We realize how God presents Christ to us, and how that presentation offends everything that is in the natural heart. Men are willing to accept a Jesus of their own description, but they refuse the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible. — Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960).
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Vol. II - Chapter 4 - Rom. 9:24-33
Vol. II — Chapter 4 — Romans 9: 24 — 33
THE CALLING OF THE ELECT AND THE
REALIZATION OF GOD’S PURPOSE
(24) Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (25) As he said also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved; which was not beloved. (26) And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. (27) Isaiah also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: (28) for he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. (29) And as Isaiah said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorah. (30) What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith. (31) But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (32) Wherefore? Because they sought it not 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 whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. The Jew is not Abraham’s seed (John 8:39). The dispensationalists, many premillennialists, and even some postmillennialists, are in serious error when they teach that the inheritance was to Abraham as such or to the Jew as such (Rom. 2:28). The Scripture is clear that the inheritance is to Christ and to Christ alone. Based on the Word of God we state without reservation the seed is not the Jew but the Seed is Christ as Gal. 3:16 states: “And to thy seed, which is Christ,” and to those and those only who are Christ’s spiritual children (Gal. 3:29.
Charles D. Alexander stated, “In pursuance of this sovereign purpose to glorifying Christ and give Him a seed in which He, the Eternal Son should be eternally glorified and satisfied (see Isa. Chapter 53), the Father in due time sent the Son according to promise, to be the Saviour of the world (1 John 4:14). That means, God sent Christ not only to be the Saviour of one race of men who were the natural descendants of Abraham, but to be for salvation to the ends of the earth, in a Kingdom of Grace which should know no boundaries, ethnic or geographic, but be composed of an election of grace drawn from every kindred, tongue, nation and clime.”
The dispensational claim that after an experiment in this realm God will return again for the working out of His purpose of glorifying His Son, to the narrow limits of one nation composed of those who claim natural descent from Abraham, is absolutely abhorrent to the New Testament, and a total denial of the true spiritual nature of the Kingdom Christ came to establish. Likewise, it is abhorrent to the Old Testament prophets, when these prophets are correctly, Scripturally understood.
The Jewish nation served a temporary purpose in the plan of our Sovereign God as they were privileged to bear the ordinances, exhibit the covenant, and be custodian of the Word of God, until the time when our Lord Christ came. The earthly nation was never a converted people. In no generation were there very many of them that were the true spiritual children of Abraham — the children of God. The same is true of the Jewish people today. The Jews in Israel are for the most part an agnostic. The Word of God and the Kingdom of God have been taken from them and given to an elect spiritual nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (See Matt. 21:43 and 1 Pet. 2:9).
Verse 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? “Even us, whom he hath called.” It is amazing that the blinded and determined Dispensationalists would even stress earthly blessings which they claim is promised to natural Israel here in the 9th through the 11th chapter of our epistle. Oh, the lengths to which man is ready to go to forward his theories. Paul has nothing to say about any restoration to land or of any nationality enjoying special rights and privileges. Hitherto he has shown that the promise is spiritual and was never made or meant for the carnal seed of Abraham (Heb. 3:1). It was to the called, and faith is the complement of effectual calling, which begins in God’s call, and ends in the trembling sinner’s answer to His call (John 6:37). Our Lord draws with His call the poor humbled sinner that knows not how to come, is not able to come, or dares not to come; yet, in the day of our Lord’s quickening and enabling power, the sinner comes (Psa. 110:3; John 6:45).
“Not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” Here Paul tells us plainly who are the true seed of Abraham, and the children of the promise, even the elect, the called of God. The true Seed of Abraham is Christ, and all who by grace are in Him, whether Jew or Gentile. (Read Gal. 3:16 & 29).
Describing what the apostle means when he uses the term “calling” Herman Hoeksema said, “With him the word usually denotes all that work of God whereby a sinner who is dead in sin and misery is translated out of death into life and out of darkness into light. Whatever is implied in that marvelous change whereby the natural man, alienated from God, who hates God and walks according to the lusts of the flesh, becomes a living child of God in Christ Jesus, believing on Him, possessing the forgiveness of sin in His blood, having an earnest desire to walk in all good works to the glory of Him that called us out of darkness into His marvelous light — all this is ascribed by the apostle Paul to the calling.” It certainly is not a mere invitation. This calling is efficacious. It is a calling and bringing a spiritually dead Lazarus out of his spiritual grave (John 1:43-44; 5:25).
Verse 25 As he saith also in O-see, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. The apostle Paul’s doctrine that the Jewish phase of the Divine dealing has passed from the earthly nation to a new spiritual nation composed of Jew and Gentile indifferent as to birth, and irrelevant as to genealogical descent, is reinforced by a series of quotes that Paul took from the prophets. In these Paul shows the validity of Gentile salvation outside the law and the nation of Israel, plus, he lays down the New Testament rule of prophetic interpretation used by our Lord and His apostles. This rule is the spiritualization of Israel into its final form as the Church of Jew and Gentile. This is set forth clearly as Paul quotes Hosea 2:23 in this verse and Hosea 1:10 in our following verse. In these two verses that Paul quotes He tell us that the elect, the spiritual children of Abraham, the true Church made up of regenerated Jew and Gentile, are called to three things: (1) A calling of those that are not God’s people unto the state of their being the children of God. (2) A calling of those that were not beloved into the relation of the beloved of God. (3) A calling of those that were positively said to be no people of God unto sonship of the living God.
Hosea is proclaiming in his prophetic message that, “Now there came in the twilight years of the Dual Kingdom of Israel and Judah, when the two were hastening on to the awful calamities which befell them in the day of the kings of Assyria and Babylon, a period of tremendous prophetic activity. . . . Hosea began where the Song of Solomon left off. Israel, the bride of the Lord is about to be beaten in the streets of the city (Song of Sol. 5:2-7). She wakens in the dark night of her soul to despise the voice of Christ. She wanders into the streets. The watchmen — the prophets of the Lord — find her and chastise her with words of solemn denunciation and warning. Her veil is taken away. That judgment overtakes her which is only a prelude to the greater judgment when in fact the Heavenly Bridegroom comes to earth, is despised and rejected, comes to His own but His own receive Him not, is crucified and slain, and through His death of deaths and glorious resurrection brings in a new order. The Church enters the full blaze of the Gospel day. She is released from the bondage of dead works and identification with the rotting corpse of carnal Israel, and emerges from the tomb, raised again with Christ, a new and holy people, endowed with all the promised graces and mercies which the old Israel despised. THE CHURCH IS THE LAWFUL SUCCESSOR OF ISRAEL: INDEED SHE IS THE TRUE AND ONLY ISRAEL THOUGH COMPOSED FOR THE MOST PART OF THAT ELECT SEED FROM THE GENTILES WHICH TRACES NO NATURAL DESCENT FROM ABRAHAM. Her words are, ‘Doubtless thou art our father though Abraham be ignorant of us and Israel acknowledge us not’ (Isa. 63:16).” (Charles D. Alexander).
Charles D. Alexander continues, “Hosea’s Marriage That Never Was. After Solomon in his mystic and mysterious Song of Songs, Hosea takes up the theme. He becomes in himself, the bridegroom, just as Solomon before him. He speaks in the name of Christ; is involved in marriage with a mystic woman who is an adulteress. That woman is earthly Israel. The children of the adulterous wife, who are born to the prophet in spirit, are the descendants of Abraham according to the flesh. They are given the names Jezreel, Lo Ammi and Lo Ruhamah to denote their utter and final rejection. Jezreel, with slight modifications of the Hebrew orthography, is Israel, as anyone acquainted with the language sees at a glance. Jezreel is associated with the apostasy of Ahab, the destruction of his house by Jehu, and the appalling failure of Jehu’s house, now to be judged in its turn in the person of its last representative, Jeroboam II, who was on the throne at the time Hosea began to prophesy (Hos. 1:1). Lo Ammi means, as the chapter explains, ‘Not my people.’ Lo Ruhamah is ‘not beloved,’ or ‘no object of mercy.’ The last two verses of Hosea one are a vision of the true Israel expanded into a number which cannot be measured (Rev. 7:9). Paul spiritualizes this in Romans 9 and says it is the election of grace, Jew and Gentile.”
That, dear reader, is the meaning of Hosea and the meaning that Paul is setting before us in our passage in Romans chapter 9. Let the literalists wrestle with these passages in Hosea, and ponder over the Divine commentary upon it here in Romans 9:24-26. Let them humbly face the conclusion, and accept the downfall of their prophetic edifice, for the true Israel which is to be restored even as the sands of the sea for multitude is not the earthly Israel, but the Heavenly, the Church of the Redeemed, Jew and Gentile together (1 Peter 2:9-10). In Hosea the adulterous wife is the earthly people. Hosea has proclaimed that with them God breaks the marriage and divorces the wicked earthly nation, and there appears in her place the true Bride, the mystic Israel, the Church of the Redeemed and Firstborn.
Verse 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. The apostle shows that this calling of the Gentiles was not by chance, but it was by the eternal purpose of our sovereign God. This firm decree of His mind He had largely revealed to the prophets: and by the Jews opposing the calling of the Gentiles, they, in effect, renounced their prophets and in so doing, fought against God Himself. The calling of the elect Gentiles is prophesied throughout the Old Testament. The Jewish nation was typically the spouse of God, but when the Messiah came, He revealed His true seed and called her beloved which was not beloved — the Gentiles (Eph. 2:11-13). Though the descendants of Abraham number millions, only a remnant — a small number — are included in the true Israel of God. The Jews had the foolish idea that all of Abraham’s natural descendants were the people of God. When our Lord Christ came and they rejected Him (John 1:10-11), after hundreds of years of the Lord acting in much long-suffering with them in their idolatry and rebellion, God made short work of them and has blinded them to this day.
The elect were not the people of God. They lived in idolatry and practiced false religion, idolatrous worship; but by the free grace and effectual calling of God they became children of the living God; in opposition to their idol gods and lifeless deities (1 Thes. 1:9; 1 John 3:1:3). As John Gill stated, “The chosen of God among the Gentiles, were from all eternity predestinated to the adoption of children; this blessing was provided, laid up, and secured for them, in the covenant of grace; in this relation of children were they given to Christ, and under this consideration of them did he partake of the same flesh and blood with them, and died, to gather them together, who were scattered abroad in the several parts of the world; and because they were antecedently sons by adopting grace, therefore the Spirit of God in effectual calling is sent down into their hearts to bear witness to their spirits, that they are the children of the living God, and to work faith in their souls to believe it; by which grace they receive this blessing, as all others, even the right and privilege of being the children of God; by this they claim it, and enjoy the comfort of it; and so are manifestly, both to themselves and others, the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus; though this will more clearly appear another day, than it does now.”
Verse 27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. The apostle now quotes from Isaiah as he travels through that great book as led by the Holy Ghost to tell us that it was always the subject of prophecy that Israel would be rejected as a nation — it was never the purpose of God to call the whole nation — a remnant only of them saved, and the Gentiles admitted in their stead, to eternal salvation in Christ as promised in Abraham. It was Hosea who laid the foundation for all the writing prophets when he gave us the definition of Israel; as the key to all that the subsequent writers have to say upon the same theme. These quotations from Isaiah at the end of this 9th chapter of Romans confirm the calling of the elect nation, Jew and Gentile, on an equal footing, as the true Israel of God.
The Holy Ghost is telling us that, in gathering the elect, from Jew and Gentile, He calls the vessels of mercy. He rejects the nation of Israel as such, and calls, not the nation, for Isaiah has told us that God should pass by the vast majority of the Jews, and save only a remnant, or a few of them (Isa. 1:9;10:20-23). Paul is showing that God did not own as His those who had no God-given faith and true piety; and that no promise that He had made to the fathers included unbelievers, and certainly did not bind God to save those who lived and died in sin.
The prophecy in Isa. 10:22 of Israel’s “return” cannot be regarded as a return to the land or as an earthly resettlement in the land after captivity or scattering among the nations, for in the apostle’s interpretation by the Spirit for “return” he uses the word “saved” which he repeatedly did in a spiritual sense, he supplies the meaning of what God said through the prophet; that is, when God said they should “return,” He meant they should be “saved.” None can be saved except those who “return to Thee with all their heart and with all their soul” (2 Chron. 6:38), for “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
Verse 28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. These words are taken from Isa. 10:22b-23 and from them Paul is proving that the relation between God and Israel as a nation are severed and can never be restored. The words plainly teach that God will finish a work — He will terminate His relationship with Israel as a nation by sending destruction upon her as a nation. He will finish His work with her, bring it to an end, and cut it short. When the Lord will finish His work with the Jews as a nation, this end will be final; the case will be closed and His dealing with the nation of Israel will be terminated forever. Israel as a nation shall not be restored. The termination of His relation with Israel will be in “righteousness.” The Jews have filled up the cup of God’s wrath, the measure of His iniquity (see Job 21:20; Isa. 51:17; Rev. 14:10). They stoned and killed the prophets that were sent to her. They revealed the hardness of their hearts when the Chief Prophet came to earth. They fulfilled all their evil will upon Christ, rejected Him, and nailed Him to a bloody tree. They clearly manifested their love of darkness and hatred of light. And the blood of all the prophets, from righteous Abel on, shall lie upon their heads (see Matt. 23:29-36). God will finish the work and cut it off in righteousness.
Verse 29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and had been made like unto Gomorrha. “As Esaias said before;” in Isa. 1:9. “The Lord of Sabaoth;” or, of hosts: the mighty God, whose host all creatures are, which execute His will, as soldiers the will of their commander. “Had left us a seed,” an elect remnant, a small number. This is the little, chosen flock taken out of the vast number. How the elect rejoice in the doctrine of election for had it not been for God’s choosing to save a people, neither Jew nor Gentile would escape the wrath to come (Lamen. 3:22). We would have all been destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pet 2:6).
“The meaning of these passages quoted from Isaiah is plain. The remnant according to the election of God had always been the true Israel, the spiritual seed of Abraham, in the old dispensation; and when they are saved, the Word of God is not fallen out, but wholly realized. They are not all Israel that are of Israel. The Jews as such are not the people of God. Indeed there was no difference between Israel as a nation and Sodom and Gomorrah if it had not been for the remnant which the Lord always preserved.
“The theme of the chapter is now fully developed. The Word of God is not become of none effect. Not all are true children of the promise because they are of the natural seed of Abraham. The children of the promise are counted for the seed. And these are the elect. For God is sovereign in His love of Jacob and His hatred of Esau. He is merciful to whom He will be merciful, and whom He will He hardens. When, therefore, in the new dispensation His dealings with Israel as a nation are terminated, and the nation is rejected; when, moreover, a large number of the natural descendants of Abraham are lost; and when God calls the vessels of mercy into His Kingdom and covenant, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles, He surely fulfilled the promise and realized His every word. The calling of the elect is the calling of the true seed of Abraham of all ages!” (Herman Hoeksema).
Verse 30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. From these passages in Isaiah that Paul quotes in verses 30-33he teaches, that the Gentiles have attained to the blessings of free justification by God-wrought faith (Isa. 65:1; Eph. 2:12), while the earthly Israel has fallen on the stumbling stone of Christ’s righteousness imputed to all true believers. You will notice how Paul proves everything by appeal to the Old Testament Scriptures. Yet the futurists school of thought tells us that the Church is not found in O. T. prophesy! Many become very offended when we show from the Scriptures that there is not to be expected a special future for the Jewish nation, maintain that in this day there is no difference between Jew and Gentile (Rom. 3:22) — that only those are saved who are called through God’s powerful, effectual, irresistible calling out of darkness into His marvelous light that gives a poor sinner the saving knowledge of our precious Lord Christ, bringing him into the fellowship of Jesus Christ and into one elect body, the Church.
“What shall we say then?” — What is the fair conclusion we draw from these Scriptures or the real state of the matter? How is it that Gentiles obtain, while Israelites are excluded from, the Messianic blessings? “The Gentiles” — the elect Gentiles — the persons referred to in verse 24 as the “called of the Gentiles” — from out of the Gentile world to blessings of the Gospel and salvation in Christ. They “followed not after righteousness” — they did not seek justification or a reconciled relationship with God. They did not seek a state of favor with God. Their living was one of gross evil, wickedness and recklessness. They “knew not God.” They could not, therefore, desire or seek His favor. They lived as they wished, in gross corruption as described in the latter part of the first chapter of this epistle. There was “none that understood or did seek God.” They were seeking anything rather than righteousness or favor of God. “Have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith.” The undeserving, ill-deserving Gentiles, yet, chosen back in eternity by God, called by the Holy Ghost and redeemed by Christ the Lord have obtained, through the riches of God’s grace and mercy, when they were not seeking or pursuing after righteousness in any sense of the word, by the power of God’s Spirit were enabled to believe, and thus have attained unto righteousness, not in any wise by their own merits, but solely by believing in Him, who justifies the ungodly (Isa. 65:1).
Verse 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Israel had all the advantages, the Law and the prophets, and sought acceptance with God, but attained it not. The Jews did have the Law preached to them and they claimed to follow that Law (in the letter, but not in spirit), did not attain to the Law of God’s righteousness, or Gospel righteousness. What the Jews did not attain in the letter of the Law, the elect Gentiles received in the Gospel of grace through faith. The reason was that the Jews sought righteousness by works and not by the grace of God, by the works of the Law and not by true faith in Christ (Rom. 10:2). In the Jews estimation it was highly desirable to attain and possess the favor of Jehovah. They sought to obtain it, but not God’s way, the only true way, of obtaining it (Gal. 3:21). The elect were led by the Spirit in obtaining it, but the great body of the Jews missed it for they sought it by works, missed Christ, and remained in a state of condemnation (Gal. 3:10-11).
Israel sought to be saved by the rule of righteousness, but they fell short of the rule of righteousness due to their sinful nature (Gal. 5:3-4). The defect was in the fallen human heart, not in the Holy Law of God (James 2:10-11). Great engagement in outward duties of religion, in quest of righteousness — justification — does not secure forgiveness of sins and acceptance and favor with God. Until the guilty soul turns away from everything else to Christ alone as the Way, the Truth and the Life, the religion of such a one leaves them in fatal error. All is fatal error until Christ and His imputed righteousness are savingly embraced. Charles Hodge said, “Error is often a greater obstacle to the salvation of men then carelessness or vice. Christ said the publicans and harlots would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before the Pharisees. . . . Let no man think error in doctrine a slight practical evil. No road to perdition has ever been more thronged than that of false doctrine. Error is a shield over the conscience, and a bandage over the eyes” (1 John 4:1-6).
Verse 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone. Faith was an anathema to the Jews for they, in their pride, felt that they could gain favor of God in the energies of the flesh, in their own self-righteousness. They thought that they were qualified for the benefits of God’s covenant because of their birth and their own deeds. And they thought they could obtain the Divine favor by obedience to the requirements of the letter of the Law, and not a living, vital, saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 5:9-12). In their religious zeal they missed Christ. They rejected the Son of God (1 Cor. 1:23). A gratuitous salvation is always an offence to those who desire to earn it by their own efforts (Matt. 13:57). Our Precious Lord Christ, whom the saints regard as the chief corner stone, became to the rebellious Jews a stumbling stone (1 Pet. 6-8). In the words of Charles Hodge, “No form of error is more destructive than that which leads to self-dependence; either reliance on our own powers, or on our own merit.”
The subject of our chapter is that God is manifesting and performing His sovereign purpose to save the children of purpose and to harden the rest. Wicked Israel refused to put their trust in Jehovah, and rather put their confidence in men. They “stumbled at that stumblingstone.” They refused to believe the Word of God and mocked His prophets. They sought a way of obtaining the Divine favor by obedience to the requisitions of the Law of Moses; reject Christ and the Gospel concerning Him that set Him forth as the propitiation through faith in His blood. They pursued a way of justification, as if the way had been by working, not by true believing. They stumbled and fell, and were broken. The stone is the true Messiah, and their mistaken views with respect to Him were the cause of their coming short — their mistaken views as to the blessings He was to procure, the manner in which He was to procure them, the persons for whom they were to be procured, and the way in which these elect persons were to obtain possession of them. They stumbled at that stumbling stone of whom the prophets spake — “that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). They were offended by His words and ashamed of His Cross (1 Cor. 1:23).
Our Lord Christ Himself tells them that He Himself is this Stone. “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matt. 21:42-44). Reference was made to this Stone in Psa. 118:22 and 1 Peter 2:6-8.
Verse 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Here Paul quotes from two passages from Isaiah, 28:16 and 8:14. These passages are direct predictions of the Messiah and show that He came in exact accordance with what “the prophets had foretold of these days’ (Acts 3:24); so that what might seem to the Jews to discredit true Christianity, actually confirmed it. Matthew Poole remarks, “Jesus Christ is properly a corner-stone, elect and precious; but accidently and eventually a stumbling-stone (Luke 2:34).” Every human being born must have an encounter with Him who is the divider of mankind. Those who are not joined to Him in a vital, living, saving way and find Him to be their Rock of refuge, must stumble and experience condemnation and judgment. This Rock is the Person of Christ (1 Pet. 2:6-8), “whosoever believeth on Him” — the Messiah, “shall not be ashamed” — shall obtain in Him all that a poor sinner needs and desires.
“I lay in Sion” — Zion. It is God that lays this foundation stone which is the corner-stone of the foundation of the Church of Christ our Lord. This building is Zion, and in the New Testament this Zion is the Church of the living God (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:3-5). Zion is spoken of in Psa. 125:1 as God’s spiritual Kingdom which is all who savingly trust the Lord Christ. Also, Gal. 4:26 make it undisputable — crystal clear — that Zion is the true Church of our Lord. These elect vessels did not follow after righteousness at all but God was merciful to them, according to His eternal good pleasure, awakened them to their lost condition, bestowed upon them saving faith, ingrafted them into Christ, and justified them by means of the faith that He Himself sovereignly bestowed on them.
“Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” To believe on Him is to know Him as the sinners Substitute. It is to place all of our confidence in Him only for our salvation. It is to cry, “though He slay me yet will I trust Him.” In Him is our redemption, the forgiveness of sin, righteousness before God, true liberty, deliverance from the power of sin and death, eternal life and glory. As Herman Hoeksema well says, “And to believe on Him is to know Him in this fulness of spiritual blessings, to know Him, not merely with a natural, intellectual knowledge, which anyone may acquire by reading the Bible, but with a true, spiritual knowledge, rooted in the heart, the knowledge of love, which makes us hunger and thirst for Him as the Bread and the Water of Life, turn to Him with our emptiness that He may fill it, with our sin that He may purge it away, with our corruption that He may deliver us from its power, with our death that He may quicken us by the grace of His good Spirit: it is to know Him with a knowledge which causes us to appropriate Him and all His benefits.”
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 9:24-33.
Verse 24. Those that never came to be sensible of their poverty and utter emptiness of all good; for so long as a man hath a penny in his purse, that is, feels any good in himself, he will never come a-begging unto Jesus Christ, and therefore rests in himself. Now, didst thou never feel thyself in this manner poor, viz., I am as ignorant as any beast, as vile as any devil. O Lord, what a nest and litter of sin and rebellion lurk in my heart! I once thought at least my heart and desires were good, but now I feel no spiritual life. O dead heart! I am the poorest, vilest, basest, and blindest creature that ever lived. If thou dost not thus feel thyself poor, thou never camest out of thy duties; for when the Lord bringeth any man to Christ, He brings him empty, that so He may make him beholding to Christ for every farthing token. — Thomas Shepard (1605-1649).
Let us inquire what obligation this puts upon us — that God from all eternity, out of His mere sovereign grace, should first choose us to life and salvation by Jesus Christ, decreeing immutably to save us out of the perishing multitude of mankind — from whom we could not make ourselves in the least to differ. . . He who is not sensible that an apprehension of God’s electing love has a natural immediate and powerful influence upon the souls of believers, to the love of God and holy obedience, is utterly unacquainted with the whole nature and actings of faith. — John Owen (1616-1683).
How may I be sure that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? We answer, very briefly. First, by God’s having taught you to see and brought you to feel your inward corruption, your personal vileness, your awful guilt, your dire need of the sacrifice of the Lamb. Second, by causing you to make Christ of first importance in your thoughts and estimation, perceiving that He alone can save you. Third, by bringing you to believe in Him, rest your whole soul upon Him, desiring to be found in Him, not having your own righteousness, but His. Fourth, by making Him infinitely precious to you, so that He is all your desire. Fifth, by working in you a determination to please and glorify Him. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Verse 25. What a vital, ravishing, overpowering efficacy is in that voice of faith. Let it but look back a few years, and compare what it was with what it is now. It was far off; it is now made nigh (Eph. 12-13). It was not [sensibly] beloved, but is now beloved (Rom. 9:25-26). It had not obtained mercy, but now hath obtained mercy (1 Pet. 2:10). Or let the assured soul look forward, and compare what it now is and hath with what it shortly shall be made and put in possess of. We know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2) — John Flavel (1628-1691).
“I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn you” (Jer. 31:3); “I will call them, My people, which were not My people; and her, Beloved, which was not beloved” (Rom. 9:25). It should be quite evident to every candid reader that if we are to avoid a contradiction in the interpretation in those two passages we must make a distinction in the interpretation of them, that in them the love of God is viewed in entirely different aspects. In other words, we must ascertain the precise meaning of the terms used. The former speaks of His paternal love or good-will towards them, the latter of His judicial favor or love of acceptance; the one concerns His eternal counsels, the other relates to His dealings with us in a time state. The former is His love of philanthropy or benevolence, the latter of His love of approbation. The one has to do with His loving us in Christ, the other with His loving us for our own sakes — because of what the Holy Spirit wrought in us at regeneration and conversion. The one concerns our predestination, the other our reconciliation. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
St. Paul teaches us about the eternal providence of God. It is the original source which determines who would believe and who wouldn't, who can be set free from sin and who cannot. Such matters have been taken out of our hands and are put into God's hands so that we might become virtuous. It is absolutely necessary that it be so, for we are so weak and unsure of ourselves that, if it depended on us, no human being would be saved. The devil would overpower all of us. But God is steadfast; his providence will not fail, and no one can prevent its realization. Therefore we have hope against sin. — Martin Luther (1483-1546).
Verse 26. If our opponents would only discard their prejudices for a moment and consider in these terms the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out, they would discover the true wealth of the Word of God and preaching would be transformed. God’s people would no longer get stones for bread, or the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper as exposition of that Divine revelation which the surface and literal theologians are incapable of understanding. — Charles D. Alexander (1904-1991).
Quick work this! The LORD hears us before we call and often answers us in the same speedy manner. Foreseeing our needs and our prayers, He so arranges providence that before the need actually arises He has supplied it, before the trial assails us He has armed us against it. This is the promptitude of omniscience, and we have often seen it exercised. Before we dreamed of the affliction which was coming, the strong consolation which was to sustain us under it had arrived. What a prayer-answering God we have! The second clause suggests the telephone. Though God be in heaven and we upon earth, yet He makes our word, like His own word, to travel very swiftly, When we pray aright we speak into the ear of God. Our gracious Mediator presents our petitions at once, and the great Father hears them and smiles upon them. Grand praying this! Who would not be much in prayer when he knows that he has the ear of the King of kings? This day I will pray in faith, not only believing that I shall be heard, but that I am heard; not only that I shall be answered, but that I have the answer already. Holy Spirit, help me in this! — C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892).
A Christian is not one who by searching has found out God, but one whom God has found. — T. T. Shields (1873-1955).
Rather than find fault with God for His altogether righteous dealings with certain Hell-deserving sinners, let us adore Him for His eternal, gracious, saving love for others just as deserving of damnation. — R. B. Kuiper (1886-1966).
Verse 27. These quotations from Isaiah are introduced to confirm the principle laid down by the Apostle in verse 6, “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel’ (Isa. 1:9; 10:22-23). His description of Israel as exclaiming, and not speaking, is deliberately intended to arouse greater attention. The words of the prophet are plainly designed to prevent the Jews from boasting excessively in the flesh. It is a terrible thing to learn that only a small number out of an incalculable multitude shall obtain salvation. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
Man is not converted because he wills to be, but he wills to be because he is ordained to election. — Augustine (354-430).
Every departure from the doctrine of election in any degree has been a departure from the Gospel, for such departure always involves the introduction of some obligation on man’s part to make a contribution towards his own salvation, a contribution he simply cannot make. — Arthur C. Constance.
Thou didst seek us when we sought Thee not; didst seek us indeed that we might seek Thee. — Augustine (354-430).
Verse 28. Sometimes God’s patience with a man or community is worn out, and then in anger and in righteousness He cuts short the work, and gives them over to ruin as swift as it is just. When He does this He “makes quick dispatch with carnal men,” and the flood of His wrath sweeps them away as in a moment. The suddenness and overwhelming nature of the wrath that comes upon the incorrigible are often stated in Scripture, Prov. 29:1; 1 Thes. 5:3). — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
If only a remnant of the Jewish Church, God’s own people, were saved, how careful and solicitous should all professors of religion be, that their faith and hope be well founded. — Charles Hodge (1797-1878).
The reality of God’s wrath is as much a part of the Biblical message as is God’s grace. — Leighton Ford.
The heart rebels against being told that it is in a position where it can do nothing for itself, indeed, that anything it seeks to do only takes it farther away from God. This, God reveals, is a stumbling block over which men trip and fall, even into outer darkness forever. — Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960).
Verse 29. There is a scripture that hath often affected my heart (Rom. 9:29): “And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and had been made like unto Gomorrha.” It is spoken of election; he had discoursed of it in that chapter. And what is that seed there? It is plainly a reserve, a relic or remnant. And that speech in Rom. 11:5 of a “remnant according to the election of grace” — is all one with that “seed” there. O! my brethren, if God had not taken such a remnant, not Israel only, but all mankind, had been like unto Sodom and Gomorrah. Not a man, woman, and child in Sodom and Gomorrah were rescued but whom God took out — Lot and his family. Therefore, say I, bless God for election. We had been undone else to a man. And shall not this affect us? O! despise not election. Therein lies all our hope, that there is a remnant that shall infallibly be saved. — Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680).
This is a transliteration of the Old Testament title for God, the Lord of Hosts. To the poetic imagination of the Hebrews, with their knowledge of the omnipresent reigning God, the regularity and order everywhere apparent suggested an army in vast, numerous and varied divisions, acting under the command of one will. The Lord of Hosts, He is the King, who alone commands. — John D. Davis (1854-1926).
Actually the doctrine of election, very far from being a harsh and cruel doctrine, is a cause for rejoicing, for had it not been for God’s choosing to save a people, neither Jew nor Gentile would escape the wrath to come. We would have all been destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah. — Henry Mahan (b. 1926).
The passage strictly proves what Paul designed to establish, viz.: that the Jews, as Jews, were as much exposed to God’s judgments as others, and consequently could lay no special claim to admission into the Kingdom of Heaven. — Charles Hodge (1797-1878).
We realize how God presents Christ to us, and how that presentation offends everything that is in the natural heart. Men are willing to accept a Jesus of their own description, but they refuse the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible. — Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960).
Just where does the Scripture say this? Paul is apparently quoting here from Isaiah 28:16, which is the following: "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste."
The question is: Why did Paul change the Hebrew word for "make haste" to the Greek word for "be ashamed"? He did the same thing in Romans 9:33. "As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed." This verse makes the question even more involved, because here Paul combines the quote with Isaiah 8:14: "And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence." Note also 1 Peter 2:6-8, which combines both verses with Psalm 118:22: "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner."
The Greek Septuagint translation apparently rendered "make haste" (which is the correct meaning of the Hebrew word, as confirmed by all its other uses in the Old Testament) by a Greek word meaning something like "put to shame." More importantly, however, these passages illustrate the truth that the Holy Spirit (the real Author of the Bible) has a perfect right to interpret His writing however He will. And He interpreted "make haste" to mean "be ashamed."
That is, when we believe on Christ, we never need to flee in haste from His enemies, for we can never be put to shame when anchored on this sure foundation. As the Lord said in another passage: "They shall not be ashamed that wait for me" (Isaiah 49:23). — Henry Morris (1918-2002).