The Letter to the Romans
COLLEEN MOORE TINKER
31. God's Sovereign Mercy
14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
16 It does not, therefore, depend on Man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
Paul has been discussing the fact that natural descent does not determine God's choice of a person. Rather, in His sovereignty He appoints people, such as Isaac and Jacob, to bear the burden of responsibility for His choice of them. In these next verses he moves into a defense of God's justice.
1. Since sovereignty can look unfair to us earth-bound mortals, we need to see what Scripture as a whole teaches about it. What does the Bible say about God's justice? (see 2 Chronicles 19:7; Genesis 18:20-33; Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Job 13:5-12; Job 34:16-20; 40:6-9; Psalm 9:15-16; 33:4-5; 36:5-6; 89:14-15; 97:2-3; 103:6; 140:12-13; Proverbs 28:5; 29:26; Isaiah 30:18; Jeremiah 30:11; Matthew 12:18-21; Romans 3:25-26; Revelation 19:11-13)
2. Paul does not explain God's justice in terms of human understandings of fairness. To what does he appeal when he denies injustice in God's dealings with Ishmael and Isaac Jacob and Esau in verses 13-15? (see also Exodus 33:19)
3. What is the "it" in verse 16, and what does this verse tell us about our own salvation? (see Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-5; Deuteronomy 9:5; Romans 4:2-3; 2 Timothy 1:8-10)
4. In verse 17, what is Paul saying God did through Pharaoh, and for what purpose? (see Exodus 9:13-16; 15:13-19; Joshua 2:10-11; 9:9-10; 1 Samuel 4:5-8)
5. What does the Bible say about God's sovereignty over evil people? (see verse 18; Exodus 4:21; 7:3-5; 9:12; 10:20; 14:4, 17-18; Deuteronomy 2:30; Joshua 11:16-20; Psalm 105:24-25; Isaiah 6:9-13; 63:17-19; John 12:39-40)
6. What does the Bible say about God's sovereignty over those who are saved? (see Romans 9:22-24; Isaiah 65:1; Hosea 2:23; John 6:44; 63-65; 7:17-19; 12:32; Romans 10:20; 11:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2:4-5; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Revelation 13:8)
7. If God is sovereign over salvation, what role does human choice play? (see Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:14-15; 19-22; Psalm 95:6-8; Proverbs 28:14; Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 3:1-2; John 7:17-19; 14:9-11; 15:16; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 1:18-21; Ephesians 4:18-19; Hebrews 3:7-11)
8. The Bible's declares that God hardens the wicked, calls the righteous, and predestines people. Conversely, it also says we are to choose to follow Christ. How do you reconcile the apparently contradictory facts of God's sovereignty and man's free will?
9. What intellectual or emotional reactions do you have to the idea of God's sovereignty?
10. How have you experienced God's sovereignty in your life?
11. What choices have you had to make in order to be obedient to God's will?
12. Ask God to show you the truth about Himself and His authority in your life and in all creation. Ask Him to give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so you can know Him better. (Ephesians 1:11-12) Ask Him to make your heart willing to obey Him as He reveals His will to you. Praise Him for giving you Himself and His word and for calling you to know Him and to be part of His family.
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