Summary: Salvation is found, not by pursuit, but by surrender.
The ninth chapter of Romans is a perfect chapter from which to preach the Sovereignty of God.
Paul has just finished his treatise on justification and grace and the security of the believer in Christ, there in chapter eight, and now we see him slump into sadness over the plight of his own, Christ-rejecting nation; Israel.
In verse 3 we see in Paul, the spirit that Moses had when the people had sinned against God in the wilderness and he offered to be blotted out of God’s book for their sake.
“For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
I want to remind you that he has just said at the end of chapter 8 that nothing, nothing, nothing, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So this expression in verse 3 of chapter 9 shows the sincere depths of his love and sorrow for his nation. “Nothing in heaven or on earth or under the earth can separate the believer from the love of God in Christ Jesus; yet I would be accursed and separated for my kinsmen according to the flesh, if it would reverse the consequences of their rejection of Messiah”.
Now I want to dissect and ’cook down’ the argument of chapter 9 for you, because there is so very much that could be said from this chapter; but our primary focus is to be on the last few verses
In the first 5 verses of chapter nine, Paul laments the loss his people suffer, even though they are the recipients of God’s promises concerning a Redeemer.
To them was given the glory, and the covenants and the Law, and the temple service, and the promises; theirs are the fathers of the faith, from whom came the Christ.
But then he has to go on and make the reader understand, that it is not as though the word of God has failed.
He is anticipating the objection some may make, that if Israel received the promises and they are now set aside, then God’s promises have failed. God’s own word has failed.
“Not”, he says, “if you realize who the real ‘Israel’ is.
The argument of many was that they deserved the promise because they were descended from Abraham.
Now if Paul were to say, “Well then, the Arabs are also recipients of the promise”, they’d scream, “NO! Ishmael can’t be a partner in this; the promises were to Isaac’s children!”
So his answer to their argument that they deserve the promises by descent, is that if the promise is by descent, ...if they deserve the promises because they are descended from Abraham... then they cannot deny Ishmael, for he also was descended from Abraham.
But the promise is not according to flesh, but according to the Spirit. It is according to grace.
He then goes on to point out that before Jacob and Esau were born, God told Rebekah that the older would serve the younger. That He was favoring Jacob over Esau.
And this, before either of them had any opportunity to do good or bad; to seek God or reject God. They weren’t even born yet.
So the point is, it is not by merit either. Not by descent, and not by works.