God’s Determinate Counsel and Other Things People Can Mess Up

A particular branch of Calvinism believes that everything is a result of God’s determinate counsel. Everything that happens, even sin, is a result of God’s ordination.

God said it should happen, therefore it happens.

In this elaborate structure, God, who makes people sin, is also released of blame. I have never been able to figure out why, nor has the Calvinist. “It’s a mystery” is the closest they will come to explaining it.

Which is fine, probably their safest answer, but it may also signify that the initial doctrine is illogical.

“Determinate counsel” appears one time in the Bible in Acts 2:23:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain

The “Him” is obviously Christ. “Determinate,” according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, means, “to mark out the boundaries or limits, to ordain, determine, or appoint.” Counsel means purpose or will.

Therefore, Acts 2:23 says that Christ’s crucifixion, rather than being a massive mistake in an otherwise pretty fantastic Messianic life, was part of God’s plan.

The Calvinist concludes that the people who killed Christ had no choice. God made them do it because His determinate counsel (His marked out boundary of His will) forced them to kill Jesus.

However, Acts 2:23 is not the only verse in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 2:7,8 speaks of the same idea.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Here again we see God’s plan for Christ’s death ordained before the world. Christ had to die and those people had to kill Him with no freewill to resist at all.

Except they did have freewill to choose not to. The thrust of the passage is how God kept His plan hidden. It was a “mystery:” something that was hidden but now, afterwards, is revealed and seen.

Why did God hide His plan from people? Because if God had made known His ordained plan for Christ’s death, people wouldn’t have killed Christ!

God’s ordained plan was hidden, because people always go against God’s plainly revealed word. God knew if we knew His ordained plan, we would mess it up! Clearly God’s ordained plan can be thwarted. There is something else going on than God overriding people’s wills to get them to kill Christ.

The people who killed Christ did it of their own choice. They had freewill to kill Him or not. They killed Him. People always hate God, it does not require divine genius to know what would happen if God showed up among people! People always oppose God, that’s why He kept His ordained plan hidden.

Another passage about God’s counsel, using the exact same Greek word as in the Acts “determinate counsel” verse, is Luke 7:30:

But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.

The word “counsel” is the word that means purpose or will. The Pharisees and lawyers rejected God’s will for them. God’s will for them, His counsel for them, was that they be baptized by John. That was God’s plan.

The Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God for them. Freewill in action to thwart God’s plan. God’s will (2 Peter 3:9–same Greek root word as “counsel”) for every man is that he come to repentance. That will can be thwarted.

The idea that God ordains everything that happens, man has no freewill, and thus God makes everyone do the sin they do, is antithetical to the character of God and to what the Bible says. Man can thwart God’s counsel for them. We can reject God’s word. We do this all the time: sin is doing the opposite of God’s will.

God knows we reject Him all the time. That’s why rejecting Christ was part of God’s plan. This is not overriding people’s will; this is what happens when people have the ability to do their will.

Don’t blame the all-wise God for the stupidity of man.


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