Article for August 6, 2023
Romans 9:1–2 1I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
The great sorrow and aguish that Paul is speaking of is the defeat of his people Israel. It is a defeat that they have brought upon themselves. Yet again, the people Israel have turned their face from the Word of God as the Christ is now amongst them. Not that the people Israel are now worshiping idols again, but that they have lost the meaning of the True Church.
There are two churches described in many words that exist in the New Testament. The True Church of true believers, and the visual church which is the church ruled by the flesh and or the law. The True Church understands the Gospel, the visual church is the self-righteous who feel they are deserving of God’s grace and mercy on their own merit.
Those who believe in the Gospel know that we do not merit God’s mercy and grace. The True Church knows it is through God’s love and Christ’s works on the cross that God gave us His mercy and grace. The visual church, like that of the Pharisees, believed that you merit God’s mercy and grace through good works and following God’s law.
We know that we cannot do enough good works, and that we fail daily to follow God’s laws so that we can never merit God’s mercy and grace. This is explained very well in the “Commentary on Romans, by Philip Melanchthon, pages 185-194.” This is a problem for the visual church as they can not feel a salvation for them in that their lives would be better. This also prevents them from believing the savior has come to them. The visual church thought life would turn perfect for the Jews only.
Romans 9:3–5 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, Is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
For the worship leaders of the people Israel thought that they were the True Church. The reasoning that the Pharisees and other leaders used was that they descended from Abraham whom the covenant of God was made with, and the covenant was for the Jews only. The people Israel is the first to be adopted into being the people of God. Our adoption as Christians came second.
We sometimes make the same mistake when we say we were born Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, etc.… In truth just because you have the blood of Abraham running through your veins does not make you a true believer. Likewise, if your parents belong to a particular denomination, you too may not be a true believer. This was Paul’s great sorrow, that all his people were not true believers. This too is the sorrow we all suffer, that not all church goers are true believers.
As many carry the name Jew, not all are true Jews, and as many carry the name Christian, not all are true Christians. So then how does one know that they are a true believer? That they chose to believe? Or, that they do believe. Your belief came from the Holy Spirit, and this is not by your works but through the works of the Holy Spirit working God’s word in you. (Read Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 2:12; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8,9 & Galatians 5:16-25)
Romans 9:6–7 6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
As it is in Christianity, there are those who belong to the True Church and there are those who just belong to the visual church. In saying this all the people of Israel, the first chosen of God, are not condemned as some were led by the Holy Spirit to be True Believers and therefore are also part of the True Church.
Romans 9:8–9 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.”
We, in the flesh, cannot in any way choose or give ourselves salvation. We cannot earn our salvation through our works or following the law. God is the one who chooses who will be saved and who will not. God even explains through His word how we are saved and that it is those who believe in His Holy Gospel that will be saved.
Romans 9:10–13 10And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call— 12she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
God hated Esau because He sold His birth right to his brother for the sake of his hunger and therefore pleasing his flesh and not his spirit. Jesus Christ gave up His flesh for the sake of His Father and for our sake as well giving us His Holy Spirit.
Jesus went back to the Father after His resurrection and then sent His Holy Spirit to search out and claim all who will believe. Not that we have anything to boast in ourselves, but that we have much to boast about in our God who created us, who died and lived for us, who saves us daily from our wretched lives to give us a life of joy through eternal life with our God. Amen.
Written by Pastor Curtis A. May