In chapter 4, “Adam’s Fall and Mine” Sproul talks about how many people object to God choosing Adam as their representative and imputing his sin to them (pp. 90-93). Then he moves on to discuss the importance of understanding predestination in view of the fall of Adam:
“It is also vital to see predestination in light of the Fall. All Christians agree that God’s decree of predestination was made before the Fall. Some argue that God first predestinated some people to salvation and others to damnation and then decreed the Fall to make sure that some folks would perish. Sometimes this dreadful view is even attributed to Calvinism. Such an idea was repugnant to Calvin and is equally repugnant to all orthodox Calvinists. The notion is sometimes called ‘hyper-Calvinism.’ But even that is an insult. This view has nothing to do with Calvinism. Rather than hyper-Calvinism, it is anti-Calvinism” (p. 96).
Obviously God decreed the Fall that He might be glorified in the Person and Work of His Son (Ephesians 3:11; 1 Peter 1:20). And in order for God to show Himself truly gracious and truly merciful He unconditionally predestinated Jacob and Moses to salvation and unconditionally predestinated Esau and Pharaoh to damnation. God “made sure” that Esau and Pharaoh would perish by unconditionally hardening them (Romans 9:18). And He unconditionally hardened them because He desired to demonstrate His wrath and make His power known (Romans 9:22).
God also “made sure” that Jacob and Moses would be saved by unconditionally having mercy on them (Romans 9:18). He had unconditional mercy on them because He desired to make known the riches of His glory to them (Romans 9:23). The riches of His glory are made known to the vessels of mercy prepared for salvation when they see that the work of Jesus Christ ALONE is what makes them to differ from the vessels of wrath prepared for damnation. The vessels of mercy predestined to salvation are those for whom Christ DID die. The vessels of wrath predestined to damnation are those for whom Christ did NOT die. This God-glorifying, Christ-magnifying doctrine is what R.C. Sproul finds dreadfully repugnant.
“Then to you who believe belongs the preciousness. But to disobeying ones, He is the Stone which those building rejected; this One became the Head of the Corner, and a Stone-of-stumbling, and a Rock-of-offense to the ones stumbling, being disobedient to the Word, to which they were also appointed” (1 Peter 2:7-8).
“God has not appointed us to wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, He dying on our behalf, so that whether we watch or we sleep, we may live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).
Contrary to what Sproul says, God indeed “makes sure” that some folks stumble at the Stone-of-stumbling, having appointed them to wrath. God also “makes sure” that other folks believe, having appointed them to obtain salvation through their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
“When God predestines people to salvation he is predestinating people to be saved whom he knows really NEED to be saved. They need to be saved because they are sinners in Adam, not because he forced them to be sinners. Calvinism sees Adam sinning by his own free will, not by divine coercion” (pp. 96-97; emphasis Sproul’s, italicized in the original).
Sproul is COMMANDING the Potter. He is telling the Potter what He can and cannot do with His own things. Sproul is wickedly sympathizing with Paul’s objector. God did NOT “force” (the word “force” is infinitely too weak) anyone to be a sinner, He CAUSED them to be sinners. God actively, omnipotently, and efficiently CAUSED the Fall and this is how He makes dishonorable vessels. The objector asks God, “Why did You make me like this?” (Romans 9:20) Sproul’s reply is that God did NOT make him like this, but that he made himself like this by his own free will. Paul contradicts Sproul by saying that God DID make him like this because He has the sovereign right to make vessels of dishonor for the purpose of displaying His power and wrath.
The question is WHY did God make the objector into a sinful vessel to display His wrath in? Another way to put it (to employ Sproul’s terminology) would be:
“Why did you ‘force’ or ‘coerce’ me to be a sinner by making me like this?”
Paul’s objector asked “Why does He yet find fault?” (Romans 9:19) And just in case anybody missed it, R.C. Sproul is Paul’s objector.
Scripture says that God hardens whom He will. This is unconditional hardening on God’s part. Now think of the kind or type of “hardening” that God would have to do in order to evoke this kind of response on the part of the rebellious sinner. The objection is that if God hardens IN THIS MANNER (or in THIS WAY), then God cannot find fault with the one whom He is hardening.
According to Sproul’s scheme of things, those whom God hardens would NOT NEED to be saved since God would be “forcing” them to be sinners (i.e., making them like this). And if He is “forcing” them to be sinners by “making them like this” then they CANNOT be judged as sinners since He (supposedly) cannot find fault with them. With whom then, does the fault lie, if not with man? With God, of course. The enemies of God assert that if God “made them like this” in order to destroy them as a vessel of wrath then HE is the guilty One and not them since He “forced” or “coerced” them. Oh, the mutiny!
Sproul asserts that Adam sinned by his own free will and not by “divine coercion.” The truth is that Adam sinned because God actively caused him to sin. And as I’ve shown repeatedly, “coercion” doesn’t even come close to an accurate description of the Biblical teaching concerning Divine determinism. What Sproul is saying though, is that pre-fall Adam had a will that was free from God’s control. Thus, what Sproul is advocating here is a form of atheism or paganism.
“To be sure, God knew before the Fall that there would most certainly be a Fall and he took action to redeem some. He ordained the Fall in the sense that he chose to allow it, but not in the sense that he chose to coerce it. His predestinating grace is gracious precisely because he chooses to save people whom he knows in advance will be spiritually dead” (p. 97).
Sproul says that God ordained (decreed) the Fall in the sense that He “chose to allow it.” To Sproul, God “chose to allow it” because He knew that it would happen in advance. It looks like Sproul is twisting and perverting the Biblical teaching of an active decree into a “decree” (so-called) that is merely an expression of Divine prescience. Apparently in Sproul’s blinded mind, the Fall was “allowed to happen” in some sort of dualistic, deistic, or spontaneously generated fashion. Is there perhaps another sovereign creator in the universe that “chose to coerce it”? Next Page (5)