by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2 February 4, 2018 Humble, Texas (Download Audio)
(027)Thesis: Benefits come our way because God is "The Mercy Giving God".
Introduction: What would you say of God if you discovered that He had turned your experience of existence over to someone whose only interest in you was for you to be a tool in his hands to bring himself the satisfactions of all of his appetites? Alternatively, what would you say of God if you found out that He had retained all of the outcomes of your attitudes and actions for Himself to decide?
In fact, these are the only options on the table. Some might say, "Whoa, wait a minute; there is a third option: He could turn all of those outcomes over to me". However, this is a false deception. Its assumptions are two: first, that you are not one who views all others as tools to bring you to the satisfactions of all of your appetites; and, second, that you could pursue all of your appetites without subjecting others to your dominion over them. If, on the first hand, you are not pure enough to only have the best interests of others in mind in all of your attitudes and actions, for God to turn your experience of existence over to you is, in fact, the turning of your experience of existence over to someone whose only interest in others is that they be tools in your hands to bring you, yourself, the satisfactions of all of your appetites. This is the first option. And, on the other hand, if God has retained all of the outcomes of your attitudes and actions for Himself to decide, you have no other option because He is, after all, both omniscient and omnipotent, and it is fruitless for you to resist the reality. His only "other" attitude would be for Him to abdicate His identity as God and give that identity to you alone of all of His creation and creatures; everyone else would be subject to your appetites. If you want to be free of the appetites of others, you must allow them to be free of yours -- unless, of course, you want to be the "only" real God (making you Lucifer).
As we approach Paul's teaching in Romans 9:16, these are the only two options on the table.
I. The Details of the Text.
A. The sentence begins with "So, then,...".
1. The "So" is a translation of a word that is consistently used to set forth a conclusion that has been raised by a prior question (in our text that prior question is "What, then, shall we say?").
2. The "then" is a translation of the same word that was used in the prior question and it calls for the reasonable conclusion.
B. There is no "it is"; there is no "written subject" in the sentence.
1. When there is no written subject, it has to be supplied by the immediate context.
2. The immediate context does give us a "subject".
a. At issue in the context is, first of all, whether, or not, God's words express Reality and whether, or not, that Reality will eventually win out over all opposition (Has the Word of The God failed?).
b. Also at issue in the context is the question of whether, or not, it is "unrighteous" of God to extend mercy and compassion to others at His discretion.
1) His answer comes, first, as a declaration from God to Moses that He has the right to show mercy and compassion at His discretion (thus, inserting the reality of a "word" from God that expresses Reality that will ultimately win out).
2) His answer also comes from Paul's other teachings regarding "what is righteous and merciful": as long as God does not give to someone less than he/she deserves under the standard of righteousness, it is not "unrighteous" to extend mercy to someone else.
c. Thus, the "subject" of our current sentence is something like "The Outcomes of God's Intentional Expressions of Mercy".
C. The words "not" and "or" are the same word with the caveat that the second one has a suffix added so that they should be translated "...not...and neither..."
D. The word "wills" is the weaker of the two primary ways of expressing the desires of the one who "wills".
1. There is another word in Greek that expresses "willingness", but it is used in texts where the "will" is buttressed by a commitment to use whatever power is necessary to bring the will to pass.
2. The word in our text simply indicates a desire without any indication as to just how far a person is "willing" to go to fulfill it.
E. The word "runs" is a word that is used of a person whose "running" is deliberately designed to obtain a settled objective.
1. This means that Paul is considering the strength of the one's "will" as including a fairly high degree of commitment to bring it to pass.
2. Note particularly 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 where the "running" is designed to, first, win the race, and, second, to obtain the glory of the race.
F. The alternative is the strong word "BUT".
G. The descriptive phrase following the "BUT" is, literally, "The-Mercy-Extending-God".
1. This phrase nails down our "subject" as "The Outcomes of God's Intentional Expressions of Mercy".
2. This phrase also injects "displays of mercy" into the essential nature of God.
a. God is "Just" and there is never a final outcome of His actions that is "less good than a person deserves"; there is no unrighteousness in Him at all (Romans 8:28 inserts the fact that this issue is a process in which less good may temporarily exist, but in which less good is not allowed to stand indefinitely).
b. But God is also "Merciful and Compassionate" so that there will be at least some outcomes that are "more good than a person deserves".
II. The Significance of These Details.
A. They establish critical underpinnings.
1. The "not of him that wills" does not mean that God does not use the "wills" of men; it only means that those "wills" are not "determinative" of the outcomes.
2. The "nor of him that runs" does not mean that God does not use the "running" of men; it only means that the "running" is a "tool", not a determining factor in the outcome.
3. It is the decision of "The-Mercy-Extending-God" that is the ultimate determining factor.
B. They also forcefully insert "Mercy" and "Compassion" into the "T"heology that governs the thinking of those considering this text/context.
1. It has already been established that God is "Just" with no "unrighteousness" in Him.
2. But, Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 strongly imply that men typically use the "Justice" thesis to underwrite their "T"heology to the exclusion of the "preferred" attributes of "Mercy" and "Compassion".
C. They significantly insist that any outcomes of mercy and compassion are entirely up to God.
1. This is necessary because of the demonstrated and declared depravity of men who use their "wills" and "running" to pursue entirely selfish ends at the expense of others.
2. Thus, the very existence of mercy and compassion in the experiences of all men is entirely due to God's deliberate input.