Was Judas predestined to be lost?

Was Judas predestined to be lost?

Judas on The Giving blog by Cheryl Schatz

Is Judas a problem for your theology? He can be a problem if some of your beliefs come from tradition and not from the Scriptures. In this article, I would like to discuss the full Scriptural view of Judas and ask you to test your own understanding against what the Scripture reveals.

What was the history of Judas as one of the Disciples?

Judas was a follower of Jesus who was chosen with eleven others to be Jesus’ apostles.

Luke 6:13 (NASB) And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:

As a disciple of Jesus, he was sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom and to do miracles.

Matthew 10:5–8 (NASB)

5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;

6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.

Notice it was the twelve that Jesus sent out and Judas was among the twelve according to Matthew 10:4. Judas was given authority over sickness and the enemy just as the other apostles received. Jesus also said that the twelve were sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  

Matthew 10:16 (NASB) “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.

How did Jesus treat Judas?

Jesus treated Judas with love just as He treated the other disciples even though He knew that Judas would betray Him.  When many of Jesus’ disciples left Him after Jesus spoke about coming down from heaven and eating his body and drinking his blood (John 6), Judas stayed with Jesus, but for reasons other than faith.  When Jesus asked if the apostles would also like to go away, Peter answered:

John 6:68–69 (NASB)

68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.

69 “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Peter spoke for all the apostles by saying “we have believed,” but Jesus corrected him by exposing the hidden nature of one of them.

John 6:70 (NASB) Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?”

Jesus placed Himself as responsible for choosing the one who would be exposed as a devil. But even knowing that one of His apostles was a devil, an opposer of God, he treated Judas with uncompromising love.

John 13:1 (NASB) Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

Judas was still in Jesus’ care, and Judas experienced the servanthood of Jesus. Jesus showed love toward His disciples by washing their feet.

John 13:4–5 (NASB) (He) got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

Although Jesus acted in love towards Judas, Jesus said that not all the apostles were clean.

John 13:10–11 (NASB)

10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”

11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”

What did Jesus do for Judas that turned everything upside down?

What Jesus does next is absolutely amazing! The entire account can be seen by comparing the gospel accounts of the last supper.

In Matthew Jesus gives a command:

Matthew 26:26–28 (NASB)

26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;

28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Jesus reveals that the bread that He broke is His body, and He commands them all to drink from the cup which He said is the blood of the covenant.

Did Judas also partake? Did he obey the command of Jesus to eat and drink the sign of the covenant? Mark and Luke tell us the rest of the story.

Mark 14:18–24 (NASB)

18 As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.”

19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?”

20 And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl.

21 “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.”

22 While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.”

23 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

Again Jesus is said to command them to take the bread, and He gave the cup to them to drink, and they all drank from it! Some may say that they had thought Judas was not there for the institution of the new covenant, but Luke, the author who wrote the time ordered account wrote:

Luke 22:19–22 (NASB)

19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

21 “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table.

22 “For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”

Notice first of all that Jesus said that the cup which is the new covenant in His blood is for you. Notice also that after Jesus gives the bread and the wine which is the new covenant in His blood, He said: “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table.” Jesus clearly identified that Judas was there with Him when He commanded them all to partake. Judas was with Jesus as all the disciples partook of the sign of the new covenant.

Why did Jesus offer His body and His blood to Judas?

Jesus offered His body and blood to Judas because Jesus was going to die for the sins of Judas as well as the sins of the other apostles. Those who say that Jesus died for only those who will be saved have to face the words of Jesus in Luke 22:21.  Jesus did not go to the cross for the sins of only His sheep. He died for Judas too.

Why did Jesus die for Judas when Judas would end up dying in his sins?

There are two reasons why Jesus would die for Judas even though Judas would be lost.

1.  Jesus said that there is no greater love than this:

John 15:13 (NASB) “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Was Jesus a friend to Judas? We know that Judas was no friend to Jesus, but in spite of the betrayal of Judas, Jesus showed His love to the end by dying for His friend. Jesus was the true friend of Judas.

Matthew 26:49–50 (NASB)

49 Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

50 And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.

Jesus called Judas “Friend.” Jesus’ word to Judas was so fitting because shortly after that He would lay down His life for His friends.

2.  The failure of Judas cannot limit the faithfulness of God. Just because Judas would rebel against Jesus and then Judas would die in his sin, Judas could not limit God’s faithfulness. 2 Timothy 2:13 tells us why.

2 Timothy 2:13 (NASB) If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Jesus cannot deny Himself. He cannot be faithless even when many are faithless. He must remain faithful.

What about those who were in hell before Jesus died?

Jesus still died for them. He cannot deny Himself. The price He paid must be faithful even in the face of the unfaithfulness of any sinner. They cannot limit His death just because they chose to deny the light that was given to them. If you say that God cannot be faithful even with the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus because of the unfaithfulness of people, you have limited the Sovereignty of God.  It is not a waste of the blood of Jesus when He dies for an unbeliever who ends up in hell, because by showing the greatest form of love to those He calls “friend” but who are His enemies, He has shown His glory by exhibiting the ultimate example of faithfulness. God is the faithful Sovereign who cannot be limited by unfaithfulness.

But didn’t Jesus die for “many” and not all?

Jesus did die for “many” however “many” is a synonym for “all.”  It is never a synonym for “few.” In fact in Romans 5:15 the term “many” is connected to all who die because of the sin of Adam and the same word is used for the grace of Jesus Christ given for the same “many.”

Romans 5:15 (NASB) But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

Was Judas predestined to be lost?

Judas was not set up without a choice to go into perdition. Jesus died for Judas so that he would have eternal life. While God planned to use a betrayer to bring about the death of Jesus, God could not unconditionally predestinate Judas to hell because God cannot deny Himself. His character is faithfulness, and His love is far beyond what we could ever conceive.

50 thoughts on “Was Judas predestined to be lost?

  1. I appreciate the good overall summary with minor quibbles. Jesus Christ Superstar portrayed Judas as a predestined puppet, but this is not biblical. A careful look at the chronology shows him to be chosen as an apostle after a night of prayer, but only later becoming a son of perdition and filled with Satan, contrary to God’s intention.

    Some free will theists believe in once saved always saved (OSAS), while Calvinists believe in POTS/perseverance of the saints. I personally see conditional vs unconditional perseverance in Scripture. I think Judas illustrates apostasy/falling away from truth (genuine believer vs fake becoming unbeliever and forfeiting salvation).

    What is your view on OSAS, Cheryl? I agree with you contra-determinism/predestination/decree in the case of Judas (God wanted Judas to repent instead of just remorse).

  2. Thank you godrulz37 for the kind words!

    Your question is a very good question. I am not going to answer here in the comment section because I believe this issue is too important to be buried in a comment. I will mark this one as deserving a post in the future. Thanks for bringing it up!

  3. Thanks for your comment, Derek and your question!

    I believe that Judas benefited from the sacrifice of Jesus because of the great love that Jesus showed him even when he was giving himself over to Satan. As far as what benefit that Judas would have eternally, the eternal benefit does not belong to him but is weighed in God’s favour.

    God’s judgment of Judas at the great white throne will be seen eternally as a just act because it is determined both by God’s patience and love towards Judas, but also by Judas’ rejection of that love. There is no doubt in my mind that God will receive glory through His just condemnation of Judas. Glory because Judas was not pre-ordained to his condemnation and God prepared a place for him through the cross. There is no better show of love than the sacrifice that Jesus gave even for Judas. By loving him to the end, Jesus showed the faithfulness of God. If I can clearly see the Lord’s love for Judas, even though He knew that Judas’ heart was hardened towards Him, how could I possibly doubt that God loves me and that He will not reject me when I respond to His wooing?

    I hope that this answers your question, and if not, please feel free to push for further clarification.

  4. I concur. The objective, perfect provision intended for all must be subjectively appropriated (freely) to be efficacious individually.

  5. Jn. 3:16 vs Jn. 3:36; I Tim. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; I Jn. 5:11-13; Jn. 1:12; Rom. 10:9-10

  6. Derek sent me a question that I will post and then answer because for some reason he cannot get a comment to post. Not sure what is happening.

    The question is: Could Judas have repented and made Jesus out to be a liar?

  7. Derek is thinking of great questions showing that he is thinking through what Jesus said about Judas.

    It is impossible for Judas to have repented once Jesus prophesied that the “son of perdition” would perish (John 17:12). Jesus perfectly knew Judas’ heart and He perfectly knew the future. Judas had given himself over to Satan and Satan had already entered him (John 13:27).

  8. My answer is “no”. It is impossible for Jesus to be a false prophet and this is what Jesus said about Judas:

    Matthew 26:24 (NASB)
    24“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.”

    Now I am to throw a question back at Derek, or whoever would like to take the challenge from a Calvinist perspective. What does Jesus mean when He said that for Judas, the one who would betray Him, that it would have been better if he had not been born?

  9. I think it would be better for anyone to have not been born than to go to hell for all eternity. Not sure why this is a Calvinist question though. Maybe you could help me with that.

  10. Hey Derek, you made it through! Great!!

    Okay, think this one through with me. If Judas was predetermined to be lost (not be saved from eternity past by God’s decree) then how would it have been better if he died before he was born then if he died at the time he died? Would he not have gone to hell in both instances?

  11. Do Calvinists say that some babies who are aborted or die before moral/mental capacity go to hell (double predestination, even of babies)?!

    I do not believe that Judas the individual was specifically prophesied or named in the Old Testament. There are many e.g. of OT verses, even about Jesus, being applied by way of parallel situation or illustratively (while others are explicitly predictive prophecy relating to the Messiah).

  12. I don’t think Jesus was saying that the chance existed that Judas would have died before he was born and ruined the prophecy. I believe He was simply pointing out that his eternal destiny is horrible. God surely would not let something He wants to take place be ruined by anything. I don’t think God actively made Judas betray Jesus by the way. I think it was like Joseph’s brothers. Judas is fully responsible for his actions yet God meant it for His purposes. What do you think?

  13. Some Calvinist may say something like that but I do not believe in double predestination. I also don’t talk of things that Scripture doesn’t speak to (to the best of my ability). Once Jesus said it we more fully understood who the prophecy spoke of. Do you think it could have been one of His other disciples? Someone else entirely? Do you think it could have been prevented from happening?

  14. I will answer godrulz37 first. Yes, many Calvinists (not all) believe very strongly that God predetermines the destiny of all humans and those whom He has not picked as His elect will go to hell. In their view all the non-elect will be in hell even if those non-elect ones died as a baby in their mother’s womb. The pastor that caused the church split that I previously mentioned in one of my pages, said that the miscarriages that his wife had, he is not sure if his unborn babies are in hell or not, but if they are they deserve to be there.

  15. If Judas would have repented (possible) or not gone rogue, I believe the prophecy could be applied to someone else or not at all (if it was illustrative application vs predictive; the NT would have been written differently since history would have unfolded differently). I believe the future is not fatalistically fixed in all detail (and this is how we all live regardless of our theoretical views). If you believe in unconditional election and limited atonement, there is no way to avoid double predestination, something Calvin believed yet recoiled from (odious). This alone is a good reason to reject Calvinism since it limits the love of God and makes His choices arbitrary vs good, righteous. Defaulting to mystery, antimony, paradox loopholes in the face of a conundrum is not a way out of the negative implications that impugn God’s character and ways.

  16. Babies go to heaven with Jesus, not old Catholic limbo, purgatory, etc. They do not go to hell since they lack mental and moral capacity (non-rejection of Jesus/gospel).

  17. I don’t know for sure what happens to babies or those that lack mental and moral capacity. I can only speak to what Scripture says. I hope and personally believe they will be but have nothing to stand on. I don’t believe in fatalism either. I believe in paradoxes and mysteries like the trinity, incarnation, etc.. I don’t believe in double predestination and I believe in unconditional election and limited atonement (that only those saved will make use of Jesus blood shed on the cross). I believe in reprobation and have no issue with a God that chooses for Himself by Himself. I mean no disrespect at all and thank you both for your dialogue. Good discussion.

  18. Derek, I see you as very respectful and the fact that you are willing to have a respectful discussion on areas that you are not sure about, shows a lot of strength of character.

    Now, there are several issues on this discussion that can be addressed.

    1. Was it possible for Judas to have repented at the time that Jesus called him the “son of perdition”?

    2. Was Judas the “son of perdition” before he was created and thus a “son of perdition” in his mother’s womb? And if he would have died in his mother’s womb, where would he have gone?

    3. Are babies who die in their mother’s womb or after being born but still as infants, subject to hell or does the Scripture address their state?

    Can we find Scriptural backing to answer these questions? I believe that the Scripture does address these questions and so there will be lots to dialog about.

    Since this post is about Judas let’s start with Judas and the possibility of his repentance. I am going to present what I see clearly from Jesus’ inspired words and I would love to have feedback, questions and/or challenges. I will not have much time tonight so what I start, I may have to finish later tomorrow or even the next day. I am attending a webinar this evening and preparing for a bible study that I am teaching tomorrow, so I am multi-tasking.

    I am also going to see if I can add a screen print into the comment section. I have not tested this out yet with my new blog software. More to come shortly.

  19. Regarding Matthew 26:24 the words that Jesus said about Judas. Jesus said “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!…”

    Here the term “is betrayed” is present indicative. Present tense means that it is happening right then. The indicative means that the action is described by the writer as real. It is the mood of assertion where the writer portrays something as actual as opposed to possible or contingent on intention. Because of the grammar that Jesus used, and which Matthew faithfully preserved in the written Word, Judas was already betraying Jesus and the act was already begun. Judas was committed. Satan had already entered Judas once and he would do so again after Judas left the meal. I see nothing in the text that allows for an “out” for Judas once he made the step to go this far. Jesus confirms this by His statement that the act was in motion in the present tense and that there was already a “woe” for Judas. I believe that any turning back from the betrayal would have had to happen before this point. At this point it was too late.

    Secondly Jesus’ words that it would be “good” or “better” for that man (Judas) if he had not been born.

    Consider the Greek term. It means an advantage, yes a greater advantage to the person.

    Matthew 26:24 on The Giving blog by Cheryl Schatz

  20. What Jesus is saying is that being still born, dead before their birth, is a greater advantage for Judas than the place that he is presently in. This isn’t a future happening of betrayal, but the present. What already was.

    By the way, the screen print is from the BDAG lexicon, a standard go-to lexicon for those studying the Greek.

    So would Judas as a pre-born baby have been considered innocent? That will come next.

    But if Judas had died in the womb, I agree with godrulz37 that Jesus would have chosen someone else who also had a choice to walk in the path of betrayal, rather than in the path of obedience.

    We do know from the Greek grammar that Satan asked to sift all of the disciples.

    Luke 22:31–32 (NASB)
    31“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;
    32but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

    In Luke 22:31 the “you” is plural, but in verse 32 the “you” is singular.

    Any thoughts before I add the Scriptures about the position of babies in God’s eyes?

  21. Yes, this view really seems to hurt a Sovereign view of God’s providence. I mean no disrespect by saying that, I know you would not intentionally do that and it is only my opinion. By this view, what if Jesus, John the Baptist, or anyone else prophesied died in the womb. This view seems to indicate that God’s will in providence can be thwarted. You are correct that Satan must ask permission of God to do his evil desires and so I can’t imagine death must ask the same thing of our Sovereign God. Also, before you discuss the baby thing I just want to say that I don’t know if all babies go to heaven or just some or none. I think they all do based on some Scripture but I wouldn’t say it definitively based on the lack of solid clear Scripture. Look forward to what you have to say (both of you). Thank you very much.

  22. Thanks for your comments, Derek, because this helps me to see where I need to clarify. I am not saying “if Jesus, John the Baptist, or anyone else prophesied died in the womb”.

    Jesus was the Son of God so He could not have died in the womb as He had been Sovereignly chosen to come to be the Savior. John the Baptist could not have died in the womb, since he had been Sovereignly chosen to be the forerunner of Jesus. He had the Holy Spirit and a name given to him by an angel in preparation for the work that he would do. It was not possible for any man or any foe of God to have stopped God’s Sovereign plan.

    But as for Judas. Was he Sovereignly named as the “one” who would betray Jesus? Would God have been a false prophet if Judas would have died in the womb and another would have been Jesus’ pick?

    That is a huge question. Was Judas predestined and determined by God to be the betrayer? Apparently Satan did not know who the betrayer would be since he asked God for all of the disciples to sift them all. Judas showed no determination to be the betrayer in the beginning of his ministry within the twelve.

    Let’s take another look at the prediction of the betrayer. Is there anything that would force the name Judas into the Scripture as determined by God before his birth?

    Thank you again, Derek for being so sensitive. I am not taking offence at all by what you say, but I really appreciate that you are trying hard to give me the benefit of the doubt allowing me to agree or to explain what I mean.

  23. I have trouble thinking that God just waited to see whom would become the one he prophesied about. Also, just because Satan wanted to sift them all doesn’t have anything to do with God knowing who the betrayer would be, right? God would not be considered a false prophet had it not been Judas but it was and so I have to think God not only knew who it would be but passively made it so. I believe that when God hardens he simply removes his common goodness from someone (like the Pharaoh and Egypt). I do think Judas was Sovereignly chosen as the betrayer before he was born as the Pharaoh was raised up for the purpose of destruction. God is not marred by their sins but their volunteer sins work perfectly in God’s Sovereign plan.

  24. Why cannot an omnicompetent God macro vs micromanage? Why can’t He deal responsively with creation rather than meticulously? There is nothing in the narratives to think that God decreed or predestined Pharaoh/Judas in eternity past vs providentially worked them into a real space-time plan as history unfolds. This takes more ability and intelligence than making things happen.

  25. Derek,
    You said:

    I have trouble thinking that God just waited to see whom would become the one he prophesied about.

    That is not what I am saying. In my view of the Sovereignty of God, I believe that God knows the end from the beginning. It was not a surprise to God who would end up as the betrayer. However I am saying that God did not predestine Judas so that Judas became the betrayer because he was set up from the womb in a role that he could do nothing else but fulfill. It is truth that one of the close disciples would betray Jesus. But although God knew who would walk away from all that God had given him, God cannot give a man into the hands of the evil one without the man’s decision to walk in the way of evil. You also asked:

    Also, just because Satan wanted to sift them all doesn’t have anything to do with God knowing who the betrayer would be, right?

    Yes, that is correct. While Satan was left guessing who he would be allowed to have, God was not ignorant of the future.

    You said:

    God would not be considered a false prophet had it not been Judas but it was and so I have to think God not only knew who it would be but passively made it so.

    There is nothing in the Old Testament that pre-determined that the close friend of Jesus would be Judas. God did not prophesy this before Judas’ birth. Jesus did prophesy the truth when Judas had already taken the step that had no turning back. Jesus also knew who the betrayer would be in the future years before, as He predicted that one was a devil years before, but He never gave any indication which one it was.

    John 6:70 (NASB)
    70Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?”

    Can you please explain what you mean when you said “God…passively made it so”. It seems to me that passively would be a reference to His foreknowledge, but how does God’s foreknowledge make a man the most cursed human sinner who ever lived?

    If I have time tonight I will explain about God’s view of babies. Still have to finish my bible study.

  26. Am I correct to assume that Derek believes God predestined Judas in particular ?by decree in eternity past to be the betrayer; that Cheryl denies this predetermination, but God still knows based on simple foreknowledge and that Judas could have been good due to free will (but if God knows this as a certainty in the past, then is Judas the originator of his own choices and can the future really be changed if foreknowledge fixes it?). My view is that history freely unfolded with God actively intervening at times, but not all times. Judas, Hitler, Pharaoh, etc. were desired by God to be righteous. When they set their own course, God responded providentially and allowed things, mitigated things, used things in His wisdom and intelligence. So, a chessmaster analogy has more merit than a cause-effect one.

  27. I think it has been determined that Derek will speak for himself 😉 As for me I see nothing in the Scriptures that tell me I should believe that Judas was to be unconditionally given over to Satan, which would make this an act determined by God from eternity past. I really only want to follow what the Scriptures say, rather than to let men’s determinism influence me.

    However I would not say that God’s foreknowledge is simple. God’s foreknowledge does not unconditionally determine human sin, but He does see every choice that can and will be made by humans who are created in His image.

    When I was studying the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine years ago to reach them for Christ, I came face to face with their doctrine that God cannot know the future without that knowledge actively determining mankind’s choice. They seem to believe, without saying it this way that God would not be fair to anyone should He know in advance that particular person’s destiny. But what I actually see in the story of Jesus is not only a fairness to Judas, but an attitude so loving it is mind boggling. I know that I would struggle with patience and kindness towards a person that I would know would kill my children, because I know that I am not free from bias nor have I attained full unconditional love for all. In Jesus I see the Father’s love and it makes me love Him so much for the price He paid. No one deserved the Father’s love less than Judas did, but He received no less love than did Peter. And because Jesus did not predestine Judas to betray Him, Jesus is free from the blood of Judas.

  28. I agree again with the gist of your view on Judas. I do not believe that foreknowledge determines choices in the Arminian view, but I do believe there are problems with the view (simple foreknowledge is the generic name for God seeing the future and is usually associated with eternal now/timeless views).

  29. It seems to me that I am the one who is simplistic. I just believe that when Jesus said about the past “I am”, rather than “I was” He meant what He said. I do believe that He is the eternal I AM and that somehow God felt it important for us to know that the present tense belongs to Him. I honestly just accept that even though it is way above my own human brain capacity. Years ago I told a Jehovah’s Witness who could not get his head around Jesus being God in the flesh, that when his God is big enough, he won’t have any problems accepting that. He told me that it gave him a jolt. when he came out of the Witnesses, he told me how much that had affected him to think that he was seeing God as far less then God is.

    I want to push myself to catch wherever I might be limiting God by my own understanding. I may not ever fully be able to understand Him because of my own limitations, but I can believe Him whenever He tells me He is what He is.

  30. We should never limit God. I would not embrace a view that limited God (except if God voluntarily self-limits Himself as He does at time…He could lock Satan up, but He has not…yet, but He will). I AM supports the eternality of Christ. He is Alpha and Omega with no beginning, no end. He is uncreated. Some claim this phrase for eternal now timelessness (I don’t think you do), but that would not be legit. It does not resolve whether God is timeless or experiences endless time, but it does affirm Jehovahistic identity/uncreatedness.

  31. godrulz37 I think that “I AM” supports more than the eternality of Christ. After all He could have said “I have been” or “I was” and perfectly support His eternal nature with past terms.

    Could you explain what you mean by God voluntarily self-limiting Himself? I am a little unsure of how you are defining that. Thanks!

  32. I have been/I was (JW mentality) could imply pre-existence (as they argue), but not eternality/Deity. I AM is the self-existent one, GOD. The Jews understood His claims and went to stone Him for blasphemy, claiming to be equal with God. JWs do not understand His claims and reject them (making the Pharisees getting it more than they do as modern Pharisees)…but you know all this.

    Omnipotence is being able to do the doable. God cannot do the undoable (create square circles, married bachelors, etc.). The incarnation is an e.g. of the voluntary self-limitation of the eternal Word. Adding humanity to His Deity (without ceasing to be Deity; Jn. 1; Phil. 2) created inherent limitations not previously experienced by Him. Being able to snuff Satan, but not doing so, is a limitation of His exercise of His all-power….which is still subject to His will and mind…He can do many things that He does not do. He limits His intervention against evil at times (even Christians are raped and murdered). He cannot limit His inherent attributes. He cannot cease to be eternal, uncreated, triune, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. I would argue (against Aquinas, etc.) that His character qualities are more volitional (loving, good, faithful, etc.). So, we can be like God in some ways (character), but not like Him in other ways (Creator, omni, eternal, etc.)….this relates to the image of God (Imago Dei) and gets messed up in the maze of Mormonism and their finite godism/polytheism (which is a straw man argued in the book you gave me to read from Robert Morey, Battle of the gods…many years ago…he wrongly confused Open Theism with Process Thought, an unfair caricature…just as Calvinistic accusations that Arminianism is Pelagianism is also unfair….I have to be careful to not lump all Reformed/Calvinistic views in with hyper-Calvinism).

    I appreciate your good hearts and heads. Iron sharpens iron. As a reminder, our time and energy should primarily be with those in the kingdom of the cults who deny essential, salvific truths. Equally capable, godly believers have had doctrinal disputes on peripheral, but important issues for centuries. These merit our time and talents, but should be kept in perspective. Right beliefs (orthodoxy) and practice (orthopraxy) do matter, of course. God bless. It is the glory of a king to search out a matter (Proverbs).

  33. godrulz37,

    You said:

    Being able to snuff Satan, but not doing so, is a limitation of His exercise of His all-power….which is still subject to His will and mind…He can do many things that He does not do.

    I would not see this as a self-limitation, but an exercise of God’s nature where His patience and long-suffering are being set out as fore-front for the time. If it was true self-limiting then God would not judge at all. But God’s justice is withheld for a time so that God’s long-suffering with mankind can be seen and He will receive praise if not now, then in the future. Perhaps we are both saying the say things in different ways. I guess that is why all of us are needed. None of us are cookie cutter knock outs of each other. We are have our own gifts and our own weaknesses so that we need each other.

    I have also had much energy used in the focus on the kingdom of the cults, but I also am very keen on this area that is a troubling divide between brothers in Christ. I have a friend whose brother became a Calvinist and he was persuaded that God was like what his Calvinist brother said He was–unconditionally electing some to life and others to eternal damnation. That young man has now turned away from God because of the Calvinist view of God’s determination. I have had opportunity to share with him and explain God’s love, but it is difficult right now for him to see God for who He is. He has been seriously hurt by seeing God as one who is more like a devil, then the all-merciful and loving God. My heart goes out to my friend who have been turned off of a God that they see as unjust and unloving. If I can help in one little way, then my efforts to bring disenfranchised people back to the Lord will have paid off by God’s grace. I am trying hard to balance my passions. Right now my passion for my Calvinist brothers and for those turned off of Christianity because of Calvinism overwhelms me. I really long to see the body of Christ healed.

    By the way, my other friend, the brother of the young man who felt despair because of determinism, has left his Calvinism aside. He has been able to see the other side that he was not fully aware of before he became a Calvinist.

  34. This is one reason I am also engaged with the Calvinistic issue. It is a barrier to belief for the thinking lost and divisive with negative consequences to many believers. Having said that, some are leaving the shallow fluff of some of our evangelical circles for a more intellectually robust view (New Calvinism, young, Reformed, restless). It is interesting we have a similar heart on cults and Calvinism (the latter is not cultic). In fairness, there are many fine Reformed thinkers (though wrong on key points….Edwards, Spurgeon, Sproul, Piper, Packer, McArthur, Lloyd-Jones, etc.) who have something to contribute.

  35. I guess I can answer many of the issues about what I believe as a Calvinist (though I don’t like calling myself that but I won’t fight it either). I believe that everyone including Judas willingly sins and disobeys God. I also believe God is in Sovereign control of everything and does not react or is not surprised by anything as He has ordained everything to work out for good. God means evil for good sometimes (Joseph, Judas, etc..). Joseph’s brother sinned willingly and God did not simply go, “well I guess I can use that and I am glad it worked out,” He ordained it. I believe Judas was going to do what he was destined to do and that he was still 100% responsible for it.

    The passive thing I was talking about is the idea that when God hardened Pharaohs heart he simply removed the common grace He extends to all of us, whether we serve him or not. All good is of God and if God removes himself he removes His goodness as well. This would help with the double predestination thing as well. Reprobation says that God passes over those He has not chosen, He does not actively damn them for Hell as they have already done that by willfully sinning.

    I can’t stand the smugness of many Calvinist and so I understand your distaste for it. I want to witness Jesus to people. That is my ultimate goal. I don’t know who is elect and so “I endure all things for the sake of the elect.” I just hope you all don’t judge all “Calvinist” by the bad ones as we know the squeaky wheel gets the grease. We don’t judge all Baptists by the Westboro do we? I really appreciate the honesty of both of you. There were a lot of comments and if I didn’t adequately answer something then let me know. 🙂

  36. Derek,
    Thanks for responding! Let me see if I can summarize what I think you are saying and see if you agree with how I summarize it.

    1. You believe that everyone has a sin nature that we are born with and with this sin nature we all fail to live without some kind of sin in our lives, not because we are deceived like Eve, but because we sin knowing that what we are doing is wrong.

    2. You also believe that God is the ultimate Sovereign of the universe so that no one can force His hand or be outside of His ultimate control of the circumstances. Because God knows the future, He does not need to react to an event as if He was surprised that it happened, but like a master chess player He knows all the moves that are available and He knows all the moves that each player will actually play.

    3. You also believe that God has ordained that for those who love Him, to them everything will work out for good. Not everything will work out for everyone for good because not everyone loves Him, but God still has ultimate Sovereign control over what events He allows and what events He prevents and what events He sets up to happen.

    4, You also believe that God uses events that seem like they are evil and He plans actions and uses people for His ultimate purpose. For example God’s purpose was that Joseph would be sent to Egypt and that he would become the top ruler in Egypt so that his reliance on God would ultimately save his family from starvation and death. In order to accomplish this plan, God sent the caravan of merchants who would purchase and sell slaves so that they would arrive at just the time that Joseph’s brothers would be deciding on what they could do to get rid of Joseph. God also worked in one of Joseph’s brother’s hearts so that he stopped his brothers from killing Joseph in preparation for the arrival of the caravan that would transport Joseph into Egypt. God also used the trials that Joseph would face because of his desire to please God, to train Joseph to rely on Him even during times when it seemed like God was not in control. Joseph came out of prison to the place of rulership in Egypt because of God’s pre-ordained plan to save Israel.

    5. You also believe that God’s actions with Pharaoh was passive rather than active. Instead of hardening Pharaoh in Pharaoh’s own will, God merely took away the grace that makes men reasonable and willing to do what God wants them to do.

    6. You also believe that Judas was not unconditionally damned from the foundation of the world, but was created by God knowing that God did not want Judas to be saved and in order to accomplish God’s purpose for Judas, God did not actively act to damn Judas, but instead He prepare the sinful choices that Judas could do and then let Judas loose to remain in his sin without God’s grace. Reprobation then is not unconditional, but is conditional and depends on man’s own sin that will take him to hell.

    By the way I should clarify that although a section of Calvinists have acted in a haughty way and have sinned against their brothers and sisters in Christ, I do not believe that Calvinists are the core of the problem. If Calvinists do wrong things as Calvinists, it seems to me it is because of the system for it teaches them how to have a deep love for a set of doctrines so that they are pulled towards reading books and hearing sermons by Calvinists alone. Many become unbalanced this way preferring to see themselves as Calvinists rather than just name the name of Christ as Christians.

    Derek, did my summary match up with your belief in any way?

    I have also decided that the issue of babies and salvation deserves a post of its own. There is room for too much dialog so I am going to work on that post and get it up as soon as I can.

  37. Cheryl,
    1. Pretty much. I think we are still deceived in a sense but we absolutely know we are doing wrong.
    2. Don’t like the chess player analogy. I don’t pretend to know how this works but I think our choices are ours and that God doesn’t just use them or know an infinite number of things we might do but that He is actually Sovereign over them (our choices). Don’t know how this works out, I admit.
    3. I agree w/most but I don’t think God allows or prevents necessarily, I think He simply does. His decreed will cannot be thwarted. His desired will can obviously or everyone would go to heaven.
    4. I don’t see anything here I disagree with.
    5. Kind of. Anything good we do is from God as no one does good and our “good” works are filthy rags. So yes, hardening in my opinion is God removing more of His goodness. If He does remove Himself we would actually become “totally depraved”. Right now I think we are “radically depraved” and not as depraved as much as we possibly could be.
    6. Not really. I know we all sin. I know the penalty for sin is death. I know apart from coming to God we will go to hell. I know we are dead in our trespasses and cannot come to God as no one seeks God. I know God chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless (those chosen obviously). I know everyone not chosen will go to hell because they willfully sin against their creator. Their throats are open graves. I know God is and does what He wills. I know God’s decreed will cannot be thwarted. That is it. I don’t know everything obviously and I am always willing to change my view if corrected from Scripture.
    Also, I am not chained to Calvinism. I am a Christian who agrees with the Calvinistic doctrines I have been exposed to thus far. I listen to many different types of people and I especially do not just read from Calvinist. I know you don’t think all Calvinist do that stuff but I did want to clarify.
    I hope this helps. I am sorry. I just don’t have all of my thoughts worked out completely on this side of heaven and I suspect God will continue to teach me. 🙂

  38. Derek,
    Sorry for being slow. I created a fairly long answer to you last night and then the answer was removed and I couldn’t get it back. I think it had to do with being logged into my account and timing out. Anyway it was too late to start again and today has been so busy, just no time.

    I will try again to work on my blog and get the new post out and respond here too as I am able. I think we are both on the same side of the fence on #1. I also think you are an unusual Calvinist, but I like that too.

    Talk to you later,

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