Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation/Predestination


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Calvinism Part VIII...

God’s Sovereignty and Omnipotence.

Hypocrisy Unlimited

Carol Brooks.

Index To All Sections

Section 1: An Introduction to John Calvin and his Doctrines of Grace
Section 2: Total Inability... The Cornerstone
Section 3: Unconditional Election
Section 4: Limited Atonement
Section 5: Irresistible Grace
Section 6: Perseverance of The Saints and Death Before Sin
Section 7: When the Gospel Becomes a Lie and Assurance of Salvation...
How Can Any Calvinist KNOW He is Saved?
Your Are Here 001orange Section 8: God’s Sovereignty and Omnipotence. Hypocrisy Unlimited
Section 9: Conclusion
Section 10: Calvinism and The First 1500 Years. The Sins of Augustine


On This Page

The Character of God.. His Sovereignty and Omnipotence

King of kings

God's Sovereignty
What Exactly Does Sovereignty Mean

God's Omnipotence Vs. Logical Impossibilities
Contradictions And Absurdities

Salvation By Works?
Conditions Being Imposed In No Way Nullify The Freeness Of The Gift

God's Will
Not At All Difficult To Sort Out If You Do Two Things.

Hypocrisy Unlimited
Take your pick.. either John Calvin was a misguided zealot, or God and Jesus are very hypocritical, very deceptive, grossly unjust or, if we were to be extremely charitable, just very confused.

God Called and Spread Out His Hands to The People... What For?

Examples of Hypocrisy.. Or Are They?
Ezekiel 18:31-32 and 33:11
Jeremiah 13:10-11
Jeremiah 13:16-17
Amos 4:6-12

Matthew 23:37
Was Jesus Lament Over Jerusalem An Elaborate Sham?
Arthur Pink's Version
Four Problems with James White's Explanation..

Jesus Marvelled
Mark 6:6 and Luke 7:9


The Character of God.. His Sovereignty and Omnipotence

King of kings
There are many Biblical passages that are very emphatic regarding the sovereignty of God. To some extent they even convey to us the majesty and sheer 'bigness' of God.. (I say "to some extent" because I do not believe that any words are suficient to paint a picture of the greatness of God).

    Know therefore this day, and lay it to thy heart, that Jehovah he is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else. [Deuteronomy 4:39]

    See now that I, even I, am he, And there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; And there is none that can deliver out of my hand. [Deuteronomy 32:39] 

    Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that Jehovah he is God; there is none else besides him. [Deuteronomy 4:35]

    And Hezekiah prayed before Jehovah, and said, O Lord God of Israel, that sittest above the cherubim, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. [2Kings 19:15]

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

    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? [Daniel 4:35] 

    And he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth up kings; he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that have understanding; [Daniel 2:21]

    which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; [1 Timothy 6:15]

There is little question that God is the Most High, the Almighty. He reigns supreme, does what He pleases  and none can stay His hand. He possesses all power and no one can thwart His purpose. He can and does set up and remove kings and kingdoms thereby determining the course of dynasties. He laid the foundations of the earth and His hands stretched out the heavens. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Psalm 33:6).He is the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega. He is King of kings, and Lord of lords.

However none of this equates with the Calvinist belief that God unconditionally elects certain people to salvation. He beckons and attempts to draw all men to Himself, but some will simply not come. Pay close attention to the God's words as recorded by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. Words which show that man is not only quite capable of doing things that God never even thought of, but can choose courses of action which God does not desire. What more, they get away with it.. FOR A WHILE as the second quote shows.

    and have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire for burnt-offerings unto Baal; which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:[Jeremiah 19:5]

    I will destine you for the sword, And all of you will bow down to the slaughter. Because I called, but you did not answer; I spoke, but you did not hear. And you did evil in My sight And chose that in which I did not delight." [Isaiah 65:12]

So the drunk driver that kills the innocent bystander doesn't do so because God wills it to happen, or because He is less than sovereign, but because those who continue to break God's laws today do so on their own initiative.  And they too get away with it, but only FOR A WHILE. But as the old saying goes.. the mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. Retribution will come more certainly than the sun will rise on the horizon tomorrow morning. [See The Wrath of God]

And, contrary to many and voluble assertions to the contrary, man's free will rejection of the Gospel and perverse lifestyle can not be taken as damaging to the concept of the Sovereignty of God. Anyone who thinks this is the case is, quite simply, misinformed as to what God's Sovereignty means.

God's Sovereignty
The very word Sovereign means a supreme ruler over all things. Sovereignty is a supreme and absolute power or authority, uncontrolled by any outside force.

Certainly God is sovereign. The Bible describes Him as King of kings, and Lord of lords, the first and the last [Isaiah 44:6] and says none that can deliver out of His hand nor hinder His work. [Isaiah 43:13]. He categorically states that beside Him there is no God [Isaiah 43:10, 44:6,45:22].

Remember the words of The Calvinist Corner ...

    The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on Gods word. It focuses on God's sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. [2]

No one is arguing that God cannot do what ever He wants with His creation. No one is disputing the fact that  He could, if He chooses to, elect to save some people and ignore the rest. He is God and He is sovereign.

However being sovereign means that God has ultimate control over every aspect of His creation and can permit or prevent any or all inventions of man. He has the final word. Being sovereign does not mean that God has to control every single aspect of human behavior much as a master puppeteer controls the puppets he has dangling on his strings. It does not equate that because God is sovereign, He could not make a sovereign decision to give man freedom of choice.

Let me repeat that... If God chose to give man freedom of choice, then it was His sovereign choice to do so. It still leaves Him very much Sovereign.

Man utilizing his free will and choosing to reject God no more diminishes God's sovereignty than the billions of people who, on a daily basis, flout His commands... although they know that what they do is wrong.

God's sovereignty comes into play in the fact that He has, emphatically and repeated, clearly outlined the consequences of disobedience, and warned that those who continue to flout His sovereign laws will suffer those consequences. He is sovereign and He will pass judgment and carry out the sentence. He is sovereign and none can deliver out of His hand. BUT let us balance the sovereignty of God with His love which caused Him, at great cost to His own Son, to give us the option of choosing to take His provided way out of our quagmire.

Lets talk for a moment about the Calvinist claim that while God is absolutely sovereign, man is absolutely responsible for his own actions. Read what Dr. Loraine Boettner and Calvin himself said...

    "Man therefore falls, divine providence so ordaining, but he falls by his own fault" [Calvin. 60b]

     God so controls the thoughts and wills of men that they freely and willingly do what He has planned for them to do. [Boettner. 61] 

The problem here is that these claims are logically impossible since it is not logically possible for them to be true.

God's Omnipotence Vs. Logical Impossibilities
Logical impossibilities involve both contradiction and absurdity such as stating a thing can be and not be at the same time. Classic examples of logical impossibilities include 1) The square circle, since no two dimensional shape can have a perimeter that is both square and circular at the same time. 2) and the married bachelor, the absurdity of which is (hopefully) self evident..

When faced with a logical impossibility one has to realize that, since two propositions that contradict each other can not both be true, one has the following choices... accept one or the other as true, or both as false,

Citing Jesus' words "with God all things are possible" [Matthew 19:26] doesn't help in the slightest. because Omnipotence doesn't mean the ability to do absolutely anything, but the ability to do anything that is logically possible.

For example.. God can, by means of using laws that He created, cause storms, rain, and other natural phenomena to start and stop as He wishes [example... Job 37:6]. (In fact, read the whole of Job chapters 37-39 to gain a small insight into the magnificence and sheer power of God). Having created the human body, God knows exactly what it takes to make a cancerous tumor 'disappear'. But yet.. Surprise! surprise! even God can not do anything that is logically impossible.  He could, without even breaking a sweat, cause a black hole to swallow up this earth and everything on it. He cannot create a stone so heavy that even He cannot lift it. He can cause it to rain cats and dogs in the Sahara, but can not cause it to rain and not rain at the same time.

I hope you see the difference.

In describing the Five Points of Calvinism on the website of The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics (CRTA), Jonathan Barlow says the doctrine of Unconditional Election does not rule out

    "... man's responsibility to believe in the redeeming work of God the Son (John 3:16-18). Scripture presents a tension between God's sovereignty in salvation, and man's responsibility to believe which it does not try to resolve. Both are true -- to deny man's responsibility is to affirm an unbiblical hyper-Calvinism; to deny God's sovereignty is to affirm an unbiblical Arminianism. [62]

Scripture does not try to "resolve the tension" between "God's sovereignty in salvation, and man's responsibility to believe" because no such tension exists. It is a logical impossibility.

Salvation By Works?
Calvinists often accuse non-Calvinists of making man responsible for promoting salvation by works, and point to various Scriptures to make the point that this is not the case...

    for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory. [Ephesians 2:8-9]

    yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [Galatians 2:16]

The words "not of yourselves" uses the preposition ek, which denotes origin, or the point from which motion or action proceeds. In other words salvation cannot originate with any human plan or course of action, but is a gift from God. The only path by which this gift of grace and salvation can be accessed is “through faith”.

Faith and works are completely different matters.  Faith is a matter of believing that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that seek after him [Hebrews 11:6]. Real, life-giving faith is not inert, but triggers changes which results in good works. The good works, of themselves can not save. The apostle James when reproving idle brethren, minced no words in describing the specific spiritual actions, or works, expected of Christians. He told them that he would show them his faith by his works. He never so much as hinted that good works alone were sufficient. And neither do we.

However as previously pointed out both God's gifts and promises to man were usually conditional. In Joshua 6:2 the Lord told Joshua that He had given him the city of Jericho but, as we know, there were certain conditions that had to be complied with before the Israelites could occupy the city. In Acts 27:24 the Lord told Paul that the lives of all two hundred and seventy-six sailors in the ship with him would be "given him", but Paul recognized that there were conditions to be met which he communicated to the sailors a few verses later, when they wanted to abandon ship [See John 6:33 in Section... Limited Atonement]. Similarly not all the passages in the Scriptures that speak of God's promises expressly mention the conditions that have to be met in order for Him to keep those promises. This does not mean that the conditions do not exist and have not been made very clear... they just aren't in the same verse. [See Isolated Verses Or An Integrated Whole in Section... Perseverance of The Saints]

Conditions being imposed in no way nullify the freeness of the gift.

It is similar to a situation in which a very wealthy man "gives" a Rolls Royce to a poor man, on condition that he take care of it.. keep it washed and waxed, change the oil regularly etc. The closest the poor man would have ever come to owning a Rolls would have been to dream of doing so, since he could never have afforded this car even if he were to save his pennies for his entire life.  The car was given freely. All the poor man had to do was stretch out his hand and take the keys and bless his good fortune. But, although imperfect, the analogy doesn't stop there. Now in possession of such a valuable piece of machinery the poor man would be a fool not to take care of it, especially since the rich man is going to send someone over to help him maintain it. Not only could he lose the car if he neglects it but he will never ever own something as beautiful. Would he not be a fool of the first waters to be off joy riding in an old borrowed Honda when the back seat of his Rolls really needs vacuuming out?

We fully understand that salvation is exclusively God's doing... since it was God, of His own free will, who decided to offer man His plan of salvation. Certainly He knew ahead of time that only a certain number of people would accept His plan and be saved, but it was still up to Him as to whether or not He put this plan into action. Without God's plan man would be up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle, regardless of how many good works he performed. However just because we can not earn nor do anything to effect salvation does not mean we can not freely choose to accept this gift of God. 

While non-Calvinists do not believe they are responsible for their own salvation, Calvinism makes God responsible for the damnation of billions of people, regardless of whether a) He specifically chooses both who will be saved and who will be damned, or b) merely disregards those whom he has not elected to salvation.

In the first case God is directly damning people to hell, and in the second case He could rescue the others from their fate, but chooses not to do so, by the simple method of withholding His grace from them. Either way, Calvinism makes God far more "Totally Depraved" than we are. In fact the Calvinist belief that God ordained Adam's fall by His own decree makes Him a malicious, unjust tyrant. An evil puppeteer, responsible for the deaths of billions more people than Hitler ever dreamed of.

All of which bring us to the topic of ...

God's Will
I can almost guarantee that should you even want to venture into the complicated world of the so called various "wills" of God, you will, in very short order, find your head spinning. Not only are the man made definitions of perceptive will, preferential or desiderative will, permissive will and decreed will mind boggling, you will not necessarily find any consensus of opinion on how these terms are to be understood. One Christian site lists a total of six differences in God's will, another notes only three.

For example bible.org says God's permissive will is what God allows, even though it is sin. [63] While gotquestions.org says God's permissive or perfect will "describes God's attitude and defines what is pleasing to Him" [64]. (Bible.org calls this God's preferential or desiderative will).

Certainly the Bible uses the word will in different ways, but it is not at all difficult to sort out if you do two things.

ONE: Realize that, in the New Testament, the English word will has largely been translated from the Greek thelema which has more than one meaning.

Strong's Hebrew and Greek lexicon has defined thelema or determination in two basic ways.

     Actively... a choice, purpose or decree (official order). Passively... an inclination: a desire, pleasure, will.

So when the Bible uses the word thelema (translated will) it does not necessarily mean that this is what God has determined or made a fixed decision about, but could very well mean that this is what He wishes. Some examples of each include

Determined or Decreed

    For this is the will of my Father, that every one that beholdeth the Son, and believeth on him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. [John 6:40] 

There can be no question that the verse above is saying that God has determined that everyone who believes on His Son will have eternal life.  It is a fixed decision that cannot be changed.

Wishes or Desires

The first example from Ephesians perfectly illustrates how thelema can be used as wish..

    among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest: [Ephesians 2:3] 

    Even so it is not the will (desire) of your Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. [Matthew 18:14] 

    For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: [1Peter 2:15]

Precepts and Commands
God's will can also be understood in terms of His precepts and commands, which is an extension of the previous category. What He wishes or desires has been expressed in a command to man.

    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 who is in heaven. [Matthew 7:21] 

    For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. [Mark 3:35] 
    For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. [Hebrews 10:36]

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

So how are we supposed to know when the New Testament means determine and when it means wish

TWO: Let Scripture interpret Scripture. In other words, ensure that your interpretation of the verse does not conflict with other Scriptures especially those that are plainly understood.

The failure to make the distinction between what God's decrees which cannot be changed, and what He simply wishes or desires is the beginning of the road to Calvinism. A person who has his feet set on that road will then try and explain away other verses, even those that are crystal clear in their opposition to his interpretation.

Besides which there is another Greek word that has to be taken into consideration... one that unambiguously means willing.


is used some 34 times in the New Testament and means to be willing, or to be inclined.

    And Pilate, wishing (boulomai) to content the multitude, released unto them Barabbas, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. [Mark 15:15]

    And when Paul was minded (boulomai)to enter in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. [Acts 19:30]

Boulomai is the word of choice in 2 Peter 3:9.

    The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing (boulomai) that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance [2 Peter 3:9] 

Peter is simply saying that God does not wish or want people to perish. The death of the wicked gives Him no pleasure. This concept is neither difficult to understand, nor does it challenge His sovereignty.  But all this effort to protect God's Sovereignty has had one devastating consequence. It has made God (and Jesus) into the worst kind of hypocrite.

Hypocrisy Unlimited
Take your pick.. either John Calvin was a misguided zealot, or God and Jesus are very hypocritical, very deceptive, grossly unjust or, if we were to be extremely charitable, just very confused.

God Called and Spread Out His Hands to The People... What For?
Calvinism believes that totally depraved sinners cannot call upon the Lord. Only those who are sovereignly elected and given “the gift of faith” are able to do so. It is only God's grace that enables the sinner to choose to follow God, repent and have faith in Christ for salvation.

Yet, it was not only Peter and Paul who beseeched people to be reconciled to God [See Paul's Inexplicable Tactics in the Section on Irresistible Grace]. God Himself did so as well.

    Because I have called, and ye have refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man hath regarded; [Proverbs 1:24] 

    I will destine 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 ye did that which was evil in mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not. [Isaiah 65:12] 

    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 that which was evil in mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not. [Isaiah 66:4]

    And now, because ye have done all these works, saith Jehovah, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not: [Jeremiah 7:13] 

    therefore thus saith Jehovah, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. [Jeremiah 35:17] 

    And it is come to pass that, as he cried, and they would not hear, so they shall cry, and I will not hear, said Jehovah of hosts; [Zechariah 7:13]

To “call” means to cry out to someone in order to summon them or attract their attention, but the "out-stretched hand" denotes an attitude of fervent pleading. This is clearly seen in Psalm 88:7-9 which is the earnest prayer of a person in deep distress, apparently forsaken by God,

    Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, And thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah. Thou hast put mine acquaintance far from me; Thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth. Mine eye wasteth away by reason of affliction: I have called daily upon thee, O Jehovah; I have spread forth my hands unto thee.

This fervent appeal to a rebellious people was spoken of by Isaiah and quoted by Paul in Romans.

    I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, that walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts; [Isaiah 65:2] 

    But as to Israel he saith, All the day long did I spread out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying (to speak against or contradict) people. [Romans 10:21]

So what was God calling and earnestly entreating the people to do? Tootle off to the Temple with their two turtle doves or whatever else? In other words was He fervently beseeching them to adhere to the formal outward form of religious expression? However this is not possible according to the prophet Amos, who said it has always been about righteousness and justice.

    Forasmuch therefore as ye trample upon the poor, and take exactions from him of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink the wine thereof. For I know how manifold are your transgressions, and how mighty are your sins - ye that afflict the just, that take a bribe, and that turn aside the needy in the gate from their right.... I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Yea, though ye offer me your burnt-offerings and meal-offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. [Amos 5:11-12, 21-24] 

So Calvinism would have us believe that God was calling or fervently appealing to the people to walk in His ways, and when they refused to answer or hear (which He, not they, was responsible for) He punished them with captivity.

Then to add insult to injury He 'wept' over their situation. Similarly....

Ezekiel 18:31-32 and 33:11
If Calvinism is correct then innumerable other verses from both the Old and New Testament are not only extremely garbled, but show God is a very muddled and/or very hypocritical evil being who's intent is vastly different from His words..

    Cast away from you all your transgressions, wherein ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord Jehovah: wherefore turn yourselves, and live. [Ezekiel 18:31-32]

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

Apparently God from the foundations of time, chooses not to elect certain individuals to salvation (which ensures they will eventually perish), yet at the same time He tells them to cast away their transgressions, turn from their evil ways and live, knowing full well that they can do neither since He is unwilling to extend to them the power to do so.

Jeremiah 13:10-11 This evil people, that refuse to hear my words, that walk in the stubbornness of their heart, and are gone after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is profitable for nothing. For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith Jehovah; that they may be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

    Doesn't Calvinism teach that they would not hear because they could not hear.. and that because they are not among those elected to be so transformed that they could be saved? So why exactly does God call them evil when it is He who is withholding regeneration from them?

Jeremiah 13:16-17
Give glory to Jehovah your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because Jehovah's flock is taken captive.

    In this warning to the people, Jeremiah clearly indicates that it is Judah's pride that will cause them not to hear God's word, and brings punishment (captivity by a pagan nation) down on them. Yet the Calvinist insists that the reason they did not hear is because God had pre planned to withhold his transforming grace from them.  God is going to 'weep' over their situation which He, not they, have control over.

    He deeply desired the people of Jeremiah's time to listen to Him and turn from their evil ways but, at the same time, He never intended to make it possible for them to do so.

Amos 4:6-12

    Amos 4:6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places; yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

    Amos 4:7 And I also have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.

    Amos 4:8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city to drink water, and were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

    Amos 4:9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: the multitude of your gardens and your vineyards and your fig-trees and your olive-trees hath the palmer-worm devoured: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

    Amos 4:10  I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have carried away your horses; and I have made the stench of your camp to come up even into your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

    Amos 4:11  I have overthrown cities among you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a brand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.

    Amos 4:12  Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel; and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.

In the verses above, God apparently resorted to more and more severe measures in an effort to get the nation to "return to Him" (also see Deuteronomy 28). Obviously none of them worked since the phrase, “Yet you have not returned to me” is repeated five times in six verses. However it is totally and absolutely preposterous for God to smite the nation with ever increasing punishments because they did not return to Him, when He was the one who had not granted them the grace to do so.

Matthew 23:37
In what was His last public preaching, our Lord said this

    O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. [Matthew 23:37]

If Calvinism is true then Jesus was quite a hypocrite. He "wanted" to gather Jerusalem's children together although He had, from the beginning, unconditionally chosen not to grant them His saving grace.

There are several explanations put forward for why Jesus would lament over Jerusalem.

Arthur Pink's Version:
In his book Sovereignty of God Arthur Pink said

    But did those tears make manifest a disappointed God? Nay, verily. Instead, they displayed a perfect Man. The Man Christ Jesus was no emotionless stoic, but One "filled with compassion." Those tears expressed the sinless sympathies of His real and pure humanity. Had He not "wept" He had been less than human. Those "tears" were one of many proofs that "in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren" (Heb. 2:17). [65]

To say that Jesus was speaking not as God, but as a man is ridiculous in view of the following statements

    Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father? [John 14:9]

      When therefore he said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. [John 18:6]

    for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, [Colossians 2:9]

James White's Explanation
Since this passage comes after a scathing indictment of the Pharisees in which Jesus called them (among other things) hypocrites, offspring of vipers, and sons of them that slew the prophets, some Calvinists believe that when Jesus said "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem", He was only speaking of the leaders of Jerusalem.. the hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees. And that these corrupt leaders, who were the spiritual 'fathers' of the nation were not willing to let Jesus "gather" their children...ie. save the Jews.

In his book The Potter's Freedom [66], James White says

    The context would not lead us to conclude that this is to be taken in a universal sense, Jesus is condemning the Jewish leaders, and it is to them that He refers here. This is clearly seen in that

      1 It is to the leaders that God sent prophets;

      2 It was the Jewish leaders who killed those prophets and those sent to them;

      3 Jesus speaks of "your children," differentiating those to whom He is speaking from those that the Lord desired to gather together.

      4 The context refers to the Jewish leaders, scribes and Pharisees.

    A vitally important point to make here is that the ones the Lord desired to gather are not the ones who "were not willing! Jesus speaks to the leaders about their children that they, they leaders, would not allow Him to "gather." Jesus was not seeking to gather the leaders but their children. This one consideration alone renders the passage useless for the Arminian seeking to establish freewillism. The "children" of the leaders would be Jews who were hindered by the Jewish leaders from hearing Christ. The "you would not" then is referring to the same men indicated by the context; the Jewish leaders who "were unwilling" to allow those under their authority to hear the proclamation of the Christ.

James White then says that this verse "is speaking to the same issues" in Matthew 23:13:

    But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in ourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

There are several problems associated with this explanation. While all four are very real, it is the last that creates the most problems for Calvinism.

We simply cannot deduce that because this lament immediately follows Jesus' blistering chastisement of the Pharisees, He was speaking only to them and not the general population of Jerusalem. These words of Jesus are also recorded in Luke 13:34-35, the context of which is vastly different from that of Matthew 23. In Luke 13 some of the Pharisees had just warned Jesus to leave Jerusalem because Herod was trying to kill Him.

There is no basis to make a distinction between Jerusalem (the leaders) and the children of Jerusalem (the people). God commonly called His people both "Israel" and the "children of Israel". Noting that the situation in Matthew 23 bears some resemblance to Jeremiah 4 inasmuch as, in both accounts, Jerusalem is about to be destroyed due to the sins of it's people. In Jeremiah 4 God speaks to "this people and to Jerusalem" (V.11), then says "

    O Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved" (V. 14)... "make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem,"... For my people are foolish, they know me not; they are sottish children, and they have no understanding; they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge (V.22).

It should be very obvious that when the Lord told Jerusalem 'wash it's heart', He was not speaking to brick and mortar buildings, but to His people that dwelt in the city. Besides which, in the following verse, no one can possibly imagine that the priests and Levites were excluded because only the children of Israel are spoken of

    "A voice is heard upon the bare heights, the weeping and the supplications of the children of Israel; because they have perverted their way, they have forgotten Jehovah their God." [Jeremiah 3:21]

Or that everyone but the priests would be returned to their land

    but, As Jehovah liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the countries whither he had driven them. And I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. [Jeremiah 16:15] 

If Jesus' expression of grief over Jerusalem in verse 37 was addressed only to the Pharisees, His words in the very next verses (38 and 39) would also have to be directed only to them.

    Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

There is no consensus of opinion on what situation Jesus was referring to... Some believe He was speaking of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, others the final restoration of Israel or even His Second Coming. However none of the situations can be applied only to the leaders of Jerusalem. 

    The Scribes and Pharisees were not the one who would call him "Blessed" when they next saw Him. They continued their hostility towards Jesus to the point of ensuring He was killed. It was the common people who waved palm branches and called "Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest" [John 12:12-13, Luke 19: 36-18]. In fact Luke tells us, in verse 39, that the Pharisees called on Jesus to restrain His disciples.

    If Jesus were speaking of the final restoration of Israel then He had to speaking to all of the people of Jerusalem, not just the Scribes and Pharisees.

The fourth problem has to be considered in light of the Calvinist belief that God is sovereign over all creation to the point that "the elect" have absolutely nothing to do with their own salvation. It is God who unconditionally elects them and since the sinner has not even the slightest desire to please God, it is God who must give him a new heart (regeneration) thereby making him willing. Remember also that Calvinists believe this grace of God is irresistible which means the Holy Spirit can overcome all resistance.

But according to James White the leaders were not only "unwilling" to allow those under their authority to hear the proclamation of the Christ. but would not let Jesus "gather" the people to Himself. Mr. White himself ties this to Matthew 23:13 where Jesus says [Emphasis Added]...

    "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in ourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in".

Herein lies the conundrum

    If God has unconditionally elected some or all of the people of Jerusalem to be saved, then the Pharisees "not allowing" Jesus to gather them to Himself or "shutting off the kingdom of heaven" from them means that they (the Pharisees) were more powerful than God.

    If the people were not counted among the elect, then it was not the Pharisees, but God who had closed the doors of Heaven against them by not granting them His saving grace.

    On the other hand if these people were hopelessly reprobate and preordained NOT to be saved then Jesus was quite hypocritical when He said that He longed to gather them to Himself..

Jesus Marvelled
Mark 6:6

Interestingly Mark 6:6 says that Jesus sometimes "marvelled" (Greek thaumazo) at the unbelief of his hearers. But if Total Inability were true then it could not have been any surprise to Jesus that men did not believe in Him or what He taught. By the same token...

Luke 7:9 says that Jesus marvelled (Greek thaumazo) at the Centurion's faith, going as far as to say that He had not found so great a faith in Israel. If faith is, as Calvinism claims, a gift of God and that man can do nothing of himself to stir up faith, then what was there to marvel at? Why would Jesus praise the centurions great faith which was merely faith that God has sovereignly bestowed on him. [Also See Why Does The Bible Praise Faith? in Section Irresistible Grace]

If Calvinism is true then both God's and Jesus' weeping and mourning over innumerable people who refused to repent because they could not do so is nothing but an elaborate sham. If God has been that moved by the plight of people through the ages, why did He not simply grant them His Irresistible Grace which would have caused all of them to have a change of heart and begin to hear and return to Him, thus avoiding all round misery?

But Calvinism would have us believe that God quite simply wasted not only His time, but the time and efforts of His prophets in pleading with those could never respond unless, of course, He regenerated them.

Part 9.. The Conclusion


End Notes
[60] As quoted by John Piper in What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism. Web site of the Bethlehem Baptist Church.

[60b] John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge, Chapter 23. Refutation Of The Calumnies By Which This Doctrine Is Always Unjustly Assailed. Pgs. 2233.

[61] Dr. Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Chapter XVI.

[62] The Five Points of Calvinism.

[63] Can you help me understand God's perfect will versus His permissive will? Study By: admin

[64] What is the difference between God's sovereign will and God's perfect will?

[65] Arthur W. Pink. Sovereignty of God. Lulu.com, 2007. Chapter 11 -  Difficulties and Objections. Page 124. Online at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pink/sovereignty.xiv.html

[66] James White. The Potter's Freedom: Calvary Press; Revised edition (May 15, 2000) Pgs 137-138]


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