Romansby David Cook
Paul’s elated confidence at the end of chapter 8 now turns to “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” (v. 2) as he thinks about Israel’s obstinate resistance to the gospel. Does this represent a failure of God’s faithfulness to keep His promises to save Israel, or a failure of His Word (v. 6)? The answer is “No”. God always intended to save a remnant of Israel. Even among Abraham’s children, He chose Isaac, and not Ishmael; Jacob, and not Esau (vv. 7–13).
Does this election mean that God is unjust? (v. 14) No, says Paul. It is not a justice issue. All deserve condemnation. God is sovereign in the exercise of His mercy and in the exercise of whom He hardens, like Pharaoh (vv. 15–18).
If human unbelief is a result of God’s hardening of the human heart, why does God still hold us responsible (v. 19)? Such an argument is the equivalent of clay complaining to the potter about the use to which it is put. The potter makes different vessels out of the same lump of clay (vv. 20–21).
Why does God act like this? Why doesn’t He just elect everyone? He did this to glorify Himself (vv. 22–24). The unbeliever by his stubborn resistance elevates God’s patience; the believer by his undeserved acceptance elevates God’s mercy.
Paul then quotes Hosea and Isaiah (vv. 25–29) to show that it was always God’s intention to save a remnant of both Jews and non-Jews.
Those who love the Bible but have a problem accepting the doctrine of election will have an obvious problem here. It is an affront to pride to be told that we made no contribution to our own salvation. Salvation is based solely on the electing mercy of God. It is totally undeserved.
Preacher C. H. Spurgeon said this is the “most comforting doctrine of all”. Rejection of this truth robs both God of the sole glory due to Him for our salvation, and the believer of the “sweet, pleasant and unspeakable comfort” that comes from knowing our salvation is God’s decision and He will never change His mind.
Here is the antidote to every vestige of self-righteousness: There is nothing for us to feel superior about, for God chose us despite ourselves, not because of anything we have done. Here is the great motivation for prayer and evangelism: God has an elect people, but we don’t know who they are (Acts 18:10). We must take the gospel out in the assurance that God knows who they are, and He will call them to faith when they hear the gospel.
Why should God’s unconditional choice of the church surprise us, since He chose Israel unconditionally?
Do you think we have a problem with the teaching of Romans 9 because it is hard to understand, or because it is hard to accept?