Romans 9:14-30 - God Hardens Hearts?

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Romans 9:14-30 - God Hardens Hearts?

#1

Post by JBirdAngel » Sun May 15, 2005 1:14 am

Im confused about these verses, it says that God hardens peoples heart and has mercy on people... why would God harden someosn heart? this sounds to me like God makes someone then in essence do evil, He makes it so that person cannot turn to God and continues to sin and do evil... which doesnt make sense.... how does God hardening someone work i dont understand, why would God harden someones heart if he loves us all and wants to save us all?

also then the Bible says stuff in the form of saying that only who God chooses can believe and be saved, it doesnt matter how much youw ant to believe or waht you do, you can only believe if God chooses for you to, is this correct? and isnt wanting to beleive a sign that God has chosen you to? how also does this work, why would God not choose everyone if he wants everyone to be saved? im not sure if these are all of my questions on this but im confused and cant think of others right now... thank you.

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#2

Post by Kurieuo » Sun May 15, 2005 2:02 am

I think it should be noted that God didn't intervene to change Pharaoh's heart in such a way that it went against Pharoah's freedom of choice. Pharaoh had hardened his own heart numerous times before God intervened and hardened it more. Pharaoh had already clearly made the decision not to let Israel go as is written in Exodus 3:19—"But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him." So God didn't change Pharaoh's decision, rather in His foreknowledge he knew how Pharaoh would respond and used it to produce an outcome that He had promised to Abram—that Israel would have a land their own.

I think given what we read of God elsewhere, that we can be sure God gives those who want to change plenty of time to leave or change before carrying out His judgment. Yet, there comes a point where God hands a person over to their own desires, at which point He may use someone's rebellion to further His own purpose. So if Pharaoh had been receptive to God's warnings, then his heart would not have become hardened by God. This hardening has been compared to the same way the Sun hardens clay. For example the the Sun may be responsible for hardening clay, but it isn't responsible for the state the clay was in which allowed it to be hardened.

I think Geisler summarises it well who has said that God does not harden hearts initially, directly, or against free choice. However, he does harden them subsequently, indirectly, and through free choice.

Kurieuo.
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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#3

Post by JBirdAngel » Sun May 15, 2005 2:58 am

what does the free choice part mean? or i dont know how to understand that?


also it seems to me that if God had to harden Pharoh's heart to accomplish His goal... that makes it seem taht had God not hardened Pharoh's heart that perhaps Pharoh would have given in and let the people go earlier or turned to God or soemthing... if it is that Pharoh wouldnt do that, then how would it be neccesary for God to harden his heart? it doesnt make sense to me?... also i havnt reallyr ead the Pharoh story but in one of my Bibles on this subject it said that Pharoh allowed the people to go in various forms and way, just the men, everyone but not cattle, and other various forms, which apparently werent good enough, but still seems his heart wasnt so completely hard or soemthing? i dont understand, is the idea that God hardened Pharoh's heart to continue him to say no so that God could do all the plagues to show God's ability and greatness? im not sure this makes sense to me...

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#4

Post by Kurieuo » Sun May 15, 2005 7:23 am

Not sure I understand what exactly you're asking, and what you do ask that I understand I'd think has already been answered some way in my last post. I can only recommend reading over my previous reply, and clearly highlighting anything that is unclear within it.

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#5

Post by JBirdAngel » Sun May 15, 2005 5:14 pm

you said free choice, what does that mean, or waht do you mean by that

and why did God have to harden Pharoh's heart, if God hardened Pharoh's heart then it wasnt only the Pharoh saying no, it was in a way God making the Pharoh say no at that point, if God had to make Pharoh say no, this means that otherwise perhaps Pharoh at htat point would have said yes...

why then would God do such a thing as to make someone in effect sin or do evil, the hardening of Pharoh's or anyones heart means that that person then isnt in line with God and there fore sins, therefore God prevents that person from stopping to sin, no longer giving them the choice to sin or not, they chose to sin initially, but then they do not, nto that that is unjust, as none of us deserve the chance to not sin or to turn and have mercy or anything, but my understanding from the Bible is that we have our whole lives to turn to God and that we can do it any time and all the time, but if God hardens our hearts so that we cannot, then this isnt the case, and if it is God's will that all be saved, why then would he purposefully harden someones heart making that person against God and God's ways?

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#6

Post by Kurieuo » Sun May 15, 2005 6:23 pm

JBirdAngel wrote:you said free choice, what does that mean, or waht do you mean by that
The ability to make decisions. Pharaoh had the ability to let Israel go earlier, but chose not to. God worked with his decision to bring about His own outcome—Israel being given riches before sent packing, and to show His strength was behind Israel.
JBA wrote:and why did God have to harden Pharoh's heart, if God hardened Pharoh's heart then it wasnt only the Pharoh saying no, it was in a way God making the Pharoh say no at that point, if God had to make Pharoh say no, this means that otherwise perhaps Pharoh at htat point would have said yes...
Why does the Sun harden wet clay? Because of the condition the clay is in. Why did God harden Pharaoh's heart? Because of the condition Pharaoh's heart was in. Everything God did via plagues and so forth, just hardened Pharaoh more. Since God foreknows everything and the decisions we would make under certain circumstances, I believe God played Pharaoh like a puppet master to produce a desired outcome for Israel and Himself. Only the decisions Pharoah made were ones he freely made.

The rest of your writing is really answerable with all I've said previous to this. It is a matter of understanding how one hardens that is key. To those who become hardened such as Pharaoh, responsibiliy for their actions ultimately lie with them.

Kurieuo.
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#7

Post by Felgar » Mon May 16, 2005 9:12 am

Kurieuo wrote:I think Geisler summarises it well who has said that God does not harden hearts initially, directly, or against free choice. However, he does harden them subsequently, indirectly, and through free choice.
I think there's alsoa false assumption by JB that a hardening of the heart has the end goal of keeping someone from God. When in fact, God knows that some will only turn after having been subjected to the consequences of their hardenned hearts.

1 Corinthians 4-5
When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature[a] may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

The sinful nature also references the flesh. This passage is about a Christian who will not repent from sin. God hands him over to be punished so that his spirit can be saved. It's just human nature that some will only turn to God from a position of weakness, and if God has to weaken someone in order to get them to do it, He often will.

I researched this very passage before and I believe that God gives us each conditions whereby we have a completely free choice about whether or not to follow Him. In some cases free choice may only be possible by first removing someone's pride, and that's what God does by hardenning their hearts.

Clearly Pharoh was an example of this. So too was Nebuchadnezzer, I think. (I have a sheet of references back at home to double check.) The Prodigal Son too, I believe is an example of this.

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#8

Post by JBirdAngel » Mon May 16, 2005 10:27 pm

ok, so then perhaps i dont understand how the hardening of a heart works... like are you saying that Pharoh's heart was hardened by God as a result of the Plagues God did, or my thinking was that Moses said let my people go, God hardened Pharoh's heart to make him say no(this being after Pharoh had siad no before, but not allowing Pharoh to really have a choice anymore), and then God did the plague, but is the plague the means through which God hardened Pharoh's heart? or am i lost still?

and im not sure about that whole handing over to satan thing, i mean the way you say it makes more sense i think, but on another board someone ended up saying in total that i was possessed by a vampiric demon and that he was sending me to satan and passing God's judgement on me or something... i think that may be what lead me to find this board, as i dont see that as much when asking a real question i havnt had anyone act quite like that... and i just didnt understand alot that guy said and atleast didnt agree with it... so i dunno what he was about..

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#9

Post by Felgar » Tue May 17, 2005 7:55 am

So with Pharoh, Kurieuo made the point that he was not going to let Isreal go anyways, so God used him to demonstrate His power to both Egypt and Isreal. God didn't take away Pharoh's choice, but rather He worked within that choice to accomplish His plans for Isreal.

As for hardenning an individual's hearts, I think God will often harden someone's heart for the purpose of demonstrating to them how foolish their pride is. So if someone is denying God, then they may turned over to Satan where they are basically brought to their knees as their life is ruined by the world and by Satan's main purpose to lie, cheat, and destroy. Turning them over is an act of mercy because in the end, the fact that the person is brought to their knees is much more important than the way they got there. I believe this to be the meaning behind Romans 9.

God also can use that process to demonstrate Himself to others who know that person. They see 1) the destructiveness of a life lived away from God, 2) the mercy of God when that person finally turns to God and is accepted no matter what they did as they fell, and 3) the healing power of God, who can take a life in shambles and raise it from the ashes - restoring the person and restoring his work for God. This is the point of the next 10 verses after that - Paul making the point that through all of it, God can certainly make himself known.

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#10

Post by JBirdAngel » Wed May 18, 2005 10:09 pm

sorry but it still doesnt make sense to me... like what if someone hardened isnt then brought to their knee, and what exactly do you mean by this... just our desire to put God first and to know him more and follow his comandments and follow his will? now im afraid that i dont put God first, and i feel that when i first thought of this i had a horrible thought about God not being put first or something... i do want to get to know him more and im afraid i dotn love him and stuff or anything right, but Jesus said that if we love him we will follow his commandments and so i want to follow his commandments because i want to love him... i dont know if that makes any sesne and so i think i love him i dunno i worry about everything, and im afraid of unknown aspects of God's will... which i believe will be taken care of as i grow closer to him, but im not sure how to do that... and not really sure how close we can grow here, we can learn of him, but not sure that we can really have a true relationship until we are with him in Heaven?

like the first bit of Romans made me feel great, talking about Heaven and stuff, and then teh rest didnt do much to hlep me feel anything really, and may have scared me some... not really sure why or i dunno...


also then the main point of this is that what does it mean that God hardens someones heart, i guess i dotn udnerstand that, from what your saying Felgar it sounds like Pharaoh said no, so God did a plague, and that God didnt really in effect harden Pharaoh's heart... i dont understand how God hardens a persons heart, nor do i understand how that still allows for free choice... i understand a person using their free choice to say no and then God hardens their heart, but in that moment now that there heart is hardened i do not see free will being there.. not sure if there is anything else... thank you

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#11

Post by Felgar » Thu May 19, 2005 7:36 am

JBirdAngel wrote:and not really sure how close we can grow here, we can learn of him, but not sure that we can really have a true relationship until we are with him in Heaven?
We can know Him very well while we are here.
JBirdAngel wrote:i dont understand how God hardens a persons heart, nor do i understand how that still allows for free choice...
What I mean by God hardenning someone's heart is that God may make it more difficult for the individual to repent. Why He does this is key question. And what I'm saying is that even when He does this, it is done in such a way that the person still has a free choice of whether or not to follow God. God knows what choices we will make and therefore when it will serve His purpose to harden a heart and also when it can be done without taking our free will. One of those purposes may be to draw a believer into a close relationship with Him. So maybe for a time God does make it so that the person will not repent for the end purpose of demonstrating His power, His mercy, and His faithfuness. The person may realize that and become someone on fire for God, through whom the Lord will be glorified and great things done. I don't think I can explain it any more clearly than that.

You do seem to be seeking and that is great. If you've accepted Jesus as your personal saviour then the first thing is to stop worrying. The next is to step up and start growing in your relationship with Him. Attending a good church is a good way to do that. Reading the Bible, fellowshipping with other believers, and talking to God through prayer also strengthen that relationship. And finally, making a public statement of faith and being baptized is an important step on your journey of faith.

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#12

Post by puritan lad » Thu Aug 11, 2005 9:20 am

There is not need to be confused about this passage. It means exactly what is says. Nor is there any reason to try to force "free will" into the passage when it is simply not there.

Could Pharoah have repented despite God hardening his heart?

Paul was the chief of sinners. Why was he saved and not Pharoah? Why did God not harden Paul's heart like He did Pharoah's. (I would argue that Paul's sin was much worse than Pharoah's.) The answer:

Romans 9:18
"Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens."

The Scriptures plainly state that God hardened Pharoah's heart, so that He could lay His hand on (judge) Egypt.

Exodus 7:3-4
“And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.”

It does not say that God “allowed” Pharoah's heart to be hardened. It says that God hardened it (and it says it on several occasions). Yet, Pharoah was responsible for his wickedness. The Scriptures tell us that Pharoah hardened his own heart. But that doesn't answer the most important question. Could Pharoah have repented and overcome God's hardening of His heart? How?

Proverbs 21:1
“The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

The text, once again, is not ambiguous, but very clear. If Pharoah had repented, then Pharoah, not God, would have received credit to the freedom of Israel from bondage. This is why God raised Pharoah, for this very purpose.

Romans 9:17-18
“For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.”

This is not hard to understand, just hard for many Christians to accept. They love the concept of “free-will” salvation more than the Word of God. God created Pharoah so that He could destroy him and show His power in the deliverance of His people.

Proverbs 16:4
“The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.”

To paraphrase Spurgeon, I am convinced that God loved me and chose me before I was born, because He would not have seen anything in me to love or desire afterwards.

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#13

Post by Felgar » Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:39 am

Could Pharoah have made different decisions? Absolutely. He could have turned to God just like Nebuchadnezzer did, and God would then have had a different purpose for Pharoah and Isreal's history would have been altered. God can both manipulate our hearts and retain our free will. Since God knew that Pharoah would reject Him, He then raised Pharoah for the purpose of demonstrating His power through Isreal's release.

There are a number of reasons why our own will is very important.

- Love is fundamentally founded upon choice - without choice there can be no love. If God controlled everything, then we would not be fullfilling our purpose to love Him.
- We are created in God's likeness; meaning that we are sentient beings that have the capacity to love and therefore to choose.
- God desires that every person come to salvation. Yet not everyone does. Those 2 concepts are both FULLY supported by scripture. So can anything overcome God's will? No, as stated in your Romans 9 passage. Therefore, God does not force His will upon everyone.

So you tell me, where is the break? If God wants everyone in Heaven, and we have no choice, how come so few end up in heaven?

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#14

Post by puritan lad » Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:54 am

Felgar wrote:Could Pharoah have made different decisions? Absolutely. He could have turned to God just like Nebuchadnezzer did, and God would then have had a different purpose for Pharoah and Isreal's history would have been altered. God can both manipulate our hearts and retain our free will. Since God knew that Pharoah would reject Him, He then raised Pharoah for the purpose of demonstrating His power through Isreal's release.
Say what? So God's sovereign will is determined by us? I'm glad I don't have that kind of power. I'm not sure I'd want to get out of bed in the morning if my will could overcome God's.
Felgar wrote:There are a number of reasons why our own will is very important.

- Love is fundamentally founded upon choice - without choice there can be no love. If God controlled everything, then we would not be fullfilling our purpose to love Him.
- We are created in God's likeness; meaning that we are sentient beings that have the capacity to love and therefore to choose.
- God desires that every person come to salvation. Yet not everyone does. Those 2 concepts are both FULLY supported by scripture. So can anything overcome God's will? No, as stated in your Romans 9 passage. Therefore, God does not force His will upon everyone.
Nice theories. Where is your scriptural support? Where does it state that it is our purpose to love God? If we are created in God's likeness in the sense that you say, are we omnipotent, omnipresent, or onmiscient? Where do you get the idea that God does not force His will upon everyone when the scriptures plainly state that he does (Dan. 4:35).
Felgar wrote:So you tell me, where is the break? If God wants everyone in Heaven, and we have no choice, how come so few end up in heaven?
Who said that God wants everyone in Heaven? What about Satan? He is more powerful than man. Can he use his free will to "give his heart to Jesus" and be saved? Read my limited atonement passage in the Calvinism thread.

Here is John Owen on "The Idol of Free Will".

"What a stout idol is this, whom neither the Holy Spirit, the grace and counsel of God, the calling of the gospel, the knocking at the door of the heart, can move at all, or in the least measure prevail against him! Woe be unto us then, if when God calls us, our free-will be not in good temper and well disposed to hearken unto Him! For it seems there is no dealing with it by any other ways, though powerful and almighty. “For grant” saith Corvinus, “all the operations of grace which God can use in our conversion, yet conversion remaineth so in our own free power that we can be not converted; that is, we can either turn or not turn ourselves,” where the idol plainly challengeth the Lord to work His utmost and tells Him that after He hath so done, he will do what he please. His infallible prescience, His powerful predetermination, the moral efficacy of the gospel, the infusion of grace, the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, all are nothing, not at all available in helping or furthering our independent wills in their proceedings. Well, then in what estate will you have the idol placed?"

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#15

Post by Felgar » Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:34 pm

puritan lad wrote:Who said that God wants everyone in Heaven?
God said it.

Ezekiel 18:30-32
Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

Repent and live is God's sovereign word. If He takes no pleasure is our death, why does He force us to choose death? How does that make sense? What makes sense is that He IS NOT saying, "I will make you repent." He is telling us to repent, ourselves. Of course with His grace is that only possible. And that's the point I think you fail to recognize. God can harden hearts and soften them, yes. And only through God's grace could we ever turn from our sin and choose to follow Jesus. BUT, that same grace is applied to all so that every single person has a real and legitimate chance to accept or deny God.

1 Timothy 2:1-4
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

I don't think anyone will disagree that if God wants something, He can make it happen. But yet He doesn't. He is making a choice NOT to overpower our own will on the matter of our acceptance of salvation. Otherwise, if he wants all men to be saved, why aren't they saved?

II Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

So that's pretty clear isn't it? That God wants everyone to be saved...

So now, back to my original question please, it is not vaccuous as I believe I have shown that God DOES want everyone to be saved.
puritan lad wrote: What about Satan? He is more powerful than man. Can he use his free will to "give his heart to Jesus" and be saved?
Jesus' redemption is not extended to the Angels, so no Satan cannot be saved. I don't know why, but that's what we are told by scripture.

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