by Lee Irons
The interpretation of Romans 11 is, of course, a highly controversial subject. Two of the major millennial positions — premillennialism and postmillennialism — go to this text, among others, to find biblical justification for their respective eschatologies. Although they differ as to the timing and character of the glorious, external, earthly phase of Christ’s kingdom, both the premillennial and postmillennial form of chiliasm agree that Romans 11 holds out the hope of a mass conversion of Jews and Gentiles during a long era of righteousness and peace upon the earth. Amillennialists, however, neither expect such a hope nor find it in Romans 11. They — and I include myself among them — take the view that this text does not promise such a massive eschatological harvest of Jews and Gentiles. O Palmer Robertson, in his important paper “Is There a Distinctive Future for Ethnic Israel in Romans 11?”, says,
The eye of man cannot tell whether this number is few or many. But the eye of faith is confident that the “full number” is being realized. For this reason, it is neither necessary nor appropriate to posit some future date in which the “remnant” principle will be superseded by a newly-introduced “fulness” principle.1
This is what I am calling the nonmillennial interpretation of Romans 11. I call it nonmillennial rather than amillennial (though it is certainly that) in order to accent the fact that this interpretation sees neither pre- nor postmillennialism in this passage. Paul does not address the millennial question. The question is not even remotely in the background of his thought (though the passage may contain teaching that would logically imply an answer to that question). thus, I have called my paper a nonmillennial interpretation of Romans 11.
Read entire article here.
Many people say that the Jews killed Jesus but is that true? If the only evidence on the matter were Acts 2:23, one however, would indeed be led to believe in their total responsibility. In that verse, Peter tells his Jewish audience, in no uncertain terms, that they were guilty of slaying the Son of God. So then is it true, that the Jews killed the Lord Christ? Mmmm!! Maybe not! Consider this, no actual Jewish person nailed His hands and feet to the cross. No Jewish soldiers whipped Him and crowned His lovely head with thorns. So why then did Peter say it was the Jews who took Christ, and by wicked hands crucified and slew Him? The answer is this, Peter, under divine influence, imputed the crime of Christ’s death to them. The grizzled bearded leaders of Israel had planned and schemed for Christ’s death, and now the nation itself was reckoned as being guilty of having committed the vulgar and violent crime. Guilt was imputed and reckoned to them because of the actions of others.
This matter of imputation is a serious business and not, as some suggest, a legal fiction. The Jews were guilty, by imputation, and treated as such by God. We also know that although the Jews plotted and planned His death, they did not physically kill Jesus. They couldn’t! Why not? Because Jesus, speaking of His life, plainly said, “No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:18). The Lord’s death was His own doing! His life was not taken by any man or group of men!
In Hebrews 7:27 we read that Christ offered himself as a sacrifice. In other words, Jesus, as it were, placed Himself on the sacrificial altar. He was not a helpless martyr reluctantly pulled along by crushing events. He was the Sovereign Lord in charge of all that happened. He was the master and commander of His destiny. Although Pilate sent Him to the cross, Pilate was not the one who killed Him. Guilty as Caiaphas may have been, he did not slaughter the Christ. Christ Himself moved history towards Calvary and there as our High Priest offered Himself as a perfect, sinless sacrifice without blemish.
Do you see His sovereignty here? Let me explain. Unless the Lord returns in our lifetime, we will all die. That’s just the way it is. When the shrouded figure of death points his icy finger at us, we cannot resist. We are powerless against him. Yet Christ went to the cross and chose the very moment of death. Death was not His master. He chose not to die until He was good and ready. We, on the other hand, are powerless against death. Ecclesiastes 8:8 points out, “There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither has he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war;” …. but this scripture is not true of Jesus. He was the only one who ever lived who had the authority and ability to lay down His life (John 10:18). At the precise second, at the fixed moment of His choosing. He humbled Himself unto death (Philippians 2:8) and voluntarily dismissed His spirit (John 19:30).
Jesus chose the exact moment of His death. The truth is; He need never have died — even on the Cross. He had the power to sustain His life had He wished to (John 5:26). But His earthly life was one of voluntarily relinquishing His divine prerogatives. His 33 years here were ones of loving identification with His people. When the redemption of His sheep was complete, and not until then, did the Great Shepherd, as an act of His free-will, bow his head to death.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour
And that’s the Gospel Truth!
Some men were, from all eternity, ordained to continue in their natural blindness, hardness of heart, etc.
OF REPROBATION OR PREDESTINATION AS IT RESPECTS THE UNGODLY.
FROM what has been said in the preceding chapter concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others, as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.” I shall, in the discussion of this awful subject, follow the method hitherto observed, and throw what I have to say into several distinct positions supported by Scripture.
POSITION 2. -Some men were, from all eternity, not only negatively excepted from a participation of Christ and His salvation, but positively ordained to continue in their natural blindness, hardness of heart, etc., and that the just judgment of God. (See Exodus 9:1Sa 2:25; 2Sa 17:14; Isa 6:9-11; 2Th 2:11,12.) Nor can these places of Scripture, with many others of like import, be understood of an involuntary permission on the part of God, as if God barely suffered it to be so, quasi invitus, as it were by constraint, and against His will, for He permits nothing which He did not resolve and determine to permit. His permission is a positive, determinate act of His will, as Augustine, Luther and Bucer justly observe. Therefore, if it be the will of God in time to permit such and such men to continue in their natural state of ignorance and corruption, the natural consequence of which is their falling into such and such sins (observe God does not force them into sin, their actual disobedience being only the consequence of their not having that grace which God is not obliged to grant them)-I say, if it be the will of God thus to leave them in time (and we must deny demonstration itself, even known absolute matter of fact, if we deny that some are so left), then it must have been the Divine intention from all eternity so to leave them, since, as we have already had occasion to observe, no new will can possibly arise in the mind of God. We see that evil men actually are suffered to go on adding sin to sin, and if it be not inconsistent with the sacred attributes actually to permit this, it could not possibly be inconsistent with them to decree that permission before the foundations of the world were laid.
Thus God efficaciously permitted (having so decreed) the Jews to be, in effect, the crucifiers of Christ, and Judas to betray Him (Acts 4:27,28; Mat 26:23,24). Hence we find St. Augustine* speaking thus: “Judas was chosen, but it was to do a most execrable deed, that thereby the death of Christ, and the adorable work of redemption by Him, might be accomplished. When therefore we hear our Lord say, ‘Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ we must understand it thus, that the eleven were chosen in mercy, but Judas in judgment; they were chosen to partake of Christ’s kingdom; he was chosen and pitched upon to betray Him and be the means of shedding His blood.”
* De Corr. and Grat. cap. 7.
Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady
Second, to show more plainly the two separate companies which are united in that one Body which constitutes the Church of which Christ is the Head, namely redeemed Jews and redeemed Gentiles.
Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism
But there is further reason, and a pressing one today, why we should write upon our present subject, and that is to expose the modern and pernicious error of Dispensationalism. This is a device of the Enemy, designed to rob the children of no small part of that bread which their heavenly Father has provided for their souls; a device wherein the wily serpent appears as an angel of light, feigning to “make the Bible a new book” by simplifying much in it which perplexes the spiritually unlearned. It is sad to see how widely successful the devil has been by means of this subtle innovation. It is likely that some of our own readers, when perusing the articles upon the interpretation of the Scriptures, felt more than once that we were taking an undue liberty with Holy Writ, that we made use of certain passages in a way altogether unjustifiable, that we appropriated to the saints of this Christian era what does not belong to them but is rather addressed unto those who lived in an entirely different dispensation of the past, or one which is yet future.
Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism
Let us get that very clear. Two scriptures will serve to show that God’s providence is directive with reference to the actions of evil men when it so operates that this evil action shall miss its issue, shall come to another issue neither intended nor desired by the perpetrator.
The first scripture is from the book of Genesis. The wicked brothers of Joseph, who had sold him into Egypt, are now in trouble in that very land. Their consciences accuse them:
“And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? Therefore, behold, also his blood is required.” (Genesis 42:21, 22.)
This was the human side.
On the other hand, hear Joseph: “I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold intoEgypt. Now, therefore, be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life *** to preserve you a posterity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it was not you that sent me hither, but God.” That is, you meant evil. God directed that action so as to change it into an issue that was not foreseen nor purposed by you.
The other scripture is from the fourth chapter of Acts. These two will answer for a thousand. They equal in importance any in the Bible:
“And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, Thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of Thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, whom Thou has anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:24-28.)
Now here was an entirely independent purpose and expectation on the part of Herod, on the part of Pilate, on the part of the Jews. They meant death and ruin and yet God’s providence governed their very malice to an issue neither foreseen, desired nor purposed by them, in that it accomplished not only His own predetermined purpose, working not for the ruin but for the salvation of the world.
B. H. Carroll—The Providence of God
The taking possession of Canaan, and the setting up of the true worship of God in it, not only prefigured the kingdom of the Messiah, but were preparatory to it—the foundation of the gospel structure. The carnal Jews, at the coming of our Saviour, it is true, did not enter into these view; and even his own disciples were much in the dark; but the ancient Israelites understood and felt them. God be merciful unto us, said they, and bless us, and cause his face to shine upon us– Wherefore? That they might be a holy and happy people? Doubtless this was a part of their desire; but not the whole. They prayed to be blessed that they might be blessings to the world; that God’s way might be known, through them, upon earth, and his saving health among all nations; that the people might praise him, yea that all the people might praise him, and all the ends of the earth fear before him. Canaan was a country situated in the center of the world, and, therefore, adapted to be the spot on which Jehovah should set up his standard for the subjugation of the world to himself. From hence, the little leaven should diffuse its influence through the earth, till the whole were leavened. Such appears to have been the design of God, in bestowing it upon the posterity of Abraham, and such are the effects which have been actually, though gradually, produced. Out of Zion has gone forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Rev. Andrew Fuller-God’s Approbation of our Labours Necessary to the Hope of Success-PreachedMay 6, 1801