A. Introduction

1. The doctrine of election wasn't invented by Augustine, or John Calvin, or Jonathan Edwards. It is presented explicitly throughout Scripture but, "like every truth about God, the doctrine of election involves mystery, and it sometimes stirs controversy." That may be the understatement of this sermon series! Most believers do not disagree over the fact of election, but there is a great variety of teaching about the implications of election. How does (did) God choose His elect? When does (did) He decide? What is the role of the free will of men and women in this election? Do we have to say "Yes" to God? Do we have to do anything? Can we say, "No"? Can we change our minds at some later date?

2. Having begun a discussion of election in chapter eight, Paul in Romans 9 continues with an exhaustive study of it, offering the history of Israel as proof.

a. God chose A __ __ __ __ out of all the people on earth.

b. God chose I __ __ __ __ over I __ __ __ __ __ __.

c. God chose J __ __ __ __ over E __ __ __.

d. In fact, Paul would say, "The Called" -- the people He reconciles to Himself -- is not a group

made up of every physical descendant of Isaac, but a r __ __ __ __ __ __ of people within that vast group.

(1) "The right to be children of God and heirs of his promises does not depend upon the mere accident of birth but upon the action and divine will in accordance with the divine word. The promise is the important matter, not mere physical birth. [This] also illustrates the fact that while the promises were made to Israel, God does not disregard his promises when he determines to accept some and to reject others from among those who are Israelites merely by natural descent.

Therefore, the promises of God to the nation of Israel are not being broken even though Israelites are being rejected for their unbelief and Gentiles are being saved through their faith in the Savior whom God has sent. Some Israelites are being saved. Israel's rejection is not complete; but they are not all Israel, that are of Israel. (Romans 9:6)

(2) John 3:16-18 [ NKJV ]

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

3. All Christians, whatever their "spin" on the details of it, rejoice in their election by God. It is the "shadow" side of election that really sticks in our craw. The logic goes like this: "If God has, in fact, chosen some, then He has also, by not choosing others, rejected them, knowing full well that the consequence of His rejection is eternity in the torments of hell. How unfair! The God I worship would never do such a thing!"

a. The last part of this soliloquy is refuted by the text of Romans 9, which speaks for itself. God did choose Isaac of Ishmael. We can live with this truth because, according to the biblical record, God saw to it that Ishmael and his mother were taken care of, even if they didn't inherit the promise (see Genesis 21:1-21). But God also chose Jacob and quite clearly rejected Esau. Paul's quotation from Malachi 1:2-3 startles our sensitivities and violates our standards of justice and fair play. Why would He do such a thing?

The answer -- the only one available to us in all of Scripture -- is contained in v.11:

...that the p __ __ __ __ __ __ of God in e __ __ __ __ __ __ __ might stand.

(1) The Greek rendered here as "purpose" is prothesis, the same one Paul used in Romans 8:28 concerning ...those who have been called according to [God's] purpose.

(2) The Greek word for "stand" (mene) means "to remain" or "to endure." The reason God chooses Jacob and rejects ("hates") Esau is not because He is arbitrary or unjust, but in order that His eternal p __ __ __ __ __ __ will r __ __ __ __ __ "on course" as time unfolds.

(3) As if this were not enough for us to digest, Paul is quick to remind us in the same verse that God's election of Jacob and rejection of Esau was not based in any way on the merit of the younger twin or the lack of merit in Esau, since the choice was made before they were born. This leads us into even deeper doctrinal waters: the matter of p __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __. The Bible record "vindicates" God in His sovereign choice of Jacob in that Esau "despised" his birthright and was, in fact, a common, profane and thoroughly-dislikable character. This suggests to some that God use His divine foreknowledge to know what kind of cad Esau would turn out to be and, making a small but profound cosmic "adjustment," avoided the problem before it became one, choosing Jacob instead. Could this be the way in which God "elects" all His children? Did He, before the dawn of Creation, look down through the tunnels of time and space and thereby foreknow the ones who would say "Yes" and the ones who would say "No"? This is how many so-called "evangelical" Christians interpret the doctrine of election, and it gives them great comfort.

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