The Letter to the Romans
COLLEEN MOORE TINKER
30. Offspring By Election
6 It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."
7 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring.
9 For this was how the promise was stated: "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son."
10 Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac.
11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-in order that God's purpose in election might stand:
12 not by works but by him who calls-she was told, "The older will serve the younger."
13 Just as it is written: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau I hated."
Paul has just traced the election and the blessings of Israel. Now he follows the nation from its election to its spiritual division. "Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel," he says. Paul here begins a careful analysis and confirmation of God's sovereign choice of His people, a choice over which we have no influence but to which we can respond.
1. Paul prefaces his discussion of Israel's responses to God by stating his foundational truth: "It is not as though God's word had failed." How does the Bible confirm that God's word is more than a collection of thoughts but is the reliable and eternal message from God? (see Hebrews 4:12; Mark 4:13-20; Luke 11:27-28; John 10:34-38; Acts 12:21-24; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:8-9; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 1:14; Revelation 1:1-3)
2. After establishing that God's promises are eternal, Paul explains that not all those who descend from Abraham and Israel are truly Israel. "On the contrary, 'It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.'" Verse 8 identifies Abraham's offspring as "children of the promise". What exactly does Paul mean here, since Isaac was Abraham's son? (see Genesis 21:9-13; Hebrews 11:17-19; Romans 8:13-14; Galatians 3:16-18; 4:21-31)
3. Who are these "children of the promise"? (Romans 4:13-14, 16; Galatians 3:29; 4:28-31)
4. In what significant way was Isaac's birth a foreshadowing of Jesus and also of those who are born again as God's sons and daughters? (see Genesis 18:14; John 3:5-6; 1:12-13; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Titus 3:4-7; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 4:7; 5:1, 3-4)
5. Isaac, the son of promise, had twin sons. Before they were born, God said the older one would serve the younger one. What other examples are there of God honoring the second-born over the first-born? (see Genesis 4:1-13; 17:17-22)
6. After God destroyed the earth's population with a flood only to have evil re-assert itself, He promise Abraham that He would give unnumbered descendants to him and his barren wife Sarah by means of a miracle, not by "natural" conception. What was significant about this new line of people God was beginning?
7. Verse 11 states that God chose Jacob over Esau before they were born in order to demonstrate that His sovereign election, not the boys' works, determined His acceptance of a person. What far-reaching effects did God's election of Jacob and rejection of Esau have, and how did this situation bring glory to God? (see Malachi 1:2-3; Jeremiah 46:27l)
8. What exactly does it mean when the Bible says God "hated" Esau? (see Luke 14:26; Matthew 10:37; John 12:25-26)
9. What is God's purpose in electing those He loves, as mentioned in verse 11? (see 8:28-29; Ephesians 1:4-13)
10. For what reasons must God's election, not merely our assent to Jesus, be the groundwork of our salvation? (see Ephesians 2:8-9;1:18-20; Romans 1:17; 3:29)
11. In what ways have you seen God's election at work in your life?
12. In what ways or areas of your life are you resisting God's calling
of you? Ask Him to reveal to you the areas of your experience you need to
surrender to His sovereign will. Ask Him to make your heart willing to submit
to His claim on your life. Ask Him to give you His Spirit of obedience so
you can know the truth and allow Him to change you and to be your strength
where you are weak. Thank Him for knowing you before you were born and for
choosing you to belong to Him.
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