(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 10/25/09 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Please turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 9. I'll be reading verses 10 through 24:
Romans 9: (10) And not only so, but also Rebekah conceiving of one, our father Isaac, (11) for [the children] not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of the [One] calling, (12) it was said to her, The greater shall serve the lesser; (13) even as it has been written, I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau. (14) What then shall we say? [Is there] not unrighteousness with God? Let it not be! (15) For He said to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will pity whomever I will pity. (16) So, then, [it is] not of the [one] willing, nor of the [one] running, but of the [One] showing mercy, of God. (17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, For this very thing I raised you up, so that I might display My power in you, and so that My name might be publicized in all the earth. (18) So, then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. (19) You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? (20) Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the [One] forming [it], Why did You make me like this? (21) Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? (22) But if God, desiring to demonstrate His wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, (23) and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, (24) whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also out of nations.
We have seen thus far that God unconditionally loves some people and unconditionally hates other people. We have seen that God unconditionally shows mercy to some people and unconditionally hardens other people. In the area of hardening, we have seen that God actively hardens certain people by causing them to hate His glory, persecute His people, and oppose His gospel. In the last sermon, we saw the most common objection to the doctrine that God actively hardens people by causing them to sin, which is in verse 19:
Romans 9: (19) You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?
The objection is this: How can God hold a person responsible, find fault with, and punish someone who is just doing what God has caused him to do? This objection would make absolutely no sense if Paul had not put forth unconditional, active hardening beforehand. The objector totally understands that Paul just said that God causes the reprobate to sin, and he replies, "Why does God find fault with people who sin if God caused them to do it? Since they are not able to resist God's decretive will, how can he hold them responsible and punish them?"
Now we get into Paul's answer by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This answer is so telling, so clear, so confirming of the truth of God's sovereign, unconditional, active election and reprobation, that it completely shuts the mouths of the objectors. It absolutely confirms the correct interpretation of verses 18 and 19. Let's look at the answer to the objector in verses 20 through 24:
Romans 9: (20) Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the [One] forming [it], Why did You make me like this? (21) Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? (22) But if God, desiring to demonstrate His wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, (23) and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, (24) whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also out of nations.
So how does Paul start in his answer to the objection, "Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?" He answers, "Yes, rather, O man, who are you answering against God?" Now wait a minute, Paul. Where's the love? Isn't that unduly harsh, even mean or surly or rude? Couldn't the objector just be misunderstanding what Paul had said? Couldn't he just be confused? Why not answer the objector a little more kindly, like, "Well, my brother, you're just confused about what I said about God hardening whomever He desires. If I explain it a little further, I think I can clear up your misunderstanding." No, instead Paul says, "Who do you think you are to object to God?" Now this right here shows that the objector did NOT misunderstand what Paul was saying in verse 18. The objector KNEW that Paul was putting forth the doctrine of absolute, unconditional, active hardening, active causation of sin, active reprobation, the end of which is punishment. It wasn't the objector's MISUNDERSTANDING of unconditional reprobation and causation of sin that Paul replies to; it is the objector's OBJECTION to unconditional reprobation and causation of sin that Paul replies to. The objector knew very well what Paul was saying. And instead of bowing to God's sovereignty, the objector says, "Well, then God can't find fault with anybody who sins, because nobody resists God's causing them to sin. That makes God a monster, a devil, a tyrant, an evil puppeteer who makes people do things and then destroys them for doing what he made them do." And the answer comes back from God the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul: "Yes, rather, O man, WHO ARE YOU answering against God? WHO ARE YOU shaking your fist at God, saying that this makes God unfair and unjust? Just WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE to talk back to God?" That's quite a way to start out answering the objector, isn't it? Was Paul manifesting the fruit of the Spirit when he answered the objector in this way? Was he being mean, surly, or unduly harsh? Was he disobeying God's command in Colossians 4:6 to "Let your word be always with grace, having been seasoned with salt, to know how you ought to answer each one"? Was he disobeying God's command in 2 Timothy 2:23-25 to "refuse the foolish and uninstructed questionings, knowing that they generate quarrels. But a slave of the Lord ought not to quarrel, but to be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness teaching those who have opposed, if perhaps God may give them repentance for a full knowledge of the truth"? Of course he wasn't disobeying these commands, because the Holy Spirit did not inspire Paul to write error. And not only that, but the ATTITUDE conveyed in this perfectly inspired writing is perfectly inspired. Have you ever heard people say, "I agree with your doctrine, but I don't agree with your attitude"? Well, of course, we who are not inspired can have the wrong attitude when we put forth the truth, but that's usually not what they're talking about. They're talking about being blunt and confrontational and not mincing words, calling evil evil and using biblical words and attitudes when we speak and write to others. When people say, "I agree with your doctrine, but I don't agree with your attitude," what they're really showing is that they actually don't agree with our DOCTRINE. The attitude is actually part of the doctrine. So when we emulate Paul by telling someone, "WHO ARE YOU, O man, to answer against God?", these people would say, "Your words aren't with grace, and you're not teaching the opposer in meekness." By saying that, they've not only accused YOU of sin, but they have accused the HOLY SPIRIT of inspiring Paul to write sin, which is an even more serious accusation. So when we answer the objectors, let us be imitators of Paul, and we won't go wrong, no matter what our accusers say.
So what is the next thing Paul says after his stinging rebuke of the objector? Look at the second part of verse 20 through verse 24:
Romans 9: (20b) Shall the thing formed say to the [One] forming [it], Why did You make me like this? (21) Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? (22) But if God, desiring to demonstrate His wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, (23) and that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before prepared for glory, (24) whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also out of nations.
Wait a minute, Paul. Where's your exposition of "judicial hardening" in which you say that God only hardens people who first harden themselves? Where's your answer that "God withholds His restraining grace" or that "God withdraws His gracious influences" or that "God leaves men to their natural blindness, to the hardness and unrestrained tendencies of their hearts, to the corruptions of their nature, to their own depraved wills and desires so they are free to act according to their own inclinations and the free exercise of their evil dispositions"? There's something seriously wrong here, if you would believe Calvinists like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Robert Haldane, W.G.T. Shedd, Robert Dabney, Charles Hodge, A.A. Hodge, Loraine Boettner, John Murray, and all who agree with them. If there were one place in the Bible for the Holy Spirit through Paul to put forth these doctrines, this would be it. After all, the objector has just said that God can't find fault if He causes the sin. Now would be the time to say that God doesn't cause the sin but merely permits it to happen by withdrawing restraints and leaving men to their own depraved free wills. Why isn't it here? Why does Paul respond by saying that the thing formed has no business asking the one who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?" And why does Paul respond by saying that the potter has authority to make one vessel to honor and one to dishonor, instead of saying that the vessel to dishonor makes himself that way and fits himself out for destruction when God withdraws restraining grace or judicially hardens him? Now's the time to do it, Paul. Now's the time to make these Calvinists and their Arminian brothers happy. Now's the time to give them that proof text that they've been yearning for. Then they wouldn't have to make up theories in which God lets go of some of His sovereignty - they could just point to Paul's response to the objector and say, "See, here it is. God CAN find fault with the sinner because God ISN'T the one who made people like this." That actually would be a good response to the objector according to these Calvinists, wouldn't it? So the objector says, "Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?" And a good response for Paul to have, according to these Calvinists, would be, "Well, the reason God can find fault is because God did NOT make you like this. Had He made you like this, you're right - He could not find fault. But GOD didn't make you like this - you made YOURSELVES like this, you made YOURSELVES into vessels of dishonor, and thus God CAN find fault, because He didn't actively do anything to make you this way. He was just letting your nature do what it is naturally inclined to do." To them, that sounds a lot more kind to God, doesn't it? Yes, and not only that, but these Calvinists would say that to say otherwise - to say that God actually MADE people into vessels of dishonor -- is to think meanly of God, to libel and dishonor Him, and even to blaspheme Him. I was going to put a quote from Spurgeon in here right now, but I think I'll wait until the next sermon that talks about vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction.
So now let's go into what the rest of Paul's answer really means. Let's look at the second half of verse 20 again:
Romans 9: (20b) Shall the thing formed say to the [One] forming [it], Why did You make me like this?
God says something similar in Isaiah 29, verses 15 and 16. Let's turn over there:
Isaiah 29: (15) Woe [to] those who go deep to hide [their] purposes from Jehovah; yea, their works are in the dark; and they say, Who sees us? And, Who knows us? (16) Oh your perversity! Shall the former be counted as the clay? For shall the work of its maker say, He did not make me? Or shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, He does not understand?
Here God pronounces a curse on those who sin in secret, thinking that God would not see them. God shows how absurd this is by comparing man to "the thing formed" and God to "him who formed it." Can what is formed say to the one who formed it, "He does not understand" or "He doesn't know"? How foolish for man, who is formed by God, to think that he can do something that is hidden from God, who formed man. It is like the clay saying to the potter, "You didn't make me." And it is like the potter being counted as the clay. It is saying that God is like man. To think that when you do something in secret God doesn't know about it is to think that God is like man, who cannot see what others do in secret. This is the same for people who set up a standard for righteousness and apply it to God, saying that God cannot be righteous, cannot be fair, cannot be just, if He unconditionally loves and has mercy on some and unconditionally hates and hardens others. This is counting the former, the potter, as the clay. And any doctrine that seeks to bring God and His attributes down to the level of man is counting the potter as the clay. It is idolatry. So now let's go back to Romans 9:20. As in Isaiah, Paul compares the man to "the thing formed" and God to "the One forming it." This time, he exposes the absurdity of the thing formed complaining to the one who formed it, "Why did You make me like this?" This is man answering against the God who made him. This is the created man saying to God the creator, "Why did You make me like this?" Now notice that man is complaining that God made him LIKE THIS. What does "LIKE THIS" mean? Well, if you look at this in context, it is talking about God making the man to be someone He hardens. It is talking about God making the man a reprobate. It is talking about God making the man a vessel to dishonor, as verse 21 says, and a vessel of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, as verse 22 says. The man is asking, "Why did you make me like this?" along the lines of the objector. So this reprobate is asking God, "Why do you find fault with me? After all, you're the one who made me like this. It's your fault, not mine. I'm not to blame. You are." And God says that this man has as much business complaining about what God made him as the pot has complaining about what kind of pot the potter made him into. Notice again that Paul does not say anything about this reprobation being conditional. In this rhetorical question, he again establishes God's sovereign right to make a person a reprobate. That's right - MAKE a person a reprobate. The man asks, "Why did you MAKE me like this?" Now how would Spurgeon and his brothers answer that question? They'd say, "You don't understand. God DIDN'T make you like this. You made YOURSELF like this." Now just in case any of you think that the complaining man is mistaken or confused when he believes that God MADE him a reprobate, we have verse 21 in which the verb MAKE comes up again:
Romans 9: (21) Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor?
Wow. How much clearer can it get? Here is a rhetorical question that talks about God's AUTHORITY. The Greek word is ex-oo-SEE-ah, which means authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, or strength. The potter has the AUTHORITY, the POWER, to do what? To MAKE. This is a word of ACTION. The potter has the AUTHORITY, the POWER to MAKE one vessel to honor and to MAKE one vessel to dishonor out of the same lump of clay. Turn over to Jeremiah 18:1-6:
Jeremiah 18: (1) The Word which was to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying, (2) Rise up and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My Words. (3) Then I went down to the potter's house, and behold, he was working a work on the wheel. (4) And the vessel that he made in clay was ruined in the hand of the potter. So repeating he made it, another vessel, as it seemed good in the potter's eyes to make [it]. (5) And the Word of Jehovah was to me, saying, (6) O house of Israel, can I not do to you as this potter? says Jehovah. Behold, as the clay in the potter's hand, [so are] you in My hand, O house of Israel.
Jeremiah witnessed a potter making a pot out of clay. Then something happened during the fashioning process in which the pot was ruined. Then the potter either made another pot out of the ruined pot while the clay was still soft, or he got some more clay and made another pot. God then told Jeremiah that Israel is like the clay, and God is like the potter, which means that God has the AUTHORITY, the POWER, to mold or fashion Israel in any way He pleases, like the potter molds the clay into a pot. Do you see how this talks about AUTHORITY and POWER? Let's turn to another passage that talks about authority and power. Turn to Matthew 20, verses 15 and 16:
Matthew 20: (15) Or is it not lawful for me to do what I desire with my things? Or is your eye evil because I am good? (16) So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called, but few chosen.
Jesus Christ asks a rhetorical question about His authority to do what He desires with His things.
Let's go back to Romans 9:21 and read it again:
Romans 9: (21) Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor?
"Vessel to honor" means a vessel or pot that is made for noble purposes, perhaps in a nobleman's house, and "vessel to dishonor" means a vessel or pot that is made for base purposes, perhaps in a slave's house. There is ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE in which this means that the potter has the authority to ALLOW the clay to make ITSELF into a vessel of honor or to ALLOW the clay to make ITSELF into a vessel of dishonor. Yet some would say that the potter MAKES some of the clay into a vessel of honor, and the potter ALLOWS the rest of the clay to make ITSELF into a vessel of dishonor. Oh the lengths of absurdity to which heretics will go to maintain their heresy. This is part of an absurd heresy out there that is the most common interpretation of this verse. Believe it or not, they focus on the lump. They say that since Paul talked about "one lump," then this must be talking about the lump of sinful humanity. Thus, out of this lump of sinful humanity, there is something special in making sinful humanity into a vessel of honor, but to make sinful humanity into a vessel of dishonor is just to let sinful humanity go its own sinful way, to let this sinful lump, which is already dishonorable, either make itself into a vessel of dishonor, or judicially harden this sinful lump because it already hardened itself -- you know, "leaving men to their natural blindness, to the hardness and unrestrained tendencies of their hearts, to the corruptions of their nature, to their own depraved wills and desires so they are free to act according to their own inclinations and the free exercise of their evil dispositions." And why do they hold to this absurd heresy? Because they don't want to acknowledge God as causing someone to be a reprobate. Like Spurgeon said in the quote we will see next time, the Lord willing, God fits the elect for glory, but the reprobate fit themselves for destruction.
Here's a sampling of some commentaries on the lump of clay: First, Robert Haldane:"The word here employed [he's talking about ex-oo-SEE-ah] is variously applied as signifying authority, license, liberty, right; but in its application to God there can be no question that it denotes power justly exercised. The mere power or ability of doing what God pleases, cannot be the meaning, for this is not the thing questioned. It is the justice of the procedure that is disputed, and it is consequently the justice of this exercise of power that must be asserted. With respect to all other beings, the license, liberty, or right referred to, may be, as it is, derived from a superior; but in this sense it cannot refer to God. When, therefore, it is said here that God has 'power,' it must mean that He may, in the instance referred to, use His power in conformity to justice. The right has not a reference to a superior as conferring it, but a reference to His own character, to which all the actions of this sovereignty must be conformable. Power, then, in this place, signifies right or power which is consistent with justice. It is this right or power according to justice that is here asserted. When the potter molds the clay into what form he pleases, he does nothing contrary to justice; neither does God do injustice in the exercise of absolute power over His creatures. Out of the same original lump or mass He forms, in His holy sovereignty, one man unto honor, and another unto dishonor, without in any respect violating justice. Here it is implied that as there is no difference between the matter or lump out of which the potter forms diversity of vessels, so there is no difference in mankind, Romans 3:22; all men -- both those who are elected, and those who are rejected, that are made vessels of mercy, or vessels of wrath -- are alike by nature in the same condemnation in which God might in justice have left the whole, but out of which in His holy sovereignty He saves some, while He exercises His justice in pouring out His wrath." Do you see here how Haldane implies that if this clay were not already sinful and God made a vessel of dishonor out of it, then God would be unjust? He's saying that God cannot be just and make a person a vessel of dishonor who is not already inclined that way.
Next, Charles Hodge:"The objection is founded on ignorance or misapprehension of the true relation between God and his sinful creatures. It supposes that he is under obligation to extend his grace to all. Whereas he is under obligation to none. All are sinners, and have forfeited every claim to his mercy; it is, therefore, the prerogative of God to spare one and not another; to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor. He, as their sovereign Creator, has the same right over them that a potter has over the clay. It is to be born in mind, that Paul does not here speak of the right of God over his creatures as creatures but as sinful creatures, as he himself clearly intimates in the next verses. ... Are not these points on which the potter has a most perfect right to decide for himself, and regarding which the thing formed can have no right to complain or question? And so it is with God; the mass of fallen men are in his hands, and it is his right to dispose of them at pleasure; to make all vessels unto honor, or all unto dishonor, or some to one and some to the other. These are points on which, from the nature of the relation, we have no right to question or complain. ... It is not the right of God to create sinful beings in order to punish them, but his right to deal with sinful beings according to his good pleasure, that is here, and elsewhere asserted." We see that Charles Hodge would have wanted Paul to answer the objector like this: "You don't understand the relationship between God and sinful creatures. Since we are all sinners, God has the right to save some and leave others in the sin that they wilfully put themselves in and justly punish them for it." But that's not even close to what Paul said, is it? Instead, Paul appealed solely to God's sovereign authority to do what He wants with His creatures. Also notice that Hodge restricts God's right according to the idol that Hodge has made in his own image. He says that it is NOT God's right to create sinful beings in order to punish them. So CHARLES HODGE is the objector. HE is the one who says that it would be unjust for God to find fault with and punish those whom He made to sin. Yes, rather, O Charles Hodge, WHO ARE YOU answering against God?
I'm now going to quote from a lesser-known commentary, but it really sums up this heresy. This is from the commentary on Romans by Bill Parker and Bobby Bullington: "'The same lump' - This is the lump of sinful, fallen humanity, the whole depraved human race. They are described as unrighteous, guilty before God, and ungodly, having no fear of God. All are compared to Sodom and Gomorrah. Since the whole lump is wicked and evil, and since the whole lump, if left to itself, would be perfectly content to remain in idolatry and condemnation, can we find fault with God to punish those who deserve punishment?" So we see how people like Parker and Bullington would like Paul to respond to the objector, don't we? Instead of appealing to God's absolute sovereignty, they would like Paul to say something like this: "You misunderstood what I was saying. I wasn't saying that God unconditionally hardens and makes people into vessels of dishonor. You have no reason to find fault with God, because God didn't make people like this. The lump was already depraved, wicked, and evil; God didn't need to make the vessels of dishonor - they already made themselves into vessels of dishonor. And for God to punish those already deserving punishment is not unjust in any way." And I found a quote online that sums up what such people think in relation to God's justice:"From Romans 9 we know that the 'lump of clay' is clearly a fallen lump of clay. It would be unjust for God to reprobate unfallen humanity."
From those who hold to the heresy of the sinful lump you will hear things like this about election: "Out of this race of guilty and polluted sinners, thus justly condemned, God graciously and eternally elected some to life and happiness and glory, while He left the rest in their state of wretchedness and ruin, and determined to inflict on them the punishment which they justly deserved." That is a quote from Southern Presbyterian James Henley Thornwell. And here's another quote: "The cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of all other sins, is no wise in God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ, and salvation through him is the free gift of God ... And herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation ... Election is the unchangeable purpose of God whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ. ... he was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to himself, as it is written, 'For the children being not yet born neither having done any good or evil,', etc., it was said (namely to Rebecca): 'the elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,' Rom. 9:11,12,13. 'And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,' Acts 13:48. ... not all, but some only are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal election of God; whom God ... hath decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have willingly plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but leaving them in his just judgment to follow their own ways ..." Do you know where that's from? It's from the document that is supposed to be the epitome of Calvinism - the Canons of Dordt. Isn't it interesting that they used the Scripture passage that shows that God loved Jacob before Jacob had done anything good and hated Esau before Esau had done anything bad as proof that God chose the elect out of the "common mass of sinners"? So you'll hear things like, "Out of the mass of sinful humanity, God elected to save some and to leave others in their sin," where this so-called "mass of sinful humanity" is the lump in Romans 9:21.
But think about the gymnastics these people have to go through in order to hold to their view of the lump as sinful man. Think about it: If the lump is sinful man, then what is the difference between the lump and vessels of dishonor? Aren't they both sinful man? They would have to say that out of the lump of sinful man, God made sinful man. And this fits with their view of God as less than sovereign, because then they can say that there was already sinful man, and God didn't need to actively do anything to make sinful man into a vessel of dishonor, since he was already sinful. Really, this means that God would only need to actively MAKE one kind of vessel, the vessel of honor, because the vessel of dishonor would already make ITSELF to be such, either by God withholding restraining grace or intervening to judicially passively harden sinful man who had already hardened himself or some such nonsense.
But let's end by thinking again about the truth of this verse. God, the sovereign potter, has the authority, the jurisdiction, the liberty, the power, the right, the strength, to make honorable vessels and dishonorable vessels out of the same lump of clay. In this picture of the potter, there is a lump of clay BEFORE the vessels are made, right? The potter doesn't have some bad clay that, if left to itself, would form itself into a bad pot. There is NO PRECONDITION in the clay that would make the potter form it for either honorable use or dishonorable use. It's all the same clay. So this is talking about the EXACT OPPOSITE of the views of the "sinful lump" camp when it comes to reprobation. Making a vessel of dishonor out of a lump of clay that would not become a dishonorable vessel on its own shows that this is talking about UNCONDITIONAL reprobation. And making a vessel of honor out of a lump of clay that would not become an honorable vessel on its own shows that this is talking about UNCONDITIONAL election. The Holy Spirit through Paul appeals to God's ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY, not some blasphemous standard of justice that man imposes on God. God can do whatever He wants with His creation, including making some people vessels of His blessing and making other people vessels of His wrath. It's really that simple. Jacob was a vessel of God's blessing, and Esau was a vessel of God's wrath. Moses was a vessel of God's blessing, and Pharaoh was a vessel of God's wrath. God made Jacob and Moses vessels of His blessing not based on anything they did, and He made Esau and Pharaoh vessels of His wrath not based on anything they did. Election is unconditional, and reprobation is unconditional. If either were conditional, God would not be sovereign. God would not be God. If God did not actively cause all actions and events, including the sin of men and angels, God would not be God. And if you have a problem with that, like the Spurgeons and Hodges of the world, who say that God would be unjust to find fault with those who have not resisted His will, we say with Paul, WHO ARE YOU ANSWERING AGAINST GOD? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, to talk back to and shake your fist at God? Shall the pot say to the potter, Why did you make me like this? Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one pot to honor, and one to dishonor? Bow before the sovereign creator, the Lord of the universe, and confess that God is the potter who can do whatever He pleases. And praise God, all you believers, that He has chosen to glorify Himself in your hearts, causing you to believe the gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. God did not choose you because you were more worthy or acceptable than anyone else - He did it purely because of His sovereign grace in which He loved us in Christ Jesus from before the foundation of the world. Let's turn to Isaiah 64 verse 8 to close:
Isaiah 64: (8) But now, Jehovah, You [are] our Father. We [are] the clay, and You [are] our Former; yea, we all [are] Your handiwork.