‘Favour is my name’

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There is one special people whom the old testament projects as the most favoured. They are the people of Israel descendants of Abraham.

They are often viewed as God’s elect.They enjoyed the privilege of their Patriarch, Abraham, who answered God’s call devoutly and obediently.

Christians are also considered God’s elect; infact they are the new Israel because of their faith in Christ. when we talk about choice, we remember the doctrine of predestination as set forth in The Westminster confession.

A summary of the statement goes like this:

God from enternity did by the wisest and holy counsel of his own, freely and unchangeable ordain  what so ever comes to yet, so as

neither is God the author of sin,nor his violence offered to the will of creatures nor is liberty or contingency of second causes is taking away but rather established.


This doctrine has been wrongly understood and interpreted as meaning that the  evil  most men perpetrate is predestined by God.

God is wrongly ascribed the author of sin, but the doctrine clearly states that God is not the author of sin. Many, even Christians,

pervert  the meaning of predestination and choice either due to ignorance of God’s will or misinterpretation of God’s word.

There are indeed scriptural passages which taken literally tends to support

predestination and choice presenting some people has been approved and conferred with Goodwill while others are not favoured or are disapproved and rejected.

The conclusion then arises that if some are predestined to life then others are condemned to death.

If some are predestined to pleasure then others are condemned to suffering. If some are predestined to good health others are condemned to ill-health.

If some are predestined to riches, others are condemned to poverty. If some are predestined to salvation others are condemned to damnation.

The opposite of choice is rejection and this appears to portray God as showing favoritism to some people.

With the above Nations, one may rightly ask whether the concept of predestination and choice imply that our God is a God of favoritism?

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How can a holy, just and loving God show favour only to a part of his creation? How do we explain to the underprivileged that our God is good if he shows favoritism?

we would understand more about the concept of choice of Israel by looking at some of the passages that suggest

preference of the people of Israel,  either because they are Abraham’s descendants or because they are the new Israel through their faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul’s exegesis on God’s preference:

Paul’s exegesis on God’s preference and sovereign choice of Israel( Romans 9: 11) is often used to support the doctrine of choice of some people and rejection of others by God.

The following extracts are taken from chapter 9 of Roman and they suggest choice of some and rejection of others.

Jacob I loved, but Esau I hate(9:13)

God has Mercy on whom he wants to have mercy and he hardens whom he wants to harden( 9 :18).

 Vessels of wrath fitted for destruction( 9 verse 21 to 23). This statements, more than others have been used to argue and support the doctrine of rejection.

Romans 9 verse 11 to 12 expresses the prophecy about the relationship that would exist between Esau and Jacob and verse 13 is about esau rejection and Jacobs choice.

Esau’s rejection is a quotation from Malachi 1: 2 – 3. God said this some 1,400 years after the life of Jacob and Esau. It is an assessment of the life Esau and his descendants had lived which good now condemns.

In Hebrews 12 v16 to 17, Esau is called a fornicator and a profane person, who for one meal sold his birthright and who found no place for repentance.

By these, it is no wonder that God says to such a man that he hates him. This is in line with God’s demands for those who will become God’s children:

the arrogant cannot stand in Your presence; you hate all who do wrong (palms 5 verse 5).

For the Lord waches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (palms 1  versus 6).

Can we not conclude that esauo rejection is not the outcome of the predestination to hatred by God but his own wilful  deed ?

There is the understanding that God hardens the heart of some people that they might refuse his word and be destroyed in their own belief and wickedness.

An example is the case of pharaoh as recorded in Romans 9 vs 18 to 19 with a quotation from exodus 9 vs 16.

To understand this statement better we need to read the preceding chapters of Exodus. Pharaoh had already challenged God in exodus 5 vs 2 when he said who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go?

Here pharaoh claims that he does not know the lord and he is not willing, whatever may be the circumstance to know the Lord.

Pharaoh put the Lord to text. In the same way, Elli heard correctly cancelled his children against putting the Lord to the test when he condemned their profanity of God’s temple…

If a man sins against one another,  God may mediate for him; but if a man sin against the lord, who will intercede for him? (1st Samuel 22 verse 25).

His son’s however, did not listen to their fathers rebook. There sins  had become mortal sin.

We commit Mortal sin when we willingly and obviously reject the counsel of God through his word and spirit and willfully decide to stand against God .

Jesus expression:

Jesus expressed it as a sin against the Holy Spirit which will not be forgiven. In Jesus encounter with the pharisees, they willfully rejected his signs and wonders, though they knew these signs and wonders were from God.

In other to stand against Jesus and despise him and the signs and wonders he  performed, they accused him of performing miracles, especially exorcism with the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons.

 In this encounter, which is recorded in the synoptic gospel (Matthew 12 verse 22 to 30; Mark 3:20-27; Luke 11: 14 to 23 ),a blind and mute demon-possessed man was brought to Jesus.

He exorcised the demon and healed the man. This cause the consternation of many Jews who were drawn to follow him. But the

pharisees, in order to hoodwink the people and quench their faith and enthusiasm to follow Jesus, accused him of using the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons to perform his miracles.

This incident influriated Jesus, for he knows  fully well that the pharisee  consciously wanted to stop God’s work by this act.

He sounded a warning that this art is tantamount to sin against the Holy Spirit which will not be forgiven.

 

What the pharisees deed could be likened to what elymas did. He tried to withstand paul and the Holy Spirit during his first missionary journey at paphos.

The proconsul at paphos, named sergius paulus  had invited Barnabas and Paul and wanted to hear the message of salvation.

Sergius believed the gospel why elymas was trying to turn him from the faith. Paul boldly challenged elymas as a chide of a devil and full of all kinds of deceit and trickaery.

Paul cured him to be blind and he was unable to see the light of the sun for the hand of God was against him( Act 13:6_12).

 The proconsul immediately believed.

Expression of mortal sin john

This was clearly expressed by John in his epistle (1st John 5 verse 16 to 17). Here, John urges Christians  to pray for brothers and sisters who did not commit mortal sin.

As for mortal sin, he does not want any intersection made for it. In the context of this epistle, John was contending against the Gnostic teaching, which denied the incarnation of Christ and hence threw of all moral restraint.

Mortal sin  here refers to the diagnostic adamant and the persistent denial of the truth in order to promote their shameless art of immorality.

This way they encourage people to sin willfulling  against God. This kind of unrepentant sin leads to spiritual death.

We conclude on the mortal sin as sins committed willfully in perverting the glory of God. When people Willfully stand against

God and also persuaded others either by force or deceit, knowing they are rising up against the truth, thereby denying the gracious work of Jesus, they commit mortal sin.

This is sinning against the Holy Spirit. This was exactly what the sons of Eli did. To avoid the spreading of this thing to others, God willed there death.

 Those who remain stubborn after many rebooks will suddenly be destroyed, without remedy (proverb 29 v 1).

Pharaoh was stiff naked and obstinate. He challenged  the Lord flagrantly, arrogating power and authority to himself.

When Moses perform signs and wonders by God’s power, pharaoh trusted in the deception of his magicians and believed they possessed power greater than that of Moses and his God.

Inspite of all the signs and wonders, which God performed before Pharaoh in order to convince him of his own omniportance,  his

obstinate heart remains immovable, refusing the way of the lord in whom lies the salvation of all human beings – including pharaoh.

it is a swollen throat that God hardened the heart of people as he did to pharaoh but this is as a result of total rejection of God’s will on the part of the individual .

 Actually, God does not truly Harden anyone’s heart. Hardened of heart, result from a negative response to God’s justification of humankind, through his inestimable  Grace.

John warns us (Revelation 3 verse 22) about refusing Jesus. Jesus knock at the door of our hearts, if we open for him he will enter.

Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your heart. (He.4 v 7, Psalms 95: 7 and 8).

Evidence in the doctrines of rejection

Romans 9 verse 22 to 23 is often cited as a strong evidence in favour of the doctrine of rejection. In critical analysis, it is actually a strong evidence against it. Verse 22 speaks of objects of wrath prepared for destruction.

Who has fitted them? we are not told here. But the contest suggest that God has not done it.

 could it be that God endured them with much long suffering if he himself had fitted them for destruction? we noticed the

difference between this verse and verse 23, were it is stated that he has before, prepared them object of Mercy.

It is a clear point that they have fitted themselves for destruction by a negative response towards God’s saving grace.

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of god’s wrath, when His righteousness judgement will be reviewed( Romans 2 verse 5).

From the above exegesis of some of the Passgers of Pauline epixtles  used in support of the reprobation ,we can see that

the Paul’s  theology of reprobation was based on God’s absolute, unconditional and irresistible rejection of a part of humankind because of their negative attitude in response to God’s free saving grace .

These passages do not suggest a pre – science  or foreknowledge by God, that is God ordaining them to behave that way before creation.

predestination is based on God’s absolute sovereignty by Which he has bestowed his saving grace on people. The faith that leads us to accept that Grace is a gift from God.

But it requires a positive response from us. God Is Not unjust and shows no favouritism. He is giving  iniquity it’s right for judgement based on his own righteousness.

There is no injustice in reprobation. God loves all too well for he is our maker. But we must allow his lordship over us. God’s word knows No predestination onto rejection. the

purpose of God expressed in his word is not that certain people should be lost forever. On the contrary, this would contradict what God has revealed about himself in his world.

He is our Savior, he desires that all men should be saved. He gave himself in his son Jesus Christ a ransom for all (1st Timothy 2 verse 4 ,6); so that all might be saved pertaking  in his redemption.could he take part of this all and determine that these should not take part in his redemptive plan, but should be lost?

 

Bible passages like John 3 verse 16; Romans 3 verse 22, all suggest God’s purpose and desire for all to be saved.

We have to thank God he has destined sinners for external glory through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus if they turn to God.

But no where does God’s word speak of a preference for damnation. On the contrary God’s word says:

come, whoever is thirsty let him come, and whoever wishes, let him take free gifts of the water of life( Revelation 22 verse 17).

Logic of choice

How absurd is the doctrine of predestination for the intelligent educated person who understood that almighty God should have

his favourite, that he should pick out one small tribe among the families of humankind to be the special object of his attention?

But in any case, the doctrine of predestination and choice must be Central to any true exposition of the Bible.

From the very beginning, God chooses, calls  and send some particular people. God is always the initiator.

He chose Abel and not Cain, Isaac and not Ishmael ,Jacob and not Esau, David and not the elder brothers.

Why did God choose Jacob,a sly cunning, self-seeking man and not a esua, a perfect gentle man?

There have been some false ideas which surround the doctrine of choice which has made it unacceptable to many Christians.

There is always the idea that choice is preference for only privileged status before God. This first believe and understanding is something against which the prophet of Israel had constantly contented .

 many passages in the old testament tell us  of God’s undying love for Israel and of his commitment to its cause.

Here at this love and commitment to Israel as the instrument of God’s purpose of love for all Nations. Whenever Israel interpret God’s love as licence to do as they please, chastisement follows.

Iseral is always punished for all her sins while others nations are punished for just a few of the sins.choice  is not only a privileged but also a responsibility .

 A contributor to our daily bread understood these as he made an exegesis from Luke 12 verse 48; to whom much is given, from him much is expected.

He  compared his  tattoos and privilege to that of a child . This boy never knew his father ,and the mother considered him a nuisance. He survived by stealing and going through the garbage behind the food store.

He died early in his teen from stab wounds and nobody cared. His internal destiny is in the hands of God who requires little from whom litle has been given. (Luke 12:48)

Now he recount his own privilege as he narrated;

I grew up with loving Christian parents in a caring atmosphere of seven Brothers. The girl I married has been a loving wife for more than 55 years ,my son, daughter-in-law and

grandsons treat me with love and respect. During almost 50 years of ministry with churches and radio bible class ministries, I have been treated well. I have so much to give thanks for which also makes me more responsible to God. This is an awesome and frightening thoughts!

Privilege and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. No matter our degree of knowledge, privilege and opportunity, we must thank God for his goodness.

Then, we must use what we have given us in fairhfull service to him.

In a classic passage, Amos says, you only  have I chosen of all the families of the Earth; therefore ,I will punish you for all your sins (Amos 3 verse 2).

As the story on folds, it becomes clear that to be God’s chosen people means not just privilege but suffering, reproach and humiliation.

 Israel is therefore called to embody in her own Life God’s agony over his disobedience word.

In the New testament we find the chosen one Jesus Christ called to offer the ultimate agony of a debt which averted God’s curse on behalf of all people who would believe in him.

When Christians misunderstand choice and believe that as Christians they have a claim on God’s love which others do not have, they ignore the trenchant word of Paul.

There is no difference between Jews and gentiles – the same Lord is Lord of all who richly bless all who call on him. (Romans 10 verse 12).

This recognition instead of eliminating the doctrine of choice, becomes for Paul the very basis for the doctrine.

for how shall  they call on him of whom they have not heard and how shall they hear without a preacher and how can they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10 verse 14).

The universality of God’s saving love is the ground on which he uses and callls a community to be messengers of Truth  and bearers of his love for all people.

To be choosing, to be favoured, to be elected therefore, does not just mean that the elects are the saved  and the rest are lost.

To be the elect in Christ Jesus means to be incorporated into his mission to the world, to be the sign and the agent and the first fruits of his blessed kingdom which is for all.

It means ,therefore, as the New testament makes it abundantly clear to take our share in his suffering ,to bear the scars of the passion, to bear in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of the risen Jesus may

be made manifest and available to others. The logic of choice is all of one place with the logic of the gospel.

God’s purpose of salvation is not that we should be taken out of history and relate to him in some way that bypasses the specificity and particularities of history.

His purpose is that in and through history, people who will inherit The Holy City which Jesus is preparing will be raised.

This is achieved when people experience the wonder of God that is revealed in the sacrifice of Christ. It is such experiences that enables such person to overcome the wanderings of life and they find it through an ultimate life in Jesus Christ.

It is a calling of the church to bear through it and the secret of the Lost sheep of the crucified Christ.

The elect are to declare the praises of God who calls them out of the wordly darkness to the wonderful light of God.

It is a call to meaningful mission in the good list and sinful word; to declare God’s love for all, that all may come to share in the blest inheritance. If your name is favour let someone know about it.

Shalom…