Romans 9:1-15

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 27, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, 'It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.' In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: 'At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.'
Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'” (Romans 9:1-15)

This is the first huge shift in topic in Paul’s letter to the Romans. He spent the first 8 chapters of the letter explaining Jesus and his saving work for us, why that was needed, and what we should do about it. Here, he switches to a more personal topic.

Paul was a Jew, and a very Jewish one at that (see Philippians 3:5-6). He didn’t just claim to be a Jew in name only, but he truly lived the lifestyle and had the genetics to back it up. Naturally, Paul felt a love for the Jewish people, his own race. The Jews had been God’s chosen people for centuries, and God had stood by them and led them through thick and thin, through their obedience and their countless times of disobedience to Him. They were the people through whom God would bring His Messiah, the person who would save all of humanity from sin.

Many Jews of that day though that they were “in” with God simply because of their heredity, because their ancestry could be traced back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob way back in the book of Genesis. But, the point Paul is making here is that ancestry is not what’s important any more. Jesus came as the Messiah, the true Son of God, and all of that changed. Salvation was now open to anyone who would put their faith in Jesus, as Paul has been explaining previously in this letter.

Ancestry is no longer important; having faith in Jesus is what matters. God never promised salvation to all of Israel, and it is God’s choice to determine who His people will be. Before Jesus came to this earth, the people of Israel were God’s chosen ones. Now, however, in order to be saved, every person needs to put his or her faith in Jesus Christ. Being a Jew doesn’t make them a shoe-in any longer.

In order to help the church in Rome understand this, Paul uses a lot of Old Testament references. The Jews would know those Hebrew Scriptures well, so this is Paul’s way of linking the promise of a Messiah to the person of Jesus, who is the actual Messiah. The Jews would know God’s promises of old, and now they need to update that to reflect Jesus fulfilling all of those promises.

But why does that matter for us today? I would guess that most of the people reading this (including myself) are not Jewish, either by nationality or religion. So why does this passage matter to us?

Have you ever heard someone say (or said yourself) that you’re a Christian simply because your parents are Christians? That’s exactly the mentality that Paul is addressing here. You can’t be “grandfathered” in to the faith. Each and every person must affirm their faith for themselves. Just because your parents followed Christ doesn’t automatically put your faith in Him. Just because you were raised going to a church every Sunday doesn’t mean that you have God’s salvation. I’ve heard the saying “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” Following Jesus has to be an individual choice that you live out in your whole life, not just by being in a particular building one morning a week.

Have you made that choice to follow Jesus Christ for yourself? You can’t count on the circumstances surrounding your life to make the choice for you; that won’t work in God’s eyes. Every heart has to be committed to following Him if you want to experience His salvation and the future glory of spending eternity with Him. If you have not yet made that choice, I would encourage you to do so! You will forever be thankful that you did, when you realize God’s future glory someday.

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