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SUMS, SUMMITS and IN SUM
Adding Things Up, and Getting Things Down
Volition, Ultra-Volition: The Knowledge of God
WHOM HE FOREKNEW THESE HE PREDESTINED
Predestination is not the ultimate in finding out; it is the ultimate in fashioning results. The finale in finding out, it is as Romans 8 prescribes and attests, foreknowledge, and as Romans 9 refines it, one which is not historically defined, but rather implemented in history. The action is of God, based on HIS KNOWLEDGE, which being in advance of all creation, pre-temporal, is limited by nothing either of man's psychic torments, clogged capacities or sinful obfuscations. God, He knows; and He foreknows. It is in logical sequence, only THEN that the predestination comes.
In it are the conferments of grace made known; just as from His heart, made definitive in Christ in His incarnation from eternity to temporality, is made known His motivation, whether in knowledge or activation. It is love, which rejoices in the truth (I John 4:7ff., I Corinthians 13, John 3:16-19*1). In this love, He exposes the fact that even though He so loved the world that at infinite cost to Himself, He made salvation available to it as one whole, as also in I Timothy 2 and Colossians 1:19ff., yet He does not cut it up, is not engaged in sweeping into souls as Hitler did into Russia, or seeping like the socialist propagandists, neither in experimenting or slaying or extinguishing or seeking to make robot projections out of people, directly or indirectly, as in that totalitarian swagger of the Nazi; nor as in the crypto-parallel of Stalin.
There is an exclusion zone, that He does not batter down, not for this love, the entrant so that it might be undivinely placed. Yet love does have its outcome, result, conferment, arrival zone, where the ultimate in blighting barriers is discernible to deity, known to God, who foreknew all before it was. It is called preference for darkness on the part of man; so that in the divine equation, the love is unlimited, its point, salvation, is its target, but it recognises an exclusion in the face of these facts, namely human preference for darkness. Inoperable because of sin, the choice is not now even to the point, autonomous, yet it is for all that in the faithful integrity of God, as sure as if it were.
This exclusion zone, then, it is not generic, for then none would be saved, if our time were the measure (I Corinthians 2:14, Ephesians 4:17ff., 2:1ff.) adopted; and in this time, in the beautiful consistency and logical felicities of God, it is NOT the measure. Rather is it in the intimate ultimate, where God's own KNOWLEDGE anti-natal, pre-world is involved, that the matter is resolved, and this knowledge, being foreknowledge, is the biblical assertion for the beginning of the matter, and its effectual end, where the principles and character and nature and love of God is precisely as He has always shown it; for as to God, He always speaks the truth, as is only natural, since He IS the truth (John 14:6), and what contradicts Him is the lie.
What then, a man with his intricate systems and gracious grants of derivative life will outwit God; and man with his susceptibility to corruption will correct Him ? Let him who confronts the Lord and would justify himself in His presence answer for it (Job 40:2,8), and "would you annul My judgment that you might be justified"! Would the knowledge, objective and ultimate, of our minds and materials, design and destiny, in the face of the One who having all, in spirit and being, needs nothing, nor is this altered in whatever depth you may wish to proceed, since it is integral to His reality, being source for all, and dependent on none, would this graciously given wit become the assessor of its Maker ? Yet such is His grace that He even allows us to challenge (Isaiah 41,43,48), and encourages us to compare our own vapid and vain imaginations of power and prowess before Him who made us, with what He has said and DONE!
Thus, if one fails to trust Him, then it is a null work of a diseased mind, squalid soul or evacuated wit. But when one does so trust, then the principles which He has formulated (let us not make God a poor teacher, who having made us in His image cannot get across! or who calls it truth which is tedious substitute, and so is a liar, equipped by creation with desires other than His attainments, and so NOT GOD! (Titus 1:3). We are, after all, speaking of the God who is, not of the one who is not, but mere appeal by fraud, of non-gods of which there are plenty (cf. Deuteronomy 32:15-21).
If one simply trusts Him who is the truth, to speak it, and who made man in His image to tell it, when He speaks, then one finds that all He has said is in principle invariable, and it is developed in serenity, inculcated in tenderness, and at times confronts with realism inveterate. One has but to learn. The principles of that love toward all, even to the depths and the heights of salvation has been biblically attested many times; and it is effectual whether in time or eternity WHERE the decisions of GOD were made, in scrupulous carefulness, ensuring that what He stood by, was done, and how He states He loved, this being true, was how He loved, and how He seeks, is how He sought. He does not change. What Christ showed, God is. We need no professorial pundit to 'interpret'; for as He has spoken, so it is.
It is so expressed not only repeatedly in principle in the Bible, but in practice times without number, of which Proverbs 1 is a good example. What HE WOULD DO, would wish to do, moves to do, can readily be baulked at this final level; for in affairs of the heart, the essence is response. Yet at all times one must remember that the REASON why it can be baulked in the eternal arena of foreknowledge, and in essence results from the manner of His desired and performed construction of man, that he MAY so baulk. Indeed, so keen is the Lord to preserve the reality of love and manhood, that He insists on integrity, on the nature of love, for He is love, in His dealings so that even to tears, in human form, Christ showed His lament.
What then ? even if man so defiles his mind and spirit that he can no longer discern the good clearly, or the will of God without distortion, yet God, inveterate in love, has so acted before time that the realities are what are required, and there is neither distortion nor contortion. As it is, so it comes to be. NO ONE C AN POSSIBLY be lost who might be found; and the love of God is so great, that even in insults, He is not finally offended, and even amidst folly, He does not relent. It is not for ever; for if He persisted endlessly, the very spirit of man would fail (Isaiah 57:15-16). Yet its depth is plumbed, and the zeal of the Lord of hosts is fulfilled. THEN love is sated, for it does not desire to force.
There is on my present computer an option at times: do you want to let this and that happen, returning to the fray before turning it off, or do you want to FORCE it to close now NOW! No, one normally does not desire this; and it illustrates that force in the affairs of the heart is not a divine option, for He does not wish it so, and so laments instead of being lordly, like a pope, and is crucified, rather than give up man, rather than exploding a bomb as some do.
What then ? If it cannot be gained in ordinary temporal simplicity, as at Eden, then it can be gained in pre-temporal reality; and so gained, it is applied, and in the application, it is sovereign, as in the foreknowledge altogether beyond time, and in accord with truth, it is realised.
Let us then consider this matter in sum.
We are not in the field of speaking of HOW God knows; though it is possible to construct from His revelation what would express this in overall format, in order to ILLUSTRATE the realities He has exposed in His word. This is seen in Predestination and Freewill, Section 3, and there is also to be perceived what these wonders of the Lord have, their logical coherence, which nothing else can match, this being just one of the myriad attestations of the word of God, the Bible*2. Where philosophers fail, God succeeds; where they batter or butter the realities, to come down in this or that extreme, God simply announces the truth which is so harmonious in its holiness as to evoke wonder, as when one perceives a vast and spreading mountain chain, dappled with daintiness at the lower parts, and majestic in magnificent in the higher ones; except that it exceeds even this.
HOW God knows, this is a matter requiring infinite knowledge, which is His alone; but there are the principles of operation which He has revealed in this matter, and it is necessary to take cognisance of these altogether, and with NO additions, NO subtractions, whether for combat, convenience or collusion. Only then is their wonder discerned; for as He is faithful, so must His children be, when they examine His word, so that they might obtain instruction, and not to instruct!
God's own comprehensive comprehension is such that nothing in all that is not God, the all things that He made, whether it be given enablement for derivations, such as sin, or whether it be direct, can hide from Him in any way, manner or part. Nor could any barrier, height or depth baulk, block, deter or divert His power, light, His wit, knowledge and His wisdom (Hebrews 4:13, Colossians 2:9, Romans 11:33), just as nothing can apprehend His power or dispose or disperse it as if a captive, a deletion or a redirection (Isaiah 14:27, Psalm 15).
He does what He pleases in the heaven and in the earth, but what pleases Him is a good pleasure (Ephesians 1:9); for God is not only love (I John 4:7ff.), truth (John 14:6) but good without any iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4), alloy (James 1:17) or variation (Ezekiel 33:11): His is goodness (Psalm 23, 71); judgment to condemnation being contrary to desire (John 3:17), but according to truth: while mercyis comprehensive in outpouring (Titus 2-3) to this world, though capable of dismissal (Hebrews 10:29ff.). Let it be emphasised, that this not as if man were autonomous, nor yet as if he were a robot. Under the foreknowledge of God, reality is foreknown and rigorously implemented. Grace is its calibre, quality its insurmountable criterion, love its motivation, mercy its longing, and judgment its finale when love, being fulfilled, in the foreknowledge of God, beyond all considerations of time and temporality (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 9), lets the object of desire go with lamentation*3.
With grief and even lamentation, it goes, and when it does so go, then the reason for grief is the more apparent, for what looked for light, achieves darkness, and what spurned the light is now spurned, for there is no fraud in heaven (John 3:36). Love does not force, but at last is willing to relent, with a chasteness of purity which is one of the criteria of love that is not lust.
These things then are what are found in the Bible, in principle and practice; and let us continue the biblical depiction, the simple attestation of what is found in the Bible in the area of human will and divine election; and find further in a biblical deposition, what is delivered to us in this field.
In short, the power and divine nature of God are obvious (Romans 1:17ff., as shown for example in SMR); but His own modes of internality, are His own infinite affair. Yet WHAT He knows, and the application of His knowledge, being stated, must be carefully applied to human volition, from His word.
Thus as in SMR, Predestination and Freewill and more generally the HEXAD,
ON PREDESTINATION and
LIBERTY and NECESSITY,
RESPONSIBILITY, DUTY and CREATIVITY,
God deems the human will wholly responsible for His exclusion of any person from His kingdom and mercy, just as He is Himself wholly responsible for the application of this sovereignly determined datum. Just as the reality of salvation cannot be known autonomously by fallen man, so it is entirely known by autonomous God, for what it is, and this in entire isolation from desire, according to truth. His inveterate longing and correlative laments*4, in both Testaments, do nothing to inhibit truth, sway reality or make mercy subject to desire; but they do attest His heart toward all, so that He is indeed the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe (I Timothy 4:10), just as He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:4). The ground for this, says I Timothy 2:5, is the fact that there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself a ransom for all. John 3:16 gives the motivation, this the actuality.
It is as in I John 2:1ff., the case that His is a sacrifice on behalf of all, attesting the scope of His love by the extent of His offering, just as it was in the Old Testament when the offerings for Israel were made; for these by no means cleared the intemperate spiritual vagabond who in his heart was not with it (Deuteronomy 29:18ff.). By no means is there juridical cover for such; for the laying on the hands on the sacrificial lamb, for instance, is a personal affair in personal sacrifice.
Similarly, the extent of the public performance expressly is limited in APPLICATION. The limit lies not in the reality of the offer, but in the faith which receives it. Divine cheques are not written out to the unransomable, to the murky waters that resist the clean sweep of the cleansing torrents (as in Ezekiel 47); nor is there efficacy of any kind for those who ultimately prefer darkness, on whom the wrath of God broods (John 3:36), because of their divinely ascertained preference (John 3:19), which is the criterion in the end. Many pay the playful piper, who leads to destruction, such as world approval and its lien on the soul, salary keeping high, friends beaming approval, fallen church embraces with fervour, self-approval arising daily with the sun, a sense of power and propriety satisfaction with the soul, and so forth, on and on: but his music is farce, and his enticements merely the prelude to force.
As to God however, one deals with and indeed is dealt with by the Eternal Creator, whose heart is as stated, principles as pronounced, and whose ways do not change (Malachi 3:6, Habakkuk 3:6, Psalm 102, James1:17). It is GOD'S KNOWLEDGE beyond time, merit and desire, which is operative; and sovereignly does HE protect man from his weakness, so that by no means does any fail to find the Father through a technical oddity, a psychic aberration or a merely unfortunate intrusion. From this, in logical order, rather than mere chronological sequence, comes predestination and from that salvation, with justification and glory as Romans 8 affirms. In this, we find a ready understanding of John 15:22ff., for without at least the equivalent of seeing Christ and hearing Him, in whatever historical or predestinative mode, the sin that brings damnation cannot occur! IF I HAD NOT ... YOU WOULD HAVE NO SIN! (cf. Serenity not Serendipity ... Ch. 14).
What then ? When God so loves the world that He makes the supreme sacrifice available, there is in the substance of the gift, no more, short of ceasing to be God which would put all in hell, there being being neither truth nor mercy nor peace, but merely brazen reality, moving in its due forms, unemasculable justice. This would be impossible since God is beyond time, and it is a mere vehicle for manifestation (just as novelists cannot die in their works, being beyond them, in whatever manner their lives may subsist or exist)*5 ; and He knows what He is doing. Being alive, in an eternity which temporality cannot touch, He neither kills justice, nor adulterates love, but has a limited attainment, which in turn becomes a limited atonement. Great is His grief at this vast lost (Luke 19:41ff.), and great His joy at the finding of the lost (Luke 15:7); and indeed, great His purity of heart who, having the power to robotise the rebellious, does not so act. There is nothing meretricious about God, who characterises His love as seen in I Corinthians 13: it does not seek its own will, way, satisfaction, being other in kind. HIS love is not about getting but giving (Acts 20:35).
Man in His image, is made thus, that he might receive; and though he may and does defile himself, yet the reality of spirit in him remains, and God who made, and wrote before it happened, has on record who are His (Ephesians 1:4), so that any blotting out from the forms and formalities of man has no more effect than does the rushing of the wind over the roof tops, to reverse the reality; for as Paul declares, even he, an apostle, had power to correct but not to corrupt, according to truth and not against it (II Corinthians 13:8). Man may err; God does not. Rejoice then! Man may scourge and purge, and millions have died at the hands of false 'churches', in fact synagogues of Satan (Revelation 2:9,3:9, II Corinthians 11:1-13).
HIS LOVE DREW, HIS WISDOM KNEW
Thus in the operational field of His advent, this being statedly (John 3:17) NOT to judge, but that the world might be saved (part of the world is not the world, and it was not to part of the world that His love came when He SO loved, as also in Colossians 1:19ff., most emphatically): we find the knowledge of God. In this, expressed in the Bible, we find that it is not toward a segment of the world that He so comes, having so loved, that His desire extends, but to the world as an entity defined by what God made (John 1:1). At the outset in John, the scene moves from His own who did not receive Him (that shallow substitute for faith in the invention of intention), even to those not in this limited category and one expanding rather than constricting (John 1:12); for the adopting power of the gracious Lord came in effectual reality to as many as received Him. In this, there is an amplitude which cannot be suppressed, for it passes beyond form to fact.
It is correlative to His love. The love is to the world in John defined as what God made, and to man in it, in both segments, the people bearing His name, and those not so bearing it. It is towards a new grouping that its mandate extends into fulfilled mission, even to those who receive Him in this saving thrust. Like a surging waterfall in torrents of abundance, His grace surges into the world to find His own, not to judge, but in love to redeem, not to condemn, but rather to avoid it. The world is the target, and God never misses, and till love is consummated, there is no end; but when it is, then the end is come, whether to light or to darkness, at the eventual and final office of man, God releasing to hell if need be, only as it were, over the dead body of Christ: for there is no more! (Hebrews 10:29ff.)
Thus is the passionate and repetitive emphasis of Colossians 1:19ff. fulfilled. The burning yearning, the clean love, the passion for mercy in the Lord is not the same either as a cut-off of the same in conception, or as an expansion of it, without self-control. It is universal in extension, delimited in finding, and as so defined, directive in funding. Thus the drama of passion of Colossians 1:19ff., the desire of grandeur of conception of I Timothy 2 and the patient endurance of love of II Peter 3:9, like the ebullient thrust seen in Proverbs 1, the undying desire of Matthew 23:37, which yet faces the devastating results of its rejection with lament, that does not remove them, and the judicious oversight of the same as found in Luke19:42ff., admixed with the divine affirmations of Ezekiel 33:11 and the protestations of Jeremiah 13:27, the extensions of Jeremiah 17: these all have one thrust, one theme.
In this last, which would abort judgment suddenly if in truth it might be, turn aside the evil day with a simplicity and suddenness amazing in its guileless abundance of grace, with a single, simple test in view (in this case, recognising the reality of the sabbath rest in the Lord), we see as repeatedly the heart of the Lord. In it, there is an endurance of kindness, a uncalibratable wonder of love
It is not toward part, toward some, that His divine heart moves; but His hand so moves when the effectuality of His chaste but burning desire bows to His sovereign, pre-temporal and all comprehending knowledge.
IF ONLY YOU, in this your day of visitation, had known the things which belong to your peace, lamented the Lord of love and God of salvation; but now they are hidden from your eyes. So did He reveal His heart. Shut eyes are never, in principle or practice, subjected by the Lord, to a non-closure muscular adjustment; for the underlying topic is the heart, and the results are manifest if not modish. From God's utter comprehension in defined scope, tothis world, all things, comes the outcome from a love commensurate with reality, overflowing the fall, yet chaste for all that, while lavish to the point of death. Parents sometimes have something of this love, which is the reason for it; friends too; but this, it is not for time, but for eternity, and not of creature for creature, but of Creator for His own ... even if they must be scrounged from the lanes and lower places (Matthew 22:8-9, Luke 14:21, I Corinthians 1:27, Romans 5:1-11).
It is to the world in its defined scope, the object of His creation, and if not effectually at first to His own people, then to all the rest, that statedly He moves in His love, and in His finding for the funding for faith (Hebrews 11). It is to whose who receive, whatever their apparent position, Himself in this saving mode, message and matrix that the intimate ultimate becomes manifest, and the knowledge in eternity comes into time. These, therefore, relate to His love by His foreknowledge admitted, by His predestination made sure; and in these only is His love consummated, though it might have been, if He had vested it in robots, manipulees or those dirigible like vessels, to its own defilement. Purity does not do so, and the love of God is pure, intense, realistic, persistent, in pursuit, passionate, undying, ending its journey only where journeys no more carry weight or have meaning.
In all this, at the historical level, in decisive terms, the human will is TOTALLY inoperative, and we learn this as definitively from John 1:12, as we learn of the love from John 3. It is so in the defined human condition in view in John 1. This exclusion in fact is just as emphatic as the alternative inclusiveness towards desire in love, in divine disposition towards saving souls.
If we keep to what is written, and desire exclusively biblical exposition, then in sum, God has an attitude of such love towards all that it would please Him if all were saved. This is EXPLICIT. The exclusion of autonomous human will in time is no less so. The autonomous power of God before time is in the same category, as is the quality of the love so operative in HIM. It is necessary to avoid the appalling barracking which so many make for their man (whether Calvin, Wesley, hapless hybrids or other inventions), wholly contrary to I Corinthians 3:3.
This biblical injunction from the apostle Paul will not even permit one to call oneself after such people (however really eminent), despite what has been done in the case of Lutherans, Wesleyans, Calvinists and others. It is enough to be thankful for gifts, without becoming daft about it, and belittling Christ by daring to disobey Him, in this. In that rebellious manner, many become so limited by the greatness of their models, which include cracks and crevices if not crevasses here and there, that the grandeur of Christ becomes a carnal, sectional, segmented business, seen through opera glasses: not the more direct illumination of the heart founded on the Rock, with no concrete foundations added.
THE WAY DIVINE IS SUBLIME
God has this attitude then; but He also has a knowledge of man-in-sin, such that the work necessary, in operating IN history, to receive His salvation, is beyond man. It is, in time, ultra-volitional.
He Himself KNOWS who are His (II Timothy 2:19), and foreknew them AS His (Colossians 1:19ff., Romans 8:29ff.), before time and its events, including man's fall, ever came to bring their darkness to the light of day: our time being created by Him along with His other creatures (Romans 8:38-39). Therefore, this pre-temporal and ultra-creation knowledge of God, independent of awaiting outcomes, concerning divine election, and the mode of fulfilment of His universal outgoing love towards this creation: it is also meta-volitional.
If then God knows beyond and above history and all its exploits (Romans 9),and developments, who are His, then we have no biblical ground to determine the modus operandi of this, merely the awareness of two things: first, His comprehensive capacity in such dealings, and secondly the principles which He statedly uses and deploys in such overarching knowledge, that it might be truth, which He is.
When HE tells us the upshot, result of this divine knowledge, this foreknowledge so defined, with man seen in the explicit domain as earth inhabitant under His jurisdiction, and this in the setting of a being to be desired by Him, in His desire that he be saved and not judged, God affirms the nature of the case. This is seen in what was relevant to Him and His mode of perception before time, creation and the fall of man, who knows what is to be before it is (Isaiah 46:10, 44:24-27, Acts 15:18), and beyond what it will be in second to second time installation, such as His human creatures have in this world; and this we duly, indeed with glee, have acknowledged.
What then is so revealed ? It is this, the ground of exclusion. This is to be acknowledged concerning the divine knowledge, on which predestination is statedly based (Romans 8:30). It is that the ground of exclusion from His kingdom, in the very face of His desire, is just this: that man, rejected man, has rejected light: being offered light, in whatever fashion, desired light in the deity, He prefers another option, darkness, and that is why he is rejected. He has a preference. This is divinely discerned, and while not at all aborting the love of God, does abort the birth which might have been, so that then, the peace might have been like a river (Isaiah 48:16ff.), and the righteousness as the waves of the sea.
The love of God is fulfilled in the realities of what He has made as He made it, being found in the grandeur of the Cross, and is so pure, chaste and holy, that while He laments to the heart the loss of any (Luke 19, Matthew 9:13, Hosea 6:6), He goes no further, dictating to none, beckoning to all, knowing His own and sovereignly saving them through His own grace, without human merit to the least degree, whether absolutely or relatively, His knowledge the final arbiter, being His own, His love reaching towards all and finding some, it too being His own (cf. Little Things Ch. 3).
Let no man intrude, for this is what the Lord declares who knows Himself infinitely, and needs not instruction from man, beyond, over, beneath His word, as if a mechanic on a ruined car. HE knows. Let HIS word state it, and let us all heed this, not name-businesses, that delude, putting each against the other, even the partial insights of those who however great, are as nothing compared with the word of God Himself, who knows what He does, has done and will do, and reveals the truth to us all, whether it be taken or rejected, abused or misused, intentionally or otherwise by confusion.
We find accordingly from what has gone before in our examination of the word of God, that that mode of divine perception before time, when results, in biblical terms, were wrought, is such that it may justly, in reality, judicially and finally be affirmed that it is the will of man that was the fault. Whatever, in the abstract, God MIGHT have done, He is not willing to do, even to abort reality and impose a myth, institute a robot or grab a dissident when the case is known ultimately to be such. It is not a question in the least degree of the sallow pathetic dismalness of what sin DOES to man; it is in the exalted perfect knowledge of the God who made him, that absolute truth is known, and then applied. That is the negative criterion in the divine election. It is not in the least degree that it is the limit in His outgoing love to this world, to ALL in it, as in Colossians 1, which is the determinant. It is the intrinsic limit that man in His image is not a morsel for chewing, but a person who may despitefully use even the grace of God and the glory imparted in the construction of so amazing a thing as that, even as Eve did, in instituting the fall of man.
Of Himself, relative to His oft-stated desire to save, to save the world from judgment and stop any from perishing, there is NOT MERELY no ground as the negative basis in ultimate reality; there is a passionate and repetitive declamation to the opposite. Indeed, so far from limitation of such purposive love being His circumscription, His own narrowing of the field, as if love were exhausted before its stated scope could be met, God expands His stated love to the uttermost in intensity and extent, while man is nailed as the aggressor, the self-delimited, the determinant in terms of preference, as discerned in the sight of God. This is not because of the divine love neglecting him, but because of his neglecting it, and this not as if the divine love were incompetent, God having all wisdom and power, but because despite the divine foreknowledge of all things, it remains true that man even to that level, WOULD NOT! That is the level of the finding as the Bible teaches; and this is the level of the result.
Intentional or otherwise, it is despite its limitlessly expansive character in the saving dimension, of that divine love, that man fails, falls, and in so doing, is to be divinely condemned (John 3:19,36).
Eternity hatched this result; God's own mode of perception arrived at it just as He pleased, who is the truth. What happens on this search simply displays it; but what it displays is the truth of the matter of love and rejection, modes and finalities. The divine comment (like that of a third umpire in a cricket test match, one who has reliable knowledge, in principle, but here also is practice) is this: preference for darkness is what ditched salvation, sent with divine desire from Him who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe, who is the propitiation not only for our sins, but also for the whole world. It is on behalf of all, but effectual, in the place, only of some; for He is effectually a ransom as He declared, for many (Matthew 20:28), and so is it found in the Last Supper, when one for whom there was no ransom, went out (Matthew 26:28). Yet the scope of His desire, as in I John 2, is the world, as it was in John 3, Colossians 1, I Timothy 2 and 4, in the most categorical terms conceivable. Why die in the midst of mist, then, in this feature of the divine glory, when the light is so clear that nothing whatever can dim it, but false philosophy added to the word of God, like an erroneous witness obscuring the reality when an accident scene is reconstructed!
What then ? Accordingly, the will of man in salvation before God, has these biblical elements concerning the operation of that salvation. As to that will, and to man, this salvation in its election is ultra-volitional (beyond history), meta-volitional (in a superior dimension of being knowledge beyond our limits and those of sin in particular). Yet it is, God being infinite, it is in knowledge, tantamount to volition, ascribable to volition and arraignable as volition (John 3 :19); for God Himself so ascribes it when concerned with judgment, despite His stated desire not to judge and the extremities for man to which He has gone to avoid it, if it may be so avoided in His integrity, at any cost (Titus 2-3). .
In the pre-temporal direct knowledge of God, above all, beyond all, in the exercise of that love which He is, the separation and segregation has one ultimate, divinely conveyed designation: human preference, human will in the very face of the divine desire (Colossians 1:19ff.), which being fulfilled in the grandeur of the Cross, is so pure, chaste and holy, that while He laments to the heart, the loss, He goes no further, dictating to none, beckoning to all, knowing His own and sovereignly, saving them through His own cross.
HAVING MADE PEACE through the blood of the Cross, having done all, accountable to none, available to all, desiring ALL THINGS, yes in heaven or on earth, to be reconciled to Himself, as He states in Colossians, confirming in I John, John, I Timothy 2, 4, Matthew and Luke, so He knows, abd He states: THIS is what pleases HIM, to reconcile all things to Himself. It may not please some, but it pleases Him. That is the divine dimension, without limit; there is the divine grace, without narrowing; here is the divine division, by knowledge, and there is the divine result.
There is no biblical room for movement in these matters. On the other hand, IN history, a given man, woman, child may EXPERIENCE the storms of will and calming assurance, or else the directness of salvation, the pressure of procedure - come or not! as in Proverbs 1, this grave challenge - and so may formulate theories of will, in one direction or another, which leave out one crucial dimension of the affair: the LORD who operated before time and applies IN time what He has foreknown, has stated what He was about, both why and in principle, how.
ELECTION: WHAT IT IS AND IS NOT,
In this sense, divine election (NOT the election of God, as if by man's choice, but the election of man, God's choice), is in the historical experience of man, filtered by what God chooses to expose; but this is no ground for generalisation. It does however, where time confirms, exhibit what might be called the hypostatic reality, as if through a lattice, in one, this aspect, in another, that one. That is, while God knows all, to man in his crises on earth, this or that part of the 'all' may become the more apparent, whether it be the divine surge to sovereign certainty in the end, or the processive aspect, the divine urge toward man, in the movement to the heart. For man, this or that aspect may seem paramount; but from God is the knowledge of all, which exclusive of no element, yet is inclusive of the realities to be faced. These He has stated; the mystery being this, the infinitude of His benignity, the wonder of His integrity and the marvel that He should so care for what is so smitten with sin (Romans 5).
Man's will, in terms of divine knowledge at the last resort, is what excludes; though the power to apply sovereignty regarding this is God's and not man's. To the will of man, it is condition; to the knowledge of God, it is preference. It is God's knowledge of man's ultimate preference. Nor is it merely outcome-related, since the love of God is personal and not imperious; but it is inclusive of this, amid all the divine realities, brought to bear in God's own way before time first grasped the air, or sun ever rose upon it.
It is God who assesses the matter, so that preference is not processive merely, but ultimate. The love therefore is unconditional, but its mode is conditional; the desire is unconditional, but its implementation is conditional. The condition is as known to God, but it is true for man, even when it is beyond the power of his earthly apprehension because of sin. God's choice is not conditional on any temporal act in man; but it is so, in terms of a knowledge which is truth, where it discerns the condition of man's will, and ascribes it justly to this outcome. Moreover, for this where sin has no place, antecedent to its byways, beyond its reach, merit is not differentially present, nor gradations relevant. Before creation so much as comes to be, the fall is unfallen.
To man as he is, in sin, therefore, election is unconditional, because man is in this regard, toward God without Christ, is in total depravity (Ephesians 2). Therefore in His choice, there is a limited atonement, wrought on this earth through irresistible grace, so leading to necessary perseverance. In this, Calvin is correct. But this is to omit the crucial pre-systematic reality that before all time God in His love by which He would have all, knew who were not His, and to us in time He has clearly stated that it is NOT because of some mysterious limitation of this saving love, but because of man's preference, known before all time and sin, that this exclusion is made.
To assert that it comes rather from the nature of God's attitude to saving love and its extent, is an all but incredible lapse from, and effrontery towards that very love, so constantly affirmed as to scope in desire in this field, in alliance with no less an emphasis on the ultimate limitation in man, not in power but in will, in his sinful condition.
KNOWLEDGE, His who is divine - in the eternal omniscience of God, this is determinative, and in Him all is known, and needs no process. But He exposes the result in time-terms, revealing all in terms of an expedition into human preference, so that the principle is covered with precise truth as well as comprehensibility. In divine foreknowledge, man's preference pre-dates the fall in its failure, and all man's works (Romans 9): where God reveals it, it is the truth, for Christ IS the truth (John 14:6), and is God. Time-wise, and we are in time, this is the nature of it, and so must be truly accepted, greater than which there could not be. In each case, it is known, foreknown and acknowledged in truth, even results where love cannot come, for without liberty love is not; and in love, God finds its place.
There IS a condition for man to come to God, repentance in faith and reception of the saving power of God in redemption, realised on the Cross and authenticated in the bodily resurrection, towards God in Christ, so that now He is freely acknowledged and met as Lord over all, His word the summit of doctrine, and the binding of our redeemed life, directing us in all things. Man in temporal limitation, cannot find it in his unconverted heart to face this, in reality, since sin blinds. God however has not set a condition that is unmeetable, as though through a defect in divine technology, this could not be answered.
On the contrary, before time began, with its limitations and defilements, God has known, thus foreknown, what man cannot finally now operate in, the actual disposition of will. This whether in what we term conditions, or more directly, with this the effectual result for understanding, He has exposed to our knowledge and this in truth, as reception or as the rejection of that way which was, in its acceptance, the only condition in which we could come, and in this sense, a condition for us to our coming.
This is simply expressed: the ground of man's rejection is tantamount to condition, answerable as such, attributable to will, arraignable as such, and the unconditional character of the love of God toward man, toward all upon this earth, even towards the height of salvation, does not surge through the barrier of the way for its occurrence, so that reception or rejection of the love of God and His salvation, , man is wholly answerable, responsible, and should take care.
God KNOWS what is the response even where man neither did nor could, before time; and He implements this in time, and as He will, that one Cross always the criterion for preference, that one sin always the obliteration of will's relevance, just as that one foreknowledge overcomes this problem for love, and makes it the surer than history ever could. It is thus pre-systematically that the love has the universal operation, but on this earth the outcome is indeed beyond the will operationally as in John 1:12, just as in heaven the income of love knows its focus, and achieves what love will, in its own chaste terms and gracious tenderness.
This neither prevents divine grief, nor enables human arrogance. Consider then.
Indeed, in this foreknowledge of God, merit is irrelevant (sin being a posteriori and not a priori to the creation of man*5A); for there meritoriousness and its degree do not apply, before sin gives its gradations and the fall introduces the fallacy of false motives, obscured by evil desire, ignorance and the whole train of folly to which the human heart is heir, so that who can know it!
Who indeed ? But "I the Lord know the heart" - as Jeremiah 17:9-10 exposes the fact. GOD and God only, knows; but this knowledge is on display as man comes into history, and now in this and now in that way, experiences crucial elements of the divine action, the integrity of it all fulfilling itself, whatever the condition into which man may have fallen.
God knows: this is the basis (Romans 8:30). So He says, and so it is.
He STATES His motive in love, and GIVES His findings. Let the one who adds or subtracts, answer for it: for us, the word of God must rule, not the presumption of additive philosophy, crimping, cramping, or illicitly expanding. Let us keep to what the Lord says, all of it, and putting it together, let it speak in one voice.
Ultimately, then, this pre-conditional phase, it is beyond history, and intimately it is pronounced in our terms, as from Him and before Him, assessable by Him as preference, a matter of the human will, before Him, and defined by Him. It is interpreted by God who over all, implements the outcome of His love, this neither prevented by the extraneous (as if to judge the touch of fingers by experimenting with them when they are numb), nor luring by any dissembling, but in truth. His FORM of knowledge is His own; His DEPICTION of the result is unquestionable. Preference, negative and relevant, by man, even in the domain of salvation where God desires statedly NOT to judge, and did not then even COME to judge: this is the ground of division, of condemnation.
It is not the absence of light itself, but its prohibition; not a generalisation of exclusion by sin's dour domain, but a particularisation of sin's ultimate escapade, rejecting when THIS light comes (cf.John15:22ff.), what it presents, even the free offer of salvation by grace without works, except for the work of Christ Himself, in generating eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12). It is then that sin remains, abhorrent, the darkness preferred, as known before it could be so, and assured when it is at last historical.
It is so, since He says it, unquestionable truth, definable reality, unadjustable fact: just as the ludicrous pretensions of human autonomy lack all truth, so the focussed point of human preference, discernible by God before time and beyond history, does not.
The system of Calvin's 5 points, in essence, concerning man in operation, is just as right as his pre-systematic approach, regarding the nature of the love of God, as appallingly exposited by him, re Matthew 23* 6 is wrong*7. In this latter area, Wesley rather than Calvin, is right, even if the former blindly carries the relevance of will as determinant, into history. Relative to divine reality, but not method, it is right. The point is there; the procedure is not.
It is time wild misconstructions moved to comprehend both elements, and both within the limits of the Bible; for it is this which binds, and does not blind*8, whereas human philosophy does the opposite, blinding, and not binding. Moreover it creates divisions unprofitable, manipulable, unstable and unedifying.
See on this aspect:
The Glow of Predestinative Power ... Ch. 4,
The Beauty of Holiness Ch. 2 ();
Outrageous Attitudes ... and the Courage of Christ Ch. 9,
Great Execrations ... Greater Grace Chs. 7 and 9,
Christ's Ineffable Peace and Grace Ch. 2,
Great Execrations ... Greater Faith Ch. 3 (and Paul),
Answers to Questions Ch. 1 (and biblical text).
Aspects of the Glory of
the God of All Grace
What is the Chaff to the Wheat ? 4 (A),
Deity and Design ... Ch. 10, esp. *1
Predestination ... Ch. 6,
Marvels of Predestination ... 2 (selections);
The Pride of Life and the Destiny of Man Ch. 3, *1
Tender Times ... Ch. 11, esp. pp.172ff.;
Great Execrations ... Greater Grace Ch. 9;
His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 4 (also contrasted with Islamic deficiencies);
Sparkling Life ... Ch. 7,
Earth Spasm, Conscience Chasm and Renewal of life ... Ch. 6;
Scaling the Heights Ch. 5;
Gratitude to His Glorious Grace App;
Downfall from Defamation ... Ch. 3;
Licence for Liberty Ch. 1
Serenity, Not Serendipity Ch. 12 (trinity, reality, man and liberty);
Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42, Jeremiah 48:30-36, Jeremiah 8:21-9:7.
As in *3 above. See also:
See Alpha, Acme and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 8.
Just as foreknowledge is a priori and conversion a posteriori, and what is tantamount to condition is a priori, and what is beyond it, a posteriori.
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 2
See Serenity not Serendipity ... Ch. 14, with Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 2, and Christ's Ineffable Peace ... Ch. 2. See further on the X-factor in Great Execrations ... Greater Grace Ch. 9. When one wanders from the word of God, strays from its connotations, barriers are erected: which is a mercy!
Quite simply, this is the love, as stated towards the world in all its various depictions; this is the exclusion zone for static, limitation, for here it is, expressed to the uttermost to the utmost, with no hollows, vacuums or limits. Regal it is, and noble to the uttermost, and as shown in all its ultimacy (John 3:15-36). Next, this is the condemnation, seen in full view of the stated love (John 3:19), its practicality, its prodigality, its universality and its base and focus, in God and on this world. It is not other. It is stated to be THIS.
THIS, says He, this is the condemnation. It is not otherwise. In the love of God, THIS is both the scope and the method of His love; and that is the condemnation of repugnant man. His aim was not one of judgment (John 3:17), and so His love had this aim, motivation.
On the other side, there is seen an end for man selectively, even in the face of this, exculpation and impelling majesty both, of God, relative to neglect or being unloved. The ground of this so contrary affair is stated. THIS is the condemnation. MAN preferred otherwise. The result for the one (John 1;12), and for the other (John 3:36) is spelt out. The ground for the difference is spelt out. The ground of each is spelt out. Let us not forget our three Rs.
The fact that God had no necessity to love is academic if not jejune in this context. He states that this is SO of Him, and that He is THIS. On this basis, both in Himself and in His word, not to say in the residual image of God left within us, this is the criterion. If it did not 'have' to be, yet it is; and to have worlds which are not can be inventive, but not illuminating when dealing with the divine perspective on this one. Let us keep to it, if we want understanding. As in *1 above, it has an additional advantage, even if not comparable in importance: here is the ONLY way in which the problems of freedom and responsibility, self and sanctity, liberty and necessity for man, CAN be solved. That is what is shown in the references. It not only uniquely does solve these tensions, but the solution can be in no other type of setting. Praise God for that. His word IS the truth.