Bulletin one hundred and sixty four
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NOT GOD BUT MAN IS RESPONSIBLE NOT ONLY FOR SIN
BUT FOR THE FREQUENT REJECTION OF THE GOSPEL
(Isaiah 48:15ff., Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff.)
Biblical TRUTH OMITS NOTHING
convenient, ultra brief coverage, here given in 14 major points, read below.
As noted in my M.A. thesis at Melbourne University, it is from the Bible only, as we have discovered a full and harmonious coverage of such a theme.
There only is that array to be found of propositions on this theme, that solves the otherwise chronic matter of predestination and freewill. Here is a triumph as usual from that source, over the slants and superficialities of normal human philosophy. The Bible shows the mind of God, and should in this, as in all things, be heeded. Here is the simple fact that it resolves the whole issue.
This affects us all. We are not alone in a careless or carefree or foundling or unproductive derivative of nothing , but in the presence of a massif, namely the infinity of wisdom of the mind of God, covering the given matter in form, mathematics, programmatics, containment and law, while giving advice and command. If, in this arena and without such provisions, you find only confusion, there is only to be expected; for it is as if to say that 2 and 3 equals 3.5, but only on Wednesday. God has law, system and purpose, and the configurations of the stars are just one other, marvellously ordered system, with a creativity as staggering to the mentality of man as the work of the Infinite Being and Creator would lead to expect. But many flounder, mistaking the infinite for the finite, the unbounded for the product, and have oddities in mind, like 'nature' making it all even before it was there to do it.
Though such a thoughtless step in acting as if to dispossess the Almighty and His word (though not His works of which we are one!) may seem free, it is just as free as insisting on driving on the left side of the road, when law deems it right to use the right lane, or insisting on lawlessness till everybody on the road is dead.
94:9-10 declares through questioning:
"He who plants the ear, shall He not hear ?
He who formed the eye, shall He not see,
He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct - He who teaches man knowledge!"
Ten relevant propositions in our current theme of predestination and freewill are spelt out as derived from the Bible, in the thesis noted above; but here it is a matter of basics for orientation presented in a more common manner for orientation.
There is no ultimate human choice by
the human will (John 1:12).
HIS is the choice
a) of human nature and its liberty, being expression spiritually, in His image.
b) of the remedial Gospel, and its character (Galatians 1).
c) of the unmeritorious liberty of man as in divine foreknowledge (not imperial command but foreknowledge), and this of the freedom conferred on man, which and through which he may act. For the ultimate questions of allegiance and submission to God, and liberty towards Him, this being the basis and necessity for love, rather than robotic reaction to the despotic (cf. Joshua 2:15), He has elemental knowledge from before our kind of time, not confounded by His own creation. Adam and Eve had this as foundational and basic for their crucial test.
Mankind in his myriads is a fallen creation, and that is a very mild manner of putting it (Ephesians 4:17-19). Spiritual pathology, however does not remake them, but foils and spoils; yet nothing is too hard for the Lord as we shall see once more (Hebrews 4:13, Luke 1:37) and despite the complexities of human mischief and misadventure (as illustrated in the parable, Matthew 13:3-9,18-23), the human heart is well penetrable by the Lord at every level; yet not in order to boss a mere manufacture (cf. Psalm 78, Ezekiel 34. Micah 6:3-8, Ephesians 3:14-20).
God deals with love, not force in these personal fields. What is free cannot be from the first be determinative of life and destiny for one rather another, nor can love be an axe rather than mutual (Colossians 1:19), as if a desire called love, for all things to be reconciled as in this verse, were the same as HAVING them. Restraint is a major element of love since it shows concern for the one loved (Matthew 23:37ff.).
How desolated He is, He even weeps, at the now coming desolation of the city He loves, for its citizens. Why ? It was because though He had provided the day of opportunity for them, they did not perceive it, and so are left to languish: THIS IS the condemnation that light has come, and ultimately, they prefer darkness (John 3:19). It is one thing to be told; it is quite another to heed this, whether in exegesis or in life.
The Calvinistic device of trying to make the Father's will differentiate here from Christ's is a Christology so appalling and a disjunction from the word of God so total at this point (John 12:48-50), as to show the failure quite simply to follow the word of God and institute in direct derogation, that of human philosophy (Colossians 2:8, John 17:22, Colossians 2:9), as attested in detail in the thesis mentioned. At this point in the Institutes of Calvin, there is a Challenger rocket type failure as real as that of Arminius for is own part, as found in John 1:12.
What works in solving the challenge of this theme is following what is there, in the Bible, each principle, not some of it. It is as with the laws of physics: they are not available for change, but discovery and exposure! (Matthew 5:17-20, I Thessalonians 2:13, and that without addition - as in Jeremiah 23, or qualification (John 12:48-50, Isaiah 34:16-17).
The sovereign activation of the integrity of human freedom, which being liberty does not depend on the constitutive inclination of man, whether programmatic or otherwise is often made manifest in the word of God. Isaiah 48:ff. is an excellently clear exercise in acute divine grief that Israel did not follow another course, one eminently desired for it as by a father, one lost by failure to take it. Though it was meant for good and tender-hearted blessing, its loss not only led to their crumbling, but also to all the reflective sadness of God that they took another course flagrantly contrary to the one He had in view, with all its reality and potential before Him for them.
Sovereignty is one thing and God has it to the full (cf. Ephesians 1:11), but that is only the beginning. What SORT or what is the CHARACTER and nature of the sovereign comes next. Some act as if sovereignty were an imposition on God instead of a divinely personal and personally divine entity to be found by what He does and says. It is this and not by some political analogy or personal preference presumed for 'sovereignty'; for the Bible is the word of GOD, not a suggestion box by means of ill-chosen vocabulary, begging the question or other device.
He works, we read, everything after the counsel of His own will: what that will is for Him to indicate, not for God-makers.
God's assessment of the free disposition of the human heart comes in divine foreknowledge (not humanly determined, but the dealing of deity) as seen in Romans 8:29ff..Known to Him, not by what a person will do in history, but above and beyond this, is the salvation circuit from foreknowledge through the preserving offices of predestination to glory, and Ephesians 1:4. He knows His sheep.
So far, then, from becoming one of His saved souls or people, being the ultimate act of the human will (John 15:16), in the passage of events before our kind of time existed, before creation and hence before human sin as well as being, prior to the settled blindness of human nature in relation to God, dispersal of understanding, what is the biblical position ? It is this: that it is not as a matter of force as with the dictators that the Creator acts: instead, it is a divine seeking in love (Colossians 1:19, Luke 19:10). Indeed, He had already prepared for it with the provision for the Gospel in advance of all creation (Revelation 13:8, Ephesians 1:4-6).
It was thus He had the knowledge of and solution for the condition of the human heart, which was to come in due course, and with this in view, assigned, therefore freely, due destiny through the reliabilities of predestination (Romans 8:30ff.) following on, conserving the assured foreknowledge through calling, justification and glorification.
God resolved to sacrifice Himself as provision for those who would be His and for any who in reality would be believers, rather than His love through turning it into force, as some people do, whether by mere thrust or canny cunning. Hence the call and consequence in the mercy of the loving God is incarnation, humiliation, place as a sin sacrifice, offered to all, taken by some (I John 2:1. Psalm 40:1-6, John 3:16). Hence incarnation, which this Psalm 40 predicts, and indeed the death date, giving man so long to ponder, centuries beforehand, as in Daniel 9 (Bulletin 159).
Whatever person in truth, certainty and reality believed, would not perish but have eternal life. Imagine the horror of NOT wanting such divine jurisdiction and not finding it delightful at all: for such persons, heaven would be hell. For my part, being in the living presence of a prodigal love despite crucial sin in a wonder of wisdom was in itself almost heaven already; being where it was assuredly sustained as well was to be reaching new heights.
This is the domain sought for man by God, bypassing pathology of spirit, so that the outcome is home for those who desire it; and on the other hand, one of being at last forsaken, through the negative craving or desire of those who would prefer it so (John 3:19). Though the hope is false, the confidence null, their desire is to try otherwise and they gain it...
The divine reality, God, acts without being invasive or evasive (I John 4:9-16).
Man is responsible for his destiny and sought by all the means of love, to the point of staggering divine sacrifice, none finding judgment except those who in fact or in equivalent have heard yet not received, as in John 15:21ff.. Freedom, responsibility and sovereignty mingle, and are not mangled. Reality does not disappear, but is met. Sacrifice, sovereignty and wisdom make a beautiful blend.
In essence, in Colossians 1:19, God would have all come, but takes only some, restraining His desire in terms of the foundational construction of man, for "known to God from eternity are all His works" (Acts 15:18), and this is "the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:29, bold added).
He neither resigns divine sovereignty nor violates human liberty, in profundity bypassing its pathology now resident in man, in terms of ultimates known only to God. One bonus is this, that anyone who imagines he or she is overlooked has only to repent of a conglomeration of errors, turn to the Lord, ask for salvation, and receive (John 1:12) the gift of eternal life. If so, this is the fulfilment of the foreknowledge; as is the opposite case. Accordingly, His divine principles gloriously contain both justice and mercy (Psalm 89:14), love and self-limiting restraint in the application of that love: for God is love (I John 4:9-16).
In the Gospel, John 3:16-18 shows the qualitative extent of His love, "so loved that..." to be so uninhibited by any narrowness of liberality that whoever believes in this Saviour will be saved and not perish (John 15:22ff.). If then, in fact, this love were not so limited that only those in some sub-group may be saved if they believe, and it is only these who relate to the expansive offer of salvation, then that would therefore be as false advertisement, constituting a spuriously unqualified offer, the love actually then being of another and less impactive order! Fiddling about with the word of God is like playing with a two foot scorpion (II Corinthians 4:2). The quality of the divine love is as described in John 3:16 and variant versions as if to narrow the intent reveal the insertion of human philosophy in the beautiful domain of divine realities.
Yet no one knows God like Himself! It is as in the Bible that the harmony is total, perfect and complete. Underlying purpose is one thing; overlying methods in view in the attainment of these are another. Neither the laws of physics nor the love of God are re-stylised or re-written for the sake of personal preference in the annals of philosophy, nor does truth shiver at the onset of human derision, as Christ showed so well on the cross! That the derision itself is worthy of derision did not make it necessary to express; on the cross in this sheer bloc of slanderous heartlessness, Christ was silent.
There is no sleight of hand about the love of God any more than in the death of the body, and its breach of death in the long foretold and transforming resurrection (Hosea 13:14, Psalm 16). There is no limit in this provision, in its scope, intent and magnificent totality. God met man's condition and his disaster in two major ways: protestation and action, both unlimited in kind and characterisation (Ezekiel 33:11 with John 3:16). The redemption did not occur where the cheque was not received, for the sharing in the unsearchable riches of Christ, in the available pardon. Thus there indeed is no universal redemption as if to pay for those who do not desire it, but there is universal offer (I John 2:1) which is indeed not bogus, but bought with blood.
Indeed, the light is so liberating (John 3:19) that THIS "is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men have PREFERRED darkness." That is the simple outcome for those in the entire field, operation and overcoming of man's fallen condition in appointing salvation where it belongs, with guilt where it belongs and love where it is accepted.
If this world is manifestly as a system and mode of life, rapidly approaching extinction (Matthew 24:22,35), some however are to be found. Moreover, rather recently and indeed in my own lifetime, even in this world there was far more and far more contrasting concentration by many on the things of beauty and peace and truth and mercy, with less glorification of mere rapacity, as though endless destructions were an adornment, a folly pressed on by current myths (now very popular as foretold in I Timothy 4:3-4, Matthew 24:11-14, II Timothy 3:3-7).