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We do not for this figure, 'brilliant fool', reconstruct the meaning of 'fool' on the ground it must be correlative with brilliance. Knowing what a fool is, we deduce the sense, tenor and tone. We see that it still is a fool, but not one in the sense we would normally construe it. It still is brilliant, but bereft of what we would normally associate with that concept. The two concepts adjust to each other and neither is quite what it would normally be. One can do this when the case is clear enough. And as we have shown with only a selection of evidence that could readily be extended were this a major topic here, the case is indubitably clear. (See Predestination and Freewill, pp. 101 ff.;Redemption Accomplished and Applied pp. 59 ff..)
The figure is nevertheless fascinating, and would seem to be one more example of divine wit, wrath, scorn as in Psalm 2 where great pretensions lead to dismal and comic consequences relative to their ambitious proponents - comic within tragedy. (Cf. Psalm 82:6-7; Ezekiel 28:9.)
Redemption itself is eternal (Hebrews 9:12; 6:19; 10:10; 10:14 and Romans 8; Isaiah 53; I John 3:1-9; John 10:1-28) and is basic and correlative with eternal life - the life of those who will never thirst again (John 4:14), a welling life (John 7:38) which relates to those who will never perish. Such is the lot of His sheep.
It is a good lot; but woe to deceivers, who being deceived go about with trumpetings they neither understand nor can verify, offering in swelling words what they lack. Just as Job scoldingly refers to his ignorant comforters as 'the men who know' so these are 'bought' though they are disowned, and empty though they are 'filled,' are 'wells' though they are waterless, 'liberators' though they are bound.
One crucial lesson from this excursion which is much to the point is this. The offer of the love of the Lord is real, heartfelt. It allows aliens to draw near enough, like Judas, to trample on it; the blood is available, aliens can spurn it instead of being covered, and toy with it, instead of being reconciled and 'receiving' the "reconciliation" (Romans 5:11). The tawdry anomalies, such as Judas, all the better focus the infinite solicitude and the real love of God for the lost - a love not frustrated but fulfilled in the beauty of holiness. (Refer: Predestination and Freewill, pp. 161 ff..)
We have been looking at the scope of the love: God is love, says John. He who is love is not spasmodic in its maintenance or prejudicial in its outlay; nor is He who is truth misled in His resolutions, or any respecter of persons. He has proffered a ransom for all in His love; He has not made an unlimited atonement in His wisdom.
If, now, I gave my cheque book a ransom for all in my household, this does not signify signed personal cheques. The attitude is displayed, the provision is made, true. Yet this must not be confused with the enaction of the attitude in the applied operation of the provision. Where a provision does not operate, there is not a processed gift; and those to whom it would relate are not redeemed persons. This is simply something to note: this array of Scriptural definiteness, particularity and restraint regarding the extent of the love, of the atonement, of the redemption, of the ransom offer. On the one hand, there is the amplitude of love and of provision; on the other there is the restriction in its application and in its activation.
In its mode, there is a similar assemblage in such a passage as II Chronicles 36 - the love is dispersed, is outstretched, is vast, the compassion keen; the provision is lavish. (In this historical case, it is one of sacrificially sent preachers, but it extends over time and in depth.) The application however is as sparse, one might almost say, as the provision is vast. Yet it is all of God, His will, His mind, His compassion, His testing, His resolution, and His knowledge indeed beyond all this: for He foreknew (Romans 8:28 ff.). With that foreknowledge is also predestination; foreknowing, He determined, and determining, He knew. All things are open to Him.
There is an attitude; there is action; there is provision; there is willingness - as indeed even with Babylon - "we would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed," Jeremiah 51:9. There is probing, and testing and lavishness as in II Chronicles 36:15 and Hosea 12:10. There is a crucial condition of heart1 attested, as reaching even toward Babylon, one appearing too with yearning in Jeremiah 31:20. It is the LORD who says:
Is Ephraim my dear son ? Is he a pleasant child ? For since I spoke against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore, my heart is troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him.There are attitudes, and various resolutions. It is God's sovereign business; we must not, however, unintentionally create a sovereignty of which God is not the sovereign (hence in my cited work, there is a section head, The Sovereign of Sovereignty). He knows what He will do, and He does it. True. He knows what are His attitudes, and He states them. He knows what it will take, and He provides it; and His provision attests the concrete reality of His attitude. We cannot annul it even if we would. We hear much of sovereign grace, but must always perceive it to be the SOVEREIGN GRACE OF A GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN.
It is clear the condemnation does not inexorably proceed for the many because of a limited actuating love in the Father, or a sacrifice incompetent to provide, were it needed. This is over and again, scripturally flatly contradicted, as we have shown and shall show. Such a proposition is no less at variance with scripture than is, for example, the errant view that man simply chooses God (versus Romans 9:22, where the decisive, divine will is conjoined with a what if - Romans 9:16, 22 - and John 15:16 with 10:26, where the will to disbelieve depends on their not being His sheep). The tradition that 'sovereignty' must be affirmed, whatever may be said for any other scripture or any other transcript of its mode of working, is in vast danger of being one more, as it were, tradition of the Pharisees, and the opposite, one more of the Sadducees.
Scripture must not be used (abused) to back up some philosophy, but to create the concepts of thought. Then and then only will harmonious developments occur, though not always without endeavour ... (Proverbs 25:2 - this is not to say the doctrine is to be created, but that it is, though present, to be found).
The atonement is limited, but not by actuating love; the selection is sovereignly made, but not without the love that God IS, not with chilling exclusivism at the attitudinal level. Rather is it limited with fiat finality at the operative level, the heart of the Father having fulfilled every love in accord with the many cited scriptures, whether to the 'covenant people' or not; both categories are citable and cited. The scope of the atonement is sufficient for all; the impact of the atonement is just as clearly on those for whom it is, in God's most loving purity, intended. God does not disregard the 'orphans' whom He does not select; His selection is not a 'sovereignty' over Him, which temporarily took over heaven in the predestinative action (or analytically did so, if you prefer non-time envisagement as a better conceptual field).
The sovereigntyISthat of a gracious person who is love. The predestination acts in its reality. Everything acts in this reality. God is what He is and not what some theologians appear to 'make' Him, however inadvertently.
It is clear a man must answer for his own sin, then (John 3:19). The condemnation, after all is in terms of a preference not for light. It is not because of sin, as John 15:22-24 shows, but rejection of Christ. To this we shall return. Now of what is John 1 speaking ? would not one gain rather the impression that it is of Christ, of Him who came as light, though He had never been fully absent (John l:9-10); who was incarnated, though Himself the eternal word; who 'declared' His Father (1:18), though none could 'see' Him! Is it not in fact a declaration that the true light became flesh, that receiving Him is receiving God, that here is the personal declaration of God in human form, reality ambulant? Is this not, as John 3:13 tells us, the One who came down from Heaven, the singular demonstration of the Father? is this not the One who, in terms of God's great love for the world, has come so that believers should not perish? is this not He who did not, emphatically not come for the purpose of condemnation (that will come soon enough) - 3:36, but that believers might be His indeed, to quote Him, "that the world through Him might be saved"!
Then, in John 3:19, the condemnation is in this context. If this does not establish a context, nothing could; the other attitudinal scriptures at which we have looked and will look and could look, put the point past doubt in any case. What then is the ground of condemnation in this Christ and in relation to Him; for this is the One to whom authority is given (5:27) and who brings to the knowledge of the Father, those whom He wills (Matthew 11:27). It is informed preference against this Christ. He has come; and to deny Him is to deny all (cf. John 8:42). In the very discourse that "he who does not believe (in Him) is condemned already" we read: "this is the condemnation". This ? Yes and more. It is in the context of a reason being given in both verses and given in terms of condemnation. In verse 18, the reason is that the person did not believe in Christ, and in verse 19, it is that light has come and darkness is preferred.
In other words, sin occurs with a breach of the law, any breach, however small. But the question is put in rather different terms: what brings condign condemnation at this level ? After all, the Saviour is talking. He came, as we are told, to save rather than to condemn. We are told it in this very place. What in His face, in the face of His love and presence and coming will bring, despite this vast expenditure and availability and expression, what WILL then bring condemnation ? It is like saying: The mechanic is here. What will make your car useless now! An explosion ?
Disbelief qualifies for condemnation. Why ? Verse 19 tells us: This Christ, this light who is in focus and on whom the whole book has been dwelling in terms of His person, mission and salvatory function, has come. He is the quintessence and fulness of light, and now condemnation, irrevocable condemnation, damnation depends on the failure to receive Him! He, the light, has come in express form and is expressly rejected. What more could be done or said, than has been done and said! Hence damnation ensues in the very presence of that One who is God, who is love (cf. Revelation 1:18-19).
It is, then, as we have noted, clear that a man must answer for his own sin (John 3:19), and that this answer, if negative, is despite (and not because of) the loving actuating attitude in God. As Spurgeon well propounds it, in his address on Romans 9 in The Treasury of the Bible, to affirm any such abortion or shortage or non-operation, indeed exclusion, as if of 'grace', as if God were - we might paraphrase - short-circuited in love or grace: this a 'hideous caricature' of the love of God. It would also be in collision with the scriptures to which we are, in so many instances, referring.
(It might here be noted, for any interested for any reason, that the relation of some of these matters to various past theologians is shown at some length, in Predestination and Freewill, op.cit., though the Bible is and must be in the end the sole source for exposition.)
There again is the scope - God and man; divine attitude and the entire universe are in view. To read into this statement limitations is, of course, in the deepest and simplest sense of the word, to add to Scripture. Nay it is to contradict it. It would be like, for example, saying that 'God works all things after the counsel of His own will... (add) that is, all classes of things!' It would be an appalling insertion, intrusion and presumption. Nor can it be done here in these celestial-terrestrial categories. If one could do that, why one could virtually write one's own theology, merely using God as a taking-off point. The Liberals for long did just that. Re-writing in the name of God, however, lacks a certain realism ... one might also say, humility!
Yet such things are not unknown.
Let us then return to Colossians 1:19-21. Such total coverage of the field could not be indicated more clearly. As in I Timothy 2, it comes into the two categories without limitation, qualification or moderation. There - God, here - man.
So far, then, from the context relieving us of its force of this assertion, it amplifies it; in eloquence it underlines it. There is systematic correlation between what pleases the Father, what He would like, and what He did.
Underlines ? In this also: that there is even the repetition of emphasis. Thus we have, "By Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven." Again, there is "all" first, and then in the compass of the terrestrial-celestial cover, "things on earth or... in heaven". It even stresses further the categories: "whether things on earth or things in heaven". There is no distancing; there is intimacy. There is rapprochement that spills over. There is the emphatic emphasised. The thought of limitation is swept away and scope is amplified. What is repeated is the sense of universality: not of salvation but of scope for salvation. There is the Father's willingness, here literally, His good pleasure.
Further, not only did it please the Father that ALL THINGS should be reconciled to Him, but it pleased Him in a context of His choosing to correlate this, as it were, to put it in connective tissue with the fact that it also pleasedHim to have "ALL FULNESS... dwell" in Christ. (See Appendix D - He inspired the scripture.)
Just as surely as Christ incorporates the reality of deity, all fulness dwells in Him, so comes the rejoinder: reconcile all things. The 'all' is tied into a totality so qualitatively illimitable, irrepressible and wonderful, that it would represent an abortion bordering on blasphemy to try to limit the one in the face of the other. Further it would, as we have already noted, introduce an additive element into scripture, one that is not written, not there. Proverbs 30:6 would not advise this!
In the face of all this, and in the context also, man is held responsible. His negative response to God's overtures is continually cited, indicted and reviewed in Scripture (cf. II Chronicles 36:15-16). It is in fact one characteristic of Scripture, found in both Testaments with marvellous appeal and attitudinal reality, sincerity and involvement. Without this, scripture would be a different book, and God a different God.
Man is truly and meaningfully responsible, not only for his sin, but for his refusal (John 3:19, Proverbs 1:20-27, John 15:21- 23); and this refusal is in the face of the divine attitude, as expressed so forcibly in Ezekiel 33:11, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, I John 2:2, in which last case the availability - attitudinally - of the atonement is as clearly universal as in the cases cited above; though its limitation likewise is elsewhere exceedingly clear, in terms of actual sin-bearing.
It is not a matter of man's will being corrupt and so therefore irrelevant; it is a matter of God being able to operate in sickness or in health, in death or in life. He is not limited (Isaiah 43:13, Psalm 115:3). Let the will be dead, yes let it (to follow the Lazarus analogy) 'stink' if you will; let the understanding be alienated yet it is no barrier to Him.
Biblical predestination is far more and quite other than any matter of being impressed with future works (Romans 9), as a ground or consideration or future faith (Ephesians 2:8-9): it is Biblically a matter of the Lord knowing who are His own (I Timothy 2:19). As to the whole operation of being saved by faith through grace (the neuter is used for the word "that" in Ephesians 2:8, making the coverage one of the whole system cited), what does it say ? This salvation-by-faith-through-grace: It is not of ourselves, God's word declares. It is the gift of God.
It is then not these futures on which it depends; it is a matter of knowing who are His. Since man is a willing being, in the image of God, and since he is accountable for doing despite to God's willing offers (Psalm 106:7, II Chronicles 36:15-16, Psalm 95:6-11, Jeremiah 51:9, Hosea 7:1, 1 Timothy 2:4, Acts 7:51-53), man's will is indicatable not in some solemn farce, presupposing no genuineness on the part of the Almighty, not in denying the actuality of this height of love, the love which God is (I John 4:14).
It is indicatable because even when Christ came and did the works (John 15:24) and spoke the words no other had spoken (John 15:22), despite His power and love and indeed, His personal incarnation, commitment and His presence, they still did not respond. They could not ? True. But He, saving them, could make them able, regenerating without the denial of the reality of freedom, without subverting man's image-bearing reality which He had Himself made, as He says; and had seen fit to dower to man... Though now, for many sins it had become inoperative at this level, being so sick and so corrupt, yet the will of man did not bewilder Him! He could work His works of salvation both with restraint and with reality, neither abusing love in this thing, into violence, nor abating force into tepidity.
God can make them able in Hisso first choosing (predestinating: logical order) to save some in His love and in so regenerating them (chronological order: it comes in the end) that He deals with men's freedom. He deals with it as defunct, but not departed; as structurally present, as it were, with the divine image yet imprinted. Though functionally disqualified, being abused, it is not beyond His operation; and in this He is alone, the sole operative, and for this reason. In Christ, God secures those who are His own just where, when and how it pleases Him.
He could well take account of what He knew ("whom He 'FOREKNEW', He predestinated," says Paul in Romans 8:29), yes knew, though neither they nor their wills were valid enough for men to understand, let alone to operate at such levels. Does not David in Psalm 139 make this overarching power of God entirely clear (cf. p. 426 supra)!
Will men, whether in the interest of a quasi-orthodoxy little better than mere traditionalism, or an open radicalism, then limit the Holy One and add to both scripture and structure as defined in scripture ? What does David say, attesting God's power (but does one need to stress this ?)...
Indeed the darkness shall not hide from Thee... darkness and light are both alike to Thee (Psalm 139:12).Small wonder such knowledge is étoo wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain to it,é Psalm 139:6. When God tells us these relevant doctrines on will and wonder, we must be ready to see how such things could be, without presuming to declare any composition of doctrines beyond what they are; and so marvel at the unique CONSISTENCY of God's word in this area of freedom, responsibility and predestination. Indeed then we can do so without presuming to narrow them to the scope of our own intellects, demanding in neo-scholastic fear what in fact contradicts the clear statements of scripture, or on the other hand, to expand them, with flamboyant Arminian contradiction. This joint approach is taken here. Thus we may also fulfil 1 Peter 3:15.
As to God's thoughts for the one whose very body was programmed 'in secret' David says of these divinely caring creative contemplations:
How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.David is a believer ? Assuredly, but God is not limited by our conceptions or consciousness and knows us thoroughly. If we gained what we deserve, we would all be in hell, for there is no imperfection in heaven, but rather the spirits of the just, made perfect (Hebrews 12:23). Yet God is able to foreknow whom He predestinates (Romans 8:29). In love, He is able to predestinate.
Again, If I make my bed in hell, Thou art there.
That is what He has done, without any conferment of merit either direct or indirect... by no means choosing those with an inherent X-factor of God-acceptability, the prefects of spirituality! a hideous factor which can so readily inferentially creep in, when the fact that God set His IMAGE in man is forgotten, and man is treated as if lacking that inheritance absolutely. (Cf. Romans 3:22-24, 4:25, 7:18-24 ... Indeed, observe that for body, Christ took that image of man, and in it, as God, proclaimed that truth in Person - as in Matthew 23:37 cf. Luke 19:42-45, John 15:22-24 - just as here in Colossians 1, it is proclaimed in principle.)
But now, rather, the responsibility is on man, and it is intensely meaningful and grounded in reality; and God made that reality. God is free - even from theologians - but exalts His word and magnifies His law (Isaiah 42:21, Psalm 138:2). Not only is God free, but He knows freedom, is the Father, author, base and meaning of it, and in liberality has the God of truth pleaded, not with His own will, but with that of men (Ephesians 1:11, Isaiah 30:18-19, 29:11-15, 30:16).
Merit then ? It is declared irrelevant by God except that absolute merit of Christ on whose merit indeed, salvation is granted, through which virtue operates. Salvation based on assessment of character might be meritoriously gained indeed; but God's word is clear, there is nothing of this. The will, then, which God so often cites as the agent of deceit and doom ? Negative preference on the part of man, divinely determined and not autonomously produced, is the precise paradigm of everlasting exclusion (cf. pp. 1129, 426 supra). What is inoperable at the relevant level is not therefore non-existent. Dead wills are not impenetrable by God, any more than guilty souls are unjustifiable through Christ's blood, when God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5).
The "Lord is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working" (Isaiah 28:29): "how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33). To know what are His ways, we must attend therefore to what He says; and when we do, it has a harmony and a beauty which is incomparable. How He does what He does is His inimitable prerogative to know; what He does and what He chooses to tell us suffices for the exhibition of this uniquely majestic, wholly unpredictable and glorious consistency.
Let us however return to our preceding thought, in God's justification of the ungodly, as reminiscent of His unpredictable dealing in lavish generosity, with those whom He foreknew, following His good pleasure and His willingness, as Colossians 1 and 1 Timothy 2, for example, indicate.
"They would have no sin."That is what is written here. That is what is written TWICE here. The matter is affirmed relative to the absence of His speech and the absence of His personal performance of deeds among them. No deeds and words from Him coming among them ? Then, says the Lord, they would have no sin. What no sin ? not in the relevant category! (Cf. John 9:3.)
Who indeed is without sin! All have sinned (Romans 3:23). What then is the relevant category here ? We are dealing with hating or loving Christ, with being of the world or of God (John 15:18 ff.); of being persecuted as His or persecuting those who are His, of knowing the One who sent Christ or of not doing so. We are in the field of being expressly for or against the One who is manifesting God absolutely, though through a human form. Now this is, of course, the area of salvation and damnation; this is the crux, the pivot, the destining exhibition, what shows who and where you are. So (Luke 19:41-42) Christ wept:
If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things which make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.We are here reminded of the weeping of Elisha as he set about appointing the man to be king of Syria and plague to Israel, in divine discipline (II Kings 8:12). "Now", said Christ, "they are hidden from your eyes. If you had known," said the weeping Son of God... Then, ah then! So great is the love of God, so sure is His knowledge.
Thus if Christ had not so spoken, as we read in John 15, and done, in their midst these things, they would not have sinned relative to salvation, and would not be demonstrated as being on damnation duties. Of course, predestinatively God knows and has elected all who are elected; but historically, these would thus far and in this, not have sinned against salvation, the question at point. (Cf. Ephesians 1:4-5, John 5:19-23.)
It is, then, as we have seen, guilt before Christ's words and saving works which is categorical and absolute, which damns; and the eternal God does not change (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17). This is the categorical character of damnation on the part of God whose Son both mirrors Him (John 14:9, Hebrews 1:3,8) and wept. It is so in essential character before time. It is so no less in terms of historical validation, eventuation, verification, demonstration. Christ is not a suggestion of God; He is God manifest. Men go to hell, not divinely 'bedevilled'; not discreetly denied; not in each and every relevant sense to the issue, unsought.
They would assuredly deservesuch treatment of their sins, but that is not the issue. It is the word of God about His approach to man, which is the present issue: not the undoubted due of sin, but the declared attitude of love. Thus force also has its ways; but God does not say that He is force (1*), though Almighty He certainly is. Love also has its ways, and the love of God is love's original. It is of this we read. Christ Himself is the gate-control to hell (Revelation 1:18-19) and thither more can reach except past His restraint : His character, His control, His love. No, to hell men do not go through mere absence of relevant love on the part of that God who Himself declares that He is love (1 John 4:8).
Not such is the criterion here stated. Rather it is in the face of all the love and power of God that they depart from Him who is divine, to their unprofitable destiny. And there are many who do! The way to life is narrow, and there are few who find it; we however are considering neither statistics nor guilt, at this point, as such: we look rather at the declared love of God and the stated principles which He elects to honour towards man.
Our text shows that it is this guilt before Christ which demarcates the damned; and it so demarcates them that the love of God is FULFILLED, not FRUSTRATED, and His power is triumphant. He has done what He will; and He has done it how He willed; and He always does.
in all philosophyhas anyone ever performed
what God so quietly, so personally or so simply declares in His word, the Bible...
the reconciliation of freedom, and responsibility,
divine sovereignty and human reality,
divine love and human tempo,
the correlation of material determinism and spiritual freedom
without divorce and degrading of either:
a determinism which is derivative and dependent and irruptible at will,
but which goes on its course on divine sufferance and will.
preserved; individuality is preserved;
accountability is meaningful;
responsibility is wholly real;
God is entirely omnipotent in practice as well as in 'theory' -
He gains just what He will just how He will,
being Himself and securing and procuring with a display which is not doubtful,
and with a declaration and a demonstration which is not obscure.
No mere circumstance is permitted to exclude from God, in the ultimate,
for love shuns mere shunning (I Corinthians 13, I Timothy 2:1-4, Colossians 1:19-22)
and God knows His own (Romans 8:29) in Christ,
from before all time (Ephesians 1:4) and beyond all human eventuation (Romans 9:15-16).
Having apprehended, comprehended and responded to the whole matter beforehand, not in oblivion of His qualities of love or power, but wholly equipped with and consistent with the scripture in the use of both, He then irrevocably and unfailingly uses, but never abuses, the historical reality in which and through which He declares Himself, thus making freedom more real. Not limited to our limitations nor required to 'perform' in our time zones, God abides by His stated principles: matters consistent, harmonious and rationally unimpugnable.
This is one more element therefore in verification of that word of God, the Bible, which attests its source: its sufficiency, its proficiency for all things, its entire uniqueness.
Bent by nothing, it blends the rational, the spiritual, the moral with an integrity that surpasses the mere inventiveness of man, but which meets all tests. It rings with the voice of eternity, just as does the remorselessly real and divinely beautiful character of Jesus Christ.
Thus this Appendix may be deemed a verificatory work: it has taken us some time, but it is there; and the alert reader may have noted it so listed on p. xxviii at the commencement.
THEY MOCKED THE MESSENGERS OF GOD, AND DESPISED HIS WORDS AND SCOFFED AT HIS PROPHETS until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, TILL THERE WAS NO REMEDYThe "no remedy" is not (*3) the result of a law greater than God, but is His decision (Ephesians 1:11, Isaiah 40:8,14,25). Here also ponder Matthew 23:37, Jeremiah 18:1-18, Colossians 1:18-2:9 and allied scriptures. 'Sovereignty' does not transcend, amend or deport the stated, the revealed and the declared will, way and nature of God. It is a name given rather to the security with which He secures what He claims, does what He says, and is what He declares.
There is no need to do violence to Scripture (even on the part of the unruly!), in order to evacuate 'texts' of 'dangerous' meanings: the word of God is not merely charming but of chaste integrity, and must not suffer violence. It is necessary to do justice to it, avoiding the needlessly and wrongly controversial extremes that depend on intrusion or exclusion: building up an understanding of all the components as they come (II Timothy 2:15) - and learning of Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29), the very expression of the infinite God, whose ways do not change.
It is His word. He says it.
*2 Luke 19:42 gives a kindred sense of divine decision to reject from salvation. Eternally known, this decision is temporally expressed. The expression of it is given with poignant lament that when they might have heeded, they yet did not heed. Such eventuations illustrate the love of God and His principles; but of course, no event in time is needed for Him who foreknew whom He predestined. He elects to put into historical form, what He will; and from this we gratefully learn. (Cf. p. 641 supra.)
Proverbs 1:22-24 similarly implores that they turn to Him:
"Turn and I will pour out my Spirit upon you... BECAUSE you refused... "
This latter is the divinely cited ground: that is, refusal of what was proffered, able to save them from the searing scorn of deliberative divine rejection. The will of man, though inoperative at this level through its pathological state, is not irrelevant to God; and it is cited by God in the free and impassioned offer of another destiny, now withheld. Equally, notice the sovereign unity of heart, and indeed of force, with which that destiny is executed, in terms of its declaration as apposite.
Such a sovereign as this is not the recipient of sovereignty (humanly conceived, or any other creation of His creatures), but the exponent of it.
As to its beauty and character, we need remember that it is the Christ of identical heart (God does not change) who in the form of God (Philippians 2, John 1:1-14) acted in holy divine concurrence and acceptance with His Father; was operative IN predestination before the world was (John 17, Ephesians 1:4, John 1:1, John 5:19-23, Colossians 2:9). What He showed here, He in character (though in the form of God, Philippians 2:6) and in reality, did there.
The face of Jesus Christ remains, though in the form of God, in predestination, perfectly definitive. It is not Father versus Son; but Son expressive of the Father. It is a glory of Christianity, that He has expressed His Father, and further, in so doing, shown us both the Cross of His passion and the power of His resurrection.
*3 There are no anomalies in salvation. In His celestial counsel, God has resolved that there be one Gospel, just as in His reality, there is scope for one Lord, one Jesus Christ and one faith. This Gospel is supernaturally applied withoutthe bounds of human limitations assertable as ultimate, so that those chosen in the divine counsel should be His, whose heart is towards the salvation of all, who knows who are His own, beingunboundedby the seemingly impossible bonds of time, history and circumstance. At His pleasure and time, they are infallibly redeemed; and redeemed, then glorified. (Cf. pp, 882-884 supra; Romans 8:38, 3:19-21, 4:25-5:11, Revelation 4:11, John 15:22-24, 10:25-30, I Corinthians 15:29, Matthew 11:23-27, I Peter 3:18-20, I Timothy 2:1-7, Ephesians 1:4; Westminster Confession Ch.X, Section 111.)
The Psychiatric Hat Trick
Psychiatrist: Come now, you must not repress things: express them ... even if it does mean that I have only two hundred cases to treat professionally in a life time!
Patient: Well, it's Jesus Christ. I am finding it hard to repress Him.
Psych: Just use a little doubt. He'll soon disappear. It has worked for millions.
Patient: The trouble is He's so expressive.
Psych: So are wives, I find, too often. Just say that you're religious and religion is relative.
Patient: Then He always replies: You could not know that to be absolutely sure, if everything is relative.
Psych: Tell me, what do you reply?
Patient: I always say: Everything is relative. My teachers taught me that when I was younger and more impressionable. Then He replies: How could you be absolutely sure; how could it be absolutely true that 'all is relative'? That statement is an exception, to itself, already! Then I admit it, and reply: It couldn't. It is indeed foggy thinking.
Psych: You interest me. What does He say to this?
Patient: He confronts me saying: Since you do hold something is absolute, namely yourself, in order to know what you claim about relativity, do you notice that this in itself, then, is the end of your theory about relativity?
Psych: And then?
Patient: I acknowledge then that this is so and He asks me:
Who has the better record, you or I? ... and whose records are better kept, yours or mine?So then I begin to doubt that I exist.
Psych: Why do you do that?
Patient: Well, because it is easier to do that than to face Him. The trouble is that I always conclude that I am around in order to wonder whether I exist and that He must be much more around; and then, He is not repressed.
Psych: And then?
Patient: Then He asks me to repent and then I won't because it is such a nuisance. He says I am divorced from reality, and that this is why I incline so to self contradictory statements such as the one I just told you about; and He observes that this is the way to hell.
Psych: Yes ... well, I think we'll leave it there for now, really.
1. Isaiah 63:17 shows a divine hardening of Israel (cf. Pharoah, Romans 9:15-17,22) despite the exquisite divine tenderness of Isaiah 63:11-14, for reasons developed in Isaiah 64-65:16 (cf. II Thessalonians 2:10-11).
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