Act 4:25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? Act 4:26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'-- Act 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, Act 4:28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
I would recommend listening to the Dec. 9th edition of “The Dividing Line” found on the link to the right entitled “Alpha and Omega Ministries”. On it we get to listen to Dr. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, explain why he doesn’t believe God predestined all things. His basic position is that if God ordains all things then he ordains sin and is therefore responsible for sin. His conclusion is that when a rapists rapes, since God predestined that to happen, God is a rapist! It is disturbing that one can go to seminary and receive a doctorate and yet have no real idea what the Bible says about this subject.
In part I can understand why this is the best he can come up with since he went to an Arminian Southern Baptist Seminary. If you go to his church’s website you will find a list of his “accomplishments” which include leading the state of Alabama in baptisms for several years and responsible for a large increase in the attendance of his church. I find it interesting that in the book of Acts these things are attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit not Peter and the Apostles, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”. This does give us an idea of where he is coming from, but I digress.
There are a couple of problems I wanted to address with his position and there are many more that could be pointed out. First of all just because we can’t fully understand how God can predestinate all things including sin and yet not be responsible for the sin that we commit is not proof it can’t happen. This is especially true since the Bible very clearly says that God does predestinate all things including sin. The above passage in Acts couldn’t be clearer. Those that crucified Jesus Christ did what God’s plan had predestined to happen. To say that God only predestines good things and not the evil things is not only unbiblical but couldn’t happen. God couldn’t have ordained the cross unless he ordained someone to actually crucify Jesus. The Lord of Glory wouldn’t have been crucified unless someone sinned! God can’t ordain only some things unless he ordains everything. He can’t assume or hope that sinners are going to cooperate with his plans.
Not only did Dr. Gaines ignore this passage which says the opposite of his position, he also ignored all passages that one would immediately think of when considering this subject and that is just dishonest. What about Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today? The “it” of this verse is the sin of Joseph’s brothers in selling him into slavery (read vs. 17). Joseph says that God meant or ordained their sin to accomplish good things even while it also accomplished evil things and the brothers did this of their own free will with evil intentions. What is equally clear is that God didn’t force them to do this even while it was all part of God’s predetermined plan.
This brings me to one last point. It is a copout to say that just because God ordains that sin will happen that he must force us to sin. Dr. Gaines over and over again kept saying things like, “if God predestinates sin then he forced that man to walk into the movie theater and kill all those people”. Now on one level since the Bible teaches that God does ordain all things and not some things and yet is not responsible for their sin then the statement alone is unbiblical and naïve.
But this also shows a fundamental misunderstanding of total depravity. What he misses entirely is that we do not have to be forced to sin because we are sinners by nature and so can only sin unless God intervenes. Sin never has to be forced and can’t be forced because the very nature of sin is rebellion; it is to disobey God. If God forces you to do something then that is called doing his will and is no longer sin. The only thing God does with sin is restrain it. Because God graciously restrains us from our love to disobey him we aren’t as evil as we would be. When we see particularly horrible actions by sinners it is merely because God didn’t hold them back from their sin to accomplish his will. Dr. Gaines' position assumes that someone like Hitler didn’t want to do what he did and wouldn’t have done what he did if left alone but God forced him to be that way and this just shows a dysfunctional understanding of the nature of sin and the nature of fallen man.
In my next article I will deal with a couple of other problems that come with denying the total sovereignty of God in all things.