Question:

I have heard a popular Baptist preacher named John Piper preach about predestination.  He talked about the two wills of God.  He said that there is a revealed will of God and there is also a decreed will.  The former, according to him, is his will of command.  Meaning, all his commands that he wants us to obey belongs to this will. The latter will is that will which He has in secret and that is the will which will come to pass.  For example, God's revealed will says that we should not steal, but a person steals because it is God's secret decree that that person would steal. I know that this sounds very absurd and contradictory until I heard his argument on the death of Jesus Christ. 

He said that Jesus' suffering and death are already prophesied long before he put on flesh, which I agree and I'm sure that you do too.  It was God's will that Jesus should suffer and die by the hands of evil men and be resurrected in order to give us salvation.  Since it is necessary that there would be men who would do these evil things to Jesus, and that is God's will that it be so, then it would follow that God ordained that those men would sin.  It would show then that God could control a man's actions which includes making him do sin. This goes against the doctrine of man's free will. 

I'm really confused about this teaching. If Piper and the whole Calvinist community are true, I think it would make God the author of sin.  Despite that, the argument he gave from the example of Jesus' death is quite compelling.  I want to know your belief on this topic.  I really want to hear your side perhaps you might be able to help me since I am bothered at this. thank you so much.


Answer:

Since you perceive that Piper's teachings leads to a contradiction, that alone ought to be sufficient evidence that there is a severe flaw in this line of reasoning.

First, the doctrine is based on a belief that God has two separate wills, one that He reveals and one that He keeps hidden. Piper came up with this to explain what he sees in the Scriptures, but what we need to ask is, "Upon what passage do we conclude that God has two separate wills for mankind?" Instead of finding references to multiple wills, I find many passages referring to "the will of God" -- singular!

Second, the doctrine states that God, in secret, causes men to sin. This contradicts James, "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed" (James 1:13-14). But it has deeper errors than just this. Since Piper claims that God is encouraging men to sin, then it means that God is secretly approving of their sinful deeds. But that is a sin, in itself. "Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32). Yet, John is very clear that there is no sin in God: "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5).

Third, the doctrine also contradicts the desire of God. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). You cannot have God declaring that He isn't willing for any to perish and making sure that men perish at the same time.

I believe the answer is much more simple and more profound. There is no end of evil men in the world (Romans 3:9-16). While God does not cause men to sin, it doesn't follow that God cannot make use of evil people to accomplish His will. For example, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), but God allowed a lying spirit (who volunteered for the assignment) to tell Ahab a lie so that he would be certain to enter into a battle where he would be killed (II Kings 22).

God decreed that Jesus would be betrayed by a friend. How was it accomplished? By forcing Judas to betray him? Or wasn't it true that Jesus selected Judas because he knew Judas' greed? After all, the disciples knew that Judas was pilfering funds and Jesus said nothing about it (John 12:6). God allowed Judas' inclination to sin to lead him to betray Jesus. Judas was never forced, he chose freely to do so.

Have you ever wondered why the man who was Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus was allowed to come to power? God could have raised up a man who was sympathetic to the Israelites' plight, but then the Israelites might not have been so willing to go. Instead God put a man who was stubborn by nature into position. He was then asked to let all his slaves have a few days off of work. His natural choice of saying "No!" was used to demonstrate the power of God through various plagues. Each time Pharaoh started to waver, God had Moses increase the demand so that he would naturally say "No!" yet again.

God knows the hearts and minds of men and is not adverse to using their own desire for sin against them. But always the person is given a choice. If Judas chose not to betray Christ, I'm sure another would have been selected who would have done so. Just as if Esther refused to plead for the Jews, help would have come from another direction (Esther 4:14). God knew what He intended to happen and He made sure the various personalities needed were in place such that it would happen. God never made men evil, He just made use of evil men when it was necessary.