13 A Biblical Look at God’s Decrees

It should not be necessary to continue to build the case that the doctrine of Calvinism necessitates that a person believe God to be the author of sin. That which has already been provided should be sufficient enough to establish this fact. Instead, let us consider what the Bible teaches the truth to be.

 

At the heart of this issue is William Tucker’s question, “For does, or can, any thing come to pass, and the Lord command it not?”[1] Tucker understands the answer to this question to be, “No.” Likewise, John Calvin was convinced that God maintains absolute control over all things to the extent that He predetermines it and orders it to come to pass.*[2] In 1646, this doctrine was firmly established in The Westminster Confession of Faith:

The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends …[3]

 

Calvinism may teach that nothing happens apart from the command of God, but this is not what Scripture teaches:

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. (emphasis added)

~ Leviticus 10:1

“And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded(emphasis added)

~ Deuteronomy 17:3

“They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind(emphasis added)

~ Jeremiah 19:5

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

~ Jeremiah 32:35

 

These passages reveal in plain language that men have done things which were not according to God’s will or decree. Jeremiah 19:5 is especially interesting because it says that not only did they act apart from the command of God, but they did that which did not even come into the mind of God. In other words, God was not secretly intending or hoping that they would do these things. There was no part of God that willed this to occur.

 

If, as Calvinism teaches, God has a revealed will and a secret will, then Jeremiah 19:5 is a lie. According to this teaching, God revealed that His will was for the Israelites not to offer their children as sacrifices to the false god, Baal. However, seeing as they did offer their children, God’s secret will must have been that they do offer their children as sacrifices to Baal in order that God might ultimately receive greater honor.[4] If Calvinism is correct in its teaching about God’s secret will, then this had to be in God’s mind. However, God tells us in Jeremiah 19:5 that He was not secretly willing this or even thinking about willing it. Clearly, the claim that God has a revealed will and a secret will is not in accordance with Scripture.

 

If the Bible rejects the notion that God has a revealed will and a secret will, then we too must reject it. If the Bible teaches that man can act apart from God’s command, then we must reject the Calvinist teaching that man can do only those things which God has decreed from eternity past.

 


  1. Tucker, Predestination Calmly Considered from Principles of Reason, 52.
  2. “But of all the things which happen, the first cause is to be understood to be His will, because He so governs the natures created by Him, as to determine all the counsels and the actions of men to the end decreed by Him.” (Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, 178.)
  3. Westminster Confession of Faith, V:4.
  4. “This secret will is ‘always effected, always fulfilled.’”(Pink, The Sovereignty of God, 244)

License

A Biblical Look at God's Decrees Copyright © 2011 by Timothy Zebell. All Rights Reserved.

Feedback/Errata

Comments are closed.