Monday, September 01, 2008

Romans 9 shows God's compassion and mercy, not His capriciousness and malice

In response to courteous comments here.
. . . God being malicious is something that you've drawn out of a Calvinist view, not Calvinists.
I don't think I've written that Calvinism says God is malicious and capricious.

Several of Calvinism's doctrines contradict the Word of Christ in ways that make its god malicious and capricious.

Attributing such characteristics and attitudes to YHWH blasphemes Him.
God works on a scale of just to merciful, unjust or malice don't enter his character at all.
YHWH is fully both at the same time. In Christ's body on the cross, He punished all men's sins and had mercy on all.

Calvinism denies that mercy to many.
I don't think the parable of the sower has anything to do with predestination.
The Parable of the Sower is relevant because it doesn't show God creating bad soil or never sending the Word to some (both Calvinist heresies).

It shows that the responsibility for unbelief is ours.
. . . Romans 9 especially verses 14-24 . . . clouds the issue of God's will in choosing and man's role in accepting. As well as whether people can actually be destined for Hell. I'm still considering my thoughts on this passage, but when considering how God chooses I think it's essential to include this passage.
God says:
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (John 15:16),

". . . God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all" (Romans 11:32).

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:18).

"he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

"by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2: 8 and 9).

"For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law" (Romans 3:28).

"He [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).

"in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them . . ." (2 Corinthians 5:19).

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone to death those sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you were not willing" (Matthew 23:37)!
What does Romans 9 say? Paul shows that despite Israel's rejection, God's promises are sure and are received by faith.

Regarding Jacob and Esau, Paul writes, "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 his call . . ." (Romans 9:11).

Paul's point here is not that God hates (or rejects) people just because He chooses to do so (Calvinism's Double Predestination), it is that God's blessings depend on His mercy and are received by faith, not by works.

Being the older and favored son, Esau was to receive his father Isaac's blessing. Isaac asks Esau to hunt and prepare a "delicious meal," after which he would bless him. While Esau is out obeying his father, Jacob's mom, having overheard their plans, conspires with Jacob to deceive Isaac into obtaining the blessing.

So, the one who received the promise, Jacob, did not deserve it. Like Jacob, we receive the Promise not because we deserve it (we deserve condemnation!), but because of His mercy.

Romans 9 also mentions Pharaoh. Is the fact that God says of him, "I raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth" (Romans 9:17) evidence of His creating people for destruction? Is Paul's statement that God hardens whom He hardens proof of this?

Paul does not state that the hardening God did was His "sovereign choice" (that subtitle in the ESV and NIV is human commentary, not Divine revelation) to condemn someone; rather, he declares that its purpose was to show His power to the entire world.

Does God's patience with "objects of wrath prepared for destruction" (Romans 9:22) mean that He created people for Hell? No, since we believers are by nature, "objects of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3).

And God is patient with those "objects of wrath" in order that they too might repent. Paul writes, "do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4).

Calvinism denies God's kindness, forbearance, and patience to many.

Most importantly, Paul shows us that the reason Israel is rejected is not because of "God's sovereign choice," because of its unbelief, through which they reject Christ:
. . . Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works" (Romans 9:30-32).