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(Romans 9:24-33) The Solid Rock

(Romans 9:24-33) The Solid Rock

by Stephen Davey Ref: Romans 9:24–33

The Solid Rock. Have you ever taken a swim in the ocean and, as waves came in, you were lifted up so that you couldn't touch bottom?  At that moment you felt rather small, didn't you?  Well, that's the feeling you get when you swim in the deep ocean of election.  In fact, just the mention of the word keeps many Christians away from the water's edge, and Romans 9 is avoided at all costs.  In this series, join Stephen in a deep-sea dive that explores the mysterious depths of God's electing grace.


The Solid Rock

Romans 9:24-33

Let me say a couple of things . . . before we begin our study together: 

First I want to put in a plug for our concert series which begins this Saturday: Tim Zimmerman and King’s brass will be playing at times with our own orchestra; along with Philip Webb – a concert stand alone himself who sings with incredible passion –  I heard him for the first time recently at Grace Community church where John MacArthur pastors and before we left, Pastor Loftis signed him up to come.  

Philip will be joined by our own choir and orchestra – this is going to be an evening of incredible, God exalting music . . .  today is the last day to purchase tickets – which subsidize our entire summer series of special guests.  Stop by the table in the lobby this morning and get your ticket – don’t miss this very first summer concert.

Secondly , I  want you to be in prayer for the Ministry Council; this is a Council composed of pastors who also serve on the Board of elders.  We are currently involved in designing our 4th building – which is turning into a very large building.  This addition to our campus will include a 500 seat chapel which, among other things, our student ministries will use each Sunday morning. 

In addition, a 2 story library is part of the design where you can read the latest Christian magazine or check out a video for your child or study for a seminary class or, eventually, browse among more than 10,000 volumes of good resources and reading – these volumes have been donated to Shepherds Seminary and are currently in the process of being cleaned and eventually catalogued. 


That’s not all.  We’re also designing a large atrium where you will be able to purchase a snack from the café and can sit by the water fountain enjoying fellowship and conversation. 

We’re also designing much needed children’s classroom space – which will allow the nursery to stretch a little – but probably not enough.  Pastor Scott informed me that in the last 12 months we’ve had 65 babies born to the Colonial family in the last 12 months.  In addition to that, we have had at least 10 infants  adopted in the last year.  

I’ve heard that in a few months you’ll be invited to an open house in the nursery wing to see all the new decorations and equipment.  I’ve heard they’ll give you a free church membership if you sign on – you can skip the GreenHouse class.

Anyway, later this summer, we’ll show you some artist renderings and eventually give you all the details so that we, as a body, can decide to take one more step in this great adventure of faith.



Now take your Bibles and turn to Romans; the personal letter of the Apostle Paul written to believers living in Rome, Italy.

Chapter 9 unfolds the doctrine of election – a doctrine that has and will for all of church history spark debate. 

One individual told me that their former pastor preached on the subject of election and the church split down the middle – half the people left the church and the other half stayed.

Unfortunately, the debate generates a lot of heat, but very little light.

We’re not here to debate anything.  And we’re certainly not here to listen to our own opinions . . . we are here to listen to the Word of God.

And what has the Word of God taught us about this subject thus far?

  • That election is clearly taught in scripture.  In fact, the entirety of Romans chapter 9 declares it.
  • Election begins with the sovereign choice of God.  God chooses those who then can and must choose Him.

Jesus said in John 6:44.  No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him.    Earlier in verse 37 Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

  • We have also learned that election exalts the perfect and entire sovereignty of God who alone has the right to determine and decree whatever He wants.

Paul made this clear in verse 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.”  16.  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.   (skip to verse18).  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

  • This doctrine elevates God and minimizes man.

Paul writes in verse 20b.  who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?  21.  Does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

We want God to be sovereign in a lot of things, but the idea of total sovereign power and purpose in the matter of salvation is, for many, just a little too sovereign. 

Now we can do one of three things with this doctrine:

By the way, for those of you who are visiting us, you need to know  this is our 6th study on election in Romans 9 – and the conclusion of our study in Romans 9, so if you feel a little dizzy, we understand. 

You can respond to this doctrine one of three ways:

1)  You can reject the doctrine of election.

You can adopt a view that God really doesn’t choose the believer, He only sees ahead of time who chooses Him.  Which makes God the responder and man the sovereign.  

2)  Secondly, you can over-emphasize the doctrine of election.

In other words, one extreme says man is responsible for coming to faith and God does nothing but respond; or the other extreme that God does everything and man never has to respond.

This was the hyper-Calvinism of William Carey’s day which said to this man who wanted to go to India to reach the un-reached; the young man who would become the Father of Modern Missions; these men said to him, “sit down young man; if God wants the heathen to be saved, they will be saved.”

In other words, don’t do anything since God does everything.

Paul will clear that up in Romans chapter 10.  Romans chapter 9 deals with God’s election of man; chapter 10 deals with the decision and responsibility of man.  Paul says, “how can they call upon Him whom they’ve not believed; and how can they believe in one they’ve never heard of . . . and how can hear without a preacher?”

The over-emphasis of this doctrine says we do nothing.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, just read the scriptures.  From God’s perspective, He has already predestined belief; but from our perspective, we must believe. 

Even though God loved us first, we must love Him too.

That’s why our gospel involves a decision.  Like the Apostle Paul who was approached by the Philippian Jailor who asked him that night, “What must I do to be saved.”  Paul did not say, “Well, are you one of the chosen?  Do you understand the decrees of sovereign God who predestined the saint before the foundation of the world . . . do you believe you are one of God’s elect?”   No! Paul responded, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)

The only One who knows ahead of time who the elect are is God.

The very fact that somebody has a burdened heart and a desire to confess their sin and turn from idols to the living God, as they did in Thessalonica – requires God to have already moved toward them in His grace to take off the blinders and bring them to spiritual life. 

From our perspective it’s at that moment when, in your personal testimony you realize, like that jailor, “Hey, I don’t need a religion . . . that’s not cutting it . . . I don’t need to turn over a new leaf . . . I continue to fail . . . I need forgiveness . . . I need a Savior” and you ask the same kind of question, “What must I do to be saved?” 

And the answer is not, “check to see if you have a predestination certificate; check to see if you have an election coupon.”

You know, if I want a chicken sandwich for lunch, which I often do, I usually think to myself, “I wonder if there’s a Chic Fillet coupon around?”  If I find one, I’ll go; if not, I’ll still go, but I’ll have to borrow some money from one of my kids – we’ve arrived at that point in life where they’re the only ones that have any.” 

There are no coupons necessary for a salvation deal because it’s free.  But for those genuine believers who receive salvation which cost them nothing, they become people who want to give Him everything!

Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

The third option is to accept the doctrine as plainly taught in scripture.

The Bible reveals both the sovereign electing grace of God and the responsibility of mankind to believe in Christ alone.

In fact, that’s exactly how Paul wraps up his discussion on election in Romans chapter 9.

Let’s begin with verse 24.  even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.  25.  As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,And her who was not beloved,beloved.’ ”  26. “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them,you are not My people,’  There they shall be called sons ofthe living God.”  27.  Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved;  28.  for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.”  29.  And just as Isaiah foretold,  “Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, We would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.”  30.  What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith;   31.  but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.  32.  Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone,  33.  just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.

What Paul does here is quote Old testament passage after passage to reveal God’s sovereignty in choosing from among both Jew and Gentile.

In fact, his words are incredibly encouraging to the Gentiles who might wonder if they could ever be considered people of God. 

Paul’s words are also convicting as he specifically answers the Jewish notion that they are already included in whatever God decides to do because they are Jewish.

What Paul is revealing can be organized into three concise statements. 

Let me give you the first one:

  1. God’s inheritance is initiated according to His own will.

This first two prophecies Paul summarizes in verses 25 and 26 come through the prophet Hosea.

It comes out of the context of Hosea’s marriage to Gomer a prostitute who will be unfaithful to him, time and time again.

Her moral unfaithfulness to Hosea will provide an analogy to Israel’s spiritual unfaithfulness to God.

And God tells Hosea to give names to the children that Gomer bears which indicate God’s attitude toward the nation of Israel.

The first child was to be named Jezreel – which means scattered.  The Hebrew word has to do with the motion of the hand used in scattering something to the winds, like seed is sown.  The second child was named Lo-Ruhamah which means no love/no pity.

True to that prophecy, to this day, the Jewish people are scattered around the world, like seed thrown to the wind.  And over the centuries, including this one, they receive from the world, little or no pity. 

You say, but they’ve re-gathered again haven’t they?  They’ve  formed the State of Israel which was incorporated in 1948.  My friends there are more Jews today living in New York than in Israel; there are more Jews in Russia than in Israel.

The prophesied re-gathering of Israel as a nation is yet to come.  It’ll happen during the tribulation period after the Bride of Christ from every nation, Jew and Gentile are caught up meet her bridegroom in the air and then whisked away to the Father’s house. 

Then, according to Hosea’s further prophecy, God will once again woo Israel as a nation to His side.  And the Jews will flock toward Israel, the prophet says, every boat with a sail will set off for the land of Israel.

In the meantime, look what God is doing . . . look who God is giving His inheritance to in verse 25 – I will call those who were not my people, my people (that’s the Gentiles of the world).  And in the last part of verse 26b.  There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

The Apostle Peter picks up on this prophecy and applies it directly to the church when he says,   But you are a chosen race, aroyal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. ( I Peter 2:9, 10)

The Jews who thought they were automatically in, are out.  And the Gentiles who thought they were automatically out, are in.

Sons of the living God – those who inherit eternal life are not chosen by race . . . they are chosen by grace. 

God’s inheritance is initiated according to His own will.

Now the second statement I’ll make to summarize what Paul says next is this:

  1. God’s punishment is performed according to His own timing.

Paul quotes from Isaiah in verse 27-28, basically reminding the Jewish reader especially that even under the Old Covenant, the nation was not chosen as a whole to be saved, but a remnant.

He writes, even though the number of the sons of Israel were as the sand of the sea, it is a remnant – small portion that will be saved.

Then he reminds us all of the patience of God.  Instead of immediately wiping the sinner from the face of the earth, He patiently allows the sinner to offend His character.  To ridicule His name.  To mock His word.

But judgment will eventually come.  And all mankind would be lost if it were not for the goodness and grace of God to save anyone.

And Paul pulls from history that one event that no one would have ever forgotten – Sodom and Gomorrah.

No one would ever forget the fire that fell from heaven and obliterated these two cities so that not a trace of their existence, their culture, their city – nothing – would remain.

I believe it is the patience of God on our own nation that is in the midst of legitimizing sodomy.  Approving and condoning what Paul wrote in Romans chapter one would be one of the signs of moral collapse and impending judgment. 

Several reporters have called Colonial over these past weeks to get an interview regarding the homosexual agenda and gay marriage.  As a practice I turn them down, simply because you never know how your words will be reported or, perhaps distorted.  One reporter reached my secretary a few weeks ago to ask for an interview and said she was a member of our church.  Sure enough, she was.  I felt she would represent my words well enough, so I agreed.  Mary contacted her to arrange a time to meet.  She reminded Mary that she was not a newspaper reporter but a television reporter and said the cameraman would arrive

It aired this past Friday night at two different times on WUNC TV – a station well known for it’s conservative stance.   Just so you know, the clip began with a beautiful picture of our buildings . . . and I want to say that this reporter did a wonderful job editing our session – choosing just the right statements to reflect our Biblical position.  The opposing side was represented by the pastor from a liberal Baptist church where several gay unions have already been blessed.   

I couldn’t help but think of Romans 1.  In fact, the cameraman at one point asked me to pull out a book and read so he could get some impromptu shots – I just happened to pull out a commentary on Romans. . . it seemed fitting to the discussion – you could clearly see the Book cover on television.  I thought the Apostle Paul deserved some media coverage.

Paul uses a clear, unmistakable, black and white issue that God condemned and revealed the judgment of God according to the timing of God to prove the sovereignty of God.

He wiped out a city but saved one family.

By the way, in the amazing timing of God, grace is also given.

How patient God was with Adam and Eve.  How patient with the generation of Noah, which was given more than 100 years to repent.

The dying thief is a classic example of God’s electing patience.  A murderer and a thief who deserved hell if anybody deserved it!  Yet the grace of God allowed him to be hung on his cross next to the Son of God.  And the patience and goodness of God finally reached their climax as the blinders fell away and this man – the worst of men, at the last moment possible, saw the Lord for who He was – not a condemned misguided Messiah, but King of Kings, who truly was the King of the Jews.  And he said to Jesus,  “Remember Me, when you come into your kingdom.”

And Jesus responded, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

He could not join a church . . . get baptized . . . do one good deed . . . give away one copper coin . . . but he was redeemed.

One more statement:  Not only is God’s inheritance initiated by God; and God’s punishment on sin performed according to God’s timing; but third:


  1. God’s deliverance is defined according to His own will. 

Paul writes in verse 31 that the Jewish nation wanted heaven by virtue of their works . . . God’s plan was salvation by faith in the crucified Savior.

How they stumbled over a slain Messiah.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. (I Corinthians 1:22)

Salvation is not defined by the wisdom of man, but by the wisdom of sovereign God.

The nation was expecting a lion; God sent them a Lamb instead.  They wanted a throne in Jerusalem; God put a cross on Golgotha.

How foolish is that?  How offensive is that – that the Messiah would be crucified by Romans.

But to those of us who are called to faith in Christ – we say, how marvelous is that!  God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of Jesus Christ. 

We who believe do not stumbled over this Rock, we have taken our stand on this Rock.  We build our lives on this Rock, who is Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you remember that encounter between our Lord and Peter.  The Lord asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I am?”  And they said, “Some say you are Elijah, others say you are Jeremiah . . . Peter said to him, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And the Lord responded by saying something that has been confusing to so many people, “I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:13-19)

Many believe that the rock upon which the church is built is Peter.  That’s the trouble with preaching a Latin or an English translation rather than the Greek words themselves.

The Lord was making wonderful pun out of Peter’s name.  Peter is from petros which means “little pebble or stone.”  But when the Lord said, “Upon this rock” – and he changed the word from petros to petra – which means bed-rock or large stone – upon this bed-rock, I will build my church.  In other words, the Lord said, “Oh Peter, little pebble, that truth which you declared about who I am is the bedrock of the church – that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God; it will be upon me, the eternal rock – the bed-rock of sovereignty deity, that I will build my church, and hell will never overcome it.”  The church is not built upon a mere pebble!  It is built upon the bed-rock of Jesus Christ.

“I will build my church” – ekklesia – called out ones!  Ladies and Gentlemen, the church is an assembly of chosen ones – elect ones by the grace and mercy of God – the gates of hell will never overcome the elect. 

You say, “But am I one of the elect . . . it seems I am often overcome?”

My friend are you stumbling over the cross of Christ?  Is His death and resurrection; His deity and sovereignty foolishness to you?  Are you stumbling because over Him or are you standing upon Him?

If you stand upon this Rock, Paul gives you a promise in the last phrase of this great chapter, “he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”    Will not be disappointed – or ashamed.  This verb is in the future tense – a reference to that day when we stand before Him.  We will not be disappointed in our Redeemer . . . we will not be ashamed in the presence of our Advocate! 

Why?  We have run to the Rock . . . we have run to the Rock.  And we will then on that day, without the distraction of sin and the imperfections of mind and spirit sing the praises of Him who called us out of darkness, into His marvelous light.  We, who were once not a people of God, but now are a people of God; we who had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy. (I Peter 2:9-10)





And we sing even now!   

My hope is built on nothing less,

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

(Final)  All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,

O may I then in Him be found,

Dressed in His righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before the throne.


Closing Prayer



Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above ye heavenly host,

Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost, Amen.



Now, beloved, go . . . and while the world stumbles over Him, you, stand upon Him; stand in Him; stand for Him . . . for the praise and glory of His name . . . and all the people said, Amen.

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