The Character of God and the character of man

The aspect of religion that most interests and frustrates people is the ethical aspect of good and evil. The Bible is a shot through with the struggle between good and evil; so much so that it is easy to fall into the error of thinking that the main focus of the Bible is about man’s (in)humanity to man. This is not so. The main focus of the Bible is God’s character and his purposes. The Bible is clear: God will fulfil all his purposes. These purposes do not depend on man’s character but on God’s. With God’s character in mind, I present the following two excerpts:

Here is the first part of Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on Predestination and Calling.

THE GREAT BOOK OF GOD’S DECREES is fast closed against the curiosity of man. Vain man would be wise; he would break the seven seals thereof, and read the mysteries of eternity. But this cannot be; the time has not yet come when the book shall be opened, and even then the seals shall not be broken by mortal hand, but it shall be said, “The lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to open the book and break the seven seals thereof.”

Eternal Father, who shall look
Into thy secret will?
None but the Lamb shall take the book,
And open every seal.

None but he shall ever unroll that sacred record and read it to the assembled world. How then am I to know whether I am predestinated by God unto eternal life or not? It is a question in which my eternal interests are involved; am I among that unhappy number who shall be left to live in sin and reap the due reward of their iniquity; or do I belong to that goodly company, who albeit that they have sinned shall nevertheless be washed in the blood of Christ, and shall in white robes walk the golden streets of paradise? Until this question be answered my heart cannot rest, for I am intensely anxious about it. My eternal destiny infinitely more concerns me than all the affairs of time. Tell me, oh, tell me, if ye know, seers and prophets, is my name recorded in that book of life? Am I one of those who are ordained unto eternal life, or am I to be left to follow my own lusts and passions, and to destroy my own soul? Oh! man, there is an answer to thy inquiry; the book cannot be opened, but God himself hath published many a page thereof. He hath not published the page whereon the actual names of the redeemed are written; but that page of the sacred decree whereon their character (Spurgeon’s italics) is recorded is published in his Word, and shall be proclaimed to thee this day. The sacred record of God’s hand is this day published everywhere under heaven, and he that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto him. O my hearer, by thy name I know thee not, and by thy name God’s Word doth not declare thee, but by thy character thou mayest read thy name; and if thou hast been a partaker of the calling which is mentioned in the text, then mayest thou conclude beyond a doubt that thou art among the predestinated—”For whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” And if thou be called, it follows as a natural inference thou art predestinated.

Here is  Alan Kurschner’s A Fast Dose of Human Tradition! on William Lane Craig:

“Especially when it comes to human evil, that we would call sin in theological terms. That God does not will this, he does not promote it. But because of our free will, he permits it.” -William Lane Craig, August 12, 2007, Reasonable Faith, “Problem of Evil”

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” -Acts 4:27–28)

Ironically, a minute later in his radio show he cites the event of the crucifixion as a good example of an evil that God does not ordain, but instead is brought about by the actions of man’s free will. Then he indicates that God basically picks up the pieces and makes something good come out of the crucifixion. Of course, Acts 4:27-28, or any Scripture for that matter, was not brought into the discussion. Don’t you love philosophy!

The aspect of religion that most interests and frustrates people is the ethical aspect of good and evil. The Bible is a shot through with the struggle between good and evil; so much so that it is easy to fall into the error of thinking that the main focus of the Bible is about man’s (in)humanity to man. This is not so. The main focus of the Bible is God’s character and his purposes. The Bible is clear: God will fulfil all his purposes. These purposes do not depend on man’s character but on God’s. With God’s character in mind, I present the following two excerpts:

Here is the first part of Charles Spurgeon sermon on Predestination and Calling. (The italics are Spurgeon’s).

THE GREAT BOOK OF GOD’S DECREES is fast closed against the curiosity of man. Vain man would be wise; he would break the seven seals thereof, and read the mysteries of eternity. But this cannot be; the time has not yet come when the book shall be opened, and even then the seals shall not be broken by mortal hand, but it shall be said, “The lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to open the book and break the seven seals thereof.”

Eternal Father, who shall look
Into thy secret will?
None but the Lamb shall take the book,
And open every seal.


None but he shall ever unroll that sacred record and read it to the assembled world. How then am I to know whether I am predestinated by God unto eternal life or not? It is a question in which my eternal interests are involved; am I among that unhappy number who shall be left to live in sin and reap the due reward of their iniquity; or do I belong to that goodly company, who albeit that they have sinned shall nevertheless be washed in the blood of Christ, and shall in white robes walk the golden streets of paradise? Until this question be answered my heart cannot rest, for I am intensely anxious about it. My eternal destiny infinitely more concerns me than all the affairs of time. Tell me, oh, tell me, if ye know, seers and prophets, is my name recorded in that book of life? Am I one of those who are ordained unto eternal life, or am I to be left to follow my own lusts and passions, and to destroy my own soul? Oh! man, there is an answer to thy inquiry; the book cannot be opened, but God himself hath published many a page thereof. He hath not published the page whereon the actual
names of the redeemed are written; but that page of the sacred decree whereon their character is recorded is published in his Word, and shall be proclaimed to thee this day. The sacred record of God’s hand is this day published everywhere under heaven, and he that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto him. O my hearer, by thy name I know thee not, and by thy name God’s Word doth not declare thee, but by thy character thou mayest read thy name; and if thou hast been a partaker of the calling which is mentioned in the text, then mayest thou conclude beyond a doubt that thou art among the predestinated—”For whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” And if thou be called, it follows as a natural inference thou art predestinated.

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