Romans 9 condemns calvinism to rejection by sovereign God
Romans 9 is all about Israel! The context cannot be denied at all. In fact, calvinists clearly acknowledge this by claiming the same election as Israel had in being chosen as God’s special covenanted nation. Romans 9:11-13 clearly states that God’s choice of Israel was entirely His, not being based in any way upon the good and evil as yet uncommitted by Jacob and Esau. Thus the election of God’s nation here is unconditional. Jacob was chosen because God loved Jacob more than Esau. (“hated” in Vs 13 – miseo – is a comparative term meaning to have been loved less than the other one.)
But this is the part which calvinists try to avoid having to notice: that this whole passage is about Israel who, after being chosen by God as His covenanted people, rebelled against God, causing God to reject them (for a season) as His covenanted people. Earlier in Romans Paul has stated clearly that just being physical descendants of Abraham did not make them God’s spiritual children. In fact, Paul declared that just being a physical Jew didn’t qualify them as God’s children; the Jew was a spiritual being. Physical circumcision did not make them God’s people; spiritual circumcision did make them children of God.
Romans 2:28-29 – 28For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.
In Romans 4, Paul enlarges upon this spiritual circumcision by teaching that all who are spiritually circumcised (by faith) are the children of Abraham.
Romans 4:11 – And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which [he had yet] being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
This includes all who believe, Jew or Gentile, for there is no difference (Romans 10:12) as long as they all believe by faith which is then accounted to them for righteousness (Romans 4:5).
This sets the scene for Romans 9. The Jews (Israel) considered themselves to be privileged above all other nations. They despised the Gentiles for not being God’s people. Through Abraham, Israel was God’s covenanted people. God had committed Himself to His people Israel, and therefore they thought they could do whatever they wished, make whatever rules they liked, for they believed that their God would not ever, could never, turn against the covenant He had made with Abraham who they considered as their father. And yet Paul is declaring them rejected by the God they thought could never reject them! Paul is alluding to their lack of spiritual circumcision when he says For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel: (Romans 9:6) & especially noting They which are the children of the flesh, these [are] not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. (Romans 9:8).
Paul acknowledges that Israel was indeed the nation chosen unconditionally by God (Romans 9:11-13) but then continues on to condemn Israel for daring to presume upon God’s covenant to demand that He carry out His side of the covenant He made with Abraham. They thought that because they were of Abraham, they could never be rejected by God. They were using the Abrahamic covenant to try to force God to agree to their special conditions they had attached to this covenant, the teaching of man’s commandments as the doctrines of God (Matthew 15:9). In particular, this applied to their religious leaders of that day, the pharisees.
They demanded that their God show them mercy, that He continue to grant them all the privileges of being the children of Abraham. As long as they carried out all the appearances of the law, they demanded that their God acknowledge their duty to Him. They demanded (by their arrogant attitude) that God continue to show them mercy (and thus they would continue to be God’s special elect nation forever as they claimed He had promised to them). That is, they would serve their God if he delivered the goods! They demanded the right to tell God what He could and couldn’t do.
But Paul in his usual style cuts them down to size by stating the plain out-in-the-open truth: that God cannot be forced to show them mercy if they reject His truth. They cannot demand mercy; they have no right to demand mercy! It is God alone who determines to whom He will reveal His mercy, and not even the status of being chosen long ago as God’s people can overrule this! They demanded that God be righteous in showing mercy to His chosen nation of Israel. But Paul says that even if God refuses mercy to Israel, He cannot be accused of unrighteousness. What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (Romans 9:14) It is God alone who determines who He will be merciful to. Israel cannot demand God’s mercy. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Romans 9:15)
Paul then compares Israel with Pharaoh who had decided to greatly oppose God. God then chooses to harden Pharaoh’s heart (literally, in the O.T., to reinforce the position in which Pharaoh had placed himself). From this point onward, Pharaoh was not permitted to change the course of action he had embarked upon. This is the same meaning of the word “hardeneth” in Romans 9:18: skleruno which means to lose its flexibility for change, hence our word “sclerosis”. And if God desires to do this, then who may resist His will here (Romans 9:19). No-one has any right to complain or argue, for the final decision is God’s. Israel has chosen by her free will to rebel, causing God to decide to act in this way. Who may stand before God in judgment and tell Him not to do His will there?
Then Paul (Romans 9:20-23) reminds them of Jeremiah’s message about the Potter and the clay.
Jeremiah 18:6-10 – 6O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay [is] in the potter’s hand, so [are] ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. 7[At what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy [it]; 10If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. 9And [at what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant [it]; 10If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
God is simply doing what he promised Israel that He would do if they dared presume upon being the chosen people of God and therefore above His law! He would judge them as unfit for His service and reject them as the Potter rejected the clay in Jeremiah. God would show His mercy to those who cried out to Him for mercy as did the publican – or tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), and withhold His mercy from those (such as the pharisees) who demanded His mercy because of their exalted “chosen people” status. Those of Israel who were like the publican in Luke 18 (vessels of mercy – Romans 9:23) would be shown mercy, while those who demanded mercy as their right (vessels of wrath fitted to destruction – Romans 9:22) would be denied it. As in the final judgment, God’s decision is final and none may oppose it. Those who choose to call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13) and will be shown everlasting mercy, while those who demand to be saved by their position of rank will be denied mercy and judged as fit only for eternal condemnation.
Even then, God would show mercy to those who repented and were purged of their evil. Those vessels of dishonour (Romans 9:21) could become vessels of honour if only they could be purged of their iniquity (2 Timothy 2:20-21). Why do calvinists ignore God’s word here?
And the calvinists love to claim this passage as one of their definitive proofs of their unconditional election??!! What foolishness is this? If this is a picture of their election, then their God will reject them as the God of the Bible rejected most of Israel. How can the calvinists explain this, except to deny that what happened to Israel could ever happen to them. Yet, the moment they take on the election of Israel as a nation as a picture of their own election, then they must accept that their rebelliousness could likewise condemn them to being declared vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.
The calvinism of today is aggressive, arrogant, forceful, in-your-face (like the attitude of the pharisees), often termed “new calvinism” as opposed to the old calvinism of previous generations. New calvinism (which includes names such as Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, Mohler) is a seemingly more evangelical version of the not very evangelical old calvinism of such as Presbyterians. The heresy of new calvinism appeals to the more evangelical denominations such as Baptists.
New calvinism is actually a hybrid doctrine combining both calvinism and elements of seventh day adventism (SDAs). (See the Seventh Day Adventist connection to New Calvinism.) New calvinism is sometimes known by an earlier name of Sonship Theology which claims that there is no sin that one of God’s elect can commit that can ever prevent that person from going to heaven. No matter what sin you commit, if you are one of the calvinist God’s elect, then he will grant you grace for repentance and restoration, thus demonstrating your status as one of his children. The lack of restoration to the church is what defines the non-elect, for the calvinist God’s elect will always be restored to fellowship no matter how serious the sin. God’s sons (children) can never lose their salvation no matter the sin; thus “Sonship” Theology. It has emerged in some areas as sinless perfectionism, a license to sin and still go to heaven, an incapability to ever be anything but holy even in sin.
New calvinists, like Israel of Paul’s day, arrogantly demand of their God that he stick to his side of the agreement: his “promise” or “covenant” that all his elect will go to heaven; they cannot miss out on heaven, ever. Thus, if new calvinists are genuinely the elect of God, they can literally make the rules of man conform to the doctrines of God (as per the pharisees of Matthew 15:9). Those who cannot repent and be restored after sin are not God’s elect for the calvinist God only restores his own. The restoration to fellowship is your ticket to new calvinist heaven!
Romans 9, in condemning God’s elect nation of Israel to the part-blindness of Romans 11, also equally condemns all who would choose the same pathway as rebellious Israel.
Romans 11:7-8 – 7What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
If the calvinist election is proven by Romans 9, then we may rewrite Romans 11:7-9 as 7What then? Calvinism hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
I defy all calvinists who claim Romans 9 as definitive proof of the election of God’s people to demonstrate clearly to me just where the Bible opposes my teachings here. In order to claim Romans 9 as a foundational passage in support of calvinism, they must (from sola scriptura – the Bible alone) demonstrate that it is not discussing the condemnation of Israel as God’s elect, yet rejected, nation of Israel. If you disagree, then where’s your biblical teaching that refutes? Silence will always be taken as an inability to satisfactorily refute my teachings. But, I think I’ll be waiting a long time; I have waited a long time already for such biblical refuting and not seen one clear statement of such yet!
For further reading try this link Romans 9 proves the heresy of calvinism
Of course, calvinists do not like the truth to be revealed about their doctrine of demons – see Calvinisms.
Other calvinist favourite yet misleading passages include John 6:44 and John 3:3.
Calvinism is incompatible with biblical doctrine, and its gospel is incompatible with the biblical gospel.
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