Monday, November 7, 2016

"God's sovereign choice …"

Day #313

Scripture Reading:  Romans 9 - 10 ...

God is sovereign!  He rules over all things and all people from before the creation of the world to the end of this age and throughout all eternity.  He is the sovereign Ruler of the universe and nothing happens by chance, without Him either causing or guiding it according to His purposes.  That truth is a great comfort to those who know Him as our Father in heaven.  God’s sovereignty is revealed throughout the Bible, yet perhaps nowhere more clearly than in these chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  

The early Church was made up of Jews and Gentiles, but as more Gentiles and fewer Jews became followers of Christ, it appeared to some that God’s plan for Israel had been replaced by a new plan.  Many today believe that to be the case.  However, God’s purpose in moving Paul to write Romans 9-11 is to show that this is not the case.  In these chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans God reveals that the Bible is all ONE book and ONE plan, and that the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob continue to have a significant, even foundational role in God’s plan.  Most people do not understand Romans 9-10, not because it is 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, not through Ishmael, who was born through his servant, Hagar.  Isaac was called “the child of promise” (see Galatians 4:28-29).  God had promised a son to Abraham and Sarah in their old age and Isaac was that son through whom God would keep His promise to make of Abraham a great nation and through whom the Savior would come.

Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, had twin boys but God said the older would serve the younger, and He chose Jacob instead of Esau - even before they were born!  Paul writes, "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!  Does a sovereign God who rules over all things have the right to do as He determines, for His own purposes and for His own glory?

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 of Jesus Christ.  There are so many who believe God is trying to save every single person, but that He leaves it up to the dead spirits of mankind to choose for themselves.  That is not the picture God gives us in His Word.

In Chapter 9, verses 22-24, you will find the clearest summary of God’s plan for the world for those who are given His Spirit to understand.  Some have been “prepared for destruction” (9:22) and some have been “prepared in advance for glory” (9:23).  Who are these whom God has prepared in advance for glory?  “Even us, whom He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.”  God has not forgotten the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, His chosen people, as we will see in greater detail in Chapter 11, but "the remnant will be saved" (9:27) ... the remnant of Israel and those whom God will call from the Gentiles.

And how will these be saved?  We come back to that word, “righteousness.” Everyone who comes to God comes the same way:  by faith ... trusting in the promised Savior, the Christ, Jesus, believing that HIS righteousness is received by faith (9:31; 10:8-10, 17).  So Paul could write with confidence, "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). 

Consider this question:  "Will you let God be God?"  It sounds silly, because God doesn’t need your permission, but the question is, will you acknowledge God as the sovereign God who does as He will for His glory?  Or will you insist that you are wiser than 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 Christ, God may be calling you at this moment to stop trying to earn His favor and to trust in the Savior.  "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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