“So then, God has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills (Romans 9:18).”
That’s double predestination and it clearly implies that only one will is a truly free will.
“You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will (Romans 9:19)?”

Great question! God wills reality into existence with his Word. If sin is resisting his will, sin must also be choosing an illusion but an illusion that he wills us to will.

I once had a horrid dream that I was a Nazi guard committing atrocities. Then, suddenly, it occurred to me: Jesus doesn’t do this; this is not who I am. And I woke up. When I awoke, I was still “I” but with a memory of an evil “me” that didn’t actually exist, except as a memory of what I am not, which made me grateful for who I am.

There is a Word that descends into every nightmare, yet in the waking world, there are still scars on his hands and his feet. Even if evil is the manifestation of an illusion, the Word of Love is Real.

But “Why does he still find fault?” “Find fault” is one word in Greek, which is also translated as “blame.” God does “find fault” and yet, in my experience and in Scripture, he doesn’t seem to blame as we blame—as if someone could’ve done something differently if they’d only tried a little harder, willed a little more intently, and exerted a little more effort.

The Pharisees were the religious superstars of human will and exertion but “could not believe” for God had “blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts (John 12:39-40, Isaiah 6:10).”
On the tree in the garden, where they took his life, Jesus cried “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The Pharisees knew about the good (the Law) but didn’t know the Good in flesh (Jesus). So, Jesus found fault (It is evil to crucify the Good) but he didn’t blame as we blame. Apparently, everything was going according to plan.

If they had not crucified the Light, we would all have remained blind to our own blindness and enslaved to our own arrogant dreams.

On the sixth day of creation, Adam was blind to his own blindness. He was in the presence of Love and could not find his Helper. Scripture is clear: God alone is our Helper. And so, God put Adam (humanity) into a deep sleep, divided Adam into Adam and Eve, and—apparently—left them alone with an evil talking snake and a tree (two trees in one place, or one tree with two names) that could both kill and give life.

When God found them hiding in the trees, after they had taken the fruit of the tree, he found fault. But he didn’t blame them as if they could’ve done any differently; they had had no knowledge of Good and evil when they took the fruit of the knowledge of Good and evil. And yet, having taken the fruit, they had come to know “about” the good (dead Good, the law), but they did not yet know the Good—for they had just taken his life on the tree.

We don’t know the Good until the Good knows us; we come back to the tree and discover that what we have taken has always been given. He cries “Father forgive them; it is finished” and delivers up his Spirit even as it descends upon us and we awaken from the nightmare that we are our own creators, saviors, and redeemers.

So . . . “Why does he still find fault?”
Doctors find fault, not to blame, but to heal.
Teachers find fault, not to blame, but to teach.
Makers find fault, not to blame, but to complete their creation.

God finds faults but not to blame as we blame. And we do blame but aren’t very good at finding fault—that is, who it is that is actually to blame for the faults that we find.

Who’s to blame? Think of someone. Are they to blame? Are their parents, or their parent’s parents to blame? And is it nature or nurture? Or is it free will? And is that something or nothing? For God makes all things and even allows for the “no-things.” So, the blame train always leads back to God and our question: “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? (Romans 9:19)”

“But who are you, o man (adam), to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me this way? (Romans 9:20)’”

When Susan and I had kids, we kind of expected them to “answer back,” reason, and argue.
“Israel” means “wrestles with God,” for at the edge of the Promised Land, the God/man, who is the Promise and looks like Esau, wrestled the hell out of Jacob and named him “Israel.”
Israel answers back. Abraham answers back. Moses answers back. Isn’t Paul answering back?

Abraham argued with God about the destruction of Sodom, but it wasn’t just Abraham, it was the Promised Seed in Abraham. Apparently, God didn’t tell Abraham that he would restore Sodom just as he would restore Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16). He wanted Abraham to argue.

Moses argued with God about the destruction of Israel, saying “What about your promise to Abraham?” and “If you won’t save them, blot me out of your book.” We’ve all been blotted out of God’s book, but someone wrestled with God, and we’ve all been written back in. Apparently, God wanted Moses to argue, but it wasn’t just Moses; it was the Promised Seed in Moses.

Paul begins Chapter 9 with a prayer that he would be a devoted offering from Christ for the salvation of the Israelites, his kinsmen. But that isn’t just Paul; that’s the Wrestler in Paul. The Wrestler (The Israel of God) not only argues like Abraham, not only offers to be damned with his brothers like Moses; he descends into hell (hades) to set the captives free.

To the “evangelical” and institutional church, who latch onto one verse about Esau and don’t read the whole story, who rejoice in the hardening of Pharaoh while remaining blind to their own blindness and hard heart, who so easily rest with the idea of their kinsmen endlessly tortured in hell, perhaps God would say… “How about a little more wrestling?”

Who are you, to answer back to God? Maybe you’re his kid like Jesus is his kid, and you have a world full of brothers and sisters… or were you unaware, simply dreaming your own dreams?

“He has Mercy on whomever he wills.” So, upon whom does he freely will to have mercy?
“He consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. (Romans 11:32)”

Jump on the blame train if you feel that you must. Blame Putin. Blame the Nazis. Blame the Jews. You’ll find fault and find it in them, but ultimately, they’re not to blame. You won’t find the One who is to blame until you arrive at a tree in a garden.

You can blame the one hanging on the tree, for he is the Free-Will of God Almighty.
But look again. There is a problem isn’t there? He has no faults.
With every arrogant decision you took his life and yet he freely gives his life.

You blame him, but he is not blaming you.
And yet, he is creating you in his own image—he is Love.
And apparently, everything is going according to plan . . . His plan.
“The hour has come to wake from sleep… The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11-12)”
Let us Love in freedom.

When he finds fault, he is waking you from a nightmare.

Subscribe to the Podcast

All Sermons