Romans 9:1-29 if God is not for us…

How much are you willing to get to know God? What if you discovered something about God that was upsetting to you? What could you do about that? Paul has been describing the position of rebellion that we are all in and the size of God’s grace and mercy to redeem us and make it right. God has been truly amazing in his mission to save his people. But what about those who are not his people? How should we think about the fact that not everybody is saved?

Romans 9-11 are three chapters of a block of thought. That is, for the next three chapters, Paul will take us through the theology of God’s promise being fulfilled for the true Israel and not for the blood line of Abraham. God never promised that he would save everyone.


Romans 8:31-39 celebrated the confidence of knowing that if God is for us, then we have God on our side. Verses 37-39 proclaimed how nothing and nowhere can remove us or transport us away from the love of God. God is for us and God loves us! The condition? We are to be ‘in Christ Jesus’. Then, Jesus will intercede for us. Then, the Spirit will work in us to transform us.

Who then is responsible for our salvation? Did we choose Jesus? No, it is God who chose us (v33). It is God who chose us and is therefore for us and loves us. It is in his love for us that he has chosen us.

Paul has, from the beginning of Romans, claimed that salvation comes to all who believe. There is a human expectation in salvation. It does not find fruit in anyone who does not believe. But even belief and faith come from the fact that God has chosen us.

Romans 9:1-29 contemplates this question: who has God chosen? Wasn’t it the Jews? And doesn’t that make all who were not chosen, innocent?


Romans 9:1-5

Paul proclaims the Jews as priviledged and blessed in huge ways and laments that not all who are Jews will be saved.

Paul still has a national pride.

He also has great love for his nation which will be damned unless they believe.

Notice his passion for the lost. This is a passion for both the people and for the message of the gospel.

Notice how linked the gospel is to the Jews – it is through Abraham’s offspring that came salvation!

Romans 9:6-9

The children of Abraham are not by blood but by promise! The rules have not changed. It has always been about God choosing one instead of another! Isaac and not Ishmael.

God has not broken his promise. He has not changed his mind. He has not had second thoughts. No, the word of God has not failed. We just need to work hard at understanding his word.

Romans 9:10-13

So, if the story of Ishmael and Isaac was not convincing enough, check out Rebekah’s kids: conceived at the same time and yet even before they were born, God had decided which child he would bless.

It is not by works but by the calling of God. I wonder, if Esau had proven to live without sin, would he then still be glorified? I’m thinking yes, hyperthetically, but this is not possible. Unless God redeems us, we are marked by our own sin and rebellion.

“Jacob I loved but Esau I hated.” Rom 9:13

“Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated.” Mal 1:2-3

I chose Jacob and rejected Esau – this is really the essence of the quote.

How do we juggle the contrast between this statement and the statement that God does not show favouritism? How do we juggle the contrast between this statment and the statement that God so loved the world?

The quote from Malachi is a message of love toward the Jews to remind them of how God has loved them. They received all the blessings of God while Esau has not. We are best to understand the meaning behind love and hate as chosen or rejected – elected or rejected. Along with the election comes the blessings of God. Rejection is absent of that.

Douglas Moo writes: ‘”Love” and “hate” are not here, then, emotions that God feels but actions that he carries out. In an apparent paradox that troubles Paul (cf.9:14 and 19 following) as well as many Christians, God loves “the whole world” at the same time as he witholds his love in action, or election, from some.’ (Moo, Douglas, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 1996, p587).

Romans 9:14-18

Paul wants to defend the statement of grace that means it is not about us choosing God but about God showing mercy to whom he chooses.

Consider what this means for those who are saved – it is God who knew you before you knew him, it is God who determined to save you, it is God who sent the gospel message to you, it is God who justified you, and it is God who is glorifying you (Rom 8:29-30). But for the grace of God, you would be Ishmael, or Esau, or Pharoah.

Consider Pharoah. God did not determine to save him. But in the story of Pharoah, he saw all the marvelous works of God. He spoke to God’s messenger face to face. He was asked to obey the will of God. But he didn’t. His heart was hard. There was no desire in Pharoah to seek God. There was no heart yearning from him to know and understand the truth. Did God harden his heart? Yes. Is God to blame for his evil? No.

Romans 9:19-21

This is the obvious objection from anyone who is curious about predestination and election. If it is not in us to choose God, then when God doesn’t choose us, that’s his fault and not ours. Paul’s answer smacks of rebuke. This is the wisdom of God.

Reflect here on what it means to worship God. He is not the God who we construct and mould. He is the God who moulded and created us! Let’s get that straight.

Romans 9:22-29

Paul focuses our attention on the correct angle to consider this topic. It is a miracle that anybody is saved! Some are objects of God’s wrath and others are objects of his mercy. Praise God that for the benefit of those he has chosen, he made his own Son the object of his wrath! For our sake, he hated the son in the same way that he hated Esau. He chose to bless us at the expense of his beloved and eternal Son.

He has made us his people who were once not his people. And we can be part of the promise even though we are not blood children of Israel. But we are now children of Abraham and children of God’s because of the love shown to us in Jesus!


While a discussion on predestination is important and useful – don’t lose focus on why this passage is put here! We are saved at the mercy of God. The focus in on his salvation rather than his exclusion.

The purpose for Paul writing this section only underscores the need for the gospel. You cannot just sit on your ancestry, upbringing, western culture or any other identity to declare that you are saved! You can’t even declare you are one of God’s children simply because you attend church regularly. No, we must hear the gospel, understand it and embrace it!

Predestination or election does not mean that we don’t do anything either. We know that Esau was rejected because he thought lowly of his birthright. We know that Pharoah was unsaved because of the way he responded to God’s word. We know that a true Israelite by faith – a spiritual child of Abraham – is a child of God because of their changed heart and love for the gospel.

Notice that Paul is certain of the continuity between the Old Testament and the New. Between the God of the Jews and the God of the Christian. He sees Christianity, not as a new religion, but rather a continuation of the true Israel.

How can you know if you are one of his elect? Simple, listen to God’s word, consume it, respond to the gospel in faith. Only the elect will declare with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that he was raised from the dead. If you know this and you know the life changing implications of this, then you are loved by God and praise him for that!


Love The Lord your God a) because he has made you (vv20-21) and b) he has loved you.

Preach the gospel to all. Only in eternity will we know who has been called for glory.

Read the bible for all its worth! There is so much to learn. There is so much to struggle with. There is so much knowledge of God to still discover. The gospel begins for us with God’s knowledge of us! We spend so much time in our lives getting to know things that don’t know us – like stars in the sky, devices that we carry in our pockets, celebrities who don’t know you exist, and about TV characters and their lives – how much time do we spend getting to know the very person who knows you better than you know yourself and who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

Know your Old Testament. The gospel didn’t begin with Jesus in a manger or even with Mary being met by an angel. It began, in once sense, with a man named Abraham who God chose to bless. Learning about the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob gives us great insights into the gospel. It shows us how God loves those who are not lovely, trustworthy or brave. That God blesses families even though they hate one another. That God drives his promises forward despite disbelief, deceit and tragedy. How much do we need to hear stories like that to help us battle with our own lives and our own faith.

Romans catch up week!

Hello Growth Groupers!

Megachurch is coming up on the 22nd of June so please remind your group that we are having church in the school hall at 9:30 with optional coffee and something beforehand – check the newsletter for details.

This also means that we have a week in our Growth Groups to choose your own adventure. Sit back as the leader and pray about what you think your group could do in this coming week together. If there is some topic that you feel needs some more work on, then make a week of it and focus on that one theological or topical teaching.

Here are some options to choose from.

1) Make up for any weeks that have been missed. Nigel has organised to visit all of the Growth Groups over the next few weeks. He may have already visited yours! If not, then he will be visiting soon and you should have that in your diary already. When he visits, he will not be doing a study from Romans. This means that you will miss a week of Romans somewhere. There is an option here to cover whatever passage that falls or fell on the week that Nigel is at your group. Here is a link to the Sermon breakup for 2014 in case you have misplaced your copy.

2) Do an overview study of Romans 1-8. We have hit the half way mark in the book. Romans 1-8 contain some amazing things about our faith and has been one of the most influential pieces of writing in the church forever. Before getting into the second half of Romans – recap where we have been so far. One way to do that is to divide the chapters between the members of your group. This can be tricky with low numbers in your group but work it out and best if two people are doing it together. Read your allocated chapter(s), summarise what it says in your own words, note down what that section says about God, man, Jesus and the future. Come back as a full group and share that with one another.

3) The last option is to go back and study Romans 1:1-7. This will be really good because a) it was such a long time ago when we did that study, b) when we did it we covered verses 1-15, c) when we did it, we had not spent much time going through Romans and so it was all pretty new to us, and d) it contains a lot of stuff that the rest of the book describes in detail how it is so.

Here’s a few questions to answer while you go through Romans 1:1-7

  1. Who’s gospel is it? Where is the origin of the Gospel – where did it come from? (see verse 1)
  2. Where and how do we know and learn about the gospel? (see verse 2)
  3. What is the gospel about? What are the contents of the gospel? (see verses 3-4: NB how Jesus relates to the Old Testament, how he relates to God as both Son and working through the Spirit, how important the resurrection is in connection to his death and that he is known to us as ‘Jesus Christ our Lord’ – Saviour, Messiah, King and God.
  4. Who is the gospel for? NB both who are called as well as for whose sake they are called! The word Gentiles refers ultimately to all the nations of the world.
  5. What is the description of those who have received (from the calling by God’s messengers/apostles) and responded to the gospel (obedience of faith)? Are we saints or sinners?
  6. Do you have any questions or doubts about this gospel? Come from God, through his son, by the Spirit and for us? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?

Friends, I hope that this week will be awesome for you. I have been so encouraged with feedback from people who have discovered for the first time, that they are not good enough to be accepted by God accept through Jesus but that they are loved by God and made right with him. This has been an emotional time for some who have come to Christ by reading the book of Romans. I thank God that he is working through his word – just as he said he would – and that by the careful reading and listening of the word of God, people are being called out of darkness and into the light. They are seeing for the first time how it can be true that God saves sinners and calls them saints.

Prayer for the week:

Father God, we thank you for the gospel of grace. Thank you for giving us your Son to set us free from the slavery of sin. Thank you for speaking to this world and to us this week through your word. May we learn to love you more and more by the help of your Spirit and through the reading of your word. Amen

Romans 8:31-39 If God is for us…

There is no human reason why God should be for us. Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (3:23) and that the wages of sin is death (6:23), it follows that God ought to be done with us. But God is not like us. That is human reasoning and human wisdom – not the wisdom of God. Godly reason is about grace and the love of God that is demonstrated to us in The Lord Jesus Christ (5:8).

Paul takes us through the logic of how confident that we can be of God’s love since he has proven it to us. Given that he has not held back hi own son for us, surely we should be convinced that he is indeed for us!

The context of this passage is also amidst Paul’s discussion of life here on earth characterised by suffering and frustration. This side of heaven, don’t doubt heaven for a minute. This side of glory, don’t doubt for a second that God has already paid for us to join him. Our struggle is to see that and believe it.


Paul strings his thoughts at the end of this chapter with a series of rhetorical questions.
V31 – if God is for us, who can be against us?
V33 – who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
V34 – who then is the one who condemns?
V35 – who [and what!] shall separate us from the love of Christ?

These questions, being rhetorical, give us some great little truths to bank on! 1) God is for us! 2) God himself has chosen his adopted children. 3) there is no condemnation! 4) Christ’s love reaches beyond all boundaries and obstacles.

“Will give us all things” It seems that Paul is addressing the idea that though we are God’s adopted children, we may feel a long way from that when we look at our own behaviours, thoughts and motives. God is working out our path toward glory (8:28-30) and he will certainly make it happen. After all, he’s not about to send his only Son on a salvation mission without finishing the job he started in us. “All things” then, may refer to all the things necessary to work out the good for those who love him – even suffering – or it may refer to our future hope that is our certain hope.

There will be no charges or condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are also instructed here to keep our own self-condemnations silenced because we no that Christ himself has justified. And the One who died for us is now interceding for us!


  1. How does psalm 44:22 fir the context of this passage. NB: whenever the NT quotes the OT, we are being invited by the author to consider what the original context was and how that now fits the new context. Psalm 44 speaks of the faithful being defeated by the enemies of Israel but still waiting patiently for God to act. Our condition on this earth prior to glory does not mean that we are separated from the promises or love of God. Even this time of grief and frustration is part of God’s big plan.
  2. At are the things that threaten us in our faith? Aren’t they listed in verse 35: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword. Some of these relate to conflict with people but not all of them. They are a list of things that describe life prior to heaven. But even these things are not signs that God has abandoned us!
  3. How do we conquer? (V37) it is our faith. That is, the trust and knowledge that God loves us in Christ Jesus. These things listed in verse 35 will not destroy us. They are just food and clothing, but God and his words of promise last forever.


  • Consider the state of your salvation. Do you worry about it? Do you doubt if you are saved or not? Consider the message of salvation and the truths of this passage. If God will not condemn you who are in Christ Jesus then don’t you condemn you either!
  • Stress and anxiety are common in our society and lives. This passage helps to keep us reminded of the great love that God has for us. Famine, nakedness and trouble are nothing to the plans that God has for you.
  • Are you eagerly awaiting for the future glory that we will share with Christ?
  • Do you worry that God is not concerned about your concerns? Don’t you know that Christ himself is speaking to the Father on your behalf – interceding for us!
  • Give great thanks and praise for the love of God. Take time to thank him. Stop rushing and panicking during the week and thank your Father who loves and cares for you.