- From eternity past God intended that the most vivid and profound demonstration of his glory would come in the form of His work of salvation on the cross of Christ.
- God then made man to punish him
- He made him perfect and thus unlikely to ever need punishing, or, for that matter, a savior
- By a happy coincidence, and against all the odds, this perfect man sinned, thus allowing God to fulfill His purposes for both the man and Christ
- When he sinned, God, who is suddenly confronted with the prospect of being able to fulfill all of His original plans, becomes furious
Now, I’m well aware of the fact that this description is an oversimplification. I’m aware of the objections one could make to it. One of the objections is that not all Calvinists believe that Adam was created perfect. This is a valid objection.
The fact is that many Calvinists do insist God made man perfect. The two Calvinists I am most acquainted with do insist on man’s original perfection.
Having said that, I will grant that many Calvinists do not take the same stance. They will admit either that God made man imperfect and/or that He inclined His will to sin. The strange thing is, these Calvinists, who are so versed in scripture, so articulate, so cerebral, so eager to defend their positions, never employ the very verses best suited to help them do exactly that.
Made For Sin
If you want to claim that God made man for sin, then I can think of no better verse than Romans 8:20, which insists God subjected the creature to vanity. So, why do they never employ it? Simple. Because the next verse goes onto state that He subjected man to vanity in order to release him from it. Now the Calvinist will argue that this verse doesn’t apply to humans. No matter. According to their own theology, it does apply to humans. God had to make man subject to vanity in order to punish him. So, here we have a verse that perfectly describes the way the Calvinist God had to create man, which they say doesn’t apply to man, because they don’t like the next verse!
Instead, they will appeal to a verse like Romans 9:22: ““What if God, willing to show 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 . . .”
Notice that this verse says nothing about how God created man. It simply says, based on the surrounding verses, that God hardens some men for His own purposes. This is a verse the Calvinist feels comfortable with. They do not feel comfortable with verses that suggest God made man imperfect. Not even those Calvinists who do believe this. They still wish to sustain a tension between how God made man and why He made him. They would have us believe that God made us perfect, yet for sin and punishment. The bible, however, says just the opposite. He made us imperfect, yet not for the purpose of punishment.
At any rate, in their zeal to avoid drawing a link between how God created us and why, the Calvinists have done themselves a disservice. They have overlooked a veritable minefield of scripture that they could employ to support their position. They are ignoring the very verses of scripture that most powerfully supports their theology. Well, I would suggest that if they really believe God made man for wrath, they should start owning up to it. After all, this is God. He has the right to make us imperfect in order to punish us. It’s His perogative as sovereign of the universe to do anything He wants to do regardless of how it affects any of His creatures. That’s what being God is all about, isn’t it? Then why are they so circumspect? They should employ those verses of scripture that discuss how God made us to support their position. With that in mind, I give you The Greatest Calvinist Sermon Never Preached.
Note: I am not a preacher; hence the following sermon may lack the flow and tempo normally associated with an actual sermon. It may be paced a tad fast, and lacking in the usual sidebars, jokes, and niceties that often characterize quality preaching. I apologize for these shortcomings.
Good morning. Today I would like to talk to you about a subject that’s been on my mind a lot lately. It’s about God’s sovereignty. I think that’s a very important subject. In fact, I think that’s probably the most important subject there is because unless we get that right, nothing else will ever really make sense. God is sovereign in all things. And for the most part, we grant Him that sovereignty. He’s sovereign over the world, fine; we grant Him that. He’s sovereign over nature; fine, we grant Him that. He’s sovereign over the animals; fine. He’s sovereign over the air and wind and sky; okay, fine. He’s sovereign over the whole wide universe and every last particle in it; okay; fine, no problem, We can handle that; that’s all well and good.
But when it comes to God’s sovereignty over us; well, sometimes we balk at that. We think God has to be fair about things; he has to at least give us a chance, right? Well, I’ll admit that seems fair to us; that’s the way we see it. But the question is: Does the bible teach that? Does the bible teach that God had to at least give Adam a chance? Well, no; it doesn’t. In fact, it teaches just the opposite. I want you to turn in your bible to 1 Cor. 15.
How Man Was Created
Let’s look at it starting with verse 42. Verses 42 through 49 tell us how man was created. Let’s read it together.
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which was spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
Paul is not discussing the effects of sin. He’s not saying man, as he became due to his sin, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. He’s saying man as he was created cannot inherit the kingdom of God. He was sown in corruption. He was sown in dishonour. He was sown in weakness. He was sown a natural body. And this natural body--this flesh and blood man--could not inherit the kingdom of God. This is the plain, emphatic, unmistakable teaching of 1 Cor. 15. All men are cast into a mold in this life that is not suitable for salvation. We are created as vessels of dishonour. We are created as vessels of clay marred in the hand of the potter. To be saved we must be remade in the mold of the spiritual man--Christ. The old man must be destroyed in order for the new one to emerge. God must mold the old man--the flesh and blood man--into the new man--the spiritual man. He must destroy Adam and remold him into Christ.
Why God Made Man Imperfect
Now, we know this does not happen for all during this life. What happens to the mass of humanity who die still trapped in this “body of death” that God gave them? What happens to those vessels of wrath that God does not conform to the image of Christ? Well, there is only one possible answer to that question. They go to hell. Men, women, children, babies, infants, aborted fetus’s--anyone who is not saved by grace through faith in Christ is sent to hell, where they will be tortured with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lamb forever and ever. Why, you ask? That’s not fair, you say. Well, no, from our perspective it’s not fair. But then we don’t understand everything about an infinite God with our puny, finite minds. And this is where God’s sovereignty comes into play. God is God. Whatever He does, He does according to His own good pleasure. Like Romans 36 says: “Who has given to him, that He might pay it back, but all things are from Him and through Him and to Him.”
We don’t like to hear this, but the simple fact is that the bible clearly teaches that God created man imperfect for the purpose of damning most of them to hell. I want you to look at Romans 8:20: “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same, in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Notice what this verse is saying. God did not make man perfect. How did He make him? He made him “subject to vanity.” Now, unfortunately some people use this verse to insist that God plans to save all of mankind. That’s because the next verse says “because . . .” And yes, it is true that some people will be freed from the bondage to corruption. But most will not. And so what this verse is really saying, when we read it in context, is this: “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same, in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be tormented forever in hell.”
Now, think about that for a moment. This verse, when read in context, stands as the most incredible, explicit, emphatic assertion of the great Potter’s absolute sovereignty over his vessels that we can possibly imagine.
Again, we may not like it. But that’s what the bible teaches and we must accept it. Now, let’s close with a prayer.
Thank you heavenly Father, that you let us know in your word that you are sovereign over all things, including men, our frames, our natures, our wills, and our eternal destinies, which you have mapped out for all in minute detail from before the foundation of the world. Yes, Lord, you have made all things for your glory, even the wicked for the day of wrath, for the wrath of man shall praise you. But even more than that Lord, we thank you that so many of us here, in this room, have been chosen, by your grace, for the manifestation of your glory, to be used as vessels of mercy and not wrath, having escaped this awful fate through the precious blood of your Son Jesus, according to your just and holy decree, which you issued in eternity past, and which will redound to your glory for all ages. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.