Romans Chapter 9
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Good morning and welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX. Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines and Iíve been working thru Paulís letter to the Romans church. Iíve spent this week in chapter 9, a chapter in which Paul shows the utter necessity of Godís extended mercy for Jews and Gentiles alike. Along the way, he covers election, double-predestination, and reprobation, points which give Romans 9 a reputation for being a difficult chapter. Some take the stance of Huck Finn:
Next Sunday, we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching ó all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they tall talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith, and good works, and free grace, and preforeordestination, and I don't know what else, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet (Ch. 18).
In which theology is "ornery" and "tiresome", but me, I like talking and thinking about the things of God. One things for sure, you never run out of material. Iíve spent a week in Romans 9 and have barely scratched the surface. But, the key point of Romans 9 isnít really the so-called controversial topics- and I get the feeling that they werenít all that controversial to Paul!- but rather the key point is the absolute necessity of Godís mercy for salvation. Letís review Romans 9, starting at the top.
First, hereís Paulís concern for his fellow Israelites and donít miss the point he makes about who Christ is:
Romans 9:1-5 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, (2) that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. (3) For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, (4) who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; (5) of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Now Paul goes on to show that not all those who are of Israel are true Israelites. He shows that only one of Abrahamís two children was called by God. Sharp readers will notice that the two sons had different mothers, but then shows that even in the case of Isaac and Rebeccaís twins, God made a distinction. In this passage, Paul brings up the concept of election according to Godís will. Here is the passage:
Romans 9:6-13 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, (7) nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED." (8) That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. (9) For this is the word of promise: "AT THIS TIME I WILL COME AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON." (10) And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (11) (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), (12) it was said to her, "THE OLDER SHALL SERVE THE YOUNGER." (13) As it is written, "JACOB I HAVE LOVED, BUT ESAU I HAVE HATED."
Critics object that this isnít fair. Using a quote from Exodus in which God speaks to Moses, Paul addresses those objections:
Romans 9:14-16 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! (15) For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE COMPASSION." (16) So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.
And now Paul touches on what we call "double-predestination" which is the doctrine that God calls some to faith but leaves others in their sins and even actively hardens them. Hereís the passage:
Romans 9:17-18 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I HAVE RAISED YOU UP, THAT I MAY SHOW MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MAY BE DECLARED IN ALL THE EARTH." (18) Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
Again, critics will speak and again Paul anticipates their objections by putting man in his place:
Romans 9:19-21 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" (20) But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" (21) Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
Paul then explains the purpose for people like Pharoah, and turns from his supporting evidence that salvation is strictly an act of Godís mercy, to aim directly at his main point, which is that, through faith in Jesus Christ, Gentiles also have access to this mercy:
Romans 9:22-24 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, (23) and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, (24) even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
He calls upon several Old Testament passages to show that God has already prophesized both the falling away of Israel and the gathering of the Gentiles.
Romans 9:25-29 As He says also in Hosea: "I WILL CALL THEM MY PEOPLE, WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, AND HER BELOVED, WHO WAS NOT BELOVED." (26) "AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, 'YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,' THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD." (27) Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL BE AS THE SAND OF THE SEA, THE REMNANT WILL BE SAVED. (28) FOR HE WILL FINISH THE WORK AND CUT IT SHORT IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, BECAUSE THE LORD WILL MAKE A SHORT WORK UPON THE EARTH." (29) And as Isaiah said before: "UNLESS THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT US A SEED, WE WOULD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, AND WE WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE LIKE GOMORRAH."
And if there remains any question that salvation is of faith as opposed to works, the following passage should be an answer:
Romans 9:30-33 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; (31) but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. (32) Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. (33) As it is written: "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STUMBLING STONE AND ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME."
There is a quick and very shallow synopsis of Romans 9. While some sections may certainly be controversial and even disturbing, I think that if we read the whole thing in context, we should be able to see the big picture. And as Iíve been saying all week, many times when we find sections we donít like, it only shows the difference between Godís ways and our ways. When we come to the Bible seeking answers, those answers arenít always what we want to hear. But there they are.
Itís interesting to see reactions to Romans 9. I remember once when I was teaching thru Romans on Weds night. We got to Romans 9 and we had a guest. He was a real big guy, 100% cowboy, pants tucked into his boots, big handlebar moustache. Frankly, I was kind of nervous about diving into Romans 9 without knowing where he was at, but, oh well, itís part of the Bible and there it is, so into it we went. When we got done, he sat there with a look on his face and I thought "Oh, noÖ. Iím gonna get it now!" Finally, he spoke up and said "Do you mean to tell me that my salvation is 100% due to God and that I had nothing to do with it?" I said "well, we just read that God elected Jacob and not Esau, and the verse plainly says "for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls". Tears started rolling down this manís face and he said "Thank GOD!!! Because if it were up to me, Iíd mess it up, just like Iíve messed everything else up! What a comfort it is to know that itís all in Godís hands. AMEN!!!" Now there was a guy that got it. In Romans 9, it all clicked for him. From there, we backed up a chapter and looked at these verses:
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:32-33 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
And boy, those are powerful verses. As we close our study of Romans, I urge you to consider what weíve looked at. Keep in mind Peterís plea from Acts:
Acts 2:38-40 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39) For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (40) And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."
And Paul, in talking to the philosophers in Athens:
Acts 17:30-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (31) because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. Thanks for joining us on the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio.
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