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Sunday, January 7, 2018
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.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race.
They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;
to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.
But it is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but "Through Isaac shall your descendants be named."
This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants.
For this is what the promise said, "About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son."
And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call,
she was told, "The elder will serve the younger."
As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!
For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
So it depends not upon man's will or exertion, but upon God's mercy.
For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth."
So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills.
You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me thus?"
Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?
What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction,
in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory,
even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
As indeed he says in Hose'a, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'my beloved.'"
"And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'"
And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved;
for the Lord will execute his sentence upon the earth with rigor and dispatch."
And as Isaiah predicted, "If the Lord of hosts had not left us children, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomor'rah."
What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith;
but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling that law.
Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,
as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; and he who believes in him will not be put to shame."
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened.
For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.
For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified.
Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it.
But the righteousness based on faith says, Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down)
or "Who will descend into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach);
because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.
The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame."
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him.
For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?
And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!"
But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"
So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.
But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."
Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry."
Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me."
But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people."
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