Friday, September 8, 2017

P1 God's Unchanging Promises And Unthwartable Purposes - Romans 11:1-15

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Romans 11:1-2a "I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew."


I will never forget the one teacher I had in elementary school. As I got to know this teacher, I became impressed with how dedicated he was to the overall success of his students. He wanted us all to know how special we were to him. Whenever we got our school pictures, my teacher to them and placed them on stained blocks of wood. As a wood-worker on the side, our teacher then shellacked the blocks and portraits to permanently protect them. When my parents saw what he had done for the whole class, my dad wrote him a thank you letter, expressing his gratitude. That teacher made an impression on me because I knew he was consistent in how he treated and regarded people both inside and outside his family.

When it comes to assessing God's character and commitment in keeping His promises, we only need to look at the nation of Israel and of course the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul's logic in Romans 11 is that since God has committed Himself to saving the nation of Israel, then the believer in Jesus Christ can rest assured that God will keep His promises to them. 

In today's post, we want to begin considering God's unchanging promises and unthwartable purposes. We will show that those who trust in Jesus can rely upon God to complete what He began, since He has pledged Himself to His chosen people – the nation of Israel. God’s unchanging promises and unthwartable purposes are cause for confidence in Him. Whether talking about the past, present or future – we can trust God to come through every time. In this post we will consider why it is that God's promises are unchanging

God’s Unchanging Promises. Romans 11:1-10

When I think of God's character, the fact of His unchanging promises comes to mind. Just like the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, God's promises are the cornerstone of His plans and purposes for the New Testament church. The Apostle Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:3-4 "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."

Now when we turn to Paul's remarks about God's commitment to save His chosen people, the Jews, we find certain principles that explain why His promises are trustworthy and unchanging. 

a). Undefeated Word of God. Romans 11:1-4

When you read the history of the nation of Israel, it all begins with Abraham in passages such as Genesis 12:4. God pledged His covenant with Abraham. It would be some 400 years later that God would speak to another Jewish man, Moses, concerning His people's enslavement under the lash of Pharaoh. In Exodus 3:8-9 we are reminded that God heard their cry, and thus sent Moses to be their deliverer. Or how about this passage in Joshua 21:45 "Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass." Or again, 1 Kings 8:56 “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. 

On and on we could go, but the point is that God's unchanging promises are possible due to His undefeated Word. Hebrews 6:18 states: "so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us." So we have seen God's undefeated Word as explaining why God's promises are unchanging, but notice what else Paul writes in Romans 11:5-6.... 

b). Unbreakable grace. 11:5-6

Where would we be without God's grace. Whenever the Christian feels like God has forgotten them, they only need to look to two historic things: Jesus Christ's empty tomb and the nation of Israel. Psalm 16:11 is quoted by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2 to remind his listeners that God did not abandon Christ to "see decay". The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrated that all He did and all He is were true. But what about Israel? Has God still kept His commitment to her, and can I trust Him to do the same for me?

Look at Is 49:15-16 “Can a woman forget her nursing child
and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” Jesus makes a similar type of promises to His New Testament apostles and ultimately to all Christian in John 10:28-29 "and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. Your walls are continually before Me." We know God's promises are trustworthy and unchanging because of His undefeated Word and His unbreakable grace. Paul says as much in Romans 11:5-6. But now notice a third truth we find Paul referring to in Romans 11:1-10...
c). Unquestionable fairness.     11:7-10

God is not only loving and gracious, but He is also just. Oftentimes people struggle with the concept of God's hardening of people's hearts in the Bible (such as Pharaoh). However, whenever we keep two distinctions in mind, we find God is never unjust, but just. The first concept to keep in mind is that of personal hardening of the heart. This involves a person repeatedly resisting God and His efforts to win them to Himself. Whenever a person resists God's gracious overtures, they harden their own heart. 

Personal hardening leads to a second important distinction - namely judicial hardening. In Romans 11:7-10, God is giving the people what they wanted - life without Him. The remnant according to God’s choice gets grace and the resistant not wanting God get what they want and thus have justice. Genesis 18:25 states clearly God's just and fair ways of dealing with people: "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

God deals with human beings in a form of non-justice called mercy and justice. If God only dealt in accords to His justice, none of us would have hope. There would be no cross. Nevertheless, because people are free moral agents, if they so choose to persist in resisting God, He will dispense His justice. One thing is for sure: God will either mete out non-justice (mercy) to those who by grace through faith believe on His Son or justice to those who resist Him, but God will never be guilty of injustice. So whenever we consider God's undefeated Word, unbreakable grace and unquestionable fairness, we have before us three reasons as to why His promises are unchanging. These thoughts point back to God's unchanging character. In the next post we will consider God's unthwartable purposes.

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