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This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Romans by the Book (Lesson 68)




Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4


Romans by the Book                                                                        Lesson 68


Welcome and thank you for taking the time to study your Bible along with us.

Many church denominations teach some form of predestination.  Some learned men approach this subject tentatively choosing to identify it as one of God’s mysteries.  I believe a few of these men are simply hoping to avoid conflict; they’re earnestly striving for peace and unity in the Body of Christ.  However, this isn’t a mystery.  God has clearly revealed to us in Scripture what He has predetermined (pre-qualified) for those who love Him (Deuteronomy 29:29).    

Therefore, I do believe in predestination as defined in Scripture but not according to the definition of John Calvin, St. Augustine, Martin Luther and so many others.  The Bible teaches that God predestined (or predetermined) to have a people conformed to the image of His Son, but He did not choose (before the foundations of the earth) which individuals these would be (by name) and then arbitrarily condemned the rest.  If God had predetermined certain individuals for Heaven and others for Hell regardless of their choice, then He would be unjust.  I also do not believe that history is fixed or set by God, as the fatalists of Islam believe.  We are not robots following a predetermined course!  God is not the author of evil (1 Corinthians 14:33; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5). 
 
As I mentioned last week, many churches prefer to teach that God predetermined (before the foundations of the earth) every detail of a person’s life, including whether He would save them or condemn them to Hell.  Whenever, I hear this “point of view” I picture our God up there in heaven choosing “sides” just as I used to when we were getting ready to play softball or kickball.  I felt sorry for the kid who was left standing there, alone, chosen last.  But at least he got to play…

However, doesn’t this approach deny a fundamental truth in God’s Word – and that is we have freedom of choice and that God holds us accountable for the choices we make?
Using the nation of Israel as an example, God consistently worked with His chosen people.  The LORD God instructed Israel, urging them to make right choices with that knowledge and then holding them accountable for the choices they made.
 
Deuteronomy 30:19 illustrates for us how the LORD God worked with His people.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, (see verse 20).

God didn’t “predetermine” Israel’s outcome (fortune or misfortune); they had a choice!

God works the same way with Believers today.  Jesus Christ said, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:37-37).”

There are numerous Scripture passages that assure us God will hold us accountable for our actions.  Both Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 reveal that we Believers will appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive rewards for what we have done with our God-given talents or abilities in the Body of Christ (or not).   If God had predetermined the outcome, this event makes no sense. 

Therefore, by using the Scriptures, we know for certain that God did not predetermine everyone’s choice, or everyone’s salvation, for that matter, for this too is a choice.  God, who is Just, could not justifiably judge anyone for failing to make a right choice, if He predetermined the choice that person would make…


We began our study of the Biblical Doctrine of Predestination last week by examining the terms associated with it i.e. predestination (predetermine) and foreknowledge.  We also looked at the word chose or chosen because these two terms have been “adopted” by those who claim salvation by rite of God’s predetermined will only. 

This week we’re going to look at the term elect.  The word Elect is used in Scripture of those who are chosen (according to the foreknowledge of God – 1 Peter 1:2).  If you’ll recall, we looked at these two words before in relation to God’s calling and purpose.   

But these same words are also used by those advocating the Doctrine of Predestination to refer to those that God has predestined to be saved. 

Does it have a twofold meaning?  Let Scripture interpret Scripture, is my advice…

Because of the weight of the topic I gave considerable thought as to where to begin this lesson.  One Bible story kept coming to mind and that is the story of Jacob and Esau.  Please turn with me now to Romans, chapter 9.  We’ll drop in at verse 10.

Digging Deeper

Romans 9

10…And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac;

11: for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

12: it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”

13: Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”

14: What shall we say then?  There is no injustice with God, is there?  May it never be!

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.”

16: So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

17: 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.”

18: So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

19: You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault?  For who resists His will?

20: 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?

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?

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?

23: And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

24: even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

I also chose this particular portion of Scripture because the verses 11-17 are the ones most misinterpreted.  A casual Bible reader may mistake their meaning.  They could read through this section of Scripture and assume that God predestined (before the foundations of the earth) hatred for Esau but love for Jacob. 

As I’ve pointed out numerous times, Scripture often requires more than casual reading in order to mine the gold of its Truths. 

What is meant by God’s election in Romans 9:11?    
But first a question is God’s election something He predestined (before the foundations of the earth) that would be required of men (and women) without any regard for their will?  Or, is it rather the result of His foreknowledge?  

Romans 9

11: for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

Let’s attempt to understand this in terms of what we’ve already learned from the previous lesson, as Scripture has “defined” itself. 

Election, we’ve already seen refers to the choosing of God’s people, (according to the foreknowledge of God – 1 Peter 1:2; to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose – Romans 8:28).

Now, to understand God’s purpose in election let’s turn to Romans 8:29.

We covered this is in last week’s lesson but repetition is a very good thing.
God’s purpose in election is that we Believers be:  conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29); that we be holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4), to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:12). 

In short, God’s purpose in election, for those chosen, (according to the foreknowledge of God) is to be like Jesus (1 John 2:6).

Now hang onto this thought, and turn with me to the Parable of the Wedding Feast – Matthew 22:10-14.  We pick up the parable at the point where those invited by the king to the wedding feast (i.e. the nation of Israel) rejected his offer, so he commanded his slaves to go out into the streets and neighborhoods to gather all the people they found there and then bring them into the wedding hall.  Note:  the king provided wedding clothes for all his guests, but one was found there without “wedding clothes” = self-righteousness and not the righteousness of Christ thru faith.

Matthew 22

10: “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

11: “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes,

12: and he said to him, ‘Friend how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’  And the man was speechless.

13: “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14: “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Don’t overlook the teaching point Jesus makes in verse 14.  This very thing is occurring every day in Christendom.  From VBS to all manner of evangelistic campaigns many are invited but few are chosen (according to the foreknowledge of God) to be among the elect simply because like Esau they do not fear God, and they are without faith.

Therefore, few fulfill God’s purpose in election to be conformed to the image of His Son; to be holy and blameless in His sight; to the praise of His glory.

Since this is God’s stated purpose (Romans 8:29), then Paul’s passage about Jacob and Esau is completely understandable.  Two boys were born.  Jacob would be a man of faith; Esau, his twin, went his own way in total rebellion to God. 

I don’t put too much emphasis on the statement, “Jacob I loved but Esau I hated.” 
If you’ll remember my teaching on this a few lessons back, this is where the Bible translator or author of Scripture attempted to apply a human emotion to God.  It is called Anthropomorphism.  Let’s stay focused on the twins.

First we have the interpretation chosen by those who follow the Calvinist’s teaching:  (Before the foundations of the earth) God determined that He would love Jacob and hate Esau.  He is the Sovereign God; He has the right to determine on whom He will have mercy and on whom He will have compassion.

The second interpretation, consistent (and in harmony) with our definition of elect and chosen (see 1 Peter 1:2), is based on the fact that God looked ahead with perfect foreknowledge.  In doing so, He saw that Jacob, who began as a sly, devious type fellow, would one day be a man who “feared God.”  Scripture tells us that he wrestled with God at the river Jabbok and required a blessing from Him.  There God changed his name to “Israel.”  The meaning of the name Israel is unclear, but some believe it to mean, “Struggles with God but prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).   

God also looked ahead with perfect foreknowledge and saw Esau spurn his birthright – the God-given rights of the firstborn by swapping it for a bowl of bean soup to his younger brother.  God saw that Esau would never fear Him or honor Him, just as he did not honor his birthright.  Later when Esau “desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected for he found no place for repentance,” (Hebrews 12:17).  This doesn’t mean he was denied or without the opportunity of salvation, which some teach.  This means the birthright he bartered away was unattainable.

Is God Unjust?

Paul answers this question:

Romans 9

14: What shall we say then?  There is no injustice with God, is there?  May it never be!

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.”

Is verse 15 saying God, who is Sovereign, is a just God even though He makes arbitrary judgments about who will be saved and predestines those who will be condemned to an eternity in Hell before anyone had any choice in believing in Jesus Christ or rejecting the gospel?  This is the Calvinist’s viewpoint.

Or, has the Sovereign God, who is a just God, predestined conditions (qualifications) for those who would choose to be saved and foreknew those who would choose to fulfill His conditions for salvation?

God will have mercy and compassion on whom He will; and He is not unjust in doing so because of what His Word says, or because of what He has clearly revealed to us!  God always acts in a manner consistent with His Word. 
So, what does this book say?  Let’s examine a few Scripture passages together.
 
God’s Word says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

God’s Word says, “as it is written: “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE” (Romans 3:10-12).

God’s Words says, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

God’s Word says, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

God’s Word says, if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

God’s Word says, for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

God’s Word says, This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Conclusion

Contrary to the Calvinism theory, God does not arbitrarily save nor damn.  He has set forth the criteria for salvation in his Word for all to see, study, know, and obey.  The call (invitation) has gone out through the gospel and those who receive God’s Son as their Savior and Lord are the objects of his love, compassion, and mercy.  Those who disobey, who reject or ignore His call, remain the objects of his wrath.

God has given man free will, which means we can accept God’s gift of salvation and believe that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is the only way, per Scripture, to achieve it, or you have the option of rejecting God’s gift and live in enmity toward God.  The plan of salvation doesn’t get much simpler than that but there it is. 

Because God is Omniscient He has foreknowledge; God knows who will respond to His love and to His invitation to be saved, as was the case with Esau and Jacob. 

God has predestined qualifications for every Believer - they are to be conformed to the image of His Son, they are to be holy and blameless in his sight, and will be to the praise of His glory.

God’s word is without conflict or confusion when handled correctly (2 Timothy 2:15). As we have seen, Scripture is in harmony with the interpretation that God has foreknowledge of those who will be saved – the chosen and the elect (1 Peter 1:1-2).

God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:3-4) but in the same breath warns that most will be lost (Matthew 7:13-14).

My prayer is that those who read this lesson on predestination will not be lost because they continued to believe and rely upon someone’s opinion about what the Bible says.   Instead, may they return to Scripture as their source of teaching and Truth.  May they work out their salvation with fear and trembling and may they choose to be conformed to the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God.


(To be continued)


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