God is so Faithful

The live version can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year A 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time,

Psalm             Psalm: 17:1-7, 15                                             
First Reading:    Gen 32:22-31                   
Second Reading: Rom 9:1-5                        
Gospel:                Matt 14:13-21      
What I want to say:
Explore the importance of Romans 9 – 11 for our trust in God’s faithfulness

What I want to happen:
to ask “do we really trust God’s faithfulness? What stops us really trusting?

The Sermon

       1.     Introduction:

We are up to week four in our series looking at Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome.
Need to acknowledge that there are other ways of reading Paul from what I am offering.
But for me this makes most sense
makes most sense keep these three things in mind as we read this letter – or any of the letters.
a.     early church was a Jewish sect – small group within Judaism
mostly church members were Jews
mostly understood gospel within Jewish way seeing world and understanding history.
b.     Paul is a Jew. Even after his conversion he does not stop being a Jew
so getting into heaven was not the goal for him
fulfilment of the covenants with Israel through the messiah
            all about restoration of humanity to pre-fall state in Garden of Eden
                        before Adam invited death into creation and humanity became slaves to sin and death – and stopped worshipping the True God
            renewal of creation – which has groaned under the burden placed on it by Adam’s sin.
that is theological framework that Paul is working out of.
Romans makes a lot more sense when read with these glasses on.
c.      Paul is writing to people he does not know well
-         in a divided church
-         divided between Jewish Christians (this point are the norm for wider church)
o   and Gentile Christians – growing in number and influence
-         offering way understand what Jesus has done that allows them to live and work together despite their huge differences.

       2.     Structure of Romans

we can see how Paul is offering this understanding in how his letter is structured up to this point.
chapters 1-4 are all about the problem – story of Adam and how humanity came to be under sin
all humanity – Gentile and Jew
chapters 5-8 – hearing from for the last few weeks – God’s solution to this problem through the faithfulness of God to covenant
            how God has fulfilled covenant through faithfulness of Jesus
            and how through faithfulness God invites all humanity to be part of the people through whom God continues to work to restore humanity and renew creation.
finishes great statement we heard last week
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.[w] 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
    we are accounted 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, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

raises really important question
what about Israel –
Is God still faithful to the covenant with Israel
or have they been ditched because they failed in their side of the deal
and if God is willing to ditch Israel
will God ditch us if we faith to live up to our side?

       3.     Why the question

a really big and important question
for Paul – the Jew
we hear his anguish today as he begins his answer to this
for Pauls readers – some of whom are Jews
for Gentiles who may then ask question is God really trustworthy?
how fickle is this God?
Pauls answer is
which we will hear over the next few weeks is essentially
yes God is faithful
Covenant holds despite all
God does not abandon God’s people
God does not abandon us.

        4.     Why this is important for us?

important for hearers and readers today
because we too often doubt God
come to believe that God has abandoned creation
far too many Christians believe that God will abandon them if they are not good enough
we say – if we are faithful then God is faithful.
lives become filled with fear and doubt
look around and see world in turmoil and wonder where God is in all this
loose hope
doubt the covenant is fulfilled
our lives become divorced from our trust in God’s actions now
actions are little different from anyone else’s.
we do not mirror God’s compassion and generosity in Christ
Paul is being very clear
God does not and will not abandon us
            even when we do not get it and do not live it
God does not and will not abandon humanity or creation.
Despite all the evidence
The covenant is fulfilled
humanity is restored – but not completely yet
creation is renewed – but not completely yet

Do you believe this?
Do you trust this?
Do you live this?