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Called According to Paul: Romans 9

This is another repost of an old post in the Called According to Paul series. I’m reposting them all, one per week (sort of), so I can link to them in the sidebar under Favorite Posts. An explanation of this series can be found here, and the already reposted pieces are here.

Not Herman RiddeSome form of the word called is found five times in Romans 9, first in verse 11:

And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:10-13 ESV)

There’s no need for me to explain all of Romans 9 here, since these posts have a very specific purpose, and that’s to understand the way Paul uses the word call. Here are a few things I see in these verses:

  • Here again, the call is linked with God’s purpose. In this case, it’s God’s purpose of election. God’s call, according to Paul, is based in God’s will or plan or purpose.

  • Paul contrasts God’s call and “works”: not because of works but because of his call. God’s call is the determining factor in the older son serving the younger, and not the good or bad deeds of the sons. We might say that God’s call (in the way Paul uses the term) works freely to accomplish God’s purpose. God’s call brings about God’s plan, and in this case, God planned for Esau to serve Jacob. It is God’s call that causes his plan to become a reality.

  • Just as we’ve seen in some of the other passages, God call is related to God’s love for a particular person, and with God’s choice (election).

Later in Romans 9, Paul uses called again:

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.

In these verses

  • God’s call is associated with God’s mercy. Those who are called are “vessels of mercy.”

  • God’s call is also connected to a prior plan of God. The “vessels of mercy” who are called are “prepared beforehand for glory.”

  • God’s call causes things to happen. Those who were not God’s people become his people, become “beloved”, and become “sons of the living God” because of God’s call. God’s call is a call with power.

What do you see that I missed? What can you see in this passage about the way Paul uses the word “called” when he uses it in regards to the call of God?


Thankful Thursday

My oldest daughter arrived here on Tuesday, driving alone from Vancouver. That meant tackling the long desolate Alaska highway during some cold temperatures and dicey driving conditions. I’m thankful that God brought her here safely—that he kept her tires on the road, kept her truck running, and gave the her wisdom to handle the circumstances. And I think she learned a good lesson, too: She says she will never do that again.

I’m thankful that the eight-month-old husky-border collie pup she brought with her is fitting into the pack. Youngest son, who does most of the dog discipline and care in this house, was a little stressed thinking about adding yet another dog to the mix, but so far it’s working out well, and that’s a really good thing.

I’m thankful for the peace that surrounds me: peace in my country, peace in my home, peace with God.

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.


Theological Term of the Week

A perversion of Calvinism in which the universal offer of the gospel is denied, as well as the obligation of the unregenerate person to repent and believe the gospel.

  • Scripture that refutes hyper-Calvinism:
    The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent…  (Acts 17:30 ESV) 
    And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
  • From a hyper-Calvinistic confession, the Gospel Standard Articles of Faith:

    XXVI We deny duty faith and duty repentance - these terms signifying that it is every man’s duty spiritually and savingly to repent and believe. We deny also that there is any capability in man by nature to any spiritual good whatever. So that we reject the doctrine that men in a state of nature should be exhorted to believe in or turn to God;

    XXXIII Therefore, that for ministers in the present day to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation, calling upon them savingly to repent, believe, and receive Christ, or perform any other acts dependent upon the new creative power of the Holy Ghost, is, on the one hand, to imply creature power, and, on the other, to deny the doctrine of special redemption.
  • From the Canons of Dordt, The Second Main Point of Doctrine

    Article 5: The Mandate to Proclaim the Gospel to All

    Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.

  • From Duty-Faith by Arthur Pink:

    In like manner, we must turn from the vain reasonings (as in the above Articles of Faith) of the hyper-Calvinist, and while holding fast to the total depravity and the spiritual inability of the natural man, we must also believe in his moral responsibility and accountability to God. It is the bounden duty of God’s servants to tell the unregenerate that the reason why they cannot repent evangelically is because their hearts are so wedded to their lusts; that the reason why they cannot come to Christ is because their sins have fettered and chained them; that the reason why they hate the Light is because they love the darkness. But so far from this excusing them, it only adds to their guilt; that so far from rendering them objects of pity it exposes them as doubly deserving of damnation. It is the preacher’s business to show wherein spiritual inability consists: not in the lack of soul faculties, but in the absence of any love for Him who is infinitely lovely. Far be it from us to extenuate the wicked unbelief of the unregenerate!

Learn more:

  1. Sam Storms: What Is Hyper-Calvinism?
  2. Jim Ellis: What Is Hyper-Calvinism?
  3. Colin Maxwell: A comparison chart of Arminianism, Calvinism, and hyper-Calvinism
  4. Founders Journal: Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism
  5. Phil Johnson: A Primer on Hyper-Calvinism
  6. Fred Zaspel: Hyper-Calvinism and the Free OfferPart 1Part 2
  7. Erroll Hulse: Adding to the Church: The Puritan Approach to Persuading Souls
  8. Tom Ascol with Chris Arnzen on Iron Sharpens Iron: Hyper-Calvinism vs. Calvinism (mp3)
  9. Curt Daniel: Hyper-Calvinism (mp3)

Related terms:

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.


Book Review: Marks of the Messenger

Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the GospelKnowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel by J. Mack Stiles.

A couple of months ago I listened to a lecture by D. A. Carson and heard him recommend this book, so when I was making my January reading list, I added it. (I didn’t, at that point, remember that it had also been reviewed and recommended at a couple of places on my blog roll.) The brief comment by Carson didn’t tell me much about the content of Marks of the Messenger, so I began reading not knowing exactly what to expect.

What I found was a book focused on developing believers with a mindset for evangelism, or growing Christians with heart for the gospel. I’d half-expected a “how to evangelize” book, which tend to leave me feeling guilty and paralyzed, but instead, what this little book is all about knowing, loving and valuing the true gospel so that the gospel soaks into and out from our lives.

Click to read more ...


A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part I: Questions about God, Man, and Sin

22. Q. In what condition did God make Adam and Eve?
      A. He made them holy and happy.

(Click through to read scriptural proofs.)

Click to read more ...