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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Romans Bible Study #32 Romans 9:14-29

only 10 pages this time, but there is soooo much depth to this, i dare not shorten it.

Romans Bible Study #32
Romans 9:14-29
The God of Esau

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. 25 As He says also in Hosea,




14-18Is that grounds for complaining that God is unfair? Not so fast, please. God told Moses, "I'm in charge of mercy. I'm in charge of compassion." Compassion doesn't originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God's mercy. The same point was made when God said to Pharaoh, "I picked you as a bit player in this drama of my salvation power." All we're saying is that God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill.

19Are you going to object, "So how can God blame us for anything since he's in charge of everything? If the big decisions are already made, what say do we have in it?"

20-33Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, "Why did you shape me like this?" Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn't that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:

I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
I'll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, "You're nobody!"
they're calling you "God's living children."

Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:
If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
and the sum labeled "chosen of God,"
They'd be numbers still, not names;
salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn't count us; he calls us by name.
Arithmetic is not his focus.
Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth:
If our powerful God
had not provided us a legacy of living children,
We would have ended up like ghost towns,
like Sodom and Gomorrah. The Message

I know we are on the right path in this study because every bit of this is against the pride of man.

Psalm 106:8 Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name,
That He might make His power known.

Barth and others
At the depth of this truth lies “the transformation of our misery.” Barth
Wherever men are serious, the scandal of predestination must be set forth and received. Barth
“The more a man finds these texts to be harsh, the more is he wedded to his own righteousness. Inasmuch, however, as he is able to live quietly with them, his heart rests altogether in grace.” Steinhofer
If we conceive of God as conformed to our human ideas, as one cause in a series, as one factor among other factors, He is not the Cause, the Absolute, the Eternal, Personal God-- but rather the “No-God’ Barth

Verse 14 Our minds are still bending and creaking under the weight of Jacob I loved, Esau I hated, and in our man-centered thoughts we cannot get around the question, Isn’t that unfair? Most of those who comment on this section and agree with the premise of this question, say that it cannot mean what it plainly says because that would make God to be a capricious God. A God subject to whim, and erratic in His behavior, the opposite of steady and constant. What they are missing is, God is being faithful to Himself in this, Faithful to His Total Freedom to do what He knows needs to be done to “fulfill all righteousness.” He is the definition of righteousness, not any idea we might have. Most often those who could not handle the Jacob-Esau thing said that Paul was talking about the nations, but he spoke of the two in Rebecca’s womb, and said specifically before they had done anything, so there is an aspect where this truth is ‘national’, but you cannot escape the other meaning that is strongly indicated. Two lives were forming in the womb and one was chosen. We cheapen this section if we do not notice the struggle indicated in verses like this one. This is a battle for the mind, to transform and convert us from a lifetime of man-centered thinking. The fact that we all know to be true is those who have been through a lot are kinder, more humble and more mercy giving. So our wisdom, which would be; avoid trials and struggles, is shown to be shallow and in a word, “wrong.” This and many other examples demonstrate that we have no right to question God, and HE agrees as we can see in HIS answer to the question, “Is there injustice with God?”
Verse 15 His answer is no answer it is a restatement of an unchangeable fact. I will decide, I will decide.The fact that it is “I” who am doing the deciding means that there is no unrighteousness. My freedom to do as I please, leaves Me totally free to do the righteous thing. Because I am God, my definition of righteous is best and highest. And that definition is, whatever brings glory to My Name. Mercy and compassion will be shown because that is Who I am, and it will be shown to whoever I decide because, only I know how to make My plan work out for My the glory of My Name.

In the context, the phrase Paul quotes here is connected to God’s name. This event from the Jewish Bible’s book of Exodus is the closest we come in the Jewish Bible to the innermost nature of God (Dunn 2:562).

“Exodus 33:19 is a statement of God concerning Himself, it must therefore be looked upon as inconvertible and unexceptional doctrine.” James Morison

Verse 16 God is not afraid to keep beating the same drum from an unlimited number of angles, so this statement looks at this truth from the angle of, ‘how much does man have to do with Your decision God?’... um... nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing. Is your pride rising up yet, does the fact that you are in line to get absolutely no credit for all of this crawl under you skin and cause you to protest, if it does, then that is proof that you are really beginning to understand the depth of Grace and the height of God. No chest-thumping, “look what I did” allowed, probably be a big sign at the entrance to heaven, “You had nothing to do with your getting here.” Your ‘will’ had nothing to do with it and your ‘do’ had nothing to do with. Bow, bend the knee, and enter as a ‘victim’ of My Mercy.

This means that the working out of God’s strategy in human history doesn’t depend on human effort. The phrase "desire or effort" in v. 16 describes the totality of our human capacity (Dunn 2:552). God’s strategy in human history isn’t dependant on human effort.

Verse 17 Pharaoh is brought in as exhibit A that God’s freedom, includes the freedom to harden. God raised Pharaoh up, to demonstrate His power and to proclaim His Name in all the earth. So that ties in to what we know to be true about righteousness, God’s Name receives glory. So man is not the pinnacle, the ultimate thing in the universe, God is, and His Name receiving glory is, and in fact, if we give our lives for anything else, we will begin to sense that an emptiness and the question, ‘Is this all that there is?’ will mercifully creep into our consciousness. There is mystery here still, Pharaoh is held accountable and the scripture says both God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and Pharaoh hardened his heart, but significantly, God tells Moses He will harden Pharaoh’s heart before Moses has even gotten to Egypt. So again, there is mystery here as to how our will, our choice fits into this, but we do know it is not the foundation, God’s call and election is.

Verse 18 is the conclusion of the previous verses and many, many ‘good’ Bible commentators, run in all sorts of directions to make this verse not say, what it clearly says. Let’s read it. “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” Very straightforward, very unapologetic, very clear. Two reasons why people run from the truth of this verse. If they forget that God has a grounding, foundational motive of bringing glory to His Name, then they say that this verse makes it seem like God is capricious, acting on a whim, impulsive, unpredictable, given to errors in judgment, the opposite of faithful and reliable. The second reason to try to twist this verse to mean something else, is it says God was in control when sin was happening. What Pharaoh did was “sin.” That is “outside of the box" for most people, God ordaining that sin take place. But I want God to be in control at times like that. I want Him to be in control of satan, as He was in the story of Job. This verse in Isaiah, backs up what Paul is implying here. Isaiah 54:16
“Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals And brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin.”

Our definition of the man Moses as elected and of the man Pharaoh as rejected is repellent, meaningless, and utterly incapable of proof. The election of the one and the rejection of the other have meaning only in the freedom of God and by the miracle of revelation, and the very purpose of the occurrence is -- to show My Power, and that My Name may be declared throughout all the earth. In order for the church or the individual to become ‘elect Moses’ it must recognize and ponder the fact that it is Pharaoh, and Esau. Barth

Verse 19 makes it even more obvious that the clear and simple interpretation of verse 18 is correct, because Paul knows exactly where such a clear and simple interpretation would lead: directly to this question. Again there is an unexplained mystery here, beyond our ability to comprehend. The question is why does it surprise us that some things would be ‘mysteries’ beyond our comprehension when we are talking about God, and that is where Paul is going with His answer.

Verse 20 Listen it is nice and good and true, that Jesus is our friend, as well as Lord and Savior, but that does not negate the fact that God is also a “totally other” being and we stand in relation to Him, not as lesser person to greater person, but as inanimate object, “clay”, to all-wise, all-knowing Creator “potter.” “O man” is in this verse for a reason, to contrast with “God.” Romans spent many chapters on the ‘bad news’ before we ever got to the ‘good news,’ and this is just a little reminder, the separation, between you and God is permanent and solid, UNLESS, God acts. The ridiculous picture is of a piece of pottery, clay, dirt, sitting there, rising up in all its greatness, (really get a vision of how ridiculous this is) and calling into question, the motivation, the skill the wisdom of the potter!! It is hilariously stupid, but it is an accurate picture.

‘So it is precisely the knowledge of God’s freedom and power and grace which does NOT throw men wholly out of gear, because such knowledge is indissolubly one with the knowledge that they are men and not God. It is precisely the man who respects God as God who will have no occasion to object, for he will neither fear nor desire the dissolution of his responsibility: such a man will become NOT insane, NOT immoral, NOT criminal, NOT a suicide. '
‘On the one side stands the purposeful master of the universe and on the other side stands the material which serves His purpose and becomes His work.’ Barth

Verse 21 If we begin to recognize who we really are and who God really is, then we will not be so stupid as to second-guess His choosing, and we are growing in our understanding and appreciation of His wisdom through these 3 chapter, and of course, Paul ends the chapters with a “bursting out in song to God” because he begins to see the amazing wisdom of God.

Verse 22 God can only be seen in one of two ways, the first and most common is to compromise His justice and wrath, and to 'make up’ a god who fits nicely into our categories. The other is to see that He is truth, and justice and love and to know for a fact that we are incapable of obeying Him and are destined to die at His hands. It is only revelation from Him that reveals this to us and opens us up to the revelation of His mercy, only when Jacob wrestles with the truth of God is He renamed Israel, and only in accepting and repeating his name as 'Jacob’ deceiver, cheater, can God change his name to Israel.
Verse 23 Vessels of mercy, definitely gives the picture not of a container that is meant to sit on a shelf, but of a vessel to be used to pour out, what it has received on others! You can’t have truly known your own need of mercy and the miraculous receiving of mercy, without also wanting to “tell somebody.” This truth that it is all God and “being chosen," does not create haughtiness, but just the opposite, it creates in us ‘humility.'
Verse 24-29 We cannot truly appreciate here what an amazing thing the Holy Spirit is doing through Paul and how it would have stunned the early hearers. The Jews were God’s people, with the promises and all that was stated at the beginning of the chapter. The Gentiles were the outsiders. Even these verses Paul is quoting would have been seen in there original context as promises to the Jews that whereas God had rejected them for a time, He was now accepting them again. There was nothing here for the Gentiles, there was no “leftover” blessing to give to Esau, it had all been given to Jacob. So it is stunning, that the Holy Spirit is now saying, see, there is a two-fold hidden meaning here, a mystery is being revealed, this was also referring to the gentiles.
The time of the gentiles has come, the blessing of God is on them too, His mercy is shown to them too. The same mercy that preserves a remnant of the Jewish people, is performing a gathering of the gentile people. Without God, without His mercy, this chosen people would have become like the worst of the “non-chosen.” The knowledge of this mercy, this revelation, as the one and only source of life, makes of us not arrogant but humble people. The “apostle to the gentiles” was a “Hebrew of Hebrews.” Why? because he of all people could explain where this “Faith” had come from, what the connection is and how amazing it is that God worked it all out.

Piper thoughts and mine and others.

Some will glorify God’s mercy and grace; others His justice and wrath. Either way, we all fulfill our purpose according to how the Lord has decided we will glorify Him. The manner in which we glorify God is largely dependant upon that in which we trust. If it is earthly – people, money, soldiers, strength – we will likely experience and glorify God’s wrath. If it is spiritual – God and His Word alone – we will likely glorify his mercy and grace. If God is veiwed as a many faceted diamond, then as we grow to know and appreciate each angle, His beauty and majesty will increase in our eyes. “Magnify the Lord with me,” the psalmist says, we can not of course make Him bigger, but we can so focus on His greatness from every angle (including wrath and justice) that His “bigness” is more real to us.

This is about the hardest, truest, deepest statement you will ever read about going through pain and loss.
‘In reality our pain and losses are always a test of how much we treasure the all-wise, all-governing God in comparison to what we have lost,’ John Piper

Piper gave a few examples of people who had experienced tragic losses, who found comfort in the fact that God is sovereign in all things. Some would think, just the opposite, that in tragic circumstances people would only be comforted by robbing God of His sovereignty and saying that “event” was out of His control, but that now He was here to comfort, but such is not the case.

The deepest reason this is right, Paul says, is that it displays most fully the glory of God, including His wrath against sin and his power in judgment, so that the vessels of mercy can know Him most completely and worship Him with the greatest intensity for all eternity.

Jonathan Edwards, answering the question why a good and holy God would decree that there be hardening and evil.

“It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent [=radiant], that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all. . .

Thus it is necessary, that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.

If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. How much happiness soever he bestowed, his goodness would not be so much prized and admired, and the sense of it not so great . . .

So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect. (Jonathan Edwards, "Concerning the Divine Decrees," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), p. 528)

So I ask, "Is God less glorious because he ordained that there be real evil and real guilt and just punishment?" Paul’s answer is, no, just the opposite. God’s glory will shine the more truly and brightly for having decreed and governed this universe as we know it. The effort to rescue God from his sovereignty by denying his foreknowledge of sin or by denying his ultimate control over sin is destructive for faith and hope and worship. It is a great dishonor to his word and his wisdom. Christians, if you love the glory of God, look well to the teaching of your church and your schools. Test them. But most of all look well to your souls.

The point here is that even though the Egyptian Pharaoh defied God and hated the people of Israel, God had actually raised Pharaoh up for to fulfill God’s purpose. Even in his hatred and rebellion, Pharaoh serves as a witness to God’s greatness and glory. When human beings react against God, they think they’re acting on their own, and they think they can short circuit his plans, but actually God is using their very resistance to accomplish his purposes. God used Pharaoh’s resistance to display his power and make his character known.

Paul’s point here seems to be that even God’s enemies serve God’s purposes in the world.

Found this when searching through many other people’s opinions on these verses.

We can trust in God’s fairness because GOD IS MOTIVATED BY MERCY.

Often even when we can’t understand someone’s action, we can accept the action if we trust the person’s motive. When my third son was two years old he had to be admitted to San Antonio Hospital because he had severe croup. I’ll never forget when they put an IV line into my two year old son’s arm. He screamed so loud and fought so hard that he had to be physically restrained. He didn’t understand why I would allow people to do such a painful, horrible thing to him. He looked into my eyes like I was betraying him, yet he also cried out for me to comfort him because he still believed that I loved him. He didn’t understand the action, but he trusted my motive.

I think we’re a lot like that in our relationship with God. When God allows things to happen that seem painful and don’t make sense, we cry out because we don’t understand. But we can trust that he’s motivated by mercy and compassion, not cruelty and vindictiveness. As we struggle with God’s fairness in how he works out his plan, it helps us trust God when we remind ourselves that he’s motivated by mercy.

Timothy Peck

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Romans Bible Study #31 Romans 9:6-13

12 pages many hours later, these verses deserve every ounce of attention we give them.

Romans Bible Study #31
Romans 9:6-13
The God of Jacob

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is the word of promise: “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.” 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.” NASB

6-9Don't suppose for a moment, though, that God's Word has malfunctioned in some way or other. The problem goes back a long way. From the outset, not all Israelites of the flesh were Israelites of the spirit. It wasn't Abraham's sperm that gave identity here, but God's promise. Remember how it was put: "Your family will be defined by Isaac"? That means that Israelite identity was never racially determined by sexual transmission, but it was God-determined by promise. Remember that promise, "When I come back next year at this time, Sarah will have a son"?
10-13And that's not the only time. To Rebecca, also, a promise was made that took priority over genetics. When she became pregnant by our one-of-a-kind ancestor, Isaac, and her babies were still innocent in the womb—incapable of good or bad—she received a special assurance from God. What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that his purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don't do, but a sure thing determined by his decision, flowing steadily from his initiative. God told Rebecca, "The firstborn of your twins will take second place." Later that was turned into a stark epigram: "I loved Jacob; I hated Esau." The Message

stark-rigid, bare, blunt, severe epigram-a concise, terse, statement or poem

Verse 6 The basis of this section is: even though many individual Jews are not at this time knowing God, it is not proof that God’s eternal, unchanging Word has failed. If God’s word failed for them it could fail for us, so Paul must defend it, and enlighten us on this topic. Israel, is the receptor of the promises of God, but only the individual believers in the nation whom God chooses are the remnant that He preserves. Chapters 9-11 will progress us through this start with the individual Jew, through the time of the gentile church, and back to God’s sovereign, electing, choice of the nation of Israel, God’s word will stand. “Let God be true and every man a liar.” That statement was from Chapter 3 of this same book, in reference to this same question, so now Paul is progressing in his answer.
Verse 7 Through Isaac, laughter, how can God bring life out of this dead man and his wife’s dead womb? It is a sovereign miracle. This verse is a start in Paul’s argument. The start is; none of this is because of you. Sarah was right to laugh, there is no ‘natural’ possibility that Isaac is ever going to see the light of day. “But God”
Verse 8 The children of the promise. Ishmael, was Abraham’s best shot, Sarah knew she could not provide the heir, so why not do it this way, “helping God” leads to all sorts of painful scenes in life. Better to wait and trust, even and especially when such waiting looks preposterous. A promise is something that is still out there. Hope is our word. Satan can not give hope. Only God can. Our best shot always falls short, but our trust in His Word of Promise never falls short. So laugh Sarah laugh, it is funny, it is impossible and yet...
Verse 9 When God comes, He brings the miracle son and such are we in this world. So this is the end of Part 1 of the answer to the question God’s word didn’t fail, did it? No, but only some are chosen to display the truth of God’s word. They are not born of the flesh, they are born of God. They are not, ‘we figured out how to make this happen.’ They are ‘laughter’, ‘you gotta be kidding’, ‘that’s impossible’, children of a promise that only God could make, and that only God could bring to pass. That’s us.

Part 2 of the answer goes even further, and here we had better re-affirm our commitment to let the word of God change us and to never try to change the word of God, because I was researching this section and came upon some who could not handle it, so they changed God’s word.

Jesus, we ask for Your mercy, that we would be changed by Your word. Amen.

I am reminded of a time in my younger years, when my girlfriend and I were in what we thought was a quiet, secluded part of a state park. What we did not know was we were about 15 feet from an active set of Amtrak train tracks. So, all of the sudden, there is a noise and a rumbling and it is getting louder and louder and I jumped up, not knowing what to do, but knowing that whatever was making that noise, I was absolutely no match for it, and then...relief, it is just a train. But that ‘heart-pounding’ moment when all I knew was something was coming and I was no match for it, is what we feel on the verge of these verses in Romans that have caused many to stop and reject this portion of scripture.
Verse 10 Paul is wiping out any argument against what he is about to say. At this point one could say, “yeh that Ishmael was the son of a slave woman, not a Hebrew.” Rebekah has twins in her womb, obviously both are children of Isaac. (can you hear the rumbling getting closer, growing louder)
Verse 11 Not just twins, but twins who were still in the womb. “Do” was not a word that could be applied to them. No works had been done by them. Up till now the contrast was between works and faith, but now we are going deeper, Paul is building truth and the truth that is revealed here is the contrast between works and “Him who calls.” So there is something underneath and before our ‘faith.’ Otherwise it would be “our faith” and something we could boast in, but there will be none of that!! God’s purpose... His choice... Him who calls (the rumbling is so loud now that the ground is shaking and any thought of ‘I can handle this’ is G-O-N-E!) God is going to be glorified as a Free, Sovereign Being, like no other in the universe.
Verse 12 “It was said to her,” not she was consulted, or she was given a choice, no, “It was said to her” this is how it is going to be, Period! I am God, I call the shots, what I say, goes!
Verse 13 CRASH! Head on against all our thoughts of our own righteousness, or goodness or some quality of ‘my faith’ that led God to choose me ..comes this verse. If His choice could be traced back to something in us, then He would actually be obligated by us, we would be in control. God is free, Free to choose and not choose. Double predestination is the term and many people who have studied and tried to explain these verses cannot handle it and so they dance around and do back flips and all sorts of amazing twists and turns to avoid the plainly stated truth. This is a quote from the book of Malachi, not the book of Genesis where the story of Jacob and Esau is recorded.
Malachi 1:1 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; 3 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.” 5 Your eyes will see this and you will say, “The LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel!”

So in the context, it is actually God answering the question, “How have You loved us?”
Amazing, His answer, My love is shown in My choosing you, My free and sovereign choice of you is the proof of My love. And maybe we should leave it where He leaves it. Right there.

So, Thank You God for Your choosing us, for the love that You have shown to us. Thank You for all that You have done to bring us under the shadow of Your wings. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

This thought is from Reggie Kelly
Though personally and nationally 'unholy' in the sense of regeneration, they are nonetheless rightly and justly called, "the people of your holiness" (Isa 63:18) in the sense of set apart. The nations and most of the church, do not get this. That is why so many will stumble, when judgment begins at the house of God. It is the mystery of election that sees God as just in His sovereign 'right to choose as He will choose' . He holds the sovereign prerogative to give an irrevocable election, whether it be concerning a Land or a people, even before, and independently of the necessary fulfillment of the conditions. Not because the conditions don't require fulfillment, but because God is jealous for the source and cause of that fulfillment, that it be nothing of man, so that no flesh can glory. Why and how God is able to do this is at the heart of the mystery of electing grace. (Remember we are headed for this verse, “and so all Israel will be saved” Romans 11:26, what He has done in our lives as individuals, He will one day do for a nation, and if we truly know that it was nothing in us that prompted Him to do that work in us, it will not cause us to stumble when there is nothing in them that causes Him to choose them.)

These were good thoughts from John Piper
Let’s look at the three closest parallels in Paul’s writing where he used this word "purpose," and work our way back to verse 11.

Romans 8:28

Look first at Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Here he says that God calls people to himself but there is something behind that call, namely, God’s purpose, guiding whom and how he calls. We are called "according to His purpose." So God’s purpose has to do with guiding his saving work, in this case his calling.

2 Timothy 1:9

Next, let’s look at 2 Timothy 1:9. Here again he connects God’s calling his people to his purpose. "He saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity." Here we see four things:

First, God’s purpose is eternal – "from all eternity," he says. It doesn’t originate or respond to anything. It is eternal.
Second, God’s purpose is related to Christ from all eternity. Christ is not an afterthought. God’s purpose was in him and through him from all eternity.
Third, God’s purpose is linked with grace. "According to his own purpose and grace." It is a gracious purpose. It’s a purpose to exercise grace.
Fourth, the purpose of God rules out works as the basis of his saving call: "He saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to is own purpose." His own purpose is the basis of his call, not our works.
Ephesians 1:4-6, 11

The third parallel is in Ephesians 1, first in verse 11 and then verses 4-6. Ephesians 1:11 says, "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will." Notice two things.

First, not just our calling but also our predestination is "according to His purpose." So God’s purpose governs his predestination.
Second, Paul says that it is a free and sovereign purpose, not governed by anything outside of God. He says, "According to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will." What’s the point of saying that this Purposer "works all things after the counsel of his will"? The point is that he governs all things, and that he does not base his governance ultimately on anything in man or in nature, but only on himself. "He works all things after the counsel of his will." We are not finally decisive in turning the will of God; God alone is decisive.
The next verse (12) comes very close to defining God’s purpose. It’s a continuation of verse 11 and tell us what the purpose is of him who works all things after the counsel of his will, namely, "to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory." In other words He does all His works to this end: that we would "be to the praise of His glory." His purpose here is the praise of His glory.

It is even more pointed in verses 4-6. Follow the purpose statements up to their highest point in verse 6: Eph 1:4"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will [probably another way of referring to his purpose], 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." There it is again. God’s purpose is to bring about the praise of the glory of his grace. All election, all predestination, all calling, and all redemption is according to this purpose – for the praise of the glory of his grace.

What Is God’s "Purpose"?

Now back to Romans 9:11. God performs the unconditional election of Jacob over Esau "so that his purpose according to election would stand." From all we have seen so far, as well as the context of this paragraph, I would state the purpose like this: God’s purpose is to be known and enjoyed and praised (or if you like alliteration: to be seen and savored and sung) as infinitely glorious in his free and sovereign grace. This is the purpose that governs all the works of God. He elects, predestines, calls, redeems, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies to this end – for this purpose: to be seen and savored and sung as infinitely glorious in his free and sovereign grace.

But "infinitely glorious" I mean perfectly beautiful and immeasurably great.
By "free" I mean the final reason for all events in the universe is in Himself and not another. The decisive influence of all that happens in the world is God’s. He works all things, not just some things, after the counsel of His own will. He alone in all the universe has the freedom of ultimate self-determination.
By "sovereign" I mean that nothing can thwart what He wants most to do.
God’s purpose is to be known and enjoyed and praised as infinitely glorious in His free and sovereign grace. And this purpose is "according to election" – it is an electing purpose – because if God did not elect unconditionally He would not be free, He would not be sovereign, and He would not be glorious.

Not free, because then men would determine their own election, not God. He would be bound (not free) to conform to their own self-determination.
Not sovereign, because instead of doing successfully what He wants most, He would be thwarted again and again by self-determining man.
Not glorious, because God’s absolute freedom and sovereignty are the essence of the glory of His grace.

More from Piper

"But Because of Him Who Calls"

But that is not what he says here. He says, "not because of works but because of Him who calls." Why? Because faith is a condition of justification, but it is not a condition of election. Election is unconditional. But justification is conditional. Before we can be justified we must believe on Jesus Christ. But before we can believe on Jesus Christ we must be chosen and called. God does not choose us because we will believe. He chooses us so that we will believe.

Notice carefully how Paul says it. "God’s purpose according to election will stand . . . because of Him who calls." Notice it does not say: his purpose stands because of His calling. It says because of HIM who calls. God will one day call His elect. But His election is not based on that calling. It is based on Himself and his free and sovereign will to call.

So to paraphrase the verse: "God’s electing purpose will stand not because of any foreseen deeds, and not because of any foreseen faith; but simply because of Him – because of God." I used to squirm out of this truth, by saying, that God is not stuck in time, so He was choosing Jacob based on things that He knew Jacob would do, but the scripture really does not allow one to squirm out from under this at all.

The ultimate ground of God’s election is God. This is simply another way of saying: for God to be God he must be free and sovereign. This is his glory. This is what it means to be God.

The Application to Our Lives

There is more to see. So much more to see. But for now the application to our lives is clear. If the purpose of God – flowing from the very essence of what it means to be God – is that he be known and enjoyed and praised as infinitely glorious in his free and sovereign grace, then the meaning of our existence is clear. We exist to know and enjoy and praise and display the glory of God’s free and sovereign grace. We exist to see and savor and sing – and spread a passion for – the glory of God’s grace.

And underneath this meaning for our lives is the massive assurance: This purpose will stand. And all who are in Christ by faith will stand in it. So spend yourself for this great purpose while you live. All the elect in Christ prevail, God’s purpose stands, it cannot fail.

Reggie Kelly again.
To refuse to bow to the election of God is to bow down to another god, the idol of human self-determination. It manifests a self sufficient refusal of the knowledge of God. That is why I see this issue as the principal stone of stumbling that will test many hearts in these treacherous days of ultimate strong delusion.

More thoughts from Piper
Three Reasons Why the Doctrine of Unconditional Election Is Good News

It is good news because it means no unbeliever is so bad that they can say in response to our gospel pleading, "I can’t be elect; I am too evil. I have sinned too long and to deeply." God’s election is not based on how much we do or don’t sin. It is not based on anything we do or think or feel or choose. Therefore, the proper response to that kind of despair is to say, "Who do you think you are to exalt your sin to the level of God? Who do you think you are to wallow in your despair and make your sinful will the sovereign of the universe, as if you could decide who is elect and who is not by the quantity of your sinning?" No! You have no right and no power to declare yourself beyond God’s election. He and he alone decides who is elect. And he decides NOT on the basis of your sin or your righteousness, but on the basis of his inscrutable will alone. You may not play God with your sin. None of it proves you are not elect. Repent, therefore, and call on the name of the Lord through Jesus Christ who has died for sinners. For he has said, "Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.’" To the despairing soul who feels he has sinned himself out of the possibility of election, unconditional election is good news.

The doctrine of unconditional election is good news because it preserves the praise of God’s glorious grace at every point in our salvation. There was not, and is not, nor ever will be, a point where we become the decisive cause of our salvation. God has chosen us freely so that we may not boast in ourselves but in God. This is good news because we were made to find greatest joy in praising, not being praised. Probably the deepest corruption that we have all inherited from the Fall – and it is especially and blatantly prevalent in the last 50 years – is that we believe and feel that happiness and health come from being praised, rather than from praising God. We think that psychological health comes from being made much of, rather than from being freed from that need to enjoy making much of God forever. That is why we were made, and that is where the greatest and deepest and longest joys are found – not in being made much of, but in forgetting ourselves in the joy of making much of God’s glory, which consists very much in his free and sovereign grace. Unconditional election is designed for that great and happy end. Therefore it is good news.

The doctrine of unconditional election is good news because when, by grace through faith, you know yourself loved by God, forgiven, justified, accepted, this doctrine of election assures you that the roots of your salvation – the roots of God’s almighty commitment to save you – are not shallow, but go down deep into the counsels of eternity. It is good news to know that the root of your salvation goes down forever and ever into eternal grace and never gets to a point where it is contingent and fragile and dependent on your foreseen faith or your foreseen good works.

Moses asks to see God’s glory. God obliges by saying: Here’s my goodness, my name. And to his name he attaches this sentence: "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." In other words, I think God is saying to Moses, and to us, my glory is expressed in my name, Yahweh (Lord), and my name is expressed in my freedom to have mercy on whom I have mercy. This is who I am. This is my name. This is my glory. My essence as God consists essentially in being free from any constraint originating outside my own will. This is the essence of what it means to be God. This is his name, my glory.

One confirmation of this is that back in chapter 3 of Exodus Moses asks God what his name is so that he can tell the Israelites who sent him. God answers in verse 14: "God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you."’’" In other words, God explained his name here as "I am who I am." And in Exodus 33:19 he explains his name as "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy." The structure is the same, and the meaning is simply expanded. God’s name, the essence of his glory, is that he IS absolutely and without cause or constraint from outside himself. He is who he is. And, expanding on that in chapter 33, he says his name, his essence, is, "I have mercy on whom I have mercy" – that is, I am absolutely self-existent and absolutely self-determining. I exist freely, without cause or control from any other. And I have mercy freely. At the deepest decision of my mercy there is no cause or control or constraint by anything outside my own will. That is what it means to be God, Yahweh. That is my name and the essence of my glory.

Therefore the doctrine of unconditional election stands and God is righteous in it.

And I close with the reminder of how good this news is:

No amount of sin that you have ever done can keep you from being God’s elect. God was, is, and always will be free. And your past record of sin was and is no hindrance to your being elect. Call on the name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.
And let all the praise for your salvation go to him and not yourself. You were made for this. Find your joy in making much of God and his grace, not making much of yourself. And when you find your rest in Christ through faith, glory in this: the roots of your security go down forever in the eternal grace of God. Amen.

Why election is good news?
1) No one is so bad that he is outside of God’s choosing
2) God’s grace, not myself, my intelligence, my choosing
3) When my faith and love for God is most fragile, I can
remember that God’s choosing of me, is rooted in who
He is, not in anything I do.

The Mystery
God elects, predestines, calls, but He does so without changing the
fact that individual people are held accountable for their choices in
this life, and there is no injustice in that. We are held responsible.

God in His sovereignty renders certain the belief of the elect without
taking away our responsibility. It is a mystery, but both truths are in
the Bible. What is not in the Bible is that man makes a choice outside
of the will of God. Man is not sovereign.
“He comes to thine aid for His own sake and not for thine” Schlatter
His is miracle or absence of miracle.
Only as free, regal, sovereign, unbounded and incomprehensible, can we comprehend God and do Him honour.
Be careful that you feel good enough or wise enough to judge the goodness or wisdom of God.
The church of Jacob lives its life in fear of Esau, realizing that it is only separated from Esau, but the electing grace of God.
Hope comes only from God, we must decrease, He must increase.
The church is inadequate, transient men, proclaiming the eternal and absolute Word of God.
The Ishmael church is any church that is attempting to help God by its own efforts and that busies itself doing ‘good’ things. Totally unwilling to admit that they are poor, blind, weak and needy. The Isaac church laughs at the impossibility of God choosing to use it, it would take a miracle for that to happen, and that is, of course the ‘point.’ It does take a miracle and God gets the glory when Isaac is born, not Sarah’s womb or Abraham’s body which are both dead.
Life out of death, resurrection is the theme of the church.

This is the eternal absolute word of God. It is not a transient, human word. It is unprecedented. It is not “one thing” among “other things.” It is OTHER, as He is other. As Abraham’s seed, we must realize and accept that we are not established by ourselves, we are established by God, by a miracle, out of death - life.

John Stott offers this helpful analysis:

If therefore God hardens some, he is not being unjust, for that is what their sin deserves. If, on the other hand, he has compassion on some, he is not being unjust, for he is dealing with them in mercy. The wonder is not that some are saved and some are lost, but that anybody is saved at all. For we deserve nothing from God’s hand but judgment. If we receive what we deserve (which is judgment), or if we receive what we do not deserve (which is mercy), in neither case is God unjust. If therefore anybody is lost, the blame is theirs, but if anybody is saved, the credit is God’s. (Romans, pp. 269-270).

This is the main point of the entire chapter. No matter how disappointed we may be, God’s Word has not failed, nor will it ever fail. Numbers 23:19 puts it this way: “Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Isaiah 55:11: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

* God’s purposes always promote His glory, even if we don’t understand what He is doing. The real question is not why God rejected Esau but why he chose Jacob. He elected to lavish mercy on the deceiver Jacob, even though he deserved justice. Esau simply received what was coming to him. Without mercy Jacob would have been passed over as well. Likewise, we are all born objects of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3). It’s only through His electing love that we receive mercy. Everything comes back to God and no one deserves salvation. If you got what you deserved, you would go to hell. And so would I.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Art Katz defining wisdom - The unique and particular application of the mind of God to a present or future circumstance for which nothing of your past will have prepared you (and even if something in the past were given of God you cannot make the application because of a similarity- You need what is appropriate now, the present truth as it is in Christ Jesus for this situation. Wisdom is what God Himself gives out of His own mind in the appropriateness that only He can recognize and ive answer for a situation that has not previously come - that cannot be answered by any past experience and needs the present NOW understanding of God to resolve. The issue is not convenience but the Glory of God. Furthermore Art noted in his sermon on "The pursuit of Wisdom" that we are to be seeking wisdom, crying out for it, realizing our desperate NEED of it, that and that alone will put us in the disposition to get it. And when we begin simply "walking" in that wisdom then that disposition will lead to the "character" that one begins to live out, as one is "walking" out the truths of God. So what we are looking to do and see in our children is the disposition to be wanting truth, that is a gift from God, so once again, our prayer is simplified, "Lord choose _____, my child, and give them this gift." God make us aware of our desperate need of You, In Jesus' Name, Amen.