Romans 9:22-26
God is Great, God is Good

Truth Contenders Sunday School Class
Two Rivers Baptist Church
Nashville, TN, USA

For Sunday, 07 December 2003

Handout: God is Great, God is Good


Blue: word from text to be discussed or defined

Green: on handout

Ink: to be filled in on handout

Red: Question aloud to class


[Question aloud to class:] Why do practically all good stories have bad guys in them? [Intended to get us thinking about the role God plans for those whom He has not chosen to save - the "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction" mentioned at the beginning of the lesson's text.]

Quick Overview:

Chapters Summary

  • 1a The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.
  • 1b-3a God is justly wrathful against all mankind because of our inexcusable disobedience.
  • 3b-4 God has provided justification for us to rescue us from His punishment, and we receive that justification by faith apart from works.
  • 5, 6, 7, 8 Through our identification with Christ, the Spirit graciously produces in us the holiness that the law cannot, making our salvation certain.

Ch. 9 review:

  • vv 1-5 Paul grieves deeply over Israel.
  • vv 6-8 Israel's lost state is not evidence that God was unable to keep His promise. Instead, it is part of His plan to save a remnant from all families of the earth.
  • vv 9-12 God's call makes the ultimate difference between those who are saved and those who are lost.
  • vv 13-22 God's Creatorship gives him the right to show mercy on some of his creatures and not on others.

God is Great

vv 22-24 (ESV):

22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- 24even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

v22 - What does the term "endured" (NIV "bore") imply?

"God's patience with the vessels of wrath shows how great is his mercy on the vessels of mercy."1 - William Hendriksen

v23 is the hinge on which the passage turns. God's choice is not arbitrary, but purposeful, and his purpose is good. Up to this point in the passage, Paul has been hiding the good cards. Note the order of Paul's answer to the objection in verse 19:

  1. Deals with attitude: Who are you to demand that God do things your way? v20-21
  2. Deals with purpose: God has a plan. v22-24

He knows that as long as we hold out the right to tell God how he may and may not treat us, we can never understand his purpose. First, you have to get this straight: God has the right to treat different people differently. Then you can move on to understanding why he does so. Finally, you can join Jesus and Paul in praising him for it.

God's purpose in showing mercy on some and not on others is to make known to us his wrath and power, and the riches of his glory. His purpose is essentially revelatory, and we are both the instruments and the objects of his revelation. It goes without saying that he chose the best way to do it. This makes it clear that unless he had done things this way, we would never have known as we ought.

"In the exercise of this right [of sovereign mercy] there is nothing unreasonable or unjust, nothing of which his creatures have the least right to complain. The punishment of the wicked is not an arbitrary act, having no object but to make them miserable; it is designed to manifest the displeasure of God against sin, and to make known his true character." [sorry - forgot to note who I was quoting, here - might have been Calvin, Murray, Hodge...?]

God is Good

Every story needs a bad guy so the good guy's goodness can be seen for what it truly is. Here's the remarkable thing: When a good guy kills all the bad guys, that's justice, and justice is good. God is admirable for condemning sinners. But in God's story, he takes some of the bad guys and recreates us as good guys! Only the One Great Good Guy can do that.

The word "Riches" implies two things:

  1. Goodness, "that with which one is enriched" (Thayer)
  2. Lots of it, "fulness, abundance, plenitude" (ibid)

The word "Glory" implies three things: (Thayer)

  1. Good and right judgment
  2. Divine majesty
  3. Most exalted state

Glory: Gk. doxa, from a root meaning "to think" (Strong's Concordance). Thayer's primary definition is "opinion, judgment, view." When God finishes making known to us the riches of his glory, we will acknowledge that he judged rightly. This may be a foreshadow of Romans 11:33-36:

33 "Oh, the depth of the riches
of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 'Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?'
35 'Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?'
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen."

Vessels of mercy - If you need mercy, what does that imply? How easy it is to slip into thinking that if God chose you and not others, there must be something special inherent in you, and attributable to you! I Cor. 4:7.

God's acts of mercy magnify his greatness and goodness.

He has prepared beforehand for glory - Men may make themselves fit for destruction, but only God can make a person fit for glory. Eph. 2:10 (again with the "prepared beforehand") What does this tell us about God? He's not the sort who flies by the seat of his pants. He prepares things in advance. He lays plans and executes them flawlessly. It also tells us that we are being formed by Him right now. If you are believing in Christ, God is preparing you today for glory!

In vv 24-26, each instance of the word "called" is the same Gk. word, kaleo. The first time, the primary meaning is "called to himself." But the two OT quotes use it in the sense of naming - he called us something. Both meanings can be seen in the creation account in Genesis 1: he called things into being and he named things. Light sprang into place at his call, and he called it Day, and so on.

Nichole Nordeman, from her song Healed:

We stutter and we stammer till you say us
A symphony of chaos till you play us
Phrases on the pages of unknown
Till you read us into your poetry and prose
Passed over and passed by until you claim us
Orphaned and abandoned till you name us
Hidden undisclosed till you expose our hearts

(from the album Woven and Spun)

David J. Finnamore
Orlando, FL