Part II: Do We Have Freewill?


For nineteen hundred years many Christians have condemned the Jews for “killing Christ”.   Yet Peter states to the leaders of the Jews regarding Jesus that: this Man delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23 NAS).   The word predetermined” as used in this instance, should invoke a great many questions in the minds of Christians.   Did the Jews and Romans crucify Christ?   Commenting on this verse, Barnes' Notes states: “The fact, moreover, that this was predicted, shows that it was fixed or resolved on. No event can be foretold, evidently, unless it be certain that it will take place. The event, therefore, must in some way be fixed or resolved on beforehand”. 

Speaking about the Hand of God upon the hearts and minds of the people, Peter and John said: Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen” (Acts 4:27-28 NIV).   What the two disciples are conveying to the reader is that every event that took place at the crucifixion was directly brought about by the Hand of God acting upon the hearts and minds of the people.   Regardless of whether we understand it, in or to begin the journey of walking in The Way, it is imperative for us to acknowledge the validity of this biblical statement.   Moreover, if this is true, we must ask ourselves the question: How can man resist the power and will” of what God “decided beforehand should happen?   How could the Jews resist the Will of God? 

What is clearly conveyed to the reader is that the biblical teaching regarding the crucifixion was a pre-planned drama that God brought about by imposing His supernatural and all-pervasive Will upon a group of people who were little more than puppets on God's stage of life.   Unless Christians are ready to adopt the doctrine that man is more powerful than the Will of God, then they must be ready to acknowledge the fact that those who brought about the events which culminated in the crucifixion, had little to no choice in what transpired. 

This biblical fact is seen quite clearly documented in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia under the heading of Foreknow, where it writes: Thus, in Peter's speeches in Acts the predestination which finds expression in (Acts 4:28) is practically identified with the term prognosis in (2:23). Everything which happened to Jesus took place in accordance with ‘the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,’ so that nothing happened except that which God had foreordained”. 

Who killed Christ?   “God had willed the death of Jesus (John 3:16) and the death of Judas (Acts 1:16)”, writes Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament, and then adds: but that fact did not absolve Judas from his responsibility and guilt (Luke 22:22)”.   

If Judas was one of the instruments by which God carried out what God Himself predestined -- and the scriptures tell us that both God and Satan (Lk 22:3) worked in concert by using their supernatural powers to induce Judas to betray Jesus -- and Judas was predestined for the purpose that he performed -- it is imperative that we ask the question as to how can Judas be held responsible for what God brought about?   

For over a thousand years of Christian history it was unlawful to publish or reveal the Bible to the people.   When it eventually was, and the reformers in the Middle Ages were called upon to explain its paradoxes and inconsistencies, they could not.   Why?   Because they did not possess the same mindset as did the authors of the scriptures.   In reaction to the many paradoxical truths that they were unable to explain, the doctrine which was adopted by Luther and the reformers is seen embodied in Luther's words: Reason, is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but - more frequently than not - struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God”.   Why?   Because Luther himself was a priest in the Roman Church, and the very foundation of their system of belief was carnal, and was devoid of the understanding needed to synthesize and harmonize the paradoxes of the Bible.   While it can be said that they did the best they could under the conditions of the time in which they lived, that Luther never progressed beyond a very elementary understanding of the scriptures has continued to plague believers to this very day.    

The great error upon which Luther and the other reformers founded the Protestant Church can only be seen when we relate the problem that they saw in the scriptures with respect to man's other areas of life.   When confronted with a difficulty, the solution is not to surrender one's power of mind -- but rather, to re-examine the manner in which one is thinking.    

  Was Judas Accountable? How can Judas be held accountable for what God brings about on both His own, and in conjunction with Satan -- and if God and Satan are eternal opponents, what caused the two opposite powers to act in concert in order to move Judas to betray Christ?   We could speculate and say that Judas was an evil man who would have perhaps done this misdeed anyway -- but so long as God's hand was upon him, and Satan and God acted together to bring about these events, the final choice was simply not his to make.   Moreover, if we are to even begin to comprehend the powerful supernatural influences that effect the manner in which we think and live our lives, we must also ask the question: How did God induce Satan to move in accordance with what was preordained, unless God also maintains control over Satan?   Without the understanding of these questions, it is impossible for us to ever begin to comprehend the true spiritual message of the scriptures. 

The problem is brought into a more clear focus in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia where it is written: It is remarkable that Peter in one and the same sentence speaks of the death of Christ from two quite distinct points of view. (1) From the historical standpoint, it was a crime perpetrated by men who were morally responsible for their deed ('him… ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay'). (2) From the standpoint of Divine teleology, it was part of an eternal plan ('by the determinate,' etc.). No effort is made to demonstrate the logical consistency of the two ideas”.   From the perception of the carnal mind of man, there can be no consistency of the two ideas -- but if the believer is to obtain the salvation they desire, it is absolutely necessary that they are able to merge these two contradictory facts into one abiding truth. 

Once it is realized that generation upon generation of Gentile believers has, for the most part, skimmed over these many verses without so much as a question of how these biblical concepts -- the working alliance of God and Satan, and the preordination and predestination of the events in the life of man -- effects their own life, it is easy to understand why the masses of believers never progress beyond the superficial “milk” doctrines of the Bible.   Moreover, because believers reject the counsel of the Lord, and turn instead to other men to teach them -- and embrace concepts that their teachers themselves are incapable of understanding -- the Bible and its may paradoxes will continue to remain a great enigma.   The result is that the flock of believers are held captive in a pasture of spiritual stagnation by the very shepherds they look to for guidance. 

If man is to even begin to understand both the scriptures and the life he is presently living, it is absolutely necessary to comprehend how man can be held responsible for what God has brought about?   Quoting the Adam Clark Commentary: “…neither the Jews nor Romans had any power here, but what was given to them from above”.   How could the Jews and Romans have killed Christ, if neither “had any power” over their actions, because the event was brought about by the power of God?   When Peter said: Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus (Acts 1:16 NAS); Peter is stating that all of the people who were involved were mere pawns in the hand of God -- who had hardened the hearts of the Jews and Romans in order to fulfill what the Holy Spirit had predicted in the scriptures. 

These “two lines” spoken of by Rev. Spurgeon, is again seen in the words of Jesus when he warned: For the Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (Mark 14:21 NAS).   How can God, the Higher and Controlling Power, force men to perform a series of events under His direct control, and then hold the people who God forced into the role they played on the stage of life be held responsible for what God brought about?   Thus, we must answer the proverbial question which the Bible itself asks: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” (Rom 9:19 NIV).   Not one of us is able to resist His will -- and because we fail to understand this great truth, and condemn the manifest Will of God that we observe in others, we make ourselves apostates to the New Covenant -- calling upon the name of the Lord in vain. 

The inability of those we look to as religious authorities to comprehend these fundamental conditions of life, as well as an uncountable number of other biblical paradoxes, is further expounded upon in the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary on Romans 9:22, where it is written with regard to the Apostle's words Fitted to destruction: It is well remarked by Stuart, that the difficulties which such statements involve are not to be gotten rid of by softening the language of one text, while so many others meet us which are of the same tenor; and even if we give up the Bible itself, so long as we acknowledge an omnipotent and omniscient God, we cannot abate in the least degree from any of the difficulties which such texts make.  Be it observed, however, that if God, as the apostle teaches, expressly designed to manifest His wrath, and to make His power (in the way of wrath) known, it could only be by punishing some, while He pardons others; and if the choice between the two classes was not to be founded, as our apostle also teaches, on their own doings, but on God's good pleasure, the decision behooved ultimately to rest with God”. 

Do we have free will and choice?   Because it is impossible for our present-day religious authorities to explain the relationship of these two biblical doctrines, many Christian preachers and theologians are of the opinion that the biblical concepts of predestination and Divine Providence should not be taught to the multitude of believers.   Their theology is that you don’t preach what you do not possess the means to understand.  Yet, the ever looming problem goes far beyond the fact that it is not only confusing, but instead is based upon the fact that the church itself does not have an answer that can satisfactorily explain what the church itself cannot comprehend.    

How can modern Christians be comfortable with the idea that God said of Pharaoh: “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth (Rom 9:17 NAS).   The Bible teaches that even after Pharaoh told Moses to go, God's hand again came upon Pharaoh and continued to harden Pharaoh's heart.   Why?   So God could persist in bringing plagues upon the Egyptian people.   Further, Pharaoh had already told Moses to take the children of Israel and go, when God once again continued to harden Pharaoh's heart.   Why?   The Bible teaches that God did not want Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, until God first demonstrated His power by killing all their first-born sons.   In view of the fact that God raised up Pharaoh for this purpose, and then hardened his heart so as to make it appear that it was Pharaoh who opposed the Israelites, it is imperative that we ask: Is this the loving and merciful God that Christians proclaim? 

People of faith are not prepared to gaze into the reality of the Old Testament.   Like Luther, the people of the simple faith are unable to think along any other line of thought than they have been instructed by their leaders to follow.   It is comforting for them to believe that they have made wise choices in their life by accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savoir.   Yet the Bible teaches that their status as Christians -- and even believers -- was not of their own choosing.   Few Christians can find solace in the biblical teaching that they believe, only because God has permitted them to believe -- while others do not believe, because God does not want them to believe.   They instead envision an all-inclusive God who desires all people to believe. 

Most Christians have a loved one -- a child, spouse, a family member, or a friend -- that has not come to Christ -- and by their manner of thinking is not saved.   They would do anything to save this person that is dear to them.   Yet, according to Christian doctrine, in the hereafter, these people will not only be barred from the Kingdom that is to come, but might possibly be confined to the regions of hell.   Why?   According to the Bible, because God has not chosen to bestow His blessings on these people.   Christians, who want everyone to be saved, cannot perceive the sense of the idea the Apostle put forth when he wrote: So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires” (Rom 9:18 NAS).    

From a Christian doctrinal perspective, life is like a sinking ship where all people are equally sinners -- or drowning -- and all people are in need of being redeemed or saved.   God is there -- He has the power to save all of the people -- but He chooses not to.   Instead of saving everyone, He selectively chooses from among the drowning people an exclusive few who are to be saved -- not based upon their works or deeds, or even their faith -- but as the Apostle states, God chooses indiscriminately,that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth” (Rom 9:11 KJV).   Some will of course argue that people are saved by faith -- but the Bible clearly states that even faith is a gift from God that is not given to all people. 

Innately, all of creation desires to be saved.   In the same way that no one wants to drown, neither would anyone choose to be thrown into the “lake of fire” (Rev 20: 14-15).   Yet, according to the Apostle, because of the sin of Adam and Eve -- a sin that God Himself ordained and brought about -- all people deserve to be thrown into the lake of fire”, and God chooses to save some, while ignoring others.    

Perhaps the finest example of God's indiscriminate intervention into some people's lives is best demonstrated in the example of the Apostle Paul himself.   Paul -- who was known as Saul prior to his conversion -- was not only a great persecutor of the first Christians, but Saul/Paul was a leader among those who stoned Stephen (Acts 7:57-60).   So vehemently did Saul/Paul oppose Christ and the church, that it is written that Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2 KJV).    

In Saul/Paul we see a man who was a killer and a persecutor of Christ and the church -- until God directly intervened into his life, converted him, and supposedly made him an apostle.   Setting aside for the moment the fact that there are many people who, from a biblical perspective, will be thrown into the lake of fire, even though they are in no way guilty of the evil of Saul/Paul prior to his conversion, it could easily be said that the most fervent Atheist and non-believer would be immediately converted if they were subjected to the same experience as Saul/Paul, where it is written: As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Who are you, Lord? Saul asked. I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, he replied. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do… Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing… For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything” (Acts 9:3-9 NIV). 

When we start to delve into these many biblical stories, we begin to get a better perspective of why Luther condemned the use of reason among the body of Christian believers.   Does it mean anything that Saul/Paul served Christ after such an experience?   Was Saul/Paul who called himself a Jew among Jews, and a Pharisee, any different than those who crucified Christ?   If God had not Himself hardened the hearts of the Jews, and opened their perception and understanding in the manner that He did to Saul/Paul, wouldn't all the Jews have been converted?   And even today, would not all of mankind immediately repent, and be faithful to Christ, if they too were subjected to an experience similar to that experienced by Paul?   And does it mean anything that Paul changed his ways after this rather extreme intervention in his life? 

Isn't this in fact the cry of the agnostic who proclaims: Show me a sign, so that I might believe!   Isn't the agnostic asking for nothing more than the same treatment that was extended to Saul/Paul?   And are we to believe that the agnostic who has lived a good life -- a person who of their own conscience had not embraced the evil of a man such as Paul -- that such a person will be condemned to the lake of fire, while Paul is permitted to go free? 


One of the paramount elements of such words as goodness and righteousness, is that one conducts themselves in a fair and evenhanded manner.   If the scriptures are correct in those many places where it states that The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him” (Prov 20:23 NIV), wouldn't the Lord himself treat all men with the same fairness?   Innately, while modern Christians believe that God is fair and impartial, from a biblical perspective, they cannot demonstrate the validity of their beliefs. 

One of the fundamental doctrines found throughout almost every book of the Bible is that the person you are today was predetermined by God -- not merely at a time before you came into this life -- but at a time prior to creation and the formation of the earth.   If the person you are today was predetermined by God prior to even the first act of Creation, you must then ask how much of your own life is of your own choosing?    

For those who believe that they have made wise choices in their lives, in the Calvinistic and Augustinian doctrine of preordination -- a doctrine which they are able to demonstrate conclusively by using the Epistles of Paul -- there is no fundamental difference between those who are doomed and those who will be saved, with the exception that God so wills their fate.   The supreme Disposer”, writes Calvin,then makes way for his own predestination, when depriving those whom he has reprobated of the communication of his light, he leaves them in blindness. Every day furnishes instances of the latter case, and many of them are set before us in Scripture. Among a hundred to whom the same discourse is delivered, twenty, perhaps, receive it with the prompt obedience of faith; the others set no value upon it, or deride, or spurn, or abominate it. If it is said that this diversity is owing to the malice and perversity of the latter, the answer is not satisfactory: for the same wickedness would possess the minds of the former, did not God in his goodness correct it. And hence we will always be entangled until we call in the aid of Paul's question, ‘Who maketh thee to differ?' (1 Corinthians 4:7,) intimating that some excel others, not by their own virtue, but by the mere favor of God”. 

From a biblical perspective of what Calvin wrote, the true statement that totally escapes his reasoning would be: “…we will always be entangled until” we come to understand the Will of God with respect to who maketh thee to differ?”.   What we see in Calvin's words is the manifestation of a secular, carnal religion, that bears the name of Christ, rather than a Spiritual Religion that embodies the Word of Christ.   Calvin, one of the foremost authorities in the founding of the Protestant Church, did not possess the answers to the biblical paradoxes -- and accepts these mysteries as unknowable, only because he has embraced a static faith that is spiritually dead.   Yet, many Christians today continue to embrace his doctrine. 

With regard to the assertion of the Apostle that it is not of our own choosing that we believe in the Gospel, but God's, Barnes' Notes on this verse states: Had not GOD interfered and made a difference, all would have remained alike under sin. The race would have together rejected his mercy; and it is only by his distinguishing love that ANY are brought to believe and be saved”.   If we take the time to stop for a moment and think, what is being portrayed in these words is altogether profound!   What they admit the Apostle’s doctrine of faith ultimately means, is that ALL of mankind would reject Jesus and the gospel message and drown in the sea of inequity, if God did not throw a life-preserver to a select few.   In the case of the Apostle Paul -- a murderer and persecutor of the righteous -- it would appear that sometimes God throws the life preserver to some of the most sinful and despicable among us, and yet denies this same opportunity to others who are not near as sinful. 

Christian doctrine states: God is the foundation of all good; no man possesses any good but what he has derived from God. If any man possess that grace which saves him from scandalous enormities, let him consider that he has received it as a mere free gift from God's mercy” (Adam Clarke Commentary on 1 Cor 4:7). 

If you are a believer -- it is the position of the Apostle that your belief is the work of God manifest in your life.   There is no works that you can do which will earn salvation -- you did not do anything deserving of God's blessings -- you merely inherited the promise because God indiscriminately decided that He would throw you a life preserver.   The problem that arises is in the biblical fact that, if you are a non-believer, that too is the work of God -- who chooses not to throw you a life preserver.    

The one who is saved is no different than the one who is not -- i.e., quoting Paul: As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:10;23 NIV).   Moreover, in view of the fact that God's criteria is not based upon either the works, or the moral attributes of the person -- Paul and many others being an example of this fact -- from a biblical perspective, the one who is not saved, and destined to the sufferings of hell, may even exhibit a higher manifestation of virtue and morality than did the one who is saved.   In the words of Calvin, who uses the Apostle Paul as his source of doctrine: “God has chosen to deprive the unbeliever of the communication of his light”, and for no reason other than He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires” (Rom 9:18 NAS), Calvin admits that “he leaves them in blindness”. 

The Bible teaches that if you are a saint, a sinner, a mass murderer, or even the likes of Hitler, your station in life is not of your own doing -- but rather, the work of the Hand of God manifest in your life.   If you have not accepted Christ as your savior, it is because God has withheld His Light from you that would enable you to believe and have faith.   Therefore, regardless of how good you are, or the moral code you exhibit, or how great your humanity is towards others, from the perspective of the Bible, you are destined to Hell because God has predetermined and chosen this as your fate. 

In view of the fact that it has been proposed by many Christians that Hitler was merely doing the will of God by exterminating the heretic Jews -- and there is speculation that Hitler believed that he had himself been anointed by God to complete the task that Jesus never did -- Christian doctrine suggests that Hitler could be enjoying eternal bliss in heaven, while the innocent Jewish children who he tortured and burnt in his ovens -- children who never did an evil act to anyone -- are now burning in the torments of hell.    

In view of this biblical fact, ask yourself this question: If you are a Christian, will you then greet Hitler when you go to glory.   Imagine for a moment you and Hitler -- together in the Kingdom -- talking about how you were saved -- gazing upon the Jewish children who never even had the opportunity to do any evil as they burn in the lake of fire?   Imagine you and Hitler, together, praising the glory of God in the shadow of their innocence and agony.    

Many Christians today are against abortion -- calling it infanticide and murder.   Yet, is this any more of an atrocity of justice than the preordination of children to live lives as “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Rom 9:22)?   Will these same anti-abortion people stand by and applaud the sufferings of these men, women and children who were predestined to dwell forever in the lake of fire? 

If these things seem outrageous and far fetched, let us not forget the fact that when the Children of Israel were on their way to the land of Canaan, God showed his power by bringing about the unmerciful destruction of innocent people: But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand, as it is this day” (Deut 2:30 NKJ).   

Did King Sihon possess free will as many of us believe today?   King Sihon did not choose to block the path of the Israelites -- God “hardened his spirit” (king Sihon's) and made him do it.   Why?   In what modern civilized man would consider a detestable act of cruel and senseless barbarism, the God of Israel rejoiced: And the LORD our God delivered him over to us; so we defeated him, his sons, and all his people. We took all his cities at that time, and we utterly destroyed the men, women, and little ones of every city; we left none remaining” (Deut 2:33-34 NKJ).    

Are we supposed to applaud this atrocity -- this example of injustice and inhumanity?   Are we to praise the Lord and acclaim His righteousness that He permitted the Jews to slaughter even the “little ones”?   The Children of Israel were ordered to slay everything that moved and breathed: However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them -- the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites -- as the LORD your God has commanded you” (Deut 20:16-17 NIV). 

The scriptures tell us that when the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan, the hearts of the inhabitants of the land were hardened by God: For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses” (Josh 11:20 NIV).   The Children of Israel were again ordered to slay every man, woman and child in the land.   In view of the fact that the people of Heshbon were not believers in God -- only because God Himself withheld His Light from their understanding -- the implications are horrific.   By human standards, the actions of God as reported in the Old Testament are even more diabolical than Hitler’s!   The great question that must be posed: Is this a merciful God who celebrates the destruction of innocent children without any other reason than he enjoys watching the carnage?    

When it is realized that at any time that God wanted, he could have unhardened their hearts, and permitted these people to believe, the moral and humanistic ramifications are truly astounding.   Why didn't God want to convert these people?   The biblical answer is because they were not of the seed of Abraham -- the person God chose -- not by works, according to the Apostle Paul, but for no reason other thanHe has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires (Rom 9:18 NAS).    

Moreover, if God didn't want the people of the Nations in the land of Canaan, He could have willed it, and they would have simply migrated from the land without the loss of one single life.   If God wanted them to worship Him, and only Him, He could have willed it, and it would have been so.    

From our modern perspective there is still another twist to this biblical episode: In view of the fact that God not only knew that these same Gentiles would become the chosen people of God when he caused the Jews to reject Jesus, why did he bring death and destruction to women and children whose ancestors would one day be called Christian?   If the scriptures are correct, and God has the power to control every aspect of life, then a Supreme Being of Love and Mercy would have just willed them to leave, believe, or anything else He desired, and it would have been so.  

  Who Resists The Will Of God? If there is any doubt from the perspective of Christian doctrine that we are mere play toys in the hands of God, the proverbial question that mankind should ask his Creator is already contained in the scriptures:   “You will say to me then, Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” (Rom 9:19).   If evil men are evil, because God, in the words of Calvin, withholds “the communication of his light, and good men are good ONLY because God bestows upon them the “communication of his light”, then are we not as play people -- mere playthings -- in the hands of God, in much the same fashion as a child playing with his toys? 

The Apostle affirms this when he states in response to the question of For who resists His will?” and writes: On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, Why did you make me like this, will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” (Rom 9:19-22 NAS). 

When the question is asked: “Who resists His will?”   It is important for us to recognize the fact that the Apostle does not reply in the manner that our present-day church authorities would, and respond that each of us has choices to make in our lives.   Paul does not say this!   From the mindset and perspective of the Apostle, it is easily observed that choices are not even part of the equation -- but rather: O man, who answers back to God?”   The Apostle then goes on to explain that, in the manner of a child playing with his toys, it is God's right to make some people vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”, while He makes other people a vessel for honorable use”.   In other words, there are some people who were created for the express purpose of destruction -- not because they chose such a fate -- not because they had done anything wrong -- but because in God's predestination, this fate was chosen for them prior to even the creation of the world.   Therefore, what the Apostle very clearly conveys to us is that the role in life they lived was not by their own choice, but was brought about solely by the Hand of God. 

Regarding these very controversial verses and the teaching on predestination, the Apostle writes: “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy” (Rom 9:16 NIV).   If you desire Christ, it is because God has permitted you to be a believer, and has ignited within you the desire for Christ.   The Bible affirms the position that the choice was not yours to make. 

As an example of this Divine Providence in the life of the individual, the Apostle gives the example of Jacob and Esau, and writes: “For though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, The older will serve the younger. Just as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom 9:11-13 NAS).    

What the Apostle is very clearly stating is that, before either of the twins had been born, before either had “done anything good or bad”, God not only decided their fate in life, but for no apparent reason, He hated Esau and loved Jacob.   Why?   Paul offers no explanation other than God does what he wants to do -- and man does not have the right to question God's choices in these matters.   This is especially seen in the words: “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” (Rom 9:21 NKJ). 

In the Epistle to the Romans the Apostle confirms that we are mere toys in the hands of God -- and like a child playing with his toy people -- God will have “…mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires” (Rom 9:18 NAS).   Mankind is subject to this reality without any reason other than the fact that God wants to create and sit back and observe the dramas of life that we experience -- and ultimately, have fun with His play toys in any manner that He chooses.   Moreover, it would appear that those who are destined to what has been described as the eternal sufferings and tortures of Hell, have received such a fate only because God enjoys watching such carnage and suffering. 

As toys, then, the Apostle tells us that we have no rights -- and this is confirmed in the words of the Paul when he wrote: On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, Why did you make me like this, will it?” (Rom 9:20 NAS).   Thus, the Apostle states to the believer that whether we are saved or judged to eternal damnation, it is not of our own doing -- our fate was decided prior to the creation of the world -- and we have no right to question the motives of God -- which motives include the total annihilation of innocent women and children for no other reason than God desires the carnage to come upon those who have done nothing to deserve such a fate. 

From a modern Christian perspective, the doctrine of Divine Providence and predestination gets really scary when it is realized that God chose who would believe and who would disbelieve prior to the creation of the universe: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Eph 1:4-5 NIV).    

What is being stated is that when God was still in the stages of contemplating Creation -- prior to what we would relate to the events written in the very first verse of Genesis 1:1 -- God decided that He would make a certain group of people who would inherit all the good that He could imagine, and another group would be plunged into eternal suffering.   Why?   Because God wanted all people to know that He was superior to them -- that they were weak and inferior beings -- and He wanted them to know that there was absolutely nothing they could do in order to alter their destiny.   Thus, God created Satan -- a supernatural being that He (God) controlled -- as an instrument to bring about the defilement of Creation in accordance with God’s plan.   Why?   In order that all mankind would equally be drowning in a sea of inequity.   In this way God could choose from among the race of sinful man -- “in accordance with his pleasure and will” -- those who He would permit to inherit the good. 

In order to demonstrate to mankind God's absolute power and authority, it is observed that God often chose the most morally degenerate men to inherit the good.   King David, for example, was a murderer and an adulterer, as demonstrated by The New Unger's Bible Dictionary in their sighting under David for First Samuel 13:14: “How, ask some, could a man after God's own heart have murdered Uriah, seduced Bathsheba, and tortured the Ammonites? An extract from one who is not a too-indulgent critic of sacred characters expresses at once the common sense and the religious lesson of the whole matter. ‘David, the Hebrew king, had fallen into sins enough -- blackest crimes -- there was no want of sin. And, thereupon, the unbelievers sneer, and ask, ‘Is this your man according to God' s heart?’” (Carlyle, Heroes and Hero-worship, 1:277; from New Unger's Bible Dictionary, originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois.  Copyright (C) 1988). 

It would appear that God chose David -- a true sinner -- over Saul, because Saul possessed a conscience, and did not unmercifully wipe out his enemies, as seen where it is written under the heading of Saul: “But he disobeyed the divine injunction by taking alive Agag, the king, and sparing all the best of the cattle and all that was valuable, destroying only that which was despised and worthless. Instead of pursuing the campaign and finishing the destruction of the fugitives…” (New Unger's Bible Dictionary).   Thus, Saul failed in his mission -- which was to totally wipe out all the men, women, children, and everything that breathed among the enemies of Israel. 

The Bible teaches that we do not choose God, but rather God chooses those among us who will be saved -- regardless of their moral standing.   Thus, Jesus said to his disciples: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16 NAS).   The Bible goes on to confirm that no one can come to Jesus unless God permits them: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me” (John 6:37 NAS).   On this verse Barnes' Notes writes: “[The Father giveth me] We here learn that those who come to Christ, and who will be saved, are given to him by God… All men are sinners, and none have any claim to mercy, and he may therefore bestow salvation on whom he pleases. All people of themselves are disposed to reject the gospel, (John 5:40). God enables those who do believe to do it. He draws them to Him by His Word and Spirit; He opens their hearts to understand the Scriptures (Acts 16:14); and He grants to them repentance, (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25)”. 

It is important to recognize the above biblical concept that “All people of themselves are disposed to reject the gospel”, and that only those who the Father has permitted to come to Jesus can be saved: “that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life” (John 17:2 NAS).    

The Book of Acts goes on to confirm that the very mind of mankind is so controlled by the Hand of God, that only those who had been predestined and previously appointed to be saved are even permitted to believe: “and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48 NAS).   Of this word appointed or in some translations “ordained”, Barnes' Notes writes: “The word is NEVER used to denote an internal disposition or inclination arising from one's own self. It does not mean that they disposed themselves to embrace eternal life… it has uniformly the notion of an ordering, disposing, or arranging from without; that is, from some other source than the individual himself; as of a soldier, who is arranged or classified according to the will of the proper officer. In relation to these persons it means, therefore, that they were disposed or inclined to this from some other source than themselves... They were then inclined by an influence from without themselves, or so disposed as to embrace eternal life. That this was done by the influence of the Holy Spirit is clear from all parts of the New Testament, (Tit. 3:5-6; John 1:13). It was not a disposition or arrangement originating with themselves, but with God. This implies the doctrine of election. It was, in fact, that doctrine expressed in an act. It was nothing but God's disposing them to embrace eternal life. And that he does this according to a plan in his own mind a plan which is unchangeable as he himself is unchangeable is clear from the Scriptures. Compare Acts 18:10; Rom. 8:28-30; 9:15-16,21,23; Eph. 1:4-5,11. The meaning may be expressed in few words -- who were THEN disposed, and in good earnest determined, to embrace eternal life, by the operation of the grace of God upon their hearts”

Regardless of what we have been led to believe by those we look to as religious authorities as they attempt to soften the message of the scriptures in the endeavor to make it acceptable to a people who appear to possess more mercy and kindness than does the scriptural portrayal of God, what the Bible very clearly teaches is that the decision as to who would believe and be saved was made by God prior to even the first act of creation.   With respect to the beast, the Book of Revelation states that: “all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb” (Rev 13:8 RSV).   Thus, all mankind has been predestined to worship the beast unless their name was written in the “book of life… before the foundation of the world”.   This is again demonstrated in the words: “The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world” (Rev 17:8 NAS). 

  Are People Predestined To Hell? According to the scriptures, all people whose name was not written in the book of life prior to the foundation of the world have already been assigned to the fires of hell, as seen in the words: “If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15 NIV).   With regard to the coming Kingdom it is written that “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life” (Rev 21:27 NIV).   What these things mean is that, prior to the creation of the world, the hand of God was upon all whose name is written in the book of life, and by virtue of God's Will -- and God's Will alone -- these chosen individuals will not be “impure”, and will not do anything that “is shameful or deceitful”.   In accordance with the Will of God, those whose names are not written in the book of life will do evil, and this evil is often said to be also brought about by the Will of God.   According to Jude, the brother of Jesus, even the unbelievers in the church were foreordained by God: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4 NAS). 

When the Apostle Paul addressed the men of Athens he said to them that God “made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26 NAS).   He did not say that after giving people life He (God) permitted the people to live in accordance with their own desires.   In fact, it was written in Daniel that: “And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’” (Dan 4:35 NAS).   That all events and occurrences in this world was predetermined before the Creation is confirmed by Isaiah in the words: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isa 46:10 NIV).    

If we pose the question as to what degree life on earth is predestined?   It is at this point where the biblical teaching of predestination gets really frightening -- as demonstrated in Jesus' own words when he said: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will” (Matt 10:29 RSV).   If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without the Will of the Father, then we have no other option than to come to terms with the biblical fact that everything in this life is directly orchestrated by God?   On this verse the Adam Clark Commentary states: “The providence of God extends to the minutest things; everything is continually under the government and care of God, and nothing occurs without his will or permission”. 

In relation to this verse under the heading of Providence in the Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary it is explained that: “Divine government is the continued activity of God by which He directs all things to the ends He has chosen in His eternal plan… He governs insignificant things (Matt. 10:29-31), apparent accidents (Prov. 16:33), as well as man's good (Phil. 2:13) and evil deeds (Acts 14:16). God acts in accordance with the laws and principles that He has established in the world. The laws of nature are nothing more than man's description of how we perceive God at work in the world. They neither have inherent power nor do they work by themselves. Man is not free to choose and act independently from God's will and plan; he chooses and acts in accordance with them. In His sovereignty, God controls man's choices and actions (Gen. 45:5; Deut. 8:18; Prov. 21:1). God's actions, however, do not violate the reality of human choice or negate man's responsibility as a moral being”. 

This very clearly defined biblical doctrine possesses a great truth -- the ramifications of which no person who calls themselves a Christian can oppose: Ultimately, what these passages of scripture convey to us is that at any time that man judges, imprisons or executes a fellow human being, man is in essence imposing his judgment upon what could be deemed an innocent person.   What the Bible states is that all sinners -- all evil people since the dawn of time to the present, have all been preordained into the life that they lived by God's all pervasive power over the mind of man.   What the Bible states is that the only difference between a good and moral God-fearing man, and one who would be deemed a degenerate, is that God chose that life for each individual person.    

While such a biblical concept on the surface will immediately appear to be unjust, there is yet another dimension to the problem that few Christians today have ever pondered.   The question that every believer of the Gospel today should ask is this: How can the modern church lead the people, when they cannot tell you how, if “man is not free to choose and act independently from God's will and plan”, and can only choose and act in accordance with God's Will; and “in His sovereignty, God controls man's choices and actions”; how does this “not violate the reality of human choice or negate man's responsibility as a moral being”?   The problem is that our modern churches cannot possibly answer these all-important questions.    Moreover, it is because of the irreconcilable differences of these two biblical teachings -- teachings that are both fully represented throughout the scriptures -- that the Rev. Spurgeon admitted that: “…it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other”.  

Because the modern church cannot explain it, and admittedly confesses that they do not understand it, most Christians feel they have no other recourse but to ignore what the Bible teaches with regard to predestination.   Even Augustine and Calvin -- the very champions of the Christian doctrine on predestination -- admit that they do not understand why God would seemingly act in such an irrational way -- as if the world was God's play-toys.   Thus, Calvin writes: “Now, should some Manes or Coelestinus come forward to arraign Divine Providence, I say with Paul, that no account of it can be given, because by its magnitude it far surpasses our understanding. Is there any thing strange or absurd in this? Would we have the power of God so limited as to be unable to do more than our mind can comprehend? I say with Augustine, that the Lord has created those who, as he certainly foreknow, were to go to destruction, and he did so because he so willed. Why he willed it is not ours to ask, as we cannot comprehend, nor can it become us even to raise a controversy as to the justice of the divine will. Whenever we speak of it, we are speaking of the supreme standard of justice. (See August. Ep. 106.)”     

As can be seen, two of the most revered Christian minds -- one Protestant, the other Roman Catholic -- not only confess they do not know the Will of God, and cannot even begin to explain why God moves in the manner that He does -- but that they do not have the capacity of mind to understand the many narratives of scripture that pertains to the subject.   They therefore attempt to predict who will be saved and who will not, and have faith that their prediction will be correct. 

From the perspective of the modern Christian, the key word here is predict.   In view of the historical evidence contained in the Bible that God brings evil upon groups of people for no reason, and God admittedly moves in a manner that even the church cannot understand, what if men such as David and Paul -- sinful men who persecute and kill innocent people -- are truly the men who hold a special place in the heart of God?   What if God caused the Gentile Church to violate his covenant so he could deal with them in the manner that He did the Jews before them, and now show his wrath in the condemnation of His new chosen people, the Christians?    

  The Absolute Irrationality Of Calvin: That the doctrine of predestination is irrational, and defies all human logic, is affirmed in Calvin's only defense that the Apostle is correct and man does not have the right to even question God, as seen when he wrote: “But when justice clearly appears, why should we raise any question of injustice? Let us not, therefore, be ashamed to stop their mouths after the example of Paul. Whenever they presume to carp, let us begin to repeat: Who are ye, miserable men, that bring an accusation against God, and bring it because he does not adapt the greatness of his works to your meager capacity? As if every thing must be perverse that is hidden from the flesh. The immensity of the divine judgments is known to you by clear experience. You know that they are called 'a great deep', (Psalm 36:6.) Now, look at the narrowness of your own minds and say whether it can comprehend the decrees of God. Why then should you, by infatuated inquisitiveness, plunge yourselves into an abyss which reason itself tells you will prove your destruction? Why are you not deterred, in some degree at least, by what the Book of Job, as well as the Prophetical books declare concerning the incomprehensible wisdom and dreadful power of God? If your mind is troubled, decline not to embrace the counsel of Augustine, 'You a man expect an answer from me: I also am a man. Wherefore, let us both listen to him who says, O man, who art thou?' Believing ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge. Seek merits; you will find naught but punishment. O the height! Peter denies, a thief believes. O the height! Do you ask the reason? I will tremble at the sight. Reason you, I will wonder; dispute you, I will believe. I see the height; I cannot sound the depth. Paul found rest, because he found wonder. He calls the judgments of God 'unsearchable;' and have you come to search them? He says that his ways are 'past finding out,' and do you seek to find them out?' (August. de Verb. Apost. Serm. 20.) We shall gain nothing by proceeding farther. For neither will the Lord satisfy the petulance of these men, nor does he need any other defense than that which he used by his Spirit, who spoke by the mouth of Paul. We unlearn the art of speaking well when we cease to speak with God”. 

Again, Calvin himself admits the irrationality of the doctrine that he champions when he writes: “The human mind, when it hears this doctrine, cannot restrain its petulance, but boils and rages as if aroused by the sound of a trumpet”.   The question must be asked as to why the “human mind… boil and rage”?   The only answer is that our higher sense of reason cannot accept the doctrine that, without justifiable cause, a child is born into a life where their fate is predestined to destruction.   Moreover, the very foundation of the faith-based church that the Middle Age Reformers created is summed up in the words: “Believing ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge. Seek merits; you will find nought but punishment.”   Thus, their faith is based upon un-knowledge -- anti-knowledge or even anti-Gnostic -- in view of the fact that it is their position that they cannot know why the Hand of God moves in the manner that it does.   In their own words they recognize that in all things that really matter, they are ignorant.   Thus, the church which they created is in fact an anti-Gnostic organization (without knowledge), based upon blind faith. 

Christians may not like it, but Calvin goes on to demonstrate that this doctrine of irrationality, which by his own assertion promotes ignorance, is exactly what is contained in the scriptures when he writes: “But were I to concede that by the different forms of expression Paul softens the harshness of the former clause, it by no means follows, that he transfers the preparation for destruction to any other cause than the secret counsel of God. This, indeed, is asserted in the preceding context, where God is said to have raised up Pharaoh, and to harden whom he will. Hence it follows, that the hidden counsel of God is the cause of hardening. I at least hold with Augustine that when God makes sheep out of wolves, he forms them again by the powerful influence of grace, that their hardness may thus be subdued, and that he does not convert the obstinate, because he does not exert that more powerful grace, a grace which he has at command, if he were disposed to use it, (August. de Praedest. Sanct., Lib. 1, c. 2.)”. 

If you are good, then you are good because, prior to the founding of the world.   What this means is that before there was even an earth, sun, moon and stars as foretold in the events of creation in Genesis, God wrote your name in the book of life and decided that you would be good -- and it was so.   If you are evil, mediocre, or even an average person who is just trying to live their life the best they can -- then in like manner, you are the person you are because prior to the time of creation, God decided that you would be created as a “vessel of wrath prepared for destruction?” (Rom 9:19-22 NAS).   This determination was made at a time when you “were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to His choice might stand” (Rom 9:11). 

If you are wise, it is because God has made you wise: “and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom” (Exod 31:6 KJV).   If the scriptures make no sense to you, or to whatever degree you are permitted to understand them, this also is of the Lord: “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45 KJV).   





To contact the author: Allan_Cronshaw@nazirene.org