Part 5 Human Love And Freedom

His Achievement Are We

ALL is to God’s glory (Rom.11:36). “Now to Him 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” (Eph.3:20,21). We do not at all have and never will have any independent glory in an absolute sense. God’s creatures are constituted to manifest His glory, not to create their own.

There is nothing unseemly in the fact that God makes this present world (SYSTEM) and all that is in it (Acts 17:24). And it is certainly not unsuitable that it should be in His counsels to make all that is good, especially our love for Him. This love is still ours to possess and enjoy, though His by achievement: “For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God makes ready beforehand, that we should be walking in them” (Eph.2:10). Though God certainly has not forced us to love Him, or rather merely to pretend to do so, nonetheless, He has introduced a myriad of influences into our lives which He has wisely designed in such a way that they are certain to affect us so that we genuinely and voluntarily love our Subjector. For “the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim.1:14).

All causal synonyms are of the same basic significance. They point us to that which occurs or comes into being as the product of the agency which produces it. Effects are determined by causes. Once a cause occurs, its effect becomes necessary; it cannot, not occur. It makes no difference whether the occurrence in question is that of a nail being driven into a board or of a man being influenced to make a choice. The existence of causality is not dependent upon one’s awareness or acknowledgment of its presence.

It is only a matter of idiom when we say that an object falls to the ground “due to” the “pull” of gravity, that electrical “force” “makes” a motor operate, or that a man is “influenced” by his associates. Whenever we speak of such things as good “influences” or bad “effects,” we are making reference to the presence of causative agencies.

The verbs “influence” and “affect” are often used as figures of association in reference to causal factors which, when acting together, cause a certain event to occur. When these factors coalesce, they constitute an influence; that is, a cause is formed, and an effect results. Influences are always fully causal in nature. An influence that does not influence is not an influence. A cause which effects nothing and affects no one is not a cause.

All genuine influences produce their own effects. They make certain things necessary, even if they do not make other things necessary. The other things have their own causes.

When we ask the question, Why? we are often inquiring concerning the purpose of something that has occurred. That which has a purpose is purposed to occur—it is caused to occur for a specific purpose. It is evident that whatever occurs for a purpose takes place due to a cause, for it is absurd to conceive of a thing of chance having a purpose. Why? is frequently asked as well when seeking for an explanation, for that which will account for or reveal the particular cause of an occurrence. The word “why” always presupposes causality; it merely seeks to know the particulars involved in a certain matter. Anyone who believes in free will should never ask, Why? concerning any of life’s affairs.

In Romans 14:12, the apostle Paul says, “Each of us shall be giving account concerning himself to God.” It is foolish, however, to think of this accounting as an occasion for divine retribution upon free will sin. For if, as claimed by the advocate of free will, we are not caused to choose and act as we do, then we are certainly no more “responsible for” (able to avoid) our deeds than if we are caused to do them. Indeed, it would be impossible to give any account whatever for a free will or uncaused event, in the sense of giving an explanation for its occurrence. If we are wise, we will not dread the day when we will give an account of ourselves to God, but anticipate it, yearning to learn of His good purpose concerning all.

God’s gracious workings certainly are the greatest force, or power, in all the universe. The voluntary love and service which they produce are created just as effectively and surely as any compelled, involuntary servitude could ever be. For they are the product of God’s own counsels, channeled through His achievements in the cross of Christ, and He would not have them fail.

That which is “voluntary” is that which we volunteer to do, as contrasted with what is compulsory. We choose to do such things, actually preferring them over other activities. They are not simply the consequence of our choice of other things, but to us, they are “choice” in themselves. The fact that voluntary acts are those that we do by choice has no bearing whatever on the question of whether their presence is necessary or unnecessary, avoidable or unavoidable. That for which we volunteer is a voluntary act or a chosen course of action. Whether our preference is itself the product of a cause or a thing of chance will not have any bearing upon our having chosen it. For this will remain true in either case.

Actual self-determination would only be a rejection of divine determination. This would simply mean that man determines his own future instead of God. It would constitute polytheism instead of monotheism. But at least it would not be atheism (or chance). It would still be a deterministic concept. But if, as claimed by the advocate of genuine free will, nothing determines man—even from within himself—to choose and act as he does, then so-called “self-determination” itself would be but a thing of sheer chance, uncontrolled and uncontrollable. No one could be commended or criticized for such acts, for their presence would be due to nothing at all.

Under such a system, all instruction—whether entreaties, discipline, warnings, or incentives, would be in vain. For none of these could have any effect upon even a single person. They could affect nothing at all; there would be no advantage to their presence, and no disadvantage to their absence. Therefore, it is free will (in its actual “chance” nature), not divine determination, that would make human effort and endeavor to be useless.

We thank God for all things, including our love for Him; it is not a thing of caprice or chance, but the product of a cause. Blissfully, and actually, we “can’t help” loving Him: “We are loving God, for He first loves us” (1 John 4:19)!

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Scriptural freedom—freedom worthy of the name—is not a power of “free will.” No one can be what he is not. Neither personal maturity nor progression in the understanding of scriptural administrations brings the power of contrary choice, or, as popularly expressed, “free will independence.” The era in which any particular man may live relative to the various administrations has no bearing on this issue. For the idea known as “free will” is false in itself, and therefore cannot be true at any time or under any conditions. This is so even though many who do not understand, and yet imagine that such a power is essential to spiritual adulthood, have claimed that it is the hallmark of maturity. To the contrary, the mature believer, first of all, will recognize, and then glorify and thank, God as God, Who alone is the Subjector of all (cf Col.1:10; Rom.1:21). Certainly, he will not care to champion “free will”! In the meantime, belief in free will no doubt will continue to prevail in the lives of those who are “puffed up” by their fleshly minds (cf Col.2:19; 1 Cor.4:6,7).

Just because it is sound, sound teaching concerning God’s deity will not be tolerated, and certainly will not be widely accepted. The foolish cannot recognize its validity and wisdom, and “minors in Christ” are not able for solid food (1 Cor.3:1, 2). It takes wisdom even to recognize truth, and much grace to follow it. God alone can supply these.

No one, including God Himself, ever chooses by means of free will chance. In choosing as He does, God is subjected neither to chance nor to sinfulness. He chooses what is best, because of His own wisdom. Out of His own perfection, He is caused to choose as He does. His preferences do not exist by chance! It is certainly no dishonor upon the Deity for His choices to be caused, especially when we see that their only cause is His own perfection. Would we prefer instead for them to be due to the operation of some competing Power to whom He must be subject, or even to be a thing of actual chance and so due to nothing at all? Yet these are our only conceivable alternatives.

It is evident, therefore, that the actual notions advocated under the clever and confusing banner “free will,” namely the absence of causality and the presence of avoidability, are claims which not only fail to attend even a single created being at any time and concerning anything but are things from which no one is any further removed than the Supreme Deity, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory.

Even God cannot deny Himself (2 Tim.2:13); He is not “free” to be foolish or sinful in any way, but enjoys the “bonds” of His own righteousness, goodness, love, and gracious purpose, in which He is always constrained to do what is best and act ideally. Whatever God chooses to do is chosen because He conceives its presence to be preferable to its absence. However, God’s choices, unlike our own, are never shortsighted, or the product of sinful desires, but are the reflection of the perfection of His Being.

Scriptural freedom, of which we enjoy a small measure by the power of the holy spirit of God, is freedom from Sin, not abandonment to chance. Each of us experience this freedom even now, though in a limited way. This is reflected in the disposition and walk of all those who are truly “in Christ Jesus” (Rom.8:1-4). But we long for the day when we will enjoy its fullness. Then we will possess such, unbounded liberty that we will not be free to sin (cf Rom.8:29; cp 1 John 3:9; John 8:31-36).

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As those who were obeying from the heart the type of teaching given over to them by the apostle Paul (cf Rom.6:17), the Romans had not gotten “slavery’s spirit to fear again” (Rom.8: 15).

The foolish Galatians, however, had again become enthralled with the yoke of slavery (Gal.5:1a). They wanted to be under law (Gal.4:21). God’s message to them was “grace and peace” (cf Gal.1:3), but in their apprehensions, they had fallen out of grace (Gal.5:4b). Therefore, the apostle shouts to them, “For freedom Christ frees us! Stand firm, then, and be not again enthralled with the yoke of slavery” (Gal.5:1).

It is vital that we heed Paul’s counsel. For the power of Sin is the law (1 Cor.15:56). Those who were under law and yet not in the grace of God, were ever “in fear of death,” for through their entire life they were liable to slavery (Heb.2:15), subject to all the law’s curses at their least infraction of its precepts (cf Deut.28:15). Anyone who should be keeping the whole law, yet should be tripping in one thing, becomes liable for all (James 2:10).

Living in such an environment, rather than eliminating sin, actually leads to its increase. “At the coming of the precept Sin revives” (Rom.7:9). “Sin, getting an incentive through the precept, deludes me, and through it, kills me” (Rom.7:11). We need to be in a realm which is “apart from law,” where “Sin is dead” (Rom.7:8).

God has put us in just such a place. In His grace, He has justified us apart from law, through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus (Rom.3:21,24) and has placed us “in Christ.” Here we are safe. Our life is hid together with Christ in God (Col.3: 3).

In Romans 6:13 we are entreated to present ourselves to God as if alive from among the dead and to present our members as implements of righteousness to God. Yet if the apostle’s words following this statement were to accord with the popular beliefs of today, the passage would have to read, “You must do this, for Sin shall be lording it over you if you do not.” His inspired words, however, are just the opposite of this: “[Be heeding my words,] For Sin shall not be lording it over you, for you are not under law, but under grace” (Rom.6: 14).

The ground and strength of the apostle’s entreaty is our freedom from Sin’s lordship. Since we are “under grace” and Sin shall not be lording it over us any longer, we are free from the deleterious influence which Sin produces in us through its insistent misuse of the law of God. Law is laid down for the lawless and insubordinate (1 Tim.1:9), which, in ourselves, includes us all. But it is not laid down—even to the slightest degree—as a means toward the achievement of our righteousness. Righteousness is not out of law (cf Gal.3:21b). If righteousness is through law, consequently Christ died gratuitously (Gal.2:21).

Those who are resting on law, on man’s obedience to legal precepts, are doomed to despair. In speaking of himself and his fellow Israelites, Paul says, “We were garrisoned under law, being locked up together for the faith about to be revealed. So that the law has become our escort to Christ, that we may be justified by faith” (Gal.3:23,24). Indeed, “the scripture locks up all together under sin, that the promise out of Jesus Christ’s faith may be given to those who are believing” (Gal.3: 22). We do not seek a righteous standing before God by our obedience. instead, through the work of Christ, all God’s chosen ones find such a privileged position.

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The entire creation has been subjected to vanity, the slavery of corruption, of which the sufferings of the current era are the result. None of God’s creatures volunteered for this; all were subjected to it because of God (cf Rom.8:18-22). But He has subjected us to this experience in which we groan and travail, “in expectation that the creation itself, also [not only believers], shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom.8:21). Therefore, we are expecting what we are not observing, and are awaiting it with endurance (cf Rom.5:3-5; 8:25).

If we would be faithful, our primary desire must not be for the elimination of our miseries, but for the ability to be active in our love for God even if our trials should remain. If we would be true, it is absolutely out of the question for us to give first place to personal gratification (cf 2 Tim.3:4,8). All manner of secular schemes and “Christian” concoctions may well alleviate our pains, but only at the terrible price of imbibing their spirit and coming under their sway. They are “affording exactions rather than God’s administration which is in faith” (1 Tim.1:4).

The only wise counsel, then, “for all endurance and patience with joy” (cf Col.1:11b), is the advice which Paul gave to Timothy. It is this: “Be invigorated by the grace which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim.2:1). There is much grace for us in Christ Jesus. This grace is able to deal with our troubles and failings in the way that God intends (cf 2 Cor.12:9). It comes to us through our active and grateful mindfulness of the sacrifice of Christ in which He died for our sakes. Invigorating grace also comes to us through our believing, understanding, and rejoicing in the unbounded benefits which God will surely bring to all through Christ’s saving work.

All have been subjected to vanity, and, at the consummation, all will become subjected to God, that God may be All in all (1 Cor.15:28). It is necessary to suffer in the vain bonds of corruption in order to reveal the glory of the great God Who alone can deliver from such a fearful condition. There must be sinners if sinners would be saved. If God would be glorified as their Saviour and if they would know the unspeakable blessing of salvation from all sin and shame, they must experience a short season of evil. It is in view of such considerations that our apostle joyously declares, “I am reckoning that the sufferings of the current era do not deserve the glory about to be revealed for us” (Rom.8:18).

The obedience of Christ unto death, even the death of the cross, has only led to His exaltation. God is love (1 John 4:8b). “If He afflicts, yet He has compassion according to the abundance of His kindnesses” (Lam.3:32). He is the Saviour of all mankind (1 Tim.4:10). God highly exalts His Christ, “and graces Him with the name that is above every name [“Jesus,” Yahweh-SAVIOUR], that in the name of Jesus, every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean, and every tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God, the Father” (Phil.2:10,11). All are bound, that they might enjoy this freedom. And, all are bound to enjoy this freedom! God has given us His word on this. We long for the consummation, and await it in expectation, with joyful confidence in “the kindness and fondness for humanity of our Saviour, God” (Titus 3:4).

James Coram

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