Romans 9 and 10 are two chapters that are equally true. They belong together (with Romans 11 I might add as their capstone), and teach the twin doctrines of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. It is unwise to choose between them, or, worse yet, water down one for the other to try and maintain a little of both. Rather, embrace both fully. Stand upon each completely.
Granted – this is difficult, because Romans 10 brings to the table what appears to be truths that are not consistent with Roman 9 (or vice versa). But, as Norman Geisler says, “They are not incongruous … We apprehend each as true, but can’t comprehend how both are true.”
This is known as an antinomy, and because Romans 10 brings the counter but complementary truth to Romans 9, I have spelled it “an10omy” (notice the ‘10’ for Romans 10). Okay, enough word play. Let’s just be sure we don’t play with the doctrines taught in both chapters. We need them both and believe them both, regardless of our ability to grasp them both.
This an10omy has been debated for centuries, with leaders on both sides unfortunately urging people to unfortunately choose one or the other, thus ridding themselves of this humanly uncomfortable an10omy. Yet, what has been most beneficial to me is not the massive amount of words of men trying to explain away this an10omy, but rather God’s clear Word declaring it. So without any more ramblings from me, here are a few verses where Romans 9 (sovereignty) and 10 (responsibility) are both proclaimed by God without any divine disclaimers.
So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
…for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
1 Peter 2:8
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
Truly, sovereignty + responsibility = mystery! And that’s lighter fluid for genuine worship.