Gospel of Grace Alone 39

Romans 9:13 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. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

The Gospel of grace alone stands firm upon the eternal plans and will of God rather than the mortal plans and will of man. The Gospel of grace alone stands firm on the choices of God rather than choices of man. The Gospel of grace alone stands of the mercy and grace of God rather than the goodness of man regardless of whether it is by his birth or by his activity. The Gospel of grace alone stands on the works of God rather than the works of man. The Gospel of grace alone stands on the fact that salvation depends on the will and activity of God rather than the will and activity of man. The Gospel of grace alone stands on the fact that God has mercy on whom He desires rather than on man choosing for God to have mercy on himself.

The fact that God loved Jacob and hated Esau was not found in their own merits, righteousness, or works, but in the fact that God has the right to do with them as He pleased. This is a hard teaching for people to accept, but this is the great safeguard for the Gospel to be by grace alone rather than something that man attains to in some way. The text (above) is very clear on this and one has to try hard to get around that it is so clearly saying. This is to say that it takes a lot of theological and hermeneutical gymnastics to get around this plain teaching. God loved Jacob and hated Esau and so the natural objection (which Paul answers) is that there is some injustice with God. But Paul’s answer to that objection is not some philosophical answer based on some form of human-centered focus, but instead he goes to the words of God to Moses. God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion.

If the natural man (including the natural and religious man) did not rebel against that teaching so much the case would be closed at this point. God is not under any obligation to any particular person mercy or compassion, nor is He under obligation to any denomination or religious circle to show mercy or compassion. God shows mercy or compassion to those whom He is pleased to show. God does not show mercy and compassion because a person is born into a Christian home, nor does He show mercy and compassion because a person works and is good. God shows mercy and compassion because He wills to do so and this is based solely on Himself.

The issue of grace versus human goodness and works comes to the surface with great clarity at this point. God shows mercy and compassion on whom He is pleased to do so and not because of anything found in any one human or all humans together. He loved Jacob and hated Esau precisely because He was sovereign and it pleased Him to have mercy and compassion on one and not the other. God is free to set His love on those whom He is pleased to do so and He is free to pass over all those He is pleased to do so. The showing of mercy and compassion arises from God Himself and His own holiness, but not because of man. God created all things through and for Christ and man is for Christ rather than Christ being for man in the ultimate sense. Christ came in order to manifest the glory of the Father rather than to demonstrate the value and worth of man.

What is seen in this text is that God is utterly sovereign in His showing of mercy and compassion. How this fits with the Gospel of grace alone. What is called “grace” in the modern day is no real grace at all because it depends on man rather than on God. The modern day thinks of “grace” as that which man has to do something in order to receive it, but the Scriptures know of no such thing. There is no condition for man to keep or the Gospel is not of grace alone. The Gospel is all of grace and nothing but grace and as such it rests on the will of God to show grace or not as He pleases. This is a delight to the soul that has been taught of God to delight in Him and His grace.

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