One of our regular DL listeners, justrozie, transcribed my exegesis of Romans 9, and Algo proof-read it, so I am providing it here. Here is the audio. As this is a bit longer than our current blog software allows for a single post, I have broken this up into two sections.
   But, let’s look at Romans chapter 9 and let’s start off with the context. Specifically beginning at verse 1. Paul says “I am telling the truth in Christ” now remember, back up and hold on a second. I apologize. Romans chapter 9 again chapter and verse divisions were not a part of the original text of Scripture. And so what have we just had? We’ve had the Golden Chain of Redemption, Romans chapter 8. In fact, it might be well to go back and to remind ourselves of what has come before. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:28-29)
   I just stop long enough to challenge in the minds of anyone who thinks that this term foreknew as a verb is the same thing as the noun to simply have foreknowledge, that you are wrong. And that you need to look at the text of Scripture and realize that this is an active verb. This is something God is doing and every time God is the subject and this is the verb in the New Testament, the object is personal it is never actions. To simply say God knew who was going to believe, there is no example of that statement in the New Testament. It is not there. It is not an untrue statement but it doesn’t answer anything and it doesn’t tell us what it means for God to foreknow someone. It says God foreknew Christ, does that just mean God had knowledge of what Christ would do? No. This is an active verb. It is something that God does. So, “For those whom He foreknew, he also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. And these whom He predestined He also called. And these whom He called He also justified. And these whom He justified He also glorified.” Here is the Golden Chain. God is the one doing every single verb. Foreknew – predestined – called -justified – glorified. God does each one. It is the exact same audience in each one. Those whom He foreknew he does all the other things that result in their glorification. It is a certainty. It is all to God’s glory.
   Now, we know for example that one of those things is justification. And we know that the bible says we’re justified by grace, we’re justified by the blood of Christ, and we’re justified by faith. So obviously, the means by which these things then come into play, they come into our experience are included in God’s sovereign capacity and power to do these things. And so having said this, then verse 31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us who is against us?” Notice those terms that are used there. Us. Follow the pronouns. Follow the pronoun. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” If the ‘us’ here is all humanity, you are going to be forced into the position of absolute universalism here. You will not be able to affirm the existence of those who are saved and those who will be lost.
   Who is the us in Romans chapter 8 verse 33? “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? ” God’s elect. God is the one who justifies. Justifies who? Justifies the elect. Who is it that is justified in the Golden Chain? Foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified. “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised to the right hand of God.” Who also does what? “intercedes for us.”

   The work of atonement and intercession are both the singular work of the High Priest. Those for whom Christ dies He also intercedes for them. And so I ask all of those who are just absolutely wedded to this idea that Jesus’ death must be for every single individual, does that then mean that Jesus stands before the throne of the Father interceding on the behalf of every individual who will be in hell for eternity? And if that is the case, does that mean that His intercession is fruitless? That can’t be the case because Hebrews 7 says that it is His intercession that makes him able to save to the uttermost. So, is there a disagreement in the Godhead to where the Son wants to save someone and the Father does not? Certainly not! So, this is a singular work of God. It is a perfect work of God. He intercedes for us. The same us all the way through this is God’s elect.
   “Who then will separate us from the love of Christ?” If you are going to make this us someone other than the elect of God, then you have the specter of God loving the non-elect throughout eternity savingly. He wants to save them but He is going to be eternally frustrated. The eternally frustrated God, the eternally unhappy God. Is that truly what we see being presented in the Scriptures? I don’t believe that it is.
   “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? Just as it is written for Your sake we are being put to death all the day long., we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” And that obviously is a redemptive love that is being referred to there. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
   So there is the context. Here is the cathedral of Christian revelation in Romans chapter 8 and as soon as he says this it becomes very, very clear that the apostle Paul knows that as soon as he makes these over arching statements of God’s victory in Christ and the elect in Christ and the perfection of the salvation that immediately on of the first objections that’s going to be raised is “But Paul, don’t you realize that if what you’re saying is true and we look around us and we see the vast majority of the Jewish people reject your message, they reject Jesus is the Messiah, does that not mean that God’s Word has failed?” And so in Romans chapter 9 we begin “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with. me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, {separated} from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the {temple} service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” I prefer the NIV or New King James at that point. “Who is God over all blessed forever” I think it is in reference to the deity of Christ but we’re not going to spend our time on that.
   Today he here enumerates the great benefits that have been given to the Jewish people. And he says that he could wish himself to be accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren who are my kinsmen according to the flesh. The people immediately go, “Well obviously Paul could not have believed God is sovereign over all things and that God has a plan if he could then say these words.” Well that only shows that you’re assuming something that is incorrect and that is since we don’t know the identity of the elect, we are not called to function on the basis of that knowledge, that it is our desire to see people bow the knee before Christ. And we can have just as strong a fervor for the proclamation of the gospel and the calling of people to bow the knee before Christ as anyone who thinks that it is just up to man. There is no reason, there is no logical or rational reason to say that to believe what Paul is going to say in the rest of Romans 9 or what he just got done saying in Romans 8 destroys your evangelistic fervor. It can be abused in that way but it does not of necessity follow that it must be that way.
   So, he says all these things about the Jews and here then comes the key. And I would challenge anyone who wants to try and turn Romans chapter 9 into something that is just about nations and national privilege and things like that, you must answer a simple question. You must answer what the relationship between the later text that you are going to limit to nothing but nations with no personal application, you must explain why this entire section begins with verse 6 and the issue that it raises. What does verse 6 say? “For {it is} not as though the word of God has failed.” Remember he raises these objections. Paul was an apologist at heart. He recognized the need for the defense of the faith. He even said that he was sent for the defense of the faith. And he knows what people are going to say to his preaching and they are going to say, “Paul, if what you’re saying is true, then the Word of God has failed, because the majority of your fellow Jews don’t believe this message. The Messiah has come and they do not accept Him”. And so he says, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed, for they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” Now, there is the key. I suggest to you that all of the attempts, and there are so many and they take so many varied forms, to make the rest of Romans 9 to separate as far as possible from anything to do with personal salvation cannot show a consistency between this statement and the rest of the chapter.
   Because think about it, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” the only way to understand that is of individuals. It can’t be of nations. It’s not saying “They are not all nations of Israel who are descended from the one nation of Israel.” That doesn’t make any sense. It is very clear that he is addressing individuals who are descended from Israel. And he’s going to talk about Isaac, he’s going to talk about Esau, Jacob; these are individuals. And he is answering the question- look when you talk about the promises to Israel, you need to recognize that from the very beginning God has been free in the matter of those to whom He gives His promises. And he is going to take the Old Testament Scriptures and he’s going to use them to demonstrate “Look, I am not out of harmony with those Scriptures. What I am preaching is in harmony because this freedom that God shows is now being shown in taking the gospel to the Gentiles. And those who are predestined to eternal life believe. He is gathering the people, making them all one in Christ Jesus. This freedom that I say God has to save Jews and Gentiles in Christ Jesus is a freedom He has claimed from the beginning and which is illustrated over and over and over again in your own Scriptures. And so you don’t have the foundation to object to me (this is Paul speaking) on the basis of the promises given to Israel. For you need to recognize that they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel. Nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendents but through Isaac your descendents will be named. God had the freedom to define to whom the promises would be given and it is not just a genetic relationship. And the only way to understand any of these things is to recognize that we are talking about the promises relevant to salvation not just something about national privilege and national service and issues along these lines. And if you say that, if you go “well its nations in her womb’ and things like this and “he quotes from something that’s about nations in Malachi 4:1” there is a simple principle of exegesis that you start from the beginning and go to the end. If you have to jump down the context someplace, create your foundation and then read it back and it ends up making mince meat, mashed potatoes out of what comes before it, there is no consistency, there is no flow, then we have run into another indicator of one of your traditions. Yes, when you have to use a completely different methodology than exegesis that means we have run into one of your traditions and you are not actually subjecting yourself to the word of God at that point.
   So, we continue on with verse 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.” That’s God’s freedom. Could God have done it differently? I suppose so but that’s not the point. His point is we have always recognized this to be the case. That it is not just the children of the flesh who are children of God. Yes there are all sorts of Jews that reject what I am proclaiming in Christ but that doesn’t mean that the promises were for them. The promises have always been for that elect remnant anyway. And you want examples of this? Well, let me give you some examples of this, and he gives a number of examples for us in the next few verses. “For this is the word of promise ‘At this time I shall come and Sarah shall have son.'” This is in regards to Isaac, of course. “And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived {twins} by one man, our father Isaac;”
   Now, listen carefully here, listen to what is said. “For though {the twins} were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad,” Now people are going to say and Mr. Gregg is going to say these are nations. And yes, both were fathers of nations that does come later but that is not the point the apostle makes. And if your application makes the apostles’ application senseless and useless then you are not adequately handling the text. Notice what it says, “For though {the twins} were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad.” Who has not done anything good or bad? The twins. As nations? No, as individuals. His point is he is going to take away any ground of boasting on the part of man. And what is the time frame to which he is referring to here? To the period of the pregnancy of two historical individuals.
   “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, it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger.'” So the point that he’s making here, and he is belaboring the point, notice how he is belaboring it? He says they had not done anything good or bad so that it was not because of works. So you’ve got twice, they hadn’t done anything good or bad, not because of works, not because of actions, not because of what they did. But on the other hand God’s purpose according His choice would stand because of Him who calls. So he repeats himself in essence. He almost stutters to make sure that we understand the contrast he is drawing here, the contrast we’re going to see later. The contrast is between what men do, what men accomplish over against God’s free purpose to do as He chooses with His creation. All right?
   Now, if you find the very same concepts being repeated 5, 8, 12 verses down the road, that probably means this whole section hangs together as one. Okay? If you don’t see that then you might want to ask yourself the question, “why does my interpretation have multiple parts of Romans 9 that have nothing to do with each other?” If your interpretation cannot give us a consistent interpretation here, I would suggest it is because it is wrong. It is not allowing the apostle to speak.
   So, you have these two contrasts- what man does, what God does, and the whole point is these words, “the older will serve the younger” were spoken while the twins were still in the womb so there can be nothing in their actions that determines God’s choice. And yet, what is the heart and soul of Arminianism? What is the heart and soul of synergism? If you don’t like to be called an Arminian, fine, I will call you a synergist. What is the heart and soul of synergism? That there is God’s purposes and man’s purposes and they have to cooperate together. And the whole point of verses 10-12 is that isn’t true. The point is that these words in verse 12 were spoken to the twins’ mother before the birth. Now the irony is, what Mr. Gregg’s going to do, and I am going to play his whole thing so you can hear it, we’ll get to it don’t worry. What Mr. Gregg’s going to do is say, “See, this proves it can’t be individuals because Esau never served Jacob.” Now, you first hear that and you go “Oh, that’s interesting! I mean Edom did serve Israel, that must mean nations.” That would turn Paul’s entire argument on its head! It would have nothing to do with his point here, would it? That would take the end of the sentence and make it completely irrelevant to what just came before. The point is not Esau isn’t serving Jacob, and I would argue he did because he sold his birthright, therefore once you sold your birthright you are by nature servant to one who has the birthright, but that’s not the point. The point is these words were spoken, that there was going to be a reversal of the birth order the whole connectedness of these two twins by God’s sovereign choice and this happened before the twins were even born. That’s the whole point. Okay? So, what are we seeing here? We are seeing here the freedom of God and the fact that it is not man’s actions that determine these things but God’s will.
   So, “It was said to her the older will serve the younger. Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'” And again, immediately he’ll go, “See, that comes from the Minor Prophets, that comes from Edom, that comes from Israel, it has to be nations!” But again, what is the flow of argument of the apostle? How would that have anything to do with statement “not all those descended who are from Israel are Israel?” It would have nothing to do with it at all. The point is that even though, and I have said many times, if what bothers you about Romans 9:13 is “Esau I hated” if you really understood the depth of your own sin and the holiness of God, what would blow you away about Romans 9:13 is not “Esau I hated” it would be “Jacob I loved.” And I suggest to you if “Esau I hated” bothers you, you don’t understand the holiness of God. And you don’t understand the deadness of man in sin. And you do not understand how absolutely repugnant the sinner’s heart is to a holy God. What should amaze you is “Jacob I loved” not “Esau I hated.” But the point is, the point is that it was God’s choice as to how He responded to the two and it was not based on some looking down from the corridors of time to see what these guys are going to do. Which in essence just simply makes God the Great Responder, not the Free Sovereign God of Scripture. We don’t even need to get into the arguments ” well that just means loved less and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Don’t even need to get into that, the point of the whole statement is God was free to treat Jacob with grace and Esau with justice. That’s the point. Okay?
   Now, verse 14- “What then shall we say?” I love this. The apostle knows what the objections are going to be and I can’t tell you how many times I have been dialoging with people, trying to explain to them the sovereign freedom of God and what happens? They raise the exact same objections that the apostle himself raised. And if you are raising the same objections that the apostle raised to himself and then answered, guess what? That means you are on the wrong side of this thing. Ok, unless you reject the bible okay that’s fine. But if you don’t reject the bible and you say what I believe is in harmony with the bible, my suggestion would be if your objection is the same as the apostle’s you might want to get on the other side of the conversation. Okay, so, “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there?” Now see it is right here that people go “wait a minute, if God can freely choose who He is going to save and who He is going to be gracious to, then that’s not fair! There is injustice with God!” And so how does Paul respond to this? “May it never be!” Nobody gets injustice. Did Esau get injustice? No, he got justice. What did Jacob get? He got grace; he got mercy. That is outside the categories of justice. Nobody gets injustice. No one will ever get injustice. There is no injustice with God.
   And how does he demonstrate this? “For He says to Moses,” now get a deep seat in the saddle because this is going to blow you away a little bit if you’ve not spent some time with this. “For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy'” now literally, and I love to point this out to folks, I have seen lights go on when people see this; because in English we don’t have a verb for mercying or compassioning. I just made those up but they are not proper terms. But it is literally, “For He says to Moses, ‘I will mercy whom I will mercy and I will compassion whom I will compassion.'” These are things that God does. It is not just “I will have an attitude of mercy toward” that’s just unfortunately how we have to bring it into English because we don’t literally have a verb called mercying. But we need to have one because there is one in Greek. And so this is something that God is doing. God will mercy whom He mercies and He will compassion whom He compassions. Because if it is going to be God’s mercy and it’s going to be God’s compassion it cannot be demanded. If you can force God to do it then it is not true mercy and it is not true compassion. And so he takes us back to Exodus 33 and that tremendous section where God in His freedom reveals Himself to Moses in a way He has not revealed Himself to anyone. He did not have to do that. This is an action of His grace, His mercy. He reveals Himself to Moses and in that context says “I will mercy whom I mercy. I will compassion whom I compassion.” And that means it is of God. It is God’s freedom that is in view here and if we don’t see that, we’re going to miss the whole thing.
   What is the apostolic interpretation of this text? So then- “So then, it is not of the one willing, neither of the one running but of the mercying God.” That is a literal rendering. Not good English but I am trying to point out the parallels that exist here. “Therefore it is not on the one willing”, and it amazes me when I see people, I think it was Norman Geisler in Chosen But Free, he can look at this and say “Here we have the free will of man.” I just go, “What? No! Here we have the free will of God! Not the free will of man!” It is not of the one willing. There is an ‘ou’ there. In fact, if I recall correctly this is the verse where he said there was a Greek term that is not even in this particular text. This is the verse where he said “Well the Greek term here is ek”. There is no ek there. It is not of the one willing. Nor of the one running or striving. What do those two terms mean? It refers to human actions. It is not based upon what man does. Now, by the way, I should have stopped between each one of these verses. How do you insert nations into any of this? It is not of the nation who wills? Or the nation who runs? These are singulars. These are things men do. It is not of the one willing. Nor of the one struggling or striving but in contrast the mercying God. The Mercying God. That, if you are not comfortable in having the final decision in salvation lying firmly in the lap of the Mercying God, I really question whether you understand the gospel. Why on earth would you want the final decision in the hands of the enemies of God rather than the Mercying God? That’s what I want to know. And is that what it’s talking about? Well, lets look at verse 17.

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