Lesson 2 – God’s Choice and Justice

God’s Choice and Justice 

Lesson Aim:        To show there is no unrighteousness in God’s activity because all people need His mercy.

Scriptures:           Rom. 9:14- 10:4.


So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.  Rom. 9:16 

The “it” in the above scripture includes God’s eternal purpose in the creation of this world and mankind.  The world has ignored God’s purpose in creation to the extent they do not realize He has a purpose.  They seek to discover other purposes for the existence of this world and themselves.

Religious people who recognize God but do not know His purpose for creation cannot abide by His choice in carrying out His plan for accomplishing His purpose.  Some try to attain their own purposes according to their will rather than God’s will (Rom. 10:3).  Man’s purposes generally involve self-pride.  They seek glory in their own achievements by praise from people rather than God (John 5:44).

Israel by natural birth did not know God’s purposes for their eternal existence (John 1:6-11).  They had strong feelings about their own purposes.  They believed in Jehovah God and supposed their purposes were His purposes.  Their purposes involved national and personal pride.  Since pride is based on personal works they were trying to fulfill what they thought was God’s purpose by works (Rom. 9:32).  The real problem with physical Israel, as well as the physical world, is they do not know God’s predestined purpose for mankind (Rom. 8:28-30).  Thus they live in Satan’s world of darkness (Acts 26:18).


In our effort to follow Paul’s chain of thinking in the assigned text we need to think about why he said what he said right here in this portion of his letter.  The first point in verse sixteen is God does not need help from people.  People need God’s mercy.  At the end of our text we find Paul saying the “natural children” of Israel pursued righteousness by works.  They had a problem with pride; their attitude was, we can do this thing on our own.  We are the children of Abraham (Luke 3:8).  Pride is a problem for people who have fallen short of the accepted standard for glory.  It is even more of a problem when they have zeal; especially when their “zeal is not based on knowledge.”  Rom. 10:2.  Therefore, to attempt to follow Paul’s way of thinking in our text, let us start from God’s point of view as He expressed it to Moses: 

I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.  Romans 9:15 

His declaration does not blend with people’s way of thinking who are trying to “make it” on their own.  Self-righteous people would consider a statement like this as God being belligerent, or at least, boastful.  The following statement would, no doubt, be the “straw that broke the camel’s back:

      So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.  Romans 9:18

God is not only saying He alone will decide on whom to show mercy and compassion but He may harden and use people whom He decides not to show mercy, if He desires.  The Apostle Paul anticipated the following question in response:  “You will say to me then, why does He still find fault?  For who resists His will?”  Rom. 9:19. 

It appears this question gets Paul to the topic he has been striving to reach.  God is sovereign.  He illustrates his point about sovereignty by stating; God is the potter and man is the clay.  Clay does not argue with the one who is the molder.  God created man.  Man did not help.  God had His own purpose in why and how He created us.  Mankind fell from glory by his own choice.  Man was disobedient to God.  God has mercy.  If it is right for God to have mercy on those whom He desires, is it not also right for Him to harden whom He desires?  Yes, He has this right and mankind must understand God has this right.  His sovereignty gives Him this right.  At the same time Christians know He loves us and He is righteous.  The Jews who were living by works did not have faith in God on this level.

With God’s sovereignty clearly established in our minds, let us return to the questions in verse 19.  “Why does He still find fault?  For who resists His will?”  Would we care to answer these questions personally?  Can God find fault with us?  Yes, He can.  Did we resist His will?  Yes, we do.  Is this not true of everyone who ever lived to maturity with the exception of Jesus Christ?  This is why God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all (Rom. 11:32).

When we accept the fact we need God’s mercy, we also declare we deserve God’s wrath.  There was no injustice brought on Pharaoh by God.  He resisted God’s will.  He refused to be “shut up” in disobedience; therefore, God used him to demonstrate His power.  God has, at certain times, chosen to harden the hearts of some people who refused His mercy.  He used them to make His power and “glory known to objects of His mercy.”  Rom. 9:23. 

At this point Paul introduces the concept of two vessels or objects of God’s election.  One is prepared by God for destruction.  The other is prepared in advance for glory.  Mankind did not prepare either.  God did this beforehand; that is, in advance of the time mankind chose to be a part of one or the other prepared vessels.   Mankind’s own choice classifies him or her as belonging to one of the two vessels – mercy or wrath. 

There has been no injustice done to anyone by God.  All people who have God’s wrath upon them deserve it.  All Christians who enjoy God’s grace do not deserve it.  God’s gift of righteousness comes to people because of God’s mercy based on their faith.  God’s wrath comes upon mankind because they refuse to accept His mercy.    

We need to understand God can know the outcome of a situation and still not take away the volition of man.  The man “in Adam” has a problem with sin.  This moved God, in love, to put the program He foreknew and predestined for mankind on the basis of mercy (Rom. 8:28, 11:32).  All who have chosen to be vessels of wrath at this time will be vessels of wrath on Judgment Day unless they repent and become obedient to God’s will. 

How do people get transferred to the group of predestined vessels of mercy?  We can do as the Gentiles did in our text.  They accepted God’s gift of righteousness in the person of Jesus Christ.  The Jews, as a nation, stumbled over Jesus, the stone of Zion.  They remain vessels of wrath.  Some of the Gentiles used this stone as a cornerstone stone for building a fruitful life for God. 

The Gentiles were always children of promise (Gen. 12:1-3).  Some of us sought a new birth and God’s righteousness by faith so we can have peace with God (Rom. 5:1, 2). This is the only way we can receive God’s promised Holy Spirit.  We need His guidance and other blessings to help us conform to the image of His Son.  We cannot develop as sons of God with God’s wrath upon us.  The Jews must also be born again. 

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His way!  For who has known the mind of the Lord or who became His counselor.  Rom. 11:33, 34

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is one thing included in the “it” in Romans 9:16?
  2. Why was it necessary for God to have mercy on all people?
  3. Why is there no injustice with God when He hardens whom He desires?
  4. Why is there no injustice with God when He has mercy on whomever He desires?
  5. What were the two statements made in out text that would cause a “self made man” to protest?
  6. After Pharaoh refused to accept God’s mercy, how did God use him?  Was God righteous in His use of Pharaoh?  Why, or why not? 
  7. Is it possible God is hardening some people’s hearts today?
  8. What is the main subject in our text?
  9. How did the Apostle Paul illustrate his point about your answer in the foregoing question?
  10.  Name the two vessels, or objects of God’s election, Paul identified in our text.
  11.  Who makes the choice for each individual’s inclusion in the vessel they now inhabit?
  12.  When did God first declare the Gentiles were “children of promise?”   




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