Principle for Bible Reading
If God was governing Pharaoh, how could God hold Pharaoh responsible? Isn’t God the guilty one? In this lab, John Piper begins to unfold an answer to one of the Bible’s most difficult questions. If God is sovereign over us, even our sin, why are we held accountable for it?
Why Is God Not Guilty? (01:29–04:57)
- God is governing Pharaoh’s will, so that Pharaoh will not let God’s people go. This God-wrought rebellion allows God to show more of his power (in judgment). (Romans 9:14–18)
- Paul asks how God can find fault with Pharaoh if God was governing Pharaoh. (Romans 9:19)
- Romans 3:5–7 presents a similar problem. If my (or Pharaoh’s) sin is bringing about glory for God, then why am I at fault?
What Is God’s Will? (04:43–07:45)
- God’s will is to show his power and make a name for himself. (Exodus 9:16)
- God’s will is that all people know that he is the Lord, and that he is sovereign over all his enemies. (Exodus 10:1–2)
- God’s will is that his wonders be multiplied on the earth and in history. (Exodus 11:9)
- God’s will is to get glory. (Exodus 14:16–18)
Who Can Resist God’s Will? (07:45–11:30)
- Paul’s question in Romans 9:19 is a rhetorical question. He doesn’t expect an answer. He’s making a statement with his question. Asking his question is the same as declaring that no one can resist God’s will.
- We do not have ultimate self-determination. Ultimately, God’s will holds sway.(Romans 9:19)
- Our will still counts. We have a real choice, and moral accountability for our choices.
- If God’s sovereignty and your accountability seem logically impossible to us, we need to submit our limited minds (and logic) to the word of God.
- Paul’s question: If God decisively and ultimately governs our will, and we sin, why does he still judge/condemn us? We’ll look at Paul’s answer next time.
- Read Romans 9:19. Looking at what comes before this verse, why might someone ask Paul’s question, “Why does [God] still find fault?”?
- Read Exodus 9:16, 10:1–12, 11:9, and 14:16–18. What do you learn about the will of God in these passages?
- What is Paul saying with the second question in Romans 9:19? What answer is he looking for, and what does that say about the relationship between our will and God’s will?
‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series
This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.
Piper: “If God’s sovereignty and my accountability seem logically impossible, I submit my limited mind to the Bible.”