Monday, August 03, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 2, 2020




Link to Worship Video for 8/2/20 – HERE

*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:

*Direct link to Vimeo:


Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 8/2/20 – HERE

*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:


Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 8/2/20 – HERE

*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:




V     V     V



In November of 2000 one of the closest presidential elections took place in our country.  On election night, news outlets across the nation filled their election maps with blue states and with red states.  Early on the state of Florida was declared blue, only later to be taken out of the blue column and become undecided.  Hours later it was declared red.  As the night went on it looked like it might flop again as the margin narrowed. Eventually a mandatory recount was declared.  The election was too close to call.


I’m not here to dive into the political struggle that resulted in the American public becoming familiar with counties in South Florida and the term “hanging chad” but what I do know is that an election is dirty business.


Looking back, we thought it was bad 20 years ago but in the years since that election, politics and pending elections have grown more contentious and more dirty.  The world is more polarized than ever and countless people claim to have the moral high ground.  


It is not my goal today to make political statements or to make enemies of friends.  I pray that at the end of this message we will find the true moral high ground found in Scripture all come to the understanding of the grace of God for all people no matter their political proclivity, ethnic background, socio-economic status or zip code address. 


Winston Churchill once said, “Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.”


This may be an apt description of Saint Paul. 


Saul the Pharisee as he was known in most Jewish circles was one for whom principles were paramount.  His party—the Pharisee party—stood for the destruction of the followers of the way and the extermination of the followers of Jesus.  Saul stood stone faced as the rocks were hurled at Stephen as he resolutely towed the party line.  On the road to Damascus, he was bent on the obliteration of the opposition party.  He had his own plan, his own way but there, on the road, everything changed—his party, his heart, his vision, his future, and his perspective.  Jesus himself met him on the road, flipped his life upside-down and set him on a path that would bring the message of salvation to countless people in the world and throughout history. 


Now, here in Romans chapter 9 he grieves for those in his former party.  From Romans 9 starting at verse 1, “As a Christian, I’m telling you the truth. I’m not lying. The Holy Spirit, along with my own thoughts, supports me in this. I have deep sorrow and endless heartache. I wish I could be condemned and cut off from Christ for the sake of others who, like me, are Jewish by birth. They are Israelites, God’s adopted children. They have the Lord’s glory, the pledges, Moses’ Teachings, the true worship, and the promises. The Messiah is descended from their ancestors according to his human nature. The Messiah is God over everything, forever blessed. Amen.”  (Romans 9:1-5)


Paul grieves for his fellow Israelites.  He even wishes that he could change places with them if it meant that they would know Jesus.   Paul goes on to describe the advantages that God gave them.  They had everything but somehow managed to mess it all up.   Many began to see themselves as entitled to God’s graces because of who they were and they soon lost sight of the true election of God. 


Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.” Jefferson was talking about election to political office but he could very well be describing what happened to God’s elect, his chosen people. 


Paul continues, Now it is not as though God’s word has failed. Clearly, not everyone descended from Israel is part of Israel or a descendant of Abraham. However, as Scripture says, “Through Isaac your descendants will carry on your name.” This means that children born by natural descent from Abraham are not necessarily God’s children. Instead, children born by the promise are considered Abraham’s descendants.For example, this is what the promise said, “I will come back at the right time, and Sarah will have a son.” (Romans 9:6-9)


It’s not that God had failed in his dealings with his Old Testament people.  It is a false assumption that God tried to get his people on track with a plan that did not find success in the temple or the sacrificial system.  But Paul sets up the theology of election going back to Abraham and Isaac.  When Abraham was 75 God promised to make him into a great nation.  Ten years later he still had no children.  In an ill-advised attempt to help God fulfill his promise, Sarah suggested he take her Egyptian servant as a substitute wife.  But this was not God’s plan. 


British writer, and political publicist Ernest Benn once wrote, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”

An apt description of the plan of Sarah and Abraham and perhaps the M.O. of most of us in this room as well.  We cannot force God’s election. 


Paul continues, 10 The same thing happened to Rebekah. Rebekah became pregnant by our ancestor Isaac. 11 Before the children had been born or had done anything good or bad, Rebekah was told that the older child would serve the younger one. This was said to Rebekah so that God’s plan would remain a matter of his choice, 12 a choice based on God’s call and not on anything people do. 13 The Scriptures say, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.” (Romans 9:10-13)


In looking at the case of Isaac and Ishmael, it would be very easy for someone to reason as follows: Of course God wouldn’t choose Ishmael.  He didn’t have the right mother.  He was born of an Egyptian slave girl.  Isaac had the advantage of being born of Sarah the patriarch’s real wife. To take away the possibility of seeing merit in the life and actions of an individual as the basis of God’s election, Paul now turns to the case of Jacob and Esau.  God’s dealing with them makes it plain that his election comes about “not on anything people do” but on God’s divine election.


Moving a bit beyond the appointed text for this morning going to Romans 9 verse 14 and following, 14 What can we say—that God is unfair? That’s unthinkable! 15 For example, God said to Moses, “I will be kind to anyone I want to. I will be merciful to anyone I want to.” 16 Therefore, God’s choice does not depend on a person’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:14-16)


In the dirty business of election it is inevitable to ask “Is God being unfair?”  Is it fair for God to condemn people in some far off land who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel or given the same advantages as we have? We need to remember that the Bible only ever speaks of an election to salvation.  It never speaks of double election, where some are designated from eternity for condemnation and others for salvation. The real conundrum here is, why should God be merciful to anyone?  After all, punishing an evildoer is simple justice. 


Keep in mind, in the first three chapters of Romans, Paul established without a doubt that by nature all are under God’s wrath and deserve his punishment.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That makes sense; that we can understand.  What we can’t comprehend is why God should still be merciful to such sinners.  But that is exactly who God is, and what he does.  To our minds who desire everything to be fair, grace does not make sense. 


·         It doesn’t make sense that the almighty God who created the universe took on flesh in the person of Jesus.

·         It doesn’t make sense that Jesus, who lived a perfect life was sentenced to die on the cross.

·         It doesn’t make sense that God would love me, a poor and miserable sinner so much to take the punishment I deserve. 


This is the dirty business of election.  Why would God desire a dirty, no good, rotten person like me to be with him in heaven?


The contemporary Christian Song “Who am I?” by Casting Crowns struggles with this same thing.  The opening lines of the song go like this:


Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?
Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done.
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are.


(Here is a link to the whole song:


It doesn’t make sense, but that is what happened.  God has loved you from eternity, desires to have a relationship with you.  He cares about you, desires to take away your hurts and call you by name.  You have been elected to be God’s child not because of what you have done, but because of who you are, a child of God.  God desires to clean up the mess of sin and he sent Jesus to die for you and in Christ you are forgiven!


It might not make sense, but your election as God’s child has its culmination at the cross.  Your election is not too close to call but it calls you close to a savior who died and rose for you and wants to be with you forever.


Luther once wrote, “If you want to dispute about eternal election, begin with the wounds of Christ, and it will cease.” 


In another place Luther wrote, “Our election is not based on worthiness and merit on our part.  If it rested on such a foundation, the devil could make it uncertain and overthrow it at any moment.  It rests in God’s hand and is based on His mercy, which is unwavering and eternal…When your sin and unworthiness assail you and the thought occurs to you that you are not elected by God…hold to the promise of the Gospel.  This will teach you that Christ, God’s son, came into the world in order to bless all the nations on earth, to redeem them from sin and death, to justify and to save them.  This he has done at God’s command and in accordance with the gracious will of God”


The dirty business of election finds an answer on the cross of Calvary where the dirty sins that defile you are taken away, where you are washed whiter than snow, and where you are called close to Jesus.


As we conclude allow me to give you a few things to ponder and deal with this week as we seek the sweetness found in the book of Romans.


First, take some time to ponder your past and reflect on your election in Christ and when you slip and think that somehow you have something to do with it, follow Dr. Luther’s advice and look to the wounds of Christ and witness your election done for you.


Second, knowing that your eternal election is secure solely by the work of Christ and that you have been called close to the Father as his beloved child, how might that effect your present reality and inform your future identity as you serve your neighbors with the love of Jesus?


A few things to ponder and to deal with.  Let’s close by looking at the amazing words of grace, mercy and contrition found in the words of David in Psalm 51.  Let’s use these words as our prayer today.


Create in me a clean heart oh God

And renew a right spirit within me

Cast me not away from your presence

And take not your Holy Spirit from me

Restore unto me the joy of your salvation

And renew a right sprit within me.  Amen! (Psalm 51:10-12)


- Pastor Seth Moorman




Worship Resources for Sunday, August 9th will be up

on Bethany’s website by midday Saturday, August 8th!



Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counter