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Romans 9:1-5                                                                     12th/13th August, 2017

by Pastor Michael Dutschke

I went to a conference a couple of years ago and heard a speaker named Mick Duncan.  He was talking about coming alongside “hard to love” people.  Anyway, he told the story of a situation with his neighbours who he and his wife had been coming “alongside” of.  He was at work and got a call from his neighbours asking him to come home immediately because there were big men at the door who wanted to cart away all their furniture.  It soon became clear that their neighbours were behind in their credit card or finance company payments.  The big men at the door had come to repossess unpaid for goods.  Mick and his wife went to the finance company and handed over $2000, and the emergency was averted.  They then made it very clear to their neighbours that this was a gift that they did not have to repay AND this was a once off effort to help them get back on their feet.  Why?

Give once and you elicit appreciation

Give twice and you create anticipation

Give three times and you create expectation

Give four times and it becomes entitlement

The Love of God.  Blessing from God.  Being called a child of God.

Is that a gift or an entitlement?  We will look at that Today.

I’m currently preaching a series of sermons on book of Romans.  The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the first followers of Jesus in Rome, to lay the foundations of who Jesus is, and to teach them what it looks like to live a life as Jesus disciples.  One thing that Paul emphasised again and again was how much God loved them, that this great love was a gift from God that they didn’t deserve or earn, and that because of their faith in Jesus, nothing could ever separate them from the Love of God.  Through their faith in Jesus they were now perfect in God’s sight, and had been adopted as God’s sons and daughters.  

Here’s is one way to sum up Paul’s message.  We have received

GRACE – getting what we don’t deserve (a gift) 

MERCY – not getting what we do deserve (a gift)

through

FAITH – in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

Hear the joy in Paul’s writings where he says,

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39.

Contrast the Joy of end of chapter 8 with sorrow and anguish in chapter 9.

Why?  Because of those who were separated from God.

Who?  His relatives.  His people.  The Jews.

My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief or my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. Romans 9:2

So much anguish, that he would willingly trade places with them.

I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.   Romans 9:3.

Anguish over them being separated from God.  The reason they were separated from God is not because they we’re chosen.  They were the chosen ones.

They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.

Romans 9:4

Why did God choose Abraham?  Did he deserve it? No.  It was a gift. 

Why did God give Abraham and his descendants a land flowing with milk and honey?  Did they deserve that?  No, it was a gift.

Did they deserve to be rescued out of slavery in Egypt?  No, it was a gift.

Did they deserve to be given the 10 commandments?  No, they were a gift.

Jews did not deserve to be the chosen ones.

They did not deserve to be given a land flowing with milk and honey.

They did not deserve to be rescued from Egypt.

They did not deserve to be rescued again and again when as a consequence of their rebellion against God, he let their enemies oppress them. 

From day one, every good thing they had was because of the GRACE and MERCY of God.

Somewhere along the way, sadly, the majority of Jews believed that they were entitled to the Love of God.  They deserved the Love of God.  After all:

1)       They were the chosen ones.  God’ people.

2)       They somehow earned His love, because from their perspective, they were keeping God’s 10 commandments.  Not only 10, but all the bi-laws.  613 of them.

They didn’t need GRACE.  They were entitled to it.

They didn’t need MERCY.  They were keeping all the laws.

Paul put himself in that category.

I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.  Philippians 3:5-6

What did Paul say about his great credentials?

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Philippians 3: 8-9

The Pharisees and religious leaders didn’t believe Jesus when he tried to show them that they still needed to GRACE of God and the MERCY of God.

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

John 8:31-33

“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! ...“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28

 When anyone believes they are entitled to be called a child of God, they have forgotten that they need GRACE.  When anyone believes they deserve the Love of God, they have forgotten that they need MERCY.

Are you entitled

-       to good health?

-       to good relationships?

-       to prosperity?

No!  Every good thing we receive is a gift of God’s GRACE.

Do you deserve:

-       to be rewarded for doing good things?

-       for your life to be free of tragedy?

-       for God to bless you?

No!  Everything good that happens to us is because of the MERCY of God.

We NEVER move beyond needing the GRACE of God and the MERCY of God.

That is why at a Lutheran Worship Service we regularly confess our sins, and come to the Lord’s table.  These things remind us how much we need the GRACE and MERCY of God.  And thank God that He shows His GRACE and MERCY to us everyday.

AMEN

Pastor's Message