Behold Your God




Fred T. Wright

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Chapter Seven


The Constitution of the Government of God


The full title of this chapter is “The Constitution of the Government of God As It Was Before the Entrance of Sin.” Such a study is an essential introduction to understanding God’s government as it was after the entrance of rebellion. While such an investigation is proceeding, continually keep in mind “that tradition and misinterpretation have obscured the teaching of the Bible concerning the character of God, the nature of His government, and the principles of His dealing with sin.” The Great Controversy, 492

     Every one of these traditions and misinterpretations of God have been authored by Satan. This explains why, when Christ came to the earth, the representation of God which He gave was totally opposite from that given by Satan, as it is written, “He presented to men that which was exactly contrary to the representations of the enemy in regard to the character of God, . . .” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 177.

     Therefore, if we find the truth on this question as that truth is written in the Holy Scriptures, then we find that which is exactly contrary to what is generally believed. This means we would enter into a set of wholly revised and reversed concepts of God’s government and character. At the same time, there would be the continual pressure of traditionally held theories seeking to drag the mind back to the old ways again—a pressure which must be consciously resisted in order to arrive at the pure truth.

     The whole structure of God’s government is perfection. It cannot be improved and, to it, there is not a single alternative. God’s way is not the best way—it is the only way. While other ways have been proposed and have even existed for a time, they cannot be counted as a way of life for they shortly die by their own imperfections.

     Essential in the structure of divine government is the existence of law. The necessity is there because of the provision of mighty powers without which life would be impossible, but which have in them the potential for destruction. God’s law, as we shall better learn, is a love gift from Him to His creatures, perfectly designed to save them from destruction. That law is perfect as it is written.

     “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

     “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

     “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.


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     “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

     “Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” Psalms 19:7-11.

     “Wherefore thy law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Romans 7:12.

     That perfect, holy, just, and righteous law is the very foundation of God’s government. “In the earthly temple the ark of the testimony took its name from the testimony—the Ten Commandments—which was put within it. These commandments the Lord Himself wrote with His own hand, and gave to Moses to deposit beneath the mercy-seat, above which the presence of the glory of God dwelt, between the cherubim. It is therefore evident that the ark of His testament in the heavenly temple takes its title also from the fact that therein, beneath the mercy-seat and the cherubim upon it, there is the original of the testimony of God—the Ten Commandments—of which that on earth was a copy. And as this holy law—the Ten Commandments—is but the expression in writing, a transcript, of the character of Him Who sits upon the throne, therefore it is written:—

     “’The Lord reigneth, let the people tremble,

          He sitteth upon [above] the cherubim, let the earth be moved.’

     ‘Clouds and darkness are round about Him:

          ‘Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of Thy throne:

     ‘Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of Thy throne:

               Mercy and truth go before Thy face.’ Psalms 99:1: 97:2;   89:14. Revised Version.” Ecclesiastical Empires, 571, 572, by A.T. Jones.

The law of God being, as it is, the very foundation of His throne, the nature of that law and the relationship of God to it is a very important aspect of the study both of the character and government of God. Consider then what the law is in its sublime perfection. In that consideration we will find striking differences between the character of the laws of men and those of God.

     In the statement above, A.T. Jones declared that the law of God is “the expression in writing, a transcript,” of the character of God. This truth is not merely his belief. It is found in the Word of God where it is written.—

     “His law is a transcript of His own character, and it is the standard of all character.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 315.

     “The law of God is as sacred as God Himself. It is a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, the expression of divine love and wisdom.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 52.

     “He has given in His holy law a transcript of His character.” Testimonies, 8:63.

     Here is a truth wherein lies something of the greatest importance. A transcription is the rewriting of the former in a new location. It does not


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matter whether you read the former or the latter, for the message will be the same. Therefore in reading the holy law as the transcript of God’s character, the character of God itself is being read. Inasmuch as God does what He does because of what He firstly is, then the law being what God is, is the guide to His behavior. God will do nothing which is not in His character. Therefore, He will do nothing that is contrary to the law.

     As surely as the understanding of the law will lead to a clearer understanding of God’s character, so, in turn, the better His character is understood, the greater will be the comprehension of the perfection of that law. It is impossible to separate one from the other and still remain in the truth.

     Yet there is a most serious tendency to do this. It is so natural and easy to think of the law as something that God decreed as being His wishes for our deportment, but which has little or no bearing upon His own conduct.

     We tend to think this way because of our familiarity with human law makers. Professedly, in modern democracies, the same laws made to control the behavior of the citizenry, are to be obeyed by the rulers who make them. But ever more frequently of late the cover has been lifted to reveal that this is not so in fact. It is seen that the leaders are guilty of the worst kind of crimes—bribery, deceit, theft, murders, and invasion of individual privacy. The only mistake with them is not in doing it but in being found out. Yet even when they are, they do not suffer the penalties imposed upon the man in the street for the same crimes.

     The more absolute the ruler is, the more open and obvious is this practice of making laws for the people which are not in any sense for the monarch.

     This is not so in God’s government. His law is first of all His very own character. As such, it is the revelation of the way in which He will act under all circumstances. Then He simply calls upon us to behave as He does. He is righteous in all His works. He calls upon us to be and do the same. The same law is for God as for His people.

     Therefore He says to us, “For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44.

     “But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

     “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15, 16.

     The Revised Standard Version renders this as follows: “But as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy for I am holy.’”

     “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.

     “. . . Throughout the Sermon on the Mount He [Christ] describes its fruits, and now in one sentence He points out its source and its nature: Be


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perfect as God is perfect. The law is but a transcript of the character of God, Behold in your heavenly Father a perfect manifestation of the principles which are the foundation of His government.

     “. . . He tells us to be perfect as He is, in the same manner. . . .

     “Jesus said, Be perfect as your Father is perfect. If you are the children of God you are partakers of His nature, and you cannot but be like Him. Every child lives by the life of his father. If you are God’s children, begotten by His Spirit, you live by the life of God. In Christ dwells ‘all the fullness of the Godhead bodily’ (Colossians 2:9); and the life of Jesus is made manifest ‘in our mortal flesh’ (2 Corinthians 4:11). That life in you will produce the same character and manifest the same works as it did in Him. Thus you will be in harmony with every precept of His law; for ‘the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.’ Psalm 19:7, margin. Through love ‘the righteousness of the law’ will be ‘fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ Romans 8:4” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 77, 78. Emphasis original.

     Consider carefully the message of these words and their implications.

     The law is the transcript of God’s character. He keeps that law not as something to which He is bound, but because it is the natural expression of what He is, and therefore it is not possible for Him to behave in any other way. A character which gives expression to a holy law is a holy character. God calls upon us to be holy as He is holy so that our behavior will be as His behavior is. Therefore, we are to receive His life, which is His character, which is the transcript of the law, so that the law is written on our hearts. Then that will “produce the same character and manifest the same works as it did in Him.” Thus there is to be no difference in essence or nature between the character of the Sovereign Father of the universe and the creatures whom He has created to fill that universe.

     The only difference lies in the fact that the same love, mercy, justice, goodness, power, tenderness, hatred of sin, and so on, which the true people of God have to a certain degree, God has to infinitude. This is in no sense of the word bringing God down to us but it is bringing us up to Him. He is the Father. We are the children. As such He provides us with the perfect example of how we are to live, asking of us nothing which He does not firstly do Himself.

     As we look as best we are able through the revealed word into the eternity of the past we have no difficulty in seeing that never in all the time before sin appeared, did God ever behave out of harmony with His sacred law and character. It is inconceivable to think of God acting out of harmony with some of the commandments at least, such as putting another god in His own place, setting up graven images for Himself to worship and such like. The areas where dispute in regard to God’s behavior does exist is in respect to the commandments “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not steal, and Thou shalt not bear false witness.”


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     During all the eternity of the past, we know that death never made its appearance until sin entered and brought death with it. Therefore as certainly, God never once raised His powerful arm to take the life even of the minutest organism in His vast realm. Nor did He ever act deceitfully, or retrieve by force, or steal back that which He had given to any one of His creatures.

     It may be protested that there was no necessity for the Lord to destroy the life of any creature during that time because none had rebelled against Him to incur the penalty of death. It was for this reasons, it may be argued, that the Lord never terminated life prior to the fall of angels and then of men, but, when sin did enter, a situation arose different from any which had ever existed, and this required the Lord to take decisive action to cut the sedition short and preserve the entire universe from corruption. After the fall, it is contended, the state of things, the absence of which before the festering of rebellion excluded any necessity for capital punishment, left God with no choice but to kill the insurgents.

     Such an argument is not consistent with the truths laid down earlier in this chapter. Aware as we are of the existence of these contentions about the character of God and in anticipation of their appearing in the minds of those especially who have long held to the traditional views of God’s character, we laid out those clear evidences from the Inspired Word.

     Those evidences are summed up in these words, “I am the Lord, I change not,” “The same yesterday, today and forever,” “with Whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Link with those words the truth that the law is the very expression of His character. So if the transcript of that character say “Thou shalt not kill,” then how could we possibly conceive of God taking life?

     Certainly at this point there will run through the reader’s mind the many statements, especially in the Old Testament, where it appears that God did come down and, by the direct and personal exercise of His mighty power, destroy, sometimes with great cruelty, many thousands of people. We are equally aware of these references and later we will invite you to take another look at these incidents. They will be dealt with after we have studied the constitution of God’s character as it was before the admission of the great mutiny.

     For now we wish to consider the nature of that character in the original kingdom and some of the implications of what we learn.

     The Scriptures make it forever plain that the Lord has never changed. Therefore, He has done nothing this side of the fall that He did not do before, or will do in the eternity of bliss to be reinstated in the near future.

     Therefore, it is impossible to believe the Scriptural truth that God changes not and, concurrently, hold the belief that He takes the lives of the disobedient, unless there is a willingness to be an inconsistent thinker. To recognize that God never destroyed before there was sin, and to accept the


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idea that He does destroy after its emergence, is to believe that He has changed. It is to admit that with Him, of Whom it is written that there is no variableness nor shadow of turning, there has been variation, a complete turning about. It is to believe that God respected the law in one way before iniquity arose, and then in a different and opposite way thereafter. It is to believe that when sin is finally ended, He will return to the original pattern of behavior.

Just now the reader may feel disposed to discontinue the pursuance of the arguments here because they are so contrary to what he has formerly believed. We agree that they are contrary, for they are Christ’s teachings and He came to present “to men that which was exactly contrary to the representations of the enemy in regard to the character of god . . .” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 177.

     If, in the days of Christ, men had retained a correct knowledge of God’ character, then there would have been no need for the witness so contrary to their understanding which Christ gave of His Father, and if, in the intervening time, men had retained the picture of God as given by Christ, there would have been no need for producing this volume as an effort directed to turning the minds of all back to the divine pattern.

     That which has so far been presented is only the barest beginning of the evidences to be tendered. It is important that all the evidences be considered before the conclusions herein are rejected.

     Consideration must now be given to the way in which God keeps the law. He does not do it by reining Himself up to a code of behavior which is foreign to His nature. He obeys it as a natural outworking of that which He Himself is. It is His pleasure to do righteousness and He has interest in no other course of action.

     This is the only kind of obedience God wishes to receive from His creatures—that which springs from a personal conviction that His way is the only way, and from a heart created in the image of God and as a transcript of His holy law.

     “Since the service of love can alone be acceptable to God, the allegiance of His creatures must rest upon a conviction of His justice and benevolence.” The Great Controversy, 498.

     “The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all created beings depended upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures the service of love,--homage that springs from an intelligent appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced allegiance, and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service.” ibid., 493. Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

     God recognizes that if obedience to His law has to be compelled, then He would have a form of government which was short of perfection. But He will have nothing that is anything less than the ideal. He is determined


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on this for He will be content with the provision only of the ultimate in happiness and prosperity for all His subjects. Therefore, in God’s kingdom, no force is ever employed to bring about allegiance to Him or to put down rebellion. We can be certain of this for it is plainly written that it is so.

     “God could have destroyed Satan and his sympathizers as easily as one can cast a pebble to the earth; but He did not do this. Rebellion was not to be overcome by force. Compelling power is found only under Satan’s government. The Lord’s principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used. God’s government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power.” The Desire of Ages, 759.

     “The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority.” ibid., 22.

     “Earthly kingdoms rule by the ascendancy of physical power; but from Christ’s kingdom every carnal weapon, every instrument of coercion, is banished.” The Acts of the Apostles, 12.

     “In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom.”  The Desire of Ages, 466.

     “God does not employ compulsory measures; love is the agent which He uses to expel sin from the heart.” The Mount of Blessing, 77.

     The message of these statements is very clear. They tell us that “Compelling power is found only under Satan’s government.”  If compelling power or force is exclusive to Satan and his government than it is never found under God’s government. It is foreign to Him. “The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government.” If there is one thing of which there is absolute certainly, it is that God does nothing that is contrary to His principles. Men do over and [over] again, but God never. Therefore, it needs to be fixed in mind that because the exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God and His government, under no circumstances will He use force to solve any problem.

     Certainly He never did in the eternity of the past before sin entered for clearly no situation arose to necessitate it. Perfect harmony pervaded the entire universe and not one being stepped out of line until the betrayal of God by Lucifer.

     Since the fall, men and devils have continually exercised force in their efforts to solve their problems for this is the way of Satan and men. They are fully convinced that the circumstances in which they are placed make it impossible not to use force both for survival and for achieving their ambitions.

     The words as quoted above are God’s positive assurances to us that He never resorts to the use of compelling power. What God says, is the truth,


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and His every action is consistent with that truth for, unlike sinful men and devils, He does not say one thing, and then do another. Therefore, confidence should fill every child of God, that the use of force is never to be found with God. God affirms it is so. Accordingly, let us simply and implicitly believe it to be so.

     It is a principle of faith that belief in God’s words must be maintained in the face of evidences which declare the contrary is true. Thus in the Old Testament, God’s actions seem to say that He did use compelling power to achieve His righteous ends, that He did resort to force to put down rebellion, and that He did make an example of some by crushing them with terrible punishments that were often fatal.

     The choice of belief between the declarations of God and the appearances of what God did in the human arena, is before every person. The greater proportion choose to believe what they think they see rather than what God has said. Therefore, the almost universal belief is that God does use force, that He exterminates whole nations who have utterly rejected Him, and that He relies on compelling power to put down rebellion.

     But the true child of God will believe what God said despite any evidences which at least appear to be contrary. God said that He does not use force or compelling power, so he believes that, even though he cannot rightly understand what God really did in those Old Testament incidents. He will simply admit to the challenger of his faith that he does not yet understand just what God did, nor does he have to necessarily. In the meantime, he will assure the doubting questioner that he has the plain utterances of the Word of God, so that he can be assured that, even though he cannot explain it in detail, God does not do what He appears to do. This is the way faith works. It is based on the Word of God, not on appearances. In due time such a faithful one will discover, under God’s wise tutelage, just what God actually did in each varied incident. When he does, he will find that God did not once act contrary to His principles, but only in perfect harmony with them.

     Thus each person today falls into one or the other of two categories. Either he is a believer in the Word of God or he builds his belief on the witness of sight and circumstances. It is simple to know which you are. If you believe God’s declaration that compelling power is found only under Satan’s government, that He never turns to the use of force, and never crushes to destruction those who do not serve Him, then you are a child of faith.

     Otherwise, if you believe that God did find it necessary to use force to destroy His opponents, then you are an unbeliever, because you have allowed the witness of appearances to take precedence over the witness of God’s Word.

     Without question, the witness of sight and circumstances is very powerful. When the Old Testament stories re read wherein it is reported that


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God rained fire and brimstone on the Sodomites; that He poured forth the waters of the flood until they were all drowned; and so on, it is easy and natural to believe that God was personally resorting to the weapons of force.

     But that pure faith, the faith of Jesus, which clings unswervingly to the spoken word of God, recognizes that if this is so, then God is truly inconsistent. He has spoken one thing but does another. This is the charge which Satan laid against God in heaven and which the great controversy is designed to remove. If the Lord was to act contrary to His stated principles, then He would quickly and effectively give Satan the very evidences he needed to prove the point he had sought to make up in heaven. It would have been much better for the Lord to have admitted inconsistency to Satan in the first case than to blatantly continue it where it could be openly seen by all. But, the very nature of the great controversy and the issues involved in that, demand that if the Lord is to triumph, He must be utterly consistent with Himself. He cannot say one thing and then do another. To do so, even for a single instance, would be to lose everything and give the victory to Satan and his angels.

     It has been the false interpretations of God’s behavior in the sin problem, imposed on men’s minds by Satan, which have made it appear that the Lord has been inconsistent. In verity, there has been no inconsistency whatsoever. God has been impeccably faithful to His word. What is more, when God’s actions are correctly evaluated, it will be confirmed that His ways are so perfect and infallible that He experiences no need to turn to the use of force. There has been an aptness to conclude that there is only one possible interpretation of the Old Testament incidents. What is needed is a second and more educated investigation into those happenings. This research, conducted along the lines of correct principles of Scriptural interpretation, will bring the student to conclusions which will dismiss ideas formed on the basis of what it seemed God did. It will be found that there are vital differences between what the Lord appeared to have done and what He really did. This will be undertaken later when time is given to studying the manifestation of God’s character in His dealing with the sin problem. For the present the study of His government as it was constituted before sin appeared, must be continued.

     We now need to consider a most important aspect of God’s relationship to His subjects. It is a matter closely linked to, and consistent with, the fact that any use of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government and to the purpose and nature of God’s law. Only as all three of these are studied together will it be possible to understand any one of them.

     This vital aspect is the one of freedom, one of the most precious gifts ever given by God to His subjects. A little thought will show that as surely as God has no intention of using compelling power to enforce the observance of His law, then as certainly has He set His creatures absolutely free to serve


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Him or not to serve Him. The two are consistent with and inseparable from each other. As soon as all compelling power is removed from a person, then so soon is that person given complete freedom to choose not to serve if that is his wish and desire.

     “God never compels the obedience of man. He leaves all free to choose whom they will serve.” Prophets and Kings, 511.

     “They [the angels] told Adam and Eve that God would not compel them to obey—that He had not removed from them the power to go contrary to His will; that they were moral agents, free to obey or disobey.” The Story of Redemption, 30.

     “Our first parents, though created innocent and holy, were not placed beyond the possibility of wrongdoing. God made them free moral agents, capable of appreciating the wisdom and benevolence of His character and the justice of His requirements, and with full liberty to yield or to withhold obedience.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 48.

“The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all created beings depended upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures the service of love,—homage that springs from an intelligent appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced allegiance, and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service.” The Great Controversy, 493, [and] Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

     This is not to be understood as stating that the Lord gave His creatures freedom to sin with impunity. There is a doctrine abroad which paints God as being so sweetly loving, that He will excuse and protect all sin and sinners rather than see anyone perish. That doctrine is not to be confused with the positions taken here. The sinner will die. The heavens and earth will be destroyed and the entire universe will be rendered clean from the stain of sin. But it will not be God Who wields the scourge of destruction to effect this. Rather, He will firstly have warned every created being of the terrible consequences attendant on choosing to take the path of disobedience. Then, when they do, He will expend every effort to save them from it, and only when they reject His saving effort, will He finally leave them to perish.

     Observe the relationship between rendering to God a service of love based upon an intelligent conviction of God’s justice and goodness and the granting to each of perfect and complete freedom to obey or to disobey as the individual himself shall choose. This connection is made particularly in the last statement quoted. Interestingly, the exercise of that freedom in the wrong direction immediately deprives a person of liberty, for sin is a cruel taskmaster which forces its subjects into service. It is not God Who deprives of this freedom. This is the work of sin and Satan.

     But on the positive side, only where there is complete freedom of choice is it possible for an intelligent service of love to be rendered. Just so soon as any element of compulsion such as the threat of punishment, is in-


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troduced, then to that extent will there be a service motivated by fear. God’s subjects would then obey Him because they were afraid not to.

     This, God can never accept. He knows that such a kingdom cannot be blessed with flawless happiness and fullness of joy. In His kingdom each and every subject is so intelligent on the perfection of God’s ways that his admiration and love for his Sovereign spring spontaneously, naturally, and joyously in devoted allegiance. Thus in the kingdom of God, perfectly and fully established, there is no question of the service rendered being real or feigned. It can only be genuine. Thus God will have in eternity’s coming perfection, what every earthly monarch through all time has craved—the total and loving loyalty of every one of His people. Such indeed would be a blessed kingdom in which perfect love and confidence would forever reign. Any ruler who had this, could and would walk among his people without fear. Of him it could not be said, “Uneasy lies the head which wears the crown.”

     No kingdom has ever been like this, though some have approached it. Earthly kingdoms always tend to servitude in one form or another and seek to hold the loyalty of their citizens with the threat of punishment for disobedience. No crime is considered worse than treason—disloyalty to the state.

     But Jesus came to deliver men from all this, testifying of this mission in these words, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:32, 36.

     Jesus Christ does not come to transfer the sinner from one form of bondage to another. God’s object in Christ is to restore the kingdom to its original perfection, the perfection of complete freedom to serve God. Accordingly, Jesus said that those whom the Son set free would be free indeed. Here Christ envisaged a total freedom for His children. That is the nature of God’s kingdom, the revelation of His purpose of beneficence and love toward every creature.

     A.T. Jones in  Ecclesiastical Empires, 586-588, has set forth these principles with the greatest force and clarity.

     “It may be further asked: Could not God have prevented it all, by making Lucifer and all others so that they could not sin? It is right and perfectly safe to answer, He could not! To have made creatures so that they could not sin, would have been really to make them so that they could not choose. To have no power of choice is not only to be not free to think, but to be unable to think. It is to be not intelligent, but only a mere machine. Such could not possibly be of any use to themselves or their kind, nor be of any honor, praise, or glory to Him who made them.

     “Freedom of choice is essential to intelligence. Freedom of thought is essential to freedom of choice. God has made angels and men intelligent. He has made them free to choose, and has left them perfectly free to choose. He made them free to think as they choose. God is the author of


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intelligence, of freedom of choice, and of freedom of thought. And He will forever respect that of which He is the author. He will never invade to a hair’s breadth the freedom of angel or man to choose for himself, nor to think as he chooses. And God is infinitely more honored in making intelligences free to choose such a course, and to think in such a way as to make themselves devils, than He could possibly be in making them so that they could not think nor choose, so that they would be not intelligent, but mere machines.

     “It may be yet further queried: As God made angels and men free to sin if they should choose, did He not then have to provide against this possible choice before they were made—did He not have to provide for the possibility of sin, before ever a single creature was made?—Assuredly He had to make such provision. And He did so. And this provision is an essential part of that eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, which we are now studying.

     “Let us go back to the time when there was no created thing; back to the eternal counsels of the Father and the Son. The existence of God is not a self-satisfied existence. His love is not self-love. His joy is not fulfilled in wrapping Himself within Himself, and sitting solitary and self-centered. His love is satisfied only in flowing out to those who will receive and enjoy it to the full. His joy is fulfilled only in carrying to an infinite universe full of blessed intelligences, the very fullness of eternal joy.

     “Standing then, in thought, with Him before there was a single intelligent creature created, He desires that the universe shall be full of joyful intelligences enjoying His love to the full. In order to do this they must be free to choose not to serve Him, to choose not to enjoy His love. They must be free to choose Him or themselves, life or death. And those who the second time would choose death, let them have what they have chosen. And those who would choose life,--the universe full of them,—let them enjoy to the full that which they have chosen,—even eternal life, the fullness of perfect love, and the clear delights of unalloyed joy forever.


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     “This is God, the living God, the God of love, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is fully able to do whatsoever He will, and yet ‘worketh ALL THINGS AFTER THE COUNSEL OF His own will.’ Ephesians 1:11. And this is the mystery of His will, . . . which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.’ Ephesians 1:9, 10. This is ‘the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Ephesians 3:11.”

     “The choice of self is sin, bondage, and death. The choice of Christ is righteousness, freedom, and life eternal in the realm and purpose of the eternal God.”

     Let careful contemplation be given to the thoughts expressed in this statement and the implications thereof.

     “Freedom of choice is essential to intelligence.” The proving ground of history provides evidence enough of the truth of this. It is the work of the gospel to set men free, and never was the gospel more gloriously and effectively preached than in the days of Pentecost and thereafter until the decline in the Christian Church. As the liberating influence of the truth was robbed of its power, the world was carried down into the Dark Ages. Freedom of choice was unknown, as the papal hierarchy ruled the world with an absolute despotism. Such a state of ignorance and corruption developed that the period was given the designation of the Dark Ages.

     There can be no fair argument to the effect that that condition of things was due to something other than the deprivation of the freedom of the world. Against any such argument can be marshalled evidence upon evidence to show that wherever men are despoiled of their liberties they sink into a state of ignorance and darkness. Conversely, wherever the living gospel of Jesus Christ sets men free, there is the greatest advance in knowledge and intellectual development. It was the gospel preached in the Reformation which set men free, there is the greatest advance in knowledge and intellectual development. That work had far greater impact in some areas than in others. There were those cities and countries where the dominant influence was Protestant while other remained bastions of the papacy. Those areas today where the Reformation influence was the strongest are the places where the greatest advances have been made in every form of intellectual development. In fact, the great wave of increased knowledge came directly upon the heels of the Reformation. A.T. Jones is wholly correct in his assertion that freedom of choice is essential to intelligence.

     God could never be honored or blessed by filling His kingdom with unintelligent creatures. His is a kingdom of light—not darkness. Therefore He made angels and men intelligent. He filled them with light and, in order to give that light the fullest scope for increase, He gave them as He had to do to achieve this, freedom of choice.


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     Therefore, “God is the author of intelligence, of freedom of choice, and of freedom of thought.” These are God’s gifts to His creatures which are inseparably and eternally associated with His dominion. They cannot be taken away from Him and His creatures without changing the whole nature of His character, government, and law. This God will not do, for it would make perfection imperfect, and would limit to destruction the happiness and contentment of His creatures.

     Therefore, “He will ever respect that of which He is the author. He will never invade to a hair’s breadth the freedom of angel or man to choose for himself, nor to think as he chooses.”

     This is eternally true of God. He has given that freedom and never so much as by a hair’s breadth will He ever violate the right of any of His creatures to choose the course they will pursue. This is the only way God would, and will, have it, and it is the only way which any enlightened child of God would have it too. Anything short of, or other than, this is less than perfection and therefore less than total happiness.

     This granting of freedom because it was essential to fullness of development and happiness, possesses in itself terrible danger. It is the danger that, despite the overwhelming evidences that God’s way was free from the slightest stain of imperfection and had provided all with unspeakable joy and fulfillment, some, or even all, of His subjects would choose to go to their own way, making themselves into demons of horror and destruction. But, even though God thoroughly understood the possibilities of there being a period when some or even all of His creatures would undertake a terrible experimentation with a supposed way of life other than His, He would not and did not, institute any safeguards involving the element of force. He would have nothing less for them than perfection wherein lay the unlimited possibilities of infinite development. That could not be if there was not the total freedom to serve God or to serve themselves as they themselves should choose.

     What are the implications of these points in the heavenly constitution? To what extent did this determine how God would react to any of His subjects turning away from Him and choosing another way?

     Put these two principles together again—the principle of no coercive force being used and the principle of granting absolute freedom to choose. As surely as these two things are combined in the constitution of God’s kingdom, then just so surely does God place Himself where He cannot punish those who do what He said they could do, namely, choose another master if they wished.

     This is a most difficult principle for man to understand because it is so foreign to his way of thinking. In human government there exists only lawmakers who firstly frame the legislation, then draft punishments for those who do not obey, and finally appoint enforcement machinery to administer the sentence. This is all that is known to human experience in the


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framework of human justice. Because it is so hard to divorce the mind from this concept, it is difficult to conceive of God placing Himself where He cannot personally visit penalties upon the head of the evildoer.

     Civil rulers do not grant to anyone, freedom of choice. Their mandate is “Obey, or suffer at our hands.” Those who make the law are the ones who punish the lawbreaker, but it is not so in God’s kingdom. He has spelled out the law as the expression of His own character, but it is sin and death which enslave the transgressor.

     If it is possible for the dismissal of the human concept from the mind so that the steps taken by God in putting together His empire can be viewed dispassionately and objectively, it will be seen that to totally reject the use of force, and at the same time grant to all freedom of will, is to set up a situation wherein it would not be possible to administer punishment and death in order to correct the problem. It does not matter how it may appear that during the Old Testament period, for example, the Lord did administer punishments as earthly rulers do, the fact remains that a government constituted on lines of total rejection of the use of force as a solution, while at the same time giving freedom of choice to the subjects, simply cannot punish those who do choose to go another way.  God gave them the right to make that choice and He cannot punish them for making the decision He Himself gave them the liberty to make.

     All that He can do, prior to their making the wrong choice, is to work to save them from making it by revealing the certain results of choosing the other course. It is the same work as done by the mother who solemnly warns her child of the consequences of painful burns which will certainly follow if the child touches a hot stove.

     When His subjects had entered into a course of sin, God did all He could to save them even then, if they would choose to be saved. He even went so far as to give  His own life in the Person of His Son, so that men might have a second opportunity to choose life instead of death. Man’s first choice was made from the side of righteousness and freedom which he left for bondage and death. His second choice is made from the opposite side from where he decides either to remain in bondage and under sentence of death, or to come back to the side of purity and eternal life. But the choice is just as free in the second stage as it was in the first. The one difference is that in making the second choice, man knows by experience the hurt of sin and so has first-hand evidence of the truth of God’s Word.

     If for the second time men choose to go the way without God, then He has no recourse but to leave them to that which they have chosen. Note, again the way this truth is expressed in the words of A.T. Jones. “He made all intelligences free to choose, and to think as they choose; and therefore free to sin if they choose. And at the same time, in His infinite love and eternal righteousness, He purposed to give Himself a sacrifice to redeem all who should sin; and give them even a second freedom to choose Him or


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themselves, to choose life or death. And those who the second time would choose death, let them have what they have chosen. And those who would choose life,—the universe full of them,—let them enjoy to the full that which they have chosen,—even eternal life, the fullness of perfect love, and the clear delights of unalloyed joy forever.” Ecclesiastical Empires, 588. Emphasis original.

     Therefore, “God does not stand toward the sinner as the executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejecters of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown.” The Great Controversy, 36.

     Before Lucifer arose, the sincerity of God’s gift of freedom to every creature remained untested. In those days when no one chose anything but faithful service to Him, it was a simple matter for God’s methods to work. No one even thought about the possible implications to the system.

     It was when those powerful beings stood up under Lucifer’s leadership, determined to set up a rival dominion, that the first challenge to God’s promise was raised. Satan and his followers have pressed that challenge to the utmost limits, exploring, probing and searching for some weakness whereby they might gain a foothold and topple the divine organization. God had declared that His way were perfection, not simply for the sunny, prosperous days, but for any possible circumstances from the best to the worst. Under this searching inquisition, this endless pressure, would those principles stand or would they prove to be faulty? That was the question to be decided in the great controversy. Would it be found that God had to make modifications and concessions, that He would after all be forced to acknowledge that He had gone too far in granting such complete freedom, and that He would have to withdraw it in order to rain punishments on the wrongdoer?

     The darkness in which Satan has made God’s actions appear, contends that God and His ways did not survive the test, that He had to resort to force to punish those who exercised the freedom He gave them not to serve Him, and that He was not able to tolerate the exercise of the freedom of choice which enabled angels and men to establish a competing kingdom. The devil asserts that he has already won the debate, which claim would be entirely true, if God had done what Satan charges Him with doing.

     All too readily, men in general have subscribed to Satan’s lies. This gives support to his cause. The time has come when a revised understanding of God’s actions is imperative.

     Such will be offered as this study progresses, but firstly consideration must be given to another factor—the workings of the law of God. As already stated, the rejection of force, the granting of perfect freedom of choice to all, and the nature and purpose of God’s law are three things so closely related that they must be studied in conjunction with each other for any or all of them to be adequately understood. Study has been given to the former two, so we must now consider the last.




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