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NUTSHELL PREDESTINATION AND FOREKNOWLEDGE
HARMONY IN ACTUALITY
The making of man was a work of God's imagination, desire, discernment and love, in that God IS love and nothing elemental to Him is otherwise. Judgment a correlative to the corruption of what, in antipathy bent, is redeemable only by the divestment of the image of God altogether, This, however, is not its restoration, but instead would be a work of rampant and devastating force on the soul, not love. This is not what God does, for which we should be eternally grateful. Nor will He fracture the divine image gifted to man, by such assault.
The actual unmaking of man, to remove the glory of liberty which God created, in making man in His image, was a work of devastation, wrought by man himself, putting him into a clash of concept, operation and relationship with the rest of the creation, and most importantly, with God. It was wrought through the freedom God created, so that it is not a question of the operation of past things in a life, or dominant things in a life, or desecratory remnants from sin in a life, or any other deterministically conceivable consequences of the fall of man. The test was a matter of liberty itself, liberty divinely gifted to this creation of God. This, it is not tilted, not twisted and not forged from disposing ingredients at all, but as made, so operative, liberty the creation of God, enabling love and exhibiting where the soul is ranged in each individual case.
How then does God choose His people from those not His people ? when they are in their historical living, tainted negatively towards truth and born that way (Psalm 51, Ephesians 2, 4) ?
It is not in the tender age then that the answer lies, as if man arises from the ashes of conception, being very young; but in the sovereign knowledge of God, who not only chooses
1) WHAT to make in the case of that in His image, man, but
2) HOW to make it, and
3) of WHAT to make it, man being in body from the elements made, AND
from the presence of spirit, and mind, given likewise, forming the image of God.
Then this being done, and the whole race having fallen from the first, by surreptitious folly, and through deceptive entreaty, touching the very throne of God, and His character, in the ultimate subversion (Romans 5), we turn to the Book of the Lord (Isaiah 34) to find out what God did in sovereign selection of His people, in His own way and depth. So far there has been ONE ACT of human preference, and it has been on ONE POINT, to be like God knowing good and evil, and to set up a semi-independent judgment position, to gain advantage of some kind, beyond normative relationship with God (Genesis 3, where the implications of the devil's speech and Eve's acceptance are vast, when examined!).
There is ONE RESULT as forecast to this misuse of the test apparatus, a tree with fruit, and that was named before the test, or challenge, or opportunity to exercise the wonder of the liberty supernaturally granted, and sovereignly dispensed. It is death. It is the cessation of life itself before the Judge, who so acts in terms of the liberty given, and the disposal of life according to a punitive situation, where only mercy can remain, for life.
The death is a spiritual one at once, for what is MEANT for living with and for God, when no longer so disposed to live, is dead at the core (cf. Ephesians 2:1-12, 4:17-19, Romans 7).
Bodily death follows. Social death makes its own exhibits of this state, and efforts to cure this without God are in vain, hence the horrors of history, both from individuals and their social potential.
God, being love, does not sever for ever, routinely, as without heart, what was made in His image. His concern is great, and indeed He not only foreknew all, since nothing escapes His attention who made all the components and their operative options, but foreknew who would receive such mercy and who would not, even the time in which these would be displayed.
It was not a mere intellectual experiment, for WHOM HE FOREKNEW, in Romans 8:30, refers to individual persons as such, and He is personal likewise, man being in His image. Each person is foreknown, who that one is, and what, and what is the preference, in terms of the criterion: even this, that darkness was loved rather than light; or not. THIS IS the condemnation, this love of the one more than the other, a preferential reality in each personality made. Before out kind of time is so much as created (Ephesians 1:4), God, we read, knows in advance who are His. In fact, He has chosen them.
But IN so choosing, what is the criterion by which a person may attain to condemnation, despite the love specified to the uttermost, in John 3:16 ? It is that place in the arrangement of things left to the image of God bearers, to differentiate, and it is ONLY GOD who knows, since man in that phase of divine foreknowledge, is not even created. If, God being light, man prefers darkness, this constitutes the condemnation.
In that pre-creation allotment of divine activity, what is the condition of man ? It is, being before creation, and thus before fall. It is one of complete innocence as made in God's image, without addition, subtraction or development, before our time, and here, hypostatically, man stands before God. He is foreknown, not merely pre-formulated.
Man then is free, for the disposition of his preference. There is no merit in being free, for that was a given item to one as to all, in the creation, and there is no superiority intrinsically in preferring light, since if there were, there would be no liberty, merely an outworking of an input, making of divine love an irrelevancy to the point at issue, and the divine price paid for redemption, a divine blunder. It would have been God's doing entirely that they fell, as in the Moslem disposition of things, there being no parley with man there, or comparability in any shape, form or manner, or in terms of any implication (Surah 42:11); and hence it would all be His business what He was about, and this with all the consequences of this creation-induced fall. In that, there is no image of God BY divine creation, surpassing such limits! It is another matter altogether.
Such is however not the case, since to attribute folly to God, and evil, is neither biblical nor logical, as if with all the attribution of guilt, there was in fact only fraud, and with all the expositions of human sin, there were a pseudo-divine special pleading.
Thus we find that is the case with the souls created free, in this divine model of man, the only one which both has internal harmony and external application without failure or fault, the one IN the Bible. It is this. They have no superiority in themselves, not being SET to fall or not to fall, to prefer light or not to prefer it, but actually so PREFER as a function of freedom, so that is preference rightly named, and does not constitute an anomaly, parading as if it were a preference, and not a necessity. Its presence is not parade, but practicality and actuality, and God made it so.
Let us ponder from a perspective then of liberty and creation and God the sovereign, the lover and the kindler of mercy, the situation in terms of the divinely specified foreknowledge, which as in Romans 8:30, has predestination, logically subsequent to it.
The God of creation is sovereign massively, but let us consider some of the ways in which He is so, in the biblical presentation, on which we wait in all points, to be faithful to each of them, neither aborting any nor adding.
God is in this His own model for man, which with man is made at His own hand,
1) sovereign in making a universe precisely as He pleases (Psalm 115, Isaiah 43:13),
with no concession to anyone or to anything.
2) sovereign in making man in this universe, supreme in the domain of life, under Himself.
3) sovereign in making man free, so that He may prefer or not, this or that, in matters that are not elementally constitutive, as if he could make a different kind of mind or body or spirit. Nevertheless, he is so made that he may love, prefer and freely opt at the ultimate level for his life.
4) sovereign in making the cost of abuse of freedom, namely to sever the elementally necessary ties with God, into a non-vital residue, what it was.
5) sovereign in deciding whether or not to show mercy.
6) sovereign in showing what KIND of mercy and what KIND of application and content, it would have.
7) sovereign in doing these things not suppositionally, as if a mere plan for possible implementation, for known to God are all His works before the foundation of the world, but with certitude, decision and precision (cf. Isaiah 46:8, Acts 15:18), and without subjection to anything, this being His own will (Romans 11:36, Ephesians 1:11). There is room neither for review nor parley, in the ultimate reality foreknown by God.
8) sovereign in placarding the Gospel to man, this rather than any other Gospel (Galatians 12:6-9), in making it freely available, earnestly entreating man to receive it, AS HE LIVES (Ezekiel 33:11), so that He weeps (as in Jeremiah 48:29-35, Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff.), even laments, this being contrary to His entire wish (John 3:17), that the world might be saved, for which purpose, within the confines of His own love and without mere bucolic force, He gave His only begotten Son. He did not come to stomp, but to save; He did not come out of surgical sovereignty to impose Himself selectively, but to love and to seek and to find.
Love is like that (I Corinthians 13).
9) sovereign in choosing so to lament, rather than impinge imperially on the naked soul of fallen man.
10) sovereign in penetrating the thick darkness of the fallen soul of man through the conviction of His Spirit and the glory of the Gospel (John 16:7-13), so that what He has foreknown in truth, is implemented in history, where the opportunity in the Gospel arrives, this Gospel being selected to cover the earth before He comes in judgment (Matthew 24:14).
11) sovereignly in His own discovery and finding of His own (Acts 13:48, John 6:65).
12) sovereign in His own dismissal of charges against these, in terms of His own and only Gospel (Romans 5).
13) sovereign in KNOWING, indeed FOREKNOWING before time and man and fall began, those who are His own, not guessing, not estimating, but knowing with no room for equivocation or error on His part or any other, and hence
14) sovereign in the WAY He foreknew, the preference being not a matter of limited human ascertainment, as if God were man, but of divine splendour in its intimacy and certainty, immediacy, so that the condemnation is THIS, that light has come and man has preferred darkness.
15) sovereign in this also, that what the light is, and what the darkness is, is His and not some human or other construction, and HOW He knows the preference directly relates to the condemnation, for being without light is impossible to life eternal, an anomaly that is an atrocity, like placing a tender hand on a dog suffering from rabies, or a pat on the head of an assailant; and being enlightened is the work of grace, exhibited in history in due course, without ultimate rejection.
In the midst of such considerations as these, then, God has chosen and biblically shown Himself to act. It has seemed good to Him, then, that in Christ all the fulness should dwell; and having made peace by the blood of His cross, to reconcile all things to Himself, to reconcile all things to Himself - by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven. That is His own disposition (Colossians 1:19ff.), and should any be disposed to argue, then that is to challenge God's self-depiction with a fiction; for these are the very words, set in red, above.
God does not recommend a doublemindedness (James 1:2-8), nor does He exhibit one.
That is the way the matter lies with Him, in His truth, and that therefore is the way it is. In love He who is love (I John 4:7ff) in His own disposition, has predestined, based on this foreknowledge before all time. The predestination is not a horrible thing as Calvin foolishly imagined*1, but a glorious institution of a grace which cannot fail, being founded and grounded in the love of God, whose supervision of the entire matter is so perfect, and whose application of His own undiscriminatory love is so profound, that predestination ensures what He foreknows is what comes to pass. In His love, He discerns who are His own, and discriminates correctly who are His, and in so doing is not in the least prejudicial, as if acting blindly through alien considerations, such as strength or wit or elements of greatness.
Rather, it is in truth that He discriminates, but is not discrimininatory in so doing. The latter term is chosen rather than discriminative, for this term is more open to meaning - showing ability to see what is what. What is excluded is not that, but a mere preference for putting what is not in place of what is what. Excluded in Christ, in the heart of God, is any distortion in terms of light, which shows all. His is the very Spirit of Truth, through which what is is to be sought, and may be found, being available in the Lord Himself (John 16:13-16).
We have seen something of the sovereignty of God, and how He has sovereignly desired to act, and in what terms, with what sort of a creation in man, what sort of a mercy, kind of a Gospel, and how deep and ultimate is His desire to reconcile ALL things, whether on earth or in heaven, to Himself. Confusion of history and foreknowledge, AS of predestination and horror, are unfortunate developments, human misalignments.
God DID make man in His own image; DID make him able to love and hate; did make a provision for such liberty and for the abuse of it; DID exercise Himself to the uttermost to overcome the transcendent evil of preferring darkness; DID NOT came in rampaging or as engaging in some mystery, grabbing souls. Rather, He came seeking that the world be saved, and that each individual soul made might be saved, and DID come with love seeking for the lost, both seeking and finding. The mystery is not why He chooses some and not others, but THAT He should bother to choose any, for all is a wonder of love and of grace from first to last. That He does not choose the one who prefers darkness is no mystery, looking back in foreknowledge, for would it not be as hell to be held under duress ultimate where the heart does not go!
THE UNIQUE DURABILITY OF THE BIBLICAL SYSTEM
Such is the biblical system, such the depiction, and it leaves the biblical model alone as what meets every question, with the God who loves what He has made, provides for it and pays for its deliverance, this not by mere fiat, but by informed fiat, exercised in terms of a love which exempts none from the openness to judgment, and none whom love might find, from being found, and all from errors in the process. Paying, He has paid all, sufficient for all (I John 2:1-2), effective for any (Acts 2:21, Romans 3:21-27, 5:1-12, Titus 2-3); and if He were to change to accommodate this or that sin, then heaven with Himself would disappear, being good for none; nor is the option even real, since time itself is a creation, an endowment made, where what is eternal may be illustrated, and what is to be found, may be exhibited, where God may be glorified, or not preferred.
It is an Eternal Entity in whom eternal life may be granted, despite sin, gained freely by those receiving His offer of Himself in sacrifice and rupture of death (Romans 10:9, Hebrews 9:12). For this open gain to be lost, there is to the knowledge of God, a negative discrimination against Him and His pardon (John 3:19), in the unbelieving person's own heart, as known both ultimately, intimately and finally to the Eternal God (cf. SMR Ch. 1). Thus such a soul most sadly remains lost, abortive of love.
Thus is the meaning of freedom preserved, the reality of responsibility, the disposition of divine power in equity and love, the exercise of mercy, not fitfully but in pure principal, the meaning of individuality and the value of man's soul, the reality of sovereignty and its glorious exercise all shown together. It is not a mere mental exercise, for you could not have such things, were they not enacted, and to enact them there is none but the sovereign God who made man and this universe, who could do it. That, though very great, is in some ways, even a small part of the total: the grand thing surely is this, that He not only is so placed, as to be able to do such things, but that He DID them. It is easy to assuage in words; it is hard to sacrifice in deeds. It is hard to sacrifice in deeds, and to be honoured for it; but to do so and to be dishonoured for it, as if the love were weakness or the equity were injustice, this is a grandeur of spirit worthy of God, beyond the greatness of man, who is always to be excavated from the caves of error. With God, there was no excavation, no negative, no hindrance and no gain. Love is like that. It loves what it seeks, and in gaining it, does so freely indeed.
It is easy to assuage in words; it is hard to sacrifice in deeds. It is hard to sacrifice in deeds, and to be honoured for it; but to do so and to be dishonoured for it, as if the love were weakness or the equity were injustice, this is a grandeur of spirit worthy of God, beyond the greatness of man, who is always to be excavated from the caves of error. With God, there was no excavation, no negative, no hindrance and no gain. Love is like that. It loves what it seeks, and in gaining it, does so freely indeed.
The secularist has no way to find freedom, and hence in that domain, determinism and voluntarism eternally argue, since each has faults without God: the determinist to find the cause of laws, and the voluntarist to find the access for freedom. The religionist may be of many hues, but only when there is the God who does, and is not a fancy of symbols and emblems and ideas and imaginations, but the God of creation and hence power to do His will without limit, and to create freedom on His own sole, account, is there adequate basis.
For what ? for man's endless attestations of freedom, guilt, responsible weighing of priorities and preferences, love of casuistries and their detection, and expectations of finding truth, which cannot be when the mind is clouded with operative limits to truth, to reality, such as having to find in itself a basis for all things, when it is merely part of them, and unable as such to transcend them. It is when these aspirations, and pro-or contra-model expectations meet God that they make sense; but then it is a sense profound, for what man acts so as to assume he cannot find or state truth itself, even if only in saying it is true that that there is no truth!
Then principial follies stay no more, except in the heart of man and others who may choose unreason. In His word, the Bible, God provides grounds, covering many things not thought of, issues not explicit, in that lordly way truth has when it is taken to heart.
Leaving such due duress, due for the omission of the cause of the temporal in the Eternal God, we come then to the One who not only has the ground for created being, but for causation, logic, system, interactive law, intelligence and freedom alike, being the basis for truth, expressed in the Bible with its own more than sufficient, elegantly elevated attestation, validation and verification (cf. SMR, TMR, The gods of naturalism have no go!, Deity and Design... and
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).
See also Index Mini, Validation, and Jesus Christ,
Defaced ... Ch. 4,
with Barbs, Arrows and Blessings 6 - 7.
The God who not only has power
to create law and freedom and their relationships according to stated and testable criteria, never altering His exposition and command, and with this
as likewise to make DNA with its endless seeming commands, integrated, concatenated, make integral to the extent of a person's whole body, and this as part of a trilogy of mind, matter and spirit; but also
but the love (Galatians 6:14, John 3)
to regard His creation, man, not for selfish advantage, but for due fulfilment in his designed and designated state, through enormous sacrifice at the personal level, His own, so that even folly has remedy, and liberty is not lost:
this is the One whose word answers every variety of challenge, endures in all tempests of imaginary findings, and rebuts all attempts to subvert it.
This is the result of BEING the truth, and His word is MAINTAINED by the One who is the Creator, the living God, so that even our time for events and developments is all foreknown, and there is not even any scope for the fouling of His administration.
For a longer account of such areas, see the seven volume work:
PREDESTINATION and FOREKNOWLEDGE,
A short selection on this point is found in the following, including,
The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4,
Others that relate are found, for example in
The Lord of Longsuffering ... Ch. 6,
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 2.
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3.
Aspects of the Glory of the God of all Grace
Ch. 5, and
The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4.
Secondly, there is another mini-list selected, which concentrates on such Issues as the "X-factor" citations of Calvin, contrasting with biblical reality". Inadvertently no doubt, this violates both the teaching of the Bible and the beauty of its harmonies. This does not mean that Calvin is less than a great theologian; but like many, he has an unsound pre-occupation which brings, along with his excellent contribution, unfortunately, a sobering error. Perhaps this is so that no man will worship theologians, or be vexed with undue adulation, but keep to what the Bible itself actually says, and be thankful for every help that contributes, despite a lapse here or there.
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 2,
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3,
Three Anzas, One Answer Ch. 6, ),
The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4,
Christ's Ineffable Peace Ch. 2,
SMR Appendix B.