We have been studying Romans 9:1-5 together on Sunday mornings and our guide has been the apostle Paul, who was concerned about his readers’ understanding of the promises of God concerning the people of Israel. The point of Romans 9 is to prove the righteousness of God, or to vindicate God’s righteousness. Paul is heartbroken over the rejection of the gospel by the Israelite people (1-3), especially since they had been given so much (4-5). Indeed, we noted that they were specifically wired for worship and yet there were those within ethnic Israel who rejected, hated, and murdered Jesus. So if God promised to save Israel, why are there those within Israel who have rejected him? Had the promise of God fallen flat? Paul responds to that question in Romans 9:6a and then lays out an extremely clear argument in verses 6b-13. This week we will look at verse 6a and see how the plan of God to save his people is woven throughout the Bible. In the coming weeks we will see how God’s saving, electing purpose stands as illustrated by his relationship with Isaac and Jacob.
Look at Romans 9:6. There are two parts to this verse that are very important:
- The “word of God” in context refers yes, to Scripture, but it refers to a specific part of the word of God. Specifically, according to the 9:1-5 context, Paul is speaking of God’s covenantal, eschatological promises to Israel. John Piper rightly says, “If we were on the right track in our interpretation of 9:1-5, each of the benefits of 9:4-5 has saving, eschatological implications for Israel. Therefore, it is not just one of these things that seems to have fallen, but all of them, including the work of the Messiah. Therefore, Paul does not assert that one of them (promises, covenants) has not fallen but rather he chooses the broader term, namely the word of God has not fallen.” We know this is true when we look at verse 11: The purpose of God remains. Not a word of God’s promise will fail. Ever.
- The word for “failed” literally means, “to become inadequate” or to fall flat. Basically, Paul is trying to address the question of God’s sincerity in his promises to Israel. Did he mean it? Of course he meant it! But this phrase in 6a is what anchors the entire passage down and so we will camp here for this week and look from this vantage point at the rest of the Scriptures.
There are several biblical principles that we need to understand at the outset in order to understand the faithfulness of God regarding his promises in the Bible.
- God is the ultimate authority and king of the universe: God is. He is the creator of the universe, the maker and owner of all things.
- The Bible is the story of God’s establishment of his kingdom with his people, in his place, under his rule and blessing.
- The gospel, the central theme of the Bible, is the good news of the coming kingdom of God in the person and work of the son of God, Jesus Christ. The gospel is the plan. There has never been another plan. There aren’t two separate plans. There is no plan “B”. There is one people, one plan, one promise, this is it. I look forward to walking through God’s glorious plan of redemption with you this week.