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BULLETIN THIRTY EIGHT
"I WILL LOVE THEM FREELY"
God is sovereign as in Romans 9.
He loves freely as in Hosea 14, healing their backsliding.
He waits as in Isaiah 30:18 and aims as in Colossians 1:19.
God is who He is. He is not another god, nor is man a god at all. But he is designed free to fail tests, as well as pass them, and to have the will to do so. Failure breeds dysfunction, but no dysfunction limits God. When these facts are duly viewed and chewed, the biblical perspective unfolds to the willing reader.
He grieves when wonderful opportunities of salvation are lost as in Isaiah 48, Matthew 23, Luke 24, when what might have been annulled through wilful ignorance; and in John 3 He asserts what is the underlying cause for such stupendously select love as His own not reaching its target, so that such all-sacrificial wonder may be disdained, disconnected, or despised. Not reaching the (freely designed) target, man, has a reason. It is statedly this: some differentially, despite the offer to each individual, individually preferred darkness (John 3:19). It was not generic or none would have been saved in this prodigy of grace. It was selective in outcome, explanatory of the failure in the case of many, before such a vast divine expatiation of available love and manifestation of it, to come freely and receive its gift.
God sublimely offered what was a cost to Him, to the uttermost; but some in the end and outcome, actually PREFERRED darkness. But it was not just a sovereign human will that did this (John 1:12); nor was it irrelevant as in John 3:19. He WOULD and they WOULD NOT. He would have it so, in gracious love and forbearing kindness; but they would not. Repeatedly, this is the stated cause (as in Isaiah 30:15-16.That is His assessment of the relationship of the two, the divine willingness and the human will in its divine assessment.
The divine model needs to be understood, not with precipitate jostling, but with careful consideration. Rush into riot does not serve understanding, but what wants riot. If reason and righteousness is in view. you need to ponder the paths of your feet, here as elsewhere. Here is then a short presentation to assist some.
As you see in Jeremiah 31, Israel can be vexatious, self-harming, a cause of exhortation, and yet wilfully not respond. You CAN always say, indeed sew NO! but it is the yes category which has more depth to follow through. As we read in Isaiah 30:15-16, "In returning and rest you will be saved, in quitness and condience shall be your strength, But you would not." Here the divinely enlisted and exhorted step disdained, as in Acts 7:51 in the case of Stephen, they resist and reset: NO! "Stiff-necked ... you always resist the Holy Spirit," he declaimed as he neared death from stoning.
Instead of acquiescence, they contrived ways of avoidance;;for to kill is easier than to bring to heel the will, death to others is easier than discipline for oneself. The same position occurss in Luke 19:42, Matthew 23:37, and Isaiah 48:15ff.. Numerous divine solicitations, exhortations, invitations, with restraint and longsuffering intervene between fallen desire and its due end in destruction. These are resisted or at times even resented. But it is God Himself who calls, and none is beyond His penetration nor is each simply tilted amiss at the outset. Each is known ... foreknown. The result ? He called, YET they ... would not!
in such a sphere, God does not over-rule to make virtual robots, programmees out of what is made in His own image. That is far from His image, however sin may have done the distorting. HOW LONG will you gad about! He remonstrates as you see in Jeremiah 31:22. He is the One who sovereignly CHOOSES for it to be this way, for He IS love and love and programming with persons or other means of force are mere subterfuge where love is concerned, no more loving than a set of programmed symbols.
But there is nothing symbolic in the love which poured out the Second Person of the Trinity into flesh that He might become a sacrifice for sin, enabling free pardon and a love that is likewise free.
The Lord, likewise sovereignly, and in line with His exhortations, laments, griefs and presentations, provided for what would use the glorious liberties with which Adam and Eve were endowed, by grace. As it indicates in Romans 3:23, therefore, there is no scope for any kind of boasting. Imagine a 'heaven' where some bumptious and vainglorious person of pseudo-sanctity announced the reason for his 'success' with his cunning devices to secure immigration into heavenly real estate. NOT of boasting, Paul indicates. Entirely of grace, Ephesians 2:8 insists. It is through grace by faith and that whole thing, the Greek genders indicate is "not of yourself, it is the gift of God."
Nor is a simply foreseen saga as Romans 9:11ff. declares. It is predestinated. And as to the grace in that, since it is all of grace, this is logically subsequent to foreknowledge (Romans 8:29). But on what does foreknowledge itself then depend ?
It certainly depends on who God is, and who is He ? He is revealed again and again, categorically and definitively in Jesus Christ, God incarnate, the living Word of the Eternal Being (Hebrews Ch. 1) as we have also seen from way back in Numbers 34:6. As to this grace, to whom does it savingly come ? As the Lord says even in Exodus 33:19, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." He does not resign to circumstance, psychological, geological, emotional or volitional. However, as He declares in mitigation in Romans 9:22
"What if God, wanting to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He had prepared beforehand for glory..." In other words, to be sure the Lord determines where mercy flows (for example not to specious hypocrites), and how (through that Gospel in terms of which He would like to have all reconciled to Himself, as He declares). But in fact He is such that it was a matter of much longsuffering that He endured them, not imperious dumping. Sovereignty is not in view as slackened, but the due result DOES come after the designed approach is negated finally.
What then in his GRACE ONLY by faith DOES he use in choosing, before the foundation of the world, as in Ephesians 1:4, way before therefore the wonderful reality of man in His image is even manufactured by the divine magnificence, and our time is given its institution, even before time- freedom is instituted, as exemplified and exhibited in the test provided for Adam and Even, by which they could forfeit the gracious glory of their first beginning. What provision was made for their deliverance ? DID He make one ? Yes, being gracious and longsuffering, He did. At the first, as in Genesis 3:15, it was made clear that at heavy cost to the Lord, man would be able to be freed from the seditious gracelessness and thanklessness of his deal with Satan.
Was it to depend on man ? the thought of the Gospel ? Not at all, it is taught by the Lord (Galatians 1). Was it to depend on man, the application of the Gospel ? Not at all, NOT of man, lest any man should boast, as we have seen. On what then did it depend ? Why, on the sovereign God. What did He sovereignly choose ? It was so to love the world that whoever believed in Him (the opposite of the case with the first pair) should not perish. What was the reason that some did not accept this glorious free gift that love might be sincere and thus working in the fellowship between God and man for those saved from the sovereignty of sin ? It was as in John 3:19, because differentially, some preferred darkness in this relevant setting. How was it that all, being disoriented by sin, did not choose darkness ? It was because of predestination. On what was this founded ? It was on foreknowledge. Whose foreknowledge ? That of God. What is God like ? gracious and longsuffering. HOW longsuffering ? Matthew 23:37 is merely one site exhibiting this: HOW OFTEN I would have gathered you as a hen gathers he chickens, but YOU WOULD NOT.
So human will, we see over and again, in emotions, in laments, in waitings, in the divine enduring of needless losses IS involved, but it is NOT sovereign. HOW then is it involved ? It is not a sovereign act of man, even though the will be his own. It is in a sovereign act of the God of grace who loves freely, and indeed, loves all ("the world" is not partitive, not "part of the world"): outside all programs and invasive restraints, HE knows, foreknows His own. HOW MUCH does He love ? It is enough as in John 3, for the giant doors of divine love to open the gates of destiny and confer non-rotting and eternal life on ANY of the MANY who believe in Him. Is it those who are slanted to do so ? No, for that would amount to deceit, and be neither love nor freedom, nor reality. They therefore are known as to God they could be and are known, even those not yet actually and actively created, but discernible within by the foreknowing God who chooses.
The extent of His love is stated, its freedom is notorious, its means are as stated, its cost is divinely borne; and the roiling of sin is not yet present in this, that the sinners to be are not yet created. God then knows who are His own, and it is the simplest thing to see this, with sin's barriers at bay, and its floods not yet in place. WHAT He finds in this foreknowledge of each one, He implements by predestination, so that there is neither mistake nor mischief possible. The God of truth chooses truthfully by grace alone; there is no X-factor by which, hidden in mystery, He chooses what is most liked or worthy or delightful or attractive, or best serves some ulterior motive. That is not love but subterfuge.
Nor is it a mystery substantially, but only in the sense of SUCH a love being in SUCH a being, which like all else concerning Him, is a wonder. He declares that the differential human preference is the ground of choice, of rejection, and hence of acceptance. HE KNOWS His own. The Maker needs no manual. IN His total grace, and free love, the One which grieves at the loss of those who breach even His grace and turn against the very gift of His heart, He KNOWS who are His from the outset. As Christ WAS on earth in heart and desire, so is He who is unchanging (Psalm 102, Hebrews 4:13) in His foreknowing. The same zest and zeal and knowledge of man and love, irrespective of what might be desired, found in actuality, not in mere pretence or programming is seen on earth as was active in heaven before the fall, before the very creation itself. As then, so in foreknowledge, the same Christ as on earth, was active in heaven, in the holy unbreachable unity with the Father.
Predestination in a purse. His own are the coins in it. He worked for them, and selected them. The way to preserve freedom relative to God on the part of man, is to follow what is written. It is entirely HIS sovereign will that is wrought. THIS however is entirely gracious. If people want to resist till their consciences are as if seared with a hot iron, this is their privilege, position and preference. God does not permit what is programmed to replace reaity, as when He declares, "As I live ... I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his way, and live." He then indicates the depths of His zeal: "Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel ?"
If man can hold world-wide data in staggering information retention systems, how much more He who made man! Much is lost in the simplicity and clarity of the love of God and its uncompromised application by simple unbelief,opaque to the reality of His meaning and the security of all that He says to be consistent and harmonious, each part with the other. Without God there can be no freedom, for each part acts as it is, and there is no option. Degrees of liberty are what they are. Assignments are the case. All has its own background and nothing else, nor is there any option for man to create an alternative. No God means only this combination of actions. Man as a god does not concur with disruptive facts.
With God, however, it is absolutely necessary to realise that He is absolute; and absolutely what He says He is, and not to mix sovereignty with mystery concerning the God declares what He wants, does, is about and is, but to receive this; nor to mix human, defiled will with sufficiency, when its taints mar its awareness of the truth, and its self-elevation would make of it a god.
God is free; would make man free; is willing to pay for it; did pay for it, the application being the ransom from the payment of the penalty of sin, and He presents that payment where the heart is willing to receive it; and He KNOWS what the heart is, even beyond man himself, for there is nothing not manifest to God as in Hebrews 4.
Indeed, God is not limited. If He desires to penetrate the heart of every one of us before creation, that is like an author knowing who is to be what in his book, except that in this case, each is to become alive, and tainted. However, the Lord is not defeated by taint. Even when man has sinned and been seduced and changed in heart, as happened, God is able to penetrate this muddle, and bring light as you see in Hebrews 6 and 10, so that people may to an extent become aware of the powers of heaven and taste (but spit out) the heavenly gift. That is what the Lord allows at His own "sovereign" will. He is not bound by theologians and their quaint way so often found, of barring Him as if He were merely a model of man, rather than vice versa, and so excluded from His own supernatural powers, whether in the flood, or the flood of faith, or the dismissal of the earth to come, as if containing Him in a fraudulent cocoon.
All that God says fits; and nothing else does; for there neither is not could be any other solution to predestination and freewill, or fixation and freewill, but this; for God in His purity, has neither need nor scope for what is not true. If He did, He would be inadequate and limited, and so not the God which reason demands, and finding finds resolves in principle all puzzles and questions, the Bible being alone in this. Indeed, this is not the least of the reasons for this site. He WOULD have ALL reconciled to Himself and says so. What ignores this differs from God; and THAT is not theology but rebellion in the last resort.
In the love of God, there is as with Himself, prodigious effort to bring home the realities of His love, liberty, grace, lovingkindness, mercy, place of pardon, grounds of pardon, challenge to receive it. Love constrains; force merely pushes.
for liberty and love, and trust His provisions.