New Int. Readers Version

God's Free Choice

1 I speak the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My mind tells me that what I say is true. It is guided by the Holy Spirit.
2 My heart is full of sorrow. My sadness never ends.
3 I am so concerned about my people, who are members of my own race. I am ready to be cursed, if that would help them. I am even willing to be separated from Christ.
4 They are the people of Israel. They have been adopted as God's children. God's glory belongs to them. So do the covenants. They received the law. They were taught to worship in the temple. They were given the promises.
5 The founders of our nation belong to them. Christ comes from their family line. He is God over all. May he always be praised! Amen.
6 Their condition does not mean that God's word has failed. Not everyone in the family line of Israel really belongs to Israel.
7 Not everyone in Abraham's family line is really his child. Not at all! Scripture says, “Your family line will continue through Isaac.”
8 In other words, God's children are not just Abraham's natural children. Instead, they are the children God promised to him. They are the ones considered to be Abraham's children.
9 God promised, “I will return at the appointed time. Sarah will have a son.”
10 And that's not all. Rebekah's children had the same father. He was our father Isaac.
11 Here is what happened. Rebekah's twins had not even been born. They hadn't done anything good or bad yet. So they show that God's purpose is based firmly on his free choice.
12 It was not because of anything they did but because of God's choice. So Rebekah was told, “The older son will serve the younger one.”
13 It is written, “I chose Jacob instead of Esau.”
14 What should we say then? Is God unfair? Not at all!
15 He said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy. I will show love to those I love.”
16 So it doesn't depend on what we want or do. It depends on God's mercy.
17 In Scripture, God says to Pharaoh, “I had a special reason for making you king. I decided to use you to show my power. I wanted my name to become known everywhere on earth.”
18 So God does what he wants to do. He shows mercy to one person and makes another stubborn.
19 One of you will say to me, “Then why does God still blame us? Who can oppose what he wants to do?”
20 But you are a mere man. So who are you to talk back to God? Scripture says, “Can what is made say to the one who made it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ”
21 Isn't the potter free to make different kinds of pots out of the same lump of clay? Some are for special purposes. Others are for ordinary use.
22 What if God chose to show his great anger? What if he chose to make his power known? That is why he put up with people he was angry with. They had been made to be destroyed.
23 What if he did that to show the riches of his glory to others? Those are the people he shows his mercy to. He had prepared them to receive his glory.
24 We are those people. He has chosen us. We do not come only from the Jewish race. Many of us are not Jews.
25 God says in Hosea, “I will call those who are not my people ‘my people.’ I will call the one who is not my loved one ‘my loved one.’ ”
26 He also says, “Once it was said to them, ‘You are not my people.’ In that very place they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ”
27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel. He says, “The number of people from Israel may be like the sand by the sea. But only a few of them will be saved.
28 The Lord will carry out his sentence. He will be quick to carry it out on earth, once and for all.”
29 Earlier Isaiah had said, “The Lord who rules over all left us children and grandchildren. If he hadn't, we would have become like Sodom. We would have been like Gomorrah.”

Israel Does Not Believe

30 What should we say then? Those who aren't Jews did not look for a way to be right with God. But they found it by having faith.
31 Israel did look for a law that could make them right with God. But they didn't find it.
32 Why not? Because they didn't look for it by faith. They tried to get it by working for it. They tripped over the stone that causes people to trip and fall.
33 It is written, “Look! In Zion I am laying a stone that causes people to trip. It is a rock that makes them fall. The one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
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