Summary: There is no question about the teachings of Paul the apostle in regard to election. Peter, John and the rest are all in agreement. He does what He wills!
Romans is the heartland of Sovereignty teaching. Here are the Bible's most troubling verses on the subject, at least for those who are still in the other camp. Many have heard these verses. Most have come up with an interpretation that allows them to move on un-touched. But I suggest that in the light of all that we have examined so far, we take a closer look at Paul's statements.
It all starts in 1:1. In this verse Paul declares that he was not only called, but separated. In verse 6 he extends that appointment to his fellow-believers in Rome, the "called" of Christ Jesus. He will make a clear statement later in the letter as to what he means by "called" and what their destiny is.
In 1:19-29, the apostle makes his case about a condemned world. He claims rightly that no one has an excuse before God. All are corrupt fools who have given themselves to their flesh and to other gods besides their Creator.
He further justifies his God in giving them up to their lusts. No one on that day will say they are judged unjustly. The world, without Christ, is totally lost, depraved, undeserving of any gifts from God.
If the book were to end here, no one could cry out "unfair." No one could demand that God owes them something. The rules were made, the rules were broken. They were written in man's heart, in nature, in stone, and always disobeyed. End of story.
Of course, the book does not end here. Amazing grace enters. But grace is not amazing if someone believes it is deserved. In fact, deserved grace is not grace at all. This will be Paul's point in Romans.
In fact, 4:4 makes that point early on. Paul says that if I do something good, and God pays me for that thing, He does it out of debt, not grace. We have all believed that none of our good works could earn us Heaven. Have any of us also concluded that even our faith could be viewed as a work? Believing itself is an act of the mind. Does God owe me salvation because I first believed in Him? Ephesians will answer that one.
5:8 reminds us which came first, our love or His. His love of course. He died for us. While we were still sinners, He died for us. This refers to the fact that we were in His mind from the beginning, and on the cross. One more clue about our predestined status.
The "we" and "us" of the passage is not the whole world and every member thereof. It is "us" , the saved, the church, the sheep. He died for us, though He knew we would live a life of sin for x number of years. He saw the sin, but He had already chosen us to salvation, and died for us anyway.
Again 3:16 comes to mind. And I John 4:19, "We love Him because He first loved us."
Romans 8-11 form the basis for Paul's sovereign grace teachings. These are some of the most hard of the "hard sayings" of Paul, perhaps the very words of which Peter spoke when he suggested that Paul says some difficult things sometimes...
It begins in 8:18 and following with a discussion of suffering now vs. glory then, which cannot be compared. He then speaks of how the present creation is waiting for the sons of God to be revealed and set things right. No need for the fanciful interpretations of our day on this passage. The fact is, Jesus and Jesus' people will rule the earth one day, and this earth will hum with order and beauty unparalleled in its history.
All of this leads him to talk of what is going on now in terms of our prayer life and how all that works, in the Spirit. Then he comes down hard with this fact (27):
It is the Spirit of God within the church that is directing everything. When we pray in the Spirit, the Spirit answers those prayers according to the will of God. That is, God is in charge, and He has taken direct charge of His Church by means of His Spirit. Therefore everything the Christian prays for in the Spirit, according to the will of God, will be done, and all things that come about through this prayer work together for the good of God's people. It can be no other way but good when they listen to what God is saying, and say what God is wanting.
Here is where he brings in the fact that there is a group of people in the world who have been called out according to His purpose.
It is a group He foreknew.