Summary: Not so much a description of "whosoever" or "elect" as it is a recognition of the sovereignty of God and His right to do what He chooses.
Recognizing the Sovereign
3-30-08 a.m. (PDBC)
This passage of scripture has presented the church with much difficulty. Here we have the clashing of philosophies regarding “Whosoever” and the “Elect”. I admit that I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with it this week. I know that its content has caused many divisions with churches. But the more I thought about it the more I saw it dealing not so much with “Whosoever” and the “Elect” as it is Paul addressing a group of Jews who feel like they were born with silver spoons in their mouths.
Basically, the Jews have been saying, “We deserve God’s favor, We’ve earned God’s favor, We’ve inherited God’s favor.” But Paul is saying God doesn’t owe you or anyone anything. God is sovereign and if He acts in a way that you feel is unjust or unfair that’s tough because as the Sovereign He doesn’t owe anybody any explanation.
The Jews that Paul was speaking to had misread or misunderstood their history. They believed that since they were Jews they were in…they had it made based on their heritage and rituals. Paul emphatically reminded them that God’s promise was NOT…I repeat…NOT to Abrahams physical seed but to his spiritual seed. That is the lesson passed on to us as well. Some people feel that their family’s church heritage… Christian heritage…sort of “grandfather” them into heaven. Or, they make assumptions that they will be granted a seat on the train bound for glory based on their good lives. These are foolish conclusions. We deserved nothing; no one deserves anything from God.
Again, Paul was insightful enough to anticipate objections that might be offered based on this teaching.
Let’s read verses 14-18:
9:14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. 16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort, but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh: For this reason I raised you up: so that I may display My power in you, and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 18 So then, He shows mercy to whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills.
Now these verses speak to the Sovereignty of God.
There would be nothing wrong in saying that God in His sovereignty could…If He desired to…choose to save some and not others. God in His sovereignty has that right. There would also be nothing wrong in saying that God in His sovereignty could…if He desired to…choose to save everyone regardless of their belief. There would be nothing wrong is saying that God in His sovereignty could…if He desired to…choose not to save anyone. You see if it were just an issue of His sovereignty than He could do anything He wants and not have to justify it to anyone. And as unfair as we might think it to be it would still be just…because He is the Sovereign God. However, God in His sovereignty has made specific promises to His creation. One of those promises is that,
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Now we know that God’s word never contradicts itself and yet we come across passages of scripture like the one we are looking at today and think, “Boy this sure sounds like God has already determined who will be saved and who won’t.”
But that would contradict John 3:16 so there must be another answer. To me the simplest answer involves God’s foreknowing. You see I believe that nothing takes God by surprise. God not only see the end from the beginning He knows every choice that will be made in between. He is not the instigator of those choices but if He is omniscient, that is all knowing, then He knows all…even the choices you are making right now as well as those you will make in ten years.
Now if you can accept that then I think it will make it a little easier to understand this passage the way I understand it.
Let’s look at the examples Paul offers here. Paul chooses two very interesting people, Moses and Pharaoh, to begin his discussion of this question. He says that Moses received mercy from God. He does not say Moses received a reward from God. And Paul says that God hardened Pharaoh. He does not say God condemned Pharaoh.
In His sovereignty and foreknowing God knew every decision that Pharaoh would make. He knew every opportunity that Pharaoh would dismiss when it came to turning to God. Now God could have forced Pharaoh to change his heart but that would go against the freedom that God blessed His creation with. You say well the Bible says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. You’re right but the Bible also says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart in the first five plaques. Five times the Lord attempted to get Pharaoh’s attention and five times Pharaoh blatantly ignored God’s attempt.