In Proposition 18, George Peters states:
“The prophecies relating to the establishment of the Kingdom of God are both conditioned and unconditioned.”
This may seem like somewhat of a contradictory or confusing proposition at first, but let’s think about this one for a second. Ultimately, the overall process of the coming of the kingdom is unconditioned. God will deal sin and death a final and eternal blow and those who are His will experience eternal life and the return to the Garden with a renewed/restored creation and relationship with their Creator. As noted in yesterday’s discussion, there are processes that take place before the fulfillment of the ultimate process of redemption. Some of those processes are conditioned, meaning to some degree, man’s response to God’s commands, either obedience or rebellion, has an impact on the current state of affairs. We see this in the Old Testament prophetic corpus where God told His people that if they disobey, they will be removed from the land, but if they return to Him, they would be restored. Peters also notes that an element of the conditioned aspect of the prophecies concerning the kingdom are rooted in the calling by God to Him of those who are His. This takes place over the course of salvation history and thus the complete unconditioned fulfillment of the kingdom process is conditioned upon the gathering to God of the elect.
The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 18 is the following:
“The passages (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29, etc.) which speak of predictions as unconditional, and those (Jer. 18:7-10, etc.) which intimate their conditionality, are easily reconcilable from the simple fact, that the purposes of god run in connection with moral freedom, and that whilst the former is not set aside by the action of the latter, yet in the cases of individuals and even nations sufficient latitude is given so that there shall be no violation of that freedom. It may be proper to give some marks by which we may distinguish predictions that will finally be fulfilled from those that are merely conditional. They are the following: 1. Predictions that are bound up with the Divine Plan of Redemption, as e.g. those referring to Christ’s birth, life, death, etc. 2. Those which are confirmed by solemn affirmations or by an oath, as e.g. Num. 14:20, 28; Heb. 6:17, etc. 3. Those that are incorporated in the Covenants, as e.g. the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. 4. Predictions which expressly declare that they will take place irrespective of what man will do, as e.g. Dan. 2 and 7, the Apocalypse, Ps. 89:33-34, etc. 5. Predictions that form the basis of succeeding ones and of promises, as e.g. Nathan to David, 2 Sam. 7:5-17 (this at first sight might seem an exception, but in another place its due fulfillment will be proven). 6. Those that are illustrated by a parable, as e.g. parable of the tares, net, nobleman, etc. (the parable enforces, or takes the fulfillment for granted). 7. Predictions relating to the destiny of the good, whoever they are. 8. Predictions relating to the destiny of the wicked, whoever they are. 9. Prophecies given to the Jews respecting other nations, and not to those nations themselves for purposes of repentance, as e.g., Babylon, Tyre, etc. 10. Those that relate to the establishment of the Kingdom of God, being a revelation of God’s will and pleasure respecting redemptive ordering. 11. Those that describe the final restoration of the Jewish nation, this being (as will be fully shown hereafter) essential to secure the manifestation of the Kingdom and the Salvation of the Gentiles.”
There is certainly quite a bit to digest in this observation. There is a constant stream of debate it seems over the issue of free will and how it relates to the sovereignty of God. I am not going to enter the fray of that debate in this discussion. The purpose of this observation by Peters is simply to note some examples of passages that intimate conditionality and others than demonstrate the unconditionality of the unfolding and revealing of the Kingdom of God. On that issue, Peters rightly demonstrates some valid examples of both. While one can debate until the coming of the kingdom matters of free will, it is not a matter of debate that all takes place within God’s divine plan. I am going to assume that as Peters’ treatise continues to unfold, he will further dig into many of the mentioned passages. We shall see.