Election: Some Conclusions

At this point, I’ve not answered all the questions and certainly haven’t solved all the disagreements between Calvinists and Arminians. That’s not been the goal. The goal is to learn what Paul has to teach us in Rom 9 – 11, and I’ve learned a lot and hope the readers have as well.

I’ve learned that —

  • Israel was a critically important step in God’s redemptive plan. And I’ve learned that God’s promises to Israel remain true today. But those promises are conditioned on faith in Jesus, and most Jews today are not believers.
  • Although God loves the Jewish people, he considers rejection of Jesus just as damning as Baal worship.
  • Also, God brings his blessing to his people through Jesus, not the force of arms. God had little patience with the Jews who sought to bring the blessings of God by overthrowing the Romans. They should have sought God’s blessings through his Messiah, instead.
  • The many promises in the Old Testament about the blessings to come when God’s people are returned to the Promised Land are realized in Jesus. We live in a not-yet/already time, when the Kingdom is here but not fully here, and so the promises remain true — so that we’ll enjoy the blessings of God in full at the Eschaton (the end of time).
  • We do not fully enjoy those blessings today. We may even suffer martyrdom for the sake of the Kingdom, and yet the blessings are coming true. In fact, we can see human progress — human rights, improved medicine, greater freedom, as blessings from God that are but a foretaste of the blessings yet to come. (Kuyper has this right.)
  • “Call” and “election” in Rom 8 – 10 is about the flow of history and God’s redemptive plan coming to fruition. God elected the Jews, and yet most rejected his Messiah and so became enemies of God. And yet God’s promise remains available to the Jews to once again be part of God’s Israel, through faith.
  • God elected those with faith in the Messiah, and this election will be successful. The re-formed Israel will not be reduced to a mere remnant, but will remain secure in God’s promises forever. This newly realized Israel isn’t destined to rebellion and becoming a mere remnant like the original Israel.
  • Indeed, the true Israel will be glorified, by being in God’s presence forever. This true Israel will consist of those with faith in the Messiah to come, before Jesus, and with faith in the Messiah who has come, after Jesus.
  • We Christians cannot look down on those who believed in a Messiah who’d not yet come, and we must realize that their scriptures are our scriptures. Their promises are our promises. Indeed, we are not part of a new dispensation. We are part of the realization of God’s covenants with Abraham and Moses.
  • God’s work through Abraham and Moses is the root of the olive tree. Jesus himself is the shoot growing from the stump of the olive tree. And we Gentiles have been grafted into the tree. And we would remain wild shoots, destined for fire, but for being added to the root. We are not the root.
  • Indeed, much of the Christian dismissal of the Old Testament is the product of an anti-Semitism that infected much of New Testament scholarship in the preceding centuries. God did not supersede a Jewish Israel with a Gentile church. Rather, he added the Gentile Christians to his Jewish family. And he brought us in by grace, through faith, because it’s the only way it could have happened.
  • We’ve been made Jews, because we’ve been added to Jesus, a Jew. We should not despise our kinsmen or our “roots.” They are now our roots.
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6 Responses

  1. I had been a Christian for almost 30 years before I came to see the importance of the promises made to Abraham. (I’m a bit ashamed to write that)

    “Rather, he added the Gentile Christians to his Jewish family.” That’s the part that I had missed all those years, I guess. I’m trying to learn to value that more.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  2. One of us is confused. Are you a Gentile or a Jew? If you are a Jew, which tribe are you? I never heard of any denomination that understands election the way you have explained it. If some are elected (called out) and some are not, please tell what the called out are called out to. Do you make a distinction between a general calling of all people and efficacious calling of some people or is it all the same in your teaching? The scriptures say many are called but few are chosen. This group of lessons seems to involve a whole bunch of double speak.
    Miguel Levin

  3. Aaron,

    I’m a Gentile grafted into Israel by the blood of Jesus.

    The series is about election, not calling, but it’s not intended as a complete theology of election — just an exegesis of the passages covered.

    If you believe Paul taught something in these particular passages other than what I’ve suggested, you are welcome to offer your opinion, just as I have offered mine.

  4. Jay,
    In a previous post in this series you wrote a paragraph or more about calling. Now you say you are only discussing election and don’t want to answer my query about calling. Am I required to ask my question in response to that post? Do you consider that typically Jewish behavior, or more typical of a Gentile? I’m sure you don’t consider it typical Christian thinking. 😉
    Aaron

  5. Aaron,

    I don’t always have an answer, and I wouldn’t pretend that my study of the issues raised by Calvinism is complete. There are lots of questions someone might ask that I can’t answer.

    But it dawned on me that I’d done a word study on “call” quite some time ago — two years ago, as it turns out. That’s about a 1000 posts in the past. I just plain forgot.

    So I’m going to dust it off, polish it up a bit, and re-post it shortly.

  6. Aaron,

    I found that it was dustier than I thought. I had to re-write the whole thing. Anyway, it’s scheduled to post 10/12 and 10/13. I move things around sometimes, so the date could slide.

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