W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
THE LOVE OF GOD IS PURE, NOT INFLAMED,
KIND, NOT TO BE DEFAMED
INVETERATE TREND TO MISCONSTRUE:
It is almost like a theological flirtation with Miss-Understanding:
but it is necessary to 'go steady' with God, by faith,
trusting Him and all He says:
such is the way of love, and it is founded in truth.
Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Ch. 7, †9;
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes
and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth
Ch. 6, esp. *3
Massifs of Pure Splendour Ch. 7.
To Know God ... Ch. 1.
THE DIVINE CLARITY
The love of God! what more beautiful conception, and how it is misused. It is not the love which God misuses but the construction which man mismakes!
It is staggering how patient God is! People can cavort with naught and call it God, and how long He bears with it; but judgment at length, it comes. They can set at naught all His kindness, and how deep He seeks in the soul of man; but at length the soul may fail, like a jet subjected to enormous stresses for long, at last diving, fraught with fracture from so much friction.
It is time to come back to reality. In the simplest of terms God SAYS that He loved the world. He does not mean that He does not. That is a flat contradiction. Nor does He instruct us in this way: that He, God, relative to the world of man (He is not talking about particularities but the generality of the world He made as in John 1, into which the Word becoming flesh, dwelt amongst us), loves it a bit, or in part.
This is a vast and insulting misconstruction. In Colossians 1, thus, almost as if for the sake of the perverse, He tells us, indeed stresses it as if it were to remove joy-trips in the very face of clear words, that it pleased Him to have all fulness dwell in His Son (not SOME fulness - indeed in Colossians 2:9, it is ALL fulness in bodily form). He declares that this pleased Him; and He proceeds to tell us another thing that also pleased the Father. It was this.
It pleased Him that having made peace through the blood of the Cross, something else should be done. This peace, it was not through a part of His Son, nor was it a slightly disenchanted love, but a love as in John 3:16 which was of SUCH a kind, a love with which He SO loved that He GAVE.
Now what did He give ? It was not some agent, agency or commissioned officer. It was His own Son. Nor was it one of many, but His ONLY begotten Son, already identified in John 1, as THE WORD. Not some word: THE WORD. It is this word who was EQUAL with God (Philippians 2), as a word might well be, as when one makes a contract. It is not something else: it is what one has SAID, and thus represents truly where one is.
There is only one God in the Bible, all the rest being idols (Psalm 96), so that this word could not be less than God, there being only pretend gods as in Psalm 82, fiascos of pomp and self-elevation, ready to die! Having then been pleased that ALL fulness of God should dwell in this Son, as Paul declares in Philippians 2, and Christ in John 5:19ff., where He is to be honoured JUST as the Father is honoured: what then does God say in Colossians 1 ? It is that it is ALSO His pleasure that ALL should be reconciled to Himself, in heaven, on earth, ALL! That is HIS declaration and one might be forgiven for wondering how many do not even bother to read this!
Thus, to return to John 3, God the Word becomes man because God SO loved that this ONLY BEGOTTEN son is sent. Given is this Word, with a purpose in view.
What is that purpose ? It is this. That anyone who believes should have eternal life.
Now the question naturally arises : What about those who do NOT believe ? Did not Isaiah in 53:1 talk of this: "WHO has believed our report ?"
Was not Israel continually in trouble for centuries, with some intermissions, because it had hidden from the Lord, perverted His word and played the spiritual fool with Him (II Kings 17, II Chronicles 36, Isaiah 1)! Thus there is in our John 3 context, a place where you have this vast question: What becomes of the unbeliever ?
Is this love an expedition which is going on the whole, to be one of condemnation ? Is it a selective process, as love is, which will really result in ruin, and is this indeed even in the mind of the Sender, a matter of grabbing some and ensuring the rest lie in ruin ? Was this the purpose ?
Is it a trip for an exclusion zone, a tour de force through an orphanage, to select the undeserving from the undeserving, at will, with no principle whatever but divine selectivity, hidden, a love as if it were a mere passion or proclivity, which goes here, but not there ?
John is brought to write with pains, in John 3:17ff., to the contrary. He did NOT come to condemn the world, says John. There is NO hidden implication that God so loved that He just wanted to pick up a few, as in some pick up truck, and really the rest did not unduly concern Him.
On the contrary, the underlying theme, the motif, it was not condemnation. That would be a distortion of His will, His enterprise in this matter, His motivation. God declares this to be a false concept.
Indeed, it was not only NOT this, but a completely opposite motivation! The desire was rather that the world might be saved. This is actually written in John 3:17, but is it excluded in some theological courses ? One might be forgiven for thinking so.
Which world did God then love, and to what is reference made in John 3:16 ? Did He perhaps have in mind the financial world, or an imperial world or some other little whirling diminutive within the world which He created ?
To ask is to answer. We have been dealing consistently and insistently throughout with GOD who created, the WORD with God and being God, and with this Word who created ALL things, so that what was made is a category into which HIS ACTIONS bring actuality. There is HE on the one hand, and there is ALL in the domain of the created on the other, whatever it is of which it might be said, It is made! It is all HIS FIELD.
He makes ALL of that; and He therefore neither is nor could be in that category which arises ONLY because of His necessarily prior action to enact its very existence! That is John 1:3.
It is time the tired endeavours to escape either the deity of Christ by defamers of deity, or the extent of the love of God interested in saving, ceased. It is all distortion, and becomes readily a trip into defamation.
He CAME into this WORLD of creation, in its totality where man is involved, and its objective, this coming was to save this creation, not to condemn it. To alter this, is to alter the defining criteria of the word of God as in John presented in carefully moulded steps, like a terrace leading to a topmost platform.
That platform in John 3 is now reached.
THE INVETERATE TREND TO MISCONSTRUE
that it is necessary to subject to extensive review
How then does one say that God so loved less than the world; or that God did NOT so love the world that it might be saved, when HE says that He did. Whose love is it ? Is man to play the tele-psychatrist and tell God that He is mistaken. There is no other option than that, if you wish to abort, truncate, this love of God in the dimensions of His own statement. It is always to this writer an enormity almost past belief, that apparently serious persons can even attempt to embrace or even attempt to do such a thing.
Yet once when preaching in Seminary in an examination setting, one presented such a position; and it was pilloried. Irrelevant verbiage was piled on verbiage which would lead someone of preconceptions of a philosophic kind, to show that this was NOT what was in mind. The love of God was not to be of this character. Yet God freely STATES that it is! Alas for the traditions of men!
If man neglects this word and this love, it is therefore his responsibility and not that of God. The desire of God is other, and there is with God no power which can limit Him. His sovereign disposition of His love in actual salvation is not to be confused with the GROUND of the love which so acts, its stated thrust and scope, its basis and source, or the mode of its electing scrutiny, in foreknowledge. Results are not, in a word, to be confused with causes, nor motivation to be made equivalent with results. God has all power, but this does not equate for one solitary moment with less love.
Since however that Professor could refuse one permission at speak at will, and had for long in fact done this, it was obvious that any discussion would be pearls in the wrong place; and moreover, it would be unseemly in one's own view, to debate a mark, which had of course been downgraded by the contrary philosophy of the Professor. Yet this was ostensibly not a philosophy class, but a seminary, and the topic was preaching from a text! In the Lord's good providence, as a student one had already left an unanswered challenge concerning the scope of the love of God in the theology class*1A, with John Murray, who had graciously appointed time to present the objection. It was never answered and remains valid, and an adequate testimony to truth, provided for that time.
Moreover, the presentation against the sermon appeared mainly a matter of man's philosophy, trying to read this or that out of scriptures which did not require it; whereas the sermonic presentation on the love of God in its full amplitude, it depended on nothing but the categorical fact that it was written: it was divinely STATED. What do manís thoughts matter in such a case ? It is but obscuring the sun! One can only forgive and hope that others will learn, and seek that result!
Whatever might have been improved in the sermon, then, whatever was said in criticism, was not at all valid in the area of the scripturally stated scope and intensity of the love of God toward man, nor again in the scripturally stated region of the relevance of the will of man, in the sublime wisdom of God, to the exclusion of some from fruit from that divine love. Why hit a wall with eggs ? Why let human vanity prescribe to God ? It is written; and it is moreover given by God.
Debate about words being not to be desired (II Timothy 2:14), and the scripture having spoken for itself in a situation where sudden prohibition on speech could at any time recur, and adequate conditions being not found, however, the matter in Class was left in its sheer momentous persecutory horror.
In a setting where such truncation of speech is not now in view, one can speak most freely. The WORD of God SAYS this, and then as now, it simply does not matter whatever anyone else says: it is in vain. GOD KNOWS His own heart, and He states it here. HIS is this expansive love; MAN's is the entire responsibility for resisting it. How ? that is another question to which we return.
The Lord proceeds, and let us listen, in John 3. On what basis, then, since God for HIS part SO loved as to act in a way which is self-defining as indicative of the ultimate in love, what follows ? Is anyone in this world to be LOST, in the face of such an offering, an offer, a motivation, an action, a divine dealing ? Is it to be because some are not good enough, do not measure up, fail to find divine delight because of their current condition, lack the refinements of spirit which are good before the eye of God ?
Hardly, for the light shone in darkness which did not comprehend it. If you, said Christ once, BEING EVIL, know how to give good gifts to your children ... (Matthew 7:11). As Paul declares in Romans 6:23, ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; and as Christ has shown in this same chapter, to Nicodemus, so far is man from being nice enough to be chosen, like a Mr World, to stand beside God, that in fact, he cannot in ANY case, in the case of any single individual, be received AT ALL in his present form.
Change first, before entering the kingdom of heaven is the rule (John 3).
Not only so. It is not a matter of a new education, spiritual gymnastics or the like: he must actually cease to be what he was, and become a new-born babe, a new creation, something as discomposed and recomposed in entirety as if the present adult had to become another one through a belated birth process, and that of a sort not involving the womb of woman!
Imagine telling a maiden whom you love (really love), that you could marry her, but only if she went and became someone so utterly changed that only a birth process could engender the staggering difference in view! If she did not slap your face and blacken your name, you might be most fortunate in such a case!
Thus God is certainly not looking for the goodies, the superiors, to select them. He is looking for the born-again brigade, to be MADE different BEFORE being acceptable to Himself. It is called regeneration or being born again, and is instituted by divine power, without human aid, as is the nature for the born, of BEING born!
That is His love, and He has just finished saying so, in this same Chapter 3 of John. It is good in such things not to let the mind wander, since there seems to be some hidden desire to abort, truncate, dissolve in part, the love of God, as if it were too intense; but it is immense, and as stated, so it is. This must be realised before theology can enter, except as brigand, even if it may not realise the role! This is not to condemn people who err; it is to condemn the error, and that because of the honour, integrity and the word of God.
Thus the divine expedition has this positive and stated desire, that the world might be saved (John 3:17). It had this intense motivation relative to the defined world in view, that this would be so, and it was backed by securities of the highest order; for God's ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, was the price being offered. The SCOPE is clear; the PRICE is clear; the MOTIVATION is clear and so is the MOTIF.
IT IS ALWAYS HELPFUL WHEN SEEKING UNDERSTAND
THE WORD OF GOD,
TO LOOK AT THE TEXT, AND NO OTHER
- that is the trouble with confessional-itis,
when people insist on putting
into practice, whatever the claims, man's word with God's Speech,
thus foreclosing on the issue.
What more remains ? It is then simply this at this particular phase of the matter. WHAT of those who do not actually come - as love does not always come to what loves it, does it ? First we are instructed of the result of this love in this context: IF you believe in Him, this God so sent by God in this mission of love to the world, this equal with God, this manifest and explicit definitive expression of God, then you are not condemned. Obviously, this was the impending situation: one of condemnation. IF you believe in Him, it is averted. The action of the Son, as earlier noted before this saving declaration (John 3:15), is to be like the brazen serpent held up, for men to look at in the days of Moses. Then it was the case for one looking, that he or she would live, thus escaping the result of the deadly poison of the 'bite'.
It is of course a sacrificial offering that is in view as in Matthew 20:28, John 6:47-54. It is in that sense that He is 'lifted up' (John 12:32-33).
What then of those who do not BELIEVE in God the sent, as Saviour, so offered with such love to a world which God SO loves that ANYONE who believes in Him escapes condemnation and has moreover, that eternal life of which David so often spoke (as in Psalm 16,17,21)! It is NOT His will to condemn it, but that it might be saved (John 3:17). What then of this ?
There is then for such a negation, in view of this love, this gift, this grandeur of love, this simplicity of salvation, this performing of all that is needed form first to last, beginning to end, by the One whose is ALL power, only one result. You are condemned already! (John 3:18).
Your state before was one ready for condemnation; the only method of the only God with this intense and passionate love, pure and magnificent in conception and action both, it is not for you ? Then the condemnation is already read out. You are being swept to destruction, devastation. It is as if, at all cost, a canoe comes through the surging waters and the one offering help dies, but yet you may be transferred to the craft and so reach safety ? This is love and it is salvation ?
Then if you ignore the surging blood in the passing waters as your saviour having come, presents a free and ready access to the boat of salvation (rather like Noah's ark on these waters), then what could you possibly expect! When however it is GOD Himself who with SUCH great love (as in Romans 5:8), SO acts with SUCH a mission, and at SUCH a price, even at the personal level, that you negate: then obviously you are condemned.
In case you do not care to reason, then you are TOLD. NO GO! You are gone. You refuse the good, so take the evil. You ignore the sacrificial splendour, so endure the result. You are already in darkness relative to the incandescent realities of the divine, then take it and live in it. You have not believed in the name of the Son of God. To do so, is to avoid condemnation, which impends, looms and looks with degrading dynamic; to fail to do so, is to ADD to its grounds! You despise mercy as well as ignore truth! (John 3:18).
In fact, then, he who does not believe, in this context of the divine initiative, is not only condemned already, this person is condemned in terms of a principle. That is the teaching express and explicit in John 3:19.
It is clear but it is going to be stated. Thus, if you do not believe, condemnation is the first consequence, in this, that what was in any case DESERVED is now CONSOLIDATED. The case however is by no means arbitrary; for has not God just finished telling us that He so LOVED the WORLD and that He THUS sent His only begotten Son, His motive being not condemnation but salvation, and the object for which this motive acted being the world! The result is thus comprehensive.
It is comprehensive in ONE way. IF you believe, the offer being for ANYONE, then you have eternal life. IF you do not, the condemnation being already in force, then you are condemned indeed. What then is the principle ? is there any more to be said ? If the principle of coming is that ANYONE be saved in the whole WORLD to which God in such LOVE by such ACTION came with such motivation, what is the principle of coverage for the uncovered, the relentlessly resistant ?
It is then stated in John 3:19, with exquisite simplicity. There is, the word of God indicates AT THIS POINT, a principle for the negation phase. It concerns this: LIGHT.
In John's Gospel, Christ is defined in terms of being the light of the world (John 8-9, a little later formulates it). Already, however, by John 3, we have found more. It is indeed clear even in John 1.
It is stated He IS the creator of all: hence covered by Him is derivative life, such as that of man. He is in one category, Creator; man is in another, amidst what is created as to its ontology, its being, its nature.
It is further declared that in Him, in this Word, this all-creating Creator, apart from creation: in Him, was life. This life is then discerned and depicted relative to man. HE is that light relative to man in this world; for that LIFE (He created ALL creation, and EVERYTHING that IS a creation), means that His light is the light of man, in His image The eternal has granted to what is in time, its place, and He has come to this place, being its light in the case of man, to whom it thus relates.
Thus, in Him and FROM Him is the light of men (John 1:4). Eternal, divine light thus is exposed. It is however a light which shines in darkness (John 1:5), which does not even comprehend it.
Now if darkness cannot 'comprehend', it is obviously a metonymy, that is, a conjunction of associated terms, one doing service for the other. It means that the world is IN darkness, relative to the necessary light of the One who as Creator, is this world's light, illumination, ground of meaning and comprehension, source of guidance and direction, orientation and direction.
Thus, this being the antecedent state of those in the world (other than those who being believers already in the One who having come, merely confirms to them the faith they already had in the coming Messiah), then that REMAINS their state when they DO NOT BELIEVE in response to the offer of God in His only begotten Son.
They are condemned already. The principle in the terms so carefully shown in John 1 is now spelled out in John 3:19. LIGHT has come, the light of Christ, the light unleashed in love, the light needed, the light of comprehension, the light without which as Christ explains later, you walk in darkness, the light of life itself. It is needed, the environment (man) is in darkness, and the light, by contrast and according to sublimely met need: it has come. Where it is not received, therefore, the unbeliever, in all his regions and battalions, he has PREFERRED DARKNESS.
Now this is not a mere explanatory reference. Quite far from this is the case. It is indeed the expression of the GROUNDS on which the STATED love of God, and the DEFINED gift with the IMPLICIT passion, and the EXPLICIT dimension in intensity and scope (the world which He created as sole creator and to which He comes duly as sole Saviour) relates to those who negate it, who refuse it. In a word, it tells us the position and the grounds for it, of those who DO NOT BELIEVE, since believing in Him was the criterion.
They then are first of all condemned already, and secondly the writ against them in the most frank and intensive fashion relating to the offer, is this: that since they preferred darkness, this IS their condemnation.
That is the word of His mercy. It is not because of their REQUIRING mercy, being sinners, and being disabled from finding it, that the condemnation is levelled. THAT was the condition occasioning the coming in view of the divine love for the world. It was to change this that He came, not to show it to be so. That is EXPLICIT in John 3:17.
He did not come so that what was, should continue. He came to resolve the situation in terms of love, a love for the world. It was not to demonstrate its folly, but to redeem in love, that He came. It was not a case of an identity statement: You are sinful and so do not believe; see I have come, and you do not believe. It is as I said!
Quite to the contrary, the case was practical and transmutative, operational and effective, a mission of mercy where mercy would be shown.
The condemnation then ? It is because the LIGHT has come freely into their darkness, with a LOVE which like the darkness is world-wide in scope, a LOVE kindred in breadth and illimitable in kind, seeking reconciliation not only indeed in earth but in heaven, one wrought in the very blood of the Cross, the love of God who is omnipotent and penetrative, but not unprincipled: yet in the face of this, they preferred that darkness.
The Bible places the onus of responsibility, in the light of this divine desire, love and attitude, not in the delimitations of divine love, a concept specifically excluded in John 3 as in Colossians. Rather is it set in the intimations of human refusal at this level. It is not that man fell off the boat; it is that being fallen, and the life-saver being present with his saving desire towards all, man not because of wetness, but with a heart beyond it, yet desires not this salvation. Wet or not wet, THIS is not for HIM!
Thus, it is not even that in falling off the boat, he became wet (volitionally disabled), for the arm of the Saviour is strong; it is that from this salvation not because fallen, but because ultimately self-excluded before all time (Ephesians 1:4), man differentiates himself into the category of the fatally lost. It is a singular, a one by one case, not a universal failure. The love is universal, its object is seen in individual terms, and the exclusion by this love is then based on the specific response as divinely seen and known (before all time in fact, but as illustrated now - let us face the fact of foreknowledge and predestination to the full, as everything else!).
The ruling concept was not, because you have fallen I do not desire you, but this: despite the fact that My love is toward ALL in this domain and sphere of delivering from sin and its manifold incapacities, YET YOU do not desire ME. The divine charge is NOT that in the disablements of sin man cannot, but in the contrariety of desire, despite the power of the omnipotent God to deliver, man will not. The difficulty lies not in technical problems of psychology, but in the relevance of human will; for however disabled to man's own usage relative to God it has become, yet in the divine mind it is selectively seen as negative in this crucial regard. Thus seen, it is not violated. Stricken and fouled past operation in this sphere on earth, it undoubtedly is, and such is the case for ALL; but not before God is it automatically thus self-excluded. It is on the contrary, God who before all time, before even the Fall, chose His own (Ephesians 1:4).
What man cannot discern because of sin, God not only can but does discern because of deity, and discerning, does.
The divine desire is spiritually defined, not technically delimited; and its breach is spiritual, not technical. We do not 'adjust' it because of results, but note that the character of love, as we all know, is thus. Power to push is irrelevant. In this case, however, the knowledge is divine as ONLY GOD could have. Since however He IS God, that is not only no difficulty, but a necessarily distinctive fact in the entire operation. It is time to cease demeaning God to man's level in order to facilitate man's thought in human terms, concerning God! That would be like confusing time and eternity, one and infinity.
Accordingly, with this desire, power and eternal purvey, the Lord is met with that response in His own all-discerning and eternal sight. Thus the thing is exhibited in time.
Yes more, that love was mercifully directed not only to one and all alike, but to heaven and earth alike. Its character is such that as I John 4 tells us, GOD IS LOVE. Nothing suggestive of diminution or delimitation is true. It is in this sphere of the uniquely divine and the necessarily omniscient, and the eternally discerning that we move. That is where the action is!
What then in the light of the One who God is, the I AM WHO I AM, is found from His word on this point ? what of those in this situation, yet refusing Him ? He makes a charge (John 3:19), in the light of His intention and conditions of discourse (John 3:17), His motive and His motivation. Ground for ultimate condemnation of certain persons being now reached, it is announced.
This is ultimate, intransigent, implacable, a charge without result but in judgment. Efforts to make man's sin the determinant, as if simply by being a sinner he could or would evade the love of God, per se are in collision with what GOD SAYS. The love of God transcends in its own way, this defect and deficiency in ALL men, except the Saviour Himself who became man to save man; it is not its own deletion or cancellation that the action moves.
God affirms otherwise: His love is alive, well and seeking all, knows where it is to find recipients. This it has known, even before man fell, before differentiae of this or that sensitivity were so much as relevant to the case as if determinants; God knew His own from the first.
God knows what He would like and says so directly and indirectly in His written word, times almost innumerable; and He knows in His foreknowledge who are His. This, in logical sequence we see, He implements in predestination (Romans 8:30ff.). They are not, we read, excluded because imperfect, inoperative, dysfunctional. This is not the statement. Indeed, ALL are thus!
They are excluded because, in a differential way apart from this universal fact of the fallen and occluded nature of man, many YET do not come to Him. THIS He knows NOT because of mere historical incidents, though these illustrate it, but because of eternal wisdom, where the currents of God's love and man's ultimate response to it are individual in outcome.
These are the scriptural principles. THAT ILLIMITABLE SCOPE of divine love, secure in the foreknowledge which in Christ is seen in visible and audible activity on this earth; THAT KIND of rejection on the part of man, which is the individually differential negating action cited; and this outcome as predestinated from the first, and known to the last: these are the biblical propositions.
The principle, then, is not that God has had enough of them, or has enough of them, or does not see much in them, or has discerned the better, and taken it out, or has intrinsically discerned the X-factor of His desire*1B, in some; and omitted what lacks it. Nor yet is it that He has followed what His love wants in its estranged selectivity, NOT loving the world, NOT actually unwilling that any should perish, NOT seeking that ALL THINGS in heaven or earth be reconciled to Himself, as deeply as the blood of the Cross. It is not this because the opposite is repetitively stated and remorselessly indicated throughout the history the Bible depicts*1C.
On the contrary, God has acted in integrity of of pervasive outgoing love (A), not simply leaving the unwashed unwanted (B) but rather those in His foreknowledge and omniscience, past all carnal limitations, divinely deemed, found BY HIM not to desire Him. It is GOD who foreknows, GOD who predestines and GOD who declares the scope and nature of His love. This is it, illimitable; and in view of that, it is no universal failing in man which damns some, but divinely known rejection EVEN of such salvation, and that in a DIFFERENTIAL way on the part of many among mankind, which seals judgment.
If only people would stop contradicting these indisputable scriptural propositions, how much better, and much less sophisticatedly blind the world might become.
Such motivation of love as would leave it in intrinsic diminution, like those who have surgery to remove stomach fat, is contrary to context on all sides. Such motivation of love in God as refuses such baneful theological surgery upon itself, it is this which abounds in principle and practice on all sides. It is God who repeatedly censures and protests, indeed makes protestation on this very point (Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff., Colossians 1, I Timothy 2 and in Jeremiah repeatedly).
It is HE who asks, WHY WILL YOU DIE! It is HE who declares, HOW OFTEN would I have gathered ...! It is He who excoriates their continuing refusals, expatiates His undeclining love repeatedly before judgment. THIS is His way, His word*1C, and to abort it is a surgery spiritual not to be desired.
Thus, it is rather that God made it a matter of MERE gift for man to believe what He has sent, the ONE WHOM He has sent and He would have it to all; yet if in His omniscient and eternal knowledge, you do not want it, then your condemnation is read off as on a scale: YOUR PREFERENCE IS DARKNESS. Man is cited, not because he is not responsible for this second tier of hatred of truth, but because he is. God cites His love, not because it is inapplicable, but because it is. Man can come only as a grant from God (John 6, 1:12); but the God who gives the grant has resolved it in terms of HIS OWN STATED PRINCIPLES, before all time.
It is time the technical is seen apart from the motivational, and the spiritual motive is not confused with the power of God to attain it in His own integrity. It is time God ceased to foreshortened because of philosophical preconceptions or pre-inclinations, which being diverse in this man or that, merely create divisions. It is time we read what is there and kept to it, in ALL things, ceasing to be followers of this or that man or theologian or patron saint or guiding star. If we are interpreting the Bible, to find its meaning, what then ?
Then our guiding Star is God and there is no other! We do not need partisans to parties but followers of the word of God. Why ? It is this which He requires and the other which He expressly FORBIDS! (I Corinthians 3, John 14:21ff., Psalm 119).
It is in fact of the most intense irony that those who seek to limit the love of God, and so contradict the word of God in these domains and spheres, are actually giving to man a power which God denies him. They would have the sinful nature of man able to dictate to God, despite His statement, just because it is sinful. Certainly, this may not be their intention, but it is in the light of what God says, the RESULT!
In fact, God directs man, past all the impediments he can muster, in accord with the integrity of love and the certainty of His power. In this, there is no mystery except one: HOW God COULD so love! How amazing is such love, such power, such wisdom, such unselfishness, such magnitude of love, not narrowly self-pleasing, but grand and majestic in conception as in implementation!
How vast are His resources and how lovable is His name and His nature! When you have love in its infinitude, it is so! When as in I John 4, one reads that God IS love, so that all contrary to it, exclusive of it in nature is excluded, it is then that one moves in the midst of a mystery not to logic, but one moving in its sheer splendour, that of illimitable purity and uniqueness.
This is the scriptural emphasis. He is not satisfying Himself in selective indulgence, but fulfilling love to man in glorious totality. Being God, the love He has is immutable, and undisruptible. It is also unpollutable, and nothing contrary is suffered. Where it is not found, there He is not. Where in its integrity it does not come, He does not come. All who (in this grand sense) love, are born therefore of God, and those who do not lack this. This is the very heart of this phase of John's declaration (I John 4:7-8).
God did not so love the world that He manipulated some, but that He saved some in the force and nature of that love in its integrity. To make God speak of such love and then recant, because of the deadness of human sin, when HE cites the differential exclusion of man lies in man, this is to make a new doctrine, a new love and a new aspect of God Himself. We however do not have this option. To be sure the matter is deep; but not as deep as all that. It is when you walk in the light that the light illumines; and when you reject what is written, that complexities and contradictions arise.
After all, GOD HAS SPOKEN. It is time to cease contradicting Him, either by minimising His love contrary to His speech, or maximising man's sin past the power of God; neither making sovereignty a ground of contradiction by changing the word of God, nor human autonomy to be as if operative instead, by altering the word of God concerning that. Both features are anti-biblical and the squalls of mutual charge and counter-charge, on the part of devotees of either error, are most understanable, given that each is wrong, often impervious, and sometimes imperious!
This responsibility in the light of the stated divine intentions, it is in man, but not in God. He has spoken differently from that.
Man is not sovereign, God is. Man is relevant to God in all his dimensions, and where in the divine knowledge, indeed foreknowledge, such saving love reaches, there it settles. Man does not determine this; God does. For the result God is not responsible, man is.
It is not a failure in divine dynamics or knowledge that makes the love of God not practically relevant to all in actual salvation, as if man's CURRENT and CONTEMPORARY will is all; for that is as much denied as is the concept that it is in limitation in the relevant and stated love of God, that the boundary is to be found. It is the knowledge and indeed foreknowledge of God, past all the works and sin-dominated universality of the fallen will of man, but NOT past the relevance of the human will to the all-seeing insight of God, which differentiates.
Thus as the love of God is STATED, so is the SCOPE of it, and the GUILT of man in the face of such a love and offer and desire on the part of God, this also is stated. To limit the former in order to alter the latter is neither just nor wise.
When however we return to what is written, that position has one overwhelming advantage. It needs no other, because is written. It is as light and shallow as it is profoundly and awesomely mistaken to alter what is written in order to accommodate a philosophy, as it would be to try to transport the oceans to the moon. Wisdom compiles from the raw data of the Bible, just as true science does from the data which are to be found operative in its own sphere. THEN it operates, not retrospectively to alter, but prospectively to understand, never wavering from any point in any way whatsoever.
It is there, then, in the written word of God that we find this is the universal scope of the love of God, and that man's will is the party which excludes such a scope from securing all, and that while the spirit of man is NOT able NOW to discern, in any case, for itself, since the natural man is blinded (I Cor. 2:14), yet that GOD is able to discern since He is not. It is there that we find that He has done it all, all works of ANY kind apart in man, and clad it in predestination IN VIEW of that, before time began (Romans 8:30ff.). If you want the Biblical teaching, this is what it is; and neither of the contrary extremes has this one and single, indeed singular advantage, of adhering to all the texts.
As to them, they are from the heart of God (cf. I Corinthians 2:9ff.), and they are like photos of one loved, not to be altered, not with an eye to forthcoming plastic surgery. You love what is; or you do not. The love of God is as wide as it is stated to be, and the result of its not being found is as sure as it is stated to be. The cause of that exclusion is as it is stated to be, and it lies not in the scope of the divine motivation, but in the scope of the human differential rejection of what is offered in salvation, as it is and always has been known to God.
THUS and for this, the ultimate unbeliever is condemned: that despite the saving action and disposition towards all on the part of God, whose will nothing can extinguish and from whose penetration nothing can exclude, yet you so evaluate it, so reject it, so do not receive the mercy, so do not believe in the Saviour, the light, the Creator that you distinguish yourself from others in the same category of disabled sinners. Very well, then you are judged out of your own mouth, your own life. God knows how to make your will relevant, and in what way it is so; and knowing, cites it.
Since being born again is not something the unborn want (I Corinthians 2:14), and seeing the right is not what the spiritually blind desire (Ephesians 4:17ff.), it is a matter, to be sure of GOD Himself doing the CHOOSING (as in John 15, Romans 9:16, John 1:12). The flesh did not because it COULD not choose HIM, so that those who are reborn in this way, they do not achieve it by will, by blood, by family background, by culture. It is NOT of this kind. It is by contrast and by contradistinction, of GOD, says John 1:12.
Thus we find that God SEEKS for the world with passion, and the exemption from THIS love of His with this saving result comes from what REFUSES Him in this seeking. To be sure, while sin is dominant as it is in the NOT YET born again person, one and all, that person will not, because he or she cannot choose God: it is God who chooses. So far however from this making the human will irrelevant, it makes its relevance the more sure. GOD declares the result of not believing to be a matter of preferring darkness in the very environment of light arriving, sent on universal mission by love, and it is He who assesses it, He who knows, He who implements the result sovereignly and He who states the cause with supreme wisdom.
That is what has been and is taught for the cause of the differentiation between destinies for man. As to the love and salvation of God, it is not that darkness as such finds it incomprehensible; that is its very nature. It is that GOD JUDGES this, that all that being so, yet it is the PREFERENCE of man in the sight of this light, which despite this divine love, excludes him. It is he himself, he only who is guilty. Neither in love nor in truth nor in justice does God at all err. His love is so exapnsive as He declares; and His justice is so intense as the Cross exhibits, and where the one is excluded, the other is included. Love may weep; but it does not alter. It may grieve, but it does not give in, to make of itself a manipulator!
God knows who are His in the face of this love, and hence declares it to be so. While HE chooses, it is the sole responsibility of man to make the DIFFERENTIATION between destinies. He so charges. Let it rest where it is, in His own statement. Actually, were it otherwise, there would lie insoluble antinomies; but this, it is merely one of the advantages of adhering to what is written! (cf. Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Blessings Chs. †9, 7, Gratitude for His Glorious Grace Appendix, His Wounds ... Ch. 4 and see *1C below).
Thus does God choose. THIS choice however is not because He changes; it is not through some lapse in the already declared love of God, some truncation in the extent of the already declared divine mission. That sort of quibble is mere contradiction of the word of God which is most clear, the terms mutually unambiguous to the uttermost degree as we see. It is that God sees past the superficial, the elementary, in man, and knowing all, declares the actual ground for the individual, that he/she WOULD NOT! It is the will of man that is paralysed from such fundamental choice for God, since the fall of man arrived; not the power of God to know it as it is. The first is scripturally affirmed (Ephesians 4, I Cor. 2:14), and the latter is denied! If we wish to be scriptural, let us be it.
The matter in its outgoing is operational, not final; and God reads with finality what buffeted man can no longer control. Before He predestines (in logical order), He foreknows. That is what is written of the order in Romans 8:30ff.. He knows what He is doing; there is no gaunt sovereignty presiding over the case, but the loving God, whose love is precisely as wide in scope for the world, for man, for all things in heaven or on earth, as He has declared. In that love, doing what He has declared is part of the omnipotence. Man may have to walk with a stick; but God knows more than the confinement of the stick. He knows all and so acts in His love.
If God were dumb, the matter would be very hard; since He is omnipotent and omniscient, and moreover wise, and knows what He has made and its ways, it is not even a problem of any kind. He uses His wisdom to know, before He acts to do in the application of salvation.
Thus does love in harmony with power, and sovereignty in concord with pity, knowledge in the heart of integrity act, as only God can. Thus does the evil of man become the responsibility of man, who is never merely controlled, except in this, that if he indeed rejects the Lord, and so life, then his residual form of living is a denuded variety, subject to all sorts of enslavement, as is any design abused. God for His part, so far from inducing evil, creates freedom, so far from inciting evil, overcomes it, and so far from manipulating man, pleads with Him. Moreover, so far from being subject to the incidental whims or caprices of man, knows Him as he is too occluded with sin to know himself, and implements truth on all sides.
What would you, that God be not God in order to create a problem ? If God were not God, there would be nothing to solve! Since He is, there is nothing to resolve, the case is clear, His words cohere, the grounds are sure and the matter rests where it should, in the environment of biblically defined terms, cohesive as nothing ever has been in this area outside His word. What would one, after all, expect! This is but one of its ever-present verifications, the results of its source.
CHOICE ? WHOSE ? BUT WHY ?
HOW then does God choose ? This is a legitimate question to which one has provided for apologetic purposes, a consistent answer (SMR Ch. 8, cf. Predestination and Freewill); and the matter has been exhibited with all its force in such Chapters as 7 and 9 of Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace. That is apologetics, however, this is direct, divine declaration.
God chooses we KNOW in accord with the EXTENT OF HIS LOVE (John 1-3, Colossians 1), as shown. His DESIRE is all, but His exclusion zone defined by Himself, with the reason provided, shows that He does not, as if swashbuckling, simply grab some, regardless of the nature of love. EVEN THOUGH He SO loves with such passion as shown in such personal gift and such simplicity - one has only to BELIEVE in Him - yet He declares two vastly important things.
One is this: that not only will SOME not believe, but there is a principle which covers their case in this congregation of love and passion and mission and motif and motivation.
What is this principle ? it is that preferring darkness is its own condemnation, and it is enough for their final condemnation, not as SINNERS merely, but sinners who reject salvation, than which there is no other. It is and must be so! His coming being NOT to condemn, and without HIS divine action, condemnation being SURE, since the thing is not of the WILL OF MAN at all, this salvation (John 1:12), then clearly the decisive action in salvation MUST be of God (as in John 6:29, 6:65).
The pathology excludes ALL (I Cor. 2:`14); God would have ALL. In exercising HIS stated CHOICE, then, God finds SOME, indeed 'many'. In so finding, He also finds this, that some PREFER darkness, even in this light, even as before Him, even in His knowledge of the realities past all comparison, past all limitation, past all the pathologies of the fallen man.
He "would have healed" Israel,
Babylon (Hosea 7, Jeremiah 51), but as He declares,
Light has COME into the world, yet
they have PREFERRED darkness.
Despite His passion, He so chooses
in integrity and in truth;
God knows the heart as no man does
When man comes to God, therefore, it is indeed a fulfilment, behind time and history, of the love of God, and it is in the nature of love, that the results are enacted. God who is love (I John 4), does not cease to be so, when He acts. God who is wise, does not cease to be so, when He knows. Man who is unwise, does not confuse God; man who is impotent before God, does not distress the power of God to fulfil the ambit of His love AS love!
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! as in Joshua, remains the resilient response, when God acts; and God acts as He knows, thus having the total harmony of the will of man and that of God, the crumpled smallness of man's failure and volitional decrepitude in this realm, and the vigour and virtue of the knowledge of God, concerning Him, seeking for him as lost, but not acting the wolf in the seeking! God is God, and not of the domain or dominion of lust. He loves; and love does not behave itself in an unseemly way, or allow 'sovereignty' to disturb its integrity. Power does not control integrity, but integrity uses power. God is truth.
Therefore, when in the day of Joshua, for example, he declared that he would serve the Lord: this is indeed an individual and personal and genuine declaration, indicative of what ONLY GOD could do; but of what, He having done it , truly represents the position of that person. It is beyond the desire of sin; it is divine knowledge. It is not immersed in inferiorities and superiorities, wholly beyond the diminutions and accesses of time, and the functions of fall. God is not limited in His knowledge; foreknows, predestines, acts, and in so doing, naturally, indeed supernaturally fulfils all the principles He states are His, concerning the scope of His love and its intensity. He is no liar.
Whatever outcomes come, come; the mode of their coming remains the integrity of the love in the scope as stated. Predestination disturbs nothing, but ensures all. It exhibits RESULTS. It FOLLOWS, we continually remind ourselves from the word of God, foreknowledge, and that accords with love as divinely stated to be the very heart of God.
Thus God knows their preference in a way they do not. Even their WILL is not the operative basis of exclusion or inclusion, and it is so STATED in John 1. It is HIS; but what HE would like is STATED. Hence the will of God makes of man what is the result of such love in such a case where the spiritual sickness so desensitises the man that ONLY God can make the necessary decision; and He does so! What else ?
If mere preference-in-sin were all, as vested in man, then NONE would or could be saved. It is not of flesh or of will, but of God, says God in JOHN 1. The DIVINE desire, willingness is for all, but a preference is noted by Him, as the countermanding of this situation. Such is the divine depiction in John 3. That is the context. It is God who is speaking and it is therefore well to listen, not philosophise as is the way of some.
If then sin were all, none could be
saved; if the love of God used force, all would be saved
What then ? SINCE ONLY God can institute the change, and it is not a matter of the human will DOING IT, and while it IS a matter of preference for darkness constituting the whole ground of condemnation of those who so remain in their sins (cf. John 8:24), then it is God who in LOVE desiring ALL, takes those who in this same love, may be so taken in its integrity. There is by the nature of love, a willingness NOT to take what is loved in the case that it may be found only by an invasion that forces, or by an intrusion that distorts.
That would twist things, just as sin does; but such an action as this would do so more ultimately (as in Isaiah 5, Jeremiah 5, 17, and to be seen in some detail not only in SMR Appendix B, but in such chapters as those above mentioned in Great Execrations... and Gratitude for His Glorious Grace Ch. 2, Predestination and Freewill). It would defy, defile and counter the image of God in man. The person of man would become irrelevant, the image of God status, not only defiled but defunct. God would in such a case be other than He reveals Himself to be, inviting, exhorting, pleading, considering with man, inviting, inciting ... and beyond all, seeing, knowing. However, all is exposed before Him with whom we have to do, and He acts in truth; and if anyone does not TRUST Him in this, then he or she does not trust Him, period. Yet it is to BELIEVE in Him which is the simple requisite; and it is requisitioned!
God does so act in the Bible, however, in this divinely solicitous, not only dutiful but beautiful manner; and is not different but always the same, yearning, seeking for what was lost, fishing, and only in the end condemning where in pangs of grief, solicitude and kindness, it becomes the end of the matter (cf. Isaiah 57:15 where God indicates the position of man so delicately). If He were different in this, much of the Bible would depart immediately, and love would be re-defined, and so also therefore, God. Yet since it is God speaking in the scripture, to re-define Him courts idolatry!
It is quite clear, also, in II Peter 3:9, that in the perspective of the choice of the MOMENT when Christ is to return - not to some part of this world but TO IT AS THE WORLD, this very world which as II Peter 3, all but perished in the flood: this regal return time has its own constraints. God is not coming back too soon; the day of Christ's return has matters of great moment back of it.
As in I Timothy 2 and Colossians 1 precisely, as in John 3 categorically, so here in II Peter 3, dispositionally relative to the coming of Christ the Judge, there is this WILLINGNESS, as again and again cited. It is here in the negative form, but with the positive meaning.
Thus there is a willingness as in Colossians that ALL should come to be reconciled to God, indeed it PLEASES the Father in the very context of sending the Son as Saviour, that it should be so. There is in II Peter a willingness that something should NOT happen. What is this something and how does it relate to the love of God ? It is an unwillingness to come back to earth too soon.
Why ? Lest any be lost who should be saved! What is the import ? that God would have them to be saved, and would hold back history for this to happen. Why is this ? It is because of His disposition. What is that disposition ? It is this: He is UNWILLING that any should perish.
It is an exclusion not an inclusion, in this, relative to willingness. In one case, the willingness is the ground of seeking and providing; in the other, the unwillingness is because of the willingness. He is unwilling to come too soon because He is unwilling that any be lost. He waits till the time is ripe therefore, being patient out of this desire for non-perishing. The unwillingness in this case, it is the obverse of the willingness in the other. In both, in every case, the thrust is one: God loves, does not desire perishing, goes far to prevent it, went so far as the Cross, an ultimate category if ever there was one; and He goes so far as to wait for its total application to the uttermost part.
WHEN THE SOVEREIGN STATES DESIRE,
BELIEVE HIM, WHEN THAT SOVEREIGN IS GOD
The stated desire in all the categorical cases noted is this: that NOT ANY should perish. That is WHY He seems to delay for so long (and Peter here is moved to make it quite clear that we are talking in terms of thousands of years before it happens that Christ returns). So great is the divine zeal in love for THE WORLD, that God sends His Son so that ANYONE may by believing in Him not perish. So great is His scope of salvation, that in going so far as looking on the very blood of the Cross of Christ, He is seeking that ALL THINGS should be reconciled to Himself; yes even things in heaven as well as on earth (Colossians 1). There is a vast amplitude which covers all categories, while the love of God towards SALVATION is in view for ANYONE and EVERYONE, for ALL THINGS.
In the Colossians case, the term is then itemised in groups, heaven and earth, and this not because it is not relevant! When God is speaking of heaven and earth as the categories, it is not even amusing in impudence and callowness of mind, if anyone seeks to say that things in heaven really mean a few of them, or that the correlative and parallel, on earth, must mean a part of it: this, when the whole heavens are the counterpart! There are limits even to obscurantist inanity, however great the confusion.
Thus in II Peter, we are seeing the exact counterpart; but it is set in terms of what God declines to do. That ? It is to act so quickly in judgment as to thwart, as to abort His desire. Naturally He would not do that; but what IS this desire of which He speaks in II Peter 3:9, but that for which He holds back His hand in this case!
It is as again and again in ultimate categories, this: that NOT ANY should perish, but that all should come to repentance. How many times does God have to define His love, its scope and intent, before it is at last heeded! Whatever else is anywhere or at any time written in the Bible, on tis topic, this is clarity itself. Everything in its place, foreknowledge for its place, predestination for its place, the love of God overall, there is a harmony so intense that it is like a calm in some tropical lagoon, after a rollicking storm; and in this case, it is the storm of human thought, discontented, unless taking pictures of its storms, never relishing the peace of God, in His word.
Again, if anyone failed in the power to read I Timothy 2, that grand and similar coverage of God, concerning the categories of mankind and of Mediator, of each of which there is but one, that is one mediator between GOD the judge and MAN the potentially judged: what then ? Then he could read in the counterpart in II Peter 3:9, the same thing in reverse operation. God does not yet bring the vast panoply, the covering of man in his historical opportunities, swiftly to a close because He does NOT desire any to perish, and DOES desire that all be saved.
In Timothy, it is declared from the mind of God, to which it is well to heed, thus: God desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. The reason given here is this: that there is ONE God and ONE Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. As to Him, He gave Himself a ransom on behalf of all, to be testified in due time. That is the reason. He acted on behalf of ALL. Hence He is shown to desire all men to be saved. That is the position presented by the word of God for these entities, God, man, single Mediator.
SINCE therefore He did that, making the offering precisely as did the High Priest in Israel, though with Him, it was Himself and not sacrifices of animals, just as for Israel was the provision made otherwise, we find in this, His desire. Certainly, as in Deuteronomy 29, some apparently in the covenant people, might in fact wish to avoid its intent, so here. The coverage in available scope is one thing; in actual participation, it is another.
How vigorous is the condemnation of the hypocrite in Deuteronomy 29:18ff.. It is effective in substitution for sin; it is defective where not received, because it is inapplicable. But the reason we know that God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth is STATEDLY, that as God is one, Mediator is one, the gift for ransom is on behalf of all, THUS God would have this result. It is the inescapable conclusion from His action. So it is written: He would have all to be saved, FOR with ONE Mediator between ONE God and ONE mankind, who gave Himself as a ransom on behalf of ALL.
The scope of the sacrifice in its availability, is ALL; and the desire which led to that is one for ALL. It is shown in the blood so offered, and what it shows is this, that He would have, in the very domain of God, Mediator and man, ALL to be saved. That is what is written; and it is as wise as to carve up cadavers for sport, as to seek to carve it up into some other word, some other motif, motivation or action. God has spoken of WHAT He did, and HOW it relates to WHAT He would like. Why should man, who is not God, presume to speak further, or arrogantly to correct his Maker. It is farcical, certainly, but it is worse than that, so to act.
The scriptures are simply not available for astute twisting operations. This is what is said. It is NOT said that ALL are covered by sacrifice; if any are at any time so covered, and when they are so covered, then they are in fact saved (Romans 8:32). Those for whom Christ was DELIVERED UP, are in fact the inheritors of all things, the apostles there discloses.
Nor is it said, on the other side, that only some are desired by God. It IS said, in terms which admit of neither subterfuge, nor truncation, but are categorical in every one of these texts, and not least here and in II Peter: that God wishes for ALL to be saved. He neither aborts deliverance from justice (by failing to send a Son whose sacrifice in ambit is sufficient for all, and adapted to them), nor distorts love (by failing to have this scope in view as His heart seeks); nor does He abort love, as if to change what it is, in finding people, by methods which ill-accord with love.
He KNOWS, and uses means not to overturn but to fulfil love in its integrity and reality; and He acts with His very own all-wise and knowing sight, not with the variable febrile fits and starts of a man! So is predestination a joy, and foreknowledge a blessing (cf. The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 8).
He acts in love as love is; with power as power is relevant; in wisdom as to ensure He loses none of His own, predestinated; with restraint, not to turn love into a subtler name for force, or wisdom into a perverse name for folly, such as man so readily practises; and in the end, being love, He is satisfied, as Isaiah proclaimed in Isaiah 53:10ff.. He justified MANY; His blood is shed for MANY; His ransom is for MANY. But few there are who find it!
Much of the Bible is moving in this sphere: God is exhorting, telling us that He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked but that he should turn (Ezekiel 33:11, cf. Jonah 4); yet not forcing him to do so, rather pleading (Jeremiah 5; 17). He advises that He would have healed Israel, but it is not healed (Hosea 7:1), and even the same of Babylon (Jeremiah 51:9).
God thus STATES that HE regenerates, that MAN cannot so choose, that HE desires ALL in the world, but that many will not respond as in His sight and that hence they will be condemned.
Is it so hard ? LOVE desires all. It does not desire it as if transmuted into force! It desires it as love: what else would love, being itself, then do!
It acts where the human preference for darkness is not resolved as ultimate and final in its rejection, for in such a case, it would not be love that so moved into such lives to regenerate them! If it were not so, and the love being as broad as the world, then ALL would be saved; but then they would not be men, but manipulees, not in the image of God.
God is not willing to do that, for this would be a different kingdom with a different King. ALL the Bible shows the nature of the restraint in the love of God; but to truncate it instead of hearing its integrity, this is simple defamation, built on flat contradiction of the Bible in many places, and one of these is this one.
It is NOT a matter of relative merit; for none has ANY (Ephesians 2, 4). Moreover since predestination is BUILT on foreknowledge, not of works but of MAN (Romans 8:29ff.), then it is in foreknowledge of THIS type that one must look. IN this foreknowledge it is this same JESUS who is involved, since He always is and was God (John 8:58). What He was on earth is precisely His nature in heaven, and this nature does not change (Hebrews 13:8), incarnate or pre-incarnate, for it is the same heart, the same precise definitive exhibition of God (Hebrews 1). It is the same in foreknowledge, in predestination, in application, in regeneration.
Thus, for example, there is no relative merit, as in the day of Adam, for none is differentiated in merit, where no demerit lies, nor where demerit, on the other hand, is to the relevant point, TOTAL (Ephesians 2:8ff., 4:17ff.)!
God knows what He does, and does what He says. It is this which must be learned. His principles are secure, and so the matter rests. His ways do not change.
LOVE OF GOD IS AS SCRIPTURALLY DEFINED,
AND MARVELLOUSLY CLEAR IF YOU FOLLOW WHAT HE DECLARES,
AND THAT TO HIMSELF!
Our purpose here however is simply to relay the word of God because of confusion and diffusion of what is defamatory to the love of God, and not on one side only.
Thus the love of God is not a pathetic thing which is all thumbs and waits on man, and loses sleep because man is so incompetent, and wishes that something better, really, could be done. Poignancy and grief is not incompetence of inadequacy. Quite to the contrary, these things are the purest expression of love in its restraint and integrity, wonder and quality, such as no man could ever desire to see more unselfish, the very source of noble parenthood in mankind. The 'weakness' of God is in fact strength as Paul indicates in I Corinthians 1. He is not really weak, but grand in nobility, gracious in thought, kind in tenderness and marvellous in reliability.
Weak in fact ?
That is not scriptural any more than is a dramatic sovereignty which defiles the patience and restraint of the God of the Bible by its intrusive push. Such a love would be one which did not deal with the evil of this world by the beauty of freedom, thus making man responsible, with his spiritual helpers in evil, for all.
It would instead have the PRINCIPLE of GRABBING and so would violate the freedom which being so, and much misused in man and other creation, is the ground of the evil which ensues, both in violation of design, defection from the image of God, and in just results.
It is however no biblical depiction to have such a merely totalitarian approach to the love of God; it is indeed a freedom in man which defiles, and a freedom in the last analysis, before God, which continues to deprave the race. Man is responsible to the uttermost part for all the misuses of the divine grant of liberty in much, including the negative disposition of fealty. Man incites evil, and becomes evil as he incites, and judgment in time may indeed outline the fatal curves from the path of rectitude; and that with much longsuffering.
The actual biblical teaching shows the fallen world, equipped intrinsically in man with liberty, but one distorted; and it is this world to which God then looks in love. It is in this world that where man is found beyond all pathology, to be a preferring-darkness spirit, there is condemnation.
God did not merely condemn. He first sent His Son. He did not intellectually twiddle dials. He acted to the uttermost IN HISTORY. It is man in history whom He knows, but it is man seen in the light of eternity, beyond mere history, whom He also sees.
The love of God is beautiful in restraint, marvellous in passion, neither weak and failing before man, nor marching jack-booted into the soul, nor seducing what is then not really in a position to be relevant. THIS is the condemnation, not that God did NOT so love, or did NOT so love the WORLD; any such idea is rejected vigorously throughout the Bible. No, that is an outrageous OUT! It is not that; but that some in this world in the very face of the divine love and outreach, the divine wisdom and knowledge, PREFERRED darkness to light. This HE knew.
HIS love is motivated to do ALL and has done ALL; it is not in question. God ALONE saves, and man CANNOT. Where darkness is, in the divine knowledge, the ultimate preference, such is the doom: the person gets what he prefers.
Thus God IN this love does NOT savingly act where in HIS judgment it is not appropriate; and where that is, the entire Bible shows, is where without spoliation of liberty seen in His eternal eyes, there is no way for it to find the person concerned.
This is HIS stated position. HE WOULD have all, DOES NOT gain all, and the preference of man is the barrier, divinely acknowledged and cited for judgment. As to God, HE has MAXIMAL motivation and is OMNIPOTENT; and when many do not come, they are condemned in terms not of HIS but of their preference, not for this or that action or condition, and not as if they were loved too little comparatively to be operated on, in regeneration; for that is directly excluded. To the contrary, they are condemned because in the face of such love, such motivation from God, such action, such simplicity, and as before Him who has known all about all from eternity, before time even arose, and without reference to their works (Romans 9): there is deemed to be the relevant exclusion.
In HIS eyes, it is an ultimate thing, despite His motivation. In HIS knowledge, it is deemed to be an exclusion zone. That is all.
This is what He states. All these propositions are sure.
Human will with Wesley CANNOT biblically be given the place, nor can falling away be permitted as contrary to the entire conception (John 10:9,27-28), as often shown from the Bible on this page (cf. Index, Christian Assurance). The human will does not have this inglorious power. Once it is saved, it is secured. It is GOD who manages all of these things in His love and TRUTH. Born once is for ever (I John 3:9, 5:11-12), and He WANTS you to realise this, and SAYS SO.
Your freedom of will as a simple, sample operator in this REALM is statedly LOST; and God's freedom is NOT. His LOVE is statedly for the entire WORLD and ALL as in Colossians also. Thus, if you do not cross the threshold to contradict what God has SAID, you see the world-wide passion, the preliminary foreknowledge, the USE of predestination to FULFIL that, and the nature of the love working IN that foreknowledge. It would have all, and to the extent that love may, therefore gets them. Love becoming force is not an option, since that is not a matter of more power, or even mere power, but changing love into something it is not. God does not change; God is love: both of these things He STATES (Psalm 102, James 1, Malachi 3:6, I John 4).
There is then no problem. If you want God, be glad; His love is not truncated. Look for every help. Wanting God, however, comes to a far greater climax when the cost is involved! (cf. Luke 14). If you do not want God, then cease to blame Him for all or any of the evil in the world: you are then in league with it.
If you wish you were 'one of the elect', remember this, that predestination FOLLOWS foreknowledge and in that foreknowledge the STATED love of the UNCHANGING God operates as really as when Christ was acting and showing Himself, God on earth! There is no way you will be lost if in His sight and before HIS love and salvation, this is not a matter of your preference for darkness. Why not leave to Him HOW He knows (it is not hard to show how it might be as we have done)!*1 HE KNOWS. This therefore YOU MUST KNOW. If YOU personally ever are to be lost, it is ENTIRELY 100% your fault, and it is contrary to the outreach of His love; and no power can prevent that love. Power is not the point. It is preference as known by God!
YOU seek Him then with confidence if you will, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do. If you don't really think you quite want Him, well then, there you are, your own man, your own woman; and one cannot say 'Good luck to you!' for there is no such thing as luck in the end. There are events where purpose for good is excluded (Psalm 1:4-5). This then becomes one of them. In terms of this Psalm 1 and its message, remember then simply this: to be ungodly is to made unmanly. You deconstitute yourself, if not absolutely, alas, then as in other smash, grievously.
You become then a lost waif, with meaning but without its knowledge, with destiny, but without desire for it, with a past, but without disjunction from it, with hope, but without reason for it. If that is your will, as before God, who will prevent it! If you want divine mercy, at once ask for it!
There is no lack in the supply, or in the love, or in the power. ASK then! (Matthew 7:7ff., Luke 11:13); but in your asking, remember this, not only is the love of God of this vast dimension, indeed unbounded in its purity and truth, but it is shown and categorically exhibited for approach in the Cross of Christ, by which, indeed by whom, the world is crucified to me and I to the world, as we find in Galatians 6:14, that site for salvation, that realism in redemption, that transfer setting for the ablution of sin, the cancellation of guilt and the deposition of God's own divine righteousness to the account of man, that he might by grace stand (Matthew 20:28, Ephesians 2).
REMEMBER THAT THERE IS NOTHING
ABOUT THE LOVE OF GOD,
ONLY ABOUT ITS VOLUNTARY EXCLUSION
OR MISLED DEFAMATION:
In reality, it is the infinitude of marvels
(cf. Romans 5, Ephesians 3, Colossians 1).
Glorious indeed is the scope of the love of God.
To think there is a truncation in the love of God, or that there is this sort of thing in His sovereignty, which of course is to be understood in terms of His love since He IS love, and nowhere in Him therefore does loving disposition fail to reach: WHAT DOES THIS DO ? It is to turn the whole passion of the Gospel on its head. It comes close to inventing gods.
God so loved that He gave so that
anyone ... He did NOT come to condemn. but to save the world.
Condemnation is where the light of Christ is excluded by man despite the divine power and mercy, and that is CATEGORICAL.
It is not: GO and preach just to save them from hell; but that the LOVE of God constrains you (II Corinthians 5). This is a result of the rejection, assuredly; but if you be a Christian, then you in love co-operate with the seeking, knowing it never depends on you, in that strange almost humanistic emphasis on ME, sometimes found. It rather depends on God's eternal choice. On the other hand, if you do not go, what sort of love is that ? Has not God shown what love DOES! Fidelity as with responsibility as if there were no other person; wisdom knows that God can make up for the worst errors of man, though many be the pangs for the event!
The call then is rather, GO in the love with which God sent, that those be not lost but saved. Do not take upon yourself the entire wisdom of God as one pair of feet; and on the other side, do not abort the love of God by refusing to have them shod with the Gospel, or moved with practicality.
Going in search of the lost, that they do not to hell, is part of the true option; but it does not DEPEND on us, but on the Gospel which God knows as to its final and discrete result in His own eternal counsel and predestination. No one can put someone else into hell by negligence; but one who is negligent may for that matter only be showing that he himself is not saved! God is quite explicit that He knows who are His own (II Tim. 2:19), and the full number will be made up (Revelation 6:10ff.).
Man is a vehicle, not the determinant of destiny. The Gospel in GOD's hands is the determinant, but it is in GOD's own hands. Who will believe without a preacher indeed! so go. But who does not go is not gifted with re-determining divine election, or the power of God to implement His love (cf. I Peter 3:18-20 and references given*2). The Lord has not handed His sovereignty to man in order to have a failure to reach what might have been reached. His counsel according to election will certainly stand, and none can prevent it, and He has decided, declared and defined the matter.
So far from failing, He instituted what He constituted, and resolved what would be implemented BEFORE ALL TIME (Ephesians 1:4). So far from time catching up with Him, confusion betraying desire, or man obstructing the determinate matter, it is finished before any of us so much as began. That is the word of God, and anything else contrary to this, it is mere intrusion of man's thought, an irrelevance of infinite proportions, alas.
His will in love will certainly be implemented in His power, for none can resist it; but it will not be implemented to abort itself, for power does not breach, but fulfil the love of God.
Thus it is in vain to seek to make redemption universal, as if to channel the love of God where its fruit does not come, and in Romans 8:32 you accordingly find that everyone for whom Christ is delivered up is going to heaven! Many have Him offered on their behalf, but if it reaches the point of actually becoming that sacrifice, for you, then as in all the Old testament so in the New, it is then and only then that relevant sacrifice applies to you. Fraud and fake do nothing. It is as a man believes in his HEART (Romans 10:9 is most explicit here, and so delightful in simplicity!).
Otherwise, you die in your sins (John 8:24). It is in vain to seek to make a witless love ransom what is to be lost. It is MANY that He ransoms (Matthew 20:28), and not all. As Isaiah 53 shows, it is the case that those whose stripes He bears, are HEALED! It is THESE whose the sin is laid on Him (the 'we', the 'use' are identical of course). That is what it states.
It is equally vain to make the love limited, as well as the atonement. That is actually defamatory of the love, as is the other error, of the wisdom and the power of God.
The love and action of God in
salvation is personal, sovereign in its integrity.
There is no problem; both are true. It acts as it is.
It is not a possibility but a profoundly and passionately stated fact.
It is not a byproduct of man's works, but it is statedly in the absence of such a consideration (Romans 9:9-11), both in itself, and in its outcome and application. Works as a part of it are ABHORRENT to God, and nowhere do they show in the field of love (Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2, Galatians 3-5). They EXCLUSIVELY relate to the labours of those already won, never to those about to be won, or hoping to be won, or as a part of being won!
Love is like that.
You do not marry her because she can make an income, has a degree and is nice; but because you LOVE her! (cf. Deuteronomy 4:7-8, 7:6-8!).
The love of God is not so diffuse that He needs help to operate it; it is not so narrow that He needs theological help to truncate it. It is what it is, just as He, the I AM declares: I AM WHO I AM.
He is not to be interfered with by theologians or others. He does not change to meet theological fashion, or illicit passion. There are no deals, there is no transmutation of the love or of the Gospel.
Certainly those who try to expand the redemption or truncate the love, or so act, on the one side or on the other, virtual theological transformationists, are at fault; but it may not be intentional, since traditions and cultures seem in much to paralyse thought; and the ONLY hope for actuality is to go back to what is written as we have done this day.
Nevertheless if you stand on someone's foot in the tram, while it may be unintentional, the only correct path is to say SORRY and to TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF! It is necessary to cease this disastrous seeming truncation of the love of God and parallel amplification of the OPERATIVE will of man. NEITHER is biblical. Unsaved will is both defunct and excluded relative to saving 'decision' (Romans 9:16, John 1:12, I Cor. 2:14), by man. Nor is harassing the scope of the love of God the answer. Contradiction does interpret; but it is the heart of man, not the word of God that it construes!
It needs moreover to be realised, that deep in the heart, God may often commune before conversions, and it is with life He communes - not a paper bag. It is dead TO Him as Someone to be Chosen by the operative will of man: for such choice is expressly excluded. You simply have to face sin as biblically defined, and its functions and dysfunctions as there declared. The saving operation of the will of man as the ground, this is excluded, being dead in itself, but NOT SO to Him, who sees beyond death into life, and beyond time into eternity, and beyond pathology into actuality and whose wisdom is infinite, unsearchable.
The heart of man before conversion, his thoughts accusing and excusing themselves (Romans 2), would indeed if a lens, be distorting; but light can still move among the shadows. When however God Himself acts, it is decisive, but personal to the ultimate degree. The precise MODE Ė and one may readily be indicated, as shown for example in SMR Ch. 8 at the first, - indeed, whatever is the divine method or procedure, as it were technically: this is beside the point at this level.
HE does it, and only the will is citable in the face of His declared passion: whose will ? That of man. The love and the willingness of God in this matter is both actual and passionate. It is in one direction; that of man may be in the other, as divinely and ultimately assessed.
God penetrates (of course) the pathology of man, with actuality, as really as if sin had no hold. He removes obscurity and captures, but 'fishes' is His own term! He does this not as one who grabs a gnat or seizes a lion in a trap, while it roars. Instead, He does it as love always claims, in fulfilment of reality, not subversion of its integrity.
The PRINCIPLES are stated, are readily understood, and may be envisaged without difficulty.
How it actually is done in the form of God (Philippians 2), is God's own affair; but the PRINCIPLES being stated and given to man, to keep to these is OUR affair, just as it is the legitimate affair of Christian Biblical Apologetics to show how in the BIBLE ALONE are the principles of man and his ways, God and His, all these elements and aspects, harmonious to the last degree*3.
That is one of the criteria of truth, and remiss would any Christian Apologist be, who refused to show this. It is so, the thing is glorious and to the glory of God is it, that it be shown. He knows all, shows even the deep things (I Cor 2:9ff.), and they are unique in their magnificent harmony on all sides, leaving in the end, nothing unresolved.
In all philosophy and theology, this is unique, what is written in the Bible. This is not the least of the Bible's testimonials. It provides the truth, inveterate, incomparable, immovable, immutable, beautiful in completeness of concept, harmony of principle and operation in history.
It is time the tendency to grab a particular set of scriptures and run with the ball to the nearest extreme, inflating it with a pump as one runs: that all of this ceased. It is time we returned to the actual things written, all of them, and returned to the centre of the field, from where the extremes actually depicted in the word of God, as distinct from those invented contrary to it, by man, can be seen in their biblical perspective.
It is time; and it is no marvel if in much the centre of the field, with the actual things written, is to a large extent between those extremes to which rovers have run so impetuously, so impelled; for they all began from the centre, and did not seem to recognise that the field had a border! It is necessary, then, to come back to the centre, the word of God, the stated mind of God, and to follow it from the perspective of the certain truth of all that God says. It is then that 'the game' is a pure delight, and the rules are found magnificent, the very oval singing with joy.
It is time, as we exhort one another daily, to realise that some trends need correction, and that this is one of them. It is time to seek for a greater unity in the Church of Jesus Christ, by a solemn, determined effort, not to follow this or that Confession (though many of the Confessions are in their own way, masterpieces), but helped by any, to return, on the part of all, to what is actually written. It is as a HELP, says the Westminster Confession so beautifully, that such words as its own are to be received. It is, not in theory alone, but in practice, the word itself which rules. Churches which put Confessions as determinative, court theological disaster. Faith is satisfied in REALITY with the word of God, and bows before its truth.
It has an inimitable harmony, a resolving power always perfect, like an instrument, when not blunted by misuse, a glorious meeting of the case.
See for example:
Predestination and Freewill p. 82,
The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, pp. 57ff.,
with Questions and Answers Ch. 7 as indicated.
Predestination and Freewill p. 82, The Kingdom of Heaven 4, pp. 57ff.†
Predestination and Freewill pp. 28-42, 116-148, incl. pp. 121ff.,
To Know God Ch. †1.
God says almost endlessly in various situations, that it is the WILL of man which interferes with His love so that its fulfilment is not co-extensive with the human races.
See, for example: Walking in the Light and Keeping Your Eyes Open Chs. 4, 5, 8, SMR Appendix B.
See for example Predestination and Freewill Section III.
The following excerpt from SMR shows the matter of spirits in prison as in I Peter 3, in its biblical context. Several other references are hyperlinked here, and may be followed on this topic.
As to men and women astray, it is not in income or fame, perhaps, but in spirit. They lack what they do not receive, Him WHOM they do not receive, and all His gracious dynamics. How often one finds that someone of goods looks, keen intelligence or colourful personality in fact appears mean, or self-centred, or self-indulgent, or success oriented, not spirit oriented, as if a piece of bone or meat on legs, with a motive for something of or in the world, including pleasant interplay with other personalities; but his/her spirit as a creation of God, who is Spirit, might almost as well be in a literal prison.
Except for one fact, this is so: IT IS NOT! It is a warped, wearied, world-weary or world-hunger soiled spirit, covered with undergrowth and not willing to soar to the heights where the view is splendid, the air is pure and the radiance of the sun is unclouded with shade, and dull earthy things. It courts the imprisonment which it now affects. But it is not yet!
Many will say: I DO NOT NEED SALVATION. I have made my pile/friends/impact/success story/money or whatever, and what is this about need!Ask my friends, or my pleasure-meter or my bank manager, or watch how I have always been competent and organised and disciplined. Look for tramps, not for me!
This is the irony. This disease is often more delusive than secret cancer; but in some ways, it is similar. Like cancer, it may be hidden for years, it may be growing while the healthy body rejoices in itself, and then suddenly, the sub-surface facts are brought to light in X-ray, and in weeks the mangled body is gone.
It is PRECISELY this litany of self-importance (imagined in the red italics above, itself merely a type) which SHOWS, like any X-ray, the things beneath. This at once indicates 1) no God is served or 2) that any god served is circumstantial, a mere invention of the mind, and hence quite possibly one so created by the mind that 'success' is likewise guaranteed from its mouth; and the mental idol nods and approves likewise, with the psyche.
How can they be bothered, to do such things, in words, or in thought or in spirit! But they are!
But come when and how they may, if indeed they do come, leaving all that, to the Lord: when they come there is prayer; and to Him with whom these are now united, there is that same love which sent out Christ in this divine expedition, yes even into the pit of hell, preaching to the spirits in prison (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch.5, pp. 79ff., and The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4, pp. 52ff.): and this of course is precisely what the apostles' creed declares, in the fulness of that compassion which is so precisely stated in Colossians 1:19ff.!
Hence in that love which sought and finds, in that which came and was crucified, in that which in the beginning predestined in thrust and wonder, so that nothing is left to chance: it is in THIS LOVE, and it is with THIS PERSON that one is speaking, to Him one makes communication, shares and with Him pleads, when one is praying.
Gratitude for His Glorious Grace Appendix: and
Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will Ch. 6, *2,
will and meritless operation;
Ch. 2 (selections);
The Pride of Life, the Prince of Life and the Destiny of Man Ch. 3, *1,
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 11, esp. pp.172ff.;†
Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Ch. †9;
His Wounds ... Ch. 4 (also contrasted with Islamic deficiencies);
Sparkling Life ... Ch. † 7,
Earth Spasm ... Ch. † 6;
Scaling the Heights ... Ch. 5.