Calvinism, Doctrinal, Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 5 – Romans 9:16

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the second portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

Scripture says God is sovereign in his decision to whom he will have mercy which is in accordance with Romans 9:16 and other scripture Romans 9:15,18 The natural man doesn’t come and can’t come 1 Corinthians 2:14 John 6:44 John 6:65 He doesn’t have the ability because he lacks spiritual discernment because he doesn’t have the spirit.

Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy

This is the big one! The verse that seems to answer all questions when it comes to determinism, a lynchpin in the Calvinistic understanding of the sovereignty of God. When the topic of free will comes up in relation to soteriology, Romans 9 seems to be the passage used to defeat all arguments. I am not convinced this is so.

First A Plea

I realize that some may read this and will immediately discount my thoughts. That is expected. When I taught the “doctrines of grace” I too discounted all who challenged me. Romans 9-11 is considered the hotbed of Calvinism. I make absolutely no claim to resolve the debate of it’s interpretation, but only to supply an alternate perspective to the deterministic approach.

For those who refuse to consider any alternate teaching, they themselves have set themselves up to be the arbiters of truth, judging others as opposed to understanding another position and showing grace to others.

They may be completely convinced of their position, and of that, I salute their arrival. For myself, I previously lived a life of “superior” knowledge, looking down on others and their thoughts. (Romans 1:22) Out of that life attitude, I offended, judged, tore down, and condemned many that were walking a better Christian life than myself. (Galations 5:15)

I readily admit that it is difficult to consider a differing opinion, since it opens the reader up to admitting an error. Admitting error is often called repentance in the Body of Christ, and is to be celebrated.

It is important to remember that the Christian life is Christ, that Christianity is not principally a teaching (John 5:39) but a Person, a Person that has been raised from the dead. My second birth occurred due to my repentance of sin and faith in the One who had the right to be my Judge, and yet He sacrificed Himself for a lost sinner. This simple truth has set me free. He is full of grace to the ones who reject Him, revile Him and run from Him.

Back to Verse 16

Who is receiving the mercy? This, in my opinion, is the crux of the matter. Does this passage refer to individuals or nations, that is corporate entities?

This passage is dependent on the context and hinges on a phrase found in Exodus 33:19. Let me try to recount the context.

Exodus 32, Moses is on Mount Sinai, with the children of Israel below, beginning to grumble. During the time on the mount, the Lord informs Moses of the sin of Israel in worshipping the golden calf. The Lord tells Moses to leave Him alone in order that the children of Israel may be consumed.

Moses goes into intermediary mode, (forgoing the potential honor of his own nation from his loins), and reminds the Lord of His promises to the fathers. The Lord relents of His consuming judgement upon His nation, His very own people. Yet judgement came upon certain individuals – 3,000 died at the hand of the Levites.

Exodus 33 Moses receives a command to leave Sinai and head to the promised land. Moses needs assistance in this huge effort of leading the nation of Israel, His people to the promised land. He needs God’s presence with him on this assignment.

Moses was given the promise of God’s presence to go with him and to give him rest. Moses pushes, and makes his demand – If you do not go up with US, do not lead US up from here. He had been given the promise of God’s presence, but Moses sought the presence of God for the nation, the people of God.

God promises His presence for the nation, and then Moses asked to see His glory.

The Lord states

Exodus 33:19

And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Let’s think about the context. Moses had found favor in the sight of the Lord. (Ex 33:17) The nation of Israel had definitely not found favor, but had rebelled and sinned against the One who delivered them.

It seems this phrase

And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

is referring to the nation of Israel, and not an individual, since God’s relationship with Moses had been defined earlier in the passage.

Whoa Carl – that is such a tenuous statement. My Calvinistic teaching demands that the mercy shown in this context is on individuals, and not a corporate mercy. This cannot be the correct interpretation, since it conflicts with my theology!

No comment. Lets continue.

Malachi 1:2-3

“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob

but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”

I see the verses above defining the one who is loved as being the corporate entity of the nation of Israel, as opposed to a singular person. Although the passage states that “Esau” was hated, it is the nation of Edom that is referred to in the expression of the hatred. Esau was long gone and his fate had been sealed by this time. But the prophet speaks of a national disaster that befell the nation of Edom, when he defines the “hatred” the Lord has for Esau. Jacob, meanwhile was back in the land and still in existence by the time of Malachi. Surely the nation of Israel was loved by God.

Back to Romans 9:16. With this background and understanding, the mercy spoken of in Exodus 33 was being shown to a nation that had sinned greatly in front of the Lord. His people had rejected Him as He sought to offer His covenant to them.

Is there not a parallel with the condition Paul was in the midst of? The physical nation of Israel was predominantly rejecting the new covenant, just like they rejected the covenant at Sinai.

The very promises of God were being questioned, in the midst of the nation rejecting the opportunity. And Paul was answering these challenges by using verses specifically chosen that define the mercy of God on a corporate entity. The nation of Israel had many blessings as defined in 9:2- 3.

As I mentioned earlier, I am supplying an alternate framework to consider the Romans 9-11 passage, which makes sense to me. Since the name of this blog is “Considering the Bible” and not “I have all truth”, this is offered for your consideration, and not blind obedience!

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


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14 thoughts on “Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 5 – Romans 9:16

  1. Paul says:

    Carl,

    You have believed a false gospel and another Jesus and it definitely is not a funny matter. You laugh with Satan who is your father, both of you are liars and the truth is not in you. I have corrected you many many times and I continue to give you what is holy and continue to cast the pearls of the Gospel before the swine. And you continue to trample on the truth. You attack me in your heart and call me “unloving” and “mean spirited” and “judgmental” and here is the famous one “divisive”. And all because I correct you openly so that your soul may be saved. I am actually loving my enemy for we are not brothers.

    ““Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    You may as well just remove the words “considering the Bible together” because you won’t interact with anyone. You don’t consider any other view (notice I said view and not exegesis- because you don’t exegete the Bible).

    Your not considering Romans 9 with anyone but YOURSELF!

    Prove me and your readers wrong Carl, and start interacting with me. The Gospel is the most important of all matters in this world. So start interacting with me. I’m beginning to think that you started this blog so you can preach and puff yourself up. You only use empty words like “let’s consider the Bible together” when you don’t really mean it. This is called a lie Carl, you are a liar.

    Prove us all wrong Carl, and start interacting and defending your views concerning this false god of yours.

    Paul

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      • Paul says:

        What is outrageous in any of my statements Carl?

        And if I were believing in a false gospel and another a Jesus I would be fearful.

        If the Gospel truth doesn’t motivate you than nothing will. Be motivated because you seek the truth and for the glory of the true God.

        We all know you cannot rebuttal any of the Scriptures I have commented on.

        Maybe you should change it to “considering the Bible” without the “together”.

        Can’t wait for your next argument against the truth so I can crush it to fine powder.

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  2. Please for my benefit answer the questions that Paul has addressed to you. You haven’t answered mine but I know the answer to mine but Paul may add something to this educational interaction

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    • Is this what you are saying? This is what I’m understanding you to mean

      Did God choose to mercy, call and elect Jacob who represents corporate Israelites only; while God chose to hate or reject Esau who represents corporately the Gentile nations.

      Is this correct on how you are understanding Romans 9

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  3. It is not about superior knowledge in the sense that you describe.

    It is about rightly dividing the word of God; in order to gain knowledge of the Truth of knowing God.

    Knowing the True God and the one whom he sent is everlasting life. No one is condemning; but only using scripture to unfold the truth and judge according to scripture.

    Comparing and contrasting in attempt to be systematic. The Bible has to be systematic because it is God’s word. It is not disjointed presenting a God of confusion.
    John 17:3 2 Timothy 2:15 2 John 9-11

    It appears to be very important according to scripture to have sound doctrine and the knowledge of the right Jesus in order to have everlasting life

    The unsaved Pharisees were searching the scriptures (in your mentioned scripture John 5:39); but were seeking to establish their own righteousness Romans 10:1-4 and believed in free will.

    The Apostle Paul prayed to God for their salvation in Romans 10:1-4 because God controls when and who will be saved. The Apostle Paul knew this very well; since he was one of them.

    No need to pray to God for anyone’s salvation if salvation is in the free willer’s hands.

    They did not know Jesus who was being talked about in the scriptures. They were searching the scriptures to find life; but they didn’t know that he is the one that gives life through knowledge and the spirit conditioned on His work and person.

    God had not shined into the heart the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

    Your free will view is predominant in the world; so, I doubt, we need to point out and consider your view as being the alternate view.

    Talk to most on the street; they are aware of the free will view and probably believe it in some form or fashion; since it is a rampant view in natural man.

    It is in every religion.

    The doctrines of Grace are not the dominant view by any means in my view and would be considered the alternate view; the biblical view; and just maybe the free will view is the one that leads into the wide path that leads to destruction. Genesis 2 Genesis 3

    Romans 1 and 1:22 is talking about those professing to wise that became fools because they were worshipping the creation instead of the creator.

    If anything applies, we might be able to apply worshipping the creation more than the creator to the free will believers; they just might be worshipping themselves more than the creator. Since salvation depends on them and not the work and person of Jesus Christ.

    If mercy is corporate, why wasn’t all of the nation of Israel saved?

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      • I agree, God showed mercy on a corporate level in that instance by bringing the nation of Israel out of Egypt; but he also shows mercy to whom He wills on an individual level. This individual mercy to whom God chooses unconditionally is demonstrated in Romans 9

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      • Please explain in Romans 9:20 how you can interpret “ Why did you make me like this?” or the term vessels in verses 21, 22, 23 or the one talking to be a corporate nation?

        Especially since you support the idea that each individual within a nation has a “Free” Will to choose between 2 equally preferred choices or “free”will which on the surface of my pea brain to be a concept that is total nonsense and impossible.

        You still haven’t answered “ What is the significance of your idea that Jacob and Esau might have been chosen unconditionally or elected 5 minutes or 10 minutes before conception instead before time?

        I say the scripture can only give way to that they were chosen unconditionally before time or before the foundation of the world.

        If elected before they did anything, good or bad, isn’t God saying election is based on unconditional election and irrespective of their Will which is exactly what God is saying in the verse being analyzed

        Romans 9:16
        So, then, it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of the One having mercy, of God.

        Doesn’t “one” mean or “of the” willing mean one or “the willing” mean one person and not a corporate entity?

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      • Paul says:

        Carl, you do realize that a nation is made up of “individuals.” So even if we assume (which it isn’t) that the Apostle was referring to the Nation of Israel and the nation of Edomites when he says, Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated, it is still speaking of “individuals.” A nation is made up of a bunch of “individuals”! So God loves Jacob the nation of Israel made up of millions of “individuals.”

        You work soooooooo hard to make the point that God is not mercying “individuals” and yet you can’t separate a nation from “individuals” because “individuals” make up the nation. You cling to free will with all your life and you are even willing to stand condemned for it. Your weak god cannot save anyone including Israel, you must give glory and honor to the millions of free wills that chose to flee Egypt on their own accord. God did not save them, their free will did. Since you have jokes I will have them too, Anyway- let’s continue……

        You even say it yourself in your long drawn out “alternative” explanation when you say that God surely left out 3000 “individuals” within the nation of Israel. Even you acknowledge that the nation of Israel whom God is mercying which Paul calls the elect, left out 3000 non elect from the nation of Israel. How can this be Carl? How can God love some individuals within the nation of Israel and leave out others? Does God have this kind of freedom of His Will to do such a thing?

        My answer: Yes! The apostle tells us that God has the complete freedom to love Jacob BEFORE he was born and in the same way He hated Esau BEFORE he was born.

        Let me remind you that Jacob and Esau hadn’t been born out of the womb yet so it isn’t talking about nations. The Romans 9 text is speaking about “individuals” like Abraham, Jacob, Esau and Pharaoh.

        And God loves Jacob “in order that God’s purpose of election might continue” (Rom 9:11).

        But we know you hate this God of Romans 9. You can’t stand to worship an all sovereign God who loves “individuals” called His elect while at the same time He hates and hardens other certain “individuals” like Esau and Pharaoh. As a matter of fact I will say that God is hardening you every time you reject His absolute complete sovereignty over His own created creatures. This is called Gospel hardening and God is doing this to you at this very second my freind.

        Please please explain to your audience how the nation of Israel is not made up of “individuals”. Please please tell us what the nation of Israel was made up of.

        We won’t hold our breath because we’ll die waiting for you to answer. You will not reply because this is what we call “check mate” !

        Paul

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