Thursday, 3 October 2013


I see Mr Cloud has done a re-run of an earlier article entitled "Calvin's Camels". I answered a similar post to this a few years ago and put it up here, appealing to your sense of discernment, as tested by no other standard than the word of God. I answered his "Calvinism Debate" article too several years ago. I intend shortly to publish my reply to that here as well. Meanwhile, you must content yourselves with this reply to his camels article. 


A word of advice from a Calvinist to all those who either write for or provide web space for anti Calvinist articles. I am a seasoned reader of anti Calvinistic literature and web sites, and still a Calvinist. Why is this? Apart from the reason that I once stood where you stood, I have never really been challenged in my Calvinism. True, some non Calvinist friends have put some difficult verses my way but on examination of the same, I have found that the Calvinistic interpretation of these verses is the most consistent with the rest of the Bible. Every now and again I surf the web looking for fresh exposures of the things I believe. It would be very easy for me to get comfortable in my Calvinistic faith and just read Reformed articles. I enjoy being challenged and the more difficult the challenge the more I like it. Perhaps I've missed the plot somewhere - or the search engines just put the wrong sites in the wrong order - but I see very little in what is generally offered to make me change my mind.


“Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24).

DAVID CLOUD: Having read John Calvin’s Institutes and having studied the writings of many Calvinists both ancient and contemporary, I am convinced that Calvin was guilty of straining at gnats and swallowing camels. To accept Calvinism (in any of its forms) is to deny the plain teaching of dozens of Scriptures.
MY COMMENT: Obviously I would disagree with Mr Cloud's opening lines and will explain why as he seeks to back up his claims.

DAVID CLOUD: I have examined Calvinism many times during the 40 years since I was saved. The first time was shortly after I was converted, when I was in Bible College, and Calvinism was one of the many topics that were strenuously discussed by the students. I had never heard of Calvinism before that and I didn’t know what to think of it, so I read Arthur Pink’s The Sovereignty of God and a couple of other titles on the subject with a desire to understand it and to know whether it was scriptural or not. Some of the students became Calvinists, but I concluded that though Calvinism makes some good points about the sovereignty of God and though I personally like the way it exalts God above man and though I agree with its teaching that salvation is 100% of God and though I despise and reject the shallow, manipulative, man-centered soul winning scheme that is so common among independent Baptists and though it does seem to be supported by a few Scriptures, the bottom line to me is that it ends up contradicting far too many plain Scriptures.

MY COMMENT: Mr Cloud is seeking to be nice to us here, while (naturally) registering his dissent. This is fair enough. I am glad that he sees that Calvinism teaches that salvation is 100% of God and it really does - although the Calvinist willingly takes it right back to the place where God decided who was going to saved. Calvinists believe that election is also 100% of God. And election ultimately determines who will be with God in Heaven. No matter what side of the doctrinal fence we sit on, surely we agree that only the elect will be in Heaven? Alas! Mr Cloud, because in his doctrine of election, gives MAN 100% of the glory in this part. You see, according to Mr Cloud's school of thought, election is MAN'S part in the matter. God waits patiently while MAN decides what he is going to do with Him. I have never seen it broke down into percentages, but it sure isn't 100% of God and that surely robs God of just some of His glory, while it surely gives man the right to claim something. I swallowed that hump myself in the early part of my Christian experience, but I soon changed my views as I studied the Scriptures more and more.

DAVID CLOUD:  In the year 2000 I was invited to preach at a conference on Calvinism at Heritage Baptist University in Greenwood, Indiana, that was subsequently held in April of 2001. The conference was opposed to Calvinism; and I agreed to speak, because I have been in sympathy with such a position ever since I first examined the subject in Bible College. Before I put together a message for the conference, though, I wanted to re-examine Calvinism in a more thorough manner. I contacted Dr. Peter Masters in London, England, and discussed the subject of Calvinism with him. I told him that I love and respect him in Christ and I also love and respect his predecessor, Charles Spurgeon, though I do not agree with either of them on Calvinism (or on some issues, in fact). I told Dr. Masters that I wanted him to tell me what books he would recommend so that I could properly understand what he believes on the subject (knowing that there are many varieties of Calvinism). I did not want to misrepresent anything. Among other things, Dr. Masters recommended that I read Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and Iain Murray’s Spurgeon vs. the Hyper-Calvinists, which I did.  In the last couple of years I have again re-investigated Calvinism from both sides. I read Dave Hunt’s “What Love Is This?” and “A Calvinist’s Honest Doubts Resolved by Reason and God’s Amazing Grace.” I read “Debating Calvinism: Five Points, Two Views” by Dave Hunt and James White. I carefully re-read Arthur Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God” as well as the “Westminster Confession of Faith.” I have also studied about 100 pages of materials published in defense of Calvinism by the Far Eastern Bible College in Singapore. This is a Bible Presbyterian school. As best as I know how, I have studied these materials with the sole desire to know the truth and with a willingness to follow the truth wherever it leads. Thus, while I have not read every book on this subject that could be recommended by my readers, I have made a considerable effort to understand Calvinism properly and not to misrepresent it (though I have learned that a non-Calvinist will ALWAYS be charged with misrepresentation).

MY COMMENT: I do not say this to "hit back" in any way, but when Mr Cloud sets forth the Calvinist position, in order to refute it, he usually manages to omit some very important matters. For instance, I cannot recall anywhere where he acknowledges that men are viewed as sinners when God made His sovereign choice in election. This is important, because it removes the gross misunderstanding that  the damnation of the non elect is less than just. If Mr Cloud's evidence was being used to bring a conviction in a legal court case, the omission of this evidence would lead, at least, to a retrial. I am happy that Mr Cloud has access to so many materials, but I do wish it would be a bit more evident  in how he sets forth the Calvinistic position. At times, I feel it is like having Picasso paint your passport photograph. You look at it and say; "Is that me?" when you know it is not.

DAVID CLOUD: The Calvinist will doubtless argue that I simply don’t understand Calvinism properly, and to this I reply that if Calvinism is that complicated it can’t be the truth. If a reasonably intelligent preacher who has studied and taught the Bible diligently for 32 years and has published a Bible encyclopedia and many other Bible study books can study Calvinism with a desire to understand it properly and still not understand it, then it is far too complicated to be the truth! The apostle Paul warned that it is the devil that makes theology that complicated. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Of course, Calvinism is not simple by any means and this is one reason why it produces an elitist mentality. To understand Calvinism one must deal with compatibalism, monergism versus synergism, electing grace vs. irresistible grace, effectual calling vs. general calling, effective atonement vs. hypothetical atonement, libertarian free will vs. the bondage of the will, objective grace and subjective grace, natural ability and moral ability, mediate vs. immediate imputation of Adam’s sin, supralapsarianism, sublapsarianism, infralapsarianism, desiderative vs. decretive will, and antecedent hypothetical will, to name a few!

MY COMMENT: This is easily answered.
[i]  Scripture itself contains some things hard to be understood (2 Peter 3:16) but we still accept Scripture to be the truth of God , and we still need to ask God to open our eyes to understand it (Psalm 119:18) and have the Spirit of God to guide us into it (John 16:13)  You can go as deep as you want with any doctrine, but such depths do not deny the validity of the truth expounded.
[ii] You don't need to be a rocket scientist to fly in a plane, or to be a qualified mechanic or engineer to drive a car. There are many Calvinists who have grasped the basics of an effective atonement, rejected the failed atonement idea etc., and yet must plead ignorant to the greater matters of debate.
[iii] With all due respect, maybe the carnal nature that is in every Believer is still at work here. It is very hard to surrender everything up to God - to let go of the last vestige of what the big "I" did - and give God all the glory. I rebelled too when I first came into contact with Calvinism. I clung to the "freewill" teaching of Mr Cloud.  But I soon come to let it go.
[iv] An elite mentality can be found among every group who think that they have got the truth. There are fundamentalist elitists, dispensationalist elitists, pre-post- amillenialist elistists, KJV elitists, NIV elitists ad infinitum. And Calvinist elitists. It comes with a carnal nature. We cannot blame it on the truth of God.

DAVID CLOUD: The Calvinist will further argue that the reason I have studied Calvinism and rejected it is because I think man should be equal to God. Calvinists invariably claim that the non-Calvinist doesn’t believe in God’s sovereignty. I can’t speak for others, but this non-Calvinist certain believes in God’s sovereignty. God is God and He can do whatsoever He pleases whensoever He pleases. As one man said, “Whatever the Bible says, I believe; the Bible says the whale swallowed Jonah, and I believe it; and if the Bible said that Jonah swallowed the whale, I would believe that!” If the Bible taught that God sovereignly selects some sinners to go to heaven and sovereignly elects the rest to go to hell or that He chooses only some to be saved and allows the rest to be destroyed, I would believe it, because I believe God is God and man cannot tell God what is right or wrong.

MY COMMENT: The very point I made above  - the inability or unwillingness to state that Calvinists believe that those who go to hell do so in a judicial manner. Why is this? Why , unless I am mistaken, does this seem to crop up in every article? It is a fundamental of Calvinism that while salvation is all of grace, damnation is all of sin. The Confessions teach it. Calvin taught it in his Institutes (3:23:8) and elsewhere and yet Mr Cloud replaces it with a distorted view. I am pretty sure Mr Cloud gets upset when he thinks of it. Any decent person would. But to father this bastard doctrine on Calvinists is totally unfair and unjust. We don't want it. We don't believe it. We reject it too.

That God has not chosen or predestinated every last sinner to go to Heaven is pretty obvious. Those so predestinated are definitely called, definitely justified and either are or will be definitely glorified (Romans 8:28-39) There is nothing hypothetical in Romans 8:28-39. Evidently then, He does allow (as Mr Cloud rightly puts it) the rest (who, remember, are guilty) to go to Hell. This is basic Christianity. It is not particularly a Calvinistic thing. I believed that in the days when I thought Calvinism stank to high heaven. So Mr Cloud should believe it too, since it is what the Bible teaches. The difficulty here all stems back to this failure to grasp the fact that Calvinists believe that sinners go to hell because of their sins and nothing else.

DAVID CLOUD: The fact is that every time I have studied Calvinism I have come away convinced that it simply contradicts too many Scriptures, that it is built more upon human logic and philosophy than upon the plain teaching of God’s Word. Whatever divine election means, and it is certainly an important and oft-taught doctrine of the Word of God, it cannot mean what Calvinism concludes, because to accept that position requires one to strain at gnats and swallow camels. The gnats are Calvinist extra-scriptural arguments and reasoning and the camels are Scriptures understood plainly by their context.

MY COMMENT; Bearing in mind that Mr Cloud has the greatest of difficulties of stating  the basic Calvinist concept of election, then we must wonder whether he is rejecting Calvinism or what he perceives Calvinism to be. This is not the first time Mr Cloud fails here, and I repeat my earlier claim, that I cannot remember any place where he has rightly stated the true position.  We are not getting to the hub of the matter at all, because  we seem to spend time in these reviews of Mr Cloud's articles seeking to explain why Calvinists don't believe what Mr Cloud says we do. I sometimes wonder (and hope) that his next article (if there is one) will be different.

DAVID CLOUD: Consider some gnats that Calvinists strain at. The Calvinist reasons that if God is sovereign than man can’t have a will and cannot resist Him.

MY COMMENT: I am sorry, Mr Cloud, but I have yet to meet or read or hear any Calvinist (and I too have my books etc.,) who believes such a thing. I see you develope this further below , so I will wait until then to show you were you are wrong.

DAVID CLOUD:  The Calvinist reasons that if the sinner is dead then he obviously can’t respond to the gospel and if he cannot respond to the gospel and if faith itself is a sovereignly bestowed gift (based on an erroneous exegesis of Eph. 2:8-9) then the elect must be born again before he can exercise faith.
MY COMMENT: It is more accurate to say that Calvinists believe that since men are dead in trespasses and in sin, then they cannot (in themselves) respond positively to the gospel. This is a different matter. The natural man (dead in trespasses and in sins) will not receive the things of the Spirit of God because such things are spiritually discerned. He must be enabled by the power of God, for he cannot come to Christ because he is in bondage to sin (John 6:44/John 8:35) Please note here, I am not saying that the sinner's inability is God induced. No Big Hand From Heaven tugs his coat and prevents him from moving God ward. Sin holds him back. Self will holds him back. Love of darkness rather than light holds him back. He has no desire to come, unless his will is renewed by the power of God. It is a matter of debate among Calvinists whether regeneration (the enabling of the sinner to receive the things of God) precedes or accompanies faith, but we do agree that it is the cause of faith.

DAVID CLOUD: The Calvinist reasons that since God works all things after His own will then if He truly willed for all men to be saved, He would save all men. The Calvinist argues that since God predestinated some to eternal salvation then He must have predestined others to eternal damnation.
MY COMMENT: Here we go again. No mention of the different principles on which God deals with sinners. His predestination to life for some (a great multitude which no man can number) was solely on the basis of His sovereign will and grace. His predestination to damnation for the rest was on account of their sins. Is this hard to understand? Are those non Calvinists, who at least see our point, the theological equivalents of rocket scientists to see that there is a difference? I don't think so. I am a person of average intelligence. I am not scientifically minded; better at understanding and expressing myself in English than working out complicated mathematical problems, and yet I can see it. I can see that it makes a big difference. Mr Cloud does not come across as a slow or stupid person, but that this doesn't seem to register at all simply amazes me.

DAVID CLOUD: In each of these cases, the Calvinist applies human logic to the issue rather than a clear statement from Scripture and the Scriptures he uses to support his doctrine do no such thing. He thus strains at gnats while swallowing hundreds of clear Scriptures that overthrow his doctrine.
MY COMMENT: OK Mr Cloud, you are going to tell us why you say these things. Go ahead. We're listening.


DAVID CLOUD: Following are just a few of the camels that John Calvin swallowed when he followed Augustine, that “Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church,” into the error of “sovereign election” and when he reasoned that God would not be sovereign if man could reject Him and if salvation could be accepted or rejected by the sinner.
MY COMMENT: First of all, there is only quotation from John Calvin below (where Mr Clouds accuses him of speaking out of the side of his mouth something else) so the proof that these are some camels John Calvin swallowed is not forthcoming. We are back here to being asked to believe something without any evidence. Would this stand up in a court of law? Surely Mr Cloud does not want to believe something simply because he said it? Is that either fair or proper? Is it wise? I certainly would not operate on such a faulty basis.

Secondly, John Calvin freely accepted than men could and did reject the grace of our Sovereign God. What does Calvin say on that key verse (Acts 7:51) which clearly shows that men can resist God? Did Mr Cloud think of looking up his commentary on the matter? Again, to me, this would be the pretty obvious thing to do, and judging by his comments, I can only assume that Mr Cloud did not.  Had he done so, then he could have made charged Calvin with what he is so charging. Calvin wrote the following (Emphasis mine)
"And those are said to resist the Spirit who reject him when he speaketh in the prophets. Neither doth he speak in this place of secret revelations, wherewith God inspireth every one, but of the external ministry; which we must note diligently. He purposeth to take from the Jews all color of excuse; and, therefore, he upbraideth unto them, that they had purposely, and not of ignorance, resisted God. Whereby it appeareth what great account the Lord maketh of his word, and how reverently he will have us to receive the same. Therefore, lest, like giants, we make war against God, let us learn to hearken to the ministers by whose mouth he teacheth us."

That's pretty clear, is it not? "Resisting the Spirit…purposely and not of ignorance resisted God…make war with God" You can look up many a Calvinist commentator, and they all take the same line. Let me quote you AW Pink on the matter. I do so because Mr Cloud seems to have discovered his writings and uses him below. Did Pink believe that men could resist our Sovereign God? He refers several times to Acts 7:51 in his book on "Man's Total Depravity" which, again is freely accessible on the internet, so there really is no reason not to check our statements, especially if they are making accusations against other people.  I quote from AW Pink (Again emphasis mine)
"When any part of God's revealed will is made known to men, they endeavour to banish it from their thoughts. They do not like to retain God in their thoughts (Romans 1:28) therefore they resist the strivings of the Spirit for obedient compliance (Acts 7:51)"

"Consequently, man's war against God is a double one: defensive and offensive. Defensively, he slights God's Word, perverts His gifts, resists the overtures of his Spirit (Acts 7:51)"

"A lifeless body has no responsibility, but a spiritually dead soul is accountable to God. A corpse in a cemetery will not 'despise and reject' Christ (Isaiah 53:3) will not 'resist the Holy Ghost' (Acts 7:51), will not disobey the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8); but the sinner can and does do these very things and is justly condemned for them."

"Not only do men refuse to employ the means which God has appointed but they scorn His help by fighting against illumination and conviction…'Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.' (Acts 7:51)"

I could fill this page with many similar quotes from many different Calvinists.

DAVID CLOUD: I realize that a staunch Calvinist has an answer for everything. He can flee immediately into his stronghold of making clever and intricate man-made distinctions between electing grace and common grace, between degrees of the love of God, between desiderative vs. decretive will and antecedent hypothetical will, you name it. I am not writing the article for such a person. I am writing it for the simple believer who loves God’s Word and who has not been overawed by intellectual brilliance and brainwashed by human theology.
Three things.

MY COMMENT: [i] Maybe Calvinists have answers for everything (as Mr Cloud exaggeratingly [is that a word?] puts it) because all that the non Reformed put our direction by way of criticism is either totally invalid and just needs to be denied (like the statement that Calvinists do not believe that men can resist a Sovereign God) or, if valid, can be answered. When we get down a bit further on this page, I will show how that some of Mr Cloud's objections hinge on how we interpret Scripture e.g. does "all" in the Bible always mean "all without exception" etc., or can it ever mean "all without distinction" Such objections are not unfair or unreasonable.
[ii] It is not a clever, man-made distinction to say that there is a difference between electing grace and common grace etc. If God gave electing grace to every last sinner then either every sinner is going to be in Heaven (for that is where electing grace ultimately brings us) or (despite its claims in the Bible) it is not worth a ball of blue, because having elected us unto everlasting life, it has signally failed. As in the case a few days ago, I am amazed at some of the things Mr Cloud is saying here. Even making allowance that he is not a Calvinist. I once moved in similar circles to Mr Cloud on this matter and held to election through faith etc., and I would not have said what Mr Cloud is here saying.
[iii] Such differences in theological studies are vital. Mr Cloud makes use of the term "Trinity" Let him explain the differences (not merely state) between the members of the Trinity and how Christ's human nature that allowed Him to sleep exhausted in a boat can be reconciled with the spiritual that watchs over Israel without sleeping. Let him keep it so simple that a little Sunday School child will not lose him as he explains it.
There are deep things in this Book. They are not essential to the grasping of the gospel as far as getting saved are concerned, but if you want to know more, then you need to dig deeper and you will use words and make distinctions so that the Scriptures may be seen to agree with one another. If Mr Cloud is not prepared to do that, then he will merely scratch upon the surface.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Mat. 23:37).
MY COMMENT:  A good verse to turn to in such a debate as this. What point is Mr Cloud drawing from it?

DAVID CLOUD:  Here we see that it was the will and desire of the Son of God to save Israel throughout her history and He sent His prophets to her, but He was refused. Christ would; Israel would not. Knowing that Christ is God, this teaches us that God’s will can be thwarted by man’s will?

MY COMMENT: Yes it does. Just as when God says "Thou shalt not kill" and 6,000,000 Jews went up in smoke etc., in World War II or all over the world tonight, detectives will investigate a 1,000 murders etc.,  It makes both common and theological sense to differentiate between the preceptive and the decretive will of God and so reconcile what we see with what the Bible states. I suggest that the only reason Mr Cloud dismisses it with his "mumbo jumbo" jibe above is because either he cannot understand it (and should simply say so) or because he rejects it and prefers to have God sitting frustrated in Heaven, the great Second Fiddler in His own universe.

DAVID CLOUD:  Arthur Pink says, 
“But did those tears make manifest a disappointed God? Nay, verily. Instead, they displayed a perfect Man” (The Sovereignty of God, p. 199).

MY COMMENT: To state the obvious here, AW Pink is not John Calvin, but making allowances, we will accept AW Pink as a well known Calvinist. Of course, this doesn't mean that I necessarily agree with him, or with any Calvinist for that matter (My sole authority in what I believe is the Scripture alone) The question  is: "Is this Calvinist by the name of Arthur Pink right in what he wrote?"  However, we must ask another question first: "Is this all that Arthur Pink wrote i.e. on Matthew 23:37?" The thought of using isolated quotes doesn't sit well with me, as it seems to do with others, and so I always (if I can) check out the references. Thankfully you, the reader, can join me in checking it out, because Pink's book is on line.

Does Pink (Not Calvin as originally named) "reason that God would not be sovereign if man could reject Him and if salvation could be accepted or rejected by the sinner."? A couple of paragraphs up from the above quotation, Pink free acknowledges that men CAN resist God.  I quote: 
"The question is asked, Do not these words show that the Saviour acknowledged the defeat of His mission, that as a people the Jews resisted all His gracious overtures toward them? In replying to this question, it should first be pointed out that our Lord is here referring not so much to His own mission, as He is upbraiding the Jews for having in all ages rejected His grace—this is clear from His reference to the "prophets." The Old Testament bears full witness of how graciously and patiently Jehovah dealt with His people, and with what extreme obstinacy, from first to last, they refused to be "gathered" unto Him, and how in the end He (temporarily) abandoned them to follow their own devices, yet, as the same Scriptures declare, the counsel of God was not frustrated by their wickedness, for it had been foretold (and therefore, decreed) by Him—see, for example, 1 Kings 8:33."
So there you have it. The sovereignty of God seen in the fact that His counsel was not frustrated, yet with extreme obstinacy they refused to be gathered unto Him. It is not a matter of either/or. It is a matter of both, because Mr Cloud nor anyone else can ever say that it was the decree or purpose of God to save those who (ultimately) never come to Christ.

DAVID CLOUD: Thus, according to the Calvinist, Jesus’ statement in Matt. 23:37 does not teach that God’s will was ever thwarted by man’s will but merely expresses the human side of Jesus’ compassionate nature.

MY COMMENT: Actually, all Mr Cloud has done here is quote one man i.e. AW Pink.

DAVID CLOUD: According to Calvin, God cannot be disappointed, because that would means He is not sovereign (according to Calvin’s own predetermined definition), but this flies in the face of the Scriptures in literally thousands of places.

MY COMMENT: But we haven't had any proof yet from Calvin on this matter. Mr Cloud indicated that he was going to lead in some of Calvin's camels, but quotes another man (Pink) instead. Can Mr Cloud not tell the difference between two men who lived over 300 years apart? He cannot be serious here. Surely, these simple Bible believers whom he purports to be targeting above, are not that  simple? If I purported to be refuting (say) John Wesley but quoted David Cloud...what would our Weslyan friends think?

DAVID CLOUD: To say that Jesus was speaking in Matthew 23:37 as man but not as God is both ridiculous and heretical. Jesus told His disciplines, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9). In Matt. 23:37 Jesus is speaking as the eternal Son of God, yea, as Jehovah God, as the very same God who had sent the prophets to Israel throughout her rebellious career and who had desired to give her peace, but THEY WOULD NOT.

MY COMMENT: Pink (for it is Pink who is speaking, although Mr Cloud "blames" Calvin for these words) isn't denying the Deity of Christ. He affirms it in many places in his voluminous writings. Pink is taking the line that these words in Matthew 23:37 flow, first and foremost, from His humanity. Did Christ's Deity sleep in the boat during the storm? Did Christ's Deity hunger when He saw the fig tree, or His Deity thirst at Sychar's well? Does it deny Christ's Deity to say "No?" Then, it no more denies His Deity, for Pink to say that His tears in this verse manifest His humanity. I don't necessarily agree with Pink's comments here, but I think Mr Cloud is reading more into Pink's comments than is actually there.

Calvin seems to be taking an opposite view to Pink here. Why did Mr Cloud did not quote Calvin on this issue? It would have been the most natural, logical and simple thing to do, but for some unknown reason, he went instead for someone else. Anyway, here is what Calvin wrote:
" I said formerly that Christ speaks here in the person of God, and my meaning is, that this discourse belongs properly to his eternal Godhead; for he does not now speak of what he began to do since he was manifested in the flesh, (1 Timothy 3:16,) but of the care which he exercised about the salvation of his people from the beginning. Now we know that the Church was governed by God in such a manner that Christ, as the Eternal Wisdom of God, presided over it. In this sense Paul says, not that God the Father was tempted in the wilderness, but that Christ himself was tempted (1 Corinthians 10:9.) Again, when the sophists seize on this passage, to prove free will, and to set aside the secret predestination of God, the answer is easy. “God wills to gather all men,” say they; “and therefore all are at liberty to come, and their will does not depend on the election of God.” I reply: The will of God, which is here mentioned, must be judged from the result. For since by his word he calls all men indiscriminately to salvation, and since the end of preaching is, that all should betake themselves to his guardianship and protection, it may justly be said that he wills to gather all to himself. It is not, therefore, the secret purpose of God, but his will, which is manifested by the nature of the word, that is here described; for, undoubtedly, whomsoever he efficaciously wills to gather, he inwardly draws by his Spirit, and does not merely invite by the outward voice of man."

Mr Cloud has already made clear that he is far from happy with the idea of differences in the will of God above, or in any of those ways which students of the Bible seek to explain those things which are hard to be understood. To him,  it only desimplifies what should be simple and therefore is devilish. However, Calvin rightly draws attention to the fact that objectors themselves employ these means. I assume Mr Cloud does also. I quote:
"If it be objected, that it is absurd to suppose the existence of two wills in God, I reply, we fully believe that his will is simple and one; but as our minds do not fathom the deep abyss of secret election, in accommodation to the capacity of our weakness, the will of God is exhibited to us in two ways. And I am astonished at the obstinacy of some people, who, when in many passages of Scripture they meet with that figure of speech which attributes to God human feelings, take no offense, but in this case alone refuse to admit it. But as I have elsewhere treated this subject fully, that I may not be unnecessarily tedious, I only state briefly that, whenever the doctrine, which is the standard of union, is brought forward, God wills to gather all, that all who do not come may be inexcusable." (Comments on Matthew 23:37)

To conclude (on this supposed camel sandwich) Calvin did not believe (as charged by Mr Cloud) that "God would not be sovereign if man could reject Him and if salvation could be accepted or rejected by the sinner." Here Calvin allows both, as indeed did Pink (not necessarily from Matthew 23;37 in Pink's case, but from the other places quoted above.)


“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Rom. 10:21).

“I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts” (Isaiah 65:2).
Here is the same type of statement that Jesus Himself made in Matt. 23:37. We see that God wanted to save Israel and continually reached out to them, but God’s message and salvation were resisted and rejected.

MY COMMENT: Yes, it is the same type of statement as above, and therefore, we assume that it is being used to bolster up the same charge as before that Calvin denied that God could not be sovereign if man rejected him. But Calvin, in his commentary on this verse (again strangely omitted by Mr Cloud) alludes to the fact that God's call was resisted:

"But of Israel, etc. A reason is subjoined why God passed over to the Gentiles; it was because he saw that his favor was become a mockery to the Jews. But that readers may more fully understand that the blindness of the people is pointed out in the second clause, Paul expressly reminds us that the elect people were charged with their own wickedness. Literally it is, “He says to Israel;” but Paul has imitated the Hebrew idiom; for lamed, is often put for , men. And he says, that to Israel he stretched forth his hands, whom he continually by his word invited to himself, and ceased not to allure by every sort of kindness; for these are the two ways which he adopts to call men, as he thus proves his goodwill towards them. However, he chiefly complains of the contempt shown to his truth; which is the more abominable, as the more remarkable is the manner by which God manifests his paternal solicitude in inviting men by his word to himself." (Commentary on Romans 10:21)

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51).
MY COMMENT: We have already quoted Calvin and Pink above in their comments on Acts 7:51 which you should consult. However, it is interesting to read Mr Cloud's comments in the paragraph below.

DAVID CLOUD:  Stephen charged his Jewish persecutors with resisting the Holy Spirit. Here again we see that the Holy Spirit strives with men and that they can willfully resist Him. The Calvinist answer this by claiming that the “bondage of the will” works only one way, meaning that the unsaved can reject the truth but they cannot, on the other hand, receive the truth.
MY COMMENT: What is this? Am I reading this right? Mr Cloud now admits that Calvinists do believe that men can resist truth? Above Mr Cloud blandly assures us that: 

"He (Calvin) reasoned that God would not be sovereign if man could reject Him and if salvation could be accepted or rejected by the sinner." 

Since we affirm that God is always sovereign, then this is tantamount to saying that Calvin did not believe that men could reject God. But now having made his original charge, Calvinists (by which, I assume John Calvin is included) do believe that "the unsaved can reject the truth..." On one hand we are chastised for not believing it (although we do) but  now we are credited with believing it and our explanation of why and how we believe it to be so is to be scrutinised below. If any simple Bible believer is scratching his head on this one, please take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.

DAVID CLOUD: According to this doctrine, only the elect are given the ability to believe the gospel while the non-elect are left in their Totally Depraved condition with their will in bondage and unable to believe.
MY COMMENT: Correct Mr Cloud. Nice to see that you (at last) acknowledge the Calvinist view that the non elect are left in their totally depraved position. Correct me if I am wrong, but this is the first time in several articles, some of which are lengthy, that you actually state this. If we follow through our Picasso painting your passport  likeness illustration, I am thankful that my nose is back in the middle of my face.

DAVID CLOUD: The Bible nowhere teaches this.

MY COMMENT: Wrong Mr Cloud. Twice in John 6 (v44/v65) the Lord Jesus used the word "cannot" which means that they are unable. Unable, not (to repeat myself here) because a Big Hand From Heaven squashes their desire to come and holds them back when they really did want to be saved, but unable because their will is in bondage to sin (John 8:34) and they love their darkness rather than light (John 3:19) Again, the Bible assures that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14) Again, the carnal man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God (Romans 8:7)  Only the elect, as you rightly accredit us with believing, are given the ability to believe.  "Unto you (Paul writing to the saints) is it given, not only to believe, but also to suffer for His name" (Philippians 1:29) I afraid, Mr Cloud, it is you that has swallowed the camel here.

DAVID CLOUD: Instead, from the beginning to the end of the Bible, from Cain to those who follow the antichrist, men are called by God and are expected to respond and obviously are able to respond and are condemned when they do not. That some do and some do not respond to the light that God gives is not because only some are pre-ordained to respond.

MY COMMENT: Mr Cloud is right in some of his points here.
[i] Right  throughout the whole Bible men are called by God (i.e. to repent etc.,)
[ii] Such men are expected to respond. (We call this: Man's responsibility which Calvinists affirm)
[iii] Men are condemned when they do not respond (i.e. fail to respond positively and repent etc.,)
[iv] That some do not respond is not only because only some are pre-ordained to respond. (Calvinists agree here. The blame, in Scripture, is shifted unto the sinner and that's where Calvinists rightly put it. Salvation is all of grace. Damnation is all of sin.)

Where Mr Cloud goes wrong here is when he says that those who are so called to repent and expected to do so are "obviously able to respond" Mr Cloud here is confusing responsibility with ability. What is obvious to him in this point is not obvious to those who study their Bibles. Those 'cannots' of John 6 are rock solid. Calvinists believe that it is sin that robs man of his ability to do the will of God.

Furthermore, Mr Cloud (I assume) works on the same principle in a similar matter. Are men commanded to keep the Commandments of God? Since violation of these commandments constitutes sin (1 John 3:4) we assume that they are. But are they able to keep these commandments? No they can't. Why not? Because they have a sinful nature that forbids them. Yet God hold them fully accountable. Likewise on this matter of saving faith. Why then do we exhort indiscriminately all sinners to repent and believe, even if  their own chosen sin prevents them from doing so? Well, while it is enough to answer, "because God commands it" (Mark 16:15) etc., we might also say, because it reminds sinners of their responsibilities before God and because, through such activity on our part, God is pleased to effectually call His elect.  [See Eight Reasons Why Calvinists evangelise]

“For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (1 Thess. 2:14-16).
According to this passage, the Jews that killed the Lord Jesus and persecuted the early believers were not sovereignly reprobated to that evil work. They filled up their sins and brought God’s wrath upon them by their own actions. Note, too, that Paul says the Jews forbade the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles “that they might be saved.” Thus we see that the Gentiles to whom the gospel would otherwise have been preached could have been saved through that preaching.
MY COMMENT: Three things here:
[i] As indicated above, Calvinists also believe that men bring the wrath of God upon themselves. We agree with Mr Cloud on this point.
[ii] To say that that the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus were not sovereignly reprobated to this evil work flies in the face of Luke 22:22 where the Son of Man went as it was determined of him, but woe to that man by whom He was betrayed.  God's reasons and Iscariot's reasons did not meet together, but the act itself and the participators were determined by God.  Likewise in Acts 2:23 and Acts 4:27-28 where God's determinate counsel and foreknowledge is invoked as the cause of Christ's death, while  (at the same time) those hands who partook in that awful deed are indicted as wicked hands.
[iii] That the Jews prevented the preaching of the gospel "that they might be saved" shows the great hatred of the Jews to the thought of Christ gaining disciples. It seems that the Jews won that particular battle that day. However, the verse does not exclude the thought that those who were thus prevented from hearing that day never heard again. There is certainly nothing here that overthrows any Calvinistic belief.

“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29).
Either this verse means that a saved person can lose his salvation, or it means that a person can come close to being saved without actually being regenerated and can then turn away finally from salvation by rejecting the efficacy of the blood and the gospel of grace. We believe that it teaches the latter. In our church planting ministry we have seen many Hindus and Buddhists attend church services and purchase Bibles and look eagerly into the things of Christ and even desire to be baptized and publicly testify that they believed the gospel only to finally turn away and to return to human religion and idolatry and to renounce the blood of Christ and salvation by grace. These were not sanctified in the sense of salvation but they were sanctified in the sense of having been enlightened and convicted by the Spirit and in the sense of having professed to believe in the covenant or gospel of grace.
MY COMMENT: I agree 100% with Mr Cloud's interpretation. Can he show  where Calvin (or Pink) or any prominent Calvinist commentator says otherwise? If such a belief is swallowing camels, then Mr Cloud's plate contains the same fare as that of any Calvinist.

DAVID CLOUD: This verse contradicts the Calvinist doctrines of Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace. At the verse least this verses teaches that the blood of Christ was available to them for salvation but that they rejected it.
MY COMMENT: No it doesn't.
[i] A limited atonement (limited, incidentally in its intention,.but not in its merit or value) does not preclude a indiscriminate invitation. Both Calvin and mainline Calvinists believe in the indiscriminate offer of the gospel. It is true that some professing Calvinists, whom we brand as Hyper Calvinists, do not, but they are in a minority. Besides, Mr Cloud targeted John Calvin himself and our link above shows that Calvin preached as free a gospel as any.
[ii] How does it contradict irresistible grace? Are we now back to denying that Calvinists believe that God's call can be rejected? Did Mr Cloud not explain us above the basis on which Calvinists held this view. I quote him from above: 
"The Calvinist answer this by claiming that the “bondage of the will” works only one way, meaning that the unsaved can reject the truth but they cannot, on the other hand, receive the truth."
It was certainly facilitate this review if Mr Cloud could take a position and at least try and keep to it.  Preferably the position we Calvinists actually claim to hold and not what Mr Cloud thinks we hold - or at least thinks some of the time.

Perhaps it may be helpful to the reader if I briefly state what irresistible grace means. It means simply that there comes a time in the experience of the elect of God when they cannot resist the Spirit's call any longer and they come to Christ. The elect may have resisted the call for many years - the Dying Thief had for nearly all his life -  the non elect will live and die ultimately refusing to repent (even though, like those in Hebrews 10, he may have gone through some kind of religious experience and profession) Both the Bible (and experience) shows that the elect do not always resist the call of the Spirit of God and in that sense it is irresistible or effectual.

“Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (Matt. 11:20-24).
Jesus did not deal with men on the basis of sovereign election and sovereign reprobation.
MY COMMENT: Why stop at v24? Let us read the next few few verses 
"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.  Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." (v25-27) 
That is certainly sovereign election. The reason why the babes get to hear and not the wise and prudent is rooted in the pleasure of God, who could have withheld such a revelation from every last sinner ever born. But He doesn't. The Son decides to whom He will reveal God. No wonder Mr Cloud omits these verses! They are clearly unpalatable to him and the diluted gospel he is trying to propagate. It might be needful to say that sovereign reprobation does not automatically equate with sovereign damnation. Reprobation is just the flip side of sovereign election. If God graciously chooses some to be saved, then He automatically chooses to leave the rest . When he leaves the rest, he does so in their sins. Damnation then is due to their sins i.e. it is  a judicial act. Matthew 11:28-30 concludes with Christ making an indiscriminate invitation to all who are weak and heavy laden to come to him for rest etc.,  a most blessed thought with which Calvinists are happy to identify.

DAVID CLOUD: He dealt with them on the basis of human responsibility to respond to the divine call of repentance. Christ teaches here that men not only are responsible to repent but they can repent if they will. If they could not have repented, why are they upbraided as if they could have repented? If some men cannot repent, why are all men commanded to repent (Acts 17:30)?
 MY COMMENT: Again Mr Cloud supposes responsibility with ability. All men (whether elect or not) are responsible to repent because they cannot sin themselves out of responsibility before God. We still imprison again and again those people who come out of prison and re-offend. Even though they may be hardened criminals and seem incapable of keeping the law, the court still puts them out of circulation. 

Furthermore there is implicit in Matthew 11:20-24 the thought that repentance had been withheld from those cities of the plain long ago. This matter about the OT heathen opens up a whole new argument in this Calvinism debate. We know why they were damned i.e. for their sins (Romans 2:15) But why were they not treated equally with the OT Jews? One answer: The sovereignty of God to grant opportunity and repentance to whom He would.

“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” (Lk. 11:2).
This means, of course, that God’s will is not currently done on earth as it is in heaven, which means that God’s sovereignty does not mean that His will is always done. Man can thwart God’s will -- not ultimately as far as His eternal plan goes, but in many ways and in many times.
MY COMMENT: An interesting development here. Mr Cloud himself is putting a difference between certain aspects of God's will. Let him try and explain it without resorting to using certain man-made (though helpful) descriptions.  Unworried as to Mr Cloud's charge that any use of such things may confuse the simplest of Bible believers, I am happy to say that God's preceptive will is often broken, but that God's ultimate, eternal plan is always carried out. Again Mr Cloud and Calvinists are eating from the same plate.

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22).
If words mean anything, this universal divine invitation means that God earnestly desires to save all men and all men can be saved, and this was written during the Old Testament dispensation before the coming of Christ.

MY COMMENT: Calvinists agree again., However, neither Mr Cloud nor anyone for that matter can say that God so desired to save every last sinner with the force of a decree. Ultimately, it was not (to quote Mr Cloud's own words above) part of God's eternal plan to save every last sinner ever born, because such a will (according again to Mr Cloud) cannot be thrawted. 

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David” (Isaiah 55:1-3).
As in all other places where a general invitation is given to men to be saved, the Calvinist attempts to limit this passage to the elect, but it is impossible to do so. This particular invitation is to “every one that thirsteth.” The invitation is extended not merely by the God of Israel but by the God of the universe, the God that “made the earth, and created man upon it” (Isa. 45:12), the same God who said in a previous verse, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22). God promises to make an everlasting covenant with those who come to Him and promises to give such a one “the sure mercies of David.” That does not limit the invitation to Israel only. God’s covenant with David is fulfilled in his greater Son, the Messiah, and all who are saved participate in that covenant in one way or the other (Acts 13:34-38).
MY COMMENT: No, we don't. and glaringly Mr Cloud cannot bring himself to produce one shred of evidence that we do. Indeed, apart from one quote, a long time ago, from Pink, we have had nothing else thus far. The simple Bible believers which Mr Cloud targets are not those who hold to the simplicity that is in Christ, but rather the simple who pass on and are are punished (Proverbs 22:3) I have already linked to where Calvin and mainline Calvinists stand on the free offer of the gospel so there is no need to quote at length here. Any reader, perhaps unsure as to who is telling the truth here, may consult for himself. Please note, I am supplying quote after quote after quote, gleaned from many hours research both in my own library and the Internet. Mr Cloud offers no such quotes and obviously hopes that we will take his word for it.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:14-18).
Arthur Pink is typical in claiming that the world in this passage “does not mean the whole human family” but that is “is used in a general way” and it “must, in the final analysis, refer to the world of God’s people” (The Sovereignty of God, pp. 203, 204).

MY COMMENT: Far from typical here in his belief that the world  means "the world of the elect" Pink is at odds with many Calvinists who believe that the world which God loved in John 3:16 is indeed the whole world (to quote John Trapp) of "all mankind fallen in Adam" I tend to run with Trapp's view also. But again, the original issue at hand here is not Pink, but Calvin. It is John Calvin's plate that has the camels, if Mr Cloud's title has any meaning. Why not quote Calvin on John 3:16? Calvin's commentaries aren't hidden away somewhere in some obscure part of the world. Although I have them on a CD disk, all you need to do is go on Google and type in "Calvin's commentaries" and the very first entry that comes up  gives you free access. But if Mr Cloud won't quote Calvin, then let me. Emphasis mine.
"For God so loved the world. Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought to be carefully observed; for such is the wicked ambition which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates to the origin of our salvation, we quickly form diabolical imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we imagine that God is reconciled to us, because he has reckoned us worthy that he should look upon us. But Scripture everywhere extols his pure and unmingled mercy, which sets aside all merits." (Comments on John 3:16)

DAVID CLOUD: To the contrary, we know that the “world” in John 3:16 here means all men.
MY COMMENTS: Calvin and I, and many other Calvinists agree with you Mr Cloud.

DAVID CLOUD: First, the universality of this passage is clear from the term “whosoever,” which is used twice in the context. If the term “world” is made to mean anything other than the whole world of men, the term “whosoever” becomes meaningless. If “whosoever” does not mean “whosoever,” Bible words have no certain meaning and everything is thrown into confusion. The Calvinist says that only those who are sovereignly elected will believe, but the Bible says whosoever believes will be saved and is therefore elected.

MY COMMENT: Mr Cloud is right to so say that Calvinists believe that only those sovereignly elected will be saved, but he is wrong to ascribe to the Bible the belief that faith leads to election. This is putting the proverbial cart before the horse.  It makes faith to be the ultimate cause of man's salvation, whereas Calvinism makes faith to be the channel by which salvation flows to him from God. Pushed to its ultimate and logical conclusion (which, granted, many who hold to it shrink from doing) it makes a Christ out of faith.

DAVID CLOUD: Second, the universality of the “world” in this passage is clear from the typology that is used. The brass serpent that was raised up by Moses in the wilderness was sufficient for the salvation of all of the Jews who had been bitten by the snakes, but only those who looked upon it in faith were saved. Likewise, the salvation that Jesus purchased on Calvary is sufficient to save every sinner, but only those who believe are saved.

MY COMMENT: Or as it is sometimes put even by those of Mr Cloud's side of the fence, "Salvation is sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect" - a view with which John Calvin agreed, as he states in his commentary on 1 John 2:2 (although he did not think it applied to that particular verse) It may be worth pointing out here that Calvinists do not limit the value or the worth of the atonement. It would be sufficient to save the whole world of lost sinners, and even the whole world of damned angels, if that had been the intention of God for it. We simply see that all men are not going to be saved, conclude (as Mr Cloud seems to do above) that it was not part of God's eternal plan to save the whole world (since it hasn't happened) and therefore refuse to attribute any sense of failure to the Suffering Saviour. On this point I am in agreement 100% with Mr Cloud.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
If this verse means what it says, it refutes three of Calvin’s doctrines: that salvation is only for those sovereignly pre-elected, that God does not effectually offer salvation to all, and that the sinner cannot receive salvation.
MY COMMENT: Let's look at these three doctrines of Calvin (as Mr Cloud perceives them) which Revelation 22:17 is supposed to refute. Although again, noticeably void of any references or quotes. Mr Cloud has spoken and that ought to settle it. I think not, but that is another matter.

[i] Salvation is for the sovereignally pre-elected. Ultimately, yes. None who have not been elected by whatever way will be saved. Election, leading to salvation, is based on the sovereign choice of God. Revelation 22:17 does not contradict this in any way. The invitation is indiscriminate, experience and Scripture shows that only the elect will partake of it. Does Mr Cloud have the non elect partaking of it?

[ii] God does not effectually offer salvation to all. Calvinists certainly believe that God offers salvation to all, although it cannot be said that it is effectual i.e. that it is always taken up. It is often rejected and therefore the call may be said to be general rather than effectual. Revelation 22:17 to many people remains but a general call - sincere, grace driven, but ultimately ignored. However, to the elect, chosen in Christ out of  the mere good pleasure of God with no creature contribution at all, this call will infallibly become effectual and lead them to saving faith in Jesus Christ.  Whom God thus predestinates them He calls and He glorifies. And if He does so, then He planned to do so, and if He planned to do so, then nothing would ever stand in His way.

[iii] The sinner cannot receive salvation. It is more accurate to say that the sinner cannot receive salvation in and of himself. We quoted those inability verses above (John 6:44 etc.,) When the sinner is born again, he is born from above, not born from within. He must be born of God.

So Revelation 22:17, contrary to Mr Cloud's somewhat fanciful imagination, does not do any despite to the Doctrines of Grace as formulated by John Calvin.

“But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, WHOSOEVER believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto ALL that call upon him. For WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:8-13).
This is another passage that plainly teaches that salvation is for all and whosoever shall call. The Calvinist protests that sinners who are Totally Depraved cannot call upon the Lord and therefore only those who are sovereignly elected and called and given “the gift of faith” will call upon the Lord. This is to read one’s theology into the Scripture.

MY COMMENT: Is it? John 6:44/65 etc., clearly teach the inability of man to respond positively in and of himself to the things of God. If the Lord Jesus said that "No man can come except he be drawn by the Father" then it is not reading into the Scripture that no man can come to the Lord Jesus except he be drawn by the Father. I say that it is Mr Cloud who reads the word "can" into where the Lord Jesus says "cannot." In Mr Cloud's theology, the carnal man can indeed be subject to the law of God, because (according to his man centered doctrine) how can God command something if fallen man cannot deliver it? The Calvinist is just keeping closely by what the Scripture says. It brings us no joy or pleasure to admit these things. We condemn ourselves, for we were part of fallen humanity, sin ridden and sin serving. But we cannot lessen the truth in order to feel better. Mr Cloud above rightly condemns the modern shallow "soulwinning " of many Fundamentalist type churches. But it is Mr Cloud's own theology which fathers this kind of thing, and while he might show horror at the offspring (and such is to his credit) yet it is his doctrine which begets it nevertheless. 

DAVID CLOUD: If the Calvinist doctrines of sovereign election and the bondage of the will and sovereign calling are correct, this passage doesn’t actually mean what it says, and a blessed and glorious universal invitation of salvation to sinners is turned into something that is reserved solely for a pre-selected group of sinners.

MY COMMENT: Not so. God commands the gospel to be preached to each and every sinner, elect and reprobate alike. (The preacher cannot tell who is elect or reprobate whe he preaches.) Every sinner may say to himself; "There is mercy for me here if I will take it. If I don't take it as it is offered, then I have none to blame for myself." Mr Cloud's objections would only carry force, if Calvinists sought to limit the invitation to the elect only. However, we don't and therefore his objections,like many others in his article,  are totally groundless.
DAVID CLOUD: As for faith, this passage says that it is nigh to every sinner. Sinners can believe in their hearts upon Christ. They can confess Christ with their mouths. Though they are totally unrighteous and dead in trespasses and sins, this does not mean that they cannot believe the gospel.
MY COMMENT: It is not that faith (subjective) is nigh to every sinner, although Mr Cloud needs it to be so to bolster up his erroneous doctrine. It is the "word of faith" i.e. the message itself.  We do not have to go anywhere to get it, up to the heights or down to the depths: It is here! it is near at hand! Christ has come, finished the work, all are invited to partake of it.

“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (Jn. 12:46).

“And it shall come to pass, that WHOSOEVER shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
The Bible repeatedly says that salvation is for “whosoever” and a typical Bible-believing non-theologian would conclude from this that any and every sinner today is both invited to come to Christ and by God’s grace CAN come to Christ. To treat the “whosoever shalls” of the New Testament as Calvin did, though, is to render them of no effect. According to Calvin, “whosoever” does not really mean whosoever; it means “whosoever of the elect.” Even when Calvin claims, out of one side of his mouth (such as in his commentary on John 3:16), that he agrees that salvation is actually offered to “whosoever will,” he negates it out of the other side by claiming that it is obvious that the non-elect “will not,” so we in a practical sense are back to the “whosoever of the elect.”

MY COMMENT: So Mr Cloud did know John Calvin's comments on John 3:16 and even though they are very similar to Mr Cloud's own views, yet he still cannot abide the thought. Therefore he accuses Calvin of hypocrisy. To me that is just being plain contankerous on Mr Cloud's part. Having blasted Calvinists as being elitist, he becomes elitest himself. Mr Cloud retreats into a small corner, determined that he alone has truth, and not very anxious to share it with those who dare to disagree with him in other matters. Of course, the truth is a lot bigger than Mr Cloud. It is not his truth in that sense, but God's truth, and the people of God, of whatever school, will march on whether Mr Cloud likes it or not.

Furthermore, wherein does Calvin err if he claims that it is obvious that the non elect "will not" believe? Surely Mr Cloud believes that too? Indeed, Mr Cloud bases election on the condition that a man believes. Forseen faith = election. But if such faith is not to be foreseen i.e. a man dies a Christ rejector of whatever hue, then he is not elect at all, because he has not met the condition which God (according to Mr Cloud and his school) has put upon election. Most of the time, Mr Cloud is clear in what he is saying. You don't have to agree with him to recognise that. He comes (as we all do) from a particular school of thought within Fundamentalist Christianity and he says things which you expect from those which hold their position. But sometimes he seems to say things which even those in his school must wonder at. Here is one such statement. That Calvin is to blamed because he claims that it is obvious that the non elect will not believe when election and faith are linked together. Certainly if I belonged to the forseen faith = election school of thought, I would have to say that Calvin was right here, and wonder where Mr Cloud was coming from.

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If ANY MAN thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).
This is the same type of invitation that we have seen in many other passages. It is a “whosoever” invitation. Jesus graciously invites all sinners who recognize their need for salvation to come to Him for satisfaction. Further, the Holy Spirit has come into the world to show men their need of Christ (Jn. 16:8). The only requirement that Jesus states is that one be thirsty for the living water that only God can provide and that he come to Jesus alone for that water and not to any other. Salvation is likened to drinking water. What a simple thing that is!
MY COMMENT: I agree 100% and so does John Calvin who Mr Cloud is seeking to show us has swallowed camels. Let me quote Calvin for you on the invitation part of the verse and invite you to  view his comments without resorting to snide remarks about his sincerity: 
"Yet it is highly useful to us, that the Evangelist introduces Christ exclaiming aloud, Let all who thirst come to me. For we infer from it that the invitation was not addressed to one or two persons only, or in a low and gentle whisper, but that this doctrine is proclaimed to all, in such a manner that none may be ignorant of it, but those who, of their own accord shutting their ears, will not receive this loud and distinct cry." (Commentary on John 7:37)

“Come unto me, ALL ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
A broader invitation to salvation could not be given. Any person that labours and is heavy laden is invited to come to Jesus for rest. This is not an invitation that can somehow be limited to a select number of individuals that was sovereignly predetermined. Jesus’ compassion extends to all sinners and it is truly His heart’s desire to save all of them.
MY COMMENT: Same old nonsense again, easily refuted. Calvinists do not believe in a limited offer. That the number who take up the offer is limited is pretty obvious, at least to most Christians (of whatever school on this matter) but the offer itself is to all men. Calvin's comments here first speak of the Saviour's desire to reveal the Father to all. I quote: "Though he is ready to reveal the Father to all, yet the greater part are careless about coming to him, because they are not affected by a conviction of their necessities." I assume Mr Cloud, in one of his better days, would agree with these words. However Calvin goes on to say that the Saviour then targets (in these words) those who are weak and heavy laden (as opposed to those who do not feel their burden.) While at first glance (which will doubtless satisfy Mr Cloud) this may appear to sanction that Calvin did not believe in the free offer, we know it is not so. It is to viewed in the same way as when Christ said that He came not call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32) and used the illustration of the sick needing not the physician. It is not there was any one righteous, but that there were those who saw themselves as righteous and therefore distained the need of a Saviour. In this context, Christ said (in effect) "Well, if that is the case, then I did not come to save you, because I came to save those who know they are sinners and need to be saved." Where there is a limitation, it is because the sinner himself has limited it. It is offered to him, he doesn't want it, he misses out with only himself to blame.

“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13).
Jesus was rejected by His own people, the Jewish nation. This fact alone demonstrates that God can be rejected by men.
MY COMMENT:  Having come out of his original mindset earlier and told us on what basis Calvinists do believe that God can be rejected of men (Remember? "The Calvinist answer this by claiming that the “bondage of the will” works only one way, meaning that the unsaved can reject the truth but they cannot, on the other hand, receive the truth.") Mr Cloud again goes back to stating these things as if Calvinists did not believe them. It is actions like this that induced me, a while back, to produce an article entitled "HOW RELIABLE IS DAVID CLOUD IN HIS EXAMINATION OF CALVINISM?" [Will be posted and linked to soon] I had no pleasure in writing it and I was not motivated by any dislike for Mr Cloud. I never once criticised his non belief of Calvinist doctrines, because that wasn't the issue. If he was consistent with criticising what Calvinists do believe (as opposed to what he thinks we believe) and did not generally get on the way often does, then I would not have written the article at all.
DAVID CLOUD: But as many as receive Jesus by believing on His name are given power to become the sons of God. No limitation is given. Salvation is a matter of “AS MANY AS” and “WHOSOEVER.” Notice that faith precedes and is the cause of becoming a son of God.
MY COMMENT: True, Mr Cloud. We all agree with you here, including Calvin whom you cannot bring your self to quote on the verse, because you have accused him of swallowing camels and you are both eating of the same plate. Calvin said: 
"12. But to as many as received him. That none may be retarded by this stumbling-block, that the Jews despised and rejected Christ, the Evangelist exalts above heaven the godly who believe in him; for he says that by faith they obtain this glory of being reckoned the sons of God." (Commentary on John 1:12 )

DAVID CLOUD: It is not that men are born again to faith, as Calvin taught, but that through faith men are born again. Note, too, that receiving Christ by believing on Him cannot be defined as “the will of man.” The Calvinist argues that if the sinner could believe on Christ it would mean that salvation is of the will of man, but this passage refutes such human logic.
Two things here.
[i] Mr Cloud does not back up his claims with any quotes. I don't know if there is a school of thought out there that boasts, "David Cloud says it, I believe it and that settles it" but if there is, I am not a pupil in it. We need direct quotes, Mr Cloud, so that we see if you are telling the truth. I would not like to accuse you of lying, for I would need absolute proof before I would charge any one with that - or talking out of both sides of your mouth, for again this is a serious charge - but it may be that you could be mistaken. While the latter is certainly less culpable, yet it is of no use to anyone of us to reproduce your errors.
[ii] As said before, Calvinists are divided over whether regeneration precedes faith or accompanies faith. I think it was Bob Ross who sent out a whole pile of emails on this matter last year. However we do reject the notion that men are born again through faith. This is akin to man regenerating himself, whether Mr Cloud wants to admit it or not.
DAVID CLOUD: We are told plainly in John 1:13 that the new birth is not “of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,” but are told just as plainly that the new birth is by receiving Christ through faith in the previous verses. What verse 13 means is that the new birth is not a product of the human will. Man cannot work up the new birth; he cannot will it to happen. It is a miracle of grace that Christ works in the life of the sinner that believes.
MY COMMENT: I disagree with you Mr Cloud.  If the sinner has power in himself to believe, then he does not need the new birth. He is not altogether lost, blind, deaf or any of those many ways the Bible denotes his doomed position. But even though we disagree on this matter, we both agree that the sinner is to be summsoned  to faith in Jesus Christ. We both believe in preaching repentance in an indiscriminate fashion to every last sinner we meet. So even if disagree on the place where faith is placed, it does not lead to us neglecting to hold it forth as a condition of salvation.

 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).
If only the elect can be saved, why does God command that the gospel of “whosoever will” salvation be preached to every sinner?
MY COMMENT: A good honest question, void of any misrepresentation or false charges, and worthy of a critic of Calvinism. A simple answer is that through such preaching , God will be glorified, the elect will be gathered in and the non elect (who, remember, were justly left to perish in their chosen sins) may be left without any excuse. A good question, we might ask here, is: "Why are many called, if few are chosen?" (Matthew  22:14) It doesn't make sense if you follow Mr Cloud's theology, but it makes sense if you keep to the Scriptures of truth.

DAVID CLOUD: Is God mocking the non-elect by proclaiming to them that He gave His only begotten Son that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish” and that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but that he that believeth not shall be damned”?
MY COMMENT: Another simple answer is "No. " The offer is sincere and therefore the refusing of this offer is all the more sinful and inexcusable.

DAVID CLOUD: Some Calvinists divide themselves into two broad categories called “hyper” and “non-hyper” (though the “hyper” do not admit to being hyper but profess themselves to be the genuine Calvinists).

It is interesting here that Mr Cloud does acknowledge the difference between hypers and "non hypers" because I criticised him for years for refusing to do so. A while ago, he did make deign to introduce the word "Hyper" himself in relation to Calvinism and it is pleasing to see that he expands a little upon it below, which is another step forward.  Mr Cloud uses the term "Hyper" in regards to some Dispensationists  because he is keen to  put as much as ground as he can between them and him. This means  if we were to criticise EW Bullinger or other dispensationalists of that branch, then we are not to think Mr Cloud is guilty of some of their errors. Likewise, when Mr Cloud criticises Hyper Calvinists (assuming that he identifies them as such) true Calvinists will readily agree with him. And I assume Mr Cloud wants Calvinists to agree with him.

DAVID CLOUD: The non-hyper-Calvinist claims that God does truly love all men and that the “all” of John 3:16 is truly “all,” which sounds encouraging except that out of the other side of the mouth he says that God only saves the elect and that there is no possibility for the non-elect to be saved and that God’s “love” for the non-elect is admittedly different from His love for the elect.
MY COMMENT: [i] That God will save only His elect (no matter how we view their election) is the common faith of all Fundamental Christians. If he saves the non elect as well, who did not have faith (hence they are non elect) then everyone is going to be in Heaven. So far from speaking out of the side of our mouths, as Mr Cloud now charges us all, we say it very clearly.
[ii] That there is no possibility of the non elect being saved follows on from the reality that the elect and they alone will be saved. Again, this is the logical outcome of God only saving His elect. It does not matter here whether faith causes election (Mr Cloud's position) or flows from election (Calvinist position) - only the elect will be saved and the others (because they ultimately love their sins rather than Christ) will be lost.
[iii] That God loves His elect with a different love from the non elect is also clear from Scripture. It is clear from the anology that husbands are to love their wives with the love that Christ had for His church (Ephesians 5:25) This is a singular love. I love many women! I love some as fellow human beings, some as fellow citizens, some as friends, some as fellow Christians...but I love my wife with a deeper, unique love again.
Some professing Calvinists do not hold that God has any love for the non elect. AW  Pink seemed to flirt with idea at one time, arguing that the rich young ruler must have been saved later on, because it says "The Lord loved him." I do not run with this idea. (I hope, incidentaly, that the rich young ruler was saved later on) I believe that God has a general love for the non elect which is kindly and benevolent in nature, (Psalm 145:9/Matthew 5:45) and which matches His desire for their salvation. However, it cannot be said that God followed through this love or extended it to include their salvation, which is evidenced by the common evangelical fact that the non elect will be saved.

DAVID CLOUD:Surely the non-elect, hearing such an argument, would be forced to say, “What kind of strange love is this? Is God mocking me? Is God playing with me as a cat with a mouse? The Bible promises that “whosoever will should not perish, but the Calvinist tells me that only if I am of the elect will I be sovereignly regenerated and given “the gift of faith” and if I am not of the elect I am so dead in my trespasses and sins that there is nothing I can do to be saved, that I cannot even believe on Christ, and that any illumination that God gives me is not effective for salvation. What love is this?” Of course, the Calvinist will instantly reply, “Who art thou that repliest against God! God is God and He can do as He pretty well pleases.”

MY COMMENT: [i] The non-elect (whom, remember, we do not know until they die without faith in Christ) will bring up many excuses why he won't be saved. Excuses are not difficult to find, but reasons are impossible. A man who perishes ultimately decides to perish, because he wanted his sin rather than Christ.
[ii] I would not reply to a sinner and nor would any seasoned Calvinist evangelist (and history is full of them) "Who are thou that repliest against God. etc.?" At least, not immediately. I would first assure him that the offer is a genuine offer. It is indiscriminate. Even if I did know by some means or other that he was among the non elect, I would still offer him salvation in Jesus Christ, because my guiding star in this matter, is not the decree of God, but the revealed word of God. The promises are not to preached to the elect only, but to all men and given on the condition on the condition that they believe. If he will not come, then I would tell him that he falls only by transgression (Acts 1:25) and that he perishes only in his own corruption (2 Peter 2:15) and that he is a sinner against his own soul (Numbers 16:38)  Read the sermons of Whitefield or Spurgeon - or Calvin for that matter, and see how they dealt with the objections which sinners bring . They weren't taking any nonsense from sinners!

DAVID CLOUD: Of course He can do as He pleases, but this issue of whether God genuinely wants all men to be saved and whether it is possible for them to be saved has the most serious and eternal consequences, and to ask the question as to what constitutes God’s love is neither unreasonable nor unscriptural.
MY COMMENT: We agree 100% with you Mr Cloud. I must quote AW Pink here, because Mr Cloud (where he does bring himself to quote a Calvinist) has used him more than anyone else. What would Pink do in a condemned cell, facing one solitary wicked sinner with the gospel? Pink is a Calvinist of Calvinists. At times, he bordered on the hyper side. But he is now in a condemned cell with an open Bible and openly witnessing a wicked sinner who needs to be saved. Pink tells him:
"The gospel is as free as the air, and I Timothy 1:15 gives us full warrant to tell a murderer in the condemned cell that there is a Saviour for him if he will receive him…The ground on which any sinner is invited and commanded to believe is neither God's election, not Christ's substitution, but his particular need of responding to the free offer of the gospel. The gospel is that Christ died for sinners (not "elect sinners") and is addressed to their responsibility." (Letter to William Naismith 1949 Quoted by Iain Murray in the Life of Arthur Pink BOT p.195)

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
Why does the Lord wait to establish His kingdom; why has Christ not returned? This verse teaches us that God is waiting for men to be saved, because it is not His sovereign will that any should perish. Since many will perish and since all will not come to repentance, as we know from other Scriptures, then it is obvious that God’s will can be resisted and thwarted and rejected by man. It is obvious that the sovereign God created man in such a way that this could be possible, but of course this does not mean that God has ceased to be God. It is Calvinism that defines divine sovereignty as irresistibility. The Bible upholds no such definition.
MY COMMENT: It is so obvious Mr Cloud that God's preceptive will can be resisted, thrawted and rejected by men, that Calvinists believe it too. Mr Cloud used to believe that Calvinists believed it, because he actually came out and said so, although it must be observed that he retreated back into his apparent ignorance of this basic fact once again. However, if God's sovereign decree can be thrawted by wicked men, then (by definition) the sovereignty (at least on this matter) has moved from God to those who deny Him His sovereign will. It really does become, if we listen to Mr Cloud, "God in the hands of Angry sinners." Maybe Mr Cloud would like to tell us if God is frustrated by all this thrawting of His sovereign will?
Does He exude great sighs of frustration and despair when his decrees come back unfulfilled and (because man has the last word) in some cases unfillable?  Had Nebuchadnezzer swallowed one of Calvin's camels (Please forgive the obvious chronological problems here) when he said of God that "None can stay His hand nor say unto Him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35) Or was Solomon's wisdom but of the Satanic kind that overthrows the simplicity of Christ when he said; "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD."? (Proverbs 21:30)  or again when he said,   There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand. (Proverbs 19:21) Mr Cloud's theology here does not read as the Bible reads. Mr Cloud's theology would have us read the latter verse something like this: "The Lord has His counsel, neverthless there are many devices in a man's heart and they shall stand." Wicked man thinks he is in control. Mr Cloud's theology believes that he is and encourages him to believe that he is. That is why in those "seeker friendly" services which both Mr Cloud and Calvinists abominate, the whole idea is to woo the sinner to let God have His way. The sinner takes on the role of the Senior Director. God is left hoping for a result, having handcuffed Himself and letting man make the big decisions. This may be a blunt way of putting it, but that's the way it is if you take Mr Cloud's theology to its obvious conclusion. God has a good plan ...the best plan really...but He must put it on hold because He has decided to let sinful man decide when His frustration is over. And even then, He doesn't get everything He decreed because some are lost forever in hell.

DAVID CLOUD: The Calvinist interprets this verse to mean that God is not willing that any of the elect perish. Arthur Pink says, ‘The ‘any’ that God is not willing should perish, are the ‘usward’ to whom God is ‘longsuffering’, the ‘beloved’ of the previous verses” (The Sovereignty of God, p. 207).
MY COMMENT: Again Calvinists disagree on this verse. In Pink's favour, he is putting it all in context, observing that 2 Peter is written first and foremost to the people of God. Other Calvinists, including Calvin widen out the interpretation to include all men. Let me quote Calvin (something really which Mr Cloud should be doing since it is John Calvin whom he mentions in the title and opening paragraph.) Calvin says on this verse: (Emphasis mine)

DAVID CLOUD:Not willing that any should perish. So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost. But the order is to be noticed, that God is ready to receive all to repentance, so that none may perish; for in these words the way and manner of obtaining salvation is pointed out. Every one of us, therefore, who is desirous of salvation, must learn to enter in by this way. But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish? To this my answer is, that no mention is here made of the hidden purpose of God, according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world.

MY COMMENT: The issue swings on the meaning of the word "willeth". If it expresses a generally, benevolent love which falls short of actually electing and saving, then the "all" may indeed be "all without exception." On the other hand, if it is "willeth" with the force of a decree where God wills and gets what He wills, then it cannot be "all without exception" because "all without exception" would be saved, and we know this is not the case. Pink is taking it one way, Calvin another but both preserving the doctrine of God's sovereignty which does not allow for a frustrated, hamstrung God.

DAVID CLOUD: Our reply to this is, first of all, if this were the only verse that said that God is not willing that any should perish, we would be able to accept the Calvinist interpretation, but it is not. Isa. 45:22 and Matt. 11:28 and John 3:16 and John 6:40 and Rom. 11:23 and 1 Tim. 1:15-16 and 1 Tim. 2:3-4 and Rev. 22:17 are just some of the Scriptures that say that God wants to save all men. Thus it is reasonable and Scriptural to believe that the “usward” in 2 Pet. 3:9 is mankind in general as opposed to “the elect” only.
MY COMMENT: True, but only if we observe the pretty obvious differences between what God says He wills and what He wills with the force of a decree.  Mr Cloud himself above makes the right noises by saying: "Man can thwart God’s will -- not ultimately as far as His eternal plan goes, but in many ways and in many times." All Calvinists are saying is God's eternal plan covers the ingathering of His elect and this cannot be thrawted. His preceptive will can be resisted and is in many ways and in many times - where many are called and do not come - but His decretive will can never be thrawted.

DAVID CLOUD: Further, if 2 Peter 3:9 means merely that God is not willing that any of the elect should perish it uses strange language in light of the Calvinist doctrines of sovereign election and irresistible calling. To say that God is not willing that any should perish is to assume that some can perish.
MY COMMENT: It is not strange language  at all, even if we take the narrower line that only the elect are intended in the "us-ward"and the "all". Since men are elected out a mass of lost, sinful, guilty humanity, then we would perish ( for such is the wage of sin) if God had not been willing otherwise. If such logic sounds strange to the ears of Mr Cloud, then we get an insight how lopsided Mr Cloud's man centered, man elevating doctrine really is.

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4).
What does this verse mean? There is no reason to believe that it means anything other than exactly what it says. It is God’s sovereign will and desire that all men be saved. Obviously, then, God’s will is not always done and God has ordained that man can thwart His will, because it is clear from other Scriptures that not all men will be saved. Of course, the Calvinist has all sorts of means by which he reasons away the clear teaching of 2 Pet. 3:9 and 1 Tim. 2:3-4, but only a committed Calvinist would interpret Scripture in such a manner. For example, some Calvinists claim that God has two types of wills, “desiderative and decretive.” Though He does desire all men to be saved, He has only decreed that the elect be saved. Thus, when 2 Pet. 3:9 and 1 Tim. 2:3-4 say that God is not willing that any should perish and that He will have all men to be saved, this is merely His “desiderative” will, whereas only those elect sinners who fall under the category of His “decretive” will can actually be saved because they are the only ones who are sovereignly regenerated and given the “gift of faith.” When I called told one Calvinist professor that this is mere “mumbo jumbo,” he was very offended, but I don’t see what else it can rightly be called. Of course, this stalwart attempt to reconcile 1 Tim. 3:3-4 and 2 Pet. 3:9 with Calvinism actually creates more problems than it solves, because it admits that God’s desiderative will is not accomplished. Thus, God’s will can indeed be thwarted by man--not His decretive will, mind you, but His desiderative will--which would mean that God has a will that is not sovereign.
MY COMMENT: Apart from the mere mumbo-jumbo jibe (and that to someone who was probably sincere in seeking to come to an understanding of the deep things of God) the two types of will in God makes perfect sense. Above Mr Cloud accuses those of hold to these things as employing man made logic, but now accuses us of employing mere mumbo-jumbo. It is as if he can't make up his mind on what front to attack us, so he goes for both. We see on one hand that God declares that something should not be (e.g. "Thou shalt not kill") and yet there are people killed every day. On the other hand, we observe that there is no wisdom, or counsel against the Lord (Proverbs 21:30) and though there are many devices in a man's heart, yet God's counsel shall stand. (Psalm 19: 21) Whereas Calvinists suggest a logical answer, something to which Mr Cloud responds with a cheap remark, the same Mr Cloud presents to us a frustrated, hamstrung Being, who pretends to be sovereign, but in reality is not. Anyone can resist His decretive will . He passes decrees but nothing happens. In fact, the very opposite happens. He decreed that Judas would be in Heaven with Christ, but alas! Judas went to hell instead. He tried it on Herod and any other reprobate you might care to name, but it all ended in sheer failure. He decreed that I would saved, but hey! ultimately it was MY decision. I gave God my permission for Him to save me. I told Him that He could not speak to me, until I cared to listen. As Robert Dabney pointed out long ago (Forgive me Mr Cloud for quoting a past giant of the faith, but I believe we can learn from these men) concerning the distinctions in the precptive and decretive will of God 
"Although this distinction is beset with plausible quibbles, yet every man is impelled to make it; for otherwise, either alternative is odious and absurd. Say that God has no secret decretive will, and He wishes just what He commands and nothing more, and we represent Him as a Being whose desires are perpetually crossed and baffled: yea, trampled on ; the most harassed, embarrassed, and impotent Being in the universe." (Systematic Theology p. 161) 
Mr Cloud might be happy portraying the God of the Bible in such a light. I am not, because I feel sorry for Him, and that can't be right.

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (1 Tim. 1:15-16).
Calvinism can be read into this passage, as it can be read into any passage (so that “sinners” can become the elect only), but if we take the words of these verses at face value they mean that Jesus came to save sinners in general as opposed to just a pre-selected group and that God’s salvation of Paul, the chief of sinners, is an encouragement to any sinner to come to Him for salvation. Any sinner can find encouragement from this passage that he can believe on Christ for salvation, because if God would save Paul He will save anyone.
MY COMMENT: Both schools narrow the salvation. Did Christ come to save all sinners regardless of whether they sought Him for salvation? If so, we have Universalism and both Mr Cloud (presumably) and ourselves want to avoid that. So we narrow down the experience of salvation to those who actually accept the faithful saying i.e. exercise faith in Christ. All Calvinism does is point out that only the elect ones will ultimately exercise that saving faith. Indeed (as before) how the elect become elect here still does not enter into it. Only the elect will ultimately choose to come and the non elect will ultimately choose to stay away. Why Mr Cloud should argue with that actaully pits him against the evangelical interpretation as a whole and not the Calvinist side of it in particular. If I was looking to Mr Cloud to be my great champion against Calvinism, then I would be very worried at some of his remarks.

Furthermore, this verse actually disputes Mr Cloud's position, because Christ Jesus did not come into the world merely to make salvation possible. As we will see below, much of Mr Cloud's exegesis of Scripture is faulty because it reduces the definite statements of God's words to be mere possibilities. Salvation here, according to Mr Cloud, may or may not happen. Perhaps in cheerier times, it may attain to being a probability for some kind of unsure reason, but definately no more than that. Certainly God is not in the driving seat if it does. He is left standing outside the door while some bankrupt sinner decides what to do with Him. No one's salvation is certain because that would infringe on the sovereign rights of man. Again, this is far removed from the definate language of the NT.

“For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32).
If the “all” of the first half of this verse means all men, as it obviously does, then it is impossible to interpret the latter half of the verse in any other sense. The same God who has concluded all men in unbelief desires to have mercy upon all men through Jesus Christ. That is His sovereign and express will.
MY COMMENT: But if it is as sovereign and express (and as definate) as the words employed say that it is, then it is more than merely desiring to have mercy upon all.  The "might" here is not the "might" of a "perhaps". It is the might that is definate. The same greek construction is used in Luke 19:23 where the certain nobleman "might" have gotten interest if the money had've been invested in the bank. There is no doubt that the interest would have been paid, hence the seriousness of the crime. If it were not definite, then putting it in the ground at least kept it safe. But again Mr Cloud's theology demands that he reduces these definite statements into low key possibilities.

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2).
This passage is addressed to “my little children” and those who “have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1). Obviously it is addressed, then, to the saved or to those who elsewhere are called “the elect” (Col. 2:12; 2 Tim. 2:10).
MY COMMENT: If I remember right, this is the exact same hermenautical principal which Pink used in 2 Peter 3:9 (and with which, we find no fault.)
DAVID CLOUD: Therefore, when 1 John 2:2 says Christ “is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” the Bible is obviously and plainly stating that Christ did not die to make satisfaction for the sins of the elect only. The “whole world” means the whole world!
MY COMMENT: The 'whole world' in Scripture is often taken to be the Gentiles as opposed to the Jews. Those of Mr Cloud's school seem to be ignorant of the fact that the term "world" does not necessarily mean every last sinner ever born. They see the word "world", and their eyes light up and they steam roller on regardless. It doesn't mean it in Luke 2:1 where the term is actually extended out to "all the world", nor does it mean it in John 12:19 ("The whole world,is gone after him") where it is explained by the next verse which tells us that certain Greeks (Gentiles) came seeking him. The propitiation of death is universal in the sense that it is not confined to Jews alone ("us only" as Jewish John puts it) but "the whole world" i.e. Jew and Gentile alike.

“Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:6).
The “all” must be defined in context, and in the context it refers to all men. See 1 Tim. 2:3-5 -- “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
That Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all men demonstrates clearly that His atonement was not limited to the elect and that all men can be saved.
MY COMMENT: [i] There is nothing in the context which demands it to refer to "all men" (by which I assume Mr Cloud means all men without exception.)
[ii] It may be argued that the "all men" refers to "all kinds of men" because we are being asked to pray and give thanks etc., "for all men" in v1 and that is something which we cannot do, if it should refer to every man ever born. How can I give thanks for Adolf Hitler and pray for him? So the context actually militates against this view. For Mr Cloud to say otherwise is just letting the hope father the thought.

[iii] Again this is a definite text. This isn't talking about a mere potential ransom, but an actual ransom, signed, sealed, settled and delivered. All for whom it was offered are actually ransomed. Their debt is actually, fully and finally paid. The law cannot touch them. The jailor cannot keep them in prison any longer.  All for whom it was offered are called the "Redeemed of the Lord" and they shall (another definite statement, void of any uncertainty) return with everlasting joy upon their heads  and all sorrow and mourning shall flee away etc., (Isaiah 51:11)  Now, if this refers to all men without exception, then all men without exception will be in Heaven.  But we know they won't. They won't because there was no ransom to be found for their sins , and therefore they must bear those sins themselves alone for all eternity.

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
These verses encapsulate the doctrine of atonement as it relates to the world. In verse 18 we see that believers are reconciled to God by Jesus Christ, but in verse 19 we see that God intends for the reconciliation process to extend to the entire world. The fact that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” is an obvious teaching of Scripture, but it does not mean, as the Calvinist argues, that all men are automatically saved. (Arthur Pink in The Sovereignty of God, p. 62, argues from human logic after this fashion: “If it was offered for all mankind then the debt incurred by every man has been cancelled.”). The universality of Christ’s atonement does not mean that all men are automatically saved but that all men CAN be saved because the work of Christ on the cross is sufficient to save them, but they must receive the word of reconciliation, which, of course, is the gospel. We see in this passage also that the believers are God’s instruments for preaching the “word of reconciliation” to the world. When one sinner believers on Christ he, in turn, is to preach the gospel of reconciliation to others. Since the gospel is to be preached to every person and God is not willing that any should perish, it is obvious that every person has the possibility to be saved through believing it (Mk. 16:15-16; 2 Pet. 3:9).
[i] Mr Cloud may deny that his doctrine of universal atonement would automatically lead to universal salvation, but he is being inconsistent when he does. He has an atonement which atones but it doesn't atone. He has a debt paid, but still outstanding. He has sins carried away, washed away, put away, blotted out on the Cross, but still present, still staining, still remaining and still on view all at one and the same time.  It doesn't add up, either by anyone's logic (and remember, there is nothing illogical about the gospel) or by the Scripture.
[ii] Calvinists do not limit the worth of the atonement (as said before) but we judge the intention from the result, disallow the thought of a God whose chief attribute seems to be large scale failure, and say that  the intention of the atonement  was limited  to those who sins are actually forgiven.
[iii] The ministry of reconciliation is exercised because God uses means to achieve His ends i.e. His own glory in the certain ingathering of His elect.

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet. 2:1).
If the Lord bought these unsaved false teachers, and the Bible plainly says that He did, then the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement falls to the ground.

MY COMMENT:  The ones who were bought with his blood were not the false teachers, but the redeemed people among whom they worked. If it is to be objected that the "them" must refer to the last named group, then apply your logic to 2 Corinthians 5:21 anidentify who it is who 'knew no sin."

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).
Again, it is clear in this Scripture that Jesus died to make atonement for every man and not just for the elect.
MY COMMENT: Like the word "world" and "all" Mr Cloud rushes in and insists that it must mean every last single individual ever born. Yet the simple use of the concordance shows that this is not so. It is not so, for instance, in Luke 16:16 where every man presses into the Kingdom of God when it is preached. The limit mentioned within the verse is that the Kingdom of God has been preached since John, but beyond that "every man" is the term used. If every man, and not just the elect, press into the Kingdom of God, then they are in the Kingdom of God and we must conclude that then that Hell is populated only by people who lived prior to John the Baptist and that every single individual since, including Hitler and Judas are there. Of course, this is nonsense, but if we follow Mr Cloud's principles, then this is where we end up. Every man in Hebrews 2:9 is explained by the "many sons" of v10 which God will (definite langauge) bring to glory i.e. those given to Him by the Father i.e. the elect.

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (1 Pet. 1:2).
The standard Calvinist position on foreknowledge is basically to do away with it by making it the same as fore will, doing away completely with the possibility that God’s election could have anything to do with what He foresees. But the word that Peter uses for “foreknowledge” is a word that means simply that God foreknew what would happen.
MY COMMENT: God only knows what will happen, because it is certain to happen. If God elected me beccause he foresaw that on a certain day I would respond positively to the gospel, then I was going to be in Heaven whether God elected me or not.

It is the Greek word “prognosis,” which is a word still used commonly in English. When a doctor gives the prognosis of a disease, he describes the normal progression of the disease. He basically is able to tell the future because he knows beforehand what will happen. The doctrine of “foreknowledge,” if not redefined by Calvinism, goes a long way, though not all of the way, toward explaining the mystery of how God could elect but man could choose. There is more to election than foreknowledge, but the fact remains that God’s Word teaches us that foreknowledge is involved and it cannot be redefined to mean “foreordination.”In his attempt to redefine “foreknowledge” and to mold it into “foreordination,” the Calvinist uses Acts 2:23, which says that Jesus was crucified “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” The Calvinist claims that determinate counsel and foreknowledge is the same thing, but it is evident that these are, in fact, two different things. The Calvinist points out that “determinate counsel” precedes “foreknowledge,” but what he fails to observe is the “and.” Acts 2:23 does not say that Jesus was crucified “by the determinate counsel which is the foreknowledge of God”; it says that Jesus was crucified “by the determinate counsel AND foreknowledge of God.” That God elects according to His foreknowledge does not mean that He elects solely according to His determinate counsel, and this fact does not make God any less God.
MY COMMENT: The all important "and" which Mr Cloud draws attnetion to is the greek word "kai" which may be and often is translated by the word "even" in our AV.  The "know" of knowledge does not always refer to cold information, but to a deep, intimate relationship. I was foreloved by God (from all eternity) and in His determinate counsel, He foreordained that I would be saved. My faith and repentance flows from His decision to save me. Far from being the basis and condition and the deciding factor of my election, it is the fruit of it. Therefore I have nothing to glory in myself, but the sheer mercy and grace of God that could have left me to perish in my sin, but chose rather to pluck me as a brand from the burning.

“Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have” (Lk. 8:18).
Jesus put the responsibility for hearing His Word upon the shoulders of His listeners. If they would hear and make the effort to seek God and understand, they would be given more. If they would not, they would be judged. There is no sovereign election here.
MY COMMENT: Since Calvinists believe 100%  in man's responsibility, then we are quite happy with the thought that men should take heed how they hear. Man is not to be passive in this matter. As seen, pressing into the Kingdom is a vital matter and we exhort all to seek the Lord etc.,

“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).
He did not say they could not come because of their “total depravity”; He said they would not come. It was a matter of their own wills.
MY COMMENT: But He did use the word "cannot come" twice in John 6 (v44/65) and this is because of their total depravity, which extends to their wills. They are not passive prisoners in their total depravity, but active, willing participants and therefore both phrases are equally valid. Mr Cloud seems to be denying the "cannot" because he insists that they can. If it is a choice between Mr Cloud's theology and Christ's theology, then I must opt for Christ's.

DAVID CLOUD:  He did not say they were not sovereignly elected or that they were foreordained to condemnation. He rebuked them because they were given light and had rejected it. This verse and countless others teaches that the sinner has a will that he can exercise contrary to God, that God’s will is not “sovereign” in the sense that it cannot be opposed.
It is true that Christ does not say it here in this passage, which makes Mr Cloud's argument to be decidedly weak. He rebuked them indeed because they had light and had rejected it. Again Mr Calvin with his supposed camel fare agrees 100%. I quote: (Emphasis mine)

I have spent a pretty long time answering Mr Cloud in these objections. It seems to me that he is a man simply spoiling for a useless fight. It seems that he cannot abide the thought that there might be some common ground between him and John Calvin even on these verses where the ground is so common indeed. I must confess, but I do wonder at this type of mentality. How can Mr Cloud recommend any Calvinistic commentaries, as he does on his website? OK, he puts a disclaimer in against  their Calvinism, which is at least understandable seeing he does not agree with it, but if he cannot accept common ground but must seek to introduce the divisions, then it would seem to me that he would be better of not consulting them at all. When I read non Calvinist comments as I do, even those of Mr Cloud if and when I consult his site for some matter, I do not read them waiting to pounce for something which betrays where Mr Cloud and I disagree. I am happy to find agreement with Mr Cloud. I have said so in the comments above, and I have only used his comments against himself when I discerned an inconsistency. What a great place Heaven must be when we can hang our trumpets in the hall and study war no more.

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:11-15).
The Parable of the Sower teaches us that faith is something that sinners can exercise and that the difference between men’s hearts and response to the gospel is not that of sovereign election but is a matter of their own wills. The Lord Jesus tells us that the Word of God falls upon four different types of human hearts. All men are sinners, but all sinners do not respond to the Word of God in the same manner.

MY COMMENT: This is entirely in keeping with Mr Cloud's notion that man made the first choice and God endorsed it. Calvinists believe that God made the first choice and those so chosen will respond accordingly. Election precedes faith and repentance; it is the fruit and not the cause of election. We agree entirely with the last sentence: All men are sinners, but all sinners do not respond to the Word of God in the same manner.

The first type of sinner hears the Word of God but the devil comes and takes it out of the heart “lest they should believe and be saved.” This is explained in Matt. 13:19 -- 
“When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, AND UNDERSTANDETH IT NOT, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.” The reason why the first type of person does not believe is because he doesn’t make the effort to understand the gospel and thus the devil is able to snatch the Word of God away. This happens on every hand. The gospel is preached to sinners indiscriminately and many of them take no notice of it and have no interest even in hearing more about Jesus Christ. They are not interested enough even to read a gospel pamphlet or to attend a gospel service or an evangelistic Bible study. Thus the devil comes “immediately and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts” (Mk. 4:15).
MY COMMENT: 100% right Mr Cloud.

DAVID CLOUD:  The second type of sinner hears the Word of God with joy but falls away “in time of temptation” because the Word of God was not received deeply into the heart and life and therefore is easily plucked out. Many sinners fall into this category. They express interest in the gospel; they want to learn more; they are excited about the things of Jesus Christ. But their understanding and “faith” is shallow. They don’t make the effort to come to full and proper understanding of the gospel and they are not truly regenerated and soon they fall away because of trouble that they experience from friends and relatives or they become offended at something they do not agree with. Again, this is not said to be the result of sovereign reprobation but is something that is the responsibility of the sinner himself.

MY COMMENT: Again, we agree 100% Mr Cloud. The sinner damns himself. He is always the cause of his own damnation.

DAVID CLOUD:  The third type of sinner hears the Word of God but it is chocked out of his heart and life by the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life.” Mark’s Gospel adds it is “the lusts of other things entering in” that choke the word so that it is unfruitful (Mk. 4:23). This happens often when the gospel is preached. Many sinners who show an interest in the gospel and who attend church services and even profess faith in Christ fall away because they are not serious enough about spiritual matters and they allow many other things to choke the Word of God out of their hearts and lives. Again, there is not even a hint here that this is the product of sovereign reprobation. It is said to be something that occurs because of the sinner’s own response and actions to the gospel.
MY COMMENT: Yes. We agree again.

The fourth type of sinner hears the Word of God and believes it and keeps it and brings forth fruit with patience. This is the only one of the four types of sinners that truly gets saved.
MY COMMENT: Is that it? What made this star to differ from another in glory? What made the publican cry out "God be merciful to me a sinner?" while the Pharisee boasted of hs good works? It could as easily have been the Pharisee who stood at the back a broken man, while the publican congratulated hismelf for not robbing men as much as he could etc.,  The answer is grace. Pure, sovereign, saving grace which comes entirely 100% from the Lord.

“When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Luke 7:9).
Calvinism claims that faith is given to men sovereignly by God as part of the package of sovereign grace in sovereign election. Apparently the Lord Jesus did not hold to this doctrine, because He marvelled at the centurion’s faith and commended this faith to the Jews. If faith is the gift of God, what is there to marvel at? Why would Jesus praise the man’s “great faith” if it were merely something that God had sovereignly given him?
MY COMMENT: Whatever we look at it, why would Jesus marvel, since being God, He knew that such faith was forthcoming? It should be noted that while Calvinists (and many non Calvinists too by the way, but apparently not Mr Cloud) believe that faith is the gift of God - it is attributed to grace in Acts 18:27 - yet it is not God who believes but the sinner to whom He sovereignly grants faith.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

This verse teaches that, contrary to Calvinism, faith is not a work. Faith is the means whereby the sinner receives the free gift of salvation that was purchased for him by Christ. Faith is the “hand which reaches out to accept God’s gift.” Contrary to Calvinist reasoning, to accept a gift is not a work and is nothing to glory in. A gift is 100% from the one who purchases and offers it. The recipient has nothing to glory in by receiving it.
MY COMMENT: The reason why Calvinists sometimes charge non Calvinists with making faith a work is that Calvinists believe that faith is the channel by which salvation comes to us. Since non Calvinists, like Mr Cloud, make election to be conditioned on foreseen faith, it then becomes a contributing factor to salvation.His objection in Luke 7:9 just immediately above shows that Mr Cloud does not have faith coming from God at all. By strong implication, faith is something which my heart can produce and cultivate and along with God's grace, it saves my soul. I  must say I was greatly   surprised to see Mr Cloud deny that faith is the gift of God, and it reminds me of what happens when we consistently oppose the truth of sovereign grace.

“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:10-12).
These sinners who follow the antichrist will be damned but not because they are not sovereignly elected and not because they are sovereignly reprobate but because of their personal decision in regard to the truth. They could receive the truth and be saved but they reject it. Words could not be plainer.
MY COMMENT: Again Mr Cloud is crediting the damned with their own damnation and with this Calvinists agree 100% Even Mr Calvin, whom Mr Cloud, thinks he is refuting agrees with him. For to quote his commentary on this passage, he says (emphasis mine)
"Because they received not the love. Lest the wicked should complain that they perish innocently, and that they have been appointed to death rather from cruelty on the part of God, than from any fault on their part, Paul shews on what good grounds it is that so severe vengeance from God is to come upon them--because they have not received in the temper of mind with which they ought the truth which was presented to them, nay more, of their own accord refused salvation."

Let me let you into a secret here. I typed this rebuttal as I go along. Because I obviously have the opportunity to delete what I have typed, and none of you would be any the wiser, I type in words like the above, "Even Mr Calvin, whom Mr Cloud, thinks he is refuting agrees with him. For to quote..." I do this because I am so sure that Calvin will take the line that any Bible Christian will take in many of Mr Cloud's so called objections. Mr Cloud only thinks he is refuting Calvinism. He has Calvin swallowing camels until they must be coming out his ears, but when we look at what Calvin actually says (supplied by the way by me, not his accuser) we find that Calvin isn't the great bugbear Mr Cloud tries to present him as. I have taken this matter very seriously. I have taken the time and patience to work my way point by point through Mr Cloud's statements. I have resisted the carnal desires I get from time to time to be overly smart in my replies or even say something nasty. But I really do think Mr Cloud is scrambling about in the dust looking for some stones to throw at Calvin and Calvinists.

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:10).
Regardless of whether this verse is interpreted as applying to the saved or to the almost saved, the question for the Calvinist is, “How can sovereign calling and election be made sure by man?” Calvinism teaches that election for salvation is determined solely by God and that He imparts it irresistibly to the sinner through sovereign regeneration and “the gift of faith.” What, then, does this verse mean?
MY COMMENT: Since election (which ever we look at it) is rooted in the past, even from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) then it cannot be made sure at all, at least not towards God. Evidently, it's reality is to be made sure to the elect sinner himself. By knowing that I am elect, and (for me as a Calvinist) to believe that God did it, solely in Christ and solely on the basis of  His grace, will strengthen me no end. Indeed I will not fall, as the text itself assures me. How do I know I am elect? Not because I have a secret glimpse into the Lamb's Book of Life, but because I was called by God, to salvation. The fact I came and was accepted by God is evidence of the call. If I have no call, which means an effectual call, then I have no assurance that I am among the elect at all. I cannot therefore say that I am saved etc., and heaven bound. But if I diligently make my calling and election sure to me  i.e. enter into the awareness of it, and see that it really is so, then I will go from strength to strength.

“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. ... To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:19, 22).
Paul sacrificed and went to great efforts so that more men would be saved. If election is sovereignly fore-determined and irresistibly given, this makes no sense. How could Paul’s actions “gain more”? How could his actions “save some”?
MY COMMENT: Again if this to be seen as a broadside against election, it is against election in both of the  schools, because we both root it in eternity. The number of the elect is now fixed. For one of the non elect to become one of the elect either suggests that God has changed His mind (a problem for the Calvinist side of election) or that He didn't quite see everything that would happen at all, overlooked a few and had to fit them in (a problem for the Non Reformed side) Paul is not "gaining the more" in the sense that he is inceasing the number of the elect, which (as said) is fixed because it was settled in eternity past, but he is gaining the more in the sense of rescuing the lost. He has a great burden for souls, he wants  to gather in (i.e. as the instrument which God uses in salvation) as many as he can.


“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences” (2 Cor. 5:11).

DAVID CLOUD: If Paul were a Calvinist, he would not have written this because he would know that the elect don’t need persuading and the non-elect can’t be persuaded! The sinner is so dead in his sins that apart from regeneration and “the gift of faith” he couldn’t possibly understand and respond to human persuasion.
MY COMMENT: Who is Mr Cloud quoting here when he purports to speak for Calvinists? Again, no quotations, just (as much of this criticism has been) his own imaginations. The elect do need persuading because God uses means and this is the means God uses i.e. persuasive argument. Men are not puppets or blocks of wood. Calvinists do not treat them as such. Let me quote Pink again as he concludes one of his gospel sermons:
"Why not believe in him for yourself? Why not trust his precious blood for yourself, and why not tonight? Why not tonight, my friend? God is ready, God is ready to save you now if you believe on him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice has been offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you tonight. 'Come, for all things are now ready.'" (Studies in the Scriptures 1927)

That the non elect will not be persuaded does not enter into it as far as the Calvinistic evangelist is concerned. First of all, he dare not presume that any man still alive is a reprobate and beyond redemption. By seeking to persuade men, he may well win some (to quote Paul again) and should he encounter those who will afterwards be seen to be non elect, then his persuasive appeals to them will only but heighten their damnation.  As Mr Cloud, Mr Calvin and all right thinking Calvinists agree, the damnation of the sinner is his own fault.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him” (Heb. 2:3).
This exhortation makes no sense in light of Calvinist doctrine. If election is as the Calvinist teaches and it is a matter of an individual being sovereignly chosen by God, how could the elect neglect salvation and how could the non-elect do anything other than neglect salvation?
 MY COMMENT: Mr Cloud raises these points in another page and which we have reproduced and answered here.

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:12-14).
If the elect are predetermined “sovereignly” and if election has nothing whatsoever to do with the sinner himself as to accepting or rejecting, believing or disbelieving, and if he is irresistibly drawn and sovereignly kept so that he surely perseveres, what could this exhortation possibly mean? How could the sovereignly elected, irresistibly drawn elect depart from God, and how could the non-elect do anything other than depart from God?
MY COMMENT: Mr Cloud raises these points in another page and which we have reproduced and answered here.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb. 4:9-11).
How could this exhortation possibly apply to TULIP type election? This passage says the rest of salvation is something that every person must seek to enter into and all are urged to do so, but the doctrine of “sovereign” election teaches us that those elected to God’s rest are predetermined solely by God and they have no choice in the matter and will assuredly enter into His rest.

MY COMMENT: Mr Cloud raises these points in another page and which we have reproduced and answered here.

“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).
The Bible teaches that men are in darkness, dead in trespasses and sins, but the Bible plainly teaches that God gives light to every single man that comes into the world. There is no other way to understand the meaning of these words. There is no way to apply this only to the elect. The fact is that God draws men to the light and if they respond He gives them more light. That is what we see in the case of Cornelius in Acts 10. The Bible does not say here that the light that God gives to some is more effectual than that which He gives to others. It simply says that He enlightens every single man.
MY COMMENT: Here is one of those places where Calvin and Augustine disagree. Augustine sought to limit the benefits to the elect only, but Calvin (rightly in my view) denies this and points out that the light is extended to all men without exception. Common ground, at least to this point, with Mr Cloud who is supposedly refuting him! I quote the man himself (emphasis mine)
"But since the Evangelist employs the general phrase, every man that cometh into the world, I am more inclined to adopt the other meaning, which is, that from this light the rays are diffused over all mankind, as I have already said. For we know that men have this peculiar excellence which raises them above other animals, that they are endued with reason and intelligence, and that they carry the distinction between right and wrong engraven on their conscience. There is no man, therefore, whom some perception of the eternal light does not reach." (Commentary on John 1:9)

Since such light is given to all men without exception, evidently this light in itself does not bring the sinner to Christ. Otherwise (again) all men would be saved. If the sinner does not make use of the light, then he can blame no one but himself. Calvinists, in line with all evangelical and fundamentalist Christians always beleive that damnation is all of sin. Nothing else. But where the sinner does make use of the light is because he has been enabled to do so by the Spirit of God who regenerates him. God does not deal with all men equally. All men have enough light to show them right from wrong. This is enough to to damn the soul of the unbeliever. But God gives some people more opportunities than others with gospel privileges (Cp someone brought up in a Bible believing Church with a naked heathen) and strives with some for many years, while giving up others after a shorter time. Such is the sovereignty of God. How effectual the light that God gives may be judged from the result which it produces.

“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:8-11).
The Calvinist claims that “it is not the present mission of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin” and that “the Holy Spirit is sovereign in His operations and His mission is confined to God’s elect” (Pink, The Sovereignty of God, pp. 75, 77). In fact, the Lord Jesus plainly and unequivocally teaches in John 16 that the Holy Spirit will indeed convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. The Holy Spirit has a special work in this age both toward the unbeliever and toward the believer. There is no good reason to believe that “the world” in this passage is “the elect.” Consider what would happen if we were to change “the world” to “the elect.” The passage would then read: “And when he is come, he will reprove the elect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because the elect believe not on me...” But, of course, the elect do believe on Jesus.
MY COMMENT: [i] If you read Mr Pink, you will see in context that he differentiates between the intention of the Holy Spirit and the consequences of the Holy Spirit being here. We need not necessarily agree with him to see that his comments here concern a much wider subject than we are studying here. This is the danger of lifting sentences from here and there as Mr Cloud has done.
[ii] However, since we are supposed to be watching John Calvin scoff down his plate full of camels, I thought it would be a good thing to see what he actually said on this text. If Mr Cloud had've done the obvious and looked for himself, (for such would be more in keeping with his declared aims), he would read the following: (emphasis mine)

"Under the term world are, I think, included not only those who would be truly converted to Christ, but hypocrites and reprobates. For there are two ways in which the Spirit convinces men by the preaching of the Gospel. Some are moved in good earnest, so as to bow down willingly, and to assent willingly to the judgment by which they are condemned. Others, though they are convinced of guilt and cannot escape, yet do not sincerely yield, or submit themselves to the authority and jurisdiction of the Holy Spirit, but, on the contrary, being subdued they groan inwardly, and, being overwhelmed with confusion, still do not cease to cherish obstinacy within their hearts." (Calvin Commentary on John 16:8)

I notice that even John Gill, considered by Mr Cloud elsewhere as having undertaken a "complete capitulation to the most extreme TULIP Calvinism" did not limit these words to the elect. I must confess I often wonder Mr Cloud hopes to prove by these things? While there are real differences between the standard Calvinist and Mr Cloud's position, yet many of those Mr Cloud conjures up evaporate like Scotch mist at sunrise upon investigation.

DAVID CLOUD: Further, the Calvinist teaches that the elect are saved by regeneration rather than by conviction.

MY COMMENTS: Where is the evidence Mr Cloud? It is unacceptable, even in secular courts, to lay charges against any man or group of people and not produce checkable evidence. Did Pink teach it? You evidently have access to his "Sovereignty of God" book which you say you"carefully reread". Did Calvin teach it? You were advised by your Calvinistic friends [Did any of them make mention of this?] to read Calvin's Insitutes, which again, you say you did. Did your Calvinistic friends in the Far East make mention of this in the 100 long pages of notes? Why do you give evidence sometimes in your allegations and yet not in others? Why is it, the defence (as it were) does most of the running, while you sit at your computer throwing out allegation after allegation, most of which prove to baseless? Is this what your simple Bible believing friends whom you say you write for expect from you?

DAVID CLOUD: The truth of the matter is that this important passage describes how the unsaved, which are spiritually dead and blind, are brought to repentance and faith. It is by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
MY COMMENT: Exactly. Calvin believed that too:
"In short, from the heavenly glory he fills the world with the sweet savor of his righteousness. Now the Spirit declares, by the Gospel, that this is the only way in which we are accounted righteous. Next to the conviction of sin, this is the second step, that the Spirit should convince the world what true righteousness is, namely, that Christ, by his ascension to heaven, has established the kingdom of life, and now sits at the right hand of the Father, to confirm true righteousness." (Commentary on John 16:10)

This is the common belief of all Evangelical Christians and we are, again, left wondering what benefit there is for Mr Cloud to try and divide where no such division exists.

That not all believe is not because only some are pre-elected to believe but because God made man with the ability to resist him and according to the Scripture he has been exercising that ability since the Garden of Eden.

MY COMMENT: Exactly Mr Cloud. To requote Calvin again from above: 
"Others, though they are convinced of guilt and cannot escape, yet do not sincerely yield, or submit themselves to the authority and jurisdiction of the Holy Spirit, but, on the contrary, being subdued they groan inwardly, and, being overwhelmed with confusion, still do not cease to cherish obstinacy within their hearts." (Commentary on John 16:8)

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die” (John 12:32-33).
Here the Lord Jesus promised through His crucifixion to draw all men unto Him. Thus we see that He died to make it possible for all men to be saved and that He actively draws all men to Himself toward that end. That all men are not saved is not the fault of Jesus nor is it His intention. All are enlightened and all are drawn. What Jesus said about Israel is true for all men: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, HOW OFTEN WOULD I HAVE GATHERED thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and YE WOULD NOT!” (Mat. 23:37).
MY COMMENT: [i] The width of the word "all" depends on the power of the word "draw" because it cannot be a "saving draw" if the word "all" is unlimited saince all are not saved. However, if it is a "saving draw" then, for the same reason, the "all" must be limited i.e. be "all kinds of men" as oppsoed to "all men without exception."
[ii] Mr Cloud is correct to say that the reason why all men are not saved is not the fault of Christ or even of His intention. He came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) which I assume, Mr Clouds, agrees will prove at last to be that group called His elect. Men are lost because they rejected what light they had  - actually hating it (John 3:19) - and declined all the gracious invitations of the gospel.

DAVID CLOUD: These are only a few of Calvin’s camels.
MY COMMENT: Only a few of Calvin's camels? Many of these so called "Calvin's camels" didn't belong to Calvin at all. Indeed, we don't know who they belonged to, because Mr Cloud never gave any references for them at all. As Mr Spurgeon once said of those in his day who cavilled at the Doctrines of Grace and wrote reams and reams of objections: (Emphasis mine)

"The most infamous allegations have been brought against us, and sometimes, I must fear, by men who knew them to be utterly untrue: and, to this day, there are many of our opponents, who, when they run short of matter, invent and make for themselves a man of straw, call that John Calvin and then shoot all their arrows at it. We are not come here to defend your man of straw — shoot at it or burn it as you will, and, if it suit your convenience, still oppose doctrines which were never taught, and rail at fictions which, save in your own brain, were never in existence." (7:550)

DAVID CLOUD: My friends, don’t swallow these great camels of God’s Word.
Eh? 'Great camels of God's word?' Can any reader make any head or tail of this statement? I can't agree with or refute something that I cannot understand.

Scriptures are not there to be swallowed or forced into a preconceived theological mold but to be accepted and believed.
MY COMMENT: Agreed.  It is my contention that Mr Cloud has done this with his sovereign man centered doctrines which effectively rob God of His sovereignty and practically elevate the sinner to the throne.

DAVID CLOUD: Whatever divine election means, and it is certainly an important and oft-taught doctrine of the Word of God, it cannot mean what Calvinism concludes because to accept that position requires one to strain at gnats and swallow camels and Jesus forcefully condemned this practice.
MY COMMENT: Obviously I disagree. In Mr Cloud's definition of election, it appears that the sinner elects God, rather than God electing the sinner. Indeed, in Mr Cloud's scheme, God can't elect the helpless, hell deserving sinner unless He has been given express permission to do so by the said helpless, hell deserving sinner. This is why any Bible student, simple or otherwise, will reject it.


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