WHEN Abram and Lot went their separate ways, it is
recorded that Lot lifted his eyes and saw the Jordan basin, and Lot is choosing for
his [part], all the basin of the Jordan (Gen.13:8-11). When Moses
father-in-law advised him to delegate some of his work to others, we read Moses
chose men of ability from all Israel and set them as heads over the people . . .
(Ex.18:25). When the Lord visited at the home of Mary and Martha, Mary chose the
good part in sitting at His feet and listening to His word (Luke 10:38-42). When we
choose, we choose what is presently choice to us. It is not possible for us
to do otherwise, for our choices reflect the true condition of our heart, and
manifest our character.
Moral, or volitional,
ability must be distinguished from physical ability. No one can prefer anything which is
contrary to his preference, any more than he can love what he hates. A man may well lie to
others concerning his preferences, but he can never truly choose with his lips what he
rejects in his heart.
There are all manner of
things we would be able to do, to carry out through the use of our bodily members,
if we were only able to choose to do them (in the sense of acting upon them), or at
least able to choose something else connected with them which would result in their being
accomplished. However, ones possession of a particular preference or ability to make
a certain choice can only exist, like everything else, as the result of its own cause, of
which it is merely a product.
A sinful will only
reflects the much deeper matter of a sinful heart. The relative foolishness (or wisdom) of
our preferences, reflects the present condition of our heart (cp Prov.4:23b;
Matt.15:18,19). Our choices are not things of chance, but the effects of their
causes. Our choices are constantly changing, and are changing in many ways, from one
moment to the next. With the exception of internal organic functions and certain
involuntary or reflex bodily movements, the rest of our actions, great and small, occur
voluntarily. That is, they reflect the choices which we have made.
We do many
voluntary acts, however, that, in themselves, we have never chosen. Instead, we
choose other things with which our deeds are connected and from which they result. Insofar
as external acts are concerned, in many cases we do them even though we have not chosen
them. We can never do a voluntary act, however, except as the product of a choice,
regardless of what our object of choice may actually be. When we decide to do
things that are undesirable in themselves, our decision is never made in favor of
such an object, but in favor of some other thing with which it is connected, something
which is desirable to us, or at least slightly preferable to all other things presently in
view or under consideration.
Any statement of actual
preference is an exhibition of truth. In any certain moment, either we have a given
preference (and consequently effect a corresponding choice and action) or we do not. We
cannot have a new preference while our old preference still exists. Nor can we make a new
choice while we still have an old preference. For the act of choosing is merely the
exercise of existing preference. One cannot prefer what is not yet preferable. Yet
when it becomes preferable it is preferred and cannot be unpreferred.
gospel today is nearly always presented as a transaction, as something quite available to
any and all who would simply of themselves do some certain thing or things, even if others
will not. Much is said of the importance of making decisions. The idea,
however, is simply that in these decisions it is man himselfnot the spirit of
Godwhich makes the difference between success and failure at present and, certainly,
between happiness and horror for eternity. Indeed, it is insisted that God will do all for
one man that He will do for another but that He will not do enough for any man to insure
even his present pleasure, wealth or health, much less his eternal life.
It is insisted that when
the lostbillions of whom either having never heard of Him or having only nominally
done sofinally come into the Saviours glorious presence, it is then that
Christ Himself will command them all forever to leave it and enter into the terrors of
everlasting burnings! Evangelism is carried on in the man-centered hope that
at least a few will be strong enough to meet the divine demands.
Few realize that No
one is recognizing the Son except the Father; neither is anyone recognizing the Father
except the Son and he to whom the Son should be intending to unveil Him
(Matt.11:27). Even in His personal ministry to Israel, the Lord plainly said to His
numerous disciples, There are some of you who are [actually] not believing. .
. . .No one can be coming to Me if it should not be given him of the Father. At
this, then, many of His disciples came away, dropping behind, and walked no longer with
Him. Jesus, then, said to the twelve, Not you also are wanting to go away!
Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we come away? Declarations of life
eonian hast Thou! And we believe and know that Thou art the Holy One of God.
Jesus answered and said to them, Do not I choose you, the twelve . . .
? (John 6:64-70). Indeed, Not you choose Me, but I choose
you (John 15:16a).
Yet again, conversely, the
Lord said to the throngs, Wherefore do you not know My speech? Seeing that you cannot
hear My word (John 8:43). This was so that the word of Isaiah the prophet,
which he said, may be being fulfilled (John 12:38a). Isaiah had prophesied long ago
that unbelief would be widespread and that the strong arm of the Lord would not be
revealed. Lord, who believes our tidings? And the arm of the Lord, to whom was it
revealed? (John 12:38b).
Our closed minds must be opened
up to understand the scriptures (cf Luke 24:45). Otherwise, we can no more grasp their
true significance than a blind man can see the brightest of objects immediately before
him. The reason for the unbelief of the Jews was that God had blinded His people: Therefore
they could not believe, seeing that Isaiah said again that He has blinded their eyes
and callouses their heart, lest they may be perceiving with their eyes, and should
be apprehending with their heart, and may be turning about, and I shall be healing them.
These things Isaiah said, seeing that he perceived His glory, and speaks concerning
Him (John 12:40,41).
If we are wise, we too
will recognize that It is the glory of Elohim to conceal a matter
(Prov.25:2a). For there is not anything hidden, except that it should be manifested,
neither did it become concealed, but that it may be coming into manifestation. If anyone
has ears to hear, let him hear! (cf Mark 4:22,23).
Only those who are called
and chosen actually choose Christ. The ecclesia (OUT-CALLED ones) of
the Thessalonians had chosen Him, and Paul could perceive (the results of) their
choice: having perceived, brethren beloved by God, your choice, for the
evangel of our God did not come to you in word only, but in power also, and
in holy spirit and in much assurance, according as you are aware (1 Thess.1:4,5).
How marvelous it is that
God has revealed His Son to us: This is My Son, the Chosen; Him be
hearing (cp Luke 9:35). No one can genuinely choose Christ who does not find
Him Choice, or to be preferred above all others. Likewise, anyone to whom Christ is
Choice, cannot but choose Him during the time in which He is deemed Choice. For example,
when it delights God to unveil (FROM-COVER) His Son in us (cf
Gal.1:15) and while He continues to do so, we choose Christ and cannot reject Him. For we
are no longer blind; we now see Him as He truly is: choice indeed. And we are
getting to know Him as well, for God has unveiled Him in us.
Many, howeverto whom
Christ, in fact, is not choiceout of selfish interests, can only choose to make a profession
of Christ. Their faith is only simulated or feigned (cp 1 Cor. 15:2).
Fleshly attempts at self-conviction do not constitute God-given faith. A decision merely
to profess Christ or to make a supposed public acceptance of Him, is a very
different thing from actually choosing and accepting Christ. No one can
accept (or take along, paralambano) Christ who has not
first chosen Him. Yet Christ can never be chosen by those from whom He is veiled.
An object must first be perceived before it can be compared and selected from a field.
Furthermore, we cannot
tell the unbeliever that if he will only do a certain thing, God will then in return give
him faith. All such claims are false. For they represent God as a Rewarder in granting
faith, as One Who has obligated Himself to meet halfway all who will fulfill
His requirements. Since salvation is a matter of grace, it cannot also be a matter of
meeting requirements. All genuine faith in Christ is graciously granted to us
Again, no one to whom
Christ is not yet choice can choose Christ. And Christ cannot be choice to anyone to whom
He has not yet been made choice. When He is made choice He becomes choice and so is
choice; or to say the same thing, He is chosen. This first act of the believer in which
Christ is consciously chosen, is merely a consequence of his new mental preference which
has been graciously granted to him by God.
THE NATURE OF VOLITION
can choose what he does not prefer. There is no such thing as an object
being choice which has not yet been chosen. A man can no more exercise volition contrary
to his understanding and disposition than a tree can bear fruit contrary to its nature:
Either make the tree ideal and its fruit ideal, or make the tree
rotten and its fruit rotten, for by its fruit the tree is known (Matt.12:33). There
is no middle ground. Progeny of vipers! How can you be speaking what is good,
being wicked? For out of the superabundance of the heart the mouth is speaking. The
good man out of his good treasure is extracting good things; and the wicked man out of his
wicked treasure is extracting wicked things (Matt.12:34,35).
From their fruits
you shall be recognizing them. Not from thorns are they culling grapes, not from star
thistles figs. Thus every good tree ideal fruit is producing, yet the rotten tree noxious
fruit is producing. A good tree cannot bear noxious fruit, neither is a
rotten tree producing ideal fruit (Matt.7:16-18). Will the Ethiopian turn his
skin, or the leopard its spots? Moreover, then, you can do good, when taught to do
Since there is therefore
no hope from within, let us look only to our God and Father, but not, craftily, to
ourselves. Our humble prayer, serious and heartfelt, should be that God
might be adapting [us] to every good work to do His will, doing in us what is well
pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be the glory for the eons of the
eons. Amen! (cp Heb.13:20, 21). It is glorious to know that we are making our
requests known to One Who is able. And so, to the One Who is able to do
superexcessively above all that we are requesting or apprehending, according to the power
that is operating in us, to Him be the glory in the ecclesia and in Christ Jesus for all
the generations of the eon of the eons! Amen! (Eph.3:20,21). Only thus can our
outlook and attitude accord with the truth. May God enable us to say from the heart and
with understanding, even as it is written, He who is boasting, in the Lord
let him be boasting (1 Cor. 1:31).
This is not at all to say
that our efforts are not essential or that there will be nothing for us to do since it is
God Who saves us from our failings. To the contrary, God graciously saves us by causing us
to work, training us that, disowning irreverence and worldly desires, we should be
living sanely and justly and devoutly in the current eon (Titus 2:11,12). But our
efforts are merely a product; they are the means through which God saves us. We
It is not a question of
our discipline and volition, but of pride and self-reliance concerning our discipline and
volition, of boasting in the flesh instead of glorying in the transforming power of God.
As long as we continue to see ourselves, in a final sense, as the key to anything, we will
remain proud, antagonistic to the grace of God in truth (Col.1:6).
It is one thing to
conceive of ourselves, in a dutiful sense and relatively speaking, as
cooperating with the Lord Jesus, as He leads us into paths of better service.
It is quite another, however, proudly to fancy ourselves to be so utterly
independent of the Supreme Deity Himself, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that even He
is at a loss to change our will or walk without our help.
Christ is the Head of the
ecclesia, and He is the Saviour of the body (Eph.5:23). He gives Himself up for its
sake that He should be hallowing it, cleansing it in the bath of the water ([that
is,] with His declaration) that He should be presenting to Himself a glorious
ecclesia, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that it may be holy and
flawless (Eph.5:25-27). He is nurturing and cherishing the members of
the ecclesia, . . . for we are members of His body (Eph.5:30). Though the
course is often arduous, slow, and disappointing, nonetheless, the entire ecclesia is
growing in the growth of God (Col.2:19). We will be made to stand, for the Lord is
able to make us stand (Rom.14: 4). And it is by the power of these words of faith,
because of their influence upon us, that we are learning to be choosing what is choice.