Romans 9 deals with a very hard subject. It is hard in the sense, that it is usually hard for fallen humankind to accept this part of the Word of God. Romans 9 deals with the doctrine of election/reprobation. The fact of the matter is; we have to remember, that the Bible is God's revelation of Himself. It is truth and we must accept the truth it reveals.
Romans 9 opens with Paul expressing concern why many of his kinsmen, the Israelites, do not accept Jesus Christ. Paul says that it was through the Israelites, as a people that God gave His Word, that God made His promises, and that through them the Savior of Humankind was to come. All this being the case, what is wrong that they do not accept Christ? Has the Word of God failed? No! Paul says, and in his reasoning he describes the very important doctrine of election and reprobation. He says that God has made a choice in who are the true children of promise. Let's look at verses10-11 "And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad - in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls. She was told, the older will serve the younger as it is written Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.." God is choosing Jacob (election) and rejecting Esau (reprobation). God's choices was not based on anything that the two had done, the choice was made before they were born. God's election according to Ephesians 1:4 was before the foundation of the world. Before the world was even created God had chosen you and me and every true Christian. This is Biblical truth, the Word bears it out and we have no choice but to accept it. Romans 9 and other verses like Ephesians 1:4 tell us that God has chosen all who will ever be saved. They are the elect. (1 Peter 1:1, Timothy 1:1, Romans 11:7, Luke 18:7) Reprobation or God rejecting some is shown in Scripture as well: here in Romans 9:14-24, 1 Peter 2:8. Many say today that this is unfair but Paul answer in verse 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.' Verses 16-18 provides more light on this: So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, For this very reason I have raised you up, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills." There is no unfairness in God. God has chosen to extend mercy to some and not to others. We are not saved by our own effort but on God extending mercy to us, and gifting us with the faith to believe in Jesus. These are very important issues that we are discussing, and I would recommend that you look at the ministries I have linked to at the top of the blog and read more detailed explanations of this doctrine.
The question that Paul addresses next is "Why does God still find fault? for who can resist His will? In other words, if God has rejected me, what can I do, I'm doing what He wills? Paul answers in verse 20-21: 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?" We must remember God rejects no one who comes to Him, its not like He is rejecting people who want to come to Him, no one would come to Him, if He had not purposed before time to save some, and give them the ability to come to Him. man thinks that in His own ability and power he can come to God - God says no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him...(John 6:44)
God elect some and reject others. This was done in eternity pass before the world was created. It is my prayer that all who are reading this are indeed the elect. You have been chosen by God. You would not, you could not express faith in Jesus Christ if you were not one of the elect so rejoice in that. Our Christian life is a life of coming into more and more knowledge of God. We do not know much about election or reprobation and a lot of other doctrines in the Bible, when we first trust in Christ, we learn these things as we grow in Christ. We learn that God is God, we are to tremble before Him at times. We learn about Him in His world - that's why we must read it - we must prayerfully read it and pray for His Spirit to cause us, to enable us to walk it, to live it - that is how we show that we are the elect, we live it by His power.
Paul continues his explanation of this doctrine in verse 22-23: "What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory-" These verses in line with the rest of this chapter show us that the choice of God is His sovereign prerogative, He has extended mercy on those whom He sent His Son to die for, all others will receive divine justice (wrath). We must know that we all were died in Adam, we all have sinned against God's righteousness and we all deserve wrath. Not getting what we deserve is Grace.
Paul is showing that the Jews rejected Christ the One who they were looking for and the Gentiles who were not looking for Christ, have received mercy, Christ being a stumbling block for the Jews. We will see more about that part of the redemption plan in the next chapter.
There are some points to keep in mind about election. Only an intimate relationship with Christ can comfort us a relationship that confesses and repents of sin, a relationship that seeks God's face in the Word, in prayer, in the Lord's Supper, in Church fellowship. There will be times when we feel like we are not elect, Satan will try to device you, we will not feel elect or if any comfort if we are living in unconfessed sin, in fact, God will bring into you life whatever He has to, to bring you back to your senses, if you are the elect. You will realize that you dishonor God, and the grace He has given you to escape His wrath and to live with Him in His glorious presence forever. We come to a realization that our relationship with God is vital. God is not playing games, we all have a limited amount of time, we all are moving toward our death or the Day of the Lord. We should be serious about the things of God, because God is serious. He has provided His plan, His intentions, His will in His Word.
Another point, we do not know who the elect are, only God does. So, we should not feel proud or boastful, we should treat everyone as the elect or extend the gospel to all those we encounter in our life, the Christian way is in humility, gratitude, and loyalty. James Boice wrote that the only way we can tells if we are indeed a member of the elect is whether we live a holy life are not.
Heavenly Father, This is a subject that can bring fear and apprehension to some - but Father you promised in your word that Christ will reject no one who comes to Him - for only the elect will come to Christ, so cause any who fear to turn to You and trust in Jesus Christ and receive that assurance that only You can give. Father we thank You that You have revealed Yourself and that revelation should be the utmost priority of all those who are yours. Helps us Most High and Holy God, in Jesus name.....Amen.