Rejoicing in God’s Sovereign Grace

Dr. Steve Viars May 3, 2020 Romans 9:14-33
Outline

“After Paul has treated in general the issues of salvation, a particular problem arises. It is the problem of the Jewish nation and their relation to the gospel that Paul has been setting forth in the first eight chapters.”

“The Jewish people, as a nation, had not received the gospel. They had rejected the Christ. Paul knew that. Everybody at the time knew it at the time…As time went on, a great deal of opposition had arisen from his ‘brethren according to the flesh.’”

“The gigantic proportions of this problem now appear. The whole Old Testament was simply packed with promises God had made to the Jewish nation. They were Messianic promises, promises that went with the Christ, the Messiah. Now notice the paradoxical situation. If the Jewish nation will not accept Jesus as their Messiah, then the unbelieving Jew would say there are two possible conclusions to be drawn. Either the gospel that Paul is preaching is not true, or else, if it is true, then the promises of God to Israel have failed, because the Messiah and blessing to God were connected inseparably. The Jew would say in essence that, either Jesus Christ is not the true Messiah or the Word of God has proven false…”

“Paul’s treatment of this problem is daring! He admits the fact that the Jew as a nation has rejected the gospel, and yet he takes his stand firmly and declares that the nation still has a place in the economy of God. There is nothing in all the Word of God, in logic itself, that can exceed the movement of thought constituting the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of Romans.” (J. Alva McClain, Romans – “The Gospel of God’s Grace”, pp. 172-73)

3 additional reasons to praise God for His sovereignty

I. Paul is Consistently Loving – vv. 1-5

Romans 9:2 - …that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.

Romans 9:3 - For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren

Acts 14:19 - But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

Philippians 1:13 - …so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else…

Philippians 4:22 - All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

Romans 1:5-6 - …we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ…

II. Scripture is Entirely Reliable – vv. 6-13

Romans 9:6 - But it is not as though the word of God has failed.

Acts 2:23 - …this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

III. God is Perfectly Just – vv. 14-18

A. Paul’s strong affirmation

Romans 9:14 - What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!

B. Truth from other passages

Psalm 119:137 - Righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgments.

Psalm 119:142 - Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 - Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.

C. The example of Moses

Exodus 33:19 - And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

D. The example of Pharaoh

Romans 9:17 - For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”

IV. God is Powerfully Glorious – vv 19-24

A. The anticipated objection

Romans 9:19 - You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”

B. Remember your creaturely weakness

Romans 9:20-21 - On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

James 1:13 - Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

verse 22 – …prepared for destruction…

“The Greek verb rendered prepared is passive. God is not the subject doing the preparing. There is the very clear sense in this use of the passive voice to relieve God of the responsibility and to put it fully on the shoulders of those who refuse to heed His Word and believe in His Son. They are prepared by their own rejection.” (John MacArthur, Romans 9-16, p. 40)

C. He endured with much patience those who prepared themselves for destruction

Romans 3:26 - …for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

D. God’s glory is also on display by those who receive His mercy

Romans 9:23 - And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory…

V. God is Amazingly Compassionate

A. His plan also included Gentiles

Romans 9:24-25 - …even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”

Romans 9:30 - What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith…

Romans 11:33 - Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

B. Be sure you don’t stumble over the centrality of biblical faith

Romans 9:33 - …just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

- During COVID-19, most of us have a few people who have risen to the top of our minds regarding who we trust the most as we try to understand what is occurring…

- you probably have several men or women or a local level that you have concluded – that person is smarter than me, or has access to more current information than me…so I like listening to their press conferences or public statements…

- we are all affected by what happens over at Purdue, and many in our church either work or are enrolled there…so as all of this has unfolded, there are certain men and women there you find especially trustworthy…

- you could say the same thing about leaders at the state level, and national level, even around the world…

- and if we wanted to be negative…you can probably think of men and women you might say have not proven themselves very trustworthy…when they start talking, you change the channel…

- I think it would be very interesting for the people in our church family to compare lists of which men and women we’ve found to be most reliable during this pandemic…and my guess is, there would be a lot of similarity in our lists…

- another piece of that puzzle is – even when that person tells us something we don’t want to hear, or even instructs us to do something we don’t want to do…we’ll do it, even if we don’t like it…

- and the more convinced we are that they are either smarter than us, or have more information/data/knowledge than we do – the easier it is to accept their advice and follow their counsel…

- now suppose one of your acquaintances starts bad-mouthing the very people you trust…

- let’s say a guy at the office says things like…

- well, if I was the Mayor or the County Commissioner or the Direction of Health Department or leader of one of local hospitals…the rate of infection would a lot lower than it is…

- or, if I was running things over at Purdue, the plan for the fall would be much better and much safer…

- or I was the Governor or one of the experts he has gathered around him…we’d already have this state reopened for business and there wouldn’t be a trace of infection anywhere within our borders…

- or, if he started saying the same things about our country…or maybe even with this guy, he took that position for the entire world…

- what words would you use to describe that guy?...[and please don’t say – “I thought you were talking about you” – let’s try to be kind to each other this am…]…

- it wouldn’t be long before we’d be saying he was proud…arrogant…full of himself…at some point we would probably add words like delusional…disconnected from reality…

- do you like to be around people like that?...

- are you ready for a hard question?...is it ever possible for people like you and I to come off like that…not just in our relationship with other people, but even in our relationship with God?...as if we could do a better job of being Him…than He does?...

- another way of asking that question could be…when it comes to the relationship between you and the God of heaven and earth…who is the potter, and who is the clay?...

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Romans chapter 9…

- we’re talking today about Rejoicing in God’s Sovereign Grace….and I realize you might say – that title is very similar to last Sunday’s…

- that’s on purpose because we are continuing on in our study of Romans chapter 9…

- and if you say – why didn’t you just finish that chapter last week?...what’s the answer to that question?...because I’m so committed to keeping these messages very brief…

- BTW - that’s one of the only benefits to preaching these sermons in an empty auditorium…I can make outrageous claims like that and I don’t even have to duck to avoid the rotten fruit being hurled at me from the congregation…

- anyway, we explained last week that crossing the line into chapter 9 places us in the third major section of this book…

- chapters 1 – 5 were about?...the beauty of the gospel…

- chapters 6 – 8 were about…how a Christian grows…progressive sanctification…personal and practical holiness that results from the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ…

- one of the many great commentaries on the book of Romans was written by J. Alva McClain, who for many years was the president of Grace Seminary right up the road in Winona Lake…one of the places where I studied …

- please listen carefully to the way he explains how this third section – Romans 9-11 fit into the book…

- After Paul has treated in general the issues of salvation, a particular problem arises. It is the problem of the Jewish nation and their relation to the gospel that Paul has been setting forth in the first eight chapters.

- The Jewish people, as a nation, had not received the gospel. They had rejected the Christ. Paul knew that. Everybody at the time knew it at the time…As time went on, a great deal of opposition had arisen from his “brethren according to the flesh.”

- The gigantic proportions of this problem now appear. The whole Old Testament was simply packed with promises God had made to the Jewish nation. They were Messianic promises, promises that went with the Christ, the Messiah. Now notice the paradoxical situation. If the Jewish nation will not accept Jesus as their Messiah, then the unbelieving Jew would say there are two possible conclusions to be drawn. Either the gospel that Paul is preaching is not true, or else, if it is true, then the promises of God to Israel have failed, because the Messiah and blessing to God were connected inseparably. The Jew would say in essence that, either Jesus Christ is not the true Messiah or the Word of God has proven false…

- Paul’s treatment of this problem is daring! Her admits the fact that the Jew as a nation has rejected the gospel, and yet he takes his stand firmly and declares that the nation still has a place in the economy of God. There is nothing in all the Word of God, in logic itself, that can exceed the movement of thought constituting the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of Romans. (J. Alva McClain, Romans – The Gospel of God’s Grace”, pp. 172-73).

- that is why these chapters are so very important…and please remember – Romans 8 said a lot about suffering…

- and I am convinced, that while these are some of the most challenging verses in the entire Bible to understand…there are important nuggets of truth here for people like you and me facing the very situation we’re in these days with COVID-19…

- so we’re Rejoicing in God’s Sovereign Grace this morning…and in verses 14-33, we can find 3 additional reasons to praise God for His sovereignty.

- now you might say – what do you mean, 3 additional reasons?...please think back to what we had last week from verses 1-13…

- what were the two reasons we could be thankful from the material last Sunday?...

I. Paul is Consistently Loving – vv. 1-5

- he said in - Romans 9:2 - that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.

- he even said -- Romans 9:3 - For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren

- so why was Paul so loving?...

- was it because the other people in his life had treated him so well?...

- here’s an extra credit assignment this am – you could do this as an individual, or a group of friends properly socially distanced, or as a family…

- think about how many examples there are in the Bible of Paul being terribly mistreated but choosing to love others for the sake of the gospel anyway…

- here’s a few quick hints…go through the book of Acts and watch the way Paul and his associated were treated by unbelieving Jews – here’s a quick taste… Acts 14:19 - But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

- and yet what did Paul say about those same kind of persons in Romans 9?...

- think about the Philippian jailer in Acts 16…how did Paul get in jail?...after yet another beating with rods…and then they were thrown in the inner prison and their feet were “fastened in the stocks”…so what did Paul and Silas do?...they had a worship service…and all the other prisoners were listening…

- why, because they cared more about the proclamation of the gospel than their own comfort or expectation of fair treatment…

- then there was an earthquake – and who was Paul most concerned about – the jailer…and before that episode was over…the jailer and his entire family became followers of Jesus…that’s called being consistently loving…

- think about the way Paul treated the sailors during their shipwreck in Acts 27 which occurred in part because they didn’t listen to Paul’s advice…his tenderness with them was incredible…

- or how excited he was when he wrote the book of Philippians because even though he was in jail…remember -- Philippians 1:13 - so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,

- … why was he so excited?...because the people he was coming to love were placing their faith in Christ…which is why you have this statement right at the end…Philippians 4:22 - All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

- now, why can we especially rejoice at this attitude on the part of Paul…because he would be the first to tell you – that’s not the way he always thought about the church…what made the change?...God’s sovereign grace…that’s why Paul began the book of Romans by introducing himself as… Romans 1:5–6 - …we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

- Paul’s amazing love for others is a reason to rejoice in the sovereign grace of God..

- then there was a second reason…

II. Scripture is Entirely Reliable – vv. 6-13

- Romans 9:6 - But it is not as though the word of God has failed.

- that charge cannot be allowed to stand…just like the foolish person who might say…COVID-19 is not that serious…

- what do the scientists and the doctors and the healthcare and political leaders do to help us not make that mistake?...they pull back the curtain and they show us the facts…

- and we may not like to hear about all this death…and we may not like to hear about how infectious it is…we might not like to hear that asymptomatic people can infect others and on and on…

- but we trust people who tell us the truth even when we don’t want to hear it and we submit to those we trust even when they are telling us to do things we don’t want to do…

- that’s what’s happening in the passage…God is pulling back the curtain of His sovereignty…and He is showing us aspects of His plan, or His decrees, of His dealings with a sin-cursed human race that is far higher than we could ever understand…

- but here’s the bottom line…Israel’s unbelief is entirely consistent with God’s eternal plan…

- many unbelieving Jews who chose to reject the gospel were allowed to do so and as a consequence of their unbelief and rebellion were even hardened in their unbelief…

- do you remember that haunting phrase in Romans 1 – “He gave them over…”

- that’s why one of the verses we’re about to read quotes the OT writer Isaiah’s prophecy about the remnant in Israel who will be saved…

- it was never God’s plan to force people who did not want to believe to do so anyway…

- remember what we said last week -- no one who ever wanted to become a Christian was ever denied that privilege…and no one who ever did not want to become a Christian was ever forced to make that choice…

- this is the balance is the Bible between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility…and we could spend hours and hours seeing examples of it throughout Scripture…

- for example – did Jesus know Peter was going to deny Him 3 times?...absolutely…so is there a sense in which that was part of God’s sovereign plan?...yes, or it would not have occurred…

- did Jesus force Peter to do that?...no, in fact He warned him not to…

- and Peter in his pride did not listen…

- were Peter’s 3 denials his fault, or God’s fault…clearly they were his…

- or those who crucified Christ…was that part of God’s sovereign plan?...absolutely…were the human beings involved fully responsible for the choices they made…absolutely again…and Scripture constantly navigates between those poles…watch this…

- Acts 2:23 - this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

- boom – that’s exactly it -- at a level of divine planning that you and I could never fully comprehend, God chooses those who are going to believe…but in a way that renders every person responsible for the choices they make…

- a person’s unbelief, or an entire nation’s unbelief doesn’t mean God’s Word is unreliable – it means the exact opposite…and one other thing about this that gives even more cause for rejoicing…when was all this determined…how long has God been loving you?....before the foundation of the world…

- Elain Lucas sent me this picture this week of she and her 12 year old granddaughter planting seeds this week -- …rejoicing with her grandma that God’s sovereign plan and His love for her had been in place before the foundation of the world…

- now, with that in mind…let’s get our biblical prospector’s tools out and mine three more reasons to rejoice in God’s sovereign grace from the rest of the this chapter…

- read Romans 9:14-22

- so we’re Rejoicing in God’s Sovereign Grace, and let’s find 3 additional reasons to praise God for His sovereignty

III. God is Perfectly Just – vv. 14-18

A. Paul’s strong affirmation

Romans 9:14 - What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!

- we’ve seen that phrase before – in fact it’s used 10 times in this book…ma ginataw – absolutely not…God forbid…no, no, a thousand times no…

- the record of God’s justice is clear and undeniable…

B. Truth from other passages

- Psalm 119:137 - Righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgments.

- Psalm 119:142 - Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth.

- Jeremiah 9:23–24 - Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.

- that’s incredibly good news when we consider the beauty of God’s plan of salvation…and also the challenges we are facing in our word today…

- whatever phrase you might want to use to describe this pandemic – “lack of God’s justice” certainly is not one of them…and those who are washed in the blood of Lamb and therefore clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ can take great comfort in that…

- then to be sure we understand this logically, Paul cites 2 fascinating examples…

C. The example of Moses.

- verse 15 is talking about the sad day when the children of Israel fashioned a golden calf and danced around it as if that was the God who had parted the Red Sea…

- where was Moses?...he was receiving the ten commandments…and God had warned them about His holiness and what a sacred event that was in their entire national history…

- and what happened as a result of their incredible apostacy?...

- before you answer that question – what should have happened?...the entire nation should have been annihilated…that would have been raw justice…

- what did happen – 3000 men were put to death…

- and in a very intimate conversation the Lord later had with Moses in Exodus 33 -- Exodus 33:19 - And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

- now, here’s the question – does God have that right?...let’s say that you received a $1200 stimulus check from the government and you chose to keep $600 for yourself and give $100 each to six people in need…

- could someone criticize you for that?...certainly not on the basis of justice…

- then we get to the crux of the matter with the next example…

D. The example of Pharaoh

- did Pharaoh harden his heart?...absolutely…

- think about what his predecessor did to Jewish baby boys at the time of Moses’ birth…how cruel and ruthless to make women drown them in the Nile River…

- think about the way this Pharaoh responded to Moses’ request to let God’s people go and worship in the wildness…

- and at some point – God removed the restraint…just like the terminology we saw in Romans 1 – he gave them up – in that same sense he hardened Pharaoh’s heart…

- and here’s what we need to see – there is no way Pharaoh could blame that on anyone but himself…

- but…and please don’t miss this…Pharaoh’s stubborn rebellion and the subsequent judgment he received brought glory to God…

- Romans 9:17 - For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”

- God will either be glorified by the blessing that comes as a result of your repentance and faith or the judgement that follows your rejection and disobedience…

- now, what do we read next?...

IV. God is Powerfully Glorious – vv 19-24

A. The anticipated objection

- Romans 9:19 - You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”

- in other words, God is not wise enough, or powerful enough, or glorious enough to design the salvation process that includes the perfect balance between His sovereignty and man’s responsibility…

- that’s just like our proud, foolish guy in the introduction who seemed to believe – if he didn’t understand something about infectious diseases – no one did…

B. Remember your creaturely weakness

- Romans 9:20–21 - On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

- don’t you love how picturesque the Bible is to help us understand our relationship with God?...and there’s actually two questions in those verses…and what are the correct answers?...

- no, the clay would never speak back to the potter…

- and yes, the potter has a right over His clay…

- now, a point that J. Alva McClain makes that is very important is…this is not talking about God in creation…God did not make human beings sinful…

- James 1:13 - Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

- and this is an important key to all of this…

- do you see the phrase at the end of verse 22 – prepared for destruction

- who did the preparing?...

- The Greek verb rendered prepared is passive. God is not the subject doing the preparing. There is the very clear sense in this use of the passive voice to relieve God of the responsibility and to put it fully on the shoulders of those who refuse to heed His Word and believe in His Son. They are prepared by their own rejection…(John MacArthur, Romans 9-16, p. 40).

- the principle is…

C. He endured with much patience those who prepared themselves for destruction

- when I first came to Faith, I counseled with our former senior pastor, Pastor Goode for a couple of months…

- he had a couple of cases going that were very complex plus we just wanted to be sure we were on the same page before we started counseling more individually…

- Pastor Goode was a very gracious man…he was a wonderful pastor…and he devoted thousands of hours with men and women showing them from Scripture the steps God wanted them to take…

- but every so often someone would just refuse to do what God wanted them to do, over and over and over…

- and Pastor Goode was very patient with them…but he had a moved that I eventually started calling “closing the file”…

- where he would do just that – he would close the file folder and say to someone…I’m sorry, I cannot help you…which would be very surprising to a person…

- then he would say…you’re not taking this seriously…you’re not grieved about your sin…you don’t want to know and please God…and then he would say, and what saddens me is that the Bible is clear in places like Proverbs 13:15 – the way of the transgressor is hard…and I hate to see you have to suffer the consequences of your choices…and God is going to be glorified either way, but I hate to see you face the hardness that comes from the way of the transgressor…because after all [develop]…

- and after he had gone on about that for several minutes – I wanted to repent about something…

- and over these past 32+ years, I’ve seen the trajectory of a lot of lives…

- God’s Word, and God’s justice, and God’s glory are not at stake in the choices human beings make…but if you don’t know Christ – really know Him personally – you do not want to harden your heart and then be in a position where he gives you up and allows you to go your own way…

- friend – you want to turn around while you have the opportunity to do so…and here’s why…

- There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins…and sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains…

- that’s why it is so important that the gospel affirm that God is not only just…Romans 3:26 - for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

- when you do that, what does 24 say happens to you?...

D. God’s glory is also on display by those who receive His mercy

- Romans 9:23 - And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

- see, there’s a beauty and a freedom to those who say – I’m not qualified to be the potter…but I am personally related to someone who is…

- and there are 2 significant implications of this…

1. Regarding salvation – I don’t have to perfectly understand the exact balance between divine sovereignty and human responsibility…someone a whole lot smarter than me, with access to far more data than I’ll ever have – is responsible for that – He’s the potter…

- my job is to repent and believe, grow in personal holiness, and tell others about Christ…I’ll leave what happen next to that person and the Lord…

2. Regarding the trials and suffering of this life…

- if God is the Potter…and He is…do you realize the burden that lifts from our shoulders?

- we’re all having to think about decisions regarding going out into public, shopping at stores, returning to normal routines…

- the question of what constitutes appropriate risk is going to be with us for a long time…

- but friend – you don’t have to be the Potter…

- we can make the wisest decisions we can, based on the best information we have…and then trust Him…

- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, leaning not to your own understanding…

- Casting all your care upon Him…[1 Peter 5:7…]

- now, this last part of the chapter is huge…

V. God is Amazingly Compassionate

- what was the result of some, perhaps many Jewish men and women being allowed to reject Christ as their promised Messiah…

A. His plan also included Gentiles

- Romans 9:24–25 - even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’ ”

- Romans 9:30 - What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith;

- this is not a matter of Paul not loving Jewish persons…

- it is not a matter of the Word of God failing

- its not that God is unjust or powerless…

- in fact – this is why this entire section will eventually end with these words…Romans 11:33 - Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

- God allowed some people to continue in their stubborn unbelief, so that people from every tribe and nation would have the opportunity to believe on Christ…

B. Be sure you don’t stumble over the centrality of biblical faith.

- Romans 9:33 - just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

- friend, would we all agree this morning – it’s pointless and frustrating to act as if we are qualified to be the potter…

- we had a rather dramatic example of this at our house recently…

- our son the Bear and Barry Redding have been getting together on Monday nights while I’m at the counseling and they have a Bible study and then they work on craft projects together…

- so one of the things they have been doing is modeling clay…including making this Bear named Ex-hume…

- since Covid-19, they have been doing their Bible study over the phone…but at least Bear had some of his projects…

- then Ex-hume was dropped on the floor – and as you can see, he now has, in Bear’s words, a “bum wheel” [that would be a broken foot for those not initiated in his language]…

- so in an attempt to help us, Barry was kind enough to drop a bag of modeling clay on our front porch, with the instructions…maybe your dad can help you make another one…

- does anyone see a possible flaw in that plan?...

- I have no creative ability whatsoever…me even trying to do that would be an epic fail…

- we will just gladly wait until we can be reunited with the potter…

- friend – when it comes to the nuances of the salvation process…

- when it comes to facing hardships and suffering…

- let’s be quick to affirm…I’m not qualified to be the potter – but I am personally related to the One who is…

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video