Mercy Is God’s Choice, Not Ours (Romans 9:14-18)

Every NRCA teacher wants every student we teach to love Jesus and do what He says. We are passionate about the specific subjects we teach, but we are more passionate about the God we serve and the students we seek to disciple. We want to be God’s instruments to help form a biblical worldview in the young minds and hearts entrusted to our care. Sometimes we get bogged down in the nuts and bolts challenges of teaching so many students at a time: discipline, lesson planning, grading, and handling various interruptions and special circumstances…😔. But if you catch an NRCA teacher on a good day (probably after a few days…or weeks…off) and ask them, “Why do you teach in a Christian school?”, you will hear something about helping children and young adults become like Jesus in their thoughts, desires, and actions.

And yet not all of our students seem to want that for themselves. The cost of following Christ seems too great for some to be willing to let God change them. For others, the cares and worries of this present life seem more important than eternal spiritual matters. For a few, they remain unconvinced for different reasons that Jesus really is God, that there really is a life after this, and that Christianity is more than a human invention to get people to behave. In biblical terms, such students are “hardened” by sin and unbelief and cannot see the awesomeness of God and the urgency of His kingdom. They are spiritually dead and not alive to Christ. And it is absolutely heartbreaking to watch from our places as teachers. For reasons beyond what we can understand, Romans 9:17-18 tells us that God allows some people to remain hardened in their sins and even somehow strengthens their unbelief as He did with Pharaoh, who would not let God’s people go in the face of countless miracles proving God’s power. But God cannot be blamed for the hardness of anyone’s heart. Unbelievers will bear the full responsibility for their sins both now and on the day of their judgment; there is no “unrighteousness with God” for not waking them up and saving them (Romans 9:14). This may seem unfair to us, but we are not God, says Paul, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit (who is God) when He wrote today’s verses.

Instead, God directs us to focus our attention on His incredible mercy in saving some, namely us as Christians! Just as God chose to show mercy to Moses, a runaway murderer, and Israel, an ungrateful and disobedient nation, He chose to show mercy in saving us, people who were not loving and seeking Him before our salvation (Romans 9:15). If you are a Christian, it is because of God’s mercy and grace in changing your heart to hate sin and love Jesus. In the midst of going your own way in life, in the middle of your sin and selfishness, the Word and Spirit of God went to work on you and you were saved by the power of God. Our conversion or new birth from the Spirit did not come by our own will or doing – it was “not of him who wills, nor of him who runs” – but was accomplished by “God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:17). This truth about God’s sovereignty is humbling and freeing because it gives God all of the glory for our salvation. And it helps us to persevere in our attempts to make disciples because we realize that God alone has the power to change hearts, not us; our job is just to be faithful witnesses for Jesus. Finally, this leads us to pray for God’s mercy and compassion to reach out and save those whom we so want to see saved. May God continue to save and redeem people in our school community, and may He get all the praise for it.

The Text (Romans 9:14-18)

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

Questions to Think About

  1. Can you think of some examples from the Old Testament of famous Israelites who sinned greatly but still received God’s mercy and grace?
  2. As you heard the teacher and staff testimonies in chapel, what examples did you hear of people sinning and ignoring God for a time but still receiving His mercy and grace?
  3. In your own life, give some examples of sin and unbelief that God has chosen to forgive you of and blessed you with grace in spite of.

In Christ,

Mr. Reel

One thought on “Mercy Is God’s Choice, Not Ours (Romans 9:14-18)

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