Saturday, February 6, 2016

Romans Chapter 9

I'm teaching Romans in our Bible Study and I kind of hit a wall when it came time to go through Chapter Nine.
Romans 9 has some imagery in it that has been used for centuries to defend "Predestination", the thought that God chooses who goes to heaven or hell (if those are terms you can relate to) almost on a whim.
That God shows favor on some individuals and others he damns for no other reason than He wants to.
I guarantee you that I am no scholar on this subject.
There are people (perhaps you are one) who can rattle off a defense of Predestination or one of Free Will.
There seem to be some terms for these two positions based on their most notable defenders, Calvin and Arminius. I've saved you some trouble by providing that link.

My point here is not to defend one position or the other and I don't care to argue them.
I am probably an Arminian in some people's eyes because I believe in Free Will.
I also believe that there are some people who just won't respond to the Gospel and will suffer the consequences.
I also believe that you do not have the ability to look at any person and guess whether they will/can or not respond to the Bible. So you treat them all the same.
Paul the Apostle was a murdering scumbag killing and torturing Christians as much as any ISIS dude today.

Here is the thrust of my blog post today.
When you read Romans 9, you come to some verses that are used to defend the notion that some people, if not all, have no choice in whether they will respond to God's offer of Grace and Forgiveness.
These verses in particular (NIV which is not my preference but is easier to read and the full chapter is here):

13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
15 For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 
17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”
21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?

Now, at first blush, it looks like God is describing whether someone has a choice in their salvation, right?
But in reading this chapter, over and over, asking God for some understanding (which is a pretty good idea to keep in mind when reading His Word), I noticed something.

This chapter opens and closes speaking of a certain group of people, the Jews.

Why would Paul interrupt his train of thought about the Jewish People to begin talking about personal salvation?

Let's say that these verses then refer to the Jews as does the rest of the chapter.
What does that do for our understanding?

It occurred to me, while discussing this with my class, that the question on the lips of most religious Jews at the time of the writing of this chapter is "What happened?"
I read someone say that this was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, but that doesn't appear to be the case. The destruction was about 72 AD and this was written about 20 years earlier.

So What  Happened? Or better yet, "What didn't happen?".
The answer might be that they were wondering where the Messiah was.
Daniel had set a timetable (the 70 Weeks of Daniel) that predicted roughly when the Messiah would show up. There was great expectation of his arrival.
This prophecy may have had an influence on the Wise Men of the East and their decision to follow the star.
Remember the question of John the Baptist, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?".

So at the time of the writing of Romans, the time for the Messiah to appear had come and gone.
The Romans were still governing Israel, and Jesus (who had been widely acclaimed as the Messiah) had been crucified and buried.

What happened? Where was the deliverance of Israel?
To a believing Jew (a Christian of Jewish descent) the question was very important.
If Israel was God's Chosen People, then why do they appear to be unchosen?

This would explain Chapter 9.
We are not talking about personal salvation, we are talking about Israel and God's purpose for it.
It had such promise and now it appears to be cut off.
But Paul, in Chapter 11 assures us that that is not the case.
"I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself,"

So What Happened?
Romans Chapter 9 describes a process by which the path to The Promise is narrowed down.
The path to Christ.
First Abraham, then one of his two sons, Isaac, not Ishmael.
Then Jacob (Israel), not Esau (God didn't hate Esau, that verse refers to Esau's descendants, the Edomites who were not Israel).
So the promise was now fulfilled in Christ.
The delivery had been made.
What would happen to the people who had made the delivery of whom Paul says (in verse 4):
... to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Were the Jews cut off? No!
They had the promise of Christ (and could have joined the Body of Christ) but because of their unbelief they were rejected.
What complaint might they have?
Well, Pharoah (the bogeyman of Jewish history) was raised up to exhibit God's glory (as an example)  just as the Jews were. And both fell due to unbelief.
Pharoah's heart was hardened by repeated exposure to the Word of God, through Moses (what we call the Law), just as the Jews in Jesus time were. The hammering on an unyielding surface only made it harder (like hammering steel does).
So who are they to complain?
God made them as a people to have a place of honor (producing Christ) and, due to their unbelief (in rejecting HIm), a place of dishonor (the clay analogy).

So in closing (I've spent hours on this and you may have stopped reading at the Post Title), let me say that if you read Chapters 9-11, you see that God's intent is to point out his relationship to Israel and the purpose of the Law, something Paul started discussing in the first chapter.

The purpose of the Law was to bring us to Christ  (we need a Savior) and I believe Paul starts equating the Law with the Jews in subsequent chapters.
The Law, the Jewish purpose, was to deliver to us Christ "the end of the Law" not the death of the Law but the final point, the endpoint, the fulfillment of the Law.

So, the Jews, the delivery service of Christ, have served their purpose as a "Chosen People".
They brought the vehicle to us.
Now they can either get in and ride with us or wave to us as we leave them behind.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Saturday.

Woke up and started carousing the blogs, coffee in hand.
Created a little post for Facebook:
Then my favorite radio shows came on and I started calling in.

Then the host of Trigger Talk hosted the next show for the absent host and I called in to respond to a thread of the conversation about the use of "BB" guns for self defense.

Next Matt Clark of the ClarkCast and I talked about Trump and the debates.

Then, my friend Gary Wellings of The Drift (a publisher of a local newspaper) mentioned me on his show and I responded with more about Trump, 
He supports Trump and is well aware that I don't :) 

So then Scherie and I were about to go to the range when I got notified that I had to secure a door at work, which is in the opposite direction from the range, but near a gun store some friends of mine shoot for in competition.
I wanted a .22 to go with a lot of ammo I had recently acquired, but as I said on the radio show, I didn't know what to settle on.
God is good.
I've always wanted a Luger.

And I have one.

Stopped for dinner at a diner we like on the way home.
Z: We had Ribs, Greek Salad, Broasted Potatoes and great service.

And now I'm blogging.

Life is good.

I pray it is good for you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Date Night with the Wife.

My favorite restaurant is Haab's in Ypsilanti, MI.

I know the owner from having eaten there for 30 years.

Mike told me about this event coming up and made a reservation for Scherie and I for last night.

An evening of this and dinner.

I love big band.
They did some Glenn Miller, some Ellington, Art Blakey.

They are the Depot Town Big Band.

We'll be back.

Hopefully the chatterboxes who seemed to come for some other purpose than listening to good music will be somewhere else.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Difference

I was on Bennett talking with him about this today.
Much has been said about democrats like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton (links point to articles on the subject) not being able to describe the "Difference Between a Democrat and a Socialist".
And rightly so.
Now it's coming to haunt Hillary as we see the rise and acceptance of a "Democratic Socialist", Bernie Sanders, posed to take her lunch away.
The funny thing is that Bernie is still not a member of the Democratic Party.

 Sanders, Bernard - (I - VT) Class I
332 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5141

He only caucuses with the Democrats.

I said all that to say this.
What is the difference between a conservative and a Republican?
And I know the difference. I've heard you all rant on it. And I agree.

What prompts this is the National Review issue attacking Trump.
I am so glad to see this.
And to the critics who say that this is the Establishment attacking Cruz?
Dana Loesch? Tom Sowell? Glenn Beck? Mona Charen? Stephen Hayward? 

So, Bernie is not a Democrat and is a socialist, and is kicking Hillary to the curb. 
Similarly, Trump who was never a Republican til recently and not a conservative is tromping Cruz, et al.
Why is Trump doing so well?
I hear so many say, "I like what Trump says. He's sticking it to the establishment!".
But there is no There, there.
"Oh, he'll pick the brightest minds. It'll be HUGE!".
But what is HIS mind? What will be the mindset of the minds he chooses?

I don't get it.
I've got smart friends here, that seem to support Trump.
What happens after Trump gets elected?
He won't pick Cruz as veep and wouldn't listen to him if he did.
Who will check this narcissist if in power?

I'd like to hear your opinion.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Omnibus Explained

A couple weeks ago, the Omnibus was passed by congress for which (new to the position) Speaker Paul Ryan has received a ton of grief.
Many are calling for him being challenged in the next election by a more conservative candidate.
The fury of resentment at the passage of this bill has been directed at him and others.
We sent a Republican Congress to stop this stuff.
We ousted Boehner to stop this stuff.

A friend of mine hosts a radio show (The Drift) on our local conservative station WAAM.
They have an online presence and I highly recommend you check them out.
I co-hosted a show with him last summer in which I helped interview Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07) concerning the TPP, something brought to my attention by "Ducky's Here".

So when Gary Wellings (my friend) went on a rant to fire all the Republicans who voted for the Omnibus, I called in and asked him to hold off until he heard from Walberg, etc.

This is that section of his broadcast where he responds to my request by cutting me off the air.
I was rather upset at the time by how he responded.

The next Monday morning, Bill Bennett commented on Paul Ryan and said that he would have him on to explain what happened. Ryan's explanation did not satisfy a lot of people.

So yesterday, I was listening to The Drift, because, as I wrote on Facebook:
"Sometimes, someone will cut you off in a conversation and not let you finish your point.
You have a choice.
Write them off, or remember that you are friends.
I suggest the latter. It can be very rewarding.
And you've kept a friend."

As I was saying, I was listening to The Drift and this is what I heard.
Tim Walberg gives a very clear (much more than Ryan did) explanation of his vote for the Omnibus.
The 22 minute mark was very gratifying to me.
After that point Walberg went on to explain a lot more about what is going on in Congress with current issues.

I hope this helped you understand the position of the many ethical Republican congresscritters (that seemed to cave) the way it helped me.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Years Eve Resolution

I am looking forward to a new year, hopefully the last year of this lawless regime.

May God guide us (please!) as we as a nation choose whether to pursue the path to destruction or to turn from our self-inflicted harm.

We should resolve to take a different path.

Romans 8:18-19 King James Version
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

I am currently teaching Romans.

The thrust is that you can't do it, but God can do it through you.
If you ask Him.

Ask and ye shall receive.

You know that quote about insanity?
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Try it God's way.

Paul said: (Romans 7:23) "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

God will.

God will help you get it right this time through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ if His Spirit dwells in you.

May you have a prosperous and fruitful New Year