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Westminster Confession of Faith 1647, and related contradictions

calvinism 5Westminster Confession of Faith from the year 1647 – which many calvinists adhere to

Claiming that ”God authors everything but not sin” simply doesn’t make it so – not even if you use fancy words in a document and spread it around throughout a large christian community – because it doesn’t make the obvious contradiction go away. Neither would it make sense to say ”I believe in the trinity but I don’t believe that Jesus is God, and not the holy Spirit either for that matter”, or ”God predestines every thought and every step of the entire humanity, but we are still responsible for our actions”. It’s one or the other, and you can’t have the cookie and eat it too. If God ordains whatsoever comes to pass and if nothing happens against his will, then this by necessity must include sin! It doesn’t help to blame ”second causes” because if you push another person who hits another, then you’re still the cause for the whole chain of actions.

If God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, then this must include also second causes, and if it’s impossible to act against God’s will, then also sin must be according to God’s will. If God is the one who decides who to save based on nothing that we believe or do, and who to give the ability to seek him, believe, repent and obey, then the only outcome is that he didn’t want the rest (the non-elect) to seek him, believe, repent or obey. Many calvinists admit that they believe that God is the author of sin and that he delights in people who sin (since he predestined them to be wicked sinners), but other calvinists protest and argue against their own doctrines. My view is of course that it’s better to avoid adding calvinism into the Bible in the first place, because that will result in 1) no Bible contradictions, 2) no unanswered questions, puzzles or unsolved mysteries, 3) we suddenly understand why Jesus Christ had to die on the cross – because something went WRONG and didn’t go as God planned, and 4) God and Satan can be totally separated (instead of working as a team) leaving God as a righteous and holy God who has no darkness within him and who doesn’t tempt anyone or delights in anyone’s sin.

God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ORDAIN WHATSOEVER COMES TO PASS: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (WCF)

Long texts with lots of fluff and fancy words might help the author to hide obvious contradictions for the readers, but if we remove the fluff and make the statement shorter and only keep the necessary outline, the contradictions will be more obvious. It’s of course easier to detect the contradiction if we only stick with the main idea with the statement, which is “God ordains whatever events come to pass, but not in such a way so that God ordains the sinful events that come to pass”.

”The [Calvinist] doctrine is, that God decreed, from eternity, whatsoever comes to pass in time — and that according to his own good pleasure — every particular thing, event, and act. I must insist, according to this [Calvinist doctrine], that he decreed the sin of every sinful man — nay, each particular sin of each particular man, and all the sins of all men, long before the human race was created.”

Hence, the Westminster Confession contains a palpable contradiction namely, that God did cause all things, sin included, yet in such a way that He did not cause sin.” Randolph Foster – Objections to Calvinism 

To reconcile the obvious, the Calvinist simply waves his hand and says God is not the author of sin. Double talk.

The following section is from Daniel Gracely

This sentence is a contradiction because it involves two ideas in which each idea makes it impossible for the other idea to be true. Yet under the Westminster Confessions these two opposing propositions form a ’system’ (or synthesis) that is nevertheless held to be true. Let me give another example of a contradiction to make this clearer. Suppose I packed nothing but one apple and one orange for lunch. I might make the following statement:

”Today I ate the apple before I ate the orange so I wouldn’t get sick, yet not in such a way so that the orange was eaten last, which would have made me sick.”

Me: I feel sick.

You: Apparently you got sick by eating the orange first. Whydidn’t you eat the apple first?

Me: did eat the apple first. Don’t you remember what I said? I ate the apple before I ate the orange so I wouldn’t get sick.”

You: Then why are you sick?

Me: I believe I told you why. I said I didn’t eat the orange last, which is why I feel sick.

YouI’m a little confused—which fruit did you eat first?

MeI’ll repeat myself entirely: “Today I ate the apple before I ate the orange so I wouldn’t get sick, yet not in such a way so that the orange was eaten last, which would have made me sick.”

YouBut you’re sick—is that right?

MeNot at all. I said a bit earlier that “I ate the apple before I ate the orange so I wouldn’t get sick.”

As long as I respond with this ”logic” you cannot come to any conclusions about what I said. You cannot know whether I am sick or well, which fruit I ate first, or even if I ate at all. You cannot know what events happened because I affirmed everything, and yet denied everything. Consequently, all the statements you heard are inconclusive. In effect, I used language to say nothing. You could not even determine properly if I was actually describing myself in the above events, since nothing was being said about ‘me.’ I created this confusion by upholding two ideas that were in contradiction to each other, but which I claimed were simultaneously true.

God’s Eternal Decree – to save some and to damn some – despite that both categories are obedient to God calvinism 8

iii. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death. 

John 1:12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name

vi. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ; are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

vii. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice. 

Eze 33:11  Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

1Ti 2:3-4  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  

viii. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation, to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.

Deu 29:29  ”The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Calvinist want you to believe that God has revealed the mysteries to them and no one else, and this could be a good ground for boasting.

Annonser

”I form the light and create darkness, I make peace, and create EVIL”? (Isaiah 45:7)


Is. 45Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create EVIL: I the Lord do all these things (KJV)

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create CALAMITYI, the Lord, do all these things.’ (NKJV)

God was causing physical CALAMITY on Israel due to their disobedience. God cannot even tempt anyone much less causing people to SIN, and the ”evil” he caused was in the form of calamity due to people who rebelled against him contrary to his will. We can read throughout the Bible that God HATES SIN, and that he PUNISHES sinner. Clearly then God is NOT causing people to commit evil acts, because he would never ordain people to do something that he hates – which is SIN.

The word ”evil” is a translation from the Hebrew word ra (Strong’s 7451) and is in KJV translated as: evil,  wickedness, wicked, mischief, hurt, bad, trouble, sore, affliction, ill, adversity, favoured, harm, naught, noisome, grievous, sad, etc.  

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Habakkuk 1:13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Psalm 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Hebrews 1:9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

If a righteous life glorifies God (1 Cor. 6:20), how could evil acts also glorify God?  The calvinist John Piper suggests that God forordains evil because it can ”make the glory of Christ shine more brightly”, but that does not make any sense at all. The truth is that goodness and righteousness glorifies God (Micah 6:8, Rom. 2:7, 10), and evil/sin dishonors God (John 8:49, Rom. 2:8-9, 23). If anyone claims that he commits an evil act for the glory of God, then we know that person is not speaking Biblical truths.

God talks about bringing “evil” (as in calamity) to a city to punish their sins (Neh. 13:18; Jer. 21:10; 25:29; Amos 3:6). Evil i not contrasted with righteousness but with peace. Let’s check a couple of verses which talk about God causing EVIL (when a more appropriate word could have been ”calamity”).

Amos 3:You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be EVIL in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.—10 For they know not to do right, saith the Lord, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.11 Therefore thus saith the Lord God; An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled.

If God is the one ordaining sin/evil, why is there a need to punish people for doing the iniquities that God has caused/ordained/predestined/forced them to do? A just God would never punish anyone for doing his will (or for doing what he caused them to do). That people know not to do right means that they have no intention or willingness to do what is right. This often happens when people have been so accustomed to do evil and hardened their heart to such an extent that they no longer know to do right. God has the right to enforce physical judgments and punishments, and he often does this with the hope of seeing people converted.

12 Thus saith the Lord; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch.14 That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the Lord.

More examples of horrible calamity that awaits those who sins against God. God will visit Israel due to its transgressions, he will smite and he will make their important possessions perish. A better choice would of course had been to be obedient to God in order to prevent all the calamity from happening.

The context of Isaiah 45

Isaiah 45:1 Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to CYRUS, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;—And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

God is addressing Cyrus about what is about to happen in the near future involving himself. Cyrus will be able to achieve much, but not necessarily because he is such a great guy but because God might want to use Cyrus’ plans to punish Israel, maybe with the hope that his people will repent. With other words, God can make use man’s evil plans (or neutral plans) and make them very prosperous by preventing others from interfering with them. This doesn’t mean it’s God’s idea to make people start unholy wars and harm others, but it’s rather his idea to make use of such plans for something good in SOME occasions. God very rarely act in this way but there are a few occasions in the Bible where we can see this happening, and the death of Jesus Christ is of course a famous example of this which you can read about here. (Judas certainly wasn’t forced to betray Jesus in any way.)

For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

Jacob was chosen to be the seed which would bring forth God’s own people, and therefore elect in that respect. The fact that Israel was ”elect” doesn’t mean that all Israel will be saved. Israel was singled out for a reason, and the idea was that this nation would bring light to the rest of the world.

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I  the Lord have created it.

Here is a focus on that God created the heavens and the earth, and the hope is that God’s creation and righteousness would be obvious for all to see and to bring forth salvation.

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

According to this verse there is a risk that people will strive with God, since we can read a severe warning about it. That people strive with God, argue with him and rebel against him shouldn’t really surprise us because the Bible is full of examples to this effect, and of course the same thing can be seen today. Christians certainly don’t act properly all the time and some even blame God for their misfortunes. This verse doesn’t say that the clay CANNOT answer back and strive with the potter, but that he SHOULD not. Each time a person sins, it’s always against the will of God.

10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

Here is another warning needed to be disclosed, due to the risk for that people might act in the opposite way.

12 I have made the earth, and created MAN upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.13 I have raised HIM up in RIGHTEOUSNESS, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.

Here God is pointing out that he is the Creator of all things, and he is speaking about MAN and that he has raised him up in RIGHTEOUSNESS. Despite that man is brought up in righteousness, he hasn’t always remained on that road but walked his own ways. We have all been given the light, but we must make sure to keep walking in the light,. God will apparently also direct all his ways but this doesn’t mean man will always be cooperative.

16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.

If people are making idols they are naturally being disobedient to God, and particularly his first commandment to have no other God beside HIM. If someone is told to be ashamed of himself for something he did, he has clearly acted against God’s will or else he shouldn’t be told to be ashamed of himself but rather be praised. If people are transgressing his laws, there will be confusion among them.

20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

We can read that God is a JUST God (so clearly not a God who predestines people to sin and then turns around and punishes them for it), and a SAVIOR. He asks the Israelites to bring all those idol worshipers near and let them be counselled.

22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Here is a clear universal offer of salvation. All the ends of the earth can be saved, under the condition that they LOOK UNTO GOD. This sounds just like the ordeal with the fiery serpent in the desert which people were asked to look at it in order to be free from their snake wounds.

23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.24 Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.

Apparently people can act against God since we can read that ”all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed”. Surely this couldn’t be something that God predestined them to do. Why would he cause people to work against him?

God sometimes causes ”evil” (or calamity) as a punishment on people who act against his will

Jeremiah 32:23 And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: THEREFORE thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them

1 Kings 9:9 And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: THEREFORE hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.

1 Kings. 14:But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:10 THEREFORE, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.

2 Kings. 21:11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:12 THEREFORE thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.

2 Kings. 22:16 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; THEREFORE my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.

2 Chronicles 7:22 And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: THEREFORE hath he brought all this evil upon them.

Isaiah 47:10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.11 THEREFORE shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.

Jeremiah 11:8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart:THEREFORE I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do: but they did them not.—11 THEREFORE thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them

Joshua 23:15 THEREFORE it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the Lord your God promised you; so shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.

Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, says God to Jeremiah, Jer. 1:5

MageBefore I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5)

This verse shows God’s plans for Jeremiah before he was born, and it doesn’t imply that Jeremiah could not have resisted God’s purpose for him. The case could also be that God foreknew that Jeremiah would accept the ordination, and therefore expressed himself the way he did. Also Paul was appointed for a certain service, and he chose to not be disobedient to it.

Acts 26: 19Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision20But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

There are other verses in the book of Jeremiah that show that people can act in total contrast to God’s will.

Jeremiah 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, NEITHER CAME IT INTO MY HEART.

Jeremiah 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.

The book of Jeremiah also contains many poetic and prophetic descriptions and analogies. There are many verses we can’t take literally. Just look at the rest of the text in the very same chapter; Jeremiah 1.

6Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

But children CAN speak if they are old enough, and surely Jeremiah wasn’t a child when he spoke to God?

8Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

If God predestines everything that comes to pass, then God should really have said ”I will make sure you will not be afraid of their faces” instead of warning/advising Jeremiah for not being afraid of their faces.

9Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Surely God didn’t literally use his hand of flesh and blood to touch Jeremiah’s mouth.

10See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Is the idea that Jeremiah was supposed to literally do all those things, as in literally build something (buildings?) and PLANT something (seeds?) I don’t believe God’s words are hard to understand as long as we recognize the poetic and prophetic descriptions involved.

15For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

Are we supposed to believe that ALL families (100%) of the kingdoms of the north will come and set their thrones (literally?) at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem?

16And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.

Here we can read that God will judge those who have FORSAKEN him, burned incense to other gods and worshiped the works of their hands. Did God WANT them to forsake him, burn incense to other gods and worship the created things instead of their true Creator? Clearly not! Those things are nothing but SINS and God doesn’t want us to sin but to OBEY him. Since the people spoken of were disobedient, it shows man’s free will in action.

17Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

”Gird up thy loins” is a well-known idiom, and once more we can read here that God advises Jeremiah to NOT be dismayed at their faces. IF he would still choose to do this (LEST) God would in his turn confound Jeremiah before them. So whether God would confound Jeremiah or not depended on Jeremiah’s actions.

18For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.

God didn’t literally do all those things that particular day.

19And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.2Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.

In the next chapter Jeremiah 2, we can see more evidence of people acting against the will of God. 

5Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?6Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt—7And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. 8The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.9Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead.10For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.11Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.12Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.13For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.—16Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.17Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?19Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.20For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.21Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?22For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.23How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;—27Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.28But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.29Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.30In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.31O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? 32Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.—35Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.

It’s rather silly to ignore all the above examples of man thwarting God’s hopes and plans, as well as God pleading with man  (just like the rest of Jeremiah, and the rest of the BIBLE) and select one verse out of context just to support a certain doctrine. God could have created us with NO free will if he wanted, but seeing this would make us into robots, he apparently created us with Free Will and THAT would be a godly decision we could NOT change even if we wanted.

As many as were ordained to eternal life believed, but they were not FORCED Acts 13:48


ArkenAnd when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48)

This verse alone  doesn’t mention the criteria for God’s choice to ordain individuals, unlike many other verses which clarify that it’s our FAITH that is the criteria – which is something that is requested from us. Neither does this verse suggest that God’s appointing is the CAUSE for people’s faith. IF God is the one who chooses who will believe, then he is also the one we should blame each time a person does NOT believe – because lack of faith wouldn’t be anyone’s fault but God’s. If people are not able to believe unless God makes them believe, then God is guilty of preventing people from believing, and also for being in the same team as the devil – who is overjoyed when people don’t believe in God.

The word ”ordain” is a translation from the Greek verb tasso (Strong’s 5021) – and the middle voice of this word is tetagmenoi (it’s not necessary to view this word as a perfect passive participle) – and ”includes no idea of preordination or predestination of any kind” according to Adam Clark (Commentary on Acts 13:48). The word simply means “disposed” (to set in position), and therefore the verse could be translated “as many as were disposed (or who set themselves in such a disposition)to eternal life believed”.  Their disposition to receive the gospel is contrasted with the disposition of the Jews just two verse before, and the Jews had chosen another path.

Acts 13:46Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

So those who judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life did not believe, but those who disposed themselves to eternal life believed, and whether they believed or not depended on whether their heart rejected or accepted the Gospel which was preached to them. Those who hardened their hearts did not believe, but those who softened their hearts did believe, and what made the difference was the disposition which they choose to have to the good tidings. If we won’t accept the offer of salvation, we are sending ourselves to hell and that is of course a very bad choice. God himself doesn’t want anyone to perish and he would like that we ALL should repent. This is the same story that we can read in Romans 1 and in the rest of the Bible.

Below we can read about a sorcerer who WITHSTOOD Paul and Barnabas and who apparently perverted the right ways of the Lord. With other words; God’s will doesn’t always happen.  

Acts 13:8But Elyma the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 9Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. 10And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?— 12Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

What would have happened if Paul and Barnabas would not be present to prevent the sorcerer from perverting God’s ways? Paul’s statements make is sound like this wasn’t the first time this sorcerer had perverted the right ways of the Lord. We can also read that the deputy started to believe due to what he saw. If men are elected to believe before the creation of the world, why did the deputy’s faith coincide with what he heard and saw? The Bible says faith comes from hearing the Word of God and we are expected to believe – particularly if we can see God’s works in actions.

Joh. 14:11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

We can read that the Word is sent to men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham., and we can read that the Word is sent to ”WHOSOEVER among you feareth God”. To fear is something we do and if God would have chosen a lucky few to believe in him, wouldn’t we rather be reading something like ”And God will make sure he places godly fear in you so that you can believe”?

Acts 13:26Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

GLAD TIDINGS are declared ”unto you” and why would not ”you” be those mentioned in the verse above and in the rest of verses in the same chapter?

Acts 13:32And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers33God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

Paul continues to address ”men and brethren” and that the forgiveness of sins is preached unto them. We can also read that ”ALL THAT BELIEVE are justified from all things”. This is an offer to all who believe. We are also warned ”BEWARE THEREFORE, lest that come UPON YOU, which is spoken of in the prophets”. So even if Paul is making a wonderful promise to his listeners, there is also a condition for this promise because the risk is always that we can fall away if we don’t walk in the light:

Acts 13:38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

Paul is telling us about despisers, who are those that perish. Does God want people to despise Him and to NOT believe in Him? No of course God wouldn’t want anyone to reject him or rebel against Him.  Moreover, we can read about further warnings from Paul and Barnabas who persuaded people to CONTINUE in the grace of God, which is not so certain they will:

Acts 13:41Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.—43Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

Here again we can read that salvation is offered also to the gentiles and unto the ends of the earth. Not just a limited amount of people:

Acts 13:47For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

Comments from various Bible scholars/teachers

The phrase ”as many as were ordained to eternal life believed ”can be compared with a statement such as ”As many as were set for the test passed it”.  Friberg’s lexicon suggests it could mean “as many as had become disposed toward eternal life” , and Max Zerwick  “who had been set (in the way)” in Zerwick and Grosvenor’s  A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. The NT lexicon BDAG suggests it means “to put in place”, and Henry Alford suggests it means “as many as were disposed” in  The Greek Testament. Thayer’s and Strong’s defines “τάσσω” as determined or disposed and not predetermined or predisposed.  Also John Wesley agrees with this idea.

Adam Clarke:calvinism2

“Acts 13:48: As many as were ordained to eternal life believed – This text has been most pitifully misunderstood. Many suppose that it simply means that those in that assembly who were fore-ordained; or predestinated by God’s decree, to eternal life, believed under the influence of that decree. Now, we should be careful to examine what a word means, before we attempt to fix its meaning. Whatever τεταγμενοι may mean, which is the word we translate ordained, it is neither προτεταγμενοι nor προορισμενοι which the apostle uses, but simply τεταγμενοι, which includes no idea of pre-ordination or pre-destination of any kind. And if it even did, it would be rather hazardous to say that all those who believed at this time were such as actually persevered unto the end, and were saved unto eternal life. But, leaving all these precarious matters, what does the word τεταγμενος mean? The verb ταττω or τασσω signifies to place, set, order, appoint, dispose; hence it has been considered here as implying the disposition or readiness of mind of several persons in the congregation, such as the religious proselytes mentioned Acts 13:43, who possessed the reverse of the disposition of those Jews who spake against those things, contradicting and blaspheming, Acts 13:45. Though the word in this place has been variously translated, yet, of all the meanings ever put on it, none agrees worse with its nature and known signification than that which represents it as intending those who were predestinated to eternal life: this is no meaning of the term, and should never be applied to it. Let us, without prejudice, consider the scope of the place: the Jews contradicted and blasphemed; the religious proselytes heard attentively, and received the word of life: the one party were utterly indisposed, through their own stubbornness, to receive the Gospel; the others, destitute of prejudice and prepossession, were glad to hear that, in the order of God, the Gentiles were included in the covenant of salvation through Christ Jesus; they, therefore, in this good state and order of mind, believed. Those who seek for the plain meaning of the word will find it here: those who wish to make out a sense, not from the Greek word, its use among the best Greek writers, and the obvious sense of the evangelist, but from their own creed, may continue to puzzle themselves and others; kindle their own fire, compass themselves with sparks, and walk in the light of their own fire, and of the sparks which they have kindled; and, in consequence, lie down in sorrow, having bidden adieu to the true meaning of a passage so very simple, taken in its connection, that one must wonder how it ever came to be misunderstood and misapplied. Those who wish to see more on this verse may consult Hammond, Whitby, Schoettgen, Rosenmuller, Pearce, Sir Norton Knatchbull, and Dodd.”

Ordaining elders and pastors by laying on of hands

Illegitimate & Legitimate Ministries

1 Timothy 5:22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

The Laying On of Hands

All of the references in first and second Timothy that I have listed above have to do with ordaining someone to the ministry.  In two of the cases the references have to do with Timothy’s calling in particular while in 1 Timothy 5:22 with those that Timothy would one day ordain.

The laying on of hands was the process used to publicly ordain an individual into a legitimate ministry.  In each of these scriptures the Apostle Paul mentions this process.  Laying on of hands was a visible sign to the Church that someone had the approval of the elders in the Church and that this person should be afforded the same respect that the elders had been given.   We would do well to follow the New Testament pattern as set forth by the Holy Ghost.

No one can have a legitimate ministry in the Church without having been ordained by a legitimate ministry.  It is chain passed all the way down from Christ to this present day. Anyone that launches a ministry and bypasses this process will have an illegitimate ministry.  An illegitimate ministry may look successful to the world around but such a ministry will never be anointed by the Holy Ghost.  It is absolutely essential that each ministry be legitimized by a legitimate ministry.

Today the world is full of illegitimate ministries.  Some one wakes up one morning and decides, “I think I will be a preacher” or “I think I will start a Church.”  Folks, it just does not work this way!  God must do the calling!  And whoever is called of God is not going to mind submitting under those that are called by God until they are mature enough to launch out on their own.  Anyone that is so arrogant that they feel this is not needed is going to be illegitimate.  Even Jesus recognized this process.  Really, no many could ever legitimize His ministry but John the Baptist, representing the Old Covenant, did baptize Jesus in the Jordan River.  What legitimized Jesus ministry was the landing of the Holy Ghost and the voice of His Father from Heaven.  Here is another verse that says much about our standing before God and man:

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. 

Paul reminded Timothy that his ministry was legitimized by the laying on of hands of the Presbytery.  The word, “Presbytery” means “order of elders” and “seasoned elders”.  These leaders had the wisdom to recognize the calling, and to ordain those that were qualified to a legitimate ministry. Without the ordination of the Presbytery these new ministries would not be legitimate.

Paul cautioned Timothy, now a Pastor, to lay hands on no man suddenly.  This is not an admonition, as so many wrongly think, to refrain from striking a person but rather an admonition to not ordain a person too quickly.  The Elders should be cautious about who they recognize as having a legitimate ministry.  These new candidates for the ministry must first prove themselves faithful and must grow up under the watchful eye of an elder minister.  The word elder does imply age but we know that age alone cannot be the criteria, for there are those that are late coming to the faith, while at the same time there are those that have grown up from birth in the Church.

To ordain someone for the ministry is so serious that it requires years of observation, training, and much prayer and fasting, hence Paul’s words, “Lay hands suddenly on no man”.  To do any less is to court certain disaster.

Paul later told Timothy in more detail not to ordain anyone that was too young and inexperienced into the office of a Pastor. The term novice does not necessarily refer to chronology but definitely refers to spirituality.  Look at these words:

1 Timothy 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

The Precedent of the Old Testament

We find this precedent in the Old Testament: in order for a new ministry to be legitimate it had to be acknowledged by a seasoned ministry.  This precedent is observed in many different passages.  We will look at the two of the more prominent relationships in scripture:

1.  Moses and Joshua- The great leader Moses had a young man that followed him for many years.  When Moses was 120 years old, and Joshua was 80 years old, Moses legitimized Joshua’s ministry.  This was done publicly at the Tabernacle.  It was this process that alerted the people to the fact that Joshua was now someone that would hold a spiritual office.

Deuteronomy 31:14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.

2.  Elijah and Elisha- Who has not heard of the exploits of these two famous prophets?  Elijah chose Elisha years before and trained him, and upon his death, he passed the mantle on to Elisha.

2 Kings 2:9-10 9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

When Elisha returned to the followers of Elijah bearing his master’s mantle this is what happened:

2 Kings 2:15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

The Precedent of the New Testament

What is true in the Old Testament is also true in the New.  The same precedent is followed, though with emphasis on the “laying on of hands”.  Those wishing to embark on a ministry had to be ordained by the Elders or their ministry would not have been legitimate.

1.   Jesus and his Apostles- These Apostles were chosen and ordained by Christ to continue His ministry.  Jesus chose each one carefully and placed his blessing upon them.  They would be the ones after Jesus’ ascension to continue this apostolic succession (and no that is not a reference to the Pope).

John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

2.  Choosing the Deacons- In the book of Acts seven Deacons were selected and ordained in the early church.  Notice that the Apostles “Laid hands on them” to legitimize their office and ministry.

Acts 6:5-6 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

3.  Paul and Barnabas chosen- Even Paul had to be ordained to a ministry that would spread the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Acts 9:27-30 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

4.  Paul and Timothy- At the beginning of this article we read the Apostle’s words to Timothy, who Paul often referred to as his “son in the faith”.  Paul reminded Timothy of his ordination and “the laying on of hands”.  The legitimate ministry of the Apostle Paul passed on a legitimate ministry to Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

5.  Paul and Titus- Titus was another young man that came up under the tutelage of the Apostle Paul.  A specific reference to Titus’ calling is not recorded but there is very little doubt that Paul followed the same pattern set forth in the New Testament.  Paul, through his legitimate standing with God, had the authority to place Titus as the Pastor of the Church at Crete.

Titus 1:4-5 4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. 5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 

Final Words

It is so important that we take note that God calls who He chooses.  Sometimes the choice of God may not be that choice we would have made.  Any person that has the call of God on their life should submit to a legitimate ministry for tutelage and growth.  If someone refuses to then they will become puffed up, arrogant, and could even backslide.  At the very worse they will continue in some capacity of ministry and most likely do damage to many.

As a Pastor for the last twenty-four years I have seen many a “hot-shot” pass through ready to set the world ablaze.  They had the fire but they really had no discipline.  Some planted their feet and grew and today they have a fruitful ministry (to date we have young ministers that grew up in our Church working in the ministry in four different states), while others were impatient and thought they knew more than everyone else.  Most of those today have not only fallen from the ministry but have also fallen from the faith with their lives completely in shambles.

No matter how much fire you feel burning on the inside, there is never any harm in learning how to keep the fire burning.  If you want a legitimate ministry then you need to seek out a Moses or a Paul.  Only a legitimate ministry can ordain you into a legitimate ministry.  There are no exceptions.

The original article by my friend Mark. Herridge Sr. can be found here