Second Edition, Revised 1948
Printing of Feb 9, 1949
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Because of the length of the author's unpublished manuscript on
predestination entitled "CHANCE OR DESIGN?" the request has been made for a
brief statement of the fundamentals of the doctrine, as a ready answer to those who fear
because of natural apprehension or misteaching through tradition, and who therefore make
objections or ask questions. Hence this shorter expression of thought.
Feb. 9, 1949
The Greek word for "predestinate" is
pro-prizo (literally, "to se before"), meaning to set limits or boundaries
before-hand. Its occurrences are translated as follows: "predestinate" and
"predestinated" in Rom. 8:29,30 and Eph. 1:5,11; "determined before"
in Acts 4:28 (which we shorten into "predetermined"); and "ordained
before" in 1 Cor. 2:7 (which we condense into "foreordained").
these occurrences, the idea of predestination is manifest in almost countless places in
the scriptures without the exact literal wording; as in such cases as Pharaoh, Judas and
the blindness of Israel. Also in the fact that Isaac, John the Baptist and our Savior were
predestined to be male children, and named even before their conception. Today, parents
who have a name chosen for their unborn child sometimes have to change it to suit the sex
of the new-comer. And our Lord was even pre-named "Savior" (Jesus") before
conception or birth, yes, even before He had been tried by temptation. And His work was
set for Him before, as was that of Cyrus and John the Baptist. But God takes no risks when
He predicts, because all things and people are under His control. Even the human will is
so, as we shall see.
In one state where the author lived, a boy was
explaining to someone the difference between the pastor's view and that of others in the
controversy. He said that the minister believed that God knows what will be before it
occurs, but that the others thought that He does not know it until afterwards. Of course,
strictly speaking, that is the distinction between foreknowledge and afterknowledge, but
yet it is nearer the truth of a correct definition than may at first appear: for there
could be no foreknowledge without fore-certainty, and fore-certainty requires
fore-ordering, which is predestination.
The Savior's sacrifice is probably the most feasible
approach to the subject of predestination, because His sacrificial death was so
incontrovertibly foreordained that it is universally so recognized and accepted by
Christian believers, and because the problems of predestination involved in it are easily
understood and explained. Therefore the accompanying outline, "THE DEATH OF GOD'S
SON," will be our next study. It shows simply and clearly the truth stated in Acts
2:23 that His death was a matter of divine foreknowledge and determination.
The Death of God's Son
I An act of wickedness (Acts 2:23),
The sin of betrayal (Acts 7:52),
Which was foreknown
By the Son (Jn. 6:64, 13:11,21-30, 18:4) and
By the Father (Acts 2:23),
By the Son (Jn. 13:18-30) and
By the Father (Psa. 109 with Acts 1:16),
By the Father only (Jn. 6:71, 17:12, Acts 2:23),
And murder (Acts 7:52),
Which was foreknown
By the Son (Jn. 13: 1 ) and
By the Father (Acts 2:23),
By the Son (Matt. 16:21),
As to time (Matt. 26:2; Lu. 13:32),
As to place (Lu. 13:33-34),
As to manner (Matt. 20:19), and
By the Father
As to time (Ex. 12 with 1 Cor. 5:7),
As to place (Gen. 22:2 with Lu. 23:33),
As to manner (Gal. 3:13),
By the Father only (Acts 2:23, 4:28),
As to time (Gal. 4:4-5),
As to place (Lu. 13:33, Rev. 18:24),
As to manner (Num. 21:9 with Jn. 3:14 and 12:32-33),
By man's hand (Acts 2:23: 13:27),
In envy (Mk. 15:10),
In hate (Jn. 15:24), and
By God's hand (Isa. 53:10, Ac. 3:18, 4:26-28),
In mercy (Eph. 2:4-5),
In grace (2 Cor. 8:9, Rom. 3:24-25, 5:15-21, Eph. 1:7)
IN LOVE (Jn. 3:16-17; 1 Jn. 4:10-14).
In the preceding outline we have a clear case of
predestination: for the death of God's Son is plainly declared to have been
"determined before" (Acts 4:28), and this phrase is a translation of the Greek
word elsewhere translated "predestinated."
the case of predestination here presented is one of predestinated evil in an extreme of
wickedness; for the death of God's Son is here (Acts 4:28) declared to have been
perpetrated by the assembled rulers of both Israel and the gentiles who accomplished what
is cited in other scriptures as being murder. This was the most stupendous wickedness
imaginable, all as God "determined before to be done." Thus the sin of murdering
God's holy Son was predestinated by Him.
predestinated sin presents clearly the two problems of the seeming guilt of God and the
innocence of men in that predestined evil deed.
is the objector's solution of it? For he objects to predestination on the ground of reason
which leads him to say, "Then God would be guilty of murder and the predestined
sinners would be innocent!"
try to escape from the difficulty by saying that men might have avoided the guilt by
"freedom of will" not to perform it is futile; for then prophecy would be
subjected to the risk of non-fulfillment and the predestined divine purpose subjected to
the hazard of failure by non-performance of the divinely chosen actors. Then we would have
had no Savior. Could Love base its hopes for us on such hazardous and dubious prospects?
And would that be predestination and prophecy, or mere wishing and conjecturing? Then is
that the only assurance you have as faith's heritage in that purpose and promise for you?
solution of the two problems of the seeming divine guilt and human innocence in the murder
of God's Son is not so difficult as it first seems. In fact, it is quite simple. For
though the Father took away His Son's life on Calvary (Isa. 53:10), He did no murder,
though that death was murder. For that death was also a sacrifice. Men murdered the Son
through hate and God sacrificed Him through love by their hands. Two actors joined hands
in the same act through opposite motives that made two opposite acts of the one deed. So
that death was at the same time both murder and sacrifice. God was no more guilty of
murder than they were praiseworthy for supposedly making a sacrifice that they did not
make, but which God did make by their hands in their ignorance and unintention. Thus the
blasphemous folly and ignorance in asking if God was guilty when His love sacrificed His
Son for our sakes is as evident as is the brazen presumption of suggesting a reward to His
murderers for making a sacrifice they did not offer nor intend to make, but which God did
make by using their hands to offer it.
greatest of all wonders of amazing grace in predestined evil explains all other cases of
like evil that have ever occurred or ever will occur. For since the worst possible case of
predestined evil resulted, as it did, in the greatest possible blessing to the whole race,
what evil can happen to any of us that cannot be of similar result?
other explanation is possible for such as the following cases of evil that are
unequivocally declared in scripture as being acts of God:
sent a lying spirit into the false prophets that deceived Ahab (1 Kings 22:23).
if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that
prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of
my people Israel" (Ezek. 14:9). Why punish him? We shall see later.
used such prophets to test Israel (Deut. 13:1-3).
sent an evil spirit of treachery between Abimelech and the men of Shechem (Judg. 9:23).
sent an evil spirit on Saul that caused him to try to kill David (1 Sam. 16:14, 17:55-58,
moved David to number Israel (2 Sam. 24:1, 1 Chron. 21:1), then punished David for doing
it, and even included Israel in the punishment (1 Chron. 21:14).
gave David's wives into adultery as a punishment on David (2 Sam. 12).
sent Joseph into Egypt to fulfill his dreams, by using the sin of his brothers to send him
there (Gen. 45:5-7), then turned the Egyptians to hate Israel (Psa. 105:25).
creates evil (Isa. 45:7). "Evil" here is the opposite of "peace." That
is, war, for the context contains the idea of the war of conquest by Cyrus over Babylon.
There is a similar case in 10:6, where the sins of plunder and destruction resulted from
the war divinely sent. (Amos 3:1-6 should be studied in this connection).
to modern times, since "the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to
whomsoever he will" (Dan. 4:17), and "the powers that be are ordained of
God" (Rom. 13:1 ), is He therefore guilty of all the plundering, confiscating,
oppression and oceans of blood spilled by modern Hitlers, and of all the wars of history?
willed that Samson marry a Philistine woman, contrary to His own law (Judg. 14:4). He
commanded Shimei to curse David (2 Sam. 16:10) contrary to his law (Ex. 22:28). And in the
following cases he built the sins of men into types, thus ordaining the sins that were
necessary to the types that reveal a foreordained purpose:
sin of Moses in smiting the rock the second time (Num. 20:11-12). Moses was punished for
this sin by being debarred from entering Canaan (Deut. 32:50-51). The transfiguration
vision (Matt. 17:9) used Moses evidently to represent those who go into the kingdom (Matt.
16:28) by resurrection, and Moses had to die as a result of sin to fit into the type.
same thoughts apply to the sin of Jonah, who was declared by the Son to have been a
representative of Himself (Matt. 12:38-40).
same is true of the sin of Adam (Rom. 5.)
all these cases there was evidently the juncture of the two motives, human and divine, in
the one act, as at Calvary. The scriptures attribute to God all that goes on in the
universe, so that He can make all work together for good to those whom He foreknows,
predestinates, calls, justifies and glorifies (Rom. 8:28-30).
these considerations we may deduce the general principle that the sin of man is the
righteousness of God.
this last sentence provoked such opposition, we explain.
human conduct there is a constant, clear-cut distinction between good and evil that must
always be preserved. In our actions evil never becomes good, nor good, evil. We cannot
properly say, "Let us do evil that good may come." Our motives may make an
otherwise good act an evil one or an otherwise evil act a good one, but we do not
transmute evil into good or good into evil.
are three forms of evil: sin, suffering and death. (See the author's free booklet,
"THE MYSTERY OF EVIL"). We can make sin out of good, but we cannot make good out
of our sins, though we can make good out of the wrongs others do to us. We can bring good
out of suffering, as in disciplining our children or developing them by hardship. Men
supposedly bring good out of capital punishment. At least, God commanded it through Moses,
and endorses it by ordaining "the powers that be."
God does in all three forms of evil is good. He punished the Philistines through Samson's
marriage that was contrary to His own law and made the adultery of David's wives that was
contrary to the seventh commandment a salutary punishment of David for his own adultery.
He caused the suffering of the Son to make Him perfect. and brought salvation through His
in all that He does in evil, the evil remains evil until it is displaced by the opposite
good. David's wives must be cleansed from adultery as David was, lest, if not, there
should be a blot on God's act of giving them into adultery, as He said He would do. The
three thousand murderers of the Son were told to repent. Suffering must be displaced by
glory. Death must be ended by resurrection, as it was three days later. Else evil,
becoming permanent, would be unjustified evil. God, by doing good through it, is justified
in His acts in it. But man cannot thus justify himself in evil, because he cannot bring
ultimate good out of it to all concerned, as God can. Out of the wrong Joseph's brothers
did to him God brought blessing to all concerned. He did the same out of the crucifixion.
Even Joseph's brothers and the Son's murderers were blessed through their sin. At least,
three thousand were in one day, and millions since.
working in man's evil of sin so that good may come does not make Him guilty, nor does it
make man innocent. The evil of sin does not by God's work in it become good done by man.
The good is what God does. The crucifixion was murder by man, and always remains so,
though it was sacrifice by God. The sacrifice did not make the murder right, nor did the
murder make the sacrifice wrong, that there should be blame on God for working in the evil
to make the crucifixion a sacrifice. Two actors were doing one act of taking life by
opposite motives. The death in that sacrifice, while not wrong as an act of God, was still
evil in the sense that death is called an evil in the scriptures and an "enemy,"
so even that sacrificial death must be annulled by resurrection three days later. If not,
we would have no Savior and the whole purpose in the sacrifice would have failed. Evil
must not be permanent.
man, thc crucifixion was sin; by God, perfect love, so the sin of man in crucifying was
the righteousness of God in sacrificing.
same observations are true of all the sins just cited, and of all other sins. They are
true of the wrongs you suffer. God is doing you or somebody good in them. You can afford
to trust Him and be merciful to those who wrong you. God manages the sin of man so as to
bring good out of it, as seen in all these cases cited and many more that could be cited.
is a temporary good means, in God's hands, not man's, (In that sense.
"Evil is good"), but if permanent, would be an unmitigated and unjustified evil.
Job said, "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave," but only "till thy
wrath be past." He asked for a "set time" for God to "remember"
him, that he might "live again" after escaping his boils and troubles. So if the
evil of death he craved should be permanent it would not have been desired. Fortunately,
he got rid of his boils even before he shall live again. In that glad day all evil will
ultimately be supplanted by all good.
solution of the seeming guilt of God and innocence of men in predestined evil does the
objector to the biblical doctrine of predestination of evil offer, since he will have none
of the explanation that the scriptures themselves give?
All objectors to predestination seem to admit that God foreknows, but
they say He can foreknow without foreordaining.
is predestined may or may not be foreknown by man, according as God reveals it or not. But
with God both must exist together, because what He foreknows He foreordains, and He could
not foreordain and not foreknow without being ignorant, as to foreknowing, and He cannot
be ignorant and be God. "Known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the
world." (Acts 15:18).
what He foreknows He must be the One that foreordains, else there would be another
divinity superior to Him, that ordains what He foreknows, which is another impossibility,
for He declares that He is God and there is none else (Isa. 45:5).
an event be foreknown and yet not be fixed in future certainty--not foreordained by some
being? And if the future is fixed, who but God fixed it in that certainty? He says that He
who foreknows also foreordains (Rom. 8:29).
also foreknew what was revealed to them by the Spirit, but they could not foreordain those
revealed events, nor other events that were predicted by other prophets before them. And
the foreknowledge of all prophets was limited (Matt. 13:17, 1 Pet. 1:10-11).
also, foreknow what is predicted by the prophets, but whoever thinks of puny people as
being able to predetermine the future? We can plan, but how much of our planning can we
guarantee will become fact?
then anybody should be able to distinguish between predestination and foreknowledge.
should be equally evident to all that there can be no foreknowledge without accompanying
predestination. That is, foreknowledge is real knowledge, and not mere conjecture or
shrewd guessing. The foreknown future is, by the fact of being certainly known, also
foreordained. And ordained by God, for none of those to whom He reveals the future can be
considered as ordaining it. People cannot predestinate themselves. Many a person's future
was revealed before birth, and so before the possibility of his having anything to do
about foreordaining it. Paul makes this plain about Esau and Jacob (Rom. 9:11-12); Peter
said that the suicide of Judas was predicted in Psa. 109 (Ac. 1:20); and the destiny of
the Son of God was also settled long before his birth (Eph. 1:4, 2 Tim. 1:9). So then it
is futile to say that people predestine themselves, as has been argued by some objectors.
Where do the scriptures make any such affirmation?
it is realized that there can be no prophecy without predestination, the amount of
scriptural material on the subject is evidently ponderous.
people possessed freedom to do as they please, how could their predicted acts be foretold
with such certainty that the words predicting their acts are more abiding than heaven and
earth (Matt. 24:35)?
foreknew Judas as the betrayer "from the beginning" (Jn. 6:64). He foretold it
at the last supper (Jn. 13:26). Some have said, "Somebody had to do it, but Judas did
not have to; he was a free moral agent, and could do as he pleased." Then could the
Savior have been mistaken "from the beginning"? And falsified in his prediction
at the last supper? Why say, "Somebody had to do it"? Because it was predicted?
But the prediction specified Judas. Or because the plan required it? But that would be
predestination of "somebody," and the objector will not admit the predestination
of anybody. If that "somebody" "had to do it," was he
"free"? Such well-meant efforts to solve the difficulties of
"responsibility" will never satisfy. They do not reach bottom. They are so
shallow that they falsify God's Son and the voices of the prophets, and so would involve
God Himself in difficulties, if He could permit such apologetics to do so. Why not say,
"Somebody else might be the one" in the case of our Savior, since His being was
foreordained and foretold the same as the treason of Judas? That makes the error of the
suggestion self-evident: for how would such an objector like to try being the
"somebody else" in an effort to be his own Savior? Was Calvary foreordained for
any such attempter? Once we concede any such "somebody else;" we start a
possible endless series, that would thus revolve God in failure.
shall soon come to the solution of the difficulties involved.
In Rom. 8:28 to 11:36 Paul carries on a long discussion of
predestination. He considers four common questioning objections that arise in any thinking
mind on the subject: The seeming guilt of God in ordained evil; the seeming innocence of
man in it; the problem of incomplete creation (Why did not God create the race perfect,
instead of bringing it to perfection through experience of evil?); and the problem of the
destiny of the actors in ordained evil.
four problems are stated thus: "Is there unrighteousness with God?" (9:14);
"Why does he yet find fault? For who has resisted his will?" (ver. 19);
"Why have you made me thus?" (ver. 20); and "Has God cast away his people?
begins the whole discussion by basing it on the optimistic outlook that all is working for
good (8:28), then proceeds to declare formally his doctrine of predestination (8:29-30)
and show the blessedness of realizing the truth that if God be for us nothing can be
against us nor separate us from his love. His declaration of the doctrine in verses 29-30
makes it a link in the five-fold chain of foreknowledge, predestination, calling,
justification and glorification that binds us so inseparably to God's love. All this
five-fold work in us is put in the past tense, for what He purposes is as good as done
who realize that it is futile to deny the doctrine, say that predestination is not
personal--that God merely "predestinated a plan," and that whoever fulfills
"the conditions of salvation" thus predestinates himself. We have already
considered self-predestination. As to impersonal predestination, all that is needed is to
point out that the pronouns in this section are personal ones; those in verses 29-30 refer
to the Christians spoken of in verse 28, the "many brethren" of verse 29,
signified by the pronoun "us" in verse 31. Then what can keep you out of the
glory? "Peace, be still."
only a plan is predestined, the divine purpose might fail--nay, must certainly fail--by
man's nullifying free will and failure to save himself by even a perfect plan. But the
failure of the divine purpose is contrary to the scriptures (Psa. 135:6, Isa. 42:4,
also, since the presumed predestined plan is expressed in prophecy, it also might be
nullified by the supposed power of human free will; but that nullification is also
contrary to the scriptural declarations that prophecy is sure of fulfillment (Matt.
his argument in this predestination section in the Roman epistle Paul uses three
illustrations of foreordination: Jacob preferred over Esau before birth (thus proving that
the divine elective purpose was not "of works," since the unborn twins could not
work); Pharaoh, who was divinely selected as an agent in whom to reveal the divine power
and name to the whole world, and hardened in will for the purpose; and Israel, divinely
blinded to bring mercy to the gentiles.
the divine choice had waited for the worthiness of works, Esau would have been the one to
choose, but Jacob was chosen in spite of his foreknown inferiority to Esau in behavior
because of both heredity and environment, and especially because of the mother's
foreknowledge of the divine election of her favorite son.
are seven cases of the preferment of the younger son over the older in the scriptures:
Abel and Cain; Shem and Japheth; Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob and Esau; Ephraim and Manasseh;
Moses and Aaron; and Solomon and Adonijah. The first, third and sixth are expressly shown
in scripture to be representatives of Messiah, and the seventh is clearly thus typical
also. We are therefore justified in concluding that the reason for the preference of the
younger was for the purpose of revealing Christ and keeping him constantly before mankind
in blessed grace, that man might ever see the way to life. Then Esau was rejected so that
Jacob might become an unwitting means to show that salvation is not of works, but by
grace, since he was chosen before birth, and so before works were possible. Unmerited
grace to Jacob later, in spite of his cheating, saved him by grace from what he was by
both heredity and environment. Since he was thus saved, what hope there is for anybody
that God chooses! So in the case of Jacob and the other six cases like his we learn the
precious lesson that God also has two sons, and chose the Younger over the elder, even to
show mercy to the elder and the race in him.
This and the second problem, that of man's seeming innocence
in doing ordained evil, are twins, and must be considered together.
it is affirmed on the authority of scripture that evil acts are foreordained, immediately
the objection is usually made that then God would be "responsible" for such
sins; and secondly, that the people who thus act would not be to blame, and should not be
"punished" for so acting. It looks like a clear case in favor of the objector.
But on the contrary, there stands the Word saying that the crucifixion of our Savior was
"determined before" by the Father to be done (Acts 4:28), and that His death was
"murder" (Acts 7:52). Then the case for the defender of predestination is just
as clear as that for the objector: God foreordained the murder of his Son. Why then was He
not guilty? For no Christian can deny the predestined evil nor consent to the guilt of
on the second of these two complementary and twin difficulties, why then should the Son's
murderers have been charged with guilt by Peter (Acts 2:23) and Stephen (7:52)? Why should
not they and Judas all be rewarded for making the sacrifice that put away the world's sin,
instead of suffering judgment, as the Son forewarned (Matt. 23:35-36)? For this suggestion
has been made by objectors. And the same of Pharaoh: Why drowned for doing what God raised
him up to do and hardened his heart as a means to that performance? Here the objector
finds a way to escape by saying that both Pharaoh and Israel are said to have hardened
their own hearts. We shall come to that, too, presently, when we finish what we are here
considering on these first two objections of so-called "'responsibility" of God
and non-responsibility of man in ordained evil.
is the objector's solution of the dilemma he is in? For if he believes the Bible he must
consent to the foreordained murder of God's Son; and then he has to solve the problem of
exonerating the Author of the Book and the Ordainer of evil, and of showing the guilt of
the perpetrators of that ordained evil; while if he denies the Bible how can he call
approach the solution, let us state a few facts and ask some questions: Our Savior
purposely put Himself into the hands of His murderers without resistance or even using the
means of escape He could have used, saying He did so to fulfill scripture that said it had
to be so (Matt. 26:50-54). In ordinary circumstances that would be called suicidal. The
scriptures call his death a sacrifice. A person who jumps in front of a coming train is
called a suicide; but if he does so to push a child out of the danger, and loses his life,
as he expected to do, he is praised as making a "supreme sacrifice." People have
often knowingly gone into death thus for the sake of benefiting others. What is the
difference between suicide and sacrifice? For though there is a difference in the dying in
the two cases, there is no difference in the death--it is loss of life exactly the same in
both. We shall come to the solution presently. The objector can doubtless see it now.
another illustration: You have a child with all abscess on its arm. An enemy of the child
would like to stab him with a lance. You say, "That's good; we'll join together and
both do it. You take the lance and I'll hold your hand and guide it to the sorest spot on
the child." And you guide the lance right into the abscess. Do you do evil to your
child? Does the enemy do good to him? Who thinks of crying "responsible" to you
or "irresponsible" about the enemy? If he is brought into court for his act can
he convince the court that he was doing good? (Intentionally?). Ah, there's the solution
in one word--"motive." For the law does consider motives in crime. That is the
only difference between first, second and third degrees of murder. God likewise considered
motives in death of victims, in cases at the cities of refuge (Num. 35, Deut. 19, Josh.
20). Everybody considers motives in determining guilt or innocence, condemning more, or
we consider God's motive in the death of His Son, does it not seem wicked to ask if He was
not guilty of murder at Calvary? He was the parent in the illustration of the child and
does it not seem nearly as wicked to ask regarding the Son's murderers, "Why were
they not rewarded for offering a sacrifice for our sins?" For they hated Him to such
a degree that instead of crucifying Him they would not use the milder capital punishment
of stoning Him, as their law required them to do if they were correct in their verdict
that He should die for blasphemy in the unjust trial they gave Him, but they rather gave
Him a second trial before Pilate, that they might torture Him to death by the slow way of
crucifixion. But even this was divinely planned, to show a greater depth of love by
greater suffering for our sakes, to win our greater love.
was Judas intentionally offering God's Lamb any more than those crucifiers were, or was he
not seeking silver by fraud against the enemies of his Master whom he really loved so much
that he preferred to die when he saw that he had unintentionally involved Him in trouble?
He thought his Master would deliver Himself as on former occasions, but affairs took a
different turn from what he expected (Matt. 27:3). His conscious sin was covetousness. He
was willing to defraud his Master's enemies out of the money consideration that was their
part of the contract, without delivering his Consideration to the death they planned,
though he did fulfill the letter of the agreement by delivering Him into their hands. He
did not intend betrayal to death, but betrayal into escape.
the love of God and His Son made the crucifixion a sacrifice, while man's hate made the
same act murder. It was one death from two motives. The same act was thus both evil and
good, right and wrong. Thus an absurd proposition is logical, and an ethical
self-contradiction true, and marvelous in love and grace. Calvary was thus the scene of
both murder (Acts 7:52) and sacrifice (Eph. 5:2), yet not two deaths, but one death by two
contrary motives of two parties causing that death. That one Cause likewise controls all
man's conduct for good (Psa. 76:10, Prov. 16:1).
the above truths we deduce the principle that the motive determines the moral character of
an act that is capable of variable quality, and this principle explains the problems of
God's seeming guilt and man's seeming innocence in predestined evil acts.
thus illustrates the general principle that God works in all evil for good (Rom. 8:28).
That is why all things work together for your good as a Christian. You, too, have your
Calvary, for all Christians are led as sheep to the slaughter (Rom. 8:36) even as He of
whom we are a part, being His body. As your Father turned the worst sin in history into
the most marvelous blessing, so He will sanctify your cross for good to all concerned.
Then, as one lately said in our study, "So there's nothing to worry about, is
there?" No, there is not. Perfect peace comes with this realization. Read Paul's
reaction to his own revelation on this (Rom. 8:28-39). Your enemies are, under God,
unintentionally and ignorantly serving you as slaves in God's family, for the slave does
not know what his master is about (Jn. 15:15). All the evil in the world is thus like
Calvary. Take the divine side in your view of evil, and you will have peace. The sun is
always shining above the clouds. Look through them with the eye of revealed truth. Evil is
necessary to reveal God, and when that revelation is completed he will abolish all evil
from his universe. Then sin and death, pain and tears, shall be no more (Rev. 21:1-4).
question of God's seeming guilt in predestined evil is stated in Rom. 9: 14, "Is
there unrighteousness with God?" And the companion question of man's seeming
innocence in it is stated in verse 19, "Why does he yet find fault? For who has
resisted his will?"
rebuking the presumption of the questioner, he answers that God's motive is
"mercy." This is the key-word to this whole section of scripture on this
subject. (See its occurrence seven times, in 9:15,16,18,23, 11:30,31,32). In the last
reference he reaches the climax of "mercy upon all." And in the practical
teaching growing out of the doctrine, in next chapter (12:1), he makes this mercy the
basis of his appeal not to take vengeance on our enemies. And well he might, for since God
is such a wonderful Alchemist as to transform all evil into good for us, why not
consecrate ourselves as living sacrifices, and leave it to Him to deal with our enemies,
as Joseph did (Gen. 50:15-20) when though he knew that his brothers sold him into Egyptian
slavery, yet he said that they did not do it, but that God sent him there (Gen. 45:5-7).
In regard to guilt for sin, Paul makes a seemingly strange
statement in Rom. 7:17,20: "It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.'
first thought this language would seem to be an alibi for the guilt of sin, but a closer
study reveals the wonders of divine ways in grace and salvation. To understand the
puzzling declaration we need to recognize what is signified by "I" and
is identified as the "the inward man" (ver. 22), "Christ" (ver. 25),
"'the mind" (ver. 25) with which the Christian "would do good" (ver.
21), and serves "the law of God" (ver. 25) and has "delight in" it
(ver. 22). Grammatically, "I" represents Paul, but a comparison of 7:25 with 8:1
shows that he is here placing himself as a representative of the general Christian
experience. For from "I" in 7:25 he switches to "them which are in Christ
Jesus" in 8:1, then back to "me," then to "us."
is identified by a three-fold, progressive title. First it is merely a "law"
that he discerns, that prevents him doing the good that he wills to do (ver. 21 ). Then he
enlarges the title into "the law of sin", and finds it located in his members
(ver. 23). This is the "lust" of ver. 7, the three-fold flesh-desire, that of
the flesh, the eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:15.17) that causes all sin. Finally,
he elaborates the identification of the guilty one that causes all our sin, calling it
"the law of sin and death" (8:2). Thus the progressive title of the culprit is
"a law," "the law of sin," and "the law of sin and death."
lust, or flesh-desire, is hereditary, because inhering in flesh inherited from Adam, and
so our sinning is predestined before our birth, because we are a continuation of Adam,
whose sinning was predestined by his being created flesh.
Paul, and his fellow-Christians for whom he puts himself representatively in this
soliloquy, have been justified by faith, and have thus and therefore repudiated all sin
and sinning in mental attitude of repentance, and as far as grace supplies ability have
repudiated it in very deed, they now disclaim all guilt for it while waiting for
deliverance entirely from it and its slavery. They regard it as another person, a tyrant
or slave-master who causes them to do wrong under duress, and they therefore disclaim all
guilt or "responsibility" for it. And we should remember that this language of
the apostle is inspired, and so expresses the divine thought on what people call
"responsibility" for sin committed by the faith-justified Christian.
this connection, close notice should be given to the word "more" in the
declaration, "It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me". For until
a sinner is justified by faith he cannot repudiate his guilt as no longer attaching to
him. But when regarded as being a just, or righteous person, by Him who has assumed the
work of making him so, he may take the same attitude as his Justifier, and declare his sin
a thing of the past, from which he is separated, and therefore, for which he cannot be
should be punished for compelling reckonedly justified Christians to sin contrary to their
enlightened wills? and what is the proper punishment for the giant offender? Three
scriptures may be cited in answer:
1 Cor. 5:5 "the flesh" ("the carnal mind") is the one guilty for that
Christian's fornication, and it is to be destroyed, but the Christian himself is to be
saved. The destruction takes place during the present life (before "the day of the
Lord Jesus") and the process is painful, called "crucifixion", and compared
to "fiery trial".
Lev. 4 the law provided that in a sacrifice for sin only the flesh (representing sin) was
burned (representing suffering), while the blood (representing the self, for "the
soul of all flesh is in the blood," Lev. 17:14) was saved out of the fire by being
poured out on the ground.
Col. 3:1-8, the "members" to be thus destroyed ("mortified") are not
concrete body-tissue, but abstract sins named in verse 5, that come out of flesh-desires
in the literal members, while the Christians themselves will eventually appear with Christ
in glory (ver. 4).
by both literal and symbolic revelation the really guilty one that causes our sins
("the carnal mind") is properly punished with annihilation without the
possibility of restoration, while we ourselves are delivered from his slavery by
substitution of the spiritual mind for the carnal or natural.
In suggesting the idea of a parent guiding the lance in the
hand of an enemy we are following a scriptural precedent, for in Psa. 17:13-14, evil
people are called God's "hand." The same is true in Job 1-2, for when Job's
adversary suggested that God put forth His hand and touch Job's property, then his flesh,
God replied, "He is in your hand"; then later, Job said that God's hand had
touched him (19:21), and the inspired biographer of the patriarch said that the hand of
the Lord brought all this evil on Job (42:11). Again, in Acts 2:23, we find that men's
wicked hands slew God's Son, but in 4:28 it is said to have been from God's hand. The Hand
ruled the hands. The Hand's motive was love; the hands' motive was hate. The death was
murder by the hands, sacrifice by the Hand.
The third question on predestination that Paul raises is, Why
was not the race created perfect, instead of being subject to inevitable predestined sin,
and perfected through suffering? He states it in Rom. 9:20 thus: "Why hast thou made
me thus?" (that is, subject to predestined sin, as in the case of Pharaoh, just cited
by Paul). Again, as in answer to the first two difficulties, the answer is
has been argued that Paul's response to the question of man's guilt in ordained evil (Rom.
9:19), when he reasons that the divine Potter has a right over the clay to make a vessel
of dishonor as it suits him, proves that man has no reason to make such criticism as to
question God's ways. But it should be noticed that this is only Paul's rebuke to the
character of the question, and not his real answer to the question. He rebukes the brazen
effrontery that criticizes God, but the real answer to the question comes later, in the
arguments on "mercy," occupying the remainder of chapter 9 and all of chapter
10, which constitute the answer to this third question.
are some things that God cannot do and be God. He cannot lie (Titus 1:2), nor deny himself
(2 Tim. 2:13). He cannot even be tempted (Ja. 1:13). From such statements we may deduce
the general principle that He cannot do anything that would not be divine, anything that
would be contrary to what He is. It would be contrary to Him as Love to make man perfect
at the first, because love gives (John 3:16) and serves (Gal. S:13). So then God, as Love,
must give to man, which at once necessitates that man must need, which is but another way
of saying that he must be created imperfect. If created perfect there could be no love
shown him from God. Therefore, all things must be as they are, or God must cease to be
God. It would be contrary to God as "Mercy" to create man immune to sin, for
then he would need no mercy, and we have just seen that Paul's answer to the question we
are considering is "mercy."
it would be impossible to create man perfect because man is flesh, and flesh itself is
imperfect. The question, "Why did not God create man perfect?" therefore
expresses a self-contradiction. To create man otherwise than he is would not be creating
man, but some other being. Would the querulous querist prefer not to have existed at all?
We may so suffer as to prefer non-existence to our present experience of life, as Job and
Jeremiah did, but when we reach the glory no such thoughts will arise (Rom. 8:18).
is of two kinds, physical and moral. The physical is that of the "spiritual
body" of immortality (1 Cor. l5:44); the moral is love. It is impossible to have the
physical until the moral is received, for we are cautioned that the unrighteous shall not
inherit God's kingdom. The moral is reached only by perceiving that God first loved us.
Love is gifts and service. That necessitates that man, to be loved, must first need, which
is imperfection. Thus is again evident the impossibility of creating man perfect. It would
be an infinite calamity (if it were possible) to make man perfect in the spiritual body
before being perfect in conduct, for then he would be an immortal sinner without the
possibility of ever being changed to righteousness. God has wisely safeguarded man's
welfare by making it impossible to be immortal until righteous. By creating man needy, so
as to show love to him, God has arranged matters so that man can come to moral, then
physical perfection. The greater man's need, the more God can love him, through mercy for
sin, comfort in trouble and immortality instead of mortality. God's previous love thus
becomes the way to man's responsive love in moral perfection, then to his physical
perfection in immortality. Subjection to evil in mortal experience thus acts the same as
contagion: it leaves behind an immunity against itself, so that in immortality man can
never relapse into imperfection. But spiritual love could not have been a creation in the
natural man. It must come through experience, in divine supply of need.
question, "Why did not God create man perfect?", is equivalent to asking
"Why did He not do the finishing at the beginning?" since He is in the process
of making us perfect through suffering; so the question becomes "Why, in a process,
is the beginning not the end?"; why not put the roof on a house first, instead of
starting at the foundation?
the fault-finder could choose his own created nature what would the choice be? He could
not choose the perfection of immortality, as we have seen. If he could choose to be else
than what we are we would not be people. How then could God make us to be people other
than we are and still create us people?
have shown that motives are the factors distinguishing the ethical quality of acts, and
that our flesh-motives cause us to do evil; but we are not to the bottom of the inquiry
when we merely say that motive distinguishes moral quality of acts. We do not reach bottom
till we see why God created us with these motives, and that it was necessarily so, in his
process of bringing about a finished creation.
least, anybody should be able to realize that what has been is best, for if God could have
done better in creating man otherwise than He did He would have been imperfect in His
work, and imperfection would destroy His divinity. Then, too, the objector who asks why He
did not do otherwise assumes to become superior to God in the suggested improvement.
"Who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?" (I Cor. 2:16).
we realize the existence of God, all that has followed was a necessity. And we might add
that the same observations would be fit if God made any experiments or mistakes in
creating man as He did, or if He will fail to do what He purposes in saving the race, for
experiments, mistakes and failures nullify divinity. And such conceptions really do
nullify the trust and worship of Christendom; for, to most people, God is very weak. Trust
will never return to us until we realize the kind of God we have revealed to us in the
scriptures, throw away the mess of tradition inherited from the apostasy and quit
imitating the pagans in making our own god according to the light of human understanding
and notions. But Christendom clings as tenaciously to its conceptions of divinity as do
the pagans to their idols.
Paul's final question, in this section of the Roman epistle
discussing predestination, is that of destiny: What shall be the destiny of the workers in
ordained evil? He states it thus: "I say then, has God cast away his people?"
(Israel, who were divinely ordained to be so blinded as to murder His Son).
negative answer (that God has not cast Israel off) is explained on the basis of mercy
again (verses 30,31,32). Mercy to gentiles through the foreordained evil of Israel's
blindness, then returning mercy to Israel through the destiny of the gentiles, and so
"mercy upon all." Israel will get her mercy when the fullness of the gentiles is
finished (11 :25).
this discussion Paul uses three cases from Israel's history to illustrate his teaching:
Esau subjected to Jacob, for "mercy" to Jacob (9:15); Pharaoh hardened in will
in order to show "mercy" to the world by revealing his "power" and
"name" through Pharaoh (verses 16-18); and the blindness of Israel (running to
the end of chapter 11). Jacob received his mercy at Jabbok ford, as well as before and
after; Esau will yet receive mercy in the future kingdom (Obad. 21). Pharaoh and Judas and
Israel have not yet received their returning mercy, but the fact that Esau and Israel are
promised such a recompense for suffering ordained evil sets a precedent of principle that
will operate to the limit of all cases, so when the sea gives up its dead (Rev. 20:13) and
Pharaoh comes out of it, and when death and hades pour out their inhabitants before the
great white throne and Judas comes out of them, infinite mercy will still be there to
operate, because God ever lives, and "his mercy endures forever".
God could do such a thing as ordain man to evil temporarily, then punish him for it
endlessly and hopelessly, we should have to confess that Abraham should never have asked,
"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
should be considered that when God subjects man to law, as in all these cases of ordained
evil, justice is implied, and that God Himself respects our sense of justice in His
dealings with us, as is shown by the fact that He answered Abraham's question, even to the
extent of promised mercy to the whole city of Sodom if only ten righteous people could be
found in it. Abraham's question sought only an assurance of justice: God went much farther
and assured of great mercy. So when man is subjected by divine foreordination to the
commission of sin under law, his sense of justice has as much reason to scan God's ways as
did Abraham, as is shown by the fact that Paul answers the question raised about divine
justice, after rebuking the style in which the querist asks.
a parent could find a whip that would last forever and start using it to punish a child
constantly, in less than one day the Humane Society would see that he was arrested for
cruelty; but does that Society remonstrate against endless torment or annihilation?
matter is vital, for who will worship God if he thinks the Judge is unjust? Or who will
seek pardon from a Father by confession of sin if there be no prospect of mercy? Just here
is the great evil of apostate Christendom.
as Pharaoh, or Judas, or Israel, must be hardened or ignorant or blinded in doing evil to
another through such divinely chosen instruments as themselves, that mercy may remove the
evil, and so, reveal God. If Israel could have believed, no mercy could have come to us
gentiles as it has. But they "could not believe" (John 12:39), because of
preventing divine purpose expressed in prophecy quoted here by John; and Pharaoh could not
let Israel go during the first nine requests and plagues, for the same reason, for his
refusal was foretold to Moses (Ex. 3:19-20). Neither could Judas fail to act his part in
the grace of salvation, lest we have no Savior.
is our response to our Father's appointment when He honors us to election of revealing His
grace through us in bearing some trial without complaint or in enduring some wrong from an
enemy, a slave to bring us a blessing, unintentionally by him and unaware to us, or to
dispense the grace of mercy to our wrong-doers? Can we measure up to the call? Yes, He
qualifies all whom He calls. The truths here set forth are a part of that qualifying
means. They make people sweet in a savor of love. The reason there is so little of Christ
in Christendom is that there is so little of truth in the traditions of the apostasy.
we see that we must revise our ideas upward on the conception of
"responsibility" and say "accountability" instead; enlarge our
conception of punishment to mean correction.; and see farther into the matter of destiny
than to think of it as hopeless, endless torment or death, and say with Isaiah, "When
thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn
John Calvin and his successor in doctrine, Jonathan Edwards,
knew the truth of predestination, but they missed the "mercy upon all" expressed
in Rom. l1:32, because their view of the immortality of the soul and its going to heaven
or hell at death as an endless destiny left no room for mercy to those who were
foreordained to evil through the present life, for that view precludes the possibility of
a resurrection to future mercy.
greatest objections to predestination usually arise because of the error of thinking that
predestined evil is permanent. That predestination in evil is temporary may be seen by the
word "until" in Rom. 11 :25, where the blindness of Israel is limited to the
time during which the gentiles are being called. This blindness of the nation is the most
frequently quoted and used case of predestined evil in all the Bible. Both Jesus and Paul
referred to it more than once.
quotation is from Isa. 6:9-10. It is the great text on Israel's hardness of heart,
blindness and deafness. Here again, (verse 11) the duration of this predestined evil is
declared to be temporary, being limited by the same word "until" used in Rom.
11:25. After the time set by that word "until," there will be no more
predestined evil of Israel's blindness. So that case of ordained evil is temporary, beyond
cavil. And the prospective passing away of all evil (Rev. 21:1-4) shows that all
foreordained evil is temporary. Its temporary presence is for man's development (Eccl.
3:10). But predestined good is permanent, for it is "to eternal life" (Acts
13:46). And both the evil and the good appointed by the Father are inevitable (Job 34:29).
predestined evil lasted only "until" God published His name in power to that
ancient world and Pharaoh was drowned; that of Judas ended at the potter's field; and that
of Israel will end at the fullness of the gentiles. When the sea gives up its dead,
Pharaoh will be predestined to the endless good then to be dispensed, when all creation
will praise God for all that is (Rev. 4:11, 5:13). The predestined course of Judas and the
crucifiers ended at Calvary. When they rise from the dead it will be to predestined and
endless good. The predestined guilt of three thousand of them ended at Pentecost, when
they received infinite blessing from their heinous sin. Why should grace visit them and
not in time visit all their companions in evil, including Judas and others like him who
may have died in the intervening 53 days before Pentecost? Should the accident (?) of
death at any certain time preclude the reception of grace such as was given to others who
lived a longer time than they?
of destiny being determined at death and consisting of endless evil for those ordained to
evil in this life, predestination in evil is temporary, while predestination to blessing
will run through the endlessness of immortality, when we shall know that "the
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory" (Rom.
when God's glory fills the whole earth, there will be no room for any predestined evil to
Hardening the heart is really stiffening the will, or making
stubborn. Pharaoh's will was at first stubborn when Moses first appeared before him with
the request for the exodus of his people. Then God brought the first plague on him and
Egypt, and immediately Pharaoh submitted. His heart was softened. His will was subjected
to the divine will. Then at his request God removed the trouble. Immediately his will
became stubborn again. How was his heart thus "hardened"? By removal of the
trouble. Who removed it? God. Who then hardened? God primarily; Pharaoh secondarily, by
the mental process of decision. But that decision was determined by environment, and
therefore predetermined by God, who controlled the environment of plagues. It was as is
sometimes said by one person to another, "I will make up your mind for you."
are the scriptures on Pharaoh's hardening his heart: Ex. 8:15,32,34. And here are the ones
on God's doing it: Ex. 4:21, 7:3,13, 9:12, 10:1,20,27, 11:10, 14:4,8, Rom. 9:17-18.
is not proper to deny one idea of hardening by quoting scriptures on the other. Both must
be recognized, even though they seem to contradict each other. It is like the two hands
previously considered: either Pharaoh controlled God in the hardening both together, to
make it true that both did the hardening, or else God controlled Pharaoh, so that both
operated together. In some co-operating one actor is predominant, as when a child
"helps" its parent drive a car by laying a hand on the steering-wheel, under the
parent's hand. Child Pharaoh thought he was running Egypt without God. He did not know
that God sets up kings and rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan. 4:17) and had raised him up
to fulfill His purpose (Ex. 9:16) and that the king's heart in His hand is as the rivers,
being guided as He wills (Prov. 21:1 ).
the human hand cannot control the divine, the king of Egypt could not control God in the
hardening; but God can, and does control all humanity. The mathematical symbol of all
humanity lumped together is -0 (Isa. 40:17). No wonder the prophet told his people what he
did in 2:22, for minus zero is not to be "accounted" in any counting house. It
is so small that even in calculus there is no such symbol as -0. Yet this is the mighty
power that is supposed to thwart God, whose symbol is infinity. A little meditation will
show the co-operation in the 'hardening of Pharaoh, for we read in Prov. 16:1 that God
prepares the heart and so controls the words (both the "I won't" at first, and
then the "I will").
predicted to Moses that He would harden Pharaoh's heart. He knew that He could make
Pharaoh submit. Just before the tenth plague He predicted that the king would let Israel
go (Ex. 11:1). He knew just how stubborn Pharaoh was, and that He could control him to do
His will. Jesus knew what was in man (John 2:25). He predicted Peter's three denials and
many other things that people would do and say. Does the Father know less than the Son?
(Psa. 139:1-4). Does not the Potter know the chemical composition of His human clay, and
that water will soften it when it becomes stubborn in dryness, and just how much water it
will take, and what He is making, and have full confidence in His ability, and when to fix
its form in the fire of adversity7 If not, how can there be prophecy involving the clay?
Or salvation? Can He drop the vessel and so spoil it hopelessly and endlessly?
the scriptures on Israel's hardening their hearts: Psa. 95:8, Heb. 3:8, 3:15, 4:2, 2 Kin.
17:14, Neh. 9:16,17,29, Jer. 7:26, 19:15, Matt. 13:15.
here are the ones on God's doing it: Isa. 63:17, John 12:40, Rom. 11:8. See also Josh.
11:20 and Deut. 2:30 for similar thoughts.
explanation is the same as on Pharaoh: God did it through their ignorant co-operation of
will. Their stubbornness was part of their composition as made by Him who said to their
progenitor, "I will make of thee a great nation." Their blindness was
self-righteousness, and was a result of their law-environment, and He gave them that. He
will remove the blindness at the appointed time stated in Rom. 11:25, by bringing upon
them the war of nations described in Zech. 12-14, when Israel will be humbled and believe.
All mankind is self-righteous by natural pride of life, so that the way in which God
blinded them was by creating them in that pride of life and later giving them
law-environment. The way He will open their eyes is by crushing pride with trouble.
There cannot at the same time exist in the universe two
opposing free wills in executive freedom. The idea is self-contradictory. Such wills would
have to divide the universe between them if one could not conquer the other, in which case
the conquered one would not have been as free as the other. That is probably why religion
has divided off the upper world and given it to God with a little handful of saved people
and given the "incorrigibles" to the devil in the underworld or says that they
will eventually be "burned up." Judging from the overwhelming population said to
be "lost" thus, man's and the devil's "free will" must be more free
than God's. Is it surprising that people do not trust God more?
works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). Then what can man do to
thwart that will? God works in the Christian both to will and to do (Phil. 2:13).
Objectors ask, "Will He save people against their wills?" No. He cannot do that,
because grace stubbornly received by force, is not grace or gift. But He can change the
will. Remember Pharaoh. And the hornets (Ex. 23:28; Deut. 7:20; Josh. 24:12). He did not
"have to" get in front of those Canaanites and drag them out by the hair. If he
had, they probably would have gone right back as soon as he let loose. But the hornets
behind them, ah, then they decided to go of their own wills. But not "free"
wills, because the hornets ruled their wills. The hornets were more' "free" than
the Canaanites. Both wanted to stay in the land, and the hornets won. The human will is
not so big. Smaller than a hornet. Or even a flea or a "chigger." Or a
microscopic germ. Not worth idolizing so much, is it? Remember -0?
scriptures never affirm the philosophy of "the freedom of the will." Some people
think it is so affirmed in the phrase "free-will offerings." But those who
offered such sacrifices were free only from the constraint of the law, which did not
require such offerings. The offerer merely took it upon himself to offer them. He was free
from the law, but not from the motive prompting the offering, such as gratitude for some
blessing, and God controlled those motives by the blessing given or withheld at his FREE
WILL. The other sacrifices were strictly commanded in the law, as to character, time,
place and manner. The instruction for making a freewill offering said "at your own
will" (Lev. 22:19) as distinguished from God's will expressed in the law. The truth
that gratitude was a constraining motive in freewill offerings is shown in 2 Chron. 29:31.
And the truth that "freewill" meant free from constraint of law is shown again
in Ezra 7:13. Those who returned from exile were of "freewill" only in being
free from compulsion by the Persian monarch's edict. He did not compel anybody to return.
But the motives for returning were in God's control.
man's will is morally free, God's will cannot be executively free. All he could then do
would be to wish men would be saved. Most people worship a mere Wisher, instead of a
Disposer. They should write God's name without a capital letter, in smallest type possible
and even in vanishing ink. Again we say, Is it strange that there is little faith and
a child says, "I won't do it," a decision has to be made right then as to whose
will is free from control by the other. If God's child says that, is the heavenly Father
less than a human one would be under such circumstances? Of course that is executive
freedom instead of moral. But if Adam and Eve had moral freedom to obey law or disobey it,
why did God have the way of the cross arranged before their creation? (2 Tim. 1:9, 1 Pet.
1:19-20). And if Israel had moral freedom to obey their law, how could God foretell to
them that they would not? (Deut. 32).
man has moral freedom to disobey to the wrecking of his ultimate welfare God does not have
executive free will in the circumstances.
and justification are not by good works of law. They cannot be (Rom. 3:19-20, Gal. 3:21,
person can will to "do good," but how to perform it he cannot find until
"Jesus Christ" supplies the motive that will work true righteousness in him
(Rom. 7:14-23). Until then the person's will is ruled by the desires of the flesh, which
are stronger than his resolutions to do good. But when Christ's power of love comes in it
rules the will for righteousness. Changing motives thus will make all human conduct
righteous, and God can, and will displace all human selfishness and hate with his love.
then man is not "the architect of his own destiny." "Architect" means
"highest builder." But there is a "Master Builder" (Heb. 3:4). Man is
no builder at all except by conferred grace (1 Cor. 3:10, 15:10).
who think they have done well at life's work like to think they are the doers, independent
from God. But the failures and broken vessels can see by the light of "the furnace of
affliction" that there is a greater Worker than man, who holds the destiny of all in
his hands. That is why the humiliated can "'understand the loving kindness of the
Lord" (Psa. 107:43).
have a good example of the operation of the will in the case of Rebecca. She was
foreordained to be Isaac's wife before she knew it, as shown by the sign that Eliezer, the
slave, proposed at the well. When he arrived at her father Bethuel's home and related the
matter, the mother and Rebecca's brother Laban, tried to have her stay at home at least
ten days, but Eliezer said she must return with him immediately. So they called her and
left the decision to her will, but not her "free will," for of course, she
decided as God had already decided it. When they asked her, "Will you go with this
man?" she said, "I will go." If Eliezer had dragged her out by the hair
into enforced wedlock it probably would not have succeeded. It was bad enough that her
engagement and decision were influenced by golden earrings and bracelets, considering how
she prompted her pet son to lie to her husband on his death-bed, though it, too, was
"of the Lord," to give the blessing to Jacob in harmony with the divine purpose
Syrian of a Midwest city in relating to me his experience in following their marriage
custom, still followed as in the days of Rebecca, of the couple never seeing each other
till their wedding day, said, "I got gypped." She was so ill-tempered he could
hardly live with her.
this incident of Rebecca we have an illustration of why salvation by grace must be
accomplished by choice (that is, assent to the unrealized divine will) of the saved ones,
even though they are foreknown and predestined (Rom. 8:29-30), for if they were forced
into it in the ordinary sense it would not be grace. Therefore God Himself cannot do what
people suggest when they ask, "Will God save people against their wills?' He does not
need to do that, even if it were possible. A few days of herding swine that eat the feed
before the prodigal can get down from shaking the carob-tree to share the feed with the
pigs will soon make him homesick for the Father's bountiful and free table. God does not
"make" us do things against our wills. A few plagues or a fish to swallow a
rebellious prophet or a few hornets behind the Canaanites soon change a stubborn will.
Even human parents know something of changing a child's will. The fish and the hornets won
in the contest of wills because God was on their side. Or rather, they were on God's side
without knowing it. He ruled them by their natural taste for food, just as He could send
the hornets into Canaan by a food-shortage where they had been living, as He sent Israel
into Egypt in fulfillment of His purpose and His prediction to Abraham, by a famine in
Canaan and plenty of grain in Egypt.
to choose Christ is a necessity when we are "called" (Rom. 8:29-30) "by the
gospel" (2 Thess. 2:13-14), else God could not save us if we were so strongly held by
the old slavemaster of sin that we could not even wish for freedom. Then God Himself would
be enslaved to His creation and our slavery. We have just enough freedom that we are not
hopelessly held by "the old man," as Paul calls the flesh-life, whose
flesh-desires are our slave-master. Our wills are free from his power to hold us longer
under sin and death, but they are not free from God's call in the gospel. "The
pleasures of sin" hold us strongly until a stronger appeal comes to us from our
Redeemer. Then the hard toil and beatings we get from the old master make his goods have a
bitter taste in comparison with the promised "honey from the rock." Nor are our
wills in our slavery free in the ordinary conception of moral freedom, for we cannot do
good until our Redeemer calls us out of slavery, for Paul said, "To will is present
with me, (to "do good") but how to perform that which is good I find not."
In the subsequent context (8:7) he declared that the carnal mind cannot obey God. If it
could, there would be no slavery in sin. So the will is not free from evil to do good
until the Redeemer sets us free from the old slave-master to do the will of the new one.
Until then the voice of the new one has no authority over us. The old one has full claim
is the redeemed will free to go back into sin. It "cannot sin" (1 Jn. 3:9), for
it is the will of the Redeemer in us (Phil. 2:13). We are securely held by Him (Rom.
8:36-39). The old master's voice is dead. Pharoah's jurisdiction ended at the western
shore of the Red Sea, and he died in it. After Israel passed through baptismal death to
slavery in that sea they were free from slavery on the eastern shore. They never returned
to Egypt. Not in fact, though they, as we do, found "the way of the wilderness"
so painful that in thought they sometimes turned back to Egypt. But even then they did not
really go back. They could not. Neither can we. When we are redeemed we can do the good
that we formerly could not, for we are told that God works in us to will and to do His
pleasure. It is not the divine purpose that we "continue in sin" (Rom. 6:1-2),
though the time past of our lives was a necessary allotment for that experience. But that
past time is sufficient (1 Pet. 4:3). A longer period would be too much. From thenceforth
we are free enough to choose the better way.
then the will is not free to obey God in righteousness. It is in slavery to the desires of
the flesh. Adam could not obey. Neither could Israel. But even in that old slavery the
will is not free from God to do evil when He restrains it, as He restrained Abimelech from
adultery with Sarah (Gen. 20:6). There are many other like cases in scripture, as the
forty Jews already cited, and as the plots of the Jews to slay Messiah before the time. On
different occasions when they tried to destroy Him we read that the reason they did not
was because His hour had not yet come (Jn. 7:30, 8:20). In order to destroy Him then they
would have had to overcome God, through it would have been easy to do that if they had
"freewill," according to the contention of those who say it would be wrong for
God to violate the sacredness of man's will which they contend was a necessity at his
creation for his development, though they themselves continually violate the will of their
children to force them to obey, or try to contravene the will of their neighbors when
in order to kill the Savior before the time the Jews would have had to invade the
sacredness of the divine will and contravene that. Who could conquer omnipotence, that had
predetermined the time, place and manner of that death? Two restraints deterred them from
their plots, one restraint in Him and the other in them. In Him, perfect love, prompting
Him to go to the cross, caused Him to escape from their clutches. In them, fear of the
people restrained them from such open attacks as they often contemplated (Matt. 21:46,
26:5). But when the proper time came, all circumstances operated like clockwork. That was
what so surprised Judas, for he did not expect that his betrayal would terminate as it did
(Matt. 27:3). He did not expect his Master to be "condemned' but that He would escape
as always before. He did not realize the divine purpose working in him as in all else
pertaining to the tragedy. He wanted to defraud the rulers of the money without really
doing his Master harm. When it turned out unexpectedly he committed the suicide that was
ordained probably without his knowledge. He would not have been ready to try to get money
from the rulers by fraud until he had seen his Master escape from them on these previous
occasions, and thought that He would do the same again. That made the betrayal come at the
end of the Lord's ministry, where it was ordained. In all this we see the divine hand
operating all according to His will. What a lesson to our praying faith to hold on till
God is ready to give the desired thing! It is better to have faith in God than confidence
in free will.
the time for the sacrifice for the sins of the world came, the Son governed the certainty
of it by no longer trying to escape, but went out boldly to the officers in the garden to
be arrested and led away.
God made their sin of murder His holy and loving act of a sacrifice for that sin of theirs
and for all other sins of all the world, their sin in his hands was made to be the
greatest and most marvelous blessing that ever could be. We cannot say that sin is a
blessing, but we can say that the good into which God transforms all evil is a blessing.
Not man's act of sin, but God's act of good is a blessing. Not man's acts by themselves,
but His acts as acts of God working in him. Man's acts by themselves are evil, but his
acts as acts of God are always good. The Saviour said, "Salt is good," but the
sodium and chlorine from which salt is made are deadly poisons.
makes all work together for good (Rom. 8:28). He makes the wrath of men glorify Him (Psa.
76:10). He made the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. a chastisement of the Jews. In
that siege He predicted that they would eat their own children (Lev. 26:28-29). Since that
was to be His act of punishing them (verse 28), how will those who fight predestined evil
by saying then God would be guilty, exonerate God from guilt in Israel's cannibalism as
well as from the murder of His Son? Or from adultery in giving David's wives into adultery
to punish him (2 8am. 12)? But why think of defending Him against His own acts of Fatherly
chastening or from His infinite love in giving us His Son in death of murder for us? The
difference between the murder and the sacrifice, though both were one and the same death,
was in the motives of the two actors, man and God, and the purpose of the divine Actor,
and the result He accomplished in it. It is the same as the difference between a death by
murder, another by suicide and another by self-sacrifice. Suicide and self-sacrifice can
be combined, for a person could end his life for sake of others. So can murder and
suicide, for suicide is self-murder. So can murder and sacrifice, for they were at
Calvary. The only difference is that there two actors joined in the one deed of death, man
and God, and man was unaware of the other Actor, and ignorant that God was using man's
hands through murder to offer a sacrifice. But their sin of murder remained sin on their
side, because of their motive of hate, while God's act remains holy, because of His motive
of love. The three thousand who were saved on the day of Pentecost got a blessing out of
that crucifixion that was both their sin of murder, and sacrifice, for it saved them.
Their sin brought them a blessing. But it was not the murder that blessed them, but the
sacrifice. His death by murder apart from God making it a sacrifice by operating in it all
by raising Him from death, would never have blessed them. That proves that it was not
murder that blessed them. It would then have remained, as it was temporarily, the worst
sin in history at the same time that it was the greatest divine manifestation of love.
we do not "glorify sin" by speaking as we do of the cross. Sin is still
"wrath" even when He makes it "praise" Him. Instead of glorifying sin
we glorify God for His marvelous ways in what He does with sin. Let our critics answer
this question: Was the death of our Lord murder or sacrifice, or both?
brothers got a blessing out of their sin, for it saved them from starvation. But that did
not make them careless to "continue in sin," for they asked Joseph to forgive
them. Their sin would not have been a blessing to them nor to Joseph nor to anybody else
apart from God's working in it. In other words, it was not their sin that blessed them,
but God's making it work for good.
sets up the rulers, then they legalize rum and prostitution and kill millions in wars. But
Hitler, in God's purpose, was made to be something that will become more manifest in the
future, when that purpose becomes more visible.
there are two phases of all our conduct, the human and the divine. The scriptures speak of
it as the work of two hands, man's and God's. Speaking of man's sin of murder of God's
Son, it says, "Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Ac.
2:23), but speaking of the same death as a sacrifice, it says they did what God's hand and
counsel predestined (4:28). The divine Hand moved the human hand. That is, God does things
with human hands. The hand commits sin; the Hand does righteousness. One aspect of the
deed is that it is the act of the instrument; the other, the deed of the Doer, because
there are two intelligences acting, since the instrument has intelligence as well as the
Doer, though not enough intelligence to know that the Doer is acting. Consequently, the
instrument fondly and proudly thinks it is "free" in its will.
we view the awful tragedy of the cross from the human side we are overwhelmed with regret;
as we see it from God's view we are overcome with His infinite love. When we contemplate
all the horror and anguish in the world we turn away, lest we become mentally unbalanced,
as we doubtless would if we knew it all; but that is because we do not know what God is
doing with it all. We cannot understand why some people suffer as they do. Even that
little unbalances some minds, and turns others to atheism, especially when we are the
suffering victims. What have believers in the freedom of the will as the cause of all this
contrary to the divine will to offer in palliation? Nothing but regrets that it did not
turn out as they think that God wished that it might after delivering tons of dynamite to
man without knowing what he would do with it.
ask, "Can it be possible that it pleased God to see the torture of His Son?" How
can we go farther and believe that "it pleased the Lord to bruise him"? Yet so
it is written (Isa. 53:10). When we understand that the greater the suffering the greater
the love manifested, we can begin to assent to the declaration that the Father brought
about the sin and suffering at Calvary and turned it all into His righteousness. And
viewing the suffering world in the light of that tragedy we can abide the evil and endure
the pain, as we are assured that the sufferings of the present are not comparable to the
coming glory. So we go on with our daily cross-bearing. For all the evil in the world can
be understood as can that at Calvary, since God makes all man's wrath praise Him. Every
tear contains a rainbow, not only of the church, to whom He makes all work for good (Rom.
8:28), but the travail of the whole creation (verses 18-23), though it is all so hard for
us to understand.
was evil in the world before Adam sinned, for God knew good and evil before Adam and Eve
came to know it, for God said, "The man is become as one of us, to know good and
evil." So there was already evil before the pair became aware of it. What was it, and
where was it, and who put it .there?
was nakedness, for that was the evil that Adam and Eve came to know by obtaining the
knowledge of it by transgressing in taking it from the tree of knowledge. God made that
evil of nakedness when He created the first flesh creature that was born without clothing.
Was it wrong for God to know that evil, or worse yet, was it wrong for Him to create it?
This all shows that He did no wrong by creating evil and bringing about their failure to
obey the command He gave Adam. Remember the province of law, that it is not for
righteousness by obedience, but for awareness of inability to obtain righteousness by
works. So when God creates evil (Isa. 45:7) or does evil (Amos. 3:6) does He sin? How can
He sin, since sin is non-obedience to law, and He is not under any law? Even though He
does no sin in creating evil, does He do wrong? How can He do wrong, since He cannot be
tempted with evil? (Jas. 1:13), and since He makes all evil result in good?
He gave David's wives into adultery to punish David with exact vengeance for his adultery
with Bath-sheba, and caused Absalom to make war on his father as a punishment for David's
causing Uriah to be slain in battle, and though He deceived the false prophets who
deceived Israel (Ezek. 14:9) He did no wrong, because all His acts in those cases were the
operation of doing good.
human life is evil. Is it sin? God takes away people's lives. He is the one who takes away
the breath of every creature that dies (Psa. 104:29-30). He sometimes destroyed thousands
of Israel's enemies in war. He causes pestilences, storms and catastrophes, as He did
then. But remember that there will be a resurrection and adjudication of all things at the
great white throne.
is evil. It is also sin and crime. But capital punishment is neither murder, sin nor
crime. Was the crucifixion of God's Son an evil, a sin or a crime? Yes, by man it was all
three. But by God it was none of the three, but was love's sacrifice for sin, to take away
the sin of the world and all its evil.
question is, did God ordain evil, including sin as part of that evil? And in doing so did
He err or do anyone an ultimate wrong? He could not sin, because He was not under His own
law. Did He do any wrong? How can infinite Love do wrong? "Love works no ill to his
neighbor" (Rom. 13:8-t0), and He is Love and makes all evil work for good. So where
is the wrong? Thus does evil vanish when we take it into His holy presence, and all evil
becomes good in His operation. That is the solution of the "problem of evil."
the solution of it in its seeming guilt of God is not to blame a secondary cause of which
He is the first Cause, but to see that His work in evil is good. Then the evil vanishes,
by ceasing to be evil when He does it, as He does do with all the evil that man, His
God needs no exoneration. A moment's thought will make us
realize that. What is needed is for us to believe Him when He says that He "is
righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works" (Psa. 145:17). Because people
cannot believe what He declares is His relation to evil in creating it, doing it and
giving it to men for discipline, they think they must relieve Him of guilt for its
existence, claiming that it developed spontaneously in a being that "fell,"
either an angel or man.
God want people guilty? He does (Rom. 3:19-20). Why? For grace (5:20). That is equivalent
to saying He wants them to sin, as is declared in this last citation. Did He not want His
Son sacrificed by murder? The Son said in regard to that, "Thy will be done."
Did He not want Israel to be deceived by false prophets (Ezek. 14:9)? And David to be
punished by the adultery of his wives, and Samson to disobey the law in marrying a
Philistine? and so on, and so on.
He want us to continue in sin (Rom. 6:1-2)? The answer shows that an experience in evil is
necessary as a temporary development.
His desire for their guilt antedate their transgression or follow it, so they may merely
become guilty after they have sinned contrary to His retention and expectation? The above
cases give the answer.
freedom of the will is not the only way of escape from divine guilt for evil that has been
advocated by earnest thinkers who have sought a solution of the matter. The Gnostics
taught that there is an intermediary order between God and the universe that created the
material world, which is essentially evil, and that thus the supreme One had no
participation in the evil. Thus they offered the detachment of Creator from creation as a
way of escape from divine guilt.
religions, as Zoroastrianism of Persia, offer as a solution that there are two gods,
Ormazd the good one and Ahriman the evil one, in conflict. This teaching leaves the origin
of evil as an evil god unsolved, for it does not explain the origin of the evil god and
makes evil eternal from the beginning. It differs from the idea current in most of
Christendom, that the evil god ("the devil") was created good by the good God
and became evil by corrupting himself, and that this "fallen" one is responsible
for the evil in human experience. A very small portion of believers in the devil consider
that he was created an evil being for the temporary purpose of God in evil, and that
eventually he will be reconciled.
those who believe in predestined evil to a certain degree and deny the teaching that the
free will of man introduced evil into the world contrary to the divine will, there are
those who nevertheless advocate a certain degree of human freedom that is responsible for
some of the, evil in the world. These teach that God predestines some evil, but not all,
and that He "controls" all the evil that He does not predestine. They thus
maintain that this degree of freedom they advocate does not interfere with predestination,
for they believe in predestination, and say that nothing can interfere with the
accomplishment of the divinely foreordained purposes.
idea of control is evidently correct, if it be another way of saying that God works all
(Eph. 1:11, A.V.) or operates the universe (C.V.). If He had not predestined the future He
could not predict it. So He controls all with a view to the purposed future. The event
that is controlled purposely that it may cause another event to result must have been
predestined to produce it. Thus the predestined ultimate involves the predestined,
controlled event that accomplishes it. That shows that each controlled event is itself a
predestined result of a previous causative, controlled, predestined event, which in turn
is a result of a previous, causative, controlled, predestined event, and so on, to the
origin of all, which is God.
is asked if all sin and other evil issue directly out of God. No, He works in the sin and
other evil that people do, and in what we call "natural law" of weather,
earthquake, lightning, disease and such. But that no more relieves Him of supposed guilt
than if He had done these things directly instead of indirectly, for He made man and
whole point in question can be cleared up to the satisfaction of all concerned if a case
can be cited in the scriptures which was not foreordained, but controlled. If the idea is
correct, such a case should be found, and if it cannot, the whole idea would seem to look
suspicious, to say the best possible for it. But where is there such a case?
what is gained by proving such a case? Has God been exonerated if we can prove that He
"controls" evil instead of predestinating it? The control might be a lesser
degree of "responsibility" than predestinating it would be, but does not the
problem still persist as to His guilt even in consenting to have such a relation to evil
as to control it? Would not that be similar to His permitting evil, which we have already
has been argued by these proponents that if God predestinated all evil and all actions of
people, that would be fatalism, and people would be only "puppets"
("machines," as we will shortly discuss that idea). Would they like to call our
Savior by such an epithet? He was predestinated.
full predestination would become fatalism, why would not partial predestination be
fatalism to that degree? In other words, why are not predestination and fatalism
identical? The opponents of predestination try to cry it down by calling it fatalism. The
scriptures never use the term "fatalism." A good encyclopedia distinguishes the
terms, as we have just distinguished them, showing that determinism
("necessity"), fatalism and predestination all agree in saying that the future
is fixed. They all overlap in that respect. But they never coincide, even though they do
overlap. So predestination could never become fatalism, even if it is true that all evil
and all acts are predestinated. So there should be no more said by way of arguing that if
predestination of all is true it would be fatalism.
though the idea of "control" is true, it is the same as predestination, for then
God controls all with a view to His purpose, and thus control is but a part of the
"means" used in accomplishing a predetermined purpose, and so is a part of
predestination, since in it, means are used to reach the goal. So there is no objection to
control, unless it be severed from predestination. In other words, scripturally expressed,
He operates the universe according to His will, and purpose (Rom. 8:29-30, Eph. 1:11).
an illustration of the matter, consider the birth of our Lord. The predetermined place of
it was Bethlehem. For that to be, it was necessary that Joseph marry Mary. That required
all the ancestors of both to be what they were, in time, place, identity and all else,
running clear back to Adam, and thus every event is locked in with every other, in the
whole series, and in all that has occurred. The predetermination of one event involves all
others related to it. And what event is unrelated? "No man lives to himself"
(Rom. 14). For Bethlehem to be the birthplace, it was necessary for Caesar to decree the
law of registration. Even so, God sets up the rulers and "The king's heart is in the
hand of the Lord as the rivers of water. He turneth it whithersoever he will."
other ordained events can be shown to be thus related to all other events, link by link,
and chain by chain.
questions on evil are discussed more thoroughly in the author's booklet, "The Mystery
the nearest to scriptural evidence there is that God permits evil is the proposal of the
lying spirit in Ahab's prophets (1 Kin. 22:22) and the suggestion in Job 1 and 2 that Job
should be deprived of possessions and health.
first citation is a fictitious representation of what really occurred, for God
"put" the deception in Ahab's prophets, so that if He "permitted" the
evil, He permitted Himself to do it. He declared the same truth later through Ezekiel
close scrutiny of the suppositional evidence in Job shows that there was no permission at
all in that case. The adversary of Job proposed that God should bring the evil upon Job
directly, instead of permitting anyone else to do it, and God accepted the proposal, with
the exception that He did it indirectly, by putting Job in his adversary's hand to be
afflicted by that adversary. But here again there is not permission, but command, a
commission to that adversary as God's agent. But God was the one who brought the evil upon
Job (42:11). God assumes as His acts whatever any of His subordinates (including people)
do. This answers the question, "Do all sin and evil issue directly out of God?"
to which we may properly pose another: Is any evil so remotely and indirectly related to
Him that it is entirely disconnected from Him? That shows the futility of most efforts to
exonerate Him for evil.
who ask the first question answer the second by saying He controls all evil that He does
not foreordain. But "control" is too weak a word, because it presupposes that He
has an antagonist and that evil is outside His will. The scriptures never say that
"the devil" is an adversary to God, nor that He controls evil or permits it. God
has no adversaries. He has full dominion over His universe. He uses the stronger terms of
Himself, that He creates evil, does it, gives it to man and brings it upon us. But always
who oppose the scripture teaching that God foreordains human conduct, by saying that in
that case "Let us just sit down and do nothing, for we will do it anyway if we are
ordained to," have two unanswerable questions to answer, with which we close this
discussion and leave the questions with them. (1) Since our Saviour's course was
predestined, even in places where He was to preach (Matt. 4:12-16) and what He was to say
(Isa. 61:1-3), as well as His death and resurrection, why did He not say, "I'll just
go back to my father's carpenter shop, because my Father will make me preach anyway, and
put me through crucifixion and resurrection whether or not"? Why are you so superior
to Him that you would act more wisely than He did? That is fatalism, as before explained.
(2) The second question to our opposers is, Why do we not act as you say you would if you
believed what we do? Job and Peter also boasted what they would do in hypothetical
circumstances, and both did just the opposite, just as you will do when you learn to
believe it as we do. But in the meanwhile why are you so superior to those men that your
boast is valid though theirs were presumptive?
a conclusion to this study we shall try to make a statement of truth that will be
acceptable to both sides of the controversy, by embodying in it whatever is true in the
views of both sides.
there is human will, for it is repeatedly stated in scripture.
it has some freedom, for the words "free" and "freewill" are used of
it, and people are admonished to "choose," and said to do so.
there is a doctrine of predestination in the scriptures, for the words in different forms
are there, and there are many cases of it clearly visible.
shows the necessity of seeing that the ideas on man's freedom and those on predestination
do not conflict. We have tried in this treatise to do that.
in this study we have stated the following thoughts about man's will and freedom:
had enough freedom to do evil, but not enough to do the good of obeying the command not to
eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for that would have thwarted the divine
intention of redeeming him and us from sin, as was planned before he sinned. We have the
same freedom he had, and the same limitations of it.
had enough freedom to be accountable for his sin to the just judgment of God, because of
the motive that prompted his disobedience. He was accountable, for he was sentenced to
penalties, but the situation requires us to recognize that penalties and divine judgment
are corrective, in order to change the motives prompting sin from evil ones to benevolent
ones, and thus reclaim the ones who err.
God designed the remedy for sin before it came, any effort to lay upon man's freedom the
blame for the entrance of evil into the world in order to exonerate God from guilt, as is
by some thought imperative, will not avail, and some other way must be found to see that
God is not guilty for the presence of evil. We have set that way before the reader in our
study, so will not rehearse it here.
has enough freedom while in sin to desire to be freed from it, else he could not be saved
from sin. So we do not have enough freedom while in sin to resist the call of redeeming
grace when it comes to us.
man's freedom to sin is limited, for we have cases that show that men have repeatedly been
restrained from sin when they tried to commit it (Gen. 20:6, Jn. 7:30). God prevented men
in such cases from doing the wrong they planned.
have freedom to do good only as enabled by grace, for the natural man is declared in
scripture to be utterly incapable of righteousness apart from God's enabling grace.
man cannot do either good or evil except as God wills.
are subject to the only free will in the universe, that is, the divine one.
that will is perfect and holy and irresistible, the outcome must be blessed for all
concerned, after humanity's experience with evil has accomplished the divine purpose of
being "exercised" in it (Eccl. 1:13, 3:10).
there have been need of God changing His course if--
Israel had accepted Christ as King?
Christ had not successfully met temptation?
had successfully met temptation?
fails to do as God counts on him to do in His plans and predictions?
the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice in danger of being nullified by possible non-belief of
was intended to benefit, because of their supposed freedom of will?
there any certainty that even one person would believe after He made salvation possible
sacrifice? If not, how could He endure the cross? And if we answer "Yes", what
between that certainty and predestination?
will is free, anyhow, man's, or God's?
This term is supposed to be an appropriate title for people
if we do not have the vaunted freedom of will. And it is universally recognized that if
predestination is true we have no such freedom. Thus the issue is clearly joined in the
we read that our Saviour was predestined. Before His conception the Father revealed His
power to govern the sex of Mary's first-born child, and thus He took no risk in prenaming
Him with a male name. Furthermore, the Father showed His power to make Him the Savior, for
He named him that--"Jesus," "Savior"--before birth, or even
conception, and called Him that to the shepherds before He had been tempted and proved
resistant to sin, as the Savior had to be. Did He have "freedom" enough in the
trial in the wilderness to nullify what His Father had previously declared concerning Him?
his cross was foreordained. It was set up in type at the creation, in Adam's wounded side,
and in Egypt at the Exodus in the passover lamb, and on the pole in the wilderness, and
every morning and evening its a daily sacrifice in Israel and in countless other ways all
along the passageways of time. Then this is the problem for our objectors: Since he was
foreordained and since foreordination and free will cannot coexist, will they blaspheme
our loving Lord by calling Him a "Machine"? Never thought of it in that way, did
you? Well, never mind, you likely will not use the term in ridicule any more.
is infinitely preferable that God should keep control of man than that He should have made
a contrivance and then never try to run it, but just wind it up and turn it loose and say
to it, "Go jump in the lake of fire if you want to." It is better to be God's
"machine" and be saved than to be our own managers and turn out to be such
terrible mis-managers. And can anyone manage himself into salvation, since it is "by
grace"? Better say, "Not my will, but thine".
only motive power that runs the thing called a "machine," which is "the
natural man," is the desire of the flesh and of the eyes and the pride of life (so
evident in claims of ""free will"), and all that desire is hereditary, so
he is not free unless he can determine his heredity before birth.
the only motive power that runs the spiritual man is the spirit or mind of Christ in him,
and that is bestowed; so that he is not free thus unless he can put Christ into himself.
And after the New Man thus rules him he will not have power to nullify that grace unless
he can conquer love, which is the strongest thing in the universe.
is no wonder that people worry when they think they have more power for evil and failure
than God has for their good. When they so think, do they have God for their Father, or
just a god?
the will then so restricted that it cannot act? No, Paul said, "To will is present
with me." The will has a bestowed freedom to be delivered from sin, else we could not
be saved. When Paul asks, "Who shall deliver me?" he answers, "I thank God
through Jesus Christ." The will must be free enough in the bondage of sin to say,
"For to will is present with me," even though it must confess, "but how to
perform that which is good I find not." But a slave can properly desire redemption
which he cannot purchase for himself.
meaning of "to will is present with me" is that a desire is present to do good.
We call it conscience. The Book calls it, also "the knowledge of good and evil."
If it were not for that we never could receive salvation, because we then would never know
the need for it to desire it, any more than the animal creatures do, that know no sin. We
are saved by grace, and grace cannot be forced upon the unwilling, for then it would not
be grace, for a gift ceases to be a gift, and becomes an offense, when obtruded against
desire. We were created with the possibility of conscience, and were thus predestined for
salvation. That answers the question, "Why blame or reprove anyone for predestined
evil?" for the reproof is a means to the predestined salvation which nobody will seek
until be knows his need, and cannot receive by grace without the will receiving through
seeking and submission.
crucifiers were reproved (Ac. 2:23) for doing what they were foreordained to do (4:28).
how repent (2:38) and be forgiven (3:19)?
was sympathetic to them because of the facts (3:17). So was the Savior, saying
"Forgive them because they know not." Are we thus to our evil-doers? They, too,
are impelled by uncontrollable forces until grace reigns in them.
Doers of ordained evil must be kept in ignorance of God's
purpose in it, or they would not act in it (1 Cor. 2:8). Here it is declared that if the
rulers had known what he was then divulging, they would not have crucified the Lord. So
all that would have been necessary to avoid the murder of God's Son would be for God to
give them the knowledge that Paul gave us. Why did God not do it, unless the cross was
foreordained? Their ignorance was the reason the Son asked the Father to forgive them.
that God needs to do to save any or all is to enlighten (2 Cor. 5:19, 1 Jn. 4:8).
Adam and Eve were totally ignorant morally, and had the three flesh-desires that cause
sin, God foreknew that they would sin, and prepared the Lamb of the sin-offering
"before the foundation of the world." And because He likewise foreknew the same
about Israel. He foretold to them their failure to keep the law (Deut. 32). Because He
foreknew that salvation is not by works before He inspired Paul to write it to us.
did not know what God was up to, except that he was told that God was going to make His
power known in him. So he disobeyed, and his ignorance was a factor in the grand drama.
Assyrian king did not know that God was using him to chasten Israel (Isa. 10:6-10). His
motive was spoils and destruction (verses 6-7).
did not know that his act would involve his Master in trouble, so when it did, he tried to
"trade back" with the rulers. If God had given him full understanding he would
not have betrayed the Lord, and then we would have no Savior. God's secrets are for his
friends (Psa. 25:14, Matt. 13:11). And remember that we are friends only because of grace.
When God is ready, He can win all His enemies over to friendship, just as He won 3,000 of
them at Pentecost, and the worst sinner in the world on the Damascus road.
When an objector can no longer deny the truth of
predestination he often says, "Then there is nothing we can do to change things, so
we may as well just sit down and do nothing."
forget the hornets. If he should sit on one of them he would rise at once--but not of his
own "free will," but because his will would be ruled by the tiny stinger of a
little insect. And if God foreknew his intention of sitting down, and had the hornet all
ready, as He had the fish ready for Jonah, then the whole matter would be "of
God." He has a way of causing people to act, or not act as by paralysis, or go or
stay, or move east or west, or do anything else with his "clay." If he had put
the hornets on the east of the Canaanites they would never have stopped running until they
jumped into the Mediterranean Sea.
the death angel brought a funeral to every Egyptian home, Pharaoh said, "Hurry and
get out" (Ex. 12:33). Life was preferable to slaves.
first said, in effect, "I won't do it," then, very gladly, '"Let me do
it." A whale makes a big difference.
objectors do not know that when they thus argue that they would "do nothing"
they are not remonstrating against predestination, but against fatalism. In fact, they do
not know the difference, because they call the teaching on predestination
The scriptures never even mention fatalism, but they do
affirm predestination, so we have to go to other sources of information to understand
fatalism. See any good encyclopedia.
difference between predestination and fatalism is this: Fatalism denies both causes and
means, as far as human personality and will are concerned, but predestination recognizes
both causes and means.
are no hornets in fatalistic philosophy. According to fatalism, God might just as well
have sent the Canaanites out of the country without using hornets or anything else.
are not fatalists; we believe in hornets and whales and the death of the first born and
many other things that God uses as both causes and means. We believe that there is a will
of the flesh that God operates upon and within.
illustrate from sacred history: Our Savior's resurrection was ordained. So certainly that
He predicted even the date of it. But we read in Heb. 5 that He prayed for it. His praying
was a means the Father ordained, for His prayer for resurrection-life was pre-written
(Psa. 21:4). He fulfilled this at Jn. 17:5. God knows what will cause people to pray, for
he said, "They poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them" (Isa.
26:16), and, "In the time of their trouble they will say, Arise and save us"
(Jer. 2:27). We read last week of the morning and evening prayer-meetings held in the
rubber boats of Eddie Rickenbacker and his mates.
another illustration: When Paul and his companions were shipwrecked, the Lord stood by him
in the night and encouraged him with the promise that he should see Rome (Acts 27:24), as
involved in the prediction at Damascus that he was to bear the Name before kings (9:15),
and a later assurance that he should preach at Rome (23:11). The promise of rescue from
shipwreck included also the lives of all who sailed with Paul (27:24). But when those evil
men were about to leave the ship alone in the life-boat. Paul told them that if they did
not stay on board they would not be saved. If he had been a fatalist, he would have said
that they would have been saved whether or no.
as to cause, the fatalist says that since the future is fixed, its events will occur even
without any cause; and as to means, that they will happen regardless of him or what he
does or does not. He therefore does "sit down." The Mohammedan orientals, who
are fatalists, used wooden plows, at least until recent years. So the objectors who say
that they would "sit down" are hypothetical fatalists, instead of believers in
fatalist would say that if there is to be ice in the desert it will be there regardless of
water as a means or temperature as a cause. So he does just "sit down," saying
it is needless to carry the water, and he would really "do nothing" about
putting water in the refrigerator. (Unless he sit on a hornet or a flea bite him or he sit
in too hot sunlight or . . . ).
sulk, just like that.
a final illustration of causes and means in predestination in the sacred records, take the
case of our Lord's death: When His enemies tried to kill Him before the time and in a
different place and way from that ordained, even though He knew that His death was
foreordained as to the time, place and way (as shown in outline, "THE DEATH OF GOD'S
SON"), yet He did not "sit down" and say, "Since that is the case,
there is no need for me to do anything." He moved bodily to avoid what He knew was
against the Father's ordaining will (Lu. 4:30, Jn. 10:39, 11:53-54). He was not a
Fatalist. His will and actions were means that the Father foreknew and used, for the Son
said, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that
sent me" (Jn. 6:38).
immediate cause of His crucifixion was man's hate, but that was only a means used by the
Father, who was the original Cause of it. For in any chain of events, all immediate or
intermediary causes are also means in relation to any preceding cause, until the original
cause is reached, which ultimately is God, the original Causer of all that is. Once we
recognize the existence of God as the great "First Cause," the whole universal
order, not only material and personal, but also of events and deeds, must result
inevitably. Heredity and environment are recognized by scientific thought as being the
factors of determinism, and the First Cause fixed both of these prior to the performance
of any deed. His intelligence, or Spirit, is the only operating force in the universe, and
it cannot err. Erring and sinning came on the human side of His universe, when the
combination of ignorance and flesh-desire is subjected to law. But even that human side is
under His control and is part of His operation. "The preparations of the heart in
man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord" (Prov. 16:1). "A man's
heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps" (ver. 9). "There are
many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall
stand" (19:21). "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of
water: he turneth it whithersoever he will" (2 I:1). To sin is, literally, to miss
the mark (Judg. 20:16). The original word here is the same elsewhere translated
"sin." That missing is caused by subjecting human flesh-desire and ignorance to
law as a mark too high to be hit. God does that subjecting, to teach the way of fulfilling
the righteousness of law in us through His Son (Rom. 8:3-4). So all this human missing is
a temporary imperfection on the way to perfection.
Though some scriptures present the problem of God's seeming
disappointment over man's course, they are to be understood in the light of His higher
revelations in the same Book. For instance, His repentance and grief (Gen. 6:6) are like
His anger, fury, vengeance, etc. They are explained by such as Rom. 6:19 (speaking in
human style, because of our weakness to understand) where Christian life is called slavery
when really it is not. God could not really be disappointed over the outcome of His human
creation, because He foreknew their coming sin, for He designed the Sacrifice for it
before the creation of man. If He really had been disappointed, why should He save eight
mortals for seed for a new crop of the same kind, instead of destroying all and starting
the next experiment, if any, with a different kind of creatures? If He is an Experimenter,
you may be lost.
is "after-mind," not "after-care" or regret, as it is usually thought
of as being. (See the lexical meaning of the Greek). So God's repenting in such cases is
merely changing from mercy to judgment, as in this case, or from judgment to mercy, as
with the Ninevites with Jonah.
salvation of Christians is predestined (Acts 13:48, Rom. 8:28-30, 2 Thess. 2:13-14), but
belief of the gospel is the only means of saving them (Rom. 1:16, Acts 4:12), so preaching
is indispensable as a means of even God saving them. Therefore Christians will not
fatalistically "sit down" and keep still, (for those of us who believe God when
He says we are predestined do neither), but love will compellingly constrain them to
preach (2 Cor 5:14), and God is the original Causer of that prompting love (l Jno. 4;:19).
Because of that, and because He is untrammeled by man in the freedom of His love, He can,
without the least risk, foreordain, foreknow and foretell the results of His love, both in
the preaching and the results of the preaching, for both the preaching (Matt. 4:12-16,
Acts 13:46) and the results of the preaching (Acts 18:10, where they were His people
before they believed) are determined by Him before, because He gives repentance (Acts
5:31, 2 Tim. 2:25) and enables believing by grace (Acts 18:27), opening hearts to receive
the word (Lu. 24:45, Acts 16:14).
This is the scientific view of the same thing the scriptures
reveal as predestination. The three views, Predestination, Fatalism and Determinism, all
agree on the fixed state of the future. Determinism recognizes causes, which fatalism does
not; but determinism disregards God as the Cause, recognized in predestination. So
predestination is the full truth, of which the advocates of the other two views see only
determinism, science recognizes a chain of inter-changeable causes and means reaching back
from any fact, act or event into a remote past in which it vainly gropes for a beginning
cause, and finally has to hang its origins on nothing, so to speak, though logically and
philosophically compelled to find an origin of the universe, for the "unknown
God" it does not find is the beginning of the chain, and to atheistic science, its
most important "missing link."
the atheistic wing of scientific determinism could only recognize the intelligence
manifested in "nature" as the Spirit of the great and beneficent "First
Cause," how it would profit and advance! If fatalism could but recognize God as a
Cause of the fixed future, and man as a means in His hands, what bestirring we should see
in the orient! And if Christendom could only believe God in His scriptural declarations of
predestination, what trust and peace would bless it!
all Christians do concede predestination in certain cases. Likely all admit that our
Savior was predestined. At least, the scriptures definitely and unequivocally so declare,
so that it is a simple matter of believing God or honestly ceasing to call themselves
Christians. Well, one case of a person being predestined in evil dumps all the problems of
predestination into your lap and demands a solution. Was God guilty of murder when He put
His Son on the cross? Were His murderers not "responsible"? Why was He not born
perfect, instead of being made perfect through suffering? And what is the destiny of His
betrayers and murderers? These are the four problems that Paul both raises and solves.
What is your solution? Do you believe Paul's inspired revelations? Will you quit
insinuating that you Savior must be a "Machine" if He was predestined; or can
you believe both predestination and free will at the same time?
eleven apostles were chosen for the ordained purpose of occupying thrones in the kingdom.
But when they quarreled about preeminence in the kingdom the King reproved them, lest they
fail to be in the kingdom at at all (Matt. 18: 1-3). The reproof was a necessary means to
the ordained end. Judas, whose fault was a necessary means to the ordained Sacrifice, was
not reproved, lest there be no kingdom nor salvation. The three thousand on the day of
Pentecost were reproved for their foreordained sin of murder in order that they might
"Repent" (Acts 2:38). Their predestined guilt must not remain permanently.
is a question that none of the author's opponents have ever answered: Who fixed the future
that God foreknows, since He predicts it? Will you answer it? The Book does.
all the vexing problems concerning Calvary are solved so blessedly, every other case of
evil in the universe can be as blessedly solved in the light of the cross.
these words be a means under God's hand to bring you His love, and may this be the day and
this the way that He visits you with his grace!