Most Christians recoil in horror at any teaching about the sovereignty of God. Without any attempt to explain the Scriptures that are explicit in their teaching (Romans 8:29-30; 9:11, 16, 19-20; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; etc.), they know that sovereign grace can’t be true because, you know, “free will.” This one-word retort (yes, I know that that’s technically two words, but it’s spoken as one term) is all the evidence they need.
In the mystery that encompases God’s sovereign choice of his elect on the one hand and the agency and responsibility of humanity on the other, it is always God’s dominion that is softened and mitigated, and it is always free will that is held as absolute.
This is the objection that is voiced in Romans 9:19 – “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? [human responsibility] For who can resist his will? [human free will]'” We must protect our ultimate, autonomous, unadulterated, precious free will. And to this protectionist complaint, Paul doesn’t answer the question, because he knows the wicked heart from which it proceeds. This is not an honest question of a mysterious truth; it is a rebellious heart cry of substituting God’s reign for our own. And Paul responds appropriately in verse 20 – “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”
When we “answer back to God,” we are following in the footsteps of our First Adam, who followed the lie of “Has God said…?” We are bowing at the golden calf of our autonomous free will as we reject the tablets of God’s revealed truth.
Oh may God rid us of this heinous rejection of his Word!