Thesis:The Word of God is absolutely trustworthy, not in terms of what men think it means, but in terms of what God meant when He gave it.
Introduction:In our initial studies of Romans 9 we have seen that Paul made a big point out of the fact that he lived with a high level of emotional pain because of the condition of Israel in its "majority rejection" of the advantages God had extended to them. There are two major issues here: Paul's doctrine did not arise out of a heartless attitude toward the Jews; and God's dealings with Israel were significantly "advantageous" to the people of that nation even in their unbelief until their time ran out. There is an end to the patience of God.
But, by making the claim that God had extended significant advantages to the people of Israel in the face of the "majority rejection", Paul created at least one difficulty. That difficulty focuses upon the attendant implication of "promises rejected": does man's flawed response to God's words mean that God's words cannot be trusted?
This evening we are going to look into this difficulty to see what we can learn from it.
I. What Is the "Logic" of the False Conclusion?
A. Why would anyone say that "the word of God has come to nothing" on the basis of what Paul has written?
1. There are two contextual reasons.
a. Paul's abiding grief seems to imply some kind of divine failure.
b. God's extension of unappropriated advantages seems to imply some kind of failure.
2. There is at least one logical reason.
a. God "tolerates" the impact of man's rejection of His words and works: there is no basis for grief if God is not going to seal rejection with judgment.
b. This tolerance seems to mean that man becomes the final arbiter of what will be true, not God.
c. If man is the final arbiter, the words of God cannot ultimately mean anything.
d. Paul seemed to be saying that Israel's "rejection" of the advantages meant that Israel would not enter into those advantages ... so the "promises" of those advantages are brought to nought, are they not?
B. Why is the conclusion false?
1. The presence of grief does not equal the absence of Life.
a. This is fundamental "T"heology.
1) God experiences grief.
2) God is Life.
3) All through the Bible God is presented not as not having and experiencing the "negative" elements of reality, but as having all things in perfect balance.
a) Grief unbounded is Death.
b) Joy unbounded is Death.
b. Paul's "grief" was not a denial of his experience of the legitimate promise of Life.
1) To the degree that a man enters into the Love of God his aversion to grief is diminished.
2) To the degree that a man enters into the Faith of God his experience of a deep and abiding Joy is enhanced even in the face of real grief.
2. The presence of rejection does not equal the failure of the promise totheonewhohasbelievedit.
a. Rejection only affects the rejector, not the believer.
b. It is a part of the wisdom of God that He can, and will, take every action of every kind and turn it into an instrument of good for those who love Him.
II. What is the Value of the False Conclusion?
A. If it can be established that the word of God has been rendered ineffective, two things will occur.
1. The grief element will be rendered absolute (the balance factor will be eliminated) so that Life is destroyed.
2. God Himself will have been proven to be a Liar.
B. If it can be established that the word of God has been rendered ineffective all hope is gone.
1. If this occurs, rage will dominate.
2. If rage dominates, Sin will run free with impunity.
3. If Sin runs free, Satan has become the "God" he seeks to be and the entire creation will be immutably subverted from the Kingdom Plan.
III. Why Did Paul Bring It Up?
A. Paul's argument seems to lead directly here.
B. It is the norm for man to try to find justification for his sin by faulting the promises of God as lies.
C. It is a fact that if a believer succumbs to this lie, his experience of life will be destroyed.
D. Paul is not "into" allowing Life to be destroyed.