…so that God’s purpose according to election might stand — not from works but from the one who calls. (Romans 9:11-12)
The famous saying is “If you can figure out God, then he’s not God.” How can a finite creature figure out the infinite Creator? It’s like asking an ant to provide a full report of humankind’s ways. Even if that ant wanted to take a shot at it, its brain is incapable of even trying. But thank God that he hasn’t left us in the dark. Through the Holy Scriptures, God has given us the privilege to know quite a bit about him! And through Romans 9, God is revealing some of his mysteries of election.
In today’s section, Paul makes a distinction between the “children by physical descent” and the “children of the promise” (9:8). Much of Israel believed that they were instantly secured into God’s kingdom, because they were ethnically an Israelite. But Paul tells us “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel,” but only those who God has chosen (9:6, 12). And this “choosing” by God carries over to the Gentiles as well, having absolutely nothing to do with works, but “from the one who calls” (9:11-12).
Now, if you believe Jesus Christ has saved you, and now you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus, then that means God has chosen you to be his own. Explaining more about God’s election, Paul writes “For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). This means that before you were a thought in your parent’s mind, and before the world even existed — God chose you. God has chosen and saved you. This grows deep humility.
Here’s three questions to think about:
1) If God has chosen you before the foundation of the world, then why do you distance yourself from God when you sin and not immediately turn to him?
2) If before you ever moved an inch to the right or to the left — God chose you, then why might you think your salvation depends on you? Even your faith is a gift (Eph. 2:8).
3) If by God’s grace you are who you are today (1 Cor. 15:10), then why might you look down and become critical with others when they make mistakes?
Meditating on God’s grace and election helps us to think clearly. It exposes the log in our eye. It peels off the self-righteousness in our hearts. And it directs our gratitude upward toward Jesus Christ, who rightfully deserves it.