We are going to take a look at some commonly asked questions when dealing with this subject. When teaching this concept, many people will ask “Why would God create a world and control it like a “puppet show?” This is usually asked by people who don’t like the idea that they might be a “puppet.” We don’t have to know everything about why the Lord does what he does. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean it is not true. Instead of asking the above question, let’s ask “Why would God create a world that he doesn’t control?” Then you have to ask yourself, “Which is a better world?” Keep in mind the “causal sequence” found in the Scriptures that we have already discussed (John 1.12-13, 15.16; Acts 13.48; 2 Thes 2.13; 1 Thes 5.9; Phil 1.29; 2 Tim 2.25; Acts 18.27, 11.18; John 12.39-40; Prov 21.1; Psa 105.24-25; Isa 63.17).
Another question that comes up is “How can God “predestine” some to hell?” Well, we know that God loves mankind, yet he predestines some to hell (1 Pet 2.7-8; 2 Pet 2.12; Rom 9.22; Jude 4). However, free will has the same problem where they say God lets people “choose” even though he has the power to stop them. In both cases, the Lord is committed to loving something more than he loves people. Loving us is only one quality, not his only quality. He would like all to be saved, but he desires something else more.
For “choice” people it is free will God loves more. Uncaused love is more precious to God, they will argue. Giving man free will is worth losing billions of people over, according to the reasoning of the free will people. For those who believe in “election” it is God’s glory and his name that he loves more than people. His glory is worth more to the Lord than billions lost. It is humbling, but we exist to serve the Lord and bring him joy, not the other way around. God’s greatest concern is himself, not people (Dan 4.35; Isa 43.6-7; Psa 106.7-8; Ezek 36.22-23,32; Jer 13.11; 2 Thes 1.9-10). We exist to glorify the Lord. His name and who he is comes before anything.
God’s glory is shown and appreciated more when some are “elected” and some “fitted” for destruction. This is a hard concept for many to swallow, that’s why free will makes us feel better about it, but that doesn’t mean election to salvation isn’t true.
Rom 9.22-23 says that God showed his wrath in order to make known how precious mercy was to the forgiven. His wrath accentuates his love. It’s not hard to love your friends (Matt 5.46-48), but we were his enemies (Rom 5.10). The stronger the wrath, the stronger the love that overcomes it. Now, some will say “But if God is not willing that any perish, how can he elect some to perish?” Verses that say this like John 3.16 and 1 Tim 2.4 tell us that God loves all mankind, but as strong as that love is, it is not his only desire or even his strongest desire. There is a chance that God will not give repentance and knowledge to some (2 Tim 2.24-26). The solution for God desiring repentance of all and yet withholding the ability to do so is his two wills (command and decree).
Another question that comes up is “Why does the Lord plead for sinners to repent if he ordains them not to repent?” That is going to be a problem no matter what we believe. God does not plead with reprobate sinners hoping they will repent if he is all-knowing. So, is God doing everything in his power to save all men? The answer is “no” (Luke 10.13). If the Lord wants all men to come to repentance and these cities in Luke would have repented if God did some miracles there, why didn’t he do some miracles there? The Lord does do miracles that would cause us to believe (John 14.11; 20.30-31). So, apparently he doesn’t do miracles at times for the same reason.
Some people will say that “God predestined us based on his foreknowledge of our faith” but that isn’t true either (Rom 9.16; John 1.12-13). Faith is a gift, on Yeshua’s behalf (Acts 18.27-28; Phil 1.29). Since nothing inherent in us created this faith, the Lord could not have predestined us based on that faith. Another question is “Can we resist God’s will?” There are verses that seem to indicate that you can, and others that do not, like Job 42.2. Paul writes that you cannot resist his will in Rom 9.19.
The will of the Lord is complex. He may want one thing (Exo 23.7, but he may want something else even more and then predestine it to happen, like in the case with Yeshua (Acts 4.27-28) and during the time of Zechariah (see Zech 8.17 with 8.10). His “will of command” is what he would like to see happen, but his “will of decree” is what he ordains and allows to happen. So, it depends on what part of God’s will you want to resist. His will of command can be resisted, his will of decree cannot.
So, how can God still blame us? It is hard to understand, but he does. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exo 9.12) and Paul discusses this in Rom 9.17-19. He shows mercy because he wants to, and chooses to make others refuse his mercy. In Rom 9.19-23, Paul goes on to say “Why does he still find fault? For who resists his will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God. The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use. What if God, although willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath fitted (make one what he is) for destruction? And so in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory.”
God made Pharaoh to rebel (sin) against God and punished him for it. There are no verses that say it was the “free will” of Pharaoh, period. God doesn’t force us to sin like this. We sin because we want to, we desire it and we act. It doesn’t matter where the impulse or desire comes from or what caused it. Sin comes from the heart, and it doesn’t matter how it got there, or the cause, whether it was an outside cause, Satan or God using Satan or whatever. All that matters is we act according to that desire.
So, God can influence the desire of our heart. He does turn people over to their desires (Rom 1.28). Like a rock falling, pulled by gravity (sin), it’s the nature of the rock to fall. We are not saying that this answers the question, but it may help make some sense out of it. So, what makes us responsible? Did you know that we can be held responsible for sins we are unaware of (Lev 5.17)? People are hurt because of the punishment God inflicts on others (as in Josh 7.1-26 where 36 people died because of the sin of Achan). We can be punished for approving evil. First century scholars were held responsible for sins before their time because they approved of them (Luke 11.47-51). The point is, there are more things involved that make people responsible for sin than simply doing an act.
Another question is “Would God create something in order to destroy it?” The answer is “yes” according to 2 Pet 2.12 and Rom 9.19-24. Another question that will come up asks “Does God ordain sinful acts or just allows them?” The answer is that there is no difference. Read Jam 1.13-14 and then look at Ezek 14.9-10; 1 Chr 21.1; Gen 50.20; Psa 105.25; Job 1.12,22; Judges 9.23; 1 Sam 16.14, 19.9; Isa 63.17; 1 Kings 22.19-23; Acts 4.27-28 and of course Judas. The Lord does will sin to occur at times. Is God the “author” of sin then? If the person who asks means that God is the source, then no. Can he be an indirect cause or passive, then yes (Rom 1.24; Psa 81.12).
In Part 7, we are going to continue to deal with more questions concerning this subject and try to answer them in order to give you a better understanding of the concept of the Sovereignty of God and the Elect.