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We currently have 150 emails now about Romans 9, by far the most asked-about chapter in the Bible in the inbox. Here’s one of them, a recent email from a listener named Aaron. “Hello, Pastor John! I was reading Romans 9 today and came across what is known to be a very hard-to-swallow passage and doctrine. While I believe God is sovereign, I can’t help but take into account Paul’s ‘what if’ statement at the beginning of verse 22. Is the language here being used as we would use it today? Almost implying that God can — but doesn’t necessarily mean he does it? Is that a feasible interpretation? How do you explain this conjunction and its implications?”
Well, perhaps just to encourage those who struggle with the message of Romans 9, let me give a little autobiography. When I was teaching Bible and Greek at Bethel College from 1974 to 1980, virtually every class brought up the problems of the sovereignty of God vis-à-vis the will of man.
God - Piper - Man - Sin - Discussions
“If God is as sovereign as you say, Piper, how can man be accountable for his sin?” And eventually in these discussions, I would go to Romans 9 as part of my answer. Then there would be great disputes over how to handle Romans 9, especially verses 1–23. So, in the spring of 1979, I asked for a sabbatical. I had been there about six years, so it was time. From May of 1979 through January of 1980, as I studied, all I did was think and pray over Romans 9 day and night, every day. I had to settle it for myself.
The point of what I’m saying is that it was a great struggle for me. I feel like Romans 9 is a watershed of how you view God. I had to...
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