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Response to Romans 9 and Predestination



Many people do not like Reformed theology. They claim that it makes God the author of sin and an unfair tyrant who creates some people for the sole purpose of sending them to hell. Of course, these are erring projections imposed upon the Reformed position by those who do not understand it.  Reformed theology does not teach that God is the author of sin or that He creates anyone solely for the purpose of going to hell.  But, telling critics of Reformed theology the truth does little to change their minds, especially when they have them made up.  Instead, they continue to promote straw man arguments against Reformed theology in their attempt to disprove what we Reformed people like to refer to as "the doctrines of grace."

Following is a response to my paper on Romans 9 from a critic of Reformed theology.  He reproduces my original paper and tried to refute it.  Therefore, I have reproduced his response and answered his objections. The critic’s comments are in green and my comments are in blue. Scripture quotes are italicized.


Original Paper:

Romans 9:9-24 is one of the most intriguing and thought provoking passages in the Bible. Yet, it is often not given the serious consideration that it needs when dealing with the issue of God’s sovereignty and our salvation. This short but powerful section asks some pointed and powerful questions often raised in the argument against predestination. . . and then answers them. In addition, there is a simple theological test that you can take. The test is not by my devising; rather, it is imbedded in the passage and is authored by God. Let’s begin. (Note: all scripture quotations are from the NASB.)

"For this is a word of promise: 'At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.' 10And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, 12it was said to her, 'The older will serve the younger.' 13Just as it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated'" (NASB).

In verse 10 Paul speaks about Rebekah having Jacob and Esau. Historically speaking, Esau was born first, then Jacob. Through a series of interesting events (Gen. 25:19-34), the older served the younger, an unusual arrangement in those days. Paul then adds, "Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’" This was by God’s choice as is stated in verse 11.

Some might quickly assume that God loving Jacob and hating Esau had something to do with their behavior, that one was good and the other bad, and that God looked into the future and saw what they would do and then showed favor based on that foreknowledge. This is incorrect for several reasons.

First, this position would mean that God looked upon them and saw what they would do and loved/hated them based on something in them. This is unscriptural. There is nothing in us that merits any favor with God. We are, after all, by nature, children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), do not seek God (Rom. 3:10-11), and are slaves of sin (Rom. 6:16). Also, God shows no partiality (Rom. 2:11).

Second, it circumvents the cross. The only reason that God would look favorably upon us is because of what has been done by Jesus on the cross. It is only though Jesus, and by Jesus, and because of Jesus, that any of us have any standing before God at all.

Third, it doesn’t fit the context. If you look at verse 11, it says "for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I love, But Esau I hated.’" Both, the older serving the younger and Jacob and Esau are put together under verse 11 which states " . . . in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls . . . " In other words, God’s choice is the deciding factor, not man’s, on who serves who and who God loves.

This section of scripture clearly shows that God is sovereign. Sovereignty means that God is supreme in authority and power, that He is independent of all others, and that He does as He wishes. He can love whom He chooses and He can hate whom He chooses. His sovereignty means that He has the right to be merciful or not based on His own will. The question is, "Is that what He is doing?"

Verse 11 says, "for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand . . . " Clearly, it should be seen that God is not basing his love or hate upon the two based upon anything that either of them had done. The text refutes that clearly.


His comment:  We must make sure we do not make the following mistakes: Assume that God elected Jacob for eternal life and Esau for eternal damnation. That is not what the text says. It says that the older (Esau) will serve the younger (Jacob). The contention was over Esau's birthright, which came to belong to Jacob instead, by God's election.


My response:  Originally, this person had written to me that I had stated that God had elected one for damnation and the other for salvation. I corrected him saying that I made no claim here but had simply established the right of God’s sovereignty. The paragraph above is his modification.

His comment is that the birth right was switched by God’s election.  At the very least, that is true and it helps support the idea that God is in sovereign control of His creation and carries out His will.


If we were to look at the word "election," we would see that it is ”a technical theological term in the Bible having nothing to do with the democratic political process. The subject of election is God, who chooses on the basis of his sovereign will for his creation. Associated with election are theological terms such as ‘predestination,’ ‘providence,’ and ‘covenant.’ (Achtemeier, Paul J., Th.D., Harper’s Bible Dictionary; San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc., 1985.)


If anything this proves that God is sovereign, the one who does with His creation exactly what He wants.  Jacob and Esau’s works’ had nothing to do with God’s election. It was “…not because of works, but because of Him who calls . . .”  In other words, God made the choice of who would serve and who would have the birthright.


I can't help but comment on his statement that we should not
”Assume that God was interested in the individual Jacob and the individual Esau, in particular.”  Are we to say then that God is not interested in individuals but only in groups of people?  I think that the critic would probably say that God is also interested in individuals. But I suppose his point is that Jacob and Esau represent groups of people, not necessarily the individuals.  That is certainly biblical, but I would also say that God often talks to a person as if the individual represents his descendents. This is called Federal Headship.  We see this in Heb. 7:9-10, "And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him."  We see that Levi who did not even exist when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek is said to have paid tithes to Melchizedek through his father Abraham.  So, it can be said that when God address an individual, he is also addressing the descendents.  For further evidence of this consider Adam.  God said that if Adam disobeyed and ate the fruit, Adam would die.  In the New Testament we see that all died in Adam. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive," (1 Cor. 15:22).  Was God then not interested in Adam's actions?  Of course not.  Did God elect Adam?  He sure did since God created Him specifically.  Adam represented his descendants.  Therefore, Jacob and Esau, the individuals, represented their people and later, one group of descendents served the other group of descendents.  This simply shows that God is indeed sovereign over his people, individuals included.


That is not the case, either. The individual Esau never served his younger brother Jacob. To the contrary, Esau became so powerful that Jacob, out of fear, had to send people to appease when he encountered him: Gen 32:6, "When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, "We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him." 7In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8He thought, "If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape." 9Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord , who said to me, 'Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,' 10I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. 11Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children.” The scripture Paul is quoting "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated" is taken from Mal. 1:2, "I have loved you," says the Lord. "But you ask, 'How have you loved us?' "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the Lord says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, 3but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals." 4Edom may say, "Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins."

Esau went on to become the forefather of the people called Edom. Jacob went on to become the forefather of the people called Israel. While Esau never served Jacob, Edom came to serve Israel. Does that have anything to do with this? Yes, it does. It is called federal headship. In the Bible, an entire people is counted as the extention [sic] of their forefather. So when Edom is contending with Israel, it is as if Esau is contending with Jacob.
Jacob's victory over Esau came in the form of Israel becoming stronger than Edom: Obadiah 18, "The house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; the house of Esau will be stubble, and they will set it on fire and consume it." Until this prophecy was fulfilled, this was not the case: Obadiah 10, "Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever."


All this critic has done is establish that God is sovereign and that He does with His creation as He wills. This is precisely the point that Paul is making. It is God who causes one to serve the other and it isn’t based on anything in the person/people. Rather, it has everything to do with God.


Another proposed error the critic wants to point out is not to
”Assume that because Paul uses an Old Testament case of election of individuals to become two peoples, one favored of God, one not favored by God, therefore there is an exact correlation between this and New Testament election. That is, to assume that since Esau and Jacob are individuals, and Paul talks about them in terms of election, therefore New Testament election is about individuals as well. That is not how the new testament writers use the old testament, however: Hebrews 10:1 ”The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves.”

Paul uses Esau and Jacob as analogies. In the Old Testament, Esau and Jacob were elected to be forefathers of two peoples, and the ancestors of the older brother would eventually come to serve and be destroyed by the ancestor of the younger brother. Nothing to do with individuals, nothing to do with eternal salvation.  In fact, there is no account of Esau departing from the faith of Abraham. As Hebrews 10:1 says, the law (the Pentateuch, Genesis through Deuteronomy) is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves. How does the story of God electing Jacob over Esau relate to New Testament election? More on that, below.


The issue is the fact that God is sovereign and that He elects people, nations, and events to do and bring about what He wants. The whole point I have tried to make is that God can and does do what He wants with His creation and this includes individuals.  He raised up Jacob and Esau according to His own plan and will, and it had nothing to do with their deeds. This demonstrates that God is absolutely sovereign. The question is whether or not it carries over to God ordaining people to salvation and letting the others go their natural way, to hell. But first, Paul is establishing that God is absolutely sovereign by using Old Testament examples.  But this critic is trying to distance God's sovereignty over creation and nations from individuals.  He wants it to be okay for God to ordain and direct history and people groups, but not individuals.  Why?  Probably because he wants God to be the way he thinks God out to be.


Original Paper: 
Paul anticipates the reader’s concerns in the next verse and asks the question, "What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!" Paul asks this because of what he has just written down in the previous verses. His question is logical only if you understand what he is saying. We need to ask it, too. "Is God unjust in loving one and hating another?" The obvious answer is "No!"


In terms of eternal salvation, which is what really matters, he would be, according to his own word, which states that his wisdom is impartial, and that he does not show favoritism.
As we saw earlier, there is no reason to believe that the election of Jacob and Esau was for eternal damnation and eternal life, respectively. Therefore one cannot accuse God of being unjust, either. We have yet to establish what New Testament election is about, though, which we will do in due time. So the question has not yet been answered.


Again, the issue thus established is the right of God's sovereignty over His creation.  This includes individuals and will become more evident as Paul brings out more arguments later in the chapter here under discussion.

Furthermore, why would Paul raise the question about God's justice if all that was at stake here was that God is not showing favoritism and/or that He is ordaining people groups to do His will?  That wouldn't be a problem.  But, ordaining individuals to do His will becomes another matter and that is why the question is raised by Paul.

Notice that God is not unjust in loving one and hating another.  He can do what He wants and whatever He does is right.  According to the text, God did not love one and hate another based upon anything they would do, but it was according to God's will.  And, as we have seen earlier, God deals often with people groups as represented by the father and addresses the father of the group specifically.  No difference here.

Election


The issue is God’s sovereignty in election. He can elect who He wants for whatever reason and purpose He wants. The Greek word for "elect" is ”eclectos.” It occurs more than 20 times in the New Testament and is translated as ”elect”, ”chosen,” etc. According to the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, it means “picked out, chosen, chosen by God, to obtain salvation through Christ.” Another Dictionary says it means “picked out, chosen,” and is used of Christ (Luke 23:35), angels (1 Timothy 5:21), Christians (Matthew 24:22), the elect whom God chose (Mark 13:20); the elect who are gathered (Mark 13:27), etc. (Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1981.)  Clearly then, we have established that election is something God does out of His sovereignty and is not based upon something that man does or is.  But, lest we conclude that God does not elect individuals, let's take a look at a couple verses.

Romans 16:13 says, “Greet Rufus, a choice [eklectos] man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.” The word “choice” is “eklektos” which means according to the definitions above, “picked out, chosen by God,” etc. Here we see proof of God electing an individual "in the Lord."  Rufus is obviously an individual and we clearly see that election is related to an individual.

2 John 2:1,13 says, “The elder to the chosen [eklectos] lady [kyria] and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth… 13The children of your chosen [eklectos] sister greet you.” Is the lady an individual?  “Bengel takes the Greek as a proper name Kyria answering to the Hebrew “Martha.” Being a person of influence,” (Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A.R.; and Brown, David, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1998.)  Therefore, we see another example of election related to an individual. 


Also, consider Acts 4:27-28, "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur."  Notice here that Herod and Pontius Pilate were gathered together to do whatever God had predestined to occur.  Obviously, God is definitely involved with individuals and they accomplish His will.

If God elects only groups of people, and not individuals, then does it mean that God does not appoint people to eternal life (Acts 13:48) or that He does not grant that they believe (Phil. 1:29)? Is God waving His hand over a certain population and saying that He appoints, generically, that some people in that group will get saved? If so, does God not know who those people are and what individuals are appointed within that group?  Or should we conclude that God knows that some will get saved because He knows that there is some good thing in them (free will, wisdom, sincerity?) that will cause them to see they need God?  But remember, the Bible tells us that no one is good and that none seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12), that we are deceitful (Jer. 17:9) and full of evil (Mark 7:21-23), etc.  Where is there room in a person for something good?  The scriptures remove that possibility when you examine them.

If God is not electing individuals, then it means that God is not exercising His sovereignty in omniscience and omnipotence, for it would mean that God is merely making a way of salvation and hoping that sinners respond as if it were all up to the individual. But this is problematic since it would mean that God’s choice depends upon man’s choice.  Again, for emphasis, how does a sinner simply choose God when the Bible says of him that he is deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9), is full of evil (Mark 7:21-23), loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19), is unrighteous, does not understand, does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12), is helpless and ungodly (Rom. 5:6), is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3), and cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Now, given that individuals are the ones who are deceitful, full of evil, etc., it follows that individuals are the ones God elects, especially since their natural state of "deadness" is not conducive to coming to Christ on their own...as is evidence by the Apostle Paul before his conversion which is exactly why Paul, the individual, was elected by God for salvation.


God told Ananias to go to the street called Straight and meet Saul (Paul) so he could lay his hands on him so that Saul might regain his sight.  But Ananias responded to the Lord mentioning how he had heard how Saul had killed many Christians. 
Jesus then replies in Acts 9:15, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel."  The word "chosen" in Greek is "ekloge."  In the KJV it is translated as "election" six times and "chosen" one time.  It means,

  • "to make a special choice based upon significant preference, often implying a strongly favorable attitude toward what is chosen - ‘to choose, choice.’" (Louw, Johannes P. and Nida, Eugene A., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains; New York: United Bible Societies;  1988, 1989.) 
  • "the act of picking out, choosing.  the act of God’s free will by which before the foundation of the world he decreed his blessings to certain persons,  the decree made from choice by which he determined to bless certain persons through Christ by grace alone 2) a thing or person chosen 2a) of persons,"  (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.)
  • "picking out, choice, election" (Liddell, H. G., and Scott, Abridged Greek-English Lexicon; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.)


"ekloge occurs seven times in the New Testament. Once it signifies an election to the apostolic office.—Acts 9:15. Once it signifies those chosen to eternal life.—Rom. 11:7. In every other case it signifies the purpose or the act of God in choosing his own people to salvation.—Rom. 9:11; 11:5,28; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:10." (Hodge, A. A., Outlines of Theology; Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 1999.)


Original Paper: 
Then Paul goes on to answer the question in verse 15. "For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’" Notice that Paul does not answer with a feeling. He answers with scripture. Are we understanding what Paul is saying here? Is he saying that God is merciful and compassionate to whom He wishes? It would seem so. Remember verse 11? "...in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls . . . " It is God who calls according to His purpose. Also, consider Ephesians 1:5, "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will."


The real question here is who does he harden and who does he have mercy upon? Using your assumption that Jacob and Esau correlate to two different groups of individuals in terms of new testament election, you assume further that the "elect" individuals are those whom God has mercy upon, and the "nonelect" individuals are those whom God hardens. That is of course an unfounded assumption. The Bible does however answer the "who" question for us. Not only that, it answers it by stating the answer as the conclusion to the entire discourse which Romans chapter 9 is a part of, Romans chapters 1-11: Romans 11:32 ”For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” In other words, all men are hardened, bound over to disobedience. And the very same all men are those he has mercy on. I should add that the conclusion to the discourse does of course have more weight than anything within the discourse itself. Therefore it is only reasonable to force an interpretation of Romans chapter 9 to fit with the clear statement of its conclusion in chapter 11. In other words, we have already established beyond a doubt that New Testament election is not about individuals. This is impossible, since those hardened are the exact same people who are also shed mercy upon.


This critic makes too many assumptions. First of all, I do not assume that God hardens all the non-elect. God does not have to harden anyone in order for them to be damned. They are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) with hearts full of sin (Mark 7:21-23). The text simply says that God has mercy on whom He wants and He hardens whom he wants (Rom.9:15-16). Then in verse 17 it Paul says, ”For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” Clearly, God’s sovereignty is being established clearly.

Second, notice that the critics says that the conclusion is more important than the discourse that leads to the conclusion. That may or may not be true. But he has not established that it is. He merely states it. He then goes on to say that the conclusion of the section is in Romans 11. Even if the conclusion is there, which he has not established, does it mean that Romans 9 does not mean what it says, but that it must be interpreted in light of a conclusion that he states must be located elsewhere in Romans 11:32? This is simply an attempt to draw the conclusion he wants from this section of scripture and dismiss the teaching of Romans 9 regarding the sovereignty of God.  In other words, he jumps away from the immediate context of Romans 9 and goes clear to Romans 11:32 to tell us that Romans 11:32 disproves the idea that God elects individuals - which it does not. Yet, we see in verse 17 above that God has mercy on whom He wants and that He raised up Pharaoh, an individual, to display God’s purpose. The word ”whom” in Greek in this verse is in the singular, not plural. God has mercy on the individuals. If it was meant to establish a generic election of a group, then you would expect a plural usage in Greek of "whom."  Likewise Pharaoh is obviously a single individual whom God chose to harden. Remember the definition of the Greek ”eklektos” above was “picked out, chosen, chosen by God.” Was Pharaoh picked out for the purposes of God? Yes! Was Pharaoh chosen by God to be hardened? He sure was.  If this isn't election, then what is?

Instead of simply looking at what it says, this person skips the issue of Pharaoh, his individuality and then draws another conclusion based on a verse in another chapter. This is not how one should do biblical exegesis.

Furthermore, Romans 11:32 says, "For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all,” (NASB). If anything, this verse proves that all people are condemned by God as sinners for disobeying the law of God. And since people are deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9), full of evil (Mark 7:21-23), love darkness rather than light (John 3:19), are unrighteous, do not understand, do not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12), are helpless and ungodly (Rom. 5:6), are dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), and cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14), how does such a person simply say, ”Hey, I need God.”  That would stand in stark contradiction to these scriptures which clearly tell us that our natural state has no inclination towards God at all? 


Original Paper: 
Original Paper: You see, God’s choice of predestination, mercy, and compassion are "according to the kind intention of His will," "because of Him who calls."

Paul draws a conclusion that needs to be taken very seriously. Verse 16 says, "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy." What does not depend on the man who wills? The answer is, God’s mercy. God does not look at a person to see what or who he is and then decide to show mercy, love, or save that person based on what He sees in that person. To say so would be say that we are somehow worthy of something before God on our own and it would imply that God is showing partiality to someone based on something in the individual.  This is unbiblical.

But some will say that God looks into the future to see who would pick him based on the calling of the Holy Spirit that is working through Jesus, and ultimately, the cross. But this passage is refuting that precisely. Just go over it again and see that the Holy Spirit is not mentioned nor is any criteria of future knowledge.  In fact, if God did look into the future to see who would pick Him, that would mean that God had to look into the future to learn something and that, of course, is ridiculous.


I agree completely. New Testament election if [sic] not about electing individuals through foreknowledge of what they will eventually end up doing in terms of faith or unbelief. That idea has already been destroyed above, since that would also makes [sic] new testament election revolve around the individual.


This critic begs the question; he assumes the thing he is trying to prove and erringly believes that God does not elect individuals.  We have seen above from at least two scriptures that God elects individuals: Romans 16:13 says, “Greet Rufus, a choice [eklectos] man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.” The word “choice” is “eklektos” which means “picked out, chosen by God,” etc. Also, 1 John 2:1,13 says, “The elder to the chosen [eklectos] lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth… The children of your chosen [eklectos] sister greet you.”  Let's not forget that Pharaoh was picked out by God, too.  Here we see proof of God electing individuals.

But, if that weren’t enough, Romans 9 clearly speaks of other individuals, though not by name, in numerous places when it uses singular references:  me, thing, vessel, etc. More on this later.


Original Paper:
Paul then quotes Exodus 9:16 about the Lord raising up Pharaoh for the very purpose of having God’s "name proclaimed throughout the whole earth." Then Paul says in verse 18, "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires." We are forced to a conclusion about God’s mercy. Is God sovereign to whom He shows His mercy, or is it based upon something in man? This raises an important issue about the greatness of God and the sinfulness of man. Are we capable of meriting mercy? Are we able to see that we need God? Are we somehow free enough to be able to want God? Or does our sinful nature make that impossible? We must ask and answer the question, "Is God, the "only sovereign" (1 Tim. 6:15) the One who chooses how and upon whom His mercy is bestowed?  And, we must ask, is the sinner truly able to decide for God on his own even though the Bible seems to lock him up under the bondage of sin and rebellion?


Again, you are assuming that there is a direct correlation between God's hardening Pharaoh as an individual and New Testament election, meaning that you see that as a sign that God hardens specific individuals and has mercy upon other specific individuals.


Yes, that is exactly what I am saying and that is exactly what the text says, too. Romans 9:18 says, "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires." As I said before, the ”whom” of the verse is in the singular, not in the plural. In Greek we can have a plural construction of this word and it would be used if the intent was to convey that groups were elected. However, the plural usage is not there. This clearly demonstrate that the flow of the text is dealing with individuals.

Furthermore, Pharaoh, the individual, was hardened by God.  If God simply wants all people to be saved, then what is He doing hardening Pharoah's heart?  And just to make sure you understand the issue, please take at look at the following verses:

  • "just as it is written, 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day,'" (Rom. 11:8).
  • "And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12in order that while seeing, they may see and not perceive; and while hearing, they may hear and not understand lest they return and be forgiven," (Mark 4:11-12).
  • "And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false," (2 Thess. 2:11).
  • "And the Lord said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go," (Exodus 4:21).
  • "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires," (Rom. 9:18).


That is not the testimony of the Bible. The conclusion of Romans 1-11 is that God has bound all men over to disobedience. How does God do that? The same way he did it with Pharaoh. He issues law, and the law hardens the human being in that it determines that he is incapable and unwilling to keep it: Romans 3:19, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.  20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."


This critic again assumes too much and makes unsubstantiated claims. He says that individual election is not the testimony of the Bible. If it isn’t, then what about Joseph, Abraham, Moses, David, etc., all individuals who were elected by God and ordained specifically for certain tasks?  And look at Paul the apostle, He was elected by Christ not only to serve as a Christian but also to be saved since it was not in the heart of Paul to come to Christ.  But it was in the heart of God to harden whom He wills and show mercy to whom He wills, just as He showed mercy to the individual who became the Apostle Paul. 

Furthermore, this person misses an important part of the Bible regarding Pharaoh. He references Pharaoh and then states that it is the law that hardens the heart due to disobedience. First of all, the Law is a reflection of God’s character. It is, essentially, a concept. How does this concept, this Law perform the action of hardening the heart? Is it alive and and does it move in a person and makes a person become hard? Exodus 9:12 says, ”And the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.” See Exodus 4:21 for God’s prediction that He would do this to Pharaoh specifically. In fact, God has done this kind of thing to others as well: "But Sihon king of Heshbon was not willing for us to pass through his land; for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, in order to deliver him into your hand, as he is today," (Deut. 2:30). Notice that God also hardened the heart of Sihon. So, is God active in the hearts of individuals? Obviously yes. Does He hardened individuals? Absolutely! Does God have ”mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires,” most assuredly yes. Since God hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and Sihon, both individuals, then it is fair to say that God can soften the hearts of individuals as well as is evidenced in Paul the Apostle.  This is why Romans 9:18 clearly says that God has mercy on whom [singular] He desires and He hardens whom [singular] He desires. Why does He do this? Romans 9:23 answers it, “And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.”

Of particular importance here is the fact that God is indeed concerned with individuals, hardens individual’s hearts, and has mercy on individuals as He desires. Like it or not, God is in sovereign control and this critic is simply failing to understand God's sovereignty, not only over groups, but also over individuals.


Since every man has been bound over to disobedience by the law, which makes every man stand guilty of breaking it, God has issued a new path to salvation, a new means to having mercy upon mankind: Romans 3:21, ”But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. [emphasis original]


This is another error made by the critic of God’s sovereignty over individuals. In the verse sentence above he says that ”God has issued a new path to salvation.” There is no new path of salvation. It has always been that salvation is by the shed blood of Christ received by faith. We see the shedding of blood in the garden of Eden prophetically exemplifying the sacrifice of Christ.  We see Abraham justified by faith before the Law was given (Rom. 4:1-10). Lev. 17:11 states that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The ”path” to salvation has always been by faith, not by works. The Law was a task master to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24), because we cannot keep the Law.  The Law was given to show us our helpless ness, to demonstrate God's holiness, to provide a legal means of atonement, and to be a guide to the Christian once saved.  If this person cannot understand that salvation has always been by faith, he needs to go back to the Bible and do some more studying.  It is these subtle errors that add up to bring this critic to his erring conclusion.


Notice that verses 23 and 24 echo Romans 11:32. The same all who have sinned, are the same all who are justified. Why ? Because the verbs sinned and justified share the same subject. "All have sinned...and are justified". The groups are inseparable, they are the one and the same group.
[Emphasis mine]


It seems now that this person is teaching universalism, the error that all people will be saved. Justification occurs only to the believer and not all are saved. Such basic errors woven into the argument of this critic certainly weakens his overall position. He is not rightly dividing God’s word here.

Original Paper: Again Paul anticipates the possible objections to his teaching about God’s sovereign mercy and grace. He says in verse 19, "You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault, for who resists His will?’" In other words, if God is merciful to whom He wishes, He hardens whom He desires, and it does not depend on anything in man, then how can He judge anyone? How can we still be held responsible for our sins?  Paul’s answer to this question is an appeal to the direct sovereignty of God. He says in verses 20 - 21, "On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?


The reason why man has no reason to talk back to God, is that God has both hardened him - bound him over to disobedience - and issued a means to having mercy upon him, at the same time. By the gospel, the same man who was hardened by law, may also attain mercy.


It is apparent that this critic has missed the whole meaning of the text. Romans 9:19 is asking a question in reference to the previous verses about God’s absolute sovereignty over individuals (Pharaoh thus named). The natural question to ask is about the fairness of God doing this and that is exactly what Paul addresses in verse 19 when He says, ”Why does He still find fault, for who resists His will?” What ”will” is the question referring to? It is the will of God to harden the heart of Pharaoh (an individual). This is the fact found in scripture and understanding that fact is what logically brings the question of ”Why does He still find fault...?” Note Paul’s answer, "On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” Note that the word "man" is singular in the Greek, as is the word ”thing”, and the word ”me” and ”it” are all singular. This is not a reference to a generic group of people who are predestined to be saved, elected to be saved, or hardened or softened. It is in reference to individuals. This is what the text actually does say.

If we were to carry this further and write the verse as though it was dealing with a group of people, it might read, "On the contrary, who are you, O people, who answers back to God?  The things molded will not say to the molder, 'Why did you make us like this,' will they?"  But, that is not what it says and that.  The verse, as are other verses in this context, contains singular references.


Original Paper: 
  21"Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?" God has the right to do as He wishes with His creation. God is sovereign. Paul is saying here that God makes one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use. He is differentiating between the vessels and their use...all based on God’s sovereign right to do as He wishes.  Also, notice here that the singular "one vessel" is used.


The real question here is precisely what is "a vessel for honorable use" and precisely what is "a vessel for common use". We will determine that below.


Original Paper:
Paul doesn’t stop there. He makes sure that we understand what he is saying. So he continues in verse 22, "What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among the Gentiles." Does God prepare vessels for destruction?  Would God actually do such a thing? The answer is, "Yes." Isn’t this what sovereignty is and isn't that what the text says, like it or not?

But some have said that this is a hypothetical situation, that even though God has the right make some vessels for mercy and others for destruction, He would never do so because it would mean that he was not loving.  The reason is because Paul says in verse 23, "And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among the Gentiles."  Did you catch the beginning of that verse? It says that God did it.

As you can see, this is a difficult passage. It can be a powerful shock to some and a confirmation of God’s character and sovereignty to others. Still, some will simply respond with denial. But if I am wrong, then please show me from the passage where and how.


This is where I am going to prove what New Testament election is about. Romans 9:22 states, ”What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath-prepared for destruction?” Now, where can I find the key to unlocking the true meaning of "an object of wrath"? It isn't found in the passage itself. Romans 11:32 gives us an idea, but Paul himself answers that precise question here: Ephesians 2:1, ”As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." This shatters the Calvinistic idea that objects of wrath refers to one group of individuals, and objects of glory refers to another group of individuals.


First of all, notice that this person jumps to some other place in scripture to get the meaning of Romans 9:22-23 to change. He tries but fails for what he cites does not support his presupposition. He denies that individuals are being spoken of here but it is clear from the context that individuals are being spoken of since Pharaoh, and individual was named, as was the ”thing” molded (singular), why did you make me (singular) like this, etc.


Second, the plural use of objects in Eph. 2:3 does not mean that individuals are not objects of wrath.  If you have a bunch of individuals who are objects of wrath, you would use the plural "objects" instead of the singular "object."  That is natural.  Romans 9:9-23 deals in several places with individuals and singular references.  We have seen from above.  I cite them again.

  • Romans 16:13, “Greet Rufus, a choice [eklectos] man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.” 
  • 2 John 2:1,13, “The elder to the chosen [eklectos] lady [kyria] and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth… 13The children of your chosen [eklectos] sister greet you.”
  • Acts 9:15, "Go, for he{Saul/Paul]  is a chosen [ekloge] instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel." The word "chosen" in Greek is "ekloge."
    • "ekloge" means "the act of picking out, choosing. the act of God’s free will by which before the foundation of the world he decreed his blessings to certain persons, the decree made from choice by which he determined to bless certain persons through Christ by grace alone 2) a thing or person chosen 2a) of persons," (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.)


Obviously, individuals are elected by God.


The reason why is that we, the Christians, the elect, used to be objects of wrath. And we are no more. We changed. Therefore New Testament election is not about individuals, because the individual is capable of being applied a change to. This change is called being born again.


I think at this point it is rather obvious that the critic is quite wrong.  Furthermore, we didn’t change. We were changed; God changed us.  It wasn’t our doing. It was God’s doing. We are the ones who receive newness of life. We don’t go get it ourselves. We were made new creatures by God (2 Cor. 5:17-18), not by our choice or works or maintenance thorugh our own will. This is a subtle but important point because it reveals that this critic has a man-centered theology that has slipped out.


From death to life

From sin to sanctification

From old sinner to new creature in Christ

From object of wrath to object of glory


Yes, because of God’s election of me as an individual, I am saved. To God be the glory.  He didn't elect a group called the Gentiles and hope I'd choose Him and wait to see what would happen.  On the contrary.  God is sovereignly in control.


New Testament election is about classes of being. Represented by Esau and Jacob. By Isaac and Ishmael. Those born according to promise vs those born according to the flesh. It is the same way today.


I have already demonstrated that individuals are spoken of in Romans 9, Acts 9:15 (Paul), Romans 16:13 (Rufus), and 2 John 2:1,13 (chosen lady), thereby proving that election is also of individuals.


Those born according to the flesh, are prepared for destruction. Either in the lake of fire, or more preferably, at the cross. In the latter case, the object of wrath is replaced by an object of glory, which was prepared in the resurrection of Christ: John 12:23, ”Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
24I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” That kernel of wheat is Jesus himself, God's Elect, God's Chosen One, God's Anointed. 


This critic has demonstrated to the reader that Jesus, an individual was elected to do what He did.


In his resurrection, more seeds than that one seed were prepared, new creatures in Christ were prepared, new identities that human beings could obtain by undergoing a new birth where the object of wrath was destroyed and replaced by the new creature in Christ, a new seed which will eventually take over the human being completely. 2 Cor 5:17, ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The object of wrath is gone, the old sinner has been done away with as Romans 6:6-7 declares, and it has been replaced by an object of glory. And the call to become such objects of glory, is out: Romans 9:24, ”even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 
25As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," 26and, "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" The same theme is brought up in verses 25-26. Paul uses the Gentiles as an example of people who will go from objects of wrath - not counted neither as his loved ones nor as his people - to objects of glory, sons of the living God. And that is why Romans 9, when understood properly, is a gospel message: God hardened us as the objects of wrath that we were, but he did this so that he could have mercy upon us by making us into objects of his glory instead, by the new birth. (emphasis original)


He says that Romans 9 is a gospel message. It is an interesting proposition to state this, but I just don’t see it. The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for our sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4). This is not mentioned at all in Romans 9:9-23. But what is mentioned is Jacob and Esau related to God’s sovereignty as is Pharaoh (the individual God hardened), as well as the mention of individuals in the text:  "me," "thing," "vessel." The issue is God’s sovereignty in doing with His creation and with individuals as He wills. To say that Romans 9, ”when understood properly” is a gospel message seems a bit stretched...all this to try and try to steer Romans 9 away from the issue of God dealing sovereignly, via election with individuals.


Original Paper:
A Test: As I said before, there is a test in this passage. If you did not ask the same basic questions that Paul did throughout this passage, then that means that you did not understand what he was saying. But, if you did ask the same basic questions that he did, then that means you did understand what he was saying. Let me ask you, did you understand what Paul was saying? If so, do you believe it? If not, why not?


I will ask those basic questions, and I will supply reasonable answers to those questions, something I have not seen in your discourse anywhere.


This is an unfortunate comment by this person who has demonstrated several exegetical errors. It seems that my unreasonableness is unreasonable to him because it disagrees with what he thinks the text ought to mean.


Romans 9:14, What then shall we say? Is God unjust? The answer to that question is, No. And the reason why he isn't being unjust, is that his purpose in electing the sinner for destruction, is so that he can destroy him and then replace him with a new creature, molded in the image of Christ. Since this is available to all men, therefore God is not unjust in preparing the sinner for destruction.


  First of all, Romans 9:14 says (with verses 12 and 13 included for context), ”it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!”

Romans 9:14, which he references, is not dealing with the subject of being molded. That isn’t until Romans 9:20. It seems this person is getting a little mixed up regarding what verses refer to what subject.


Also, earlier he stated that God doens't elect individuals, and then here he says God does.  But when he admits it here, he says that the same persons is both elected to destruction as well as mercy. But, that is not what the text says.  It says in Romans 9:21, "Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?"  Please note that Paul is talking about different vessels:  on for honorable use and the other for common use.  There is nothing in the text to say they are the same person.  Obviously, he is stretching the meaning of the text to make his theology fit into it.

I prefer to simply read it in such a way that I end up asking the same question or raising the same complaint as Paul. I certainly would be more prone to say, ”Hey that’s not fair” if the text said that God elected some individuals to salvation and not others. I would not be so prone to do so if the text said that God was electing groups. If it were that latter case, then who cares? After all, it would not be individuals but groups of people ordained to salvation and individuals in those groups then make their own choices. That would sit well with my sensibilities... but, it would not cause me to ask the same questions Paul did. Therefore, I must read the text in such a way that my understanding of it causes me to raise the same objections. Once I have been doing that here by defending my position, then I am understanding what Paul is teaching and I must submit myself to it...whether I like it or not.


Romans 9:19, ”One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" God could have let be hardening us by the demands of the law, whether in written form or as written in the conscience. Instead, he did it to silence every mouth so that everyone would stand accountable to him. For specific transgressions against his law. Instead of making it possible to please him, he simply demonstrated that everyone was hopeless, and destined them all for destruction. Where then is the blame ? The blame is in that men do not believe: John 3:18, ”Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” An object of wrath, hardened into its sinful shape by God's law, can not change itself. That is why Paul asks how God can blame us. But God has made it possible for the object of wrath to be destroyed then replaced by an object of glory, if only the human being involved will believe. That is why he still blames us - for not believing. Because that is possible for us to do.”


The confusing sentence after the scripture quote above is in the original, so it is difficult to understand exactly what he is saying. Nevertheless, I know of no place in scripture where it says that the Law hardens a person’s heart. I have demonstrated that God does this, but where is the scripture that says the Law can do it to?  I did a search on my computer Bible program in the NASB for any verses that contained both words ”Law” and ”harden(ed)(s)” and found nothing. I expanded it to include any verses where the word ”law” was within 3 verses of ”harden(ed)(s)” and still found nothing. I will conclude such a relationship does not exist and that this person’s theory is unfounded.  Furthermore, as stated above, how can a concept ”law” perform the action of hardening a heart. You either harden your own heart of God does it.

I have already addressed the issue of Romans 9:21 which says that one vessel is prepared for destruction and another for mercy, not the same vessel which is what this person is saying.


Original Paper:
Objections: This passage is not speaking of individuals but a class of people. This cannot be true because specific people are mentioned: Jacob, Esau, and Pharaoh.


This has already been addressed, but I may recount: Jacob, Esau and Pharaoh are Old Testament shadows of the New Testament reality to come, in terms of election. They are not the realties themselves. Therefore there is no reason to expect that because Jacob, Esau and Pharaoh are distinct individuals, therefore New Testament election works the same way. Indeed, we have already seen from the letter of the Romans itself and Ephesians chapter 2, that that is not the case.


I have already addressed this above and will simply repeat it here in brief.

  • Romans 16:13, “Greet Rufus, a choice [eklectos] man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.” 
  • 2 John 2:1,13, “The elder to the chosen [eklectos] lady [kyria] and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth… 13The children of your chosen [eklectos] sister greet you.”
  • Acts 9:15, "Go, for he{Saul/Paul]  is a chosen [ekloge] instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel." The word "chosen" in Greek is "ekloge."
    • "ekloge" means "the act of picking out, choosing. the act of God’s free will by which before the foundation of the world he decreed his blessings to certain persons, the decree made from choice by which he determined to bless certain persons through Christ by grace alone 2) a thing or person chosen 2a) of persons," (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.)


Original Paper:
Also, vessels are people. The word ‘vessel’ in Greek is “skeuos.” It is used in different senses and means utensils and containers of ordinary household use. But when it is used of people it means individuals. Acts 9:15, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument (skeuos) of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.”  1 Thess. 4:4, “that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor." This usage means either ‘own body’ or possibly ‘wife.’ Again, it is speaking of individuals.


Okay, a vessel is a person. The whole purpose of the gospel is however to create a new person in the wake of the old one, which is destroyed in the process. This starts with being born again, and continues with a process called sanctification, and is completed by being given an entirely new body. In the end, nothing is left of the initial person, and the new person is all there is.

In other words, the object of wrath passes away, and is eventually completely replaced by the new object of glory.


I am glad to see this person finally admit that the term "vessel" used here in Romans is referring to individuals.  In that case, this person's premise that the text is not speaking of individuals but groups of people is proven wrong by his own words.

Let's review the text and let’s add the word "individuals" in there.  ”What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels (individuals) of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels (individuals) of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,” (Rom. 9:22-23). Obviously, this demonstrates the sovereignty of God even over individuals and the critic has shown himself incorrect.


Original Paper: 
2 Tim. 2:21, “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." You can see here too, that the usage is of an individual. Not a class of people.


This particular verse works against you. I'll quote it in full: 2 Tim 2:20, ”In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” The idea Paul is trying to promote is that by a process of sanctification, the remant [sic] of the object of wrath (or article for ignoble use) is cleansed out of a person, and the person then becomes more fully the object of glory (instrument for noble purposes) he was born again to be. The main theme here is that the man in question becomes something he isn't to being with [sic], an instrument for noble purposes. His status changes.


Apparently, this person has a very faulty understanding of what it means to be justified by faith. We are not changed from objects of wrath to objects of mercy because of our self-cleansing.  Instead, this self-cleansing, this sanctification is a process that God puts the believer through in order to make the believer more like Christ. Justification, on the other hand, is the legal declaration by God upon the sinner where the sinner is declared righteous in God's eyes. Simultaneous with this justification is regeneration and eternal life. That is, when we are made right before God we are regenerated.  Upon our justification, we are saved.


This individual simply fails to understand the biblical doctrine of justification by Grace through faith and fails also to comprehend that sanctification does not make us anymore worthy to be with God. We are made worthy to be with God based completely and solely on the work of Christ on the cross. 


Original Paper: 
1 Pet. 3:7, “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman...” Even though husbands is plural, vessel is singular.  God’s election is not for a class or type of people, but of individuals. That is why Jesus said in John 6:39, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” Jesus was not given a class or group of people but the elect, the ones chosen, the individuals. If you think about it, it couldn’t be any other way. After all, is God only guessing at who will be saved and, therefore, prophesied a ‘group’ of people? Not at all. He is omniscient. He knows exactly who are His.


John 6:39 addresses what will happen to believers who die. They will be raised on the last day, with certainty. Regarding who it is that God has given Jesus, the answer to that is not so apparent in the verse itself. It could be that God gives to Jesus those who respond to the call of the Spirit. For instance.


There are several things worth mentioning here. First, I would like to clarify that God does indeed elect groups of people.  He did this with national Israel.  Second, God does elect individuals as I have proven above.  Third, we are simply covering old ground at this point.


Original Paper: 
This doctrine of sovereign predestination makes God unloving.

On the contrary. Because of man’s sinful nature, no one would ever come to God. Remember, it is man who cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14); is full of evil (Mark 7:21-23); does not seek for God (Rom. 3:11); is lawless, rebellious, unholy, and profane (1 Tim. 1:9); and is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). If it were left up to man, no one would ever be saved. God, in His loving predestination, assured to Himself His people, the ones who He called and predestined: “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” By God’s own words, predestination is a loving doctrine.


God has stated in his own word the following: James 3:17, ”But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (Emphasis original). Electing one person over an other without due cause, is a case of partiality, per definition. Partiality towards the person elected. In particular since the election we are talking about is supposed to determine each individual's eternal destiny, and not just a temporary arrangement as was the case with Esau's birthright.


We are not privileged to know the criteria by which God makes his election. It is something that resides in God's will and not ours as is stated in Eph. 1:5, ”He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” So, for this person to state that the Reformed position that God is electing one person over an other without due cause is a moot question since God is the ones who performs the electing and the Bible tells us that God does it according to his will.  God knows what and why He does what He does.  We are not privileged to know the mind of God.

Partiality would be shown if God looked into a person and elected the person based upon what was in that person. In other words, if God made His choice by something in an individual, it would be demonstrating partiality to that individual. That cannot be the case since the Bible clearly declares that there is nothing good in us; namely, that we are by nature sinners, by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3).


Electing the new man formed in the image of Christ over the sinner born according to the flesh, is however a matter of electing holiness over sin, which means that God remains impartial towards the individual, but rather partial towards holiness. Which is a legitimate form of justice.


God does not elect us because we are formed new in the image of Christ. Rather we are formed new in the image of Christ because God elects us.  Again, God does not make His choice based upon what we do - as is stated in Romans 9:11.


If God did elect based upon something in us, a choice, or quality, etc., then this would not be sovereignty. This would be God responding to us.  It would mean that God's choice depended upon our choice. If God's choice depended upon our choice then how is God omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent over the situation of the individual's life?  Since the individual is a sinner by nature who cannot understand spiritual things, is dead in his trespasses and since, is full of evil, has sinful heart, and does not seek for God, how is it that this person simply decides that he will choose God and therefore be made new in the image of Christ in order for God to then elect him by looking into the future to see what he would do? It makes no sense.


Acts 10:34, "Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right."
(emphasis original)


Of course, what Peter is referring to a simply that God is not showing favoritism only to the Jews, but is being merciful to the gentiles also by including them in His plan of salvation.


Peter states this as a reaction to the salvation of the first Gentiles. Electing one person over another without due cause, is a case of favoritism, per definition. That is precisely why that doctrine is not the truth, rather it is a misrepresentation of scripture.


It seems this critic wants to imply that "due cause" would mean that God chose someone because they first chose Him, or because there was some good quality in him.  But, I have already addressed this error above.  True impartiality means that God does not base His choice upon some choice or condition or quality in man. Rather it is based, as Eph. 1:5 says, upon the kind intention of God's will.


Electing the new man formed in the image of Christ over the sinner born according to the flesh, is not a matter of favoritism, for the simple reason that the call is out to mankind in general, and anyone may respond to it and be born again, and thereby counted as one of the elect.


Of course, he begs the question by assuming the thing he has been trying to prove. He simply assumes that a person is able to respond out of the goodness of his own heart contrary to put the Bible says when it describes the natural man has dead in his sins, full of evil, a nature of God, who cannot understand spiritual things, and two does not seek for God. This person is hopeful that the Scriptures will conform to his preferences, but it does not.


James 2:9, ”But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” Scripture even goes as far as defining favoritism as a sin. The reason why, as is also outlined in the Old Testament, is that it perverts justice. More specifically, it violates the most basic principle of justice, that of equal justice for all.

With New Testament election, this principle is upheld, since everyone is hardened by the law, then everyone receives mercy by the gospel. The "whosoever" who responds to the call and thereby comes to believe, that is. Regarding questions concerning his reply, Steingrim Vold can be reached at the following email address :
melgibson2@yahoo.com <mailto:melgibson2@yahoo.com


This debate could go on forever. But I will close with the words of scripture regarding the "whosoever." Acts 13:48, ”And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” And, Phil. 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”  Whosoever believes are the ones who have been appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48) and have been granted the act of believing (Phil. 1:29). Both the appointing and the granting of believers are accomplished by God. Therefore, who so ever will believe is who so ever are appointed to by God to have eternal life and are granted by God to believe....just as Paul was appointed by God to have eternal life and was granted to believe because he was a chosen instrument of the Lord (Acts 9:15).


In conclusion, I would like to say that truth is sometimes difficult for us to handle, especially when it goes against our feelings.  Whether or not you agree with my analysis of God's sovereignty over individuals or not, you should study the word and become convinced according to your own understanding.  There is room in the body of Christ to disagree.  But, this disagreement would be done in love, without pointing fingers accusing one another of heresy.  Try and be fair to God's word and submit your hearts, your mind, and your feelings to it and not it to them.

 


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Copyright by Matthew J. Slick, B.A., M. Div., 2012
I welcome your comments via E-mail at carmstuff@yahoo.com