The Very Kind and Stern God!
22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way[e] all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is[f] my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”[g]
28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[h] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
Paul comes to the end of this section of Romans dealing with the Jewish people and their rejection of Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
One of the things that is amazing about how the section of 9-11 goes is the bracket of mercy. Paul begins and ends the section that deals with the rejection of Christ by talking about mercy. It’s as if he is saying, it is only because of the mercy of God that any people see and accept who Jesus is. And so we will end the sermon today by looking at the concept of mercy. But to begin with, Paul invites people to consider God’s character in the light of the rejection of Jesus by the Jews. And what Paul wants us to see is that God is both kind and stern.
- God is Kind and Stern
- God does not change
- We see different character qualities of God, we see life in a different light dependent upon circumstances. We change, circumstances change, but God does not change. We just discover different things about Him.
- God allows people freedom.
- That freedom comes with the cost of responsibility and accountability.
- God has not created robots. We see freedom as a primary good right? Of course. Without freedom there is no love, without freedom there is no moral action at all. Freedom is a primary good.
- This is the world God has made. Kindness: we are free. Sternness, we will be judged and held accountable for the way that we used our freedom.
- And we are responsible to use our freedom to reflect the character of God.
When people act freely and do not follow Christ, then they find God to be severe. And that will be their experience! This is because God Creator and therefore Judge of creation.
When people act freely and follow Christ, they recognize the things that God has done in their lives to demonstrate His presence, His love and His grace.
Consider the Cross of Jesus as it relates to the kindness and the sternness of God. Consider the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70AD as it relates to the kindness and sternness of God.
- People change in their belief and obedience toward God
And it matters. The Israelites prove this! They are suddenly cut off!! The word sternness means literally to cut abruptly. They were suddenly cut off of the tree! 70AD
Why? Because they did not follow Jesus as Messiah. Instead they followed the current desire to take revenge on the Romans, they saw their problem as a political one. They did not recognize Jesus’ defeat of Satan and personal replacement of the temple. (Destroy this temple and in three days build it again. Spoken of His body.)
Jesus manages forgiveness. Jesus is our great sacrifice for sins, (by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.)
Jesus identifies the people of God. (He is the seed of Abraham)
Jesus bestows the blessing of God (He is the seed of Abraham)
Jesus reconciles people to God. He is our high priest that allows us to approach God with boldness! (We pray in His name and through His mediation)
Jesus is our great high priest. Jesus gives fellowship with God around the sacrifice of His body (fellowship) and blood (forgiveness).
- How do we want to experience God?
It’s not a mental exercise, whether or not we are trusting Christ. The question is whether or not we are following Jesus’ teaching and example for our lives.
To even have heard the gospel message is a great opportunity. Not everyone has heard!!
So, folks might ask Paul: What is God doing then?! Well, in 60AD the answer is a lot!! But the scope of the question focuses in three directions. This is true of them, this is true of us!
- God’s Present Purposes
- We are looking back (What was He doing in and through Israel?)
What is God doing? Well, He worked in the lives of the Israelites and in doing so He has demonstrated His character.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Exodus 20:5b-6 for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Kindness and sternness in the past.
- We can look forward
God is going to bring history to a halt, then there will be Resurrection and judgement. Finally, a new heaven and earth where we will live apart from the presence of sin and all of the ways that it complicates our lives.
Before that happens:
- The full number of Gentiles are going to come in. v.25
II Peter 3:
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
- All Israel will be saved. v.26
Kindness: Resurrection, New Creation, Eternal life.
Sternness: Judgement, Second Death. No more life.
- What about today?
- I am living in the mercy of God.
- God is reaching out to the Gentiles
- God is reaching out to the Jews
- God is at work in my life sorting out my character so that I look like Jesus.
- And I am at work in the power of the Holy Spirit expressing the good news about Jesus Christ to others.
The call is to walk after the Spirit. The breath of God. The Word of God. The life of God. Pursue that today!!!
The final idea I want to focus on from this passage is found in verse 32.
III. Mercy is for All
32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
We are back to the concept of Mercy, which is where we started in this passage.
9: 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”[e]
14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[f]
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
But even before, chapter 3:22b-24
There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
- God’s response to disobedience
God covers shame. He does not desire to define us by our sinful selves.
Adam and Even have their shame covered.
God warns Cain, “Sin desires to have you, it is crouching, you must master it!”
Ephesians 1: 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
John 1: 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
- Our response to receiving mercy
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Matthew 6: 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Micah 6: 6 With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
- Embrace the cost of mercy
Mercy is not free to the one who is extending it. They pay the cost for it. We need to recognize this and embrace it. Jesus pays the cost of our mercy before God. When we take ahold of the Micah 6:8 passage and we take responsibility for ourselves, and then we pay the price for mercy in our relationships with others, then we know that we are understanding God’s mercy in our lives. This is how He is merciful to us. This is how we are to be merciful to others.
Quite an excellent message.