The Assurance of Trouble

November 3, 2017 at 8:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:35

Paul, although writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could speak from experience. He had experienced all these things: persecution, hunger, extreme poverty, life-threatening danger. Yet he remained convinced of the assurance of Christ’s love, not just IN SPITE of these things, but partly BECAUSE of these things.

In fact, the perseverance of his faith and the knowledge of Christ’s presence through trials, tribulations, hardship, and imminent death, utterly convinced him that nothing whatsoever in all of existence could ever separate him from the love of God in Christ.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Sadly, we are often backward in our thinking, looking at trials and temptations and difficulties as signs that God has forgotten or neglected us. What we should do, when God graciously gives us opportunities to strengthen our faith by turning to Him in times of trouble, is to rejoice that He loves us enough to give us such experiential assurances.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James 1:2-4

Tribulations come to us to strengthen our hope or assurance. They are not random occurrences that have somehow broken out of God’s corral, set loose to stampede and trample our lives. They are controlled tests and gifts of grace, teaching us to patiently consider our Savior and the justification He has won for us, not so that we could be left to our own devices, but so that we could be continually drawing closer to Him.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Romans 5:1-4

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Spiritually Disabled

August 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Traditionally it has come to be known as the doctrine of “total depravity.” Stated simply, it is the idea that, because of the sinful condition into which all human beings are born, our moral default mode is that we are depraved, and lack the ability to love, trust, and worship God of our own volition. However, some theologians, fearing that the words “total” and “depravity” will be interpreted to mean that every human being, unless He is supernaturally changed by God, always does the absolute worst thing he can do in every conceivable situation, would prefer to use different terminology. Because it can often be demonstrated that even the worst sinners could sin more frequently, and in worse ways, than they are presently sinning or have sinned in the past, the term “radical depravity” is offered as a substitute for “total depravity.”

However, this might also require some explaining. We tend to think of the word “radical” as an adjective which refers to something “extreme.” A kid who backflips off his speeding skateboard into the back of moving truck has done something “radical.”

radical skateboard

A political group that wants the government pay for birth control may be called “liberal,” but a group that wants the government to pay for genital mutilation surgery is “radically” liberal. This is not the sense that theologians want to convey when speaking of “radical depravity.” What they are getting at is the sense of the Latin word for “root:” radix. A person who is “radically” depraved is a person who is depraved down to the “root:” the most basic foundational level of his ontology. There is within him, preventing him from making God-honoring moral choices, a core of depravity which skews or perverts his thinking, his emotions, and his very will, toward evil rather than good.

One of the most marvelous things about God’s redeeming grace is that when He enables a person to trust Jesus Christ unto salvation, the Holy Spirit regenerates that person – completely changing his ontology, and giving him a new ability that he did not before possess: the ability to truly love and serve God.

The label “disabled,” when applied to someone who has a physical or mental infirmity, has become controversial and has the potential to offend, so I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s physical condition, but the fact is, apart from the miraculous work of God, our “natural” minds and natures are truly disabled by the consequences of sin.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Romans 8:7

We get frustrated at people who disobey the law of God, including (far more frequently than we like to admit) ourselves. But we have to remember, people operating in their “carnality” – in their “flesh” – do not obey God because they CAN NOT obey God. They are totally disabled. Some physical and mental disabilities can be treated and even cured. However, our spiritual disability can ONLY be overcome by the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

The Powers that Be

May 9, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | 1 Comment
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“The powers that be” is a common expression used to encompass worldly authority in general, or sometimes to refer to the state of things against which the “common person” has no recourse.

“I wish my taxes weren’t so high, but the powers that be have decided to make sure I never get ahead.”
“I don’t like to sit in a circle in Sunday School, but the powers that be have decreed that it’s the best way to generate class discussion.”

It is an expression that is often accompanied by eye-rolling, exasperated sighs, or exaggerated and resigned shrugs of frustration. However, its origin is straight from the Bible:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Romans 13:1

In a time when wicked Roman emperors allowed, encouraged, and even commanded the persecution, torture, and death of Christians, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul told the believers in Rome something that we might think very odd: Recognize that earthly governments and authority structures are ordained by God Himself, and willingly submit yourselves to them.

Since this world is, by nature, opposed to Christ and His truth, what hope is there for us who are commanded to live out our faith under this corrupt system? The answer is that part of our hope lies in the knowledge that these earthly powers, although they are called powers that “be,” are not really “beings.” Only our immutable God is truly a “Being,” since He is the only entity in all of existence Who is truly self-sufficient, eternal, infinite, and independent. Even you and I, His highest creations, are not being accurate when we call ourselves human “beings,” for we have no existence apart from God’s sustaining power. Only in Him do we live and move and have our “being.” We are far from immutable, changing by degrees from one moment to the next all our lives. “Human becomings” would be a more apt term for our race. If our state of existence is in such flux, even more flimsy and subject to rebellion, public opinion, and changing of the guard are the political parties and philosophies of the world.

This helps us to remember that God is sovereignly in control of all earthly authority. He has ordained even wicked governments and evil rulers for some good purpose we do not yet understand, and the knowledge that He is ultimately in control will help us to humbly submit even to those who have no desire to glorify Him or to treat His people with respect.

Servant Movers (Commitment)

November 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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When we talk about someone in a position of leadership in Christian ministry, I prefer the term “servant leader.” This is far from original, but I believe it is apt, because the New Testament paradigm for leading is to lead while, through, and by serving others. The Lord Jesus led by serving, and He was the greatest Servant Leader of all time.

Although we put an emphasis on serving, we must not deny the “leading,” either, and “leading” means “moving.”

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Romans 5:3-4

Biblical patience is more than just a willingness to wait. It contains the concept of “perseverance,” and perseverance is evidenced by commitment. When we persevere in our commitments, we gain the right kind of “experience” and we develop the right kind of character. Our character then governs our conduct.

“Leading” implies that people are following, and leading and following imply that we are going somewhere – or at least that we are moving. “Church” is not just a place to come sit. It should be a place to come serve. After salvation, regular attendance at church is very important, but it should not be the end of your journey. Instead, it should be the place where we meet to restock, to refresh, to prepare, and to train for our journey. A local assembly of believers (a “church“) must be moving. If people in our churches are not going or growing, we who claim to be servant leaders must bear a great deal of the responsibility for failing to lead.

Qualifications of New Testament servant leaders include commitment, character, and conduct. We think of someone who is easily able to influence others or who tends to attract loyal followers as someone who has “charisma,” and this word is actually the Greek word translated as “gifts” in several New Testament Bible verses. I would argue that while the “gifts” of ministry given by God to leaders are certainly important, commitment is just as (and possibly even more) important than the gifts themselves. Gifts by their very definition are things “given.” In other words, they are not earned.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

Jeremiah 9:23

Too much focusing on our “gifts” over and above our commitment can lead to boasting in our own “giftedness.” If we are not to boast on our gifts, then on what are we to boast?

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:24

What do we have that is any good at all that didn’t come from God? Gifts will attract followers to the gift-receiver, but Godliness will attract followers to the Gift-Giver. Therefore, being Godly is more important than being gifted. Godliness comes from being committed. Servant leaders are servants who are moving. People can’t follow someone who is going nowhere, doing nothing. That’s not leading.

Next time, I will say more about character and conduct.

Rowing through Romans

January 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Romans | Leave a comment
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The Book of Romans ends up with one of the Apostle Paul’s favorite preaching techniques. I like to use the acrostic O.A.R.S. to identify it.

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets [O.pening], according [A.lleging] to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations [R.easoning] for the obedience of faith:

Romans 16:26 (bracketed terms added)

The Apostle Paul had “opened” the Scriptures of the Old Testament and “alleged” that the New Testament revelations of Jesus Christ are a fulfillment of those Scriptures. He had “reasoned” with his readers, as the Holy Ghost inspired him to answer questions concerning both the Jews and the gentiles about God’s fairness and righteousness.

And the purpose of this O.pening, A.lleging, and R.easoning, was the S.haring of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Romans 16:25 (emphasis added)

Here is a review of the previous lessons on Romans:

1. God’s Reason for His Delivery
2. Overcoming Shame
3. From Thanksgiving To Thanksliving
4. Making the Argument of Grace through Faith
5. Six Thoughts which Remind Us that We Cannot Achieve Righteousness on Our Own
6. Dr. Law and Dr. Grace(*)
7. The Paycheck You Don’t Want To Receive
8. The True Jewish Justification
9. It’s Just Faith
10. Catechism Question 5
11. Catechism Question 9
12. Rehearsing Repetitive Romans Reigns Really Recognizes Right Reckoning
13. Servant Movers (Commitment)
14. Free FROM Sin, Not Free TO Sin
15. The Reckoning
16. Failure to Yield
17. Marriage and War
18. God’s Will and Our Will
19. Destined for Victory
20. Spiritually Disabled (Romans 8)
21. The Assurance of Trouble (Romans 8, 5)
22. Fitted by God
23. Ignoring the Obvious
24. Catechism Question 21
25. Bold Mouths, Beautiful Feet, and Blindfolded Eyes
26. The Work that Won’t Work
27. The Castaways
28. Catechism Question 3
29. Therefore and Wherefore
30. Sacrificially Submitting Surrendered Sanctified Service
31. The Anatomically Correct Church
32. Saved, Sure and Serving? Or Suspicious, Sedentary, and Slothful?
33. Heaping Helpings of Holy Hatred? Or Refusing Revenge for the Right Reasons?
34. The Powers that Be (Romans 13:1)
35. Love Demonstrated by Obedience
36. Light Wakes You Up
37. Doubtful Disputations Deter Doxological Demonstrations Displaying Desired Decorum
38. I Can Tell the Future
39. Real Joy Vs. Fake Joy
40. Preferential Treatment
41. The Certain Hope
42. Going Belly-Up

* most-read post in series

Going Belly-Up

December 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Romans | 2 Comments
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In his letter to the Romans the Holy Spirit had the Apostle Paul save his greetings for his friends and his notes of thanks for the end of the letter.

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved.

Romans 16:7-9

Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

Romans 16:13

Note how the Apostle Paul not only knew his fellow-laborers by name, but he also knew their various accomplishments and things about them personally. It probably makes you feel important when your fellow-ministers at church remember your name, but it’s even better to be remembered for how you’re serving.

I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

Imagine the excitement of Tertius! There he was, taking dictation from the Apostle Paul who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and all of a sudden he gets the chance to put his own little salutation in there! These words became part of the Living Word – to last and be known for all eternity! You and I will never be inspired to add to the Bible, but let me encourage you to listen closely in church. The Lord was speaking to the Apostle Paul, and Tertius was listening and diligently taking it all down, and suddenly the Holy Ghost was speaking directly to him.

These servants of God listed at the end of Chapter 16 have their names preserved for all time in God’s Word, along with the honor of having their character and integrity mentioned. By the same token there are others who were not worthy to have their names preserved in the Scriptures. Although they were also known for their character, they were known for having a bad character.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

Romans 16:17-18 (emphasis added)

Some Bible versions say “watch out” instead of “mark,” but the idea of “watching out” is too general because we are talking about people who have shown their character. Once they have established what they are about, we are to place a mental label, or “mark,” on them. They cause divisions and offenses contrary to the Apostolic doctrine, but the Verse does not say to confront them every chance you get. It does not say to go around telling everyone every bad thing you can about them. It does not say to formulate a plot and plan to get rid of them. No, it says to avoid them. They are such that serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own “belly.” “Belly” is sometimes translated as “appetite,” but the fact is, we can’t always see someone’s “appetite.” Everyone can see a big ol’ belly sticking out. “Appetite” is too neutral. You could have an appetite for good things. But those who “serve their own belly” are guilty of more than just mistaken desire. They have a greedy desire to cause trouble: divisions and offenses. The bigger their bellies get, the greater their hunger is. They see a local church assembly as an all-you-can-eat buffet. They will fill up their bellies with strife, contention, and trouble until someone stops putting more food in front of them.

That’s one reason why it is so important to get acquainted intimately with the people you are ministering alongside at church.

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

I Thessalonians 5:12

One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.

Titus 1:12 (emphasis added)

We have to be on the lookout for those who want to push a false doctrine through division and strife. The Bible says they will use good words and fair speeches to deceive the hearts of those who don’t know better, but by their bellies you will know them.

Saved, Sure, and Serving? Or Suspicious, Sedentary, and Slothful?

December 5, 2011 at 10:52 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Romans, Uncategorized | 15 Comments
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Wife: What are you doing today?
Husband: Nothing.
Wife: That’s what you did yesterday.
Husband: I didn’t finish.

Regardless of whether this type of exchange makes you chuckle, or hits a little too close to home to be funny, one thing is sure: As Christians, we need to stay busy.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

“Slothful” is a word that describes exceedingly slow movement due to laziness. There is even an animal named the sloth, which is known for its slowness of movement.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/slothsleepinginatree.jpg?w=300

A sloth may spend a whole day hanging from a tree branch in the Brazilian rain forest, and only move a few millimeters.

If you are a Christian, one of the main reasons that God did not bring you to Heaven the moment you were saved is because He had some good works, some great opportunities, and some specific tasks which He wanted you to accomplish both for the good of others and yourself, and for His glory. Christians, in other words, must be about our Lord’s “business,” and we must not be slothful in doing it. Our attitude ought to be one of fervency in spirit: an impassioned enthusiasm that gives us joy in serving the Lord.

Preferential Treatment

December 2, 2011 at 10:27 am | Posted in Romans | 1 Comment
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Romans Chapter 15 deals mainly with how effective our ministry can be when strong Christians work together with weak Christians, and when long-time believers work hand-in-hand with new believers.

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

Romans 15:1-2

We ought to bear the weaknesses of other believers, but even more than simply “putting up” with them, we ought to bless them. Like my old Sunday School teacher used to say: “Be a blessing, not a burden.” It’s not enough to just not be a burden. We should actively seek to be a blessing. The prime of example of this is Jesus. He not only put up with those to whom He ministered – He actually put their lives ahead of His.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Romans 15:4

The Word of God can work in us to focus us on how we should love each other. Even the Old Testament was written for our learning. We bring glory to the Name of God by getting along with each other. We bring shame on the Name of God by fussing and fighting with each other.

And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

Genesis 13:8

When a dispute arose between the herdmen of Abram and Lot, Abram set a good example by trying to make peace. He emphasized that he and Lot were brothers – and that the neighbors were watching! If you are a Christian, the lost people around you are watching to see how you get along with other Christians. I hope that we “prefer one another.”

This pattern of receiving the weak, of ministering to the weak, of the weak and strong rejoicing together, of having unity, of bringing glory to God, and of magnifying the Name of Christ is shown in the early history of the Church.

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:8-13

Jesus and the Apostles of the early Church ministered to the Jews. Then the Gospel went to the Samaritans. And finally the Gentiles. Jews and Gentiles worshiped together and served together.

Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:15-16 (emphasis added)

As ministers of the Gospel – as soul-winners – we have a responsibility similar to the Old Testament ministers or priests. We have to bring our best, and to sacrifice our best. The Apostle Paul took this very seriously. He had been wanting to come to Rome, but he had been busy doing the work of the ministry.

Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

Romans 15:19

From Jerusalem “round about unto Illyricum” was about 1400 miles.

Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

Romans 15:20.

Paul went to places where no one else had preached the truth. This refutes the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church which says that Peter founded the church at Rome. It is highly unlikely that Paul would have gone there if Peter had already been.

Heaping Helpings of Holy Hatred? Or Refusing Revenge for the Right Reasons?

November 16, 2011 at 10:47 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Romans | 3 Comments
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If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:18

It doesn’t always lie within us to be able to live peaceably with everyone around us. But it does always “lie with” God. There are some people who won’t let you live peaceably with them. The question is, when they fight against us, do we trust God enough not to fight back?

Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:20-21

What do these “coals of fire” represent? Is the Holy Spirit encouraging us to pray for revenge? There are some Old Testament instances of such prayers. Samson’s prayer is one example:

And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Judges 16:28

Sometimes we are tempted to substitute the expression “coals of fire” with the sentiment “fight fire with fire.” The emphasis in Romans 12:20-21 is not on refusing to fight evil with evil – that should be a given. God’s children should not hate other people. Instead, the emphasis is on not being overcome with evil. The admonition is against letting the evil – the hatred – get inside us.

Fitted by God

October 28, 2011 at 10:28 am | Posted in Romans | 3 Comments
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Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Romans 9:4

The Holy Spirit here is answering the argument of those who say that it would mean that God is unfaithful to His promise of salvation to the Jewish people if He has given grace freely to all people. In other words, if Gentiles can be saved the same way Jewish people can be saved, what’s so special about being an Israelite?

The Holy Spirit’s response to this challenge is:

1. The Jewish people were adopted as “His people.”

2. He gave them the Old Testament covenants.

3. He gave them the privilege of having His glory dwell among them in the Old Testament.

4. He gave them the Law.

5. He saved them from among the nations, and delivered them from bondage in Egypt.

6. He made them special promises.

7. He caused Christ to come through their “family line.”

8. He gave them all the signs that pointed to Jesus being the Christ: the Messiah.

Even though they rejected Him, and crucified Him, God will remain faithful to His promises to Israel.

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Romans 9:13-14

In the history of the Church and in Christian theology this has been a controversial passage of Scripture. People don’t like to think that God could “hate” anyone. Some theologians feel that this refers to “national election.” In other words, God “chose” the nation of Israel (Jacob’s descendants) over the nation of Edom (Esau’s descendants). Others feel that God “hated” Esau only in relation to Jacob. In other words, they say that God didn’t really “hate” Esau – He just really loved Jacob a lot, and therefore His great love for Jacob made His feelings for Esau seem like hatred in comparison. I have to say that I find very little warrant in Scripture for this second interpretation. It seems to come from the dogmatic assertion (and Christian cliche’) that God hates sin but loves sinners. This assertion, we might say, has “some truth” in it, but on its face it is contradicted by Scripture (Psalm 11:5; Psalm 7:11). Part of the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of hatred. Most people who are aware that God is love (I John 4:8) and know that God is immutable can not reconcile in their minds how God can be loving and hateful at the same time. What they fail to perceive is that love and hatred are not mutually contradictory, nor are they even opposites. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. God is certainly not indifferent! It might surprise many modern evangelicals to learn that the Greek word translated as “hated” in Romans 9:13 means – quite directly – “hated.”

Now, let’s think about Esau for a second. He’s the one who made the decision to sell his birthright – his heritage as a primary heir of God’s covenant promise to the children of Abraham and Isaac. And even though Esau made this “decision” he was at the same time under the decree of God Who had predetermined that Jacob, and not Esau, would be the heir of the promise. The Holy Spirit brings up the example of Pharaoh to support the way God works out His sovereignty and providence in the affairs of men. Pharaoh hardened his own heart – in a sense – but the serious student of Scripture can not deny that God also hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Romans 9:17-18 (emphasis added)

Pharaoh made the decision to reject God and His mercy, but God was plainly ruling over this “decision.”

The Holy Spirit anticipates sinful man’s reaction to this revelation of God:

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Romans 9:19

How can God find fault in us for the way we are, when He made us that way?

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Romans 9:20-21

Does the clay argue or talk back to the potter? “You should have made me a dinner plate instead of a cup! I didn’t want to be a cup!” The potter had every right to make the clay into a cup instead of a plate. He could have made the clay into a toilet bowl if he wanted!

For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

II Corinthians 5:12

God does not show favor based on His surprise at finding us “worthy” in our outward deeds or appearance. God is omniscient. He can’t be surprised. And He can’t “learn” anything. He makes some vessels unto honor, and some to dishonor. No vessel decides for itself with what it’s going to be filled. As living, breathing vessels, with souls and consciences and consciousness, God made us so that we can think and make decisions. Some vessels are “fitted” to destruction the same way that some spoiled and angry and rambunctious children are said to be “fit to be tied.” Whose fault is it that they need to be tied?

The Gentile vessels, compared to the Jewish vessels, did not have all the advantages outlined above. But God, in order to show His goodness and His longsuffering to the vessels who insisted on being filled with wrath, decided that those who are His vessels will be filled with mercy, instead of wrath.

I will not pretend that these truths are easy to explain. They get us into the sticky doctrines of election and predestination, which, by the way, are Bible terms. For a Christian teacher to say “I don’t believe in predestination” is to seriously call into question his view of Scripture and, therefore, his qualification for teaching. Some people believe God made us like wind-up toys, and that we are mindless puppets. That is not the teaching of Scripture. Others believe that God could not have chosen according to the good pleasure of His Own will to save some people from the penalty for their sin, and not others, because that would violate our “free will.” As finite creatures, we are not going to be able to grasp all the eternal decrees or wisdom of God. God is eternal and infinite, and His ways far above our ways. Here are some things we know for sure:

1. God is righteous, not unrighteous.
2. God is just, not unjust.
3. God is good, not evil.
4. God keeps His promises.
5. God tells the Truth in His Word.

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