Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Nature of God's Election, Part I-C

Why does Paul quote Isaiah 28:16? Read the following verses in Romans 10:
12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, (T) since the same Lord (U) of all (V) is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Rom. 10:12-13)

The reason why everyone who believes will not be ashamed, or disappointed, or humiliated, or “deceived” is that “there is NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN JEW AND GREEK.”
Remember our study of Romans 9? We talked about Jacob and Esau, why Jacob was chosen over Esau. As I said then (and I will reiterate), Jacob and Esau IS NOT an instance of salvation, of God saving one over the other; Jacob and Esau serve as SYMBOLS of the Jews and Gentiles, with Esau representing “Israel” and “Jacob” representing the Gentiles. The fact that these “twin brothers” are used as symbols of the two nations shows that God intended both to be a part of His family. We read these words from Paul’s pen to the Galatians:

6 Just as Abraham believed God, (E) and it was credited to him for righteousness, (F) (G) 7 so understand that those who have faith are Abraham's sons. (H) 8 Now the Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and foretold the good news to Abraham, (I) saying, All the nations will be blessed in you. (J) (K) 9 So those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, (L) who had faith. (Galatians 3:6-9)

Paul tells us that “the Scripture FORESAW that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and FORETOLD the good news to Abraham…” So the Gentiles were always meant to be included as part of Abraham’s family—and they become “sons of Abraham” by faith. Therefore, when Paul uses the reference to Jacob and Esau, he is doing so to show the “spiritual kinship” of the two nations (although the two brothers share a PHYSICAL kinship between themselves). This kinship between the Jews and Gentiles will set the stage for Romans 11, where the Gentiles are called “a wild olive shoot” and are “grafted” into the vine (Rom. 11:17).

Romans 10:12 says that the Lord does not CHOOSE one over the other, PREFER one over the other,

“since the same Lord (U) of all (V) is rich to all who call on Him” (Rom. 10:12b).

First, let’s notice that the Lord is described as “The Lord of ALL.” It doesn’t say here that he is the Lord of SOME, but of ALL. If this isn’t made plain enough, we find at the end of verse 12 that the Lord will accept “ALL who call on Him.” The condition for salvation is to “call on Him.” This, then, makes election CONDITIONAL in nature—election only comes about as a result of confession and belief.

The idea of conditional election smacks in the face of those who argue “unconditional” election. In fact, the idea of unconditional election is inconsistent with the rest of Scripture when you consider that, from Romans 10, faith has ALWAYS been the condition for salvation! Clearly then, Calvinists ARE NOT reading their Bibles!

I have been blessed to actually perform in-concert with Keith and Kristen Getty (Irish songwriters and performers) at the institution I currently attend. Keith and Kristen Getty have written a song called “Across the Lands” with a chorus that is fitting for our theological discussion:

“You’re the Author of creation; You’re the Lord of EV’RY MAN; and Your cry of love rings out across the lands” (“Across the Lands”; words and music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend. Copyright 2003 from ThankYou Music).

The lyrics above tell us that Christ is the LORD OF EVERY MAN, not just the Lord of SOME men! And, if this is true, then when Paul tells Titus in Titus 2:11 that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to ALL MEN,” this cannot mean that God brought salvation to all CLASSES of men, but EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL!

In verse 13, Paul uses another Old Testament verse to show that God HAS NO FAVORITES:

13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Rom. 10:13)

There is no favoritism with God! All who call out to the Lord will be accepted. This verse is a reference from Joel 2:32—

32 Then everyone who calls
on the name of Yahweh will be saved, (BX)
for there will be an escape
for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
as the LORD promised, (BY)
among the survivors the LORD calls. (Joel 2:32, HCSB)

Notice that verse 32 takes place within Joel 2, where Israel has been prophesied destruction. Yet and still, in this same chapter, God pleads with her to repent:

12 Even now—
[this is] the LORD's declaration—
turn to Me with all your heart, (Z)
with fasting, weeping, and mourning. (AA)
13 Tear your hearts, (AB)
not just your clothes, (AC)
and return to the LORD your God.
For He is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger, rich in faithful love,
and He relents from sending disaster. (AD)
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent (AE)
and leave a blessing behind Him, (AF)
[so you can] offer grain and wine
to the LORD your God.

So the Lord pleads with Israel to turn back to Him: “turn to Me WITH ALL YOUR HEART…TEAR YOUR HEARTS, not just your clothes…” (vv. 12, 13).

So when verse 32 talks about Israelites calling on the name of the Lord, those who call on His name are RESPONDING to the Lord’s call for Israel to repent.

Joel chapter 2 also mentions the Day of the Lord:

1 Blow the horn in Zion; (A)
sound the alarm on My holy mountain!
Let all the residents of the land tremble,
for the Day of the LORD is coming; (B)
in fact, it is near—
2 a day of darkness and gloom, (C)
a day of clouds and dense overcast, (D)
like the dawn spreading over the mountains;
a great and strong people (E) [appears],
such as never existed in ages past (F)
and never will again
in all the generations to come. (Joel 2:1-2, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

The Day of the Lord is described as “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and dense overcast.” It is a dark day, a day with no sunlight, a day of sadness and tragedy, a cloudy day. It is a day of judgment; however, in THE SAME CHAPTER, the Lord cries out to the children of Israel to return to Him! And I think Joel 2 is the perfect passage to be used by Paul here in Romans 10: to show us that, in the same way a judgment day (Day of the Lord) was declared in Joel, that the FINAL FULFILLMENT of that day will come again in the future; and, just as the Lord cried out to the children of Israel to repent, He cries the same cry for repentance again here in Romans 10. And all who call on Him, including the Jews, would be “saved,” spared from the destruction of the coming Day of the Lord (day of judgment), the Day of God’s Wrath.

As we have seen, Paul’s intent was to show that the Old Testament had ALWAYS FORETOLD of the way to salvation by faith. This then, should come as no surprise to the Jews. They had spent all their energy trying to keep a Law that REVEALED within itself (i.e., Leviticus 18:5) the IMPOSSIBILITY of keeping that Law. If only they would listen…

Part II will cover the “present” state of the Jews (that being the time of Paul’s writing the letter), and why the Jews had not received salvation. Part III will cover the idea of whether or not there is future hope for the Jewish nation.

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