But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.
When one considers the Old Testament, one might be tempted to think that the true people of God are the people of Israel as a nation. One will also be tempted to continue to say that since we do not see the whole Israel nation subject to God today, perhaps God’s promises too failed. However, that is not the case. God was not after the ethnic group, but out of ethnic Israel, he sought his own people. And He continues to seek and save individuals from all people groups.
Reading the section of chapter 9:6-18, we are guaranteed that God’s promise of salvation did not fail. In this section, we are also emphatically reminded that salvation is in the Lord’s hand, and that should make us rejoice. So God’s purpose of election is not meant to raise concern but rather intended to establish assurance that God is assuredly in control, resulting in praise. However, the section leads us to examine ourselves. Knowing that it is not any physical attachment that determines our relationship with God, are we part of God’s people?
How can we be sure we are Christians?
1. Do I believe in Christ? The first requirement is faith because faith is our point of contact with the gospel. Ask yourself, “Have I believed in Jesus?” Not, “Have I believed in him in broad cultural terms?” but rather, “Have I been touched by the knowledge of Jesus’s death for me, and have I committed myself to him? Am I serious about following after Christ, obeying his commands, and pleasing him?”
2. Am I following after Christ? The first question leads to the next: “Am I actually Jesus’s follower?” Jesus called his followers with the words follow me. And when they followed him, their lives were inevitably redirected. Nobody who begins to follow Jesus Christ is ever entirely the same or walks in the same paths afterward. So ask yourself, “Has my life been redirected? Is there anything I am doing now that I did not do before or would not be doing were I not committed to Jesus? And are there things I have stopped doing? Is Jesus my very own Lord and Savior?”
3. Do I testify to Christ? This is a harder point for true self-examination because it is easier for some to talk about Jesus than for others. Nevertheless, this is an important question and one worth asking. If you never speak to anyone about Jesus, how can you believe you really care about him and love him, not to mention care about and love the other person, who needs to receive the Savior?
4. Am I learning about Christ? “Am I trying to learn more and more about Jesus Christ? Do I know more about him today than I did at the time of my conversion? Or at this time last year?” How can you think of yourself as a Christian when you have no interest in learning about the one who gave himself for you?