Presentation on theme: "Calvinism and Romans 9. Augustinianism finds a strong foundation in Romans 9. … Paul tells us Jacob was chosen long before he did any good work (vv. 9–13)."— Presentation transcript:
Calvinism and Romans 9
Augustinianism finds a strong foundation in Romans 9. … Paul tells us Jacob was chosen long before he did any good work (vv. 9–13). Moreover, Jacob was chosen to make the Father’s electing purpose stand, not because He knew Jacob would obey Him (v. 11). – R. C. Sproul There are two experiences in my life that make Romans 9 one of the most important chapters in shaping the way I think about everything … In the class on salvation we dealt head on with the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace. Romans 9 was the watershed text and the one that changed my life forever. … “Romans 9 is like a tiger going about devouring free-willers like me.” That was the end of my love affair with human autonomy and the ultimate self-determination of my will. My worldview simply could not stand against the scriptures, especially Romans 9. – John Piper
Romans 9 may sound like Calvinism in context of Calvinism… Yes, Romans 9 makes points about God’s sovereign rule and choices. However, Romans 9 does not identify choices God made, except at beginning and end of chapter – and context of Old Testament references. Assumptions: Who was chosen? Why? For what? Approach: Limited time … Establish contextual “bookends” – bound meaning. Observe contextual inconsistencies with Calvinism. Definitions: Do not idly let Calvinists preload their conclusions into their definitions of the words used here.
Rom. 8:28-39: Power of God’s foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, & preservation. What about the Jews? Did God’s promise fail? I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the 1 adoption, the 2 glory, the 3 covenants, the 4 giving of the law, the 5 service of God, and the 6 promises; 7 of whom are the fathers and 8 from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. (Rom. 9:1-5)
But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. (Romans 9:6-8) God’s Word, promise, and election had not failed! Not all descendants of Israel were to be saved. Rm.9:1-8 unmixes national, spiritual, roles, salvation. Election based on God’s promise, not ancestry. Who decides the terms of the “promise”?
(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Romans 9:11-13) Can you answer the Calvinist’s use of these verses? Paul selected Jacob and Esau to demonstrate that God loved Jacob and therefore chose him unto salvation, while God hated Esau and chose him unto condemnation. God clearly chose and predestined their fates independent of their works (“the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil”); therefore, God's election is unconditional, and our destiny is predetermined!
Who has been the object of election in this context, individuals or nations (Romans 9:1-5)? Who was subject of supporting OT proof-texts: “for the children … it was said to her … as it is written”. But the children [Jacob and Esau] struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:22-23) In local and supporting context, God chose nations!
If individual dominion of Jacob over Esau, then why …? Esau threatened to kill Jacob (Genesis 27:41). Jacob fled from Esau (Genesis 27:42-28:5). Jacob was terrified of Esau upon return (Gn. 32:3-22). Jacob sent all his possessions – including wives and children – as gifts to Esau (Genesis 33:1-11). Jacob bowed 7 times before Esau (Genesis 33:3). Prophecy failed, if it referred to the individuals, because the younger lived primarily in service to the older! Calvinism inconsistent with Bible history.
Edom was a greater nation before Israel. Edom had tribes and kings sooner (Gen. 36:1-43). Edom harassed Israelites on journey (Num. 20:14-21). After years, Babylon and Greece destroyed both nations, but only Israel was left a significant remnant (Ezekiel 4:21-22; 25:12-14; 32:29; 25:15; Joel 3:19; Amos 9:12). There is over 1000 years between the events of Romans 9:11-12 and 9:13, long after Jacob and Esau were both dead!
“I have loved you,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the LORD. “Yet Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness.” Even though Edom has said, “We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places,” Thus says the LORD of hosts: “They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever.” (Malachi 1:1-4) Both nations sinned and suffered national judgment. But, only Israel was spared a remnant – for a while. Again, election related to nations – not individuals!
God’s election was of nations, not individuals. Preference was realized long after individuals died. Election was for role in God’s scheme of redemption, not salvation (Romans 9:4-5). On the other hand, if Calvinist premise is accepted: All Edomites were condemned to hell! All Israelites were saved unconditionally! Matthew 26:21-24; Acts 1:25 – Judas? Matthew 23:13-26, 33 – Pharisees? “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33) Calvinist premise must be wrong! Point: Vindication of God’s word and promise!
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. (Romans 9:14-16) Can you answer the Calvinist’s use of these verses? Clearly, Paul stakes God’s right to show mercy and save whomever He wants, and very clearly, salvation has nothing to do with what we want (“not of him who wills”) or what we do (“nor of him who runs”). Rather, it is only God’s choice!
Context: Paul anticipates accusation from disgruntled Jew (“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!”) 1. Remember, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). None have right to dictate terms of salvation. 2. Only God has right to choose terms of mercy. What terms?
He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. (Proverbs 28:13) Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)... be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (I Peter 5:5)
Context: Paul anticipates accusation from disgruntled Jew (“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!”) 1. Remember, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). None have right to dictate terms of salvation. 2. Only God has right to choose terms of mercy. What terms? 3. “Not-But” indicates relative importance.
“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27; see also, II The. 3:10) Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.” (John 12:44) So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. (Romans 9:14- 16) God's will is relatively supreme, cannot be thwarted (Isa. 43:13). But, that does not imply exclusivity! Can He not choose to consider our will?
Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ … Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. … I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Exodus 33:12-19; also, verses 3-11) Moses sought and found grace for himself from God. God was unwilling to grant Moses’ will for Israel!
I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites … (Romans 9:1-4) Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:1-3) Like Moses, Paul desperately willed salvation for physical Israel, but God was unwilling because like Moses’ day, Israel was still unwilling!
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. (Romans 9:17-18) Can you answer the Calvinist’s use of these verses? Paul uses Pharaoh as an example of one whom God hardened, just so God could demonstrate His power and sovereignty by punishing him. In addition to the Lord’s sovereignty, His predestination again is manifested, because God raised up Pharaoh for this purpose. It was God who chose, created, manipulated, hardened, and destroyed.
Context: Establishing just, fair, equitable principle by which God uses a condemned, hardened Israel (9:27-29; 11:22-32). Assumption: Topic is original hardening, not judicial, punitive, or providential. Question: Did God first harden Pharaoh’s heart, or did God further harden Pharaoh’s already obstinate heart?
Continued enslavement and harsh labor – Exo. 1:8-14. Continued execution of all male infants – Exo. 1: Ignored cries of the Israelites – Exodus 2: Beat leaders for failure to make quotas – Exo. 5: Times, Pharaoh hardened his own heart: Exodus 5:2; 8:15, 32; 9:34; and I Samuel 6:6. Already worthy of divine execution, but spared. Why? 10 Times, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart: Ex. 4:21-23; 7:1-6; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17 How? When? 21
God commanded and warned Pharaoh (Exo. 4:21-23; 5:1-2). “‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me, for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go....” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt …” … And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time. The LORD is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. Entreat the LORD, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” (Exodus 9:22-28)
So Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the LORD; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, that you may know that the earth is the LORD’s. But as for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the LORD God.” … And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the LORD had spoken by Moses. (Exodus 9:29-35) Pharaoh stiffened under 1 command, 2 warning, and 3 leniency! Like an animal, Pharaoh proved himself unteachable, because he only submitted in duress (Ps. 32:9)
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”... (Romans 2:4-6) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9) The same chastening hardens one and softens another!
Point: Vindication of God’s word and promise! God has the right to choose terms of mercy. God has the right to judicially and further harden those already rebellious. God hardens the stubborn through the same chastening He uses upon all: command, warning, punishment, and mercy! Point: Vindication of God’s mercy and judgment.
As Christians in the Reformed tradition, we affirm the biblical view of providence that affirms the world is governed by God’s sovereign ordination (Eph. 1:11). The length of our lives, the color of our hair, your reading of this magazine, and everything else that ever happens was decreed by God. In ordaining certain events, God did not first look into the future and then, seeing how they would transpire, ordain them. Rather, God ordained them, including the means through which the events occur. Those things that God has ordained include also the eternal salvation of His people, thus leaving the rest of mankind eternally damned. In Romans 9:13, Paul uses the example of Jacob and Esau to demonstrate that salvation and damnation are the results of His sovereign choice. From eternity past, God permitted Esau’s (and the rest of humanity’s) fall into destruction.
In today’s passage, Paul addresses the objection that arises from this teaching. How can God be just and yet punish some people if their wickedness and condemnation is foreordained? Romans 9:14–24 answers this question by appealing to God’s authority and glory. As the Creator, God has the right to do with His creation as He pleases. God is just and His glory is manifested in punishing those whom He has ordained to do evil just as a potter has the right to make some vessels fit for destruction (vv. 19– 24). This decree of reprobation is God’s action in leaving some people in their state of sinfulness, thus leading to their damnation. The verb “prepare” in verse 22 is passive as opposed to its active use in verse 23, where it refers to God’s work of election of some to salvation. Out of the mass of humanity God actively elects some to salvation and passes over the rest, leaving them in their wickedness.
Though it remains mysterious as to how God ordains all things and yet is not responsible for evil, we must affirm both truths. It does help us to see how God is just when His decree of reprobation is passive, not active. It also strengthens our assurance to know that God’s electing grace is so active and sure that we will love Him forever. Many misunderstand Reformed theology to say that God forces some to go to hell against their will. Though God does indeed pass over some people, He never acts apart from their desires. In our natural state since the fall, all men truly desire hell because they truly desire evil. – R. C. Sproul
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? (Ro. 9:19-21) Can you answer the Calvinist’s use of these verses? Often free-will advocates claim that Calvinism is not fair. In these verses, Paul anticipates that charge and condemns all who would question God. We have no right to challenge God’s fairness. It is irrelevant if we think God is fair! Who are we to question God?
God – not Calvin – revealed that God does not charge children with their fathers’ sin (Ezekiel 18:1-23) God – not Calvin – revealed that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked & pleads to repent (Ezekiel 18:23-32). God – not Calvin – revealed that God does not want any to perish but is longsuffering unto repentance (II Pt.3:9). God – not Calvin – designed the cross to demonstrate His righteousness, justice, and equity (Romans 3:25-26). If we cannot see God’s equity, maybe we need to remove our blinders and question Calvin instead of God? Context: Cyrus’ role in releasing Jewish exiles (Isa. 45:1-9). Perseverance with wicked and their usage (Rom. 9:20-23).
... So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. … Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’” (Jeremiah 18:5-11) Pot was reshaped, because it refused its intended shape!
Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, … (Romans 9:21-23) Can you answer the Calvinist’s use of these verses? Does not Romans 9:21-23 flatly say that God created some people for the sole purpose of destruction, while others were created simply so He could demonstrate His mercy and bring them to His glory?
What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, … (Romans 9:21-23) Who “prepared vessels of wrath for destruction”? God! Why is God longsuffering with – ultimately – Himself? Did He fail to foresee or plan for these exasperating souls? Or, is He delaying punishment of those who have condemned themselves in abusing His granted freedom?
Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, … (Romans 9:21-23) Context: Preservation of obstinate Pharaoh & Israel. 1. “Prepared”: (Gr., katartizo, passive) to complete, ready 2. “Prepared”: (Gr., proetoimazo, aorist) ready beforehand How is God ever “passive” in a wholly ordained universe?
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (II Timothy 2:20-21) Same Greek root words as Romans 9: This verses focuses on the elect’s “preparation”. Romans 9:23 focuses on God’s advanced preparation… What did God do in advance?
... even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.” Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.” And as Isaiah said before: “Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah.” (Romans 9:24-29) Israel enjoyed a grand part in God’s prepared scheme of redemption. Ultimately, God invited both Jew and Gentile to salvation. Once rebellious, national Israel finished its role, God finished it!
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 9:30-33) Jews chose salvation through themselves & their law! But, God chose salvation through faith! And, that’s His right!
Key: Examine OT quoted proof-texts in their context! 1-5: Rejection of physical, national Israel. 6-13: Vindication of God’s promise, word, and election. Election by promise, not ancestry. Examining roles of nations, not salvation of individuals : Vindication of God’s justice. Right to determine basis of mercy. Right to use and harden those who hardened themselves : Explanation of Jews’ continued existence : Explanation of Jews’ failure and basis of mercy – faith! 10:1-3: Ongoing concern for Israel’s national faithlessness.
Don’t let Calvinists inject their definitions or assumptions into the context without justification! Context of chapter and quotations shows election initially refers to role of nations, not the salvation of individuals. God may judicially harden, but only after man rejects God’s message, discipline, and mercy. God’s original plans (i.e., judgment) can be changed based on a person or a nation’s choices (Jer. 18:5-11). One can “prepare himself” to be a “vessel of honor”, if he “cleanses himself” (I Timothy 2:20-21). God can and has chosen terms of salvation – obedient faith, not ancestry or self-justifying law-keeping (Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 55:7; I Peter 5:5; Matthew 7:21-23). We don’t get to choose terms. We can only accept or reject. Will you submit to God’s terms or harden your heart?