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The Favour of Freedom Courtesy of God Only
and the resolution of freedom, law and responsibility
on HIS grounds ONLY
After many analytical approaches, some may desire a short summary presentation, as below. See also
Department of Bible, this volume, Chapters 2 and 4, above.
The work, Predestination and Freewill, as an MA thesis for Melbourne University, and the rest of the Heptad on such topics, have shown some remarkable things which, like the stars and the atoms, the DNA and the thought of man, have a certain felicity in glorying God as the rational, intelligent and necessary source of all things, and this no less in the area of liberty and responsibility. Not only does this, under and over all fact of God as presented in the Bible, verifiably solve all matters of principle (as in the compound work
LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST,
WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES AND WHERE HE IS, DARKNESS DEPARTS
Bible or Blight, Christ or Confusion:
The Comprehensive Resolution of Man's Intractable Problems
is Found Only in the Bible, the Word of God);
but it also resolves matters of harmony and cohesion for thought. It is when you take God and His word, the Bible, seriously, that you find all the issues dogging philosophy, dissolve and disperse, as darkness before the light.
Thus it is shown, provided simply in overview here, that without God there is no fully functional liberty for man, but instead various degrees of volition within a containment of relativity. Also, it would mean that you could not even know THAT, since on the relativity scenario of naturalism, there IS no truth, only relative reactions and impacts, as in Barbs ... 6 -7, Repent or Perish Ch. 7.
When God is realised to be there, however, then the power to create liberty is seen to be operative as one of His unlimited operative abilities. Yet it is not just any god who is needed. Not only is it the Creator whose knowledge is perfect and whose will undeterrable, but there must be no question of making man a servant for an ulterior motive, where truth is not a criterion, but results of some kind, such as simply to satisfy a personal desire, rather than conform to a genuine desire for liberty and rationality. Any such god delivers no freedom.
The God of the Bible not only claims such approach in love and truth, but shows it in the method of salvation, in which He at cost, redeems from spoliation, out of mercy. Here only is there the listing in advance of such a desire, the provision of check-points concerning the way it is to be done, and the fulfilment in the laboratory of history, as it is done (cf. SMR Chs. 8 - 9, Joyful Jottings 22-25).
Thus there is no twisting, turning or turmoil of pretence (cf. SMR pp. 30ff.. 580ff., Barbs ... 6 -7, ). Time is His creation like space, and no passage of this appointment for man can affect the quality of His character, which is not in a state of process, for that would involve a being over Him, making such processes work. We are talking of the God, not nothing, of the One who is eternally competent for all that is created, since nothing can neither do anything nor call on resources to help. Indeed, when it is deemed to be all at any time, there are no resources, so that nothing, not empirically the case, would result. The adequate must be eternal or we will not be; but we are. Adequacy as in SMR involves very much!
The Eternal God being there, and active in creating man in His image, thus made capable of thought and choice and prioritisation, then you have man with a limited but crucial liberty. As made, he was able to shove God away in his heart, and listen to other sources (as he did), even to sources slanderous of God; but in so doing, of course, he damaged the truth equipment and priority defining powers given to him, so making of a simple issue, something more complex. It is so with many diseases whether of mind or body.
Such is brought out in texts like I Cor. 2:14, John 1:12, Ephesians 2:1-8,4:7-9.
However, God in this same attested Bible has shown (Genesis 1-3, Colossians 1:15ff., Revelation 4:11, John 3:15-19) that it is HIS OWN will which made man and made salvation and made its method and applies the result of that method; and since HE Himself is not obscured by sin, conflict with His will and way, He is able to assess liberty for every man.
It is not the liberty of diseased will, subject to flips and fits, manoeuvre and manipulation, temporary mood and the like, which though marring man, cannot touch Him, which is now in view; but that of the source of wisdom and knowledge, Maker of limits and liberty as He will. He can both create liberty and restore its operability, or cause it to be discerned; and has done so before our time began.
Some like to limit God; but to put Him in the creation He made is as foolish as to put an author in the book published, under the cover maybe.
So God makes freedom, and before time, we are told, knows who are His own (Ephesians 1:4), so that before sin and creation itself, architect of liberty and creation, God like an ingenious architect (HE made such as a creation too) knows who is who and what is what. Since this is before sin, there is no superiority in mankind, one against another as there before Him; but will is as it was made, free is discerned. Thus in John 3:19, we discern the result: THIS is the condemnation, Jesus the Christ announces, that light is come into the world and men have preferred darkness. This in the midst of the sacrificial love there noted, is the way to get away from it, and so constitute yourself a negative pocket, escaping from God who has conferred liberty.
The criterion is volition, will, preference. God is not a sergeant-major at recruiting time, but a loving Creator who would have all to be saved as He states quite explicitly in Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, with a love which pays at any cost except the loss of truth and love, of His own purity, for the attainment of salvation, for ALL whether in heaven or on earth. If He lost the beauty of truth and peace, then there would be but judgment for any; and this is mere folly, not followed!
That is precisely the pre-condition of freedom; and so man is made, and so his disease of sin is overcome, and so the results operate at the chosen method of limited but crucial liberty, as at the first, despite the dereliction of man. God knows His own, and so chooses, and so acts, and so intervenes in His time (John 15:22ff., John 6:65); and He makes no mistakes in preserving this liberty beyond the mirror of history and the mirages of sin. This is the work of predestination, as what precedes, the work of foreknowledge. The latter is ensured by the former.
Suppose someone were to say, What about me, I was not consulted!
That is your contra-biblical hypothesis; but even if, though impossible, this were so, it is so very simple: you want it, it is available. The love STATEDLY is for all, to redeem all. It is not God who would obstruct. Apply then as instructed and eternal life is yours. HOW is it instructed, repent (Luke 13:1-3) and receive the Lord as living God, Saviour and Redeemer, who died the just for the unjust to bring you to God, and put your trust in Him whose body was crucified, but victorious, master over death and loving to supply and apply this in the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23, 3:23-27, John 6:47, 5:24).
Suppose again, one says, How can there be liberty when the physical universe has so much law! To answer, let us ask another question. How can you drive freely when the road usage has so many conditions ? It is not absolute autonomy, since by definition, this is possible only for the All-Sufficient Eternal Being. Yet assuredly this does not make driving a matter of mere travail. It has a limited freedom, highly available for very many pursuits and opportunities. You cannot make the roads or rules; but within that, you can drive very much where you will, and with vast scope for individuality.
When it comes to living, you can reject God (cf. Acts 7:53); though not the consequences. Liberty is not magic; you are responsible, and when at the highest level you have this freedom, then as a being, you are alignable for or against, and if you desire yourself at all costs, then you are free to imagine hosts of ways of being it! This does not dull the results of blindness, bullishness, or queasiness; but it enables you to be free to deploy what brings them. Sin is not a good thing; and there is no disguising it; but you can prefer it!
Thus we can even see one of the causes of so much controversy, other than from omitting the basis of freedom in God. It is the way the Lord chooses to work. Some in their liberation, sense the call from God over the head of assailing sin and blindness, penetrating past their pathological, spiritual condition, and so speak in terms of the divine intrusion, parallel to the case of Normanby in the war; others tend to concentrate rather on the liberation from bondage involved, and to rejoice first of all in this alleviation and enablement. Both are elements in the case. When you consult instead the word of God, you see the entire situation, and the explanation of such things with it. Indeed, when God acts, natural law is no longer the last word, but the initial situation; and whether in resurrection or healing or salvation, He accomplishes His work in terms of His own principles. These do not change since He does not (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102) and is above time; and normal restraints no longer are final conditions, but part of the scenario for the spiritual surgeon.
It is good that biblical Christianity solves the issues in this whole area of liberty and determinism, law and individuality, responsibility and culture, love and thrust, by giving a unique and unduplicable harmony of concepts and actions. It is a beauty in the Bible that it is only when you take all of it, not omitting what you may not like, or monopolising with what you do, that you find the resolutions for its coverage. That, it is part of the majesty of the word of God, which is further testimony to its truth.
As God in love sent, so His servants in love proceed as in the Great Commission; as we do not know who is to be saved, so we seek the lost with the Gospel, finding its own, using what we may to extend its impact, knowing not only the horror of hell, but the desire for its avoidance, so that if Christ died for it, we live for it.