Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4
November 25, 2008
Lincolnton, N.C.

<454> Thesis: The "details" are only properly understood under the "right" larger picture. Introduction: Last week we considered Paul's "conclusion" in regard to God's declaration of His incontrovertible prerogative: what happens to men is not ultimately the result of their "desire" or their "maximized efforts". That this is so is inescapably tied to the reality of a cause/effect creation in which "mercy" is a divine option that, when exercised, significantly alters the "effect" side of the cause/effect stream of life. Since God can, and does, inject mercy into the stream at various points along the path, man can guarantee nothing by "wanting" or "running". This evening we are going to move one step further by looking into the rationale of the opposite of "extending mercy". This opposite is called "hardening" and it is the point of Paul's appeal to Exodus 9:16. This is considered by many to be a "hateful" doctrine because they think they have some kind of "inalienable right" to determine what God "has" to be like if He is to get their loyalty. But there are two sides to every coin and there are two issues involved in viewing any biblical revelation with distaste. One of those issues is what we typically call "the big picture" and the other is generally a matter of keeping all biblical revelation in "balance" with its details. Therefore, this evening we are going to look into what Paul really said when he wrote 9:17-18.