People who question God's Sovereign Will in Christ's death. What do you do?

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Puritan Board Freshman
Even more so, what do you do when they refuse to listen to what you have to say, and when they refuse to look in the Scripture to see who's right?

My dad is a Roman Catholic, and I've gotten into several "Theological debates" with him. One that sticks out in my mind right now is that he believes God does not will anything "bad" to happen. Even in the case of the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, he believes God knew it would happen, but that he did not plan it.

I just watched Piper's sermon "Why Was This Man Born Blind?" last night, and it was incredibly enlightening to me. Birth defects and disabilities are things we consider "bad." God created that disability. Exodus 4:11 says, "The Lord said to him, 'Who made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf? Is it not I, the Lord?." But, as John wrote in John 9:3, " [...] but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." So things we consider to be "bad" are really not bad. I suppose when we see things to be bad, it's because we're looking at it rather self-centeredly.
Buuttttt, I think I'm getting a tad off-track.

My point is that my dad seems to think that Jesus death was a tragic incident that God made good in the end. He also does not believe that God came up with the plan of salvation before the world was even created, which is stated in the Bible. (I'm not entirely sure where, otherwise I'd quote.)

Most people ask questions like "Why would a supposedly good God do bad things?" I believe this is a self-centered way to look at things. I believe we really should be asking people "If God's hand is not in everything, then is he really God?"

Sorry if this whole post is a bit confusing. ^.^' (I might just be a little ADD. ~lol~)

Your help is greatly appreciated.


Iron Dramatist
If this question comes up, and I'm dealing with someone who professes to believe that Scripture is the Word of God, I take them to Acts 2:22-24 and Acts 4:27-28, which make excruciatingly clear the fact that God foreordained the death of Christ (while those who crucified Him were fully responsible and accountable for their acts)

"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-- this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (Acts 2:22-24 NAS)

"For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur. (Acts 4:27-28 NAS)


Puritan Board Freshman
I may have misunderstood the original post, and I don't want to be seen as going against the rightful use of defending the hope that is within us which is found in Mr. Pedlar's post above, which I heartily affirm and commend for your use. :)
Haha. That's perfectly ok. I prolly made it super confusing since I kinda jump around a lot.
All I do when getting into "Theological debates" with my dad really is defending myself. It's, like, the moment I state my position, my dad literally laughs off what I say and goes and says what he "knows to be true." Idk about you guys, but your own dad laughing at your beliefs is pretty harsh. But I use all that frustration only to point out the Truth, never to bash him in any way.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Act 4:24-29
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 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? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'--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, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.​
In this text, you have an affirmation of 1) absolute sovereignty, 2) the prophetic word, that will not be altered; 3) and the fulfillment of that word which is predestined to take place.

Peter says a similar word on Pentecost, Act.2:22-23
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know--this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.​
Again, Peter declares that none of these things has happened by accident, everything was prophesied, and the will of God for our salvation was accomplished through the lawless acts, but against the unrighteous intentions, of wicked men. Christ's crucifixion was according to the definite plan of God. The fact that it is also according to his "foreknowledge" doesn't modify that plan at all--it strongly affirms that what is determined by the will of God: he "sees to it" before it even happens in history.

To these testimonies of the apostolic church, we should also add Jesus' own repeated statements that he was going to Jerusalem in order to be killed, and to rise again. The angel announcing his birth said he was coming to save his people from their sins. Simeon prophesied to Mary with baby Jesus in his arms that a sword would pierce her heart over this Son's destiny. John the Baptist points to Jesus, before his ministry barely begins, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." This has reference to all the dying sacrificial lambs on the altar of Israel for centuries; and to the ram of substitution on the Mt.Moriah when the Lord stays the (obedient!) knife of Abraham; and to the expectations of a certain lamb spoken of by Isaiah, 53:6-7.

Jesus, on the road to Emmaus said to those disciples, Lk.24:25-27
And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So confirm the apostles, Heb 2:10-11
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all of one."​
Act 17:1-3
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ."​

Over and over, the apostles affirm that the death of Christ was necessary, planned, prophesied, and performed. Sin must be punished. It must be shown for what it is, and there exists no better method for showing it than that sinners attack and kill their God-Incarnate, their Emmanuel. But by this infinitely heinous act, God subverts their evil--their worst shall be his best, and only, help for them.

When they acknowledge their sin, their need for a Savior, but also their being total undeserving of salvation--then it becomes available to them, when they submit to God's design.
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the "stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner" (Ps.118:22). Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.​


Puritan Board Sophomore

If I can add my 2 cents in. The biggest problem I face when witnessing to people that say a good God would not allow anything bad to happen, is that they look at God from the wrong perspective.

They look at a god they have created in their own minds, that looks more like santa clause than the God of the bible (Paul Washer)

If you look at the entire chapter 8 and 9 of shows how God is in complete control at all times of what is going on.

When we look at God as 3 X holy, we must also see ourselves as completely depraved and unholy. Which is the problem with most people, they see themselves as good comparing themselves to others instead of God.


Puritan Board Freshman
That is so true.

I also have to wonder, though.. People who believe that (as you mentioned the Santa Clause thing), isn't that kindof making God a "god of convenience"?


Puritan Board Sophomore
I would have to agree with your "god of convenience" description.

And that is most definately not the God of the bible. If a good percentage of people that go to church knew how the God of the bible really is (Holy, Judge, Hater of sinners, Jealous....) they would say "I can't love a god like that"

They have made up their own god that they worship, but it's not the God of the bible that hates who He wants, and loves who He wants

Romans 9:13 - Esau I hated and Jacob I loved....


Puritanboard Commissioner
This may go beyond what you are asking in your post, but the following on-line teaching series by Dr. Sproul gets at the sovereignty of God in a way that might be helpful to you.

This superb series is foundational to some of the things you are mentioning (sovereignty of God, salvation, differences and similarities between Roman church, broad evangelicalism, reformed theology):

(still free on-line), 12 half hour lessons:

What Is Reformed Theology? Teaching Series by Dr. R.C. Sproul from Ligonier Ministries


Puritan Board Sophomore
The link below is a series by Brian Borgman.

I have also heard from friends that he is on The Leading Audio Sermon Site on the Net

I am listening to his series from the below link, and I have to say, it's solid..

62 MP3 Lectures on Reformed Theology (MP3 CD) :: Audio Books, Music, Lectures & Sermons :: CDs, DVDs, Software :: Monergism Books :: Reformed Books - Discount Prices - Free Shipping

Free CD, but you pay for the shipping. By far the best purchase I have ever made online.

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
During PCA GA we had Rico Tice teach a few sessions on Christianity Explored. I attended with my Pastor.

I'm pretty confident with Biblical material and not a fan of "methods" for Evangelism but I was very impressed with Rico's use of the Gospel of Mark to present the work of Christ. I commend the book to you.

The problem with specific debates about God's interaction with evil is that they will not go anywhere as long as your father is holding on to his idolatry.

One thing I actually found helpful was the idea that people write down every hard question they have about God at the beginning with the promise that they will be answered once the Person and work of Christ have been presented. God will convert the hearts of men in His inscrutable ways and then some of the questions melt away. It was a nice reminder to me that I don't have to answer every objection but let God be God in transporting men into the world to come that they might have renewed thinking about Him.

It's a reminder to me to be more zealous with my own family and to be in constant prayer for their conversion.


Staff member
Sweet. :3

Now, if only I had money... ~lol~
I would be happy to send you a copy of a cd...however, I don't know where to mail it out. And I am not sure if mail correspondence is permitted on the board.
People are free to communicate with each other privately. We don't encourage people to post physical addresses or email addresses in forums because it can be an invitation to unwanted intrusions.

Private messaging on the board is fine--that's what it is there for--just remember that any use of private messaging is still subject to board supervision--it is not to be used for spam, bothersome communications, etc.

(Note, admins do not read private messages as a matter of routine, but they do have that ability. This ability has only been used in egregious cases like solicitations to sin.)


Puritan Board Graduate
Shannon, my husband is a RC and very hostile to the idea of the Bible as supreme authority. In the past I've been guilty of trying to argue it out with him, and it didn't help. Especially with someone in that sort of relationship, in your case your father, I doubt that having all the answers is the answer.. know them and be ready with them yes, but being proved wrong by his daughter may not immediately open his heart to the Gospel :)


Puritan Board Freshman
Yeah, I guess I know what you mean. It's just a tad frustrating when I get into these debates though, because he will literally laugh at what I'm saying, as if he *obviously* can't be wrong. It's not him laughing at me that bugs me so much as his laughing is really laughing in God's face.


Puritan Board Graduate
Yeah, I guess I know what you mean. It's just a tad frustrating when I get into these debates though, because he will literally laugh at what I'm saying, as if he *obviously* can't be wrong. It's not him laughing at me that bugs me so much as his laughing is really laughing in God's face.
yes, it is, though it's only natural also to find it very annoying! Still in that situation we glorify God more by biting our tongues than by wading in, armed with the knowledge of being right (even when we are, I mean :)). I'll pray for your interactions.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I was talking to my wife some time ago, and it all began when I started seeing reformed theology (Doctrine of Grace, election, depravity, wears many hats). And I was brought before the elders in our last church at one point, and they told me that these doctrines are false and wrong. So I asked them, where in the bible does it show that we have the power to choose Christ (and they go to Revelations 3:20).

They avoided deep theology with me because of the verses I was bringing forward (and I have no issue starting a biblical debate with anyone, though I might lose, there is no better way than that, to study and dig in the scriptures, to show you why you're wrong, or why they are wrong).

And my wife, told me "Ray, the elders have been christians and studying their bibles for over 50 yrs each, and you're a christian that's only 9 yrs in the faith (at that point), they know more than you"

My reply to her was "the Pope has been wrong all his life"

Now I am not saying that you should pick a debate with your father, a good portion of us on this board are no doubt praying for his conversion. But keep praying, and witness to him by your testimony, and from time to time, bring a verse or chapter to him, and show him what you have read and learned in scripture.

Most Catholics I know, don't read their bible (not around here anyway), and if they claim christianity, and they don't read, they will see your fruit. And with God's grace, see the lies in their own faith.
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