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Friday, 14 September 2012

Romans Chapter 9 DOES NOT Disprove Freewill but Actually Reinforces It. Looking At The Context Of The WHOLE Book of Romans

This article is part 2 or a continuation of my last article entitled "God HAS Given Us Freewill. It IS Revealed In The Bible"
Please click here to read that first article.

On that last article I chose to not discuss Romans Chapter 9 (which contains verses which the Calvinists use as their strongest arguments AGAINST the belief of freewill) because that chapter contains such a lot of material and raises too many objections/questions to cover within the general topic of the last article. Quite honestly it needs a separate article all of its own. Therefore, this article serves that purpose.
Romans 9-11 go together
I will now try to show how Romans chapter 9 DOES NOT deny freewill but actually reinforces it when you consider everything in its rightful context.  What I have written today on this article (14 Sept. 2012) is the results of my initial investigations and study. I may add other material to this article as/when I find more.

Anyway, long introduction, but here now is the article.

Anyone with an honest heart will have to admit that if Romans chapter 9 is saying that no-one has freewill, then that chapter sits isolated from the vast majority of the Bible which teaches otherwise.  I follow the golden rule that if some isolated verses (or even a chapter) seems to say something contradictory to the rest of the Bible then it must be US who are interpreting that particular passage incorrectly. We should NEVER make a doctrine out of isolated passages – very dangerous.

Let us look at the context of Romans 9. First, who was Paul writing to? Was it Jews or Gentiles? It appears primarily Jews but also to Gentiles. Why did Paul apparently swap his line of thought in Romans 8 and insert chapters 9-11 before continuing on again in ch 12?

Some say it was a digression. Actually, if you were to read all the chapters 1 to 16, you will actually see that chapters 1 to 8 were a build up or foundation to the main thrust of his message, i.e. chapters 9-11 are the KEY to
 the whole book. If the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write the Book of Romans as part of the inerrant Word of God, then it cannot possibly be a digression because that would not imply inspiration. Therefore, ch’s 9-11 are in the exact right place for a purpose to tell us something.

Therefore, you CANNOT make interpretations from just chapter 9 without getting it into the context of the whole book of Romans. Please bear in mind that when Paul uses the word “you” he is mostly referring to the corporate body of Christ and to other groups of people and not just to individuals. If we bear that in mind it immediately changes the idea that individuals are pre selected without any freewill on their part.

God had always pre ordained that the gentiles would also become attached to the redeemed people of God. The church was a mystery to all (apart from God) in the OT and that God was going to bring Jews and Gentiles alike (who put their faith in the Messiah Jesus) into a united kingdom of God.

Therefore YES the gentiles (as a corporate body) were predestined to become a part of God’s kingdom. This was the thrust of most of Paul’s writings and was no different throughout the Book of Romans.

Remember Paul was called to be an apostle to the gentiles and often had to explain God’s purposes for the gentiles to the Jewish Christian community. Paul demonstrates throughout book of Romans that God ‘s eternal plan was to save every people’s group – not just the Jews.

In Romans 9 when Paul talked about the potter, he was probably reminded by the Holy Spirit of Jeremiah 18. Jeremiah 18 is all about God’s chosen people in the OT – the Jews and how God wanted to mold them but they would not let Him.

That is interesting. If God does not give them freewill, then how could they prevent God from molding them if it is God’s Will to mold them? I encourage you to read the whole chapter. In the same way Jesus said to Israel “how often I would have gathered you together as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not”. Again THEY chose to reject God out of free will.

Here is a portion of Jeremiah 18 (verses 3-12):

“So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me.

He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

“Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’”

Let us look again at Romans 9:20-24:
“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?”

That passage is talking about God’s choice to choose the gentiles, as a collective group (not specifically as individuals) to become the objects of mercy and that the unbelieving Jews, as a collective nation (not specifically individuals) would experience God’s wrath for rejecting Jesus. That is again emphasised in Ch 11.

Here is an excellent video with David Pawson giving us a short history lesson into the context of why Paul wrote chapters 9 to 11. It is part 4 within a whole sermon, but the part most applicable to this article. Although I cannot accept some of David Pawson's theology (because he doesn't believe in the eternal security of the believer and a number of other things) he is very informed regarding the background behind the writings in the bible. His sermon is simply that - a background to the Book of Romans. For that reason I recommend that you watch this video. This video, together with what I have written above SHOULD conclusively prove that Romans 9 is NOT teaching against freewill at all.


Connie said...

John, That was a good video and I totally agree with you on the issue of election vs. free will. I see God's statement about creating vessels fit for destruction in this way, He knows in advance who will be His by their choice and who will choose to reject Him. Consequently He does create people that He knows will go to destruction (by their own choice).

He does this, as He says, so that those of His elect may see His great mercy in not only putting up with them and what they do to His children, but by even giving them the chance to accept or reject Him.

Just because He knows in advance doesn't mean He makes the choice for them.

As for eternal security, I think I may differ with you somewhat on that as like you I believe all of Scripture must be taken in context and there are some verses that indicate that because of our free will, we can choose to walk away from God in unbelief even after having accepted him.

John Chingford said...

Thanks Connie for your comments.

You may have missed what I was saying. When Paul talks about the objects of God's mercy vs the objects of His wrath, he is not discussing individuals per se but he is discussing Gentiles Collectively and Israel collectively.

God told Jeremiah that He wanted to make Israel into something special AS A NATION but they did not let Him thereby subsequently placed themselves outside God's love and protection. In effect found themselves being destroyed as a Nation.

Whereas the Gentile Christians collectively became the objects of God's mercy. As we know in Romans 11 Paul expounds on this by saying that the Gentiles were being grafted in and many Jews being cut out.

Regarding losing one's salvation I have studied that subject for 30 plus years and am convinced now by the whole biblical overview of God's eternal plan and by the overwhelming number of passages which show that one cannot be born into the family of God and then become "unborn".

As I have studied this subject in great detail you can be assured that I am fully aware of all the "so-called" verses which claim to show that one can "lose" their salvation.

Therefore, I could show the context (leading to all those verses that may be quoted) showing it does not mean what you think it does or at least that another reasonable explanation could be given.

As I always say, if the vast majority of passages give an overall picture of the truth but some isolated verses seem to contradict it, guess who is wrong? It cannot be the inerrant Word of God. IT MUST BE our interpretation because we only have finite/imperfect minds.

Actually, I have addressed this whole topic before on another article so will not get drawn into it on this one.

You can read it on:

Having said this,

I always appreciate the content of your comments, dear sister.

Expected Imminently said...

Hello John

I would like to offer a public apology, and show an expression of regret for all the hurt I caused in the past.

Soon and very soon, we are all going to stand before Jesus, and nothing in this world has any importance compared to that precious moment.

He knows all about it; and with the door into Eternity about to open, any post salvation sins that come to my mind, I want to deal with as quickly as possible via 1John1:9.

I am still praising The Lord, as I hope you are.

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.


John Chingford said...

Hi Sue

It is good to hear from you again. The contents of your comment are heartening to me and warmly accepted. Welcome back!

amc said...

EI, good to see you're still around. Missed seeing you over at Doc Reagan's.

rg AKA amc

Expected Imminently said...

RG/amc – God bless your heart! I have just called in on the off chance to check out John’s warnings – what a treat, as here you are. I’m not ‘around’ much, as, contrary to popular belief, I’m not well versed with the internet.

It’s so nice to be missed, and I can truthfully say that I have missed you equally and look out for your comments when browsing.

I also miss some of the others and even dear old Nathan, but I fear he has ‘gorn orf’ me since I began to fight against appalling, occult based deception.

What is being accepted as ‘christianity’ has truly shocked me. Nay, I am stunned, by so much Biblical ignorance being approved by people who ought to know better. I am content to ‘wink’ at many differences, but never anything that undermines The Gospel.

When Lamb&Lion said they had no problems with Rick Warrens teaching (other than prophecy) I was flabbergasted – never has my gast been so flabbered!

Rick Warren teaches another Jesus, another gospel and another spirit, yet according to L&L, that’s fine!!!! Yet they know RW teaching has smashed my family apart. THAT’S why I separated myself from them.

I have since realised that Dr. Reagan likes to run with the hare as well as with the hounds and is also personally subject to giving false prophesy, even admiring the late Oral Roberts, false teacher extraordinaire.

I write here for you to see as I can think of no other way to express to you my appreciation.
Thanks John for your time.



amc said...

I hear you re Warren, EI.

Pity about CIP Journal. It's boring there at the moment. I post at the Facebook version when I have time.

I visit Mitchell's blog (remember him?) occasionally and I'm afraid to report that his ideas have taken off like wild hares.

Anyway, it's good to see that you're doin' fine. Keep up the good fight!


Anonymous said...

Notice that even Romans chapter 9 ends with a perfect free will verse as the last verse of that chapter :)

Ronnie Shakespeare said...

Why does it say in romans 9:16 So then it is not of HIM who wills,Nor of Him who who runs. but of God who shows mercy.

HIM to me means a individual Person.
It seems to me that it is a Individual Person that is shown Mercy Like Jacob was made into a vessel of honor

But Easu and Pharaoh was each a individual Person That was Chosen for dishonor. With Easu and Jacob the choices was made by God before they were born. Eaua could not will to have salvation and Jacob could not will to not have salvation. And no matter if Pharoah willed to have salvation
it is not for him to will it.

was this the case Just for them. having no free-will? But the rest of humanity has free-will ?

John Chingford said...

Hi Ronnie

Have you considered those verses in context with the whole chapter ie verses 1-14 and 17 onwards and how it all fits together in the chapters 9-11?

I have just taken a look at it again.

Those verses are referring to God's mercy in calling the gentiles to salvation.

Link it to 2 Peter 3:9 "it is NOT God's will that any should perish but that ALL should come to repentance" and then it starts to make sense.

Incidentally, it DOES NOT SAY "it is not God's will that any of the elect should perish but that all of the elect should come to repentance"

That is heresy, because you would be ADDING to the Word of God.

The context is CLEAR that Peter is referring to EVERYONE as shown in John 3:16 "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life"

The fact is that it is NOT God's will for any to perish. God wants to display His mercy - NOT hatred or anger. God had made a way for EVERYONE to experience HIS mercy, through Jesus - NOT JUST TO ISRAEL.

That is what Romans 9 is all about.

One of the reasions that Paul wrote to the Romans was because of the trouble being caused by the Judaizers within the primarily Jewish church.

You have only got to look at the first 10 chapters of Acts to see how prejudiced and arrogant the Jewish believers were about their elitism and superiority over the gentiles.

Just see their surprise when the gentiles came to faith in their messiah!!! The first thing they tried to do was to make the gentiles Jewish converts.

However, God gave a special revelation to Paul. God had called Paul to open the good news to the gentiles and that Israel would soon suffer the consequences of their rejecting their Messiah (until they collectively say - in the future - "blessed is HE who comes in the Name of the Lord").

God showed Paul that He wanted to show His mercy on the gentiles as a collective group globally.

To continue......

John Chingford said...


Out of the whole chapter you chose to select the only verses which did not clearly address Israel and the gentiles collectively. You have to match those verses in CONTEXT with the rest of the chapter which reveals (as I have shown) that those verses MUST be referring to God's mercy over the gentiles collectively.
it says "Jacob I have loved and Essau have I hated" it doesn't mean that He hates anyone or rejects anyone. It simply means that He called Jacob to be the father of a great nation. Jacob represents Israel. Essau surely represents the gentiles who "did what was right in their own eyes".

God knew Jacob would choose to please God and that Esau would rather choose pleasure, therefore because God knows all things before they happen, chose Jacob to be the father of His chosen nation as light bearers to a dark world.

Those verses are NOT discussing that God chose who will have eternal life and who should spend eternity in hell. It is discussing who God chose to be HIS representatives on Earth as a light to the nations.

Verse 15 says "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

SEE, His WILL is all about HIS mercy and compassion. It is nothing to do with sending people to hell.

All of God's plans/actions are ultimately to make a way for EVERYONE to be saved. What stops most people from being saved? Their hardness of heart. They harden their hearts by continuing to go their own way, rather than God's and to resist God's will (using freewill).

When it says God hardened Pharoah's heart it was because Pharoah's heart was probably already hardened but it became more hardened every time he said "no" to God. Effectively his heart was hardened by God because God kept sending Moses to him and put Pharoah in a position where he regularly had to say no or yes, but kept saying no.

Therefore, the writer of Exodus wrote down what he saw and heard from God.

What I am trying to show is that we CANNOT use verse 15-16 as proof that God ever sends people to hell or that He does not give freewill. There is too much doubt about what it actually means.

All we can do is compare those verses with the REST of the Bible AS A WHOLE BOOK looking at God's eternal workings and plan of salvation in reference to the WHOLE overview and NEVER pick and choose verses we like (in isolation) to prove our opinion.