I've now read through David Cloud's article on "Cavinism's Proof Texts Examined" and want to address some of what he said.
"Ephesians 1:11 -- “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
This is a marvelous verse and tells us how great God is, but it says nothing about whether God has given man a will and to what extent he can exercise that will. It says nothing about whether a sinner can believe on Christ savingly. To say that God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will is not contrary to the doctrine that God created man with a will and with the ability to respond to God or to reject God. It is the Calvinist that creates this alleged “problem” and then answers it by his own logic rather than by the plain teaching of Scripture."
Well, if we read the entire text in context, we read further that this absolutely speaks of salvation. It is not a Calvinist creating any problem at all. Let's see the entire passage:
1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Paul is an apostle by the will of God - he doesn't say it was of his own will.
2Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
God has chosen us before the foundation of the world - not because of what He saw we'd do because then that's not His choosing us but us choosing him. He chose us to be blameless. That's most certainly speaking of salvation since no one can be blameless apart from the blood of the Lamb of God.
5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Who are His children but those who are believers - who have obtained salvation through Him. Why are predestined to be His children? For the good pleasure of His will. Not for anything that we've done but because it's His choice.
6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Here again we see the word "predestinated" and it's attached to His own will - not based on any knowledge that we will choose Him in the future but after the counsel of His own will.
12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
So back to what David Cloud said about this one verse inside this passage "This is a marvelous verse and tells us how great God is, but it says nothing about whether God has given man a will and to what extent he can exercise that will. It says nothing about whether a sinner can believe on Christ savingly. To say that God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will is not contrary to the doctrine that God created man with a will and with the ability to respond to God or to reject God. It is the Calvinist that creates this alleged “problem” and then answers it by his own logic rather than by the plain teaching of Scripture."
It is very correct that this passage says nothing about man's will because man's will does not come into play in this passage. Why? Because it has nothing to do with what this passage is saying apparently. It absolutely does speak of whether a sinner can believe on Christ savingly in verses 13 and 14. How can he say that God working all things according to His will is not contrary to the idea that man has full free will and can thwart God's will? This argument makes no sense when we see the verse in context.
Daniel 4:35 -- “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”
This statement was made by king Nebuchadnezzar after he was punished by God and his reason had returned to him and he had repented of his pride. This verse is stating simply that God is God and He rules ultimately over the affairs of men. The verse says nothing about whether or not man can accept or reject the gospel, about whether God’s grace is resistible. It says nothing about whether God sovereignly chooses some men to election and some to reprobation. For a sinner to refuse to repent is not to “stay God’s hand,” because God’s eternal program rolls right on regardless of what individual men do in these or any other matters.
Wow - Mr. Cloud is putting a lot of stuff on this verse. Note the important part of this verse - that Mr. Cloud cannot refute: "none can stay his hand or say unto him, What doest thou?" Can we say to God "No" when God has chosen to do something? No. Nebuchadnezzar realized that - and that is just what this verse is saying. No, it is not speaking about the gospel - because Jesus Christ hadn't come yet. It doesn't speak of election or reprobation but it does speak of God's character and law. Nothing we can do can stop God. Period.
Psalm 115:3 -- “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”
We definitely believe that God does whatsoever pleases, and we bless His name that what He pleases is always righteous and good. Further, God has revealed His pleasure in the Scriptures, and the Scriptures tell us that it was His pleasure to send Jesus to die so that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish.”
Was it God's "pleasure" to send Jesus to die - or was it pleasure to be able to give us the kingdom? It depends on your meaning of "pleasure". I don't think that God took pleasure in sending Jesus to the cross. Here are verses which speak of God's pleasure:
1 Chronicles 29:17 "I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness."
Psalm 35:27 "Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant."
Psalm 147:11 "The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy."
Psalm 149:4 "For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation."
Luke 12:32 "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom"
Philippians 2:13 "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Revelation 4:11 "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created"
God takes pleasure in our fearing Him, our uprightness, our well-being, in his people, to give us the kingdom, in working in us, and in his creation.
Isaiah 14:27 -- “For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”
The context of this verse is God’s determination to judge the nations. “This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations” (verse 26). Indeed, when God purposes something His will cannot be thwarted. But this verse says nothing about Sovereign Election or Sovereign Reprobation or Irresistible Grace or any of the points of TULIP theology.
Yet it points to God's character and God's sovereign will. "Who shall turn it back?" is a very important point. If God stretches His hand to all men, who shall turn it back? No one. God's call is effective - John 6:37 says "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Note that it is the Father who gives to the Son and the Son will not cast out those who the Father sends. So where does that leave those who say they come of their own will?
Acts 15:18 -- “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”
This verse simply says that God knows all of His works and has always known them. It says nothing one way or the other about any of the points of TULIP. That God knows all of His works from the beginning of the world is not to say that men are sovereignly elected to salvation or reprobation. It is not to say that God preordains everything that happens.
When read in context, we see that there was dispute about the Gentiles and whether they should be circumcised or not. It is the end of a writing by a prophet speaking that God knows all of His works from the beginning of time - the He knew He would redeem the Gentiles too. Yes, it's not directly about election - other than the fact that God knows all that He will do in the future and the past.
Proverbs 16:9 -- “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”
This verse does not support Calvinism, because it says that man’s heart deviseth his way. Thus it teaches that man has a will that he can exercise. The fact that God overrules man’s decisions and has the final say in all matters is not contrary to the doctrine that man has a will whereby he can accept or reject God’s dealings with him.
This verse absolutely speaks of God directing a man's steps despite what man decides in his heart. It does not teach that man has a will he can exercise.
Proverbs 19:21 -- “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.”
Again, this verse does not support Calvinism, because it says man wills things in his heart. The fact that God’s counsel overrules man’s will is not a defense for Calvinism. Those that the Calvinist calls (usually falsely) “Arminians” believe this, as well.
This is a great verse telling us that even if a man plans and plots something, God's will is sovereign and it's His counsel that will stand. Praise God that we cannot thwart His plans!
Proverbs 21:1 -- “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”
The fact that the Lord overrules the king’s heart does not prove Calvinism’s doctrine of the sovereign predestination of all things nor does it prove Calvinism’s doctrine that man cannot accept or reject God’s offer of salvation. These Proverbs teach the simple and important doctrine that though man has a will that he exercises within the sphere of freedom that God assigns to him, it is God who ultimately determines whether man is allowed to act out his will or not.
Exactly. Man has a will - but God can and will override that will when it's HIS will to do so.
Proverbs 21:30 -- “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.”
This verse means that there is no ultimate counsel against the Lord and that He always has the final say. We know from other Scriptures that the devil and sinners have made many counsels against the Lord, but that counsel cannot stand. It does not follow that man has no will that he can exercise either for or against the Lord. He can definitely exercise such a will and he does and by so doing he hangs himself with his own rope, because God always has the final say, and He has said that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
Mark 16:16 does not contradict the idea that God has the final say or that man has a free will. Man has a free will to do whatever he wants. Unfortunately in his sinful nature, that "want" is not Christ unless the Father calls him.
Psalm 33:11 -- “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.”
That the counsel of the Lord stands forever, and we know that it does, does not mean that God could not have sovereignly determined to create man with a will that he can exercise and with the ability even to go so far as to believe in God or not to believe in God.
This is true. But with the whole counsel of Scripture, we see differently.
Isaiah 14:27 -- “For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”
Nothing that God purposes can be disannulled, but this does not mean that God foreordains everything that happens, even the decisions and actions of men and devils. God has purposed that “whosoever believeth” in Jesus Christ “should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That Almighty God has given sinners a choice in the matter does nothing to overthrow His sovereignty or power.
Correct, this verse does not say that God forordained everything that happens. It is absolutely true that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 16:37 tells us more about this: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Who comes to Jesus? Those the Father has given to Him. Will anyone come to Him that He will not allow to be saved? No. Scripture tells us that no one comes to the Son unless the Father draws him and we see in this verse that all that the Father gives to Jesus will come. Isn't that cool??
Isaiah 46:9-10 -- “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”
That God’s counsel shall stand and He will do all of His pleasure is not to say that “no actions of men, no errands can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed” (Pink). For God to allow something and ultimately to work that thing into His overall program for the ages is not the same as purposing it. God’s counsel is revealed in Scripture, and there we learn that God has given man a will that he can exercise against God. We see this in the Garden of Eden, and in the case of Adam and Eve’s firstborn Cain, and in the case of the world before the Flood, and in the case of the Tower of Babel, and in the case of Israel before the coming of Christ, and in the case of Israel during the earthly days of Christ, and in the case of sinners today, and throughout history.
Honestly, I have not seen much if any support that man has a free will that can override God's sovereignty. Yes, man has a free will but that free will will not allow him to choose God because he is dead in sin. Just as a lion will not climb a tree and eat fruit even though he has the full ability to do it and the free will to do it, he will not do it unless his nature is changed. In the same way we know from Scripture that no one is righteous and none will seek the Father of their own will. It MUST be the Father who draws them. And all that the Father gives the Son will be saved. It's not hard to see this all through Scripture.
I also once believed that man had a fully free will and God just stands there saying "Come on!! You can do it! I have this gift for you! Take it!" like a mother trying to coax her child to walk, but after reading Scripture, I've found more and more that God's sovereign will is greater than man's free will - and man's free will cannot save him. I do still believe that man's will has a place in the scheme of things but exactly how it works, I don't know. But I do know that God doesn't stand there waiting just hoping with clasped hands seeing if we'll choose Him or not. That's not supported in Scripture.
I'll work on more later - it's time for me to run out. :)