You are on page 1of 4

Part Five Getting Some Answers Quote?

Chapter Fifteen Hey, I Object! Uh, oh. I hear Alex behind me again. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’d swear that I can hear him yelling from where I’m writing. Here are the objections I hear him trying to make. Hey! I’ve Got an Objection! What About Personal Responsibility! Can you hear Alex screaming, “What about personal responsibility! If God sovereignly chose to hate Esau then why does God hold him responsible for his sins?!!!!” You’re right on one point – the personal responsibility one. I beg of you to realize the biblical truth that in the Pauline view of double-predestination, human responsibility is never, ever lessened. I think he has made that clear enough in chapters 1-3 where Jews and Gentiles alike stand under the judging hand of God because of their own sin. Bear with me as I quote Zanchius once more. “The reprobate shall undergo…punishment justly and on account of their sins. Sin is the meritorious and immediate cause of any man’s damnation. God condemns and punishes the non-elect, not merely as men, but as sinners, and had it pleased the great Governor of the universe to have entirely prevented sin from having any entrance into the world, it would seem as if He could not, consistently with His known attributes, have condemned any man at all. But, as all sin is properly meritorious of eternal death, and all men are sinners, they who are condemned are condemned most justly, and those who are saved are saved in a way of sovereign mercy through the vicarious obedience and death of Christ for them.”1 However, I also beg of you to be of humble mind and realize that both truths are equally emphasized in Scripture. This means that this issue is ultimately a mystery that neither you nor I can fully or humanly comprehend. We just don’t have the stuff it takes to completely understand these truths. But that doesn’t negate our responsibility to study them since they are revealed to us by God in His Word. So how’s your attitude doing so far? Tom Schreiner in his commentary on Romans, makes a good point for you to consider here:

1

Zanchius, p. 53.

“We dare not conclude that human decisions are a charade, insignificant, or trivial. But we must also beware of a rationalizing expedient that domesticates the text by exalting human freedom so that it fits neatly into our preconceptions.”2 And if that’s a little over your head, try Charles Spurgeon’s answer on for size. “‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out!’ (Rom. 11:33). We do not know why God has purposed to save some and not others, nor why, given his desire for the good of all, many are left in their sin. We cannot say why his love to all men is not the same as his love to the elect. We do not know how God works in us ‘to will and to do’ and yet leaves us wholly responsible for our own actions…We do well to be exceedingly diffident in our judgments respecting matters so unsearchable as the secret purposes of God.”3 Hey! I’ve Got Another Objection! Doesn’t Your View Imply that God Delights in Condemning People to Hell? No, it actually doesn’t. John Calvin, just before he died, read those famous words from the prophet Ezekiel: “Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the Sovereign Lord?” (18:23). Calvin then wrote in his commentary on Ezekiel the following answer to the objection above. “If anyone objects [that] this is making God act with duplicity, the answer is ready, that God always wishes the same thing, though by different ways, and in a manner inscrutable to us. Although, therefore, God’s will is simple, yet great variety is involved in it, as far as our senses are concerned. Besides, it is not surprising that our eyes should be blinded by intense light, so that we cannot judge how God wishes all to be saved, and yet has devoted all the reprobate to eternal destruction, and wishes them to perish. While we look through a glass darkly, we should be content with the measure of our own intelligence (1 Cor. 13:12).”4
2

Schreiner, p. 501. T. J. Crawford, Mysteries of Christianity, (Edinburgh, Scotland: Wm. Blackwood and Sons, 1874), pp. 273, 357. Emphasis added.
3

Calvin’s counsel on this objection is very similar in spirit to Spurgeon’s counsel on the previous objection. The point is that God says clearly in His word through the prophet Ezekiel that He does not delight in the death of the wicked. That is undeniable truth. But the Bible also says elsewhere that God has predestined them to perish. To God these truths don’t contradict. So before we rush out attempting to harmonize these truths, or worse to throw out one truth because we love the other one more, we must heed Calvin’s counsel regarding our view of God. We must view Him as Scripture presents Him, and guard those views with the utmost diligence, not allowing ourselves to waffle between our love for one truth over another. Hey! I’ve Got Another Objection! Doesn’t DoublePredestination Promote Pride? But won’t this doctrine of double predestination cause the elect to become prideful and lose the wonder of their salvation? That seems to be a pretty legitimate question. However, consider it in light of the context of Romans 9. First, on the criticism that the elect will grow prideful, Paul answers that in 11:17-24 teaching them that such pride will result in them being cut off from the tree. Paul “warns those who are chosen not to be presumptuous and abandon their faith lest they too are cut off from the people of God.”5 But on the criticism that the elect will lose the wonder of their salvation, the very context of Romans 9 itself indicates that double predestination does just the opposite. Indeed it actually makes “known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” (v. 23). The flip side of double-predestination actually humbles us, then, doesn’t it? Therefore, the vessels of God’s mercy through their election will become earnestly contemplative on the fact that they could have been prepared as a vessel for destruction (v. 22), but by God’s sheer grace were removed from that threat.

4

Commentaries on the Prophet Ezekiel, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1850), pp. 247-8. Quoted in Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching, by Iain Murray (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1995), p. 119.
5

Ibid.