Romans 9

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Romans 9

Verse by verse commentary
by Andre Dellerba

Introduction

The entire Bible is God's Word to us for us to respond to God’s Plan - our choice. God has given us the ability to choose away from His will or choose His will.  But He will hold us accountable for the choices we make. Rom. 1&2 sets up the rest of Romans.  Rom 3-8 Talks primarily about God’s Plan; Rom. 9 is about the Israelites lack of response to the plan; Rom 10-15 talks about our response to the plan.

What people get confused over is a 3-staged process to accept Jesus Christ as Owner, Lord.  They either highlight or emphasize or place more importance on one stage than the others:

1.   Plan - God made the redemption plan available to all (John 3:16). And Holy Spirit shines light on the plan so people can see their sinful state, the need for Jesus, and accept the plan of God (John 16:9).
2.   Qualifier – People respond to His plan – either a yes or no.  This happens a few times in our life. We get the opportunity but the yes is ours to give.  This is part of God’s plan, our will to surrender to Him (Rom. 9:32-33; 10:13; Matt. 11:28; 1 Peter 1; Matt. 22:1-13). 
3.   Executed - When they accept the plan by faith then God executes it by sealing us with Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) and we do the works that God originally assigned Adam to do as we surrender to Him (Rom. 8:1-28), that we walk in good works (Eph. 2:8-10).

Here is one of many verses talking about the first 3 stages to salvation Romans 1:16 Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God (Stage 1 – Plan) unto salvation (Stage 3 – Executed) to everyone who believes (Stage 2 – Qualifier).  When a person does the qualifier (Eph. 1:12) then they are considered the elect of God, i.e. a Christian, child of God, predestined by God (Eph. 1:5; Matt. 22:13).  If they don’t believe He hands them over (Rom. 1:21-24).


Rom. 8 talks about choosing to walk in the spirit “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1) and what this looks like “brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:12-13). It is a choice to walk in the spirit. God helps us through Holy Spirit, who also helps us in our prayer (v26). Paul then steps back to talk about how much God loves us and He provided the plan for us to be transformed into the image of His son (v29-39).
 

Romans 9

Rom. 9: (1) I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,  (2)  that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.  (3)  For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,  (4)  who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;  (5)  of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.


Rom. 9:1-5: Paul is saddened for his kinsmen (the Israelites). Why? For God revealed Himself through them with law, adoption, promises, service and they (a large majority) haven’t recognized The Seed (the Messiah). So Paul goes on to explain the seed and how the Seed came through Israel. The Israelites reject the Messiah because they are saying God made us like this. Paul spends most of the time taking about the implication of those who reject the Seed – God’s plan – uses Esau and Pharaoh as the examples in History. Then ends Rom. 9 talking about the choice they have: either reject the plan - rock of offense or accept the plan - they believe on Him. So ask yourself as you read Romans 9 “WHY is Paul telling them this - to inspire them to do what?” Is it to tell them tough luck God has made you like this or is He encouraging them to reflect on history and change? It is the latter, this is the conclusion of what Paul is talking about in Rom. 9.

Rom 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.  (2)  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  (3)  For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  (4)  For Christ is the END of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”


(6)  But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,  (7)  nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED."  (8)  That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

v6-8 Not all who are born of Israel are born of Israel - but those who are of the Seed, the Seed (the promise of the Messiah) is what they should be focusing on and not the lineage of Israel. Those who are of Christ these are the children of promise, these are the sons of God. Paul sets them up and then in Rom 10:9 tells them how they can be of Christ. Not Isaac but IN Isaac (the Seed) – huge difference.  It is not about lineage but about the Messiah.  Also Jacob is the starting point of Israelites (Jacob’s name was changed to Israel), thus uses the starting point to show them the focus is on the Messiah (the Seed) from the very beginning.

(9)  For this is the word of promise: "AT THIS TIME I WILL COME AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON."  (10)  And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac

V9-10 What’s the word of promise? The Messiah would come (“I will come”) by the will of God and noted by the miracle – for example, Sarah would conceive at the old age revealing that it is ordained by God and have a son (Isaac).  But the seed didn’t stop at Isaac but continued. Now Rebecca had 2 Sons, where would the seed go through? Notice the importance or emphasis isn’t about either of the people but on the promise, the plan of God. This establishes the importance. It is about the plan of God not the people.


11)  (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),  (12)  it was said to her, "THE OLDER SHALL SERVE THE YOUNGER."

v11-12 - God chose the seed to come through Jacob and said, "Older will serve the younger before they were born."  He said this to Rebecca (Jacob was Rebecca’s favorite and Esau was Isaacs. God has no favorites but He chose Isaac to carry the seed). Later Jacob tricked His father Isaac and received the blessing and Isaac unknowingly repeated the same thing the Lord had said before he was born (Gen. 27:29). God set the course of the Seed but Esau didn’t honor it, and actually rebelled against it. He didn’t want to serve but wanted to lead, and ended up wanting to kill Jacob so that those blessings given weren’t going to happen. He didn’t agree with God’s plan and never served Jacob, neither did most of his descendants. Paul is comparing the Israelites to Esau who didn’t recognize nor honor the plan of God. They are focusing on the flesh, the lineage and missing the point of the Messiah being the focus.


(13)  As it is written, "JACOB I HAVE LOVED, BUT ESAU I HAVE HATED." 

v13 – God loved Jacob but Esau He hated? Just because He felt like it? No, because Esau rejected His plan by not serving Jacob. He not only didn’t hear his mother, but became bitter towards Jacob and sold his own birthright for food (Heb. 12:16). Later didn’t obey his father, but actually dishonoured him, “Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had (Gen. 28:8-9).

Some may ask, “Did God know that Esau would do this?” Whether He knew about it before or not, who knows. There are times in the scripture where God seems like He didn’t know the outcome, maybe He chose not to know the future of an individual e.g. He regretted making Saul King (1 Sam. 15:11; 35) and for delivering them like the Israelites from Egypt and then wanting to kill them (Ex. 32:10). The point is whether He knows or chooses not to know is not for us to know, we are to respond to His plan.

“Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated” wasn't written before Esau was born, neither was this in reference to Esau only.  Those who received Pauls’ letter would have known this because they studied the scriptures.  In the modern church most people have forgotten Paul’s statement 2 Tim. 3:16, and only focus on the New Testament scriptures, thus much error in doctrine has crept in.  This was written 1000+ years AFTER Esau was born. It was in reference to not only Esau but all his descendants who were like Esau and rejected the plan of God (Mal. 1:2-3). Paul is comparing these Israelites who are not surrendering to the Messiah (Rom. 10:3-4) to Esau.

Mal 1:1-4 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. "I have loved you," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the LORD. "Yet Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness." 4 Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places," Thus says the LORD of hosts: "They may build, but I will throw down; they shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, and the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever.


(14)  What shall we say then - Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 


V14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Meaning is God unfair? CERTAINLY NOT, God chose the plan, we are not to choose our own plan or to try another way like “follow the laws to get righteousness” (Rom. 10:3-4) or “Lineage” (Rom. 9:5-6). We are to submit to His plan/His way that He established in and through the Messiah. They probably came across this scripture Deut. 18:18-19 “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.  (19) And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.”


(15)  For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE COMPASSION." 

V15 First you need to understand that mercy and compassion are both very good. Mercy is not giving the punishment they deserve, and compassion is helping them out in a situation they are in. Did God show mercy or compassion on Esau? In the beginning both, He still blessed Esau because Esau had enough (Gen. 33:9; Matt. 5:45) and He also gave his descendants Mount Seir as an inheritance and told Israel not to try take it (Deut. 2:5). Then after lots of longsuffering with their rejection of His mercy and compassion (His plan revealed in the Messiah), He became angry with them.

What is interesting with this statement is that God said this to Moses AFTER God was going to show Moses His Manifested Presence (His Glory) Ex. 33:18-19. When Moses sees His glory, he will know His Character and then understand His plan – God is very merciful and compassionate. God is GOOOOOOD!

 

(16)  So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 

v16 It is God who shows mercy, it is He who we are to seek mercy from. Having our own self mercy doesn’t mean anything. Thus it is not our will or our effort but it is His mercy (His plan) which should be our focus. Just like Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

Paul explains that Israelites (not all) are doing their own thing and not submitting to the plan.  In Rom. 10:1-4 “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.  (2)  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  (3)  For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their OWN righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  (4)  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Believing is a conscious choice we make – God has established this from the Garden of Eden. And even after, when He told Cain to rule over sin (Gen. 4:7). God wasn’t joking, or being sarcastic, God says what He means because it was possible.  Deut. 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Did God mean this? Yes.  However every man’s desire has been self serving not God serving (Rom. 3). So God provided the plan.


Esau didn’t respond correctly to God’s plan but tried his own way and put in his own effort in, this was useless. Remember Esau used his own will and his own effort and didn’t submit to God’s plan. In Heb 12:14-17 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, (see the effort and the will is on God’s plan not ours), without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.”

This does not mean a sinner makes no effort to be part of His plan - we are to make an effort (Matt. 11:12; Matt. 22:1-13 Rev. 2 & 3; Matt. 25:1-13; Luke 16:16; 13:24-27; Matt. 7:20-24). Matt. 11:12 Jesus says, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” He is saying that apart from God’s plan we are wasting our effort and desires, it is useless.  Acts 17:30 echoes this, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.”

A side note - Believing is our choice to accept His Plan or not. When the Pharisees asked Jesus, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"  (29)  Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." (John 6:28-29). If you don’t? The wrath of God abides on you (John 3:36)

(17)  For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I HAVE RAISED YOU UP, THAT I MAY SHOW MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MAY BE DECLARED IN ALL THE EARTH."   

V17 for “this very purpose He raised Pharaoh up” – what purpose? That God reveal His plan to the people, i.e. declare His name in all the earth.  What did He do to reveal His plan? He raised Pharaoh up. Now the questions are – 1) Was he raised up from birth for this purpose, meaning God planned his destruction before he was born? If this is the case God made Pharaoh to destroy him, which implies no “will” by Pharaoh to choose.  Or 2) God raised him up to a position of power? If this is the case, he places in authority whom He chooses. Through scripture God has done this but not everyone in authority is of God. Or 3) Pharaoh was prideful already and raised him up every time he buckled under the pressure of the plagues/signs? If this is the case God had enough of Pharaoh and instead of destroying him, He chose to use him.

So let’s first establish which of the 3 it is. Looking at the Greek word “Raised” in OT (through the Septuagint) and the NT, it NEVER refers to before birth or raised from birth. 10% of the time referred to as raised to power/authority. Most of the time, 90%, it is referred to as raised from a position of rest or death or collapse (e.g. 1 Cor. 6:14; Job 5:11; Dan 12:2). So from the word “raised” the answer is #3 “Pharaoh raised from a position of collapse/hardened Him”.

So now let’s look at the context - who made this statement and when? This statement was made by Moses in the MIDDLE of the plagues not before (Ex. 9:16). But the tense is past tense “have raised” so when did God raise him up/hardened him? The day before (Ex. 9:12) after the 6th plague. It was in reference to that specific hardening. However God hardened Pharaoh  before this – so when was the first time? At the start of the plagues Ex. 7.  Recall God told Moses He was going to harden him, not that He has but that He will, “And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I WILL harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go” (Ex. 4:21).  Notice – the FUTURE tense “I WILL Harden – not that He has hardened but that He will.  Hardened and raised is the same thing per Rom. 9:17-18. So it is definitely #3 “Pharaoh raised from a position of collapse/hardened Him”.

Even before God hardened Pharaoh, Pharaoh was already hard against God’s plan. We know from scripture that Israel crying out to God because “Pharaoh” was suppressing them (Ex. 2:23-24). God had enough of the bully Pharaoh but needed to work His power through a man, Moses. Amo 3:7  “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” God could have wiped him out but decided to use him to glorify His name. God knew that when the pressure was on, Pharaoh would buckle so He hardened him so that he stood strong against the pressure.

Now we know God hardened Pharaoh at the start of the plagues and not before he was born.  Now the question is, did God harden him all the time during the plagues or was it dual – meaning did Pharaoh harden his own heart? It was dual, Pharaoh already dealt wickedly with Israel before and 2 times the scripture says that Pharaoh himself hardened his own heart not God; Ex. 8:15 and 9:34, and 6 times God propped him up/hardened him. Even the Philistines many years later knew that the hardness was a result of their own doing, not God’s. “Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?” (1 Sam. 6:6).

God shows mercy to all, but there is a point where God gives them over to their uncleanness so that they repent and when they don’t then there is a tipping point, destruction point. He is slow to anger and great in mercy, but those who continually reject His plan His wrath abides on them (John 3:36).  Romans 1:21-26 sets Romans up, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  (22)  Professing to be wise, they became fools, (23) and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.  (24)  Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness (notice He didn’t give them up before but AFTER they made the choices to rebel), in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, (25)  who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  (26)  For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.”

Paul is drawing the comparison of Israel to Pharaoh, like a slap in the face to the Israelites.  They are rejecting the plan of God (the Messiah) and they too will reap the consequences. Rom 9:33  As it is written: "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STUMBLING STONE AND ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME."


(18)  Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. 

v18 He hardens and has mercy not based on how He feels like it or before they are born. But it is based on what Paul was saying prior “THEREFORE” (therefore is very specific to the “very purpose”) meaning God hardens and has mercy based on how people respond to His Plan (Rom. 1:21-24; 10:2-4). Like he was saying Esau who rejected serving Jacob, God ended up hating; and Pharaoh who rejected Israel and then God used by hardening Him to declare His name. He could have given many examples – but chose what Israel abhors (Pharaoh and Esau) and saying they too are like them if they don’t submit to God’s plan.


(19)  You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?"

V19 Why does He find fault when He hardens and has mercy on who He desires. That’s what YOU will say, not what Paul will say but YOU will say. Why? Because it is the wrong question, the real question is, why aren’t they responding to His plan not why are they ending up like this. They are looking at the symptoms and not the cause.  The reality is people can resist the will of God – this is not what Paul is saying but what they will say to Him. Paul is saying they ARE resisting God’s will. Trying to absolve their responsibility. Recall Stephen said the same thing to the Israelites Acts 7:6-37 and concludes with Acts 7:51 "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.”

By the way throughout scripture people have resisted God – started with Adam.  Due to time, here are 3 examples:
• Asaph said they limited God’s work in their life because of their choice not to submit to God.  “Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 78:41). 
• Jesus said the made the word of God (in their life) no effect by their traditions (Mark 7:13). Did you ever think something could make the Word of God powerless in their life? Well their tradition, their choice did because God will not violate choice.
• Jesus (Matt. 13:58) did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

(20)  But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" 
(21)  Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

V20-21 Thus why aren’t they responding to His plan, "Nay but, O Man you are you to reply God” Paul is saying that by that very statement they are resisting God. Then talks about the “WHY” made me like this vs. why don’t you obey the plan!  “Shall the thing (us) say to him that formed it, "WHY have you made me like this?" Made me like what? Made me Israelite, molded me like I am now therefore I don't have to do anything. Esau was made to serve Jacob and didn’t want to thus God hated him. The potter (God) has power over the clay (them) to mold them based on their response.

v21 The potter (God) based on our inactiveness, our neglect to hear and obey His word - like Esau, like Pharaoh, He has the power to judge us now. Honour or dishonour. The humble to God’s plan will be exalted and those who find their own way are prideful and will be humbled (Ez. 21:26).  Why? To bring them to repentance! They are not vessels of destruction - there is a tipping point where they become vessels of destruction.  The dishonored vessel doesn’t mean they are vessels of destruction, they still have time to repent.

Jer. 18:1-10 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying:  (2)  "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words."  (3)  Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.  (4)  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.  (5)  Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:  (6)  "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the LORD. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!  (7)  The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,  (8)  if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.  (9)  And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,  (10)  if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

So what does this look like to Christians (look at the condition for vessels of honor) - In 2 Tim. 2:20-21 this honor is in the sight of God.  Those who do the plan of God these MAKE THEMSELVES vessels of honor (He is the one working with them – fashioning them into his son but this is our part of his plan) “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”


(22)  What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 

V22 – Paul now gives us an example of what God can do, not saying it is the only way – “IF” God wanting to show His wrath and make His power known, gives us an example of those who rebel against His word. Why does He make examples of those who rebel? To get us to repent. Once Saul was made a vessel of honor but he rejected the plan of God. God turns on Saul and then God repents that He made him king of Israel (1 Sam. 15:35).  So what does God do with vessels of dishonor that cross the line to vessels of destruction? Either 1) Leave them to their own devices; 2) He can wipe them out instantly if they come against Him directly. Like killing Herod instantly for making himself god, or like Ananias who lied to His face. Or 3) He can bring the consequences on them for their arrogance like Neb in Daniel 4 (this is mercy causing them to repent). Or 4) He can hand them over to their own desires, no more trying to stop them and they will feel the consequences of their own decisions like Rom. 1:21-24, 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 1 Tim. 1:20. Or 5) He can use them for the vessels of Mercy. Like Paul is saying, “ENDURING with them”. Meaning He wants to wipe them out but is longsuffering/patient with them so that He can use them to help the vessels of Mercy. Like enduring with the hardness/pride of Pharaoh, to show His name to the world and especially to the Israelites.


(23)  and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,


V23 - To make known what? The "riches/the benefits" of His glory ON the vessels of mercy.  This plan of God was from the beginning. They are called vessels of mercy because they are seeking His Righteousness (Hos. 10:12). Not that the vessels of mercy are prepared beforehand but that the benefits/“riches” of His glory are prepared beforehand for the vessels of Mercy. God’s Objective from the very beginning was for God to be with us. Intimacy with us (John 17:21), even the name "Immanuel" means "God with us” (Matt. 1:23).


(24)  even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 
(25)  As He says also in Hosea: "I WILL CALL THEM MY PEOPLE, WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, AND HER BELOVED, WHO WAS NOT BELOVED." 
(26)  "AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, 'YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,' THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD." 

V24-26 – EVEN US whom He called - NOT ONLY the Jews but ALSO the Heathens/Gentiles. The result of ALL people who accept His plan will benefit from it. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (31)  because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead" (Act 17:30-31).


(27)  Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL BE AS THE SAND OF THE SEA, THE REMNANT WILL BE SAVED. 
(28)  FOR HE WILL FINISH THE WORK AND CUT IT SHORT IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, BECAUSE THE LORD WILL MAKE A SHORT WORK UPON THE EARTH." 

V27-28 – because of the choices of many only a remnant will be saved (read Matt. 22:1-13). It is not God’s will that a remnant be saved but it is a result of man’s will. Many of those who should know better, the Israelites through which the plan of God was revealed, have rejected the plan, these are the vessels of destruction. The plan of God is this “Those who accept the Messiah as their Lord will receive His glory (His presence)”, those who don’t the wrath of God abides on them (Rom. 9:33; John 3:36). Why is God so merciful? God desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that ANY should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9)


(29)  And as Isaiah said before: "UNLESS THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT US A SEED, WE WOULD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, AND WE WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE LIKE GOMORRAH." 

V29 - God left us the Seed – the Plan, the Messiah, so that we don’t come like Sodom and doesn’t want to destroy us like Gomorrah. And giving all the opportunity to respond to His plan. But how can they respond if they haven’t heard (Rom. 10:14). Thus the plea of Paul for laborers


(30)  What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith;  (31)  but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.  (32)  Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.  (33)  As it is written: "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STUMBLING STONE AND ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME."

V30-33 How do we access the Plan of God – through Law? Or Through faith? Through faith like father Abraham (Gal. 3). The law is good and they are unable to attain it, it shows them their weakness and the need to surrender/have faith in the Seed. The Seed fulfilled the law and was made the sacrifice for those who surrender/ give themselves to Him.  And whoever of these that BELIEVE in the plan, believe in the Seed/the Messiah, will not be put to shame. Those who do not believe, reject the plan or try another way like the Israelites (Matt 22:1-13), will stumble and the wrath of God abides on them (John 3:36).


Ch 10 Paul goes on to tell them how he desires that Israel be saved. Because they have zeal, which is good, but not according to knowledge because the scripture reveals the Messiah who they are to trust in and confess. However like he has been saying throughout Romans 9, they are seeking their own way (Rom. 10:3).

Rom 10:1-17
(1)  Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.
(2)  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
(3)  For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
(4)  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
(5)  For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "THE MAN WHO DOES THOSE THINGS SHALL LIVE BY THEM."
(6)  But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' " (that is, to bring Christ down from above)
(7)  or, " 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
(8)  But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
(9)  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
(10)  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
(11)  For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME."
(12)  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
(13)  For "WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED."
(14)  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
(15)  And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!"
(16)  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?"
(17)  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Why do people Suffer?


“Why is there suffering?”  This is an age-old question that can be simply answered – We suffer because of the sin that is in the world and/or our authority to choose (the ability to choose and make choices, our freewill). 

Who created the earth? God (Gen. 1:1).

Who established the physical and spiritual boundaries for the earth and world to operate in? God (Gen. 1, 2 & 3).

What is the difference between the earth (H776) and the world (H8398)?  The earth is physical like rocks, rivers, sand and environment.  The world is everything that moves on the earth, in the physical and spiritual. Generally referred to as civilisations, people, on the earth. 

There are 3 philosophies people believe but only one is right:
1.      God is ruling the world
2.      Satan is ruling the world
3.      People are ruling the world

Let’s take a look at each:


So who is ruling the world


1) God is ruling the world? No. 

So why hold to this position, where does it come from? Here are 4 things to consider (rooted in the doctrine of Saint to free up people from responsibility and power they have been given through Christ)

o Deep down it is more freeing for people not to take responsibility for their own actions (the man who hide his talent).

o God is all knowing therefore He has already established what should take place, His will is being done. By this statement they really don’t know God - they don’t consider that they are putting something in their authority to know that isn’t theirs to begin with “the future for individuals” – they are to stick to what God said we are to do and NOT hypothesis that He knows and therefore He will perform regardless to what I do. The disciples asked Jesus (Acts 1:6-7), “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, "It is NOT FOR YOU TO KNOW times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” So don’t arrogantly hypothesis that this or that person will be saved – you focus on the commission. Rom 10:6-7, “But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' " (that is, to bring Christ down) or, " 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (Rom 10:8-17). But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?" So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

o His will be done regardless therefore we don’t really need to pray. Not true, His Will is not being done – His will all be saved and they aren’t.  His will wants to be on earth as heaven and it isn’t (is sickness or destruction in Heaven).

o The word “God is Sovereign” is filled with doctrine biases. This word isn’t in the original Bible text, and the same Hebrew word is the same word used for Nebuchadnezzar and Herod.  The problem with this word everyone has their own definition.  It gives people a license to put “grey.”  Due to personal biases this can be whatever we want – e.g. If God wants to kill and rape people He can – He is Sovereign, He can do what He wants.  From the outset this looks right until you understand that God will NOT go against His Word, which we will cover. This doctrinal word isn’t as simple as “Trinity” which means “Three Persons in one Godhead”, nor “Rapture,” means “taken away”.  But the definition of Sovereign has caused people to negate the Word of God because they use their own definition instead of the Word of God. And when the Word comes into conflict with the definition they “Hold it in Tension” (means I don’t know but yet I know the answer.  If you say a certain position then the answer is God is Sovereign – Hold in Tension – see they believe they know but say they don’t know and also say that you don’t know because deep down they believe they know.

o For example, some say Sovereign means “God is ruling the world and the will of all, total controlling of everything that happens.  Therefore He is responsible/allows all the mishaps in the world and responsible for sin. The Devil is His “lap dog” and does His will too.”

o Some say Sovereign means “God is the Owner of all but not responsible for the decisions people make. He has given this right of dominion to humans and because He is the owner He can judge them based on their decisions, either now or judgement day.” 

Whatever our personal definition we may have concerning “Sovereign” let’s forget about the name “Sovereign” because it causes more confusion. A definition may sound honouring to God doesn’t make it so. When it goes against His Character (His Word) then it is unscriptural. Let’s stick to His Word.


Let’s test out the position of “God is ruling the world – i.e. all situations and will of people” (through the Old Testament lens)

• Murder, rape and molestation would be considered God’s Will. And the people doing it would be sinning and God would be the author of that sin.  If we say God is making or allowing people do what He wants how can He judge them for the very thing He Willed them to do?  I speak as a fool because this is how they think - sin grieves God (Gen. 6:6). In the beginning the first commandment he gave after the Garden of Eden was “RULE over sin” (Gen. 4:7). Do we believe God is lying and it is not possible? God doesn’t want people to be raped, murdered and thus His commandments speak against it. God will not cause it to happen to someone so they turn to Him as some believe. “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).  Do we really understand what no darkness means? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11). 

• •         Why would He have given us the Torah, when the Torah substance is all about Choices when He actually gave us none or only a few?  The key choice is the choice to submit to God or Self.  Why would God tell people to choose life or death if they couldn’t?   God said, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deut. 30:19).  The choice is ours to make He doesn’t force us.  He wants us to make the right choice and choose Him but we are the ones that either say, “yes” or “no” to His plan.

But I hear some say.  Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin (Rom. 5:12-14), all are sinners and can’t make the right choices.  This is not true!! Yes none Christians can make some right choices.  All have the ability to make the right choices but it is impossible all the time, thus the need for Christ.  Think about it – If Adam was good, no sin in him yet He had the ability to sin.  It comes down to choice, God has given us free-will just like Adam. Adam sinned in his heart against God before he ate of the tree of good and evil not after, that is before he received the knowledge of good and evil. He ate knowing he was disobeying God (Gen. 3:5; 1 Tim. 2:14). Adverse is also true. It is impossible for someone to do everything right (not sin). Similarly it is impossible to do everything wrong. If it was impossible to make right decisions because of sin then God would not have said to Cain, “If you do well, shall you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at the door; and its desire is for you, and you shall rule over it” (Gen. 4:7).  If it wasn’t possible to rule over sin then God wouldn’t have said it.  It comes down to choice – do we want to do good or not.

“And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I, Jehovah your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:1-2). Again highlighting it is possible to be Holy, not sinless but Holy.  Some have confused Holiness with Sinless and with righteousness.  They are not the same.  Sinless is not thinking, doing nor inheriting one sin (Jesus was and is the only one who was and is sinless).  Holiness is not an action nor is it inherited nor is it a thought.  Holiness is a state of being, having our motivation to do God’s Will, a willingness, a deep desire to do what God expects from us (found in His Word) and based on our choices (Matt. 6:25-33). Seek ye first …  You will notice that through Lev. 19:1-5 God talks about our Holy motive that will result in our response to that Holy motive, i.e. fear (motivation) …, turn (result) …., Holiness is love for God first then others sums up the law and the prophets (Mark 12:29-30). While righteousness is having “Right standing with God” – Under the Old Testament it was a person who fulfilled these 2 things regularly – 1) Walked with God, feared God (Gen. 6:9) and 2) Made animal sacrifices (Gen. 4:3-5; 8:20). In the New Testament it accepting Jesus as our Owner that makes us righteous (2 Cor. 5:21).


• If “God is ruling the world – i.e. all situations and will of people”? (through New Testament lens)
There would have been no need for Jesus to come to earth and sacrifice Himself to God for the world because the people’s will would already be doing God’s Will. God didn’t need to sacrifice His Son, He could have just selected who He wanted and that was it. He could do what He wants so He could have said – you and you I want to Heaven and be clean no need for His Son to die…..See the error of this doctrine.

• Then does it really make a difference if we do what Jesus Christ told us to think, say and do? Should we really spread the Gospel to the world (Matt. 28:18-20) wouldn’t people be saved regardless of what we do?  If they were meant to be they would be?  Obviously no, unless the gospel is preached how will people know (Rom. 10:15).

• Why are people going to Hades and then Hell? Is that God’s Will for them before they are born? If God sent someone to hell how could He judge them if He was the One making the decision for them in the first place and then holding them accountable to the decisions that He imposed on them?  Is that the God we know of in scripture? Why would He open books on judgment day to judge the people if He made them do whatever He wanted, the works they did would be the very works He made them do in the first place? (Rev. 20:12). No.  It is His will that everyone be saved (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; Matt. 18:14) but His will is obviously not being done or else they wouldn’t be going to Hell (Rev. 20:15). We are responsible for ourselves and responsible for spreading the good news – not how people respond to it.

• Why does Holy Spirit convict the world of not believing in Jesus Christ instead of only the selected few, isn’t He just wasting His time focusing on the entire world (John 16:9)? He wants all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), because He loves all (John 3:16). And if you love your father HOW MUCH MORE GOD!!!! Or are you arrogantly believing you love and want your Father in heaven more than God (Luke 11:11-13).

• We don’t need to pray at all because it makes no difference.  His Will is being done regardless of what we pray.  So why pray? 

• Why did Jesus tell us to pray like this; “Your Kingdom come” because it hasn’t come yet physically on earth.  It is future tense, it came in the spiritual world through Christians (through the Blood of Jesus Christ and by Holy Spirit in them) BUT will only be manifested physically on the earth after the tribulation period (1 Cor. 15:23-24; Is. 9:7). “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).  Kingdom doesn’t mean that peoples wills change so they will be nice to us but on the contrary they may be against us, Jesus told us His people will be persecuted.  Therefore based on God is ruling people’s will, His wants His people/Children to suffer. We all know from scripture that this is not true.

• Jesus says, “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”.  We know that God’s Will is being done in Heaven, and Heaven is a reflection of everything that is done right so there is no rape, murder or sickness or suffering.  So is God’s will being done on earth as in heaven today?  Obviously not, for we know it is God's will that everyone be saved and live life on earth to the fullest (John 10:10).  But this is not happening. What is stopping the manifestation of God’s Will on earth?  Mankind’s choice.

 

2) Satan is ruling the world? No.

Why do people believe he has total authority over the world?  Because of a few scriptures; prince of the world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and prince of the air (Eph. 2:2). 

• Prince of the world speaks of being able to influence people through sin (1 John 3:8).  Who are the kings of this world? Humans (Gen. 1:28 – for they have dominion and authority). Jesus didn’t exercise his authority as the Son of God but the Son of Man (John 5:26). Kings have a higher status than princes but princes can influence Kings.

• Prince of the power of the air speaks to us of having influential power to initiate a thought in us as it comes from the spiritual world (Eph. 6:12). “For though walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ; and having readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled”  (2 Cor. 10:3-6).  But we are the ones who cast it out.  If he ruled how can we have the authority to cast it out?


Let’s test out the position of “Satan is ruling the world”.  If Satan is ruling the world then his will would be evident today:
• Why are there many who tell the truth? Satan is the Father of lies (John 8:44).
• Why are many following God’s Word, showing love and able to choose to accept Jesus Christ?
• Physical life would have been destroyed long ago. For the opposite of love is hate and it would only take a few buttons to initiate total world wipeout.  Satan is known as the one who steals, kills and destroys as this is his nature (John 10:10) – it would a total wipe out if Satan had his way.


3)      People are ruling the world? Yes.

So overall whose will is being done in the world?  Ours, mankind. Whose will is God and the devil influencing? Ours.  Who is making the choice to act on it or not? Us. It comes down to the choices we make. 

Are we ruling out God? Certainly not, God will hold us accountable for those choices and judge us accordingly.  God is the Owner of the earth, not man.  Man is the ruler of the world.  So when man refutes God as Owner by placing themselves in the place of God then God instantly destroys them or brings them low (Acts 12:22-23; Dan 4:27-31) or bares long with them and sometimes uses their rebellion to set His people free (Rom. 9:22).


If mankind is ruling the world then our will would be evident today:

• Who is responsible for the decisions to rape, murder, molest? Mankind.  Mankind is responsible for sinning, not God or the Devil.

• God has already called so who is responsible in choosing/accepting His Plan? Mankind.

• Who is responsible for the choice of going to Heaven or Hell? Mankind (either they want to be subjected to God or not, i.e. either accept Jesus Christ as LORD “OWNER” or not). “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20)

• Why are we to pray to God? To connect to Heaven so we bring His Will, His Kingdom on earth through our words and actions.  Jesus told us to pray that our Heavenly Father’s Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. 

• Did God give mankind authority to rule the world? Yes and God will not violate the command that went out of His mouth.  God is Who His Word says He is.  He puts His Word above His name because God’s Character is based on His Word (Ps. 138:2).  He does not contradict what He says and says what He means.  Therefore to say that God can do anything He wants is an error because He will always operate within His Word so that His name is glorified.  If God broke His Word once then He could break it again.  He remains faithful no matter what we do (2 Tim. 2:13).  Nor has God said Mankind no longer has dominion over the earth.

In the beginning when God created man and woman He gave them the authority to rule over life on the earth.  Gen. 1:26,28 (KJV with Strong’s # so you can look the meaning of the words up), “And God430 said,559 Let us make6213 man120 in our image,6754 after our likeness:1823 and let them have dominion7287 over the fish1710 of the sea,3220 and over the fowl5775 of the air,8064 and over the cattle,929 and over all3605 the earth,776 and over every3605 creeping thing7431 that creepeth7430 upon5921 the earth776.”

The plan of God was to create mankind in His likeness in terms of ruling power and character and He did.  He gave mankind dominion over everything that moves on the earth.  Over “every” “thing” “that moves” “on the earth”. He then tells mankind in verse 28 the same thing but He adds the qualifier to the thing that moves on the earth it must be a “Living thing” (world).  “And God430 blessed1288 them, and God430 said559 unto them, Be fruitful,6509 and multiply,7235 and replenish4390 (853) the earth,776 and subdue3533 it: and have dominion7287 over the fish1710 of the sea,3220 and over the fowl5775 of the air,8064 and over every3605 living thing2416 that moveth7430 upon5921 the earth776.  Whatever moves over the earth mankind is responsible to subdue “bring under control”, and have Dominion “Reign and Dominate” it.  It isn’t just a status God has given mankind but also a commandment.  It hasn’t changed nor been removed.  The only difference now is humans have sin and we are not able to rule effectively but we still have the authority. But thanks be to Jesus who removed the sin for those who open the door (a choice to open the door). Do you hear the knocking? Are you really saved?

David said to the LORD, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You visit him? For You have made him lack a little from God, and have crowned him with glory and honor.  You made him rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yes, and the beasts of the field; the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, and all that pass through the paths of the seas” (Ps. 8:5-8 MKJV).  And a psalmist said, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's; but the earth He has given to the children of men” (Ps. 115:16).  Notice - not the children of God but given it to everyone and will hold them accountable for the choices they made. So to take this authority back would mean God would violate His Word and mankind would not have choice nor be responsible for the choices they make. 

To clarify, God gave the authority to rule on the earth only to mankind who are in a physical body – those who are dead don’t have this authority.  God has given mankind this earth to rule over, it is His plan not ours.  His purpose is that mankind implements His Will on the earth all the time.  But when man sinned God’s Will wasn’t done all the time.  That’s why death was a consequence of the fall, besides being separated from God they will also be separated from this authority.  When the body dies they lose the authority to rule and become accountable to God for all the choices they made while in their earth suit (body).  That’s the reason they need to get bodies when they reign with Christ on the earth, i.e. to re-establish the initial plan God had for Adam and the woman.  God’s Word will hold true forever. 

God could have stopped Adam and the woman (she was only named Eve later) from eating of the forbidden fruit but He didn’t.  God is all knowing so He knew what Adam was about to do so why didn’t He stop him?  Because Adam had already made up his mind, choosing to disobey God and eat based on the motive of wanting to be like God.  For God to stop Adam would mean that God would violate Adam’s authority that He just gave him. 


A side note before continuing (another interesting fact)
Christ had to come to earth and become a man.  If He didn’t then He couldn’t rule over the earth.  Jesus is still in a human body so He has the authority to make intercession for those on earth, before that He DIDN’T. When Jesus was on earth, even though He was God, He couldn’t exercise His authority as God nor as the Son of God.  It would have been illegal.  He only exercised His authority as the Son of Man.  “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:26-27). 

Freewill was God’s Idea from the very beginning, He implemented it and works through it. Here are some of verses to consider.

PRE-CHRIST
7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Gen. 4:7
After the fall mankind still had the ability to rule over sin. Or was God joking or knowing Cain couldn’t.

19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. Deut. 30:19
Is it possible for mankind to choose life or not? 

CHRIST
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. – Rom. 10:12, 13.
Who calls upon the name of the Lord? Does God make them?

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Matt. 23:37
Not God would them not, but they themselves would not.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16
Notice the world – not just a select or an elect group but the world. 

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. - 1 Tim. 4:10
Believing is a choice to respond to the word that an individual makes Rom. 10:17

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36
If God made people believe then why would He judge them?

Then said they unto him, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said unto them, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." - John 6:28,29
Here Jesus clearly tells them that the work of God is one thing they are responsible for – they don’t earn it but they respond to Jesus.  When they do everything else falls into place as they walk it out (wise and foolish virgins). 

Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev 3:20
Who does the opening – God or man?

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands ALL men everywhere to repent Acts 17:30
He commands all mankind to repent, so why don’t they?

God desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth 1 Tim. 2:4

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that ANY should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9).
God’s desire is that all men (mankind) to be saved, why aren’t they?



How does God and Mankind interact

As mentioned God has placed physical and spiritual laws and principles in the beginning, in and through which everything needs to operate.  If mankind breaks the physical law, it impacts our physical bodies (e.g. jump off a building – our body will be damaged).  Breaking the spiritual law impacts our spiritual bodies (e.g. refusing to adhere to God - our spirit is damaged). God “Gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:25-27).


Can God do anything because He wants to?

No because He needs to operate through His Word or through His People. In Ezek. 22, God, in His mercy, wanted to help a group of people who had broken spiritual laws.  And because they broke the laws they were going to receive the consequences of destruction.  God’s Word was in place and only Mankind had the authority over the world to stop it if they made that request to God.  But the mankind that makes the request needed to be in right standing with God, i.e. someone who was righteous. Or the people needed to repent like Nineveh. If He couldn’t find anyone to intercede then they would receive the consequences.  He didn’t find anyone, so even though He personally wanted to stop the destruction that they brought on themselves by the very act of their own will, He couldn’t.  God said, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own head” (Ezek. 22:30-31).

Here is another “Surely, the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). 

Another: Like Asaph said they limited God’s work in their life because of their choice not to submit to God.  “Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 78:41). 

Another: Jesus said the made the word of God (in their life) no effect by their traditions (Mark 7:13). Did you ever think something could make the Word of God powerless in their life? Well their tradition, their choice did because God will not violate choice.

Another: Jesus (Matt. 13:58) And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

 

Is it possible to resist God’s influence continually?

Of course! Even though they were chosen, Adam did it, Israel did it. Same as, how is it possible for a person not to accept God when He is continually influencing that person? It’s the individual’s choice.  Stephen told the Pharisees, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51).  They ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit, is plural/ongoing.  His continual influence in their life, His continually outstretched arm to help them but yet they still chose not to accept Him. 


Will God cause us to sin so that we can see destruction and see the error of our ways?

No we sin on our own and reap the consequences but even in this when we sin He sends an escape route – sometimes we take it and sometimes we don’t. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1Cor. 10:13). This has so badly been misquoted – read the context – it is talks about Israel sinning and God still putting out his hand providing an escape route – sometimes they reject and sometimes they accept. Same with us – we are the ones who sin and fall into temptation but even in the midst of it He makes an escape route. But if we don’t take it we DO NOT BARE it like Israel falling away from God and many other Christians (2 Peter 2:22).

“And this is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).  But yet many sin – another proof that God is not controlling us or else we wouldn’t sin.


a. Is there such a thing as predestination for a person, i.e. no matter what a person does they will be saved if they are meant to be saved, i.e. fate?

No. It is true that God has a special plan for everyone that is born (Jer. 29:11) and His plan is that all be saved (Ezek. 33:10-20; John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; Matt. 18:14) so that they can experience the blessings promised to Abraham (Gen. 22:18; Rom. 4:16) and do the work that He designed mankind to do from the very beginning (Eph. 2:8-10).  He takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11).  “Truly, then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now He strictly commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He appointed, having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). BUT it is a choice a person makes to repent or not, God doesn’t repent for them.  The Psalmist said to the LORD, “My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your law” (Ps. 119:109).


b. Is there such a thing in scripture as “predestined”?

Rom. 8:28-29.
Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (If He knew people wouldn’t want to come to Him then He wouldn’t have made a plan, it is not for us to know but for us to respond for then we are predestined e.g. He calls, we say yes, then He chooses),

Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called (He called Israel and many people but only a few responded Matt. 22, those who responded and came these are the ones He chose, the choosing happened after they responded to go not before.)

these He also justified, these He also glorified (Through the power of the Blood, Word and Holy Spirit 1 John 5:5-7). 

What people get confused over is a 3-staged process to accept Jesus Christ as Owner, Lord.  They either highlight or emphasize or more importance on one stage than the others:

1.   Plan - God made the redemption plan available to all (John 3:16). And Holy Spirit shines light on the plan so people can see their sinful state, the need for Jesus, and accept the plan of God (John 16:9).
2.   Qualifier – People respond to His plan – either a yes or no.  This happens a few times in our life. We get the opportunity but the yes is ours to give.  This is part of God’s plan, our will to surrender to Him (Rom. 9:32-33; 10:13; Matt. 11:28; 1 Peter 1; Matt. 22:1-13). 
3.   Executed - When they accept the plan by faith then God executes it by sealing us with Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) and we do the works that God originally assigned Adam to do as we surrender to Him (Rom. 8:1-28), that we walk in good works (Eph. 2:8-10).

Here is one of many verses talking about the first 3 stages to salvation Romans 1:16 Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God (Stage 1 – Plan) unto salvation (Stage 3 – Executed) to everyone who believes (Stage 2 – Qualifier).  When a person does the qualifier (Eph. 1:12) then they are considered the elect of God, i.e. a Christian, child of God, predestined by God (Eph. 1:5; Matt. 22:13).  If they don’t believe He hands them over (Rom. 1:21-24).

Yes it is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-9) and all we said was Yes Thankyou and surrender! But let’s not discount the “Yes, thankyou and surrender” that we are obligated to do and walk in or we will be considered as UNWISE virgins.


c. Are we robots God has programmed for some to accept Him and some to reject Him?

No, just like some angels have the ability to choose, so do we.  If God wanted robots with Him for eternity He would have created them but He didn’t.  He wanted people to be with Him, subjected to Him because they choose to and want to.  It is about intimacy.


d. How does God rule in the world apart from spiritual influence on Mankind?

He also established that all authority is under Him, He is always higher (Rom. 13:1).  “… know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He will” (Dan. 4:25 MKJV).  Those who are in authority still have their own will and if they are not performing His council in this position He will soon enough remove them by judgment, especially if they make themselves like God (Acts 12:22-23; Dan 4:27-31; and the Anti-Christ in the end times - 2 Thess. 2:3-4; Dan. 9:27; 12:11; Matt. 24:15-23; Mark 13:14-19).  God influences and judges them harsher than those who aren’t in authority.  God is the owner regardless of whether we want to work for Him or not, we are accountable for what we did with what He gave us.  It is His earth.  “For to whomever much is given, of him much shall be required. And to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).


e. Is it possible to accept Jesus Christ as your LORD and later turn from Him? Yes. Another way of saying this is once saved is always saved? No

Even if we were written in the Book of Life we CAN also be blotted out by renouncing Him (Matt. 10:33) or not wanting to obey Him at all (John 14:24; Luke 8:21; Matt. 7:21-23) or by continuing to hurt our brothers and sisters (Luke 12:42-46; Matt. 24:44-51).  “The master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:50-51). 

Jesus speaking to the church in Sardis (and to us) about their walk in the world saying, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Rev. 3:5).  What is the most important thing we as Christians need to overcome? Continue to believe in Jesus Christ no matter what others, situation or the world may say even unto death, “For everything that has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5 MKJV). What happens if they don’t overcome, i.e. stop believing in the name Jesus Christ because of some pressure and they die? They will be blotted out of the book of life.  Just like Jesus indicated to the saints in Sardis – he who overcomes will not be blotted out, indicating that for Christians it is possible to be blotted out at their end. So overcome!  Read Matt 25:1-13, parable of the ten virgins (referring to Christians getting ready for the marriage supper) and those of them who didn’t overcome were the foolish ones, “those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.  Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us!' But he answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

Peter affirms it, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A DOG RETURNS TO HIS OWN VOMIT,"(Prov. 26:11) and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire." (2 Peter 2:20-22). “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Rev. 21:7).