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Thread: God alone at work in Romans 9

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    Professor and Chaplain Littlejoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    "Scripture says to Pharaoh" as an individual, are you saying that Egypt was meant in this passage, and not Pharaoh?

    Yes. I seems obvious that Pharoh many times said yes initially but the people (esp. his advisors) would sway him back to no.




    But they don't eliminate the singular, it is mysterious to me why discussing Jacob and Esau and what was said to them eliminates Jacob and Esau.
    It's mysterious to me why when seeing Paul write "it is written..." that someone would not then find the passage Paul is quoting and look at the context of the original quote. The quote is from the Book of Malachi. Malachi wrote this a long time after the time of Jacob and Esau .


    Scripture Verse: Malachi 1:2 NASB

    The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.


    2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob;

    © Copyright Original Source



    Notice how the tense changes from singular to plural? "How have you loved US".

    Scripture Verse: Malachi 1:3-4 NASB

    but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” 4 Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins”; thus says the Lord of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.”

    © Copyright Original Source

    See how Esau is explained by changing the reference to Edom, the descendents of Esau? Paul is obviously using Jacob and Esau as a typology of the nations of Israel and Edom. In context, there is no individual in play here. Paul is obviously, as Phat8594 has said all along, contrasting the elect group from the non-elect group and not individual election.
    "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

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    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phat8594 View Post
    Pharaoh, as a leader, spoke for his people as a whole. It is important to remember that Hebrew culture was not as individualistic as our western culture.
    Yes, and yet God was speaking to Pharaoh, "you" is singular throughout. It was Pharaoh's decision to let them go or not, not the nation of Egypt's decision:

    "Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go." (Ex 9:17)

    I see nowhere in this text ( or anywhere), where we should get the interpretation of 'God created Pharaoh the individual to be damned to hell by no choice of his own so that God would be glorified more' This wouldn't do justice to the context.
    "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, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles." (Rom 9:22–24)

    I can appreciate where you are coming from. So this seems to be the crux of this issue. Is Paul referring to Jacob and Esau the individual or is he using them allegorically as representations of people groups?
    Or is he referring to both individuals and groups? Surely both are in view here, and Paul is referring to individuals specifically here:

    "Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad..." (Rom 9:10-11)

    What in that text leads you to believe it was divinely sanctioned?
    "He will be blessed!" said Isaac, recognizing God's choice in blessing Jacob.

    Why do you assume that the blessing has to be specific to the individuals rather than the ancestral line which was to come (by the promise of God, no less)
    It's both! To Jacob personally, and to his descendants.

    This of course, would also raise the question that if Paul believed that God created Israel (minus 'the remnant') to be damned to hell and that it would bring God greater glory, why would he pray to God that they may be saved? (since, it would already be predetermined, based on the monergistic interpretation)
    That would be a whole other topic. I do agree that Paul prays for the non-elect, and thus I have hope that they may also be granted repentance.


    “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,”

    and,

    “In the very place where it was said to them,
    ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ” (Rom 9:25–26)

    If this is the case, then why should we uproot the historical understanding of Free Will that was so essential to the Early Church in their interpretation of Scripture and in warding off heresies held by gnostic groups?
    Because it's not Scriptural? I notice that the Justin Martyr quote references no Scripture, and there is no Scripture I know of that says "man is not accountable if he cannot freely choose."

    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

  3. #13
    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Littlejoe View Post
    Yes. I seems obvious that Pharoh many times said yes initially but the people (esp. his advisors) would sway him back to no.
    I see where Pharaoh said no, and his advisors said yes, but not the other way around.

    It's mysterious to me why when seeing Paul write "it is written..." that someone would not then find the passage Paul is quoting and look at the context of the original quote. The quote is from the Book of Malachi. Malachi wrote this a long time after the time of Jacob and Esau .
    Yet Paul is also talking specifically of what happened to Jacob and Esau, both individuals and groups are in view.

    "Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad..." (Rom 9:10-11)

    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Yes, and yet God was speaking to Pharaoh, "you" is singular throughout. It was Pharaoh's decision to let them go or not, not the nation of Egypt's decision:

    "Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go." (Ex 9:17)
    Of course God was speaking to Pharaoh -- he was the figurehead and leader of a people. Or was the judgment of God only limited to Pharaoh and not the whole of Egypt?


    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    "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, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles." (Rom 9:22–24)
    Using this verse as justification for the idea that ''God created Pharaoh the individual to be damned to hell by no choice of his own so that God would be glorified more' - does the text absolutely no justice for several reasons.

    1. Paul is posing a hypothetical question 'What if...'
    2. Paul's point is that man does not get to choose the 'how' of God's choice. (Jew's thought it was unfair for a Gentile who did not live by the law to inherit the promises of God - Paul is showing it's by faith and NOT by works...)
    3. Monergism is nowhere in this text (unless it is placed on it prior)
    4. It would not be congruent with the rest of Romans:

    e.g.

    He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking[a] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. Romans 2:6-11


    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Or is he referring to both individuals and groups? Surely both are in view here, and Paul is referring to individuals specifically here:

    "Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad..." (Rom 9:10-11)
    And why do you stop there? Outside of merely asserting 'He is referring to individuals' - there is no textual evidence to actually suggest he is. In fact, when you place that verse back into the context of the surrounding verse you see:

    And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.Romans 9:10-13

    1. Both quotes Paul is referring to are speaking of peoples / nations --NOT individuals. So to claim it is referring to individuals would be to go against what the text actually shows. So the question we must all ask ourselves is "What is the TEXT actually saying?'. The last thing I would want to do is to impose my theology onto the text, rather than change my theology to fit the text. And I am sure you would agree...

    2. Paul is showing that inheriting the promises is received NOT by works. If it were, they would not be received by anyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    It's both! To Jacob personally, and to his descendants.
    Not quite sure how this answers the question: "Why do you assume that the blessing has to be specific to the individuals rather than the ancestral line which was to come (by the promise of God, no less)"

    It merely restates the premise....IOW it does not answer the question, nor provide clarity. It is essentially begging the question.

    It would be much like someone asking

    'Why do you believe X is true?'

    and the other person says

    'Because X is true'

    This is circular in reasoning.


    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    "He will be blessed!" said Isaac, recognizing God's choice in blessing Jacob.
    Not quite sure how this clearly qualifies for: "What in that text leads you to believe it was divinely sanctioned?"

    Unless you are willing to surmise that every time in the Bible someone says 'You will be blessed' as a human would qualify as a divinely sanctioned blessing that is unspecified but surely understood....


    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Because it's not Scriptural? I notice that the Justin Martyr quote references no Scripture, and there is no Scripture I know of that says "man is not accountable if he cannot freely choose."
    And yet again, why do you just supposed the whole early church got it wrong and were 'not Scriptural'? Why be so quick to think the whole of the Early Church got it wrong and the gnostics (considered heretical by the early church) got it right?

    "We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, chastisements, and rewards are rendered according to the merit of each man's actions. Otherwise, if all things happen by fate, then nothing is in our own power. For if it is predestined that one man be good and another man evil, then the first is not deserving of praise or the other to be blamed. Unless humans have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions—whatever they may be.... For neither would a man be worthy of reward or praise if he did not of himself choose the good, but was merely created for that end. Likewise, if a man were evil, he would not deserve punishment, since he was not evil of himself, being unable to do anything else than what he was made for." - Justin Martyr

    "Neither praise nor condemnation, neither rewards nor punishments, are right if the soul does not have the power of choice and avoidance, if evil is involuntary."
    - Clement

    “Those [pagans] who decide that man does not have free will, but say that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate, are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause and author of human evils.” - Methodius
    "This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will (toward us) is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves"
    - Irenaeus

    "”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds”…And ”Why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say?’…All such passages demonstrate the independent will of man…For it is in man’s power to disobey God and to forfeit what is good." - Irenaeus


    Secondly, the idea that people are accountable to only what is in their ability is simply common sense, and would be considered to be an underlying assumption. In fact, this very assumption is clear throughout Scripture (note quote's above by Church Father's) - and is logical as to what justice actually is. IOW, punishing someone for something they are incapable of doing is unjust and unrighteous.

    As an example, what would you think of a father who spanked a 6-month old for not cleaning his room?


    The idea that God has placed the decision in our hands is throughout Scripture and is an underlying principle throughout. God is NOT partial (as monergism asserts):


    11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

    15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God[a] that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules,[b] then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
    Deuteronomy 30:11-20
    Last edited by phat8594; 03-18-2018 at 11:08 PM.

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    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phat8594 View Post
    Of course God was speaking to Pharaoh -- he was the figurehead and leader of a people. Or was the judgment of God only limited to Pharaoh and not the whole of Egypt?
    So now we agree that both individuals and groups are in view in Romans 9?

    1. Paul is posing a hypothetical question 'What if...'
    Literally it's "but if", though, and God's displaying the riches of his glory (the second half of this statement) is not hypothetical.

    2. Paul's point is that man does not get to choose the 'how' of God's choice. (Jew's thought it was unfair for a Gentile who did not live by the law to inherit the promises of God - Paul is showing it's by faith and NOT by works...)
    No, Paul's point is that "God choosing" is the focus in the potter and clay analogy.

    And why do you stop there? Outside of merely asserting 'He is referring to individuals' - there is no textual evidence to actually suggest he is.
    But we can't read "before the nations were born or had done anything good or bad".

    2. Paul is showing that inheriting the promises is received NOT by works.
    Right, not by works, but by him who calls. That's monergism.

    Not quite sure how this clearly qualifies for: "What in that text leads you to believe it was divinely sanctioned?"

    Unless you are willing to surmise that every time in the Bible someone says 'You will be blessed' as a human would qualify as a divinely sanctioned blessing that is unspecified but surely understood....
    But Jacob was speaking prophetically, surely you believe his blessing was divinely sanctioned, and saying "he will be blessed" recognizes that sanction.

    And yet again, why do you just supposed the whole early church got it wrong and were 'not Scriptural'? Why be so quick to think the whole of the Early Church got it wrong and the gnostics (considered heretical by the early church) got it right?
    Well I believe both were wrong, salvation is by God's choice, and not by fate.

    Secondly, the idea that people are accountable to only what is in their ability is simply common sense, and would be considered to be an underlying assumption. In fact, this very assumption is clear throughout Scripture (note quote's above by Church Father's) - and is logical as to what justice actually is. IOW, punishing someone for something they are incapable of doing is unjust and unrighteous.
    Well, here now, are you implying that people can of their own free will choose what is right? Would they not then be righteous apart from Christ?

    Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:11-20
    "Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear." (Dt. 29:2-4)

    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

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    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Could one of the mods fix the title here, please? And change "ini" to "in".

    Thanks,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

  7. #17
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    So now we agree that both individuals and groups are in view in Romans 9?
    No. It is what I have been saying from the start. The 'individuals' as you call them are used as allegories that represent people (or covenants). In other words, Paul is using 'individual' imagery to make a point about different peoples. It has nothing to do with individual people or individual salvation. This can be seen throughout the entire chapter. (plus the entire book of Romans).

    It is tempting to read individualism into the text since it is western way of thinking -- but Hebrew (and much of middle eastern culture) sees things as 'group' identity.


    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    No, Paul's point is that "God choosing" is the focus in the potter and clay analogy.
    I'll have to disagree with you on this one. This is the Calvinist interpretation -- and if you go to the text, it is clear that Paul is not talking about individual election to salvation - but rather God's prerogative to choose how He wishes. Of course, as always, context is important.

    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    But we can't read "before the nations were born or had done anything good or bad".
    You absolutely can. And especially when you understand how Paul uses allegory to make a point. (read above) And double especially when Paul quotes two places referring to the Nations that ensued from the forefathers - not the individuals. There is simply no other way of reconciling the reference to 'Individual' (forefathers) and the quotes regarding the nations that follow.

    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Right, not by works, but by him who calls. That's monergism.
    It's Christianity. It is consistent with both monergism and synergism.

    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    But Jacob was speaking prophetically, surely you believe his blessing was divinely sanctioned, and saying "he will be blessed" recognizes that sanction.
    I wouldn't agree that is good hermeneutical practice. IOW, I don't believe it is good practice to assume individuals speaking in a historical narrative are divinely inspired in their words.


    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Well I believe both were wrong, salvation is by God's choice, and not by fate.
    That is erroneous to the point. The church's argument against fate is interchangeable with arguments against monergism. The point is monergism, when you go back in history, teaches the same underlying principles as gnostic teaching regarding fate. The only difference is naming fate as 'God'.

    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Well, here now, are you implying that people can of their own free will choose what is right? Would they not then be righteous apart from Christ?
    No. Being able to make a good decision does not impart righteousness apart from Christ, let alone does it atone for sin. Surely you wouldn't claim that making a right choice can self impart righteousness, as your question seems to imply?




    And we are still left with the idea that the early church fought for, so I'd love for you to answer it:

    Is it righteous and just for a father to hold his child accountable (with punishment) for something they had no ability to do? (e.g. punishing a newborn for not cleaning his or her room)
    Last edited by phat8594; 03-26-2018 at 02:32 AM.

  8. Amen alaskazimm amen'd this post.
  9. #18
    tWebber lee_merrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phat8594 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill
    Paul's point is that "God choosing" is the focus in the potter and clay analogy.
    I'll have to disagree with you on this one. This is the Calvinist interpretation -- and if you go to the text, it is clear that Paul is not talking about individual election to salvation - but rather God's prerogative to choose how He wishes. Of course, as always, context is important.
    "Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." (Rom. 9:18)

    This is how God chooses! He chooses whom to have mercy on, and whom to harden. And if the Lord has mercy on you, that is salvation, and if the Lord hardens you, that is reprobation. And lest we think this is based on foreknowledge of faith, Paul continues:

    "One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?”" (Rom. 9:19)

    This question only makes sense if we think of God as choosing how to shape the clay, of choosing whom he will:

    "Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" (Ro 9:20–21)

    You absolutely can. And especially when you understand how Paul uses allegory to make a point. (read above) And double especially when Paul quotes two places referring to the Nations that ensued from the forefathers - not the individuals. There is simply no other way of reconciling the reference to 'Individual' (forefathers) and the quotes regarding the nations that follow.
    Well, I would challenge you to find that in a commentary! But if it's nations that are in view in "done anything good or bad", then it's God's sovereign choice of nations apart from anything they do, a very Calvinist concept.

    I wouldn't agree that is good hermeneutical practice. IOW, I don't believe it is good practice to assume individuals speaking in a historical narrative are divinely inspired in their words.
    Well, part of hermeneutics is discerning which parts are to be accepted as true.

    "By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff." (Heb 11:21)

    Being able to make a good decision does not impart righteousness apart from Christ, let alone does it atone for sin. Surely you wouldn't claim that making a right choice can self impart righteousness, as your question seems to imply?
    Yes, making right choices is righteousness, and those apart from Christ cannot make right choices:

    "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." (Ro 2:13)

    "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." (Mt 7:16–20)

    Is it righteous and just for a father to hold his child accountable (with punishment) for something they had no ability to do? (e.g. punishing a newborn for not cleaning his or her room)
    Yes, it is righteous to punish a committed sin, even if the person did not have the ability to do otherwise. Note that the ox that gored was stoned, and its flesh must not be eaten (Ex. 21:28). Note also Moses here:

    "If anyone becomes aware that they are guilty—if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean (whether the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or of any unclean creature that moves along the ground) and they are unaware that they have become unclean, but then they come to realize their guilt; or if they touch human uncleanness (anything that would make them unclean) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt; or if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil (in any matter one might carelessly swear about) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt—when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the LORD a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin." (Le 5:2–6)

    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

  10. #19
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    "Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." (Rom. 9:18)

    This is how God chooses! He chooses whom to have mercy on, and whom to harden. And if the Lord has mercy on you, that is salvation, and if the Lord hardens you, that is reprobation.
    This assertion is simply another insertion of a predetermined theology (calvinism) into the text. Absolutely nowhere in these verses does it say 'How'. Rather, this interpretation is inserting a predetermined theology (& therefore interpretation) into the text and then stating the text is saying something it actually never states.

    Please....I mean PLEASE explain to me how "God has mercy on who He wants to have mercy' answers the 'how' of God's choosing. And to be honest, I don't believe you will be able to...cause it simply is not there -- at least not in the text. Once you answer the 'how' from that verse, you have just inserted theology into the text -- rather than taking your theology form it.


    What I believe to be clear without a doubt, is that this verse is simply saying that it is God's prerogative to have mercy on whomever He wills. In other words, God lavishes His mercy on us, not because of how great we are, or the great works we have done, or even cause we have asked - but rather because He is merciful. And remember - this doesn't answer the 'how' - just that it is God's prerogative. And this also doesn't mean that God doesn't respond when we ask - in fact that verse is from when Moses asks God and God obliges - just that it is His mercy & not our works.

    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    And lest we think this is based on foreknowledge of faith, Paul continues:

    "One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?”" (Rom. 9:19)
    Taking theology from the 'interlocutor' that Paul uses is bad form to say the least - and would definitely lead to some bad theology. So I don't think we should start here (remember, this is from the POV of someone challenging the truth of what Paul is saying). If we were to base our theology on the 'interlocutor' we would need to also affirm:

    • We should sin that grace may abound
    • We should sin because we are under grace and not the law
    • The Law is sinful
    • etc.



    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    This question only makes sense if we think of God as choosing how to shape the clay, of choosing whom he will:

    "Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" (Ro 9:20–21)
    Are you taking your interpretation of the Potter & the Clay from calvinism or from the Bible? Because, in the Bible (OT specifically) the metaphor of Potter & the Clay does NOT imply lack of free will on the part of the clay. Rather the metaphor (remember, metaphors typically do not hold true perfectly in every way -- just in the way they are intended), is intended to show God's pre-eminence and prerogative to do as He chooses. (again - this does not imply the How)

    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Well, I would challenge you to find that in a commentary! But if it's nations that are in view in "done anything good or bad", then it's God's sovereign choice of nations apart from anything they do, a very Calvinist concept.
    Should we look to a commentary - or the Bible? Because the references in Romans 9 are regarding Nations / Peoples - NOT individuals. There is simply no escaping that fact - no matter what a theology says this text should say.

    Furthermore, Paul uses similar language (children of promise vs flesh) and the same allegory dealing with a similar issue (the works of the Law) in Galations:

    21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

    24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.


    Note what he says there: "These things are being taken figuratively" or another translation "Now this may be interpreted allegorically"

    And the idea of God bestowing His promises on those regardless of if they have done good or bad is a very CHRISTIAN idea. In fact, that's what the book of Romans deals with. FAITH not works.


    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Yes, making right choices is righteousness, and those apart from Christ cannot make right choices:

    "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." (Ro 2:13)

    "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." (Mt 7:16–20)
    Just to be clear -- again -- you believe that making right decisions can impart righteousness apart from Christ -- and even atone for sin?


    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill View Post
    Yes, it is righteous to punish a committed sin, even if the person did not have the ability to do otherwise. Note that the ox that gored was stoned, and its flesh must not be eaten (Ex. 21:28). Note also Moses here:

    "If anyone becomes aware that they are guilty—if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean (whether the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or of any unclean creature that moves along the ground) and they are unaware that they have become unclean, but then they come to realize their guilt; or if they touch human uncleanness (anything that would make them unclean) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt; or if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil (in any matter one might carelessly swear about) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt—when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the LORD a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin." (Le 5:2–6)
    Those verses don't support that idea at all. Rather it is about repenting & confessing ONCE they become aware.


    And -- again -- just to be clear, you believe it is righteous to punish someone for something that they had no ability to do. Including a father punishing a new born for not cleaning a room?


    And I am truly asking for clarity -- because I prefer clarity over agreement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phat8594 View Post
    Please....I mean PLEASE explain to me how "God has mercy on who He wants to have mercy' answers the 'how' of God's choosing.
    I meant by "how God chooses" that God chooses by his sovereign will, not according to foreseen faith, or anything else in the person.

    What I believe to be clear without a doubt, is that this verse is simply saying that it is God's prerogative to have mercy on whomever He wills. In other words, God lavishes His mercy on us, not because of how great we are, or the great works we have done, or even cause we have asked - but rather because He is merciful. And remember - this doesn't answer the 'how' - just that it is God's prerogative. And this also doesn't mean that God doesn't respond when we ask - in fact that verse is from when Moses asks God and God obliges - just that it is His mercy & not our works.
    Agreed!

    Quote Originally Posted by lee_merrill
    And lest we think this is based on foreknowledge of faith, Paul continues:

    "One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?”" (Rom. 9:19)
    Taking theology from the 'interlocutor' that Paul uses is bad form to say the least - and would definitely lead to some bad theology. So I don't think we should start here (remember, this is from the POV of someone challenging the truth of what Paul is saying).
    Agreed again, I only include Paul's questioner to show that we have understood Paul correctly, that God's choice is the ultimate cause of our salvation.

    Are you taking your interpretation of the Potter & the Clay from calvinism or from the Bible? Because, in the Bible (OT specifically) the metaphor of Potter & the Clay does NOT imply lack of free will on the part of the clay. Rather the metaphor (remember, metaphors typically do not hold true perfectly in every way -- just in the way they are intended), is intended to show God's pre-eminence and prerogative to do as He chooses.
    Surely the metaphor of the potter and clay is intended to show that behind every choice, God is choosing:

    "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" (Ro 9:21)

    Note the other metaphors for God's election are all passive on the part of the human: new birth, new creation, resurrection.

    Should we look to a commentary - or the Bible? Because the references in Romans 9 are regarding Nations / Peoples - NOT individuals. There is simply no escaping that fact - no matter what a theology says this text should say.
    Yet Jacob was chosen by God, and Esau was not.

    Note what he says there: "These things are being taken figuratively" or another translation "Now this may be interpreted allegorically"
    Yes, but not only allegorically, Isaac was chosen and free, and Ishmael was not.

    And the idea of God bestowing His promises on those regardless of if they have done good or bad is a very CHRISTIAN idea. In fact, that's what the book of Romans deals with. FAITH not works.
    And also "God's choice", not works. There is more than one theme in the book of Romans.

    Just to be clear -- again -- you believe that making right decisions can impart righteousness apart from Christ -- and even atone for sin?
    Right decisions cannot atone for sin, but if any person can freely choose to do what is right, then righteousness could have come through the law, and Christ died in vain (Gal. 2:21).

    Those verses don't support that idea at all. Rather it is about repenting & confessing ONCE they become aware.
    Well, not the ox!

    And -- again -- just to be clear, you believe it is righteous to punish someone for something that they had no ability to do.
    Yes, where there is responsibility.

    Including a father punishing a new born for not cleaning a room?
    But there is no responsibility here, what we are responsible for is right conduct.

    Blessings,
    Lee
    "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

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