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Focal Passage:  Romans 9:14-29

Romans 9:24 “…(vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—) even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

Paul is now returning to the point he made earlier in the chapter in verse 6 when he said that not all of Israel belong to Israel and not all of Abraham’s descendants are actually his children.  He is doing so once again to point to God’s supreme and overriding sovereignty as compared to anything in or about mankind.  He makes the point again in verse 24 but adds that God’s chosen include some but not all of the Jews, which was what they had thought, and many of the Gentiles, which was a surprise to a lot of his readers.  He will then go on in the next couple of verses giving Old Testament proof of his statement.  Paul’s point, however, continues to be summed up in the phrase, “even us whom he has called.”  God has called His children according to His purposes (9:11), and His call depends entirely on His choice and His election, not on heritage or nationality or works.  It is all of and for God.

Study/Meditation:  Read John 8:34-59.  How does this incident with Jesus and the Jews illustrate the very point Paul is making in Romans 9:24?

*Father, thank You for Your sovereign grace and will.  You are good and righteous and holy.  Help me today as I strive to be all that You have required of me.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 9:14-29

Romans 9:22 “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…?”

In the next few verses, Paul is going to explain the purpose of God’s sovereign election of His people.  He begins in verses 22-24 by saying that one of these purposes is His desire to show His glory and power through His mercy.  However, we must first pause at the beginning of these three verses to contemplate the magnificent extent of His patience and mercy toward the wicked.  You see, He had every right to reject them.  They had rejected the Messiah, His Son, and yet He did not immediately rain down His judgment on them.  Demonstrations of His patient mercy extend all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  They were not exterminated when they rebelled, but instead God offered them a covenant of grace.  He continues to do the same today, and for this reason we must pause in our consideration of His purposes in doing His own will.  When we truly examine who He really is and all that He is, we should tremble in awe but we must also fall to our knees in thanksgiving for His mercy.  This is the correct footing with which to contemplate all else in regards to our Lord.

Study/Meditation:  What other examples can you think of from the Old Testament where God demonstrated His patience and mercy to the wicked?  Why do you think it is so important to consider this first while considering election?

*Father, thank You for Your mercy and Your patience toward me, one who deserves neither.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 9:14-29Romans 9:20a “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?”

As Paul begins to answer the rhetorical question posed in verse 19 that questions God’s sovereignty against man’s responsibility, he simply reminds us that God is the Creator, the Almighty Preeminent One, and it is presumptuous to question Him.  It’s not a point of exerting authority where no answer exists.  Paul is reminding us that we can’t domesticate God; we can’t make Him somehow “manageable” just because we don’t agree or understand.

Perhaps the following scene from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe describes it best where Susan is talking to Mr. And Mrs. Beaver and is asking them about Aslan, the great lion.

In the book, Susan asks if Aslan is a man to which Mr. Beaver replies, “Aslan, a man? Certainly not. I tell you he’s the king of the wood and Son of the great Emperor beyond the sea. Don’t you know who is the king of the beasts? Aslan is a lion, the lion, the great lion.”

“Oh,” Susan said, “I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver. “If there is anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking they are either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about being safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king. The king I tell you.”

Lewis paints a beautiful picture of our Savior.  He is the King, the merciful King, but He isn’t domesticatable.  He is God.

Study/Meditation:  What does this scene from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tell you about God?

*Father, You are the Almighty and Preeminent One.  Thank You for Your mercy.  Amen.

 

Focal Passage:  Romans 9:14-29

Romans 9:20-21 “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?’  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?”

After pointing out that our attitude of questioning the God of the universe is at the very least presumptuous, Paul now goes to a favorite Old Testament analogy, the potter and the clay.  His basic point is this:  God is the Creator; He is our Creator.  Inasmuch as this is true, doesn’t the Creator know more about what should and shouldn’t be than the one who is created?  God described Himself as “I Am.”  He has always been, He is, and He always will be.  We only began because the Great I Am pulled a handful of dirt from His created earth and made us.  Paul is giving us perspective and in that perspective should lay great humility.  John Piper said, “The argument is simply this: we humans don’t know enough to elevate our values and our standards and our insights to the point of judging God and saying: You used Your sovereignty in an unwise, unrighteous way.”  It truly is a matter of correct perspective.

Study/Meditation:  Why do you think Paul used this particular analogy in making his point?  What does this teach you about “perspective”?

*Father, You are the Great I Am, the first and glorious One.  To You be all glory and honor and praise forever and ever.  Amen.

 

Focal Passage: Romans 9:14-29

Romans 9:19 “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’”

One of the fundamental objections to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty over election is the notion that if God ultimately chooses who will be saved and who will not, then how can mankind be held responsible? Often people will see both teachings, and even though both are taught in the Bible, they will choose to believe one over the other.       The question raised by the Romans in verse 19 is the same today that brings many to this choice:       “If God chooses, then how can man be held responsible for those choices?” Now Paul is going to address this question in the verses following, but it is also important that we recognize the very existence of the question and Paul’s answer to it. Paul is dealing with sovereign election here; his teaching is on God’s choosing His children, and he is arguing in favor of it. It is right and good for us to wrestle with this doctrine, but we cannot deny it. The issue is real, the questions are real, and God’s sovereignty is real. Whereas God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility exist simultaneously in His Word, we cannot deny that either is true simply because we can’t understand how. Let us be receptive to the Holy Writ, not using our human understanding as foundational but God’s “God-ness” as the foundation.

Study/Meditation:       What does it tell you that the Roman Christians were asking the same questions that are being asked today? What does it likewise tell you that Paul didn’t shy away from these questions or backtrack in any way from his answers?

*Father, You are God and You are my Maker. Help me understand the truest form of humility as I come to You as my Lord.       Amen.

 

Focal Passage: Romans 9:14-29

Romans 9:17-18 “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.’       So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.”

Now Paul deals with the hard issue of those whom God does not elect, but notice that he doesn’t do so again from the standpoint of whether or not God is fair in doing so. First instead of speaking to the question of justice, Paul speaks to God’s mercy. Then instead of addressing justice, Paul addresses God’s purposes.       By quoting Exodus 9:16, Paul is telling us that God has reasons for what He does, and those reasons have everything to do with Him and His glory. This is not unjust; it is purposeful. The will of God is what could be questioned here, and Paul will not bend himself to do so. Instead he simply points out that we are only saved because of God’s mercy, and God’s purposes are fulfilled even in those He does not choose to save from their own sin. God is amazingly God-centered, and all things are to bring His glory to light. Since we are by nature not God-centered but self-centered, it is almost impossible for us to view the “why’s” of our Lord correctly. Paul refuses to question God’s justice but points us rightly back to His mercy and His sovereign purposes.

Study/Meditation: Why is it so important for us to view God in light of His glory instead of in view of what we think is fair or correct? Why is this so difficult?

*Father, I know that Your purposes will prevail and I thank You for Your sovereign mercy and grace. You are the Sovereign Lord. Amen.