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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Romans 8:24-29 – Divine election led to the formation of the Christian church

What would we think of persons who refused to accept the result of a general election and instead pretended that another person had won it? We would accuse them of failing to accept realities. In a far higher sense, there are also realities in the spiritual life and in the spiritual ordering of the world that we should accept, and which will continue to be true whether or not we accept them. What does Paul say we should focus on?

First, he tells us to notice the patience of God with those who previously had resisted his will. Paul tells his readers to look at what had happened to Israel and then ask why it had happened. He says that God revealed his wrath against them in order that his people, whether Jews or Gentiles, would experience his mercy. How long did God's patience last?

Paul refers to two Old Testament passages in order to help his readers understand what God was doing. The first is a quotation from Hosea in which he says that after a period of judgement God would have a people from an unlikely location. This is another way of describing Gentiles who become members of God’s people. The other quotation is from Isaiah and it says that only a remnant of Jews would remain true to God. So Paul is saying that God patiently endured the generations of Israelites who deserved to be punished for their sins while having his eye on the time of future advance when his kingdom would move out into the whole world. What do we see here? We see his promise, his power and his wisdom.

Paul reminds us in this chapter of Romans that divine election gives great blessings to sinners. He tells us here that members of the Christian church are reconciled to God and have become his permanent people. The blessings are seen in the words mercy, glory and sons. Mercy is God’s response to their sins, glory is what God intends to give them, and sons describes the permanent relationship they have with him. Obviously each of them is an aspect of grace, and each of them states that God’s grace is truly amazing. None of the recipients deserved those benefits, yet they are given freely to a countless number.

The devil would like us to respond to the doctrine of election by asking hard questions and ignoring the answers whereas Paul wants us to think about the benefits that election brings our way. It is important to remember that believers have those blessings because God elected them to receive what he had in store for them.

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