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PARABLE AND PRELIMINARIES
In Matthew 13:36-43, there is a parable. Admittedly parables are not normally given as sources of legal definition, but precise impact in a basically obvious area, arena or site for impact is to be found from the lips of the Lord. Thus, within that purpose designation of the parable, the data given are not presented as inaccurate or misleading. They illustrate and define a point in a graphic manner where human interest is both focussed and instructed.
In the parable in the above text, there are interesting features in the area of what is assumed. The Lored and the devil both sow seed in a field, the world. The one is for a crop, the other for weeds, the adversative and corruptive nature of the devil being at once seen.
Thus there are two actions in view.
First however there is a devil. Then, secondly, he is an adversary of the Son of Man, Jesus the Christ. Thirdly, his "seed" or by spiritual analogy, type of offspring are deposited on the earth, and will develop. The divinely sponsored seed is also so deposited. In the end, each goes by appointment to the destiny in view. The miserable destiny involves a furnace of fire conceived as a means of devastation of the weeds, and an illustration of the value set upon these. They function in analogy like weeds in a crop: not only of no ultimate use, but detrimental and competitive in an evil and disruptive manner, with nothing to offer. Their removal is not an intrusive act, since the purpose is growth and health, but an innately apt resultant.
If the purpose had been to have a devastated crop, instead of devastated weeds, the destinies would doubtless have been different. Crops have uses and purposes that weeds do not. Since God is author and creator of the field, therefore His purposes are determinative, both what He does, and in the permission of certain liberties, permits. Since weeds are unruly and counter-productive for the end of what is made by God, conforming to its place in life, their destiny is merely the exhibition of what they are. Unruly, they are ruled out, given the time to manifest what they are, in the laboratory of history, set for show to man and other powers, not for God, who knows it already (Hebrews 4:13, cf. Ephesians 3:10).
It represents something like having a company making available certain software, usable by free download, and setting conditions on its use. Since you get it freely, they may exhibit certain practices of yours as wholly unacceptable. If you do not want to conform, you are asked not to download. After all, why not make your own and then it is yours to control!
You cannot, certainly, make your own life; and that is a limit. We however are not gods, and confusion over this, which in the land of Australia seems to be growing, as if there were a right to control the lives of others by elected representatives almost without limit, in a Constitution-free domain. It is as if it were in a world without meaning except for what they desire, which has no limits except what they impose, nor morals except what they create. Such a godlike view is not suitable for non-gods, and, is not warranted (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!, News 19).
Any endeavour to make us ultimate beings is contrary to the obvious fact that we come without OUR permission and go likewise (except with suicide which is defeat rather than choice, relative to life as such), do not determine our own DNA and are subject to impacts not in our own domain, but adventitious to our personalities. This is so, except of course these be willingly set in the hands of the only One whose competence to make these things, gives undeniable evidence of action and directed agency, in a perspective providing the solution to all logical problems, life vicissitudes and destiny question in coherence and rational perfection*1 .
This brings up the immediately correlative question: Very well, we need not adopt superior airs about our small selves, as mankind, just because we have been endued with prodigious capacities of thoughts, analysis, disquisition, determination*1A of issues, and even facility in seeking God and considering His ways. This last may be done, although not exhaustively, since all knowledge of anyone involves some contribution from within, and in the issue of God Himself, unlimited by any law or lord, ultimate, there is an infinity which requires expression from His own being, way past the clear features which are evident from His work. Yet are we then mere bric-a-brac, items spawned forth, to put it more vitally, from a maker which leaves us without relevant character, any more than a stone ? Are we determinees, whether in terms of the parable of Christ, weed or wheat, all by seed planted ?
That is a separate question relative to all parables in general, in type, and this one in the particular case. All that is necessarily implied in terms of the point and purpose of this parable, to bring truth, past the wilting spiritual life of the disabled souls (so by their own elected mode of living in particular), is rather less and rather more, in different measures. Thus we see in other parables, BLAME is readily applied to them as in Matthew 13:10-17. Thus there IS a certainty about things, in what they do; but it is so in terms of HOW this has come to be. Liberty remains a correlative of blame, and both of man's attitude to God, sufficiently demonstrated before him (cf. Romans 1:17ff. and see Licence for Liberty).
Those who qualify for the blame and shame in the Matthew 13 case, shut their eyes, this being in terms of the quality or tissue of the treatment, a voluntary and blameworthy act, since it means that what is NATURALLY GIVEN is by personal choice ACTUALLY TURNED OFF, like a radio. Hence the blame.
That intense and horrendous act of needless wilfulness on the part of man, contrary to the desires of the Lord to the point of outright rebuke and ultimate censure, is the Counsel of the King, the wisdom of God who having man upright, does not approve his many inventions.
It is no less apparent in Luke 19:42, where the horror of Jerusalem having failed to realise the significance of the coming of the Saviour is a matter of woe enough for Jesus to weep at it, and not for this, did the eternal "I am" weep on earth (John 8:58), or simply note it as a matter of necessity. NOTHING could be less so than attested when, with the horror of heart and the grief of Spirit, Jesus Christ reviews this unnecessary act of theirs, deeming it a forlorn brutality.
It is one achieved by themselves, one exercised needlessly, uselessly and tragically upon themselves, with results to the uttermost wrong for their desired welfare, in the eyes of God. Indeed, it is depicted as following an option duly exercised by them, with results now necessary. So far from merely implementing some mysterious and imaginary desire of God, it is outrageous in the eyes of His only begotten Son, and aborts that divine mercy eminently desired. The King's Counsel is here to this effect; it is the King who has said it, who is the truth (John 14:6), and who speaks what His Father has commanded (John 12:48-50). Wisdom here finds its counsel (John 14:9). Let God be true though every man should be a liar! (Romans 3:4).
That is what is found all throughout the Bible, from the first in Eden. God made man upright, as Ecclesiastes 7:29 declares, but he has made many inventions, including as in Eden, those for his own spirit, will, ambition, conspectus and belief systems, however guilty or even execrable and irrational these may be. Fancy trusting an adventitious and meretricious agency that appeals to your own wilful heart (Genesis 3:4-5), concerning what is not even definitionally identified, far less of proven power. Imagine, still worse, disobeying the word of your undisputed Maker AS AT THAT TIME was the case, in order to trust this God-shooting summit of resistance!
This liberty accorded to mankind is the basis of all the all but innumerable occasions of divine exhortation, persuasion, judgment and enterprise, even at the acme, and procedurally, of His seeking what is lost and to facilitate its finding, enabling dumping of the difference between guilt and innocence, in a wholly creative act of the Creator Himself, so that life might be restored, and the necessary inter-relationship with the God and Father of spirits, able to resume. Love prompts it, liberty requires it, law assesses it, mercy removes the block on payment.
Back to the beginning, we find that evil entered the earth with specious solicitation. How could man be delivered from the shadow of its unhealthy tyranny and unwise parade ? the answer to this, we have already glimpsed.
HOW then the evil seed, weeds, and the good seed, people of and for God, are made into such small but effective and very different container units, for planting, is the question. It remains so when we come to voluntarism as taught in the Bible, and determinism as the very understandable approach, virtually one of hostile complaint, often made as a contribution by the pliable. They FEEL determined, since sin enslaves them (as in John 8:31-36). Others feel free because they are freed by Christ from the whole clammy, cultural dump yard into which it is so easy to fall in an uneasy and queasy, but reasonably effective control situation. There, human cattle can be stamped, almost indeed like what they breed. Yes, the means are available, but what of the ultimate, where the souls are made ? Let's go back further.
In the divine foreknowledge (for all was in the mind of God before in the maw of matter or the mind of man, as in Acts 15:18, Titus 1:2-3, II Timothy 1:8-12, Romans 8:29ff.), all that follows is to be found. It moves through a RESULTANT predestination to call, conversion and glorification. Such is the transit in Romans 8.
What happened then IN the foreknowledge arena ? In this the DECLARED MOTIVE of God as stated in John 3:15-18, is at work, since what is HIS design and purpose, moving through HIS method, will be implemented by HIS power; and He does not change (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102:25-28, Hebrews 13:8). He WOULD have all reconciled to Himself, a point He shares with us in Colossians 1:119ff., as in I Timothy 2:1ff., for example. Hence, this is the mode of entry into foreknowledge. as a concept: NOTHING which counteracts this blessed desire of His is to the point, but simply a contradiction of God concerning God.
That is like an interviewer who CANNOT accept what the visitor is saying, a strange manner of finding out what are inaccessible data by any other means, for the heart has its own secrets, in terms of motivation. To be sure, in Christ, all is open; but not all is in Christ; and what is, is known in total only to God (I Corinthians 2:15-16), who operates on it, as it is, as it is known to be, without the limits of nature, at will, in this as in all things. God knows liberty as many know the slavery of sin (John 8:34-35, Isaiah 46:10, Hebrews 4:13).
He does not force, since this would be counter-productive and destructive merely, spoiling like using a car as a tractor in heavy soil, what He had made. Hence He elicits, finds, discovers, if you want to use terms in analogy, which nevertheless contain the main thrust of the quality of the proceeding. In doing so, He has results. With this foreknowledge, God acts in predestination. In coming to that point from the domain of foreknowledge, which precedes it logically, as in Romans 8:30, He is presenting to Himself what foreknowledge knows, has elicited, obtained and secured. It is the RESULT of His universal outgoing love to mankind as in Titus 2-3, to this race, when is applied to the incoming souls. Hence predestination is a resultant of His gracious provisions and universal approach in love, and it involves consequences. Hence comes the application of these results of freedom.
By this stage in the circuit of grace (Romans 8:30), in this logical coverage (not chronological since this is all before our time began), the entire resources of God Almighty have already been applied to seeking, because of His loving motivation, to save everyone. He states this motivation and He knows what He is doing (John 3:16, Col.1:19ff.). Where this cannot be done, the saving motivation cannot become the saving fact in any given case, because of the pre-conditions of the liberty of the souls made, where the provisions are relevant for the love, and in terms of it, then the result becomes seed of one sort, rather than of another!
What then freely fits into hell like a hand into a dagger or into a plough handle, as the case may be, goes there. There is NO LIMIT on the provision for the contrary, to secure the escape of many from their own condition (Hebrews 2, Philippians 2), even to the point of the humbling required of God to present that provision, or the anguish that the love overcame in so sending His only begotten Son (Philippians 2). There was nowhere further to go, without God denying Himself and descending to mere forcible fiascos on man, made in His own image. God did not desolate what He had made, but provided for it, like a good Father. If God changed, hell would be for all, since none but God has so made us that being with Him, enables complete living, correlation of what is there with its need and actual basis, freely, fervently, truly and in reality.
God did not change, though vast was His action, ultimate His love, and wonderful His protection of freedom. Man had to do so. Change is for man, not for God. He changed His form in the incarnation, but never does He alter His divine reality, who having made time, looks on it as one might on a surface from an aircraft, seeing all, knowing all.
Is this so very hard ? If I now could be perfect, be sure I would be! There is nothing to be desired in what is not ... So I strive towards it (as Paul in Philippians 2:12-16), knowing the figure of true manhood divinely presented in Christ, who is the acme and the wonder of life, and presents deityh in human form. Here is a goal in quality of nature, to be sought through Him, He being Himself above creation (Colossians 1:15-16) as its Creator; but gloriously made manifest in it. Hence one can escape mere capitulation or limitation to anything that is just another person in sin, hero-worship, image-of-the-beast worship, and reach to the heights of holiness direct. From God, man rightly turns to God to find Him where He has appointed (Acts 17:23-31, Philippians 3:12-15, II Corinthians 4:5-6).
Thus if one comes to Christ, this is first being based on what makes such seeking not a dream, but a task, and it has two parts. There is the coming to Him, and then the establishment in Him, with changed heart and life and foundation, a gift (Romans 6:23), and that by grace (Romans 5:15ff.). It is "the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ," which "abounded to many." Indeed He Himself is the gift of love (John 3:16), whose "goings are eternal" (Micah 5:3, John 17:1-3), who is the Eternal God (John 8:58), most blessed for ever (Isaiah 48:16), one Person in the very Trinity of Truth. So as is the coming TO Him, so WITH Him, is the going and the growing, a pilgrimage WITH His presence ON His basis which is eternal and sure (Matthew 7:24-27 and I Corinthians 3:10-11).
What then ? is this salvation so terrible ? Many seem to think so, as if inconceivable riches (Colossians 3:8) were an affliction. It would be, if these were mere provision for degeneration and degradation, but when they are means for the works of the Lord Himself, then power matches desire, though as servants of the Lord are shown (II Timothy 3:12, John 16:2), much may be the pain of accomplishment (as Paul shows in Colossians 1:24). Sin means pain and its overcoming shows it, centrally in the Cross of Christ who, in bearing it, experienced its blast.
Thus what seemed to some to be a short-circuit of human liberty, in predestination, is in fact its entailment. It is the way in which it is safeguarded, since its first generation in mankind has been spoiled from the first, and its restoration does indeed depend on a transmutation of spirit, since any rat can conform for an ulterior motive. This is deeper, being free and final (cf. Hebrews 9:12, John 5:24, Ephesians 1:11).
So is the problem met with amplitude and energy, initiative and cost willingly paid by the Redeemer, for damage at the first, and that, wilfully done; and even those so paid for, continue to present the truth, so that they "die daily" in being conformed not to themselves (I Corinthians 15:31, Romans 12:1-2), but to their God and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
Man has been subject to a desolation which neither wealth nor nation can hide. His rescue as indeed his creation, is subject to powers beyond himself, as with any life-saver in the ocean. If he does not want this, he is free to drown, a somewhat calamitous choice. His choice is not thrust upon him, since ultimately it is represented in what history now simply collects. All the reality of the man may now appear, as in foreknowledge to God, since this for Him who IS the truth, is in truth, and so reality. Indeed, this may show in some of the torments, tortures of spirit, deliberations and matters leading to destiny, which may be experienced by the person who is saved.
There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. The actualities may be hidden in the mind of man, but not from the knowledge of God. If for example, Judas, to make a theory, sold Christ in order to precipitate Him into the use of supernatural power leading to the kingdom of God, then that disorderly desire would appear like a seam in a rock-face.
History allows the exhibition for testing of all these elements; destiny exhibits as foreknowledge descries, the results. One of the destinies, in resultant reality, is being with God, heaven; the other, is being without Him, hell.
That is in essence what hell is. On earth, the most flimsy hope can maintain some in prospect, for years. In hell, there is no hope. On earth, the possibility of yielding to the Lord and gaining salvation is THERE; in hell it is not. On earth, the most dissolute can consider the wonder of the change of which he or she may have heard much. In hell there is no such change. It is the finale of hope, when the issues are all done.
Hopelessness is its hall-mark, so that there is no room for ambition, resolve or imaginative constructions, except as facile movements of degenerate residues, left with them as they desired, now exposed and judged by the truth. They are now through their unwise wandering, WITHOUT GOD, the God of their generation, from whose regenerative power, they have willingly and wilfully turned away.
Hell is spoken of in terms of unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12), which in terms of another image (Mark 9:42-47), is presented in terms of undying worms and unsnuffed burning. This does not cease. C. S. Lewis considered the nature of eternal destruction as may be found in II Thessalonians 1:9. What is its state as BEING destroyed, relative to residual function ? That was his question. How does what is as it were, charred, in fact operate, and to what extent is its actual individuality maintained in such a condition ? One theme is both simple and undivorceable from the biblical witness concerning hell: it is in no way obliteration; moreover, it is utterly shameful and it stays that way. It is one thing to be caught in sin; it is quite another to forego the mercy to preserve oneself from the cost of a surrender (Luke 14).
What is that surrender ? is it to a lie ? the opposite. To one's Maker ? the same. From self-spoiling ? Correct. For restoration to one's proper place, even to the point of becoming an adopted child of God ? Precisely. For what is this surrender to God, then, the Lord, NOT MADE: ultimately it is a preference for a specious personal autonomy, forsaking it for a state which nevertheless preserves real individuality in terms of truth, and which is gladly offered by God. The dim doom of such dereliction is as horrendous as its cause.
For my own part, I delight in being no expert on hell, for denaturing is neither interesting nor edifying to my mind; but it does exist, so that attention is a duty to a point.
The child in one cartoon in the old Punch magazine, who finding a bishop visiting his parental home, found joy in getting information is to the point here. What, he asks the ecclesiastical dignity, is the exact temperature of hell. The latter appears to have small affinity for answering the query, and appears in shock.
This would be in the sub-set of C.S. Lewis's point. What is the condition when derangement is the position!
This must rest in a blessedly partially ignorant position, where one is glad to leave it, for divine revelation is given as it is and guesswork is not the word of God; but it does raise more than a little question about the too slick seeming answer that the damned have a conscious condition in their eternal destruction. Certainly there is such an impact, most conscious (Luke 16:23), and It would be too much to say that they DO NOT have such a conscious experience in the agenda, the desolation which becomes their lot. Does it however continue in precisely that condition ? Inadequate data is the reason for the uncertainty, and the Bible is not a handbook on the minutiae of judgment, but it DOES supply enough for any disinterested examination, where an evil motivation and assessment is not the ground.
How much will it cost if I do this ... ? Data for this does not appear, to facilitate estimates.
However, what is supplied is exceedingly adequate for any desiring the truth.
First, hell is irremediable.
Second, it is without hope.
Thirdly, it is aptly expressed in terms of unquenchable fire and worms not dying, as if impregnating a resistant corpse.
It is what was prepared for the SPIRIT, the devil, and is able to accommodate his disciples (Matthew 25:41). This is not to say that it has a new purpose added, for the addition might have been formulated from the first, and since God is not limited, is to be seen as a foreseen provision.
It is fundamentally a spiritual rebuke, formulated rationally for the irrational and the wilfully arbitrary, the self-centred and the biased bowls that insist on rolling along on this deviational basis.
It fits what flits to it, like a cave and its bats.
TRUTH AND TORMENT, GUILT AND REALITY
The torment is interestingly, in Revelation 14:10-11, both noted and discerned for the longer term, as in its product, smoke arising, a state compatible with an initial burst into the scene with scalding shame. The tormentor is internal, you don't need tormentors to work on you, when you have a conscience to do the job so much more effectively from within. This is seen leading on to a diffusing smoke, from the unaspiring residue beneath it, being consumed.
There is no rest in hell (Rev. 14:11), day or night.
There is no blessed cessation. Shame is everlasting. It is then that we realise that the whole scope of history has been in some ways like a huge laboratory session, where the REALITIES are found, as they are, not by some extrinsic force. It is what lies within that is found, whether it be Christ, the Lord of glory by His Spirit living there, or the squalid emptiness of a guilt-laden hell, with a fiery conscience, able to awaken when its last rites may have seemed long buried!
As to the beast, the devil and the false prophet, their apportionment is more obviously, burningly stringent. These are to be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Rev. 20:10). Their spirits are on living record, for these have been smashers of spirits, dreadnoughts of desire, aspirants for greater glory, deceivers of the innocent, defilers of the upright, inspiration of the dictates of the godless tyrants, haters of truth, enemies of the light, inadequate like pustules on the skin, for anything but evil. Yet in their day, they were far from impotent, now the subject of a scalding contempt. The devil even has a new period, after the millenium when bound (Revelation 20:2-10), but from this, not in contrition but in endless rage, he is to arise to seek rebellion even amid the beauties of divine rule as in Psalm 72.
This spirit, the devil, is remorseless, ruinous and relentless. He is like an unbroken spring, always pushing. He is exposed forever, along with the beast, that spiritual contrivance which has brought imperialism to its lack-lustre heights of heady power, and alternative life to its classic dereliction. It is through his evil works, that masses of deceived mankind has frequently become but pawns for the powerful, and glory is moved skilfully away from God, to anything else: the present threat for Australia.
The false prophet*1B (cf. Revelation 16), known for his innovatively destructive work on truth and goodness, virtue and self-control, as on all regard for the word of God and propaganda summits, is likewise exposed, without limit and without end. The horror of their own natures is an endless summit inverted, a scene of their own degrading dynamic, now at last resting on themselves, away from all future targets. This is part of the rest of the saints (Revelation 7:14-17), for the blessed of the Lord are not in any manner of contact with what for so long has defamed, and now is eternally evidenced as infamous (as in Daniel 12:2). This is final, and therefore, as hellish, now in its own camp, but separated for itself, by itself, as it is. Truth has provided that for it. Truth does not end.
For those who have received the salvation of God, the blessed, the truth is that they are now reconciled to God as He desired for a vagrant creation in the field of mankind (Colossians 1:19ff.), and there they equally eternally, reside. The truth concerning them, likewise, does not alter, nor would any of these desire that it would! Heart and soul, and that freely, in spirit and in truth they love God and have in the test of foreknowledge and the quest of history and the finale of truth, found their place. It is not as for those who having their own fulfilment at heart, yet do not find life, the product of Another. It is for those who seeking, have found, and realising have relented, and horrified at their own errors, have repented, and delighted in life for ever, have received it. How and why ?
It is because, made in the image of the God who is free, they had freedom which God brilliantly, though they fell, sustained and enabled at last to find its resultant. There is no underlying cause operating over God to force Him as if determined, to do this or that. So those in His image have no such cause underlying, as if their own liberty were mere illusion. It is God who alone knows liberty and makes it, creates it and sustains it. It is a tender plant indeed*2. Nevertheless so is life itself in the aerial magnificences of the universe, also fragile, but when protected as part of a project by God, secure. For all that, all these vulnerabilities, both man and earth have continued; and this, indeed, despite the attrition and the woes eminently deserved, such as the Deluge and such as are to come, such as the aerial object, the devastating luminary, destined to fall to earth (Revelation 8:11). Recently such an object, rather small but smashing windows for miles, hit near the Urals. More is intended.
When is this ? It is as the tormented horrors of the end of the Age mount, amid its tempestuous attacks on the truth, where tyranny, in obscene militancy, hostile irreligion and religious fraud, seeks to subvert this or that life on earth, multiplying indifferently its rigors to serve the 'cause' and blight or bury many of our race. For it, life may be squashed for ever, rubbed out by royal decree, as if they were gods (like Mao, Stalin, Hitler). The opposite is the end of the matter, where, mercy discarded, the same KIND of destiny awaits, as they sought to impart. But it is more thorough and final.
It has this addition. It is never to be forgotten in its testimonial reality, the truth concerning it a torment to those who sold out to it. Though the blessed will not have it on their minds, for it has gone to its own preferred place, it is marked forever (Revelation 21:4, 20:10).
THE CIRCUIT OF GLORY
AND THE TENDERS OF MERCY
What however of those who never heard the Gospel on earth ? Since God is a great lover, with infinite power, His purity and love a blazing glory, and would have all to be reconciled to Himself, it is not possible that these be condemned simply because their cases were never exposed to this love. Like all the rest, of course, as the Bible requires, these souls were all also foreknown and appointed with no less love than that of the God who IS love as in I John 4: that is, this is an underived, undiminishable quality which is never countermanded or contradicted in Him. Love of the truth, which He is, is part of it. Love of the race of mankind, is another. Love enough to produce the remedy is a third as in John 3. A technical quirk, such as some not hearing of this love and Gospel will in no way qualify that love or the power that goes with it.
The Westminster Confession acknowledges that some not able to gather the Gospel through disability may be saved; and the save principle applies to those ignorant of it, by simple failure of the Gospel to arrive where they are. Indeed, it has in Section X, 3, that "elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word." That is, some infants are deemed open to election, or salvation, though dying before being able to cognise the Gospel; and others similarly not able (such as those ignorant of it), when also elect are regenerated. This is a true statement in intent.
That it is the love of God toward mankind, as specified in the Bible, which is back of this in its open-faced application to mankind (as in John 3, Colossians 1), is not stated, this being a gap in the Confession.
In the Presbyterian Church of Australia, this was added by the so-called Declaratory Statement, which however in 1991 was illicitly declared to add nothing to the Confession, when it manifestly adds much, and this for the specific and stated purpose of meeting the needs of 'tender consciences'. It also meets the needs of a correct analysis of the scope of the biblical system, so that its demise by this suppression order is an unconstitutional putsch in character. Indeed, this was allied with an increment in the confessional potency as noted in the hyperlink above, making it hard to distinguish this body from a confessionalistic Church, rather than one aligned to simple biblical and practical ultimacy, with confession merely as a help, and in no way going beyond the Bible either in principle or in practice. Subordination can never be equality..
The lusts of extremists in the Church, first to liberal assault on the Bible, from 1935 to the 1970s, in part of which this writer was falsely accused in defending the Bible against irrational attack; and then for whatever reason, to suppression of this element in terms of the scope of the love of God, from 1991 in outward show at least, has been one of the tragedies of a once great Church. But let us leave this sad case, and return to the generic.
NONE will be lost through simple ignorance, and in foreknowledge all that is exposed before God, who statedly does not let such matters rest on what a person DOES in this earth, in the way of commendable works (Romans 9:11). That predestination is logically an aftermath of foreknowledge (Romans 8:30). It is the foreknowledge which counts in terms of results.
To the sound of the Gospel, those ignorant are not equally exposed, and that is therefore not the determinant. Foreknowledge is where the action is accomplished. God is no respecter of persons and with this fact, the Bible as distinct from Confessions, is gloriously aware, being delightfully consistent, as well as insistent, seeking for all with zeal and ingenuity, whether it be Nineveh, or Jerusalem before the exile as in Jeremiah, or after the rebuilding, as in Matthew 23-24. .
What however, someone might persist, of the possibility that those who were foreknown as blessed, always in fact hear the Gospel in the course of earth's long history of several thousands years ? What if the two things match ? In abstract principle this naturally is possible. However, there are some texts which do not lend any support to this, but are virtually decisive to the contrary: that is, that some having been foreknown, are NOT met with the Gospel in this life on earth, but are at last exposed to its saving truth before judgment. In The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch. 4, Aspects of the Glory ... Ch. 5 as elsewhere, this is presented from biblical usage and texts. In either event, the will of God is not that they perish, except they deny the costly method of preventing this, in which case judgment has no more to balk it, and ensues (John 3:19,36).
One aspect is this, that Christ as in the Apostles' Creed and as reasoned in the volume references just noted, which concern I Peter 3, went on after His saving work on earth, to preach in hell or its holding place, and this fits with the concept that some were not excluded who did not hear, but had a further scope. IF those of Tyre and Sidon HAD heard then they would have repented eagerly, we read in Matthew. It was in terms of the same Gospel, from the same Saviour, for the same divine motivation, that this is declared by Christ: IF THEY had heard and seen what YOU have, THEN they would have repented (cf. also John 15:21-25).
There are thus these two powerful points from Christ: IF Jews who did not believe, to whom He spoke, had NOT seen and heard the extraordinary and unique works of Jesus the Christ, then sin would not be attributed to them in its ultimacy, that is, condemnation would not as yet be conclusive. But SINCE these HAD seen and heard, there was NO FURTHER ESCAPE from their guilt. Not only was sin there, but the way for its remission was there, and not taken. THAT alone was fatal. THIS is crucial to judgment, that this or its equivalent be AVOIDED specifically. When this happens, it of course fulfils what from the first was foreknown. There is no mystery, but precisely the love stated in John 3 and Colossians 1 together. In parallel, then, Tyure and Sidon IF exposed as these were to the mighty works of Christ, would in many cases at least, have repented vividly.
These are elements of the Gospel which neither make the human will autonomous (since it is sick, as in John 1:12, Ephesians 4, I Cor. 2:14), nor irrelevant (since in foreknowledge man is not seen limited to a state of disease and the condition this produces, but is known as he is, before any Fall or corruption: all being known to God who has no limit from time or suppression from short-circuit, but loves truth in all, for all, with mercy. The divine circuit of Colossians 1 in its expansiveness and its condition, did not, then, limit itself in application to one time, in terms of eventuation, but had further impact in other realms relating to life on this earth, just as the divine principle of seeking reconciliation from all, relates not to one time, but to all (cf. Acts 17:24-31). Thus what was "overlooked" procedurally was by no means overlooked ultimately in the principles and truth and motivation of God, but dealt with however low or high the possible recipients (cf. the emphasis on all-inclusive scope in Colossians 1:19ff.*3).
Further, the case of Tyre and Sidon which would have repented in sackcloth and ashes, had such works as were done by Christ in Israel in His day on earth, is relevant (Luke 10:13). Does this mean that if such an anomaly and wonder as Christ coming NOT at the predicted date (as in Daniel 9 cf. The Christian Prescription Ch.2), and acting on some eccentric plan, contrary to that in the Bible, had occurred in these two cities, that thus stunned, they would have repented ? Clearly this is not so, for this is a matter of derogatory comparison from the tongue of Truth, Christ Jesus, and it would be unfair to imagine such a preposterous thing for a comparison. The strong message is this: that IF they had been given comparable opportunity they would have reacted far better. Repentance in sackcloth and ashes as BEFORE GOD being in view, this means some or perhaps many are in the category of those ignorant, and so elect.
What then ? So MUCH better, would their response have been, that not only would they have repented, but done so in sackcloth and ashes, betokening a profound revulsion from their sins, and a scorching depth to their repentance. If then a comparable visitation would have led to the salvation of many, then that is an outcome in line with the desire for all on the part of God, and on the basis of such a consideration, means that there are some who will be rescued from the bowels of history, and the caverns of horror, because God is no less remorseless and undeterrable in His love in COMING to save, than in SECURING that same salvation, where it may in purity be obtained.
With God, nothing is a matter of mere principles, for the principles of God are truth. Who but God can countermand the word of God ? He does not do so, since it is His, merely fulfilling it and removing the prelude from effective operation, in terms of the finale, the perfection. He does not abolish His word; He fulfils it (Matthew 5:17-20). Others may try to abolish, or like Calvin, get into a terrible tangle while in fact controverting it without apparently realising the same; but the word of God goes on, untamed and true, whether Arminian or Calvinist errs, and both do.
The word, will and way of God is as in the Bible, and nowhere else is it definitive, as Psalm 119 makes so deliciously clear. It so stands out that all else by comparison can be considered in the category of rubble, or at least uncategorical. Though the best buildings of doctrine may be magnificent, yet their origin and source, determinant and cause of assessment is ONE ONLY, not in superior looking Confessions, but with these as the Westminster Confession sagely says, AS A HELP only. So we revert to the biblical facts, as unearthed.
Hell is not a good place to be; for in it, there is denial of all goodness, where heart and head of that disposition can remain uninterrupted in its mistaken worship.
As to this negative destiny, then, it can be earned, not simply by being a human being, though all in themselves now live without that glorious communion with God which is the natural heritage of man from the first, a post which he deserted, and to which many seem most reluctant to resume. Simply being in the fallen race of mankind, we find from the Bible as above, is not enough in practice to propel a person into hell. It is deserved, to be sure; but it is not summarily donated, or dowered. That is because the love and mercy of God, in which He delights, is in the way (Micah 7:19ff.).
Let us be emphatic, even at the cost of repetition. That is not to say that In principle, the norm of human sin in any given case is not most adequate to send the sinner to hell, in simple judgment. Since sin and God do not cohere, and eternity, past all trial, does not hold both (cf. Revelation 21:4,8, 22:3,15) together, all the race is lost, OR ELSE God provides a banner and a faith for interception. This is what the Gospel constantly confirms (Titus 2-3, Romans 1-3). Sin and God, like positive and negative energy, if forced into concourse, would tend to annihilate each other. But God is not forced to do anything, and has elected, desired to intervene on behalf of the lost sinners. It is not sin which is received into heaven, and flesh and blood cannot inherit it.
That is, sin is not scheduled for heaven as in Revelation. In fact, the love and mercy of God is such that having made a provision broad enough for all mankind, deep enough for swallowing up sin, and high enough to bring to God, there is a bloc, an inhibitor to immediate damnation without more ado, as the outcome. Not one can get to hell unless that person pass this barrier, provided by divine mercy. It is in this sense that you have to earn a place if hell is your desired or confirmed destination, life decidedly without the God who made you. The way to hell may be insidious, squalid and dispersive, but judging by the broad way noted by Christ in the sermon on the mount, it is popular indeed.
The Gospel is not. To be sure millions from many ages appear to have come and left their spiritual wake in notable form. On this, consider Revelation 7 and the multitude of the saints their envisaged, and those who rest from their labours (Rev. 14:13), in the wonder of the life of God. At once returns the contrast: many more have trodden on to what comes, oh ever so naturally. They do not heed. They carefully do not care. They will not stop, or perhaps even listen. Their career in nations where the Gospel flows like a great river, looms like a ship approaching a rocky precipice with zest and abandon, or leisurely indifference.
The case is not closed. Indifference is not yet damnation. Unhallowed superiority in following one's own thoughts in preference to the uniquely verified and validated word of God, the Bible*1, and the equally proven living word, Jesus Christ (cf. SMR Ch. 6, Christ the Wisdom ... Ch. 8 and The Magnificence of the Messiah for example): this is not to this hour the finale. Time still remains. Christ has not yet returned, and the clearest time for repentance has not yet past,
Sin, even to this hour remains effaceable by guilt transfer to Jesus, the Christ (I Peter 3:18). It is by refusing to transfer reliance on yourself or appointees, to THIS God in THIS Gospel that you gain judgment without mercy. It is THIS result, and it comes when you kill your own mercy; and Christ being no more available for slaying, it is yourself you kill, your hope, the grandeur of a godly destiny, snuffed whether by smugness, self-sufficiency in its preposterous pose, or whatever else may appeal. In this sense, you can actually EARN hell. it comes by default, but you may have to fight to preserve your unhallowed unbelief from a smitten conscience.
Salvation like creation, however, cannot be earned. That is the sharp point of difference. If you are below par, that is sin and to be forgiven. If in any point you did very well indeed, it is still the gap between this and perfection which is sin. In this realm, in the kingdom of heaven, ALL is of grace, the place itself (Ephesians 2:5-8, Romans 3:23-27, Galatians 3), the position, the accompaniment, the fellowship of God, the cover for sin, the estate of resurrected bodies fit for eternity (II Corinthians 5), the love of God, pure and unassailable. It is all of grace. Perfection's prize is simply not available, and the hideous depths of depravity in substitutes for the intimate knowledge of the living God are scarcely to be perceived, by those to whom He is alien, and who thus finds them the same in the end.
You cannot earn it, this salvation. Debt does not create credit when only more debt is earnable! Righteousness is by gift deed (Romans 5:17ff., 6:23), itself earned by the Giver in His divine, vicarious ablutions for man, as many as received them. It is these to whom He gives authority to become the children of God (John 1:12). What a lovely authority is this, like a ticket to a great match or concert or vacation, or contest. Another has paid for it, for the believer (I Corinthians 6:14-20, Matthew 20:28). It is also leads on to what is imbued more and more in living and being corrected, trained and developing at the procedural level; but such training in no way a channel to God.
It is a channel ONCE YOU KNOW God, for what is called sanctification. For salvation itself (II Timothy 1:8-12), the foundation and the felicity, there is a ferry, that of Christ, who deposits those who come in faith to Him (and the ferry is not visible otherwise - John 3:3). Glimpses may be tauntingly or appealingly seen in the mist of what is then still mystery before salvation; but the door appears where regeneration opens the eye, and the faith and its result move together like man and wife.
It is then, after this trip, this conveyance into His kingdom (Colossians 1:11-13), that walking in the light proceeds for what are then the children of the light (I Thessalonians 5:5, I John 1:7).
Hell is desolate; but it is for spirits opting in the last analysis, for the dissolving decrepitude which comes when life, created as such, brings in divorce action, or seals and confirms it, against its Author. In it, if you will consider an image, there is both Transgression Terrace and Cunning Close, Impiety Place and Downhill Road. The sky is too black to given inspiration, and the dwellings are without all foundation.
*1 On this, see this coverage in several millions words of investigation and confirmation, systematically set forth.
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;
This "determination of issues" (1) needs to be carefully distinguished from the two different topics of determinism (2), and the determination which simply suggests a strong commitment (3).
THIS sort of determination as in (1), refers to using understanding and reason to find what is the case, and is similar to a reasoned investigation. Man's degree of capacity to distinguish elements, weigh and weight them logically, find their bases, discover their causes, overview their configurations, consider their various levels of meaning, though much impaired since his Fall, is very different from being forced to do anything. He may choose his own principles and parameters, to differ from the present or from the past, or to innovate or to compete or to lie and so forth. Then they may be used to implement or amplify his chosen purposes, good or bad, deceitful and disruptive of truth, or not.
However, because of his injudicious severance from the Almighty to whom he must return for understanding of his basis, with actual objectivity (cf. TMR Ch. 5, Barbs ... 6 -7), before considering resultants, the issues tend to become confounded, depending on how near to the bone, the incision of thought lies.
That is, the nearer to a direct or implicit challenge to the concepts
such as naturalism
to which such lusts as racial egotism may draw,
where nature has to make itself before it is there to do it,
or nothing has to take the lead, as seriously suggested at one time by a notable physicist,
or time has to act as the cause even when there is nothing for it to act on,
and it itself is part of an incisive system for events cf. Let's Be Reasonable, for God is Ch. 3),
a category of containment in a normatively systematic manner, without cause:
more disturbed and confused will be the automatic pre-selection of
understanding, before thought.
In logic, by contrast, questions are not begged. Results do not precede thought as basis for it, by a wave of the leisurely wand of imagination. Begging the question on a multiple scale is good for some fairy stories, but foreign to science, properly so called (cf. Scientific Method... ). It is in THAT testable sene that its reputation was made. Trading on that method without using it, is so close to mere mental manipulation tht light itself would have to find it difficult to find a gap between the two.
Truth is not a matter of beggary but ultimately of demonstration, and its ways wince at no test (cf. SMR, TMR, Deity and Design... esp. Section 8 and *1 above).
This often leads to more prejudice and ludicrous postulations where someone's religious or irreligious interests are deeply concerned; and error most readily from hostility to aspects of the truth, whether repressed or not, so causing endless conundrums and anti-verifications. This is in marked contrast to the case where the Creator and His actions are not pre-selected out for the world, but the matter subjected to logical investigation (SMR Ch. 5 and the list in the preceding paragraph), leading to a result which is duly validated as well as verified.
For a notable case of pre-chosen presuppositions, explicit and quoted, see The Splendour of the Biblical Coverage ... Ch. 3, For the needless nature of presuppositions in this field, see in particular, .
Is man then deterministically forced to act thus ? Not really, though as in diseases, the worse the impact, the worse the prognosis, and the symptoms. As noted in the text of this Chapter, freedom is both real and operative (cf. Predestination and Freewill, Section 4 esp.). If it were not, you would have the antinomies of logic against logic, as shown in Repent or Perish Ch. 7. What would have to be, so surpassing the validity of knowledge, would have to be known nevertheless, for the theory of determinism so much as to be stated. Being relative, you would have to have access to absolute knowledge, which would not even be there, for you to spout. The Chapter surveys the scene, as does Christ Incomparable, Lord Indomitable Ch. 2 , SMR Ch. 5, for example and Predestination and Freewill.
Man is divinely engendered for freedom, has aborted the scope of it markedly, has access to it divinely and by divine principle, is ensured to have its effectual exercise through the knowledge of God before time was. God does not leave anything eternal to chance, the mere moving of some irrelevant system, for such an issue. He has a mind of His own and it is inclusive of a love for freedom (John 8:32-34, II Corinthians 3:17). Without that you would have neither meaning nor opportunity, love nor knowledge, only a virtual image of it, co-ordinating you as by some necessitous program, as desired. See Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, Matthew 23:37ff., John 15:22ff. and *2 below.
The beast and the false prophet are an interesting pair to be joined in judgment as in Revelation 20:10. Since the "beast" appears as a virtual personality, that is, a conglomerate of evil of various integrated kinds, such as military, civil, industrial and financial to the service of a dominating and domineering Statehood, it is not one person. It is for all that an entity, diabolical and operative. Indeed, this Statehood imperialism over manmay become and indeed does, become at length as international apparatus, and does not lapse from seeking dominion even over the servants of God and the Almighty Himself, in the grandeur of the delusion. This operates on the spirits of many, an increasing number as numbness of mind and spirit rises in angry confrontation with God Himself (cf. Revelation 19:19).
As seen in Revelation 13:2, the beast as it grows to its international and most degenerate phase, involves a conglomerate of some of the features of the various images of imperial kingdoms, shown in their then coming sequence, by the prophet Daniel in Ch. 7, for example. Hence the alliance, for judgment purposes, of the "beast" and the "false prophet" brings up a question. IS the false prophet here to be conceived in the same virtual personality as the beast ? Is that being also a projection in effect, of the devil in a chosen format and formula ? While not for one moment can this be maintained as the certain interpretation, nor can it readily be dismissed. When you are looking at a rubbish heap, it is often neither desirable nor pertinent to examine how many cockroaches or worms are present, or what might remain operative in this way or that.
This display of the demonic is a perpetual lesson from the truth, whatever attention may be given to it (as with Lenin's body, if it were kept, whether or not people actually queued to see it). It speaks a world of evil. Like a grave, it is there whether you visit it or not. Direct and perpetual torment is for both of these entities, tossed in their devilish pseudo-personalities, with every memory of them and all that they seized, all the arrogance over man, shrivelled by their sides.
The smoke of the torment of the beast-servers continues likewise, as already discussed.
Freedom is a Tender Plant. This is Ch. 1 of Tedious Torturers ...
Reference in the text is made to the all-inclusive scope in Colossians 1:19ff..
Consider what a circuit the Word of God made as the Son of man: from deity's form He descended to express this glory in human form (II Corinthians 4:6), to speak as commanded (John 12:48-50), to live and die as required for atonement adequate for all, paid out for many who receive it, spreading the word on all sides and domains (cf. Ch. 2 above), just as the love of God spread to all domains in heaven or on earth. Every form and feature is covered till a new heavens and earth come (II Peter 3). And now we are told in Colossians 3:
"If then you be risen with Christ, seek those things
which are above,
where Christ site son the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is our life shall appear,
then you also will appear with him in glory."
Galatians 3:20, like Philippians 3:20-21, speaks further on this.
What a mighty manifesto doall these things disclose in the reach and strength, beauty of holiness and divine purity of the love of God!
That being background, we return to the vast scope of Colossians 1:19ff..
The point of this in conjunction with John 3:19 has been exegeted before, but our present point is even broader. The vastness of this duet of verses,1:19-20 in Colossians, is in the midst of many more vastnesses, in the context. It is like the journey from Vancouver to Banff in Canada: you marvel at the first of the Rockies, but then the sight goes on for hours, heights and depths, rills and streams below, magnificences above, things wrought by the lives and death of many, to lay down!
Thus in Colossians 1 as one whole, there is a sense of universal engagement, absolute oversight and control of all things, in principle and ultimately, in practice, thought the liberties to diverge are by this by no means cancelled, rather incorporated in the results.
Thus the "hope which is laid up in heaven" (Col. 1:5), in coming to them mirrors the case where in all the world to which it has appeared, either having already zoomed in, or with prophetic coverage (as in Hebrew) will do so.
This is the first vast scope.
Next comes that in wisdom, knowledge and illumination (1:9). The apostle's desire is that they "might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding..." He does not simply seek that they might have a little help ... maybe!
Thirdly, the apostle seeks that they might be "strengthened with all might" to "all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness". That is the fourth case of vast, embracive scope in this Chapter.
Fifthly, they are "translated" that is "conveyed" into "the kingdom of His dear Son." There are neither steps nor stages in this, as was in parallel, the case in the production of physical light in the case of the physical creation as in Genesis 1. God knows what He is doing and His steps do not depend on limited potentials, but actual desires. John 3 has the same categorical coverage in the image of being born over again. It may be painful (cf. I Thessalonians 1:6) but it has equally as the apostle reviews it there, much joy. The act of being born has no plateaux but one act in basis: from the womb to the air. It is all prepared, both the air and the womb, and the passage for exit, with the capacity to utilise it effectually. It is one work for one reason with one result in one labour.
Christ Jesus moreover IS the Creator, not a demi-urge or surge (Colossians 1:16), and that is why on HIS entry into THIS WORLD, He is called the first-born (Colossians 1:15). There is no twilight of terms; indeed as God He is thrust to the mind and to the eyes as in Colossians 2:9, which states that in Him dwells the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form. The FULNESS of Godhead! That includes what makes it full, such items as the eternity of His Being from everlasting to everlasting, the authorship of the creation, the unique saving power (Isaiah 43:10-11), the place as cause and not consequence, as indeed the author of our type of causation on earth (Hebrews 1:1-3, 11:1-3, Romans 8:39, John 1:1) with His own power of intervention as desired (Amos 3:6, 4:7-13). It means that He as one of the Trinity is also the author of liberty, and the foundation of love (I John 4:7ff.).
That is the sixth closely set totality or utter embrace noted in Colossians 1.
He is BEFORE ALL things, and by Him ALL THINGS CONSIST. Here then are the seventh and eighth such universal or embracive items provided here.
He is the Head of the Church (not sharing it with anyone! as in Matthew 23:8-10), and the first-born from the dead, raised as in birth, not by a human act or agency, and so comes the ninth item, with the tenth.
Again, it that in ALL THINGS He might have the pre-eminence, the eleventh item.
Number twelve is like number 6, and so could be left aside in the list; but it is more. We are instructed that "it pleased the Father than in Him should all fulness dwell". There is a marked emphasis on the delight that the Father had in this fulness of the Son, the very One sent on Mission, not as a secretary, or even a secretariat, nor a mere priest, but with HIS OWN NAME (Isaiah 9:6-7, John 8:58, Hebrews 2), the very name of God, "I am."
The twelfth feature is of the profoundest import. Not only did it please the Father than in Him should all the fulness dwell (as echoed in Colossians 2:9), there was another closely allied universal provision. It was this: that it also pleased the Father,
"having made peace
by the blood of the Cross,
by Him to reconcile all things to Himself -
by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
ALL THINGS are on the agenda for the divine disposition, the divine love as in John 3, the divine desire not to destroy the world, to judge it, but to save it. This does not usurp the very nature of love, which is not to force (as you see so clearly in tears instead of terror in Christ as He in the utmost grief saw the city and its denizens consigning itself by disfaith to devastation). It does however make it plain that in the ultimate analysis, there is no mystery about the desire of the heart of Almighty God concerning man, all men. Resultants such as Stephen cited in Acts 7:51, where they are charged with always resisting the Holy Spirit, do come, and they came within a generation of his murder!
In His divine foreknowledge (Romans 8:30), God knows who is who, but this does affect but rather secures, the results of HOW, in terms of what stated principles, this was discerned and foreknown. God DOES NOT CHANGE (Psalm 102), and as Christ was in principles, so is He. Taking a humble form did nothing to remove the eternal facts.
Thus and STATEDLY, GOD would have ALL THINGS to be reconciled through the blood. This is the twelfth item plus one more, reminding us of the twelve apostles. Though one of them was a fraud, a devil (John 6:70), none of the word of God is so! Indeed, when one left the apostles, a thirteenth man, though a substitute, come on scene.
How grand are the principles of deity, how ready for understanding when taken all and always, as they are, and not into thrall to some philosophy (Colossians 2:8), which would pinch or twitter, and not fully receive the mandated and revealed word of God, in terms of the perspective of which, darkness opens and truth comes like the sun in its glory.