Etikettarkiv | evil

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.

No one good but GOD, so we cannot ever be good? Matt. 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke. 18:19

luke-23Is God alone GOOD? 

Below are the three passages where we can read about Jesus claim that ”none is good but one, and that is God”. His statement has often been misunderstood in two ways 1) the idea that Jesus denies he is God (which he does not deny), and 2) the idea that no one apart from God can ever be considered good and we can forget about ever doing something that is considered righteous (which he does not say).

Matt. 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Markus 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Lukas 18:18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

Jesus does not argue against being God, and let us not forget that God the Father himself calls Jesus God in Hebr. 1:8 (to mention one verse among many supporting the deity of Jesus). The rich ruler called Jesus ”Good Master”, and it seems like Jesus wanted him to reflect about his own statement. Does the man realize what he is saying and is he aware of who he is asking for advice? Jesus is not only a good master, but he can also forgive sins – which only God has the authority to do. Moreover, if Jesus would claim to not be God, we would have quite a few Bible contradictions to battle.

Notice also that the question was what to DO in order to inherit eternal life, and that Jesus did not answer ”just believe and do nothing”. Instead, Jesus answers the question by highlighting the commandments of God which are these: ”Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother”. When the rich ruler answers back that he has observed those commandments since youth, Jesus does not argue that such complete obedience is impossible but rather explains that the rich ruler still lacks one thing – to sell his many possessions and distribute the money to the poor. Here too we must try to understand what Jesus is saying. He is likely using a hyperbole since it would not be logical to ask the rich ruler to sell 100% of all this possessions. Not even Jesus and his disciples had done that themselves and Jesus was no hypocrite. Jesus was likely referring to the excess of possessions owned by the rich ruler, and that his heart was not entirely right before God. He was likely more concerned with his valuable possessions than having a prosperous connection with God.

If there is only one person (or God) who is good, does this mean the rest of human kind as well as angels are considered bad? No one can of course compare his/her goodness with the goodness of God, but if we have been cleansed from our sins then surely we must be considered ”good” (as long as we remain clean) since we have no sins left on our sin accounts. Babies might be considered neutral (they are not aware of the law), but since they have not done anything worthy of being called evil, another alternative is to label them ”good”.

Isaiah 7:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Rom. 9: 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Jesus expected his disciples (who had already sinned earlier in their lives) to be perfect as their Father. Unless Jesus is lying, we can all be considered perfect if we live righteous lives:

Matt. 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

The question is rather what Jesus might mean with being ”perfect”. We already know it does not mean ”to never having sinned and to never sin even once for the rest of your life”, because Jesus was talking to his disciples who had already sinned. Anyone can repent for past sins and become totally cleansed and perfect. Anyone can continue on the righteous path by being led by the holy Spirit and avoid evil. The promise is:

Gal. 5:16 —Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

The Bible tells us that there are indeed GOOD individuals

Good” is in Matt. 19:17, Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 translated from the Greek adjective ἀγαθός (agathos Strong’s 18) which means good, generous, friendly, etc. There are other words which describe good and righteous individuals, but let us focus on this particular term. Joseph and Barnabas are two examples of good people according to the Bible:

Luke 23:50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a GOOD man, and a just

Acts 11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.—24 For he was a GOOD man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

Through Biblical parables and analogies, we can see that individuals can be labelled as ”good”:

Matt. 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.—21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Luke 19:16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Matt. 22:9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

Matt. 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Matt. 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Matt. 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

There were even good slave owners (masters) during this time:

1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

Do read about the expression ”filthy rags” from Isaiah 64:6 here.

How should Calvinists live to PLEASE God?

calvinsm 49Here is another thought for Calvinists – who believe that God is micromanaging all of our steps.

The Bible tells us what is pleasing to God and what is not pleasing to him, and surely a behavior that is not pleasing to God is also against his will? Or why would God predestine things to take place which he does not even like happening? The problem here is of course the Calvinistic idea that nothing comes to pass against the will of God, and in order to be consistent with the Calvinistic doctrines it is not enough to suggest that God merely ”allows”  evil things to happen because that is rather the free-will approach. Calvinists do not believe that man has a will apart from God’s will, so they must believe that all things are predestined to happen precisely as they pan out (again – in order to be consistent with Calvinism). Therefore Calvinists are not really entitled to criticize anything or anyone, because that would be the same as criticizing God himself.

What is NOT pleasing to God?

1 Cor. 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

Seems like God was not pleased with all of Israel’s behavior during the Exodus (despite that Israel was ”chosen”), due to their idolatry, fornication, tempting God, etc. Neither did they enter the land of Canaan due to their unrighteous behavior, and this punishment could serve as a warning to us – so that we will maybe learn to not act in the way they did. Paul is listing things we simply should not do, and his warnings would be in vain if we were unable to act against the will of God. If Paul were a Calvinist, he would not need to spend time warning us about various matters but he would rather relax and remind himself of that God is behind whatever happens (which is fatalism). Unless of course people do evil things against the will of God, but that thought is not allowed for consistent Calvinists due to their understanding of God’s sovereignty (an unbiblical word that is much highlighted).

1 Thess. 2:14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

Above we can read about some Jews who were guilty of having killed Jesus Christ, killed God’s prophets, persecuted Christians as well as forbidding them to speak to Gentiles about salvation. It is not surprising to learn that they did not please God due to these sins, and that they had to expect God’s wrath due to their evil behavior. So was is Satan or God who caused them to act in a way that did not please God?

Rom. 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

They that are in the flesh cannot please God, so the solution is to not be in the flesh but to live after the Spirit. Paul is clearly laying out the options for us – obeying sin or righteousness and if we obey the former we will be slaves to sin and not free. To be carnally minded is the same as enmity against God, and why would God cause anyone to have a carnal mind? Some Calvinists might suggest that God did not cause such things at all but that it is rather in some people’s own nature to be carnally minded. But were they carnally minded against God’s will? Did they have an option to not be born as wicked non-elect individuals with carnal minds? Did Jesus die for them? The answer would have to be No to all those questions in order to be consistent with Calvinism.

What IS pleasing to God?

Hebr. 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Apparently God is well pleased when we praise him continually, give thanks to his name and do good. Should we conclude that God is only pleased when the elect do such things, but not when it comes to the non-elect? Why would God prevent certain people (those who are born as non-elect, and for whom Jesus did not die) from behaving in a way that is pleasing to him?

Hebr. 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was notfound, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Without faith it is impossible to please God (and already when we come to God we must believe that he is), so would not this mean that God wants people to believe in him so that he will be pleased? It is easy to understand why God is pleased each time a person believes and repents for his sins, because that would mean yet another saved soul. There is joy in heaven each time a person repents. In the Calvinistic world, however, the only way to try to save their doctrines would be to somehow suggest that God does not want all people to repent, believe and do good (the non-elect).

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance

How is God glorified?glorified

John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Surely it is good for man to glorify God, or is it the same thing here that God only wants some people to glorify him? Above, Jesus is talking to his disciples (and all of us) and tells them that his Father is glorified when they bear much fruit so that they can be his disciples. Jesus continues to say that IF they keep his commandments, they shall abide in his love. Why would God prevent some people from glorifying him, bearing much fruit and keep his commandments? Did those unfortunate people who were chosen to be wicked non-elect sinners from the foundation of the world have a chance to do good deeds which could glorify the Father? Hardly if they were born as the non-elect natural sinners they were chosen to be long before birth. Salvation would be out of their reach due to being doomed from the very start.

1 Pet. 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Seems rather clear that it is pleasing for God to in all things be glorified, because he certainly deserves it and because we need to focus on our Creator and Savior. Yet, we are supposed to believe that God would not enable all people to do this? And he would still send people to hell for refusing to glorify him – which he prevented them from doing?

Rom. 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Above we can read about people who choose not to glorify God despite that they have been shown all about God and his creation by God himself. So despite having the opportunity to accept the Creator, they still refuse to glorify him or being thankful for what he has done for them (of course, if Calvinism is true there would not be anything for the non-elect to be thankful for). Due to their failure to do so, God’s wrath is revealed from heaven over all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. It certainly looks like all forms of unrighteousness is detested by God, so it is hard to believe he would not only tempt people but cause them to perform evil deeds.

God’s will or man’s will? Bible verses showing clear FREE WILL examples

matt. 12

Verses used to suggest that God’s will always happens

The Bible is replete with verses that show how God is warning, begging, urging, persuading and pleading with people to do his will, and other verses which show his anger, disappointment, sadness, etc, when they do not. Man’s free will choices are very apparent in the Bible, and yet there are christians (like calvinists – if they want to be consistent with their doctrines) who believe that man is not able to act against God’s will at any time. The article would be too long to include all verses which show man’s free will (isn’t that close to 1/3 of the Bible?), but further down below are a few examples.

First a few verses which calvinists often use to support the idea that God’s will (whether people sin or not) always happens. For the most part they try to defend the bible contradictions they themselves produce by suggesting that God has two wills. (Just as though our Lord has conflicting wills, and just as though at least one of them wants man to sin and be evil…). If God’s will always happens – what is SIN? Surely not breaking the God’s commandments which can’t be broken?

Rom. 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

The topic is God’s prerogative to bring about salvation in any way he wants, and Paul is trying to make the jews understand that they are not saved only because they are born jews – Rom 9:2-9; 24-33. He mentions that he has grief in his heart due to being deeply concerned about his countrymen (something that should not bother him, had he trusted in that God’s will always happens), and that the blood line of Jacob will brought forth the Messiah. He also emphasizes that people are being saved due to God’s mercy – but certainly not unconditionally. God has the right to show mercy on those who choose to believe, and harden those who stubbornly sin like Pharaoh did. (The mere fact that God chooses to harden people shows that their hearts were not fully hardened to start with.) If God decides to arrange his salvation plan in this particular way, there is no way anyone can resist his will because it’s his exclusive right. That is the subject of  his ”will” here, and it does not say that God can not change his mind and/or let man’s will happen in other areas. We already know from the Bible that God has changed his mind in numerous occasions due to man’s actions – like in response to man’s repentance.

Ps 115:3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

Ps 135:5 For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.6 Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.7 He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.8 Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.

The above are psalms, and psalms can contain poetic language. That is why we should be careful to not use psalms and proverbs to start new doctrines. Yes, God has done whatsoever he pleases, but it does not say that he likes to micro manage human kind nor that he predestines every thing that happens. It could definitely have pleased God to create man with a free will. The point is that no one is like God, and it would not make sense to argue with him or try to find faults. God created man animals and the entire universe in exactly the way he pleased. It pleased God to create man with free will, despite knowing that man might use this will to disobey him. Israel often chose to do just that:

Psalm 81:11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me

More examples where God is described as the mighty one who has created everything exactly as he wants:

Is. 46:5 “To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal And compare Me, that we should be alike?6 They lavish gold out of the bag, And weigh silver on the scales; They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god; They prostrate themselves, yes, they worship.—8“Remember this, and show yourselves men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors.9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’—12 “Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, Who are far from righteousness: (NKJV)

Isaiah is referring to God’s creation in general terms. God may have created everything as he pleased (the foundation), but this does not mean that he programmed human beings to always obey him. A universe that works in that way (filled with programmed robots) would not please him. Above we can read that man can choose to worship false gods and be stubborn-hearted. They are referred to as transgressors. Transgressors of what? Surely the law of God? They are far from being those righteous people who God would have wanted.

Isaiah 14:21 Prepare slaughter for his children BECAUSE of the iniquity of their fathers, Lest they rise up and possess the land, And fill the face of the world with cities.”—24  The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying,“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand:25 That I will break the Assyrian in My land, And on My mountains tread him underfoot.Then his yoke shall be removed from them, And his burden removed from their shoulders.26 This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth, And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed, And who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, And who will turn it back?” (NKJV)

The horrible events that Isaiah is warning about, are due to man’s actions. Isaiah suggests, that unless the children of the sinful fathers are not killed the same would grow up and act in the very same way as their parents and fill the world with cities (and their wickedness). Who else than a Creator could figure this out with certainty, and who else has the authority to do something about it? Apparently God is not pleased with either the fathers or how the bring up their children. What we can read ”will come to pass” above, is not every single detail under the sun, but those things listed in this context.

Jer. 4:27 For thus says the Lord:“The whole land shall be desolate; Yet I will not make a full end.28 For this shall the earth mourn, And the heavens above be black, Because I have spoken. I have purposed and will not relent, Nor will I turn back from it.29 The whole city shall flee from the noise of the horsemen and bowmen.They shall go into thickets and climb up on the rocks.Every city shall be forsaken, And not a man shall dwell in it. (NKJV)

Job 42:2 I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. (NKJV)

Same thing here. It’s about showing that God can do anything he wants, and if he has truly decided to bring something about (like the global flood) it will happen. He might also choose to wait with his decisions depending on mans’ actions.

Eph. 1:7 IN HIM we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—IN HIM. 11 IN HIM also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted IN CHRIST should be to the praise of His glory.13  IN HIM you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; IN WHOM also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (NKJV)

The promises in Eph 1-2 are only tied to those who are IN CHRIST, and we are in Christ only if we believe in him – and naturally show our faith with our deeds. As children of God we have been given the holy Spirit and the promise/guarantee that we will enter the kingdom of God because we belong to the body of Christ. However, this promise is still hinged on the condition of faith/loving God. If we no longer believe or bear fruit (see John 15), we are no longer in Christ. If you get a guarantee receipt you need to read the fine print, and you can’t expect to make use of your receipt if you throw it away. God ”works all things according to the counsel of His will”, but this does not mean he has a desire to force salvation on someone, nor save someone who has turned to living in sin. It’s about his marvelous salvation plan, and the wonderful promises to those who are IN CHRIST.

Verses that show that God’s will does not always happenacts 17

Matt. 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER which is in heaven.

”He that doeth the will of my Father”? Apparently the Father’s will does not always happen, since Jesus seems to separate those who do the will of his Father from those who do not. If everyone would always do the will of God – whether good or bad – then everyone would enter the kingdom of God, according to this verse.

Matt. 12.50 For WHOSOEVER SHALL DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Mark 3:35)

”Whosoever shall do the will of my Father”? If everyone would always do the will of God – whether good or bad – then the same would be Jesus ”brother, and sister, and mother”. (Meaning universalism).

John 7:17 IF ANY MAN WILL DO HIS WILL, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

”If any man will do his will?” Apparently Jesus does not believe that everyone always does the will of God.

John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and DOETH HIS WILL, him he heareth.

”If any man—doeth his will”? Again, apparently Jesus does not side with the idea that God’s will always happens. Jesus separates those who worship God and obey him (doeth his will) with those who are SINNERS. This suggests that sinners are not doing the will of God (quite obviously since ”sin” by definition is an action against God’s commandments).

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF GOD ABIDETH FOR EVER. 

”He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”? If everyone would always do the will of God, then everyone would abide for ever. Since everyone does not get saved according to the Bible, it shows that some people are not doing the will of God, and God’s will does not always happen. Moreover, the previous verse tells us that ”the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”. No wonder we can read that such things are not of the Father since the things listed are clear sins (of the world). If such worldly things take place, they are obviously against God’s will and ”not of the Father” as John plainly states.

Hebr. 10: 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise (NKJV)

Why must we have endurance/patience? What happens if we lack in patience? Would that result in a scenario where we do not always do the will of God? Would we still receive the promise if we failed to show endurance? The author does not seem to think so. Why would he warn us about something that could never take place?

Col. 4:12 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.

Ok, and what would happen if Epaphras would not labor fervently for the Colossians in prayers with the aim to make them stand complete in the will of God? Would they stand perfect and complete in the will of God regardless of prayers? Why pray if everyone always performs the will of God at all times?

Mark 13:14“So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing WHERE IT OUGHT NOT” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (NKJV)

”Ought not” according to whom? God?

Luke 12:16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Why did God call the rich man ”fool”? Surely it would not be foolish to accomplish God’s will perfectly? This parable seems to be there as a warning, but how could this be if it’s not possible to act in the foolish way that is described in the parable?

Rom. 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Apparently Paul does not think it’s a good idea to be conformed to this world, and urges us to renew our minds so that we can learn what is the perfect will of God. This means it’s up to us to start this process. Paul continues to tell his readers what they ”ought not”, which suggests that they might act in an opposite way which is not approved by God.

Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart (NKJV)

Jesus does not suggest that only believers ought to pray, but ”men” (can be translated all mankind, or men and women) should always pray and not lose heart. We know that not all men do this, so God’s will does not always happen.

1 Tim. 5:13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, SAYING THINGS WHICH THEY OUGHT NOT. (NKJV)

So they were saying things which they ought not, according to Paul? Interesting.

Titus 1:10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they OUGHT NOT, for the sake of dishonest gain. (NKJV)

More people who are saying things which they ought not.

Hebr. 5:12 For though by this time you OUGHT TO BE teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. (NKJV)

The author of Hebrews clearly does not believe God’s will always happens.

Jam. 3:Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

If they ought not to be so, then clearly God’s will does not always happen.

Ephesians 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

Do we have any other option?

Col. 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But HE WHO DOES WRONG will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. (NKJV)

”He who does wrong”? In a world where God’s will always happens?

Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him. (NKJV)

Resisting the Holy Ghost is resisting God.

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Acts 13:21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

In 1 Sam. 8 we can read that God did not think it was a good idea to set up a king for Israel at this time. In fact, he thought it was a very bad idea and warned the Israelites against it. When they were still adamant about the project, God gave in to their wishes. Still, God ended up regretting making Saul to be a king (1 Sam. 15:11), and in 1 Sam. 13:14 we can even read the reason;  ”thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee, clearly showing that Saul did not act according to God’s will. King David did so much better as a King, and even though he did accomplish to be a faithful servant who obeyed God during all his life time we still know there was at least one exception in relation to the matter of Uriah and his wife (1 King. 15:5). That ordeal was evil in the eyes of God (2 Sam. 12:9) and therefore against his will.

Jer. 17:22 Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.24 And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein

Deuteronomy 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

More stiff-necked people who refuse to do God’s will, and God is unsure if they will ”hearken” to him.

Ez.  16:26 Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.27 Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way.

Why would God be angry at fornication and whoredoms if his will always come to pass? And why does God, due to man’s actions (Israel), deliver them ”unto the will” of their enemy? Why would he separate the will of Israel’s enemy with his own will, as though they would not be one and the same? This procedure certainly sounds like a punishment against Israel for the only reason that they did not obey God.

Is. 48:17 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit,Who leads you by the way you should go.18 Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.19 Your descendants also would have been like the sand, And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand; His name would not have been cut off Nor destroyed from before Me.” (NKJV)

Why does God exclaim ”Oh, that you had heeded my commandments”? Why all the ”would have been”, had his people obeyed him?

Ps. 143:10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

Why this urgent need? Does not God’s will happen if David is not sufficiently taught to do his will?

Lev. 4:22 When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty;23 Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish:— .27 And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty;28 Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.

”Things which ought not to be done”? I did not think that was possible in a world where God’s will always happens?

Deuteronomy 8:20 As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; BECAUSE ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.

”Because ye would not be obedient…” That is the reason for perishing.

Jer. 19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

Jer. 32:35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Those couple of verses speak for themselves. People sinned severely and caused others to sin, which naturally didn’t even enter God’s mind that they would do. Throwing children in the fire as an offering to Baal is naturally an abomination and why would God force people to commit such a horrible sin?

Jer. 26:13 Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.

Ez. 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

If God’s will always happens, he would not be dependent on man’s actions.

1 Peter 2:15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. (NASB)

We are asked to not use our freedom as a covering for evil. Peter does not believe God’s will automatically takes place.

1 Peter 3:17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (NKJV)

But surely doing evil would be equally acceptable if all things happen according to the will of God?

Matt. 23: 47 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! + Luke 13:34

Exactly.

JOSEPH was sold as slave by his BROTHERS – God meant EVIL for GOOD? – Gen. 50:20

joseph-slave1Gen. 50:20 But as for you, ye thought EVIL against me; but God meant it unto GOOD, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Joseph’s brothers evil intention was to kill Joseph (which wasn’t God’s intention) but conveniently a caravan passed by in the right moment and Joseph’s life was spared when he was SOLD as a slave and brought to Egypt – and thus being a blessing for Israel. Thus, ”ye thought EVIL against me; but God meant it unto GOOD”.

Just because God allows man to sin, and on a few occasions even uses man’s evil schemes for something useful in the end – like punishing Israel physically by not preventing their enemies from attacking them – it doesn’t mean that everything under the sun happens for a reason. If that were the case, we’re making God out to be the author of sin. Allowing people to sin is not the same as endorsing evil. The truth is that each time a sin occurs, it always happens against God’s will with no exception.

God has created us with free will, and this means that he normally doesn’t step in and prevents us from sinning (or else we wouldn’t have free will). I say ”normally” because I’m thinking of the global flood where God put an end to much wickedness by eliminating all people from the earth apart from Noah and his family.) If God would be the type who always prevented sin, his first measures would be to prevent Adam and Eve from eating of the forbidden fruit – something he never did. Neither did God prevent Joseph’s brothers from sinning, particularly not when God saw a way to let their ideas (even if they were wicked and against his will) be the means to use Joseph in a good way and save his people. God could naturally use other means, but he chose to make use of these particular events that Joseph’s brothers planned in their hearts. God certainly didn’t place any evil intentions in their hearts, because there is no darkness in God.

Naturally it would be even better if the evil plans did not take place at all (it’s always better if people do NOT sin) but he is still able to respond to man’s actions and use them as he deems appropriate. If God knows that certain men plan X to occur, then naturally God can purpose to use it to his own advantage and even thwart their plans. This doesn’t mean that God always acts in this way. God decided to overrule the intended evil by Joseph’s brothers and rather use the events for something good (saving Israel) which was not intended by the brothers! It’s in this sense that we can read that  the brothers meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

If God purposed a man like Joseph to end up in Egypt, why would he prevent his brothers from selling him to people who he knew would take him there? God doesn’t sin by purposing Joseph to end up in Egypt, and allowing his brothers to sin by selling him as a slave. God also knew the heart of Joseph and would naturally hear his prayers and help him out both where he was in the pit, where he screamed for help, and later on in Egypt. If, however, God would cause Joseph’s brothers to be jealous, hateful, selfish and end up being murderers and liars, God alone must also be blamed for their sin. It’s God’s prerogative to let a man like Joseph be subject to his brothers, but it’s all about allowing and not about causing/decreeing.

In having Joseph be sold as a slave God actually saves Joseph’s life because his brothers originally MEANT to kill him

It’s actually Judah (who would later on produce the Messiah in his blood line) who suggests that the brothers would not let Joseph die there in the pit where they had just thrown him, but that they would rather sell him for a price to the Ishmaelites. This idea actually saves Joseph’s life, but it certainly doesn’t pardon any of the evil actions committed by his brothers. God could easily have arranged circumstances, such as a caravan on route to Egypt to pass the area in the right time, knowing full well that the character of Joseph’s brothers would trigger them to act in the way they did. Selling Joseph rather than killing him would be a better solution for the brothers since they 1) did not have to get rid of Joseph by killing him, which is a serious step to take for most people, and 2) they would instead get money. The arrival of the caravan in that moment changed the whole story. Joseph would end up with much authority over the food supply in Egypt, resulting in that he would be able to spare his own people from the worldwide famine.

If on the other hand God decreed and rendered certain the wicked intentions of the brothers as the means to bring about a good purpose, then again, God not only tempts people to sin but forces them to sin. When it comes to Joseph in Egypt and Jesus Christ being crucified, God has acted in a unique way to bring about a divine saving purpose for all humanity, but this doesn’t mean we should add to the Bible and suggest that God’s will always happens or that God wants people to sin so that he can bring about certain events.

There is seldom a shortage of people who want to harm good people like Joseph Jacob’s son and Jesus Christ, so God certainly doesn’t need to cause anyone to do it. It’s sometimes enough to just remove a protecting hand from certain individuals, and their enemy might be able to hurt them. However, our prayers and our actions can naturally influence the outcome. Why else pray?

Gen. 37:24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.

Here is the rest of the story a few chapters later:

Gen 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the EVIL which we did unto him.16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?20 But as for you, ye thought EVIL against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

The brothers wanted to ask for forgiveness, and Joseph did not correct them and say that they had not sinned. However, he did inform them that something good came out of the whole story – something that their brothers did not intended or had in mind. They initially intended to kill Joseph but ended up selling him.

We can also read about Joseph’s fate in The book of Jasher (or The book of the just which is a translation from the Hebrew sēfer ha yāšār). This book is mentioned in 2 Sam. 1:8 and Joshua 10:13, as well as quoted by Paul in 2 Tim. 3:8 . This ”lost book” is best viewed as secular Jewish history rather than necessarily being divinely inspired by God, but also secular history might contain the truth. (There is at least one falsification of The book of Jasher, so don’t read the version from 1750.) This book sometimes reveals lots of extra details of Biblical events, and despite these details they line up perfectly well with the Bible and sometimes even provides extra light. Nevertheless, if we would end up with contradictions the Bible is the source to trust since we know that the content is inspired by God and accurate. According to The book of Jasher, it was Simeon who brought forth the idea to have Joseph killed, and it was Judah who suggested that Joseph should rather be sold (and thus saved his life). In the meantime, God heard Joseph’s anguish in the pit, and saved him from being killed by scorpions and snakes. In both the Bible and The book of Jasher, Reuben seems to be one of the most innocent of the brothers. However, apparently he went along with the lies afterwards, and never told their father what really happened to Joseph.

Joseph slave 2

Jasher 41:9 And Joseph was seventeen years old, and he was still magnifying himself above his brethren, and thought of raising himself above them.—21 And Jacob sent his son Joseph to the valley of Hebron, and Joseph came for his brothers to Shechem, and could not find them, and Joseph went about the field which was near Shechem, to see where his brothers had turned, and he missed his road in the wilderness, and knew not which way he should go.—25 And Simeon said to his brethren, Behold the man of dreams is coming unto us this day, and now therefore come and let us kill him and cast him in one of the pits that are in the wilderness, and when his father shall seek him from us, we will say an evil beast has devoured him.—28 And they took him and cast him into a pit, and in the pit there was no water, but serpents and scorpions. And Joseph was afraid of the serpents and scorpions that were in the pit. And Joseph cried out with a loud voice, and the Lord hid the serpents and scorpions in the sides of the pit, and they did no harm unto Joseph.

Below we can read that the Lord was pleased to have Joseph sold, because he didn’t want Joseph to be killed as his brothers intended. This means that the arrangement that the brothers had in mind (killing Joseph), was overturned when the caravans passed by and Judah proposed to have Joseph sold.

Jasher 42:1 And they went and sat on the opposite side, about the distance of a bow-shot, andthey sat there to eat bread, and whilst they were eating, they held counsel together what was to be done with him, whether to slay him or to bring him back to his father. 2 They were holding the counsel, when they lifted up their eyes, and saw, and behold there was a company of Ishmaelites coming at a distance by the road of Gilead, going down to Egypt.3 And Judah said unto them, What gain will it be to us if we slay our brother? peradventure God will require him from us; this then is the counsel proposed concerning him, which you shall do unto him: Behold this company of Ishmaelites going down to Egypt, 4 Now therefore, come let us dispose of him to them, and let not our hand be upon him, and they will lead him along with them, and he will be lost amongst the people of the land, and we will not put him to death with our own hands. And the proposal pleased his brethren and they did according to the word of Judah. 5 And whilst they were discoursing about this matter, and before the company of Ishmaelites had come up to them, seven trading men of Midian passed by them, and as they passed they were thirsty, and they lifted up their eyes and saw the pit in which Joseph was immured, and they looked, and behold every species of bird was upon him. 6 And these Midianites ran to the pit to drink water, for they thought that it contained water, and on coming before the pit they heard the voice of Joseph crying and weeping in the pit, and they looked down into the pit, and they saw and behold there was a youth of comely appearance and well favored. 7 And they called unto him and said, Who art thou and who brought thee hither, and who placed thee in this pit, in the wilderness? and they all assisted to raise up Joseph and they drew him out, and brought him up from the pit, and took him and went away on their journey and passed by his brethren. 8 And these said unto them, Why do you do this, to take our servant from us and to go away? surely we placed this youth in the pit because he rebelled against us, and you come and bring him up and lead him away; now then give us back our servant. 9 And the Midianites answered and said unto the sons of Jacob, Is this your servant, or does this man attend you? peradventure you are all his servants, for he is more comely and well favored than any of you, and why do you all speak falsely unto us? 10 Now therefore we will not listen to your words, nor attend to you, for we found the youth in the pit in the wilderness, and we took him; we will therefore go on. 11 And all the sons of Jacob approached them and rose up to them and said unto them, Give us back our servant, and why will you all die by the edge of the sword? And the Midianites cried out against them, and they drew their swords, and approached to fight with the sons of Jacob. — 17 Surely you have said that the young man is your servant, and that he rebelled against you, and therefore you placed him in the pit; what then will you do with a servant who rebels against his master? Now therefore sell him unto us, and we will give you all that you require for him; and THE LORD WAS PLEASED TO DO THIS IN ORDER THAT THE SONS OF JACOB SHOULD NOT SLAY THEIR BROTHER.  18 And the Midianites saw that Joseph was of a comely appearance and well-favored; they desired him in their hearts and were urgent to purchase him from his brethren. 19 And the sons of Jacob hearkened to the Midianites and they sold their brother Joseph to them for twenty pieces of silver, and Reuben their brother was not with them, and the Midianites took Joseph and continued their journey to Gilead. 20 They were going along the road, and the Midianites repented of what they had done, in having purchased the young man, and one said to the other, What is this thing that we have done, in taking this youth from the Hebrews, who is of comely appearance and well favored.

Joseph was sold twice…

Jasher 42: 23 And whilst they were thus discoursing together, they looked, and behold the company of Ishmaelites which was coming at first, and which the sons of Jacob saw, was advancing toward the Midianites, and the Midianites said to each other,Come let us sell this youth to the company of Ishmaelites who are coming toward us, and we will take for him the little that we gave for him, and we will be delivered from his evil. 24 And they did so, and they reached the Ishmaelites, and the Midianites sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver which they had given for him to his brethren. 25 And the Midianites went on their road to Gilead, and the Ishmaelites took Joseph and they let him ride upon one of the camels, and they were leading him to Egypt.

Who is he that saith, and IT COMETH TO PASS, when the Lord commandeth it not? Lam. 3:37

lam. 3

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, When the Lord has not commanded it?Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That WOE and well-being proceed? Lam 3:37-38 NKJV

The Book of Lamentations  in the Bible is a collection of poetic laments for the destruction of Jerusalem, and it  consists of five distinct poems divided into five chapters. It’s not known if the author is Jeremiah, or maybe one or more other authors. The first four poems are written as acrostics – chapters 1, 2, and 4 have 22 verses each, corresponding to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, where the first lines begin with the first letter of the alphabet, the second with the second letter, etc. The fifth poem is not acrostic but still has 22 lines. According to wikipedia an acrostic can be used as means to aid memory, and a famous acrostic was made in Greek for the saying ”JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, SAVIOUR” (Ιησούς Χριστός, Θεού Υιός, Σωτήρ; Iesous CHristos, THeou Yios, Soter—ch and th being each one letter in Greek). The initials spell ICHTHYS (ΙΧΘΥΣ) which is Greek for fish.

It’s evident that we shouldn’t make doctrines out of poems, since poems normally mirror the truth in a poetic way. Poems must be read through the filter of more clear non-poetic texts.

What else does the same chapter say?

My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.—12 He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.13 He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.—16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. (KJV)

Hardly something we should understand literally.

21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.22 It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

The jews in exile could very well have been consumed by their enemies, but God is full of grace and listens to earnest prayers. Since God is compassionate, he is hardly the guy who predestines people (before the creation of the world) to be tortured in hell for the only reason that they ended up as the non-elect group of people that God had always wanted them to be (if we should try to be consistent with TULIP).

25 The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

It doesn’t say here that God decides to be good to only SOME random people, and that he makes them wait for him and seek him. No, it says that God is good unto those who wait for him and seek him, and the normal reading would be that people use their own free will to make this choice to wait for him and seek him.

29 He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.

Another example of something that can’t be understood literally.

32 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. 34 To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth.

God doesn’t literally crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, but he does allow afflictions to occur (sometimes he even causes them directly, as he did with the global flood) and mostly due to the need to punish his people (Israel) for their rebellion and wickedness. It’s not always pleasant for a Father to discipline his children, but sometimes it’s necessary, and hopefully (albeit not certain) it might produce something good – depending on how those affected will react. God is always willing to forgive a truly repentant heart.

35 To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High,36 To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.

God does not approve of people who turn aside the right of a man and who subvert his cause. This means that neither would God deny anyone the chance to be ELECT and saved (which those are who believe in Christ), and to be able to seek him and repent for past sins that have been committed. A God who does not subvert a man’s cause would not predestine him to be a wicked non-elect, and send him to hell for being this wicked non-elect person. That would be contrary to being a just and compassionate God, who makes sure that each person has a chance to get his soul saved.

37 Who is he that saith, and IT cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?

(v. 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That woe and well-being proceed? NKJV)

V. 37 is a common ”proof text verse”, because taken out of context (and ignoring the fact that it’s from a poetic book), it might sound as though nothing happens that God hasn’t approved of and even predestined. It’s important to understand what ”it” refers to in relation to ”who is he that has said”. The verses right before speak about being fair and to not subvert a man’s cause, and the verses right after talk about God’s PUNISHMENT FOR SINS. There wouldn’t be a need for God to punish people for doing his exact will, so the only reason for punishing people would be because they acted against his will. If they acted according to his will (by rebelling against him and by worshiping false gods), they would rather deserve rewards and much praise. Out of the mouth of God proceeds both woe (calamity) and well-being, and that means that God is able to show mercy and to answer earnest prayers, just as he is able to punish people for being rebellious. It’s on judgment day when we are really supposed to be judged based on our deeds, and receive both punishments and rewards, but God can also interfere here on earth. Not as in predestining people to sin (God doesn’t even tempt anyone, much less cause anyone to sin) but as in allowing things to take place which could be used for discipline in relation to his chosen people Israel. Sinners ALWAYS act against the will of God with no exception, and that would even include Judas Iscariot.

40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.42 We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned.—47 Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and destructions of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day.

The text doesn’t suggest that we should search and try GOD and the manner that he has predestined us and our ways. If God has predestined each one of our steps, then there is no need to investigate the way he has ordained things because we can always trust that he has done a proper job. In reality God has not at all predestined our actions, and that’s why it makes sense to be asked to search and try our ways – if perhaps we have sins to confess and if we can amend our ways. The author admits that they (the Israelites) indeed have transgressed and rebelled against God, and he also feels that God has not pardoned (due to the physical pain that had affected them in such a severe way). However, in other verses in the same chapter, the author still feels there is much hope and that God eventually will listen to their earnest prayers and come to their aid.

61 Thou hast heard their reproach, O Lord, and all their imaginations against me; 62 The lips of my enemies And their whispering against me all the day. 64 Repay them, O LordAccording to the work of their hands.

Notice that the author feels that it’s about their reproach, their imaginations, they who rise up against him and their device against him. He feels it’s the lips of his enemies which are at fault, and hopes that God will repay them according to the work of their hands. If God is the one who has merely used Israel’s enemy as a tool in his hands and caused them to act the way they did, it wouldn’t make sense to turn around and repay them for those exact deeds.

QUOTES about EVIL and SIN, from preachers who are CALVINISTS

john piperCalvinists often take refuge behind the curtains of ”God’s ways are higher than our ways” and “it’s a mystery!” whenever they are faced with Bible contradictions, but if they would just start accepting the fact that man has free will, and that God’s will doesn’t always happen (which doesn’t reduce his sovereignty) then all their contradictions would disappear at once. In order to be consistent with calvinism, one must believe that even evil happens according to Gods will, whereas freewillers believe that evil is merely allowed by God and always happens against his will.

Plainly it was God’s will that sin should enter this world, otherwise it would not have, for nothing happens except what God has eternally decreed. Moreover, there was more than a simple permission, for God only permits things that fulfill his purpose./-A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, 2009, 162

So when I say that everything that exists — including evil — is ordained by an infinitely holy and all-wise God to make the glory of Christ shine more brightly, I mean that, one way or the other, God sees to it that all things serve to glorify his Son.”/ John Piper, Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ, 44

God is able without blameworthy ‘tempting’ to see to it that a person does what God ordains for him to do even if it involves evil./ John Piper,  Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ, 24

Moral evil we usually refer to as sin: murder, lying, adultery, stealing, all the ways that people fail to love each other. So what we are considering here is that God rules the world in such a way that all calamities and all sin remain in his ultimate control and therefore within his ultimate DESIGN and PURPOSE. / John Piper on his website 1 July 1998

The death of Jesus offers another example of how God’s sovereign will ORDAINS that a SINFUL ACT COME TO PASS  /John Piper on his website 1 July 1998These specific examples (which could be multiplied by many more instances) where God purposefully GOVERNS the sinful choices of people are generalized in several passages. — Therefore I conclude with [Jonathan] Edwards, ”God decrees all things, even all sins.” /John Piper

God may hate a thing as it is in itself, and considered simply as evil, and yet . . . it may be his will it should come to pass, considering all consequences. . . . God doesn’t will sin as sin or for the sake of anything evil; though it be his pleasure so to order things, that he permitting, sin will come to pass; for the sake of the great good that by his disposal shall be the consequence. His willing to order things so that evil should come to pass, for the sake of the contrary good, is no argument that he doesn’t hate evil, as evil: and if so, then it is no reason why he may not reasonably forbid evil as evil, and punish it as such. /  The Works of Jonathan Edwards, A.M.: With an Essay on His Genius …, Volym 2

So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect. / The Works of Jonathan Edwards, A.M.: With an Essay on His Genius …, Volym 2

We sin out of a kind of MORAL NECESSITY because we act according to our fallen nature./ R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics

God wills all things that come to pass…God desired for man to fall into sin. I am not accusing God of sinning; I am suggesting that God created sin. / R.C. Sproul, Jr. Almighty Over All 

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.

I wish very frankly and pointedly to assert that if a man gets drunk and shoots his family, it was the will of God that he should do it…”+ Let it be unequivocally said that this view certainly makes God the cause of sin… / Gordon Clark, Religion, Reason, and Revelation, (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian & Reformed), 1961, 221

Sin is one of the ‘whatsoevers’ that have ‘come to pass’, all of which are ‘ordained’…Nothing comes to pass contrary to His decree. Nothing happens by chance.Even moral evil, which He abhors and forbids, occurs by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God… man’s inability to explain how God can make things certain, but not compulsory… is no reason to deny that [God] can do it or that he has done it./ W.G.T. Shedd, Calvinism: Pure and Mixed, 32-33, 38-39

Foreordination means God’s sovereign plan, whereby He decides all that is to happen in the entire universe. Nothing in this world happens by chance. God is in back of everything. He decides and causes all things to happen that do happen. He is not sitting on the sidelines wondering and perhaps fearing what is going to happen next. No, He has foreordained everything ‘after the counsel of his will’ (Eph. 1:11): the moving of a finger, the beating of a heart, the laughter of a girl, the mistake of a typist –even sin…Although sin and unbelief are contrary to what God commands…God has included them in his sovereign decree (ordained them, caused them to certainly come to pass) / Edwin. H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, 24-25

Yes, someone says, but can’t Christians put themselves outside God’s grace? What about those who commit ABOMINABLE SINS? Don’t they nullify the work of redemption in themselves? Don’t they forfeit the love of God? CERTAINLY NOT …. it’s preposterous to think that we can forfeit it [salvation] BY ANYTHING WE DO / John MacArthurThe God Who Loves: He Will Do Whatever It Takes To Draw Us To Him

God controls everything that is and everything that happens. There is not one thing that happens that he has not actively decreed – not even a single thought in the mind of man. Since this is true, it follows that God has decreed the existence of evil, he has not merely permitted it, as if anything can originate and happen apart from his will and power. Since we have shown that no creature can make completely independent decisions, evil could never have started without God’s active decree, and it cannot continue for one moment longer apart from God’s will. God decreed evil ultimately for his own glory, although it is not necessary to know or to state this reason to defend Christianity from the problem evil. / Vincent Cheung – Problem of evil 

Those who see that it is impossible to altogether disassociate God from the origination and continuation of evil nevertheless try to distance God from evil by saying that God merely “permits” evil, and that he does not cause any of it. However, since Scripture itself states that God actively decrees everything, and that nothing can happen apart from his will and power, it makes no sense to say that he merely permits something –nothing happens by God’s mere permission. / Vincent Cheung – Problem of evil 

Here they have recourse to the distinction between will and permission. By this they would maintain that the wicked perish because God permits it, not because he so wills. But why shall we say “permission” unless it is because God so wills? Still, it is not in itself likely that man brought destruction upon himself through himself, by God’s mere permission and without any ordaining. As if God did not establish the condition in which he wills the chief of his creatures to be! I shall not hesitate, then, simply to confess with Augustine that “the will of God is the necessity of things,” and that what he has willed will of necessity come to pass. / John Calvin, Calvin’s Institutes (III, xxiii, 8 & II, iv., 3)

James White (in a debate with Hank Hannegraaf and George Bryson) was asked,”When a child is raped, is God responsible and did He decree that rape?” His reply:

”Yes, because if not then it‟s meaningless and purposeless and though God knew it was going to happen he created without a purpose…and God is responsible for the creation of despair. If [God] didn‟t [decree child rape] then that rape is an (sic) element of meaningless evil that has no purpose.”/ James White.

Charles Spurgeon did not believe that Jesus died for all men, or that God even desired to save all men. His words also show what damage the satisfaction theory has done to us, since Spurgeon and others start with this unbiblical falsehood and try to build their case on it – which leads them in the wrong direction. Can a person be saved who is engaged in the most monstrous, horrible and repulsive iniquity, and worse than diabolical deities could think of perform? That is what Spurgeon call those who believe that Jesus died for all:

Once again, if it was Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. / Charles H. Spurgeon

Can a person be saved if he/she refuses to believe in the true gospel but rather believes in heresies? If Spurgeon is correct here, only calvinists can be saved:

And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified,unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else / The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Curts and Jennings, Cincinnati – Chicago – St. Louis, 1898, Vol. I., Page 172.

“Some of the sermons on sex were R-rated, and we gave warnings to parents and sometimes saw whole visiting youth groups walk out blushing halfway through the sermon.  On other occasions, people walked out during the sermon and flipped me off on their way out, a trend that has continued.”  /Mark Driscoll (Confessions of a Reformission Rev. p.134)

“Pastor James continues to lead our monthly film and theology class, at which attendance rises to more than two hundred people depending on the film.  He continues to show an occasional unedited R-rated movie to train our people to think critically about the themes preached through film, which is the new cultural form of preaching.”  / Mark Driscoll  (Confessions of a Reformission Rev., p.157)

“This season [at church] was messy and I sinned and cussed a lot, but God somehow drew a straight line with my crooked Philistine stick.” / Mark Driscoll  (Confessions of a Reformission Rev p.130)

I do believe God does cause people to think they are saved just to damn them but to call that grace is crazy. / a Calvinist

Also free-willers can of course be in error about sin, even if it’s not built into their doctrine by necessity the way calvinism is (I’m not claiming that calvinists therefore sin more than others, but I’m talking about the necessary outcome of their doctrines IF they want to be consistent with what they teach):

Paul wrote most of his epistles to correct error in the church. But he doesn’t say that even the most carnal Corinthians are not saved. /Dave Hunt The Berean Call, January 2007, p. 5.)

Some of you are weak and sickly and some of you sleep. Some of you died because God just brought judgment upon you for the way you have conducted yourselves … there are some sins that are so heinous … and God takes them home for that./ Dave Hunt