In Romans 9, Paul addresses the difficult subject of God’s sovereignty. Though his writing was directed at the Jewish nation to help them understand their place in God’s plan, it is just as relevant to anyone today who has heard the gospel and has a choice to make. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God owes us nothing, yet He reaches out to us in various ways to offer us everything. He calls us His beloved even when their is nothing beloved about us (Romans 9:25, Hosea 2:23).
That part we love, and somehow we find it easier to accept, but when we consider the reality that “[God] has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Romans 9:18), we bristle in protest. That doesn’t seem fair!
Looking back to the story of Moses and Pharaoh we see two men with blood on their hands. Both deserve condemnation, not mercy. Yet one man is used by God to deliver His people from bondage while the other is used as an example of the wrath that results from rejecting God. Both men were faced with a choice: follow God or fight Him. Moses chose well.
Because God is holy and just, He must punish sin; because God is love He desires to rescue us from punishment, but we must first choose to be rescued. “If everyone is saved, it would deny His holiness; if everyone is lost, it would deny His love – the solution is His sovereign election” (Weirsbe, Warren. Be Right. Kindle Edition).
From the human perspective, fully reconciling God’s sovereignty with personal responsibility is difficult at best. A seminary professor once explained it to a young Warren Wiersbe this way: “try to explain election and you may lose your mind, but explain it away and you will lose your soul!” The good news is that we don’t always have to understand God’s plan to trust it. We do not have to choose between two seemingly opposed doctrines of faith, we just have to accept that they are both part of God’s plan. God saves us “by grace, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
God, I trust you. I know you are for me. Help me to fully surrender to your will.