Monday in the Eighteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 9:14-33

God’s Sovereign Plan

Today we read one of the most difficult passages in all of Scripture.  I confess that it is difficult for me as well; however, our task is to hear and obey.  Of course, we may ask questions, and God honors sincere questions.  But we must allow the verses before us to change us and not demand that we be allowed to change the verses.  About five-hundred years ago, Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus engaged in a public debate via books the very issue Paul takes up here.  Erasmus said, “Let God be good.”  Luther thundered back, “Let God be God!”  And that is what I hope to do here.

Having explained that the children of promise are not those of the flesh but those of God’s election, Paul’s invisible interlocutor asks, “Is there injustice on God’s part?” to which Paul answers yet again, “By no means!”  From there Paul brings forward more proof from the Old Testament for God’s sovereign freedom in choosing those whom He will while passing over others.  Pharaoh stands out as the preeminent example of one whom God hardened for His own glorious purposes.  Granted, the Scriptures also report that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, which is all to say that God passes over none who do not deserve to be passed over, as all have sinned.  In short, God gives some what they do not deserve (mercy) while He gives others what they do deserve (justice).  But no one can call God unfair as He has no obligation to have mercy on any.  At this point, we must let God be God and assume that He always does what is right (Genesis 18:25).

What stands out to me in this passage is that Paul sticks with the Scriptures.  When his imaginary opponent then asks, “Why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” Paul turns to the image of the potter and the clay, God making each vessel as He intends for the purpose of His glory.  Paul then marshals proof texts which prophesied Israel’s falling away till only a remnant was left, others prophesying the ingathering of the gentiles.  In the end, Israel is faulted for pursuing righteousness through works of the law while the gentiles attained righteousness by faith.  But what Paul does not do is engage in theological debate or philosophical wrangling; he sticks with Scripture.  Let that be a lesson for us.

I realize this is difficult as we may have loved ones who, at least to our reckoning, have not been saved.  God calls us to intercede as Abraham did, Moses, Samuel, David, the prophets, and Paul, himself.  We must never lose hope.  After all, God saved us; we know He can save others as well.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

Leave a Reply