W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
The Design of Predestination
The Depravity of Sin, the Engulfing Dynamic of Evil
and its Engulfment
Christ Incomparable, Lord Indomitable Epilogue
Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace 7, 9
Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah 8, 9,
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3,
Outrageous Outages ... Ch. 9,
Repent or Perish Ch. 1, *1,
Message of the Words of God to Man in the World Ch. 9, *4
To Know God, the Power of Christ's Resurrection
and the Fellowship of His Sufferings Ch. 1,
Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will Ch. 6, esp. D - the Second
Grand Biblical Perspectives Ch. 7
Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 10
News 23, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4 esp. *1A, *1B, *2 and *3
The Glow of Presdestinative Power Ch. 8, Ch. 4
Massifs of Pure Splendour ... Ch. 7
Scaling the Heights ... Ch. 5
Gratitude for His Glorious Grace Appendix
Repent or Perish Ch. 1
Ch. 2, *17A below
SMR pp. 590ff., 623ff.,
Presentation on Pain, suffering and Evil:
The Engulfing Appetite of Evil, with Pain and Suffering,
and its Engulfment by God.
THE LOVE AND JUDGMENT DESIGN
What a wonder is the design of divine love! Let us consider aspects of it from Great Execrations, Greater Enervations, Greater Grace Ch. 7. This has been expanded for application here.
Speaking of God, it has this to say.
He could have removed the earth (and will – Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 23:35, but not before the entire gamut of His plan of mercy and kindness is complete – Titus 2:11ff., 3:4-7), at the Fall of man. In that case, for man, failure was ruin.
He COULD have PLANNED to remove the earth as part of the entire strategy from the first, when He CHOSE who would be His (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.), at some early stage, without the patient prodigy of procedure which led to the Messiah and His costly remedy.
He COULD have chosen on the basis of simple preference in order to fulfil His wishes, say the bravest or most choice people, and made this part of His plan. He did not.
He chose many who are low in intellect – some mighty, to be sure (I Corinthians 1:20-31*2), and many who had performed incredible misdeeds, like the Apostle Paul, in the days before that role and calling, when he was just Saul the persecutor-with-violence (Galatians 1, Acts 22:1ff.).
He chose many who had been mere swellings, as far as could be seen, in the river and currents of selfish life, like Zacchaeus (Luke 19). Indeed,
He COULD have been remorseless and merciless WITH His people, even after they received Him, but He was not, forgiving Peter in magnificent style, with tenderness, grace and goodness.
Just watch the method as Christ deals with fallen Peter. First there is a LOOK, quite simply, nothing more (as in Luke 22:61), after Peter’s impetuous betrayal of Him. The Lord turned and looked on Peter, as He went from trial to trial: on the way!
Of course, to be fair to Peter, he HAD tried to defend Christ with a sword from His betrayers, first of all, but apparently confused with the rebuke to put away his sword, he fled, and then in the multitude of commotions, found himself declaring THREE times that he did not so much as know Christ, and that in the very palace of the High Priest!
a breach of friendship
a disloyalty of the most extreme degree and
susceptible to the charge of nervous fear, whether or not this was the actual case.
Christ, then, gave Peter a mere look as He was being led to judgment: He did not shout or take derisory action. Then He SAW Peter on the first day of the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:5), and again as in John 21, days later when Peter, rich in repentance and desire, discerned Him on the shore, after the miraculous catch such as had occurred at the beginning of his time with Christ; and it was then that he rushed to meet Him. We do not know, to be sure, what was said between them on that first day after the resurrection, but we do know what happened on this last occasion.
Three times Christ asked Peter, using the word for friendship as well as religious love, whether he loved Him. This covered the three denials! It was serenely parallel. What grace and gentility was here.
Thus we see that while Christ could be vigorous in denunciation to false shepherds (as in Matthew 23! for there few more scorching words have adorned the earth – yet scorching because their scathing exposures were just), this is a Shepherd’s natural fire! Thus, we are not surprised when we find the gracious Martin Luther strong in denunciation of those who caused countless heart-aches among the German people (of which Luther was one). How did they do this ?
It was, as Luther began to point out, by twisting the truth and masquerading their system with a pope as if he sat in the very chair and seat of Christ, when He had expressly forbidden having any human masters (Matthew 23:8-10). How was this shepherding folly performed then ? It was by the use of a system of such severity and indeed forcible violence as would make Peter’s thought of using the sword, a mere trifle by comparison (in the Inquisition, over its centuries of moral cess). Tender to a point, Luther was most truculent in speech, and even denunciatory to those who caused such human torment (as understandable in the light of Matthew 23 as an example, and II Timothy 4:1-2, I Timothy 4:1-6). The latter may be cited to advantage here:
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
"If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed."
Did not God Himself state that He would come down and DO IT HIMSELF, while castigating the neglect, selfishness, soulless heartlessness and ruinous neglect of priests in Ezekiel’s day, relative to the people! You can read it in detail in Ezekiel 34 from which an excerpt is here given:
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them,
‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds:
“Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.
“So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”
‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:
“As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock— therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them.”
“For thus says the Lord God:
“Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.
“I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,’ says the Lord God.
“I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.
“And as for you, O My flock,’ thus says the Lord God: Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats. Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture—and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet?” ’ ”
You see the love and compassion, the outrage at its abuse by those supposedly caring but in fact caring largely for themselves. As here, so in Christ, the incarnate Word of God, is expressed, for GOD HIMSELF, precisely as in Hosea 13:14 will come down, HE will execute the work in which others have failed, HE will be the GOOD SHEPHERD (as in John 10); and in Hosea, it is HE HIMSELF who will be the destruction of death, hell's overthrow and in Himself as in Isaiah 52-53 would their sin be borne. In each case, this is the testimony of God without alloy, compromise, equivocation or incertitude. Whatever is to be done in these realms, HE is the One who is going to do it; and hence when Christ, the salvation of God (42:6, Luke 2), who in fact BEARS the iniquities and so pays, the ransom of God, at length came, it was God Himself and not another. It is He and not another, the Redeemer, whom Job is to see with the children of God, upon the earth (cf. I Thessalonians 3:13).
Let us return, however, to the Good Shepherd aspect of Ezekiel 34.
Tender to a point, like an exquisite doctor with patients, He could caress the very hearts of his people, and with sympathy excel; yet when they were mauled by false words and false shepherds, did He not react like any shepherd and expose the hungry theological wolves and ecclesiastical foxes! (Luke 11, Matthew 23).
Do you not find something of this reflected in Luther in his caressing strength towards the afflicted Germans of his day, in the churches, and his scornful exposure, even with satire, though he did not at first rush into it, of the recalcitrance of the unholy squanderers of the divine testimony.
What would you expect ? That Luther would call wolves ‘different sheep’, with all the finagling and wangling wrangling so reminiscent of the WCC ? ()or that their teeth he would smile at!
So and much more was the compassion of Christ, who was tender where truth was revered, and could even understand, with finesse and beauty of holiness, the movements of the heart of man: He was denunciatory of the fakes and frauds who acted to take over His sheep in His name by their own methods and self-glorifying and money-hoarding methods as if personally addressing a spiritual plague! He did all this full well knowing from the prophecies, that it would assuredly lead to His death in an agony and anguish vastly more intense, because as for Him, God as man, sin was wholly alien to His own nature!
Thus God did not resent and remove the world because of its treatment of His Son. He was sent on a purpose and a mission which, fulfilling, enabled the proclamation of the Gospel, that VERY Gospel which Isaiah had, for one, so abundantly clearly forecast and preached 700 years before. In His immovable mercy, as in His intractable truth, God proceeded to provide for our race all that could possibly without folly, be desired. If you want to be God, it is literally impossible; you are too late. If you want to have heaven fail so that hell won’t seem so bad, you are too unjust, for the condemnation of hell is precisely this, that it is evacuated of light and filled with dark preferences which despoil the nature of man, defile truth and despise lasting peace.
That is the design of hell, for though it has a consignment aspect, as does all in the end (Ephesians 1:11), it has an assignment aspect as well, in which the way which winds upward to heaven is left for the other highway to hell. It is easier. It avoids confrontation with God, for a time perhaps, as it grows further from Him; but He is able to move to any part or realm, spiritual or physical. It is not that heaven is exclusively repellant to spiritually attuned desire, but unimpededly pure, so that what hates purity might well find it a hell, boring, improbable, strange, incomprehensible.
Hell is the way out for what IS way out. When the processive quality of this earth yields to the procedures of heaven, and the static of a cursed world becomes the sonority of beauty, then what is contemptible appears so, what is way out is far off, and what deludes itself does so alone; though in judgment, truth makes contact before the branding of everlasting contempt (Daniel 12), everlasting destruction, where the desecratory is devastated. .
We should be clear here: since God knows all things in advance, this being like a book to an author, but one equipped with free characters, who though dimmed and diminished by sin, are yet able to rebel with the hearts and spirits which HE made free, He COULD have planned to resent it, what they did to Christ. He COULD indeed have decided to have some other plan, and to have nothing to resent. To go further, He COULD have decided that it wasn’t worth it, and this in either of two ways.
God could have decided in His own counsel that it was not worth sending His eternal Word as His Son via a virgin, equipping Him with a visible life that was beautiful and distinctive of the wonder of deity, though such a plan undoubtedly is what He pursued. He NEED not; there was no force.
It could have seemed disproportionate, even gross, to allow such human grossness, with tormented and twisted with lies and folly for thousands of years, to visit itself on His Son, made vulnerable as a sacrifice to bear the very sin of which these evils were examples only!
The Almighty could have resolved, instead, and even more drastically, that it was not worth while to MAKE MAN AT ALL, thus removing “the problem” altogether. In this latter case, there would have been no human heart with which to love, no capacity for divine friendship, no eternal life in which to dwell delightedly for ever, no fascinated admiration of the intriguing works of His hands, no provision for creativity among man: for there would be not one of them, no, not one.
This, quite astonishingly, He did not do.
Instead, He made man, if so inclined, able to swank with grandiose misconceptions of his own worth, and this the more as his worth, through rebellious meddling with what did not concern him, grew the less. He made mankind, with persons able to persecute and even torture and kill those who love God, as man has done for centuries and more, just as indeed Christ predicted; and He even gave to man such liberty that he could, if he wished, KILL people in CHRIST’s name, as Romanism has done, asserting that this was to the glory of God, with a mendacity and a profanity that must reach to the very depths of the pit (John 16:2).
Further, He knew all this and foretold the scenario; but He pursued the eternal purpose (cf. Ephesians 1:4, Revelation 14:3) without stinting in His own sacrifice, and allowing those who would follow Him, to do so, even indeed ensuring that through no error, no misconception, no ruse, would anything ever separate any one of His own people from His love. These things may be pursued in their beauty further in Predestination and Freewill, and Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 11.
Indeed, Christ could have resolved at Calvary to SHOW them, come down from the Cross, re-equip Himself with strength, and confront them. Such however would not have been love, but that very impatience to which man is so sadly susceptible; and it would have contravened the sacrificial need, to cover sin in reality, in practice, in justice, by mating it with mastery and letting it find its destiny in what could cope with it, binding death to Himself that He might break it, and rising declare innocence to those who received so prodigious a payment (Romans 3:23ff., II Corinthians 5:17ff.).
The cost was clear before the world was (Ephesians 1:4), and the plan, the design for the design called man, the program for the person, one yet free AS person to abstract from it, this was desired out of love, in deference to mercy, in the hallowing of truth and the hall of justice. He would do it. Man would be made. Eternity would be provided and you see in John, the delighted thrill of heart to find that this is indeed so, exhibited before their very eyes in concrete, physiological, physical, natural terms! Christ DID know what He was to do, DID say so, DID warn them of it, DID indicate with precision the three day interment, DID rise and DID teach them of these things with imperial mastery before, during and after the crucifixion!
For all that might have been thought and said, in fact, God did NOT resolve not to make man, or even to make him instead with only programmable functions, which would satisfy some, but give no scope for love or the knowledge of truth, or the infinitely delightful comradeship of man with God (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri Ch. 16 – Flashing Falls of Freedom). Instead, God made man, equipping him duly with a constructed marvel of magnificent facility, his body and brain, and with his spirit.
What a wonder and a glorying in the Lord this permitted, for many! What a maestro of muddle and confusion, pride and vainglory, vanity and idiocy, brilliant folly and fallacious frenzy many of the race nevertheless have elected to become.
ALL have sinned, and adding to this, many proceed by ignoring, twisting or denying God’s word, and their conceptions of His being, though in His book, it is very clear, valid, verified and minutely left standing after all attack on it and assault is finished. It is the same with the Son whom God sent.
Yet the cost was penetrating, piercing, in His Son. When they had QUITE finished tormenting His flesh, mocking His Spirit, mauling His body, pretending His guilt (despite Pilate’s formally washed hands!), attacking His doctrine (with never any success), assaulting His healing ministry when it happened on a Sabbath (though quite willing to pull out a cow if it fell on a Sabbath into a pit), vehemently arguing against Him (Luke 11:52ff.), interring His body after exposing it to the skies with the blood dripping off, and the breath being depressed as the arms sagged over the hours of the crucifixion: THEN they still failed.
What they could not prevent was quite simply the FAILURE to produce His body after the 3 days which He set as the term for its being dead, before it would rise. HE was unable to be shown wrong even when State and Religious Power, in inglorious communion, had done their worst.
WHERE was the body, since they had been TOLD from ancient times and repeatedly from the lips of Christ that NOT ONLY would He rise from the dead (which, incidentally does NOT mean, NOT rise – cf. Luke 24:38-39), but would do so at an arithmetically distinct time, precisely THREE days after the burial.
To the delight of His friends, the joy of His apostles, the wonder of many, the turning of the tables on fraud, lying and deceit, the overturning of the power of the devil, the dealing of death to death and destruction to destruction, the elevation of mercy in glad glory over judgment, He met judgment and ruined its results by gladly bearing them. Convinced, His disciples spoke; oppressed they spoke; in prison, they sang; in torments of whipping, they praised God for the privilege (Acts 3-10), in confrontation, they fearlessly noted the murder and resurrection; told to cease, they continued; rescued from prison, they spoke again in the face of their tormentors; at peace they knew no weakness, in prayer, they abounded in enduement (Acts 4:22ff.).
How then did God do it ? We know why; but how ?
One obvious reason for the triumphant and impeccable success of His plan for the resurrection is this: the maximum planning of man, with soldiers and tombs, with the stark and customary reality of death in his face, is not adequate to displace the intention and planning of God; and this does not cease to be so, EVEN WHEN GOD ANNOUNCES this in advance, as He very frequently does! (cf. SMR p. 743). There is no limit to God.
The experimental test is clear: man failed, God succeeded. As to the rest of the resurrection*3, His eating in their presence, His calling to them in their boats, His conversation with Peter in the midst of the other disciples, His differentiation about the different death modes to come for Peter and for John (accurate as always – John 21), His invitation to Thomas to try out the substantial character of His wounds by using fingers (a fitting rebuke, both personally and procedurally!), and to the disciples as in Luke 24, to verify for themselves that a SPIRIT does not have FLESH and BONES as He did: it is one long narrative of simplicity and testimony, of data and procedure according to plan.
In John 14, 16-17, you see Him telling that after His death, He will be going to be with His Father (John 14:2, 25ff., 16:7, 16:29, 32ff.), when He is ready, and in His own time returning in JUDGMENT so that all should be judged as the case requires.
In Matthew 24, you see Him telling of what would happen after His death and return to His Father, over long periods involving much international commotion and development, in which the Gospel would be preached to all nations. He would then RETURN to judge (24:29 to the end).
In Luke 24, you find Him telling them,
“O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory ?”
In all things the plan went according to plan, and the words, whether ancient or from Christ’s own lips, were to be fulfilled without any exemption or exception, any cavil or qualification, as always is the case with the word of God (cf. Isaiah 44:25ff., 48:6ff., 41:21ff.). If it were otherwise, there would be no Christianity, and Christ would have been a mockery (as in Mark 2!) long before it was found necessary to deprive Him of life on this earth (to the point of killing His formatted frame), as an exasperated and guileful grasp on life and national power was held out (John 11:49ff.), for the taking. HE goes, WE say. ONE goes, the nation stays.
They have merely inherited infamy. The nation inherited devastation, and the continuation of its unbelief, brings it untold suffering to this day; and who cannot lament for such things, so unnecessary in the very face of the love of God, so slighted, with such sad results.
The highest minds of His day, these could not answer His answers, taint His power, spoil His ministrations, exhibit any weakness. They could not stop Him raising the dead (John 11), nor when His time came, could they find the body, since He was freely walking about with it. The greatest Empire on earth could not keep His body, since God has His own ways of moving things and removing things, which depends on His entire comprehension of, and planning for what is to be. The author has great rights over His book, though in the events before us, THIS AUTHOR who is DEITY HIMSELF, is careful not to make of the test which we all face, a farce, by removing the suffering or obscuring the issue.
So Christ suffered in the grandeur of grace, performed in the illimitability of power, and did so in a body so frail that, like those we have ourselves, it could be snuffed in hours, and rose in the reliability of deity, allowing no rest for Rome or for Jerusalem alike, so that thousands came in short measure, after His death, knowing His return was to come, and seeing His Spirit (as in Acts 2) had come already as He promised (John 14, 16).
Suffering is not optional for love, where need is. Power is not optional where sin is. God acts neither so as to remove the reality of test, nor to remove the continuity of His people. Do then miracles such as those multiplied in Christ, and categorically exhibited in His resurrection remove the stringency and reality of test ? On the contrary, miracles do not alter the test, except to remind man of the conditions in which he is placed, and of the opportunities which he is ignoring, by his morbid defiance of the grace of the most gracious sovereign in heaven or on earth, the most wise and the most powerful. The cost in the interim remains colossal, as Paul put it in Colossians 1:24:
“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.”
(See for exposition of this, To Know God … Ch. 1.)
Carefully marking the place of the tomb (they were not mad! Luke 23:35, or inhuman in their grief!), they returned to find the action of deity, not in destroying Twin Towers, but in raising the twin towers of Truth and Mercy in His Son, so that those who would believe in Him would see both the suffering and the sense of glory. NO ONE CAN BEAT GOD, but God does not simply beat man; for man is not so made: rather, He provides for Him astutely, even in the very MIDST of his sin, by exposing Himself to evils untold, by plan, and overcoming them in suffering, by plan, and overturning them in ignominious defeat, by plan, so that in all things man might see the work for himself as image-bearer of God, and might savour the victory.
The power had not failed; the words had never failed; the knowledge always overpowered, the control in both kingdoms never ceased, whether in tempest, hunger of thousands, in devilish assaults BY devils or by their victims, or those obsessed with their own satanic desires, the precision of prophetic fulfilment went on with all the deliberate craftsmanship of a genius, equipped with unlimited power, the loyalty of the disciples was vast, their readiness to serve - though humanly having its own tempests - yet stood when they were alone. The power of His Spirit sent afterwards availed as in Acts; the courage at the Cross was perfect, the impact decisive, the unavailability of the body, of explanations, all went to plan. Christ did everything as planned, and no part of it, under any duress including that of death and terrorism on the part of Israel's authorities and Rome, over a scheming period, ever faded. But it was not easy, nor did they fail to suffer. This too was part of the plan.
It is not to suffering-free selfishness, like some slug leaving its silver trail on the surface of the earth, that man is called; for man is not the centre, but a derivative from deity’s creation. It is not in vainglorious self-affirmation, for the selves which do so, are merely blind to the glory of the God who made them. It is however WITH suffering and in the MIDST of the glory of God that the children of God work, with the same power which raised Christ from the dead*4 available, and the same sharing of ignominy as the case may require, as the Prince of this World blows his horns, and arrogantly asserts his place.
Yet it is not his place, and so brings judgment. Hence there is CONVICTION OF JUDGMENT for those who disbelieve in this ONLY PROVISION of Almighty God for mankind.
Consider then the multiplying graces which, accelerating in speed before our astonished eyes, present themselves as they pass. Let us look at just some glimpse of a few of them, as tokens.
He cares ENOUGH TO CREATE, and having created enough to PROVIDE, and having provided, enough to be AVAILABLE, by His Spirit (I Peter 5:7, Ephesians 3:16, Romans 5:5, 8:10ff..)
His is LOVING. There is really nothing to equal that. A mother, imperfectly but even passionately may care for her child, even to old age in one sense. My own devoted and blessed mother lived to 99 years, and her solicitude did not cease, nor her kindness. But God created the SYSTEM in which love might appear, and could have ignored this, and done otherwise.
Love in Him is ORIGINAL and ULTIMATE: God is love (I John 4:7ff.). This, we must always realise, does not mean that LOVE IS GOD. That is nonsense. Principles do not make themselves and kick about the universe. God whose omni-competence is the basis of all thought and order, IS LOVE. NOTHING contrary appears in Him. Nothing compromising to it is with Him. There is no quality which dispenses with it, censures it or withholds it, in Him.
God did not abort and make a semi-mission to semi-souls with semi-trials who would never exhibit reality, but only a cozened, pampered substitute for life. Test and trial is the conjunction of justice and the delight of truth. There is thus no challenge to His judgments, nor solace for rebellion, no ground for irritation, no case to be presented, however vainly. History has happened, and God Himself entered into it. HE showed He knows what is required, and that it is neither impossible nor unfair, but challenging indeed, and requiring direct and constant reliance on the Lord for its most ample fruition, and basic needs. Mercy spans the rest.
The captain of salvation did not deal with the team by electronic or spatial means, but directly, personally, intimatedly, as one in the form of brother as well as Master.
Knowledge is great; action is its partner. Conceptions only as the author of life are too strained; life must live. Conceptions are a great planner; life is a great challenge. Truth is naked of all pretence, knows nothing of cover-up, fears in God no challenge, and draws on the unlimited reserves that are available (cf. Ephesians 1:19, Psalm 57, Mark 11:33ff.), when found in man with faith, from God the Saviour. The whole universe can see its action, its meeting of the tedium or electric vitality of challenge, in this century or that; and the reality of love as exemplified in the confrontations of Job (cf. Ephesians 3:10-11), where the tests were classic and the result peace.
Whether the challenge be individual, ecclesiastical, national, political, diplomatic, to love, to truth, to peace, to priorities, it must arrive that life show itself not an investment of thought alone, but of a vitality and a reality which has thought as apposite, but not all!
Is there love ? What does it love ? Does it love itself ? That is not the nature of love. Its object is to console, keep, cleanse, remove defilement, bring to the best state, deliver from destruction, from depravity which degenerates, from decline which distances from dynamic, to bring accruement and enduement of what is most lovely, most precious, most advanced and most exuberant in hope, founded in security and best designated for the destiny of deliverance.
God is love (I John 4:7ff. c f. I Corinthians 13). He has no scores to settle with the creation, but has much to do in judgment with its evils which have aborted love, instituted evil, deluded the simple and expropriated the vulnerable. James 4 gives you an example of the vigour of that response to evil. God delights to give: He started this creation by giving it existence, then life, then conscious life and God-alive life. Man took the step of seeking to be competitive with God, so great was the felicity of his creation, the power of his construction and the roving imagination of his spirit. He did not have to do this. It was an option. Such is the image of God that neither without that option could man bear it, for God is wholly autonomous, the basis for and of all: nor without such an open door to folly could there be love, for love is voluntary or nothing but illusion, the convenient gathering of delight for self-satisfaction.
That ? It is no love, but mere self-seeking, and such is the trend in the nature of many modern partnerships, which lack the trust and the constancy even to bother with marriage at all, so keeping the children as pawns to possibility: that, it is no love.
God gives. It is more blessed to give than to receive. As the word of God through Paul says in Acts 20:35, "I have shown you all things, how by labouring like this you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
As to the Lord in His grandeur, He gives to what is not even there, an existence; to what is mere material structure, a festooning with life and to what is life, each in its place and setting, sequence and by divine fiat, the addition of what is man, in His own image. He has given to man the scope for fellowship, and this broken by the exquisite and glorious gift of freedom (cf. Grand Biblical Perspectives Ch. 7), a prerequisite for love and in the heart of friendship.
Thus Abraham was the friend of God (James 2:23), of that God with whom is no shadow cast by turning, for He is ever the same, faithful to the peak of fidelity; and indeed He IS that peak, and with God he went. Abraham pursued this relationship with deity even as if to slay his son, esteeming God well able to resurrect the one through whom the blessing to all men would come (Hebrews 11:19). In this way, so challenged, Abraham found the sacrifice was not of the body but of the clinging, for his son in the love of God had to have liberty as well as he; but in love, they worked together.
God provided by His OWN will, in the setting given, ANOTHER sacrifice, a ram, and forbad Abraham, tested but waiting on God, to slay his son. Thus perished not Isaac, but any thought of possessiveness, or idolatry, or even making an apparent condition for God's own glory, something still not God, a criterion instead of God Himself.
Neither the possessive nor the presumptuous is love, for such has self in its heart. Liberty and love are as two spaniels, delighted in the company each of the other.
Love is like the great sun which seeks in its course to cover all, with great flares of energy and golden blessing, not subject to coldness.
Yet because of its desires as we have seen, it loathes the loss of vitality, reality and integrity which sin brings. What then is to be done ?
God is love (I John 4:7ff.), and this means not that nothing else is to be found in the divine nature but that nothing contrary to it is even conceivable in God; for it is an exclusivity that denies the subjectivism of moody preference or self-centred desire.
God is exclusive of sin and seeks the same in all who love Him, where love is centred, where its origin for man has its eternal dwelling. What then is the result for those who sin, and repent; or more fateful, of those who sin and become recalcitrant, aligned to self-destruction, whether in the more obvious short-term or in the long-term disengagement from the procedures, principles and protocols of life from God, its origin ?
It is the spiritual equivalent of deriding the heart and seeking the demolition of arteries. In Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 6, the image of a Great Dividing Range is created, in order to have a visual repository for the division among men, concerning the living God, His word, witness and ways. It proceeds to the following point, and then with some addition.
The division between the two sides of the Mountain is a ridge, called the lines of demarcation, for it is so high that no one can pass it, except with the aid of the wind; and those on the far side, they find the darkness seems to be unable to be penetrated by the light from the near side, so that there is a sense of specious confusion, which with the height of the ridge, the sharpness of its edges, makes it appear a towering height which proceeds into the uttermost parts of the heavens; for in blindness there is no relief (Matthew 13:14ff.) and for wilful blindness, no cure of human invention.
The name of the ridge is the Reality of Truth, and from the near side, it is better understood, for there is more light there, and it is also called the Exclusion of Unbelief; for though faith is needed, and lost on the other side from any reality for any, yet it is to the same original design of man that it comes. It is in accord with the facts that it works, the fact of the one God and one Designer who having made man, brought to be the Range when man fell, so that though the two sorts seem like two races, yet this is because the darkness makes dimness of anguish on the far side, and the darkness also within makes of them such a confusion that the coruscation seems incredible on the other side, of which they gain indirect record and reports, even sometimes blazing ones, though they do not believe them.
Those who have been caught up at times, on the near side, they gain a perspective which the others readily recognise, because it confirms all their own intimations, and they call the ridge The Great Dividing Range, since there is no pass through it, and only the wind can bring those on the nether side, to the light by acting from above (John 3:6,8). The children of light love this, but the children of darkness who live on the other side, they regard it as unattractive; for despite their gloom and doom - which some of them do not like to face, but others grow morbid about, blaming God, while others deride them, not believing anything but themselves, and knowing so little because of the darkness - they prefer to think of something which will happen.
They never know what it is, and sometimes they make up little gods who inhabit the hills, like organic evolution, and sometimes gods like the destiny for man, and sometimes gods like the dance of progress, as into the current malodorous pit of selfish scheming, pompous mouthing and unutterable cruelty, amid falling standards, contempt for truth and a plague of injustice.
At other times, they seek to make organising gods who never work, but whom they like to pat on the head fondly, though the head is not there, so they invent little pats called philosophy, and pat the words on the site for the head anyway; for there is a theory that it is good to pat, so they get it all pat, and pat and pat and pat. Some think this is patronising to man in particular, since little gods take away from the glory within, though no one on that side ever quite knows what this glory is; so they agree to have a feeling that something will happen, as it will, when the mountains being removed, and those on the near side taken to the common Designer of the entire race, find the One who restored them to their original design and light and the love of His creative heart.
These who stay in the dark at this time however, they inherit what darkness portends, not what they themselves pretended.
There is beyond it all, this profound harmony; for though the two sides differ so much, there is a continual call to those on the far side to look above, from where the wind comes, and to call on the name of the common Creator and man's only Redeemer, which some do, and then they find themselves amazingly changed both in location and vocation, and proceed to send messages to those in the dark side, which they for their part grind under foot, though sometimes one will come upon it, and believe and leave.
The Lord is passionate about mercy (Massifs ... Chs. 5, 7), but dispassionate about entreaties to pollute heaven and defile His own name in order to assist the practice of delusion! Then all fail and nothing good remains; but God remains, and He does not change. Hence judgment grinds to its disrelished (Ezekiel 33:11) end, where the darkness encloses the guilt-ridden self-exporters from DESIGN, who have chosen their own DESTINY by self-DESIGNATION; for although Christ came NOT to condemn the world, that it might be saved, these have fled from this refuge, despised reason, instituted treason against their own lives, and insisted on sedulous seduction.
They all, even as others with another destiny, go to their place.
Before we turn to The Predestination and Destiny Design, below, let us look at Pain, Suffering and Evil in the work of God in a fallen world, its flags furled, its temper high, its tenor increasingly merciless, its repentance distanced, its arrogance profound, so that the more microscopic attention to the detail of the thing may duly register, before we then turn to seeing its ultimates of control and its finalities of design.
THE PRESENTATION ON PAIN, SUFFERING AND EVIL
WHAT REALITY CAN DO,
AND WHAT MERCY CONFINES and OVERCOMES,
TILL JUDGMENT SITS
Instead of printing this out, it is given simply as above by hyperlink. This will help to keep this Chapter within some bounds!
THE PREDESTINATION AND DESTINY DESIGN
God in His DESIGN of Predestination (cf. The Glow of Predestination .....Ch. 8), moreover, has been profoundly gracious, just and wholly loving. Thus if man had simply chosen God at the first, not sin, then that would involve simplicity itself. That he did not do so has become a challenge both to life and understanding. However, in Christ God has been reconciling the world towards Himself, becoming sin, He who knew no sin, for sinners; but this effectually ONLY for those receiving in His act, the activation of their own mercy. Rejection slips to God are not the correct terminology in the ultimate, since man's is not the ULTIMATE choice, but the phrase is relevant in essence.
Thus If man, sinless, had chosen God, the liberty of non-sin in the mind and will would have left the decision responsible and potentially at least, final and beneficent.
However, man did not do so. He chose sin. Hence he lost his power of choice to the constraints and lordliness of sin that dominates, inheres, distorts, and indeed limits man both in his perception, conception and relationships, tainting the mind and dynamising desire.
Man in this subordinate slavery to sin, whether in highly 'moral' boasting of self and its 'deserts' or other, can no longer choose God (I Cor. 2:14). Further, if he did, it would bespeak a relative superiority of perception of suasibility, of sensitivity, or worth, of X-factor inherent, and hence of a being already select by being recipient of what he was.
In this, he would be consigned more as a puppet than a person, and the love of God would be selective on a basis of input-output.
The Calvinistic idea has the same flaw: on that basis, God does the selecting, but since Calvin contradicts (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 1, Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace 7, 9) the testimony of God in the Bible concerning the amplitude of His desire for man, then the X-factor of intrinsic preferability in man arises once more. Not only does this abort the declared love of God; it puts things back, by implication, on the merit basis, not of works, but of being.
Biblically, this is far from the truth (cf. I Corinthians 2), as indeed from the desire of Calvin. It is however what its anti-biblical error portends. Neither of these ways are biblical to the uttermost, each seeking this or that phase or facet, and ignoring the whole teaching of the counsel of God in the Bible, poignant, powerful, compelling, impelling to the Cross and seeking through it, where grace may provide (cf. Gratitude for His Glorious Grace Ch. 2, The Majestic Might of the Merciful Messiah Ch. 5). The love of God, however, being truth, has found a way, and indeed, always has He known it, who made the patient-testing qualities of earthly time.
To escape the superiority of the suasibility of the 'elect', and return to the Biblical definition as in Ephesians 2 and 4, where NO merit of ANY kind inheres in man, who is as lost as wrath can make him, and is found by a grace which has no truck in any way whatsoever with differential merit (cf. Isaiah 64:6, Romans 7:18), one has only to go to what the Bible gives. There in one way to avoid this anti-biblical, and love-truncating contradiction. It is this. God WOULD have all saved (says so in Colossians 1). God WILL not have any chosen by his own will (John 1:12, Romans 9:16, John 15:7). IF He did it would imply a superior will, and thus a superiority in what willed, which God denies, and love deplores.
ONLY because God IS love is the objectivity of desire linked with incorruptibility of finding. This, in other words, is a necessary pre-condition of the security of His choice being NOT linked to intrinsic worth in what is chosen (eternity is a long time, if you want to put it extravagantly and without reference to final orientation). It is indeed the finale to earth's time and beyond it, and better.
This being established, we need something more. There must therefore, if JUSTICE is to rule, be a total coverage for ANYONE saved. It cannot be a more or less matter, when death is sin's entourage. It must be total, undifferential, adequate: all three. Christ's death as a sin sacrifice covers this need. All is now of grace, and all are equally to be delivered from the sin sentence by the death provision. None comes with less than the Saviour's death as the ground, and in the John 6 eating, this is appropriated on an individual and confessed basis (cf. Massifs of Pure Splendour ... Chs. 5 and 6).
Yet how may the will of man, already corrupted by irruption of sin and corruption of mind, whether in complacency built on pride or corruption acknowledged in despair, be both relevant, so that man is truly responsible, on the one hand, and NOT LIMITED by relative superiority or inferiority, susceptibility and so on, to make the choice meaningful and not a result of the constitution and conclaves of sinful will, better or worse, or character ?
It is by this means. God KNOWS without the pseudo-medical limits of the CURRENT condition of man, ex-works (as in Romans 9, Ephesians 2, Romans 3); and He KNEW before time was (Ephesians 1:4) who were His. He is not limited to man's state. He knows his heart as well as Adam's, where sin did not differentiate, all being good. Hence when God acts, to choose before time began in our universe, He acts by KNOWLEDGE. The cost is the same. The result is the same, in that it is true; but the WAY it is assured is by that predestination which biblically, is based on FOREKNOWLEDGE (Romans 8:29ff.), not of man's works (denied in Romans 9:11 - a fruit dependent partly on who he is, in his sinful condition).
It is not knowledge of what is good in man, or what good he will do, since few of the best are found (I Cor. 2), and nothing is good enough for heaven, even to enter, since any sin fouls, and all sin has heart results (Romans 6:23, 1-2).
With TOTAL COST covered for any and the SAME for all, and with this paid first in the knowledge of God and then in history (cf. Revelation 13:8), and with TOTAL LOVE for all on the part of God in seeking reconciliation for all things, yes in heaven or on earth as Paul affirms in Colossians 1, then with this provision and man's fatal estate mixed, on the one hand, and wisdom's knowledge past works and condition, on the other, so that not limited to the knowledge of the differentials of sin, God knows His man or woman or child for Himself, what then ? HE CHOOSES (John 15, John 1:12, Romans 9:16).
It is HIS knowledge. It is neither IF nor DO, but knowing and going. WHOM HE FOREKNEW is the biblical proclamation (Romans 8:30). By adhering to it, we find the truth, and the harmony of all things in Christ. What a word is this, so equipped with entire felicity! Thus human will*1 is neither the operative determinant, the effective cause of salvation, nor ontologically irrelevant.
Oscillation between these two positions has been a sort of electronic see-saw in which theologians have often played loosely without effect, ignoring the relevance or the inoperability of will in practice because of sin (I Cor. 2:13, John 1:12, Romans 9:16), or the love of God that all might be saved (Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, I Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 33:11, John 3:17-19). It is the Lord who knows, before time, as the Bible tells us (Ephesians 1:4, Revelation 13:8, Romans 8:30ff.). He KNOWS in His own pre-chronological setting who are His own, and their wills with them, He knows, for all it is that He knows, past all pathological compulsion, sinful adhesions, historical insertions, works and developments, past all erratic impulsion: and He liberates, knowing all, at HIS WILL! (John 6:65).
Then He operates in history to take whom He will, and in His own time, to secure those whom He has foreknown, by the Cross of Christ and pure, unmitigated, impregnable, incorruptible grace. Predestinated, they come; foreknown they are regenerated; regenerated they see.
ONLY by having GOD choose in a sinful situation of man, and ONLY by having TOTAL coverage for any, and ONLY by there being a God who IS LOVE, is freedom possible. Then however it is not only possible but actualised. Awareness of these implosions of God may vary, and do; but the realities do not.
It is before God who enables it, covering uniformly the cost, for all deserve eternal death. Thus in this infinity of gift is cost comparable, for all required the death of Christ to free them; is will responsible for when GOD assesses a preference past all sin-differentials, one for darkness, this is the TRUTH for those of whom it is affirmed; nor do ANY of these come to Him
Freedom being thus make real, responsibility is so no less; and indeed even if any came to heaven, preferring darkness, this would be the ultimate hell!
Judgment, however, it remains where regality is delusively derided, necessity is peremptorily rejected and as for garbage stored in the kitchen, its action applies.
Love does not force; but it does act. Faith does not have compulsion; but it needs to act. Grace provides, but not to the elimination of truth. Will in man does not choose; it is too corrupt (I Cor. 2:14), but it is gauged by God who has known man before all time, and where sin is not, all is seen; for there are no limits with God. He knows, and by whatever method, HE KNOWS! (Romans 8:30ff.).
Here where merit is inapplicable, since sin brings inferiority and thus meritorious comparisons, God knows His own and chooses them accordingly (Ephesians 1:4). From what does He choose them ? from the condition of being lost, worthy of judgment which truth cannot avoid, where there is NOTHING of goodness and NOTHING of worth to induce choice (Ephesians 2, 4).
What however comes and is to come, where mercy is quashed in the life of man, and the God who knows His own (I Timothy 2:19), who does not lie, who knows beyond all appearance, knows well that this is not His own, this or that one ? What when the time of the end comes ?
Then - despite
the prodigy of infinity in God's
becoming man to deliver man (II Peter 3:18),
the victory and triumph of truth
in God's gift of His own blood (Acts 20:28),
the humiliation of enduring in
love the horrors as of hell,
the exquisite power of the Creator
in recreating His own human life,
then only judgment remains for man. He wanders from the wit, the wisdom and the empathy, the enterprise, the mercy and the love, the prodigies of God for the seclusion of self or its appointees.
Then there is a final separation, an apartheid not of exclusion, but of exclusivity, which comes to the same in the end. Then there is everlasting contempt for the surrealistic sundering of spirit from a man's own source, and SUCH a source; and then as our time proceeds to the culmination of eternity, there is a sundering where genuine remorse being outlawed in the heart, its emotional counterpart can only flow in its foolishness.
It is however only over the dead body of Christ that this can occur (John 15:21ff., Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, Ezekiel 33:11, with all the portentous entreaties of the Old Testament and the New). Thus, it is only when the God of creation and redemption, the Saviour from sin, is intolerable to man, that man, intolerant of truth, becomes guilt-ridden as well as guilt-assessed, and enshrined in guilt, takes himself off to his gilt-edged imaginary securities of self, sedition and hope, built on non-fact, non-evidence, and nonsense in general.
What a piece of work is man, so to be deluded; but what a workman is God who WILL NOT force, and detests its use in the domain of the spirit (Matthew 26:52ff., 18:36-37), preferring to SUFFER it in love, than exert it for faith! Faith by force ? it is a forcible abuse of terminology, though in this world, it is still attempted as people try to BUY it by kindness, or INDUCE it by horror. It is all irrelevant. It does not work. It is not of man in the image of God. It is mere dust in the air, emptiness in the glass, fuming in the clouds of human vanity.
EXCURSION on GRACE,
DEMERIT'S INORDINATE DEFICIENCY,
DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY, LOVE'S EXTREMITY,
On WILL and MAN'S NIL
TO SALVATION'S ACCOUNT
In history, the realities of eternity, the foreknowledge of God, may be felt more or less in the inclinations or turmoil, movements or eruptions of will; but beyond that there is the kingly key, wrought in and by the Lord before time, but not without the logically prior realities of approach such as persons by nature admit, and receive. These may be express or implicit, but the divine restraint is as apparent in all scripture, as is the passion and the certainty of the result, and that, before all time (Hosea 7:1ff., Jeremiah 9:1-9, 17:1-16, 48:36, 51:9, Isaiah 48:12-20, Jonah 4). Neither does He who would heal, heal all to whom He is thus moved, nor does He who would scourge, scourge whom He may deliver (Ezekiel 20:1-21). Berkouwer's feeling for some inferential hold in the matter ins his Divine Election, is not wrong; and it is identifiable as below.
How vain is the ruthless theological decision to ignore so much both in principle and in practice in the word of God, in order to create a God of less compassion, less love, in whom an aweful sovereignty allegedly works, as if some outside thing ran God, whose heart is nevertheless as He states it to be, in principle and in practice. The hideous caricature of God cannot be tolerated, any more than the goddish aspiration of man towards autonomy. Both are myths. There is no mystery in this, that God IS love, and that man is NOT autonomous. His salvation is by grant, but by grant of grace from the merciful heart of the loving God who delights in mercy, and would have all to be reconciled, whether in heaven or on earth, to Himself.
Worse, the defilement thus wrought brings disharmony to what is harmonious, in the biblical principles, where man's is the responsibility BECAUSE God's is the desire and provision, and freedom which is a basis for any responsibility, beyond the inflammation's of sin in the mind of God towards man, seeing him in essence past defilement, is the occasion through which God moves, as He sovereignly determines the result of His grace and love and mercy and truth, before time, in any soul, and then predestinates accordingly (Romans 8:30).
In the forging of the key of entry, to which reference is made above
(cf. Matthew 11:27-30, where it is CHRIST's will - 'the Son wills to reveal Him' - 11:27,
as well as that of the Father as in John 6:62, which operates),
that same Word of God, eternal
(John 1:1, 8:57) and always present, in foreknowledge as in predestination, He
who is integral to eternity, that Person who incarnate was Jesus Christ,
moved to seek, find, register the
soul who by diligent search, before history began,
(cf. II Timothy 1:9-10, Ephesians 1:4, John 16:15, II Timothy 2:19, John 5:19-23, Revelation 2:9, John 10:9,27-28ff.).
In the presence of eternal love, unwilling that any should perish, seeking in that grand panorama of grace and love between God and mankind (Titus 2-3, Col. 1:19ff., I Timothy 2), definitive and declared, seeking reconciliation of all, both in heaven and upon the earth, to Himself, the God of all comfort and grace, mercy and kindness so found the soul, each one, that could never be lost, no, not though all hell should render it its target!
On earth, Jesus Christ portrayed that love that in foreknowledge was eternally operative; for God never changes, and he who has seen Christ has seen the Father, not alloyed but definitively presented. He spoke. It was the word of God as Messiah! It as as unalterable as He is (Hebrews 13:8, Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff.). Wherever He was, He is the same, and the love He showed on earth, this He was in heaven. The voice on earth was the mind in eternity.
And who has come in the gleams and glow of this love ? Its results came with that yearning certainty of joy and grant that far from dismissing the human will in the human spirit, as made by God, as if it were irrelevant to Him, whether foreknown in eternity or granted by grace in time, placed it as responsible for any ultimate loss, as the fidelity of divine restraint before time required, and as free from any merit in the operation of grace, as the cost of the Cross manifestly and decisively declared.
Neither does sin in itself ultimately require the loss of all, nor does grace allow the merit of any, differential or intrinsic, to be the occasion of divine election. If it were, the proud priorities of the rescued soul would echo anomalously and abominably in heaven (Romans 3:23ff), just as an anomalous foreknowledge that failed to know the soul itself, would be an ignorant wisdom.
What God foreknows is no void, but a person; and He who condemned those who rejected redemption (John 3:19) on the ground of their preference, making them responsible while equally affirming that His mission was NOT to condemn the world, but that it might be saved, and wept for the lost from the love in its urgency and tenor within Himself, exhibits God; for in Him, He is manifest. Here in focus precise, in feature profound, here in Christ Jesus Himself is the integrity of divinity who neither forces nor pre-empts but before time as in it, knows from among all whom He heartily seeks, who are His own. These He WILLS to show the Father (Matthew 11:27ff.).
Neither character without will, nor autonomous will, neither Calvinistically truncated draftees for election in "mystery" without the embrace of ultimate love - which God IS: neither of these fictions, the X-factor in elect persons that might beget choice in its appeal, attractiveness or other intrinsic feature for divine focus (cf. Member Contribution 3), nor the ultimate autonomy that acts alone as lord, not the one and certainly not the other, is biblical.
There IS no divine love which is flickering, withheld in the ultimate: and what assumes it assumes in vain, There is no human appeal, express or implied, which is drawing divine selection, and what acts with this, or entails it, is delusion. There IS the divine ultimacy of generic love and the human inadequacy for rescue without it (cf. Great Execrations ... Greater Grace Chs. 7 and 9, The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4, The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3); there is the divine price for the rescue applicable to each one, and what imagines contrary to John 1, that man has the goodness to select God, or contrary to Colossians 1, that God lacks the goodness to be pleased that all should be reconciled through the blood of Christ, is mere scenario writing. It is not to be found in the Bible, which flatly contradicts both of these imaginary propositions.
God selects whom He KNOWS, the soul itself, relevant to knowledge of it, His wisdom seeing beyond the automatic rejection which the sinful hearts contrive, beyond any postulated divine desirability such as the "mysterious" divine drive implies in Calvinism (refs. above, with Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will Ch. 6), or which human autonomy on the contrary, suggests. He takes what is His, beyond the limitations and the delimitations of sin, of relative merit, and of finally self-elective human eyes alike, and having paid the price in the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, He exhibits on earth the results of what IS divinely defined.
Neither man's relative merit nor God's putative unseeing sovereignty is this, but the fulfilment of His will who was pleased, having made peace, through the blood of the Cross, to embrace in heart that reconciliation of ALL to which His own love draws but does not in such outreach determine. This the Lord does in the restraints of divine integrity of that love, resulting in the salvation of some. It neither exalts what it finds nor fails to find it ONLY through the blood of the Cross that REQUIRES total unworthiness for each soul found, as its payment is omni-dimensional (Romans 7:18). The eye gate through which the "camel" must come is also the "I" gate through which one enters by having nothing adhering, but all forsaken.
So does grace rule, divine love suffuse all in the desire not to condemn the world, but that it might be saved, inherent in Christ's mission.
Indeed, holy writ exposes the delightful drive in God's so loving the world that whosoever believes in Him should not perish (John 3:16), by this very thing; for it is immediately with 'for' that in 3:17 we find that He had no desire to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. It is in the light of this double affirmation of practical divine love and its extent and purpose, its practical and implicit fire, that the ground of condemnation despite these most ultimate divine attitudes is shown. It is that LOVE in man is otherwise directed. Its preference in such negative cases not to light, what shows truth, but to darkness, what absconds from it (John 3:19).
God doubly protects His own grace, love and purpose, its extent and its purity, from any misconstruction, before adding in the focus of faith and non-faith (3:18), the nature of the contrary operation: that despite this divine dynamic, cardinal disbelief through other love, secures the exclusion of any of this world's inhabitants. Thus, light has come and these loved darkness more than the light (3:19). To distort so noble and multiply presented a declaration, as if it were not such a love as this, but even the selection from divine predilection (make it as mysterious as you like) which any selfish love might desire, makes a farce of language itself. In fact, to twist the truth that the reluctant divine exclusion, when it operates, occurs where effusive and divinely diffusive love is allowed to be aborted (absorbed in vain by ultimately renegade sin) at this second level, what is this ? It is to defile divine declaration and love alike.
It is clear that this divine love is as embracive as it is sovereign, and that no sovereignty rises above it; for sovereignty simply expresses what God is, not what He is not; what He says, and not what He denies.
How God works in this way, in order to meet any illicit challenge, Biblical Christian Apologetics can signify (as in Predestination and Freewill), not so as to intrude into the wonders of the very form of God, but to exhibit the perfection both of consistency of concept and singular adequacy of mode to the entire fabric of faith as shown below.
That this IS the love of God, as He Himself has multiply declared and applied it in His word and in history, is gloriously harmonious with all other principles and positions adopted by God in His word, whether concerning justice, or equity, or mercy and its scope or His heart or man's heart or responsibility. That these harmonious concepts, divine drives and human responsibilities are so, is as clear as the marred face of Christ, extensive throughout all the Bible in the multiplied expressions of utter divine yearning and provisions, progressive appeals (cf. Proverbs 1, I Kings 17, II Chronicles 36. Jeremiah 3-17), and laments such as Christ made for Jerusalem.
While God knows all and His power is ultimate and absolute, man in His image, knows readily the nature of love, and its refusal to arrest, as well as the gravity and grace of its nobility - this last the more, the nearer to God man grows. .