24 March 2012Romans 9:1-18
"I am speaking the truth in Christ - I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit - I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart." (vv. 1-2)
As chapter 9 begins, Paul reveals his love and compassion for
the people of Israel. He is broken-hearted by those who chose to
remain under the law, bound in religion, and denying Jesus to be
God's heart's desire is for people to choose God. For Israel, the chosen nation of God, this rejection was doubly painful: "The Lord is ... not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
In verse 3, although Paul expresses his intense love by stating his willingness to relinquish his eternal life, if it would cause the Jewish nation to believe, it would be futile. The only one who can save, is Jesus Christ.
Paul goes on to explain (in verses 4-13) that God's word concerning the covenant with Abraham had not failed, even though the Jews had rejected Jesus. Paul states that no one can claim to be chosen by God because of heritage, birth or good works. Election is based upon God's foreknowledge of the person and their free will to choose God (John 1:12-13).
In the last few verses Paul poses the question: Is God unjust? Then he states vehemently, not at all! Paul is reassuring his readers that God is just, and offers mercy and compassion. No person can earn God's grace. It is a free gift offered to all through Christ Jesus. God's mercy is that although we deserve death, we may have eternal life through faith in God. Each person either accepts that great mercy, or rejects it (and God). Paul uses the example of Pharaoh to demonstrate God's mighty power and mercy. It is important to understand that Pharaoh had ample opportunities to freely repent, but he chose not to. Throughout Romans, Paul explains the ruin of the human race in sin and God's remedy, which is available in Jesus Christ.
Paul showed an exceptional depth of love for others. How concerned are you for those who do not know Christ? What are you willing to sacrifice to help others come to faith? Time? Money? Comfort?
John Wesley described the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ by stating, "I felt my heart strangely warmed, I felt that I did trust in Christ alone for my salvation, and assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death". How would you describe what Romans 9 means to you?