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Response to Romans 9 and Predestination
Original Paper: Romans
9:9-24 is one of the most intriguing and thought provoking passages in the
Bible. Yet, it is often not given the serious consideration that it needs when
dealing with the issue of God’s sovereignty and our salvation. This short but
powerful section asks some pointed and powerful questions often raised in the
argument against predestination. . . and then answers them. In addition, there
is a simple theological test that you can take. The test is not by my devising;
rather, it is imbedded in the passage and is authored by God. Let’s begin.
(Note: all scripture quotations are from the NASB.)
His comment: We must make sure we do not make the following mistakes: Assume that God elected Jacob for eternal life and Esau for eternal damnation. That is not what the text says. It says that the older (Esau) will serve the younger (Jacob). The contention was over Esau's birthright, which came to belong to Jacob instead, by God's election.
My response: Originally, this person had written to me that I
had stated that God had elected one for damnation and the other for
salvation. I corrected him saying that I made no claim here but had simply
established the right of God’s sovereignty. The paragraph above is his
That is not the case, either. The individual Esau never served his younger
brother Jacob. To the contrary, Esau became so powerful that Jacob, out of fear,
had to send people to appease when he encountered him: Gen 32:6,
"When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, "We went to your
brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with
him." 7In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who
were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8He
thought, "If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may
escape." 9Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my father Abraham,
God of my father Isaac, O Lord , who said to me, 'Go back to your country and
your relatives, and I will make you prosper,' 10I am unworthy of all
the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff
when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. 11Save
me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and
attack me, and also the mothers with their children.” The scripture Paul
is quoting "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated" is taken from Mal. 1:2, "I have loved you," says the Lord. "But you ask, 'How have
you loved us?' "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the Lord says. "Yet I have loved
Jacob, 3but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland
and left his inheritance to the desert jackals." 4Edom may say, "Though we have
been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins."
All this critic has done is establish that God is sovereign and that He does with His creation as He wills. This is precisely the point that Paul is making. It is God who causes one to serve the other and it isn’t based on anything in the person/people. Rather, it has everything to do with God.
Another proposed error the critic wants to point out is not to
”Assume that because Paul uses an Old Testament case of election of
individuals to become two peoples, one favored of God, one not favored by God,
therefore there is an exact correlation between this and New Testament election.
That is, to assume that since Esau and Jacob are individuals, and Paul talks
about them in terms of election, therefore New Testament election is about
individuals as well. That is not how the new testament writers use the old
testament, however: Hebrews 10:1 ”The law is only a shadow of the good
things that are coming--not the realities themselves.”
The issue is the fact that God is sovereign and that He elects people, nations, and events to do and bring about what He wants. The whole point I have tried to make is that God can and does do what He wants with His creation and this includes individuals. He raised up Jacob and Esau according to His own plan and will, and it had nothing to do with their deeds. This demonstrates that God is absolutely sovereign. The question is whether or not it carries over to God ordaining people to salvation and letting the others go their natural way, to hell. But first, Paul is establishing that God is absolutely sovereign by using Old Testament examples. But this critic is trying to distance God's sovereignty over creation and nations from individuals. He wants it to be okay for God to ordain and direct history and people groups, but not individuals. Why? Probably because he wants God to be the way he thinks God out to be.
Original Paper: Paul anticipates the reader’s concerns in the next verse and asks the question, "What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!" Paul asks this because of what he has just written down in the previous verses. His question is logical only if you understand what he is saying. We need to ask it, too. "Is God unjust in loving one and hating another?" The obvious answer is "No!"
terms of eternal salvation, which is what really matters, he would be, according
to his own word, which states that his wisdom is impartial, and that he does not
Again, the issue thus established is the right
of God's sovereignty over His creation. This includes individuals and will
become more evident as Paul brings out more arguments later in the chapter here
The issue is God’s sovereignty in election. He can elect who He wants for
whatever reason and purpose He wants. The Greek word for "elect"
is ”eclectos.” It occurs more than 20 times in the New Testament and is
translated as ”elect”, ”chosen,” etc. According to the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon,
it means “picked out, chosen, chosen by God, to obtain salvation through
Christ.” Another Dictionary says it means “picked out, chosen,” and is
used of Christ (Luke 23:35), angels (1 Timothy 5:21), Christians (Matthew
24:22), the elect whom God chose (Mark 13:20); the elect who are gathered
(Mark 13:27), etc. (Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old
and New Testament Words, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell,
1981.) Clearly then, we have established that election is something
God does out of His sovereignty and is not based upon something that man
does or is. But, lest we conclude that God does not elect individuals,
let's take a look at a couple verses.
"ekloge occurs seven times in the New Testament. Once it signifies an election to the apostolic office.—Acts 9:15. Once it signifies those chosen to eternal life.—Rom. 11:7. In every other case it signifies the purpose or the act of God in choosing his own people to salvation.—Rom. 9:11; 11:5,28; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:10." (Hodge, A. A., Outlines of Theology; Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 1999.)
Original Paper: Then Paul goes on to answer the question in verse 15. "For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’" Notice that Paul does not answer with a feeling. He answers with scripture. Are we understanding what Paul is saying here? Is he saying that God is merciful and compassionate to whom He wishes? It would seem so. Remember verse 11? "...in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls . . . " It is God who calls according to His purpose. Also, consider Ephesians 1:5, "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will."
The real question here is who does he harden and who does he have mercy upon? Using your assumption that Jacob and Esau correlate to two different groups of individuals in terms of new testament election, you assume further that the "elect" individuals are those whom God has mercy upon, and the "nonelect" individuals are those whom God hardens. That is of course an unfounded assumption. The Bible does however answer the "who" question for us. Not only that, it answers it by stating the answer as the conclusion to the entire discourse which Romans chapter 9 is a part of, Romans chapters 1-11: Romans 11:32 ”For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” In other words, all men are hardened, bound over to disobedience. And the very same all men are those he has mercy on. I should add that the conclusion to the discourse does of course have more weight than anything within the discourse itself. Therefore it is only reasonable to force an interpretation of Romans chapter 9 to fit with the clear statement of its conclusion in chapter 11. In other words, we have already established beyond a doubt that New Testament election is not about individuals. This is impossible, since those hardened are the exact same people who are also shed mercy upon.
critic makes too many assumptions. First of all, I do not assume that God
hardens all the non-elect. God does not have to harden anyone in order for them
to be damned. They are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) with hearts full
of sin (Mark 7:21-23). The text simply says that God has mercy on whom He wants
and He hardens whom he wants (Rom.9:15-16). Then in verse 17 it Paul says, ”For
the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to
demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the
whole earth.” Clearly, God’s sovereignty is being established clearly.
Paper: You see, God’s choice of predestination, mercy, and compassion are "according
to the kind intention of His will," "because of Him who calls."
I agree completely. New Testament election if [sic] not about electing individuals through foreknowledge of what they will eventually end up doing in terms of faith or unbelief. That idea has already been destroyed above, since that would also makes [sic] new testament election revolve around the individual.
This critic begs the question; he assumes the thing he
is trying to prove and erringly believes that God does not elect
individuals. We have seen above from at least two scriptures that God
elects individuals: Romans 16:13 says,
“Greet Rufus, a choice [eklectos] man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.”
The word “choice” is “eklektos” which means “picked out, chosen by
God,” etc. Also, 1 John 2:1,13 says, “The elder to the
chosen [eklectos] lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I,
but also all who know the truth… The children of your chosen [eklectos]
sister greet you.” Let's not forget that Pharaoh was picked out by
God, too. Here we see proof of God electing individuals.
Original Paper: Paul then quotes Exodus 9:16 about the Lord raising up Pharaoh for the very purpose of having God’s "name proclaimed throughout the whole earth." Then Paul says in verse 18, "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires." We are forced to a conclusion about God’s mercy. Is God sovereign to whom He shows His mercy, or is it based upon something in man? This raises an important issue about the greatness of God and the sinfulness of man. Are we capable of meriting mercy? Are we able to see that we need God? Are we somehow free enough to be able to want God? Or does our sinful nature make that impossible? We must ask and answer the question, "Is God, the "only sovereign" (1 Tim. 6:15) the One who chooses how and upon whom His mercy is bestowed? And, we must ask, is the sinner truly able to decide for God on his own even though the Bible seems to lock him up under the bondage of sin and rebellion?
Again, you are assuming that there is a direct correlation between God's hardening Pharaoh as an individual and New Testament election, meaning that you see that as a sign that God hardens specific individuals and has mercy upon other specific individuals.
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying and that is
exactly what the text says, too. Romans 9:18 says, "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He
hardens whom He desires." As I said before, the ”whom” of the verse
is in the singular, not in the plural. In Greek we can have a plural
construction of this word and it would be used if the intent was to convey that
groups were elected. However, the plural usage is not there. This clearly
demonstrate that the flow of the text is dealing with individuals.
That is not the testimony of the Bible. The conclusion of Romans 1-11 is that God has bound all men over to disobedience. How does God do that? The same way he did it with Pharaoh. He issues law, and the law hardens the human being in that it determines that he is incapable and unwilling to keep it: Romans 3:19, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."
This critic again assumes too much and makes
unsubstantiated claims. He says that individual election is not the testimony of
the Bible. If it isn’t, then what about Joseph, Abraham, Moses, David, etc.,
all individuals who were elected by God and ordained specifically for certain
tasks? And look at Paul the apostle, He was elected by Christ not only to
serve as a Christian but also to be saved since it was not in the heart
of Paul to come to Christ. But it was in the heart of God to harden whom
He wills and show mercy to whom He wills, just as He showed mercy to the
individual who became the Apostle Paul.
Since every man has been bound over to disobedience by the law, which makes every man stand guilty of breaking it, God has issued a new path to salvation, a new means to having mercy upon mankind: Romans 3:21, ”But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [emphasis original]
This is another error made by the critic of God’s sovereignty over individuals. In the verse sentence above he says that ”God has issued a new path to salvation.” There is no new path of salvation. It has always been that salvation is by the shed blood of Christ received by faith. We see the shedding of blood in the garden of Eden prophetically exemplifying the sacrifice of Christ. We see Abraham justified by faith before the Law was given (Rom. 4:1-10). Lev. 17:11 states that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The ”path” to salvation has always been by faith, not by works. The Law was a task master to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24), because we cannot keep the Law. The Law was given to show us our helpless ness, to demonstrate God's holiness, to provide a legal means of atonement, and to be a guide to the Christian once saved. If this person cannot understand that salvation has always been by faith, he needs to go back to the Bible and do some more studying. It is these subtle errors that add up to bring this critic to his erring conclusion.
Notice that verses 23 and 24 echo Romans 11:32. The same all who have sinned, are the same all who are justified. Why ? Because the verbs sinned and justified share the same subject. "All have sinned...and are justified". The groups are inseparable, they are the one and the same group. [Emphasis mine]
It seems now that this person is teaching universalism, the error that all people will be saved. Justification occurs only to the believer and not all are saved. Such basic errors woven into the argument of this critic certainly weakens his overall position. He is not rightly dividing God’s word here.
Original Paper: Again Paul anticipates the possible objections to his teaching about God’s sovereign mercy and grace. He says in verse 19, "You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault, for who resists His will?’" In other words, if God is merciful to whom He wishes, He hardens whom He desires, and it does not depend on anything in man, then how can He judge anyone? How can we still be held responsible for our sins? Paul’s answer to this question is an appeal to the direct sovereignty of God. He says in verses 20 - 21, "On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?
The reason why man has no reason to talk back to God, is that God has both hardened him - bound him over to disobedience - and issued a means to having mercy upon him, at the same time. By the gospel, the same man who was hardened by law, may also attain mercy.
apparent that this critic has missed the whole meaning of the text. Romans 9:19
is asking a question in reference to the previous verses about God’s absolute
sovereignty over individuals (Pharaoh thus named). The natural question
to ask is about the fairness of God doing this and that is exactly what Paul
addresses in verse 19 when He says, ”Why does He still find fault, for who
resists His will?” What ”will” is the question referring to? It is the
will of God to harden the heart of Pharaoh (an individual). This is the fact
found in scripture and understanding that fact is what logically brings the
question of ”Why does He still find fault...?” Note Paul’s answer, "On
the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will
not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” Note
that the word "man" is singular in the Greek, as is the word ”thing”,
and the word ”me” and ”it” are all singular. This is not a reference to
a generic group of people who are predestined to be saved, elected to be saved,
or hardened or softened. It is in reference to individuals. This is what the
text actually does say.
Original Paper: 21"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?" God has the right to do as He wishes with His creation. God is sovereign. Paul is saying here that God makes one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use. He is differentiating between the vessels and their use...all based on God’s sovereign right to do as He wishes. Also, notice here that the singular "one vessel" is used.
The real question here is precisely what is "a vessel for honorable use" and precisely what is "a vessel for common use". We will determine that below.
Original Paper: Paul doesn’t stop there. He makes sure that we understand what
he is saying. So he continues in verse 22, "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? 23And He did so
in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy,
which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24even us, whom He also
called, not from among Jews only, but also from among the Gentiles."
Does God prepare vessels for destruction? Would God actually do such a
thing? The answer is, "Yes." Isn’t this what sovereignty is and
isn't that what the text says, like it or not?
This is where I am going to prove what New Testament election is about. Romans 9:22 states, ”What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction?” Now, where can I find the key to unlocking the true meaning of "an object of wrath"? It isn't found in the passage itself. Romans 11:32 gives us an idea, but Paul himself answers that precise question here: Ephesians 2:1, ”As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." This shatters the Calvinistic idea that objects of wrath refers to one group of individuals, and objects of glory refers to another group of individuals.
First of all, notice that this person jumps to some
other place in scripture to get the meaning of Romans 9:22-23 to change. He
tries but fails for what he cites does not support his presupposition. He denies
that individuals are being spoken of here but it is clear from the context that
being spoken of since Pharaoh, and individual was named, as was the ”thing”
molded (singular), why did you make me (singular) like this,
Obviously, individuals are elected by God.
The reason why is that we, the Christians, the elect, used to be objects of wrath. And we are no more. We changed. Therefore New Testament election is not about individuals, because the individual is capable of being applied a change to. This change is called being born again.
I think at this point it is rather obvious that the critic is quite wrong. Furthermore, we didn’t change. We were changed; God changed us. It wasn’t our doing. It was God’s doing. We are the ones who receive newness of life. We don’t go get it ourselves. We were made new creatures by God (2 Cor. 5:17-18), not by our choice or works or maintenance thorugh our own will. This is a subtle but important point because it reveals that this critic has a man-centered theology that has slipped out.
death to life
Yes, because of God’s election of me as an individual, I am saved. To God be the glory. He didn't elect a group called the Gentiles and hope I'd choose Him and wait to see what would happen. On the contrary. God is sovereignly in control.
New Testament election is about classes of being. Represented by Esau and Jacob. By Isaac and Ishmael. Those born according to promise vs those born according to the flesh. It is the same way today.
I have already demonstrated that individuals are spoken of in Romans 9, Acts 9:15 (Paul), Romans 16:13 (Rufus), and 2 John 2:1,13 (chosen lady), thereby proving that election is also of individuals.
Those born according to the flesh, are prepared for destruction. Either in the lake of fire, or more preferably, at the cross. In the latter case, the object of wrath is replaced by an object of glory, which was prepared in the resurrection of Christ: John 12:23, ”Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." 24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” That kernel of wheat is Jesus himself, God's Elect, God's Chosen One, God's Anointed.
This critic has demonstrated to the reader that Jesus, an individual was elected to do what He did.
In his resurrection, more seeds than that one seed were prepared, new creatures in Christ were prepared, new identities that human beings could obtain by undergoing a new birth where the object of wrath was destroyed and replaced by the new creature in Christ, a new seed which will eventually take over the human being completely. 2 Cor 5:17, ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The object of wrath is gone, the old sinner has been done away with as Romans 6:6-7 declares, and it has been replaced by an object of glory. And the call to become such objects of glory, is out: Romans 9:24, ”even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," 26and, "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" The same theme is brought up in verses 25-26. Paul uses the Gentiles as an example of people who will go from objects of wrath - not counted neither as his loved ones nor as his people - to objects of glory, sons of the living God. And that is why Romans 9, when understood properly, is a gospel message: God hardened us as the objects of wrath that we were, but he did this so that he could have mercy upon us by making us into objects of his glory instead, by the new birth. (emphasis original)
He says that Romans 9 is a gospel message. It is an interesting proposition to state this, but I just don’t see it. The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for our sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4). This is not mentioned at all in Romans 9:9-23. But what is mentioned is Jacob and Esau related to God’s sovereignty as is Pharaoh (the individual God hardened), as well as the mention of individuals in the text: "me," "thing," "vessel." The issue is God’s sovereignty in doing with His creation and with individuals as He wills. To say that Romans 9, ”when understood properly” is a gospel message seems a bit stretched...all this to try and try to steer Romans 9 away from the issue of God dealing sovereignly, via election with individuals.
Original Paper: A Test: As I said before, there is a test in this passage. If you did not ask the same basic questions that Paul did throughout this passage, then that means that you did not understand what he was saying. But, if you did ask the same basic questions that he did, then that means you did understand what he was saying. Let me ask you, did you understand what Paul was saying? If so, do you believe it? If not, why not?
I will ask those basic questions, and I will supply reasonable answers to those questions, something I have not seen in your discourse anywhere.
This is an unfortunate comment by this person who has demonstrated several exegetical errors. It seems that my unreasonableness is unreasonable to him because it disagrees with what he thinks the text ought to mean.
Romans 9:14, What then shall we say? Is God unjust? The answer to that question is, No. And the reason why he isn't being unjust, is that his purpose in electing the sinner for destruction, is so that he can destroy him and then replace him with a new creature, molded in the image of Christ. Since this is available to all men, therefore God is not unjust in preparing the sinner for destruction.
First of all,
Romans 9:14 says (with verses 12 and 13 included for context), ”it was said
to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13Just as it is
written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14What shall we say
then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!”
Romans 9:19, ”One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" God could have let be hardening us by the demands of the law, whether in written form or as written in the conscience. Instead, he did it to silence every mouth so that everyone would stand accountable to him. For specific transgressions against his law. Instead of making it possible to please him, he simply demonstrated that everyone was hopeless, and destined them all for destruction. Where then is the blame ? The blame is in that men do not believe: John 3:18, ”Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” An object of wrath, hardened into its sinful shape by God's law, can not change itself. That is why Paul asks how God can blame us. But God has made it possible for the object of wrath to be destroyed then replaced by an object of glory, if only the human being involved will believe. That is why he still blames us - for not believing. Because that is possible for us to do.”
The confusing sentence after the scripture quote above
is in the original, so it is difficult to understand exactly what he is saying.
Nevertheless, I know of no place in scripture where it says that the
Law hardens a person’s heart. I have demonstrated that God does this, but where
is the scripture that says the Law can do it to? I did a search on my computer
Bible program in the NASB for any verses that contained both words ”Law” and ”harden(ed)(s)”
and found nothing. I expanded it to include any verses where the word ”law” was
within 3 verses of ”harden(ed)(s)” and still found nothing. I will conclude such
a relationship does not exist and that this person’s theory is unfounded.
Furthermore, as stated above, how can a concept ”law” perform the action of
hardening a heart. You either harden your own heart of God does it.
Original Paper: Objections: This passage is not speaking of individuals but a class of people. This cannot be true because specific people are mentioned: Jacob, Esau, and Pharaoh.
This has already been addressed, but I may recount: Jacob, Esau and Pharaoh are Old Testament shadows of the New Testament reality to come, in terms of election. They are not the realties themselves. Therefore there is no reason to expect that because Jacob, Esau and Pharaoh are distinct individuals, therefore New Testament election works the same way. Indeed, we have already seen from the letter of the Romans itself and Ephesians chapter 2, that that is not the case.
I have already addressed this above and will simply repeat it here in brief.
Original Paper: Also, vessels are people. The word ‘vessel’ in Greek is “skeuos.” It is used in different senses and means utensils and containers of ordinary household use. But when it is used of people it means individuals. Acts 9:15, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument (skeuos) of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.” 1 Thess. 4:4, “that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor." This usage means either ‘own body’ or possibly ‘wife.’ Again, it is speaking of individuals.
Okay, a vessel is a person. The whole purpose of the
gospel is however to create a new person in the wake of the old one, which is
destroyed in the process. This starts with being born again, and continues with
a process called sanctification, and is completed by being given an entirely new
body. In the end, nothing is left of the initial person, and the new person is
all there is.
I am glad to see this person
finally admit that the term "vessel" used here in
Romans is referring to individuals. In that case, this person's
premise that the text is not speaking of individuals but groups of people is
proven wrong by his own words.
Original Paper: 2 Tim. 2:21, “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." You can see here too, that the usage is of an individual. Not a class of people.
This particular verse works against you. I'll quote it in full: 2 Tim 2:20, ”In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” The idea Paul is trying to promote is that by a process of sanctification, the remant [sic] of the object of wrath (or article for ignoble use) is cleansed out of a person, and the person then becomes more fully the object of glory (instrument for noble purposes) he was born again to be. The main theme here is that the man in question becomes something he isn't to being with [sic], an instrument for noble purposes. His status changes.
Apparently, this person has a very faulty understanding of what it
means to be justified by faith. We are not changed from objects of wrath to
objects of mercy because of our self-cleansing. Instead, this
self-cleansing, this sanctification is a process that
God puts the believer through in order to make the believer more like Christ.
Justification, on the other hand, is the legal declaration by God upon the
sinner where the sinner is declared righteous in God's eyes. Simultaneous with
this justification is regeneration and eternal life. That is, when we are made right before God
we are regenerated. Upon our justification, we are
Original Paper: 1 Pet. 3:7, “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman...” Even though husbands is plural, vessel is singular. God’s election is not for a class or type of people, but of individuals. That is why Jesus said in John 6:39, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” Jesus was not given a class or group of people but the elect, the ones chosen, the individuals. If you think about it, it couldn’t be any other way. After all, is God only guessing at who will be saved and, therefore, prophesied a ‘group’ of people? Not at all. He is omniscient. He knows exactly who are His.
John 6:39 addresses what will happen to believers who die. They will be raised on the last day, with certainty. Regarding who it is that God has given Jesus, the answer to that is not so apparent in the verse itself. It could be that God gives to Jesus those who respond to the call of the Spirit. For instance.
There are several things worth mentioning here. First, I would like to clarify that God does indeed elect groups of people. He did this with national Israel. Second, God does elect individuals as I have proven above. Third, we are simply covering old ground at this point.
This doctrine of sovereign predestination makes God
God has stated in his own word the following: James 3:17, ”But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (Emphasis original). Electing one person over an other without due cause, is a case of partiality, per definition. Partiality towards the person elected. In particular since the election we are talking about is supposed to determine each individual's eternal destiny, and not just a temporary arrangement as was the case with Esau's birthright.
We are not privileged to know the criteria by which God
makes his election. It is something that resides in God's will and not ours as
is stated in Eph. 1:5, ”He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus
Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” So, for
this person to state that the Reformed position that God is electing one person over an other without due
cause is a moot question since God is the ones who performs the electing and the
Bible tells us that God does it according to his will. God knows what and
why He does what He does. We are not privileged to know the mind of God.
Electing the new man formed in the image of Christ over the sinner born according to the flesh, is however a matter of electing holiness over sin, which means that God remains impartial towards the individual, but rather partial towards holiness. Which is a legitimate form of justice.
God does not elect us because
we are formed new in the image of
Christ. Rather we are formed new in the image of Christ because God elects
us. Again, God does not make His choice based upon what we do -- as is
stated in Romans 9:11.
Acts 10:34, "Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." (emphasis original)
Of course, what Peter is referring to a simply that God is not showing favoritism only to the Jews, but is being merciful to the gentiles also by including them in His plan of salvation.
Peter states this as a reaction to the salvation of the first Gentiles. Electing one person over another without due cause, is a case of favoritism, per definition. That is precisely why that doctrine is not the truth, rather it is a misrepresentation of scripture.
It seems this critic wants to imply that "due cause" would mean that God chose someone because they first chose Him, or because there was some good quality in him. But, I have already addressed this error above. True impartiality means that God does not base His choice upon some choice or condition or quality in man. Rather it is based, as Eph. 1:5 says, upon the kind intention of God's will.
Electing the new man formed in the image of Christ over the sinner born according to the flesh, is not a matter of favoritism, for the simple reason that the call is out to mankind in general, and anyone may respond to it and be born again, and thereby counted as one of the elect.
Of course, he begs the question by assuming the thing he has been trying to prove. He simply assumes that a person is able to respond out of the goodness of his own heart contrary to put the Bible says when it describes the natural man has dead in his sins, full of evil, a nature of God, who cannot understand spiritual things, and two does not seek for God. This person is hopeful that the Scriptures will conform to his preferences, but it does not.
James 2:9, ”But if you show favoritism, you sin and
are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” Scripture even goes as far as
defining favoritism as a sin. The reason why, as is also outlined in the Old
Testament, is that it perverts justice. More specifically, it violates the most
basic principle of justice, that of equal justice for all.
This debate could go on forever. But I will close with the words of scripture regarding the "whosoever." Acts 13:48, ”And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” And, Phil. 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Whosoever believes are the ones who have been appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48) and have been granted the act of believing (Phil. 1:29). Both the appointing and the granting of believers are accomplished by God. Therefore, who so ever will believe is who so ever are appointed to by God to have eternal life and are granted by God to believe....just as Paul was appointed by God to have eternal life and was granted to believe because he was a chosen instrument of the Lord (Acts 9:15).
In conclusion, I would like to say that truth is sometimes difficult for us to handle, especially when it goes against our feelings. Whether or not you agree with my analysis of God's sovereignty over individuals or not, you should study the word and become convinced according to your own understanding. There is room in the body of Christ to disagree. But, this disagreement would be done in love, without pointing fingers accusing one another of heresy. Try and be fair to God's word and submit your hearts, your mind, and your feelings to it and not it to them.
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Copyright by Matthew J. Slick, B.A., M. Div., 1998-2006