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Chapter 6

Horrors of Excess

For centuries needless contest and controversy*1 has split some of Christendom. It is time this was neglected and the word of God was implemented, not merely in seeking to finesse opponents, but in meeting its clear testimony. Philosophic unction is not the answer; harmony is already present. Being faithful workmen of the word of God is the need, neither adding “because it is so obvious that” or subtracting, but requiring steadfastness to what is written, with all its deliberate and sagacious depth, from  God. If the Bible does not rule, disorder will poke its heavy nose into the camp, breathing heavily, as normal.


In this chapter, we consider some of the adversities of adversaries, and the glory of the harmony of what is written*2 in another book, the Bible! This indeed is but ONE of such mainland realities of the Bible itself which answer aberrant insularities with the profound validity and stability of peace.


A.   From The Power of Christ’s Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings  Ch. 1, *2

A Post-script of Encouragement:

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

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

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

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

Philosophy ? From the heart of man,

it is indeed "vain", as is anything which

tempers the word of God with human wit, and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the Psalmist puts it,

"Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart" - Psalm 119:111, and again,

"The righteousness of Thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live" v.144;

"Thy word is true from the beginning, and every one of Thy righteous judgments endures for ever" - v. 160;

"Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors" - v. 24,

"How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" - v. 103;

"Thy word is very pure, therefore Thy servant loves it" - v. 140;

"concerning Thy testimonies, I have known from of old that Thou hast founded them for ever" - v. 152,

"forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven" - v. 89, and

"Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way" - v.104.

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

Let God be true, though every man a liar! His word? It is true that when we know as we are known, prophecies shall no longer be the sometimes indirect exposure, but sight the direct knowledge. Nevertheless, it is sufficiently clear that this does not render dispensable the word of God which is and always has been, utterly pure - "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" - Psalm 12:6. When God speaks, we do not hypothesise as to His meaning, we read it; far less do we hypothesise that it is contrary in Christ to the Deity, when He IS the deity, or that His human form defiles His truth, for He stated, "I am the truth".

Let us therefore read and understand with the Psalmist, and BY IT try every false way, and REPENT of sin with all our hearts and abide in Him and have His words abide in us, for there is not merely safety, but the unspeakable joy of His company and comfort, who desires us so to abide.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

To libel the love of God by constricting it where He affirms it, in the interests of a blind and circumscribed philosophy, is a rank act; just as is, at the other philosophical extremity, that distortion of sovereignty that imagines God to resolve in vain (v. Isaiah 43:13). Disabled by sin, man is nevertheless not deleted, and is found by that uncontractable love of God, of Colossians 1:19-23, I Timothy 2:1-6, being predestined to this.

God does not contradict Himself, affirming the desire, while from eternity and in principle, withholding the means essential to its fulfilment, but cries to responsible man, 'Repent!' (Matthew 4:17, Luke 13:1-3), and to Jerusalem, weeping,

"If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes..." (Luke 19:42, cf. The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch.4, esp. pp. 49ff.).

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

As in predestining sublimity (cf. Predestination and Freewill),

so in historical reality,

God is able to receive and be received by what is His own,

with no mechanics to defile His principles,

or derangements to over-rule His protestations.

It remains true that in the face of the ample and capacious love of God to the world (John 1-3 and elsewhere as noted),

the gift of repentance, like all the rest of the amazing deliverances to those elected to be the children of God,

is truly received,

and the non-reception of what is proffered

remains the divinely stated criterion of exclusion (John 3:17ff.), even in the face of such love, a love uninterested in this phase, in any condemnation, but in incorporation.


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

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


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

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

As with Jeremiah, where 'she', the daughter of Jerusalem, was instructed to roll around in the dust in shame at her abominations, so now. He would have gathered that generation together under His wings, as a hen gathers her chickens ... just as He would have healed... even BABYLON and Israel itself (Jeremiah 51:9, Hosea 7:1). But it is not so!

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

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


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

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

If some did not receive the grant of repentance (Acts 11:18), even though Christ did not come to condemn, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17), God being willing that all might be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:1-6): it was not because the Lord had  a lapse of concentration, or a technical failure. It was not for such reasons that many are doomed (Matthew 7:13-14, Mark 9).

Pilfering His product (themselves), with those who do "always resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51-52), despite outpourings of divine grace, even reaching to manifest divine revelation (Acts 7:53) and in fact, to the Light Himself when He came (John 1-3) into the world, and the express willingness that it might be saved (John 3:17), they find gravity rather than grace as they hurtle with remorseless heart, over the cliff of the rock on which they should have stood, to the waters of death.

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

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

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

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

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

His judgments, to be sure on the other side, follow with distinctness, even if amazing extensions - before eventual impact - may occur to the point that Ezekiel was instructed to deal with a newer type of tortuous twisting on the part of mockers. Their new contortion of truth: it was to the effect and complaint that God prolongs things: THEREFORE, says the prophet from the mouth of the Lord, JUDGMENT IS NOW.

There will be no more delay (Ezekiel 12:22-28). Compare to this, Jeremiah 17:19-27 where a proposition for prolonged and wonderful blessing, even to remain for ever (17:25), was made: even in the midst of judgment, a fresh proposal of splendid mercy was provided, one which their hearts were not in tune to keep, though it was ever so simple, and filled with grace. They would not heed even that.

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

Neither aspect, love or sovereignty, seeking in mercy (in which CATEGORICALLY, GOD DELIGHTS - Micah 7:18-19) or declaring in judgment - presenting or precluding, pre-empts the other: God is not divided, and knows His own mind, and declares in truth His own heart.

What He says in principle, over and over in this form, phrase and phase and in that, as He constantly reveals the love and the seeking (cf. Hosea 12:10), and as He repeatedly constrains and controls with His decisions and determinations, His sovereign edicts: BOTH we know, and that, it is the whole point. Only philosophy objects with its running sore of uncontrolled thrusting past the word of God, to satisfy this or that human instinct: and as to that, as Paul declares, it is vain; for what is man's thought compared with the Lord, and man's thoughts are not as His.

As to those who know Him, however, they know this, that this miracle of miracles, that HE should penetrate to their heart and find them, it is the work of God for whom nothing shall be said to be impossible (Luke 1:37, John 6:28-29). Nothing BUT that work and that work alone, could have secured it (John 10:26); but as John 1-3 makes so superabundantly clear, God is not selectively disregarding where it counts, anyone in the scope of His offer and the reality of His love; it is a preference for darkness in the very face of this universality of the divine cover of charity, which is cited as the ground of condemnation (John 3:15-19); it is the failure to come to Him in the face of such words and deeds as these, which is cited against them (John 15:21-23).

Without that, as the Scripture says, to the point at issue (their salvation), "they would have had no sin. But now...", it is the end, for there is no other beginning for sinners, but this.

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

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

a) "they have no excuse for their sin"

b) "they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father".

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

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

An impermeable, impenetrable,

undying, ungrounded, unfounded,

unruly and intemperate


of intimate, ultimate value and majesty,

tenderness and mercy from Creator to creature.

Christ is not demi-urge but deity, and denial of Him in His mercy mandate ministry is consignment to hell by one's own soaring folly as efficient - all too efficient - cause. It is this ultimate denial in His gracious, Messianic face which is the defined, despatch notice to doom.

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



And the invitation is no less clear, "For as many as received Him to them He gave the authority to become children of God" - John 1:12.

The interminable horror of the folly is justly seen in its counterpart and destiny: the "everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2).

To subtract acceptance, as if one merely were on auto-pilot under mechanical control; or to add good works, church works, church acceptance, penances, indulgences, traditions, hopes, gurus, ancient as with Rome or recent as with mutant Buddhist, Hindu or other existential varieties, self-fulfilment, self-assertion in spiritual things, methods ... to the work of Christ, is to subtract truth or to add folly to love, blatancy to beauty, flesh to spirit, restlessness for rest, vinegar for balm, and pride for humility.

Christ ALONE is perfect and offered Himself WITHOUT SIN or SPOT to God, His Father, thereby purchasing eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12), so that those so covered are “perfected for ever” by one offering (Heb. 10:10), and those thus redeemed (Ephesians 1:7), “have obtained an inheritance” (as in Romans 8:32 in precise parallel): for just as His love is vast and illimitable in scope, so is His redemption limited and arithmetically precise in coverage. It is a limited atonement, a limited attainment in sheep found, but an unlimited issuance in love presented. The price is adequate, effectual, delimited, pure, only His (Acts 4:11-12, Hebrews 9:12-14, Galatians 3:1-13).


To add to the purchase price given by God alone, by the work of sinners, in terms of your own merit or will (Romans 9:16, John 1:12), proclivities or powers, or any contribution therefrom;   or anybody else's, or that of any group, theologian or body, or in terms of any innate godliness or God-suitability (Ephesians 2:1-10): this is a presumption so bold, an addition so contrived, a denial of the freedom of salvation so vast, an antidote to the deliverance of Galatians 3:1-5 so complete, a rejection of the amplitude of Galatians 6:14 so perfect, as to form a badge almost for a brigade within that everlasting contempt.

There, instead of direct rejection, you find the adornment of God with man’s assertions; instead of open contempt for Christ, you find what despises His covenant; instead of protection by His blood, there is discovered a wasting substitute for faith.

Here sinners 'help', as did the High Priest with Pilate. (Hebrews 9:12-15,24-28; 10:10,14, Romans 6:24, 5:15, 3:25-28, Galatians 3:1-5, 6:14, I Peter 1:18-21,3-5, John 11:49-50, II Corinthians 5:17-21, 11:1-13:6.)


Indeed, it is important that tradition should not blind to the fact that some may UNINTENTIONALLY add by implication with an X-factor of God-desirability (cf. Calvin in Predestination and Freewill Section II and The Kingdom of HeavenCh. 4), back of election, of predestination; just as much as others may do much the same with an express confession of the efficacy of their own wills, in the selection for salvation! Moreover, in efforts and endeavours to make some point sure, instead of simply relying on the word of God, many bring in unnecessary controversy. In the end, it is all over before it begins: it is written, on the one side and the other, and neither can add by their traditions and irreconcilable antinomies or adverse contentions.


The only safe procedure is to take the word of God as it comes, not to take it where you think it should go; and while God is merciful, there is no comfort to the church of God in philosophic preoccupations defiling the purity of His word.



The rags of ecclesiastical or personal or social self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6, Jeremiah 17:5-9, I Cor. 3:3-11) are indeed filthy. Did PAUL die for you, or PETER, or THE CHURCH, or some theologian, or some sect, or did some tradition of men, some named theologian amongst men (cf. the prohibition in I Corinthians 3:4) ? Did he or it rise for your justification (Romans 4:25). Does Christ need your help, or that of Peter, whom He had to rebuke sharply in terms of satanic error, when the latter took it into his head to 'help' Christ (Matthew 16:22-23) by some invention of his own ?

In His divinity, God has accomplished His work of predestination, applying all His love, and securing the result. In your humanity, you need to receive it, leaving to God the treatment of will, knowing this, that what concerns you is not making excuse in terms of the only harmony on earth, touching responsibility and sovereignty, freedom and determinism, but facing it squarely, that this being gone, you must come or not. Changing the appeal to philosophic tantrums will do nothing to alter the result, except in the end, these merely attest your preference for darkness. In the truth, however, there is only light! (See references at the end of this Excursion, esp. where marked red.)


Such inventions, as Peter momentarily tell into, may be intentional, outrageous by design; or confused, imputing without thought; but when each is exposed, then to cling to it, or to some school of theology which is not endorsed by the Bible, adding to protect just as Liberals subtract to sack, then warning is needed; for the whole process is in vain.


What is written equally affirms the unlimited love of God back of the salvation enterprise, and the unlimited sovereignty of God in applying that love. He neither resiles from it, nor abandons its supervision. As to the love of God, it is necessary to remember that it is GOD’s; and as to the scope of it, it is in parallel needful to recall that it is without limit, that it does not flicker unsteadfastly, but is what He says it is, speaking again and again with both direct and indirect testimony of its intensity and the profundity of grief when it is not received.


In the end, much falls from His love, and naturally this He has known from the beginning (Ephesians 1:4); yet it is not by this limited in kind, but in the reception of its kindness. In all this, man is so adept at adding to the word of God, the ideas of his own mind, for this or for that, that to escape such pollution of the pure love of God, or His plan of salvation, requires a discipline that sees beyond tradition, and reads WHAT IS THERE!


As to that sort of pollution, nowadays it would probably be dignified by the term 'theology', but unless repented of, it readily becomes merely idolatry, allowing the things of man to add to the things of God, when the Gospel, even if  PAUL HIMSELF should change it, merely condemns the arrogance of those who so act (Galatians 1:6-9). Paul's gospel was not future, but PAST in this,  that it was what HE HAD PREACHED at the time of writing. (See The Everlasting Gospel - Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 17.)

Addition of ANYTHING to Christ's personal work is utterly condemned, and of anything to our own value, but what grace provides, no less (Romans 10). Such things represent in the end, a monstrous and monumental perversion of the truth (Gal. 3:1-13). Indeed, those who add to "these things" are exemplified in Peter's momentary fall, not his repentance (I Peter 5:1-4, 1:3-5, Revelation 22:18-19, Proverbs 30:6).

Rejection is a perverse syndrome, sometimes acting in flamboyant disregard, at times in wily subtleties, seeking to add, or change without confrontation, at times acting as if to accept in forms, but without faith. However, without FAITH you cannot please God, and the OBJECT OF FAITH is the FOUNDATION, Jesus Christ (not a sinner, Creator in form of creature, but per se Creator, Philippians 2), whose death wholly atones (Galatians 3:1-13), whose resurrection brings justification, whose people are through faith in Him, already saved (II Timothy 1:9-10, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:1-10).

Acceptance however, acceptance "in the beloved" (Ephesians 1:3-6), whereby the Christian has already "obtained an inheritance" (1:11), like the clear-hearted acceptance of Christ crucified, yes rather risen (Romans 8:31-33), in repentance towards God, leads to such an abundance, an outpouring (cf. Proverbs 1:20-33) that it is scarcely comprehensible in its profundity (cf. Ephesians 3:17-21), being like a geyser for vigour, like a mountain for solidity, like a breeze for purity and freshness, like manna from heaven, as undeserved, like the love of the artist of beauty so long pre-programmed and now seen in dawning and sunset, when swept away are the clouds of sin and self and other-selves.

These last? They are found in items such as church in the place of Christ, or pope, or priest, or self, or society, or community, or nation, or United Nations or some adventitious theology. Some of these are things that could, if acting in appointed places, levels or roles,  be good; but which become damnable when they act to usurp the pre-rogatives of God. In others of these cases, it is their very nature, they are so constructed as to usurp; but not by God! (Cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H.)

To all this there is indeed an "everlasting contempt" most horrible in that it is most apt; for how much fouler is it to modify a gift of another, to pollute by sinful imperfections the sinless perfection of God.

 For the residue of the except, see The Power of Christ’s Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings Ch. 1, End-note  2, to which the reader is encouraged to turn. For the original setting, see Repent or Perish Ch. 1.


B. From Predestination and Freewill, Section 2

 (for  end-notes, please consult the original, through the hyperlink above)

This salient sovereignty appeared unduly to monopolise the toils of predestination; and not unexpectedly it met unretreating opposition in some quarters. So near systematic as to be intellectually appealing, it was emotionally cacophonous to the ears of many religious expedients; and even doctrinally divergent from some of the data. The extremes provoked by this view, however, if more satisfying to a 'feeling for' generalised divine beneficence at the highest level of destiny, nevertheless came to be set in a form perhaps even less amenable to the claims of Scripture and reason.

Wesley himself was slow to condemn Calvinistic Predestination in any official way. He long strove for friendly ministerial relations with Whitefield; he was reluctant to discriminate against Calvinists in his Classes: but at length he reacted sharply, and said of this form of predestination: It represents ­ .

"Our blessed Lord as a hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man void of common sincerity, as mocking his helpless creatures bar offering what He never intends to give, by saying one thing and meaning another *89.

For some 50 years Wesley was an unflagging and vociferous proponent of the propositions of Arminianism, and held that all men had their sins expiated by Christ whose love lavishly had done all adequately, had effected expiation for all. Now we can see the force which led to such an extreme reaction: for just as Calvin's doctrine would (inferentially) omit the highest form of love, as pan­operative, from predestination, so Wesley's would show it not merely present without prejudice on earth for the purposes of salvation, but even fixed in a format of universal redemption! Indeed, as the first system would withhold the adapted love *90 , so the other would provide the effected atonement: as the one from thoseto be lost, so the other to them ­ and both without sufficient warrant. Nor is even this comparison necessarily other than unilinear: for a love absent in predestination will be so also in actuality ­ because it was so predestined! These extremes, then, are

understandable, but they are not acceptable:
if we are interested in conformity to our data *91.
Not, that is, just as they stand.

Of Calvin we have spoken; but Wesley we must ask: Can penalty justly be exacted twice? (and are you not he who has spoken against Calvin in terms of being reasonable*92 and of God's being just?). But if it cannot be so exacted, how then on the premise of universal redemption would God be free in judging to penalise any? If it was notexacted of Christ for all,then there was no expiation forall.But if itwas exacted for all, then there is no judgment for *93.

We read, again, in Hebrews*94 that Christ redeemed us from the transgressions which were under the first covenant; in Galatians *95 that He did so from the curse of the law, through His cursed death ("being made a curse for us"). In Hebrews*96 also we find express correlation of the pervasive principles that it is given unto man once to die *97 and that Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. It follows with entailment that this proposed formula of universal redemption has implicit (and not merely potential) juridical efficacy.

Whether therefore we reason from 'the things that are equal' *98 or from the direct doctrine on this point, we reach the same conclusion.

Again, Christ states categorically in a cause­ effect formulation, that in the relationship between ultimate salvatory grouping and faith, the former is the cause and the latter the results.

"Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep." *99 Indeed He made a practical and in appearance almost pertinacious categorisation of some present as: "not my sheep". This disjunction was made in the very situation where the categorical cause ­effect statement eras uttered. Christ explicitly advised that He laid down His life for His sheep, and that these will never perish. We are thus confronted with a redemption which is effective and selective in fact; and Wesley is at variance. But we must not stray to the other extreme by gratuitously assuming any defect in the extent of the actuating love: for this does not follow, as we shall see.

In Isaiah­, so greatly used for quotation in the New Testament, but especially in this 53rd chapter, we find:

"He will justify many". *100

A sufficient cause for this action is then added:

"Because He will bear their iniquities." *100

Now God is no respecter of persons; and there is but one Gospel available to any man; and we are instructed that:" Whom He justified, them He also glorified"*101. Therefore, once again, it cannot be said that He bears the iniquities of any who are to be lost: otherwise they would be both justified and glorified. That love so justly dear to Wesley is not to be formally captured in just that way.

It is interesting and illustrative of what we said of motive for passing over these considerations in pursuit of love, that almost immediately one says this, and insists on grounds of which these few suffice as examples, that there is a limited atonement in the sense of pardon effected for ­ and through history to be provided to ­ the elect: this divine logic and efficiency seem to be mistaken for a tragic (and unScriptural) economy implying a deficiency of divine predestinative desire or devices which occasions the abandonment of most mortals.

Logically and textually neither view works; each involves a systematic expansion of a discreetly Scriptural principle: the one sovereignty, the other love. Each is true in its Scriptural (and uncompromised) form; neither in philosophic reinvestment; both cohere, we shall seek to show, for example, as far as the 'giving of a reason' may require us to go, in such a provisional harmony as Section III is to present.

This is not to say that we do not find a particular and valuable stress in Wesley, as a preaching proponent of open salvation. On the contrary! It is that of the adapted and adequate willingness of God even towards those who will be found to be non­elect. Abstracting this from the theological form in which it was invested, one obtains a sturdy reaffirmation in the Church of the considerations and textual points noted in our endeavour to moderate some of the more extreme reaches of Augustine's teaching. Even if, as sometimes in this area, we find an inclination for attitudes as much as for propositions, we must ensure that we enfold these in articulated form without missing the determinative influence of our data.

In a letter to Calvinist Whitefield, Wesley once said:

"The case is quite plain; there are bigots for predestination and against it; God is sending a message to either side, but neither will receive it unless from one who is of their opinion. Therefore for a time you are suffered to be of one opinion and I of another. But when His time is come God will do what men cannot, namely make us both of one mind."

Might we not interpret the attitude and express in other terms: The case is quite plain. There are too rationalised and too liberalised views of predestination. We must avoid both and seek not merely to avoid them, but to be constrained by our data.


End of Excerpt

The will of man is relevant but not operative; the will of God is that all might come to a knowledge of the truth, and is operative. It is so, but not dictatorial. So do men strive needlessly.


C. From Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy
Ch. 9, *2


Romans 9 makes it crystal clear that divine foreknowledge has NOTHING to do with a man's future works, merits or attainments. There is NOTHING of merit in it. Alas, Calvinism can readily (and entirely unintentionally) come so close to ascribing merit, that it is sad. Thus WHY should someone be chosen by God ? because of NO differentiation ? That is caprice, not wisdom, which God personifies and essentialises, being its true and only ultimate source. Christ is made to us wisdom, and this is because as in Proverbs 8 (Barbs, Arrows and Balms 27), this is Himself.

Again, IF there is differentiation, is it because of something nearer, dearer or clearer  at least to godliness, or not ? If not, then is it perverse ? Of course not. What then is the basis ?
ungodliness ? Biblically it is love, unrestricted in outreach, glorious in power, grand in kindness. It is in nothing divorced in its ample procedures, from itself, by the God who IS love.

However, it is precisely this wholly unscriptural divorce from the citation of the will of man as relevant which leads to such fuzzy things.

In fact, it is the WILL of man which is cited. Now at once, it is to be noted that sin has made it operationally defunct  (that is one of the best of all the features of Calvinism, to make this so very clear, as in I Cor. 2:14, Ephesians 4:17ff.). Indeed, the insistence on the 'choice' of man in his own unsaved state, is one of the glaring foci of Arminianism which makes the corresponding error of Calvinism, itself vastly nearer to Scripture as a system, the more readily understandable. They often fight it out, quite foolishly, in this, where both are wrong.

Operationally defunct, however, though it be, it is as we have seen, directly and repetitively cited by God in terms of the non-salvation of the loved sinner. It is therefore in principle perfectly certain that in SOME way, God does not proceed because of the will of man, in HIS OWN knowledge, which OMITS any thought of future attainments or performance (Romans 9). In principle, this is very easy to understand, though in the form of God, He may of course implement this revealed principle in any way, except in this, a feckless or dysfunctional way, for it is sure to be successfully wrought by Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). With God, the knowledge will be knowledge indeed, be it foreknowledge or any other kind; for in Christ is all the fulness of the Godhead, and in God are all the riches of knowledge and wisdom (Colossians 2:3, Ephesians 3:8, Colossians 2:8-9).

In PF, as in SMR Ch. 8, one has shown how it MIGHT have been wrought. It is necessary to do this in that context in order to DEMONSTRATE the coherence and competence of the Biblical picture of these things, in contrast to the necessary and intrinsic failure of all else to cover all the components, guilt, liberty, deterministic elements, sovereignty and the like. That this is so has been shown in some detail in Sparkling Life ... Ch. 7.

However, there is no necessity, of course, since the form of God is an infinite reality, that it be done in that way; nor is it the intention, nor has it ever been in these writings, to suggest any such thing. What is in fact necessary, in view of His REVELATION, is that there be

His love to the depths of His Being for the lost.

His provision for that love.

His foreknowledge in such a way that this love for them is to His entire satisfaction implemented.

His knowledge of the relevant feature of the human will, itself inoperative AT THIS LEVEL as shown, on this earth, which concerns Him, to ensure the integrity of His love is met, and its virtue.

is not merit. God's knowledge of it, is not a knowledge of merit. It is a knowledge of need. As to the will of man, it is only when it is corrupted that its exercise would involve a RELATIVE merit. In its uncorrupted state, it is merely proceeding without loss, to follow the way it is. In wickedness, it would enter into comparabilities, one will with the other; in the goodness of an unspotted creation, however, it is merely what it ought to be, no better than made, a blessed function not misaligned.

Moreover, if Adam had chosen otherwise, when sinless, that would be no merit in the slightest degree. This is manifest. What would then have been the case ? This: He had the need, he stayed with it, and went as one would hope he would do. One formulation, then would be this: that God knows what man, each man, would have willed, had he been free to will, and not polluted by the confusions and blindnesses of sin. As to God, He does not need time to know this, nor does He need to refer to it, and He in His divine majesty is in no respect limited.

Whether God proceeds in this way, in some such METHODOLOGY as this, it is not now for us to know; that He MIGHT do something of this kind is the point. In principle, there is no problem. It meets moreover all the scriptures. What is sure is that He is not oblivious of man as a willing being, in making His choice, nor is He in the slightest degree directed by man (to become, to the point, incompetent). It is a wise sovereignty, lovingly selecting, without abuse of the nature of what He has made. Man is citable and cited for any loss, and THIS IS the condemnation, that in the presence of HIS light, this divine outreach without limit, man has preferred darkness, in HIS own very presence, man has not received Him.

This is certainly what the scripture teaches, and Wesley's unlovely Arminianism with which he appears to have tried to protect it, and Calvin's unlovely mysterious predestination (in the sense, relating to the selection and love) with which he appears at such loss to scriptural fidelity to try to protect the sovereignty: these are two of the byways of the church. The men are not. They erred, each, and Wesley, it would seem, quite as grievously in his inadequate system as Calvin in his restrictive intrusions into what is written (cf. PF). Thus, in this precise point of the love of God, Wesley was right and Calvin wrong. In the theology of the whole matter, Calvin has magnificent points to make, and Wesley fails.

It is time to get away from these forbidden things, I of Calvin, I of Wesley (and for that matter, I of Luther) and to be thankful for what each of them contributes, for each has a wonderful provision to make, in this area or that, and none is perfect. The TEST is the scripture, and as in any provision, when it is made, one can see the error and delight in the true tones where they are. Greatness is no excuse for violating the scripture on this point; and as to that, it speaks and has spoken for itself. The ONLY wisdom is to follow it, in all doctrine.

The great delight is this, that God IS love, is not the author of sin, but of liberty, and even when liberty is de-licensed through the breaches of sin, making man defunct in adequate spiritual knowledge, distorted and distorting in his comprehension, God is ABLE to find the lost, and is on record in this, that it PLEASED HIM, having placed all fulness in Christ as man, the Messiah incarnate God, to RECONCILE ALL THINGS to Himself. If it pleases man to demean this scope with his inept and inadequate philosophies, whether miscalled theology or not, this does nothing to diminish the glory of God, but by contrast to highlight it. Blessed be God.


   D. From Predestination and Freewill, Section 2, and Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2, *1.


The latter incorporates both elements. Some slight adaptation may occur, including *1 for (1) below.


A Detailed Note in the Field of Fidelity

 For the actual statements of Calvin, clearly showing his error in this regard, see Predestination and Freewill pp.76ff. He 'admits' Christ's call as a hen to her chicks, which includes this, HOW OFTEN WOULD I have gathered you under My wings, but equivocates with the irrelevant, as if an expression of the divine desire in Christ is in some way to become enmeshed in metaphors, rather than being taken to mean what it precisely states, an index to Calvin's confusion at this point. "We must not define the will of God," he declares immediately after this 'admission' concerning Christ.

No, we assuredly must not, except from His word, and above all from His Son, the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form, so that "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." There is nothing of the merely metaphorical about this statement of what Christ so often would have done, or the contrast between this willingness and their eventual desolation through rejection. Whether you use hands or wings or words, it is one: you show what you would have liked to do.

We MUST define the will of God from His word and His Son for HE has already done so and He is the EXACT EXPRESSION of His Person (Hebrews 1), so that the one seeing Him, has already seen the Father (cf. John 6:40, 14:9)! ANY DIVORCE IS IN THE MIND OF MAN, NOT OF GOD... 'Accommodation' is incommodious when it rips the reality from the representation coming from the very WORD of God, whose word is truth,  who IS the truth, whose words are as commanded. If God declares exact representation, then we must follow, for the jousting with false jubilation must cease.

As Christ is, so it is. He is not in the form of a man and of a servant (yet without sin), that becoming flesh He should cease to BE the ONE who was in the form of God. Informed with light, He sheds no darkness; and the light of the world is in nothing at fault; nor is God without means of expression, nor is His Word without ample capacity to express.

This then is perhaps the worst lapse of Calvin, and while he sought to avoid confusion, in this liberty and indeed laxity, he merely created more by presumption against the very words of Christ, and his own words ignoring the actual issue with irrelevancies that neither touch the issue, nor even contact it. The metaphorical forms of speech do not mangle the fact but illustrate it; and the will which these signify is not dulled but made simply clear and clearly simple in the process: not simplistic, but clear like light, in which is NO darkness at all.

It is time for more unity in this enthralling and delightful beauty spot, the love of God: His loving sovereignty and His sovereign love.

The opposite extreme is most common also. See Section 2, op. cit. for further development of this matter.

It needs attention in the love of Christ, according to His word, most clear and most perfect in this as in all its divulgements.



For convenience an excerpt from the Predestination and Freewill is here given:

"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 B as also Ch.8, pp. 636-643."

Calvin's equivocation here is astounding. He speaks as if the fact that in Christ God appeared as man had a strange consequence. It is as if His being made man,  made truth not the criterion of His utterance, precise, profound. From Calvin at this place, it is as if Christ's coming precluded this, which nevertheless He said and TRULY: that "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" , as in John 14, and that "I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak... Therefore whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

What results from this then ? You have only one choice. Irrationally to reject Christ, or to accept His words. If His words be true, Calvin here is not; if Calvin were true here, Christ's words would be contravened. This is no sacred mystery, but an evil aspersion on Christ's words, though doubtless such was never Calvin's intention. Never move from Christ as THE TRUTH, speaking as DIRECTLY COMMANDED by His eternal Father, and you will never move from the incarnation as BEING THE EXACT IMAGE OF GOD in its outcome (Hebrews 1:3), or again be in the shelters of philosophy, cowering as before enemy aircraft, afraid of what is not known. KNOWLEDGE has come.

We do not know the FORM of God (I Timothy 6:16), but  we DO know Him to be holy, and wholly reliable; we DO know His character, His commands and His truth. Having seen Christ, we do indeed see the Father; and having known Christ, we do indeed KNOW THE FATHER (John 8:26,31,32,42,47,55; 14:7-11). His humanity is not a road block, but specifically the contrary: the AVENUE OF MANIFESTATION not of thought and hope, but of GOD! It may be veiled in flesh, but the veil exhibits what is below the veil: indeed this IS eternal life, that you should KNOW God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3).

Now of course Calvin brings up things like metaphors, including this:

"He says that he has stretched out his arms ... to call a rebellious people (Isaiah 65:2); early and late he has taken care to lead them back to him. If they want to apply all this to God, disregarding the figure of speech, many superfluous contentions will arise."

This however simply is irrelevant to the point at issue and is a good illustration of the fact that NO MAN is to be followed, but the word of God only: though some man's words be found ever so helpful. The greatest can fall. NOT of Calvin, or of Wesley! THAT is the consideration that is CLEARLY written with not a metaphor in sight! (I Cor. 3).

Let us now be practical. It will not hurt. Is there any question of what God is saying in the cited passage in Isaiah? Of course not. There is no issue about whether He is earnest, diligent, whether He SENDS His messages through His messengers, seen presumably as engaging Him in their own activities ("in all their afflictions, He was afflicted" - Isaiah 63:9). The matter is INCAPABLE of misinterpretation. The metaphors enliven it, make it clear in human terms; they do not seduce, speaking in one set of imagery which obscures, renders ambiguous, far less denies what is the point of the metaphoric mini-parable, if you like. You see the Lord in this figure of Isaiah's, in His earnest, dawn breaking zeal. Very well, that is known. Since Christ Himself in fact DID just that, arising a great while before the break of day, it is even less of any tendentious character. AS MAN, GOD DID JUST THAT! (Mark 1:35).

Now how does this evacuate the MESSAGE which the FIGURE of hens and chickens provides in exact parallel to that of the zeal of the Lord, in the other ? The figure is about hens and chickens, in this, that LIKE that, He has acted. But the simile is simply passing*. It proceeds:


THIS is the DIRECT statement. One, called Christ, had a strong, deep and direct desire which is evocatively likened to that of a hen for her chickens. It is intense, immense, earnest and warm. This is the thrust. He is not BECOMING a hen in this picture. He is likening what HE FEELS and WOULD HAVE, to the way a hen appears to act. In the FACE of this (as in 'stretched out', the imagery cited from Isaiah by Calvin himself), this earnest zeal, this unequivocal desire (not a decision to force, but a decision to seek with ardour), CHRIST STATES WHAT HE FINDS. He has this zeal and this desire, and its character is compared to the hen's thirst and desire for chicks, to protect them.

Despite this desire, hen or no hen,

this intense  WILLINGNESS and ZEST which was His,
but which was given an analogy of the most direct and simple kind,
EXACTLY as in the case of stretching out arms,
He finds an equally evocative result.
It is this:


Thus even the case cited by Calvin merely confirms the point. The imagery is evocative, and declarative of content, as is normal in imagery. It is clear, as is normal in good imagery. It means that the Lord NOT ONLY desired to find the lost, but that His desire was cardinal, direct, assured and indisputable. It is :

1) direct - I WOULD HAVE GATHERED. This does not mean: I WOULD NOT HAVE GATHERED, hen or no hen!

2) evocatively presented in the hen format: LIKE that sort of deeply emotional and desirous quality which a hen exhibits, so was His. AS... SO. THESE are HIS words and HIS words are as COMMANDED by His Father, and this He declares, who is the word of God. Who knows the word better than the word ? Let him stand forth!

3) The result is categorical.  I WOULD... YOU WOULD NOT.

Now we come to the next error of Calvin, who sidestepped this issue with a mere flurry of words, in gross distortion of the simplicity of the positive-negative propositions of Christ: I WOULD... YOU WOULD NOT. And this which must be added : IT HAPPENED LIKE THAT .... OFTEN!! (HOW OFTEN WOULD I ...!).

Calvin states in his peculiar fashion in this context, that "although to our perception God's will is manifold, he does not will this and that in himself, but according to his diversely manifold wisdom, as Paul calls it (Eph.3:10), he strikes dumb our sense until it is given to us to recognize how wonderfully he wills what at the moment seems to be against his will."

So He is WILLING what in CHRIST'S OWN WORDS is ONE THING. The will celestially however is quite another. The Father, we evidently are to learn from Calvin at this point,  is NOT doing this. As to this, the Lord's own statement of simplicity and clarity, the theory is:

it merely distorts the complex situation which in essence is OTHER and DIVERSE, indeed DIVERGENT. In appearance ? If only in appearance, well: then in reality He is willing just as His son, speaking as commanded BY HIM, is speaking. That is the function of word when it is TRUTH. But if in reality, then the word of the Saviour is countermanded in heaven, and He who is to show God shows what is not TRUE. The ludicrous nature of truth being untrue, we shall leave for the scholars. The fidelity and precision of God is witnessed throughout all scirpture, to the contrary, and He stakes His NAME on it! We for our part, in interpreting what He says, will stick FIRST to WHAT He says, both in Christ and elsewhere, and not make yes mean no, and assuredly mean not really!

First, however, let us consider Calvin's  quotation from Ephesians 3:10. There the context is this: formerly there was no such clear and manifest notion of Jew-Gentile fellowship in the Gospel as is now revealed. Unsearchable are the riches of Christ, and while this amplitude of logical simplicity, the historical fact that first the Jew-Gentile mix was not at all close in the matter of relationship to God - indeed they were was apart, NOW the Jew-Gentile are in this able to be together. While this is so, it is ONLY in Christ, the one - the Jewish nation,  having first rejected him, and the other, the Gentiles nations,  at first not having known of him. This WISDOM is indeed manifold, as the apostle states: but it is not in the least obscure!

There is not the slightest issue of DIFFICULTY:  merely it is one of strategic beauty, and glorious composition. It is not in the least a question of what is a flat contradiction becoming uncontradictory, what is a denial becoming an affirmation. It is that what was FOR AN ABSENT REASON, not present, now by the PRESENCE OF THAT REASON, hs become operative. Without Christ, they were separate and severed in relationship to God, nation to nations. Now they are not so divided. Why ? It is because they have Christ, the great basis of unity in God, from God, for God.

What then ? Without a cheque book, you COULD not abide the high prices. NOW that you have a well-padded one, you find no problem at all. There is in NEITHER case, the slightest question about clarity or confusion. No means ? then no result: that is all.

The MANIFOLD WISDOM of God, then, is as is stated in Proverbs 8:8: in His words there is NOTHING "wreathed". It is ALL CLEAR to him who understands, we are told. Tha is what is written. There is the OPPOSITE of clever semantic play; and there the precise contrary of allowing misconception and misconstruction. The words of God are clear to the one who understands them, seeking as silver as in Psalm 119, and what is less clear, as on a fine day looming from the mist, becomes more so.

What is present is the simple need to read what is written, from God, in whom is no iniquity, to examine what it is saying as the speaker gives it out in His chosen place, and to examine all else like it that He has stated. If it is difficult, well. That is quite different from twisted, distorted, the very things that Proverbs EXPLICITLY DENIES to the word of God. It may be hard; it is never wrong. It may challenge ingenuity; it never threatens truth. ONLY by insertion or desertion can that happen! That is the challenge given, and this is the experience found. They are as one.

The ABUSE of this MANIFOLD CONCEPT, by Calvin,  to achieve what the apostle Paul is NOT saying, is if not contemptible, at least confused. People might at times have THOUGHT God would not favour the Gentiles (but He states the opposite often enough in Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 67ff., Isaiah 49 and so on, and relates it in Jonah with the utmost eloquence). People might not have realised that in Christ the result of togetherness would come (but God STATES that Israel is to have a new name, acknowledges they will reject their own Messiah - Isaiah 49:7, resoundingly states that HIS servants will be called by another name while Israel's servants will hunger and thirst, Isaiah 65:13-15, and makes it clear that in Christ will all the justified be covered, whoever and of whatever race they may be - Isaiah 53:6,10-11, 44:5, 45:22-25).

Thus we are not finding a conundrum solved, but a feature focussed, a commencement consummated, so that what He had begun to exhibit, He now exhibits in the utmost detail.

Hence any use of this passage in Ephesians 3:10, to make it appear that God is an author of self-contradiction, or even One who makes statements of a devious, unclear or misleading character, is ludicrous. It is CONSUMMATION that is expressed here, of wisdom already shown, not NEGATION of oddities which were contrary. There is NEVER any question that God's words are not CLEAR to the understanding reader. He may be baulked by his own ineptitude, but not by divine deficiency in that beautiful art of coherent and logical speech.

Further, this appeal is merely trivial. To suggest that because God in fact can engage in progressive revelation, that therefore He can contradict in the most emphatic and direct sense what He is evocatively and potently declaring, is a case of making another sort of speech for the Lord, than that which He claims for Himself, and commends (Isaiah 41,43,44,45,48 are eloquent on His TESTABILITY in DETAIL and NEVER being unclear - so as to be untestable for comparison purposes - or misleading, inaccurate or wrong).

CHRIST as MAN speaking to MEN by DIRECT COMMAND of His eternal Father, as His eternal word, stated His feelings, His wishes and the results. There is no room for talking of a double will, or a confused will, or a forked will. CHRIST SAYS IT IS ONE THING, and CALVIN SAYS IT IS ANOTHER, the direct opposite.It is a choice in this case between Christ and Calvin. Do not even children do this, saying that mummy or daddy REALLY meant that they SHOULD go out when they said they SHOULD NOT, because how manifold (tricky ?) is the will of parents, and how often they ask one to show courage, so yes, one should GO out when told NOT to. This is fiddling and pettifoggery.

When "what is human is transferred to God" says Calvin on Matthew 23:37, as if this "explains" his flat contradiction of the words of the Saviour, that covers it. That is all it is, so we can now know that the thing stated by THE LORD is not final, is not indeed, true. It is suggestive of something; it is not expressive of what it says. What it says, this is intensely asserted as the case, and the One who does it, is the Maker of the case, for one, for all!

Does however this, Christ's being human, then explain it ? that what He says is not the case ? If that were so, then what is God when transferred to man, this too will not ACTUALLY  expose the reality of His character, expression, desire (for that is MOST EMPHATIC HERE) and so on. This represents is a denial of the incarnation, even of its relevance to TRUTH; yet Christ said He was the TRUTH. Now Calvin, carried away in a good cause (to prevent misconception of the power of man), has simply gone too far. Man DOES lack power relative to God, but GOD DOES NOT LACK POWER RELATIVE TO MAN, and in particular, His power of speech is consummate, precise, the subject of challenge in comparison with all other speech for the CLEAR and TESTABLE performance of what it claims.

Calvin does not mean so to deny, and if he did, then all his theology, like Barth's, would become illicit, vain, a contradiction of what he affirms. How can God make anything clear if this will, emotion and desire cannot be made clear because as a PERSON SENT FROM HEAVEN AND INCARNATED ON EARTH AS A MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE, He cannot convey the actualities of the situation. The race having been manufactured thus, in this format, He cannot speak His mind ?  How much LESS could He have done so, if this were so, through the prophets, for this so obscure 'reason', then! Since the prophets  were mere men, sinners to boot, how much LESS could they convey reality, truth, of God Himself AS MAN, in the image created for just such a thing (Isaiah 51:6) is reputed here to be UNABLE to communicate better than the opposite of what He means!

Calvin did not mean it (the implications, we assume, based on his other utterances);
but he said it

Be warned you people -ism followers, you devotees of this or that, just because many Christians are indubitably excellent in much. Look to the head, not the shoulders! (cf. Hebrews 12:1). Calvin erred in this point, and one simply shows its enormity, not to make him appear heretical, but to show the grandeur of the error, contrary to his normal thought, into which he falls in his endeavours, misguided and misled, to avoid the teaching of the Saviour (not again, that he intended this, but he accomplished it!).  If Calvin could so err, let us all be careful, NOT to 'make' God mean what He either does not say, or the opposite of what He does! Let us read what is written, and find what is stated, and follow it, not some alternative, philosophically induced, in plain contrast to both the text and the terms it employs, such as  affirmation and negation!

Further, who is Calvin and who is any, to make it appear that when the Saviour is doing one thing, God in some OTHER way is so MANIFOLD in 'wisdom' that to HIS OWN WORD in the flesh, He is opposing a flat contradiction! Is God not then God ? But CHRIST IS in His own Person God ? Will God have a double mouth ? WIll He so invest and invent a situation (incarnation) that His truth is lost and His mouth is not! This is for God to DENY HIMSELF, statedly and logically impossible! (cf. II Timothy 2:13; see SMR pp. 25ff., 581ff., Barbs, Arrows and Balms  6).

Indeed, says Calvin, God does not will this and that in Himself! This is news! His will is so manifold that it is excluded from being this or that: Read Isaiah 30:8ff., and see. The very vocalisation of the word of God and His infinite backing to its jots and tittles (Matthew 5:17ff., Isaish 34:16, 59:21 etc. and see SMR Appendix D) means the precise opposite. What He knows is operative as He speaks, and He speaks what is true where truth is relevant, and He upbraids (John 8;40,44,46!) those who do not LISTEN to HIM a man who told them the truth! Yet how could He do so, if He was so inferior a representative of the divine word that the actuality of the thought of God was too manifest, manifold, to be reduced to mere speech! HOW HAVE a word if this were so, or incarnate it if jumbled semantics were the consequence, and clear unequivocal, even emphatic utterance of plainest kind were unreliable as to one little thing: that it accorded with FACT!

Mr Calvin, unfortunately though you have an objective, here, of some concern,  the price is too high, and the means are not right.

Now let us consider the reality of the word of God: GOD is indeed deep and masterful and marvellous, but PART of that WONDER is this, that He can SAY what He means and DO (accordingly) what HE SAYS, so that it OCCURS, the laboratory, the acid test (Isaiah 41,48)!

All this precludes any such nonsense as in this case, Calvin here falls into. Even the righteous man can fall seven times! Why worship man! Let us instead turn to the word of God, return to it and keep turning to it, for it is the TRUTH.

Calvin is of course utterly correct in rebuking those who want to make it appear GOD HAS TO ACT in this or that way towards all. However this is not that: GOD WANTS to act in this way towards all, and says so. HOW He works that out in history is His affair, and my Predestination and Freewill shows how it COULD happen, simply to remove any question of logical congestion. But that He knows how to be chaste and desirous would not appear too remarkable. All human love is informed with the same thing. However His sovereign majesty and double predestination of all needs no such help as this! (cf. I Peter 2:7-8, Romans 9:15-16 with 9:12!).

Let us not then throw away the power of Christ to SPEAK what His Father commanded, and BE the truth, and SPEAK the truth, in order to depart with some show of reverence from what that truth, in this matter, actually IS! It is all gloriously consistent, utterly delightful and by ANY alteration for ANY reason, it is like a beautiful design, spoiled. See on this also Predestination and Freewill. The word of God is indeed VERY PURE, refined seven times.

It is indeed regrettable that a man of the stature of Calvin should have made such mistakes, but it is a lesson, never to be so concerned for the appearance of difficulty (felt for some reason or other) as to actually CONTRADICT the word of God! He has His OWN answers; OUR part is to take it as it comes, not give such accolades that the meaning is reversed through sheer supremacy! as if speech were an art form divorced from deity when attempted to man, even by Himself as one of them: by incompetence of purpose, plan or equipment!


Added note for this present Volume

*1  Thus from Lamentations 2:10ff., we find the “daughter of Jerusalem” to include the elders! (bold added). For a full treatment of this aspect, see SMR Appendix A.

”The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground. Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.  They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers’ bosom.

“What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee? Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment.

“All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?  All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it. The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.

“Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease. Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.”


However in Calvin's Commentary on Romans, we have an allied error. It all seems to stem from the same misplaced fear, but the coherence of the parallel errors in this case is not admirable. Here, in commenting on Romans 1:17, Calvin advises us as follows: "In order that we may be loved by God we must first be righteous, for He hates unrighteousness. The meaning is, therefore, that we can obtain salvation from no other source than the Gospel..." This is in flamboyant contrast with Romans 5:8, the whole thrust of which is this: that amazing as it may seem, and beyond the highest human love expressed in sacrifice for what seems noble, God's love comes for what is INTRINSICALLY BAD! He loves the BAD in order to make it good, because it is His, and He made it and this is the nature of His heart's yearning (as in Lamentations 3:33, Ezekiel 33:11, I Timothy 2:1-6, Matthew 23:37 concerning which also, see SMR Appendix B for a fuller exposition).

It is NOT being said IN THE BIBLE, that God does not love until righteousness appears in the sinner; but the exact opposite. His love appears DESPITE THE ABSENCE of goodness in the object, indeed despite its PROFOUND absence; and  He commends His love to us in this, that He died for us EVEN in such a deplorable condition as that in which we were. NOTHING commended us. His LOVE commends itself in this, that when that was OUR position, THIS was HIS! In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Calvin does seem to have real trouble with the love of God! His exposition in this case of Romans 1:17 is precisely opposite to the divine affirmation, relative to what GOD is willing to love! Now it is TRUE that He loves righteousness, and it is also true that He MAKES the convert righteous by imputation, and makes FOR righteousness by planting with His own hands, and giving a right seed (I John 3:9), so that the sinner is both pardoned judicially and enabled dynamically, albeit in the latter regard, only imperfectly, yet with scope for growth and for maturity and for depth!

Romans 1:17 is actually NOT saying this about the love of God, not even mentioning it. In the preceding verse 16, the word of God is telling us things about the Gospel, including this, that it brings into force and focus a power with a special purpose, salvation. Here in v. 17, it is explaining things, starting with -  'for'.

We learn therefore in verse 17 of Romans 1, that the Gospel's being the power of God with the payload of salvation, relates to its revealing righteousness, "from faith to faith", so that "the just shall live by faith". This is explained further in Romans 3:23ff.. Meanwhile what is "from faith to faith" ? From the faith of prophet to the faith of the reader, comes the faith in the Lord to salvation, according as a man is called: this is one rendering. Again, it can mean that faith reads of this wonder and this opening its eyes further, reads yet more, going from strength to strength. It may mean both. Faith is used to evoke faith, the work of faith in the word being the way of faith to the reader.

This is the apparent thrust. When no limit appears, no ground except utter constraint can exclude different vistas of meaning. Whichever emphasis however one takes, and the stresses cohere, and this by no means is to be assumed to exhaust the COMPLEMENTARY beauties of this verse, the word of God  is not here saying or even implying that God loves only what is righteous!

His love does not DALLY, it is true, for ever with wickedness or the flesh would fail before Him (Genesis 6); and the conscience may be seared as with a hot iron, in those who reject the love of the truth (II Thessalonians 2, I Timothy 4:2, II Timothy 4:3). Yes, but this is not the teaching Calvin raises here, in his unheroic treatment of this text.

These two parallel importations into the Bible, one by force of contradiction and one by force of addition, do nothing to adorn the name of the scholar; but they do show, in view of his prodigious brilliance and helpfulness in so many fields, the need to go slow on 'ISMS'! Calvinism and the rest are, we remind ourselves (as in Repent or Perish 1), simply forbidden
(I Cor. 3).

Finally, even if it seem repetitive after Predestination and Freewill and The Kingdom of Heaven 4, let us realise that the SYSTEM of the 5 points of Calvin is NOT involved in this error, improper or lax means of preserving it never having been required (as shown in the above references, together with SMR Appendix B). They, for their part,  are a splendid array, seen in the light of the Bible as diversely shown throughout this site.

How pure is the word of God (Psalm 12, 111, 119), which for its part, NEVER ERRS, and how marvellous is the Lord who NEVER FAILS, and whose word is NOT WREATHED, contrived or imprecise, but rather soars like a space craft, perfect in comprehension, diligent in disposition, incorruptible in content.

Alas! it is man not God who can be 'manifold' in this sense, of being inconsistent! The word of God, for His part, is pure, seven times refined, not prolix. That is what it says, and what one finds. It is perfect in grace and nobility, in consistency and in depth; it challenges, but not by obscurity; it hammers, but not with dull noise. It is a precise instrument, and it reveals a love of righteousness and of the unrighteous, each in his or her place, so that the end result gains what is to be gained, but the initial outlay is something very different, enormously expensive, wholly sacred, and foreknown in the wisdom of God, in all its outcomes.

Indeed, WHOM He foreknew, not in works but in reality (Romans 8:28ff., 9:11), He set about predestining! This is the logical sequence. THAT is the order which it says. Who is He ? He tells us that He is love (I John 4:7ff.), In Colossians 1:19ff., He shows it in that vast all universe expedition in the cross, sole competence for any sinner. What then ? It is NOT to be sure, that love is He; but that HE is love: for it is HE who gives to love its very definition, as to faithfulness, for in each there is no alloy (James 1:17, Deuteronomy 32:4).

"For it pleased that Father than in Him {Christ} all the fulness should dwell,
and by Him, to reconcile all things to Himself,
by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven,
having made peace through he blood of His cross..."

Yet it is HE who knows: "YOU have not chosen ME, but I have chosen you!" (John 15).

For the harmony and significance of these things in the beauty of the Lord's unique holiness, see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4, SMR Appendix B and SMR Ch.8, initial pages, and The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, End-note 2, Repent or Perish Ch.1, End-note 1, together with Predestination and Freewill. In the end, we are all relevant to God (He does not know nothings!), but our  'virtues' do not in this domain of salvation, register; and His will is the determinant, not forcing man by violence, nor yet indulging man as if his were autonomy. In the end, He is the sovereign and it is His will which is done; it is His will that those saved are thus saved, that He and He alone justifies by grace, through faith, on the basis of His redemption as sacrifice and His resurrection as authentic; but He is the loving sovereign whose will is that man, not some enticed substitute, might be saved.





*1 See concerning contemporary matters here, Supplement 2, for this volume, which is News 112.


*2 For a number of extremes and excesses into which many have fallen, through which needless controversies have likewise raged, and the beauty of the actual text, inviting to gracious enterprise and application, see Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2:  Islands and the Mainland.


Note also that the Supplement at the End of this Volume may be found useful in this field. It comprises Ch. 2 of Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy. In addition, relevant also is Supplement 5, Part 2.