Romans 9: The Doctrine of Election
As we come to Romans 9, we come to a controversial chapter and a point of contention inside and outside of the church...bold statements of truth and humbling to the core, Romans 9 truly reminds us that God will have mercy on whoever He decides to have mercy on. And whether He has chosen to save or to withhold salvation, He is justified and is still worthy of praise and adoration for His mercy and loving kindness.
Instead of arguing these hard truths between brethren, it is best to let Scripture speak for itself. And in the words Paul has written down for us, by divine inspiration, let us behold the infinite wisdom of God and the doctrine of election.
A Heart for the Lost (vs. 1-5)
Paul laments over the eternal state of his countrymen who have yet to taste and see that the Lord is good (Romans 9:1-2, Psalm 34). Drunk on their own self-righteousness, the men Paul wishes himself to be accursed for are those of Israel who are trusting in their physical lineage to make them right before God. John the Baptist shattered this foolish notion when he proclaimed that God could just as easily form and raise up stones to fashion them into children of Abraham if He chose to (Matthew 3:9).
Reading this, we see the heart that Paul has for those who have rejected Christ as the Savior and Messiah. We should ask ourselves how seriously we take the state of those who are not found in Him and have spurred God’s gift of grace. Paul wished for himself to be damned on behalf of his kinsmen so that they could come to know the Lord (Romans 9:3-5).
Can we see a small glimpse of what Christ has done for us in Paul’s eagerness? Christ became sin on our behalf so that we could indeed be free (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our hearts should rejoice in our newfound freedom, but also in the ache for God to show mercy to those we know who remain His enemy. We should be in constant prayer for them that they will become vessels of mercy to the praise of His glorious grace.
Abraham’s True Children (vs. 6-17)
We know that God’s Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). It will accomplish exactly what He intends it to do. God’s word did not fail because all of Israel did not believe, nor does it fail now with the rejection of it by men in our present age.
Whether a person believes or not does not bring affirmation to God’s word. If He spoke it, it will stand as eternal truth and needs no validation from finite men. Just like not all who were of Abraham’s bloodline were the children of promise that God made a covenant for; those who identify themselves with a Christian tag are not always truly in Christ. We cannot inherit salvation by a bloodline, nor can we earn it by our own merits. It is from God and God alone, to who He wills to (Romans 9:8).
Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteous (Genesis 15:6). So, it is the same for all who trust in Christ and are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). As we have received Him, He has given us the right to become children of God in Christ (John 1:12).
To receive something, it has to be given first. God gives this right to whomever He pleases. Our spiritual birthright is not out of obligation nor is it owed to us. It is solely on God’s decision to save you. And that decision should move you to worship because not all will receive it.
Election: Vessels of God’s Own Choosing (vs. 18-33)
Whether God chooses to soften a heart by His grace or remove His grace to harden it, He is justified.
Sisters, this is a hard truth. It is okay to admit this. It is a shock to society’s idea of inclusiveness. Some would argue that it is not fair to include some and exclude others. They would say that everyone deserves a fair shot at mercy. But is mercy really mercy when it is required to be given?
As David Guzik put when speaking on this subject, “We are in a dangerous place when we regard God’s mercy towards us as our right. If God is obliged to show mercy, then it is not mercy–it is obligation. No one is ever unfair for not giving mercy.”
Paul also stood ready to answer this objection, reminding his readers that God is God, and we are not (Romans 9:20). If God were to give us what we truly deserve, the Bible clearly shows that the only thing we have earned is death (Romans 6:23).
Our perspective is wrong and misled when we presume that God owes us anything. We are challenging God in His right to demonstrate His glory in the way that He sees fit. What right do we as the clay have to tell He who is the Potter how we are to be shaped (Romans 9:21)? Who has given counsel to the Lord (Isaiah 40:13-14)? He is the judge of all the Earth, and He will always do what is right (Romans 9:19-24).
People who were not God’s people are now His children in Christ. Whether it be Jew, Greek, Gentile or all of the above, if one is in Christ, he is a vessel of mercy made to glorify Him forever.
The fact that we are now vessels of mercy and not vessels of wrath like some, should leave us humble and awe-stricken by His mercy. And instead of questioning, “Why doesn’t God save everyone?” We should ask, “How can it be, that He would save even one wretch like me?”
About the Author
Born and raised in Texas, Emerald Griffin enjoys coffee, books, and spending time with loved ones. Her favorite breed of dog is a Corgi, and she loves listening to smooth jazz while learning a new word a day from the dictionary. Her heroes in the faith are Elisabeth Elliot, R.C. Sproul Sr., and John MacArthur.