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November 23                                               Today’s Reading: Romans 9-11

“So Then”

Romans 9:16


In Romans 8 God the Holy Ghost declares that all who are saved by grace in time were saved by grace from eternity, and that God rules the world to accomplish his purpose of grace toward us in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:28-30). In Romans 9 he compares the salvation of our souls to the work of a potter with clay, making one vessel unto honor and another to dishonor. In this indescribably sweet portion of his Word God tells us that salvation is his work alone. How believing hearts rejoice to hear him declare, “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy!

            The language of Holy Scripture is so plain and clear regarding the matter of salvation by grace alone that only the willfully ignorant and those who wrest the scriptures to their own destruction can fail to see it. Paul tells us here most plainly that salvation is neither by the will of man, nor by the works of man, “but of God that showeth mercy.”


Not our Will

Salvation is not accomplished by the sinner’s free-will. It is true that no man is saved against his will, or without his will. All who trust Christ bow to Christ and worship Christ, and do so willingly. They are made willing in the day of his saving power (Psalm 110:3). But no one is saved because of his own will. The will of man is not the determining factor in salvation, but the will of God (John 1:12-13). It is God’s will that determined to save, elected a people, provided a Redeemer, and gives dead sinners life in Christ. The fact is man has no free will. His will is bound by his nature. His will is governed by the nature of his heart. Man by nature is corrupt, sinful, rebellious, and totally depraved. He has no will to be righteous, to come to God, to honor God, or to trust Christ and submit to his dominion, unless God gives him such a will by his Holy Spirit in regeneration. Salvation is not by our will. How thankful we ought to be that God’s salvation does not wait on our will!


Not our Works

And salvation is not in any way determined by or dependent upon the works of men. What monstrous pride and self-righteousness must that man be possessed of who supposes that his works have merit with God! Our best deeds are motivated (at least in some measure) by self-love. Our purest thoughts are vile. Our noblest ambitions are corrupt. God demands and accepts nothing short of absolute perfection, perfect righteousness, and perfect holiness. And these things no man can produce. We are saved by grace alone through the perfect righteousness of Christ. Christ’s blood made atonement for our sins, satisfying the demands of justice (Romans 3:24-26). Christ’s righteousness is bestowed upon us by an act of God’s free grace (Romans 5:19-21).


But of God

God is in no way obliged by the will or works of men to bestow his mercy. Man’s will does not govern God’s will; and man’s works do not determine God’s works. God is absolutely sovereign. It is his right entirely to give his mercy to whom he will, or withhold it from whom he will; and he can never be called to give an account of his actions to anyone.

            God willed to be gracious for the glory of his own great name. Having determined to create a world with a race of angels and a race of men, he chose to save some angels in their original holiness and leave others to fall; and he determined to allow all men to fall into sin representatively in our father Adam, choosing to save some for the glory of his grace and to pass by others. God determined who he would save, choosing his own elect in Christ, and predestinating all things to bring them into their heavenly inheritance as the sons of God. God willed to give his Son to die as a sin-atoning substitute for his elect. In his eternal purpose of grace, God looked upon his Son as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and accepted his people in him. And in the fulness of time, God sent his Son into the world to magnify his law and make it honorable, so that he might be just and yet justify the ungodly. At the time appointed, God sends his Spirit to regenerate his elect and call them to faith in Christ by the gospel. This call of God the Holy Spirit is a sovereign, irresistible, distinguishing, effectual call. It goes only to God’s elect, only to the redeemed; and it always results in salvation. And it is God who preserves his elect in life. His saved ones cannot perish. All of them will endure unto the end and be glorified at last. If even one of God’s elect were to perish, his purpose would fall to the ground, the blood of Christ would be of non-effect, the Spirit’s power would be broken, and God’s name would be mocked in hell forever. These things can never be. We are sure that God will be glorified in the salvation of all his elect, because nothing depends upon man, but all depends upon “God who showeth mercy!




Don Fortner








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