02 November, 2006

Predestination: Codepoke Answers Everything

No, not how the omniscient God actually "does" predestination. :-)

Nor will I answer every objection to classic predestination I have heard over the past month or two on this site. I have loved those insights, and thank you all for taking the time to offer them to me. After hearing them all, I still believe that God knows whom He will save before he begins creation, but those comments have moved me nonetheless. I think my understanding of the human side of predestination is richer than it was two months ago, and I believe that I will continue to grow in that area.

So, I will "answer everything" about how Codepoke understands what God has revealed about predestination. Not quite as helpful or dramatic as untying the 1600 year knot that Augustine and Pelagius drew tight, but potentially more amusing. Certainly more possible.

This post will be all about the elephants.

Elephants were in the news this week. It seems that they have joined the short list of living things that understand what a mirror is. When an elephant sees herself in a mirror, she starts primping. The only other species to do this are apes, humans, and maybe dolphins.

When animals of all other species sees themselves in a mirror, they starts flirting or fighting, depending upon their mood and other things. Even a monkey will fail to realize that it is "monkey see/monkey do" -ing with itself. As smart as a chimp is, he will not grasp the fact that that other chimp is himself, and not "other" at all.

It takes some special wiring to "get" mirrors. Only 3 species are social enough to understand themselves in a mirror.

And a human being cannot "get" God.

When a human - any human - every human - all humans - without exception - looks at God, he sees himself.

When an elephant looks in a mirror, he gets that he is looking at himself. But if a chimp riding on the only elephant in Columbus were to look in a mirror, he could never get that he is looking at himself.

In the same way, when a man looks at a seed sprouting from the dirt, he sees his own work. When he sees the rain coming, he sees his own relief (or maybe the fruit of some offering he made to the rain gods last week.) When he looks at the stars, he sees a random universe that culminated in man! When he looks at a baby, he sees the fruit of his love, and when he looks at death, he sees an irresistible force coming after him.

No matter how hard man looks at the universe around him, he only sees himself. The universe is projecting God to him as hard as it can, but man assumes all that beauty is simply his own reflection.

Man really is more truly descended from the chimp than the elephant.

A Long Time Ago, Before Any Galaxy No Matter How Far Away

God is alone.

There is not yet a universe, nor a world, nor even a plan. There is only God, the infinite Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God, and three Persons.

They is alone, and it is good, but evidently it could be better, because They decide They is going to find a bride for the Son.

They cannot go on a search for her, because They is the only thing there is.

They decide They is going to make a bride.

From what, though? From nothing?

No. That is not the way life works. Life brings forth abundantly, kind after its kind. A bride suitable for Him would have to be kind of Their kind.

But we have a story that explains how this happens. God showed how to find kind of one's kind, when there is only one to start with.

God created everything, and then Adam. Adam was alone, and it was not good. Adam could find no help suitable to him in all the creatures God had made for his pleasure and rule, but God was only waiting to show Adam something truly amazing.

God did not "create" Eve. He "built" her according to the Hebrew. He caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep (think, "death," here, not anaesthesia.) He killed Adam, and took from His wounded side a piece of human flesh and bone. That piece of humanity God carded, spun and knit into a suitable mate for Adam. And it was good.

God did not do this because it was the only way. They did it because it was the way that gave us the most insight into Their life, insight into the plan of God. Jesus, too, was killed, and from His wounded side came a mate suitable to Him.

Back To That Faraway Time Again, Before Adam

God knows what They will do. God knows that They will take a piece of Themself and card, spin and knit that piece into a mate suitable for the Son.

But this is not a process that God will leave to chance.

Every detail of that bride will be known, planned and complete before the first Word of creation is spoken. Before God has the first inclination to create, They has seen the end from the beginning, and They knows exactly how many living cells - souls, really - will make up the body of the Son, the bride. Before the word "Let..." is spoken, the flesh and bone that will be taken from the Son and built into His bride, is marked off in Christ.

Hence, Paul says, "He has chosen us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world."

And Now To the Doctrine

I am satisfied that this understanding of the things that happened before creation paves the way for a reconciliation of predestination, the Love of God, and the caprice of man.

+ Remember the elephant and the chimp?

The only thing that makes a man able to see God, is that Jesus Christ is ingrafted into his heart. Man cannot see God, but a Christian man does. The point I dodged at the beginning of this post is that the elephant always sees himself in the mirror. The chimp always sees himself in the mirror as some other chimp, but the elephant always sees himself.

It takes no effort or training for the elephant to see himself in the mirror. The elephant sees an elephant, raises his trunk, and says, "Hey, that's me!" It's not even a conclusion for him. It's just as plain as the nose on his face (so to speak.)

Even so the Christian.

When the Christian man sees the seed sprout from the earth, he sees divine creation and providence. He sees God's provision in the rain, His immense beauty in the stars, and His incredible imagination in the intricate glory of creation. The Christian man sees God's promise in every baby, and the scar on God's heel in every death.

And he is just like that elephant. You don't need to teach the Christian man to see God. He cannot not see Him. God is everywhere, and everywhere the Christian man looks, he sees His image. Once the spiritual connection is made, the man is a new creature forever. Old things are passed away. All things are become new. All things are become true.

And to see God is to love Him.

+ So, what do I say about man's free will? About his caprice?

Caprice is God's gift to the natural man. Much like that chimp, the natural man is brilliant, fun and creative. He is a loyal friend, and an exciting competitor. But he cannot see God, no matter how clearly the divine beauty is staring him in the face.

Free will is the highest to which a natural man can attain. And in the fall, that free will was perverted. Now, his free will turns against God. It's as if the chimp learned to hate all mirrors for some indecipherable reason. Man hates God, and his free will is radically turned against him. Caprice is not evil in itself. It is just natural. But when the natural man sees the image of God, anywhere in the world, his free will is as likely to try to destroy it as to admire it.

But even if the natural man did not hate God, still he would be blind to Him.

A piece of Christ was marked off and set aside before the foundation of the world to be born in you. And when it is placed in your heart, your blindness ends. You see God in everything. You see God, and you love Him. You soon repent your sins, and turn to be given to Him forever.

And you still have caprice!

But now, your caprice is spent in delighting God. He is visible to you now, and He is beautiful, and the new man in you reaches out to love Him - of your own free will. You are able to surprise Him, and that is what love is all about. Before He rewires you, you are blind to Him. Afterward, you not only see, but you see the Most Lovely One.

Is man a piano to be played by God? Hardly! The Christian man is a living, free spirit, healed of his blindness by the mercy of God, and freed to love the Most Lovely One.

If a Christian man were made of the same stuff as a non-Christian man, then his decision would be "the thing" that mattered. If there is no difference between a man and a Christian man, then free will and God's Sovereignty must be at odds. But because a man is made a new creature in Christ, and this new creature sees God, the man is more like the elephant than the chimp. As the elephant cannot mistake the image in the mirror for someone else, so the Christian man can no longer mistake divinity for anything but God. That piece of Christ marked off an eternity ago has been placed in the man, and nothing will ever be the same.

+ And what of those who will be damned? Does God not love them?

I love Matt 5:44-48 which says in part,

But I say unto you, "Love your enemies" ... that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven for He makes His sun to rise on the evil ... and sends rain ... on the unjust ... Be therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

God loved Abraham and Abraham's children. We know that. But did God love the Edomites and the Philistines? According to this verse, yes He did. God loved them, but without ever forgetting that they were His enemies. God sent them rain and sunshine as tokens of His love. He did not starve them into submission, nor smite them with miracles, but neither did He preach them the gospel. God sent them rain and sunshine.

And this was perfect love.

To say that God loves all men in the same way is difficult in light of God's dealings with everyone not born of Abraham. God loved Abraham differently even than He loved Terah, Abraham's own father. God called Abraham, and did not call Terah. God loved Terah, and God loved all those who were not Israel, but He loved them in rain and sunshine, not in Spirit.

I have said this before, but I will repeat it here. God warned Eve, when He cursed the serpent and the ground, that He was going to greatly increase both her sorrow and her conception. I believe that God knew all those whom He had marked off, predestined, in Christ before the foundation of the world. Had there been no fall, these predestined ones would have been born on earth, but no one else. There was a fall, though, and there were curses. Due to all this, God told Eve that He Himself would increase her sorrow and her conception.

God would allow those to be born who would never be able to see Him.

Does God love everyone? Yes, but not in the same way. God loves those He knew before creation with an everlasting love. The rest He loves as enemies, and in the last day He will say to them, "Depart from Me. I never knew you."

I understand that this seems unfair to us, but God does not seem to fear appearing unfair. He allowed the entire world to suffer without the knowledge of Him, and called Abraham alone. He understands their plight, and He says that it will be better for Tyre and Sidon than for those who heard the testimony directly from His mouth and rejected Him. But, though He understands their plight, He does not change it. God did not command the Jews to begin immediately to evangelize the world as soon as He gave them the Truth of the Law. Yes, I know that God commanded the Jews to spread the Truth, but He did not show any signs of remorse that they did not go. He did not repent the millions of souls whom He allowed to die without hearing the Truth once.

God sees things differently than we do.

God loves those who can see Him. In the same way that the elephant is more social than the chimp, and so he knows when he is looking at himself; the Christian man is spiritual, and knows when he is looking at God. When we look at God - and see Him - His heart is stirred toward us.

He sees those He marked off in Christ before the foundation of the earth, and He knows that He will place that marked off bit of Christ into all of His own - everyone one of them - every time. His heart is not hard toward the others. He loves them, but not in the way that He loves those He has known from before the first Word was spoken.

Ephesians 3:9-11 says:
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

God does not capriciously and randomly select some, and pass over others. He also does not look at us, and decide to love some of us and not love others. He predestines a bride, and all of us who will be in her. Then He creates a world in which to build her. And finally, He builds His Life into each of us, so that we can be knit together into that one body.

There is a mystery that was hid in God, and now it is being revealed by the church every day. This revelation was purposed by God before He created anything, and His purpose will not be denied. It will not be deflected. It will not be distracted. It is being performed perfectly according to how Jesus Christ has executed it.

Jesus never fails.


Milly said...

Good job.

Maeghan said...

thanks for sharing your thoughts and letting us butt in as well :)

karen said...

Okay, I'm just now getting the chance to read these works of yours. Very well-written!

I'm not sure I'm on your page, though...you make a good case.
But, how would we ever assume that we are God's chosen? Can we stand and say, "I'm predestined by God to be His; you and you and you may not be." It reminds me of that horrid movie, "Little Nicky" where the street evangelist is pointing at people randomly and saying, "The Lord loves you; the Lord loves YOU....." and points at one of the characters (Nicky?) and says, "YOU ...make the Lord very nervous!!"
I don't know. I'll continue on. Just not sure I wanna be with a God that will send loving non-believers to a hell.

codepoke said...

Thank you, Karen, for taking a look at this!

But, how would we ever assume that we are God's chosen?

Why would we want to do this? I would much rather labor to know the One Who loves me. Every one who comes to Him will be saved. He will turn none away.

Just not sure I wanna be with a God that will send loving non-believers to a hell.

But what is a loving non-believer?

The whole point of the elephant thing is that the non-believer cannot see God, much less love Him. Scripture is clear that some never learn to love Him. I am just trying to understand why.

Anonymous said...

"But what is a loving non-believer?"
Someone who is a good and loving person, but might not know the Lord. I know many people like this.
"Scripture is clear that some never learn to love Him."
Yeah, why? They're predetermined to never know Him.
That's not fair... ;-)
Good thinkin' CP. ~~Karen

codepoke said...

That's not fair... ;-)

"Fair" is such a sticky word. <;-\

Your comment about loving people who don't know the Lord, combined with your outlook on the fairness thing raise questions for me about how to answer.

You might be making the argument that it is unjust for God to condemn people for a decision that He made without their input. Or you might be making the argument that it is unjust for God to condemn people who are doing the best they can given their lack of revelation.

Either way, let me answer with the story of Abraham. From among all the people on the earth, one guy was chosen. God didn't give anyone else a chance to be the father of many nations. He chose Abram and his seed. And even if Abram did something wonderful to get God's attention above all other people, the generations and generations to follow all suffered or were blessed for whom their fathers were.

Is this story unfair?