God the Potter, I. An Irresistible Will

I have told our Bible study a number of times in the past couple of weeks that my preferred method of going through Romans 9 would have been to cover the entire chapter in one session. However, since our group does not typically have eight good hours left in them on a Friday night, we have had to break the chapter down into its natural paragraphs. This method, in retrospect, has proven quite helpful, because studying each individual section has helped to highlight the progression of the apostle’s argument.

In our first study on vv. 9:6-13, the apostle focused on God’s sovereign choice of and through whom the Promise would be fulfilled. This paragraph by its nature focused on Abraham and his immediate descendents and how God defied all human laws of primogeniture and chose Isaac and Jacob in order that his purpose of election might be demonstrated (v. 9:11). The section also included the quotation from Malachi 1, which read, “Jacob I have loved, and Esau I have hated.” We saw that this hate in its original context was not merely temporal, but it was eternal, for the prophet writes, “[Edom] may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.”

Our right understanding of the apostle led us into his rhetorical question and its explanation in vv. 9:14-18: “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!” (v. 9:14). We saw that the apostle, instead of appealing to the wisdom of man to justify God’s dealings with Edom, appealed to holy Scripture, which said, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Ex. 33:19). By this, the apostle shows that God has never acted contrary to his Rule of mercy, whereby he gives mercy to whomever he wills according to his good pleasure (cf. Jonah 3:6-10). Not only this, but to whom he does not give mercy he also hardens as he demonstrates in Pharaoh. Thus the apostle concludes, “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (v. 9:18).

Some might object, “You have clearly misunderstood the Apostle’s teaching here, for it contradicts other Scriptures.” Might I then respond by saying that you who object might have misinterpreted those Scriptures which you believe contradict these holy verses. For it is only this conclusion that justifies the Apostle’s response in v. 9:19: “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” There is no other conclusion apart from this one—you either accept it or you do not. Many do not, which explains why I have seen published Sunday School literature for the book of Romans from a “reliable” source that skips over chapters nine through eleven, which is quite pitiable if not damnable (cf. Rev. 23:18). Knowing that it is God who penned these words through the apostle, I therefore advise one to be wise in his responses to the doctrines of this text.

Next: God the Potter, II. Vessels for Honor & Dishonor

Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study

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