The First Proof Text: Romans 9:22
Romans 9:22-23: “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 . . .”
“Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”
Here's how the bible understands the relationship: “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter, and we are all the work of thy hand.” A clearer definition we could not ask for. Potterhood implies fatherhood. Contrary to the contention of the Calvinist—and this contention forms the very bedrock of their theology—the act of creation entails a bond between Creator and creature. The same idea is repeated in Malachi 2:10: “Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us?” And if there's not an implicit bond between Creator and creature, then it certainly would have come as news to Job: “Thine hands made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thous dost destroy me. Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?”
Now we may proceed to discuss Romans 9:22. The quote about the potter and the clay is taken from Jeremiah 18:1-6:
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
“And so all Israel shall be saved.” (Romans 11:26)
“For God hath concluded all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all.” (Romans 11:32)
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36)
But there is a further application to Jeremiah 18:1-6. Here we see the vessel made of clay is marred in the hand of the potter, and so he remakes it into another one. Who is the first vessel, made of clay? Made unto dishonor? And who is the second?
“It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power . . . The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:44,45)
Cannot Romans 9:22 be paraphrased like this: For as in Adam all die (are fitted for destruction), so in Christ shall all be made alive (shown mercy)?
One author put it this way:
“Jesus is the pattern. He partook of flesh and blood because the “children” (Heb. 2:14), were in this fallen condition. He passed through all the experiences of sorrowing humanity that “having suffered, being tempted, he might be able to succor them that are tempted.” “He was made in all points like unto his brethren, that he might be a faithful and merciful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” His perfection is the type of our perfection, for “we shall be like him.” His triumph is the pledge of our victory. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” As by the offense of one judgment cam upon all men unto condemnation, so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” The human race is God's masterpiece, the crowning glory of his creation, and, as the sculptor takes a piece of marble and first gives it to an ordinary workman to block out the statue in the rough, and then with his own skillful fingers fashions the stone into a figure that almost seems to breathe and speak, so God the Great Master Workman, gets man out in the rough first, using many agents to hew and hack the obdurate material; then he finishes him with an infinitely skillful hand, molding and fashioning him until he makes him the facsimile of himself, and pronounces him “very good.” (A.P. Adams, What Is Man?)
Another verse the Calvinists use as a proof text for their model of God is Proverbs 16:4? “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” The following explanation for this verse was offered by a website that believes in eternal torment:
In the above passage, the phrase, "things for Himself" takes us back to the Hebrew word maaneh, which is to answer to, or to give a reply to. What is being said in the first part of this verse is, "The Lord hath made all things to answer or give an account unto Him." With that said, we could accurately read Proverbs 16:4 like this:
The LORD hath made all things to give account unto Him: yea, even the wicked, who think they are off His hook, have to give an account unto Him on the day of judgment.
Doesn't that make a lot more sense? Now let's put that verse into context with verses 2 through 5:
16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
16:3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.
16:4 [The LORD hath made all things to give account unto Him: yea, even the wicked, who think they are off His hook, have to give an account unto Him on the day of judgment.]
16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.#
Another verse the Calvinists employ is: “The wrath of man shall praise thee” (Ps. 76:10). Again, I quote A.P. Adams:
Thus is God's sovereignty and man's freedom fully harmonized and Scripturally established, and it gives the true Christian a most comforting view of God. He is Supreme Ruler, Universal King. All things are under His control, all things are of Him. The wicked purposes of man are not carried out unless God permits, and he does not permit unless he can over-rule it for good. O, how safe and secure the trustful child of God feels when he realizes this truth! "All things are of God," (II Cor. 5:18) whatever comes to him, whether for the present joyous or grievous he knows that it is by his Father's appointment or permission, and hence, must be for his good. Whether it be a blow or a gift, a pain or a joy, tears or smiles, reproaches or blessings, persecutions or benefits, slander or praise, sickness or health, death or life, in every case, and in all it is the will of God, and that will is always the expression of a Father's love, and therefore sweet, and precious and good. These truths give us an idea of God that is at once grand and reassuring. He is "Our Father," the Almighty, infinite in Wisdom and boundless in Love. O, what a God for fallen man! from whom we may expect nothing but good, and always good, and only good and all good. "Thou art good, and doest good." (Psa. 119:68). "I will love thee, O, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my Strength, in whom I will trust; my Buckler and the horn of my Salvation and my High Tower." (Psa. 18:1, 2).
This Bible view of God is not only thus personally blessed to the Christian, but it assures us of another thing. God's plans and purposes are being carried out. Amid all the mutations of earthly things, its sin and sorrow, and tears, and woe, runs the golden thread of God's "purpose of the ages," (Eph. 3: 11 NV margin), binding all together and to the eternal throne, and leading the creature unerringly to the final goal; the image of the Creator.
Not only is it true that God's plans are not retarded or hindered by the wickedness of man, but God uses wicked men to advance His plans. He not only does not allow the wrath of man to work against Him, but He causes it to praise Him. How wonderful is all this! There is nothing to fear. God reigneth. "He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." (Free moral Agency, Adams)
The three verses just examined clearly show that Calvinists take verses out of context to support their vision of God. They use these three verses to support the idea that God made man for wrath. But there’s another verse they also twist out of context. This verse is not employed to prove that God made man for wrath, but rather to counter the argument that such a thing makes God a monster. They quote this verse by way of trying to show that God’s ways are a mystery to us. I’m referring to Isaiah 55:7-9:
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Those are the verses the Calvinists employ to defend their vision of God. These are the best verses they can produce to support the idea that God made us to hate us. And as we can see, their interpretation of all three verses is by no means the only one. Moreover, there are many clear verses of scripture that go against their interpretation. Aren't we supposed to interpret the unclear by the clear? Isn't that a major tenet of sound biblical hermeneutics? The hermeneutic that Calvinists supposedly follow? With that in mind, let's look at some of the clear verses of scripture that explicitly refute their interpretations.
The Calvinist says God man man in order to punish Him for sin. What does the bible say?
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither tempteth he any man.” (James 1:13)
Here is God's own explicit word; He did not make us for sin and punishment. Ezekiel says much the same thing, and God swears to it no less.
“Sayeth unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in he death of the wicked . . .” (Ezekiel 33:11)
We find the same theme in Lamentations.
“For the Lord will not cast off forever: But though he cause grief, yet he will have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:32-33)
The examples can be multiplied. We find verses in Timothy, John, Peter, etc . . . that He will have all to be saved, and desires that none perish, and that He is love. And yet we are to infer, from those few passages, whose meaning is anything but clear, that all of these other verses do not mean what they say.