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SPECIFYING A PARTICULAR CAUSE IS AS PERILOUS
AS FAILING TO SPECIFY THE CAUSE
Who is to blame for the fires ?
LIVENEWS Feb. 11, 2009
It was (what feels like) way back in the days of the Twin Tower murder, that a famed US preacher attributed the cause of this dual demolition to various sins on the part of the USA. From memory, he was quite specific. President Bush asked him to retract, and it appears he obliged.
In fact, however, President or preacher alike, there is no escape from reality. It obtrudes, it intrudes and refuses to dissipate for the dissipated or the distressed, to be berated into nullity by the intoxicated or to be slated for entry by the obsessed.
If you look at Amos 4, you see the pattern which the Lord followed, the principles evoked. If you look further at II Chronicles 36, you see it again, and if at II Kings 17, you see more. If you look at Isaiah 1 you see the thing in outline, at Isaiah 28-29 in incline, at Hosea 8:7 you see it in what is almost a spiritual law (unless mercy intervene).
It is quite useless for some preacher to attribute the fires in Victoria to abortion, though the instancing has pith; or for Costello to rebuke him for doing so (LIVENEWS Feb 11, 2009), whether to affirm or to deny. The realities of the Bible are in substance quite clear. It is in being too specific in complex cases that the trouble lies. When an inspired prophet of the word of God, in the Old Testament time, spoke in the Lord's name, every jot and tittle being from God, every part was valid and would happen (cf. Matthew 5:17ff.).
Of the fact that this is so, this wayward and wandering world is an acute attestation. We are getting it because the requests for it are so great (that is judgments, cumulative and consequential). Many are specified (cf. SMR Ch. 8, Answers to Questions Ch. 5), their apparent riot under divine rule, co-ordinating justice and mercy, patience and trial, tribulation and deliverance as the world spins on its fatal course, State after State, nation upon nation, festering in disfaith, murdering morals as if there were a moral crusade, to delete them, extolling man, blathering of his powers and prospects, ignoring God, stealing HIS property, assigning to tribes, claiming it for man, engaging indeed in such antics that it is like an army on the rampage, keeping ranks as it devastates.
There are causes and there are consequences: it is purely mercy that the motion is not strictly linear, where divine patience intervenes. Nor are specific people in all cases to be taken as the individual butts for wrong doing as you see not only in Job (where the case was NOT wrong doing, but testing), and in the man born blind (John 9:3), whether it was not a case either of himself or his family; but there is something of which, more broadly, it WAS a case.
Consequential ? you ask, on what ? Why of course, on sin. But you might say, What of Job ? his sufferings were for a test, to glorify God, to show the reality of love and faith and that they are emphatically not subtle forms of self-serving manipulation. This latter point is of course true (see concerning Job, Trials, Tests and Triumphs in Temptation); but what is implied ?
NOT ALL suffering comes because of special sins at a special season in a special age, it is true. But it is equally true that ALL sufferings come from the realm and regime, the disposition and the dealings of sin*A, in this: that where no sin is, in the system or the individual, nor is there suffering. This is accordingly the position after this universe is dispersed, for His people (Revelation 21:4,8,27, 22:14-15; Genesis 3:14-15, Romans 8:19-23, Isaiah 48:17ff.).
Where sin is, suffering is. It may be vicarious, victorious, as with the ransoming Redeemer. It may be to keep one humble as with Paul in II Corinthians 12:7-10); it may be to demonstrate the love of Christ (as in Colossians 1:24 with I Corinthians 4:9ff., II Cor. 4, 6); but it is there, wrought and available whether as in a storehouse for salvation, in Christ, or taught and used in moulding, as in a spiritual beauty shop, a divine exclamation, intimation, or indeed, as a plain curse on contempt of the Lord.
This world is a sin-system. It is not ONLY that. It is ALWAYS that, however, since the Fall (cf. Romans 5). It looks like, smells like it, acts like, talks like it, whether now with specious sanctimony, as when a pseudo-Christian government is in power, or with spectacular loathing for righteousness. Such things happen OFTEN and even in this country, and even in governmental circles, as when perversion in sex is described as if a sacred human site, and to seek deliverance from it were an assault on humanity, perhaps to be compared in quality at least, with the works of dear Adolf, that waster of flesh, in Jewish extermination camps.
In all these things, God and mankind in its generic disposition, are at odds ? nay, at war. Consider Sodom and Gomorrah: the Lord determined on their destruction with sombre gravity and enormous weight (Genesis 19:13,14,22,29). Here you also see in the case of Lot, the extraordinary steps made to differentiate him from the ways and destiny of the city in which he had dwelt. Jude 7 speaks of such cities as "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire", because of their sexual immorality and in particular 'strange flesh'. Some are appalled at the thought of making it a moral duty to avoid anti-design, anti-reproductive, contra-gender sexual activity, and are ready, it seems, to persecute those who follow the Bible and physiology in this. Mob rule by legal means soon becomes popular and if so, this is but a short step not to some one calamity, but to something more!
LOOKING AT THE WORD OF GOD IN AMOS
In the passages cited with Amos 4 a leader, above, there is clear evidence of much. First as in Romans 6:23, the wages of sin, in general terms, are to be found in the package called death. This involves suffering in essence. In Romans 8, we learn that this present world has been subjected to vanity, to what is light and ephemeral, a void in the midst of security, certainty and holiness, BECAUSE of the all sinners situation of mankind in this world. Thus the writhing and torment which is one of the occurrences often found in nature (as distinct from the sacrifice and care often found also), is attributed to sin, in the round. A sinful domain has many correctives; pollution of the environment is one element, wrought by man, and degradation of the surrounds, is another, wrought by God, and again, degradation and spoliation of mankind, distorted image bearers of God by such means, this brings degradation of society, the psyche and the very soul of man.
It is not chance which embraces the hurricanes, as if the unfettered action of the earth were king. . Calamities are also from the Lord (Isaiah 45:6-7). At times He restrains, or accentuates; but it is His own affair.
The matter is further interpreted in Amos 7, where punishments are considered as options, but finally, as the prophet pleads with God not to impart grave punishments on a recklessly rebellious people (like our own nation at the national level, like that of the US and many another), the point is made. God acts decisively to make His point.
How is this done ? In the vision, He takes a plumb-line and measures the uprightness (or otherwise) of the wall standing for the nation. It is NOT UPRIGHT. Therefore, given time, given many pleas and opportunities, exhortations and appeals, ignored or heeded for a time and then dismissed, there is only one result. "I will not pass by them any more" - Amos 7:8.
Repairs of ruptures have their day. Devastation is another ward of the state ... of such a case.
As clearly, although by wholly different means, as in the case of a physics experiment, the reality obtrudes. If it be so, so it is. If the morality and spirituality is not merely in abeyance, but other gods are impudently sought, reverenced or worshipped (as in Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 14), including idols in the heart in the latter case, and pseudo-gods, alleged repositories of final power: then the dissolution of the ties to the Lord of life, the distortion of the realities of life, of the necessities of worship ARIGHT in such beings as we are, made and wrought in the image of God, can be as readily dispensed with as can food for the starving or oil for the engine of your car.
You CAN do and it WILL do it, you can fail to feed, to lubricate. It is not impossible, but short of a miracle, the results in the end, are sure. In the case of persons, there between sin and judgment, a whole realm, a hopeful interval. In it are the workings of love, of appeal, exhortation and above all, there is the work of that tragic triumph of the crucifixion of Christ as the sin-bearer apt to cover ALL who come to Him in faith, trusting in the power of God both to do all needed through Him, and in the resurrection that restores eternal life to outward form (Romans 10:9, Luke 24).
When however this is passed by, justice remains, just as cinders remained at Nagasaki, and spoiled bodies in World War I.
SPEAKING WITH CARE
with Biblical Confidence and Restraint
To be too specific, when one is not a prophet of the Old Testament (the New Testament being the word of God in its finale for the Age, there is no room for prophets of that character in this Age - as in I Corinthians 14:29, they can correct each other and so forth), then it can readily be presumption to itemise the SPECIFIC sins which have 'caused' a given catastrophe.
On the other hand, that infanticide in certain forms of abortion, is contrary to grace, mercy and peace, is just as clear as it is that putting our children through the fires (modern type - college training in naturalistic myth with no provision for refutation or parity for presentation - straight indoctrination contrary to reason*1), THIS is molestation of mind and spirit. ANY SUCH things are on the sin list, and the caricature or cavil list, on the rebellion account, removes nothing in truth, even if it acts as a sedative to the soul exploring damnation as an avenue of action.
In particular, bad ways bring bad days; bad principles evoke shameless action, amoral training instils enormities as common. There is a certain promiscuity which amoral attitudes to sexuality induce, as when in Britain, we find that the 'father' of a child in the bosom of a girl of tender 'teens, may NOT after all be a 13 year old but a 14 year old or a 15 or 16 year old, the case needing perhaps a genetic check.
They are not TOLD in instruction, what is there at the gross and physical level, but morality and design, reason and righteousness are as welcome in such classes for children as are bush fires for adults. Children, youth in various education programs, ARE told about their relative autonomy, about personal beliefs and feelings and fulfilment and the absence of any objective ground for specific restraint, other than problems that may arise physically, or socially. Even here, there is the realm of private discovery. Virtually trackless desert invites land cruisers. Results accrue.
When a society indulges in almost every kind of rebellion, caricature, distortion, slander of the Lord and of His word, seeking indeed not to express but as here, to repress it, even though it is demonstrably the only rationally defensible, objectively verifiable and uniquely indefeasible word from God to man, then there are, must be, and will be results (cf. SMR Ch. 4, and *4 and *5 below).
In some cases, the Lord may appeal for long, use prophets (of the New Testament type), preachers and teachers, statesmen and examples, challenges and reasons for the faith, supplications and spread-sheets of causes for calamity as man mistreats man and youth alike; and the time may not be short. In the end, however, it is an inter-personal matter, and the Lord who knows all, selects the modes of persuasion and redress, having already paid to the uttermost for the reconstitution of this race, those who seek Him and receive His salvation, that is, of some within it, whoever comes. This He does by the substitutionary atonement of the death of His only begotten Son, incorporated in flesh, incarcerated by man, killed and hated by those whom He helped, raised from the grave in power over death and presented to this world as its only hope and necessary salvation (Acts 4:11-12, 17:31, II Corinthians 5:9ff.).
In every case, sow the wind and reap the whirl-wind, here is a principle to ponder, if you persist. There is not only confrontation with what you are doing, for there is ESCALATION, as normal when designs are abused ruthlessly and long, whether in this case, those of the body, the mind or the spirit. If you WILL not heed this and that index and warning, intimation and event (the PRECISE CASE in Amos 4), then the final word then as now is this: "Prepare to meet your God!" (Amos 4:12). Pharaoh found this out in a series of events to match his provocatively deceptive, blustering, opinionated, mock-majestic self. Indeed, so great was his folly, that God used it as a harp on which to play, in order to show once and for all what hardness of heart, of conscience and weakness of character and self-control, inveterate unbelief in ones Maker and Saviour, can induce and at last, produce! (cf. Romans 9:17ff., with 9:22).
Unbelief has as little effect in dismissing Him as in removing the first law of thermodynamics. What is, is. Believing this or that about it changes YOU, and impacts on others perhaps; but it does not alter the thing you have disbelieved in. Disbelieving in salt damp does not restore your buildings, in violence does not eliminate thugs, or in God distress His deity!
As to this last, it may INDUCE punishment, humiliation, catastrophe in advanced cases; but it does not delete the God who is there (cf. Zechariah 9:7).
A person, whether merely confused or a positive free-wheeler, non-God dealer is not going to change the environment of truth by doubting it. As in all life, the PRACTICAL side of things it is impossible to ignore. Thus to many, this must be said: You can think what you like (as far as you are able), but remember that God has the same privilege, and His is all power and wisdom, so that mankind at his heights with thousands at work and accumulated knowledge from centuries of investigation on his side, cannot even (and this literally) BEGIN to parallel the divine exploits in making the body, mind and spirit of man, far less putting them into one staggeringly able synthesis.
God thinks what is wise, and good. If man likes to imagine that 'chance'*1A, a mere name for the labours of any investigable system which is not being subjected to personalised or purposive intrusion, as it works out what is in it in the first place, as all there is in form and function for current action: then so be it. By no chance however will he be admitted into the kingdom of heaven, where the Lord who informed all forms and conformed all laws by the power apt for such products, uses His people advisedly, except he repent.
DIVINE LONGSUFFERING IS NOT LANGUIDITY
God may be most longsuffering, but not languid is He. He will act concerning various examples as He chooses. Indeed, we are capable of irony; we got that ability from the Lord! On this, please read Matthew 23! Our little wits who like to parade their tiny, tinny non-wisdoms as they seek to parade God before their scorn, they too suffer the irony. Bernard Shaw did not arouse the Lord to excitement when he challenged Him to strike him dead within several minutes; but when in his nineties, having written Man and Superman, Shaw came to the end, and was not at all proceeding to live forever, the author of such dreams was cut down to the SAME size as the rest.
'Chance' then is an expression of non-intervention within a system; but it provides nothing for the making of it. For that you need what is good at making systematic conceptions and impacts and inter-relationships: which assuredly is neither nothing nor anything inchoate and incapable. Capacity for systematic conceptualisation lies in what is systematically conceived. These parameters are a reflection of conception, and not an artifact of the irrelevant.
Universes of action and function do not happen; they are drafted from sufficient causes, and they function as made and built. Nothing can make nothing of man; and man can make nothing of this, by mere wilful profusion of confusion (Romans 1:17ff.), while his eminent futility in handling the ultimate and intimate problems and issues of life has become more like a charade than ever, a comic series of episodes, not explosive however with mirth, but alight like a fire, with tragedy, while the leaders grimace amid their gamut of grime, and expound in the midst of their mischief. Increasingly, they watch events, while plots hatch.
Some imagine they are gods, but in Ezekiel 2:9, the Lord asks, "Will you still say you are gods when I slay you!" Again, we read in Amos 3:6, "Is there calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it ?"
The portent is this: that the Lord has ULTIMATE CONTROL, and whether as in Psalm 1, the person or entity walks contrary to the Lord, or not, there is a difference. The LORD KNOWS the path of the righteous (though He elect as with Paul, many sufferings in the completion of his godly task to bring the love, power and mercy through the Gospel to mankind - I Cor. 4:9ff., II Cor. 6:4ff., 11:22ff.); but the way of the ungodly is divinely detailed as like chaff. It is ready to be blown by the wind. It may not appear so at first (as in Psalm 73), but that is its STATUS and its STANDING, that is, to fall.
Whether the Lord simply allows the ingredients of a sinful situation (and there is no man who is without sin, though some wallow in it and some are delivered from its sovereignty*2) categorically to explode into being, so that many suffer for their follies, from within themselves and what they create, or actively pursues a punishment (as in Jeremiah 37:10, Ezekiel 21): there is, with vast divine discretion, an ultimate resolution in His counsel before whatever happens can do so (Ephesians 1:11, Psalm 115, Isaiah 44-46). Merely to let the wounded minds, soiled spirits, misled hearts and mistaught children and youth grow into the deformities into which they are twisted in false teaching schools, colleges and universities, this is its own*2A Hiroshima; but when judgment joins in, then Nagasaki may ensue as well.
Slain babes, slain youth, each in different ways, it is not a good introduction to slain family mores, induced births into unreal realms through fantasising savants, sexual disorientation, persecution of righteousness, unqualified apology for what has been in no small part good, litanies of blasphemy about original owners of land and possessors of it, as if tribes were god, and occupancy were production: these things are a bundle in this land, and it is heavier than gold, and worthless by contrast. Even now, there is play with the concept of excluding from legitimacy on the Web, what deeply stirs at moral, domestic, religious and other levels, so that the truth, which has a special proclivity to hurt where it is harassed and exposed, may be dumbed.
Is this a land to be forever void of calamity ? It is one which by enormous grace has not become one! This is by no means to ignore the vast terrains of good things, care for the infirm and aged, desire for a fair go, efforts to assuage tragedy; but just as a murderer is not thereby innocent, because he loves his family, so here.
As to the occasion for and worse still, execution of calamity when it must come (and certainly it is not ALWAYS a direct result of a particular sin or preceding situation, just past), consider Ezekiel.
Indeed, so pointed is the passage in Ezekiel 21, that a part of it is given below for reflection! Note the red passages, colour added for attention.
‘A sword, a sword is sharpened
And also polished!
Sharpened to make a dreadful slaughter,
Polished to flash like lightning!
Should we then make mirth?
It despises the scepter of My son,
As it does all wood.
And He has given it to be polished,
That it may be handled;
This sword is sharpened, and it is polished
To be given into the hand of the slayer.’
"Cry and wail, son of man;
For it will be against My people,
Against all the princes of Israel.
Terrors including the sword will be against My people;
Therefore strike your thigh;
Because it is a testing,
And what if the sword despises even the scepter?
The scepter shall be no more,"
says the Lord God.
"You therefore, son of man, prophesy,
And strike your hands together.
The third time let the sword do double damage.
It is the sword that slays,
The sword that slays the great men,
That enters their private chambers.
I have set the point of the sword against all their gates,
That the heart may melt and many may stumble.
Ah! It is made bright;
It is grasped for slaughter:
"Swords at the ready!
Set your blade!
Wherever your edge is ordered!
I also will beat My fists together,
And I will cause My fury to rest;
I, the Lord, have spoken."
"The word of the Lord came to me again, saying:
'And son of man, appoint for yourself two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to go; both of them shall go from the same land.
'Make a sign; put it at the head of the road to the city.
'Appoint a road for the sword
to go to Rabbah of the Ammonites,
and to Judah, into fortified Jerusalem.
"For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the road,
at the fork of the two roads,
to use divination:
he shakes the arrows, he consults the images, he looks at the liver.
In his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem:
to set up battering rams,
to call for a slaughter,
to lift the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates,
to heap up a siege mound, and to build a wall.
"And it will be to them like a false divination
in the eyes of those who have sworn oaths
with them; but he will bring their iniquity to remembrance, that they may be taken.
"Therefore thus says the Lord God:
‘Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered,
in that your transgressions are uncovered,
so that in all your doings your sins appear-
because you have come to remembrance,
you shall be taken in hand.
Now to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel,
whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end,
thus says the Lord God:
'Remove the turban, and take off the crown;
Nothing shall remain the same.
Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted.
I will make it overthrown!
It shall be no longer,
Until He comes whose right it is,
And I will give it to Him.' "
The kingdom of Christ will indeed be shown empirically as the ONLY one that man can manage, and that can manage man, for it is founded on truth, love, mercy, faith, atonement, sacrifice, pardon, its foundation righteousness and its dynamic is peace (cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 3). “Righteousness and justice are the habitation of Thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before Thy Face” – Psalm 89:14. Again, Hebrews 12:28: “Therefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”
Now in all of this, you see first of all, the sovereignty of God. He uses what is made, he allows it to form and to formulate, to act and to register, to use particulars and to make decisions; but at HIS option, He can turn a thought this way or that in the mind of a malefactor, a prince, an invader. At such time as HIS determination is resolved, in cases such as that one here cited by the prophet, where there lies inveterate rebellion, amoral immorality, a sort of passion for the improper, vested in a self-vaunting, self-arrogating race, deft to defy Him, delirious in follies, then He is able and may be willing to sharpen the swords and to ensure the result.
Note however, that just as in the case of Ahaz, as in Chapter 2 above, there is a wonder of opportunity to ESCAPE all of this, for us (cf. Hebrews 6:19). Where ? It is in Christ and His New Covenant (where the crucial ingredient not the FACT of suffering but its penal, vicarious character, as He was involved in what was not merely demeaning, in having man's body placed at the mercy of mere metal in the arms of some slaughterer, but evil, as if an exposition of man's own evil in his mode of removing his Saviour).
That God planned it this way did less than nothing to exculpate the exponents of such ferocity; but it did cause this unholy lust of religious and civil folly to bring about the place of pardon from not only such madness as this, but all the sins of the human race. This, however, it is a matte of one by one, and reception by faith, in repentance, with the regeneration of the heart of each one who so comes (cf. Hebrews 8:7ff., John 3).
This is the GENERIC recipe for deliverance from mere engulfment in evil; but in the meantime, while millions avoid it, and governments increasingly abort it, there is always the question of what a given land may suffer; and what its neighbour may find even worse! Thus select areas of a select State may be devastated, if the Lord so will, because select areas of spirit of His people in that State have been devastated, not simply by one thing or act, but by a nexus, a network of evil, wrought in folly over decades, countenanced as if good, sustained in horror, implemented with relish.
It is as unwise to dismiss such a case as it is to be too sure of any one basis. Victoria, alas, has had its recent exploits, but even so, while these may have contributed, the point is not this or that: it is the NATURE of the human case and of the history of a people, and their various devices, deviations and resistances to correction which comes into view; as well as testing on occasion. Reading too much into a given case is as perilous as dismissing the WHOLE case which lurks*2B. Amos 4 is an outstanding example of BOTH these aspects.
What then when man asks for it, in a State, nation or individual or family life ? God may elect to let it prosper for a time, a fool's paradise, but in the end, there is an answer.
Whether there be fires or earthquakes, smoulderings or incinerations, losses or horrendous lootings, there are the two types of results that are IN LINE TO COME.
1) One is the ordinary result of such abortions of human responsibility to God and to one another, and
2) the other is the spiritual impact of the Almighty when He judges the time ready
(as He did after some 400 years after His talk to Abraham, as in Genesis 15),
for specific and even directed action. In that case, that of Canaan,
as Ras Shamra shows, it was against a depraved people, and this was a ground for His election of Israel to enter that land in His name with power,
so that His name might be brought to mankind afresh (cf. Isaiah 43:21).
Centuries passed without redress, and in the end, an invasion entered.
Many are the depths, indeed the depth of the Almighty is infinite; and just as it can indeed be presumptuous to SELECT some one sin as THE CAUSE of some calamity, so it is blind to imagine and even conclude that sin has nothing to do with calamity. In the case of Hezekiah, IF THE KING HAD NOT SOUGHT THE LORD (whatever the people were doing, and they were tending to follow him at that point), then indeed the result might have been as Sennacherib of Assyria boastingly and self-vauntingly proclaimed. Catastrophe might have flown in like an air force armada, but in some form apt for the day.
It did not: God in His mercy was sought as by many at Dunkirk.
Judgments may be voided or avoided in honesty in heart seeking of the Lord (as in Psalm 145:18 in contrast to the ineffectual mode, as in Hosea 7:13-14 where a delivered nation serves form and not the factual deity). Indeed, Jeremiah 5 shows how concerned the Lord is, and how graciously inclined.
Scurrilous aggravation of the case, however, by neither seeking mercy nor trusting in the Lord, or even condoning the multitudes of evils wrought in a land, this tends in the opposite direction. God assesses (Psalm 11); and though intensely and intensively merciful (as in Micah 7:19ff.), He knows when the time for judgment can be avoided only by worse results yet. He knows when to act. He also knows when to allow a result of natural follies to simply occur in terms of the case; and at times, this can be the most devastating of all, as when a 'teenager WILL NOT stop smoking, and in his sixties, dies of lung cancer.
In the case of God-mocking Sennacherib, King of invading Assyria, what then happened when King Hezekiah in the most intense and unambiguous way sought the Lord and His intervention in mercy ? What was the result when the land was at last being corrected with zeal, and the King rounding on evil, wrought much good in sincerity and seeking of the Lord on behalf of the nation ? This: Jerusalem was delivered by a narrow but decisive margin (reminiscent of Dunkirk). There was another result.
The arrogant king Sennacherib of Assyria, gigantesque ruler of a giant Empire, who had made fun of Judah and of Jerusalem, as if these had been some piece of clay before him and his gods or power or wit or anything else thrown into the pride vitamiser for taste, what did he find ? He found this, as did Hitler in his Berlin bunker near the end: he suffered his ironies in reverse. He who ridiculed, was ridiculed by the Lord, first in word, and then in deed (as in Isaiah 37). He was even likened to a bull being led away by a ring in its nose BEFORE GOD DID IT (Isaiah 37:22-29), and caused his army to be slaughtered. Archeology is not silent on this; and it indeed happened. Later his own sons slew this braggart, this nationalistic, imperial, humility-sedated man who would die, as he was born, without power.
THE LESSON IS SIMPLE
The lesson is simple: stop sin and seek the Lord. Better: repent and seek the Lord, be restored to His intimacy, if you are backsliding. Better find His face by calling on His name, if you do not know Him, and leaving the management of a world sodden in sin, to Him, while joining with those who abide in Christ and in His word, and in whom the word of Christ in turn abides (as in John 15), when great is the peace and the provision (cf. Psalm 119:165). This is not to be indolent or sybaritic, but to be sent in the service of the God of all comfort and mercy. Mock Him by ignoring, gainsaying, being contrary or indolent about Him ? Yes, you can. That assists calamity, in the long run. God is patient, but considers, tries (Psalm 11) and knows the ways of mankind.
Worship Him in the beauty of holiness; then when all these calamities are past, you will at least have been sparing in the case of what impels disaster, and may intercede for the prevention of disaster, as did good King Hezekiah, a lover of mercy and great dispenser of the same. Moreover, eternal life (as in I John 1, John 5:24, Revelation 21-22) is a resource for man from the Resource who made him, and being freely despatched to faith in Christ as its object, the crucified, fully redeeming, freely conferring Christ of the New Covenant, it gives to those who so receive Him, what our life requires (I John 1:1-8).
It is harrowed without it, bereft in secession from the Saviour, truncated without truth, wandering without meaning. Man without eternal life is unnatural, for our nature was made both by and for Him; and when He finds His child, then what is the normative path for life is found, and the tyres no more strain sideways because of misalignment, against the road of life. Here is peace not from pills which stultify, but from truth which fulfils man as an operative being, indeed, marvel of marvels, a child of God (as in I John 3).
Such a Father as this and such a Saviour as Christ Jesus the Lord, and a Spirit, with the Holy Spirit who so acts in inducing communion with Him, it is the point of life, without which there is abortion outside the womb of flesh, one of the spirit. Within it, there lies life that does not end, where it is meant to be, to do what it is designed to do, and that, because of love, do so freely (*3).
Not as a citizen of this world is one wise to remain, but as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven (Philippians 3:220-21), where resurrection is the other natural norm, where God who in power made man, in power restores to him the means of life in eternity (as in II Corinthians 5, I Cor. 15, Luke 24, I John 3). Thus the pangs of fitful ever-changing, futile and frustrated philosophy (Colossians 2:8 cf. SMR Ch. 3) are replaced by the sharpness of truth, where all is harmonious in the beauty of holiness, where attestation is unique, verification unending and truth the beauty of the land, as when a sunset caresses all and puts its glow over all*4 .
It is great to be able to praise what is infinitely worthy, and to worship what is both true and good without limit: it is satisfying to find and glorious to abide there, and when it is one's own Creator and Redeemer, it is moreover, so very personal! Thus does one praise God, superb, supreme, glorious in intimacy, mighty in power, chaste in love, beautiful in holiness, doing wonders.
As persons, we naturally or normatively love to be regarded, surveyed, treated, understood as persons, and when the Person who made persons does this, it is like the soft breeze of Summer, by the blue waters of a sparkling lake, and there is a profundity which blesses the soul, vitalises the mind and brings a spiritual soughing as of waters with their waves and pines, to the spirit.
PERSPECTIVE ALWAYS HELPS
Thus, the answer to the question, Who is to blame for the fires ? Having in mind the Victorian, February 2009 case, one finds from the word of God that there are many answers, supplementary to one another.
First, sin as such is to blame. The entire human race has one great thing in common other than its manufacturing image-bearing of God: it is sin. NOT ONE of its members is anywhere near the moral splendour, spiritual beauty and wisdom with understanding, of infinite and Almighty God. All fall short. All have sinned in this way, in that: in arrogance, in timidity, in self-preservation instead of godly sacrifice, in silly sacrifice instead of noble endurance, in short-temper or plain indulgence, to the self or the children or others, in ignoring God, or putting 'him' (in thought) on a leash, like a dog, to be welcomed ONLY IF and PROVIDED THAT he gives a net boost to one's own thoughts, desires and designs. These would make a sort of spiritual prostitute out of God and the unhallowed unholiness of all such manipulative self-regard is stupendously horrid, a divorce with venom, the venom deemed a virtue in many cases.
Sin is like an anti-glow around an oblate spheroid, and in this case, the latter is this earth, this world, this creation. Its lashings have been tempered; but as in Revelation 6ff., there is more to come. Shock sometimes awakens some; truth is not dimmed by blindness, which must be removed if man is to find his destiny of spirit, as graciously enabled and provided.
Next in line for blame, then, there is refusal to be redeemed. This aggravates sin to the uttermost, as in a case where someone suffering burns deems it, for instance, insulting to be told of the burns, and steadfastly goes around with ultra-sensitivity and minimal grace as a result, never receiving the therapy needed, and always a nuisance as a result.
Next again, as we have seen earlier, is the slandering of God, in allowing it to appear or even invoking the thought that - He is cruel, as if sin were His and not ours; and this even when He has picked up the tab for it by becoming one of us in form, so that He might do so.
Here in ingratitude to the uttermost degree: and this while self-regard, self-respect, self-image and such deviating devices are all in such a turmoil of anti-truth and imaginary centrality to one's thoughts, that it is hard to imagine HOW He does not terminate the race at once. It is hard, except for the thought that He is both wise and patient, and the uttermost in taunting and vaunting on the part of man does not pierce His armour of love and desire for man, by which He pursues His original plan to the uttermost until evil has had its little say and day, and lying prostrate under the burdens of its own illusions, declares and even intimates for all time, its futility, vanity and obfuscatory evasions (cf. Hosea 7:15-16).
What eternity knows, what the Lord discerns, then detailed laboratory work over the few millenia of man, with enormous clarity, discloses. Depictions no longer distort; and in the haven of His final consummation, truth is like a stamp on the forehead and a balm in the heart, as the light of it shines; and that light is Christ, who is also the Temple (as in Revelation 21-22).
To blame then, in a generic pattern, is sin, refusal to be delivered from its potency and pre-occupations with slander of God and indifference to His specifications, spiritual gifts and graces; and then after that ? To blame further are the particular provocations to what we ARE, by bad treatment of our own psyches and bodies and minds, filling all three with much junk, as a considerable racial feature, so that this is an apt formula for evils to DEVELOP in those same psyches, and in their social ramifications, being most congenial to the production of terrorists, whether the fire-bug type or the Islamic militant sort. Minds divorced from the word of God, become regions for infestation, like sky-scraper basements in New York, congenial to rats, and some large ones: for there they may hide and proliferate and develop bulk and flesh and contagious, infectious diseases.
Specific philosophic follies also bear part of the blame. When you urge people to look after number one, to ensure no one interferes with your own magnificent self-fulfilment, that the race invented itself by (in fact, on this model, magical) means and the point is to survive by any means to hand, so that the edge of development may continue; or imply this; or add pseudo-morals based on nothing that you produce and contrary to your own logic, why then of course, EVERY ONE WHO DOES THIS is part of the blame.
You are inculcating the irresponsible, militant, self-first, man-before-God, roll-your-own mentality (whether at the individual, social, national or international level) which stopping at nothing, stooping for nothing, invites everything to hit it. It is like trying to drive in the rain with a misted wind-screen, foot flat to the floor, in first gear, while consulting the wrong map and not looking at the road in any case, lest you should see anything which does not fit with your current whim.
This, moreover, is merely one example of the age-long follies of mankind, of being "dead in trespasses and sins", with the cord of connection to the God of human lives simply cut, many neither knowing nor having knowledge of their Maker, not even responding to His work. Thus have men in milling multitudes "walked according to the course of this world" with its pitiful placebos and militant martiality, personal and economic depressions and lilting flights of fancy, some controlling millions with what passes and becomes even ludicrous in recollection, massive masses of mankind following "the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience." All are prone to it; some are pardoned out of it and propelled into His kingdom (cf. Colossians 1:13).
In the magnificent cosmos of God, cursed indeed with the abuse of freedom initially (Romans 8:17ff., 5:1-12, Genesis 3) and with ever-increasing whine as of a dynamo without little control, man moves as if he were some prince, in order to oppress some and lift others, misled leaders inflicting passion on uneager recipients and seeking the control of thought or life with this or that marvellously inane concept.
So has much of the history of this race accrued, as man without God has sulked, spanked, splashed, tiraded, paraded, invaded: the pitiful horror this, that thus are they "strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2). Nor is this all; for moreover this is the divine diagnosis: mankind in the main thus moves with "the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart, and being past feeling". Thus attired, many have loitered in this or that locale, among the preferred premises of irrationality and self-willed behaviour, either or both.
Yes, though there is much to blame, the amazing thing is this: not that God allows catastrophe, but that He allows this race to continue. As II Peter 3:9 tells us, He is not slack concerning His return for the second phase of His Messiahship, but longsuffering, not willing that any should perish. While all are in sin, some are saved! The Gospel of grace moves to envelop the world (as intended by Christ and therefore done - Matthew 24:12), and many are those, though small in percentage, who are gained, like grain from an unwieldly and spoiled crop.
There is of course an end (Matthew 13:47ff.). It is near for this Age of mercy and grace, of Gospel pardon and preaching before He comes (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). While man tends to strut and pout and reject the truth and try to make new gods, virtual or actual, new 'powers' and 'principles' as if these things needed nothing to be brought into operation, and magic were their father, and cause and effect were in vain, and reason an error, and seeks to evade God these 6000 years or more: it is amazing that there have been such regularity and hope, such seasons and such rain, despite the many disruptions. On the whole, man has had a scenario of wonderful composition, while he acts in spiritual decomposition.
This is not in the slightest measure to detract from, but rather by contrast to highlight the wonders of works of faith through the name of Jesus Christ, in the day of His coming, since, and before in the name of the Lord who sent Him (as in Isaiah 48:16), all one glorious cloud of witnesses of divine power and human love, courage, tenacity of purpose and sacrificial love and purity of heart (Hebrews 11 lists a multitude of just such persons).
It is however not our present topic, but rather the question of calamity and blame.
There are then many causes, all moving back generically to sin, for this or any other catastrophe. What is the case in any particular instance will depend, as in any disturbance, on the particular causes as well as on the overall situation in terms of which it works. Provoking God as this nation has done with increasing unconcern, major churches departing from the Bible with evident relish, and major institutions dabbling in immorality as if it were a particular kind of ice-cream, and godless or idolatrising naturalists pushing educational follies at children, and even in this State, stifling their rights to answer and argue: this is one way to seek judgment of a particular kind, as Amos shows so very clearly. Chapter 4 in that prophecy takes you with the Lord's overview, in a step by step process which lays it before you in outline: you can even share in the shaping of the events which being so long called for, had at last to come, mercy set aside, pride inured (cf. Jeremiah 13:15ff.).
See in that passage in Jeremiah the pathos and the prompting from the Lord, the appeal and the kindly exhortation, the gravity of the offence and the grace of the offer: but also see the ravaging approach of judgment as folly raises its head to take a new sighting on some irrelevant target, urged by some foolish constraint, inert.
Ignore the smoking and don't worry about your lungs: you are ASKING for it!
Ignore the Lord, or distort His testimony, or leave it, or mock it and you are as one smoking in youth, incessantly; and there is an avenue straight to disaster.
Ignore the Lord in a land, increasingly secularise or idolatrise your ways, and there are going to be results both natural, in the degradation of your victims, the children mistaught, and very possibly in His time, supernaturally induced cf. Jeremiah 37:10). Meantime, there is an open door in seeking the Lord, rather than as in calamity, facing the challenge, "Meet Your God!" (last step, Amos 4:12).
How long the Lord tolerates such horror, is His business. This is the general case. Stop mockery and stop follies! this is the recommendation. Ignore God, attack His servants, give them years of expensive litigation for speaking the Gospel and applying its truths, spend tax money on anti-scientific, anti-biblical indoctrination*5, suppress scope for pursuing creationism and answers by reason to indoctrination, mock morality, purge the divine truth verified and vindicated ?
Do this ? What would you ? If God did nothing, many would mock Him. As it is, He is MOST restrained, for the evils go on every year and on millions, while the catastrophes are relatively rare! The scales are heavily laden ... try removing some of the weights.
*A An initial point ...
Let's look at it generically in the form of a graphic situation.
Suppose a car could choose. If it insisted on blighting the name of its manufacturer, and putting his instruction sheet to one side, crashed over a cliff: would it then be fitting for it to TELL him its terms!
God has told US HIS terms - repentance not more insults (cf. Jeremiah 2:35, Luke 13:1-3), acknowledgement of being sinners, not models, faith in Him not flitting - the model is spoiled and soiled. Where cars that sped foolishly over the cliff of contempt lie in ruins, pride of life is not only out of place; it is mockery of the truth.
Sin is national, international and personal, and calls names the God who gave it the power to act (if the choice was such); and He brings all things to the open light of common day, not in select philosophy but the testing and exposure of reality, where evil shows its face and people love it or leave it by the only route available, dealing with their Author direct.
Man in droves loves to mock.
When He exposes this world to just ruin, by nation or unit, it cries - Horror!
When He forbears, Where is He! they exclaim (cf. Malachi 2:17, Zephaniah 1:12).
It is time to receive Him, neither to ignore nor to act as if to deceive Him, an impossibility. There is no Other, and nothing can compare with Christ, the only Saviour (cf. Psalm 34:8).
Satanic Method and the Model of Salvation
The gods of naturalism have no go!
TMR Ch. 1
The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy
See on this topic, Ancient Words and Modern Events Chs. 7 and 9.
*2 See for example,
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 4,
Red Alert Ch. 7.
*2 See for example TMR Ch. 8, Beauty for Ashes Ch. 3 and Government Composite.
The acutely blasphemous and contentedly confused Russell Report has been a notable Victorian input (cf. Lead Us Not into Educational Temptation), and this type of philosophic folly is not uncommon, having had its representative or fellow in South Australia (cf. Government Composite, TMR Ch. 8). to the peril of this State. Here it is not only a matter of false religion presented as if educational theory, but of thousands of children being actively subverted by confused and self-contradictory religion, secular in appearance, but not in fact. Victoria is also notable for its anti-biblical thrust which was apparent earlier - and may be yet - in religious education in schools, a fact so obvious that one could not engage in it when a further opportunity arose some years ago: it would have constricted truth and excluded biblical testimony, by distorting and suppressing it by mere authority of the State.
The DANNY cases (see below), although not so unhappily concluded as begun, have also been a weighty matter as have been laws which would suppress truth in favour of feelings.
Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy Ch. 10 (freedom, force and faith),
FREEDOM document re Victorian pastors and deliverance;
The Face of God ... Ch. 6,
CLASSICATION BILL, News 145 (and reasonable adults ...), 156,
Secular Myths and Sacred Truth Ch. 6 (Victoria and Britain);
The Pride of Life ... Ch. 3 (democracy, freedom, force and truth in the nations),
Galloping Events Ch. 7,
esp. *2 - political, religious and educational liberty,
on which also see SMST 6, *7 and DIAMOND 10, (incl. Victoria),
together with JOY 2, SCOTU 42, OPENTOHIM 2 , LEAD;
and Staff Selection - cf. News 100, *1;
cf. SMST 8, BFA 3
cf. News 152, TMR 8, JOY 2, - freedom of speech
, and Australia.
While these things are not cited as the specifiable cause of this or that: they constitute in sum, with much else, what people must consider in estimating ways of relieving a State or nation, of an incubus not to be borne. Diseased distensions of State power, over time, affecting tens of thousands, these can lead to trouble for the legs that bear such a belly.
It is not only in financial affairs that one must be careful; for indeed there is much movement on that front; but little to rectify absurd prejudice and vast limits even to freedom of speech which in this country not only have come, but threaten both to decrease and demean the spiritual scope of this people, even becoming a minatory moment in our history: there is real menace, by fine, by emprisonment, by toils of law, by costs of legal action, by spurious accusations based on surreptitious State religion: to make truth a captive and reality hidden. There are worse fires even than those of the bush.
*3 EXCURSION ON LIBERTY AND LOVE, DESIRE AND DESTINY
Without freedom there can be no love, since what is controlled responds to control, and does not evoke a heart at liberty to assess and select on its own.
For freedom to be yours, you need not mere absence of control that coerces or directs you automatically by your very construction or situation, but the presence of a spirit which can soar and survey, understand and being above the heredity and environment of this world, act as it would. Submerged in self, as if this limit were some kind of liberty, without the perspective appropriate for a person in the image of God, instead merely following this flight of thought and that mode or mood, or narrow self-centred urging, yes or morally manufactured concepts, and this from a situation without God, or indeed even worse than this (Ephesians 2:2), the soul is like a harnessed horse, incapable of free action.
How then can love ever reach man ? How can God in love, as He declares (Colossians 1:19, Romans 5, I Timothy 2, Ezekiel 33:11) - wishing to have all people His own, through redemption by the Messiah - gain any freely, since they are in this state ? How can determinism, of mode, of heart, of memory, of education, of seared psyche or immersed mind, be escaped either FOR or BY man ? Only in one way can this be, in the end. When God, who as Christ displayed His heart (John 14:9, 10:30, 5:19ff., 8:58, Matthew 11:27, Hebrews 1), resolved who were to be His own, in the annals of eternity (Ephesians 1:4), and predestinated those whom He foreknew, NOT by their works (Romans 9:11; 8:29ff.), He was not different from what Christ displayed (as in Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff.).
That SAME LOVE was functionally present in foreknowledge and predestination, yearning, burning, and yet chaste (as was Christ, who for all His tears, seeing their refusal, brought out the terrible price they would pay for ignoring the day of opportunity).
Reality abides; it must be met. In pardon and peace or in pieces and pressures, it will be met. But what then of the love of God ?
Therefore His vast love was consonant with self-denial, in not simply selecting what He would like to satisfy this or that moral or ethical or aesthetic thrust. He was willing to find a negative. Few enter by the narrow gate (Matthew 7:15ff.). He did not dictate; He foreknew. ON THAT, predestination is based as in Romans 8:30. Hence BEYOND the limits of man's self, as if it chose for itself by itself (denied wholly in John 1:12), a self deprived of God and ready to be depraved in His absence so that the ultimate choice becomes a function of rust, negative in orientation or disposition IN KIND, God Himself meets the case. People are, when becoming Christians, born OF GOD as John declares and NOT of will or flesh.
Without such birth they deem things foolish in this sphere. BY this birth, they do not do so. IN this birth, it is God and not will which works it (as in John 15:16, Romans 9:16). Without such implementation, it could not be.
This, it is surely scarcely surprising, since He is dealing with a wilfully self-misusing creation. Many imagine that with this they may contradict (in effect) John 3:15ff., or Colossians 1:19ff., but it is neither sound, scriptural nor wise, neither humble nor hallowed to contradict ANY scripture, any part of the Bible; and rightly dividing it is assuredly not wrongly cutting out verses (II Timothy 2:15).
IN sovereignly acting, God is EXECUTING a decision from eternity IN WHICH the love in selection, in election, is precisely that which did not come to condemn the world, but that it might be saved, which wept over Jerusalem, which had sought it and desired it as a hen her chickens, and yet not finding, did not frog-march the souls concerned into a haven in heaven which would have been hell in their preference for darkness, the cited cause in the face of the love of God, of their spiritual demise as seen in John 3:19.
He with self-control, a chaste and non-violating love, chose His own as Ephesians 1:4 tells us, before creation so much as poked its head up from the pillows. As in all things, He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), needs no experiment, and performs precisely as stated. To add means not stated, whether in creation or regeneration, is merely to deny this, as if to make a shocking anthropomorphic folly; and such is theistic and such is progressive creation, soiling the spiritual realities of God with the elements of the curse.
Similarly, the effort to make the sovereign power of God in salvation to imply a crimping of His salvation desire for mankind (cf. Cascade ... Ch 9), is mere philosophic putsch, seeking take-over of the precisely contrary assertion of the Bible, one made multiply, allegorically, in principle and in practice.
On this, and relevant contexts from the Bible, see the following:
The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4,
Love is Purer ... Ch. 12
Outrageous Outages ... Ch. 9
Christ's Ineffable Peace and Grace Ch. 2,
Great Execrations ... , Chs. 7 and 9,
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth
Ch. 6, esp. *3
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3,
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 2,
Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Ch. 8,
Deity and Design ... Ch. 10
The predestination, the election by
God, it is BOTH sovereign and not at the disposal of human will, and in
HIS sovereign actions, worked in such a way that the will of man, past man's own
comprehension is the cited ground in the face of His amplitude of love, of the
constriction of which hell is the final outcome. IN LOVE, He predestinates, for
GOD IS LOVE! NOTHING contrary to it in its divine attributes and function CAN
EVER BE. Despite the excellence of Calvin's 5 points, the environment of terms
in which he nestles them is appalling (The Pride of Life ...
Ch. 7 cf. Love is Purer ...
Ch. 12, Christ's Ineffable Peace
Ch. 2, Tender Times .. Ch. 2,
*1, Outrageous Outages ...
As Spurgeon put it, to make less of
the love of God than this vast overflowing reality is a hideous caricature of it
Life Story ... Appendix 1).
It was NOT of the will of man, of blood or flesh, not of natural, far less naturalistic causes that those who come to Him through Christ, do so. They are born not of any of those things, but of God, we read in John 1:12. and this enables faith; for without this, as merely men, people deem these things foolishness as here (I Corinthians 2:14) and hence do not believe. Who believes, after all, what he deems to be foolish! As seen in SMR p. 476), faith and regeneration are simultaneous, the whole, the work of God (as precisely presented in Ephesians 2:8).
Thus the self of the psyche did not have to act within its own fallen and wholly inadequate parameters, and the Spirit of God could work beyond the self with a purity of love which selected in truth, from all fallen - for ALL are out, there not being some who are 'good' initially in our fallen state as shown in Romans 1-3, 6:23. Since the death of Christ on the Cross (I John 2:2) is ADEQUATE for all, offered to all, therefore there is no exclusion based on insufficiency of love, or knowledge, or heart, since all lack. The Spirit liberates, the blood pays.
What of the fact that ONLY those who are found are those for whom Christ is delivered up (in the sense that their sins are borne by Him, as distinct from a provision being made for application, as in the Old Testament sacrifices (cf. Romans 8:32, Deuteronomy 29:18ff.) ? This does nothing to militate against the scope of the love, but simply exhibits the extent of the foreknowledge, not based on works, of that God who IS love!
Released to find God, to be begotten again (John 3, I John 3), man is then in contact with His liberating agent, who is his GOD, and hence once more can soar with wings of understanding over the terrain before him, and understanding the love of God, can use it freely, things within now being wrought in the goodness of Him who lives in the Christian (Colossians 1:27). Thus, in loving another as friend or wife, associate, one can do so without the crimping, limping controls of flesh, fallen into separation that clips its wings and makes it near the earth of controls and pollutions.
What then ? Without freedom, there can be no love: programmatic impulsions are not love but constraint. With freedom, there is scope for love, when the being as in our own case, is made in the image of God, and so possesses powers of estimation, discrimination, alienation, and composition of heart, synthesis of thought and attraction of psyche, and to this is added, capacity to envisage the scope of being and its complement before the watchful eye of the Almighty. Then, equipped for its use and enabled in its function, man can love and so show more than kind-alliance: rather a massive mutuality with the fires of joy and the drawing of reality.
Only when GOD Himself, freely and without need, imparts His own love to what is wholly His product, so that beyond the sin of self and its limitations, there can be and is an understanding of reality, can love become both divine and sincere to an infinite degree, or if you prefer, wholly sincere and sure. Then man is enabled, by this divine prescience, not only to will as he will but to be as he will, and being it, to love being it, because to love God who is love, is an experience that makes the oceans shallows and the mountains but hills.
What then do we find ? For man to love God, there has to be something more than an expression of whatever the containing and contained psychic self may be, as a given thing; for then it is merely reaction or response of what is a GIVEN, not love, but impulsion. Without love, you cannot know God and when in this love, you love, this free and original pattern and plan of love, then it is God whom you must know for it to be. God IS love (I John 4:7), and without the original the copies are corrupt. The one who loves in this plane of God's divine gift, is born of God (I John 4:7).
When God therefore elects in love, then HIS love is fulfilled; and this love may be transmitted through those who love Him, therefore becoming aware of the nature of love, not as a self-sin-syndrome of unknown origin, but as a giving in devotion and a sacrificial delight in the good to the one loved and a drawing to mutuality because of estimation and understanding that attracts the spirit as to kin and the heart as to complement, and this as rightly seen. The understanding itself is then enlightened, and can be used, not as a throbbing motor grating out its existence, but as a smooth running artifact of God, equipped with a vigour that works at altitude in divinely accorded perspective (cf. Ephesians 2:6-7).
The love of God is likened in Ephesians 5 to the love in spiritual marriage. This is the source of love which is not convenience, conquest by charm, intimidation by lust, fulfilment of desire, but a kindling of heart and conscience and a fulfilling of spiritual principles implanted in man. Often and by natural degradation of the race, these suffer distortion; but made alive by God at conversion to Christ; all things become new (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), and it is this which can reach a special acme in the case of marriage, both for the spouse and for the children resulting. Many are the mercies and graces of God, and though man without Christ may be able in some measure to realise, being in the image of God however fallen, something of these things, yet they are as mist-filled valleys compared with the rightful presence of the divine light on the alpine heights of His self-revelation (John 8:12, Colossians 1:9, Ephesians 1:17-18).
The love of God TO man is not possessive, since He has no need, but it is expressive (cf. I Corinthians 13:5). It is not a narrowed expression of desire, but a broad expression of delight to seek and to find, and having found, to endue with blessings and grace interminable.
If man had to learn to love God without the ability to will as he will, but only to will as he does, then that would not be more than self-expression, the self being given. Thus the love being a dependency, would not be a pure expression of divinely given understanding, nor a function of liberty, being a mere fulfilment of what is so placed.
God short-circuits the sin problem which invents this mountain,
shifting it in Himself,
(that is the plan
of salvation, the action of it, the Person who does it,
being the payment for any, the cover
for any, the cost for all who come, a terminus for mere desire, and a focus for
faith to gain the desire of God, clean, pure, chaste and holy.
How different is unenlightened human love. It can decline as much else in man. Love by being what you are, is self-fulfilment, not devotion. For liberty, you need the love which is unselfish, true, linked to the One who is all-knowing, not limited by pathological conditions in the subject or the object, obfuscating its fulness; and that is precisely what in the Bible, in terms of its unique principles, you have. ONLY this can interpret and enable liberty, and SO enable love. Thus can man in reality love God, and not be some kind of puppet.
The love of God in addition, being shed abroad in the hearts of His redeemed (Romans 5:5), they these become not merely ABLE to act, but enthused and drawn to do so, as by a breeze, an insight and a leading (I John 4:7,9-10). This applies not only to friends and spouse, but in a generic of spirit, beyond that. It is what the world needs, tries repeatedly to counterfeit. You see examples in the flower power, love-in nonsense of the 1960s, or in a sedated substitute in so-called Christian socialism, where some principles may work without the centre in control of the people, or their hearts changed, so that you have a kind of rainbow without colour, with images painted on. From this, man is likely to be emerging only the more scarred. All forms without saving faith are mere mockeries of Christianity.
There is all manner of wonder in freedom and in love; but without God there is only a certain distortion, compression, entanglement which though it may have mutual satisfaction, clinging to its psychic conditions, travels on its set rails, and is a limping liberty and a limited love.
It is here, then, that predestination, responsibility, duty, liberty and love all have their housing; and nowhere else are the necessary conditions for such operational integrity to be found. In love, God predestines, in truth He foreknows (cf. Romans 8:29ff.).
From that love and in it, the people of God work, though many tares are in the midst of their crops. This world despises this, and therefore fails, falls and merges increasingly in its fouled environment of psyche, situation and memories. It falls as one old losing balance, and hitting the head on the posterior concrete, is stunned if not subdued. It inherits catastrophes. It continues in its ways. It pauses, it looks up obliquely, it shrugs, it continues.
It is sad. It is necessary to find the God of creation and salvation, and to walk in, with and for Him, where He may be found in Christ (Isaiah 55, John 14:6); and at that, not some manufactured Christ (II Corinthians 11), but the One indelibly and graphically, accurately and divinely recorded through the power of the Father who sent Him, in the Bible (cf. SMR Appendix C and D).
As man is marred in his own face, by his own sins, and by the divine correctives often found in catastrophes, though even these are so eminently restrained compared with the evils man does to his own race, he is increasingly left to his own devices. The divine healing purchased for giving freely at the Cross, the healing of heart and mind and soul, this is distanced while the whir and whine of misused 'engines' of life is heard departing into the gathering dust.
It is not tragic in whole; for many are they - though small in percentage - who availing themselves of this love and redemption, this deliverance to resurrection of the very body as with Christ, leave the acid residues of the cup of life, and drink fresh from the vitalities of the living God. They are patient in tribulation, rejoicing in hope (Romans 12:13) for even death does not quench love (Song of Solomon 8:7, Romans 8:36-39), and His wisdom and mercy, they trust . Nothing, says Paul, shall separate us who are His, from the love of God, be it past, future or impelling; and there lies comfort in the midst of disasters natural or unnatural, rocking nations or purging States, testing faith or arresting sight. The path is plain (John 14:1-12).
On the way, for the saints are many tribulations (Acts 14:22), for the whole world, increasingly inane, is becoming increasingly convulsed, and this will increase regionally, territorially and internationally as you read in Revelation 6ff..
Love not this world: it is on its way out, and as Paul declares, its form is passing away (I Corinthians 7:31).
If trials and fires face the people of God, let us seek His face and His will and way, for He is the God of all comfort. Freely loving Him, let us then freely trust in Him, who has made us His own children (I John 3, Ephesians 1:5). Not even fires can dissolve the seal that matters (Ephesians 1:13-14).
If however they face those who do not know Him, let this be to drive such, as forest creatures from the burning woods, to seek Him. None is forced to remain outside Him, and HIS sufferings who has made the consolation for all time, are so beyond any we may receive, that in His love we may with relish occupy ourselves, being patient in adversity knowing that the Lord is pitiful in the end, as Job found (1Behold, we count them happy which endure.
“Ye have heard
of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord;
that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).
Of the Lord, said Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!” Job of course had even more to learn in his anguish at that time, and it came with a beautiful wonder, as you read of it in Job 19:23-27 (cf. TRIALS, TESTS and TRIUMPHS in TEMPTATION - the book of Job).
See also, Pain, suffering, evil.
See for example:
LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST
WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES AND WHERE HE IS, DARKNESS DEPARTS
Satanic Method and the Model of Salvation,
TMR Ch. 1;
SMR pp.179ff., 485ff..