God’s Mercy is the key to these 3 chapters
There is nothing we can do to earn mercy. In the trade language of PNG – Pigin English, I
find their one word “Marimari” does not distinguish the difference between grace (giving to us what we do not deserve – eternal life and forgiveness), from mercy (withholding from us that which we do deserve – death, and punishment). You can see that there is a great difference. We deserve death as sinners, but he withholds it from us by his mercy, and we certainly don’t deserve forgiveness or salvation but we are given eternal life and Son-ship by God through faith by his grace. Many people over the years have put a lot of stock in the obedience of God’s laws to earn their way to heaven. But it was never the law that could do that. It has always been God’s provision of grace and mercy through the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle and Temple issued by the priesthood. Since Christ has fulfilled these “Types” of the Old Testament by his perfect life and sacrifice, the Jews had some serious questions as to whether they as a people were still important to God and whether God’s promises to their forefathers were still legitimate. Paul explains and assures them over the next three chapters what God’s intentions were, are now and will be for them as a people and nation in the future.
A couple of commentaries say that these three chapters are speaking of His election on a national level; Jews / Gentiles as people groups, and does not speak of us individually, on a personal level. Regardless, the election of God to include the Gentiles into his body is solely by his mercy and grace but not some arbitrary choice. It was totally God’s choice to set aside “cut off” the nation of Israel during this church age until “the full number of Gentiles” is included in the church these last 2000 years; just as it was God’s choice initially to set them apart from all the nations of earth to be his holy people, for some 2000 years from the time of Abraham until Christ. But in both cases, any setting aside, hardening, punishment or election was because of his foreknowledge of their faith or lack thereof which has always predestined God’s choices in election. These three chapters can be shown to bring this to light.
God’s Sovereign Choice
Rom 9:1-18 Use this link for the NIV or use your favorite version. Highlight verses 3, 8, 11,-13, 15, 18
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who Are You Lord?
I AM the Sovereign God who chooses who will be my people just as I chose Abel, Noah, Shem, Abraham, and Isaac. For 2000 years I have chosen to use the Jewish nation through Jacob/Israel, to be my representatives to reveal my glory to the world. I chose Moses to reveal my glory to and to give them my Laws to reflect and emulate my character to the world. I spoke to their fathers and made covenants with them to use them and bless them so that they could pass on those blessings to all men, but they didn’t. They failed. Not surprising though, I knew that they would fail me, thus my covenants were mine alone to keep. Now I have chosen to use both Jew and Gentile through my church for these last 2000 years to take my word of salvation around the globe. Thus, I AM the God who forgives and justifies both Jew and Gentile by their same faith in my mercy, grace and salvation.
I AM the God who offers life to any who would will to receive it by faith and by my death I draw all men unto me, but know that only a small percentage of you will chose to receive my pardon. From Abraham only half were from the promised child Isaac through Sarah. And only half again were to be my chosen people through Jacob (Israel). From them, only a remnant would receive me by faith. But now that I have sent my Christ to “buy back” humanity from sin and death, anyone may receive my forgiveness and become my children by faith. Even though I know that only a small number of Gentiles will take me up on my offer of eternal life,(just as only a remnant of Jews would believe), there will still be people from every tribe, nation and tongue around my throne one day.
God is equally just as he is merciful – sovereign and loving; the Antimony of God
Rom chapters 1-3 tells us that everyone has the same revelation through the word, the Holy Spirit, our consciences and the creation itself to know that God exists and what he is like. We will all be held accountable to those revelations so that we do not have any excuses before God that we did not know–that we are all sinners before God regardless of religion or race. Specifically in Rom ch 1:18-32 we see that even though they knew God, they did not acknowledge his lordship over them. Three times in that passage Paul shows us how God turns over to their evil intents (hardens) those who refuse to acknowledge and receive God’s revelation and mercy because of their love of their own evil desires. But, God gave the Gospel to those same sinners so that all men may experience him personally and receive his righteousness by faith. Rom 4 through 6 explain further the ramifications of our death because of Adam, and life through faith which Abraham had. Just as all are dead in sin, so too, all can be justified, free from sins penalty and saved in Christ – the second Adam. Not universalism, but a GENUINE, equal opportunity invitation for all of us – his enemies.
The illustrations Paul gives us in these 3 chapters can show us that his mercy is given to anyone who would receive it by faith and it is withheld from those who would not. The context of the quotations which Paul refers to over these three chapters must be understood as his Jewish readers would, in order to determine his intent by using them. The stories that Paul gives and that any Jew reading his references would know intimately show us the reasons Paul use these quotes. However as westerners, not knowing the background of the references referred to in Rom 9-11, we tend to take Paul’s quotes “Out of their original context”. In each case, those references show God’s mercy being shunned by the examples given and thus are hardened by God to seal their doomed condition. Even as in Pharaoh’s case, he hardened only after multiple repenting, and even asking for prayer before hardening his own heart again and again. It is not until the 6th plague – Boils and onward that the Lord stepped in and hardened it for good just as God told Moses that he would do in Ex 7:3 prior to Aaron and Moses ever visiting Pharaoh. A good free E-book describing what I am saying regarding this chapter in particular is “Predestined for free will” by Dr. A. G. Walp. (http://www.amazon.com/Predestined-Free-Will-Dr-Walp-ebook/dp/B00Q5KBQL6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451000258&sr=1-1&keywords=Predestined+for+free+will )
How can a God of love send anyone to hell?
You might use the excuse for your rebellion; “How can a God of love predestine a person to hell?” Let’s clarify the question; what you really want to know is; “How could a God of love send YOU to hell?” When you agree with God that EVERY human is a sinner and fallen short of the glory of God as his Word says, it changes the question to: “How can a Just, Righteous, Sovereign and Holy God allow anyone into heaven?” There are two problems with this question. 1. Is that we think that we are basically good, whereas God in the Bible says just the opposite. 2. Is that we think God’s love oversteps his justice, and that it is one or the other. But as I mentioned above, since he is a God of Justice and wrath over our sin, AND because he is also a God of love and mercy, he remedied the problem when he paid for mankind’s sin himself. Thus he allows those who believe in his death on their behalf to enter heaven. In the Old Testament, He provided the sacrificial system in the temple so that every Jew (and Gentile who wanted) could have a chance to come to him for forgiveness and grace bringing the proper offering. Thus:
You don’t have to go to hell if you don’t want to
In God’s love and mercy, God satisfied his justice and wrath at all humanity’s
sin when he paid for it himself on the cross. Now in grace he genuinely offers salvation to whoever would accept by faith his payment on their behalf, and damming anyone who choose not to receive by faith the work done on the cross by his Son on their behalf. This is a true offer of salvation by grace, received by faith (not earned) as prompted by the Holy Spirit through that same “prevenient grace” (Def: It is divine grace that precedes human decision. It exists prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done). Consequently, you don’t have to go to hell unless you want to.
The Question remains. Will you come to Him with the appropriate sin offering that God provided you with (Jesus the perfect Lamb of God)? It is just as the Jews had to go to the temple with an appropriate sin offering. Or will you cling to your self-righteous wisdom like Cain with his inadequate offering of self righteousness (being indignant that it was not acceptable)? Don’t just stand there accusing God of injustice at his choice of who to save from their predicament of hell. He really is the God of mercy who doesn’t want to send anyone to hell and he says in 2 Pet 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”, and Ezekiel 18:23 “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? Declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” But He will save as many as would allow him (who hear the Spirit’s calling, acknowledge their need and call upon him in repentance Rom 10:9-13).
More to come,