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Worship Series: Lord’s Prayer
Worship Theme: Your Kingdom Come
- CW 576: Spread, Oh, Spread the Mighty Word
- Change My Heart, Oh God
- Your Kingdom Come, We Humbly Pray
- CW 120: What Wondrous Love Is This
- CW 346: In You Is Gladness
Message: Your Kingdom Come
Pastor Jon Enter
So...do you have any questions? Whenever someone lectures on a topic or demonstrates a new technique, they often ask, “Do you have any questions?” If you’ve read the Bible, do you have any questions? Sure you do. “God, when did You create the angels?” “How many angels are there?” “Lord, is there life on another planet?” “What happened to Noah’s ark?” “Why did You make the platypus and aardvark the way You did? They are just weird looking!” The answers to these questions will have to wait until we get to heaven. God, unfortunately, didn’t place an easy button on the Bible that we could tap to answer all our wildest questions. There are certain questions we have that aren’t found within the pages of Scripture.When I read today’s lesson from Romans nine, I’m sure some “Why, Lord?” questions popped into your brain. “Why, Lord, are some saved and not others?” “Why, Lord, have You predetermined who will go to Your heavenly kingdom? And does that mean you predetermined who would go to hell?” This morning in the third part of our sermon series, Prayer Revolution, we will answer these questions as we study the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer: Your Kingdom Come. As we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are reminded we are a part of God’s kingdom; we have been drafted into the Lord’s army of believers.
It has been a while since the U.S. issued a draft. In fact, the United States discontinued the draft in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam War. Up until that point, males between the ages of 18 to 25 living in the U.S. were required by law to register for selective service. Why did some receive a draft notice and not others? Very simply, if your number was picked, you went. Many of those who were drafted asked in disbelief, “Why me?”
Perhaps one of the biggest questions people ask themselves today is, “Why me? Why am I here on earth? What is my purpose?” As Christians we ask a similar question, “Lord, why me? Why would You want me to be with You in heaven? Why did God draft me in the first place? Why me?” Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “For He (God) chose us in Him (in Jesus) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ—in accordance to His pleasure and will.” This passage clearly reveals God chose us to be His believers. He chose us; we did not choose Him. He predestined us to be adopted. He specifically picked you out to be His child but this passage doesn’t tell us why. Whenever we have a follow up question about a teaching in Scripture, we know what to do. We let Scripture interpret Scripture. When we do this, we let God tell us His will; we aren’t guessing or speculating. Unfortunately, some non-Biblical explanations are being tossed around about why and how people are saved and receive heavenly glory.
A few years ago, televangelist Joel Osteen had his wife, Victoria, step up to the podium. She said something that muddied and distorted the reason why God drafted you and picked you. She said, “God smiles on you because He sees the potential you possess to be someone great.” Is that true? Did God choose you because He saw that you would be great? Did God choose you because He knew you would be a generous believer? Or because you are super smart, a good parent or successful in business? Is that why God chose you because of what you have to offer Him? No! Sorry, but no! That’s not why God loves you.
Let’s look at the words Paul wrote in the verses just prior to our sermon text. He quoted a passage from Malachi 1:2-3 in which God said, “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.” God chose Jacob to continue the line of the Messiah. Esau He hated. Why would God hate anyone? Actually, that’s the easy question to answer. Esau rejected God as Lord and King. Esau purposefully lived his life disregarding God’s will and God’s law. God’s anger burns against those who reject Him. It’s as simple as answering the question, “Why did that serial rapist get life in prison?” Answer: Because of the wrongs he did. “Why did Esau receive punishment from God?” Answer: Because of the wrongs he did.
The complex truth we are wrestling with today is why did God love Jacob. Jacob committed wrongs. Jacob also sinned. So why did Jacob receive love and not punishment? The name Jacob in the Hebrew language means heel-grabber. Jacob lived up to his name. He was a deceitful, conniving little schemer. He tricked his brother to basically steal something from him and Jacob outright lied to his dying father to get more inheritance. Imagine if your sibling, on your father’s deathbed, slithered into your dad’s hospice unit and tricked your dad into signing all of his inheritance to your conniving sibling. That’s basically what Jacob did! How low! How unloving! How damningly sinful! The passage should really read, “Jacob I hated. Esau I hated too.”
So why did the LORD choose Jacob? To answer this question, I’d like to ask you: Why did God choose you? You sin. You do wrong. Why not show you punishment like you deserve? Why show you mercy instead? You were born into this world a sinner (Psalm 51:1). You received your sinful condition from your sinful parents. A cow gives birth to a cow (calf). A cat gives birth to a cat (kitten). A sinful human being gives birth to a sinful human being. The sinful nature you and I were born with produces sinful acts: deceitfulness, lies, conniving, scheming, plotting and planning to get your way and take advantage of someone else. Just like Jacob. Just like me. Just like you. It’s easy to see why God should hate us for the wrongs, the sins we’ve committed. Truth be told, we done some low, unloving and damningly sinful deeds just like Jacob. We do not deserve to be chosen by God to get heaven, not at all! So why did God choose us who do not deserve His mercy? Let’s go back to our sermon text and the inspired Word of God recorded by Paul, “It (i.e. God’s choice) does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort.” (vs. 16) Since we have nothing to offer to God besides sinful actions and half-hearted “faithfulness”, we cannot and will not get to heaven by our effort. It does not depend on our desire or effort because even our most righteous acts are like filthy rags to God. (Isaiah 64:6) God knew this! God knows this! God knows that WE CAN’T EARN HEAVEN.
Read all of Romans 9:16, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” You and I can do nothing to coerce God into liking us or into convincing Him to give us His mercy. It’s God’s choice to give the kingdom of heaven to poor, undeserving human beings like us. What child ever decided to be conceived and born? It doesn’t work that way, neither in the biological world nor the spiritual world. Being born into God’s family does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
Okay, so we know God has predestined people who will be with Him in heaven. The Bible makes that clear. And those believers are saved not because of their own efforts, but only because of God’s mercy (Ephesians 2:8-9). But what about those people who are not drafted by God for heaven? Are they standing around on earth hoping to be in God’s family but are locked out? Are they looking in on us believers wanting to be a part of God’s family? No! If they had that desire, they would be one with us. God would fan that spark of faith into flame! The reason people are not a part of God’s family on earth is because they rejected God. They run away from Christ’s mercy rejecting His forgiveness.
The Bible is crystal clear on the fact that wide is the path and broad the gate to hell and many will enter it, but narrow is the path that leads to heaven and few will enter it. Does this mean that our Heavenly Father chooses some to be damned and some to be saved? Not at all. The LORD, the God of faithfulness and love, wants all people to be saved (1Tim 2:3,4; Ez 33:11). So why do some go to the place of everlasting torment and destruction? The apostle Paul provides the answer to our question in verse 17-18, when he uses the example of Pharaoh.
The LORD gave Pharaoh many chances to repent of his hard-heartedness, at least ten to be exact. Pharaoh lost them all. Exodus 8:15,32 tells us that after God took away a plague, Pharaoh would harden his heart. Later in Exodus 9:12, 10:1,20,27, Moses writes that the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It might sound like God chose to send Pharaoh to hell. That’s correct. Because Pharaoh rejected the LORD as Savior so many times, God had no choice but to say, “You don’t want to follow my will, but your will. Fine, have it your way, you’re not going to change, so I’ll just confirm your situation.” It is the same principle that follows Jesus’ words from Mark 16:16, “Whoever does not believe will be condemned.” It is God’s will that all people be saved. But it is also God’s will that those who reject Him receive their due punishment.
Some people may think this is just plain wrong! They cry foul, “A loving God would never do that! That’s not fair!” Well, let’s see. I need a volunteer. Jack, are you a loving person? Of course you are! Would you ever punch me in the face? I was hoping you’d say “no”! Jack, what would happen if I slapped you? You’d be pretty upset. Maybe I could somehow convince you it was an accident. But what if I slapped you again and again and again—every time I’d see you I’d slap you—I’m guessing eventually you’d knock me out cold. But hey, you said you were a loving person! Loving people have a breaking point, a line that can’t be crossed. When the line is crossed, the loving response goes away and out comes the reactive anger.
God is loving. God is merciful. But God has a line that cannot be crossed. If anyone rejects Jesus as their Savior, they receive hell. “Whoever does not believe will be condemned.” That’s God’s line—plain and simple. Since it’s His heaven, God gets to make up the rules. We have to follow them. Reject Jesus and you reject the forgiveness won by Jesus and you go to hell. Believe in Jesus and through God’s mercy and you receive pardon for your sins and you go to heaven. It’s that simple. It is simply that simple.
Someone can still say, “But hey, that’s not fair! Everyone should be let into heaven!” Be careful what you want. If you want God to be 100% fair, then we don’t get a second chance at heaven through Christ. If you want God to be 100% fair, then we all burn forever in the torment of hell. That’s fair! That’s what we deserve! Sin separates us from God. (Isaiah 59:2)
But that’s not what God gives to those who believe. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God is just. He gave our sins over to Jesus on the cross. Someone had to pay for them...so Christ did. Christ paid the price in full for your sinfulness. The debt is gone. The Apostle Paul then asks, “What shall we conclude then? Is God unjust? Not at all!” (Romans 9:14) God didn’t fix the books. The price was paid for you.
Why did God choose you? This hymn explains it more beautifully than I ever could: “Your works not mine O Christ, speak gladness to this heart. They tell me all is done; they bid my fear depart. Your blood, not mine, O Christ, can heal my sinful soul, Your wounds, not mine, contain, the balm that makes me whole. Your righteousness, O Christ, alone can cover me; no other righteousness, can set a sinner free.” (Christian Worship 401:1,2,5)
God chose you because of His mercy. He picked you to receive His kingdom because of Christ. It was not your decision to be a Christian. It was not your will or desire to be loved by God. It was not because God saw great things in you. It was because of His great mercy. Ephesians 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Because of His compassion, God sent His Son Jesus to suffer for you so you never have to know what eternal separation from God is like. God saved you because He loves you and wants you.
God didn’t arbitrarily throw a dart to pick you out. Certainly not! God didn’t pull a number out of a hat to choose you. Absolutely not! God chose you before the creation of the world to be His child. He wanted you! He picked you! How comforting and reassuring is the love the Father has for you! That’s pretty special. That’s pretty amazing. That is true love! That’s what we are thanking God for when we pray “Your Kingdom Come”. We thank God for choosing us and saving us making us part of His eternal kingdom in heaven. Amen.