"FOR WHO HATH RESISTED HIS WILL"
The subject...MAN'S WILL versus GOD'S WILL. Man's power relative to God's power. How free is man to express and perform his own will? Has it really been granted of God for man to do perpetually as man pleases? Are we in actual reality, resisting God's providential will even when we believe that we are? Is personal salvation based upon man's will and choice, or God's?
On the surface, it is scripturally evident that man's place in the mechanics of God's eternal plan indicates that man is not a mindless robot or puppet devoid of a personal will. Yet, contrary to popular belief, and shocking as it may be to some, neither is man's own will actually in control of his own ultimate destiny. We ask, "Is it not Christ alone, who has the necessary keys to open or lock the prison doors of hell and death?" Matt.16:18,19; Rev.1:18; 3:7.
We shall endeavor to bring to light through the scriptures, a portion of truth in regards to one's so called "free will." Gen.49:6; Tit.1:7; 2Ptr.2:10. Hopefully, these scriptures may shed a few rays of revelational light on controversial questions such as ..."Can man resist God's influences on his life? Could he continue forever to resist God's will?" Further yet, "Can man really resist it at all?" Ro.9:19.
Common Christian belief is, that God can do anything except interfere with man's will. Many believe that man retains an absolute and final power of volition. But is this so according to God's word? A close up examination of the scriptures will reveal beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is not so! It is God's omnipotent power of will only which operates in absolute, unlimited, unrestricted freedom and strength in all of His creation. Man's clearly does not!
Know ye not that even "the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1Cor.1:25. Therefore we sincerely ask, "Is any of the work that our Almighty God set out to accomplish, especially in regard to personal salvation and reconciliation, able to be resisted forever by rebellious man or devil?" The Lord Himself says of His divine work, "I will work, and who shall let [hinder] it?" Isa.43:13. No wonder, "for who hath resisted His will?" (Rom.9:19) when it comes His time to perform and complete it.
It is evident that man has a will which he voluntarily exercises in a personal way - Ex.25:2; 35:21-29; Lev.1:3; 19:5; 22:19,29; 1Ptr.5:2. Yet, it is also evident man has but a weak and limited form of "power over his own will." 1Cor.7:37; 9:16-18; 16:12; Dan.8:4; 11:3,16,36; 2Kgs.19:26 etc. His "own will" is a thing called "SELF will", and was given him by God in order to experience the results of both good and evil - Eccl.3:10,11; Ro.8:20.
The biblical truth is, finite man has actually a very limited, transitory form of freedom of will, wherein his infinite God "hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass." Jb.14:5. Because man is yet unknowledgeable and ignorant of most forces which move and influence him, he often imagines he is free to will and to do as he pleases. We ask, "If even a wise man can influence and control another man's will, how much more can our ALL-WISE God influence every wise man?" (1Cor.1:25) whose "wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." 1Cor.3:19. Human carnality greatly inhibits and limits man's mind - Jer.11.
Limitation, both mental and physical (1Cor.13:12), spiritual and circumstantial (Psa.139:5), hereditary and environmental (Lam.3:5-7; Ac.17:26), are instrumental in determining the entire scope of man's free will and intentions in this earth - Jb.3:23; 12:14; 37:7; Eccl.8:8. For example, a man can jump only a limited distance in either length or height. He can run only so fast. He can throw only so far. His will is bound by God's basic law of gravity. Often too, he is unable to find the means by which to fulfill his many wants, or even his needs -1Kgs.17:12. He may earnestly desire and determine to prevent such things as sickness (Mk.5:26; Lk.13:11), wars, (Jas.4:1), or famines and pestilence (Matt.24:7), but very often, this is also beyond the power of his own will to perform - 2Chr.20:12.
Comparatively, man is often about as free as dust in a windstorm, a rowboat on a stormy sea, a dog on a chain, an animal in the zoo, or a man at his job. At times when the spirit may be willing, the flesh may be too frail and weak - Matt.26:41; Rom.7:18; 2Cor.8:11. Therefore, the end result of our will rests in a dimension beyond any human mental or physical abilities to control. It is self evident that human thoughts are not governed by known laws of nature, in spite of the fact that we are made up of molecules and atoms which do obey natural laws.
We find described in the scriptures, another supernatural force which is far stronger and more powerful in nature and influence than any human faculty. It is here that we are told about the existence of an absolute will and of thoughts and ways which are much higher than man's - Ro.9:11-26; Isa.55:9; Job. chptr. 37; 11:7; 2Cor.3:5. Absolutely no thoughts of God can be hindered and no plan can be thwarted - Jb.42:2; Isa.14:27.
God's own will, which is never apart from His omnipotent power nor His perfect timing, is not confined to operating nor acting in the realm of merely trying, or attempting, as often is the case in mere human effort. His omniscient Spirit is always present, and ever proceeding in a patient, creative, efficient manner towards its determined consummation. Even time itself, is confined within the realm of God's own will - Rev.1:8; Eccl.3:1,17; 8:6; Ac.17:26; Heb.11:3; Gal.4:4.
It is very evident, that unregenerate and carnal man, is but a prisoner (Psa.102:19,20; 68:18) of his own thoughts and his own self will. He is really able to move about only within the narrow confinements of restrictive prison walls which the Bible calls sin and death. He must remain there undergoing a type of rehabilitation until higher authorities grant him a full pardon and give him his freedom. In the meantime, it seems man's own will can only be expressed within the limits imposed upon him, through the marvelous and mysterious designs of His all-embracing God, whereby he is put into a position of God's own control and choosing - Jn.3:27; Ac.15:7; 17:26; Heb.6:3; 1Chr.29:1; Jb.38:11; Isa.24:1; 43:10.
God's directive and permissive will, operates in providential dominion and wisdom over every positive and negative force in His universe - Psa. chptr. 104. "All power belongeth unto God." Psa.62:11; 1Chr.29:11,12; Rom.13:1. Therefore, even the fall of man into sin, had to be within the authorized and sanctioned permit of God's overall omniscient will (Isa.45:7; Jer.24:9,10; Rev.6:8; 11:6), happening "in His appointed times" (Isa.14:31; Ex.9:5; Dan.8:19; Ac.17:24-28), as a part of His purpose of the ages - Eph.3:11.
The creation from the beginning, "was made (even created, planned and purposed according to God's divine foreknowledge - Heb.4:3) subject to vanity (Psa.39:5; Eccl.1:2,13; 3:10,11), NOT WILLINGLY (by man, even though on the surface, the unrestrained disobedient choice appeared to be all of man's own doing) but BY REASON OF HIM (GOD HIMSELF) WHO HATH SUBJECTED THE SAME (creation) in (an ultimately glorious, assured-Ro.8:21) hope - Ro.8:20; Psa.90:3.
Because the woman's disobedient choice was directly influenced by the imperfect, immature, unwise, ignorant and corruptible nature with which she was created, and because both the man and the woman [spirit and soul] were placed into the exact surroundings and situation which God ordained, we can then understand how it really was according to God's foreordained redemptive plan, that "they corrupted themselves" - Deut.32:5; Jas.1:13-15.
Therein, "God in times past, suffered [allowed] all nations [and individuals] to walk in their own ways." Ac.14:16; Hos.5:11. Even in this present day and age, we are still in the allocated "time when one man ruleth over another to his own hurt." Eccl.8:9. This is also true in principle, of many secular and religious organizations - Rev.17:6.
Most people fail to understand that the complete implementation of God's master plan from beginning to end, can never be apart from the workings of His will. So, when we look at all the vanity and suffering that is allowed to take place on this earth, is suffering not also in a latent sense, still "according to the will of God"? 1Ptr.4:19; 3:17; Phil.1:29; 2Cor.1:5,6; Ac.9:16; Rom.8:18; Jas.4:9; Jer.30:23,24.
Solomon in his God given wisdom proclaimed, "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright" (even morally good in His eyes-Gen.1:31); but in their God created, God allowed and God limited portion of human-self free will, they have misused this gift and "they have sought out many inventions." Ecc.7:29. "For there are many devices (inventions) in (the self willed choices of) a man's heart; Nevertheless (it is) the counsel (divine purpose known from the beginning of the ages - Ac.15:18) of the Lord that shall stand." Prv.19:21; Psa.10:2; 33:10; Jer.23:19,20.
It is absolutely God's ongoing, immutable, redemptive will, regardless of man, whereby He is determined and more than "able to subdue ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF" (Phil.3:21) that "He might FILL ALL THINGS WITH HIMSELF" [even with His own love and will] (Eph.4:10), thus becoming "ALL IN ALL". 1Cor.15:28. This is the positive, ultimate goal and overall purpose of our loving God's progressive, all encompassing, omnipotent will. Only this kind of love bears all things, endures all things and cannot fail - 1 Cor.13:7,8.
Because of their past teaching in the traditions of man, many will argue that man's own will shall ever prevent the gloriously grand fulfilling of God's own sovereign omnipotent will. But according to God's word of truth wherein He cannot lie, He shall mercifully prove them to be very wrong - Isa.59:1. Fortunately for mankind, "God is (still unchangeable and) in one mind (of singleness and purpose in the mind of Christ), and who can turn Him?" (Jb.23:13), the only One "who worketh ALL THINGS (including man's ultimate destiny) after the counsel of HIS OWN WILL." Eph.1:11.
Is it too hard to believe that "what His soul desireth, even that He doeth?" Jb.23:13; Psa.115:3; Ac.27:23,24. Again He saith, "I will work, and who shall let (hinder) it?" Isa.43:13; J37:7; Psa.135:6. Who is there really that can resist God and forever nullify His will? Ro.9:19; Num.31:23. Even Personal salvation is initially conditional upon God's redemptive will alone, not upon man's - Jn.1:12; Eph.1:4-7. Salvation is of divine will and origin, and originates not at all from human will nor intellect. Actually, one can no more will of himself to be saved than he can will of himself to remain lost.
Job of old proclaims of a grand truth..."Thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands" (Jb.14:15) "for He performeth the thing that is appointed for me." Jb.23:13. Why, and how did God perform and reveal His will in Job's life? Job typifies humanity. Job was said to be "beset" meaning confined - Psa.139:5. God "possessed his reigns" (place of decision making, his will) Psa.139:13. Job was divinely "hedged in". Jb.3:23. God "fenced up" Jobs own ways - Jb. 19:8. His feet were said to be put in "stocks." Jb.13:27; 33:11. Job surely had his own free will but it appears even a righteous man's will may not be as free as one thinks! God's will alone, is absolute in its pursuasive influence.
Had not God chosen and predetermined, seen and foreknown (Eph.2:10), the ways of righteousness which Job would choose in his heart? Jb.23:10. Therein, He did proceed to direct his steps (Jb.14:16) as "the guide" of his youth (Jer.3:4), even through trials and judgments (1Ptr.4:2,3), to bring about the ordained time of his double portion of blessing, wherein Job was to be found not only wise and righteous in his own eyes (Jb.32:1), but also in God's.
Surely during his allotted course of time, man may purpose or choose whatsoever pleases himself (Philm.14), but a pertinent question to be answered is, "Who hath hardened himself against Him (God) and hath prospered"...or really actually succeeded in hindering God? Jb.9:4; 5:12; Ex.12:36. If a purpose or work be of man's choice alone, "it will come to naught; but if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it." Ac.5:38,39. These are important basic principles.
Sooner or later (1Tim.5:24), that which man chooses and acts upon that is not in the Father's ultimate will or purpose, shall bring just judgment or vanity rather than blessing - Eccl.12:4. "Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord...therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be filled with their own devices" (Prv.1:29-31)..."because to every purpose (of man and God) there is time and judgment." Eccl.8:6.
It is a basic principle and law of God that man must be judged in accordance with whatsoever he does within the sphere of his own limited will - Rom.3:5; Matt.23:37,38. But nevertheless, God has purposed through the greatness in His omnipotent and efficacious power of love for all, to divinely bring forth righteousness, even out of man's own choice to do evil. For "judgment shall return unto righteousness" (Psa.42:15); and all His enemies (including the last enemy death) shall submit themselves willingly unto Christ (Psa.66:3,4; Phil.2:10,11) because "the Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed" (Psa.103:6)....oppressed of him who presently in subordination, exercises the power of death - Heb.2:14. "Though he (any man) fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for THE LORD UPHOLDETH HIM (even in judgment) with His hand" (Psa.37:23,24), "in whose hand (directing power; will power) is the soul of every living thing and the breath of all mankind." Jb.12:10; 2Chr.20:6.
"Behold, HIS HAND IS NOT SHORTENED THAT HE CANNOT SAVE" (Isa.59:1) all which is in His will and purpose to deliver in this groaning creation - 1Sam.14:6; Rom.8:21,22. He cannot and will not fail. "He (in His divine timing) openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruction, THAT HE MAY WITHDRAW MAN FROM HIS (own) PURPOSE, and hide pride from man." Jb.33:16,17. "HE SEALETH UP (makes an end, stops) THE HAND (self directing works) OF EVERY MAN; that all men may know His (God's glorious, majestic plan and) work." Jb.37:7; Isa.40:13; Gen.50:20.
Who says God is not willing nor able in His discreet and judicious timing "to SUBDUE (subject willingly) ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF"? (Phil.3:21), beginning with and including, man's own temporary rebellious will -1Cor.15:26,27; Ac.11:17; Rom.9:16; Dan.4:37b. It cannot fail to come to pass, that "thy people SHALL BE WILLING IN THE DAY OF THY POWER." Psa.110:3; 66:3; Isa.43:21. When it comes time for God to exercise the power of His will, who shall not become willing, for who can resist His will?
The scriptures strongly indicate that man was created a free moral agent in the sense that he is seemingly free as to will or first choice in volition (Ezra 7:13; 1Cor.7:37; 9:17; 2Cor.8:3,5) in any thing other than his own election by God - Jas.1:18. But, they also say, man is not entirely free in conation to the final carrying out or fulfilling of all his actions resulting from that choice (Gen.20:6-8; 2Sam.17:14; Prv.16:33; Dan.4:29-37 etc.), for God does sovereignly restrain and control both man and Satan - Ro. chptr. 9; Jb. chptr. 2; 5:12; Gen.20:6; Psa.76:10; Hos.2:6; 2Tim.2:25,26. See the principles of this also revealed in Isa.37:29; 44:25; 2Kgs.19:28; Ezk.29:4; 38:4; 39:2 etc.
Was not the king of Babylon, as was the king of Assyria (2Kgs.19:23-28) merely a useful tool or servant used to accomplish God's predestined purposes upon the earth? Jer.25:9; 27:6; 51:7; Isa.43:10. These kings in some places in the word, symbolize Satan and the powers of the fallen human mind. But nevertheless, "The kings heart is IN THE HAND (will and directing power) OF THE LORD, as the rivers of water; HE TURNETH IT (the heart, mind, soul, will etc.) WHITHERSOEVER HE WILL." Prv..21:1; Lev.26:36; 2Chr.36:22; Ezra 6:22; Jb.12:19.
We certainly are not at all left alone to be a law unto ourselves, unrestrainedly exerting our free will, though some believe this to be so - Jb.34:21-25. God forbid. We are more dependent on HIm than most realize. It is of a great truth, that only "IN HIM we live, and move, and have our being." Ac.17:28. "O the depth...of God!" Rom.11:33. Man's own will is far from being entirely independent ! Isa.41:20; Ezk.30:10.
The restrictive freedom of man's will is ever under subjection to God's will and is extremely limited in comparison. God is absolutely free to intervene at any time or in any way He so purposes and desires. The Lord saith, "IS IT NOT LAWFUL FOR ME TO DO WHAT I WILL WITH MY OWN (creation)?" (Matt.20:15); and so "HE HATH DONE WHATSOEVER HE PLEASED." Psa.115:3; 105:22; 135:6; Jb.37:12-14; Zec.1:6; Lk.1:20. "Can the axe or saw resist him that uses it?" Isa.10:15; Jer.51:19,20. Can man really resist the sovereign will of God any more than can Satan? Jb. chptrs. 1 and 2.
Man's freedom is actually nothing more than a relative state of privilege.under God''s whole dominiion. In comparison to God's majestic providential will, it is reputed as nothing - Jb.24:22. In God's all seeing eyes, "ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH ARE REPUTED AS NOTHING: and He doeth ACCORDING TO HIS WILL (and not according to man's will) IN THE ARMY OF HEAVEN AND AMONG THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH: NONE CAN STAY (stop) HIS HAND (directing influences), or say unto Him, what doest Thou?" Dan.4:34; 32-35; Isa.40:23; 45:9; 49:7. Nor can they even rightfully question, "Why hast thou made me thus?" Rom.9:20. Again, is not the answer readily seen as to "who hath resisted HIS WILL?" Ro.9:19.
If the Lord of hosts hath purposed, "Who shall disannul it?...His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" Isa.14:27; 43:13. So then, it appears to be that God at first, often allows man to freely choose in earthly matters, but whether man carries out his own choice to completion or not, depends entirely on whether God shall permit it or not - Jb.37:7; Psa.76:10; Dan.5:20;,21; Rev.11:5,6. Only "THAT THAT IS DETERMINED SHALL BE DONE." Dan.11:36.
God is divinely in, or behind every action, whether you believe His word or not. "Thou turnest man to destruction (Prv.31:8) and sayest return ye children of men." Psa.90:3. Truly, concerning salvation and restoration, "ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD." Ro.11:36; 1Cor.8:6; 11:12; 2Cor.5:18; Eph.1:11; Heb.2:10b. God's progressive will expands with the ages, and in the interim process, appears to differ from, and conflict with, His greater ultimate will and expressed goals. In the fulness of truth and time, it does not!
Turning now to the revelation of the Lord's will in individual lives, James writes, "IF THE LORD WILL, we shall live and do this or that." Jas.4:15; 1Jn.2:17. The apostle Paul proclaims, "I will return..IF GOD WILL." Ac.18:21; 1Cor.4:19. One can purpose carnally as Jonah first did (Jon.1:2), or one can choose to be led of God's Spirit no matter what the cost, as he through the divine interventions of God, did in the end (Jon.3:3)..finally "DOING THE WILL OF GOD FROM THE HEART (willingly)." Eph.6:6.
Knowing of a surety the will of God in certain personal things, Paul "purposed in the spirit (Ac.19:27) saying again, "I go bound in the spirit." Ac.20:22. See also Rom.1:10 and 15:32. God said as a statement of fact and a foregone conclusion of His servant David...He is "a man after my own heart WHICH SHALL FULFILL ALL MY WILL." Ac.13:22. It is said that David "served his own generation BY THE WILL OF GOD." Ac.13:36. Yet, the "FREEWILL offerings of his mouth" were at times, subject to being acceptable unto God - Psa.119:108; 2Chr.29:31.
There are countless ways in which the Lord can intervene in the affairs of individuals. Paul said of the "born again" Philippians concerning God's willing and God's doing..."It is God which worketh in you BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE." Phil.2:13; 2Cor.8:5; Psa.40:8. Of the Corinthians it is said, "BEYOND THEIR POWER THEY WERE WILLING OF THEMSELVES." Here we see that above and beyond man's own will power, is the working power of God that works through man. It was primarily the Lord which divinely put "earnest care into the heart of Titus" for the saints - 2Cor.8:16. God brings His own will into action when it pleases Him - Lk.2:25-32. It matters not whether one is a sinner or a saint.
It is the activated Spirit of the Lord "that confirmeth the word of His servant, and PERFORMETH THE COUNSEL OF HIS MESSENGERS." Isa.44:26. I HAVE RAISED HIM UP in righteousness, and I WILL DIRECT HIS WAYS." Isa.45:13; 61:8; Psa.48:14. "As for the upright, HE DIRECTETH HIS WAYS." Prv.21:29. Men's own desires can be actual indications and expressions of GOD WORKING HIS WILL in and through them, and this is personified in the new creation man - Eph.3:20; 1Cor.15:10; Heb.13:21; 2Cor.8:10-12. "THOU HAST WROUGHT ALL OUR WORKS IN US. " Isa.26:12; 2Cor.3:5. The Lord works covertly for us and for all others, by working in man and through man.
Man's fruitful decisions "of his own accord" (2Cor.8:17) can be divinely directed by God's working will in those that can hear "what the Spirit saith unto the church" (Matt.26:39), so "that THE WILL OF THE LORD BE DONE." Ac.21:14; Isa.30:21; Jn.5:30. God's ultimate will in any matter, whether permissive or restrictive, cannot fail in any way to be fulfilled "on earth as it is in heaven." Matt.6:10; Gen.28:15. He always retains absolute dominion and power of influence over man's motives and will - Ex.31:1-6; 35:30-35; 1Sam.14:6; 1Kngs.12:15,24. He would not be the most high God if he ever failed to do so.
Man's CHOICES are always products of his past or present influences but primarily, these influences are under the sovereign control of God. Whether God will ALLOW man's OWN CHOICE and its subsequent works to take effect at any particular point of time, depends on whether or not, God ACTIVELY WILLS at that time to influentially override and turn it for the eventual, and oft time unseen good of His creation, or for His praise - Psa.76:10; Isa.10:5-7. Several of many biblical examples of this are found in Rom.9:11-13,17,18; 1Sam.8:7 and 12:12.
Again, This applies to both believers and non believers alike. If God desires a thing, or can use if for His good purpose now, or later, HE PERMITS IT - Rom.5:12; Ac.27:24; Ac.2:23; 4:28; Gen.11:6. If not, HE DIVINELY RESTRAINS OR PREVENTS - Gen.20:6; 2Chr.10:15; Jb.5:12; Hos.2:6. It is ever His own working prerogative (Jb.33:29; 1Sam.25:26,35) to divinely intervene to pursuade, to influence, to instigate, to permit or to prevent.
Now, in order to effect, direct, influence, sway or persuade men, God may indirectly use at His own discretion, such things as man's law, law enforcement agencies, accidents, physical death, judgments (Isa.1:27; Zep.3:5; Isa.26:9) and chastisements in countless forms (Jb.36:8-10; Psa.94:10-12), as well as pain, suffering, and sickness (Jb.39:19-22), or elements of the earth such as those found in Psa.148:8; Jb.37:12,13 etc. Or, God can use divine agents such as His own spiritual laws of recompense (Heb.10:30), reaping and sowing, or even scientific laws such as found in mathematics, biology or physics.
Along with direct intervention by His Spirit (Ezk.1:1; 8:3; 11:1) and His word (Ezk.1:3), He also uses things in the paranormal and supernatural realms. He uses angels, both good and evil, and holds ultimate control over such things in humans as spirits of fear, doubt, rebellion, pride, anger and of course, many, many more - Isa.19:14; Jer.30:14. Occasionally, if restraint or "sentence against evil is not executed speedily" (Eccl.8:11; Judg.14:19), as in in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, the wages of sins wrought in their particular choice of action, brought about almost instant physical death - Ac.5:1-10.
In order to direct the soul of man in right doing, God can also use other men - Ac.14:2; Ezk.30:10; Psa.17:14; Jer.22:7; 2Sam.24:1. He can also use great signs, wonders, and miracles to move and influence him - Ac.14:3,4; 5:12-17; Heb.2:4. In the church, He uses prophets and prophecies and gifts of the Spirit - 1Cor. chptrs. 12 and 13. And without doubt, one of the greatest ways God influences and motivates man, is through the Spirit of His written word, the Bible - 2Tim.3:16; Psa.119:9. In all of this we can see, how that God is not limited any an way whatsoever in carrying out His own will and in influencing man's own will.
Believe it or not, God's providence and intimate sovereign control is absolute and universal in scope (Jb.3:7; Psa.94; Psa.107; Psa.147), even to the extent of man's delusions - 2Ths.1:11; Isa.66:4; Jer.6:19. This is notably evident in the church's delusion --- that God in any way, will work against a man's own will. The truth is, God works constantly against, and apart from, the carnal will of man - Rom.8:6-8; Mic.5:7. God has ensured, that every goal He has set, shall only be reached through the results of His means, lest any man should boast. All power and glory and honor belongs to Him alone.
"THERE IS NO WISDOM NOR UNDERSTANDING NOR COUNSEL (carnal purpose in heaven or earth that can stand on its own) AGAINST THE LORD." Prv.21:30. In the eternal sense of application, "We can do nothing (of ourselves which will endure) against the truth." 2Cor.13:8. "FOR THERE IS NO POWER BUT OF GOD. "Rom.13:1. Nothing can happen outside of the power of God's will. NO OTHER WILL POWER is apart from the control of the WILL OF HIS POWER and THE POWER OF HIS WILL.
Joseph had said of his evil brethren, "So now IT WAS NOT YOU THAT SENT ME HITHER, BUT GOD." Gen.45:8; Judg.14:4. Contrary to man's carnal opinions, we also read that IT IS GOD that temporarily ALLOWS BLINDNESS, HARDENS HEARTS and CAUSES MEN TO ERR. Read and study - Rom.11:7,8,32; 9:18; Jn.12:40; Lk.19:42; 24:16; Ex.4:11; 14:17; Deut.2:30; Josh.11:20; Ecccl.3:11; Psa.69:23; 106:25; Isa.6:9,10; 63:17 etc. In carrying out these operations, He sovereignly uses Satan in man as His willing and able agent - 2Cor.4:4; 2Tim.2:26.
ALL "MAN'S GOINGS ARE OF THE LORD: how can a man then understand his own way?" Prv.20:24. Obviously He cannot! Jn.13:36-38. The Lord is mysteriously leading even the blind (both saved and unsaved) in a way that they know not (Gen.21:22; Isa.42:16; 48:17),for through their choice, unknown to man, "GOD HAS PUT IN THEIR HEART TO FULFILL HIS (and not really their own-Isa.10:7) WILL." Rev.17:17; Josh.11:20; Lev.26:36; 2Chr.30:12; Prv.16:1. Believe it or not.
Speaking of Cyrus who was not an Israelite, the Lord said, "He is my shepherd, and SHALL PERFORM ALL MY PLEASURE." ISA.44:28; 2Chr.36:22,23. So once again, we clearly see that "IT IS NOT OF HIM (man) THAT WILLETH NOR OF MAN THAT RUNNETH, BUT OF GOD." Rom.9:16-26.
We see how that both the will and the action can originate from God. Jeremiah's life was clearly ordered of the Lord (Jer.1:5) as was Paul"s - Gal.1:15. See also Isa.46:3,4; 49:1,5; Psa.139:13-16. Jeremiah said, "I know that THE WAY OF A MAN IS NOT IN HIMSELF: IT IS NOT IN MAN THAT WALKETH TO DIRECT HIS OWN STEPS" (JER.20:23), FOR THE ULTIMATE "STEPS OF A MAN (the word "righteous" is correctly not in some manuscripts) ARE ORDERED OF THE LORD." Psa.37:23; Jb.14:16; Isa.42:16.
Left to itself, "a man's heart deviseth his (own) way (either good or evil, right or wrong): BUT THE LORD DIRECTETH HIS STEPS." Prv.16:9; Isa.37:29; 44:25; Rev.3:9. "I girded thee though thou hast not known me." (Isa.45:5; Lk.24:15, 16, 31,45) indicates a divine esoteric presence in intervention and support.
Often, "the lot (choice) is cast into the lap (base, center, heart, even the will of man), BUT THE WHOLE DISPOSING THEREOF IS OF THE LORD." Prv.16:33. Ultimately, the lot causeth contentions to cease (Prv.18:18), and the not so mighty contentious will of man, in God's own time, will be turned in repentance, to choose to abide in the positive and progressive will of his Almighty God - Psa.66:3. Actually, even when man is resisting God's FUTURE determined will, he is marvelously fulfilling God's INTERMEDIATE INTENTIONS - Rom.9:17; 8:28. Again, we must ask, "WHO HATH RESISTED HIS WILL?" Ro.9:19; Ac.2:23; 4:28.
God's higher will and ways are constantly being wrought in, and through, all mankind - Eph.1:11; Ac.17:26; 27:24; Habk.3:6. His will is sovereign and omnipotent. It is really God who determines, controls, influences, and directs the events of history - Ex.9:5; 1Kngs.8:56; 2Chr.10:15; 11:4; 36:22; Jb.12:23; Ezk.21:26; 38:4; 39:2; Isa.10:22,23; 46:8,9; 60:21,22; Dan.2:21; 4:17,25,32; 5:25; Ac.1:7 etc.
Prophecy serves to confirm this very scriptural fact -2Ptr.1:19-21; Matt.26:54,56. It cannot be fulfilled randomly or in any way by man's free will, or how could God plan and fulfil? Gen.28:13-15. It is a divine principle, that whenever the WILL OF GOD involves negative aspects, it is for a temporary period only - Psa.33:10; Eccl.3:1-11; Jer.2:19; 29:10,11; 30:24; Habk.1:12; Dan.11:36; Matt.12:20.
All loss is temporary, though this may not seem to be so from the human point of view. Therein, God's INTERMEDIATE WILL continues unabated, working sovereignly and providentially towards His predetermined goal of totally fulfilling His ULTIMATE WILL and purposes - 1Kgs.8:56; 2Chr.30:12; Psa.103:19-22; Jer.1:12; Matt.5:18; 2Cor.1:20; Rom.11:31-32 etc.
Know this Oh son of man that "the Lord looketh from heaven and He beholdeth all the sons of men...He fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth all their works." Psa.33:14; 11:4. "The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord and HE PONDERETH (prepares) ALL HIS GOINGS" (Prv.5:21), in divine governing, all the while at the same time "beholding the good and the evil." Prv.15:3; 16:1. For now, concerning the true church, He has set before believers as the "Israel of God" (Gal.6:16), the CHOICE of walking in life or in death, blessing or cursing: therefore let us now as the church, continue in obedience, to seek out and choose the ways of obdient life, regardless of our understanding (Deut.30:19; Rev.22:17), knowing our carnal fleshly ways profit us nothing in a spiritual sense - Jn.6:63; 15:5.
Though we may not understand why or how, be assured that ALL THINGS including suffering and evil, work together for good (through God's own esoteric workings) to them that love God, (and eventually even) to them who are called according to HIS PURPOSE (1Tim.1:9) in every age (Ro.8:28); called in this life, either as vessels of mercy and honour, or vessels of wrath and dishonour - Ro.9:21-23; 2Ptr.2:12; Jude 4: Jer.21:1-10; Psa.145:14-17. "Thou hast planted them....they have taken root," Jer.12:1,2.
Did not the Lord of the whole earth say, I "will be gracious TO WHOM I WILL (to) BE GRACIOUS, and WILL SHEW MERCY ON WHO I WILL (to) SHEW MERCY" Ex.33:19; Ro.9:15. It is both naturally and scripturally evident, that God Himself, in His own divine and intimate timing, continues to sovereignly negate, and thereby influence and change (1Cor.3:18; Phil.3:21) the ignorant and obstinate carnal will resident in the spirit of man (Jn.6:20:21)...especially in His merciful act of ELECTION in succoring man's initial salvation from sin - Ro.11:5-8. He also gives freely of His other spiritual gifts, often without man asking, "dividing to every man severally AS HE WILL." 1Cor.12:11.
God, not man, is both the author and the finisher of our personal salvation - Heb.12:22; Phil.1:6; Jn.4:34. Truly, "HE HATH CHOSEN US (Jn.15:16; Matt.25:14; Isa.43:10,20,21; 44:1,2; 49:7) wholly "ACCORDING TO THE GOOD PLEASURE OF HIS WILL." Eph.1:4,5. Just as HE CHOSE the original children of Israel IN SOVEREIGN CHOICE OF HIS OWN WILL AND GRACE, today it is also true of His chosen spiritual Israel. "I the Lord...have SEVERED YOU FROM OTHER PEOPLE, THAT YE SHOULD BE MINE." Lev.20:26; Ex.6:7,8; 19:5,6; 33:16; Deut.7:6-8; 14:2 etc.
These scriptures still apply to the election of the church today. Only "SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAVED" (Ac.2:47; 1Sam.14:6; Ro.12:3), then, and now, are saved. They are redeemed according to God's own will and order of calling - Isa.49:8; 1Cor.15:23a. "BUT NOW HATH GOD SET the members of EVERY ONE OF THEM IN THE BODY, AS IT HATH PLEASED HIM." 1Cor.12:18; Heb.2:13.
These "ecclesia" are, apart from human requirement and conditions, freely given the necessary power of will and faith to trust and believe in Him, in order that "whosoever believeth in Him" (Jn.3:16) become no longer perishing creatures---but rather, only because of UNSOLICITED providential grace and mercy, become new born sons of God. "Therefore hath He mercy on WHOM HE WILL HAVE MERCY." Ro.9:18. Man is born spiritually, entirely by the supernatural intervention of THE WILL OF GOD, and this birth is "NOT OF BLOOD, NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF (the will of) GOD." Jn.1:12,13; Gal.1:1; Matt.16:15-17; Ro.9:16; Jas.1:18 etc.
These also are they "WHOSE HEART THE LORD OPENED" (Ac.16:14; Jer.24:7) to begin to attend unto the things of God - Psa.10:17. It is HE ONLY that CAUSES life and breath in both the natural and spiritual body - Ezk.37:5; Jer.30:21; Heb.10:16. Man's spirit is given true eternal life and understanding of righteousness ONLY BY THE "INSPIRATION OF THE ALMIGHTY." Jb.32:8; 1Cor.2:11- 14. Only He can waken our ear to hear as the learned - Isa.50:4,5; Jn.6:45; 5:25. Therefore, no man can confess that Jesus is Lord "BUT BY THE HOLY GHOST." 1Cor.12:3; 2Cor.4:13; Ro.10:9, 10. Only THE LORD CAN CAUSE thee to hear - Jer.18:2; Deut.4:10,36; 1Sam. chptr. 3; Jn.18:37. HE INITIATES the acceptance in giving us the divine understanding of it - Lk.24:45; Isa.6:9,10; Eph.1:17,18; 1Cor.2:12.
Surely we are called by God on the basis of CHOICE, nevertheless, overwhelming evidence in scripture, indicates it is BY GOD'S CHOICE ENTIRELY - Ac.15:7; Ro.9:11; 1Cor.1:26-30; Isa.49:7,8. Man does not have any power in, or over his own flesh, to choose, in either the natural (Eccl.8:18) or spiritual process of life or death - Jn.17:2,3. It is only "THE GOODNESS OF GOD THAT LEADETH THEE TO REPENTANCE." Rom.2:4; Jas.1:17. He initiates life and He gives it. One cannot possibly have the desired saving gift of faith from Christ until AFTER that God Himself has experientially in His mercy, "shed abroad" (Rom.5:5) the enlightened knowledge of His saving love through our heart and soul, and carried out all the releasing transactions of the Spirit in the individual "by the (initial) washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." Tit.3:5; Ac.1:8; Prv.3:20.
The love and grace of God's gift of salvation is initially revealed and UNCONDITIONALLY "given to us", not because we of ourselves chose to love God, but because He chose to love us (1Jn.4:10) and supernaturally reveal it to us as truth. Not so much for our sake but for His - Isa.48:9; Psa.106:8. We can love Him then, because we are graciously given of Him, to know that He first loved us - 1Jn.4:19. Because of the unconditional love of God, Christ finally came into the world, died, and rose again, in order that all who were to be born of this truth, could hear His voice (Jn.18:37) and be enabled to speak His words (Isa.59:21) of living truth.
His voice of truth penetrates, according to His divine ongoing will and direction (Jb.37:3), even the silent will of the carnal mind---not only through His written word but also His spoken word - Ro.10:8,14. For the preaching of the gospel is the instrument of God's power unto salvation to every one that is believing - Ro.1:16 Grk. Hence, the necessity of world evangelism - Mk.16:15.
Therefore this truth we present, does not in any way do away with the necessity of the human methods of dispensing the gospel as some would contend - 1Cor.3:5-9. But, no doubt about it, God does have absolute control over the extent of success to which His word reaches and changes others, even to the extent of having power over what the word means to each individual - Isa.29:14; Matt.13:11; 19:11.
When one is CALLED OF GOD there is a CHOICE. However, this CHOICE is not based nor activated at all on any condition of man's works or willful acts which originates from within himself. Rather, it is based on God's own active calling, choice and immediate will - Jn.6:29; Matt.19:12a; 25:14; Mk.3:13; Jer.1:5; Isa.49:1,5; 43:20,21 etc.
In type to personal salvation, did Mary really have any CHOICE in conceiving or birthing the Christ child? Matt.1:18-25; Lk.1:35. Not according to scripture. Neither do we in our supernatural spiritual birth. Were Jacob and Esau truly absolute free agents in their choice? No! It was clearly God's choice ACCORDING TO HIS WILL even before they were born..."that THE PURPOSE OF GOD ACCORDING TO ELECTION (by His calling and will power) MIGHT STAND, NOT OF (their own will or) WORKS BUT OF HIM (God) THAT CALLETH." Ro.9:11; 1Ths.1:4.
There are basic doctrinal principles that most of the church fail to fully comprehend. Only "OF HIM are ye IN CHRIST JESUS" (1Cor.1:30), having become a new creature, "and THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES" (Eph.2:8) did this come about. It is of a basic truth that "ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD" and FROM God, including the yielding of our personal will in initial salvation - 2Cor.5:5,18; Rom.11:36. We assent and surrender our will, NOT BECAUSE WE WILL IT, but rather because He in His sovereign will, predestined it and eventually brought it to light in the midst of the spiritually dead void of our formerly alienated mind and spirit - Eph.2:10-13. Unwittingly, like a new born infant, we are birthed into the family of God - 1Cor.12:18.
In appreciation, we should be "giving thanks always for all things unto God." Eph.5:20. Man's spirit must be born by the holy Spirit and of the holy Spirit, altogether from above - Jn. chpt. 3. Born exclusively OF HIS SPIRIT and OF HIS WILL, and not in any way of the human spirit or human (self) will. Our new birth and re-creation in Christ, is no more attributable to us than was our original Adamic creation. Likewise, it was far from being our self will alone, which was instrumentally involved in the original fall away from close fellowship with the Creator.
It was by reason of God Himself (Ro.8:20), that the previously innocent, ignorant, naive and unwise creation, became infected and damaged by the disobedient exercising of free will contrary to a given law and command of God. This resulted in an original sin called pride. It was actually God devised and designed circumstances which affected human free will, aand separated man from his originally dependant relationship to God's will. And so it continues today - Ro.5:12-14.
Human free will was relegated by God to a lower realm of negativity, wherein abides independence, death and all matter and manner of evil. As we have stated at the beginning of this study, a Bible term for this state of independence from God is "SELF WILL" - Gen.49:6; Tit.1:7; 2Ptr.2:10. Thankfully, the absolute power of God's pure and holy sovereign will remains the same in its determination and working, from its inception until now.
How could the working of this independent, fallible corruptible, negative will of man, which of itself, can produce only dead works, ever be used as a necessary requirement of God to secure one's personal salvation? The truth is, it cannot! Any working or exercising of free will in the form of faith by unregenerate man, is in God's eyes, no more than self-willed works. God's election is entirely "OF GRACE" (Ro.11:5) & the necessary faith is FROM and "OF JESUS CHRIST" that we might be justified - Gal.2:16; Ro.3:22; Phil.3:9; Hab.2:4. If it's truly of grace, then it does not include any of man's mental or physical works. It must be all of God's work and none of man's - Ro.11:6.
Scripturally, we can receive initial salvation and justification only by the working of God in His gifts. Anything of self is totally unacceptable (Jb.14:4), including human faith and the personal power of will which originates from man himself. Unregenerate faith remains totally out of union with the will of God. Only a divine personal impartation of Christ's faith, is the link through which salvation's power is given and can be received - Jn.1:12, 13. This has to be so because God alone, and not man, is in sovereign intimate control of all aspects effecting mankind's redemption - Ro.10:6,7.
Our human free will, in the rebellious separated state of death that it finds itself in under the curse (Eph.2: 13), cannot become effectual in any form of holy or righteous effort or work whatsoever, in order that it might conform to the will of God in the initial experience of salvation. God's redemptive will, through the human mediatorship of Christ Jesus and His subsequent works, is now the only form of WILL POWER that is counted able to initially save us from our sins.
Christ fulfilled the Father's will for us in His obedient life, his death, and in His resurrection. Only when one is purposely DRAWN (Jn.6:44,65; Psa.65:4; Jer.31:13) to Christ supernaturally by the Father, is the saving righteousness of God's will and the union of Christ's faith imparted freely to us in His saving grace. Again, this happens not in any way according to our ineffective, egotistical self will [for freedom of will, independent and out of union with God, is really free to serve only SELF], but is done entirely by, and according to, the workings of God's imparted and quickened will in each individual; "but every man in His own order." 1Cor.15:23. That only which comes from God alone is worthy - Jn.6:44,45.
Despite man's erroneous theology, God is not at all dependent upon the condition or requirements of human will to save man - Isa.59:1; Eph.1:12. His divine love and saving grace is entirely unconditional. "The Son quickeneth whom He will." Jn.5:21; 1Cor.12:18. Therefore, He "who is the Saviour of all men" (1Tim.4:10), assuredly "will draw all men" (Jn.12:32) and "will have all men to be saved" (1Tim.1:4), because He "is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2Ptr.2:9.
Jesus said, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me....and this is the Father's will...that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing...that every one that seeth the Son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life." Jn.6:37-40. Jesus had also said, "This is the work of God, that Ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." Jn.6:29; Phil.1:29. Once more, here we see the marvelous work of God in succoring our salvation.
Christ alone can lead man out of captivity to Satan and his own self-centered will, into the captivity of God's redemptive will. Human free will without Christ is always SELF will, and as such, is a helpless captive which could never, without the intervening will power of God, will itself unto salvation. It is bound to serve and obey only self and sin - Rom.6:16. Without the empowering action of the Spirit of God, NOTHING BEGINS - Gen.1:1.
In God's perfect timing, His redemptive will gently captivates the will of the individual, bringing that man's will into conformity, union, and agreement with the will of His saving grace. The cogent will of the Lord concerning salvation, comes wrapped as His free gifts of faith and repentance which He divinely reveals to the spirits of those He has prepared. All this is His work.
When this happens, man simply has no propensity, inclination nor motivation to resist. He no longer desires nor wills to ignore or reject, the great persuasive and enlivening influence of the Spirit of God. He chooses to accept the revelation of his salvation. This is the way that he freely obtains and receives it. The application and effects of the atonement become his experientially.
Man's free will at the initial point of his new birth is not really done away with. It is simply redirected by the greater influence and power of God's own will for him. A change takes place. Man agreeably becomes one hundred percent willing when God chooses to reveal Himself to him in the will of Christ - Isa.65:1. The Lord graciously gives man unhindered ability to experientially receive that which He wills for him. This is true grace. This is true birth. Salvation of all is assured. Who can really resist Him? Man's redemption has been fully provided for, allotted, and willed before the fall to include all mankind, even before the world began - 2Tim.1:9; Tit.1:2. He alone originates the initiative and gives the incentive in each individual's subsequent attainment of salvation - 1Cor.15:10; Ro.9:23,24.
When one has received and consequently begins to work out his salvation (Phil.2:12), the limited free will of man continues mostly unabated. On the surface, he is seemingly a free moral agent to will, but he is limited to his acts. His works, rewards, judgments, heritage, glory etc. are determined according to universally established natural and spiritual laws. A man can be judged according to works, either gaining or loosing out on certain spiritual rewards. He is free to suffer much loss, but he himself shall ever be saved; yet so by fire - 1Cor.3:12-15; Rev.2:11. If he continues to make wrong choices he can loose out on many benefits and rewards of his salvation, but it is impossible to lose the initial gift of God. [For greater understanding of this subject, see our booklet entitled "The Son Abideth Ever".]
Contrary to what we may have thought in the past, the ultimate responsibility for restitution and salvation belongs to God the great Creator and sustainer - Rom.11:32. It does not primarily rest upon the creation - Ro.9:15. "For as by one man's disobedience (the - orig.Grk.) many (incl. all except Christ-Rom.3:23) were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall (the) many (the same all) be made righteous." Rom.5:19; 1Cor.15:22.
"So ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED" - Ro.11:36; Matt.18:14; Isa.45:25. Ultimately, even "so in Christ SHALL ALL BE MADE ALIVE but EVERY MAN in his own order (rank)". 1Cor.15:22,23. This will be in the divine order that the holy Spirit grants them the gift of faith unto repentance (Ac.11:17,18; Phil.1:29) TO BE TESTIFIED BY ALL IN DUE TIME--according to the full redemptive will and purpose of God's efficacious ransom - 1Tim.2:6; Isa.46:10; 45:23.
This is prophetic fact, predetermined, foreordained, willed, divinely promised and assured by the holy word of our faithful God, who in fact, will have all men saved - 1Tim.2:4. This is true, not only because "He is the Saviour of all men" (1Tim.4:10), and not just of the firstfruits whom He now specially gives to believe, but also because of the fact that He is not willing that any should remain unrepentant so as to be unfit for the ultimate pleasure of His will - 2Ptr.3:9; Rev.4:11; Eph.1:5,9; Col.1:19,20. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for the Lord now, not only to seek, but also actually "to save that which was lost." Lk.19:10; 9:56.
The sheep don't lose their guardian shepherd. The shepherd sometimes temporarily looses the sheep. It is God who in a sense, has for a time, lost man - Lk.15:4,8,24,32; Isa.53:6. Consequently, it is He who changes man's will by conforming it to His, by and through, salvation's divine heavenly process - Ac.9:1-9; Jn.1:13; Jas.1:18. His sovereignly empowered will is composed of a surety far beyond mere desire, and far beyond just wishful hoping or thinking (Isa.46:10,11), that unto Him "every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear" (Isa.45:23) and "shall confess to God" (Ro.14:11) "that Jesus Christ is Lord (1Cor.12:3) to the glory of God the Father." Phil.2:11.
The Bible reveals that man is totally incapable of helping himself out of the unrighteous darkness of sin and death without the complete divine intervention of God - Psa. chpt. 107; 2Cor.5:18; 1Cor.12:3. Because man, by reason of God, has been subjected to vanity and imputed with stubbornness, God, who is loving and just, must also grant him mercy - Ro.11:32; 5:19. Therein, it must be mercifully and freely GIVEN UNTO US (Phil.1:29; 1Cor.1:4) to trust and believe, "THAT THROUGH THE GRACE OF GOD WE SHALL BE SAVED." Ac.15:11. This in effect, is God's divine apology.
Speaking of His now revealed chosen ones, the Lord says, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness HAVE I DRAWN THEE." Jer.31:3. And He will continue to DRAW all men unto Him, wherever they may be, as a result of the efficacious redemptive purpose and power activated through His death and resurrection - Jn.12:32,33. When He calls us and draws us as individuals, He will in His divine timing, be faithful to complete the purpose of it - 1Ths.5:24; Isa.46:4. "WHOM HE CALLED, THEM HE ALSO JUSTIFIED" (Rom.8:30) for it is promised, "in the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." Isa.45:23-25.
"Blessed is the (elect) man (now) to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Rom.4:8), when at God's sovereign calling and choosing, and in God's celestial working and timing, the Holy Ghost is freely "GIVEN UNTO" him (Ro.5:5; Matt.13:11-17; 2Cor.5:18); given unto "even AS MANY AS...OUR GOD SHALL CALL." Ac.2:39; 1Cor.1:2,9; Rev.17:14. "Who of us "hath directed the Spirit of the Lord" or effectively told Him what, how, where, or when to do it? Isa.40:13-31. Unless HE DRAW US, how can we come and follow? S.S.1:4; Deut.30:4-6.
Unregenerate man can CHOOSE of himself for his appointed time, only that which lies in darkness in the will of the flesh (Isa. chpt. 59; Eph.2:2,3), until the Almighty OF HIS CHOOSING (Ac.15:7) visits him and grants him repentance unto life and light - 2Tim.2:25; Ac.5:31. Nationally and individually (Isa.65:1), God did visit and pour out His Spirit upon certain Gentiles "to take out of them a people for His name" (Ac.15:14), "that the residue (remainder) of men might seek after the Lord...WHO DOETH ALL THESE THINGS." Ac.15:17.
The Lord has His own acceptable and due times (Tit.1:3) when He is ready to intervene and grant newness of life to each individual - Eph.1:5,6; Ac.2:47; Isa.38:20. "Now" is merely "a" time period of salvation (2Cor.6:2-Grk.) in every age - Isa.49:8. As with Paul, there is a time "WHEN IT PLEASED GOD" to individually call us in His great grace and reveal His Son in us - Gal.1:15. Paul was chiefest of sinners, yet God's ENABLING mercy and grace counted him faithful, whereby he undeservedly OBTAINED MERCY in spite of his great religious ignorance and unbelief - Isa.65:1.
Paul is made a pattern of salvation and longsuffering hereafter, which God "HATH ENABLED" to OBTAIN MERCY (1Tim.1:12-16; 1Cor.7:25), even to all "them WHICH HAVE OBTAINED" (been allotted, determined beforehand to receive) a gift of faith of equal privilege totally through THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD - 2Ptr.1:1. Paul was a good example of those who can be saved regardless of their self righteousness and their determined will to resist and fight against God - Gal.1:1; 1Cor.1:1; Ac.22:14; Lk.3:8; 1Cor.9:17.
As with the wind, we ourselves cannot perceive or control the moment or point at which God's holy Spirit will come unto us - Jn.3:8. Contrary to popular belief, God is far from being finished with mankind at the end of this current age (Psa.33:11; 100:5; 103:17; Rev.14:6), "for HE HAS (aforetime) SHUT UP ALL MEN TOGETHER IN UNBELIEF that He might HAVE MERCY UPON ALL." Ro.11:32; 5:19. Here the scripture is describing not only Israel but also all in the Adamic curse of alienation and unbelief.
Presently, God is working as unhindered and unimpeded as always, "TO MAKE ALL MEN SEE what is the fellowship of the mystery...according to the eternal purpose (His will and plan for the ages) which He purposed In Christ Jesus our Lord." Eph.3:10,11. Therefore, the scripture says of God's work, "Blessed is the man WHOM THOU CHOOSEST AND CAUSEST TO APPROACH UNTO THEE." Psa.65:4; Num.16:15; Deut.12:11; Jer.30:21; Mk.3:13; Isa.42:16. The old proverbial saying, that "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink", does not hold true at all because of the supreme sovereignty inherent in God's determined will.
"YE HAVE NOT CHOSEN ME BUT I HAVE CHOSEN YOU AND ORDAINED YOU" (Jn.15:16,19), even "PREDESTINED" (Eph.1:4,5) us "to obtain salvation" (1Ths.5:9) and "eternal redemption" (Heb.9:12), solely according to HIS "ELECTION". Ro.9:11; 11:5-7, 28; 1Ptr.1:2; 2:4. Therein we find also, many believers that are called, but few dedicated disciples that are chosen in each age - Matt.20:16.
Man's divine calling and election rests entirely within the concurrent redemptive will of God for each individual (Psa.138:16; 2Tim.1:9; Eph.1:6,11; 2:10; Jn.17:2; Isa.41:8,9) and so does at least a part of His ultimate divine destiny - Ro.8:29,30; Phil.1:6. Again we ask, who can resist His will (Ro.9:19) and "His work"? Jn.4:34; 5:17. "WHEN I BEGIN, I WILL ALSO MAKE AN END" (1Sam.3:12; Phil.1:6), saith the Lord. In completing His redemptive will, God leaves nothing to chance.
Is all this implying that at a given point of time, some men could not, or would not be saved even if they so desired. Not at all. If they desired to obtain personal salvation, then it is only because God has called and ordained and revealed to them the need for His gracious salvation at that very time. A man would not have the desire unless the influence of the holy Spirit conveyed and imparted it to him. It is impossible for anyone to come to Christ's salvation in their own intellect or will power (Matt.6:27; Psa.39:5-8), although sometimes it may outwardly appear that they have accepted the Lord as their Saviour.
No wonder many evangelists are perplexed by the apparent falling away of so many supposed converts. The truth is, they did not really receive incipient salvation at all. This is only initially granted "unto them which are called" (Cor.1:24-28; Matt.25:14; Ac.2:39), and only in predetermined divine timing, wherein "as many as were ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED." Ac.13:48; Mk.3:13,14. No one can receive the grace of eternal life "save THEY TO WHOM IT IS GIVEN" (Matt.19:11; Jn.3:27; 6:65), even as grace was collectively given to the nation of Israel (Ex.33:16; Hos.6:1). This salvation now is wholly according "TO THE ELECTION OF GRACE. Rom.11:6.
Noah (Gen.6:8), Jacob (Gen.47:29), Joseph (Gen.39:3,4) and Moses (Ex.33:12,17) were Old Testament types and shadows declaring the principal workings of God's wondrous will in grace. He selects and elects us! We do not in any way of ourselves, choose or elect Christ as our Saviour. This must be entirely "THE WORK OF GOD" that ye believe on Christ - Jn.6:29.
"We having the same spirit of faith (a gift from God), according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken...FOR ALL THINGS ARE FOR YOUR SAKES, THAT THE ABUNDANT GRACE MIGHT THROUGH THE THANKSGIVING OF MANY, REDOUND TO THE GLORY OF GOD." 2Cor.4:13-15. If there is no faithful desire to acknowledge and serve Christ from the heart as the saving Redeemer, then His election and grace is YET to be revealed to that person. If it is not so revealed that one is for a time appointed unto further spiritual death - Jude 4; 1Ptr.2:8; 2Ptr.2:12; 1Ths.5:9; 2Cor.4:3; Jb.20:29; Prv.31:8 etc. These are the "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." Rom.9:22. This has been the lot of the majority of mankind up to now. In essence, we really have no choice in these matters but to "let Him (God) do what seemeth Him good." 1Sam.3:18; Rom.8:28.
It is very clear in the scriptures that no man can know the Father except "HE TO WHOM THE SON WILL REVEAL HIM." Lk.10:22; Matt.11:27. Yes,"THE SON QUICKENETH WHOM HE WILL" (Jn.5:21) according to THE FATHER'S WILL and not man's (Jn.6:38-40), quickened both in salvation and in resurrection (1Cor.15:23) to come.
Jesus Himself said, 'NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER BUT BY ME." Jn.14:6. Obviously, "WHOSOEVER WILL" and "TO WHOSOEVER THE SON WILL REVEAL HIM" (Matt.11:27) are only those whom God the Father gives the Son (Jn.6:37,44; 17:2,6) and WILLS to presently partake of His Son's life (Rev.22:17; Ro.10:11,13) in their lifetime on earth. All others, are yet allowed to continue in the grip of Adam's curse and death in a divinely determined consumption. These continue partaking of that which is considered filthy and unholy (Rev.22:11), until "reconciliation for iniquity" is graciously fulfilled - Dan.9:24.
"Even so then at THIS PRESENT TIME ALSO, there is a remnant ACCORDING TO THE (Father's) ELECTION OF GRACE...THE ELECTION (church, "the Israel of God" Gal.6:16) HATH OBTAINED IT, and THE REST WERE BLINDED....GOD HATH (presently) GIVEN THEM (by HIS SOVEREIGNLY WILLED CHOICE of a later calling unto redemption) the spirit of slumber." Ro.11:5-8; Ac.16:6,7; Isa.6:10.
In the past too much emphasis has been put on the will and works of man to obtain salvation. This has caused unnecessary damage and detriment to many, and brought much malignity to the church because of misguided evangelists who strive over zealously to convert the ungodly.
This is not to say there is not a need or a place for evangelism (Mk.16:15), "for how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Ro.10:14,15. But there are far too many that have very little revelation and very little leading of the Spirit of God.
If man is not ultimately responsible for choosing his own paths, even his own salvation, and the Bible clearly reveals he is not, as God Himself "APPOINTS" them (1Ths.5:9; 1Cor.4:9; Jb.14:5; Psa.31:15), then how can there be unequivocal and everlasting blame placed upon him by His Creator? Would a loving and just God who created no one or no thing in vain, have created anyone at all, knowing full well in His omniscient foreknowledge, that this person would end up in a purposeless state of annihilation or non-existence. Or even worse, be unjustly banished and forever punished, oppressed, tormented and condemned in a place apart from God's Spirit of love?
Does this sound like righteous judgment? Rather, does not "the Lord execute righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed?" Psa.103:6; Lam.3:32. However, this is not to say that man is unaccountable, and will not receive just but righteous retribution for his wrong choices and ungodly acts in the flesh, especially moral choices concerning his fellow man.
"We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things." Ro.2:2,16; 14:10; Jb.34:23-27. But our Lord taught an equitable, dispassionate, justly graded type of judgment and godly corrective punishment - Mk.12:40; Lk.10:12-14; 12:47,48,58,59. "With righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people WITH EQUITY." Psa.98:9; Ezk.18:25; Jb.8:3. "Justice and judgment are the establishment of thy throne." Psa.89:14; Jer.3:12; Psa.103:9; Deut.32:4; Jb.37:22. "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever because He delighteth in mercy." Mic.7:18.
It is absurd to think that our Almighty Gods' purpose in the salvation and restoration of ALL THINGS, can be at all controlled, changed, altered, or in any way fashioned by the relatively puny and insignificant will of His own creation. Because, after all, "WHO CAN RESIST HIS WILL?" Ro.9:19. Except for His mercy and grace, we are nothing. It seems that the so called absolute power of the human will has almost become man's own god.
When will man grasp the revelation of Job? That of God's total sovereignty; a super sovereignty whereby He can do anything and everything in the power of His will, and that no thought nor purpose of His can be hindered by man's lowly counsel - Jb.42:2; Isa.43:13. By His own unfaltering strength "SHALL NO MAN PREVAIL." 1Sam.2:9; Zec.4:6.
We are all fashioned from "clay of the same lump." Ro.9:21. "Behold, as the clay is in the Potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." Jer.18:6; Isa.45:9. Man's created will and all its finite attributes, functions, abilities, limitations and even its existence, was originally formed, planned and creatively designed by the mind of God Himself. Can the execution of man's own will, or the results of God's plans, ever in any way be outside of God's intimate governing influence and His always present omnipotent authority and dominion? Absolutely not! Never!
In actual reality of operation, man's free will is free to be positively controlled by God. Men may often practice iniquity, "because it is in the power of their hand" (Mic.2:1) to do so. But who primarily gave him this power and ability, if only for a season? Rev.6:8; 11:6; Jer.24:9,10.
Is not the will of Satan himself under the absolute control of Almighty God's authority and dominion? Jb.1:12; 2:1-6; Zec.3:12; Col.2:10; Heb.1:3. etc. Then HOW MUCH MORE SO IS THE WILL OF MAN? Jn.3:31; 17:2.
There is no autonomous, renegade power outside of God's authority - Rom.13:1. God is the directing source and center or ALL POWER (Psa.62:11; 66:7; Col.1:16-18) INCLUDING WILL POWER. ALL RELEGATED POWER is allowed and tolerated of God to mysteriously work (Ro.8:28) toward the pleasurable goals of His ultimate will (Rev.4:11; 5:12,13), towards completing His work in making mankind into His own likeness and image - Gen.1:26; Eph.1:9,10.
Isa.14:12-17 reveals that man or Satan (or both) has said in his heart attitude, and hence his own self centered doctrine of will, "I WILL EXALT MY THRONE (authoritative power of choice; will power) above the stars", above the far reaching heights of God's vast network and dominion of power and glory, even ABOVE HIS WILL. Therefore, amazingly errant as it is, it is understandable that the dominant teaching of the true church today is continually asserting the doctrine that MAN HIMSELF BEARS THE ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY OF HIS OWN EVERLASTING DESTINY. Yet, if man is now responsible in any way in the matter of executing his initial rescue in salvation, then he would have to be as innocent, naive and neutral as was Adam in the choices he could make. But alas, he is not.
It is commonly believed that the whole fallen human race of helpless mankind is now entirely responsible for CHOOSING either his own damnation or his own salvation; that he himself with his perverted ungodly SELF WILL is the master of his own ultimate fate. The reason for this erroneous belief of course, is this basic thing called "FREE WILL". Yet, these two words are nowhere used in the Bible in regards to personal salvation! Men who advocate free will in black and white terms in many senses, glorify not their God and become vain in their imaginations and reasonings - Ro.1:21. Because of the foolishness of the carnal mind, they then are not free at all to serve God in spirit and in truth.
Man's will is constantly being portrayed as greater in faculty, aptitude and power than is the will of God Himself. As we have shown, this is far from the truth. It is GOD ALONE who can effect the change of man's will in inaugural salvation.
To believe that final volition of CHOICE and WILL is left in man's lap, leads to the next stage of deception wherein God cannot, or at least will not, fulfill the pleasure and purposes of His own counsel and will. How could He, if the stronger and absolute will and its results belong to man, regardless of what God commands or desires to do? Asserting the wrong and rebellious choices common to carnal minds means then, that the Almighty is helpless to withstand or succor man in His will to save them. For regardless of what God wills, He could continually be rendered powerless to save - Isa.50:2; 59:1. He would not be an ALMIGHTY GOD.
Really now, can we as feeble mortals really forever render the will power of the Almighty's love impotent, ineffective or useless? Or, in any way, truly limited or restrict it? Isa.50:1-3. If salvation's decision was left to man, then it follow that the Almighty must have designed and willed it this way (for the whole plan of salvation is entirely His), and that would necessitate everlasting punishment of man as being the ULTIMATE WILL of a loving and truly just God.
All this cannot be true! If man's choices in anything, including salvation determined future ultimatums, then the prophetic events of God's word would be nothing more than guess work. Because he is omnipotent, we should trust in the principles of His word which states He cannot fail in one jot nor tittle, of what the Bible declares is His DETERMINED REDEMPTIVE WILL to save all men and restore His whole creation - Dan.11:36; Isa.14:24-27; 44:26; 55:1; Jer.4:28; 51:26 etc.
Truth declares, it is GOD ONLY who really runs the universe and is absolute Master of fate. Man has a mind and nature brought into existence, not by or through himself but through the will of God. This was given to him rather than chosen by him. Man is not responsible for his own birth, nor is he for his own fate at death - Ro.14:17. The responsibility of his redemption lies primarily with God. The plan of creation, salvation, and redemption of all, is God's, not man's. The Lord is responsible for its eventual outcome. We were made to be free to an extent under God, but never in any extent, to be free from God! Gen.2:27,28.
It actually dethrones and demeans God by teaching that man's will shall ever prevail, but that God's shall remain largely unsatisfied. If somehow the will assigned to man or even Satan, can be more potent than God's, then God would not be omnipotent at all. Free will denies the supremacy of our Almighty's love and power when presented in the overbalanced doctrine of fundamentalist Christianity today. It is through the creative power of "THE FAITH OF Christ" (Gal.2:16; Ro.3:22), not of man (Ro.2:8,9), in which we transcendentally affirm to God's saving grace. Grace has no spiritual boundaries nor barriers. It is purely celestial and entirely transmental in its nature.
The overall nature of all scripture rightly divided, emphatically declares the basic fundamentalist teaching in the premise of man's free will and responsibilities, to be lacking much truth. The end of the premise, leads to man being superior to God, and God becomes relegated to a mere man, limited in will and in acts. Really! Is God divided against Himself? Is His intense desire divided, apart from, or at odds against His own will? Can the rebellion of man or devil prevent or destroy the intent and actions of God's love? Is God to become, or is He perhaps already, A VICTIM TO THE WILL OF HIS OWN CREATION? Can God be dependent upon independent man in any way to effect the will of his own new birth? Nay, "God is greater than (mortal) man." Jb.33:12. Even if human pride won't admit it, it is really we who were created to depend of Him for all things, even to be subject to His outside extraneous will for our salvation.
God is the source of all spirit. Everything depends on Him! The Lord is totally independent. We are not. He is moved and motivated by no other will than His own divine intention. It is we who have been deceived of the devil into thinking we are totally independent! Our will is really far from being utterly independent, autonomous, self-reliant, self-sufficient and self-determined. The fact is, it is easily influenced, swayed and often determined by circumstances beyond one's control.
It may be true that God does not FORCE one's will, nevertheless, the Bible reveals it is not only controlled at times by direct divine coercive intervention, however subtle (such as in our response to the understanding of salvation), but also our will is directed by various limitations and by internal and external restraints which we have already touched upon. Even such things as wrong motives can lead us into bondages that we would not have originally chosen or desired!
We could not state more emphatically, that in God's process of creation, the grace of salvation is an UNCONDITIONALLY granted privilege! Yet a necessary one, if God is to be fair and just. If either initial salvation or damnation depends on the lone WILL OF SELFWILLED MAN TO CHOOSE OR REJECT, or if it depended upon fallen man in any way at all, then it would mean that only by indiscriminate CHANCE, FATE, RANDOMNESS, LUCK, INCIDENTAL GOOD FORTUNE, CIRCUMSTANCE, CONTINGENCY, a CONDITION, a POSSIBILITY or even by ACCIDENT, man could be born again. This would absolutely negate the sovereignty of God's will and God's power.
Hypothetically, if none PER CHANCE DECIDED TO CHOOSE or ACCEPT Christ as their saviour, the cross and its power would have been in vain. In fact, it would have been powerless if its power was contingent upon man. But, thanks be to God, salvation is not based at all on HUMAN CHANCE OR RANDOM FREEDOM OF CHOICE, but rather is given and received on the basis of GOD'S CHOICE (Isa.43:10), and is relegated solely according to GOD'S POWER AND WISDOM - 1Cor.1:18-31.
Man cannot begin to save himself. He cannot begin to initiate creation of his own natural life, much less his spiritual life. Like Paul and the whole of the ecclesia, "The God of our fathers has CHOSEN THEE THAT THOU SHOULDEST KNOW HIS WILL." Ac.22:14.
It is ludicrous to think that the Almighty One has to rely on His blind, spiritually deaf, deprived and depraved creation, in order to ANY WAY INITIATE or ORIGINATE their redemption. How could they do this, if, as the Bible says, they are DEAD in their sin? Eph.2:1; Ro.5:12; Matt.8:22. The effectual power of salvation, is found in the total efficacious power (will power) of God and not of man. Only God's thoughts, God's will, God's words, are not in any way limited nor bound - 2Tim.2:9.
GOD'S WILL IS PACKAGED IN HIS OMNIPOTENT POWER, and His gift of salvation is in no way determined or controlled by the will power, choices, or whims of men. The very ability to believe unto salvation, to will or choose to be saved, is a free gift transmitted FROM God - Ro.5:15,16; Eph.2:8,9. Only "BY HIM" can we believe in Him - 1Ptr.1:21.
God shall not fail to prove His manifestation of love to, and in, all creation, for who can willfully continue to resist the working of His will? Is the effective saving will of God which is inherent in His very own plan of salvation, a creative spiritual act and product of His own intentions? Or is the activity and accomplishment of salvation, a result of the intentions of man's natural mind?
It would seem the One who made man's will, certainly has a right to influence it (Ro.9:20; Jb.9:12) to be subservient to His own potentate will in any way He sees fit, thereby retaining all power and glory unto Himself in the process. Dare we disbelieve "the exceeding greatness...of HIS MIGHTY POWER?" Eph.1:9. Dare we disagree with the methods He has chosen "to make His power known"? Ro.9:22. Dare we deny His providential power in any aspect of the Almighty's divine dealings with man?
While many boldly proclaim Jesus to be King of kings and Lord of all, they insist that death is to forever continue to resist the supreme sovereign power and authority inherent in God's will. However, "the things that are seen (in the realm of death) ARE TEMPORAL." 2Cor.4:18. Death is simply the present spiritual condition that temporarily prevails in the absence of Christ's gift of new creation eternal life - Ro.6:23; 2Cor.5:17; Gen.2:17. "To be carnally minded is DEATH ; but to be spiritually minded is LIFE." Rom.8:16. In the absence of the applied power of the gift of life, THE FIRST DEATH (Gen.2:17) continues to reign over its hapless victims because of imputed sin, the primordial product of man's early disobedience - Ro.5:12-15.
So now, all things remaining apart from the life and Spirit of Christ, are unregenerate and unrighteous, and not "in Him." Eph,2:1; Ro.8:9, 10. They exist in the spiritual condition and state of existence called "death." 1Tim.5:6; Matt.8:22; Ro.7:5,6. If in the final consummation, only one of Adam's race remained separated from the Spirit of life, remaining spiritually dead in his trespass and sin, the first death and its resulting pain, sorrow, and constant travail, would still be in force.
In type unto the natural state of bodily death, the body without the Spirit (of His life) is dead - Jas.2:26; Rom.8:9,10. But thanks be to the mercy and justice of God, every body in its order appointed of God shall arise from death, divinely awakened and quickened to hear the cry of "GRACE, GRACE unto it." Zec.4:7; Jn.5:28,29; 1Cor.15:23.
Mercifully, the scriptures do not each that death shall remain forever, but rather that life was ordained to come out from death and eventually swallow up every aspect of it - Ro.11:15; 1Cor.15:36; Jn.12:24. They teach clearly that the elements of the first death shall be destroyed (1Cor.15:25-27), melted, burned up, swallowed up and dissolved (2Ptr.3:10-12) in a triumphant efficacious victory - Jn.19:30; 1Cor.15:54-56; Isa.25:8.
The glorious victory was desired, willed, planned, and purposed by God for all creation from the beginning. Consequently, His subsequent interim work is being accomplished through the finite ages, in order that every jot and tittle of His immutable word be fulfilled - Eph.1:9,10; Matt.5:18. His word teaches that it is not simply human dying that will cease, rather it is the entire state and existence of death and everything it entails, that shall pass away. "HE SETTETH AN END TO DARKNESS (and the death contained therein) and searcheth out ALL PERFECTION." Jb.28:3. Christ's death and resurrection was a total triumph over all forms of death, and over all forms of sin which presently upholds death and reigns in it - Ro.5:21. He is now in the intermediate process of spiritually sharing this victory with mankind.
Christ was the "firstborn from the dead" (Col.1:18), "the firstborn of EVERY CREATURE." Col.1:15. The ULTIMATE PURPOSE of His appearing was to "PUT AWAY sin (Heb.9:26; Rom.6:6; Jn.1:29), to "SLAY the dragon" (Isa.27:1), to DESTROY the works of the devil" (1Jn.3:8) IN US and thereby 'ABOLISH DEATH." 2Tim.1:10; Heb.2:14. Upon fulfillment of this, "there shall be NO MORE CURSE." (Rev.22:3) and hence no more sin, punishment nor any other manner of negativity associated with death.
Christ's literal, sacrificial death on the cross, paid the debt for all men's sins and alas for sin's wages which is the penalty of death - Heb.2:9; 2Cor.5:14,15,21. He overcame all aspects of the powers of death including SELF WILL, in becoming a sin offering FOR us (2 Cor.5:21), coming through and rising above the bondages of death in jubilant victory - Eph.1:20-23. The dominating power in the judgment and curse against us was experientially broken. The necessary payment to atone for mankind's sin was destined to be satisfied. Therein Christ said, "it is finished" (Jn.19:30), for the ransom in the form of redemption, atonement, acquittal, reimbursement and compensation for man was to be paid in full. Paid not to the devil, but to us, to fulfill THE WILL OF THE FATHER FOR ALL MANKIND - 1Tim.2:5,6; Ro.8:32. In a sense, it is God's apology and amends, His retribution and reparation unto man. After all, it was He who designed and instituted the negative, as well as the positive components into His creative plan of vanity and redemption.
The immediate RESULT of the ransom was forgiveness of sin - Gal.1:4. Christ gave His life and His blood "the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us (back) to God." 1Ptr.3:18; Gal.3:13. No sinner could have paid this debt - Ro.5:6-8. As a believer, you are now a "purchased possession." Eph.1:14. You have been "bought with a price" (1Cor.6:20), predestined and willed to you from the Father. An inheritance predestinated ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSE OF HIS OWN WILL." Eph.1:11. The ransom was FOR all, but its visible results yet remain to be GIVEN TO most.
Ask yourself these questions. If Christ truly died and rose again for all men, overcoming the dominion and holding power of the first death, so that man OF HIS OWN WILL cannot resist God's redemptive will when he is called, drawn, and convicted, what is there then that can prevent any man from receiving His redemption and eventually fulfilling His ultimate purpose and will? Isa.43:13; Psa.104:31; 115:3; 135:6. Does God, or can God, rely on man's assistance, to either begin or finish His work? Num.23:19. The answer is clearly, no!
If the wages of sin were ETERNAL death and to burn in hell forever, then it follows, that in order for Christ to pay that penalty price in the same way, He would have to remain ETERNALLY in that death and fiery hell. He could be the Saviour of no one! ETERNAL hell cannot be the wages of sin! Likewise, to pay the penalty or suffer the wages of death, being in the form of annihilation, He would have had to cease to exist.
Be it known, "the WAGES OF SIN IS (a reaping of the law of the first) DEATH" (which basically is...TO BE CARNALLY MINDED - Ro.8:6 - having the absence of Christ's mind and eternal life), but death and hell (a spiritual abiding place of all death) shall one day be altogether destroyed - Rev.20:14. "There shall be NO MORE DEATH." Rev.21:4. It is not eternal. English translations and man's carnal doctrines have mutilated the meanings of the original Greek and Hebrew words for "eternal", "forever", "everlasting" etc. See our booklet entitled "The Greatness Of Thy Power."
"The gift of God is eternal life (including life now as well as beyond the ages, which dispensational ages as we know them, all have an end) through Jesus Christ our Lord." Ro.6:23. Sin and death are as inseparable as the human soul and spirit. Sin is cause of death - 1Cor.15:56. Therefore, when the sting of sin vanishes, death will disappear with it. And when death vanishes, sin will disappear. All wounds will be healed. The FIRST heaven and the FIRST earth along with its death will pass away - Rev.21:1. It will be a process directed entirely by the Spirit. The universe will be cleansed under the just headship of Christ - Eph.1:10. With sin and death abolished, no longer shall corrective judgment be necessary - Dan.9:24. Charity (God who is supreme agape love) shall not fail in His purposes (1Cor.13:8) but shall bear (cover, bury) all sin and death - 1Cor.13:7; 1Ptr.4:8. Such awesome grace!
It can truly be seen of our God that "both riches (spiritual blessing) and honour come of Thee and Thou reignest over ALL: and IN THINE HAND IS POWER AND MIGHT: AND IN THINE HAND (directing power of His will) IT IS TO MAKE GREAT (naturally or spiritually), AND TO GIVE STRENGTH (natural or spiritual) UNTO ALL." 1Chr.29:12. "Thou openest THINE HAND (to release His power), and SATISFIEST THE DESIRE OF EVERY LIVING THING. The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His work" (Psa.145:16,17) in the divine process of REVERSING the power and negating the operations of the first death, through the dominion of His resurrection life in man.
There is no denying the teaching of age enduring judgment and condemnation in scripture, for "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men: (Ro.1:18), but "TO EVERYTHING (including ungodliness and unrighteousness, sin and death) THERE IS A SEASON (including a season of judgment in sin and death) under the heaven." Eccl.3:1.
There is a period of time in which the FIRST DEATH and hell reigns under the heavens, and there is a corresponding time when they shall be cast into "the lake of fire." Rev.22:14. This divine operation in the fiery presence of the heat and light of God's eternal Spirit (Heb.12:29), is THE SECOND DEATH, an active processing of "the baptism of fire," whose all consuming, cleansing, purifying, separating power of holiness, shall both cause and result, in the FINAL melting, destruction, consumption and annihilation of death itself. The operation of this SECOND death is as different from the FIRST death as the number two is from the number one. It is as different as the new (SECOND) heaven and new (SECOND) earth is from the FIRST, and as the flesh is from the Spirit.
God's judgment is a work of separating between GOOD and EVIL. His righteous chastisement and judgment can not offend His mercy and love. His justice and holiness work together in all ages in absolute perfection, both in and for, all creation (Jb.14:15; Isa.43:13), in the process of bringing of A SECOND AND FINAL DEATH TO THE CARNAL MIND. This involves dying to SELF (2Cor.4:10; 1Cor.15:31); the cessation of desire for the SELF LIFE AND WILL. The image of the FIRST man Adam's self in death, is to be conformed and transformed into the image of the SECOND and LAST Adam, Christ in life - 1Cor.15:45-54.
It is abundantly clear, that death reigns in time, not in eternity. Sin and suffering are confined to the ages. The ages were preplanned and made - Heb.11:1-3. They have as certain a beginning (1Cor.2:6,7; 2Tim.1:9; Tit.1:2) and as certain an ending (Matt.13:39,40; 24:3; 28:20) as do sin and death. And finally, "THEN COMETH THE END" (1Cor.15:24), the last age of the ages (Eph.3:21-Grk.) at a time when Christ shall have put down and ABOLISHED all other lesser rule, reign and authority of opposing and conflicting power, the rebellious SELF WILL of man Included (Dan.4:37b), through entirely abolishing the authority of hell and its alliance of death.
"I WILL RANSOM THEM from the power of the grave; I WILL RANSOM THEM FROM DEATH." Hos.13:14. This shall he do in righteous judgment. First in, then through His saints, His "ministers of reconciliation", who in Him through the workings of His mighty prevailing will, shall consume and destroy every vestige of this opposing negative power "UNTO THE END." Dan.8:26,27; 9:24.
And when all things in the universe shall be manifestly subject and willingly subdued unto Christ (Heb.2:8), including Satan, who only has the temporary "power of death" (Heb.2:14) to dispense at the present time---then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him (the Father and His all inclusive body of saints) that put all things under Him (His divine authoritative will), that GOD (the Spirit of true love) may be ALL IN ALL. This shall not just be all of God's love in some, or only much love in many, but will will be ALL of God's Spirit of life in Christ, residing in varying degrees of His fathomless glory in everybody - 1Cor.15:24-28; 40,41. There will no longer be need for authoritarian rule, for the will of all men shall be submitted one to another and to their God, in a glorious divine harmony and union of eternal and immortal Life - Jn.17:22-26.
The destiny of man is not settled nor determined by man when he is living, nor is it by his physical death, but it is determined by God alone through Jesus Christ our Lord. Without Him we could do nothing - Jn.14:6b; 15:5b. He lovingly saves us, not for our sakes alone, but most importantly for His own sake - Isa.43:25; Psa.106:8. Our salvation is totally the work of the Potter's hands - Isa.60:21; Eph.2:10. The whole Bible teaches the super sovereignty of a supreme God who is truly worthy to be praised (Psa.145:9,10) and worshiped - Psa.66:3,4.
Some would contend that this overall teaching relegates man to being merely, a robot or puppet. But this is a false assumption and an erroneous analogy to begin with. Puppets and robots are mindless, inanimate, mechanical creations, entirely devoid of a heart, will or mind of their own. They were created by man, not directly by God. As we have shown in the scripture, there is no comparison here to the attributes of man who is being created anew in the image of God - Jer.18:2-6; Rom.8:21.
The belief that the Lord will endlessly torment billions of His own creations of clay in fire and brimstone, is completely erroneous in its concept. Surely, some beings will be "tormented" (Grk...to rub on the touchstone by testing, toiling, causing distress) after a manner (in righteous judgment - Gal.6:7), and chastised (disciplined and instructed) in the time periods of the ages, but this most certainly shall not be without an appropriate end. Love does not omit. Love cannot fail.
God, who loves all men (2Cor.5:14), saint and sinner alike (Jn.3:16), shall continue to love and reconcile His enemies - Ro.5:10; Eph.2:4,5. It is written "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth" (Heb.12:6), and so He proceeds to judge (1Ptr.4:17) both saint and sinner, in different but equally righteous ways---to bring about holy obedience and the peaceable fruit of His perfect righteousness - Heb.12:10-11.
There are important questions which long to be answered in the full manifestation of truth. Is not love as strong as death? S.S.8:6. Where sin abounds, does not grace MUCH MORE abound? Ro.5:20,21; 2Cor.9:8; Prv.15:11. Time its self yet remaineth to prove the extent of the correct answer which is already so beautifully revealed by the Spirit in Romans chapters five and eight.
In summary of all that's been said, we find the whole of history stands as a witness under an ultimate divine control. The true freedom of man's will exists in a dependent relationship with both the created and the Creator. It varies in degrees of liberty according to extenuating factors. Man's will is relatively powerless compared to the providential will of Almighty God. Though he may not understand it, man is really a product of both natural and spiritual creative forces, other than himself. This does not mean, that all that happens is the result of God's DIRECT RULING, so that no room would be left for the independent action of His creatures. But rather, it does mean that He can and does, in the right of His own divine fiat, obscurely OVER-RULE man's relegated freedom, so as to ultimately make the spirit of man willingly subservient to His own predetermined plans and purposes.
The lord's saving activity, in no way undermines or negates man's confined freedom. It adds to it! God causes the wrath of man to praise Him (Psa.76:10), not by ruling it, but rather by overseeing and over-ruling it. This is the active nature of our Supreme Lord's divine reconciliatory love. The vast power resident within, is without restraint---measureless and without bounds.
It is evident in scripture that God has something to do with all that is done in this world. It Is evident also, that much takes place which is not in apparent accord with our presently limited understanding of His higher will and ways. That which is happening at present in the earth, is actually in perfect harmony and balance with his ultimate will and goal whether we can understand it or not. The process through which things must go to reach that goal, are in man's eye's only, seemingly apart from the divine providence of God.
Here, In this natural world, there are demonstrable universal laws and principles of interdeterminancy in elements of random action and events. Limited human understanding and logic can only categorize these things as accidents, coincidence, circumstances, probabilities, luck, fortune, fate, chance etc. But seen in a true biblical view with the eyes of the Spirit, these are by necessity, a part of an orderly, invisible pattern and organization of divine procedure and providence, over which God has final control. These are all things He can use as a means to a very worthwhile end.
Scripturally speaking, earthy things in the kingdoms of this world may be under the subordinate influences and directions of man and Satan (Lk.4:5,6; 1Tim.5:8; Jb.1:12), but really all the while, they remain under God's supreme regulatory principles and cosmic laws. Herein, man and Satan are primarily subject to the overall restraining methods and controls of the Most High God. For His intermediate purposes, God intentionally allows portions of His will to be temporarily withstood - Ro.11:32.
In regards to saving all men and restoring all creation, the Bible DOESN'T ANYWHERE say He is UNABLE, NOWHERE says He WON'T, NEVER says He CAN'T, and DOESN'T say He MIGHT. However, it does say, that not only is He ABLE (Phil.3:21; 2Cor.9:8; Psa.135:6), not only Has he DETERMINED TO, WANTS TO, WISHES TO, HOPES TO (Ro.8:22; 2Ptr.3:9; Jb.23:13), but also clearly says that HE WILL (Isa.46:10,11; Dan.4:35; Jn.12:32; 1Tim.2:4) and HE SHALL - Isa.46:10; Ro.8:21; Isa.45:23; 55:11; Dan.11:36; 1Cor.15:22,28 etc.
God's own inspired word reveals there is no possibility of FAILURE inherent in His own PERFECT NATURE, WILL AND WORKS - 1Cor.13:8; Isa.43:13. Regardless of man's own indifferent or rebellious will, and in spite of man's erroneous conclusions concerning FREEDOM OF WILL, God's total ultimate creative, redemptive, and reconciliatory will shall be concluded on earth as it is in heaven. "For THE LORD HATH PURPOSED AND WHO SHALL DISANNUL IT?" Isa.14:27.
Who can resist the final goal of His omnipotently determined will, whereby He shall share the fullness of His unselfish love, life, and holiness with ALL of His creation? For God hath ordained that the resurrection power of His immortal life shall overcome all the carnality of death, swallowing it up totally in the "much more" grace, life, and will of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ - Romans chapter five. Need we ask this a final time... "for WHO HATH RESISTED HIS WILL?"
"IT MAY BE THE LORD WILL WORK FOR US:
FOR THERE IS NO RESTRAINT TO THE LORD
TO SAVE BY MANY OR BY FEW." 1Sam.14:6b
"FOR IT IS GOD HIMSELF WHOSE POWER CREATES
WITHIN YOU BOTH THE DESIRE AND THE POWER TO EXECUTE
HIS GRACIOUS WILL." Phil.2:12 (Weymouth)
"AL-LE-LU-IA FOR THE LORD GOD OMNIPOTENT REIGNETH" Rev.19:6.
K. Ross McKay