A Courteous Contrararian

Predestination 8

Written By: Jon Jaroszewski - Feb• 04•15


The Chosen and the called. The Predestined and the rest of us. Two ways to the Father and both through Jesus. We’ve been considering how God works with us all using the same methods but varies the degree of pressure he exerts on each group. The more power and responsibility entrusted, the greater the molding and shaping.

The one difference is that one group was pre-chosen and the other was not. But the chosen were chosen to help the rest of us to hear the word of truth. The chosen are God’s strike force, inserted into history to influence the rest of us without inhibiting our free will. The chosen are the cavalry and thank God for the cavalry! If I’m right in my conclusions, we’ve all been affected by Calvary and the cavalry.

I can’t resist going back to Romans one more tie to wrap this all up. To me, chapters 1-5 are a salvation history and beginning in chapter 6, Paul brings his discourse down to the personal level: We are a new creation but the old creature remains. Sometimes even Paul does things he shouldn’t or fails to do what is right. Evil is right beside him and another law is at work inside him.

What should we do? Beginning in chapter 8, one of the most glorious in all the Bible, he gives us the answer. But before he does, he gives a reassurance; there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

The answer to the lawlessness of our old hearts and the evil that is beside us? It’s up to us. At 8:2 Paul begins to show everything God has done to equip us and help us to choose correctly. Jesus not only died and rose to make us a new creation, the Holy Spirit indwells us. The Spirit is, as Jesus told us, another helper. And God has a plan – to redeem all creation, and creation knows about it. The Holy Spirit not only helps us to do what we know we need to do, he intercedes at times and we don’t know anything about it. Paul had to clue us in.

And finally, God has provided the Bible, and the church, and people chosen for just such a time as they are planted in, to help us become what God would have us be. That’s God’s methods and praise be to God!

“Whoa,” you should say here, “just where did you get the conclusions of that previous paragraph?”

From our old friends, the pronouns. He starts with those who are in Christ in verse 1. In verse 2-11, he uses “you,” meaning us. In verse 12 he uses brothers and sister and then alternates between “you” and “we” or “us.” Here because of context, I believe he speaking of all of us because he is back to speaking of the Spirit and the Spirit will work with the chosen as well as the called.

Then in verse 23 he changes his pronoun stance once more, this time with a double pronoun to strengthen the contrast. We ourselves.

23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

This verse is the one that first caught my attention, and later it was the verse that helped me tie Romans 8 to Ephesians 1. We ourselves sets off a group within God’s kingdom. Who are they? Those who have the firstfruits of the spirit. Paul himself belonged to that first group but evidently the Roman believers didn’t. I wondered if there was a cut off point between the two groups and I wondered if it was chronological.

When I noticed the corresponding concept in Ephesians, we who were among the first to believe, I began to think differently. It would have been odd for Paul to locate himself chronologically among the first to believe – he persecuted the first to believe. Unless we remember another statement of Paul’s, he was chosen before birth. Paul was a zealous believer in God, a staunch Pharisee.

Yet it wasn’t until he met Jesus that his beliefs began to focus on the right thing, a person who was God. As he was careful to tell us repeatedly, it wasn’t his doing, it was a gift from God. He was on his way, he thought, to Damascus, not a meeting with Jesus.

If this is the way he became among the firstfruits of the Spirit, we can also see how he considered himself among the first to believe. Just later in Romans Paul talks about Jesus being the firstborn among brothers and sisters. Being first is a position of eminence, not a statement of chronology. We ourselves, the firstfruits, and we, the first to believe, I think, are positions of secondary eminence, the new Chosen. And just like the inviters in Jesus’ parable, Paul was beaten (many times) and finally killed (once).

Let’s see how this idea that Paul, with we ourselves, is now talking about the Chosen few, the cavalry, affects the rest of Romans 8.

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