Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gen. 25:19-26

Some notes that I found recently on a Voddie sermon about Genesis 25:19-26. Voddie presenting a doctrinal overview of predestination in terms of the lives of Isaac, Esau and Jacob. The overview included a detailed look at Romans 9, as well a look at the London Baptist Confession.

Voddie mentioned how Genesis so far spoke tremendously about Abraham and his life, but we don't see much about Isaac. V. 20 gives a sneak peek of Laban, who will resurface later in the life of Jacob.
In terms of Isaac and Abraham, there are a number of parallels: Both dealt with issues of barrenness, in light of God's promise that they will be fathers of a prosperous nation. The distinction, however, is that Abraham, when told he would have a child at his old age, laughed at the promise. Abraham also turned to the sinful human option and had a child with Hagar, which was not God's plan. Isaac, on the other hand, when presented with a situation of a barren wife, fell on his face and prayed. Voddie specualted that, in light of his father's sin with Hagar, he directly witnessed the friction between his mother and Hagar and did not want to repeat this. Sounds completely logical to me.

Rebecca had two children, Jacob and Esau. Jacob was described in Hebrew as "akave" (going with the phonetic here) that means "heel-grabber", a reference to his character. The contention between the brothers is also reflective of contention between mother and father: Isaac was fond of Esau, particularly of the wild game that he caught, while Rebecca was fond of Jacob. Favoritism is never a good thing.

Romans 9 presents a doctrinal exposition of the life of Jacob and Esau. The issue of predestination can be a tricky, and difficult, one for me, but it is one that I find to be consistent with scripture. Voddie shared a series of passages from the London Baptist convention on the topic: those saved are chosen out of the good please of the will of God, while others are "left to act in their sin" and get what their sins deserve. It's not God's injustice that sends men to Hell, but man's want/bent to sin.

One of many challenges that arise is the question of, "If God has already predestined certain individuals, why share the gospel then?" The answer is because God told us to in His word, and because this is the means and process that God uses to call the elect. Voddie pointed out that an "arrogant Calvinist" should be a contradiction: "I'm saved and there's nothing in me God would have wanted to save." It's humbling.

Another question is, is this just? The answer is that it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy. Can what is made question the maker? God predestined us to adoption according to the council of His will:
John 5:21 - "The Son gives life to whom He will"
John 6:65 - "No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

Otherwise, the alternative is that there are people who are smart enough, or holy enough, to "figure it out" moreso than other people. This emphasises human effort and initiative, moreso than the grace of God, and it's God's grace alone that makes us alive in Christ.

Romans 8 - "those whom he foreknew he also predestined" - you can't separate predestination from salvation. According to Lorraine Boetner, foreordination is the work of a wise and merciful heavenful father, as opposed to the working of blind, physicial fate.

Voddie also spoke about the "prescient" view and the fallacy of this viewpoint, that God's predestination of individuals is based on seeing into the future, and knowing from future actions that someone will be good or bad. The fallacy here is that God is basically little more than a time-traveler, and this takes away from His sovereignty. The prescient view can't explain Roman's 9 and how God could love one and hate another.

As far as applications presented, we as believers should adore God for His grace and NOT for our own ability. The wrong view is one of, "God saw that I would someday choose him", and commend me for being "smarter" than others to find the path to salvation.

Another point is that success in sharing the gospel does not depend on us. God has guaranteed the salvation of His elect. We should avoid over-introspection of whether or not we are of the elect, but rather our focus should be on repentance and believing the gospel. The same situation with our children: we should not fuss over worrying if our children are "elect" or not, but rather focus on sharing the gospel with them.

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