Posts Tagged ‘Vic Reasoner’
Romans 9 has tripped many people up. I have known people who read the book of Romans and when they get to Romans 9, they skip to Romans 12. It seems people can’t seem to follow Paul’s reasoning in Romans 9-11 as they had in Romans 1-8. Yet when we skip Romans 9-11, we miss seeing the hand of God involved in His saving work.
So why am I only dealing with Romans 9? Why not first deal with Romans 1-8 before laying hold of Romans 9? And why not do a study of Romans 9-11?
The answer is simple: time. It would take me well over a year (perhaps two or more) to cover Romans 1-8 as I would like to. No doubt Romans is a wonderful book and it is my favorite epistle. It is the closest thing we have to a systematic theology book in the New Testament and it lays down Paul’s theology masterfully. Christ is exalted in the book of Romans and His saving work is glorified. God is seen as the sovereign God who sends His Son for our salvation. The book of Romans is a deep book. You cannot merely cover Romans in just a few blog posts. It would take too much time to dive into the depths of the riches of this book. Perhaps if I were a full-time student or a full-time Bible teacher, I might could devote long studies to the book of Romans but I simply cannot. Between my family and my work, I don’t have the time. I do recommend two main commentaries on Romans. The first is by Dr. Vic Reasoner and can be found here. The other is by Dr. Jack Cottrell and can be found here. Both of these are worth the price for them.
Secondly, why not deal with Romans 9-11? Again, time.
But why deal with Romans 9 at all? Because I have seen many people read into Romans 9 what they want to see. I have watched Calvinists for years read into Romans 9 “God’s absolute sovereignty in His unconditional election of people.” I have had Arminian friends who were not strong in their Arminianism fall into Calvinism because of Romans 9. Dr. R.C. Sproul says that he was an Arminian for the first five years of his salvation until he read Romans 9 and he could not get around it. Sproul states that he finally bowed his head to the sovereignty of God but not his heart until later. For Sproul and many others, Romans 9 is the point where they find Calvinism to shine. I have read many works by Calvinist theologians and every single one of them point to Romans 9 as the bedrock for unconditional election. I have had a Calvinist friend admit to me that he reads and re-reads Romans 9 often because he finds such comfort in finding Calvinism in the Bible especially here (and he adds he reads John 6 and Ephesians 1 in there as well).
Calvinists see Romans 9 as the picture of unconditional election. They see the sovereignty of God dripping from every verse in Romans 9. They see their own salvation pictured here and the reason why they hold to unconditional election.
That said, if you can show Romans 9 then to not teach Calvinism, you can show the Calvinist their errors. On the other hand, when Calvinists can take Romans 9 and teach their view of unconditional election, Arminians are often hard pressed to give a reply. This is why we Arminians must answer. We must not sit by and allow Romans 9 to cause other Arminians to embrace Calvinism.
Thankfully Arminians before me have paved the way. It is foolish to think that since the times of Arminius, no Arminian has replied to the Calvinist in regard to Romans 9. Of course we have. But with the rise of Calvinism today in the Western Church, Arminians must again wrestle with Romans 9 and provide a clear exegesis of the text. Sadly, few are willing to join this fight. I have known several non-Calvinist churches (not Arminians per se) who completely ignore Romans 9-11 when preaching a series on Romans. We must not do this. We must show that we can properly use the Word of God to provide a biblical basis for our faith. Arminianism does not rest upon the works of Arminius but upon the Word of God if in fact Arminius was sound in his exegesis of key texts. The duty of the Arminian is to open the Word of God and provide sound exegesis. I hope to do just that.
I will have more to say about Romans 9 in a longer introduction to come.
Had an e-mail this week ask me to name my five favorite Arminians and Calvinists and why. So here is a brief top five along with short reasons why.
Top Five Arminians
1. Dr. Vic Reasoner. I enjoy his commentaries on Romans and Revelation as well as his other works. He is an expository preacher, President of the Southern Methodist College, and a very skilled writer.
2. Dr. Robert Picirilli. His book, Grace, Faith, Free Will, is simply a good book. I have read it nearly three times. He also advocates expository preaching. I do differ with him over the KJV as he believes that the KJV is the best English translation though he is not KJV only.
3. Dr. Roger Olson. While I don’t agree with Dr. Olson on all issues (see inerrancy), I do enjoy his books especially his book, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities.
4. Dr. Jack Cottrell. While Dr. Cottrell is part of the Restoration Movement, he does consider himself an Arminian. His books, especially his commentary on Romans and his trilogy on the doctrine of God, are classics. Dr. Cottrell will make you think and he always takes theological issues and wrestles with the Scriptures for the final say.
5. Dr. Michael Brown. One of the best Christian apologists and a good debater. He and his friend Dr. James White often aim at each other yet Dr. Brown remains a godly man through it all. I met Dr. Brown back in the 1990′s and he was a man with a fire for Jesus. His preaching is a call to holiness. His book, Go and Sin No More! is a great read.
Top Five Calvinists
1. Dr. John MacArthur. I truly enjoy Johnny Mac. I had the honor of meeting him and found him to be a godly, warm man. His writings are full of Scripture and I love his passion for expository preaching. His book, The Gospel According to Jesus, is a must read for all disciples.
2. Matt Chandler. I enjoy Matt’s preaching style. He is not a deep expositor like MacArthur above but he does teach the Word faithfully and calls people to radically follow Jesus. His book, The Explicit Gospel, is a must read.
3. Paul Washer. This brother burns with a passion for Jesus. Paul describes himself as a “Spurgeonite” when asked what he believes. I love his zeal for the lost, his hunger for holiness, and his preaching of repentance.
4. Dr. Gary DeMar. DeMar use to have a 2 hour podcast that I would download and listen to in my truck. I first downloaded it to disagree with him but more and more he opened my eyes to many things. While I don’t always agree with Gary, he is an excellent thinker and writer. His book, Last Days Madness, is a good read.
5. Dr. Richard Mayhue. Some may not know who this is. Dr. Mayhue is one of John MacArthur’s right hand men. He is a good Bible teacher, a deep thinker, and signed a book for me once. His book, The Healing Promise, is a good read.
Dr. Vic Reasoner writes the following in his excellent commentary on Romans about the popular “Romans Road” that is often used in evangelism. His points are biblical.
First, Dr. Reasoner records the popular “Romans Road” as follows:
The plan of salvation is often presented as “The Romans Road.” There are usually five basic points:
1. All are sinners (3:23).
2. The wages of sin is death (6:23).
3. Christ died for us (5:8).
4. You must believe and confess (10:9-10).
5. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (10:13).
He then states what he would add to this:
While my motive is not to make things unnecessarily complicated, a more comprehensive presentation of the gospel as presented in the book of Romans would include more than five verses:
1. All sinned in Adam (5:12, 19).
2. The wages of sin is death (6:23).
3. Nothing good lives in us; our nature is sinful (7:18).
4. We have all personally sinned (3:23).
5. The wrath of God is revealed against godlessness and wickedness (1:18).
6. Those who commit any of the representative sins listed in Romans 1:20-32 are without excuse.
7. The religious sinner, described in Romans 2:1-3:8, is also without excuse.
8. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (5:8; 3:24-25).
9. Our only hope is the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation (1:17-18).
10. This righteousness from God comes to all who believe (3:22).
11. God has predestined that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (10:13).
12. We must believe with our heart and confess with our mouth (10:9-10).
13. We are justified freely by his grace (3:24).
14. Having been justified by faith, we receive the Holy Spirit (5:1-5).
15. We are no longer under condemnation (8:1).
16. We have assurance that God has forgiven us and accepted us (8:15-16).
17. Therefore, sin is no longer our master. We have been set free from sin (6:6-7, 12-18, 22).
18. But if we live according to the sinful nature, we will die (8:13).
19. God will cut off those who do not continue to believe (11:19-23).
20. Therefore, the just live by faith (1:17; 10:4).
21. God has predestined that those who love him should be conformed to the likeness of his Son (8:29).
22. Those who are alive, who have been made holy, and are accepted by God should present themselves as living sacrifices (12:1-2).
23. The body of sin will be destroyed in those who again present themselves (6:6).
24. We must live a life of love and obedience. The mature Christian life of submission and consideration is described in chapters 12-15.
25. The Christian also lives in hope (8:23-25), for now our final salvation is nearer than when we first believed (13:11; 2:7).
I use to believe that reading a Bible commentary was something you only did for reference work only. If you were studying a passage for teaching, it was vital to do sound exegesis but using a good Bible commentary was necessary as well. These commentaries could vary from book to book in the Bible.
Now, however, I enjoy reading from a Bible commentary just for enjoyment in reading. There is much to learn from them. Granted, some of them can be more technical than others but a good commentary will use both sound doctrine, exegesis, and will offer encouragement and exhortation from the text. For instance, I have been reading Dr. John MacArthur’s commentary on the book of Galatians. It has been good reading. His commentary is a strong presentation of the gospel of Christ and he works through the text word for word. It is very good reading.
I also enjoy Dr. Vic Reasoner’s commentaries on Romans and Revelation. I hear that he is also working on a commentary on Ephesians. Dr. Reasoner writes from an Arminian perspective but what I appreciate is that Dr. Reasoner is not focused on proving Arminianism nor attacking Calvinism. His focus is the gospel of Christ much like Dr. MacArthur. Certainly his Arminianism does come out in texts where it is needful such as in debated texts in Romans. His commentary on Revelation is one of the first I have ever read from that comes from a partial preterist viewpoint.
My point is that commentaries can be valuable tools for Bible study. A good study Bible such as the ESV Study Bible or the Fire Bible can offer helpful study notes and commentary but they are no where as in-depth as a good Bible commentary. We need to study the Word of God as deep as we can (2 Timothy 2:15). The Word is our sword (Ephesians 6:17) and it is able to defeat the lies of the enemy and this sinful world. How important it is then to study and mediate upon God’s Word (John 17:17).
I was listening to a Calvinist Bible teacher teach on Romans 9:20 and saying that Romans 9-11 teaches God’s unconditional election of people to salvation but he side stepped the issue of reprobation (though Calvin didn’t) by saying that God merely passes over the non-elect. He concluded that to teach that Romans 9-11 is not about unconditional election to salvation would be almost heretical.
Ironically, Adam Clarke and the early Methodists interpreted Romans 9-11 to be Paul giving God’s justification for His rejection of national Israel. Dr. Vic Reasoner points out that Methodist theologians such as Richard Watson taught that God predestined to election all who had faith. This amounts to the personal election of every believer and the corporate predestination of all who believe. Watson taught that there were three kinds of election in Scripture: the election of individuals to service, the election of nations or corporate, and personal election which is conditioned upon faith. Our election is conditioned upon our faith regardless of our race. This is Paul’s main point in Romans 9-11, that the Jews were rejected by God because they did not believe and were not saved simply because they are Jews.
Adam Clarke comments further,
It is observable that, agreeably to his delicate manner of writing, and his nice and tender treatment of his countrymen, he never mentions their rejection-a subject extremely painful to his thoughts-otherwise than in a wish that he himself were accursed from Christ for them, or to prevent them from being accursed from Christ, (ver. 3,) till he comes to chap. 11, where he has much to say in their favour, even considered, as at present, rejected. But it is very evident that his arguments in this chapter rest on the supposition that the main body of the Jewish nation would be cast out of the visible kingdom of God; and it is for this reason that in this and the two following chapters he considers the reception of any people into the kingdom and covenant of God under the relative notion of inviting and choosing, or of calling and election. The Jews were rejected and reprobated; the Gentiles were chosen and called, or elected. As this is most obviously the apostle’s meaning, it is strange that any should apply his doctrine to the particular and unconditional reprobation and election of individuals.
It is upon this rejection of the Jews that the calling and election of the Gentiles rest. If the Jews be not rejected, but are still the visible Church and kingdom of God, then the Gentiles, according to the most proper inference from the apostle’s doctrine, have no right to the blessings of the kingdom. Instead of being invited or called, they are intruders at the heavenly feast; and this the unbelieving Jews laboured to prove, and thus unhinge the believing Gentiles by persuading them that they were not duly taken into the Church of God; that the Jews were, and ever must continue to be, the only Church and kingdom of God, and that they could not be cast off so long as God was faithful to his promise to Abraham; and that the Gentiles were most miserably deceived when they supposed they were brought into that kingdom by faith in Christ, whereas there was no way of entering it, or of being entitled to its privileges, but by submitting to the law of Moses. This being the fixed opinion of the Jews, and the ground on which they opposed the Gentiles and endeavoured to sap the foundation of their hope of salvation from the Gospel of Christ, it was therefore a matter of the utmost importance to be able to prove that the Jews, by rejecting Christ and his Gospel, were themselves cast out of the Church, and this in a way perfectly consistent with the truth of the promise made to Abraham. He had slightly touched on this subject at the beginning of the third chapter; but it would have broken in too much on the thread of his discourse to have pursued the argument there, for which reason he appears to have reserved it to this place, where he (1) solemnly declares his tenderest affection for his countrymen, and his real grief of heart for their infidelity and consequent rejection, ver. 1-5; (2) Answers objections against this rejection, ver. 6-23; (3) Proves the calling of the Gentiles from their own Scriptures, ver. 24- 30; (4) Gives the true state and reasons of the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles, ver. 30 to chap. x. 14; (5) Proves the necessity of the apostolic mission to the Gentiles in order to their salvation, chap. x. 14-21.
I agree with Dr. Reasoner further when he writes, “Because Calvinists ask the wrong question, they arrive at the wrong answer.” Arminius stated that the real question before Romans 9-11 is, “Is not God’s word made of no effect if those Jews who seek salvation by keeping the law, not by faith, are rejected?”
The point then of Romans 9-11 is not predestination of individuals to salvation but about the Jews rejection of the gospel of God’s grace (Romans 11:28-32). Arminius was right!