THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #10
Thesis #10 of 95 - Children of the devil are alluded to by Paul in Romans 9 as vessels of wrath created and prepared by God for destruction. They were not planted by the Father, neither retain His seed, so no longer bear a reflection of His moral image. In that sense they cease to be fully human but exist to fulfil God’s purposes set out in theses 92 and 93 (regarding the providential role of evil and suffering)
- Rom9:22 – What if God, willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His authority known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath designed for destruction?
- Mt15:13 – Jesus answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted”
- 1Jn3:9 – No one who is born of God (continually practices) sin, because his seed REMAINS in him; and he cannot continually practice sin, because he is born of God
In Rom9 Paul refers to vessels of wrath and vessels of God’s mercy, making clear the latter refers to elect Jews and Christians (v24). It is therefore assumed there are two groups whereas in fact there are three. The third are the bulk of humanity who are neither destined to be co-inheritors with Christ, nor those Paul defines as having been fashioned/designed/adjusted (Greek: καταρτίζω) for ultimate destruction. Like their archetype Cain, these “vessels of wrath” (σκεύη ὀργῆς) were souls created by God (the Potter) but not planted by Him (Mt15:13). They were destined for satanic use to fulfil God’s wondrous purposes, such as having His own Son betrayed and executed for the salvation of mankind and the ultimate defeat of His archenemy. This is typified in the example Paul himself provides in Romans9 regarding the exaltation, hardening of heart and final humiliation of the Egyptian Pharaoh to display JHWE’s power to save and deliver His people from their oppressors.
It would surely be an affront, both to divine providence and humanity as a whole if Paul were identifying such hateful, accursed vessels with the souls of everyone who would fail to respond to the gospel. For the Potter analogy is indicating that these people were specifically fashioned (καταρτίζω) so they would act in a God-grieving way resulting in their eternal ruin. Yet such a dire providential perspective is unavoidable applying the Augustinian derived binary soteriology that these theses are vehemently repudiating. The Potter illustration becomes still more unpalatable once Paul, Jesus and John are taken at their word regarding election, namely that those who are chosen for Christ are appointed to gospel salvation by unmerited grace and that no one of their own resources is able to attain to it. Again, The Little Book’s tripartite soteriology resolves the matter entirely.
Even then, it will still be problematical for many that a God who the bible defines as love personified would create such hateful beings for any purpose. But there is a hint to the solution in the Romans 9 passage itself: “He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon the objects of mercy, which He is ready-preparing for glory (v24). But that’s only a part of the story. The writer to the Hebrews elucidates further when to the astonishment of many he writes: “For it was fitting for (Christ) for whom are all things, and through whom are all things in bringing many sons to glory to perfect the Originator of their salvation THROUGH SUFFERING” (Heb2:10). This pertains to the ultimate, long sustained mystery of divine providence and God’s extraordinary Plan for humanity (Rev10:7). More light is shed on this mystery in the final (seventh) chapter of The Little Book of Providence.
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