Rejoicing in Your Place in God’s Sovereign Plan

Dr. Steve Viars April 26, 2020 Romans 9:1-13
Outline

1 John 4:19 - We love, because He first loved us.

Psalm 139:1-17 - O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar…Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it…For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

Ephesians 1:3-6 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

1 Peter 2:9 - But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…

Romans 8:18 - For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

3 responses to God’s plan of redemption

I. Be Grieved About the Spiritual Condition of Those the Lord has Placed Around You – vv. 1-5

A. The witnesses to Paul’s love

1. I am telling the truth in Christ

2. I’m not lying

3. My conscience testifies with me

4. In the Holy Spirit

B. The nature of Paul’s love

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

2 Corinthians 5:14-16 - For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh…

2 Corinthians 5:20 - Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

C. The extent of Paul’s love

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

anathema – cut off

II. Be Subdued That Access to Spiritual Truth and Blessing Is Not a Guarantee of Spiritual Life and Vitality – vv. 4-5

A. From previous chapters

1. The immoral

…suppressed the truth in unrighteousness… – Romans 1:18

…what is known about God is evident in them… – Romans 1:19

…the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen… – Romans 1:20

…so that they are without excuse… – Romans 1:20

2. The moral

Romans 2:4-5 - Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

3. The religious

Romans 2:23-24 - You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.

B. For God’s Chosen people

1. Called Israelites

2. Adopted as sons

3. Observed God’s glory

4. Benefitted from the covenants

5. Received the law

6. Experienced the temple

7. Were given the promises

8. Blessed with the fathers

9. Provided the lineage of Christ

John 1:11 - He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

C. This demonstrates the depth of man’s depravity

Romans 3:23 - …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…

Ephesians 2:1-3 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Romans 8:28 - And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:29-30 - For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

III. Be Motivated By Your Place in God’s Promises and Plan

A. This truth is taught from cover to cover in the Bible

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 - The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you…

John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

B. This is one of the many areas of life where God’s thoughts are higher than ours

Isaiah 55:8-9 - For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

C. Don’t be distracted by what this might mean to others, be amazed by what it means to you

John 21:18 - Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.

John 21:19 - Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”

John 21:22 - Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

- Do you have anyone in your life who has known and loved you for a long period of time?...

- it’s great to meet new people and make new friends…

- but there is something delightful about those with whom you go way back…

- sometimes they are the kind of relationships where you don’t have a reason or occasion to communicate for months or even years…but when you do, you just pick things up right where you left them…

- during COVID-19 I’ve had the opportunity to check in with some people like that in my life just to be sure they were doing OK during this time…and one said the other days…I appreciate our decades of friendship….

- I thought about that later – that’s pretty amazing that someone would hang in there with me for decades…there’s probably going to be a special crown in heaven for endurance like that…

- now let me ask you this – how long has the God of heaven and earth known and loved you?...

- one person might say – well, since the moment I trusted Christ as Savior and Lord…when I became a Christian was the day He began knowing and loving me…

- after thinking about it, most of us would probably respond with – no, I don’t think that’s right…because that would put us in the driver’s seat, as if we were the ones who initiated the relationship…so He loved us only after we loved Him…

- it wouldn’t be difficult to find verses in the Word of God that would suggest the opposite sequence…like when the John, the so-called “apostle of love” said - 1 John 4:19 - We love, because He first loved us.

- that’s pretty clear, isn’t it?...whether we’re talking about love for God or anyone else…who went first?...He went first…

- can we all mark that down in our minds because that incredibly simple and straightforward concept will go a long way to helping us understand the passage we’re going to study today…and also benefit from the principle in ways that are especially important during a time of crisis…

- so let’s go back to our question -- how long has the God of heaven and earth known and loved you?

- if it’s even earlier than when you repented of your sin and trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord because of his death, burial, and resurrection on your behalf (by the way – I hope you’ve come to that place…)…if its even before that, then when is it?...

- how about this…how about the day you were born…for some of you, that’s been a while…(and I’m coming up on one of those zero birthdays myself so jokes like that are less funny all the time)…but is that the answer?...He knew and loved you the day you were born?...

- that would be pretty amazing, wouldn’t it – if the details of your birth were known to Him and He loved you the moment the doctor placed you in your mother’s arms?...

- that would be amazing, but many of you are probably saying…wait a minute, I can think of Scripture that speaks about God knowing me even when I was in my mother’s womb?...seriously?...yes, seriously…here are a few verses from a wonderful Psalm that affirms that truth…

Psalm 139:1-17 - O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar…Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it…For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

- so, do you agree with this statement – God knew and loved you while you were in your mother’s womb?...while you were being formed…those dimples…that head of hair or lack thereof…

- and if you agree with God’s Word and are glad to do so – then that settles the “who went first” question?...

- you didn’t come out of the womb saying, mom/dad – I love God…that’s why I have this copy of the King James Bible in my hand…so can we go to church and maybe if I keep loving Him He’ll eventually love me…

- no – we all agree – God went first…he initiated the relationship…

- so would we conclude – God began knowing and loving you the moment you were conceived?...it’s amazing, but that’s not even close to the right answer…

- if you are a follower of Jesus Christ…when did God enter into a loving relationship with you?...here’s the way Paul explained it to the Ephesians -- Ephesians 1:3–6 - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

- you know that saying – that person is as old as dirt?...or, I feel old as dirt?...

- God knew you – with all your strengths and weaknesses and gifts and foibles and good days and bad ones – He knew you individually and personally – and if you’re a Christian – he entered into a loving relationship with you before He made dirt…

- later today – go out in your yard and dig up a handful of soil – contemplate how long that’s been around – and remind yourself…God has known and loved me personally before this stuff existed…it’s older than dirt…

- and during this time of crisis – He called me for the particular position, and task, and responsibilities that He’s given me today…

- He could have known…and loved…and called someone else for this friendship, or for this marriage, or for this job, or this responsibility, or this task…but He called me…

- as Mortdecai told Queen Esther – for such a time as this…

- and just like I have great confidence in those friends of mine who have stuck with me for a long, long time…I can have even greater confidence in a God who love and loyalty to me makes my friends’ and loved ones’ pale in comparison…

- with that great news in kind, please open your Bible this am to Romans chapter 9…

- this year we’re working our way through the book of Romans verse by verse…it’s part of our annual theme of Celebrating God’s Truth

- this morning, we’re actually crossing the line into the third major section of this book…

- the first 5 chapters are about the beauty of the gospel…about a kind of righteousness that can’t be earned by birthright or ethnicity or human works…because all of that falls short of God’s standard of perfect holiness…

- but it’s a righteousness that was earned by God’s Son on the cross of Calvary and can be imputed, or placed on a person’s account, the moment they repent and place their faith and trust in Christ…

- that’s what Paul meant when he said -- Romans 1:16–17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

- God entered into a loving relationship with His children prior to the foundation of the earth so you would one day be able, by His initiation, to exercise this kind of faith….

- then we’ve had the second major section – chapters 6-8 – about how a Christian grows…

- God did not choose us, or love us, as an end in itself…He always has a reason for what He does…which is why Peter explained… 1 Peter 2:9 - But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

- so chapters 6-8 form the most comprehensive discussion in the entire NT about how a Christian grows…and chapter 8 even explained that times of suffering can actually make those growth opportunities more pronounced…that’s why verse 18 of chapter 8 was so amazing… Romans 8:18 - For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

- only a person who was convinced that God had known/loved him/her for a long, long time could have that kind of confidence during a period of extreme suffering…

- now, the third major section is chapters 9-11 – and it addresses the question of what happened to Israel?...

- if the promises of God were made in the OT to the nation of Israel…and those promises were to culminate in God’s promised Messiah…and then many Jewish men and women rejected Christ and many non-Jewish persons were offered the gospel and believed it…

- does Paul not love his Jewish people anymore?...

- and did God’s Word fail if promises He made have not yet come to pass in them?...

- those are important questions for you and me today…especially when facing this global pandemic…how should we feel about those around us who do not yet believe the gospel?...

- what does that say about whether God’s promises are trustworthy?...

- and what should you conclude about God, and yourself – and the situation in which you’re placed today – if you I have repented and believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ?...

- now, let me say a word about the schedule…

- we knew when we designed the series that we would be breaking up this third section…

- so we’ll work on verses 1-13 this morning, and the rest of chapter 9 next week…

- then the next Sunday is Mother’s Day…and Pastor Green and his team are planning a marvelous Mother’s Day service…[based on the Governor’s announcement, develop whether people can watch with their moms, etc.]…

- I should also mention that we are working on our re-opening plan…right now we’ve met with some of our medical professionals…

- our staff is going to be making a proposal for our pastors and deacons to consider this coming Thursday….then we’ll send it out to our church family for your input…

- the challenge is to provide effective worship services that minister to your souls while also carefully protecting your body and everyone’s physical health…

- because we have so many different rooms and so many staff members…we think there are ways to accomplish both goals…we’ll keep talking about that in the coming weeks…

- we’re talking this morning about Rejoicing in Your Place in God’s Sovereign Plan…and as I read the first 13 verses, please be looking for 3 responses to God’s plan of redemption.

- Read Romans 9:1-13

- so we’re talking about Rejoicing in Your Place in God’s Sovereign Plan…let’s walk through this text and find 3 responses to God’s plan of redemption.

I. Be Grieved about the Spiritual Condition of those the Lord has Placed around You – vv. 1-5

- the principles we’re studying in this book are ones that undoubtedly Paul had been preaching publicly for some time…

- and he ‘s opened himself up to the criticism that he doesn’t care about his Jewish ethnic brothers and sisters…

- you have probably had that happen to you as well – no matter how compassionately you tried to share something from the Word of God – there will be some who say you hate them…unless you just ignore the truth of the gospel and affirm that everyone is going to heaven regardless of the choices they made on earth…so he starts the chapter with…

A. The witnesses to Paul’s love

1. I am telling the truth in Christ

2. I’m not lying

3. My conscience testifies with me

4. in the Holy Spirit

- there are other places in the NT where Paul calls upon the Lord as his witness…but never this comprehensively…

- he wants the Romans to know how serious he is about this affirmation…

B. The nature of Paul’s love

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

- these first 8 chapters were not just an academic discussion for him…

- he loved the people he was writing to, and that he was writing about…

- we see that same kind of compassion when he was writing to the Corinthians… 2 Corinthians 5:14–16 - For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh…

- that is a fascinating statement – I don’t evaluate others in my life based on worldly standards of beauty or success…

- I want the people in my life to have seen Christ at work in me and to have heard a clear presentation of the gospel…which is why he went on to say…

- 2 Corinthians 5:20 - Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

- this is the kind of love Paul is describing in Romans 9…

- about a week ago me and the Bear were downtown on a Friday picking up some dinner from one of our local restaurants…

- we have such a great downtown compared to many cities our size and there are so many local business owners who have invested so much to make that possible…I know that many of us want to support them any way we can…

- so we were down by Long Center on a Friday night in April and it reminded us of how many years our church family would have been at that same place for the Passion Play…and all of the effort…and all of the time and sacrifice…and invitations to friends and neighbors and family members for nearly 30 years…

- why? – because of the deep passion you have for those in your life who may not yet know the Lord…and thankfully there are many stories of men and women who placed their faith in Christ at that event…and the sorrow and grief turned to rejoicing…

C. The extent of Paul’s love

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

- and of course Paul is using hyperbole here – purposed exaggeration for means of effect…but he could not have spoken any stronger here…he uses the word…

- anathema – cut off

- I wish it was possible for me to give up my salvation in return for those Jewish men and women who have not repented and believed to do so…

- I hope you’re enjoying the reports you are receiving from our missionaries…if you are not receiving our Friday afternoon e-mails – reach our to my professional assistant Heather Smith -- hsmith@faithlafayette.com and she’ll add you to the list…

- but imagine what it would be like to live in a foreign country during COVID-19…but what some of them are reporting it unprecedented opportunities to present Christ…

- and frankly, they are too excited about that to worry about the inconveniences or even the danger…they love the fact that the people they have given their lives to reach are more open to considering the establishment of a personal relationship with God through trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ…

- by the way – they are thankful for your faithful, ongoing support…as you can imagine, some churches are struggling to keep up with their missionary support right now…your faithfulness, even when it’s hard is part of what is keeping them on the field without having to worry about the finance piece right now…

- we’re also hearing reports from men and women in our church who are having opportunities to watch these on-line worship services with their friends and family…and they would say – I would gladly endure all that goes with this pandemic if one of my friends or loved ones would embrace Christ…

- and by the way – you may be watching this service and are one of those persons…and maybe have even found yourself a bit irritated at times because you friend or loved one keeps talking to you about Christ --- why do they do that?...

- because they are concerned about where you are going to spend eternity…

- and they love having a personal relationship with God through Christ and they would like you to have that too…

- so, Be Grieved about the Spiritual Condition of those the Lord has Placed around You

II. Be Subdued that Access to Spiritual Truth and Blessing is Not a Guarantee of Spiritual Life and Vitality – vv. 4-5

- Paul explains his sorrow and grief is due in part to considering all the blessings his ethnic brothers and sisters enjoyed…and this builds on the three categories we saw earlier in the book…

A. From previous chapters

1. The immoral

- suppressed the truth in unrighteousness – v. 18

- what is known about God is evident in them – v. 19

- the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen – v. 20

- and how does that verse end?...

- so that they are without excuse – v. 21

2. The moral

- Romans 2:4–5 - Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

3. The religious

- Romans 2:23–24 - You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.

- Paul didn’t say any of that gleefully – the hardness of man’s heart is subduing…

- I’m trying to be kind here – but it’s like when Mayor Cuomo of NY said recently that God is not the one that flattened the curve in the state of NY – he said – we did that…

- this is the same man who proudly led his state to enact some of the brutal late-term abortion policies anyone in our country…

- the Mayor of NYC – Bill DeBlasio – encouraged the citizens of Ny not to be worried about COVID 19 – to go out to plays and enjoy themselves…

- then when conditions got so bad that outside organizations had to set up emergency hospitals in Central Park – he objected to Franklin Graham’s group Samaritan’s Purse having a temporary hospital – like they do all over the world during emergencies – because they hold to a biblical view of human sexuality…

- I don’t like mentioning such examples – but if we’re not letting such examples teach us, and subdue us – we are missing important lessons…

B. For God’s Chosen people

1. Called Israelites – that in and of itself was an incredible privilege – God could have called the Philistines…He called them…

2. Adopted as sons – not in a salvific sense, but a position of privilege as a nation

3. Observed God’s glory – verse 4 says – think about how many times that occurred

4. Benefitted from the covenants – Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, the new covenant, etc. – all promises made to them and not made to others

5. Received the law – v. 4 explains, intended to point them to their need of a Savior

6. Experienced the temple – think about the incredible privilege that was

7. Were given the promises – v. 4 ends – what Peter would later call the great and precious promises…that is, if you consider them to be precious

8. Blessed with the fathers – v. 5 – the Patriarchs

9. Provided the lineage of Christ – no other nation could claim that or any of these characteristics…

- yet when these blessings found their fulfillment in Christ… John 1:11 - He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

C. This demonstrates the depth of man’s depravity

Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—

- now, here’s a key question this morning…and it sets us up logically for what is taught in these next 3 chapters…how deep is man’s depravity?...answering this correctly also takes us back to the very first questions about who had to initiate our relationship – God or us…

- which one of these is true – were you spiritually sick, or were you spiritually dead?...

- Ephesians 2:1–3 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

- next question – do dead people ever initiate anything good?...

- that’s a very important point in Romans 9 – it’s not just a matter of asking – why didn’t these people believe in the Messiah…

- it’s also a matter of asking…why in the world did you?...

- and you could start answering that question from the perspective of your story…maybe a parent telling you about Jesus, or a friend…

- perhaps you were going through a hard time – whatever your testimony is – and it’s very true, and very powerful…

- from your perspective – you walked through an arch of repentance and faith and over the top it had words like – whosoever will may come, or whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life…

- however – that gate can also be viewed from God’s perspective…the one who initiated the process…and His side of the arch says chosen before the foundation of the world…

- how long has God known and loved you?...before the foundation of the world…

- you know, we love Romans 8:28, don’t we?... Romans 8:28 - And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

- what do the next two verses say?...

- Romans 8:29–30 - For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

- what do we do with this information?...

III. Be Motivated by Your Place in God’s Promises and Plan

- these verses are getting at the very heart of the very healthy theological tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility…

- 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…

- 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…

- many of you took me up on the suggestion to purchase Tim Keller’s short commentaries on Romans …

- there’s an appendix at the back starting on page 199 that gives a very helpful summary and explanation of the issues…we can certainly affirm…

A. This truth is taught from covert to cover in the Bible.

- after the tragedies in Genesis 1-11 of the fall, and the flood, and the tower of Babel…

- What’s the turning point?...one of the major turning points in the entire Bible?...the call of Abraham…

- did Abraham call God, or did God call Abraham?...God initiated the relationship…that’s why the questions I asked you in our introduction are so important…

- if God called Abraham – what’s the logical corollary…I suppose you could say…he didn’t call a lot of other people..

- God called the nation of Israel…he just as easily could have called the Philistines?...

- well, did He call them because they were better?... Deuteronomy 7:7–8 - The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you…

- how many disciples did Jesus call?...12…that pattern is mapped throughout Scripture…

- this isn’t a matter of – this is what Faith believes – this is what Scripture teaches…

- John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

- and you might say – there are aspects of this I don’t understand…no one does fully…

B. This is one of the many areas of life where God’s thoughts are higher than ours.

- Isaiah 55:8–9 - For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

- but this is a very important point…

C. Don’t be distracted by what this might mean to others, be amazed by what it means to you.

- do you remember after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus…when Christ appears to the disciples from the beach while they were fishing and had caught nothing…

- after he told them what to do and they caught 153 great fish…

- Peter knew it was Christ – he dove into the sea…when he got to the shore, Jesus had breakfast going and asked Peter how many times if he loved Him more than the fish?...3 times…probably to signify the number of times he had denied him…

- and each time he commissioned him…feed my lambs…feed my sheep…

- then Jesus said… John 21:18 - Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.

- what was that?...John tells us in the next verse… John 21:19 - Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He *said to him, “Follow Me!”

- next – Peter made a classic Peter mistake…do you remember what it was?...he pointed at John – and said – what about that guy?...if I am going to have to die a brutal death…I want to be sure he will too…do you remember what Jesus said?...

- John 21:22 - Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

- you and I can’t know what God is doing in someone else’s life, why, or when…

- but you can know this – if you have had a definite time in your life when you admitted your sin and placed your faith in Christ…that was a choice you made at a definite point in time…

- and as this passage so clearly affirms…in a larger context about suffering because this principle can be especially helpful when times are bleak…

- God chose you to be one of His children before the foundation of the world…

- as Pastor Goode used to like to say when he was discussing this doctrine – God didn’t just start loving you yesterday…

- so here’s my question for you this morning – at this time of inconvenience, and suffering, and hardship…what has God called you to?...

- he could have called anyone to be in your position – but He called you…

- healthcare workers – when you walk back into that building where there are COVID-19 patients and in a setting where the experts say the surge might still be coming…

- God could have called anybody for that task…but He called you…and that wasn’t a decision He made last week, or last month…that’s a decision He made before the foundation of the world…

- mom/dad – you have some concentrated time with your children right now…

- God could have given those children to anyone…He gave them to you…

- remember Jesus’ words – you did not choose me, I chose you, and ordained you…

- many of us are going to start returning to work if you haven’t been there already…

- I wonder what people are going to be talking about…

- God could have put anyone in that job…

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