Romans  ◦   Chapter 9

1What I am saying is true and spoken in Christlike love; I am not lying–my conscience is clear, and the Holy Spirit confirms my testimony.2My heart is in great agony and deep sorrow.3I so much want my brothers and sisters, those of my own race–the genetic descendants of Abraham–to accept this healing truth, that I would gladly sacrifice myself if it would do any good.4They have had such privilege: they were adopted by God as children to help him reveal the truth about himself–his character, methods and principles; they have been blessed with the written rules–the diagnostic tool of the Ten Commandments; they received the sanctuary service with its symbolic lessons, the feast days, God’s spokespersons, the illumination of Scripture, and all the promises of God.5Their forefathers are the patriarchs, and from them is derived the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

6But don't be confused: It is not as if God's word has failed just because not all genetic descendants of Abraham will be saved. For not all who are genetic descendants of Israel are part of God's Israel,7nor are all those who are genetic descendants of Abraham considered Abraham's true children. Oh no! Only those who are like Abraham in character are considered his children. This is obviously demonstrated by the fact that the Scripture says, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be recognized."8In other words, it is not the genetic offspring who are God's children, but those who are his by a miraculous birth–the renewal of mind and heart–the rebirth.9For this is exactly how Isaac came to be: by a miracle birth! God promised that Sarah would have a son, and her ability to do so was brought about by God himself.

10Not only this, but Rebekah's children were both sons of Isaac.11But before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that it might be clearly seen that it was God's plan at work and12not man's natural right of inheritance–she was told, "The older will serve the younger."13Just as it is written: "Jacob accepted my love, but Esau did not."

14How shall we interpret this? Is God unfair? Is God arbitrary or unjust? Absolutely not! In no way!15For he says to Moses, "I choose to be merciful to all humanity, and I will have compassion on the entire human race."

16Our healing doesn't depend on some effort, desire, or work on our part, but on the fact that God is merciful and offers the Remedy freely to everyone.17For the Scripture says of Pharaoh, "I raised you up so that I might pour out my truth upon you and that my character might be known throughout the entire world. And even though you resisted me and fought against me, I was patient and merciful with you."18Therefore, God is merciful to whom he chooses, and stern to those he chooses,

19One of you might protest and say, "Then why does God still blame us, if he does whatever he wants?"20But this complaint only shows how little you know about God and his methods and purposes. You confuse God's desire to heal and restore everyone to his original ideal with his wise plan to assign different duties and responsibilities to different individuals. You also fail to realize that different conditions require different applications of the Remedy.21Doesn't the potter have the right to use some clay to make pottery for noble uses, and from the same clay to make pottery for ordinary purposes?

22What if God, choosing to reveal what will happen, patiently continued to offer treatment to those who refuse his healing Remedy, and yet they refused to take his free cure anyway? What if, in this way, God revealed that such people prepare themselves for death and destruction?23What if he did this to make the richness of his character known to those who would accept the Remedy, and thus, by the revelation of the truth about himself, prepare them to be fully transformed into Christlike glory?24This is what he has done! He has called all people, both Jews and Gentiles, to healing and restoration into Christlikeness of character and into partnership with him to spread the Remedy.25As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my representatives' who were not my representatives; and I will call her 'the conduit of my love' who had previously rejected my love"

26And, "It will happen that even though they were told, 'You do not represent me,' they will be changed in character and called 'children of the living God.'"

27Isaiah declares concerning Israel: "Though the genetic descendants of Abraham are as numerous as the sand by the sea, only a small remnant will accept the Remedy and be healed.

28"For the Lord will carry out his diagnosis on the earth with accuracy and certainty."

29It is, sadly, as Isaiah has said: "If the Lord Almighty hadn't worked so hard, so patiently and so diligently to preserve us, we would have no descendants. We would have ended up like Sodom; we would have ended up like Gomorrah."

30How then do we understand this? It is very simple: The Gentiles — who had no idea that they were infected with selfishness and therefore dying, and certainly unaware that a Remedy to heal them was available — didn’t pursue God’s healing cure; but when they became aware of their condition and that a Remedy existed, they obtained it by trust in him who heals and restores.31But Israel–who knew their condition and that a Remedy was available, and who had been given the teaching tools designed to lead them back to trust–did not attain it.32Why not? Because instead of trusting God and accepting his free Remedy, they attempted to cure themselves by their own efforts. Thus they stumbled over the "stumbling stone," refusing to trust in him,33as it is written: "See, I have placed in Zion a stone of truth that reveals the stumbling and shortcomings of humans, and a rock of righteousness that exposes how far short they fall; but the one who trusts in him will be completely healed and never stumble or fall again."