“I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” (Romans 9:1-2 ESV) “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. “ (Romans 9:6a ESV) “…For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 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 purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, 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.” (Romans 9:15-18 ESV) “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—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:22-24 ESV)
This chapter is titled God’s Sovereign Choice in my bible. It broadly talks about choice: God’s Choice and man’s choice. From my perspective these are not in conflict although it takes a bit of work to understand the Grace of God in the Gospel concerning Chapter 9—although a full understanding is sort of impossible because of my feeble mortal mind. For me it represents another beautiful facet of the Jewel that is the Gospel.
Once per year on my personal calendar is to review the Attributes of God. On a monthly basis I try to thoroughly recite the Plan of the Gospel. Good times in the car—I can get to the Cross but run out of time thinking of the Gospel and the local Church (not often getting to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit). Weaving the study of the Attributes into the Gospel is certainly needed because I either want to; 1) Short cut and minimize the enormity of the Gospel or; 2) Define the Gospel into a term that is all about me and only partially about God. In Romans 9 I see the heavy, wet, cloth of truth: God is Sovereign. No matter how I want to look at it God is Sovereign—all of Creation is under His rule and Active influence and control. I do not submit to that lightly. Even as I write the above and know that there are “better” answers candidly my heart doesn’t like this. I want to have some measure of control, of independence. I want to think God gives me latitude (like a doting father might). I tend toward self-importance, self-absorption. If I wanted to humanize my attitude it would be “Look what I did, Daddy. Aren’t you proud of me?”… but in some kind of score keeping way—however I thought about it, it wouldn’t be godly and glorifying to God. I know in my heart it would be “I don’t need You…I can do it myself.” This is ardently exemplified when I think that I have failed doing “God’s work” of some kind. What a crooked thought that is: like I am in charge of results. But that attitude is not the Heart of the Gospel. The Heart is that God loved his Creation; and that so thoroughly He created and executed the Plan to redeem the world by offering His Son as the Propitiation of His Wrath—Jesus died to pay the penalty for my Sin from the Wrath of God that I deserve. The humbling part of Romans 9 is that, according to the Scriptures, from a personal perspective—God chose me. Why? Why wasn’t I counted like Pharaoh? Why wasn’t I counted like Esau? “God so loved the World that He gave His only Son…” I get that objectively—what I am wrestling with and am in awe with more and more as I grow older is “why did He die for me specifically?” Don’t misunderstand this—my faith has not been stronger; I am not wavering. I don’t use the word “awe” lightly. What I am certainly coming to grips with is that I will not EVER understand the depths of His mercy towards me…and I am understanding that on That Day I will be among countless who will throw their crowns at the Feet crying “Only you are Worthy to receive Glory and Honor and Power—Worthy is the Lamb!”
I remember this refrain “Were the whole realm of nature mine; that were an offering far too small. Love so amazing, so divine; Demands my soul, my life, my all.” (Isaac Watts) My offering, Lord, of my life is meager, not anywhere close to being enough. But it is all I have. Daily I lay it down at the foot of the Cross, that blazing center of your Mercy and Grace. Please help me get my head on straight and teach me Your Ways. (Ps 119).