Faith Gives Up on Self – History & Theology, Part 72

In the last blog we looked at Romans 9:6-12 in looking at the motives of God in saving sinners. Let me repeat from last time that Romans 9 is hard for people to deal with because it deals with issues from the perspective of God who is centered upon Himself and not man. Romans 9 is not hard to understand, but it is very hard for a human-centered person to submit to such a thorough God-centered passage.

Romans 9:6 – But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is the word of promise: “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, 11 so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.” 13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

In Romans 9:6-12 we see with utter clarity that God chose Isaac to be born as a child of promise and then from Isaac and Rebekah Jacob was the child of promise. Ironically enough, though not found in this text but Genesis, Abraham wanted a son by the slave woman Hagar to be the child of promise rather than Isaac. Then Isaac favored Esau rather than Jacob. But God chose Isaac over his father’s wishes and then Jacob over his father’s wishes. When that is taken into consideration, along with God’s choosing before Jacob or Esau had done anything good or bad or had made any choices, God was the One who made the choices according to His own pleasures and motives. The natural human heart, especially in America where everything must be equal, cries out that this is not fair. Notice in verse 14 that Paul anticipates the objection and deals with it in a straightforward manner.

Paul does not worry about what is fair, which is what humans think is important, but he deals with what is just. Paul says that in no way (may it never be) is there injustice with God. He then goes to Exodus 33 and 34 where God revealed Himself to Moses and simply says that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and will have compassion on whom He will have compassion. This is an answer that does not beat around the bush and it also does not leave any room for equivocation. Paul did not argue about the fairness aspect, he simply says that it is not unjust of God. Since God is God, the showing of mercy and compassion are decided by Him.

Just to be sure there is no mistake in the matter, Paul goes on to state the other side of the issue in v. 16. Again he makes a statement that is very hard to misunderstand unless people want to misunderstand it. He states that it does not depend on the man who wills/wishes/chooses or runs (activity). He specifically states in this part that it does not depend on man’s will. The Arminian position depends on the will of man to some degree. This text says that it does not depend on the will of man. Instead of depending on the will or efforts of man, salvation depends totally on the mercy of God. We can see that the words of this text are not hard to understand, but they are very hard for proud and self-sufficient people to submit to. There is nothing in man at all that would move or give God a motive to save him. When speaking about this personally, each of us rebel at that thought the first time we hear it if not forever. But until we give up the thought that there is anything that I can do or will to move God to save me, I will never stop trusting in myself alone and trust in Christ alone for salvation. The motive of God in salvation simply shows another aspect of grace alone. God’s motive must be Himself or it will be from a human being and that destroys His choice and His grace. The Gospel is the good news that God saves sinners based on His mercy and compassion and there is nothing they need to do of themselves to be saved. They must give up on all of their own willing and working and with brokenness ask God to give them a new heart. Faith is not the act of the will, it is having no faith in self and my will in order to receive grace alone.


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