Romans 9:1-3

In Romans 9:1-3 Paul opens up and shares his heart – he is making a slight shift in his conversation with us. In Romans chapters one through eight, Paul thoroughly convinced us about man’s need and God’s glorious provision in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt that Paul knows we are all in need of a Savior, and that Jesus is the answer to our sin problem. But now, in chapter 9 and following, his focus changes to the situation Israel is in and how desperately things have become for that people. “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.”

Now, in Romans 9 through 11, Paul deals with the problem associated with the condition of Israel. What does it mean that Israel has missed its Messiah? What does this say about God? What does it say about Israel? What does it say about our present position in God? Is our assurance secure? How can I be secure in God’s love and salvation to me when it seems that Israel was once loved and saved, but now seems to be rejected and cursed? Will God also reject and curse me one day?  Morris, in his commentary, asks these questions: “If God cannot bring his ancient people into salvation, how do Christians know that he can save them? Paul is not here proceeding to a new and unrelated subject. These three chapters are part of the way he makes plain how God in fact saves people.”

Paul feels this burden because he considers a people who seem to be separated from God’s love – unbelieving Israel, who rejected God’s Messiah. The fact that God’s chosen people have basically rejected the solution to their sin problem is troubling. It’s no different than the world we live in today, since God has in fact opened the gift of salvation to all mankind, and yet many choose to continue to wallow in their sin and face a very unpleasant eternity apart from God. This is something that really bothered Paul and was on his heart.  Does the state of mankind today bother you in the same way?

Paul makes a dramatic declaration of Paul’s great love and sorrow for his brethren. Paul says he himself is willing to be separated from Jesus if that could somehow accomplish the salvation of Israel. “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.” This great passion for souls gave Paul perspective. Lesser things did not trouble him because he was troubled by a great thing – the souls of men. Spurgeon wrote “Get love for the souls of men – then you will not be whining about a dead dog, or a sick cat, or about the crotchets of a family, and the little disturbances that John and Mary may make by their idle talk. You will be delivered from petty worries (I need not further describe them) if you are concerned about the souls of men… Get your soul full of a great grief, and your little griefs will be driven out.” That’s what Paul is demonstrating here – his deep love for the souls of mankind – particularly the people of Israel in his day.

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