The Promises of God in the Hands of Men

If you were here yesterday you know that my initial observation of studying the sovereignty of God is that there are some strong human reactions to these truths. There are questions, objections, and stories of how the sovereignty of God plays out in very human ways. There is a paradox in all of it. We also saw how Paul’s consideration of these topics inspired in him three human passions, three reactions that are natural to any human who faces the truth of the sovereign God. Paul had an incredible burden for his countrymen that they may be saved. Paul had a sense of awe before God. Paul unreservedly surrendered his body and mind to God as an act of worship. With these things in mind I believe if we read this passage of Scripture and fall short of that we have missed the true message of Romans 9 – 12. If we approach Romans 9 – 12 as a doctrinal debate rather than a call to unreserved surrender to a sovereign God we are committing a gross injustice and belittling the text. This is why “contextual reading” is so important. If we read in only bits and pieces we miss the full picture, the full meaning of the text. If we read Romans 9 and we can think of only debate we must ask ourselves why then does Paul write all of this and it leads him to worship?

If you were not with us yesterday, here is a link to the podcast audio. Subscribe to the podcast and each new sermon will be automatically downloaded to your computer through iTunes.

What now? Well, we will continue this week to study this section of Scripture with a little more concentration on Romans 9. On Wednesday night I will talk about the doctrine of election. It will be a good time of teaching and prep that will help you get a better understanding of the passage. I encourage you to be here on Wednesday night. Also, I will ask our sound techs to record the audio so that it can be posted online along with the audio from the Sunday morning sermons.

In your personal study let me give you some clues about the passage. Paul is defending the efficacy of God’s Word; that His promises are true and they have not failed despite the fact Paul is saying God’s own chosen people are lost. Think about this. If God has chosen Israel through His covenants and promises (vv. 4-5) and yet Paul is saying that Israel has not entered into the promises of God unto salvation it logically raises the question, “Has the promise of God failed?” Has God made the wrong choice? I know this is a brain full, but in Paul’s teaching the unbelief of Israel does not call into question Israel, but the logical end is that it calls into question God; His decisions and His power to fulfill His promises. If God has promised to save His chosen people, and Paul says that God’s chosen people are not saved, has God failed? Is the Word of God a lie? Are the promises of God true?

In order to circumvent failure Paul teaches that God does not trust the fulfillment of His promises in the hands of men. God fulfills His promises despite the actions of men. In this passage Paul mentions the election of God in the life of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, Moses and Pharaoh. As a point of study, write down ten points of comparison about the character of Jacob and Esau. Compare Moses and Pharaoh. Also, write down a few of the character traits of Abraham. In doing so, refrain from painting the Sunday School picture of each of these men. Here is a hint. Pharaoh was a power hungry pagan king who thought he was god. Moses, if you remember, is no saint! What about Jacob and Esau? Which of the two was the liar? A great question to ask about Abraham is did Isaac have a brother? Why?

If you will work through these questions you will see why the election of God is such an important thing. The promises of God cannot be trusted in the hands of men for their fulfillment. Enjoy your study!

Please don't forget to comment on the posts. I know people are reading, so I would love to know what you think about the things you are studying. Did you find the brain in the Creation of Man fresco? Let me know!


Anonymous said…
When I listened to your sermon and looked at the picture of the creation of man the assumption has always been that God is about to touch Adam and bring him to life. The picture clearly shows "life" already in Adam. What if you look at it from a different perspective - God has just touched Adam and is now moving away from him. Is Adams "relaxed" posture a statement of how we as humans have become "relaxed" in our faith in God and His Lordship over our lives. Is it a statement about how casual our relationship with God is and not life depending as it should be.
Brian Branam said…
I think that's the point, it could go either way. However you look at it the reaction is totally unexpected. For me it is more of a reflexion of our truly un-human posture toward God; in indictment of modern culture.
Brian Branam said…
umm, that would be reflection. However, I do like the new word I invented "reflexion", very cool looking. I think we should inject "x" into more of our words - very intense!

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