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Chapter Thirteen Why God Doubly Predestines Well, I think Ive said enough on this subject to give you

the impression that I do believe double-predestination is a biblical doctrine and that it is taught with extreme clarity in Romans 9, Proverbs 16, 1 Peter 2 (but not in Jude 4). But Ive based this not only on these texts but also on the fact that this doctrine would have been nothing new for the Jewish theologian and apostle Paul. I also think Ive said enough to give me cause to run and hide out in a cave for a while! I know some of you are mad! I know youre thinking, My God isnt like that! My God would never create someone for the express purpose of sending them to hell! Well dear sister or brother, I would encourage you return with me here to Romans 9 to read the rest of the text and inform yourself better.1 Verse 22 tells us very clearly not only that our God does this, but also why He does this. There seem to be two reasons, inseparably connected and interrelated. First, verse 22 tells us that God predestines some to eternal destruction in order to demonstrate His wrath and make His power known. Second, verse 23 tells us that God does this in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory. In verse 22, God creates some for destruction in order to make His power known and demonstrate His wrath. Again, Pharaoh was just such a one. God Himself stated, For this very purpose I raised you p, to demonstrate my power in you, and that My Name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth (v. 17). John Piper states, Moreover, in view of the parallels between Rom 9:22 and 9:17, a most natural suggestion is that Pharaoh serves as an example of a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction. And since Pauls inference from the Pharaoh story is that God hardens whom he wills (9:18), the most natural suggestion from the context is that fitted for destruction (9:22) refers precisely to this divine hardening.2

1 A dispassionate reading of Romans, chapters nine and eleven will result in the assurance that, whatever men may believe or disbelieve regarding the matter, the Word of God is bold in declaring that some are appointed to blessing and others experience condemnation. Human limitations and perverse reasoning can hardly render true judgments on these issues. Chafer, pp. 268-9. 2

Piper, John. The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1993. Page 212.

In verse 23, Paul tells us that an interrelated purpose of preparing some persons to be vessels of wrath is that God makes His power known to the vessels of mercy by showing them the infinite and eternal riches of His glory that belong to them simply because of His sheer mercy. Both 22 and 23 then prove that it is all about God from beginning to end. From the beginning of mercy to eternity, and from the beginning of destruction to its end, God means to display His power, make His Name great, and demonstrate His glory among all the nations of the earth. And creating some persons on which to display His eternal wrath seems a suitable option to the Potter who has the right to make such vessels from the lump of sinful humanity which in its entirety deserves eternal destruction anyway. Now, although I am not a Presbyterian, I do believe the Westminster Confession of Faith is one of the greatest doctrinal statements in church history. Ive quoted it in the previous chapter. And I believe that it states the reasoning behind all of this with great clarity. Preserved for us today is the statement that, It pleased God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of His glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning to create or make of nothing the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible3 The same is affirmed to be the chief end of God in all His purposes and works of Providence and Redemption.4 It should be no surprise to us that this theology (which, incidentally lies behind almost every other major doctrinal confession since that time) sounds so much like the Scriptures we have already discussed. The Bible is explicitly clear that Gods glory is the chief end of God in all His creation.5 There is simply no other explanation other than this. The reason God predestines some to glory and others to condemnation is because He knows that in so doing He will thereby glorify Himself. If ever there was a pastor and theologian who believed and taught that Gods glory was at the heart of everything He does, it is Jonathan Edwards. In one of his more famous sermons, The End for Which God Created the World, he preached, The end of the creation is that the
3 4

See 4 1.

See 3 3, 5, 7; 5 1; 6 1; 33 2. See also Col. 1:16; Prov. 16:4; Rev. 4:11; Rom. 11:36.

creation might glorify [God].6 John Piper has presented us with another edition of that sermon in his book Gods Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards. In Pipers book, he quotes Edwards as preaching: God had respect to himself, as his last and highest end, in this work; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of all beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of himAll that is ever spoken of in Scripture as an ultimate end of Gods works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God.7 This really rubs hard the version of Christianity with which most are familiar today. It is my fear that in preaching and writing today, the glory of God has been preached as the sole goal of man, while somehow maintaining a congruous interest in the exaltation of man. Mans needs and feelings have seemingly partnered up with the proclamation of Gods glory. But it isnt a partnership at all. Our needs and our feelings are actually met when Gods glory becomes our sole focus in life. This is so because Gods glory is our greatest need and is the greatest feeling we are commanded to experience (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31). Listen to another challenging statement that John Piper has written regarding this tendency in Christianity today. Many people are willing to be God-centered as long as they feel that God is man-centered. It is a subtle danger. We may think we are centering our lives on God, when we are really making Him a means to self-esteem.8 Because a man-centered vision of God-centeredness pervades our churches and homes today, understanding things like doublepredestination becomes incredibly difficult. And it will always and forever be generally met with conflict, frustration and rejection when ones view of God is centered on man. But, when real, bible-saturated, Spirit-driven God-centeredness takes up residence, Gods glory as

Miscellany #3 in: Jonathan Edwards, The Miscellaneis, ed. by Thomas Schafer, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 13 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), p. 199. 7 The End for Which God Created the World in John Piper, Gods Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), p. 140, 142.

Brothers, We are Not Professionals (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2002), pp. 6-7.

revealed in Scripture and experienced in life will become the focus of every heart, home and local church. Our man centered view of God shows itself quite well when considering the relationship of Gods glory to those whom He has predestined to be condemned. Those who struggle with this still have a man-centered view of God. They measure His actions by what they consider to be humane or fair. They argue vehemently that God is not glorified by predestining some persons for condemnation. But God is not a man, and He will not be measured by His creation. In response, just because we dont seem to be able to come up with a list of reasons as to how those who are predestined for condemnation bring glory to God doesnt mean it isnt true. The fact that we dont know how God glorifies Himself in the destruction of the non-elect is not something that is easily grasped. The truths that fit into this category dont yield themselves to our minds as easily as other truths. I say all of this as a sort of preface to one of Edwards lesser known sermons in which he does endeavor to bring such truths to light. He was always masterful in thinking along lines of thought that most of us could never reach. And because of that, he was able to communicate those trains of thought to us. A simple reading of them will make us average pastors, theologians, and Christians feel really dumb! Edwards argued in this sermon that God uses the wicked (or the unfruitful, as he also calls them in this sermon) to glorify His justice and majesty. Im willing to bet that the points he makes below are not so much difficult to understand as they are tough to swallow. Pray hard as you read so that your heart would bend toward these truths. Unfruitful persons are of use in their destruction for the glory of Gods justice. The vindictive justice of God is a glorious attribute, as well as his mercy; and the glory of this attribute appears in the everlasting destruction and ruin of the barren and unfruitful. The glory of divine justice in the perdition of ungodly men, appears wonderful and glorious in the eyes of the saints and angels in heaven Unfruitful persons in their destruction are of use for God to glorify his majesty upon them. The awful majesty of God remarkably appears in those dreadful and amazing punishments which he inflicts on those who rise up against himGod glorifies his own majesty in the destruction of wicked men; and herein he appears infinitely great, in that it

appears to be an infinitely dreadful thing to offend him. How awful doth the majesty of God appear in the dreadfulness of his anger! This we may learn to be the end of the damnation of the wicked, from Rom. ix.22.9 I may not understand it, and I may not agree with it. But I, being a human, may not talk back to God questioning with my finite whys and wherefores. That is simply not allowable. Herein, then, is the biblical truth, reasoning and motivation behind double-predestination Gods glory. Go with me to the next chapter for a survey of this glorious doctrine.

The Wicked Useful in their Destruction Only in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1992), p. 127. AS with any quote that is especially hard to swallow, the reader is encouraged to go back and read the sermon in its entirety. It can also be obtained online through Bible Bulletin Board at the following link: www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/JE-destruction.html.