Calvin Warning About Predestination

John Calvin noted that if anyone with carefree assurance breaks into this place, he will not succeed in satisfying his curiosity and he will enter a labyrinth from which he can find no exit

Calvin on Predestination

"In Book III, Chapter XXI of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin addresses the danger of curiosity in his discussion on predestination by stating: "Human curiosity renders the discussion of predestination, already somewhat difficult of itself, very confusing and even dangerous. [Therefore] if anyone with carefree assurance breaks into this place, he will not succeed in satisfying his curiosity and he will enter a labyrinth from which he can find no exit." (III, XXI, 1, pp. 922 23)

He follows with this solution:

"The Word of the Lord is the sole way that can lead us in our search or all that it is lawful to hold concerning him,

and is the sole light to illumine our vision of all that we should see of him, it will readily keep and restrain us from all rashness; Let this, therefore, first of all be before our eyes: to seek any other knowledge of predestination than what the Word of God discloses is not less insane than if one should purpose to walk in a pathless waste, or to see in darkness" (III, XXI, 2, p. 923).

"Calvin then warns against a second danger of avoiding the question of predestination by saying:

"Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which, as nothing is omitted that is both necessary and useful to know, so nothing is taught but what is expedient to know.

Therefore we must guard against depriving believers of anything disclosed about predestination in Scripture, lest we seem either wickedly to defraud them of the blessing of their God or to accuse and scoff at the Holy Spirit for having published what it is in any way profitable to suppress;

Whoever, then, heaps odium upon the doctrine of predestination openly reproaches God, as if he had unadvisedly let slip something hurtful to the church" (III, XXI, 3-4, pp. 924, 926).

Servetus would surely take that warning seriously after being burned at the stake using the "slow roast" when Calvin voted for the fast roast or smothering..

Calvin recognizes that people are evil for some reason and they will not hear God:

"In discussing the objections of those who oppose that the wicked perish by God's ordination, Calvin replies: "We; confess that the wicked suffer nothing out of accord with God's most righteous judgment.

Despite the fact that we do not clearly grasp the reason for this, let us not be unwilling to admit some ignorance where God's wisdom rises to its height" (III, XXIV, 14, p. 982). To explain the cause of the hardness of the wicked's hearts, Calvin explains:

"The fact that the reprobate do not obey God's Word when it is made known to them will be justly charged against the malice and depravity of their hearts,

provided it be added at the same time that they have been given over to this depravity

because they have been raised up by the just but inscrutable judgment of God to show forth his glory in their condemnation.

God raised up Pharaoh to show forth His Wisdom. This means that God preserved and used the evil already in Pharoah and not that He made Pharaoh evil.

Oh, yes, we noted that the gods of burning, such as Molech, delighted in the screams of innocent children assigned by their parents and clergy to burn to death to the beat of music so that the priest could interpret this unknown tongue as a message from the god to the parents or to the nation.

However, Scripture says that:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient; 2 Timothy 2:24

In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 2 Timothy 2:25

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 2 Timothy 2:26

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, Hebrews 6:4

And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, Hebrews 6:5

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 2 Timothy Hebrews 6:6

We can fail to benefit from the Grace by our own actions:

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Heb 12:15

Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. Hebrews 12:16

For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. Hebrews 12:17

If Esau had no choice in losing his physical inheritance (not his salvation) then why would Paul warn people not to do what Esau did?

John Calvin: "Similarly, when it is narrated of Eli's sons that they did not heed his wholesome admonitions, 'for it was the will of the Lord to slay them' (I Sam 2:25),

it is not denied that their stubbornness arose out of their own wickedness;

but at the same time it is noted why they were left in their stubbornness,

even though the Lord could have softened their hearts;

because his immutable decree had once for all destined them to destruction.

They were decreed to destruction because of their own wickedness. It is not evil of God to leave people in the contition they have placed themselves.

John Calvin: "On the same point is John's statement: 'Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in him. It was that the word of . . . Isaiah might be fulfilled: ''Lord, who has believed our report' (John 12:37-33; Isa. 53:1)?; Paul's statement confirms this: 'Christ a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, the power and wisdom of God' (I Cor. 1:23-24).

For when he stated what usually happens whenever the gospel is preached; namely, that it irritates some, is spurned by others; he says that it is prized only among 'those who are called" (III, XXIV, 14, p. 981)!

When people reject the Word of God totally, he closes their eyes. However, if they were predestinated why wouldn't God close their eyes and ears BFEFORE:

Then said I, Woe is me for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Isa 6:5

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Isa 6:9

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Isa 6: 10

Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, Isa 6: 11

And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. Isa 6: 12

The story of Eli: God pledged to have these two men killed but He does not speak of their eternal destiny:

Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 1 Samuel 2:22

And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. 1 Samuel 2:23

Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lords people to transgress. 1 Samuel 2:24

If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them. 1 Samuel 2:25

By reading the rest of the story we know that God planned to bring the house of Eli to an end because of the willful sin of his sons and because of Eli's willful refusal to restrain them. That is, God "predestinated" to end Eli's rule because Eli refused to obey God's will:

And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. 1 Samuel 3:11

In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. 1 Samuel 3:12

For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 1 Samuel 3:13

And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. 1 Samuel 3:14

If Eli had restrained his sons they would not have sinned and God would not have brought the family rule to an end. If this does not refute Calvin then God was just speaking nonesense in the above verses. Because God meant what He said, Calvin is wrong.

When the Ark was taken and Eli's sons were slain, he fell over dead when he heard the news:

And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. 1 Samuel 4:11

Finaly, the "house" or family no longer served God in Shiloh which God deserted (1Kings 2:27)

John Calvin Again: Paul's statement confirms this: 'Christ a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, the power and wisdom of God' (I Cor. 1:23-24). For when he stated what usually happens whenever the gospel is preached; namely, that it irritates some, is spurned by others; he says that it is prized only among 'those who are called" (III, XXIV, 14, p. 981)!

Let us take a look at this and see if Calvin is correct:

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 1 Corinthians 1:23

But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 1 Corinthians 1:26

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 1 Corinthians 1:27

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 1 Corinthians 1:28

However, this was because they thought of themselves wise. When they turned to the Lord those who had been blind would begin to understand:

But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 2 Corinthians 3:15

Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:16

Like the potter's clay, some people just refuse to be molded in God's hands. However, when wicked people headed for damnation, turn in another direction they are headed toward salvation:

And there ye shall serve gods, the work of mens hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. Deuteronomy 4:28

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; Deuteronomy 4:30

(For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them. Deuteronomy 4:31

The purpose of John and Jesus was to turn those heading to destruction into the way of righteousness. If they were headed into destruction and Christ did not come would they be lost? Then the coming and death of Jesus Christ was in vain.

If they were "already predestinated" and Jesus couldn't turn them didn''t He die in vain. Of John the Baptist, it was prophesied:

For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mothers womb. Luke 1:15

And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. Luke 1:16

And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17

And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Hebrews 2:13

If the lost continued to be lost and the saved continued to be saved then John surely wasted his time and life!

Kenneth Sublett

See Predestination and Molech Parallel.

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