Rom 9:18-21                      The Children of the Promise                         6/18/2000 

 

 

#1.            Would You Not Rather Skip This? (Rom 9:8,13,17)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       The Power of God    (I Cor 1:22-25)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       God is Sovereign            (Rom 9:19-21)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Rom 9:18-21                      The Children of the Promise                         6/18/2000 

Please open your Bibles to Romans, chapter 9. In the beginning of this chapter the Apostle Paul vents his continual sorrow for his fellow countrymen who remain in unbelief. But then he concludes this lament by stating what the O.T. already states by implication:

Romans 9:6 ¶ Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

In other words, he says: God's promises are not failing. God's promises were to Israel, but "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel". The blood descendants of Jacob are not all whom God calls Israel.

Romans 9:7  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

In other words, just because they are physical descendants of Abraham does not entitle them to the promises given. Only through Isaac shall the promises to the Seed of Abraham be applied.

Romans 9:8  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

In other words, Only "The children of the promise are counted for the Seed". They are the only ones to whom all the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be applied. Not the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, BUT "The children of the promise". The question is: Who are "The children of the promise"? God answers this question by giving three crystal clear examples. 1st Exmpl

Romans 9:9  For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.

In other words, Isaac was a child of promise.             Second example:

Rom 9:10  And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

Romans 9:11  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Romans 9:12  It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

Romans 9:13  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

In other words, Jacob was a child of promise, not Esau.             Third example:

Romans 9:14 ¶ What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Romans 9:15  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (These are "the children of the promise".)

Rom 9:16  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Rom 9:17  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

#1.            Would You Not Rather Skip This? (Rom 9:8,13,17)

Why would you rather skip this passage? In fact, I have a Commentary at home where the entire chapter 9 of Romans has been left out, as if it was something distasteful.

But it is in the Word of God; so we are not allowed to skip it, even if we are uncomfortable with it. Only those who still are in their carnal mind will intentionally skip these verses. What are the verses that are so distasteful to the carnal mind? Let me give you three examples.   First, look at verse 8:

Romans 9:8  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

Does this mean that the majority of the Jews, who are indeed the children of the flesh, are consigned to unbelief and therefore are they actually on the way to Hell? That is indeed the teaching of the Bible and we can confirm it unto the present day. Most of them have remained in unbelief. The Bible teaches that this condition will persist until this world comes to an end. Who is responsible for this massive unbelief? God says here: He is responsible for that. That is hard to swallow. That does not seem to fit the image that we have of God.  Secondly, look at verse 13:

Romans 9:13  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Does God love or hate certain people? Did God hate them before they were born and before they could have done any good or evil? This does not fit the image of a loving God that we think He is. What about me? What is the probability that God hates me? Therefore, do we now have to think of God in a totally different way? Does that make us uncomfortable?  Thirdly, look at verse 17:

Rom 9:17  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

Wow. Does God say that He raised up this particular Pharaoh of Egypt for the express purpose that God's power would be demonstrated in the actions of this Pharaoh, who drowned with his entire army in the Red Sea? God raised him up, and God showed no mercy to him or to his army at all. Not one of them escaped; they all drowned. And did God do that just for the purpose to show His power over Pharaoh, and for the purpose that God's name might be declared over all the earth that God triumphed over Pharaoh?  Wow.  That does not seem to fit the image of God most of us have.

We can clearly see that one of two things must happen: Either we quickly learn who God really is and we accept that, or we decide that we do not want anything to do with certain parts of the Bible that show us who God really is. BUT, if we decide that we do not want anything to do with certain parts of the Bible, then we have stayed in unbelief, we are still unsaved and on the way to Hell.

Well, if we want to get to know Him we must read the Bible. God revealed Himself to us in the Bible alone. Our God is One God, who revealed Himself as three distinct Persons at the same time, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and yet these three Persons are One God.

And If we want to get to know man we also must read the Bible. God revealed man as a creature made in the image of God, and therefore accountable to God for upholding God's image. But God also revealed man as a fallen creature, who has so badly damaged the image of God that all that is left, is a creature who is constantly in rebellion against God and therefore is under the wrath of God. This is not the description of a few criminals here and there. O NO !  This is the description of the entire human race, even including the unborn babies in the womb. That is what God says in the Bible. Every one in the whole human race is bound for eternal condemnation in a place called Hell. And every one of us would end up there if God would have Justice prevail. Do we want Justice? I hope not. We want mercy, if mercy is available.

Our God is a merciful God. The Bible says: "He delights in mercy" (Mic 7:18). Therefore God, in His great mercy, decided to save certain individuals from Hell by providing a Substitute to pay for their sins. Our God chose, or elected, certain individuals unto salvation. These are "the children of the promise", whereas God passed by other people and left them in their sins. God gave four examples of this Divine principle of election here in Romans 9. The first one is in Rom 9:9,

Romans 9:9  For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.

Isaac typified the promised Seed to Abraham, which ^ is Christ. All those in Christ are the children of the promise. Isaac was elected unto salvation, whereas God passed by Ishmael. Second example:

Romans 9:11  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

The parentheses in your Bible were not in the original. The translators put them there. But God gave this example to make it perfectly clear what election is: God elected Jacob and passed by Esau before the children were born, and before they could have done any good or evil. Therefore, to nail down the meaning of election, God gave us the third example in Rom 9:16,

Rom 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

God's mercy is NOT given to those of mankind who are willing to run to Him. There is NO ONE willing. If God would wait till there is anyone willing, then all of us would end up in Hell.

But what does God need to do after He elected us? He had to nail Jesus Christ to the Cross.

This is one of the reasons why people rather skip this passage in Romans 9. Please turn with me to 1Cor 1:18. Here we see the outworking of the election of God:

1 Corinthians 1:18  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

To those whom God elected unto salvation the preaching of the Cross is like music from Heaven, but to those whom God passed by the preaching of the Cross is foolishness. Yes, even more than foolishness, they despise it. We can honestly say that after almost 20 centuries of Gospel preaching, Christ is still "despised and rejected of man". He, the Christ of Scripture, is dishonored and disowned by the majority of modern pulpits, because they do not understand the Atonement of Christ. Instead of declaring: "What saith the Scriptures?" they are declaring what comes out of their own mind.

But God declares in I Cor 1:19,

1 Corinthians 1:19  For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise (I.e. the wise of this world), and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent (i.e. the prudent of this world).

1 Corinthians 1:20  Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?                               (Now watch these words:)

1 Corinthians 1:21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

In the first half of verse 21 God says: that the world, by their own wisdom, knew not God, because God, in His own wisdom, designed it that way. You see how this confirms what we read in Rom 9?

Then God says in the second half of verse 21 that it pleased God to save His elect by "the foolishness of preaching". Why does God call it here "the foolishness of preaching"? Look at it from God's perspective: Here stands a sinner, preaching to other sinners the message that they are in danger of going to Hell, whereas most of them are probably on the way to Heaven. And what does the message contain? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved". And yet we know that those who are still unsaved in the Congregation are spiritually DEAD, and how can a dead man believe? That is why God calls it "the foolishness of preaching".

But God knows what He is doing. God knows that His irresistible grace will convert the souls of those who are His elect who have come under the hearing of the Gospel.

The preaching of the Cross is foolishness to those whom God passed by, but unto us, who are saved because we are God's elect, this preaching is:

#2.       The Power of God    (I Cor 1:22-25)

In this beautiful passage in I Corinthians God goes on to say in verse 22,

1 Corinthians 1:22  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

1 Corinthians 1:23  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

1 Corinthians 1:24  But unto them which are called (i.e. them which are the elect are called by God), both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:25  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

We preach Christ crucified. What does that mean? Why is Christ the Power of God and the wisdom of God? Why was it necessary for Christ to be crucified? If God elected certain people unto salvation, why could He not take them directly into Heaven, like He did with Enoch?

NO.  God cannot do that. There are certain things that God cannot do. God cannot violate His own righteousness. God cannot lie. God has declared in the Bible that "The soul that sinneth, it shall die", and God declared that "the wages of sin is death", and the death that God has in view is an eternity in Hell. God cannot take sinners directly into Heaven without first requiring them to pay the penalty for their sins, which is an eternity in Hell. God cannot do that; it would make God a liar.

But if we first have to go to Hell and pay the penalty for our sins, we would be there for an eternity, and we would never get out of there. Well, that shows you how great our sin-problem is. Everyone in the human race is bound for Hell. We are helpless sinners, unable to help ourselves; the penalty is too great. God knows that, and God is able to find the remedy for our sin-problem.

God provided a substitute, a stand in, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was fully man and fully God. He alone was able to take our sins upon Himself, and endure the wrath of God in the place of those elect whom He came to save. Because He was fully man, He was able to take our sins upon Himself. And because He was fully God, He was also able to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for my sins, and for the sins of everyone whom the Father had given Him, in a space of time of less than 20 hours. He began to endure the wrath of God in the Garden of Gethsemane, and when He was on the Cross for about 6 hours He said: "It is finished". At that time He had completed the full payment for all those sins that He came to pay. O, what an incredible love the Lord Jesus had for us that He was willing to suffer that much for us, rotten sinners. That was on Friday, April 3, in the year 33 AD.

On that day everyone whose sins had been paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ, were guaranteed eternal life with Christ in Heaven, and all those people whose sins had not been paid for, were guaranteed to have to pay for their own sins in Hell.

He will have mercy on all those people whose sins were paid on the Cross by the Lord Jesus.

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Why do some receive mercy and are adopted as sons of God? Because God elected them unto salvation, simply by the good pleasure of His will. Please turn with me to Ephesians chapter 1:5.

Ephesians 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

God the Father adopted us as His sons, simply because He predetermined our destiny before the foundation of the world, according to the good pleasure of His will. And why did He do it?

Eph 1:6   To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

He did it for His glory, and for the glory of His grace; the glory of His immeasurable gift to us, unworthy sinners who did not deserve such a gift at all. He made us accepted in the Belovd, in Christ.

Ephesians 1:7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

According to the riches of His grace, in Christ we were redeemed, which means we were bought back through His blood, which means through the giving of His life, we have received the forgiveness of all our sins. When all our sins were loaded on Christ, our whole life was on Christ. Then He as our representative paid for all our sins. When Christ was crucified, we were crucified with Him; when Christ died, we died with Him; when Christ was buried, we were buried with Him, and when Christ was raised from the dead, we were raised with Him.

Therefore, we do not have to go through Hell again. We have already gone through Hell in Christ. He was able and willing to do it for us in our place. That is why we say that Christ is the Power of God and the wisdom of God, because He in His infinite wisdom paid the price exactly for those whom He came to save from the power of sin and from the power of the Devil. This is the mystery of His will.

This is the power of the Cross. Christ paid the ransom for those elect whom the Father chose from before the foundation of the world. What an incredible graceful gift to those elect. But the world cries foul. The wisdom of the world claims: That is unfair !  Christ must die for everyone in the whole world, so that everyone in the whole world would have an equal chance of becoming saved. They don't know what they are saying !  Would they want Christ to die the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for those who eventually end up in Hell? But how the world thinks is unimportant. Only what God says is important. He says that God knows them that are His. Their number cannot be increased, nor can it be decreased.             But what about those for whom Christ did not die on the Cross?

Let's turn back to Romans, chapter 9, where we left off.

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

That is a hard saying. God said that. And man, proud man, reprobate man, does not like it. They hate this absolutism. That is why the true preaching of the Cross is hateful to man.

What does the word "Reprobate" mean? It means "unacceptable to God", or "rejected by God". People do not reprobate themselves. They were born that way after our father Adam willfully sinned. People are born wicked. God works out His reprobation of man through the wickedness of man.

Look at the example of Jacob and Esau: Reprobation took place before they were born, or had done either good or evil. Look at the example of Pharaoh: From all eternity God, who is the absolute Sovereign, said within Himself: For this same purpose shall I raise thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Look at the example of Judas Iscariot: Baby Judas was not yet born, but the Holy Scriptures in the home of the mother and father of Judas said: "He which did eat of my bread hath lifted up his heel against me."

Therefore, when you read in Rom 9:18, "And whom He will He hardeneth", let these words stand !

This is what God says. This is what our Church proclaims, and this is also what the True Church has been proclaiming throughout the past 400 years. Let me prove that to you. If you turn to the back of your Psalter Hymnal, to the Canons of Dort, you will read there in Chapter 1, in ARTICLE 15:

What peculiarly tends to illustrate and recommend to us the eternal and unmer­ited grace of election is the express testimony of sacred Scripture that not all, but some only, are elected while others are passed by in the eternal decree; whom God, out of His sovereign, most just, irreprehensible, and unchangeable good pleasure, has decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but, permitting them in His just judgment to follow their own ways, at last, for the declaration of His justice, to condemn and punish them forever, not only on account of their unbelief but also for all their other sins. And this is the decree of reprobation, which by no means makes God the Author of sin (the very thought of which is blasphemy), but declares Him to be an awful, irreprehensible, and righteous Judge and Avenger thereof.

Therefore, when we look at verses 6, 7 and 8, we conclude that most of the blood descendants of Jacob were hardened. Before they had done any good or evil they were already hard of heart, and during their lifetime they became more hardened.             God did that !

#3.       God is Sovereign            (Rom 9:19-21)

Christ did not suffer and die for the sins of the reprobate. They will have to pay for their own sins. Did God have to save anybody? NO !  He could have left everybody with a hard heart, and send them all to Hell. But God will bestow His grace on whom He will have compassion. It is God's right to do with His gifts as He pleases. God is Sovereign.

Therefore, when we read: "And whom He will He hardeneth", remember: These are God's words. Is it not true that God's words "are to some the savour of life unto life, and to others they are the savour of death unto death"? Today there millions of people who enter the Church, they listen to the sermon, and when they leave the Church they are deader than when they entered. God hardened their hearts while they were in Church.

Where do you find a Church this day that dares to confess the hardening by God of the reprobate? And yet, God wrote it down in many places throughout the Bible, and during the past 1900 years it could be found on the bookshelves in all the Churches, and since the Reformation it was printed in millions of Bibles. God sovereignly loves those who are His elect and they receive His mercy, and God sovereignly hates the reprobate and they receive His hardening.

Romans 9:19  Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

God anticipates what the reprobate will say, but it is a wicked objection to God's absolute sovereignty. Who are you who dare to protest against God? You are only a rebellious piece of clay. It is a terrible thing to criticize God. Do not find fault with God. You lose before you start.

And the answer of the Triune God through the Holy Spirit is as follows: God's Word is infallible.

Romans 9:20  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

"O man, who art thou?" You are a filthy piece of clay. Not just clay, but clay made filthy by sin. You are nothing. All the nations together are nothing when compared with the Almighty Creator of the universe. Almighty God does not lower Himself to enter into the argument. God simply says: I will love my elect, and I will hate the reprobate.

Romans 9:21  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

God is above all reproach. God is above all evil. God cannot do anything that is wrong. God is the only one who is good. Jesus said to the Rich Young Ruler: There is none good but one, that is, God.

It is impossible for God to be anything but good. It is impossible for God to do anything but good.

You may have heard this before, but today the Sovereignty of God is not used very often in other Churches. And if it is used, it is mostly misunderstood. What does it mean that God is Sovereign?

It means that God is the supreme Ruler over everything and everyone He has made. It means that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that no one can defeat His counsels, obstruct His purposes, or resist His will. God can do what He wants to do, however, with one limitation: God chose to abide by His own rules, which He has stated in the Bible. God cannot lie. If God would violate His own rules, then God would violate His own righteousness.

For example, when God promised salvation to various O.T. and N.T. Saints, God could not forgive their sins by just a simple hand waving, because God has declared that the wages of sin is death. Therefore the penalty must be fully paid, or else God cannot be trusted. Therefore, God was obligated to send His Son into the world, to pay that penalty on the Cross. The fact that God was obligated to fulfill His promises does not interfere with the Sovereignty of God. It only demonstrates that God cannot lie, and that God is subject to no one but God Himself.

But this is wonderful and comforting to the Saints that God's Word is true and trustworthy. In fact, it is as true and trustworthy as God Himself, because God declared: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." It is extremely comforting to the Saints that God has chosen them before the foundation of the world, since they understand that without such a plan of election NO ONE could be saved. Therefore, we hold fast to the promises in His Word:

1 Corinthians 2:5  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Sovereignty of God means that God's elect are safe and secure. Please turn with me to Rom 8:33

Romans 8:33  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

Romans 8:34  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Romans 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Romans 8:37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Romans 8:38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Romans 8:39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. à  That is why we need the Sovereignty of God.

Why is it so important to understand that God is Sovereign? Because when we read these words:

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

, then we will understand and believe that God means what He says. If you don't like what God says in His Word, you are actually rejecting God Himself. That is the warning of Rom 9:20,

Romans 9:20  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?

If there is a portion of Scripture that you don't want any part of it, then you have rejected the true God, and you have begun to fabricate your own god.

If we have heard what God says, and turn away our ear, essentially we have stayed in unbelief.

Prov 28:9  He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

But that is not the reaction of the elect when the Father draws them to the Lord Jesus Christ. Their reaction will be quite the opposite. We read it for example in Prov 2:1-5

Proverbs 2:1My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

Proverbs 2:2  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Proverbs 2:3  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

Proverbs 2:4  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Proverbs 2:5  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

This is the attitude of a child of God.             This son has been drawn by his heavenly Father.

It is important to understand that God is Sovereign, because that is at the core of the Gospel. God's Sovereignty characterizes the whole Being of God. He is Sovereign in all His attributes. God is Sovereign in the exercise of His power, and His power is exercised in the way He wills, where He wills and when He wills. This fact is evident on every page of the Bible. Only then do we get to know Him. Only then do we find the knowledge of God.

But who are they who object to this doctrine of God's Sovereignty? Is it not always those who want to work for their salvation? Is it not always those who want to trust in their decision they have made for the Lord Jesus, or those who want to put their trust in their Water Baptism, or those who trust in their experiences? And so on.

But when we have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, then we understand that we have come to know Him only by grace, the free gift from God.

                                                                              Let us pray.