Does Calvary Prove Divine Determinism?

John Piper, and many other Calvinists, appeal to God’s work to ensure Calvary (i.e. Acts 2:23 & 4:27-28) as their proof of Divine Determinism (as addressed on THIS PODCAST).

But does citing examples of events God has worked to bring about prove God brings about all events in this manner? If so, there are some significant issues that should be addressed.

A QUESTION FOR MY CALVINISTIC FRIENDS

When we object to the concept of divine determinism (God’s sovereign work to bring about all things whatsoever that come to pass) and you appeal to the crucifixion as your proof that God brings about all moral evil, are you saying that God is sovereignly working so as to redeem the very sins He sovereignly worked to bring about? Is Calvary just about God cleaning up His own mess — redeeming His own determinations?

Appealing to God’s sovereign work to ensure the redemption of sin so as to prove that God sovereignly works to bring about all the sin that was redeemed is an absurd, self-defeating argument. It would be tantamount to arguing that because a police department set up a sting operation to catch a notorious drug dealer, that the police department is responsible for every single intention and action of all drug dealer at all times. Proof that the police department worked in secretive ways to hide their identities, use evil intentions, and work out the circumstances in such a way that the drug dealer would do what they wanted him to do (sell drugs) at that particular moment in time does not suggest that the police are in anyway responsible for all that drug dealer has done or ever will do. We celebrate and reward the actions of this police department because they are working to stop the drug activity, not because they are secretly causing all of it so as to stop some of it. Teaching that God brings about all sin based on how He brought about Calvary is like teaching that the police officer brings about every drug deal based on how he brought about one sting operation.

Yes, at times the scriptures do speak of God “hardening” men’s hearts (Ex. 7; Rm. 9), blinding them with a “spirit of stupor” (Rm. 11:8) and delaying their healing by use of parabolic language (Mk. 4:11-12, 34; Matt. 16:20), and He always does so for a redemptive good. But the reason such passages stand out so distinctly from the rest of scripture is because of their uniqueness. If God worked this way in every instance these texts would make no sense. After all, what is there for God to harden, provoke, or restrain if not the autonomous will of creatures?

If everything is under the meticulous control of God’s sovereign work what is left to permit and/or restrain except that which He is already controlling? Is God merely restraining something that He previously determined? Why blind eyes from seeing something the were “naturally” predetermined not to see? Why put a parabolic blind fold on a corpse-like dead sinner incapable of seeing spiritual truth? These are questions many Calvinists seem unwilling to entertain at any depth.

39 thoughts on “Does Calvary Prove Divine Determinism?

  1. Excellent post. This is a tough nut to crack: “After all, what is there for God to harden, provoke, or restrain if not the autonomous will of creatures?”

    Although I am a Christian determinist, I am also a compatibilist. I think your “uniqueness” argument is powerful, pointing to the fact that it is most meaningful, and most Biblical, to talk about the freedom of people and their own responsibility for the choices they make (and to which God holds them accountable, and repays accordingly).

    Within our very chaotic universe, there is meaningful emergent autonomy of behavior and other phenomena that God does not micromanage (he abides everything that happens meticulously, but does not direct everything meticulously). This is made possible because deterministic chaos — complex physical systems with tons of internal interference — erodes purpose information over time, whenever God chooses to “let things wander.”

    In the Arminian vs. Calvinist debate, it is most often Arminians that are careful to safeguard the meaning of “wandering” — such a powerful Scriptural motif, from Moses to the Prodigal Son — against the absurd, collapsing reduction that many determinists mistakenly practice.

  2. Good post!

    I have commented several times on these pages that the fact that God says the “I planned your ways in the womb” things to David and Jeremiah is actual evidence that these actions were special.

    Calvinist/ determinists says, “See, God plans every person’s step in the womb—or before time…He says it.”

    And I respond, “Notice that He says it to that person… never as a generic ‘I do this for everyone’ kind of statement.”

    It actually weakens their argument that God says it in time and space to that person…. because those passages make it distinct and clear that it was special and that He does not do it with everyone.

  3. Leighton,

    Agreed.

    Its like the fire department putting out a fire they created. It’s their responsibility to put out the fire that they, themselves, created. They should not be treated as Heroes.

    Calvinist Robert Morey in his book “Studies in the Atonement” writes…

    “He hated the reprobate and planned their sin and damnation.”

    If true, then we don’t know for certain if man is really depraved and sinful.

    What if God had created man and then simply backed off? Would Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit? We’ll never know now. But according to Calvinists like Morey, it was necessary that man sinned. God would not be robbed of burning the reprobate for all eternity.

    If God is so meticulously involved in everything that everyone does, then we are nothing more than stage actors. Everyone has been given their script and everyone executes their part perfectly. Where’s the rebellion? And yet millions, perhaps billions, of actors and actresses are eternally damned for doing so.

    1 John 4:19 (NKJV)….
    We love Him because He first loved us.

    If Calvinism is true, then the Lost can justly say…

    “We hate God, because He first hated us.”

    If God is truly in back of everything, even sin (Edwin Palmer) then the Bible is nothing short of a Public Relations disaster.

    1. Phillip:
      Over the years I have made these points to Calvinists and they say “So what!?” ….followed by some phrase in Latin.

      Of course if what they say is true then even our questioning of it…. and all of man’s cursing God is part of what he put in as the script. There is just no way around that idea. As Luther said, “therefore sin boldly!”

  4. When a theology frequently says, “God is speaking from man’s perspective in this verse” he directly gives the lay person the idea that he is unable to understand important truths in Scriptures using God’s own words… he must trust that theology’s word instead.

    If that isn’t seen to undermine Scripture’s revelation of the truthful righteousness of God… I don’t know what will!

  5. When one reads through the exculpatory arguments here at SOT101 presented by representatives of Calvinism, what one finds is they hold to a DOUBLE-THINK concept of determinism. Determinism AS-IF NOT-Determinism.

    For example, a Calvinist will say concerning evil event [X] , that Calvin’s god -quote “doesn’t restrain” event [X] from coming to pass.
    Trying to paint the picture that Calvin’s god’s role in [X] event is PASSIVE.
    What Calvin himself would call “Mere” permission – which he completely rejects.

    But as Eric points out in his article, when one understands that Calvinism is based upon *UNIVERSAL* divine causal determinism- where *UNIVERSAL* means “Everything without exception”. it logically follows that [X] could not have happened unless Calvin’s god 1) First conceived [X]
    2) Decreed [X]
    3) Rendered certain [X] would happen and no alternative of [X] could happen.

    The notion then that Calvin’s god -quote “doesn’t restrain” [X] reveals itself as kindergarten logic – which is totally absurd.
    Calvin’s god in this case would be arm wrestling with himself.

    Therefore if there ever were an instance in which Calvin’s god did restrain [X] – he would be restraining what he rendered certain.
    Which an adult thinker should be able to understand as an attempt to evade logical thinking.

    1. BR.D writes, “it logically follows that [X] could not have happened unless Calvin’s god 1) First conceived [X]
      2) Decreed [X]
      3) Rendered certain [X] would happen and no alternative of [X] could happen.”

      Examples: X equals…
      – the creation of man;
      – the temptation of Eve;
      – the sin of Adam;
      – the expulsion of Adam/Eve from the garden;
      – the birth of Abel and Cain;
      – the murder of Abel;
      …..

      What event is not conceived, decreed; and rendered certain by God.

  6. “Therefore if there ever were an instance in which Calvin’s god did restrain [X] – he would be restraining what he rendered certain.”

    This is simply astute.

    Can Calvin’s ‘logic’ be exposed so easily and debunked so simply and effectively?

    Yes, this post and the noted comment prove it.

    Calvin’s god is inconsistent with himself and Scripture.

  7. One of the big problems with meticulous determinism is that ultimately it results in a zero-sum gain (at best, if you don’t believe people have any significant value) for the display of God’s love through grace and wrath / justice. As the sole determiner of all things, His grace and wrath ultimately must be reflected back upon Himself, resulting in this zero sum. This is where Calvinists try to apply responsibility to people for their sins via secondary causes, despite the actions being completely outside their determination. This a=b, b=c, but a=/=c logic ultimately holds no real weight.

    Conversely, if God created creatures capable of 1st cause decisions, His demonstration of love through both grace and justice is always a positive sum, displaying His glory as He shows love to those outside His deterministic control. In this view God is not redeeming or enacting divine justice on decisions He’s made, but on the decisions made by others, which again, results in a positive sum display of God’s love.

  8. Pastor flowers,i want you to receive God’s greatest blessing,since leaving a militant angry life of homosexual living ,and being transformed by GRACE,and from the beginning of my walk with Jesus,His grace and love began to soften my angry heart.when i understood how calvinism is misunderstanding God’s plan, my anger was inflamed the more i understood ,the more angry i got. please know i believe you are right in your view, but just as important is your humility,before God and the world> God has used your humility in my life,to share the Gospel.please i weep when i share the Gospel,i see the whole counsel of God His wrath against sin His graceful offer,and His love through the holy spirit and your humility …. thank you …… steven

    1. Thank you Steven for your encouraging post! The theology that defends truth but leads also to gracious compassion for the lost and for weak believers… seems to me like the theology that best represents God!

  9. Daily Bible reading gets me to Ezra, and 1 Cor 5.

    I find it amazing that Calvinists use this as one of their 40 (read-only-this) verses.

    1 Cor 5:5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
    ——————————

    The idea of “God gives the increase” or “God is making it grow” is vague. But it is clear in the passage that the one who plants and the one who waters will be rewarded according to their labor.

    This is similar to the phrases “I persuade men” or “I am all things to all men to win some” that Paul makes.

    Calvinists deny that the person receiving salvation has anything to do with it. They are “too-dead” and must be regenerated, then they irresistibly are given (forced) faith. Any participation by man would rob glory from God, says the Calvinist.

    But how about the many times the Bible mentions man’s participation in the “feet of those who bring good news”? Does this participation also rob God of His glory? According to Calvinisms if a man (any man: the receiver of salvation or proclaimer of salvation) participates at all then God’s glory is diminished.

    What are we to do with all these verse?

  10. More from today’s reading. Proverbs

    20: 27 The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit,
    exposing every hidden motive.

    ———–
    Wait. What?

    Man can have motives of his own that God did not give him? And they are hidden? And the Lord shines light on them….. revealing them? To whom?

    This is another of the the thousands of verses that do not sound like God planned it all out ahead of time. How refreshing to see that the Lord works with us, gently or firmly pointing us in the right direction.

    The Scripture spends a lot of time telling us that He reveals, calls, appeals, reminds, rewards, chastises, commends, teaches, trains, corrects. These are all personal verbs, depicting a personal God who works with man who is created in His image.

  11. Today’s Bible reading in 1 Cor 5.

    Let me make the additions to the text that a Calvinist Bible would / should have.

    5:5 I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do [but we know it is God’s divine secret will]. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother [All part of God’s divine secret will]. 2 You are so proud of yourselves [but doing what God decreed you to to], but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame [But obviously God did not give you that faith and repentance].

    ——————–
    Yes, I know, nearly sacrilegious on my part, but is this not indeed what the bottom line of Calvinism teaches?

    Calvinist friends —–without using double speak and illogical, non-understandable phrases —- please tell me where I am not understanding.

  12. Daily reading today Nehemiah 3-5.

    4:9 But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves.

    —————–
    We see this kind of thing all over the Bible. Praying to God & a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. Praying to God & protecting ourselves. God provides the process of the lamb’s blood on the door in Egypt & and with brush in hand they apply the blood on the door. God provides the process of the Lamb’s blood on the cross & and we apply the blood in faith.

    God does not do it all. He provides guidance and the process. He expects from us faith and obedience.

    That is the message of the Bible.

  13. Daily reading Nehemiah 9-10.

    I dont see how anyone can be a consistent Calvinist and Determinist when reading Nehemiah.

    9:7 “You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him…
    —————
    Sure God chose Abraham (highlighting THAT choosing as being unusual….meaning: if all things were chosen by God, why say it?).

    But it says here and elsewhere that God “found his heart faithful to you.” It doesn’t (here or anywhere) say ” God made his heart….” or “God gave him faith.” That is absolutely brought to the text by Greek-philosophy influenced Augustine and Calvin.

    9:9 You saw the suffering of our ancestors in Egypt; you heard their cry at the Red Sea.
    ————–
    This is all so understandable. God answered the cry of the people. Why make Him be the being that caused all the misery, then caused the crying out, then “answered” the crying out that He caused?

    9:16 But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them.

    ———————-
    They made choices. They were the CHOSEN people who obeyed and followed. Then they chose to disobey. They made good and bad choices. None of them are attributed to God “giving them” the faith or no-faith to make them.

    Then there is a long series of ” Their children went in and took possession of the land. You subdued …”

    Then… “they captured” …. “you gave them” ….

    It goes back and forth between “them” doing it and “You (Lord)” doing it. Why? Because many of them died trying to take that land. It was not all God.

    We cannot just quote John 15 “apart from me you can do nothing…” and say, “man cannot do anything” or “man does not participate.” Of course man participates! God “gave” them the land. But they still lost many lives in the “being given” the land. Their participation (even to death) was part of it. It

    Young YRR Jose quotes John 15 as though it wipes out the thousands of verses in the Bible that talk about faith, striving, sweating, dying, caring, hoping, trusting. That is just bad hermeneutics.

    Professional athletes that say, “I want to give all the Glory to Christ” are saying “by God’s grace I have done this.” But they are not saying that they did not participate.

  14. have a new idea and I may post it on several threads. The new post from Leighton (the Founders one) is all about “sticking with Scripture,” so let’s do that.

    What is happening now is that our Calvinist friends keep responding to our posts with circular reasoning, (and some people bother to answer them) (I stopped long ago…. senseless), or young zealous ones drop by, and say “heresy” “scripture is clear” Calvinism is the pure doctrine” “we are right!” repeating talking points but no new information.

    They bring nothing new to the table —just the same 10 (for the youngsters) or 20 verses over and over with dogmatic — “we know we are right cuz we know it!”

    So…. Let’s just read our Bibles and post good, Christ-honoring posts that speak of His great love for all men, His willingness to be personal with men, and His willingness to work with both our faults and our faith. Let’s just fill these pages with that, disregarding any “A = not-A” responses that do not add to the conversation (we have heard all that many times!).

    Share with us your readings from Scripture!

  15. Daily reading Ecclesiastes 1-3.

    2: 26 God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him.

    ———–
    When a sinner becomes wealthy…. did God micromanage-determine that? Doesn’t sound like it.

    When God sees that wealth and takes it away… and “gives it to those who please him,” what does He mean? Who at the time in the OT are those who please God?

    Can a “too-dead” I-can-only-do-evil person please God?

    Oh… I see.. according to Calvinism, God irresistibly makes them please Him and then says, “They sure do please me, so now I will give them some wealth.”

    The reason I left Calvinism is that in my daily reading I had to “explain away” so many verses. If I just stuck to reading and meditating on the same 40 verses each day I was a happy Calvinist.

    Read the whole Bible and see the message God is giving us!

    1. FOH writes, “When a sinner becomes wealthy…. did God micromanage-determine that? Doesn’t sound like it.”

      The cited verse does not tell us how the wealthy became rich. Seems like you make up stuff as you go.

    2. FOH writes, “according to Calvinism, God irresistibly makes them please Him”

      Given that it is God who gives a person faith and that faith then works what is pleasing to God in the person, I guess it is true that even a broken clock shows the correct time twice a day.

  16. Daily reading today Prov 22:16

    A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness,
    but physical discipline will drive it far away
    ———-

    Okay, let’s say that this ​”​foolishness​”​ is the same as the Calvinist’s “too-dead” idea (or is it the same as their “gospel is foolishness” idea?).

    Anyway…the youngster has a problem. What is one way that can fix it? God miraculously intervening and irresistibly changing his ways? That would be one great way! The way that is mentioned here is physical discipline (implied) from human authorities.

    So what we do does make a difference in someone’s heart? In someone’s future?

    I mean provide the discipline and you help the future of his heart; don’t provide it…. and he goes bad?

    Wow! That means that God has ​​created ​His world ​in such a way that what we do makes a difference for the future!

  17. ​Daily re​ading brings me to 2 Cor 6​.​

    ​6:1 ​As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. 2 For God says,

    “At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

    Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

    3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed.
    ——–

    ​A. ​ Why does Paul say “God’s partners”? In what way (why) does Paul elevate himself to be God’s partner? Calvin’s God does not need a partner for ANYTHING, yet here is Paul saying—- in the very topic of salvation —- that he is God’s partner.

    ​B​. Here Paul say that ​people “accept” the gift. No implication of it being irresistibly foisted on us. Always an active verb for salvation (not a “too-dead” passive one).

    ​C​. Then he says to watch out or we can “ignore it”. So that means that we play some kind of part in the Christian life? It’s not all determined for us? We can somehow “ignore” this gift that was before-time forced on us? What can that mean to a Calvinist?

    ​D​. ​On ​the day of salvation…. the “Lord heard us.” I dont understand how a “too-dead” person can make noise that can be heard. I also don’t understand w​hy​ God continually make​s​ the salvation process sound so “man-centered.” He “heard us” ​does not fit for Calvinists. It should​,​ for Calvinists​,​ always —-ALWAYS be some sort of ” I regenerated you first” idea (but in fact never is).

    Calvinist version: I brought you to life, then irresistibly caused you to cry out to Me, then “I heard you.”

    ​E​. Then Paul goes on with the most Paul-centered list of items beginning with “no one will stumble because of us.”

    Sure, everything we do is “by the grace of God,” but Paul sure does give us an example here that a person needs to participate.

    “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God” is not focused on grace but on what Paul does with that grace.

  18. JESUS ASKS TWO CALVINISTS A QUESTION – DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS DISCOVERED BY SIMPLE MATH

    And Jesus turned to them and said ” I will ask you a question”

    If there are 100 loaves of bread in a basket to eat – and someone external to you eats *ALL* of the loaves of bread in your basket – how many loaves of bread are left for you to eat?

    And they reasoned among themselves saying:

    If we say SOME – he will say – You can’t even do simple math – how then do you question me.

    If we say NONE – then he will say:

    “Using simple math, you have well said. But you claim that Calvin’s god at the foundation of the world determined (predestined) *ALL* of the neurological impulses you will ever have in your basket of life. So, by your own simple math – how is it not double-think for you to them claim there are SOME neurological impulses Calvin’s god has left in your basket of life for you to determine?”

  19. IN-DETERMINISM – THE CALVINIST’S IMAGINARY FRIEND

    Jane was backing out of her driveway with her young child Jennifer safely strapped in the back, when Jennifer yelled “STOP MOMMY!” Brakes screeching – Jane looked but didn’t see anything. What is it Jennifer? You almost ran over Johnny! Johnny was Jennifer’s imaginary friend.

    Psychologists tell us that imaginary friends fill a void in the child’s physiological life. The child has a need for the imaginary friend to be real. Otherwise, the child experiences cognitive dissonance – a form of mental anguish.

    Calvinists also have imaginary friends.

    The belief system and its foundation – the template and cornerstone upon which the house of Calvinism is built – is the belief system of “Universal Divine Causal Determinism”. A form of pre-determinism which stipulates that all events universally (i.e. without exception) are fated/predestined to occur inevitably and unavoidable by a THEOS who first-conceives and is therefore the source/origin of their existence – at the foundation of the world.

    In Theological Determinism all events occur by supernatural factors – which are far outside of the Calvinist’s control.

    The Calvinist is conditioned mentally and emotionally to perceive this belief as consistent with Biblical ethics exemplified by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ – in the context of “good” or “salvific” events. The THEOS in this case is benevolent. Benevolence is easy to see as Biblically ethical.

    The cognitive conflict comes into play in the context of “sinful” “evil” events. Here the Calvinist has to find a way to evade the logical implications of Universal Divine Causal Determinism – while at the same time convincing himself that he is logically consistent with his embrace of it
    .
    John Calvin clearly understood this ethical dilemma – and instructed his disciples to -quote “Go about your office AS-THOUGHT nothing were determined in any part [by the THEOS].” In other words, to avoid cognitive dissonance with Biblical ethics, the disciple is to make-believe that SOME events are determined by himself and not the THEOS.

    This became a very effect psychological solution for the Calvinist! It puts him in the driver’s seat. It gives him (and not the THEOS) the sovereign control over determining which events he is to attribute to THEOS and which events not to. It also allows for a heavy dose of double-speak. The THEOS can magically determines ALL things – AS-IF he doesn’t – it being the case that SOME things already determined can be left OPEN for creature to determine.

    IN-deterministic events thus function as imaginary friends for the Calvinist. The THEOS did not CAUSE these events – he Permitted these events – but NOT in such a way as to “Merely” Permit these events – but in such a way as to Permit these events.

    The THEOS’ role in the event is that he KNOWS about the event and chose “not to prevent” the event, AS-IF the event were not “Rendered Certain” at the foundation of the world to occur by supernatural factors far outside of the creatures control.

    This is why we observe Calvinist language so highly equivocal in the context of “sinful”, “evil” events. Calvinist Language strategically crafts statements to be logically in-consistent with Determinism and logically consistent with IN-determinism. This is why we call it “shape-shifting” language.

    Constructing statements with shape-shifting terms allows the Calvinist to live-in and compartmentalize two opposing worlds which (per the law of non-contradiction) are logically impossible. One world in which the proposition “The THEOS determines ALL things In EVERY part” is TRUE. And another world in which this proposition can be treated AS-IF it is FALSE.

    Thus IN-determinism functions as the Calvinists imaginary friend.

    Just like Jennifer’s imaginary friend in our story above – the Calvinist’s illusion of IN-deterministic thoughts, choices and actions is VERY REAL. This imaginary friend allows him to speak about events AS-IF they occurred by factors very much in his control.

  20. Daily reading brings me to Ecclesiastes 10-12.

    10: 2 A wise person chooses the right road;
    a fool takes the wrong one.

    …. So be wise!

    10: 4 If your boss is angry at you, don’t quit!
    A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes.

    ….So have a quiet spirit!

    The choice is yours! Anyone can listen to these words. The Bible is instructional to all who read and listen.

    How funny to think that Calvinism teaches that a normal person can never choose to do the right thing…at any time. He is “too dead” to make any good decisions. Only evil.

    10: 17 Happy is the land whose king is a noble leader
    and whose leaders feast at the proper time
    to gain strength for their work, not to get drunk.

    Yes! Countries can have noble kings and good leaders. Is this talking only to “the church” (didn’t exist yet) or Israel? Nah to everyone.

    This just goes on and on….. How ’bout this one….

    10:18 Laziness leads to a sagging roof;
    idleness leads to a leaky house.

    So, don’t be lazy! The choice is yours!

  21. A bit more from daily reading in Ecclesiastes.

    12:13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

    The writer says… “Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.” He must mean this is “all kinds” of people’s duty?

    Everyone’s duty is to fear and obey God. The Bible just does not sound like people are “too dead” to fear God. b

    1. FOH writes, “Everyone’s duty is to fear and obey God. The Bible just does not sound like people are “too dead” to fear God. ”

      So, a rational person would choose to fear and obey God. A person would have to be irrational to choose not to fear and obey God. Paul, in Ephesians 2, describes the irrational man in this manner, “…you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath,…” Paul refers to, “the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience,” and it is these people who do not fear and obey God. Are they “too dead” to fear God? That seems to be what Paul is telling us. What does Paul then say, “…even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” If God did not make us alive, we would still be under “the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”

  22. NT reading today in 2 Cor 8:1-15.

    3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.
    ——–

    So much of the Bible talks about the choices people make. It’s almost as if our choices matter. It’s almost as if we do things “of our own free will.”

    Funny, why would God put that idea in His holy, eternal Word if none of our choices matter?

    Calvinist: “Of course our choices matter!”

    “Oh really, we can choose to give (see above) or not to give?

    Calvinist: “Yes of course, our daily lives are full of choices.”

    “And do our choices make a difference?”

    Calvinist: “Well, uh, yes, I feel like my choices each day make a difference.”

    “Do you always make good choices?”

    Calvinist: “Well, no, just yesterday I spoke very harshly and rudely to one of my kids. I regretted it later and apologized.”

    “Did God want you to speak harshly to your kid?”

    Calvinist: “Well… if I says that He did not want me to…. or that God did not get what He wanted (me to be kind) then, well, I guess that would deny my Calvinist definition of ‘sovereignty’. So, I guess, yes, God did want me to be harsh to my kid. Because we Calvinists teach that all that happens is what God wants, even our sin.”

    “Hummm… I’m pretty sure I have a different definition of sovereignty then you do. When I sin, I do not feel like I have done what God wanted me to do. Wow, so you dont really go about your day thinking about doing things that please the Lord?”

    Calvinist: “Well, yes I do, but when I do sinful things, I know that all that was His will also.”

    “Well, I dont get that impression reading the Bible, but it sounds like it sure could come in handy for you!”

    1. FOH writes, “So much of the Bible talks about the choices people make. It’s almost as if our choices matter. It’s almost as if we do things “of our own free will.”

      In the context of the Scripture reading and FOH’s comments, those in view are believers. God has saved them and they are no longer enslaved to sin. Thus, they are able to make choices (otherwise, their only choice is to sin). That God knows the things that believers will choose to do is not an issue because God does not force a person to do anything. God is always able to open doors and close doors in any person’s life, and we know that God is working in the believer’s life for, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Is anyone ungrateful that God is watching us and taking care of us – even to the point of executing decrees he made long ago?

  23. Daily reading 2 Cor 8 still.

    8:5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.
    ———-
    Paul is surprised here or at least says they did “more than we had hoped.” (Not expecting such a good response).

    They gave themselves to the Lord? Another “man-centered” idea in God’s word again.

    They did what “God wanted them to do.” So Paul is of course saying that we can do things God does not want us to do. I mean, otherwise, why even say such a thing— if everything that happens is what God wants?

    They chose to do what God wanted…. but could have chosen not to?

    Calvinist: “Of course they had a choice!”

    “Oh really, we can choose to “give ourselves to the Lord” (see above) or not to?

    Calvinist: “Yes of course, our daily lives are full of choices.”

    “And do our choices make a difference?”

    Calvinist: “Well, uh, yes, I feel like my choices each day make a difference.”

    “In what way do your choices make a difference?”

    Calvinist: “Well if, for example I choose to help my kids with their homework, they do better in school and likely do better in life! Or if I choose not to look at pornographic material I improve the relationship with my wife and my family. Those are real choices that make a difference.”

    “I agree with you! Those choices do make a difference and you are free to choose to help with homework or not! So, does that mean that you are shaping the future of you child?”

    Calvinist: “Well yes… we all try to influence our children toward wise decisions.”

    “So, in reality, your child could go one way, or another, or another, right?

    Calvinist: “Well, yes, that’s righ….. but …. well, no, because we teach that God has set the future, not by knowing it, but just by divinely setting it.”

    “So your child’s future is set no matter if you help them or not?”

    Calvinist: “Well I am an ‘instrument of secondary cause’ to influence him in the direction that God has already decided.”

    “So helping him with homework will change nothing?”

    Calvinist: “We are commanded to love our children, so I help him.”

    “But is helping one hour better than 15 mins? Is two hours even better? What about spending time with him in other ways? Is more time better? I mean is taking him fishing better than giving him fishing gear and telling him to go alone?”

    Calvinist: “Yes, we all live by the idea that the more quality time spent with kids, the better it is for them.”

    “But how is it ‘better’? I mean, if the outcome has already been decided, there is no real better or worse, right? I mean one hour helping with homework is ‘loving your child’ so why spend 2 hours? You spend two hours —not because you are ‘commanded to love’ but because you know deep down that you are shaping your child’s future. In fact, if at any time on any day, you allow yourself to think ‘I will do this, because that will bring a better result,’ then you are shaping the future.”

    Calvinist: “We do not teach that we can impact the future since it is all set.”

    “Okay, I see how that works for you…. You can do whatever you want and say that ‘God wanted me to do this.’ That must include sin since you teach that all that happens is what God wants to happen.”

    Calvinist: “Yes in God’s secret will, He has already determined all that we do, sin included.”

    “So now I am wondering why Paul writes such strange words in 2 Corinthians 8:4 ‘And they did it of their own free will.'”

  24. I have been posting some daily readings on other threads.

    Last night for our devotions, my wife and I read Ps 118. I know that monergism is all the rage with Calvinists and synergism is a dirty word, as is “man-centered,” but look at what King David says …

    118: 7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.
    8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans.
    9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.
    10 All the nations surrounded me,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
    11 They surrounded me on every side,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
    12 They swarmed around me like bees,
    but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
    13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
    14 The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
    ————

    7. “The Lord is my helper.” What? That’s pretty synergistic sounding!

    10, 11, 12, “I cut them down…” Of course David says the Lord helped him, but he still had to act, fight, see his men killed. Men died winning battles that Calvinists will say “was all of the Lord.” The whole taking of the promise land was synergistic! They had to fight. Even in the case of Jericho where they did not fight and “God did it all” they still had to march around the city for 7 days. No marching, no victory.

    God created a world where man participates. Man even helps decide the outcome. You can call me heretic, and man-centered, and say I “don’t believe God is sovereign” all you want, but I’m just reading the message of the Bible. Besides, we all live this way. We live like our decisions matter.

    13 “…about to fall, but the Lord helped me.” Wow… sounds like this is about David and how the Lord helped him. Not David helped the Lord, or the Lord did it all and David just watched. Nope. The Lord helps David.

    How does that make any sense if monergism is the filter for all Scripture?

    1. FOH writes, “7. “The Lord is my helper.” What? That’s pretty synergistic sounding!…How does that make any sense if monergism is the filter for all Scripture?”

      FOH knows the Calvinist mantra, “Salvation is monergistic; sanctification is synergistic.” The above verses speak to sanctification as David is regarded as a believer – thus, it is a mystery why FOH made this comment. Very puzzling!!

      1. Hilarious! If you go to monergism.com you will see many people dancing on the head of a pin to try to avoid the word synergism even in sanctification … and then finally, redirecting you to TGC and the DeYoung article, they admit ….

        “So what do we see in this short survey of Reformed theologians. For starters, we do not see the exact language of monergism or synergism applied to sanctification.”

        [Great, let’s make up some new ideas that we will make fit to our position: “Synergism is bad/awful… unless we say it is not.”]

        “Second, we see that, given the right qualifications, either term could be used with merit. “Monergism” can work because sanctification is God’s gift, his supernatural work in us. “Synergism” can also work because because we cooperate with God in sanctification and actively make an effort to grow in godliness.”

        [Fantastic. I guess “synergism” is not a dirty word after all! Same sentence with some word change “’Monergism’ can work because salvation is God’s gift, his supernatural work in us. ‘Synergism’ can also work because because we respond to God in faith.”]

        “Third, we see in this Reformed survey the need to be careful with our words. For example, “passive” can describe our role in sanctification, but only if we also say there is a sense in which we are active. Likewise, we can use the language of cooperation as long as we understand that sanctification does not depend ultimately on us.”

        [What did he just say here? Nothing! By saying “as long as we understand that sanctification does not depend ultimately on us” he is simply saying it is “monergistic” — and around and around we go. “…uh… it is, but it isn’t…” Let me just borrow that sentence above, “Likewise, we can use the language of cooperation as long as we understand that salvation does not depend ultimately on us.”

        “And if all this is confusing, you can simply say: we work out our sanctification as God works in us (Phil. 2:12-12). Those are the two truths we must protect: the gift of God in sanctification and the activity of man.”

        [What? I honestly cannot believe my eyes. The verse clearly says, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” and he misquotes it to say sanctification??

        How about this closing statement very similar to his: “Those are the two truths we must protect: the gift of God in salvation and the activity of man in faith.”

        Wow…. now that is “doing theology” alright. They just make up any rules they want for sanctification (based on “cooperation words” from Scripture) but when the Scripture uses the VERY same cooperation words… noooo we get to say “it doesn’t really mean that, cuz we know better!”

      2. FOH quotes someone, “So what do we see in this short survey of Reformed theologians. For starters, we do not see the exact language of monergism or synergism applied to sanctification.”

        These guys need to read more of RC Sproul. from the Ligonier website:

        “Ligonier Ministries adheres to the ancient statements of faith (the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Creed of Chalcedon) and affirms the historic Christian faith as expressed in the five solas of the Reformation and the consensus of the historic Reformed confessions (Westminster Standards, Three Forms of Unity, and 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith).

        The Holy Spirit

        The Holy Spirit is of one substance with the Father and the Son. He eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son, and He dwells in the hearts of believers, effecting their regeneration monergistically and operating in their sanctification synergistically.”

  25. What does it mean that David was “a man after God’s own heart”?

    Acts 13: 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
    ———–

    First of all we are reminded that the people asked for a king and God said “not a good idea” but then relented. (That’s not very monergistic sounding!).

    God hand-picked Saul and then because of Saul’s actions (yes, I know that is “man-centered” to say) He “repented that He picked Saul” and unpicked him. God changed His mind and His plan. (He tells Saul “I would have made you… if you had not…”)

    God tells us that he “found” David who is a man after His own heart.

    Now, if you go on line and look for what this means, you will see that most sites (including Sproul’s Calvinist site) will say that this is because David X, and David Y, and David Z. All of it is about David. All of it (even with Sproul, what a disappointment!!) is “man-centered-ly” placed on David and what he could do and did.

    I mean it’s just so human. Why do they then theologize and turn around and say NOTHING is about humans? I just dont get it. Did God micro-manage-ly decide everything, or did He create in such a way that man synergistically participates? Which one is the message of the Bible?

    It does not help the discussion to superimpose the idea (not stated in Scripture) that God regenerated David, gave him faith, led his every action and decision. Then that makes God responsible for all of David’s sin too.

  26. Daily Bible brings me to 2 Cor 12.

    20 For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior. 21 Yes, I am afraid that when I come again, God will humble me in your presence. And I will be grieved because many of you have not given up your old sins. You have not repented of your impurity, sexual immorality, and eagerness for lustful pleasure.

    ————-
    Remember that these believers are “dead to sin” they are “buried with Christ” “crucified with Christ”.

    Somehow Calvinists teach that we are dead to sin but can do all of the sins above and more…. but being dead in sin, we can do nothing BUT sin. What happened to “dead men dont make choices”?

    Apparently they do!

    1. FOH writes, “Calvinists teach that we are dead to sin but can do all of the sins above and more…. ”

      By “dead to sin,” FOH means that the person is a believer. Everyone, even FOH, recognizes that even believers sin.

      Then, “but being dead in sin, we can do nothing BUT sin. What happened to “dead men dont make choices”? Apparently they do!”

      No one, not even a Calvinist, says that “dead men don’t make choices.” Everyone agrees that people have free will (disagreeing on what that is) and make choices – the issue is whether a person who is dead in sin can decide to follow Christ without God giving them the gift of faith.

  27. God can never be ignorant nor helpless of all things that happens in the universe. He is the supreme being that have ever existed without beginnings. Nothing escapes from His absolute and immutable attributes that are His very nature. It did not just commence at the start of Creation nor a mere response to those events that will happen in the future that are caused by man’s disobedience. His plans can no longer be modified not be revised by the use of man’s so called “free will”.

    We cannot teach God to base His decisions on the laws of Logic. He decides according to His own pleasure. If he permits man to use his freedom without medling from it, then man becomes accountable. It is just like a “one way road traffic”. man can still enter in by the use of his freedom but it does not mean that God tells him to do that.

    So, Christ did not went to the cross of Calvary just to clean up God’s own mess. He loves the sheep even if they rejected Him as the Messiah and the elect Gentiles scattered in the world. He needs to offer His life for them, not to the reprobates. I see no Problem with divine determinism here. The end result still accomplishes God’s decrees.

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