“So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” (Romans 9:18)
The doctrine taught in this verse is called Equal Ultimacy. It has to do with double predestination. All Calvinists agree that God unconditionally elects totally depraved sinners and then exercises irresistible grace so that they believe–but what about the rest of humanity? What about those who were not elect before the foundation of the world?
My position is that God exercises the same freedom in His hardening as He does in showing mercy. In the same way that God chooses who goes to heaven and then works faith into them, so also He chooses who goes to hell and then hardens/blinds them. In the same way that election is unconditional, so also is reprobation equally as unconditional. Continue reading Are the Non-Elect Predestined For Hell? A Defense of Equal Ultimacy
In our original post on the Golden Chain of Salvation we looked at Romans 8:30 as our key verse. There we examined each stage in the process (predestination, calling, justification, and glorification) and concluded that, by God’s power, the links of the chain cannot be broken. If one part of the chain applies to somebody, we know the rest will too.
Now we will continue on in Romans 8 where Paul elaborates upon and solidifies what he has already said about the golden chain. Bringing up Christ’s death and resurrection Paul shows how our security is rooted in God’s justice (vv. 31-34), and in His love (vv. 35-39). Christians are hammered with opposition and trials in this life, but because Jesus died for us we can rest assured that nothing can “unlink” us from the chain of salvation. Continue reading The Cross and the Golden Chain of Salvation (Romans 8:31-34)
Sin absolutely is universal. The Bible gives us a clear answer to this inquiry: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). In its original context, that statement comes after Paul spells out the doctrine that all humans, whether Jew or Gentile, are under sin. This has been the point of his letter since the end of the introduction. This letter is all about the gospel, and one cannot understand salvation without a knowledge of sin. Further, when we grasp the universality of sin our worldview will be better equipped to interpret the evil and pain in this world. Continue reading Is Sin Universal? Answers From Romans
“These whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30).
Paul had just said that God is working all things for our good (v. 28), and that we will be conformed to Jesus’ image (v. 29). Continuing that thought, he explains that the plan of salvation is secure, and how God brings us into that conformity. The teaching in this sentence has rightly been called The Golden Chain of Salvation. Nobody can be at one link in this chain without all of the others being true. Anybody who is justified before God is so because they were first predestined by God, and because God followed through with His purpose to save them by also calling them. Anybody who is justified will by no means fall away, but God will complete their salvation and bring them into eternal glory. The verse could have the same meaning if it had only said, “all whom He predestined, He also glorified.“ Continue reading The Golden Chain of Salvation, Romans 8:30
Though it has sadly become a dirty word in evangelical circles, every bit of scripture that can be applied to anyone’s life is in some way related to “doctrine.” Although you could classify all scripture loosely as “doctrine”, even if we use a common evangelical understanding of “doctrine” it could be easily shown that you cannot learn about how to be a good husband, or how to avoid anger, or how to have joy, or how to fight depression, or how to parent your kids, or how to vote, unless you learn about “doctrine.” So it is not a surprise that when Paul writes his deeply application-oriented letters to different people and churches, that he focuses heavily on doctrine. In fact most of his letters are front loaded with doctrine and only afterword does he move to application. Paul’s letter to the Romans is no exception. Today we are going to briefly survey how the doctrine in Romans connects with and undergirds how we view fellowship in our churches. Continue reading Doctrine, Fellowship, and You, Oh My!
“[Jesus] was delivered over for our transgressions, and was raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)
Our focus will be on the second half. We shall determine which action causes the other. Meaning, did Jesus’ resurrection cause our justification? or did our justification cause Jesus’ resurrection?
You see, some may take “He was raised for our justification,” to mean that Jesus’ resurrection played a role in justifying us. For example, the NLT interprets it “…raised to life to make us right with God,” or the ISV also, “…raised to life to justify us.”
That may seem like the correct interpretation at first glance. However, let us examine four reasons why I believe the text means that our justification was the cause of His resurrection, rather than the other way around. Continue reading Resurrection and Our Justification in Romans 4:25
I have heard it in malls, I have heard it on college campuses, I have heard it at my work, and I have heard it on the streets. Whether it be strangers, coworkers, fellow soldiers, or friends, the question that comes up over and over again in many of my evangelistic conversations is: “What happens to the good guy who lives on an unknown island who has never heard of Jesus Christ? How can it be fair to send that good man to hell, just because he has never had anyone tell him about Jesus? Can a good man on an unknown island go to heaven if he has never heard of Christ?”
Often times the question is a distraction thrown out by the questioner to avoid the implications of the gospel on his life (seeing as the questioner has heard of Christ). But at other times it is an honest question and it should be answered. Not to mention, the answer will bring the conversation back to the core truths of the gospel. The following is a brief attempt to answer the question, and to answer it using only the book of Romans (this will allow you to easily show the answer from scripture). Continue reading Does the Good Man Who Has Never Heard of Christ Go to Heaven?
“For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)
The above words of the Apostle Paul are one of the Bible’s key insights on how God views homosexuality and gay marriage. In fact, this passage gives the most detail and is the longest of all the passages condemning this practice. Paul’s words could not be more clear: naturally sex is between a man and a woman, and homosexuality opposes that. Further, homosexual practices in every shape and size are degrading and indecent.
However, in our culture today, many so-called Christians are openly practicing homosexuality or are in same-sex relationships without any regret. Many are outright saying the Bible is outdated, and modern research attempts to prove Paul’s (God’s) view of homosexuality wrong. Matthew Vines is a man who takes it a step further. He does not reject inspiration or biblical authority, but rather, seeks to show that we have been misreading the Bible on this issue the whole time. Among other things, he is famous for his recent book, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships (New York: Convergent, 2014) where he hashes out his position. Continue reading Is Romans 1:26-27 Talking About Homosexuality? A Response to Matthew Vines
This study is not in commentary form, nor does it touch on every possible trajectory and issue in the passage. Rather, this study is a summary and elaboration of D. A. Carson’s contribution to the excellent book, The Glory of the Atonement edited by Charles E. Hill and Frank A. James III. There, Carson discusses 10 debated exegetical issues within this passage. Eight shall be discussed here, the two others he discusses in that chapter concern the passage’s relation to preceding and following contexts, into which we will not venture now.
Continue reading Exegeting Romans 3:21-26 with D. A. Carson