Divine Election - Part 4

Romans 9:6-29

Tom Pennington  •  October 7, 2018
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This week, I had the opportunity, in addition to the conference here, about a year-and-a-half ago, I had committed to do a men's conference in Sacramento; that's where I've been the last couple of days. And I was sitting on the tarmac in Sacramento late yesterday afternoon, and I was aware of the fact that there are jobs, I am so glad I don't have. As I watched those poor flight attendants trying to herd all of those people onto the plane with all of their baggage and eccentricities and bad attitudes, in some cases; I just was sitting there thinking I really appreciate those in our church who do that, and I'm so grateful that God didn't call me to do that. There are many other jobs like that.

I was thinking as well of those who have to make life-and-death decisions. Think about those who are in our military and who are medics and who, in time of war, often have to choose whom to save in the aftermath of a large scale battle. They find themselves faced with a terrifying, split-second decision, "Whom do I save? I can't save everyone." And they have to evaluate which one they are going to pour their energies into. They are, in effect, electing certain people to life, to physical life. This happens regularly in our culture. In fact, James Montgomery Boice said, "Election is an inescapable fact of finite human life and history. It happens."

But election is also an inescapable fact of biblical history. As we're learning from Romans 9, God constantly makes choices of certain individuals. Now, most Christians have no problem with God's sovereign choice of individuals when it comes to certain issues. For example, I doubt many sitting here today have a problem with the fact that Jesus chose twelve to be His disciples. But why does that not bother you? Why twelve? Why not more? Why not others? Who wouldn't have benefited from three years in that close proximity to Jesus? And yet He sovereignly chose those twelve.

What about when the disciples were told to go out and to tell others about Christ? Limited human beings, they could only go in one direction; Philip went to Samaria, Barnabas to Antioch, and so forth. Each time a choice had to be made; and if God was directing those choices, as we believe He was, then God was choosing that someone would hear the gospel rather than others. Of course, the most momentous of that came when Paul desired, you remember, in the book of Acts, to go into Asia and the Spirit somehow forbade him, and he turned toward Europe. Those are God's sovereign decisions. And while we may struggle with them to some extent, we accept them. But when it comes to election unto salvation, many Christians have a much harder time.

Now, let's just start here. Everyone agrees that it was God's decision to provide salvation, right? I mean God initiated the salvation of man. Everyone agrees with that, and there are only a limited number of ways that He could have chosen to distribute that salvation once He initiated it. God basically had three options. He could save none, and by the way, God would have been perfectly just to have saved none of us. He could have saved all, that's Universalism. Or, He could have chosen to save some. Those were God's only choices; none, all, or some.

Now all Christians reject the first that He saved none. Almost all professing Christians reject the second; there are only a few Universalists who believe every person will ultimately be saved. The vast majority of Christians, down through the centuries, have believed the third, that God, in His own wisdom and purpose, has chosen to save some. The doctrine of election, that we're studying together, deals with God's choice to save some. Specifically, we're studying Romans 9 through 11, and as I've noted for you, the central issue in these chapters is introduced back in chapter 9, verses 1 to 5, and it's basically this issue: Why has a majority of God's chosen people, Israel, rejected their Messiah and His gospel? And to that question, Paul provides three basic answers.

Let me just say, by the way, that if you're bothered by one of these answers, stay tuned. Paul has three answers, and it's only as we understand all three of them that we have a full perspective of why so few Jewish people have embraced their Messiah, or for that matter, why others don't.

We are studying only his first answer, and his first answer comes in chapter 9, verses 6 through 29; it is the reality of divine election. Now this paragraph begins in verses 6 through 13 with what we've entitled, "Divine Election: Explained and Illustrated," Divine Election: Explained and Illustrated. In verse 6, there is a foundational explanation that not all the physical descendants of Abraham are his true spiritual descendants. Then bouncing off of that essential explanation, Paul goes on, in verses 7 to 13, to provide three biblical illustrations. Verse 6 says not every physical descendant of Abraham belongs to true spiritual Israel. Why is that true? It's true because of divine election. God chose specific descendants of Abraham.

Now Paul uses three generations within Israel to explain, to illustrate, and to prove that, in fact, God chose some for salvation. He begins with Abraham in verse 7, really just mentions him in passing, but we looked at Abraham. Secondly, he deals in verses 7 through 9, with Isaac, and then we're looking at the third illustration, Jacob in verses 10 to 13.

Now the thing that Jacob teaches us is that God's choice is not conditioned on anything in us; it is unconditional. I began last time by telling you that there are several biblical arguments against conditional election, that is, that God, the most common expression of this is, God looks down through the corridors of time, He sees who's going to believe in Jesus, and He chooses them. There are several arguments against that view. I noted that it ignores the fact that whatever God sees in the future, He brought it to pass. Ephesians 1:11 says He "works all things after the counsel of His will." That's one of those 'all things.'

Secondly, we noted that biblical foreknowledge, the real meaning of that term, is not foreknowing something about a person, but foreknowing the person. It is setting one's love upon someone; it is pre-determining a relationship. That's what we saw in Romans 8:29 when we walked through that text.

Thirdly, I noted that Jesus taught that people who might have believed were not elect. You remember in talking to the cities where He did His miracles, He said, "Woe to you," and then He makes this statement, "If the things that have been done in you had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have repented, and so it'll be worse for you at the judgment than for them." Now this one is a little hard to get your mind around, and several of you asked me about this point last week. Let me briefly clarify. Jesus was not saying, and I'm not saying that if the people of Sodom had been given the right information, they would have believed on their own, separate from divine grace. That's not what we're talking about. Rather, I'm simply using Jesus's words there to point out the fact that the people of Sodom would have repented if Jesus had performed the same miracles in them, is completely inconsistent with the idea that God looks down through the corridors of time and chooses those whom He sees will believe because Jesus seems to indicate that they would have believed given that opportunity. Again, it's not a comment about them; the comment is about the fact that it is inconsistent with the idea that God chooses based on foreseen faith.

And then the fourth argument that I noted last time conditional election is the fact that the Bible argues for the opposite. The Bible argues for unconditional election. So, going back then to Jacob, where we're learning that it's unconditional, that's the theme of these verses 10 through 13, what are the lessons specifically that we've learned from this third illustration, the illustration of Jacob?

So far we've learned three of them; let me just remind you, and then we're going to look at a fourth today. We learned that election, in verse 10, is not based on an individual's genetics or relationships. Notice verse 10, "And not only this, but there was Rebecca also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac." Remember these two boys; they had the same father; they had the same mother; they were conceived at the same time in the same sexual act; they were born at the same time; there were no differences. So it's not based, as you might've thought it was, based on the two previous examples, on something in the person, something in their genetics or the relationships.

Secondly, we learned in verse 11, that election is not based on personal merit or demerit. Verse 11 says, "for though the twins were not yet born (And here's the point of that.) and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls." Election, notice the end of verse 11, is according to God's purpose by the choice He makes by election, and it is not because or out of works, but rather, it is out of the One who calls. It is God who determines this; that's the source. It's simply God, and it's His own sovereign grace.

Thirdly, we learned in verse 12, from the story of Jacob, that election is not based on normal reasons or human expectations. God purposefully goes against the birth order in order to make the point that it's not conditioned on the person at all. Verse 12, "it was said to her, 'THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.'" Now those are the lessons that we've learned so far.

Today, we come to a fourth lesson that we learned about election from Paul's illustration of Jacob, and it's this, election is solely based on God's sovereign love and grace. Election is solely based on God's sovereign love and grace. Paul quotes another Old Testament passage in verse 13 to prove his point about election. Here is, in verse 13, the biblical justification for the fact that God chose Jacob instead of Esau. Notice verse 13, "Just as it is written, 'JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.'"

This passage, in verse 13, forms really the heart of Paul's great defense of election in this passage. It's from Malachi, chapter 1, and it's such a difficult passage that I want us to turn back to Malachi and see it in its context. Go to the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, chapter 1. Now, Malachi's structure, of course, is one of the last prophets in time in Old Testament history, toward the end of Old Testament history, toward early 400's B.C., and this book is structured by a series of affirmations. In fact, in this paragraph, we're going to look at in Malachi 1, and consistently throughout this book, God makes an assertion; the people of Israel questioned the truthfulness of what God had said, and then God defends His assertion. That's the structure, and you'll see it here in this first paragraph.

Notice verse 1, "The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi." And here's God's assertion, "'I have loved you,'" says the LORD." God says, "Listen, I know you're in hard times; I know you've gone through the Babylonian captivity; I know things are not what you had hoped they would be afterwards, but I have loved you," to which the people respond, "How? How have you loved us?" They questioned the reality of God's love, and you know what, we're quick to jump on some of these people, but understand that if we'd been through what they had been through, if we had endured as a nation, as a people what they had endured, you could be tempted to ask that question. "Okay you love us? How? Look at what we've endured; look at what we've had to face."

Maybe that's a question you've had. I know a lot of folks in our congregation are going through trouble and difficulty and hard times. Maybe the Bible says, "I love you," and you've been tempted to say, "How?"

And here's the answer; the second half of verse 2 and verse 3 are God's answer. Here is His own defense of His love for His people. Notice what He says, "They say, 'How have You loved us?'" And here's God's response:

"Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness." Though Edom says, (And Edom, by the way, was the nation that came from Esau.) Though Edom says, "We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins"; thus says the LORD of hosts, "They may build, but I will tear down; and then will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever." Your eyes will see this and you will say, "The LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel!"

Now what's going on here? God says, "Listen, I have proven my love for you by choosing Jacob and his offspring, Israel, and by not choosing instead Esau and his offspring Edom." Now some look at this passage, and they say, "Okay, Paul's quoting this passage in Romans 9, but Paul must not then be talking about individual election in Romans 9, but corporate election because he chose the nation of Israel that came from Jacob and not the nation of Edom that came from Esau. So maybe Romans 9 isn't about individual election and salvation." But it's important, I'm not going to spend a lot of time here, but it's important to briefly answer that objection; because since Malachi seems to be talking about both the individuals, Jacob and Esau, and the nations that came from them, how do we know that Paul is talking about the election of individuals in Romans 9 when he cites this text, and not people groups?

Well for several reasons; let me just give you quickly a couple of reasons. First of all, in Romans 9, Paul talks about conception and birth and the works of Jacob and Esau; in so doing, he's clearly referring to the individual men and not the nations that came from them. Secondly, the words Paul uses in Romans 9 in conjunction with this verse, he uses elsewhere to deal with individual salvation. And thirdly, and this is a compelling reason; remember the whole purpose of Romans 9, what is Paul addressing? He's proving why individual Jews have not believed in their Messiah. So Romans 9 then quotes Malachi as proof of God's choice of individuals for salvation.

Now go back to Romans 9, and let's look at it. Romans 9 and verse 13, "Just as it is written, 'JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.'" Now that is a difficult, difficult statement; and in fact, it invites some serious questions. In fact, that simple statement, in verse 13, raises two huge questions; and to fully understand what God is saying here, we have to address those questions. They are questions that everyone who has ever grappled with the issue of election has asked. You have undoubtedly asked these questions, and so let's address them head on and answer them.

Question number one: How does divine election reconcile with God's love for all mankind? Because here He seems to say, "I loved Jacob, and I didn't love Esau." Does that mean God doesn't love all men? I mean, doesn't the Bible say that, "God loves the world?" How can God love all mankind and yet hate sinners like Esau at the same time? Does Scripture say that God hates the sinner? Well, it does. It's a hard thing, but look at it with me together. Look at Psalm 5; Psalm 5. Again, we have to let God speak, we have to let the Scripture speak; we can't impose our own views on the Scripture, but let the Scripture form our views. Psalm 5, verses 5 and 6, the psalmist says, David says speaking to God:

You hate all who do iniquity.

You destroy those who speak falsehood; (And then he uses a stronger word.).

The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and of deceit. (Those are strong words.)

Many try to dodge the clear statement of those verses by saying something like this, and this is where I grew up hearing, "Well, yeah, but you know, God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin." So why does God condemn the sinner and not just the sin to hell, and why does it say here, "You hate (not iniquity, but) all who do iniquity, (and the Lord) abhors the man," that is the person who is guilty of sins? You say, "Well, what about God's love?"

Let me make a statement and then I'm going to try to prove to you. Here's the statement, the truth is that God both loves and hates the sinner at the same time. Let me give you an illustration of how this happens even at a human level, and then we'll look at some texts together. One theologian explains this reality even among us as human beings in this way. He uses the story of George Washington and Benedict Arnold. They were close friends; I think you understand that from American History; and when Washington learned of Benedict Arnold's treason, he both loved him as a longtime close friend; and at the same time, he hated him because of what he had done to the cause for which they were supposedly fighting, the innocent lives that had been lost and so forth. So love and hate are not mutually exclusive.

Although Scripture clearly teaches, as we just saw, that God hates the sinner, it is also clear that God's love is for all mankind, and it is as universal as the sun and rain. I want you to turn to Matthew; Matthew, chapter 5. So keep in mind Psalm 5; God hates the sinner, and now notice Matthew 5, and look at verse 43; this is, of course, in our Lord's most famous sermon, The Sermon on the Mount. He says, "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR,'" that's what Scripture teaches, and hate your enemy. Scripture nowhere teaches that for us, don't hate your enemy. "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;" love your enemies. What is the model for that? Verse 45, "so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." You know what He's saying? He's saying, "You love your enemies just like your Father in heaven loves His enemies."

And then He gives an illustration of it, an explanation of it, He says, "Here's one way that God expresses His universal love." He causes, (I love this.) "His sun." Listen, that huge star that crosses our heavens, it's not something that just happened. It's His sun, "He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good."

Now, just put on your little sanctified imagination for a moment, and imagine what it would be like if God didn't love His enemies in reference to the sun. You know, the sun goes across the sky, and the sunbeams fall in the yards of believers, and your little yard is thriving, and all your vines are growing, and your weeds are growing too, and, you know, the whole thing. But your neighbor who is an enemy of God, no sun! Boom! Dark! That's the point He's making. No, that's not God.

He sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" Listen, people love people who love them. "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" And then He says this, verse 48, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." That verse is a summary of what He's been teaching, but it's also directly applicable to what we just saw. He's saying, "Listen, be like your Father. Your Father loves His enemies." Jesus couldn't say it any plainer, could He? God loves those who are His enemies. Wherever the sun hits on this planet, it's an expression of God's love for His enemies, and not all the people who have sun falling on their yards will ever know God. God loves them regardless, the same thing with His rain.

Another passage is Mark 10. Remember Mark 10, verses 21 and 22? It's Jesus's interaction with a rich young ruler; and verse 21 says, "Looking at (the rich young ruler,) Jesus (Listen to this.) felt a love for him and said to him, 'One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'" And by the way, that doesn't mean that every person who comes to Christ needs to sell everything they have. Jesus, as He always does, is putting His finger on the core sin in that man's life; it was greed. And Jesus says, "You're going to follow me? You've got to give that sin up," and that's what He says to all of us, whatever that core sin in our lives might have been. "You're going to follow me, you've got to be willing to turn from that and come and follow me." That's what he says to this man, "and you will have treasure in heaven….But at these words, he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property." Listen, there is no indication anywhere in Scripture that this young man ever came to faith in Christ, and yet the text says Christ loved him.

But of course nowhere is this universal love of God for all mankind more memorably expressed than it is in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, (It's talking about the people on this planet.) …God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." There are some who, some Christians who refuse to say to sinners, "God loves you." They argue that God only loves the elect; and of course, it's impossible to know if any sinner is elect. Some insist that God cannot love those who never repent and believe, even some men we respect. For example, A.W. Pink, he has to do verbal gymnastics here in John 3:16 because he says the word 'world' here only describes the world of believers. God so loved the world of believers. But listen, you can believe in divine election and the sovereignty of God in salvation and still believe that God loves the entire world.

In fact, I don't think anyone would ever say that John Calvin was soft on election or God's sovereignty and salvation; and yet listen to what John Calvin writes on John 3:16.

Two points are distinctly stated to us, namely that faith in Christ brings life and that Christ brought life (Listen to this.) because the Father loves the human race and wishes that they should not perish. (He continues.) Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all, but the elect only are they whose eyes God opens that they may seek Him by faith.

But, don't miss the point, God loves all people. But, and here's what you have to differentiate, that does not mean that He loves all in the same way and with the same intensity. God loves those whom He has chosen with a special love; that's what he means in Romans, chapter 9, verse 13, "JACOB HAVE I LOVED." Doesn't mean He didn't love Esau in this universal sense we've just seen; He meant that He displayed a special, redeeming, electing love on Jacob.

There are other passages that make this point. For example, 1 John, chapter 3, verse 1, "See (Listen to this now.)…See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called the children of God." You see how he is differentiating? He's saying, "Everyone experiences the love of God, but see how great a love the Father has shown us in that we are His children, a different special love." John 13:1:

Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, (Now we're talking not about His love for all mankind; we're talking about His love for His own.)…having loved His own who were in the world, (It says,) "He loved them to the end." (Interesting expression, "to the end.")

The Greek word means literally 'completely, comprehensively, perfectly.' His love for His own was a different thing. Yes, He loved the rich young ruler even though he never came to faith, but "He loved His own" with a unique, special, redeeming love. So understand then, that God loves all mankind, but He loves His own in this unique special way.

Let me show you one other text. Turn to Ephesians, chapter 1; Ephesians, chapter 1, and notice verse 4. Here's another one of those incontrovertible texts about election. In verse 3, Paul writes, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." And then, he explains why that's happened, because of divine election. Verse 4, "just as He (That is God the Father.) chose us in Him (That is in Christ.) before the foundation of the world." There's that unconditional election; before we had done anything good or bad, He chose us in Christ with a purpose. This was His goal "that we would be holy and blameless before Him. (And by the way, this is one sentence in the Greek text. Literally it reads this way.) "In love, having predestined us." So let's go back and put it together. "He chose us in Christ, in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will." Notice that His choice of us was born out of His love and His desire to adopt us as His children; that is a special, redeeming, electing, adopting love for His own. So, there's the answer to the first key question that Romans 9:13 raises, and that is, "Wait a minute, when it says God loved Jacob, and hated Esau, does that mean that God doesn't love all people?" The answer is, "No!" God does love all people; that's not the differentiation He's making there in that verse.

Now let's answer a second question, and then we'll look at the verse itself. Second key question that it invites is this: How does divine election reconcile with the fact that God desires for all to come to repentance? What's going on there? Scripture teaches that God elects certain individuals to life, and He does so according to His will. If you're still in Ephesians 1, look again at what he says in verse 5, in love, "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His (What?) His will." It was God's will to choose certain ones and to adopt them as His children; that was God's will. But Scripture also teaches that God wants, desires, wills, if you want to put it that way, all to be saved. 1 Timothy 2:4, "(God) desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but (He's) patient toward you, (Listen to this, 2 Peter 3:9.) not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

You say, "Wait a minute, does this mean there's like a conflict in the Bible or a conflict in the will of God?" Because on the one hand, "according to His will." He predestined and chose and adopted, and yet He doesn't want any to perish; He wants all to come to repentance. On the surface, there appears to be a conflict in the very will of God. How do we understand this?

Well, you have to back up, and you have to understand this; when Scripture speaks of God's will, it is primarily referring to two biblical concepts. Most often, these are the two we're talking about. First of all, God's moral will. This is also called His will of precept, His perceptive will, or His will of command, or you could even say His will of desire. This refers, when we talk about God's will in this way, it refers to those commands and laws that God lays down for His creatures which demand obedience, but man often disobeys. In other words, there are things that God wills that don't happen. He wills for you not to sin; He wills for you to live in perfect obedience to His own character; He wills for children to obey their parents; He wills for us never to worship any other God; He wills…and you get the story, on and on it goes.

Secondly, there is God's sovereign will. This is God's will of decree as it is sometimes called, or we could call it His will of purpose. This is the eternal, unchangeable, immutable plan of God which is always carried out. This is Ephesians 1:11, "(He) works all things after the counsel of His (own) will."

So there are these two different ways to describe the will of God. The best biblical example of these two aspects of God's will, it's the best way to think of it, is the crucifixion, okay? Acts 2:23, Peter says this on the day of Pentecost, "(Jesus was) delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God." There's God's will of decree. God decided in eternity past that Jesus was going to die, when He was going to die, how He was going to die, and the purpose for which He would die. It was predetermined by God; there is His will of decree; there is His sovereign will of purpose.

And then he says, Peter does, "you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and (you) put Him to death." In other words, what he's saying is, "You broke in doing that in fulfilling God's will of decree; you broke God's moral will; you murdered Jesus!" So you see both of them are there. So there are these two aspects of God's will. There's His will desire, and there is His will of purpose.

Now we understand this because we also experience, you experience two kinds of wills; this will desire and this will purpose. We will to do and do certain things that are painful and that we do not desire in order to bring about a result that we desire even more. In fact, let me argue that this happened this morning when your alarm clock went off. It happens every morning when your alarm clock goes off. It happens with me. When my alarm went off this morning at 5:20, I desired more sleep, particularly since my flight was delayed yesterday, and it was a pretty short night. I hadn't wanted that alarm to go off; I desired more sleep. That's what I want; it's what I will to be, but I also wanted to make sure that I had time to pray, and to have my heart in my message, and to be here with you this morning. You get up when the alarm goes off; you desire to stay in bed, but you desire to eat, like you know, have money so that you can buy food. You desire that more than staying in bed. So there are these conflicting wills in us. What happens, at that moment when the alarm goes off, I have two desires; but when those desires are in conflict, what do I do? I choose which of those desires are more important to me.

Let me give you a more serious illustration; this happens in our church as well. Think about the choice many have to make in response to cancer. In the face of cancer, many make the decision to have surgery and then to endure countless radiation and chemo treatments. The treatments for cancer often cause great pain and suffering; but to prevent more serious illness and to sustain life, people make that choice. So, our desire or our will for long-term life and health overcomes our desire, trumps our desire to will to be comfortable and without pain. The same thing is true when it comes to God.

And by the way, let me just say that both Arminians and Calvinists admit this, okay? Both Arminians and Calvinists believe that God desires for all to be saved and for none to perish; that's not the point of disagreement. But they also both believe that there is another desire in God that is more important than His desire for all to be saved. For the Arminian, God's greater desire is what? To protect man's free will. For the Calvinist, God's greater desire is for His own glory.

So understand then, election does not conflict with God's love for all man; He loves all men; He just doesn't love all with that special, saving, electing, adopting love. And God truly desires the salvation of all men. There is, in the heart of God, the reality that the prophet says, "He finds no joy (no delight) in the death of the wicked." He pleads, even in the text we read this morning, for our Scripture reading in Isaiah, "Turn to Me and be saved all the ends of the earth." All of those invitations in Scripture, those are genuine invitations that reflect the heart of God, the desire of God. But it is also true that God has not decreed the salvation of everyone, and He made this decision for His own glory.

Now that we've answered those two huge questions, let's come back to Romans 9, verse 13. Look at it again, Romans 9, verse 13, "Just as it is written, 'JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.'" Now in this context, when Paul says that God loved Jacob, he is specifically talking about what? God's election of Jacob, God's choice of Jacob to be His own! So then, in what sense did God hate Esau? In what sense does He hate those He doesn't choose? Well, I mean obviously, we saw in Psalm 5, God truly hates the sinner because of his rebellion against God, because of his sin. Others say, "Well, no, it's this! God hates Esau when you compare His love for Jacob with His love for Esau; compared, the one looks like hate.

A third option is that it's simply saying this, "God hates Esau in that He didn't choose him." I think that's what he means here; in context here and in Malachi, God loved Jacob by choosing him, so he hated Esau in the sense that he passed him by. He did not choose him. There's an excellent book that I would recommend to you, in fact, some of you read it as you were reading through some of the books I've recommended by R. C. Sproul, called, Chosen by God. Here's what he writes, R. C. Sproul writes:

These two men were twin brothers. They were carried in the same womb at the same time; one received the blessing of God and one did not. One received a special portion of the love of God, the other did not; Esau was hated by God. The divine hatred here is not the expression of an insidious attitude of malice. It is what David called "holy hatred." Divine hatred is not malicious; it involves a withholding of favor. God is for those He loves, (as we saw back in Romans 8). He turns His face against those wicked people who are not the objects of His special redemptive favor. Those whom He loves receive His mercy; those whom He hates receive His justice; no one is treated unfairly.

So Paul's three illustrations then of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove that God chooses some for salvation, and He makes His choice unconditioned on anything in them. There are a couple of other classic passages that underscore this idea of individual and personal election, and I just want to show them to you. Turn back to John; John, chapter 10, and look at verse 14, Jesus says:

"I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep."

So He lays down His life for His sheep who know Him, who are His own.

Verse 16, "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; (Here He is referring to Gentiles.). I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd," obviously lived out in the life of the church.

Now go over verse 26. This is monumental. He says, "But you do not believe… (He says to the Jews who were opposing Him.) But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep." Notice what Jesus doesn't say. He doesn't say you are not of my sheep because you have not believed. He says the opposite, you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. Verse 27:

"My sheep hear My voice, (He's talking about in the Scripture.) and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand."

You see the point Jesus is making? He says, "The Father has given Me sheep who are My own sheep; and because they are My sheep, there's coming a time when they will believe; they will believe, and I will lay down My life for My sheep." You see Jesus knows His own.

One last text, go over to John 15; John 15, verse 16, this is in the upper room discourse. John 15:16, "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you." Now this verse is not just talking about Jesus's choice of the twelve apostles. In fact, Jesus is only talking to the 11; Judas has already left back in chapter 13, verse 30. And Jesus said of Judas, "He was not chosen," earlier in this discourse. But Jesus said to the disciples, "You didn't choose Me; I chose you."

You see, divine election then is individual and personal and this is so encouraging. Think about this for a moment, God didn't decide, generically, to save some people and you just kind of accidentally snuck in without His notice. In eternity past, God knew you by name. He decided to love you just as He loved Jacob, and He chose you just as He chose Jacob for salvation. What an overwhelming thought! God knew you by name; and individually, He chose to love you and to save you, "Jacob I loved." If you're in Christ, put your name in there. "Tom, I loved." Ephesians 1:4:

He chose us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world…In love, (having) predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will. (His will and purpose.)

What an amazing God we have! He is the only Savior, the only Redeemer, and divine election gets Him alone the glory.

Let's pray together. Father, as we have studied this, we are truly amazed at what we've learned! Oh, God, you are amazing and we stand amazed! We thank you for your universal love for all man, even your enemies, those who hate you, those who curse you to your face. You cause your sun to rise on them, and you send the rain; you give them good things in order to cause them to repent.

Father, you don't find any joy, any delight in the death of the wicked; you desire for all men to come to repentance and to a knowledge of the truth. And yet, Father, we also acknowledge that that was not what you decreed; that was not your ultimate purpose because there was something greater that controlled that decision, and we acknowledge, Father, that it's your own glory as we will see it unfold in the rest of this chapter.

Father, help us to bow our knees before you and to let you be God. We're reminded of the words of Charles Spurgeon that sinful man will allow you, Father, to be everywhere but on your throne. May we, who know you, bow in humility before you and in gratitude and in love, overwhelmed by your grace, that for nothing in us, you knew us, set your love upon us and have adopted us as your children.

Father, I pray for those here this morning who are not in Christ; you draw people to yourself as they see the reality of your saving character. They have seen that this morning. May they cry out for your mercy because "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." That will demonstrate your work in their lives if they will simply turn, and, Father, I pray that today, they would repent of their sin and put their faith in Christ. And it's in His name that we pray, Amen!