So we have firmly established that God did not look into the future and see that I was good enough to be saved. I did not make the right decision to be saved or do a bunch of “good” works to be saved. We now know that from eternally past, God looked upon me and saw my wickedness, my evilness, my sins, and trespasses and graciously, sovereignly, completely, and mightily decided to save me if for no other reason other than for His glory.
Romans 8:29 (CSB) For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Isaiah 48:9–11 (CSB) I will delay my anger for the sake of my name, and I will restrain myself for your benefit and for my praise, so that you will not be destroyed. Look, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. I will act for my own sake, indeed, my own, for how can I be defiled? I will not give my glory to another.
Where do you see God in the text? What does the text say about God?
But because God is so glorious, the overabundance of that glory is my joy:
Psalm 16:11 (CSB) You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.
But how did God save us?
In other words, was it enough for God to save us by sending his Son to be born of an unwed, virgin, teenage girl and to live as a carpenter’s stepson?
Was it enough for the Son of God, filled with the Spirit of God, to wait until he was 30 years old to start his earthly ministry, all the while spending his entire life completely sinless and perfectly obeying the law of God?
Was it enough for Christ Jesus to finish his life and ministry by being falsely accused, falsely arrested, falsely tried, and falsely executed upon a Roman cross for crimes and sins he did not commit?
Furthermore, to be buried in a tomb for three days, and by that same Spirit of God that dwelled in him, risen again to be made alive, and then continued his ministry on earth for 40 more days and then ascend to the right hand of the Father?
Was all of that enough for Jesus Christ to save His people?
Anybody who has grown up in church all of their lives will shout the answer, “You must believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved!” That is the answer. Just believe in the one who lived and died for you and you shall be saved.
John 3:16 (CSB) For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
But let us think about this: what if Christ came to live and die and no one believed? Would his life and death be in vain? Absolutely not, because Christ death on the cross on actually and factually accomplished something.
The Bible speaks of this through and through. I believe it is most evident in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 1 verse 21:
Matthew 1:21 (CSB) She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Read that verse. Does it give the mere possibility of saving his people from their sins or does it say distinctly will save? Does God fail in anything that he will set out to accomplish? Even if his word goes out, it will accomplish something and does not go out in vain , what more than God alone who all powerful, all knowing, and ever-present will perfectly set out what he wants to accomplish.
We say believe but did God die for the possibility of saving everybody? If we have established that God will perfectly execute his plans then we know that even the mere possibility indicates possible failure. Even we can bring up a couple verses starting in 1 John:
1 John 2:1 (CSB) My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous one.
But reading 1 John as a whole especially starting with chapter 2 verse 1, we can see that John’s intention was not to say “the whole world is saved” but rather that all brothers and sisters for all around the world are saved because of the the propitiating work of Jesus Christ who is our advocate with the Father when and if we do sin. To even suggest that the whole world would be saved would directly contradict Matthew’s witness account of Jesus: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”1
And I would say that John would be contradicting himself in his own gospel account in the aforementioned John 3:16. But look closely: John did not write, “that whoever believes and doesn’t believe in him should not perish” but “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”2
Yes, John did write in verse 17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” but see how he ends the chapter with verse 36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)
Both John, Matthew and the writers of the Bible are not mincing words when we speak of who God does and does not save (especially when you read about the Kingdom of God in Matthew chapter 13]. Instead of looking at individual verses and making them stand on their own, let us be like Christ when he walked on the road to Emmaus and understand the entire Bible speaks about himself, Jesus Christ.
So we know that God is powerful to save. We know it wasn’t our “good works” or right decision that attracted the grace and favor of God upon us. We have established that God didn’t send his Son to die in mere hopes that we would make the right decision. Think about this:.
We must always remember that, unlike Christ, we came into this world “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”3
We were all born sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God — remembering that this is the same glory that God spoke about by which he would save His people.
We have all fallen short of the glory of God that saves us.
What are we to do if we are not already saved?
Without God, we are blind and cannot see. We are deaf and cannot hear. We have minds but cannot understand. We inhale breath but we are not completely alive.
In other words, we are completely dead in our trespasses.
But open your eyes and see this good news: Just as Moses lifted the serpent up in the wilderness that the Israelites might look upon it and be saved4, God appeared:
Titus 3:4-7 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
God saves us
- According to his own mercy
- By the washing of regeneration
- Renewal of the Holy Spirit
- Poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior
- Justified by his grace
- So that we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life
- Might not as in mere possibility but based on the strength of the love our God our Father by the power of the Holy Spirit through the broken body of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
There is no greater news than this because there is no greater love than this.
In this immense love and grace, receive the gift!
Receive the gift of God’s forgiveness
Ezekiel 36:25–27 (CSB) I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.
Receive the gift of repentance
Ephesians 2:8–9 (CSB) For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
Receive the gift of sight to see and behold God
Mark 10:48-52 (CSB) Many warned him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, “Have mercy on me, Son of David! ” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up; he’s calling for you.” 50 He threw off his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus answered him, “What do you want me to do for you? ” “Rabboni,” the blind man said to him, “I want to see.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has saved you.” Immediately he could see and began to follow Jesus on the road.
Receive the gift that is God!
Psalms 34:8-9 (CSB) Taste and see that the LORD is good.
How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!
You who are his holy ones, fear the LORD,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
Matthew 6:33 (CSB) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Luke 11:13 (CSB) If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? ”
Romans 8:32 (CSB) He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything?
Yours is to do nothing but sit still, know that He is God, that He is good, that His steadfast love endures forever and ever and receive Him.
The moment we listen to the lies of Satan, this world, and our old hearts that we have to earn God’s sweet, precious love is is anti-Christ–because Christ did it all.
Zephaniah 3:17 (CSB) The LORD your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will be quiet in his love. He will delight in you with singing.”
Do you know because of Christ, the Triune God looks upon you and delights you in singing and rejoices over you in gladness–continuously forever without ceasing.
As a dad, I delight in my children but I cannot do so perfectly nor continuously because I am broken man who is being healed and sanctified by God. As your brother-in-Christ, I am delight in you because I love you so much but not 100% all the time–because I am limited.
God can and does because He is unlimited, infinite and compassionate. Forever and ever.
We receive you. We hold our hands and receive all of the gifts which is everything because you have given us your Son, Lord Jesus Christ. In him we have everything. And nothing in our old hearts, old selves, in this world, nor Satan can compete with everything. Open our minds, hearts, mouths, hands to receive you Come Lord Jesus. Amen.
by John Calvin.
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by Octavius Winslow.
Banner of Trust. 1991.
Romans: An Expositional Commentary
by R.C. Sproul.
Reformation Trust Publishing. 2019.
The Letter to the Romans (New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT))
by Douglas Moo.
New Testament Commentary: Romans: Chapters 1-16
by William Hendriksen.
by William S. Plumer.
Romans: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
by Robert Mounce.
Holmon Reference. 1995.
Romans (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT Volume 6)
Edited by Gerald L. Bray.
IVP Academic. 2005.
Commentary on Romans
by Martin Luther.