Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1
Thesis: God's irresistible intentions do not constitute a "flaw" in God.
Introduction: We have been considering Paul's presentation of the trustworthiness of the Word of God as a most fundamental aspect of man's ability to "live". In that consideration, we have come upon some elements of Reality that many men find seriously objectionable.
One such element is God's declaration that He has taken "works" off the table in respect to His decisions. He has not created an "open" creation that has the fundamental character of being "whatever" the choices of created personalities make it to be. Man's dissatisfaction with God on this point led Paul to raise the question of 9:14. Inherent within that question is the determined intention of man to attempt to "force" God into the "open creation" concept by claiming that it would be "unrighteous" to create a "closed system" that has predetermined characteristics and a predetermined end. But, the claim is false because "righteousness" is irretrievably tied to "Justice" and "Justice" only deals with one question: Does God ever do anything to man that is unwarranted by that man's own actions?
A second such element is God's declaration that, since man has, by his own actions, forfeited every level of "blessedness by works" under "Justice", He retains the legitimate "right" to extend mercy, or not. Without mercy, man's behavior is predetermined by his sinfulness and his end is predetermined by Justice. But the extension of mercy opens the way for the Kingdom of Righteousness to be populated by human beings with that "predetermined end" being established by mercy. But, as with God's refusal to let men be the "gods" of an "open creation", men are dissatisfied with God on this point. Thus, we find in Romans 9:19 that Paul anticipates the typical response of men and introduces his answer.
So, this evening we are going to consider Paul's words regarding this second major matter of man's dissatisfaction with God.
December 2, 2008
- I. The Most Fundamental Reality: God's Irresistible Will.
- A. According to Paul's words, men recognize that he has been writing of "the irresistible will of God".
- 1. He clearly established this thesis by all of his words regarding God.
- a. God has "a purpose according to the standard of divine election" that is going to stand: Romans 9:11.
- b. God has given to men the reality that underlies all "Scripture": a Self-revelation that includes both the Person and His Works which cannot be frustrated.
- 1) 9:15 -- He says to Moses...
- 2) 9:17 -- the Scripture says in respect to Pharaoh...
- 2. In the words of the "objector", God has a "will" that cannot be "resisted".
- a. Paul uses the New Testament term for "powerful intent" that is established/frustrated by only one factor: the degree of the application of power to the intent.
- b. Paul introduces a New Testament term for the concept of "setting oneself against" something.
- c. Paul makes his statement in terms of man's awareness that his power cannot "stand against" God's omnipotence.
- B. According to Paul's words, some/most men are fundamentally "dissatisfied" with this reality.
- II. Two Secondary Realities.
- A. Men, in their complete self-absorption, do not -- indeed, can not -- relate to the most dominant characteristic of godliness expressed in Scripture and history.
- 1. The Bible says "God is Love" in a way that stands above most, if not all, other self-characterizations.
- 2. Paul was adamant in 9:1-3 that the essential nature of this "love" is the willingness to pay any level of sacrifice required by the situation in view of "blessedness".
- B. Men, in their complete self-absorption, never see the pervasive hypocrisy of their thoughts and actions.
- 1. The attempt, in 9:14, to accuse God of "unrighteousness" is itself "unrighteous".
- 2. The attempt, in 9:19, to accuse God of unfairly "finding fault" is itself an act of "finding fault".
- III. The Other Issues.
- A. For man to "say" anything (as 9:19 opens), he must claim to "understand" something.
- 1. Any level of "true" understanding requires the oft noted "big picture".
- a. One cannot put a piece of a puzzle into the wrong puzzle and have understanding of the larger picture.
- b. This element often assumes that the one seeking understanding is "outside of the picture" in terms of any true perception: he has nothing "at stake" (he is simply looking at a partially completed picture and seeking to "complete" it).
- 2. Any level of "true" understanding also requires the one seeking to understand to be aware that he cannot be "outside the picture" in any case and he cannot have any predisposition to "force" pieces to fit in a way that allows him to be the "author" of the picture.
- a. This is at least a part of Paul's introduction to Romans 9: the selfless love that offers any level of sacrifice required for "blessedness" for the "beloved".
- b. This kind of love allows the one seeking to understand to be divested of personal agenda issues that tend in the direction of "forcing" the pieces of the puzzle into places they do not belong.
- B. For man to have a problem with God's enforcement of an irresistible will, he must first have his own "will" to put in its place.
- C. For man to challenge God's "fault-finding", he must first confuse the issue of Justice.
- 1 . This question has echoes of 9:14 built into it (any issue of "judgment" assumes a foundation in "Justice").
- 2. In the revelation regarding the Justice of God, there is no indication that a person's own choices are not his/her own choices even when those choices are heavily influenced by the forces of "temptation".
- a. James 1:13-14 plainly declares two facts.
- 1) God never tempts man to do evil.
- 2) Man has an inner enemy.
- b. Since this is true, there can not be any sense in the "hardening" of men by God that smacks of Him "forcing them to do evil" contrary to their own inclinations.
- 1) Even Romans 1:28, as a declaration of God's execution of hardness, does not imply "force".
- 2) It simply declares that He sealed them in their own chosen direction.
- 3. It is interesting to this point that men do not "object" to the influences of "mercy"; they only "react" to the influences of "hardening". (Where is the "love" in this kind of self-serving selectivity?)