Category Archives: The Book

This Magnificent Man! Day 1

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Over the past several months I have been immensely enriched by taking a hand in hand journey with Peter and Mark. My adventure in Mark’s Gospel has drawn me into the scenes, the smells and the sounds of a time in the past and has enlivened  my senses to a Jesus who seems to come out of the pages.

I will begin to post my journey here on “Thoughts From My Moleskine” and I want to invite you to come with me, eat with me, feast with me.  This is not a technical work as much as it is a story, one that calls us to enter into.

Now… we begin.

THE BEGINNING

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,  “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

Beginnings start at the beginning and Mark sets in motion the story, not just any story but a story that has impacted all of creation and shall continue to do so for all eternity.  This is the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is filled with amazing joy and deep pathos.  There are tears of profound saddness  and shouts of Hallelujah, babies, demon possessed, prostitutes, raging seas, jealous followers, cruel death and an empty tomb.    But our narration does not begin in a manger. It begins with the pen of an aged Prophet, seven hundred and fifty years earlier who is drawn into the far distant future.

Sitting at his desk Isaiah is arrested by the Holy Spirit.  This is no strange thing for this man. It is not a sudden fit nor is it a trance but rather a beckoning to come aside and listen. He is accustomed to such special moments, accustomed but never comfortable with them.  He sits attentive smothered with great respect and a sense of awe.   His wife a prophetess in her own right understood the things he saw and heard and even his sons were named to reinforce the prophetic narrative of Judah, but this didn’t make anything better for his kinsmen.  The enemies of Judah would soon surround her and the life span of her walls seemed numbered.

Smoke from Babylonian campfires would one day soon fill the nostrils of frightened Jews. It was a bleak time but it belonged to YHWH and he was about to speak something that men would hardly believe.  It is during this difficult season that God points to a future that seems like a pipe dream to those who hear it.  In the darkness of men’s pessimism the Holy Spirit interjects Himself and sounds forth a different narrative, one that contradicts the story on the ground.

Prophets do that! They see an alternative and then against all odds proclaim it with an assurance that causes the “brokers of power” unavoidable tension.

Mark sets the stage with a quote from Malachi and then concludes with a passage from Isaiah’s fortieth chapter.  The prophetic announcement bursts forth like a sonic boom with a “voice of one crying in the wilderness.”  He uses words like ‘messenger,’ ‘voice,’ ‘crying,’ and ‘wilderness.’  This is no political machine or a new conqueror about to come to the forefront appearing like the proverbial knight in shining armor.  It is herald by a single man, a man who would be called the last and the greatest of all the prophets.  It is the urgent disclosure that someone is coming and you’d better get ready!

Imagine it.  Isaiah was telling people not yet born to set their house in order and brace themselves for the dawning of a new era!

This is where Mark begins!

 

 

 

 

 


1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’” (ESV)

The Table

The Text

 

They come to the table each with a degree of hunger. Some with more than others but it is hunger that drives them onward in the search. Manners don’t matter here. What matters is satisfaction!

The book is opened and words are read that echo another reality.

Hearts race and the soul is fed!

Such is our time each Thursday night as several of us gather around I Thessalonians.

But knowledge is not enough. Light is meant to guide not entertain. So, we ponder, “How do we put such jewels of truth into practice?”

Our lives are enriched while our behavior slowly changes to that which was once only “letter” but now has become “Manna from Heaven!” My being absorbs heavenly nutrition and I literally “Become what I eat!”

Dinner was good!

 

JW III

Antinomy, the unavoidable mystery

 

What is this?  When two particles collide it produces an explosion.  When two ideas collide it may produce at best sincere debate or at worse war!  Antinomy is when two laws based on sound reasoning oppose one another, and the Bible seems to be full of them.  Church history is filled with our inadequate responses to such collisions, and it doesn’t look like antinomies are going to go away any time soon.

Communication is filled with contradictions, metaphors and paradoxes but an antinomy is a different animal all together.  It produces a head on crash between two fixed truths.  Let me explain.

Contradictions and paradoxes are figures of speech, a play on words based on interpretation and conjecture while an antinomy is a contradiction between conclusions that seem equally logical, reasonable and necessary. They exist when a pair of principles or laws stand side by side yet are seemingly irreconcilable and at the same time undeniable. These are based on more than opinion or tradition but rather fact and clear evidence.  For instance, JI Packer describes it like this.

 “It is not apparent how light can be both waves and particles, but the evidence is there, and so neither view can be ruled out in favor of the other.  Neither however can be reduced to the other or explained in terms of the other; the two seemingly incompatible positions must be held together, and both must be treated as true. Such a necessity scandalizes our tidy minds, no doubt, but there is no help for it if we are to be loyal to the facts.”

Do you feel “scandalized” yet?

Such occurrences are seen frequently in scripture namely the apparent conflict between election and free will.  The evidence for both arguments is clear and overwhelming.  One cannot ignore free will and embrace election without being dishonest with the evidence. The point is that the only way you can reject one and accept the other is to lie with the text.

Western brains have difficulty with this. We are trained to accept the logical and reject the cryptic, yet, the Bible presents us with a curve ball and it’s called mystery!  Solid calculations fall short in the quest to understand such secrets.  So, what do we do when faced with such uncomfortable conflicts?

Some have devised cleaver arguments that support their views, embracing one while demeaning the other. But such reactions are in my opinion dishonest to the text.  You simply cannot jettison what is written to make your point.   Our only recourse I suggest is to believe them both.  The belief in such mysterious diversity should provoke wonder, doxology, and unfettered praise for the Author of mystery rather than disharmony, contention and war.  Let me not be misunderstood. There are times when the fight is legitimate.  There are truths worth defending however much of our bellicose theology is formed over an unwillingness to accept antinomy.

Accept the evidence, embrace the mystery and celebrate the God of Truth through the greatest mystery of all Jesus Christ.  Then the world will know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another.

The Quest for the Best

I want to be a man who seeks for knowledge and understanding.  Not the knowledge of the letter – that of Plato, church history, grammar. This knowledge is but the stage, the curtain, it is the lighting set upon the stage, it is the stetting; while true knowledge and understanding waits behind the curtains! These are the main actors. These are the ones I seek.

But they are not seen without a purchased ticket.  Knowledge and understanding does not come but by sifting through tons of paper and ink. This is why it must be sought for, it is hidden. Hidden things must be searched for otherwise they would be in plain sight and this is my quest, to feed on the hidden treasures of His infinite wisdom and understanding.  The Bible says that for the one who searches for wisdom and understanding he will discover them and with them treasures of untold wealth!  


13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed. (ESV)

A Path to Longing

I entered the Barnes and Noble with high expectations. A title of a book had been floating around in my readings and I decided to buy it. My time in the U.S would be brief and this would be my only chance to get it. I walked up to the young lady working behind the counter and asked, “Do you have the book titled How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler”? I got the strangest look from her before she burst out into a deep belly laugh. I could read her mind, “A book about how to read, how absurd.”  She quickly skimmed her computer and told me that no such title existed.  Well, I now have the book and it is as tangible as the chair I am sitting in and Dr. Adler has some very poignant comments about how to read and read well.  And so I take his cues while I meet with an old friend, C.S. Lewis.

Professor Lewis awakens me. He invites me into those areas that cause me to think deeper than in other occasions. One such work that so stimulates this profound intrigue is his book, The Weight of Glory. In it he arouses a joy for words and their capacity to stir up longing.  He writes, “The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them: it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.” He adds, “For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have not yet visited.”

Words have impact. If you find that hard to believe, talk harsh to an airline attendant and see where it leads to. But words also have appeal, appeal to go beyond the letter and enter that mystical realm of what they are saying. No other book or literary work has ever demonstrated such impact as the Bible, and because it is such a work, no other book deserves such study, such deliberate consideration as the one given by God Himself.  However, I am afraid that many of us approach the Bible with the superficial reading we apply to looking at our e-mail.

In ancient times the Greeks had a name for those who read but read poorly. They were called Sophomores.” They read but did not learn. There is a vast difference between learning by instruction and learning by discovery and sadly, many of us read the letter but fail to reach the discovery. I think this is what Mr. Lewis was saying when he said that the books were not the thing itself, they were symbols of a sort to awaken us to something far greater and that far greater thing is longing!

So, what results do you find in your heart when you read the lovely Psalms, the wisdom of Proverbs, or the stories of Christ in the Gospels?  Could it be that the reaction of our heart betrays our sophomoric reading?

My brother, read deep, read slow, and read often, those words that will abide for eternity and a gradual change will begin to take place in your heart. Indifference and triviality will become distant shadows.   There, we will move from mere instruction to discovery, the discovery of the central Person of the Universe!

There, you will long like never before!

Brothers preach the Gospel to your Church

Part II

Pedro, Touched but not Regenerated

Pedro is suffering. Perhaps he has been diagnosed with a liver disease and the doctors are very pessimistic about his prognosis. Pedro never has been in church he is lost but he has a Christian friend who invites him to his church. Pedro agrees and goes to a church meeting where the evangelist is preaching on healing. At the conclusion of his sermon the invitation is given, not to be born again but to be healed. Pedro’s friend urges him to the front. As the evangelist makes his way over to Pedro, Pedro senses a mixture between fear and excitement. Could it be that Jesus could heal me?  As the evangelist prays Pedro feels a change in his body. The nausea leaves immediately and a pervading peace envelops him. He returns to his seat obviously better, less nervous and he is overwhelmed by the love he feels from the saints.  Everyone is hugging him and welcoming him.  Pedro goes home and has a doctor’s appointment when he discovers that the issue with his liver is complexly healed.  Pedro has been touched by Divine Grace! Excited he starts going to church, buys a Bible, learns of the benefits of tithing, and begins to understand more of the Bible and the promises of God. Time passes and because of his enthusiasm he is invited by his pastor to work with the youth. In time he is seen as a leader but one who carries with him huge bags filled with issues that he cannot resolve. Counseling, miracle services, more learning simply do not bring victory. He becomes disillusioned as the problems between him and his wife increase. Their 10 year marriage ends in divorce as he is attracted to another “sister.”  His life now lays in ruins and deceit. How did this happen?

The scenario I paint above is all too common in the contemporary church. But it can be avoided. How did Pedro get to this point?  I suggest the following. When he was filled with sickness and a precious friend invited him to church in that meeting God by His abundant mercy and great love reached down and touched Pedro with his grace.  That “touch” was powerful and overwhelming but it left Pedro with the thought that everything was alright between he and God.  He mistook that “touch of grace” as being born again, and because the gospel was never preached in the church this illusion continued for years.  Then in his hidden hypocrisy and disillusionment he goes to church with his religious face painted on and hears a word that penetrates to the depths of his heart!  He is convicted as the Gospel is unpacked before his eyes and heart. Light explodes in his being, his eyes fill with tears and he discovers the lie is a lie. Today he can be born again. Pedro after having been in church for more than a decade humbly bows his heart before the Lord and comes to receive the Jesus.    To everyone’s amazement and to the chagrin of his pastor Pedro surrenders.  His pastor wonders, “How could this be?” “He has been in my church for ten years. Surely he doesn’t understand what he is doing.” I will talk with him afterwards.”

Dear pastor listen carefully to me. Pedro almost went to Hell because of you!  You were more interested in preaching what tickles the ears of men, gaining the favor of your peers, growing a church by whatever means possible and yet you refused to lift up the cross of Christ. You did not turn His people from their wicked ways. You ran after fads and exciting revelations and allowed the cross to become a tangent thing, not needful or central in your message. Pedro almost went to Hell because you did not preach the Gospel in your church!  Shame on you sir!  You will give account for your Eli-like negligence in your duty to Christ and His church.  Your church may be big in the earth but your palace in heaven will be as small as a cabin.  O Brothers, PREACH THE GOSPEL IN YOUR CHURCHES!

Stay tuned for part III

Keep Your Dober up!

Sustaining a lasting passion

That’s a weird phrase but it means a lot to me.  These were the words given to us by our coach when we were behind in a game or when we were at practice the first day after a loss.  The team would be down and discouraged and at the right moment coach would say, “Keep your dober up.”   Now literally speaking I don’t have a clue what a “dober” is, but in this context it meant your courage, your faith and your excitement.   What does your “dober” have to do with this article?

Recently in the Institute I was teaching on leadership and one of the qualities needed as a good leader, PASSION!  I concluded that portion of the class when a student asked me, “How does one maintain his passion?” That was a great question and one I must confess that caught me off guard. I had seconds to ponder the answer and then I gave her what I thought was correct. Since that dialog I have spent some time thinking on the answer I gave her and that is why I am writing this article.

I think to answer this question one must first define what passion is.

I would define passion as “The proper response to the full view of the majesty of Christ and Jesus Christ 2the cross.”  It is a natural reaction to something seen and savored, a response of intense attraction.  If this is correct then to increase and sustain my passion I must focus on the one thing that produces the reaction.  If I try to increase my zeal and passion by focusing on the passion itself, I will have little more than temporary foam and “herd” excitement.  I will be like a child going to the park full of life as he rides the merry-go-round and climbs the monkey bars, then when the sun goes down he returns home, tired and dirty, with the memory of the park but the zeal remains where he spent the day, at the park.  His excitement is only good for as long as he is in the park.

But what is it that will sustain your passion through this daily march of life, on a continual and consistent basis? But is it that will not only sustain your passion but increase it as well?

I would think that it is the looking backward towards the cross and Christ, savoring all that He did – beholding Him and being in awe with profound gratitude more so than looking forward and being excited about what might happen tomorrow.   Passion to me would be the most natural response to the wide-eyed discovery of Christ and His work!   I think Jonathan Edwards would agree.

In his work on Religious affections he writes:

“If we ought ever to exercise our affections at all, (that is his term for emotions or passion) and if the Creator has not unwisely constituted the human nature in making these principles a part of it, then they ought to be exercised about those objects which are most worthy of them.  But is there anything in heaven or on earth so worthy to be the objects of our admiration and love, our earnest zeal as those things which are held forth to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”

One may ask, “Will going to church each Sunday or attending conferences or concerts, sustain my passion?” My answer, “They will if they draw me back to Christ!”  If all I get are cries to embrace a movement, endear myself to a speaker or a musician I will enjoy “the park and the merry-go round” for a time, but if they yank me back from myself and point my nose to Christ, then my weariness is replaced by the view of His magnificence and my heart ignites with earnest zeal and love.

So how does one sustain this zeal and intensity of love for Christ? By returning to the source of it, the Gospel of Christ.  My heart is ignited as I ponder the depths of His achievements on the cross. I stand in awe, not so much for what He will do but for what He has done, and this solid embrace of what He has done gives my immeasurable hope and joy as I consider what He is about to do.

Love is sustained!

Love grows!

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Ifo-Comercials and Jesus

I have noticed a trend that disturbs me greatly. It seems that the contemporary church is more drawn towards supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit while at the same time she is abandoning and even mocking serious Bible study and Theology. These two things thrust us into very dangerous waters.  Both are important and valid. God is a God of the supernatural and contrary to what some think He still does miracles, however, we are more inclined to run after the supernatural than we are to sink our roots deep into his Word. This view is even endorsed and espoused by well know public ministers who give the impression that if you are just filled with the Holy Spirit you do not need to embrace the Word. They don’t say it like that but rather in their comments they mock any serious study of doctrine or theology, comparing it to what seems to be a superior experience found in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Frankly, I am tired of hearing men demean and mock the quest to know the Bible, and furthermore, such action, to me, displays just the opposite, an emptiness of His presence, not a fullness.

The reason for this disturbing trend is numerable. Those who follow hard after knowledge find the Word most appealing but in time tend develop a disdain for genuine miracles and those who experience them. This will often produce a “modern Pharisee,” knowledgeable of the Word but dry in his heart.   Meanwhile on the other side of the coin, there are those who seek after the supernatural phenomena but cast aside the security afforded by scripture. These become like those whose anchor is severed and are carried about by every wind of doctrine.

As I view where the Lord has put me I seem to be more among those who pursue the supernatural at the cost of serious Bible study.  I am not saying that everyone who wants to experience the supernatural touch of God is devoid of Bible knowledge, it’s good to want to see the demonstration of His power in the earth, but what I am saying is that we find it much easier to go to a meeting and sense His wonder and majesty and then ignore the daily discipline of serious surrender to the Word. We want an instant “text message” straight from the mouth of the prophet, a short cut bypassing rigorous study. Our culture has come to the point where we have become lazy. We want a fifteen minute “info-commercial” not too heavy, quick, soothing, and jazzy.  It use to be the exception but today we have so become accustomed to  face book, iphones, and video clips on my space that we approach the greatest object of all with the same shallowness. Our attention span when it comes to approaching the Lord of the universe is no longer than it is for a commercial during the half time in the super bowl. Simply put, we prefer comics over literature. So, we want a powerful touch more than intrigue, a demonstration of raw strength more than to be left in awe by mystery.  We want the super conducted, micro waved jolt from heaven more than the substantial change brought about by the intense pursuit of Truth!  At least this has been my observation through the last several years.

I cannot change the trend but I can conqueror myself and fight the tendency to be lazy. I can strive to keep my heart open and hungry for those genuine moments when the Holy Spirit announces His presence with miracles and awesome power and at the same time embrace with all diligence the eager pursuit of His Word.

I think that somewhere between the two I will fine what I long for, Him!

“Three Slaps and you’re out!”

A Slap in the face

Have you ever been slapped in the face by God? I mean, not so much as to punish you but more to get your attention? My face is “red” from some of the things my quiet time has recently uncovered. For several days I have been in Romans and is, well, a wake up call of sorts. It has to do with something that many don’t know about and others have a hard time with. It’s called ELECTION.

We all know that God is big, so big that He can do whatever He chooses. He rules the universe and never asks our permission or seeks our counsel. He stands in a place by Himself and there is none other like Him. Therefore He is free to rule and govern according to His infinite wisdom, the affairs of men. Paul shows us a glimpse of this in Romans .

His argument in this chapter illumines the difference between the law and grace; that those who followed the law and are the physical offspring of Abraham are not necessarily those who are saved, but rather those whom God elects. Then he goes further and explains Gods selection method. He points out how God chose Jacob and Esau even before they were born, “in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of His call…” These two men we are told, were chosen by God before they were old enough to choose for themselves. They had nothing to do with it. Jacob and Esau were chosen before they were born () and God said “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Ugh! Slap number one!

That is a hard pill to swallow in our modern theological ambiance. We have difficulty with this. “I thought God loved everybody?” “Doesn’t this sound a little unjust?” Strong questions about a strong subject that subtly reveal how far we have drifted from Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Obviously we are not the first to ask these difficult things for he follows in , “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Paul’s conclusion is “So then it depends not on human will or exertion but on God.” () He clarifies this by describing how God chose Pharaoh so that He could show his mighty power and proclaim His name over all the earth. Pharaoh was not a nice guy yet God chose him for a purpose, to display His infinite worth among all the nations through Israel.

Then we come to “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills and he hardens whomever he wills.” UGH! Slap number two! Mercy and hardness, two extremes with the emphasis, “Whoever He wills.”

So God is free to choose as He desires and His choices are just and righteous. There are those destined for compassion and those who are not. I cannot come up with any other deduction.

Paul categorically states there is no injustice in God. There just cannot be! If there were then He couldn’t be God. But this raises another problem. If He chooses us even before we are born then how can he still find fault in those who have been destined to hardness? Paul’s answer is “Don’t ask!” “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to the molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?” Paul is showing them that the potter has all the power over the clay, that’s why He is God and to question His choices is to infringe on His power to choose. So he speaks to our insatiable desire for understanding by saying, “Don’t go there, you don’t need to know this.” UGH! Slap number three. There are questions that are not to be asked in this life. “Who are you O man to answer back to God?” It’s not just a question involved here but rather an argument against God’s divine right to choose and Paul says, ‘Be careful, don’t go there!’

But now we come to the crux of the chapter in . These disturbing truths are now put into a context allowing us to see why God chose what He chose. Let’s read them together. “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

These verses to me explode with hope and deep gratitude. I read them and my heart wants to shout Hosannas to our righteous God. What is Paul saying here?

God in His infinite wisdom and patience endured such vessels of wrath in order to demonstrate the riches of His glory to us the elect! He calls you the elect “vessels of mercy,” and for you he works behind the scenes “enduring with patience” all the wickedness contrived by the vessels of destruction to make known His unfathomable love by showing us the “riches of His glory” in the midst of darkness. That’s a mouthful!

Let me put it this way. God is in control and he has ordained that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. In all things He will shine forth the riches of His glory through His saints and no “vessel of destruction” will thwart it in any way! That’s why Paul could say that we are more than conquerors, that nothing can harm you! That’s why he stated in 1Co 1:26-31 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Just think, one day you heard His word. It came like a bolt of lightning and suddenly your eyes were opened to Jesus. The call came; faith was born and out of your lips came the simple confession that Jesus is Lord. You were regenerated, born again and chosen to live a life of insurmountable joy and victory, all because He chose you! You confirmed that choice when you gave your life to Him. Now if this is so, and we who were not his people and who were not the beloved but now bear that wonderful mark of being His children (), isn’t that worthy of living in a way that reflects His gracious mercy? You bet it is!

So join with me in Paul’s admonition; “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

I think I like the slaps!


9:1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 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 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (ESV)


9:1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 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 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (ESV)


11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— (ESV)


14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 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.” (ESV)


16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (ESV)


18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (ESV)


20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? (ESV)


22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (ESV)


25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” (ESV)