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CHAPTER THREE

THE TRUTH OF DIVINE LOVE

AND THE LOVE OF DIVINE TRUTH

THE LOVE OF GOD

MUST NOT BE TRUNCATED,

MINIMALISED

BY HUMAN ENTERPRISE

BUT REALISED AS IT IS RELEASED

IN THAT BLESSED BOOK, THE BIBLE

II Timothy 2:19

  "Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal,
The Lord knows those who are His.
And, Let every one who names the name of Christ
depart from iniquity."
 

If you want to know the biblical schema, the site and situation of salvation, to understand the presentation of God in words, as well as be faithful to it in history, if your aim is not to slip or  slide but face the divine music without philosophical innovation or startling enterprise, shifting like a paid barrister or inflated orator, then it is necessary to know what it is, and hence to study it. To honour the word of God, you have to be faithful to it, and for this, you have to weigh every part of it, and ensure nothing is short-changed.

When you do, you have that one most magnificent harmony of thought, that best translation of all, the word of God into practice in Jesus Christ, and that remedy for the race which leaves no clouds of confused thought, but transmits the very beauty and clarity of truth. One breath from the Lord, and there falls a misinterpretation; but when every breath (II Timothy 3:16) is followed, then safety arises. We may use this or that apologetic device, to SHOW that the word of God ALONE is coherent in treating the whole matter of man, superior to all logical requirements and not merely meeting them, and this method has been followed at times in the biblical apologetics presented;  but in the end, it is what He says that must be believed. When this is done, then there is liberty, for it is the Lord Himself who has inspired His word, and He, He knows what He is doing (I Peter 1:10ff., II  Peter 1:16-21).Nevertheless, this removes all vestiges  of any support for the use of extraneous thought to remould and distort the word of God. There is NEVER excuse for that, though it is often practised. In such apologetics, then, it is desired to remove any such temptation, illicit though it always is.

When Jesus arose and came to this earth, with patience enduring the humiliation of being a babe, the trial of youth, the test of young manhood (Matthew 4), and the challenge of presentation of the truth (Luke 4), there was one motive and motif which was never distant. You see it in lament in Matthew 23:37ff., where He tells how OFTEN He would have gathered the chickens like a hen, under His wings, but Jerusalem would not (cf. SMR Appendix B). The city ? It was not willing. He was; they were not: and since He is God, God was, they were not (John 8:58). In Jeremiah 8-10, 48, Ezekiel 33:11, I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff., in John 3:16-19 with 36, in Isaiah 48:16ff., Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff., Revelation 3:20-21, Proverbs 1, in all of these you see in clarion, in charming, in choice, in appealing, in longing terms, the love of God for anyone, even found under the hedges, in the byways, rescued from devils, ANYONE who should believe, and more and more of His longing that this be so. It is no loss of sovereignty that love is subject to self-control, that its purity is preserved, that it becomes neither manipulation nor secret snatch.

The love is both evident and pure. Its thrust is evident, total, for the world, even the heavens and the earth, for reconciliation of man to God by the blood of the Cross! (Colossians 1:19ff.). Who will countermand it ? Who amend it ? who truncate, who delimit it but God! Yet He DOES NOT so act, EXCEPT there be, CONTRARY and contradictory to His appeal, longing and infinite resources to help, to heal, to make holy, to atone, to cover, to protect,  to inspect and re-install unblighted life into the most toxic: just one thing. While it is He who administers it, it is MAN (in his own soul, as before God who knows all and did so before time was invented as we know it and experience it), that is the obstruction.

God longs; man makes songs to himself in the dark, quasi-saves his own soul like a surgeon with a rusty and a blunt scalpel, scoffs at salvation, makes the earth out of nothing in his socially acceptable dreams, just so as to contrast in his wild waffle, to the uttermost with ALL his own practical efforts, where things must be made very much from something, and where what is not presented as DONE already, seen or discovered,  must be laboured for with acuity, with agility, with responsibility, with application of mind. MAN does not manage to avoid work for his own missions, enterprises and labours, his creations and his erections of citadels, towers, robots, directed rockets, flights to the moon or of fancy. Yet in his toxic and intoxicated imagination, he manages to contrive such a comedy of flair in the air, that his own construction, and that of the ordered cosmos is to be made from nothing at all, really, just nothing at all, sometimes in bit coming from nothing at all, and sometimes in bigger bits, or things left lying around, question begging give-aways,  they argue, and forget the origins of the bits and of their alleged potential: but in any case, amid the blindness what does it matter ?

So man deludes himself, as if to avoid responsibility, and loves, or hates, himself in schizophrenia, detests his neighbour in war and makes sport of his own image, in virtual dis-assemblage, as if his construction, design, conditions of life, manner of reproduction, meaning of love, beauty, truth and duty were all in the air, flimsy particles of nothing.

This he does,  though the guillotine continues to speak, the moral and the spiritual guillotine, yes and the social and the psychological one, yes and the one that half kills being a little off, but a wounding one for all: yes, it speaks, it shouts: but man will not hear. The blade just happened to be sharp, he says, to be suspended above his social, his political, his psychological head, merely arose on a gallows, and his head just had some occasion to be on the block, and the fit was a fancy. SO he deludes himself with endless plans, subsidises aborigines in Australia at times in ludicrous, destructive ways, without regard to their responsibility, their challenge and their need, money-recipients who frequently abuse the power, while mineral rights come in to add a few millions here or there, corrupted by misdirection, enabled to be their own derangers. Not all are such ?

No, not all, but very many, and they want to have their own lore to become law, so that we no longer have Australia, but a multi-State. What misdirected charity is this, and what utter thanklessness for our heritage which enables such liberality even if it be not of love but feeling, and permits such indulgence. One of their own people, Noel Pearson is not unaware of such things, and seeks a responsible people, not the paternalism of propriety.

It is not that more harshness is needed, but more realism. MANY for many reasons want this and that, but liberty is the sufferer in the end,  as an all-encompassing State, ignoring the ground of man, makes him a thing to be cultivated by the philosophies of nescience, materialism, control, so that the madness of some might become the manacles of others. While some do this, others are going to the opposite extreme, not only without sensitivity but without any sensibility at all.

Thus, in China, you do as you are told, or are readily made a State enemy, imprisoned, harassed, abashed if necessary, scolded, re-taught, told in what way to think, as the devil blinks and winks, man taking over the control of his nothingness with nothing less than the arrogance of a fallen god, which not being what he is, produces a moral stench and an impersonal calamity. Russia tried it, China has it in parts when convenient, North Korea adds atomic weapons to it, not of her own thought but acquired.

In turn,   Iran longs to dominate the Middle East with another imperialism no less cavalier, made from a god whose testimony has neither proof, nor confirmation, neither verification nor comparison with Christ, but has so often used force in matters of faith that it has become almost a byword for smiting; while its intimidations are aiding many a people to give a liberty to subversion in their own lands. As if this flirtation with fancy were not enough,  the Islamic States almost always require total control and proceed to enormous denials of liberty in their own lands, for anyone who requires a God of truth and reality, whose words may be tried, and whose testimonies may be verified, without flogging or burying or torturing, or assault of a horrendous sexual nature being practised on those who insist on truth, not mere force.

Imperialism of nothings, that is, in  what allegedly comes from nothing, as with many, or from made-up gods, whose word has nothing to substantiate it: it is these authoritarian thrusts which writhe on the earth, and sometimes clash in their emptiness.

There is no love in this. Without love, man withers. So many tired of being moral, spiritual entrepreneurs, seek to fill the gap left by the evacuation of God from their minds, with women, false marriages to their own gender or to the opposite, for a moment or a day or week or year or four or five, as an experiment in personality, in liaison, while the devastated children come into the picture, like odd portraits bought in an Op Shop, and hung on the wall till they have to be moved to another house, or room or control unit, without other people here or there, as they happen to be splattered into ownership occupancy in houses of nothingness, where nothing matters but will.

What a prodigious offering from the love of God is this liberty to mock Him, to seek to substitute for Him, to change His laws, ignore His words, spit at Him like the Oxford magnate*1 of new morals, look for the delete button like Stalin, become hypnotised with system to the point of ignoring what is in it, like Hawking*2, as likewise to seek Him, to adore and worship Him, and in parallel,  to relate with grace to one another, or with crushing gusto!

When man fell into the trap of becoming a quasi-god with Eve, to be as God, as if in some sort of competition with divinity, being tempted and truncating the truth with relish, drooling for the fruits of severance from the position of creation, looking for new majesty and place in the universe, just as man, now fully fallen, still does but with more empty renegacy even than that, as if to delight in lung cancer, now that it is well established: what then happened ? It was this.

Then he entered a history of gawking at God. He became a would-be spiritual mutant, but remained a creation. The clash of concept with condition, of truth with desire has continued ever since, and when a people as in Australia, have a good and godly heritage in much, then readily they prepare to trade it in, seek a New Constitution in which the dependence on the Almighty, now present in its Preamble, is deleted, where atheists can rule, despite this, and atheism is the implicit because ostensibly adequate basis for their teaching flirtation with fancy.

When Professor Dodgson wrote Alice in Wonderland, he did not envisage it as real; but now the State writes ever new versions, Alice and Alec in Wonderland, making divorce from God a mere prelude as they seek marriage of those who could engender nothing but rebellion against His most explicit rules and determinate design, as if man could undo himself and write a new script for body as well as mind and heart, a new heavens for heart and a new planet for  spirit.

But God loves, as from Him is the only possible truth, the only possible absolute, being unconditioned by anything and conditioning all things, whether to freedom on trial, as with man, within the bounds of law and reason, or to programmatics as in the extraordinarily compressed structures and systems present in the high-flying birds. It is man who is conditioned, but not unconditionally. Thus while sin has smashed, like an automobile accident, his liberties through connivance with folly, salvation is ready to secure his redemption, through the Cross of Christ. There is repair just as there was creation.

It is because God loves.

How great is that love, of this much more we shall shortly see.

I

THE DISMAL NON-SALVATION OF DARWIN BY DAWKINS:
ESCAPING AN UNHOLY HOAX

THE GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT LOVES

In his mandate for man, Professor Dawkins, the Darwin devotee, speaks of the God of the Old Testament as if ignorant that He is one and the same with the God of the New Testament, filled with compassion, not absentee, ready to judge, willing to pardon, never duped, not co-operative with delusion but a lover of truth and of man in the truth, where not nothing but God is his Maker, and not nothing, but truth is his Mentor, and not uprightness but sin is his downfall, and not ruin but redemption is His offer.

This has been pointed out before both in The Kingdoms of the World and the Kingdom of Christ Ch. 9 and Gratitude for His Glorious Grace Ch. 2. In the former, Dawkins is exposed point by point for inaccurate exegesis of the Bible, making a god who does not exist, foisting him on the Old Testament, and seeking to convict God of sin, merely expatriating his own dislikes, making a scare-crow of God, the God of the Old Testament, and putting the old clothes of his own pet hatreds upon Him.

This is like the mockery at feasts of which the Bible speaks (Psalm 35:16).

"With ungodly mockers at feasts," it says,

"they gnashed at Me with their teeth ... "

 

"Let them not rejoice over Me who are wrongfully My enemies,"

says the Messiah seen in vision of things to come,  

"who are wrongfully My enemies, nor let them wink with the eye who hate Me without a cause...
Let them not say in their hearts, 'Ah, so we would have it!
Let them not say, 'We have swallowed Him up."

Here is the same situation as in Psalm 69 and 41 and 109, where the Messiah is lampooned, dismissed dishonourably, mouthed with spiritual slander, which came to its height at the crucifixion (foretold in some  detail in Psalm 22) prior to the resurrection (the same in Psalm 16). Psalm 35:5-6 shows as109, the utter loss of those conflicting with this 'seed of David' to whom he so often refers in his Psalms, moving in time to this climax of his own encounters (as in Psalm 73, 45, 110, 2).

 Indeed, in Psalm 69:19-21, you find this:

"Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour:
my adversaries are all before thee.

"Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness:
and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none;
and for comforters, but I found none.
They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."

God is love, nothing contrary to it may be found in Him, for before truth exacts and justice condemns, and there is very much to condemn, love intervenes, and "in all their afflictions, He was afflicted;;; In His love and in His pity, He redeemed them, and He bore them and carried them ... " (Isaiah 63:9).

Even at that, the nation proceeded on its diversionary program soon enough:

"But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit, so He turned Himself against them ..."

Something of the empathy in Jeremiah and the wonder of the love and wounding of the Lord is considered in Gratitude for His Glorious Grace Ch. 2, from which this excerpt is taken.

 

THE HOPE!

 

MATTERS OF LOVE, WHOSE PURE LABOUR IS NEVER LOST

WHEN THE LOVE IS OF GOD,

AS SHOWN IN THE EARLY CHAPTERS OF JEREMIAH

 

TIME TO LOOK AROUND IN THE WORD OF GOD

 

"MY PEOPLE"

This term, "My People" is one used in the midst of passion, compassion, zealous care, prompt concern, solicitude and under extreme provocation, of degradation and indeed, something near to dissolution, in the mouth of the Lord.

Love is like that. It sees with intensity, hopes with immensity, seeks with strong propensity, propels the loved one in the direction of good (we are not speaking of mere passion of the flesh, but love in spirit). Yet let the object of this affection become not merely degraded, not merely erroneous, but dissolute and dead, the light of life dimmed by the variety of vicissitudes which maul, befoul and make morbid or moribund, and let the appeals and hopes become as vain as Autumn leaves which fall, full of colour but not colourable as alive: then the love may indeed leave the object as one leaves a dream.

Love is persistent and insistent, but does not use force: that, it is simply irrelevant. The WHOLE POINT is the discretion of being in the image of God, as human beings are, and having a whole rainbow of elements on which to lodge, many wrongly taken, from which to be dislodged. With God, there is this magnificent creation, man, in His image, and hence able to resist Him (in the sense of the love which He freely proffers, not of course in the sense of breaking with what He has determined as just and good and right and true), a fact on which Stephen in Acts 8, dwelt not a little. Indeed, YOU DO ALWAYS RESIST THE HOLY SPIRIT! this was his charge as he was being hauled off to death, in their proud spirits, soon by their stony hearts and stone-filled hands.

Hence we see this, not only in Matthew 23:37 (as demonstrated in SMR Appendix B), and Luke 19:42ff., not merely in Ezekiel 33:11, and in principle in I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff. (cf. Great Expectations ... Chs. 7 and 9), not merely in John 3:16-19 (cf. The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch.     4Beauty of Holiness Ch.   2 ), in precept invulnerable and coherent with spectacular light, but in the remonstrances of intimate, prolonged and systematic kind, as in Jeremiah, where the situation develops, as in a romance novel, before our eyes.

It is at these that we now look; for if in the last chapter, our concern was the end, in this it is nearer the beginning, the free flow of divine love, exposed in vast clarity as it moves towards a conflict where the vulnerable is besought, but resists; is given pleadings, exhortations, remonstrances, offers, opportunities, but rejects; where the surging power of love, of which procreative love is merely the created shadow of the increate wonders of the love of God, moves in its fluency as from mountain dams spilling over.

We look now, as we will look further in a different manner, later, at the term "My people!" as seen in Jeremiah 8-9, and indeed, many, many times in the first 10 chapters of Jeremiah.

This term of possession, parallel to "my curtains" (4:20) and "my tents" and "the daughter of My people" (8:11 cf. SMR Appendix B), the latter a term used often by the Lord in Isaiah, Jeremiah, to mean simply that generation of the people of Israel which currently is the contemporary product, illustration, example, the addressees of the moment, viewed as one amidst the long litany of generations since the city was taken in the day of King David.

The particular term 'My people'  is used in Jeremiah as a keynote term, as in 4:22, where it is declared by the Lord:

"For My people are foolish, they have not known Me.
They are silly children and they have no understanding.
They are wise to do evil,
but to do good, they have no knowledge."

Indeed, this term in particular is a norm for divine declaration to Israel, and except for the odd occasion where there is a king or a foreigner (like Ruth) who wishes to refer to the obvious realities of this or that people, or the ones given to his rule, or a Psalmist who provides by sharing, a reflective overview of the dealings of the Lord, and so speaks in a manner which is almost indirect speech from the Lord, it is used BY the Lord. WHEN HE is in view, no other relationship of this kind can stand; and this the more so, since He has both created,  and provided for the redemption of Israel, who is regarded as married to Him (as in Ezekiel 20, and Hosea, throughout the entire book).

It is when HE addresses His people, that no other claim, no other name can be intruded. If it did, to what could that be compared ? It would be like a secretary adding her two cents worth, in the very midst of the boss's address to his 20,000 employes, or a child, interpolating his authoritative view in grand perspective, as the husband is having a vast and crucial conversation with his own wife! It is unthinkable.

No case can be found, where the "I" and "you" starting as the Lord's address, is suddenly changed into that of a mere prophet, talking in his own name or right, to the people, in parallel terminology. It would not only be confusion, but bear the feeling of precisely what put Moses out of doing more than SEE the promised land, when he remonstrated. How, on that saddest of occasions, did the normally patient Moses remonstrate with the (admittedly) rebellious people ? MUST WE bring forth the water ? he asked, and he struck it not just once as required, but twice, adding his two cents' worth. WE ? Who is DOING it ? after all...

The impropriety could not be better illustrated. It is a thing that cannot be done, except in folly. God is too utterly distinct for that, His meaning too utterly crucial for any other way to open, even to the curious flurries of human thought.

In Jeremiah 8-9, therefore we come to the hugely delightful exposure of the divine passion.

In nearly all cases, and in all such cases, whether in Hosea where it is a covenantal designation of deity for His people, as He roves from phase to phase of their coming history before Him, it is a zealous thing that occurs in this use of this phrase. It carries overtones of marriage sometimes express and explicit, and appropriate calls, both because of so exalted a Lord and of so exalted a relationship to Him (as in Deuteronomy 4:7-9).

It is used when the topic is divine benevolence fulfilled, or excised, and the gamut is seen in Jeremiah, where to this is added that yet to come in the most distant future, when the ark of the covenant shall no more be visited, yes when it will no more so much as come to mind (Jeremiah 3:16, one of those many pivotal verses of this numerical sequence, throughout the Bible, interestingly enough!).

"My people" in this way,  is in Jeremiah as in Hosea, a thematic phrase, used to arrest attention, remind of duties, instil awareness of divine solicitude and concern, determination and awareness as such! It becomes a phrase in the symphony, like a repeated thematic group, pulsing with power because so easily recognisable, playing on such similar lyrical and historical components. It is almost a form of arrest, either of attention, for blessedness, or for coming ruin.

To be sure, there is a great deal of empathy, and of empathetic extensions of the Lord's feelings, which at times are exhibited with leaping emotions, in ways expressed in the form of man or even found spilling out from the mouth of the prophet as the passion of the Lord sweeps through him like a torrent and he is seized with its majesty. This is readily to be understood by men, from the mouth of the Lord, whose intensity went so far that He actually came and endured their griefs in His own person both direly and directly, moving from metaphorical figure, to express readily understood truth, to literal physicality, thus moving at the acme of acuity, in due time to ebbing physiological circuits and dripping fluid of life, on the Cross.

Why then is it felt by some that anger can be so expressed (as in fact in Ezekiel 38:18, where the Lord says that His wrath will show in His face, when a gross violation of Israel's integrity occurs in the last times), and not His love! Is He self-immune whose ear in fact, is so finely attuned to hear, that He cannot so respond! What a preposterous imagination that would be! ... and how finely is His ear attuned, we see in Jeremiah 4:31, the Lord speaking (4:27), declaring this (cf. Jeremiah 8:6 very directly):

"For I have heard a voice as of a woman in labour.
The anguish as of her who brings forth her first child.
The voice of the daughter of Zion bewailing herself.
She spreads he hands, saying,

'Woe is me now, for my soul is weary because of murderers!' "

It was then to be, as it is now! When the Lord's covenantal protection is lost in the time of Israel's being cut off, before at last being re-grafted back (as in Romans 11's figure), then the hatred of man can rage and spoil; but then again, the response of the Lord, in His own appointed time,  can flush out the fevers of wickedness more sharply than can any man! As in Deuteronomy 32:36-43, where He will 'lay My hand on My sword', this is a matter of small difficulty to any realising that this is divine communication, not solace for psychological romancers.

It means that He will use power with a sharp and effective edge and divine might to make happen the thing He desires, in the face of military style opposition. Surely a babe could see that; but when it comes to love, people now often, in this theological field, seem to oddly pseudo-Victorian, in a strange sort of way, and to be unable to see the clear statements of the Lord concerning His love in case after case!

Some cases have had to be shown in the face of headwinds of tradition; but here it is simply a matter of a strange veering away, shown in some translations, in the inverted commas added, or in additions to the text in italics and so on.

In Jeremiah 5:2, the Lord asks, "How shall I pardon for this ?", in the pressure of love in the face of remorseless renegacy on the part of the loved, Israel. He expostulates; indeed He refers in the gamut of intimate intensity of emotion (5:30) to something with an impact resembling that on many, of the sinking of the Titanic, now taken up in monumental pictorial form.

"An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land:
the prophets prophesy falsely, the priests bear rule by their power,
and My people love to have it so.

"But what will you do in the end!"

 

The prophet enquires for the Lord, with no little pith ( Jeremiah 6:10 cf. 5:1ff.!):

"To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear ?

Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed.

Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them.

They have no delight in it."

"Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD,"

the Lord continues (as if a king would say, I am full of the fury of the Royalty). The text proceeds to make divine declarations about what He is going to  do ( (6:12ff.),for the thing emanates  from the heart of the Lord, by His mouth..

 

He proceeds to give His word quite expressly in complete continuity and contiguity (6:11ff.):

"I am weary of holding it in,

I will pour it out ...

Because from the least of them even  to the greatest,

Everyone is given to covetousness,

And from the prophet,

Even to the priest,

Everyone deals falsely.

They have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly ...

They shall be cast down, says the Lord."

The LORD asks them to go to the place of Shiloh, where the explicit testimony was earlier made to His name (cf. Deuteronomy 12:11). He spoke to them then, rising early and declaring (again see the clear use of human terminology for divine action and emotion, without the least question arising at to what is meant, for it merely makes it more intimately assessable, the proper work of metaphor). He will again cast them out. Therefore, the LORD says,

"Do not pray for this people ..." (7:16).

The alienation is intense and immense, and is seen stretching for a considerable historical period, until in Jeremiah 8, we hear the strength of love coming with pity once more: "Shall they fall and not rise ? Will one turn away and not return ?" Continuing to expostulate, the Lord speaks of the stork knowing her appointed times, whereas

"My people do not know the judgment of the LORD."

Thus once again, it is not "this people" but "My people"! (8:11), that phrasing of the melody of the music of His passion, that speaks, that evokes. He evidences His continuing fostering desire, in the very midst of their misrule.

 

 

"MY HEART IS FAINT IN ME ... WHY HAVE THEY PROVOKED ME TO ANGER ..."
 

Then in Jeremiah 8:18, we hear once more the divine soliloquy, if one uses the word of drama, and this is a divine drama:


"I would comfort myself in sorrow,
My heart is faint in me.
Listen! The voice, the cry of the daughter of My people from a far country.

'Is not the LORD in Zion ?

Is not her King in here ?'

Why have they provoked Me to anger...."

 

 It is, and it remains His people, His land, His place whether or not He sees fit as He explicitly promised for chronic, continued covenant breaking in Leviticus 26:32-33, to expatriate them for a period before they should return. In His divinely inimitable and frequently repeated mode, like an initial strings phase for a concerto of piano, an introductory pattern, He asks, "Is there no balm in Gilead!" a richly rhetorical and evocative query! "Why then is there no recovery..." (8:32).  While 9:1ff. suffuses the  relationship of prophet to the Lord, there is all but no end to the alternation if one tries to separate here the speaker, the Lord, from the words as if of Jeremiah, following 8:18.

There we find "for behold I will send serpents, next "I would  comfort Myself" then "Why have they provoked Me to anger...", then "For the hurt of the daughter of My people I am hurt," the apostrophe of 8:22, then "Oh, that My head were waters... that I might weep" and he makes it as when He mourned over Jerusalem, when in the flesh, which in a sense He here anticipates in form of expression, an empathetic extreme in His woes for His people. In a few words, He enunciates the basic cause of these woes which He Himself feels so keenly: " 'they do not know Me,' says the Lord."

Just as He has condescended to use human terminology to paint divine emotion (and as noted above, this is in the incarnation perfected, for it becomes His, though holy and divine in quality), so He goes a unit further here, stating this: "For the heart of the daughter of My people, I am hurt!" (8:21).

"Is there no balm in Gilead,"

the Lord asks in rhetorical question, not untinged with both pity and irony ?

"Is there no physician there ?
Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of My people."

 Jeremiah is not indulging in such questions, as the tutelary authority of the Lord is apparent. We do not have a confused and unclear medley of prophet and Lord speaking without pellucid distinguishing marks. When the Lord speaks unless there is categorical clarity that there is prophetic response, as sometimes occurs, there is nothing but presumption to take it that He has ceased.  In Jeremiah 8:17 He declares His word in His name, as in 8:19 He refers to the matter in His own terms ("provoked Me"), for it is not the provocation of Jeremiah which is the difficulty bringing ruin.

 

Nor in the verse Jeremiah 8:18 is it a sudden lapse,

"For the hurt of the daughter of My people I am hurt. I am mourning."

Is the Lord not allowed to mourn ? Is this not precisely what He is doing in Isaiah 48:16ff.! as in Matthew 23:37ff., as in Luke 19:42ff., as in essence in Jeremiah 13:27 ?

Indeed, in Jeremiah 13 we find a number of injunctions from the Lord, following this, that "the Lord has spoken" in Jeremiah 13:15. "Hear and give ear," and then "Say to the king and to the queen," with later, "Lift up your eyes and see",  leading on to  "therefore will I scatter them like stubble", shortly followed by "Therefore I will uncover your skirts," and "I have seen your adulteries," consummated in "Woe to you, O Jerusalem," with the complex of pity, upbraiding, appeal, mortification and pathos, "When once will you be made clean!"

Yet it is here precisely (Jeremiah 13:17), that we find His lamentation,

"But if you will not hear it, My soul shall weep in secret for your pride,
My eyes shall weep bitterly and run down with tears."

It is just as in Jeremiah 48:30-32, where following, " 'I know his wrath,' says the Lord, 'but it is not right; his lips have made nothing right,' " we are have this further revelation of the heart and mind of God:

"Therefore I will wail for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab,"

proceeding in 48:35, to add to the point already made,

"Moreover, says the Lord, I will cause to cease..."

Why do so many seem to imagine that God must not show His heart, even when He does so very frequently, in intimation, exhortation, lamentation! At times, there is sound of that time (Jeremiah 31:26) when the heart will be made clean (in answer to Jeremiah 13:27), and the Lord says of this, " 'As I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to throw down, to destroy, to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,' says the Lord." Expostulation and pity, justice and mercy move like winds on the waters, mourning and warning, and how long is the pity extended (as in the amazing offer of Jeremiah 17)!'It is as in Ezekiel 20, where again and again (verses 9, 14,  17, 22), the Lord acts to delay the advent of justice, with an internal labour of love.

As Isaiah is moved  to expose it in 63:9,"In all their affliction, He was afflicted!" How great was that hurt to become in the vessel of time, in the field of history, when the due date for it, aptly predicted through Daniel 9 (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), in the fulness of this appointed time (Galatians 4:4), came around, and the clock for crucifixion (as in Psalm 22, 16), struck One!

The Lord even declares, "Astonishment has taken hold of Me," this amid mourning (8:21 and cf. 5:30), thus indicating that beyond time, there is that same awareness as we find differently IN time, for the Lord is not void of feeling, even to the point that His own human, late incarnate form, became void of seemliness as it was butchered more than any man, defaced, deformity for deity the human acclaim! (Isaiah 52:12ff.). THAT is the extent to which His sensitivies are activated, that He permitted their physical loss for their spiritual gain!

Just as the soul of Christ, facing sin-bearing was full of heaviness (Matthew 26:37, as foretold in Psalm 69:20-21 cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), but alight with love and duty, with discipline and devotion, seeing the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12), the redemption of many, so did the sheer horror of the cost of love, the cost to man of sin, awaken in Him the divine equivalent of what in human terms is the evocation of being staggered (Jeremiah 8:21, Hebrews 5:7). Time did not dim the eternal reality; but it merely was a base as He transferred it to human terms.

All this He suffers because it is His people, His place, His redemptive love, indeed the love of the Creator for such a people, so found, so provided for, so entreated, so known, so covenantally close to Him (as expressly in Deuteronomy 4, noted above). This Creator aspect is shown profoundly in two ways, as in Jeremiah 5:22-25, where the sheer splendour of creation and its delimitations is in view, and in Jeremiah 4:22-27, where it is as if the entire creation were to be dismembered into a disordered reversal, and things to become once more without form and void! Sin desecrates, and this can be seen from the mind of the Creator Himself, as a movement back to the very springs of His creation, a defilement evoking the image of the earth unformed, since to be wilfully DEFORMED is not unlike being not yet formed!

So intense is the Creator spirit, as the Lord looks on the defilement of MY PEOPLE!

In Jeremiah 5:22-25 case, we learn the extent of the human disorder, called sin, when the Lord declaims (5:26ff. - bold added):

"For among My people are found wicked men,

They lie in wait as one who sets snares:

They set a trap,

They catch men.

As a cage is full of birds,

So their houses are full of deceit.

Therefore ..."

Notice that therefore! It is a continual refrain, this 'therefore' concerning judgment, and as here, where every conceivable means is used to prevent it, overcome it, with offers both direct and subtle, a panoply of peace continually provided, yet in the end, it comes, as an old coat goes, when (if it could), it refuses to be cleansed or mended. There is nothing else for it! It is sad, most sad, but sure, most sure ... It goes.

The junta rules mischievously in HIS NAME, and the people love to HAVE IT SO! (5:30-31).

How like to the time of the crucifixion it was, and what a time for realisation was thus provided, in the 70 year exile that followed the words of Jeremiah, before the 2000 or so years which would come the SECOND TIME, when they actually did not merely reject the word of the Lord through that great and faithful prophet, Jeremiah, but rejected their King Himself. It was always in view, and the emotions were displayed with incredible realism, or so it would be if it had not been the LORD Himself with His own expressive power (of which our very beings are part, as creations), who has shown it so, making the seemingly incredible certainly to be accomplished. Such is the prerogative of unlimited power and illimitable purity and majesty.

What folly, then,  it would be to try to defame His love by seeing all of this, and then trying to remove it, in its expression. Is it not a case of blinded eyes, or perhaps for some, just a blind spot! But the reason, the reason ...

Where does the prophet in indisputable manner, infuse with the very divine terminology of advanced and precise delineation of their position, his own word! He may comment on himself, or allude to this or that, but as to the divine message of his Mentor, it is as inviolable as the iceberg which impacted on the Titanic. It does not yield to any work at all, from the seas. It has its job to do, and it sinks men's thoughts, before those of the Lord.

This is not merely empirically so, but needful: for confusion in this aspect, of instrument for musician, of servant for master, for just this very thing, even in appearance, but perhaps in spirit for a moment, Moses lost His entry into the promised land, and died merely seeing it. The terms of speech, collected in their "My" phrases, following the Lord's introduction of Himself, indicted with majesty, determinate with assurance, directed with judgment, aflame with desire, arresting in their intimacy, extended in their appeal: these are sacredly significant, an autograph of power and omniscience, direct, immediate, linked to the whole gamut of divine emotions.

If at times they are expressed in human terms, prior to the incarnation, this is the depth of empathy, approaching the infinite, as in time expressed in that very incarnation: on which all the world depends, without which its end would have been sooner, but through which the divine passion being made practical to the last degree, there is hope. It comes like a helicopter above the wreckage of the ways of this world, ready and waiting, with this difference, that the pilot Himself, He knows whom, and when each must come, and the rope, it is the Gospel, nor is there any other (Galatians 1, Ephesians 1:10).

The preliminary words in the prelude of judgment, in the intensity of love, are all the more potent for their expression at times in human terms; just as they became yet more effective, when expressed in God manifest in the flesh, AS man (I Timothy 3:16, I Corinthians 2:8). He in turn, using still more imagery of still more tender appeal and solicitude, meaning and clarity, when on this earth, referred to a hen with her chickens (Matthew 23:37), in terms of His expressed desire to find. Again, it has the patient dedication of fishing! (as in Ezekiel 47, Mark 1:17).

Again, think of it as free-range chickens: it  is so very unwise not to listen, when the foxes abound!

It is all personal and expressed as such, for God IS personal, and we are made in His image, so that it is readily understood, once the fear of the Lord is also understood; for this is the beginning of wisdom, and "the knowledge of the Holy One, this is understanding," as Proverbs advises us (9:10 cf. Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Because the wisdom was rejected, the LORD announced this in Jeremiah 6:26:

"Oh daughter of My people, dress in sackcloth ... make mourning as for an only son,"

for the disaster to come.

"My people do not know..." (8:7) unlike the stork, which with its merely instinctive and instilled wisdom, yet knows timing and events to follow, exactly. At a discount compared with such purely natural wisdom, Israel stands condemned. Alas as in 8:11, they "healed the daughter of My people slightly." Thus, "they shall be cast down, says the Lord."

In this line, we come back to our old friends,

bullet "For the hurt of the daughter of My people, I am hurt!" (8:21, cf. Isaiah 63:9).

Why then, He asks, is there no balm ? "Why," He asks (8:19), "have they provoked Me to anger!" as He ponders with anguished pity the plight of His people, thrust right through to Jeremiah, and with extreme reluctance lets highly undesired but necessary judgment come to the too willingly afflicted, as if sin were set in unyielding concrete. On this love of God and practicalities of an intense character, also see Anguish,  Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Ch. 8, and in particular, this segment.

Thus there is this intensive, extended, multiply expressed, diversely designed method of appeal, approach, expression, intimate with wisdom, discursive in expression of what is found, both in the realm of evil and in the mode of the pathetic; it is zealous in provision, even if in the end, this is in necessary judgment. This it does, while looking yet to the glory to come, in the destiny grasped by undying love, for some of them, as in Jeremiah 3:12-18, where the transition from the Old Covenant to the New is expressed.

This is that which as Isaiah showed in 4, 32, 9, 11, 49-55, 61 and so on, was to be accomplished by the Messiah, in precisely the fulfilment of such language as expressed the heart of the Lord. It  is that seen as above in Jeremiah, now put into action with feelings authentic to the point of becoming human (cf. Hebrews 2).

It is useless to try to invest Jeremiah the man,  the prophet with this sovereignly attested and peculiarly sovereign possession, one gained by virtue of creation and redemption to come, famed in history, personally intimate in discourse, the counterpart in expressive mode of the wrath, yes and more so, for it is so persistent in mode and at times all but flamboyant in fervour (as in Hosea 12:10's overview). It is the LORD who so speaks, and no other; who CAN so speak, and there is no other.

It is this love which is the environment in which, and despite which the wrath at last comes.

In 9:15ff., accordingly, we find this:

"Why does the land perish and burn up like a wilderness,
so that no one can pass through?

"And the Lord said,

'Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them,
and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it,
but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them,


therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:

'Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood,
and give them water of gall to drink.
I will scatter them also among the Gentiles,
whom neither they nor their fathers have known...' "
 

So does He speak, in the congeries of well-matched terms, as though we were hearing throughout much of Jeremiah, phases of a long conversation, absorbing, vital, distilled in wisdom, unequal in vigour, but deep in desire, design and development.

The LORD asks us to understand the depth of His passion, compassion and truth (Jeremiah 9:23-24), for though it be purer than that of man, and not marked by selfishness, but by a glory of provision and gift: yet it must be seen outside the rigorous carvings of philosophy, for the personal glory that it in fact is. Unwise is he who jilts Him, in such a disclosure, though it be not intentional. The Lord, He declares, exercised in Him is both lovingkindness and righteousness, and judgment. Is this so difficult to read!

To try to force a comment of Jeremiah into this whole integration of interests and declamation, uniform declaration and sovereign majesty of style, as in Jeremiah 10:19-20, after the annunciation of the LORD speaking in 10:18, it is insupportable intrusion, not comportable with the Lord's repeated declaration in this very place,  that it is He speaking, nor with the integrity of His style throughout, His key-notes and His disclosures. It would be like a magazine, paying much for the words of some author, to be cited, having the journalist put in a few lines of his own, in similar style, even when repeatedly, almost every few words, the declaration is that it is the author himself who is speaking. 'O Lord' muses the prophet, but it is not he who speaks in the divine vein, merely to solicit the Lord, and so to show.

It is clear and distinctive, shown as shared by true credentials in the text. Otherwise, master and servant, speaker and instrument, Lord and one of His redeemed, the mixture would become a horror of misconception, a ruin of unreality, a confusion of folly.

To inscribe indifferently into what is to be transcribed ? That ? It would appear not merely cranky and piquantly odd, but an abuse of the stage.

Thus in 10:20 we read of the tender zeal of Him who though aware of the necessity of discipline, is yet poignant for what is lost, because of the love of what it is that is lost, and what is symbolised with it:

"My tent is plundered,

And all my cords are broken;

My children have gone from me,

And they are no more.

There is no one to pitch my tent anymore,

                                 Or set up my curtains."

The all but incredible seeming consistency of the love reminds one of a mother or father who so delights in the offspring, that every little thing is significant; but here, how much more so, since these sacred objects were typical and illustrative of the divine love to be conveyed into practical form in the Messiah, and with them went the preliminary preparation of heart and mind for that greatest event in the history of the universe, without which it would never have been created (Isaiah 51:16 with 49:2).

The poignancy and piquancy is that of the parent; to imagine Jeremiah speaking in this phase would be like someone visiting the Antarctic, envisaging that he were doing a topographical map of Adelaide.

When Jeremiah does wish to be heard in himself, we hear him, "O LORD..." with the utmost clarity, as in Jeremiah 10:23-24.

It is, as we have already seen in early preparation, here that we find that the wound must indeed be borne (10:19), and it was so found as Hebrews 5:7ff. shows, and Matthew 26:53ff. at Gethsemane, no less, as for that matter, Isaiah 50:4-7 in prediction, and Luke 9:51, in the process of fulfilment.  At last, it WAS borne in the most shocking circumstances at Calvary. "My heart is faint within Me," (Jeremiah 8:18 reminds accordingly of Psalm 22:13-14).  We see the mode both in Jeremiah 8:17ff., and 10:18ff..

These in order follow below (bold added).

"For behold, I will send serpents among you,

Vipers which cannot be charmed,

And they shall bite you," says the Lord.

 

"I would comfort myself in sorrow;

My heart is faint in me.

Listen! The voice,

The cry of the daughter of my people

From a far country:

 

'Is not the Lord in Zion?

Is not her King in her?'

 

"Why have they provoked Me to anger

With their carved images—

With foreign idols?

 

"The harvest is past,

The summer is ended,

And we are not saved!

For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt.

I am mourning;

Astonishment has taken hold of me.

 

"Is there no balm in Gilead,

Is there no physician there?

Why then is there no recovery

                   For the health of the daughter of my people?"

                                   

╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦╦

 

"Behold, I will throw out at this time

The inhabitants of the land,

And will distress them,

That they may find it so.

 

"Woe is me for my hurt!

My wound is severe.

But I say,

'Truly this is a wound,

And I must bear it.'

 

"My tent is plundered,

And all My cords are broken;

My children have gone from me,

And they are no more.

There is no one to pitch My tent anymore,

                        Or set up My curtains.

 

Why have they provoked Me to anger! ...
For the hurt of the daughter of My people, I am hurt.

Woe is me for my hurt!

My wound is severe.

HE is hurt ? but of course, it is precisely this which is shown in practical outcome on the Cross, where as I Peter 2 tells us, He bore our sins in His own body on the tree. How would such a necessity for justice and a provision of mercy NOT hurt!

 

The wound must indeed be borne, as Jesus Christ re-ascertained in agony of anguish at Gethsemane, asking, Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me! It was not possible, for the love of God is thus. It is not other. It pays. The price is illimitable, yet within purity, unexceptional; it is costly, but it is priceless, conducting not to negotiated compromise but to unsullied truth.

This wound ? the love of the Lord demands it, His mercy insists, His wisdom defines; and in Matthew 26, as in Hebrews 5:7, there is not even the clothing of a metaphor! There is a time when flesh can be far more eloquent than pictures, and can pay what they cannot ... When it comes to the final issue, there was blood. Metaphors, indeed, are not intended to invent their topic, as some oddity, but to apply its reality, to adorn and to illustrate it so that it can not only be savoured with certainty as to its thrust, but felt with vividness.

It is inconceivable in consistency to take these 'My' terms in their dilation and dignity, their continuity and their contexts here, and put any of them into the possession of some quasi-lordly Jeremiah! Alas for him, this was as far from him as is the sun from the moon; and well did he bear his so great humiliations.

 

HIS USAGE

 

Now we may indulge in a little research. The term 'my people' in any sort of relevance to the issue here, is to be found hundreds of times in the Old Testament, and the more one investigates, whether in Exodus, where the thing is so vastly minted (as in 3:7,10, 5:1, 7:16, 8:1,8,20,21,23, 9:1,13,17,27, 10:3-4, 12:31), or in Leviticus 26:12, in Samuel or I and II Kings, except for various slight references to this people versus that one, or the Psalm oddment noted below, there is such a track of usage as to make, for any determinative example, declarative and categorising, nothing short of a signature.

One may as king, refer to "my people" in the obvious sense of those to whom one is sent to help in rule and administration; or as a prophet, in the sense that he is virtually transmitting the word of God, by inspiration, to them, in Psalm 78, asking them to share as the people of his own flesh and blood, what may be found in review. But when it comes to a sustained first person address TO people, in which the name of the LORD appears, and HE refers to MY people, there would be no apparent parallel. When HE is referring to HIS people, there is no room for any other designation, for it eclipses all. A king may REFER to them in passing as such, or a prophet may assemble them by such an address, to hear him as one of them, but when the address is sovereign, direct, one of majestic oversight and impartation of destiny and control, you do not get such things.

We may look at hundreds of references in the Old Testament to "My people" and find it a relative rarity for even one such designation from the lips of one not the Lord, and except it be to distinguish one people, say Moab, from another, say Israel, or one's home people from one's new people.

In such cases the ground of the 'my' being neither the impartation of destiny nor the voice of rule in direct address to them, far less these things found in concurrence, there is the exception which proves the rule, the diversity from the category as defined, which illustrates its quality.

WHERE AT ALL is there to be found such an address, except by the Lord! But when it is a sustained impartation, with sustained designations of a generic and unlimited kind, there can be nothing outside folly, which so speaks. In Jeremiah, in vain would one look for it in any other context.

In THIS context, and in particular in the Chapters 8-9, so intensely evocative, what do we find ? Here we have the very NAME of the Lord used in "Me" in 9:3, and again in 9:6. The sovereign majesty is constant. In Jeremiah 8:19, there is asked the question, "Why have they provoked Me to anger ?" The "we are not saved" is empathetic in 8:20, as paralleled in 6:26*1,  and 6:24, where it appears as a simple digression, a sort of contained comment in the spirit of the Lord's compassionate concern, an awareness which He echoes, with all the feeling of a mother, citing her child, and speaking for herself.

"We have heard the report of it, our hands grow feeble," it proceeds in 8:24. Then the Lord resumes, after this echo from the result of His pronouncement, with His own speech.

Precisely so here, we have His direct speech, in 8:17, and in 8:18, there is the divine compassion, followed at once by the reflection of what is said in a far country. That in turn, the instant turn to a relevant response or word from some source, is followed at once in 8:19, with the question: "Why have they provoked Me to anger ?"

In short, you have divine diction of majesty and divulging ownership, authority, destiny and concern at the highest and deepest levels, with references interwoven to reflect what some say, as the events unfold, while the obvious tenor of the divine diction, having animated the speech by such globules of news, proceeds. There is no ambiguity and oddity about it; it is simple insertion of immediate response to His diction, to exemplify or exhibit what He is saying, like a swirl or eddy in a current, as the river moves on its way, the river of His discourse. This is signalised repeatedly as in 8:17,19, 9:3,6,8.

It is simply not possible to add to the word of the Lord, by making Jeremiah have his own majestic diction for his 'own' people interspersed with this claimant to offence, for in the presence of the Lord, no other claim is even visible! It is like a majestic phase in some concerto, repetitively exhibited by the piano, with slight violin asides, to supplement it, while it rolls on its distinguished and characterisable way. It is like a boat moving through the waters, in which the wash is far different from the vigour of impact of the prow itself.

To assume otherwise is to assume a lack of clarity which God denies relative to His word (Proverbs 8:8). TWO parallel voices would be ludicrous in such a reality of  divine monergism and majesty; but obvious asides as to the thought or response of those concerned, this is another matter. It is either explicit as in "O Lord', or else it is an illustrative part of the divine speech,  enveloped in the majesty of His diction, asides to illustrate as one might make in a speech.

The actual speakings of the prophet himself as occur from time to time, these lack any resemblance to the divine diction, and are as apparent as the moon in the presence of the sun, and are as diverse: a reflection, not the sweep of the supernal light of truth in its own name. Thus in 8:17-9:9, we have the Lord incontestably indicated as speaker, 5 times. That is 5 times in 15 verses! It is a remarkable number of ascriptions of direct divine diction.

The continuity is total, in majesty, impact, indifference to any possible competitive thought or approach, mentions diverse thoughts only to put them in place, dramatic moments where a RESPONSE type result is noted, to the divine call and initiative. "We are not saved" comes in His empathy with His people, an ironic empathy it seems, and an evocative one, because poignant; or "Is not the Lord in Zion ?"  appears, a case, directly attributed to foreign nations watching the here predicted devastation to come to Jerusalem. The speaker in profound empathy and awareness moves hither and thither in a multiply cognisant speech, touching this and that, citing this and that, moving with profound coverage, filled with zest, immovable in assurance, sensitive and spreading His look over all. The passion, sometimes expressed in human terms, overflowed ultimately in God's becoming man

The impetus of direct exhibition of the Lord's own voice, by announcement that He is speaking or adjectival continuity, this is repetitive to the point that more of it might have even made the text like a legal document. It is thus obvious that the Lord has a theme, a message, a notation, and that only when there is an envisaged response, is this noted as an aside.

When therefore in Jeremiah 9:1, there is the continuation of "My people" and "the daughter of My people", with the ensuing rebukes and characterisations, there is nothing to distinguish the words from the theme, nothing of aside, nothing denoting another subject speaking, but everything in constant emphasis, as in verses 3, 6, 8, to emphasise that this is no divagation of the prophet, but the Lord Himself. He SAYS so, not once or twice, or thrice, but again and again.

It is, moreover, precisely as in Jeremiah 48 (colour added), where the Lord similarly is addressing a nation, this time Moab, with mingled wrath, scorn and pathos, saying:

bullet " 'I know his wrath, says the Lord, 'but it is not right.
His lies have made nothing right.
 

" 'Therefore I will wail for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab;
I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres...
Moreover,' says the Lord,
'I will cause to cease in Moab
the one who offers sacrifices in high places and burns incense to his gods. 
Therefore My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab,
and like flutes My heart shall wail for the men of Kir Heres...' "

 

In this case, precisely the same divine passion of compassion expressed in just such an intimate way, is provided, and this in the midst of reference to the nature to intimate details of those so to be afflicted. Indeed, here it is directed towards an ALIEN nation, one not even in the covenant given to Israel. Nor do you find less involvement with what is in fact going to be smitten and judged, in cases such as Hosea 7:1 and Jeremiah 51:9, where we find this amazing and delightful song of love: "We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed." Babylon! that blight, that designated horror of affliction and bullying, that syncretic sink, that synergic disaster, healed that! Yes, healed that, He would have healed that! Any attempt to minimise the love of God is ludicrous.

When the case is this:

bullet a theme is being pursued by the Lord, in a prophet, here Jeremiah, 
 
bullet who NEVER personally uses "My people"
as a clear designation of the nation concerned in the entire book,
 
bullet and the Lord CONTINUALLY does so, with the utmost clarity,
so that the atmosphere is without exception one of total involvement,
moving now to anger or to compassion,
always with majesty and authority and the most intense personal expression:
 
bullet it would simply be eisegesis, the opposite of exegesis,  to insert some other personality into it,
 
bullet as if a secretary without announcement, were to put in her two cents worth,
without saying so, in a letter from her employer.

It is simply unthinkable in any careful exegesis, despite the fact that tradition seems for many to have secured such a result!

When, accordingly, as in Jeremiah 12, the prophet DOES have something to say, there is a clear distinction from the autograph of the Lord, from His signed statement, and it is the inspired expression of mutual communication with the Lord, that we might learn by it. Here in this chapter, the reference by Jeremiah to his thought to the Lord, is in direct terms of singular clarity. Here he actually shares a personal involvement WITH the Lord, with us, saying: "Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You," so that this becomes a formal prophetic divulgement, justified by the fact that he is expressing what many might have felt, in his own name, much as did Habakkuk, awaiting an answer, which  in the Lord's own name, then is given.

The word of the Lord is clear, and He allows no ambiguity, though He may stretch tight the tissue of the mind in its pursuits of His mind. There is indeed the word, that it is an honour to kings to search out a matter, and putting these two together, the honour and the clarity, there is a RESULT (Proverbs 25:2). This is NOT to be obtained by guesswork, ignoring context, excluding what is philosophically unacceptable or imagining that God needs help in being clear, by deploying one's own so necessary scissors to His diction, to ditch this surrounded by His "thus says the Lord" or that with His own pronouns in continuity, as if He were too feeble to have a heart, or too weak to express it clearly.

What is the use of usage if it is ignored!

 

THE USE

Thus do we find, not only in Jeremiah 48, this vast, uncontainable love for Moab, or in Jeremiah 51, even a practical love for Babylon, unhealed though it was and was to be; but in the flower of its passion, that for Israel, expressed in spreading terms of outreach, undimmed, indissoluble.

Not only is it in Ezekiel 33:11, or Deuteronomy, but it is in Jeremiah in such an abundance of multiplied and mutually consistent explosions of declaration, intimate, infinite, irreducible, that it is quite overwhelming in its power, capacious in its openness, pure in its perfection.

Just as one may love with uninhibited freedom, what is lovely, what is fine, or manly, or good, or virtuous, or congenial in kindness, effective in righteousness, and seek for such a friend or associate the true and just development and maintenance of such delightful gifts and ways, and yet find that it is all being corroded, corrupted by pride, or by machinations unworthy, as in the pursuit of honour for itself, or fame, or name, or place, or position, and appeal: so one may so seek the good of one loved,  but not be heard.

Again, just as one may endeavour to help a friend back to rectitude, but be dismissed, or find the ear of pride too hard for any hearing, and finding the thing of potential beauty of holiness turned into ashes: and realise that it is other than it seemed, that its course is coarse, so does love not mistake its target.

It is one thing to be faithful to a friend, when he falls, or stutters, or slips, or even slides; it is quite another to find the love in one's heart for what is chronically, carefully, consistently, insistently broken in its ways by wilful mischiefs of false enthusiasm, or casual pride. There is redeeming love, which the Lord has infinitely, and this applies to the uttermost to all who call in faith upon His revealed name in Christ Jesus; but there is also associative love, that of fellowship, that of friendship, of collaborative mutual mission; and it is this which is extinguishable, for the conditions are removed on which it is based.

Love seeks its restoration, but cannot ignore when it is rebased, or debased into something wholly alien to the spirit and what it is seeking, to the Lord and His most explicit and express ways (cf. I Corinthians 5-6, I Timothy 1, 4, 6, II Timothy 3). It may be moral, it may be doctrinal, it may be a dissolution of spirit which insults the Lord and does not dwell on His supremacy, but dumbs the tongue, as if it were paralysed, when His glory is in view, when Christ's sacrifice is focussed.

 

THE LOVE OF GOD NEITHER WITHERS NOR WANES,
NEW TESTAMENT OR OLD

AND IN THE NEW ITS ULTIMATE EXPRESSION,
LONG PREDICTED, IS PERFORMED

Isaiah 48:16-19 shows once again that intense and extreme empathy which you see in Jeremiah, where the prophet is lifted up to share in and all but experience in himself, the intense sympathy, deliberating concern, torrents of pity of the Lord. It does not remove reality. Cancer is not removed by pity; but its onset may be delayed when love speaks, and a preliminary operation removes a current exposition of it, in the lung or skin. Love is not another name for illusion; but rather more closely is it one for remedy; and remedy is not another name for force, but for opportunity; and opportunity is not another name for re-drafting God, but for coming back to base, where you were made, and being made aware of your errors, your needs, recipient of the remedy in all realism. It cost God enough (as Psalm 22 and Matthew 26-27, Luke 22ff., John 18ff. make so very clear).

It costs man a dumping of dreams, such as the Darwinian dream of Dawkins, or his equally delusive warping of Old  Testament fact by injudicious, if not wilful distortion, building a creature of his own dreams, but not of Holy Writ, just as his evolutionism builds a fairy tale of his dreams, but not of verifiable fact or interface (cf. SMR pp.140ff.). In fact, Darwinism has long been dead, except in the chomping halls of latter day learning, where facts are voided, verifications are ignored and hope becomes reality in waiting. This has often been attested on this site*3. It is Gould who brings special spice to the exposure, as he wails for facts, and deplores fiction, marvelling at the bucolic bravado of the Darwinian wing, which never flies, has flown or can fly (cf.  Wake Up World! ... Ch. 6,  SMR pp. 315Aff.); for here from Harvard is this Professor calling to heaven for this botching of the things of earth. Which botching ? That of Darwinian orthdoxy.

Like Goldschmidt, Løvtrup and Denton in different respects, he finds galling the too intimate presence of the clamour of claims that do not add up, far less meet with fact. How in heaven's name, have we less basic designs now by a process to explain their increase! seems the sense of his all but abandoned outcry. How indeed!

There is little more fatuous than this ludicrous theory

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to explain gain, in the presence of ostensible loss; or
 

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to introduce magnificence of law and order, miniaturised to a marvel
and synchronised with exquisitely temporal order of intermeshed events
and means for them
(such as numerous enzymes working in specialised quietness
to provide the result in a way meaningful and to the point, fulfilling the purposes of life),
from the death of what is less fit (for something or other).

It would be a marvel of an Olympic team, to produce exquisite order and allied, synchronised performance of experts of adjusted skill, that became such through the death of the less gifted members. WORK is what Darwinianism, in terms of scientific method, simply omits. Production requires work; and extensively legislated construction, as with DNA, requires formation, information and formulation, which for construction through constriction as here, involves conception and command, such as may in due course be seen in retrospective terms, by examining the product, called 'life', in its physical aspects.

The love of truth cannot touch, adjust, fiddle with or conform to such myths, marvels of production minus productive means, causatively adrift, without interface. From this, the realities of creation instruct us, turn away (cf. Scientific Method...). From this, the word of God in the verified and validated Bible*3A instructs us (I Timothy 6, with II Peter 3:3-5, Romans 16:17, II Chronicles 19:1-3, II Timothy 3:1-5). Turn away. It all speaks in this with one voice.

What is not in the area and arena and area of determinable far less visible construction, or its concomitants to assess, what is never seen, is nevertheless what is always insisted upon in this deaf-but-not-mute parody of science (cf. Scientific Method ... op. cit.). In turning from it at the requirement of logic, we have the solution to deep challenge. Validated, the Bible likewise validates this, which in turn validates itself in its own field! The unending invalidities of evolutionism make it invalid even for invalids, sick even for the sick, and unscenic even for the sightless.

The God of the Bible, on the other hand,  demonstrably accounts in His record for what has happened, is NOT happening now (since creation of kinds stopped some time ago), and the reasons for both, with logical felicity, without rational holes, so that here one does not need to ask, like Gould, in exasperation, How in heaven's name ... this or that can possibly be the case, but simply announces that the verbal deposition called the Bible explains all, the reason for it, the mode of it in overall purpose and wisdom, and reason for its stoppage, conflicts and deformities.

Likewise it accounts entirely for the absence of trials that failed in the fossil record, aborted waste-paper basket types that could not work at all, the absence of the supernova concentrations*3B which did not come with alleged age in the vast realms of astronomy, and the presence not only of extreme sophistication in the underlying brilliance attached to life, even to that in the single cell, quite apart from multiple differentiation of team members in the cellular whole, for co-operation, but of that enhanced and remarkable case found in  man, which he can recognise but not duplicate, try as he will!

In moving from Darwin, and his Goebbels in much, in the loquaciously illogical, anti-God works of Professor Dawkins, as from the anomalous non-sequiturs that men seek (cf. Wake Up World! ... Chs.  4-6, News 57, Sparkling Life ... Ch.  8), we move from a devious, deep and disastrous challenge

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which has done much
 

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to set man's evil passions into play when they might have been more productively idle,
to magnify two world wars with demonstrable stress on who is best and most racially or philosophically superior,
 

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but nothing
 

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 to improve his recognition of reality and the requirements
which it has had, does have and will have for man.

Dreams are costly when men, made originally in God's image, use their gifts heinously to produce mutual defilement of the truth of the Creator and His requirements and gifts, and mutual destruction as far as may be, by sending His created powers at each other's lands, and His created provision for good purpose, instead at each other's throats.

II

 

THE REMOVAL OF A FALSE HORROR:

CALVIN'S DEFENCE is FINE

EXCEPT WHERE IT IS CORRUPTIVE of BIBLICAL TRUTH

Alas, there is more than one type of error which can defile the biblical presentation of the love of God. The wound from the house of one's friends hurts the most; but it must be met.

It may seem a little strange to some, that Calvin's error should follow in this field,  in a sequence after that of Darwin; but while Calvin's contribution to the survey of the biblical truth has been profound and a major advantage to the Church, alas it has elements which are corruptive, have produced enormous reaction, tended needlessly to polarise many religionists, and need correction*3C. It is not by the opposite error, even more rank, that of Arminian autonomy that the correction can come, for who but God can correct error concerning Himself. It is only by the Bible itself that the error may be seen. In view of the felicity of Calvin's 5 points, and infelicity of the setting*3D he has given one of them, especially corrosive in the field of the love of God, there is need for supreme care. On the other hand, this amounts to total abandon to every word of God, without qualification, and reverence for every emphasis, without such particularisation which ignores other words and becomes mere philosophy.

Let us then now set ourselves to avoid the HORROR, the false horror which Calvin invents, in the very midst of much excellent exposition of biblical truth.

Is there indeed a lamentable, decretum horribile, a horrible decree which God has made in the field of predestination ? Of course there is not, for Calvin has here greatly erred (cf. Massifs of Pure Splendour Ch. 7, Christ's Ineffable Peace ... Ch. 2). NOTHING about God is horrible, far less His intimate and eternal counsel. What is horrible about the God who IS love (I John 4:7ff.), who having in Christ Jesus put all the fulness of deity, yet through His blood on the cross was pleased to reconcile all things, yes all things whether on earth or in heaven, by this means ? (Colossians 1:19ff.), stopping not because sin is ugly, in paying for such a redemption as this (Romans 5:1-11).

What then ?

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Is total payment too little ?
 

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Is totally efficacious payment too narrow ?
 

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Or is personal payment in the Person of His only begotten Son, the eternal Word of God*4,
for the sins of men too impersonal an expedition and imposition upon His very own self ?
 

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Is the fact that He is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe (I Timothy 4:10),
or that "He Himself is the propitiation  for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (I John 2:2),
too trifling an offering for our liberation
from unholy, ludicrous misuse of our licence for liberty (cf. Licence for Liberty)!
 

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Or is His restraint in not forcing people to believe, either directly or indirectly,
as if to have His own way whatever the love situation might be,
and take what is not given, however good His intention and the result:
is this a fault ?

WHY do you think He laments over Jerusalem, with tears and transparent longsuffering and grief, which let us face it, hurts very much indeed, and reaches to the very depths of the heart (Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff.), and why as shown above, does He show such intense longing for man and take such patient steps so often for his deliverance, and even plan the sending of the Messiah, send Him and then consummate the compassion in the free Gospel of redemption: if He is for any good cause,  'unsatisfactory' to the peeved, or not really up to it, for the supercilious!

What more could He possibly do ? Open not His belly to the sword, and unclench not His hands to the nails, but instead nail us with inexorable and ineluctable judgment, remorselessly applied, instead of providing with pang, pain and purpose, yes anguish and dedication,  this Gospel of grace ? Is it perhaps this which is wantonly desired ? Or is it that He might instead have made us into transfigured robots, marched by secret regeneration into heaven, whether we would have liked it or not, being sound ?

Scarcely. Calvin confuses the undoubted, total sovereignty of God, His non-direction by the flesh, His non-indulgent control with a mysterious sovereignty which from his viewpoint, unaccountable takes some and leaves others, making it rather horrible in this, that it is an awe-ful result for those (somehow) not taken! God makes no such announcement, inference but in all but interminable protestation and with constant information shows the opposite; yet not slackness, for truth CAN hurt: but with a love which makes provisions by His will, which having been resurrected, He now applies by grace, as He did it by grace, and loves His children once found, this also, by grace.  There is grace in His face (II Corinthians 4:6). Indeed, we find this even written as well as shown:

"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
hath shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ."

Alas for such a truncation of the love of God, which while nothing like the abortion of the Bible found in the mistakes of Dawkins, nevertheless provides a caution for slack exegesis. Yes, alas, even very great theologians in some point may be such, and not few are the examples! The Bible must correct this, however, as shown in the case of the Old Testament above, and in the New in such writings as: John 3, I Timothy 2, Colossians 1, I John 2.

 

On these, see below at *5, but especially note the following

from Outrageous Outages ... and the Courage of Christ, Ch. 9.

 

bullet 16  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 
bullet 17  "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved.

 
bullet 18  "He who believes in Him is not condemned;
but he who does not believe is condemned already,
because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 
bullet 19  "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world,
and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

 

Let us commence by considering John 3:16. Not only is it in the very face of the manifest divine love expressed in the advent and plan of the Saviour, the light of the world, that the condemnation of man who disbelieves this light comes, and does so on a stated ground of a preference for darkness. Two additional features are operative.

Thus, further, it is a love for this world leading on to the distinctive division: not peace but a sword or division being the challenge to the urbanity of mere cultural chains. The sword of the Spirit does indeed divide, not only truth from error, but moves "piercing even to the division of soul  and spirit ... and is  discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart." This division consists of those caught out of this perishing world into the direct care of their Creator, now Redeemer (John 3:15, 1:12),  on the one hand, from those unrelieved and liking it to be so, on the other. This is, in other words, a matter of those evading perishing and those not doing so, those finding salvation and those bypassing it: the ground of God's action is still love and the condemnation still grounded by His own word,  in the adverse preference of the residual segment of the world so lost. 

Moreover, as to this condemnation of that segment of the loved world that is judged adversely despite this unlimited declaration of love, as also in I Timothy 2 and Colossians 1: not only is it statedly founded on a human neglect (cf. Hebrews 2:1ff.!) because of a preference that excludes saving results to the point of eternal judgment (John 3:36), but this occurs in a scenario where the divine purpose is further distinguished by the fact that it is limited in one respect.

That limit is not, as a reckless disregard of the word of God would have it, in the love of God, which is expressly directed to that totality called the world.

It is not in fact in some negative purpose that the love is limited. It is express, explicit, cordial, as broad as the world, coincident with it in its scope. For some who perhaps find grass to be made of concrete, we are helped further. God did not come, the word of God speedily declares (v. 17), to condemn the world.

This then is the positive and negative, the parameters of profundity which God presents.

It was not, then, His coming, an exercise in indirect judgmental force. This is explicitly here denied. We know that because it is declared and revealed that there was NO such judgmental intention, that however speciously, could be tacked on to it, His mission of love to the world (v. 16).

What, in any case, was a love for a body called 'the world' united with a movement so that anyone in it without exception or exemption, might not perish, to do with being fortified by any obstinate imagination that refuses this express statement!

There is, then, this ACTUAL limitation; but it is not on the love thus positively and negatively encased in clarity like that of the heavens on a clear day, no, and not on its field, that same world that was judged in the days of Noah. Of the same world in this respect, we read in II Peter 3:5-7:

"For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."

 

It is the same word, kosmos, from which we get cosmos, the world, that is used, and the same world. God loved it. He sent His only begotten Son because of His love for it, to save all who believe. He engaged in this plan of salvation involving incarnation, incarceration, crucifixion, resurrection because of this love for the world. That is what it says. He who is true speaks it. It is so.

It is, then, doubly underlined that there is no judgment in view (v. 17), the exact contrary to the case in the day of Noah, for this self-same world. That is the nature of the stated divine intention in making the action of sending. This is its contribution to the case: NO judgment is the nature of the message in the SENDING. That is the intention, and God expressly removes any room or ground for distortion, cavil or casuistry in this matter in verse 17, stating even more expressly that He did NOT come to judge the world (as before), but that the world might be saved.

Thus

if any lawyer or controversialist wanted to contravene or controvert the eminent clarity of this statement of the motivation in love for this world, its direction and intention, in 3:16;

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if anyone loving contrariety

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or being magnificently unprepared to receive a direct statement

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should not accept this divine assurance at face value,

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did not receive this glorious and unlimited statement
of the actuating love of the deity
back of this,

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such an observer

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wanting to see the seedy or snatch the opposite, bomb the beauty,

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whether gripped with theological tic or seized with derogatory emphasis, relative to this love,

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or simply was monumentally confused, the captive of culture,
conscience or contemporary thoughts:
 

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then this gives the answer.

 

Forget about it. The word of God here written is isolated from any such deviation from its direction. God DID so love the world and DID NOT come to condemn.

Further, not only is this so, but He did NOT come that it might perish. His isolatory invasion is directed in love, protected against any kind of judgmental intimation or activation and is directed to saving anyone who believes.

The outcome of such love is to be the income of such believers. It is not a dismissive love; it is inclusive. Its outcome is decisively distancing one from the other; its income is drawing near to all with just that saving thrust.

John 3:17 thus would be an answer to what strictly is an unnecessary question; but man being what man is, and sin what sin is, it is not without therapeutic ground, this additional statement of John 3:17.

Man needs this reinforcement since he is an interested party, and prone to err. Indeed, he has erred from pilot-project Adam till now, only the Saviour Himself escaping sin (Romans 8:3, I Peter 2:22-35, Hebrews 7:26). Even HE, He had to bear it, though it was not His own! What a race! small wonder God is especially careful to make clarity yet clearer.

Hence we find a limit to all mutiny against that Almighty Speaker who reveals His will in this way.

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NOT ONLY was this same world that was created, that was judged in the flood,
which lies in the wicked one, the stated object of a divine love that gave Royal Remedy
even in that acme of input,
the only begotten Son of God.
 

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IN so being the target
of this remedial love of God, who sent His Son INTO this world,
man is met by no ulterior, no limiting, no contrary divine design whatsoever.
 

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Not only is His positive declaration
a total cover of His intention,
but His negative safeguard precludes any distortion of His utterance.

It was therefore of the utmost collision with divine writ that at Westminster Theological Seminary, these very facts were not only overlooked in their magnificent divine  munificence, but the author 's exposition to this effect was ostentatiously derogated, berated and downgraded. It came as a shock that after suffering gross and outrageous persecution at the slanderous hands of Liberals, as a student of divinity in one's own country, one should find this mind of Calvin, contrary to prohibition of Paul (I Corinthians 3), applied in such an erroneous way. Was there no seminary which would abide in what was written! Certainly, Westminster had some excellent teachers and skill, but here was that trend to follow a theological party in a partisan manner, alas, deplorably evinced!

 

Again on the combination of total charity, total clarity and a sovereignty which disdains all thought of co-opting by any kind of force, transformational or other, and shows this in endless seeming parades of divine patience and grief over centuries in the Old Testament, delaying and looking for any other course than judgment, let us consider the points made in Chapter 3 of The Christian Pilgrimage.

 

On the other hand, we are dealing just now with the love of God as in the Bible, and we find that this love is non-discriminatory in any sense of lacking the universality of its initial scope (John 3:16, Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2). It operates without desire for self-fulfilment, for as to God, He is NOT a constructed Being in need of fulfilment: all things are consummately present from the first in Him who depends on nothing. This He does, not as do those philosophers who use reason while denying it, trying to make nothing the god back of it all, in rampant irrationality, self-contradiction and inconsistency: but simply as lacking dependence on what is not Himself.

All depends on Him; but He, eternal and the base of all that is made, owes allegiance to none and to nothing: He is who He is, as He declares, and in this as in the magnificence of His being, there is simply none like Him, nor even could there be!

HENCE we find in entire and perfect consistency that He neither frustrates His principles, nor yet sates His mere will by finding some, as if they were the very best, the cream, for His companionship (since companionship is sated in the first, for He lacks nothing, being in any case a Trinity from eternity). In such ways He does not seek gratification in human 'magnificence', since He made it good and it has fallen, and His lack is null, time His mere creation. Moreover, as He declares,  love (I Cor. 13) DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN, is not an intemperate or grasping thing. It GIVES.

This is the nature of God; but it is ALSO the nature that He seeks for man to receive, and receiving illustrate in a life of joy and fulness, these not sought but gained in the truth, since the truth is that God is filled with these things, and empties them out to man with zealous attention, as love does with what it has. Infinite, He never lacks; love, He does not cease to give; pure, He does not cast pearls before swine, but yet seeks with a tenderness of solicitude which is its own witness.

What then do we read later in John 3, for example in verse 16 ? God SO loved the world that He GAVE His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, so that whosoever believes in Him should NOT perish but HAVE everlasting life.

Let us focus this, for some have become confused, astray. The word of God however is clear to the uttermost (cf. Proverbs 8:8).

Thus God so loved the world

(not a segment of the world, as if to say, God so loved a segment of the world, that if any part of this segment of the object-state, should believe in Him, He would on that condition act to save that segment of a segment).

The case is far removed from this. The divine speech here is declarative, enunciating a generality of kind between GOD on the one hand, and the creation, this WORLD on the other; and it is the BODY, the whole, the thing made,  which includes its parts, towards which His own love is directed.

However, this love is not a mandatory thing. You do not have to respond to it. It may grieve Him sadly FOR YOUR SAKE if you reject its appeals, exhortations; but it does not alter His purity. Heaven is populated in liberty, not in compulsion.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is (II Cor. 3:17), THERE is liberty. 

Nor is it contrivance, as if people made in God's own divine image, could be hoodwinked, manipulated or manhandled (God-handling) into acquiescence; for love is not of this sort, so that Christ could WEEP for Jerusalem (Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff.) at the same time as enunciating the horrible devastation this rejection would OBJECTIVELY cost it, since the ONLY way out of their sin, being rejected, the only result could be to PAY for it!

Justice never takes a vacation in the Lord; it is mercy which interrupts it, not in unseemly discourse, but in divine love meeting the cost and so keeping holiness in place, and wonder in its orbit about the creation. Such is the teaching of John 3 here.

The WORLD is the object of this love, so that IF anyone in it should believe, then to that one, surrounded as it were, in a magnetic field of divine love, there would be salvation, with eternal life in train. Just as Israel was the object of divine love (as in Ezekiel 33:11), so that AS I LIVE, the Lord declared, I HAVE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED, this being an ultimate divine reality, but that HE SHOULD TURN FROM HIS EVIL WAY: so now was it with the world!

God had predicted this new amplitude of immediate application in such sites as Jeremiah 16:19, Isaiah 49:6, 42:6, and now, in Christ's day on earth,  it had come to pass. Moreover the PARALLEL in Jonah, on mission to the Gentiles as we read in the book of that name, is seen in Jonah 4, where God REMONSTRATES with Jonah at the hardness of heart which he displayed in not caring adequately, indeed passionately and hopefully to the uttermost, in not sharing with the Lord His passion for compassion. It was through this that He delighted not to destroy Nineveh, which had had the bans put on it, with NO exemption, except of course, the removal of the cause! How that ? ONLY BY REPENTANCE and seeking the Lord: this they did. God was swift to turn from the otherwise inalienable purpose, brought for so long by so much on that wicked city.

Since God is merciful to the uttermost, the cause is readily removed in repentance, for man coming to receive the gift of God, NEED NOT PAY (Isaiah 55, I Peter 1:18ff.). Indeed, if he tries to pay, he is outside it altogether (Romans 10, 3). That is how this very principle is exceedingly clearly stated in Colossians 1, that He would that ALL in heaven or in earth, ALL should be reconciled, as in I Tim. 2.

These things being so, and the parallel with Israel of old being express and explicit (John 3:14-15), we find this intense stress on INDIVIDUALITY, this "whosoever", which is paralleled in the negative by His statement of His own divine purpose, namely this, that God did not send His Son in order that He might condemn the world, but that the world by Him might be saved (John 3:17). THAT is the reason why it is the case that whosoever calls should be saved: FOR ... THIS is His will, that working individually with the locus and focus the world, He might save any, with the negative being by desire excluded to the uttermost, without being removed from existence, since mercy is so often despised.

 

THE SANDWICH

(for the double-decker see Appendix below)

What then is to be found in this word of God ?

¨    The object - the world.

¨    The motivating power - such love.

¨    The negation - NOT to condemn.

As E. J. Young so well pointed out, the negative is often necessary or at least most useful, in removing possible misinterpretations. It is not "all positive" but balanced in clarity between affirmation and negation!

¨    The affirmation - THAT the world might be saved.

¨    The explanation - failure to believe. It is emphatically NOT God blockading the world, one which in fact He SOUGHT. No, not that, for this is His stated purpose for the world, that it should be saved, and that by believing, so that eternal life becomes the consequence.

The thrust is salvation, and such is the desire for the stated body, the world, out of which individuals are envisaged as being brought on a belief-despite-sin basis, and others are removed on an unbelief-despite-love basis.

¨    The result (John 3:19) - The preference of man for his own evil works as a motif, man is seen PREFERRING darkness to light; but much more than that. What of the world then ? The many in it are  witnessed as having a preference, an inordinate and inveterate one,  for their OWN darkness, over the DIVINE light, which is exhibited not only in word, but in a love which PAYS utterly, personally and in vast humiliation, attesting its savour for the object, the world. The world alas ? This is seen as intent on the whole, and as a whole, on treating this love in all its truth,  with distaste. HENCE there is a penalty for this result. THIS is the ground of it; it results; it is consequential, derivative, in the very face of contrary divine desire, provision of contrary dynamic and performance of contradictory feats.

¨   The penalty (John 3:36) - The wrath of God broods over them, looms, dooms. They are intractable not because God did not love, but despite His so loving; not because He did not work, but despite His work, yes despite even His objectives: for the world is set on refusing grace, pardon, power and liberty, and this condemnation of those so preferring comes from the very MIND and CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE of God Himself (Romans 8:29).

¨   As noted, for all this, the PARALLEL is the divine chat to Jonah (Ch. 4), the Lord not at all free of distaste for that prophet's desire to have some kind of satisfaction in destruction of the vagrant city. To be sure, this was not only eminently deserved for Nineveh, but brimming over into immediate action. However, such devastation was for the time quelled in mercy, because of the city's repentant frame of mind. The prophet was troubled because the curse had not come. Not so is it with God, however, who roundly upbraided and scolded Jonah.

What is the good of having all kinds of godly love for ALL if  the results are distasteful UNLESS they come! Even though Jonah was aggrieved, God not only was of a different mind, but wholehearted so, pointing out to the prophet the cost to man, to cattle, to children if the judgment had come. Was it not delightful that it now could be removed! Sadly, it was not for ever, though the deliverance was for well over a century! The city fell further as time showed its passions and lusts, religious, social and military.

The point here is this: that in this case we see in a dramatic and serial form, the operation of the mercy of God in vast preference toward saving ALL of a pagan city, at the least opportunity in accord with His mercy, truth and compassion.

SIN was the topic of trouble, REPENTANCE toward the Lord, the result for relief.

¨   The proposition - is seen as also noted in Colossians 1:19ff., in entire certainty and indeed drama of categorical pronouncement. GOD WOULD LIKE ALL TO BE RECONCILED, WHETHER IN HEAVEN  OR ON EARTH, in the light of the cross of His payment, and the the glory of the incarnation towards this end. What is the use of denying the One who tells it as it is! The tendency of man to psychiatrise God, or if you will, tele-psychiatrise Him in aspiration, as if to tell of God what he does not even know of his own neighbour, is both ludicrous and common. It is however never possibly true. God is as He is, and is not subject to declaration from other hearts, even created ones indeed, who propose for Him what His plans and purposes may be. While His divine nature is clear (Romans 1:17ff.), His divine plans are HIS OWN. Face it: GOD WOULD HAVE ALL TO BE RECONCILED! Theologies that teach God as otherwise in defiance of this, which He Himself declares, are as nothing, mere impudence and imprudence of flesh.

¨   The reflection - If God so loved, and fought the evil and wrought the good so that even the LEAST of men might join the blessedness of God, since the payment to cover is utter and entire, correlatively with the love and passion of God who omits NOTHING from His love and presence and purchase payment (Hebrews 5, 9-10, with 2:3ff.), then ought we to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Yes the family of God should be loved in intensity as brothers and sisters under ONE OPERATIVE FATHER of purity and light;  the very enemies, with His action in praying, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing!" become an opportunity for love, as a criterion for kindly forgiveness on our part.

Nothing is omitted. In these combined features there is no room for outrageous surmisings, or disruptive occasions.

Nothing could be further from this scripture than any thought of some mystery about the love of God, concerning the sublime splendour of its scope in the ambit of salvation, its zeal, its overview of this entire world, its seeking, so that its selection of His people is not through its demise or deficiency. On the contrary, its limitation as it surges to victory is through but one carefully CITED cause. What is this stated cause of rejection and judgment among men from the Lord ? It is this: it lies in evil and definable OPPOSITION to His wishes, namely the discerning and captious PREFERENCE to the contrary. THOUGH HE so loved, MEN so DISMISSED. (Refer to Appendix and to  *3 below.)

Indeed, we need but travel to The Face of God ... Ch. 9, to see some of the deplorable features involved in using philosophical generalisations to truncate the particularisations of the divine desire, method and approach, which uninhibited moves in the Bible with a lustrous perfection. If indeed, if one must be careful in science in making generalisations and imposing some insight into total operational simplicity, how much more must one find from the very heart of God PRECISELY what He says, omitting nothing and adding nothing*6. That the Sovereign God is the Loving God and that this God is love (I John 4), so that nothing to the contrary is in His outgoing desires, whatever judgment must with lament anoint the thrust of lust that has no repentance: this reality  of vast Biblical emphasis is as important a fact as is one's very nose on the face.

From Ch.9, then, we have this attestation.

 

What a sovereign is this! The word 'sovereign' has more reference to His absolute control of His creation; but it must never be divorced from WHO He is and HOW He is working. If you say that a driver is sovereign of his car, you do not say much. He may be skilful or bucolic, thoughtful or inanely aggressive, gentle or drugged. It all depends on who he is, what is his state and how he has been brought up and into what he has brought himself.

The sovereignty of God is sometimes spoken of, as with Calvin with his decretum horribile*1, and other unbiblical aspects (despite the sheer excellence of his basic five points), as if there were some lapse in His love, some mysterious entity within Him, which moves Him if not to the irrational, at least to the movement from that love which HE IS, according to I John 4, and from which He does not turn.

To be sure, the Lord hates evil, and when the soul becomes finally enmeshed with it, and inveterately conjoined to it, then the wicked are as chaff before Him, indeed; and there is an immortal shame which becomes like the exhaust of a diesel truck, floating on the air, and seeping about with acrid aridity.

Love does not dictate.

Freedom does not lack.

The sovereignty of God does not snatch in order to impose, nor does it lack grace, in order to expose what might be gained. God is not dealing with mechano sets, in man, but with beings in His own image, and hence answerable, responsible and gifted with an independence, not absolute, but actual, which both invests life with meaning and life with pregnancy for the future. That future can when irretrievably caught in solaced sin, become a horrid exhaust; but what will not abide is indeed to be cast out. What insists on being waste gas, is not retained.

SINCE however God would have all to come to a knowledge of the truth, and to repent, it is best to believe Him, His motivation and the quality of His love; and since this is seen in the context that there is ONE GOD (the divine is there as such) and ONE MEDIATOR (the channel of communication and comeliness is there) between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, and it is in this cohesive and celestial coverage that He directs our minds to recognise that He would have all to come to the knowledge of the truth, it is useless to talk of some decretum horribilis (I Timothy 2). There is NOTHING horrible about God, nor about His decrees. The former dictates the latter.

Has He not in Christ faced the cross, and in this is it not as Titus tells us, because of His kindness to mankind; and is it not the world which He so loved that He sent His only begotten Son*2, and is it not pleasing in His sight, that having made peace by the blood of the Cross, to reconcile all things, yes all in heaven or on earth, to Himself by this means (Colossians 1)!

What is horrible about that ? What contrary and contrary decree is this which is imagined which proceeds from some unknown sovereign whose sovereignty is to compel God against His passion, His statements and His express motivation!

 It is rather like speaking of the horrible decision of an employer, who having built one a house, and given one superannuation, and enquired solicitously about one's well-being and offered a salary rise, then resolves to dismiss one because one burnt down the office block. What is horrible about that! It is the burning which was horrible.

The result, in the circumstances is merely the judgment which follows mercy minimised, not by the employer, but by man. So when the mercy of God is minimised by man, is man to call a decree of final exclusion horrible, or instead speak not of a decretum horribilis divine, but a decadence into appalling horror of man.

Sovereignty in the end is the expression of what a thing is, or a person, to the extent it has independence and volition and scope, to express what it is. When it is of God that one speaks, then the sovereignty is the expression of WHO He is and the NATURE which He has in dealing with what He has created, with the decisions allied in His integrity; for all that is not God IS His creation. He does not foozle, or fumble, but knows His own mind. If this is sovereignty, what could possibly be mysterious about it. It ensures His goodness and sublimely benevolent motivation is executed with rigour. It is the decree marvellous, the decretum mirabile. In this, it is staggering, that you cannot enter hell except over Christ's dead body; and this means that He has done all with open heart, and though knowing all, has not failed to put all to the test, and to invest even what is infested with His drawing, and none is excluded except on the stated ground, known to God in its manner and cited by God in HIS manner, of John 3:19.

One must moreover always remember that it would be hell for the reprobate to enter heaven, since it is precisely their darkness preference which would then be violated!

If then you know God, then all things are in order. You can see why He dismisses some because He TELLS you; it is because the light has come, in Christ, and men have preferred darkness. Horrible, yes but exactly the opposite in the matter of God.

Does He who DECLARES HIS WILL and is almighty, then, have to suffer such language from man, when NONE can by any means fail to come to Him, who may be found, since all power and desire mixed are in operation from His sovereign hand ? Is the power inadequate ? are the words untrue ? and if this is said, is slander to become the weapon against the mercy and truth of God, under the pretence or parallel of interpretation!

There is the crow of condemnation, cawing its lugubrious song, but sovereignty is not the basis, nor any mysterious exclusion zone; for that is defined biblically. Mystery is not to be found in the love of God, except in its liberality and its grandeur. There is mystery, how it is so pure, so fervent, so patient, so deep and so discerning, equipped with such infinite wisdom, never forcing, always finding where the love rests, the ones it seeks (cf. Ephesians 3:15-20).

The idea of an induced anaesthesia which prevents man from finding God, in an orphanage where divine mercy restrains itself, even if in the befouled, sin be the inner name, as if God either lacked heart or had no hands: this is so contrary to the compassion of the Bible, that it is like some mysterious reading from some cabal of powers unknown.

To suggest a mysterious exclusion in the name of this tiresome oddity called 'sovereignty', misdefined to mean limited love acting as an exclusive agent on those not included, is to speak of something so unakin to the lustrous and amazing love of God as to make one wonder from what book the idea has come. When God, knowing those who desire Him, even when their own hearts are awry and beyond all human hand, or innate deliverance, or even those who might be found, finds them with the same diligence which sent His Son, then all constructions of exclusion zones for His love, other than what is the explicit negative preference of man in the face of His divine light, a thing read in eternity and known to infinity, whether or not known to man: this is so foreign to the Bible as to render the mystery how the idea was invented, and why (John 3:15,17,19).

To the entirety of the pleadings and principles of the Bible, which declares that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he should turn from his evil way and live (Ezekiel 33:11); in which Christ is seen to weep even at the judgment to come of what His love would not violate, it being enough that He had visited and solicited (Luke 19:42ff.); in His excursions into labouring for His name's sake to deliver from wrath because of foolish human inventions in the sad litanies of sin (Psalm 106 has a virtual chant of His actions to delay deserved ruin to Israel): to each part and to all of this there is no answer but to concoct a novel, and to ignore the necessities of love. Love never fails. It does not tyrannise over its objects, but neither does it fail.

In concocting novels, it is better not to attribute them to the Lord, whose name is inviolate, whose mind is His own, and whose word is stringent. His entire perfection suffers no mischiefs with His word. This merely obstructs traffic, moved by His love, and reminds one. at least in direction,  of Luke 11:52.

Nor is there some racial limit. It was the world which God so loved. It is MAN as other party to God who is in view in I Timothy 2, and it is ALL THINGS in Colossians 1, which is the body concerned with the divine desire for reconciliation, even IN TERMS of the blood of the cross. Neither the scope nor the depth is in question; it is only answer!

To be sure, covenantal love, like marriage, permits a liberty and a grandeur of devotion; but it does not drain the divine reservoir of its grace and concern for all.

That grace alone is the basis of salvation is sure (Ephesians 2); that man is incapable, of in and by and of himself, making the selection of the living God is explicit (I Cor. 2:14), for however godly he would like to be, the actualities of knowing God are not to be gained from the sovereignty of sin, which is a real exclusion zone and which distorts the desire and dynamises error.

But that this is to be pushed into the very midst of express, repeated and passionate divine statement and correlative action, is the real mystery in the matter. It is God who selects, but man, not a clay model which is selected.

It is man who lacks any ground for selection in merit; but it is God who selects, not on merit in man but in the Saviour whose merits are inexhaustible. This is divinely wrought in a knowing grace which neither defoliates the reality of man in His own image, nor depends on man's ability. Love goes where it may, and seeks from God, for all. Where God sees that mercy would violate what is sought, even beyond the impelling dynamic of sin and the pathology of its mere presence, He may weep; but He does not act. It is, as Paul so sublimely states, a matter of WHOM HE FOREKNEW, those He predestinated, not vice versa. First, before all time, God who is wholly unlimited to human condition, foreknows the people who are His own. These He then sovereignly selects, since the knowledge has already taken care of the case (John 6:;65, 15:16, Romans 9:16).

Proof against all illicit appeals, as Romans makes so clear in 9:1-6, God is not proof to His own will (Romans 9:22) and contrary to His own statement; and if man seeks to oppose Him, He is demoted to ignorance. If however man would reason together, and listen and learn, the result as in Isaiah 1, moving to 1:18, is beautiful.

Sovereignty is not first; it is second, in terms of selection. Divine KNOWLEDGE is first, and the Lord knows who are His (II Timothy 2:19 cf. SMR pp. 638). However He foreknew, it is He who did it, and readily indeed can it be envisaged, though in God alone is the knowledge of its exact procedure. It is however the principle which matters, which scripture dictates and the wise must receive.

God who IS love has selected IN love, love to man as He states, to the world as He declares; and the discordant exclusive agent, on which condemnation anyway is based, when that resolution is sadly reached, that is no mystery. It is a preference, divinely discerned and indeed perceived, for ultimately impenetrable darkness (cf. Ezekiel 47:1, 10-11), amid the qualities of that illumination which is love, even in the presence of light does not obscure what it is.

Love does not impel itself where it is detested in spirit, to the ultimate; nor does it enforce itself where reciprocity is eternally excluded; nor does force make a nest for itself with robots, selected indifferently to what they are. God did not select blanks, but people. It is people whom He foreknew. Where the relevance of human preference at the final and God-discerned point is excluded, then scripture is excluded with it, since this is the stated CRITERION of exclusion. Inoperable is the human will in sin at this divine level; but it is not irrelevant to God at HIS level. Hence His citations, exhortations, lamentations and dissertations in accord with these (cf. Psalm 106, Deuteronomy 32).

It is not the character of the non-elect which deters divine salvation, nor the knowledge nor the power nor the merit; for all these things would preclude them by events over which they may have no control, and there is neither test nor hope, nor scope nor place for love in a systematic manner which would make a mockery of the divine invitations, assertions, asseverations and tender entreaties, as if He were either insincere or not sovereign, mouthing what is irrelevant and even grossly unseemly. It is scripturally, with that magnificent and unfailing precision and consistency which is found there as in no other word, the PREFERENCE of man which, being divinely assessed, is in the independence realm and that consignable to condemnation.

What then of the contrariness of contradiction of the word of God, which limits and even delimits the love of God ? Who is a man to invent another ground and talk of mystery when the actual ground is divinely declared in a way so far from mystery that the whole motivation and scope of the Cross is in view!

That Arminian formulations are also wrong is true, that meritoriously assessable human choices are explicitly excluded is true no less, that it is all of divine grace without meritorious additive or ground in the spirit of man for superiority of any kind to any other, this is no less affirmed; that the Armylandian idea of an "IF" which determines is astray is equally sure.

Thus it is divine knowledge, which has no human axis in view. It is a divine-human interchange, if not in words, then in principle, which is implied in John 3:15-19 as in all the other cases where divine implorings are met with human rejection. It is not this, "I will save you if you are willing!", since at this level, God KNOWS whose is the negative preference, and discerns past sequential investigation. The ISSUE is there, but the action is divine.

Is then the pauper superior who accepts the coin, to the one who does not ? Might not the latter have more self-reliance, independence, manliness, determination ? Yes, he might; but you do not get the coin if you fling it back in the giver's face. Could not the Lord have made all hearts so that they would never under any circumstances fling back the coin of mercy ? It would, to the contrary, have been a mere contradiction in terms.

Why is this so ? If you craft souls to a program, then they are not human, not in God's image, but projections of His will. In that case, such a being, not God but an imaginary god, would become Lord of evil, Author of iniquity and Drafter of defiance. It is merely scandalous to relate any such contrivance to the God of the Bible, since its contradiction of His revealed will, character and nature is total.

He has not so crafted hearts, nor has He planned to create a situation which is of this kind for any heart, let alone so to treat billions born in sin, for the same reason, that He deals with what despite defilement, is by nature in His image; and because His word continually pounds principles to the contrary into the mind of man, fallen though he be.

God has sliced through the tissue of the man-invented mysteries about why some are excluded from heaven, in a very decisive manner.

Firstly, He would have all; secondly, this is so in view of the blood of the cross; thirdly He would have all reconciled to Himself; fourthly, the propitiation is SUFFICIENT for all (I John 2:2), as the Bible Presbyterian Church correctly asserted when it was founded. There is no lag or lack. Fifthly, the ground of condemnation is not divine indifference or mystery, but such a view exists despite the opposite clarity from God, His so loving the world, His kindness to mankind, His reconciling movement toward "all things". Finally, so far from this being a mere algebraic type exercise, it is one adorned with weeping, lament, and appeal and exhortation to the uttermost, whether for Israel or Moab (Matthew 23:37, Jeremiah 48:35ff.).

 

Thus we turn from the horror of Calvin, his horrid decree, with his own name, decretum horribile,  which is really just his confused thought on the fact that there is in the end a divine result for every finally rejected mediation of mercy; and it is so because the case was so bad, even that which in love was to be met, that its exposure in quality, is the sight and site of the cross of Christ in anguish divine, the stunning killer of sin:  transfixed in His death, and removed in His resurrection. God does not leave to man's AUTONOMY, imagined and foolish, the actual choice NOW THAT MAN HAS FALLEN, his very nature perverted from purity, diverted from grace and reverting in ways innumerable to delusion (John 1:12). Yet He DOES assign - in the very face of His frequently stated desire not to judge but to save the world, all in the heavens and earth indeed BY reconciliation in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ - the entire failure in the final accounts, to one cause.

What is that one cause ? It does not lie at all in His heart, a thing He has doubly excluded in John 3, quite expressly. It DOES lie in man's heart. He says so,  categorically, clearly, and in terms of a required statement. THIS is the condemnation. HIS is the action, the love, the motivation, the extent of it, and MAN'S is the site of refusal, crimping, cramping, deleting, leaving it undesired. HENCE such are cases where love is though sent and meant, inapplicable; mercy is unacceptable, to MAN; and judgment alone THEREFORE remains (John 3:36). Berkhouwer rightly in his Divine Election is keen on the therefore;  and rightly so.

Let us pursue the matter somewhat further. Since God has resolved every case before the first dawn hit this earth (Romans 8:29ff., Ephesians 1:4), then the only question is HOW He has resolved it. Some feel that His having resolved the book of life before it was written, concluded the matter before any history hit the halls of mundane events,  means some kind of erratic, exotic or horrid sovereignty, mysterious in morals, strange in ethics, but maybe OK. What extravagant nonsense, what anti-biblical ballast for the ship of life!

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WHO is God but the One shown by the Lord Jesus Christ ?
 

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And  WHO is in His definitive image
 

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 but Jesus Christ (Isaiah 48:16ff., 50-55, Hosea 13:14, Ezekiel 34, Isaiah 40, Psalm 45, 72),
 

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marvellously wrought as one with the compassion and judgment of God from the Old Testament
(cf. Matthew 23:37ff. and John 3:36 with Isaiah 48:16ff., and Ezekiel 33:11, and Jeremiah as shown above);
 

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and who is His fellow and equal (Philippians 2, Zechariah 11-12),
 

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but this same Lord Jesus Christ (as in Hebrews 1 most explicitly)!

Thus in what character of life and thought and principle and desire was the foreknowledge reached concerning every man, except that exhibited by the Lord Jesus Christ who said: HOW OFTEN WOULD I HAVE GATHERED you, but you were not filling (Matthew 23:37ff., cf. SMR Appendix B)! Since this is HOW the foreknowledge was reached, that it might be affirmed in predestination, then the latter is a great friend of man indeed (cf. The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 8).

Not only would Christ have desired those who did not come, to be saved, but there is the equivalent to the fact that often would He have done so; and in lamentation, He described it in multiply grievous terms, HOW OFTEN! It is the same in II Chronicles 36, overview, and in Isaiah 48:16ff. perspective, as in Ezekiel 20 and 33:11. It is of the most intense horror to Him, in terms of grief, that the lost are so; and this is the measure of the love of God: that all would be lost, so that He suffered the most intense grief ALSO in pre-emptive format, of heart, as in eventual and empirical reality, in history, in rescuing whoever believed by these means, from this end. HE knew who they were and are; and He knew because He, always the same, had so found them in His foreknowledge, by no means of what they would do, achieve or work, but of who they were, where their hearts lay, before they were ever inlaid with evil, subjected to sin. Much of such things may often be felt by some during conversion, as some of those things known to God are revealed in a vivification attendant on regeneration.

Thus the Bible rescues us from the decretum horrible, not of God but of Calvin, with the decretum mirabile,  the willingness of Christ to die rather than have any go to that permanent and final exclusion from God which has its STATED operative feature in this, that such as are condemned, in fact despite  all this, and this light of truth, yet PREFERRED darkness to light, and this, even in the mind and knowledge of GOD! It is what pleased God which is operative, and it is this, that having made peace by the blood of the cross, to reconcile all things, yes ALL things whether in heaven or on earth, to Himself. Why make another love than this ? Why misuse a simple practical fact of the WAY in which diseased flesh is brought back, with the REASON for it! The REASON is love, and the METHOD is love's choice and the choice has fidelity to the one involved, known in the mind of God, bringing joy to the heart of the God who SEEKS.

 What He has seen, He has implemented, and what He knew even before time flushed into history and began its course, He has done. It is statedly a matter of His KNOWLEDGE, and in particular, the knowledge of those who in the end and in final truth, would prefer the dark to the light, the light of Christ which is the very light of this world; and there is none other light. So does John 3:19 attribute final blame, just as 3:16-17 attributes decisive divine desire without qualification of extent, and Colossians 1 expresses it in categorical  classes and qualities once and for all. ALL does not mean some. MANY have their ransom paid (Romans 8:32ff., Isaiah 53:1-6, the healed being those whose sins He bore). To ALL He would have paid it, being sufficient for all, adapted to all and available to all without prejudice in the incandescent glory of His divine love (I John 2:1-2, I Timothy 4:10, Colossians 1:19ff., I  Timothy 2, Ezekiel 33:11), which has a limited attainment and thus a limited atonement, being not lax, indifferently lavish or indulgent, but an unlimited breath and scope as it issues forth from the heart of God.  All this He attests; and therefore it is attested here, come who may, who will. It is the biblical position, when nothing is added or removed. Christ was pilloried; let none try to pillory His love.

Truncate the love of God ? Heaven forbid, whoever is advertently, or inadvertently using the scissors. In any case, it is only the error which has the piece cut out; and the reality does not and never will change; since God has spoken, and one of the things He has most blessedly said is this: HE DOES NOT CHANGE (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102, Hebrews 1, 13). He is  always the same (Hebrews 13:8). What Christ shown Him to be, He always was, and is, and will be.

 

III

THE REMOVAL OF A BLACK HOLE AND IMPOSSIBLE DREAM;

and THE LIBERATION TO THE LOVELINESS OF THE LORD

The love of God is neither to be compressed as into a black hole, as if the breadth of its mystery were to be covered in restraints unnatural to it, and contrary to its work in word and deed; nor is it to be seduced into an impossible dream and imploding viewpoint as in Dawkins' tangling*1 with the biblical text, as if blind to what it actually says, or Hawkings' unhappy and logically impossible reductionism*2.

It continues whatever talons are out, and whichever confusions are in: just the same.

Individuality is not lost*7 in some mysterious blank, as if it were not persons who were foreknown and hence predestinated, but mysterious entities somehow insulated from the word of God, covered with clouds, like some obscured planet 

YOU WOULD NOT, is not the language of exclusion, but blame (as in Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff., implicitly in Proverbs 1, Ezekiel 20 repetitively, Deuteronomy 29, 32, Isaiah 1, Psalm 106, Song of Solomon 5, with the severities of Matthew 23:13 with 22:4-9, Isaiah 48:16ff.).  

YOU PREFERRED DARKNESS  is the underlying rebuke of John 3:19.

God so  loved the world is the implacable presentation of divine good pleasure in John 3 and Colossians 1, as in Titus 2-3. The entire fabric of the Bible, with its divine yearning and appealing, exhortation and correction, explosions of hope, offerings of opportunities, lamentations of heart as in Jeremiah 48, becomes the basis of a divine initiative which, when continually rejected, or in a finality of spirit sedulously pre-empted with the desire for  darkness, leads to a wrath which is yet of incalculable sorrow as in Jeremiah 8-9, and Luke 19, a grief to God.

The Lord of glory (I Corinthians 2) wept, and reflected (Luke 19:42) that if ONLY they had LISTENED to His invocations, then what a peace they would have had, indeed in language whether in the New or the Old (where Isaiah 48:116ff. is an  almost exact parallel to both the attitude and words of Jesus Christ in Luke), there is a divine mordant grief, a profundity of sorrow that life being left, an empire of dreams (Jeremiah 10:11) remains, a vacuity and a  vice but fit for  lamentation (Jeremiah 13:17,2:19, Isaiah 63:9) !

Is He not disappointed ? (Jeremiah 16:22,13:15-27, 48:30ff.). Does  weeping suggest a mystery of heart ? or does incandescent reminder of what they have missed rather display lamented loss in the very language of love that sees desolation instead of peace! It is  with lamentation as in Luke 19:42ff.,  and so often in the Old Testament no less clearly (as in Psalm  107, where their vicissitudes are contrasted repeatedly with the appointed and divinely desired path, indeed the passionately desired path of the Lord, held out for them), that the Lord exposes the breach of heart that at last became His final cries on  the cross. All  these  things in the Old Testament, in the  New Testament, in the Incarnate Christ to the uttermost, indicate a sovereignty that is sublime, self-sacrificial (cf. Matthew 20:25-28).

Far from the belligerent distortion of  Dawkins or the mystique omissions of Calvin, here is a Deity whose life is not shown as love in action ? Then is a billion a negative quantity ? does one fiddle the sign in front!

Would a new god be wrought which in  Calvin has a secrecy about Him which violates His repeated statements of love, of heart, of principle, of generalisation and particularisation ? or in Dawkins denies His actions to provide at all  costs but that of truth, for what He has made,  even  gloriously (cf. Romans 5:1-11).

WHY!

Did HE not declare in the Old Testament, moreover, at Hosea 13:14, that HE HIMSELF would become the plagues of death, that valiant decimator of man and would-be exterminator ? Did He not  fulfil this as foretold in Isaiah 40:10,  52-53 ? Was not the stated method to be one of RANSOM,  diligently supplied by the Deity Himself personally! Read it and find out!

Did God not in that same passage indicate with an affirmation that would make evil tremble and life abound, that He Himself would be the plagues of hell ? Where man is not in the image of God and freedom is not in the hand of man as first made, and the glory of  God is not available, and love does not ensure reality in human relationships, rather than robotic ties with God, then the case would be different. But according to the glory,  so is the shame.  But again, since God is in principle and practice like this, has repeatedly, passionately, with poignancy, weeping, lamentation, exhortation, preparation, plan, purpose, payment in  Person, done all these things, WHY  defame His name or make mystique out of His mastery! WHY!

Firstly, it is not warranted. Secondly it is not workable. Thirdly it is not biblical.  Fourthly it contradicts what is biblical. Fifthly, it presents precisely the pulverisation of divine compassion and its extent which makes the resulting neology, as that of Calvin, ready for infection by such as Dawkins, his heedless hypothesis a mutant and misshapen thing, a reconstruction not on biblical grounds, an immeasurable defalcation: and all for nothing but twisting, tweaking, or even  a tornado of untruth.

it is ever so: change God in the slightest way from the biblical truth, and you have what does not and cannot work, whether in fairy-tale falsification or in mystified blindness.  Reality cuts no corners, and cutting out a part of the word of God in order to indulge some concepts of a philosophy which appeals, even for good motives, is yet an intrusion which spoils the perfection of a truth which does not change.

Not one iota will God change for anyone, be he enemy or misled theologian, drunk with the dizzy depths of the barrel of nothingness as source, an illogical and aetiological bankruptcy the result of its drugging, or merely driven by a confusion which dreams of what is not written, and mixing it with what is, creates an unholy havoc.

Is man free then  ? Certainly, in his original construction. Was he free to reject God who made him and who was preparing a life of communion and communication with Him, with strict limits  on instantaneous  satisfaction through jejune jumping at a snare ? Of course, he showed it, and did so jump. Did God make provision for the contortion and abortion of  life which resulted ? Naturally, He said so and indicated the human recipient of divine power to overcome the riots of unreality which the first pair by their own wilfulness, yes rebellion occasioned! That came at once as seen in Genesis 3:15, precursor to John 3:16, as if it goes up one when it is more closely revealed!*8

Did He use the entire  palette of history to teach ? to show the path of truth and that of error, to show the remedy, to multiply images concerning His salvation (Hosea 12:10). Yes, and if also to judge, yet first in love,  foremost in mercy:  " How can I give you up, Ephraim ?" (Hosea 11:8), He cries, and with this,  "My heart churns within Me, My sympathy is stirred. I  will not execute the fierceness of My anger."

Again, He cries:

" 'I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself,

'You have chastened me, and I was chastised,
I struck myself on the thigh:

I was ashamed, yes even humiliated,

Because I bore the  reproach of my youth.'

'Is Ephraim My dear son  ?

'Is he a pleasant child ?

'For though I spoke against him,
Í earnestly remember him still.

'Therefore My heart yearns for him:
I will surely have mercy on him,' says the Lord."

There is that realm of fact to which all must be introduced in any adequate study of the word of the Lord, or indeed of anything. Here, there is truth and lie; there is mercy and ruin; there is pertinacious obstructive obstinacy, and persevering passion for self-will, elevated to the skies and falling like soaring stupors of the sky, unprepared and not give to the artistry of flight. There are causes and there are consequences. There are, in this realm, pilots who dump the book of rules, ignore the prohibitions and the protestations of the maker, and fall out of the skies, like dumb-bells tossed aloft only to  fall. Alas, if no mercy, no entreaty, and in the end as in the beginning, has prevailed; if no light is to be found in the cock-pit because of the profundity, even in the sight of the all-knowing God, of the love of darkness, of autonomous fluency of flight that knows neither bounds nor reality, what then ? Then the domain of darkness is the air of the enterprise, found as sought; for it is in more ways of one that it applies: SEEK and you will FIND,

At times, there is a simple intransigence, at others there are phases of enlightenment, as if to lift the corners of the obfuscatory clouds and show the light, as when the sun appears for a little from this or that cloud, and shines with all the candour of the naturalness of its provisions, on a are-awakened earth. Then the appeal, the pull, the vitalisation may thrill for a moment in the inept soul, and penetration may occur as if to lift, before the ultimate result is wrought and regeneration comes.

Reality is what it is, and mercy in God is so profound that as the above illustrates in practice and in principle, in poignancy and in pity, in profound action and in epochal deeds wrought, as in Jesus Christ, in prophecy for centuries and in fulfilments that last for millenia more, there is nothing but the limits of the heart of man that ends the matter (cf. Isaiah 57:15). Even the conscience can be burnt as with a hot iron. Burning indeed is a good illustration of the results of playing with reality, and grief at the results surpasses the superficial,  mounting even to the cross of anguish and agony, to clear the way home categorically, and make it free past conditions, except acceptance, repentance into reality and realisation into regeneration, itself the gift of God (Ephesians 2:1-8, Titus 3:3-5).

What then of Israel as a stark and a studied example ? You see even above, the love and passion of the Lord, His longing and His provisions, turning again and again as in II Chronicles 36, before the end comes, providing, illustrating, designating, offering ...

Has He done it with Israel, then ? Repeatedly He shows it as in Hosea and in Psalm 106, in Deuteronomy 28, 32 as in Jeremiah 2:14ff.,2:19-20, 27-30. When He declares to Jerusalem, "In vain have I chastened your children ..." (Jeremiah 2:30), is He saying:

 I did not care to include you or incorporate you in My family, and went through a facade of feeling, knowing full well that I had no such desire ? Is this the translation, the rendering! Or  will  we interpret by contradiction ...

indeed, but is it not that He as a Father saying, THOUGH I called, YET you did not answer as in Hosea 7 and 11, and though I yearned, yet you did not turn as in Jeremiah 2:12-13. There  He calls the very heavens to witness this truth, that there be no thought that His sincerity and longing and offering and entreating had been other than entire and to the uttermost, so that all guilt and result is from those so rebellious, so unnaturally and for so long, in the very face of such merciful desire and extended entreaty from the very heart! His expostulation comes like thunder on a cloudy day, and His insistence on His love like an amour of diligence, where the flights of hope become the measure of loss! Yet their brow remains brazen (Isaiah 48:4), as if their purpose were to practise euthanasia upon themselves, while yet young!

The waters that were FOR them, they did not bother with (Jeremiah 2:12-13).

"My people have committed two evil:
they have forsaken Me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewn themselves cisterns -
broken cisterns, that can hold no water."

The pure waters of everlasting truth, resolution of 'the human problem,' that bring peace, these they disdain (Jeremiah 18:14). Pure they may be, fresh and stimulating, quenching, yes, for the thirst; BUT to the cracked cistern they make haste to go, and of its services they seek result! Of what is a mere signal of loss, being surely made by themselves but made in vain, to this they repair. It was of this that  they were enamoured. Thus in Jeremiah 17:13, we find these words:

"O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake You shall be ashamed,
and those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth,
because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters."

Was  He then in some secret mystery, displeased amid satisfaction, or  stopping short of salvation because of an inherent weakness, limit or lack of thrust in Himself  ? Or was not the case the precise opposite: that despite the uttermost of thrust and appeal, of logic and truth,  of provision and desire, His will, words, ways, law, His specifications and His intimations were despised. It is as in Proverbs 1: BECAUSE they refused wisdom, set at nought all His counsel, THEREFORE scorn begat negativity, and refusal inherited downfall.

The heart of God is not in such a mind as is created in the tantrums of rejection, and as in a divorce, the truth is despised, even when reconciliation is still in view!

Indeed, in Jeremiah 17:13, one finds that the cause of downfall is not only witheringly exposed in the very gale force wind of His rejected love and unrequited hope for them, He who IS the Hope of Israel, but exhibited as an unnatural freak imposed in the relationship by an unruly and unbiddable, ruinously blind body (Isaiah 43:8 ).  Indeed, He expostulates with a tragic distaste, clamours at their ruinous rebelliousness in the very face of a divine desire both beneficial and extravagant with love (Jeremiah 8:4-9). REJECTION of the word of God is not only undesired, but unnatural, for His truth is not only obvious but sustained, not only impossible to disguise by impractical contortions, but transcendent. Alas, there is a distortion both of the loving design and the original creation, in the turmoil of unbelief,  in its lavish lust! To all this, the Lord sets His heart of anguished love, rejected tenderness, wonderful thoughts of what He would have longed to do!

A personal Being who for all that has a cryptic sovereignty which guided Him not to want them to that extent, just perhaps enough to do a lot of good, but not so that salvation was ever in view, in mind, or in heart, BECAUSE it did not happen in the end, is the creation of man in general, and Calvin in particular in his one profound theological fault. Alas, but it is like an earthquake, and though it be but one fault, much is the rubble from it.

This error of Calvin, then,  is to give spiritual slanderers of God like Dawkins in his written work, more rein for their oblivion of the very depths of divine truth repetitively revealed, passionately expressed, where recrimination and grief mix with the exposure of divine mercies disrupted and thoughtful love answered by a blighting disease of heart which He is not willing to cure by force-therapy, or by any other invasion of personality or individuality. Cure ? yes, and with a great  desire; but not by irrelevancy, pouncing, shanghaiing His captives into charm. He saves,  does not waive what is sick, and invent another. Again, He does not weep because He is weak, but because He is love, pure and perfect, where no entrammelment is, nor any deceit or deviousness, but bright in purity like the sun shining cleanly upon the snow, He appeals to the person who is there, not bypassing but penetrating, and being sure, as this He has done before it was ever created, so He acts. There,  that is the limit of His entire design and desire. There is love, not shove.  Beyond that, He will not go.

If He did ? Then human personality becomes a mere emotional slave, made different without involvement, seduced without spirituality, taken without participation in principle or in practice, put aboard a slave ship, which while beautiful in construction, involves at the very outset,  constriction of character, like an unsolicited operation. Liberty is then in abeyance, and a comedy of contemptible kind is rehearsed before our grieved eyes, as the entire gamut in explicit proposition and practical principle is deleted in favour of some other god with some other heart and some other protestations who cannot lose what He loves, because even His love is so reconstructed that if it fails, He lacks force!

This is not the new creation of which the Bible speaks, but rather is it moving toward the domain of a new creation of the understanding and all-comprehending God Himself! Yet He does not change.

HE it is who FINDS His lost sheep,  as it is, and brings it home, and as He comes, so it goes, and it becomes His as He moves. There is accordingly,  no sovereignty which reduces  to the superficial His heart, word,  mind, protestations, imprecations, solicitations, goadings and restraints. GOD IS LOVE. What He says, He is; and what He does shows it.

It is, as He is at pains repeatedly to point out, a question of solicitude, earnest, true, penetrating, but restrained in kind, as delicate in action:  WHY WILL YOU DIE! He reasons, for I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he should turn and live. As I live, it is so, He declaims.

He does not circumvent what He asks; He does not remove the ground of His protestation; nor does He remove the divine estimate, yes depiction of what He is doing. HE preferred light for all; MANY preferred darkness, and not His light, and hence, darkness being the only residual entity there, theirs it is. He mourns; but He does not satisfy some lust, some mystery, some selective intrigue, some unstated mystique,  in doing so. He SO does it that MANY STATEDLY reject His profoundest desires for them, and do so in such a style, that from the first knowing all, HE it is who designates it the HUMAN preference for darkness that is operative, selective by His knowledge, yet for all that, acting thus in differentiation. It is moving with a finality that declares itself, with many in the negative. What then ?  AS TO GOD, He so LOVED, but as to many, THEY SO PREFERRED. The love was SO, that it was sufficient, relevant, the work of desire with the power of deity; but the work of rejection apprehended by Him, it too  was SO, it was sufficient to meet with His restraint, so that He would not violate, and thus the result is negative.

WHEREFORE will you die ? But you so will it ? THEREFORE this is the stark result,and it is grievous. So does He speak, so itemise, so personalise, so propositionalise and so proceed.

Man, says God, is what is the stoppage from the entirety of the scope of His desire; God, He says, is the author of a salvation which has for all, this the desire of His eyes: yet it is not the outreach of mere power, control methods or supervention in some mystery that drives Him. Rather He acts in the truth of love. There is no mystery in this love, but there is mastery in its intensity, immensity, prodigality of method, self-sacrifice of payment and demonstration of sufficiency, both in the life of Christ and in His death, both in His resurrection and in His prediction.

Thus man is always responsible for his own outage, in the end;  for his MAKER and CREATOR who KNOWS him (Jeremiah 17), who KNOWS his heart, and knew it before dawn awakened for the first time on this earth, or the heavens were planted, knows His own, and He then knew them Indeed, it was  the very heart of Christ, the definitive expression of God (Hebrews 1), who does NOT change, which was operative at the predestining action. It was He Himself who present in foreknowledge as active in predestination (John 5:19ff., Ephesians 1:4), so that in character what Christ showed is what worked from the first, just as it is definitively shown at the last. It is not some other God who predestined, not some other Being who did not know what Christ showed, who foreknew! It is He, the One whose ways are as beautiful as immutable, who was dutiful, who came and did what was required, silencing force and forcing by death an entry without force, for though who are His.

That is the place of force; what was used on Him: and this is the site for power, what He did with the force which sought once and for all to rub out the Son of the plantation, and take it over. Resurrection indeed involved force; but it did not interfere with the reality of His love, but only with the immensity of the hatred which would remove God from the horizon and take over all His works gratis, and rule in lies and lie in folly, managing, manipulating first the hearts of the deluded, and then those whom they delude.

In faith, then, and in its cosmos, there is no force, except in the construction of the freedom where force is void, and thrust is vain; and in this, love moves and in its sacred beauty, it draws, and what does it draw but the heart and soul of man.

The beauty of this, His holiness, has  been categorically once and for all perfectly expressed in the Lord of glory, sent from heaven (John 3, Isaiah 48), who calls to men crying not clandestinely but openly and with fatherly passion,

"O you simple ones, understand prudence and you fools, be of an understanding heart.

Listen, for I will speak excellent things"

and again, 

"Why will you die ?"

and further, of being cleansed,

"When shall it once be ? "

This invocation and exhortation, this tender grief is in the setting in Ezekiel 33:11, that "AS I LIVE I HAVE NO  PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED," a correlative annunciation to that in John 3:15ff.. When He thus asks, WHY WILL YOU DIE ? amid such thrust of love and appeal, it is apparent there is a huge grief, a vast panorama of personal searching, a pang in the heart for those who will wantonly wander, and never surrender; for in affliction, He  finds  sorrow, but in truth there is no relief by annulment, by a waive of the superior hand, which would change Him or remove Him. There is no scope for magics as in evolutionism, false and  unverified prophecies made without vindicated mandate, pomposities of pride and graspings of life, as one might grasp a nettle with a baby's hand,  and refuse at all to let it go. The follies of force in religions of force and in forcing the Bible into a different pattern, these proceed; but they proceed no further. They come as comets that litter the sky, leaving a trail, and then move off into vacuity.

Do you want to know what lies in the heart of God, with nothing beyond it to the point whatsoever ? THEN "AS I LIVE" is going to tell you! That is God's opinion of God; and if some theologian, neologian or evacuee from God wants to paint a different God, then this is mere persiflage or  worse.

I WOULD, YOU WOULD NOT. There is His word concerning what He would have and is content to receive, though with grief; and here  provided is a categorical, infinitely valuable love that showed itself to the cross (as in Hosea 13:14, Philippians 2). This He has done;  and what then have YOU DONE ?

To  philosophise that if God did not get what He wants He would not be God: this is mere verbal twisting. What sort of want is this which is that of love ? Is it impervious like a panzer division, impractical like a bureaucrat wastefully spending billions in Canberra or elsewhere ? Is love to be made lordly, though Christ showed the humility of heart which is in the depth of the very being of God! Is mercy to be by UN gushes of funds, without understanding the nature of giving and receiving when one is dealing with something, someone made in the very image of God! Is the very texture and tenor of  love to be forgotten, so that it is a lack of POWER if it does not simply SEIZE the spirit and heart of man, and changing it, imbue it with what will then MAKE it love, because it can  do no other ? Is this the nature of grief, of appeal, of exhortation missed, of opportunity miffed, of paternal solicitude to the uttermost, even to the depth of this,  the AS I LIVE asseveration of the Almighty Himself, NO PLEASURE in the death of the wicked, so TURN!

Is appeal seizure ? Is lament a lamentable lapse ?  so that the neologian can say, Tut, tut, it is not really so, for AS YOU LIVE, there is a mysterious soveregnty of a very different kind from both the principles and the declarations that you make as from the very heart!

This form of sovereignty, having a character totally diverse in these matters from the nature, character and self-presentation of God over more than three millenia, consistent, insistent and seeking the souls of men, fishing and not forcing, taking what is, not what is imagined to be, is that of an imaginary being. It demonstrably does not relate to the God of the Bible.

The actual One has a power to perform what lies in His heart, and since love IS His nature, anything other than its manner of ministry is not with Him. To be sure, man is so muted and polluted that even in his most intense yearnings, he is stricken with foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14), being seduced and reduced in sin. Yet polluted though he is, and disenabled to the ultimate in psychic distortion though he has become, he is not inaccessible to God, who is not limited, thank goodness, by the cunning philosophies of men, who would tell Him contrary to His own self-declarations, what He is like and what is the manner of His power!

The sovereign God IS the LOVING God, and HE DELIGHTS IN MERCY. It is with man-as-he-is that He has dealt; and if He knows more than man in His love, it is not a vacuous knowledge, but being that of God, it is the true and only one. He KNOWS His own, because before sin disabled man, His impress and impact and infinite depth revealed the heart before it was stricken; and He elected not blanks of mystery but people of preference who, before sin's invocation of relative degrees of obfuscation and relative excellencies and deficiencies in men, before this IN PRINCIPLE, logically prior to it, were revealed to Him for what is their preference.

On this earth, the realities of this knowledge of God can appear in time of conversion in different measure. To one it is given to see how abject is his condition, so that there is no hope for him unless God gratuitously intervene; and indeed grace is like that, for it had no NEED to intervene for any, but in love, for God is like that, it seeks to do so without fracturing the very image of God which was that form and mould in which man  was first made, indeed that liberty with which he was first endured.

To another, as conversion draws near, the reality of his own preference appears, and while it is all  known before the historical adventure, very truly it IS the expression of the heart as GOD KNOWS IT, though it is not sovereign or autonomous, even here, any more. Another may not come, and so finds a nearness that seems to dissipate. Yet it is the reality which God knows but does not impose, in man's heart as foreknown to Him, it is this which is the barrier to further action, so that indeed God declares, THIS is The condemnation. Such is John 3:19.

It is NOT that God did not love. It is NOT that He came to judge the earth; for in fact, He STATES, He came NOT for this, but  to save the world. That is the amplitude of His mission, and for this there is no intermission. It is not in some sovereignty that commands what is demands in this sphere, nor is it in mists of confusion or double-talk, that reality occurs. His action is not in some essential evacuation of the love He so often, so languishingly, so deeply and so poignantly  expresses: it is not here that there is the divine movement. It is rather WITH that very love, that implicit and often explicitly shown desire that will not be evacuated, that will be fulfilled in its own integrity, that He works. It is to the very depths of HIS LIFE, that this is so. AS therefore He acts, this or that element in the ultimate and pre-temporal realities of that matter are seen; and indeed, had God NOT been love, WHO could have been saved (rather than seduced, produced and so 'interpreted' ?

Grace is the pre-essential, entire and only grace, without addition of psychic or emotional or spiritual or moral contribution from man, who is bankrupt entirely and immutably, EXCEPT FOR GOD. Grace is indeed the prequisite for ANYONE'S salvation. But what is saved is no slave of reconstitution which alone makes him or her acceptable. True, the regeneration is entire and DOES make the operation of the new creation in Christ to be one that is filial in nature, and responsive to God in kind; but this is a resultant not to be read back into the grounds of its genesis, or re-assembled as the cause of the conversion! Cause must not be confused with effect. It is as simple as that. The effect of a love that finds its own is the cause of conversion, and this of regeneration as applicable.

THAT a car  works is one thing; WHY it does so is another, quite another. Operation is one thing, and creation is another. The first creation demarcates man as the sort of being he is, with a choice content like that of God in kind, though neither in depth nor in quality, man being infinitely less than God. The second creation, that is the regeneration of sinners into the nature of children of God, it is wrought as on those who are in His image, whose  preference outweighs in the power and mind and desire of God, His own. Love is like that, it does not seek its own dreams or desires, but the good of that to which it is bent.

To subvert man is not good, for it spoils what is made. To desire that is not with God. THEREFORE grief is with Him, with Him who has ultimate power, and love never  relents on its quality, changes its nature, violates or simply seizes what it loves, but always INSISTS on the heart, whether known or unknown to man in his sin, with its ultimate preference known to God, as the pre-condition of the operation of any power. For divine power to do more would be to divide God, to create a schism within Him, to make dynamics the drive and not the knowledge of the heart. Here, however, where biblical reality lies,  power, always utter, is not relevant,  except for the EVENTUATION. It is not a push-over but an appeal that is in view. Love is like that. God is like that; this is the entire scope of His language.

In His wrath, which can come when insidious, invidious, captious and scheming deceit comes between Him and man, who not only rejects His love but insults it and seeks to distort either it or God's power or motives, and spoils its own prospects and ruins the desires of hope: then there is power indeed. Yet it is as in all who have self-control, directed according to the nature of the case. If the affair of heart, of mercy, of pity and of compassion, of doing ALL that might in spiritual integrity be done, if this is wrought, then the results no more excluded, accrue. This leaves very often the situation as if someone wilfully and brazenly refused to wear a lead or similar cover in the presence of radiation, and THEREFORE became DUE for the results, since life is actual and no dream, and dangers are real, and not merely imaginary. It is as in Jeremiah 13:9-12, or II Chronicles 36:15-17.

Thus does God cry FROM THE HEART (He is not an employed diplomat, but speaks His heart! for HE IS THE TRUTH as in John 14:6, and in Him is no darkness whatsoever, and it is time to realise this in all of His works):

"Your own wickedness will correct you,

And your backslidings will rebuke you.

Know therefore and see

THAT IT IS AN EVIL AND BITTER THING,

THAT YOU HAVE FORSAKEN THE LORD YOUR GOD,

And the fear of Me is not in you,"

says the Lord God" (blocks added). 

Such is His divine speech in Jeremiah 2:19.

"Is Israel  a  servant ? Is he a home-born slave ?

Why is he plundered ? ..

Have you not brought this on yourself,

In that you have forsaken the Lord your God,

When He led you in the way!"

 

God apostrophises them, lectures them, shows in His incitement their needless and indeed ludicrous dereliction; for they had only to follow Him in the way He was leading, and it is perverse, contrary to His entire desire and wish and loving provision, grievous to the uttermost and in ultimate degree to Him, that they so act. Burnt up is the crop of life. Polluted is the tank which would have provided divine water. Neglected is the love and the mercy, the provision and the prosperity that He had in view; and it is not only evil, morally inept, but bitter. It is as in Isaiah 48:18: "Oh that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been as a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea."

Again, what is it like ? There as in a ruined house in the hills, lies the result of failure to provide against fires; and indeed, while the house burnt they were incredibly simply warming their hands on its inflammations, enjoying like good philosophers, every new thing though flames were the medium, and though ruin the result.

It is bitter ? why ? It is because the divine hope and provision and peaceableness and joy in their happiness and zeal in making it available and desire for its consummation: all these things are now but as a dream, though reality in the uttermost degree was provided. It is precisely as a father who seeing his son's opportunities, does not turn him into a drug-directed thing in order to take pleasure in him, but insists on letting him, in the end, take the bit in his teeth if this is his ultimate preference: though how he laments for it. Yes in the end, it is a bitter thing.

Such is the love of God, and it is not other. This is how it is constantly expressed and it is as a Father and Saviour and Lover and Master of Mercy that God relates to man, though as observed, the results of this liberty are interpreted by God, so that no psychic condition is the ultimate, but the Physician of souls Himself. Men become tyrants, and seek in Communism and Inquisition, through Islamic sword and swagger alike, through Hitleresque Panzer as through brash power of any other kind, to subdue men by terror, by cruelty, by rape, by fine and by subjection to demolishing laws.

That is the lust and thrust of men.

God loves, and SEEKS what is lost. He does not inject. He DOES inspect and know, and the heart is His site of operation, not for a transplant, but for the work of love which when it is done, makes power EVEN RELEVANT!

What swaggering man of old could not sweep a maiden to his castle and then seek to change her nature to love him! But with God it is neither so, nor in any way related. God delivers in mercy, not in force, in favour and not in implacable passion which ignores the very features of what it is He loves; and in this case, what it is how HE MADE it in the first place, so that all the limitations which He sets upon Himself in not instituting a fiefdom, but a banquet, fall under the banner of love (Song of Solomon 2:4). These are ACCORDING TO HIS WILL AND TO HIS DESIRE. It is His sovereign, all-powerful DESIRE SO to act, and in SUCH a situation to have His dealings with man. Its limitations are simply another name for its qualities, sovereignly invented by God as potential in the human matrix, in the human spirit indeed;  and thus in that scene and scenario, what He does is as the sovereign imposition of this kind of nature at the first, that it might even exist, now makes wise and good and fitting.

Hence He can grieve, for love does so; and rejoice with the lamb brought home on His shoulder, for love knows where power is apt and where it is mere bullying, belligerence suppressed or desire for profit without personal tenderness. Therefore when it prevails, it rejoices, for in its restraint lies not only liberty in others, but the scope for grief in itself.

Yet it is as He has desired it, and His power is thwarted NEITHER in the construction of such a being THUS in His image as man is, NOR in its instruction, NOR in its treatment. If marvellous provisions are rejected, despite a magnificence of mercy, then that is the feature of the construction HE elected to make.  If in HIS all-knowing foreknowledge, in HIS knowledgeability, in HIS understanding, He is received, then He rejoices  and there is more joy in heaven over one who repents, than over 99 just persons. He seeks to invent, to supplement, to search out in the byways and under hedges, whatever, whoever may be found.

There not only no mystery in His attitude and in the various provisions which He uses and will not use, but it is expressed in proposition, in principle, in parable, in incitation, in exhortation, in recrimination, in readiness to relent and find what is now to be found. It is as in Jeremiah 31:20, where the paternal solicitude and tenderness shows such an  ardent readiness to forgive, for He  delights in mercy, and has - as He lives -no  pleasure in the death of the wicked. Jeremiah 31:18-22 shows the matter in sensitive correlation from inception to reception, from repentance to tenderness fulfilled. Mystery ? There is not even any room for it. That is, except in this: that God COULD so love, DOES so love, IS so restrained, IS so passionately pure, and considers such as we are with all the wonder and beauty of holiness which is His own! that He came to secure what it took, and takes only in the liberty of that attainment, which He secured when crucified, yes, rather when raised also (Romans 8:34).

Indeed, in His depth and wonders of working, there is the divine infinitude of wisdom; but in the WAY of it and the REASONS for it and the NATURE of it, there is a total and bill-boarded manifestation, and a clear-pool transparency. The greatest mystery of all, then,  is simple, and simply delightful: HOW could anyone love us as we are, let alone anyone so noble in character, wise in heart, pure in disposition, holy in mind, knowledgeable in all things as He is! HOW could anyone be so patient!

Such a delightful mystery is full of honey, and invigorates like meat!

Alas for the love of God, that men for so many reasons and in so many ways, close their eyes to it, or squint as they look, as if to skew it this way or that, since it is so marvellous that one can but cry out, Praise God for His wonderful mercy and His great compassion, His grand vision and His entire grace, that not one member of this race will find exclusion except it was the preference of that party in the very face of the longing and desire, the pity and the provision of God.

Thus in I John 2:1-3, we find that it is not for our sins only that He is so presented in this salvation and entire sufficiency for man, but to ALL THE WORLD. It is not,  as Colossians 1:19ff. tells us, for this or that one only, but for ALL THINGS, the all-inclusive PANTA in Greek, that He would extend this reconciliation; and it is for all that He would be pleased to find it taken.

It is not so. Yet this is His heart. His power could do it; but His schema, His fashioning of the interface of LOVE, between persons, this  would not do more than send His only begotten Son to live and then die, to expound and exhibit the infinite power of God and His personal pity, and then pay enough to cover any, so that those who receive the available cheque, might be checked in. But is this not enough ? He does not throw it at them, or stuff it into the retreating back pocket of their spiritual pants!

He has done all. There is nothing further but what would be the descent of all to hell by the removal of the only possible grounds of happiness, in holiness, and the only possible way to love, through love, that God provides. That is no advantage for any; and is no option for the all wise God, whose love does not remove glory because of shame, or eternity because of a preoccupation on the part of many, with the form of thing present, sightless of the unseen.

Shame therefore on shambles instead of the sufficiency of the love of God.

 

 

 

NOTES

 

*1

See:

 Beauty for Ashes Ch.     3,  

 The Kingdoms of This World and the Kingdom of Christ
Ch.   9,

 

*2

On this, see:

Possess Your Possessions Chs.  6, ,

Lively Lessons in Spiritual Service ... Ch.      5,

Red Alert Ch.  11

The gods of naturalism have no go!   16, cf. 17,

SMR pp. 402ff.,

TMR Ch. 7;  with

Repent or Perish Ch. 7,

The Incomparable Christ ... Ch. 2.  

 

*3 See for example:

Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch.  4,

The gods of naturalism have no go!  21, 34.

 

See in this field and to this effect variously and cumulatively:

SMR pp. 140ff., 

Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch.   2 (the historical  trends,
the tedium and the non Te Deum of nescient naturalism)
,

DDDD  -  4
(the last with much much in free verse, cf. ASP Ch. 9: emphasis in DDDD 4, Darwin is dead);


Dig Deeper, Higher Soar ...
Ch.  I,  *1A

The Defining Drama Ch.  10 (and smuggling in gods);

Sparkling Life ... Ch.  8

Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy Ch.   3 - and I Timothy 6:20;

Wake Up World! ...  Chs. 4- 6, esp. the last

Earth Spasm, Conscience and Renewal of Life Ch.   7.
 

See more comprehensively: The gods of naturalism have no go!

 

* 3A

See for this:

 TMR and SMR, Deity and Design ..., with

LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST,
WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES, AND WHERE HE IS, DARKNESS DEPARTS.

 

*3B

See TMR Ch. 7, as marked.

 

*3C

See: Bay of Islands 1 esp. *1,   2, and   3.

See also, The Biblical Workman Ch. 8 in this field and the latent beauty of it.

More broadly, see *5 below.

 

*3D

On Calvin's Five Points, see Sums,  Summits and in SumCh. 4 with The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, as marked. with the excerpt below. It is from Repent or Perish Ch.  1, *1.

 

A Post-script of Encouragement:

See Predestination and Freewill pp. 79ff., re Calvin's declaration in Institutes Book 3, Ch.XXIV, 17. Calvin's endeavour to make metaphors a conveyor of what is not the case, as if we did not know metaphor for what it is, a CORRECT depiction of the POINT to which it refers is wholly irrelevant, and not admirable. "Stretching forth one's arms" is not a reference, one might without much difficulty discern, to God's having arms. If so, what is the use of metaphor at all! It is however a clear reference to what THIS ACTION IMPLIES, when it is performed, and so conveys this.

God does indeed have most deep thoughts, as Calvin indicates, and it is indeed entirely possible to misread this depth, which is infinite, and to imagine that some item on the agenda means something final, when it is merely an incident to alert, a device to sensitise and so forth. Indeed this equally is quite true. What however is not at all true is this: that God who in depth is so vast, in speech is not accurate.

When therefore He declares that something is so, it is His VERY DEPTH and righteousness, in whom is no unrighteousness at all, which MEANS that we CANNOT and DARE NOT and in all modesty SHOULD NOT attempt to "READ" it like the scribes of old, to MEAN something other than what it says. It is nothing to do with being literal, but only with handling the word of God with soft fingers, so that a declaration that HE WOULD, on the part of Christ, MEANS that He would, and not that His disfigurement was not only OF  Him, on the Cross, but even BY Him, of the Father also, a blasphemous thought, when you tease it out and look it in the face.

The FORM of Christ STATEDLY involved Him in what as a servant was not found in the FORM of God: that is, He could thirst and be arrested. The declarations of Christ however are not even His own invention, but He provided what His Father commanded (John 12:48-50). This then would make even the Father a communicative failure. It is time such nonsense was ousted from the realms of theology, where its philosophic intrusion is barred rightly by Paul in Colossians 2:8.
 

  • Philosophy ? From the heart of man,
  • it is indeed "vain", as is anything which
  • tempers the word of God with human wit, and

·       tampers with direct statements as to the nature of the heart and will of God. 

  • Christ became man not to distort or disorientate, but to declare and lead the Father forth, so that he who knew Him, knew the Father likewise, NOT some first beginnings in which error could creep, so that what was declared to be SO, in terms of principle and approach on the part of God, was NOT so.


That is not theology, it is philosophy. The so-called five points of Calvinism, if read in the context of Scripture as always for all things necessary in doctrine, are indeed excellent. They help to exhibit many errors. But this is no reason for elevating Calvin to a pinnacle of which men will say, "I of Apollos, I of Calvin!" It is quite simply by the word of God FORBIDDEN to do this (I Corinthians 3:4,21-23).

How long does it take for this word to be obeyed! Does the word of God owe something to Augustine or to Calvin or to Apollos? Of course not, for as Paul states, he received it by revelation from God, not of man at all, neither from what he was taught, and in I Cor. 2:9-13 he traces how the wording itself is provided by God, whose is both the substance and its expression, preserved to His entire quality specifications for the word of God. (See SMR, Appendix D on this topic.) If this word is not heeded, then the errors, few though they may be, of one saint of great power and service to the church, may be imbibed as if the fluid of his speech were the very pure milk of the word. (Cf. The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch.9, pp. 174ff., items 12-13, The Biblical Workman Ch.8, including *2.)

Enough! It is forbidden and it is done, and it ought not to be done, and one of its results is not only a limitation of restrictive vision, as by blinkers on a horse, concerning the very word of God itself, but a restless divisiveness which can afflict the church. It is not merely wholly unnecessary, but to the praise of God let it be clearly stated, it COULD NOT HAPPEN IF THE WORD OF GOD WERE OBEYED. You are simply not permitted to develop a form of doctrine based on the correctness of any theologian, though you may choose of his works for formulations, always susceptible to testing.

These however, even these, may not be "of Calvin" or of "Augustine" or "of Apollos", but merely helps. Moreover, following such a stringently Biblical path as here recommended, and indeed divinely commanded, could only stimulate the real uniting church - not one in fellowship with Rome , but one ruled by the word of God, outside the philosophical and often personalised camps that conflict often both with each other and the word of God, minimising or adding to it. (Cf. Biblical Blessings Ch.3, end-note 1, and "moderation" in the Topical Index for "The Twenty One".)

Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for there is simply nothing comparable (Colossians 3:17). It is one of the features of churches like the Presbyterian Church of Australia, at least before it developed novel features and changed its way, that it ADDED this emphasis on the love of God TO the Westminster Confession in the so-called Declaratory Statement, which in this was a wonderful refinement. The system was not wrong: that was not the point. The addition of this pre-systematic reality of the love of God in its Biblical force was needed, and efforts were made to ensure it was there. This was an excellent and discerning move. Let us however revert to Calvin.

Unfortunately, Calvin was carried away here. CHRIST WOULD HAVE GATHERED THEM UNDER HIS WINGS, just as He says, and these, the daughters or current generation of Jerusalem, her children, WERE NOT WILLING (Matthew 23:37, cf. SMR Appendix B and below). It is true that Calvin was dealing with some saucy doctrine of the flesh, and seeking to refute it, but to invent one's own doctrine is not the way to declare that of the Lord! The full analysis of this matter is found in Predestination and Freewill where shown, and in what follows throughout its presentation.. He wants to show that it does not "follow that God's plan was made void by man's evil intent", and this is a good objective, since He states that He works all things after the counsel of His own will, and does what He pleases in heaven and earth, albeit it is a good pleasure (Ephesians 1:11, Psalm 115, Ephesians 1:5). The objective does not however sanction the method taken to refute that error: it is not good to make one error to refute another.

God's restraint in love is shown throughout the whole Bible in such terms, in so many images, through so many deeds, in such declarations, with such pathos, poignancy, amid such protestations, with so many devices to delay judgment, that a failure to perceive that this Sovereign is so loving that John declares "God is love", is a lapse sufficient to have sent shock-waves through Christendom for long enough. It is time the striving ceased and the word of God ruled, and that the pugilistic "certainties" of philosophic camps, somehow arrayed within the walls of what is called the church, made peace first with the word of God, and then with each other.

Meanwhile, the word of God is true, and harmonious, and like God, it is wonderful, it is His, and as we read in our dissertation on the Song of Solomon, "His mouth is most sweet" (The Kingdom of Heaven... Ch.11). It is the textual certainties which do not vary, and cannot with truth be invaded. These have a harmony (as demonstrated in Predestination and Freewill) which is profoundly arresting and unique in this field. That is good. But it is HIS word; and that is better.

As the Psalmist puts it,

  • "Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart" - Psalm 119:111, and again,
     
  • "The righteousness of Thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live" v.144;
     
  • "Thy word is true from the beginning,
    and every one of Thy righteous judgments endures for ever" -
    v. 160;
     
  • "Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors" - v. 24,
     
  • "How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" - v. 103;
     
  • "Thy word is very pure, therefore Thy servant loves it" - v. 140;
     
  • "concerning Thy testimonies, I have known from of old that Thou hast founded them for ever" - v. 152,
     
  • "forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven" - v. 89, and
     
  • "Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way" - v.104.
     

By these, one knows the true from the false, and one does not fiddle with the standard, which is then MADE false.

Let God be true, though every man a liar! His word? It is true that when we know as we are known, prophecies shall no longer be the sometimes indirect exposure, but sight the direct knowledge. Nevertheless, it is sufficiently clear that this does not render dispensable the word of God which is and always has been, utterly pure - "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" - Psalm 12:6. When God speaks, we do not hypothesise as to His meaning, we read it; far less do we hypothesise that it is contrary in Christ to the Deity, when He IS the deity, or that His human form defiles His truth, for He stated, "I am the truth". Let us therefore read and understand with the Psalmist, and BY IT try every false way, and REPENT of sin with all our hearts and abide in Him and have His words abide in us, for there is not merely safety, but the unspeakable joy of His company and comfort, who desires us so to abide.

God did indeed so love THE WORLD that HE GAVE His only-begotten Son, and what obscures this mission is not of the Lord, but of sin; and those who in sin depart from this divine and universal offer from the very heart of God, do despite to their own hope, doubly in folly, that in the face of such a love and heart as this, they so distinguish themselves. As He says in Matthew 23:37, so in Isaiah 30:15: "In returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: and you would not." Again, as noted in The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch.4, we have this:
 

·       "Thus in John 3 we are told that THIS is the condemnation, that light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, or more literally, men loved the darkness more than the light. 

·       "Now if anyone sought to establish that the light referred to was not Jesus Christ, he would have some difficulty in escaping a just charge of eisegesis. After all, the Gospel of John has been at extreme pains to show that the light IS Jesus Christ, sent into the world. It actually SAYS so (John 1:3,10-11). The Word is the focus, it was the light, is the light, became flesh and dwelt among us. This is the declaration..."

As we there show in detail from John's Gospel, with a declared PURPOSE of NON-CONDEMNATION Christ came into the world, that it might be saved, and the PRINCIPLE, in the light of this light, for actual CONDEMNATION is this: that light has come and men have preferred darkness to light. And the light, it is He who HAS COME, as just described in enormous detail, in the incarnation.

The purpose is EXPLICIT, the PROVISION is AMPLE, the DIVINE MOTIVE is DECLARED, and the principle for exclusion in hell is MANIFESTED in terms of human preference in the face of this Light... The Light is manifested in terms of Christ, who declares "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12), whose divine entry and full-orbed wonder is the chief focus of John 1. Its rejection, thus defined, is the condemnation, because of preference for darkness.

This, of condemnation, is the essence. It is not something hidden; it is something stated, stipulated in principle.

The fact that man is too sick in soul to make the "decision" for His salvation is not in the least relevant to the way in which GOD in His foreknowledge, being wholly apt for any knowledge, predestines those whom HE foreknows. It is not in the hands of man, but in those of God exclusively; but as to those hands, they are those which relate to the God who has declared His heart, His intention and His principles. There is no room for doubt except by butting into the word of God like a goat into a fence. He is always the same, and His ways do not change, and they are as Christ has shown them to be, declaring, He who has seen Me has seen the Father, that He spoke what His Father commanded, and who, in response to the cry for the showing of the Father to His disciples, replied,

"Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known ME, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say, 'Show us the Father!' "

Changes of form (Philippians 2) do nothing therefore to defile, distort or smash the reality, the principles, the force, the texture or the truth. He, as He there lived, declaring, "I am... the truth" (John 14:6).

To libel the love of God by constricting it where He affirms it, in the interests of a blind and circumscribed philosophy, is a rank act; just as is, at the other philosophical extremity, that distortion of sovereignty that imagines God to resolve in vain (v. Isaiah 43:13). Disabled by sin, man is nevertheless not deleted, and is found by that uncontractable love of God, of Colossians 1:19-23, I Timothy 2:1-6, being predestined to this. God does not contradict Himself, affirming the desire, while from eternity and in principle, withholding the means essential to its fulfilment, but cries to responsible man, 'Repent!' (Matthew 4:17, Luke 13:1-3), and to Jerusalem, weeping, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes..." (Luke 19:42, cf. The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch.4, esp. pp. 49ff.).

The shallow sophistications of misled philosophy always entice the unwary to their additive constraints; but God knows how to be what He is and get what He wants even in the realm of personality, achieving without dispersion, receiving without distortion, being received without violence, the lover who leaves all other love behind, yet inspires it and is its rest and source.

  • As in predestining sublimity (cf. Predestination and Freewill),
  • so in historical reality,
  • God is able to receive and be received by what is His own,
  • with no mechanics to defile His principles,
  • or derangements to over-rule His protestations.
     
  • It remains true that in the face of the ample and capacious love of God to the world
    (John 1-3 and elsewhere as noted),
  • the gift of repentance, like all the rest of the amazing deliverances
    to those elected to be the children of God,
  • is truly received,
  • and the non-reception of what is proffered
  • remains the divinely stated criterion of exclusion (John 3:17ff.),
    even in the face of such love, a love uninterested in this phase,
    in any condemnation, but in incorporation.

 

Such thoughts therefore, as those cited from Calvin, which would convey a breach between the heart and mind of Christ and of His Father are vain. Such a procedure is worse then irrelevant.
It does not move this fence. God's word protects God from such false allusions to His word, to His principles and to His purpose, just as, in the field of  a parallel error, they protect man from delusive imaginations about His own "capacity" to gain His salvation by any work or nuance, any nobility or merit, any work of his own.
 

·       Response then is in the end, real and apt for one in the image of God: it is merely a matter of  how it is secured in the Lord before all time, as He who knows all, also know this: what is appropriate for His love in such a disenabled soul. Contentious cavils, philosophic intrusions with all their merely human and passing insistences, the constraints of confusion and illusion, will never erode the clear declaration of the word of God, from the right or from the left, from 'super-orthodoxy' or from rabbled and irrational radicalism. He who, in His love and salvation, does violence to the will of none, and in love does not shanghai or play the buccaneer, knows also this: who are His and why. 

·       "HOW OFTEN" He had sought, as He said. HOW often would He have gathered the children of Jerusalem together under His wings, those who, as with "the children of Israel" of old, were the current generation of the people, and here those of the great city  (cf. II Chronicles 36:15ff.). In Christ's day we read of those of yore, He sent because "He had compassion on His people"! "IF ONLY...", as Christ cried in His own day on earth, if only they had known! But as to the daughter of Jerusalem, as the contemporary citizens are often called (Appendix B, SMR, cf. Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff., Jeremiah 6:2-312-15,, 6:23,26, 8:11, 9:1,7, Lamentations 2:2,8), she was not interested. In former days, AFTER the judgment from Babylon, we read that the elders of this 'daughter' (Lamentations 2:10) "sit on the ground and weep in silence". It is as with Isaiah:


"...this is a rebellious people,
Lying children,
Children who will not hear the law of the LORD,
Who say to the seers, 'Do not see,'
And to the prophets, 'Do not prophesy to us right things;
Speak to us smooth things,
prophesy deceits.
Get out of the way,
Turn aside from the path.
Cause the Holy One of Israel
To cease from before us" (from Isaiah 30:9-11, emphasis added).
 

·       As with Jeremiah, where 'she', the daughter of Jerusalem,  was instructed to roll around in the dust in shame at her abominations, so now. He would have gathered that generation together under His wings, as a hen gathers her chickens ... just as He would have healed... even BABYLON (Jeremiah 51:9, Jeremiah 51:9). But it is not so! 

·       His tenderness and restraint, not to say patience, are clear in so many ways, that the small selection here made is merely indicative; but this it is. To divorce the Lord from this aspect is no less or more distorting that to humiliate His sovereignty into some cap-in-hand uncertainty. God is not only a lover, but an all-knowing one; He is not only a sovereign, but a wholly compassionate one: and what if, with much patience, He endured those foreknown for destruction! (Romans 9:22). 

·       He does not put the lost sheep in grappling irons, but carries it home on His shoulder.

The foreknowledge does not pre-empt love, but expresses what, as John 3 makes so clear, is undercut by nothing. If then, it is a sovereign love, it is the love of a loving sovereign. He is so towards Israel as already shown in many examples (cf. SMR Appendix B), even when they are rejected, statedly BECAUSE of their rejection of Him who appeals, provides and protests, and in protesting, protests His love that a peace and blessing should be theirs, of profound and beautiful character, in Him (as in Ezekiel 33:11 cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ, Ch.10. pp. 143ff., cf. I Tim. 2:1-5) .

Christ, desolate at their rejection of Him (because it would render them desolate, as we see in Luke 19:42ff.), yet receives it. He does not twiddle with words, like a verbally contentious scribe or a legal contortionist, with specious sophisms, or captious cavils: but He appeals to the heart, just as He who IS the truth (John 14;6) expresses with profundity and justice, His own!

If some did not receive the grant of repentance (Acts 11:18), even though Christ did not come to condemn, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17), God being willing that all might be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:1-6): it was not because the Lord had  a lapse of concentration, or a technical failure. It was not for such reasons that many are doomed (Matthew 7:13-14, Mark 9). Pilfering His product (themselves), with those who do "always resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51-52), despite outpourings of divine grace, even reaching to manifest divine revelation (Acts 7:53) and in fact, to the Light Himself when He came (John 1-3) into the world, and the express willingness that it might be saved (John 3:17), they find gravity rather than grace as they hurtle with remorseless heart, over the cliff of the rock on which they should have stood, to the waters of death.

Thus we find this living embodiment of the word of God, Christ Jesus the Lord (John 1, John 12:48ff.), lament at what was, in marred will and feverish restlessness, to be lost, rather than to awake to an understanding of the day of its visitation (Luke 19:42ff.). Alas, like Elisha of old (II Kings 8:11-13), Christ wept at the judgment on the remorselessly recalcitrant; for they achieve their damnation with notable diligence.

And what is their stated ground for judgment ?  that their indefensible and indispensable preference for darkness endured, and did not falter. This preference in the beseeching presence of eternal light (John 3:19, cf. John 15:21ff.), the very cited basis of the condemnation, is as far from some imagined diversion of His heart, from His stated love (I John 3:19), some dimming of its amplitude (Col. 1:19ff.) and His gracious purpose (cf. I John 2:1-3) as it would readily be possible to move! Not in pettifogging ploys and words (I Tim. 2:14, Proverbs 8:8-9), but in explicit declaration of intent from His very nature (John 4:8-10) is the case in view.

With every avenue shut, every focus dimmed, every sacrifice delusively dismissed, every heart of many being sought, as hard as adamantine, as in the days of the prophets, He did not swoop in like German blitzkriegs in the shape of some medieval crusader. Rather did He fulfil His mission in power and word, in declaration and rebuttal, in divine attestation of His divinity, in crushing collision with sin on the cross where He bore it for those to be redeemed. Penetrating as foreknown and predestined in His love (for God IS love), He acted then as before time (Ephesians 1:4), in the very spirit and reality which he showed in earth, of whom it is rightly said, He who has seen Me has seen the Father.

Who said that ? Christ said it. Meanwhile, judgment set in like a cloud, as darkness symbolically covered the site of His execution. They but executed their own mercy.

Soon their very city would be executed by Rome. What is profoundly beautiful in His love, is this, that even as His own carnage come near, a work of indescribable dimensions since it included the actual bearing in the human format of the guilt of the sin of all to be redeemed from all ages, He wept. But for whom ? NOT for Himself, in this planned outrage on His person and purity, drafted into a vicarious sacrifice, but for the OBJECT of His concern, those of Jerusalem!

His judgments, to be sure on the other side, follow with distinctness, even if amazing extensions - before eventual impact - may occur to the point that Ezekiel was instructed to deal with a newer type of tortuous twisting on the part of mockers. Their new contortion of truth: it was to the effect and complaint that God prolongs things: THEREFORE, says the prophet from the mouth of the Lord, JUDGMENT IS NOW. There will be no more delay (Ezekiel 12:22-28). Compare to this, Jeremiah 17:19-27 where a proposition for prolonged and wonderful blessing, even to remain for ever (17:25), was made: even in the midst of judgment, a fresh proposal of splendid mercy was provided, one which their hearts were not in tune to keep, though it was ever so simple, and filled with grace. They would not heed even that.

"Therefore tell them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: 'None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,' says the Lord God." Imminent doom became an implacable end.

Neither aspect, love or sovereignty, seeking in mercy (in which CATEGORICALLY, GOD DELIGHTS - Micah 7:18-19) or declaring in judgment - presenting or precluding, pre-empts the other: God is not divided, and knows His own mind, and declares in truth His own heart. What He says in principle, over and over in this form, phrase and phase and in that, as He constantly reveals the love and the seeking (cf. Hosea 12:10), and as He repeatedly constrains and controls with His decisions and determinations, His sovereign edicts: BOTH we know, and that, it is the whole point. Only philosophy objects with its running sore of uncontrolled thrusting past the word of God, to satisfy this or that human instinct: and as to that, as Paul declares, it is vain; for what is man's thought compared with the Lord, and man's thoughts are not as His.

As to those who know Him, however, they know this, that this miracle of miracles, that HE should penetrate to their heart and find them, it is the work of God for whom nothing shall be said to be impossible (Luke 1:37, John 6:28-29). Nothing BUT that work and that work alone, could have secured it (John 10:26); but as John 1-3 makes so superabundantly clear, God is not selectively disregarding where it counts, anyone in the scope of His offer and the reality of His love; it is a preference for darkness in the very face of this universality of the divine cover of charity, which is cited as the ground of condemnation (John 3:15-19); it is the failure to come to Him in the face of such words and deeds as these, which is cited against them (John 15:21-23). Without that, as the Scripture says, to the point at issue (their salvation), "they would have had no sin. But now...", it is the end, for there is no other beginning for sinners, but this.

There is nothing wreathed or contorted, twisted or devious about the word of God. It is not least for that reason that as to His words, "They are all clear to him who understands". His word is pure, see times refined, and in Him is no iniquity at all (James 1:17, Psalm 92:15, Deuteronomy 32:4); and it is from His light that we see light (Psalm 27;1, 36:9). But let us resume.

If we put together the two conclusions of such impenitence in John 15:22,24, we gain the understanding. They "would have had no sin", but now, they having disbelieved though faced with the direct impact of His words and His deeds, He declares:

a) "they have no excuse for their sin"
b) "they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father".



He adds:



"But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hate Me without a cause' " - John 15:25.

To disregard (Him) at this level, to discount at this intense place of value and sacrifice, is to relegate reality and mercy and hope to the point that all that is precious is despised. Indeed that, in spiritual things where the petty patter of legalisms is long since past,  is to assign such a nethermost portion to the infinite God of all wonder, definitively declared in Jesus Christ and as His own Person, that it is classed rightly indeed, as hate. Rejection of Christ at this point then appears as it is:

An impermeable, impenetrable, undying, ungrounded, unfounded, unruly and intemperate disregard of intimate, ultimate value and majesty, tenderness and mercy from Creator to creature. Christ is not demi-urge but deity, and denial of Him in His mercy mandate ministry is consignment to hell by one's own soaring folly as efficient - all too efficient - cause. It is this ultimate denial in His gracious, Messianic face which is the defined, despatch notice to doom.

For this, the first call is straightforward, simple and clear:

"REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND" (Matthew 4:17), and this,

"UNLESS YOU REPENT YOU WILL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH."

 

 

 

 

*4

See for example:

The Bright Light and the Uncomprehending Darkness Ch. 10,

SMR pp. 532ff., All This Rot About Not Believing.

 

 

 

*5

On this topic,  see this list from Possess Your Possessions Volume 6, Ch. 2, *2,

and indeed see that entire Chapter.

POSSESS YOUR POSSESSIONS Vol. 5, Ch.  10, Ch.  6;

THE AVAILING, UNRESTRAINED LOVE OF GOD

Beauty of Holiness Ch. 2,
The Glow of Predestinative Power
Chs. 1, 4, 8,
SMR Appendix B, Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 8,
The Christian Pilgrimage
Ch. 3,
How Great is the God We Adore
Ch. 3, 3 Epilogue,
Repent or Perish
Ch. 1,
Predestination and Freewill, esp. Section III.

A useful combination of references on this topic:

 The  Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4,
Christ's Ineffable Peace and Grace
Ch. 2,
Great Execrations
... , Chs.   7 and   9,
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes
and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth
Ch. 6, esp. *3
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3,
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 2,
Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah
Ch. 8,
Deity and Design ... Ch. 10

 

See also with special  reference to the reality of the love, its purity, sincerity,
that God is love, removing errors of Calvin and Clark:

Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Chs.   7 and    9,
A Time to Praise God
, Appendix 1,
with
Message
... Ch. 9,
Marvels of Predestination
... Ch. 4, Ch. 6, Supplement 6,

The Spiritual Sagacity of Predestination in Love Ch. 4,
The Pride of Life
... Ch. 7,

Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth
Ch. 6, esp. *3

Massifs of Pure Splendour
Ch. 7

 

A further Useful Grouping on Love, Predestination, the Bible
and the Beliefs from the Word of God to the Mind of Faith ...

The Glow of Predestinative Power ... Ch.  4,   5

The Christian Pilgrimage Ch.   3,

Christ's Ineffable Peace ... Ch.    2  (extensive),   3, 

Massifs of Pure Splendour Ch.   7,

Jesus Christ Defaced ... Ch.    2;

Gratitude for His Glorious  Grace Ch.    2 

Outrageous Outages ... and the Courage of Christ Ch.    9;

The Majestic Might of the Merciful Messiah Ch.    5
(the extensive attestations in the Bible, of the love of God for the lost,
without attenuation of heart), with

Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah,
Chs.   8,   9);

Great Execrations ... Greater Grace Chs.    7,  9.

 

 

*6

This emphasis continues in the work, The Christian Pilgrimage, Ch. 3, from which the following reference, extended for this purpose, is  taken.

On the other hand, we are dealing just now with the love of God as in the Bible, and we find that this love is non-discriminatory in any sense of lacking the universality of its initial scope (John 3:16, Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2). It operates without desire for self-fulfilment, for as to God, He is NOT a constructed Being in need of fulfilment: all things are consummately present from the first in Him who depends on nothing. This He does, not as do those philosophers who use reason while denying it, trying to make nothing the god back of it all, in rampant irrationality, self-contradiction and inconsistency: but simply as lacking dependence on what is not Himself. All depends on Him; but He, eternal and the base of all that is made, owes allegiance to none and to nothing: He is who He is, as He declares, and in this as in the magnificence of His being, there is simply none like Him, nor even could there be!

HENCE we find in entire and perfect consistency that He neither frustrates His principles, nor yet sates His mere will by finding some, as if they were the very best, the cream, the most satisfying for His companionship (since companionship is sated in the first, for He lacks nothing, being in any case a Trinity from eternity). In such ways He does not seek gratification in human 'magnificence', magnitude or mystique, for all was His from the first, and He made it good but it has fallen, and His lack is null, time His mere creation. Moreover, as He declares,  love (I Cor. 13) DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN, is not an intemperate or grasping thing. It GIVES.

There is no X-factor which is congenial, desirable, closer to the heart of God by its very character,  mystical, strange, WHATEVER, which is at work in His selection, divine choice of His own, that He might know them, and they Him. He does not select blanks but people, and that is one item on which men think: Did He select for His will, as operative in a selfish pleasure, a self-satisfying incubus, what best met His desires ?

Categorically no. It is scarcely possible to think of anything further from the pure and holy love of God who yearns, laments, advises, surges, urges, insists, offers opportunities and more, as in Jeremiah, whose hearts pipes in lament, whose eyes weep whether in incarnation or empathetic-depiction, than this. It is NOT to be sure, the impure and imperfect will of man that makes the choice either, for God's love is the criterion for its non-self-interested grace. There is no scope for  deals, for deviousness, for enlightened self-interest; for in this kingdom,  to be crucified with Christ is a mode! It does not proceed as it did not begin...

The  love of God would have all, so that He is offered as a ransom, for  all (I John 2), not in dubious  detente, but in passionate totality as in John 3, a good  pleasure for absolute reconciliation towards for all whether in heaven or earth, as in Colossians 1:19ff.; and this is its lustre, to give, not to have solace  for what is in solitude. It is to have the world, not as a defunct and  defrauding system, but as a container for people, in His view, in His heart, in His mind in giving. To be sure the OFFER to all is not the PAYMENT for all: transfer is to account open, not closed. What is paid in is where the individual  is redeemed for ever (Romans 8:32), for then He is actually delivered up to bear those sins, then ransom paid.

For these then, ALL is there for them, even to heaven itself (Romans 8:32ff.). Payment is procurement and procurement is forever. Cynical or plausible substitutes, nominalists, are never gained; and lost to stasrt, they are lost to the end. There is indeed limited atonement, but this is not to be read backwards to a limited love; nor is love to be made into a self-satisfaction function; for it has restraint and is satisfied, though it may lament, with what purity obtains. Not for this is what stage management or mystery despite a rejecting will, might contrive to gain.

Therefore,  being competent in conclusion for some is not the same as lacking compassion for ALL, in the very theme, topic and phase of SALVATION in its outreach. That is HIS statement. Human maraudings to the contrary, or more or less are irrelevant and close to irresponsible. Love is restrained, and yields like David with Absolam, with mournings for the lost, but will not descend to subterfuge, force, mystical or other, while prevenience, foreknowledge is guarantee of love's fulfilment in its own  majestic purity, toward all, though many lack all resonance, even in eternity, even before the  fall, even  as known to God before all.

He neither shanghais onto His ship, by operations outside consciousness, to gain a crew, nor operates in any other way than in that total, absolute, giving-only love which has the good of its object in view to the uttermost, and indeed of the whole world which He did not come to judge, but to save, and it is in this pure and holy wonder of concern for His creation that He makes new creations, and nothing less.

This is the nature of God; but it is ALSO the nature that He seeks for man to receive, and receiving illustrate in a life of joy and fulness, these not sought but gained in the truth, since the truth is that God is filled with these things, and empties them out to man with zealous attention, as love does with what it has. Infinite, he never lacks; love, He does not cease to give; pure, He does not cast pearls before swine, but yet seeks with a tenderness of solicitude which is its own witness.

What then do we read later in John 3, for example in verse 16 ? God SO loved the world that He GAVE His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, so that whosoever believes in Him should NOT perish but HAVE everlasting life.

Let us focus this, for some have become confused, astray. The word of God however is clear to the uttermost (cf. Proverbs 8:8).

Thus God so loved the world

(not a segment of the world, as if to say, God so loved a segment of the world, that if any part of this segment of the object-state, should believe in Him, He would on that condition act to save that segment of a segment).

The case is far removed from this. The divine speech here is declarative, enunciating a generality of kind between GOD on the one hand, and the creation, this WORLD on the other; and it is the BODY, the whole, the thing made,  which includes its parts, towards which His own love is directed.

However, this love is not a mandatory thing. You do not have to respond to it. It may grieve Him sadly FOR YOUR SAKE if you reject its appeals, exhortations; but it does not alter His purity. Heaven is populated in liberty, not in compulsion.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is (II Cor. 3:17), THERE is liberty. 

Nor is it contrivance, as if people made in God's own divine image, could be hoodwinked, manipulated or manhandled (God-handling) into acquiescence; for love is not of this sort, so that Christ could WEEP for Jerusalem (Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff.) at the same time as enunciating the horrible devastation this rejection would OBJECTIVELY cost it, since the ONLY way out of their sin, being rejected, the only result could be to PAY for it!

Justice never takes a vacation in the Lord; it is mercy which interrupts it, not in unseemly discourse, but in divine love meeting the cost and so keeping holiness in place, and wonder in its orbit about the creation. Such is the teaching of John 3 here.

The WORLD is the object of this love, so that IF anyone in it should believe, then to that one, surrounded as it were, in a magnetic field of divine love, there would be salvation, with eternal life in train. Just as Israel was the object of divine love (as in Ezekiel 33:11), so that AS I LIVE, the Lord declared, I HAVE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED, this being an ultimate divine reality, but that HE SHOULD TURN FROM HIS EVIL WAY: so now was it with the world!

God had predicted this new amplitude of immediate application in such sites as Jeremiah 16:19, Isaiah 49:6, 42:6, and now, in Christ's day on earth,  it had come to pass. Moreover the PARALLEL in Jonah, on mission to the Gentiles as we read in the book of that name, is seen in Jonah 4, where God REMONSTRATES with Jonah at the hardness of heart which he displayed in not caring adequately, indeed passionately and hopefully to the uttermost, in not sharing with the Lord His passion for compassion. It was through this that He delighted not to destroy Nineveh, which had had the bans put on it, with NO exemption, except of course, the removal of the cause! How that ? ONLY BY REPENTANCE and seeking the Lord: this they did. God was swift to turn from the otherwise inalienable purpose, brought for so long by so much on that wicked city.

Since God is merciful to the uttermost, the cause is readily removed in repentance, for man coming to receive the gift of God, NEED NOT PAY (Isaiah 55, I Peter 1:18ff.). Indeed, if he tries to pay, he is outside it altogether (Romans 10, 3). That is how this very principle is exceedingly clearly stated in Colossians 1, that He would that ALL in heaven or in earth, ALL should be reconciled, as in I Tim. 2.

These things being so, and the parallel with Israel of old being express and explicit (John 3:14-15), we find this intense stress on INDIVIDUALITY, this "whosoever", which is paralleled in the negative by His statement of His own divine purpose, namely this, that God did not send His Son in order that He might condemn the world, but that the world by Him might be saved (John 3:17). THAT is the reason why it is the case that whosoever calls should be saved: FOR ... THIS is His will, that working individually with the locus and focus the world, He might save any, with the negative being by desire excluded to the uttermost, without being removed from existence, since mercy is so often despised.

 

THE SANDWICH

(for the double-decker see Appendix below)

What then is to be found in this word of God ?

¨    The object - the world.

¨    The motivating power - such love.

¨    The negation - NOT to condemn.

As E. J. Young so well pointed out, the negative is often necessary or at least most useful, in removing possible misinterpretations. It is not "all positive" but balanced in clarity between affirmation and negation!

¨    The affirmation - THAT the world might be saved.

¨    The explanation - failure to believe. It is emphatically NOT God blockading the world, one which in fact He SOUGHT. No, not that, for this is His stated purpose for the world, that it should be saved, and that by believing, so that eternal life becomes the consequence.

The thrust is salvation, and such is the desire for the stated body, the world, out of which individuals are envisaged as being brought on a belief-despite-sin basis, and others are removed on an unbelief-despite-love basis.

¨    The result (John 3:19) - The preference of man for his own evil works as a motif, man is seen PREFERRING darkness to light; but much more than that. What of the world then ? The many in it are  witnessed as having a preference, an inordinate and inveterate one,  for their OWN darkness, over the DIVINE light, which is exhibited not only in word, but in a love which PAYS utterly, personally and in vast humiliation, attesting its savour for the object, the world. The world alas ? This is seen as intent on the whole, and as a whole, on treating this love in all its truth,  with distaste. HENCE there is a penalty for this result. THIS is the ground of it; it results; it is consequential, derivative, in the very face of contrary divine desire, provision of contrary dynamic and performance of contradictory feats.

¨   The penalty (John 3:36) - The wrath of God broods over them, looms, dooms. They are intractable not because God did not love, but despite His so loving; not because He did not work, but despite His work, yes despite even His objectives: for the world is set on refusing grace, pardon, power and liberty, and this condemnation of those so preferring comes from the very MIND and CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE of God Himself (Romans 8:29).

¨   As noted, for all this, the PARALLEL is the divine chat to Jonah (Ch. 4), the Lord not at all free of distaste for that prophet's desire to have some kind of satisfaction in destruction of the vagrant city. To be sure, this was not only eminently deserved for Nineveh, but brimming over into immediate action. However, such devastation was for the time quelled in mercy, because of the city's repentant frame of mind. The prophet was troubled because the curse had not come. Not so is it with God, however, who roundly upbraided and scolded Jonah.

What is the good of having all kinds of godly love for ALL if  the results are distasteful UNLESS they come! Even though Jonah was aggrieved, God not only was of a different mind, but wholehearted so, pointing out to the prophet the cost to man, to cattle, to children if the judgment had come. Was it not delightful that it now could be removed! Sadly, it was not for ever, though the deliverance was for well over a century! The city fell further as time showed its passions and lusts, religious, social and military.

The point here is this: that in this case we see in a dramatic and serial form, the operation of the mercy of God in vast preference toward saving ALL of a pagan city, at the least opportunity in accord with His mercy, truth and compassion.

SIN was the topic of trouble, REPENTANCE toward the Lord, the result for relief.

¨   The proposition - is seen as also noted in Colossians 1:19ff., in entire certainty and indeed drama of categorical pronouncement. GOD WOULD LIKE ALL TO BE RECONCILED, WHETHER IN HEAVEN  OR ON EARTH, in the light of the cross of His payment, and the the glory of the incarnation towards this end. What is the use of denying the One who tells it as it is! The tendency of man to psychiatrise God, or if you will, tele-psychiatrise Him in aspiration, as if to tell of God what he does not even know of his own neighbour, is both ludicrous and common. It is however never possibly true. God is as He is, and is not subject to declaration from other hearts, even created ones indeed, who propose for Him what His plans and purposes may be. While His divine nature is clear (Romans 1:17ff.), His divine plans are HIS OWN. Face it: GOD WOULD HAVE ALL TO BE RECONCILED! Theologies that teach of God otherwise in defiance of this,  are as nothing, mere impudence and imprudence of flesh.

¨   The reflection - If God so loved, and fought the evil and wrought the good so that even the LEAST of men might join the blessedness of God, since the payment to cover is utter and entire, correlatively with the love and passion of God who omits NOTHING from His love and presence and purchase payment (Hebrews 5, 9-10, with 2:3ff.), then ought we to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Yes the family of God should be loved in intensity as brothers and sisters under ONE OPERATIVE FATHER of purity and light;  the very enemies, with His action in praying, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing!" become an opportunity for love, as a criterion for kindly forgiveness on our part.

Nothing is omitted. In these combined features there is no room for outrageous surmisings, or disruptive occasions.

Nothing could be further from this scripture than any thought of some mystery about the love of God, concerning the sublime splendour of its scope in the ambit of salvation, its zeal, its overview of this entire world, its seeking, so that its selection of His people is not through its demise or deficiency. On the contrary, its limitation as it surges to victory is through but one carefully CITED cause. What is this stated cause of rejection and judgment among men from the Lord ? It is this: it lies in evil and definable OPPOSITION to His wishes, namely the discerning and captious PREFERENCE to the contrary. THOUGH HE so loved, MEN so DISMISSED. (Refer to Appendix and to  *3 below.)

He does not make His mind so plain in all universality, in order to pretend that the blame for non-coming is differentially from this publication of His will, to be found in His own lack of coverage; far to the contrary, it is to be found, the light having come, in preference for darkness (cf. John 15:21-23 where it is obvious with dazzling emphasis). In fact,  that divine and impassioned coverage in the realm of world on the part of God, is already shown to the very point that single transfers from this world into His KINGDOM are expressly provided for as the outcome of His terrestrial liberality and the desire which moved in His program.

On the negative side,  non-coming is set at variance with such liberality, not as a defect, deficiency or lag, a lack or a negative within the purported positive of the One divine, but entirely to the contrary. It specifically and specified as being wrought on the part of the ones so significantly, so strenuously, so expensively, so passionately sought. They lagged in the face of deliverance; they withheld in the face of divine coming; they were averse and even perverse in betrayal of His Creator's love; and it is of them that His life, so placarded for the world, is not received.

Hence they are responsible, not merely for their sin, but for its retention when its dismissal was expressly divinely sought, with payment available most ample, with purity most intense, with practicalities most obvious. Indeed, FOR God did NOT send for condemnation but for SALVATION. That is what He says. To contradict Him, it is vile, as it is knowingly to say or even imply.

 

But what is it like ? Consider such a word as this, as if chattily to redefine the divine declaration.

'But ah yes! we know, WE know! REALLY, now, you did not send for the salvation of whosoever would come, for you secretly, in mysterious circumstances, did not even WANT their salvation: if you did, you would have taken them;  and the whosoevers were, quite apart from what might have been, most elaborately avoided in practice as simply not in your purvey; and this for all your protestation, is simply your own love-defective or at least love-avoiding fiat.'

Not so! Not at all so: what impudence is this that would erode and corrode the love of God with gratuitous invasions of His word, and evasions of His declarations...

 However blind some may have become, to arrest the word of God in its direct and repeated universal statements, and negativing of the contrary, to make it a prisoner of some more aristocratic mould, this is both an express contradiction of God (who does know His own love), and a denudation, like soil erosion, of His fertile will. My desire, He is saying, is as stated for the world so that any may come; FOR I did not send to condemn but to save (John 3:16-17). Such a proposition, then, as italicised above, drop it! Its tenor as well as its words is wholly averse to what is found written. What then is being said of the Saviour ?

Coming to condemn, to do a double work, to save AND to condemn, by a selective shielding or omission from such love as this! False! To the contrary, He is saying in effect, in John 3:17, to ANY SUCH proposition: HE DID NOT DO SO. This is alien to fact. The purpose was ONE, not two. The purpose was NOT to condemn. It was to save. So is it written; and the residual condemnation where unbelief occurs in the face of the light, this is contradistinct from the first great loving motif and motivation: as a purpose of His coming, what then ? It is SOVEREIGNLY rejected. THIS, it is sovereignty! and it is HIS.

The thrust then has this theme: That, condemnation, is NOT AT ALL what He sought. YOUR desire, however, the challenge is to unbelievers, that is to stifle this thing, and in that (as in John 15:21-23), you bring on a judgment in the face of this love which makes your position THEREFORE irremediable, even by love. It is the love from which you turn: intent on your other occupations. Wrath THEREFORE abides on you. God is explicit: the application of the thrust of the love which sent Christ, so that all believers should not perish. is that this was NOT to condemn, but to save the world.

This exposition of the nature of the action in 3:16, to be found in 3:17 defies dalliance with contrary consideration, such as a two-fold purpose, thrust and intention, to save some and implement a negation for others:  the motivation and the actualisation differ; and though this was foreknown, the motivation is known, now as always, by the word of God: both as to what it was, and what it was not. The negative aspect did not, repeat not, form part of it!

Such is the flow of the argumentation.

 

APPLYING THE LOVE OF GOD IN THE LIFE OF MAN

Of course, as to God,  it is in HIS MIND, not in the mind of man that this matter is resolved, and in HIS KNOWLEDGE, not that of man; but the principles are purely, passionately and pervasively, categorically and repetitively stated. How often must they be stated before they will be believed ? But believed or not, they are there; and this is our current interest. THIS love is that which solves the problems of the world.

Why ? Because it is non-discriminatory, not tied to prejudice or alien segmentalisation in its outgoing thrust as in Colossians 1; but discriminating, in the sense of knowing the truth, aware of what is what. It is what it is,  and not its opposite; it is what it is declared to be, and not some invention. Those who invent  love, are unlovely in the process, dysfunctional in the illusion; but those who find it, find what it is; and in the Lord, it is what it is stated to be, and stated to be what it is. It verifies itself in word as in deed.

Applied as it is, it is functional, favourable to man, strengthening to his development, contrary to his wilfulness, wise in truth and beneficial in interplay among those who have it, know it and so show it. It is as averse to manipulation and imagination as love always is; and as useless as is such misconception amongst mankind,  so much the more is it with the love of God.

It satisfies the mind, anoints the soul, enlivens the Spirit, and is like the very expression on the divine face, seeking with understanding, and among those who receive Him, regaling with the relish of His loveliness, the harmony of His peace, the reality of His truth. As a thirsty horse, climbing uphill on a sweltering day finds its trough, relaxes, surges to the cool refreshment, enjoys its savour, so does the one who loves God rejoice in His presence. The Song of Solomon is its marital symbolism, the life of Hosea its pictorial depiction, the work of Christ its historical enactment, building forever its structure in the visible, for the spirit of man.

That love of God ? It is pure, determined on justice for all. It is compassionate, willing to go to any lengths short of evil, for any, even to bearing many evils, and breaking them. It is filled with mercy, so that our efforts have no ground for vying and emulation: in mercy it acts, and only by mercy are any ever received through its portals. It is to be found active in the place of pardon, so that like a hospital accepting someone about to die, so does this kingdom accept those who come, not with boasting and self-fulfilment, but with humble and contrite hearts, MADE SO by the simple fact that their acceptance was based on entirely and precisely NOTHING that they had done  (Titus 3:3ff., Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-10). That is only part of it. It is also CONTRARY to merit, and cancelling demerit (II Corinthians 5:17ff.).

"THIS is the work of GOD, that you should believe in Him whom He has sent!"  said Christ (John 6:29), and again, said He: “All whom the Father gives Me, will come to Me!” (John 6:37)… and after that ? “and he who comes to me I will certainly not cast out!” , for indeed, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

This love of God is deep; its cause is profound; its objective lies in horror, which without intervention, only waits for its time to come:  I WOULD that they come and SO are not CONDEMNED; BUT they WOULD NOT, since their deeds are evil: this is the sequence in outline at our section of John  3.

IF thus they come, THEN the divine purpose is satisfied. It is not other than this, His purpose in coming; but this is on the contrary the exquisite passion of desire with the circumscription, not of His love, so poured out for the world, but of the WAY HOME which in His love, He paid so infinitely to procure. They may avoid it; there is no forced march to it. They may come. If they do not, then the comely beauty of His love does not deliver these self-imposed and self-inflicted detainees. He would have it so, but He WILL not abort love into carnality in order to satisfy some. He did not come to condemn but to save; but what He saves is the one who comes where He is to be found.

Thus is met the marvel of man's significance, the reality of love, the integrity of responsibility: for if God had NOT SO loved, and had merely specious, or profiteering, or satisfaction-securing desire, as if He needed something from man, then His very selection would be tainted in its assessment; but God is light. No spurious unspirituality lurks in Him.

Therefore the only possible way in which fallen man can live in an evil world, without the removal of the same to satisfy the principles of God's own holy perfection, without impugning His impenetrably pure character, is for Him remaining free from seeking the allurements of self-satisfaction, to have the illimitable facility to be  loving indeed, thus making man responsible indeed, and history meaningful indeed in its testing, where love is, and liberty proceeds through His mercy and grace.

This, in turn, is precisely what is here found, in the word of God,  most clearly. HE SO LOVES, that He gives. Our gain is His desire.  His loss is His method. Our selection is assuredly not for merit or for some unknown X-factor, for He foreknows something, not nothing: it is, as He states, within this bound, that He would have all, but despite such love, will not shove,  secure intemperately, but instead STATES the human will as the reason for the abortion of a love so profound, one set in the  heart of man, made in His own image, ultimately and intimately free to roam, but open to love in the wisdom of God whose invention of liberty leaves all of man's posturings and programmings as a pebble to a planet.

So is the word of God the solvent for riddles, the dismissal of disingenuous quibbles against the Lord, and majestic in its resolution which nothing else can or does supply. Firstly,  ONLY this loving, .omniscient God CAN provide this logical need; and secondly, here is the testimony of truth on  all sides*3A, transcendent, applicable, testable, verified in all other ways. Praise God then for His grace and  glory.  It is for this man instinctively yearns, and from this he tragically so turns; but not  always, for there is a remnant of grace found!

Thus is met the marvel of man's significance, the reality of love, the integrity of responsibility: for if God had NOT SO loved, and had merely specious, or profiteering, or satisfaction-securing desire, as if He needed something from man, then His very selection would be tainted in its assessment: but God is light. No spurious unspirituality lurks in Him. Therefore the only possible way in which fallen man can live in an evil world, without the removal of the same to satisfy the principles of God's own holy perfection, without impugning His impenetrably pure character, is for Him remaining free from seeking the allurements of self-satisfaction, to have the illimitable facility to be  loving indeed, thus making man responsible indeed, and history meaningful indeed in its testing, where love is, and liberty proceeds through His mercy and grace. This, in turn, is precisely what is here found, in the word of God,  most clearly. HE SO LOVES, that He gives. Our gain is His desire.  His loss is His method.

So is the word of God the solvent for riddles, the dismissal of disingenuous quibbles against the Lord, and majestic in its resolution which nothing else can or does supply. Firstly,  ONLY this loving God CAN provide this logical need; and secondly, here is the testimony of truth on  all sides*3A, transcendent, applicable, testable, verified in all other ways. Praise God then for His grace and  glory.  It is for this man instinctively yearns, and from this he tragically so turns; but not  always, for there is a remnant of grace found!

 

As noted in Dizzy Dashes ... Ch. 6:

Love does not impel itself where it is detested in spirit, to the ultimate; nor does it enforce itself where reciprocity is eternally excluded; nor does force make a nest for itself with robots, selected indifferently to what they are. God did not select blanks, but people. It is people whom He foreknew. Where the relevance of human preference at the final and God-discerned point is excluded, then scripture is excluded with it, since this is the stated CRITERION of exclusion. Inoperable is the human will in sin at this divine level; but it is not irrelevant to God at HIS level. Hence His citations, exhortations, lamentations and dissertations in accord with these (cf. Psalm 106, Deuteronomy 32).

It is not the character of the non-elect which deters divine salvation, nor the knowledge nor the power nor the merit; for all these things would preclude them by events over which they may have no control, and there is neither test nor hope, nor scope nor place for love in a systematic manner which would make a mockery of the divine invitations, assertions, asseverations and tender entreaties, as if He were either insincere or not sovereign, mouthing what is irrelevant and even grossly unseemly. It is scripturally, with that magnificent and unfailing precision and consistency which is found there as in no other word, the PREFERENCE of man which, being divinely assessed, is in the independence realm and that consignable to condemnation.

 

*7

There is a caution worth pondering a this phase,
 to be found in Dizzy Dashes ... and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 6. Here, below, there is some addition to this, and slight revision of it.

 

THE CAUTION

It remains only to differentiate emphatically the case of separation, so that you are on the right side of the range and not just a nominal sunshine side, while walking in the bleak neon mistiness of the other, on the one hand, and the stringency of judgmentalism, on the other.

It is indeed unfortunate, though most readily understandable, that those who are appalled at this very confusion on the part of many, and who desire reform and remedy most justly, should in the excess of zeal be at times inclined to summarily judge this person or that - even Wesley has been subjected to such arrancy of aristocratic seeming disdain (cf. Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Chs.  8-10 for context).

Yet it was as Bishop J.C. Ryle points out in his Lecture on George Whitefield ("New Birth" volume), none other than Wesley concerning whom Whitefield had made a very special request. This, says Bishop Ryle, was made shortly before his death, when he asked that Wesley be the one to preach the sermon at his funeral! Indeed, Ryle declares this, "as Calvin said of Luther, so Whitefield was resolved to think of Wesley. Differences apart, he was ‘determined to know him only as a good servant of Jesus Christ’.”

Doubtless this is more appearance than reality, in at least some cases; but some tempestuous judgments have at times a somewhat sulphurous feel. It is essential that we realise that there is a place for grace and a place for truth, and that the ideal and possible solution is that they as one operate in the heart of man who, being careful to be meek, knowing that in the times of turmoil especially one should seek meekness, seek righteousness (Zephaniah 2:3) ... watches his words, and the churning or burning which may come to his spirit with care.   This Paul shows in his own case in I Corinthians 4:3-5, while Zephaniah declares: .

"Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have wrought his judgment;
seek righteousness, seek meekness:
it may be you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger."

The ocean makes great blow-holes well into the land, in places, so that its surgings can be heard, and even its liquid thrusts and explosive moments may be perceived rising perhaps to sight or even thrusting into the upper air, as if the excess of violence were uncontained. It is so with man; there is always the danger that the upthrust of exasperation or the onset of Don Quixote charges may spoil what is good, by its very untrained exuberance; just as the opposite error is not hard to find, where the sheer desire for placidity leads to the pollutions of the most notorious kind being left to slaughter the spiritual atmosphere, or those within it, if it were possible.

Thus when one is dealing with a sect, where for centuries the evils have been shown by careful work in contrasting the scriptures, there is a system and it is readily dismissed as mere originality masquerading as biblical. It is good to be original in the place where the sun shines, where the very earth is healthy; but on the dark side, when the issues are saying things in God's name for yourself, or in your name for God, or some infelicitous combination, then originality becomes just one more forgery in the cheque book attributed to God, and one more devious deviation from righteousness. You can't write God's cheques for Him, though you bluster like a cyclone, bellow like a bull or croak incessantly like a frog.

When however one comes to any given 'member' of a sect, one has to be a little more careful:  in case on the one hand, one may rescue, or as Jude puts it, "save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 23), or else on the other, ignore a differentiation which has moved into the fallen soul concerned, and so fail to be just. PRINCIPLES and SYSTEMS are one thing, and with these there is a relative simplicity in condemnation from the comparison with scripture, if it is decisively negative; but with people there is room for care.

Thus some say one thing in one place, and deny it in another, as appears to have been the case even, to go to an extreme, with Wesley (cf. Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Chs. -  9, in the context of Ch. 10). To 'send these to hell' as some may wish to do, becomes then an exercise in JUDGMENT, which is forbidden (cf. Matthew 7), a derogation of the dignity of deity by rough-housing His creation, and knowing too much for meekness, in failing to differentiate between confusion and rebellion. Assuredly in any foolish statement there is sin; but sin and hell are not identical.

It was not least for some such reason as this that the author, when a Minister in the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, in 1966, did not with the Session of St Ninian's PC, directly deal with the heresy-maker in the resurrection case, that being left as a resultant matter; but rather with the ISSUE and the PRINCIPLE and the DOCTRINE. The first thing was to cleanse the church from the total departure from the faith which their ambivalence on the resurrection of the body of Christ Jesus the Lord, entailed.

A failure to assert this in a church is conspicuously a denial of the faith, for it was a central affirmation by a central apostle on a pivotal occasion in the very institution of the Christian Church as such (Acts 2:23-32). It was the practical difference between rotting and rising, between fulfilling scripture and not doing so, between triumph and disaster, between being shown a monstrous and egotistical liar and a marvellous and authentic Messiah. Such things were pointed out in the paper giving the grounds for this author’s dissent from the infamous resurrection statement made by the Assembly in 1996, one formally recorded by specific request.  What then was the issue ?

It was the distinction between

a messy messiah and  THE MESSIAH, the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26).

It involved

the power

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of God to speak truth,
 

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of the Christ to do it, Him who could never be defeated in healing or verbal contest,
so that for this very reason it became necessary for the pragmatists to kill Him,
lest all the world should follow Him and imperil their power and position, survival
and strength (John 11:49ff.), after He had raised the body of Lazarus from the dead;
 

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of Father and Son to accomplish what was foretold (cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25);
 

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of the disciples to attest truth,
 

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of thousands of the populace to accredit truth by evidence
publicly known for so long concerning the works and words of Christ, 

and by contrast, the lack of power on the part of the Lord's enemies, even in Jerusalem,
to discredit it as a tiresome pretence (Acts 2), which should have been simplicity itself if it were so,
or to do so even when using force (Acts 4-5),
as in imprisoning apostles or more drastically yet,
by killing them (Acts 12),
so great was the defeat of the murdering officials, 
so vast their fraud, and so undeniable the power of the Lord to heal,
to raise the dead, and Himself
to be raised, unavailable for inspection, even with guards present,
even with boulder and tomb,
even with the fear of Caesar to impel them to security;

 

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of the Lord to perform to the day what He foretold
(Matthew 16:21 cf. SMR
Ch. 6, I Peter 1:11)
as He consistently did and does over millenia,

 

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and of the risen Christ to be investigated by doubters (John 20:19ff.),
even to the point of poking and prodding.

It meant a denial

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of the assured results of scientific method applied to the data (cf. SMR pp. 936ff.),
 

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of the declaration of God from a millenium before, carried out with no slightest testimony of error,
with no glint of success for His detractors, a denial by a sort of negative faith which refuses evidence,
ignoring it as if it meant nothing, though it was more logically powerful than any atomic bomb,
 

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of the continual fulfilment of every last prophecy concerning the Christ, when in the flesh,
in a milieu
when any ONE failure would instantly be pounced on by His deadly detractors (Luke 11:52ff.),
so indisputably ending His mission as Messiah, whereas the opposite was the case,
and only murder appeared adequate, which therefore was the formal and nominal crime adopted.

It implies an assault on the Bible, which never in any point yields over the millenia to criticism, but mocks in every Age, scourging the pompous pride of its assailants with facts and reason, with developments and fulfilments to the precision of jot and tittle, while they dream dreams which lack as much relationship to any factual arena as dreams do; and it bespeaks a specious and gratuitous affront to the Lord in the pivotal reality of history at the Cross. For a 'church' to do this, unchurched it. But what of this anti-resurrection regime, and what of its place ?

It thereby has mocked whether by intention or distraction,  not only the central provision of God  to procure pardon but to destroy death (cf. Hebrews 2:14, II Timothy 1:10); and that,  not some dream of it, but the very thing itself which stings (I Corinthians 15), in a divine deliverance wrought by rising in the third day with the very thing interred,  as Paul declares (I Cor. 15:1-4). Indeed, it travesties gratuitously and vacuously His power to destroy with death itself, the enemy of life, and the deserved terminus for sin,  that infernal spirit, the devil,  who had the power of it: and so to devastate it categorically. This Christ wrought by justice, suffering and ransom, thus delivering  from the due results of dire justice which none could deny (Matthew 20:28, Psalm 49, Hosea 13:14), in an only action, the unquenchable exhibit, following the word of the eternal God, our Maker.

It was, after all, merely the summit of many such miraculous actions wrought before all, many in incurable diseases, and some in death, brought to health or life before the eyes of all, just as the corpse of Christ was available on the third day and thereafter, for none to see, seeing it did not exist.

Thus as in so many areas and arenas, unbelief forges dreams, and without evidence, seeks to arrest anew the mighty works of God; but one might as well arrest the dawn, for it declares itself.

Here then was the cardinal difference between faith and unbelief, between the One who categorically met a doubt by requesting the poking of finger into His side to Thomas (John 20), and imagination making new gods, new christs and new gospels.

As to that challenge of Jesus Christ amid His disciples,  that practical, that pragmatic, you could almost say that prying test: it became the occasion for the principle of faith which Christ then enunciated (John 20:27-29). The demonstration of His bodily presence was the occasion, this very thing, the time and the event for Thomas to be moved to declare of Christ (to follow the Greek literally), "the Lord of me and the God of me".

It was in terms of this very direct and physical thing that Christ went on to make His classic declaration. It was this:  that Thomas believed on seeing, but blessed were they who would believe without such seeing as this; and believe what ? Believe what Thomas stumbled at, with the precise physical emphasis Thomas made as a criterion of test, namely POKING the FINGER into the wound and demonstrating that the resurrection was, so far from poetry or confusion, a physiological fact!

The NZ Assembly of 1966 however was in the grip of disbelief, wandered from the Bible, from history, from reason, from evidence, from its basis, from the Lord, and discounted the point as having any significance. It was a privilege to expose it, and on its very floor at that very meeting,  publicly and vocally to dissent from it, requiring that this dissent be recorded,  and to condemn its follies, even though in the  end, the cost was the pastorate, who nevertheless were given every opportunity to respond.

Alas, in the PC of NZ then, who cared about the body in that collapse of a church! By the testimony of the REGISTERED DISSENT at least, there was one, one who cared enough to direct from a biblical basis the eyes of the people to the folly of their leadership on this occasion. This will remain for ever a reality which can be denied only by lie, just as the resurrection is subjectible only by the same method.

Calling 'resurrection' what ignored the body was mere pap. Indeed, if this ambivalence were to stand, the Church in New Zealand would have fallen; it did, and that followed. That is why one left it after showing these things; and that is one reason why one went so far as to denounce them, both in the presentation of the Overture in the 1966 Assembly, and in the 17,000 or so word exposition of their infamous betrayal of the biblical Christian faith, which according to Church law both could be and was deposited with them as a testimonial. That is why the author had no option but to shake off the dust of his shoes on this unadmirable collusion with unbelief, irrationality and ecclesiastical autonomy before the Lord who requires faith as a firstling for the dawn of operational day (cf. Matthew 28:19-20, John 8:24).

New christs would be constructed, Christ indicated (Matthew 24:24), false and fraudulent,  and assuredly this is one, this platonic christ, joint creation of philosophy and unbelief.  It is not he, this constructed doll, however, who saves (cf. II Cor. 11); and one can but read the denunciation of Paul of such new christs, gospels or different spirits!

One can see that this does not read like a comment on a pleasant Sunday afternoon concert. That is so. The PRINCIPLE and the DOCTRINE and the ISSUE are categorical, and the CORPORATE CONSEQUENCE was clear. There can be a subsequent repentance as with Peter when he betrayed Christ, but one has not heard of it. You do not announce repentance of a rebellion by insipidity and ambiguity. Talking in riddles is no denial of a denial, and repentance does not appear in conundrums but with clarity!

As to the question of any given member of the muted Assembly (as far as one knows, one's vote was the only disclaimer to the Resurrection Statement, which of course remained inherent in any other Assembly vote concerning the matter, for the one who made it), one would not care in the least to make a judgment. How would one know whether some one was so disgusted with himself that he resigned later, or sought action in the next year, or moved to another denomination ? News of it, however, is hard to find.

Thus, there are personal matters which the wise do not dabble with, lest they presume, and fail to recognise Paul's injunction to judge nothing before the time (I Corinthians 4). That of course does not exempt clear and categorical proclamations, made against what both teaches contrary to basic scriptural requirements (as distinct from inept ramblings that lack insight and clarity), from due judgment; nor does it prevent the consequences from being exposed equally categorically; for wandering into new christs while affirming the One who did it, is not only misleading, confused and faithless. It is worse: fictional innovation mocking at history and making truth irrelevant, even while using the name of Him who declared, when in open test by ferociously pugnacious opponents (cf. Luke 11:53-54) where it could not be refuted, "I AM ...THE TRUTH!" (John 14:6).

Thus neither does any such consideration make it improper for a godly church to exclude from its membership those who proceed to insist on such diverse teaching (Romans 16:17). Yet it does even here, make for some care, lest any be confused, and ready to receive when approached.

It is easy for fools to rush in where angels fail to tread; just as it is simple for inept failure to tread where at last, one must, if one is to be faithful.

How does one discern the difference ? That too is found in principle, though the work of the Lord, in His Spirit, can move a people to find the way. Thus there should always be charity, clarity, helpfulness, hope, there should not be arrogant arguments about words, mere sites for the insertion of prejudice and preferred philosophy (cf. I Timothy 6:4) as one found on occasion even in Westminster Seminary (cf.  Questions and Answers Ch. 7). One should not 'seize on' some inadvertence or over-statement from mere fuming emotion, for although this is sin, it must be sure if judgment enters in for a church body, that it is not a legalistic parade, that is in question. Rather should the object be, if possible,  the deliverance,  even of one whose very garment one may find stifling (Jude 23ff.).

One should patently realise that JUST AS it is God who chooses in love, SO in love He would have all to repent (Colossians 1:19ff.) categorically, and in selecting sovereignly by no means ignores the realities of what He seeks or commands, nor departs from His repeated asseverations, intimations and declarations of a love which stops at nothing, not even the cross, except for the violation of its own purity*3, in calling that love which is in fact rather of the nature of shove (cf. Isaiah 48:17ff., Luke 19:42ff.). One must realise by no means less, that when the diversity in man, through misapplied human will, is overcome in Christ, so that harmony with God the Creator is now meaningfully obtained through the Cross that cancels and the resurrection which answers to the pure and undiluted power of God: then there is a freedom in unity and an individuality in grace which makes for genuine friendship, and a love for man which coming from the Almighty's own heart, seeks to deliver rather than co-suppurate in the wilds of the torment of frozen spirit, heated mind and stricken soul.

How glorious is this liberty, reality, this becalming of the storms, this restoration of the norms, when these are no more enormities, as in this world and that increasingly so, but the very pith of a love which is as deep as individuality, as real as personality but yet, not limited to its pollutions, profusions or follies, while seeing beyond appearance to reality, and in truth to the wonder of mutual love, both natural and free.

 

We all fail at times; and there is need to be helpful in case some one can be delivered, while at the same time bearing in mind the fate of lambs while wolfish teeth are just a little under sheep's clothing, the excess of wool perhaps covering the aperture sufficiently not to let the teeth be too visible.

Zeal, then, to cleanse is good; and so is meekness; and so is due care; and so is restraint; and so is self-control; and so is charity; and so is patience, and accuracy, and goodwill; and so is wise provision to protect the lambs from unduly woolly wolves, and so is obedience in the end to the categorical directives of the word of God, the Bible. Love does not chafe at truth, but ensures it is so.

In the end, there are modes and nodes, and the eventual outcome in such cases has to proceed, not too fast, not too slowly, but with deliberate care and conscious love such that one is hoping even in the surgery, for a better result, and desiring strongly that one may prove successful, not in some lawyer's parade, but in delivering the fallen while one may.

 

*8

See on this, Possess Your Possessions Vol. 6, Ch. 2.