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Chapter 2

HARMONIES

 

ISMS AND SCHISMS

 

   PREDESTINATION AND FREEWILL


                     The Development of Harmony 2 of Chapter 1

In Chapter 3 we will survey a little more, but for the present, we concern ourselves with sickly schisms, like weeds disadorning the beauty of the garden of His word.


Predestination and Freewill

More on 2, from Tender Times ... Ch. 2

 

 

EXCURSION

*1    A PROMINENT EXAMPLE of the INSULAR

 BEWARE OF THE -ISM, but TAKE THE GOOD, TESTING ALL THINGS!

A Detailed Note in the Field of Fidelity

For the actual statements of Calvin, clearly showing his error in this regard, see Predestination and Freewill pp.76ff. He 'admits' Christ's call as a hen to her chicks, which includes this, HOW OFTEN WOULD I have gathered you under My wings, but equivocates with the irrelevant, as if an expression of the divine desire in Christ is in some way to become enmeshed in metaphors, rather than being taken to mean what it precisely states, an index to Calvin's confusion at this point. "We must not define the will of God," he declares immediately after this 'admission' concerning Christ.

No, we assuredly must not, except from His word, and above all from His Son, the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form, so that "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." There is nothing of the merely metaphorical about this statement of what Christ so often would have done, or the contrast between this willingness and their eventual desolation through rejection. Whether you use hands or wings or words, it is one: you show what you would have liked to do.

We MUST define the will of God from His word and His Son for HE has already done so and He is the EXACT EXPRESSION of His Person (Hebrews 1), so that the one seeing Him, has already seen the Father (cf. John 6:40, 14:9)! ANY DIVORCE IS IN THE MIND OF MAN, NOT OF GOD... 'Accommodation' is incommodious when it rips the reality from the representation coming from the very WORD of God, whose word is truth,  who IS the truth, whose words are as commanded. If God declares exact representation, then we must follow, for the jousting with false jubilation must cease.

As Christ is, so it is. He is not in the form of a man and of a servant (yet without sin), that becoming flesh He should cease to BE the ONE who was in the form of God. Informed with light, He sheds no darkness; and the light of the world is in nothing at fault; nor is God without means of expression, nor is His Word without ample capacity to express.

This then is perhaps the worst lapse of Calvin, and while he sought to avoid confusion, in this liberty and indeed laxity, he merely created more by presumption against the very words of Christ, and his own words ignoring the actual issue with irrelevancies that neither touch the issue, nor even contact it. The metaphorical forms of speech do not mangle the fact but illustrate it; and the will which these signify is not dulled but made simply clear and clearly simple in the process: not simplistic, but clear like light, in which is NO darkness at all.

It is time for more unity in this enthralling and delightful beauty spot, the love of God, His loving sovereignty and His sovereign love.

The opposite extreme is most common also. See Section 2, op. cit. for further development of this matter.

It needs attention in the love of Christ, according to His word, most clear and most perfect in this as in all its divulgements.
 
 

THE FIRST (1)

For convenience an excerpt from the above cited work is here given:

"Cf. Calvin's Institutes, Book 3, Ch. 24, Section 17. As for Christ's lament and statement of gathering in Matthew 23:37: Calvin's disregard here of the clear exposure of the heart of the incarnate God is a hiatus in the life of the divine picture, for which scripture gives no ground. If the "form" of God is not on earth as it is heaven, yet when we come to Christ's word: "He who has seen Me, has seen the Father", this is known,  because He expressly changed His form (John 1, Philippians 2), but not His reality (Heb. 1:3, Mal.3:6, John 8:58). Accordingly, rejection of a divine statement of heart and principle, for one at variance from it, is no interpretation! Concerning Matthew 23:37, see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Appendix B as also Ch.8, pp. 636-643."

Calvin's equivocation here is astounding. He speaks as if the fact that in Christ God appeared as man had a strange consequence. It is as if His being made man,  made truth not the criterion of His utterance, precise, profound. From Calvin at this place, it is as if Christ's coming precluded this, which nevertheless He said and TRULY: that "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" , as in John 14, and that "I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak... Therefore whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

What results from this then ?

You have only one choice. Irrationally to reject Christ, or to accept His words. If His words be true, Calvin here is not; if Calvin were true here, Christ's words would be contravened. This is no sacred mystery, but an evil aspersion on Christ's words, though doubtless such was never Calvin's intention. The fact however remains, that he has cardinally erred here. Christ declared two things clearly concerning His doctrine, which may be selected to this point. First, if any man wills to do the will of God, he will now the doctrine whether it is of God or whether Christ speaks on His own (John 7:17). Secondly, the Father has given a commandment what He should speak (John 12:48).

It is therefore not truth as per some accommodation to pressing realities (what are these, beyond God!), or limitations (who limits God who does the commanding, of whom Christ declared, He who has seen Me has seen the Father - John 14), it is not this that Christ speaks. It is the TRUTH, and for that matter, in Himself HE IS the TRUTH and He is a man who has TOLD YOU THE TRUTH (John 8:40), and as the Father has taught Him, so He speaks these things (John 8:28). In principal, in essence, in command, in commission, in presenting eternal life, in being the exact image of His Father, in authority, in relay, constitutively, expressly, Christ is and speaks the truth.

He indited it and is to be indicted by no man: His words stand, and describe even in advance, what falls. He sets the standard for what stands, and stand it does, to the last jot (Matthew 24:35), even if the stage called the universe depart (as it will). In logic, in life, in faith, it is one (cf. SMR Ch.1, Appendices   C, and   D).

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       Hence so far from speaking in some way which wavers from the utter, complete and holy truth
 

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(you do not need to know everything in order to know correctly
when it is GOD who utters and pronounces His words Matthew 4:4, 5:17ff.,
far less is there any disjunction, as with Christ Himself,
who IS the living and eternal word of God incarnate!),
 

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Christ spoke truth, and His teachings were and are  as true as God is.

Calvin therefore in this is judged by Christ, and he is wrong, daring to insinuate a suggestion of some diversity, some moving this way in the Son and that way in the Father, in some complexity of duality, which is the contrary of unity.  Such is the price for his error. His walking in a dark room in this matter is self-induced, by shutting the door into which the light comes from the word of God, express, multiple and categorical (cf. SMR Appendix B, Great Execrations Chs.   7 and   9). The result at this point ? darkness, confirming the error of the omission and contrariness of the entry of Calvin's own philosophy.

Philosophy however has nothing to offer here, but the word of God shining, whether or not as here it is contravened, must be followed. While its light cannot be blighted, it must be sighted. It is there to be seen! When it is followed, then it embraces reality with the mastery which its Author commands.

Never move from Christ as THE TRUTH, speaking as DIRECTLY COMMANDED by His eternal Father, and you will never move from the incarnation as BEING THE EXACT IMAGE OF GOD in its outcome (Hebrews 1:3), or again be in the shelters of philosophy, cowering as before enemy aircraft, afraid of what is not known. KNOWLEDGE has come.

We do not know the FORM of God (I Timothy 6:16), but  we DO know Him to be holy, and wholly reliable; we DO know His character, His commands and His truth. Having seen Christ, we do indeed see the Father; and having known Christ, we do indeed KNOW THE FATHER (John 8:26,31,32,42,47,55; 14:7-11). His humanity is not a road block, but specifically the contrary: the AVENUE OF MANIFESTATION not of thought and hope, but of GOD! It may be veiled in flesh, but the veil exhibits what is below the veil: indeed this IS eternal life, that you should KNOW God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3).

Now of course Calvin brings up things like metaphors, including this:

"He says that he has stretched out his arms ... to call a rebellious people (Isa. 65:2); early and late he has taken care to lead them back to him. If they want to apply all this to God, disregarding the figure of speech, many superfluous contentions will arise."

This however simply is irrelevant to the point at issue and is a good illustration of the fact that NO MAN is to be followed, but the word of God only: though some man's words be found ever so helpful. The greatest can fall. NOT of Calvin, or of Wesley! THAT is the consideration that is CLEARLY written with not a metaphor in sight! (I Cor. 3).

Let us now be practical. It will not hurt. Is there any question of what God is saying in the cited passage in Isaiah? Of course not. There is no issue about whether He is earnest, diligent, whether He SENDS His messages through His messengers, seen presumably as engaging Him in their own activities ("in all their afflictions, He was afflicted" - Isaiah 63:9). The matter is INCAPABLE of misinterpretation. The metaphors enliven it, make it clear in human terms; they do not seduce, speaking in one set of imagery which obscures, renders ambiguous, far less denies what is the point of the metaphoric mini-parable, if you like. You see the Lord in this figure of Isaiah's, in His earnest, dawn breaking zeal. Very well, that is known. Since Christ Himself in fact DID just that, arising a great while before the break of day, it is even less of any tendentious character. AS MAN, GOD DID JUST THAT! (Mark 1:35).

Now how does this evacuate the MESSAGE which the FIGURE of hens and chickens provides in exact parallel to that of the zeal of the Lord, in the other ? The figure is about hens and chickens, in this, that LIKE that, He has acted. But the simile is simply passing. It proceeds:


I WOULD HAVE GATHERED YOU AS ....(simile), but YOU WERE NOT WILLING.

 

THIS is the DIRECT statement. One, called Christ, had a strong, deep and direct desire which is evocatively likened to that of a hen for her chickens. It is intense, immense, earnest and warm. This is the thrust. He is not BECOMING a hen in this picture. He is likening what HE FEELS and WOULD HAVE, to the way a hen appears to act. In the FACE of this (as in 'stretched out', the imagery cited from Isaiah by Calvin himself), this earnest zeal, this unequivocal desire (not a decision to force, but a decision to seek with ardour), CHRIST STATES WHAT HE FINDS. He has this zeal and this desire, and its character is compared to the hen's thirst and desire for chicks, to protect them.
 


Thus even the case cited by Calvin merely confirms the point. The imagery is evocative, and declarative of content, as is normal in imagery. It is clear, as is normal in good imagery. It means that the Lord NOT ONLY desired to find the lost, but that His desire was cardinal, direct, assured and indisputable. It is :

Now we come to the next error of Calvin, who sidestepped this issue with a mere flurry of words, in gross distortion of the simplicity of the positive-negative propositions of Christ: I WOULD... YOU WOULD NOT. And this which must be added : IT HAPPENED LIKE THAT .... OFTEN!! (HOW OFTEN WOULD I ...!).

Calvin states in his peculiar fashion in this context, that "although to our perception God's will is manifold, he does not will this and that in himself, but according to his diversely manifold wisdom, as Paul calls it (Eph.3:10), he strikes dumb our sense until it is given to us to recognize how wonderfully he wills what at the moment seems to be against his will."
 

So He is WILLING what in CHRIST'S OWN WORDS is ONE THING. The will celestially however is quite another. The Father, we evidently are to learn from Calvin at this point,  is NOT doing this. As to this, the Lord's own statement of simplicity and clarity, the theory is:
 

it merely distorts the complex situation which in essence is OTHER and DIVERSE, indeed DIVERGENT. In appearance ? If only in appearance, well: then in reality He is willing just as His son, speaking as commanded BY HIM, is speaking. That is the function of word when it is TRUTH. But if in reality, then the word of the Saviour is countermanded in heaven, and He who is to show God shows what is not TRUE. The ludicrous nature of truth being untrue, we shall leave for the scholars. The fidelity and precision of God is witnessed throughout all scripture, to the contrary, and He stakes His NAME on it! We for our part, in interpreting what He says, will stick FIRST to WHAT He says, both in Christ and elsewhere, and not make yes mean no, and assuredly mean not really!


 

First, however, let us consider Calvin's  quotation from Ephesians 3:10. There the context is this: formerly there was no such clear and manifest notion of Jew-Gentile fellowship in the Gospel as is now revealed. Unsearchable are the riches of Christ, and within them, wide is this amplitude of logical simplicity: the historical fact that first the Jew-Gentile mix was not at all close in the matter of relationship to God - indeed what they were was apart, but now the Jew and the Gentile are in this able to be together. While this is so, it is ONLY so in and because of Christ: the one - the Jewish nation,  having first rejected him, and the other, the Gentiles nations,  at first not knowing of him. They were differently OUT; they are similarly now IN. This WISDOM is indeed manifold, as the apostle states: but it is not in the least obscure!

There is not the slightest issue of DIFFICULTY:  merely it is one of strategic beauty, and glorious composition. It is not in the least a question of what is a flat contradiction becoming uncontradictory, what is a denial becoming an affirmation. It is that what was FOR AN ABSENT REASON, not present, now by the PRESENCE OF THAT REASON, has become operative. Without Christ, they were separate and severed in relationship to God, nation to nations. Now they are not so divided. Why ? It is because they have Christ, the great basis of unity in God, from God, for God.

What then ? Without a cheque book, you COULD not abide the high prices. NOW that you have a well-padded one, you find no problem at all. There is in NEITHER case, the slightest question about clarity or confusion. No means ? then no result: that is all.

The MANIFOLD WISDOM of God, then, is as is stated in Proverbs 8:8: in His words there is NOTHING "wreathed". It is ALL CLEAR to him who understands, we are told. That is what is written. There is the OPPOSITE of clever semantic play; and there the precise contrary of allowing misconception and misconstruction. The words of God are clear to the one who understands them, seeking as silver as in Psalm 119, and what is less clear, as on a fine day looming from the mist, becomes more so.

What is present is the simple need to read what is written, from God, in whom is no iniquity, to examine what it is saying as the speaker gives it out in His chosen place, and to examine all else like it that He has stated. If it is difficult, well. That is quite different from twisted, distorted, the very things that Proverbs EXPLICITLY DENIES to the word of God. It may be hard; it is never wrong. It may challenge ingenuity; it never threatens truth. ONLY by insertion or desertion can that happen! That is the challenge given, and this is the experience found. They are as one.

The ABUSE of this MANIFOLD CONCEPT, by Calvin,  to achieve what the apostle Paul is NOT saying, is if not contemptible, at least confused. People might at times have THOUGHT God would not favour the Gentiles (but He states the opposite often enough in Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 67ff., Isaiah 49 and so on, and relates it in Jonah with the utmost eloquence). People might not have realised that in Christ the result of togetherness would come (but God STATES that Israel is to have a new name, acknowledges they will reject their own Messiah - Isaiah 49:7, resoundingly states that HIS servants will be called by another name while Israel's servants will hunger and thirst, Isaiah 65:13-15, and makes it clear that in Christ will all the justified be covered, whoever and of whatever race they may be - Isaiah 53:6,10-11, 44:5, 45:22-25).

Thus we are not finding a conundrum solved, but a feature focussed, a commencement consummated, so that what He had begun to exhibit, He now exhibits in the utmost detail.

Hence any use of this passage in Ephesians 3:10, which deals centrally with the consummation of the preliminary attestation to the Jew in the Gospel even to the Gentile, to make it appear that God is an author of self-contradiction, or even One who makes statements of a devious, unclear or misleading character, is ludicrous. It is CONSUMMATION that is expressed here, of wisdom already shown, not NEGATION of oddities which were contrary. There is NEVER any question that God's words are not CLEAR to the understanding reader. He may be baulked by his own ineptitude, but not by divine deficiency in that beautiful art of coherent and logical speech.

Further, this appeal is merely trivial. To suggest that because God in fact can engage in progressive revelation, that therefore He can contradict in the most emphatic and direct sense what He is evocatively and potently declaring, is a case of making another sort of speech for the Lord, than that which He claims for Himself, and commends (Isaiah 41,43,44,45,48 are eloquent on His TESTABILITY in DETAIL and NEVER being unclear - so as to be untestable for comparison purposes - or misleading, inaccurate or wrong).

CHRIST as MAN speaking to MEN by DIRECT COMMAND of His eternal Father, as His eternal word, stated His feelings, His wishes and the results. There is no room for talking of a double will, or a confused will, or a forked will. CHRIST SAYS IT IS ONE THING, and CALVIN SAYS IT IS ANOTHER, the direct opposite. It is a choice in this case between Christ and Calvin. Do not even children do this, saying that mummy or daddy REALLY meant that they SHOULD go out when they said they SHOULD NOT, because how manifold (tricky ?) is the will of parents, and how often they ask one to show courage, so yes, one should GO out when told NOT to. This is fiddling and pettifoggery.

When "what is human is transferred to God" says Calvin on Matthew 23:37, as if this "explains" his flat contradiction of the words of the Saviour, that covers it. That is all it is, so we can now know that the thing stated by THE LORD is not final, is not indeed, true. It is suggestive of something; it is not expressive of what it says. What it says, this is intensely asserted as the case, and the One who does it, is the Maker of the case, for one, for all!

Does however this, Christ's being human, then explain it ? that what He says is not the case ? If that were so, then what is God when transferred to man, this too will not ACTUALLY  expose the reality of His character, expression, desire (for that is MOST EMPHATIC HERE) and so on. This represents is a denial of the incarnation, even of its relevance to TRUTH; yet Christ said He was the TRUTH. Now Calvin, carried away in a good cause (to prevent misconception of the power of man), has simply gone too far. Man DOES lack power relative to God, but GOD DOES NOT LACK POWER RELATIVE TO MAN, and in particular, His power of speech is consummate, precise, the subject of challenge in comparison with all other speech for the CLEAR and TESTABLE performance of what it claims.
 

Calvin does not mean so to deny, and if he did, then all his theology, like Barth's, would become illicit, vain, a contradiction of what he affirms. How can God make anything clear if this will, emotion and desire cannot be made clear because as a PERSON SENT FROM HEAVEN AND INCARNATED ON EARTH AS A MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE, He cannot convey the actualities of the situation! The race having been manufactured thus, in this format, He cannot speak His mind ?  (Amos 3:6-8, 4:13, Jeremiah 23:15-24, Isaiah 44:24-26, Proverbs 8:8). How much LESS could He have done so, if this were so, through the prophets, for this so obscure 'reason', then! Since the prophets  were mere men, sinners to boot, how much LESS could they convey reality, truth, if God Himself AS MAN, in the image created for just such a thing (Isaiah 51:6-16) as reputed here is to be UNABLE to communicate better than the opposite of what He means!


Calvin did not mean it (the implications, we assume, based on his other utterances); but he said it. Be warned you people -ism followers, you devotees of this or that, just because many Christians are indubitably excellent in much. Look to the head, not the shoulders! (cf. Hebrews 12:1). Calvin erred in this point, and one simply shows its enormity, not to make him appear heretical, but to show the grandeur of the error, contrary to his normal thought, into which he falls in his endeavours, misguided and misled, to avoid the teaching of the Saviour (not again, that he intended this, but he accomplished it!).  If Calvin could so err, let us all be careful, NOT to 'make' God mean what He either does not say, or the opposite of what He does! Let us read what is written, and find what is stated, and follow it, not some alternative, philosophically induced, in plain contrast to both the text and the terms it employs, such as  affirmation and negation!

Further, who is Calvin and who is any, to make it appear that when the Saviour is doing one thing, God in some OTHER way is so MANIFOLD in 'wisdom' that to HIS OWN WORD in the flesh, He is opposing a flat contradiction! Is God not then God ? But CHRIST IS in His own Person God ? Will God have a double mouth ? Will He so invest and invent a situation (incarnation) that His truth is lost and His mouth is not! This is for God to DENY HIMSELF, statedly and logically impossible! (cf. II Timothy 2:13; see SMR pp. 25ff., 581ff., Barbs, Arrows and Balms  6).

Indeed, says Calvin, God does not will this and that in Himself! This is news! His will is so manifold that it is excluded from being this or that: Read Isaiah 30:8ff., and see. The very vocalisation of the word of God and His infinite backing to its jots and tittles (Matthew 5:17ff., Isaiah 34:16, 59:21 etc. and see SMR Appendix D) means the precise opposite. What He knows is operative as He speaks, and He speaks what is true where truth is relevant, and He upbraids (John 8;40,44,46!) those who do not LISTEN to HIM a man who told them the truth! Yet how could He do so, if He was so inferior a representative of the divine word that the actuality of the thought of God was too manifest, manifold, to be reduced to mere speech! HOW HAVE a word if this were so, or incarnate it if jumbled semantics were the consequence, and clear unequivocal, even emphatic utterance of plainest kind were unreliable as to one little thing: that it accorded with FACT!

Mr Calvin, unfortunately though you have an objective, here, of some concern,  the price is too high, and the means are not right.

Now let us consider the reality of the word of God: GOD is indeed deep and masterful and marvellous, but PART of that WONDER is this, that He can SAY what He means and DO (accordingly) what HE SAYS, so that it OCCURS, the laboratory, the acid test (Isaiah 41,48)!


All this precludes any such nonsense as in this case, Calvin here falls into. Even the righteous man can fall seven times! Why worship man! Let us instead turn to the word of God, return to it and keep turning to it, for it is the TRUTH.

Calvin is of course utterly correct in rebuking those who want to make it appear GOD HAS TO ACT in this or that way towards all. However this is not that: GOD WANTS to act in this way towards all, and says so. HOW He works that out in history is His affair, and my Predestination and Freewill shows how it COULD happen, simply to remove any question of logical congestion. But that He knows how to be chaste and desirous would not appear too remarkable. All human love is informed with the same thing. However His sovereign majesty and double predestination of all needs no such help as this! (cf. I Peter 2:7-8, Romans 9:15-16 with 9:12!).

Let us not then throw away the power of Christ to SPEAK what His Father commanded, and BE the truth, and SPEAK the truth, in order to depart with some show of reverence from what that truth, in this matter, actually IS! It is all gloriously consistent, utterly delightful and by ANY alteration for ANY reason, it is like a beautiful design, spoiled. See on this also Predestination and Freewill. The word of God is indeed VERY PURE, refined seven times.

It is indeed regrettable that a man of the stature of Calvin should have made such mistakes, but it is a lesson, never to be so concerned for the appearance of difficulty (felt for some reason or other) as to actually CONTRADICT the word of God! He has His OWN answers; OUR part is to take it as it comes, not give such accolades that the meaning is reversed through sheer supremacy! as if speech were an art form divorced from deity when attempted to man, even by Himself as one of them: by incompetence of purpose, plan or equipment!
 
 

THE SECOND (2)

 

However in Calvin's Commentary on Romans, we have an allied error. It all seems to stem from the same misplaced fear, but the coherence of the parallel errors in this case is not admirable. Here, in commenting on Romans 1:17, Calvin advises us as follows: "In order that we may be loved by God we must first be righteous, for He hates unrighteousness. The meaning is, therefore, that we can obtain salvation from no other source than the Gospel..." This is in flamboyant contrast with Romans 5:8, the whole thrust of which is this: that amazing as it may seem, and beyond the highest human love expressed in sacrifice for what seems noble, God's love comes for what is INTRINSICALLY BAD! He loves the BAD in order to make it good, because it is His, and He made it and this is the nature of His heart's yearning (as in Lamentations 3:33, Ezekiel 33:11, I Timothy 2:1-6, Matthew 23:37 concerning which also, see SMR Appendix B for a fuller exposition).

It is NOT being said IN THE BIBLE, that God does not love until righteousness appears in the sinner; but the exact opposite. His love appears DESPITE THE ABSENCE of goodness in the object, indeed despiteits PROFOUND absence; and  He commends His love to us in this, that He died for us EVEN in such a deplorable condition as that in which we were. NOTHING commended us. His LOVE commends itself in this, that when that was OUR position, THIS was HIS! In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Calvin does seem to have real trouble with the love of God! His exposition in this case of Romans 1:17 is precisely opposite to the divine affirmation, relative to what GOD is willing to love! Now it is TRUE that He loves righteousness, and it is also true that He MAKES the convert righteous by imputation, and makes FOR righteousness by planting with His own hands, and giving a right seed (I John 3:9), so that the sinner is both pardoned judicially and enabled dynamically, albeit in the latter regard, only imperfectly, yet with scope for growth and for maturity and for depth!

Romans 1:17 is actually NOT saying this about the love of God, not even mentioning it. In the preceding verse 16, the word of God is telling us things about the Gospel, including this, that it brings into force and focus a power with a special purpose, salvation. Here in v. 17, it is explaining things, starting with -  'for'.

We learn therefore in verse 17 of Romans 1, that the Gospel's being the power of God with the payload of salvation, relates to its revealing righteousness, "from faith to faith", so that "the just shall live by faith". This is explained further in Romans 3:23ff.. Meanwhile what is "from faith to faith" ? From the faith of prophet to the faith of the reader, comes the faith in the Lord to salvation, according as a man is called: this is one rendering. Again, it can mean that faith reads of this wonder and this opening its eyes further, reads yet more, going from strength to strength. It may mean both. Faith is used to evoke faith, the work of faith in the word being the way of faith to the reader.

This is the apparent thrust. When no limit appears, no ground except utter constraint can exclude different vistas of meaning. Whichever emphasis however one takes, and the stresses cohere, and this by no means is to be assumed to exhaust the COMPLEMENTARY beauties of this verse, the word of God  is not here saying or even implying that God loves only what is righteous!

His love does not DALLY, it is true, for ever with wickedness or the flesh would fail before Him (Genesis 6); and the conscience may be seared as with a hot iron, in those who reject the love of the truth (II Thessalonians 2, I Timothy 4:2, II Timothy 4:3). Yes, but this is not the teaching Calvin raises here, in his unheroic treatment of this text.

These two parallel importations into the Bible, one by force of contradiction and one by force of addition, do nothing to adorn the name of the scholar; but they do show, in view of his prodigious brilliance and helpfulness in so many fields, the need to go slow on 'ISMS'! Calvinism and the rest are, we remind ourselves (as in Repent or Perish 1), simply forbidden (I Cor. 3).

Finally, even if it seem repetitive after Predestination and Freewill and The Kingdom of Heaven 4, let us realise that the SYSTEM of the 5 points of Calvin is NOT involved in this error, improper or lax means of preserving it never having been required (as shown in the above references, together with SMR Appendix B). They, for their part,  are a splendid array, seen in the light of the Bible as diversely shown throughout this site.

How pure is the word of God (Psalm 12, 111, 119), which for its part, NEVER ERRS, and how marvellous is the Lord who NEVER FAILS, and whose word is NOT WREATHED, contrived or imprecise, but rather soars like a space craft, perfect in comprehension, diligent in disposition, incorruptible in content.

Alas! it is man not God who can be 'manifold' in this sense, of being inconsistent! The word of God, for His part, is pure, seven times refined, not prolix. That is what it says, and what one finds. It is perfect in grace and nobility, in consistency and in depth; it challenges, but not by obscurity; it hammers, but not with dull noise. It is a precise instrument, and it reveals a love of righteousness and of the unrighteous, each in his or her place, so that the end result gains what is to be gained, but the initial outlay is something very different, enormously expensive, wholly sacred, and foreknown in the wisdom of God, in all its outcomes.

Indeed, WHOM He foreknew, not in works but in reality (Romans 8:28ff., 9:11), He set about predestining! This is the logical sequence. THAT is the order which it says. Who is He ? He tells us that He is love (I John 4:7ff.), In Colossians 1:19ff., He shows it in that vast all universe expedition in the cross, sole competence for any sinner. What then ? It is NOT to be sure, that love is He; but that HE is love: for it is HE who gives to love its very definition, as to faithfulness, for in each there is no alloy (James 1:17, Deuteronomy 32:4).

"For it pleased that Father than in Him {Christ} all the fulness should dwell,
and by Him, to reconcile all things to Himself,
by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven,
having made peace through he blood of His cross..."

Yet it is HE who knows: "YOU have not chosen ME, but I have chosen you!" (John 15).

For the harmony and significance of these things in the beauty of the Lord's unique holiness, see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4, SMR Appendix B and SMR Ch.8, initial pages, and The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, End-note 2, Repent or Perish Ch.1, End-note 1, together with Predestination and Freewill. In the end, we are all relevant to God (He does not know nothings!), but our  'virtues' do not in this domain of salvation, register; and His will is the determinant, not forcing man by violence, nor yet indulging man as if his were autonomy. In the end, He is the sovereign and it is His will which is done; it is His will that those saved are thus saved, that He and He alone justifies by grace, through faith, on the basis of His redemption as sacrifice and His resurrection as authentic; but He is the loving sovereign whose will is that man, not some enticed substitute, might be saved.