- Sermon Notes
Faith is Our Victory
Romans is filled with great encouragement to strengthen our faith and our relationship to God. It’s also filled with some of the deepest theological truths in the New Testament. That’s especially true in Romans chapter 9. Many books have been written debating the meaning and theological implications of these verses, but the most helpful way to understand this chapter, and frankly all chapters of the Bible, is to understand the book as a whole. That’s why it’s so important to go verse by verse, chapter by chapter through this amazing book.
Chapter by chapter, Paul has been building up to Romans 8, building the case that we really can be victorious. Yes, we live in a broken and evil world, but we do not need to be discouraged or defeated, if God is for us, who can be against us? But we also have this flesh of ours; we were born with it and will die with it, but it must not master over us, we can be victorious because we have God as our Abba, Father and He sends His Holy Spirit to ignite our soul and strengthen us in our walk so we can have life and life abundantly.
The capstone of the entire book of Romans is found in the verses, “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In other words, God doesn’t just want us to be victorious, He wants us to have surpassing victory, a lopsided victory, like when Seattle Seahawks dominated the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last year. I was hoping to use this year’s Super Bowl as an illustration, but that didn’t work out so well. Could someone just run the ball!!
In Romans 9, Paul begins by expressing his deep sorrow and unceasing grief in his heart because his own brethren, the Israelites, do not have this surpassing victory. They are still stuck with the Law, trying to obtain their own righteousness rather than receiving the righteousness that God gives as a gift. Paul knows all about the frustration of living under the Law, he himself was one of their leaders, a Pharisee trained under the famous Gamaliel.
The Law is no help at all, it doesn’t make a man closer to God and it only makes the flesh worse. Surpassing victory is for those who have faith, who believe God and take Him at His word, and stand on those amazing promises from Romans 8.
Paul then makes the point that it’s always been about faith, even going all the way back to the beginning. God’s promises are not received by the flesh, they are received by faith, that’s how you have surpassing spiritual victory.
I. Receive Promises by Faith
- Paul has great sorrow and unceasing grief in his heart because the Israelites had so much, and yet they didn’t receive those great promises by faith.
- Paul’s great sorrow and unceasing grief was so great that he said, “I could wish that I myself were accursed; separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren.” It takes a deep love to wish for something like that.
Illus - When our daughter, Nicole, had Kawasaki’s syndrome and was wracked with pain, I would’ve most willingly taken that pain myself. But isn’t this a picture of our Father’s love toward us?
- Verse 32 – Israel had such great promises, but, “They did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone…”
A. Israel had great promises
- If Israel could’ve only seen what they had and taken hold of those promises by faith.
- They had the adoption as sons – he is referring to Israel as a nation.
Exodus 4:22, “Israel is my son, My firstborn.”
Hosea 11:1, 3, When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son… It is I who taught him to walk, I took him in My arms; but they did not know that it was I who healed them.
- Israel had the glory. The presence of God is seen in His glory. From the beginning His heart has been for intimacy, for relationship.
- God walked with Adam in the cool of the evening, what a beautiful picture of that relationship.
- When Moses was on Mount Sinai in the presence of the Lord, God’s glory was visible on his face.
- God gave Israel the tabernacle; the Temple, as a place for His glory to dwell, that they might visibly see that He was in their midst.
Isaiah 60:1, Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Ezekiel 43:4-5, The glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house.
- Israel had the covenants, the giving of the Law and the Temple service, and the promises, and from whom is the Messiah who is over all.
- All these were unique to Israel, God chose them amongst all the nations of the earth.
Deuteronomy 7:6, The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession.
B. We have even better promises
- How tragic that Israel had such amazing promises, but did not receive them by faith. But we have even greater promises; what an even greater tragedy if we do not receive greater promises by faith.
Illus – It’s like bringing your own tuna on crackers…
- We have received the Spirit of adoption, not as a nation, but as true adopted sons so that each of us can cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
- Israel received the glory of God, but we have received a greater glory, a glory that does not fade.
2 Corinthians 3:7-8, If the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory… how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?
- The glory Israel received faded away, but the glory we receive is inside the soul, the Spirit changing us and giving us a transformed life. We have the joy, the peace that passes understanding, a sure and steadfast hope as an anchor for the soul.
- We have a better covenant based on better promises.
Hebrews 8:5-6, They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things… But [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
- We have a better covenant, based on better promises, but they are received when we open our heart, receive our adoption as sons, and then live in relationship to God as our Father.
Illus - When we adopted our two sons in Russia, we pursued them and offered them the opportunity of being adopted, but they had to accept the offer willingly.
II. The Promise comes through His Son
- In verse 6 Paul says, “It is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.”
- There are many Jews who are convinced that they are saved simply because they are descended from Israel.
Illus - When I was serving tables while in Bible school, I started witnessing to a Jewish young man, and I asked him, “When you die, why should God let you into heaven?”
Galatians 3:6-7, Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.
- Paul then moves from one example to another to prove his point - only a remnant of Israel will be saved; only those who believe and stand on God’s promises. He then applies it to you and me; if only a remnant have true and authentic faith, then I want to be in that remnant. How about you?
Matthew 7:20 -23, “You will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
A. A promise must be believed
- Paul uses several examples to illustrate his point. It is not simply being born from Abraham that makes one a son of Abraham; Isaac was the child God promised and only through Isaac was the promise given.
- God promised Abraham a son, but he was old and his wife was barren. At first he tried to accomplish the promise in the flesh, by taking his wife’s maid. The result was Ishmael who became the father of the Arab nations and the Middle East is still bearing the result of Abraham faltering in faith.
- Finally, 13 years later God came to him again and said that he would have a son through Sarah. At first, Abraham, in his heart, laughed at the thought that he at 100 and Sarah at 90 years old could have a son. When Sarah heard that she was to have a son in her old age, she also laughed to herself.
- God told Abraham to name the boy Isaac, which means “he laughs.” Was his name to forever be a reminder of their faith that faltered?
- Not at all, because they grew in faith and when God did the miraculous, then laughed with joy.
Hebrews 11:11, By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.
Genesis 21:6, Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”
- Amazingly, Paul applies that story to you and me and says that we, like Isaac, are children of promise.
Galatians 4:24, 28, Allegorically speaking these women are two covenants… Hagar is Mount Sinai… And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.
- Then Paul brings up Rebekah when she conceived twins by Isaac, but before the twins were born she received the promise, “The older will serve the younger.”
- Here again God chooses the son through whom the promise will be given according to His good pleasure, that His purpose might stand.
App - Here’s the application; the promise of eternal life comes only through God’s Son. The Jews vehemently object, they want the promise through the Law that they might be rewarded for their efforts in the flesh.
Acts 4:11-12, “He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
- It’s not politically correct today to suggest that there is no other name by which we must be saved; many stumble over the rock of offense.
- Paul then quotes from the book of Exodus, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy…” Then in verse 16, “It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”
- In other words, a person may object to God’s way of salvation all they want, but at the end of the day it all comes down to whether you accept God’s offer of mercy or reject it.
- Paul then uses the example of Pharaoh who hardened his heart against God over and over; and then when he became afraid, he began to waver, but God is not deceived, he knew Pharaoh’s heart, so He stiffened Pharaoh’s hard heart.
- It shows the danger of having a hard heart against God.
Acts 7:51, “You men are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears and always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.”
- God made you for honorable use (verse 21) and desires to make known to you the riches of His glory (verse23).
- That is, if you receive His offer of mercy by faith.
- But don’t stumble over the rock of offense. Don’t resist His hand on your neck, don’t kick against the goads.
2 Corinthians 5:20, As though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Romans 9:1-33 NASB
1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 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, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "through Isaac yourdescendants will be named." 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son." 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, "The older will servethe younger." 13 Just as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For thisvery purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you,and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth." 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; 28 for
the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly."