Saturday, January 25, 2014

"God's sovereign choice ..."

Day #29:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - January 26th

Scripture Reading:  Romans 9 - 10 ...

I'll tell you from the start that most people do not understand Romans 9-10.  It's not because it's not clear, but because it does not "fit" with what people want to believe - about God, about salvation, about mankind.  Yet it is here in Romans 9 and 10 that God explains His plan to save those who believe more clearly than anywhere else in the entire Bible.  Read these chapters carefully and put them in the context of the previous eight chapters.

All of mankind, every single person, has sinned against God and deserves His judgment.  God is loving and compassionate, but He is also just, holy and righteous.  He is storing up His wrath, even as we see evidence of His judgment today (1:18-2:5).  Through the suffering of Jesus on the cross and in the Gospel God offers a perfect righteousness by faith, not by works (3:21-24).  "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ" (6:23).  And because those without the Spirit are spiritually dead and unable to please God (8:8), God has determined to choose a remnant to be saved.  This is what many people have a hard time accepting ... that God would choose some, and not others.

As you read Chapter 9, the Apostle Paul uses Isaac, and then his sons, Jacob and Esau, as illustrations of the principle of God's sovereign choice.  God chose to number Abraham's descendants through Isaac, and then He chose Jacob instead of Esau - even before they were born!  "It does not depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy" (9:16).  So here's a question:  Does God have the "right" to show mercy to whom He wants to show mercy and to have compassion on those whom He chooses?  Be careful how you answer!

Remember when Isaiah wrote in Chapter 55 that God's ways are higher than our ways!!  Well, undoubtedly, he was referring to God's sovereign choice and the power of His Word to bring life from death.  The truth that God reveals is that He is currently "putting up with" most of the human race in order "to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory" (9:23) ... those whom He has called and is calling through the Gospel.

"Only the remnant will be saved" (9:27) ... the remnant of Israel and those whom God will call from the Gentiles.  Everyone who comes to God comes the same way:  by faith (9:31; 10:8-10, 17).  "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (10:13), and God knows who these are because He is the One who chose them! (Ephesians 1:4).

When I preached on these chapters recently I asked a question:  "Will you let God be God?"  If you believe in Jesus Christ and have eternal life through faith in Him it is because God chose you to be His.  Give Him praise.  If you have not yet believed in Jesus, God may be calling you at this moment to stop trying to earn His favor and to trust in Jesus Christ.  "It does not depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy" (9:16).  Today is the day of salvation and if you will call on the name of Jesus you will be saved!

May God use His glorious truth to bring comfort and assurance to those who are in Christ, as we praise and glorify our great God and Savior.  And may He use this truth to call others to Himself, knowing that it is by grace, through the power of His Word that God calls His children to Himself.

"Heavenly Father, Your Word brings light into the darkness and life in the midst of all the death and destruction around us.  You alone are God and we who have received Your mercy give thanks to You for Your sovereign choice.  We confess that there was nothing in us that caused You to choose us ... so all that we can say is, 'Hallelujah!'  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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