Introduction: Do you have friends or family that deliberately make your life difficult? Have they also rejected your faith? How do you feel about them? You want them to be saved and stop trying to hurt you? Paul feels this way about the Jewish people. He wants them to be saved - and it would be great if they stopped trying to hurt him! Let's jump into our study of Romans 9 to discover lessons about dealing with friends or family who sometimes seem to be the enemy.
Read Romans 8:31. We know that Satan is against those who follow Jesus. Perhaps you have people in your life who are "against" you. How do you understand this text? (We may have opponents, but Paul's point is that they can hardly overcome the power of God.)
Read Romans 8:32. How can we be certain that God is on our side? That He is willing to help us against our enemies? (He gave His own Son for us. What more could He do to show His love and care?)
When we say that God is "on our side," does that mean that He will do what we think is best? (If we have any sense, we want God to do what He thinks is best.)
Read Romans 8:33-34. What is Jesus current role in heaven? (He is interceding for us! This brings to mind the book of Hebrews which tells us that Jesus is our great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary interceding on our behalf.)
Read Romans 8:35-39. How does this discussion make you feel? (It should give us great comfort and confidence. God is with us, God loves us, and the person who "condemns" us is interceding on our behalf! We are "more than conquerors!")
As you contemplate these verses, does it seem to you that the life of the Christian is always easy? (This refers to many adverse things that will not separate us from the love of God - thus suggesting that those loved by God may face serious problems in life.)
Read Romans 9:1-5. After writing that we are more than conquerors, how can Paul say that he has "great sorrow and unceasing anguish?" (These wonderful promises, this great comfort, has been largely rejected by his people, the Jewish people. They reject the idea that Jesus died for them and is interceding for them.)
Read Romans 9:6. Why would Paul feel the need to defend the promises of God? (Consider the obvious, God gave His special blessings and revealed His will specifically to the Jewish people - who then rejected Jesus.)
What does Paul mean when he writes "not all who are descended from Israel are Israel?" (Read Romans 9:7-9. Israel is not defined by race. Rather, it is defined by those who are offered and accept the promises of God. If you accept God's promise, then you are Israel.)
Read Romans 9:10-14. What do you think this means about the ability of Esau to be saved? Did God "hate" him before he was born? (It is hard to accept that is Paul's point. Why would Paul express great sorrow and anguish (Romans 9:2) if God made the executive decision that most of the Jewish people would reject Him? How do you explain the tone of Romans so far, that grace is a matter of humans accepting it? How do you explain Romans 5:18that says Jesus' righteous act "brings life for all men?")
Read Romans 9:15-18. Do you think that God has shown mercy to you? Or, has He hardened your heart?
Read Romans 9:19. Isn't this our question? Isn't this the obvious question about the fairness of God?
Read Romans 9:20-21. What do you think about Paul's answer? (It is obviously correct, but hardly comforting. Paul first tells us to shut our mouth. Then he says that clearly God has this authority. He made us. We obviously agree with the authority question.)
Is being in authority and being fair the same thing?
Or, is the fact that God created us the answer to the fairness question?
Let's go back to where we started. Re-read Romans 8:32. How does this fit into the idea of an arbitrary God?
Re-read Romans 9:3-5. Let's reconsider what is being chosen and elected. Were you originally elected if you are not Jewish? (No. If we go back to the beginning of Paul's conversation, we see that he is not talking about salvation, but rather the vehicle for salvation. God chose Abraham, He chose Isaac and He chose the Jewish people to be His special representatives. He chose Pharaoh to demonstrate His saving power.)
Does this mean that Jews are saved and we (gentiles) are not? (Obviously not! This is Paul's point in Romans 9:6-8. We are saved even though we were not originally chosen. Esau and Pharaoh could be saved.)
How important are your works to your salvation? (Isn't this the elephant in the room? Salvation and mercy are all God. We think our works are so important. How foolish we are.)
Are you still troubled by the idea that God might choose you (like Pharaoh) to demonstrate His power? Let's explore that next.
Read Romans 9:22. What do we deserve? (Our sins cause us to deserve eternal death.)
If you use that conclusion as the context, we can see that God has shown humans, even those who reject Him, great mercy. This is why Pharaoh, and those like him, have no grounds to complain. What we all deserve is death. God gave us all the gift of the opportunity for eternal life!)
Read Romans 9:23-26. What is the great good news for us? (That we are now God's people. The accounts of Esau and Pharaoh highlight the mercy of God. Even those not chosen originally can enjoy the blessings of being "sons of the living God.")
Read Romans 9:27-28. What other attribute of God, other than mercy, does Paul describe? (God is also the Judge who will impose judgment on those who reject him. He will do it "with speed and finality.")
What does the use of the word "finality" suggest about the idea of the lost being in an eternally burning hell? (Eternally burning doesn't sound very final.)
Read Romans 9:29. What does this suggest about the idea of an eternally burning hell? (Since Sodom and Gomorrah are not burning today, it suggests that hell consumes those who reject God. Consistent with the argument that we have a merciful God, the lost do not have an eternal life of torture.)
Read Romans 9:30-32. Why would anyone pursue righteousness by works? (Because they thought they were better at it than others. The Gentiles, who the Jews thought inferior, obtained righteousness!)
What does God call us to do when it comes to Jesus? (To trust Him. If we do, we will never be put to shame.)
What if we don't trust Him? (Then we will "stumble" in life and miss life eternal.)
Would you like peace and joy? Would you like to avoid shame? Accepting Jesus as your Savior is the path to those blessings!
Friend, recall that we started out talking about friends and family who hurt us. We end up with the promise that if we accept Jesus as our righteousness, we will never be put to shame. God gives ultimate victory to those who trust Him. If you would like that, why not accept Jesus by faith and become part of the family of God?