But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever.  Amen.

2 Peter 3:18



And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)


Every artifice of human ingenuity has been employed to blunt the sharp edge of this Scripture and to explain away the obvious meaning of these words, but it has been employed in vain, though nothing will ever be able to reconcile this and similar passages to the mind of the natural man.


"As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed." Here we learn four things: First, that believing is the consequence and not the cause of God's decree. Second, that a limited number only are "ordained to eternal life," for if all men without exception were thus ordained by God, then the words "as many as" are a meaningless qualification.


Third, that this "ordination" of God is not to mere external privileges but to "eternal life," not to service but to salvation itself. Fourth, that all—"as many as," not one less—who are thus ordained by God to eternal life will most certainly believe.


The comments of the beloved Spurgeon on the above passage are well worthy of our notice. Said he, "Attempts have been made to prove that these words do not teach predestination, but these attempts so clearly do violence to language that I shall not waste time in answering them. I read: 'As many as were ordained to eternal life believed,' and I shall not twist the text but shall glorify the grace of God by ascribing to that grace the faith of every man.


Is it not God who gives the disposition to believe? If men are disposed to have eternal life, does not He—in every case—dispose them? Is it wrong for God to give grace? If it be right for Him to give it, is it wrong for Him to purpose to give it? Would you have Him give it by accident? If it is right for Him to purpose to give grace today, it was right for Him to purpose it before today—and, since He changes not—from eternity."


Pink, Arthur W. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD (pp. 40-41). Kindle Edition.





Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:  Acts 2:23


In the Bible verse just quoted above (Acts 2:23) we can learn at least two important facts.


We have both predestination (determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God) and human responsibility (by wicked hands have crucified and slain) taught side by side in the very same verse.


But, how can God hold the sinner responsible for doing what God has predestined him to do?


First, no one knows what God has predestined for him (or her) to do, until he (or she) actually does it.  Man is responsible to obey God’s revealed will.  The secret will of God is his business, not ours.


Read carefully the following verse of Scripture for proof of both the secret and the revealed will of God:


The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.  Deuteronomy 29:29


Second, those who crucified Christ knew the revealed will of God, in this case, the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”


But, if sinners are spiritually and morally unable to keep the Law of God, how can God hold them responsible for their sinful acts, when he has predestined them?


One of the best answers to this question was given by Arthur W. Pink.  We take the liberty of quoting only a small part of his answer to this question:


“The basis or ground of human responsibility is human ability. What is implied by this general term "ability" must now be defined. Perhaps a concrete example will be more easily grasped by the average reader than an abstract argument.


“Suppose a man owed me $100 and could find plenty of money for his own pleasures but none for me, yet pleaded that he was unable to pay me. What would I say?


“I would say that the only ability that was lacking was an honest heart. But would it not be an unfair construction of my words if a friend of my dishonest debtor should say I had stated that an honest heart was that which constituted the ability to pay the debt?


“No; I would reply: the ability of my debtor lies in the power of his hand to write me a check, and this he has, but what is lacking is an honest principle.


“It is his power to write me a check which makes him responsible to do so, and the fact that he lacks an honest heart does not destroy his accountability.”


Pink, Arthur W. The Sovereignty of God (p. 124). Kindle Edition.


For those who desire more teaching on the relationship between God’s Sovereign Predestination (of all things) and Human Responsibility, we highly recommend the following two (2) theological MASTERPIECES:





The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination




The Sovereignty of God







George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows the Lamb of God.  He and his wife, Christy, have been married 42 years (in 2019).  They have 8 grown children.  You can contact George at support@tulipgems.com

Copyright © 2002 through 2019 by George Theiss