Arkiv

Does God predestine people to be non-elect, or do people corrupt themselves?

calvinism 19Is God making people wicked, or are they wicked against his will?

This is a hard question to answer for someone who believes that God forces no one to sin while at the same nothing comes to pass against his will.

Calvinists often speak from the both side of the mouth when they on the one hand claim that God predestines people to become elect or non-elect from the foundation of the world, and on the other hand claim that God forces no one to be wicked. Sometimes they try to blame Adam for people’s ”sinful nature”, but this does not solve the problem since he arrived on the scene after the ”foundation of the world” (and the Bible does not claim we have inherited his sin anyway).

So which one is it? Are people wicked against his will or according to his will? (Any of his wills …) Does God force people to be sinners or not?

Calvinists might suggest that God merely ”passes over” people and leaves them to their own devices, which means that such people will do what their nature urges them to do – which is performing all sorts of evil (like being wicked by default). Although, what choice do they really have? If only one single choice is available to them, and if God determines  to turn them into non-elect (for no apparent reason), must they therefore not become exactly as God has determined? Surely they could not have become elect if God wanted them to be non-elect? Would it not be surprising if someone who God did NOT want to become elect – but rather non-elect – still ended up as elect? That could not possibly happen, right? Again, I can see no other option but one (1) for the victims that were forced to become non-elect. Is not ”forcing” the proper word here?

The Bible tells us that people are separated from him due to their transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). This means that it is when people choose to SIN as they are  spiritually ”dead” and therefore also lost (until they repent, if they ever do). Calvinists often make a similar claim, but do they really mean it?

The whole Calvinistic process:

  1. People go to hell due to their sin. (So long it is fine, but it gets worse …)
  2. Why do they sin? Because they are bound by a sinful nature.
  3. Why are they bound by a sinful nature? Because they are wicked non-elect sinners.
  4. Why are they wicked non-elect? Because God created them as such from the foundation of the world – before they even existed, before they were born and long  before they could sin.
  5. This means that people are not dead due to their sins after all, but due to their bad luck of having been chosen by God to be wicked – with no way to escape from this misfortune.

Again, this Calvinistic process means that sin is NOT the reason for their damnation, but GOD’S CHOICE is. So why do Calvinists so often say that people are lost due to their sin if they do not really mean it? (Sinning would just be a consequence of God’s refusal to let people seek him and do good – from the foundation of the world.) Add to this the Calvinistic idea that 1) God is sovereign in such a way that he micro-manages everything, and 2) nothing comes to pass against his will. This means that if we criticize anything or anyone, we are criticizing God himself who caused it all to happen.

Not all Calvinists would agree that this is a proper understanding of their belief system (but many do agree). Still, they cannot escape from the many contradictions resulting from trying to save Calvinism.

Sinners commit sin against their nature

The Bible teaches that sinners do wicked acts against their nature, and not according to their nature:

Rom. 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is AGAINST NATURE

Once I heard in a podcast where a Calvinist asserted that a person bound by his wicked nature would not choose the right thing (like seeking God). He was then asked by the host ”Could he?”. The Calvinist replied ”He wouldn’t!”. He was asked ”Could he?”. The Calvinist replied ”He wouldn’t!” He was again asked: ”Could he, though?”, and the Calvinist continued to say ”He wouldn’t!”. It is easy to understand why the Calvinist was reluctant to answer the question (which was ”could he?” and not ”would he?”). If a non-elect person not only would not choose the right thing but neither is capable of it (by no fault of his own), the guilt must be placed on someone else but him. Namely on the one who caused this awful dilemma – namely God.

Fortunately this is not the God of the Bible. If people are wicked, it is their own blame and not God’s. God pleaded with his people Israel to do right, just like he pleads with all of us.

Ex. 18:30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

People corrupt themselves

God is not the one corrupting people by determining/orchestrating/choosing/forcing/ordaining/predestining people to become wicked sinners before they are even born. The Bible says that man himself is to be blamed for being corrupt and not God. In order for someone to corrupt himself, he must first exist (and have a heart and a brain) in order to make choices. Man does not corrupt himself until he chooses to make sinful actions. Not a single day before.

Gen. 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Deut. 9:12 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.

Deut. 32:5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.

Judge 2:19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

Hosea 9:9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.

2 Pet. 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

2 Pet. 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Jude 1:10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

Calvinists and their focus on a sovereign God who must submit to Calvinism

calvinism 38God is sovereign, but what does it mean?

Calvinists have a huge focus on God’s sovereignty, which would not be a bad thing had they not interpreted this unbiblical word in a very unfortunate way.

The Calvinist R.C. Sproul for instance wrote:

”If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled. ”R.C. Sproul.

Also freewillers believe that God IS sovereign but certainly not with the Calvinistic interpretation. God is so sovereign and powerful that he is able to create us in any way he likes, including creating us with free will where we are responsible for our own actions (rather than blaming our shortcomings on God). Or is this too difficult for him? Must he ask someone for permission before he can create us with free will?

While freewillers also believe that God is sovereign, their main focus is rather on God’s holy character and the fact that he does not tempt anyone, much less causes anyone to sin. This means, that if someone suggests that God directly or indirectly makes people sin (or endorses sin in any shape or form), it is clearly a huge misunderstanding and an attack on God’s character. Many would call it blasphemy. The fact that sin does exist is evidence of that God’s will does not always happen, which is quite clear in the pages of the Bible. God is in control of his creation even though he does not act through micro managing human beings.

”Sovereignty” and ”sovereign” are words not found in either the KJV nor the NKJV Bible (except for ”sovereignty” mentioned once in the NKJV but not in relation to God).  ”Sovereignty” is however found in the NIV in a couple of cases where it does not refer to God (Dan 5:18, Dan 7:27) and ”sovereign” is used multiple times referring both to God and others.

It is therefore not incorrect to say that ”sovereignty” and ”sovereign” are not Biblical words, if you exclude modern translations which many Christians are reluctant to use. When Calvinists are told about the lack of these words in the Bible, they usually bring up the trinity and say something like ”The trinity is not mentioned in the Bible either! Does this mean that it’s false?!”. They neglect to notice that the freewiller does not claim that absence of these words in the Bible automatically means that God is therefore not sovereign. What the freewiller does say is that the word must mean defined before we can conclude if it is a correct description of our holy God or not.

What if I asked a Calvinist if he believes that God is sympathetic. Yes, or no? Is he? The Calvinist might say that yes, ”sympathetic” could very well be one of many definitions applicable to God. What if I then said ”See?! Therefore God would never send anyone to hell! That would not be sympathetic at all but truly unkind!”. Then the Calvinist might rightly protest and say that this interpretation does not automatically follow. Of course God could still be sympathetic even though he rightly judges people’s hearts and sends some to hell due to their evil actions and refusal to submit under him. So the Calvinist might admit that God is sympathetic but he certainly does not admit to God being the sort of sympathetic that I propose. What right do I have to define the word ”sympathetic” in such a way? Therein lies the problem.

Non-biblical words must be defined or else you would not know whether you agree with them or not. Who has the authority to define unbiblical words, add them to the Bible with a strict definition tied to them? It is not always a watertight solution to let theologians define such words (even though they are usually right on target). If we truly want to learn and understand God’s true character, it is a lot safer to pay attention to the descriptions and examples which are used in the Bible. Or else anyone can select various unbiblical words, insist on a preferred meaning and add them to the Bible.

Atheists might suggest that if God is all-powerful and sovereign, he should be able to do absolutely everything, including performing logically contradictory ideas such as creating a square circle or even ceasing to be God. This is what one of my daughter’s  science teachers taught his high school science class, with the summary and conclusion that this is proof for God’s insufficiency and therefore non-existence. (For some reason  schools are supposed to be neutral when it comes to religion, but atheism can freely be taught with no consequences?). Although, the God of the Bible never promised to be this sort of omnipotent being who likes to perform ridiculous things – and by the way ”omnipotent” is mentioned once in the KJV Bible (Rev. 19:6) in relation to his reign.

The point is of course that both Calvinist and atheists make the mistake to insist on a certain definition of words which may not even be included in the Bible. They might erroneously assume that everyone sides with their understanding of these words.

Read more about 15 Bible verses Calvinists misinterpret in relation to God’s SOVEREIGN WILL

Biblical examples of bad / unregenerate / spiritually dead people who seek God and do good

acts 17 27We are created to seek and find God

Our reformed friends often claim that we cannot seek God, repent or do good unless God monergistically ”regenerates” us, which is a term that they unfortunately interpret as God making us see and enabling us (actually forcing us) to seek him and come to him. The Bible, however, explains that we are all created to seek and find God, and that he is not far away from any of us:

Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but NOW COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERY WHERE TO REPENT.  

Every single man (all people) has been given the light, and if we receive him and believe in him, God will give us the power to become the sons of God. It does not say the other way around; that God gives light to some people and gives them power so that they can believe in him.

John 1:9 That was the true Light, WHICH LIGHTETH EVERY MAN THAT COMETH INTO THE WORLD.10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name

Each time an atheist decides to not sin, it is surely a good thing. There are loads of atheists every day who do many good deeds by being helpful to complete strangers without expecting anything in return. This does not mean they are saved, but it shows that we can all do good. Seeking God and repent are good things which bad people are requested to do, and they are created by God to do so. If a person does not repent, the blame must be on him and not on God.

1. The prodigal son

The prodigal son came to his senses while living in deep sin away from his Father. He made a good decision to repent for his sins and return to his Father. He went from being alive, to being dead (due to sin), to being alive again:

Luke 15: 24 For this my son WAS DEAD, and is ALIVE AGAIN; he WAS LOST, and IS FOUND. And they began to be merry.—30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.—32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was DEAD, and is ALIVE AGAIN AGAIN; and was LOST, and is FOUND. 

The prodigal son was clearly dead while living with prostitutes (Luke 15:30). The below verse is a good description of his status and (unless he repented), his future would be corruption – which means spiritual death since it is contrasted with everlasting life:

Gal. 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

2. Rahab, the harlot

Rahab rescued the Joshua’s men, which was a good thing to do. It is quite possible that she decided to rescue these strangers because she was aware of their God who was the God of both heaven and earth – which would include herself. She wanted them to swear by this Lord to return her kindness and letting her and her family stay alive. James says that she was justified by works (she combined faith and good deeds):

Josh. 2:9 And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token:13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.

Josh. 6:17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

Ja 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

3. Barbarian islanders of Malta

Barbarian inhabitants of Malta showed much kindness to Paul and his companions, and showed this compassion for them due to troublesome rain and cold. These islanders were not ”regenerated” because afterwards they thought that Paul was guilty of murder in his past and that he was justly bitten by a viper as a punishment for his past deeds (Acts 28:4).

Acts 28:1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

4. Evil fathers

Also evil people can do good to the children (which surely is a good thing), and even give good gifts to them. It is definitely possible to find multiple atheists who are being nothing but kind to their children, and even towards relatives, friends as well as complete strangers. There are even non-believing soldiers at war who have even given their lives for other fighting men.

Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

5. Everyone

Peter asks everyone to repent (that would be both good and bad). If they do so, they shall receive the gift of the holy Ghost. It is not the other way around; that God gives the holy Ghost to certain people and in that way they enabling them (and forcing them) to repent.

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

6. Cornelius was not certainly not a bad person, but before he (and his family and friends) received the holy Spirit he had faith and did good

Cornelius with all his house feared God, and he gave much alms to people and constantly prayed to God. His urgent prayers, fasting and alms-giving were noticed by God who sent an angel to him in a vision. Prior to Peter’s visit to his house Cornelius had collected family members and friends who were all waiting for Peter’s arrival. Peter came and explained that he believed that Cornelius (and maybe his company too since Peter addressed them all) already knew the word of God – the gospel about Jesus Christ. ”— Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)37 That word, I say, ye know”. This means that they had faith, and consequently had good deeds to go with their faith (faith without works is dead) before any of them had received the holy Ghost. 

Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.—

22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.—24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.— 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

8. Saul/Paul

Unlike Cornelius Paul was not a humble person but rather a dangerous pharisee. He saw Jesus in a vision on the way to Damascus, and fortunately he was not disobedient to the call that the vision involved. He obeyed the Lord Jesus and visited Ananias who was a child of God. Not until three days after the vision was Paul filled with the holy Ghost, with Ananias as a tool.

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision

Other examplessin

I can also mention Lydia, who was already a God-fearing and worshipping woman when God opened he heart to attend the things spoken by Paul. (It does not say that God selected Lydia and opened her heart to believe.) She obviously already had the right mind and heart to hear and understand the deeper things of God presented by Paul. It is always a good choice to not be ”a natural man”. 

Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 

Acts 16:14 and a certain woman, by name Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, worshipping God, was hearing, whose heart the Lord did open to attend to the things spoken by Paul (YLT)

People can also do bad things even though they are fully capable, and expected, to do good.

God expected Cain to rule over sin and naturally understood that he was created with this capacity. Still, Cain slew his brother against God’s will. Cain was already a sinner before this time, since he did not react well do God’s rejection of his offering (which makes one wonder about the condition the fruit since God rejected it).

Gen. 4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fellAnd the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Do read my article about regeneration not preceding faith here.

Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter Matt. 24:20

Matt. 24Prayers make a difference

The first time we can read about people praying to God in the Bible (rather than having a conversation with him in person) is in Gen 4:26:

Gen. 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.

Reformed Christians might pray just as much as other Christians, but the question is why they make this effort considering that they also believe that we are not able to thwart God’s predestined plans no matter what we do (as per Calvinism). They might reply that they pray because God tells them to do so, but what would be the difference if they did not? If all things pan out exactly as God wants, surely we can afford to be extremely relaxed when it comes to praying?

See the verses below. If we are able to cause the preferred season thanks to our prayers, then maybe we are able to influence people to have an open heart for the gospel as well? (Meaning; people are not predestined to be saved or damned from the foundation of the world.) Apparently God has not yet decided which season of the year the flight in question will take place, because Jesus asks us to pray about it. This is evidence that all things are not written in stone, and that we can affect things with our prayers. If we have an active prayer life, we will be stronger spiritually and will be better equipped to escape (and/or endure) hardship which will come to pass in the future:

Matt. 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:—20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day

Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

We can pray that we will not enter into temptation, and we will become stronger spiritually if we pray. This is something that we are supposed to do, rather than placing the responsibility on God. Combining prayers with fasting is a good advice, which can also be done alone. However, Paul tells married couples to be united again so that Satan will not be able to tempt them. Again, this is something we are expected to do in order to affect our mind-set and the future.

Matt. 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

1 Cor. 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

We can pray that God will send workers for the great harvest, which means that we can influence both people and God with our prayers:

 Matt. 9:37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Speaking in tongues is something we should be eager to do (and do not let anyone tell you something else), but it is even better to be able to interpret the tongues. Speaking in tongues is one spiritual gift, and interpreting tongues is another separate one. The best combination is to have both gifts, because then we are able to edify even more people than just ourselves. We can pray about it!:

1 Cor. 14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

When we pray, it helps if we believe that God can hear our prayers and that we are able to achieve what we pray and strive for (even if other elements are also involved). Our own faith can affect the outcome, and God will hear the prayer of the righteous. If we live in unrepentant sin, however, it is not certain that God will hear our prayers:

Mark. 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

1 Tim. 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Mark. 5:33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

Prov. 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Prov. 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination .

Dan. 9:4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

praying 4When Jesus became man in flesh, he prayed/communicated with his Father God just like we pray to God. Also Jesus can affect things thanks to prayer/communication, which of course is obvious since the whole world was created thanks to the divine words ”Let there be light”:

Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles

Jesus shows through a parable, that we can definitely affect God with our prayers. Even someone who does not fear God might very well adhere to constant pleadings. This does not mean that God will not listen to us the first time but requires constant pleadings before he does, but the point is that even a bad person might eventually give in for constant crying and pleadings, so would not our Father in heaven even more pay attention to his children’s urgent prayers?:

Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Jesus taught us how to pray, and he gave us an example. We can pray for the outcome of things, we can give thanks for what we already have (regular food), etc. We can also pray that his will shall be done, which indicates that it is not certain that the best option for all mankind or individuals will always take place. Praying is therefore important tool. Notice the moral sense: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.3 Give us day by day our daily bread.4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Paul constantly prayed for others, and wanted to be prayed for himself. This is because he knew that prayers can influence things for the better:

Rom. 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers

2 Cor. 13:7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.

Rom. 15:30 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints;32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.

Phil. 1:18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

2 Cor. 1:11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

2 Thess. 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

Col. 4:Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:— 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

2 Cor. 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

1 Thess. 3:10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

2 Thess. 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

2 Tim. 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

Philemon 1:22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.

We can pray that people will receive the Holy Ghost:

Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

As believers we can pray that people can get healed. All people will not get healed all the time and live forever (Lazarus, who came back to life thanks to Jesus, eventually died), but if you for instance check the mission by TLR and Torben Søndergaard, Christians indeed have been given the power to heal in the name of Jesus:  

Acts 28:8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.

Ja. 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

You cannot expect to fall in a miraculous trance or see visions, unless you spend time in prayer (like Peter, John, Daniel, etc):

praying kidActs 22:17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance

The prayers from righteous believers can be seen together with the smoke of incense before God:

Rev. 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

1 Pet. 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

God heard the prayers of Zacharia:

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.—13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

Cornelius was a righteous God-fearing man, and before he received the holy Ghost, God heard his prayers and saw his works:

Acts 10:30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

God heard the prayers of Hezekiah and saw his tears. He gave him support and added 15 more years to his life time:

2 King. 20:5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

We can learn a lot from the book of Jonah when it comes to prayer. Even the pagan mariners understood that it was a good idea to pray to God during times of trouble, and  the they and Jonah alike understood that this particular problem occurred due to Jonah’s resistance to God. God has prepared a big fish to swallow up Jonah, but God also heard Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish and helped him out. The king of Nineveh also understood the power of prayers, fasting and the importance of a sincere repentance. The attitude of the inhabitants of Nineveh made God change his mind, and he decided to not do what he had previously said he would:

Jonah 1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.14 Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly,And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

Jonah 3:6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Below an important secret is revealed. We are able to take on the full armour of God – praying included – and this will make our spirits stronger. Notice also that Daniel through fasting and prayers received a special revelation, and how the angel explained to him that although his prayers were heard the first day, the prince of Persia (among the rulers of the darkness of this world …) withstood him for some time. This means that we should not give up since we are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against  invisible powers:

Eph. 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel

Dan. 10:2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.—11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days

Does God send a delusion so that people must believe a lie?

God is glorified when we bear much fruitglorified.jpg

If God is glorified when we bear fruit, he clearly would not send a delusion on innocent people so that they will believe a lie and live in darkness. If he would do something like that, it would be his fault that they believe in a lie instead of their own fault.

The God of the Bible does not trick people into believing lies. The following Bible text explains why people believe in a lie:

2 Thess. 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;–10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; BECAUSE they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.11 And FOR THIS CAUSE God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Above we can see that God ”shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”, but it also explains why this happens. In Young’s literal translation it says ”and in all deceitfulness of the unrighteousness in those perishing, because the love of the truth they did not receive for their being saved, and because of this shall God send to them a working of delusion, for their believing the lie”.

It explains that those who are perishing are those who are unrighteous and who had no love for the truth. That is a bad choice on their part (they knew better), and due to their refusal to seek the truth and come to God, he will send them a delusion. Paul repeats, that those who eventually will be damned are those who do not believe the truth (indicating they could have and should have), and who had pleasure in unrighteousness. If people would not have chosen to dismiss God, they would not have ended up being totally comfortable in their false delusions. This happens to be the exact same message as Paul gives in Rom. 1:18-32. 

Rom. 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, SO THAT THEY ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.24 THEREFORE God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who EXCHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD FOR THE LIE, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.26 FOR THIS REASON God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (NKJV)

God gave them over to a reprobate mind (KJV), due to their choice to turn their backs on God, despite that he could be clearly seen and understood by them. Those who deserve death, according to Paul, are those who practice such sins which he listed. This means that these people must exist (have physical bodies) in order to perform such things, which further means that they were not chosen to be non-elect from the foundation of the world, the way Calvinists think. People end up in hell due to their sins which they refuse to get rid of, and not due to being chosen as non-elect before they are even born.

Is. 66:3 —He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations, 4 So will I choose their delusionsAnd bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.” (NKJV)

It is the same story in Isaiah above. The message is that people have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations. For this reason God will ”choose their delusions”, and bring their fears on them. They should rather have come to God when he called for them to do so. Instead they did evil before his eyes, and committed sins against his will.

More verses about people who believe in falsehood against God’s willosas 10

Man must be blamed for believing in deceptions, and not God.

Is. 28:15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves

Above,  the people of Jerusalem had chosen to make LIES their refuge. Something that naturally does not please God. Deceit comes from their own hearts.

Is. 59:13 In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.

Jer. 8:5 Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.

Jer. 9:6 Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the Lord.

Jer 13:25 This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the Lord; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood.

Jer. 14:14 Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.

Jer. 23:26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;

Ps. 119:118 Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.

Prov. 12:20 Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

Prov. 26:24 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;

Prov. 29:13 The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the Lord lighteneth both their eyes.

Above verses clearly show that man causes his own deceit, and believes in falsehood and lies despite having a better alternative.

Jer. 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

The above is a well-known verse often used by people who would like to find support for maintaining a sinful life style. However, this verse is just a general statement in relation to the sins of Judah – speaking about sinners – and does not say that all people are bound to live in sin whether they want to or not. We can even read in the same chapter ”5. Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord”, indicating that Judah has the ability to remain faithful to the Lord and his commandments. It goes on to say ”6. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LordAnd whose hope is the Lord”, showing that no man’s heart has to be deceitful. Instead this type of man will not cease yielding much fruit (v. 8) . Clearly no one has to depart from the Lord and forsake him. They are warned if they do:

Jer. 17:13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed.
Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the Lord, The fountain of living waters.”

When it comes to Ahab and the ”lying spirit” in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chr. 18 you can read this article.

There is no darkness in God and we are told that we should not accuse him of tempting us since he tempts no one, much less causes anyone to sin.

Ja. 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

Above we can also see James warning his beloved brethren to not be deceived, indicating there is a risk that they will. More of the same warnings below. Notice that the deception spoken about does not only concern temporary disadvantages on earth, but our souls are at risk (Gal. 6:7-8).

Deut. 11:16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them

Job 15:31 Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.

Luke 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

1 Cor. 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind

1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Gal. 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

2 Tim 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

Rev. 18:23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

Rev 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

Let us pray and encourage each other to not deviate from God’s word.

Hebr. 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Why the need for Jesus to UPBRAID people if God’s will always happens?

Matt 11.jpgWhy UPBRAID someone who possesses no ability to disobey you?

”Upbraid” is a translation from the Greek verb ὀνειδίζω (oneidizō Strong’s 3579) and apart from upbraid it could hold the meaning of reproach, suffer reproach and revile. The verb occurs 11 times in the KJV, and it derives from the noun ὄνειδος (G3681). Examples of usage:

Matt. 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

Above we can see a clear example of people and entire cities acting contrary to God’s will. Jesus upbraided people due to their refusal to repent! Jesus wanted them to repent and provided them ample opportunities to do so (showed them many miracles) and yet they chose not to. Sinning IS breaking the law, which means that sinning is acting against God’s will. This should be self-evident, but when it comes to our reformed friends, this is not always so. Calvinists normally have a problem with a God who is not sovereign in such a way that he predestines ALL things and ALL actions of men. Or else, they say, he is not sovereign. (”Sovereign” is not even a Biblical word in the KJV, so of course the term must be interpreted.) These verses suggest that things would have (and could have) turned out differently, if the people involved acted in a different way. This is evidence of that things do not take place because they are predestined by God. We can affect our future depending on our choices and actions, but why even pray if we can affect nothing?

Mark. 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

Above we can yet again see Jesus upbraiding people, and this time due to their refusal to believe the message about him and due to their hardened hearts. This means it certainly was not Jesus (as God) who hardened their hearts so that they could not believe, because then Jesus would not need to upbraid them. They had the choice to believe in the testimonies of those who had seen Jesus risen (as he told them he would), and they also had the chance to believe that Jesus was the one the Scriptures were telling them about, but they choice to harden their hearts.

A few more examples:

Mark 15:32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

Matt. 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matt. 27:44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. 

Rom. 15:3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.

James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (the NIV translates ”without finding fault”)