Not “Instead Of” But “For”

If Substitutionary Atonement is for real then Christ could only die for the elect. If Christ literally took the place of each of the elect then salvation is not actually available for all.

This is Calvinist error that is so blatantly contradictory to Scripture it’s mind-boggling to me.

A better way to view it is to see a substitution of punishment, rather than a substitution of persons. Faith is always the issue. When faith is placed in the substitutionary punishment–a lamb did not die instead of a person, but dies for a person; Christ did not die instead of a sinner dying, He died for the sinner–salvation is procured.

Christ died, not in place of the elect but for humanity. Therefore, each human has the choice to put faith in Christ. You can take eternity in hell or you can apply the blood of Christ and the wrath of God passes over.

Christ dying instead of a person means only the people Christ died for are saved, which removes all option or choice. The offer of salvation to all is a sham and God sending His Son because He loved the world is meaningless. Calvinists are good with this. I am not.

I am now done picking on this issue of Calvinist error for the time being.

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34 comments

  1. paul walton

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

    Jeff,
    Reading the rest of this passage, do “all people” renounce ungodliness, worldly passions, and live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives? I think we would have to ask ourselves who are the “all people” Paul is talking about, because the statement is a continuing thought.

    Paul is the only author who wrote to folks who were not Jews. All the other authors of the books in the New Testament were Jews writing to other Jews. So when the “world” is spoken of it may mean those not of Jewish decent.

  2. jeff

    The grace of God has appeared to all men, but only those who respond to it are saved by it, which is the point of that verse and the context.

    Look up the word “world” as used by Paul to see that your point is not accurate. “Be not conformed to the world” then means be not conformed to non-jews? When speaking of Gentiles and or nations Paul uses the Greek word for Gentiles or nations, “ethnos.” When speaking of the world he uses kosmos or aion, which means “the world,” not Gentiles.

  3. Spherical

    One question: If Christ died for the sins of the world, does that mean that salvation is guarenteed for all? If not, then what does it mean to die for the sins of the world? Is Christ’s death ineffective for those who do not accept Him? If so, there seems little difference between this passages attitude to Calvinists or any who is not a univeralist. (Okay, that was more than 1 question.)

    Is substitutionary atonement contradictory to Scripture or to your interpretation of Scripture? Is Romans 11:7 contradictory to Scripture? “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened” Or Luke 18:7 “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?” How does God’s treatment of Pharaoh align with your theology? Or Christ’s treatment of the Pharisees?

    Just seems a little harsh to call this doctrine “blatantly contradictory” to me.

    Anyway, I do enjoy your blog. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Jeff.

  4. jeff

    If Christ died for the sins of the world, does that mean that salvation is guarenteed for all?
    No.

    If not, then what does it mean to die for the sins of the world?
    Salvation is to all who believe and anyone can believe because salvation is available to all because Christ died for all. If it is not available to all then God and His Gospel and claims to love everyone are deceptive at best.

    Is Christ’s death ineffective for those who do not accept Him?
    Yes and I do not understand your next sentence.

    Is substitutionary atonement contradictory to Scripture or to your interpretation of Scripture?
    Both!

    Is Romans 11:7 contradictory to Scripture? “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened”
    No. Election is based on foreknowledge, those who got it, got it, those who didn’t, didn’t. This is not a problem.

    Or Luke 18:7 “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?”
    No for the same reason.
    Also, these passages about Pharaoh, the Pharisees and the nation of Israel has little to do with Substitutionary Atonement.

    How does God’s treatment of Pharaoh align with your theology?
    Exodus says Pharaoh hardened his heart, too (8:15, 32; 9:34). Hardening the heart is something God can do and has done. Romans 1 says it’s based on a persons persistent evilness and rejection of Him. Pharaoh was not dropped out of the sky with a blank slate right before Moses met him. God knew what Pharaoh would do and God made sure it happened and it did.

    Or Christ’s treatment of the Pharisees?
    Christ knows what is in a man’s heart past, present and future and deals with them accordingly.

    Foreknowledge is not predestination, but rather something God uses to elect– “whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.” Foreknowledge is a key component. Calvinists typically say foreknowledge is the same as predstination, which it isn’t. IT solves many an issue.

    Salvation or wrath is given to man based on what man does in response to God and His Word.

  5. paul walton

    “The grace of God has appeared to all men, but only those who respond to it are saved by it, which is the point of that verse and the context.”

    I would agree with this statement completely Jeff. Christ’s atonement purchased the faith for those who do respond, it’s for all men who will respond to God’s grace.

    People or the term “everyone” is used to address a sub group of a larger group of people all the time. A teacher will say to a class, listen up everyone, or listen up all you people, even if half the class is absent that day. The “everyone” is limited to who is actually being addressed.

  6. akismet-f5bbb059eece521c11e3c1e61f7e4865

    The death of Christ was for all people, else the wicked would not come forth from the grave. The resurrection of the wicked proves that Christ also died for them.

    There is no reason, under the law, why a sinner who dies in his sin, should come out of the grave. God does not work contrary to His law, for He is a righteous God. The law proclaimed that “the wages of sin is death.” Then how do the wicked come out of the grave? By virtue of Christ’s death for them. He is the second father of the human family, and because he took our flesh, and rose from the grave, we will all rise also:

    1 Cor 15:21,22 – “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

    The difference between the resurrection of the wicked and that of the righteous is that the righteous have accepted God’s work in the heart, to prepare it for His kingdom, whereas the wicked only accept the outward blessings that the gospel brings them: food, clothing, protection, and a short time of life upon this old earth. These are all undeserved gifts, we do not merit them. Undeserved favor is grace, therefore the grace of God appears to all men. But because the wicked refuse the inward working of grace, they come up from the grave with the same evil character, and must come to the judgment in that condition.

    At the judgment they are guilty on two counts:

    1. Having committed sin in transgressing the law: “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death…” (Romans 1:32)

    2. Having commited sin in rejecting the salvation which was wrought out for them and offered to them: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me…” (John 16:8,9)

    It would be a strange judgment scene indeed if the wicked were counted guilty of rejecting Christ, when they had no willful choice in the matter. But they are convicted, and when they see that they could have accepted, but did not because of their own hardness and stubbornness, then they will all bow down and confess that Christ is Lord. God will not force them to do this; they will not do it out of terror; otherwise it would be worthless testimony…for a confession wrought out of terror or force is of little value. But when they confess that Christ is Lord, they admit that God did everything He could to save them, but they threw away the gift. They own that the guilt is theirs, and so God’s love and justice are vindicated.

  7. Josh B.

    I agree with Frank. How can we possibly make a choice for Christ when we’re dead in our sins? What choice do we have to be born the first time from our mother’s womb? What choice do we have to be born the second time of the Spirit?

    I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around what role our own choices play in light of God’s foreknowledge and the obvious weight of passages of Scripture like Romans 9. Surely we must be held morally accountable, and in order for that to happen, we must not only be able to choose what we desire, but also our desires must somehow not be God-given. For if God just gives us our desires (which are originally sinful), then he is the ultimate force between our choices!

  8. jeff

    One of the true ironies in Calvinist doctrine is that people go to hell for doing what God said. If people go to hell because of God’s choice and not their own, they have no choice but to do what God said. Sin is generally defined as “not doing God’s will.” Therefore, there should be no hell because all they did was God’s will, which isn’t a sin and not worthy of judgment.

  9. paul walton

    Just because a husband loves His wife with His whole heart doesn’t mean He doesn’t “love” other women, only that His love for His bride is a jealous Love.

  10. Dustin

    Why do some come to Christ and others don’t?
    Poor Jesus, He came to this earth to try to save some people but they would not listen. He pleaded with ALL men to come alive, because they are dead, and believe in Him. He tried very hard but so few surrendered their lives to him.God knows He tried. If Christ died for one person that went to hell he died in vain.
    The renowned 19th century British preacher and evangelist Charles H. Spurgeon had these words to say about the atonement (from his sermon, “The Mission of the Son of Man”):

    Now, some people love the doctrine of ‘universal atonement’ because they say it is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that ‘Christ should have died for all men’; it commends itself, they say, to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty.

    I admit there is; but beauty may be often associated with falsehood.

    There is much which I might well admire in the theory of ‘universal redemption’ but let me just tell you what this supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were damned before He died; because if this doctrine (that He died for all men) is true, He died for some that were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were myriads there that had been cast away.

    Once again, if it were Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed! For we have His own evidence that there is a lake that burns with fire and brimstone, and into that pit must be cast some of the very people, who according to that theory, were bought with His blood!

    To think that my Savior died for men in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to imagine. That He was the substitute for the sons of men, and that God having first punished the substitute, punished these same men again, seems to me to conflict with any idea of justice.

    That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards, some of those very men should be punished for the same sins which Christ had already atoned for, seems to me, to be the most marvelous monstrosity that ever could have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, aye, to the god of the Thugs, or the most diabolical heathen demons!

    God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise.

    The death of Christ is the foundation of the Christian’s hope. But those believing in a general redemption cannot possibly fully enjoy that blessed hope in Christ. They claim to believe in a redeemer who is not completely successful in redeeming the lost; an atonement that falls short of achieving its purpose; thus believing that the death of Christ must be joined with freewill in order to save. Fortunately, Jesus is a Redeemer who does deliver His people from sin; not just tries to deliver His people with the possibility of losing some of them. His grace is thoroughly efficacious in saving the elect, for whom He died. And one elected by the grace of God is bound to come to Him, for it would be then natural for him to do so.
    Good video on this subject below. We will tackle foreknowledge next.

  11. jeff

    What Christ did is not “an atonement that falls short of achieving its purpose” because its purpose was to save some and justly condemn others for rejecting it. Either way it accomplishes its purpose.

  12. Spherical

    You say God electing to save some and not others is anti-Scriptural and just down-right wrong. It would not be right for a loving God to create life, only to damn it for eternity. If God predestines, then it appears that you are not okay with that. Your claim that such a doctrine not only violates your interpretation of Scripture, but violates Scripture itself. Is this an acceptable synopsis of your position?

    But if God had the foreknowledge that some would die in their sin, and He went ahead and created them anyway, could not some consider this just as wrong as predestining some to hell in the first place? My point is, it is not our measure of right and wrong that defines God. I believe in election, and think it paints a much more beautiful picture of God and His sovereignty than letting me decide if I want to follow or accept Him. But I could be wrong. I accept that. Can you?

  13. paul walton

    A free-will atonement and a Substitutionary Atonement are both limited in scope, only the one is limited to whom Christ purchased, and the other is limited to a man’s free-will to choose, a free-will that considers spiritual matters foolishness.

  14. jeff

    Spherical,
    The doctrine I think is contrary to Scripture is not election, it’s LImited Atonement–that Christ only died for the elect when the Bible says He died for the sins of the world, He loved the world so sent the Son so that whoever believes is saved, His grace that saves has appeared to all men, the Gospel is to be preached to all nations because they won’t believe unless they’re told. To say otherwise is contrary to Scripture. God elects people, I have no problem with this.

    “But if God had the foreknowledge that some would die in their sin, and He went ahead and created them anyway, could not some consider this just as wrong as predestining some to hell in the first place?”

    Some people consider cats to be good pets too!

    I can accept being wrong. When God informs me I am I will definitely consider His opinion (That’s a joke). Until then, I read His word obsessively and pray for His Spirit to teach and for His wisdom.

    Am I right all the time? No. I used to be a Calvinist.

    I don’t know how to answer the “is this contrary to your interpretation of Scripture or contrary to Scripture?” It wouldn’t make much sense for me to say “It’s not contrary to my interpretation but it is contrary to Scirpture” or vice versa.

    All I can go with is what I got. I’ve heard all the Calvinist refutations from many a person and I’m not convinced. I don’t know what else to say.

  15. Dustin

    According to scripture, not feelings, why do some men come to know Christ and others do not? What is the difference between the two? If they hear the same message and have the same opportunities why will one be saved and one will not?
    Is it the cross + man or is it the cross alone?
    R.C. Sproul wrote himself a note on his desk that said,”It is your duty to believe and teach what the Bible teaches, not what you would like it to teach”.
    Whatever your view on this subject continue to search the scriptures to see if you are correct because you will be held accountable for your teachings one day.

  16. Dustin

    Also, it all comes back to one thing, what is the condition of a unregenerate mans heart? This is the point we should start with. The Bible says we are dead. Dead men can do nothing!
    The God of the Bible is not reactive He is proactive. Nothing happens unless he ordains it. He is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. He is Sovereign over all or He is not God. He does not need you or me but out of His love He saved some.

  17. paul walton

    “It is here that many Arminians, recognizing human inability as taught in the Scripture, introduce the concept of prevenient grace, which is believed to have a universal effect nullifying the noetic results of sin, thus making belief possible. The problem is that there is no clear and adequate basis in Scripture for this concept of universal enablement.”[4] Similarly, Calvinist Thomas Schreiner maintains that,

    “Prevenient grace is attractive because it solves so many problems [for the Arminian], but it should be rejected because it cannot be exegetically vindicated.”[5] According to these critics, its only function is to relieve the believer’s conscience of any doubt that God is doing everything he reasonably can to rescue everyone.

    God does show mercy to everyone, and this grace restrains sin and gives mankind a knowledge of God and of their sinfulness and need of rescue from sin. But this common grace is distinguished from saving grace, which takes away willful blindness, converts the stubborn heart, and effectively brings one to faith. Common grace thus leaves people without excuse, but it does not save from sin and it does not provide universal ability to savingly respond to God.

  18. Frank Z.

    Fellows,

    This has been a long discussion but I’d like to still throw in a few more thoughts.

    First of all, man’s nature is not only comprised of an evil heart. There are other parts. There is the flesh and blood body, the mental area (including will, conscience, reasoning powers, emotions), and the spiritual part (also called heart, inner man, spirit, etc).

    While it is not possible to make an evil spiritual nature desire good (“who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?”), and therefore this part must be regenerated, it is quite possible to appeal to the mind.

    Romans 7:1-4 describes the union as a marriage: the man represents the old spiritual nature, and the woman represents the rest of the human nature. The rest of the chapter outlines how the Law works to lead to Christ, the new husband. This process of drawing occurs even before the old marriage is dissolved and the new marriage takes place…so it is before regeneration.

    A simple Bible example of this would be the interview between Christ and Nicodemus. Nicodemus was not born again yet, and so the Saviour put that truth before him. Yet he was being drawn to the Saviour and some of the most precious truths were offered to him to further the process. Evidently Christ was not trying to appeal to his evil, unregenerate heart, but to his mind, in order to make him desire something better.

    Another example would be God’s words to Cain: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” Gen. 4:7. Cain was apparently not yet regenerated, yet God appeals to him to do well, to do the right, assuring him that he would have the victory over sin if he would put his will on the side of God.

    This leads to the second point: I think the Bible offers many different agents that are used in the conversion of a sinner, other than simply a supernatural act of God on the soul:

    1. The law of God – it is “our schoolmaster to lead to Christ.” (Gal. 3:24)

    2. Judgments, or the consequences of sin – “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9

    3. The goodness of God – “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Rom. 2:4)

    Probably there are some others as well, but I leave those thoughts for now.

  19. paul walton

    In John 6 Jesus said that, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him… This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” Apart from Christ, man is foolish, dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1–3), enslaved to sin (Romans 6:17), and following the spirit of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14). His wisdom is demonic and earthly (James 3:15). He cannot hear the word of Christ and God (John 8:43, 47). He is not able to subject his flesh to the law of God (Romans 8:7–8). Just as people cannot change the color of their skin, those who are accustomed to doing evil cannot do good (Jeremiah 13:23). Every intention of the thoughts of man’s heart are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). The intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21). Surely we were brought forth in iniquity, and in sin were we conceived (Psalms 51:5)!

    Contrary to the doctrine of universal prevenient grace, all of these passages show that, apart from being in Christ, our total depravity is actual and not hypothetical. We cannot understand, or desire to know God apart from Him initiating the impulse to turn towards Him.

  20. jeff

    Yes, the verses you quote can be interpreted as saying that, but there are many verses in the Bible. John 6:44 has a 6:45. Acts 17 says man can seek God. Many OT verses say Israel can repent and do good. They all mean something. The challenge is to incorporate them all, hence the discussion we’ve been having, which we will never solve.

    I’m leaving for a week so will not be around for commenting. However my excellent and insightful blog posting shall continue! Peace out!

  21. paul walton

    Yes John 6: 45 explains verse 44, the answer John gives to how the Father draws people to the Son is by teaching them. “No one can come unless the Father draws him . . . . It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’” So the connection between drawing and teaching is clear. The drawn are the taught. They are drawn by being taught.

    And the connection between being taught and coming to Christ is unbreakable. No one is taught and then decides not to come. The teaching produces the coming. You see that most clearly in the second half of verse 45.

    Verse 45 says, “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” Not some of them come. All of them come. So Jesus uses at least three phrases to describe how the Father draws people to Jesus. He calls it “being taught,” and he calls it “hearing from” God, and he calls it “learning from” God. “‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”

  22. jeff

    One more before I go I guess!

    I disagree with your interpretation. “No one is taught and then decides not to come.” is inaccurate, not what the Bible says at all–parable of the sower, Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26-29, John 8 where Jesus teaches in the temple and by the end they want to stone him.

    Verse 45 says all are taught by God, but only those who hear and learn come. That’s the simplest reading of the verse. Being taught is not the same thing as hearing and learning. My algebra teacher in high school can prove that one! Jeremiah 32:33 is a biblical example.

    This all reminds me of a post from the past from Charles Simeon, a Calvinist, and John Wesley, an Arminian. Worth another view.

    http://antiitchmeditation.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/charles-simeon-and-john-wesley/

  23. paul walton

    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. John 6:44-46

    Jeff, who are the “all” the Jesus is talking about? The all are the ones who been personally taught, and chosen, not the all who have heard generally, the sower parable reinforces this. Yes Jesus taught in the temple, but that is not the same type of teaching that is being spoken of here. “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” not some but all!

  24. Josh B

    How does the non-Calvinist or non-Reformed thinker address any of the passages of Scripture concerning God’s foreknowledge or his “election?” This is a serious question, because I feel the weight of Scripture falls in favor of Reformed theology, and the verses that seem to contradict that view (e.g., verses citing man’s responsibility, man’s choice) are there to indicate that, somehow, man is still responsible. Much like God can “use” sin but still not be responsible for it (Genesis 50:20).

    I’m having a great deal of difficulty wrapping my mind around this. It seems no one wants to come to the Scriptures wanting to reconcile it all, but only to find the texts that support their view. The non-Calvinist ignores Romans 9, the Calvinist ignores all the texts extolling man’s responsibility. Isn’t there someone who has reconciled these passages?

  25. paul walton

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:18-23

    God is sovereign over all belief and unbelief. He knows exactly how to plan both of them in ways that exalt his sovereignty and preserve man’s accountability. And therefore he is never thwarted in his plans by anyone’s unbelief. Nor is he ever prevented from saving his own. The unbelief of Israel — Jesus’ rejection by his own people — was the path that God planned for him so that he would die in our place and make salvation possible for the whole world. It is man’s responsibility to believe, as Romans reminds us, mankind is without excuse for not believing.

  26. Josh B

    I understand that, Paul. However, if God is the one that predestined our very desires, how can we be held morally accountable? What is the definition of moral accountability except that we chose wrong when we COULD HAVE chosen right? If we could not have chosen anything other than sin, then how are we morally accountable?

  27. Micah

    Just to throw my two cents in quick,

    I think it all boils down to the question: Is there more than one will at work in this world? If there is only one, God’s, then how did sin come about.

    Romans 5:12 says “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”

    So now we have two wills at work–Gods and Adams. Unless you contend that God “allowed”/ forced Adam to sin or forced Satan who forced Adam.

    Finally, if he gave Adam the right to say no, then he is a respecter of persons (in my mind) if he doesn’t give others the same right. Also, everyone is always talking about having the free-will to respond to God’s calling, I think it is more so that God has given everyone the free-will to not respond, as he gave Adam. Not sure that makes sense.

    Also, Relelation 22:17 kinda clears it up in my mind.

    Hope this wasn’t too blasphemous.

  28. paul walton

    Hey Josh,
    Sorry I have been off-line for most of the week, I wasn’t purposely ignoring you.
    Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years prior to Christ’s coming what type of Savior God would send. And he also prophesied that He would be rejected because there would be nothing that would appealing about Him to the Israelites. So that is the exact type of Savior that God sent. Those who rejected Christ are guilty even though God sent them a Messiah that He knew they would reject. We all will be held responsible for the choices we make, God didn’t make them reject Christ, He only sent them what He knew they would reject.

  29. Rick

    Anyone cannot believe. Not all men have faith. 2Thess. 3:2
    Anyone cannot believe. No one will come to Jesus in faith except the Father draws them, and they (the ones drawn to Christ in faith) will be raised on the last day.
    Anyone cannot believe. No one can see or enter the kingdom (done through repentance and faith) unless they are first born again.

    That is what God says in the Bible His Word.

  30. Rick

    It is either blasphemous or it is not blasphemous Micah.

    Do all things happen according to God’s plan and will, or does man’s will override God’s will?
    Does everything that happens happen because God ordained it?

    If God says all things are because He planned and willed them, then to say anything else is to call God a liar.
    If God ordains believers and ordains unbelievers, to say it is up to man’s free will is to call God a liar.

    Does God plan everything or leave some things to chance?
    Isaiah 46:9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ 11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

    God declares the end from the beginning. He calls this His counsel and His purpose. He doesn’t say He foresaw the future. He spoke the future. He declared it and it is all going to happen.

    Ephesians 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

    God’s will and purpose are set forth in Christ. It wasn’t random chance, but God’s design & plan. It is all according to God’s plan and everything God works according to His plan, counsel and will. It is not by men’s will, but God’s will that anything and everything takes place.

    When God determine all His counsel, purpose and plan? In Christ, before the foundation of the world.

    To say that God leaves anything to chance or men’s will is to call God a liar.

    Does God leave belief or unbelief up to chance or men’s will?
    Romans 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory– 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

    If someone believes, it is because God has given them mercy.
    If someone does not believe, it is because God has made them so.
    Someone will always say “that’s not fair” but Paul deals with those who judge God unrighteous for doing all things according to His will and plan.

    Oh, and Paul is not writing about nations, but about individuals. Isaac versus Ishmael, Jacob versus Esau, Moses versus Pharaoh – every individual that God makes, one for honourable use, another for dishonourable use.

    That is what God says about who will be saved and who will not be saved. And, God says it is not based on their what they would do, but out of His freeness to predestine some for salvation and some not for salvation.

    Romans 9:10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,

    Some people don’t want to believe God, therefore, they twist the Scriptures.