Determined to Believe: Chapter 13 - Israel Chosen for a Special Role

This is a book study on John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith, and Human Responsibility’. Lennox openly acknowledges that he has not provided definite solutions to these deep questions of the faith and that there is mystery involved. He clearly acknowledges that God is sovereign, but that we need to think carefully about what the word ‘sovereign’ means Biblically. This book, per my understanding, is an invitation for Christians to spend time thinking deeply about what the Bible means when it describes God as sovereign.

Greetings fellow bookies (@Interested_in_book_studies) - we are now on Chapter 13! I look forward to hearing your favorite quotes and your reflections on this subject matter.

My main takeaways were:

  • God chose Israel for a special role in history, but salvation always requires the faith of the individual
  • The fact that the prediction that Esau would serve Jacob did not take place until the time of David shows us that these promises were about nations; not individuals

Questions for Discussion

  1. What evidence is in the text that Romans 9 is about nations rather than individuals?
  2. Had you ever considered that Esau never served Jacob during their lifetime?
  3. How can understanding that God’s choice of Israel’s role was not equivalent to God’s condemning those outside Israel help you make sense of how God will judge those who never heard? In what way did some of the Jews of Jesus’ day misunderstand God’s choice of them as a nation and how did that impact the way they treated outsiders?
  4. What is the importance of remembering that God chose Israel to be a light to the nations and not simply for their own sake?

Quotes

God had chosen Israel for a special role in history, but that role did not amount to salvation.

We should also note that God’s choice of Israel as his people does not mean that everyone else was written off for condemnation. Indeed, one of the major reasons for choosing them was to be a “light to the Gentiles” – Joseph, Daniel, and Jonah, for example.

We should notice that this text has nothing to do with the personal salvation of Isaac, as many theistic determinists hold. The statement that Isaac was a child of promise is not made in connection with his personal, spiritual birth through faith in God, but his physical birth through the faith of Abraham and Sarah.

Contrary to the view of some theistic determinists again, however, far from abandoning Ishmael and condemning him, God promises to bless him.

The text has nothing to do with salvation or reprobation but with God’s sovereign choice for different roles in history; and not even the roles of the individuals involved but of the nations to which they gave rise. As an individual, Esau never did serve Jacob,

Later in the history of Israel, when David had become king, the Edomites (descended from Esau) came and paid homage to him and served him.

These verses do not discuss individual election to salvation but corporate election to service and role. God chose (elected) the different roles these nations were to play.

This principle outlined in these verses of Romans 9 is of fundamental importance, and it applies elsewhere in a way that can help us to understand it better. Every believer is a member of the body of Christ, but not every believer has the same role. Our different roles are assigned by a sovereign God:

Augustine introduced a deterministic interpretation of Romans 9: Only Augustine, and then only in his later writings, was prepared to accept the full implications of divine predestination.

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@SeanO

Hope you’re going well… I’m sorry to say that this book is still on my shelf and about number 5 in line at the moment, so my comments will be less about the books content, but is based on what you’ve put down (so I’m sorry if I miss some of the points of the book).

Totally agree with your first takeaway. I do, however, have a couple of questions on the second takeaway that I would appreciate some thoughts on…

I take the point that ‘serving’ may not have happened until the Edomites and that Paul’s overarching point in 9-11 is to point out that true Israel is not based on Ethnicity but on faith in the Lord. I also agree that, especially in chapter 11, Paul sees part of the role of the Ethnic nation of Israel as to bring the glory of God’s grace to the gentiles.

Can I get some thoughts on the following questions, though (I’m not trying to stir… I’m genuinely interested how these play out):

  1. Paul is differentiating between physical Israel and “true” Israel. The “true” Israel, as I understand it, are those who have put their faith in God and are saved; i.e. not those of physical descent, but children of the promise. If this is his argument, then why would his examples for that argument be ‘role’ based and not differentiating themselves as between ‘true’ Israelites and not? Included in this question… God’s last reference to ‘children’ is in chapter 8 as those who are saved 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”. Chapter 9’s use of ‘children of the promise’ definitely bring to mind the use of children in chapter 8 to me and might, therefore, relate to salvation and not role (cf. 9:7-8, interchangeable use of Abrahams children and God’s children)?

  2. Paul gives both positive and negative examples of God’s work in election in this chapter. His negative example is of Pharaoh, saying that God has hardened his heart and then summarises the examples he’s given in v18 “Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden”. Pharaoh is clearly here an individual and not a nation, so why would I therefore take Jacob and Esau as representing nations and Pharaoh not? I understand Pharaoh was the leader of his nation, but I still don’t take it that Paul was referring to Egypt as a nation, but Pharaoh as an individual because it was his heart that was hardened. (The question I’m asking is not about salvation vs role, but individual vs nation)

  3. Why, in v22-23, does he talk about his preparation for those both towards destruction and glory? Both of these terms bring up ideas of salvation for us. Death and destruction is what awaits those who remain slaves to sin. Life and glory are what await those who are slaves to the Spirit. My question here is that it is God’s preparation leading each option towards it’s end goal and that end goal seems to be an eternal one… so why is this chapter about role and not salvation?

I think that will do for my questions for now. Thoughts on those? I love Romans!!!

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@tsbehan Great questions :slight_smile: Personally, when part of Paul’s argument is confusing, I think it is best to look at the parts that are clear. In this case, his summary statement in 9:32 about what went wrong with Israel is very clear. They sought to be saved by works rather than by faith. It does not say God made them do so. The text never deprives Israel of their agency or implies in an unambiguous way that they were predetermined.

Romans 9:32 - Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.

I think it is easy to get lost in the weeds when Paul is using illustrations. We have to understand what Paul was trying to say and to whom. In this chapter, Paul is trying to communicate to Jews that it is not unjust for God to graft in the Gentiles by faith, while those Jews who reject this message are cast off. Paul’s point has nothing to do with predestination - it is about the fairness of God appointing all those who call upon Christ to be saved while the physical descendants of Abraham are set aside.

Also, as Lennox pointed out, the illustration of the Potter comes from Jeremiah. And in that context it is clear God is actually responding to the behavior of Israel - not predetermining their actions.

Jeremiah 18:5-10 - Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 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. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 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.

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Sorry @SeanO your @ for the book study did not work so I didn’t get a notification. Anyway, here’s my thoughts:

So this is chapter where he begins to analyze Romans chapter 9 to see if it really says what most theistic determinists say it does. I won’t say much on this chapter because I think enough has been said by others, so I really don’t it would be helpful for me reiterate the argument too much.

The position John Lennox is arguing for is that Romans 9 has nothing to do with soteriology, but with the historical position of Israel. “God had chosen is real or a special role in history, but that role did not amount to salvation” (p 242). What I love most about this chapter is that Lennox takes the time to unpack not only Romans 9, but the Old Testament quotes Paul selects and the context behind them in detail.

John Lennox goes through the three Old Testament stories which Paul references in Romans 9. All the quotes speak on the place in history that God chose for a specific person (in Abraham and Jacob’s case) or for a specific nation (in Israel’s case). They were all chose to bare the seed of the coming Messiah. God created a covenant with Abraham that through his seed he would bless the world. God chose Abraham just as God chose Jacob: because of God’s mercy. There was nothing Abraham could do to merit God’s promise to him. It was completely God’s choice. And just because God chose Abraham, it does not mean that he was automatically saved. No, it was his faith in God that saved him. Paul is clear about it in Romans 4. Same goes for God’s choice of Isaac over Ishmael (even though God made a promise, a different promise, to him as well) and Jacob over Esau. God chose who he thought was best for the Salvation project that ended up with God himself coming to earth to save us. This is the overall context so far in Romans 9. Lennox quotes Douglas Moo, as Calvinist, which I thought was an amazing admission:

If Paul applies old testament texts according to their original intent, the Calvinists appeal to Romans nine is undercut and perhaps excluded all together. Calvinist interpreters have then made the mistake of reading election to salvation into a text that is not about that at all. (The Epistle of Romans, Eerdmans, 1996, in Lennox’s book p 251)

He obviously must not subscribe to this interpretation, though, because he himself still believes in TULIP (or he bases his interpretation of divine election on other passages, not this one specifically).

I think the question Lennox tries answering next (which spreads into the next chapter) is this: is God’s will dependent on the unfair actions of Sarah to Hagar (basically kicking her out of their house) and Jacob’s deceit by tricking his father and stealing the blessing?

In order to answer this question, Paul turns to two Old Testament passages from the book of Exodus. They both concerned seminal events in the historical development of the nation of Israel. The first one is the giving of the law at Sinai through Moses; and the second one (though earlier in time) is the exodus, which Moses took Israel out of Egypt to form an independent nation, against the protests of Pharaoh.

The first one is dwelt with in this chapter, the the second one is devoted to the second chapter. With Moses at Sinai, the Israelites broke the very first commandment basically right away. They wasted no time in building an idol when Moses went to talk to God for forty days. Lennox makes a brilliant connection:

As a nation they were God’s chosen people, but at that time very few of them [in Moses’ time] had hearts that beat for God. Paul’s anguish at his fellow Israelites’ rejection of the Messiah resonated powerfully with Moses’ anguish at the people’s rejection of God. (p 254)

So when Paul asks if God is unjust for choosing to have mercy on one nation but not the other, his answer is basically, by quoting what God told Moses on mount Sinai, God doesn’t have to have mercy on anybody. But God does, so he gets to choose whomever he deems adequate for the task at hand (the seed of the promised Messiah). Obviously, Pharaoh’s hardened heart played a role of that, but Lennox will go into that more in the next chapter.

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@SeanO

Thanks for that SeanO. I completely agree that the overall message he is sending is of the True Israel including not all ethnic Israelites and very obviously an indeterminate number of Gentiles.

But I find it hard to say that these chapters have “nothing to do with predestination”. Firstly because it uses the word ‘predestined’, so it is not nothing do with predestination, but merely what we would then define as predestination. At that point, my questions still stand in regards to what Paul is saying. It is quite clear that only the ‘remnant’ of Israel is saved and then there is the overflow of grace which is given to the gentiles because of the ‘disobedient and obstinate people’ (love the word obstinate). But the remnant that is spoken of is still chosen by God (I have reserved for myself 7000 as a remnant, God says).

At no point does Paul say we are not responsible for the choices we make, but he seems to be fairly clear in these verses that God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden and who are we to question that.

I put this to my bible study group the other day… see what you think of it. I’m sure there is some term for what I am out there. Remembering that any metaphor breaks down when you dig into too much detail, I visualise God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility as follows:

Imagine I’m playing Bobby Fischer (Chess Grandmaster) at chess. The outcome of this game is assured, isn’t it? Well, we could say that Bobby, being merciful, might allow me to win the game and therefore both options are available of me winning or losing. But the outcome of the game is COMPLETELY determined by the will of Bobby Fischer. He chooses for me whether I am victorious or not. No one would begrudge him if he won the match because it is his right to do so, but all would look at him as being merciful if I won the match. But at no point does Bobby Fischer make any of my moves for me. I play, I make moves… the only move Bobby may not have say in, would be if I surrendered and gave up my chance entirely. But to win, it must be by his grace and ultimately by nothing I have done except to walk the path he allows me to go to victory.

Remembering I still haven’t read the book that we’re supposed to be discussing (and I’m really looking forward to reading it), I worry sometimes that we downplay God’s Sovereignty. He could have made the universe any way he wanted… with a miniscule difference here or there i may have ended up as an atheist or something else entirely. So in God having set up things just so, what is the problem in saying that he has determined who is saved and who isn’t? As Paul says, who are we, human beings, to question God?

One cannot and MUST not reduce ourselves to mere puppets and must take responsibility for the choices we make and whom we put our faith in… this is absolutely clear in the scriptures. But on the flip side we must acknowledge that the Sovereign God of the Universe is in control of all things and has set up the Universe to run exactly the way it has.

Thoughts on my thoughts?

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Just regarding question 2: Lennox devotes an entire chapter to the hardening of Pharoahs heart (chapter 14)… :slight_smile:

I suppose the problem is simply this

  • assuming that God has, in eternity past, fixed a persons eternal destiny
  • how can God justly judge and condemn a person to hell for not believing what they are incapable of believing

In my view, this starts to bring into question the character of God, and assigns Him as the author of evil : the moral problem which is covered in chapter 3…

Err, have you not just done that with your first statement ?

I imagine the balance between free will and Gods sovereignty is that the infinite God has created a finite moral ‘space’ in which I freely choose. In the same way I occupy a finite physical space I’m not free physically to just do anything I like (such as physically be in more than one place, or fly like a bird with my arms etc). There is no question that both Gods sovereignty and free will exist at the same time…

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@matthew.western

Thanks for that Matthew. I agree that God’s sovereignty and Man’s free will exist at the same time. We must keep both of these in tension as they are both expounded in scripture. That’s the problem we face is how do they go together. I’m not sure you’ve entirely got where I’m coming from… or maybe I’m not explaining myself very well. I was hoping my chess example got my point across.

Firstly, my point with Pharaoh was not to do with the fact or method of God hardening his heart or how, but that Pharaoh was an individual and so why do we get an example of him as an individual but we are to take Jacob and Esau as examples of nations (this seemed to be a point that had been made).

But in regards to God’s sovereign choice in choosing those to have mercy upon and whom to harden…

Paul brings up this very issue in 9:19, How could God blame us if he is the one from whom comes the mercy or the hardening of the heart? Why would he be asking this if it did not relate to salvation? Interestingly, Paul’s answer is not what we assume it might be if we know Exodus at all; Paul might have said, ‘yes, scripture describes God as hardening Pharaoh’s heart, but also that he hardens his own heart, so you see, I’m merely saying that God’s character by it’s very nature hardens what was already Pharaoh’s choice in his heart’. No… his answer to the question is “Who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?”. The Israelites thought they knew the extent and nature of God’s purpose and character, but their “zeal was not based on knowledge”. I think that we must always be cautious that we, too, do not fall into the trap of thinking we have figured out God’s plans and purposes. As Pauls words show at the end of chapter 11, even he recognises that we cannot know the depths of God’s knowledge nor judgements. This shows that what he and we are wrestling with is not something (I think) that we will ever completely grasp (as may be shown by the last 2000 years of discussion on the topic and wide array of views).

But of course we can understand as much as we need to for salvation. You asked me, “Err, have you not just done that with your first statement?”, regarding the apparent inconsistency of us not being puppets but God having purposed out his elect and having mercy on some and hardening others. Have I been inconsistent? I don’t think so, if you understand where I’m coming from. I hope no more than the apparent inconsistency of scripture in regards to this topic. Maybe I was a little firm in how I put it. Let me try and explain…

You cannot get around our own responsibility from scripture. It is clear we are culpable and cannot be without responsibility “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” and “the wages of sin is death”. Left to our own devices we would remain in sin and suffer the consequences. But God, through his Spirit, lifts us out of this state and by His Spirit we are moved to faith in the Lord Jesus. If we cannot do this without God’s Spirit is it ever truly and completely us that does it? Is it by the power of my will and choice that I am saved? If faith is an “act of belief” then it is by a work we are saved and not by grace (see Romans 11). The elect are saved, but those hardened are not. This means that those chosen by God are saved and those who aren’t are not. But those he chose (first) also chose him (in response)… do I completely understand this? No. Do I trust that God knows what he’s doing? Yes.

As above… have a look at the chessmaster example and see what you think of it’s metaphorical value. In all honesty I’m getting very sleepy and think I’m getting worse at explaining things, not better. So maybe I’ll revisit this in the morning. Hope I’m making some sort of sense.

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Tell you what… we can keep chatting… but maybe I’ll read the book and then come back into this discussion :slight_smile:

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Please continue to join in!! : I’m only expressing my viewpoints … I think a lot of people think about this area a lot - and it’s nice to have a place to discuss these things as respectfully as we are able to…

I suspect we’ll be in heaven and God as our Heavenly Father will just gently smile and say to us ‘why did you spent so much time and mental energy trying to figure this all out’, and as it says in Revelation 21:4 ‘He will wipe every tear away’…

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Hi Matthew… That wasn’t meant to be self-deprecating in any way. I’m enjoying the discussion. I was only thinking there is probably alot of lines of argument that may have already been covered in the book and these discussions that I’ve missed and need to catch up on. Still completely happy to carry on chatting. I’m totally with you on God’s probable reaction to all of our debating :slight_smile: Looking forward to that day which will thankfully be for all eternity which will hopefully give me time to come to some sort of understanding.

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Examples of nation speak.

…my fellow countrymen according to the flesh, (Ro 9:3)

Fellow Israelites.

…and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the temple service, and the promises, 5 to whom belong the patriarchs… (Ro 9:4–5)

This is a clear reference to a nation Israel. Israel had been the beneficent of all the above.

For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very reason I have raised you up, so that I may demonstrate my power in you, and so that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Ro 9:17)

In the ANE Pharaoh would not been have viewed as an individual Egyptian, one of many, anymore that Augustus would have been thought of as just another Roman. In both case their names were synonymous with a nation and deities either as representative of or actual deities themselves.

Here is a thought that I have recently been acquainted with in readind the Exodus account. Who was God’s wrath directed at? Pharaoh of the gods of Egypt? Exodus 12:12 says,

“And I will go through the land of Egypt during this night, and I will strike all of the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from human to animal, and I will do punishments among all of the gods of Egypt . I am Yahweh.”

Let me add question 4

I think NT Wright put it this way. God intended that the Israelite would live such a holy and blessed life that anyone that observed them would marvel and say what a great God they served and look how they treat each other, look how they are blessed. Come let us go and live like wise.

20 Thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘It will happen again that nations and the inhabitants of many cities will come. 21 And the inhabitants of one city will go to another city, saying, “Let us go immediately to entreat ⌊the favor of⌋ Yahweh, to seek Yahweh of hosts—I also will go!” 22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to seek Yahweh of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat ⌊the favor of⌋ Yahweh.’ 23 Thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from ⌊the nations of every language⌋ will take hold of the hem of a Judean man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you!” ’ ” (Zec 8:20–23)
My thoughts.

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@tsbehan Thanks again for sharing :slight_smile: I think the chess master analogy is fundamentally flawed in that salvation is not a matter of God versus us. God actually wants us to be saved.

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@SeanO

I told you the analogy would break down. :slight_smile: I think I was trying to illustrate exactly your point… it is not a “contest” as we would understand a battle or us “vs” God. My point was the opposite, that everything happens according to God’s will. All pieces on the board are under his control… if they are not, then they are out of his control and I don’t believe anything is outside his control. I merely move within the framework he has provided. I still have free will but it is only under the banner of his will first. As I said above… I don’t fully understand how this works, but I’m actually quite fine with that. Who can know the mind of the Lord? I certainly can’t.

Can you answer me this… I’m sure it’s come up in the book… so if it has can you help me understand:

If God wants us to be saved and we are not, does that mean that our choices are out of his control?

And repeating some questions from one of my responses above…

If we cannot come to faith without the Holy Spirit and his guidance, then is it ever truly and completely us that makes that choice or has that faith? Is it by the power of my will and choice that I am saved? If my faith is a conscious choice on my behalf, then it is an act in and of itself (even if it’s an internal one) and then my saving faith is my own and not a grace given by God.

Eph 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

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@tsbehan Good questions :slight_smile: So, I think it is easy to get caught within a false dichotomy when discussing this topic - either it is by grace or it is by our choice. However, the Scriptures never juxtapose grace and free will in my opinion. It can be our decision and still fully a result of the grace provided by God in Christ Jesus.

Regarding the first question, I don’t think God is particularly concerned about being in control. God’s concern, from my perspective, is that human beings could come to know His love and grace and enter into fellowship with Him through Christ Jesus. If God were only concerned about being in control, He would not have regretted making human beings when He flooded the earth - His heart would not have been filled with sorrow when He wept over Jerusalem. If God’s primary objective was control, I do not think He would have created humanity.

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@Jimmy_Sellers

Thanks for that Jimmy. I take your point and, even if I’m not sure I agree with it, can see how you get there. Even if we start talking about nations, though, a nation is still made of individual people.

There is national speak, because he is talking about the Ethnic Nation of Israel not being saved. Rather, that there is a remnant (of individuals) within that nation that have chosen to follow God. But that remnant was first chosen by God.

I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Rom 11:4-7 “'I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened,’

Out of the nation, God chose for himself a remnant. The elect are saved, the others are hardened. There is an interesting conundrum that only those that are elect choose to follow God.

With regards to the Pharaoh being seen as the nation. I see your point that this might be what happens sometimes, but it is the heart of Pharaoh that is hardened. You may say that God is talking about raising up the nation of Egypt for the purposes of demonstrating his power. I agree with this, but he is in control of that nation and the individuals within it in order to guide it. This does not exclude the choices made and the responsibility of the individuals, but without God being in control do they get to the same place? Even on the flip side, as the Israelites leave Egypt, God makes them favourably disposed towards Israel and they are given gifts when they leave. Is God making a blanket approval of Israel on the “nation” of Egypt? Yes and No… Because it does seem corporate, but to do that he must change the hearts of those in Egypt as individuals.

Jacob and Esau may be representative of nations or themselves… interestingly Jacob, I take it, put his trust in the Lord and was saved. Esau is described as godless in Hebrews 12:16. Maybe they represent nations in Paul’s argument, but they seem to (as individuals) end up in exactly the place that God had chosen for them in regards to their salvation, which I find telling.

@SeanO

Thanks SeanO and I absolutely agree wholeheartedly with your first paragraph. The scriptures teach both God’s Sovereignty and Free will. I do not pretend to understand how this works, exactly, in reality… but they are both expounded and therefore must be true.

I also agree that God is not concerned by his control… but I don’t think that means he isn’t in control of all things either.

This is one of my key questions… if there is something that God does not have control over, then he is not sovereign. But I still have my free choice. This is what I do not fully understand, but actually don’t care that I don’t understand because I take it that God does and I’m fine with it.

But I find the danger of reducing God’s sovereignty in all things by any measure in any area is to limit God. I understand that just because he can do something doesn’t mean he necessarily has to. I also understand at every point that I am responsible for my choices and am not trying to shirk responsibility for that. But my question will always remain that I can only be saved by the power of the Holy Spirit within me and therefore it is by the work of God that I am saved. Therefore is the faith I have the result of my will and choice entirely? I don’t think we can ever say that. This does not mean we are robots, but, maybe like @matthew.western’s ‘finite moral space’ (which I quite like), is just something that we can only see part of and must come to a fuller understanding in heaven.

Bring on heaven!!! :slight_smile:

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@tsbehan Amen! Yes, to be with Christ in His courts! To be with Him is better than honey dripping from the comb and better than answers to puzzling questions :slight_smile:

For me, the Scriptures are clear that God is before all things, above all things and at work in all things for the good of those who love Him. Beyond that I do not see clear evidence.

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I agree but that remnant could have just as easily rejected him.

I agree but in that culture Pharaoh’s heart would be representative of the god’s of Egypt or we have to assume that Yahweh was just pulling everyone’s leg by claim to punish imaginary god’s.

Today if I say universe do you think carbon atoms or sun, moon, stars and a vastness of spaces.

Last I think we differ in the fact that people in the 1st century or the ANE were obsessed with the idea of being saved. There were not. No one was wondering how to be saved in the sense that there was a feeling of lostness only a desire for the feeling of rightness. As a Jew a right standing as a son of Abraham and in Paul’s case the need to participate in his idea of the eschton and for the pagan a right standing with your cultic deity. Remember there was no such thing as religion only the living of life.
I haven’t read ahead so I won’t comment on Romans 11.

Thought you might find this of interest as I think it supports Lennox’s view that this choosing is for purpose.

The word “salvation” is rare, “sanctification” commonplace. More strikingly, the framers of the Halakhah are virtually silent on the teleology of the system; they never tell us why we should do what the Halakhah tells us, let alone explain what will happen if we do. Incidents in the Halakhah are preserved either as narrative settings for the statement of the law, or, occasionally, as precedents.

Neusner, J., Avery-Peck, A. J., & Green, W. S. (Eds.). (2000). In The encyclopedia of Judaism (Vol. 3, p. 1435). Leiden; Boston; Köln: Brill.

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