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Does God Create Unbelief?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
August 12, 2021 12:01 am

Does God Create Unbelief?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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August 12, 2021 12:01 am

If the doctrine of predestination seems unfair to us, will we dare complain that our merciful God is not merciful enough? Today, R.C. Sproul defends the Lord's sovereign right to save those whom He chooses.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind. If we have two men who were judged guilty and are under the substance of dust and God is gracious to this one certainly also be gracious to the other. Is it fair for the governor to grant executive clemency to one prisoner and not to the rest of it certainly is an equal. We talk about predestination. The document says God chooses who will be saved. Many say it's not fair.

They believe salvation is offered to everyone. It's up to us to decide whether to accept what certainly seemed like the fair way to do it today. Dr. RC scroll helps to see that it's not a matter of fairness, it's a matter of justice, probably the strongest statement that we find anywhere in the Scriptures deals directly with the question. Predestination is found in the ninth chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans in that particular text. He deals with the election of Jacob rather than Esau, and not only does this text speak heavily to the matter of predestination in general, but it also has significance for the controversial question of whether or not predestination is double so let's take some time. In this session to look at the ninth chapter of Romans, and give attention to what the apostle says in it will begin in verse nine of chapter 9 for this is a word of promise at this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son and not only this, but there was Rebecca also when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad in order that God's purpose according to his choice might stand, not because of works but because of him who calls. It was said to her older will serve the younger. Just as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated here when Paul seeks to illustrate his understanding of divine election he uses for purposes of illustration and example of two men and I think that it's significant that the two that he chooses our brothers not only are they brothers but they are twin brothers as they have the same family. The same background the same geographical location. Everything that could possibly be the same, is the same that are in fact roommates. Thank you. I get a little punchy after resetting predestination for this long and in his consideration of these two men he labors the point that one is preferred over the other before either is born. While that statement before they were born, raises the question of God's foreknowledge. The most popular view of predestination that rejects the Augustinian view is that view we call the foreknowledge view of election which basic thesis is this that predestination simply means that God from all eternity looks down through time and knows in advance what people will do and on the basis of that foreknowledge then chooses them well.

We notice that chapter 9 of Romans speaks very sharply to this question, we read that for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, just look at that phrase. Paul does not say here that the God had not known what they were going to do for that he had known what they were going to do. He simply declares that the twins hadn't been born yet and they hadn't done anything. So all the text explicitly teaches is that God's choice of Jacob over Esau was made before they were born, the foreknowledge view would agree that God's pre-decimating choice is done at the foundation of the earth before anybody support.

Everybody agrees the predestination is accomplished in the mind of God before people are born, but the foreknowledge view says that the choices made before people are born, but in light of what God knows they will do after they are more that we have silence in this passage. With respect to that question specifically. But if ever in biblical content there was an awkward silence. Here it is what I'm getting at is this, that if the apostle had any desire to make clear that the electing predestinate eating actions of God are done with a view to the future actions of man. This would've been the place to say it was if the biblical view is what the foreknowledge view seeks to hold, namely, that God always chooses. In light of his knowledge of future decisions. First of all, why does the Bible ever say that it never says and if it ever had the opportunity to say it. It's but not only is it not said here but Paul takes the time to say that though the choice was made before they were born before they had done any good or evil. We have to ask the question why does include that if his purpose was to communicate a foreknowledge view of election. The addition of these words would certainly confuse the people of God would not let's go on further. Though the twins were not yet born had not done anything good or bad. Let's Paul's concern here in order that God's purpose according to his choice might stand the emphasis again in the passage is on God's purpose. What Paul is saying is that the reason why the decision is made before their born before they've done anything good or evil is so that it's God's purpose who will stay to see that the flavor of this passage is totally opposed to the concept of a foreknowledge view of predestination. Do you see that what other reason could we get for the apostles emphasizing this fact that they had not done any good or evil.

Not even have they not done it in space and time, but by implication, even in the mind of God that is from God's perspective, there is no good or evil that is taken into consideration here because the conclusion is the reason why he states that the reason that the apostle gives for having set it this way is that the purpose of God might stand, according to his choice not because of works but because of him who calls.

The foreknowledge view says that God looks down in the future and he sees that some people make the correct choice and others will make the incorrect choice and with the foreknowledge view suffers from is that election in that view is based upon a good work believing this is the work of God. To believe in the one whom he has sent the supreme good work is to place one's trust in Jesus Christ. In one sense of considering the biblical concept of the good work. But Paul is saying here that it is clearly not because of human works but because of him who calls the Arminian view and its various styles and shapes and forms.

Bottom line makes the final decision for our salvation rest upon a human choice, not upon a divine action and I think Paul is annihilating that position here strongly as he could possibly do it by emphasizing the fact that it is not because of works but because of the one who calls the accident and the credit for your redemption is to be given to God to God alone is the glory and in order that this purpose might stand, and that it not be because of works but because of him who calls. It was said to her, the older will serve the younger. That is the reason why God made this choice was to demonstrate the supremacy of him and his purpose as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated all come back to that phrase in the moment because I know that provokes all kinds of problems with the idea of hatred that look at verse 14 verse 14 is a rhetorical question, what shall we say that there is no injustice with God is there house. Paul answered his own question. Does he simply say no there's no injustice or know he uses the most powerful form of emphasis that he can. Some translators read may it never be or other was God forbid the answer to his question. Does this indicate injustice in God. The answer to the question is absolutely not that's unthinkable now. I want to speculate for a second one ask you to think about this. Why do you suppose the apostle asks this rhetorical question Plaza teacher and when teachers teach, they know going into their lessons that sometimes they'll be difficulty with the students understanding what the teacher is communicating a good teacher anticipates his opposition and where the problems will arise that Paul is obviously here as a teacher, anticipating a protest from his peers when he says what shall we say that and what particular thing does he expect people say when they hear this. It's not fair well my question is why does he anticipate that objection.

While there are two possible reasons really could be anticipating this objection because he may be thinking there may actually be some people listening to me you're reading this letter who were muddleheaded enough to be of an Augustinian persuasion and find my words and Augustinian view of election which would obviously be unjust and so all I have to do to keep that from ever happening is to say, is the injustice of God. Well obviously not so much. Then for Augustine and Aquinas, and Calvin and Luther, and so maybe that's what he's anticipating or maybe Paul himself is Augustinian and he said experience with teaching the doctrine of predestination where every time the subject is mentioned. The initial response of people is not fair.

I have a sneaking suspicion that that is the reason why the apostle raises this rhetorical question because the thing or should understand is that nobody ever raises the question about the Arminian view. In fact, the Arminian view is designed in such a way that that isn't a problem. I take comfort in the fact that the same questions that are raised about my view of predestination are the ones that apostle Paul had to be with. Is there unrighteousness in God because on the surface it sounds like it when you talk about a divine sovereign choice before anybody has done good or evil without a view to their future actions that strictly according to the sovereign purpose of God that God's purposes may be sin of grace not of human works, then the obvious question. Were going to ask is how can that be fair, Paul says, is there unrighteousness in God and he answers his own question with an emphatic no.

May it never be for he says to Moses, I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion upon whom I will have compassion. Again, if I can speculate if I were the apostle and I were teaching a foreknowledge view of election and I had these objections to deal with what when I fall back on if I'm going to pull the plug once and for all of any charge of God's being unfair. I would say waiting. It's God's not unfair go so unjust because even though this decision is made before anybody's ever done any good or evil. It's with a view to their future choices so the bed you make is the bed you sleep it, that would pull the plug forever, but he doesn't do instead. He falls back on what on the divine prerogative to exercise mercy upon whom he will exercise mercy. The whole point of the passages that some people receive a measure of mercy. Others do not. Again, no one receives injustice at the hands of God. Esau is not selected as an object of divine mercy, but that is not an injustice against Esau, because Esau even before he is born is known by God as a fallen person because when God does this electing. He always does it in light of the fall, God only chooses fallen sinners for salvation. All of God's choices about salvation presuppose the need for salvation. Otherwise, there never be any such thing as election would be a waste of time for God to elect of the salvation people who don't need salvation so the whole process of election is with a view to a fallen lost human race.

And God considers the whole world. He knows of the whole world is small and he knows that if he just gave Justus what would happen if God only exercise justice to a fallen race.

Everyone would perish, but God chooses to grant mercy to some Jacob receives mercy. Esau receives justice there's anything wrong with that but we say it's not fair. What we mean by that is it's not equal, and what works in our minds. Is this problem well if God is going to be gracious if we have two men who were judged guilty and thereunder the sentence of death.

God is gracious to this one certainly also be gracious to the is it fair for the governor to grant executive clemency to one prisoner and not to the rest of it certainly is an equal but again, this person receives grace this person receives justice. He has nothing of which he has any right to complain. There's nothing unjust about and God reminds us again and again that it is his right to grant his mercy upon whom he will grant his mercy and if he grants mercy to one is not obligated to give it to the other. Again, if we think that God is ever obligated to be merciful. What does that mean were not thinking about mercy anymore because mercy by definition is not obligated mercy is something that God does voluntarily is not bound to do it. He doesn't have to do it is not required to do it. He does it out of the sheer goodness of his heart and we can never say to a merciful God, and this is the thing that scares me.

Hope you will never say to a merciful God. God you are not merciful. I'm not that is blasphemous to charge God with not being merciful enough, because that charge implies that there is sin in God that God has not done what he should have done. He should have been more merciful and who are you to say to your creator by whose mercy, you draw every breath that you buries that he has been lacking in mercy process.

The Moses I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion now. The coup de grace, the verse that I think should in all honestly and Arminianism forever says that here's the conclusion that does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs but upon God who shows mercy while the Arminian view does not say that it depends all on man and not on God. But the Arminian view says that without God's mercy, there'd be no salvation.

That's true, but it also depends on our choice. It depends both on God's grace and upon our choice that we must exercise our will.

Apart from the barn activity in order to be say so. The election depends upon human choices in the foreknowledge view and pulses know it doesn't.

How could he say it any more clearly so there's not based upon the one who wills or upon the one who runs but on God.

There's where the dependencies who has the mercy if I would ask you to write on the blackboard. The names of the men or women whom you believe to be the most wicked people who have ever lived.

I don't have time to go to that exerciser. But I know that certain names would tend to appear in anyone's list. Hitler, Stalin, Pharaoh, one of these people have in common, all of them were heads of state.

All of them had virtually almost on limited authority in Stalin's case, there was no agency, institution or person in the Soviet Union who could question the authority of Joseph Stalin. Adolf Hitler enjoyed virtually absolute sovereign authority in the Third Reich when men achieve levels of power where they become outside the bounds of normal restraints, their ability to sin freely increases because the restraints are few and far between. We have a saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Why because absolute power gives one freedom to do whatever he wants without fear of the police or public opinion renting out a keep in mind that Pharaoh was the most powerful authority figure in the ancient world. He didn't have to answer to anybody only restraints he had to worry about were public opinion and things like that when the only thing that's keeping Pharaoh from being utterly wicked is the restraining power of God certainly wasn't the government of Egypt that was keeping him in check. Only God's restraints were keeping Pharaoh from being more wicked than he actually was. God wants to harden Pharaoh's heart.

Does God have to create freshly roller all he has to do is remove his hands and give Pharaoh all the space he needs. And that's how Pharaoh's heart is hard which is itself an act of divine judgment, a just act of divine judgment upon and the gospel does the same thing in the lives of the reprobate, the more people hear the gospel and freely rejected the more their hearts become hardened and in this drama, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. All God does is remove the restraints and so Pharaoh is responsible for the hardening of his heart and so again we see that in this scheme, and the concept of election all manner fallen all men are wicked and God gives mercy to sign as in the case and the others beliefs to themselves, they receive justice. This group receives mercy on and that God's purposes. Much. It is a common criticism of the biblical doctrine of election that God creates unbelief. But if we allow Scripture to be our final authority on the matter, we can begin to see it is Dr. RC Sproul described it today. RC's bitter teacher all week as we have feature the series chosen by God you're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday. We are grateful that you join this if all of this is new to you a note can be difficult to think through, but I would urge you to keep studying in this six part series is a good place to start for your donation of any amount will be glad to send it to you on two DVDs along with the digital study guide for the series and Dr. Sproles hardbound book by the same title chosen by God.

There are couple of ways you can contact this one is by phone at 800-435-4343 but you can also give your gift theologians have been discussing and debating the doctrine of election for centuries and especially the question of whether God causes unbelief great 19th-century pastor Charles Spurgeon, who was considered the last of the Puritans made this statement he the parishes chooses to perish but he that is saved is say, because God has chosen to save him again.

We invite you to call us at 800-435-4343 to request the book chosen by God, along with the video series by Dr. RC Sproul and the digital study guide for the series. If you prefer to give your gift and make a request online or web address is Renewing Your there are other questions that arise when we talk about election. For example, if God is already predestined, those who will be saved is the purpose of evangelism. Dr. Strobel address that objection tomorrow right here on Renewing Your Mind

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