“16So then, it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”g 18Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.” ROMANS 9

To understand what Paul is saying in Romans chapters 5, and 9 through 11, you first have to understand the sovereignty of God and the Free Will of man. Because God holds everyone accountable and will condemn the majority of people to everlasting punishment away from his presence, the just and sovereign God must have designed man to have free will. Otherwise, man’s disobedience would not be his own fault and man could not be judged by God for doing wrong. So sovereignty has to be understood to mean that the sovereign God gives each and every man the capacity to choose right or wrong, and this is his sovereign will. Calvinist get the sovereignty of God wrong and so they misunderstand what Paul is saying in Romans 9.

So what is God’s sovereign will that he will not budge on and has decreed will not bend on? God’s sovereign will, or buy it, he decreed from the beginning of the Earth and creation of man that salvation would be by faith – not faith alone – but by faith that works and trust in God to save. God by his sovereign will decree that salvation would not be to people who worked their way into heaven and out of the grave, but it is to people who love God and truly believe in him.

Like the Jews who were challenging Paul, Calvinist misunderstand Paul. Both feel they are the entitled and chosen few. And both are confused about works. The Jew put a high premium on works and the calvinist puts a low premium on works. But the Bible teaches something that’s in the middle of both and it’s called a working faith. In Romans the apostle Paul calls it The obedience of faith, Romans 1:5 and Romans 16:26. Both the Jew and the calvinist will result in doing works in a superficial way.

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