Monday, October 23, 2023

2023.10.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 9:6–9

Read Romans 9:6–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What might some say, if there are Israelites who do not end up saved (Romans 9:6a)? How does the apostle summarize the case for why this isn’t true (verse 6b)? What does not define a child of Abraham (Romans 9:7a, cf. Romans 4:11–12, John 8:39)? From what Scripture does the apostle prove this (Romans 9:7b, cf. Genesis 21:12)? Who are not the children of God (Romans 9:8a)? Who are the seed/offspring of God (verse 8b)? What child was promised to Abraham (Romans 9:9, cf. Genesis 18:10–14)? What child had not come by promise? Of what was this a parable?

Why do some covenant children perish in their sins? Romans 9:6–9 looks forward to the midweek sermon. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that covenant children perish through parents who don’t believe the promises and children who fail to believe in the promised One.

Has the Word of God failed? One of the most sensitive and difficult spiritual issues for believers is that covenant children sometimes perish. How can this be, when we have called them “saint,” and they have enjoyed the privileges and benefits of being members of the visible church? This was precisely the case with the Jews, as the apostle has made clear by his description of them in Romans 9:4. So, how could it be that so many Jews were rejecting Christ? Did the Word of God about them as a visible church fail? Or did the Word of God that was preached to them fail?

We distinguish. It is odd to the author that many will come to Romans 9–11 and insist that “Israel” must refer to the same group of people when used multiple times in nearby context to one another. “Israel” quite obviously refers to two different groups just a couple words apart in Romans 9:6! They are not all elect/saved Israel who are of covenantal/ethnic Israel. Romans 9:4 had referred to Israel as a covenant people, as a visible church. Romans 9:5 had referred to Israel as an ethnic people, related in their flesh. Now Romans 9:6 explains that being a member of Israel in the verse 4/verse 5 way did not ultimately make someone elect or guarantee that they would be saved.

Parents and children who fail. The apostle’s selections of Scripture in Romans 9:7 (cf. Genesis 21:12) and Romans 9:9 (cf. Genesis 18:10, Genesis 18:14) are very impressive. In the former one, the Lord was promising the one through whom the Christ would come, and Sarah was disbelieving. In the latter quote, it is Sarah who is defending the integrity of the covenant line through whom Christ would come, and Abraham has to be rebuked/instructed by God to heed her good counsel. In both places, there is a parent who has the promises of Christ for us and for our children, but who is failing to make proper application of it. This is what fails when covenant children perish, as so many Jews were doing in Paul’s day: not the promise, but our believing and responding to the promise.

The God Who remains true. Despite Abraham’s weakness and Sarah’s weakness, God’s promise remained true. He brought them to repentance. He brought their sons to faith—not just Isaac but also Ishmael. When we are failing as parents (as we often/constantly do), our cry to God must be that He would give us repentance and faithfulness, and that He Who is perfectly faithful would yet bring our children to faith. Isaac was not saved by being the one through whom the Seed (and seed) were called. He was saved by believing in the Seed that would come through him. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Ishmael were all saved only by believing in the promised one. For children of the flesh (Romans 9:8a) to become children of God (verse 8c) by being children of the promise (verse 8b), they must believe in the promised one.

So covenant parents must not do as so many Jews did (assume that they were being saved by being Jews and being presumptuous about themselves and their children). Believing the promises doesn’t mean presumptuously ignoring the means appointed by the faithful Word, but rather diligently using them. Believing the promises doesn’t mean neglecting to call covenant children to believe in the promised One, but constantly employing the Word of promise to plead with them to believe in Him. Never has the Word been thus employed and failed.

When we find ourselves failing, we must turn to Him Whose Word does not fail, asking Him to grant repentance to us, and faith to our children—that the God Who overcame Abraham’s and Sarah’s failings would overcome ours as well. Dear covenant child, who might be reading this devotional, or hearing it taught to you by your own Christian parent. God has made promises concerning you that you are identified within “the adoption,” see in “the glory,” have signified to you in “the covenants,” have taught you in “the law,” lay claim to in “the worship of God,” and hear promised to you in “the promises” (Romans 9:4). Believe in the promised One! Believe in Jesus Christ! Don’t presume upon yourself or your status. Children of the flesh are not saved by being children of the flesh, or by their covenant status, but only by believing in Jesus Christ.

What is your hope for yourself? What things has God given you, in His church, to encourage you in that hope? What is your hope for your children? What things has God given you, in His church, to encourage you in that hope? Why must you not hope merely in their being from your flesh or in their being part of His church?

Sample prayer: Lord, we thank You for Your many good and precious promises about the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You for announcing Him to us, and showing Him to us, in so many ways as members of Your church. And thank You for giving us promises, also, concerning our children. Grant that by Your Spirit, we would be faithful to urge them to hope in Christ as He is offered to them in the gospel. And grant that by Your Spirit, they would do so, we ask in Christ’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP126 “What Blessedness” or TPH405 “I Love They Kingdom, Lord”

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