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BULLETIN ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT
WHERE BREVITY COUNTS and
THE WORD OF GOD FASHIONS
Continued in Bulletin 115.
WHERE CLARITY COUNTS
Predestination involves a preceding foreknowledge.
Foreknowledge is what God, prior to creation and thus before human sin, pre-ascertained, pre-envisaged, saw to be the direction of preference of each soul, whether for Him or against Him, for Christ or against, for salvation by grace or not.
Predestination is the assignment, and consignment, and hence though final and sure, depends on the foreknowledge coming in the order of Romans 8:29ff.. The nature of this is crucial to understanding.
Thus there is double predestination, as in Ephesians 1:4 and I Peter 2:8. Though this is divinely related to the direction of human volition, yet it is inviolately found, and in a scenario where the divine desire for all to be saved was active as Colossians 1:19ff., though the Lord was willing in truly divine dimensions, for this to be aborted. Love that is founded on force, deception or manipulation is merely an empty name, and rather than align to such schema, God was prepared to suffer the grief of the lack of scope for its application, as shown so profoundly in Matthew 23:37, and Luke 19:42. It is as in Isaiah 48, with a sorrow of profundity and ultimacy, "O that you had heeded My commandments, then your peace would have been like a river... "
Further, the Gospel in terms of which the provision is made, is sovereignly selected by God, as is the mode of application, as is the mode of ascertainment of the result, wrought by none other than God Himself, and not dependent on the blood, or will of the flesh of man.
Indeed, the achievement of a creation where freedom is incorporated in its construction and function, is part of the wonder of the beauty of the entire domain. Hence any thought of a determined or pre-determined outcome in some mysterious or imposed fashion, is incredibly horrible and contrary to all revelation in the Bible concerning the character and nature of God, and is as outré as having the moon made of a rather putrid gorgonzolla.
If that pre-weighting of the soul were so, freedom only an appearance, then the situation would be a deception for Adam and the judgment following his ill-advised action a fraud, the whole situation a bumble and the assumption would at best be of divine technical failure is creating liberty of choice for reward or punishment, in terms of obedience and faith. In fact, the divine deliverance in revelation of the nature of foreknowledge and predestination may be conceived as a MODEL, and the model in which materialistic machinations take over is merely an invention of man, in a HUMANLY CONTRIVED MODEL where freedom has no existence is the mere use of confusion of models, to impose a hybrid of obviously ridiculous irrelevance, as in any other confusion of models.
Fascinatingly, the attitude and principles shown in Christ as man, He being unchangeable in nature and divine so that "he who has seen Me has seen the Father," and He, far from being a mock-up, or a denudation in character and being, was Himself "the truth" , are always true. His attitude to loss of an open salvation through misused opportunity is just the same as the divine one so often manifest in the Old Testament. Indeed, to imagine it otherwise not only have you made a new and anti-scriptural christology, making purposes the ground for deception, as if Christ were not what He said He was, but it is as if to make another heart for God. When God says what He would have done (Matthew 23:37 for example), He means it, and sets it in our midst as in a diamond casket, in terms of divine revelation.
We are not at liberty to construct an alternative version. What He divulged on earth, as God, the nature of God and His mode of sovereignty and love, that is true in heaven or anywhere else, at this time or at any other. Relish it, for it is reality; and what reality!
God does not change (Psalm 102:27, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 1:12). What Christ showed in purpose and heart in this matter of eternal significance, is true of the divine purpose and nature, whether in foreknowledge or elsewhere; and what is there foreknown is what it carried out in predestination, the executive phase, which acts as a guarantee against confusion, error and trickery or treachery or distortion by any part or party, being a fulfilment of the intensive love of God which was so great that He actually gave His only begotten son, and in so doing so loved the world, not just a part of it.
In other words, it is God who sovereignly selects the remedy for man, its criterion, its mode of application, and makes its assessment. It is not a matter of the blood or will of diseased and defaulted man, sovereignly operative at all, but the divine discernment of the preference of each soul. God did not abandon the nature, in His own image, of His human creation, nor did He use its fallen powers to act, but performed the task Himself before sin entered, our time was and errant consequences shouted their mind.
Hence He Himself tells us what He WOULD have done IF the offending party had LISTENED. God is not saying He opposed Himself, but that He vehemently wanted those concerned to repent, and listen, heed, respond, but SINCE they chose not to, therefore He most reluctantly let them go. As He says in Psalm 81, "But My people would not heed My voice and Israel would have none of Me, so I gave them over to their own stubborn heart." He did not give them over and SO they would not listen; the divine diction is the opposite. They would not listen and SO He gave them over. "O that My people would listen to Me!" the deity exclaims, even the One who made man in His own image, and He lists all the things which, in accord with His earnest desire for the people, zealously seeking in heart, He WOULD HAVE DONE.
You have the same sequence and cause and effect relationship in terms of divine desire (over-ridden by divine purity which does not use force or contrivance to manipulate) in Isaiah 48:15ff., to a degree acutely poignant, in Jeremiah 48, in Matthew 23:37ff. to the point of weeping, in Luke19:42ff., and in principle in I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff. in direct underlying principle. WHY do even today do many called His people not listen to His voice, and invent what does not accord with His word, even to the point of the lapse into false Christology, at one major segment in the case of Calvin! (when expounding Matthew 23:37 in his Institutes).
It is necessary to listen always in all things. There is no luxury holiday from the holy scriptures available, though divisive jaunts seem often taken!
AND THE WORD OF GOD FASHIONS
It is well now to investigate a little further the array of foreknowledge, predestination, the Fall of man, the state of sin within and the role of will or preference distinctively in the human situation. Did God manage to treat human will in its integrity and yet remain sovereign of the entire situation ?
It is just one of His marvels, that having invented freedom He knows how to make it relevantly operative in man, relative to HIMSELF. He knows how to create, to bless, to curse and to cure. He is not limited by man but by His own conditions and certifications. Man in His image ? He can make, bless, curse, remedy and still avoid forcing, shanghaiing the unwilling or other features that would nullify His own invention, substitute robots for man, or caricatures for people. God is very wonderful.
In fact, God shows a spectacular tenderness in His sure and authentic love to man.
Thus the biblical criteria are not a simple matter of doing what you would do is you could do as if by imagination you were transported back to the garden of Eden and just freely chose to honour and recognise God, or not. The nature of the case is not that (Romans 5:14). It is not merely hypothetical but hypostatic.
That means that it is not a mere overview, but an occurrence. It is not something figured but something wrought, achieved. As in Romans 8, it is God who DOES the foreknowing SO THAT the predestining then occurs, making sure the results of this knowledge, so moving on to salvation, justification, glorification. The clammy calamities of the Fall do not mar your mind, distort your reason or capture your will, nor is it like some equation or oddity. Profound it surely is as the Lord foreknows His own (Ephesians 1:4) and those to stumble, but its reality is not diminished before the sovereign God who is not to be limited, though His principles described as applied remain sure. It is real, authentic application of divine desire without crushing of relevant liberty towards Himself, and with historic results.
In other words, this foreknowledge and predestination is by no means an automatic alignment, nor is it a mere sovereign dictation, though it ends in His choice, for it is in a field divinely donated for freedom, He too being free, though not only in part or in a certain respect but entirely and absolutely. It is IN PRINCIPLE not a mystery but a staggeringly clear report. It involves an active discernment just as He both claims and desires, on His part toward man. This is done in His own terms of pardon, His choice of divine initiative in making the Gospel, on His site of knowledge before creation was even given the power to exist, and in all this, of His sovereignty; and it is He who ascribes the key to result, as well as the conditions.
Thus in this divine foreknowledge and at its level, the 'flesh' does not even exist, far less manipulate man. Having made freedom for man in much (though only in its appointed place), but especially in his relationship to God, He ensures that no other sovereign but He in these original conditions, establishes the conditions or interferes with the purity and integrity of the result. It is straight, sure and clear. No one is permitted to distort the result, and He does not being truth itself, His word and reality corresponding. He is no dissatisfied inhabitant of a system, but all system depends on Him. In His own divine form, He so observes and then assigns foreknowledge and predestination in that order as in Romans 8:29ff..
Thus He neither calls destiny unknown as to its basis (but very much the insistent and persistent contrary) far less unknowable, as to its basis, though of course when He has acted in the form of God, He does not display the mode of fulfilling His oft stated principles, nor give us a handbook on divine technology. It is the principles to be applied, which are both ceaselessly in view, repeatedly propounded with their results lamented when man takes a path other than the one divinely desires, so courting destruction (cf. Isaiah 48:15ff.).
These principles which He chooses to observe are clear, stated and stipulated to the point of being masterfully obvious. How many fail to follow what He exhorts all to do, and how vast and vastly undesired are the results, and how near and ready in a very available manner, were the places of rest (as in a hen gathering her chickens, or someone realising an opportunity). How deplorable was the failure; but distinctively and contrary to all reasonable expectation, the obvious was avoided, the natural was spurned! You do always resist the Holy Spirit, said Stephen (Acts 7).
This was not a natural result, demanding only one response from the victim, but a mounting rebellion where peace was sought and to be expected as the God of creation exhibited and exposed the distortion of sin, even in His own clarifying presence, as it often comes to be, thus removing the marring mandate of sin to necessitate blindness. It is resultant, and in nature able to be invaded with light, and often is, even when like Saul, the party shies away in the end. The principles of God having made man in His own image, are not subverted by sin, though the psyche be invaded by its paralysing dynamic.
With God all things are possible, including the power to penetrate the mind and soul of man, in accord with foreknowledge, and that to deliver from mere sovereignly of whatever is false and fraudulent into His own redemption when the foreknown PREFERENCE (as in John 3:19) of a person is not selectively abortive. Neither flesh nor will of that flesh is the cause (John 1:13) of selection, but the preference as foreknown and also able to be perceived if so divinely desired, later in history. Seen before sin came, this is in the divine hands of the Saviour whose distinctive love was shown in history.
Systematically He is by His own nature and word, the sure and secure basis for the non-abuse of love by using any kind of mere force to secure, such as many who imagine they are IN LOVE, often yield to, so making a mockery of God. This provision enables liberty and love to be real, and not an artefact. God does not act in vain but with deepest knowledge and inflexible purity, unalignable by nature, sensitive to purpose at all times.
It is in terms of those specialised purposes that He always does what He will (Psalm 115). He is unique, for He not only does not fail to be pure and fair, but this is His nature, so securing the nature of freedom and the reality of love.
Again, in John 3, and 1, that we find in the grand context of what God did and does, defining the work of creation, and of the status and salvation regarding the Word of God, His equal and expression, the nature of His incarnation, the penetration He made as the light, with the pall of darkness seeking to engulf, and the distinguishing reference to "as many as received Him," with that failure of darkness to keep them. Just as in John 3, it is a love which embraces His target in the whole world, which gains "whosoever" so aborting the devil's defences and enabling this cited love to fulfil its quest in integrity. Such is the power of God whether to create a new universe, or to create a new heart, to overcome the natural products of man's sin in confusion, by His presence and to take some from the mass and the morass of man.
The reception was not deception. It was endowed with reality, and consummatory of love.
How express and explicit is He who then having shown us the light, His word, exhibits the reason for so many starkly departing from such spectacular divine provisions for our delight and welfare, and even being condemned in the midst of all this, notwithstanding the magnificence. It is in John 3:19 that God categorically assigns this intrusive and ruinous reason. It is as not only here but elsewhere that God as noted in numbers of Chapters throughout this site (cf. The Shadow of Mighty Rock, Appendix B). it is because God sees in them a preference for darkness. This is elemental and distinctive from that of those who do not have this particular preference in the presence of the Light. We are even told the ground of this distinctive and deadly preference on the part of some: it is because "their deeds were evil."
That is the stated opinion of the Almighty, wisdom of the Word and lively assignment throughout the Bible. To neglect this is exceedingly dangerous as is the use of the term 'mystery' to dismiss this truth. There is as in I Corinthians 13, much to learn about God, but how and why and whether to transgress and categorically deny what He asserts or contradict the principles He announces, is not one of them.