Warning… If you have difficulty with the doctrine of predestination, you might want to skip Romans 9!
Paul makes a pretty convincing case for predestination. Paul argues that human will has no influence over salvation, only God’s mercy. Paul even goes so far to give examples of God hardening hearts so that they can’t be saved. This is a difficult teaching, but Paul is clear.
After Paul presents his position, he even acknowledges the problem that many struggle with… ““Why does [God] still find fault? For who can resist his will?” (9:19).
Interestingly, Paul offers no explanation for this “problem.” This is his answer:
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? (Romans 9:20).
To paraphrase Paul, “God can do what he wants, so get over it.” Here is a summary of Paul’s teaching:
- We are responsible for our sin, and if we die apart from Christ, it is our own fault for disbelieving, and we will suffer eternal torment (Rom 1:20).
- God has chosen “before the creation of the world” (Eph 1:4) whom He will save. He chose his children before anyone was even born, so it is illogical to think we can do anything to earn salvation (9:11). It is based on God’s mercy alone, and His children will reap an eternity of bliss which they do not deserve (9:16).
This teaching is a stumbling block to many, but personally, I love it! Not being able to explain predestination in human terms makes me wonder at the transcendence of God. And knowing that I have done absolutely nothing to earn my salvation assures me that I can do absolutely nothing to lose it. If I know that God saved me by His mercy, then I can trust that He will keep me by His mercy. I’m free from the burden of performance. I can rest.
Salvation has always come through faith that is revealed in a humble seeking of God… not through the prideful assumption that one could earn righteousness by observing the law perfectly (9:32). The Psalms in today’s readings are examples of turning back to God from a place of brokenness. They show the humble faith of a sinful people…This is what God desires!
Rest in the mercy of God. Trust in his goodness that is revealed in the saving work of Christ!
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 145:8).