The truth of the Christian faith is plain and obvious. There is never a good objection against it, but it should be reverently accepted. And because the truth is plain and obvious, every objection against the Christian faith is always stupid and evil. Because every objection against the Christian faith is stupid and evil, we must attack every objection, and lest it is alleged that we avoid the issue, we should answer it as well. But more than this, it is characteristic of the Bible to attack the person who makes the objection. This is because whenever a person questions the Christian faith, it necessarily means that there is something wrong with the person.
Paul does not say, “O you wonderful and intelligent man, why do you make such an outrageous objection against God?” No, the apostle attacks the man himself “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?” This is a rhetorical question he means that the man is a nobody and should shut his mouth. Paul is not stupid like our preachers and theologians. They tell us that non-Christians can be sincere and intelligent and yet make objections against God. Where did this nonsense come from? Perhaps they learned it from the non-Christians, who are always desperate to assert their sincerity and intelligence. Or perhaps the preachers and theologians wish to compliment their own defiance against God. But Jesus said that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. The non-Christian makes objections because he is a sinner, a rebel he does not just act like one, but he is one. Any Christian who makes a meaningful contribution in preaching and debate must criticize and belittle the person the non-Christian himself and not just his arguments and his actions.
Who are you, O non-Christian, to challenge the truth of God, when the Bible declares that you already know about him? Like a coward, like a traumatized little child, you repress this knowledge so that you do not need to deal with reality. Who are you to reject a guilty verdict when the Bible shows that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God? You retort, “Who are you to judge me?” Well, who are you to tell me that I may not declare God’s judgment upon you? Who are you to decline the gospel? You are nobody. You are nothing.
Away with all of you! God exercises complete and immediate control over all things, including the decisions and destinies of all men. Just as he molds his chosen ones into his masterpieces, he molds the reprobates into receptacles of rubbish and feces. Unlike our preachers and theologians, Paul’s opponent at least understands the doctrine, that it is God who creates and hardens the sinner, but the sinner is still blamed and punished. God hardens whom he wants to harden (v. 18), so that they cannot believe and be saved. He does this by his active and direct power, as a potter molds the clay (v. 21). Such men are prepared for destruction (v. 22). They cannot resist his will, but he still blames and punishes them (v. 19). He can do this because he is God, and no one can utter a word against him (v. 20).