Predetermined Destinies

I.         Many in the world believe in fates and destinies

            A.        They believe there is a specific role they must play, which they cannot avoid.

            B.        Calvanists call it Unconditional Election. Some people are predestined to become Christians and there is nothing they can do to avoid it.

                        1.         They also claim the opposite. That those not elected to become Christians were predetermined to reject our Savior.

                        2.         I feel sorry for people who believe in a God who sends people to Hell without giving them a chance. Such a God is certainly not the one we find in the Scriptures.

            C.        Romans 9 is sometimes sited to prove their teachings. Let us go through this passage and see if this is so

II.        In Romans 9, Paul is arguing that being born a Jew is not a guarantee of salvation.

            A.        Romans 9:1-5

                        1.         Less there be any misunderstandings, Paul states clearly that he wishes the Israelite nation would be saved.

                        2.         They have every advantage in the past.

                        3.         The Messiah arose from their nation.

                        4.         Yet most will be lost, so Paul addresses how that can be so.

            B.        Romans 9:6-9

                        1.         Not all of Abraham's children were given the promise.

                                    a.         What happened to Ishmael or his other six sons? God only chose Isaac.

                                    b.         We note that Abraham had great faith and was chosen because of that faith.

                                                (1)       Could we claim that it was something special on Isaac's part?

                                                (2)       No, Isaac was chosen before his birth before he demonstrated what type of man he would be.

                        2.         The conclusion must be that just being a descendant of Abraham doesn't guarantee selection by God.

            C.        Romans 9:10-13

                        1.         Isaac had two children, yet only one was selected.

                        2.         Again that selection was made before Jacob and Esau were born

                                    a.         We are told this was done purposely.

                                    b.         God's purpose is accomplished not by the righteousness of man, but through God's own will.

                        3.         It almost sounds like God has chosen whom He loves or dislikes before they are even born.

                                    a.         Notice though that God did not hate Esau before he was born.

                                    b.         The statement comes from Malachi 1:2-3, long after Esau's life had ended.

                                    c.         God chose Jacob, but Esau rejected God.

            D.        Romans 9:14-16

                        1.         Some, Paul said, may think that God is being partial and unjust. Why should he pick one person over another?

                        2.         Notice that God did not pick Esau for punishment. He selected Jacob for blessings.

                                    a.         That is why God said He could have mercy on whomever He chose.

                                    b.         God is in control. He makes the rules as He sees fit.

                                    c.         Let us say a wealthy man went up to one of the young men here and said, "I'll pay all your college tuition."

                                                (1)       Does this mean he is biased against the rest of us?

                                                (2)       Does this mean he doesn't like any of the other young men here?

                                                (3)       Too often people take offense where none has been given.

                                                (4)       Rather, we should rejoice with our brother that he will benefit from such generosity.

            E.        Romans 9:17-18

                        1.         Here we have the opposite case. God raised up a king, so that He might tear him down. Rather than receiving God's mercy, he was hardened by God.

                        2.         Understand that all kings are ordained by God

                                    a.         No government exists, but by God's will - Rom 13:1

                                    b.         God puts kings into power - Dan 2:21

                        3.         Consider, why did God place such a wicked man into power?

                                    a.         He could have raised up a pharaoh who looked kindly on the Israelites. Who did not give them severe burdens. Who could have freed the Israelites without a fuss

                                    b.         But such would not have driven the Israelites to willingly follow Moses.

                                    c.         Such would not have given God the ability to show His power, causing the nations to fear Israel and their God.

                        4.         God played Pharaoh like a violin

                                    a.         What if you ruled a country, which slavery form the basis of its economy for hundreds of years.

                                    b.         Now, someone comes demanding that all these slaves be freed. Would you ruin your kingdom to set them free?

                                    c.         God gave choices that Pharaoh would not accept. He knew in advance what Pharaoh would choose to do.

                                    d.         Parents, if haven't learn this, you ought to take notes.            

                                                (1)       People are happier if they control the outcome: "Would you like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or liver and onions for lunch?"

                                                (2)       It doesn't take a mind reader to know which choice is going to be made.

                                                (3)       Yet the child thinks, "I pulled one over on Mom, I got out of eating liver!"

                                    e.         God hardened Pharaoh's heart because the choices he gave Pharaoh had obvious answers.

                                                (1)       As God made the consequences greater, he also made the demands greater.

                                                (2)       He got Pharaoh use to saying no.

                                                (3)       Yet, in every case, Pharaoh had a choice.

                                                (4)       Pharaoh chose to be stubborn, but God put him in a situation where he would be stubborn.

                        5.         God gets His way with the righteous, but He also gets His way with the wicked.

            F.        Romans 9:19

                        1.         How then can a wicked person, such as Pharaoh, be punished if God backed him into a corner?

                        2.         God doesn't make a person wicked. - James 1:13-16

                        3.         The person chooses to be wicked. But God may put him into situations that exposes his wickedness to all. - Pr. 21:1

            G.        Romans 9:20-21

                        1.         We cannot blame God for our lives.

                                    a.         We may not be favored. We may not be blessed.

                                    b.         Just as the Jews learned, those blessings are not automatic

                                    c.         The question remains, what do we do with what we are given?

                        2.         God has the right to use us as He sees fit

                        3.         His use of us does not justify our rebellion against Him

                                    a.         "Why wasn't I born rich?"

                                    b.         "Why wasn't I born pretty, or strong, or athletic, or talented?"

                                    c.         I don't know, but what will you do with your life as it is?

            H.        Romans 9:22-23

                        1.         We often look at things backwards.

                        2.         We see God hardening Pharaoh's heart, but we miss how many times God gave Pharaoh a chance to change his mind. Have you ever thought why God used ten plagues? Couldn't He have freed the Israelites with just one or two?

III.       Paul wrote Romans 9 to prove that the Jews did not have a monopoly on salvation. In fact, he shows that God had chosen to give it to another people

            A.        Paul quotes from the Old Law to show that the calling of the Gentiles was prophesied - Romans 9:23-26

            B.        The same law predicted that only a few Jews would be saved - Romans 9:27-28

            C.        If they really received what they deserved, they would have been all destroyed - Romans 9:29

            D.        Hence the Gentiles were accepted, though they had not pursued it and the Jews were rejected, despite their effort - Romans 9:30-33

            E.        What made the difference? Faith in Jesus Christ.

            F.        It was not God's selection of certain individuals, but His selection of the type of person He desired to bless.

            G.        What are you waiting for?