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Richard Piles

The Scope of God's Sovereign Plan of Election...

A little over a month ago, our study in Romans brought us to Romans 9, and these next three chapters serve as a transition in this first century letter.  The first 8 chapters were about doctrine.  Chapters 12-16 are about duty.  Chapters 1-8 are about belief.  Chapters 12-16 are about behavior.  Chapters 1-8 are about theology.  Chapters 12-16 are about ethics.  So what about chapters 9-11?  They address some specific questions about the nation of Israel. 

 

In verses 1-5, we saw that most of Paul’s fellow countrymen had rejected Christ as the promised Messiah, and this broke Paul’s heart.  It grieved him to the extent that He expressed an impossible exchange of damnation for salvation.  See Romans 9:2-3.

 

2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,

 

However, in Romans 9:6-9, even though the majority of Jews had rejected Christ, that did not mean that the plan of God had failed.  See Romans 9:6a.

 

6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,

 

Here’s why.  God’s sovereign plan election never included salvation based on ethnicity.  See Romans 9:6b-7.

 

For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.”

 

As a matter of fact, Romans 9:10-12 told us that God’s sovereign plan of election had always meant salvation that was initiated by God’s grace.  God chose Isaac and not Ishmael.   God chose Jacob and not Esau.  God chose Moses and not Pharaoh.  See Romans 9:10-15.

 

10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (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), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”  14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”

 

So, does God’s sovereign plan of election mean that God is not fair?  Certainly, there were some in the Roman Church who felt that way.  However, Paul rebuked their line of questioning.  See Romans 9:18-21.

 

18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.  19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

 

And that brings us to today and the end of Romans 9, and this question, “Does God’s sovereign plan of election include Gentiles?”  The answer is a resounding yes.

 

 

  1. God’s sovereign plan of election has always included some Gentiles, Romans 9:25-26.

25 As He says also in Hosea:

 

“I will call them My people, who were not My people,

And her beloved, who was not beloved.”

26 “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,

‘You are not My people,’

There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

 

In 9:25, Paul took the Roman Believers back to the OT and Hosea 2, and applied Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10 to Gentiles.  The Gentiles were not God’s people, but they would become God’s people.   

 

That which was true then is true today and has been for some time.  Consider these saved Gentiles from the OT.  Remember Rahab?  Her story is in Joshua 2, but we know of her salvation from her inclusion in Hebrews 11:31. 

 

31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

 

What about Ruth?  We know of her story in the book that bears her name and her inclusion as one of God’s chosen from Matthew 1:5-10 and the genealogy of Christ. 

 

Then we have the Ninevites of the book of Jonah.  Jonah 3:5 says after hearing Jonah’s sermon, these Ninevites were saved.

 

5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.

 

Therefore, God’s sovereign plan of election has always included some Gentiles.

 

 

  1. God’s sovereign plan of election has always included some Jews, Romans 9:27-29.

27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:

 

“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,

The remnant will be saved.

28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness,

Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.”

 

29 And as Isaiah said before:

 

“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed,

We would have become like Sodom,

And we would have been made like Gomorrah.”

 

That is right.  I didn’t say all Jews because that is not what the Scriptures say.  Next, Paul turned to Isaiah, and he pointed out that Isaiah was talking specifically about the nation of Israel as he quoted Isaiah 10:22-23 in Romans 9:27-28. 

 

Notice what he said.  Though the actual number of Jews is like the sand of the sea, only a remnant will be saved, and we know from earlier in this same chapter that the remnant flows down from Abraham through Isaac and through Jacob and his direct descendants.  However, please understand that it is not ethnicity that is saving anyone, but faith in Jehovah God and Jesus Christ that saves.

 

Paul again quoted Isaiah in Romans 9:29. He quoted Isaiah 1:9 and said it has been the posterity or the seed or the remnant that has kept God from destroying the nation of Israel all together considering their infidelity. 

 

Therefore, again, Paul’s point is that God’s sovereign plan of election includes some Gentiles and some Jews.

  • God’s sovereign plan of election has always required individuals to be saved by grace through faith in Christ, Romans 9:30-33.

30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 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. 33 As it is written:

 

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,

And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

 

If I were to do a random survey of residents of Emory or students at Rains High School or anywhere for that matter, most people believe they can earn their way to heaven.  In other words, they believe that salvation is based on their morality or good works. 

 

That mindset originated with the nation of Israel.  They thought they could earn their salvation by keeping the OT law.  Verses 30-33 tells us that God’s righteousness is only credited to those individuals who receive Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as Lord and Savior as he applied a two verses from Isaiah to the Lord Jesus. 

 

 

Applications and Conclusions

So what does all this mean for us today?  Like the messages previously from Romans 9, here again I think it is imperative that you and I foster and demonstrate an attitude of gratitude to God for including Gentiles in His plan of salvation.  He didn’t have to do that but did so out of His abundant mercy.

 

Secondly, I hope that we understand that the God’s sovereign plan of election is sure.  It has not failed.  It is perfect for us and brings ultimate glory to Him.  We may not understand it, but we must affirm it as truly biblical as seen in Acts 13:43-49.

 

43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

 

44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us:

 

‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,

That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

 

48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

 

49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.

 

Finally, I hope we understand that the Scriptures are unified.  There is not a God of the OT and a different God for the NT.  There is not a way of salvation in the OT and a different way in the NT.  There is not God’s Plan A in the OT and His Plan B in the NT.  Scripture is unified and consistent from cover to cover and its message is that Jesus saves.  I ask you today, will you call on the name of the Lord and be saved?

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