As indicated in
Here is the Necessity of Biblical Truth in this Area
v Since it alone provides the ingredients
which explain all
things that are actual ingredients of our situation,
v without perversity, reductionism or callow authoritarianism,
v as is found in the irrationalities of determinism,
or of voluntarism,
v in their respective, unbalanced and inaccurate harpings on only one facet of our affairs.
A. An EXCERPT from
Tender Times for Timely Truths, Ch. 11
Including the scope of predestination - see also original above
STEP 2: CONSIDERING FURTHER
In fact, there is nothing else that covers ALL the facts about man in this arena of freedom, responsibility, liberty, limits, licence, life, pollution, capacities, but this which is found in the Bible. NOTHING else DOES OR EVEN COULD perform what is needed to explain and expound it all from ONE BASIS.
Let us review these things, then, a little, as we move towards our stated object, double predestination, to see that it is so far from being obnoxious, that its omission is devastating and absurd; and indeed, wholly unbiblical!
If you have liberty, then it is YOURS, and then YOUR comparative advantages advance you, so that your cultural superiority is for evermore made the crown of your glory, the advantaged having advanced not only to power, position or prestige on this earth it may be, but to heaven itself on the basis of nothing more than an idiom of birth. This makes freedom a delusion, and hence as reasoned in detail in Predestination and Freewill, and elsewhere, is false.
If on the other hand, God in fact did deploy a sovereignty that merely selected for His own advantage, or wish, or caprice, and there is nothing at all to do with the fact that human beings have an image of God status with wills, then man is to be selected as he is, not as he is not. What then ? it becomes some X-factor in man, some X-feature, or focus, which relates NOT to what is NOT there, but to what IS there; for man is said to be FOREKNOWN, and hence it would be the flattest of contradictions, to make the flat earth society look positively mountainous by comparison, to assert that it is NOT something known. Of man, in such a scenario, there is something known, and being known, he is selected.
If it be maintained that it is something, which - while assuredly THERE in the man chosen, or elected, or selected, or to be 'one of the elect' - is NOT at all meritorious, then the doctrine is sound in so saying, but the consistency is lost in having to say it. For if there be something desired and chosen, which is NOTHING to do with human will, which, that is, omits the fact that this basic feature of being in the image of God is THERE, then it relates to something ELSE, and that ? It is the evaluable reality of what the thing is, which is so chosen.
If then you are SUPERIOR in acceptability to God, by virtue of what you ARE, then superior indeed you are, for who better knows what is good, Himself being the criterion, than God! But if you yet say, But no! there is NO merit, it must be something which He does NOT appreciate, or desire, then this is mere contradiction in terms. Further what possible MERIT is found in the beings described in Ephesians 2 and 4! Such would be a contradiction of these things AS WELL! We are not dealing with social niceties here, but with TRUTH, what God says, and investigating what it means. We are not like some judges in the US, in one phase of their history, it seems, deciding what is meant by the law (in their case), and then adapting it to what it is deemed would be the will of culturally sensitive people NOW, with the same intention!
That becomes judicial amendment to law in the interests of interpreted culture. This is wholly removed from the Biblical position (not surprisingly, since God is God and man is His highly mobile... creation, attending to many things illicit, confused and confusing, awry from his Maker).
What is WRITTEN is the criterion here. It is the Bible which is being considered, not considerations about what it would mean if it were adapted to this or that.
"frustrates the signs of the babblers,
And drives diviners mad...
who confirms the word of His servant,
And performs the counsel of His messengers" - from Isaiah 44:25-26.
So, looking at both the cases above, the anti-predestinarians (of this KIND) maintain their cause; and the autonomous man pugilists, those averse to any such concept, maintain theirs, and there is no resolution. Nor should there be.
BOTH are astray from the word of God and are merely echoing, or paralleling in religion, the antinomy justly found in secular thought (and it is justly found because what omits the atmosphere when studying meteorology could not be sound, unless there were none! and GOD is the subject looming above all others, so how would His omission lead to anything but confusion, which is in fact, over millenia, there the case!).
HOW DETERMINATE IS DETERMINISM ?
In secular thought, determinism cannot live any more than in religious thought. First, in the latter case, starting with God: were HE determined, we should simply have to find the notation expert adequate to invent such a program, who in the ultimate, is the actual God, not some robotic device. Determinism in monism, on the other hand, normally found in materialism, is - if it were possible, even more ridiculous.
If it all were determined (as by determinism for all things that are), then it could not again BE determined by assessment of validity or right and wrong, for from what source would things other than what occurs find mandate, relevance or even existence! What it is, it is; and that is it. That which has happened cannot on such a basis, be assessed on right or wrong, for
· a) it could not be otherwise than it is, in this model: so that standards are irrelevant illusion, coming from somewhere which does not have the benefit of existence. What MIGHT have happened is wholly irrelevant, inoperable, unattainable, as this is the what-is model, and what DOES happen is ALL. To move outside the system is to have somewhere to go; but on this system, it is all there is.
· b) this would represent a capacity for divergence of what is in the potential direction of what ought to be (as for example, in terms of validity for such a theory as that of determinism), which would simply be irrelevant in a supposed scenario of ... mere transpiring of events.
Or how COULD what could not be otherwise, be invalid ? in the model concerned, it happens, exists and knows no contrary. It is immune from validity considerations in principle, but in practice it supplies thought for its validity, in seeking to establish itself; and hence it is self-contradictory, logically being forced to employ for its sustenance, what it abuses.
If however this sort of systematic event of a deterministic universe is NOT the summit and the substance of all that is, so that things are, indeed, assessable, categorisable as correct and incorrect, right and wrong and so on, subject to logical assessment as wrong, whether or not they happen to happen: then there must be at least a dualism, not a monism, for monism's assessment and grading! It cannot be matched to standards which cannot be there; for if what is, is all, then what is not, is not. From what is not there, you put right what is there, so that what is there is left as right. Obviously, this is thin air, vaporous, and nugatory, deploying non-existence in order to shape what exists, a threadbare theory.
In other words, illicitly, you come to a more realistic conception, by force of what is being done, in the midst of what is happening!
You then allow
a) a deterministic component in reality and
b) an assessive
capacity, capable of error and detecting it, drawing principles or positions,
from another source, which hence becomes a second rank in reality: second in
kind, not in importance. This however is not determined; and the case is
not determinism, but dualism or other.
· Thus logic is an illusion, or the theory of determinism is. It is however, by means of logic that this theory is put.
· If therefore, logic is an illusion, then the theory of determinism must lack validity in logic, its admitted basis; but if, on the other hand, logic is not an illusion, then theory is, for logic, in use, denies determinism as adequate*1.
Moreover, there must be error in the world of this system (called determinism). Thus if the system is right, the contrary to it, is and must be wrong. If, on the other hand, at the outset, the system is wrong, that is error in itself.
Put differently: if the system be true, it MUST be false, for it implies error by its very assertion of a contra-distinct view from the range available. If then error be objectively present, the theory is false, for objective error is a separate reality from a one tier system where what is, is all there is. If on the other hand, it should be asserted in defence of the system (of determinism) that the error is not objective, but a merely some kind of delusive subjectivity through which one does not attain to what is real, then the theory works on things that do not hold objectively, without being able to differentiate, and so fails as truth, masking and not representing reality. It aborts logic in order to operate, while depending on logic in order to be accepted: if however the abortion is correct, then the theory CANNOT be logically established, for it denies the universe of discourse essential to its establishment.
Wherever error is, and it is inevitable as shown: what happens is not the end of the matter, but a mere entry to what might be, and could become actual, if critical assessment so determines, determining what is determined by means subject to error, to thought, to invention in a multi-system reality, not monism.
If then the theory is taken to be objectively true, it results in its being objectively false. If however it be acknowledged to be objectively false at the outset, the same result arrives! The falsity is universal in type, inevitable. If moreover, it is a theory which operates on delusion, so be it. It is not delusion which we are seeking, but truth.
Error is an exhaust gas of the theory, if it be right; yet wrongness is proscribed by the theory, nor can it accommodate it. If then it be true, it must be false. If it be false, it is abandoned. That is all.
Further, without absolute truth in existence*2, you cannot find it, with which to make any statement concerning the nature of things; and indeed, mere existence of it does not suffice, as your own limits and relativistic involvement in the system, on this model of thought, make your responses mere reactions, resultants of the interchange of things, banal confinements for any communication, on the nature of what is the totality of which these events would then all be mere particulate activities.
RESPONDER capable of discriminating truth, even when it exists and is
presented, not an activist capable of reacting to happenings, is then needed.
Further, the responder needs to be an adequate one, equipped with heavy
capacities to discriminate standards of assessment as a base for thought,
outside the happenings themselves. Again, he/she ALSO needs to be TOLD, since
the tele-psychiatrising of God by finite means is a
contradiction in terms. Even with one another, people with their spirits, are
the despair of psychiatry, which advisedly has in practice more and more
abandoned its illusory imaginations, and is moving to less expensive ... drugs.
In short, you need man as well as God, and man who is possessed of capacities which overview happenings, not in a series of actions, but in a standpoint of understanding beyond any understanding. You need, in short, man's spirit. Since you have it, when God sees fit to communicate to it, on His own basis, that is fine. On the theory of determinism, however, you do not have it, and so cannot illicitly, on such a model, use what you do not have!
It is thus pleasurable to see, when examining such contrivances as determinism, that they may help focus on the whole necessities for truth, which they are found wholly to abandon. As we see in Ch. 3 of SMR and indeed Ch.1, these are found in one place only, the self-revealing God of creation, whose communication is there seen as required on the one hand by logic, and admired on the other by unique verification, to which none can begin to compare.
Equally, determinism makes a mockery of guilt, a folly of accusations of the same, as when those holding this viewpoint attack others as ... wrong by standards that are not identical with mere eventuation, or are even ... moral; and is constantly at war with all the actual activities and stirred responses of man to man. These things we have seen in detail in such places as Predestination and Freewill, and here merely note for conspectus.
If it be held, however, that this ludicrous, not to say extravagant extreme of determinism, is folly, that the case is the total opposite, that autonomous man has his most distinctive thought, and that he is not in the least susceptible to anyone or anything when he uses his god-like powers, THEN we run into a similar logical impasse.
Thus, if it is all a matter of what the equipment is that we so notably use, and the manner in which the wonderful will of godlike man is moving in its vast waters, then how can it ever get beyond the dimensions of what it IS, and be personal in its imagined total independence ? Independent in what ? In its glorious self, its psyche ? This given, it is free! Un-metered, it can measure … itself! It can ascribe meaning without having it ? It can know without knowing itself ? It can get past itself in order to determine itself ? To where ? Autonomy is in as much desperation as determinism for ground of thought, as empty, as epistemologically defunct!
What are the criteria, the parameters, the bases of the will relating to the preferences of the psyche, in all its fascinating givenness, to the dispositions of the heart, to the past, to the equipment for consciousness and so on, to the culture*3 ... it goes on.
in the causal nexus is there liberty in that ? You see this because .. and you
feel this because ... and your causes go on in almost infinite regress and
interaction. Thought of in this way, it is but delusive, and liberty regresses
like the waves after a tsunami.
Thus the desire for secular liberty reaches with dragging wings, to meaninglessness that yet ascribes meaning (SMR pp. 292ff.), extending even to the conclusions of dismal dismissal of the realities of error, of guilt, of human relations, which determinism for its part, even more directly affronts in blind contradiction. Meanwhile, in the land of 'liberty' through autonomy, we find the chain-conditions or controls of inevitable containerization (the containers are like chains, but in figure, they also are themselves chained, for not only are they enveloping, but encapsulating like a prison, in a prison compound of ramifying rooms); while the desire for secular determinism entails the contradiction of itself in the attribution of mistake or even folly to those who think otherwise, by their errors, duly assessable, and indeed reaches to antinomy in unknowability of truth with which to so much as state the case, and to the removal of the validity of the person's thought who so thinks even the theory!
is for this reason that law courts frequently seek to absolve from any real
blame, for both extremes lead to such confusion, and society pays for its
premises with ruin, now enraging, now astonishing the wayfarers who watch such
highly paid aberrations; or anon, lampoon them in cartoons.
STEP 4: THE HARMONY WHICH IS SO ARRESTING IN TRUTH
In Christ however all this is as nothing. The WILL is relevant. Hence there is no intrinsic denial of the reality of thought. This meets the necessities of liberty. God does not evacuate these from His creation in His will. It was His will to create liberties. It was in His own image that He created. What was the nature of that creation, then, if it were not one with a will, even to the point of acquiring guilt through wilful, superficially based, disobedience! That was WILL par excellence, right in Genesis 3!
Hence man, divorced from his NATURAL relationship to the SUPERNATURAL, to God, is in a profusion of confusion which tends to dampen all clarity (hence philosophy's history) and to remove the structural soundness of all deep thought. This is symptomatic of his divorce from truth, which is found ONLY in God, from whom it comes, absolute and alone able to be such.
The spirit of unredeemed man, designed for communion and co-operation with God as Father, divorced and separated, is stunned either into insignificance (denying itself in determinism, oblivious of logic), or into delusive aspirations with wings but no atmosphere, as in autonomy. Burrowing, buried and bewildered, now exultant, now distressed, it tries to turn into god or sod, making nothing of either... for it is more than the one and less than the other, and its actual status is not ... acceptable to renegades from reality. It is true realisation of reality hurts at first; but then, so does the beneficial drill of the dentist. Decay may be acceptable; but it has consequences.
The human will then ? This will, though present, therefore, is polluted. Further, it is without God, and in man, a naked emblem of an image, a function of a festering spirit. By Biblical statement (as in Romans 9:17, John 15), it is NOT sovereign in man. Hence man's use of it towards GOD, does not depend on his imperfections, moments of thought this way or that, inability to know God because of sin, and hence on his comparative ability derived from his equipment, environment, helpers and so on, at least to move in this direction.
How could there be liberty if all this is what you ARE, so that your exercise of it becomes a sort of historical episode! or whatever else you are, has no (operative) basis, so that you are blown like wind ?
Biblically, you DO NOT depend on that, so that you are free from that impasse. On the scriptural basis, freedom does not evaporate in comparative advance of your equipment, facilities, susceptibilities drawn from your upbringing, education, political climate and so on.
All these relate to what you MEET, and may influence what you ARE, but the two do not meet as lord and subject. You find and you are, and what you are is marred, and so often is what you find, but you have a deposit status from the creative hand of the living God. If immunised to reality in its wayward journeyings, the spirit of man is yet not immune to the operations of God. Dope is cover, not king.
Put differently: There is a structural residue amidst its functional decay. Your image of God personality may be derelict in sin, and it certainly is not competent to 'choose' God, in its exclusion by sin from His knowledge (I Corinthians - "the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them" !)'' ...
If however such were the case, and you did have enablements here to find God in your own self, then again, your comparative conferments would lead to your comparative approach, which would lead to your superiority of disposition, of origin and consequence being enshrined for ever, as if such things produced YOU and nothing of liberty or even of meaning were the basis. This! It is not freedom but manoeuvring. It is a situation, however, categorically denied in the word of God, which thus categorically preserves and protects the reality of liberty; but NOT the reality of SOVEREIGNTY in your exercise of it, for being dead in sins (Ephesians 2), you are not alive to the issues as they really are, as shown in I Cor. above.
Thus the external impacts and the internal expressions for a given man, in his being and experience, duly related, and each with endless seeming parameters and backgrounds, are neither of them determinative. The internal ones are not because you come from God and are able to be restrained or made aware of Him, who is not determinable; and their very deficiencies are not determinative BECAUSE it is NOT all in YOUR hands, nor do they control the outcome. This is the perfect harmony of Biblical predestination with Biblical liberty, and logical liberty, such as requires treatment in any non-reductionist approach, which faces all the facts.
Liberty is not lost, and liberty is not determinative. It is in God's hands. There is the awesome actuality, which cuts across the secular delusions, the religious confusions, and settles the matter in reality and in truth, according to His making, nor our marring or sparring.
But in God's hands, does it not lose its reality, some may pursue: if He chooses without respect to man being in God's image at all ? As shown above, this too is so, for such an imagined and imaginary model is the expression of the preference of the preference expert, of the goodness who is good, and knows what is good. What is it that is chosen ... the best for His desire! What is the best, the equipment which has become so, which in all its backgrounds, historical, political, social, psychological and so on, has been the fortunate end-point of the events. Even the fabric of the soul is moved in these ways, by many influences. At what point is this or that influence determinative which, were it lacking, would have a different RESULT! There is no liberty in that.
But when and ONLY WHEN the CROSS is the selection criterion, or its equivalent in the form of God as He proceeds with principles stated, but in glory unspeakable, is there peace. Then it is the case that a NEW BEING is available (II Corinthians 5:17ff., Colossians 3:10, John 3). It is NOT the you who "chooses" which is made eternal. It is the YOU who has "NOT CHOSEN ME", and of whom He states, "BUT I HAVE CHOSEN YOU!" - John 15). With its new equipment, it has a wholly new set of realities with which it lives: CHRIST IN YOU (Col. 1:27) is assuredly not the same, or of the same order or sphere at all, as YOU! The infinite makes an infinite difference, and His sinlessness is in the sharpest possible contrast to your sinfulness, when unconverted (cf. Ephesians 2).
It is NOT your QUALITY which is selected, then, as if to confirm that you are indeed marvellous, by comparison with the riff-raff which frankly, did not come into this Olympian Selection - if one might make an implicit comparison with the selection trials for the Olympics. This is precisely contradicted moreover in Romans 3:27ff..
It is YOU! But what is this YOU, which is FOREKNOWN (Romans 8:29ff.), and hence must exist to be chosen and known. This however is so only in the mind of God, for in the creation of Genesis 1, we find the history of the creation of "the heavens and the earth" as in Genesis 2:4 - there is no creation of some other kind which one may at leisure add; and this one has kind to kind continuance, not a pre-contingent of created souls wafting about. Thus we abide in Proverbs 30:6!
But what of your destining ? It is not now your character which is the determinative, for then it is all the same thing, as before: where did it come from and what influences and so on! And this would be indeed a subject for boasting such as Paul states to be definitively excluded in Romans 3! It is not your character, but your WILL in this, that this represents your capacity to RESIST, to REJECT, despite the most marvellous influences, the best fostering this earth provides!
This is often precisely the case with many, and in one sense, it was pre-eminently the case with Judas Iscariot, for was not CHRIST in amazing power and tenderness, total discernment and compassion, his pastor! One remembers in this context, Isaiah 26:10:
It is YOU who are chosen but NOT your will which chooses (as in Romans -16), and note this, "it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." It is no good 'interpreting' "not of him who wills" of course, in the best line of modern theological cavil, as meaning "it is of him who wills"! There are some limits, even for modern theologians, and flat contradiction like a flat tyre, does not go.
it IS the case that God "would have healed
God "does not willingly afflict the children of men" - Lamentations .
shown in SMR App. B there is no way of
removing the meaning of Matthew 23:37, and Calvin's failure to make inroads is
similarly addressed in Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2, End-note 1. CHRIST WOULD have healed the current
generation*4 of the Jews in
desire to 'protect' this or that may motivate such errors, but does not sustain
them. It is also necessary in view of Biblical principles, as also there shown,
concerning the guilt of the fathers and children, the one relative to the
other, to avoid anti-idiomatic efforts to make a generation division here.
It was the current people of
Hence it is the WILL of man which is relevant and the WILL of man which is NOT SOVEREIGN.
It is God who KNOWS what He is doing and with WHOM He is doing it, but who in so sovereignly selecting, and who is acting in the full sway of His love, and not despite its absence, relative to those both chosen and not chosen. GOD IS LOVE (I John 4:7ff.), and this being so, He is not unloving in some things. He CAN HATE, but this is not without a cause, and as shown in The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4, this love is His very being, and the results of its forfeiture do nothing to degrade it, but rather to upgrade our realisation of the intensity of that love, that He went so far to avoid for us what we deserve, that He took it Himself... selectively (as in Romans 8:32 - where those on account of whom the sins fell on Christ, are those who inherit all things).
He does not choose on the basis of merit or superiority; and man cannot choose being blinded by the circumstantial correlates of sin, culture and clouds of self-assertion, self-will, self-parameters and the like. IF SINFUL MAN COULD, then he would merely BE what he IS, and this having been in the first place based on many things, would be a resultant, not liberty. IF GOD WOULD dictatorially elect what was most pleasing in His sight, in its natural circumstances, this would likewise be not liberty for man, but the tyranny of the pleasure of another, and whatever man might be or want, this would be neither interpreted nor consulted. It would be the MIND of another without reference to the nature of man in His image, a being with some independence of spirit. Freedom in both cases is simply aborted FOR MAN, either by his fall or his utilitarian selection, or subjection to preference criteria on the basis of where he got.
In Cross selection however (as profiled in Colossians 1:19ff. with I Timothy 2:1ff., Romans 8:32ff., and John 15:21ff. and other sites noted),
all this is avoided.
Man, as repeatedly shown in scripture, as observable in Matthew , Ezekiel 33:11 in conjunction with I Timothy 2 and John , is overall the
That is the result. This however is the divine cause.
In His divine splendour, the Lord implements this, not some caprice or personal hedonism. Love is not like that; God is not like that; He did not act like that; He does not act like that. That destroys the basis of love. Love enables the basis of freedom. That is the simple fact. It does not simply crush or apportion IN MIND, what is to be disposed without love. In love, it predestines with foreknowledge of what is the one predestined, but without concern for meritorious achievement as the selection basis, but with concern for the admission of love where it may secure its place. Thus not the ignoring of man's essential liberty, but its preservation is found, founded in God and His knowledge and power. What is achieved is not a directive of unknown ground, but a protectorate founded in love and funded in the Cross, rejecting none but what itself as so known, rejects as before the sovereign and principled bar of God. What follows regeneration is not the same as what precedes, even in mind; the good tree bears good fruit rather than the good fruit bearing the good tree. God plants the trees (Isaiah 61:3, Matthew15:13, Titus 3:5ff.).
That is the result. This however is the divine cause.
Man MUST be able to OTHER than he is, to be free, or as we have seen at some length, he merely expressed his construction and environment, his history and his genes, his gender and his culture, his appetites and whatever else he has somehow obtained (cf. Predestination and Frewill Section 1).
This, if the ultimate, would be a mere puppetry in terms of liberty. Man MAY become other than he is, through the regeneration of God as in Titus 3:5, leading to his acceptance as a child of God. Man COULD NOT do this freely, if his circumstantially oriented being were the LIMIT, in the matter, this being merely the production of a product; and of course, if there were NOTHING ELSE available, or, even if there were, it were not available because it was invisible to the sin-dimmed mind, or despised because of his current nature, per force! When it is YOU who are diseased in a blindness of spirit, a pathological situation which removes the eyesight from your purvey, then choice is a matter of choosing what you will, but your will itself remains, in its sad sickness and disability, the problem! IT therefore cannot resolve for you the matter! This the Bible emphasises in Romans 9 as in I Cor. 2:14 and John 15:1ff..
then, CANNOT in fact do this at all, constitutively, constitutionally, as
he is; as in I Cor. 2:14.
Very naturally, however, when God and the nature of the case, in fact, move together, they combine with felicity. What man cannot do, would not, if it were done, be the functional work of someone in God's image, since he is in sin and thereby limited and distorted; and even if he could do it, in his sinful state, present since Adam, except in the incarnate Christ, then it would not be free. HOW can man escape himself, when himself is all he has ? Not at all. But then man would not exist at all, being devoid of creation itself, if he were all. Thus the 'problem' exists only when you either ignore the CREATION OF A BEING IN GOD'S IMAGE in its reality, and so seek, if you will, help for the sick heart of a panther, when your patient is in fact a man; or else distort or ignore what God has said, so that the problem is there at all.
When you consult what God has caused to be written, in His word, the Bible, and only then, is the answer clear. This explains all, enables all, ennobles all. GOD IN LOVE ACTS BEYOND MAN, and man thereby is neither the mere pivot of another's power, nor the captive of his own littleness and lostness of SPIRIT. Liberty is instituted, though sin withdrew it - not in kind, but in relevant operation at this level, so that it still has dim light as in the heavily polluted atmosphere, say of Gary, Indiana - but you do not see the realities in this.
Love is implemented, though hate may operate if in the end, it will. Goodness is
manifested in mercy, though it is not imposed. Light is everywhere, and this is
our current point: it is the light of the STRUCTURE of things about man, in the
SIGHT of his Creator who having made all, and provided initial freedom, both
knows how to implement the same, even with the rebel, and to do so with fidelity
to truth and in the very tenderness and beauty of what love is. For love ? It
does not selfishly seek its own; but it DOES seek to deliver what it loves.
Thus through divine grace, man is able to will as he will, and there is an
option, and God Himself puts Himself on the line as the one enabling this
liberty to operate in His presence, transcending nature while securing it in
truth, through the work of knowing purity past pollution, that is, facts past
the counter-blast of searing distortion.
Thus through divine grace, man is able to will as he will, and there is an option, and God Himself puts Himself on the line as the one enabling this liberty to operate in His presence, transcending nature while securing it in truth, through the work of knowing purity past pollution, that is, facts past the counter-blast of searing distortion.
Such is something of that vast magnitude, the love of God, which has a sort of spatial expression in magnitude alone, and loftiness, in space, and another one in time, where so much is enabled for so long, before the last chapter of the book of sin is written, that which followed the crux of love in the Cross, provides that final burning, for our God is a consuming fire, which is the lot of what will never relent in its self-imposed littleness, never leave itself for its Lord. It is bright. Its pain is inward: the conscience that cannot speak for it is foul, the pride which cannot speak for it is exposed, the remorse which cannot act, for the heart does not last forever, the spirit would fail before the Lord, as He says in Isaiah 57. Truth is not commuted, nor is reality overthrown, while time finds its bounds as He appoints, who in the first place, made our processive time, where you MUST WAIT!
But as to what separates, as to sin (Isaiah 59:1-2), love has borne the quintessence of that already; and has provided peace with pardon and power, in the merciful love of God, which is then the milieu of one's life. How any other could be valued! But it is...
The choice of God, then is not capricious; but costly. It is not inert, but intelligent, like all of His ways. It is not an imposition, but an exposition; it does not force, and it does not relent. It does however remit, but again, not in caprice, but in capacity, bought and wrought in the Cross. This choice then is that of God.
GOD CAN and DOES DO IT, so that man is NOT dependent on his parameters. God does it in LOVE, being LOVE (I John 4:7-8), in precisely the way Christ depicted and showed continually (cf. SMR Appendix B, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4 and Spiritual Refreshing for the Digital Millenium Chs. 9, 10, 11, 12). Hence the disposition of force, not freedom is not the case; and the decisions of farce, not liberty, are avoided. This is the ONLY POSSIBLE WAY liberty could thrive, and indeed be found for man. It must be beyond himself, but wrought in the love which knows what he cannot know, and does what it alone can do. (Cf. Predestination and Freewill pp. 121ff., in Section III.)
Love is the answer; the love of God, in the sovereignty of God; with the integrity of God, directed towards the actualities of man, not as an attainer, but to the heart, where God foreknows what man would be, even if he could know. Yet this is not to state some form of procedure in the divine nature, in the form of God; it must not be so misunderstood. It is simply the case that the PRINCIPLES which He states, are those which operate, in the way God sees fit to use them. What He affirms true, occurs. That is as sure as His word is! It is entirely sure. It is here only that the result, the solution obtains. That also is sure. The second verifies, as all does in the end, the first.
It is the COHESION of the principles as scripturally stated, and their harmony with ONE ANOTHER and with ALL facts of life for man, and with liberty for which man is answerable, and with the realities of responsibility, and the trials of conscience, and the servilities of sin, TOGETHER WITH their provisions in and FROM the living and PERSONAL GOD, who as a person loves persons: it is this which ALONE CAN ANSWER the facts. Here alone is harmony conceivable. And here it is found.
But where else ? In the book which resolves all problems; and in this case as in many, it does it in the only way it could be done.
But that, it is hardly surprising! After all, the 'problems' come from the interaction of man with God, of his environment with his Maker; and it will HAVE TO BE, as a verification of man's very creation by God, that the answers are found in the same God, who, creating, founded what now is to be understood FROM HIM. ONLY His knowledge could be accurate and adequate to have it; only His power could implement it, who knows the end from the beginning, alpha and omega.
His word is thus verified, not alone in answering the otherwise insoluble problem in predestination, determinism and so on, on the one side, and freewill, responsibility, on the other; but in answering it with that sovereign finesse which leaves all other efforts to 'resolve' the 'problems' of life, unspeakably little, wholly lost and without help.
What then do we find? Selective in attainment, He is not selective in amplitude of love, as in I John 2:2, for the provision of His anguish is ON BEHALF of all, though it is bearing in practical reality, only those of the ones redeemed by this bearing (as in John 8:21-24). If they did not believe Him, they would die in their sins (John ), the rights of the possession of the same being undisputed! Thus too, He does not say, as seen in John 19:26-27: "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice...", and again, "All that the Father gives to Me, will come to Me..." (John ), and "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you..." (John 15:16).
At that, the democratic soul may revolt! However, there is no need, whatever
may be the desire (for man is not always rational in these fields, but this
need not be so, either). The SELECTIVE results are to be found in meaning from
Luke 19:42 where He laments for the loss of
THAT is the criterion of love. The RESULT in the Cross, is the indication of how WISE the love was, that it went so far to gain what is lost. He was defaced from the form of a man, we read in Isaiah 52. Thus the garbage (and undoubtedly this is the intention of Mark 9 and its flames and worms, of Gehenna) is in that horribly intriguing but unwholesome position of being both everlastingly dealt with and destroyed*5. C.S. Lewis deals with this in his own inimitable style. The combination of these qualities, like smouldering garbage, is not hygienic in its appeal, but it is necessary in its devastation to realise that what happened to Christ, indeed depicts the lot of those for whom the love of God is not preferred, for whom the mists of darkness (as in Jude) are preferred.
As in many things, a preference is not always DIRECT - as in the case of a man given up to the love of money so much that - blind to it though he be - he is destroying his family by neglect; but it is preference none the less. THAT is assuredly not his wish, in many cases, but it IS the consequence of untamed and prior desire.
B. An EXCERPT from Earth
Conscience Chasm and Renewal of
FOR WITH GOD HIS
God's own ways are illimitable, for there is nothing to limit them - except of course Himself! That however is not a limit FOR Him but one FROM HIM! Thus God cannot lie (Titus 1, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 - 7), not because it is precluded by some force, agency or law, but because this is the way He is and wishes to be. If He could, then His would be a domain in which truth and purpose conflicted, and power and personality were awry, the one countering the other, His free actions and free words contrived into conflict, His person a turmoil, His life a struggle: but against what ? For there is nothing above Him, or beyond Him, for if there were, it would be He who, the ultimate, was just that very beyond.
As Psalm 145 tells us, His understanding is infinite and His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3, 147:5). This He attests by His word which is wonderful, which nothing ever aborts, for nothing is precisely the name of what could abort it. It does not exist because it COULD not exist. All is by HIS licence that does or can exist, and it does exist exactly because it is MADE to exist, for nothing has no inheritance or progeny, while what has been the base of all things, has been adequate for them for ever (cf. SMR Ch. 1).
It is contrary to what God is and would be, that He lie (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 2, SMR Ch. 1, pp. 580ff., Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 -7). Hence when His eternal word, enshrined in flesh from conception as an infant in order to manifest Himself definitively among men, comes into the world He is even CALLED the TRUTH, not a truth, a contribution. His is the mastery, for never man spoke as this man (John ). It is the same with the operational characteristics of the word of God, hat it says, He does. As he forecasts, so history happens. It runs on the track, just as matter does on its appointed construction format, mind in its analytical penetration phase and spirit in its non-autonomous but very free way, often quite unabashedly splashing the heavens with its ire, fouling the depths with its glowering or ignoring it all, perhaps repetitively, till trouble makes it think.
That is what you would expect, and it is of course verification, such as appears on all sides relative to God, His holy word to mankind, the Bible and His incarnated Son, Jesus Christ. Truth is like that: it coheres, it soars without trouble, it just is. When, as it were, it flaps its wings, it moves. When it stops, there is still.
then, you may ask, how is it that the Lord REPENTED of having made man, as we
read in Genesis
6 ? The KJV rather says this, that He was SORRY that He had made man. The Berkeley Version puts it:
What to man would be repentance, to God is grief. It is a sorrow of heart in terms of what is occurring, but it does ipso facto create the concept of deeming what one has done WRONG, merely burdensome to the last degree, a grief. To export human conceptions to God is unwarranted, unnecessary and sadly defective. Where the limited might repent, the unlimited is grieved, and moves toward aborting the mission, except for one thing, the famous "BUT" ... BUT NOAH FOUND GRACE. In other words, here is a pivot. There is a gracious favour relationship still left, and on that hinges the future of the race.
God of course knew of these things beforehand, but we see something of the movements of the divine mind, its grief, its erection of the regress to ruin for alienated and unrepentant flesh, together with its insertion of grace (*1A), its action in mitigation and its result, ALMOST all goes, but SOMETHING CHOSEN stays.
That is what we find in Genesis 6ff. , and this the world will come to find yet more drastically as the appointed journey proceeds, and its saints, this time, are evacuated not to an ark but to Christ (I Thess. 4:1ff.), whom the ark symbolised (I Peter 3:21ff.), the only Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11, Galatians 1, Ephesians 1:10, Acts 4:11-12).
It is the same with the coming of the Son of God as the Son of Man. In Psalm 22 (cf. Joyful Jottings 25) you see the predicted crucifixion quite clearly and in considerable detail, the tossing for the clothes, the bitter drink, the gaping bulls, the decrying and satire, the indifference and callousness, the suffering and the shame as Christ, the vicarious sin-bearer for all who come to Him, dies in apparent ignominy, which sin actually deserves, only to rise in indestructible power, which innocence actually gets, HE ALONE being innocent, for as to man, all else has sinned.
when He CAME to this place in HISTORY, He did not fail to cry out, My God, My
God Why have You forsake ME! since this was in the predictive Psalm, out
some 1000 years for inspection before God wrote it into history itself.
Why then did Christ so cry out, with His precise knowledge of scripture ? Did
He not know what was coming, who so often and so vigorously announced it
advance, even rebuking Peter sharply when he tried to dissuade Him from the
cross, before it came (Matthew 16:17,23).
And that ? it is the shortest lived 'papacy' that ever was, for "one is your Master, even Christ" (Matthew 23:8-10) as is plain for all to see, if they will (John ).
is the same that one is your ROCK, even Christ (I Corinthians 10:1ff., Psalm
62, Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 44:6), and there is no other rock. "Who is a rock,
except our God!"
(II Samuel 22:22).
The ungraced falls, the engraced (Ephesians 1:6, literally) is planted firmly upon Him. But why did Christ repeat these predicted words - "Why have You forsaken Me ?"
Christ so cried out because it was the expression of desolation which is the nature of the impact of unpardoned sin on the uncovered human breast (Isaiah 59:1ff.). This SEPARATES a man from his God; and when it is God who is so exposed AS MAN, then the cry of anguish is the stark, staring reality of our judgment being borne, even that of all who ever have come or will come to Him (Romans 5, Ephesians 1:4), for the Lord Himself has chosen us in advance, though He fain would have all, knowing the bounds HE SETS TO HIMSELF for His own glory, in accord with His will.
Love does not invade. It does not recklessly insist on its own way; and even God Himself, making all ways, does not assign to man what He deems inept. It is for this reason that in the Bible He so often is found impelling, despite all His majesty, His case, His cause, His truth, His mercy towards what times almost without number, is rejected or even reproved.
Knowledge does not remove reality, but affirms it; and in reality God is love, and so calls (Matthew cf. SMR Appendix B), and in the flesh as Christ, so cries (Matthew 27:46). Reality itself, its source in all creation, the very eternal Word of the living God (John 1:1, I John 1:1-4, 8:58, Matthew 11:27), He experiences no short-cuts or short circuits, but the full shame of man's fall as for man, He bears, and rising, He raises all who receive Him in faith as He is, in what He has done, the living God made flesh, justified in the spirit, resolute in heart, tender in appeal, dominant over all evil, Creator of freedom, dispenser of justice.
That again is why He is found advising us to SEEK THE LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND, for as in the flood, above noted, He acted to extinguish all but a few of the flames of man, the fiery spirits of man embedded in their harbour of flesh, so He acts now.
He will not always strive with man (Isaiah 57:16). He will not always contend, for the spirit of man would fail before Him, since man is limited. It is wise then to seek the Lord at an apt time, for it is not only floods, but rather a hardening which becomes a permanent barrier, so that the desire being gone, the doom is apparent: it is that which is to be feared, many so trifling with Him that even His blood is trodden under foot, as if to put Him to an open shame (Hebrews 10). Blessed he, blessed she, blessed the child indeed who is brought in faith and repentance through that yet open door; grievous the lost whose heart may smite them, yet they do not relent.
God, however, knowing all, knows His own, and it is therefore a wonder so snug in truth, and a marvel so celestial in ultimate magnitudes, that the saved may rest in Him; for He gives rest. He knows His own whom He has saved, and as Titus tells us, this is a process from kindness to man, so that we have been saved, and come to an inheritance, as Ephesians 1:11 categorically states.
There are no 'if's' in such a
case, for purchase is final when once made (Romans 5:1-12, John 10:9,27-28),
the merely nominal becoming the witnesses of their own pretensions.
FROM FLOOD TO CROSS, FROM CROSS TO CONVERSION
Thus from the flood and the Cross we find this: that God certainly feels, and can be grieved, and that He may indeed reverse an operation in grief, but that for all that, He does not abort His missions or contradict His actions, but fulfils them with the infinite understanding of which Psalm 147 speaks. Nor is He even without counsel, for His thoughts embrace the actual end from the first, like a gifted novelist, who is very well aware of how it will end, but for all that enjoys and rejoices in the various stages of his book as he writes it. Nothing dashed by this knowledge of the ultimates for his characters, rather he is feeling - perhaps with acute sensibility - the various issues and challenges, trials and deep cogitations of his creations with no mean intensity, as they live before him.
With man this may be so; how much more can God so envisaging all things, and knowing all ends, yet harbour His thoughts in the ways to them, and vividly and with reality, compass the temporal as it goes.
He has no time limit as do we (Romans 8:29ff.), for time itself is His stated creation, and in whatever mode things in His eternity (for it is He who "inhabits eternity" - Isaiah 57:15) transpire, in the very form of God (Philippians 2), it is certainly not the same as our own mode, which often requires us to wait for what we do not see, whereas God lives while what He does see, comes into due being at its own due time. Indeed, for His purpose, He has actually SET SEASONS AND TIMES for those on earth, yes for the very nations, if haply they might seek Him (Acts -27).
Let us hear this:
"Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God,
who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth,
does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands,
as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move
and have our being..."
Hence when the time for the flood comes, HE FEELS IT INTENSELY, one of our own novelists being quite able to do the same, and aghast in horror, feel the grief of heart that such a creature as he has just penned should be, and yet, with constraint, await the time of the end, before he shows its final configuration with due adjudication! There is then a sorrow of heart which is one involving rejection, of mind with a dissociative tendency, but this is held in the limits of purpose, and with God, these involve the resolution known from the first (Revelation 13:8), as in the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (cf. Acts 15:18, Isaiah 46:10). Thus 1000 years in His sight, in survey, are as a day (Psalm 90:4). The engineering, the engines of power, the outcomes of kind, the interstices of sensibility, all are known, seen, evaluated of old, seen before time raised its little head and said, Here I am, wait!
This is not, in the confines of the other scriptures, to be construed as He does not care or know what the day is, for this is precisely what He created; but rather that as the AUTHOR of all this, He can see beyond it and above it, like an aeroplane above the impeding earth, free to rove and to see. What the earth-bound must wait in their trains and push-bikes to find, he wafts over at once!*1
Similarly, then, He felt the grief that such a thing as SIN should IMPACT on His very innocent and righteous BEING, and in that grief cried evocatively, "WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME!" in that rhetorical question of all rhetorical questions, in which reality showed its face, and love its heart.
So does Christ, God as man, show categorically and simply, the reality of these things. In Him, and in Him alone, in word and in deed, in grief and in joy, there is the unbounded felicity and wonder of God, put freely and voluntarily (Psalm 40) into the confines of flesh, yet without sin and without losing that identity by which He is who He is, for as He said, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58).
may wait years for some glory in astronomy, some due time for some conspicuous
event, but God announced His own coming both in detail and date (SMR Ch. 9, Highway of Holiness Ch. 4). The Jewish nation knew it, but failed to observe
its significance (cf. Luke 19:42ff.). Now that He has come and as for His first
coming in earlier days, so now in our time, His second Coming draws near, the
Gentiles as a whole , are inclined to do the same. What
Indeed, we see here how beautifully there fits into the sphere of His operations, this principle declared through Paul, "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14). Here is the actuality of the knowledge and thoughts of God, shown to the world, as His love, crossing the barrier, makes the sublime visible and the majestic lowly. This interface, this investment of the eternal in time, it has no limit to the imagination, since the all-knowing consented to become a baby, and the all-wise to become a youth, the all-caring to become a carcass in body, while His spirit soared back to His eternal home.
This, it would be wonderful; but reality is as far above this as the heavens above the earth. This would adorn poetry; but what He did adorns history, invaded geography, spoke to physiology in a language it had not often heard, and never without living human instrument, namely that it resume its tasks in higher modes, and to anatomy, that it come back in better build, less limited by space, but still able to occupy it. Thus reality had bow to it, the creation, and majesty had come to it, the little dogs of the earth, like a huntsman calling. The victim became the victor, and the ineffable the impregnable, for death itself obeyed Him no less than the winds and the disease, the corpses which He had raised when still alive in the flesh on earth. (Cf. Resurrection, Index, and SMR Ch. 6.)
Just as ONE failure then would have ended His ministry, for that would show that He who failed was not God, so ONE TRIUMPH here showed His authenticity (Romans 1:4), by resurrection there being declaration, THIS is the very Son of God!
· Thus is the spasm of earth brought its antidote, though many insist on its cerebrated convulsions to the end, and will gain them for their pains; and so is the chasm of human conscience brought its balm, for now is the blight detached, to be re-attached to Him, alone able to dare it, bare it and make it despair through His triumph, for thus our sins and our iniquities He will remember no more (Hebrews 8), for He has so obtained an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12-28), in ONE only action, ONCE performed for ONE people, who are HIS!
· Thus renewed eternally, their inward man being renewed as the outer perishes, they come at last to the bastions of eternity, conducted by the work of Christ, that finished work of grief and delight (Hebrews 5, 12) wrought on earth, but above this earth, for His thoughts are not our thoughts.
To our present purpose, then, we see something of the thoughts of God in their very uniqueness, from what in His kindness, He has seen fit to expose. Indeed, being exposed on the cross, He saw fit to manifest the deepest truths from a pulpit extraordinary, an altar sublime, a tower indestructible, from which He still appeals to men, drawing them to Himself from this lowly eminence (John 12:32-33). It is there shown that it is in His DEGRADATION that He so draws man, that He in His exaltation should condescend to such ignominy in such a cause, for such a REMOVAL OF JUST GRIEF with such an annunciation of JUST JOY, thus showing the whole heart of repentance once and for all.
God's grief, as exposed in Genesis 6, and often thereafter, is made manifest to man at his strenuous sins, devious iniquities, blatant inequities, and spiritual squalor; yet it is this which becomes the valley of His triumph, for He has overcome it in His action, wrought by His counsel, accomplished by His living word, incarnate, resurrected, and to return in power. Man's repentance is the divine outreach that finds it mark, and this both without force and by a divine knowledge that recovers and does not ignore the nature of what He has made, its very nature in His own image, nor sidestep his plight.
REPENTANCE, REALITY AND RENEWAL
Here on the Cross of Christ, what do you see ? It is the aversion of God to man in his sinning continually, His horror at this thing, His impulsion to degrade and despatch this unseemly mess, as often justly assailed from His mouth for its pride in its supposed morality as for its debasement in its admitted follies. Thus many harlots go into the kingdom, being repentant, before many of those so exalted in their own esteem, and trusting in their own works, that their overweening self-glory, in all its feigned modesty, is more atrocious for heaven to bear, than the most debased failure (Matthew 21:31-32).
The same revulsion is seen in Isaiah 1, where God excoriates the rhino flesh of the super-sanctified bastions of self-assurance, hating their devious hearts in sacred clothes, while their actions expose their cunning contrivances, or indifferent plausibilities, mingled with pride.
The ultimate category in the divine grief at man is surely then this, that there IS REVULSION and there is GRIEF, but there is also ACTION and RESOLUTION, so that what is appalling past bearing, is able to be MADE APPEALING through action. Then, even when this action involves the coming into fleshly format of God Himself, via His eternal word, sent from heaven for the purpose (John 3:16, Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 2:8, I John 1, 4), His eternal life set in such a form as this (Philippians 2), He is able to distinguish the execrable from the redeemed, and to make the one the other as He will! Thus repentance becomes restoration, the divine grief becomes spiritual grandeur, and wiping out becomes the wiping of tears of contrition in those reached by His Spirit. In this way, love has its ambit, purpose finds its target, the Fisherman uses fishermen and men are found, yes women, children, households joining the household of faith.
Thus too man, though impervious to all appeal, assured in all macho horror of little life in its keen moments of the flush of blood, may repent, being enabled so to do, not by divine invasion, and despite human evasion; for the Lord whose works are all performed for man in predestination before our time so much as commences (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:28ff.), knowing our frame, and His intention, does not despise our wills (Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff.) any more than He relies on them (John 3:1-10, Romans 9:16).
Foreknowing all, and depending on none, without abuse of human responsibility or will (Romans 9:22), yet without their distemper as if this and not He were sovereign, He implements what is right in His sight, so that it becomes indeed just as He has said, that THIS is the condemnation, that LIGHT has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19). This is most explicit. It is NOT that men sinned; it is NOT that God did not so love the world, for the exact contrary is repeatedly stated, or that He did not extend love to mankind itself, for this too is stated, or that the love was somewhat truncated, for in Colossians the precise contrary is presented. For His part, HE WOULD HAVE all.
The condemnation that a man may ultimately gain is in the very face of the fact that IF CHRIST HAD NOT COME AND SPOKEN AND DONE WORKS SUCH AS NO OTHER EVER DID (John 15:21ff.), they "would not have sin", hell would spare its pangs, condemnation would NOT be their lot. As John tells us, the condemnation is this, that the divine is not preferred, yes even when present, yes even when appealing, exhorting and giving protestation. It is accordingly, the divine displayed, the redemption portrayed and paid for all to be His, and this scorned which is fatal; and that not because of His lack, but because of the preference read by God past all the petty thoughts of man, cited in the place of His defined desire as the ground, and in the field of redemption.
It is NOT, then, that God loved some and felt nothing for the rest, for He would have ALL men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, to be reconciled (I Timothy 2, Colossians 1); and it statedly pleased the Father, having installed Christ in the flesh, yes the very fulness of the Godhead, to have ALL to be reconciled. It is useless to wriggle one way or the other. The word is not with any such action as that. Neither is the divine mind limited to man and his sick moments of psychology, nor is man invaded by God as if all His appeals were showmanship and His stated principles a lie.
Rather does man find God and God find man, in that glorious operation of divine understanding, the plague of human blindness meeting the wonder of the divine healing touch, itself distributed not in prejudice to any, nor in dismissal of the nature of any: the LORD knows who are His, and fain would have all, but limits Himself to and by what love is. Love is like that. Love is of God, and only in Him is to be found its source, original and magnificence, man finding it as he finds Him. Even humans have some touch of it, and when knowing the Lord, see far more, like those lifted up to live in heavenly places (Ephesians 2)!
Repentance is not a synergistic work (John 15, Romans 9); nor is it a sovereign invasion (Colossians 1), but an issue of interpersonal dealings of unique status, glorious stature, delicate disposition from the divine. The sovereignty of God is not run by a sovereignty computer, but by the One who IS God and whose sovereignty is the expression in practice of what He is in Spirit. HE IS LOVE. The concept of mere failure to express Himself in this domain of love is starkly contrary to Colossians 1, I Timothy 2, Matthew 23:37 (cf. SMR Appendix B), Ezekiel 33:11, Lamentations 3:33, John 15:21ff. and indeed to all the multitude of appeals in Scripture, and of divine griefs, the symptom of a 'repentance' as in Genesis 6:6 translated with His majesty, as active repugnance with the profound plan to overcome the obstruction already present (cf. *1A below), and so having a resolution which does not undo all, but makes some! Justly would all be undone; mercifully some are 'found', just as Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord.
Similarly the concept of human sovereignty on which God inept and frustrated waits, is as bad, if not worse. For then the thoughts which are not our thoughts, but are above them as the heaven the earth, become subject to the earthy! NOT of man's will says Romans 9, you did not choose ME says John 15.
No, God in the grief of His loving heart, and the dominant power of His sovereign will, but magnificently lacking in mere domination of spirit (Ezekiel 33:11, Matthew 11:28-30 cf. Matthew 20:25-28), for love does not selfishly seek its own (I Corinthians 13:5), aligns His own people, testing and knowing all things; and the whole affair rests on HIS FOREKNOWLEDGE, even predestination being statedly logically subsequent (Romans 8:28ff.). This knowledge, it is not that He watches their movements and follows, for this is excluded (Romans 9:11); for God is not an observation post but a great King whose rule has the majesty of omniscience, the reality of truth, the discernment beyond man’s mind, hopes or wit, will or considerations, the accuracy of justice and the immutable beauty of the thrust of mercy.
Moreover, such an unbiblical and superficial concept as awaiting merit to display itself (versus Ephesians 2:1-12, Romans 3:23ff. in the rankest possible way) would in no way explain human responsibility, scripturally defined and palpably present, for then what they ARE determines what they do, and there is liberty in that, the only responsibility then being that of sin in the first place, which leaves no liberty, so that instead of all place for love, there would be NONE at all!
Not so is the biblical depiction.
In the wonder and grandeur of His majesty, indeed, the exact opposite to this is repeatedly affirmed and should be believed by those who accept the word of God; and it is this which evidences the glorious nature of the Sovereign. It is not left to such pathological proclivities of man to be the determinant, but to the very mind and power of God, implementing salvation not in a vacuum, as if He did NOT foreknow His own, but in those whom He does (statedly) know and foreknow (Romans 8:28ff.); and this not as if their merits reached Him, for they have none before Him, being children of wrath (Ephesians 2), dead in trespasses and sins.
Rather does HE rule the repentance, without aborting it; instil it without contriving it; so that it is truly human while divinely secured.
Indeed, in that mind of His, He is ably and amply aware of all things, not resting on this facet of man, or that, as if this action or that were the genesis of man's translation from outside to inside His kingdom. The wind blows where it lists, said Christ (John 3). Instituting the salvation from above, He has done so with due concern not to make meaningless the responsibility of man, but rather to express it in His own veritable and veracious decision, so that man is indeed responsible: if not sovereign as though he were the final court for his own soul, yet implicated in the discrete action of Him who is.
Man accordingly is more responsible than any mere psychology could have made him or self-limited autonomy could contrive, such a thing merely expressing what he is and cannot transcend; for he is responsible before the all-seeing eye, the all-knowing wisdom of God, who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11), and knows well how to implement ALL of His counsels at once. God Himself reaches what love would reach in its own way, neither aborted by human disease, the closing of the pathological eyes, nor yet merely dictatorial as if God turned off love for some from the outset.
Alas many seem to confuse the absolute power of God to resolve as He will with some penchant to abort His love; or His absolute foreknowledge of what is to be, duly then predestinated, with the WAY He reached His resolution! Such is a non sequitur and worse, contradicts both the scripture as in Colossians 1, and the way and words of Christ as a Person on earth! As shown in Predestination and Freewill, the love and appeals of Christ (as in Matthew , Luke 19:42ff.) are of biblical necessity precisely in CHARACTER in accord with the very mind and heart of God, whether in the predestinative action or elsewhere!
Rather, then, is the Lord able to make man what he is not, but should be, with restraint truly divine, providing grace as He applies His transforming truth where, past all man's contrivings, it finds rest for its quest. The working of the Lord in man is filled alike with the wisdom and the love that are His prerogatives*2 and principles. So does man repent, a supernatural action its source, a natural creation its site, the image of God in creation duly regarded as such, man saved despite demerit, by love not prejudice, in truth not tyranny.
In Predestination and Freewill, one has shown how readily these things COULD be done, simply to demonstrate the unique ability of biblical wisdom to answer this perennial problem area of man, and not to indicate the actual methodology. For all that, the device chosen does result from ardent effort to make all things accord with revelation as given. Yet how God does it is His affair, in the very form of God; THAT He does it is now both shown in glorious harmony with reason, yes and beyond anything it could have concocted (Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 11), relying on what ONLY GOD has done or could do.
So does reason clap its hands, so does majesty expose His hands, even to nails, to bring home to man his sin, and home to Himself His people.
Man can never be divine, but the divinity of God can make man truly human.
The creation is an alliance of freedom and godliness, design and openness; but the recreation is an alliance of redemption and godliness, renewal in reality, apart from the straining chatter of this earth in its feverish spasms, and the noisy protestations of conscience, robbed and drugged, bound and in many bewildered. It is necessary that God should so act, and what man needs to realise is this, that the absencing of human life from God is the ground of its ruin, the cause of grief and the occasion for a provision of God so profound, so costly and so clear, that it is this which in nothing can forgiven, when it is slighted, or replaced when it is despised. What mercy that eternity thus does not at all depend on some mood of a moment, for known to God from eternity are all His works, and salvation is one of them!
There is majesty and splendour, a divine love, a divine interposition, a divine principle and assurance, a human offer superintended by God, to translate man from the trash of sinful occlusion, cataracts against God, to the purity of heart that can peaceably be His companion. Then again, THAT ALSO is divine, for the cost is not some change of emotion, but payment of life; and the removal of curse is the experience of it by Christ, the breach of death the bearing of it. But most endearing is this, and most consistent with deity, that NEVER is love lost by sin against rules, only by sin against redemption.
An EXCERPT from
Sparkling Life …
The Biblical topic of predestination and freewill has often been considered on this site.
Its integrity and clarity
is pellucid and pure. There is nothing like it on earth, in this sphere. (See Predestination
and Freewill (PF), with allied chapters such as Tender Times for
Timely Truths Chs.
2, 11; Repent or Perish Chs. 1, 2, 5, The
Kingdom of Heaven
Today, our chief interests is just to quarry with some further intent into this principial point, that not only does the Bible alone provide the only harmony concerning the domains of materialism, spiritualism, responsibility, determinism and their ilk, but it has the only propositional basis for such a resolution. This is simply dependent on the fact that unless the realities are there, for the provision of harmony, the propositions are defenceless, like programs for scientific experiments on substances which neither do not can exist.
Freedom, which might profitably first be pursued in PF Ch. 1, is not possible without a capacity to change the person. In other words, to be free to be what you are, when what you are is not a result of any freedom, is merely capacity to continue. There must be capacity to be other than what you are. However, since what you are is a limit on understanding, a filter on capacity, a donation to orientation, a medley of preferences and positions, functionings and findings, all based in you, as you move in your environment, without the Creator, you cannot have liberty. You are already the site for preference: it is YOU, yourself, the non-free thing that is.
Free to do what it wants perhaps; but to what extent to want what it wants ? and free in any sense to want what it wants, to what extent free to orient its wantings ? The given is not free to be, merely to do what it is.
Lack of restriction, comparative, is not the same as liberty to be. Some feel this logical fact keenly when they wish to be other than what they are, wish they could voyage past their current psychological, spiritual or mental confines, but having them as confinements, see no way...
The first requirement for real responsibility therefore, is your Creator. Why ? Anyone or anything less than the One who has TOTAL understanding OBJECTIVELY of all that you are, is not in a position to interpret your wishes, but only his/her own. The rest is not fulfilment but manipulation, intentional or otherwise. Again, this is not enough. You need someone who has not merely a keen and accurate discernment of what you are, but who has understanding of the sort of thing that life really is, for otherwise there is merely an insertion of ignorant modification, not liberty for the individual concerned.
This too is defective. It does not work. Sickness is not liberty, when it is of the mind or spirit. You need someone who has the objective REMEDY to anything wrong with your spirit or mind. These requirements do not stop short of the Creator who having all knowledge ab initio, comprehensive and accurate, has remedy for your condition, and not mere indulgence for your follies. He has to know the difference. Letting a car with defective brakes 'chose' to go over a cliff is mere enabling of error, not interpretation of desire.
In addition, to these things must be added the capacity to INTERPRET for you! IF you do the interpreting of liberty, then YOU are the source, centre and limit of the interpretation, and it is precisely this you-ness, this self-limitation, this mere exhibition of what you are in what you choose, that prevents the 'choice' from being more than you interpretation by you, and hence of you. YOU are the limit; and YOU did not choose to be you. This outworking of what you are is a psychological, spiritual, moral, physiological and social expression. How could it be otherwise ?
When it COULD not be otherwise, where is responsibility, why is guilt, and to what end is morality which, with goodness as an aim, and pondering as a mode, is far more real than bank accounts or war, to those who become involved in both in order to express their values, whether these be self-centred, pugnacious or benevolent; to exhibit their preferences which being of and to themselves, are as free as the winds which being subjected to many things, blow so freely where they must.
It is not a matter of matter: determinism, materialism is daft. When the very theory that you are thus, depends on the integrity of your logical thought, your error prone will, your clear or subverted purpose, it is apparent that you are the author of determinism, not it of you. If YOU are invalid in your expressions of non-materialistic purpose and will, then so is it. The invisible precedes the visible; the indeterminate precedes the determinate, and the psychological weighing of issues is merely evidence with errors, and with guilt and remorse, of the fact that matter is mere means (cf. It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls Ch. 9, Repent or Perish Ch. 7, PF Ch. 1). In fact (Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6-7, SMR Ch. 3), unless there is an objective truth beyond you, there is no way that you could discern the truth or falsity of ANY theory.
It is not so crass as that. It is a question of escape from yourself in order to be free to be other than what you are. What you are is matter , mind and spirit; how can you see beyond your capacities, understand beyond your limits, have absolute truth as your program for inspection, and then open the eyes with the will, and choose to be what you want to be. You are self-ordained! What freedom is that...
If now you are able to be confronted by your Creator, who knows the objective truth and is it, and able to be enabled by Him to choose, then there would be an abstract POSSIBILITY of freedom. However, in practice, there has to be the enablement of your inputted self, cruising on the seas of society, culture and philosophy, inputs of various kinds, and following often enough what it does not hold, and again, often enough, changing what it does hold, and then seeing the error of the procedure and so on, to have remedy for its relativised conditionings, the worse in that often they are not realised, and without absolute truth, CANNOT be, for there is no criterion except the limitations of the self which, if it is very sure of itself, is merely the more blind through such an illusion.
You need then the remedy for pollution, mental and spiritual, moral, psychological. Hazy atmosphere does not enable accurate shooting; intoxicating atmosphere is worse.
However, if you are REMEDIED without being in a position to know whether or not the remedy is a good idea in your own opinion, this could become manipulation. HOW can you tell ? WHEN it is done, you are DIFFERENT! In what are you interpreted ?
WHO provides absolute truth, absolute and objective remedy, and absolutely sure confinement to absolute truth in making any change ? ONLY the one who IS absolute truth, PROVIDES absolute remedy and ENABLES the change with ABSOLUTE KNOWLEDGE. Who is such a being ? Only God.
Further, what denies the love of God to mankind is not capable here either. In that case, the SOVEREIGN desires of the ABSOLUTE TRUTH, of God, become the disposer but not the liberator of your life. ONLY when there is love, is there a meaning to the restraint which does not force you, cajole you, charm you, entice you, direct you, submerge you or with whatever other pressure, principle or order of power might arrive and act, endue you to be what you are going to be. If DESIGN on you is the point, then you are not really free, merely desired. If LOVE for you is involved, then the restraint of love (as distinct from lust) does not force you into any mould.
However, even with love there is restraint, without an aspect being quite clear. It is this. There has to be a love which is willing to act in bringing you into a remedied condition, without self-indulgence being the thrust of the operation. It is to be one which does not indulge itself, but liberates you into what is neither the mere expression of what in your diseased limits, you are, nor in your debased relativities you have acquired, nor the mere expression of what He, the Lord, wants of you for some organisational plan of His own, pivoting exclusively on His own apart purposes.
It has to be love which is love indeed, with integrity finding for you what does not (because He knows you better than you know yourself) violate you with any kind of force, and which yet (because you would have to be healed and godly in order even to understand the nature of the choice as I Cor. 2:13ff. so vigorously and logically affirms) transcends your own mere self-knowledge. It has therefore sovereignty in mode, but liberation in substance. There are results and these are made known in this way, and in that. They are however there.
Thus, we need for liberty, a divine being of omniscience, a divine love of the uttermost purity and a divine remedy of the fullest proportions, for liberty.
Love which does not co-opt, but is willing not to be received, alone is rightly named non-forced action, alone can relate interpretatively to its object. HOW OFTEN does God speak in precisely these terms (as in Matthew 23:37, John 1:11-12, 3:16-18, Ezekiel 18, Hosea 7:1, Jeremiah 9:1ff., Isaiah 5, Hosea 11)! With what eloquence! (Luke 19:41ff., Matthew 22:1-10), and with what depth (I Timothy 2:1ff., 4:1ff.), with what absolute affirmation towards the entire universe, spiritual and material, in the most categorical of terms (Colossians 1:19-23), and with what passion to the uttermost (I John 2:2) in the scope of the effectual offering provided for mankind, on his behalf. In this, NONE is omitted, the provision is sufficient for any.
Naturally, it is not redemptive for those who do not receive it (Romans 8:32), for those in whose place He has come to die, and redeem, for whom He is actually delivered up, not merely offered, these are they who are to possess "all things" which is not a constituent function in hell! Cheques not cashed alter no one's balance! This remedy*1A not only gives meaning to liberty, but meets the defilement of the divinely created equipment which sin, lie, denial of divinity, torturous assault on truth and violence so often achieves, the interference with man’s felicitous functioning, the misrepresentation of God Himself, caricatured by the liars and frauds who with injustice disadorn the earth, vilify God, caricature His mercy, hold special disdain for His goodness, despise the account of His life, and in one way or another, and perhaps in thousands of little ways, mock justice, forsake truth, lie, commit fraud and follow folly as if the negation of the divine design in and for man were the very spice of life.
They ignore the remedy, and act as if God would countenance the defilement of His equipment, as if He had not spoken, and assuredly did not care, as if He were emotionally defective like a mongol, bound like a schizophrenic and instead of making all things in accord with Himself, left a freedom for unremedied recklessness. Such self-denial by the One whose being lacks nothing and whose will cannot be countered, presumes however a self-unsatisfactory, not possible since for all time God has all knowledge and power, the source which nothing limits or can and explanation of all temporary being. The case therefore required is one of remedy and revelation, since only God knows God and what pardon, what procurement, what remedy He requires. We have seen what is needed. Now consider what is to be found.
ONLY in Christianity is there this combination of love, non-force, absolute truth, transcending of your own limits, provision of remedy. There is in fact NO OTHER SAVIOUR on offer, who is God. Therefore no other can know you as you are and beyond yourself, indeed in truth, and love you without dissembling or mere utilitarian manipulation, restore you by Himself to your status as created for, by and through God, and as Colossians puts it, re-establish you so that you have taken a justly renewed and soundly re-established nature, "renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him" (3:10).
YOU always have to be
relevant, or else are the mere puppet of circumstances or sovereign majesty WITHOUT
any such commitment of love to the race, and to its members, at all.
It is not liberty to be what you do not know, or cannot have true relation to, like a gamble or exotic flair into the romance of the unknown, which is not liberty but lust; it is not liberty to be a cog in someone else's machine, so that you are merely moved, not flowering into the exact nature of what you have been made to be, glorious because it has this image-of-God quality, by which you can truly know, love and understand, and do so in TRUTH. It is liberty to be what you are, ex-disease of mind and spirit, in truth by the propriety of your own Creator. Nothing else offers this, for there is no other Creator, and no other Saviour even offered, who is God, and hence knows what you are, and can interpret what you should be objectively in truth, with all wisdom and understanding.
Two points arise. Firstly, there is no other SAVIOUR who is God, your Creator, so that there is no other POWER provided for your liberation into truth, beyond yourself but not alien. Secondly, there is no other GOD who is Saviour, so that there is no other SOURCE for this power which has the qualificaitons for liberation.
Now there is one further aspect which needs attention before we can complete this short summary of points relative to the wonder of liberty in Christ, which is merely one of the aspects of Christianity which answers all philosophic problems in the area, covers all facts and in this, is alone. While all the above does provide what is needed in terms of principles, there is also a need for commendation of the God who is love, in terms of His nature.
What is the good of communism with its high-pitched cries of DEMOCRACY, the DEMOCRATIC republic of this and that, when that promised or implied liberty is precisely what the individual-damning indictment of its individually crafted philosophy crunches into virtual oblivion. Does the word do it for you ? or does it require the fact ?
So here. Does the word 'love' do it for you, or is it the fact ?
Here in total contrast with
Communism in its verbal lunge into 'democracy' and 'liberation', there is
demonstration. It is of course not found in Rome (cf. SMR pp. 1032ff.), so notorious for its clamour and claims for world dominion, in its Unam Sanctam
(q.v.), in its Inquisitions (SMR
loc. cit., News 101), and in its conduct in World War II (cf. SMR pp. 920, 952ff.). The very concept of such world rule is contrary to Christ at the outset (cf. John -37). Its methods only make the gulf between Romanism and Biblical Christianity an abyss. It is not relevant except in fulfilling biblical prophecy of false prophets (as in I Timothy 4).
It is not to be found, either in the sickly sects which scythe their way with dictatorial requirements invented by the leaders.
It is found very simply in this way: in what follows what Christ has commanded, right down to NOT using force to implement the religion. It is found in what does what He insists on, "teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you" - Matthew 28:20. In short, Biblical Christianity is found where it is practised. It is not supposed to be perfect (I John 3:7ff.), but it IS supposed to be sincere.
He fits in all this, but for the present purpose, the things needed are LOVE which is objective, and SELF-RESTRAINT which is pure, together with EXHIBITION in practice of the objective character of the love, and the actual power of God, as the designer whose design with love, is the criterion of being what one is, so that one may become at all what one may desire, rather than achieve an abortive aberration starting from being diverse from what one was constructed to be.
That love as noted succinctly in Romans 5, is profound, and as shown in Matthew 23:37 and Luke 19:41ff., in precise accord with the Old Testament likewise (cf. Ezekiel 33:11), is not self-fulfilling. Love does not seek its own, in the sense of its own pleasure or self-satisfaction. Its beauty and if you could use such a term, its genius is this, that it is outgoing with delight for impartation without compulsion, deliverance without payment, help without alloy, truth without pollution (cf. I Corinthians 13:5).
The contemptuous treatment accorded to Christ, this is the expression of man's disease, as it still is; for what man does instead IS diseased by comparison, with pride or self-will or devotion to moral superiority by one's own ignorant criteria, or by seizing of this or that, elevating oneself into the criterion as if king, when merely a creature.
Christ however SUFFERED the disease. Then He bore it. Then He provided for its removal, in His removal, since the dust-bin has to go for hygiene's sake; or otherwise put, His ransom involved His own sense of separation from His own eternal Father (Matthew 27:46), as precisely predicted (Psalm 22 and cf. Joyful Jottings 25) , and His death was a penal provision to cover our own, who in the liberty which the foreknowledge of God (Romans 8:29, logically prior to predestination) provides. It does not cover all (Romans ), for as we have seen in this text, those on whose account He is delivered up HAVE ALL THINGS, including heaven. But it is on offer to all. God is not 'having you on' when He makes such an offer. He is not REALLY excluding you by selectively ensuring you CANNOT come BECAUSE of your disease.
Such blasphemy is wholly
contrary to the fact that GOD IS LOVE (I John 4:8), this is His own essential
nature, not therefore subjectible to distortion or
illusion, subjection to ulterior motives or mixed, always pure in itself. It
also contradicts His express statements, as about
Now we have come to the predestination area once again. In His own absolute knowledge, who plans all, and before we so much as came into physical existence at all (Ephesians 1:4), He has FOREKNOWN His own people, and chosen them. Since (I Timothy 2), He is on record that HE WOULD HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, in the very context of GOD being seen on the one hand, and MANKIND on the other, with but one mediator, then it is perfectly clear that the predestination, logically following the foreknowing in the divinely disclosed intrinsic sequence (logical rather than chronological, because time does not contain God, but God time - as in Romans 8:29, 38-39), merely ensures the due occurrence of what is KNOWN.
What is known is NOT what we would choose (as in Romans -23), for His sovereignty is not a mere reactor to disease or wilfulness! Nor is the choice irrelevant to our own selves (Matthew cf. SMR Appendix B, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4). It is in terms of the actual DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE as in Ephesians 1:4, so that what we are seen to be in His love which does not force, beyond all our own contrivings or confusions, not in merit or desert but in what in His sight is due understanding of the soul yet to be, that His placement is made. That placement or predestination is not therefore an ogre to be feared, but a relief to be found. It is because of this that the soul can be liberated, beyond the negation which sin internally makes (as in I Cor. 2:14, Ephesians 4:17ff., Psalm 51:5, Romans 5:14,17,19 - the many were "constituted sinners"). There is no merit in what you do not do, do not make and cannot be! (as in Ephesians 2:8-10), and indeed the Christian himself, herself, is God's workmanship as there shown.
"YOU WOULD NOT" (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34 cf. SMR Appendix A), any more than the lament that they did not KNOW or realise the day of opportunity, even to tears and weeping, is not an invention in order to inscribe a lie, so that although HE STATES THAT HE WOULD*1, He would really mean that He has carefully ensured that despite the flimsy appearance of desire in His heart, as it then would be comparatively, the essential profundity of love is not really there at all, so that if you will, the switch is turned off, so that it is mere public relationship. GOD! in an exercise of PR! What blasphemy is that! One can only hope that many who make this error in flat contradiction of the word of God, do not realise what they are doing!
"I wanted to gather you ... but you were not willing" - Luke states the position. God is NOT a liar, and as we have seen (SMR Ch. 1, Barbs... Chs. 6-7, Repent or Perish Ch. 2), this is not even possible.
Very well, then, in ABSOLUTE FOREKNOWLEDGE, not of our wilful actions, but of HIS OWN SOVEREIGN understanding of what we are, He predestines; and in so doing, He implements OF COURSE, the ATTITUDE and PRINCIPLES shown when on earth, and stated by Paul at His inspiration (I Cor. 2:9-13). Thus IN predestining, He is employing the same LOVE for all that Christ protested and exhibited. This merely makes the thing more sure on the stated principles. It does not, because before time and process, in the least degree alter what is the reality and integrity of those things; rather it confirms them. God is all powerful, and always able to do to the uttermost what conforms to His chosen principles and procedures, here love with grace, and then judgment with justice.
Justice is thus met; love is met; liberty is engendered; remedy is provided and those who prefer, in God's OWN knowledge, above and apart from all spiritual or mental sickness, really prefer in HIS last analysis, in HIS knowledge, darkness can inherit it ... freely (John 3:19). It is a binding and blinding thing ? surely. Yet it is thrust upon none, though incalculably desired by many.
There is this sparkling loveliness about the whole thing. It does not matter at ALL how bad you are, in this, that if you come to Him for remedy, and receive in reality what He provides, then your sin cancelled, you become in permanence, what you before had merely in form, an offspring of God John 1:12, I John 3:9, I Thess. 5:9-10). Nothing can impede. Someone may say, But what if someone has committed the unforgivable sin ?
Can he then come ? NO ONE COULD EVER COME. You do not have the power. As Christ declared, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day." HE KNOWS and so draws. It is GOD's OWN KNOWLEDGE and not something else which is an avenue of His love. What He knows is truth! It is however not possible to WANT to come and so come to Him, without, on duly and truly receiving Him as He presents Himself, finding Him. What He finds, he keeps. It is like the child's game, finders keepers. (John 10:9,27-28, Romans 5:1-11, I Thess. 5:9-10). Bogus fusses do not qualify. Actual coming does. No one who so comes has or could have committed any unforgivable sin for the very simple reason that he/she COULD not come, and so inherit with all the guarantee of God, eternal life, if this were already for some reason precluded! Coming is showing.
Thus liberty is real, responsibility is real, and you do not have to be as you are. Morality is real, and you do not need to be in the squalid recesses of proud pharisaic or other sin. Life has meaning, and indeed, far more meaning than many might desire. That is the nature of it. All that profound physiological brilliance is not the product of someone who does not care. It is mere instrumentality, in some ways limiting, but not in other ways when God Himself operates. But CAN your equipment in the last analysis be your final limit, ONLY BECAUSE it is chosen as a base: is it then to be the boss, or imperial source of edict.
That of course is ludicrous logically: fancy CHOOSING so to regard your own physiology as your director, when you can by various decisions, morals and choices, alter it at WILL, based on research, knowledge and philosophy, chosen with due respect to valid or invalid premises. Imagine thinking you have the inward VALIDITY to choose a theory of truth, if, as you may presuppose, you are merely a product of drafting orders! If you cannot, why utter it ? If you do not, then you merely are finding that your presupposition precludes your misuse of your own premises, and hence lands you in simple self-contradiction, a kind of logical impotence. If you want REASON, then you have to abandon such concepts.
You have to find an absolute truth to which you have access, so that what YOU are does not become the determinant of what you get from that source, but what HE IS. You have to have one which VERIFIES itself, since otherwise, you merely abandon reason, part of your created structure, in order to solve a problem. This is irrational by definition, and insults the source of reason, which is found as shown in these pages, when related to the revelation of the Bible, to have no residual problems at all.
It simply needs to relate to its source, which in validated and uniquely valid revelation, gives it meaning, place and opportunity in integrity to verify what God Himself validates. There is nothing else like that; this is a simple empirical fact.
So too with predestination and freewill, if you want reality and validity for thought and will, liberty that makes meaning of the data, then there is none found anywhere else on earth. This alone covers all the requisite criteria. Reason simply declares it; it is God who IS it. He is so well attested by His own will and grace, love and mercy, that it is available for such discovery by reason, so that one may as commanded, GIVE A REASON to him who asks. It is God who has made it possible by HIS PROVISIONS, His word and actions.
There is NONE other on record with such an offer, and of all offers, however internally defective for giving meaning to liberty, NONE other validated. THIS has it all, validity, rationality, verification, consistency and comprehensive accounting for all things.
In terms of scientific method alone, there is no other option.
In terms of judgment, there
is the bill for the will. Arbitrary irrationality by its very nature cannot be
argued; and a rebellion without reason leaves no room for results other than a
judgment with it.
1) "The LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place."
This is expressed in the metaphorical terminology of man, though of course, it is literally true that the USE of men involved their being zealous and raised up early to seek His word and then zealously present it to the deafened nation.
Did the LORD, knowing all things, then, leave them deaf by some sort of selective non-intervention, and rise up early in the expression so graphically used, in order to secure the irrelevant, put on a PR job, give an impression, cultivate an image! Is truth to lie ! On the contrary, and wholly on the contrary, the words for the One who is in the Bible statedly omniscient, and statedly truth (John 14:6, Deuteronomy 32:1-4) mean that He deemed it fitting as an expression of His compassion to take action which was potentially REMEDIAL to the point of avoiding the destruction which OTHERWISE was assuredly coming.
The New Testament expression in John 3:16 is 'perishing' and the outcome for faith in Christ is not perishing. This is the perpetual issue, to be destroyed or not; to languish in ruins, whether temporal in a broken city, or eternal, in hell, or not to be so disposed; to be judged or delivered, by God in His truth and His mercy (cf. Psalm 89:14).
The divine design, desire, here expressed with vivid force, is to PREVENT this. To make it look as if this passionate zeal and haste, in some way is an expression of a NON-INTENTION to be of that assistance which alone would meet the case, is a clear distortion of scripture.
2) "But they mocked the messengers of God, deposed His words, and scoffed at His prophets, UNTIL the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy."
Here is the insertion of the cause of the rejection, in the face of the provision for mercy, passionate and protracted.
This states that despite the passionate earnestness of God to prevent the destruction, shown in a continuing and long protracted series of divine interventions with words, exhortations and warnings, wrought in compassion, if by any means that might seek Him and find Him, and so avert the destruction, there was a long and protracted series of events of a negative character. This involved MOCKERY of those sent with the message of divine willingness and desire to deliver. It meant DESPISING the words, as mocking the persons so sent. Those given prophetic office were SCOFFED at, as if in Amos, they were being told to stop spouting (literally there, dripping).
In view of this interposition of human negation, there arose a divine WRATH which went past remedy, for remedy was negated. It is precisely as in John 3:19 and 36. In other words, those of the Bible, "But they mocked ... UNTIL the wrath of the LORD arose ... TILL there was no remedy." This simply states that there was a cause of the wrath, that there was, as to this situation before the all-knowing God, who sees past all creation such as time (Romans 8:38-39), a ground for it to be found IN the rejection, and that this resulting in HIS rejection.
This is what is revealed. To talk of 'secret things' as if THESE were among them, when THIS is explicitly, graphically and categorically revealed, as indeed in express and generic principle in I Timothy 2 and Colossians 1: that is a distortion of the word of God.
The wonder, then, is this. Since
this IS what He says, therefore there is NO problem in the
It is a divine operation, the precise nature of which is not known (who can depict the 'form of God' - Philippians 2, as to its intimate working!), but its principles are known. We give a possible expression of it in SMR pp. 638-639 and related pages such as 635, but the ingredients are clear. The actuality of the operation of foreknowing in itself is not important here, but the presence of the principles stated in its action, and the effectuality of their function, this is the logical point at issue.
It is this which is crucial
to apologetics, making this phase in itself, predestination and freewill, apart
from all else, a demarcating definition of solution, of truth. It has and can
have no equal, for nothing else has the necessary ingredients!
D. A Short Excerpt from SMR
The fact is that outside the Bible and its position, there is no available answer to the tension between freedom and determinism. A man can will something because He wants to; but why does He want to ? Is it not because there are principles or susceptibilities in him; that he has tastes ? But why these principles or tastes ? and not those, or some others ? Well, you reply, because of this or that. But why this or that underlying principle operating in him, in its turn ? and so on, till you find the man's very nature is involved.
Now a man may object that he has analysed his own nature and is free; but we must ask, within what limits and with what equipment did he analyse his nature, his own nature ? You cannot escape the implications of inclinations, qualifications and limitations within him.
On the other hand, with no less force, in favour of some measure of real freedom, we observe that a man can dispose his intellect to see many things, and evaluate and see alternative principles. He can resolve for one or the other of them, whether these principles be similar or dissimilar to his own background or environment, or indeed, to his own period of history at all. He can even resolve against what he feels to be best. And especially can he know shame and guilt.
So what is it ? A seeming paradox of the free and the fixed ?
The philosopher Kant would have it that there is a moral imperative (*1) which tells you that you must do so and so. Yet, apart from any grounds he may feel he has for this view, beyond a merely psychological account of such irruption into his mind, at the superficial level - Kant would have God to be unknowable as He is. Kant holds that the intellect of man has a certain self-sealing property, by and because of which, it cannot find out ultimate facts as they are.
According to his theory, the intellect intervenes and re-orders the raw materials coming from the senses to the mind; and the cast of thought, through the intellect, re-shapes them. No concept, he holds, can come with its naked reality, since the mind automatically re-organises and covers all with its own conceptual structure. It is like dark glasses - all you see comes through the tint.
This however would mean that this very Kantian moral imperative, just because it involves concepts and thoughts - if he is to be consistent - could not be an ultimate thing anyway. So much for that ! You can never deal with ultimate structure and nature, as this theory attempts to do, without having access to the real, to what is actuality, to do it.
If you do have intellectual knowledge of the real, the ultimate, the actual - then it is useless to deny that such knowledge is possible. If however you do not have such knowledge, it is useless to draw up a theory comparing and contrasting the real, and the unreal; or laying claim to what you have already noted you do not, and cannot have; or for that matter, to draw up a scheme or plan specifying the systematic relationship between real and unreal; or even a statement saying that anything at all - including any theory at all - is the case, or is true.
The moment you do, you deny that which you have already affirmed.
By the way, this same Kant has a view about the nature of causes, by which he thinks the mind of man makes them up, concocts, forms or composes them within itself, and imposes causes as intruders on the raw material meeting man's mind from the outside world .
Once again he has insuperable - and really quite necessary - problems. You see, not only would he not be able to know this, because all his thinking (since it is thinking) is confined by his very own quaint Kantian chains, which would prevent its knowing the ultimate - while, on the contrary, this thought would be ultimately true, and hence for him unknowable; but of course - as already indicated - the whole idea attacks the very validity of any observations and facts and procedures, on which he might have hoped to draw, in making such a theory. Thus again, any such theory could not be true, at the outset, and on his own grounds; so that it can not concern us. (Cf. pp. 397 supra, 739 infra.)
Further, if the activity of the mind were the cause of the idea and reality of causes, then it would be true to say that the mind or intellect causes (this thing which we call) causes!! That of course is arguing in a circle. He tries to account for causes; to do so he assumes their existence. He assumes their prior existence, in order to prove how they originated. They are logically prior as causes, to the consequence, which in this case is: that you have causes. Having causes to operate before the mind "invented" them, and so that it could invent them, so that it could have the ability and power and system to have them as a consequence - this whole concept is wholly circular. Question begging, it is totally deficient in value.
Indeed, it is obvious after just a little thought, that you can never make or dream up a cause for causes themselves, for causes as such, without having to assume that they operate, in order to do it. You need, in other words, to use them in order to account for them; so that in some way, they already need to have a precise operative validity. But in that case, there is no question of its being true that they are not valid apart from your method of accounting for them; rather is it the case, that your method of accounting for them cannot be true, systematically, unless they are true independently of it. But if that is so, then your theory of claimed origin for them, must be false. They have to be pre-supposed before their imagined origins, even for one to be able to talk about their origins, to account for their cause, or to expose the systematic circumstances allegedly back of them!
Now the Christian, from the Bible, shows that cause has changed in form within our world of creation; but not in nature or reality. Perfectly valid, it is derived here from the Creator revealed in Scriptures, from God who has Himself external and intrinsic operative force.
Thus in seeking to make causes only seem true, you at once lose the ground by which you might have attacked them. This method is a "self-destruct" one.
These points are just a little development of the general principles, you recall, which we sketched in at the first of this treatise. Much of the argument about God is simply some sottish theory coming in for a day to deviate straight thinking, if it can; followed by its removal; and then more straight thinking; then some other attempt, its removal and so on. Kant had to forego claiming he was consistent; in other words he had to admit, though not nearly boldly enough, that his own theory did not hold together. Therefore it can hardly hold anything else together.
Unnecessary as this last point is, it is instructive. Unbound then, and ungalled by Kantian chains (*2), let us investigate further into freedom again. People sometimes try to say: We just are free. But what do they mean ? We have already shown the limit which continually interferes... the sources within you, which are with you and of you, which help to direct, limit and dispose you. If you have some ultimate person in your soul, which just knows no pre-dispositions, we have to ask: What is its origin, what is its function, equipment, why does it do what it does, and so on ? It either is something or nothing. If something, what is it ? and if anything, and it did not invent itself, how is it free ?
Quickly let us answer that there is some sort of freedom because of deviation (*3), shame and guilt, and the sense implicit in disposing one's answer (or not) to truth; or indeed deciding whether to be true and so on. But how ultimately and in the deepest and most determinative matters, can one be free except one is free to have a change of nature ! !
The Bible teaches that one can have a change of nature. It is precisely then one can be free, because even one's nature is transformed, which could otherwise define and delimit this "me", or this "mine" or this "personal". As Paul asks: What have you that you did not receive ? (I Corinthians 4:7). And if you plan to will to make yourself willing for something, by what shall you will, to plan to make yourself willing ? We have touched on this in principle before. It is God who can take account of what - before His sovereign and analysing inspection, and despite every analysis away from Him - was unwilling to receive a new nature in general, and Himself in particular. It is God who can know before all time and creation, deeds apart, all action of every kind apart: vitally penetrating, indeed foreknow (*4) who are His. This He does despite delusive deployments or damage beyond recognition: nothing can mislead, deceive or disorient Him, from whom truth takes its name. He foreknows; and He predestines. All this He does in monergistic splendour and tender reality. Of the entire Salvation, the Lord and not man is the author (Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 2:8).
In philosophy however, there is always this tension, never solution; for in its limbo, unlit by the light of God who has revealed the truth, it is so hard to be fair to both sides of the imperfectly understood question. Reductionists would reduce the thing to unfactual simplicity and determinism; while Romanticists try to erect a soul that is wholly its own boss (as if it divinely decided one day what it should be, as well as deciding what it wanted - granted it was already made this way or that).
Before we complete this discussion showing the Bible as uniquely placed to answer effectively the philosophic problem here, let us note it does more. It shows why people want these two options, neither being logical. They are made in God'simage, and if rejecting Him, readily become ridiculous in their disoriented pretensions. There is this origin, scope for destiny. On the other hand, the material universe is in a material-causal mode, and souls that cannot know God, rejecting the only way to do so in Jesus Christ the entry port (John 14:6, 10:9, 3:17-19) readily misconstrue themselves, defeated and almost ridiculous, flipping about in a domain which is neither their home nor their haven, but a wonderfully intricate stage for life. In effect, you could almost say that they then tend to allow the stage, in many cases, to upstage them: a wanton, ridiculously pathetic, yet poignant failure of their whole lives, enshrined in philosophy, in the case of some. There are many possibilities, but these are common, and their theoretical consequences often appear.
All this the Bible explains, as well as the problem itself; thus showing itself uniquely, superbly and sovereignly competent in dealing comprehensively with the area.
For all these things, then, the Bible shows that it is in God alone the soul can ultimately be free and indeed can have any meaning and place. It cannot be its own boss; for either it will be contained by its species of quality, discipline and disorder with disorientation... by its calibre before its Creator- (with a limit and a blindness which denies the very possibility of ultimate freedom); or it will submit to God. In neither case is it a god, which the romanticists make it, while fighting with the determinists (for ever and ever, but no amen).
In God alone is there freedom, for in God the soul then desires discerningly to be and to have the nature it now has; or not fully having, yet can see and move towards. It is then that its nature is no mute limit or solemn abortion of freedom. Only then is it no longer bound either through blindness, or through predisposition; or through non-perspective (*5) resulting from an aching void where the true and absolute standards to determine anything, should be.
Since moreover, God made the soul and as the Bible teaches, loves and cherishes and develops the converted soul, such a soul then has a form and a place which is admittedly assigned, but a place in God in whom it can work, and labour and desire and delight; a place where as a son, it may need chastening or receive enduement from God. From Him, too, it can take mission - or begrudge it while being awakened anew; and in Him it can live with exuberant and thrilling completeness, indeed with a dependence which is a friend of initiative.
It is all a matter of seeing freedom in place: and that place is the sphere of reference to God as God. When knowing the truth necessarily unknowable outside God, you want what He gives, then you are free. Outside Him, free of truth, you are bound to falsity. It is a short step to the concept of hell.
Biblical perspective and presentation solves the whole problem of freedom,
transcends determinism and interprets romanticism: and nothing else has
resolved it, or does resolve it. Far less does it fully explain why the
tension between these two was there in the first place.
E. Excerpts from Cascade ... Ch. 9
Romans 9 makes it crystal clear that divine foreknowledge has NOTHING to do with a man's future works, merits or attainments. There is NOTHING of merit in it. Alas, Calvinism can readily (and entirely unintentionally) come so close to ascribing merit, that it is sad. Thus WHY should someone be chosen by God ? because of NO differentiation ? That is caprice, not wisdom, which God personifies and essentialises, being its true and only ultimate source. Christ is made to us wisdom, and this is because as in Proverbs 8 (Barbs, Arrows and Balms 27), this is Himself.
Again, IF there is differentiation, is it because of something nearer, dearer or clearer at least to godliness, or not ? If not, then is it perverse ? Of course not. What then is the basis ? ungodliness ? Biblically it is love, unrestricted in outreach, glorious in power, grand in kindness. It is in nothing divorced in its ample procedures, from itself, by the God who IS love.
However, it is precisely this wholly unscriptural divorce from the citation of the will of man as relevant which leads to such fuzzy things.
In fact, it is the WILL of man which is cited. Now at once, it is to be noted that sin has made it operationally defunct (that is one of the best of all the features of Calvinism, to make this so very clear, as in I Cor. 2:14, Ephesians 4:17ff.). Indeed, the insistence on the 'choice' of man in his own unsaved state, is one of the glaring foci of Arminianism which makes the corresponding error of Calvinism, itself vastly nearer to Scripture as a system, the more readily understandable. They often fight it out, quite foolishly, in this, where both are wrong.
Operationally defunct, however, though it be, it is as we have seen, directly and repetitively cited by God in terms of the non-salvation of the loved sinner. It is therefore in principle perfectly certain that in SOME way, God does not proceed because of the will of man, in HIS OWN knowledge, which OMITS any thought of future attainments or performance (Romans 9). In principle, this is very easy to understand, though in the form of God, He may of course implement this revealed principle in any way, except in this, a feckless or dysfunctional way, for it is sure to be successfully wrought by Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). With God, the knowledge will be knowledge indeed, be it foreknowledge or any other kind; for in Christ is all the fulness of the Godhead, and in God are all the riches of knowledge and wisdom (Colossians 2:3, Ephesians 3:8, Colossians 2:8-9).
In PF, as in SMR Ch. 8, one has shown how it MIGHT have been wrought. It is necessary to do this in that context in order to DEMONSTRATE the coherence and competence of the Biblical picture of these things, in contrast to the necessary and intrinsic failure of all else to cover all the components, guilt, liberty, deterministic elements, sovereignty and the like. That this is so has been shown in some detail in Sparkling Life ... Ch. 7.
However, there is no necessity, of course, since the form of God is an infinite reality, that it be done in that way; nor is it the intention, nor has it ever been in these writings, to suggest any such thing. What is in fact necessary, in view of His REVELATION, is that there be
- His love to the depths of His Being for the lost.
- His provision for that love.
- His foreknowledge in such a way that this love for them is to His entire satisfaction implemented.
- His knowledge of the relevant feature of the human will, itself inoperative AT THIS LEVEL as shown, on this earth, which concerns Him, to ensure the integrity of His love is met, and its virtue.
Will is not merit. God's knowledge of it, is not a knowledge of merit. It is a knowledge of need. As to the will of man, it is only when it is corrupted that its exercise would involve a RELATIVE merit. In its uncorrupted state, it is merely proceeding without loss, to follow the way it is. In wickedness, it would enter into comparabilities, one will with the other; in the goodness of an unspotted creation, however, it is merely what it ought to be, no better than made, a blessed function not misaligned.
Moreover, if Adam had chosen otherwise, when sinless, that would be no merit in the slightest degree. This is manifest. What would then have been the case ? This: He had the need, he stayed with it, and went as one would hope he would do. One formulation, then would be this: that God knows what man, each man, would have willed, had be been free to will, and not polluted by the confusions and blindnesses of sin. As to God, He does not need time to know this, nor does He need to refer to it, and He in His divine majesty is in no respect limited.
Whether God proceeds in this way, in some such METHODOLOGY as this, it is not now for us to know; that He MIGHT do something of this kind is the point. In principle, there is no problem. It meets moreover all the scriptures. What is sure is that He is not oblivious of man as a willing being, in making His choice, nor is He in the slightest degree directed by man (to become, to the point, incompetent). It is a wise sovereignty, lovingly selecting, without abuse of the nature of what He has made. Man is citable and cited for any loss, and THIS IS the condemnation, that in the presence of HIS light, this divine outreach without limit, man has preferred darkness, in HIS own very presence, man has not received Him.
This is certainly what the scripture teaches, and Wesley's unlovely Arminianism with which he appears to have tried to protect it, and Calvin's unlovely mysterious predestination (in the sense, relating to the selection and love) with which he appears at such loss to scriptural fidelity to try to protect the sovereignty: these are two of the byways of the church. The men are not. They erred, each, and Wesley, it would seem, quite as grievously in his inadequate system as Calvin in his restrictive intrusions into what is written (cf. PF). Thus, in this precise point of the love of God, Wesley was right and Calvin wrong. In the theology of the whole matter, Calvin has magnificent points to make, and Wesley fails.
It is time to get away from these forbidden things, I of Calvin, I of Wesley (and for that matter, I of Luther) and to be thankful for what each of them contributes, for each has a wonderful provision to make, in this area or that, and none is perfect. The TEST is the scripture, and as in any provision, when it is made, one can see the error and delight in the true tones where they are. Greatness is no excuse for violating the scripture on this point; and as to that, it speaks and has spoken for itself. The ONLY wisdom is to follow it, in all doctrine.
The great delight is this, that God IS love, is not the author of sin, but of liberty, and even when liberty is de-licensed through the breaches of sin, making man defunct in adequate spiritual knowledge, distorted and distorting in his comprehension, God is ABLE to find the lost, and is on record in this, that it PLEASED HIM, having placed all fulness in Christ as man, the Messiah incarnate God, to RECONCILE ALL THINGS to Himself. If it pleases man to demean this scope with his inept and inadequate philosophies, whether miscalled theology or not, this does nothing to diminish the glory of God, but by contrast to highlight it. Blessed be God.
3) Statistical Predestination!
It is however when we come to statistical predestination that we come to a downthrust on the crown of thorns; for it is here that the very nature and character of God can be wrongly presented, almost, as Spurgeon once said, to the point of a hideous caricature.
People sometimes act as if the fact that GOD RULES, and SELECTS whom He will, is the same as some MYSTERY in which you never know. The ball might not land, as it were, in your number, and so you do not win the prize. Bad luck! You're out.
Such a representation is by no means excessive of some of the things which one hears as people apparently wish to make GOD responsible for what, Biblically, is to the point of guilt, exclusively their own WILL and responsibility.
Often we have examined this topic (e.g. Predestination and Freewill (PF), The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, and the present volume Chs. 2 and 7, as well as in Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 11). At present, our concern is not so directly with the love of God in its amplitude, to show it (as in Ch. 2) or the faith required to receive it (Ch. 7), but with a sort of depersonalised 'mystery' which seems to seduce some away from the simple realities of the faith, in this sphere.
There is a great mystery in godliness (I Timothy ), but it is NOT about the love of God, so that He SO loved that WHOLE world that WHOSOEVER (John , Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff., cf. SMR Appendix B) believes in Him should not perish. Yes, as Colossians and Timothy make pellucid, it is the WHOLE world, and indeed the spiritual beings elsewhere in high places as well. There is nothing else; there is no exemption, no exception, no lapse in the love of the God who is pleased to CALL Himself "love" (I John 4:7ff.).
It wonderful that He SHOULD BE like that, to be sure, and in a deep sense most mysterious that there should be such a latitude and wonder to His love. Again, the manner in which He chooses to exist, the very "form of God" (Philippians 2) is a great mystery. There is nothing in the slightest degree irrational about it (cf. SMR Ch. 7, pp. 532ff., 524ff.); but it is what it is, and it is something for a deep understanding of the whole glory of which, we await the time of heaven, when we shall see Him face to face, and know Him as we are known (I Corinthians 13:11-12, Revelation 22:3-4).
It is just that the extent of His love is NOT a mystery because He has STATED numerous times, and exhibited and exemplified numerous times, what that is.
· It is all a matter of a profound confusion that people like Calvin
· (whose 5 points, when read in a Biblical context, and not in the midst of his error about the amplitude of God's love to the lost, are quite valid and very valuable indeed! cf. Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2, end-note 1, PF Ch. 2 - on Calvin)
· extend the mystery to contradict what is quite categorically written!
Confusion can come from simple mixture of sovereignty, as if it meant arbitrariness, or the wholly unknown. What is WHOLLY KNOWN as in the above references, is this, that HOWEVER God predestines (in the form of God, and it is in His own sublime infinitude of wisdom and knowledge), it is done in the MIDST of a SOVEREIGN desire that all might come to a knowledge of the truth, together with a sovereign determination not to VIOLATE that will of man: it is this will, that of man, which He so often cites, in the midst of His insistences on His love, as the ground of exclusion. Thus in Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff., we are without any vagarious hope of dismissing (as does Calvin with an appalling misuse of Christology cf. PF loc. cit.) the love of Christ in some diversification from that of His Father, or in any other odd way (as exposed in SMR Appendix B). To dismiss His clear attestations in the end, is to deform.
You need virtually a new christ for that, one who made no such claims that he who has seen Me has seen the Father, and if you had known the Father, you would have known Me also! ( as He does in John 14). These things are there, stated and contrasted with the work of man in diverting himself FROM IT.
It is just the same in
Ezekiel 33:11. There is no point in saying of this magnificent depiction of the
breadth of the love of God for the wicked, Ah, but this is for the
covenanted people, it is to THEM that God is so speaking! This is wholly
beside the point. The tension between God and man at that stage, between God
indeed and ISRAEL, as expressed in the prophecies of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and
others, is as profound as it well might be. Already in Amos we are seeing
(quite some time before the tide of
There is in fact no
limitation or qualification in the Ezekiel 33 statement, and the whole book of
Jonah shows that the mercy of God is not limited, that His erring prophet is
without understanding of the breadth of God's mercy to PEOPLE AS PEOPLE! Did it
matter that it was
It seems that lesson still for many, has to be relearned theologically!
Very well, let us look at Ezekiel 33:10-11:
“Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of
: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?' Israel
“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of
?’ " Israel
AS I LIVE, asseveration, strong and most vigorous annunciation, as John Murray expounded it (and the rest of this paragraph is in line with his exposition). I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked ... Negation. But that the wicked should turn (affirmation) - this being the contrary expression to the former one. He should turn from way and live. Turn, turn - exhortation. For why should you die, O house of
AS GOD LIVES, it is so - this we read.
No more profound wish or determination, resolution of desire or declaration of intent is conceivable. Unlike any passing thought that mere men might have, this is to the depths of the divine being! It is NOT His wish to afflict the children of men (Lamentations ), and any such thought is abomination, irreconcilably contrary and con-trary in terms of God's word.
It IS His wish that they turn from their evil way, for HE SAYS SO, as in Colossians 1. Reconciliation through Christ is the offer there displayed to all worlds, spiritual or physical, and to this one to the uttermost, as in John 3:16 with Colossians; and precisely accordingly, knowledge of the truth is the direction of His desire as in I Timothy 2. For all men.
To be sure, Arminianism has thrown away the sovereignty in order in some things, to avoid the false point of Calvin, that the Father was diverse in His love from that of Christ, more restricted or restrictive or both. This is of course involves a total exposure of the depth of Calvin's error. Yet it makes error of its own in the process, being too exuberant in its negation, to allow for the rest of Scripture.
Incidentally, one does not regard Calvin's teaching as heretical, since the subject is deep, but certainly ON THIS POINT it is unscriptural and erroneous. To say less would be to fail in fidelity. At this point, Calvinism contradicts what is written, over and over, and this as further exemplified in multiple cases, expressed in multiple forms and language.
This however is no reason to follow either it or Calvin in his own error. Some, however, understandably most impressed with the latitude and scope of Calvin's understanding, seem determined to follow him when he falls, as if the breach with scripture is not there explicit.
What then must be said of this ? Perhaps, as one has noted, even profound and brilliant theologians err in some thing in order that people should fail to (virtually) idolise them, by FOLLOWING THEM, as some do, as when they call themselves Calvinists, for example, and this is not the ONLY NAME so misused. It is forbidden quite expressly, and whether or not the result is EFFECTUAL IDOLATRY (putting this person, as RC's tend to do with the pope, where the WORD OF GOD should be put), it is still wrong (cf. I Corinthians 3:1-6). It is CARNAL, as well as CONDEMNED and CONTRARY, to use Paul's language. It results in hideous errors, almost as if pollution, and not purity, were the objective.
The worst features of someone's theology, presented for the great gain of the church, can thus become chains and tend to defile the good points!
Seeing, then, that it is not statistical predestination, as if some mystery did some choice and some numbers came up, as with the sadly unfortunate person mentioned above, the Christian can rejoice. It is not mystery but mastery which predestinates, and the Master is Christ who in all things co-operates with the most intense intimacy with His Father (John -23), sharing one throne and glory (Revelation 5:9-13, 22:3 "the throne of God and of the Lamb"). No, it is not this, but SPIRITUAL PREDESTINATION in which YOU ONLY can be blamed for NOT being a Christian, when confronted with the Gospel.
That is why it is expressly stated that "THIS is the condemnation," NOT that you sinned, no, that is not what does it IN THE END, but that "light has come into the world and men have loved darkness rather than light" - John . This is a categorical statement in the context of the vast love of God to the world, and the ground of condemnation in view of that. Thus in John 15: 21-23, we hear that IF HE, CHRIST JESUS had not come, then THEY would not have "sinned" - that is, have been in that sin which being relevant to the topic, results in hell: permanent, effectual exclusion from the divine presence. It is a matter of LIGHT COMING, LIGHT COMING TO ALL, LIGHT BEING REJECTED BY SOME, CONDEMNATION so accruing to those. It is despite the light, despite the love, and occasions lament on the part of Christ as in Luke 19:42ff., Jeremiah being in strict and abundant parallel.
HOW can God have such an inveterate, classical, uncontained love and yet hate Esau ? (Romans 9). That is predestination. Before that, however, in logical sequence as in Romans 8, is foreknowing*2 His people. Because of predestination everything is fixed; but it is because of foreknowledge that it IS SO fixed. IN this foreknowledge, God has TOLD us the scope of His love multiple times. It is the same as Christ showed Himself personally, and in His lament for those concertedly, perversely and finally lost.
Christ ? HE WHO HAS SEEN ME has seen the Father (John 14). Thus GOD IS LIKE THAT. What a horrendous distortion to pretend that sovereignty in THIS respect is a mystery, concerning the lost! It is one of the least mysterious things ever known. The condemnation is in the very face of the declared love, and it is only in the face of HIS BEING THERE and rejected that condemnation occurs, and indeed, this IS the condemnation, that He so loved, so came and so was the light, and men preferred darkness.
WHY then would God allow
this to happen. Could He not construct puppets and MAKE them love
Him ? That is simply a contradiction in terms, like saying, Can't zero really be the same as one!
Puppets are by nature without personality and cannot love.
God has elected to love, and love is not the thing which forces its object, since it is not possessive ("seeks not its own" - I Cor. 13): that is the way it is, its very nature. Friends are not make at the point of a gun, nor healthy marriages either. Love has RESTRAINT, and it loves to be so. Nothing is frustrated, therefore, though lament indicates the reality of the self-restraining magnificence of this glorious love of God. The exuberance of divine love does not distort its purity, nor does His word lie when it asserts its total scope. It is moreover ONLY when such love as God repeatedly, categorically and in many applications attests, actually is there, that freedom has any meaning. It is only then that without manipulation, in purity, a Higher Person taking the lower, the Creator taking the creature, real liberty exists: for then the option to be quit of God is real, liberty and hence responsibility is operative, yet this is done not in the carnal sinfulness which so blinds that is not liberty but sin which controls! but in a love which is true, profound and effectual.
Neither tyrannical, nor inept, this love knows all, does all, implements all, and never varies from the truth. In this love, man basks as at the Gold Coast, without cancer; in this God, man may glory with utter unreserve, for HE, He is good! and it is from Him that such a life as ours can be good, and being good, bring glory to His name.
SEE ALSO Ch. 6, *2 below.
For more on the love of God: see Spiritual Refreshings Chs. 9-12.
For more on liberty, see
Licence for Liberty and PF; also
The Flashing Falls of Freedom
It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls… Ch. 9.