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A BIRTHDAY GIFT
The greatest birthday gift this world has ever seen or could see is that of the salvation, for millenia predicted to be accomplished, for centuries the time for it foretold, a work of God. Man was the beneficiary, though the will required unqualified acceptance and acknowledgement that it was ENTIRELY a gift, and not a co-operative effort, each a kind of co-saviour! Some are misled enough to say things like this: the THOUGHT was yours and the effort, but when I received the gift, that was the other half of the battle, and jointly we have done it all! Whoever thought that the merit of the gift could lie in part in being willing to admit as a pauper the need of divine wealth, and as a spectator the necessity of victory, and then claiming a hand in it! Yet they do, and that is why some never know if they will 'hold' since if the gift is partly in the reception, then who can tell but God, and there is no confidence!
In fact, the gift comes with an address delivery component, as Christ declared, no man can receive it unless it be granted by the Father. It all depends on ONE THING: that is the KNOWLEDGE of God, who grants it where there is room, where the premises are foreknown to be vacant, the need total and recognised or recognisable, and no claim to name or fame whatsoever comes to the recipient. NONE, says Paul, therefore, are able to BOAST (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is ALL (by grace through faith) as the Greek declares, and therefore there is no occasion to boast. With the gift comes the grace for it, and both are foreknown, so that the divine yearning is not forestalled by human deception, deviousness or unrepentant superficiality. The principles are ALL of grace, ONLY through faith, the entirety NOT of yourselves, but this in the light of the divine desire for all (Colossians 1:19), and the necessity of TOTAL capitulation, nothing of the old nature a contributor, its merits nil for all, its gift total for any.
What then can any of us do ? Calling on the name of the Lord and be saved by faith through His grace, would desires all and takes what receives Him, a person is in the very midst of salvation; and that Name is that of DEITY itself, transferring Himself through His word from the form of God to that of man, and dying on a Cross.
Is there no transmission ? Of course there is. Any who so receives has welling up in the heart, the passion for the transmission of this bounty to others. Here it is in words.
Yesterday was my 83rd birthday, and so contrary to the norm, I am making a little gift, in terms of the wonder of the love of God, its extent, the failure of the will of man, and its results, and the power of God in His Gospel to salvation, leaving none with a whimper for extenuation, a ground for rebellion or a reason for lack of hope. It all comes to focus in Christ, in the Gospel, that decretum mirabile, that marvellous decree, that glorious exhibit of the unrestrained love of God. In a wisdom unique it is given, one which is capable of resolving all the whimpers, whines and contests of man, since in its perfection, it is incomparable, making all contention against it irrational, like that of a child who having had one ice-cream, screams for two, or who, rejected in this, declares that the parent is so mean that no ice-cream at all is really given; and then contests that it is perfectly right to say so.
God loved the world, and so despite its appalling condition, acted.
God SO loved the world, that in acting, He presented not a help but the solution to the basis and dynamic of all its woes (Romans 5, 8).
God so loved in this extreme, that to His own
He descended to the greatest gift to man,
to the point of giving the guilt and death man deserved, to His Son,
on earth in His name, sinless, eternal in life, and free,
so that through the throes of His own earthly death, it might be cancelled. Thus and then the power of God is invested without limit in man, to do His will once more (John 3:15ff., 1:12ff., Colossians 3:8-10).
God, in giving, gave so greatly that that not
only was the gift His only begotten Son,
there being no casual relationship of God to man, but it was by death He prevailed;
so that it was not only from the heights, but to the depths He voyaged in love,
the children of man the objects of His bounty.
The gift thus was one as high as the
heavens in source and low as the depths in application:
this one epochal, universally applicable gift, the Word of God who made man,
now Himself incarnate for man (Philippians 2, Colossians 1:15ff).
No greater gift is possible, greater love is conceivable, greater ransom and relief is rationally to be construed.
Therefore to speak of a 'horrible decree' whereby God impresses at this level, a non-love because of love's limits on mankind (as in the unbiblical mysteries of John Calvin, helpful expositor but here greatly astray), or on some section of it, is straight contradiction of the word of God, distortion of the love of God and a ringing falsehood before heaven and earth. It is to be resisted to the uttermost for the sake firstly of truth, secondly of the love of God, and thirdly of the reassurance of man.
It is also to be exposed since it gives false impetus to the self-pity of man, the irresponsibility and makes the mystery of the limitless extent and quality of the love of God, turn into a very different one: namely WHY He did NOT SO love a part of the world, even though His statement is precisely in coverage, atmosphere and tenor the exact opposite: "the world" in a coverage of GOD and the WORLD as the topic, just as it is things in heaven and in earth, which are the scope of the coverage of the good pleasure of God for reconcilation. How far is this desire ? It is to ALL THINGS, and Paul stresses the coverage by giving it in sections, the terrestrial and the celestial. .
But what of the reduced domain for the scope of this salvation desire on the part of God ? what of that of the horrible decree of Calvin, who puts 'mystery' in place of grandiose gifting for the will of God ? This type of error also removes part of the extreme and consistent extent of the testimony of unique rationality and righteousness in God, who satisfies not only justice for those who receive this, His Gospel, but provides through it, all that any man could hope for in terms of pardon, peace and divine concern; and hence it is a foul on the one hand, relative to the word of God, and a fulcrum on the other, to diminish its force: and all to the contrary of this part of the Gospel. HOW HE could SO love is gloriously incalculable in wonder, to inspire the soul; but it is far from a problem, being insteada the solution of problems in outreach, motivation, concept and conclusion. NONE is forced; ALL are invited; none is one too many; none is required despite reality, for if they prefer the highways and the byways, God who knows before any sin was, what is in the heart of any and all, pre-test, and beyond all tests, gives all to what clings to nothing.
God makes it superabundantly clear (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff., II Timothy 1:8ff.), that the ACTUAL RESULTANTS of His SO loving the world, in His kindness to mankind, were all complete before creation, and that there is neither diminution in the extent of this love, since God does not change, at that point or any other, nor loss of any whom it finds, as it seeks all. Christ does not change, does not cease to be deity here or there, now or then (Hebrews 13, John 17, 5:17ff., 8:58,Colossians 1:15ff). There IS result from the APPLICATION of this love in the formalised format of the Gospel; and that is as clear as is anything else: namely that those who do NOT receive it are then apt not only for the judgment due to sin, but for the finale of it, in making pertinacious their departure, rejecting even free salvation. So it is that the wrath of God abides on them (John 3:15-18,36). With all known from eternity, God has acted in time (Isaiah 44:6-8,48:3ff., 41:21ff., Acts 15:18, Ephesians 1:4).
Known before time as we have it, God does not foreclose the issue without love, but ordains it through love, the Christ who cried, HOW OFTEN would I have gathered you! unchanged as deity not only in time, but in eternity, not only on earth, but in heaven, not only in giving salvation, but participating in its counsel, not only by gracious works following the Father, but by actualising the results of divine foreknowledge, wrought with the desire by deity specified for ALL (I Tim. 2:1ff., Col. 1:19ff.) both in principle and in the outcome department of history, where the tests of truth are made apparent in the time of exposure, while history expands into being.
God, in accord with these biblical facts, makes it apparent that in acting, He is not the servant of disputatious delinquents, who may wish Him to change the Gospel for their benefit (Galatians 1:6ff.), who may desire Him to be entreated or even seduced into changing things to the benefit of those who want something less liable to truth or more congratulatory to man, in ANY direction.
In parallel with this, He is sovereign of the entire saving schema, quality and application, and despite man's sin, knows man beyond his own soul, so that when He acts to liberate any, releasing the will from its intrusive pre-occupation with sin (John 6:38ff.), it is by fiat, and not by a psychic whirl-pool (John 1:12). That is all clear before the ages were. In accord with this, He does not resign AS God, in order to save, nor breach His own word in order to indulge a fantasy of exclusion before and beyond Gospel. Instead, He operates on STATED PRINCIPLES with a STATED MOTIVATION and at stated COST and the quality control is in Himself, the resultants are known to Him personally and applied with the same unequivocal zeal. Therefore each one, single one, secured from the storms of sin, the deceptions of deviousness and the desire for a better surrender package, is a source of the uttermost joy in heaven, not as mere atoms embraced, but as what is precious in the sight of God who SO loved this world, yes things on earth and in heaven, that He SO gave the Saviour, even to the point of death.
These things are to be read together, none denied, for each is affirmed in the Bible as clearly as the sun at noon on a clear day. The use and indeed the abuse of philosophy in order to seek to make it appear that some one proposition contradicts another is merely to elevate man's thought to the heights of God's which is statedly ludicrous, or profane (Isaiah 55 is emphatic here). Moreover, there is no cause but confusion or rebellion for this, in the first place; for intense indeed is the harmony of these propositions, taken right from the Bible, and in no case befouled or stricken, whether by addition, OR subtraction. Thus efforts make the sovereignty of God in some way to contradict His own SOVEREIGN SPEECH are as misleading in the Calvinist direction as are efforts to make the will of man determinative (contrary to John 1:12) on the Arminian side.
Neither side has the scriptural balance, each rightly stressing some points in generic principle (the one, the sovereignty, the other the love, but it is a loving God who is sovereign), but wrongly extending them where they are biblically excluded, according to the autonomous disposition of their own minds. This wrongs the love or the sovereignty of the living God who IS love, and whose way and word is unchangeable whether for this or that, being pure from the first, and valiant in victory to the last.
Indeed, God's word is ever internally harmonious, rationally incomparable, emotionally lavishly satisfying, glorious in grace, magnificent in love, unseducible in justice, salubrious in spirit, longing in revealing His heart (cf. Isaiah 48:16ff., Ezekiel 33:11, I Timothy 4:10, Luke 19:42ff.), wise in understanding, commanding repentance not suggesting it; and with this, the Gospel for all, sufficient, applicable and profound, remains untouched and unscarified. It is enough that Christ be crucified, without extending the privilege to His written word.
Accordingly, nothing exempted from its dire relevance, or results, if this love and salvation, gift and glory, be slighted. Cross a road blindfold if you will, using philosophy's additives for your plight, deceived by your blinding, binding glasses; but never dare in truth or honesty,
|to abash the love
of God for all the world in terms of the genuine thrust of salvation,
without limit, precisely as Colossians 1:19ff. determines, demands and emphatically insists;
|to minimise the
decisive resolution of His own principles in application to any and to all,
as if His will were subject to snooping, beyond the principles articulated,
or the will of man though currently inoperative in the unredeemed,
were irrelevant to Him,
who way beyond the power of man in his sin, and the devastations of time,
is seen, known and never distorted by Himself: for it is all wrought, for himself,
who not only has but IS love (I John 4:7ff.), and in Himself, whose is truth.
none outside HIS motivation and application, being found deviously misplaced,
in heaven, anomalous as a refuge, or or sadly outside His life for ever,
a grievous error!.
As to man, it is NOT as if despite his sin-sickness (Ephesians 2, 4), His contemporary desire could autonomously lead on to the result, or indeed contribute anything of its own merit or power, since it is God who before creation and creation apart, has known man as he is, and not as he imagines himself to be, each one; and before sin, there is no relative merit, for it is sin which introduces evil, and so distortion.
An Amplitude of immutable beauty is the love of God; a constriction of just integrity is in its application, where none is duped. Indeed, a removal of the criteria of force, of distortion and of partiality in mere preference in God beyond the Gospel and its sacred sources, is lovingly ensured (Matthew 15:13ff., John 18:36ff., Matthew 23:37ff., Isaiah 48:16ff.), and of this we are assured. Thus the integrity of God in word and deed, amplitude of love and decisiveness of operation is deliciously sustained. What He says, He does in this field as in any other; and what comes to mankind is an affair of the heart in longing, of the mind in securing, of the Spirit in application and of the word of God in clarification: ALL of it.
These things have often been presented on this site, in places such as
Predestination and Freewill,
To Know God ... Ch. 1,
and in many other places as seen in the INDEX;
but here, in birthday mode, it is a little gift, the work of little more than a moment to read.