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CHAPTER  10

The Salubrious Synthesis

and Saved Sinners

I saw a young lad on the sea-shore, and he seemed to be musing.

What are your thoughts ? I asked this juvenile exemplar of the image of God in flesh, though fallen flesh as all the rest.

I am thinking of destiny, he said.

Good, a wise move, I replied.

How come that some people are good and some bad, is it in their characters ?

It may be, but why do you ask ?

Well, if some people wander away from what is right, and have no choice, just being that way inside, is that fair ?

Fair to whom or to what ? I asked.

Is it their fault if they just go on the way they are made ? and they seem to get trouble.

But DO they JUST go on the way they are made ?

Yes, I think they do.

Were they never young ?

I suppose, long ago, they must have been.

Did they never willingly do wrong ?

I suppose they must have done so.

Did they ever seek to know WHO made them and why ?

Do you have to have someone make you ?

Yes, things do not make themselves before they are there to do it, and what is there has to be able to do it, or it won't get done. It IS done, so there was someone capable to handle all our powers, to bring them together into one.

How do we think ? do we have to think what we think ?

No, for you can see for yourself while you are thinking, that various thoughts suggest themselves but you are conscious of not HAVING to follow them in preference to other thoughts, but decide for yourself that you will.

Yes, I do that.

If you find that it was wrong ...

What IS wrong ? my parents tell me this and that, and not always the same thing.

Have you ever done wrong ?

Yes, often.

What MAKES you do it ?

Nothing, I just want to do it.

How do you ever know it is wrong then ?

I see that it was not good for me, made me less able, clear, reliable, faithful, strong and just left a feeling of lowness.

Then right is to be reliable and strong and faithful and moving in a way which is above foolishness, disregard for what you are given...

Yes, but what AM I given ?

You are given the power to walk and talk and act and think and look for the right and do it or not.

Why am I given this ?

To do well with it.

Who gave it to me ?

The One who is capable of making you as we saw.

Who is that One ?

This is God, Creator of all things, including the power to know right and wrong, though this can be spoiled like a body or a mind.

Why don't I talk to Him then ?

Good question. He left a calling card for you.

Did He ? I never heard of it.

That is one of the things wrong with our education these days. You can learn about anything but what made everything.

Well you put it right for me then.

All right. I can introduce you to the One, the Creator.

Do.

He did not leave us to stew in thoughts, but came one day...

Oh yes, I know, at Christmas, it is Jesus or someone like that.

Yes, God for centuries said He would come and do it, where, when, how and so on, and then He did, there, then and so on, and they killed Him.

They killed our Creator ?

Yes, you see sin, you know, wrong choices and uses of what we have been created to have, this kills.

I can see that: it makes you less, a mess, and in the end mess is it.

So He said, since our love comes from His, Clear the mess.

But wouldn't that just leave nothing at all ?

Yes, if He were not God AS man, so that GOD remains when the mess doesn't.

How did He clear the mess, I mean, if He became dead, or a mess, how did that help ?

Doctors sometimes take a vaccine to see if it works, because they want to save some people from becoming a mess in their bodies, from disease.

I see, hey, this is good, so He took our sin on Himself to  clear the mess, and being really God, when it killed Him, that was just AS a man, but He kept right on. What happened to His body then when they killed it ?

God raised it.

But how could He do that if He were already dead ... Oh I see, it was only a body which He had taken, through a woman wasn't it, I remember from Christmas scenes. HE just left that body, alive yet beyond that loss, and what ? Didn't He need a body any more ?

No, except for one thing.

I know, or I think I do, He wanted to show them that even if He got to be a mess, He could overcome that, so He took the mess and made it alive again ?

Yes that is called the resurrection of His body.

So we do not have to die in the end, if He did that for us, I mean took the sickness of sin and brought life that could not die back with Him, and as He gave us the one, He gave the other.

Yes, that is entirely right.

So I do not have to die in the end, there is something that stays for me ?

True.

How do I get it ?

You tell God that  you thank Him for sending Jesus, His name on earth, His perfect expression set in a body, the Christ, that is the One to die for you, and want Him to be your Saviour.

Do I have to do what He says, as if He were parents and all that ?

Would you want to ?

I don't know. What would He want ?

He would want you not to do wrong, to make the most and best of your mind and body and thoughts, and to use them to help others to do the same.

That's good. I want that myself. It is silly otherwise, as if you were God and could do anything.

He would want you to love Him.

Why would He do that ?

You know how you can help someone because you have to, or because you see it would be wrong not to do so, or else, if say your mother were in hospital, you could help because you loved your mother and could hardly wait to help her get better.

Of course.

Then the God who made all people wants you to live in love, not in mere duty, and do things with all your heart.

But I want that too.

Good. Do you love God ?

Of course, after all, He made me, and wants me to do  good.

Any other reason ?

Yes He died for sin, and since I am a sinner, He died for me.

That's right.

Did He pick me out and say, Here is someone I love, I will die for him.

Yes He did, He picked everyone out.

Why don't they all come to Him then, and be good ?

Because of sin.

But if everyone sins, why does anyone love Him ?

Because He saves sinners.

But what if they want to sin more than to be cured of it ?

Then that is what they do.

Is that why they die inside ?

Yes.

I don't want to die inside.

Then you need Jesus as your Saviour.

Good, and I AM sorry for my sins.

Then tell Him  so and welcome Him into your heart as Lord.

What do you mean ?

He is God, shown in human form, born from Mary, a sacrifice for sin.

You mean we  slough it off and He sups it up ?

You could say that: He bears it, we say.

Like a disease and dies with it and for it.

Precisely.

But why doesn't He make everyone want not to die and not to sin
if He makes some like that ?

It is because you cannot love if you are not free to do it, and if you are to  love, you have to be free, so that if you are free, you are free to sin, and all sin.

How does He pick anyone out for Himself, then ?

He wants all to be good, to be saved, to be His, but you know how it is with love ...

How is it ?

It does not force anyone. When you hear of sexual assault, you hate it, it is wicked and rubbish, nothing to  do with love, but the exact opposite, for it is meant to express the love that is supposed to go with children.

So God does not force us.

No.

So ... wait a minute, let's think, when He offers us life that does not stop or rot, then He does not force us to take it... otherwise it would not be love and the whole thing would be rubbish.

That is correct reasoning, good thought.

So some people say, NO, I do not want this because I want something else more.

They may even JUST not want it, for they love themselves or their ideas so much that ANYTHING else, even God simply does not matter.

Yes, I think I have seen that sort of thing. It is not nice, definitely.
Can I keep on saying 'so' ?

Why not, what you so you will reap.

Except it should be sow'' ...

We can smile.

Yes, why not.

It's good to talk and think.

Yes it is, God made us able to do this, and it helps.

Helps what ?

Helps us to feel for God and to find Him.

Yes I was asking you what does it mean that the One who is ready to save me would be my Lord ?

It means that since you accept Him  as God in the form of man, and since He has loved you enough to die for you, that you love Him enough to work for Him.

Is it like being slaves ?

No, slavery is not a loving thing.

What is it like then ... is it like obeying your parents.

Only if you do that because you love them.

I think I do, usually anyway.

But here, it is not because you were born from them, but because if you came to Jesus as Saviour with all your heart, you would not leave any part of it out.

I see. I see.

Do you want to serve God in love, God who made you and sent to save you ?

Of course.

Then that would mean that He is your Lord.

A sort of Governor.

And a friend, who knows you more than you know yourself, and makes you the best from what you are, as one of His children.

I become a child of God in spirit ?

Precisely.

I want that. That's better than being a child of my school, which makes all sorts of bad things sound good. God knows everything and does not have to change all the time, as they do.

Yes.

I love God. I want to become His, you know, as if He were a country and I applied for ... what do you call it ?

For a visa.

Yes, let's set about this.

Good, you tell me you hate sin, are sorry for it, want God to save you from it, and to make you one of His children, like being born all over again, and to give you a visa for His kingdom,  yes ?

Yes. What do you call His kingdom ?

Jesus often called it the kingdom of heaven

I really like that, that's a kingdom for me, where I can be a citizen.

It says that in Philippians 3:20. It goes on to tell what is to come in this kingdom. It says that God will transform these present bodies of ours to become like the resurrected body of Christ Jesus.

How ?

 It says that it is "according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself," in the very next verse. When you have power to design and make human bodies, it is no big thing to resurrect them, if you will. As a Christian, I long for the time when He does.

It is good to have God around.

Let's tell God all this, and then we can talk more if you want to.

Dear God, I am a sinner who is sorry for his sin and you are the Saviour who is kind to me to take my sin, so that I leave the mess and you take it, and I take you to my heart, to love you, leaving no part out, and want to serve you and obey you and do good and be good, not that I ever can hope here to be perfect, but perfectly free from sin, like a driving rain, pushing me here and there. Please save me, and thank you for dying for Me on the Cross, and make my heart willing, like a friend, to love you and understand you. Thanks a lot for coming alive in your body again, I love that, for it shows how powerful and wise you are, and I love to have this to look forward to. Amen.

Great, now you can know God.

So did God know I would do this ?

Of course.

He knew more than 16 years ago, when I was born ?

Naturally, for He invented time, which makes us wait for things, as you see in Romans 8:38-39.

Did He know before time as we see it, came, then ?

He knew before He created, what would be.

And who would be His, He knew that  ?

It says so in Ephesians 1:4, part of the Bible.

I suppose He would do so, for otherwise He would just be experimenting, and how wise would that be, and what would He be doing experimenting when He invented the whole thing.

He wouldn't be doing that.

 

II

I met him again, the next day.

Hi, do you have time to talk ?

Yes I do, but what is your name ?

John.

Good, John, how are you today concerning Jesus ?

It is great, like starting life all over again.

Is there anything more you want to think about today ?

Yes there is.

What is it then ?

Well, does it mean, if God knew who would be His before time began, that they were better than others, because I am no better, than others.

Not at all. Why did Christ die for them if they were so much better ?

That's what I sort of thought.

Did He just want them to be free, and to love if they would; and they would ?

Yes, it is like that. He can see people before they sin, and know them as an architect may know a building before it is built. He foresees.

He knows what He is doing before He does it, so does He what ... foreknow ?

Yes, He foreknows the PEOPLE who are His.

Because He knows that they freely want Him ?

Yes.

Doesn't that make them seem a bit better then, than the ones who want only themselves or what they select for themselves ?

It may do so, but it is not so.

Why is it not so ?

Christ told a parable. It was about a farm with two sons, and a father who gave one son his part of the property, or value, because that son wanted it. He went away and did a lot of wrong, and was left a mess. He decided that though life seemed fine to be free to be what you want, when you want it and how you want it, it was only a mess. He went back to serve Dad on the farm. His Dad, because he loved him, would have none of that, and took him back as a son, and had an animal killed for a feast.

Just like Jesus, a man for people, who was killed so that we could become what in goodness God wanted us to be, forgiven, taken back, sons and children of God.

Yes, just like that. But his older brother ..

Who had served his father, I bet, so nicely all the time...

You've got it, he had.

Was jealous ? People are often like that.

He was. WHY does this brother of mine have all the fun and then come home and be back as if he had not made a mess and a loss and acted the fool. Is there no justice! That was the sort of feeling he seemed to show.

What did the father do then  ?

He told the other son that the farm was like his own - of course he would have his part in due time and meanwhile was using it all the time without restriction - and that he had not had to suffer the loss of it all for such a long time, as the younger brother had. The point was that the brother had been saved.

That doesn't make it look too good for the older brother.

No.

Was he one who loved God ?

If he repented and loved, then he would show that.

So you mean ... let me think... you mean that God does not select perfect people, when He ... what was the word ?

Foreknows who are His.

Yes, when He does that. He selects with special attention just to their freedom, not their goodness, to find if they desire Him with all their hearts, as I do, or whether they do not ?

Precisely.

So they are no better than anybody else ? He just knows where there freedom is, and since it IS freedom, then they are not forced to be this or that, to be better or worse, and this is just the way their freedom goes. It means nothing about being any better. In themselves, they might even be worse (I did not like that older brother, not at all).

That's the point.

But what about the sin they are born in ?

They have in their freedom, since it is all about truth, to be willing to be saved from their sin.

Yes, I know, for just last night my older brother was laughing at me because I am a Christian, and he made it seem a silly thing to want not to be a mess, and to serve God and love Him.

Some people take a long while to find God, some always want to be just themselves, and so cannot find Him. Part of being free is what freedom means. What you freely choose has a cost.

Yes I know that now.

Are you sorry ?

Sorry only for my sins, but what it costs to be a child of God, well whatever you do costs, so what does that matter!

It does not, but it may hurt.

What pride ?

Yes, pride.

Well who wants that, it messes you up.

It does.

Hey, does this mean that when God foreknows who are His, He also foreknows that their freedom is willing to be saved from sin, for sin they certainly will when they come to this earth ?

It surely does. God does not hide the truth, but makes it shine out, like the sun with light.

So everyone who comes to God has to be freely willing in heart, before ever sin came, as God knows it all ... I have got lost.

Everyone who knows God has to be freely willing, before sin came, to do what then ?

Why, to face the ... bad look of admitting you are a sinner and that you cannot save yourself, and that since God made you, He can remake you, and it is on for you.

That is correct. That is where this freedom leads, and so what in truth, it must face.

So then God foreknew that in their freedom, which He put there because He loves and you cannot love without it, just react like a robot, they would be willing to come to Him. So when in sin they were a shambles, He just took them. That was that.

That is that.

So then, does it mean this: that every Christian has nothing to offer in ... what would you call it  ?

Personal merit ?

Yes, every Christian has nothing to offer in personal merit, before the God who saves him, and thus ... it is nothing to do with merit that he is saved.

Christians know this. Paul makes it clear that being saved has nothing to do with getting there because of what you do, in Romans 3, and in Ephesians 2, that the whole thing is of God, so that being saved is through grace by faith, and so has nothing to do with your contribution. It  is all a work of God.

I do it, but God makes the door open and my eyes to see.

Yes, not as if you were any better, but because freely you were willing, and He knew from the first, and made it work out that way, to the last.

Just as He knew one of His friends wasn't good ?

Yes, He knew Judas was a devil, knew it before he betrayed Him.

It's good that He knows, for now He knows I am His child.

Yes, you see that in Galatians 4:3-7. Because He sent Christ out to pay for sins, redeem, and when we come to Him, then "because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!' "

Does it say more there then ?

Yes, it has this: "Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."

What do I inherit ? God is enough for me.

Romans 8 tells us that those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ inherit all things, because He being delivered up for them all, giving all, has all for them.

It must be great to have a place in heaven, niche, an abode.

It is, and now you have one.

 

III

Hi John.

Good morning. I have a new question for you.

Good, I like questions about these matters.

Why ?

It is because God's word has all the answers, but He may make you think, like a good teacher, and so you understand more, as you study His word for the resolution.

Yes, I suppose it could be great fun, and a sort of adventure.

It even removes rubble before the snow plough of the Gospel.

It helps you to see.

Further, it helps you to become strong and ready to avoid tricks and traps, as well as show how glorious is the wisdom of God, and how worthy He is, and the pure beauty of His truth. 

That IS the truth isn't it!

It is just that. Your read Psalm 119 some day.

Here is my question then.

Go ahead, full steam.

If people who sin are on death row before God, then why does He love them so ... I mean so much as all that ?

Remember the Tale of Two Cities of Charles Dickens ?

Yes, I do, Carton died for the aristocrat who loved the one he would have liked for his own wife, didn't he ?

He did.

So you mean that love is not so concerned about how great or small its object it: if it loves, it pays.

Yes. So God loved and He paid willingly, for those who loved Him freely.

Do you mean that in two senses: it was a free thing so to love Him, not forced or contrived, and secondly they were made free freely, so that He having paid, they did not have to work for the right to love Him once more, and be loved: is that it ?

It certainly is, Romans 5:15 telling us this, "Much more, the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many." It is all gift.

It's a great gift in scope then. I like that.

The extent of the love of God is shown in Isaiah 50. God says to sinful Israel,

"Where is the certificate for your mother's divorce, whom I have put away ? or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you! for your iniquities have sold yourselves."

Whatever does that mean ?

It means this. God loves. Israel sins. God offers pardon. Israel offers slighting carelessness. God protests. Did I divorce you, your city, your nation, and put away what is for you, as if to pay a debt ? Where do you find that! I have no creditors, He is saying, and you have not been forced to be sold like slaves, for Me to make something for Myself out of you!

As if God wanted to make a profit out of His creation when it is all made by Him, and He needs nothing, and is full of giving and forgiving.

Far from that profiteering, it is indeed. The simple truth is, He is telling Israel, that you have sold yourselves, and why ? because you wanted sin, and clung to it, like someone clinging to radioactive material, and refusing to let it go.

I can see clearly now how hell comes about. If you cling to the dump truck and take drugs, you dream into the pit.

And God knows who are His, and rescues anyone anywhere from anything, who is His and comes to salvation. You have to call on Him.  This, He does out of a love that stays its heart and hand, a restraint without which there is no love. In fact, He acts in terms of real freedom for man on this point, so that without it, there would be only manipulation or direction. These however, they desire and have desired Him.

Yes, even before they were made, He knew that and wanting everyone, He yet just took those who in love were there to be loved.

So He did not force, He knew what they freely wanted.

Yes. Thus God not only keeps those who are committed to Him, against the day of judgment, that they stay free and stay His as in II Timothy 1:12, but He does it in faithfulness, not out of some kind of misplaced passion! It is not fits and starts, hot and cold, but a security in wisdom, and a faithfulness in commitment.

Yes, I think I read it is a covenant in His blood.

Yes, as in Matthew 26:28, and those who are His are already foreknown and planned for purchase, before the world was.

I surely am glad that this world has nothing to do with it.

Now that you are His, even you are not able to break it up.

That's good. I probably would be tempted to do so in some fit of anger or silliness, otherwise.

You already have eternal life and do not come into judgment, as in John 5:24.

I'll surely plan to remember that.  Tell me, when I become His, without what you call merit, then do I remain His, without merit. I do not have to earn my place all the time do I ?

No you do not, for becoming a having been saved person, as Ephesians 2:8 puts it, is wholly of God, a matter of grace through faith; and what is brought there, was predestined in the first place, because so foreknown, by God as in II Timothy 1. Ephesians 1:11 tells us we already have our inheritance, and 1:13-14, that like timber, we are sealed with a guarantee, the Holy Spirit, a stamp to signify our inheritance and place,  till we are resurrected and placed in the place  prepared for us as in John 14.

So is it just love that drives me on to do good ?

Why not ? But God is love, so that it is not just an emotion or feeling or intuition or vision which drives you, though ALL of these may be present, like a garden of flowers and shrubs, through which you nevertheless walk ON THE PATH.

They did not make the walk, for the One who made that, made them too. Is that it then ?

You love Him, you become His child, His Holy Spirit enters into your heart bringing strength, depth, discipline and continual tune-up, to invigorate and enable (Romans 8:8, Ephesians 3:16 show this). Then, as a child of light, as Paul calls it, you act like it.

What happens if you slip on the path ?

If you slip on the path, you get up, bow in prayer, ask forgiveness, and go back to your celestial coach for more strength and vision and vigour. I don't mean coach, as in carriage, I meant it as your tutor and active 'sport' guide, who helps you to be able. In fact, in Isaiah 33 it refers to our walk as being on the Highway of Holiness. That is where the children of God walk. On this, even a 'fool' does not go astray! Indeed, in Isaiah 51,the "ransomed of the Lord," and there is only one way as in Galatians 1, to be that, are said to have "everlasting joy on their heads." That's just like Ephesians 1:11 and I Peter 1:5-8. For the Lord's sheep, heaven is reserved, and these are those who enter by Him, as the door, these, they do not perish for He keeps them, and knows them by name (John 10).

So then there is never any merit to get you there or keep you there, but God's promise does it, and God being personal and powerful and loving and now your own Father, He relates to you ...

He communes with you and in Him you gain counsel.

Then it is always only His merit that keeps you in His kingdom, but you work out of love, and so put your whole heart into it.

Exactly. That's what I call the salubrious synthesis: that is, it combines as one the sovereign power of God, to do things in His own way, with His own Gospel without help or addition or subtraction,  and to act with His own effective results, with the freedom of man. Thus for  all his sin sunken powerlessness before God, man is yet interpreted, not directed as by dictator or shanghai group to force you or make you in some way, drugged or constrained merely, to go in - and so on. But he is called, effectually, drawn, foreknown as willing, preferring God to sin, even at the cost of repentance and the Gospel and its apparent shame among the shambles.

You put the two together ?

Yes. I note they are both prodigiously important and together in the Bible, and so I put them together.

Like bone and muscle in the body ?

It is a healthy thing, the universal, passionate appeal of God so often found in the Bible, and the staggeringly pure restraint, that He never forces, in effect or in practice. It is for this reason that we are ...

I know, I know... really responsible. I LOVE being responsible, though I hate to have everything depend on me. It is great ... salubrious is your word. What does that mean ?

It means health giving.

I am glad it is not just a horrible seeming matter of God's selecting people who are better, or who appeal more, some mysterious and unrevealed thing, as if His love were in some way earned by what you are, or more attractive in some secret or select way. That's phoney. Where is there freedom in that ? You get what you are given, react and receive from first to last, a sort of spiritual determinism.

I WOULD, but YOU WOULD NOT, is what the Bible says in Matthew 23:37, WHY will you die! (Ezekiel 33:11). God interrupts with the Gospel. He is not play-acting. He would have all as in Colossians 1, but all men would not have Him. That is, they do not want to be select. That is what it says.

Without that, would it not just make of the human race a lot of ninnies who know nothing and are manipulated without understanding. The one responsible, it would not be then man but God.

People often don't look where they are going, or won't see it.

But anyway we just look to the word of God, and not just to this or that: it is the ... synthesis.

I call it biblical fidelity. We seek in all things to be workman not to be ashamed. We do not all work on roads, but on the word of God, to transmit it faithfully.

I cannot help agreeing with you.

You see in Hosea 11, God looking to Israel and calling them, but "As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed to the Baals..." "We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed," you find in Jeremiah 51:9. This is the way of God with man.

He is clearly very responsible.

He is a great sovereign and it is grand to be under His sovereignty, which nothing escapes as in Ephesians 1:11; but He is a very loving one, and yearns, and seeks and even came and did all before all, publicly telling it for centuries beforehand. God is like that. He knows what He is doing, how it will end, how odious is the heart that burns alone; but from His heart there springs love from the first. Indeed, He loves those with whom and for whom He is doing it. In the end of it all, there are horrible things left, and has has foreseen these too and has foreknown them as this; but they are not there for any lack of provision.

But GOD, I was reading last night in Titus, He showed kindness to the human RACE, and to MANKIND, teaching us what we should do. It is the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man which has appeared, it says. It is not just toward some men. He did not come to judge the world, but so loved that He offered salvation instead. To whom ? to the world.

And in Colossians likewise, He is quite clear: He would like to have all people reconciled to Himself through Jesus Christ.

But He does not, because He has made us free, and love knows, when it is His, but does not act to breach liberty. In the end as in the beginning. It is a love affair, but a pure one, as it should be.

It is. Some prefer a shove affair.

I know.

Some try to confuse you.

And how!

So you just keep to the word of the living God, who has given you bodily life through DNA, after so many generations, and now spiritual life through His other word, the Bible.

Like a train on a railway line, but a living train on biblical lines.

And God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him, as in Acts 5:31.

can see that. If you need more to do what you want to do because you love Him who wants you to do it, and He knows what He is doing, and you are in His kingdom, then you get more. He is able ... what is it ?

To do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, Ephesians 3:20.

That, it is for me.

See you in heaven, John, if not before.

See you there.