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EXQUISITE IN CLARITY,
SPLENDID IN CHARITY
IMMENSE IN LOVE
SOVEREIGN BUT NOT DICTATORIAL
CHASTE IN APPROACH
SEEMLY IN SELF-CONTROL
THE MARVELS OF THE DIVINE CHOICE
OF THE CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Foreknowledge and Predestination
Making Sure of His OWN
and Seeking with Implacable Urgency, Considered Control
and the Beauty of Holiness for ALL:
SUCH is the LOVE of JESUS CHRIST
You can have what you want. For me, that very fact, seen in the light of the biblical perspective, is part of the splendour of the wonder of the love of my Creator, Redeemer and King. There is NO failure on the part of deity to want you in His kingdom if you are a human being, and have not already sinned bare your heart to the point of scorching your conscience as with a hot iron (I Timothy 4:1-2),, sinned in the face of and in molestation of the very Gospel. As to that, if you still WANT the Lord, and seek Him, and seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him.
In short, God is on record as wanting ALL to be saved, and whatever the circumstances, personal or social or financial or political or psychological, NOTHING will EVER prevent Him from achieving the sound and godly result. What is that ? It means that where love can find entrance, the love of God, without compulsion, coercion or side-slipping (such as changing someone without the will so that the person then being different, loves), then it will; and the love of God is irretrievably committed to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the resolver of problems by personally bearing the otherwise unmeetable cost of sin. This He has done on the Cross, by a substitutionary atonement, applicable to all whom love finds, where faith dwells. There is no other God; there is no other salvation (Ephesians 4:4, Acts 4:11-2, Galatians 1,3,5), there is only one way in: this is it.
Further, the way to be resurrected to life eternal (though it begins when faith receives Christ's salvation - that is, that of the historic Jesus Christ, born of a virgin because He IS GOD in the flesh, and there was no other way - II Corinthians 11, John 1, 8:58, Matthew 1), is through the acceptance in faith of His resurrection of the body, for what you reject, you do not get. Faith is active to receive what it believes, and as to what it does not, this does not qualify as faith. Hence those for whom Christ is actually delivered up, the parallel to those who placed their hands on the sacrificial lamb, as testimony to two things, believing the lamb was and was fit for the symbolic purpose of pardon through sacrifice as appointed by God: these are those to whom all things come (Romans 8:32). They do not make another lamb or another procedure. They come where God MAY be found (Isaiah 55), and not somewhere else.
The Scope of the Love
Let us, then, examine, in the light of the Bible, foreknowledge, predestination and human will and responsibility and see the relationship of the sacrifice to the love, of salvation to the desire of the Almighty. It is grand to be able in this to consult His communication, for who else would know His innermost motive! (cf. SMR).
There is nothing equivocal or ambiguous about God. He would like all to be saved, but will not dictate. You find such things, what He would like in Colossians 1:19ff., past all argument, and even at Westminster Theological Seminary at Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, this was put in some detail*1 to John Murray, theologian, and never received an answer; for John was honest in his zeal, and of answers to that, there is none. Colossians here is explicit, exclusive of scope for twisting, and clear. God would have ALL in heaven or earth, to be reconciled to Himself by the death of His Son, by His blood. Such is His statement. Contrary statements do not even register in the realities of His self-revelation in the word of God, and in His living word, Jesus Christ, likewise (Luke 19:42ff.).
It is not for frauds, of course who are scooped up in the dynamic of such love, pseudo-Christians, using Christ to make a clay model of their own in their hearts (II Corinthians 11); it is not a question of some vast government project in which they mean well, but do not accomplish it, or even cannot. Let God be God. He does not meet things He cannot handle; for there are none (Romans 11:36-37, Luke 1:37).
God having stated what He wants, it is inconceivable that He should not get it. The only prevention which could happen therefore, must be within Himself. Whatever its kind, however, one thing it CANNOT be, any impediment to this desire for the reconciliation of all things to Himself, with the motivation of love (John 3), is a reluctance to give salvation TO ANY; for this is His word which speaks solemnly to the contrary.
In John 3*1A, the Lord not only amplifies this point, but He excludes misinterpretation. He SO loved the world (that is the habitat of man which He made, as in Colossians 1, the thing He made which is not heaven and is earth and where man is, for it is a God and man situation), that He made a sacrifice of that to which His infinite and intimate love was addressed, namely, His only begotten Son. The reason for this being so costly is simply that this incarnate being is none other than the Word of God who had always been with Him, who was God and became man*2 (as also in Philippians 2, John 8:58). There is a very special love for what is vulnerable, or rendered vulnerable, as when a mother is concerned at her son, carefully brought up, and now at war. That if possible, readily intensifies love, for it calls it forth with additional concerns. There is a love without limit between the Father and the Son.
Despite this, and indeed because of it (that is, God was willing to give Him, despite His preciousness, and He was so because of the very love with which He loved Him, which is not possessive but expansive), He acted. He SO loved, then, that He gave Him to scorn and hideous, mocking, pseudo-triumph of ecclesiastical frauds who murdered Him, part of the plan of redemption told in detail centuries before (Psalm 2, 22, Isaiah 49-55).
The amount, the quality, the intensity, the immensity of His love is such that He gave THIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, this amazing gift to vulnerability, sinful man and scorn, to death, into this world. His purpose, we are here told was NOT for the judgment of this world, but that rather it might be saved.
At once we know that this is no mere indirect method of judgment. He did not send His only begotten Son as a method of so showing up the sin of man who slew Him, that judgment could set in. That was not the point of it at all. The reason that we know this is that He says so, in John 3.
This immense love is directed to the constructive, the spiritually reproductive, the securing of perishing souls, lives, so that they not only do NOT perish (like tyres stacked out of the sun in some enclosure of gases), but have eternal life! He did not send Him to JUDGE the world, but that it might be SAVED (John 3:17). Between God and this world was a love such that He gave THIS, with that objective for the world, of salvation, and NOT the other, of judgment! He makes this piercingly manifest, defining with positive and negative statements, so stifling confusion, however unnecessary.
Thus the divine motivation is intensively clear. It is safeguarded from rorts of mind, which could seek to compress or change it.
What then CAN keep out any from this amazing gift, so freely and at such cost sent to this world for its salvation, to this whole concourse of mankind in its dealings and goings and to-ings and fro-ings ?
Since greater is God who is in us who believe, that he who is in the world (cf. John 14:30, I John 4:4), then the only other party involved is MAN. It does not matter how much food the UN may send to some starving people, if in hate or disbelief or hardness of heart or some kind of psychic hang-up, they refuse it, then they do not eat it. It is, in that instance, not the UN, but the people to whom the free gift is given. It WOULD have been given to them, but not being received, it does not reach their mouths, stomachs, is not food to eat for them, is not transferred at any stage from the sending agent to the recipient, who disdains it. It is on offer, as is a life of virtue; but not being received, there is simply no transfer, no take, and the expenditure does not incorporate that party. Intention here must be carefully distinguished from its adequacy to its action. It does not rot; it is simply not transferred, remaining in the situation of what love was willing to give, not what was given.
Indeed, it is because the gift was adequate and available and urged on them, that the non-reception becomes fatal and final, they being left as much without it as the stomach which does not eat food. Its presence merely emphasises their obstinacy and repudiation.
God actually states this point, leaving nothing to erratic theologians or despotic tyrants alike.
In verse 19 He tells us what is the condemnation, then, in view of this prodigy of love. THIS, it says, is the condemnation. In view of His stated desire to save the world, this becomes intensely interesting. What is it, then, this so alien seeming condemnation which comes despite the irresistible power and uncontainable love of God ? What does He tell us about this erratic seeming fact in the midst of His thematic, thrusting generosity of love ?
It is this: light has come into the world (no error there, the gift arrived, and was not lost in the sending), and "men loved darkness rather than light". There it is, a personal preference, despite the positive knowledge and power of God, this negative reality```````````` is heeded; for the love of God, like all love derived from Him, is CHASTE. It is NOT LUST. It is gracious and giving. It is not obsessed with itself, but concerned for the object which evokes it, here the world, seen in individual terms in the "whosoever" language.
In the midst of these things, we are told of the categorical imperative in the transaction. WHEN you believe, you are not condemned (John 3:18). There is an immediate movement to the realms of irrelevance, of the very idea of condemnation. The SON sent has dealt with that, to prevent perishing, and the matter is now expounded further: there is no condemnation for the one who receives this infinitely valuable gift; for life is wonderful, and man cannot make the life of a man, except in a merely reproductive fashion, requiring no understanding. But eternal life is infinitely wonderful, for it is the very life of God which is imparted through His Son (I John 1:1-4). Naturally, it is still for man, as becomes a created being, like a branch compared with the vine; but it is a connection in companionship now made both natural and eternal which is past all wonder!
If, on the other hand, John 3:18 proceeds, some person, some one in the 'whosoever' group to whom opportunity comes, does not BELIEVE in this One so sent, then to that person there is not only condemnation, now through contortion or abortion of opportunity relevant, but it is as a thing reinforced. Such a person is "condemned already." The ONLY way is scorned ? then what it cost is not more pointed for that person, that is the rain that hits the roof of a house with a garden under that roof. It comes, but it is not relevant. Only the generosity of the gift is relevant. There is no transaction.
Thus the scope and categorical character, take or leave all, no cost, total sufficiency in the gift, which is the PERSON, Jesus Christ, is turned aside into calamity, like a wild bull seeing an open gate, charging at it, and hating it, barging to its death in the adjoining fence. The gate did nothing to it, except perhaps to madden it: it is enraged, but but not engaged. This gift, Jesus Christ AS incarnate, crucified and bodily risen (John 20, Luke 24, I Corinthians 15), and AS sin-bearer (Matthew 20:28, 26:28ff., Galatians 3, John 1:29, Leviticus 17), yes and with whatever is given as His word (John 14:26) to define what is given: He is given with universal adequacy, but as useful to those who reject Him, as a book which through the removal of glasses, their myopic eyes cannot read.
Put differently, they have shut their eyes, and this does nothing to remove the gift, or to reduce its efficacy; but it does everything to remove the redemption from their dwelling place in life (Matthew 13:15ff.). God knowing and seeing this, and having known it from eternity (Ephesians 1:4), in no way is repressive of His love, in its saving provisions; nor however with such an original and therefore final rejection by man, is He now expressive of it to that person.
It is not that God wanders in His love for this world, not to judge it but to save it as expressed in John 3:17ff., and Colossians 1; but that man squanders it, so that as a result, for those in this negative cast of mind, Christ is not the One delivered up for them, and they are not those to whom all things are thus delivered (Romans 8:32). On their behalf, as in the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament in the Day of Atonement, it is offered up (I John 2:1-2); but this has no bearing whatsoever on the result in view, for the one without the faith to receive it, known from of old as being negative in response, thus meriting the formula for loss, 'preferring darkness to light'. WHEN the light has come: and that light, in John 1-3, it is Christ.
How then do some make it appear that the love of God, in its outgoing originality and search, its seeking, even in the highways and the byways (Matthew 22), is LESS than this ? How do they speak of it, stating or implying that as to love, it is a selective thing in which there is some mystery about why it does not reach all with effectual salvation ? It is STATED why this is so. The negative principle which aborts the expansive scope of this His saving love, is cited, like a war criminal. It is cited in the context of His contrary scope and passion.
How then can one exegete by contradiction! Yet many do, and can even go so far as to mark down what refuses to be duped on this point; and one has found this sadly enough, as a student! The sorrow was not for oneself but for the repression of reality, the squashing of the love of God which was involved, the evil testimony which squanders this jewel in philosophic pettifogging, bypassing the text with irrelevance. If it does not find the answer in one place, it will not look in another; even when God has set it forth.
Let us then formulate some more aspects before summarily expressing it further.
The Sufficiency of the Love
God in this way surpasses mere psychological determinism, as if a man could be damned for the fluctuation of a crippled will in a sinful spleen in one moment, without there being any understanding of the entire situation. The matter is both deep and eternal, and therefore God has ensured that there is no loss or wastage, through misadventure or meaningless chaos of a merely disordered mind.
What then did He do to prevent this, amongst other things ? He FOREKNEW His own people.
HOW could He do this ? That is not our business, being a matter of the form of the nature of deity, His internal mode of procedure, and the mode in which He works. However, from the Bible, we can gain insights of a crucial character determinative of the result here in view. Thus all things are manifest before Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13). He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and is even called the beginning and the end (cf. Revelation 1:17,26,2:8,13).
In this way we KNOW that the before time was divine foreknowledge (Ephesians 1:4), before this world and its creation even existed (Romans 8:39), He not only knew us who are His, but CHOSE us. How do we know this ? It is because He says so. That is, not only was the knowledge there FOR choice, but the choice itself was exercised. You see this amplified both in Romans 8:29ff., and II Timothy 1:8ff..
WHO exercised it ? The Trinity, for God is a trinity (Isaiah 48:16, II Corinthians 13:14, John 8:58, II Corinthians 5:17ff.). Where then was the One who became Jesus the Christ in this ? He was as one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. What then is the nature of God ? It is as shown by Jesus the Christ (Hebrews 1), precisely. What is the nature of Jesus the Christ ? It is as He manifested it to be on earth (John 14).
What then of His laments for the lost Jerusalem ? as in Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff. ? This shows His intense burden of sorrow for those whom He earnestly desired with all His heart, to save, but who did not realise the day of their visitation and so lost the opportunity, turning Him down instead of taking up His offer, so inviting the destruction which was to come.
How does this apply to foreknowledge ? In the matter of divine foreknowing, this was the nature of the God who did the foreknowing. Thus in the very act of foreknowing, the entire substance of Christianity attests, the word of God shows that this same compassion and intense desire of God, even for what would in fact be lost, was present.
But what of predestination ? That is almost, but not quite, irrelevant. It FOLLOWS both logically and biblically from the foreknowledge. CHOOSING in foreknowledge, God predestines with power. What is known, thus becomes what is grown! There are no mistakes. He has saved wherever His love of the stated scope and nature, finds its place before His eternal eye.
Thus as it was done from the first, so to the last. It is as John 3 shows, no part of His inclination to judge anyone, without first achieving a highway, or pathway for mercy. In this, NOTHING will intervene. Thus the Westminster Confession rightly has elect infants, who do not know the Lord, not having any understanding, hence without knowledge or confession of Christ, nevertheless go to heaven. Similarly, it must be stated, all who do not know the Gospel, and indubitably deserve damnation (that is the eternal exclusion that sin brings when it is not met by mercy in the divine mode of love in Christ as in Romans 1-3), are subject to this same rule. Those of these elect, foreknown before creation commenced, will nevertheless be saved. It all depends on His foreknowledge, who changes not, in terms of the Gospel offer, which changes not, and the fulfilment or otherwise of the love of God, which does not vary either its purity or in its scope from that clearly stated. There are results; there are always results, but we are looking at the cause.
Thus in His foreknowledge (and hence predestination) God has already chosen those who are His, whether on earth they hear the Gospel or not; though it is ONLY THROUGH THE GOSPEL and all the cost it exhibits, that anything of salvation can be done for anyone, and to His own satisfaction, the God of all probity knows where His love lies and finds place, so that darkness is not preferred to THIS LIGHT of the Gospel. This is the very nature of this our God, who IS love (I John 4:7ff.), so that in NOTHING is it to be contravened or distorted. It is that of Him, for whom it is more blessed to give than to receive; for love does not seek selfishly its own desire, but amply to give. This both underlines the wonder of His purity of heart and His love, and the abysmal folly of rejecting it. Man may fail; missionaries may faint; but God fails never and in nothing.
HOW then can they come when their day has passed ? They are known from the beginning, before this world began, and so are known to the end.
Difficulties ? It is a nothing. God is the beginning and the end, foreknows the end, and in whatever way, He implements His finding, what He has found in foreknowledge being the truth. How ? this is merely what might be properly called a technical matter. In Predestination and Freewill, for the sake of Christian Apologetic emphasis and exhibition, this is entered into, in a provisional sense. It lends itself to ready resolution in biblical terms. Thus the intense reasonableness of the Gospel is exhibited; and this is important, for in the nature of the case as we shall see, nothing else either is or can be reasonable in this field. The Bible here is found to have a monopoly in system and principle, on the truth; and what would you expect of the truth of the Creator concerning His people ? None can know as He does, and whatever omits Him AS HE IS, and as His word depicts, of necessity flounders in the minimised bikini version of 'knowledge' that results, whether the case be minor or major.
The Exclusions of Love: of Guile and Hypocrisy,
not from the Sincerity of Its Own Application
Thus it is true to say this from the Bible: that just as it is NO part of the divine inclination to judge anyone (in the outset of His love and desire), and He infallibly finds all who are His, yet where man at first as at the last has no place for Him, for His salvation in Jesus Christ, He has then no place for that person. How could He, in view of the nature of love; how could He except by force, whether direct or indirect, which is a shambles and not love, and wholly contrary to Himself, as the Confession rightly attests! Such a concept the Westminster Confession also rightly rejects.
Similarly, no man can blame God, if he refuses Him, for God's heart and hand is open to him! It cost Him much to keep it open ... and it shuts only where or in that, He assesses the final cause, outside, beyond and contrary to the movement of His own heart, in the stated domain: Light has come and the person preferred darkness.
He is not in the business of making up pretend preferences. HE KNOWS the heart (Jeremiah 17:9-10), and as God, He knows this more than any man does or even can: He knows all. Any final exclusion of any person from God does not depend, we have learnt, on God's negativity on the point. This case is quite the contrary, for such is forged, in the mind and heart or God, through His knowledge of man, past and logically before all history. The result therefore comes differentially, not in terms of what they deserve, each one, but of what past all barriers that would obstruct this being known, what is their preference. In that He has asserted this finale of the matter, in the face of His assertion of its start and basis in His love, there is no room for variance from this, except in the flat contradiction of what God Almighty has said about the scope and nature of the action toward all on His part, and its relationship to His knowledge of that on any individual person's part.
What is His part is defined; what is His wish is defined; what is His cost for enabling it to be freely taken, is defined; what is man's part in securing a deliverance from His love, this also is defined.
The blame, the responsibility, is therefore man's alone, and it is stated to be so for this reason; and as such, it is the opposite to His wish. This He conveys clearly, having cleared Himself earlier in John 3:16-17, in John 3:19. Better believe God than be clever. The practical outcome is this: if any person has a longing for God, a desire for His salvation, to know Him as Father and Christ as Saviour, this is holy and good, and not to be despised, for there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons who need no repentance whether this be ironic - that is, whether they THINK they do not need it, or literal - having already repented, they do not now need to go through that massive first turning which is the prelude to regeneration, all over again.
Further, it is THIS biblical truth which solves the problem of predestination and freewill; for love requires liberty in order to be itself. God IS love and we are in His image, so that though we may be bound by the limited state of our will, its ebbs and flows, yet He being bound by nothing, knowing who are His, secures His own in integrity, reality and in truth.
There is no psychic preclusion of exercising our wills, as if free to do as we will, but not to will as we will: God knows where it is, and has the alternate life prepared, the regenerate one, and the transition from one to the other does not OPERATIONALLY depend on our wills AT ALL (John 1:12 is MOST clear on this), though in His OWN operations before time, it has been a criterion, this human preference, foreknown before and apart from any action in the sinful realm of history, and eternally ensured.
What then follows ? This: NEVER therefore languish in not finding God. IF you truly want Him, you will find Him, and so if with all your heart you seek Him (and nothing is too hard for the Lord - Jeremiah 29:13), you will assuredly find Him. If in fact your will is adverse, no blandishments will alter it; and if you doubt yourself and want God, it is ever so simple: TRUST Him. All predestination and all salvation comes back to this. God has the power and the provision, and even your fallen will does not have the last say: HE DOES. This is nothing dictatorial, but eminently, an-historically ultimate. If there were ANY way in sincerity and in truth of finding anyone in the Gospel, this Being of all power and knowledge, wisdom and love, where nothing is contrary in character to love, does not fail to actuate it!
Neither it nor any other thing can prevent His love from finding you: desperate are you ? then HE went to the Cross to release you so simply cast all your care and sin on Him, without anguish at yourself, rather only at your sin. HE is capable: trust Him.
The Exclusion of Absurd and Unbiblical Extremes
What then ? To the detriment of liberty and the destruction of love is the sin which blinds, the wilfulness which strangles, the vaunting or haunting desire which controls (cf. John 8:30ff.); but this is all surpassed by God in His own open-hearted love, and since His love does not seek for selective personal gratification, as lust does, therefore being surpassed in his sinfulness and not misunderstood in his limitations, both sinful and other, human liberty is liberated, the determinate and the responsive each in its place, are known and applied, these both as they are and as they differ; and so love is fulfilled.
Appearance no more gives the lie to reality, or its interpretation, than does a pretty or an ugly face. Nothing else either does or could resolve the conundrum which man has so long faced in the deterministic and voluntaristic impasse, which would make of man an illusory God, or a controlled propulsion.
To seek answer without this apparatus of divinity, HIS schema, where love does NOT seek its own lust, where man is NOT dependent on his own will's bent', where the burden and cost of cleansing and realism is not for man to pay, and where man's ACTUAL liberty of heart being known, is supernaturally applied, is mere self-contradiction. And where is this found, and where only is it able to be found ? It is found in the God of the Bible,a s specified in the Bible, and naturally, in HIS word (not ours) concerning Himself, the problems of philosophy in this as in any other sphere, melt into monumental fluster without knowledge. But this is not all. That is the positive side. There is also a negative. What happens when man invents as if truth, what is no truth, and bypasses the biblical truth of love and mercy and scope and domain of deity and His nature ? There is collision with reality.
For this reason also, there have been endless wars; and so often, the god-like powers imagined of man or the strangled schema of control, imagined to be over him, in contrary extremes, are shown to be merely vain echoes as of children not seeing clearly the notes on the piano music, and making vague guesses. When you know God, it is as if you were taught suddenly to read; and when you don't, this is still the only available resolution, like it, hate it or love it.
Predestination merely implements foreknowledge, and divine foreknowledge contains in its survey, overview and total aptitude for covering every vein, as it were, of the human personality, all its blood flow, to continue the image, all that there is, nothing excluded: and this, not imperiously, nor impulsively directed, or given dictation, is KNOWN. That is the knowledge in terms of the unlimited love of God as applied, leading to decisive outcomes, receptions and rejections.
It is unfortunate that both Calvinism and Methodism, Arminianism as of Wesley (a special kind*3) both fail at this point to find this glorious biblical solution, which glorifies God by resolving all problems which philosophy vainly struggles at, lacking the truth, which indeed liberates in this as in all things, where it is loved and received as such. It is here and in this faithfully applied in the peace of heart that loves and understands, that war is ready to cease; but not before the god of this world, the vainglorious and the imperiously imperial, whether in this system or in that, ceases its clawing of the face of humanity. That comes in its time, when tests and exhibitions in history are over (as in Matthew 24, Revelation 19-20).
But what of man in the meantime ? what of the love of God and the mercy to man ? How is freedom to be real and love to be fulfilled in the stated dimensions and in the declared scope ? It is by His own schema, power and omniscience, expressed in foreknowledge, ratified in predestination, implemented in history, so that love does not prevail by a force, invasive and disruptive, nor fail by a feebleness, inadequate and exhausted, but in purity prevails.
God alone COULD solve this, knowing as Creator; His word alone for us, DOES solve it, bringing that knowledge to us; and we, being in His image, may readily SEE the solution just as He quite simply but with necessary beauty and depth, has presented it.
It is useless to try, as so many seem to do, to make a scenario for predestination which omits God; or to imagine one for liberty without limit, or for deterministic effluences (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Christ Incomparable, Lord Indomitable Ch. 2), without means.
Neither does man in fact act on a materialist, reductionist basis, as if he had no power to envisage, analyse and direct his thoughts, whether with integrity towards the truth, or in lying or flying high in pride that is blind, the invisible motivations ignored (cf. It Calls ... Ch. 9); nor does he move on a merely voluntarist basis, as if man were a god subject to nothing, penetrable by nothing. Just as, in the first case, that is as if to 'explain' how a person understands by talking of the way a machine acts, program impel, ignoring his power to create thought and parameters and principles on which to operate invisibly, and select from his creations, whether honestly, or invidiously or hideously as desired, for reasons as analysed, which thing matter no more does than does wind write books; so in the second and opposite case, it is a matter of talking of emotions as if they were sovereign over themselves, and desires as if they obliterated their source. Both extremities leave out man, the person, multipartite, and in spirit singular.
Sin loves to ignore its limitations as in voluntarism; and on the other hand, as the wind blows, to shirk those same responsibilities, as if choice between invisible options and ideals were not present, nor the reasons for it known, and as if the status quo could be known in any case, when knowledge of ultimate reality is in principle not available in such a model as that of determinism, where what is available consists only of interactions and reactions of what is, whatever that may be.
Avoiding then, the primary afflictions of self-contradiction, and moving to serious thought, one finds the answer to these things, each of them and all of them, singly and in composition in the Bible, in terms of the Creator and His nature and His actions, and in this, we see the significance and place of our own, not in ludicrous efforts to contain it amorally, nor in equally ludicrous efforts to exalt it as if divine. When looking to the nature of man, and of his love, liberty, destiny and such things, one must look first to the origin of it all. In practice, without this, there is mere confused philosophy, actually, millenially and necessarily at war with itself. It does not work because it cannot work. It is normally systematically astray.
When in contrast, one comes to the God who made us, and to what He has to say in His verified and validated word, then the answer sings, breaks rock, overcomes invention, removes rational contention, resolves all. That is because we come to the environment of terms which is just, the disposition of events which is actual, and when we do not attempt to act on a merely imaginary and self-contradictory, inept basis of one kind or extreme or another.
To seek answer with God, on the one hand, and the word of God on the other, in these fields: It is simply the wrong setting for the matter in view. One must keep to the model, and to what wholly encompasses all phases of human existence, operation and nature, as God does, and all we observe ourselves to be possessed of, rather than delusion. Changing the problem in mind, does not solve it, either by pretending to be a dunderhead that cannot think, or a god who can fling thought sovereignly over all, autonomous in the midst of this and that rule.
The Scriptural Sight of Love:
Found in the Bible Only, Its Intimate and Ultimate
Purity, Zeal, Coverage and Lowliness
Perhaps we can now summarise a little. God who statedly would have all to come to a knowledge of the truth and be reconciled to Himself, statedly assigned the reason for the loss of some to the preference those had for darkness, and since this again statedly, was despite a love for the world in an assignment NOT to judge it, but save it, nothing to the contrary is even relevant to the biblical depiction (cf. Proverbs 8:8). It does not stop there.
Again, SINCE God is changeless and Christ is very God, and is the Truth who told the truth*4, hence this urgent and compassionate desire, even for those who will finally be lost, and this statedly again, felt by Christ as for the doomed Jerusalem, was present in the workings of foreknowledge. It was operative in His everlasting unity with the Father, so making exclusion of anyone, in the end, to be despite and not because of the nature of His love. Predestination statedly the next step, by its nature, sets in certainty what foreknowledge knew and placed there.
God not being a liar, this is certainly the case. All this God has given; we do but receive it, and glorify God for His grandeur both of heart, action and love, and His eminently comprehensible illumination, sent in the Bible, of these things.
Thus presentation for exhibition of the logical felicity of the case can not increase the 'take' or change its ground, but merely may make it more obvious. Moreover, the 'if' is from Christ's lips, and hence a logically right (Luke 19:42ff., Isaiah 48:17), just as the reason for exclusion is right (John 3), for the same reason. Nevertheless, for God, it is KNOWLEDGE, foreknowledge, that if the final category, and the íf' for man is found simply as its this leading edge.
The precise mode of action in foreknowledge on the part of God, in the form of God, it is not relevant for us to know. The principles are sure and established. One reason for the Declaratory Statement *5 of the PC of Australia in its 1901 constitution, one which would not accept any divine sovereignty which did not harmonise with the divine desire that none might perish, is to cover this amplitude in the love of God. It was to prevent philosophic muddle, in terms of what might almost appear a sovereign over the sovereignty of God, as if He were to be impelled by something outside what He DECLARES Himself to be, a fault into which humanly devised system so readily falls. Any suppression of the biblical scope and reality, by law or cavil, merely removes the beauty of the truth which that church so wisely and so well insisted upon at the first*5.
What is needed is not legalistic squirming but heartfelt turning in grace and astonished delight, at the extent, purity and wonder of the love of God, where no mystery (except for its magnitude and grace, its quality and beauty) lies, except in the whittlings which many seek to impose on it, not merely removing the perfect consistency and adequacy of the Bible in this area by such illicit intrusions of extremism (relative to the Bible), but defiling the loveliness of the love of God. This it readily does by making sovereignty NOT the ensuring of the realisation of all that love is toward all, with whatever result, but some kind of restriction in a mist. There is no SUCH restriction with God, but only that on the aweful and all but relentless pawing of His love, either by theologian or secularist.
How He loves to reason with us (Isaiah 1:18), and how reasonable He is, except in this, that He is SO generous in disposition, SO caring in heart, SO compassionate in kindness and so careful of the holiness in which such things flourish, that it does not conflict with, but rather eminently and pre-eminently surpasses reasonableness with grace unfathomable, love indomitable, restraint beautiful to behold.
John Murray is a justly famed theologian whose conservative care was notable. Although evidently a Calvinist, he tended to be watchful about easy thrusts into the domains of captious splendour that so readily go with this -ism, and this was one occasion which illustrated this.
See further, for example, in: The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4, Great Execrations ... Greater Faith Ch. 3, 7.
See The Bright Light and the Uncomprehending Darkness ... 10.
See also Index at Trinity, including SMR pp. 532-560, 96-101.
On the matter of Wesley, it is well to be informed. The last of the references below shows some interesting details about this evangelist, perhaps not always recognised.
Predestination and Freewill Part 2; 'Fellowship', Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Ch. 8.
In John 14:6, Jesus the Christ, being Jehovah incarnate (Isaiah 45:22f. with Philippians 2, where ONLY God is to have all knees so bent and to CHRIST they are to be so bent), is declared to be THE TRUTH. He is also the way to it - through regeneration, illumination and explication. In addition, and naturally, indeed supernaturally, He is a "man who told you the truth," John 8:45, so that if you are freed in your persons by Him, then "you will know the truth." This, since He is it, and since through His Spirit (John 15:26) He is given to man, to whom in His name comes the very Spirit of Truth (Colossians 1:27, II Corinthians 3:17-18), leads to the most blessed result. Thus, to those so inhering in Him, and He in them, truth surrounds them like flights of massing birds, like the water vapour in the atmosphere, like the spray that rises in rainbow idiom above Niagara Falls, like the air of the soul of the people who know Him.
HE, of course, makes it clear that there is an essential element: KEEP TO and KEEP His words (John 14:21-23). Indeed, if you LOVE Him, you will (not in perfection, as if already perfected, but in aim, in principle and with energy) keep His words. If you do not, then Paul has a word: those who do not devoutly love Him: let them be accursed (I Corinthians 16:22). You cannot live in the army of Truth, when the Lord is both love and the truth, without loving, for it would be like living on this earth, and needing neither food nor drink, air nor terrain. It does not so go! Such human beings would not be living on this earth; and spiritual beings do not live except in the Lord, ruled by His word (cf. II Corinthians 11, Galatians 2:5, Matthew 7:24ff.). The way is indeed narrow, confined to Christ and by Him to His word, but then its skies of a height that is profound, and its foundations are everlasting, nor does it change, and here is a power to make the uttermost tornado seem puny, and it is, moreover, not one to destroy but to build (II Corinthians 13:7-10).
For an extensive coverage of Predestination and Freewill in its various facets, see the hyperlinked work above. Its title in 6 volumes, is:
PREDESTINATION and FOREKNOWLEDGE,
LIBERTY and NECESSITY,
RESPONSIBILITY, DUTY and CREATIVITY
See The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, as marked, Serenity not Serendipity ... Ch. 13, Light of Dawn Ch. 1,