Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Romans Bible Study #20 A Non-Calvinist Interpretation of Romans 9 (Part 1: 9:1-13 - Video and Notes)

To go to the beginning of the series on Romans, click here...
To go to the last study (#19), click here..
To watch the entire series on YouTube, click here...

Study Notes

"God arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction. " John Calvin

Vs. 1-5
  • In Chapter 1, we saw Paul’s heart towards the church, even being in constant prayer to God for churches to which he had never even been. Here we see Paul’s heart to the Jews, his own people, especially towards those who had rejected Christ.
  • Paul here again affirms that the covenants and the promises which were made to Abraham and his descendants belong to Israel. Chapters 9 - 11 should dispel any notion that “God has not rejected His people who He foreknew” (as he will say later in 11:2). God’s faithfulness to Israel over the last 2000 years in keeping them together as a people though they have been scattered all over the world and then finally bringing them back to their homeland is further testimony that God still has a covenant love for Israel.
  • Paul will continue to reveal his heart towards his people Israel (which by extension we would have to believe is God’s heart towards them also) in saying in 10:1 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them (Israel) is for their salvation.”
  • Despite Paul’s explicit desire to perish in the place of these hardened Jews, five-point Calvinists teach that Christ does not share Paul’s expressed intentions.[92] One has to assume that those interpreters believe Paul was more merciful and self-sacrificial than the Savior who inspired these very words. It is inexplicable, given Paul’s Spirit-led appeal of self-sacrificial love, to promote a doctrine that teaches Jesus did not intend to sacrifice Himself for these hardened Jews (1 John 2:2; 2 Pet. 2:1).”( Dr. Leighton Flowers)
Vs. 6-8
  • The “word of God” here is not merely the written written word, but rather the spoken word, i.e. “the gospel.” (Chapter 10:8 makes that clear) In vs. 6, he is saying that it is not as though the gospel has not accomplished what it has set out to do.
  • Vs. 6b-7 echoes 2:28-29 (read it). There is a natural Israel and there is a spiritual Israel. There are natural Jews and there are spiritual Jews.
  • Paul has already taught clearly and at length that salvation is intended for those who believe, regardless of their nationality.
  • Abraham had two sons - Ishamael and Isaac. In vs. 7, Paul quotes Genesis 21:12 where God tells Abraham that He had chosen Isaac over Ishmael. Ishmael was the son that Abraham made by His own works (He just decided He was going to help God and fulfill the promise that God had made with him previously). Isaac was the child of promise.
  • What was the promise and how did it come? Read Romans 4:13-16. The promise (in Paul’s shorthand) was that Abraham and his descendants would be “heir of the world.” This would not come by lawkeeping but through faith. This was not a promise of salvation but a promise of blessing.
  • Read Gen. 12:2-3. This is the original promise that Paul was referring to. Israel was to be made a great nation and would be blessed of God. That is the first part. The second part was “you shall be a blessing...in you all the families of the earth would be blessed.” How was that to come about? First of all, the Redeemer Messiah was to come through them. Secondly, it was God’s intention that the good news of the gospel would come through Israel to bless “all the nations of the earth.” This was revealed through the progressive revelation to the prophets of Israel over the course of a thousand years.
  • Jonah was a good illustration of God’s determination to bless the nations of the world through Jewish messengers, even if He has to use a disobedient one! In NT, Paul Himself was a further illustration of this. He was a passionate opponent of the truth of the gospel, but in a blinding light God turned Him into a passionate proponent of the gospel.
  • This is the essence of election (God’s choosing) in Romans 9. When we see “election” we should not always assume that it is choosing for salvation. Many times in scripture, election has to do with choosing for service, i.e. God’s choice of certain vessels to bring the good news to others...to bless others.

Vs. 9-13
  • Paul uses two choices that God made in Abraham’s descendents to illustrate God’s purposes. The first choice is Isaac over Ishmael (which he already alluded to in vs. 7). Isaac was the promised child. Through him Messiah was to come. Through him, Israel was to be blessed and to be a blessing. However, did God care at all for Ishmael, the one through whom the promise did not come? Yes he did! Read Gen. 16:10;17:20. Note also that in chapter 25:12-18, God records Ishmael’s descendents. He obviously cared for Ishmael and Ishmaelites!
  • In Gal. 4:21-31, Paul uses Isaac and Ishmael as an allegory to show the difference in those who come by law and those who come by promise. Ishmael is a type of those who try to come to God by their own works. Isaac, as the child of promise, is a type of those who come to God by faith. (Remember, in Romans 4, we learned that God does not regard faith as a work, but as the opposite of works)
  • The second illustration that God uses is between Jacob and Esau, Isaac’s twin sons. As God preferred the second born Isaac over the first born Ishmael, so God chose the second born Jacob over the first born Esau. Esau was clearly the stronger of the two. He was a hunter....a real man’s man. Yet God chose the second born...even before they were born. Paul tells us that the choice of Jacob was not based upon Jacob or Esau’s works, but “because of Him who calls.” Vs. 12 quotes Gen. 25 in saying that “the older will serve the younger.” One was preferred over the other. Nothing at all is said about salvation, but rather the choice is choice to service.
  • Notice also that it was not just a choice between two people but between two groups of people. The full prophecy that God gave to Isaac’s wife Rebekah in Genesis 25:23 is “Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.” This selection or election was of two nations. I believe that Paul is still carrying on the same allegory that he had just used of Isaac and Ishmael earlier in the chapter and also in Galatians. The allegory here is between those who try to come to God based upon their own works (ironically, the Jews of Paul’s day) symbolized first by Ishmael and here by Essau, and those who come to God by faith, symbolized first by Isaac and here by Jacob.
  • Flowers - “The promise given to Abraham is to bring the Word through his lineage so as to bless all those who believe. When God says that “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed,” he is referring to His promise to bring the Word (the Messiah and His message) to all peoples through the nation of Israel. Ishmael and his descendants (Ishmaelites) were not chosen to fulfill that promise. Esau and his descendants (Edomites) were not chosen to fulfill that promise. Jacob and his descendants (Israelites) are chosen to fulfill that promise, and God is just to make this choice despite the fact that all three are direct descendants of Abraham.”
  • ...Esau was the more likely choice of the two brothers given his natural qualities as a hunter and his being the first-born. Jacob was the weaker, or lesser, of the two brothers and certainly not more deserving to carry out this noble purpose. The point is that God did not choose to save one of them and condemn the other prior to their birth, as some attempt to read into this text. Instead, He chose to make His power known through the weaker, less likely candidate (just like He did with young David, 1 Sam. 16:7). We must understand that this gracious Potter most often chooses spoiled clay to fulfill His promises.”
Vs. 13
  • Most Calvinist teach (and I believed) that this verse taught that God hated a baby before he was even born. Yet, that is certainly not what this verse is teaching!
  • Read Luke 14:26. God certainly did not mean hate here as we would commonly use the word. Virtually no one believes this, as it would fly in the face of reason and scripture as well. God would not have us to literally hate our parents when he also commanded us to honor our parents. Instead, this is a Jewish idiomatic expression of choosing one over another for a greater purpose. “Instead, this passage should be understood to mean that individuals must choose to follow God’s will over the will of even the most beloved in one’s life. I In other words, this is the idiomatic way of communicating that one is to choose Christ and His noble purposes over one’s parents and their common purposes.”
  • Where did God say “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated?” Not in Genesis, but 1500 years later in Malachi, when both boys had been dead for many hundreds of years.
  • Read Malachi 1:2, 3 This clearly is talking about the nation of Israel (Jacob) and the nation of Edom (which was the name of the nation made up of Esau’s descendants).
  • Obadiah 1:10 (written against Edom) “Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever.”
  • Both Malachi and Obadiah reflect on Edom’s attacks against Israel throughout their writings, giving a clear cause for God’s declared hatred for Esau, which was directed against his posterity, the Edomites. It is also clear from the original references that individual salvation was not in view, but national blessing (because of the references to Edom’s land and inheritance, rather than an individual’s eternal destiny).’
  • So was Esau himself cursed of God? We have no record of it. Esau and Jacob were enstranged early in life (mainly because of Jacob’s actions!), but were reconciled later in life. Jacob loved Esau and Esau loved Jacob. There is no record that God ever hated Esau, but only preferred his brother (the real meaning of vs. 13) over himself. He hated Esau’s posterity because they opposed Israel. God cursed Edom just as He promised He would in the original promise to Abraham in Genesis 12. “I will curse those who curse you.”

St. Paul, in these words, had any view to God’s sovereign power, as the ground of unconditional reprobation (the idea that God predestined some to go to hell). And beware you go no further therein, than you are authorized by them. Take care, whenever you speak of these high things, to “speak as the oracles of God.” And if so, you will never speak of the sovereignty of God, but in conjunction with his other attributes. For the Scripture nowhere speaks of this single attribute, as separate from the rest. Much less does it anywhere speak of the sovereignty of God as singly disposing the eternal states of men. No, no; in this awful (awe-inspiring) work, God proceeds according to the known rules of his justice and mercy; but never assigns his sovereignty as the cause why any man is punished with everlasting destruction…The sovereignty of God is then never to be brought to supersede his justice. And this is the present objection against unconditional reprobation; (the plain consequence of unconditional election;) it flatly contradicts, indeed utterly overthrows, the Scripture account of the justice of God.  John Wesley”

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Romans Bible Study #19 "Predestined To Be Conformed..." (Romans 8:26-39...Video and Notes)

To go to the beginning of the series on Romans, click here...
To go to the last study (#18), click here..
To watch the entire series on YouTube, click here...


Vs. 26
  • Connection to previous verses is first in “weaknesses.” In context, this must be “mental weaknesses.” Vs. 24, 25 We do not see to the end, yet we have hope. In the same way, we don’t know how to pray as we should (“we do not know what we ought to pray for” NIV)
  • So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.” (Amplified)
  • 26 And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede[a] on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs[b] too deep for words. (Passion)
  • “The Greek word hupererentugkhano is best translated “super [or hyper]-intercede for us.” We can only imagine how many blessings have poured into our lives because of the hyper-intercession of the Holy Spirit for us!” (Passion Translation note)
  • “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (lit. inexpressible)
    • When the Christian’s prayers are too deep and too intense for words, when they are rather a sigh heaved from the heart than any formal utterance, then we may know that they are prompted by the Spirit Himself (within us...wn). It is He who is praying to God for us.” Ellicott’s Commentary
  • Second connection between this verse and previous verses is “groanings.” Vs. 22 is “creation groaning.” Vs. 23 is “believers groaning” for their final redemption. This verse is “the Spirit groaning” in us.
Vs. 27
  • “He who searches the heart” in this context is Jesus Himself. (see vs. 34) He intercedes through the Holy Spirit between us and God the Father. In effect, it is Jesus Himself praying our prayers to the Father for us!
Vs. 28
  • One of the most quoted verses in NT...and misquoted!
  • “God works all things together” not for everyone, but for those who love God, those who He has called.
  • Two different mss readings of this verse...“God causes all things to work together” is better than “all things work together” as some versions state.
  • Connected to vs. 26-27. Those who love God are those who are praying. For these praying saints, whose groans are too deep for words, He works all things in their lives for good.
  • “Called” (Helps word-studies)...”Kletos (divinely called) focuses on God’s general call - i.e. the call (invitation) He gives to all people, so all can receive His salvation. God desires every person to call out to Him and receive His salvation...Unfortunately, many choose not to - but all can; all don’t but all can call out to God for His mercy (not just some)”

Vs. 29, 30
  • Dr. Lawrence Wood (describing John Wesley’s view of predestination)...
    • ”He argued very strongly against (absolute) predestination in which he argued that absolute predestination makes God the author of evil...makes God the author of sin. It makes it (pointless) to preach the gospel if everything is predetermined by God’s will.
    • “Wesley did agree with the emphasis on God’s absolue foreknowledge or God’s omniscience...but Wesley did not believe that that meant that everything ahd been predetermined. Rather, he says that God knows everything, but what causes God’s knowledge is what will be. What will be is not determined by God’s knowledge.”
    • “God doesn’t (literally) foreknow anything. That is a human way of speaking. God simply knows...God knows everything. Everything is instant to God...even our future. (Our future) is nonetheless present to God because God is transcendent.”
  • David Pawson…
    • “If you study predestination in the Bible, it’s not so much that you are chosen for salvation but that you are chosen for service. It is not so much your privilege as it is your responsibility to be one of the chosen people.”

  • Asbury Commentary
    • The word predestined (prohoriz┼Ź) occurs in vv. 29-30. This has been misinterpreted to mean that God arbitrarily determined in advance certain individuals to be saved. This, however, is not the meaning of the word. This word occurs six times in the NT: Ac 4:28; Ro 8:29, 30; 1Co 2:7; and Eph 1:5, 11. In all other occurrences, the context indicates clearly that it has to do with the plan, the design, the condition of some event, or salvation. It is also so used here (Murray, 1:318). Those who participate in salvation are those who love God. They are called according to God's purpose (prothesis, v. 28). In the entire NT when purpose (prothesis) is used of God, it has to do with the plan, the design, or the condition of some event, never with certain persons. God's purpose regarding salvation is that all be saved and none be lost (1Ti 2:4; Tit 2:11; 2Pe 3:9). The call is the invitation addressed by God to all human beings. It is inclusive, not exclusive.
    • In v. 29 the object of predestine is to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. In v. 30 the object seems to be certain persons. These persons, however, are those whom God foreknew, not those arbitrarily chosen by God. Foreknowledge does not cause them to have faith, but rather their faith causes God to foreknow. My knowing does not cause you to do something. But your doing causes me to know. In the same way, God's knowledge does not cause us to do something, but our doing causes God to know. Since, however, God is not bound by time, he can know before we do it.

Romans 8:31-39 King James Version (KJV)

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter
.37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Vs. 37
“More than conquerers” or “overwhelmingly conquer” means “super-conquerer who is completely and overwhelmingly victorious!”

1 And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Saviour's blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain?
For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

2 'Tis mystery all: the Immortal dies!
Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries
to sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
let angel minds enquire no more.

3 He left his Father's throne above —
so free, so infinite his grace —
emptied himself of all but love,
and bled for Adam's helpless race.
'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
for, O my God, it found out me!

4 Long my imprisoned spirit lay
fast bound in sin and nature's night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

5 No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine!
Alive in him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine,
bold I approach the eternal throne,
and claim the crown, through Christ, my own

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