Monday, November 27, 2023

2023.11.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 9:19–24

Read Romans 9:19–24

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the beginning of Romans 9:19 suggest that these are things the apostle has heard before, in response to preaching the gospel? What have these people asked? What is the implied answer to the next, rhetorical, question? What does this hypothetical respondent say that God is wrong to do and why? Who now asks four questions  in Romans 9:20-24? What is the point of the first rhetorical question in Romans 9:20? What is the implied answer to the second rhetorical question? What is the implied answer to the third rhetorical question (Romans 9:21)? How long is the next rhetorical question (Romans 9:22-24)? What does God want to do (Romans 9:22)? But what does He endure? In what way? What are these vessels full of? For what have they been prepared? Why would He endure them for so long—what does He especially desire to make known (Romans 9:23)? Upon what sorts of vessels are these riches made known? For what has He prepared them? When? Whom, specifically, has He prepared for this (Romans 9:24a)? How did this happen? From what peoples has He prepared such vessels (verse 24b)?

Why does God still find fault? Romans 9:19–24 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the real question is not why God finds fault, but why hasn’t He yet destroyed those who are at fault? 

You don’t get to ask the questions, Romans 9:19-20. The apostle had evidently heard this response before, “Why does He still find fault?” This is not someone who thinks he has done rightly. This is someone who knows that he has done wrongly. He just wants to blame God for his own wrongdoing: “For who has resisted His will?” The one who is blaming God’s sovereignty for his own sin is forgetting that the very One that he is blaming—by His own admission—is the sovereign God! So the apostle answers one set of questions with another set. And the first point is that you don’t get a say, because you are not God. Will you, a mere man—a wicked man—reply against God, the sovereign God? You are creation, and He is Creator. You don’t get to ask the questions (cf. Job 38:3, Job 40:7). 

God has a right to find fault, Romans 9:21-22. God has as much right and power to determine our destiny as a potter has over what sort of vessel to make out of a lump of clay (Romans 9:21).  If He makes a vessel of wrath, prepared for destruction, that vessel will freely choose sin and be deserving of His wrath and destruction. God remains righteous; the vessel is wicked, and it would actually be wrong of God if He did not find fault! When we, who are sinful, challenge God’s right to find fault, we not only have forgotten our place (Romans 9:19-20), but we have done something much worse. When we challenge God’s right to find fault, we have forgotten God’s place. God is right to want to glorify His justice and power. His wrath is an expression of His perfections.

The real question is: why hasn’t God destroyed us yet? (Romans 9:22). The question that was asked in Romans 9:19 isn’t just illegitimate because it forgets our place and forgets God’s place. It is illegitimate because it is actually responding to patience and goodness. A wrath-deserving sinner is only able to ask such a question because he has not yet suffered the destruction that he deserves! God is “enduring him with much longsuffering” (Romans 9:22). God is long-suffering, even with the reprobate! If you do not respond to this goodness and forbearance by turning from your sin, you have only yourself to blame that you are reprobate (Romans 2:4–5). Even knowing that you will receive destruction for that, you continue to store up wrath for yourself against the day of wrath—and you want to blame God? The real question is not why does God find fault with you. It is why is God being patient with you?!

The answer: to make known, by mercy, the riches of His glory, Romans 9:23-24. Notice the difference in emphasis between Romans 9:22 and Romans 9:23. This difference is especially notable in the word “riches.” It is by His mercy that He makes the riches of His glory known. And He prepares vessels for mercy. They contribute their sin. This is what we contribute to our salvation! The sin from which we need to be saved. Vessels of mercy were no better than vessels of wrath, but mercy came and made the difference (cf. Romans 9:15). Romans 9:24 brings us back to the issue that began this discussion (Romans 9:6). If it were not for God’s desire to make the riches of His glory known on vessels of mercy, no Jews at all would have been saved. And no Gentiles either. But He has been pleased to make these riches known in the way that He has chosen. And whether talking about ourselves, or about the relative numbers of Jews or Gentiles saved, the amazing thing is that there is mercy at all—and all the more amazing for the abundance of it.

From where, in our hearts, come questions that challenge the goodness of God? If you perish, who will be to blame for it? If you are saved, what did you contribute to it? What should we see, when we consider the question of who are saved and how many? If you aren’t seeing mercy in these things, where can you get this ability?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for when our hearts or minds challenge the goodness of Your election or Your work. Grant that we would honor You as the good Potter, Whose mercy is glorified both in the vessels prepared for mercy and in the longsuffering with which You endure vessels prepared for wrath. Make us not only humble to submit to Your right and rule, but also amazed at the greatness of Your mercy that we might worship You rightly, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP130 “LORD, From the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

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