Read thru New Testament Devotional – August 9, 2017

August 9

 

Romans 9

Romans 9-11 God’s Plan for Salvation

So far, Paul has systematically explained that a right relationship with God is not established by keeping of the Law, but by the faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  This is in stark contradiction to what the Jews had been teaching for centuries.  Now, in chapters 9-11, Paul is going to expand on his explanation of God’s Plan for Salvation.  He is also going to explain how Israel got into this predicament, what the situation currently is, and what the future holds.  With that in mind…the following outline of chapters 9-11 will help to understand some of the more difficult passages:

 

Israel’s Unique Relationship to God’s Plan for Salvation (chapter 9:1-29)

Paul’s Heartfelt Sorrow that Israel Rejected God’s Plan for Salvation (9:1-5)

God’s Rightful Sovereignty to Determine the Means for Salvation (9:9-18)

God’s Rightful Sovereignty over the Lives of the Saved and the Lost (9:19-29)

Israel’s Initial Rejection of God’s Plan for Salvation (9:30-10:21)

Israel’s Pursuit of the Law to Gain Salvation (9:30-33)

God’s Provision for Faith to Receive Salvation (10:1-21)

Israel’s Role in God’s Plan for Salvation (11:1-24)

God Knew Ahead of Time the Remnant of Israel that would be Saved (11:1-10)

God Planned Ahead of Time that Gentiles would be Saved (11:11-24)

God Determined Ahead of Time the Deadline to be Saved (11:25-36)

 

Israel’s Unique Relationship to God’s Plan for Salvation (chapter 9:1-29)

Paul’s Heartfelt Sorrow that Israel Rejected God’s Plan for Salvation (9:1-5)

Paul says that it breaks his heart that on the whole, his fellow-Israelites have not received Jesus as the Messiah.  And, that if it were possible...he would bear the penalty of their sins, himself.  They have so many blessings that direct them to Jesus…but somehow, they had missed them.  For instance, he says that Israel has been singled out by God to be His own people (“adoption as sons”, cf. Exodus 4:22).  They have experienced the presence of God among them as no other people (“glory”, cf. Exodus 16:10). God initiated a unique covenant with them (cf. Ephesians 2:12).  They were given the Law of Moses, the Temple to worship in, promises that God made specifically to their nation, the patriarchs (the founding fathers of the faith), and Christ Himself is of their lineage.  Paul is overcome with sorrow as he wonders how it is possible that the Jews have not come to faith in the Jesus when all of these things point to Him.

God’s Rightful Sovereignty to Determine the Means Salvation (9:9-18)

But Paul is quick to point out that it is not God’s fault that all of Israel has not accepted Jesus (:6).  God has done everything necessary for them to recognize Who Jesus is and to respond in faith.  And indeed, there are many who have.  This leads to Paul’s conclusion that while all of Israel (Jews) may be of the physical lineage of Israel, not all of Israel are of the spiritual lineage of Israel (:6).  While the two share in some common characteristics, they are not the same (:8).  There is a race of people who is known as Israel.  They share in a common physical ancestry…“children of the flesh” (:8)…that originates with the person Abraham.  Among this Israel…there is a second group (also referred to as Israel), those who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah.  They share in a common spiritual ancestry…that originates with the promise of God.  They are the “children of the promise” (:8)…and are the true “children of God” (:8).  Paul is making it clear that not everyone who is a child of Abraham by physical birth is a child of God by spiritual birth (:6-8).

Paul here explains how “children of the promise” and “children of the flesh” can share in common characteristics…and yet, be distinct.  He does so by using the physical birth lineage, ancestry, as an example.  First, he mentions Isaac.  While he does not mention Ishmael, the Jews would immediately recall that the promise that God gave to Abraham was that the descendants that He had determined to uniquely bless would be born through Isaac, not Ishmael.  Next, he mentions the promise that was given to Sarah.  Again, while he does not mention Hagar, the Jews would remember that God had promised His unique blessings upon the descendants of Abraham that were born through Sarah, and not Hagar.  He next mentions Rebekah.  This time Paul reminds us that God chose to uniquely bless the descendants of Abraham that were born through her son Jacob, not Esau.  Solely, because of God’s choice and no other factor, His blessings would fall upon only the one that He chose.  Paul is arguing for God’s right to sovereignly choose how He intends to work.

If we are not careful, we will fall into the same trap as the ones whom Paul supposes would ask the questions in verses 14 and 19.  Both of them suggest that God is not just, that He is at fault.  In verse 14, the accusation is that if God arbitrarily chooses to bless one person over another and does not take their merit into consideration…His action is not just, He is acting in a manner that is not fair.  In answer to this accusation (verse 14), Paul simply states that he is using this situation to demonstrate that as God…God does have the right to determine how salvation is accomplished.  It is “according to His choice…because of Him who calls”.  He determines how mercy and compassion will be expressed (:15), and not man (:16).  As someone has said, “God doesn’t do what is right.  What God does is right.”  Because He is God, He has the inherent right to make whatever decisions He desires to make.

God’s Rightful Sovereignty over the Lives of the Saved and the Lost (9:19-29)

In answer to the second question (verse 19), Paul again demonstrates that God is just in what He does.  Here, the accusation is that if God intentionally hardens the heart of a person so that he acts in an unacceptable manner and then turns right around and holds the man responsible for his actions…His judgment is unjust.  In other words, God should not cause someone to do something, and then find the person guilty for having done it.  After all, who can resist God’s will (:19)?  So then, how is it possible for God to harden a person’s heart and still be just in judging him?  There are two truths to keep in mind.  First, God’s foreknowledge (11:2) is unlimited.  He knows everything that is to be known…past, present, and future…concurrently, simultaneously, at the same time.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that He does not know.  So, in the case of God hardening the heart of someone…He is already aware of the decision that this person will make concerning salvation…to receive it, or to reject it.  And, as sovereign God…when He chooses to harden the heart of a person who will never receive salvation…He is totally just in His decision.  It will make no difference in the matter of his eternal destiny.  In God’s foreknowledge, that matter has already been settled.  The actions of the person that result from God’s hardening of their heart will not be the cause of God’s judgment.  Instead, the hardening of the heart is a partial enacting of God’s judgment.  And, it just goes to validate what God already knew about the person…that when given an opportunity, he would not repent.  The second thought to keep in mind is this.  Even the hardening of a man’s heart should serve to heighten his awareness of God and lead him to repentance.  In this passage, Paul uses Pharaoh (:17) as an example of what he is writing about.  When the Jews read this, they would be reminded that when God sent the plagues upon Egypt…each one of them made Pharaoh more and more aware of the existence, superiority, and glory of the God of the Jews.  Each time was an opportunity for Pharaoh to repent.  But he never did.  Instead, Pharaoh became more and more obstinate and defiant towards God.  His heart was hardened more and more.  God did not directly cause Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.  Instead, God caused there to be circumstances in which Pharaoh had to make a decision.  He could have repented.  But instead, he chose to harden his heart towards God.  God indirectly hardened Pharaoh’s heart through the situations that He caused.  But ultimately, Pharaoh personally hardened his own heart.  Someone has said, “The same sun that melts ice into water, is the same sun that hardens mud into clay.  It’s not the sun that is different…but the response to the sun.”

Then, Paul uses one more illustration of God’s sovereignty.  He says that in the same manner that a potter has the right to decide what kind of a pot to make from a lump of clay…even so God has the right to decide what He intends to do with a person.  He is sovereign.

There might still be someone who would object and say, “Well, you just never really know if a person will repent, or not.”  Paul seems to want to comfort the concern of this reader by saying that even in an instance in which God is actively executing judgment on a person…He does so with great patience.  And if at any time that person were to repent…God would forgive them.  This in itself brings glory to God because even though He knows that the person will never repent…He still extends mercy to him.  And if God is so patient with those whom He knows will never repent…how much more glorious must His mercy be towards those who do repent.

Paul then writes that these “vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” are not just from Israel, but this same truth applies to Gentiles, as well.

Israel’s Initial Rejection of God’s Plan for Salvation (9:30-10:21)

Romans 9:30-33

Finally, Paul says that the heart of the problem is this: not all of Israel will be saved.  Why?  Because they insist on “pursuing a law of righteousness”…that is, establishing their own righteousness and thus qualifying themselves for Heaven.  This can never be done.  No one can ever be so righteous that they qualify for Heaven.  But not only that…that is not God’s plan for salvation.  So, any attempt to do so is in itself sin and is not acceptable.  The Jews keep stumbling over this most basic of truths.  In the meantime, there are Gentiles who hear the message of salvation that comes by trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and they have received His righteousness.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to always remember that it is only by Your mercy, Your grace that I can even respond to You in faith.  Had You not extended the offer and the means for forgiveness, I could never have responded.  Help me to live every day in a manner that is an expression of thanks and praise to You...for what You have done.

This entry was posted in Read thru the Bible, Read thru the Bible Devotionals 2017 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a reply