“Not as though 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 thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (Romans 9:6-8)
God's sovereign selection is different from His national election in that only the truly redeemed are counted as spiritual heirs of the faith of Abraham. To simply be born an Israelite does not guarantee eternal salvation. The true Israel is the Israel that exercises the saving faith of Abraham. This Israel is, as Paul wrote, “...the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).” To illustrate this point, the Holy Spirit immediately directs the believer to the familial story of Abraham and his two sons. Ishmael was a product of man's effort. He was not the product of faith in God's promises; he was the product of disbelief and rebellion. Isaac, on the other hand, was the product of simple belief in the promise of God. Years after his sin of polygamy, Abraham finally came to the place of belief that God would indeed give him a son (Romans 4:19-21). Just as Isaac was the promised heir of Abraham through the covenant of faith, the man who comes to God is counted for a true Israelite through the covenant of faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ expounded upon this truth when the unbelieving Jews attempted to exert their physical lineage to Abraham. He said, “...If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham...Ye are of your father the devil...(John 8:39-40, 44).”
The principles of these verses hold true in any context. Simply because a person is “born into” religion does not guarantee him any security. God respects no man. Many a man and woman have lived a church-going facade only to manifest at last that they are not of their spiritual father Abraham, but of Satan. It is a truth which is all too close to home, and one that most people would rather ignore than heed. Only the children of promise shall be counted for the true spiritual seed. Man's efforts only lead to hell.