He then coordinates things so that it will all work out?those that reject Him will get what they want?nothing to do with God?and those who want the Lord will repent and turn to Jesus.
God is sovereign, God is pure, God is fair and just, and God is merciful. We are his creation and it is just not in the cards for us to stand in judgment of Him. No one has a claim on His mercy. It is a gift from a sovereign God.
I think we misunderstand when we ascribe to God some arbitrary or capricious motivation of picking some for destruction and some for glory. Listen:
Isaiah 55:1-3 \"Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, ?come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2? Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
?hear, that your soul may live; ?and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
Bottom line: we don?t start out from a position of power or with the ability to question God?s motives. We start our lost and hopeless by our own doing, and it is only by God?s grace and mercy that we have any hope at all.
30 ? 33
Paul concludes by reminding us of what he has covered already?namely that pursuing purity by your own strength is fruitless. It?s what the Jews did, and they failed. But God in His mercy reached down and gave us righteousness so that we not boast but glory in Him forever.
This idea becomes a stumbling block to those who cling to the idea that we can make ourselves good. If anyone could, it would have been the Jews. They had every advantage, and yet they failed.
So forget the entitlement mentality. We are not entitled to anything. We don?t get it by some right; we don?t earn it by some good work. It only comes through trusting in what God did for us in Jesus. It?s very freeing, actually. Instead of worrying so much about being good, we can concentrate on being loved and loving God back.
The Bible is the story of an infinite God reaching down to finite man. Man?s religion is all about reaching up to God. Let Him reach down and touch your life today!
?not because of works, but because of His call? vs 11
??it depends not on human exertion but on God who has mercy.? Vs 16