The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary

... natural disasters, but now we’re asserting that God is sovereign over “volitional evil”—evil done by humans of their own choice. Before we start we need to tackle another subject which is closely connected with this. This subject is: God’s will. Does God have two wills? In a certain sense, yes. Now let me explain.

I believe that God has two wills in the sense that this is how we understand Him as humans, I don’t believe that God actually has two wills. He has one holy will which He is set to accomplish. There is the absolute will of God which no one can resist (Rom. 9:19), then there is the will of God which men do resist (e.g. Acts 7:51; Luke 7:30). There is the will of God which ordains “whatsoever comes to pass”, then there is the will which commands us to do things which we often than not resist. Matt Slick, from CARM, defines God’s will which ordains whatsoever comes to pass as:

The Decretive Will of God is that which is God’s sovereign will that we may or may not know, depending on whether or not God reveals it to us.  The decretive will is God’s direct will where he causes something to be, he decrees it.[10]

While the will that may be resisted as:

The Preceptive Will of God is the will of God for man.  For example, God wills that man does not sin, that we do not lie, do not steal, etc.  It is the will of God for man that is revealed through his Law (Exodus 20:1-17) where God is concerned with man following his precepts.  It is also the will of God for us to be holy, repent, love, etc. (1 Pet. 1:16; Acts 17:30; John 13:34)[11]

What leads me to such a position which allows God to ordained that which He has forbidden in His Preceptive Will? Deuteronomy 29:29 teaches:

Deut. 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Here we see that Moses tells the children of Israel that there are things, which God in His freedom has not revealed unto them. He has not revealed unto us the day of our death; He has not revealed the future aside from what He has said in the Bible; He has not revealed completely how the Trinity actually works or the Hypostatic Union; He has not revealed the Day of Christ’s Second Coming and many other things which we may want to know. But not all the doings of the Lord are secret. There are things which He has been pleased to reveal to man. His existence and Law are an example of this and to this are men held accountable. We are not judged according to God’s decretive will, but His preceptive will. We are judged according to His Law. John Gill observes about the first part of Deuteronomy 29:29:

The secret [things belong] unto the Lord our God,.... Respecting the people of Israel, and the providential dealings of God with them, and especially the final rejection of them; with respect to which, the apostle’s exclamation agrees with this, Ro 11:33; and though the Lord had revealed many things which should befall them, there were others still secret with him, and the reasons of others; and particularly the times and seasons of their accomplishment, which he retains in his own power, Ac 1:6. There are many secret things in nature, which cannot be found out and accounted for by men, which the Lord only knows; and there are many things in Providence, which are unsearchable, and past finding out by finite minds, especially the true causes and reasons of them; and there are m...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity - Commentary

...s of things about the glorious Holy Spirit, even that He is an impersonal force, and not a glorious Person. We beg to differ. The following things prove His Personhood, because they are characteristics of personhood and not of impersonality, like a force.

  • He speaks (Acts 8:29; 10:19-20; 13:2; 21:11; John 15:26; 16:13-14).
  • He is blasphemed, He is spoken against (Matt. 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29).
    • It is ridiculous to think that the unforgivable sin is against a mere force and not against God the Spirit Himself.
  • He can be insulted (Heb. 10:29).
  • He can be grieved (Eph. 4:30).
  • He can be resisted (Acts 7:51).
  • He grants gifts as He chooses, i.e., He has the power of choice (1 Cor. 12:9-11).

I really recommend looking at Matt Slick’s article on the Holy Spirit and His personhood, wherein he provides ample biblical testimony to that effect. Not only is the Holy Spirit directly called God in Acts 5, but He is over and over again described as having attributes belonging to God alone, which makes Him equal to God. To say that the glorious and third Person of the Trinity is a force and not a person is blasphemy. The following things not only prove His personhood but also His full deity, as He is attributed things which only belong to God:

  • Omnipresent
    • Ps. 139:7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
      • Who aside God is said to be omnipresent in the Bible? None. Therefore, the attribution of this perfection to the Holy Spirit proves that He is, in fact, God. In fact, wherever God is, there His Holy Spirit is. The Holy Spirit is equated with the very presence of God.
  • Omniscient
    • 1 Cor. 2:10-11 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
      • See above.
  • Creator
    • Gen. 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
    • Ps. 104:30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. 
    • Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 
  • The one who speaks the Word of God.
    • Acts 28:25-26 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 
      • It is the Lord who speaks in Isaiah 6:1, 11-12. The speech of the Lord is equated with what the Holy Spirit actually said.
    • Heb. 10:15-17 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 
      • Jer. 31:31-31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is ...

Acts 7:51, 'You always resist the Holy Spirit'


“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. (Acts 7:51 ESV)[1]

Calvinists, have no problem with this passage at all. Dead sinners always resist the Spirit of God. But when Spirit comes to regenerate, for the purpose of salvation, the dead sinner is made alive and willing, with no resistance.

Rather, there is a bigger problem for those Arminians who say that sinners are not really dead in sin or unable to come to God, how do they cooperate or respond to the Spirit if they always resist Him? There is said here much more than some Arminians would want to admit. The total depravity of human kind which without sovereign grace always resists the work of God.

This is what the ESV Study Bible says:[2]

Acts 7:51 Stephen concluded with a direct attack on Israel for rejecting the Messiah. While this may seem harsh, Luke will soon say that Stephen was “full of the Holy Spirit” (v. 55; cf. 6:10, 15) and he was no doubt led by the Spirit, who knew the hearts of Stephen’s listeners, to make this accusation. Using the language of the OT he accused them of being stiff-necked (see Ex. 33:3, 5; 34:9; Deut. 9:6, 13), uncircumcised in heart and ears (Lev. 26:41; Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:4, 6:10, 9:26; Ezek. 44:7, 9), and resisting the Holy Spirit (Isa. 63:10). In fact, the repeated rejection of God’s will is the point of his story, justifying the charge that prophets also made against the nation.

John Gill comments on this:[3]

Ye stiffnecked,.... Or "hard necked", the same with קשה עורף, which is a character frequently given of this people, Ex 32:9 and elsewhere, and is expressive of their obstinacy, stubbornness and refractoriness; who would not submit their necks to the yoke of God's law, and be obedient to his commands:

and uncircumcised in heart and ears; for though they had the mark of circumcision in their flesh, of which they boasted; yet they had not the true circumcision of the heart; their hearts were not circumcised to fear and love the Lord, nor their ears to hear the word of the Lord and the Gospel of Christ; so that notwithstanding their confidence in carnal privileges, they were uncircumcised persons:

ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; the resistance made by these persons was not to the Spirit of God in them, of which they were destitute, but to the Spirit of God in his ministers, in his apostles, and particularly in Stephen; nor to any internal operation of his grace, but to the external ministry of the word, and to all that objective light, knowledge, evidence, and conviction that it gave of Jesus's being the Messiah: and such who resist Christ's ministers, resist him, and such who resist him, may be said to resist his Holy Spirit; and the word here used signifies a rushing against, and falling upon, in a rude and hostile way, and fitly expresses their ill treatment of Christ and his ministers, by falling upon them and putting them to death: which is the resistance here designed, as appears by the following verse: so that this passage is no proof of the resistance of the Holy Spirit, and the operations of his grace in conversion, when he is in men, and acts with a purpose and will to convert them; since it does not appear that he was in these persons, and was acting in them, with a design to convert them; and if he was, it wilt be difficult to prove that they so resisted, and continued to resist, as that they were not hereaf...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

.../a> John MacArthur. Safe In the Arms of God. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2003). pp. 37-38.
  • ^ Ibid., p. 80.
  • ...