WHO DECIDES MY DESTINY?

WHO DECIDES MY DESTINY by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Who Decides My Destiny

Romans 10:1-4  1Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Romans 10:9  9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Background: If you want to know what it means to be saved, this is the book for you. If you want to know why Jesus died on the cross, what does it mean that we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, what does it mean that we are no longer under Law but under grace, what does it mean to live by the Spirit—this is the book for you. This book makes perfect sense right up until Romans 8. Starting in Romans 9 until 11 Paul seems to be going off on a tangent and talking about the people of Israel – the Jewish people.

Many people have come to Romans 9 and have drawn some unbiblical conclusions. One of those conclusions is that – God has chosen only a certain few to go to heaven and the others He has chosen to go to hell. Last week someone called me and asked my opinion about a church they were visiting in another city. They asked if this church was liberal and after looking at their website I told them that it is definitely not liberal but they hold to the view that God has elected certain people to go to heaven and certain to hell.

The question this morning is—is that true? Has God indeed elected some people for heaven and others for hell? The answer is absolutely, positively NO! You have a choice.

So why do people draw such conclusions? Because they rip Romans 9 right out of context. Has anyone ever taken you out of context? Yesterday was a hot day. What if I had said – “Man, it’s a hot day! I can kill for a glass of lemonade.” Right then someone happened to walk by and all they heard was – “I can kill” and they call the FBI and report me as a professional assassin. All because I said – “I can kill.”

What is the context of Romans 9? In the earliest church, there was a great controversy over the purpose of the Jewish people. No longer did people have to keep the Law, offer sacrifices, observe circumcision to be saved, and so the question came up – If we don’t have to become a Jewish person in order to be saved, then are they still God’s chosen people? If they are still God’s chosen people, do they still have to believe in Jesus to be saved? There was also some resentment against them since many had rejected Him.

In Romans 9, 10, and 11, Paul is explaining the role of the Jewish people in God’s kingdom. He begins by reminding the church that he had a great burden for them. Listen to Rom. 9:2-4 2…I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ (cast out from Christ) for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4who are Israelites…” Throughout the centuries people have persecuted the Jewish people. That is wrong.

Then he reminds in Romans 9:4 that they are indeed the chosen ones “who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;  5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” The people of Israel are God’s people to bring His plan of salvation into this world.

Why did God make this choice? He is sovereign. Listen to verse 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” This is from Genesis where God said that He will use Jacob to lead and Esau to look to him. Not salvation but service.

13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” This is from Malachi, where God judged the descendants of Esau – the Edomites – because of their immorality and disobedience. It had nothing to do with salvation. God preserved Jacob’s line to bring the Messiah into the world and he punished Esau’s line for spreading sin.

Someone might say – “That’s unfair, that God continued to work with Jacob and not with the others.” 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Keep in mind that this is not mercy unto salvation but unto preserving the plan of salvation. Listen to verse 17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. Pharaoh had a choice – he could have gotten on board with God’s plan of salvation and helped the Hebrews (Jewish people). Instead, he hardened his heart and in turn God made an example out of him.

I can go on and on but the point is simple – God sovereignly chose the Jewish people to bring His plan of salvation into this world.

But now listen carefully – Every Jewish person had to individually choose God’s plan of salvation. Go back to Rom. 9:6-7  6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.”

Rom. 10:1Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”

Application: Collectively, you can enjoy God’s blessings at Clearview but, individually, you can still be lost. Collectively, you can enjoy the blessings of living in this nation blessed by God but, individually, you can still be lost and go to hell.

The Jewish people had a lot of false ideas about being saved.

A.   DEDICATION

Romans 10:2-3  2For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

Background: Ever since Israel returned from Babylon, they were zealous in serving God. They were done worshipping idols. They were going to the synagogues and to the temples. They were teaching the Law of God. In fact, they had even added more laws to the Law. They were zealous for God but without knowledge. Paul was an example of that. Philippians 3:4-6 4though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

It was the Golden Age of Judaism and their golden age crucified Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you something: Is it possible to be dedicated/zealous and still be lost? Yes.

For e.g. Mrs. Mary Johnson would often share with me how she was dedicated to the  church and taught Sunday School, and served as women’s ministry leader and she was lost. She had zeal (dedication) for God and she was trying to please God but she was lost.

Application: Many people are sincere in what they are doing, but they are sincerely lost.

B.   HIGH STANDARDS

3For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

Background: “Being ignorant of God’s righteousness” does not mean that the Jewish people were ignorant of the Holiness and Righteousness of God. In fact, they were quite proud that unlike the pagans and their sexually immoral lifestyles, they had some very high standards of righteousness and purity. But it was still not the righteousness of God.

Matthew 5:20  For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Application: We have friends and family members who think that they are good enough to get to heaven because they are not living an immoral lifestyle; they don’t lie and cheat and hurt people; they pay their taxes and do their part to help their community; they serve in their church and support a few charity organizations; they are good neighbors and upstanding citizens.  All that is good but there is only one problemthey are seeking to establish their own righteousness.

C.    KEEPING THE LAW

Rom. 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Background: God gave the Law (the 10 commandments, sacrifices, priesthood and festivals) to the people of Israel to warn them against the dangers of sin, to protect them from the effects of sin, to separate them from the influence of the sinful nations around them. The Law kept them together as a society, as a people, and as a nation until the Seed should came. Josephus the historian tells us: “The Jew (ish person) knows the Law better than his own name… Countless thousands would go to their great feasts. Over and above the Law….Many died on the cross and were willing to burned alive and thrown to the lions because of their loyalty to the Law. They were also very evangelistic, trying to convert the Gentiles to the Law of Moses. But they still missed the purpose of the Law.

Instead of letting the Law lead them to Christ, the Jewish people began to worship the Law. They thought that keeping the Law was going to save them. Paul says, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Application: Keeping the 10 commandments will do absolutely nothing for your salvation. People often ask me “You don’t think we need the 10 commandments today?” Yes we do. We need them in the Capital Building, courtroom, and classrooms. We need to teach them to our kids. They will preserve our society, and our nation. They will give them a sense of right and wrong. But, they will not save you.

Now Paul explains to them the right idea about getting saved.

Listen to Romans 10: 8-9  8But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): meaning = it’s not that complicated.

9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

#1.IF YOU CONFESS, MAKE SURE YOU BELIEVE IT. There are a lot of people who have confessed but they’ve never believed. They are still lost. By faith, you accept that Jesus is the Son of God who died for you.

10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

#2.IF YOU BELIEVE, MAKE SURE YOU CONFESS IT.

There is no such thing as secret Christians and private Christians. God wants us to declare publicly that we are followers of Jesus Christ. During Jesus’ earthly ministry –  John 12:42-43 42Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Listen to how Jesus responds in Matthew 10:32-33  32“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

For e.g. Adrian Rogers gave a great illustration of the woman who was sitting in the choir and the Holy Spirit was working on her that she needed to be saved. Her friend saw her agony and said, “Let’s go down to the front and give your heart to Christ.” She said, “I am too embarrassed to go to the front. Can I not get saved here?” The friend replied, “No you can’t.”Next night the same thing; next night, again, the same thing. On the last night, She was in agony again. This time she leaned over to her friend and said, “I am ready to go down.” The friend replied, “Now, you are ready to get saved, right here.”

You cannot confess and not believe and you cannot believe and not confess.

Application: Many are sitting on the sidelines that have never openly acknowledged that they are saved. Baptism is an important way of making that declaration. Someone says, “But I am embarrassed.” Listen to Romans 10:11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. Jew or Greek – the same Lord will be rich to all who call on Him. 13For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

DEALING WITH DOUBTS AND DISCOURAGEMENT

DEALING WITH DOUBTS AND DISCOURAGEMENT

Romans 8:28-31 28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Calvinism vs ArminianismOverall Background: The passage we just read is one of the most discussed passages in seminaries and theological circles. In college—I remember—you could walk by the dorm rooms and hear guys discussing “Predestination and Election” – Has God indeed predestined some people to go to heaven and some to go to hell? Has God indeed chosen some before they were even born? In seminary—I remember—hot debates over Calvinism and Arminianism, “Once saved always saved,” and “can you lose your salvation?” Because of this one passage, Christians across the world have been divided for centuries. Why? Some people have misunderstood this passage.

Please listen very carefully: the reason people misunderstand this passage is because they disregard the context surrounding this passage. Has someone ever misunderstood you and taken you out of context? In the same way, people have taken just a few verses here and there and disregarded the context of Romans 8. This chapter is not about how God saves people. This chapter is about how God keeps His people saved.

Meaning: This passage is not about whether God elects who will be saved and who will not. This passage is not about whether God predestines who will come to Him. This passage is about how God always finishes the work that He starts in the life of every believer. He never leaves a job half-done.

Application: No matter what is happening in your life; No matter how terrible things appear to you; No matter what bad things you have done; if you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, then God will work all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

In Romans 7-8, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has been teaching us about the struggle in the life of every Christian. Romans 7:15 “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” This is the struggle against the Old Nature, the Indwelling Sin, and “the evil present with me.” I am saved. I am a new creation in Christ. I have been crucified, buried, and resurrected in Christ but as long as I live in this world, I have to deal with this Old Nature.  Romans 7:24 “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” The answer comes back in the next verse Romans 7:25 “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Meaning: the only way I can have victory is when I keep my eyes on Christ, when I follow Christ, when I reckon myself by faith to be in Christ.

Who helps me to keep my eyes on Christ and follow Christ and reckon myself to be in Christ? The Holy Spirit. When I get saved, God sends His Holy Spirit to live in me. As I walk in the Spirit, I put to death the deeds of the flesh. As I walk in the Spirit, He enables me to pray. Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

What’s more? As we face the doubts and discouragements of life, the Holy Spirit helps us every day.

I. HE HELPS US WITH OUR PAST QUESTIONS.

Romans 8:29-30  29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Background: That word “foreknew” has been debated to no end. Prior to the coming of  Augustine, the pastor of Hippo in North Africa in the fourth century, people had no problem with that word. It meant knowing something or someone beforehand. Augustine came along and said that foreknowledge is much more. In fact, God has elected some people out of His own free will and He knows them beforehand. Some people have said that the word for foreknowledge – “proginoskein” – has a pregnant meaning of “making someone the object of loving care.” They do that by breaking that word apart into fore + knowledge. Here’s the problem with that – let’s take that word “mouse pad.” We all know what that means. But if I were to break it apart into a mouse and a pad, it would not be correct. Now, that’s an extreme example but I hope you get the point.

Foreknowledge does not mean “God making someone an object of His love and saving them.” It simply means that God knew beforehand what we were going to do and what we were going to choose. He knew us even before we were born.

David says in Psalms 139:1-6  1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether (already).

Psalms 139:13-15  13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret. . .”

David agrees with Paul that God knew Him beforehand. God knew what He would do, what He would choose, and what He would become.

What does He do with that knowledge? 29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined (proorizein  – should be translated as pre-appointed or appointed beforehand – not to be saved but to become like Jesus) to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. God knows all my past. He knows what I have done. He knows my weaknesses. But, when I come to Him for salvation, He doesn’t turn me away. Instead, He sets me up to become like His Son, Jesus.

Listen to the rest – 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. It is all past tense. Meaning: When I come to Christ, He does not wait for me to act. He goes ahead and applies everything to my account. As far as He is concerned, you are as good as in heaven – already glorified! 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Application: You may say “I don’t feel glorified. I don’t feel justified. I don’t feel called. Some days, I don’t even feel saved.” Dear friends, from God’s perspective, when He sees you, He sees Jesus. He is your brother. You are part of the family of God. What are you worried about?

The first thing the Holy Spirit does – 1. He helps us with our past questions.

II. HE HELPS US WITH OUR PRESENT NEEDS

Romans 8:32-37 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Background: That is simple enough. What do you need? Is there anything that is too much for God? Will God draw a line and say – “I can do only so much and no more.”

For e.g. If you go to buy a very expensive watch, the beautiful and ornate case is free.

Jesus promised His disciples back in John 16:23-28  23“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. . . 26In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

The same promise that Jesus made to His disciples are now made to every believer.

Application: What is destroying your peace? What eats your sleep? Have you turned to your Heavenly Father for it? Financial need, relationships, wisdom, strength, grace.

Jesus Intercedes for usSomeone says, “You don’t know how bad I have been. God’s not going to answer my prayers.” 33Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Meaning: We not only have the Holy Spirit interceding for us but we also have Jesus praying for us.

For e.g. We often say “It’s not what you know but who you know that matters.” To be honest, it’s neither. “It’s not what you know or who you know that matters. What matters is who knows you.” Jesus, who knows our every weakness, is the one who is interceding for us.

Application: Why do we listen to the enemy? Why do listen to those who only desire to bring us pain? Why do we only think of negative thoughts? God has promised us so much more in Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit – 1. He helps us with our past questions; 2. He helps us with our present needs.

III. HE HELPS US WITH OUR FUTURE FEARS

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Background: No matter what is coming, one thing is for sure – the love of Christ will always remain.

36As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

38For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jacob cried in Genesis – “all these things are against me.”

Paul replies in Romans – “all things work together for God for me.”

Application: Are you saved? Are you looking to Christ? Are you trusting the Holy Spirit to help you?

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