Sermon for May 30, 2021

Choose Your Destination

Romans 8:28-39

Romans 8:28–39 (NIV): 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

         “For your sake we face death all day long;

         we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now, I am going to pause here and point directly to a word that is an elephant in the room when it comes to Christian theology.  Predestination.  προορίζω – predetermine: – determine before, ordain, predestinate.  Maybe we need to clean up our theology a little bit.  Since the Bible interprets itself, lets go to the Old Testament.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV): 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The context of Jeremiah will help us understand what the prophet was saying.  First off, Jeremiah had just opposed Hananiah’s (another prophet’s prophecy) that Jerusalem would be overtaken by the Babylonian’s and because of this they will be led off to exile (not everyone did leave, Babylon took mostly the priest’s, and anyone associated with the monarchy) and would spend some 70 years there before they would be able to return.  However, Jeremiah says basically, “Hey, while you are in Babylon, build houses, marry, have a family, and live you lives.  So, when Jeremiah pens these words, the people are presently living in a time of hardship and suffering; people who were likely desiring an immediate rescue like the one Hananiah lied about. But God’s response is not to provide immediate escape from the difficult situation. Rather, God promises that He has a plan to prosper them amid their current situations.  It was disobedience to God’s ways that led to their current situation.  And do you know what, that has been the case for

thousands of years.  God has the perfect plans and then mankind has their own.  Insomuch, we are therefore predestined because of the choices that have already been made.

It was the sin of Adam and Eve that chose a different path than God’s ways.  Whether the serpent as the figure of an adversary to God like the devil was the culprit or mankind’s own God given ability of freewill was the issue, two paths, two ways, were always the choices given.  Mankind will debate if freewill, since it is flawed because of choice, is a perfect gift of God and my answer would be “yes”.  A loving God who created beings with the rights to choose for themselves if they would obey and love God rather than creating us without this ability is forced love.  It is unquestioned obedience. Joshua knew this well:

Joshua 24:14–15 (NIV): 14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Years go by and presently we think we are so advanced compared to those Ancient Near Eastern cultures BUT the choice remains the same.  I think as followers of Jesus, we take the choice for granted.  We think if we simply choose Jesus, that settles it.  IT DOES NOT!  Choosing Jesus as your Savior is great, but you must also choose his life.  It was HIS obedience that brings us salvation.  It is his life that is OUR example to live by.  Yes, our salvation is in Jesus and Jesus alone, but you MUST make a choice because the result of our decision is set, it is carved into stone, it is “PREDESTINED”.  Your choice is God’s way or our own.  That is the sin in the Garden, we chose our OWN way. 

Jeremiah 29:11–14 (NIV): 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Romans 9:19–24 (ESV): 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

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