PREPARED BEFOREHAND FOR GLORY
My Conscience Bears Me Witness
Paul begins with an oath declaring that his conscience is bound to the Holy Spirit. This is of the utmost importance, and he wants to emphasize what he says because of the anguish and sorrow he feels in his heart. Paul says that he is willing to be cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of his people, the Jews. The Israelites enjoyed the privileges of joining God's family, experiencing his presence, being in a covenant relationship, receiving revelation, worshiping, and receiving his blessings. Christ came through a line that extended all the way back to the patriarchs. Jesus was a Jew, but he is God over all creation. Not all Jews are children of the promise, but God's word has not failed because God gives his promise sovereignly, not biologically. Abraham had two sons by two different women, but Ishmael did not receive the promise, Isaac did. Paul dismisses the idea that the children of Isaac would automatically receive the promise because Rebekah had two children, but only Jacob was chosen. God's choice had nothing to do with one being good; God chose according to his purpose and his plan. God's choices always align with his character, and when the Bible tells us that God hated Esau, it means that Esau as not given favor. God always acts for a reason and purpose. People do not merit God's favor, and God's reason for showing favor does not come from the individual. God is not unjust, and the point of election is not about any misguided sense about what God owes to every person because quite frankly, God is not a debtor to man, so he owes him nothing. Paul moves the focus from who experiences God's favor to the wonder that any of his fallen creatures receive grace at all. God is merciful to sinners, and the essence of predestination is grace. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. Those who do not experience God's grace are justly punished because they will harden their hearts and act according to their sinful nature. Pharaoh ascended to his position for God's purposes. God can never judge unjustly, and it is his right to extend grace to whoever he wishes. God is free, and he has the right to deal with his creation as he sees fit. Why does God patiently endure the wicked and strike them immediately? God can ultimately bring good from all things, and he makes known the riches of his glory to the objects of his mercy. God has called Gentiles as well as Jews to be children of the promise. Paul cites Hosea and Isaiah to show that God has always called a people to himself. If it were not for the grace of God, not even a remnant would have been preserved in Israel, and they would have been destroyed in judgment like Sodom and Gomorrah. The Gentiles did not pursue righteousness but attained it while Israel pursued righteousness and did not succeed. This seems unreasonable and perhaps unfair, but God can not be either one of those things. Religion cannot save, neither can good works. No one can be saved through good works or personal merit. Justification by faith alone has caused many to stumble. The people of Israel did not build their house upon the rock. Instead, it became a stumbling stone. Some are ashamed to admit that they are Christians who need to depend upon grace to be reconciled to God. The Bible promises that trust and confidence in Christ will result in not being put to shame.
Things To Consider:
- Have you ever been in sorrow and unceasing anguish over someone who is lost? Why or why not?
- Why is the word of God so important for salvation?
- What is difficult for you about the idea of election and predestination?
- Why would God show grace to anyone?
- Why can't we earn God's favor?
- Why couldn't the Jews not succeed in obtaining righteousness through the law?
- What is faith?
- How is one saved through faith?
- Why is the gospel a stumbling stone?