Why Do You Make Me Thus?

by A.E. Knoch

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!" (Rom.9:11-14).

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 opposite.

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.

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