While reading through various encouraging passages in the Bible on this Lord’s Day, I came across Romans 9 as I sought encouragement from the excellent book of Romans. It really strengthened my view of election which boggles the mind of man so many times. A question of God’s right to condemn some and save others had been awoken this morning by a college friend and with this passage the answer is clarified.
Paul begins this chapter with an incredible wish for the salvation of all Israel. He wishes that he himself was accursed so that his brothers and sisters, the true children of Abraham, would have salvation that comes from Christ. What a plea! Often I cherish my salvation so much that I could not wish for that. Paul says that to them belongs everything that is promised, the Law, the Prophets, and Christ who is descended from Abraham. Yet the Jews refuse to believe that the Messiah has already come. Oh that their eyes would be opened!
But Paul gives the reason why some do not believe. He says, “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9″ In a word, not all who are Israelites will be saved and the promise is not excluded from the Gentiles. For salvation is by faith and there is no distinction, ” between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him(Romans 10:12).” Paul also uses the example of Esau and Issac to explain the difficult issue of election. “10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’ ” Here God condemns one and love another, why? As finite men we might not know the answer but my nearest guess is for His Own Perfect Glory.
Now many will question us as “Calvinists” and ask, “Why would God do such a thing? Why would he who is infintely loving condemn men to Hell?” Paul answers those very questions for us himself. “14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” When God condemns some to damnation in Hell, he does so justly because they are not innocent, perfect men; they are subject to sin and are heinous in God’s eyes. God would be unjust if he did save sinners who didn’t believe in His Son.
Some may argue that salvation depends on man’s will but here Paul contradicts that and says it depends on God alone. More questions arise which many are quick to say in America. Apparently the issue was of God’s sovreignity, election, and justice were at large even in his day. Paul continues, “19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” 27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.”” One may say that we are not to be equivocated with clay pots for we are made in the image of God. Paul does it himself here and it is because, being created beings out of the dust, we are worth nothing; we are nothing. As Matthew Henry says in his Commentary we are to submit to God and not to reply to Him. We have no place to argue with God, who are we, something bigger than God to contend with him? Let those who contend with the sound doctrine in this chapter deal with the Bible’s view of man; their views of man are too lofty. Rather than having a view that man can save himself or has some good in and of himself, one should consider that he is made from dust, something that is easily blown away even when you walk over it; apart from the Grace of God we can do nothing. The doctrine is so clear and so relevant to our day and age. Some may say that God would not wish that any man perish but all should have everlasting life. In this passage that issue is addressed where Paul clearly states that “only a remnant of them (speaking of the children of Israel) will be saved(quoting from Isaiah).” The quibble over the words “wish” and “God’s will” is meaningless; Scripture upholds Scripture and it is inerrant.
When I first read over this passage, the doctrine of election seemed so clear to me and I wished to express it from the words of Paul himself. He who has an ear let him hear and praise the Lord who is infinitly just, holy, and loving. We who are Christians whould fall on our faces and thank him for giving us saving Grace, otherwise we are “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.” We should also seek to quicken the kingdom of God by carrying out Christ’s command to us that we share his glorious Gospel. We do not know who might be saved but we should share it as if heaven and hell depend on it for it does.