God’s Sovereign Mercy | Exodus 8-9, Romans 9:14-24

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Today we’re doing something a little different than normal, as we will actually be looking in-depth at something we have seen several times so far in this narrative, and something we will see several more times: and that is, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, so that he does not let the people go.

 

Exodus 8 & 9 (Six more plagues)

Before we get into what this means for the Exodus, and also what it means for us, I want us to go a bit further along in the narrative of Exodus. So far we’ve seen Moses life spared when his mother put him in a river and the daughter of Pharaoh finding him. We’ve seen him grow up in Pharaoh’s household as an Egyptian, even though he himself was a Hebrew. We’ve seen him flee Egypt after defending a fellow Hebrew and killing an Egyptian. And we’ve seen God call him out of Midian to go back to Egypt to be God’s mouthpiece to the Hebrews and to Pharaoh, especially, to let his people go. And last Sunday we saw God bring about the very first plague, turning the water of the Nile River into blood. He did that, yes, for the purpose of getting Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go, but, ultimately, even more-so, to show his power and might to the entire world. That is his main goal. Now, last week and this week go together in many ways. And so, if you happened to miss last Sunday, I want to encourage you to go online and listen or read last week’s message.

But, as we saw at the end of chapter 7, even this first plague Pharaoh didn’t take to heart. And when we get to chapter 8, verse 1 we’re already at the next plague. Now, because we’re not actually going to read all of chapters 8 and 9, but instead will be jumping around, I really want you to follow along with me. It will be very helpful for you in keeping up with where we are. So, let’s read verses 1-15 of Exodus chapter 8.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.”’” 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” 10 And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” 12 So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. 14 And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

Plague #2: How many of you like frogs? Lauryn is absolutely terrified of Frogs. So God sent frogs, Pharaoh pleaded with Moses, Moses got rid of them, but then, vs. 15: vs. 15: “When Pharaoh saw that there was a respite (meaning a break from the frogs), he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.” He hardened his heart, meaning he rebelled, and refused to let them go.

Plague #3: Then, in verses 16-19, God sends gnats, and we see that the magicians aren’t able to reproduce this! They even tell Pharaoh, in verse 19: “This is the finger of God.” Like, they know this is beyond human ability! But, verse 19: “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”

Plague #4: Then, in verses 21-32, God sends yet another plague, this time flies. Pharaoh calls to Moses and Aaron and says, “Go!” Sacrifice to your God, but within the land.” Pharaoh is trying to negotiate: “Hey, please, sacrifice to your God, but don’t leave to do it.” And Moses says, “No, no. That’s not what God said; plus, the Egyptians would stone us because they would see that as an abomination for us to sacrifice to our God on their land. We must go into the wilderness.” That’s when Pharaoh says, “Ok, but don’t go very far.” But, as soon as Moses calls on God to take away the flies, Pharaoh, yet again, verse 32— “hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.” This back and forth continues into chapter 9:

Plague #5: In verses 1-7, God sends a plague upon the livestock of Egypt, and all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the Israelites. But, verse 7: “the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.”

Plague #6: In verses 8-12, God sends these boils and sores that break out on the Egyptians, both man and beast. And the nature of Pharaoh’s response this time is a little different. Verse 12: “But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses.” The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh. We’ll come back to that in a bit.

Plague #7: Then, in verses 13-35, the last plague we’re looking at today comes. But before God brings this plague, God speaks to Pharaoh more specifically, starting in the middle of verse 13 through verse 18:

13 “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.”

And that’s exactly what happens. God brings the hail, which is so fierce that anything out in the field was killed, man or beast. Then, in verse 27, Pharaoh admits that he was wrong, pleads again with Moses to call upon God to stop the hail, and Moses did so. But, even after now seven plagues, let’s read starting in verse 34: “34 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.” Now, because of what we’re talking about today, I want you to catch this: Verse 34: Pharaoh hardened his heart. Verse 35: the heart of Pharaoh was hardened. Then the very next verse, chapter 10, verse 1, God tells Moses to go back to Pharaoh, “for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants.”

 

Hardening the Heart

What we’re going to look at today is, in my opinion, THE most difficult theological question in the entire Bible. It’s the most difficult for us to grasp and accept as true, and yet I believe it is also one of the most beautiful truths in all of God’s Word. So, what I want to do is show you the references that pertain to the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart. Then I want I to take you to a passage in Romans in which Paul brings this exact subject up, and from there we will see five grand truths of God’s Sovereign Mercy. So, let’s take a look at these references I have in your bulletin.

First, God himself declares that he will harden Pharaoh’s heart 3 times, including way before any of the plagues ever begin. This is back when Moses had just finally given in and decided to obey God in going back to Egypt at all! Chapter 4, verse 21, God tells Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.” That’s the first mention at all of Pharaoh’s hard heart, and it is God himself saying he’s going to harden it. He’s saying very clearly, that I will harden his heart, in such a way that he will not let the people go, even though that is exactly what God is commanding him to do! This is why this is unusual, or something worth talking about. God commanded Pharaoh to let his people go, and then at least these several times very clearly did not allow Pharaoh to obey him. He hardened his heart. Many people will try and get around that, but if we’re honest with the text, that’s what it’s saying.

So that’s Exodus 4:21, then we see God declare it again in Exodus 7:3 and even in 14:4, after all the plagues and after Pharaoh had actually let them go, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would chase the Israelites into the Red Sea and perish. 3 times God himself declares that he will, in the future, harden Pharaoh’s heart.

Then, we see five other occasions where God, active tense, does harden his heart, the first one of which we read today. But there they are: 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, and 14:8. Then, we see three times that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, all of which we read today: 8:15, 8:32, 9:34. And then lastly, there are seven other times when it says that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened; you can see those listed there. Not sure what the distinction is there, or if that is supposed to be different from the other two, but there it is. To me, this would fit within God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, because that’s what God said he’d do back in the beginning, but for some reason it’s put a little differently.

So what’s going on? Well, first, just for clarity, the heart in the Hebrew language is not too different from how we understand it in English: it’s all our emotion, will, and intellect, basically the part of who we are that makes decisions. Every time Pharaoh does not let the people go, he is rebelling against God, meaning his heart is hard and rebellious toward God, as opposed to being soft and obedient to God.

Now I can’t tell you how many different people I read this week, including even some good commentators who work their way around what it actually says here. Let me just admit, there are many people much smarter than me who interpret this differently than I do. And just so you know, this is an open-handed at Raintree, what we’re about to talk about. This is a theological distinctive, if you look at our website or in the Raintree 101 booklet, meaning it’s something I, in particular, hold to. It’s not part of our basic statement of beliefs; you don’t have to agree with this to be covenant with us as a church. But, I just can’t help but think that the text is not unclear. It seems that many, instead of coming to the Word, trying as much as possible to take God’s Word for what it says, trying not to manipulate it at all, instead many twist the narrative that God has given us. A few examples:

  • God hardened Pharaoh, as in initiated the circumstances that made Pharaoh harden his own heart. In that sense, it may properly be said that he did the hardening. When it says “he hardened Pharaoh’s heart” it really just means that God put him in hardening circumstances. The problem? That’s not what it says. “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart,” not “God put him in a position where his circumstances were going to help him decide to rebel.” It’s very clear that this is God actively hardening.
  • God didn’t harden his heart directly. Instead, by simply giving his demands Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. We all are hardened when God gives demands, because we don’t want to be told what to do. So, in that sense, God hardened his heart by giving him commands that would cause him to harden his own heart. The problem? Again. That’s not what it says. God hardened his heart, It’s an active verb. The heart is the direct object. God is not hardening circumstances, God is not merely giving hardening demands, God was doing the hardening. It says it six times, not including the three times that God declared he would do it before he did it! He hardened Pharaoh’s heart in such a way that resulted in Pharaoh not letting the people go. As clear as daylight, in at least these six times where it very clearly states that, plus the 3 declarations.

Now the questions that this brings up, some of them are going to be answered today, some of them are not. God hardens hearts; does he do that all the time? Is it really fair that he does that at all? What does that mean for us? Does he harden our hearts? We know from James chapter 1 that he does not tempt anyone, so how does that work with hardening hearts? In effect, causing people to rebel, like Pharaoh?

 

Five Grand Truths of God’s Sovereign Mercy

Now with all this in our minds and as we’re thinking about this, I think it would be very good to turn and hear from the Apostle Paul. He deals with this directly in Romans chapter 9, probably the most controversial chapter in the Bible among Bible-believing Christians. What Paul is doing in Romans chapter 9 is making clear that God’s promises to Israel in particular are not contingent upon anything except God’s sovereign grace and mercy. Paul had likely been accused of no longer caring about the Jewish people because he was spending all his time with the Gentiles, and so he starts Romans chapter 9 with making clear that he absolutely cares about the Jews. He says in verse 2 that he wished he could be accursed if only his fellow Jews would be saved! Obviously, he can’t do that, but he’s saying if he could he would! So he’s really lifting up the Jews as God’s people of the Old Covenant.

Then he moves on a little bit to distinguishing between true Israelites, those who believed and were children of the promise, and Israelites that did not believe and were not children of the promise. It was never a physical heritage that made the Israelites the people of God. No, it was their spiritual heritage, ultimately whether or not God had chosen them to believe on Him! That’s what we see up through the first 13 verses of Romans 9. Then we get to Paul asking the question maybe we’ve all already asked this morning in thinking through Pharaoh and his hard heart. I’m going to read verses 14-24, then we’ll step back and see five grand truths of God’s Sovereign Mercy. Starting in verse 14:

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 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 depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

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?

Talk about a perspective change. It’s funny how quickly our perception can change when we get pulled out of a man-centered way of thinking, and put into a God-centered way of thinking. Five grand truths of God’s Sovereign Mercy:

 

  1. God is sovereign over all events in human history.

He declared from the beginning of Exodus, multiple times in fact, what he was going to do, and his purposes in doing those things. He declared he would harden Pharaoh’s heart all the way back in 4:21. Ultimately, Ephesians 1:11, he “brings all things into the counsel of his will.” There is nothing that comes to pass that is outside of God’s active hand. Each plague that we’ve read begins with “The Lord said to Moses” and often ends with “as the Lord had said.” It’s unbelievable how apparent this is in the Word of God. The word of the Lord governed everything, all of it.

I brought up last week in Acts chapter 4, even in THE central act of deliverance in the Bible, even far over the Exodus, how it wasn’t that God just used the actions of men and worked around them. No, God actively brought them about! Acts 4:27-28- “For truly in this city were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” It wasn’t this passive, “Well, God used what he had to work with, using their messed up actions.” No! He actively brought it about, in such a way that he did not sin himself, because God does not sin. He cannot sin.

And yet, even with so many clear examples throughout the Word of God’s hand being actively sovereign over all things, I still find people saying things like this (and I know why, I’ve said these things before, because it makes it easier in our minds, the problem is it’s not biblical). This is a quote from a commentator that I highly respect, truly. Not every commentator is going to agree, and commentaries are not the Word of God, right? They’re not inspired. And I don’t quote commentaries almost ever, but I think this reflects the way that most of us think that might actually be incomplete. And as you hear this, you’re going to want to agree with this without qualification: So, with that really confusing introduction, here’s what he says:

The point of the passage is that “God can work over, under, around, or through people—depending upon their personal choices. Either way, God achieves His will while simultaneously allowing each individual to make his or her own decisions and clinch his or her own fate. In that sense, and only in that sense, He is a potter with putty in His hands. Each individual decides their own conduct, and God then uses them accordingly.”

Again, not the worst comment in the world, but do you see what it does? He’s saying that ONLY in the sense that God reacts to OUR choices and uses them is God the potter. I can’t help but see that as a bit of an attack on God’s character and his sovereignty. That he is absolutely limited to our choices. Oh, he can make great things out of it after the fact. But he cannot infringe upon my personal freedom to do what I want to do. I just don’t see that in the Bible. In fact, if anything, I see it trending the other way. We’re going to get to this in a bit, but yes, we are morally responsible as human beings, we make real decisions with real effects, but that does not mean that God is dependent, or contingent upon on choices.

I’m not denying free will, at all. I’ve talked about that. I AM denying absolute free will. I mean, I can’t fly to the moon right now, no matter how much I wanted to. And I’m not going to say that God does not effect or even infringe upon our choices, our will. Now, we’re going to talk a bit more about that in just a moment, and I promise that the tension you may feel will be eased at least some in a few minutes. But that’s the first grand truth: His sovereign hand ultimately governs all events, including salvation, and this brings us to our next grand truth:

 

  1. We are saved not by our will, but by God’s mercy.

There are many who think that Romans chapter 9 is not referring to salvation. And when I say many, I mean many. Why do they think that? I don’t want to sound condescending, because there are many much smarter people than me who think this means something other than what it clearly seems to mean. They use what I’ve heard called hermeneutical gymnastics, just doing backflips and trying really hard to get around what it clearly says. If you’re here today, and you disagree with what I’m going to say, that’s ok. This is an open-handed issue, meaning just because you disagree with me doesn’t mean you need to leave the church, or anything like that. This is a discussion among brothers and sisters. But, I’m going to give you what it says. And I say that strongly because I think it’s that clear. I don’t think there’s any language confusion, or confusion with what Paul is getting at. I think he’s laying out a very straightforward argument.

So, with that in mind: There is no doubt in my mind that Romans 9 is referring to salvation. Not just the salvation of Israel, or salvation in a corporate sense, but the salvation of individuals. In verse 8, Paul is talking about the children of God vs. the children of the flesh. In verse 11, he speaks of election not because of works but because of him who calls—very clear salvation language. In verses 21-23, he speaks of vessels of wrath vs. vessels of mercy. Then, lastly, in verse 24, Paul speaks of God calling to himself from among not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles. Romans 9 does NOT just refer to Israel’s salvation alone, it refers quite clearly to ours as well. That God is sovereign over our salvation. In Jesus’ words, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them. (John 6:44). Using Paul’s words from Ephesians, he “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless. He predestined us to adoption as sons (Ephesians 1:4-5).

God is sovereign over salvation, and yes, he even hardens the hearts of those who reject him. Verse 18 that we read: “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” Now, I know that brings up lots of questions in our minds, which is why this brings us very naturally to the 3rd grand truth:

 

  1. God is righteous and just in all of his actions.

Obviously, the question that comes up when we clearly establish from the Word this truth we’ve already mentioned, is “How can this possibly be just?” Paul answers this for us. Look first at verses 14-16: “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Did you catch that? This whole God’s sovereignty in salvation, his choosing, it preserves grace. It depends not on our will or effort or trying as hard as we can, but simply on God’s sovereign mercy. He’s saying that there is no injustice for God to have mercy on whom he pleases to have mercy, because God is just and righteous in all his actions.

In fact, if you think about it, if our main concern here is fairness. “How can this be fair, that God decides who will be saved, that he chooses before the foundation of the world who will be his children, how can that be fair?” If that’s our thought here, we have forgotten what we deserve! We’ve forgotten our depravity! If God were merely a fair being, merely just in all his actions, then we’d all be condemned! We’ve all rebelled against him in extraordinary fashion. When we stop comparing ourselves to the people around us, and instead look to God’s standard of righteousness, when we truly understand our place before a holy and just God, we won’t respond with, “How is this even fair?” We’ll respond instead with, “Thank you, Lord, for your incomprehensible mercy! That you chose ANY of us! Thank you for not only being a just God; thank you, God, for your mercy!”

Instead, we come to the word with entitlement, like spoiled children. We come to the Word with the highest offense in our hearts and minds being that God would ever infringe on the slightest bit of my freedom: “Don’t you dare, Pastor, say my freedom is not absolute. Don’t you dare, Bible, even hint that God has that kind of authority. Don’t you dare, God. You can put as many qualifiers you want upon God’s sovereignty, and caveats, but don’t you dare put any qualifiers upon my free will. It’s absolute.”

We’re so man-centered. Are we not? That’s why we must be in the Word, we must let this determine truth for us, not pop-culture, not individualism, not these Christian sub-cultures we create around semi-biblical ideas and principles. We must go to the Word with a clean slate, as much as humanly possible. And by God’s grace, we will see truth. We will be amazed at His truth, and amazed at God’s mercy and LOVE and how it fits within his sovereignty. We will see how great our God is, and the authority which is rightfully his. And it’s not just right that this authority belongs to him, it is best! It is good! We need to be thankful that God is NOT limited or bound to our will or our authority.

Now, as I mentioned last week, this is an apparent paradox, that God is truly sovereign over all events in history, and yet that man is responsible for his sin, which is the fourth grand truth of God’s Sovereign Mercy;

 

  1. Man is responsible for his own actions.

Somehow, these two truths work together. We do, as human beings, make real decisions that have real effects. In that sense, we do seem to have free will, according to the Bible. I am responsible for my actions. Pharaoh was responsible for his actions. And, it’s very important here to make sure and keep this in mind, when we’re thinking through all this and trying to figure it out: Never does God take a morally neutral person and harden their heart. Why? Because there’s no such thing as a morally neutral person!

That’s something that is worth making a note of with all of this, especially the mystery of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Even with Pharaoh specifically, God did not make Pharaoh do something that did not gratify the evil desires of his heart. He didn’t make him do something that, in a sense, he didn’t want to do, deep down. Even if he wouldn’t have done it, he wanted to. Even though it seems obvious that Pharaoh, a few of those times that God hardened his heart, would have let them go if God hadn’t hardened his heart, it still satisfied and fit Pharaoh’s sinful desires to rebel against God and be his own King. In other words, in God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, it’s not as if he was putting something that was not already there. Maybe the way of thinking of it is that God, in hardening Pharaoh’s heart, was aggravating the sin that was already there. I think that is a fitting and biblical way of looking at it.

So that might at least ease some of the tension here. And I’m not just throwing it in there to make it easier; I think there is warrant for that in this text. Of course, there is still a bit of a mystery, as to how these two great truths work out, fully. Paul acknowledged this mystery, and even brings up the question he knows his readers are asking in verse 19: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” Paul answers by bringing up the more important question, verse 20: “Rather, 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?’ 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?”

That is a difficult thing to accept from Paul. It flies right in the face of our all-consuming desire to be completely autonomous in bringing about our own destiny totally on our own, which is why it is so offensive to us, ultimately. And there’s a mystery there. Paul doesn’t give all the potential ways that this could work out, God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. He doesn’t fully explain about how they go together, and instead he points us to the authority of God. I think we should study, learn, discuss all of this, trying to figure it out according to the Word of God, not according to our speculation where we dogmatically claim something one way or another when God’s Word may not claim it one way or another. We should study, but we also must remember, there are things in this life that we will not fully understand. In Isaiah 55:9, God makes clear to us, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Which brings us to our last grand truth of God’s Sovereign Mercy:

 

  1. God’s ultimate goal in mercy and in hardening is his own glory.

This goes right along with last week. If you missed last week, we talked all about God’s ultimate goal in all things, which is his glory. But we see this specifically brought up again in Romans 9. First, in verse 17, Paul quotes Exodus 9 and says, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’” The reason God brought Pharaoh to this point in history, and hardened his heart, ultimately, was to reveal his name and power to the world.

He makes this point even clearer in verses 22-24: “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, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” Even vessels of wrath, the reason he doesn’t just bring his wrath down and destroy is to reveal his glory, to use them for his great purposes. AND we see the incredible riches of his mercy in front of the backdrop of his wrath. It even says that’s part of the reason for vessels of destruction, is to emphasize and reveal the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy.

With all of this, I want to conclude a very heavy message, but hopefully a message that will encourage you to study on your own, and trust God in your salvation, but I want to conclude with this thought: There is nothing greater to be thankful for than the truth that God overcame your will in saving you. Yes, it is absolutely true that whosoever believes in Jesus is saved. That is true! And if you’re here today, and you have not repented and believed in Jesus alone for salvation, I’ve got good news: he died on the cross bearing the sin of the world and rose again defeating death. He has dealt with sin. If you repent and believe, you WILL be saved. But for those of us who are saved, we recognize, or hopefully recognize, that ultimately God is the one who gave us our belief. He is the one who regenerated our hearts that we may repent. He is the one who overcame our sinful desires and ambitions, and softened our hearts toward Him. He gets all the credit that we did nothing to deserve. That’s why it’s called grace.