As we examine and study the gospel of salvation by grace in the light of what God has revealed in Scripture we notice that it is offensive, foolish, and a stumbling block to the natural man. Since this is true we are not to be surprised that the real gospel has built into it some objections from those who oppose it. If we know what the light of God’s Word has revealed those objections to be then we can know and discern all other gospel proclamations by holding them to the light of God’s Word and seeing if they raise the same objections. Counterfeit gospels do not have these objections built into them because they are designed to remove the gospel’s offensiveness and therefore they do not raise the objections that the real gospel raises.
In Romans 9:6-24 two objections are raised by the doctrine of unconditional election which establishes that salvation is by grace. The first objection raised by the real gospel is one concerning the justice of God (Romans 9:14). God is viewed as being unfair and unjust because He saves by grace and not by merit. He doesn’t save by physical descent (Romans 9:6-8) or personal desire (Romans 9:9-13). He doesn’t save by doing good or doing bad (Romans 9:11). He doesn’t save by the will of man or the works of man (Romans 9:16). He saves by His choice (Romans 9:11) to have mercy on whom He desires (Romans 9:18). Since man is totally unable to merit God’s favor God is viewed as unfair for giving His unearned favor to some and not to others.
The second objection raised by the real gospel is still concerning the justice of God but taking it a step further. The second objection calls into question God’s holiness which is the foundation of the justice of God (Romans 9:19). Here the accusation is that God is the author of sin by man’s inability being God’s fault. This is the false belief that inability destroys human responsibility and therefore God is wrong to find fault because He made us this way! In other words, if God hardens whom He desires (Romans 9:18) their sin and hardness is His fault. The Holy Spirit rebuked such thinking in Romans 9:19-24.
The Illogical Conclusion Considered (Romans 9:19). Here we see two illogical conclusions against the truth of unconditional election that Paul was preaching: (1) The preacher is lying about God and (2) unconditional election makes God the author of sin and man a robot.
One: The preacher is lying about God – “You will say to me then….” The complaint was against Paul the preacher and he was perceived as lying about God. When men will not receive the revealed truth of God they reject the preacher of that truth believing that they are rejecting a lying preacher rather than the truth of God. This truth is revealed in several places in the Bible – when the people rebelled against Moses they were rebelling against God; when the people rejected Samuel they were rejecting God; and when people refuse God’s preachers they are refusing God. One of the ways men have Biblical assurance of salvation is by knowing who is and who isn’t preaching truth (1 John 4:1-6). It is illogical to believe a preacher is lying because he preaches unconditional election.
Two: Unconditional election makes God the author of sin – “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” If what Paul was preaching about unconditional election was true then surely he was preaching that God is the author of sin; that man doesn’t have “free-will” and therefore must have “no-will”; and because of this, human inability destroys human responsibility, making God unjust for finding fault with men who cannot be held responsible. This is the false notion that unconditional election means that God made us the way we are and therefore He is wrong to find fault with us. It’s no different than someone claiming that he is homosexual because he was “born that way” and therefore shouldn’t be held responsible for his actions. That lame excuse could be applied to any sin that men commit but still wouldn’t remove their responsibility for their actions. This is precisely the argument raised against unconditional election by the opponents of the gospel. It was an illogical conclusion that Paul considered.
The Illogical Conclusion Condemned (Romans 9:20). Paul condemned the illogical conclusion of his opponents by revealing the truth that their argument wasn’t with him but with God – “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God.” Unconditional election wasn’t a doctrine that Paul made up but one that God revealed. So the conclusion that the preacher was lying was condemned and the truth that the preacher’s opponents didn’t have a problem with the preacher but with God was firmly established. Also the conclusion that unconditional election makes God the author of sin was condemned with the assertion of God’s absolute sovereignty – “The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” It was an illogical conclusion that Paul condemned.
The Illogical Conclusion Confronted (Romans 9:21). Paul confronted the illogical conclusion of his opponents by revealing the truth that God has the right to deal with sinners either in mercy or in justice for serving His glory as He sees fit. Here we see that God’s decree to permit the fall of man into sin logically preceded His decree of election. So when God chose the elect and passed over the non-elect, He was contemplating them all as fallen, sinful creatures – “Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump…?” God is not the author of sin and men are responsible for their sin. It was an illogical conclusion that Paul confronted.
The Illogical Conclusion Contradicted (Romans 9:22-24). Paul contradicted the illogical conclusion of his opponents by revealing the truth about God’s sovereign purpose behind His choice for saving some undeserving sinners – “to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:23). The illogical conclusion is that men must either deserve to go to heaven or deserve to go to hell by their “free-will” or else God is unjust in saving some and not others. However, God has the right to give mercy to whomever He desires and harden whomever He desires for His own purpose of displaying both the glory of His righteous wrath and the glory of the riches of His mercy. It was an illogical conclusion that Paul contradicted.
Inability does not remove responsibility. That illogical conclusion has been considered, condemned, confronted, and contradicted.