Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Potter’s House: Sunday 3/10/2013 / Romans 9:1-5; The Assurance of God’s Election and the Hope of Whosoever Will, Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 16, 2013

Thus far in the book of Romans we have learned many critical truths in regard to the gospel. What is the gospel? What is the relationship between law and gospel? Why do Christians still struggle with sin? We have learned the answers to these very important questions and much more. I believe we have come out of the first eight chapters as changed people. I believe we are better equipped to please God than we were, and here at the Potter’s House, that’s the goal. How glorious it would be to see a difference in who we are on a continual bases. Where there is change there is life.

Now in chapter nine, Paul turns his attention to educating the Romans in regard to the proper perspective on Israel. The apostolic church was predominantly Jewish. Gentiles were accepted into the church grudgingly and with much controversy. It is clear that the manifestation of the Spirit on Pentecost was a confirming sign that would be key in convincing the Jews that God had extended all of the blessings of Abraham to the Gentiles as well. When Peter led the first Gentiles to Christ, he had some explaining to do when he got back to Jerusalem:

Acts 11:1 – Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order:

Let’s pause to remember what we have previously learned in the first chapters regarding what the gospel is. Here it is framed as receiving the word of God. We discussed that right? To accept the gospel is also to accept and commit to God’s truth. Salvation comes part and parcel with a love for the truth. After Peter rehearses the events at Cornelius’s house he concludes with the following:

Acts 11:15 – As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

This is something to keep in mind: biblical, supernatural events always have a purpose. And I dare say practical purposes in helping us in our sanctification. Also, don’t miss what the Jews recognized that the Gentiles have been “granted”: REPENTANCE. Look, as we have learned, salvation is more than a mere mental assent to the gospel of first importance (1COR 15:3). Let’s look at a word study regarding this:

g4413. πρωτοσ protos; contracted superlative of 4253; foremost (in time, place, order or importance):— before, beginning, best, chief (- est), first (of all), former. AV (104)- first 84, chief 9, first day 2, former 2, misc 7; first in time or place in any succession of things or persons first in rank influence, honour chief principal first, at the first.

This is a great opportunity for a little review. We learned that there is the gospel of first importance that people are saved by, and the truth that sanctifies (John 17:17). There is the fundamental gospel that saves and then the full counsel of God that we live by. Salvation is not only believing the gospel of first order, but is a commitment to the full counsel of God because we have been given love for His truth and granted repentance. This is a commitment to a new direction; i.e., God’s way of life. We learned that the apostolic church was known as “The Way.” Hence, receiving the word is the same as receiving the gospel.

But back to my original point which is that Paul spends a lot of time at the beginning of Romans convincing them that they are not second class citizens in God’s kingdom. They are coequals with the Jews. This would have been a hefty revelation for the Gentiles in Rome because the Greco-Roman culture was saturated with a caste system mentality. Paul explains in painstaking detail how the Jews have no benefit over the Gentiles in regard to justification by faith alone. Paul posited his case, and then he begins to articulate how the Jews are to be thought of in regard to God’s kingdom and in relationship with the Gentiles. This begins right where we have arrived in Romans 9:1.

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Paul called the Israelites his “kinsmen.” The word means the following:

g4773. συγγενησ syggenes; from 4862 and 1085; a relative (by blood); by extension, a fellow countryman:— cousin, kin (- sfolk,- sman). AV (12)- kinsman 7, cousin 2, kinsfolk 2, kin 1; of the same kin, akin to, related by blood in a wider sense, of the same nation, a fellow countryman.

God elected Israel to be His holy nation of priests. That was the idea at Mount Sinai. We looked at this in-depth when we interjected three lessons from Exodus into our series. And let there be no doubt about it: this is a national identity that we are talking about. What God wanted to establish on Mt. Sinai will be established, and is established in part in this present age. Peter said that we are presently a holy nation (1Peter 2:9). This means that the Gentiles have been grafted into the Jewish nation, and we are that nation. It is a national identity. The possibility of that ethnicity was threatened after the flood, and God acted accordingly. It was threatened again when the Jews were captive in Egypt, and God acted accordingly. This is a national identity, a nation of priests looking for our own city built by God (2Peter 3:13, HEB 11:10 , REV 21:3). I believe Peter’s use of the word “nation” is to be taken literally. Those who teach that promises were not made to Israel as a nation are dead wrong and this is the premise for the idea that the church replaced Israel. The Lord said the following to Rebekah when she was pregnant with Jacob and Esau:

Genesis 25:23 – Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.

Paul gets into this deeper later in this chapter, but let’s look at some other Scriptures regarding the national salvation of Israel.

DUE 7:1 – “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.

6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Isaiah brings these two ideas together: Jacob as a nation that is elected by God:

45:4 – For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name,

In the same way that individuals are elected, God elected the Jews as a nation.

Remember Romans 8:30?

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Likewise in Isaiah 45:4, we have the election and calling of Israel. God chose them and called them by their name. Does that mean everyone in that nation is going to be saved? No, and Paul explains that later. Yet, that fact does not negate the election of Israel as a nation. And, as we will see, God’s promises in regard to salvation do not depend on our performance. And let me slip this in because it is a major theme of this ministry: the fact that our justification is a settled issue frees us to be aggressive in sanctification. The law of bondage now becomes the law of liberty. Performance has no bearing in justification, but it certainly does in sanctification. Again, we find ourselves harkening back to what we have learned previously. Our blessings are in applying the perfect law of liberty to our lives (James 1:25). The confusion of justification and sanctification equals the mess we have in the American church, and election is a major key to understanding the importance of that dichotomy. Pastors in our day must draw a line in the sand and choose one side or the other. Some have already. As one Reformed pastor I was listening to stated:

Any separation of justification and sanctification is an abomination.

When we were elected, we were also separated and justified (1COR 6:11). That’s definitive sanctification. Glorification is final sanctification. Glorification is guaranteed. Once saved always saved. But was our progressive sanctification also elected? God prepared good works for us to do (EPH 2:10), but did He preordain our obedience? This chapter is about election, ok? And two types of election must be discussed. And we will discuss them here, but while the American church wallows in sewage, the discussion is primarily election in regard to justification. And note this: many who partake in the election debate do not even have a proper understanding of justification verses sanctification and law verses gospel.

The reason the Potter’s House is here is because the American church needs some kind of halfway house for people who don’t want to give up on God, but look upon the American church with utter confusion. And the reason for that confusion is a doctrine that sees progressive sanctification as preordained by God in its execution. In other words, every good work that we do is chosen and preordained by God, and in the rest we are left to our own totally depraved devises in the same way God chooses some for salvation and leaves others to go the way they would go unless God intervenes.

First, we are preordained for salvation, and that salvation is manifested in a point of time by faith alone. Then we must live our Christian life by faith alone as unchanged people who recognize that every good work that “we do” is preordained by God as part of a “golden chain” from salvation to glorification. Our only duty is to hangout where Reformed church stuff is going on and God is going to do what God is going to do. And we wonder why the church is a mess in this country! Listen to what Luther wrote in the Heidelberg Confession, the magnum opus of authentic Reformed theology:

He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand (Theses 24).

Let there be no doubt about it: this is the mentality that American Christianity functions by, and the belief that any good works that we do in sanctification are preordained by God and flow from His sovereignty is efficacious to maintaining our justification. That’s the construct that rules sanctification in our day, and the results are evident. Hence, leaders in our day must get a grip on the election issue and the differences between justification and sanctification. While leaders quarrel over the election issue regarding justification, the American church is procreating masses of children in adult bodies due to election being applied to progressive sanctification. And this is our vision here at the Potter’s House—to bring in and raise up leaders who get this.

Critical to our faith is a right view of Israel’s election, and the relationship of election in justification and sanctification. That is what is on the table in this chapter. We start with Israel as an elect holy nation of priests, and then we will move to election in justification and its ramifications for sanctification which are many. This lesson is the primer.

And it all starts with Israel. Christ said,

John 4:22 – You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Any questions?  Paul states here in our introductory verses,

Romans 9:4 – They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

These named above are all wrapped up in Israel’s identity as a holy nation that we are now a part of. Before we were saved we were alien to all of these:

Ephesians 2:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

This brings us to a discussion of the New Covenant and the very iffy idea that it replaces former covenants and promises. No, how can the Gentiles be formally alienated from covenants that are no longer in effect? “But Paul, didn’t the Hebrew writer say that the New Covenant replace the old?” Well, let’s find out:

Hebrews 8:13 – In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Some aspects of past covenants are growing old, but they have not yet passed away. Why? Well, let’s look at exactly what the New Covenant is:

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

35 Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name: 36 “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.” 37 Thus says the Lord: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.” 38 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”

The New Covenant is a covenant that was made with the nation of Israel alone and will stand forever. Its full consummation is yet future. Until just today as I was putting the finishing touches on this study, the whole idea of Christ being elected (ISA 42:1, 1PE 2:6) was perplexing to me, but I think that is no longer the case. An elected nation needs an elected king, right? A king that will, as Isaiah wrote, bring forth justice to the nations.

We yet have much to learn in this chapter about election, and this chapter lays the foundation for understanding in chapters 10 and 11. If Israel is an elect nation, why are all Israelites not saved? Paul will explain. Why did God bring Gentiles into this nation? What is the relevance and relationship of all the covenants to the final consummation of the New Covenant? Will there be a literal 1000 year kingdom on Earth? And if this kingdom is literal, why is there a reinstitution of Old Testament worship? What is the relevance of election to justification and sanctification?

The blessed apostle will teach us.Lake Pictures0001

Potters h. 2

One Response

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on March 16, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.


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