A Transcript Of The Video Study

In our previous study, I unfolded for you the structure of Paul’s letter to the Romans. It was my purpose to show you how Paul’s teaching in Romans 9 fits into the letter as a whole. Well, I pointed out that there are four main sections to the letter. It opens with an introduction (1:1-17) and closes with a conclusion (15:14-16:27). In between are the two main sections—First, Paul explains why sinners are under condemnation (1:18-3:18); Second, he explains how sinners are secured salvation (3:19-15:13).

Now, with reference to God securing salvation for sinners, there are a further four sections to the letter—the role of God the Son in the work of salvation (3:19-5:21); this is connected with the role of God the Father in the work of salvation (8:28-11:36); and then there is a twofold statement on the role of God the Spirit in the work of salvation (6:1-8:27; 12:1-15:13). This, of course, is nothing other than the covenant of grace, drawn up by the TriUne Jehovah from eternity, on behalf of the elect.

Now, our interest in this study is with the Father’s role in the work of salvation (8:28-11:36). How does Paul’s teaching in Romans 9, with particular reference to the analogy of a potter and the clay, align with the broader context of the Father’s role in the work of salvation, as it is set forth in these chapters? Well, the best way to understand the context of a passage of scripture is to discover the structure of the text. There are six main sections to these chapters:

First, in (8:28-39), Paul is extolling the Father’s eternal blueprint of electing love. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. What is the purpose of the Father? He has predestinated, or foreordained, that His elect people should be redeemed by His Son and conformed to His image. Henceforth, the Father has freely justified His elect people through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, and it is on the basis of Christ’s redemptive work that sinners are appointed unto glory. Knowing this, we may boldly say, if God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall separate us from the love and grace of God in Christ Jesus? This, my friends, is Paul’s opening statement on the saving work of God the Father.

Second, in (9:1-5), Paul confesses that he carries a heavy burden on his heart for the salvation of his countrymen. His countrymen, of course, were the Jewish people. His heart’s heaviness and continual sorrow was that they were not saved. In these verse, Paul underscores the distinct privilege the Jewish people as a nation enjoyed for many centuries, having been set apart as a peculiar nation, under the authority of the Mosaic Covenant and serving as the lineage through which Christ came into the world. Allow me to read for you the verses—Romans 9:1-5: “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.“ You see, it saddened Paul, that such a people who had been given a revelation of the gospel of Christ under the Mosaic Covenant should be in darkness and unable to see the glorious gospel of the blessed God. However, the Jewish people did not even know they were in darkness. They believed, that because they had been set apart as a special nation; that because they had been born into the right race of people; that because they observed the various laws, and ceremonies and ordinances of the Mosaic Covenant, that they were highly favored of God on a personal and spiritual level, and therefore not subject to His wrath and condemnation. And so, Paul was confronting a situation where the Jewish people were nurturing false views of themselves, believing their election as a race and nation was the foundation of God’s favor towards them, and that the Mosaic Covenant was the authority by which they were saved from their sins and enabled to have a relationship with God. Of course, one’s race (whether it be Jew or Gentile), is not the foundation of God’s favor towards an individual, nor is the Mosaic Covenant the authority by which a person is saved from sin and enabled to have a relationship with God. What therefore follows in the remaining sections of these chapters, is Paul’s attempt to explain the difference between God’s election of race (the Jewish people as a nation) and His election by grace (the objects of His special love from eternity). In fact, throughout the teachings, Paul will sometimes use God’s nationally elect people (Israel) as a parable to illustrate God’s spiritually elect people (His saints). And so,

Third, in (9:6-33), Paul explains the Father’s eternal blueprint of electing love. In this section, the Father’s blueprint is viewed from an eternal perspective. The focal point is on the immutable appointment of God’s decree. First, he states in no uncertain terms that salvation belongs to those who have been set apart by the Father as objects of special love, having been made recipients of the terms and promises of the Covenant of Grace—it has absolutely nothing to do with whether one is born a Jew or is observing the various laws of the Mosaic Covenant—Romans 9:6-8: “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel…That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” You see how Paul distinguishes between the Jewish people as a nation under the Mosaic Covenant, and God’s elect people from eternity under the gracious covenant—not all of the Jewish people belong to the Father by electing love, for those who have been set apart as objects of less love and therefore remain in their sins are the children of the flesh, or the children of the sinful nature; whereas those who have been set apart as objects of special love are the children of the promise, for they have been chosen by the Father and given to the Son for redemption. And then, having made a clear distinction between the nationally elect people (the Jews) and the spiritually elect people (the saints), he goes on to use the nation of Israel and the Mosaic Covenant as an analogy, or a parable, to describe the Father’s eternal election of His saints under the terms and promises of the gracious covenant—Romans 9:9-13: “For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Do you see? Abraham had two sons—Ishmael and Isaac; Ishmael is a parable of the non-elect, whereas Isaac is a parable of the elect. Again, Rebekah had two sons—Esau and Jacob; Esau is a parable of the non-elect, whereas Jacob is a parable of the elect. And, says Paul, at that point in the Father’s decree when He set apart Jacob (His elect people) as special objects of His love, and then set aside Esau (the non-elect) as objects of less love, it was a choice made by the Father before viewing either of them in a righteous or unrighteous condition—before either had done good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election (spiritual election) might stand, not of works, but of Him that calls. And of course, Paul continues the teaching in this chapter, eventually using the analogy of a potter and the clay as another illustration on how God the Father has set apart a remnant of the human race as special objects of His love.

Fourth, in (10:1-3), Paul confesses once again his burden for the salvation of his countrymen. It was his heart’s desire and continual prayer that they might be saved. In (9:1-5), he highlighted their distinct privileges as Israelites. But here, in (10:1-3), he emphasizes their deplorable error as Israelites—they had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge; they set aside Christ’s righteousness, going about to establish their own righteousness—Romans 10:1-3: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Fifth, in (10:4-11:32), Paul once again explains the Father’s eternal blueprint of electing love. In the previous section, he viewed the blueprint from an eternal perspective, with the focal point on the immutable appointment of God’s decree. In this section, he views the blueprint from a time perspective, with the focal point on the historic unfolding of God’s decree. And, just as he distinguished between God’s nationally elect (Israel) and His spiritual elect (vessels unto honor) in the previous section, so he does the same in this section. Take, for instance, a Jewish man living at the time Paul wrote this letter—how is that man saved? Is it based on God’s election of a race (the Jews), and is it according to the authority of the Mosaic Covenant? No, says Paul. Rather, it is based on God’s election by grace (those who are set apart as vessels unto honor), and it is according to the authority of the gracious covenant—Romans 10:4-: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” But, says Paul, the vast majority of the Jews have not believed on Christ—Romans 10:16: ”[The Jews] have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” And so, if not all Jews are automatically saved merely because they are Jews under the Mosaic Covenant, then does this mean God has changed His plan of salvation and cast away the Jewish people? No, says Paul. God’s plan of salvation has never been based on race or the Mosaic Covenant, but rather, it has always and only been based upon the gracious covenant of the TriUne Jehovah! Henceforth,—Romans 11:1-5: “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Do you see? Not every Jewish man or woman is an object of God’s special love unto salvation. However, scattered among the Jewish people are those who have been set apart as special objects of the Father’s love; just as there are scattered among the Gentiles those who have been set apart as special objects of the Father’s love. There is remnant of the human race out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation, insomuch that they there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for they are all one in Christ Jesus. My dear friends, this is the teaching of Paul in this section of his letter! And, it is the same teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, for He said, Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction and many there be which go in thereat—this is the non-elect, left to themselves in their sins, fitted to destruction. However, straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life and few there be that find it—this is the elect, set apart by the Father as vessels unto honor, redeemed by Christ as vessels unto mercy and sanctified by the Spirit as vessels of gold and silver. And Paul says, there is only a remnant according to the election of grace! But what a number that will be when Christ returns and gathers together all His elect people—they will be more in number than the sand of the sea or the stars of the sky. Well, this brings us to the final section of the Father’s work in salvation—

Sixth, in (11:33-36), Paul ends where he began—he extols the Father’s blueprint of electing love. In the opening section (8:28-39), he asserts that we know all things work together for good to the Lord’s people; but in this section (11:33-36), he simply asks the question—Who has known the mind of the Lord? For of Him, through Him and to Him are all things. In light of the Father’s blueprint of electing love, who can measure the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God—Romans 11:33-36: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

My dear brethren, I do not know of another place in the scriptures which explain in such breadth and depth the Father’s work in salvation than that which is recorded here in these chapters.

As I close this study, allow me to draw your attention back to the main structure of Paul’s teachings on how a sinner is secured salvation (3:19-15:13). You know, so much attention is given to the role of the Son in the work of salvation; and a great deal of attention is given to the Spirit in work of salvation; but sadly, the role of the Father is either neglected or sidelined. And, even when some people do give attention to the role of the Father, they usually lean upon Ephesians chapter 1 as the basis for the Father’s work. Well, while Ephesians 1 does speak of the Father’s work, it doesn’t explain the extent of His work as is recorded here in Romans 8:28-11:36. Now please listen to me, if we nurture cloudy views of the Father’s role in salvation, then we will inevitably have cloudy views of the Son and Spirit’s roles in salvation. It all begins with the Father, and so we would be wise to carefully read Paul’s teachings on the matter, strengthening our views of sovereign grace accordingly. Why not set aside a few hours this week, take the notes I have given in this study, and read through this section of Paul’s letter, comparing the teachings of scripture with the Framework of sovereign grace? If you do this, not only will it nurture a growth in grace, but it will also prepare you for our next study, when I hope to consider how Paul’s analogy of a potter and the clay fits within the more immediate context of Romans chapter 9 as a whole. Until then, may you know the blessings of Jehovah in the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ!



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