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BEWILDERMENT, BEDAZZLEMENT, BEDEVILMENT
OR THE BEAUTY OF
Meeting Suffering Sensor
Of course, I did not at first know who he was. A strange-looking gentleman - I suppose one could call him that, he had an aspect of being vigilant and saturnine at once, a sort of gloomy awareness and of saddened resolve.
It was rather striking. He seemed to imagine when he called at the Manse, that he was naturally to be heeded very closely, and so, not wishing to startle him from any good work which he might have had in mind, I did not ask him too sharply the nature of his business.'
Suffering, he said, pastor, there is a load of it.
It presses to the basement, and thrusts through it as if to the centre of the earth, and goes not out the other side, as if it were afraid of what it would find there.
At these two statements, I began to realise that he was either slightly mad or very sane. It took time to find which was the case.
You have suffered ?
Immensely, but not as intensely as those in the Nazi death camps, such as Riga and those infested follies of the devil, located in Germany, where human butchers ...
I noted a light in his eye, which in a way was a glint of polished stone and dull steel in one. It seemed best now to press for some orientation to his thought.
Yes, even most recently, there were a few thousand killed in the midst of Georgia, allegedly to teach them a lesson at the hands of that Russia, the nation which once as part of the infamous USSR with its Gulag archipelago of Solzhenitsyn's report, worked marvels of inhumanity, and now seems to want to use its recent rescue from bankruptcy and chaos, as a basis for new brutalities and devastation. Meanwhile, as so usual in the purveyors of violence, it is putting on a mockingly self-assured face. It is a world of suffering is it not, charge and counter-charge; and it is well that God in Christ, as in II Corinthians 5:17ff., has suffered more than any, in turning the tables on sin and its sentence ...
Ah! he cried, you see that. That is splendid. I was not sure what KIND of a pastor you might be, and so did not want to act too speedily. Now we can speak freely.
Good, I agreed. Was there some particular aspect of suffering which concerned you ?
Yes, he declared, there was, and it remains a challenge. It has always been my desire to speak to a man of God, a biblical Christian, and find what would be said to some very pointed and direct questions.
Go ahead, for I trust the Lord through His word and by His Spirit will help me to assist you.
You think you could ?
I know He could, for we are TOLD to be ready to give a reason for the faith to those who ask (I Peter 3:15), Paul himself spoke for the defence of the Gospel (Philippians 1:17), and you are evidently asking. We are also told that all things necessary for godliness and life are promised by God (II Peter 1); so therefore ask, and we will see how the Lord supplies.
Very well. First, I am concerned at the sufferings of the innocent. Take any one life, some Jew in Germany, arrested, confined, treated as a sick pig by a heartless farmer, cattle-trucked, stripped of valuables, made to work until poor nourishment and abusive treatment left no strength and then like cattle, not fattened for slaughter, but thinned for work and then removed in a fiasco of folly to a horrid death.
To what then does this portrait lead, in terms of your question ?
It leads to this. Why do the innocent, like this imagined but all too readily realised case, suffer in such ways. Why are ...
Wait one moment please.
No, but I MUST go on. Why are they allowed to be abused by brutes, animals in human form, possessing occasions and guns and momentary superiority, until the human race is like a fractured vase, a smashed statue, a grotesque zoo, without feeling, without help, sunk in sinking sands of hopelessness ? Why ? why ?
I stopped him before the why word became something of a machinegun-like staccato.
Shall I answer that, then ?
What answer could you possibly have ? It is strenuous on the psyche even to envisage it.
You would like an answer then, yes or no ? I am not commissioned to give you an answer in the terms I have just stated, UNLESS YOU ASK. It is really up to you. It is like a doctor's office. However bad the patient in the waiting room, if he will not come to ask, there is no question of seizing him in order to help. He has to ask. In all courtesy, will you ? I need to know this. It is part of my terms of reference. I do not answer for myself, and any answer I will seek to give must come because the Lord who DOES understand has commissioned it.
You seem very ... well, acutely responsible to your task.
I sincerely hope so. Would you like a cup of tea while you ponder the situation ?
After he had drunk, and revived his disconsolate brow and taken some heart, he said, yes, he would ask, and the question was this: Why do the innocent suffer, such as the one case he used merely as an illustration, but which he would like me to answer in terms of biblical principles, to meet ethical constraints of humanness.
My answer, I indicated, would come in sections, able then to be assembled, like parts of an aircraft in a factory, to make the whole. Please then be patient as we proceed, I requested.
He agreed. But I can ask some questions just to be sure I have things clear as you proceed ? he asked.
But of course, I replied. Now the innocent ? May I ask a question for that reason, of you, first ? I may ? Thank you. What do YOU mean by 'innocent' in this context. I shall now endeavour to let you hear, as accurately as I can, the conversation which followed. He spoke again.
Oh no! we are not going to play the lawyer are we ?
I do not know what you will do, I responded, but I am asking for the meaning of your term; for it is necessary in order to answer you, to know what you mean.
Very well, he cried, flushing slightly. I mean this: when a given person has grown up in a reasonable manner, studied hard, become a professional (the one I have in mind, he said, the one currently actuating my thought in fact, was this), sought to be reasonable in human relationships, not sought evil on any, been imperfect, to be sure, but sought to be as good as possible, without being a plaster-cast saint ...
Why is such a person to suffer in
some extreme manner, especially at the hands of those who lives BY COMPARISON,
have been gross and selfish!
is that the sort of line which is in your mind ? I asked.
Yes, actually you are right, for that is precisely the sort of line of thought that is pursuing me! I should like to say 'which I am pursuing', but I cannot, since my mind is so filled with the force of the thing, that it is as if I follow, rather than lead my own thought.
Good. It is apparent from what you have just said, that the man you have in mind, as to kind in any case, has by no means avoided all things that would displease God. He has been a good student, but not over-conscientious, a good son, but not without his mode of selfishness, a sound worker, but not without indulgence ... not, as you say, a plaster-cast saint.
Correct, he agreed.
In what respect then is he innocent ? He has sinned by the very definition given.
I think then I shall have to re-phrase my question a little. Why should a RELATIVELY innocent party suffer enormities of the grossest character at the hand of those RELATIVE guilty, indeed brutal and callous and even without natural feeling at all. It CAN happen. WHY can it ?
I think the short answer to the point is this (and we shall plan to put it in the presence of the other parts later): WHY should the guilty (even if only in some things) be called 'innocent' ? If you do not do all things to the glory of God, with a sincere heart and a pure mind and a fearless faith, why talk of innocence at all! If a worker did fairly well, messed some things, was not shall we say, over-zealous at his work, made some noticeable mistakes, was not without fault by any means, should we say on his report that he was an ideal worker ?
No, we would not.
If then the management had given him a bank account (his body, his mind, his spirit, from a young age, at the hand of the Creator), and he had spent it indifferently, though with some measure of prudence, and had not consulted the management except in the most general of terms, about its deployment, would we call him even a good worker ?
Far from it. He would be a grossly arrogant upstart. He is employed on the basis of what he has been given. He should be keen to find what is to be done, faithful in his use of the gifts and seek to understand the will of the giver for the equipment.
In this case, did he do that ?
No, he did not. He was not acutely religious, though he sought to be of a good nature and reasonable in his dealings. He decided what to do for himself, without real intrusion from any other source, at times seeking counsel, to be sure, but this merely in order to augment his understanding, before making up his own mind on his own criteria about what to do.
On your own recognition, this is shocking, I noted. He is so far from innocent in his use of the life God has given him, that I am frankly amazed that you even think of using the term.
Very well, I just love to be reasonable, for I am seeking the reasonableness of things, and the ways of God's government, so I shall at least seek to show the qualities I am trying to find.
Excellent, and may I commend you for this. It makes our quest quite an exciting one.
Good: then the question becomes: Why does someone slack and inadequate in dealing with life become often enough the victim of someone who is grossly vicious and heartless as well ?
We have progressed, thank the Lord.
Let us then progress further. My question remains as reset, thank you.
If an employe, or a professional, had as much error as the one we have described, relative to whatever it is for which he owes a responsibility, what might we well do ?
We would have to dismiss him, for it would be futile to have someone in employment for OUR purposes when he merely performed HIS, making use of us almost to the point of hypocrisy.
As to the hypocrisy, it certainly could be so. Let us return to the actual case. To find out, we could ask him whether he were interested in seeking the mind and will of his Creator for him. If he declared he was not, then certainly, any thought in HIS mind of his being innocent would be hypocrisy.
But what if he did listen ?
Then we would have to present the fact that God is a lover of the most intimate passion, the most ultimate purity and the most peaceable desire, and that in His love He sent first words of power amid historical settings showing who He was, and then His own eternal Word incarnate, to die for sin, and so speak peace (as in Isaiah 52:13-53:12). We would ask if he desired to make peace with God, and so become a child of his, instead of an alien, his mind askew without the rigours of divine rectitude spelt out for it, and his heart astray without the love of his Creator. We would seek to know whether this, being what he was made for, was the base to which he wished to come, a foundation which if omitted spelt rebellion of a ruinous character.
What if he felt he was too good to have to repent, however, or to have the Son of God sacrificed for His sin ?
Then he would be calling God a liar; and that is more than a little! Remember, we are discussing here on the basis of God's revelation in the Bible, asking how, given this basis, answer can be given to your question.
This is so. Well then, let's look further at this case. If then this person we imagine, if he would not repent, then it is hard to see why anyone could complain of any sufferings which he might gain - as if someone specifically refused to look before crossing a road, and hence was smashed, and lay with exquisite and horrendous agony of body and anguish of spirit for months as his body was being made if possible, a little less misshapen.
The case is this: it is justice where mercy is despised.
Precisely. It is a foretaste of it, for if a man has contemptible contempt for his Creator, then his own fiasco instead of thought, passion instead of love, lie instead of truth, calumny instead of worship, what is to be the end of it!
I see. Therefore our 'innocent victim' idea is utterly false.
In all cases where Christ has been rejected, clearly yes.
What then about the disproportion aspect, as seen in the Jew in concentration camp ?
But how could it be disproportionate ? People who for thousands of years have broken a covenant with God are asking for the uttermost! (Romans 10:1ff., and 11). Leviticus 26 develops the case step by step, from the mouth of God BEFORE this all happened!
Yes, but is this racism ?
Not at all. It is just to put things in perspective. As I was beginning to show, they were WARNED of precisely this outcome from the first, as readily seen by a little study of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 32. For all that, God has promised to bring them back to their land, and did so, and that they would resist massive assault wondrously when they were back, and that they would be a great burden to the surrounding nations, and they are.
Where is that shown ?
In places such as Zechariah 12-13, Ezekiel 36-37, Luke 21:24*1.
But what of Gentile, ordinary people ? what about their sufferings ?
If you pertinaciously resist the Lord in your own homeland, that is, in an image, our spirit and mind, and continually put Him to one side, then what a race might accomplish in a millenium, you can manage to duplicate in a shorter time, perhaps even a year or two ... in your own person
But what of children, say aged three ? what of them ? Think of the children who were brought with parents into the death camps, and then slain pitilessly, with arrogant degradation of their parents before their very eyes ? what of that, of that ...
Once again, before the utterances assumed a machine-gun, or at least machine-pistol type of ricochet from the walls, I interrupted on the second spit.
If a parent takes a child into the path of a wild bull, having climbed over a fence to get there, what do you expect ?
That the child may be smashed.
Does this not concern you ?
Yes it does; but in all common sense, if a parent does this, that is the parental responsibility, and doubtless in due course the judgment will sit (Revelation 20). IF you are GOING TO HAVE children and liberty to love, then failure to love is possible, and gross abuse of the child is possible. The only other alternative is not to be free at all, to know nothing of love, and so really, to cancel the creation of the human race. Would you like to commit suicide as a token of your sincerity in this matter ? This is not an invitation, but an expostulation, believe me!
No, to be sure, I would not. I prefer to have life and liberty, and to allow it all to makes its own marks in history, so that some may learn, and the realities that my friend Reality-Check loves to ruminate bout, can occur.
Then why ask about children ?
Well take another child. Look then at this scenario. This child is that of a lovable, harmonious, peaceable, gracious, thoughtful and responsible inhabitant of the Sudan. Moslem raiders, making war on the Christian South, grab the child and as part of getting some women for intercourse in paradise, or some such desire, they kill the kid in cold blood. What of that ?
Yes, it is true that such glories can happen, if you could call sensual multiplication and personality oppression of MANY women with ONE man as husband, in some paradise, a 'glory' rather than what it really is, a concept of shameful selfishness, such as is sometimes to be found in the Koran's principles. That could indeed therefore occur, even on that basis.
But what of the ethics, the good of it ? Is this what God wants ? let me speak freely.
If you want to be a lawyer, is it that you want to sit up to one o'clock on many nights and study the utterly boring cases proposed ? or is it not rather than the objective in view makes the payment seem appropriate. For a good end, you will suffer pain and humiliation and gross troubles, and call it fine!
So ? what is this to show ?
It means that in the most ordinary of settings, you have, to be consistent with your more general approach to ethics and morals and right and wrong, to consider the difference between WANTING something to happen, and being willing to bear with it in order to gain something to which you direct yourself with a passion of sincerity and desire for good. Why then act as if you can say to God, in effect, do you WANT this child so to suffer ?
I see. You mean that of course He does not want it (we have looked at this, my colleagues and I, in earlier chapters of your volume, and in others, as in SMR pp. 92ff.), but that it is an integral part of what He does want, to make it possible for this to happen. SO it is suffered.
Yes, in short. He is willing to allow such cases where slaughter is not because of a parent's lack of responsibility, but despite it. In this way, a family pays as a unit for the horrors of liberty in the loveless, the licentious or the horrid!
But why should a family pay when the innocent ...
Ah! is the child innocent ?
Of course he is. If he is to young even to have understood the MEANING of responsibility, how can you speak in a relevant way for our problem, of his being NOT INNOCENT ?
What is relevant is not our slant on things, for we are not speaking about our opinions, but God's justice as shown in the Bible and in history, His credibility in these fields, really. We have to see the thing in divine perspective. It is no use asking a cabin boy what he would have done if he were captain, since he is not and has not the faintest idea of the matters, the issues, the principles which must involve the captain when he makes his own decisions.
Do it then. Look at it from the divine perspective as shown in the Bible.
I noted the rather harsh sound of this and so acted more dramatically.
What, I asked, then is the point of acting as if liberty were on notice NOT to let ANYONE with it do ANYTHING which could possibly harm, hurt, incommode and especially maim or kill any child of Christian parents! On what biblical ground would you expect such an invasion of liberty, such a truncation of truth, such an illicit intrusion to prevent the true colours of the forces, moral, military, political, psychic, religious, in the world from acting in their genres ? In that case, why bother having history at all! It would all be merely artificially contrived, and its pain a matter of folly indeed.
Very well. Thus your answer so far appears to be this: IF one does not seek God and find Him, merely using equipment created by Him, and moving as one will, then one's life and children are morally forfeit, and 'innocence' is not the relevant term when the area of discourse is this: WHY is suffering allowed ?
Let me purse this a little, now. Thus guilt is great. IF one DOES seek God, and finds pardon in Jesus Christ, then one's children could conceivably suffer as part of the great operation of liberty and love, in which there is visibly and experientially shown the nature of evil, love, patience, justice and truth.
Yes, and in particular, when it comes to justice, there are two considerations in the area of the children which you have held up to view. Firstly, the patience of the saints under persecution, such as are annotated in the utmost detail for example, in Fox's Book of Martyrs, is part of the entirety of the MEANING of suffering. It is to SHOW. It is to educate on the nature of sin, goodness, evil, false pretension, pride and all the rest so that what is suffered is illustrative, exemplary and an indictment of evil, an exposure of folly and an intimation of the ridiculous.
Then you appear to be saying this: the acute suffering of many children too young to understand the meaning of responsibility is part of a great exposé on good and evil, right and wrong, spirit of truth and spirit of animus and autonomy, and it will educate for all time, making life not a mere experience, but a contribution to be realised throughout eternity.
That is part of it. Let us now look to another segment of the affair. Some might ask parents to spare their children by cursing Christ for example ? Will parent be undivorceable from truth even then ?
Should a parent not capitulate then ? should he or she not pretend to agree, and then repudiate it.
God is the God of truth. You can ask for help, but not in lying.
You certainly go a long way! You mean that if they threaten to torture your children, this is a test, and you should refuse to meet any condition involving a lie to deliver them ?
Certainly. If you speak truth and love God, then He is on your side, and your prayers will be answered if not in the way you anticipate, then in spirit and in reality. He is not without means, and keeping if you like, to the correct side of the road, while driving, you wait on Him for action, in trust knowing He will tempt none beyond what can be borne, it is not without oversight (I Corinthians 10:13). Look at what happened to Hitler in due course, to Communism in the USSR in due course, to the empty great and to those arrogantly multiply divorced and so on! You can then seek that He may intervene to turn this, the case you imagine, to His advantage and deliver your child in ways past finding out, but not past imagining.
You mean that this life is but part, and this is not the end, only the beginning, and that when love stoops to deceit, it has already become prevarication, and the test is failed*1A.
But the child may be so innocent!
Not really. This is far from pretending that the child is not intensely important, and vastly to be protected at sacrifice; but it means that whatever else is sacrificed, it is not God. Christ has already sacrificed Himself, and there is no need to add to it. If you TRUST Him, you will find in the end, the outcome was worth it. If you want to PLAY GOD, and handle it all, then this is mere failure, since you are NOT that! If you wait upon God, then while you or others may suffer, and I have suffered greatly from slander and treachery, yet it has its point and purpose. I for one admire those who patiently pursue what is good as if suffering were a mere sand-storm, a problem but not a finale, those who continue like Tyndale - even in the milieu where soon the agents and exponents of the false faith of Romanism had him arrested and strangled*1B - yes proceed in any interim with all the wit available to do the task.
What important result came then ?
In his case, there was fastidiously faithful Bible translation to English, a boon to his people, a use of the gift which God had given him. When he was strangled, that shows the depth of his devotion, the clarity of his love, the lovability of his God and the power, since in the end his great contribution comes not only to educate the mind with the word of God, but to inspire the spirit with the devotion to what is worth devotion, the God of all peace and truth, in CONTRAST to the wickednesses which CREATE suffering to which you have referred.
Is that your whole answer on this point ?
Far from it. There is need for a second excursion into a realm of understanding, when you are seeking to consider suffering from the divine perspective, from that of the Captain and not that of the cabin boy.
What is this then ?
It is the fact that OUR RACE, like a family, has an integral aspect. It is a THING, this race, just as a family is an entity. Each of these groups has a certain place, nature, schedule and meaning. When the first man and woman decided to let go and let the devil be educator, instructor Genesis 3, Romans 5:12ff.), it was the work of those soon to become parents. It counted and the thing mounted. In fact, to make a parallel, it was a sort of prelude to the work of many modern universities in the topic areas of creation and divinity, as if they were devoted to the first principles of the rebellion at Eden, without having learned anything from history. In this way, then, first our first parents fell, and latterly, many in loco parentis, schools, colleges, actually give AID to children that they too might fall, not in the way Eve did, but in their own way, aggravating the fall already made. Man is soiled and spoiled and needs redemption.
Thus when Adam and Eve fell and failed in the test*1A, it was not simply an episode, and indeed it was a thing of mighty spiritual significance. It was as if they became murderers, but what they murdered was themselves (remember - in that day, you will surely die!). Their spirits, hearts, souls, minds were all involved in a desecration of creation. Something died within them, and it was passed on in body, mind and spirit to those who followed, like a drug problem conveyed from parent to the child in the womb, but this not just there, but in heart as well. The whole product was ruined.
I suppose you mean that therefore the entirety of the family unit (for them then to come) would be soiled, spoiled, polluted, the very personalities of the parents providing smog from the outset, their characters, conduct, conditions a constant exhibit of what is wrong, even if some good remained. It is a question of SPIRIT, and when this is tainted, all is.
That is so, and thus all children whatsoever, except of course Jesus Christ as incarnate God, are born sinners (Psalm 51:5-6). You rarely see a child in pain who thinks of longsuffering mother and delays the cry. Selfishness becomes endemic, like the spots on a leopard. NONE is 'innocent', and while it is true that adding conscious sin with rebellious reasons is a vast increment in sin, when the child grows older, yet it not a change in kind, merely in the spaces into which sin is now able to filter, flame and fuel.
What then of the disproportion aspect ? Will some Nazi sadist, some Communist monster of anti-individuality treating individuals like operating instruments, some miscreant with power be allowed to reign over the righteous ?
Obviously yes: but the nature of their enterprises, eventual humiliations, exposures, as at Nuremberg, their guilty defilements, staining the pages of history, are exposed by their crushing, by their names, by their records, by their very devilishness; for NO ANIMAL comes even close to the injudicious delights frequently employed the godless, who so use all the capacities for good and for understanding to eliminate the same, like a teenager run amok, setting fire to the house. The horror at this grossness, which is part of your 'disproportion' concept, is part of its repudiation, its terminal exposure as cancerous, its mark and its portion, as the entire pedagogy of history comes round towards its end.
You are saying then that it is not mere wrong, mere error, or even rebellion which marks and defiles, makes miscreants out of much of the human race, and sinners out of them all, but it is a far broader dynamic of far greater significance that is in play, or at work, or both. You are declaring, then, that back of the practical elements of sin there is the vast perspective of seeking to grab and rape creation, to use it for stolen delights, subtly and in spirit, or grossly and in flesh, or mind, to take it from God, seeking to abuse what is good by using it as mere increment to the joys of what is evil and so forth, as in child abuse, as in torture by materialist sadists and their polluted offspring, and as in Communist abuse of whole nations for their own standard of living and pleasure ?
This and far more than that. There are what Paul calls principalities and powers, the whole array of dissident beings, as well as angelic ones, the whole concourse of sentient beings, conscious spirits and those equipped to understand, and there has been, as John indicates in Revelation 12, war in heaven, where the deceitful deluder, Satan, has sought to take from God what is His, and to immerse the squadrons of angels in the tar of distasteful distrust, so making gaunt practice.
It is not that man is subordinate and so does not really matter, is it ?
Far from it. Man is one of the chief educators, exhibitioners, exponents, one of the chief fields where God has not precluded Satan from trying his utmost (and so men become not only bad in their own choice, but devilish in their voluntary submission to the deceits of the devil, BECAUSE they refuse to trust God). As he tries, so man falls, or rises, resists or overcomes; and while God OFTEN intervenes in a grand scale indeed, as in the Exodus, the destruction of Nineveh, the long day of Joshua, the resurrection of Christ, the miracles of Stephen and Paul, the Dunkirks and the Armada situations, yet He does not do this so much that the natural laws and results are obscured. History is so far from meaningless, that the very passion for the idol of meaningless has become part of its meaning.
This is one of the pathological exhibits of disjoined man. If a severed branch of a vine could think, it might well declare itself meaningless while it lies and rots next to the vine. Man certainly seems meaningless when divorced from his parent and plant. He is alienated then and alien, an ultimate misfit (Ephesians 4:17-19).
His meaning then is to demonstrate the nature of BEING a misfit ?
Precisely. Just as Dostoevsky could show in ludicrous but serious passion the state of mind of Communist sympathiser and Communist deceiver, in vast rigmaroles of ridiculous speech, in a novel such as The Possessed, so in history the deceits and receipts can be matched and the grim humour of the empty deceptions displayed not only in word, but in deed (as in Proverbs 1, Psalm 2), in atmosphere, in psyches, in the dismal delusions which pass as philosophies, more often than not.
But what if someone tells God that He is not to be believed in, since the world He created allows too much suffering, that the thing is out of hand and shows poor government ?
Then that person is the cabin boy. He is adding ground for suffering to his own case by simple presumption. In an eternity, what is the suffering that this world provides ? It is a pebble on the beach. In terms of infinite truths, what is the passing through the exhibition of reality that history provides, but a privilege. In fact, the actual Christian, as the case of Job shows (cf. Trials, Tests and Triumphs in Temptation), despite his minor wobblings from time to time, the real person of one who trusts in God, one reliant on Him to the uttermost, may be tested*1A, to the uttermost (I Peter 1:7, 4:12ff).
Indeed, this was the lot of Hezekiah, seen both in the episodes of war and health, in Isaiah 37-38 - but with what prodigious results!
Firstly, the Lord performed a miracle of an amazing order, seen in history, and changing it radically; then when Hezekiah was sick, another miracle associated with a sign or astronomical event - shown in the shadow on the sun-dial going backwards, was staggering shown.
Again, when slack after his recovery, he entertained (alas, a relatively slight reversion to the error of Jehoshaphat as seen II Chronicles 18*2), 'comforters' to encourage him after his sickness, FROM BABYLON, heartland of idolatry. He even showed them the treasures of the temple, thus whetting their national appetite for what came in due course, when they later ransacked the nation. That test he failed - the test of idle complacency, of being great enough to entertain the evil, and share the pearls with what is spiritually swinish. It is like the current ecumenicalism, polluted in concept, impure in practice and rebellious in spirit.
Thus, to take a case, look at the nature of this famed Alpha course. Have you read what was shown*3 of this ? Thus it first of all, facilitates fellowship with unbelievers, THUS dimming the sharpness of the faith. With this dulling of the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, it proceeds on course further. It allows that the greatest moment in its course is for many the time when the Spirit is called on to come.
Yet how COULD this rightly be when the Bible declares this: "God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified to me and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14)! I came to preach Christ crucified, said Paul! I determined to know nothing among you but this (I Corinthians 1:23,2:2).While he has wisdom to add for those established (I Cor. 2:6ff.), even this is as directly provided by God to him as apostle (I Cor. 2:9ff.), and it is far from varying from the central emphasis on the Cross (Galatians 6:14).
Yet this Alpha course is statedly for the beginner! But what does it do in the end ? It leaves completely open what may be added to the Bible for the adventuring into the 'revelations' of the 'faith', so being acceptable to Rome (which is the chief violator in numbers at least, of this promiscuity of daring to add by authority to the word of God*4). Indeed, this Alpha Course is endorsed by Romanism; and accordingly, it does not emphasise the completely assured eternal life without any additives, conditions or impositions, present or future, which is given by God (Galatians 1, 3, 3, I John 5:11ff., Ephesians 2:5-8), but rather it is moving in emphasis from Cross to Spirit.
Rome, which finds no fault in the course, by contrast, explicitly declares this:
If anyone says, that by faith alone the impious is justified, in such wise as to mean that nothing else is required to co-operate in the acquisition of the grace of justification, and that it is in no way necessary for a man to be prepared and disposed by the motion of his own will; let him be anathema.
That assault on the Bible and on the faithful is found in Canon IX, Session V1, Council of Trent 1547. That Council is repeatedly confirmed in more modern times, in the religion of Romanism.
Moreover, NEVER in the Bible does this emphasis on the Cross become secondary to anything! This course puts undue emphasis on the work of the Spirit, and in so doing, even encouraging ALL to speak in tongues*4, and saying NOTHING about the entire sufficiency and exclusive basis for doctrine in the Bible, it is thus opening the door to a NON TESTING of spirits (contrary to I John 4), so allowing the facility for notable facility for agreeable combination with Rome's approach, just as tongues' emphasis in fact does, and thus for all uncleanness in additives and idols *5.
What then is to be found here that is wrong. It is these things:
its root, de-emphasis of the Cross,
development, failure to close the door on doctrine,
its means, non-testing of the spirits;
its false emphasis, the Spirit as the activating agency
even its calling this 'tongues' a type of language to be
LEARNED*4 and developed
its dulling of the sharpness of the sword of the Spirit BOTH
As to the tongues point: THIS is NOT a type of speech, to use Paul's phrase, but contra-distinct from it, and to be remedied, if it must occur, by clear words ON EVERY PUBLIC occasion, that DO edify. This language concept moves towards attributing to the Holy Spirit the things that 'come', and these being viewed as authentic, readily take the body of mixed believers (if so be, any are in it) and unbelievers in any direction.
The complementary stress on NOT being critical of doctrine in major churches, thus moves the whole combustion apparatus into a strange fire (as in Leviticus 10, with Nadab and Abihu) which, for our edification we note, CONSUMED them. It happened like this: they OFFERED uncommissioned fire in the religious setting in joint company, and the fire of the LORD CONSUMED them. This is the way with this sort of thing.
Now despite these multiplied errors, many not in the World Council of Churches*6 come into this forbidden fellowship, this errant dogma, and this false emphasis, this false teaching on tongues, this open-ended, Roman sympathising body (despite*6A Romans 16:17, Isaiah 8:20, I Timothy 6, Ephesians 5-6), and so are moved from being in the field of battalions of belief, to that of associates with Babylon, as Hezekiah for a FLEETING MOMENT came to be; only to be utterly rebuked, his kingdom, later in an oncoming reign, to be removed! Impoverishing the Church, such movements evaporate into vanity, caught like flies in the web of that great spider, the Satan himself.
HOLD fast to the faith, the Bible, the Lord, the Cross! That is the scriptural message (I Corinthians 1, II Timothy 3:16, 4:2, Jude, Romans 16:17) and do not dabble. WHEN therefore such things as these, readily seen to be dissimulations, whatever the intent of the flesh, but this in their spiritual domain, are indulged in, what is the outcome in SUFFERING! This is a test! We are accustomed from school on to tests! The object is to pass; and the background is in the end, one of two things: a love of the subject and its wisdom and knowledge, leading to light and performance, or a desire simply to make it serve for one's career, or satisfaction. If the latter, then to apply the parable, it is like using Christ to gain a better life, not to be the basis of knowing and worshipping God, satisfying ONESELF, not Him.
How COULD taking up a cross DAILY be of this type! You have in fact to LOSE your life! (Matthew 16:25).
Thus suffering is to be found where IN SPIRIT you err, when in WORD you do not cleave entirely to the Bible, and when in HEART you deviate from the utter purity which knowing God means. It is no ground for perfection in this life (Philippians 2-3), but it is one for intention, for application, for discipline, for following Christ and being true to the apostolic faith (with NEITHER addition nor variation as in Galatians 1). This leads to morbidity in the bodies which so engage (like rotting rope holding a bundle together), pathology in the hearts of those who so deviate from purity, weakening of the Church of God in this, that its people are sundered by subterfuge from the faith, implicitly or at last explicitly, to relaxed emphasis in the home, to confusion in the young and to ample ground for wandering into the brambles of unbelief, torturous entanglements with opposites, subjectivisation of spiritual life and openness, as with a wound, to infection from this world and its carnal cultures.
Proverbs 17:3 tells us this:
"The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the Lord tests the hearts."
Thus, as seen also in I Peter, there is a SPECIFIC and EXPLICIT action on the part of God to TRY, to TEST, to invest man with investigation, to probe, for the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord by which He surveys the human heart! (Proverbs 20:27),
"The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly."
In vain do people want a world in which only the chosen live, prior to heaven, which comes only after test. GOD wants to test. HE knows (Romans 8:29ff.), but we must be SHOWN (see Ch. 8 below). There is way in which it is all mere intellection or knowledge. What is foreknown is not foreguessed, but forged in the Lord, before all time. The forging is not for forgetting, but implementation that all may see what is the truth, which is made manifest.
LIGHT DOES make manifest, and a shadowy and hidden God is not our own! To the wounded conscience, fact; to the quivering heart, fact; to the uncertain wanderer, fact: it is all supplied. It is not left to dream, but sought out and wrought into history. Man is free to refuse, but only by grace can he be written into the book of life (Ephesians 2:5-8). It is God who knows; but WHAT He knows and indeed WHOM He knows, and so foreknows, these are things open to all, invested with historical cleanness, not infested with secrecy. His constraint to the Cross is not distraint from love of the lost, but as open heart as ALL in heaven or on earth in schema (Colossians 1:19ff.). IF people are ashamed of Him in history, then we have it from His mouth that HE will be ashamed of them in the judgment! He declares repeatedly that His is no desire to have them in this condition, but precisely the opposite.
Tests are crucial, and while God is not dependent on them, He is inclined to show them, that all may know and all may be shown and the light which makes manifest, may make man to be seen, and the truth to be demonstrated.
Tests can be strenuous and deeply rewarding, not only to the one so tested, but to those who see. Take the case of Job. This patriarch suffered excruciatingly but was chosen because not only did he REALLY love God WITHOUT reward, but was vulnerable enough to show the issues involved in his own suffering when tested. For perhaps more than 3500 years, mankind has been blessed with the wisdom shown in the book of Job, and with his Job 19, that so often sung inspiration which gripped the tested patriarch: I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVETH!
Yes, it was even given to him to KNOW that at last this Christ would come and stand upon the earth, and that in resurrection he himself, and not another, nor through another, he would see God! What is suffering compared with that! If you think it too much, do you understand the meaning of eternity, of the consummation of the spirit, the wonder of spiritual life, the uncontainable glory of knowing and living for our Creator! If not, then that is the ground of confusion. If GOD is not valued, then of course, neither is suffering! If however God IS not valued, then why ask questions about suffering ? You merely disbelieve in Him, and hence cannot understand why suffering is. Our question however is not in that domain. It is rather this: GIVEN the Bible, how can suffering be shown to be right and reasonable!
This, however, which we are currently examining, is NOT in that field. It is not a question, here, of ‘given the Bible’, to test its wisdom. Rather, in this recess, you are simply abstracting from it to some other God, not the summit and beginning, not the gloriously incomparable magnificence that He is shown to be, and known to be. In that case, the question is confused. It starts on one basis and the questioner wishes to proceed on another. You ask in one cosmos, and want meanwhile to walk in another. This is confusion, and is therefore its own answer. Let us then look further.
In the matter of suffering, in the saints indeed, consider Joseph: loved by his father and protected, sold as a youth as slave to the ungodly, taken from his country, sought for seduction by a would-be adulteress, accused by her in her frustration when he remained pure, imprisoned on this basis on false charges, his moral standing besmirched, his loyalty which had been total, falsely impugned, serving other prisoners, interpreting dreams aright, having one of them on release, fail for a long period to tell of his case when back at court in Egypt, and only after having his feet hurt in fetters of all things in such a case, as if his very body which had NOT committed fornication, were to be hurt as if he had, until his time came.
The Bible says that the word of the Lord TESTED him until his time came! (Psalm 105:19). These testings scale the heights, summon the depths, release the spirit into profundity and stir it to the sublimities in the strength of the Lord and the fidelity required. Christianity is not hedonism, but a pathway to glory.
Consider, further, Christ Himself. HE DESPISED SHAME. He was not torn by it, into incinerated bits of ashy residue; but elevated His heart to see the case, and overcome it with the knowledge of the REASON for the suffering, that love be furnished to and realised in many millions of people, all paid for in their passage to heaven, as far as grounding is concerned, but testing on the way, as far as showing is concerned. Such suffering is not removed from the saints, for although there is this difference, that His to redeem them, and theirs is to testify of Him and live for Him in an alien world, there is the test of reality on the heart that professes.
This is not only a trial, but a privilege, as we can see, knowing that God was using Job to show the reality of the heart's love of truth and God and righteousness, as distinct from a hedonist deployment of these things, making them mere means to ends. Just so was he using Joseph to show the need of humility before honour, and fidelity without reward, though what comes may be surpassing. Integrity, honesty, love and loyalty, ALL these are involved, to be known and to be shown.
IF we love God, then like a dog which loves to help with the sheep, though it has both pain and loss of blood, suffering and icy wind, we are willing to suffer. We BELIEVE in the purpose, and so accept the way. Trust is even more than this. It means that just as Christ for the joy that was set before Him (as in Isaiah 53, the crop being that of children to be won by His sacrifice, children of God), despised shame, so reality surges like mighty waves to the shoreline. Unintimidated it is, by the rigours of the flush and flourish of things; and in its so doing, it shows some little part of justice to the grandeur, majesty and wonder of the Lord, whose purposes are sure and whose wisdom is infinite. Tests are not small.
Those in heaven are not sluggish spiritual aristocrats, chosen in sloth. Saved by grace through faith ONLY, they are nevertheless tested by history through suffering! There is nothing indolent about heaven.
That was quite a coverage. May I ask however another question. After all, my name is this: Suffering-Sensor.
Is it ? I might have though as much. Good to meet you. But as to a further question, certainly, why not ?
What, then, about people, who would have become Christians, but did not since no one told them the Gospel, and who then suffer, being still ignorant of some at least of the major issues involved ? Are they not unjustly treated in this, that they do not have the glory of understanding and the fatherly flourish of the Lord, in the midst, giving them the peace of certainty and the availability of wisdom by prayer ? Why should they suffer WITHOUT this, just because no one told them the Gospel ?
The point is taken. In answer, again, we move to another section for the final assemblage. Does anyone have the right as a sinner to TELL God that He OUGHT to treat them as a non-sinner ?
No, of course not. Why do you ask this ?
Then what is this talk of 'unjust' ... since only if you could rightly say to God, I AM INNOCENT and you are making me suffer, could there be talk of 'injustice'. Even at that, if you LOVE God, then it is not even a relevant question to ask why you should suffer. HE has His reasons, whether of this kind or of that. Let's look further at this.
First, if someone does not yet know God, then the suffering may first of all, lead him to seek Him, and that is for eternal glory, incomparable with suffering. Secondly, if the soul does not seek Him, then this is its setting. God is not committed to showing to this world and its inhabitants the benefits of faith in those who do not belief: for that would simply be a contradiction in terms. In His foreknowledge, however, He does know who are His, seek all and find His own, so that whatever the suffering on the way, showing now the vanity of mere flesh, the emptiness of pride and the inadequacy of man without God, there is not merely good, but wonder.
Meanwhile, in the duress of separated flesh, there is abundant illustration for all of what vulnerability is there! If of course someone does not BELIEVE the Bible, that God would have all to be reconciled to Him, and loses none of His own, as in Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, Romans 8:28ff., I John 4:7ff., Ezekiel 33:11, John 15:22ff, John 3:17*7, then this is mere confusion.
Your QUESTION is to have one answer how, in biblical terms, such suffering as is to be found, could be just or right or feasible or have provided for it, so much as an answer in terms of biblical principles. We come constantly to various biblical principles, and so find every time, answer. But let us move on further and more generally to the significance of suffering.
Thus, in the case of Wycliffe, it seems to have been, not least, to bring proportion and perspective to English politics, a sense of responsibility to God on the part of political powers, on one side, and a sense of what is owing to the life in God on another, while himself labouring hard to bring the word of God to England, there even being Lollards, singers, to take scripture to England: all this arising from his life! He suffered, often in danger, always challenged both to have and to show great courage, not seeking for his own welfare, but for what is good for all, from God who made us.
How is this relevant to suffering ?
In suffering what it took to do these things, Wycliffe gave us an example of:
1) courage in the face of variable
2) trusting God, whatever the
3) being productive as well as
provocative, if necessary,
4) continuing in all seasons to be
one who loves, fears and serves God,
But again, what has this to do with suffering ?
In giving us such an example, Wycliffe was WILLINGLY providing, as an example, a small part of the pain which Christ had to suffer in order to redeem his whole life from destruction: how is this unjust ? How is it not apparent to you that if he justly and willingly desired so to serve God, in a way that could have repercussions of great good for many generations, both in his writings and in his example and in his immediate and later consequences, then suffering is here the coin of history, to make it productive, the coin of value, to bring jewels for its purchasing power, to inspire the saints. It is a testimony to love, a witness to its action and a ground for its sincerity.
It purges the saints ?
It may do so; but it certainly may bring rejoicing to their hearts, as the precious product of much suffering not only illustrates the grand spirit of service and the love of the sublimity of the great and good God, but gives an actual product, like the writings of Wycliffe, to edify and bring crisp, clear thought to the mind of man, so mellowing his follies and challenging his misconceptions freely.
So suffering is productive ... ?
It is not merely that. It is a display item, a product circumstance, a spiritual exhibit, a testimony to the value of truth and to the endurance of what is best. Christ's suffering is not even measurable, nor are its results. When the Son of the eternal God, the Eternal Word of God suffered that sense of separation which SIN MUST bring (Isaiah 59:1ff.), and of desolation which is its due, then this is forever THE exhibit of its nature and of His; and when His nurture in the resurrection shows the power of God, it is a perpetual testimony to the endless value of truth and the delicious joy of having served it, for in truth God is love.
He loves what He makes to suffer ?
Enough to make the journey of infinite humiliation to become like one of us, and to even subject to precisely that utter disproportion of which you speak, in the extent of His sufferings, that of the One innocent as none other of man has ever been in life, compared with His deserts. In fact, He suffered for our deserts and if this is not unjust ?
Then what ?
Then what could be. However, He took it in love, to save from justice those who deserved its uttermost concoctions and consequences, so that He served justice by the bearing of the sin, this enabling Him IN justice to clear the books of those whom He loved. It was disproportion in infinity, that One infinitely innocent should hear the sin of those categorically sinful. But He was not forced to do it (John 10:18), so that it was no more a breach of justice, but the reach of justice, met by love, promoted in mercy. In view of this, what is all this talk of poor old man suffering ? GOD HIMSELF is far beyond any man in His account in this suffering affair.
If then we cannot suffer God because of suffering, then let us unmake ourselves, and be not free, but meaningless beings without personality or option, love or mercy, programmees.
It is the option, is it not ?
Do you want to suicide to show your sincerity of not wanting such a situation ?
Why then ask ?
I do not ask any more. The answer is sufficient.
Is the Cross sufficient ?
No, it is far more than this.
Then that is the answer of the Lord. The resurrection is the nobility of power and the sending of the Spirit is the work of wonder even now, until He come, from whom the Spirit comes, whose word always rules (Proverbs 30:6, I Thessalonians 2:13).
See Red Alert ... Ch. 10, It Bubbles ... Ch. 10, Outrageous Outages ... Ch. 11,
Galloping Events ... Ch. 4, SMR Appendix D.
AN EXCURSION ON TESTING AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HISTORY, AND INDISPENSABLE PROBE AND PRODUCTION
This arises a multiple-referent end-note. In other words, there are MANY references to this concept of test in this Chapter. Test and suffering are correlatives, like the left and right hand, the left and right auricles of the heart. Because it is rather extensive, it has been made into a Chapter of its own, Ch. 8 below. From that place, the references to the text of Ch. 7, to which this note refers, can be made by using the hyperlink provided, and searching *1A.
See for this disreputable combination of greed, desire, selfish politics, Romanism in its scheming clothes, vicious imprisonment and endeavours to gain favour, extinguish the Reformation, d'Aubigné's Vol. 2 of The Reformation in England, Chs. 3 and 14. If ever cunning and craft, Romish pretensions and desire, State and false Church, duplicity and deviousness showed worse, one would hope it could not have been often.
The tone is set when one reads of the machinations of the pope in this horrendous series of interchanges between the papacy and Henry, back in 1528 (Tyndale was executed in 1536).
At one point, where the continued liberty from the Emperor on the part of the pope, the wishes of Henry VIII and other forces pressed the papacy, the point not being faithfulness to Christ but solution of a multi-faceted personal and political problem, using wit and evasion, Clement as pope reportedly declared (op. cit. p. 322):
"Alas! I tell you again, I am ignorant in these matters. According to the maxims of the canon law the pope carries all laws in the tablet so his heart, but unfortunately God has never given me the key that opens them."
As the author of these volumes commented:
"If he had never received the famous key, there was no reason why other pontiffs would have possessed it."
The point is just. The key is Christ, not someone, Church, person or other, who violating Matthew 23:8-10, imagines it would even or ever be given to an insurgent. The key is obedience to the Lord and to His word, and the open door is what is written, in the Lord. Peter's use of the 'key', his own response to the personal leadership, was to open the door to bringing the Gospel to the Samaritans, to the Gentiles and in declaring Paul's writings to be scripture (Acts 8:14ff., 10:9ff., II Peter 3:16). It was not in some anti-scriptural personal sublimity or disposition, for that would have contradicted Christ's dictum! See SMR pp. 99ff., 911ff., 1032ff..
Nor was it transmissible, but simply a leadership role for the one given it. It coincided with his errors, one being as great as can doctrinally be imagined (as seen in the irony of the situation where the ‘key’ is mentioned, where Peter urged Christ against the heart of the Gospel!); but it was not continued, praise God. I I Peter 5, we see Peter who is “also an elder”.
The sufferings imposed by the grandiose duplicities and subtleties of the mass-killing papacy, as it has been in various epochs of its unblessed rule, render such matters of primary importance for the preservation of the faith, which was assailed by those who not only sought to impose its wiles on England, but on the world.
*2 See Chapters 2 and 4 above, especially the latter.
See Hapless Hitches ... Ch. 3 as marked.
See Hapless Hitches and Holy Healings ... Ch. 3 as marked.
"The Alpha Course Is It Bible Based Or Hell Inspired?"
In this work on the Web- http://www.ivanfoster.org/page.asp?alpha,
'On page 147 of "Questions of Life" he not only teaches that we should "Ask God to fill you with the Spirit and give you the gift of tongues", but in point six he states, "Persevere. Languages take time to develop. Most of us start with a very limited vocabulary. Gradually it develops. Tongues is like that. It takes time to develop the gift. Don`t give up."
Rev. Fitton rightly asks this of the material in view:
'Does the same Spirit give a perfect gift on the day of Pentecost and an imperfect one today? We are examining Acts 2:4. They began to speak in tongues - Why? Was it the sign that they had received the promise of the Father? Was it to praise or pray to God? No! Verses 5 and 6 give the purpose. They inform us that there were men in Jerusalem from all parts of the earth and the Apostles preached to them in their own language. The gift of tongues was given that they might preach the Gospel.'
He is right here, in substance. Firstly, it is unscriptural to ask to speak in tongues. You may have desire for it, but you are subject to the Spirit's sovereign distribution AS HE WILL. . DO ALL SPEAK IN TONGUES ? is the first aspect in the Bible, to the point (I Cor. 12:30). That is a question asked by the apostle Paul, in the same line of thought as that which also questions: Are all apostles ?
Obviously, not. He has been making it clear that different gifts in the Church are comparable to different parts of the body, the foot, the eye and so on. Hence when he applies this, the answer is: Of course not. You have just been stating that there are different gifts, not all the same, not all with all, but that each individual receives what he is given.
Next, he has stated this: that "one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills." It is AS HE WILLS (I Corinthians 12:11), and HE DISTRIBUTES as He will. It is not according to man's will, but His own.
Thus the Spirit of God gives gifts as HE WILL; and NOT ALL are to have all the gifts. You take what you are given and use what you have. It is neither good nor wise for every person to be here or there, with this or that gift. The body is not like that. It is here for this member, and there for that member, and each member works differently. The gift of tongues is one thing. It is not for all. The point is stressed even to the point of reductio ad absurdum: to the point that it is expressly made to appear ridiculous by the apostle, if there were no distribution: for would the body be all foot or all eye!
Now that we see that tongues, heavily marked down to the point that by the apostle, 10,000 words of this kind is put, for public meeting, as to his mind worth 5 words spoken with the mind, words edifying and intelligible (I Corinthians 14:15,19). The operation of this gift also is permitted on any one occasion, to only a few. It is NOT intended for all, and it is NOT to be made much of, but severely limited in value, in frequency, and moreover ALWAYS in meetings, interpreted so that edification may ALWAYS occur (I Corinthians 14:5, 8, 26-29). ALL speaking in tongues is mere chaotic rebellion.
Next we add the point that there is an express direction for SEEKING gifts. It is this: and it is seen in I Corinthians 14:1. Seek spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy. You may translate it, above all, as one does. The point of the Greek term is this: it would be better to do one thing than the other. Thus you can seek for spiritual gifts, but it is better to seek to prophesy. It is the comparative degree of a word meaning 'very much'.
So it is very much MORE, so that the thing cited is rather to be sought, to a greater degree to be sought, in any prospect of comparison: THIS is the one, and NOT that! What then is the THIS ? It is to prophesy.
Again, the apostle wishes they all spoke with tongues, but MORE, RATHER that they prophesied. Spiritual things can be helpful, but in place. They may be sought, but in priorities. Paul himself spoke much in tongues, more than all BUT IN PRIVATE. To speak in tongues may be fine in private, since none is deprived by this non-language. When it comes to Church, then not merely is restraint required, to two or three at most, but in this, that there is to be the provision of interpreter OR NOTHING.
This is therefore not an isolable or functional gift in the Church. It requires a key, for otherwise it is gibberish. It must be kept to a short time, because prophesy is the main feature and point, and the nature of this now, is as shown in A Question of Gifts, Section 1, in the Excerpt, namely the exposition of the Bible.
Paul's point is this: that the CHURCH MUST HAVE the exposition of the word of God (cf. I Thessalonians 2:13, I Corinthians 2:9-13, Galatians 1, II Timothy 4:2), but as to these tongues, they are not only not a language, let alone one to be learned in progressive stages, they are not a language at all: they are not designed to be expressive of communication to hearers. That is statedly not their NATURE (I Corinthians 14:11).
Only for a special and DIFFERENT gift do they provide material for review, as the Spirit of God moves. That 'interpretation' gift is the possession of but few. Without that gift, Paul declares, tongues are but a matter of speaking to the air, and DO NOT involve the mind at all (I Cor. 14:14). In general terms, if someone visits a church with uninterpreted tongues, then he would deem the speakers to be out of their minds (I Corinthians 14:23). Such is the word of the apostle.
Being deemed out of your mind as the exercise of a gift ? That is not the function of a language! Developing what comes as a product of people out of their minds is emphatically NOT a language, and pretending to learn to 'speak' it better is therefore arrant nonsense. Such error does however lead to the emphasis on tongues which Paul abhors, the concept of edification from them, which he negates, the idea of importance attaching to them in a public meeting, which he scathingly rejects, and to the idea that you might be 'led' by such functions. It is only another gift which can bring anything out of them. It is ONLY THE BIBLE which has authority in doctrine (Proverbs 30:6), and the accusation of LIAR is ready for any who violates this (Proverbs 30:6).
word of God is like a hammer that breaks rock (Jeremiah 23:28-29), and the rest
is as chaff by comparison, weak, scattery and void WHEN and IF, it is placed in
any sort of contest, either to add, to vary or to develop! The word of God is
God-given by immediate inspiration (I Cor. 14:37, 2:9ff., II Timothy 3:16,
Isaiah 8:20, I Thessalonians 2:13). It is so far above, beyond and over all
other words that it is a superficial folly and a profound distemper on the part
of any who tries to mix it with the spumings, fumings, hopes, revelatory
occasions and intimations of mere men. HE has finished His speech to man, as in
the Old Testament in its day and way,
so in the New (Deuteronomy 4, 12, Revelation 22:18-19, Matthew 5:17ff., Psalm 119, Ephesians 2).
When this fact is ignored, as in much Pentecostalism, and in all that ignores the biblical prohibitions here shown, then it is easy to create a new Jesus, a new Gospel and another Jesus, as Paul shows in II Corinthians 11. Romanism has been the classic case of such things for over 1000 years, and Mormonism, with whole regions of Pentecostalism are merely more modern modes of joining themselves to this provocation to the Almighty and His word! It is not, then, WHEN the sect erred, it is IN WHAT it did so.
Nothing could be more serious than adding to, subtracting from, altering or supervising the word of God. ONE is your Master, even Christ! that is HIS opinion (Matthew 23:8-10), and it is just as much a marvel as He showed it to be, that some call Him Lord, Lord! and then do not see fit to obey Him! Among the churches, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, for it is not the Church which creates the word of God, but the word of God which creates the Church (I Peter 1:18-23). It is not its own Head: CHRIST is its head (Acts 4:11ff., I Corinthians 3:10ff., Philippians 2:10, Colossians 1:18). In Ephesians 1:22, indeed, we have this:
“And has put all things under His feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.”
They are to keep to what they have been taught (II Thessalonians 2), change not a speck of the Gospel (Galatians 1) from what Paul had already taught, never ADD to the word of God written (Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22), and to realise this crucial point. It is that the foundation of the Church is not only Jesus Christ, the LORD's CHRIST, and not another (Luke 2:26), but to be found in the inspired work of the witness given by His own power, through the apostles and their appointees or associates, a thing in form and outline complete, a matter of the past even in Paul's day (Ephesians 2:20). Adding to these THINGS or subtracting from these WORDS is expressly forbidden on the utmost penalty (Revelation 22:18-19).
*5 See A Question of Gifts, Section II, as marked.
*6 See SMR pp. 743ff..
See Separation 1997, and
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth
Ch. 6 (and division itself);
Message of the Words of God to Man in the World Ch. 3;
Keys to the Comfort ... Ch. 3; Hallowed be Thy Name Ch. 9,
Going With God Ch. 1,
Ch. 6, Ch. 8.
The Glow of Predestinative Power Chs. 4, 8, 1, The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3, Great Execrations ... Chs. 7 and 9, To Know God ... Ch. 1, KEY ... 7, Ch. 2 above, The Open Door, the Closed Mind ... Ch. 1, Going with God Ch. 2.