I Will Have Mercy On Whom I Will Have Mercy
So, let’s turn our Bibles this morning, to a wonderful passage of Scriptures found in Romans 9. This is a chapter that is so profound and yet this is a chapter that is so necessary in the age we live in. We live in the age where the center of the universe is man. We live in an age where the center of gravity is me, myself and I. But here, we are going to consider not man’s idea about himself, but this is about God revealing Himself, Romans 9:14-18. We have been moving sequentially through this wonderful book and we arrive at this section of verses that will really stretch our thinking. But I pray by the Spirit’s enabling, you will follow along and you will be richly blessed as a result.
Paul says, “What shall we say then?” This is a question.
 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.  Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Tough words, if you really sit down and think about it, because it challenges the paradigms, challenges the concepts we already have as men. But this is the time for us not to indulge in human rationalization, but a time for us to humbly plead for God’s revelation to be understood in our lives.
The Bible reveals to us that our God is a God of salvation. Indeed, that has been the theme of Romans, that God is the God of salvation, salvation belongs unto the Lord. He gives salvation in His Son Jesus Christ. He that has the Son has life and he that has not the Son of God has not life.
So if you believe in Jesus, you are saved. If you do not believe in Jesus, you will not be saved. Salvation is only found in Jesus Christ His Son. And therefore, not all of the nation of Israel is saved. Some are saved, but others are not. And that is the point Paul was making in Romans 9:6 ‘For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.’
(Rom 9:6 Not as though the Word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.)
Yes, we may all be called Jews, we may all be called Israelites, we may all belong to the nation of Israel, but that doesn’t mean all are true followers of God, all are saved, no! They are not all Israel which are of Israel.
The inspiration I had was the ramen tamago, the ramen egg. And let me recap for you a schematic drawing of what this represents: The yellow portion of this egg represents ‘physical Israel’. They are those who would call themselves Jews on the outside, but they are not true Jews, true Israelites on the inside. These are the physical Jews, physical Israel, racial Jews. But the Bible here is saying, God did not promise to save the whole of Israel, but the true Israelites who are part of the nation of Israel. These would be what we call ‘spiritual Israel’. Physical Israel are Jews on the outside, spiritual Jews are the true believers on the inside.
So let me test you. For spiritual Israel, what is their relationship with regards to Jesus? Do they receive Jesus Christ to be the Savior? The answer is yes, affirmatively, these are the true believers. Are they therefore part of the Abrahamic covenant? Yes, that was what we studied last week, yes, they’re part of the Abrahamic covenant, God is true to His Word, He did not fail. His Word is true, they’re part of the Abrahamic covenant and they are those who received Jesus.
What about physical Israel, those who are referred to in the yellow portion? Do they receive Jesus Christ? The answer is no, they do not believe in Jesus Christ and therefore, are they those whom God has said are part of His Abrahamic covenant? Wah, this one not very convincing. Are they part of the Abrahamic covenant? No, the answer is no. So the point is very clear, they are not all Israel which are of Israel, not all Israel believed in Jesus and God chose some in Israel to be saved and rejected others from salvation.
This is the point: salvation is selective, salvation is elective, it is not universal. You say, “Pastor, are you sure?” Yes, look at the life of Abraham and that’s what Paul went on to explain. God said to Abraham, “I will give you a child and from your seed, all nations will be blessed.” So, Abraham waited and waited and waited and waited but there is no movement in the tummy of Sarah. And so one day, Sarah and Abraham hatched a deceitful plan. They wanted to help God, they say, “God, I don’t think you can give me a son, so maybe I should do something about it now” and so they found themselves Hagar the handmaid, the Egyptian woman, and they said to each other, “Abraham, I know this is very painful for me, but you go, because we got to help God here, otherwise we will not have a son.” And that’s what they foolishly did. Abraham went into Hagar the handmaid and as a result, Hagar gave birth to Ishmael and Abraham was convinced that Ishmael would be the one God will use to bless the nations. This would be the child of promise. But you know what God said? “No, it will not be Ishmael, I am not accepting
Ishmael. He is not the one. Sarah, you will have a child. I know you’re 90 years old, I know your factory is closed, humanly speaking, I know you have died to that hope that you would ever have a child, but let me tell you, this is the child of promise, I will do it” and God did it.
Isaac was born of Sarah and God said, “It will be Isaac.” God said it would be Isaac even before Isaac existed. Even before Sarah was pregnant, God said, “It will be this child and you call him Isaac. Ishmael I have rejected.”
Now, some of you may say then, ‘This is not fair, of course this doesn’t work, because Hagar is an Egyptian, Sarah is a Jew, of course God would reject that which is from Hagar.’ But to prove the point again, Paul goes to the second example and that is from Isaac himself. Isaac had a wife, just one- Rebekah, and Rebekah gave birth to twins. Now, this time you can’t argue that it is a different mother- same mother, same womb, about the same time. Esau came out fractionally earlier, followed by Jacob. If it is left to human choice, generally, Esau will be the one who would be chosen; he’s the firstborn.
In that culture, he has a right to double privilege. But you see, this is not man’s choice, it’s God’s choice. And God said, “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.” “I choose Jacob before he is born, I reject Esau before he is born.” Salvation is selective, better put, elective, even before they are born.
So, this is the diagram you will see. Abraham had eight children, but for this explanation purpose, we’ll just say he chose Isaac and rejected the rest. Isaac had two sons, and God chose Jacob and rejected Esau. Therefore, we come to this very difficult verse, “Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated.” This is uncomfortable to us, because we think in our human minds, ‘This is so unfair! God, this doesn’t quite match up to my idea of who You are! You should have chosen all, and given the choice to them.’ But friends, I’m not here to tell you what man wants to think. If you are uncomfortable with it, let me tell you, first of all, this is a fact, “As it is written,” “I have chosen Jacob, I have not chosen Esau. I have chosen Isaac, I have not chosen Ishmael.”
If this is the correct interpretation and I think it is, then we will come to this logical question, verse 14: What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? You see, this is a very valid question, because verse 13 and the preceding verse is saying, God is selective, God is elective in salvation. Therefore, to us as men, we feel uncomfortable. It seems that God, it seems, that God is unfair, unjust, unrighteous and therefore Paul, preempting this question says, “This is what I want to answer for you.”
I think this is very important for us to grasp, you see, because there are some people who want to argue this text away and say, “No, no, no, God is actually very fair. He has chosen nations, He allows individuals within the nations to choose.” But my friends, this is not a text about nations, it’s not about national election, it’s about individual election. Why do I say that? Several reasons. All the way in the book of Romans, it’s talking about individuals, not about nations. You got to respect the context.
Number 2, the selection of nations is exactly what Paul is saying is not the case.
Romans 9:6, They are not all Israel which are of Israel
So, if you want to say, “Let me help defend God. God is not unrighteous lah, let me help defend Him. He’s talking about national not individuals’ election.” I say you’re not honest to Scripture. Paul is exactly saying: the saving purposes of God is not national, it’s individual.
Thirdly, if you just read on a little more, you will see that Paul begins to go back to individuals again- Moses and Pharaoh- they don’t represent nations, they represent individuals. But I think, most importantly, the question in verse 14 tells us that the interpretation of verse 13 is on individuals. Because that rocks us, therefore this question comes: “How can God choose some to be saved and reject others and still be just, still be righteous?”
So, Paul respects that this is a valid question, but this is the answer he gives: God forbid! In other words, “Yes, I affirm, looking at the life of Isaac, looking at the life of Jacob, that God chooses some to be saved and rejects Ishmael, rejects Esau. But in that selection, God is not unrighteous. God forbid that we should think that he is unrighteous or unjust.” This is the Greek word for ‘no’ in the strongest possible way. He says, “Absolutely not! He is not unrighteous!” Therefore, in verses 15, 16, 17, 18, in these four verses this morning which we are going to consider, Paul is going to tell you why it is not unrighteous.
So, there are two things you need to note: the fact of the matter is “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated”- that is a fact. Don’t try to twist it, don’t try to say, “I need to help God and defend him” No, God doesn’t need you to defend Him- He is God! So the fact is that salvation is elective. Question here is the fault- Is it God’s fault? Is it unrighteous, unjust for Him to do so? The answer is ‘no’ and we are now going to consider why.
So, these are deep things. Let me say first of all, we are going deep into the mind of God, His purposes, and we must be careful of projecting human rationalization, we must be careful now to look at divine revelation. Let God teach us, and not let us say “God, this is the way you should be.” So, this is the premise we must approach, this is on holy ground, put your shoes off your feet. Come humbly, come prayerfully and may God speak to us.
In order to say that it is the fact that God selects and there is no fault with God in doing that, Paul explains using examples- two historical figures that are found in Scripture- and you know who they are. The first man he chooses to explain is Moses, and Moses will be the figure that explains the first part, “Jacob have I loved” He’ll be used to explain that. And then, the other person he will use to describe or explain, “Esau have I hated”, is the man Pharaoh. So two figures, answers part A, part B, of the question. Both cases, it is true, God chose. And in both cases, Paul is going to prove there is no unrighteousness with God. You get the point? So, this is the overall text. If you understand this, you’re on the right track, alright? You will be able to follow along. God is saying He did choose both- one for mercy, one for hardening- as a parallel to ‘Jacob have I chosen or loved, Esau have I hated” and in both cases, it will be proven that there is no unrighteousness with God.
Let’s consider these two men. They are very similar in some ways. In what ways are Moses and Pharaoh similar? Both are princes, alright, both are princes, sounds like ‘princess’ sometimes.. no, but you’re right. Both are princes, royalty, grew up in Egypt, in the palace, greatest kingdom then, princes… what else? Both are leaders, both are extraordinary men in their own ways, I am sure….Anything else? Huh? That’s it? Both are murderers! I like what Rogan has to say- he’s right! Both are men, that’s what you must say (Laughter in the congregation) and both are sinful men. You see, sometimes we think Moses is the one who had mercy because he is a good guy. Sorry! He obtained mercy even though he is a bad guy! He is a sinner, Moses is a sinner, and as Rogan has pointed out, both are murderers. But their destiny is dramatically different.
Paul says, for Moses, God declared to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” So Moses received mercy and compassion. What about Pharaoh? This is what God says about Pharaoh: “Whom he will, He hardened.”
So, the first is a picture of receiving mercy, the second is a picture of receiving hardening from God’s sovereign choice. And there is no unrighteousness with God. In order to understand that, let’s deal with part A and then part B.
Part A is with regards to Moses. God said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy”, “Moses, you have obtained mercy”. And this statement is actually a reference to Exodus 33:19, you got to understand the context. In Exodus 33, it follows after a terrible time for Israel. If you read the story of Exodus, God has just brought the people of Israel out of Egypt and now brings them to Sinai. Moses is commanded to go up into the mount for a holiday☺, no, he is commanded to go up into the Mount to receive the Ten Commandments.
But sadly, while the cat is away the mice came out to play. The people of Israel, sinful and depraved in their hearts, decided for themselves that they would fashion an idol. So they gathered their jewelry, they gathered their gold, melted it and formed a calf, ‘wagyu beef kind’ of a calf. They formed an idol and said “This be our god who led us out of Egypt.” Oh that really triggered the fierce wrath of God. On the very same day, 3000 lives were lost. Why, because God is holy and He judged the nation of Israel. And this is where Moses came to God and pleaded for mercy, for grace. In a sense, he’s saying “God, be merciful, be gracious to our entire nation.” And God replied in this way: “No, I am not obligated, I’m not compelled, I am not forced to show mercy unto all Israel, but I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” So, that is the context.
Coming back to the question, is it true that God chose some to be receiving mercy? Yes. Is it God’s fault? The answer is no. Why? Because, based on verse 15, this is the answer from God. Alright, it is almost as if your question is not to be asked. He is saying, “There is no unrighteousness with God because God said it.” Can you accept such an explanation? I hope you do. There is no unrighteousness with God because God said it. God is just, God is righteous, that is Him, that is His essence and therefore, all that He does, all that He says is righteous and just, even when it doesn’t fit our puny minds.
I am asking you to have a paradigm shift. What is just is not because it fits the way we think, but because God did it. So God is just not because what He does fits what we think, but God is just because He is just and all that He does is just and whether it is just or not depends on whether God did it.
So, your measurement, your standard, is not you; it’s God, and Paul is therefore saying, “There is no unrighteousness with God because this is what God did”, that’s the end of the argument. This is the final statement, no unrighteousness. But as if to help us further, he says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This is not a matter of justice. If you really want it to be justice, then the entire nation of Israel should perish -that is just, that is right, they deserved it and if it is a matter of justice, it is a matter of righteousness. Then the whole of humanity should perish because we are all sinners. That’s what Paul has been saying in Romans chapters 1-3. So, it is not a matter of righteousness or justice, it’s a matter of mercy. Therefore there is no unrighteousness with God in choosing some to be saved. It is amazing that any would be saved in the first place. There is no unrighteousness with God.
Thirdly, it is not unrighteous -why, because God has the sovereign right, to determine where He would dispense His mercy. I will have mercy on whom I, I (with emphasis) will have mercy. It is not dependent on the person. God’s mercy is absolutely independent of whether you deserve it because nobody deserves it. This is the teaching of Scripture in verse 16: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth”
(Romans 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.)
It is not the desire of man that deserves it, it is not the works of man that deserves it, it’s God who must give it. He is sovereign, He has the sovereign right to show mercy on whom He chooses. That is why He is God. God is God, because He is unbound, unrestrained to decide as He pleases- no unrighteousness with God.
Let me share with you a profound theological concept, profound at least to my simple mind. God is merciful, you agree with that? God is love, you agree with that? God is gracious, you agree with that? But, He does not have to show mercy all the time. “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” Distinguish in your mind the essence of God and the expression of God. He is always love, He is always mercy because that’s Him, that’s His essence, He cannot be untrue to Himself but He doesn’t always have to show mercy. He’s not mechanical in that, He is not bound by that, He is sovereign to decide that. He doesn’t have to do it but He chooses to do it and that’s why His mercy and grace in our lives is so magnificent. It was not mechanical, it was voluntary. In a sense, God chose to do it.
“I will have mercy, on whom I will have mercy.” He is merciful but He chooses when to show His mercy, His compassion, His love.
I draw you back, because it is easy to get lost. “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated”, that’s the truth. Moses has been chosen for mercy, Pharaoh has been chosen for hardening- that is true but there is no unrighteousness with God. He is just, He is righteous. In the case of Moses, because He said so, in the case of Moses, because it’s not a matter of justice, it’s a matter of mercy. In the case of Moses, because God has a sovereign right to determine where His mercy goes without violating His own righteousness.
That’s the first point, part A. Are you lost? Can? Cannot? Can? Alright, let me move on. You see, I am bound, I am not sovereign, I can’t do as I please, I have to listen to where you are. We move on to the second part, which is the harder part. Agreeably, it’s harder because (part) A is easy for us. Of course, God can show mercy on whom He has mercy but when He says, “Esau have I hated”, wah, that rocks us because it doesn’t quite fit into our theology, our understanding of God. “Esau have I hated”?
Let me tell you- it is first of all, a fact. God rejected Ishmael, that’s a fact. God rejected Esau, that’s a fact and God rejected Pharaoh, that’s a fact. In verse 18, we come to the second part, we look at the example of Pharaoh now. God (Scripture) says ‘Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy and whom He will, He hardeneth.’ So, what does Scripture declare? God hardened Pharaoh according to His will. God rejected Ishmael, Esau, according to His will. I know you get uncomfortable now because I get uncomfortable if I’m not thinking right too. Why is it we are uncomfortable?
Let me explain first, because otherwise you cannot listen to me, you see, so I need to address that. I understand your discomfort, I understand you are uneasy, I understand that this is awkward for you that ‘God willed that He is or Pharaoh is hardened or Esau is rejected, Ishmael is’… it’s hard for us to take. And let me express to you why you are uncomfortable. You are uncomfortable because it seems as if it is God who is the author of sin in their lives. It seems as if it is God who made them sinners, it seems as if Pharaoh had no part, no accountability, no blame. He’s just an innocent victim, swayed along by the sovereign will of God and that is what makes you uncomfortable. You understand? Okay, if you experience it, you will appreciate what I’m trying to express. You are uncomfortable because it seems as if God is the author of sin and two, it lets Pharaoh be portrayed as if he is an innocent victim and therefore you say, “This cannot be the true understanding of these verses.” Friends, I understand your concern, but be patient and hear me out.
I believe God hardened Pharaoh according to His will. Because of the discomfort people have, you know how they explain this verse? This would be how they explain it: God hardened Pharaoh because Pharaoh first hardened his heart. Have you heard that argument before? In order to defend God and say that He is not the author of sin, we say, “God hardened Pharaoh because Pharaoh first hardened his heart”, so it’s Pharaoh’s fault so God can now join in- that’s the way we try to defend God. I say to you, that is absolutely rubbish, that’s not the case. If I have time, I will go on to verses 19 and onwards, and I will prove to you that it is not. But from this verse alone, we know that it is not. Why, because God says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy”. You know that is –what? That is an unconditional sovereign giving of mercy to a person. It is not because he sought therefore God gave. It is God’s sovereign choice to choose him for mercy. Likewise, in the hardening of a man’s heart, it is not conditioned on man’s response; it is God’s sovereign choice.
“I will harden whom I will harden”. The hardening is therefore not reactionary, it is not secondary to your choice, it is sovereign. I still have not addressed the discomfort you have: “Pastor, you are saying that God is the author of sin?” No I am not. “Pastor, you’re saying that Pharaoh had nothing to do with it?” No I am not. So how do I explain it? Instead of trying to use human reasoning to explain it away, the key is to go back to the Scripture and look at verse 17. There are some words here you need to grasp and you will see why there is no unrighteousness with God even when he chooses a man to be hardened. First word you need to see is in verse 17, where the phrase ‘I raised thee up’ is employed.
Wow, this phrase is very popular today, (Pastor sings) ‘You raise me up’ and whatever. That’s not the meaning here, it’s a totally different thing. ‘I raised thee up’, it’s a word that means to put someone to the front of the stage. Simply put, it is a phrase that means to place someone in a position of prominence. So God is saying, “I will place Pharaoh in a place of prominence to display my power”. God is not saying, “I made Pharaoh… I made Pharaoh a sinner.” No. Pharaoh is a sinner because he sinned. He’s a sinner and God is in a sense saying, “I did not making him a sinner, I am not the author of sin but I placed this sinner in the place of prominence.” There is no fault, no unrighteousness in that, you see. Number 1.
Number 2, you’ve got to understand the word ‘harden’. What is ‘harden’? The word ‘harden’ is from the word ‘skleruno’ in the Greek. ‘Skleruno, sclerosis’. Have you heard of the word ‘atherosclerosis’ ? What is atherosclerosis? Your blood vessel hardens, that’s why you have heart attacks. In your biology class, have you heard of the phrase ‘sclerenchyma’ and ‘parenchyma’? Well, sclerenchyma is the hard part of the vegetable, that’s why when you eat vegetables, it is crunchy, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch because the sclerenchyma is the hardened part of the plant, leaf, stalk you eat. So the word ‘harden’ is ‘skleruno’ which means to harden. It is used to mean ‘to render stubborn and obstinate’.
So what is God doing here exactly? God did not make Pharaoh a sinner, the blame must not be attributed to God. He’s not the author of evil, author of sin (James 1:13), but what God did is that He hardened Pharaoh in his sin. He made him obstinate, He did not soften Pharaoh’s heart, He left him as he is.
How does God harden a man? You look at Romans 1 and you see those three times in verses 24, 26, 28: how He gave them up, gave them up, gave them up over to their sins, that’s what God did. He gave Pharaoh up over, that’s hardening. There is no unrighteousness with God, you see. And having hardened Pharaoh, Pharaoh was now placed in a position of prominence, that God may display His power and holiness through this man’s life. God is not the author of sin.
A third reason why God is not the author of sin is: Though God is the One who hardened Pharaoh, that’s true, in fact God did it, God said it, that he would do it in Exodus 4:31, even before Pharaoh came onto the scene… Yet, it is equally true in Scripture that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. So this is the mystery. If I may put it this way: in the same man Pharaoh, God determined sovereignly He will harden him. At the same time, Pharaoh also hardened his own heart….equally true…. equally true. But don’t, don’t rob God of His sovereignty by saying God hardened Pharaoh only after Pharaoh hardened his heart. That is not biblical teaching, that’s not what God is, that is not the Scripture, that is your human rationalization. “I will harden whom I will harden” He Is Sovereign, just like “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy”.
So let me bring it back into context. The whole point here is to explain God’s salvation is selective, is elective. God has chosen some to be saved and also rejected some, not to be saved, illustrated in the life of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. And in this elective plan of salvation, you cannot say that there is any unrighteousness with God, you can’t. He is sovereign to do it, He is right to do it.
In the case of mercy, looking at Moses, it is not unrighteous because God said it, because it is an issue of mercy and not justice and because God is sovereign to dispense mercy according to His good pleasure; no unrighteousness. In the case of Esau, in the case of Pharaoh, there is no unrighteousness with God because God is not the author of sin, He is not. But please, don’t make it a reactionary hardening. It’s a sovereign hardening. It is true God did choose. At the same time, Pharaoh did harden his own heart and God did not make Pharaoh a sinner, he is already a sinner. There is no unrighteousness with God. The point of the matter is: salvation is given by God to elect individuals and there is no unrighteousness with Him. He is sovereign.
Maybe, this commentator would explain it better for me: “If therefore God hardens some, he is not being unjust, for that is what their sin deserves.” You get it? God did not make him a sinner. That’s what he, a sinner, already deserves. God gave them up over to their sins. “If, on the other hand, he has compassion on some, he is not being unjust for he is dealing with them in mercy.” This is not an issue of justice. “The wonder is not that some are saved and some are lost, but that anybody is saved at all. For we deserve nothing from God’s hand but judgment.”
“If we receive what we deserve (which is judgment), or if we receive what we do not deserve (which is mercy) in neither case is God unjust.” There is no unrighteousness with God, God forbid that we should think like that. “If therefore anybody is lost, the blame is theirs. But if anybody is saved, the credit is God’s.”
That’s sovereignty: He does as He chooses, He works according to His pleasure. When Moses asked God, “What is your name?” Do you know what is God’s reply? It is a funny reply if you think about it, to us. “My name is I Am that I Am”. Fabian, what’s your name? I don’t dare to use the same words (some laughter in the audience) “He is that he is”, whatever, I don’t know. It’s weird in a sense, but that is the declaration of God, “I Am that I Am”- I Am sovereign, I Am self-sufficient, I Am God. You know what makes God God in a sense? He is sovereign. If He has to wait for us, depend on us, He is no God. He is unbound, unrestrained, absolutely independent and free to do as He chooses. And in all that He does, He is never unrighteous, that’s why He is God.
Scripture declares, “Our God is in the heavens, He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.” (Psa115:3)
Isa 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
He is sovereign. He has the right, He has the might, He is God.
Jonathan Edwards says, “The sovereignty of God is His absolute, independent right of disposing of all creatures according to His own pleasure.”
It’s not about you, it’s not about me. He is sovereign to decide according to His own pleasure and in His choosing and in His rejecting, there is no unrighteousness with God. This is the God we know from Scripture. It really disturbs men, and that’s why I want to quote Spurgeon here.
CH Spurgeon “There is no attribute of God more comforting to his children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty.”
You know, it is really assuring because your salvation is not rooted in your will. It is rooted in the eternal counsels of God, it goes deep there, and therefore your salvation is as secure as it can be. There is no doctrine more comforting than the doctrine of divine sovereignty, if you belong to Him.
“On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by others. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on his throne. They will allow him to be in his workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars. They will allow him to sustain the earth, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends his throne, his creatures then gnash their teeth; and when we proclaim an enthroned God, and his right to do as he wills with his own, without consulting them…”
You see, we love it when God consults us but that will not make Him sovereign. He is sovereign and when He do as He wills without consulting us “…in the matter, then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us,” to the Word of God, “for God on his throne is not the God they love”. (C H Spurgeon)
Penetrating words… God is sovereign to choose some for mercy, some for hardening, but there is no unrighteousness with God.
I know that when we preach something like this, there will be that thinking: Pastor, isn’t this fatalism? Isn’t this singing, “Que sera sera, whatever will be will be”? Friends, this is where you need balance, you need to understand the counsel of God’s Word. I share with you the practical implications of understanding the sovereignty of God last week. I said,
1. Salvation is personal.
That’s what is taught, right, Romans 9:6, it’s not national, it’s not group. By being in a church congregation today doesn’t make you a Christian, you got to have Jesus in your life personally. Jesus died for each one of us individually. Salvation is personal. We then looked at how
2. Salvation is preordained
We are chosen before the foundation of the world. We are called, when God’s plan intersects with time, but really, we were chosen before time; preordained. Just as Isaac was chosen before he was even conceived, just as Jacob was chosen even before he was born. We learned thirdly
3. Salvation is perpetual
Romans 8:29-30, there is no failure with God, there is no drop out rate. Whosoever He has foreknown, will be those who will be glorified, there is no loss, your salvation is rooted in the eternal counsels of God. We saw fourthly that the salvation of God is purposeful,
4. Salvation is purposeful
God did not do a enee mene miney mo to save, He saved us according to His good pleasure for His purpose. Salvation is not primarily about you, it’s about Him.
But today, as we learn about the sovereignty of God, clearly, explicitly, expressed in verses 14-18, I do not want you to leave this place thinking fatalism. The last, not the last, the second last thing I want to say about salvation is
5. Salvation is possible
You see, that’s what we are. When we hear about the sovereignty of God, we swing to this side and, “Eh ! Since God is sovereign, then I don’t have to decide for Jesus. If I am meant to be saved, I will be saved!” and those who are sitting here will be saying, “Well, since I do not believe in Jesus, I would never get saved, so, forget about it, I am not part of His elect.” Fatalism. But you see, the whole problem is you do not know whether you are the elect or not. At the very same time, as God gives us an understanding of His sovereignty in Romans 9, Romans 10 immediately tells us the sin of unbelief. Scripture tells us of great promises you can claim for yourself today. Salvation is possible today! You say, “Where?” I can’t even stop but if we were to run through all of them. But, look at the classic ones.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes…
…It is true, it is true, ‘whosoever believes’ will be saved. You don’t have to keep asking this question, “Am I elect, or am I not elect?” If you believe, you will be saved; you are the elect! No need for dead fatalism. At the same time, in Romans 10 which is the chapter after Romans 9,
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Rev 22:17 And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Don’t try to play God and think election for your own salvation. Focus, on your need to receive the Son. He that has the Son has life and he that has not the Son of God has not life.
Cry out to God today for mercy. You do not know whether you are elect or not elect and therefore, you should not be obsessed over it. You should be obsessed over ‘Have I believed in Jesus? Will I cry out to God for mercy?’ and God is willing to hear your cry of mercy, that’s the amazing thing. You scour through the whole of Scripture and you realize God never rejects the cry of genuine mercy, a genuine cry of mercy, except for one case, the rich man who is Hades, the gulf is fixed. But while you are alive today, God will respond to your cry, your genuine cry for mercy.
Ezekiel tells us “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth,”
(Eze 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.)
Jesus, when he was on earth, He says, I have tried to gather you but you will not..
(Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!)
In Luke 19, He wept over them.
(Luke 19:41,42 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.)
There is that compassion of God for sinners to turn, there is a compassion of God for you today to turn, and God is not willing that any should perish.
(2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance)
I want to say this: the balance seems to be given to us. I don’t think you will properly be able to fully balance it all.
But it’s here, in John 6:37:
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Very well illustrated to me, that coming to God is like a man coming to a door that says, “Whosoever will, shall be saved.” You step through that door of “Whosoever will”, enter into the life of God and you turn around and you realize, “Welcome, you who are chosen before the foundation of the world.”
So, my friends, hold this in tension, in balance not in fatalism. You can be saved today. That is the offer of salvation God gives to you. Don’t leave this place and say, “I am a Pharaoh.” How do you know you are a Pharaoh? Who told you you are a Pharaoh? Who told you? Because the moment you trust in Jesus Christ, you will realize you are actually not Pharaoh. Believe, call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved. My friends, pray for your loved ones, because you do not know and you can cling on to the beautiful promises of God (that) whosoever believes shall not perish. Pray for your father, your mother, don’t give up on them and say, “I think they are Pharaohs” How do you know? Let me tell you- you were a Pharaoh for many years of your life on the outside, until God’s call came in the intersection of time. So, pray, go, evangelize, preach the Gospel. Jesus commands us to preach the Gospel and all that, because we believe salvation is possible for you today.
But I want to apply this finally to you as believers, if you have already believed and you know you have eternal life, this message should stir you to realize salvation is so precious. It is not what you did, friends, that gave you salvation. It is not what you will, friends, that give you salvation. It’s not what you can give, friends. You can be the richest man in this world but you can never purchase salvation. You are saved because God, in His mercy, will you to be saved. It knocks off all pride from underneath our feet. It should fill our hearts with intense gratitude and joy that God in His mercy has chosen you.
Hold tight to the love of God, hold tight to the righteousness of God and hold tight to the sovereignty of God. It will fill your heart with the proper knowledge of who He is. God is not to be grasped by human rationalization, God is to be understood in the light of His divine revelation. May His Words today shake off false understanding and bring us to a proper relationship with the God of the heavens. Let’s bow for a word of prayer.
I think there is so much for us to grasp this morning. As I studied it and I was pondering about it, I think this is really, really tough, tough not because it is not clear, but tough because it really contradicts humanistic thinking. And we have been so used to humanistic thinking. But by the grace of God, the illuminating work of the Spirit, I pray today, we will know God for who He is, for who He is, not who we imagine Him to be.
Our friends, who has known the mind of God? How unsearchable are His ways! Rejoice today that you belong to Jesus, you are loved with an everlasting love. Nothing shall separate you from the love of God. And if you are in Jesus, all things work together for good, it has to be because God is sovereign. Right here, right now, be thankful to God for this amazing gift of salvation. You could never have purchased it, warranted it or deserved it, He gave you freely. Behold what manner of love, behold what manner of love!
My dear friends, I know maybe you are here for the first time, you do not know Jesus. This has been a tough message for you and I understand. But friends, if there is one thing you need to walk away with, it is this: God has given to you His Son. He is holy, He is righteous, He is merciful, He is compassionate. How do I know? Look back to the cross where the Son of God died and where He gave His life a payment, a ransom for you, your sins. And the offer stands today: Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Come, and drink of the water freely. Jesus paid it all and you can claim it today by faith. Would you cry to God today for mercy, for your soul, for your soul?
My friends, this is an important decision, this is an important time, may God humble your heart and by His Spirit, effect that new birth in you, to give you that new life, to believe in Jesus and to have Him for salvation and life. So my dear Father, I thank you today, that You have spoken to us words that men will not communicate. And we are thankful today, we are not left to our own, but Your Word describes, declares Your ways, Your wonders, Yourself. Align us to the teaching of Scripture, fill our hearts today with the knowledge of the true and living God. Bless those today who need to be saved, that they may come to salvation and life. God, do Your soverign work, we humbly plead, we thank You in Jesus name. Amen.