Saved Not by Human Will or Effort

Romans 9:14–18, Part 3

Principle for Bible Reading

If God is as big and sovereign as we have seen so far in Romans 9, that must have implications for us. In this lab, John Piper explores the question of human free will by examining the absolute sovereignty of God. He also points to a concrete example elsewhere in the New Testament.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–04:20)

Not Our Will Be Done (04:20–07:03)

  1. “ . . . not on human will or exertion . . .” means literally, “not on him who will or on him who runs . . . ” (Romans 9:16)
  2. “It” in Romans 8:16 refers to God’s election in Romans 9:11 and Romans 9:15.
  3. “Not on human will” (Romans 9:16) corresponds with “not because of works” (Romans 9:11).
  4. “But on God” (Romans 9:16) corresponds with “because of him who calls” (Romans 9:11).
  5. Therefore, Paul is simply restating the same idea he has already articulated in Romans 9:11, but in wider terms for the sake of application.

God Does What Titus Does (07:03–10:18)

  1. There is no such thing as ultimate human self-determination. (Romans 9:16)
  2. God put care into the heart of Titus for the Corinthians. (2 Corinthians 8:16)
  3. And yet Titus is said to have cared for them of his own accord. (2 Corinthians 8:17)
  4. When Paul sees Titus’s care for the Corinthians — real, meaningful, human passion and activity — Paul knows that God has done it. (2 Corinthians 8:17)

Study Questions

  1. Romans 9:16 begins with “So then . . . ” Explain how Paul’s inference works. How does what comes before ground what comes after?
  2. What is the “it” in Romans 8:16?
  3. Read 2 Corinthians 8:16–17. How do these verses confirm or enlighten Romans 9:16?

‘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: “There is no such thing as ultimate human self-determination.”