by Alan Burns

ISRAEL is again in the limelight of current history. The sons of hate, heirs of the nations' wrath and victims of their petulancy, are again in the morning news. "Persecuted but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed," is a Scripture which might have been written of their past. And, when their night of darkness is gone and they shine forth in the glory of Jehovah, then will the expression of the Psalmist (147:20) be doubly true: "He hath not dealt so with any nation."

Notwithstanding "the treasure in heaven" the modern Christian is supposed to have, it would seem as if he were more interested in acquiring what man calls "real" property, or "real estate," down here. In connection with this it may be observed that the Jew is the only nation that can show real, or valid title to its land. All other "titles" when traced to their sources will be found to rest on some form of either force or fraud. Israel, however, is the one nation that holds a divine title to its land, nor is there one of the Gentile nations that can prove their right to a single inch of their country's soil,—they are tenants at will, by divine permission.

"A man is immortal," we are told, "until his work is done." If this be true, may we not add that the same is as true of a nation as it is of an individual? The furnace may be heated seven times, and still Israel may walk unconsumed in the flames. The Jew of today may visit the ruins of the proud empires that enslaved his fathers. He may look, so to speak, on the charred embers, the scattered debris of the mighty powers to which his people in the past bowed in submission. Israel is a preserved as well as a peculiar people. And this in spite of the plottings of their enemies, who strove to exterminate the "vermin of the earth" only to perish Haman-like on the gallows they intended for Mordecai! The persecution of Israel is natural felo-de-se.

Newman remarked that should he look into nature and not find God there, it would be no greater shock than had he looked into a mirror and failed to find a reflection of his own face. Erase the idea of God from nature and every little Haeckel that cares may write his "Riddle of the Universe" unhindered. Given however the fact of God and every atom in creation becomes luminous with His presence. Given the idea of a God working out His plans and purposes in His own appointed way and the Jew becomes a revelation; deduct the idea of God from his history and he, too, becomes, a riddle.

We need hardly remind our younger readers that an Arminian is not a native of Armenia. The Arminian is so called, not after his country, but after his creed; not after the land of his birth, but after his beliefs. The Arminian is the Atlas of Theology—the burden of the world rests upon him. Calvinism, despite the admixture of false concepts from which it has suffered, does this at least, it puts God's world upon God's shoulders, who alone can sustain its weight without stumbling.

It is no part of the writer's purpose to weight the respective merits of these two opposing systems; he has referred to them merely to emphasize the fact that Romans nine is the Chamber of Horrors in Arminian Theology.

We are reminded of Peter's allusion to the Pauline literature, which contained "many things hard to be understood." At the same time we recall the remark that the natural aversion to Paul's writings arises not so much from the things that are all too plainly written, and all too easily understood. Had the great apostle of the Gentiles presented as his thesis to some modern Arminian university, chapters nine to eleven of his epistle to the Romans, he would not have been granted a degree for doing so! The men who earn their degrees from such sources do not write as Paul wrote.

Now Arminianism is a subtle thing. It insists on man "doing something" in connection with his salvation. Even though it be but the originating of the "will to believe," or the "yielding of consent" it is content if man has but something to do, no matter how small it may be. Hanging over the precipice of man's absolute inability, and total depravity, he will find some satisfaction if he can but hang on by his finger-nails rather than drop. And so the modern church-goer may sing

"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling."

The fact that he sings it does not necessarily mean that he believes it; for the ordinary conception of salvation is a kind of quid pro quo, an idea that salvation is for faith, rather than in it.

It is not correct to think of the human will as a conditioner of the divine, it is more proper we think to view it as its channel. God wills through us, and through our wills. In the realm of experience the will is mine, but in the realm of explanation it is His (See Phil.2:12,13). Experience does not explain, it is something that needs to be explained, hence Scripture clarifies to us the experience of the "will-to-believe" by attributing its source to God, the One who "worketh in us." This is the meaning of the statement that someone has made that "we have to work as if everything depended upon us, but we have to believe that nothing does." Illustrations may be easily found of the manner in which the world of experience differs from the world of explanation. In visual experience, the straight stick in a bucket of water is crooked; but because of explanation we know it to be straight. It would seem to be a correct parallel to draw, that as in the physical world we rise above the illusions of the senses, so in the spiritual world we rise in faith above the illusion that the "will-to-believe" has its source within.

The very essence of the Arminian idea was expressed lately in a sermon where the writer laid down as a dogma that "Israel was not a spiritual nation because God chose them; but God chose them because they were a spiritual nation." There you have the slime of the serpent. It is precisely of such ideas that the manology of the day is composed. Theology centers around God, but manology has man for the center. Let us point out that this is not Christianity. Why, there isn't an orthodox Christ-hating Jew today that would not accept the above statement as expressing his own convictions! Not a Jew, perhaps, of those who clamored for the sacred blood, but would assent to that proposition! If this be Christianity, pray tell us, what is Judaism?

And what a spiritual nation Israel was! How marvelous their spiritual genius when God liberated them from Egypt's toils! How lofty their principles when they clamored to return to the garlic! Was ever a people of higher morality or keener vision than those who bowed before the golden calf? And how we have misread the messages of the prophets who always seemed to chide them for being carnal! Poor, blind nation of Pharisees, the only spiritual men that you possessed as a nation were the elect few, whom God in grace called out from the rest.

Let us not think, however, that Romans is altogether silent on the Arminian question. True, we have sovereign grace in Romans nine, but we have human "freedom" or ability in chapters one to three. Those early chapters convey to us the impression of human history, the record of man as left to himself, "free" from God, as one long, unbroken night. There is a vast difference between being free from God and being free in God. Romans one to three is the former kind, and being free man established what is now inspired history: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." The bond-slaves of Jesus Christ alone know what freedom means.

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