Monday, June 16, 2014

The Case of Sovereign Choice

Last Wednesday during a recent LEGACYouth discipleship gathering, one of our youth brought up the issue of sovereign choice, based out of Romans 9. The main question asked was: does God predetermine "vessels of destruction" to resist His will and be destroyed for the greater good (a classic point on the predestination debate)?

The quick answer is "Yes and no." (i.e. 'Yes' to the notion of determinism, but 'no' to the idea God is conditionally select in the execution).

Here's why...

When we drill down on this passage, we find the answer centered on unconditional mercy, as opposed to wrath or justice. For when God tells Moses, "I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion" (v. 15), He is not implying exclusivity, as this would contradict the unconditional nature of His grace. Conversely, Paul is emphasizing the fact God knows exactly what will happen in the future, and because of this, we can rest secure in both the gift of free will and the pathway He's called us to walk.

So when we apply these realities to the following verses (primarily v. 16-23*), we find:

a) God most certainly uses opposition to make His eternal power and divine nature known (see Romans 1)

b) When God's wrath does manifest, it's designed to ultimately direct man towards the wonder of who He is!

As the case with Pharaoh, though God may have temporarily hardened his heart for the sake of the Israelites' freedom, God also gave him multiple opportunities to turn away from his stubbornness. Thus, it's not accurate to say Pharaoh was mired in a hopeless situation, predestined for eternal separation from God, since we see evidence of God relentlessly working on his heart.

Truth is: God longs to extend His redeeming love to every man, not just the elect elite. After all, why would God want to limit hope to a case by case basis? Wouldn't such action go against His very nature?

Also, since God truly was, is and is to come, then we can realize:

a) God works through the good, bad and ugly of humanity and history so His plans and purposes come to pass

b) Free will and predestination co-exist.

Bottom line: No matter who we are, we were raised up so God's power may be displayed in and through us. And in the case of sovereign choice, we can know God's power in our lives through the perfect blend of wrath and justice within His mercy. And true, while God is omniscient, it doesn't mean His selection is exclusive. For even people who temporarily find themselves on the wrong end of God's victorious plan can find the eternal hope predestined for Him.


           
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*"So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. For the Scripture tells Pharaoh:


I raised you up for this reason so that I may display My power in you and that My name may be claimed in all the earth.

So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden. You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory." ~ Romans 9:16-23 (HCSB)

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