In Romans 9:25-26 the apostle Paul showed that the Gospel of salvation by grace is inclusive – it is for undeserving Jews and undeserving Gentiles. Since salvation is by grace and not by merit then it is for every people group in the world and not just one ethnicity. God has promised to save some from every tribe and every tongue and every nation. Paul quoted a couple of verses from the Old Testament prophet Hosea to show that God had always intended to graciously include Gentiles in his plan of salvation by grace – “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people.’”
The Gospel is inclusive – it demonstrates God’s grace and mercy as He saves undeserving sinners and it demonstrates God’s righteousness as He shows no favoritism for any one group of people. For many, many years it seemed as though God didn’t care for anyone except the Jews. Just as the Old Testament prophets had prophesied of the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation, they also prophesied of the reversal of God’s order of salvation. The Jews were going to reject their Messiah and because of this the kingdom of God was going to be taken away from them and given to a people producing the fruit of it (see Matthew 21:42-43). Not only was God going to graciously include the Gentiles in His plan of salvation, He was also going to give them the main responsibility of spreading the Gospel – until the time of the Gentiles be complete (Luke 21:24 and Romans 11:25).
So not only does the Bible teach that the Gospel is inclusive, it also teaches that the gospel is exclusive. The Gospel includes everyone who believes in the finished work of Christ as his only hope of righteousness – Jew or Gentile (Romans 1:16). But the Gospel also excludes everyone who pursues righteousness as though it is by works (Romans 9:32) or who perverts the grace of God and uses it as a license to sin (Romans 6:1; Jude 4).
The Gospel is Exclusive (Romans 9:27-33). Paul moved on to show that the majority of the nation of Israel wasn’t going to be saved but only a remnant from among the nation. He quoted twice from Isaiah to prove that what he was teaching was biblical. You can correctly imagine that the Jews listening to Paul’s message of salvation by grace would have wondered at why, if his message was true, the majority of the Jews who had God’s Word weren’t being saved. Why were there more Gentiles being saved than there were Jews? The answer: because salvation is by grace and not by works (Romans 9:32).
The gospel is exclusive. God only saves by grace through faith in Christ and all who dare pursue salvation as though it is by the will of man or the works of man are destined to stumble over the stumbling stone of salvation by grace. There is no salvation for the person who thinks his religion can earn him a righteous standing before God. Jesus said in Mark 2:17, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The majority of the Jews pursued salvation as though it were by works and not by faith (Romans 9:31-32). If God hadn’t graciously chosen to save a remnant of Israel none of them would have been saved – “[they] would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.” God would have had to destroy them because there wouldn’t have been even ten righteous people found among them – while as a whole they believed that the majority of them were righteous.
It’s amazing that we can see sin in others easily. It’s not so easy to see sin in ourselves. This makes it nearly impossible to see sin in our religion – and we will not if God doesn’t open our eyes and cause us to see our need for his grace and mercy. Most people judge by appearance and believe that when something bad happens to others that those others deserved it while they themselves were spared because of their own righteousness. Here is a case in point: “Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish’” (Luke 13:1-5).
Do you see the how the self-righteous assess the tragedy of others and bolster a dangerous and unbiblical assurance that they themselves are pleasing to God? It’s the idea that they deserved tragedy and we didn’t! That’s the attitude of the self-righteous who thinks that his religion rather than the work of Christ has earned him a right standing before God.
The self-righteous, as long as they remain in that state, are excluded from salvation because it is by grace and not by works. The only thing that any person, Jew or Gentile, can do to be saved is to believe that he can do nothing to merit salvation and to cast himself on God’s mercy in the finished work of Christ. Being brought to the place of recognizing ones inability and being enabled to believe in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is the work of God (John 6:29ff). He accomplishes this work in the hearts and lives of the ones that He has chosen for salvation through the proclamation of the word about Christ. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word about Christ (Romans 10:17).
The Gospel is exclusive – it is only for those who have been shown and have come to know that they are sinners. All others are excluded.