Monday, July 2, 2012

Romans 9:14--18

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, 'I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.' So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharoah, 'FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.' So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires."

What a delicate whisp of a thing is trust... developed at an early age in most, sooner or later trust becomes guarded, if not imprisoned, within walls of suspicion, abused by fallible folk. For some, it is so mistreated as to disappear altogether, a means of self-protection against the pain of betrayal's repeated rejection. It is a truism, then, that trust comes more easily for some than others... and that on a human level, with beings who can been seen, touched, physically heard, and responded to... little surprise, then, that trusting One Who does not have these attributes proves to be too much for the majority of mankind.  And were invisibility not enough, this One to Whom all mankind is ultimately accountable is absolute in His sovereign rule, reign, and authority... 

These truths (God's ubiquitous, unseen presence, and His absolute right to do as He wishes with any of His creation, including mankind) provoke lost humanity to cry, "It is unjust!," (that anyone should have such power and control over us).  And such a response is understandable, stemming from deceived hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), that are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), 
and haters of God (Romans 1:30). 

Yet what is especially troubling is to encounter the same spirit of impugning God's character from some of His own children (!)  Apparently the apostle Paul anticipated such a questioning of the Almighty's motives ("There is no injustice with God, is there?"), and answered with an appalled reply, "May it never be!" 
The feeling is, "Away with the thought!", or "How could the thought even be insinuated?!"   Paul is incredulous that any among the Roman believers could entertain such unworthy thoughts of the Father, as to think Him unjust in anything, but particularly in the matter of salvation. 

Still, the same man-glorifying spirit that was at work among the believers in Paul's day is no less active today.  Now, as then, is needed the God-centered truth that salvation does not depend on man's will, or activity, but His mercy.  For, to attribute to man a part of the salvation event is to give God's glory to another, which cannot be honoring to Him.  Rather, the Father is pleased when His children unreservedly proclaim His unlimited sovereignty:  "The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all," (Psalm 103:19).  

And what is true of sovereign mercy, is equally true of sovereign reprobation.  For some He shows compassion, Paul affirms, and also, He "hardens whom He desires."  In this does God sin?  No.  Nor is He unjust.  For, the "righteous Judge of all the earth" (Genesis 18:25) always does right.  So, the issue comes back to trust... is He trustworthy in His sovereignty?  The world says, "No."  Sadly, even some of His own children agree...  yet, there are those who, like the Psalmist, have come to "know Your Name... [and these] will put their trust in You, " (Psalm 9:10a), embracing the sovereignty of the living God in the salvation of His own.  

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