February 2-4, 2019
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Romans 10:18-11:6
“THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD”
Romans 10:18-11:6 (NIV 1984) “ But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” 19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” 20 And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” 21 But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” 11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
In the word of God before us today there exists a stunning word picture to help us try to grasp how great the love of God in Christ Jesus is. We are in the section of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome that deals with a question that has caused believers in Jesus to struggle and will continue to. Why? Why do some of those who have had the spiritual deck stacked in their favor leave, forsake, reject Christ? Here Paul is talking about his own Jewish people. They had Moses and the Prophets and the Old Testament and the miracles. They had Jesus born from them, living with them and the miracles. We might think of someone who had the blessing of strong Christian family and solid Christian education. Why do they not value the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord? And remember what the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord is. It is His everlasting commitment to forgive sins, to forgive them even though to do so He has to horribly punish Jesus instead of us. It is His desire to have people with Him forever not because He needs them but because He wants them. It is a type of patient love that always hopes, always perseveres, always wants even the worst sinner forgiven.
Back to our stunning word picture of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. It can actually be a living picture. You have all seen the challenges that go on through the internet, some with good purposes like the ice bucket challenge. Some dangerous and foolish like cinnamon or tide pods. Today I offer you a church challenge. Don’t participate if you have injured or recovering shoulders in any way. Do participate, only if you want to. Here we go, kids first. Hold your arms out in front of you like you are waiting to hug someone. Now adults. Hold ‘em straight out. “All day long,” God said. “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” That’s the word picture. My challenge is simpler. See if you can hold them out all sermon long. And as you do so I want you to I want you to picture and feel the extent of God’s love. All day long.
All day long the love of God is extended. To everyone! Remember His testimony. For God so loved the world. This is good and pleases God who wants all to be saved. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world! What sins or yours are bothering you today? Where did you screw up again? What’s making you feel like you aren’t good enough for God, or making you feel like God is punishing you? He’s not. Don’t run away, run to. He forgives you and just wants you close to Him. Pour out your heart, he’s waiting for you all day long.
If you don’t have any sins that bother you, watch out. You are heading down the wrong road, the road that too many of Paul’s people, the Israelites did. “ But I ask: Did they not hear? 19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? 11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.” All day long, every day for 1500 plus years God extended His love in Christ Jesus. I’m not sure when you read your Old Testament last. It’s big. There is a lot of books. But if you kind of think of an overview of the history of the people of Israel, it never gets good. There is this constant repeated cycle of the people forsaking God and God continuing to hold on to them. Always taking them back. All day long, every day the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord was extended to them.
The result? Rejected! Every parent here can relate to that picture. When your kids are mad or hurt and you want to help them but what can happen? The lip goes out, the back gets turned. Sadly many of God’s Old Testament people did that to Him. You heard the testimony from Moses and Isaiah. You remember what things were like at the time of the prophet Elijah where he felt like he was the only one left, when he was helped not by one of his own people but a widow woman from Sidon, a foreigner. You heard the testimony from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. God’s love for them in Christ Jesus was rejected all day long because they were an obstinate and disobedient people who exchanged God’s laws and way of salvation for their own.
There is a warning for us, brothers and sisters. Don’t take God’s grace for granted. Understand that the sinful nature in us is capable of rejecting the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord even though he extends it all day long. There is a reason God set up a pattern of weekly worship for all his people and that that weekly worship should continually remind people of their need for Jesus and anchor hearts to what Jesus has done. To exchange the weekly pattern of worship God set up for one or our own choosing is not just an insult to God but a dangerous rejection of a God who loves so much He extends that love all day long.
And there is of course a better way. The way I believe you are exhibiting. Appreciate it. “ So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” By now you may have figured out the shorter way to talk about the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. It’s grace. Often defined as God’s undeserved love. Maybe better defined as God’s underserved love made possible by the perfect life and sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Not all of Paul’s people, not all of Elijah’s people, not all of Moses’ people rejected. By grace some believed and appreciated and it showed. Some carefully worshipped every Sabbath because they wanted to. Some refused to bow the knee to Baal. The earliest Christian church was all Jewish people who showed their appreciation by sticking to Jesus, enduring persecution, spreading the message, caring for each other.
I see you doing those things. I see you appreciating grace. Whether you realize it or not you are today’s remnant chosen by grace. While most of our American people are those who have rejected, by God’s grace you are not. You appreciate the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord and it shows. It shows as you come to worship because you want to, not because you have to. It shows as you eagerly desire to participate in Jesus’ forgiveness meal. It shows as you make sacrifices of time and money for your family and your church family so we can do our best for Jesus. It shows in the way that you take care of each other and want to do even more. It shows where it can’t be seen, in your hearts where you desperately want Jesus to be proud of you all day long.
I’ve got more good news. Jesus is proud of you. He can’t be any more proud of you than He already is because His feelings for you aren’t based on what you do but what He has done. Those arms of God that are extended all day long at a certain point in history went from being extend this way to be extended this way as Jesus demonstrated His love for you on the cross. And at another point in your history they will come back around you like this in the all day long of heaven! Until then make it your daily business to run to the God who extends His arms to you all day long. Amen.