Rather than explain what I mean, I’ll suggest the questions and trust that my meaning will be clear.
Question One: Did God lead the people of Israel out of Egypt in order for them to die in the wilderness?
Throughout the Exodus story the people grumbled against Moses and against God and accused one or both of intending exactly that: God took them into the desert to die there. Did God regard this as a true statement of his intentions? No. He claimed he was leading them through the wilderness in order to bring them into the Promised Land.
But because of their unbelief and increasing rebellion, God did eventually destroy that generation in the wilderness. So does that mean that we Calvinists must side with the grumblers? Do we agree that God brought them into the wilderness in order to kill them there? Did they speak the truth about God?
Yes or No?
Question Two: Was it God’s will for David to take Uriah’s wife?
God obviously worked all things together to bring about the birth of Solomon as the heir to the throne of David. So was David doing God’s will when he seduced Bathsheba? Or when he got Uriah murdered?
Yes or No?
Question Three: Were Jesus’ bones breakable?
I stole this one from John Calvin. But what is your answer? Isaiah prophesied that Jesus’ bones would never be broken. They never were. So were they unbreakable?
Breakable or unbreakable?
No Calvinist can operate without acknowledging different levels in how one speaks of God. They seem contradictory, but they are not dealing with the same level of reality. We can speak of God from the standpoint of his unconditional and certain decree, and we can speak from the perspective of his revealed character, his sincere offer, and the nature of things in themselves.