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CHAPTER  5

A SOVEREIGN ?

NAY THE SOVEREIGN

SOVEREIGNLY AFFIRMING

THE NATURE OF HIS WILL

 

Keeping the Crown for the King,

and WHAT a King He is!

 

RESUMING FROM CH. 2

Having inspected STARTING and STOPPING, let us revert to what neither starts nor stops, the glory of God, and consider the grandeur of His majesty and the accessibility of His love.

 

REVISITING  CONCLUSIONS

In the end of Ch. 2, we reached certain conclusions concerning the divine nature, constrained by the word of the sovereign  God, who says precisely what He wants to say, albeit many theologians seem inspired to ram other words into His mouth, or to ignore others which have come, and that often.

It is HIS mouth, not that of philosophers who often wed their theories with His word to the detriment of both. It is HE who  declares not once but repeatedly, that He would have all to be  saved, to come to a knowledge of the truth, or again,  to be  reconciled to  Himself. How and in what way reconciled ? It is in this way: that having  made peace through the blood of the cross, He in view of this, as an application of this, in terms of this, that is the context: He would have all reconciled to Himself.

He  does not  stop there. He  would have this, in his ineluctable*1 love, to be so in two realms. Which are these  ? It is applicable both in heaven and on earth. It is beyond the mere scope of manifestly maximal space, for it reaches to heaven itself! It is beyond a moment in history, for heaven is no so limited. THAT is the love of the God who is Himself  statedly love (I John  4:7-18). When Christ  stated that He is the truth,  He  did not mean that all  else was  forgotten and that was ALL He was. Had He meant to say this, He would have said it,  for the word of God is the precise representation of the  truth,  and Christ spoke precisely what  His Father had not only given Him to  say, but COMMANDED that He declare (John  12:48-50).

His love is ineluctable. There is nothing that can corrupt or corrode it, minimise or defile it. In His own Being,  He is ever the same, so that there is nothing that can qualify it. As it is, He states; as He states, it is.

 Messing about with some imaginary displacement of the love of the Father from what the Son is distinctively declaring is one of the major christological faults of Calvin, where he  departs both from the truth and the word of God, though  apparently in the heat of his desires, unaware of his blunder*2.

What then ? INELUCTABLE LOVE IN AN IMMUTABLY SOVEREIGN GOD WHO IS THE ONLY GOD, PENETRATES ALL HE DOES, SINCE IT IS NOT EPISODIC BUT CHARACTERISABLE AS SUCH BY HIMSELF.

He is of a nature that does not vary, with truth which does not transfix itself for convenience or any other cause, but on the contrary, is cited in Isaiah 53, as being one of the grounds of His death, that He would not, even to the death, depart from it. Indeed, He IS the truth, so that in NOTHING is anything ever to be attributed to Him which crucifies or even damages it!

When He sovereignly states His love, as noted so often in so much of His word as in Colossians 1:19ff., or His desire,  as in I Timothy 2, or the scope of His thrust in these terms, as in I Timothy 4:10, or the thrust of His heart in this dynamic, as in Jeremiah 48:29-35 and Ezekiel 33:11. In  Luke19:42ff., it is to be wholly heeded.  Christ is not saying that sovereignly interfered, in His commanded utterance, with His desire that Jerusalem,  to the point of tears, I  say,  His desire,  might have realised even in that, its day, by their recognition of the things that belonged to its pace. It is in the negation of the opportunity divinely provided by deity, that He weeps for it.  He would that it might have been otherwise, but makes no indication that He is at odds with His Father on the point, or that what He feels so piercingly is an anomaly in some other conception and perception, perspective and attitude,  approach and wisdom on the part of the Father. HE and His Father are ONE! He says so. It is time to listen (John 10:30).

YOU WERE NOT WILLING! is what GOD sets on one side as in  Matthew 23:37, to the desire of His that they might have come to His call before that point. To be sure, the human will is not the autonomous determinant of matters, or the synthetic co-worker with God in the matter. This is utterly excluded in John 1:12. Nor is it excluded, but on the  contrary, spotlighted.

The Bible clearly teaches that logically prior to predestination itself, it is FOREKNOWLEDGE that issues forth. It is in GOD'S OWN SOVEREIGN KNOWLEDGE, and equally in GOD'S INELUCTABLE LOVE that the foreknowledge occurs, since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and God does not change (Psalm 102, James 1;17). God cannot be pushed around, nor His incarnation made a subject of misalliance with other things, such as man proposes. Of these, God disposes.

 

FASHIONING FORMULAE, AND SUBSTITUTING  TAGS FOR TRUTH

If you want  formulae, such as are to be  found in the concept of the tulip*3 relative to  Calvin, then these are a HELP (and they can indeed be so!), and not an additive. However, they do not have an internal energy and validity of their own. They become tags for reference as we read the unqualified word of God, and are to be qualified by it continually in our own conceptualisation drawn from the word, and controlled exclusively by it.

It is  true that in election, there is an unconditional element.  God loves unconditionally: it is what He does. He invites one and all, even from the byways as in Matthew 22. What is termed the effectual call, the one where the chicks listen and act, this is not any mysterious invasion of man by an imperious assignment or consignment. It is the result of foreknowledge,  expressly NOT of man's works,  accomplishment or historical performances (Romans 9). It is a matter of a foreknowledge divine, characterised by precisely what God is, a work of I AM WHO I AM. Man is quintessentially apparent before Him who is the Saviour of  all men, especially of those who believe. In the saving capacity, He has indeed acted, in that saving regard, He has indeed moved, and in the nature of His love, His work has been both pure and  keenly related to the nature of man whom He created, neither to abort his freedom, nor to  allow the eventual result to be  contorted by pathology beyond the realities foreknown.

It is God, Himself,  as revealed, who acts.

And who is this that He is ? It is the one who IS love, who WOULD have all to be reconciled, to be aware, to come to the call, who does not fade it out conveniently in some last moment of lack-lustre performance, but who has done ALL that love desires to implement itself, and then STATEDLY ANNOUNCES THAT THE NEGATIVE RESULT HAS ONLY ONE AGENCY. It is in the very last  analysis, man from whom it is bred, according to the loving availability of God Himself. Such is John 3:19, Proverbs 1, Isaiah 48:15ff..

Past time, before its current format even operated, God knew mankind, each one, and chose those who did not qualify for preferring darkness. He wished for all; but love being what it is, since He is WHO He is, He did not triumphalistically force the issue. He did however do the uttermost to render it available,  adequate in nature and remedial in result.

While the eventual disjunction for many is a resultant, sovereignly imposed, yet man is the immediate cause of the loss. It is not God Himself as  we read in John 3:15-36. He did not have a  fluctuation in  SO loving that He GAVE EVEN His only begotten Son, illimitable measure of love divine,  indeed of deity Himself, who alone in the heavens or on earth, has an ONLY BEGOTTEN SON who is also, the way, the life and the truth, the I  AM of eternity, His definitive expression and word of  revelation. ONE source for the rejection is stated in the face of the love both here and repeatedly affirmed  without qualification: it is in the PREFERENCE OF MAN (John 3:19). Selectively for those who do not come, it is affirmed to be for darkness and not light, even THE light which came into the world, the light of the world, even Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, not for a field day for theologians, but for faithful presentation to man.

ALL therefore which proceeds, proceeds from the sovereign God who without counsel abroad (Isaiah 40) determines what is to be.  HOW He determines it is then the question which affects the NATURE of this selective sovereignty. We learn in Psalm 1, that where He is invidiously and in assertorial emphasis rejected, the resultants for those concerned become this, that they are like the chaff which the wind blows away. You hear results such as - Life is a lottery! from those in this position.

After all, when you, with impenitent and insolent sedition of your  own construction from your Creator, dismiss Him, you breach the conditions, not this time, of mere discourse, but of living. To become unshielded in then part of your application. If grace yet intervenes further, it is a gift; but the nature of the case has then become as Psalm 1 depicts it. If a nation or a people or a group then acts to dismiss this REVEALED GOD as in Psalm 2, then this warfare has an outcome.

What is loved as an infant, amidst humans, may be detested as a mass murderer, given time and event. There is nothing odd in that. That is the way it is, for hope is brilliant on the newborn's brow, but death is the penalty on the recalcitrant's obstinacy and darkness of life.

God has known not merely the works to come, but the very essence of the soul, of the spirit  of man, each one. Even Simeon as in Luke 1, knew the Lord's Christ before He acted. God knows us all before we act, before time began as we have it, before the creation (Ephesians 1:4), and on His sovereignly perfect foreknowledge, before even sin produced those dynamised diversities in mankind, more or less meritorious from this or that viewpoint, KNOWS His own, where love dwells without force, and where it is excluded. 

 

LOVE INELUCTABLE BUT NOT IMPERIOUS

The  love does not cease thereby to be ineluctable. It does not even cease to be love, engaging in duplicity or psychological or physical force, to secure its ways. It retires where it does not find place. It is sad, but satisfied. Love is like that. Even we know that distinction:  it is no more love when folly arms itself to accomplish what is often misnamed love, but is simply lust. God is not like that. So we learn. Rather weeping substitutes for force, and wisdom for mere militancy. Much results from  much; it is the causes with which we are here essentially concerned.

Thus the UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION of Calvin is right in this, that the will of man as he is,  created and continuing, is not even relevant to the sovereign selection of God. It is NOT of will or blood (John 1:12), this matter that involves becoming a child of God. In election, or predestination, it is not to the originating point. It is MADE sure in that way.

 

In foreknowledge, however, the logical precursor as in Romans 8:30ff., of predestination, its base and forerunner, there is this same God with this same nature of ineluctable love and non-forcible involvement at that level. It is He who STATES of the resultant of the incursion of that love (which expresses all precursors, back to eternity, for the work of God as to be applicable in time) what are the results of it. Some believe, and having had all this love in so many depths and dimensions as the base, receive eternal life, the sovereign gift. In the negative side, we find what is the cause of that resultant. It is PREFERENCE. It is not that of God but that of man. That is the exclusion statement, following the statement of the work of the incomparably pervasive and beneficial desire of the love of God.  God selects, chooses the criterion operates before time, knows the end from the beginning, and implements what on His own  select basis, selects. 

 

HE has taken account of this reality in the pre-created soul, envisageable before Him, hypostasised if you will, but foreknown in essence and in truth, and it becomes the true song of the situation when it is done. As it was to be,  so it is,  as always with God (Ephesians 1:11). HE works and who will stop it (Isaiah 43:13). But it  is HE and not some other sovereign with mysterious relationship to  love who does this working.  Mystery there is in this, that we now know in part; but it is not in that, that what we know is not truth! It is well not only to audit what God says, but to receive it.

GOD STATES in the very face of His declared motivation of John 3, and the actualising of the love which moves in it without diminution or quavering, the giving of the only-begotten, what has stopped this divine enterprise from embracing all humanity, as the love did, in the looked for and abundantly provided outcome (I John 2:1-2). The declivity, the omission, the negation, it is so far from being that of God in  terms of this love,  that it is placed in antithetical relationship  to the scope of His love (John 3:16-17), namely the world in the tripartite series, God, love and the world. The  latter is parallel to  Colossians 1:19 where its pervasiveness of desire, of what pleases God, reaches to the heavens, and embraces "all things".

Moreover, It is placed in the context of another aspect of His motivation, namely this, that He did not come in this imprimatur of Christ, to judge the world. Negative aspects of  application  did not  stir the divine heart in this crucial and  central thrust, in identifying the love and offer of God. In  disjoining any thought of judging the world, He likewise is not talking of something welse, but of the world, that entirety into which He came. Indeed, He is starkly emphatic about the terms of reference: He did not come into the world to judge the world. It is a total entity, which He might have judged, but in this context, such was not in His mind, for the love and that it might be saved, was in mind. That was the relationship to the love of God.

Judge this world ? On the contrary, it was that the world might be saved, the He gave His son. Thus the calipers close. NOT to judge the world,  came He, but to  save the world, came He. Those  were the terms of reference, whatever the outcome might be, and that was that totality of the  scope of the object in view, the "all things".

Indeed, the only negative used of God is the negation of the desire for judgment.

When it comes to man, however, the case if entirely different. God's preference is pervasive, motivational, and in terms of adequacy, disdaining judgment, seeking  salvation for the object of His concern, the world, noted in John 1 as having been created sovereignly. The scope is what is relevant: "the world" into which God sent His Son. He did not send Him into a  part of the world. We do not change meaning in the midst of a categorical statement on motivation, activation and results, but listen. As we listen,  we find that DESPITE in marked contrariety to this boundless designation of divine love, in quantity and quality, what DOES for all that wreck the donation's arrival to any, is found in only one place.

It is in those would-be or potential recipients who  PREFER darkness.

The negative used of man is his preference for darkness differentially, indeed, where the love finds some.

As to what God provided, what then ?

It was

ENOUGH

for the whole human race.

It  was

DIRECTED

towards the whole human race,

it was

MOTIVATED

for the whole human race in its overflowing magnificence of quality.

It is NOT RECEIVED by the whole human race on one only ground,  stated in the midst of these other containing features of the case.

It is because some have selectively preferred DARKNESS*3A.

Was this choice unconditional on man ? Yes, since man in history does not even relate to the eventual outcome. Was it sovereignly made by the God whose  love is of the nature stated as above ? Yes, it was. It is in that sense a sovereign, and unconditional election, and if 'election' means predestination, then that covers that.

If however, as in Calvin, you make the 'unconditional' to have an extra facet, namely this, that it is not taken in full exposure to the ineluctable love of God in its naked purity and supreme, unfailing strength, then God is being seditiously robbed of part of what He is, and His ability to make a secure, sovereign decision without reference to other counsellor, is being confused with the  NATURE and stated grounds of that decision. It is as with Peter when he took  Christ aside to counsel Him  the better on the topic of His death - Peter as that unfortunate point, had other ideas. He had to be corrected and was, in no uncertain terms.

Here  too exclusion of reception is put not in the transmission, content or mode, but in the mode of reception. This moreover is not only given  as  stated GROUND of condemnation (not the intention in terms of the love as noted in John 3:17), but as THE stated ground.  Further, not only is this so, but it is given as THE divinely articulated ground of condemnation in the very midst of the exclusion of the motivation of condemnation entirely from the deity, in the context of the love, its source, its scope and the motivation and intent. It is excluded on the one side, it is THE criterion on the other. The 'world' is what God sent His Son into, as when a missionary goes to China.

To  turn from this is to make in  this aspect, crucial a s it is, another  theology contrary to that of Him  whose word is the only sure source of any theology. It is  to be unfaithful to His word.

 

CAUSE AND EFFECT

This is to unsovereign the sovereign, as if He were one of several sovereigns,  some unknown, jingling together. He is not so. He is what He is,  all of it, always, and when He STATES the scope of His love; then that is settled. When He STATES the ground of non-acceptance, then that too is His sovereign MODE and  result on His sovereign MODEL, that of the God who would have ALL!  It is time to cease out-sovereigning God and making of His EFFECTIVE RESULTANTS, a stripped  down CAUSE.

To confuse these two is mere philosophic intrusion. The cause is as stated; the effect is as stated; the reason for it is as stated, the security of it is as stated, the certainty of it is as stated, the fact that it is ALL a gift of God is as stated, that it is not of works is as stated, as likewise that it is not an autonomous man who so chooses, but that it is the autonomous God who chooses to make love relate to it in the WAY He sovereignly states. That is pure sovereignty, self-defined, and not an invasion of divine privacy by unwise feet, who trample in their haste for one aspect, onto the realities of other aspects. It  is a little like a stampede.

The result then is unconditional on anything which man provides, urges or works (John  1:12), but it is very much conditioned by the KNOWLEDGE of God (Romans 8:30), of what is there, not a nullity but man as FOREKNOWN. It is not the superior character of some (as in Ephesians 2 and 4:17-19, this source having nothing to the celestial point to offer), which is the basis. This 'mystery' of Calvin, wrongly applied at THIS point, leaves all open*4! Mystery is hard to define, and when what is defined is neglected, reversion to mystery becomes negation of what is known. 

WHAT is it that makes man acceptable more than a godly character ? Calvinism has no defence against this, at the systematic and MYSTERIOUS level, far less when the mystery is mischaracterised.

In what way is it mischaracterised ? It is not only thought of, even to the point of mystery, that there is NO KNOWN GROUND for the selection in differential  application of saving grace, but also this in such a way that the divine decree relative to the result for many is by Calvin characterised as an HORRIBLE DECREE. He does not like it. It does not resound with his spiritual perceptions! In  fact, the only horrible thing about God, even in appearance, is precisely what you see  in Job, that meticulous record of spiritual research in history: it is man's misconception,  misconstruction, and nothing else, that is designable as 'horrible' concerning this, our God, that of the Bible... Man it is who makes the horrible, not God, even the horrible misconception!

 

THE HIDEOUS HORROR THAT IS MERE INADVERTENCE

There is NOTHING horrible about a decree, in predestination, which implements the finding in foreknowledge, wrought in indefeasible love, of the preference in essence in some, for darkness. It is not because of distinctive sin that they are tilted to have this preference which is their stated and differential criterion for disjunction from God, leading to condemnation. Before time was and the fall occurred, there is NO sin to tilt anything in man. That is where foreknowledge is applicable. 

It is what God has made that is in view, man in His image, before his arrival on this earth, before time a s we have it, so much as was! That is the setting for this divine action, in this pre-historical assessment. Therefore man,  excluded in terms of works or merit, in terms of acceptance where this is applicable, is equipped with freedom to the point with all the reality first created, in the image of God. It is not autonomy: he cannot decide to be God since that is too late, and contrary to the facts of creation. But there is the capacity in the stated area of  relationship to  God, to act with a divinely created freedom, suitable to this IMAGE he bore.

The point ? freedom to the point, then ?

What point  ? The issue was to be this, to obey or not to obey, and hence to trust or not to trust, and hence to take it from God or to prefer what in the end is but satanic darkness. To that point, man was given, at that  time,  a quasi-divine capacity to decide. He did it.

There were results. The grace which provides outage from those results is another exhibit of the prodigy of unqualified love which statedly belongs to God. There is nothing horrible about that. As far as DECREE is concerned, nothing of a horrible character comes when the Great Physician not only gives man LIFE in the first place, but also IMAGE of God liberty in this massive area of response, but again, ETERNAL LIFE as a prospect OUT of this outage, by sheer, mere, utterly expensive, love- exhibitive passion. This is the third wave of wonder.

There is nothing horrible in a decree which does not admit to heaven the luminaries in the darkness, which shine in their own dismal light, and declare war on, exclusion for or hatred of God. It merely separates in the last analysis,  as was from  the first foreknown, what is separable and allows all to go its way AFTER the most sublime of intercessions, actions,  sacrifices, the most superb of exhortations, backed by a love which is declarative more than any other love ever has been, and which none can excel.

Calvin's self-induced darkness in this domain, where God has with categorical light SPOKEN, and transmitted His clear word,  makes the result depart from the cause, and the cause to depart from the stated character of God, so that his resultant is a just and due result of his confusion. Horror indeed comes to what so divorces God from the words of that eternal One in three Persons, sent from eternity in His own name, His only begotten and incarnate Son!*2

t is not  good to follow anyone,  except God, to name oneself after anyone (Apollos,  Calvin, Wesley, for example - I Cor. 3), but the triune God.

It is best to out-tag tags, personal or propositional with the word of the living God. This, the biblical God, has stated His motivation, the quality and scope of His love, the nature of His sovereignty, the utterly gratuitous character of His gifts and the fact that NOTHING is to be added to them, and that received they are to be AS THEY ARE without qualification or alteration in any way (cf. Galatians 1). Not least is the gift of revelation of who He is, His qualities.

 

THE BELOVED AND LOVING MAJESTY

This then is an extension from what was presented in Ch. 2, which ended in this manner:

 

The act of God in regenerating is thus majestic,  sovereign, secure, spiritually clean, a bounty of spiritual surgery without cost, except to pride, without abdication of wisdom, but in accord with Him who acts. The entire scope of creation and redemption, with regeneration in the input, is of HIM, His kindness, as is His construction, His translation from the mercy-loving heart which is His (Ezekiel 33:11, Micah 7:19ff.,Titus 2-3) into the prodigious acts of mercy which He deploys.

So vast and huge is this divine wonder, that the ONLY negative thing cited as the ground of condemnation in terms of this, as in John 3:15-19, is man's preference for darkness. From the  glory of the first  things  to the wonder of the last things, the magnitude of the love of God like Spring, shows itself before a departing people, and from first to last, the originality of the Original for all, has been a treasured glory, dismissible by the desultory, in the Winter of contempt,  collusion or cold  disregard, yes even left by spiritual emigrs. Yet to this  day it is still available and continues trumpeted, till the last trumpet calls to alms or to arms! Alas for those who  take arms  against God then (Revelation 19:19)!

The other aspect, theoretical, that negative judgment is some mysterious divine departure from God's own stated principles is, in the  end, an abortion of the beauty of it all, and a clandestine if confused input  that refuses to bow to the word of God. It is not so hard: God sovereignly acts to make the Gospel, send the  grace, enable its acceptance. He does this, NOT with human will as the paramount agent, but rather as a decisive aspect in His foreknowing not of events but reality itself, seen as He  knows. It is not overturned by love, rather realised,  for God  is love (I John 4:7ff.). Thus in NOTHING is His character, His nature, His planning, original and carried out to the end, His own, to be so debased as, denying a multitude of affirmations, leads some to harass His holy word. Man can deny this statement of I John 4:8; God confirms it.

Love cleans, corrects, even rebukes, enables solution; but it does NOT yield to imaginative options from ignorance which would  merely make it a debased form of convenience, or a manipulative tender. God is holy.

Where sin is not yet in the eternity before our time,  so He knows (Ephesians 1:4); where differentiation of the nature of this or that person through sin is not yet in view, so even then He knows; where deceit is not yet,  so He knows.

In time, He acts; and for all time, He loses none of those whom so He has foreknown. This is encouragement even to the most wicked, for the wind of divine mercy is not adverse at the outset, but His love is most pleasant. In the aftermaths of human pride and insolence, then indeed, love spat on  with meaningless mouthy mould, there is another scene, and the scenario, foreknown also, is of another kind.

Evacuate the air by all means, but never blame the atmosphere if you do!

 The atmosphere of God from the outset is love; shame lies in the repudiation in which love finds no place, grace no domain, and the provisions of God find no nest, so denying rest, aborting quest. The delightfulness  that mankind can exhibit, becomes disaster in such cases, which may team up into philosophies, and largely in nations, in periods and in climates of culture. As in the famous sculpture in Adelaide, commemorating the World War, it is the light and beauty of the holy angel's face to which the pilgrims look, which lends a hallowed joy to their otherwise quite ordinary features.

 

 

NOTES

*1

LOVE  SUFFERS LONG, BUT IS NEVER DISTORTED

For this, the term 'Ineludible' might have served. However, that term might suggest that it was always there. Stepping out of the light, however, brings darkness. Light has an energy of its own.

Ineluctable, the term here used,  has a force from its root, of this  kind: not to be surmounted, or escaped from. YOU cannot escape from the love of God, or surmount it, but this very love, when it is complete in its application, may THEN in logical sequence, turn away. You do not then surmount it, but find it no more. Quite simply, in that case, it is fulfilled though with grief, and you are not.

The term means simply that you cannot ELUDE: that is, not until it is done. It is not available for sauce or subtlety, strangulation or evasion, to eliminate its relevance. Once, like a sheep dip, it has worked,  however, then that is over.  You cannot avoid the dip. You finish with that in due time, and it has been effective in its own way. It operates to its own satisfaction as SUCH, and it is only by the finish of its desired work, implicitly or explicitly as the case may be, that it is no more found. The dip however, is not remission or redemption, but the impact and availability in love of what is needed. It is a lead-in, but not an outcome, a prelude, not a finale.

Impassioned in the best sense,  as the love of God is, so that no payment is too much within the realities of the blessed life of God, where redemption is to be secured, or even to be on genuine offer, it so moves from the first, even where in the end it has no place. It is not of steel, mechanical or unperceptive. it is of such a nature that when seen, known - and in this case foreknown - to be excluded through an-historical human preference to the contrary, that is before time as now known: then its travail moves like a rainbow, elsewhere. Even this is not without its due impact and characteristic nature, till fulfilled, when it pursues no more what it was willing to find.

Just as love is  inexcludable from the nature of God, so love is excludable from the nature of man, even divine love, which exhorts, impels, seeks, offers scope for payment for  deliverance back to the blessed normalcy of man, but does not arrogate man, intemperately seizing on mysterious grounds. It IS a blessed mystery WHY God should so love us (Romans 5:1-11), and a delightful and not horrible decree which selects us who come, so that then  payment is poured out from its store in eternity into our accounts who believe. Yet even in the case of final exclusion, as seen from the first, it is despite love, and not because of any deficiency in its universality to the uttermost to find what is lost, that man remains lost.

The decree is a resultant of foreknowledge working in love which God is, the predestination  itself more of a formality from this fact. The love does not bait, but offers, seeks and looses what would be lost, that pitiable fragment,  dislodged potential child of God,  then found confounded in its own devices (Proverbs  Ch.1).

There is no horrible decree if a mother having sought at grave risk and injury, to deliver a child, finds it unwilling to receive her rescue. It is a horrible distortion of love in the child, a wilful abandon. It is in man only that the fault lies, the limitation. It is not to be found in God, whose  love is pure, untainted, without dissimulation, and filled with the clarity of stated desire. Limit there is, but not in the love.

it is in the very face of a love which knows no diminution, but on foreknown exclusion does not include what is thus contrary to its very ministration, that loss is made sure.

 

 

*2

DIVINE  LOVE AND HUMAN LAPSES

The nearly astounding lapse of Calvin in this field means that his system needs adjustment so that it may accord with biblical truth. In short, it has to have a divine sovereignty which is not Lord over all the other aspects of God, but an EXPRESSION of the same! He is not under the sovereignty of some quality invented by Calvin, or tossed about by Augustine as he moves in his machinations (Predestination and  Freewill Section 2 as marked). Sovereign will on the part of  God expresses what He is, all that He is, and is an implement of WHO He is, the I AM  WHO I AM. It is neither less nor other.

When God states the nature of His love, extent,  scope, intensity and the milieu in which it is to be considered (as in Colossians 1:19ff. for example), this is not so that theologians can make it a part of  some philosophical mannequin parade, viewing it this way and that,  and  qualifying the orders for the dresses on display, according to taste.

On the contrary, in such words as God in His sovereign will and perfect expression chooses to announce who and what He is, and what is truth on the subject, these are  already orders, and that to the whole human  race, including theologians. His words are not for bartering, however many brides may have suffered that fate. HE is Lord. What HE says, goes. This is an aspect of the everlasting sovereignty of God, which sovereignty ultra-specialists need to remember. God is the sovereign of sovereignty, not vice versa. Hamburgers of theological  concepts may be made up, and given names, like TULIP, and so  forth;  but the meat of the matter remains where it is placed,  and needs chewing on, not selectively, but  totally,  in the Bible.

Calvin, often  excellent in his expositions, here errs; and  alas, the  forbidden I of Paul, I of   Apollos sort of thing is so often used (contrary to I Corinthians 3),  as if prestige or preference were to the point. It is not so. The infallibly inspired word of God is to the point, without addition or refinement (cf, Matthew 5:17-20, I Thessalonians 2:13,Matthew 4:4)


Of this error,  much has been said on this site, but below is a slightly adapted excerpt  from the Thesis, Predestination and  Freewill, on this vagary of  Calvin. Its setting in in Section 2,  as marked.

 

Not merely, then does such an approach do less than justice to the doctrine of revelation, a point which we will follow, and to "inconvenient" data divergently trending from the adopted estimate of its major intents; but it allows more than justice to a concept which tends to replace revelation, and become a "master" key of interpretation. For this reason, as for others, this type of sovereignty approach must be modified at this point as inappropriate to the stringency of our data.

This sovereignty is taken as such that it in effect legislates, ultimately, eternally apart from the open strain of revealed love, as covital with it, co­essential, co­extensive, co­dynamic. This is a certain conclusion of strict Calvinism. This sovereignty acts and it selects: he would say that God is loving ­ to a certain point ­ even towards those who do not receive that dispensation and adaptation of love, that actuating availability of love, which makes the difference between heaven and hell. It may against this be urged that it is mere talk about terms: and such in a justly deprecatory sense.

Love does not need to be quintessential in order to be concerned with such a distinction in destiny as that! In this sense, then, in the viewpoint of Calvin that is before us, love does not in its highest and only effective form in this region, penetrate sovereignty; but sovereignty can act alone. This having made the selection (as of course beyond time), the love pours out on those previously (logically previously) selected.

These implications are perhaps not always pursued with persistence, although Calvinism in general is notable for its clear development; it seeks an elevation and perspective such as that which we found in Boethius on the topic of time and eternity; but the way in which it has sought to pursue its program of implication has in fact tended to conceptual monopoly and involved a measure of unwarranted revelational restriction. This in turn has important consequences ­ we are not deficient in this Calvinist system in sovereignty; but if this sovereignty in predestination does not reveal the Sovereign of revelation, where in it is He?

c) The Son of Sovereign.

We have referred to a certain love­lack in the sovereign schema of Calvin ­ a pre­eminence of a principle in one area, with a corresponding depletion, in theory, of a Person. This was the more erroneous in that this Person is the originator of principles. There is now a correlative problem. It applies to the Son of this Sovereign Himself.

If we could say as is sometimes done, that Calvin is Theo­centric, not Christo­centric, in that he has the Father make a logically prior sovereign selection by ultimate authority; and that only subsequently87* does he introduce the Son to the question, according Him an agent status in the matter, such that He simply seeks, pays, procures and brings home the extrinsic appointees: if we could say this, the matter under review would be simpler.

We would then in straightforward fashion indicate that there had been an omission of Christ, the eternal co­essential partner of the Father from the processes of predestination; and add that such an ontologically inept omission of the character and essence of the Son in this ultimate predestining process would mean that this Son manifested as to love in a characterisable way on earth, was simply omitted from the character determining procedure of predestination. This, one would add, violates the definitive text as to divine attitude as well as to the power, place and immutable character of the Son, who has divine standing.

This is interesting; as although Calvin does not make this assertion touching the emplacement of Christ in predestination, the rebuttal will still in essence be found to be applicable. Implications from his propositions produce almost the equivalent.

Calvin actually says that Christ is the Author of Predestination. This sounds most adequate ­ He is divine: Father and Son are inter-essential personalities of the Godhead.

So strict however, is Calvin's authoritarianism (a sad diversion of the blessed principle of authority), that through what he styled the "decretum horribile" of predestination, the Christ whom God revealed must in election be concealed. We must see how this comes about.

Calvin stoutly asserts that God has not two wills. Yet he notes Christ's lament and yearning love for Jerusalem: His appealing and appalling invitation. Certainly this was the will of God. Again he notes God had determined through inaccessible prudence that He did not on any account desire the deliverance of the city, that He would ensure its exclusion from repentance grants, although these were readily accessible to Him for the purpose. This: but we are forbidden to conclude that God has two wills!

The point, he affirms, is that the will of God is manifold in operation, that is all. It is not two; but to be conceived in two aspects: the one superficial and revealed, the other quintessential and concealed. Christ's lament, in effect, becomes an urge of will but the divine current was set in the opposite direction. This is the sense of Calvin's protestation about the wills, when it is considered.

It is unavoidable to perceive that this would mean that the divine essence of Christ is here muted or countermanded in motion: a mere ploy in intensity, as far as word is concerned... since He suited deeds to words ­ this would apply to deeds also.

Now Calvin does not mean to downgrade Christ: he is vocally intense in the opposite direction. Moreover, he customarily exhibits great acuity in expounding Scripture. But we here find Christ an eddy on a current: such is not the Deity who is the Christ. What then has produced this result?
 

{Cf. Calvin's Institutes, Book 3, Ch. 24, Section 17. As for Christ's lament and statement of gathering in Matthew 23:37: Calvin's disregard here of the clear exposure of the heart of the incarnate God is a hiatus in the life of the divine picture, for which scripture gives no ground. If the "form" of God is not on earth as it is heaven, yet when we come to Christ's word: "He who has seen Me, has seen the Father", this is known,  because He expressly changed His form (John 1, Philippians 2), but not His reality (Heb. 1:3, Mal.3:6, John 8:58). Accordingly, rejection of a divine statement of heart and principle, for one at variance from it, is no interpretation! Concerning Matthew 23:37, see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Appendix B as also Ch.8, pp. 636-643.}

There seem to have been at least two reasons ­ the one predisposing, the other imposing. First is the noted tendency to downgrade revelation in general (again not characteristically, but solely in the manner noted). As the area affected must involve Christ, the word of God, His manifestation as such of the Father must suffer if the application of the sovereign principle in this uninstructed manner,  is affected. Here we see how important an operational principle of revelation can become. Pressed by this principle of sovereignty, Calvin composed this theory of wills, although it is clearly obvious that no unitary being can will two precisely opposite willings in the same respect at the same time and do so with a unitary will: a point Calvin did not adequately pursue.

What then? If there is not this disjunction between this manifested will of Christ and the alleged secret will debarring Jerusalem whilst Christ was pleading with bared heart all those years ­ if there is not this disjunction of will, it must rather be between wills ­ say between the incarnate and paternal persons of the Trinity. On the one hand, will would be destroyed; while on the other, the Trinity.

Calvin means and allows neither. If then we cannot revert to two wills, perforce we must conclude that Calvin's system of sovereignty requires modification. We cannot have this secret will contradict this revealed will; we cannot accept contentions concluding in a theoretical splitting of the Trinity. We are not dealing with figments, but principles, not with possibilities but yea and amens of revelation!

We can now understand any tendency to present Calvin's system as being Theo­ and not Christo­centric in the sense mentioned, excluding Christ from the election procedure: for the Son who manifested the Father in effect is not in Calvin's predestination essence ­ not as He was revealed. It is there, however, as we noted in our preliminary rebuttal, there as in all God's works that our biblical data demands as true of Him ... every revealed component of the character of God is as revealed, and He responds readily to appeal to His word. We cannot make partial or nebulous in principle,   the plenary revelation in Christ.

If accommodation allowed this move, sovereignty appears to have given it impetus; and this in our second reason for the erection effectually, of two wills in Calvin's theory. He could assume an inference from the power of God and the fact of perdition - to a sovereign will which must perforce contradict the words of Christ. This problem of perdition, in an area of divine power, nevertheless does not require, as it cannot allow, this solution.

It does not warrant a conclusion that that character of love was not incorporated in the predestining process. Rather, in accord with revelation, we would say that though incorporated, it did not incorporate the lost souls in its resultant.

Love had no demise. Surmise to the contrary has no place. In its completion, amid preference  for darkness as foreknown, it moves out, away at length, just as did the  glory of God from the site of the Temple, in stages  till  gone, in the prophecy of Ezekiel (8:4 - 10:20, notably 8:4, 9:3, 10:3-5,19).

 

See also SMR Appendix B.

 

*3

See The Biblical Workman Ch. 8.

 

*3A

Darkness symbolises the lack of that light of the world which is Jesus the Christ (John 8:12, 9:4), of the spiritual presence of God. When love turns away,  after the splendour of the availability (as in Proverbs 1), the reasoning, the appeal,  the  entreaty, so that  to continue is to abort its purity (and God does not yield readily! Matthew 23:37), then it is like a university building for thousands of students, who are still there in their hundreds, without air, air-conditioning, light, attendants, but with the dust of their lust. It is odious, but here, desired, that emptiness which lust seeks, declining to consider the good because of the delusive appeal of the evil,  often even refusing to designate 'moral' as if that in itself did not constitute a species of morality, making it 'wrong' to designate them.

From  the first knowing all, and His own in particular, God is moved where love cannot come, to exhibit the blind and wilful, the capricious and innovative with reality, sometimes called the action of 'the lie, and who is not His, can speak of 'hating'. This is effectual, not initial as noted above. It was not because of His limitations of love that this exclusion occurs, but if it does,  alas occur, then God does not cover up the nature of the results of this removal of the natural and the necessary from man. Not only can it become hateful, hating and odious, but it may be judged, now belonging to the wilful exclusionist domain.

Even here, however, the temper of the mercy of God exhibits itself in ways sometimes past all understanding, such is the grandeur of it.  For instance, in the case of Manasseh, a king so wicked that his contribution to Israel became its ruin, wilful, odious, that when he called on the Lord in exile, in prison, the Lord HEARD (II Chronicles  33:10-13). Consider likewise Ezekiel  20 and Psalm 78). God acts in  great depth and in many dimensions, but nothing ever voids His statements, principles and nature, whether there be face-clapping or thorn-thrust on His head, as in the incarnation,  whether it be  slander, as on the cross and much before, or endeavours at  enticement, as in the temptation.

He goes on being God, the same, unchanged, available through the Gospel to all who call upon His name, in faith; He is the One who from the first, desiring all, to the last is mischaracterising nothing, being subject  neither to intimidation nor manipulation.

 

*4

If the divine statement that  what  obstructs the divine willingness and even desire for the salvation of all, is human preference as seen by God, be rejected, and it is not in freedom and the will as the ultimate grounds, despite the pathological obscurations which do not hide from God, then there are results. God foreknows something that is there, not absent, viewable by Himself, not a nullity. It is the person who is chosen before time was (Ephesians 1:4), not a bureaucratic blank.

What better appeal than the  more godly, if the will of man be not, in the pre-assessing eyes of God, the criterion. If an underlying and divinely discerned liberty were not, as the Bible asserts, the rupture agent, the innovative outcome must be  faced ? What better criterion for a work of total grace, than what the Bible declares! (John 3:19, Matthew 23:37, Ezekiel 33:11, Proverbs 1, cf. SMR Appendix B).  It is no  accident.

 If freedom of  love and the will as opened up before the all-seeing God before the fall and sin and comparative morality arrived were to be dismissed, what would remain ? It  would be the NATURE of what is chosen. It is not irrelevant. Goods are chosen for a purpose. If the purpose is for godly persons, then those  qualifying would be expected  in  SOME way to have the preferability - that is the case if liberty becomes irrelevant to the God who made it,  and love is to be smitten by the  theologians who make their own god in this respect, and fail  to decapitalise. To be sure, they may not mean it  so: but here, it is the concern for the very name of God which must take precedence.

Below are references on this point, concerning what for the unbiblical  reconstructions in this sphere, are the residual situations for revisionists of this kind. This by no means to judge the proponents, but merely  their words in this domain  and  respect. The  word of God can have no exceptions to its rule, nor may the character and nature of God relative to His own assertions concerning it, be distanced,denied or qualified in any way.

Following on from the quotation in  *2  above, ending with the words, "in its resultant," to our present point we now add this (very slightly adapted, from the same site):

They are not excluded for any lack of love, but rather despite its presence, and in view of its character. The reader may here desire to consult Appendix B of The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, The Kingdom of Heaven..., Ch.4 , with Ch.2 pp. 31ff., Repent or Perish 1, pp. 17ff., and That Magnificent Rock, Ch.3.}

How then can we have sovereignty de rigueur, or at least so as to retain its name, in integrity? In our Section III we shall propose a solution in composition with a similar requirement for love and the range of facts; so that love, sovereignty, justice, truth, consistency, all cohere in their integrity in a predestinative postulate designed to show that even in that sphere these things may be. We will find that they will cohere in the Sovereign.

In conclusion, we must stress anew, that this {Calvinist} system currently under review does not as it stands avoid the merit problem. Men differ; and as Augustine pointed out, must be known in order to be predestined. Does some X factor of superior God-suitability in man88* (in part or by aspect) so to speak flash its superior pre-tempered but still availing smile, to One selectively inspecting? However conceived, in this divergent system, X is the desired differential determinant before the Changeless One. In this, also, then we must modify such a view as here considered of sovereignty: and predict that we shall lose this part of its form at the Cross when we come to that final consideration of supernal predestination.

*88 God­suitability would be an exquisite and ultimate form of suitability, as an attribute for any man.

Mercifully and with His customary wonder of wisdom, God does not delve into such figments, instead putting the criterion in the human will, divinely discerned, uniquely to blame, with not a scintilla of mystery either about the universal scope of His initiating love or the grief of His heart at its rejection, the cited criterion of the calamity of condemnation. The power and the wisdom of God is quite sufficient to bind all together and indeed, nowhere else in all of man's thoughts is this to be found: the willing love of God toward all, the gracious provision of a redemptive nullification of grounds for the exclusion of any, the wise deliverance of any from highway assault, in this, that they may go their own way if this be the actuality prior to pollution,  as discerned by God, the prior to time  certainty of security in the result, not open to time or tide in its integrity for love, and the divine knowledge itself the ultimate criterion in the very nest of His love,  concerning nestlings and not.

That this divine knowledge statedly relates to its discernment of man's will, prior to time, does not alter the fact that it is both knowledge (of fact) and divine (not dependent on the activities of man).  That's the way God states it, and that's the way it is (Romans 8:30).

Nor does it provide complication of its gloriously direct outline in this, that there is no one who will find eternal loss except in terms of such an inward and ultimate desire,  as known in truth to God, nor find haven in heaven who in reality would not so desire. Nor is there personality alteration as a substitute for love, in being brought to that haven. In all, the light is the light of life, not of death, and where it is found, it shines.

It is what God has made that He redeems, what is created in His own image (Colossians 3:10) to be just that, not left to languish (Isaiah 48:15ff.), to mutual grief, love cast aside. What is there found in His  recovery action, redemption,  is what in His eyes from the first, would have it so. He so knows, He so disposes.

On such, then, the power and the wisdom of God are poured forth, and all that transpires in selective, divine, majestic; and sure  regeneration and redemption is rescue indeed, not from what ought to have wanted to be rescued, but  from  what in actuality, preferred the light of the God of rescues, to the darkness of determinate desire otherwise, from within.

In this way, the limits of self as operator in man, are left behind,  vested in God, so that man is not left simply with acting as he will, but not willing as he will. On the  contrary to  any thought of meaningless limitation of direction, there is now a freedom which toward God is divinely protected, discerned and effected. Man could depart as at the first; but some would not. At the last, these are now freely to the uttermost,  found in the God who is subject neither to theologians nor  to psychologists, but effects His own will in a love which is not misnamed, but baulks at force or deception, and is fulfilled in truth and  reality:  love indeed, sui generis, equatable with nothing else.

 

See:

 

Predestination and Freewill Section 2,   The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4,

Christ's Ineffable Peace Ch.   2,  

The Glow of Predestinative  Power Ch.   4,

see also  Celestial Harmonhy for the Terrestrial Host Ch.      2.