What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9:14-18 ESV)
It’s not about you: Romans 9 as a trumpet of God’s God-centeredness. The reason why application is centered on the theme, “it’s not about you” is because the question at the beginning of the passage was, “Is God just?” No one asks that question in a philosophical manner. No one is thinking, “Is God fair philosophically as directly compared to his other attributes?” No, the thinking always relates to us. We question God’s justice as it relates to us. We are really asking, “Is God fair…to me?” The direction I want to take you at this point in the message is toward the radical God-centeredness of God, or the more blunt reality, “It’s not about you.” This is wrapped up in three false views of God and corrected by the right view of God according to the Scriptures.
- God as Ogre: God is distant, angry and treats people who want to be saved like whack-a-mole: “I want to be saved!”-WHAM! “Not today.” That’s not the picture of God that we get from this passage or any other passage in the Bible. Sovereignty doesn’t mean anger. You have to have balance when you’re looking at these passages.
- God is a God of justice, but he is also a God of mercy: Exodus 34:6-7
- God is also the absolute authority in the universe. There is a reaction by sinful humanity to the idea that God has absolute authority that rejects the idea that God can do whatever he pleases because he’s God, but that is true: Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” In other words, our God is God. He does whatever he wants. That brings us to the point of balance in Ecclesiastes 5:2 “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.”
- God as Genie: This election stuff isn’t the way that things really are. God saves good people. This is the quintessential view of the proud and religious and self-righteous. The thought is that if I am “good” God will grant me my desires. Looking at God this way is the ultimate “it’s all about me” view. I am the source, the means and the end of all things, as if God owes me something. The problem with this view is actually the Bible. We understand clearly from our study of Romans that God’s wrath is revealed against the ugly unrighteousness of the wicked (1:18-32), and the pretty unrighteousness of the religious (2), and then we saw that no one is righteous (3:9-18) and no one can work for their righteousness (3:20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight”) and that redemption came by God’s grace through faith as a gift (3:21-26). Then when we come to our passage today we learned that it doesn’t depend on man who runs, or exerts effort, or works, but upon God who has mercy.
- God as Santa: God won’t bring himself to hold us responsible for our sins. He’s like Santa. He knows everyone is guilty, but he wouldn’t give anybody coal in their stocking because he knows how much children like presents. That is not the picture of God in the pages of Scripture. God is not Santa. He does not exist for us. God exists for God. He will work out his plan for his name and his glory every time, all the time. Exodus 32:25-29. Look at your Bible and hear the message of the God of the universe:
- Isaiah 46:9-10 “…remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:9-10 ESV).
- Psalm 98 [Read All…Loudly]
- God as Sovereign: God’s purpose is God. The gospel is about God, the Bible is about God, your life is about God, everything in the universe is directed toward and fundamentally about God. “For from him, and to him and for him are all things!” God is fundamentally God-centered and he reigns over the universe. The most miserable way to live your life is to live it for yourself. Your kingdom, your authority, your rules end in nothing but death. His kingdom, his authority and his rules end in everlasting joy. Embrace the sovereignty of God in order to live life the way it was meant to be lived!
- “We were made to experience, to be part of, to be consumed by and to live in pursuit of the one glory that is truly glorious-the glory of God.”
- But the enemy tricks us. We squeeze the size of our lives into the size of our personal wants, dreams and desires. Thus, we begin living to build our own little kingdom rather than God’s. The reason why we do this so easily is because with my little kingdom, I am the king! Self is at the center and that is attractive to me because my main idol is me.
- Big kingdom living, according to the gospel is living with Christ at the center of my existence, Christ is all, Christ is preeminent. Colossians 1:15-23! Paul David Tripp again has some great ways to think about living life within the big kingdom, having Christ at the center:
- Christ is the Source: Everything I have comes from Christ. Everything I am becoming is coming from Christ. He is the source of everything that is wise, true, loving and good. I am completely dependent upon his grace and thus I seek it wherever it is found. I read my Bible, I come to church, I participate in corporate worship and ministry and the Lord’s Supper and Baptism because Christ is my source and I need his grace.
- Christ is the Motive: Jesus is the reason why I do everything. I want to know him. I want to please him with my life. I want to value what he values and love what he loves.
- Christ is the Goal: I do everything that I do to glorify Christ. I want him to be known, exalted and honored by my life. I seek to do nothing for my own glory or advancement.
- Christ is the Hope: When Christ is my hope, he is the one in whom I place all my confidence. What are you hoping for? If I only had______, then I would be happy. Christ becomes the answer to every blank.
- This is the best news ever! You are not at the center of the universe! God is God-centered and he has saved you to be God-centered. Any other way of living is a way to waste your life. When you find your source, motivation, goal and hope in Christ and live for his glory, you find everlasting joy in the sovereign grace of God.