For years Christians have argued about what role God has in humans attaining salvation. The most popular belief in American culture is the concept of free will. Free will is the belief that coming to Christ and being saved is a freewill choice of the person. Most churches believe this concept to be true at least to some degree. The other belief is the concept of Predestination. Predestination is the belief that God chooses who to save and who to damn. The biggest denomination in the United States that believes this is the Calvinists or more commonly known as the Reformed denomination.
The debate will probably continue for many years to come. By reading Romans 9:1-29 we can tell clearly which concept Paul believes to be true. While I read Romans 9:1-29 I kept clearly in my mind the two beliefs of freewill and predestination. After reading it was apparent to me that Paul believes strongly in predestination. This, in my opinion, goes against human nature. I, at least, find it very hard to believe that if God chooses not to extend grace to a person that person cannot attain salvation no matter what they believe or what they do.
Paul uses an example about Jacob and Esau. In Romans 9: 10-13 Paul uses Malachi 1:2-3 that says that “ I have loved Jacob, but I have loved Jacob” Paul then says that God had decided that before they were even born so as it says in verse 11-12 “ that God’s purpose of election might continue, not by works, but by his call. ” If Paul is right about this and you interpret the Bible literally than predestination has to be true. It is completely possible that Paul is biased though when writing about predestination. Paul believes strongly in salvation by faith not works.
In Romans 3: 27- 28 Paul says “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. ” This is just one of many examples of how much Paul hates the idea of faith by works. There are many other examples of this in books written by Paul outside of Romans that convey the same message. Since Paul believes strongly in salvation by faith this would, in theory, make him lean towards predestination.
Freewill means that we as humans make a choice to believe in God and be saved. Paul would see this as an example of justification by works and he clearly states in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. ” Paul believes that nothing we can do nothing to save ourselves which is the main idea of freewill. This makes Paul potentially biased toward predestination.
I believe that this passage isn’t trying to address personal salvation as a main point, but I think we infer Paul’s view on personal salvation through the verse. I believe that Paul was more trying to point out that we can do nothing to save ourselves. It is completely up to God. Paul was trying to stress that firstly, but then through that seems to make a case, as far as personal salvation goes, for predestination. He specifically mentions how he picked Jacob over Esau. If God chooses individually like that then I, at least, deduce from this passage according to Paul that God must choose who to save on a personal level.
My rational human side tells me that predestination cannot be right, but then I read Romans and Paul says that predestination is right and freewill is wrong. The question then is if I believe Paul just because that is his opinion, even though it is most likely biased, or do I believe what seems right to me? I’m still torn between the two because what I want to believe is contradicted by Paul. Maybe we’ll never know for sure because the concept of God is impossible for our minds to completely understand in the first place.