09 February, 2017

John Gerstner (1914-1996) on Ezekiel 33:11



Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezek. 33:11 KJV)


(I)

[Source: Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism [Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000], pp. 143-144, 145; italics Gerstner’s]

Murray and Stonehouse insist that, though God truly desires the salvation of the reprobate, He does not decree that. Rather, He decrees the opposite. They recognize theirs as a very
 dangerous position and appeal to great mystery:

We have found [e.g., in Ezekiel 18:23, 32 and 33:11] that God himself expresses an ardent desire for the fulfillment of certain things which he has not decreed in his inscrutable counsel to come to pass. This means that there is a will to the realization of what he has not decretively willed, a pleasure towards that which he has not been pleased to decree. This is indeed mysterious, and why he has not brought to pass in the exercise of his omnipotent power and grace, what is his ardent pleasure lies hidden in the sovereign counsel of his will.

However this is not “mystery” but bald contradiction ... The question facing us here is whether God could “desire” that which He does not bring to pass. There is no question at all that He can desire certain things, and these things which He desires He possesses and enjoys in Himself eternally. Otherwise, He would not be the ever-blessed God. The Godhead desires each Person in the Godhead and enjoys each eternally. The Godhead also desires to create, and He (though He creates in time) by creating enjoys so doing eternally. Otherwise, He would be eternally bereft of a joy He presently possesses and would have increased in joy if He later possessed it—both of which notions are impossible. He would thereby have changed (which is also impossible) and would have grown in the wisdom of a new experience (which is blasphemous to imagine). If God’s very blessedness means the oneness of His desire and His experience, is not our question (whether He could desire what He does not desire) rhetorical? Not only would He otherwise be bereft of some blessedness which would reduce Him to finitude, but He would be possessed of some frustration which would not only bereave Him of some blessedness, but would manifestly destroy all blessedness. This is clearly the case because His blessedness would be mixed with infinite regret. Our God would be the ever-miserable, ever-blessed God. His torment in the eternal damnation of sinners would be as exquisite as it is everlasting. He would actually suffer infinitely more than the wicked. Indeed, He would Himself be wicked because He would have sinfully desired what His omniscience would have told Him He could never have. But why continue to torture ourselves? God, if he could be frustrated in His desires, simply would not be God.


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(II)

More to come! (DV)




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