Romans 9:13-24 NKJV
13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, St. Paul continues his discourse on how God is who He is and how man holds no place in judgment over God’s will. There is no way that there is unrighteousness with God. There would, however, if He were to have predestined some to hell not taking into consideration their own fault.
Clearly, if the apostle is writing against such thoughts, then there must have been some putting forth such claims. There are still those, today, who make such claims, saying, “God has predestined some to heaven and predestined others to hell.” It’s called ‘double-predestination’ and it’s anti-scriptural.
God is making clear through St. Paul that with man, of his own will, he has no power when regarding the things of God. But, when it comes to the things of God, then He is only behind man’s understanding. Thus, God uses evil (through His will allowing it) to keep those who are His own relying upon Him and staying focused outside of themselves and alone on the fully atoning merits of Christ Jesus for rescue.
Luther, quoting Augustine, writes: “God shows mercy out of His great goodness and hardens with no injustice, so the he who is freed may not boast of his own merits and he who is damned has been overcome by nothing but his own deserts. For grace alone distinguishes the redeemed from the condemned, all having been mingled into one mass of perdition by the common cause of their common origin.” Because if such words a man recognizes his own damnation and despairs of saving himself by his own powers,… But here he learns that grace has raised him up before every will, including his own.” (AE 25, p. 395-5) Thanks be to God for His gracious will, indeed!
Let us pray: O, Lord, as You bring us to pray in the prayer You teach all of Your disciples, “Lead us not into temptation,” that is, “Let us not lead ourselves, for we would certainly make a ruin of it all!” Rather, lead us by Your will through Your Word and Sacraments. Amen.