Living the Call Ė A Sermon Series on Romans 9-11

ďGodís gifts and calling are irrevocableĒ (Romans 11:29).God is a giving and calling God.God has gifted and called all his people to do his ministry on earth.The church has traditionally set aside a number of its people for the sake of equipping this ministry of Godís people.These equippers are always in need of encouragement and correction.

 

As a young member of this fellowship of equippers, I have written a series of sermons on passages from Romans 9-11 with an eye to ministry.I have asked Paul, ďWhat does these mean for the experience of modern ministry?ĒI trust this is not a forced connection, since the issues of Romans 9-11 were crucial to Paulís reflection on his own ministry and formed the climax of the his defense of his ministry in Romans.By the power of the Holy Spirit, todayís ministers can benefit from Paulís reflection.

 

The audience of these sermons is therefore anyone engaged in the ministry of Christís church.Of course, I had my own struggles in mind, but I pray that others might also benefit from these words.So think of this series as if it were delivered at a ministersí or seminariansí retreat.In light of the common call to all believers, any Christian could hear the content of these sermons.They are nevertheless shaped with the full-time equipping ministry in mind.

 

Since five of these six sermons are found in outline form only, I have made explicit the form of each sermon.In many cases, I used forms exemplified in Ronald Allenís Patterns of Preaching.This will hopefully aid the clarity of the ideas and presentation, which would otherwise be rendered opaque by the pithiness of an outline.

 

I have organized the whole series into three main parts.The first points up the resources of the minister with two sermons, one on prayer and the other on the Word of God.The second section identified three dangers the minister faces: running that leads to stumbling, loneliness that leads to self-righteousness, and boasting that leads to brokenness.The last section contains a sermon on the vision and commission of the minister.

 

I. The Resources

1. The Prayer for the Lost (9:1-5 and 10:1)

2. The Power of Godís Word (9:6-13)

 

II. The Dangers

3. Running that leads to Stumbling (9:16 and 9:30-33)[full manuscript]

††††††††††††††††††††††† 4. Loneliness that leads to Self-Righteousness (11:1-5)

††††††††††††††††††††††† 5. Boasting that leads to Brokenness (11:11-24)

 

III. The Vision and Commission

††††††††††††††††††††††† 6. Godís Secret Plan and Our Small Part (11:25-36 and 10:9-15)


 

 

 

 

The Prayer for the Lost (9:1-5 and 10:1)

 

The aim of this sermon is to point out the ministry resource of prayer, especially for the lost.I will make a tie between Paulís grieved prayer for the salvation of his brethren, the Jews and our contemporary prayer for the salvation of unbelievers.The point is that any ministry for the sake of the lost begins with making our desire known to God through prayer.

 

Form: Problem Ė Solution Ė Celebration

 

I. Problem

A.     There are so many people living outside Godís call to salvation.It is natural for we as Christians to be hurting for them.

a.       Story: I have a close friend at Seminary who has lost interest in the gospel.We cannot pray together.We cannot talk about what God is doing in our lives.We do not share in the Lordís Supper.This causes a rift between us that grieves me.

b.      9:1-2: Paul speaks the truth in Christ, he is not lying, his conscience bears with him, in the Holy Spirit, that his grief is great and there is constant sorrow in his heart.

B.     Although we have an obligation to bear witness of the gospel to those who are lost, we are nevertheless incapable of bringing change in the hearts of others.

a.       Theology: God the Holy Spirit alone saves

b.      Experience: Forced conversions either fail or are phony

 

II. Solution

A.     God wants to hear our desires through prayer

a.       Logic: If God is the one who saves, then we should tell him about those we desire to be saved

b.      10:1: Paulís desire is for the salvation of the Jews, and this naturally coincides with his prayer to God for them

c.       Story: My family prayed for Uncle Jonís salvation for decades.He was a true burden for my family, and prayer was the only release.He finally did encounter the grace of God just a few years back.He is thankful for our prayers.

B.     God wants to hear first of all about those closest to us

a.       9:3b: Paulís prayer is for his kinsmen according to the flesh.

b.      Application: We can start with our family and friends and groups to which we are connected, instead of starting with the lost world in abstraction from our real lives.

C.     God wants to hear the specifics of those who are lost

a.       9:4-5: Paul recounts the story of his people.He names what makes them unique to Godís story.This is part of his plea to God.

b.      Application:We need to name people to God.This can be scary because it is assuming we know who might be in or out.We must be humble, but beware of a false humility that does not face the truth.In this case, it is the truth about anyoneís lack of a confession of Christ that we must face.We need take a risk with Paul by crying out for specific people who need salvation.We need to tell and retell their story.We need to claim the lost for God as Godís creatures.We can claim Godís promises to the whole world (Gen. 9; I Tim. 2:4).

 

III. Celebration

What does prayer for the lost look like?

A.     It is a burden: Paul prays to be cut away from Christ for the sake of his lost brothers (9:3a).This is at best a ďwish,Ē especially since there is no separating Christ and those he loves (8:35-39).However, this is a legitimate manner of prayer.

a.       Exodus 32:32: Paul may be tapping into the story of Moses and the Golden Calf.In the face of Godís anger, Moses offers to be blotted out of Godís book in their place to make atonement for their sin.

b.      Challenge:Are you willing to carry this burden?Are you willing to give up your spot in the Body of Christ for those who are lost?

B.     It is also a joy: Paul ends chapters 9-11 with a hymn to God for his deep riches and wisdom and knowledge (11:33-36).He knows that God is able to show mercy on all (11:32).It is therefore possible to carry this burden in a context of joy, hoping in the riches of God.

 

Closing:

- Prayer time at the end for the lost who are closest to us

- Encourage signing up for a Prodigals Ministry where names are exchanged for prayer.

 

 


 

The Power of Godís Word (9:6-13)

 

The purpose of this sermon is to encourage ministers to spend time in the word of God as a resource for their ministry.I will make a case for this by following Paulís explanation of how the word of God has not failed by the latest stage in the story of Israel.Paul is here speaking of Godís promise and its confirmation in history.The Bible contains the promissory Word of God that we can believe will be confirmed in our history.

 

Form: Puritan Plain Style

 

Beginning:

Will the word of God fail you?Have you seen too many unfulfilled promises?Does this discourage you from reading the Bible with trust in your heart?

 

Story:My friend Dan. We went to college together, and both majored in religion.Although he came to college with a call to pastoral ministry, he sensed a redirection toward an academic career.He was a top student in our class.Nobody studied the Bible like this guy.Then suddenly during our senior, his original call to pastoral ministry was rekindled.He said goodbye to academics and now serves a small congregation in southern Illinois.Did the word of God fail him?Did Godís call to academics fail?Did God lie?All Dan can say on the matter now is that since he has to preach three times a week, the serious academic path seeped him in the scriptures, which are his only source of ministerial credibility as a young 22 year old solo pastor amid traditional congregants.

 

Statement:

The word of God will not fail.Although God may work subtly, God will keep his promises.

 

Exposition:

Paul is shaken up by the relationship between the Jews and the church.But he is certain that Godís word Ė his adoption, glory, covenants, legislation, worship, and promises given to Israel Ė has not been overturned.Rather, God has always worked by means of choosing between heirs and forming particular lines of promise through one son and not another.Paul points out the choosing of Isaac over Ishmael as well as Jacob over Esau to back up this claim.God will always keep his promises, but he keeps them by a process of election.He does this so that his purpose will stand by his own calling rather than on the backs of his people.

 

Theological analysis:

When we see problems in our ministry, and it seems as though the word has failed, maybe this path is what the word was saying all along.Remember that God may have a particular way of working out his promises that is hard to see (cf. Joseph story).

Nevertheless, the Word is powerful Ė the gospel is the power for those who believe (1:17).It can be trusted because God can be trusted.

 

Application:

(1) Explication: Before we too quickly assume the failure of Godís word, we should search it deeply as Paul did to try to understand how Godís particular promise might work out in history.Keep in mind Godís pattern of election that makes the promise harder to see.In our ministries, realize that God may have a wise plan for how to bring fruits to our labor.

(2) Meditation: We can meditate on the words of scriptures.We can read them slowly and deliberately so that they become a part of us.The scriptures are our food.In the face of problems and even failures, the word of God will illumine us, but not without our prior meditation.So be immersed in the scriptures, for as Godís promises they are backed by Godís power.

(3) Proclamation: We can preach the word.This is our calling as ministers.And it is a tremendous calling.Why?Because Godís word is powerful!It will not fail.Therefore, we are to communicate the powerful promises of God to his people.God will do his part.

 

Ending:

Dan saw that Godís word did not fail in his life.It took him on an elected detour so that the purpose of God might stand.Godís word will not fail.It is therefore worthy of your attention, meditation, and proclamation.Make room for Godís word in your life.It will not fail you.

 

 

 

Running that leads to Stumbling (9:16, 30-33)

 

Form: Paul Scott Wilsonís The Four Pages of the Preacher

 

ďTherefore it is not of the one who is willing, nor of the one who is running, but of the God who has mercyĒ (Romans 9:16).

 

††††††††††† Draw a picture in your mindís eye with me.It is the picture of a runner.Not just some guy in a suit who is late for a meeting, but a real runner, a runner who is training for something.I am picturing a runner drenched in sweat.There is that look of pain and agony on his face.He is trying to beat an old record of his.He will feel so good if he does.He will feel devastated if he fails.The sweat pours down from his scalp.It stretches out his shirt.It fills his boiling hot shoes.He is running with all his might.

††††††††††† We are filled with awe by such a picture.ďI wish I had that kind of will-power,Ē we say to ourselves.It invokes in me feelings of desire and jealousy, encouragement and inadequacy.It is a beloved image, and it has been used for centuries to inspire Christian discipleship.Just think of Eric Little in Chariots of Fire.Even more so has it been used to describe Christian ministry.Runners.Running.Training.Training for God.

††††††††††† [Problem in the text world] But then Paul comes along and drops a bombshell on this inspiring image.He says, ďTherefore it is not out of one who wills nor out of one who runs, but of God who shows mercyĒ (v. 16).Not running, but Godís mercy.Not willing, but Godís mercy.Paul here manages to thwart my desire for the willpower to be a great spiritual runner.He proclaims loud and clear that such running is not what really counts.Does not God want our hard work and discipline?Does not our call to ministry require we have the will to run the race set before us?How can he say this?

Paul makes such a claim by appealing to the story of Pharaoh.Paul quotes Exodus saying, ďUnto this thing you were brought up that I may show in you my power and that you may proclaim my name in all the earthĒ (v. 17).Pharaohís heart was hardened against Mosesí call to let his people go.But God had a specific purpose set aside for this hardening.It was all for the sake of proclaiming Godís power and name.Moses did lead the people out of Egypt according to Godís purpose, and Pharaoh had a role to play in this divine drama.And Pharaoh was not set aside for this role because of his willing or his running.No.He played this role to serve Godís plan of mercy for his children, Israel.

Paul taps into this story of Pharaoh in order to answer the question of whether there is injustice with God (v. 14).Paul makes it clear that God is not being unjust but rather making divine use out his creatures for the sake of showing mercy.But there is more at stake in this passage.There is more that concerns Paul than the justice of God as an abstract principle.Actually, such a question has little independent interest for Paul.The question and Paulís answer is but one movement in a greater conversation about Godís people: Israel, the Jews, Paulís own kinsmen.

††††††††††† You see, Paul was seriously concerned that the Jews as a whole were not participating in the new community of Jesus Christ, yet many Gentiles were.Since the new community worshipped the God of Israel, Paul was impelled to explain this phenomenon for the sake of his own ministry.If the emergence of this new community was not in line with the pattern of Godís story with Israel, Paul would have to call it quits.But Paul was convinced that the new thing Ė Gentiles worshipping the God of Israel, and many Jews not joining in Ė was in fact the very kind of thing God has been doing since the beginning.From Abraham to Pharaoh and all the way through to Paulís day, God has made distinctions within his people for the sake of his merciful purpose.

††††††††††† But why this new phenomenon?Why this new community of Gentiles?It seems so odd, since the Jews were the very ones who were living for God.Here is how Paul expresses this confusing fact: ďWhat shall we say then?That Gentiles, although not pursuing righteousness, attained righteousness, and a righteousness that is out of faith?But Israel, although pursuing a law of righteousness, unto law did not arrive?Ē (v. 30).The very ones who were set on the path did not make it.The very ones who were running the race did not cross the finish line.Rather, ďthey stumbled over the stumbling stoneĒ (v. 32).They were running so hard and so fast that they tripped over the very thing they were looking for.

††††††††††† [Problem in the our world] This is our fate as ministers who continue to drool over the image of the sweat-drenched runner.It has been the fate of many already.It happened to a friend of mine.Letís call him Scott.Scott loved this running and willing image of a minister.He idolized the busybodies in the church.He bought into the formula that hard work automatically turns into kingdom harvest.Scott was drenched in the sweat of ministry.When he graduated from seminary, he took the call to do some of the hardest work of ministry Ė church planting.He poured his life into the first church, and handed it off to another capable minister within two years.He then planted another.He poured his life into it, pushing and pushing and struggling to see success.Things were happening.But the small miracles of ministry were far out of proportion to his running and willpower.After a year and a half, he and his wife decided to give up on church planting.This was devastating, but necessary for his survival.He is now filling an excellent staff position at an established church.

††††††††††† Now I want to praise Scott for his obedience to the call to plant new churches.This is an important call, and I am glad someone is following it.Thereís nothing wrong with choosing such a hard task.Paul certainly went against the grain in his ministry.And Israelís entire story is that of a small people persisting in faith against all odds.The problem is that Scott fell into the temptation to rely on his own running and willing.He pursued success, but stumbled over the stumbling stone.One time I heard him frustratingly describe some of his fellow church planters who were so relaxed and calm about their work, yet nevertheless were seeing tremendous fruit.He had bought into the lie that our sweat is the direct cause of our fruit.

††††††††††† But before we look down on Scott, we need to check our own desires and thoughts.Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, ďHow much weight do I put on my own running and willing, working and sweat?How often do I pat myself on the back when ministry is going good?Why do I get so down on myself when the church is in a ministry slump?ĒI suspect each one of us has bought into that image of ourselves as the sweat-drenched runner.And if we do not discard that image soon, our speed will send us stumbling.Maybe some of us already have.

††††††††††† [Grace in the text world] Now, you are probably wondering what I am going to tell you.It sounds like I am going to say, ďJust slow down, take it easy; the sovereign God will take care of it.ĒAnd if I said that, I would hope that you would think it a waste to have listened to me today.Anyone can see the sweat on your brow and tell you to take it easy.But what I need to tell you today is not, ďslow down.ĒNo, lets look at what Paul has to say about this sweat-drenched image we cannot get out of our heads.He says that it is not our willing and running that counts, but Godís mercy.Godís mercy.Godís mercy.We could all stop sweating, but if we not captured by Godís mercy we will still stumble over the stumbling stone.Because our willing and running are not in themselves stumbling stones.

††††††††††† What, then, is the stumbling stone?What did Israel stumble over?For what ought we to keep our eyes peeled?Paulís mention of the stumbling stone comes from Isaiah 28:16, ďBehold I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of offense, and he who believes on it will not be put to shame.ĒGod has put his law Ė his very covenant with Israel Ė in Zion.Those who trust Godís covenant will not be put to shame.But Paul points that many have stumbled over it.They used it to pursue their own righteousness.As Paul puts it, ďFor since they were ignorant of Godís righteousness, and were seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to the righteousness of GodĒ (10:3).So the stumbling stone is the law Ė Godís covenant with Israel.And God intended this covenant to be lived out in faith.

††††††††††† And here is where the good news comes in: ďChrist is the completion of the law into righteousness for all who believeĒ (10:4).Christ is the climax of the covenant!Godís righteousness is secured in Christís completion of covenant history.He is its purpose and goal.We could even dare to say that he is the covenant.Christ is, therefore, also a stumbling stone and a rock of offence.Anyone who believes in him will not be put to shame (10:11)!They will not trip over him if they believe on him.

[Grace in the our world] Therefore, for those of us who are drenched with the sweat of ministry, Paul offers far better advice than ďslow down.ĒHe proclaims the good news that Christ has run the race and crossed the finished line.God intended from the beginning to run the race in Christ.We are simply called to believe in him.We are to ďwalk in faith,Ē not run the covenant marathon.For it is not of willing and running, but of God who has mercy!

††††††††††† So when we think about our calling, and the path set before us, take a stroll of faith.Try to remember what God has done in your congregation.Try to keep your eyes peeled for where Christ is at work in the lives of his people.And put down the stopwatch; no one is timing you!Donít overlook the mercy of God, wherever it pops up.Please, do not let your zeal for God make you ignorant of his righteousness (10:2-3).And if your running has already toppled you over Godís stumbling stone, now is your opportunity to start trusting God with your ministry.Now is the time to rely on Godís mercy.Now is the time to follow Christ who is willing and able to pastor his Church.

††††††††††† Of course, you may ask me, ďBut what about all the demands put on me?How can I not trust in my own hard work?How can I break the cycle of running and willing?ĒYears ago, John Wesley found himself asking this same question.After years of running, he stumbled while ministering in Georgia.Things were so bad he had to sneak out of the colony under the cloak of night as a wanted man.Upon returning to England in 1738, he asked his Mennonite friend Peter Boehler how to find faith.Peter said to him, ďPreach faith until you have it.ĒSo Wesley started to preach sermons about faith.He shared the message of faith with others in order that he may share in it too.And on one May night on Aldersgate street, as his heart was strangely warmed, he knew that he had the faith to trust God.So how can we start living by faith?Well, we can start preaching it.Who knows, maybe we will hear our own message.Maybe God will exchange our running shoes for faith in his mercy.

††††††††††† In the meantime, let us try to find a better image for this busy activity we call ministry.Draw a new picture in your mindís eye with me.Replace that picture of a sweet-drenched, pain-faced runner.Picture instead a child.Think how a young child runs.They donít need the stopwatch and the pulse counts.Children run without pretense.Keep this image in your mind.Let it train our desires.Maybe by Godís mercy this picture will keep us from stumbling until we learn to trust him with our lives and ministries.


 

 

 

Loneliness that leads to Self-Righteousness (11:1-5)

 

This sermon aims to point out the danger of loneliness in the pastorate, especially as it leads to a self-righteous attitude.I will try to expose this loneliness by following alongside Paul as he weaves his experience as a member of the remnant with Elijahís in I Kings 19.The projected outcome would be to trade our loneliness that leads to self-righteousness for a fellowship of ministry that leads to gratitude for Godís grace.

 

Form: Eugene Lowryís Homiletical Plot

 

Oops Ė upsetting the equilibrium of the congregation

 

Our work is hard.But we love it too.We know that there is something significant in what we are doing.No matter how Protestant our theology of the ministry is, we still feel special about ourselves.What would your church be without me, God?

 

This is exactly how Elijah felt.He had just performed the greatest of miracles against the Baal prophets. He won the religious super-bowl.But he still had to flee.Godís team seemed to not be winning.

 

The same was true for Paul.He had seen the light about Godís righteousness revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.Yet Godís own people were not joining in on the celebration.

 

Ugh Ė the plot thickens

 

Sometimes when the greatest things happen in our lives and ministries, we feel all alone.Itís lonely at the top, they say.Of course, itís lonely at the bottom, too.But when we are lonely we can seem to feel on top Ė at least in the sense that we are proud of going at it alone.We feel like no one else is helping.Like we are up against such great odds.We have God on our side.Just me and God against the world.But it is wearisome.We feel so good yet so bad all at the same time.

 

It is in this same frustration that Elijah cries out: ďLord, your prophets they have killed and your altars they have tore down.I am the only one left remaining and they are seeking my lifeĒ (11:3).On the surface, this is a lonely cry.Underneath, however, it hides a self-righteousness that Elijah is the only one left.But, how else would you feel if you were the last pastor on earth?Do we not feel like this sometimes?

 

Aha Ė disclosing the clue to resolution

 

In the face of our loneliness, Paul points us to the word of God: ďBut what is the divine response to him? ĎI have left for myself seven thousand men who have not bent a knee to BaalíĒ (11:4).God has keep seven thousand for himself.A remnant.By his gracious election God always has a host of people doing his work.It is never just me and God against the world.No.God keeps a team waiting in the wings.They are Godís hidden team.So we are not alone after all, for they are our teammates in ministry.

 

Whee Ė experiencing the gospel

 

Paul applies this story of Elijah to his day: ďIn the same way then, also in the now time, there is a remnant according to gracious electionĒ (11:5).There were 7000 prophets for Elijah, and a remnant for Paul.What about our ďnow timeĒ?What about for the modern lonely minister?These teammates in ministry can be our friends.The hidden team does not have to remain hidden.They can be our companions in ministry.

 

My field education supervisor can testify to this possibility of companionship.The pastors in his local area of churches recently started meeting once a month for prayer and sharing.This has become for he and the rest a key resource for ministry.These pastors of predominately small, struggling churches have traded their loneliness for fellowship.

 

Yeah Ė anticipating the future

 

Maybe you will see the great work being done around you.

Maybe God has set 7000 waiting in the wings.

Maybe you are part of a remnant that will judge and bless a lonely minister.

 

 

 

Boasting that leads to Brokenness (11:11-24)

 

The purpose of this sermon is to warn ministers of the perennial problem of boasting about oneís ministry.I will draw on Paulís warning that the new engrafted branches are in danger of being broken off and should therefore be humble.This will not only help us think about Jewish-Christian relations, but also stands as a particular challenge to the continuous boasting of ministers.We especially boast by comparing our generationís accomplishments with the out-of-date ministries of previous generations.This sermon is intended to be a hard wake up call to this danger.

 

Form: Verse-by-Verse Inductive

 

v. 11

The Jews did not stumble in order to fall.No, they are not completely fallen.Their future is open.Actually, salvation has come to the Gentiles in order to provoke Jews to jealousy.Our role in Godís plan is always for the sake of someone else.

 

v. 12

The transgression and loss of the Jews means riches for the world and for Gentiles.We ought to therefore be grateful to them, not looking down on them.Furthermore, since the future is open to the full return of the Jews, even greater riches await us.We should not wish the worst for them

 

v. 13-14

Paul is clearly talking to us who are Gentile Christians.Paul shocks us with his view of his own ministry: the Gentiles are merely a provocation of jealousy to Jews so that some might be saved.

 

v. 15

The rejection of the Jews provided for the world to be reconciled.But if they are once again accepted, it will be the equivalent of resurrection.

 

v. 16

The holiness of the Jews as the first fruits will make the whole batch holy.The root will make the branches holy.They should therefore not be ignored.

 

v. 17 - 18

We are but a wild olive tree that partakes in the root.The branches were cut off for our sake.We still rely on their roots.So being a branch is not worth much boasting, because the root supports us.

 

v. 19 - 21

We tend to say, ďOthers have been pushed out of the way so we can do our thing!ĒPaul says this is true, but it was because of their unbelief.In other words, it was not because we are so great.We are only in by believing.We should be afraid, then, because God can cut us off just as easily.Actually, he would do it even easier because we are not even the original branches.

 

v. 22 Ė 24

Our eyes should not be on our great state of affairs but rather on God, who is both kind and severe.Sure, right now he is kind to us, but we may very easily be broken off.The Jews may currently be under the severity of God, but that could change in an instant if they believe.For God can re-in-graft them.Paul sums it all up by reminding us that we Gentiles are naturally wild, whereas the Jews are naturally a part of Godís tree.If they happen to be re-in-grafted, they are much better than we.

 

Application

 

How do we look at those who have come before us?Are we glad they are out of the way?Or do we appreciate the roots they laid down?Well, if we are too proud to see what has gone before, we will end up pushed out of the way too.

 

Our eyes need to be taken off the status of our own ministry.Boasting about our success only leads to be broken off the source of our success.We ought to keep the character of God in our mind.God is both kind and severe.The God that blesses our ministry is the same God that has pushed aside someone elseís ministry.He is more than able to push aside ours and bless theirs.He can bring life out of death.So let us love and respect those around us and before us.When we catch ourselves comparing our ministry to some one elseís, remember the possibility that their failure might be the root of your success.And, by all means, do not disparage a renewed ministry in someone else.Rather, praise God for his kindness!

 

 

 

Godís Secret Plan and Our Small Part (11:25-36 and 10:9-15)

 

The goal of this sermon is to provide a vision for our ministry.The vision is the divine work, which is well described by Paul in 11:25-36.This vision is the constant context of our human work as ministers called to proclaim the gospel as described in 10:9-15.The one is not the cause of the other.Rather, one describes Godís plan while the other describes our part.

 

Form: From Indicative to Imperative

 

Introduction:

There is a lot of talk about vision for ministry lately.Everyone says that the ministry of the church is sharpened when the vision is clear.However, we often displace the vision of Godís work in the world and replace it with the vision of our calling and task.Letís listen to Paul as he describes a vision of what God is doing and will do.Let us not be ignorant of this mystery.

 

I. Indicative: Vision

††††††††††† Inductive Exploration:

A.     What is this passage saying?

a.       What?It is the revelation of a mystery.We are given the gift of a glimpse into Godís secret plan.Paul aims for us not to rely on our own wisdom.Vision casting is never act of human wisdom alone! The substance of the message is that God has planned a partial hardening of Israel until we Gentiles enter fully.This is according to the depths of his riches and wisdom and knowledge.

b.      Who?

                                                                           i.      Jesus Christ will deliver Israel (26b-27)

1.      Who is in Zion but Jesus?

2.      Who is the deliverer but Jesus?

3.      Who turns away ungodliness but Jesus?

4.      Who underwrites the covenant but Jesus?

5.      Who takes away sins but Jesus?

                                                                         ii.      All Israel will be saved, means all Israel will be saved.Paul uses ďall IsraelĒ to denote the whole in contrast to the part (9:6).This is the same ďall,Ē not a narrower ďallĒ that includes only the so-called true Israel.

                                                                        iii.      God will have mercy on all (32).

c.       Why?

                                                                           i.      Though the good news to the Gentiles is a rift in Godís relationship with Israel, it does not override Godís loving for Israel through the election of their natural parents (28)

                                                                         ii.      Godís gifts and calling are irrevocable (29).Adoption, glory, covenant, legislation, worship, promises, fathers, and the Messiah (cf. 9:4-5) are theirs irrevocably.

d.      When?

                                                                           i.      This hardening is partial in time, for it will not last forever.

                                                                         ii.      When the fullness of the Gentiles enters, Israel will be saved.

                                                                        iii.      They will be shown mercy at the right time (31)

e.       How?

                                                                           i.      A partial hardening is the divinely intended Way for their salvation (26a).It is partial in quantity, for there is a remnant of believing Jews.It is partial in manner, for it is a revocable hardening.

                                                                         ii.      God is now showing mercy to disobedient Gentiles while Israel is disobedient.In the same way, God will show mercy on them in time.So everyone spends a certain time in disobedience but everyone will also be shown mercy (30-32)

B.     What is Paulís response?Praise for Godís plan (33-36).

 

Conclusion: God uses all things for the sake of his mercy to all who disobey.

 

Transition: This vision of Godís salvation plan is the constant context of our commission.

 

II. Imperative: Commission

††††††††††† Inductive Exploration:

A.     What is this passage saying?

a.       What?Preaching is necessary so that people can call on Jesus for salvation.

b.      Who?

                                                                           i.      The Preacher is anyone who proclaims the good news.

                                                                         ii.      The Audience is anyone, for the division between Jews and Gentiles is overcome in the summons to believe (12-13)

c.       Why?Salvation comes by calling on the name of the Lord.In order to call one must believe, and in order to believe one must have heard, and to hear the must be a preacher.The preacher is the lifeline!

d.      When?The preaching task is for today.

e.       How? The message will get out only if the preacher is sent (15a).Therefore, the our commissioning is ever so important

B.     What is Paulís (and our) response?Appreciation of the preacher (15b)

 

Conclusion: Our small part in the face of Godís great plan of salvation is to preach so others can hear and have faith in this Jesus Christ who will save them.