“And he believed the Lord, and he
counted it to him as righteousness.”
Today is the day. All week, we have been at the question of why God would go through this whole experiment of mankind, given the fact that humans have choice between good and evil, yet we deliberately choose evil. Therefore, no man may enter the presence of God. If God knew all along that this would happen, why go through the exercise in the first place? It boils down to why there is evil in the world.
Of all the explanations I have heard or read, the one that makes the most sense to me is that of Reformed Theology. Some of you will have no clue what that means. Others will gasp and say, “Egad! He’s a Calvinist!” Mind you, this decision didn’t settle well with me at first. I don’t see how it can because it goes against everything we are taught, by both the secular and religious world. I believe it is what the bible teaches.
Now, if you recall, I prefaced all this with Romans 1 and, by implication, Romans 3. Unless you have a come to grips with the corruption of man, one will simply reject this teaching. Why? Because you will think that there is inherent good in humans and that we are able to choose God of our own free will. Yet do humans have inherent good? Let’s look at a couple verses.
Mark 10:17-18 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are 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!
Isaiah 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
The realization of our true condition is very, very difficult to accept. Why? Because everyone teaches that there is inherent good in people. The bible tells us quite differently.
So, if that is true, then we still have the nagging question of why. Why would God do this? This leads us to Romans 9 which is probably one of the most difficult chapters in the bible to digest.
At first, this chapter may seem a lesson to the Jews as to why God is including Gentiles into the Kingdom. It is, but it is much more than that. It also gives us a look into God’s basic foundation of creation, the reasons behind it all. Let’s start with the second paragraph of the chapter.
Romans 9-6-13 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls – she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
I think we can understand the idea that a traitor is not part of the team even though he wears the jersey. That’s what he’s getting at when differentiating between the flesh and the promise. Those of the promise are Abraham’s offspring, the ones who will ultimately inherit the kingdom of God. But an interesting thing happens when we look at who are children of the promise. God has a “purpose of election” in which he chose Jacob over Esau – before either were born! It had nothing to do with what they did in life, their works, but it had everything to do with what God decided before they were even born.
Paul talks about this in Ephesians 1:4-5
Ephesians 1:4-5 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will
The fact that God decided our spiritual state before the world was even made does not negate the fact that we are also sinful, just like the rest of the world. No, this simply means that God decided that he chose Jacob before he even had an opportunity to earn it. Likewise, he chose not to choose Esau. God certainly could have, but he didn’t.
But that’s what Paul says. What about someone else? Well, we have whoever it was that wrote Hebrews, likely not Paul. We simply don’t know who that was.
Hebrews 12:16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
Now, before you try tear this apart because of Esau selling his birthright, remember that you and I have already done the same thing. We all have sold our birthright. We, too, are without excuse (Romans 1:20). And what about repentance? I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that God didn’t even give him a chance. Doesn’t that fly in the face of everything we have been taught? Yes, it does. But doesn’t Jesus himself tell us to repent? Yes, he does. Then how can Hebrews 12:16 make any sense? That’s a big topic but let me just put a couple verses out there that would tell us there is more to repentance than we might think.
Acts 11:18 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.”
2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
I’m sorry, but we will need to leave it here, again. Can we settle on these two points? That each human, by his/her own will, disqualifies them self because our actions are against God and that God is the one who grants repentance? Ok, then. Let’s move on tomorrow.
Father, whew! We are trodding into ground that will not sit well with many. Please let my words be kind. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers