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 23 major points, read the
listing five paragraphs 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. What it teaches meets every aspect of the case as nothing else does, or has done
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*P. 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, abandoned as if we w ere a careless or carefree or foundling or unproductive derivative of nothing , but placed in the presence of a massif, namely the infinity of wisdom of the mind of God. Here is covered the given matter which He made, in its form, mathematics, programmatics, containment and law, while in the self-attesting Bible, He is giving advice and command to the persons constituting mankind, for whom these things provide equipment and opportunities, or may function as tests or openings for an operating faith which is subdued to the Maker, but not to this subordinate stage, this construction to enable human action. Thaat i s idolatry, mesmerism with mere substructure, rather like a baby thrilled with its rattle.
Indeed, this constricting, though magnificent, construction which lies below the personal level, in the world, also has its place in the human body which provides a direct agency for persons.
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 one 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 or to increase freedom, 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!"
Twenty three relevant propositions in our current theme of predestination and freewill are below spelt out as derived from the Bible. We are told to seek understanding (Psalm 14:2, Proverbs 14:6, 28:5; 8) and it is good to pursue this concerning the mind of one's Maker, and for this His word is the munificent provision given. It is when you seek Him, who IS understanding, that this thrives.
As to our topic, the matters are more extensively treated in the thesis noted above; but here it is a matter of basics for orientation presented in a more common manner for orientation and developments to enrich the coverage. Note the following results then found from the Bible in the matter of man and God and destiny.
There is no ultimate human choice by the human will (John 1:12).
It is He who made him, who exercises the choice (John 15:16) of His own (Ephesians 1:4, cf. I Peter 2:8).
Indeed His choice includes that
a) of human nature and its liberty, being His 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), as applicable to the freedom conferred on man, which and through which he may act. For the ultimate questions of allegiance and submission to God, or otherwise, and liberty towards Him, this being the basis and necessity for love, rather than robotic reaction to the despotic (cf. Joshua 2:15), God has elemental, absolute knowledge.
This is from before our kind of time; and it is not confounded by anything in His own creation, its errors or its foolish imaginations. Adam and Eve had direct capacity for choice, touching the Lord Himself, as foundational and basic for their crucial test. We are still in His image, and though our operation is clouded by sin, it is readily penetrable by Him. After the fall of man as in Genesis 3, we did not become another kind of people, but gained a blighted heart in pressing need of mercy; and God is duped by none.
Reaching a rebellious race.
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 this is not in order to boss a mere manufacture (cf. Psalm 78, Ezekiel 34. Micah 6:3-8, Ephesians 3:14-20), but with the intent to reach a disturbed, distorted and rebellious race with mercy and lovingkindness, interposing Himself for them, before letting sin make its final maul.
Divine Grief is not a lordly thing, but shows the sort of sovereign our God is.
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 than another, for this is self-contradiction.
Man was not made so, but in fact disastrously abused his donated freedom concerning God. Nothing, including reaching this misapplied maverick, is too hard for the Lord, and the liberty given man, can still lead to vast grief on the part of God when man forsakes what could have been a boon, blessing and remedy (cf. Isaiah 48). 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 to Himself, were the same as HAVING them. Restraint is a major element of love si, and some obstructions to blessing come from chronic duplicity, superficiality or corruption towards God, whereas as with Hezekiah and Josiah, sometimes a chosen vessel hastens even national revival, or focuses on failure in choice, to correct it. In such situations, divine restraint can be multiple, massive and profound in longsuffering (cf. Psalm 78).
Other options are not merely absent, but their foreclosure a basis for divine lament, tears in the case of the Messiah Himself, even in the context of what is CALLED by divine lips, an opportunity foregone. This is crucial always and the masses of things like it, in terms of divine attitude, since it shows concern for the one loved (Matthew 23:37ff., Isaiah 48, Luke 21, Jeremiah 9) as well as scope.
The significance of lost opportunities and the colossal Calvinist blunder in one major matter must be faced.
How desolated the Lord 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. This is a categorical statement and by no theological casuistry can it be obliterated.
PREFERRED in John 3:19 is not a mere description, but an operational statement
with practical results.
It may challenge to fit it with such data as found in I Corinthians 2:14; but problems are for solving as an aim. Hence we proceed in this way, and first must dismiss an error.
The Calvinistic device of trying to make the Father's will differentiate in Matthew 23:37, 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), in the scripture, as to show the failure quite simply to follow the word of God and a move to substitute in direct derogation of that word, that of human philosophy. Such failure is attested for example in John 17:22, 12:48-50, Colossians 2:8-9, Isaiah 48:16, as exhibited and attested in detail in the thesis mentioned. At this point in the Institutes of Calvin, there is accordingly a Challenger rocket type failure, as real as that of Arminius for its own part, as found in John 1:12. It is a most revealing wriggle to defend an indefensible position.
As in nature, all evidence must be considered in scientific method, so in biblical instruction each theme and aspect has an inalienable place.
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, and without qualification (John 12:48-50, Isaiah 34:16-17).
God as Designer of the staggering complex underlying human freedom towards Him, does not ignore the design, nor vitiate His intention, but overcomes each problem with His almighty flair.
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. Accordingly, we find in Isaiah 48:ff. 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 what He urged 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. As in Isaiah 48, He knew and expressed something of the wonders it would have involved.
Divine sovereignty: but what sort of sovereignty. Guesswork is fatal here.
Sovereignty is one thing and God has it to the full (cf. Ephesians 1:11), but that is only the beginning of investigation of the nature of this quality in His use of it. What SORT, or what is the CHARACTER and nature of the sovereign, comes next. Some may act as if sovereignty were an imposition on God instead of a divinely personal and personally divine entity to be found through and in what He does and says. It is this which is found in Him, and not something of another kind, as if 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 (Colossians 1:11).
Foreknowledge of each human being, not the works but the disposition, is an underlying assurance of sovereign, accurate and essential understanding, discovering the disposition of each, not in works to come with a pathological basis, but by divine penetration past performance to the design reality. Who belongs where ?
Before sin or shame as in Ephesians 1:4, HE KNEW.
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 (Romans 9:11), 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.
The final choice is from the first revealed to God of the pre-creation individual, each one in the divine mind. It is His choice but on His principles including relevance of the human will to Him.
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, even before creation and hence before human sin as well, so being prior to the settled blindness of human nature in relation to God, to 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, not through the annulment even of the relevance of the human will, but rather it is through 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).
As the design freedom of each case is known to God, past the generic pathological pollution and obscuration of sin that has infected and infested man, so the divinely granted need for each is available, as in John 3:16,I John 2:1-2, and this for the sake of His love.
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, in turn passing through the reliabilities of predestination (Romans 8:30ff.), and then in order, following on, conserving the assured foreknowledge through calling, justification and glorification. Such is the teaching in the Bible, the solitary resource in approaching this matter with full recognition of all written features in the matter.
Incarnation of the Eternal Word of God and His magnificent self-humbling for the service of the human soul, are testimonies of uttermost divine provisions in seeking the lost.
God sovereignly resolved to sacrifice Himself as provision for those who would be His and for any who in reality would be believers, rather than abusing 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), through the work of the cross, the acme of revelation (cf. Galatians 6:14). 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).
The hellish feeling that heaven might provide for the self-serving, self-centred and eccentric revolutionaries, whatever the cost for its free provision, leaves unbelief exposed.
Whatever person in truth, certainty and reality believed, this one 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! In that facet, such destiny is self-appointed. 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 (John 10:8, 27-28).
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 in this, their desire before the truth of the Lord, 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., cf. 9:41. This enshrines a principle as real as any other dictum, word, revelation, announcement. It was BECAUSE they had heard His words and were aware of His actions on earth, that their sin remains. If this had not been the case, the Lord indicates, "they would have had no sin" But now, since they have both seen and heard this testimony, the case is utterly different. They have "no excuse for their sin."
Freedom, responsibility and sovereignty mingle, and are not mangled. Reality does not disappear, but is met. Sacrifice, sovereignty and wisdom make a beautiful blend. Such individuality of application in the current domain of history is rigorously applicable. The divine love is of an unstained, undimmed reality, and is not wrecked in transit...
The divine self-restraint exhibits the beauty of the real His holiness.
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).
God neither resigns divine sovereignty nor violates human liberty.
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, in view of the totality of the offer in John 3:16, 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. It is the opposite of relentless, remorseless, en bloc determinism. It is not a misuse of words. If you fear you do not have eternal life, you are continuously faced with the sustained option as in John 3:16-18. Christ did not come, He informs us and directs our thinking, to condemn the world, but to save it!
His love is real, living, longing, 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). It is never merely overwhelmed, though in purity of purpose and heart, it is never allowed to outrun sincerity and reality, to use force or deception. It is the purest love that ever was, and is guarded by restraint, that it does not become mere pre-emptive violence, or use of force, which would violate what it is. After all, the ascription of how such love as shown in quality in John 15-16, can fail to take all, is "you would not." Summoned before creation and sin, this remains a clear statement, the contradiction of which cannot without violence to the word of God, once again, be sustained.
John 3:16 is not false advertising, but theologically distorted by some.
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! But God's is not the careless verbiage of an intoxicated lover, but the sublime reality in the writer of life, who puts into time the triumphs of what He chose to do with the fallen race foreseen.
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. It adds to the word of God (see Proverbs 30:6), and enlists huge dangers as this scripture warns, "lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar." This must be avoided. One may either preach one's own word, or offer some comment to help understanding, or preach the word of God; and so with teaching.
The underlying harmony of God's motives and methods is a beauty to behold. Just as the love is not slight, so there is no sleight of hand in the perfected purity of the Lord.
Indeed, no one knows God as He Himself does! (I Corinthians 2:11). It is as in the Bible that the harmony in His holiness 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 this fact on the cross, in this sheer bloc of slanderous heartlessness; and 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 (I John 2:1-2,I John 4:10 In parable terms, the ground for the seed in such cases, is hard or stony). It is superficially receptive but its ground does not yield, though there be "joy for a season" in the beginnings of change, that dies away with the seed.
Unlimited but pure love, mingling with unflinching action (Romans 8:12) that did not baulk at not sparing His ever willing Son, formed a surpassing spiritual signal. It cost far more than this present world is worth; but love is like that, and divine love supremely so.
It is necessary to emphasise that 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, Colossians 1:19). 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.
The Gospel is one and changeless (cf. Galatians 1); but the experiences provided in conversion are varied like the sunsets, many an event, magnificent in artistry; while some do not see not only the changing of the guard, but the pageantry of the process.
With God, let us be very explicit, as seen in Hebrews 6:4, 10:29, considerable degrees of enlightenment may occur within an unsaved soul (cf. Matthew 13:20-21), as indeed with King Saul in his prophetic phase, and Balaam in his predictive one; but they do not grip that one, do not penetrate or propel . Thus many people experience in their own conversion, either a complete, Saul-Paul type arrest, a confrontation, a wonderful opportunity or else an impending judgment, and so on. God evidently at His own entire, sovereign decision, makes available in history just what He will of the issues, active in the divine foreknowledge, which led to the sheep or goat division in all its particular foci.
One of the wonderful aspects of our Saviour is this: that it is all, and always, truth which is in view in His motivations. He IS the truth. Hence what passes in our experience of conversion in our time, is the truth. It represents thus in conversion what part of the action in foreknowledge it pleases Him to reveal, and it is a true exhibit. It is not determinative at this phase, but exhibitive. This, and not the Calvinistic or Arminian varieties is what is taught in the word of God. Personal preference must at least underlie the issue in its biblically assigned point of issue: foreknowledge, and it is He who actually makes the choice, for the soul concerned is not even at that phase, in existence, nor is the creation. That from the scriptures noted, is how it is presented; and so in speaking of the actual Bible, it is what in seeking to conform to all of it simultaneously, one duly comes to, finds.
One is not interested any more when involved in such a delimited (biblical) study as this, in what is not indicated in the word of God, just to conform to some pre-conceived system. What is written has a beautiful harmony with itself and its fulfilment.
Natural laws are part of the Operating Program assigned to the universe, which links both general and vital sections in synthetic harmony, each interpreting alike the symbols. The personal user of this wonderful work has privilege but not co-sponsorship.
As with physical healing so with spiritual salvation, when the writer of it all in the DNA, who legislates the commands that operate, the laws of nature do not dictate to God, their Maker, but He surpasses them as an author the book to be written. Authors are not as such, part of their books, nor is God part of the universe which He constructed, though He can (and did) visit it..
In terms of cognate parallel, just as God may at His own will, as in a physical healing in the human body, elect simply to set firmly to one side any natural laws or limits, to the extent deemed desirable or necessary in history, and heal; so this would constitute the case applicable to helping or transforming the spirit of a sinner. Then, as with the body in type, it may be divinely chosen in acting at the level of human spirit. Indeed, spiritual transformation with pardon is always a miracle in this, that it is a divine intervention, an actual regeneration; but as to the procedures in terms of human consciousness of divine action at work, in our fallen condition, these are - as becomes the Almighty, various. The underlying reality as in foreknowledge, is not altered by its mode of awareness on the part of man.
God's choice (John 15:19, Ephesians 1:4) neither suppresses man's responsibility, not ignores the disposition of his heart.
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 in the divinely exposed mode of overcoming of man's fallen condition, in appointing salvation where it belongs (I Thessalonians 5:9), with guilt where it belongs (Micah 7:19-20, Hebrews 8:7-12, 9:23-26) and love where it is accepted and in effect, discernable as relished (John 1:12, 12:24-25, Hosea 14:4-14, Romans 8:28ff., Hosea 7:8-12, Isaiah 48:16-19, Luke 19:42ff., I Timothy 4:10, Colossians 1:19).
Ultimately, man's liberty towards God is not a change in design, through sin therefore, but in condition. God pleads for reconciliation just as He desires it for all (Colossians 1:19, II Corinthians 5:20), and has gone through every humiliation to express it: restoration through the reception of His sacrifice in an aurora of grace. There are other elements in the grace of God before whom all things are manifest. One as in John 15:21-23 is this: that NOT being informed of the works and words of Christ, His self-revelation in this style precludes as such, the result of negative destiny. Of such. Christ declares, in the relevant sphere, "they would be without sin". It is when in at the face of at least the equivalent of such knowledge, that the person is found, and there is even then no faith, that "they have no excuse for their sin."
This beings up a universal principle in the dealings of God with human destiny. The basic and always underlying point as in Colossians 1:19 is, as I had occasion to point out when at Westminster Seminary, that God would have all; that it pleased the Father, having made peace through the blood of the cross, to RECONCILE ALL things, yes whether in heaven or earth; and this He there expresses with great emphasis and total coverage. God is not at all reticent in stating this. He is disposed to love, has acted hugely in a personal manner and with personal involvement at the uttermost level, and to such an extent desire. That being said, relative to the approach, motive and heart of God (as in Ezekiel 33:11), we see the correlative in destiny, as in John 15:21ff..
Since He came to save the world (all, not its fallen, unrepentant system), WHEN a person does not know the words and works of Christ, the tenor and reality of them, is ignorant where it counts, "they would be without sin." So far, in the case, the issue of eternal separation from God is not accounted for. To be sure, in prior to creation foreknowledge of each (Ephesians 1:4) He already knows who is who, but there are additional principles, mutual and informative, fair and equitable, to which He binds Himself, for whatever purposes, the exhibition of His NAME, nature, being one of these. No one can get to hell in the action of this most judicious, equitable and loving Father, except with due awareness of the issues and offer. No one will be able to claim that such love as this is not too compelling: to besent to eternal negative without even knowing (or its equivalent) what is on offer, what is its evidence, might appear imperious, or lacking in value to this blessedly made image of God called mankind.
If they lack such knowledge (or its equivalent) then they are not in the position of being "without excuse." All these principles are complementary, the divine safeguards being emphasised, so that none imagine this or that distortion or deviation might occur. The contrary is explicit. It may be summed up: no one goes to hell except over Christ's dead body: no one as if Christ's death were irrelevant, meets the final degradation. The preference of man beyond all pathology, is known to God and when this is his elemental desire, known to God before creation and without reference to the impending deeds of his life, then that person does or does not fit into the realm of free, lively and blessed worship. It has resemblance to the satisfaction of marriage to the one you really love, just as marriage to another would be appalling, a rank substitute and misfit.
Thus all before Christ came, huge numbers of whom would have been ignorant in this regard, are not just for that reason applicants to hell. God would have all reconciled, and here lies excuse to be remedied in whatever way He chooses, and many are available, all centring on the crucial reality of he cross of Christ: that is to say, on the offer of Himself as a sacrifice for sin, breach of death and offer of the dissolution of guilt and the reception in life with God. If most are not so disposed anyway, so be it; but this is not because of any shortfall either in the love or in the offer of God. This is a gravely vital principle to which the Lord made the people aware. Administration does not get in the way of invitation, but the fact that all are desired to be reconciled, even at the level of the blood of Christ, has as we see in John 15, practical consequences attached to it.
Again, in John 9:41, we see another complementary principle. It is true as well as foreknowledge, and being truth, is not subject to variation. ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 6:23) and it is a rebel race that we humans as such, constitute (Ephesians 2, 4). It is to gain deliverance from extant condemnation that we have offer in Christ. If we do not receive or adopt a known offer, as in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we remain in that condemned category, the flood almost eniirely wiping out our race already! Thus in this John 9 episode, those who relate to Christ in His very personal presence, who still say, still not receiving Him, "Yes we know," indicating self-satisfaction with their existing approach without Him, for them there is no hope. Their spiritual fuel tanks are full already. They neither need nor will take anything more. These are then declared to have no excuse.
If any were categorisable as in some way blind, and subject merely to a feverish state, then there might be hope. God, knowing their actual disposition, can intervene with regeneration where this is in line with the reality of the soul, as foreknown apart from works. There are no misnomers. As Christ indicated, He came that "those who do not see, might see, and that those who see might be made blind," exposed in their real condition as He went about doing good, and seeking salvation for that which was lost.
Escapism from these or those biblical texts and revealed attitudes changes nothing but the reliability of those guilty of it.
Another principle also here appears. Again it informs our race of the wonderful nature, reliability and concern of God, and as such is important. As shown in the parable of the seed and the spiritual information given to those still unconverted in Hebrews 6 and 10, God knowing all, can penetrate at any time to the depths of the reality of the human heart, past all generic pathology as now operative in our race, and expose some heavenly things, enough for them to be despised, or not. Such action may be beyond the norm in beguiled mankind, and the stricken nature of things. Yet God is not limited to foreknowledge, though it being truth, His actions are always in conformity with it. Yet no one is merely summarily sent off, for "he who comes to Me, I will in no way case out," as in John 6:37. The knowledge in divine foreknowledge is not mere pre-emption, but accurate ascertainment concerning the sheep or goat relationship of each. It involves ascertainment, but mot dictation.
Thus, on the scene, knowledge of the soul in view is not excluded as irrelevant in the investigations of it , though it is God alone who possesses it. There is no question of determinism. Reality and desire are genuinely operative, and their extent is quite explicitly spelt out in the Bible, and not only in this or that text, but in the entire approach and correlation of revealing actions, as so eloquently and movingly expressed in Isaiah 48:16ff., Jeremiah 9, or Matthew 23:37. In the last of these Calvin*1 clung so much to his less than biblical systematics, as to invent a Christ with the Father moving away from what He, the Christ, was doing, in a phantasm of clouded and unbiblical Christology (John 5:19), as if the Father and Son could be in some way adversative!
Calvin thus goes a long way for his system, in conflict with scripture. In fact, I WOULD ... YOU WOULD NOT (cf. Matthew 23:37) biblically remains relevant in the sovereign desire and design of God, in elemental and fatal terms, and again and again it is made the criterion of a particular failure, before God as distinct from a closed option. The option is definitive, but its administration is divine.
Thus, in the Bible by contrast here with Calvin in Matthew 23 for example, we find this: whatever the Son sees the Father doing, as Christ Himself discloses, the Son does in a similar manner. In testimony to His love past their refusal for what they might rather have received, He wept for them. He wept for their false choice, but did not simply invade it. I WOULD ... YOU WOULD NOT remains relevant in the sovereign desire and design of God, and it is Christ who says so. Again and again it is made the criterion of a particular failure as distinct from an open option, in the divine review as in Psalm 78.
Accordingly, evil is in part (for there are fallen angels) the consequence of man's underlying and foreknown power to make choices against God and His known desire, and God does not simply seize the unknowing, and moreover, He says so as we see in John 15. Rather He is found labouring long for those who contrary to every appeal and patient pursuit, reject His personal approach, sometimes with murder and disdain as accompaniments (cf. Jeremiah 17) of this abuse of the divine mercy, which as there can become staggeringly gracious. How great is His scope of desire and restraint, who puts all these things in a blessed complementarity!
The ways of God are not according to our thoughts, but filled with a splendour of equity, reliability, consistency, faithfulness, accuracy of understanding and proclamation, harmony within themselves, beauty of holiness and inviolable integrity, even to the uttermost point. How great is the contrast with the ways of this world, and how vast is the lift involved in entry to HIS kingdom, the kingdom of heaven.
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. Christ came indeed to seek and to save what was lost, but not simply to hustle. Love is more intimate and personal than that. Moreover, it is stronger than death. Its impact remains, and even may be found highlighted in revivals. indeed in this writer's own lifetime, even in this world there have been at some times more, even 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 this world and its worldliness by current myths*1 (now very popular as foretold in I Timothy 4:3-4, Matthew 24:11-14, II Timothy 3:3-7).
23. As the word of God is a light to our paths, let us take care that we even inadvertently put any of it out.
As Christ declared, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God," as in Matthew 4:4. Preferred systems of theology sometimes can blind; but in the path of light, the data rule, and the understanding must incorporate every word, not just some short selection, from that divine mouth to mankind. Remember always that Challenger spacecraft and the O-rings, so small an omission or defect, and with a vast catastrophe. As in the physical sciences, so with the word of God direct, as in the Bible. Whatever is found is not to be ignored, but pursued, and facile systems to breach rather than reach these with understanding, are an abuse of reality and at war with it.
Where eternal destiny is concerned, war with truth withers. The truth remains. Where it is received, stability and strength abound (cf. Isaiah 33:6).
Aristotle and his type of Pantheism
Aristotle is certainly unusual, but there is no freedom without God, only an involvement of all things in their series and grounds and causes; and what Aristotle touts as God, though distinct from materialist dismissal, is inseparable from the world, and inaasmuch as God is deemed action rather than separable entity and process rather than personal, it fails the test relevant to our discussion of freedom. Thus God is made a first cause, grinding Him into the procedures of creation, rather than leaving Him over it, free of it, relating to it at will and author of the entirety of its systems. Aristotle does show God as Creator from beyond and not in any way tied to it except in this, that He chooses to intervene and maintain according to His desire, just as it was more than intervention when He invented all and so became its logical base and entire origin.
In biblical teaching (which in these things is uniquely attested, verified and open to self-imposed challenge in terms both of logic and evidence), man being in the image of God has access to Him in person, in power, in action, in wisdom, in a measure of independence which is God Himself is total , no one and nothing binding Him,, though in man it is delimited but real. Outside entirely, this world, in Himself, God can gift in ascertainable limits freedom to man including that to reject Him, and though sin clouds man's perception, it does not cloud God's vision of him (cf. Hebrews 4:13), nor does He receive counsel or containment from any, being not the first cause in a system, in a form of non-materialist pantheism, but the ultimate cause of all designated system to be found in the interstices of the universe. This makes it superfluous to look for matter to come from nowhere, its laws from nothing and its relationship to mind and spirit, a gift from alien and indeed null premises to all its capacities. It is God in His glory not pantheistic processes, vested from nothing, which being His enables the ready solution of the predestination/law and volition/decision collisions, replacing these anomalous and even null accounts with fluent reason and total explanation.
Hence man escapes the mere impact of the programming in this world, its laws as ultimate containment and his freedom as illusory, and restores its operation to the visible, audible, endless sdeeming contentions of those who, aware of their erroneous or erratic and certainly errant thoughts or ways or descents, or weaknesses, or chosen lapses , or heartless ways, and above all of NOT worshipping or relying on the God of creation and salvation from the sin into which man moves as if grain in a chute. Man's vain, vicious, devastating presumptions in this world are thus not pandemic, and indeed were not even endemic, till he misused those powers and became subject, God to be found now, by His available initiatives. Man, though damaged, is not annulled in the aspects of liberty which make him what he is, merely limited in power to usse them, like a car with a broken steering wheel. God is able to reach him and indeed, being unlimited in power, knowing his heart from the first (foreknowledge) find him.
Man in other words had first a design, but even now a potential, known from the first, to know God, but is so far from being forced to do so, that Christ even wept that Jerusalem has failed to realise its opportunities in His coming, as for chicks which did not heed the hen's call and so would suffere.. That man is able to be in such a position results from his construction as a free agent relative to God and hence to morals and thought, though in these respects he is always fluttering in this or that barren philosophy, of which Aristotle's is a fine example, failing to be rational even when acting as if he had answers for everything/ As my own Theological Set shows, for example, in its 243 volumes, nothing else stands logically; but this not only stands, this biblical perspective, but solves the age-old difficulty with predestination and freewill and law and freedom with ease, as only truth can. This the work, Predestination and Freewill shows, and the other six volumes in this set, elaborate.
Re Calvin and his treatment of this Matthew 23:37 text, see Predestination and Freewill Part 2, and search for Calvin.
See for example Christ, the Cumulative and the Culmination Ch. 6,
See also SMR
Ch. 5, Ch. 1, esp. pp.
140ff., Ch. 2, and Bulletins
1, 2, 13,
34, 39, 53, 57, 59, 64, 66, 71, 82, 83, 84, 93, 99, 105, 106, 111,