Psalms 74—76Romans 9:16—33 • Key Verses: Romans 9:30—32
We sometimes describe a person who has accomplished much on his own as one who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps. Though today it might be hard to visualize what a bootstrap is, we nevertheless understand what this phrase means. It speaks of working hard, doing yourself what is needed rather than asking or expecting someone else to do it for you. It is being self-reliant, independent, self-sufficient.
Bootstraps remain a powerful aspect of our mind-set and philosophy. Unfortunately, this belief spills over into the way people understand God and their relationship to Him. Many think that the way to heaven is to live a life sufficiently meritorious so that their good deeds outweigh their bad, and on that basis they earn or achieve eternal life.
Romans 9 destroys any hope that salvation is something a person can earn or deserves. The first part of the chapter emphasizes God’s work in our salvation. It is only by God’s mercy that any of us are saved. Then the focus turns from God’s sovereignty to man’s responsibility.
To the surprise of the Jews, Paul wrote of the salvation of the Gentiles, obtained by faith. Also to their surprise, he spoke of the Jews’ failure of not obtaining righteousness. They could not gain by works what others received by faith. The difference between those who obtain salvation and those who do not is the difference between faith and effort.
The bottom line is Jesus. Faith in Him, not our effort, saves.
Are you a bootstrap kind of Christian, hoping what you have done will be enough to get you into heaven? You can’t get to heaven by your works, only by faith in Jesus. Today, give up the bootstraps and receive the Saviors work on your behalf.
Woodrow Kroll & Tony Beckett