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1. The ninth chapter of Romans represents the most straightforward presentation in all of Bible of the difficult doctrines of:

a. e __ __ __ __ __ __ __;

b. p __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __; and

c. the s __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of God.

2. These doctrines have been debated in the church for centuries, and different understandings of them have led to broken personal relationships, split local churches, the development of entire theological systems, and the birth of whole denominations. The "hard line" endorsement of these doctrines -- "Five-Point Calvinism," for example -- is the result of taking what is stated in Scripture to a "logical" and understandable conclusion. The rejection of "hard line" responses to these doctrines -- "Arminianism," "Evangelicalism," and "Determinism," for example -- is also the result of forcing what God's Word says into a comprehensible paradigm. The strife which has come from these doctrines is the product of the various interpretations of them; it does not issue from the Scriptures themselves. It is only when Christians -- or groups of them -- insist that their own narrow convictions of what constitutes the "truest meaning" of a word, a phrase, or an entire passage of Scripture become "biblical" doctrine that "envying, and strife, and divisions" rend the fabric of the tapestry of the universal church of Jesus Christ.

3. Occasionally believers require a "reality check." We need to step back from the great pile of stuff -- some of it quite good, to be sure -- we have heaped upon the bare foundation of the Christian faith in order to separate our traditions, convictions and surmisals from what God's Word sets forth plainly as the very essence of Christianity. The apostle Paul took this approach when he wrote his first epistle to the church at Corinth, a congregation whose faith and practice had moved from basic Christianity to doctrinal and behavioural excess in an alarmingly short period of time.

ref: 1 Corinthians 1:10-11

1 Corinthians 1:17

1 Corinthians 1:23-24

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

4. Paul does much the same thing in this morning's text passage. Amidst all his difficult, complex theology regarding election, sovereignty and Israel, he declares the simple g __ __ __ __ __ of Christ, stripped down to its barest essentials, and assumes the role for which, it seems, God had

gifted him best: Paul the e __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.

B. TEXT: Romans 9:30 - 10:21

1. Paul began chapter 9 with the great of paradox of God's election of Israel as His chosen people and Israel's subsequent rejection of the Messiah. How, Paul asked himself, can her unbelief be explained?

a. v.6-13: It is not because God is u __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ to His promises. He has, indeed, kept His word, but specifically to the "r __ __ __ __ __ __" of the elect within the people of Israel.

b. v.14-18: It is not because God is u __ __ __ __ __ in His "purpose according to election."

Neither His m __ __ __ __ toward some nor His h __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of others is incompatible with His perfect j __ __ __ __ __ __.

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