Nothing but Grace
Sovereign Lord, I am fixed on You, the trustworthy compass of my life. Fill my mind and my mouth with the truth of Christ.
Read Romans 9:1-18
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Moses…was willing to perish with God’s disobedient children (Exod. 32:32). But Paul somehow finds it in his heart to want to perish for them (2). This is a “spark from the fire of Christ’s substitutionary love” (Dorner).
Having reached the heights of exploration of the wonders of God’s grace in the last chapter, Paul now seems to change his focus. If nothing can separate us from God’s love, how is it that God’s own historic people seem to be separated from him by rejecting God’s Messiah? For Paul, salvation is not about personal gain, a spiritual version of “winner takes all,” but about longing to see all people experience the love of God poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).
From a human point of view, the people of Israel have all the advantages, even to the point of the Messiah being Jewish. But here is the nub of the issue: “from a human point of view.” The phrase Paul uses is “according to the flesh” (5, ESV; “human ancestry” in NIV), here using the word “flesh” in the neutral sense of the “merely human.” Paul uses examples from the Old Testament to show that it is not the “natural children” who receive God’s grace, but “children of promise” (8); it is not about human inheritance, but about responding to God in faith and trust. In this, Paul is echoing a theme found throughout the New Testament: in John the Baptist’s teaching (Matt. 3:9), the prologue of John’s Gospel (John 1:13) and right through Jesus’ teaching (John 8:39).
Does this mean God is unfair? Is he simply being arbitrary? No, he is being God. God is consistent in his actions, but this means being consistent in showing grace to those who are undeserving (or else it is not grace)–not following the lines of human expectation or privilege, but consistently showing his love to the poor, the unexpected, those on the margins and outside the bounds of respectability. This is Paul’s experience (“the worst of sinners,” 1 Tim. 1:16), and ours, too.
In what ways does your story of faith reflect this truth about God’s grace? How did his call on your life surprise you or others?
Loving Father, I realize that my salvation comes as a result of Your mercy (16). You in Your sovereign grace chose me and drew me to You. I give You my grateful praise.