Romans 9 and the Calvinist Doctrine of Reprobation

“I sought out the permission from the Journal of Baptist Theology & Ministry to reproduce this article because I believe it is one of the best and most concise refutations of the Calvinistic reading of Romans 9-11. Please read this with the objectivity to learn from brother Eric’s wise words.”    -Leighton

Below the article is a link a discussion with Dr. Hankins about this article.


Romans 9 and the Calvinist Doctrine of Reprobation

by Eric Hankins, PhD

Eric Hankins is pastor of First Baptist Fairhope in Fairhope, Alabama.ehankins@fbcfairhope.org

Calvinist theologian Wayne Grudem defines reprobation as “the sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, in sorrow deciding not to save them, and to punish them for their sins, and thereby to manifest his justice.”[1] The doctrine of reprobation, which is essential to Calvinism as the necessary corollary to the doctrine of unconditional election,[2] asserts that there is a certain group of persons who have never been and will never be the objects of God’s redeeming love regardless of whether or not they hear the gospel. God has determined not to give this certain group of individuals the grace and faith necessary for salvation. He does not base this determination to withhold grace and faith on anything having to do with the reprobate persons themselves. He withholds grace and faith from them simply because it brings him the most glory. The jolting but unavoidable reality is that Calvinism teaches that the one and only reason that the lost are not saved is that “God does not want them saved.”[3] Indeed, Grudem’s definition is quite clear on this point: reprobation is God’s “sovereign decision . . . before creation . . . not to save them.”[4] Critically engaging this particular doctrine of Calvinism is important because reprobation lies at the very core of Calvinist soteriology and because it suffers from acute exegetical, philosophical, and theological problems. If the dubious doctrine of reprobation falls, Calvinism will need a significant revision.

In calling reprobation into question, I will focus on the very particular task of demonstrating that Romans 9 does not demand such a doctrine. This may seem rather inconsequential at first glance, but it is actually quite significant because of the role Romans 9 plays in Calvinist constructions of the doctrine. Calvinists themselves acknowledge that reprobation is enormously problematic and that the problem is compounded by a lack of biblical support.[5] Grudem notes, “ . . . the doctrine of reprobation is the most difficult of all the teachings of Scripture for us to think about and accept because it deals with such horrible and eternal consequences for human beings made in the image of God.”[6] The repugnance of reprobation is why Calvinists like Grudem come up with philosophically incoherent fixes like “single predestination,” God’s “asymmetrical relationship” to election and reprobation, God’s “two wills,” “two loves,” and so on.[7] Grudem concedes that it seems disingenuous to speak of God’s sorrow over the reprobate if he decrees it. His answer is that “God can decree something that causes him sorrow yet ultimately will bring him glory.”[8] But God’s decreeing something sorrowful is not the problem with reprobation. It is God’s decreeing something evil. Jerry Walls’s observation at this point is apt:

[T]heological compatibilists [like Grudem] often make claims and engage in rhetoric that naturally lead people to conclude that God loves them and desires their salvation in ways that are surely misleading to all but those trained in the subtleties of Reformed rhetoric. . . . Such language loses all meaning, not to mention all rhetorical force, when we remember that on compatibilist premises God could determine the impenitent to freely repent, but has chosen instead to determine things in such a way that they freely persist in their sins.[9]

God’s refusal to determine the repentance of sinners when it is within his power to do so can be called nothing other than immoral. Damning certain people by withholding something freely given to others is not glorious. It is indeed a horrible decree.[10]

Therefore, if there are no biblically explicit reasons to affirm reprobation, it should be gladly and quickly rejected. The burden is on Calvinist theologians to assemble significant and unassailable biblical support for reprobation because it runs against the grain of what the Bible clearly teaches about God’s character and purposes,[11] and because it is philosophically impossible both to affirm reprobation and deny that God causes evil.[12] Calvinists must do more than point to biblical texts like Romans 9 that might suggest reprobation; they need unimpeachable proof of it. Therefore, it is not necessary to demonstrate that Romans 9 cannot affirm reprobation. All that is required is to demonstrate that Romans 9 can be understood legitimately another way.

Moreover, demonstrating that Romans 9 does not demand reprobation is significant because the main reason Calvinists give for affirming reprobation is that Scripture does demand it, that there is no other way to read such texts. Grudem says of reprobation, “It is something that we would not want to believe, and would not believe, unless Scripture taught it . . . . Moreover, if we are convinced that these verses [Rom 9:17–22, specifically] teach reprobation, then we are obligated both to believe it and accept it as fair and just of God, even though it causes us to tremble in horror as we think of it.”[13] But what if one is not convinced on exegetical grounds that these verses teach reprobation? Romans 9 most certainly can be read faithfully and seriously in a completely different way—indeed, in a manner much more faithful to Paul’s intentions and to the plain sense of the text and context. Strong cases can be made that other Calvinist proof-texts for reprobation can be understood differently as well. Grudem relies heavily on Romans 9 (and Romans 11), but mentions Jude 4 and 1 Peter 2:8 as well, both verses highlighting the fact that the unfaithful were destined for condemnation long ago.[14] However, there is every reason to understand these verses as simply pointing out the fact that God has always planned to condemn those who oppose the gospel. Again, if reprobation readings are not demanded by the texts, and reprobation is, frankly, a theological and philosophical cul-de-sac, then it should be abandoned.

So, to restate the purpose of this essay: the problematic doctrine of reprobation is not a necessary theological implication of Romans 9. If Romans 9 disappears as an iron-clad justification for reprobation, then the doctrine and Calvinism with it are in serious trouble.

Romans 9 and the Centrality of Jewish Unbelief

The essential exegetical warrant for the claim that Rom 9 does not support the doctrine of reprobation is this: Romans 9–11 is focused on the salvation-historical role of unbelieving Jews in the present, not the ontological status of all unbelieving people for all time. While Jewish rejection of the gospel certainly has implications for everyone else (i.e. Rom 9:22–26 and 11:17–25), Paul’s fundamental argument in Romans 9–11 addresses the problem that Jewish unbelief is creating for the credibility of the gospel he is preaching and the manner in which he goes about preaching it. What Paul says of these unbelieving Jews cannot simply be transferred to all unbelievers. In fact, the point that Paul is driving home in Romans 9–11 is that God does not treat Jews the same way that he treats the rest of humanity. The things Paul says in Romans 9–11 concerning the unchosen, hated, not recipients of mercy, hardened, vessels of wrath, not saved, like Sodom and Gomorrah, pursuing salvation by works, unbelieving, stumbling, zealous without knowledge, disobedient, obstinate, failing to obtain what they are seeking, in a stupor, blind, bent, trespassing, broken off, not spared, enemies of the gospel are things he is saying about unbelieving Jews, not everybody else. If Calvinists want to try to infer that these adjectives apply eternally to all those individuals who will never believe in Jesus because God has foreordained it, that is certainly their prerogative, but it is not a demand of the text and such a theological assertion fits very poorly within the context of Romans and with the rest of the biblical witness.

This exegetical approach to Romans 9 begins with the conclusions of John Taylor, who writes:

Christian scholarship has focused on Romans 9 as source material for the free will/determinism debate, going back at least as far as Origen’s dispute with the Gnostics. With Augustine the ground of the debate moved, and after him a determinist reading of Romans 9 became dominant, continuing in Protestant churches through the writings of Luther and Calvin. Both this reading, with its emphasis on individual election as the thrust of the chapter, and the opposing reading, with its emphasis on free will and corporate election, stem largely from an atomistic and philosophical approach to the passage which has paid too little attention to the relevance of Rom 9–11 to the Roman believers to whom Paul writes, and to the flow of the argument in Romans. This is not to suggest that the concerns of the tradition are illegitimate, or that such questions should not be asked of the text. But it is necessary to question whether Romans 9 can bear the weight of the theology which has been thrust upon it, and to investigate what theological emphases would emerge from a more contextual and unified reading.

Based on an approach to Romans which sees the interpretation of the phenomenon of Jewish unbelief in Jesus by comparison to the growth of the church among the Gentiles as the key factorbehind the writing of the letter (italics mine), an initial investigation leads to a number of conclusions.[15]

Taylor’s conclusions are: (1) unbelieving Jews are the focus of Romans 9; (2) the fate of these Jews is salvation by faith, a fact that restores credibility to Paul’s claim that his gospel is powerful enough to save both Gentiles and Jews; (3) God is free to save these Jews by faith, and, therefore, is not unjust to reject them if their hope remains in “works of the Law;” and (4) the Jewish hope for salvation is based completely on God’s mercy. The significance of these conclusions for this discussion of reprobation is that Rom 9 is not dealing with philosophical issues related to the metaphysics of divine action and human freedom.[16] Rather, it is the first part of Paul’s answer to the central problem driving the entire letter: the problem that Jewish unbelief is creating for the credibility of his gospel and his missiology.[17]

The centrality of the problem of Jewish unbelief in Paul’s letter is implicit in his proposition in Rom 1:16–17: the gospel is the power to save Jews and Gentiles in fulfillment of God’s covenant faithfulness, yet there is a potential for shame. The problem is explicitly set forth in Rom 3:5, Is God unrighteous in inflicting wrath upon Jews rather than saving them? The problem is fully addressed in the letter’s climax, Romans 9–11: Jews are rejecting the gospel and are, therefore, rejected by God. If God’s righteousness is revealed in the power of the gospel to save Jews and Gentiles, then what of his righteousness if Jews are rejected?[18] The whole promise of God in Messiah Jesus through his chosen people was to create a worldwide Jew and Gentile family, through whom he would rescue all of creation. On one hand, these promises are being fulfilled amazingly: Gentiles are coming to faith in droves. What is happening in the church in Rome is known all over the world (1:8). On the other hand, surprisingly, mysteriously, grievously, the Jews, by and large, are refusing to come. And this raises the question of God’s righteousness. Has he been unable to keep his promises stretching all the way back to Abraham?[19]

Let’s trace this concept quickly through the letter: The power of the gospel is on display in the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles (1:16–17). God has the right to judge and save both Jewish and Gentile sinners by his standards, and his standard is faith in the gospel (2:12–16). Gentiles who think their efforts will save them are in trouble (2:1–5). Gentiles who have something happen to their hearts will be viewed as righteous (2:14–16). Jews who think their efforts will save them are in trouble (2:17–24). Jews who have something happen to their hearts will be viewed as righteous (2:28–29). It is in the discussion of true Jewishness that Paul raises the issue of fairness, an issue he does not raise in the discussion of Gentiles. Is it fair for God to condemn Jews because of their failure to keep the Law God gave them. Is it fair of God to use their failure to point others to the way of faith (3:5–8)?[20] Paul’s answer, at this point in the letter, to the question of God’s righteousness with respect to Jewish unbelief is simply to affirm it because he is the judge of the world. Then he quickly returns to the central point of Romans 1–3: everyone is under the judgment of sin, therefore the promise to Abraham is unfulfilled. The Law has not solved the problem (3:9–20). So, apart from the Law, God has revealed his righteous commitment to keep his promise to Abraham: the salvation of a Jew and Gentile family through faith in Jesus (3:21–31). This is Abraham’s faith and true members of Abraham’s family share this faith (Rom 4). They are beloved children who now share in the whole story of Israel’s redemption: rescued from Adam’s death-dealing rebellion by the Second Adam (Rom 5), brought out from slavery to sin through the death of Christ (Rom 6), having the Law fulfilled in them through Christ (Rom 7), and brought fully through suffering to the end of the story by the Spirit (Rom 8).[21]

But the problem of God’s righteousness in the face of Jewish unbelief left hanging in Rom 3:5–8 is made all the more acute by what has happened from 3:9 to the end of Romans 8. If God has accomplished his great work in Christ of adopting many sons through whom he will rescue all of creation, what has gone wrong with the Jews? They aren’t coming. Isn’t this an embarrassment? Isn’t this a failure on God’s part? Isn’t this unjust treatment of his covenant people, which calls God’s righteousness into question? Or is this simply evidence that God has given up on them in favor of the Gentiles? Should the church in Rome even bother with Jews anymore? Should Paul continue to go to the synagogue first as he takes his gospel west toward Spain? And so, in Romans 9–11, Paul takes up the task of explaining how Jewish rejection of the gospel is not a source of shame for him or a cause to question God’s righteousness. The essence of Paul’s defense of the gospel in the face of Jewish rejection is this:

God actually purposed Jewish rejection all along. Just as God’s rejection of the Jewish Messiah served to save the world, so his on-going rejection of Jews serves a salvific purpose as well.[22] The present function of Jewish rejection of the gospel is to show the world how God does not save, piling up and bearing a bit longer the wrath deserved by the whole world and driving the good news of how he does save out into the world (Rom 9). The source of Jewish rejection is what it has always been, confidence in their privileges instead of trust in the promises, and the solution to their rejection is what it has always been, faith in God’s promised Messiah (Rom 10). And the story of unbelieving Jews is not over. Their fate is not consignment to perdition based on God’s inscrutable choice; instead, it is glorious salvation as part of God’s ultimate plan to have a Jew and Gentile family of faith, if they believe (Rom 11).

So, where did the Romans 9 reprobation readings of the last 1500 years come from? From this one fact: Paul’s overwhelming concern about Jewish rejection of the gospel has not been shared by those interpreting the text in subsequent generations. The unbelief of Jews as a primary falsifier of the gospel has not been a feature of Christian soteriological reflection in many centuries. When the central concern of Romans has been lost by those reading it, is it any wonder that confusion ensues? Is it any wonder that Paul’s interests have been replaced with those of Western metaphysics of divine action and human freedom? It turns out, however, that Romans 9–11 is not about the ontological function of reprobation in service of God’s justice, but the salvation-historical function of present Jewish unbelief in service of a great Jew and Gentile redemption.

Paul’s discourse on God’s dealings with unbelieving Jews not only excludes reprobation readings in Romans 9 because he is not addressing God’s soteriological disposition to all people, it also excludes reprobation because what is said of unbelieving Jews is temporary, not permanent.[23] Again, Grudem’s definition of reprobation states that God settled his decision about unbelievers “before creation.” Paul, however, is talking about a temporary state of affairs for currently unbelieving Jews. Within the long list of descriptors Paul uses to describe these temporarily unbelieving Jews, three in particular are most often cited in Calvinist constructions of reprobation: hated, hardened, and vessels of wrath. These states of affairs, however, are temporary, not permanent. In Romans 9–11, God does not “hate” all unbelievers forever, just unbelieving Jews who are like Esau and who, only if they remain like him, will not be counted as sons. In Rom 11:28, these same “hated” unbelieving Jews are also “beloved” for the sake of their forefathers, who have been promised a massive Jew and Gentile family. God is not hardening all unbelievers, just unbelieving Jews. In 11:25, God’s hardening of these unbelieving Jews is “partial,” and he will not harden them forever, only until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. The vessels of wrath in 9:22 are not all unbelievers but unbelieving Jews in distinction to vessels of mercy who are both Jews and Gentiles. In 11:31, these disobedient Jews, because of mercy shown to the Gentiles, will also be shown mercy. If, in Rom 11:11–32, the unbelieving Jews of Romans 9 are stumbling so as not to fall; if their failure will become full inclusion; if their rejection will become acceptance; if the leftover lump will be made holy, if broken branches will be grafted back in, then Romans 9 cannot support a doctrine of reprobation.[24]

Finally, a reprobation reading of Romans 9 is ruled out by the fact that Paul clearly intends to demonstrate that the temporary resistance of Jews to the gospel has a redemptive function that brings salvation to all, including those very same unbelieving Jews. An ample intertextuality between Rom 5:6–21 and 11:11–32 makes the case for an analogical relationship in Paul’s mind between the vicariousness of Messiah Jesus for the world and the vicariousness of unbelieving Jews for the world.[25] Rather than an expression of God’s unconditioned choice of some individuals and not others, God’s treatment of unbelieving Jews has a unique salvation-historical purpose. He is treating them in ways he is not treating everybody else because of their unique role within the promises to Abraham to save the world. Paul is telling the story of how the vocation of Israel (just like the vocation of the Messiah) has always included (and continues to include) rejection and suffering for the salvation of the world as well as acceptance and vindication. God is setting aside Gentile “disobedience” through Jewish “disobedience” thereby making a way for Gentile “obedience” (11:30–31) in a manner that is analogical to the way that Adam’s “disobedience” was set aside by the “obedience” of Messiah Jesus (5:19).[26] Through the Messiah, God is graciously allowing his faithfulness to be reckoned to sinners while the condemnation of sinners falls on the Messiah. With unbelieving Jews, God’s judgment against their unbelief is substituting for his rightly falling judgment against all, so that room is made for mercy toward the Gentiles. In Calvinist constructions of reprobation, there is no thought of a redemptive purpose in the casting away of the lost. As Grudem notes, reprobation is a display of God’s “justice,” not his mercy. But for Paul, mercy is the point of God’s treatment of unbelieving Jews (11:30–31).

The redemptive aspect of Jewish unbelief is further substantiated by Paul’s employment of the “jealousy motif” in Rom 10:19 and 11:11 and v.14. In 10:19, Paul quotes from the Song of Moses (Deut 32), a passage that deals with the salvation-historical necessity of judgment and salvation. In Rom 10:19, Israel’s “jealousy” is negative, but the eventual redemption promised by Moses allows Paul to shift the motif in a positive direction in Romans 11. Paul explains in v.11 that Jewish rejection has resulted in the salvation of the Gentiles, which, in turn, will provoke his fellow Jews to jealousy, resulting in the salvation of some of them in fulfillment of Moses’s prediction. Here, Paul can positively juxtapose “provoke to jealousy” and “save.”

As in the Song of Moses, Paul believes that when Israel sees that God’s favor has passed them over and been given to the Gentiles, they will be provoked to jealousy, in the sense of seeking to emulate. They will then be saved, in the same way as the Gentiles, by turning to the Lord.[27]

In the Calvinist doctrine of reprobation, there is no possibility for jealousy over the salvation of others to be a gateway to redemption. If Paul’s focus is on Jews (not everyone), the current time period (not all eternity), and ultimate redemption (not settled rejection), then Rom 9 does not support the doctrine of reprobation.

Specific Exegetical Examples of the Failure of Romans 9 to Support Reprobation

Three verses in particular figure heavily into Calvinist constructions of reprobation: Romans 9:13, 18, and 22. Paul’s meaning becomes quite clear in each when the overall context is kept in mind, and it is clear that a doctrine of reprobation is far from a necessary conclusion.

Romans 9:13, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated

Here, Paul is not making a general point about how God deals with everybody, that all people can be put into two groups, those he has rejected from eternity and those He has accepted. Paul is making a specific point about how God has always dealt with and continues to deal with unbelieving Jews. Paul’s conclusion of the whole argument about unbelieving Jews is that God will ultimately save them by faith. So, whatever “Esau I hated means,” it cannot mean God reprobates certain people because Paul’s point is not that God has reprobated unbelieving Jews. Like the unbelieving Jews, Esau has the right ethnicity and he has not “done anything good or evil,” but he is rejected as a son because ethnicity and effort have never been the basis of salvation.[28] God purposes this as a demonstration of how he does not save. Paul is not citing the verse “Esau I hated” as proof that God sets his hatred on some individuals for no other reason than his own glory. Paul cites the verse as a demonstration that God was never obligated to have beloved sons on the basis ethnicity or effort but by believing his promises. He decided long before Jacob and Esau were born to welcome children on the basis of a call that demands a response. Unbelieving Jews find themselves in precisely the same position as Esau (genetically related to Abraham, not “having done bad”) because they reject God’s call in the gospel, believing that law-keeping will justify them.

Romans 9:18, So, he has mercy on whomever he wills and he hardens whomever he wills

Again, Paul is not making a general point about how God deals with everyone. He is making a specific point about how God deals with unbelieving Jews. Just as God hardened Pharaoh so that Israel would be saved and his name would be proclaimed everywhere, God is hardening ethnicity-trusting, Torah-trusting Jews in this moment to make the glory of his Messiah-trusting salvation among Jews and Gentiles evident to the whole world. God has mercy on Gentiles even though they do not have the right genetics or the Torah, and God hardens Jews who do. Paul will make the point in Rom 11:25 that this hardening of unbelieving Jews will last only until all the “fullness” of the Gentiles is achieved, then these unbelieving Jews will be saved, if they believe.[29] So, reprobation is ruled out of Rom 9:18 because the hardening Paul speaks of is specific to the Jews, not all unbelievers, it is temporary, not permanent, and it is for the maximizing of salvation for all, not the display of God’s justice.

Romans 9:22, Vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction

Once again, Paul is not making a general, philosophical, timeless point about how God deals with everyone. He is making a specific, salvation-historical, time-sensitive point about how God is dealing with unbelieving Jews. Paul draws the imagery of vessels from Jer 18:1–12. Jeremiah goes down to the potter’s house where he observes a potter crumpling an unwilling clay pot he has not yet fired and starting over. God’s point to Jeremiah is that he has the right to change what he will make of a nation based on its response to him. Paul’s point is that God has the right to change the destiny of Jews if they refuse to believe the gospel. Even though they have been shaped for blessing as God’s people, because they reject his gospel, they are now being shaped for wrath. This may not look fair from a human point of view. These Jews have the right pedigree, and they have the Torah, so it might be assumed they should be saved. But God has the right to make his plan for salvation the way he wants, and he wants to save through faith in the Messiah. Because salvation through faith in Messiah Jesus is “God’s purpose in election,” Gentiles, vessels formerly shaped for wrath are now being surprisingly re-shaped into vessels of mercy, while Jews, vessels shaped historically for mercy are now being shaped for wrath. In God’s plan, Jewish rejection of the gospel makes clear to the world that God is powerful enough to save the way he chooses and that he will not give special treatment even to his own ethnic people if they do not trust in Messiah Jesus. This makes even more clear and glorious his salvation of Jews and Gentiles by grace. Yet, the illustration in Jeremiah rests on the fact that the pots have not yet been fired in the oven. If the unbelieving Jews will repent, the Potter has the right to remake them for mercy rather than destruction. This is exactly Paul’s conclusion in Rom 11:30–31: “For just as you [Gentiles] once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their [Jews’] disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy.” It cannot be the case that the unbelieving Jewish “vessels of wrath” of 9:22 refer to a class of individuals permanently reprobated if this same group, disobedient in the present, have a destiny in which they will be shown mercy.

Romans 9 and Calvinist Exegesis

What does this approach to Romans 9 mean for Calvinist theological exegesis related to reprobation? Let’s look again at Grudem. He cites Rom 9:17–22 (the “hardening” and “vessels of wrath” verses) as evidence of God’s decision to save only some, giving no explanation, as though reprobation is so plain that no further analysis is needed. Grudem himself, however, acknowledges in the same section on reprobation that Rom 9:1–4 speaks of Paul’s “great sorrow when he thought about unbelieving Jews who had rejected Christ.”[30] Context demands that the problem of Jewish unbelief must still be in Paul’s mind thirteen verses later. Like Pharaoh, unbelieving Jews are being hardened so that God’s name might be made great in all the earth, namely, through the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles. Is hardness the final word on these unbelieving Jews? Hardly. Rom 11:25 speaks of the partial hardening of Jews until the Gentiles have come in, at which time salvation will come to all. Grudem goes on to quote Rom 11:7 “the elect obtained it but the rest were hardened” in support of the Calvinist idea that “God failed to choose all for salvation.”[31] But what does Paul go on to say about the “hardness” of the “rest”? Again, just a few verses later, Paul speaks of a partial hardening removed once the Gentiles come in.

Indeed, in quoting Rom 11:7, Grudem hints at what I imagine is the main Calvinist exegetical objection to my reading of Romans 9–11: that Paul is speaking of elect and reprobate Jews—elect Jews obtained salvation but non-elect Jews are rejected forever. Paul’s resolution, however, in Romans 9–11 to the problem of Jewish unbelief is not merely that God is preserving a remnant of Jews who believe. That is certainly part of Paul’s answer, given in Rom 11:1–6. God has indeed kept a remnant of believing Jews, Paul’s own faith serving as an example.[32] But what about the rest of the Jews, the “non-remnant?” In 11:7, Paul does say that these unbelieving Jews are presently hardened. However, in v. 11, Paul asks (and this is critical) concerning these hardened, unbelieving, non-remnant Jews who have been the focus of the entire passage, “Did they stumble in order that they might fall?” The clear import of the question is, “Are these presently unbelieving, non-remnant, stumbling-over-the-gospel Jews destined to fall permanently?” Paul answers his own question in the strongest terms: “mē genoito! Absolutely not!”[33] God is using their missteps to bring Gentiles to faith in order to make these unbelieving Jews jealous in order to include them in the “fullness” of Israel. In v. 14, Paul says his ministry is about saving some of these jealous, stumbling but not falling, unbelieving Jews. If “the rest” are permanently hardened, why is Paul bothering to preach to them? That is exactly the thinking that Paul is arguing against here.[34] In v. 15, still referring to this single category of presently unbelieving, non-remnant Jews, Paul speaks of both their rejection and their acceptance. In v. 16, not only is the remnant of Jews “holy,” so is the rest of the lump of unbelieving Jews. The “remnant” root is holy and so are the branches.

In vv. 17–24, Paul observes that indeed these branches, these unbelieving, non-remnant Jews, the rest, have been broken off. Why are they broken off? Verse 20 tells us: “they are broken off because of unbelief.” Is this being broken off permanent? Verse 23: “Even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.” Paul draws his argument to a conclusion in vv. 25–31. The hardening of these unbelieving Jews is partial. The hardening will be removed, and all Israel, the rest, will be saved. They are not reprobate but “beloved” (v. 28). No longer vessels of wrath, they are objects of mercy (vv. 31–31).[35]

Paul’s point in Romans 9–11 is not that there are elect and reprobate Jews. These categories must be read into the text. Paul’s long point beginning in Romans 9 is that presently unbelieving Jews, like Ishmael, are not saved by ethnicity; like Esau, not saved by works; like Pharaoh, hardened for world-wide proclamation; like exilic Israel, reshaped for wrath, no longer “My people” because of their faithlessness and, thereby, putting the glory of the grace extended to believing Jews and Gentiles on display. In Rom 10:1, Paul still desires the salvation of these unbelieving Jews who are pursuing righteousness by works. Salvation is by faith, and this good news must still be preached to them. In Rom 11:1, Paul asks, “Has God rejected his people?” Again, mē genoito! is the answer. He is preserving a remnant of Jews by grace through faith. He is hardening the rest presently so that the Gentiles can come in, making the rest of the Jews jealous, so that at the right time God can bring them to salvation—if they believe.

How then can Grudem find reprobation in Rom 9:17–22 and in 11:7 when the subjects of those verses remain the objects of God’s saving intentions? As Taylor warns above, Grudem’s exegesis suffers from an inappropriately atomistic and deterministic reading that causes him to make one mistake after another. In an attempt to make the case that God is not being disingenuous for feeling sorrowful over the condemnation of people he refuses to save, Grudem points to Paul’s sorrow over unbelieving Jews, as though Rom 9:1–4 is focused on Jews who will never believe.[36] But Romans 9–11 tells the story of the present, not permanent, unbelief of Jews. Of this same group, Paul says in 10:1, “My heart’s desire and my prayer for them is for their salvation.” Paul’s grief in 9:1–4 is not that they cannot believe but that they have not yet believed and stand, therefore, under God’s coming wrath. Only by completely ignoring the context can Grudem understand Paul as desiring and praying for the salvation of people he believes God does not desire to save.

In conclusion, it ought to be clear that the key texts from Romans 9 used to support the Calvinist doctrine of reprobation can be understood actually to be making the opposite theological case: God has not given up on a certain category of people. Since these texts do not demand the exegetically, theologically, and philosophically incoherent idea of reprobation, what verses are left to support this problematic doctrine? If we simply let Paul say what he wants to say in Romans 9–11, we have an incredible doctrinal truth: Even when, by our standards, it looks as though certain people will never come to faith, God never gives up on his plan through his people to pursue them. That is a sovereign God worthy of worship.


[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 685. Italics mine. Cf. W. S. Reid, “Reprobation,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1984): “This term . . .  refers to the fact that God has eternally condemned the nonelect to eternal punishment.” Similarly, Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 319, avers that reprobation refers “to negative predestination or God’s choice of some to suffer eternal damnation or lostness.”

[2]Grudem, Systematic Theology, 684: “When we understand election as God’s sovereign choice of some persons to be saved, then there is necessarily another aspect of that choice, namely, God’s sovereign decision to pass over others and not to save them.” Italics mine. See also Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (1932; Woodstock, Ontario: Devoted, 2017), 47, available at https://books.google.com/books?id=y3KUDgAAQBAJ&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=#v=onepage&q&f=false (accessed January 17, 2018): “The doctrine of absolute Predestination of course logically holds that some are foreordained to death as truly as others are foreordained to life.” James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology, 2nd ed. (North Richland Hills, TX: BIBAL Press, 2001), 2:483–85, demonstrates that Augustine, Calvin, and those following in their theological tradition would affirm that reprobation is a necessary implication of election.

[3] Ken Keathley, Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2010), 58, calls this “the deep, dark, ‘dirty-little-secret’ of Calvinism.”

[4] For the sake of simplicity and ease of engagement, I will be interacting in the body of the paper exclusively with Grudem’s view of reprobation. His systematic theology text has sold over a half-million copies and is a trusted staple of conservative evangelical seminary education. His construction of the doctrine conforms to the standard “infralapsarian” approach of the Reformed tradition. See also Michael Horton, The Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 316–17.

[5] Boettner, 47: [In his section on reprobation] “The chief difficulty with the doctrine of Election of course rises in regard to the unsaved; and the Scriptures have given us no extended explanation of their state.”

[6] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 685.

[7] Roger Olson, Against Calvinism (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 102–35, and Keathley, 138–63, demonstrate, in their respective chapters on unconditional election, the self-contradictory and, therefore, self-defeating nature of these assertions.

[8] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 686.

[9] Jerry Walls, “Why No Classical Theist, Let Alone Orthodox Christian, Should Ever Be A Compatibilist,” Philosophia Christi 13 (2011): 98–99.

[10] R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God in The R. C. Sproul Collection, vol. 1, available at https://books.google.com/books?id=n9QRDgAAQBAJ&pg=PT244&lpg=PT244&dq=#v=onepage&q&f=false (accessed January 20, 2018). Sproul’s honesty at this point would be refreshing if his conclusions weren’t so disturbing: “The nasty problem for the Calvinist [is] . . . . If God can and does choose to insure the salvation of some, why then does he not insure the salvation of all? . . . The only answer I can give to this question is that I don’t know. . . . One thing I do know. If it pleases God to save some and not all, there is nothing wrong with that.” On the contrary, it is the very definition of wrong.

[11] The handful of texts that might suggest reprobation is set against those texts that clearly teach God’s love for and desire to save all (John 3:16, 1 Tim 2:2–4, 2 Pet 3:9, 1 John 2:2, etc.).

[12] William Lane Craig, “Response to Paul Kjoss Helseth’s ‘God Causes All Things,’” in Four Views on Divine Providence, ed. Dennis W. Jowers (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 58–62. Craig argues that, against the determinism on which reprobation is based, five objections can be raised: (1) “[It] cannot offer a coherent interpretation of Scripture,” (2) “cannot be rationally affirmed,” (3) “makes God the author of sin and denies human responsibility,” (4) “nullifies human agency,” and (5) “makes reality into a farce.”

[13] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 685. See also Reid, “Reprobation,” who states that, while Calvin, in his Institutes, regarded the doctrine as dreadful, he viewed it as the clear teaching of Scripture, citing mainly Romans 9 as his evidence from the New Testament.

[14] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 685.

[15] John Taylor, “The Freedom of God and the Hope of Israel: Theological Exegesis of Romans 9,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 56 (Fall 2013): 25–41.

[16] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, NICNT, ed. Gordon Fee (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 548: “Once we recognize the importance of this Jewish motif in Romans, we can give Rom. 9–11 its appropriate place in the letter. . . . Paul is not simply using Israel to illustrate a theological point, such as predestination or the righteousness of God. He is talking about Israel herself . . . .”

[17] Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 548: “Paul frames chaps. 9–11 with allusions to the key tension he is seeking to resolve: the Jews, recipients of so many privileges (9:4–5), are not experiencing the salvation offered in Christ (implied in 9:1–3).”

[18] Richard H. Bell, Provoked to Jealousy: The Origin and Purpose of the Jealousy Motif in Romans 911, WUNT 63 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1994), 51.

[19] Taylor, “The Freedom of God and the Hope of Israel,” 36.

[20] The questions of 3:5–8 (“Does Jewish faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? Is God unrighteous to inflict wrath on unfaithful Jews”) are both answered with mē genoito! These questions are raised again in Rom 9:14 (“Is there any injustice in God?”), 11:1 (“Has God rejected his people?”), and 11:11 (“Have they stumbled in order to fall?”). The answer is the same: mē genoito!

[21] N. T. Wright, “Romans and the Theology of Paul,” available at http://ntwrightpage.com/2016/05/07/romans-and-the-theology-of-paul/ (accessed January 17, 2018): 5–20.

[22] N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2013), 1208.

[23] Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, 1236–37.

[24] A. Chadwick Thornhill, The Chosen People: Election, Paul and Second Temple Judaism (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015), 248.

[25] “Much more” (5:9, 10, 15, 17; cf. 11:12, 24; no other occurrences in Romans); “transgressions” (4:25, 5:15, 16, 17, 18, 20; cf. 11:11, 12); “reconciliation” (5:11; cf. 11:15; no other occurrences in Romans); “enemies” (5:10; cf. 11:28; one other occurrence); “being saved” (5:9, 10; cf. 11:14, 26; only one other occurrence outside chs. 9–11); “life from the dead” (5:10, 21; 11:15); abundance/fullness (5:20 cf. 11:12).

[26] N. T. Wright, The Letter to the Romans in The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 10 (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2002), 681.

[27] Sigurd Grindheim, The Crux of Election: Paul’s Critique of the Jewish Confidence in the Election of Israel, WUNT 202 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005), 163.

[28] Thornhill, The Chosen People, 237.

[29] Grindheim, The Crux of Election, 162.

[30] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 686.

[31] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 685.

[32] It is worth noting here that pre-conversion Paul serves as a perfect example of the soteriological function of the “hardened,” unbelieving Jew. The Saul we meet in Acts 7:58 is an “enemy of the gospel,” opposing it with all his might. Yet, he only serves to drive it out of Jerusalem and toward the Gentiles. This is the consistent plot of Jewish rejection in Acts.

[33] Thornhill, The Chosen People, 248.

[34] Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, 1236.

[35] Glen Shellrude, “The Freedom of God in Mercy and Judgment: A Libertarian Reading of Romans 9:6–29,” Evangelical Quarterly 81 (2009): 315.

[36] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 686.

137 thoughts on “Romans 9 and the Calvinist Doctrine of Reprobation

  1. Thank you, Leighton. I was privileged to read a draft of this a week or so ago, and I was profoundly impacted. Would to God that Calvinists would be also. This is not merely a humanly reasoned position, I believe it represents a sound hermeneutic and as well as exegesis that is far superior to anyone who would hold to reprobation ala Calvin. For me, Eric’s paper settles the election matter for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great article Leighton, and helpful.

    Of course I believe – There are no predestined individually reprobate, whether pointed out or passed over eternally and immutably, because there are no predestined individually elect.

    God says clearly that it is from those not His people or His beloved that individuals become joined to Christ through faith and added to His elect. (Rom 9:25)

    Before they have the Spirit of God, He clearly says they are not His. (Rom 8:9).

    The false premise of being individually eternally immutably elect may make a believer feel more special… but it is at the expense of logically and unbiblically making God into a monster masochist!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I would agree, Brian, that it makes little difference whether one proposes that the ‘elect’ are Jews, Gentiles or any arbitrarily selected number of individuals. This retains the main error of Calvinism, which distorts not only the gospel message, but the very character of God. There is one and only one ‘just’ and hope-granting theory of election to salvation from sin and death, and it just so happens to accord with scripture:

      God has determined that ‘whosoever will believe’ will be saved. Read the words of Jesus in John 3 to get the full picture.

      What you will find is that there is no distinction on the basis of race, gender, birthplace or shoe size. Salvation was never intended for Israel alone, for Aryans or for any other limited group of people. True grace is truly attainable by all men. We may ponder all of the imponderables involved, and speculate as to how they might apply, but we must never fall into the error of asserting that God has not freely offered everlasting life to all who will trust him for it.

      What a fitting, and beautiful reality that the only condition to being made ‘acceptable’ in God’s sight is to believe that he desires to make you acceptable, and has graciously provided the means whereby you can have a second chance. This grace is not limited to any type or number of persons, or to one’s personal ability, strength and discipline, but is available and sufficient to whosoever will believe in it, including the humblest, weakest sinner. Jesus ate and drank with ‘sinners’ because it is they who he came to save. The self-righteous will never acknowledge that they fall into that category. Yet, humble confession of sin and the need of a Redeemer, which leads to being ‘born again’ into a new creature, is the only requirement for salvation, and the true hope for all men.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Otherwise, I agree with the premise that the passages that Calvinism interprets in such a way as to proclaim an arbitrarily predetermined, limited atonement for a select few can have other possible interpretations. This fact, which seems obvious, (but is essentially denied by most Calvinists), should be enough to encourage any God-fearing man or woman to seek out other possibilities for understanding difficult to understand passages. Sadly, Calvinism uses fear, scorn, name-calling and all sorts of questionable tactics to manipulate those whom they have steamrolled into submission to their ‘authority’ to decide what is the ‘true’ meaning of scripture.

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  3. Excellent Article!!

    The fact that Calvinists *ALWAYS* speak out of two sides of the mouth – should serve as an undeniable red-flag, that something foundational (under the surface) of the doctrine is terribly wrong.

    Unless one wants to argue that speaking out of two sides of one’s mouth comes from the Holy Spirit!

    Somehow I don’t think so! :-]

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  4. Dr. Hankins writes, “The jolting but unavoidable reality is that Calvinism teaches that the one and only reason that the lost are not saved is that “God does not want them saved.”

    As pointed out in reference 3, Dr. K. Keathley calls this “the deep, dark, ‘dirty-little secret’ of Calvinism.”

    No amount of sugar-coating this doctrine makes it acceptable to most. Thank you Dr. Hankins for shining the flood-light of the Word on this horrible teaching.

    Blessings,

    Ron F. Hale

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dr. Hankins writes, “The jolting but unavoidable reality is that Calvinism teaches that the one and only reason that the lost are not saved is that “God does not want them saved.”

      Not exactly. Calvinism teaches that the lost are not saved because they do not want to be saved and God, who could save them, will not save them. Because God, and only God, has the power, and final decision, to save anyone He wants, the only reason a person is finally lost – given their desires, even hatred for God – is because God does not save him. Doesn’t everyone believe that??

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      1. He does not save them, according to determinism, because He immutably doesn’t want to save them, immutably doesn’t want to provide sufficient grace to enable the even to seek freely His mercy, immutably wants to create them to be eventually tormented forever for His pleasure. That’s not the God of Scripture or my Savior.

        It’s so sad there are many who want to trust the theories of others as dogma and reject the authority sand clear teaching of Scripture that contradicts that teaching… which dishonors the character of God!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. brianwganer writes, “He does not save them, according to determinism, because He immutably doesn’t want to save them, immutably doesn’t want to provide sufficient grace to enable the even to seek freely His mercy, immutably wants to create them to be eventually tormented forever for His pleasure.”

        He does not save them, according to determinism, because He doesn’t want to save them, doesn’t want to provide sufficient grace to enable them even to seek freely His mercy, and created them to be eventually tormented forever for His pleasure. God’s decisions are necessarily immutable regardless when one thinks God makes them.

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      3. From Rhutchin:
        ‘Dr. Hankins writes, “The jolting but unavoidable reality is that Calvinism teaches that the one and only reason that the lost are not saved is that “God does not want them saved.”

        Not exactly. Calvinism teaches that the lost are not saved because they do not want to be saved and God, who could save them, will not save them. Because God, and only God, has the power, and final decision, to save anyone He wants, the only reason a person is finally lost – given their desires, even hatred for God – is because God does not save him. Doesn’t everyone believe that??’

        Distortion at its finest. No, sir, everyone does not believe what you believe. Hankins states without obfuscation what Calvinism teaches, Rhutchin tries to hide it under sophistry, which appears to be his sole agenda.

        Calvinism teaches that NO ONE ‘wants to be saved’, not even the ‘elect’; that all are desperately wicked and without hope, and that, exactly as Hankins wrote, ‘the one and only reason that the lost are not saved is that “God does not want them saved.”’

        It can’t be a ‘sin problem’ because Jesus took care of that: ‘Behold, the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’

        If it is a ‘desire’ problem, that is solely due to God changing the desires of ‘some’ and not changing the desires of others. So, if any man perishes, all being in the exact same condition, it must be because ‘God does not want them saved’, which is exactly the same as ‘because God did not save them’. What ‘exactly’ is it that Rhutchin seeks to deny? Nothing really, he just wants to apply the ol’ Calvinist sophistry to hide the blatant truth from those who have been brainwashed into the cult without fully understanding what it teaches.

        Calvinism tries to hide this reality with talk of ‘desire’ and ‘hatred for God’ and ‘Total Depravity’ – as if their own theology does not assert this is exactly the same for all men. There is no difference in their book – ALL are desperately wicked and bound for hell. The ONLY distinction, under Calvinism, is that God randomly chooses to bestow mercy on Calvinism’s distortion of the ‘elect’ who have no less sin and no more ‘desire’ for God than those he chooses not to bestow mercy upon. They will try like the dickens to hide the ugly truth, to make the abhorrent more palatable, but the secret is – once again – getting out to a new generation of believers who have been kept deliberately ignorant of the true history of Calvinism.

        When do they explain the tyrannical totalitarianism of Calvin in Geneva, who punished, banished and murdered men and women for merely disagreeing with his teaching, or for the unforgivable crimes of singing, dancing at weddings or wearing their hair too high? Shed a little light on why a ‘man of God’ who explains God’s real ‘love’ to ‘the church’ can have a man burnt on green wood with the flames of his own book painfully dancing upon his face? (That sort of ‘dancing’ was apparently acceptable.) When do they explain why torture devices that even the CIA can’t get away with were employed by Calvin in mostly futile attempts to force people to confess to sins they did not commit, or to avow to doctrine they would rather die hideously than accept? That’s what brave men and women thought of Calvin’s theology even under frightful threats. Little wonder Calvinists try desperately to mask it with a kinder, gentler face.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Dr. Hankins writes,
        “The jolting but unavoidable reality is that Calvinism teaches that the one and only reason that the lost are not saved is that “God does not want them saved.”

        rhutchin:
        Not exactly. Calvinism teaches that the lost are not saved because they do not want to be saved.

        br.d
        Notice how the Calvinist doesn’t say Dr. Hankin’s statement is “NOT TRUE” – he says “not exactly”
        If Dr. Hankin’s statement were NOT TRUE, surely the Calvinist would say so.

        What is “not exactly” about Dr. Hankin’s statement – is that its not presented with Calvinist doublespeak.
        Calvinists are mentored in masquerading half-truths as the whole truth.

        In Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) the THEOS determines every neurological impulse.
        So it follows – those souls the THEOS determines will not be saved, he also determines what their wants accordingly.
        But the Calvinist doesn’t want to tell you the whole-truth.

        As Norman Geisler notes in “Chosen but Free”
        “Some Calvinists use smoke-and-mirror tactics to avoid the harsh implications of their view” (pg 104)
        “This is done by redefining terms and Theological Doublespeak” (pg 261)

        As Laurence M. Vance in “The Other Side of Calvinism states:
        “The confusing labyrinth of Calvinist terminology” (pg 556)

        As Micah Coate states in “The Cultish side of Calvnism”
        “Calvinists arguments are burried in theological and grammatical doublespeak”

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Hutch: This is an utter dishonesty:

        “Calvinism teaches that the lost are not saved because they do not want to be saved and God, who could save them, will not save them.”

        Calvinism teaches that the reprobates are such before the foundation of the world — eons before they were born — and eons before they were able to have any sort of desire.

        Calvin’s God, and yours, commands the reprobate to repent. How deeply disingenuous is that? Calvin’s god is a cosmic trickster.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Norm,
        Welcome to the world of the cosmic trickster.

        Telling Cain he must dominate over sin but not calling him before time, or empowering him to do so.

        But wasn’t that one of Calvin’s points? This in-you-face “must-repent-but-can’t idea only serves to “better glorify his justice and grace.”

        Like

  5. Romans 9 falls from the Calvinist.

    And if they have not the 9th of Romans, then alas…… they are left with only 49 verses. Chippin’ away……one at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is the clearest presentation I have seen demonstrating how Romans 9 is not, as Calvinism depicts, an odd departure from the rest of Romans, as well as the rest of scripture. It is only when it is misread, following the lead of Augustine and Calvin, that the entire consistent flow of scripture appears to be upended, and salvation by faith is made to be a mere, disingenuous slight of hand that masks God’s secretive, limited, irresistible selection of a chosen few.

    With this start, it is fairly simple to then see how Total Depravity was equally fabricated by twisting scripture into an illogical and, once again, self-contradicting concept that is always negated by the narratives. The objective reader will admit that the narratives of every person in scripture, from Adam on, reveal individuals who have the ability to choose to obey or disobey God, to give in to or resist the temptations of sin, to follow God or reject him. Without question, God calls all of these people to turn from wickedness, yet only some respond positively. The honest reader will acknowledge that the obvious alternative to Calvinism’s assertions is that men have the freedom of choice, and that far from enforcing his predetermined will upon resistless weaklings, God is revealed as holding his arms out to his rebellious children all day long, in an earnest desire to enfold them in his loving embrace. But only if they are willing. There are no invisible ropes, pulling them and no date-rape drugs rendering them unable to resist.

    God took care of ‘the sin problem’ by nailing the law to the tree, removing its power to condemn; for where there is no law, there is no sin and no power to condemn. Henceforth, no man need flee from God due to fear of punishment, but all can come trustingly, believing in his genuinely offered pardon and grace. But no one will be compelled to come, not by force, nor by secretive, magical, irresistible means. Those who refuse to believe in God’s grace choose to remain under the law, and eventually face its promised condemnation, even if they entirely deny the existence of God. But ‘whosoever will’ may respond to God’s glorious offer of pardon for sin, and will receive the living water that has graciously, freely been made available to all.

    Truly, a whole new understanding of Romans 9 should be glorious good news to those who have been persuaded that they must accept the ‘horrible decrees’ posited by Calvin, despite the horror with which they cannot help but view them, as Calvin and Grudem both admit. Surely it would be wonderful ‘news’ to Calvin and Grudem that they were wrong, their conclusions faulty, and God does indeed love and desire to save all men? And surely it would be equally welcome news to all of those who accepted the authority of these men to discover that this authority was illegitimate, and the teaching faulty? What joy it is to discover the genuine good news of the gospel after inhabiting the dismal corridors of Calvinism!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, we don’t really have a way of doing this. The post is reproducing an article from the Journal of Baptist Theology & Ministry. The link is at the top of the post. If you subscribe to the blog you will get all future posts in your email.

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  7. Ron4Him

    You and Dr Hankins are so right! Per Calvinism, God does not want them saved! Simple as that.

    Now, you may see Calvinists come up with some non-answer-answer, perhaps saying, “Calvinism teaches that the lost are not saved because they do not want to be saved…” But that would make that Calvinist guilty of their own worst accusation: a “man-centered Gospel.”

    That would make a Calvinists be saying that man is X because man wants X (or because man does not want Y)….but this is “man-centered,” and should be a no-no for them (but they say Arminian things all the time and they often allow themselves to say conflicting truths).

    You may notice them saying something like ….”No, it is it not that God does not want to save them, but rather because God does not save them.” Huh? Apparently for them, God always gets what He wants, so this makes no sense, as usual.

    So yes….despite rhetorical tail-chasing, they affirm that the beauty of Calvinism—where God always gets what He wants— is that God does NOT want the 98.85% saved but will glory in their eternal punishment.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. A CALVINIST VERSION OF THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER

    Behold, a god who was obsessed with determining all things – decided to sow some seed.
    And he determined to take the vast majority of the seed and separate it into three parts.

    Now the first part he determined to sow by the way side to have the fowls of the air devour it.
    And the second part he determined to sow on stony ground, to have it whither and die.
    And the third part he determined to sow among thorns to have it choke and yield no fruit.

    Now by this time there was only a few seeds left.
    These seed he determined to sow on good ground so that they would live.

    Then he stood for a while scratching his head in puzzlement – trying to figure out the logic of what he had just done.

    Realizing he needed to save face – he manufactured an argument that went like this:

    I blame the first seed – for sowing themselves where the fowls of the air would devour them.
    I blame the second seed – for sowing themselves where they would wither and die.
    I blame the third seed – for sowing themselves where they would choke and yield no fruit.

    But I praise myself – because I was able to make a few seeds live.
    What a magnificent god I am! :-]

    Like

    1. br.d writes, “A CALVINIST VERSION OF THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER”

      This rendition betrays an ignorance of Calvinism and of that which Christ meant in this parable.. here are suggestions for making it portray Calvinism and render the parable as Christ told it.

      Behold, a sovereign god who rules all things absolutely – decided to sow some seed.
      And he determined to sow the seed across the land regardless of the soil into which the seed was thrown.

      Some of the seed he determined to sow fell the way side where the fowls of the air devoured it.
      Some of the seed he determined to sow fell on stony ground, where it it withered and died.
      Some of the seed he determined to sow fell among thorns where it choked and yielded no fruit.

      The remaining seed he determined to sow on good ground that He had prepared to receive the seed and grow to produce agreat crop.

      This is the meaning of the parable

      The first seed – fell on those hardened by sin and Satan takes the seed away..
      The second seed – fell on those who seek salvation on their own terms and they soon tire of playing games with God.
      The third seed – fell on those who love the world and they seek the pleasures of life that always push God to the side.

      But I glorify myself – because I determined to save a remnant; some seed fell on My elect whose hearts I had prepared for the seed.
      The seed is my word. What a magnificent God I am! The remnant said, Amen and praised the God who had mercy on them!

      Like

      1. Someone left out all the other determinations in their rendition of the Calvinist Parable of the Sower! It’s funny how they see such synergism in the sinful things they don’t want to openly ascribe to God’s decree before creation, unless they are called on it, and yet they can’t bring themselves to see any synergism planned in saving things that they do want to openly ascribe to God’s decree before creation.

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      2. Brian:
        We have seen this a hundred times! Synergism works for Calvinists in that man and God work together on man’s ability to not hear (his demise)….but never on his ability to hear.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hutch:
        It is exceedingly difficult to take this comment from you seriously: “This rendition betrays an ignorance of Calvinism…” when you have intentionally misrepresented Calvinism as shown above.
        If our brother posts in ignorance (and I believe he does not), then I can tolerate that. But I cannot tolerate intentional misrepresentation.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Norm:

        I have been trying to shed light on Calvinism for years. Every time I seem to explain correctly the determinism, double-predestination, or “therefore God has ordained sin” part …. they play the “you misrepresent Calvinism” card! ((And throw in a “ya lousy universalist” for good measure.))

        Very few out there will just own it! Most of them quote a confession or catechism that says something like “God ordained all that happeneth even the fall of the finest of dust particles…..yet He ordaineth not sin.”

        A equals A, but A does not equal A.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Here are some excerpts from a long sermon someone sent me today called “He that winneth souls is wise.” Tell me if the author is a traditionalist, Arminian, or Calvinist…..

    Doesn’t sound like the author thinks that sinners are so reprobate that they cannot hear!!!
    ————————–

    He who actually, really, and truly turns men from the error of their ways to God…. is a wise man; and that is true of him whatever his style of soul-winning may be.

    “He that winneth souls is wise,” and this can be seen very clearly. He must be a wise man in even ordinary respects who can by grace achieve so divine a marvel. Great soul-winners never have been fools…..

    “He that winneth souls is wise,” because he has selected a wise object…… He has selected a wise object, for what can be wiser than to glorify God, and what, next to that, can be wiser than in the highest sense to bless our fellow men; to snatch a soul from the gulf that yawns, to lift it up to the heaven that glorifies; to deliver an immortal from the thraldom of Satan, and to bring him into the liberty of Christ? What more excellent than this? I say that such an aim would commend itself to all right minds, and that angels themselves may envy us poor sons of men that we are permitted to make this our life-object, to win souls for Jesus Christ.

    To accomplish such a work a man must be wise, for to win a soul requires infinite wisdom.

    Mark ye well, my brethren, that he who is successful in soul-winning, will prove to have been a wise man in the judgment of those who see the end as well as the beginning.

    Even if I were utterly selfish, and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose, if I might, under God, to be a soul-winner, for never did I know perfect, overflowing, unutterable happiness of the purest and most ennobling order, till I first heard of one who had sought and found a Savior through my means.

    ….Beyond all controversy it is a joy worth worlds to win souls, and thank God, it is a joy that does not cease with this mortal life. It must be no small bliss to hear as one wings his flight up to the eternal throne, the wings of others fluttering at one’s side towards the same glory, and turning round and questioning them, to hear them say, “We are entering with you through the gates of pearl; you brought us to the Savior.”

    I have said enough brethren, I trust, to make some of you desire to occupy the position of soul-winners…

    I. First let us consider the metaphor used in the text—“He that winneth souls is wise.”

    How do we win souls then? Why, the word “win” has a better meaning far. It is used in warfare. Warriors win cities and provinces. Now, to win a soul is a much more difficult thing than to win a city. …. The soul-winner has to sit down before a soul as a great captain before a walled town; to draw his lines of circumvallation, to cast up his intrenchments and fix his batteries. He must not advance too fast —he may overdo the fighting; he must not move too slowly, for he may seem not to be in earnest, and may do mischief. Then he must know which gate to attack—how to plant his guns at Ear-gate, and how to discharge them; how, sometimes, to keep the batteries going day and night with red-hot shot, if perhaps he may make a breach in the walls; at other times to lay by and cease, and then on a sudden to open all the batteries with terrific violence, if peradventure he may take the soul by surprise or cast in a truth when it was not expected, to burst like a shell in the soul and do damage to the dominions of sin.

    The Christian soldier must know how to advance by little and little— to sap that prejudice, to undermine that old enmity, to blow into the air that lust, and at the last, to storm the citadel. It is his to throw the scaling ladder up and to have his ears gladdened as he hears a clicking on the wall of the heart, telling that the scaling ladder has grasped and has gained firm hold; and then, with his sabre between his teeth, to climb up and spring on the man and slay his unbelief in the name of God, and capture the city, and run up the blood-red flag of the cross of Christ and say, “The heart is won, won for Christ at last.” This needs a warrior well trained—a master in his art…… This is winning a soul.

    Ten thousand arts are used to prevent the soul-winner from being conqueror in the encounter, but if God has sent him he will never renounce his hold of the soul he seeks till he has given a throw to the power of sin, and won another soul for Christ.

    Besides that, there is another meaning to the word “win” upon which I cannot expatiate here. ….

    The weapon of love is sometimes a look, or a soft word whispered and eagerly listened to; sometimes it is a tear; but this I know, that we have, most of us in our turn, cast around another heart a chain which that other would not care to break, and which has linked us twain in a blessed captivity which has cheered our life. Yes, and that is very nearly the way in which we have to save souls. That illustration is nearer the mark than any of the others. Love is the true way of soul-winning, for when I spoke of storming the walls, and when I spoke of wrestling, those were but metaphors, but this is near the fact. We win by love. We win hearts for Jesus by love, by sympathy with their sorrow, by anxiety lest they should perish, by pleading with God for them with all our hearts that they should not be left to die unsaved, by pleading with them for God that, for their own sake, they would seek mercy and find grace.

    I believe that much of the secret of soul-winning lies in having bowels of compassion, in having spirits that can be touched with the feeling of human infirmities. Soul-saving requires a heart that beats hard against the ribs. It requires a soul full of the milk of human kindness; this is the sine qua non of success. This is the chief natural qualification for a soul-winner….

    I have not looked at the Hebrew of the text, but I find—and you will find who have margins to your Bibles—that it is, “He that taketh souls is wise,” which word refers to fishing, or to bird-catching. …..We must have our lures for souls adapted to attract, to fascinate, to grasp. We must go forth with our bird-lime, our decoys, our nets, our baits, so that we may but catch the souls of men. Their enemy is a fowler possessed of the basest and most astounding cunning; we must outwit him with the guile of honesty, the craft of grace.

    II. And now brethren and sisters, you who are engaged in the Lord’s work from week to week, and who seek to win men’s souls to Christ, I am, in the second place, to illustrate this by telling you of some of the ways by which souls are won.

    Especially in this London of ours, where so many will not go up to the house of God—persuade your neighbors to come forth to the place of worship; look after them; make them feel that it is a wrong thing to stop at home on the Sunday from morning till night. …I do say entice them, persuade them. Let them have your tickets for the Tabernacle for instance sometimes, or stand in the aisles yourself, and let them have your seat.

    Further, let me commend to you dear friends, the art of button-holing acquaintances and relatives.

    …. We must not excuse ourselves, but force ourselves to the irksome task till it becomes easy. This is one of the most honorable modes of soul-winning, and if it requires more than ordinary zeal and courage, so much the more reason for our resolving to master it. Beloved, we must win souls, we cannot live and see men damned; we must have them brought to Jesus. Oh! then, be up and doing, and let none around you die unwarned, unwept, uncared for.

    One thing more, the soul-winner must be a master of the art of prayer.

    Beloved, there is one question I will ask and I have done, and that is, are your own souls won? …..The way to be saved is simply to trust in what the Son of man did when he became man, and suffered the punishment for all those who trust him. …. His people are those who trust him. If you trust him, he was punished for your sins and you cannot be punished for them….. If you trust Jesus who now liveth at the right hand of God, you are this moment pardoned, and you shall for ever be saved. O that you would trust him now! Perhaps it may be now or never with you. May it be now, even now, and then, trusting in Jesus, dear friends, you will have no need to hesitate when the question is asked, “Are you saved?” for you can answer, “Ay, that I am, for it is written, ‘He that believeth in him is not condemned.’ Trust him then, trust him now, and then God help you to be a soul-winner, and you shall be wise, and God shall be glorified.
    ———————

    It is much longer but similar in the trimmed off parts. The focus is that we must “win souls” and that what we do will make a difference in how many are won. Spoken like a true Baptist! But not at all like a true Calvinist. All the emphasis for the whole sermon is on our own effort to reach people for Christ.

    In the pulpit an Arminian, but at his desk behind his theology books a Calvinist.

    Determinism is not a way of live.

    Proven again and again by the messages of Charles Spurgeon.

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    1. Foh quotes the sermon, “…if God has sent him he will never renounce his hold of the soul he seeks till he has given a throw to the power of sin, and won another soul for Christ….the soul-winner must be a master of the art of prayer.”

      Good Calvinist sermon that recognizes that it is God that sent him so he relies on God, through prayer, knowing that, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”

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      1. And there we have it!!!

        it is called a “good Calvinist sermon!!” Preach like an Arminian, but declare yourself a Calvinist (cover all your bases).

        Spurgeon declares a man is wise in his efforts….

        “to snatch a soul from the gulf that yawns, to lift it up to the heaven that glorifies; to deliver an immortal from the thraldom of Satan, and to bring him into the liberty of Christ?”

        The entire sermon (and many like) is “man-centered” as the means and “man-centered” as the goal. Very Arminiam sermon. Commendable in that regard!

        Always focused on man’s efforts to, “…never renounce his hold of the soul he seeks till he has given a throw to the power of sin, and won another soul for Christ.”

        Of course he is sent by God! We are all sent to proclaim the Gospel! But Spurgeon (here and elsewhere) gives lots of tips on how to best win someone to Christ, never referring to the concept that the person be chosen or not. Just work harder and they will come!

        Hey….. wait….. if they come they would then be chosen! Perfect!

        Spurgeon, the Prince of Arminians!

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  10. Even if it is true that Romans 9 is addressing God’s sovereignty in regards to the Jews, how does that change the premise? The Jewish people is composed of Jewish individuals. If the Jews are rejected, even for a period of time, are not those individuals who die in unbelief during that time unsaved by God’s sovereign decision, or are you implying that they die in their trespasses and sins, but God is going to save them anyway?

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    1. Hey JWD,

      “If the Jews are rejected, even for a period of time, are not those individuals who die in unbelief during that time unsaved by God’s sovereign decision”

      No. I could be wrong, but I’m not sure where Dr. Flowers had argued the Jews were “rejected for a period of time” only that “they have been hardened while Jesus was on earth for a greater redemptive purpose”. In Acts 2, thousands of those same Jews who rejected Jesus, who were hardened so they would not believe and so they would kill him thus accomplishing the greater redemptive purpose, come to faith in Christ. They were hardened for a purpose but never rejected, and then at the appropriate time, the Gospel was proclaimed with Holy Spirit-wrought power which removed their blindness and thousands believed.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. RE latest podcast…Respectfully, not everyone who believes Calvinism is neither the gospel, nor even Christian, are people who “don’t understand Calvinism” or who are “sitting at the children’s table” or “fundamentalists”. That attitude doesn’t advance the debate either. Tradition is not an argument for Calvinism to be included in Christianity. Your neighbor or family members or spouse is a Calvinist is not an argument that Calvinism is Christian. Christians can’t avoid debating these issues by such condescending dismissals in the absence of any discussion. Begging the question is a bad line of argument.

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    1. Jeff writes:
      ‘ Tradition is not an argument for Calvinism to be included in Christianity.’

      Very true. Indeed, if, in the end, 90% (or any other number) of so-called ‘Christians’ are told ‘Away, I never knew you’, it will matter not one iota what doctrines they believed, if and how they were baptized, how often they went to church, how well they kept the Ten Commandments, or any other ‘tradition’ of ‘Christianity’ that supposedly proves one is ‘saved’. If modern Churchianity is as corrupt as Judaized Israel, we really should not be all that surprised, as they appear very similar in worshiping tradition and authority rather than obeying the commands of Jesus to love God and others.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Read this article and I appreciate Dr. Eric Hankins focus on Romans 9. Though I will outline why the thesis he is espousing has weaknesses in it, it is a great privilege among Christians to honour God’s Word and refocus our commitment to what it means as our ultimate authority.

    The main thesis of this article is laid out in these words: “Romans 9 — 11 is focus on the salvation-historical role of unbelieving Jews in the present, not the ontological status of all unbelieving people for all time.”

    There are two applications of thesis as whole towards the interpretation of Romans 9 – 11:

    1. Paul was referring to a group of Jews at a particular time that were hardened by God and did not intend to apply the principles he outlined to any other people.

    2. The hardening or foreordained rejection of this particular Jews are temporary and therefore implies that they will be given a choice to be saved in a later period of time.

    On the first point, there is no question that Paul was referring to a group of Jews in his particular time. When he was alive, he saw many Jews who rejcted the Gospel. However, the disagreement is whether Paul has no intention of the principles he outlined regarding God’s choice to mercy and to harden as general explanation of unbelief leading to damnation and faith leading to salvation. To press an interpretation that is so narrow would demand that the principles outlined in Romans 9 – 11 will be limited to those particular people also during that time. When Paul refers to the Gentiles who are part of God’s choice to mercy (9:24), we must be consistent that this should be referring to Gentiles at that particular time only. The narrative where Paul says the Gentiles during his time pursued righteousness by faith therefore justified (9:30) is applicable to those particular Gentiles only and prevents us from making application to any other people belonging to different times. Warnings to Gentiles where they should not be arrogant otherwise God would cut them off too (11:21) is not applicable to any other people but to those Gentiles alone in that particular time period. If we have to ask the timeframe of the God’s hardening also, Paul was clear that it extends not only on his day but practically until the end of times (i.e. the fullness of the Gentiles come in (11:25)). Since many Gentiles are still coming in and believing the Gospel up to this point and the future (in fact, until Jesus comes again), the hardening of God is still at work today and in the future. Thus, the limitation of a particular principle to a group of Jews during that time only will stripped Romans 9 — 11 of any relevance today. Furthermore, it will not account for the timeframe of the hardening which will continue until “the fulness of the Gentiles come in”.

    On the second point, we can not escape the fact that this ‘hardening’ of God resulted to people experiencing his wrath and people being prepared for destruction (9:22). God’s choice of who to harden is said to be ‘whomever he wills’ (9:18). He did it to Pharoah who is a Gentile, by the way. He can do it to Israel too. And, this prerogative extends ‘until the fullness of the Gentiles come in’ (11:25). There is a temporary aspect of God’s choice to harden certain people but it seems that such prerogative will only stop until he has gathered all his elect (i.e. the real Israel (9:6) whom he has reserved for himself (9:27, 11:2-3) and the Gentiles which number is also determined (11:25)). Dr. Hankins argued that there are people who were hardened but not forever. Of course! Paul’s point was that God has freedom not only to harden but to mercy. And, thus, among the Jews who were and are experiencing the ‘hardening’ of God, some will experience the mercy of God and come to faith and be saved (9:27). An example of which was Paul himself (11:1). And because there were and are Jews who are being saved, God has not totally abandoned ethnic Israel. God himself reserved a people who will be saved in that nation, Israel (11:2-7). God has freedom to mercy even those who have experienced his hardening. But he has no obligation to mercy everyone (9:27). There will be people who will continue under the hardening judgement of God and continue in their rebellion and unbelief. Although God has power to graft them in (11:23), i.e. to stop their unbelief, many of them will not be spared and will face his wrath (9:22). Not all who are hardened are reprobates for some will experience the mercy of God like Paul did. But all reprobates (those who are prepared to destruction) has experienced the hardening of God both Gentiles (like he did to Pharoah) and Jews (among those who will perish). Since God has freedom to mercy, Paul encourages everyone to never stop preaching the Gospel (10:14-15) even to Jews who seemingly are impossible to be converted to the faith (10:16-21) because God has his elect even among those who are currently rejecting him (11:5). God has freedom to mercy them and therefore, as it pleases him to show mercy, preach the Word to all. For just as he gave them the curse so he can remove the spirit of stupor, open blind eyes, cure deaf ears (11:7) and bring about salvation.

    To recap the response:

    On point 1. The suggestion that the principles of hardening should be applied to that particular people on that particular timeframe will make Romans 9 — 11 irrelevant if we are to be consistent with that hermeneutical principle.

    On point 2. Hardening is not equivalent to reprobation. But reprobation includes the hardening prerogative of God. The point of Romans 9 — 11 is that God has freedom to mercy even those who have experienced his hardening like Paul did. But God is not obliged to mercy everyone and has the prerogative to choose only a people whom he will save among Israel and the Gentiles, thus, consequently implies reprobation, the passing over of some people leaving them of their hardened state.

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    1. Welcome Joey. Thank you for your thoughtful interaction. Underlying your view is still the false premise of eternal immutable individual election before creation and the horrible false premise of eternal immutable individual damnation to torment before creation.

      The hardening of individuals like Pharaoh or generations of Israelites as a nation (branches) from the blessing of the gospel does not have to be based on those false assumptions. God can easily pick vessels He fearfully and wonderfully made and intended for good but who freely rejected His plan to makeover them into vessels of wrath… so that more opportunity for mercy to be displayed to all individuals and nations can take place (Rom 9:17, 11:30).

      But the Scripture is clear… it is from those “not His”, “not His people”, “not beloved” (Rom 8:9, 9:25) that ones become individually and everlastingly joined to His elect. That contradicts the premise that they eternally immutably were members of the elect. God was/is not locked into and limited to one eternally set predestination of all things. There is no Scripture that teaches that false premise. And there are a multitude of Scriptures that clearly contradict it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Brian,
        Of course Romans 9 is considered the gold standard for Calvinists. It has several verses that —-if misused— can back up their idea.

        1. They come to the verses with this idea (they have the answer before they go to the text).

        2. They miss the point of Romans 9-11 in general.

        3. They forget to look at the Potter that Romans 9 is referring to…..

        Jer 18:4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

        5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

        This is one of the most non-Calvinistic passages in the Bible and of course the foundation for the Potter illustration in Romans 9.

        Even the Calvinist ESV uses words like.

        “vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand,”

        “and he reworked it into another vessel,”

        “…break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, ….turns from its evil,”

        “…I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.”

        “…build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.”

        So very non-deterministic!!!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The rejection or abuse of the meaning of this metaphor always astounds me. In the timeframe in which this was written, a ‘potter’ would have one or more pits in which he kept all sorts of clay (of miry clay fame!). When he set out to make a vessel, he would choose the appropriate type of clay for that vessel from his stockpile. And if one has ever watched, and listened to a modern day potter, you will learn that he has to ‘work with’ the clay. There may be unseen imperfections, or perhaps it somehow became too damp or too dry. A wise potter does not attempt to ‘force’ an ‘unwilling’ clay into the desired shape, but will simply turn it into something else and begin again with a new lump of clay.

        To twist this easily discerned lesson into meaning that God deterministically ordains what will become of each ‘lump of clay’ is not only extraordinary, it is utterly absurd. It demonstrates little to no genuine study or thought, but a mere jumping to inappropriate conclusions.

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      3. Hi Brian,

        I appreciate your response. You wrote: ‘God can easily pick vessels He fearfully and wonderfully made and intended for good but who freely rejected His plan to makeover them into vessels of wrath… so that more opportunity for mercy to be displayed to all individuals and nations can take place (Rom 9:17, 11:30).’

        Though not discounting the fact that those whom God passed over did reject, nevertheless, his choice to not stop their rebellion is not based on their will or effort. It is not based on what they have done. Similarly, his choice to save those who have rejected him is not based on their will or their effort. Two contextual limitations will prevent you from the conclusions you just made on 9:18 — ‘So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills’. These are:

        1. 9:16 ‘So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.’ And
        2. 9:11 ‘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 him who calls’

        You also wrote: ‘But the Scripture is clear… it is from those “not His”, “not His people”, “not beloved” (Rom 8:9, 9:25) that ones become individually and everlastingly joined to His elect. That contradicts the premise that they eternally immutably were members of the elect. God was/is not locked into and limited to one eternally set predestination of all things. There is no Scripture that teaches that false premise. And there are a multitude of Scriptures that clearly contradict it.’

        The simple answer to this is that the elect were once ‘not his’, ‘not his people’, ‘not beloved’. The point of Paul is that God is free to mercy whom he wills. That means, even when a person is so soaked in his rebellion, he can effectively call them and save them. No amount of hardened hearts can stop him from freely calling a people for himself and save them. It does not contradict any elements in the theological concept of election because election means that God has purposefully intentioned even before he created to save lost, rebellious, hardened, Christ rejecting individuals for himself by ‘mercying’ them and giving them a new heart. And that is the point of Paul too. We have no right to stop sharing the Gospel even to the ones who we think is impossiple to repent because God is not limited to save (yes! even the Jews right now (not just before) who have rejected him). Missions still belongs to Israel and to the Gentile nations because God has chosen to save and no hardened hearts is powerful enough to frustrate his calling and election. He promised that he preserved a remnant among Christ-rejecters and that fuels our missions.

        Sincerely,
        Joey Henry

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      4. Thank you Joey for taking the time and your thoughtful reply.

        Thank you too for confirming that – “The simple answer to this is that the elect were once ‘not his’, ‘not his people’, ‘not beloved’.” – which confirms the logical inference of Rom 8:9 and 9:25 that no-one is eternally immutably His or His beloved. Of course that premise is contradicted in reformed theology who believe the elect are eternally immutably God’s and God’s beloved.

        You do realize, right, that the verse you quoted – ‘So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills’ – does not say anything about predestination before creation? The present tense verbs point to God’s active desires in His current decision making, and we learn that He actively desires “all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1Tim 2:4). Reformed theology has trouble believing that God could allow some of His desires and intentions to go unfulfilled in His pursuit of a higher purpose of creating covenant love based on freely offered and freely received or rejected grace.

        Rom 11:32 clearly teaches that He does indeed give sufficient grace to all… so if some are not saved… it is not His fault.

        Forgive me for pasting a long overview of Romans 9 that I have previously made… but it might help explain why I believe Calvinists are reading too much into this context which is about God’s sovereignty.

        Overview of Romans 9:
        It would help if the context of Christ-like love for all the lost, demonstrated in Paul from verses 1-3 were recognized before reading the rest. It would also help to note that no verse mentions election before creation in this chapter, but that there is a “seed” that is currently being reckoned (present tense) in verse 6.

        It also would help if it wouldn’t be skipped over so easily that God’s purpose in hardening Pharoah was so that God’s Name would spread over ALL the earth in verse 17. And it would be helpful to read each time the phrases “will have mercy” and “will harden” more fully and literally as He will have mercy/harden with whom He “should” and “wants to” have mercy and harden.

        That should lead the reader to wonder on whom then “should” God have mercy or on whom does God “want” to have mercy. It is easy to discover that He wants His mercy to be on a people who were not His “people” or “beloved” before. This excludes the idea of a loved elect individual person before creation (besides Christ) being read into verses 25-26. But God will have mercy on those on whom He grants His righteousness which they pursued and came to possess through faith (vs 32). In fact He will have some kind of mercy on all (11:32), giving all a sufficient opportunity to hear His call to them to seek Him (10:18).

        The biggest confusion a Calvinist has is in not seeing that God’s sovereign choice of individuals according to Romans 9 was to help fulfill His promise of salvation in Christ, but it did not guarantee their personal salvation or damnation. The prophecy – Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated – did not guarantee the salvation of Jacob or of everyone in Israel, nor did it guarantee the damnation of Esau and of everyone in Edom.
        Here is evidence that Esau later became a believer and that any Edomites were welcome to become believers also.

        Gen 33:4, 10 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept…. “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.”

        Deut 23:7-8 Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.

        Who does Esau remind you of in 33:4? Hint Luke 15:20.

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      5. May I add that the Reformed distortion of ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy’ utterly ignores the original context of those words? God was gently reprimanding Moses for ‘demanding’ that all of Israel be treated in the same merciful manner as Moses was offered. God’s response to Moses suggests, in my opinion, that God was rejecting the idea of an arbitrary blanket ‘mercy’ to the ‘elect’ nation of Israel, such as what is claimed to be granted irrevocably to ‘the elect’ people of Calvinism. God declared that he intended to show mercy upon those he deemed worthy of mercy, period; not some pre-selected group of people, irregardless of their hearts and actions.

        God does not go into much greater detail, but simply grants some of Moses’ request while explaining why he will not be held to Moses’ desire that all Israel be spared God’s wrath. God was not angry that Moses desired him to be compassionate, but was patient with Moses’ less than perfect understanding of wisdom and justice.

        It was not that God did not love the people as much as Moses did; but because God always, justly, shows mercy to those who put their trust in him and at least attempt to walk with him, even if imperfectly. This is not, as the theologian has so often falsely declared, to suggest that God shows mercy to those who ‘earn’ it by good works, but that he, and he alone, sets the conditions for granting mercy to rebellious men. And scripture repeatedly tells us that his condition is genuine faith in God’s goodness and perfect wisdom, resulting in remorse for and turning from wickedness. Mindful of the weakness of the flesh, God did not demand a perfect absence of any wrongdoing ever, but a heart that was responsive to him.

        The very false distortion that has been pushed upon institutional Christianity since the Reformation is that salvation is either all of God, i.e. Divine Determinism, or else it requires man’s ‘earning’ it. The truth is that both of these are false. No man can earn salvation, nor does God just arbitrarily pick a few to assign it to. Rather, God chose to consider and rightly judge men’s hearts: to have mercy upon who he will have mercy. Those who believe in the declarations of God about himself, and put their trust in him, will be credited with as much ‘righteousness’ as if they indeed did no wrong ever. In other words, the weakness and inability to be ‘perfect lawkeepers’ will be forgiven those who put their trust in God and desire to to well. This is far, far from the OSAS of Calvinism; there is no ‘Sin boldy’ as falsely taught by Luther. It is, instead, a truly merciful approach by God toward his children who desire to not sin, and are remorseful when they do.

        God’s mercy will be based upon his perfect judgment of our hearts, rather than our perfect performance.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. TS00 – If you are only defining “mercy” to mean salvation then I agree with you… but I believe there is pre-salvation mercy offered freely and unconditionally to all… and Rom 11:32 is pointing to that and that definition can be seen to fit in Romans 9 use of “mercy” also imo.

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      7. TS00,
        I remember coming to Christ —like most people who do—- and reading/ thinking/ understanding that “God loves the world.” (Isn’t that a glorious moment!)

        When I converted to (or was dragged into) Calvinism Romans 9 was the gold standard, and was used to convince me that God does not love everyone (a much less glorious moment —-but a bitter pill that must be swallowed for doctrine’s sake!)

        Glazed eyes read that “He has mercy on who He will” and “He is the potter” So, yeah, no push back on my part —- and then one last whack on my head with “dead men dont make choices” and I was in the club!

        Later, putting aside “helpful” theology books and reading several times straight through the Bible I discovered that the Potter in Romans 9 was the guy in Jeremiah 18! What!? That Jeremiah potter is not a determinist- autocrat, making people believe! ((In fact that Potter even starts over with different ideas —since the planned clay will not obey.))

        And “mercy on who He will” —of course! Those inside the ark —got mercy, those in the house (Pentecost)— got mercy, those who look at the serpent-on-the-pole—- got mercy. He sets it up “as He wills.” He gives mercy to “whom He wills.” That does not mean He does not require faith from them!

        But, anyway, none of that passage is even talking about personal damnation and election.

        Sure….. I was told (by YRR friends) that Romans 9 was deterministic…. and I “chose” to believe that. But not any more!!!

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      8. Hi Brian,

        Thank you for your response.

        You wrote: ‘Thank you too for confirming that – “The simple answer to this is that the elect were once ‘not his’, ‘not his people’, ‘not beloved’.” – which confirms the logical inference of Rom 8:9 and 9:25 that no-one is eternally immutably His or His beloved. Of course that premise is contradicted in reformed theology who believe the elect are eternally immutably God’s and God’s beloved.’

        Response: I am not sure what you meant by ‘immutably God’s and God’s beloved’ that you assumed to be taught in reformed theology regarding election. I hope you can explain more on this. However, here is what I am sure of. Election in reformed theology does not mean that the individual was not a ‘sinner’, ‘under God’s wrath’, or ‘God’s enemy’ prior to God saving them at the appointed time. That is why I explained that the elect at one point of their existence are really sinners (i.e. ‘not his’ and ‘and under God’s wrath’) and yet God purposed in eternity that he is going to save them. Thus, I do not see the contradiction in reformed theology.

        You wrote: ‘You do realize, right, that the verse you quoted – ‘So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills’ – does not say anything about predestination before creation?’

        Response: I agree with you. I do not think reformed exegetes have used the verse to prove the timeframe of election in this verse. The closest context on which we can derive a timeframe is from 9:11 ‘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 him who calls’. God made the choice prior to the existence of his elect.

        You wrote: ‘The present tense verbs point to God’s active desires in His current decision making, and we learn that He actively desires “all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1Tim 2:4). Reformed theology has trouble believing that God could allow some of His desires and intentions to go unfulfilled in His pursuit of a higher purpose of creating covenant love based on freely offered and freely received or rejected grace.’

        Response: With regard to 1 Tim 2:4, our assumption on whether “all” contextually means “all individuals born in this world” or “all kinds of people” needs to be exegetically defended. And yes, as Christians we should be very worried on having an apriori that assumes that God’s salvific desires and intentions are frustrated by human will. I think Paul, with regard to God’s choice on whomever he wants to mercy, concludes that the certainty of such event does not depend on human will. ‘So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy’ (9:16).

        I think, my previous responses have addressed the major points in what you copied and pasted. With regard to Esau and Jacob, Paul used the example to portray the kind of freedom regarding God’s prerogative to mercy and harden whomever he pleases. It is like saying, just as God was so free to choose Jacob and decreed that he will not serve Esau though he was older, even prior their birth and despite they were twins (meaning there was/were no distinguishing factor(s) by themselves that would move to choose God one over the other) — so God’s choice to mercy and harden whomever he wills is as free as that choice that he made between Esau and Jacob.

        Hope this helps you. Probably be my last response!

        Sincerely,
        Joey Henry

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      9. Thanks again for your thoughtful reply. Just two points of contention to finish my part of this thread. If nothing can separate an elect individual from the love of God in Christ Jesus than you affirmed the so-called pre-creation elect individuals were never loved or in Christ until after their moment of salvation. That is not the reformed position that bases their supposed election on the eternal immutable unconditional love placed upon them and decreed for them.

        Second I’m sure you see the difference in being chosen or “elect” for a purpose, like the nation of Israel or the individual Jacob, that doesn’t guarantee individual salvation for all in Israel or even for Jacob… though those “elect” are being used sovereignly to work out the larger provision of grace being offered to all.

        Finally… a contemplation of the six uses of the word “all” in 1Tim 2:1-6 would NOT lead any normal reader free of theological presuppositions to give a distributive meaning to “all” (all different kinds) in verse 4… but they would default to the more normal inclusive meaning of “all” (each and every) in every instance in that context.

        Thanks again for the conversation.

        Like

      10. Brian,

        You are so gentle! Good.

        When I was a Calvinist, I surrounded myself with Calvinists and read only those kinds of books. Of course I filtered all (or “all kinds of”) Scripture through the lens of what I “knew to be true”.

        It is a frightening thing to move away from the deterministic position of God, if one wants to “honor God”. We are reminded that if we move away we will have a “man-centered” theology and “make man stronger than God.” ((Of course that required me to ignore the literally thousands of times in the Scripture where God allows man to do things He does not want…. but ….I did it…for a while….))

        I only want to see what God says about Himself, not what man has determined (no pun intended!) that God must be like!

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Brain and Joey…

        Joey says…

        And yes, as Christians we should be very worried on having an apriori that assumes that God’s salvific desires and intentions are frustrated by human will.

        —-

        I dont understand how the “desires of God” are so separately from what we see in Christ, or what Paul teaches.

        He stands on the hill and says “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem….. how often I would have ….but you were not willing.” (He wanted; they weren’t willing).

        He tells a crowd on the mountain “seek first the kingdom” (Did they all seek? But He told them to.)

        He regularly describes Himself in deprecating fashion “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (That is not a “my way will always happen” attitude.)

        Paul reminds us that God is holding out His hands to a people who will not come (Rom 10:21)

        Paul regularly reminds us that man can thwart God’s intentions by being “crucified with Christ” and “dead to sin” …. and yet still sinning. (In Christ we are “dead to sin” yet we “overcome” that or thwart that by sinning. Is that sinning Christ’s desire for us?)

        When I was a Calvinist, I did like others. I stopped myself from looking at Christ and what He did and said, and focused on developing (or “scaffolding”) a set of philosophical/ theological points. That action renders about 99% of the Bible meaningless.

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  13. CALVINISM’S LANGUAGE MODEL

    Calvinist theologian Wayne Grudem defines reprobation as “the sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, in sorrow deciding not to save them, and to punish them for their sins, and thereby to manifest his justice.”

    A certain village in conformance to its country’s law, which prohibits female newborns, chooses to comply with the law by drowning these new births.

    How the villagers define this: “We gave the baby a bath but unfortunately it didn’t survive”.

    Now compare the villager’s statement to Wayne Grudem’s.
    And once you understand the underlying truth of Calvinism you can see both statements have the same language model.

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    1. br. d

      You said…

      Wayne Grudem defines reprobation as “the sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, in sorrow deciding not to save them, and to punish them for their sins, and thereby to manifest his justice.”

      This is just bad theology.

      Why does Grudem impose “sorrow” on God? So He is sad about it? It is not for His ultimate glory? He does something He does not want to do (we though He always get what He wants??).

      This happens before creation. They are being “punished” for sins they have not committed —but will commit because He determines them to.

      These theologians just do not even hear themselves!

      They stack up their 40-verse scaffolding and leave themselves no choice but to come up with this nonsense. “Well, I know this sounds ridiculous, and non-loving, and illogical, but it ‘must be true’ because we ‘know’ God is ________________ (fill in with key-mis-interpreted verses).”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. br.d
      Let me say one more thing about Grudem adding “sorrow” to God when condemning the vast majority.

      Calvinism: God shows sorrow that He chooses —before time— to intentionally pass over people who do not yet exist for sins that He will determine them to commit.

      Others: Christ shows sorrow at the edge of Jerusalem saying “how often I wanted to gather you under my wings….but you would not come!”

      Which one of those gets to really have the word “sorrow” attached to it?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Brian,

    I could use your insight here.

    Romans 9:11 (NKJV)…..
    (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),

    Romans 9:11 (KJV)….
    (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;).

    Romans 9:11 (NASB)…
    for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but [c]because of Him who calls

    Romans 9:11 (Amp)…..
    and though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything either good or bad, so that God’s purpose [His choice, His election] would stand, not because of works [done by either child], but because of [the plan of] Him who calls them,

    Brian,

    I know this might sound like overkill, but can you please check the original Greek and see which translation fits best. Both the KJV and the NKJV say “the children not yet born” as where the NASB and AMP have “the twins”. Would “the twins” be more accurate, or is it just an assumption on the part of the NASB/Amp based on the surrounding verses?

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    1. Glad to look things up any time, Phillip. I learn something new each time. So always feel free to ask.

      μήπω γὰρ γεννηθέντων μηδὲ πραξάντων τι ἀγαθὸν ἢ κακόν… literally – for not yet having-been-born and not-having-practiced (performed) any-certain-thing good or bad.

      So all translations have added either “children” or “twins”, neither of which are in this verse. The italics in the KJV and NKJV are a tipoff that there is no word in the original.

      The emphasis of this section is to point to the election based on response to God’s promise and not on birthright or works (vs 6).

      Like

      1. Brian,

        Here’s what I was thinking (and thanks for the feedback).

        Romans 9:10-13 (NKJV)…..
        And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

        For me, when I read “for the children not yet being born”, my mind went back to verse 8, or the “children of the promise”, pointing to the children of Israel, or the 12 tribes. If it was “twins” then that would point directly to Jacob and Esau (the reason for my initial inquiry).

        I know this might be a stretch (and irrelevant), but please consider this (we’re just brainstorming, brother).

        “…for the children (of the promise?) not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls…”

        Then follows that with….

        …it was said to her (Rebecca), “The older (Esau) shall serve the younger (Jacob).” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

        Much confusion has been created because of this portion of scripture. “The older shall serve the younger” is prophecy. However, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I have hated” was not stated prior to their births (or before anyone had done good or evil), but comes from Malachi 1:2-3, hundreds of years later. Esau was seen by God as a profane fornicator who rejected God’s grace. Esau despised his inheritance whereas Jacob desired it.

        Genesis 25:30-34 (NIV)…..
        He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

        Hebrews 12:16-17 (NIV)….
        See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

        Now IF verse 11 is (NASB)….
        …for though the twins (Jacob and Esau) were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice (election) would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls…

        Would not Esau have been rejected because of his works (selling/despising his birthright)?

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      2. Here’s my overview of Rom 9 that might help. Being a “child” of promise is reckoned based on faith, not lineage… and you join that elect family through faith.

        Overview of Romans 9
        It would help if the context of Christ-like love for all the lost, demonstrated in Paul from verses 1-3 were recognized before reading the rest. It would also help to note that no verse mentions election before creation in this chapter, but that there is a “seed” that is currently being reckoned (present tense) in verse 6.

        It also would help if it wouldn’t be skipped over so easily that God’s purpose in hardening Pharoah was so that God’s Name would spread over ALL the earth in verse 17. And it would be helpful to read each time the phrases “will have mercy” and “will harden” more fully and literally as He will have mercy/harden with whom He “should” and “wants to” have mercy and harden.

        That should lead the reader to wonder on whom then “should” God have mercy or on whom does God “want” to have mercy. It is easy to discover that He wants His mercy to be on a people who were not His “people” or “beloved” before. This excludes the idea of a loved elect individual person before creation (besides Christ) being read into verses 25-26. But God will have mercy on those on whom He grants His righteousness which they pursued and came to possess through faith (vs 32). In fact He will have some kind of mercy on all (11:32), giving all a sufficient opportunity to hear His call to them to seek Him (10:18).

        The biggest confusion a Calvinist has is in not seeing that God’s sovereign choice of individuals according to Romans 9 was to help fulfill His promise of salvation in Christ, but it did not guarantee their personal salvation or damnation. The prophecy – Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated – did not guarantee the salvation of Jacob or of everyone in Israel, nor did it guarantee the damnation of Esau and of everyone in Edom.
        Here is evidence that Esau later became a believer and that any Edomites were welcome to become believers also.

        Gen 33:4, 10 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept…. “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.”

        Deut 23:7-8 Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.

        Who does Esau remind you of in 33:4? Hint Luke 15:20.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. brianwagner writes, “It also would help if it wouldn’t be skipped over so easily that God’s purpose in hardening Pharaoh was so that God’s Name would spread over ALL the earth in verse 17.”

        God has a purpose for everything He does. Thus, “God works all things after the counsel of His will,…” In saying, “..after the counsel of His will,…” we understand that God works all things after His purpose. So, we seem to agree on a basic doctrine that is emphasized in the example of Pharaoh.

        Then, “And it would be helpful to read each time the phrases “will have mercy” and “will harden” more fully and literally as He will have mercy/harden with whom He “should” and “wants to” have mercy and harden.”

        No problem here either. Sp, when you say, “But God will have mercy on those on whom He grants His righteousness which they pursued and came to possess through faith (vs 32),” that is fine. God can also have mercy on those who do not pursue His righteousness and can quicken their dead spirit so that faith can enter in with the result you noted.

        Then, “In fact He will have some kind of mercy on all (11:32), giving all a sufficient opportunity to hear His call to them to seek Him (10:18).”

        If actually sufficient for one to seek Christ, then sufficient for all, and all should seek Christ. If not, then not sufficient.

        Then, “The prophecy – Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated – did not guarantee the salvation of Jacob or of everyone in Israel, nor did it guarantee the damnation of Esau and of everyone in Edom.”

        What it guarantees is that God can love one person and hate another. Just as God can have mercy on one and harden another. The issue is what does God do in showing love or mercy to one person while hating or hardening another. When we read, “they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;” we can understand that a distinction can be made between those God loves/mercies and those God hates/hardens.

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      4. Dancing again Roger? Oh well… most people will see through you conflation of the meaning of sufficiency with efficiency because of your loyalty to determinism. They will see also your conflating the individual rejection of Esau from being the father of a nation chosen to bear covenant promises with becoming chosen for personal salvation, which you reject that Esau actually received, as evident in his changed character (Gen 33:4, 10).

        Liked by 1 person

      5. brianwagner writes, “most people will see through you conflation of the meaning of sufficiency with efficiency because of your loyalty to determinism.”

        Oh Brian!!!! Now, even you recognize that “sufficiency” is not the issue. The issue is “efficiency.” You seem to recognize that which the Calvinists have recognized. You had said, “He will have some kind of mercy on all (11:32), giving all a sufficient opportunity to hear His call to them to seek Him (10:18).” This is no more than the common grace of the gospel being preached to all. That gospel is “efficient” in some who hear the gospel and not in others. All sufficiency now means is that which Paul tells us, “”For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.”

        Then, “They will see also your conflating the individual rejection of Esau from being the father of a nation chosen to bear covenant promises with becoming chosen for personal salvation, which you reject that Esau actually received, as evident in his changed character (Gen 33:4, 10).”

        There is no conflation. The example of Jacob and Esau is an example used by Paul to explain his earlier statement, “…they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;” The strength of the language used by God – to love Jacob and to hate Esau – points to a greater significance than choosing one to be the father of the nation of Israel. However, we can take it is you see it, “…rejection of Esau from being the father of a nation chosen to bear covenant promises…” That is fine because it then helps us to understand why ” “…they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;” Further the example of Jacob/Esau then leads into Paul’s statement, “He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”

        Whether Esau’s changed disposition toward Jacob points to his salvation is uncertain – it may only be that God had given him riches so that he had no reason to be upset at Jacob. However, like you, I would like to think that such was the case – but we both know human nature.

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      6. Roger… I’m glad you would like to think the Esau did get saved… especially since he showed the same kind of forgiving reaction as the father did to the returning prodigal son, and Jacob called it like looking into the face of God!
        Gen 33:4, 10 NKJV – But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. … And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me.”

        And the gospel does only become efficient in those that hear, understand, and believe it… which is then followed by the new birth as Peter clearly teaches.
        1Pe 1:23, 25 NKJV – …having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, … 25 But the word of the LORD endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

        God gave the sufficient payment and gives the sufficient call and is willing to suffer the loss of being rejected! Praise His Name that He wants such a loving relationship with us, His creation in His image.

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      7. Brian,

        There’s your mistake…..

        “Praise His Name that He wants such a loving relationship with us, His creation in His image.”

        Calvinists believe that He created 98.85% of humanity for destruction, and the others he forces to believe (aka “regenerates” to “irresistibly draw” to Himself). There is no “relationship” involved!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. brianwagner writes, “And the gospel does only become efficient in those that hear, understand, and believe it… which is then followed by the new birth as Peter clearly teaches. “…having been born again…through the word of God…”

        Perhaps, there are some people who can hear, understand, and believe the gospel prior to being born again. Then, there are those who cannot hear, understand, and believe the gospel until after being born again. As long as the person is saved, who cares if they are smart or dumb.

        Then, “God gave the sufficient payment and gives the sufficient call and is willing to suffer the loss of being rejected!”

        Of course, if God doesn’t like being rejected, He can always take more drastic action. The more people saved. the better.

        Like

      9. Rhutchin writes:

        “Perhaps, there are some people who can hear, understand, and believe the gospel prior to being born again. Then, there are those who cannot hear, understand, and believe the gospel until after being born again. As long as the person is saved, who cares if they are smart or dumb.

        Then, “God gave the sufficient payment and gives the sufficient call and is willing to suffer the loss of being rejected!”

        Of course, if God doesn’t like being rejected, He can always take more drastic action. The more people saved. the better.”

        Okay, now I know without a doubt that you are just here to mess with people’s minds. There is no scenario under which your Calvinism, as you have so often argued it, will allow a ‘dead’ person the ability to ‘hear, understand and believe the gospel prior to being born again’. That has to take the cake for the most contradictory to Calvinism statement I have ever heard a so-called Calvinist make. And I have heard some whoppers.

        You also admit to the evil ‘the ends justify the means’ behind Calvinism and every oppression that has ever existed, suggesting that it is okay if God uses force to save people, as long as the outcome is good.

        Did you by chance get fired from your job as a troll? 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      10. Yea, just stop responding to him so he has to move on. At this point, the only thing that comes out of responding to him is satisfying our own desires for rhetorical battle. Is that enough to carry on a conversation? I used to think so, but I no longer do.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Eric,
        Yeah, I stopped responding a long time ago and urge others to do the same.

        For example even today he brought up the worn-out Lydia verse (again!) even though it clearly shows that she was “seeking” God by being in a place of prayer and being a worshiper of God.

        My point is that even one of their (40-ish) “go-to” verses shows that she was obviously exercising some freedom and interest before God moved in a special way (and that is a no-no for them).

        Like

      12. FOH writes, “For example even today he brought up the worn-out Lydia verse (again!) even though it clearly shows that she was “seeking” God by being in a place of prayer and being a worshiper of God.”

        Even you know that many people are “seeking God” who have rejected Christ as that God. Look at all the people running after the “Mother-God” that came out of Korea. You choose to ignore the Scriptures – Lydia was a worshiper of God BUT God still had to open her heart in order for her to respond to the gospel. Why do you ignore the part about God having to open her heart? Do you suppose that we would be reading of the powerful effect of the gospel on Lydia had God NOT opened her heart??

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      13. Roger… once again…like Cornelius, while Lydia was seeking and hearing the gospel with faith, she had her heart opened by regeneration and was immediately saved. Peter was clear. Gospel preaching… Gospel believing… then the new birth. 1Pet 1:23, 25. Your loyalty that keeps you rejecting this clear teaching is sad.

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      14. Brian,
        Yes, this Scripture (amazingly used as a go-to for Calvinists) actually proves the opposite.

        If God intervenes in the extra-Calvinist way by “opening her heart” …. then who was the one dragging her (irresistibly to the water to pray) or the one making her (irresistibly) a worshiper of God?

        This kind of “I know there must be a God out there—doesn’t nature itself attest to that?” thinking exists in a lot of people.

        People inquire.

        They even pray…. “God if you are out there, reveal Yourself to me.”

        We all talk like this. But this is, of course a no-no for Calvinists.

        They have to have man only-and-always hating God at all times until just the moment God regenerates him. But that is just not what the Scripture tells us (Lydia, Cornelius, Zechariah and Elizabeth “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.”).

        It just aint so…..the Calvinist doctrine that all people at all times are God-haters, and every good thing is “foolishness” to them.

        That is a contrived and forced man-made idea that does not fit with Scripture or human experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. FOH writes:

        “It just aint so…..the Calvinist doctrine that all people at all times are God-haters, and every good thing is “foolishness” to them.

        That is a contrived and forced man-made idea that does not fit with Scripture or human experience.”

        I would second that. In fact, I believe that a great number of lost and hurting people, who have been put off by faulty teaching and perverse theology, are longing for and seeking the genuine God who is loving, gracious, merciful and compassionate; who sees them where and just as they are, and desires to give them all they need to make sense of a confusing and seemingly senseless world. They will never find him under Calvinism.

        Liked by 2 people

      16. Hey TS00,

        In light of your comment…. “God….who sees them where and just as they are, and desires to give them ….”

        I was listening to the Christian radio the other day and the lady DJ comes on and says, “Remember God loves you where you are, who you are….” (some such combination that we all hear so often).

        I thought… “That’s right! Preach it lady!”

        Then I realized that a Calvinist cannot say that (even though they do!!). They cannot just blast out on the radio “God loves you!” so that anyone can hear it. I mean, to them, He does NOT love most people…. only just creates them for destruction.

        Oh, MacArthur (living in coveted So California) can say “careful young YRR boys not to go too far saying ‘God does not love’ cuz remember, He makes the sun shine on all….'” But I have often remarked that sun shining on a blind, forced-prostitute, starving in Nepal is not really the same as a season-ticket holding, pool-owning Californian. There just aint no “God loves with His sunshine” cheesiness to the people starving in freezing, slave-labor camps who die at 25 from 3 painful diseases.

        Yeah, yeah, I know rhutchin’s gonna pipe in with “God ‘necessarily’ ordained all this cuz He ‘necessarily’ was omniscient —thus preordaining it all.”

        That is some kinda “Good News.”

        Like

      17. FOH writes, “Then I realized that a Calvinist cannot say that …“God loves you!” so that anyone can hear it. I mean, to them, He does NOT love most people…. only just creates them for destruction.”

        The Universalist owns the “God is love” argument. If God loves a person, God saves the person. You proclaim that God loves everyone and then say that God will not save everyone and do it all in one breath. Do you make up your theology on the fly??

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      18. Rhutchin writes:

        “The Universalist owns the “God is love” argument. If God loves a person, God saves the person. You proclaim that God loves everyone and then say that God will not save everyone and do it all in one breath. Do you make up your theology on the fly??”

        Who knew you had to be a Universalist to believe that God is love? All these centuries, so-called Christianity has been Universalist?

        Basic honesty, and even a little knowledge, reveal, at a minimum, three basic beliefs concerning who is saved and how:

        1) Universalist – God loves all, and, in the end, all will be saved. (Loving Determinism)
        2) Divine Determinism (Calvinism) – God loves and chooses a few to be saved, who will be, and hated and designed the rest to be destroyed, who will be. (Cruel Determinism)
        3) Traditional Christianity – God loves all men, offers salvation to all men, and all who ‘believe’ and trust in him and his offer will be saved. All who refuse to believe, and put their trust in God, will perish. Jesus, the apostles and all believers were/are sent to proclaim the good news of this offer of salvation to all men. (Free Will Non-Determinism)

        This is not rocket science, and I am fairly certain most people understand these three basic historical conceptual systems concerning salvation, (and a few variations thereof). Either God predetermines and forces men to be saved (some or all) or he sets conditions and allows men to make a choice. How Rhutchin can repeatedly pretend to be in ignorance of such basic knowledge is beyond belief.

        Liked by 1 person

      19. ts00 writes, “1) Universalist – God loves all, and, in the end, all will be saved. (Loving Determinism)
        3) Traditional Christianity – God loves all men, offers salvation to all men,…”

        What you do above is to define two types of love.
        1. Universalist – God loves people with a love that saves them from eternal torment – God saves all.
        2. Traditional – God loves people with a love that provides the means for people to decide if they want to escape eternal punishment, so God doesn’t necessarily save anyone. As Dave Hunt might say, “What Love is this?”

        Calvinism is the pretty much the same as your Traditional definition but Calvinist adds that God can, and does, intervene to save some who, for some reason, decide that they are OK with eternal torment.

        Then, “Either God predetermines and forces men to be saved (some or all) or he sets conditions and allows men to make a choice.”

        All three allow for man to make a choice. The distinction among them comes when man makes a bad choice,( i.e., refuses salvation). What does God do in that case? This is not rocket science but basic concepts still seem to escape you.

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      20. TS00,
        He is not in ignorance of it. He deliberately confuses and conflates.

        Anyone with children knows that it is possible to love someone dearly but not be able to force them to love you. You cant continually plead with them…or bail them out.

        Funny….. in my foreign country of service I recently ran into a young man of 20 that I had not seen in a while. We caught up and then the Bible came up, and he threw some gotcha verses out (for no reason, he must have been fishing). I responded with one sentence (one!) and the next thing he did (to me, practically his “uncle” and certainly his elder in life and in the faith) ….the first thing “Oh so you are a universalist now!”

        As if it was me who had changed into something!

        Not only was he bombastically name-calling, but even though it was he who had recently been served the Calvinist kool-aid …. he accused me of shifting my theology!

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      21. FOH, I’m sorry.

        I despise how Calvinism so blinds and desensitizes people that they no longer seek to spread the gospel or have a genuine, sensitive heart to others, but prefer playing ‘gotcha’ games over doctrine.

        Oh that Rhutchin’s cavalier assertion that I have never known difficult circumstances was true. He, neither knows nor cares of the level of pain I know and have known, or what has tested my faith and courage. I know that my own suffering is little, compared to many, and yet it sometimes threatens to overwhelm me. Thankfully, at least I do not have the soul-chilling belief that God sent it all my way, deliberately, thus has no intention of providing assistance or deliverance. I trust in him when I frequently think I can no longer carry on.

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      22. ts00 writes, “I do not have the soul-chilling belief that God sent it all my way, deliberately, thus has no intention of providing assistance or deliverance.”

        All that happens to us is by God’s providence as God exercises absolute control over all that happens to us. Job illustrates this. That does not mean that God has no intention of providing assistance or deliverance. What does God tell us, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” Our problem is that we so often try to do things on our own.

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      23. FOH writes, “….the first thing “Oh so you are a universalist now! … he accused me of shifting my theology!”

        Maybe you were talking like an Universalist using Universalist arguments as you do here. From what I can tell, your theology is all over the board including anything that strikes your fancy without regard to how it all fits together.

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      24. I deeply regret Rhutchin’s unkind and undeserved attack upon you. I can only say I am sorry, and he does not represent my thinking in any way, shape or form.

        Liked by 1 person

      25. ts00 writes, “unkind and undeserved attack upon you.””

        It was neither unkind nor undeserved nor an attack. People communicate through conversation. People react to things others say just as you have done here. FOH made a simple statement, “… he accused me of shifting my theology!” Not really. The person merely reacted to the things FOH was saying and came to a conclusion based on what he was hearing. Did the person really “accuse” or did he just misunderstand? Generally, people can misunderstand what others say and this can be for a variety of reasons. In FOH’s case, it was wrong for him to charge the person with “accusing” as if the person did something wrong – FOH communicated a false impression of himself. It happens all the time.

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      26. It is obvious to me that rhutchin has no children.

        One can love someone….. say, their own child, but one cannot force that child to love back.

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      27. FOH writes, “One can love someone….. say, their own child, but one cannot force that child to love back.”

        Perhaps, you were not much of a parent. Love gives demanding nothing in return. Perhaps a re-reading of 1 Corinthians 13 is in order.

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      28. That was not only unthinkably rude and unkind, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. People are just as apt to reject our love as we are to reject God’s unfailing, perfect love. I refuse to read another comment of yours, as you have gone from illogical and deliberately deceptive to arrogant and ungracious.

        Liked by 1 person

      29. TS00
        Thanks.

        We have had a lot harder things happen to us from friendly fire here on the mission field! But thanks for caring. Yes, for the lad to go for my jugular (you should have seen my wife when he turned on me like that) is becoming more and more common.

        When I think what kind of audacity YRRs have to just say “so you have become a Universalist have you?” to a man that has been an “uncle” to him since birth just shows the (ungracious) zeal they have.

        When told that they make accusations and hurtful comments, often they reply with “the truth hurts, man!” Very little grace extended if a person does not see it their way quickly. I was viscous in my Calvinist days and have testified to that on other pages (and repented).

        As per you seeing that rhutchin is only on here to mess with us, I am glad.

        There is no intention of dialog on his part. Agreed. Ignore him. He may claim that we do that “cuz you dont know how to state your case.” Oh well…. ignore that too.

        Br.d says we should keep at it— and not let rh have the last word. I disagree. We have put lots of good, biblical, graceful statements on these pages and that alone will help people be able to see past the YRR aggression. The historical stuff br.d has put up by various authors is very helpful, but not the little tit-for-tat shots across the bow. Too many words clogging up the page (which is rh’s intent I think) so that people cannot find our helpful points.

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      30. FOH writes, “As per you seeing that rhutchin is only on here to mess with us, I am glad.”

        Actually, I am here to see if you just despise Calvinism or have something substantive to offer in its place. So far, it seems that you just despise Calvinism and come here to vent – so I am giving you opportunity to vent.

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      31. ts00 writes, “…I believe that a great number of lost and hurting people, who have been put off by faulty teaching and perverse theology, are longing for and seeking the genuine God…”

        If they are seeking God. and not god, they know He can be found in the Scriptures. If they are not looking into the Scriptures, then they will be more likely to succumb to faulty teaching and perverse theology. This is nothing to worry about because, “…God who began a good work in them will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” In addition, there is no need to worry “…for it is God who is at work in them, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Things may seem confused to them at first, but as they grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ, they will mature and grow stronger in faith. Even in real life, the teen-age years can be traumatic.

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      32. Rhutchin writes:

        “Even in real life, the teen-age years can be traumatic.”

        Freudian slip – ‘real life’. At least subconsciously, he knows that his Calvinist system, with all of its illogical pretensions, is a made up world.

        That is what many who comment here eventually realized, and it is why they seek to share the ‘real world’ with those who may yet be under the spell of Calvinism’s imaginary one, in which good is evil, force is freedom and choice is an illusion.

        Liked by 1 person

      33. ts00 writes, “At least subconsciously, he knows that his Calvinist system, with all of its illogical pretensions, is a made up world. ”

        Real life is one where God, as sovereign, rules over his creation and people still live with trauma. Maybe that is an imaginary world in your mind, but many books have been written about the difficult circumstances people go through that challenge their faith in God. Had they had a choice, they would have chosen otherwise. Consider yourself fortunate not to have experienced such things.

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      34. brianwagner writes, “…while Lydia was seeking and hearing the gospel with faith, she had her heart opened by regeneration and was immediately saved..”

        Perhaps you could cite the Scripture that gives your account. NASB has, “a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” There is no statement that Lydia was “…hearing the gospel with faith…” That amounts to eisegesis on your part. What we do know is that Lydia’s response to the gospel came after God opened her heart – after being regenerated.

        We do agree that God’s act to “open her heart” is regeneration. So, we seem to agree that regeneration is required before one can respond to the gospel. Thus, we have this order: God regenerates (opens the heart) – the person responds to the gospel – the person can be declared saved. In Ephesians, Paul gives more detail of the person’s response, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession,…”

        Then, ” Peter was clear. Gospel preaching… Gospel believing… then the new birth. 1Pet 1:23, 25. ”

        In 1 Peter we read:

        21 Through [Christ] you believe in God….
        22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth…
        23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
        24 For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
        25 but the word of the Lord stands for ever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

        Peter tells us that the Holy Spirit, whom we know from John 3 to be the instrumental means for the new birth, uses the gospel to bring about the new birth. So, adding the information from the account of Lydia, we have the new birth coming after God opens a peron’s heart. We now have two pieces to the process of regeneration – God opens the heart; the Holy Spirit initiates a new birth. Form Peter we see that the new birth is the reason given by Peter for believers to believe in God and purify themselves (contrary to the order you provide – perhaps you misread Peter’s argument.)..

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      35. Nope… Roger… I know you see the order I gave. Hearing the gospel with understanding and willingness to believe… Lydia was “listening”… to what? Then the Lord opened her heart.

        Very sad.

        Liked by 1 person

      36. Brian,
        You are so long suffering to keep working with him!

        EVEN IF one granted a Calvinist the idea that the Lord regenerated Lydia (is that what “opened her heart” mean?)…. one still has to explain how she got to the river to pray and why she is called a worshiper of God.

        If God-hating is all she has before regeneration (the Calvinist model) then why does the eternal Word of God call her a “worshiper of God”?

        I mean…technically it should say (since she is not regenerated, she is dead, a full-time God-hater, and all things are “foolishness to her”)…

        Lydia a God-hater, went down to the river where people go to curse God…..

        Liked by 1 person

      37. FOH writes, “…. one still has to explain how she got to the river to pray and why she is called a worshiper of God….Lydia a God-hater, went down to the river where people go to curse God…..”

        I Matthew 15, Jesus said, “in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” In Acts 18, “the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, Saying, This fellow persuade men to worship God contrary to the law.”

        That Lydia was a “worshiper of God” means that Lydia had attached herself to the Jews and was worshiping God according to the law. What does Paul say about the Jews focus on the law? “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”

        Lydia was in need of salvation despite being a “worshiper of God” and God began this work in Lydia – “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” You still wear your blinders and ignore a basic question – Would Lydia have been saved without God opening her heart?

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      38. brianwagner writes, “Hearing the gospel with understanding and willingness to believe… Lydia was “listening”… to what? Then the Lord opened her heart.”

        Lot of speculation here. “listening” here as the other women would have done also. There is nothing here to suggest anything other than the physical ability to hear. Take away the last part of the verse, “…and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul,” and Lydia goes home with the other women and continues her life as she had always done. If you are correct that Lydia had both “understanding and willingness to believe” then what was the purpose for God to open her heart – what was missing? You read more into the verse than is there and you cite no other Scriptures to support your contention – that speaks of eisegesis on your part. Why even go there?

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      39. Your memory is failing, Roger … you forgot that we agree that “open heart” means regeneration. We just disagree on what regeneration means.

        Like Peter clearly taught… hearing the gospel… believing it… regeneration. Do I need to give you his verses again? Did you forget them too? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      40. Brian,
        It is really no use but you keep trying!

        They just cannot see that (1) on the one hand they make a huge deal out of Rom 3:10-11 (too dead to even listen, move, think), but (2) on the other hand they say “sure she was down at the river to pray and listen, cuz she was a ‘worshiper’ of God. so what?”

        Ya cant have it both ways……

        Too dead….corpse, only-God–hater (not seeking, only spewing venomous cursing of God) is what Lydia had to be.

        In order for her to be “seeking” down at the river and to be called a “worshiper of God” she would have had to have been “regenerated” (made alive to go chose God—-they would say).

        But then….what was the opening of her heart?

        If we say that was the “regeneration” then why does the eternal Word of God call her a “worshiper of God”?

        It should be a “hater of God” (not regenerated right?)

        But it is because they forget how strongly they stand on the (misinterpreted) “no one seeks God” verse…..only to conveniently bypass it when they see a Cornelius or Lydia actually seeking God.

        Liked by 1 person

      41. FOH writes, “If we say that was the “regeneration” then why does the eternal Word of God call her a “worshiper of God”? ”

        Because, she apparently had been attracted to the Jewish religion – perhaps, she was a Jew – and sought salvation through her works (i.e., in obeying the law). However, being a “worshiper of God” did not save her, did it – and never would, would it?

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      42. brianwagner writes, “Your memory is failing, Roger ”

        Oh, Brian!!! Just when I think you are getting a little stuffy, you show that you have a keen sense of humor.

        Then, “… you forgot that we agree that “open heart” means regeneration. We just disagree on what regeneration means.”

        I think we might agree with Vine’s Dictionary on this. However, you are correct that we disagree on the significance of regeneration.

        Then, “Like Peter clearly taught… hearing the gospel… believing it… regeneration. Do I need to give you his verses again?”

        I found it–

        22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
        23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.
        25 …this is the word which was preached to you.

        The phrase, “being born again,” refers to a current condition derived from a past action. Based on John 3, we know that this regeneration resulted from a preceding work of the Holy Spirit. The question then arises as to the proper sense of v22 where Peter’s audience has “in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren,…” Your claim is that a depraved sinner can be obedient to the truth thus meriting regeneration. My position is that the depraved sinner must be regenerated in order to exhibit obedient to the truth. I guess we disagree on this, too,

        v20 has Peter telling his audience, “Jesus was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you…” A fine Calvinist statement.

        Then, “Did you forget them too?”

        LOL – Not this time.

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      43. Very funny, Roger… “this regeneration resulted from a preceding work of the Holy Spirit.” … Would that “preceding work” happen to be called “regeneration” also by you?

        I can’t stop laughing! Now you want another regeneration to be the cause of the regeneration that Peter speaks about which happens after hearing and believing the gospel. Really?

        And you know that the “work” of believing has no merit, nor is it a necessary cause of regeneration. It is just a condition that when freely met according to the God’s sovereign plan is followed by God giving the new birth into His family as He promised.

        Liked by 1 person

      44. Brian,
        Conditions!

        Condition: Kill a lamb and apply the blood on the door posts.

        Condition: Find the bronze serpent on the pole (in the huge camp Israel) and look and live

        Condition: build an ark (100 years)

        all were types of the salvation of the cross.

        The solution AND conditions laid down by God’ sovereign plan.

        Liked by 1 person

      45. brianwagner writes, “Would that “preceding work” happen to be called “regeneration” also by you?”

        Perhaps, we might agree that the new birth spoken of in John 3 and in1 Peter are the same event and can be labeled “regeneration.” Earlier, you referred to God’s “opening the heart” as regeneration. I thought that sounded good. What we then have is a regeneration that involves more than one action – the Holy Spirit initiates the new birth followed by God opening the heart. Those actions open the door for one to respond to the preaching of the gospel.

        Then, “…you know that the “work” of believing has no merit,…”

        It is a work if it obligates God to act in a specific way. Such was the law where God said, do such and such and I will do such and such. By works of the law, the Jews earned God’s blessing. However, believing is given to a person by God, “…no one can come to (believe in) Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” (John 6) “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,…” (Philippians 1). This is by faith per Ephesians 2. God confirmed the person’s faith (or believing) through the sealing of the Holy Spirit. So, we see that the Holy Spirit begins the process (this is the work that God begins in a person) and then seals the deal.

        Then, “…nor is it a necessary cause of regeneration.”

        Again, the issue is to explain how a depraved sinner can believe when his nature is to be opposed to God (“the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;”) absent the renewal that comes with the new birth.

        Then, “…It is just a condition that when freely met according to the God’s sovereign plan is followed by God giving the new birth into His family as He promised.”

        A condition that is impossible without the new birth – something has to change to free the person from sin if your “freely” is to work.

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      46. Conflation…stacking the deck… twisting clear Scriptures away from their normal meaning. You must have a very hard time Roger rejecting the truth. Does your loyalty to determinism being you that much satisfaction that you don’t mind rejecting the obvious?

        God gives the ability to believe as you know to everyone. He gives the opportunity to seek His mercy in which they could then put their trust. Their flesh will never satisfy God, but their spirit can respond in faith which is not “coming” but before “coming” and continues after it.

        But we’ve been over this ground before. It just is very sad to me that you harden yourself against what I know you plainly see. Take the last word in this thread if you wish.

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      47. brianwagner writes, “God gives the ability to believe as you know to everyone. ”

        That’s fine to start with that presupposition. However, if all have the ability to believe, then all should believe or all should refuse to believe. It is not possible to get some believing and some not believing – unless something more than belief is required. If something more is needed, then an ability to believe really means nothing given that all are given that ability.

        Then, “…their spirit can respond in faith which is not “coming” but before “coming” and continues after it.”

        Do you understand the spirit to have died with Adam’s sin? If not, then we have a point of disagreement. If yes, then we can pursue this issue further.

        Then, “…we’ve been over this ground before.”

        Well, then I have have forgotten your positions on these specific issues – apparently, they went over my head. Can you refresh my memory?

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      48. Roger… the spirit of a man is dead (separated from the life of God) in trespasses and sins… which means it is a functioning spirit with the ability also to express faith (remember the parable of the sower). All that is needed is the truth and the opportunity for the will to exercise that faith or refuse to exercise it in that truth. Now do you recall?

        Liked by 1 person

      49. Brian
        A great example of the “dead-but -able” is the Luke 15 Prodigal Son who was called “dead” twice” by Christ.

        Also the Wedding Banquet (Matt 22). They were able but just didnt want to (even killed the messengers) .

        Plenty of the parables are intended to address exactly your point. But of course they have no meaning in a Calvinistic context.

        Liked by 1 person

      50. brianwagner writes, “…the spirit of a man is dead…which means it is a functioning spirit…”

        That seems off to me. I would link a dead spirit to a non-functioning spirit.

        Then, ‘…with the ability also to express faith (remember the parable of the sower).”

        The expression of faith in the parable seemed to be tied to the “good soil” that was necessary for faith to flourish. I would liken the “dead spirit” to “bad soil.”

        then, “All that is needed is the truth and the opportunity for the will to exercise that faith or refuse to exercise it in that truth. Now do you recall?”

        Kinda. You can be so Calvinistic at times (e.g., “opportunity” and what that entails) especially when you generalize.

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      51. EK writes, “At this point, the only thing that comes out of responding to him is satisfying our own desires for rhetorical battle. Is that enough to carry on a conversation?”

        Oh, Eric!!! As an alternative, why not start responding with substance and cut out all the personal opinion pieces.

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      52. ts00 writes, “There is no scenario under which your Calvinism, as you have so often argued it, will allow a ‘dead’ person the ability to ‘hear, understand and believe the gospel prior to being born again’.”

        You are correct. We see you, and others, always arguing against Calvinism but never for a position different than Calvinism. I am willing to allow for such speculation as non-Calvinists imply if they want to try to support it. Now, you complain about that.

        Then, “You also admit to the evil ‘the ends justify the means’ behind Calvinism and every oppression that has ever existed, suggesting that it is okay if God uses force to save people, as long as the outcome is good.”

        I don’t think I have done this. God does use force sometimes – the flood of Noah, destruction of Sodom – but normally, God just lets depraved people run loose without restraint.

        I don’t see your issue here. I am perfectly willing to allow that positions opposed to Calvinism could be true and if you want to argue that to be the case, have at it. Your problem is that you can’t provide sound Scriptural arguments for alternatives to Calvinism. Look at your recent effort to define “Libertarian free will.” You can’t define basic terms that you need if you want to argue a position other than Calvinism.

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      53. Brian,

        You said… “The biggest confusion a Calvinist has is in not seeing that God’s sovereign choice of individuals according to Romans 9 was to help fulfill His promise of salvation in Christ, but it did not guarantee their personal salvation or damnation.”

        I agree (to a point). I’ll clarify later.

        Back to my original question.

        If Romans 9:11 is read according to the NASB….

        “…for though the twins (Jacob and Esau) were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice (election) would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls…”

        If Jacob was chosen over Esau because Esau despised his birthright and sold it (Jacob now owned the birthright legally), how is that Esau lost/forfeited his election because of his works?

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      54. Phillip… I’m not sure of your question, but I think many confuse Jacob’s stealing of the birthright blessing with somehow losing out on being chosen to continue the covenantal blessing. It was never intended for Esau, and I don’t believe Isaac had the authority to give the covenantal blessing, which God gave to Jacob later. Isaac may not even have thought he was giving the covenantal blessing. Jacob certainly did not continue the practice, unless you want to think Ephraim is the chosen line! 😉

        I do believe God took the firstborn blessing away from Esau because of his profane nature, not the covenantal blessing. But I also believe that Esau came under the benefits of the covenantal blessing by God in his forgiveness of Jacob and his submission to what God was doing in Jacob’s life.

        Jacob came under the benefits of the covenantal blessing even before he was saved… which probably happened at the Jabbok. And he continued to be blessed, though his faith really didn’t grow that strong in any memorable way until he was about to die (Heb 11).

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      55. My fault, brother. I am struggling in my wording.

        The original question is regarding Romans 9: 10-13 when it reads….

        And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

        Not to scare you to death, brother, but I need you to think like me. 🙂 You believe the children of the promise is regarding salvation thru faith. I believe the children of the promise is referring to lineage, the children of Israel, or the Israelites. So put on my shoes for a minute and reflect on the following….

        IF (NASB)….
        for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls

        The “twins” would definitely be referring to Jacob and Esau. But if that were the case, then it would seem Esau forfeited his election due to his works.

        But….

        IF (NKJV)…
        for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls..

        If, however, Paul is reflecting back to “the children of the promise”, or Israelites, then that election would still stand. Its like a Paul was saying… “Okay. We have talked about Isaac and Ishmael. We are talking about Jacob and Esau, but these are not the children of promise, because they haven’t been born yet.”

        I said earlier this might be a stretch, even irrelevant. But it just seems to me that if Romans 11 is about the “twins”, then election was based on Esau’s works (if read in context).

        Does this make more sense now?

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      56. I think my feet are too small for your shoes on this one Phillip! 😉

        It appears you are saying that Esau was one of the elect and then lost it because of his disobedience. You have already read my mind on Esau. I think he got saved and became one of the elect in Christ, and rightly related to the covenant made with the elect family of Jacob.

        You do know that Abraham had other children after Isaac! Right? Where do they fit in to your election scheme? David’s seed was chosen to bring in the Messiah… but being part of that chosen lineage did not guarantee personal salvation to all the kings of Judah. Some of them are in hell, I believe, for Scripture’s verdict on them and their lives.

        Paul gives the wording of the two Messianic promises to Sarah and Rebecca. It is the relationship of faith in those promises that makes one reckoned as the “seed”/saved, not just be a carrier of the promise or fulfillment of an aspect of the promise which is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

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      57. Brian,

        Size 10, just so you know. 🙂

        You said…. “It appears you are saying that Esau was one of the elect and then lost it because of his disobedience.”

        Well, that would be the simple reading of the text, and the story line, if “the children not yet born” was referring to the twins, Jacob and Esau. If, however, Paul was referring back to “the children of the promise”, aka Israelites, then “no”.

        Again, the scriptures are silent on the word/phrase “the elect” until Israel came into existence. That distinction was reserved for them, and them only. Even Abraham, was not among “the elect” though he is the father of the Jewish people.

        Your other observations meet my own. The descendants of Ishmael (and offspring of Keturah) and Esau could still obtain salvation (thru faith in God). I think Esau came to know God and was saved (but never became “the elect” in Christ) 🙂

        And like I have always said, don’t confuse election with salvation. I think most Israelites, being told they were the elect of God, thought that guaranteed them their right standing before God. Paul was warning his Jewish audience that they still had to turn to Christ if they wanted to be saved. Their “election” didn’t guarantee them their salvation.

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      58. Phillip writes:
        “And like I have always said, don’t confuse election with salvation. I think most Israelites, being told they were the elect of God, thought that guaranteed them their right standing before God. Paul was warning his Jewish audience that they still had to turn to Christ if they wanted to be saved. Their “election” didn’t guarantee them their salvation.”

        To this I say a hearty ‘Amen’. But what so many did not understand, and yet do not understand, is that when Jesus declared ‘It is finished’ he was bringing to a close the work for which Israel had been appointed. All was accomplished, through and in spite of the rebellion, sin and faithlessness of the ‘chosen people’. The work of God, to bring about atonement for sin and salvation to all who would believe was accomplished, and any talk of ‘Israel’ as a distinct entity with a unique plan and future was done, once and for all. What is assured is that the eternal blessings that Israel was instructed to offer as a promise of God to give all men hope had now been made sure, and that the way was open to each and every individual to have peace with God – with no distinction as to their nation, race, sex or history.

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      59. brianwagner writes, “So all translations have added either “children” or “twins”, neither of which are in this verse. The italics in the KJV and NKJV are a tipoff that there is no word in the original.”

        The previous verse refers to Rebecca having conceive so the context is pretty obvious and one would obviously read that context into v11 as “For that which had been conceived in Rebecca being not yet born…”

        Then, “The emphasis of this section is to point to the election based on response to God’s promise and not on birthright or works (vs 6)’

        Sound eisegesis! Your eisegesis notwithstanding, election is “that the purpose of God might stand.” It is the “according to election purpose of God.” One might speculate, as you do, that God’s purpose entails a response to God’s promise and speculation always makes for good eisegesis.

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      60. Roger… read the whole context chapter 9-11 and compare with chapter 4 at the end of it if you don’t think faith in the promises of God was His purpose for choosing individuals and the nation of Israel to bring forth Christ. No eisegesis is to be seen in that interpretation except for those who can’t see the obvious context.

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      61. brianwagner writes, “read the whole context chapter 9-11 and compare with chapter 4 at the end of it if you don’t think faith in the promises of God was His purpose for choosing individuals and the nation of Israel to bring forth Christ.”

        Faith separates humanity into two groups – those chosen by God and those not chosen by God. The issue is whether God chooses certain people to whom He gives faith or God chooses certain people after they prove themselves by exercising faith (however that faith is gotten). I don’t see a difference between a “response to God’s promise” and a “work” in Paul’s argument – “…though the twins…had not done anything good or bad,…” How is “a response” of any form not doing something that God could call “good or bad”?

        I like your statement, “…faith in the promises of God was His purpose for choosing individuals and the nation of Israel to bring forth Christ” Given that Israel was notorious for its lack of faith – had God not reserved 7,000 in the time of Elijah, would not Elijah have been correct – it would seem that lack of faith in the promises of God was the basis for God to choose Israel to bring forth Christ.

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      62. Roger, as usual you have missed the point. Jacob and Israel were chosen to carry the promises and be the progenitors of their fulfillment – the Christ – so that others, including them, could individually have the opportunity to put faith in those promises and their fulfillment – the Christ – and through faith be joined to the chosen one, becoming chosen unto salvation at that point.

        Chosen to bear the promises – one elect group with saved and unsaved individuals in it. Not even based on personal faith.

        Chosen in Christ through faith. Not before creation, but after expressing faith in those promises.

        One of these days it will dawn on you that this is what Scripture clearly teaches, and you’ll see it, when you take off your deterministic glasses. 😉 I pray for that day and that you’ll have the humility to embrace it.

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      63. Rhutchin writes:
        “Faith separates humanity into two groups – those chosen by God and those not chosen by God. The issue is whether God chooses certain people to whom He gives faith or God chooses certain people after they prove themselves by exercising faith (however that faith is gotten). I don’t see a difference between a “response to God’s promise” and a “work” in Paul’s argument – “…though the twins…had not done anything good or bad,…” How is “a response” of any form not doing something that God could call “good or bad”?”

        I am convinced, whenever Calvinists attempt to assert that faith, if not a gift from God is a ‘work’, that they have never read any of Romans apart from chapter 9. Romans 3-5 explains in great detail that faith, though being man’s required response to be judged as righteous, is yet not a work:

        “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’. Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.”

        Note how Paul explains, using ‘believe’ and ‘faith’ interchangeably, that it was this belief/faith that was ‘reckoned as’ righteousness, thus granting Abraham the promised gift to be given to the righteous. The gift is not faith. The gift, which was given IN RESPONSE TO Abraham’s faith, was forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Calvinists deliberately ignore this clearly stated passage, and falsely insist that faith is the gift of God, when plainly faith must be of man in order to be ‘reckoned as’ anything. It is perfect righteousness that no man can attain, thus his faith must be reckoned as, or given value in place of, righteousness by God.

        Liked by 1 person

      64. Rhutchin writes…. “The previous verse refers to Rebecca having conceive so the context is pretty obvious and one would obviously read that context into v11 as “For that which had been conceived in Rebecca being not yet born…”

        First, why is it that every time I quote rhutchin I have this urge to use “comic” in my font?

        Anyway…..

        Romans 9:10-13 (NKJV)….
        And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

        My original point/inquiry is that if “the children” in verse 11 is referring to the children of promise (aka: Israelites) then there is no issue. IF, however, the term “twins” is correct, then how, based on scripture, can we say the election of Jacob over Esau wasn’t based on works? Look at it this way….

        “…for the twins, that is Jacob and Esau, not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls…”

        Remember, “election” here is the future recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant (a land, people, and government). If Jacob was elected over Esau, because Esau despised and sold his birthright (that’s at least how it comes across based on the scriptures we have), then that is Conditional Election (sorry, Calvinists).

        However, if Paul was referring back to the nation of Israel, then we have…

        “….for the children (Israelites/Jews) not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls….”

        Then that aligns itself with the rest of scripture.

        Now, unfortunately for our Calvinist brothers (ahem) “the older shall serve the younger” is prophecy, not predestination. And “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated” isn’t even prophecy since that is based on Esau hating his birthright/inheritance.

        Brian, sorry if I opened a can of worms. That wasn’t my intent. Its just when I saw “twins” (NASB) and “election” in the same verse that it raised an eyebrow. Either way, thanks for the feedback. You’re appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

      65. phillip writes, ‘My original point/inquiry is that if “the children” in verse 11 is referring to the children of promise (aka: Israelites) then there is no issue. IF, however, the term “twins” is correct, then how, based on scripture, can we say the election of Jacob over Esau wasn’t based on works? Look at it this way….”

        Whether, “children” or “twins,” it is introduced by the translator for context and carries the context of the previous verse – referring to that which was conceived in Rebecca. That which was conceived in Rebecca is now the subject of God’s election – one is elect and one is not. You are correct to identify Jacob with the children of promise. Even as Isaac was a child of promise, so Jacob is a child of promise and Esau was not. This was determined by God and not by any unique characteristic or work of Jacob or Esau. The children of promise – Isaac, Jacob,…etc. does not refer to the physical descendants of Jacob (or the physical nation of Israel) because of v6: “…they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;” So, there are the Israelites – all the physical descendants of Israel – and then there are the “children of promise” who are God’s elect among the physical descendants of Israel.

        Then, “Remember, “election” here is the future recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant (a land, people, and government).”

        Not so. Paul first refers to the “Israelites (the recipients of the land, etc.), to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,…” (v4). He then identifies a subgroup of those who received the land when he says, “they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;” (v6). The children of Isaac and Jacob become the nation of Israel and Paul now explains that within the nation of Israel are the children of promise – these are the subject of God’s election.

        So, we have two views on Romans 9. Your view is that Paul is talking about the physical nation of Israel; my view is that Paul is talking about a group within the physical nation of Israel that Paul identifies as “children of promise.” The children of promise are first Identified with Isaac, then with Jacob, and then with a group within the nation of Israel. On this basis, Paul argues, “…it is not as though the word of God has failed….”

        So, when you say, “However, if Paul was referring back to the nation of Israel, then we have…” you are going in a different direction than Paul.

        Then, ‘And “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated” isn’t even prophecy since that is based on Esau hating his birthright/inheritance.”

        Yet, Paul argues just the opposite, “…though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, …” and this negates any consideration of Esau hating his birthright.

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      66. Rhutchin,

        In the words of Yoda…

        “You must unlearn what you have learned”

        I know its hard, brother, but until you break free from the shackles of Calvinism, so much of scripture will only continue to elude you.

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  15. Brian,

    You said…. “Here’s my overview of Rom 9 that might help. Being a “child” of promise is reckoned based on faith, not lineage… and you join that elect family through faith.”

    I see it just the opposite, brother. Romans 9 is all about lineage. “The children of the promise” is regarding the Abrahamic covenant. Israel is His elect (Isaiah 45:4). The church, those of faith, make up “His body” (Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:18). There’s the distinction. Now can a Jew (His elect) become part of the church (His body)? Of course! We just disagree on who the elect are, brother. And that’s okay.

    Here’s my overview of the first part of Romans 9….

    Romans 9:1-6 (NKJV)…..
    I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel…

    In an attempt to prove that God’s privileges and promises made to Israel up to and including the coming of the Messiah had not failed (the opening topic found in verses 4 and 5), Paul is going to outline that heritage to his Jewish audience (to whom he is speaking directly). Verse 6 states that not all of Israel is descended from Israel, in this case Jacob. At the time of Paul’s ministry, the nation of Israel is still a divided kingdom. So this “Israel” is referring to the Northern Kingdom, or the House of Israel, and its relation to the Southern Kingdom, or the House of Judah.

    Romans 9:7-9 (NKJV)…..
    ….nor are they all children (of promise) because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”

    First, we should understand that “the promise” is not speaking of individual salvation, but rather the promise that God made with Abraham, or the Abrahamic covenant. This covenant included, but not limited to, the promise of a land, a people, and a government (a King and a kingdom).

    Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV)….
    Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you,
    And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

    This promise was passed on to Isaac.

    Genesis 26:2-5 (NKJV)….
    Then the LORD appeared to him (Isaac) and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

    Second, we see the comparison between two sons, here, Ishmael and Isaac. “Those who are the children of the flesh” is speaking of Abraham’s attempt, thru the flesh, or man’s efforts, to fulfill God’s promise thru Hagar.

    This is confirm in Galatians 4:23… “But he who was of the bondwoman (Hagar) was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman (Sara) through promise.”

    Because Abraham knew Sarah was barren, he concluded the only way to have descendants (bloodline) would be thru someone other than Sarah. But God’s promise of giving him descendants would be thru Sarah and this is stated in verse 9. Next….

    Romans 9:10-13 (NKJV)….
    And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

    Now, the blessing promised to Abraham, and given to Isaac, was passed down to Jacob….

    Genesis 28:1-4 (NIV)….
    So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.”

    So we see the passing down and fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham. The children of the promise (a land, a people, and a government) were to come thru Isaac, not Ishmael. The children of the promise would come thru Jacob, not Esau. And the promise of the coming Messiah, the Savior of the world, would be fulfilled thru Judah, not Israel.

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    1. True… but the children of promise are not only by lineage nor by lineage only, but by God’s choice through faith. And we are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s seed through faith.

      Galatians 3:7 NKJV — Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
      Galatians 3:29 NKJV — And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

      Romans 9:24-25 NKJV — even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.”

      You may not like using the word “elect” for different groups and individuals for different purposes… but the NT clearly does… much like other words – justify, world, faith. Context helps identify meaning.

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      1. Brian,

        Regarding both verses from Galatians.

        True. But Gentiles are not, and never will be, the natural branches (the physical descendants). We get grafted in, but we get what we get only because of the promises God made with Israel. We are Abraham’s children (via faith). We are not Israel’s children (His elect).

        Now regarding Romans 9:24-25, even I struggle with these verses. For reference, Paul quotes both from Isaiah and Hosea.

        Hosea 1:10-11 (CEB)….
        Yet the number of the people of Israel (the House of Israel/the Northern Kingdom) will be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them (the House of Israel), “You are not my people,” it will be said to them (the House of Israel), “Children of the living God.” The people of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) and the people of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) will be gathered together, and they will choose one head. They will become fruitful in the land. The day will be a wonderful one for Jezreel.

        Romans 9:27-29 (NKJV; referencing Isaiah 10:22-23 and Isaiah 1:9)….
        Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel (the House of Israel): “Though the number of the children of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.” And as Isaiah said before: “Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed (a physical bloodline), We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah.”

        I just don’t see Gentiles (non-Jews) in these two examples, so I am not certain what Paul was/is alluding to in Romans 9:24-25.

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      2. Phillip, it seems to me that you are desperate to recreate the great division which Jesus, and especially his apostles, set out to destroy. Beginning with the tearing of the veil, the children of faith were instructed, again and again, that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Even though you do appear to grasp that the nation of Israel – a very limited number of the lineage of Abraham – were ‘elected’ or selected to a particular task, and were granted very great privileges and responsibilities, you appear to ignore the teaching of scripture that they not only did not understand that ‘task’ of bringing light to the nations, they embraced the exact opposite: a belief that they alone were God’s ‘chosen people’, that the special work to which they had been called made them irrevocably God’s children and that the work of Jesus was not necessary for them, as they had the law and the promises.

        It seems to me that if one reads scripture from a hermeneutic that demands a unique work, agenda and promised future for one subset of the Body of Christ – in spite of all that scripture says to the contrary – one cannot help but misunderstand all that is written concerning Israel. Anyone who does not understand how much our presuppositions limit our thinking and understanding simply does not understand how the human mind works. This faulty hermeneutic forces one to basically ignore that not all who are called Israel are Israel, that there is now no more ‘Jew’ and ‘Gentile’ and the weight of the New Testament which urges believers to oneness in Christ, with no division as to how they become a part of ‘spiritual Israel’, (the kingdom of God) and the future for which they equally look to with great hope and expectation.

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      3. But TS00 Jesus is returning to Jerusalem some day and His 12 apostles will rule over the 12 tribes of Israel. Right?

        Matthew 19:28 NKJV — So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

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      4. I’m no expert, but it would seem to me that ‘judging’ and ‘ruling’ are not the same thing? I get a different picture in my mind of these men being called to ‘judge’ those shared their heritage, who had the same offer of grace but clung to the law, than from some kind of lasting period of ‘ruling’. No doubt people have all sorts of interpretations of various prophesies, but, no, I do not personally imagine that Israel is going to be reestablished and differentiated from the other nations of the world. Indeed, I do not believe there will any longer be ‘nations’ once Jesus returns and the judgment is completed. I have heard so many things read into these prophetic passages that I tend to not stake a firm claim on what I ‘believe’ is literal and what is not. It seems to me that such things are ‘guesses’ at best, and we will understand exactly what was meant some day. The issue that troubles me is when people insist that God is going to once again introduce division and categories into his body, which I simply do not believe will ever happen. Once the foretold judgement of past things takes place, which, naturally, concerns who and what we were in our days on earth, I do not believe that such things will have any place or meaning. But that is my humble opinion, no more.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. But he clearly mentions Gentiles in 9:24… so there is no allusion… just a clear statement. And Galatians calls us “seed”. The issue remains in your not seeing two elect groups, imo… one a nation, and one a spiritual seed. Not sure I want to go over all that ground again though! 😉

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      6. Brian,

        Here is a possible alternative.

        From the NASB…..

        “…even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”

        Is it possible that this “from among the Gentiles” is not referring to Gentiles themselves, but rather to the House of Israel that had been scattered among the Gentiles?

        Ezekiel 36:19 (ESV)…..
        I scattered them (the House of Israel) among the nations (Gentiles), and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them.

        Ezekiel 37:21 (NKJV)….
        “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;

        Amos 9:8-9 (NKJV)….
        “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” Says the LORD “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel (the northern kingdom) among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.”

        This option would at least align itself perfectly with Paul’s use of both Hosea and Isaiah.

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      7. That is a stretch Phillip… ignoring the contrast with Jew and Paul’s consistent use of Jew and Gentile throughout Romans. I’m still not sure why it makes such a difference to you to refuse to see two elect groups, one a nation with believers and nonbelievers set aside for the moment and one only believers. What’s the harm in the two elect groups view? Thx.

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      8. Brian,

        Well, brother, it is just how my little depraved mind works. For a little background, my degree is in finance, with a minor in Mathematics. So everything for me has to fit perfectly together. I never saw detail I didn’t like. So maybe my thinking is both a blessing and a curse. 🙂

        And, though a stretch, it is at least feasible.

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    2. Brian,

      Also, I agree with your comment to TS00. I “shutter” when I hear/read another brother suggest that God is through/finished with the nation of Israel.

      (How are you guys able to leave comments directly under the intended comment, while I am forced to go to the bottom of the thread? Am I missing something (again)?

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  16. TS00 (dear brother),

    Galatians 3:28 (NKJV)….
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    If we take this verse to say that there is no distinction at all regarding race, economic status, or gender, then why do the scriptures say that pastors must be the husbands (men) of but one wife (women)? What about Husbands (men) being the head of the house? Why would the church preach against same-sex marriage? Clearly, there are distinctions. Yet we see many denominations today doing just that. Allowing women to preach and accepting same-sex marriage. God says “No. No. No.”

    What Galatians 3:28 is telling me is that salvation is available to all. It is not based on race, wealth, or gender.

    Now, I am aware that Israel, as a nation, dropped the ball regarding their calling and election. The Jewish leadership rejected God’s purpose for themselves (Luke 7:30) believing, and teaching, that salvation could be obtained by the keeping of the Law (John 5:39). Even though they had a zeal for God, they rejected His righteousness (Romans 10:2).

    But, God will not forsake/reject His elect people. He has just set them aside for a while, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25). This is the church age. However, the time is coming when the church will be removed (1 Thessalonians 4:17) and God will once again deal with the nation of Israel. It will be a time of Jacob’s troubles (Jeremiah 30:7). During that time, the 144,0000 Israelites (12,000 from the 12 tribes) will preach the gospel of the Kingdom (the everlasting covenant that God made with Abraham) and NOT the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection (because that time has passed). This just so happens to be the same gospel Jesus gave to the 12 apostle (Matthew 10:5-7).

    Psalms 105: 9-10 (NKJV; this isn’t “church” language)….
    O seed of Abraham His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac, And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant….

    Basically a repeat of Romans 9 regarding the children of promise, the nation of Israel.

    Revelation 14:6 NKJV)…
    Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel (of the Kingdom) to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—

    Why not preach Paul’s gospel of grace given to the church? Because the body of Christ is no longer on the earth.

    Zechariah 8:23 (KJV)…
    Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

    Praise God!

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