parade December 6 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Romans 9:1–12:1

The Sovereign, Redemptive Plan of God

Christmas is only three weeks away, but for the purpose of today's Bible study, let us take a moment to reflect back on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time we remember, not only the blessings of a good harvest but also the blessings from God in every area of our lives. We begin the day with parades and floats. A parade is sort of like the sovereign plan of God.

A parade is like the sovereign plan of God in that there is a design and plan to it, but no one sees all of it unless he is privileged to view it from a high building, blimp or another aerial device. From ground level we only see a portion of the grand march, and this is where most of the spectators are. It is similar in our lives; only God can give us perspectives which we cannot see. He is the parade director, and his sovereign plan is found in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible.

How are people chosen to be in the parade? In most cases they are chosen because of their talents and achievements. But in this way a parade is unlike the sovereign plan of God. In his redemptive plan, our salvation is not based on achievement or talent but upon God’s grace and mercy. If we want to be forgiven of our sins and receive his mercy and grace, we only need to turn from our sins and pray to him for salvation. He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

The Jews believe they have special status because they are descendants of Abraham and keep the Law of Moses (referring to the moral, civil, and ceremonial laws in the books of Exodus–Deuteronomy). In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul recognizes certain privileges of the people of Israel.

Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen (Romans 9:4-5, NIV).

The Jews believe, not only that they are in the parade (the sovereign redemptive plan of God); they believed they are the parade. They, however, cannot see all of it. Paul says, “…it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring” (Romans 9:8, NIV).

Abraham was at the beginning of the parade when God's sovereign redemptive plan was revealed, but he sought the Lord by faith apart from the Law of Moses, of which the Jews boasted. In fact, the Law was not even in existence at the time of Abraham. There were many children and grandchildren of Abraham, not just the chosen ones of Isaac and Jacob. What about the others—could they not be allowed to join the procession? The Jews would have said no. God said yes!

Paul gives us some perspective on the sovereign redemptive plan of God.

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? [a reference to all unsaved people, Romans 1:18] What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God’” (Romans 9:22-25, NIV).

Righteousness (the one qualification for being allowed into God’s sovereign, redemptive plan) is by faith, not by works. How do we get righteousness? The word of faith is

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile— the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9-13, NIV).

People need to be told the message of the gospel to be saved and declared righteous. Will we be God’s messengers?

When the Jews refused to follow their Grand Marshall, Jesus Christ, who gave his life for their salvation, they were rejected for a while and Gentiles were chosen to be in God’s parade (i.e., he saved them). Now many Jews look on while God has the Gentiles go forth in the grand march ahead of them.

The sovereign redemptive plan of God is not meant to exclude the Jews but to make them jealous, so they might rejoin the parade later, when they have turned from their sins and recognize the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Gentiles should not boast that they have been allowed to participate because of their talents or achievements (because the Jews were chosen first). Jews and Gentiles were not chosen for their talents or achievements, however; they were chosen because of God’s overwhelming grace and mercy. “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy” (Romans 9:16, NIV). There is no call for us to boast about our salvation.

Are we full of ourselves because we have been chosen of God? We need to think again! We need to consider the mercy and grace of God and be thankful. We need to serve him in humble gratitude.

Lessons to Live By

  • We can learn about God’s sovereign plan from the Scriptures.
  • The sovereign redemptive plan of God is to include the Jews and Gentiles in his saving grace.
  • It is because of the mercy and grace of God that we are saved (more...); therefore we should serve him with humility and gratitude.

Focus Verse

Romans 12:1 (NIV) “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

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A Look Ahead: Because of Grace we have received from God, how should we act? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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