A PREDESTINATIVE NUTSHELL
God chose His own.
When ? Before the world was founded (God can create a world of coming-and-going time at will, and "when" originates with this action, in terms of our type of time). Before that, He knew who were His own children in the coming history (Ephesians 1:4).
This He foreknew, therefore, before sin (Romans 8:30ff.), for each one.
What was His attitude to choosing ?
He, in view of the cross to come, was pleased that every single one be reconciled to Himself (Colossians 1:19-22). That was the yearning of His pure heart, a heart of love (I John 4:7ff.). But love has restraint (Matthew 23:37).
The failure of many to come, as in John 3, was despite a love for the world so intense and immense that God gave His only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, to enable freely each one (Romans 3:23ff, 5:17ff., 6:23, Ephesians 2, I John 2:1ff.), through believing in Him, to gain the ultimate category of eternal life.
If then it was despite such love and such practical, predicted, personally searing and abundant divine provisions, that those who selectively turned away from Him, did so, it was statedly because, drawn to evil, in type or placement, they had a relevant preference for darkness (John 3:19). Harnessed by its happenings, perhaps harassed by it, they were part of its holdings, light or no light; but it meant no light.
Why then did not God compel them to love Him better ? It is because forced love is mere compulsion, but love is of the heart (Isaiah 29:13, Mark 12:28ff.). God knows how to reach the heart, and His methods are marvellous (Jeremiah 17:10-18, Hebrews 6). Leaving God personally out of it is like trying to fly an aeroplane without air. He has His own principles and He applies them in His own ways. His love is inordinate but not profligate.
God is a Spirit, and those who love Him thus need to love Him with all their heart and soul and mind and strength, being neither manipulees, objects of compulsion nor servants of hypocrisy. You see such sincerity for example, in Jeremiah 31:18-20. You see, on the other hand, the displacement of heart's love through contending passion, with the rich young ruler, in Mark 10:17ff.. His eagerness, for he came running, became displaced by mournful inertia. The love of God did not separate from His holiness, just as it did not cleave from His truth or His blazing moral purity (Romans 6).
Therefore God is sovereign in this choice ("He chose us...," Ephesians 1:4), the matter settled before creation, the foundation of this very world. The Gospel is itself His sovereign choice being the only mode of access, and divinely is it given. It is filled with His own character and with nothing entangled, it shines like the moon in the night from the sun of its origination, in this case, the word of the living God. Its light is the only one that saves (John 1), and it comes from the only God, its redemption paid by the only Saviour: and God is the only Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11), who Himself (Ezekiel 34) came as sent from heaven (Isaiah 48:15ff.), to seek and to save what was lost. Man is so encased in sin, that even in this light, that in which he was constructed, his fallen nature is negative (Ephesians 4:17-19, 2:1-12) in natural disposition and pathological response.. God however is not at a loss and is well able to penetrate this (Hebrews 6:4-6*1), and indeed before sin came, He already actually knew His own and had chosen them. He is not confused by situations, but aware of underlying reality. Such is the biblical position (Hebrews 4:13).
What then ? God chose the Gospel, the souls, the principles of choice and their application: all these, His sovereign choice. He discerns who are His, needing no help from any in doing that (John 1:12).Before time disclosed her coming heritage, deceit and deviousness, He did it, and even where it passed all bounds for a given entity, yet He continued till the end of the matter, as in heart, so in history (Isaiah 41:8-24).
He does not choose to be different, vacillatory or vapid: as He is, He acts, none His counsellor (cf. Isaiah 40, Galatians 1!); and as there shown, the apostle is to bring men to God, not qualify God for man! The universe grows and secedes; but God is the same (Psalm 102, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17). Thus we may find the outcome and the readout of His sovereign choice, when He deems this knowledge called for. His ways are the same. They do not change (Zephaniah 3:5, Isaiah 41:4). He does not abdicate in favour of the made and the fallen (Psalm 90, Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will, Ch. 3), to indulge their rebellion, but pursues His own knowledge, principles in place (Isaiah 40). Though with power over all, disdaining mere power, He acutely discerns those who are His own in terms of His love and mercy, His desire and the restraints of love.
And what then is the nature of this choice of His, what are its principles in point of fact ?
As in Proverbs 1, the Lord often in practice attributes responsibility for personal rejection of His free offer which mounts like the masterful wave providing salvation and eternal life (cf. Psalm 21, Titus 2-3, John 3). There in Proverbs it is with the prospective gift to be seen. In this case both the wisdom for life and the teaching that enlightens and enables are offered, both change of heart and input of understanding: it is not only gift but governance, enlightenment for the eyes and knowledge for the heart (Proverbs 1:20-24, cf. Ephesians 1:17). But in the case of Proverbs 1, God's passionate pleas are rejected, and the results then traced. The wilful failure belongs with the departing soul, the one turning away despite as in John 3, the utmost zeal for his salvation on the part of the Lord. The rupture and its cause lie with those to whom His sincere offer is forwarded, not through philosophic peculiarity, but through a marked, masterful and determined sin, born of the resistance of man as seen in his response to the God who knew from the first, before sin came to man, the differentials relevant and their assessment (Acts 7:51-53). Stephen did not muddle the issue. "You do always resist the Holy Spirit..."
Accordingly, in Jeremiah 13:15ff., there is found a particularly poignant case where the word of the Lord to the King has a depth and a grief hard to surpass, even a tenderness in view of the needless and foolish preference for the destructive darkness in the presence of the all-comprehending light; while Isaiah 48:15ff. is another, but this time surveyed in lamentation in retrospect;for God would greatly have had it otherwise, and so sought, and so lamented. Yet love is restrained, and does not become force, or leave its case for statistics (Jeremiah 13). Indeed, to forget this fact is to forget monuments of principles, regions of historical testimonies, towers of oft-repeated truth, mountains of grief and torrents of sorrowing on the part of the Lord.
As in John 3, it is in the very face of the magnificent scope and nature of His loving offer, that He faces and condemns its rejection. For HIS part, those heights are the source and the cover in view for man; for the part of many, that is their part, and so statedly THIS is the condemnation that despite such light for their plight, coming with such profound and pervasive extent and intent, many exhibit the contrary desire, evil their everlasting lair.
In John it is emphatic, that this is not some lack or lapse in His divine love (I John 4:7ff.), but precisely the contrary. It is a love which categorically does NOT have such patchiness, but gleams pervasively as recorded in the major scope of His enterprise. Rather in much and in many, it meets a special rejection in man, cut to the case, foreknown from the first, known before exhibited, assessed before seen. When such decisive and particular negative action is taken by man, God vigorously exculpates Himself and His plan of salvation in the point at issue. God loved, and this SO MUCH THAT He took this incomparable action in the realms of infinity to the target the world, sending the vastly precious and only begotten Son; and in issuing forth His everlasting place (Micah 5:1-3, John 8:58), He came not to condemn it but to save it. Condemnation was statedly no part of the originative passion (John 3:17-18). Many of mankind however, a distinctive category, John 3 goes on to relate, took evasive action (John 3:19). Foreknown as such, they did not fail so to act. As discerned before destiny, so they were.
Long before, even before our time was thrust into existence, the God-assessed children as well as those who would stumble were known to Him (Ephesians 1:4, I Peter 2:8). Accordingly, He knew where the heart lay in those cases as it flowed where it would go. Thus the will of God drew up and knew all the credentials or miscredence, and assessed and chose in terms of His own sovereign principles, and it used no manner of force, distortion or shanghaiing to grab any. Predestination appointed what foreknowledge knew, and what it knew was who were His own and who were not (II Timothy 2:19). To Him, the will of man was relevant but not sovereign (John 1:12). God approached what He would with what He would, how He would, and chose in terms of the result before He released this world into being.
Man is not recast as NOT in the image of God. The image, though distorted and defiled, is not beyond the knowledge of God and His pre-fall penetrations and ascertainments, whether this would be for the fresh waters to clean, or for the swamps to claim (as in the depiction in Ezekiel 47). NOTHING runs God, and HE works things in terms of what He states to be true of Himself and His desires, principles and purposes (cf. SMR Appendix B).
In all this the love of God desires with an enduring profusion of sensitive dynamic, while the restraint of God acts with eminent nobility and truth - for love is always restrained as to its disposition, unlike force and slavery to desire (cf. Ezekiel 33:11, Zephaniah 3:6-12, Ezekiel 20, Luke 19:42ff., Jeremiah 31:18-32, 34, Luke 15:11ff.). Yet it is neither shown weak nor fallible when its object evacuates from it: HOW OFTEN as in Matthew 23:37, is not the same as NEVER! nor is the difference minimal but mighty!
Thus, just as there are known results before creation re those chosen, there are also known principles, procedures and perspectives in the purity of the mind of God, in reaching the realities, in terms of what never changes, as shown so often and indeed quintessentially in Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, the same yesterday, today, forever. It was shown in the first choosing of His own before our time, or in the last keeping of them, the SAME love at work, whatever the sphere. In this heart, what He was on earth is what He was in heaven, and what He showed on earth is what surged in His impact and desire in heaven for man and his salvation, whether at this or that point in history, or before it began (Titus 2-3). Whether in things great or small, God has His ways and they do not change. Love and truth circulate in them, desire for good stirs profoundly in them.
It is in terms of these, and the special intensity of love which He has specified, especially in the definition of I John 4:4-7 concerning quality and character, and in the motivation expressed in John 3, and the scope of desire indicated in Colossians 1:19ff., and in logical sequence, in the foreknowledge encapsulated in predestination (as in Romans 8:30), that a divinely chosen and quite clear result may be read out an stated at any time, concerning the destiny of anyone. In a figure, it is like the result of an experiment being stated at one time in context, and the purpose of it another, and the method in yet a third depiction. This aspect and facility indeed may be found in Romans 9:8-19. Here, the choices are seen as made, their translation into history in due course assured, and this statedly concerning "the purpose of God according to election," It is for Him to know and show His elect, resulting from His finding the lost to bring home. Pleasingly, Berkhouwer in his "Divine Election,'" notes the feeling and sense of RESULT often found in the field, and this is abundantly manifest, though he does not pursue its specific nature. Love has its own penetration and findings, and this should never be lost sight of.
Man in conversion and salvation is to put off the old man and, we who are saved being renewed in the spirit of our mind, and to put on the new (Ephesians 4:22ff.), finding in Christ the Head (Ephesians 2:21-22, 1:22-23). There is a transformation from what was to what is as in a birth, the regeneration wrought by God. It is not a displacement as if it were some new robot that arrived from an exchange. Washed in regeneration and renewed by the Holy Spirit (as in Titus 3), those won appear a new creation (II Cor. 5:17), one wrought in a spiritual realisation and enduring refreshment by God, now fulfilling in underlying nature the creation at the first in the image of God, though as yet, far from perfected (Colossians 3:10). Of the Christian, says Paul, they have "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge according to the knowledge of Him who created him."
These are the ones God has foreknown as His, and it is necessary to remember in terms of all His stated principles of motivation and desire (cf. Colossians 1, John 3, I Timothy 2, Ezekiel 33), that it is one thing to find ground in a soul for the coming to it in advent, as at the personal level before the world was. It is another if the Lord were to find none, and yet come and dwell there. That would be take-over, not conversion. In the forceful parable of seeking for those to come to the King's festivities, they were to seek in the highways and in the byways after the formal guests had largely turned it down (Matthew 22:10); not proceed to take as with a panzer division, using force to replace understanding, and thrust to send away truth. Repentance is real, to the depths of the soul, not an ancillary to a manipulative or mere-thrust take-over.
Accordingly, God is sovereign in His choice ('He chose us,'), before the foundation of the world. In doing so, He deployed His desire and pursued His love to find His own: that was the METHOD of His divine choice. It was not His will to tyrannise, but to draw (John 12:32). He is the sovereign over 'sovereignty' as many conceive it, and as He is, so He does. Moreover it is by no means just the principles and the truth in election, which fashion results, however drastic the difference between these free in the Gospel and their original deserts; for consequences and sub-choices at various levels within effectual freedom, may also be fashioned for areas and arenas of history, as in the notorious case of Cyrus. This coming King as predicted through Isaiah. did not even know God, but was yet used as he was to do significant and predicted things for Israel. Even that was done, in terms of imperial deliverance for that bonded nation (cf. Isaiah 41:21-28, 44:24-45:19). Types of this kind or that, and typifications may indeed be employed by the grand moral purity and wisdom of God!*2
The Gospel which is His sovereign choice, is the only mode of access to Him as accepted; it is His and He proclaimed it entirely from His own heart, without alteration or alternation or equivocation or change (Galatians 1-6). But is there merit in the person who is found because he is found in foreknowledge with its subsequent translation into more ordinary reality ? Is there superiority in such persons intrinsically, who are known to receive Him (for He does not choose what does not! - Proverbs 1, as directly as what does, the rest a litany of loss) ? In fact, such a superiority in some could be ONLY if man in the image of God were not free but loaded like a robot or a plaything to action one way or the other, a virtual compulsion. Yet God is not forced and His frequent laments for man in this salty area, when His gift is not taken by man, reflect this fact. What in such cases is not chosen despite what might have been, is clouded in lament; for God shows magnificent restraint, partner of liberty for man.
A man is born anew through love, not law; God uses law, law can soar, but the unleashing of love (as in I Corinthians 13 for example, and stated in I Timothy 1:5), is the end in view.
If, then, contrary to the word of
God, the preference of man (foreknown by God despite current sin), were not only
rendered inoperative by principle because of the fall (John 1:12), but
irrelevant to God Himself, even when He acts, then an X-factor is to be
sought, or a sum of such items, differential in some, as the criterion, joint or singular, for
selection. But to the contrary, God is both keen and careful to remove such a consideration (cf.
Matthew 22:1-14). Indeed, to Him come not many of the outstanding among human
persons (I Corinthians 1:26-31), and many prefer darkness to His definitive
light, this divinely characterised light; and its shunning in view of this, is
met by the Lord's statement of the ground of condemnation in the midst of such
an impelling light. In the very midst of the record of His coming, His
incarnation, His magnificence, His love, its vast nature and scope and intensive
application in the Gospel. It is THIS which explains the lot of many, in daring,
doughty defiance of His truth, His love, His salvation, despite all the Gospel provisions and wonder (John
But when, in accord with the word and love of God, man 's essential freedom as in the image of God and expressed in principle, is seen as still relevant to the sovereign ways of God (as shown in Predestination and Freewill and SMR Appendix B for example), then freedom is not force and one thing perpetually clear in the Bible, is this that God never forces "faith". Yet dismiss the word of God and you start to become a disciple of your own (Isaiah 5:24-28), though He solicit, urge, reason and beckon. As they come, so they have gone. It is when in reality they DO come to Him, instead of making false starts (John 5:40-42), askew and astray, or using false premisses (Mark 7:7ff.), that salvation is to be seen. However, Christ lamented that those in view WERE NOT WILLING to come to Him, despite the ardent testimony of His Father-supported works and personal testimony. Indeed, He declared, "I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you." This He has known since the epoch of foreknowledge, from the first, before sin was in man or man was in this world.
It is He who recognises His own, who are free indeed of manipulation as of false force, which merely brings in the irrelevant, since force has nothing to do with faith. God is not of a morbid mind, but cites the relevant reason for rejection of some quite clearly. It is that despite the depth of the divine appeal: they WILL not come to Him (Matthew 23:37, John 5:40ff., 15:21ff.), in an adversative exclusion seen before history and to be manifested in it in due time. To the very depth of the cross, they will not come to Him, despite the decisive divine desire (Colossians 1:19ff.). That is the selective criterion of the cross, tenacious to the last, leaving cover for nothing.
There is no entanglement, for all is open to Him with whom we have to deal. In His presence all barriers to knowledge lie aside, and in His power and perspective, every deceit, deviousness is powerless, while truth has no place to be hidden as He sees beyond and before the scenes of history.
If there were merit in being prepared to come to Christ, seen in essence not in history as initial criterion, and sure knowledge, for He KNOWS His own ( Timothy 2:19, John 10:9,27-28), then the person concerned would have to possess that as a distinctive feature as part of himself or herself, whether in set psyche, hardware or other. That however is not freedom nor speaks it of responsibility in man, but a journey into the robotic or directed. God is just, and it is the dismissal of Gospel mercy which sets the way for judgment not only deserved (Ephesians 4:17-19), but merited all over again.
Moreover, the Lord knows and chooses His own in a way unique to Himself, and necessarily unique. Desiring all, He takes what may be found, in terms of capitulation not chains, surrender not herding, and so from foreknowledge's operation, knows. But what ? Surrender is hardly glorious, nor is abandonment of false claims on the part of man, meritorious. It makes the way open for correction. Nor does He make negotiations, the sheer flair of which could be gratuitously called diplomatic merit by the one yielding. The conditions are repentance, which signifies folly, error and just loss, and faith in the merit of Him who covers the cost, and it is scarcely a sign of merit to be paid for, the more when the NEED to be paid for is operative if to keep outside the gates of hell! (Luke 13:1-3, John 8:24).
When He chose before our time or world or sin even existed, when we were assembled in the mind of God but not in practical reality as created, then He saw us, knew His own, foreknew them, found there the entry and there the opportunity, to save without force and to deliver without merely overpowering assault forces. In CHOOSING His people there, it was He and not they who acted. They were receptors, He the Redeemer; and so was it foreknown.
There is no merit in being foreknown as those whose hearts in their utter freedom on the issue, yet were moved to find haven in Christ. But there is a sound of merit like a storm, in being chosen by God in the other and man-made model where there is no knowledge of why He chose a given individual, not even the principle of the matter, except this, that you breach John 3:19 and insist in retort that the act of coming as a distinctive is goodness, and hence to be avoided. If a criminal pleads for mercy, is that merit ? Is it to be cited on his behalf as a ground of acquittal ? Hence unlike that case, where God is deemed to choose without reference to man's preference as in John 3:19, the coming as in essence foreknown is precisely where merit is absent, while having God choose without reference to will even as relevant, focusses a distinctive feature IN what is chosen, and this deemed so by God, whose preference is good! There rather would lie merit! Choice by God were human preference at all phases and in all respects is ruled out postulates priority. It is when it is not in contravention of John 3:19 ruled out, but given place (outside ordinary history - John 1:12), in the overview of God who knew mankind after his formulation and before his creation, that all the scriptures are ready to be met.
It is better to keep to the word of God in interpreting it, let one be found a liar! says Proverbs 30:6, and Deuteronomy 4:2, for example, makes it clear that subtracting is in the same category as adding. In sin man is in his now natural condition insinuated into folly, and tends to be spiritually paralysed in the essential steps (I Cor. 2:14), but this is no impasse since this is not at all the site for the choice, which preceded this world, and further, when God enters any natural environment it is not a small matter, but can transform without limit what erstwhile had its limits and its blocks. Hence in Hebrews 6, we find much is the spiritual involvement of those who yet slip away, tasting and not eating the meat of mercy, though they have tasted of both divine power and heavenly things; and King Saul appeared the same. God DOES make a difference and we are dealing with the work of God, by God, for His own kingdom. Indeed, this even in the pathological phase of the history, whereas the divine choice was wrought without the pathological part that moved against the eternally significant action in salvation's prospect, something absent in the pre-world, pre-sin case!
Again, only in God is there that purity of heart and possession of all that is desired which, when missing, makes utilisation of others available as an opening for self-will, for some kinds of saving, or even partitive forwarding of issues under the name of salvation, aspects in fact favouring what is desired in lieu of the need for the uttermost for man. To open a door on the part of the merely partial kind of 'saviour', (not only being without total and accurate knowledge, but without discernment of the advantages to be conferred), readily and frequently leads to abuse of power. In such cases inability or partiality readily becomes an opening in the salvation which is provided, for inadequacy at best, confusion or deceit at worst, including self-deceit and the turmoils seen on earth by deliverers without enduement, knowledge and self-control.
Even more, the needs of the giving heart are integral to its living, if it is an incomplete power or a partial kind, not God, and what it wants if at best it be good, is contained in its restricted thoughts, ready for direct action. But what has the answer to that but God who IS altogether good, and without need for His own lustre and life! Cutting out the preference of man, not only as operative in salvation, but even as relevant FOR IT, in the eye of God who sees below all thresholds and knows beyond even man's conscious mind, is to blow away (cf. SMR Appendix B, The Christian Pilgrimage, Ch. 3) so many scriptures as if to make it a volcanic eruption!
While it is God who does the saving, then, and not man, nor can man save at his own level what is at the same, nor can the partial so perform, yet there is the second negative. It is God who is relevantly aware of the essential disposal of the image-bearing liberty of man who chooses, and not one who is not! It is foreknown before history was in natural being and polluted, and can again be known by God after that, for He is not limited.
Indeed, God is at pains in John 3 to make it clear that HE has done in His eternal power what is needed for man's salvation, in intensity of sacrificial forwarding, in application of divine love to the very base in earth, in extraordinary faithfulness in bringing the light into the darkness, in BEING in Christ the source of life and its succour; so that IF man does NOT take the gift in view, that IS the condemnation. To prefer otherwise in the light of this light, then, this IS the condemnation. It is this (John 3:19,36) which brings condemnation at the final level (as in John 15:21ff.), and through this no hope remains for the man who sees these things and does not receive the Lord. John 15 is very emphatic about these things.
The relevance of human preference so far from being not pertinent at all, in principle, is crucial, and categorical! Thus its misuse is mourned (Isaiah 48:15ff., and hence condemned - as in Proverbs 1). As autonomy, it cannot exist in sin, and in any case autonomy is God's, and the most man can have is limited to what is specifically enabled in him: freedom relative to many little things and one major one, God Himself.
Freedom requires no force or compulsion for control, and abhors it where present. It needs no invasion to expunge its choices or constitute its dynamic and address, let alone intrinsic alignment. In this, it is the marked contrary of anything like the underlying concept in a cruise rocket or any other direction control. That would simply attest man being made in some other image than that of the living God. Being a creature, he CANNOT be autonomous, but relevant to God is the response to life and its Founder in man who in the beginning was uninhibited as before God, who is by no means confused by his later pathologies.
God watches, tries and understands man (Jeremiah 17:9-10, Psalm 11) and discerns him, including his essential direction, when in His presence or related to it (Isaiah 37:25-29, 41:11, 43:1-2).
Returning from abortive freedom and fraudulent responsibility then, for God is just, and His throne is set in righteousness, while mercy goes before His face (Psalm 89), some other and imaginary image for man than that posited in the Bible is as relevant to the word of God as sin to virtue. In the present and biblically defined and exhibited one however, foreknowable and foreknown in this field, man is perfectly free, constantly confronting God to his own detriment, frequently blundering amiss despite His tender entreaties (Jeremiah 13). In His word, the Lord Himself is seen repeatedly reflecting on the needless loss (cf. Isaiah 48:15ff., II Chronicles 36) of opportunities, in such affairs, even of blessings and deliverances through such human action, now cut off.
Indeed, there is also no possession of merit for man in the divine foreknowledge of man. There is no glory in non-suicide, neither attainment in receiving the salvation worked out and in entirely in terms of Another, whose love has removed every burden (Romans 5). It is rescue, not self-realisation, for as to the latter, "the wages of sin is death," but as to the gift by grace (Romans 5:15), "the gift of God is eternal life," (Romans 6:23). To receive riches is not to create them or to create the willingness to receive them. If there were an inherent tilt in man in this issue of coming to the Lord, past penetrable disease in some, freedom would be a distorted pretence, and not itself, and man a manipulable product that contrary to reason, testimony and observation alike, would implicate God in its unbiblical thrust, elevate man the rebel until he should be moved to be a pestiferous formulation, make the Gospel irrelevant while misnaming all things.
Moreover, its imaginative categories becoming merely fantasy excursion, its testimony the contrary of what is specifically attested, exhibited, experienced and towering over history, it would constitute definition by contradiction, responsibility by misattribution and castigation for being created. It is useless to assign goodness when the will of One does it, the will of the other is irrelevant and the result festers. The actual author of any tilt in its essential differentiation would be in line for responsibility then for all evil; whereas in John 3, God defines His own part as a loving intervention without any signal of evasion of any, but with drastic condemnation of the whole human movement to the contrary of the life-saving gift, making them and not at all Himself, the source of their own exclusion. See what I have done, and what you do, and the results, he is saying, where the positive presentation is negated by man. The contrast is continual.
Yet by no means is man, because possessed of such freedom THROUGH the special knowledge of God, and the nature of His construction, to be congratulated on salvation any more than the case with someone confused and doomed in the water, is found accepting the salvation of the life-saver. Without that, nothing. It is as in Ephesians 2:8ff.. Salvation is by grace through faith and the whole thing is the work of God. Putting an end to boasting, for man, it declares itself the work of God. Man neither makes himself (Psalm 100), nor secures his own salvation (procured and paid for by another), nor possesses the will to HAVE salvation, nor has the capacity to create it.
If God had not penetrated to reality, past the distorted and pathological will of subsided man; if God had not sovereignly resolved to be loving, self-sacrificial, just, paying the price of His desire for all men (I John 2:1-2), patient and stark in His incarnation and crucifixion, turning the hatred of fallen man into the occasion of his salvation, murder becoming the base for substitutionary sacrifice (Acts 2-3, I Corinthians 1); if He had not invented the route of salvation and the integrity of its payments (Romans 3:23ff.), so that mercy might be magnified and justice overcome without distortion; if He had not put thought into action, and action into adequacy: if the Almighty had not made a way for the last ravings even of the human race, rescuing the unlovely and hearing the cry for Him: then in vain the hope of man and the plight which propelled him to hell. He would have been swallowed up as a cicada by a strong wind.
Let us then rejoice in the depth and adequacy, love and mercy, justice and reliability, wonder and glory of God, and by no means allow the debasing of His name, as though He were not desirous of bringing ALL to salvation, did not so love THE WORLD, but only part of it, or failed to provide for the same an adequate ransom available by reception (Romans 8:32ff.), angels in heaven still rejoicing when one last one comes home, brought with all the zest that love has for what it cherishes in the drastic magnitudes of its kindness (cf. Titus 2-3, Isaiah 49-55).
A loving God has made a loving Gospel at a cost correlative to such love in such a divine Being, given the clearest result and this is freely received by those who are His own, and so they are known, and for them He has prepared an abiding place with eternal life (John 14:1ff., II Corinthians 5:1ff., I Corinthians 15). There is no merit for man in accepting a life saver for his spirit and a source of resurrection for his body, for merit lies vicariously in the superb reliabilities and gracious marvels of God. It is (cf. Ephesians 2; 4:17-19) like being cut out of a car wreckage in which you are dying, or found in a desert where you vital fluids are at breach point, or being rescued when disoriented, deranged, doomed; but there is wisdom in it! As to God, He is love as well as light (John 1, I John 4:4ff.), and the consequences of its dismissal, remain (John 3:19,36).
Foreknowledge occurs where the unchanging character of Christ (Hebrews 13:8, Luke 19:42) is seen manifested, where neither sin nor superiority applies, where freedom vents itself, in heaven liberally, just as it is aided on earth by continual clusters of grace; and in the imagination that things are utterly different, there is mere transmutation of truth, of Christ Himself! Our God is a very great one; there is no other; and His understanding in infinite. Nothing is to be deemed too hard, even the salvation of the possessed soul or the maddened mind, even if its condition is gross beyond all human recognition. It is the prostitution of love to obtain 'results' where not love but other power is the source that is utterly excluded, as seen most poignantly for example in Jeremiah 13, where tenderness is left to rot, and a valiant hope and offer is not taken up.
You see the same divine penetration into a heart evidently not converted in the case of King Saul, who prostrated himself and long prophesied, so that they asked: "What is this that has come to the son of Kish ? Is Saul also among the prophets ?"
You find it in the decadent case of
Balaam, who made staggeringly accurate spiritual predictions
of no small salvation weight,
while yet cited as baneful, misled and opportunistic
and making fatal dealings (cf. Numbers 24:17 with Jude 11).
It is wise never to forget the
actions of God personally, when surveying the norms.
Like the colour of light, freedoms
instituted by the power and presence of God are numerous, varied in format,
bared in a magnificence that man could not make. That is one reason why
and does not make man.
He has another source both in logic and invention, one adequate from the first,
not needing to invent itself from nothing.
Thereby man comes not by begging the question,
which is no fit power for origin,
but by the Eternal Life of the Everlasting Father of spirits,
God of creation and Author of redemption,
which is adequate:
covering both creation and maintenance, function and fall.
So for the time, man is and persists.
In and for man, there is
freedom TO do various things or avoid them,
freedom FROM another variety of entities, to which compulsion may not extend,
freedom FOR things numerous and
freedom in an essence
of categories for which man's gifts, faculties
freedom to deny forces and
freedom to seek or to deny God,
to seek Him or to deny Him.