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ALPHA and OMEGA:
AND YOU'VE GOT A MUDDLE IN THE MIDDLE
If You Don't Grasp That,
You'll be Grasped by the Wrong Party
LIVING IN CHRIST:
WHEN THE MIDDLE IS BETWEEN TWO FIXED POLES
IT IS BEAUTIFUL
SANCTIFICATION HAS SCOPE IN
IN WILL AS IN WONDER:
BASED ON THE ALPHA AND OMEGA
Ignore the beginning and be indifferent to the end; but in life, as in a novel, there is an end. There is creation and defamation, there is salvation and there is slander, there is redemption and there is ruin. In the macro-universe (Matthew 24:35), it comes to an end, with various sortings, crucially moving about one fixed point: Christ Jesus the Saviour.
Avoiding these is pernicious, impractical, surreal and ruinous.
This is often done by seeking a middle ground instead of the beginning and end, by various mythical meanderings, like someone planning to go to University, and considering courses, but never quite getting to the beginning, and just simply wandering about.
When however, your heart is fixed on where you come from, physically and spiritually, then there is an open door to a living in the middle, not instead of the will and truth of God, but in its very heart!
Here is orientation, information and continuation of consequence.
If it is so in creation and in salvation, it is so no less in sanctification.
If you begin with Alpha, not the course, but the Cause, the Creator, the God of all glory and truth, and then proceed with the creation of all things new in your life, that is, with the second great act of creation, that of a reconciled, redeemed and regenerated soul, based on Jesus Christ, then results flow. Thus you are not on such a basis, confused, diffused or of dilated vision, as one without understanding, staring at vacuity of identity, both concerning yourself and of God, immersed in news and views, a castaway, one adrift, taking now this and now that nostrum. Nor, then, are you fixed like a goat tied to a stake, on some hope that is never realised, some program that is never implemented. You know where you are going and why and with whom.
It is then that two things become true for you. Firstly, you love Him who first loved you, for in this case this is TRUE and you have FOUND it, and HENCE respond in this way (I John 4:10).
Hence you love also His word, the Bible, which stands alone while all else that calls from the lips of man, fails (I Peter 1:18-2:2). Accordingly, with information and love, and the very presence of God, all three, you are moved and aided, you grow and your soul lives, and does not die. Your heart seeks, your soul sings, your harbour is filled with the shipping of spirituality, the Commander Christ; your values are fixed, your path is clear and your Omega time is fashioned from eternity (Ephesians 1:4, II Timothy 1:8ff.), and not as a fission from faith, leaving an ash heap of unrepented ruin.
These things being so, the two arms, firstly the creation of the world in which you live, and that race of which you are part, and secondly, the new creation that has made your life at one with God, indwelt by His Spirit and alive to His leading and to His will, with the latter giving stability and certainty to direction and meaning: THEN the middle part, the life on this earth from your time of regeneration till your passing to God, or His coming in Christ, whichever occurs first, has certain characteristic savour, mode. It is now governed by goodness. It is like the area between the poles of some massive electro-magnets, filled with power to act, a medium inhabited and responsive, as illustrated by the dynamos that are driven and make electricity, in such an environment.
Stability and spirituality are now in place as environmental forces, personal, propulsive, enduring, as it is written in Isaiah 33:6:
"And wisdom and knowledge wil be the stability of your times,
and strength of salvation:
the fear of the LORD is His treasure."
There is no room for the middle posturing, for the one who rejects Alpha and Omega; but for the one who does not pretend, but does in reality receive the Creator, and the Redeemer, there is no scope for failure (John 10:9, 27-28). Evil is not ruling, man is not fooling, deception is disposed of - not without travail at places, but without loss - and the glory of the Lord is near. IN the middle, when this is PLACED BETWEEN
It is that of the Alpha and Omega and not a substitute without cause, meaning or ground. Moreover, there is far more than rationality, to which The Alpha and Omega has exclusive rights by reason of reason in action, love which adorns it, truth which deploys it, having placed it as a product in man's very mind. There is far more but not less. God IS reasonable. It is also by reason of the creation of all that contains such things, as of the love which acted and the truth which spoke. It is now in His very own domain, harbour, the domesticity of His delight. His is the constraint for all, over all, which undertakes for each one so founded, and so not foundering, in Him.
There is revelation and illumination, there is understanding and resolution of problems (cf. Daniel 2:29,47), there is challenge to courage and invitation to a journey of joy, which whatever the agonies in passing, has a supervening atmosphere and a personal vitality from the God who made us, and it, and puts all to the test.
It is then that one lives as Ephesians 2 declares it,
"to the praise of the glory of His grace, through which He has made us
accepted in the Beloved."
Sanctification is NOT the name for having teaching courses in a church which want to warrant a whole medley of anti-biblical laxities, and invite outrageous nonsense from vocal critics while being silent (Galatians 2:5); nor for a combination with others of unlike and unprecious faith (II Corinthians 6, Romans 16:17, Revelation 18:4, I Timothy 6, Ephesians 4:32-5:7, I Corinthians 5:9-13, II John) .
The kingdom of heaven is nothing to do with manipulative psychology or synthesis: leave that to those who manipulate and pullulate in pollution. It is to do with reality, with truth, with the word of God, with HEARING it, and not interpolating with tradition or criticism, and UNDERSTANDING IT, not talking about ten thousand things at the same time, thus effectively subverting what it actually has to say, and conveying it, both with the feet, the mouth and with the life (II Corinthians 2:14, Matthew 28:19-20) until the result becomes deformation, defamation of God, and that BY His name!.
Sanctification is the name for getting, by the power of the Holy Spirit, closer to Christ in knowledge, wisdom, understanding, CHARACTER, grace, the lovingkindness in which and to which we are regenerated, the courage for which truth looks, and the strength which God gives, in a unison of heart and mind, which serves Him with thanksgiving (cf. Psalm 86:11, 86:11-12).
THE FREEDOM OF LIFE IN CHRIST,
FULFILS THAT FIRST MADE FOR MAN
It is this which enables FREEDOM to be REALISED and not merely, and increasingly, a shunt line for consideration when more practical needs of power, pride, human racism, financial security and dignity before one's fellow men are first satisfied. Insanity is not a racial phenomenon; man does not act as if free because he isn't, but because, with acute recollections of weighing principles, which ones even to select, adopting them in principle OR in practice, and of his own actions, warped or wrong by his own standards, or other, which may often change to accommodate this for more comfort of the psyche, he is not disposed to argue with reality. If his will is bought and sold by pleasure or power or reputation or vengefulness or any other thing, so be it; it is still there.
Truly it is bound by sin as Christ indicated in John 8, and this makes of a free being, a slave. Equally true one can never be free from invisible bonds, even if it be those of one's own imaginary superiority to anything that matters, God included, without invisible aid from the source of the invisible God whose invisible power is inherent in man, who acts on invisible premises and promises of peace, or love, or violence, or aggressiveness, or self-display, or self-realisation or self-importance or self-centredness at all costs.
It is in fact from that domain of the invisible that there issues what runs man, and the Lord is God of it: whether in pathological dynamics of prurient choices, be these conscious or mere seedy submissions. It is not the gun, which martyrs face readily frequently, whether ill-advised or righteous in so doing. It is not the power of the buck, which mangles many and misleads multitudes, but which is disdained as trash by many more, who still human, remain unbound by that nostrum, with its offer of ready access to things buyable, or to indirect pride.
It is from the realm of the invisible that man finds his thrust (cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 9), man's chosen relationship to it, religion one variant, God the source, religion or no religion. It is ultimately, from His Creator's power and truth, reality and purity, whom no desire can buy or blight (Acts 8:18), since all desires in creation are accommodations from His omnipotence, and all impotencies are ultimately (including man's kind provision of activated sin, from the holy beauty of liberty as given) from His creation of the world, with its limits and opportunities. There spurious source is from first to last, from the adversities for sin, individually, in family, race, nation or philosophy, or fallen religion, their consequences, fortified by continued rebellion, indifference or dissidence, while blessed repentance and release yet beckons, before dissolution comes, as in the end, it will for this very world (Matthew 24:35).
This God has done, composed the good, with its opportunities and limits except by His own intervention, which man calls miracle but which may come in ways seen or unseen, with the adversities for sin, individually, in family, race, nation or philosophy, or fallen religion. Beyond this, there is He, Himself, whom nothing can limit, for circumscription with Him is not so, nor is any desire unattainable, nor is anything lacking which might be, that galls by its absence or compromises by its omission.
Yet with man, there is provision as well as will; there is reality as well as desire. There is God for companion as well as mentor, for recourse, resource, relief, intervention, access, inspiration, direction, guidance, help, and that presence which transforms the pedestrian into the propulsive, the dying into the dynamic and the lean and lonely into the ways of wonder, as the Psalm so acutely illustrate, and Psalm 107 epitomises, and Paul in the laboratory of life, historically attests for all time.
Man readily falls, and fails even in the pantomime of 'success' (Luke 16:15). Indeed, as Christ there says of some, "You are they who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." The way to hell is strewn with good intentions and honourable mentions.
The will may elect to go one way, and if pushed another, calluses form on unholy hands, in godless hearts and amid the grievous follies even found in some who, knowing God, yet fall from notably on some occasion, from the perfection sought, in this or that lapse. Like David, like Peter, be they great as they may, this may occur, leading to greater reliance on the Lord, greater humility, not in abstract art for imagination in life, but in the composure of the mind and the spirit.
Man has commerce with sin, and sin does not have commerce with God; and when a person falls, he either is the more mangled in psyche, mind or body or all three, or else gains pardon (as David, Psalm 51), if belonging to the Lord, then once more to be freed through faith in Christ from temporary entrammelments..
Then buffeted and purified, the Christian may once more will as he wills, being ready to respond to God's own will, infinitely great in scope, but often most comprehensible for choice, for it or against. Responding to the will of God is then within the scope of the will, and wiling it, it wills what is neither itself nor self-generated, for God is generated by none, and so wills as he will, entirely free because recognising his place, and its ways, and loving Him whose it is, seeking to secure its commandments and its flavour, savour and tang, in truth.
Since God is above all and beyond all but accessible to some who come as He provides, and not otherwise, many do not even know liberty of heart and mind, and dispense with, dismiss or despise the way to it; but once one is in it, through the door Jesus Christ, what had seemed bound is liberated, confining is expansive, and limiting is capacious in intimacy, as if one were living on vast plains with huge mountains nearby, and could delight in either, in the domain of Him who made both, and do so, even in His presence.
To those inured to the outside, it is a blind binding, and they cannot get beyond their sin, which they readily confuse with themselves, and that not surprisingly in view of its subtle interplay of passions and tendency to occupy the screen of life as cardinal monopolist. In this it may be abundantly helped by rationalisation instead of rationality, or by escape clauses - it would be nice to be always righteous, if one could, says one - and the like.
It is BECAUSE we are created, and God is able to govern our hearts, but does not force His way, that the will of man is NOT the ultimate, though ultimately, in God's knowledge of it before all time, there are results in time of man's final preferences, as viewed in the Lord. Known to the Lord, these are neither damped nor damaged in transit to truth, but by that very reality, yield to the God of truth, who desiring all, squashes none in imperial wastage of their wills, even though in history and time, this is precisely what they will do to themselves.
It is in HIS MIND, and not in creation itself, that all is furnished with reality, so that neither by the impact of momentary pang nor by distortion by this or that flavour of force is man brought low to the end, in judgment, but because he will not have it otherwise (John 3:19). To bypass the direct statements of God, in His negation of what is not so, as in John 3:15ff., or in affirmation of what He does denies is exegetical hallucination, and most common.
But the errors do not stand, and the word of God, which we investigate, shows 'mans' responsibility both toward the Lord, and for his life within Him, as David discerned so classically, seen in Psalm 51.
There is, then, another will that can come to man; one NOT subtly, or even in some flamboyantly, conditioned by sin. It is one instead, which opening to sunshine of His presence rather than murky mist of sightlessness, can come to flower, regenerated, realised, restored and once more operational. Such grace comes as unnatural to man, in his estate of sin, but restorative of his nature; and IN SO DOING, for him, God enables him once more to estimate according to reality, and to will FOR it or AGAINST it, in any particular case.
He then wills on a ground not his own, and is enabled to see past himself and his will, ways and even preferences, to what really is there, and what in truth it is, and so to know what he is doing, and will with desire and understanding mixed: but a holy desire as in the very presence of God. Then "all things are new" (II Corinthians 5); His will then is free, and not imprisoned; and though still capable of error, this 'new creation' can see it in the viewmaster reality of the Lord, in His divine and blessed presence.
If then he may smite his heart and repent of some failure, then at least he sees what he has done as it is, what he is doing as it might be, and the shaft of his will can ascend to God, saying, Not what I will, but what you will, then being near the summit of desire as He fashions his heart to the uplift streams of divine grace.
The Lord readily implies, instils or broadcasts to the conscience of man, to his spirit, what He would like, and moves the will of man, by light in the heart, to what is not a mere product of that will or heart, but of God, through divinely dowered vision and understanding, so that he may move with confidence, conviction and insight among invisible things which categorise and consider the visible, in the presence of God and the objectivities of His word. Thus action may be taken or not be taken within this scope, and indeed, in the intensities and immensities of the invisible realm itself, as when one puts paid to vengeance, for Christ sake, at the spiritual level, in the heart. Thus means may be divested in principle, before they even arise for consideration in particular.
Here is Alpha, the Lord at work, to release man's will to reality, or rebuke it, purge it, cleanse it, stir it to liveliness, to entice it, to sustain, so that man's will being voluntarily in delighted submission to Him, but still real and active, may accord consent to the walk in the light (Galatians 5:1, I John 1:7); or at times, he may stumble in erratic thrust or motion. Man therefore, when in the light of the Lord who made him, may freely will as he will, being aware of another will to which he may or may not conform in some episode (Galatians 5:17), however intrusive such a moment, like going off the road before waking up at its edge, when driving . This teaches his will more sobriety and discretion, and his disposition more watchfulness, if one be the Lord's.
He may, before that state of being a Christian, NOT do so, and so slip systematically, either knowing it or not. There, siince his basic heart conditions, the array of the invisible form or format within him, is binding, as sin binds, blinding, as obscuration binds. He may stumble here or there, but in withholding life from his premises, his will is in the ways of artificiality, superficiality, try as he may. So are these conditions diverse, contrary, the redeemed and restored, on the way where light reveals truth beyond but for man; and the obscured and obstructed, rejoicing in brambles, and calling them roses, forgetful of the missing flower.
Unsaved, ill-secured man may long, like the early Augustine, for liberty from his own will, but not find it; but finding Christ, being irresistibly converted in terms of time, and beyond this, through the Lord's divine knowledge from eternity, of his will in reality as before Him who made man in His own image, he discovers in deity his friend, and not the dynamic of delusion which so witheringly played the wanton, the admirable, the ingenious or the drab, as before.
Now, delivered through Jesus Christ the Redeemer, before and apart from all defilement, seen, known and chosen by God: he may then find a will for his will to follow, willingly. Nor is the choice of God based on his attainments, seen in advance or otherwise, or on his qualities (Ephesians 4:17-19, 2:1-12), far from it! Before all time and beyond the fall therefore, God is able to know His own, where sin creates no disparity of morals or superiority and inferiority of being: and what is His, He takes, and what will not, what prefers darkness, He leaves, and it is this which will not be awakened, and indeed, in historical life, many are the calls which may attest the realities! Thus God's preference for saving all mankind (Colossians 1:19ff.), moves where it may to do so, but never violates the will of what was in His own image.
Apart from the defilements of history, God knows His own, where love lodges. The knowledge before time and the calling in time alike are things wrought in heaven and performed on earth or when and how God wills by the everlasting Gospel of grace; it is in HIS knowledge that these things are so, for salvation is not of blood of or the will of man, but of God (John 1:12) and the will with which man is left in history, in sin, is too diseased to deliver itself. God however in Christ has borne sin, so that neither in its dynamic nor in its abandon, does it have the last word: it is God who has this, and He has it at the first.
THE FREEDOM GOD MADE FOR MAN,
IS TRULY DIVINE,
ITS DEPENDENCE UNIQUE, ITS LIBERTY NURTURED IN LOVE
Man loves to indict his will as an excuse for not paying the bill for his follies; but it is a separate folly to retain the wilfulness of the will; and it is one for which man is directly, divinely and clearly found guilty. Thus to will as you will is part of the condemnation, that it is NOT for you to IGNORE the laws and the love and the liberty obtainable in God, from what works woe within you, wilts you and by wiles assaults you, so that you become dead to its look, but alive to its lures.
If yielding to such things, then you ... forget yourself in remembering your will. This is not necessary, though in this or that measure (one weakness can bust the balloon, even if only at one point), it is as common as mankind, till he be liberated not by some junta with dreams, but by God with power, creative power, through the Gospel of His divine goodwill in Jesus Christ.
It is this which liberates the will of man, so that he can once more will as he will, BECAUSE now his will is operative, its just object and desideratum realised, and its place found, not in bonds, but in love, not in darkness, but in light, not in obfuscation that muddles, but in truth which liberates. Even Paul had no power against the truth (II Corinthians 12-13), but only for it. It is then that the thrill of replacing the bill from misspent will - whether in abstraction or misdirection - for its misuse, becomes the joy of its accredited use in ways most natural, with a liberty which is often justly emphasised by those who know God (cf. II Corinthians 3:17).
That very liberty, however, often remains, holus bolus, a thing of obscurity for those who do not know God who made them, who is ready to save them, and mighty to do it (Isaiah 63:1), since their wills are operationally still bound. They do not KNOW the Lord. It is an experience denied to those who deny Him: understandably!
Some try to invade the Christian territory, in which there is made once more available to man, who believes, the use of his will at the highest levels, and proceed to act as if their atheist or agnostic models were applicable to all, just because they are, in this deadening respect, such morbidities are applicable to themselves. This is mere model confusion, inept generallsation and unqualified and clumsy extension of a pathological state to the domain of happy healthiness in this respect: a result of their plight, as if someone with rheumatoid arthritis should imagine and act on the basis that all are the same, that none has known liberation from its perils, that all are prone to its bonds. Indeed some may wish it so and try to believe it, being frustrated with their condition, and unwilling for it to be changed, like slaves intent on remaining so, because it is convenient; yet wish is not salvation.
It is not least, doubtless, for this reason, that they have a domain without absolute truth, where they nevertheless pretend or claim they can spout it at the absolute level. Desiring a logic which when followed, insists on God, yet from this in their own special pleading, nevertheless they turn burningly, in furious self-indulgence: just as some have sought and found the Lord, yearningly. This blessed opening comes because it is He who would have all men liberated, but in love, and not by shove of any kind (cf. I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff., Ezekiel 33:11). His love is pure, controlled, constrained, not associated with violence; though justice will come when it is ignored, at length. Mercy distances judgment, and enables escape from it (cf. Hebrews 6:19), but it does not molest it.
Such is the way of liberty: it is not by man, but by God, and many of those who do not know God, including many who believe in the concept but do not bother or dare or care to follow the instructions of the Gospel to life in His grace; who accept any slavery, one as better than another, even that following a testimony such as this, 'I know nothing about these things', anti-testimonial blind people. This they may do, rather than adopt the service of the living God, according to His own way and will, who in His lawfulness, composed them, in His morality, comprised their basis, and in His liberty, allowed liberty, in His love made it perfected.
Past the soulless resemblances to mere mouthing in godless and all but mindless words, He calls to commitment, asks for surrender, His light penetrating in grace to that darkness which many of man's religions and philosophies constitute.
There IS a reckoning which comes (Acts 17), but it is never the case that the will of man is worked over, so that it is mere name, and man is compelled ultimately to come to the Lord in a blind and mere semblance of love, to the mockery of the reality of will; for it is with this making in the very image of God, that man comes, and many are redeemed, but not obliterated as creations of God, but rather restored to this mould (Colossians 3:10). Though the penetration of the love and the mercy of God to any soul must move past the obstructive obversion of his damaged will, inoperative in time at this level and plateau, this same will is not by any means unreachable in time. Here is a divinely detailed distinctive for man's deliverance: his will is not mauled by God who made it, but regarded.
Thus not only his mind and spirit, but even man's will in time must be rescued; for that coming to God is not by the will of man (John 1:12), is as sure as it is that here alone is the basis for divine exclusion, before all time, where pathology is not prince, and mercy is all-knowing as well (Jeremiah 1:5, Romans 8:29ff.), seeing past the ruined inabilities of the flesh, to know what cannot save itself. It is by the knowledge of God, by His profundity of mercy and grand scope of illimitable desire, that man is made free; and as to that knowledge, it is applied with this principle: that He would have all men to repent and to come to the knowledge of the truth and is in that, the Saviour of all men (I Timothy 2:1-6, Colossians 1:19ff., 4:10). Nothing, no theology, no idea can ever alter this, for it is the direct statement of the word of God.
Man is to be drawn (John 6), not shoved. That is the principle and in brilliance of mind and wonder of heart, and it is the Lord has wrought this (cf. The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4, Great Execrations ... Greater Faith Ch. 3, 7, Let's Be Reasonable ... Ch. 6), as no other can. Without Him, it cannot exist; in Him, it cannot fail.
THE DIVINE MOTIVATION MOVES RICHLY:
FULFILS ALL, EXPLAINS ALL, IN COMPANY WITH HIS WORD AND WORKS
THEREFORE God, in the very light of His expressly characterised coming, NOT to judge the world but that it might rather be saved (John 3:16ff.), , and in so doing, SO loving it that His enormous gift of His atoning Son would provide an offering so that people, the world, might not perish, but that they might have eternal life: still states the antidote to liberty clearly.
It is MAN who is the restrictive focus despite all this, and not God. To shift the reality as stated to mystery is to confound the glory of His love in its conspicuous universality of scope at the outset, with the results of its purity and restraint, in the inglorious consequences of man, in the onset, when this love is bypassed, this grace is noted and demoted. That is man, come or not.
As to the blessed God, He does not revoke what He has just said, but fulfils it. In man, not in God, is the barrier; and it is not to God only as God, the Creator, but to God the Saviour, set forth and having set forth not to judge, but to save the world through a testimony so vast that to render this provision in principle void, that man must come, and be found ready to come.
Being undisposed to it, known beyond their own injured souls, from eternity, many do not come; but this neither cancels the love of God, nor the yearning, for the foreknowledge is of what is, not what is not. If there were more to be done, God would have done it: and what He did do, it is not the pittance of a cold charity but the gift of the second person of the trinity in human form to untie the knot that binds man, and penetrate with light the darkness which surrounds his spirit. The fault lies only in man. The mystery, except that such love COULD BE, is the invention of man. The case is clear as light.
Here then is the love which cites of man the ground of exclusion from it in its universal outgoing scope: many PREFER darkness even to THIS, this ultimate light. This is the one which would save the world! and not judge it (John 3:17). Such is the heavenly towards that part of earth which is man; and such is the earthly of many in deletion of this expansive and uncontained gift's very arrival. Some reject the gift; some even would knowledgeably speak as if to reject its scope; but God remains unchanged, praise God!
It is BECAUSE He has so come with such motivation and such love, that therefore and without any qualification, those who do manage to perish in the light of this, are in this way and literally, blighters of their own offered deliverance.
It is not because these are irrelevant to His otherwise stated divine fire and desires, as if so made, nor are they so by some contrary and negating force which God omits to state, a datum which would qualify His intention contrary to the characterisation stated.
On the contrary, they do so ACCOUNTABLY, not for their sin in general, but for this their special and final sin of rejection in particular. Even that in its final disposition, is not because they were not free, but would not be; not indeed was it because theirs was in principle at the outset a foregone conclusion, based on omission of what might lie within them; for the ALPHA removes all such inhibitions at His own will and power. It is they who forego it, nor He who forgets or rubbishes it.
Thus rather is it that at the outset, foreknown, at the onset it is found that they have excluded themselves, voiding the illimitable outgoing love of God sent in Christ's deposition and action in this world. This they have done by remorseless and eternally applicable will, always resisting the Holy Spirit, as Stephen declared to some (Acts 7:51), in that historic case where characterisably, even previous generations surged in sympathy with misuse of the very word of God.
This, their rejection was for one stated reason, as an exemption from the stated scope, in John as in Colossians 1:19ff., of His divine love and desire to save all: it was for this very reason that they had a contrary preference, even in the face of such love on the part of Him for whom no technicality can be a barrier, and no contrariety a condition, except He make it so. Yet this He did not do, whose motivation is as stated, its amplitude as affirmed, and what it was NOT to do, is defined. He came to expose, not to impose, for He SO loved. What He did expose, however, was exposed in truth (John 9:39ff.).
With the positive is the negative. There is what He came to do for the world, to save it; and there what He did not come to do, whose motivation is as stated, its amplitude as affirmed. What He did NOT come to do, is as defined likewise. He came to expose, not to impose, to save, NOT to judge; for He SO loved. What He did expose, however, was exposed in truth (John 9:39ff.). Whatever then of judgment has followed, this was not the direct will of God, but contrary to it; it was instead the indirect result despite the willingness of God, which would present but not squash, enable but not dictate, offer but not use octopus strands, armies of arms; would liberate, but not by compulsion. We are dealing with the Christ, not the Communist, and His name is love, and not force.
It is true that in and by His knowledge, His foreknowledge*1 - which is filled with just such love as He declares on earth, who is unchangeable and whom Jesus Christ accurately represented as being Himself of the Godhead (John 8:58,Colossians 1:19ff.), the elect and others are KNOWN; but HOW they are known ? It is this which seems almost wilfully often to be neglected. It is by the will and power and nature of God as expressed in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever that it is known. WHOM HE FOREKNEW, He called and glorified, as Romans 9 tells us. But HOW and in WHOM did He know ? It was in this same Jesus Christ who lamented for loss, wept for Jerusalem, making it clear how wonderful had been her opportunity, presented when He came (Luke 19:42ff.), and how utterly lamentable was her failure to avail herself ot it. It is useless to construct myths. THIS is the heart of God as revealed by God both from heaven and on earth.
Operative on earth, it was no less operative in heaven; at work in history, it was before time in the same quality at work in foreknowledge and hence in predestination. Foreknowledge was forged in His own nature, that of the Father so manifested, and not in anything converse or otherwise conditioned.
Such divine knowledge is the guarantee not of the breach of His stated principles but of their being fulfilled! Such is God: not a ditherer or witherer, but abundant in grace. Certainly He is selective, but this not because the love did not reach so far in its desires, but because it was too chaste to impose, not only as here, but countless times in the Old Testament, where grief and not conquest would often occur, on the part of the One who is deity, who exhorted, attested, called and led, deferred, made new overtures and was represented in His message by the weeping prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9), as fully expressed in Christ, over Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 20, 33:11, II Chronicles 36).
Aborting what God has wrought is no part of His testimony, whether of man concerning Him, or of His actions towards man, whether to Israel of old or to the Gentile of late (Romans 11), whom He likewise exhorts not to be highminded, lest he fall too. What falls is what is not upright, and that is why it falls; and despising Israel is not to be desired either, for it is there sin, and is Gentile sin exempt from the name, and is Gentilic disgrace of another category, when many crucify Christ afresh in their hearts (Hebrews 10-12).
Thus, it is that THIS is the condemnation for any who in the face of such a provision, yet manage to miss it : LIGHT HAVING come, they preferred darkness. Jophn 3:19 will not budge. God in this is in utter contrast to man: the world is His stated saving target, and His love as immeasurable in scope, as here exposed, is opposed by this measurable in rejection. The latter is cited as the ground of the limitation of the results of the formerGOD so loved; but man preferred.
This is the contrast, and this is the result, known beforehand,, apparent in its day, resulting in great sorrow, to the utter grief of Christ, who wept over it with profound regret: and this, it was not for HIS exclusiveness, but for theirs. It is NOT that God, despite being so loving as so to send to such a suffering His own fellow, and doing so not to judge the world, but that the world might be saved, yet crimped the container and decided after all, to do that initial judgment, to abort the love, make Himself the determinant by and according to His own preference, His own will, and quit the stated scope of the enterprise. Then not the love but the preference would be the cause: that of God. This He contradicts.
No, He did not say: This is their condemnation, that such unrestricted love IN CHRIST having come that whoever believes should be saved, it has been changed by a more recent decree from Geneva or other. THIS, He does NOT say, is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and God did not let it extend beyond preferred parameters. Their are results, not to be confused with causes; there are standards not to be made concurrent with weakness. Indeed, it was not for weakness that Christ did not leave the Cross altogether; but because of strength of resolve and of purpose, to lose none for whom He had come, as He offered to all.
On the contrary, this He says: THIS is the condemnation in terms of such love so shown, and shown in a twosome, GOD and the WORLD (as in I Timothy 2, Colossians 1, in the same spheres), that man has preferred. It is in man that the short-circuit has resided, though over all this God in foreknowledge has presided. SO it has been made sure; but THIS is the thing SO made sure.
Indeed, if God, in the last (His) analysis (as in the first, His, analysis) is so undesirable to them, are they to wither in His presence, like divorcees forced to domesticity notwithstanding! or are they to have their will, unredeemed because of preference at the ultimate level. Is this to be overlooked while they are forced into a fraud! God has not forced them to heaven, to experience their will's abortion, in His presence undesired, nor has He so abused them as to secure in them, His image's deletion, amid dysfunction, as a failure. On the contrary, their will goes its way, like the rich young ruler in the day of Christ. He did not run after him...
God has desired at the most elemental level, and in a way known to Him, resolved the matter so that man's will, prior even to its formation in history, is seen in its fashion, eventual desire. It is in the knowledge of God, in this the final determinant, that this is so. Thus not to the detriment of the divine dynamic stated, but to its prosperity, some come, and some do not. Love, divine in kind, yes beyond all kinds of created love, love triumphs in power; but it does so in self-control: in constraint, yes but in restraint. In the end, what is so selected, assuredly comes; and what in His initial sight, is assuredly known, so comes.
Such is love, the love of God, and blessed are they who know its beauty.
It would have it to be so, that all come to the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2), and in that sense, the ransom is on behalf of all, as was the sacrifice for Israel, though it was not for what fiddled with it, but for those who found it in faith, for without faith you cannot even please God, far less obtain from Him the heart of it all (Deuteronomy 29:18ff., cf. Romans 8:32, where those for whom Christ is actually delivered up have ALL THINGS).
God would not have them simply refitted, like a car. Regeneration in reality, moving as love moves, where its place is found, this is the mode. It is regeneration of what is in the image of God, not as something which dashes this to the ground, but REDEEMS it.
What therefore in His own divine knowledge, prefers otherwise, does not come to a knowledge of the truth. At this, God is far from frustrated, since love does not will force; but grieve He does, for as in Ezekiel 20, again and again He seeks and allows and extends, He WORKS, He LABOURS repeatedly for them, so is His sorrow at their default. Despite His endeavours, His labours of forbearance and this in continuance, hey will not come till disaster arrives, the foreknown now the actual.
Now then, having researched a little what God has to say concerning His will and ways and love and desires for man, we return to the fact that gracious as is His kindness, and pure His love, yet there are outcomes, and there are incomes. If He who IS Alpha is omitted, then how much the greater are the perils and how much more is the result fraught with confusion, for those who make the omission, and run with it like a ball, taken over the line in some rugby match, in this case, champions in loss, for they hit the dirt indeed.
How much the more, on the other hand, is the disjunction from this very thing, with its incoming results, for those who remain on the level playing field, not fallen, but erect with a divinely donated rectitude, which has other ways in mind.
With the Alpha understood, and the Omega realised, the middle is then part of the path of duty to glory, of grace in truth, of peace to eternity; and the warfare, it is not for one's survival or for one's pride, but for truth in love. Love rejoices in the truth, and may indeed rebuke and chasten as seen in Revelation 3:19; it is consistent, persistent, principled, understanding and kind.
It is not silent. It acts. God acted; Christ did as instructed (John 12:48-50, 4:34), and performed the greatest of actions and the most noble of deeds, coming from the eternity of divinity in heaven, as man to enable the grant of redemption to man, free to man, costly to God (Philippians 2). He did not change His eternal identity in so doing, for God does not change, and Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever; but He took the format of man, even from the womb, and left no battle unmet, no humiliation untouched, no vulnerability relieved (cf. Matthew 4), in His search for His sheep, His willingness to extend (Mark 7:28-30).
In the middle of the way, with Alpha behind and Omega in front, not instead of these things, but OF them, the Christian being sanctified (II Corinthians 3:17-18) can rejoice, knowing where he has come from, whither he is going, to what he is called, with whom he is to go and with what provisions he is to carry out his duty. The pilgrimage with Christ is purifying; the post in Christ is clean and close; the precepts of Christ are upon the face like its colouring, and the glory of God is like a fire, not smitten into smouldering, aflame, maintained at all costs by His grace, of whom the Christian has this to say:
"who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling,
not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace,
which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
How glorious, that this world so filled with wonder and beauty and goodness, but so marred in its decimated domain, where a race so fallen is on trial and offered redemption, that we can look up and cry to the Creator and to the Redeemer, It is YOU who are Alpha and Omega, and beginning and the end of all creation! and then add: And by your grace, freely given, there IS no end to those of Your new creation, on whom Your light shines, who must suffer in truth in this world, but also WITH TRUTH, a joy past all suffering, and in love, to give it, a burden of joy and a grace of kindness from heaven.
See Predestination and Freewill, one volume in the 6 on predestination: the
ON PREDESTINATION and
LIBERTY and NECESSITY,
RESPONSIBILITY, DUTY and CREATIVITY
In particular in this context some aspects are to be noted, in the superb biblical context which removes problems of philosophy in this area entirely. Light informs; divine light liberates. The Lord is that light, and His word, the Bible, has unfailing batteries.
No other means is available to explain the extraordinary human powers of liberty and the presence of divergent programmatics, both to have them and to produce them, than the points about to follow, focus, as the case in the Gospel and grace of the living God.
This, the living and available God, on whose name all are pressed to call, is He who sent His Son to die, not to oppress, not merely to share, but to save. What is required to break the philosophic deadlock of things determined and things free ? There is only one set which gives all that is needed, the unique power and orientation required, and with this, provides the most fitting, apt and coherently sufficient coverage of the case, so that the solution to what has vexed philosophers for generations, almost falls into place, and then fills the place, This is indeed so, when it is taken out of that place where God put it, the Bible.
1) There is One who is beyond man, whose power and will can be known, so that man is not shut in either to himself and his own will (except by choice), or to his preoccupations, but rather open to action from beyond himself.
2) This enables man's willing beyond his own will, moving from confinement within its limitations as a closed circuit, which is in parallel, the case with other unrealised fragments or powers. No more is it in principle, in this domain as operative, shut to overview, merely self-expressive within itself, as itself. That closure overcome by the open presence of God, hence there can be freedom OF the will, as distinct from (some) freedom for the will merely to express itself: freedom to BE, itself, other than it is.
This personal beyond-ness, the Being of its Creator, is also cognate, in the sense that He made man in his own image, not of course over all eternity (since man in fact was created in and with time), nor with a dowered omnipotence (since man is dependent for very life, as well as format, on God): but so that reasonable fellowship, even in depth, could occur. Hence the divine oversight is not programmatic, reductionist or merely meddlesome or manipulative, but personal as man is.
Thus man's will meets a will of which man may be cognisant, over him; but this not oppressively or unknowably distancing him. Thus what man wills, and what his condition and position now is, can be dealt with in its own integrity, by God.
3) As God is omnipotent, without limit, there is nothing He needs, nor desires as if to satisfy a condition, kink, or repression, or any other thing; for He needs neither things external nor internal, as if His condition were granted by another thing or being, installed or made by another, and He had to put up with it. Hence there is only the question of giving, and in the case of man, it is where significance and understanding, wisdom and knowledge, truth and love, peace and piety may be received.
There is no room for exploitation, manipulation or misuse for ulterior motives; so that man is free to relate or not, as he may. Hence a pure love is able to promote, but does not overpower an unwilling heart.
4) Since being granted liberty, man fell, and his fall still echoes in his distorted psychology, broken- hearted ambitiousness and exploitation, one of another, lies, ludicrous pseudo-self-sufficiency and amazing indifference, these various and variable parts of the syndrome of a failed creation in the image of God, together with many other similar features and qualities. This being so, the case of the freeing of his will is difficult and costly.
5) Hence when God sent His only begotten Son to exhibit truth in living format as man, and to die if by any means this world might be saved, individual by individual - and some, indeed many have been so saved - to breach death and to offer free pardon and justification for ever, through eternal redemption, His unique action resounded to the heavens, throughout the earth. In this way, He evidenced empirically what is true in principle, of His love, the extent of it and its personal character, even from the heart, even to death.
Thus the case is not only abstract in principle, propositionalisable in concept, but attested in person.
6) This is fitting
as it means that God not only CAN envisage what sin means for man, and the mode
of liberation, but has experienced in Person the depth of the horror of it, and
the cost of it.
Indeed, having paid sufficiently for all (I John 2:1-2), effectively for many (Matthew 20:28, Isaiah 53:1-6), the 'healed' whose sins He in fact bears, this need He has met in the same personal way, just as in His divine foreknowledge, all these things were known and the results obtained. So in the divine glory, was all known that would come to be, even before sin so much as set its distorting and defective detriment on man, so making even his will a wobbly entity, inexpert, challenged and chained, in large measure, a pathos of pathology before God.
7) It also means that just as man is damaged, and needs this divine but liberating oversight of his will, he needs a liberating insight and operation for his ways. A will which wills in vain, is not gifted with liberty. It would be like a catherine wheel, in fireworks, fizzling out its strength, and not going anywhere. Thus in the Christ-plan, man's very nature is regenerated, so that no more in chains, he can live; but it is more than that.
8) Since his nature is distorted by sin, disabled in its liberty and purity, especially when it proclaims itself, thus there is no way he COULD pay back God.
In the Gospel, this is not only required, but it is utterly requisite that man realise this point (Galatians 1, 3, 5, Ephesians 2, 4, Titus 3), and does not even TRY to pay back what his spoiled nature has done. This would be like trying to make a defective heart work, though a new one is available and needs to be imparted.
Since the standard is perfection (in heaven, which thus is heaven in the grace of God), there is nothing man could do. In fact, it is in Christ's WORK, which HE DID, that the cost is paid, the difference is made up (Matthew 20:28, Galatians 30, II Corinthians 5:17ff.). Hence this potential basis of exclusion is also met, and man is liberated on this front as well, and so can will freely in the presence of the God who saved him, without the incubus of meeting impossible conditions.
9) Love, the love of God, as seen in Jeremiah's lament (Jeremiah 9 and Lamentations) and in the lamentation of Christ over the forthcoming destruction of Jerusalem (because it did not realise, even in that its great day of opportunity, the things which, in Christ and His Gospel, belonged to its peace - Luke 19:42ff.), is chaste. It does not desire to violate. Hence in the case of God, if one can so put it of Him who is unique to infinity, there is no question either of His misusing His power, misunderstanding or misconceiving man's plight in the slightest fashion, or of failing to comprehend the delicacy of the case. He made man well; He understands the way for a sick being whose very will is disturbed, distorted and disoriented in much, or driving as on a charger.
Love and liberty are indeed inseparable, when it comes to the soul of man, that is, the love of the One whose knowledge, power, perspective and understanding enable superior action beyond the condition and nature of man, yet this without burrowing into his will, as if programmatically or compulsively to seduce or overcome it. It is precisely because of the purity of divine love that man may be set free, for love seeks the good, not the mere control of its object: not its own! Such a distortion in liberation is thus completely avoided. What essentially is there, in redemption, is conserved and regained, in this not lost in transition. He who loses his life for Christ, finds it (Matthew 10:39).
10) As God is love - that is, there is nothing in Him which contradicts, smites, compromises or reduces love to a mere contestant, or allows it to be seized by desire, and so made mere oppression (I John 4:7ff.), liberty in Him, once He is known, being received: this MEANS being at peace in such a milieu, and not finding it a hell for impassioned powers of lust and self-will. Man is not lassoed but released. Love unloved can be hated; but it is not so with God. Those who love Him are, and all such will be, with Him. Those who do not, will not be so. Hence complete liberty of will becomes normative, for the will by this time having freely received the love of God and desiring Him, with it, desires so to live.
Meanwhile God, having made man in His own image, neither desires to suppress nor to drive man, but to bring to him inspiration, illumination, courage, character and the joy of life so abundant, that sin's coils seem like a python exterminated, not a life lost.
Man was not made in God's image in order not to be free (within obvious limits, since man is a creation, and not the lawgiver of the universe nor is he omnipotent); but rather, within the comparable realm of fellowship, he was created to be as a son, a daughter with the Father. Moreover, it was as a brother or sister to the Saviour. Hence in the fulfilment, where the Lord's Christ, Jesus Christ is received, distortions removed, love evocative, man loves the life of God in and through Him; he loves its non-autonomous and yet gloriously lively opportunities.
No longer does man, when so placed, desire JUST TO BE HIMSELF; but being what he is, desires life to the uttermost in the post, position, calling and grace of God, in fellowship supreme and superb with his Father, now his by adoption, which was wrought by God Himself (cf. John 17:8,22-26, Revelation 22).
Thus is liberty regained, without autonomy's false boast; and containment does not vanish, since there is but one God: but what man is, he then rejoices to be, and in this life, is lifted to the uttermost peak of survey and joy, personal with the personal, redeemed product of God, more than this, one redeemed personally to be in person to Person contact and communion with God, in face to face intensity of experience and joy, with God Himself (I Corinthians 13:12, Revelation 22:4).