As we move into the weekend, let's begin to think about the incredible opportunity we have to gather for the specific purpose of giving praise to God! Our corporate worship meetings are indeed opportunities for service to the Lord as we sing, pray, enjoy fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, read/hear God's Word, and hear the voice of the Head of the Church as His Word is preached and explained! Just because we are blessed with this opportunity on a regular basis doesn't mean that it is not a monumental event with cosmic implications! Every Lord's Day, redeemed people around the world meet for the glory of God. That's powerful. So let's not approach the Lord's Day casually or as if it is routine and mundane. Let's approach the Lord's Day with specific preparation and enthusiasm!
At DRBC, the sermon text is scheduled to be Romans 9:19-29 (but including verse 18 in the reading as a reminder of the immediate context). To prepare, first of all, read the passage! I've been encouraging us to be reading and thinking about Romans 9 in the context of chapters 9 - 11 as a unit, and all of this within the flow of thought that has accumulated in the first 8 chapters.
In Rom 9:19-29, we are confronted with the mystery of God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. Most every believer I know and every theologian I've heard or read have agreed that the topic of the salvation of sinners involves some deep things that could be classified as mystery. Paul has made the case for God's right to elect sinners for salvation (i.e. that salvation is by grace) throughout all that precedes our passage in Romans, but particularly in verses 6-18 as he discusses the dilemma of the security of salvation while Israel is mostly in unbelief.
As you read vv 19-29, note the question of verse 19. Note the presupposed truths behind the question: that God indeed finds fault with sinners in unbelief, and that God is sovereign in accomplishing what He wills. Note the answer to the question of verse 19 that is found in v 20: "who are you, O man to answer back to God." God is presented in His relationship to His creatures as a potter with complete authority and ability to mold the clay as He wills. Do you agree that He has that right?
Read the passages in Isaiah 29:15-16; 64:8-9 and Jeremiah 18:1-6 to see the background for Paul's illustration. Ask yourself the question that runs from Rom 9:22-24. Are you okay with the truth of what is indicated there? Does God indeed have the right to do what He wills with His creatures?
Does He have the right to create a people for Himself? Paul quotes Hosea 2:23, 1:10, and Isaiah 10:22-23 and 1:9 which are passages about God's activity in creating a people for Himself--Israel, or more specifically redeemed, believing Israel with whom He has included believing Gentiles. It is helpful to read these passages including the context of those passages.
All of these illustrations and quotations are provided by the Holy Spirit through the human authorship of Paul. What is your response to God's right to be God? Do you rejoice in bowing before His sovereignty, or are you concerned for the rights of the creatures? Let us yield to, indeed rejoice in, God's right to rule, and let us be grateful that God is good and is gracious to save sinners who deserve only His wrath!
Soli Deo Gloria!