Romans 9 - 11
Out in the world, where the Bible has little bearing, people wonder about things like “who are the children of God?” “Isn’t everybody born of God? After all, He created everything, so we must all be His children.” In these three chapters, 9, 10 and 11, Paul settles these kind of questions for the Romans. Perhaps they wrote and asked him, we don’t know. But we do know his answers, and they are still true today. Look at what he says to them about the children of God.
That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed (Romans 9:8).
Solid matter, children born through a fleshly process, these are not children of God, even though He created them. He tells the Romans that God’s children are His through some mystical means he is calling a promise. He's starting a discourse here to explain Christianity.
I would imagine this could have made the Jews quite angry. They saw themselves as the only children of God, that their fleshly birth did make them such because God chose their nation. Their identity as belonging to the one true God was not based on something as flimsy as a promise. Their identity was placed on their heritage, on their bloodlines going back to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons.
These three chapters are the cry of Paul’s heart for his countrymen. He reassures them that God has, indeed, called them and appointed them. Just as we talk about destiny today, that each of us has a destiny created specifically for ourselves, the Jews also have had, and still have, roles to play in the outpouring of God’s plan for His creation.
(For the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls) Romans 9:11.
None of us can boast about our position in this world. God determined from the foundation of the earth who we would be, what we would do, where we would live, and where we would go. It’s pointless to say, “How come, she (or he) gets to be famous and not me?!” He selected, or elected, you before you knew anything about His decision. It’s so much better to say, “Oh goody! I get to be/do, this/that” and enjoy it thoroughly as you do it to the best of your ability. You’ll have fun with your position that way, and God will be pleased with your efforts for Him.
I like to write novels. Some of my books have so many characters I don’t know if I can handle it because I can never allow someone to act out of character. Macho man must always be macho man until something causes revelation in him, and his character can then be redeemed. That's what God did before the foundation of the earth—He wrote our scripts. Now the Jews are going to have to have revelation of who Jesus is and how it affects their lives. If not, their character will never change. If they grasp this reality, then they can be redeemed. Paul is working very hard to get his fellow countrymen to seize the revelation.
They have been going to God through their laws, their rituals, their culture. But Paul is saying that no longer works. Now they must go by faith. Faith sounded as flighty to the Jews as the word “promise.” They kept records of everything, and these funny features of Jesus, “faith” and “promise,” couldn’t exactly be tallied up on a parchment and held up in court as reality.
Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone (Romans 9:32).
Jesus came and paid for it all. There’s no more tallying up the rights and wrongs. He paid for our forgiveness. He paid for all our sins. That’s hard for anyone to grasp until it is revealed to them. And that’s how the Jews were. Hard-headed? Maybe. But they had had an enviable society for centuries, and suddenly, some carpenter’s son was going to mess it all up?
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4).
If you take away laws, you have anarchy. Every man for Himself. They couldn’t see that taking away religious laws made way for every man to be for Jesus and not to be living selfishly. That changes everything. And if you’re not acting righteous with your behavior, like knowing the proper way to wash your hands or wash a cup, then how on earth are you supposed to act?
But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach), (Romans 10:8).
It still amazes me that the words of my mouth create my life because Jesus is in me, and He said:
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
If I speak words of faith, absolute trust in God that what I say will come into being because God now wills it that way, I will have whatever I say. We have moved from laws to words of faith. For now, we learn to live by faith, by using words of faith, by believing those words of faith, by believing those words and expecting them to come to pass. Even the disciples had a hard time with this, but in the end, they preached just like Paul. They had the revelation of this newness of life.
9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9, 10).
Some people believe these two Scriptures are just meant for those who are getting saved. But it clearly states “believes unto righteousness,” and what does that mean? Whatever is right and holy. (Holy meaning “whole.”) If you believe God for something right and holy, something that agrees with His words, you are believing unto righteousness. And by speaking that faith out of your mouth, you will have salvation. Do you know what your salvation is? EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER NEEDED, WANTED, OR DESIRED. Of course, it must agree with what God wants for you. And what does He want? Exactly what the word salvation means: “healing, provisions, comfort, freedom, safety, and prosperity in every aspect of life.”
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
Find it in the Word; take that Scripture for yourself; ask to have what the Scriptures promises; believe you have it before you see it, and you shall have it.
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25).
Paul does not want his countrymen to miss out on the amazing treasure that God sent to the earth in the form of His Son. He doesn’t want them to be hard-headed, thinking they have the answers to everything. After all, they have parchment after parchment with all the wisdom of the ages written in it. What more could they possibly want? Paul is warning them—if they don’t take heed of the great thing God has done, then they will be blind to these changed circumstances, and they will miss out on enjoying the personal presence of God as He welcomes the Gentiles in before the Jews.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).
We Christians like to take this verse and say the gifts and calling that are in us will never be taken away. And that’s right. But if a dictionary were created to give explanations of each verse, that definition would be like number 5 or number 6 in the list of meanings. This verse is written right in the midst of Paul pleading with the Jews to come to Christ. He’s reminding them of all the prophetic words that have been spoken about the Messiah through the ages, and reminding them that these words will come to pass. Where will they be? With God? Without God?
It’s important to read the Bible with a fresh mind as if you’ve never read it before, and therefore, you won’t just apply any meaning you happened to hear at church or elsewhere. Let the Holy Spirit lead you and guide you. Let Him instruct you through each verse you read. There are a million layers of wisdom in the Word of God. You may receive more than I have through these three chapters. That’s okay. Every single person is at a different level from everyone else. That’s the fun of sharing the Gospel!
Study Guide for the Week
Monday: Rom 9:1–18
Tuesday: Rom 9:19–33
Wednesday: Rom 10:1–21
Thursday: Rom 11:1–18
Friday: Rom 11:19–36