Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live?" - John Hendryx

From Reformation Theology

"Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live?"

 Question: How can you reject free will. Does not Moses say to the Israelites "Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live?" (Deut 30:19)

Response: Yes it is indeed true that God commands the Israelites to "choose life", But when read in the context of the whole chapter, Moses reveals that the power to obey this command comes from regenerating grace:
"And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deut 30:6)
In other words, God commands people to obey, but he also supplies all the grace needed to do so. The command to believe does not itself contain the power to do so. God commanding obedience (what we ought to do) does not mean a person can do this apart from grace. God must set them free from innate love of sin and natural hostility to God, if they have any hope of moving toward Him. Left to ourselves we are too proud to let go of our self-complacency and self-righteousness and so we will never rightly understand our woeful, guilty, and lost condition, unless God grants it.
So why did not all Israel believe? Because not all were children of promise. Some God left to their own boasted free will, letting them do what they wanted. In Romans 9: 6-8 it says of Israel:
"For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring."
This means that spiritual circumcision was not given to all physical descendants of Abraham but to the children of promise in their midst. The rest were commanded but refused to obey. Some get mercy but the rest get justice.

In 2 Chronicles 30:6-12 we also are given a glimpse of what takes place behind the scenes of how it is that some people believe the gospel while others do not:
So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the Lord God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. 8 Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” 10 So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. 11 However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.
Why did some believe? According to this passage, it is because God had mercy on them and gave them a heart to follow God's command to repent. Notice that the rest scorned and mocked God's word.
May the Lord grant us all eyes to see this truth.

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