BULLETIN SIXTY ONE
PREDESTINATION, SELECTION AND
The STATED Good Pleasure of the Creator
God in sovereign majesty selects His criterion for election of human people to His kingdom, His side, His adoption as children of God.
That is the Gospel. That is the way in that He made of His own will, created of His own mind, and deployed in His own power. Receive it or not (Matthew 28:18-20).
He also sovereignly selects without compromise, since on this corrupted earth, neither the will of man nor the flesh has power to do so, being corrupted through sin, tilted (John 1:12).
Further, He selects BEFORE either man or his sinfulness is in operation, or even exists.
It is in the mind of God that before
either world or creation appeared, the selection was made (Ephesians 1:4). There
was no other entity to enforce or try to enforce its will; it was God arranged it as He
sovereignly chose. He did not select from meat - He made it all - but from
among man. There lies the significant image, from the first, as if a
stamp: made in the image of God. This wonder and potential sublimity, He
chose to construct: hence mankind with all their
opportunities, flashings of will and thrill, imagination in glory and vaingloriousness as the case would be. Like so much, his liberty, in measure as in that image, could be turned ...
But HOW did God arrange this matter, and with what purpose ?
How did He approach it ? He fulfilled what He has made clear is His nature, spiritual disposition, activating thrust in the matter. What is that ? He would emphatically have ALL to be reconciled to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven (Colossians 1:19). When God speaks, listen. When He speaks emphatically, as here, as if using a megaphone (read it!), then listen well!
The degree of love in Him was and is (He does not change) such that even sending His only begotten Son from eternity to earth and contumely, harassment, hatred, cruelty, sneering industries of religious sin and the like, was not only perfectly demanding of Him, but perfectly sufficient to get it done. As He said, in dealing with this matter and His love and intent (Hosea 13:14), He would ransom from death, and He would have no pity, for His own cost! Nothing would turn Him away; nor did it, the marvel of history, the wonder of His word, married.
The thing was to be done and no turning away would make Him swerve, whether incarnate and vulnerable for His sacrificial purpose (Matthew 26:39ff), or not! (why don't you come down from the cross ? was its graphic point of application - Matthew 27:42).
That was the divine thrust concerning the election, selection, divine choice from among men, those were its divine parameters, this its thrust. When the ransom (Matthew 28:20) was accomplished, and the propitiatory payment finished (John 19:30, Romans 3:23ff.), this then covered any who received Him by faith, and of course it covered no less those known in whatever type of framework within the very form of God, before creation so much as subsisted, So His profundity of love and wisdom worked multitudinously, but with one vast result, He redeemed some from the condemned multitude, indeed those who repenting of sin, received Him as Lord and Saviour, risen from the dead, the escape from death and the Grantor of life eternal.
THIS was all at work, since God does not change in marked, remarked, and stark contrast to the creation's less permanent ways (Psalm 102:24-27 as cited in Hebrews 1:10ff.). His achievement, its motives, life cost and triumph led to such munificent praise for ever as we see recorded again and again in Revelation 5, in scenes musically captured in wonder in Handel's Messiah.
Hence whatever could be saved
without violating its own nature, would be; for God is omnipotent. Thus when it
comes to love, you utterly violate its own nature when you FORCE, as in rape.
is essentially by nature a reciprocal thing as you see so clearly when you examine the
latter part of Joshua (24:14-16). When it is on one side only, it is like
an abortion: becomes a relic, a memory, however intense, though it was true of
what was imbued with it.
Force is mere will. Love involves willingness on both sides. That of God is most clear; it is the other side, that of man, where the variability, hostility, enmity, unreliability, aversion OR conversion, lies. It is not that man can convert by his own power, nor is it on the other hand, that he is outside the power of God to woo and win, to illuminate and consummate; but never is it His WILL to force as a sort of distortive demeaning of love. It does not even work without love (I John 4:8,2:24-29),except for ultimate ruin. That is what it is like. This present world is what it grows like as it ages, this divorce, disbelief, disjunction from God. Tempest, treachery and trouble infest the earth like professional face slappers: there is no rest for the wicked (Isaiah 57:19-20), and they seek to export their wares increasingly.
WORKS ARE CRUCIAL IN SALVATION: BUT NOT OURS!
What would therefore come with faith (Hebrews 11:3,6), and without force as its basis, criterion or ultimate resource, when seen with the all-penetrating eye of God, would find no cold reception in heaven! Neither is there lack of invitation, or enablement (John 15:7, Matthew 22:1-14). To be sure, much will GO and the judgment will be impelled (John 12:46-47), when the thousands of years involved since Christ (I Peter 3:9), and the tests and opportunities, are all past. But this is the test. If you fail a test, so be it. YOU may feel you have gained what you want! Some simply mutiny, "we will not have this man to rule over us" (Luke 19:14), for some reason or lack of it (I Timothy 3, II Timothy 4), and they find all other options are incomparably worse; but such is the plight of the wilful who may end up worshipping even their own wills, unless like leeches, they settle on some other attachment (II Timothy 4:3, Romans 1:28, Jeremiah 44:17).
In the end, this tests the heart, and finds whom it may; and you may say, Much more is to be known about this when the Lord shows it in heaven (cf. I Corinthians 13). Undoubtedly true, but NOT LESS, for His word IS truth. Moreover strange contradictions are not in view, since even now THE DEEP THINGS have been revealed and the words in which to express them by the Spirit of God as in I Corinthians 2:9-13. The basics for belief are present, not about to be banished. His truth is thus utterly reliable, deep, penetrating, and while we are yet as children, there is no prep school like this, when the ultimate Speaker is Himself the truth! (John 14:6).
It is not a heartless test, but it is a searching one. Heaven is not populated by conspiracies and subtle servants of their own wills. It would not be heaven! Nor would such find it heavenly if it were! Nor is there any entry (Revelation 21:27).
Beyond therefore every psychic
limitation in the entrails of sin, each deviation, false elevation, foul
aspiration, evil intention, reality, truth operates and it is indeed an
operation. God therefore, being omniscient, KNOWS who are His own from before
creation, and it is, as Romans 9 tells us, not dependent on some assessment of
coming works (Romans 9:11-12); it is not indeed dependent on our works at all
(Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:5-8), but those of the Saviour sent to bear the sin
which provides for the pardon, which enables adoption to be wrought, and justice
to be met, for ever (Hebrews 9:12, John 5:24). Works follow (as when you buy a
new car), but they do not create what will work well, if it is His! They are the
fruit of the root.
WITHOUT HOPE OR
BUT TO ENABLE, NOT COVER UP
No one therefore goes to hell except through the filter, the test, the scope of Christ's dead (and raised) body (Romans 10:9). He would have all and will lose none within the domain of SO loving. Thus in John 15:21-24), you find that IF those concerned in His assessment had NOT heard of His deeds and NOT been aware of His words, such as were never done by any one in the form of a man before in the history of this earth, THEN they "would have no sin," ( in the relevant way). Now they have "no excuse". In that lies the transition for such people: it is from conceivable exculpation through Christ when this IS in due course, known about Him, and He is received, to certain condemnation when it all lies before them already, and they yet desire its departure, or dislike its presence.
You see the same in Proverbs 1:20-26. People have to get used to the ideas
1) that they are not gods
supping and calling the waiter for service on demand,
2) God is more than fair, even
loving, even greatly so,
Thus, we find in the John 15 case in view, they HAD heard of these things, were aware of them, THEREFORE their sin remained. Such was the word of Christ concerning them. Ignorance in itself is not a criterion. Knowledgeable rejection is, in whatever form, this is ensured by God and it is the final record. .
Indeed, God still loves and laments (as in Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff.) even for those lost (Jeremiah 48, in the case of Moab), but He does not foul love into force to achieve His love, for it only defiles it. More is less when duplicity or misdirection occurs.
What then is the sovereignty of God ? It is as has here been remarked, multi-dimensional in this field. Indeed, as in Ephesians 1:11, "He works all things after the counsel of His own will."
And what IS His will in this matter concerning man ? Did He make him a robot or in His own image ? Scarcely. It is the latter, that is man's form and format. Thus is he in the conception and creation of God.
Is the image of God so controlled as to be a virtual implement ? Indeed, he can be so regarded when delusively acting as if he were not only in God's image but His equal. But the image in intrinsic terms means more than this robotic ruin: it means that he has such a relative degree of independence, compared with all other creatures, that his freedom is susceptible to love (or hatred), application or derailment; but it is in the model, man. God is not blocked out from the knowledge of it in any, or in all.
Thus it is the sovereign will of God that man be SO, and He knows him to the depths. And much of the Bible illustrates the reality at various levels of this fact (as in the case of Saul to whom the kingdom might have gone on indefinitely - I Samuel 13:13, but in his violations of the word, ways and wisdom of God in the word of himself as a king and no more, did not). Jonah was a variation; his discipline as a servant of God was to do what he had first failed to do, through a great distressing experience! David in his adulterous sin (cf. Psalm 51), faced loss of much that the Lord was preparing for him, but he was forgiven and restored, in an uncrushable love.
Thus, there is a relationship with God that does not change, that of salvation (Hebrews 9:12, Ephesians 1-2); but the superficial and the nominal do not stand. Where truth is concerned, appearance has no meeting ground with reality; and where Christ is, there is truth (John 8:40-41,14:6) and security (Romans 8:31-38, I Thessalonians 5:9-10, Colossians 3:3, Philippians 3:17-21).
Since this is the biblical
depiction, and His word is truth, and this is our field in this matter, to find
its declaration, then all these features in the matter of man and God in the
relationship from first to last, are crucial.
It means that man in the field of divine and sovereign depiction, by HIS will who is God, being exhorted and invited to be freed from what sin wreaks, offered a free pass from it, has this base for seeking. The Lord has to be sought in practice, and man is assuredly not loaded or coded by creation to be fit only for hell, but equipped with the image-bearing responsibility, and perceived through the all-penetrating knowledge and foreknowledge of God, as he is. It is not a code read, since liberty is uncoded. It is a matter of a soul trapped and a hunter ready to free it, not eat it. It is meanness in reverse.
THE LORD DECLARES
HIS WANTING -
TO SAVE, NOT CONDEMN:
OFTEN AND VARIOUSLY
It is not, then, a pre-set sinfulness that forces man, loaded and hopeless; instead, it is selectively those who, in the knowledge of God, reject Him, as distinct from those who do not, who respond like flesh to a burn, instead of receiving help and healing, who make a difference in final reality. All are tilted; but none are granted a mould immovable, as if exhorted to repent when quite unable to do so; for GOD Himself is in the field, and makes ALL the difference to natural if pathological propensities, casting aside the waters that block as at the Red Sea, while predestination preserves from any error.
Since God does not desire sin, nor does He contradict His love, like some variable freak, or failure, He is reliable to do what He has said and to act on the principles declared and decreed. He does not frustrate Himself, but fulfils what He desires, and the banner over this, as Song of Solomon portrays it, is love.
Man therefore is relevant to the decision of God, NOT in merit or in manufacture, but in his "preference" as Christ tells us once and for all in John 3:19. THIS indeed IS the condemnation in the face of such startling love and almighty power conjoined in the coming of the Incarnate Saviour (Isaiah 43:8-10) to the ransoming cross: preference if given to the contrary to love, it is this which is the ground of rejection. God knows man and His own heart, and when He tells us concerning both, it is well to listen!
God knows the heart of man and where to find it, not merely in pathological degeneration, but as it is, before time. He is not deceived. As the Lord declared to Samuel, in the matter of Israel desiring a king IN ORDER TO BE like the other nations, immersed in worldliness in other words, THEY HAVE NOT REJECTED YOU BUT ME! As Hosea 13:11 declares, "I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath." Such was the case with Saul.
The rejection is duly noted and operative but not for Israel for ever. A light falls on the far side (cf. Jeremiah 30-33).
Whether you love or not, if someone insists on looking for the nearest inferno from petrol blazes, and staying there for a full half hour, persists, there will be results. Believing or disbelieving them will not alter them. They follow. A miracle may intervene; in spiritual terms, it needs to, and there is nothing and no one who can rule it out; but when it does occur (John 3), there is a new type of creation, still in the image of God, but in the form apt for adoption (I John 3:9, Ephesians 1:5-13), and it stays that ways (His seed remains in him, we read).
As time then proceeds, it is only when you are in the service of God that new dimensions of relevance may arrive, although at times there are prevenient mercies also (Romans 2:4). In the end, there is an end of one type or another; except for what has begun in the field of the love and Gospel of God, which does not, like the passing show, end.
Man therefore is relevant within to the dispositions of God, and ultimately, when seen before sin and spiritual squalor, or through it, just as the Lord pleases, before whom all things are manifest; and tests are by no means irrelevant in displaying who he is and where he is, as in Luke 9:26 and Revelation 3's luke-warm church.
There is no touch of determinism in the God who knowing all, tests all, understands all and gives scope for all. You see that so easily in Psalm 1, for the ways of the godly are one thing, known to God, but like chaff blown is the rebellious residue. What is its place ? It is out of place and knows no place and so is subject to what does not suit, being not adapted for good purpose, but is tossed in the very interstices of folly. IF with all your heart, you truly seek Me, God challenges Israel when it was under divine discipline for chronic rebellion and formalisms (Jeremiah 29:13), you will find Me.
Through the Spirit of God, the Lord may also so subject a spiritually numbed soul to awareness of its sin that we see that GOD when present can make ALL the difference. No law of nature is His bath. He may suspend, conform, any operation at will, and though in order, this is a matter of miracle, nothing is too hard for Him. Thus resurrection is no law of nature, when the body is set to decay, but it can be overcome in the creative power of the One who made the body in the first place (Colossians 1:15).
Not only is there no hint of determinism in the ways of GOD with man; but the whole Bible is exhorting, lamenting, appealing, providing for man to use what would be meaningless without liberty. There are indeed trials when people let their minds be drugged with rant or chemical. Indeed, the whole Gospel is a reverse and a revisit of creation (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), but this time within; yet there is no blitzkrieg. It is neither necessary nor apt. God has ways of His own.
Here is an interposition of miracle, based on the testimony beyond all comparison of Christ on earth, speaking of His Father in heaven and using His power for His gracious purpose even to the point of negating death in His person, and paying its penalty for those who receive Him. God is very explicit as we saw in Hosea 13:14. He was fixed inexorably on providing for man freely at His own cost, even personally, so WHY He asks will you die ? (Ezekiel 33:11). HE has no pleasure in such a result, He asseverates. Omnipotence does not ask you WHY you are doing what it does not want when you are unable to do it. It provides; and no pathology in man can breach the scope of the divine provision, escape the depths of divine knowledge, provide automatic exclusion to any human, or stand like some incurable leprosy, beyond the power of God.
Man is open to the love of God and liable for his erratic confirmation of the secession from the Lord (Secession from Supposition). Some burn even their own consciences as if with a hot iron, resisting and relaying and braying till they even deafen or scar themselves (I Timothy 4:2). Some differentially shut their eyes (Matthew 13:15), and some already in vast confrontation, have them closed as a penalty for abusing them (John 12:40). Both elements work, each in its time and way.
As in the parallel parable of the seed in the ground, some ground is able to receive when GOD is at work, to do well with such a seed, and be very fruitful. Some ground is as far from broken (in repentance in the intent of the parable) as can be, and though seed fall, will not receive. Ground varies. Grace does not.
THE WHOLE WORLD IS
MUCH OF IT BURNING UP THE HEARTS, MINDS AND EVEN BODIES -
IF NOT BLASTING THEM,
OF THOSE WHO MIGHT ENTER:
IN THIS THE RUIN MERCHANTS RESEMBLE
THE SCRIBES IN JESUS' DAY (Luke 11:52).
Meanwhile, the world itself (Matthew 24:12) too is now being saturated with the Christianity it increasingly tends to despise, degrade, disguise, distort, replace with vacuous wanderings and lustful haunts, calling good evil and attacking it (as in Isaiah 5 and in the features of Isaiah 59!). How it becomes detested (like breaking off smoking for some), and as in Joshua 24:15, the case is this. "If it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves." So wallow in evil if you will, that you enshrine it into laws, and then persecute those who keep to the old way they were created and for which they were created, so as to abolish them (as in the Middle East to a very marked degree - in Australia there are different methods in the same direction, mounting ...).
There is a limit. C.S. Lewis spoke of such things in terms of his little work, The Abolition of Man. "That is a result, and a reason at once: why this world cannot continue as it is now, but soon will meet its come-uppance, in the Lord's return (as in Luke 21:24).
In terms of this blatant manipulation, invasion of society, misuse of morality by opposite mini-morals unleashed to silence those who object, there is an atheist missionary zeal (adorned by those who contradict Christ critically, and confused or confusing many, still use His name!)
The methods increase. Even in this fast changing land, in case the ways of Jesus Christ should markedly continue, there are ways ... fining, harassing, registering offence if contradicted, being forbidden (as I was) to teach these things though unable to be faulted in fact , even amid the indoctrinative teaching throughout the institution where I was placed, as if the new infantilities of thought and follies of conduct were some kind of resource, instead of ruinous rebellion (cf. TMR). It was, as stated by the one demanding my silence on this issue, not convenient for me so to teach, to introduce what was omitted nor, evidently, for any authority to show any of the presentation of truth and so a departure announcement.
It is just, as I pointed out at the
time, one had learned to think of tertiary education as a site seeking not
silence of fact, but truth. How changed the vision! Grossly, it was intimated
that it simply did not fit with their way: that is, with their propaganda,
indoctrination or teaching regime.
Like Pilate, the time comes when truth is not even recognised, not even in principle, and relativity is pronounced as absolutely true in the increasingly tyrannous no-truth model.
It is all alike, parallel to or a deposit of the new wave of irrational intolerance.
To what do such things point ? it is leading to shortage of moral breath, of financial power, stable place in the world, and in many cases, of well-oriented children, who tend therefore to defect to every vain thing. It is then, as these pressures mount and the Gospel is preached through all the world, that the end comes (Matthew 24:22). That is, it is so when the witness is complete, when the world reels with unreality and evil forces, brutal, belligerent, straying like a pack of steam-rollers let go simultaneously from a hill to a city, even though shown the path they take, and its perils, together with its escape (Hebrews 2:1-3).
Responsibility does not evacuate with preference for a moral vacuum now foisting itself as if it were other than flamboyant flames of devastating fire to ruin man. God has man like asbestos, when he rushes into rebellion: with it, he is unable to protect himself; and what he uses in heightening the conflicts, such as atomic bombs, are themselves ruinous. There is a way which seems right to a man, but its ways are those of death (Proverbs 14:12). There is no escape when the escap itself is from God, whose mercy is a stay on proceedings, and whose Gospel not only an acquittal, but an entrance into life with purpose, purity and the presence of the Maker.
It does not have to be received.
When the world rolls over like a spoilt puppy, it is vulnerable and that alas, for good reason (cf. News 19).
Sovereignty then does not equate to contradiction of what God says of Himself, whether this be applied to before creation scenario, early history or late, or destiny. It does not mean that truth, reason or mercy, or the word of God, is gone! God is Himself without change or corruption and thank God for that. He is not moody or broody, nor does He make some that they be deprived. He would like to have all to come to Him, and so loves that they might not perish. He does not trick or deceive or mislead; is that delightful wonder, true and faithful, honest and just, loving and even longing, but not trying to behead to make people think, which seems almost the way of some.
Nor does He remove the relevance of preference in the end, in His own way, so that man may be simply be pushed out instead of marvellously drawn in. He knows how to create freedom past the obvious, and its fruits (cf. Proverbs 1:30-31). He knows how to handle crippled cars, and though man is incomparably more complex, yet He made him. Rather His thrust is to bring in, not bypassing reality, but through it and for this has made the Gospel so free, and gracious and urgent that a child can, and often does, receive it.
Sovereignty is a name for a sovereign, and here THE Sovereign; but it does not dictate what He is like, or prefers, or seeks or how He does it! Calvin as shown in Predestination and Freewill, and elsewhere on this site (see Index C and P), made a huge mistake here, but has much to contribute. The Bible makes no mistakes and has much more than any or all of these boons. IT should be followed to the end from the beginning. There is wisdom.