Need for Mercy

Explore the Bible Series

December 4, 2005


Background Passage: Romans 9:1-29

Lesson Passage: Romans 9: 1-6; 14-26

This outline will cover the entirety of Romans Nine.  The Lifeway lesson divides the materials at Romans 9:30, but Paul addressed an important issue, in those verses (vv. 30-33), that completes the line of thought in the chapter.  Please forgive the liberties I have taken with the lesson outline.



In my early years of preaching, Romans had only thirteen chapters for me.  Chapters 9-11 formed a “dark interlude” (a kind of mysterious nether region) in Paul’s argument, and I simply ignored the discomfort of reading this section. In time, I came to see these chapters in very different ways.  Paul reached the crescendo of the doctrinal section of the Epistle to the Romans in these unparalleled chapters.  He gave vent to his evangelistic passion for his people, the Jews.  Like no other place in the Pauline writings, Romans 9-11 reveal the heart of a missionary.


The conclusion of Chapter Eight raises questions concerning God’s dealings with Israel.  The whole chapter resonates with God’s faithfulness and grace toward sinners.  Paul displayed God’s foreknowledge, predestination, effectual calling, and final perseverance of the Lord’s people.  No one, Paul claimed, could bring a charge against God’s elect.  The Father did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all.  The Risen Christ intercedes for the elect, and no force in the universe can separate the saints from the love of God in Christ.  The Lord’s people, by the saving mercies of Christ, win the victory of salvation.  One cannot imagine a more triumphant expression of the God’s glorious faithfulness to his purpose of grace.  But, one might ask, does this discussion of God’s grace tell us about the Lord’s dealings with Israel?


In Paul’s day, as in ours, the Jews largely rejected the Messiah and stood outside the Covenant of Grace.  They were the chosen, covenant people of God. The Hebrews descended from the Patriarchs, beheld the glory of Jehovah, received the Law and the promises, and heard the clarion messages of the Prophets. How could these people fail to receive full measure of God’s grace as revealed in Christ?  Did Israel’s unbelief and disobedience signify a failure in the purposes of God?  If so, how could God’s design unravel like that?  Well, Paul answered these probing and important questions.  He constructs a careful and thoughtful response to these concerns, and the text calls upon Bible students to give rapt attention to the apostle’s argument.


I.                    Paul’s Passion for the Jews (9:1-5)

A.    The Genuineness of Paul’s Passion (v. 1): Like a witness in a court of law, Paul gave a three-fold oath to the truthfulness of his missionary concern.

1.      “I tell the truth in Christ…”

2.      “I am not lying…”

3.      “my conscience also bearing witness in the Holy Spirit…”


B.     The Depth of Paul’s Passion for the Jews (vv. 2-3)

1.      “Great Sorrow”:  Denotes profound emotional grief.  This kind of sorrow involves the intellect as it contemplates and measures the sense of loss. It is a conscious reflection on the loss of the object of one’s love. 

2.      “Continual grief”: This term describes the physical implications of grief, the visceral element pail that arises the deepest recesses of one’s being.  This grief runs so deep that it does not lessen with time.  It knows no relief or respite.

3.      “I could wish that I were accursed”: Of course, Paul did not mean to imply that he hoped to provide a personal atonement for Israel by the sacrifice of his own salvation.  We should avoid pressing these words too literally.  The apostle’s love for Israel, rather, simply reflects the love of Christ for sinners.

C.    The Objects of Paul’s Passion for the Jews (vv. 4-5a): Paul recounted the spiritual privileges of Israel.

1.      “…who are Israelites”

2.      “…to whom pertain the adoption”

3.      “…the glory”

4.      “…the covenants”

5.      “…the giving of the law”

6.      “…The service of God”

7.      “…The promises”

8.      “… Of whom are the fathers”

9.      “ …And from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came”

D.    The End (Purpose) of Paul’s Passion for the Jews (v. 5b): The only motive that will sustain the self-sacrifice necessary for missions is a driving passion for the glory of God—not elaborate evangelistic campaigns, guilt, sad stories about the martyrs, graphic depictions about the staggering needs on the mission field, not romantic stories about noble missionaries (There is a place for all of these things).  Ultimately, only the glory of Christ will buoy our hearts to persevere in the work of evangelism.



II.                 Paul’s Doctrine of Election as It Relates to God’s Purpose of Grace (9:6-33)

A.    Paul’s Introduction of the Doctrine of Election (vv. 6-13): According to Paul, the history of the Jews demonstrates two principles.

1.      The purpose of God’s grace is not traced through the mere physical descendents of Abraham. (vv.6-9) Abraham had many sons (at least eight), but Isaac was the son of promise and faith (See Genesis 21:1-14).  The Jews had no claim on God’s purpose of grace merely because they physically descended from Abraham.  The mark of election is faith in the promises of God.  Election, therefore, does not center on one’s pedigree.

2.      The purpose of God is not based on good works (vv. 10-13):  Some might claim that Jacob enjoyed God’s favor because he practiced good works.  This passage rejects that view.  Men do not receive the grace of God because of their good works; rather, they receive saving mercies through God’s sovereign purpose.

B.     Two Common Objections to the Doctrine of Election (vv. 14-33)

1.      “This isn’t fair.” (vv. 14-29): Paul uses two illustrations to answer this common objection.  First, he reminded his readers of the story of Pharaoh. God raised up (a theatrical term that described the introduction of a new character in a play) the Egyptian monarch, and the Lord displayed divine power and declared God’s name in all the earth (See verse 17). Second, Paul used the illustration of the potter and the clay (See vv. 21-23).

2.      “Why didn’t Israel believe?” (vv. 30-33):The Jews did not receive the righteousness of God by faith because they stumbled over the person and work of Christ.  The Lord Jesus was, for these people a stone of stumbling (See v. 33).  Paul’s observation is reminiscent of I Peter 2:4-8.


Conclusion:  Pastoral concerns about handling the doctrine of election

  1. Handle the doctrine with wise maturity.  Like a surgeon’s scalpel, this doctrine proves most beneficial in the hands of experienced, mature Christians, but careless mishandling can produce sad consequences.
  2. The doctrine of election should produce a profound sense of humility in believers.
  3. This doctrine should buttress the believer’s assurance.
  4. This doctrine should inflame the believer’s passion for soul winning.
  5. This doctrine should comfort believers in the midst of their trials.