WHOM God is willing He is hardening (Rom.9:18). These
plain words, and others of the same import in the ninth chapter of
Romans, are now not only rejected by Christendom as a whole, but by
almost all true believers. More than that, the great truth of God's
deity is not merely denied by Bible teachers, but every effort is made
to show that it is unscriptural. Hence we feel it specially laid upon us
by God, and a solemn duty to the saints, to reaffirm and emphasize the
great truth that God is greater than His creatures, and must not be
demeaned into the measure of a man.
God's dealings with Jacob and Esau introduce this discussion of God's
sovereignty. "For, not as yet being born, nor yet putting anything
into practice, good or bad, that God's purpose may remain as a choice,
not out of acts, but of Him Who is calling, it was declare...that `The
greater shall be slaving for the inferior,' according as it is written,
'Jacob I love, yet Esau I hate.' What, then, shall we assert? Not that
there is injustice with God! May it not come to that!"
But it has come to that! A truly sensitive spirit is subject to
severe shocks if he reads the writings of even advanced teachers.
Underneath it there is a stratum of hard, impenetrable unbelief in the
essential deity of God, which crops up on many unexpected occasions. And
when they are squarely confronted with the statements of Scripture they
have no hesitancy in condemning God as if He were a man, and taking
great credit upon themselves for their unbelief.
Not only does God hate, quite apart from the conduct of His
creatures, and before they have any hand in the matter whatever, but He
also definitely interferes in order to steel His creatures against His
will. "For the Scripture is saying to Pharaoh that 'for this
selfsame thing I rouse you up, that so I should be displaying My power
in you, and so My name should be published in the entire earth.'
Consequently then, to whom He is willing He is merciful, yet whom He is
willing, He is hardening" (Rom.9:17,18).
The passage goes on to say, "You will be protesting to me, then,
`Why, then, is He still blaming? for has anyone withstood His
intention?'" With this before him it would seem that no one who
professes to believe the Bible would be guilty of a similar objection.
Yet this very thought is put forth without the least hesitancy. There is
something in the human heart that refuses to give God a place superior
to His creatures. He must not be allowed to do anything which we should
not do. I shrink from transcribing the following deliberate record of
unbelief, yet I am sure God will forgive, when my object is to help the
saints to avoid this serious and well-nigh universal sin.
"The philosophy regarding the hardening of man's heart by
God is unsatisfactory...The `hardening' of those who have already
hardened their own hearts is in a different category. For God to
deliberately harden the hearts of innocent people to display His
judgment, and then to reveal His love in reconciliation, reminds of a
foolish mother the present writer once observed, who in a fit of
temper slapped her child; and when it cried, immediately hugged it
again with soothing words. Far be it from God to act like that. What
would be the good of it? It seems so utterly foolish. That child would
grow up to distrust its mother; so would those who wake to find they
had been artificially hardened by God and then severely punished for
it; they would distrust the God Who did it, ever after."
Even the most vital truths of God's Word can be made ridiculous by a
crude and blasphemous comparison. Who has not been shocked when ungodly
enemies of the evangel call it the religion of the shambles? No less
silly is this simile. The Scriptures do not teach that God, in a fit of
temper, abuses His innocent creatures, and then, in a fit of remorse,
seeks to atone for His mistake. But it does teach, in terms which cannot
be mistaken, that
It is the experience of evil God gives the sons of humanity To
humble them by it (Ecc.1:13).
In what category shall we place the teacher who compares God's wisdom
in doing thus, with the passing petulance of distracted sinners? Who
perverts the humbling of humanity into hatred and hostility?
How loathsome this story becomes if we place it alongside the book of
Job! Job was not an innocent child, but an upright man, without his
equal in the earth. His heart was not hard, neither did God harden it.
Yet He sent him one calamity after another, and Job knew full well that
God had done it, for he charges Him with it to His face. And, almost as
suddenly and without the least cause on the part of Job, God reverses
His actions and blesses him again. Was He like a silly woman? Did Job
distrust Him ever after? On the contrary, His words prove the very
Every saint who has had a real experience of God has learned what it
is to humble himself under His mighty hand. And he knows that the most
effective means in His hand is adversity. I myself have had a
heart-rending experience. I toiled and toiled for many years to
accumulate enough for a competence, so that I could devote all of my
time to the service of God. And when I had finally reached my goal and
was giving all my strength to His work, He took my money from me. I have
never been able to blame myself for this loss, for I had distrusted my
own ability, and had used caution. I have never "blamed"
anyone but God, for His hand was clearly manifest behind the human
puppets. Do I now distrust Him because of it? On the contrary, I praise
Him for it! He has kept me in His work without it. My heart has been
softened, not hardened, toward Him by it.
But the loss of my fortune was not all. Other trials came, as in the
case of Job, much more bitter and unbearable, including disease and even
death. Losses that seemed irreparable beset my path, not to mention the
animosity and hatred of my brethren in Christ, who resented the exposure
of their heresies, even as this brother makes me the scapegoat in his
fulminations against the great truth of God's deity. And this
heart-rending experience, thank God, has not led to distrust, but to
confidence in God. He wishes me not only to be independent of men, but
also to be dependent on Him.
If God deals thus harshly in His love for one who was not only a
saint and a son, but who desired to fully serve Him, seemingly balking
his efforts to be independent of man in order to serve Him acceptably,
no reasoning in the world will be able to prove that He does not adopt a
similar course with those who know Him not, and who have no special
claims on His love or His forbearance. God forgive His erring saints
when they turn His wisdom into folly, and His ways into futility through
their ignorance and unbelief!
Here we have statements which could be made only by a heart hardened
against God and His Word. First it seeks to discredit God's declaration
by calling it a "philosophy." The Scriptures assert,
"whom He is willing, He is hardening" (Rom.9:18). What
"philosophy" of man ever taught such a doctrine? None! It is
the objector who prefers the futile human philosophy of God
"hardening" where man has already hardened. He deifies man and
drags down God to less than human proportions. God can only complete
what man has begun! He merely seconds man's lead! It is the spirit of
the day that defies God and deifies man. A "philosophy" or a
creed, or a teaching, which denies God the prime attribute of Deity is
rotten at the core. That this is the case with Christendom at large no
one can deny who has eyes to see. But that it is also true of many Who
denounce the defections of Christendom is just as true and far more sad.