Election, non-election, and Romans 9
I. Partial summary of last week: We must understand the
greatness of God's electing love.
A. Christ loves the church in the way husbands ought to love
their wives (Eph 5:25, 28). If a man loved his wife in the same
way that he loved every other woman, wouldn't that be adultery?
Why do you think it is important for a wife to know that her
husband loves her in a special way?
B. Christians are children of God. Does a parent love his
children in the same way he loves every other person's children?
Is it important for the child to know that he is special to his
C. If you accept the truth that God sends unbelievers to
eternal punishment in hell, is it a much bigger step to believe
that God does not love these people in the same way as He loves
those that He saves? In fact, why would we insist upon God loving
the people He punishes eternally in the same way as He loves
those that He blesses eternally? Isn't that a strange kind of
D. Do you think that God loves the demons?
E. Predestination means that God can save whomever He
wants--the decision of who is saved is ultimately in God's hands.
So if God loves everybody the same way, why didn't He choose
F. It is important to understand that God loves His saints in
a fuller way in order to really be struck with the greatness of
God's love for you. God wants us to know that we are special to
Him. But if He loves us in the same way that He loves those who
perish, how are we special to God? How would you feel if your
parents said to you that they don't love you anymore than they
love every other child? Let us take comfort and joy in this
intense, powerful, individual love that God has for us! It should
be a strength to our hearts.
G. How could you take security in God's love if his love was
the same for you as it is for those He torments eternally in
II. Last week we saw that God chooses who is saved. This week we
are going to look at that further and also look at the truth that
God also chooses who will not be saved.
A. God's eternal decree of whom He would not saved is called reprobation.
Whereas election means that God chooses whom He will save,
reprobation means that God chooses who is not saved. Reprobation
necessarily follows from election. Since God could have saved
everybody, but not everyone is saved, then we must conclude that
God deliberately chose to leave some people in their sins.
B. Reprobation, like election, is unconditional. The
non-elect are not rejected because of their sins-- because they
were worse sinners than the elect. Instead, just as Christians
are chosen based only upon the purposes of God and nothing in
them, so also the non-elect are rejected solely due to the good
pleasure of God's will--not because of anything in them or
anything they have done. However, the reason that this rejection
leaves them to eternal punishment is because of their
sins. If they weren't sinners, this rejection wouldn't result in
their eternal torment. So while they are not reprobated
because of what they have done, they are punished for what
they have done (sin). That is, God's rejection of the reprobate
is not because of their sins (just as God's choice of the
elect was not because of any goodness in them), but God's
punishment of the reprobate is because of their sins.
- Did God pass over all of the fallen angels and leave them
in their sins (see 2 Peter 2:4)? 2. Was that unjust?
Would it be unjust for God to pass over some of
the fallen human beings?
III. Before we begin, it is important to see the importance of
understanding the truths of unconditional election and
unconditional reprobation. These truths are not ugly, but
A. As we come to know God's ways, we come to know God (Exodus
33:11). These are very significant aspects of God's ways,
therefore as they are used by the Holy Spirit they will bring us
to know God better.
B. These truths very powerfully make us feel and know our utter
dependance upon God's unconditional mercy. And the more we
are aware of our dependance upon God, the more we will trust him.
C. Do you dare to say that God has spoken something that is
irrelevant, unimportant, and unglorious? How would you feel
if you wrote a book for your children and they said that
whole passages and chapters were not important?
D. We must always remember that in this life we can never know
who is not chosen.
IV. Introduction to Romans 9:1-24
A. The place of Romans 9 in the epistle:
- Romans chapters 9-11 are a unit. They were written to
deal with a great difficulty: the Jewish rejection of the
- Specifically, Romans 1-8 has the great foundation of
Christian hope--the certainty and security of God's
promises (see the climax of 8:28-39). But, the promises
(word) of God seems to have failed the Jews, since God
made such amazing promises to them and they are not saved
as a whole. Therefore, what basis does the church have
for believing that God's promises to them will be
fulfilled? Our Christian hope is at stake! Paul deals
with this problem in Romans 9-11.
B. The question we must ask ourselves in Romans 9 is this: Is
Paul teaching corporate election to historical roles,
or individual election to eternal destinies in this
chapter? The corporate interpretation tries to avoid Paul's
teachings of unconditional election and reprobation in this
chapter by saying that Paul is not dealing with salvation in this
context or individuals. Thus, on that view all this chapter
teaches is that God unconditionally chooses who will and will not
be the main players in the history of the world. The other
interpretation understands that Paul is dealing with individual
salvation, and therefore Paul is teaching unconditional election
C. The main argument for the corporate view is that the OT
references on which Paul builds his case do not in their OT
contexts refer to individuals or eternity, but to nations and
their roles (vv. 7, 9, 12, 13).
- Is it more important to consider the OT usage of the
verses, or the way Paul uses them in context? Must Paul
use them in the same way as the OT?
- Do the biblical writers ever see the historical truths in
the OT as pointing to spiritual realities? Don't they
especially see the history of Abraham as having the
fullest application to salvation?
- Is it even convincing to say that these quotes cannot
apply to salvation or individuals in their OT context
(see Gen. 21:12; 18:10, 14; 25:23; Malachi 1:2, 3)?
- Read Galatians 4:21-31. In the OT context, the events
Paul is referring to seem to deal only with historical
issues, not salvation. Does Paul apply them to salvation
in this passage?
V. Understanding Romans 9:1-24
A. Examining vv. 1-6 and their connection to vv. 6-24 to
discover Paul's flow of argument.
- In vv. 1-3, why is Paul in so much sorrow?
- Does Paul's distress concern individuals? eternal
- What is the hope Israel had (vv. 4-5)?
- How do the promises to Israel compare to the
plight of Israel?
- What problem does this raise (v. 6)?
- In the first sentence of verse 6, Paul says that the word
of God has not failed-- even though it seems like it. The
next sentence he begins with for. Does this
indicate that Paul is going to undertake to solve the
- Do you think Paul would have raised with this problem if
he wasn't going to solve it?
- In verse 6, the second sentence, what does Paul state as
the solution to this problem?
- Do you notice that everything he says in the verses after
verse 6 is either a defense of this assertion from verse
6 (vv. 7-13) or an inquiry into further issues this
raises (vv. 14- 24ff.)?
- Do you see that we have to interpret verses 6-24ff. in
light of this problem which those verses are designed to
address? Isn't this simply a matter of taking the passage
in its context?
- Since the problem of vv. 1-5 involves the eternal
destinies of individuals, doesn't that seem to argue that
the solution to the problem, offered in vv. 6-23ff., also
deals with the eternal destinies of individuals?
B. Examining vv. 6-13, where Paul explains and defends his
solution to the problem raised by vv. 1-6.
- What two examples does he point to in order to support
his argument (see vv. 7 and vv. 9-11)?
- Verse 8 is intended to shed light on verse 7. How does it
- Does the phrase children of God in verse 8
give you a clue as to whether or not Paul is discussing
salvation (see Rom. 8:16, 17, 21; Eph. 5:1; Phil. 2:15)?
- In verse 9, is the word of promise which
designates a person as a child of promise
God's declaration about what He would sit back and watch
to happen, or take action to make happen?
- Look up Galatians 4:28. Are Christians children of
promise like Isaac?
- Therefore, were Christians chosen unconditionally like
- What does verse 10 say?
- On what did God base His choice of Jacob and rejection of
Esau, according to verse 11? On what didn't He
base His choice? Was His choice unconditional?
- When verse 11 speaks of God taking action so that His
purpose might stand, how does that relate back with verse
6 about how the word of God hasn't fallen?
- According to this verse, why doesn't God's word fail?
- Is predestination, then, the means that God uses to keep
His word from falling?
- How does predestination keep God's word
- According to verse 13, how did God feel about Esau?
- Look at 2 Timothy 1:9, which seems to parallel Rom. 9:11.
Does 2 Timothy have salvation in view?
- Through the examples of Isaac and Jacob, Paul has
demonstrated the ongoing principle by which God keeps His
word from failing--unconditional election. In verse 6
Paul said that the word of God has not failed because not
everybody in the ethnic nation of Israel is part of the
true spiritual nation of Israel--to whom the promises
really belong. Isaac and Jacob illustrate that becoming a
member of the true Israel is dependent upon God's
sovereign choice, not being a mere physical descendant of
Abraham or our choice to first believe in God, and
therefore God's word cannot fail--since God irresistibly
acts to maintain His purpose through unconditional
election. Does this make sense?
C. Paul's solution to the problem of vv. 1-6, presented in vv.
6-13, raises some problems of its own. Paul deals with them in
vv. 14-18, and he further clarifies and supports his teaching of
- What objection is raised in verse 14?
- How does Paul answer this in verse 15? How do God's words
to Moses argue against the fact that God is unjust in
- Verse 15 is a declaration of the nature of God. How does
this argue that it must extend to every act of God's
mercy--and thus salvation?
- In verse 16, what is the general inference that Paul
draws from verse 15?
- According to verse 16, who does election not
depend upon? Who does election depend upon?
- In light of the context and Paul's flow of argument in
this chapter, are we justified in concluding that this
verse regards the eternal destinies of individuals?
- For many reasons that are evident to you, the
answer is clearly yes. Here is another reason you
may not have thought of: Verse 16 is a
restatement of verse 11 (and, as we saw, an
inference from verse 15). Both of those texts
were salvific and individual. Thus, v. 16 must be
slavific and individual.
- In verse 17, who raised up pharaoh? Why? Was God acting
on a whim?
- Could it be argued that in hardening Pharaoh's heart, God
was acting in love for His elect?
- Was God's choice to raise up Pharaoh based upon anything
- What was it based upon?
- In verse 18, what is the general inference that Paul
draws from verse 17?
- In light of this, do any forces outside of God determine
God's decision in whom to give mercy to? whom to harden?
- If someone came to you and said, I am so rotten I
could never believe, there is no hope for me, how
would you use the doctrine of unconditional election to
D. Once again Paul has to face more objections! Vv. 14-18
raise an objection that Paul answers in vv. 19-24ff., and this
also allows Paul to give us great insight into the ways of God.
- What objection is raised against Paul in verse 19?
- Would anyone ever say this to an Arminian?
- According to Paul's response in vv. 20-21, is it prideful
to object to the doctrine of unconditional election? How
does what Paul says in these verses go to the root of the
problem for many people who object to this doctrine?
- According to vv. 22-23, is it wrong for us to humbly
probe into the depths of God's wisdom in unconditional
- According to verses 22-23, why does God prepare objects
of wrath? What effect should this have on you, if you are
an object of mercy?
- Why does God delay judgement--exercise patience--on the
vessels of wrath?
- The vessels of wrath and mercy are from the same
lump. Does this show unconditional election and
- Who prepared the vessels of wrath in verse 22?
- Who prepared the vessels of mercy in verse 23? When were
F. Finally, let us ask some probing questions about this
- Why would God be unrighteous not to elect unconditionally
(see verse 15)?
- With this in view, why is it a dishonor to God to deny
- Would you agree or disagree with this: It is the
glory of God and His essential nature mainly to dispense
mercy (but also wrath--Exodus 34:7) on whomever He
pleases apart from any constraint found outside of God's
own will. This is the essence of what it means to be God.
This is His name.
VI. What effect should this have on us?
A. Sobered by God's awful severity.
B. Humbled by our total dependance on His unconditional mercy.
C. Irresistibly allured by the infinite treasury of His glory
to be revealed on the vessels of glory-- us.
VII. Summary of why God must elect unconditionally to be
A. Unrighteousness is acting in a way that contradicts God's
B. It is the nature of God to be free in giving mercy (and
wrath) to whomever He pleases (Romans 9:15; Exodus 33:19).
C. Thus, in unconditional election (and unconditional
reprobation) God is acting in accordance with His nature as the
utterly free, unhindered and authoritative God.
D. Therefore, God is not unrighteous in unconditional election
(or reprobation). In fact, it seems that He must do so to be
VIII. How should we respond to the righteousness of God?
A. Love the honor of God's name.
B. Esteem God's glory above all things.
C. Do only those things which accord with this love and
D. Human deeds are righteous if they are fitting expressions
of man's complete allegiance to maintain God's honor and display
VII. Further verses.
A. Ephesians 1:4
- The word for `chosen' in Eph. 1:4 indicates that we are
chosen out of something (the world) and thus
there are those who are not chosen and still belong to
what we were chosen out of.
- Further, this shows that we are not only removed from a
state of condemnation, but from the company of the
condemned. You are a chosen and special race unto
God--different from the condemned (1 Peter 2:9).
B. Proverbs 16:4
- Why did God make the wicked?
C. John 10:26
- Why didn't these people believe?
- So what must happen before a person will believe?
D. John 8:47
- Who hears God's words?
- Why didn't these Jews hear God's words?
E. John 12:37-40
- According to verse 38, why weren't they believing?
- According to verse 40, why else couldn't they believe?
- Who hardened their hearts? Why?
F. Mark 4:11-12
- What is one reason Jesus spoke in parables?
G. Matthew 11:25-27
- According to verse 25, what has God done?
- According to verse 27, how does a person come to know the
H. 1 Peter 2:7-8
- What doom were unbelievers appointed to?
- One may object all this verse says is that those
who disbelieve are appointed for doom. But it doesn't
mean that God appointed them to be unbelievers. But
as Wayne Grudem points out in his Systematic Theology,
the Greek word for appoint here must, because
of its construction, be referring back to at least two
things--not just one. Thus, not only are unbelievers
appointed to stumble because of their disobedience, but
they were appointed to stumble in the first place.
I. Revelation 13:8; 17:17
J. Jude 4
K. Romans 9:17-23; 11:8-10
L. 2 Thess. 2:11
M. Acts 13:41
N. Luke 2:34
O. Isaiah 6:9, 10
P. Deut. 2:30
Q. Many talk of salvation as if it were a
IX. Purposes of God's decree of reprobation.
A. To fully magnify God's holiness by displaying His utter
hatred of sin, which is the utter contradiction of His holiness.
B. To fully magnify God's justice.
C. To show the elect what they deserved so that they will
appreciate their salvation more deeply.
D. To bring about greater thankfulness from the elect.
E. To exalt and magnify God's mercy.
F. To lead us to a greater trust in God and encourage purity
G. To make it more evident that salvation is entirely
undeserved--if everybody was saved, salvation might seem like a
H. To lead us to a greater abhorrence of sin.
I. In Romans 11:11, 31, what is one reason for the hardening
of the Jews?
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