Paul, still writing to the Romans, says that no suffering can compare to the future glory we will have in our new resurrected bodies, in the new heaven and earth. And although we will suffer for a short period of time here on earth, God uses everything for our good, including our suffering – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Paul states that if God is for us then nothing can be against us; not “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword… Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” For nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul grieves the fact that His people, the Jews, are not all saved. However, Paul says that God never said everyone would be saved. He illustrates this point by taking the Romans back to the Patriarch Era with Abraham. He says although Abraham had more than one child, the promise came through the chosen son, Isaac. “And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’”
Paul explains that God is righteous and He can do whatever He desires with His creation. “For He says to Moses, ’I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.’ Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.”
We are all sinners deserving of death. God shows His just wrath against our sin to highlight His abundant mercy and grace to us. In God’s mercy, He sent His son to die a death that we deserve so that Jews and Gentiles may be reconciled to God by grace through faith in Christ.
Paul says that Isaiah prophesied that not all the Israelites, but just a remnant, would be saved by faith. The ESV Study Bible explains the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill – “God’s sovereignty is compatible with human responsibility. Israel should have believed the gospel and trusted in Christ, but the majority refused to do so. Still, God’s saving promises will be fulfilled.”
The stumbling block to the Israelites is their pursuit of righteousness through the law and not through faith. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Paul says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved… For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”
We end the reading with Paul teaching the importance of sharing the gospel message with others – “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’”
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” And since faith comes by hearing, it is critical that we share the story of Christ with the world, fulfilling Jesus’ command to go and make disciples. The individual’s response to the message is upon them. However, nothing should stop our call to spread the Good News of Christ with the hope that some will hear, repent, and receive eternal salvation.