What has God decided to do about man’s sinfulness? Earlier we heard the bad news. All men are sinful from birth and they cannot cleanse themselves. The thoughts of their hearts are only evil all the time. There is no one who does good, not even one. Today we begin with the good news. The Good news in a word is God. God has decided to do something spectacular, something that thrilled and surprised even the unfallen angels. God has looked down on the mass of sinful humanity and said, although they all deserve to die for their sins, I am going to save some. I am going to make a way of salvation for fallen, helpless sinners. God has decided to save some.
Romans 9 is called by some the most neglected chapter in the Bible. It is a difficult chapter but the basic message is plain; we do not decide to save ourselves, God decides. Salvation does not depend on our efforts, but on God’s mercy. “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:15-16) It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. God has decided to save a multitude that no man can number from every tribe and tongue and nation to the praise of his glorious grace. Some are uncomfortable with this teaching. They claim it is not God’s decision but theirs. “It is my choice,” they say, “not God’s. I decide, not God.”
There were once three scuba divers that were exploring in an underwater cave. They all became lost in the cave and could not find the way out, and their air was running out. They all willed to be saved, and they searched for a way out of the cave. But they could not find the way. They needed someone to show them the way, to dive down into the cave and save them. They could not save themselves and they could not simply decide to be saved. They needed someone to decide to save them. Remarkably, two of the three did come out alive, because someone decided to save them. So, too, you are lost in your sins, and you cannot decide to save yourselves. You need someone to decide to save you. “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
A second objection claims that it isn’t fair to everyone unless they all can decide to be saved. It isn’t fair of God to save some and not all. What is really fair? If all men have sinned and are guilty before God, what is fair or just for them? They must die for their sin and rebellion against God. We do not want God to be fair with us; we want him to be gracious. We do not want God to give us what we deserve; we want him to save us. And that is the good news, God has in grace decided to save. The marvelous truth that often seems to be missed, is the astonishing mercy that God has shown in saving any at all. There is a way of salvation through the astonishing abundance of the mercy and grace of God. That is why I began with the bad news that you are a guilty sinner and you cannot save yourself, because if you truly believe yourself to be a sinner, you will not object to God’s decision to save some. Instead you will marvel in the great grace and kindness of God in saving anyone.
This is good news; this is the gospel. God has made a way of salvation for his chosen people. What a great comfort this is to all those who believe. God has decided to save me, to place me in the never-ending care of Jesus Christ. I am in the hands of Jesus Christ and no one shall ever take me out of his hand. How do I know that I am one of the some that God decided to save? I will answer your question with a question. Do you believe in Jesus the Christ and rest in him alone for salvation? If so, you are saved. God has decided to clean up the mess that we have made because of sin. That is the good news. Are you searching for God? Do you want to be saved? Jesus invites you to believe in him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)