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The Lord’s Day

June 7, 2015

sermonaudioerbc“The Family-Part 13” (CE lesson) and “Confined to Unbelief” – Romans 11:30-32 (sermon) are available on SermonAudio. This morning’s Scripture readings and sermon details follow.

CALL TO WORSHIP: Psalm 66:16-20

Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will declare what He has done for my soul.
I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.
If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
But certainly God has heard me;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!
(NKJV)

READING OF THE LAW: Romans 1:28-32

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (NKJV)

Commentary: In this passage. Paul takes us through this laundry list that God had given the Gentiles over to sin. They knew clearly that these were sins and still they committed them anyway. Charles Hodge expands on this in his commentary on verse 32, as it relates to man’s freedom of choice and his responsibility. He says, “This passage also shows that God’s judicial giving up of mankind does not destroy man’s freedom of choice or his responsibility. Men give themselves over to do evil, and yet know that they deserve death for what they do. The stream which carries them away is not outside but within them. It is their own corrupt nature. It is themselves.” Even though they know the bad consequences of the crimes listed in this passage, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them. This is the lowest point of degradation. To sin, even the heat of passion, is evil; but to delight in the sins of others shows that men are set in their purpose and have a fixed preference: wickedness. Such is the apostles argument in order to prove that the heathen are all sinful, that they are justly charged with ungodliness and unrighteousness and are consequently exposed to God’s wrath. God gave them up to their sin in order to show us and them that they deserve justice from Him, which is death.

READING OF THE GOSPEL: Titus 3:3-5

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, (NKJV)

Commentary: The recipient of this letter is Titus, a Gentile Christian, whom Paul refers to in chapter 1 as “a true son in our common faith.” Paul left him on the island of Crete and in verse 5, he reminds Titus of his mission there, which is to “set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city…” In verse 13, Paul uses some strong words to describe the shortcomings of the believers there and tells Titus that he is to “rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in the faith.” But when we get to our reading for today, in chapter 3, Paul begins with the words, “For we ourselves.” In the immediate context, “we” refers to Titus, who is a Gentile and to Paul himself, who is a Jew. Together, they represent the background of every Christian believer, either a Jew or a Gentile, so what Paul says about them can be applied to us as well. “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” In other words, Paul is saying “don’t look down on the believers there because their spiritual background is the same as ours.” One commentator says, “It is not that every believer has committed every sin listed here, but rather that, before salvation, every life is characterized by such sins. That sobering truth should make believers humble in their dealings with the unsaved, even those who are grossly immoral and ungodly. If it weren’t for God’s grace to His own, they would all be just as wicked.” (end of quote) “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” If we were going to be saved from our foolishness, disobedience, deception, lusts, sinful pleasures, malice, envy and hatefulness, only God had the willingness to save us and the ability to do so. Salvation would not come to us “by works of righteousness which we have done,” Back in verse 3, Paul used the word “we” and now in verse 5, he uses the word “us”. In the immediate context, “us” refers to Paul, a Jew, and to Titus, a Gentile and, by extension, it refers to every Christian believer, both Jews and Gentiles. So Paul is saying to Titus and to us, that “when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, …He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” All praise goes to God our Savior for His kindness, His love and His mercy toward us. It is He who saved us.

SERMON: “Confined to Unbelief” – Romans 11:30-32

For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. (NKJV)

Summary: Israel’s rejection of the gospel is ultimately God’s plan.  He has orchestrated all of history so that all men would be forced to concede their status as disobedient to God.  The Gentiles were turned over to reprobate minds, the depth of their sin proving their disobedience to God.  The Jews were turned over to the rejection of the gospel of their own Messiah, showing their own unbelief. Moreover, in each case, God uses the one to further the next.  Before Christ came, Gentile idolatry fueled Jewish distinctiveness.  As the gospel went out, Jewish rejection fueled Gentile conversions.  Finally, Gentile conversions are the means God uses to bring the gospel full circle back to Jews.  In each case, the first step is to conclude each under disobedience and unbelief, that they might see that salvation is exclusively in Christ. 

BENEDICTORY READING: Galatians 3:22

But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (NKJV)

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