Wednesday, August 19, 2015


who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises….  (Rom.9:4)

A sovereign God has chosen a special people.  According to His will and purpose of grace He set apart the nation of Israel from all others.  This is the subject of Romans chapter nine.  In this section, Paul moves from a general discussion of salvation by faith in Christ to the implications for the Jews who rejected their Messiah.

The Apostle transitions from singing a doxology in chapter eight to a dirge in chapter nine (v.1-3).  Rejoicing in the wonder of God’s love, the mood swings to sorrow, as Paul reflects on how most of his kinsmen have spurned their Savior.  The missionary’s heart aches for their souls—so much so that if he could go to hell in their place, he would be willing!  Thankfully, none of us have to do that—Jesus already did!

Abraham’s seed were selected by God to be His people (v.4-6).  He did not choose them to the exclusion of other nations, but to make them His special light to shine into the darkness of paganism and summon people to God.  Israel had so much potential, so many privileges, yet rebelled against God.  God, in His grace, still sent His Son to them.  Sadly, most rejected Christ.  He makes the point that having Abraham’s DNA isn’t enough to save a person—he or she must have Abraham’s faith in order to claim the covenant promises.

Ishmael was a son to Abraham, but it would be Isaac who received the covenant blessing (v.7-9).  Jesus confronted those wicked religious leaders, who claimed Abraham as their biological father made them God’s children, by telling them the Devil was their father (John 8:39-47)!  Jews—and all who would be saved—must be born again (John 3) for God to be our Father. 

Some of what Paul says here is difficult for us to grasp (v.10-16).  If you can explain every facet of the doctrine of election, then you are likely as omniscient as God.  I admit I believe in election because Scripture teaches it, not that I can completely grasp it.  There are some truths though that are clear.  If anyone is saved it is because of grace and not their own merits.  Jacob didn’t deserve to be chosen.  God set his heart upon Jacob before he was born!  Both Esau and Jacob were twin transgressors.  The astonishing thing is not that Esau was rejected because of his sin, but that Jacob was chosen despite his!  Nobody gets to strut into heaven—all credit goes to God.  Nobody cast into hell can complain God is unjust—all blame goes to sinners.

Pharaoh had a heart that was hard toward God, and God hardened his heart in judgment (v.17-18).  A careful reading of the story in Exodus discloses both dimensions working—an earthly king who defied the rule of Heaven, and that Sovereign in glory bringing hardness on Pharaoh for his impenitent heart.  Scripture warns, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts,” (Heb.3:15).

Paul anticipates the arguments against the doctrine of election and answers (v.19-33).  God has absolute power as the Potter who molds the clay.  God has the right to do what He pleases with the human clay, and what He pleases to do with us is always right.  Despite our stubborn sin, God patiently reaches out.  A remnant of Jews has responded and the door of grace has opened to the Gentiles, accordingly.

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