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GUESSING, GROPING AND GOING
The Reality of Liberty and the Glory of Harmonious Truth
Closing with the Covenant of Christ
Creating Havoc without Him whose it is
These are three ostensible options in life, and relations to its foundations.
It is quite useless, to say it does not have any, a waste of breath.
IF it did not have any, then LOGIC could not have any, and HENCE all the efforts to use it to show that this or that is the case, would not have any, and hence you would have a squirming morass of self-contradiction.
If it did not have any, then the magnificent correlation available between OUR mental modes and captured imageries, and what WORKS to expose ways things happen, allowing verification selectively of what conforms to this ensemble, the inward and the outward, the rational and the constituted, would be ludicrous. A pan-systematic whole would have no foundation; and a pan-interpretive mode would have no meaning, though what it means is continually being verified
(cf. LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST
WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES AND WHERE HE IS,
Bible or Blight, Christ or Confusion:
The Comprehensive Resolution of Man's Intractable Problems
is Found Only in the Bible, the Word of God).
The pervasive function and so the foundation is there, and its results are there and interpretations which ignore it are repudiative, not elicitive of reality. We are reviewing briefly some aspects well-known on this site, in order to proceed to some superstructures and examine their competence. So we proceed.
What is there ? The God of creation and predestination, comfort and judgment, truth and discipline, mercy and marvels, from whose hand history is foretold and fulfilled, from whose power the Messiah came, interpreting in human form the wonders of the Eternal One whose power is baulked by nothing, as His word claims and His works show.
How may He be known ? By listening to what He says, and looking at what He has done, and being thankful for the latter and acting on the former.
How does the Bible speak of the long history of nations as man moves into this eruption of unreason or that, into this beginning of wisdom and that, into this squall of vice and that ?
It speaks in Acts 17:23-26 of "God who made the world and everything in it," He being Lord of heaven and earth who "does not dwell in temples made with hands", such prior symbolisms being past and seen as symbolic even where scheduled. Accordingly, Solomon saw the total differentiation of temples from the ultimate reality (I Kings 8:27-28). Proceeding in this unchanging light, there is more to be seen: for the Lord has Himself chosen a 'temple'. It is one which became a palace of opportunity for seeing the life and work, the words and power, the wisdom and compassion of God, being in fact a bodily format for the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1-2, Micah 5:1-3). It gave to man further opportunity to show definitively the strength of the anti-divine dynamic which seizes him as a boa constrictor, and makes movement so painful, so often, and so reasonably in terms of guilt and folly.
Whatever the varieties and variegations of human imagination when applied to this God of creation, whatever perversities and superficialities and grand sweeping generalisations and endeavours to make Him up, or bring Him down, will not alter Him, whom wisdom reveals (Romans 1:17ff.), and salvation attests (Acts 2-3, Isaiah 43:10-11). This is so, whether historically amid the nations or individually amidst the millions who received it. You can reject Him, you can dither and dally, and make up neologies, imaginations of your, or receive somebody else's and equivocate and dare to plagiarise and play monopoly with God, and see how you pan out; or you can believe and receive Him who has left nothing undone for the deliverance of the world, from judgment to salvation (John 3), having so loved this same world into which He came, that He sacrificed so freely to this end.
In the milieu of changing times, you can play all kinds of games, like a cornered lynx, and try to strike out this way or that. It may be seen in historical perspective for the human race in its various ventures.
But what does man do over history in his seeking ? The term Paul here uses in Acts 17 is of great interest. First however he proceeds in effect to tell us what scientific efforts with the results attest more and more clearly, namely that man does not have a diversified genetic beginning, but a unified one. The Bible declares
"He has made from one blood every nation of man to dwell
on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times
and the boundaries of their dwellings..."
Thus as in DNA, and as in man's logical prowess amid verificatory investigation, finding the mind within and the world without of a correlative LOGOS construction, there is similarly a decisive ground for the movements of nations in their loose, wonderful, debased, or despicable constructions and misconstructions concerning their Maker. The lab has been built. We see it operate.
Such is the statement from Paul in terms of things wrought, prepared, arranged, and differential amid the nations. On the one side, there is the COMMON SITUATION, on the other there is the DIVERSE APPLICATION of the ingredients. Indeed, as you survey history writ large, in overview, the rise and fall of nations is no more notable than the reasons for it, the treasons against truth, against rationality, against humanity, against holiness, against gratitude, against sincerity in seeking the Lord, and on the other hand, the sometimes found national movements toward God, sometimes even vast revivals as in the mid-nineteenth century for instance.
The determining of these things, however, says NOTHING about the WAY it was determined. This is made especially clear from what follows. Here determination holds no more force than this, divine resolution as to what is to be. In the meantime, notice that a parent could determine what is to happen to a child's tertiary education when the case depends on their financing (prior to national gifts for the purpose, or banking and so forth, which can become rather mean). This parental determination could be by imperious pronouncement, by gentle probing followed by a decision by the parent, or by active consultation with the adolescent, coming to final resultant for that stage and age.
The fact that there is a result, and that it is definable as in this student case, or even that it is definite does not tell us inter alia four things. It does not reveal for the resolution, what are its grounds, what its mode of resolution, the participation of principles or the communication or survey which preceded it. That is not resolved by its definiteness, and efforts to make this so are merely logical voids. Decisive results can come from a wide range of inputs.
In fact, Acts goes on in 17:27, to use what might appear initially a staggering term for the seeking and blinking, the reaching out and the retiring within, which the nations have shown in this field of seeking God, the meaning, the maker, the style and mode, the morals and the ultimates. It is found in the statement that mankind, whom as noted, "He has made of one blood," is a human race to whom He has apportioned times and scopes and opportunities for a purpose. What is this purpose ? It is that they might "seek the Lord." This in turn is not for vacuity or frustration, but so that "they might find Him, though He is not far from any of us." Startling is the word preceding the "find." It all reads thus:
"that they might grope for Him and find Him,
though He is not far from each one of us."
How do you 'grope' ? In comparative darkness or difficulty of access, where purpose is present and means are limited, you seek about, move in the interstices of things, put out a finger here, a hand there, a manipulative touching in another place, as if by any means you might induce what is there and what you seek, to expose itself, to be rescued from mere vagueness in your mind, and being found, be clear and manifest to you.
How do people grope for God ? They often follow many false trails, such as ludicrous naturalisms, human racist pretensions in which they indeed seek to act as one, but as one infinite in portent and absent in foundations. This is frequently associated, even allied with various madnesses, be they those of mass murderers like Hitler and Stalin and Mao, and various Middle Eastern potentates who protect themselves with the blood of others and rule by dictation, religious, other, mixed, or diversified variants. It is a form of spiritual insanity (Hosea 9:7) to apply dictates that are not demonstrably from God, while displaying themselves as meaningless except for mountebanks or the deluded, the pretentious or the aggressive (cf. SMR Ch.10, Ch.4 Extension, Spiritual Refreshings Ch.13).
These in their arrogance show themselves over time, to be merely specious, their power limited, their precepts not in accord with verifying fact. This, it is common as blood on the ground, with all the interminable seeming tortures which broken limbs and vexed organs can confer in the aftermaths of wild rushes of irrational thought and impious pretences about things, be they religious or irreligious (cf., SMR Ch. 10). They wander, they grope, they pretend, they become deluded, or they seek to maximise delusion for ulterior motives.
So they move with this in mind, this nostrum, that idol, the other philosophy of partial blindness (cf. SMR Chs. 3-4) and kill and parade and pout and pamper, depending whom they select for exaltation, just as in degree, in now happening in Australia, where certain sorts of economic strata become objects of moral division, even where there is in government leadership explicitly no foundation for morals, and certain sorts of workers' grouping, though in a small minority, are empowered to lord it over the books, accounts and ways of other groups, as if to make a divided nation by coercion of federal power, to create bitterness and ensure low productivity, where latest figures suggest a downward draft. This merely amplifies the normal confusions and false teachings by which much the same is accomplished by State Supported Virtual Naturalism in the places of education.
Man violates equity, rationality, wisdom and proceeds with his groping. At times there is finding, clarity, worship of the Creator who has not left man without abundant testimonials of His wit and power (Matthew 24:14, Acts 17:17). This He did not only in the brilliant constructions underlying human physical life, but in the plenitude of His gifts that man might live and find joy;and this has been supplemented by His doing good, even when reviled and rejected.
Man gropes, but God is not without witness. Man is in the dark; but God has not left him without light (John 1:1-14). It is necessary to seek. That is the case with presumptuous and potentially pre-emptive people who do not think, or who rush or want a 'rush' or rush into things and 'solve' them with superficiality or wither reality with wild imaginations as in naturalism (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!).
Groping and sovereignty as some mis-style it ? How do you grope amid a sovereign action that is mysterious in its origins, strange in its impacts and ultra-scriptural in its assumptions, such a s Calvin taught, in denial of the Bible, whatever his intention ? It would be difficult. Groping suggests that there is scope for effort, trial and error, in the very WISDOM OF GOD concerning His wishes for man and his efforts. He wants him to seek, to consider, to ponder, to be more or less streamlined in ascertainments of understanding. He wants him to SEEK. He gives times for him to do so; He appoints these times, not for appearance, but for a reality of seeking so that they might seek! Such is the revelation of Paul in Acts 17:19-20.
This merely exposes once more the fact that though God does rule as this text indeed declares, yet in the MODE of ruling He desires not automatons, but people with real hearts engaged in realistic modes of passing through dimness toward light, through uncomprehending darkness toward commensurate light, from vague lives to clear ones, from problematic positions to the truth.
That is what He wanted, giving
opportunity; and He then summed up the opportunities further,
following the judgments on the boisterous pretensions of man and his evils of
heart (Genesis 6) through the prophetic exposures of the redemption on which
man's only residual hope then rested. He did so in the Messenger of the Covenant
(Malachi 3-4), the Messiah who is to rule )(Psalm 72), who ruled Himself as He
was ruined by those who did not grope so very well. Indeed, so acting,
with little skill and still less sincerity, they engaged in killing the
very manifest One whom ostensibly they had been blindly seeking, and that often
with a pompous self-will (Matthew 23), that made the obvious to be dimmed,
and the apparent to be deleted (as far as possible), and the
cross was not a bad choice, if that is what you want. It was
assuredly what they wanted (Mark 3:6)
Quest by No Means the Prerogative of Fallen Man
Thus, with this outrage perpetrated, as if to sum up in one the intensity of blindness which makes asthenic groping so common, in the presence of the obviousness of the answer which gives even to the deluded an underlying hope, God
"has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness
by the Man whom He has ordained.
He has given assurance of this to all
by raising Him from the dead,"
While, then, God has indeed foreknown who are His, He has equally given to the world in its squalid sins and endless seeming autocracies, political and academic, militarily imposed or delusively induced (the current world is FULL of both types) the modes of seeking. He has essentialised it all in one Man, incarnation of God, the only One to have been, to be and to be t o come, one for One, the "express image of His Person." Not only so, He has done this in the form which we have, that of mankind. Further, He has granted to Him to show such an undeniable expression of His love, that the world be not judged but saved, that its distortion has to be the work of specialist theologians or political rushes.
How well does Horatius Bonar in his sermon on Divine Philosophy (I Cor. 1:24) point out that God has conceived it good to bring man to such a series of outcomes, disasters and exposures that his sin reeks, his evils show no mitigation, his pride no scope. He is brought to the point that in multitudes of manifold follies and failures in his ways and works and depravities, fallings and fallings that he might be as thus prone, found where he is apt to come. That ? it is as a stripped penitent, with NO moral heights to commend him, no beams of rotten wood to sustain him in the deluge of history, till his foolish heart is overcome and his repentance is heartfelt without liaison with dreams, and he comes as a sinner to the Saviour with nothing to contribute but his abashed self.
You see the active principle in Job, as in 19:9 for example, with 40:8. You see the sublime, divine perspective behind it in Isaiah 40:15-31, preceded by the indefatigable wonder of the all-providing God as noted in 40:10, where the clarity and charity of the supreme and only God is found at work in Person, as so often before in principle and practice (as in Ezekiel 20). You see the swarming rejection of it, of all repentance and remorse, reflection and seeking indeed in Revelation 9:18-21. This negative mood and mode is there observable, carried on by scorning fixations to the uttermost point, on
BEING who they want to be,
HOW they want to be,
doing precisely WHAT they want
Even eye-opening pageantry, however, whirling historical horrors as man investigates how to live without God, fail to impress them for "their foolish hearts were darkened," as we read of a parallel situation in Romans 1:21. The progressive denudations of false hopes, in terms of reality checks, as in Jeremiah 5, moves on till there is not even a handkerchief of cover left. You see this in some detail in Ezekiel 16:31-43.
Whether it is the invention of gods, or god-surges or urges (Romans 1:17ff.), or plain self-erected laws for living, the impudence is astonishing; but at times, the stripping that follows can be so thorough that you have prayers of confession such as you find in Daniel 9 and Nehemiah 9, to attest the fact and exposés as in Ephesians 4:17ff., to assign merit in its absenteeism, its place. It is elsewhere!
The very basic default in man concerning the God of all comfort and truth, leads directly to such enormities of transgressions, in autonomy, awesome follies, hateful behaviour, self-will or dalliance with delusion, as leave the race like an airliner in a massive downdraft, most unwilling to conceive it happening, and asking for more liqueurs or backrests as they descend.
Even though nakedness of evidence results, however, man would cover his moral nakedness and his naked lust for self-empowerment to the point that words become his cover.
To be sure, Job was a very special case, but even there, amidst the fact that there was a test on, one of great importance to the whole human race, there were some stompings of spirit and there was no cover left in the end (Job 40). In contests with God, it is He who is always wiser, deeper, more profound, and what appears to some an absence of mercy is in fact a turning from light. There darkness has ways of its own, for the individual, a race, a religious invention or any other imagination from the abundantly creative heart of man.
You see this same sort of schedule in Romans 1 extensively, where there is a dynamic of desolation at work in man, leading to things so horrible in spirit that their judgment slaps like incoming tsunamis upon the earth. You see it in the ways of ancient Israel before its major fall to Babylon (cf. II Chronicles 36), and in particular presentation to the royalty of Israel (in a most poignant manner) in Jeremiah 13:18-23. He makes it clear in Jeremiah 13:12-14, for the nation, where they are, what they are to inherit for unholiness; and yet (Jeremiah 23:5), He does not leave desolation without hope, or the judgments without scope for dismissal; for the Messiah is to be sent. Many will find Him, came the message, and so did history, like a dog following its master (Isaiah 52:15, 55:8-14,65:13-15, 62:1-10),conform and perform it.
To be sure, Israel would have to grope, but amid the biblical revelation already secure before the Messiah came, and His ways were perfected in sacrifice, precisely as predicted. Thus, it would not grope in the dark (a point strenuously brought to the light by Paul as seen in Acts 13:38-41). Paul cited Habakkuk 1:5,and its warnings concerning the work of massive spiritual intrusion that God would execute (cf. Isaiah 28:7-13,16,28-29), and this extended even to His
"awesome work," "His unusual act,"
as further described in Isaiah 29:14,
"a marvellous work and a wonder."
This He would perform, and so they might well beware of the price of overlooking it in their fatal imperviousness. Calling them "despisers", He announced
"a work which you will by no means believe,
though one were to declare it to you!"
(cf. Isaiah 53:1).
Thus there was a certain divine liberality over-arching the falling bridge of their intransigence; and a warning was most apt, gracious and timely. After all, their action would be only too clear, as a nation (Isaiah 49:7), when God showed His glory in person, and their inward war seen as declared in their outward actions, striking even the face of the Messiah (Micah 5:1, Matthew 27:30, Isaiah 50, 52:13ff.). The sheer mastery of malice seemed even to discompose their minds, while their spirits flamed as if shelled.
The supreme case came with the bodily resurrection of the ever uncontrollable body of Christ, of Him which, though murdered, in the work of God, would not make itself available to the exploiters, to show their victory. Was it so subtle ? God merely carried out with precision, the plan of the millenia, pre-announced right down to the third day of His arising, and this escape from their power was wrought in their very faces, frustrated, fearful and showing the lines and lies of prevarication (Matthew 28:13).
Imagine pretending that self-admitted sleepers could attest what sleep would have prevented their seeing. Conceive that the zealous women would not know the tomb (Luke 23:55), or that there was ignorance after the lordly gift, or that the ultra-practical fishermen suddenly lived in a poetic world! (John 20:24ff.). Small wonder that the effort to pressure them out of their testimony resorted so soon to force (Acts 3-4, 12), for since reason would not co-operate, while raising of the dead had already been practised by Christ, and would be by Peter, their impotence would have been pitiable had it not been so proud.
This obduracy too Christ foresaw, in that it was a master passion of blindness, showing this in a parable about the wanton rejection of ANYTHING by many committed to avoiding faith. WARN my brothers says a rotter in judgment. They would not believe, the parable declares through the relevant character, THOUGH ONE SHOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD! Precisely so. That was the lie despite the lie of the land.
Christ could have failed in any one of the challenges of healing and word to which He was exposed: He could have failed in mind, in thought, in word, in deed, in the display of consistent and obtrusive miraculous power, constantly exasperating those who as now, prefer words without power, and evidence without accounting.
He could have come down from the cross, meeting the challenge of those who said THEN they would believe, though it would simply have shown One untrue to stated commission. Accordingly, He did not do so, as always knowing and going on the path of truth.
He could have been caught in sin, even made to appear sinful without adequate answer from the lips, caught out by scholars in some error in biblical reference, had semi-healings, irritations, losses of temper, engaged in the merely personal vitriol of current politics, or taken tangents to meet personal wishes.
He could have been available
in the grand tomb for those who instead of reporting an absentee
from their watches, boulder-moving going unnoticed, might have
managed to retain the body. He could have disappeared on the
wrong day, been discovered as a ruined fragment of flesh, through
observers, if there had been anything less than the eruption of managed
strength which moved the rock intended to seal in the body; or His body could
simply have rotted and being identified, raised up for wicked triumph, not
40 days of instruction.
Slither and Significance
Nothing ever anyway gave even an option for reasoned slander. Nothing coujld be grasped. If it was written, He left no chance of repudiation through omission or failure in anything. Defeat did not exist; self-sacrifice replaced it,for He came to serve as a ransom, not parade as an impostor. All this therefore was necessary, inscribed in the predictions, and done without room for clamour, stutter or grounded protest.
He was as inexplicable, if one tried to consider Him without the simplicity of being the Messiah as sent for the purpose of redemption noted in the Bible, as was His power, His knowledge, His wisdom, His performance of every part of the identikit prophetically provided; and failures to nail Him on points of detail such as birth-place, or predicted focus of operations in Galilee (Isaiah 8-9) were as conspicuous by their inability to be confirmed, then as now. Prevarication becomes ludicrous and a little thought makes a total monstrosity of all efforts to remove the One who died at the date foretold from His place (cf. The Christian Prescription Ch.2).
The Gospel CONCERNING Him likewise came as ALSO PREDICTED (cf. SMR Ch.9), and the flurry of worry and disbelief to come at last to a head amid the warring nations, this likewise was foretold (Matthew 24, II Thessalonians 2, Revelation 19). It all opened out as it opens out, like the uncoiling fronds in a fern. There was delicacy, mode, substance, impact, all in concert like an orchestra.
The solidity even of the empirical mass is greater than that of the mountains; and it will not move; and it has not been moved these two millenia; but what is moved is the heart of man, back to that immeasurable unrepentance which Revelation 9:23-24 forecasts, equally.
It is harder to grope with your eyes closed.
Israel, then, would have to grope, but it would not be without grounds for confidence, whether in Christ's unpompous air of authority, such as endless prevailing in word and deed, for the purposes stated of His coming, made prominent (Mark 1:22). In spirit and deed, word and rebuttal the Messiah acted, in each dimension doing meticulously everything to the point that even the most gifted and mordant enemies could do no more then than they can now, to discredit or to throw over the gift (cf. SMR Chs. 5 - 6). They could grope (as in Matthew 16:14, and John 7:31), but not without the sure touch and the results of it, to be found when they sought with integrity of heart, not immersed in the baptisms of mere imagination (John 20:24-29). You had to be empirically willing to see, not wearing the dark glasses of philosophic self-sufficiency that knew nothing of empirical reality. You had to be attuned to evidence, massive as mountains, reality as inescapable as the need of lungs for air.
God oversaw these things, these phases, knowing His own, missing none in His punctilious seeking that was more than groping (Romans 8:20ff.); but the nations had to grope. There was a necessity of realism for a world not least, to act as a giant laboratory in which the follies of sin and the foolishnesses of evil could be catalogued and researched, shown, made manifest, so that the race could have no illusions, except under heavy spiritual anaesthetic, or more simply - just by closing the eyes. After all, you CAN do that; but it is perfectly clear that this shows nothing wrong either with your eyes or the evidence sitting unobserved, before their self-blinded impotence. The sheer wilfulness of the dogged resistance to, and rejection of, the only living God, the Creator-Redeemer is shown eloquently by Jesus Christ in Matthew 13:10-16 with the parable of 22:1-14, just as is the wonder required to restore to righteousness, in Zechariah 12:10ff..
Here that crucifixion of Christ which Israel performed judicially but injudiciously, is seen in its reality through the operation of the Spirit of God. This will lead to sheer repentance as the realisation of the enormity sets in, with nothing left for pride or pomp or superiority to cling to; and are the Gentiles are better ? Do they not have to come to the same light (Luke 2:29-32), and from the same thrusting aside of the same One provided now in the same Gospel (I Corinthians 1:18-25, Ephesians 2:1-13)!
Whether Jew or Gentile, all are in the same category by nature, "children of wrath," these just as the others, There is no difference, for though the one acted nationally, so have many other nations as far as they might; and though one has been made a very essence of exposure of WHY in darkness and dismal unbelief, formal or informal, there is no rest, the Gentiles nations yet more and more are covered with no lesser, if less specific, an indictment.
How hard the heart that must be stripped before re-equipped. Look at the poignant and piteous scene in Jeremiah 31:18ff. There is "Ephraim," figure for Israel, in mordant self-criticism, is seen meeting the Lord who reassuringly indicates that nothing is too hard for Him. "There is hope in your future," the Lord announces.
"Restore me, and I will return,"
"for You are the LORD my God."
Returning, he declares this,
"Surely, after my turning, I repented,
and after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh.
I was ashamed, yet even humiliated,
because I bore the reproach of my youth."
The Lord responds with dedicated affection, "I earnestly remember him still!" observing that
"My heart yearns for him."
Such is the tang of truth as in
Isaiah 48:15ff., Matthew 23:327ff., Luke 18:42ff., and in accord with I Timothy
2:1-6 and Ezekiel 33:1 and Colossians 1:19ff.. Such is the love of God. It
MAY lead on to devastation in things spurious and furious from man; but
like a reservoir is its readiness as in Isaiah 48, and its correlative is
found in the negative case, in His mourning.
Stripped Down and Built Up
Stripping improves the plunge, since there is no resistance! Such is repentance and failure to find this decisive divestment of pretended cover before God: it helps reality check, realisation. It provides in its very unmitigated hopelessly, an amelioration that helps entry. The fatuous failure to understand, is as exposed in Romans 10:3, and put in mini-parable form in Mark10:25, to make the more irresistible impact!
In principle it is put in Luke 14:27ff.. Surrender all or have in Christ nothing at all. There is no scope for bargaining. Christ did not bargain at the cross, and there is no room to exact bargains when that shows the character of sin, in which all mankind on earth is participates.
There is in the end, NOTHING left to cling to; and not only that, one must be RE-ROBED (as in Isaiah 61:10 and the parable of Matthew 22:1-14, where the man without the wedding garment stood speechless before His aroused host!). Only when the love of one's own self BY and FOR oneself is abandoned, or the love of the world in the same way, or of the pride of life and its endless rationalisations, indeed of all of these are left, and only when the love of God transcends it, so that one realises the gap between reality and actuality in one's life, is the opening adequate for the sinful soul, to be redeemed. Man may not realise this, but his entire history exhibits it; for slightly healed parties can be worse than all (cf. Jeremiah 8:11); and God has allowed history so to run that the entire inadequacy of man without God may be seen, felt, surveyed and imbibed.
What vast occurrences have to happen before the nations KNOW and realise what has been happening: Jews put out for covenantal sin (Micah 5, cf. Zechariah 11), some Gentiles brought in by salvation, all Jews confronted at the last into obliteration by Gentile assault, with deliverance by God of the same by supernatural power. What a spotlighted tour de force is needed before some will even begin to think!
What wonders it takes to instruct them, so that they even listen with the ears of the heart and the mind of understanding (Ezekiel 39:23ff.). Israel takes no less instruction before at last the nation awakens (Ezekiel 39: 27ff.). What a lot it takes! (Luke 13:34-35). The divine lament and longing is met by the historical scope needed before they will at last be ready for His coming, this to be like lightning Luke 17:24). It is no mere progression which is needed, but diasters of the most potent and vehement character to awaken. While mercy restrains, yet judgment declares, as in Jeremiah 13:15-23. Indeed, to take an example for Israel, Jeremiah 16 shows the phases: the charge is found in 16:8-13; the mercy in view comes when the results settle (16:14-15), and some of the means chosen to elicit and find the failed and the fallen are provided for concern (16:16-18).
God determines to SHOW so that they might KNOW the truth (Jeremiah 16:19-21). Objective realities mingle with punitive steps, and history unfolding shows the cost of loss as God prepares to PAY IT and restore them (16:16-17); and indeed, to do just the same for the broiling, toiling Gentiles, to those who believe (16:19). KNOWING is the other side of SHOWING, and God who is no respecter of persons, acts with mercy in mind even when desolation has to teach folly the breed of things it is, when it does not find faith in the Creator-Redeemer. God shows and then many among men begin to know.
Man is not a 'good thing' which God ought to be proud of, and charmed to have coming in any one person, for alas his spiritual health is as good is the physical health of one with advanced cancer. Many might not see a doctor lest their peaceable way be disturbed and they be found to be diseased; yet here, there is a free call, an invitation and a generic specification for all men, but many turn from Christ as from Him who sent Him, with vigour. It is as if there could be no greater loss than to find Him, or no graver errors than to be healed, redeemed and back in communication with God. They may bewail the suffering, but continue to cause it. They may berate the Maker, yet fail entirely to see the ground of the curse working in them like army ants, or the escape from its rigors available by the stupendous sacrificial act of God! This in turn merely exacerbates their sin, and makes the more amazing the divine mercy that the earth itself is still here at all, ready with redemption for any who call.
Whether the trouble be picturable as that of a man with nails for God's incarnate body, or a grain of wheat too proud to drop to the earth and 'destroy' its beautiful simplicity and integrity, the result has one common feature. Man is immersed in incongruity with truth, dynamised by departure from reality. Head-held-high, he proceeds within the unheeded pathology of his soul, ignoring a depravity the starting feature of which is non-closure, failure to settle sin with the Saviour, so meant, so sent, so spectacular in a humility that resounds, like the roar oaf the sea. Open is the covenant, the New Covenant in Christ's blood, but closed myriads of eyes that delight to disregard it. For some it may seem an ever open covenant (till it is past applicability), or a forever closed and crushed one. But they neither enter nor forbear.
Whether violence to Christ or to His covenantal offer is in view, in both cases the same result is there, negation, assertion, high-handed headiness and closed vision.
In His mercy and sovereignty alike, God has provided man with super-abundant evidence to mind and senses, to the very form of logic and the depth of the heart. His love has been shown repeatedly from the scriptures, His scope in desiring redemption and reconciliation for man, to be co-extensive with the earth*1. As to His salvation, He neither scoops them all up, as in a moment of undisciplined largesse, nor allows any to fail for technical reasons, but enacting His stated principles, brings all who may, in the realities of divine love, be won.He brings them to Himself*2.
In the process, many have been the gropings and the findings, and many the experiences of salvation as now here, now there, the pretensions of the heart are exposed, and repentance comes as reality surpasses resistance, and the lost is found.
It little matters in the end how the spies seek to use Christ's very name to make another covenant or another deliverance or another sort of mankind, or the sleepy ignore the situation to the death, or the self-affirming enhance their blindness till they write books on how to conserve it: the groping comes to its end. Even an enjoyable pursuit of fecklessness comes to an end, as with those Athenians to whom Paul spoke (Acts 17), who forever were considering some new thing, as if it were a matter of a spiritual kind of TV, as now might appear, and indeed has already appeared.
The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4,
Christ's Ineffable Peace and Grace Ch. 2,
Great Execrations ... , Chs. 7 and 9,
Marvels of Predestination ... Ch. 4,
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth
Ch. 6, esp. *3,
Outrageous Outages ... and the Courage of Christ Ch. 9,
The Original and Eventual Magnificence Epilogue,
together with Chs. 2 and 5 in sequence,
The Lord of Longsuffering ... Ch. 6,
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 2,
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3,
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 2,
Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Ch. 8, Ch. 9,
Deity and Design ... Ch. 10.
ON THE UNMERITORIOUSNESS OF THE FOREKNOWN
In the scope of God's foreknowledge, there is no difference in the moral issues and the spiritual intent, from what faces man on earth, except that before our time, in the wisdom, of God, the depths is infinite and the knowledge perfect, whereas on earth, man for his part being sinful, has a narrowed case, in need of a penetration beyond himself.
Thus in the era of foreknowledge, or analytical phase, however it be viewed, there is no change to the principles in view, to the criteria of rejection, namely as stated in John 3:19: light has come, even that of Christ, and man preferring darkness, get it where this is the assessment of God, in the differential knowledge of each person. He WOULD have all; takes some, and the principle of exclusion in the light of the appetite for all, is as unfolded. In the episode, or mode of foreknowledge ( John 3:15-19). Who is His, therefore, this remains the criterion, and as Christ does not change, and He is of the godhead (John 8:58), it is of a kind such as accords with His divine character. Man's liberty (not that he is there yet in the realm of divine foreknowledge outside creation itself, but as envisaged or hypostasised) is as created, in the image of God, and as exemplified in Adam and Eve, sufficient for plotting or rotting or approving and following, relative to things divine, to God Himself.
The fall has not happened there. The clouding of the glasses through sin is not in the picture before sin has acted. The case however is in principle the same. Man has the TYPE of liberty which enables the KIND of response to be manifested truly concerning God. There is a liberty, a freedom of will at this point concerning God. It would fail in an autonomous or even synergistic sense, as imaginable in time, but not in actuality, as known to God.
Sin does not make you to cease to be a human being, but cease to be godly. God does not cease either to be godly, or consistent, or truthful about His principles, or knowledgeable. He KNOWS. What does He know in this matter ?
He knows the disposition of each human will. Liberty is real and invented, His own prerogative to so create which man, having created spirit, is not able to duplicate, in his own creations, merely making more or else complex partners or implements for his own will. Partial things could not do it. They lack the totality of coverage of the divine and sublime, their limits their boundaries.
The impartial and entirely knowledgeable God who statedly would have ALL to be reconciled to Himself, so loves all that the uttermost gift is not too much that the world to which He came be saved and not lost, is not pursuing selfish preference but salvation OF what He has created. It is not its annulment but deliverance from it which is in point. Does the fact that this foreknowledge, apart from history, which merely traces results, is anhistorical: does this, in some way, make it untrue to history ? Quite the contrary. It is because it is perfected knowledge, as with all God's works, what is in His mind is what will be, granting that misused freedom will also have its way as created pure, and abused spuriously, within the ambit of His actualised creation. He willed its liberty and having made it so, does not preclude what He has made as if this were salvation, but excludes where applicable what on His stated principle, has this outcome (John 3:19).
Here is the present point. Does this TYPE of knowledge of a TYPE of being remove reality from it ? No, it enables it. If God wants a thing, He is going to get it. If He wants it without qualification, it is as good as done. If He wants it, however, with certain qualitative bounds, such as not supplanting but enabling liberty, then THAT is what He will get.
Does this however mean that some persons created may be seen and secured for salvation, as having with some kind of higher purpose or purity than others ? Is then all that history has provided to exhibit the flaws, follies and futility of sin of no account here, though the stripping of substitutes for God has been crucial to deliver from illusion, as a gigantic historical monument, featured through the ages ? Just as sin has no entry prior to its time, or if you prefer, in what is logically prior to its involvement, so the faults of the flesh are not irrelevant to God in His foreknowledge. In other words, they do not have to HAPPEN to be visible in their potencies and potentials. Freedom does not exclude reality; it enables its impact to make a disclosure: quite the reverse.
Hence in this pre-temporal liberty as foreknown to God, there is no slightest insulation against the potency and potentials of the flesh, relative to outcomes considered; it is just that they are known without having to prove themselves in historical action, in order to be apparent. In their own relatively small level, poets, architects and authors may have this realisation of what is the ESSENTIAL feeling, spirit, character of something or someone held in mind. There is no need to have it written or built first. In our limited cases, it might help to have such struts. Where God is the operator, with the perfection of knowledge, discernment and understanding, this is not so, being contrary to the biblical model provided. Hence God knows the REALITIES of the case, these in no degree truncated.
There is therefore no exaltation in being saved, for it is - if not in historical movement at this point, yet - in actuality-fidelity that it is known. What is known is rather that DESPITE all the vulnerabilities and trends, weaknesses and potent follies to which the spirit of man, the life, may be liable, and in no way removed from the reality of contest, in the end, this soul prefers Christ and that one does not. The necessity of redemption is not removed. The actuality of the spiritual configuration is not altered. The ways of the will are not made glorious because foreseen; and the depths of sin are not excluded from the map because it is not the historical reality which is the focus in this foreknowledge phase.
The nature of the soul is seen in terms of ultimate preference. What it takes to deliver from servitude to sin, this does not alter; and no special virtue in man attaches to the divine envisagement or hypostasis, because in truth it exhibits the soul.
Whatever is needed in history, for illustrative, teaching or reality check is needed. God finds it relevant to the total aspiration and seeking, as we see indicated in the biblical text as shown.
It is the knowledge which precedes, not distorting but exhibiting and manifesting, which is in point. Just because God created that liberty, so it IS liberty and not a character component, as with chemicals. Those are not made in the image of God, just as a book is not made in my image, just because I wrote it. I could have had many things in mind. God in creation of man had in mind what was in His image; and He does not violate it in man. Never do you see Him using things to FORCE faith. In itself, that is bogus, for it is a thrust of trust in the soul which no other thing can invent.
Other things than the actual issue may help realisation; they may make certain blindness pursued by man as if they were art forms, to be exposed; but they do not in themselves force faith. God is not in the least like that, and His image in man, though vulnerable in its limitations and elevated potential desires, is nothing like that. Preference for light would be something else if it were preference for avoiding pain.
Test such as God frequently enacts, is not for possible mess-ups in creation, but for things given liberty concerning its essential usage (cf. Psalm 53:2, 11:4). God does not forbear to look to see what is in man, either historically or preveniently (cf. II Chronicles 32:31). Actions in history are not irrelevant because outcomes are known. On the contrary, they are illustrative for many are the witnesses, and much is the revelation in principle, packaged for consumption.
Hence the concept that man being and AS foreknown, and free in such a condition of envisagement, from sin and its distortive inhibitions, is not realised in his vulnerabilities is invalid. That would be merely to negate the model: that is, that man is free in the test situation. AS free in this crucial respect, whether the matter be seen in what is to come (not the mode here), or in what it IS in itself in its ultimate nature of will, it is the truth that is shown. Since all are in fact sinners, when we move on to existence on the earth, there is no change for this reason, namely that the realities are envisageable beyond action and sin. They are still there, not initially as the modes but as the ultimacies of desire (Romans 9:11). SINCE it is free, there is and can be no question of tilt. If there were, it would be a deterministic matter, as if the image of God were of something He made, a mere total confusion, not to say contradiction.
If you are going to examine something, examine it, not some synthesis.
This being so, there is no possible ground for alleged merit in those who are FOREKNOWN, because of their preference. Neither a conferred or differential this or that of CHARACTER, type or nature, can be influential here, since if it were, freedom would instantly become irrelevant. It is when will - contrary to the Bible, is not made relevant within the biblical total picture, as a matter God considers in selection, that you arrive at a philosophic substitute for the quesdtion.
It is when will is excluded here that something else, not therefore an item of freedom, has to come to play, and you end with the kind of X-factor as noted elsewhere (cf.
Predestination and Freewill 82 (PF), The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, pp. 57ff. ; PF 28-42, 116-148, with pp. 121ff., To Know God, the Power of Christ's Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings, Ch. 1_).
Some spirits are very proud, vain in their eventual orientation, some touchy to a point, some vicious in dissembling, some specious and so forth; but the foreknowledge of the realities does not make it easier for them, as if knowing them to be there made them not to be there!
It does not give them some slant supervening the reality of will and imposing itself beyond liberty. That would make the divine knowledge in foreknowledge not to be knowledge but ignorance! It is the absence of slant by the creation of liberty that makes God's creation of man, however much now distorted by millenia of woeful wills, which ensures that outcomes are manifestations of reality for each person. It is not a matter of divine exclusiveness in desire, which He denies emphatically and dramatically, but of the impact of truth, which is exclusive of error to be sure, on the liberty-acting agent in view: man himself.
Thus God in His wisdom in the Bible presents the utterly internally harmonious depiction of the arena of liberty and predestination, love and salvation, duty and truth, which exists. ONLY because He is THERE and THUS able to act in these dimensions is liberty possible. Only then is the whole scope of the diverse features of creation in this field able to be grounded, neither in self-contradictory deterministic affronts to reason (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7), or in airy autonomies which are manifestly subject to things way beyond them, making it merely an arrogation of desire, to be what one is not.
Neither of these painful misdeployments in their contrary extremes, cover the data, as shown in Predestination and Freewill, for example, and more broadly in the Predestination and Freewill Heptad; but what is in the Bible covers empirically every aspect, not only explaining their existence, but their persistence and maintenance.
Without God, man is merely ridiculous and his theories no less (Romans 1:17ff.); and that is why he is always on the slide, barking at the night, whether in philosophy or in wars of other kinds. There is no other solution either practically or in reason, and hence politically or personally. That is not so bad. If one says that 2 plus 2 equals 4 is part of a workable mathematical system, that does not strike terror in the heart. If so, good.
If one says that the only way to have water service a town is by an uphill reservoir, this is not calamitous and contentious, troublesome or to be scorned. If it so serves, why not let it! When as here there is independent logical constraint to the same God, then it all fits so well (LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST) that the explanation of rejection of the whole field, of the Creator-Redeemer, by many, becomes an exercise in fulfilment of the word of God concerning the current pathological state of man (cf. Romans 1:17-20), and that analysis likewise fits and confirms in its superior explicatory power, the same word of God, which fails nowhere. Is that so sad ? Only if one insists on preference for darkness, as the Bible indicates.
Groping is a work where light is ignored or bypassed, but it can lead to realisation in the midst of divine grace and mercy; covenantal closure, that is, sure faith in Christ and reception of both Himself and of His words, as is befitting for God, remains as necessary as food for the body, water for the mouth or understanding for the heart. Without God, without the living God, without the Creator-Redeemer, there is neither hope nor peace nor wisdom. With Him, there is the One who made man and knows the liberty granted, the love intended and the felicity of faith, without which, directed faith to its just object, no man will see the Lord.