(Re)Thinking through Romans 9

This is a re-blog of an article by AndrewH of “Beyond Calvinism

*All scripture quotations are from NASB, unless otherwise noted.

In his song “Context”, Calvinist recording artist Flame says:

“exegesis is the careful systematic study of scripture for the Christian this should be a habit but to discover the original intended meaning of the author to his audience is exegeting”

and:

“a text can never mean what it never meant before to its original reader or author so if you run into a difficult passage and you know the Bible never contradicts itself then turn the pages to a parallel passage and just let the scriptures interpret itself”

I’ve used these quotes a number of times in Bible studies I’ve led, both as a Calvinist and later, to help new Christians understand what our first objective is as we come to a text.

As I’ve said before, Romans 9 was the passage that really led me into Calvinism, and later, the passage that held me there.

In this post I want to look at the two questions which challenged that understanding, and then at a third question which confirmed my new view:

(1) What was Paul’s point?

(2) What did Paul’s 1st century audience think he meant?

(3) Are there parallel passages which could bolster our conclusion?

(1) What was Paul’s point?

“but to discover the original intended meaning of the author to his audience is exegeting”

The key which allowed me begin considering other interpretations was when I finally “arced” Romans 9 from beginning to end, rather than stopping around verse 23. 

I wasn’t alone in skipping over the last few verses of this chapter; in fact it seems to be a common problem among Calvinists. After considering verse 23 in his commentary on Romans, FF Bruce (who considered himself “an impenitent Augustinian and Calvinist” [1]) wrote:

It is a pity that in some schools of theological thought the doctrine of election has been formulated to an excessive degree on the basis of this preliminary state in Paul’s present argument, without adequate account being taken of his further exposition of God’s purpose in election at the conclusion of the argument (xi. 25-32). [2]

What immediately became clear to me as I arced was the relation of verses 30-33 to the preceding context. Verse 30 began as an inference (“what shall we say, then”) from Paul’s thought throughout the rest of the chapter.

Imagine you are reading an academic article, and you’re really having trouble following the author.  You find yourself thinking, “What’s your point?”  In this situation, you might well turn to the author’s conclusion and find, “Ah ha, so that’s what he’s been getting at! That’s what his argument has been moving towards”.

If the author’s conclusion contradicted what you had read in his preceding argument, you may rightly conclude that you had misunderstood what he had been saying, and you would re-read the preceding arguments to find out how they fit and build towards that conclusion. [3]

In Romans 9, Paul’s conclusion is clear:

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

(30-33)

Paul is very clear regarding why some are saved while others are “separated from Christ” (v 3).  Those who are saved, “attained righteousness […] by faith” (v 31); those who are separated from Christ are separated because they pursued righteousness (or we might say, “pursued a right standing with God”) “as though it were by works” (v 32).

If instead Paul’s argument had been, as the Calvinists claim, that “His promise gave expression to an ‘electing purpose’ (9:11) by which God aims to preserve his complete freedom in determining who will be the beneficiaries of his saving promises, who will be the ‘Israel’ within Israel (9:6b). His purpose is thus maintained by means of the predestination of individuals to their respective eternal destinies. […] Within the context of Romans 9, this means that God maintains his sovereign ‘purpose of election’ by determining, before they are born, who will belong to the ‘saved’ among Israel”,[4] Paul would have concluded and summarized his argument very differently. As another blogger noted, a Calvinist conclusion should read something like:

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith unconditional election of individuals (with faith merely being evidence of an individual’s prior election); but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works had not been unconditionally and individually elected for salvation. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever is irresistibly caused to believes in him will not be put to shame.” Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved have always been vessels of mercy, otherwise there is no hope for them. [5]

In particular, we would be left wondering why Paul brought up faith at all, if, as John Piper suggests, “Neither the bad willing/running of ‘works’ nor the good willing/running of faith had any influence at all on God’s decision to show mercy”[6] and “‘willing and running’ cannot legitimately be limited in such a way that some willing, like that act of trusting Christ, does ultimately determine God’s bestowal of mercy, namely, the mercy of salvation”[7] (I would point out however, that to trust/have faith in/rely on/believe is not always a type or subset of “willing”; compare, for example, John 1 where “believe” (v12) can be contrasted with both “the will of flesh” and “the will of man” (v 13).  Likewise, on the broader phrase “willing and running”, we know from the testimony of the Lord Jesus himself that “to believe in Him whom [God] has sent” is the one “work” that God does require (John 6:28-29).)

The burden of proof, then, is on the Calvinist to explain how Paul’s argument fits with his conclusion (and not to stop the exegesis at verse 23, mid-sentence!).

(2) What did Paul’s 1st century audience think he meant?

“a text can never mean what it never meant before to its original reader or author”

After I saw the conclusion in verses 30-33, I knew I had to re-examine the argument that had led Paul there.  As I considered, it struck me to wonder, “How would the Roman Christians have understood the phrase in verse 11, ‘God’s purpose according to His choice‘ (or “God’s purpose of election” ESVUK)?” Would they have understood Paul to mean some pre-temporal decree of certain individuals to salvation?

In the context, Paul seems to be talking about God’s purpose in choosing Isaac and Abraham, and choosing Jacob to continue that purpose. So what was his purpose in choosing Abraham?

We find a hint back in chapter 4, where Paul also talks about Abraham and God’s purpose; there with regard to circumcision.  He says:

The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (v 11-12)

This led me to look into the Old Testament, to find out if there are any explicit statements there about God’s purpose in choosing Abraham.  In fact, we have a very clear statement, and one which fits very nicely with both Romans 4 and Romans 9, in Genesis 18:17-19 (note also, that Paul actually quotes from this very same chapter in Romans 9:9!) bold mine:

The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,  since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.

And in fact, we can see the fulfilment of this––that through Jesus all nations are blessed––stated in Romans 9:4, “and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever.” And in verses 24-26:

even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”

“And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

I had to conclude, then, that the Roman Christians, fluent in the Old Testament, would have understood the choice/election of Abraham in verse 11 to be a reference to God continuing through Jacob and not Esau, his purpose to bless all nations through the Messiah.  This choice of Jacob was not based on anything Jacob had done, but was purely of God’s sovereign choice.  It had nothing to do with Jacob’s own eternal state, which would still be determined by his faith in God to bring about what He had promised, just as it was for Abraham (Rom 4:21).

As NT Wright put it:

This was never an abstract ‘doctrine of predestination’, attempting to plumb the mysteries of why some people (in general, without reference to Israel) hear and believe the gospel and others do not. Paul never encourages speculation of that sort. Rather, it was a way of saying, very specifically, that the fact of Israel’s election (starting with the choice and call of Abraham) had always been there to deal with the sin of the world; that Israel’s election had always involved Israel being narrowed down, not just to Isaac and then to Jacob, but to a hypoleimma, a ‘remnant’, a ‘seed’; and that this ‘remnant’ itself would be narrowed down to a single point, to the Messiah himself, who would himself be ‘cast away’ so that the world might be redeemed. [8]

(3) Are there parallel passages which could bolster these conclusions?

“so if you run into a difficult passage and you know the Bible never contradicts itself then turn the pages to a parallel passage and just let the scriptures interpret itself”

I’ve mentioned a few parallels already, so here I will dig into verses 19-23:

You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory

When I first turned from Calvinism and began to email back and forth with one of my more studied Calvinist friends, I offered my alternative interpretation of these verses, to which he responded, “we need to walk through this. I cannot understand this text in any other way than to understand that God has indeed predestined before the foundations of the world that there would be vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, for His own glory.

First, I had to point out to him the leaps my friend had made:

(1) There is no mention of “before the foundations of the world” anywhere in the passage; and

(2) He had moved from “God… endured with much patience” to “God … predestined … vessels of wrath … for destruction, for His own glory.

Next, I questioned how he understood a few other New Testament texts which seemed to me to carry the same idea: Ephesians 2, Romans 2:4-5, 2 Peter 3:9 and 2 Tim 2:20-21.

In Ephesians 2:3-5 we see that we “were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy […] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” – in other words, we were vessels of wrath but became vessels of mercy.

In Romans 2:4-5, we see that God’s patience is meant to turn vessels of wrath into vessels of mercy; those who refuse to repent are preparing themselves for destruction:

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God

Likewise in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

And 2 Tim 2:20-21, perhaps the clearest of all, says:

Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

As Calvinist Bill MacDonald wrote, against the common Calvinist view, “God does not prepare vessels of wrath for destruction, but he does prepare vessels of mercy for glory“.[9]

FF Bruce takes much the same approach:

While Paul will allow no questioning of God’s right to do what He will with His own, he lets his emphasis fall, not on God’s wrath towards the reprobate, but rather the postponement of His wrath against men who have long since become ripe for destruction.  As has been pointed out earlier (2:4), the mercy and forbearance of God are intended  to afford men time for repentance; if, instead, they harden their hearts yet more, as Pharaoh did after repeated respites, they are simply storing up an increasing weight of retribution for themselves against the day of requital. [10]

Jeremiah 18, where Paul’s illustration seems to have originated, also confirms this.  There, the Prophet Jeremiah watches a potter as “the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make” (v 4).  The Lord tells the Prophet:

“Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it;  if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.”’ But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’ (v 6-12)

If a vessel of wrath, prepared for destruction, “turns from its evil” it becomes a vessel of mercy.  And like in 2 Peter 3, God longs for it to be so: “Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds.” (v 11, and cf Romans 11:20 & 23)

Endnotes:

[1] FF Bruce, “Original Forward and Comments”, in Paul Marston & Roger Forster, God’s Strategy in Human History. (you can see his comments Google Preview here).

[2] FF Bruce, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, p 190 [Bruce].  In John Piper’s book, The Justification of God, which is generally considered the leading Calvinist exposition of Romans 9, he too stops his examination at verse 23.

[3] Dr Greg Boyd, in his excellent sermon on Romans 9, similarly argues that Paul’s conclusion does not fit the Calvinist interpretation.

[4] John Piper, The Justification of God at 218 [Piper].

[5] Kingswood Hart, “New Calvinist Bible – Romans 8-11” (March 27, 2014), link.

[6] Piper supra note 3 at 153.  

[7Ibid at 157.  However, in the next sentence, Piper correctly points out, “Faith is indeed a sine qua non of Salvation; Rom 9:16, therefore, necessarily implies that the act of faith is ultimately owing to the prevenient grace of God.” But then gets around this by stating, “But this is a theological inference, however true, beyond Paul’s explicit concern here. There is no reference at all to faith in Rom 9 until verse 30.”

[8] NT Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God. As quoted by Michael F Bird, “N.T. Wright on Election in PFG” (October 18, 2013), link.

[9] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, p 1719.

[10] Bruce supra note 2.

14 thoughts on “(Re)Thinking through Romans 9

  1. You know, when I was a kid in school, I used to cheat on book reports. You know the inside flaps that would give a synopsis of the story…I would copy that word for word for the book report, and I would get really good grades in English.

    I mean, I didn’t really know what a pronoun was, until recently, when some dude with green hair told me!

    Look, I still have a probem with this former Calvinist explaination.

    The article states:

    “Paul is very clear regarding why some are saved while others are “separated from Christ” (v 3). Those who are saved, “attained righteousness […] by faith” (v 31); those who are separated from Christ are separated because they pursued righteousness (or we might say, “pursued a right standing with God”) “as though it were by works” (v 32).”

    My response:

    That’s not what I read.

    Now, I know that many will still keep their “For there is no difference…” stance, but this is where there is a difference.

    That quote…it’s NOT discussing salvation in the generic sense. This is a conversation about the JEWS salvation, as opposed to the GENTILES salvation.

    Do we happen to forget that God told the Jews to WORK for their salvation? That’s what the Law was all about. God told them to follow the law.

    Now, why did he not give the law to Abraham to pass down from generation to generation? Why did God wait until Moses came along?

    You see, if you are going to have a conversation about Romans 9, the least you can do is to first read the whole bible and find out the storyline, instead of using the flaps on the cover of the book.

    There is 2 types of RIGHTEOUSNESS being discussed here. One is by the law, and one isn’t. The other is just by believing God’s promises, just like Abraham…the forgotten man that no one seems to talk about.

    The Jews are BLIND. God set Jesus as a STUMBLING STONE.

    Now, if you know about the law in the bible, it is a sin to set a stumbling stone in front of a blind person, because they may trip and fall. There is a penalty for doing that. But God set Jesus in front of them to trip over.

    And lastly, Romans 9 can’t be dealt with until you finish the conversation in Romans 11.

    In Essence, it’s about the Jews pursuit of righteousness under the law…and before the law, God gave Abraham a promise of a small piece of real estate, so they all have to get cirucumcised to receive it.

    But Romans 9 is stating that the Jews CANNOT seek righteousness by faith, because they are blind. They fail because they are blind.

    And lastly, Romans 4:15 tells us about the WRATH of God.

    Romans 9 has nothing to to with Soteriology at all. It’s not about salvation. It’s about the Jews were chosen for a purpose to show the power of God, just like the Pharaoh was…and in the end, THEY GET MERCY, just like the Pharaoh did (Which many think that he’s burning in hell right now…I don’t).

    Just like Joseph forgave his brethren for throwing him in a pit, to be sold as a slave, so that Joseph’s life can be prophesy of Jesus…from the crucifixion to forgiving his Jewish brothers.

    MERCY. Gentiles, guys, do not fall under this storyline of Romans 9. IF you want to know about Gentiles, Romans 15:21 is a good place to start. But this is not about salvation at all. It’s about the blindness of the Jews, and WHY they seek the righteousness of the law. Because God told them to.

    Deuteronomy 6:25
    And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.

    There is so much spiritual stuff going on, but many miss it.

    Ed Chapman

  2. The Calvinist interpretation is completely divorced from the preface in Romans 9:1-5. Paul’s stated passion was Jewish conversion, and his strategy is to refute Jewish hindrances and roadblocks to conversion.

    Paul says that it’s not as if the word of God has “failed.” Well, who thinks that? No one, but when his Jewish brothers hear him refute birthright assurance, then *they* will suppose God is unfair for breaking His word. So, Paul successfully refutes birthright assurance by pointing out the facts concerning the condemnation of the Edomite descendants who had a common (and superior) ancestry. (One orthodox Rabbi even suggested that the Edomite descendants will ultimately be saved, made necessary by the presumption of birthright assurance in Abraham.) Question: Is v.12 talking about the individuals or descendants? The answer is the descendants, and exclusively so, since Esau never, ever personally served Jacob, though the descendants did. Question: Is v.13 about the individuals or descendants? It must be about the descendants, or else it would leave *unresolved* the earlier point in v.6 about the descendants, in refuting birthright assurance. (Huge point.) Paul’s anticipated pushback in v.14 is about orthodox Jews thinking God is unfair for breaking His promise about a perceived birthright assurance. (See also Matthew 3:9.) Calvinists agree that Malachi 1:2-5 meant “Israel] I loved but [Edom] I hated” but then claim an “apostolic interpretation” whereby Paul changes the original meaning from descendants to individuals, but (again) that would make v.12 odd for quoting the descendants’ servitude, and it would also mean that v.13 never resolves the earlier point about descendants in v.6, and (big point), claiming an “apostolic interpretation” would leave Paul vulnerable to the charge that he was inventing a “new religion.” Paul’s whole rapport with his fellow Jews was based upon being faithful to Scripture, not unfaithful with supposed “apostolic interpretations” that change things. (Another massive point.)

    After refuting birthright assurance, Paul addresses another Jewish obstacle and roadblock to conversion by refuting works-based assurance. Jewish rabbis believe that Scripture points only to one thing in obtaining righteous with God, and that is by *keeping the Law*. However, Paul often argued that no one keeps the Law, and hence no one is made righteous through a Law they do not keep. V.16’s reference to “willing” and “running” was about Jewish efforts under the Law to be made righteous, and Paul’s counter-argument is that righteousness for guilty sinners can *only* come through God’s “mercy,” rather than by keeping a Law that everyone breaks.

    Paul then points out the results of God’s historical warnings to harden Israel.

  3. This sentence in the article – “As NT Wright put it: This was never an abstract ‘doctrine of predestination’” – made me think of something totally insignificant, but I’ll say it anyway.

    The Calvinist pastor at our ex-church gave a sermon once where he said something like “The Bible teaches about [Calvinist] predestination. The Bible calls it the doctrine of election, which is the same as the doctrine of predestination.”

    I wanted to interrupt and shout out “Oh really!?! And in which verse do we find the phrase ‘doctrine of election/predestination’?”

    And yet many people in the congregation probably went home thinking, “Well, I guess since the Bible specifically calls it that, then it must be true and I have to believe it,” never once researching the Word for themselves.

    1. br.d
      Nice post Heather!
      .
      I have an old friend who became a pastor.
      One day he told me – a member of his congregation let him know – it was not their place to be a critical thinker when it comes to “what the Bible teaches”. They let him know they wanted him to tell them what the Bible teaches – and they would simply believe every word.
      .
      That is derivative of Catholicism.
      The obligation of the church is “Sensus-Fidei” (aka believe every word)
      .
      But scripture says: The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
      .
      Another interesting statement by N.T. Write concerning Calvin – is that he was a Catholic with a small “c”
      .
      And this bears out in much of his historically recorded behavior
      .
      I can’t tell you how many Calvinists I bump into who follow the pattern of “Believing every word” they are told.
      They sit in front of a Calvinist pastor who conditions their brains to memorize DOUBLE-SPEAK talking-points.
      A large percentage of Calvinism’s Talking-Points are nothing more than lies of omission designed to paint FALSE pictures.
      .
      Calvinists mechanically memorize them and recite them like little robots whose programming is limited to reciting Talking-Points

      1. Br.d.: “They let him know they wanted him to tell them what the Bible teaches – and they would simply believe every word.”

        Wow! That’s sad. And scary. And that right there is a big part of why the Church is in such a mess and why it’s compromised on so many points. No one wants to think for themselves, to do the dirty work of digging deeply for truth. And it’s why when someone does ask questions and dig deeper, we are accused of divisiveness and causing trouble. We didn’t fall in line like everyone else.

        When we were leaving our Calvinist church, a Calvinist friend (an elder) had us over for dinner (much to their credit) to reach out to us before we left. And after we retold them our concerns and doubts, he was like “Well, if you would just research it [obviously meaning with their Calvinist resources – the Calvinist pastor led small groups through Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology], then you’d understand it better [obviously meaning we’d come to accept it].”

        And my husband was like “Dude, I’ve never been more researched before about anything in my life!” And the elder was speechless. I think it shocked him because I don’t think it ever dawned on him that researching/questioning Calvinism, that digging deeper into the Word, might actually lead people away from Calvinism, that it might make it less acceptable.

        We had hoped they would follow our example and begin questioning it too, but almost no one else has. Oh well. We did our part to sound the alarm.

        Keep us the good work here! Thanks, Br.d.

      2. Wonderful story Heather!
        I love what your husband said!!!
        .
        You know – I’ve been told “you don’t understand” by so many Calvinists – who follow that statement with some kind of evasion strategy – in order to hide certain dark truths about Calvinism.
        .
        The other day a Calvinist did that to me.
        He started with “you don’t understand” and then from there – proceeded to completely fabricate something out of thin air – which was all to easy for me to prove as FALSE.
        .
        I gave him direct quotes from prominent Calvinist teachers and from John Calvin himself – showing what he had just invented was a complete falsehood.
        .
        When he was faced with the obvious fact that I caught him – he didn’t appear to even blink.
        .
        He reminded me of the scripture that speaks of a person whose conscience has been seared with a hot iron.
        .
        How a person who professes to be a Christian could lower himself to that.
        It was easily apparent – that he is a Calvinist
        But it was not apparent that he is a Christian.

      3. Br.d.: “It was easily apparent – that he is a Calvinist
        But it was not apparent that he is a Christian.”

        I’m sure Calvinists would be offended by this but being a Calvinist does not automatically make one a Christian. I think there are a lot of Calvinists who are Christian because they were Christian first, before being brainwashed into Calvinism. But you really have to wonder if those who came to Christ through Calvinism are really saved or not. Because Calvinist theology tells sinners that they can’t choose to believe in Jesus, that it’s not up to them if they put their faith in Jesus, that God has to do it to them (if they were chosen), and that if you’re elect then all you really have to do is come to the realization one day that you’re elect, that you’re already saved.

        HOW IN THE WORLD can someone truly be saved that way, being told they can’t choose to believe in Jesus, that it will just happen to them one day if they are already saved from before time began?

        Choosing to believe in Jesus, to put our faith in Him, is the ONE JOB God gave mankind to do in order to be saved, the one “work” that God said is our responsibility to choose to do. And yet Calvinism denies it, saying that we cannot do the one thing God told us to do to be saved. How in the world can anyone be saved under Calvinism then? What an attack on the gospel and God’s truth!

        Calvinism doesn’t rescue any sinner from hell. Because the elect were never on their way to hell, never at risk of going to hell. And the non-elect can never be rescued from hell because Calvi-Jesus never died for them and God made it impossible for them to believe.

        All Calvinism does is convince some people that they’ve always been saved without ever having to do anything about it, not even believing, while convincing others that they can never be saved, that God doesn’t love them, that Jesus didn’t die for them, and that there’s no hope for them.

        A lie from the pit of hell. Destroying the evangelical church from the inside out. And it will cost people their souls.

      4. br.d
        Years ago I was offered a promotion – which I would later realize involved working in a kind of snakes-den.
        .
        The supervisor I was assigned to – was a very manipulative person.
        I went into this situation thinking my job was to help people.
        But I eventually discovered, the operation involved funneling unsuspecting clients into a coral in order to use them.
        .
        I developed friendships with the clients based on honesty – so how was I going to navigate in these waters?
        Any dishonesty I operated in – would affect my testimony.
        I figured out ways of letting clients recognize indicators they could identify – in order to understand.
        And it didn’t take long for this supervisor to see me as an enemy.
        .
        When you see people being manipulated – you understand what you are seeing – is what scripture calls a “Principality and Power”
        .
        So when I see Calvinists operating in various strategies to mislead and coral people – I understand what I am seeing is a “Principality And Power” at work.
        .
        Jesus told Pontius Pilate – those who have brought me to you – have committed the “Greater” sin.
        So we know there are “Greater” sins – which means there are “Lesser” sins.
        .
        When a professing believer is trying to coral you into their belief system – they understand what they are promoting is a human belief system. And they recognize – to manipulate people into a human belief system is a sin.
        .
        But if they can become conditioned to conflate their belief system with divine truth – telling themselves they are no promoting a human belief system – but rather promoting divine truths – then manipulating people with subtle and misleading language tricks – can be justified – because they are doing it for God – rather than for a human incentive.
        .
        The way to see if that is going on with a professing believer – is to watch to see if they are not willing to acknowledge the human component of the belief system. They raise the belief system up onto a divine pedestal and canonize it.
        .
        This allows them to justify using manipulative and dishonest means to promote their belief system.
        They tell themselves they are doing for God – and that makes it a “Lesser” sin – which they can then justify.

  4. Not unrelated thoughts, about re-peating,

    Romans 8 as related to Romans 9:

    8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
    5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

    What does the Spirit desire? (1 Corinthians 15:3)

    Hebrews 6
    17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

    28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

    31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
    “For your sake we face death all day long;
        we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

    Who is looking back in history, to the Example’s, of those who went before us?

    Hebrews 11
    6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
    7 By faith Noah, …..Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. ……
    13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. …
    17 By faith Abraham, …..
    39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

    Hebrews 12
    12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

    
Hebrews 13
    6 So we say with confidence,
    “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
        What can mere mortals do to me?”[b]
    7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
    9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.


    the faith of the spirit of Calvinism, set on the flesh:
‘ I’ believe that God has saved those who believe they “do” not have to believe the truth of The Good News as you “do” not have to believe THE Good News because God regenerated you, who believe THIS good news know they are saved. This ‘I’ “do” believe.

    For those who “do” not refuse to love the truth: (2Thess)
    Hebrews 11:10
    10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

    Acts 16:29-31
    29 And the jailer[a] called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

    Believing something is an action of doing, claiming to know something is an action in doing. It is not the doing and knowing of any human who accomplished Salvation and Eternal Life. ( John 12)
    God knows every heart and mind and its believing, for the word of God is living and active [Hebrews 4;12] and it ‘does not ‘ come back void.
    The heart and mind are active, whether living and active walking in death, or living and active walking in life. God knows the moment we truly, truly believe Him, having been given the ability to think for a reason, actively as we do.

    From The Foundation of the world for those who do not refuse to love the truth, God created us to think for a reason. God commanded/commands/is commanding that relationship always includes at least 2, revealed in the beginning. Who will remain an enemy of God and who will not refuse HIs free will offering? God has revealed why Jesus Christ is the End.

    John 4:24/ Genesis 2:7- what God did for us humans, unlike the animals-Genesis 1:30

    ‘Do you’ really believe God? John 5:24 Since you ‘have heard’ the message of truth? John 8:31-38 Might you consider how this is applicable now, to those who are following the spirit of teaching with the flesh over the spirit of truth as the breath of God functions/moves in human flesh, now?

    From Romans 8 to 9:
    33 as it is written,
    “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
        and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

    Repeating Hebrews 12
    12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, 

Love a sis singing in The Name of Jesus Christ- just a follower of Christ Jesus,
    tammy
    May be a PS:
    Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

    Rev22:17, until the last generation as we Amen and Amen, Rev 22:20-21: 2 Peter 3
    Who must worship God in spirit and truth? ( Worship proceeds from the actions/activity of the thinking heart and mind, for a reason, before you take a step. Come, let us together, be sober minded! For a friend and a neighbor, even someone presently who is an enemy of the cross. Come , where there is equal weights and measures pointing someone to how love covers over a multitude of sins, for you and me, that another may come to believe The Truth, too. Romans5 All has been paid in full, though it is revealed to us only many in history will belief. Enter through the narrow gate, for broad is the way of philosophy and many find it. Col 2:8/ 1 Cor 1:21-23. See The Logic of God ( is not a philosophy, though some may come to see in the midst of a brotherly love for knowledge/wisdom, that The Logic of God and His logic itself is not philosophy: 2+2 is 4 before and after our parents sinned.
    Hebrews 3:13
    But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

    ( As the present reading NT claiming body of believers repeats the behaviors of the reading OT claiming body of believers, in similar fashion, God is still singing over us toDay: Rev 2-3 as He walks among the lampstands. Romans 8 and 9, see who is called to lay down their life, looking back and looking forward, in the present (.!?)

  5. 🙂 much to like in this article, seeing how the lost become found:
    “This is a re-blog of an article by AndrewH of “Beyond Calvinism“ ”
    a faithful lover warns, repeating His words of truth. God is faithful.

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