Does Romans 9
Just as with all scripture, to isolate a portion of scripture to fit
into a preferred theology is never a wise thing to do. The bible as a
whole needs to be taken into account when reading any portion of scripture
to understand the context in which it is being presented.
For the person who does believe in predestination, Romans Chapter 9 does
appear to support predestination. Predestination according to Reformed
Theology would be more accurately called "selective salvation".
For those who believe in selective salvation, it is a comforting thought
for those who may believe they have been elected. Before I go on into
looking at Romans chapter 9, I would like to list a few reasons as to
why I disagree with Reformed Theology.
1. To believe in selective salvation, although it is comforting for those
who may feel they have been chosen, it is not very comforting for those
who believe they have been selected to hell.
2. There is no way to determine who may or may not be selected for either
heaven or hell and this includes those who may believe they have been
3. It is not very comforting for anybody who has lost a child to be told
the child went to hell because they were born totally depraved as it is
taught in Reformed Theology.
4. If man was created with no free will and only a select few are selected
for heaven, then the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was pointless.
If the elect were already selected, then what was the purpose or the need
for Christ to die for their sins?
5.If man has no free will, then God could have created man with theinability
to resist his grace from the very beginning. I find it inconceivable that
God would select man to hell to show his love and mercy to a select few.
Just how would this demonstrate his love and mercy for the elect?
6.Selective salvation makes the words of Jesus pointless when he said
"Ye must be born again". If the elect are already selected before
the foundations of the earth, then at what point were they born again?
Would this not mean they had no need to be born again when they were already
elected before the foundations of the earth? At what point were they born
again? Before they were born or after they were born?
7. Selective salvation nullifies over 300 verses in the bible that gives
the invitation to all who call upon the name of the Lord. Some examples
are as follows.
God so loved the world. Whosoever shall receive me. That whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Whosoever drinketh of
the water that I shall give him shall never thirst. Whosoever shall call
on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Whosoever believeth in him shall
receive remission of sins. For the promise is unto you, and to your children,
and to all that are afar off-that thou shouldest be for salvation unto
the ends of the earth. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every
one that believeth. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath
appeared to all men.
8. Selective salvation discourages the need for evangelizing. What is
the point of evangelizing when those chosen to go to heaven have already
Much more can be added to this list but let us go on into the study of
Romans chapter 9. First it needs to be pointed out that the main theme
in the book of Romans is salvation by the grace of God through faith in
Christ and not through the works of the law. We also know that the bible
teaches that salvation was made available to all mankind. To believe that
Romans chapter 9 speaks of selective salvation, then one has to reinterpret
the words of Jesus in John 3:16-17 that reads as follows.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God
did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save
the world through him."
For this to fit into Romans chapter nine through the eyes of Reformed
Theology, this is how this must be interpreted.
"For God so loved the elected few that he gave his one and only
Son. Only those who had no choice but to believe in him shall not perish
but will have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world
to condemn the elect but to condemn those who were not of the elect who
had no choice. He came to save only the elect through himand to condemn
the world so that the elect would see the riches of his mercy and grace
Now let me ask this question, if this is what Jesus really meant to say,
then why didn't he just say it?
See, we have a dilemma, either Paul is wrong in Romans chapter 9 or Jesus
was wrong in John 3:16-17. I say neither were wrong and it is the understanding
of Romans chapter 9 that is wrong. I believe Romans chapter 9 can be better
understood by reading the rest of the words of Jesus. John 3:18 reads
"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not
believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name
of God's one and only Son."
There we have that "whoever" word again. Whoever would be everybody
and everyone unless there is a different definition that I am not aware
of. To use the word "whoever" indicates a free will choice.
Whoever believes shall not perish and whosoever does not believe is condemned.
I don't see anything in the words of Jesus that speaks of an elected or
selected few but the invitation is for whoever.
The elect or the chosen are those who acknowledge that God and God alone
is our Savior. How can I say this? Because Jesus said so in John 3:19-20
that reads as follows.
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved
darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who
does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that
his deeds will be exposed."
Man will not come to God because the admittance that one needs a savior
is to acknowledge that we are sinners. For a person to admit their sins
exposes their evil deeds for all to see. It is a pride issue that prevents
one to come into the Light and man would rather hide their sin so as not
to have their sins exposed.
What is this truth that Jesus speaks of in vs 21 that reads as follows?
"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it
may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
The truth Jesus speaks of is that man is evil and sinful and is in need
of a Savior. When he has acknowledged this, he has come into the light
and the life he now lives has been done through God. This means acknowledging
the finished works of Christ upon the cross that no man can add to. Salvation
is the person of Jesus Christ and is not a "thing" to obtain
but is a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.
On to Romans chapter nine. In chapter 8 we see that Paul is explaining
that salvation had come to all mankind, Jew and Gentile alike. Chapter
nine is a continuation of this theme. He is going into more detail as
to how salvation had first come to the Jew. He goes on to explain that
because of the Jews, salvation had been made available to the Gentiles.
Paul begins this chapter expressing his love for the Jews. He calls them
his brothers, those of his own race. Paul is pointing out that promise
of adopted sons of God first came to the Jews who were to partake of His
divine glory. The Jews were given "the covenants, the receiving of
the law, the temple worship and the promises".(vs4) They are the
patriarchs and the lineage of who Christ came through.(vs.5) Paul had
a special love for the Jewish people. So much so that he said he would
prefer to be cut off from Christ and to be cursed if it would bring salvation
to his brethren.(vs2)
Paul continues to say that just because many of the Jews rejected the
Messiah that it does not mean God's words failed.(vs.6) It can only mean
that they freely chose to believe Jesus was not the Messiah. He goes on
to say that just because they are descendent from Abraham, it does not
mean they are the children of the promise. (vs.7) This would be the equivalent
of me saying that just because someone claims to be a Christian, it does
not mean that they are. Just as a person is not born a Christian, neither
were the children of the promise automatically the children of the promise.(vs.8)
The children of the promise then and today are those who believe God.
(vs.9-10) With this background, lets look at the first controversial verse
that Reformed Theology believers points to predestination of the elect..
"Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in
order that God's purpose in election might stand:" (vs 11)
This is not saying one of the twins was bad and the other was good. What
is being said is that God foreknew which of the twins the lineage of Christ
would come through. The election is NOT that Jacob was elected and Esau
was cursed before they were born. It clearly says before either one had
done anything good or bad. Naturally neither one could have done anything
either good or bad before they were born. Foreknowledge does not mean
that God chose Jacob over Esau because Jacob was good and Esau was bad.
The bible clearly says that all have sinned and have fallen short of
the glory of God. As a matter of fact, it was Jacob who was a liar and
a deceiver who plotted with his mother to receive the blessings. (Genesis
chapter 27) Jacob was a mama's boy who plotted and connived with his mother
to deceive Issac. Issac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob.(Gen.25:28)
The point is, if being good or bad was the criteria for God to select,
then Jacob would have been the worse choice between the two from this
point of view.
What this election is speaking of in verse eleven is God's purpose of
the lineage of Christ that would stand. God foreknew that Esau would sell
his inheritance for a bowl of soup and that the lineage of Christ would
be through Jacob. This is what God judged and as to why He hated Esau
and loved Jacob.(vs.13) Esau had little or no regard for the blessings.
Jacob valued the blessing and even lied and deceived to receive the blessings.
Verse 12 that states; "not by works but by him who calls" further
clarifies that salvation (the blessings) comes through belief and NOT
by works. Salvation by grace through belief in Christ and not by the works
of the law remains consistent with the theme of the book of Romans.
The blessing was offered to Esau by virtue of inheritance for nothing
more than because he was the first born. The blessing was not based upon
who was good and who was bad. In this case, the blessing was based upon
which one valued the blessing and which one did not. Neither one did any
"good works" to receive the blessing.
With this explanation, then the following verses become clear as to what
Paul is saying.
"What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says
to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have
compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend
on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." (Romans 9:14-16)
A person who thinks salvation comes through good works may say that this
was unjust of God. After all, the inheritance was Esau's and he didn't
do the lying and deceiving. Jacob was the crook who stole the blessing
so why did Jacob receive the blessing instead of Esau?
The Reformed theologian might answer, "We just can't know the ways
of the Lord and just have to accept that He is sovereign and predestines
some to hell and others to heaven".
Instead of either of those explanations, how about God is sovereign and
that salvation comes through belief in God and not of works? God knows
the heart and he has mercy and compassion upon who He will because he
is sovereign. Because he is sovereign, He alone knows the heart of man
and because of this, who are we to say who God should and should not show
mercy and compassion? This explanation flies in the face of both the legalist
and the Reformist in my humble opinion.
"For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this
very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might
be proclaimed in all the earth." Therefore God has mercy on whom
he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."
Is this really predestination? Did God really predestine Pharaoh for
the purpose of destroying him? Did God not give Pharaoh many opportunities
for him to repent? Did God not extend his mercy and compassion in giving
him room to repent? Would God have rejected Pharaoh if he would have repented?
I know God would have forgiven Pharaoh because he even gave Cain room
to repent. Remember, God came to Cain and said, why are you down in the
mouth? Don't you know that if you did right that all would go well with
you too? (Gen.4:6-7)
God knew that Pharaoh's heart had become so hard that he would not repent.
God did no more than to give Pharaoh his wish and hardened his heart all
the more. The liberal may say, "That was unfair of God to do that".
The leagalist may say, "Pharaoh deserved it because he was evil unlike
I am". The Reformist may say, "We just don't know the ways of
the Lord and have to accept that he hardens some hearts and some he softens".
The answer to all three views are as follows.
"One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame
us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back
to God? "Shall what is formed say to him 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 noble purposes and some
for common use?" (Vs.19-21)
Again, we are talking about a sovereign God. Look at this verse again.
What is the question being asked? Why does God still blame us? For who
resists his will?
The fact is folks, many do resist God's will and who else should be blamed?
Should God be blamed for man to resist his will? Did Pharaoh resist God's
will? I believe we can all agree that he did but; did Pharaoh circumvent
God's will? Did Pharaoh prevent the Hebrew children from being set free?
Can you see what I am saying, God's will can not be stopped. What he wills
will be accomplished despite man's resistance and who are you to question
how God accomplishes his will? In answer to this, lets look at vs.22-24
that states as follows.
"What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known,
bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction?
What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects
of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory-- even us, whom he
also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?"
Notice, if God predestined some for destruction and some for his glory,
then why does it say "BORE WITH GREAT PATIENCE the objects of his
wrath? This is not predestination, this is God showing great patience
by extending his mercy and compassion until their hearts grew so cold
and hard in resisting his will that they became the objects of his wrath.
He shows mercy to whom he shows mercy and he knows the hearts of man
because he alone is sovereign and, "who are you, O man, to talk back
God says, "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, "It
will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, `You are
not my people,' they will be called `sons of the living God.' " (vs.25-26)
Paul is making it clear that salvation is available to all, Jew and Gentile
alike and who are you to talk back to God? There will be Jew and Gentile
alike who will resist the will of God and will not come into salvation.
On the other hand, there will be Jew and Gentile alike who will not resist
the will of God who will come into salvation.
Paul is saying this in the next few verses. He is saying that if God
had not preserved a remnant, they all would have been destroyed like Sodom
"Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of
the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.
For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality."
It is just as Isaiah said previously: "Unless the Lord Almighty had
left descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been
like Gomorrah." (Vs.27-29)
God fulfilled his will. His will was to preserve the lineage of Christ
so that salvation could be offered to all, Jew and Gentile alike. Although
many resisted his will, none circumvented his will because he is sovereign
and what he wills, he accomplishes.
Now, lets finish this up with Paul's final words in Galatians chapter
"What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness,
have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued
a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued
it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling
stone." As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes
men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts
in him will never be put to shame." (Vs.30-33)
Paul finishes up the discourse that is consistent with the book of Romans
that salvation comes through faith in God and NOT by works. Romans chapter
nine is expounding upon this message and clarifies that the message is
for Jew and Gentile alike.
"For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves
with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor
female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."