(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 11/22/09 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.
The last time we were here, we looked at the three rhetorical questions in verses 20 and 21 that answer the objection in verse 19. The objection is this:
Romans 9: (19) You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?
In other words, why does God, whose will is irresistible, find fault with those who are just doing His irresistible will? Now would this objection make sense if verse 18 read, "So, then, upon whom he wishes he has mercy, but whom he wishes he lets become obstinate"? That's actually a real translation. That's the translation that the Spurgeons and Dabneys and Shedds and Hodges and Gills and Haldanes and Edwardses and Murrays of the world would love, wouldn't they? That's actually how they interpret God's hardening anyway, don't they - that God lets people become obstinate. So embrace the translation, all you Calvinists who agree with them! I'm sure many of you are wondering what translation would actually come out and say what these Calvinists and their Arminian brothers believe. Well, the translation is called the New World Translation, and it's the Bible of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The translation "lets become obstinate" has no basis in the original Greek, but why should that stop them?
Anyway, back to the objection: "Why does God, whose will is irresistible, find fault with those who are just doing his irresistible will?" This is a very common objection to the absolute sovereignty of God. It goes to the supposed "juxtaposition" of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. It has troubled philosophers and religionists for ages. The argument is that if God is absolutely sovereign, meaning that God controls all actions and events, including sin, then man cannot be held responsible when he sins. Now there could be many possible non-biblical answers to this objection, couldn't there? One of the answers could be, "God's will is not irresistible. God is not absolutely sovereign. Thus, God CAN find fault, because man is responsible." Another answer could be, "God's will is irresistible. God is absolutely sovereign. Thus, God CANNOT find fault, because man is not responsible." Another answer could be, "It's a mystery, and it's not for us to know." Does Paul use any of these answers? No. Does he answer by saying that God only "hardens those who first harden themselves"? Does he answer by saying that God "withholds His restraining grace" or "withdraws His gracious influences" or "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"? No. Instead, he delivers a stinging rebuke:
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?
He then goes on to ask a rhetorical question that establishes God's absolute right and authority to make one person a good vessel and another person a bad vessel in verse 21:
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?
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul uses nothing but God's absolute sovereignty to answer the objector. There is none of this nonsense about God's permissive will or God's letting people do things. God CAUSES everything, and, BASED ON His absolute sovereignty, He holds people responsible for what He has caused. And if you have a problem with that, the Holy Spirit through Paul says SHUT UP.
Now some would say that Paul's harsh words against the objector mean that we shouldn't be asking why God chose to make some people bad vessels, because it's a mystery that God doesn't explain. Well, first of all, Paul's harsh words against the objector have nothing to do with the question of why God chose to REPROBATE some; it has to do with the question of why God FINDS FAULT with those whom He reprobated and actively hardens. And that question is clearly answered when Paul says that God can do whatever He wants with His creation. But he doesn't stop there. He then goes into WHY God chose to reprobate some. This is the very thing that many religionists who come in the name of Christianity say shouldn't be talked about because it's a mystery. Well, if GOD talks about it, WE'RE going to talk about it. This isn't some hidden thing that God doesn't want us to know. He puts it right out here for everyone to read. There's no guessing or looking into things that we shouldn't be looking into. So let's look into what God clearly shows us.
Let's read verses 22 through 24:
Romans 9: (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.
Now the structure of this sentence is not something that we're familiar with in English. So let's go through this sentence piece by piece. The first two words are "But if." The two Greek words are ei de. "Ei," which is made of an epsilon and an iota, which is "e-i" in English, is a particle meaning "if" or "whether" or "that" or "though." "De," which is made of a delta and an epsilon, which is "d-e" in English, is a particle that can mean "but," "yet," "now," "then," "and," "moreover," and even "in fact" or "indeed." You can see why this is translated in different ways in different translations. The LITV translates it "But if"; the KJV translates it "What if"; and Young's translates it "And if." And the commentators are as varied as the translations. Some take the word "if" as a particle of conditionality. But if that's the case, then where's the "then"? Some say that the "then" is all the way down in verse 30, so it would read, "If God did this (verses 22 through 29), then what shall we say (verse 30)?" Some say that the "if God" refers back to verse 20, so it would read, "If God did this, then who are you answering against God?" Some say that the two words are a sentence in and of themselves. So verse 21 talks about the potter making one vessel to honor and one to dishonor, and verse 22 starts out with, "What if?" or "So what?" Some say that ei de means "since then." In this case, it would read something like this: "Since then God willed to show His wrath and to make known his power, He endured with much forbearance the vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction; so He willed to make known the riches of his glory towards the vessels of mercy, whom He has fore-prepared for glory, even us, whom He has called not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles." Now I don't claim to know for sure which one it is. I don't know. The first two explanations, which are in the form of a conditional sentence "if x, then y", with x being the protasis and y being the apodosis, don't seem to fit, because you have to stretch to find the apodosis - either backwards to verse 20, or all the way to verse 30, although you could hold to either of these explanations in an orthodox way. But it seems that it's probably one of the last two explanations - either "What if?" being a sentence, or ei de meaning "Since then." Both of these explanations need no apodosis, and both are in line with the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God. One explanation that is NOT in line with the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God is the view that the phrase "What if God" means that God really DIDN'T do this, but what if He did? Now that's not only absurd but heretical.
So now let's go into the next phrase: "desiring to display wrath." Here again we see the Greek verb THEL-oh, which is also in verse 18. It means, "to determine, to choose, to desire, to intend." It is an active, positive choice. God actively, positively desires, determines, intends, chooses to do something. What does He choose to do? The first thing we see God chooses to do is to display wrath. We see another Greek word that we saw not too long ago in verse 17, which is en-DIKE-noo-me. It means "to show forth, to demonstrate, to display." In verse 17, we saw that God raised up Pharaoh to DISPLAY God's power so His name would be publicized in all the earth. So in this verse, we see that God desires to DISPLAY His wrath. The Greek word for "wrath" is or-GAY, meaning "anger," "wrath," or "indignation." So here we see one reason why God makes vessels to dishonor - why God chose to damn some people from before the foundation of the world. God wants to show His wrath. Wrath is one of the attributes of God. When God shows any of His attributes, He is glorified. From before the foundation of the world, God desired to show His attribute of wrath, and thus He decreed to make some people to be objects of His wrath. But, as we will see in the next sermon, the Lord willing, it was not to show His wrath in a vacuum - it was to show His wrath for the good of His people. But let's keep going in this verse. The next phrase is "and to make His power known." The verb "desire" applies to this phrase as well, so we see here that God desires to make His power known. Again, we saw in verse 17 that God raised up Pharaoh in order to make His power known. God hardened Pharaoh's heart, causing him to disobey, so that God's power would be displayed and His name would be publicized in all the earth. This is another reason why God makes vessels of dishonor - to show His power. There are all sorts of ways in which God uses the reprobate to show His power. God's power is made known in the reprobates' lives here on earth, and God's power is made known in the reprobates' everlasting damnation. God raises up the reprobate here on earth to do as He pleases, including making some of them lie and steal and kill and commit all kinds of immorality, but also making some of them very religious and moral and zealous while worshipping a false god and believing a false gospel. He makes some of them fat with riches and makes some of them emaciated with poverty. He brings them up and tears them down. And then He punishes them for their wickedness, displaying His awesome wrath and power, showing His utter hatred of sin. Let us turn to some passages in which God desires to display wrath and make His power known in the reprobate. You might remember these passages from when I preached on verse 18. Let's first turn to Joshua 11:18-20:
Joshua 11: (18) And Joshua made war many days with all those kings. (19) There was not a city that made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites, [ones] living in Gibeon. They took all in battle. (20) For it was of Jehovah to harden their hearts, so that they should come against Israel in battle, so that they might be destroyed, so that they might have no favor, but that He might destroy them, as Jehovah commanded Moses.
Why did God harden the hearts of the kings, causing them to come against Israel in battle? So they would have NO FAVOR and so they would be DESTROYED.
Now let's read 1 Samuel 2:22-25:
1 Samuel 2: (22) And Eli was very old and had heard all that his sons did to Israel, and how they lay with the women who served [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (23) And he said to them, Why do you do things like these? For I am hearing of your evil doings from all these people. (24) No my sons, for the report which I am hearing is not good, causing the people of Jehovah to transgress. (25) If a man sins against a man, then God shall judge him. But if a man sins against Jehovah, who shall pray for him? But they did not listen to the voice of their father because Jehovah desired to put them to death.
Why did Eli's sons not listen to their father? Because God wanted to kill them. In these two instances, and in many others that we've already gone into, God made these people vessels of dishonor because He desired to display wrath and make His power known. And again, this is not in a vacuum - it is for the good of His people, as we will see in the next sermon, the Lord willing.
Turn back to Romans 9:22. Let's now look at the phrase "endured in much long-suffering." The Greek word for "to endure" is PHER-oh, which means "to bear" or "to bring." God BEARS with these vessels of dishonor. The Greek word for "long-suffering" is mak-roth-oo-MEE-ah, which comes from mak-ROS, meaning "long," and thoo-MOS, meaning "burning." God BEARS with these vessels of dishonor in much LONG-BURNING. It makes me think of a long fuse. God does not immediately destroy them in hell but bears with them, endures them, for a purpose. And of course, here come the common-grace and common-love advocates saying that God's enduring the reprobate in much long-suffering is evidence of God's grace and love toward the reprobate. This is so patently absurd that people who put this forth should be embarrassed. Here are the people who, as we will see in a moment, the Lord willing, have been fitted out for destruction. Here are the people whom God has chosen to damn from before the foundation of the world. Here are the people whom God has made to be vessels of dishonor. Here are the people whom God has actively hardened to sin in specific ways so that He might judge them and damn them forever. So keeping them alive and not immediately damning them is evidence that God is gracious toward them and loves them? Berkhof says that "It is due to common grace that God did not at once fully execute the sentence of death on the sinner, and does not do so now, but maintains and prolongs the natural life of man and gives him time for repentance." Time for repentance? Time for the reprobate to repent? How much time is enough time? An hour? A day? A week? A month? A year? Fifty years? Remember, we're talking about people whom God decreed from before the foundation of the world that they would hate Him through their entire lives, that they would never repent, and that they would be punished forever in hell. So, according to people like Berkhof, God is giving such people something they do not deserve, which is time to repent. On the contrary, God is giving such people WHAT THEY DESERVE, which is time on earth to be hardened in their sin and fattened for the kill, in order for God to display His wrath and power in them. God keeps them on this earth and endures them with longsuffering IN ORDER TO show His wrath! Was God gracious toward Judas in causing him to live as long as he did? No, it was the exact opposite - God says in Mark 14:21 that it would have been BETTER for him if he had never been born! Is God gracious toward those who offend against the little ones by causing them to continue to live? No, it is the exact opposite - God says in Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, and Luke 17:2 that it would be BETTER for someone to hang a millstone around their neck and throw them into the sea! It would be BETTER for that person for someone to KILL him than that he stay alive to offend against the little ones! Turn to Psalm 73. Let's read verses 1 through 19:
Psalms 73: (1) Truly God [is] good to Israel, to those who are of a pure heart. (2) And [as fo]r me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps nearly made to slip. (3) For I was jealous of the proud; I looked upon the peace of the wicked. (4) For [there are] no pangs to their death; but their body [is] fat. (5) They [are] not in the misery of mortal man; and with men they are not touched. (6) So pride enchains them; violence covers them [like] a robe. (7) Their eyes go out with fatness; they have passed the imaginations of the heart. (8) They scoff and speak in evil; from on high they speak oppression. (9) They set their mouth in the heavens; and their tongues walk through the earth. (10) Because of this His people shall return here; and waters of a full [cup shall be] drained by them. (11) And they say, How does God know? And, Is there knowledge in the Most High? (12) Behold! These [are] the ungodly who are always at ease; they increase their riches. (13) Surely I have purified my heart in vain; and I have washed my hands in innocence. (14) For all the day I was touched; and my chastening is at the mornings. (15) If I say, This is the way I will speak; behold, I would deceive a generation of Your sons. (16) And I thought to know this; it [was] a travail in my eyes, (17) until I went into the sanctuary of God; now I understood their end. (18) Surely, You will set their [feet] in slippery places; You will make them fall into ruin. (19) How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away with terrors!
When the reprobate are outwardly peaceful and happy, increasing in riches, scoffing at God, is this showing that God loves them and is gracious toward them? No - what is God doing when He causes the reprobate to do these things? It is to set their feet in slippery places so they will fall into ruin! So much for common grace! Even the word "enduring" or "bearing" in our passage in Romans shows that God's continuing to cause them to live is not a gracious or loving act at all. It is an enduring or bearing with the reprobate for a specific purpose, which is the good of the elect, as we will see in the next sermon, the Lord willing.
Let's end our study in this verse by looking at the "vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction." These are the same vessels that were created to dishonor in verse 21. This time, the Holy Spirit through Paul calls them "vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction." These are vessels that God, the sovereign potter, made to be objects of His everlasting wrath. They are objects of His wrath while they are living, and they are objects of His wrath when He punishes them eternally in hell. They have been the objects of His wrath from before the foundation of the world, when He unconditionally chose them to be reprobates. In time, He unconditionally hardens them, and then He damns them for their sin, all in God's righteous, holy, and just plan. These vessels of wrath have been FITTED OUT for destruction. The Greek verb for "to fit out" is kat-ar-TID-zo, which means "to fit," "to frame," or "to prepare." Let's look at two passages in Hebrews that use this verb. First, let's turn to Hebrews 10, verse 5:
Hebrews 10: (5) For this reason, coming into the world, He says, Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but You prepared a body for Me.
The Greek word is translated "prepared" here. And now chapter 11, verse 3:
Hebrews 11: (3) By faith we understand the ages to have been framed by [the] Word of God, so that the things seen [should] not come into being out of things that appear.
The Greek word is translated "framed" here. So we see that the vessels of wrath have been prepared, have been framed, for destruction. The particular form of the verb in Romans 9:22 is kat-ar-tis-MEN-ah, which is a participle indicating a present state that was previously formed. These people were fitted out for destruction. Who fitted them out for destruction? I've seen people say, "See, it's passive - they were fitted out. That means God didn't do it." And my answer is, yes it is passive, and you don't have a clue as to what passive means if you use this to conclude that God didn't do it. If they WERE fitted out, then someone or something did the fitting out! That's just simple grammar. Another place where there's passive voice that talks about reprobation is 1 Peter 2:8. Let's turn over there and start with verse 7:
1 Peter 2: (7) Then to you who believe [belongs] the preciousness. But to disobeying ones, [He is the] Stone which those building rejected; this One became [the] Head of the Corner, (8) and a Stone-of-stumbling, and a Rock-of-offense to the [ones] stumbling, being disobedient to the Word, to which they were also appointed.
The verb "to appoint" is TITH-ay-mee, which means "to place," "to make," "to constitute," "to ordain," or "to purpose." So these people were ORDAINED, were PURPOSED, were CONSTITUTED, were MADE to stumble and be disobedient to the Word. And in this sentence, the particular form of that verb is eh-TETH-ee-san, which is the first aorist passive indicative of TITH-ay-mee. All you need to focus on is the passive part. This is a passive form of the verb. So just like in the Romans passage, some people say, "See, it says that they WERE appointed. That's in the passive voice, so it means that God didn't do it." Can you already see how ridiculous that is? OF COURSE it's passive - and that's a strong argument AGAINST what they're trying to prove! Here's a little lesson in active vs. passive: Think of the phrase, "I threw the ball." I'm using the verb "to throw." Is the verb active or passive when I say, "I threw the ball"? It's active. How about this phrase: "the ball was thrown by me"? That's passive. How about just, "the ball was thrown"? That's passive too. Now how about this phrase: "I appointed the man"? The verb "appointed" is active, right? And now this phrase: "the man was appointed." The verb "was appointed" is passive. In the active voice, the subject DOES the action, and in the passive voice, the subject is ACTED UPON. So in Romans 9:22, these vessels of wrath "were fitted" for destruction, and in 1 Peter 2:8, these disobeying ones "were appointed" to stumble and to be disobedient to the Word. Whenever you see something in the passive voice (which means that the subject is being acted upon), you must ask, "who is the one doing the acting?" In Romans 9:22, the question is, "Who is the one doing the fitting out? And in 1 Peter 2:8, the question is, "Who is the one doing the appointing?" Two obvious possibilities are the wicked men themselves or God.
Let us think of the first possibility, which is that the wicked ones fitted themselves for destruction and appointed themselves to stumble and be disobedient to the Word. Is that what the passive voice implies? No - it actually implies the opposite! For example, in the phrase, "the ball was thrown," it would be silly to think that this could be talking about the ball throwing itself. And even when there is a phrase or sentence about people, such as "the man was hit" or "the woman was fined" or "the boy was ridiculed," it would be laughable to think that, in any of these phrases, the person himself or herself actually did the acting, like "the man hit himself," "the woman fined herself," or "the boy ridiculed himself." So if I say "the ball was thrown" or "the man was hit," I'm putting forth passive forms of the verb. What does this imply? Does it imply that the ball threw itself or the man hit himself? No, it's actually the opposite -- it AFFIRMS that someone or something OTHER than the ball threw the ball and AFFIRMS that someone or something OTHER than the man hit the man! So when you say that people were fitted out for destruction or were appointed to stumble and be disobedient to the Word, it AFFIRMS that someone or something OTHER than the wicked people themselves fitted them out for destruction and appointed them to stumble and be disobedient to the Word! Do you see the power of the passive voice?
Also, if these fools were consistent, they would have to say that every time the passive voice is used in the Bible, then it shows that God didn't do it, but man did it to himself. So if they see passages in which the Bible says that people "are blessed" (which is in the passive voice), like in Matthew 13:6, Luke 1:28, Galatians 3:8-9, and 1 Peter 4:14, then they must say that these passages mean that God did not bless them but that they blessed THEMSELVES! Or in Romans 11:7, when it says that you "were grafted in," they must say that you grafted YOURSELF in. Or in 1 Corinthians 6:11, when it says, "but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified," they must say that you washed and sanctified and justified YOURSELF. Or in 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 1 Corinthians 7:23, when it says, "You were bought with a price" and "You were redeemed with a price," they must say that you bought and redeemed YOURSELF. Or in Ephesians 4:4 when it says, "you also were called," they must say that you called YOURSELF. Now we can see how ridiculous this is, can't we? And then we add on top of this that our passage in Romans 9:22 is in the context of God actively HARDENING the reprobate in verse 18 and actively MAKING a vessel to dishonor in verse 21, which are both ACTIVE verbs, and we see that there can only be one conclusion: God, the sovereign potter who does what He wants with the clay, is the one who has fitted out the dishonorable vessels of wrath for destruction.
Let's look at Proverbs 16:4:
Proverbs 16: (4) Jehovah has made all for His purpose, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
What does this say? It says that God HAS MADE the wicked for the day of evil. Now that's an active form of the verb, too. To put it passively, the wicked HAVE BEEN MADE for the day of evil. It doesn't say that the wicked HAVE MADE THEMSELVES for the day of evil. It says that God HAS MADE the wicked for the day of evil. You can't get around it. It's in the active voice, so the whole "passive" argument, which is ridiculous to begin with, falls away.
Now with it being so obvious that our passage in Romans 9 is talking about God's fitting the reprobate for destruction, would you be surprised if you found that most Calvinist commentators say that the reprobate fit themselves for destruction? If you've followed this series, you won't be surprised. We've already seen that they believe that God doesn't actively harden but passively lets people harden themselves, like the Jehovah's Witness translation says. We've already seen that they believe that God lets the clay make itself into a vessel of dishonor. So this won't surprise us. Yet it still just makes us shake our heads in amazement that those who claim to believe in the sovereignty of God can take such clear passages and twist them beyond recognition. What Matthew Henry writes on this part of Romans 9:22 is a good representation of the typical Calvinist position, so here it is: "fitted for destruction, fitted by their own sin and self-hardening. The reigning corruptions and wickedness of the soul are its preparedness and disposedness for hell: a soul is hereby made combustible matter, fit for the flames of hell. When Christ said to the Jews (Mat. 23:32), Fill you up then the measure of your father, that upon you may come all the righteous blood (Mat. 23:35), he did, as it were, endure them with much long-suffering, that they might, by their own obstinacy and wilfulness in sin, fit themselves for destruction. … Sinners fit themselves for hell, but it is God who prepares saints for heaven …"
Let me now quote from Charles Spurgeon's sermon entitled "Jacob and Esau." Some of this I've quoted before, but the end is new. Here it is: "Now, the next question is a different one: Why did God hate Esau? ... Why does God hate any man? I defy anyone to give any answer but this, because that man deserves it; no reply but that can ever be true. There are some who answer, divine sovereignty; but I challenge them to look that doctrine in the face. Do you believe that God created man and arbitrarily, sovereignly--it is the same thing--created that man, with no other intention, than that of damning him? Made him, and yet, for no other reason than that of destroying him for ever? Well, if you can believe it, I pity you, that is all I can say: you deserve pity, that you should think so meanly of God, whose mercy endureth for ever. ... Justice is that which damns a man; it is mercy, it is free grace, that saves; sovereignty holds the scale of love; it is justice holds the other scale. Who can put that into the hand of sovereignty? That were to libel God and to dishonour him. ... No man is saved by his own free-will, but every man is damned by it that is damned. He does it of his own will; no one constrains him. ... It is your own choice--keep it. Your damnation is your own election, not God's; you richly deserve it. ... And I say, if Esau sold his birthright he did deserve to lose it; and, therefore, am I not right in saying, that if God hated Esau, it was because he deserved to be hated. Do you observe how Scripture always guards this conclusion? Turn to the ninth chapter of Romans, where we have selected our text, see how careful the Holy Spirit is here, in the 22nd verse. 'What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.' But it does not say anything about fitting men for destruction; they fitted themselves. They did that: God had nothing to do with it. But when men are saved, God fits them for that. All the glory to God in salvation; all the blame to men in damnation. ... My soul revolts at the idea of a doctrine that lays the blood of man's soul at God's door. I cannot conceive how any human mind, at least any Christian mind, can hold any such blasphemy as that. I delight to preach this blessed truth--salvation of God, from first to last--the Alpha and the Omega; but when I come to preach damnation, I say, damnation of man, not of God; and if you perish, at your own hands must your blood be required. There is another passage. At the last great day, when all the world shall come before Jesus to be judged, have you noticed, when the righteous go on the right side, Jesus says, 'Come, ye blessed of my father,'--('of my father,' mark,)--'inherit the kingdom prepared'--(mark the next word)--'for you, from before the foundation of the world.' What does he say to those on the left? 'Depart, ye cursed.' He does not say, 'ye cursed of my father, but, ye cursed.' And what else does he say? 'into everlasting fire, prepared'--(not for you, but)--'for the devil and his angels.' Do you see how it is guarded, here is the salvation side of the question. It is all of God. 'Come, ye blessed of my father.' It is a kingdom prepared for them. There you have election, free grace in all its length and breadth. But, on the other hand, you have nothing said about the father--nothing about that at all. 'Depart, ye cursed.' Even the flames are said not to be prepared for sinners, but for the devil and his angels. There is no language that I can possibly conceive that could more forcibly express this idea, supposing it to be the mind of the Holy Spirit, that the glory should be to God, and that the blame should be laid at man's door."
Aside from the blatant damnable heresy, can you believe what an exegetical ignoramus Spurgeon was? It just boggles the mind how people could see him as a great preacher. He couldn't exegete his way out of a paper bag. What a dim-witted moron he was. I mean, come on - because Christ didn't say "ye cursed of my Father," that means that God doesn't curse the reprobate? In spite of all the other passages in the Bible that talk of God's cursing the reprobate? It's just plain stupid. And he uses this to say that damnation is not of God. Like I mentioned before, what about the passages that say that the elect are blessed but don't directly mention who does the blessing? Does that mean that God doesn't bless the elect? Does it mean the elect bless themselves? Or the passages that say that believers are called and washed and sanctified and justified but don't directly mention who does the calling and washing and sanctifying and justifying? Does that mean that God doesn't call or wash or sanctify or justify? Does that mean that believers call and wash and sanctify and justify themselves? It's just mind-blowingly asinine. And you can see this kind of ridiculous exegesis throughout his sermons. The more you read, the more you find.
But let's focus on the main heresy in this quote. Spurgeon's words fly directly in the face of our passage in Romans 9. Of course Spurgeon says some correct things, like fallen man deserves to be damned. Another thing I thought about was Spurgeon's quote against those who say that God created the reprobate with no other intention than that of damning him. That's just a straw man. We don't say that God created the reprobate for the sole purpose of damning him. As we have seen in this sermon, God creates the reprobate to show His wrath and power. And as we will see in the next sermon, the Lord willing, God creates the reprobate for the good of the elect. So it's TRUE that God did not create the reprobate JUST to damn him. There's much more to it than just damnation. But Spurgeon and all who agree with him twist this passage in Romans 9 so much that they make THEMSELVES the objectors! They insert the EXACT OPPOSITE meaning into the passage! This passage is talking about God's absolute, divine sovereignty in both election and reprobation; yet when it comes to the reprobation side of things, Spurgeon and company say that God cannot find fault with someone whom He caused to sin, that the thing formed can say to the one forming it, "Why did you make me like this?" if unconditional reprobation were true -- that the potter does not have authority to unconditionally make a vessel to dishonor, and that the vessels of wrath fit themselves out for destruction. Spurgeon and most Calvinists CANNOT STAND the truth that is put forth in this passage. Spurgeon said that his soul revolts at this idea that Paul is putting forward. He thought that Paul libeled and dishonored God, thought meanly of God, and blasphemed God. Of course, he wouldn't have said this about Paul; instead, he not only twisted Paul to say something that Paul didn't say, but he turned what Paul said right on its head and said that Paul was saying the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Paul really said about the sovereignty of God in reprobation! How anyone could not see right through this is beyond me. I guess that's a witness to the power of spiritual blindness. People can look right at a clear passage such as this and yet can make it say the OPPOSITE of what it clearly says, all to fit with their wicked notions of their god. They are truly making a god in their own image. They're counting the potter as the clay, Isaiah 29 says. So we can say to Spurgeon and all who agree with him: WHO ARE YOU, O MAN, ANSWERING AGAINST GOD? Who do you think you are, Charles Spurgeon, to tell God that He would be unjust to unconditionally harden the reprobate for destruction? Who do you think you are, all you Calvinists and Arminians all over the world, to shake your fist at God and tell Him that He cannot do whatever He wants with His creation? YOU are the blasphemers. YOU are the ones who libel and dishonor God. YOU are the God-haters.
To close, let's read Isaiah 45, verses 5 through 25. Please pay close attention to what God is saying here, both about who He truly is and about those who do not believe who He truly is, and then how this ties in with the gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Christ alone:
Isaiah 45: (5) I [am] Jehovah, and [there is] none else; there is no God except Me. I will clothe you, though you do not know Me, (6) that they may know from the rising of the sun, and to its going down, that [there is] none besides Me; I am Jehovah, and there is none else; (7) forming light, and creating darkness; making peace, and creating evil. I, Jehovah, do all these things. (8) Drop down from above, O heavens; and let the clouds pour down righteousness. Let the earth open and let salvation bear fruit; and let righteousness spring up together. I, Jehovah have created it. (9) Woe [to] him who fights with the One who formed him! A potsherd among the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to its former, What are you making? Or does your work say, He [has] no hands? (10) Woe to him who says to a father, What are you fathering? Or to the woman, What are you laboring over? (11) So says Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and the One who formed him, Do you ask Me of the things to come? Do you give command to Me about My sons, and about the work of My hands? (12) I have made the earth, and created man on it. I stretched out the heavens [with] My hands; and I have set all their host in order. (13) I raised him up in righteousness, and have made straight all his ways. He shall build My city, and he will release My captives; not for price, nor for reward, says Jehovah of Hosts. (14) So says Jehovah, The labor of Egypt, and the goods of Ethiopia, and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come to you; and they shall be yours. They shall come after you; they shall cross in chains; and they shall bow to you; they shall plead to you. Surely God [is] in you, and there [is] none else, no [other] God. (15) Truly, You [are] a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, the Savior. (16) They shall be ashamed, and also are disgraced, all of them. Together they go into disgrace, carvers of images. (17) Israel is saved in Jehovah [with] everlasting salvation. You shall not be ashamed nor disgraced to the forevers of eternity. (18) For so says Jehovah, Creator of the heavens; He [is] God, forming the earth and making it; He makes it stand, not creating it empty, [bu]t forming it to be lived in. I [am] Jehovah, and [there is] none else. (19) I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth. I did not say to Jacob's seed, Seek Me in vain. I Jehovah speak righteousness, declaring right things. (20) Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, escaped ones of the nations; the ones who set up the wood of their carved image, and the ones who pray to a god who cannot save; they know nothing. (21) Declare and bring near; yea, let them consult together. Who has revealed this of old; [who] has told it from then? Is it not I, Jehovah? And there [is] no God other than Me; a just God and a Savior; [there is] none except Me. (22) Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I [am] God, and there [is] no other. (23) I have sworn by Myself, the Word has gone out of My mouth [in] righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (24) He shall say, Only in Jehovah do I have righteousness and strength; to Him he comes; and they are ashamed, all who are angry with Him. (25) In Jehovah all of the seed of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory.