Tag Archive | predestine

God works all things after the counsel of his own will? Eph. 1:11

secret willGod’s will is that man should use his free will and seek him (see Acts 17)

God has a sovereign freedom to accomplish whatever he chooses, like guaranteeing the proper inheritance to the children of God (which are those who are following Jesus). The promise is to those and no one else.

The following verse is a popular Calvinistic proof text, often quoted (by itself) to support the idea that everything under the sun occurs precisely according to God’s plans, down to every single detail:

Eph. 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel  of his own will

The verse of course say no such thing (that God’s will always happens), unless we are talking about his will to give man free will and make man responsible for his own actions. Note that it says ”works” all things and not ”cause” all things … The verse does not say that all thoughts, words and deeds are predestined by God, but it rather explains what God does, in terms of providing wonderful promises through Christ.

Councel in Eph. 1:11 is a translation from the Greek noun βουλή (boulé, Strong’s 1012) and could also be translated deliberate wisdom. This noun derives from the verb βούλομαι (boulomai, Strong’s 1014) and means will, intend, desire or wish. 

Some theologians claim that it is also about God planning and arranging all physical circumstances in order to achieve his exact plans which always take place down to the finest detail. This is something the Bible does not say.

The noun boulé occurs 12 times in the KJV Bible. Examples:

Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.

Quite clearly God’s counsel can be rejected.

Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 

If God caused and scripted Calvary in all details, why does the text not say so? Instead we can read that his foreknowledge was involved. Knowing about future events is not the same as causing future events.

Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul is clearly not a Calvinist since he does not relax and trust that God’s will always happens and that the elect will remain elect (and the non-elect remain non-elect). He warns people with tears night and day because disciples will be drawn away from the gospel. Why does he do that if nothing can go wrong but always turn out as God wants? Paul rather believes the scriptures, and understands that prayers can make a difference!

Acts 27:12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. — 41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

1 Cor. 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.  

Unfortunately Calvinists usually believe that God decrees ”whatsover comes to pass” and are keen to interpret “work all things after the counsel of His will” as though everything pans out exactly as God wills it, both good and bad. That would include God deterministically scripting every murder, rape and abortion that will ever take place! The text, however, must not be read in this sweeping and all-inclusive way. The “all things” refers to all things that God accomplishes in Christ (in a general sense) because this is what the previous verses talk about.

Eph. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ

Paul provides examples of the above mentioned blessings and promises, which are only meant for those who are IN CHRIST which is the condition for salvation. The eternal purpose is that God’s children, his church will be able to look forward to a guaranteed inheritance waiting for them in the heavenly places. Again, the condition is to be IN CHRIST, and if someone does not endure to the end that person is no longer IN CHRIST and the promises are therefore not tied to him. The ”salvation bus” is predestined to go to heaven and guaranteed to be blessed, but who is in and who remains to the end? That is totally up to us and we know the conditions which are presented to us. Those who are in Christ are considered to be his holy children. The text does not say that the promises are provided with no conditions.

It might be a help to ask oneself what is predestined according to His purpose. In order to get the answer one must of course go back to the previous verses, because a verse can never be read in a vacuum. The answer is again ”the inheritance in Christ! The verse right (v. 12) after says ”That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ”, and v. 13 continues to talk about ”trusting” and ”believing”. It is possible that Paul includes the very first belivers in this sentence, and we should note that ”trusted” is an action that people might choose to do. God will not ”trust” for us or instaed of us. It is rather a condition for salvation. V. 19 says ”the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. The believers are in Christ – again, the condition.

If I would tell someone about my work and say that ”all things” worked out perfectly fine – maybe even after the counsel of my will – the listener would not assume that I just claimed that every single thing in the entire world worked out absolutely great, and that I have solved all the world’s problems. Neither would the listener assume that I claimed to be the cause of all things that I said took place.

Compare:

Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Paul is here talking about being content no matter what state he is in (in both good and bad circumstances) and to be able to do the good works which God has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Paul is not including everything under the sun in ”all things”, but the term must of course be understood in its context. The verse certainly does not say that byall things” you can do all forms of evil and wickedness through God who strengthens you. Similarly, Eph. 1:11 does not say that the “all things” would include evil and wickedness.

All things work out for good for all people  -more than in a general term?free will 3

Paul promises us in Rom. 8 that all things work out together for good to them that LOVE GOD, which of course is a condition for salvation. If Paul had meant that all things work out for good for all people everywhere, including all details from God’s perspective, then he could have skipped the condition of having to love God.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 

In the same chapter Paul explains which conditions that apply for escaping condemnation: 1) You must be IN JESUS, and 2) you must not walk after the flesh but after the Spirit. This is something that WE must make sure to do, and God will not do it for us:

Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. — 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

He goes on to explain, that if we live according to the flesh (not an obligation), we cannot please God. The solution to the problem is of course to NOT live according to the flesh but after the Spirit:

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.

Paul explains that we definitely do not have to live after the flesh. The choice is clear; if you live after the flesh you will die, and if you live after the Spirit you will live. Who are the sons of God? Those who have chosen to be led by the Spirit of God. If someone lives after the flesh, he can certainly not blame God for it but only himself. The better option is always to live by the Spirit in order to get life:

Rom. 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Paul tells us about the same wonderful promises of glorification just as in Eph. 1, but again, only for those who are God’s children who live after the Spirit:

Rom. 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Paul repeats again that all things work together for good to them that love God. The ”calling” is widespread because we know from the parable of the King’s wedding feast (Matt. 22) that many of those who were called to participate in the feast (they were even on the guest list) declined to go. One person who actually did go to the feast was still thrown out because he had neglected to wear appropriate clothes (his own responsibility). We are justified when we are cleansed from our past sins, and after this point our goal is to be conformed into the image of Jesus which is something to look forward to. We have an assurance in the hope of salvation while on earth, as long as we abide in Jesus of course. Rom. 8:29 is referring to those in v. 28, who love God. Do read about Rom 8:28-30 here.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

God provides provisions and works all things after the counsel of his will, but he does not cause people to act according to some predestined plans. If God forces people to think and act in a certain way, what is the point of judging them for things they cannot possibly avoid?:

1 Cor.10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would prefer that they would repent in order to live:

Ez. 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

If someone ends up with an interpretation which makes God the greatest culprit and a lover of sin, this is clearly an erroneous understanding. A religion that blames the sin of all mankind on God is clearly incorrect. We should rather use this verse as a filter:

Ja. 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 

We are requested to not excuse our sin by suggesting ”God made me do it”. God does not tempt anyone, much less causes anyone to sin, but in order to save the philosophy of Calvinism God must be blamed for the sin of all mankind even though it is blasphemy? Calvinists might try to solve the problem with ”it’s a miracle” or ”God’s ways are higher than our ways”, but in that case anyone can introduce contradictions into the Bible and excuse them by saying ”God’s ways are higher than our ways” and ”who are we to question God?”. 

It is a lot safer to agree with the Bible which says that God’s will does not always happen. Yet, he is still in control (does not mean micro management) and all things work out wonderfully for those who love him.

The philosophy of Calvinism more important than GOD for Calvinists?

tulips-2Why is it so important for Calvinists to believe in Calvinism, and that God predestined people to be elect and non-elect before they were even born?

Do they LIKE this story and the way it turns God out to be?

Is it because Calvinism is taught in the Bible? Or is it because Calvinism COULD be taught in the Bible if we ignore certain verses and read other verses in a vacuum to make the text conform to Calvinism? MUST we read the Bible as though Calvinism is taught in it, or is it possible that we can get another outcome (more flattering to God) without having to ignore or twist any verses at all? I would of course vote for the latter. Below are the options as I see it, and the absolutely most negative aspect of Calvinism is that it makes God out to be the author of sin, turning him into a tyrant who prevents most people from being saved. Or maybe there is something even worse – namely the idea that he does this FOR HIS GLORY! The mere thought should make a Christian cringe.

The Calvinistic option 

Note that I do not believe there are any Calvinists who are able to be consistent with their own doctrines, and consequently I do not believe they strictly believe what I write below. I believe they are way smarter than their own doctrines and that they more or less choose to be non-consistent Calvinists. Some try to be more consistent than others and openly admit that they believe God predestines even child molesters to commit their crimes, whereas others do all kind of gymnastics in order to avoid the absurd outcome that Calvinism demands.

  • This alternative makes God responsible for our actions, including our sins. Bringing up the topic of compatibilism does not help, because we cannot make mutually exclusive ideas become true just by describing an invented process with fancy words.
  • The idea is that nothing comes to pass against the will of God (at least if Westminster Confession of Faith is valid). Meaning that sin therefore (if we want to be consistent) happens according to his will. This God apparently also has at least two opposing wills, and one of his wills is attributed to his desire that get people to sin in order to accomplish his purposes.
  • Since God is the author of sin, he is someone who sadly does not make sense and is therefore difficult to approach with a sincere heart. How is it possible to love someone above everything else, knowing that he has predestined most people to be wicked non-elect sinners before they were even born, and even gets so mad at them for being what he created them to be that he sends them to hell?
  • Jesus did not die for everybody but only a select few, indicating that God never intended to offer salvation to all in the first place.
  • A Calvinist has good reason to be boasting, considering that God chose them to be the bright wise stars in the world and not others.
  • Ja. 1:13 must be ignored since it says that God does not tempt any man. Calvinists takes a step further since Calvinism teaches that God not only tempts people but makes them sin.
  • Why Jesus had to die on the cross is a complete mystery is Calvinism is true. Could the elect not remain elect unless Jesus died on the cross? Did Jesus die because something went wrong? Something against God’s plans? Exactly what went wrong, and against God’s will?
  • Hell is a place replete with people who have obeyed God to 100% (by being the wicked non-elect sinners that God predestined them to be.)
  • The word ”sovereign” is added to the Bible (in relation to KJV), which is not a problem per se, but the Calvinistic interpretation of this non-Biblical word is. By excluding the possibility that God could very well have created man with free will, this word must then by necessity mean that only God’s will could be in force on earth, leading yet again to that sin happens according to his will.
  • Preaching and praying do not make any sense if Calvinism is true. The elect cannot perish, and the non-elect can never be saved. Must we do these things because God has told us to? What will then be the horrible outcome if we do not obey?
  • Why all the fuss about sin, if Calvinism is true? If the idea is that nothing comes to pass against his will?

The free will option.

  • This alternative makes MAN responsible for his own actions, which means that sin must be blamed on man and not on God.
  • God does not want anyone to perish and there is much joy in heaven each time a person repents and can get his life restored. God’s sovereignty is not disturbed just because he chose to create man with free will and responsibility for his own actions. God does not have contradictory wills, and every single time a persons sins it is always against his will.
  • Man sins according to his own will and against the will of God. This means that the God makes perfect sense when he constantly persuades people to avoid sin. God is holy and therefore disobedience separate us from him. We are created to seek him and find him (Acts. 17).
  • Jesus died for everyone, showing his true love for every man. We are told to be merciful just like he is.
  • We have no reason to be boasting about our salvation since we are 100% lost without God. We have no authority to forgive ourselves our own sins, but we are completely dependent on the mercy of God. He expects us to repent for our sins, and doing so is not ”boasting” since all has been given this ability.
  • Freewillers totally trust the Biblical information that God does not tempt any man and does NOT make people sin.
  • Jesus death on the cross makes perfect sense. Something went terribly wrong and against God’s plans (sin), and there is no forgiveness without sacrificed blood. God was not surprised that Adam and Eve disobeyed him since he created them with the ability to love/hate and obey/disobey, and naturally then disobedience was a possible outcome. This is why it also makes sense that God made sure to warn Adam and Eve ahead of time about sinning, telling them that sin produces death. He told them NOT to eat, and they ate.
  • Hell is a place for disobedient people who have acted against God’s commandments. They had the opportunity to be sent to heaven but due to their pride and their choice to not be followers of God, they deserve hell.
  • Freewillers do not believe anything is too difficult for God, which means he is capable of creating man with free will and making man responsible for his own actions.
  • Preaching and praying make perfect sense, since by doing so we can make influences on the spiritual world and the outcome of things.

Why is not the Freewill option above the better one, and the only option that saves us from having to blaspheme God by suggesting that he somehow orchestrates sin?calvinism-41

I have spoken to many Calvinists and I sense that most of them do not even want the Freewill option to be true because then they would have to give up Calvinism. It seems like saving Calvinism is much more important than God himself. They have all chances in the world to study on apologetic sites that could help them overcome their Calvinistic hurdles and help them to see the Bible in  a different light, but they decline. They prefer to stick with their Calvinistic teachers and books, and whenever they run into a contradiction they choose to go to such sources to see if there is a solution. They would not consider going to freewill sources, since their goal is to save Calvinism. Saving the character of God from being attacked is not important? It is as though they already have their mind made up. They might ask me if they same does not apply to me – maybe I have also made up my mind beforehand? OK, but does it not make more sense to start off checking those sources that save God from being a selfish tyrant, and where there are no mutually exclusive contradictions that I have to battle?

Many Calvinists commonly ask why it would be a better alternative if God created
people knowing that there would be people denying him. It would be a better alternative since it would place the responsibility and culpability with man and not on God. Knowing something is a possibility ahead of time is not the same thing as predestining it to take place. Instead of ”God made me do it”, a person must face the consequences for his own choices.

Even if it is not a perfect example, I often compare it with a Christian parent living in a secular country (much like my own) and where she/he ”knows” that not all of his/her children will grow up to be believers, or even good respectful citizens, due to the agnostic/atheistic propaganda taught in school, among friends, in the media, and everywhere. Even if the Bible would be taught at home, and even if the parents would spend a lot of time encouraging their children to maintain their Christian faith, it is also close to a certainty that not all their children will make the better choice. So would the parent therefore decide to not have any children at all due to this sad reality? I have not met one person yet with this approach. Even if the parent would be told through a prophesy that not all his/her children would be saved, the parent might still decide to have children. If some of the children would turn out to be agnostics as adults, it would not be the parent’s fault. Each person must be responsible for his own actions and choices in life.

There are Calvinists who admit that there are contradictions in Calvinism, but then they often try to excuse their hopeless situation with this verse:

Is. 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For them this verse means that even if they have no idea how to solve their theological contradictions now, they expect to do so when they get to heaven. A freewiller, however, does not have to wait until heaven before the Bible makes sense, because there are no verses which must be ignored or twisted.

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

tulips 3Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, YE DO ALWAYS RESIST THE HOLY GHOST: as your fathers did, so do ye. Acts 7:51 

15 examples of failed attempts to show that God’s will always happens below, but first this…

The best way to avoid misunderstandings, such as the preposterous idea that God decrees absolutely all things, is to read the context! Anyone can take a Bible verse here and there and build any doctrine at all, but it is a lot safer to read the entire chapter to see the intent of the author. It is particularly important to not build a new doctrine based on poetry or proverbs, since such wordings might be vague and oftentimes should not be taken literally. Also books like Job contains large amount of poetic expressions, such as this example:

Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and NAKED SHALL I RETURN THITHER: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

We might also be able to find intentional hyperboles or intentional exaggerations to make a point:

Matt. 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

It is clear that God’s will does not always come about in this world:

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.

Notice that John writes ”he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”. If all people everywhere and at all times did the will of God, then all people would abide for ever. Clearly all people will not be saved, and that is due to their disobedience – due to acting contrary to God’s will.

This is the filter we should use when reading the Bible:

Ja. 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:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

God does not tempt anyone, much less causes people to sin. We should never blame man’s sins on God at any time. In order to be consistent with TULIP, Calvinists must disagree with all verses which tell us that sin happens against God’s will. For example, Calvinist R.C. Sproul says:

“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, Chosen By God: Know God’s Perfect Plan for His Glory and His Children)

”Sovereign” and ”sovereignty” are words not included in the Bible (KJV), which means they must be defined. Free-willers do not have a problem with a sovereign God, but they certainly do not agree with the Calvinistic interpretation of this word. Calvinists normally understand this word to mean something like ”God decrees ALL THINGS at all times, resulting in that every single action taken by man always turns out exactly as God wants. He can do anything at all and nothing is too difficult for him – except from creating man with free will”.

Some favorite verses by those who prefer blaming God for man’s sin

Example 1:calvinsm 49

Rom. 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

My comment: Has it ever happened throughout history that someone has found fault in God and his actions? Yes, right? The Bible is replete with examples of people who refuse to obey him, rebel against him and cause him to be angry. So this verse is not what man cannot do but should not do. If God’s will is to offer salvation also for the gentiles (showing mercy also to them) and make faith the condition for salvation rather than being born a Jew under the Mosaic law, then who is able to resist this decision? No one. Who can resist his will? The context and the rest of the Bible render it impossible to interpret Rom. 9:18 as ”Therefore he makes salvation possible for only some individuals, whereas he blocks the rest from ever being able to seek him or find him.” Such an interpretation would make God alone guilty of man’s unbelief, and hell would be a place where innocent and rejected people would end up who had no chance to be saved (since God successfully prevented them from believing in him). Does that sound like the God of the Bible? You can read more about Romans 9 and Pharao’s heart here, here and here.

Example 2:

Eph. 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,— 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

My comment: The promises in Eph. 1-2 are tied to those who are IN CHRIST, and being IN HIM is an essential foundation and the condition for salvation. From the creation of the world God knew there would be a ”body of Christ” (the church, consisting of believers), and a special place is prepared for them in God’s kingdom where this body of Christ is predestined to go. So the ”salvation bus” is certainly going there, but who will be the passengers on the bus and who will endure to the very end? That is up to us. If we are in Christ we know that we are heading for God’s kingdom if we remain in the bus. The ”us” spoken about in the verse are true believers and therefore ”adopted” as God’s children. (This type of adoption should not be compared to what we call ”adoption” today, where parents are being promised a baby who they later legally adopt as their legal child.)

Compare also with this verse:

”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

So the order of even is 1) receive and believe in him, and then 2) become children of God. You can read more about Eph. 2 here.

Example 3:

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

My comment: We are totally lost without Jesus who is our Savior, so he is rightfully the author and finisher of our faith. He made the wonderful salvation plan possible for us (he died for us on the cross), and he has promised to never cast us out but rather give us a crown of life if we endure to the end. It is Jesus from start to finish. Hebr. 12:2 should not be interpreted as ”Jesus causes certain people to have faith and is responsible for guarding their faith to the very end, whereas the rest are doomed from birth since Jesus never died for them or enabled them to get saved”.  Read more here.

Example 4

Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure

My comment:

The verses surrounding the above verse are:

”Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 12 Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness”

Also this passage focuses on God’s mighty power, and that there is no one like him. Knowing things in advance is not the same as predestining things in advance. Calvinists make a hen out of a feather when it comes to the word ”declaring”, as though this would mean that God predestines all things. According to v. 12 there are apparently people who are stouthearted and far from righteous, which is normally something God does not approve of. It is a silly idea that God would predestine people to be stouthearted. ”My councel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure”. Does this include creating man with free will and making man responsible for his actions, and sometimes even punish man for his sins?

Example 5:

Dan. 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Comment:

Yes God does according to this will, and since he is our Creator and knows best. It would not make sense to argue with him or suggest that he should not have done things the way he did. Unfortunately, people have indeed complained to God and continued to question his motives (and sometimes his mere existence), so this verse is not about what man cannot do but should not do. Could it be God’s will to punish the fallen angels (who acted contrary to his will), and to create man with free will? Or is this outside his capabilities?

Example 6:

Job 42:2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.3 Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.

Comment: The above verses are from KJV, just like the rest of the verses. There are other Bible versions which Calvinists might prefer because of other expressions, but John 42:2 only confirms that God knows everything there is to know.

Example 7:

Lam. 3:37 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?

Comment: This is also about a general statement about God’s magnificent power rather than a teaching that God predestines all of our steps (including sin). We can continue reading in the same context:

”39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?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.43 Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied.”

Here we read about man complaining about the punishments for his sins (apparently it is possible to complain to God after all), and ”sins” would be activities against God’s will. The advice to ”turn again to the Lord” means that people previously turned their backs on God. The fact that people ”transgressed and have rebelled” yet again means that we are able to act contrary to God’s will. Furthermore, we can read about God being ”angry” and have ”persecuted” people due to their actions (transgressions and rebellion), which is more evidence of man’s free will.

Example 8:

Exodus 4:11 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

Comment: The context concerns Moses’ reluctance to becoming Israel’s leader due to his (Moses) shortcomings in relation to his ability to public speaking. Moses said: ”O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” God can accomplish things despite our shortcomings, and he can even heal people. If he asks us to do something, we can totally trust that he will help us overcome our weaknesses. That seems to be the gist of what God wanted to express when Moses argued against God about his shortcomings. Moses had to be persuaded, and he finally gave in after a conversation with God. God is not suggesting that he is the one who forces people to be deaf, blind, poor, etc, but he rather explains that he is the author of all Creation and he can be trusted.

Example 9:

1 Sam. 2:6 The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.

Comment: The surrounding verses are these:

6 The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.— 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them.9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.”

This is a description with poetic expressions describing God’s power and his future judgment of mankind. Depending on how we choose to live our live, based on our situation and opportunities, we will be punished or rewarded. Read what the author says about the poor. Will God always lift up the beggar and set him among princes here on earth? No, this is not a universal promise for the present dimension but for the future.

calvinism 40Example 10:

Isaiah 45: 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

Comment: The above is in the KJV, but in the NKJV and in many other Bible versions it is rather ”calamity” instead of ”evil”. The Hebrew word could mean both, as well as a few other alternatives. God can indeed cause physical calamity just like he did when he caused a global flood to hit the earth. Physical pain or punishments caused by God does not mean that he causes people to sin. There is no darkness in God.

Example 11:

2 Chron. 25:20 But Amaziah would not hear; for it came of God, that he might deliver them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought after the gods of Edom.

Comment: Apparently the reason that ”it came of God” that Amaziah would not hear – resulting in that he and his people were delivered into the hand of their enemies – was because they turned to other gods in Edom. There you have the reason. Did God want them to turn to false gods? Hardly. The most important commandment is to have no other gods but God. Compare with Romans 1 where we can read about God giving up people to a reprobate mind due to their ungodly attitudes. At one point Amaziah followed the Lord, but he later turned away.

”27 Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the Lord they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish: but they sent to Lachish after him, and slew him there.”

Example 12

Jer. 10:23 O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to DIRECT HIS STEPS

The context is this:

”21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.Behold, the noise of the report has come, And a great commotion out of the north country, To make the cities of Judah desolate, a den of jackals.—25 Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.”

Comment: Notice above that that there are people who have not sought God, like heathens or families that did not call on the name of the Lord. Clearly this is not according to God’s will. A man is not supposed to turn his back on God by not seeking his guidance, and walk on his own ways. If a man does not seek God, he will not be guided on the right path. Read more here.

Example 13

1 Sam. 2:25 If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them.

Comment: According to Adam Clarke the particle ki, translated ”because”, is better translated ”therefore” just like it does in many other parts of the Bible. (Young’s literal translation reads ”though”.) This means that God wanted to kill the individuals in the story due to their refusal to listen to their father’s voice. This is a more logical translation than rendering the passage as though God wants to kill certain people for no reason, and manipulates them into not listening to their father and then proceeds to take this as an excuse for killing them. That would be circular reasoning and would turn God into an unrighteous criminal. Sadly many Calvinists would rather turn God into a monster than letting go with their precious philosophy of Calvinism.

Example 14 – Psalms

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

Psalm 135:6 Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

Psalm 33:10 The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

My comment: Psalms often contain poetry which mirrors the reality in many ways, so we must approach the verses with this in mind. Yes, God has always done whatever he has pleases, but naturally this could include creating man with free will. What the context of these psalms has in common is the declaration that God is the great and magnificent Creator, and that false gods (which are no gods) cannot compete with his wonderful powers.

Psalm 33:15 says ”He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works”, which is a description of how God has originally made man and also judges their work. It does not say that God micromanages every single step that man takes, nor that man does not have a will of his own. If you think ”The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought” means that God first manipulates the heathens to come up with various evil schemes, and then turns around and ”heroically” halts these plans that he himself initiated, then you are mistaken. It is just a poetic description of God’s power which the heathens cannot interfere with. The verse does not say that God either prevents people from sinning, or predestines their sin. During Jesus’ second coming, he will only have to breathe on the son of perdition to destroy him completely (2 Thess. 2:8), so the power of God is indeed great.

Example 15 – Proverbs

Prov. 16:4 The Lord has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. (NKJV)

Prov. 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

Prov. 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

My comment: Also proverbs contains poetry, so we must keep this in mind. Instead of having to ignore loads of verses which show that God is angry with sin and where he desires all men to obey his commandments, it is better to read the more vague proverbs and psalms in context and not superimpose them over clear verses. The first verse just shows God’s right to handle all judgment of mankind, whether people are righteous or unrighteous. Read more about these verses here. Neither of these verses contains promises that God predestines every all things. That would put all the blame on God.

calvinism 27If God’s will always happens, then why does the Bible say the opposite?

Mark 3:35  For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.

I thought all people did the will of God? Are all people his brothers, sisters and mothers?

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”? If everyone would always do the will of God then everyone would enter the kingdom 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”? 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, unless sinning is according to his will.

1 Timothy 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 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.

God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Has this so far happened?

Heb. 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Clearly people constantly act against the will of God. Today and in the past.

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.

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.

FREE WILL is in the Bible, as well as CHOOSE

narrow gateIt’s interesting that words such as sovereign, sovereignty, depraved and depravity are not mentioned in the Bible (KJV), but free will, and choose are used several times – in relation to man’s ability to choose between two or more options. These words must not be present in the Bible for them to be true, because the Bible is replete with people who make choices – and often very bad choices against God’s will. We certainly can’t accomplish all the things we want in this world, but free will is often labeled as the ability to make contrary choices.

The lack of a word in the Bible is of course not necessarily evidence for that the concept of this word is non-existent in the Bible, because most christians believe in both monotheism and the trinity without the actual presence of these words. However, if the words themselves are not present in the Bible, then at least the concept of them must be there – just as the case is with monotheism and trinity. Problems start to arise when people change meanings of words, or add ideas into the Bible that simply aren’t there.

God is ”sovereign” but certainly not in the way that reformed believers suggest. A sovereign God can do whatever he wants, including creating man with free will.

Matt. 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into thekingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

He who does the will of God the Father? I thought 100% of all people always did his will – in the calvinistic world?

Free will in the Bible

The following verses are mainly about man’s free will offerings, but if all of our offers are based on God’s decree and predestination, why even using expressions such as ”and of every one that willingly offered a free will offering unto the Lord” as though there is a free will and an actual choice involved? In the reformed view, are not 100% of all offers based on God’s will alone? So why all these confusing ”free will” terms? Isn’t it also strange that words must change meanings in order to fit with a preferred doctrine? It seems like some words have one meaning outside of the Bible, and another meaning inside the Bible – such as the term Free Will. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Leviticus 22:18 Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the Lord for a burnt offering;

Numbers 15:3 And will make an offering by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the Lord, of the herd or of the flock

Ezra 3:5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the Lord.

Ezra 7:16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:

Psalm 54:6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good.

Hosea 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

”Choose” – chooseExamples where God is asking man to choose between options, and/or indications of that man can choose the wrong path

Deut. 30:10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.—14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:20 That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.—19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.20 If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.—27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.

2 Sam. 24:10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me. (+ 1 Chron. 21:10-11)

Prov. 1:28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Prov. 3:31 Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.

Is. 41:23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.24 Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you.

Is. 56:4 For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

Is. 65:12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.

Is. 66:4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

Ez. 21:18 The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying,19 Also, thou son of man, appoint thee two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come: both twain shall come forth out of one land: and choose thou a place, choose it at the head of the way to the city

Phil. 1: 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which isfar better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, (NKJV)

”Chose” and ”chosen” – Examples in past tense, where God is asking man to choose between options, and/or indications of that man can choose the wrong pathcalvinism 4

 Gen. 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Gen. 13:11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other

Jud. 10:13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation

1 Sam. 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.10 And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.—18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; (1 Sam. 12:13)

Ps. 119:173 Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.

Is. 66:3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. 4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

Jer. 8:1 At that time, saith the Lord, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves:—3 And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the Lord of hosts.—5 Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.6 I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 14:7 So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: 8 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. (NKJV)

Acts 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:

Acts 15:40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

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.