Romans 1:16,17 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power (dunamis) of God unto salvation to everyone that
Romans 2 v.5... of the Righteous Judgement of God. 6. Who will render to every man according to his deeds. 11. For there is no respect of persons with GOD. (ESV: God shows no partiallity)
Comment: Well now, that depends on how you define "respect of persons" (sorry, I only know how to work from the Dictionary of Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible Hendrickson Publishers):
PROSOPOLEPSIA -- Partiality, favoritism, respect of persons.
I may be pushing the edge here, but I think JESUS would say "My Mamma and my Abba taught me better than that."
So HE will render to every man equitably, and according to his deeds, either to condemn, or to pardon, unless there is some other measure. I believe we already saw that measure in 1:16,17.
[What's missing here is Paul's explanation that only those Jews who were God's elect would get an effective call] God forbid! Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar, as it is written: "That you might be justified in your sayings...."
3:9-18 What then, are we [Jews] better than they? No Way! For we have already proved that Jews and Gentiles are both under sin. As it is written, "there is none righteous no not one". There is none who understands, there is none that seeks after God, they have all gone out of the way, they are all together unprofitable there is none that doeth good, no not one...... There is no fear of God before their eyes.
(It goes on. Often used as proof that persons can not, will not come to God.)
Question: Which of the items on the list is required for salvation? All are required if you're about justifying yourself.
How about Understanding? Who understands their salvation, Who even begins to grasp the depth of it at it's genesis? Is a depth of knowledge required?
"None seeks after God". Are we required to seek after God? Jesus said "And I, If I be lifted up, will draw all men unto myself." This is a sufficiently effectual calling of all men, or else the crucifiction was ineffectual as a drawing agent and Jesus' prophecy failed. Nah Nah na Boo Boo! You can't stone Him!
Oh Look! V.20 What was Paul just talking about? Keeping the law! He appears to be arguing that Jews and gentiles alike are sinners. Oh I agree with him there! Yes there is no-one in all the world who keeps the law. So God would have to regenerate them first, if they have to keep the law in order to be saved. If that were true, then I would expect them to keep all of the above perfectly once regenerated:
V 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in HIS sight, for by the law is [only the] knowledge of sin.
V 21,22 But now the Righteousness of God without the law is manifested [to whom?] being witnessed by the law and the prophets [to all who read, or have been witnessed to of them]. (A prevenient call?)
Even the righteousness of GOD which is by Faith unto all and upon all that
So, even though our natural man will not seek God, all natural men who sat in synagog or where-ever the law was read during the kingdom period, got an earful of the GOSPEL. Anyone who heard the story might have said: "Wait a minute, Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. How did he get such a sweet deal?"
v25 Whom God set forth to be a propitiation [NIV says "Sacrifice for our atonement] through faith in the election in HIS blood to declare HIS righteousness...
v26 to declare I say at this time His righteousness that HE might be just [a righteous judge, not playing favorites] and the justifier of him which believeth in JESUS.
v27 Where is boasting then? [Well, let me tell ya, according to Augustinians boasting is in believing, if it by itself, is salvific, then it is what you contribute to salvation, therefore you helped saved yourself. What does Paul say to this line of logic?:] Boasting is excluded. By what law? Of Works? Nay. But by the law of faith.
v28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Romans 4:1-3 So what about Abraham? [did he help save himself through belief?] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before GOD. For what saith scripture? Abraham Believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.
And it continues through Chapter 4. Again and Again and again in Romans, the central issue is BELIEF, not whether one was chosen to believe by God. Why is God hiding the truth? Why does He not tell us believers, "Look you believed because I made you believe." There is no doubt that He draws us and woos us and warns us, but He does not (as a norm) violate the will of someone who does not want to be saved .
So let us not forget the groundwork behind us, because we're strolling up to Romans 9.
Here's something to think about on our walk: God has not chosen many rulers, nor many noble, nor many wise nor many learned (1Cor. 1:26). Since few of us (except for the reformed divines to whom we continually resort for wisdom , and some monastic types) are Einsteins or Stephen Hawkins, it's probably good that HE designed His word to interpret the complex after the simple: First the sincere milk of the word. I think they call that analogia fide or analogy of faith.
I would also throw in some of the narrative approach (thanks Dr Jim Reitman) if I may try my hand, because picking a few verses out of chapter 9, or even a few paragraphs, does not a doctrine make.
Oh! Let's pause at the familiar passage of 8:28-33: and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God; to them that are called according to His purpose.
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son [so] that He might be the firstborn amongst many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also Called, and whom He called He also Justified, and whom He justified, He also Glorified.
So whom did He predestinate? Those whom He foreknew. I know I'll get objections. We'll study those as they come.
v.33 Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's Elect? It is God that justifieth.
Justified whom? Those whom He foreknew. Whom did He elect? Those whom He foreknew.
We have already seen (1:16,17, 3:9-18, etc) that a favorite theme for Paul in Romans, is the treatment of Israel or the Jew compared to the treatment of the Gentile, which we know from 1:16-17 that on an individual level, it is identical. Chapter 9 opens with Paul bearing an oath that he could desire to be accursed himself from Christ on behalf of "my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites...".
As far as I can discern, this topic continues all of the way to the end of Chapter 11. The last specific reference to the Jew on topic is verses 26-31, which begins "So all Israel shall be saved..." and ends "Even so have these [Jews] also now not believed, that through your mercy, they also may obtain mercy."
So Paul seems to be explaining to Roman believers what has befallen the Nation of Israel regarding God's favor (Grace) compared with what has apparently now opened up to the gentiles. Why should this be treated as an inviolable revelation of how Sovereign God has Predestined whom to love and whom to hate? We may not be able to defend scripture through scripture from spectral evidence. Neither could the accused "witches" of Salem. Neither will we ever expect "3 Sovereigns For Sara"* to come from the courts of the reformed.
So Paul has continual sorrow in his heart for his brethren, 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, whose are the fathers, and as of whom concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever, amen.
I'm finding the ESV* *more understandable through the next passage:
v. 6 But it is not as though the word [WORD?] of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel....v. 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
(Flash forward to Romans 9:30-32) What shall we say then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness, did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith. but as it were, based on works.
Once again, what is missing here is a clear declaration that God made (chose) the one to believe, and chose the other to try to establish their own righteousness.
(Back to verse 10) And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by ...our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born, and had done nothing, either good or bad - in order that Gods purpose of election might continue, not because of works, but because of Him who calls - she was told "The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
Now in my continued attempt to prove what is not there: When Jesus declares that "he who does not hate father and mother can not be my disciple", does He mean that we should wish our father and mother were damned? Does He automatically mean that Jacob is elected to redemption and Heaven, and Esau is elected to be eternally condemned? What does He offer for elaberation? "The older will serve the younger"
Oh my! So if God elected B.O. to be president, and J.Mc.. to serve him, then that means J.Mc. is going to hell? Makes sense! .... But not eternal damnation!
v. 14-18 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For [because] He says to Moses "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then, it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up [to be pharaoh?] that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So He has mercy on whomever He wills, and the hardens whomever He wills.
v. 19-21 You will say to me then "Why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will? But who are you O man to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" [No, because a clay vessel is an inanimate, non sentient object.] Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? [Yeah, I work in a filthy manufacturing plant, at a back breaking pace for peanuts, another, makes millions writing comic strips called "Peanuts". If that's what He's talking about honor/dishonor, I'm all for it.]
v. 22-24 What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory -- even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only, but from the Gentiles?
Then v. 25 he quotes Hosea regarding making a people who "were not My people,... My people...".
so is he still talking about judging the nation of Israel and beginning a call for the Church? I thought we were talking about electing individuals to be vessels of honor or dishonor? O.k. let's stay with that. He "has endured with much patience vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction." What if these are ones God knew eternally without possibility of error would not trust Him; after all, how much patience is required to put up with something behaving as you designed it to behave? What does patience here mean? Maybe patience means He's known forever, that this guy Pharaoh would reject Him, and try to run things himself, so God gave him over to his own evil desires to allow him to fill up his cup of wrath and to use him to show His faithfulness to His chosen people. Where have I heard that before?
He adds a quote from Isaiah that only a remnant of Israel out of multitudes, will be saved.
Let's return to Romans 9:30-32: What shall we say then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness, did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith. but as it were, based on works.
And finally v. 33 KJV As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone, and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.
What was Israel seeking? Chapter 10:2,3 to establish their own righteousness.
Again, he continues with the Israel, Gentile tension, but curiously, never confuses, nor blends the two, nor redefines Israel as todays Church.
v. 26 and so All Israel shall be saved. When? v. 25 when "the fulness of the gentiles [has] come in."
The chapters 9-11 language, about blinding, concerns national Israel, who is set aside during the Church age, until the fulness of the gentiles. It also specifically refers to individuals who are self-righteous. God reaches out to them effectually, to the point of not violating an individual's right of refusal ("I will not always strive with men").
I intentionally skipped v. 5, 6 until now to cover the chapter, speaking of the remnant of Israel according the Election of grace: And if it is by grace it is no more by works, otherwise Grace is not grace at all....
So what is grace without works? Chapter 4:1-5 If Abraham had whereof to glory, not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of Grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on HIM that justifies the ungodly, his FAITH is counted for RIGHTEOUSNESS.
HERE THEN Is My DECLARATION (for what it's worth):
Soteriology according to the Apostle Paul in Romans and throughout his writings is a closed loop, a self-contained system, whose lines are clear: RIGHTEOUSNESS connects to FAITH connects to GRACE connects to ELECTION connects to GRACE connects to FAITH connects to RIGHTEOUSNESS imputed from GOD by FAITH IN THE GIFTER.
EPH 2:8,9 For By Grace you have been Saved through Faith. And this is not your own doing; It is the Gift of God, not a result of works, so that no-one may boast [c. f. Romans 4:1-5].
God by Grace (God's unmerited favor) calls all to believe in Him. Those who accept the invitation by Faith are Elected by sovereign GOD, and by Grace (God's unmerited favor) His Righteousness is imputed to them. Fallen humans are incapable of working any work unto salvation (lest any man should boast), but As established in chapter 4:1-5 faith is not a disqualifying work. God's unmerited favor is in giving His righteousness and salvation (and a new identity and the Holy Spirit, hope of Heaven, and, and, and...)
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I would like to continue in this study with Corithians, time permitting.
*"Three Sovereigns for Sarah" a PBS miniseries (1985) about the Salem Massachusettes witchcraft trials. The accusers used "spectral evidence" against Sara and her 2 sisters, both of whom were found guilty and hung. The accusers' "evidence" was that the spirits of the accused came and vexed them, while the accused were physically at their daily tasks. There was no way for the accused to defend themselves against such "evidence" if accepted. Their reference used here, because we are trying to defend Scripture against doctrine that we believe was made up, out of the cloth of Plato, and then the gnostics.
**English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2005