Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"What If God..."

The role of the prophet, as one speaking for God, was never to argue what was fair. I think those who did try to argue with God about what was fair, often ended up like the prophet Jonah angry with everyone, including themselves. I find it even less so for Christians, namely, that they have no right to argue fairness before God. I believe that is Paul’s point in Romans 9, as he clarifies who God is (Sovereign Creator) and argues for the Gentile inclusion into the blessings of Christ.
Paul’s “what if God…” in Romans 9:22-24, is not so much an interrogative as it is declarative. His point is God’s election (choosing) has a purpose (cf. also Revelation 4:11). God’s purpose in election is to show mercy on whomsoever He wills to show mercy and to harden whomsoever He wills to harden (Romans 9:18). The Bible never denies nor does it try to explain the free-will of man and the Sovereignty of God. God because He is sovereign (which we cannot fully grasp because we are not sovereign) deals appropriately with man’s free-will and man in his free-will is able to live within the Sovereignty of God.
God’s election does not operate on behalf of man because of some meritorious system through which man earns salvation — “…not because of works” (Romans 9:11). In fact, God’s election to show mercy and compassion is not in any way dependent on “human will or exertion” to be real or effective (9:16). Mercy and compassion are God’s choices because He is God whether we think this is fair or not. 

Consequently, the only logical response to the “what if God…” (9:22) choosing to include the Gentiles under the promises of Christ is “it is God’s right” as Creator to include them! Just as it is the potter’s right to determine what use he will make of the clay at his wheel (9:19-21).
I am convinced that we have totally missed who God is any time fairness becomes the basis of our argument for a biblical position or justification for any sinful reaction to an unfair situation. This is a sin- cursed world and if the cross of Jesus says anything it says this world is NOT fair! Why did he have to go to the cross? The point is He didn’t have to — He went willingly on our behalf. Read Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane carefully, note every breath, every word, and every beat of His heart was the Father’s will: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” Nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42). The only response to “Father, IF you are willing” is “your will be done!” Jesus never argued about the fairness of going to the cross for there was nothing to argue on that basis it was the Lord’s will.
When will we get it! Our election by God, to be followers of God, is just that — we are followers! It begins there and ends there! From the before foundations of the world the elect of God, in God’s mind were those who were willing to follow Him. The world is not fair! Yet, the one truth Paul reminds us of in the midst of the unfairness of this world is that there is NO injustice with God (9:14). God’s purpose of election is to “make known His power” and “…the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles.” (9:22-24).
Israel had considered themselves the elite rejecting Jesus as the Christ because he did not meet their expectations of fairness, especially with regard to the Roman Empire. In doing so, they had only proven they were children of the flesh and not children of the promise (9:6-13). God’s election was not of the flesh but of the promise which included Gentiles (and ours by extension). God’s election had nothing to do with any human standard of fairness (which would include a system of merit/works) but everything to do with showing His glory and making known His name. Thus, as Christians, we do not exist to tell God how we will serve him or what we think is best for the church that is an elitist attitude. To the contrary, Christians exist as God’s elect to humbly follow and glorify Him in the church (Ephesians 3:21). In a nutshell, being God’s elect has everything to do with relating and respecting His authority over us.
Remember who God is!

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