CALAMITOUS CONTENTION AND HOLY HARMONY
(Slightly revised in conjunction with a later volume, Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will)
Hunt's latest newsletter (August 2000)
has done it at last.
- LOVE - and SOVEREIGNTY
But WHAT a sovereign!
rather a reasonable review of some of the points in which he agrees with
Calvinism, he unleashes an assault where it does not belong, and omits the
precision of one where it does! First then let us look at this general field
of Biblical study, to gain perspective. Then we shall consider it in some
more detail. The double coverage will not be wasted. Talk for centuries
attests that. Thus be patient, gentle reader, and apply the mind!
It is of the greatest misfortune, arising out of hundreds of years of endless division and resultant declivity from important areas of scripture, that restless auto-sotericism (cf. Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 3), salvation by or though self in part or whole, is tweedle-dee, and aborted, truncated love of God is tweedle-dum. Neither is Biblical. Both fight, inveterately, unprofitably. What is profitable is the word of God, not these philosophical extrusions from culture and intrusions from presumption.
It is not that it is necessarily conscious. It is just that it is necessarily wrong. The reason ? The word of God as will be shown here and in our many references to this topic in this site, does not tolerate either option. Naturally and assuredly, therefore, we can expect such luttes à mort, the death struggles in any language which do not adorn the church.
So do they slog it out. Free-will fans (in part or in whole) ignore Ephesians 2:1-8, which cannot be circumvented, for it is both a negation of the one option, and an affirmation of the other, as likewise I Corinthians 2:14, which is just as clear and sure as is I Cor. 2:9-13, on the inspiration of scripture.
In this case, the natural man finds spiritual things foolishness, and DOES NOT RECEIVE THEM, says Paul. Now someone might twistingly, thrashing about, try to argue that the natural man (that is the unspiritual, the unconverted man, contrasted expressly with the child of God), might decide to be foolish. However even this enormity of insanity is precluded, for it also states expressly, this: that he does NOT RECEIVE THEM. How do you receive what you do not receive! The answer is clear: it cannot be done. If GOD precludes it, it is useless to assert that you can do it. This would require you to be greater than God, able to abort His program, His analysis, His power. That is simple delusion.
Hence NO part of freewill can operate in salvation. You are either converted or not. If not, you do not receive it. Until you are, therefore, you will not receive it. (See for ordo salutis, the order of salvation, SMR Ch. 6, end note 6, p.476.) If the MAN is NOT converted, and HENCE unspiritual, THENCE he cannot receive it. If he is unconverted, he is not a Christian. If he is not a Christian, HE cannot become one. It is outside his power. It is not a thing that he can do. It IS, however, most readily a thing that God can do. It is for this reason that He does it. He has the motive, in love; He has the knowledge, being non-sinful and not so limited as is the unconverted man; He has the power, being able to do whatsoever pleases Him in heaven and on earth (Psalm 115:3). As Jonah put it, THEREFORE, "SALVATION IS OF THE LORD".
YOU cannot contribute ANYTHING. If you are converted, then it is already done, and you indeed to receive Him. If you are not, then you CANNOT. Since you cannot receive Him, when unconverted, then until you are converted, you are defunct, a spent force, a hopeless cripple. This needs to be clear. Failure to realise this leads to endless difficulties in theology and in life, and justified ones. YOU cannot achieve it, relieve it, deliver it. God does all this. Thus as Paul says in Ephesians 2, BY GRACE are you saved (literally, having been saved), through faith; and that (i.e. grammatically, the whole cycle, not just 'faith') is NOT of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Now how a gift of God which is NOT of yourselves can be said to be in part an achievement which is of yourselves we shall leave to the lawyers; but in case they seek too far, let us add this. When you drive a car, you do not invent simultaneously, the mechanism of steering, or the existence of tyres beneath you. This is well understood.
The whole structure of the car, its engineering and modes of relationship of part to part, parts to environment, parts to whole, all this is NOT OF YOU. But if you see a car coming towards you, and swerve, this very definitely is of you. It would be ludicrous to pretend that you could say: My deliverance (speaking humanly apart from the grace of God) was not of myself, it was the gift of the car! Clearly we all know the obvious, that you are not the engineer. The relevant question is simple: DID YOU do something which, given the structure, environment and conditions, resulted in avoidance of accident ? Answer : Yes, I swerved. IF you had not swerved, would the structure of the car, the conditions have delivered you ? No, in one second the smash was about to happen. COULD you say it was not of yourself but the gift of the car, then ? Not at all.
So here. IF you make a difference without which the whole thing aborts, it cannot without flat and final self-contradiction be said that it is NOT of yourself, but on the contrary, the gift of God.
Thus Christ declares you did not choose Me, but I CHOSE YOU! (John 15), and Paul as we shall see further later, announces this truth: It is not of him who wills, but of God who shows mercy. The topic salvation and the access to divine mercy.
Auto-sotericism, self-salvation, instrumentally, episodically, as a contributor, is forbidden. As we shall shortly see, it aborts many theological facts, as well as having collision with numerous scriptures and the whole tenor of salvation. John 6 will add depth to our counsels when we return.
Nor however is it true that God does not LOVE those going to hell, is not bothered or concerned, does not, as one eminent (truly eminent) theologian stated, love in the same way; that he does not have that dynamic or diligence or reality or whatever may be the missing element, that clinches the case, secures the result ? The love, it is often expressly stated or implied, is there, but NOT ENOUGH of it, in quality, in calibre, in determination or in some other differential or potentially differential feature, to secure the prize, get the target, save the soul of someone who is about to be damned. ALL deserve it; those who escape have this love securing the result in Christ. Those who do not, do not have this sort of love in their pursuit. Hence it does not reach them.
THIS is the story from the tweedle-dum side.
On the contrary, the word of God insists in Colossians 1, it PLEASED the Father that in Christ should all fulness (the whole of the Godhead as in Col. 2:9) dwell. It was not a specific ambassadorial truncation of the godhead, or a partial eclipsed version. THE FULNESS, the pleroma, all that constituted God, was there dwelling, in Him. This therefore included the realities which attach to the godhead: eternity of nature, irrepressibility of power, immeasurable purity, and the precise nature of His heart, who in I John 4:7ff. is said to BE love. Let us be clear here. It is NOT stated that what we call 'love' in our presumptions or proclivities is what God is; it is what GOD CALLS LOVE. That love however is then seen in its nature in what follows in Colossians 1.
It pleased, then, says Paul, the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell (for as in Philippians 2, HE WAS IN THE FORM OF GOD before voluntarily, in majestic self-abasement and humiliation, taking the form of man as an outlet and expressive form for His function of salvation). It "pleased the Father" that a series and sequence of events should then proceed. This is detailed.
The components ?
Is there here recorded some truncation, then, in the
love of God ? Is it affirmed, then, that this good pleasure
of the Father is in some way limited, in heaven, or on earth; that He should
things ? that it would be by measure ?
The opposite is both dramatically, and emphatically determined and expressed by the apostle in this passage.
Now the Calvinist may object. In that case, he may affirm, God would be frustrated, which is impossible since He works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11).
Not so. This is an example of philosophical addition to the word of God fully as noxious as that of the Arminian (in part or whole, it is possible to take one Arminian feature of distinction, but not all, and thereby in that respect to be Arminian). The latter insists that one must do some part of the salvation oneself, so that it would be true to say, Salvation isin part of the Lord; and this, By grace you are saved by faith, and not all of this is of yourself. This however is not so written, but the contradictory.
The solution is not far to find. It is this: sit still and let God talk. IF HE wants in a sense of willingness, expansiveness of lovingkindness, to secure and provide goodness towards all, this is His business, and if as is the case, He asserts this, woe to its exclusion! He DOES assert this.
If however someone wishes to assert that because this willingness, this proclivity, this dispositional kindness does NOT result in the salvation of all, and that this is salvation, to borrow from Dave Hunt's phrasing, this is NOT what the ordinary man would understand, either of love or of power, what then?
Yet is a man frustrated if he is willing and even desirous of sending his own son to University, and this does not transpire ? Yes, IF he is a dictator and is never satisfied, but only frustrated, if his wishes are negated. If however he loves his son in such a way that he does not plan to bend his will, mould his mind or direct his feet as if he were a puppet, then there is not the slightest frustration. His kindness of heart does not reach to dictation, abortion of the personality of the son. Nor is the kindness compromised in the slightest degree, by such a result; and if a man could not understand THAT, where then has he been!
The father’s purse was ready (on behalf of ALL such things that the son might do); but the exchequer was never called on. He did not redeem the opportunity for his son, since the son was not to be found where the need was. Universal redemption is an abortion of truth and simple reality. The offer for all is ON THEIR BEHALF (Greek I John 2:2). The redemption for what Christ calls 'many' (Matthew 26:28 cf. Isaiah 53:11) is for those actually bought. The rest, as Christ explicitly stated, shall die in their sin (John 8:24).
Bearing sin justifies (Isaiah 53:11), and justification consummates with certainty in glorification. Indeed as in Romans 5:1ff., and 5:12ff. alike, the beginning, when of God, ensures the end. Having been justified, how much MORE will you be kept! The payment is the price, and the price is death, bearing sin; and that death buys and sustains what is bought. Redemption is no more universal than are millionaires; and many might relate to the unsearchable riches of Christ, and yet do not!
Hence redemption is offered for man as one whole, on his behalf, as is the case in many things, offered to many categories of person; but the payment in place, equivalent to sin bearing, this is always chastely less. In the Saviour’s own words, it is “for many”. We shall revisit this shortly.
As to the negative process, when that is the case, it may be simple or complex, drawing near and spitting out; but the result is one. That soul is not bought. Whom He justified, He glorified (Romans 8), and the ones justified are so resolved, the word of God expressly states, because HE BEARS their iniquities (Isaiah 53). We have to be very explicit about what the word of God teaches. Those in Romans 8:32 for whom He is actually delivered up, these have “all things”. Since this contextually includes heaven, it does not possibly include hell.
That is the express teaching of the Bible.
Having Christ delivered up in your place, being justified, His bearing your sin, hence becoming glorified (Romans 8:;17,28ff.), being covered by His blood and hence much more being saved from wrath through Him (Romans 5): it is all one. These things are complementary, integumental, integral, fashionings of the one piece of wood, the cross, of the one predestinative certainty, His, secured by the one hand, the Shepherd’s; and those who imagine any could wrest from that, or determine it themselves, are merely deluded, as well as anti-scriptural (John 10, 1:12, I Cor. 2:14, Romans 9:16).
When God performs the miracle of electing and thus justifying and hence glorifying His own people, that superb and supernatural act, He is irresistible. When however He is working, not the outcome of His plan and foreknowledge of all things, His discernment and His will, but the income of His willingness, then in His love He is perfectly willing (though He lament as Christ did), to allow those made in His image, to defile it for ever. He did not make them otherwise.
God then is quite able (let us not limit the Holy One of Israel as in Psalm 78, such things are recorded of Israel) to have a willingness, a proclivity to do something which His own principles do not follow through to consummation. In this, He may grieve, but He is not frustrated for the very good reason that His principles are HIS. NO ONE forces them on Him; where they are bent, He is not present. In other words, God and breach of His principles by Himself are mutually exclusive; He does not and yes, scripturally, cannot deny Himself (II Timothy 2:13). He would not be who He is if He were to do so, for His Being is not susceptible to improvement, and He maintains constant His perfections, neither growing better by discovery or realisation of error. Of errors, He makes none. Of knowledge, He has all (cf. SMR Ch.1).
Hence His willingness and readiness is one thing; and His pursuit to consummation, is not in terms of more or less sincere love, qualitatively or if you would like such a term, quantitatively. It is in terms of the very chasteness of love and its articulation in the divine being.
He KNOWS in particular who are His (II Timothy 2:19), secures them, having loved them; but not them alone! It is the divine restraint and purity of motive and heart, attention to the realities which He has created, and not the creaturely skill which is the determinant. In action, as in knowledge, He is right.
He pays where the payment belongs, to many.
He offers it likewise where offer belongs: to all.
The consummation and the offer are not the same, and the difference is NOT in truncated love or exalted flesh. It is in the divine knowledge. THIS is where it is all taking its beginning (Romans 8:29ff.), and God, who knows His own mind, so declares. The other concept of carnal application is precisely where it is excluded by the word of God, as we see and shall see, continually. When it comes to the word of God, it is better to let Him write it. He KNOWS what He is talking about!
TIME TO CEASE WANDERING
NEITHER AUTO-SOTERICISM*1A NOR TRUNCATED LOVE IS BIBLICAL. HENCE there is this unhappy proclivity of the flesh to argue endlessly for one or the other, or to try to avoid the realities of the justice of the attribution on the one side or the other; but the fact remains, use meaningful vocabulary as you will, the Bible condemns both these views. The reality of the love, sincerity and depth and breadth, is Biblical; to deny it is unbiblical. The total omission of the sinner from being a determinant, partial or complete, contributory or other, a participant in salvation so that it is in any part his own doing, is precluded. Let them argue. There is no resolution.
THIS is not because it is a fault or
defect, a deficiency or an omission even, in the Bible. It is not for this
reason in the least. It is in fact, as we have shown so often, because BOTH
positions are CONTRARY to the Bible. In one sense, and a just one, this is
even a FURTHER VERIFICATION. THEY CANNOT agree, and the matter is NEVER resolved,
whether between Wesley and Whitfield, or Hunt and others, very much after
the manner of that famous original exchange, the terms of which appear and
re-appear, BECAUSE NEITHER PARTY keeps to ALL that is written. Some vary
more, some less; some rather omit: but the need is always there. Have all
God says, omit nothing.
We are not being in the least personal in this. It is merely that the TYPE of position of the one and the other is here more, there less, shown in exchanges when the NATURE of the options, in essence and in the end, is that neither does full justice to all that is written. Some party may come nearer, but when there is a complete presentation of all that is written on this topic, in every phase and facet, then the resolution is already there. It is as above. There is NO room for ANY auto-sotericism; no, nor for ANY universal redemption frustrating God of impotence and frustration, aborting HIS efficacious payment; nor for ANY diminution of the love of God; nor for ANY non-limitation of the atonement, for what is atoned for is covered for ever as in Romans 8:17,29ff., Ephesians 1:11, Romans 5:1-11. The beauty of it is this: that what God affirms, fits in a harmony exquisite and wonderful; and what He denies, rumbles like a bad stomach.
The love is not limited, then; but the atonement is. (Cf. SMR pp. 61, 394-395, 482, 543, 587, 727, 1123, 1206; 637-643, 727, 924, 1123-1124; Appendix B, esp. pp. 1122ff..) The choice is not made by man but by God; but the reality of the image-of-God nature of man is honoured and God does NOT force the spirit of man, or merely omit the thing He made, so that it is seduced into a mere force-pump, moved by the pressure.
HOW is this so ? God works things in His own way (Ephesians 1:11), but it is clear that it is quite possible to have it all happen this way. For example, as illustration to demonstrate possibility merely, God could assess the soul without works, apart from its actualities in history entirely, indeed, see it apart from sin, and construe it in His own way. Psychiatrists allege (wrongly) that the soul is thus and so, and may be analysed and understood in this or that theoretical way, based on some model, from time to time.
The concept is right, but the allegation is wrong. It is GOD who has this understanding, being free both from limitation and from sin. It is HIS pre-rogative so to see and so to know. If HE knows - apart from the vying competitiveness of someone being more or less aware, more or less susceptible to the power and influence of God - if He comprehends in full what is the case for any soul, even when its own will is paralysed IN THIS AREA because sin MAKES it foolishness as the apostle Paul declares to be the case: that is His own divine business.
It is not the operation of flesh to secure this. Flesh and blood CANNOT inherit the kingdom of God. It is the operation of GOD who, being capable to the degree necessary (an infinite degree) can do what He does do. What is this ? We pass insensibly as it were to the Bible itself now, so that past all possibilities, we simply look at what is in fact written.
GOD FOREKNOWS HIS OWN (Romans 8:29ff.). Thus it is all based not on foreknowledge of events or happenings, a mere subtlety of evasion of autosotericism, for what does it matter WHEN or HOW it is based on what one does: if it is so based, it contradicts the same scriptures as before. It is based on knowledge of the person, with SUCH a sort of event orientation EXCLUDED EXPRESSLY (Romans 9:11), so that the predestination is of God in such a way that works are EXCLUDED on the part of man. This, as we shall examine more closely later, is just what John 1:12ff. is telling us.
THOSE foreknown are predestined, justified and glorified. Justification is wrought on the basis of BEARING sins. They are justified, says Isaiah 53:11, BECAUSE He has born their sins. WHEN that happens, says Paul, they are to be glorified. Having been justified he declares in Romans 5, they shall the more certainly be kept by the power of God.
Justification demands payment, and ensures keeping; redemption is eternal, efficacious, immutable, resulting expressly from adequate payment (Romans 5:16,19, Hebrews 9:12,15). The soul is redeemed, the peace is provided, the acceptance is acknowledged, faith is wrought and used (Ephesians 2:1-10). It is all based on the fact that GOD FOREKNEW HIS OWN (Romans 8:29ff.). On them, He so operates.
Who is this who presumes to announce that this aborts freedom, makes mockery of liberty, debases the soul, misuses words! Hunt is wrong precisely and entirely in so designating what in fact as shown, the Bible expressly declares. Of course one must choose. But the point is on what basis one does so! If it is as an unsaved person, then it is excluded, and that by the biblical warrant demonstrated. If it is as a saved person, then the unsaved has NO part in his own salvation, redemption. If this is so, does that rob God of the power in His foreknowing activity, action, envelopment, to engage liberty according to pattern without man having the power ?
Is man’s impotence to be illicitly equated with God’s! Is God to fail to make the reality to which the words apply, or in His own being and in His own foreknowing, so to act that man in his failure, is neither past nor beyond the power of God to KNOW what is fitting!
Is this grand knowledge available beyond the divine wisdom of God ? How ? By what means ? On the basis of some psychoanalysis of the divine mind or power or proclivity ? The WORD of GOD STATES, that this foreknowledge is basic. It does not state that this aborts the reality of human liberty. In fact, since this reality is affirmed, and the slavery of sin is likewise affirmed, and its total inhibition of salvatory power in man, even to the point of precluding his RECEIVING spiritual things (expressly), then it must be that the reality of liberty is SECURED in the mode of the divine foreknowledge. Is this too amazing!
Certainly the Lord is amazing; but not too amazing. HE ONLY does wondrous things (Psalm 72). To know Him is to know that! So He is more, and not less, capable of knowing the soul apart from all the competitive relativities of sin, and implementing this knowledge apart from the will of man, but not in abortion of the form of freedom, its formula. Salvation then does not depend AT ALL on mere circumstance, psychological or cultural, educational or other. It depends on the ONE the word indicates (the normal man, we remember, and consider what would HE make of it!). Salvation IS of the Lord! It is NOT of the flesh, or any part of it. Flesh cannot receive these things. That is what God says. It is better to believe Him, if you wish to expound His will.
SALVATION IS OF THE LORD does not mean that we are a crucial part of it, and that our contribution makes the pivotal difference. NOT of works lest any man should boast. YOU CAN BOAST of making all the difference. Many boast of making ANY difference. It is excluded. It is of the Lord, this salvation by grace through faith (positive), and NOT of yourselves (negative). One notices no qualification, no limitation. It is a flat and direct statement. Its contradiction is mere rebellion.
Now certainly this realm is deep. It is well not to brand one another. It is necessary however, without reflecting on the state of grace of any party (God judges! judge not! very well, let us keep to our task and not stray from it!), to realise that the word of God has spoken in this issue. It is time a more mellow and gracious disposition of realisation occur. We must realise the force of both intentions and the unscriptural character of much that has been written on both sides.
In the LOVE aspect, Wesley is basically Biblical, praise God. In the SYSTEM aspect, Calvin is basically Biblical, praise God. We have not been left all this time without a witness. The Bible back of both has it ALL. We must learn to respect that, and in whatever other discussion we have on this topic, let us NEVER abort the plain meaning of what is written, far less FLATLY CONTRADICT it. What is it like ? It is like those engines which, not well cared for or suddenly deficient, INSIST on continuing for a few seconds when the key is turned off. They run on.
Now the engines do well as engines to run at all. It is however a distinct defect when they will not be still when the key is turned off! THEN they SHOULD be still. ALL of the Scripture is spoken; when we meet a direction in it, let us not vainly and philosophically try to carry on and say, thus and therefore, based merely on the false assumption that our limits are the Lord's.
Let us rather keep to ALL that is said ALWAYS and NEVER add. If we have, as here, in appealing for purity towards the word, to point out that certain things do NOT follow, are NOT implied, and that the purity of the word can be seen in a harmony thus or so, so be it. This is not doctrine. It is merely the defence of it; and more also. It enables us to see that NOTHING else ever does or COULD meet the whole case of man with respect to these basic issues of freedom and control. ONLY if man CAN be moved to new system outside himself is there even a possible liberty; and ONLY if he is to be moved beyond his own power and limits, can that freedom, that liberty be express and expressed The word of God provides what is necessary. Man gets what it gives. HOW he gets it is God's business, not that of extrapolations built on nothing.
Otherwise, the limits abort at any and every point. This is the ONLY way in which this can be done: by the POWER OF GOD. It is not merely in a systematic way; it is also in a personal way. Being born again is not an option for the babe any more than it was the first time. Birth is the ONE time when you HAVE to realise that it does not depend at all on YOU. The Spirit, as Jesus put it, blows where it will! (John 3). This is the case with being born again, He says. Let us not contradict the word of God in ANY place. Let us leave it there. It blows as IT will and not as WE will. That is what is written. It is NOT of him who wills, that is what is written. You have NOT chosen Me, that is what appears.
That -where it will - is the nature of it, being born again, when the nature of it was the topic of conversation, as expressed by the Lord. In that we rest. It IS restful. It is ALWAYS restful to abide in the Lord and in His word, because it is His. Avaunt then philosophy, let us abide in His word and let His word abide in us, and let us be therewith content. It is reasonable as we show; nothing else in this area is able to be (cf. Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 11, and Predestination and Freewill).
ONLY God can remove man from his sin/limits/self/flesh in His own vision, and having another quality and value and power to provide, bring man on His own recognition, to Himself, thus preserving freedom.
Freedom carnally provided, in man per se, by whatever means, is as impossible in his sin-sick state as the Bible expressly indicates (in I Cor. 2:14, and parallels in John 1:12ff.). To have it you must lose it. To find it you must be taken from yourself to where it is. It is God who does it: salvation is of the Lord.
Indeed, so FAR from this aborting freedom, it is necessary for it, essential to its operation in the soul stricken with sin.
There is NO purity of heart without purging. There is no knowledge without purity. There is no salvation in which man has part.
Hence Christ has indeed CHOSEN YOU (f
you either are, or are to be His), and not vice versa. The evangelisation
formula is deficient. Liberty is secure. It is reasonable. It is revealed.
Its place is the Lord. Its mode of transfer is salvation. This is its result.
The assaults on the divine doctrine of total salvation by grace through faith,
without any contribution of flesh, are misplaced, a weakening of the fabric
of truth, an erosion of the beauty of apologetic truth, because they represent
a humanistic weaning from the word of God. It is not by any means always
realised by those who so err; but this does not prevent its occurrence. It
is abiding in the word of God which does that.
Where the assault on the doctrine of
Calvin does belong, is in the short change on the love of God to those ultimately
lost. This has been shown and documented before. For this, see Tender
Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2, Excursion
'A Prominent Example of the Insular, Beware of the -Ism, but take the Good, Testing All Things'. The error has also been exhibited in Predestination and Freewill, and the correction with it; and likewise the Biblical approach has been shown to this area in SMR Appendix B. In fact, there has been an exposure of this dangerously short-changed area of Biblical truth also in Love that Passes Knowledge, Ch. 4 in The Kingdom of Heaven. More may be found on the love of God, without this precise emphasis, but conformably to it, in Spiritual Refreshings for the Biblical Millenium 9, 10, 11, 12.
It is however NOT in the 5 points of Calvin that the trouble with his system lies. Indeed, to the extent that this embraces his essential system, that is not the trouble. It is in the milieu, the surrounds, the unnecessary additives, the unnecessary exemption concerning the love of God that the trouble lies. As the first reference above documents, Calvin does indeed fail on this point. What has doubtless contributed vastly to the upset caused by his theology is not the real strength in his five points, but the real weakness in this delineation of the love of God, which is beyond and antecedent to the system. WHEN the 5 points are read in THIS CONTEXT, then the opprobrium occurs. Read in a SCRIPTURAL context, they are quite sound.
Unfortunately, neither Calvin nor many calvinists put them in the scriptural context, IN THIS REGARD. THAT is just ONE of the ways in which the Lord in His kindness and compassion shows PRACTICALLY the error of trusting in the flesh. The arm of flesh will fail. Let it be a brilliant man, a godly: it is all the more dangerous to trust in such a one. TRUST IN THE LORD ALONE! This is the Biblical advice (Jeremiah 17; 9). It is not good to put trust in horses or in flesh or armies or princes; it IS most good and holy and godly to put your trust in the Son of God (Psalm 2) and in the ROCK who is GOD ONLY (Psalm 62). It is perhaps not at all Calvin's fault that so many have called themselves in complete disregard of the Biblical COMMAND, after his name (I Corinthians 3, and for exegesis of this to the point, see Repent or Perish 1, End-note 1). It is however his error which - perhaps not least to keep men level-headed and to avoid idolatry - occurs. The ONE whose theology is utterly and entirely perfect is God. For the rest of us, TEST ALL THINGS, and NEVER name yourself after ANY SINNER! His 1% error may become your 48% error! In any case, it is FORBIDDEN!
Thus the one in the extreme that surpasses scripture in the abyss of free thought, and the other in the parallel declivity that surpasses scripture in the abyss of dissolved love, they fight it out. Dave Hunt's surprisingly naive sharing of one - indeed some - of the errors of Calvin's adversaries certainly excluded him from being "a Calvinist" (which with other forbidden follower -isms of man, are explictly forbidden in I Corinthians 3). It does not, however, deliver him from aborting God's total coverage of salvation in the realm of will, at His own unsynergised instance (Romans 9, John 15, 1), as in all else.
Neither side ever seems able/willing to meet the scriptures of the other. As Spurgeon rightly emphasised, the scriptual propositions are both true: those that insist of the relevance of will, and the direct performance by God of His will in salvation. As shown in Predestination and Freewill 2 and 3, the relevance however is to GOD, and not a matter of any mite of sovereignty of disabled man.
God is not to be viewed as a love-aborted caricaturer of what the scripture clearly depicts - in what Spurgeon terms a hideous caricature of the love of God. (See ref. in 2 above for detail.) Nor is He to be made an accomplice or co-agent in the salvation of what is "dead in trespasses and sins ", who says, "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you," and this, "It is not of him who wills", and again, "who were born ...not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
The will is both as fallen and as debarred as all else, operative only when liberated at this level, and liberated by the will of God at His own discretion and grace: not without love, and not without knowledge, indeed BY foreknowledge, and that not of works, but of what He foreknows.
It is necessary indeed to cease misusing clear words on BOTH sides, expressing amazing neglect of the TOTALITY of the word of God. What! is man to grapple with the word of God as with some monster, because he declines to adapt to it, and insists on adapting what at some point he may not understand, to his own mind and will!
Thus each striving party relates to a valid point in some things, but tends to make false implications from that point or region, and hence to abort other scriptures.
The Bible statements, in each case repetitive, leave no room for either extreme. It is not that truth lies "in the middle", but that it lies where God put it, which is in neither "camp".
How it is to be understood is first and
foremost by neither amplifying man's power, nor diminishing God's love*1, but in giving to each what is accorded. Man
has power to sin, and to reject. Only God has power to save and to select.
The selection is HIS will and in deals with man without diminution of love,
because man is too sick to handle the case himself. Without this lust or
thrust for philosophy, or from it, illicit inferences abounding like grasshoppers
in a Spring plague, there is the harmony where the word of God rules, and
rule it must, free from those two diverse and divergent unscriptural philosophic
extrapolations*2. All this is demonstrated an exhibited in detail
Predestination and Freewill
with Tender Times
for Timely Truths Ch. 11.
THE PROBLEM THAT MUST BE SOLVED,
BY RETURN TO THE WORD OF GOD:
LOOKING ON DETAIL and WATCHING DIRECTIONS
Dave Hunt then, in his public declamation on Calvin, might with perfect propriety, have drawn attention to this demonstrable error. It is not however in the five points. It exists; but not there.
Since he has alleged error in the five points, on the topic of irresistible grace total depravity, however, it is necessary to check this out, test it. This we have done and will proceed to do further.
It is not a question of Calvin or non-Calvin. It is a question of the points Dave Hunt is making while dealing with Calvin. His basic error, which however Calvin in this case avoids, is to allow man a part in his own salvation. This may come as rather a shock at first sight, since he seems to be saying more or less what such evangelists as Billy Graham have for so long and so erroneously, declared. Billy Graham's not entirely strange degree of alliance with Roman Catholicism has been attested elsewhere (e.g. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7 and Questions and Answers 8). The failure in the area of separation is allied to, and parallel with the drift in doctrine on this very point, which is indeed not distant from Rome's teaching in this specific area.
It is NOT the case that CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY, is addressed to people FORMALLY outside the kingdom. It is addressed, indeed to those in rebellious mode; but it is addressed to those who allegedly are in a covenant relationship to God. It is like a Lieutenant calling to his men to be faithful to their C.O. If they are not inclined to do this, it is a violation of their ground of being there at all. It may indeed happen, as in breach of contract. It is however not at all like the case where someone simply does not join the army. The choice is of those called and committed, to be faithful; or to show their fraudulence.
It is NOT the case that Ephesians 2 teaches us that the cycle of shown is inclusive of some fragment of the will of man. It is rather that the whole episode. BY grace you have been saved THROUGH faith and THAT (grammatically agreeing not with 'faith' but with the whole cluster), that whole thing is NOT OF YOURSELVES. What could be clearer! If I am to save myself by ferociously clinging on to a rope, while a helicopter draws me up, then it is indeed in part my effort. Useless to protest that the helicopter was the main instrument. Granted and of course. But it ALL DEPENDED ON ME, unless the rope were tied about me so that I was secure, NOT OF MYSELF, but by the action of the one who tied the knots to render me so secure. It would be misleading in the extreme to say that it was NOT of myself but the GIFT of the helicopter, when, with aching muscles and wrenched wrists, I clamoured into safety, KNOWING that one slip from me and it was all over. I COULD boast (if I had the effrontery to do so), saying:
When you had quite recovered from your nausea, you might reflect, that pride apart, it was true. In this case, at least, the old chap HAD managed to HOLD ON. In this he might be so very unlike countless others who did NOT rise to the occasion and so perished.
BUT, says the apostle, IT IS NOT OF WORKS LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST. Boasting is EXCLUDED. (Ephesians 2:9, and Romans 3:27). It CANNOT be excluded by the nature of the case when the case enables it. It cannot be WITHOUT works when the work of being sensitive enough, having a natural proclivity which RESPONDS to the appeal of the Lord MORE than that of someone who lacks just that natural proclivity, and USING that sensitivity in RESPONSE to call, differentially from the use others make, makes the difference, or indeed ANY difference. That is doubtless why, in no small part, the Bible which has a harmony of phrase and function, substance and declaration so intense as to be like a massive electromagnetic field, gripping everything in its path, tells us in John 1, something else.
It is this. HOW were those who were born into the kingdom, then, born ? What was the procedure ? It is in the negative aspect as follows: "who were born , not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God".
Now we need to reflect on this. Someone might say, Oh yes, I was born of God. I felt the drawing and resolved with my awakened will, to give Him a go!
Nice of you! Unfortunately, this exceptionally
genial pleasantness of your responding soul ( not yet converted, you see,
for otherwise there would be nothing to discuss: you would be born, like
other children, in a way which did not depend on yourself AT ALL!) … is most
meritorious, most distinguishing for you at least, and singularly effective
in your salvation.
I do not know if there are some sinners who maintain that their physical birth did depend on their own responses, but if you find any, direct them to the hospital. The concept is beyond an unborn infant, and we are dealing at that level.
It is, says the word of God, in perfect harmony in PRINCIPLE with the image given, "NOT of blood". In other words it is
a) not a physiological process which depends on race or genes; and
b) not a result of the nature of your vagaries as a particular person with this blood and thus this general pattern and program situation; and
c) not of the whole gamut of physiological, or mere derivative personal nature at all.
You might say, Oh agreed! But you see, while it was nothing so gross as that, it was in my existential wonders of soul ( I AM SO sensitive, or SO susceptible to being MADE sensitive or whatever ELSE is constructed to make you seem DIFFERENT and SO yielding when OTHERS addressed by the SAME Lord have said NO!). In this soul of mine, you might proceed, there were lights and wonders, and in this state of my excited and indeed excitated being, I responded, as in the depths was the real essence of my being!
Then the Bible rules that out too, as the insistence NOT of works LEST any man should boast and APART from the law, and WITHOUT works all chide. There are many works, of many kinds, and the thing that distinguishes them is this, that you do them; and loving God is doubtless a result of action...
It is "NOT of the WILL of the flesh", the word of God proceeds in John 1. Your WILL is not an agent. THIS is not what does it. It is differentiated from various other possibilities where this or that might contribute or act and so produce the result. It is NOT of this or that kind. It is not the will which is to relate to this matter. Thus Paul in Romans 9:16 declares thus: "So then it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy."
Further, the case of Pharaoh is raised, and it is made clear that God decided to HARDEN Him. Now it is true that this is in the context, we read: "What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction..." (Romans 9:22). It was NOT that God was rejoicing at sending someone to hell; but that in PATIENCE He waited before He brought out that final result of obduracy (as in I Timothy 4:2) and gave the active delusion that they might perish (as in II Thessalonians 2). This is so, and it is something that has been stressed on this site. However, it is ALSO and EQUALLY true, and in entire harmony with this, when you look at the facets revealed, that God hardened Pharaoh as a vessel of destruction.
Obviously, God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and hence in predestination, He is no difference in nature from what Christ showed Him to be (see Predestination and Freewill). Hence the love of Christ to the lost (as in Luke 19:42) and as in principle presented by Paul in Colossians 1:19ff., and I Timothy 2, is not at all something alien to that predestination. It is on the contrary, something doubtless at work in it, for it is in God, who is securely and definitively presented by Christ, His eternal word made flesh (John 1:1-14 - there are NO other gods, hence Christ WAS God - it is a category of one: see SMR Ch. 7, section 4). True, and as has been stressed many times, this LOVE is not truncated. Nor is the sovereignty. Nor is the sovereignty shared. Nor is the salvation. Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). It is not of blood, not of the will of the flesh. That is what is written. Re Pharaoh, says God in His word, and through it, it is NOT of him who wills; it is on the contrary of God who shows mercy. He is sovereign in its mode, in its deployment, and in His methods. These exclude human will as the operative agent, the determining fashion.
Someone might then wriggle. Excuse me, however, he/she might say: It is of course not my will, or blood: perish the thought. I am most sanctified in my beliefs. However, you must realise that when I was appealed to, something happened in me. I felt myself drawn and decided, in this state of excitation, rather like that of atoms in a suitable field of stimulus, and it was then hardly myself at all.
It is wonderful how the Bible takes care of all this, and of all things so wonderfully well; and in fact, it is quite simply a VERIFICATION of its power and source, that it does so. There is nothing left out!
Thus the Bible goes on in John 1:13. It is not of blood. Yes. It is not of the will of the flesh. Yes.
But it proceeds...."Nor of the will of man." Now is the man going to cease to be a man ? Not at all. It is the man who is being saved! Hence his will is excluded, just like his boasting, just as Paul also says. THAT is NOT the way birth comes.
Thus in John 6, we find that the one who sees Christ is born of God (v. 40). To whom however is this SIGHT revealed ? In Matthew 11:27 we find that ONLY the FATHER knows the SON, and ONLY the SON knows the Father PLUS "whomsoever the SON WILLS to reveal Him". That is the Greek. The word for WILLING is there. It is after all a matter of will: but it is GOD's will. It is used when God sees fit. Not otherwise. NO ONE BUT THE ONE TO WHOM THE SON WILLS TO REVEAL HIM. That is the divine exclusion from the lips of the Lord Himself in person.
It is the exercise NOT of the will of man, then, but of the will of God. The will of flesh, of man, of blood and its appurtenances, this is excluded. The breach of the will of God is EXCLUDED. The application and effectuation of the will of God is included. It is entirely HIS affair. It is not of the will of man, but of mercy. This is repeated, congealed, revealed, this way, in inference, in direct statement, at all times.
"YOU," said Christ, "have NOT chosen ME, BUT I have CHOSEN YOU!" (John 15).
One had better believe it. The state of man, moreover, Biblically, is NOT to be conditioned upon this or that phrase of theology. It may or may not be well represented thereby. It is conditioned on one thing only: what is WRITTEN. In Jeremiah 17:9 we learn something of the nature of the human heart. It is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Now if I were told this of anyone, anything, I should not trust to such a being or person, at all. I should put my trust in the Lord; and from Him, do any actions towards such beings. WE as sinners are thus characterised. We do not have redeeming graces. THAT is precisely the work of the Redeemer. His heart is wholly reliable and sin-free. His foreknowledge is NOT dependent on what He sees us doing in the future, for that would merely be another way of putting the works back in our hands, saved of WORKS FORESEEN. It would not alter the quality of the case excluded.
In fact, this is excluded by name also. With Jacob and Esau, we learn this from the parenthesis: "for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him who calls". The PURPOSE in election has to STAND, and that purpose is not in terms of HIM WHO RESPONDS but of HIM WHO CALLS, and NOT OF WORKS.
Do you want to argue the point ? asks Paul (Romans 9:20). The potter does the moulding. Will the thing formed say to the Former, What are you doing ? In fact, (Romans 9:22), it is indicated, God is not arbitrary, but with great patience has performed his works; and they are HIS, not ours, not of the flesh, the blood, not OF MAN. Humanism has crept into the presentation of Dave Hunt, of Graham, in this point. It is indeed one FACET of Arminianism. It may not be desired; it may not be intended; it may not even be realised, but the test is the word of God, and this is being contradicted.
Now Hunt mentions God so loved the world... In this, as indicated earlier, he does well. The horrid idea some Calvinists trot forth of God in an orphanage, obligated to none, showing mercy to some, and tapping some on the shoulder, and avowing to others, Well, you had no rights and what is coming to you is only what you deserve! is so far off from the Biblical expressions of the love of God as has been shown in the above references, cited in that connection. The unmerited mercy is precisely right; the attitudinal approach is precisely contrary to the Biblical tenor as so often shown on this site - and in particular in SMR Appendix B. This defiles, makes, as Spurgeon put it (Jacob and Esau in his work, The Treasury of the Bible (see Predestination and Freewill Section 2), a hideous caricature of the love of God. In this aspect, Hunt is on firm ground, for it is relating to the character of Rock.
His being Saviour ... of the world, like His being offered, we might add, as in I John 2:2, ON BEHALF OF the sins of the whole world (the Greek does not use the term specifically emphasising the concept - in place of those sins!), is all in line with this correct and wholly Biblical emphasis. This is the part which is right, though it is not stressed as it might be, in the Hunt attack on Calvinism.
He then refers to whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, whosoever will, let him take ... and such verses, as if they had some relevance to the point he appears to be making. What is that ? GOD GENUINELY WANTED to save the whole world. The average reader might think that 'all the world' would NOT refer just to some special class, he says. In this he is partly right. It is clear that the world does not mean a segment. True. The full extent of this is shown from adequate bases in SMR Appendix B and in the other references noted at the outset in this connection.
Nevertheless, the idea of 'genuinely wanted' must be watched. God is NOT frustrated. THAT is one correct feature in Calvinism (Isaiah 43:13, Psalm 115). He does what He pleases. Yet it does NOT please Him to force! COME does not mean, GET GOING! His love is as chaste as we understand in friendship and marriage, from His image. His yearning and longing is often expressed as in Ezekiel 33:11 and Colossians 1.
However it is precisely in these areas that the humanism and flesh creep in. God is NOT therefore in the least frustrated; and NOT in the least dependent on the will of man, and NOT in the least in need of ANYTHING. He WORKS all things after the good pleasure of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). There is no question of working it after the good pleasure of a synthetic whole comprised of His own will and that of others. THAT would be a FLAT contradiction of the affirmation just cited. It CANNOT therefore be correct that it IS of the will of man. It is not only contradicted repetitively by the word of God; it would contradict what He says about Himself and His own will! "ALL THINGS" does not mean SOME THINGS.
To adapt from Hunt, that is not the ordinary meaning of the words. That is not what some ordinary reader would take that to mean. I would not say, in some imaginary kingdom, that ALL things are done after the counsel of my will if sundry parties routinely compromised that and my express wishes were compromised. That would only make of me an empty braggart. Apart from the ethical error, it would not even be true.
The point is that the INVITATION is indeed UNIVERSAL, and the amplitude of the PROVISION by the ETERNAL WORD OF GOD in flesh format, is SUFFICIENT to cover any and all; but it does NOT so cover. It is NOT automatically stuffed down the back trouser pockets of retreating linesmen. The rich young ruler was NOT run after. The judgments are with His WHOLE HEART (Deuteronomy 32:19-26). The restraint is likewise consistent and pure. The time comes. It is foreknown. It is ripe (cf. Genesis 15:16, II Chronicles 36). The called and justified are the glorified (Romans 8), but the unjustified are NOT paid for (Romans 8:32).
In fact, they are for whom Christ is actually delivered up, as a ransom, to inherit all things! That is what is written, and that does not mean hell. That is not, shall we say, the ordinary meaning of the word! It is moreover in the context of God being FOR US. That assuredly is not the meaning of hell. Those for whom HE is delivered up are those to so inherit. That is that. Redemption is limited; atonement is limited; payment is limited; offering is not.
Those then, who inherit all things, they are most assuredly NOT the lost of all people! (for example, the wrath of God abiding is rather different than this - John 3:36).
Thus the Lord's unwillingness that any should perish is not a frustrated sovereignty. It is chaste love which knows the restraints of love at its source. It is consummated in actuality, according to predestination. The LORD KNOWS those who are His. He ALWAYS gains them. They ARE His (John 13:1)! Thus no one can come unless the Father DRAWS that one, but also, the ones who ARE His, are those who will in fact come (John 6:37). They come because they are GIVEN. They see because the SON WILLS it to be so. They do not come because they will. It is excluded by name. Drawing is a pre-condition (John 6:44). Being GIVEN is a NECESSARY condition! (John 6:37).
Hunt appears intent on constructing an unbiblical man, or at least does construct one, in which the response of man (p. 8) is antecedent to and necessary for the salvation. Hence auto-sotericism has arrived, and we have a dual saviour, Christ and the convert. It is an appalling rejection of the many aspects of the Biblical teaching on will, grace, depravity, limitation. The ONES healed in Isaiah 53, are those whose sins are laid on Christ (53:5-6). It is not someone else.
Thus the broad confusion of the Dave Hunt theology in this area is revealed. He appears to embrace universal redemption, and so people whose sins are paid for by a sacrifice of infinite value, still liable to hell; people for whom Christ then is "delivered up", who do NOT "inherit all things" despite the apostle’s flat statement to the contrary; people whose wills are active despite their being dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2), showing such vitality that death was never more gay, and sin never so inept. He has those who will to come, always markedly transformed first, so that they exit the state UNIVERSALLY ascribed to them in the Bible, while still in it! They cease to be what they are Biblically defined to be in order to become what they need to be in order to exit, in terms of the theology of the word of God, here cited. This miracle is a humanistic accretion to the Biblical teaching, and a flat contradiction.
Of course some Calvinism, short on the love of God, may indeed expound things without realising their implications. However, the implications of Hunt are at least as disastrous. Redemption is too little in power, too much in scope; the word is too much, not only strangely used but aborted; the limits so clearly defined for the saving efficacy of Him who works ALL things after the counsel of HIS OWN will, are not really there. God in frustration and weakness is left lonely, like patience on a monument, in green and yellow melancholy, smiling at grief.
Naturally there is grief; but never from frustration. GOD DENIES THIS, as we have seen. It is HIS WILLINGNESS towards all, not His will, which is the point made in the Bible and in all the verses cited to show more, but which do not even relate to such a contradiction of scripture. It is the chaste ingenuity of the scripture, that it never makes grandiose claims, which it then aborts, as Hunt has been shown to do, in the areas cited. Grief, yes, but not that of something BEYOND HIMSELF, compromising His will. What the Lord ultimately sets His heart on, He ultimately gets. He WORKS things after His own counsel, as He says. His will is flat, efficient and final, His payments secure, sufficient and dispensed with knowledge, His ransom is effectual, His disposition unerring, His own limited in scope, His love not so limited, but wise in disposition, pure in restraint, certain and immovable in its results.
HE created the system and its inhabitants. Grievous as are predicted and foreseen results, from before the foundation of the world (choices beforehand are made in this way, and those who stumble at the word, do so as appointed - I Peter 2, Ephesians 1), they are not put into a world which is beyond His will. On the CONTRARY, it interprets it. He does what HE PLEASES. It PLEASED the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell, and that having made peace by the blood of the Cross, to reconcile all things ... That is His willingness and good pleasure. His decision, however, without aborting His willingness, does terminate its extent. Sovereignty is total and is never broken; grace is never a failure - for if it were, there would be SOME things which He did NOT work after the counsel of His own will; moreover both Christ and Paul would be lying in asserting that the CHOICE is GOD's and NOT man's!
It is NOT that God has NOT given RELEVANCE
to the human will, for man is made in God's own image. It is that GOD DENIES
that that relevance is under the operation of the will of man! We have seen
this repeatedly. What God denies, Hunt affirms. That is all.
THE WONDER OF THE VALID WORD OF GOD,
AND THE GLORIOUS TRIUMPH
OF HIS SCOPE OF LOVE AND SOVEREIGN DECLARATIONS
Nor does it in the slightest possible
degree follow that if man is NOT operationally free at this level -
because of the liabilities and pathology of sin, and
NOT because freedom is not for man in health,
both apt and fitting:
that God is to "make sinners accept Christ".
Such a consideration does not in the least follow from the 5 points of Calvinism in their Biblical context. Where Calvin rightly states the Biblical doctrine, it is not in the least in HIS defence that one points out the error of those who distort it, however unwillingly and unwittingly they may do so. As shown in Predestination and Freewill, God in His predestination is quite capable of knowing what man cannot, and of seeing what man in his sin, cannot see, and deciding how the thing is to be done, and then releasing the will of man to receive Himself, making regeneration the just and fitting preliminary. That is one apologetic construction. It covers the case.
The sovereignty is total; the will of man is operationally dis-enabled and must be liberated in regeneration. Regeneration is not an imposition, but what seems apt to the God who is true, and does indeed lament, but not from frustration, for His will is DONE. It is from grief at the folly. If it had not seemed however to be just, He who is the Just One would not have made this world. So is God constricted like a fat woman or man pushed into clothes too tight, to fulfil the whim, will or caprice of these philosophers for whom the Bible is not to stand.
But it DOES stand. God does not make saints perfect since it is HIS WILL that they be burnished, tried and tested (I Peter 1). Just as it is His declared will to SAVE them entirely and without any aid, so it is to SANCTIFY them without the duress of perfectionism as a philosophic fetish. Why should it be a fetish ?
He foreknows and it has no relation to works foreseen! That is what is written of this phase of spiritual action.
Does He have to be cheaply brought into some hideous constriction of demography! Is His operation to be decided for Him, and is He to be co-sovereign in salvation! Is He not to be free in offering freedom, and free in His own enactments of the deliverance, and without the entrammelments of sin and its endemic snares, of flesh with its inoperable iniquities, except in the miracle of new birth!
He KNOWS His own, what He is doing, saves His own, pays for His own, offers sincerely to all, grieves at the lost and determined the whole procedure was sound before He initiated any of it. In the end, it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to be lost through sin or sinfulness: simply in the generic. You have to reject the remedy, in reality and truth, or the equivalent. That is the stated criterion of condemnation that endures (John 3:19 - cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4). The condemnation is based on evil in the face of truth, darkness in the very countenance of light, and not evil by itself. The fundamental particle, or proposition is this: you must in effect or in operation, in divine knowledge apart from all historical works, scorn or spurn or dismiss or violate the remedy. (For an apologetic illustrative construction, see SMR Ch. 8 in the initial pages.) The love is as extreme as that. But it is GOD who knows. Not in the empyrean of celestial grandeur does fallen man move to his salvation, but in the confines of grace which, though abundant, to match the illimitable character of His love, has its own wonder of operation, cascading in immensity, reaching in intensity, under the holy eye and total control of God.
Divine foreknowledge is the base, history is the eventuation that can express it. That is the order of things in the Bible (cf. Romans 8:29ff.); but it is also the meaning of things in life. Life is real, but its reality does not start with itself. Humanism is not last an unhallowed extension of man to the absolute, and its infections can spread into the most surprising places.
It is not at all in the sight of God, a matter of the knee jerk negative reaction of your own sinfulness, which is guaranteed, as we saw in Romans 8, John 15, I Corinthians 2. If however, that is what in the end, past all psychology and circumstance, you want, that is what you get.
How that means, on the Hunt calendar of events, that men should have been made perfect is not at all easy to see! In fact Hunt's attack on the 5 points of Calvin (as distinct from other areas), seen in their Biblical context, is in every case contrary to the scripture, a mere work of presumption against flat contradiction in every point. How could we humble ourselves, as required, if already perfect! If God wants us to seek the mark of the high calling in Christ, counting all else but dung that competes, is this some reason why we should instead, because of some philosophy of Dave Hunt, abandon this and be perfect, since it seems to him in some way to follow from what the Bible in fact teaches! Hardly. These non sequiturs sprinkle like daisies in the field, within the pasture of solemn Biblical truth.
It is mistaken, a case of mistaken identity, so to harry the error of Calvin, in the affair of love, a serious error, by rejecting crucial sound doctrines which Calvin nevertheless elsewhere gathers, and then to invent an affair of some humanistic man whom the scripture dismisses and will not allow, in a reconstruction that avoids Calvin's errors and true teaching from the word of God, alike. It appears simply to be this: to throw out the body of the doctrine in these things, because the water is (admittedly in the matter of love) impure!
Calvinists make varying degrees of error, and Calvin did some magnificent work in defending the truth against multitudes of vain humanistic and Romanist errors. It is however not logically possible to dismiss his correct and lucid points gathered from the Bible, because in some things he erred. In the end, it remains true that to the natural man these spiritual things are foolishness. It is therefore not POSSIBLE that he should CHOOSE (as Christ Himself denied he chooses) while a natural man. The other option in Paul is to be a spiritual person. This is a categorical change, made from being born again. One does not choose what is foolish.
It is statedly thus to the unconverted, these spiritual things. One does not act as spiritual when not so. The case is open and shut. Hunt is wrong; so is Calvin in some things; but Hunt, it would seem, much more in failing to differentiate between the errors of Calvin and the errors of humanism, and failing to defend the truth against the latter, in the interests of rejecting Calvin, even when Calvin is right! In this, Hunt's errors are multiple.
This is a good warning to us all. Some of us are good at this and that; let us rejoice. NONE of us is good at all things, except Christ, who, we read, did not have the Spirit by measure. It is essential that we realise this and stop FOLLOWING this man or that, in the sense of his/her doctrine, theology and so forth. It is NEVER wise to follow any such thing, whether of Apollos or other. It is ONLY in the SCRIPTURE as given by this or that party, that there is the GUARANTEE of entire accuracy.
It is the Bible which brings it home that the transformation is of what GOD elects, by the power GOD provides, and that the flesh is blind to the realities, alienated and outside the life of God. It is thus that the reasonable realities show themselves in this: for if man COULD (though it be contrary to the word of God, and so is impossible) but if he could elect this or that, how is be beyond the self which so selects ? and if he seeks some item or agenda which his flesh is willing to ponder, how does he do it unless that flesh is so geared; and if it be so geared, how is it so, when it is adversely geared! To be free, in the end, you have to be able to be beyond your own limits, for otherwise, they, your captors, are merely interpreted, and your whole hope is self-bound, self-limited. "NOT," however, it so beautifully and tenderly announces, "of the will of man". (Cf. Father of Freedom.)
It is human tendency, it may be for pride of flesh (THIS is MY party! some say expansively), for invidious vying and emulation, for laziness (I just follow him!) or some other thing. It is not necessary here to seek to analyse all the possibilities. It is enough that they are all wrong; it is forbidden. Be thankful then for what you get from any; never assume infallibility in any - Protestant papacy is not good because it is voluntary or Protestant, but in fact offends the just spirit of Protestantism, by evoking new pollutions after escaping the old. Slaves are not always bought; in some things they wilfully subscribe themselves!
When, where and if, something is according to scripture, rejoice. What follows it, enjoy. Do NOT follow SOMEONE without the authority of the word of God, rightly dividing it. If it is a pastor, be thankful for his (Biblically, yes his - see A Spiritual Potpourri 10 -11) ministrations. But do not forsake your own seeking of the Lord and His understanding (( John 2 :27). Someone solves a problem ? Good. Do not put him/her on a pedestal! THAT IS FOR CHRIST ONLY.
It is then
in the sublime sufficiencies of the Lord that you can say with Paul, GOD
IS OUR SUFFICIENCY. HE ? He is VERY sufficient (II Cor. 3:5). Is the sea sufficient for
a paper boat to float
on ? So God is our sufficiency, and let us float on His waters and be glad in Him.....
may wish to consult also:
with Predestination and Freewill
END - NOTES
PAN SKIPPING OUT OF THE WOODWORK
Auto-sotericism ? This can be partial or total - salvation by or through self.
This is not merely
a mode but a spirit or approach which can enter into calculations on salvation.
Thus Roman Catholicism in its Council of Trent statement, Ch., XVI, Canon IX has a highly relevant declaration."If anyone saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified, in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification..." It goes on, as is the custom in this type of thing, to hurl curses, anathemas at such parties. It was never a pleasant party, the Organisation of Rome!
Thus the will is a determinant, since without it you get curses hurled at you. This is a gross and substantial contribution without which you do not make it... not even to justification. YOU are co-saviour. This Roman Catholic teaching has infected much, not necessarily by direct intercourse, but in its tenor and outcome from humanism, so deeply embedded in Rome with its invented purgatories, its added curses, its flaming fires reminiscent of the Klu Klax Klan when they have sought likewise to intimidate their victims.
"NOR IS THERE SALVATION IN ANY OTHER, FOR THERE IS NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN BY WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED" - Acts 4:12, and that other simple fact, "NOT OF HIM WHO WILLS NOR OF HIM WHO RUNS, BUT OF GOD WHO SHOWS MERCY" - Romans 9:16. It is not mobility, agility or authority, but GOD who does it. ONE is your Master, even Christ (Matthew 23:8-10).
"Other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us," we hear the lament in Isaiah, "but," he continues in glorious liberation from such servitude, "by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name!" If only people would listen! The Jews have done it all, in essence, before! They AS A NATION have erred and suffered, and shall not those of us who are in our time and innings, Gentiles, AT LEAST learn from the book, the Old Testament which according to God they passed on to us (Romans 9:4 cf. II Timothy 3:16), and learn as DIRECTED by the apostle Paul and IMPLIED by Christ (Matthew 5:17ff.), and so NOT REPEAT these enormities! Shall they not at least have the blessedness of letting us be delivered through their non-deliverance, and helped by their suffering, learn by their errors, and understand through their corrections!
It is, says the scripture, BY THEE ONLY what ? By THEE ONLY WE SHALL MAKE MENTION OF THY NAME. We shall not use Mary or Mass or Priest or Pope, or SELF! "Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of His own will He begot us..." HIS will is not a synonym for mine! The child does not have to give permission to him who begets! God is infinite, I finite; He is sinless, I am a sinner (though praise God, not under sin's dominion). If begetting is at His say so, it is certainly not at mine! Let us therefore LISTEN to what is said, and fail in this thing only, to CONTRADICT IT. It is clear, it is simple, it is sufficient, it is spiritual. Let us follow it in this and in all things.
But with many, who do not follow what is written, it is not so; and in this humanistic series of contrivances, it is not so. Alas it is not a matter of judging people, whom only God judges, but of applying the word of God to doctrines, and following it wherever it leads, adding neither in the desperate frustrations of philosophy, who MUST reduce it all to manageable proportions, instead of finding the grandeur and the glory of humbling following it where it leads, and admiring the beauty so found; nor in the fulminations of political, social, ecclesiastical dominionism, if one may with a little lilt invent a term of just mockery and sincere, scriptural kind (from Isaiah 26:13). Whether it be volitional dominionism, or social (people power), or political (governmental authority in spiritual things - see Lead us Not into Educational Temptation! and That Magnificent Rock Ch. 8), or spiritual (guru-ism), or philosophical (with its various airy and illogical floatings, that some even proclaim with passion, existential or temperamental), it is all false. BY THEE ONLY will we make mention of Thy name, and so follow James as well as Isaiah, in so doing.
The humanistic and unhallowed digressions from this, then, abound. They constitute a leaven, and it multiplies like influenza viruses, ever changing, ever the same in essence, and hence in name, always an affliction to the people of God, a source of instability and of false glory, readily exploited by the knowledgeable, giving bruisings to the unwary.
In due time this error will spread in its own way, as it has already spread in Rome, and been given hundreds of years to grow and show itself (especially from the Middle Ages time when the heresy of the mass was instituted, to that of the infallibility debacle, when the pope had to clear out of authority over his princes and powers lest he be taken captive, and this, amusingly just as these great gifts were being ... shall we say exposed, in ponderous utterances of the Roman Catholic powers that be). It has indeed exhibited itself like a streaker, to show itself with its own version of power.
That is to say, as this evil heresy developed, from 1200 or so A.D. to its comic exposure in the 1870s to and in the world, with the Inquisition and the torch, the rack and the prison, the dull towers of torturing prisons and the manifold evil efforts to BEND THE WILL of man, it has shown not only in its codified theology, but in its social involvements with fire and other childish things, what is the significance of the will of man when it is in the hands of 'controls'.
THESE have been ecclesiastical. They are nowadays, as Rome is being prepared for her removal as in Revelation 17:16 (cf. SMR pp. 1060, 947, 956), becoming increasing PEOPLE POWERS instead of POPE POWERS. They have much in common. The PEOPLE become the infallible COMMUNITY (cf. The Frantic Milenium and the Peace of Truth Ch. 7).
Oh it is not authoritarian in quite the
same sense. It is just that having set aside morals (as in Lead us not into Temptation!), they then seek to
re-introduce them, State style. Some go as far as to determine their intense
hatred of all absolutes, as absolutely necessary to the peace of the State;
some try metaphysically to remove them, on the grounds that it is absolutely
sure that there is no absolute, and no one may absolutely know anything,
except this, that it is absolutely sure that there is nothing absolute. Other
comedies arise. But it is tragedy stark and unmitigated which falls like
a wolf on its prey.
This will be seen without much restraint
at all, when the final image of the beast comes (the devil has his own messiah,
his anointed one, his man of sin as in II Thessalonians 2, just as he has
his own dragon beast in Revelation 13, his religious specialist who aids
people in their worship of the social-political-religious complex to which
their WILLS are to be BENT by due means... with much indebtedness to Rome,
for her leadership especially in the last millenium, in techniques).
The will of man however is not at all susceptible to dominion of the influences of culture, national pride, ecclesiastical manipulation, terror and tempest when it is in the hands of God. It is HE and HE ALONE who brings it to His kingdom. It is He, likewise, who keeps it there, in its new and nascent, growing and abounding life in Himself, pruning here, stirring there.
It is indeed true to say that the will of man per se is vulnerable, and prone to being partly conditioned, and sometimes in major part; and that clever people with silly ideas, which it is part of their cleverness to make seem imposing, can move in the forest of mankind like a tempest, while in part calling attention to the power of their wind, and in part showing its splendid wonder, they seek to allay man's call to God, by making him look to this unspiritual substitute. It often looks to them good to make the unspiritual substitute seem splendidly spiritual, the more the better, short of actually relating to God Himself, since this would be to betray the whole point and purpose of the exercise as the devil construes it. Nor is it at all certain that many of those deluded have the SLIGHTEST IDEA of what they involved in, of what is taking them by the hand and leading them to the spiritual slaughter.
This is the nature of delusion; but it is not, itself, without preliminaries (as in II Thessalonians 2:8ff.). It has a cause, as well as an effect.
It is therefore the more important to realise that EVEN REPENTANCE is a grant from God. Certainly it is not without divine propriety. There is nothing automated about it; but on the other hand, neither is there anything in which the will of man is the operative cause (Acts 11:18). What is called "repentance to life" is something which God does or does not see fit to GRANT, we read in this scripture from Acts. Just as the entirety of "salvation by grace through faith" is NOT OF YOURSELVES, but is on the contrary the GIFT OF GOD, so repentance to life likewise, it is a grant. It is so in interstices. It is so in totality. It is integrally so. It is actually so. It is minutely so. It is so in the end; it is so before the beginning of this world (Ephesians 1:4). It is so in the means. NOT of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
It is GOD alone who specifically decides about revealing Himself, by His own decision (Matthew 11:27). This goes where He determines, wills. That is what is written. It is impossible otherwise. That is also what is written. It is perfectly useless, and not a little inclined to the blasphemous, to try to interpose in the contorted strainings of imported theologies.
Thus the evangelistic bonanzas, critical
mass cases with music and manipulation of crowds by counsellors of various
faiths including that of Rome, can descend to be little more than shoddy
substitutes for truth.
It is not the case that God CANNOT or necessarily WILL not work in such places. It IS however the case that all emphasis on the human will as accessible to, and directable by man, whether one's own person or the persons of others, is horrendously misplaced, and leads to endless disasters. In the Billy Graham case, it led to direct co-operation with Rome, which as we see, in turn has direct co-operation with the flesh in this, that without man's co-operation, God cannot save.
It is NECESSARY, we read in their canon, for them to co-operate. Salvation is then NOT the gift of God, for when one's co-operation is NECESSARY, then it is part of the work, the performance, and therefore of the result. "THIS," said Christ, "is the work of GOD, that you should believe in Him whom He has sent" (John 8:29). Miraculous actions like physical bread were the work of God; and the other work is miraculous feedings with this heavenly manna. THIS too is the work of God. The sense is clear: How may we do those miraculous things, beyond all our own powers, things which stem direct from deity ? Answer: Believe in Me, for that is a miraculous thing, beyond all your powers, stemming straight from deity.
Indeed, from Christ, this SPECIFICALLY is the work of God. BELIEVING is the work of God. This is what is affirmed; not that it is the work of man. It is occasioned by HIS power, at HIS will, and this is done with all due knowledge of what He is doing, in so implementing the love towards the world which He affirms. "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me" - John 6:37. God gives eternal life, and He also gives people, and the people are given to Christ, as many as the Father gives. When they come, it is the work of God. Hence they believe. TO NO ONE is the KNOWLEDGE of the FATHER GIVEN except to those to whom the SON WILLS to reveal Him. THIS is eternal life, that you should know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. This is what is written in Matthew 11:27 and John 17:1-3. This is then, the fact.
In fact, it is ONLY when the new birth has come, when "the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5) has come that the soul, being restored to life, can engage in its processes. It is THEN the work of a son/daughter, and then only, may proceed. THEN the gussets of grace, the ramblings of growth, the aspirations of holiness may be sated with reality. It in life that one lives; in death, it is NOT life. "He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." When you are dead you proceed like it; but when you live the habiliments of life are yours, the tumble and the trying. No longer is a dead tree TRYING to live; for now a living tree is growing.
That is the nature of life, of the case and of the word of God, as you see in Philippians 3, where the things past esteemed as rubbish, are put aside, and the life now living within, reaches to the mark of the high calling in Christ, like a child to its mother when hungry. It now HAS a hunger unmixed, a mouth remade and internal bowels of compassion ready to receive the strength of the word, and to grow by it. Before that, simply and plainly, it is the work of God that you should believe. When you believe, then alone, you exhibit spiritual vitality.
Not so however is the illusion of life in death, of a will still unredeemed conferring - by its autonomy, or its organisational sufficiency, or its meritorious matrix, or its powers of being alive when dead, its light when it is dark, and its life when it is dead - the say so to regeneration!
This exaltation of the human will, therefore, has led to all types of manipulation, uncertainty and dishonour to the glory of God who ALONE does wondrous things, and who, when bringing about a new birth, does NOT consult the babe to be any more than the mother does. The Spirit blows where it wills is what is declared by Christ in this situation. The Son reveals to whom He will, He likewise attests. It is NOT of man or of flesh or of will, says the beloved John. The disciples did NOT choose Christ, but He stated that He not only ordained them to bring forth fruit, but in the beginning, CHOSE them. As Judas indicates, the choice ramifies to the roots of the thing. The choice was fundamental, basic, and included one who was a devil, as foreknown and expatiated in the Psalms, indeed noted by Christ as so predicted in John 13:18. In all this, they did not choose Him; He chose them.
Now this is not to say that the will is irrelevant to God - far from it. Man in God's image is not in vain. It is just that he is inoperative at this level, being dead in trespasses and sins, and alienated from God, so that it has as much life as dead things normally do! In similar style, for the dead in trespasses and sins, the case as declared in the word of God is this: that spiritual things are deemed foolish (not necessarily verbally, but actually; not necessarily consciously, but in reality - there are many formalists, ceremonialists, nominalists who deceive only themselves). Hence it is not, indeed cannot be, that it is of the will of man that man wills his salvation. Birth does not come like that. So it is expressly denied.
It is to say that the will of man does NOT co-operate in salvation, which is the gift of God. When this is fully realised, then indeed man may FALL before his Maker, and SEEK repentance and DESIRE forgiveness with due realism and recognition of his fallen estate, which does NOT include the life of truth in the caves of death. It is then that he may with true repentance depart with horror and due recognition of his abysmal failure as a servant of sin (pride is just as real as adultery, and often more fatal - Romans 10), from this whole realm of failure and fault, and in intense desire seek the mercy of God.
It is GOD who knows, GOD who shows, GOD who redeems, GOD who regenerates by His Spirit. It is GOD whose merit is SOLITARY in this matter, so that it is IMPOSSIBLE and IMPROPER BOTH, for man to boast. There is NOTHING to boast about when your redemption is secured SOLELY in substance and provision on the Cross, as in gift and entry as depicted in Romans 5:15. It is a gift, yes, but also a gift BY GRACE - and hence BOASTING IS EXCLUDED. It is not merely not nice. It is nonsense. It cannot be. Only a lie could say otherwise.
It is then that true revival may be hoped
for, when it is not a conferment of a bloated will in its sovereign majesty
which kindly comes to God (and so may hope for some sort of congratulation,
perhaps!), but a fallen being whose lifting is ONLY by grace, and that, it
is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
When however this Roman Catholic type of error proliferates among the Protestants, and when better than in the Billy Graham distortion of the gospel in this respect, they become like their Romanist allies, more and more vulnerable to manipulation by themselves, churches, social powers, and more and more resemble prepared fodder for the antichrist, the dragons, the devilish work of consolidated human power in other words, where the devil proliferates and even sends out his demons, like 'frogs' of delusion as in Revelation 16:13ff., hopping about like a plague to ruin the crop. This is to come. Be ready. It is not the will but the Lord which is essential; from the first to the last. From Him comes the courage, the character, the effectual call of repentance to life, and into life eternal. As He gathers, so He keeps.
It is alas the case that these extreme views, relative to the scriptural base, cause and have caused much harm to the people of the Lord.
Whatever puts man in the place of God has troubles, whether it be in his own salvation, or in his own security, or in the love of God which embraces and selects without compromise to its purity or reality.
Thus in the case of the Presbyterian Church of Australia in the 70's, when one spoke, with another elder, to a high PC Australia official, when they were beginning to acknowledge their gross departure from the Bible in the preceding 40 years (to which this author had lent most dramatic and costly testimony) , this point - one says it with sorrow - appeared in the estimate of the case given to us by this official.
We are not, he indicated, at this time returning to this position - believing in the infallibility of the Bible. Many of us do not believe this, in fact. We are however looking for a stable position to which we can turn instead of this barren radicalism. There is none but Calvinism, so we are endorsing that.
This is not verbatim, but it is the substance and sense of the statement made. If it had not been for that statement and its double standards, lack of sincerity in making affirmations about the word of God, alas all too clearly exemplified later in that decade when the federal, or General Assembly of Australia did not ACT when the important General Assembly of Victoria requested it to do so, in affirming such things of the BIBLE DIRECTLY, but merely shelved the issue, and then lost the shelf.... If it had not been for that, things might have been different. However, as the Bible says, if the foundations be destroyed where shall the righteous flee ? (Psalm 11). Certainly not to the site of destruction!
Now since the 1991 Assembly, the PC Australia has paid for this formalism and ambivalence, this seeming insincerity of many in power, to which this direct and knowledgeable testimony was given by the official noted. They have now aborted their own constitution's great saving grace - its insistence on the LOVE OF GOD moving towards the inclination that none should perish.
This now has been made to be something IN the Westminster Confession. It is no longer allowed to stand as something apart, as something REQUIRED as giving the SENSE IN WHICH that Confession is to be read. The Confession is to be read in any sense it likes, by itself, and the added or Declaratory Statement is left chiming in, not vice versa. This emasculation of such a positive requirement as this, to prevent the undoubted lack in the Confession on this topic (as indicated in more detail in The Biblical Workman Ch. 8 ) is a result of formalism, of having secondary things made primary. Indeed, in this illustration, a primary standing is in fact given to the Confession, whatever the theory (loc.cit.).
It is precisely this sort of thing which
people like Dave Hunt may react to ... and many respond to!
The BIBLICAL imperative is muted.
On the other side, the DIVINE monergism is muted.
So the terrible twins continue their mutual buffetings.
It is important to emphasise that this magnificent harmony of the pure word of God, as it stands, without hampering or harnessing from the word of man, is precisely what you would expect of the sovereign who made our minds and wills. The total extent of this is attested in Predestination and Freewill throughout its whole extent, and in detail.
The squabblings of vain philosophy can continue, but as Paul declares, they are vain (I Cor. 1). The word of God, on the other hand, rules in unmitigated peace, like Mt Egmont in New Zealand, overlooking the plains, and giving them a certain meaning. It is necessary once and for all to realise that GOD in determining these things absolutely before the foundation of the world did so in HIS OWN WAY, and absolute discretion with God, is not unruly, or unkind; but the cure being affirmed to be relevant, the heart to be toward, the result accrues. Christ indeed as an eternal member of the godhead was in full operation in this predestination, so that what HE IS and SHOWED HIMSELF TO BE, is the guaranteed reality that then functioned.
Of course, if you do not trust Him, in this, or in anything else, that is not a difficulty of theology, but of heart! It is faith that is needed at all times with God; and without it, one cannot please Him.
There is altogether too much muting of
what is written. It does not help. The task is to EXPORT what is there, not
import from the flesh, in this case, or in that!
A specific and specialised, purposive disablement, such as may occur in terms of II Thessalonians 2, Hebrews 6, where the remedy is trifled with, and the realities further oppressed past mere general sin.