Many different descriptors have been used in personal testimonies about how Christians got saved. Some have said, I decided to follow Jesus or I found God. Another way of describing it might be, I accepted the Lord or I gave my life to Christ. What really happens when a person enters the kingdom of God is he responds to God’s calling, he submits himself to the will of God. Paul used the example of the Israelites’ rejection of God to show that God is the initiator in the process of salvation. Paul explained, “Not as thought the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children, but in Isaac shall they seed be called” (Romans 9:6-7). In other words, God wasn’t trying to save everyone that was identified as an Israelite, only those that were designated by his calling or those whom he commanded to enter his kingdom.
Paul differentiated Isaac’s twin sons Jacob and Esau by their election, a divine selection between them by God. Paul noted, “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) it was said to her, The elder shall serve the younger” (Romans 9:11). Paul went on to say, “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:15-16). God’s mercy and compassion can be thought of as counter measures to the sinfulness of mankind. If it weren’t for God’s mercy and compassion, Earth would be an unbearable place to live. It’s only because God intervenes and transforms individuals into the image of his son that love and kindness exist in the world.
For those that might object to God’s favoritism, Paul referred back to the prophet Jeremiah’s parable of the potter and clay and stated:
But you will ask me, “Why does God blame men for what they do? Who can go against what God wants?” Who are you to talk back to God? A pot being made from clay does not talk to the man making it and say, “Why did you make me like this?” The man making the pots has the right to use the clay as he wants to. He can make two pots from the same piece of clay. One can have an important use. The other one can be of little use. It may be that God wants to show His power and His anger against sin. He waits a long time on some men who are ready to be destroyed. God also wanted to show His shining-greatness to those He has given His loving-kindness. He made them ready for His shining-greatness from the beginning. (Romans 9:19-23, NLV)
Paul validated God’s system of election by showing that God had not excluded anyone from his plan of salvation because he made it possible for both Jews and Gentiles to be saved (Romans 9:24). The primary reason the doors of heaven were opened to everyone was so that God’s compassionate nature could be displayed to the world. Referring to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, Paul stated, “For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth” (Romans 9:28). The short work that Paul was talking about was most likely the grafting in of the Gentiles into God’s covenant relationship with Israel. Even though Jesus came to Earth as Israel’s Messiah, he said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)