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  #111  
Old 04-17-2009, 05:38 PM
Winman Winman is offline
 
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Boaz212

I am almost reluctant to try and answer your questions, as I am sure Brother George will do a far better job.

My personal opinion, and remember, no scripture is of private interpretation, it that people are reading Romans Chapter 9 wrong. I am no scholar, I simply read the Bible and ask God to give me wisdom to understand. And I can testify that God has answered my prayers many times. I have prayed about a certain verse or passage that I could not understand, only to attend Church and the Pastor preach on that very passage and make it clear as day. And in a few cases, the Lord just seemed to open my understanding and suddenly the passage was clear. Sometimes you get an answer very soon, sometimes you have to wait awhile. But if you are sincere, God will answer you.

James 1: 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

There you go, God is happy to give you wisdom if you ask, so don't doubt Him.

Now, to how I read Romans Chapter 9. I always approach problems in the same way I was taught in Algebra many years ago. Always take what you do know, to determine what you do not know.

Now, this we know, God is not willing that any should perish.

2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Now, remember that word "longsuffering", because you are going to see that again in Romans 9. And another important word there is "repentance".

We also know that God does not tempt any man to sin.

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

So here we have two very simple and straightforward things we KNOW. God is not willing that any person should perish, and God does not cause any man to sin.

And Election? Have you ever heard a radio show where they say, "the first person to call in and tell us what year the movie Wizard of Oz came out will win a thousand dollars!"? That is election. If you call in and give the correct answer first, it has already been determined beforehand that you will win the prize. If you call in and give the wrong answer, or you are correct but you were not the first to call in with the correct answer, it has already been determined beforehand that you will not win the prize.

And God has determined that He will only save those who come to Him in faith.

This is what Romans 9:15 means.

Romans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

And this is explained in earlier verses.

Rom 9:8 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.

God has already determined he will have mercy on those who come to Him by faith, not works, or not because of genealogy (descended from Abraham according to the flesh).

Now, here is where it gets tricky. God already knows who will come to Him by faith, and God knows who will not. And this was the case with Pharoah. God knew beforehand that Pharoah would rebel and resist God.

Now, that is not God's fault. God gives every person free will. You must come to God because you LOVE him, not because you are a robot that has no choice. This is where some go wrong. They think God is cruel and determines some to be punished forever, and chooses some to have everlasting life. No, God gives every man free choice. And that is how it should be. If you were getting married, would you want your wife to marry you because she chose you and loved you, or because you stuck a shotgun in her face and demanded she marry you? No, real love always gives a person free will and choice, and God gives you free will and choice.

Have you ever had a debate with someone where you knew (or at least felt) you were correct, and knew they were wrong? And no matter how much evidence you provide that person, instead of agreeing with you, they just get more and more stubborn?

I argued with my wife once over the words to a song. She was singing a song and got the words wrong. I laughed (big mistake) and told her that is not how the song went. She got offended and insisted she was correct. I insisted I was correct, she insisted she was correct. We got in such a heated argument over this silly song that we did not speak to each other for over a week. We never did resolve it, we just dropped it.

But that is how Pharoah was. Pharoah was stubborn. He did not like to be wrong, he did not want to listen to God or anybody else. So in this sense God hardened his heart, by commanding him to let God's people go. The more God told him, and the plagues God brought upon him, the angrier Pharoah got, and the more determined to resist God he became.

Now read Roman 9:17-18 and it will make sense.

Rom 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Yes, God used Pharoah to demonstrate his power. He knew Pharoah would resist Him, and God could show his great power in bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. But God did not make Pharoah stubborn, that was Pharoah's own fault.

Now look at Rom 9:19-22

Rom 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

First, note that they asked "why hast thou made me thus?" You hear that a lot today. The homosexuals will claim that they have no choice in their lifestyle, that God made them that way. But that is not true.

Notice how I highlighted "of the same lump" in verse 21, this is very important. We are all made from the same lump. God does not create you good or evil, you CHOOSE to be good or evil. You can come to Jesus in faith, or you can choose your own way. But remember, God has already determined beforehand that He will only accept those who come to Him by His Son Christ Jesus in faith. He will have mercy on those who come to Him in faith, He will have no mercy on those who choose their own way.

And notice verse 22, where God says "he endured with much long-suffering".
He gave Pharoah every possible chance he could. At one point Pharoah even admitted he had sinned.

Exo 9:27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.

But Pharoah said this for convenience. He just wanted the plague to end, and once it did, he went right back to his old stubborn ways.

Exo 9:33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. 34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.

Yes, God caused Pharoah to harden his heart by confronting him, but it was Pharoah's own personal choice.

So, God is not wrong to show His power and wrath on those who stubbornly resist Him, and He is not wrong to show mercy to those who obey Him by coming in faith.

I hope this helped. This is how I understand this chapter.

Last edited by Winman; 04-17-2009 at 05:47 PM.
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  #112  
Old 04-19-2009, 03:22 PM
boaz212 boaz212 is offline
 
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Winman, thanks for your reply. I will go over your post a few more times. I already found things very helpful to me!

Thanks George, while you are working on your answer, I have been reading over and over again that whole section ch.9-11. Can't wait to get your insights. Take care.

Tim
  #113  
Old 04-23-2009, 05:31 AM
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chette777 chette777 is offline
 
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Just a quick input Romans 9 through 11 must need be actively rightly divided. and by doing so the context becomes clear. this section of scriptures deals mainly with Israel. right from the beginning of this section of Romans Paul begins to address what the cross cause and effect upon the OT law.

for three chapters Paul gives us a great understanding of Israels position and purpose. most of which during this age of grace the nation Israel has been set aside. and must come to God through Christ as any other man.

Wonderful truths of Gods will and purpose for Israel is confirmed and laid out in the three chapters of Romans dealing with "what about Israel?" Romans 9-11 must be taken together as one section and read in light of Gods will for Israel's future.

so many come away with the wrong perception and even off or false doctrines by not keeping the context of Israel.

Last edited by chette777; 04-23-2009 at 05:36 AM.
  #114  
Old 04-28-2009, 04:27 PM
Timotheus Timotheus is offline
 
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Firstly, thank you for sharing with us your study on Calvinism Brother George. It was a blessing to read, and most edifying.

I have a few questions I wish to ask, though I don't mean to add any more work to this otherwise long study.

A friend of mine recently sent me this website on Calvanism and why the five points are Biblical. I still haven't done much research into beyond taking note that their doctrine is not derived from the Perfect Word of God.

But here are a few highlights that I have questions on.

Quote:
The totality of our rebellion is seen in Romans 3:9-10 and 18. "I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: None is righteous, no not one; no one seeks for God....There is no fear of God before their eyes."

It is a myth that man in his natural state is genuinely seeking God. Men do seek God. But they do not seek him for who he is. They seek him in a pinch as one who might preserve them from death or enhance their worldly enjoyments. Apart from conversion, no one comes to the light of God.

Some do come to the light. But listen to what John 3:20-21 says about them. "Every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God."

Yes there are those who come to the light—namely those whose deeds are the work of God. "Wrought in God" means worked by God. Apart from this gracious work of God all men hate the light of God and will not come to him lest their evil be exposed—this is total rebellion. "No one seeks for God...There is no fear of God before their eyes!"
So they are stating we are in total rebellion and nothing about us is in line with God (before salvation) correct, because any "good" thing we do is wrought in God, and if we are Wrought in God we must be saved? Seems a little circular to me.

Quote:
Man's inability to submit to God and do good is total.

Picking up on the term "flesh" above (man apart from the grace of God) we find Paul declaring it to be totally enslaved to rebellion. Romans 8:7-8 says, "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

The "mind of the flesh" is the mind of man apart from the indwelling Spirit of God ("You are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you," Romans 8:9). So natural man has a mindset that does not and cannot submit to God. Man cannot reform himself.

Ephesians 2:1 says that we Christians were all once "dead in trespasses and sins." The point of deadness is that we were incapable of any life with God. Our hearts were like a stone toward God (Ephesians 4:18; Ezekiel 36:26). Our hearts were blind and incapable of seeing the glory of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). We were totally unable to reform ourselves.
And that, well that part went over my head.

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL...ism/#Depravity

Is the site my friend sent me though.

I thought at the very least it might be good for your study to get other Calvanisitic views on their doctrine.
  #115  
Old 04-28-2009, 06:13 PM
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Luke Luke is offline
 
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Quote:
Now, that is not God's fault. God gives every person free will. You must come to God because you LOVE him, not because you are a robot that has no choice. This is where some go wrong. They think God is cruel and determines some to be punished forever, and chooses some to have everlasting life. No, God gives every man free choice. And that is how it should be. If you were getting married, would you want your wife to marry you because she chose you and loved you, or because you stuck a shotgun in her face and demanded she marry you? No, real love always gives a person free will and choice, and God gives you free will and choice.
While I agree with the general premise, sinners coming to God are coming not because they love him, but because He loved us and died for us. Our love for God will grow AFTER salvation, but before salvation, there is none that seeketh after God. One cannot love someone he does not know.
  #116  
Old 04-28-2009, 06:19 PM
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I wouldn't worry about "desiringgod.com" too much. It's John Piper's website. He teaches what is called double predestination.

He declares that God actually selected and decreed who would go to hell and who would go to heaven. A "double" election. This is actually the logical calvinist position..

The more common position is that God elected who would go to heaven and ignored the rest.

Both are wrong.
  #117  
Old 04-29-2009, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Question on Romans 9

Hi George, my name is Tim. I just joined the forum. I have been studying Romans 9. I understand that the context of the chapter is on the election of the nation of Israel. But a calvinist would twist it to mean predestination of the saved/lost. I have some questions on your study on this chapter. I have a few things I am not understanding so I can't put the whole chapter together. I need your help.”

[I]
Rom 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.[/i]

To whom is the mercy/compassion referring to?”

Rom 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?
Rom
9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Rom 9:22 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
Rom 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Rom 9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?


What does it mean "made me thus"? What's the complaint? Is the vessel of wrath referring to just the pharoah? What how do you define "fitted"? and the meaning "fitted to destruction"? And lastly, what is the "glory" in v23 referring to?”

It has been a bit frustrating for me trying to sort through the maze of calvinism. Your explanation in this thread has been a great blessing to me. Thanks for your help.”

Tim
Aloha Brother Tim,

Before I answer your specific questions I want to establish some precepts and principles in “rightly dividing the word of truth”. There are some Scriptures that can “STAND ALONE” - that is, some verses (on their own) establish God’s truth without the necessity of corroborating verses (although there may be other verses that support the Scriptural precept or principle); and there are some Scriptures that if made toSTAND ALONE” (without corroboration, or if taken out of “context”) can lead to False Doctrine or Heresy.

A few “Examples” of Scriptures that can “STAND ALONE” follow:

Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Psalms 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Psalms 33:4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.

Psalms 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

There are literally hundreds of verses like those that I cited above that can “STAND ALONE”.

All of the verses that I cited can be “corroborated” with other verses, but, if cited, they can “STAND ALONE” because they establish an immutable Scriptural “precept” or “principle”. On the other hand, there are Scriptures (like some of those you cited) which if MADE TO “STAND ALONE” (without Scriptural corroboration), can be twisted, wrested, and taken out of context to satisfy a “private interpretation”, and which (as is often the case) can end up actually supporting “False Doctrine” or “Heresy”.


The mark of a CULT and/or a False Teacher (a Heretick) is when they take Scripture (containing “the mysteries of God”; or “the wisdom of God”; or “the deep things of God” – i.e. those things that the “natural man” cannot understand, “because they are spiritually discerned”) and MAKE IT “STAND ALONE” (without Scriptural corroboration) or TAKE IT OUT OF “CONTEXT” – in order to PROVE APRIVATE INTERPRETATION”. We must always be on guard against Heresy and False Teachers (Hereticks), and be extremely careful that we, ourselves, do NOT employ THEIR METHODS in our study of God’s Holy word.

Your question concerning:
Quote:
[I]Rom 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.[/i]
To whom is the mercy/compassion referring to?
The quote that Paul is citing is from Exodus 33:19 – [Exodus 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.]

I believe that in the context of Exodus Chapter 33 the words are directed, first in regards to Moses and secondly to the nation of Israel (Read all of Exodus 33 1-23). You will notice that in Romans Chapter 9: 1-33 Paul first speaks about his “brethren”, his “kinsmen according to the flesh” {“Who are Israelites”}; he then goes over the written record in Exodus 33:1-23 and elsewhere in The “Oracles of God”, i.e. “the Scripture of truth”, and he makes some “spiritual comparisons” for Christians, and he also goes on to make some “spiritual applicationsto Christians (specifically – the “Gentile” Christians); that is Paul set forth the precept that God’s mercy, graciousness, and compassion are NOT LIMITED to the Jews ONLY. Paul would often cite “episodes” or “incidents” from the Old Testament which involved the Israelites and use them as “examples” or “ensamples” for us to learn by. [Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11] But what Paul did NOT do was to take Old Testament “DOCTRINE” - directed specifically at the Jews (and exclusively for the Jews) and make a “DOCTRINAL APPLICATION” to Gentile believers.

Paul is making SPIRITUAL comparisons between the children “of the flesh” and the children of “promise” (i.e. faith) and he is making a SPIRITUAL application to all those (Jews & Gentiles) who, by faith, are the genuine children of God. He is NOT teaching a New Testament DOCTRINE that “some are elected into salvation, others are not”! Please notice that the wordseternal life” and “salvation” can NOT be found in the entire Chapter 9 of the Book of Romans. And the word “saved” shows up only once [Romans 9:27] and is obviously in reference to a “remnant” of “the children of Israel” – NOT born again children of God. [Romans 9:27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:]

In Romans 9:1-33 Paul has “great heaviness and continual sorrow” in his heart over the fact that the nation of Israel rejected Christ their Messiah & Saviour, but then he demonstrates, that just because Christ’s brethren (in the flesh) rejected Him, that didn’t prevent God, in His mercy, from blessing the Gentiles; that is those Gentiles, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and who became the children of God “by faith”. God demonstrated that: He (God) “will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” Paul is clearly teaching that God’s graciousness and mercy are not reserved for the Jews (in the flesh) ONLY, but that He (God) could choose whomsoever he wanted (regardless of their physical birth) to bestow His mercy upon.

The point that Paul was making was - just because a person was born a Jew (in the flesh) didn’t guarantee that they are a genuine child of God. Paul cites Hosea 2:23 (Romans 9:25-26); Isaiah 10:22-23 (Romans 9:27-28); Isaiah 1:9 (Romans 9:29); and Isaiah 8:14 (Romans 9:33) in making his point.

If you are studying the Book of Romans, you should be studying the “companion book” to Romans (The Book of Galatians) also. Much of what is taught in Romans will be corroborated, substantiated, and expounded on in the Book of Galatians also. If a “Christian” goes to a few verses in the Book of Romans and tries to make those verses “STAND ALONE”, you can be sure of one thing - they are trying to “persuade” you to their point of view (i.e. “private opinion”) on a spiritual issue that is extremely complex, and which CANNOT be settled by just one verse, or a handful of verses, taken (wrested) out of “context”.

Your next questions:
Quote:
Rom 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus?
Rom
9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Rom 9:22 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
Rom 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Rom 9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles
?

What does it mean "made me thus"? What's the complaint? Is the vessel of wrath referring to just the pharoah? What how do you define "fitted"? and the meaning "fitted to destruction"? And lastly, what is the "glory" in v23 referring to?”
In studying this complex issue, Christians must familiarize themselves with the Old Testament record of the people and events that Paul is writing about. In addition they must read ALL of Paul’s Epistles (to see what else he says about the issue); and they must not take this handful of Scriptures in Romans Chapter 9, without having a good grounding and familiarity with the whole Book of Romans (and the “companion” Book of Galatians).

We are commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ to “Search the Scriptures” [John 5:39]; and the Bereans were commended by Paul because they: “. . . . searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11] When it comes to a “doctrine” as complex as “Calvinism”, we must do a whole lot of “searching” in order to arrive at the truth of God’s word.

I cannot answer your questions without first examining the preceding verses in Romans Chapter 9 (in order to establish the “context” of WHO & WHAT the Apostle Paul is writing about):

Quote:
Romans 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,
2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8 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.
It should be obvious to all that Paul is writing primarily about “the Jews” (Israelites/Hebrews – Paul’s “brethren” & “kinsmen according to the flesh”). He is testifying about the Jews “special relation” to the God of Scripture {Romans 9:1-5} and then demonstrates the difference between “the children of promise{Isaac} and “the children of the flesh{Ishmael}. Both were Abraham’s children (of Abraham’s physical “seed”), but only Isaac was considered the child of “promise” and “counted for the seed”. {The fact that God CHOSE the one above the other drives Humanists (lost or saved) crazy - they cannot accept that God chooses to bless some individuals and that he actually discriminates against others! [Romans 11:7, 25; 2Corinthians 3:14, 4:4; Ephesians 4:18 - John 9:39, 12:39-40; Romans 11:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:11] The problem (or question) remains – upon WHAT BASIS does God do His CHOOSING?}

Quote:
9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth
12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
And here is the “crux of the matter” with Calvinism. Did God just “pick” Jacob over Esau for no reason whatsoever? Calvinists believe that that is exactly what he did! Did God just arbitrarily choose to “LOVE” Jacob and “HATE” Esau - “without a cause”? [What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” Romans 9:14] If you have read my essays on Calvinism, you will know that I believe that God basis His “choosing” on His “Foreknowledge” [Romans 8:29]; and that God’s “foreknowledge” is NOT based on WHAT He “knew” (beforehand) we were going to DO (i.e. the “WORKS OF THE FLESH”), but that God’s “foreknowledge” is based on what God “knew” (beforehand) as to WHAT we would “BELIEVE” (an OPERATION or FUNCTION of THE HEART – NOT THE FLESH). [Romans 9:13]

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” You can be sure that God “knew” [1 kings 8:39; 2 Chronicles 6:30; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; Acts 15:8; 1 John 3:20] beforehand that Esau “despised his “birthright” (in his heart) long before he carelessly threw it away and sold it for a mess of pottage (a work of the flesh). [Genesis 25:34] That is - God “knew”, even before Jacob and Esau were born, that Esau would “despise” (a function and operation of his heart) the “promise” of God, and God “hated” him for it!

In the context Paul is continuing his thesis: that the children of “promise” are “counted” as Abraham’s “seed” and NOT the children of the flesh. Both Jacob and Esau were of the physical “seed” of Isaac, and yet God CHOSE Jacob as the child of “promise” – NOT Esau! Is eternal life “in play” here? Is anything being said about eternal salvation? These verses are talking about God CHOOSING one child of the physical “seed” of Abraham [the child of “promise”] and rejecting another child of the physical “seed” of Abraham (the child of the “flesh”). Based on what? “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;

In order to understand what the preceding verse is speaking about, the first thing that has to be done is, we must try to determine (by the Scriptures) just exactly WHAT is the “PURPOSE” of God? We know that the “Purpose” is “according to election”. But is the “Purpose” (as spoken about here) about the eternal destiny of all of the souls of men from the beginning of creation up until now? I trow not! The “Purpose of God” (as spoken about here) has many facets, (a “pure seed”; a “perfect seed”, a “royal seed”; the “right seed”, i.e. the “seed” of “promise”), but overall the “purpose” (here in the context) was to insure that “the children of promise” would receive God’s blessing, and NOT “the children of the flesh”. {And WHY was it so? So that the “promise” would not (could not) be EARNED BY THE WORKS OF THE FLESH; but that it would be GIVEN BY GOD to those WHO BELIEVED GOD’S WORDS, and WHO (BY FAITH) TRUSTED IN HIM.}

And so in order that - “the purpose of God according to election might stand,God did not (in His “Foreknowledge”) base His “CHOOSING” on WHAT the physical “seed” of Abraham DID (or would DO in the future) IN THE FLESH, [i.e. not of works, but of him that calleth;”] But instead God (in His “Foreknowledge”) CHOSE “the children of promise” based on WHAT and WHO they BELIEVED (or would “BELIEVE” in the future - in their hearts). [Genesis 18:17-19]

Throughout this whole discourse the apostle Paul is leading up to WHY God has turned to the Gentiles, and made it possible for them to become “the children of promise” (because of their “BELIEF” in Jesus Christ); and WHY He has turned away from the nation of Israel, i.e. “the children of the flesh” (because of their “UNBELIEF” and their REJECTION of Jesus Christ – their Messiah & King - Romans 11:20-30). That is, Paul is taking examples of past events that happened to the Hebrews (Jews/Israelites – the physical “seed” of Abraham) from the Holy Scriptures and he is using them to demonstrate WHY the Gentiles (who “BELIEVE”) are also “the children of promise”, just like the Jews (who “BELIEVE”); and that just because a man is born a Jew does not insure that he is indeed one of the true “children of promise”. And not only that, in Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians Chapters 3 through 5 Paul explains HOW the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (The TRUE SEED of Abraham – Galatians 3:16) made it possible for not only BELIEVING Jews to become “the children of promise”, but that Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for ALL who BELIEVE in Him to become “the children of promise”. [1Timothy 4:10]

The whole discourse (in Romans Chapter 9) is NOT about individual “salvation” (i.e. “eternal life”), it’s about WHY God (lawfully & legitimately) turned to the Gentiles (because of Israel’s UNBELIEF- Romans 3:3 & 11:20) and HOW, when a Gentile BELIEVES the Gospel and receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour they are counted as “the children of promise”. [John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:]

Quote:
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
As to hardening the heart of “Pharaoh” (the King of Egypt) and his “servants” and the Egyptian people:

COMPARE: Exodus 4:21; 7:3, 7:13-14, 7:22; 8:19; 9:7, 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27; 11:10; 14:4, 14:8 – WITH: Exodus 8:15 & 8:32

COMPARE: Exodus 9:34 WITH: Exodus 9:35

Exodus 9:34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants.

Exodus 9:35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.

COMPARE: 1Samuel 6:6 WITH:Exodus 14:17 & Exodus 7:3

1 Samuel 6:6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?

Exodus 14:17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

Exodus 7:3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

The preceding verses (and the ones immediately following) require careful study, and we are commanded to “rightly divide” them. Is there a “contradiction” in the Bible? - Of course not. Pharaoh and the Egyptians “hardened” their hearts, and God (in turn) “hardened” their hearts! Since God “knows all things”, don’t you know that He “knew” ahead of time that Pharaoh would harden his heart? God doesn’t act arbitrarily (like men); and He doesn’t act unrighteously. If He hates someone, it’s because their hearts are dark and evil. If He hardens someone’s heart, it’s because they are determined (in their heart) to ignore his words to begin with.

Quote:
19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
And now on to your questions:
What does it mean "made me thus"? What's the complaint? Is the vessel of wrath referring to just the pharoah? What how do you define "fitted"? and the meaning "fitted to destruction"? And lastly, what is the "glory" in v23 referring to?”

The accusation: “Why hast thou made me thus?” is the unjust “accusation” of an unbelieving and unrepentant sinner; that whatever sin or evil they commit – it’s “ALL God’s FAULT!

What's the complaint?” – The “complaint” is much the same as the “accusation”! I’m sure you’ve heard the psychobabble: “I can’t help it”; “it’s not my fault”; “I can’t control myself”, etc.; etc. The “complaint” is the EXCUSE that – “God made me this way” (it’s in thegenes”); or “I had terrible parents”; or “I was deprived as a child”; “my environment shaped me”; etc.; etc., and so there is NOTHING I can do about it. It’s ALL God’s FAULT! Much like Cain before:

Genesis 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Is the vessel of wrath referring to just the pharoah?” -Please notice, the verse says “vessels (plural) of wrath - of which Pharaoh is a perfect EXAMPLE.

What how do you define "fitted"? I have a RULE when it comes to defining Bible words: If the word in question has “spiritual” significance – I let the Scriptures define its meaning. If a word is “archaic” or perhaps not used much today, I use Webster’s 1828 Dictionary to define words that do not determine doctrine. “Fitted” simply means”:
Quote:
FITTED, pp. Made suitable; adapted; prepared; qualified.
the meaning "fitted to destruction" – Notice WHAT HAPPENED to Pharaoh and his army. Again God has shown us an example of THE ULTIMATE END OF ALL THOSE WHO OPPOSE HIS WILL.

Our God is a Sovereign God. He often uses “vessels of wrath” to fulfill His will: Nebuchadnezzar (pagan king of Babylon) is called (by God) “my servant” [Jeremiah 27:6]; Cyrus (a pagan king of Persia) is called (by God) “my shepherd” [Isaiah 44:28] and “his {God’s} anointed” [Isaiah 45:1]; Darius (a pagan King of Media & Persia) was used of God to fulfill His purposes [Daniel 6:25-27]; God not only uses and blesses “the vessels of mercy”; He also uses and curses “the vessels of wrath”. Ultimately “His Will” – will be done! And He will use whomsoever He will to get it accomplished.

what is the "glory" in v23 referring to?” – Ultimately God is going to receive ALL GLORY. Whether it be from His creation; His creatures; His people (“the vessels of mercy”); or “the vessels of wrath”. God is going tomake known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” [Romans 9:23] Someday God is going reveal to ALL (all of mankind) just how loving, merciful, and longsuffering He has been, by bestowing the “riches of His glory” on His people (the vessels of mercy), undeserving as they (we) are! And He will receive “GLORY” because of this act of GRACE (Undeserved Favor).

These verses illustrate that God “chooses” to bless some people and curse others. However, they do NOT tell us WHY (His basis) God chooses to bless some and curse others, nor do they tell us HOW (His methodology) He chooses. But the Bible has made it perfectly clear that His “choosing” is NOT based on something we DO, i.e. THE WORKS OF THE FLESH [Romans 9:11]

The Calvinist’s would have us believe that God just “arbitrarily” decides (based on NOTHING other than His “sovereign will”) WHO He will bless and WHO He will curse. I believe that the basis of God’s “choosing” is founded on the fact that although - “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” [Romans 3:23], there are some people ((“the vessels of wrath”, i.e. the children of the flesh”) who “choose”, in their heart, NOT to believe God or His words and there are others (“the vessels of mercy”, i.e. “the children of promise”), WHO “choose”, in their heart, to BELIEVE God, and WHO have placed their FAITH IN HIM. And although (in the flesh) there is no difference between the two (both are sinners and come short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23), God “chooses” to bless those who BELIEVE (in their heart) in Him and in His words; and He has “chosen” to curse those who REFUSE to BELIEVE (in their heart) in Him or in His words.

1 Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

The preceding verses explain our “calling”, i.e. the “calling of God”. Within these verses we can see “the PURPOSE of God” and can understand WHY the basis of God’s “choosing” CANNOT be “OF WORKS” - but of him that calleth;”! [Romans 9:11]. The reason WHY God “chooses” the way He does (i.e. “the purpose of God according to election”) is so: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” and That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

When it comes to salvation under the “New Covenant” - I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “Now, I believe that there is NOTHING we can DO to EARN God’s Salvation; but there is SOMETHING that we MUST DO to RECEIVE God’s Salvation – WE MUST FIRST BELIEVE! THE QUESTION IS: . . . Sirs, WHAT MUST I DO to be saved?” THE BIBLICAL ANSWER: “And they said, BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” [Acts 16:30-31]

However, in the context of this Chapter Paul is not writing about the salvation of the individual. He is talking about the fact that not only are the Jews the “called” of God, but the Gentiles are the “called” of God also. “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?[Romans 9:24] This whole chapter (along with Galatians Chapters 3 through 5) is an explanation or an exposition and justification as to WHY the Gentiles (who believed the Gospel) are also “the children of promise”, i.e. the sons of God.

In Paul’s day there were many Jews who believed the Gospel and who were genuinely saved (i.e. born again), but who also did not (or could not) understand WHY God had also “called” or “chosen” the Gentiles (who believed the Gospel). This Chapter is Paul’s (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) explanation as to WHY. It is NOT an explanation or description of individual salvation.

Quote:
25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
There is so much more, but I don’t have the time (or the space) to expound any further. And truthfully, I feel inadequate to comment on some of these things because there is much that I still do not fully understand myself.

I recommend that as you study the Book of Romans that you also study the Book of Galatians along with it. If a Christian can “get a grip” on these two Books of the Bible they will never wander too far off from “sound doctrine”. But like Peter has said about Paul’s Epistles: there “are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” [2 Peter 3:16] If Peter had a hard time understanding some of Paul’s writings, don’t get discouraged if you don’t understand all of what he wrote.

Believe what you do understand (doubting nothing), and that which you don’t understand – leave for another day or another time. Although I have been a Christian for over 50 years, God has opened up my understanding to certain matters in the Scriptures in the last 3 years that I had very little idea about before. Be patient and don’t “force” Scripture into a “theological construct” or a “Denominational box” so that you can "MAKE" it understandable.

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
  #118  
Old 04-29-2009, 01:14 PM
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Gord Gord is offline
 
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Brother George, re: post #117.

You have yet to post a response that I have not 'learned something new' from.

I just wanted to say thanks, again.
  #119  
Old 04-29-2009, 05:41 PM
boaz212 boaz212 is offline
 
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Hi Brother George! I am about 1/3 way through reading your answer to my questions. Since it will take me a while to finish reading the whole thing, I want to take a quick break and thank you for your time and care that was put into this thoughtful answer. I am very very thankful again for your help. I know this study that you've done has been a blessing not just to me but also to many others. Thanks so much!
Tim
  #120  
Old 07-05-2009, 12:59 PM
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Gord Gord is offline
 
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I must say that this tread had me ask myself a lot of questions. I have spent the past 3 months reading and studying as much as I can on this topic. Brother George, as lot of the scripture references you provided especially on election, just didn't make any sense to me.

When I read Paul's statement Ro*8:29 ¶ For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Ro*8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

To me, it means exactly what it says. I can not agree with any of the arguments of free will as that then mean MAN has some control of his salvation.

It seams to me Paul had this right long before Calvin was even born.

To make this easier for me, I have quoted the arguments of Dr. Keith Sherlin (Short Narrative) as he explains this far better than I ever could.

Quote:
Rev. Keith Sherlin holds a Bachelor's degree (Theological Studies) from North Greenville University, a Master's degree (Theological Studies) from Tyndale Theological Seminary, a Doctor of Divinity from Scofield Theological Seminary, and a Th.D from Scofield Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D Doctoral candidate (Theology) from Trinity College and Theological Seminary. He is also a graduate of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and is a certified South Carolina Law Enforcement Officer. He founded Essential Christianity Ministries, and co-foundeed Foothills Church in the upstate of SC where he has served as one of the elders. He has served in various pastoral positions throughout SC. He is also an adjunct professor with Tyndale Theological Seminary. He has published articles in the Conservative Theological Journal and has published a monograph, "Essential Christianity: Foundations for a Faithful Faith." His second book, "How Can God Be All Powerful and Totally Loving When He Planned a World With Sin and Suffering," was released in SPring of 2009.
Election/Predestination: What does the Bible Teach?

http://www.essentialchristianity.com...p?pageid=23852

The Controversy Over Predestination

If you mention the subject of predestination or election it almost invariably stirs up a controversy within most any religious discussion. The word itself often invokes spiritually immature people to anger and rage. Furthermore, for the person bringing up the subject within certain contexts of people or denominations the possibility of receiving scorn is as likely as finding water in a lake! The famous Baptist pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon once commented that when you bring up the subject of God's love to the Arminian advocate (a theologian who endorses man's ability as the key to salvation) his eyes and face glow with warmth. However, when you introduce the subject of election or predestination to the same person their eyes often turn red with fire. From those eyes comes a blazing fire of anger that often comes forth in a violent rage. Dr. William Crews of Spartanburg SC noted in his manuscript of this topic:

"The doctrine of election perhaps encounters stronger opposition than does any other Bible doctrine . . . . I have seen people become violent under the preaching of the doctrine of election. I was preaching a special meeting years ago when on the next to final night of the meeting a young man rose at the end of the service, after I finished preaching on God's sovereignty in election, furiously enraged. He made his way to the front of the church expressing before the congregation his disagreement and detestation of what had been preached. His appearance indicated that in his fit of rage he might become sufficiently violent to physically attack me. It was obvious that he was so mad that he was beyond the point of self-control. The man was not an infidel, agnostic, or atheist. He was not an irreligious person. He was a professing Christian" (The Bible Doctrine of Election, 4-5).

I hope to discuss and present this subject in a manner that does not provoke or entice someone to such an episode of anger. I realize that many Christians have grown up in churches whereby the subject has often been neglected. Many people today sit in churches whereby the pastor(s) pick and choose which subjects to teach from in the Bible. In these places many believers suffer from spiritual malnutrition because the leaders fail to teach the fullness of the Bible. That spiritual malnutrition exposes itself quickly when people begin to discuss the subject of predestination/election.


Hopefully, I can introduce this subject to you in such a way that you can make logical step-by-step advances in understanding the truth of this biblical doctrine. Sometimes, but not in all of the cases, believers dislike this doctrine by the way the subject is introduced. Sure, there are unbelievers who will oppose the doctrine because it cuts to the heart of their self sufficient, prideful, and haughty spirit that leads to self exaltation. A sinner that has never been converted will naturally by their own sin nature oppose anything that removes them from their life of selfism. The doctrine of election/predestination makes God really real and removes the person from the position of trying to be their own god. It cuts to the very heart and soul of a person's pride. But, nonetheless, saints still sometimes struggle with the idea for other reasons, which sometimes include issues of self reliance as well as issues of balancing this doctrine with other legitimate teachings of Scripture. For example, some people are confused or they misrepresent the doctrine as if people who believe in predestination deny God's universal love. The Bible is clear, however, that God does have a love for all people (see John 3:16, 1st John 2:2; 1st Timothy 2:6). Therefore, this introduction seeks to provide a balanced treatment that can progressively introduce you to an important theme in God's love book to us.



All Bible Believers Admit the Bible Contains the Subject of Predestination/Election

I. The Words Election and Predestination are Found in the Bible

No person, especially a believer, can honestly read Scripture for long without coming across the words "election," and "predestination." To ignore that these words exist in the text of the Bible is to lie against the truth. We are not talking about definition of these words just yet. The first step is to simply admit that the Bible does indeed use such terminology. Here are some verses that simply use the terminology of elect, election, chosen, and predestination. 

"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:14 ESV). 

"And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short" (Matt. 24:22 ESV).

"And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night" (Luke 18:7 NIV)? 

"I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen" (John 13:18a NASB).

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit" (John 15:16a NKJV). 

"this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB). 

"For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified" (Rom. 8:29-30 HCSB). 

"though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad-in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call" (Rom. 9:11 ESV). 

"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Eph. 1:4-5 NKJV).

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Peter 1:1-2a NASB). 

 
These few verses reveal at the very least that the Bible contains the subject of election and predestination. No Christian can honestly avoid the subject. I like what the Southern Baptist Dr. Paige Patterson, who currently serves as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, had to say of the subject concerning the Bible doctrine of election. He noted in a chapel address that, "Any approach to soteriology [the doctrine of salvation] which omits the Bible doctrine of election is incomplete, inadequate, and misleading." The Bible talks about election and so the Christian must agree that it is indeed something taught in the Bible. What it exactly means is another issue. But first all Christians must agree it is a doctrine of the Bible. 

II. The Doctrine of Election/Predestination Relates to Salvation 

In the verses above the teaching of election relates to the concept of man's salvation. For instance, Romans 8:29-30 specifically relates the subject of predestination to the work of God in calling and justifying the person. Justification is another term used to mean making a person rightly related to God. Ephesians 1:4-5 talks about about God predestinating a portion of people to adoption. Adoption means becoming a part of God's family. 

From these verses alone we can see that the doctrine relates to the salvation of individuals. Now again, note that I have not said how this predestination takes place. For now we are simply looking at the basic facts that this doctrine does indeed relate to the concepts concerning salvation. Election and predestination have a direct application to the issue of ones destiny and how that destiny is ultimately determined. 

Of course, this is the very reason why the subject creates so much heat and tension. It is a serious subject. Anytime we talk about destiny, a person's eternal destiny, it means we are discussing a very serious and solemn subject. This is why the teaching and discussion of this doctrine causes a person's passion to rise high. The eternal destiny of a person is a highly emotional and sensitive subject. 

III. All of the Main Line Protestant Creed/Confessions Speak of the Subject of Election/Predestination

Creeds or Confessions of Faith serve the community of faith with a guide or standard as to what the Bible teaches. Most all of the denominations that formed from the 1500s until today formulate some type of doctrinal guideline. A peripheral reading of all of the mainline denominational confessions reveal that the broad, evangelical, multi-denominational persuasions of Christianity teach on the doctrine of predestination.

Here are just a few examples of some of the creeds and confessions that mention the idea and concept of predestination:

The Articles of Religion in 1571. Sometimes it is called the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. This is the confession of faith used by the Episcopal and Anglican church. Article 17 specifically teaches on election and predestination.

The Formula of Concord in 1577. This is the confession of faith that governed the Evangelical Lutheran Church. If you recall, Martin Luther was the main leader in Protestant Reformation. This confession of faith in Article II teaches on the subject of Predestination.


The Westminister Confession of Faith of 1643-1646. This is the main classic confession for the Presbyterian denomination. This confession of faith specifically deals with election and predestination under Chapter 3, Of God's Eternal Decree, in Chapter 9, Of Free Will, Chapter 10, Of Effectual Calling, and Chapter 11, Of Justification. In all of these chapters the Bible discusses predestination or related concepts.


The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. The earliest Baptist Confession of Faith in America discusses the subject of predestination and election in several places in the confession. In Chapter 3, dealing with God's eternal decree, Chapter 5, issues with Divine Providence, Chapter 9, which deals with man's will, Chapter 10, discusses God's work in calling people to faith, and Chapter 14 provides information in how God provides saving faith for people. All throughout these chapters references are made to election, foreknowledge, predestination, calling, and other related concepts dealing with salvation. Other Baptist Confessions follow suit with this as well. The New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith in 1833 and the Baptist Faith and Message of the Southern Baptist Convention (all editions from 1925 to the current 2000 version) have sections that discuss the election and predestination subjects. 



These confessions teach us one thing for certain, God's church seriously considers the subject. The doctrine of election and predestination must be dealt with as the subject comes directly from the pages of Scripture. If multiple denominations from various persuasions with historical and theological differences all speak to the subject it must be because the subject is clearly taught within the Bible. One cannot come to the Bible and ignore the subject. Though it may be controversial, a person must admit and interact with what the Bible says on this subject if he or she is faithful to the biblical text.



Election/Predestination is Related to the Omniscient Foreknowledge of God

What or Who Determines Who is Of the Elect? 

What determines if a person is elect and one of the predestined people? This is the most serious question of this study. What exactly does it mean when God says we "are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Peter 1:1-2a). When Paul says "those whom He foreknew He also predestined" (Romans 8:29) what does he mean? This is where the subject begins to breed deep controversy. 

All Christians who believe the Bible recognize that God is omniscient. This means that God knows everything. The Bible is very clear about this. For example, in 1st John the Bible says, "for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything" (3:20). 

I. The Only Three Options Available to Foreknowledge and Election

1. God simply does not know the future; he makes educated guesses. This view teaches that God simply does not have omniscience. God has to grow and develop. God, according to this view, is limited and he has to make educated guesses based upon probability. In this view the elect are those whom choose God. God discovers this only when the person actually believes. 

2. God knows because he has to learn who chooses him. This view says that election is based upon God's omniscient foreknowledge of learning or looking to see who will choose Christ. God in this version has a unque ability to see into the future from the vantage point of eternity. Those whom God foresees accepting Jesus Christ are then elected. In this model God has knowledge of who will choose but not from all eternity. God has to learn or look into the particular history of a person to see what man will do before he, God, determines what he will do in regard to election. 

3. God knows because he has eternally determined his own knowledge of history. This view says that God does not have to look or learn the future events of history from eternity. God has known all things eternally by thinking up history in his own mind. Those whom God foreknows are those whom he has eternally thought up in his mind as his eternal children. These are the elect ones. People elect to love God because God elected to first love them in his own mind in eternity. 

Only one of the three options presents the real God of the Bible. If God is truly eternal and all knowing, and if he is all knowing without having to learn anything, then only option number three represents the true God of the Bible. 

In other words, if we believe that God is fully omniscient, meaning that he does not have to look or learn anything whatsoever, then the only option left is number three. God knows his children because he has eternally thought of them in this light. In other words, God thought up a certain portion of humanity as his own from eternity, not because he had to learn who would or would not choose him, but because he decided to think (determinately foreknow) his own. Maybe this explanation will help. God's elected/predestined children are elect in accordance to what he thought up in his own mind. God, before the foundation of the world, determined by his own mind, his own cognitive processes to think up in his mind a certain group of people who would be called and adopted into his family. God eternally thought of them as his elect, his children, his predestined people.


II. All People Who Believe in God's Omniscience Struggle with why God Created Those Who Will be Eternally Lost

Some people try and argue that God's election is based upon man's will instead of God's foreknowledge. In some cases this is argued because the person is lost and unrenewed. An unregenerate heart desires to place salvation in the hands of man. Lost people like to think they can do something to earn and gain God's favor. The natural mind does not accept the things of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14). Grace, a work of the Spirit, cannot be earned. However, the sinner wants to obtain God's favor on his own terms and conditions. In essence the sinner wants to be his own god and because of that drive he or she will naturally seek to justify himself/herself before the eyes of God by their own actions, efforts, or meritorious deeds. 

But sometimes even believers get confused about this subject because of false teachers who teach a skewed idea of God's election. Some people introduce the idea of man's will into the equation because they want to alleviate God of the responsibility of creating someone when he knows the person will eventually go to hell. The argument goes like this: "It is unfair for God to create someone and not give them an free will to be saved or damned." But, normally these people have not thought through what they are saying. The idea behind this is that if we introduce election based upon man's will instead of God's omniscient foreknowledge then it alleviates God of creating someone with the end destiny being hell and condemnation. But this reasoning still does not remove the problem. 

For example, if a person truly believes God is all knowing then it does not change the issue whether or not we believe that election is based upon God's foreknowledge or man's will because the end result is the same if God truly does know all of history. Free will does not change the final outcome. If you believe in election based upon God's omniscient foreknowledge, or election based upon man's will, the outcome is still the same. God has chosen to create some knowing that in the end their destiny is going to be hell. Let us look at some logic for moment. 

Scenario #1: If You Believe God Knows Everything then You Believe He Created Some with No Hope of Eternal Salvation. 
 
A. Do you believe God knows the future of every person before he creates that person? YES!

B. Then no matter if you believe in election based upon God's foreknowledge or upon man's free-will you still have God creating someone who will go to Hell. HOW SO?
 
C. If God knew that the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 would never come to believe in Christ then could God have chosen not to create him? YES, God could have chosen not to create this man. At the very moment when God thought out this man's history he could have opted to refrain from creating him since he knew the man's final destiny. But did God still create the rich man found in Luke 16 knowing that in the end he would never believe? YES. 

D. Therefore, we know that in either position (election based upon God's omniscient foreknowledge, or man's free-will) that God still chose to create those whom he knew would go into eternal condemnation. Inserting free-will into the equation does not solve this difficult truth. If God knows someone will never believe before he creates that person then what God knows must actually happen. History cannot happen in any other way than by what God already knows.
 

III. Inserting Man's Will as the Reason or Cause of God's Election Turns Salvation into a Works Orietented Gospel 

Salvation according to the Bible is by grace alone. Grace alone means man did not deserve the favor. The Bible teaches that "for by grace through faith we are saved; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9 NASB). Some people, for whatever reason, pride, misunderstanding, ignorance due to false teaching, etc., insert man's will as the basis for God's election. However, if a person does this then grace becomes something the human earns by making the right choice. That turns the gospel message into a message of justice instead of a message of undeserved grace and favor. If God demands that a person believe in order to be saved, and if this belief is the basis of why God elects/predestines a person then the person who obeys the command/law earns God's grace and favor by his obedience. 
 

Scenario # 2: If You Believe that God's Election/Predestination is Based Upon Man's Will then you believe in a Works System of Salvation 

A. Do you believe that God commands all people to repent and choose Jesus Christ for salvation? YES

B. Do you believe that God elects those whom first elect/choose him? YES

C. If God commands man to believe in Christ, and then when man obeys this law/command he is then elected, it means he earned the favor of God by his obedience to the command. 

D. Therefore, the gospel in this system is one of justice for doing what is right in the eyes of God.
 

Scenario # 3: A Practical Application of a Message of Justice 

A. A company boss promises that if you obey his request to trust his company's product he has for sale that you will recieve a financial blessing. If you trust his product he will give you a commission for choosing that product. 

B. You determine to believe him and you choose that product. 

C. On the spot he gives to you a financial commission for trusting him and his product. 

D. This then means that you earned the commission because of your obedience. Your good choice earned you that commission. You obeyed his request, and in the process of this you earned the favor of that boss. 

Likewise, those who teach God's election is based upon our obedience to make the right choice have introduced a small but very real element of justice into the equation. In these two scenarios above the person receives the reward for making the right choice. When a person chooses to obey the command/request he or she then is blessed or rewarded. This turns the gospel into a mesage of justice and works. That is not the gospel of free, undeserved, and unconditional grace.

Election/Predestination is Conditioned 
Upon God's Determinate Foreknowledge, 
Not Man's Will and Obedience

God Determines What He Eternally Knows

God does not learn, grow, or develop. The Bible teaches us that God knows all of history because he has planned, purposed, or thought up all events of history in one single eternal thought. In other words, God thought one thought for all of history. Yes, I know that is a deep thought. Realizing that God does not think in steps boggles the human mind. Nonetheless, history flows from the mind of God. God does not learn history by looking into history. Rather, God knows history because he has planned all of history from his own mind. Dr. Wayne Grudem correctly says, "God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act" (Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 190).
Scripture to Support this Conclusion


Psalm 139:4 "Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord You know it all."

Psalm 139:16 "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The Days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them."

Isaiah 46:9-10 "Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'"

Ephesians 1:11 "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."

Note that in the Ephesians text that predestination follows "His purpose." God's purpose to know or to plan or to set forth something comes from his own purpose. And furthermore, we see here that all things, not some things, not almost everything, but actually ALL THINGS (that leaves out nothing and includes every single event of history) flow from the "counsel of His will." All things that are holy occur because God planned it actively. He is the cause of it. All things that are sinful occur because God planned it passively. In one sense God determinately knows because of his plan what holy events in history will take place. In another sense God determinately knows the sinful actions of others from all eternity.
God Eternally Knows Some, But Not All, As His Children


The chosen vessels, the predestined ones who are eternally known by God, have been foreknown by God from all of eternity. These children have been in the heart and mind of God from the very moment of his plans for all of history. They are there because God thought of them as his own from the moment he purposed to create them in his own mind. These are the elect.

However, there are those whom God has eternally thought up as the non-elect. These are those whom he has never known as his own. These are the creatures that he has never known from all of eternity. These are the sinners whom God has thought of as choosing to live in sin forever. These are the vessels that God thought up in his mind as the Christ rejecting sinners who refuse to believe in the gospel of grace.

Look at these two verses below:


Matthew 7:22-23 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; Depart from Me, You who practice lawlessness.'"

Who are the ones whom God has never known? These are the ones whom he has eternally thought of as not being his children. When God says never known it is the reverse of those whom he has foreknown. Some are foreknown as his. Others are not known as his, or in the words of Christ, "never known." That means from eternity to eternity (which includes history) some are never known to be the children of God.

Romans 9:21-23 "Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessles of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory" (NASB).

The New Living Translation captures this thought in a very vivid way: Romans 9:21-23 reads in the NLT: "When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? God has every right to exercise his judgement and his power, but he also has the right to be very patient with those who are the objects of his judgement and are fit only for destruction. He also has the right to pour out the riches of his glory upon those he prepared to be the objects of his mercy."

In other words, God's elect, his vessels of mercy are eternally known as his own children. These elect vessels, such as with Jacob (Rom. 9:13), Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5), and Paul (Gal. 1:15) are those whom God "foreknew" which "He also predestined" (Rom. 8:29).

However, the vessels of wrath, those whom God has eternally not known as his children, such as with Esau (Rom. 9:13), are those whom God has never known (Matthew 7:23; Romans 9:13, 22; 1 Peter 2:8). These are those whom God leaves, those whom he passes by and allows to have their own will and way. God does not predestine someone to hell; he does not make them do evil or reject Christ. People do this own their own will of choosing to live in sin.

Election Is Only for the Positive: People Suffer Condemnation Because they Reject Christ and the Offer of Salvation 


Those whom God foreknows, the elect, receive grace and mercy. Election is the cause of a person obtaining grace and favor in the eyes of God. Election does not send someone to hell. Election is only for the good. Those whom God eternally does not know simply live out their own sinfulness and prepare themselves for destruction by their own rejection of God, Jesus Christ, and the offer of salvation. Some are known by God, and others are not known by God. We, however, as humans do not know who is or is not of the elect until they believe in Christ. Only believers and those whom persevere in the faith are of the elect.
Fear Being a Vessel of Wrath and 
Flee to Jesus Christ for Salvation

This is a very solemn subject. Maybe after reading this there has been a severe fear growing in your spirit. You may now be wondering something like this: "Oh my God, how can I know if I am eternally known as a vessel of mercy or a vessel of wrath?" Dear friend this is a question worth more than all the goods on this earth. In actuality, eternity will hinge upon how you personally answer that question. 

The only way to know if you are of God's eternally known children, an elect predestined child of God, is by making your calling and election sure. 2nd Peter said it this way, "be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall" (1:10 ESV). How can you know if you are one of the elect, one of the vessels of mercy? 

Repent and Receive Christ Today by Faith 
First, repent of your sins and turn to Jesus Christ in belief and faith. Trust in him and him alone for the salvation of your soul. The Bible tells us that "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whoever is believing in him right now will not perish but will have everlasting life" (John 3:16 my translation of the Greek text).

Evaluate Your Growth in Grace: Are You Seeking to Live a Pure Life? 
Second, check up on your life. Are you growing in the faith. Is there any known sin that you are continually living in? The Bible says, "No one who is born of God will continue to practice sin" (1st John 3:9). If there is continual sin, sin that you do not desire to repent of and seek to turn from, then it means you are not regenerate. It may then mean you are not of the elect. Vessels of wrath continually live in sin with no repentance. Vessels of mercy when regenerated will repent of known sin under the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. They grow in the qualities as given by 2nd Peter 1 verses 5-7. 

Flee from sin today and turn to the Savior so that you can have the assurance from the Holy Spirit that you are one of the eternally foreknown elected children of God (Rom. 8:16). Do not waste any time, turn to the Savior right now and believe upon Christ for the remission of your sins. Then confess your belief to others (Rom. 10:9-10).

Last edited by Gord; 07-05-2009 at 01:26 PM.
 

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