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By Edward O’Hara
In John 8 Jesus tells the Pharisees who were the religious leaders of that day, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.” To which they answered Jesus saying “We have Abraham as our father”. And Jesus answered them saying, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” Now an important question to ask here is, to what works was Jesus referring? Works of the law which are the works of the flesh? Or the work of believing in Him that just 2 chapters earlier when teaching these same people Jesus told them they must do the work of God?
This was also what Jesus was referring to in John 8 when He again said “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” How do you think Abraham who lived centuries before Jesus was born saw Jesus’ day? He was able to see Jesus’ day through the righteousness that is by faith without works as we see in Rom.4:1-5.
This is why Jesus told them the works they must do to do the works of God was to believe in Him. Because as John 17:3 says when we believe in Jesus we have eternal life. So Abraham saw Jesus’ day by receiving the promise by the only means by which God has established that we may acquire it. By faith. The same faith that Paul called “the faith of Christ” in Gal.2:16.
But, when Paul preached he encountered many Israelites, his brothers in the flesh, that were consumed with law keeping, the works of the flesh, for righteousness. And no wonder because it had been ingrained in them from infancy. No matter how much he tried to help them see the faith of Abraham and the faith of Christ, most would cling to their “dead works” rather than come to a saving faith in Jesus.
These “dead works” of the law, the works of the flesh, had been so ingrained in their thinking from the time they were very young that Paul called trusting in it for righteousness the “sin that dwells in me” in Rom.7:17. He was referring to the reason these Israelites could not do what they wanted to. Which was to trust in Jesus apart from works for righteousness. But, instead continued to do that which they hated. By instead trusting in the works of the flesh, the works of the law, that constantly kept creeping back in to their thinking for righteousness. When they did this it made them the “wretched man” that Paul said only “the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” could deliver them from in Rom.8:2.
Today we see the same pharisaical understanding of righteousness in what is called evangelical protestantism. Because they have believed in a form of ‘Judaism for Gentiles’, known as the doctrine of original sin and sin nature, instead of Paul’s gospel of grace through faith. The faith that all those who truly have Abraham as their father have.
This happens because they cling to what they call “the works of Christ”, instead of “the faith of Christ”, for justification. Just as the Israelites under the law would cling to those dead works of the law, the works of the flesh, for righteousness. They have been taught to believe that it is because Adam’s flesh was bad that they are also bad by inheritance. So that to them the reason Jesus came was then to keep the law perfectly in their place. So that by imputation of those works of the flesh to them, which they wrongly define as grace for justification, they are then also made good enough for God to accept them.
This belief system is a lie from the pit of hell. Sent by satan to destroy the grace of God that comes to us only by the faith of Abraham and “the faith of Christ”. Because it is not the works of Christ, but His faith, a faith also had by Abraham when he believed God, that justifies men before God. This is why Abraham saw Jesus’ day and was glad. And is also why he, and not Moses, is the father of many nations. Because the covenant God brought through Moses’ was one of works of the flesh meant only for Israel until Christ came. While Abraham’s is a covenant of faith without those works meant for all mankind for eternity.
We can see this expressed in Rom.9 when Paul is showing these Israelites why God said “Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated”. In explanation Paul asks, “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
Here Paul is saying that God has made salvation an impossibility for either Jew or Greek when they believe it can be attained by works of the flesh. And that they fit themselves for destruction when they believe righteousness unto eternal life comes by the works of the flesh. So it is not God that has fitted them for destruction. But, every man himself does this when by his own free will he trusts in works of the flesh, even Jesus’ works of perfect law keeping, for righteousness.
By this Paul shows them that the vessels of wrath are those who by their own free will trust in works for righteousness. And that those who are the vessels fitted for mercy are those who by their own free will trust in the righteousness that is by faith without works. And that this is how this righteousness has been made available to all mankind. And not just Israel. When Paul said God will have mercy on whom He will. And He will harden whom He will. He was teaching us that God’s love must be received by our own free will. It’s the same as when James said, “God resists the proud but gives more grace to the humble.”
Therefore Jacob have I loved represents the righteousness that is received by faith when we humble ourselves before God. While Esau have I hated represents the righteousness that is attained by prideful works of the flesh. So here in Rom.9 Esau represents the works of the flesh Paul refers to in Rom.8:13. While Jacob represents the spiritual man that Paul speaks of in Rom.8:14.
So God is absolutely not saying that Jacob was predestinated to be loved and Esau was predestinated to be hated before they were born. This Calvinistic view would make God both a liar and a murderer. Both capricious and arbitrary and therefore impossible to be trusted.
Because instead of God not being a respecter of persons as Rom.2:11 says. The wrong understanding of this passage would not only make God a respecter of persons. But, He is also made to be a hater of almost all of mankind. Making Him a God of hate like satan, instead of the God of love John3:16 and 1John4:7,8 says He is.
Jesus said in Mt.7:13,14 that many go in the way of destruction. But, only few find the way to life. So if it is not by our own free will that this happens as the Augustinian and Calvinist believes. It must be because God is hate. This is not the God of the Bible. But, a different god, a different Jesus, and a different atonement. Producing an anathema gospel that Paul says damns men to hell.
God made life and righteousness attainable only by faith because these make it possible for the loving personal relationship He wants to have with all men. The faith of Abraham which is the faith of Christ. This is why it is only by this faith that we can have eternal life. And is why in John17:3 Jesus said “This is eternal life. That you might know Him and His Son whom He has sent”.
This faith is the righteousness unto salvation. Because this righteousness is the relationship that we have with God by faith without works as Paul also explains in Gal.3:21. Saying that the righteousness of faith that leads to eternal life is mutually exclusive to the righteousness that comes by works of the law. Paul confirms this saying in Gal.3:23 that “before faith came, we(Israel) were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”
This is why in Rom.9:8,9 Paul said “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.” This son Isaac, given to Abraham by promise which he received by faith without works, would be the man through whose loins the nation of Israel would come. But, because of faith Israel is just one of the nations for whom Abraham would be the father. Because as it is for everyone who would be a child of the promise it must be because they have believed as Abraham did. And can not be received by works of the flesh. No matter who we believe has done them.
This is why the potter says to the clay “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” It is because the potter made the clay that He has the right to determine how righteousness is acquired. The clay has no say in this. And the wonderful thing is God made faith without works the requirement for righteousness because faith is our side of a relationship that the loving God desires to have with all mankind.
So God did not hate Esau as a person. He hates the idea that a relationship with Him can come by the impersonal works of the flesh for righteousness that Esau represented. Just as Jacob represented the personal relationship with God that comes from righteousness received by faith which is to trust in Him. So when you read these passages understand that the hate and love spoken of here does not speak of a predestined hate for many people and a love for only a few as Augustine and Calvin falsely taught. But, of a love for all of humanity that desires true fellowship with them.
1John4:8,9 makes it abundantly clear that God IS love. And John3:16 makes it clear that God loves every man that has ever been conceived. And 2Peter3:9 shows “God’s will is that none should perish”. So it is the belief in works of the flesh for righteousness that God hates because that belief excludes man from a loving personal relationship with God. But, God loves the righteousness of faith that makes the relationship with Him and eternal life possible.
Can you see how Rom.9 shows that God is love? And that He loves all of mankind so much that He gave His only Son so that all who believe in Him will have eternal life? Have you confessed Jesus as Lord? And believed that He has raised from the dead? If so then you too have eternal life. And I rejoice with you because of it. But, if you have not then pray with me now and receive eternal life.
Dear Jesus, thank you for joining with me in death so that I can join with you in eternal life. Thank you for showing me that eternal life is by grace through faith without works. I believe in you for righteousness as Abraham believed the Father. Thank you that I am a child of the promise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
By praying that simple prayer you confess having a saving faith in Jesus. Now when you read the Bible believe what it plainly says and the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth.
See you there or in the air!
This message can also be heard at: https://rumble.com/vk9x6z-rom.9-only-by-free-will-and-humility-are-we-abrahams-children.html
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