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Free Will, Election and Romans 9

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by SPB1987, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. SPB1987

    SPB1987 Newbie

    For those who believe in free will and the ability of man to choose to accept or reject Christ, how do you interpret Romans 9? More specifically how do you interpret verses 10-23? My questioning on the Presbyterian forum led me to these verse. In light of them, how can one argue that we actually can choose to accept or reject Christ?
  2. drich0150

    drich0150 Regular Member

    It looks to me as if God purposed Israel to take one for the rest of us. For everything in that chapter concerning 'free choice' or the lack their of is contextually speaking to the reason the 'remnant' of Israel does not except Christ. (Remember Christ believing Jews during that time were simply known as 'Christians' and they dropped the Jewish title. The only ones who retained the title were those who turned their back on Christ.

    Now take the remnant, and Couple that with the parable about the generous land owner who rewarded those who worked all day the same as those who worked only the last hour of the day, and to me it seems like God is making provision for those in whom He originally had a covenant with and to those in whom he did not. For we can only assume when 'the last hour is'

    This is truly an opportunity for the first shall become last, and the last shall become first. Meaning the first to be bonded in the covenant with God become the last in whom are saved, and those who were last (the gentiles) become the vanguard in the struggle this life this world has set before us.(Meaning we work our whole lives to serve Christ) If this is the case and the last Hour is not what we assume it to be (before our deaths) then It is no wonder Christ told us of the jealousy of those who worked through the Heat of the day, when they found themselves being paid the same as those who 'worked' only the one hour.
  3. 1watchman

    1watchman Overseer

    One needs to see that election is God's view and not man's. In God's "foreknowledge" He knows the end from the beginning. He knows who will come to Christ and who will turn away. Those who value the "good seed" are foreordained as elect and will be brought nigh. The enclosed paper may help on this:

    "I see conversion to Christianity as the grace of God (unmerited favor) as we are "quickened" (awakened to God and made alive and aware of Him, and stirred to seek to know Him). I see this God-consciousness as something in the soul of every being by the Creator-God, and the reason that Atheists become so upset with Christianity ---being troubled in conscience. Some do not regard this quickening Spirit and shrug it off, but when we respond and see the truth of salvation in God’s beloved Son ---the Lord Jesus Christ, and call upon Him in real faith, the Father responds with the indwelling and sealing of His Holy Spirit --new birth. How precious that is! Certainly our enemy, Satan, will always seek to turn us away from the Lord and learning His Word, so it is good to be diligent to learn more in the Bible. ---RLD” –from biblecounsel.homestead.com
  4. Lukaris

    Lukaris Orthodox Christian

    Eastern Orthodox
    Not everyone will hear the Gospel so those who do not will be judged according to the balance of good & evil in their hearts & in their works (see Romans 2, esp. vs. 11-16). Those who have heard the Gospel & live by faith in Jesus Christ striving to do good will be saved while those who reject salvation by still doing evil will be damned This is the sumation of Romans 9:14-18. St. Paul outlined the need for salvation & how to be saved from Romans 3-8 & then in Romans 10 renews his call for us to know Jesus Christ & have faith in His resurrection for our sins (see Romans 10:4-13). See also John 5:22-29.
  5. bling

    bling Regular Member Supporter

    I think individual Jewish Christians and individual Gentile Christians are being addressed in Romans 9, but as different groups. The individual would be asking Paul this about the other individuals.

    Paul uses two teaching methods that are taught in secular philosophy classes and are used even in secular classes as the best example of these methods. Paul does an excellent job of building one premise on the previous premises to develop his final conclusions. Paul uses an ancient form of rhetoric known as diatribe (imaginary debate) asking questions and giving a strong “By no means” and then goes on to explain “why not”. These “questions or comments” are given by an “imaginary” student making it more a dialog with the readers (students) and not just a “sermon”.

    The main question in Romans 9 Paul addresses is God being fair or just Rms. 9: 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!

    This will take some explaining, since just prior in Romans 9, Paul went over some history of God’s dealings with the Israelites that sounds very “unjust” like “loving Jacob and hating Esau” before they were born.

    Who in Rome would be having a “problem” with God choosing to work with Isaac and Jacob instead of Ishmael and Esau?

    Would the Jewish Christian have a problem with this or would it be the Gentile Christians?

    If God treaded you as privileged and special would you have a problem or would you have a problem if you were treated seemingly as common and others were treated with honor for no apparent reason?

    That is what is at issue and Paul will explain over the rest of Romans 9-11.

    Paul is specific with the issue Rms. 9: 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?”

    Who is the “one of you” is this Jewish Christian (elect) or Gentile Christian (elect) or is this “non-elect” individual with this “letter” is being written to non-Christians?

    Can Jews say they cannot be blamed for failing in their honored position or would it be the Gentiles that would say they cannot be blamed since they were not in the honored position?

    Is it really significant in what really counts, if you are born a gentile or Jew in the first century in Rome?

    Are there issues and problems with being a first century Jew and was this a problem for Paul?

    The Jews were created in a special honorable position that would bring forth the Messiah and everyone else was common in comparison.

    How do we know Paul is specifically addressing the Jew/Gentile issue? Rms. 9: 30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.

    Paul is showing from the position of being made “common” vessels by God the Gentiles had an advantage over the born Israelites (vessels of honor) that had the Law, since the Law became a stumbling stone to them. They both needed faith to rely on God’s Love to forgive them.

    Without going into the details of Romans 9-11 we conclude with this diatribe question: Romans 11: 11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

    The common vessels (gentiles) and the vessels of honor (Jews) are equal individually in what is really significant when it comes to salvation, so God is not being unjust or unfair with either group.

    If there is still a question about who is being addressed in this section of Rms. 9-11, Paul tells us: Rms. 11: 13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.

    Rm 9: 22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?

    This verse is not saying all the “vessels” created for a “common purpose” was created for destruction (they were not made from the start “clay pigeons”). Those vessels for destruction can come from either the common group or the honor group, but God is being patient with them that will eventually be destroyed. The vessels God does develop great wrath against, will be readied for destruction.

    To understand this is Common vessels and special vessels look at the same idea using the same words of Paul in 2 Tim 2: 20.

    This is just an introduction to a complex subject, but context is key.
  6. Hilarious. When a Bible quote doesn't add up to mainstream Christian beliefs..."Oh he was just referring to this ancient culture!"

    But in every other case the lessons are supposed to be a general declaration for humanity (homosexuality comes to mind). Oh, Christians, so silly.
  7. AvgJoe

    AvgJoe Member since 2005 Supporter

    United States
    For the last 2,000 years, God has been using believers in Christ to do what He originally chose Israel to do. In the first century, this willingness of God to use Gentile believers raised many questions. Had God broken His promise to use Israel as His chosen servant? How could He set aside the nation He had set apart for Himself?

    In response to these questions, the apostle Paul wrote Romans 9-11 to the Jewish countrymen, undoubtedly believers in Jesus, who were having a hard time with the idea that God had set Israel aside. After expressing his deep love for his Jewish brothers, Paul developed the theme of 9:6, "It is not as though God's Word had failed." He wanted his readers to knowthat God still had a future plan for the people through whom He had chosen to bless the whole world.

    Understanding Paul's purpose will help us to see that Romans 9-11 is not a treatise on predestination or individual election as some have supposed. It is not saying that some people have not and never will have an opportunity to be saved. Rather, it is saying that God has the power and perogative to choose the servants He will use to point the world to a salvation that comes not from works but from grace alone.

    God's Undeniable Rights (Romans 9:6-29)
    God has the right to choose the line of promise (vv 6-13). In choosing Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be the line of promise, God was neither being unfair to nor rejecting those who were not chosen. He was simply exercising His right to choose those through whom He would bless all mankind.

    God has the right to choose His candidates for mercy (vv 14-18). In choosing Israel as a people on whom He would show compassion, and in choosing the Pharaoh of the Exodus as an object lesson of His wrath, God was being neither arbitrary nor unfair. God brought, to the throne of Egypt, a man who was proud, obstinate, and defiant, gave him ample opportunity to repent and then hardened his heart only after he had chosen his own way.

    As Romans 1:18-32 dramatically demonstrates, this hardening or spiritual blindness occurs in those who instinctively know God, who refuse to worship Him as God, then push Him out of their minds and make themselves or other created things into gods. When God's patience runs out, He confirms them in the path they have chosen.

    It is in this context that Paul wrote:
    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 8:14-16).
    God has the right to choose His method of dealing with rebellious subjects (vv 19-29). In being merciful and patient with some while exercising His wrath on others, God is not acting unfairly as charged by a hypothetical opponent (v 19). Paul turned the tables on his critics by transferring to them what he had said about Pharaoh. He pointed out that just as God, for a short time, endured the perversity of Pharaoh and used his obstinacy to bring redemption to Israel, He did for a long time endure Israel's unbelief and is making it a means of blessing to all mankind (vv 25-29). In fact, a special point is made in verse 22 that God was patient in awaiting the repentance of 'the objects of His wrath." Romans 2:4 also indicates that the purpose of God's patience is to await repentance.

    We see in the words of Peter such patience tied to God's desire for all to repent:
    Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His Promise, as some understnad slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:8-9).
    The 'objects of His wrath" became such when God's patience had finally run its course.

    To read more of this study ~~~> » Discovery Series and click 'View PDF'.
  8. Lukaris

    Lukaris Orthodox Christian

    Eastern Orthodox

    It is the sovereignty of God not ours. You can take your chances & try to do what is right according to your conscience or know the Lord Jesus Christ (read Romans 10:9-13, Matthew 7:1-12, & Matthew 22:36-40 etc.) to complete your conscience where it may fall short. Even in your unfortunate ignorance, you can still be forgiven but know the peril (read Mark 3:28-29).
  9. Mediaeval

    Mediaeval baptizatus sum

    Regarding the mystery of God's sovereignty vis-a-vis man's free will, I think of G. K. Chesterton's remark on the paradoxes of Christianity: "We want not an amalgam or compromise, but both things at the top of their energy".
  10. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

    You might find a study of Molinism helpful.

  11. SPB1987

    SPB1987 Newbie

    What is Molinism and do you have any references?
  12. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

    Some have described it as standing between Calvinism and Arminianism. This is probably why both Calvinism and Arminianism accuse Molinism of being their polar opposite doctrinally-speaking. Molinism, in particular, works to find a scriptural and reasonable balance between human free will and Divine Sovereignty. In accomplishing this, Molinism employs the concept of God's Middle Knowledge, emphasizing the role of His omniscience in answering questions about human free will. For a very thorough and excellent treatment of Molinism I would recommend you check out Dr. William Lane Craig's website:

    ReasonableFaith.org – Defend Biblical Christianity, Apologetics, Bible Questions

    Simply do a word search for Molinism and you'll find exhaustive explanations of it.

    Personally, I was raised in a Calvinist atmosphere. But, there have always been aspects of Calvinism that I just couldn't reconcile with scripture, and with reality and reason, which, therefore, made me very uncomfortable identifying as a Calvinist. I also thought that in some respects Arminianism went too far and embraced ideas that, again, seemed inconsistent with God's Word. I found myself on doctrinal ground that borrowed from both viewpoints. Eventually, I discovered Molinism. As I read about this perspective on God's Sovereignty I found it echoed almost perfectly what I had come to believe from Scripture, but gave a thorough philosophical and scriptural explanation for it. When it is appropriate, I now confidently identify as a Molinist rather than a Calvinist or Arminianist. Of course, above all, I am a follower of Christ.

  13. trackstacks

    trackstacks Newbie

    Our effort and desire to be saved is useless without God's mercy, who wants everyone to be saved. But His purposes will be accomplished regardless of who comes. We are children of God by choice, tools by default. God still would've sprung the Israelites from Egypt had Pharoh initially softened his heart. But since he didn't, God accomplished what he set out to do anyway.
  14. A_maize

    A_maize Newbie

    In Relationship
    Think of it this way, from Gods point of view he can see the future and thus know what we will choose.

    However, from our point of view, we cannot see the future and therefor do not know if we will accept or reject Christ.

    So we can't just go off and say 'Oh everything has been decided, whats the use', because we don't know WHAT has been decided.