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Chapter 10




Proverbs and I Corinthians

A Dialogue


Wisdom is the principal thing, says Solomon in Proverbs 4:7.

How come, says one, then that if one does not have the love of God, which only God in Himself knows, and those to whom He sends it, since it is HIS love, that without what is NOT the principal thing, that is, love, you have NOTHING, as in I Corinthians 13 ?

In answer to him, it was necessary to clarify. The question is misplaced, I replied; the assertion is factually wrong. After correcting that, one has need to see what the Bible in both parts, indeed in all in this matter, is declaring. Let us then consider this.

Firstly, NOWHERE in the Bible is it said that love is NOT the principal thing.

True, he confirmed.

One must be careful of unauthorised specifications, added to those given, by a loose line of thought. Thus IF wisdom is the principal thing, does this certainly mean that love is subordinate, a non-principial matter, inferior to it ? I asked.

Certainly not. One had to answer one's own question at the first. I pursued the point.

If you are trying to get into your own house, one night, and you cannot find the key, then one may say OF THIS BUSINESS of getting where you have to be, 'Get the key, that is the principal thing!' Without that there is only the night and who knows what cold and thieves may be about, or cut-throats!

WHEN you find the key,  and get into your house, you are safe: the principal thing for going on living has been found, and NOW you can consider what the house contains, its furnitures, facilities in various rooms, the reason for its construction, so that you might fulfil the purposes of your life within it.

Wisdom is the principal thing to FIND the Lord, KNOW His way home and into His kingdom. Fail to find it and you fail  to find Him; for the way is highly specific, as it is in visiting many a CEO. There are procedures.

In the case of the Gospel, it is one's delight that these procedures are not grievous. Putting your trust in the Lord and SO receiving His diagnosis of your own  condition, as a sinner out of the realm of His house, His kingdom, His will, because you do not even KNOW Him, who is unique, Him from whom all things come, without whom in eternity, nothing could ever be, is scarcely a world-beater for complexity.

But what is His diagnosis ? he asked.

HE SAYS, I created you, you have strayed, so has your race, repent of your ignorance of your own Maker and all the errors of mind, will and action which have been your lot, in  terms of that self-same Creator, and do so putting your trust in Him whom He has sent to put things  right, since you have fallen  far short of the requirements of His will. Be thankful to Him for sending a Saviour, anointed as a sacrifice to cover your sin with His own perfection, paying in His own death for the death you deserve.

But I am supposed to be born again, regenerated and adopted by God, it says so. How am I supposed  to cover all this ? he probed.

I was happy to reply to this one, and so presented my response.

Putting your trust in God is putting it where supreme wisdom, above you as your Creator is, ACTS. Do you have to know all about the workings of your heart and lungs and kidneys and liver and blood, in order to receive anaesthetic; and do you have to understand the entire placement of all bodily organs and the functionings of all bodily systems and all their inter-relations which one another, and their reactions to various situations, in order to  trust your surgeon ?

You are not commanded to BE your God but to TRUST in Him,  I continued. HE has shown like a good surgeon, what He is going to do: it is not at all hidden; it is not you who do it and this is perhaps the first lesson you have to learn. IF you put your trust in the Lord BY receiving His diagnosis, part of it is that you have NOT trusted in Him in the past,  by His key in the Gospel, and so now need  to  do so, and cease to have any more autonomous desires as if it all  depended on you.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
Do not lean to your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will give you the desires of your heart,"

says Proverbs 3.

But He may not have predestinated me to trust in Him, came the querulous sounding reproach. How am I supposed to trust in Him if He has specifically excluded me from becoming one of those He lets into His kingdom, so that because of this,  I never use the key, that is believe the Gospel ? So he pursued his point. I could but answer him, and so answered as necessary.

Again, this is not what the Bible teaches as to orientation and perspective, I responded. Once more you have put second things first. It does not depend on His WHIMSICAL, CAPRICIOUS OR SENTENTIOUS WILL. HE states what He is doing

(and when you are coming to God, you need to  listen to HIM more than to any minister or person - just check what God alone  CAN say, what He wants and how He will deal with imperfect goods with wills of their own, so made that they can  even criticise or reject Him IF they want to - as in Proverbs 1).

HE says that He would like to have ALL to be reconciled to Himself. He declares that this was what seemed good TO HIM. There He has stated what concerns Himself. He draws  attention  to the fact of His ACTION in this, and declares that "having made peace through the blood of the cross," it pleased Him "to reconcile all things to Himself."

Would that include me ?

But of course .

How do you know this ?

It is because HE states the  scope of this desire of His. He DECLARES this:

"For it pleased the Father, that in Him all fulness should dwell,
and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself,
having made peace by the blood of the cross, by Him
whether the things on the earth or the things in the heavens..."

That is found in Colossians 1:19-20. It is useless for anyone to try to squirm or wriggle if that person DOES like an arbitrary or self-willed sovereign. With this Sovereign, it is not so. He states His way, and if you reject it, how then are you in this trusting in Him! If you are a part of ALL THINGS whether on earth or in the heavens, now living or formerly doing so and part of the race of which He speaks, that is the human race, then this applies to you by HIS word, not mine.

Well why does He predestinate ?

It makes sure what is truth.

What does that mean ?

It is this. There is God in His own perfection, without limit, judge or conditions, without need whether psychological or other, and He tells us what He desires.

Well then why does He not get it! I wish He would, for then I would not need to worry, just live and it would happen, I am in!

It states that IT PLEASED the Father to reconcile all things to Himself. That is not the same - we have the same problem for the third time, so let us hope it does not arise a fourth! but then, we must be patient. That is not at all the same as being pleased to shanghai, the way they used to capture loose land-lubbers and take them by force or in intoxicated condition, on board a navy vessel to serve there. So far from reconciling, that might made something MORE to be reconciled about!

Oh I see. So much as He would like all things, whether on earth or in heaven, to be reconciled to Himself, there is something about being reconciled which is either a yes or a no! People might say: NO, I do not want to be reconciled to you.

That is about it. They often do, preferring to exercise their divinely created power (not their right, for powers may be used wrongly by mankind) to criticise God and NEVER, never, never be reconciled to Him.  Sometimes, in view of something or other, they actually speak like that.

But what if they say this in a mood, say of grief or resentment. What if they died when feeling like that ?

Now you have hit on the region of the answer to your own question. BECAUSE man may have psychical fits and moods and oddities and infirmities (we are not angels!, and flesh may be weak), THEREFORE God, who having made us knows ALL about us, has seen to it, that before history is so much as put into operation at all, before the creation is activated, HE KNOWS IN ADVANCE what is true of each person. He knows the truth, not as seen in some transient mood, but in depth and finality, at the first. He knows it as seen in truth, and remember this, God is quite able to see beyond the blinding force of sin, even when we, when unconverted, may not be! He sees the truth, and does not guess. History is shaped about Him and He works all things after the counsel of His own will. I know this because He says so (Ephesians 1:11).

How do you know He foreknows about us ?

Firstly, it is because it is so written in Romans 8:29ff., confirmed in Titus 2-3, shown in II Timothy 1 ...

All right,  all right. So I see it truly now: He foreknows, not what some future person to inhabit this earth WILL DO in sin, as if this decides Him, since sin blinds; but knows before time, what we ARE, whether in the last analysis we would be reconciled or would not. He does not force.

Precisely, and in so knowing, He knows beyond the binding and the blinding of sin. It is only sin which makes one worse (absolutely) than another. Seen without, as in Adam's case, man is seen without superiority, for just as He wills to will, so it actually is. God knows it. God acts on it. It is all done before time of our kind arises, or creation has its first dawn (Ephesians 1:4).

You mean it is, in His foreknowledge, just as if we were all as free as Adam was ?

Not entirely. There is a true principle in that, but Adam was ALREADY in history. God foreknows beyond history. Yet the idea of not being soiled by sin, in His knowledge, who knows all, is correct. You could say that He knows what we would (if sinless) have willed, if we could (because not bound by a pathological spiritual condition called sin) have willed; but this too, though possibly helpful, is by no means all. He knows - let us use HIS word - He foreknows us, and use His word again as in Romans 9 - NOT in terms of what we are going to do.

No, I continued,  it is not that;  but beyond and before all this. He penetrates and perceives and realises and redeems according to HIS desire that all be reconciled, but NOT - for love, which He is, is not like that - according to a bully-boy desire to grab. He does not simply TAKE what in its very image-bearing status as made like Him (though a derivative), has a special degree of freedom, without which love would have no meaning. He is simply not interested in that sort of thing, being the God of truth.

So then He states that He would like all reconciled to Himself through the blood of the cross, and that is that.

Correct. I responded happily. It is not reconciled in some other way, through the power of His might for example. To have the right to something, as President Obama recently correctly said, is not the same as making it right to do something. To have a right is not the same as its being right to use it in every case. There IS something called restraint. It can have many grounds; with God, love restrains itself from brashness, bullying, simple, sovereign push and thrust. It operates in its own manner, as all who love to some extent know: it is QUITE different from self-indulgence, but rather near its very opposite.

Yes. Then it is not in God that there any any exclusion notice served on me.

Let us be fair here. If HE KNOWS that in truth and reality as love sees, you are not His, then there is the case. You are excluded, but because He knows the case, before time. HE it is who attributes the non-fulfilment of His desire concerning you, if you were not His, to the desire for darkness, even though the light has come. Some prefer evil deeds to divine desire, ultimately, intimately, finally, and God knows them and knows His own before they even have opportunity to act in history.

You mean, then, that John 3:19, stating the outcome despite the stated wish of God to save the world, the outcome for many, is stating God's OWN estimate, no knowledge of the ground of contradiction of His desire, and that it lies in this preference for many, for evil deeds. He can see the seed before the deed...

In a way: only it is not present yet as a seed, since that is a growing thing in history, but if you mean, that He sees the reality in the spirit of those to be born into history, before they come, yes, that is the case. What He wants for all is not what some want, and He then clearly and simply states that THIS is why those ones are not taken into His kingdom ?

That is precisely right. These are the principles categorically stated by deity.

Yes, I see it now. Take the case of someone who is not his. Then, it would be BECAUSE, despite His sending His only begotten Son into this world, and His coming NOT to judge but to save it (which fits with Colossians 1 as you showed it), He knew my outage and relinquished this desire of His in this case; for it was not an unconditional desire, as if He would do anything, irrespective of whatever I was or thought or hoped or desired or was. Rather, His divine desire was one which would not breach a human person's status of being made in His image. This, He would respect, having known from before any creation was made at all, what we were, how we were made, what we were in mind, will and heart. So He KNEW, yes FOREKNEW us. That then is why, I see this now too, He makes it clear that He SO loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him might not perish, having saving the world as His intent. YET then He announces a special fact.

True. It is this: that THIS is the condemnation, that light has come and man preferred darkness, but whoever believes is His.

And He foreknew them.

I see this too now: and having foreknown them, He made sure of them, and put this knowledge into sure and unchangeable form: He THUS predestinated them AS foreknown.

That is the order of events, the logical order as we say, in this, that FIRST in relevance is the foreknowledge and only then comes the predestination in Romans 8:30. God is like that. He knows what He is doing and what He is saying. They agree. That is one of the ways you know His word is His own! It is always like that.

Then this means that there is nothing in God that would - I could not say arrogantly shut me out, since after all, to received damaged goods is a thing of kindness - but there is nothing divine that would try to keep me out, except the truth.

Yes, in this sense, that the Lord would keep out hypocritical desire to get in to be served and have a good time, without love; for God IS love as in I John 4:7 and on. You see that simply and clearly in Matthew 7:21ff..

I understand, it means that nothing that is not loving ever controls Him; that even if He judges, it is only after having desired to save and done all that could in purity, truth and honour BE done to save, there was a  no go on the love-basis, so that He condemns because love's pardon is rejected and there is no other!  In this way,  for all His love and His desire, He DOES condemn on the will basis, because what HE would like is one thing, to save ALL, being reconciled to Himself: but it is not a desire which breaches reality. The saving is not going to be a statistical triumph and a qualitative failure. What HE saves will be on His terms and in His KNOW-ledge, what is factual, not like a mere impetus or deviant desire without sincerity.

Yes, we must face two divine facts: GOD would like to save ALL, and MAN is responsible, in his will, for this not being so. As it is NOT according to man's will-as-on-earth, since this is blinded toward God (John 1:12, I Corinthians 2:14), and since moreover God SAYS so - as in Ephesians 2:12 and 4:17 and on - then it is according to what is FOREKNOWN, and this not about what actions man will do, as if to watch and see, this being excluded in Romans 9:11, but according to HIS way of absolute knowledge, beyond creation itself.

I DO trust Him. It all lives, is consistent, and I for one am certainly NOT going to hold back and REFUSE to be reconciled. Indeed, since I KNOW it is not His desire that I should, I will come boldly, that is with confidence, and receive Him and His word, taking the key of the Gospel of divine grace, and trusting Him, be saved.

You could not do that unless He had awakened you, granted it to you, as Christ makes clear in John 6:65.

He has stated what He desires, has granted it both to me and to Himself in this, and I rejoice to be one of His saved ones.

That is a good expression for in Ephesians 2:8, literally, it has that "by grace you are having-been-saved by faith." It means that then you are a having-been-saved person. In Greek grammar, this means here that the saving is the present result of a past episode. You WERE saved and hence you abide in this resultant state. WHEN HE operates in His grace, using faith, which stirs in terms of the foreknown reality, then the result is a having-been-saved person. The participle used does not refer to a process of being saved, but to an event, your having been saved. It is a resultant; it is all over - He who drinks of that water as in John 4, will never thirst again, and the one who eats of that bread, as in John 6:47ff., will live forever. John 6:54 tells us that if you ever eat of His flesh (obviously, in terms of the sacrificial Lamb passover language) and drink of His blood, you have eternal life. That has no interruption.

None at all ?

No, for you then both have eternal life and are to be raised up on the last day AND have eternal life. In fact, in Ephesians 2:8, it adds this: for not only are  you through grace by faith a having-been-saved person, but this whole thing is NOT OF YOURSELF. The gender of the word for 'that' means it is not faith, but the entire program of being saved through faith by grace, that is in view.

It is then a bloc, a totality that comes as one effectual unit ?

Indeed yes. Being saved through faith by grace, it is THIS which is declared to be not of yourselves. It is a given thing. Since this given thing with its salvation through grace, using faith, is NOT of yourself - and it says more - but is "the gift of God", then your are out of the place to break it.

You mean, then there is no scope for disruption! Yes, and this would be by ANYONE, since God is kore powerful than all, and this is HIS gift in such a style that the whole matter, salvation itself, is NOT OF US. Hence it is water-tight, an exclusion.

Of course: that is why Paul can state in Ephesians 1:11, in this very same epistle, that we (the Christians) HAVE OBTAINED AN INHERITANCE.

I say, I have just realised that when it states in Ephesians 1:5, that we who are Christians are ADOPTED into His family, and in I John 3, that we are begotten again, so that sin is no more our controlling natural habitat, this comes to the same thing. HIS seed is incorruptible.

Yes, that is as in I Peter 1:23, and it relates to what Peter has just said, earlier in this Chapter as God enabled him to do, that we who are Christians, through His abundant mercy, have been "begotten again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven" for us each one.

Indeed that is so. His will being stated, and you now being saved, nothing can by any means then separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, as Paul is assured in Romans 8:37-39. In all these things we are not only conquerors, but MORE THAN CONQUERORS, since the conquest relies on and is a gift of God.

I see. That means that fraud or ulterior motives will be found out; but what DOES receive Him by faith, which is through grace,  will never die.

That is how it comes to be that Christ could say that "He who believes in Me, even if he should die, shall  live, and whoever lives and believes in Me, shall not ever die, forever," in John 11:25-26. Eternal life and believing in Him, the Lord's Christ, the One defining precisely who God is (Hebrews 1), definitive of Him, being His eternal word made flesh, given and destined to die in expiation of sin for all who believe in Him: these are inseparable.

THIS then is what the Father desires, THIS is the way it is covered, and when it is received by faith, then it is all complete. He face lit up with an almost seraphic smile.

It was a pleasure to respond. To be sure, I added, when it is received by mere deception, hypocrisy, ulterior motive and so on, it is invalid. But if you repent of sin, receive the Saviour and put your trust in Him, according to His word, it already is shown that you were foreknown. As it shows in Romans 8:30, there is a circuit. IF foreknown, THEN predestined; IF predestined THEN called; IF called then justified; IF justified then glorified as in Romans 8:17 and 8:30.

Yes, I both believe it and receive Him, with and in full confidence that He who has begun a good work in me, will complete it, and am persuaded that I now know whom I have believed and that He will keep me against that day!

Complete love casts out fear, as I John tells us.

He is neither a brigand nor unfaithful;  for He who calls me is faithful, who also will do it. That's in I Thessalonians 5.

You have mused often on these things.

When the light shines, then you see: praise God that the Lord IS light. That's stated, I believe,  in I John 1:5. Nothing that is dark or has darkness can find any place in Him.

Oh, by the way, concerning wisdom as the principal thing. This is so in directing you to the way in Christ; for if you do now know it, how will you find it! But once you are in the kingdom, as in our case at the first, inside your home, having found the key which to get in was the principal thing, then what it is for, is found. With the home of God, since He is love, it is a life of love, and to try to live in some other way is both useless and valueless. The principal path to Him, requires wisdom for its finding, and He GIVES that in the Gospel. The principal value in that path is love, His love, and this is not shorn of what He is like, for I John 5 tells us that we know we love the brethren if we love God and keep His commandments, which are not grievous, but have love as their very essence. Love and truth are friends in infinity, for LOVE REJOICES IN THE TRUTH (I Cor. 13:6), AND THE WORD OF GOD IS TRUTH (as in John 17:17), and the Son of God is THE TRUTH (as in John 14:6).

It is true that He is loving, and lovely that He is true.

That says it.

What a lot there is to possess in these unpossessive superlatives of the gracious God, who knowing His own, takes them, taking them keeps them, keeping them loves them, like a shepherd with His sheep.

That is what He said in Ezekiel 34, that woeful as were the shepherds there for the exploitation of the flock for their own benefit. HE would PERSONALLY come an BE the good Shepherd, as Christ indicates in John 10, the One who gives His life for the sheep, and keeps them so that no one can snatch them out of His hand, His Father ensuring it. His is a chaste love but it is an enduring one, and when He who is infinite loves, you have the greatest love story of all time, in truth.