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Why stop at John 3:16 ? what of 3:17-19!

Give special attention to To Know God ... Ch. 1


See also: The Uncomprehending Darkness ... Ch. 10.



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is, then, this ACTUAL limitation, that this love in this way was NOT, repeat not concerned with judgment. That was outside its scope in the coming, outside its thrust, and anything residual was beyond this motivation and this mission. Though results come, this was not the pith, not the presentation, not the mission.

It is not on the love thus positively and negatively encased in clarity like that of the heavens on a clear day, no, and not on its field, that same world that was judged in the days of Noah. Then, after much longsuffering, God resolved to judge. This, John 3:16, yes with 3:17, it was no such mission, nor did such a commission towards the world animate it. In this saving mission, JUDGMENT HELD NO PART. Motivation did not come from judgment but from love, and the love was not to destroy but "that the world might be saved."

Of the same world in this respect, we read in II Peter 3:5-7:

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

It is the same word, kosmos, from which we get cosmos, the world, that is used, and the same world. God loved it. It is just as in Colossians 1:19ff., where it pleased the Father that in Christ all fulness should dwell, and having made peace by the blood of the Cross to reconcile all things, yes all, whether in heaven or on earth, to Himself. Heavens ? covered. Earth ? covered. Mission ? discovered, declared, decisive, defined.

He sent His only begotten Son because of His love for it, to save all who believe. He engaged in this plan of salvation involving incarnation, incarceration, crucifixion, resurrection because of this love for the world. That is what it says. He who is true speaks it. It is so.

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


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


if anyone loving contrariety


or being magnificently unprepared to receive a direct statement


should not accept this divine assurance at face value,


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


such an observer


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


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


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


then this gives the answer.


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

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

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

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

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

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


NOT ONLY was this same world that was created, that was judged in the flood,
which lies in the wicked one, the stated object of a divine love that gave Royal Remedy
even in that acme of input, the only begotten Son of God. IN so being the target
of this remedial love of God, who sent His Son INTO this world, man is met by no ulterior ,
no limiting, no contrary divine design whatsoever. Not only is His positive declaration
a total cover of His intention, but His negative safeguard precludes any distortion of His utterance.

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

It is not only distasteful to contend for a better rating in an examination, but when authority can axe one's freedom of speech as well, and this at any time, it becomes unwise to speak, lest beauty in the word of God be arrested, or liberty be lost in meaningless mud. If one is to speak, one must have liberty to do so, not be like Holland, ready to be parachuted before acting. While this Class sermon was passed, it was by the barest margin, despite a First Class result for Public Speaking (on a mutually attractive topic) from the same authority.

To be sure, another student publicly reproved the Lecturer for his conduct. Yet this authority in any case, did nothing to remove the ineluctable mandate of the word of God written, as shown above (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 1, *1, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4), but merely, as it were under cover of a suppressive order on silence, paraded irrelevant philosophy , preconceived ideas, which God did not speak in the Bible. It was not to the point in such an environment to speak again, the Colossians 1:19ff. work having already been successful in the theology course proper, when the Professor graciously gave the author the opportunity to speak without interruption or silencing, or even the menace of it; or answer!

Thus this episode in the Preaching Class merely marked the danger in any seminary, however otherwise good it might be, of breaching the scriptural command of I Corinthians 1:11, 3:3-9. Here, not once but twice, the apostle speaks against the following of some school of individual Christians, such as would allow one to say 'I am of Paul' or 'I am of Apollos'. If Paul may not be so cited, how much less Calvin! It was the undue devotion to such a school as his, which has marvellous features and some sad errors, which by its manifest error is reminding us to be thankful for the good, but not to take the system of any one Christian, always being free with ONE NAME ONLY, that of Christ as teacher.

Failure to do this tends gravely to lead to pugnacity, lack of refinement, traditionalism (similarly condemned in Mark 7:7ff.), and needless division. It is also an act of disobedience, ready for defilement of the word of God by having models forbidden in such a role. It is better to learn from God than cite men, and to seek to protect their specious philosophies, even when, as here, it is done with the intent of acting wisely and well. It is the word of God which is the criterion, and such 'schools' are expressly forbidden.

It is above all, this sort of error which seems to close eyes to the obvious, as when Christ berated them for CLOSING their EYES LEST they should be converted and He should save them. He is not berating Himself for ensuring this, but them for needlessly so afflicting themselves, as in Matthew 13. If EVEN IN THIS THEIR DAY (Luke 19:42ff.), as Jesus Christ declared, they had known the things which belong to their peace, they would not so have suffered as they did, some 40 years later, the entire destruction of their city. He did not weep at His own obstruction, but theirs; not at His own exclusion, but theirs. If the thing was settled before all time, it was not settled by some other God. HE mourned their folly in the face of His available liberation, did not mourn the ineffectuality of His provision! He wept for them, not for His own ineptitude; for if there is any who ever lacked this quality in all things, it is He! (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 2, Christ, the Wisdom and the Power of  God Ch. 8).

He would like them, in love, to be saved, since the world was so loved. He did not come to seal their judgment, even if this resulted; His will was to come to cause them to EVADE it, AVOID it.

Alas this is to precious to be spread before invading feet. It is clear that one of the chief dangers in the church is precisely this theological and anti-logical cliquishness, that Paul so well rebuked. This error not only helps to divide the brethren by what after all is the word of man, but to take pride or pleasure in doing so, like contrary groups cheering in a fight.

The fight is against Satan, the adversary, not non-conformists to the esoteric devices of those, even of great stature, who follow one line, but do not complete the paragraph, one theme but do not complete its configuration in the whole.



It is necessary to be thankful for the good, and some of it is great material, but not to follow the name, the trade-mark, the school; for there is one school and one teacher whose name is Jesus Christ. It is He who says so (Matthew 23:8-10 cf. I John 2:27). There is thus one Teacher who is neither a sect leader, nor a party divider. It is in the utmost degree sad that such great insights as those of Wesley on the love of God, following scripture, and those of Calvin on the plan of salvation of God, in outline following scripture, became sites of partisanship, instead of mutual advance stations!

As to the latter, his decretum horribile concept, his dreadful decree, found in his Institutes, Book 3, Section 23, part 7 is not horrible in itself but in its designation by Calvin. Trying to make a thing mysterious beyond knowledge, unfathomable with knowledge on this earth, the predestining grace of God, Calvin speaks of God's "incomprehensible plan" (Institutes Ch. 23, part 1), and acts as if there were some sovereignty beyond revelation, and contrary to it, so that God condemns "for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for His own children."

This of course is nearly farcical, for it makes will exclusive of reason, whereas God calls us to give a reason, and calls to reason (Isaiah 1:18), and declares that it is in sinful wrestling that man is holding down the inescapable reasons for His being and nature (Romans 1:17ff.). What will has no reason but itself, that is thoughtful, or even thought out. Reason is part of the nature of man in the image of God, and God in fellowship continually reasons with man.

Apart from that, the reason is stated, as we have seen and will see further, in the Bible repetitively (cf. SMR Appendix B). There is nothing even remotely incomprehensible about it, since God has shown its comprehension in words clear and simple, safeguarded and sure, as we have witnessed above.

This descent to mystery, in a realm which  God has revealed is the essential lapse in Calvinism. Of course there is mystery in this, that the wonders of the grandeur of God are infinite; and equally, of course there is no mystery in this, that He chooses to reveal His motivation and desire and heart in matters concerning His love, man, the Gospel and His amplitude. It is like a child of 7 saying, Oh the mystery of 3 plus 3 equally 6! when the teacher has just shown how it is. Yes, says the child (a budding Einstein off track), but the mysteries of calculus are such that I cannot really trust that 3 plus 3 are 6.

That! it would be to impugn the knowledge of the teacher, and not at all to give respect to it, for she affects to teach the truth! With God, He does not affect, but Christ DECLARES that this, the truth,  is what He speaks (John 8:26,28,40, 12:48-50), and that the words He speaks are at the direct command of His Father.

For his part, Calvin continually so seeks to rebut the concept of God having a divine desire which He does not implement, speaking over and over again of His will being His, His alone, within itself (which thing, all three of its statements, is entirely correct and entirely irrelevant to the point at issue), that in practice if not in purpose, he prefers to follow the philosophic outcomes in his own mind of this idea, to what is written. That God should in Christ seek for the lost, and weep for their final rejection of Himself BECAUSE they will now be finally lost, is this in some way a breach of divine singularity and ultimacy ? In what way then is this to be thought to be so ? ]

If love FINDS it right not to force, and yet to seek, and those sought as well as those found, yes and those lost, see and find this exhibit of the true and scripturally revealed nature of God, and this not once but continually, is this not in some way an occasion to LEARN from this sovereign nature of God, what it is like ? rather than to push it into some philosophical bag and alter what Christ, the truth, has to say, in order to make it fit with some other 'Father', with some other will than that of His Son, or some other sender, or some other sent one who is not in His Son. As to that Son, He is found in definitive representation of deity,  as Hebrews directly asserts!  It is useless to speak of accommodation; whatever else is accommodated, truth cannot be so.

If the exact representation of His Father failed to give the nature of His love, then He would have failed utterly and Hebrews would be ludicrous, John 14:9 wholly erroneous. It is not however the word of God which is wrong, since He knows Himself and is the truth; rather it is Calvin who in this point errs, the scholar who has no such advantage and here does not at all abide in the word of God written.

It is time these errors of Calvin ceased to be opportunities for dissension, additives to his excellent contribution, and were unceremoniously dismissed.

Let us here cite concerning his decretum horribile, his horrible decree, which Calvin despite scripture, conceives as coming in some mysterious fashion from the hidden heart of God. What does Calvin say here ? This ...

"The decree is horrible indeed, I confess. Yet no one can deny that God foreknew what end man was to have before He created him, and consequently foreknew because He so ordained by His decree."

It is one of the marvels which humble man, and make him wait ONLY on his God, and relish that CHRIST ONLY is His teacher as commanded (Matthew 23:8-10), and this as expressly declared by the Saviour Himself, that anyone with Calvin's wit and power, could be so temporarily blind as this signifies.

Let us re-phrase what he has said, so that it CONFORMS with what Christ said, and Paul and all the prophets show, as in Hosea 11:8, so like Matthew 23:37:

"How can I give you up, Ephraim?

How can I hand you over, Israel?

How can I make you like Admah?

How can I set you like Zeboiim?

My heart churns within Me;

                           My sympathy is stirred."

Similarly, but with a different outcome,  we read in Jeremiah 51:9:

"We would have healed Babylon,
but she is not healed:
forsake her..."

Again in Hosea 7:1 we have this concerning Israel:

"When I would have healed Israel,

                           Then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered..."

In perfect harmony comes Ezekiel 33:11 as of course, the rebuke to Jonah, since he too readily sought the destruction of sinful Nineveh, which was to be destroyed, but in the careful mercies of God, not then.

"Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, "If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?" ’ "Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ "

It is all summed up in I Timothy 2 and Colossians 1, moreover, in principle (cf.  Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Chs.   7 and   9)).

The same desire that John 3:16 focusses in simplest principle and that John 3:17 protects with divine determination and resolution, is to be found constantly in the Bible.

Now does the fact, as cited by Calvin, that GOD SO FOREKNEW BECAUSE HE SO ORDAINED BY HIS DECREE, have ANYTHING whatever to do with HOW He so foreordained! If you decide to whip someone, does this even comment on the grounds of your decision, the nature of your character or the relationship between the two ? You could whip rather than allow some who would prefer to skin the victim! You could whip instead of having capital execution. You could whip in the hope that it would help remedy arrogance, and because the criminal had evilly whipped someone in mere pique!

If God foreknew that some would be rejected (and He did) and ordained that this would be so (and He did - I Peter 2:8), does this in some way preclude His having so ordained despite His desire for their salvation, in view of the nature of His love, that it does not break, so that there was no other way to redeem such! If however He had broken them, broken the reality of the image of God in them, and all relevant facilities towards self-determination, so that they were empty of personal reality altogether, He would not have redeemed people, but bought up bits. In what way does Calvin isolate sovereignty from personality, as if it ran the person, and not vice versa!

God certainly sovereignly decides what is to be, but there is nothing mysterious about the love which in Christ defined His own nature, since the One is the definitive image of the other, and to see the One is to see the Other, both  God.

If God IN love sovereignly FOREKNOWS who are reached by this love according to His own nature and desire, and who are not, and then, as in Romans 8:;20ff., in view of this foreknowledge, in logical sequence (it is before time, so it is not relevant to talk here of chronological sequence - Ephesians 1:4), sovereignly decrees the result, what has this to do with mystery ? We see all day long the love which yearns, but will not violate; the love which ceases towards an object in terms of marriage, because this has no response at the relevant level. We do not talk of some mysterious sovereign love which TAKES the person anyway; but of horrible force, wilful violence and vilely unhuman lust.

God is not lustful but loving. This is HOW HE IS. If then, being thus, He yields rather than violate the love that He is, or the love that is in view, in what way is this either mysterious, a problem or some kind of whip by which to lash people into Calvin's peculiar philosophy! It is infinitely irrelevant, since it does not relate to the protestation of the infinite God! It merely circumvents His direct utterance.

bullet The only thing horribile about the decretum horribile of which Calvin speaks, is his invention of it.

Let us now recall from Predestination and Freewill (Section II, on Calvin) a little further on this topic.


Calvin stoutly asserts that God has not two wills. Yet he notes Christ's lament and yearning love for Jerusalem: His appealing and appalling invitation. Certainly this was the will of God. Again he notes God had determined through inaccessible prudence that He did not on any account desire the deliverance of the city, that He would ensure its exclusion from repentance grants, although these were readily accessible to Him for the purpose. This: but we are forbidden to conclude that God has two wills!

The point, he affirms, is that the will of God is manifold in operation, that is all. It is not two; but to be conceived in two aspects: the one superficial and revealed, the other quintessential and concealed. Christ's lament, in effect, becomes an urge of will but the divine current was set in the opposite direction. This is the sense of Calvin's protestation about the wills, when it is considered.

It is unavoidable to perceive that this would mean that the divine essence of Christ is here muted or countermanded in motion: a mere ploy in intensity, as far as word is concerned... since He suited deeds to words ­ this would apply to deeds also.

Now Calvin does not mean to downgrade Christ: he is vocally intense in the opposite direction. Moreover, he customarily exhibits great acuity in expounding Scripture. But we here find Christ an eddy on a current: such is not the Deity who is the Christ. What then has produced this result?

{Cf. Calvin's Institutes, Book 3, Ch. 24, Section 17.

As for Christ's lament and statement of gathering in Matthew 23:37: Calvin's disregard here of the clear exposure of the heart of the incarnate God is a hiatus in the life of the divine picture, for which scripture gives no ground. If the "form" of God is not on earth as it is heaven, yet when we come to Christ's word: "He who has seen Me, has seen the Father", this is known,  because He expressly changed His form (John 1, Philippians 2), but not His reality (Heb. 1:3, Mal.3:6, John 8:58). Accordingly, rejection of a divine statement of heart and principle, for one at variance from it, is no interpretation! Concerning Matthew 23:37, see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Appendix A as also Ch.8, pp.

There seem to have been at least two reasons ­ the one predisposing, the other imposing. First is the noted tendency to downgrade revelation in general (again not characteristically, but solely in the manner noted). As the area affected must involve Christ, the word of God, His manifestation as such of the Father must suffer if the application of the sovereign principle is affected. Here we see how important an operational principle of revelation can become. Pressed by this principle of sovereignty, Calvin composed this theory of wills, although it is clearly obvious that no unitary being can will two precisely opposite willings in the same respect at the same time and do so with a unitary will: a point Calvin did not adequately pursue.

What then? If there is not this disjunction between this manifested will of Christ and the alleged secret will debarring Jerusalem whilst Christ was pleading with bared heart all those years ­ if there is not this disjunction of will, it must rather be between wills ­ say between the incarnate and paternal persons of the Trinity. On the one hand, will would be destroyed; while on the other, the Trinity.

Calvin means and allows neither. If then we cannot revert to two wills, perforce we must conclude that Calvin's system of sovereignty requires modification. We cannot have this secret will contradict this revealed will; we cannot accept contentions concluding in a theoretical splitting of the Trinity. But we can now understand any tendency to present Calvin's system as being Theo­ and not Christo­centric in the sense mentioned, excluding Christ from the election procedure: for the Son who manifested the Father in effect is not in Calvin's predestination essence ­ not as He was revealed. It is there, however, as we noted in our preliminary rebuttal, there as in all God's works that our data demands Him ... and He responds readily to appeal to His word.

If accommodation allowed this move, sovereignty appears to have given it impetus; and this in our second reason for the erection effectually, of two wills in Calvin's theory. He could assume an inference from the power of God and the fact of perdition - to a sovereign will which must perforce contradict the words of Christ. This problem of perdition, in an area of divine power, nevertheless does not require as it cannot allow this solution.

It does not warrant a conclusion that that character of love was not incorporated in the predestining process. Rather, in accord with revelation, we would say that though incorporated, it did not incorporate the lost souls in its resultant.


It is one of the beautiful features of God, that while we humans, even when so gifted as was Calvin, can err at times in ways all but unbelievable, HE NEVER DOES. He never fails (Zephaniah 3:5). We can forget all our foolish fads, and simply be grateful for His glorious self, so assured and without error, and for what is to be found in our history, never to be glorified or too highly esteemed, but received with grace and humility, testing all things in the light of His word, that infallible repository of a majesty never horrible, always loving, never impure.

Look at Zephaniah 3:5:

"The Lord is righteous in her midst,

He will do no unrighteousness.

Every morning He brings His justice to light;

He never fails,

                           But the unjust knows no shame."

bullet So we happily leave Calvin's decretum horribile in the light of God's decretum mirabile,
that God SO loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
He would have ALL to be reconciled to Him, through the blood of the Cross
(Colossians 1:19ff.), He reveals (cf. I Corinthians 2:9-13), 
and this is the nature of His most manifest, most inner and most revealed counsel
against which no thought of man stands. When GOD is speaking,
it is best simply to listen, understand and proceed WITH IT!!

What then, this horrible decree of which Calvin in collision with scripture, speaks, it is not only unnecessary, a dimming of the light of the glorious Gospel of God, but like a midget aircraft, contesting for size with a vast cloud, like a mite in the maw, it is lost in the grandeur it can neither imitate nor suppress.

It is in fact an outrageous outage limiting the awesome input.

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory,
to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the width and length and depth and height—
to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

It is the LOVE of God which is mysterious, and that in this sense, that it is so vast that reservoirs could not contain it, universes could not sate it, libraries could not slate it, billions of lovers could not equate it.

While there are, as John 3:19,36 so clearly indicates, deplorable results of rejecting this illimitable offer of embracive, practical and reconstitutive love, these so far from being contradictory, are complementary, and that in the most explicit manner. Small wonder that Berkhouwer in his Divine Election speaks of a certain indirectness, consequential character in reprobation. To be sure, there is to be the chaff, but it has long to grow, and the interventions of God before it becomes so.

What! force the God-despisers into heaven, so that it might be hell to them ? They go to their own place, where the desired absence is present. It is not because of the nature of the love of God, as if it were mysteriously exclusive, but despite its nature, that it is graciously inclusive, that this self-assignment in man, this pollutant preference, becomes acknowledged. All this however is as in the knowledge of God, not of man, whom sin makes nothing but an object of divine mercy.

Therefore, that such a decree for salvation, only suffering lostness to continue at WILL (John 3:19), should be, is to the utmost decree delectable (John 3:18), and this comes from a number of considerations. Firstly, it does not violate. Secondly, it pays the infinite cost of the Cross on the part of the second Person of the Trinity, which, He being Himself infinite in nature and infinitely intimate, is a cost to God. Thirdly, there is the wonder and glory that there no error, no chance, no mood, nothing short of absolute reality determining the issue, so that none is without God by HIS divine desire, but only contrary to it. Meanwhile, within His rest, His people know no condemnation (John 3:18), while outside it, there is what is left, which does not break into meaningless submission, but continues in its own way, while He awakes what is His own. There is no tyranny with God, a fourth dimension of delectability.

We have then this sublime, scriptural declaration in love.

 It is a publication, a proclamation an intimation of divine love with which all scripture resounds, whether in the tears from a head to be made like a fountain, of Jeremiah, or the weeping of Christ over Jerusalem which, since it did not know in that time of opportunity, its day, the things that belonged to its peace - not to add, that it did effect their removal by crucifixion - would suffer the destruction which sin, wilfully unmet, proceeds to bring to its agents. Indeed, it is exhibited also in the churning of the Lord as shown in Hosea 11, in impassioned appeals or lamentation as in Isaiah 1, 48:16, in deliberate pronouncements of principle as in I Timothy 2, or Colossians 1, abundant outpourings as in John 3:16, carefully protected against the limitations which sin loves to contrive: and we follow it. Why ? It is because it is there. It is a glory that it is there, and a shame if it be ignored; and that shame can provide not only sham in theology, but counter-sham where man is made the AGENT, as if it were not true just as much, that it is NOT of him who wills, but of God who liberates by His own will, without violation, or chance, or error of any kind.

It is in fact one of the acmes of beauty, the excellencies beyond the empyrean, that God is as He is, and that He has so loved that He has so sent and so sacrificed that man might with such freedom and certainty, yet without tyranny, be found.



GOD does the choosing.

Man, in this area, is disabled from it by sin (I Cor. 2:14).

In His divine love of the singular soul, in this illimitable dimension of His purity and holiness, there is a liberation of the lost freely (Romans 3:23ff.), free for them but not for Him who does the paying (cf. Luke 22:40ff.), based on a foreknowledge that does not look at the chained consequences of the universal blight on mankind (Ephesians 2:1-12, 4:17-19, Romans 6:23, cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 7) as a limit to His wisdom or a rebuttal to His discernment. The Lord knows beyond what sin universally excludes. He knows all things. It is based therefore, as His word states, in HIS KNOWLEDGE.

It is founded on the divine knowledge of the persons concerned, not on their acts, whether of (relevantly) disabled will or work for that matter. Seeing beyond all, and being over all, it knows nothing of being stricken by a state, as if God Himself were paralysed; but He knows with whom it deals, and knowing, knows comprehensively. Just as the will is CITED divinely as the segregative cause in the face of the declared love for this world, so its operative power is known to Him, past all theory, and beyond any history. Where sin does not impel, where God is knowing beyond any pathology or condition, there is no differentiation because of it, so that merit or capacity is not relevant (as in Ephesians 2:12, Romans 9:11). God knows thus who are His own. This He says, and this is the case (I Timothy 2:19).

Simply,  to limit the sort of knowledge which God has is mere invasion of His word, mockery of His protestation, for His greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145). To Him and for Him and through Him a re all things, not some merely (Romans 11:33). What He does, He does well.,

THUS and  therefore we ACCEPT what He says, follow its reasons and grounds when He gives them, and do not restrict Him in terms of our notions. His thoughts are above ours as the heavens are above the earth, and yet He desires our eyes open, and our ears, that we might UNDERSTAND and gives a spirit of illumination (Ephesians 1), and makes it clear to the one who understands since, in principle, this is open to man.

HENCE we do not ADD to His word (by circumscribing His knowledge - forbidden in Proverbs 30:6), or SUBTRACT from it (by limiting His own expressions of His love, as if we were His counsellors - denied in Isaiah 40); but we accept it.

If HE did not act, none could be saved. Since He does, many are saved. It is His initiative, His sublime and sovereign operation, who freely acknowledges that He is love (I John 4:7ff.). You seek love ? here it is. You seek  an embracive love  ? here it is. You seek force, violence and mere arrogant pressure ? then you may seek it elsewhere, and it never works, for it is contrary to the very nature of man, always resented or making its victims into a mess, a ministry of doom. Man moreover is made in the image of God, to which salvation restores him (Colossians 3:10). Created, derivative, sinful as he is, man is yet in that image, and its desecration paid for, its regeneration is secured by Christ, the Redeemer.

Hence when the purpose of God stands, it is our best guarantee of the marvellous, not some horrible exhibition of the scripture-contradicting, inventive mind of man as if for inscrutable reasons God had resolved to exclude not only some but the truth from His own statement concerning this! His purpose stands because it is KNOWN, and it is known because nothing is hidden from Him whose love He states and implements in His own way with an exactitude and realism which nothing dims, before whom all things are manifest. It stands because He knows, because He has said, neither denying Himself nor His word, nor seeking to profiteer from this world as if He lacked, nor contradicting Himself in word and deed, as if a dilettante without wisdom or unity; but fulfilling His will with His word and His works with both. Moreover,  He is one as the 10 commandments advise us, and Ephesians 4:4 asseverates.

No more is there some mysterious X-factor*1, in terms of which God mysteriously chooses what pleases Him; and if it pleases Him, what so well as superior godliness! This contradicts scripture and is merely one of the pitfalls of forgetting what He has SAID. Now the will-in-sin is the cause, and stated to be so by God, so that its dimensions and dynamic, being clear to Him, beyond all we could know in our sin, work no exclusion for Him; and He, seeking all, takes His own.

It is statedly not a preference based on works, then, for God, but based on will, for man; and God who knows all, knows what He is doing.  In other words, in a foreknowledge statedly exclusive of works as a criterion, as equally of a discriminating distinction based on superior ability, or any power, merit, ability or proclivity which sinful man possesses or could possess, and apart entirely from works which history will reveal, but based only on the divine knowledge, there is the analytical power of God to know; and He does know and so fulfils His stated love for this world, and knowing His own, takes them. With this profound motivation of love, that all, in heaven or in earth indeed, might be reconciled to Himself in view of the blood of the cross, He has sent His Son to die. He has said it and biblical Christian theology has no other course than to accept this.

Is it so hard to accept such news as this! Truly this is good news. It could not be better!

Where however the ultimate preference, not merely in the mind of man, but in the mind of God who knows man better than he knows himself, is for darkness in the very face of light, what is the result ?  That is allowed, at length, its own way when in the divine knowledge it is seen past all tenderness and entreaty, to be otherwise.

To be sure it is condemned already in such a rejection (John 3:18), but as God said to Cain, "If you do well, will you not be accepted ? and if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." Does he wish even now so to do ? is this now his preference ? does this become the all consuming desire of his heart ? Such is the divine probe in Genesis here. It is not God who by foreknowledge prevents, but who knowing all, has already implemented the truth of the matter. So far from restricting such movements, it ensures that they are not aborted, since He would have ALL men come to Him, and NO technical 'problems' are even possible.

If it is felt that God CANNOT do this, does not so know, then it is clear that the resistance comes from a failure to perceive the power of God or His wisdom. In His pre-temporal sight, He knows what He is talking about since HE ONLY can know what He does. Not philosophy in its blind binders, but the word of God must be the determinant about the nature, practice, motives and plans of God! and it is this which allows us the ground to interpret the mind of Christ in whatever things HE desires us to know.

Do we know all ?

Of course not, since only God knows all;
but do we know what He has shown ?

Of course, since God is superlative in expression, and has even sent His eternal Word in human form to show it direct, palpable, tangible, visible, active, responsive, declarative in word, deed and parable, in principle  and in that aweful practice, the practice of mercy that cost Him His life on earth, while those of no worth, made mockery of Him as He did it. 



Neither character nor works nor mysterious theological counter-cultures, gratuitously governed and philosophically pushed into the word of God, as if it were still blank to be written upon, or even ostensibly into the mind of God, contrary to His statement: none of these are the reason for the exclusion from the eternal presence, from eternal life.

God says what does it, and speaks with the wisdom of His pre-temporal knowledge, where knowing all as only God can known, He assigns as only God can assign. It is a preference for darkness, divinely assessed, and since it is only sin which gives different degrees of perception of what man must know to live or not live, itself darkening wisdom in the ultimate for which and by whom man is made, God deals above all, beyond all, for all, in the love of all. If,  in the end, some become cumulatively so unified with sin that the detachment procedure ceases, then love proceeds in its glorious and triumphant way, taking some one would never imagine would be His, leaving others whose glorious morals might have made them seem certainly His.

Perhaps pride has been their downfall, and autonomy their triumph that makes tragedy its pall-bearer.

With the utmost divine desire, God desires for man to be saved, but not so that man becomes in the process, a myth, or love force. Let then God be God, and let not man prescribe to HIM what is man's estimation of frustration or failure. Indeed,  much of man's own nature is just so, in God's image, willing to love, and when the love is pure, willing to release, not willing to manipulate but in integrity leaving the release where it applies: that does not make love a sequence of the subservient, but a prelude to service.

It is only when man lets God be God, that he can understand the word which rules, His entire sovereignty, illimitable grace, inalienable mercy, insuppressible integrity, unpollutable love, magnificent patience, how they  merge in wonder, a brilliant splendour which darkness and its lovers neither can nor would behold. This, moreover, only witlessly can darkness deride; nor can derogation decry.

The reader may wish to see further Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 11, even the Predestination Trilogy, or The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, which latter takes Calvinism's tulip, and sees how good the flower is, when planted in the biblical bed, not that of philosophy; and contemplate the delights in many other flowers and signals, which are considered for their contribution no less.

Thus in Christianity, whether in this or any other realm, there is nothing that is not solved; and this is not true of any other religion, philosophy or enterprise of man's thought. God speaks and gives understanding that we might hold to our hearts, with one wisdom and one knowledge, what He has chosen to divulge. Always with a gratitude all but impossible to contain within any limit, we find that His words are so cohesive that no glue can be emulous, so filled with light that no dazzling sight can even be comparable, so pellucid that no lake in its stillness can come near to its rating.

Therefore, avoiding needless collisions when philosophy enters its words into those of God and makes a hullabaloo of value to none, valueless schisms, partisan patriarchs of theology, but being thankful for every good contribution which is made over the massive history of more than three millenia, the Church of God, now particularised since the Messiah as the people of Christ, should continue steadfast, abiding in the word of God, knowing that if a Christian abides in Him and His words in the heart of the believer, he can ask what he will, and have it done (John 15:7).

God did not say (Proverbs 8:8) that His word of wisdom is ALL clear to him who understands, because He had caused it to be obscure, but because it can be made clear when one abides in it. If then there is much yet to learn, yet let us first learn this.

While we ought all to forgive those who err, and seek ardently not to join them where they err, and even seek if by any means perhaps those who assault the word of God might be reached (as in the closing verses of Jude), we must mightily magnify the word of God, not dully speak as if mystery were the name of obscurity, and obscurity that of oddity.

There is nothing but preciousness in this word, and to slackly let it become less than clear is mere estrangement, laziness or both, or confusion itself, when the church has been given what it needs to glorify Him! These things being so, we must seek with all understanding a unity about the word of God which captious thought cannot invade, moved with awe at His clarity, at that word, Gospel and grace that love and sovereign wisdom can grant, and nothing dismiss.

How pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133); and this is how it is to be found, about the written word of God, like some charming log fire, placing comfort into the inner bones and suffusing the heart with delight at its very crackling. This written word is not to be tortured with devious additions, or confused misapplications in direct confrontation with it at this or that point, but held in its triumphant presence, to the heart, as one might embrace the very heart of an oak, for its sheer strength, stability and solidity (cf. Isaiah 33:16), joined with delicacy of filaments in Spring and delight in roving its massive arbours, if one only could!

It is not for torturous twisting that this magnificent grant is given to man, the written word of God, and it stands, like the Lord Jesus Christ, once tortured, now triumphant.

(Cf. SMR Ch. 5, Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 13, 16.)




Predestination and Freewill pp.  8228-42, 116-148, incl. pp. 121ff.,

The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.  4, pp. 57ff. 

The Power of Christ's Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings Ch.   1




A Simple Expository Rehearsal of  John 3:15-16 is here inserted for
Useful Overview and Ready Reference

Love Like This is the Major Discovery of Life

Compared with this barren searches on Mars are child’s play




First, God loved. That is the first revelation about His attitude to us, the people whom He made. How He could have hated is not our concern; the fact that He loves, is.

Next, it was not some aristocratic segment or section of the world that He loved, but "the world".

Useless and in vain is it for anyone to point out that different sections or aspects of the world may be meant by the term, as in the 'sporting world' and so on, 'the world of finance'. These are plausible and arresting uses of the term to cover the declared intent.

Here the declaration concerns two major entities: GOD and the WORLD. God, we read in Genesis 1, MADE the heaven and the earth and thus in II Peter 3:6-7, we find this:

"Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

So there is a clear coincidence of the meaning of "the world that then was" with its scope in the phrase "the heavens and the earth." What else! We are not discussing sub-enclaves but God and man, God the Maker and the world, the made. It is just the same in Colossians 1:19ff., where all in heaven or on earth are sought by the Lord, if by any means they might be reconciled to Him. I Timothy 2:4 is completely parallel,  as are that immense number of passages in the Bible which show the fatherly passion of the Lord, with mercy, patience and hope, in the plan of salvation, to rescue His people (cf. Hosea 7:1). In Timothy, we find there is "one God" and "one Mediator between God and man", who gave Himself for all, so that once again the dimensions of the action are pellucid, like a stream clear near the mountains, where you see with perfect clarity the fish swimming quietly on the bottom of the water course.

If your drug-broken son were to seek your home in his distress, would
your father's or mother's heart be immune ? Has not God made us in His own image ?  Does not Luke 15 show precisely this with the prodigal son!

Predestination is not the opponent, but the mode of divine implementation of that love which misses none who are His, fails to reach none who might be reached, is subject to no chance, inveterate, inexorable, yet restrained and gracious, is sure in its ways. Love such as this needs the protection of a sovereign God who not only knows what He is seeking, but how to obtain it. Eternity is far too precious to be subject or under subjection to any but … God Himself! In the curse on corruption, and the subjection of creation to vain things, until its outage becomes a successful site for restoration, and that is complete in the reconstitution of all things (Acts 3:19ff., Romans 8:18ff., cf. Beyond the Curse), this relished rule adds the sublimity of regality to the supernal love which it protects.


Loves ? This is actually concerning a past event, but God does not change. GOD SO LOVED... There is an enormous expansion of the mere concept, love. It is remarkable, notable, to be illustrated in detail by a work of great significance. Many may love a little, but fail under test; and many marriages break for that very reason. But GOD SO loves ...


It was not some mere emotional splendour, important as that would undoubtedly have been, which God showed. It led to action.  Let this be, once and for all,  a warning to those whose relationship to the Lord is NOT one of action. If you believe, you act; if you do not act, you do not believe. Faith, says James, without works is dead (James 2:20).

Not so is our exemplar, Creator and King! God so loved that He GAVE... Now to give a little to some charity is common; to give one's time to some  good work is not seldom seen. But to what are we here coming ? It is a love so marked, to this entire world, that a GIFT is used to express it. Perhaps He sent some emissary to earth, then ?


Emissary ? Son! Sometimes parents do even this. To Vietnam or elsewhere, they allow their children to go at incredible risk. Maybe, just maybe, they will be hurt or even, at the worst, killed. Not so here. THIS SON was sent on a mission which MEANT that He would be hurt, despised, forsaken, taunted, demeaned and desolate, and die slowly, very slowly in complete agony. God both foreknew this and detailed it in Isaiah 50-55. He knew JUST what He was doing. He knew just WHY He has doing it. It was out of love, and with grand purpose in view.

It was THIS which God showed when HE SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE HIS SON.


It is one thing, like Abraham, to have only one son, and to be willing to sacrifice even him. God however was not only willing, but actually ORDAINED that His Son would die.  SO GREAT WAS HIS LOVE to the world that IT PLEASED THE FATHER TO BRUISE HIM! (Isaiah 53:10). What love is this that can take its most beloved, and its only Son, and be pleased for that love, being in perfect accord with His Son, to bruise the Son so that millions might escape judgment, guilt and exclusion from the divine premises in heaven!

More than this, God by miraculous and directly divine creative power set in Mary's womb the Son of God, the Eternal Word who had been there with Him for all time and before it (John 17:1-3, Micah 5:1-3, John 1:1, Philippians 2), and this was His OWN being set in HUMAN format, as His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON. It was not like someone adopted, but HIS OWN,  HIS BEGOTTEN SON. Here was the offering of God to save men from their decrepit spiritual condition, and it was lively, lovely and pure, godly and indeed, the visible expression of the Word of God, God's utterance in flesh.

It was THIS unique, infinitely important, this unrepeatable expression of God, since in no way could God be two different persons as the WORD of God! He would die ONCE, it being inconceivable that He should die more than once, or that any such sacrifice could either be made of Him by others, or ever again (Hebrews 9:12ff). In one act, He wrought eternal redemption, we there read. To the uttermost, therefore, it was Christ Himself who thus gave all, His Father who yielded all, that to all there might come the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23), once and for all (John 6:40,50ff., 4:14,10:9, Romans 10:9, 5:9ff.).


No limit express or implied is here. IF YOU are part of this world, then to YOU is this love offered, this sacrifice and this remedy that releases your guilt and realises your true place in the Lord. If YOU do not desire it, so be it; but if you do, there is no way in which the Lord impedes! He loves, He so loves. To you alone is the responsibility if you refuse (John 3:19), and to God alone, who opens the hearts of sinful man, is the glory for all those who SO receive Him (Ephesians 2:8). As He is given, SO He must be received.


This same Jesus, being unique

¨  in works,

¨  in fulfilling whole ranges of prophecy,

¨  in His own predictions,

¨  in power,

¨  in His own masses of healings, even overcoming death and disease active in some from birth (Luke 6:19, Mark 12:15, John 7, 11-12), 

¨  in predicted death date,

¨  in Gospel message in detail in precise accord with the prediction of the prophets (Isaiah 49-55, Zechariah 6,11-12, Psalm 2, 16, 40 ...),

¨  in performance, in poise and power of the necessary task,

¨  all covered by God in the book of the Lord, the Bible, and completed by this blessed Messiah:

is He less to be trusted than is yourself ?

He can be rejected in favour of your own illustrious self; but how ludicrous! to even compare you or me, with Him!

You can say, I do not believe He is the Son of God, but then, since He is so predicted and so speaks (e.g. John 8:58, 5:19-23), you are calling Him more insane than someone, as Professor Lewis of Cambridge put it, who thinks he is a poached egg! The facts are against you in any such appalling imagination: since NO ONE has EVER said such things, covered such predictions, done such works or fulfilled such prophecies on coming to this earth, far less provided such consistent, persistent  truth both in and encompassing all time. This, it  is NOT at all the same as insanity! Scarcely... It is with precision, its opposite, its contradictory.

WHY then did God the Father send Him (as you see, God is sending God in Isaiah 48:16, a fact which depends on His being a trinity of persons, one God), but why ? It was so that men and women, yes and children could have God displayed before their very eyes, His compassion, His love, His self-discipline, His action,  His remedy, His Cross, His redemption, His resurrection so that men without hope, deprived of their Messiah could and did become fearless and driven by truth to proclaim His Gospel which captured the world.

Not for an assured spot in hell as frauds and liars did they risk their all on this earth as well. Candour was their language, patience their manner, fearlessness their mode, compassion frequently the very spirit of their endeavours. If multitudes of frauds have sought to cash in on this work, this too is predicted (II Peter 2:1, Matthew 24:24), and merely the more illustrates the signal nature of the founders, incandescent with the love and power of Christ, the things "we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20, 5:31-32). As God says, “He makes His servants a flaming fire …” (Psalm 104:4).

Eternal life is a gift so profound, so precious, drawing us free from the limitations of this body and world for ever (II Corinthians 5:1ff., I Cor. 15), that even the extreme cost to God of this Salvation Program was well worth it! HOW was it worth it ? It was because HE SO LOVED ...

In John 3:15, you see the parallel drawn between this climax of Christ at the personal level, on the cross, and Moses' setting up a brazen serpent on a pole, as a symbol which led to healing from snake bite which in itself was a rebuke for their unbelief. So Christ, bearing the sin of others upon Himself, was skewered on the Cross, to settle the accounts, break the evil, and arise to present life from the dead to those who, believing in Him, so qualified for eternal life (II Corinthians 5:17-21, I John 5:11ff.).

This, His Gospel, is authorised and empowered to be preached NOW… until the end comes (Matthew 24:14), and then HE comes, already Saviour and Lord, now Judge (John 5:19ff.).







Predestination and Freewill pp.  82 28-42, 116-148, incl. pp. 121ff.,

The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.  4, pp. 57ff. 

The Power of Christ's Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings Ch.