Three Hard Truths

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, July 28, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

In a strange twist in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he starts addressing a dilemma where the rightful heirs of the riches of God’s goodness would be denied their inheritance because they were illegitimate children. Sure, they could talk the talk and they looked good in the eyes of their peers, but God knew who they really were. “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans 9:6). In this statement, Paul opens up the discussion for some hard truths.

The first and most important of which is that God is God. It follows that neither you nor I am God. God is free to judge according to his own standards, as we are reminded in verse 15, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.” We find all sorts of ways to justify our sins and to comfort ourselves into believing that, “so long as my good deeds outweigh my bad, I will go to heaven.”

A second point is that works-based salvation is a lie. God does not have mercy on you for being a goodie-two-shoes. Verses 11 and 12 sting like a wasp: “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.” Within its context it is a little trickier to interpret this, but for now let us conclude that God does not judge by human standards. These verses are referring to God’s appointing of Jacob/Israel’s blessing, thus fulfilling God’s promise to his grandfather Abraham, that he would become the father of many nations. Esau, although he was the older brother, which made him the traditional heir of the father’s blessings, did not receive this blessing and it was by God’s decision that this happened. God’s ways are higher than our ways.

Third, mankind does not grant one another salvation. “Is God unjust? Not at all!” (Romans 9:14). We, as humans, have a horrible way of discerning right from wrong. Be wise in considering this example: John the Baptist was the most righteous man, by God’s standards, in human history. King Herod liked to play things loose and easy and the people praised him for his lifestyle. He even decided to marry his brother’s wife. John the Baptist scolded him and condemned the practice of doing such an immoral thing, which landed John in prison, and he was eventually beheaded for upholding God’s righteousness in the face of an immoral regime. But Herod would later be judged by God and die horribly for his wickedness in the sight of those who praised him as a god (Acts 12:21-23). Consider this wisely.

God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, but we are blessed to be told in chapter 11 that God would turn all people over to disobedience so that he might have mercy on everyone. God is free to judge as he pleases and he extends mercy to you if you will grasp it. Do not squander his mercy.

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