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PARTING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW
THE ONE TO WHOM ONE GOES
IS MOST SWEET
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
AND THIS PARTICULAR PASTOR –
Church Programs and
The WORD of GOD and the word of men
a time in the affairs of men, when the greater good becomes lesser, through
and the greatest good has to be sought direct,
that renewal may again come through that revival which only God can give.
Creation Contortions, Verbal Abortions
It is always sad when a liaison, a partnership, a junction of gifts and talents, purposes and desires between friends is lost. When it is in Christ, between those who profess to be members of His body, it can be acute. It is well to be sure that such parting is necessary. It must NEVER be because of suffering insult or cheek, injustice and the like, for the second cheek which adorns the face, is there for more than one purpose. If someone strikes the one, turn the other, said Christ.
However, when relationships become a formality, when function is disjoined and schism erupts like boils; then there has to be a spring cleaning, to ensure that what the mouth says, the heart confirms. In Its most basic form, the relationship is and has been as follows. Formality is never sufficient in spiritual things; and where do you find this more solemnly shown than in Isaiah 1, where what should have been the beauty of solemn ceremonies, being a mere parade and ostentation through lack of sincerity and performance, a lassitude and inanity combined, so that the words are not even expected to be DONE.
Worse comes, however, when the truth of the word of God is no longer adhered to, so that it becomes a sort of gymnasium for efforts of the flesh, to build itself up, as if what God said were a mere springboard for diving, or an airfield for taking off. Thus culture can so clamour that many in a Church become inured to truth, deceived and misled by lies often repeated, or intimidated by the spurious, because it is so furious in its constant propaganda. Thus where ancients might sometimes wonder why God could take so LONG as 6 days, in the brilliance of His power, not perceiving that the method is HIS, and the application for example to REST is His way of teaching, moderns frequently are not satisfied with the clearest possible intimations of how He created and begin to fossick and fumble with every sort of imaginable reconstruction, misconstruction, deconstruction to invent some other way and word. Let us look at one case.
The PC in America elected to solve a crisis in its faith testimony in the arena of creation*1.
There were many who believed that the creation was indubitably, scripturally defined as a matter of days, 6 of them, definable in the basic category of what the vocabulary drew on, in the normal parlance of day and night, morning and evening, light shining and not doing so, action and rest, so that the earth was moved into format, as so shown in Genesis, and the heavens, each in detail.
In fact, these come in two major divisions in the text, one after the other, the earth followed by the affairs of clarification and orientation, disposition and detail of purpose information as the heavens are moulded into operational felicity.
Just as there was here in the word of God, the vocabulary of ‘light’ and ‘darkness’, ‘morning and evening’, divine direction by word and creative response in material, mental and spiritual domains resulting, moving without intermission into the generations of man, named in individuality and reality in succeeding chapters of Genesis, so the preceding terminology was not intended to be diffuse, suggestive, misleading, or in the words of Proverbs 8:8, ‘froward’, that is: complex, contrived, ambiguous or a substitute of mystery for maestro*1A. In Genesis 1, in understandable terms, it is declared what God did in the beginning, using terms to be understood in relation to what IS, for it is to this that it moves in indubitable explanation, through the introduction of its creation.
Current terminology means what it now means, except to the extent the very action of institution, of creation, argues to the contrary. Thus the light source for Genesis 1:3 is not controlled in the way it later would be (as in v. 14), though it achieved an alternation; just as the earth source as in Genesis 1:2, is not formed as it would be, though earth it was, and it was there. Both require more work; but both are clearly there.
Thus it says in Genesis 2:1, "the heavens and the earth, and all the host of of them, were finished." It was not in some other way that the nomenclature and the referents were to be understood, for it was thus. It was not a parody or parable or metaphysical suggestion that was being placed in view, called into sight, presented for consideration or even contemplation.
It was in this way that they were created and finished. Next we find how man in particular had a setting for test and a failure for result, with consequences as stated. These were not an index to subjectivity, a wafting of poetic thought, but equally clear. Death was the term used, and exclusion from life as God made it was the conclusion of the matter. From the garden of test, they were summarily dismissed. Curse came upon their near creation, and toil and sorrow became their inheritance.
It was not that a metaphysical nuance would touch their poetic souls, or a metaphor would bruise their active thoughts; they would die. What their elemental 'life' was, the distinctive filament of spirit in flesh, this would die. Dismantled from divine dynamic within, man become a wanderer, amid a cursed world.
There were steps in the fulfilment, but the worst came first.
First it was a spiritual sundering from the pleasure and friendship of God, a spiritual death, then from the place of His testing in the beauty of His forethought for them, there came an environmental mortality (Romans 8:18-20); and then in a less and less unrestrained exposure to a certain wildness in life, there came an invention of evils and/or an exposure to vulnerabilities no longer precluded; and to this came the confrontation of an adversative mortality. Death in the most physical way, this was a conclusive terminus, even to the reluctant to understand. Death to civilisation followed in the Flood. Death to linguistic unity followed at Babel's sky-writing exercise of the soul (Genesis 11).
Moreover, just as they were given death, so their generations proceeded and in due course died; and indeed, what is more, just as the generation of the heavens and the earth had proceeded (Genesis 2:4), so did the generation of man proceed (Genesis 5:1 for example). The generation were first of all absolute, and then procreative. Both exposed creativity: the first in toto, the second in an enterprise given to man, the physical aspect of life which could be creative with more participation of understanding in mind and spirit.
To institute life, came one creative and divine act; to replicate life came numerous actions.
Each life-time in general was followed by a new generation, via pro-creation, given to man, and the generations of man followed in this way from the generation wrought by God to make man and all else besides him in heaven and earth.
In fact, the same word is used in the Hebrew text, in the plural, of the generation of the heaven and the earth, and of the procession of man in his generations. Means are provided as required in both; steps proceed in both; results accrue in both. One is more in the well-known, one in the less known, because never witnessed, though clearly depicted; and both are integral in the report by God, with common terminology. It is clear from Genesis 2:4 that God desired man to KNOW how he and the rest of the heaven-and-earth creation came about, so that with this background, he could gain true and just perspective on what he himself contributes by his own actions, and see them in the light of sin and death, and hope and promise, both (Genesis 3:3, 3:15).
We move in one integral summation from the word of God, referring to creation without form and void, its initial being as called into existence by divine fiat, to shaping of it, to light with morning and evening simply, and then on in v. 14 to shaping and forming it in its numerous functions more precisely, just as had been done with the earth side of things.
The institution of life,
moving to that of man, and on to the test for man, these followed in a
significant sequence, spiritually imposing, destiny disposing. We are not
students asked to
contribute our reactions to a play, and to consider how it might have been re-written. God is here Instructor, and we, if we are willing, the disciples. In the material creation, we move from its formlessness into the information given in command for its steps, just as we move from man and his call, his new condition and his actions, to his generations all from what the word of God provided as stated.
We proceed then as directed by the thought of God, the logos, the very word of God to our own receptivity of thought, as enabled by God in our invention and creation; and so we duly merge as we read further in Genesis, into the next developing theme of God dealing with the IMAGINATIONS of man's heart. As described above, these moved ... and indeed, they did so till they were always evil (Genesis 6).
It is thus, and not in some other way, that we come in this account of the nature of creation in general, man in particular, spirit in his life and destiny in God's dealing with him, to a massive further step. We travel to the non-poetical, non-metaphorical flood which with real water, and not suggestive dampness or emotional affliction, covered the earth. From this we come to God's institution of a regime for the residue of the creation of man (Genesis 9), who had been altogether too ready to misuse his imagination in order to create ideas and symbols, modes and manners to his own specification, dismissing the word of God to the regions of what does not matter, or does not mean what it says.
In short, man
then became as man now is becoming! It is much the same, the imaginations of his
heart cannot even manage to avoid invading the word of God by conspicuous
nonsense, as if man could tell a tale from the results of creation which would
enable him to psycho-analyse God and determine from finished products the mode
of their creation. They invent this that makes that, though it never does as
long as it is looked at; and that the other is the source of something else,
though the spawning, the dawning, the drawing boards are never to be found, nor
any such event is to be seen. This is the nativity of nature, so exposed that
the wind of reality never touches it, a puerile and putrid misconception which
some even try to intrude into the creation of the various parts, as if their
kind was something else! (cf. The gods of
naturalism have no go! and TMR
Ch. 1 in particular).
Thus man moves up to whisper in the ear of the Lord that the times really ought to be something else, and not parallel to our week with its day of rest at all; or that the days ought to be significant and not chronological, signifying what ? oh! anything that one happens to think of: it is a great case of producing the Drama of Deity, and creating quite a significantly different thing, more to the humour of the audience. And that ?
Why it is this present world, of which Paul declares this (I Corinthians 7:31): "For the form of this world is passing away." It rather reminds one of the last pope who not long before his death, deciding to announce a new discovery to which he had come, that Darwin was right: and this when after long decades the utter folly of his extravanganzas in extrapolation has become a source of utter divergence by such as Stephen Jay Gould and many more, who constructed various OTHER ideas in order to fill the gap. Since however the gap in Creation is God, just as the gap in having 'nature' make any other play, is the author of the thing, they never agree (cf. Wake Up World! ... Chs.4-6).
If there is one thing above almost everything else that all of this teaches, it is that the Creator has HIS OWN WAYS and WILL, and REQUIREMENTS, and that He performs not in millions of years or nano-seconds, but what He wills, how He wills, when He wills. Indeed, He does it in the way that He wills; and just as He commanded these things into existence by a sequence of thought and word and deed of His own, issuing in man with a sequence of thought and scope and will and communication and deed, both in making him and in telling him: so He commands man into the light of His word, by equally clear directives, not to be sublimated into structures of thought, but DONE in FACT, as was the creation.
All is presented as occurring PRECISELY as HE STATES, which is precisely as HE WILLS. Man can reconstruct his world or his thoughts as he will, but nothing changes here. Man can rebel, and has often done so, and almost extinguished his race once before in the process; and he now essays a parallel performance with all the gusto of dismissing the Flood as predicted, and asking for the fire, as that which is to come (Matthew 24:38ff., II Peter 3:1-5, 3:10ff.). But as in the crucifixion, he does not in the main, know what he is doing! He should LISTEN and not instruct God (cf. II Timothy 4:1-4, 3:1-5), with his myths made from ignorance, constantly changing, never founded or grounded in reality, but in the vaporous regions of the imagination.
Do not misunderstand. Imagination is good; and so is the enterprise and initiative of a developing 'teen-ager; but it must be set in its proper paths. Playing God with imagination, or playing maturity with immaturity is not an advanced phenomenon, except in the realms of pathology. It is necessary once more to listen ... to God when He speaks, and stop giving Him linguistic lessons (cf. Mark 7:7ff.).
The word of God has come from infinite expressive power, and stands unaltered every hour, millenium and Age. So man, invented, faced his tests of hope, which became performances of failure, and he entertained follies of presumption, leading into carnage of destruction, so that man, nearly blotted out, could be revived and given more opportunity as the day of the Messiah, in the fulness of time predicted by Daniel the prophet, eventually arrived (cf. Galatians 4, Luke 2, Daniel 9 ... Highway of Holiness Ch. 4).
But first let us follow a little further from the Flood itself. We move to the table of nations (Genesis 10), the movements of national and racial generations, genealogies, and this brings us past the diversification of language (which followed the diversification of earth, from blessed to cursed), so that man seeking to aspire to the heavens in his own reason and right, failed at the Babel enterprise, Genesis 11. He tried to reach to the heavens with his tower and inventive self-exaltation; but he merely descended into division of speech and dispersion. He never learns; only when redeemed, does he in repentance at last LISTEN. Thus the prophets so often cried: Hear the word of the Lord.
The point was as it is: to listen.
Man then became grandiose at Babel; but he could not unify himself into the worship of some invented object of thought, in some obscure way imagined in the heavens.Instead he had to fail in this Babel enterprise, immersed in his own idle thoughts, equally here as in earlier cases, and subsequent parallels. When it comes to God, we are to receive, not invent. Reason points us to God determinedly, but what is definitively known is as moulded into being by HIS MOUTH, in His word! (Romans 1).
Never does man, as a race, find this easy. So his dispersion continued apace, and though one race, yet in these divisions and diversions, he became multiplied in language as in ideas, as in delinquency as in confusion.
Then we meet, as we proceed in Genesis, in its magnificent, carefully expressed solemnities of process and procedure, after the beginning, what ? It is not some thought in an odyssey, upon which we come, it is not some racial epic as in the Nibelungenlied, nor Grecian drama as in the Iliad; but it is a man.
He is not equipped with flying feet like a Mercury, or pseudo-divinity, nor is he equipped with anything other than the features of man, called to God, to find and know Him, and to a mission of clear utterance, precise geographic notation and enduring blessing from the Almighty. These clear commands and directives, led this Abraham (Genesis 12ff.) to laborious journeying to the site indicated for the purpose detailed; and they were such that there would come not a shadow, not a suggestion, not a nuance nor a mystical experience, not a contrived epic: but history.
Its details have come in Israel, built to an Empire in the day of the Maccabees, not in a romance; and they have moved to the rejection of Christ on the Cross, not to a theological symbol, to the Son of God raised in His body from death with mutilation and incarceration. Thus WHAT WENT INTO the tomb as in I Cor. 15, is what came out, the one dead, the other raised to life.
It was NOT the poetry of Spring, enlivening the imagination, but a disappeared corpse, a man with feet to be held by the women who met Him as resurrected, a person with a mouth to eat, and a side to have fingers poked into.
God is not a wafter of sentiments, though He can and does show profound emotion and compassion: it is not as if poetry were His matrix and empty symbols were the stuff of His lyre. On the contrary, He is the Maker of heavens and earth, of matter and man, of life and legislation, of destiny to hell or to heaven; His is the incarnation of His eternal word and the elevation of that same One, rejected by Man, not first to the heavens, but first to a slight height, some few feet above the earth, where it is called the Place of the Skull. This picturesque work of the imagination of man was so arranged and organised that the lifeblood of the incarnate Messiah might drip slowly, oozing out, its physiological supply diminishing while the agony of heart was increasing, as sin was borne.
It was not a shadow of not so nice behaviour that was borne, a poetical flush of negativity. It was sin: false thoughts, actions, murders of truth and of its prophets, deletion of commands, inequities, iniquities, selfish flushes, persecutory passions, unjust seizures, monstrous callosities upon the heart, and these mixed with dabblings in word of God, as if to produce some verbal mutation. SIN He bore, all the follies of flesh, all of those wrought in and by and through those who received His ransom, redemption and sacrifice; and He actually took and BORE all of these.
Even so, He did not do so prodigally, though it was done prodigiously. ONLY those who came to Him had their sins borne and cancelled; for the offer if not received, with Himself as Saviour and Lord (for God IS Lord, say what you will, of life and love, truth and reality), leaves the sin where it is made, in MAN HIMSELF (as in John 8:24, Romans 8:32ff.). Without this repentance and submission (Luke 13:1ff., 14:27ff..), there is nothing effectually done or gained for those rejecting it; for it is then like a creation that did not happen. In this case, it is re-creation which is aborted.
We cannot undo the creation of heaven and earth and man, nor the declaration of the word of God concerning it either directly by scorning it, or indirectly by scouring it; but man can abort the potential of regeneration, the creation of new life which is achieved when he is transformed and re-attached to God (John 3:19). If he declines in heart to receive this Redeemer, then he declines in destiny to share himself with himself in contempt, a prodigally horrendous result! (cf. Proverbs 1!).
It is this which is fatal, failing to come, or the fiddling with the word of God, so that it is imagined (cf. II Corinthians 4, 11).
Does He really mean it ? they ask. Surely He does not REALLY mean heaven and earth, when He says so, or tell the steps when He declares them as the mode of His creation or re-creation. Whether for repentance and life eternal or for initial creation and human life with its open door of scope and test, does He really mean it all ? Such is the word of the wayward!
Perhaps he means that He so loved a few, and 'the world' is merely a funny way of putting it; or that He only did some of the things sequenced in Genesis, and had some other idea in reality! So the imaginations rove, first to this point, then to the next, as the default and defalcation proceeds. Let us tell God what we mean, and then He can adjust it somehow! It is what shall we say ? it is communal writing, yes the community of (some sort of) faith will meet together with the Creator and somehow make something satisfactory to all. Why worry about what is written, whether on the love of God who, in the very light of the Cross, who STATES He would have all reconciled whether in heaven or on earth (Col. 1:19ff.), to make this far less, or on the creation, to make it far other!
But let God be God and His word be what it is, as Paul declares in I Thessalonians 2:13, so that is received "not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe."
Let us then revert to Abraham in the salvation cycle. He was called and obeyed. That was the point. Things moved on in this way towards the great time when all nations would indeed be blessed through a descendant of his generation, who also would be Lord of creation (Genesis 12:1-3. We see from Genesis 3, that the subtle attractiveness of the procurer of evil, Satan, was to be overcome by One who would transcend mere man, being not merely not subject to the power of the evil one and the plight resulting, and hence without sin, but capable of summarily dismissing and dispensing with evil and the sin and penalty resulting with the very depth and spiritual dimensions of God. This was a work which only God could perform at the most primary of levels.
Moreover, as man was made in God's image, then nothing less than God could deliver him, whose image he distorted. Yet in so doing, the Lord Himself would bruise His heel, or in other words, He would suffer in the triumph, and be hurt in the deliverance for man.
From Abraham would come the 'seed', the human side which would provide the form and format for the purpose of blessing on a scale which paralleled that stated in Genesis 3, as is made more and more obvious as the Bible proceeds to add item to item, to the standing orders God gave.
What then of this Abraham ? As in all the rest, this very real man was called to a very real place for a very real and indeed specific purpose, one with steps on the way as detailed. It is is summed up in this foretold ONE who would become a blessing to all people, as from the first in Genesis 3. Here as noted, we found that A MAN would be used, a child of woman, to deal with the whole adversative power of the evil spirit who first deluded man (shown more fully in Hebrews 2, and in its sequences in Romans 5).
What then ? In so disposing of the work of the evil one, this Man with the innate power of God to overpower and overcome the utmost in resistance, would Himself be hurt! This was not to be a matter of bruised feelings, but of bruised heel, the mode of destruction being what suffered for the doing of it. It was not a concept but a condition, not a thought but a deed, not a consideration but a triumph in contest, with payment required for it.
Thus, being not oppressed and subjugated BY the devil, but rather and instead, through divine power and mission, equipped to oppress and terminate the historical work of this same devil, He would act, as in His own time (as in Galatians 4:4), precisely (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4). HOW this would be done, HOW someone could come who was not Himself racially demitted by the dynamic which surrounds man, but could arise above it as of stock untrodden, became clearer in stages, but it could never be MERELY human, nor less than deity, alone authority over all.
Thus blessing to all nations would come through Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), and the nature of the Messiah, the anointed, the appointed One, was to be shown by later prophets in vast detail.
What then ? Abraham, a man, become the stated progenitor (Genesis 12, 15, 17, 22), on the human side, in ways shown through the generations, of the One through whom ALL the race of mankind, now separated into language and racial bits, would be blessed. The only begotten Son of God would come through the womb of a descendant of Abraham.
Such was the divine commission. We then find the account of developments onward from Abraham as this promise came step by step, as stated and not as imagined, nearer and nearer till Christ strode upon this earth.
Immersed in realism, hiding nothing, showing sin and pardon, seeking and finding, through penalty and vexation, trials and patience, divine intervention and human suffering through the evils permitted, was the record, the account of those in the divine report as they proceeded. Here were to be recorded their trials, travails and tragedies, their follies and their inspiring conduct alike. It wasnot shrouded, but displayed.
There is nothing of poetry in it that is not so presented; and it is the work of the generations of the one in God's own image, following the generation of the heavens and the earth, in the THUS and it was so, expression. It continued to the Cross, when THUS IT WAS done, and indeed where Jesus Christ indicated that He MUST be taken by the guards who would lead Him eventually to the Cross, because SO IT IS WRITTEN that THUS IT MUST BE (Matthew 26:53-56).
All this, He declared, after reproving Peter for taking out his sword to defend Him, "was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." It was not some general idea of suffering; it was prison. It was not something mortifying that he suffered; it was death (cf. Isaiah 53).
He was taken to an imprisonment that might be imagined in various ways, where the singularity of human thought might rove or rave as the case might be; but it was in fact to an arrest precisely as described in what here as before, purports to be what happened in the normal sequence of declared events in a setting, stated and defined. To be sure, there have been all but endless accounts to make what is in the Bible from the very FIRST to the very LAST, to be other than God states. People must change the start or the finishing line, or the way to get there, or what happens when you do; but the word of God is not to be handled deceitfully (II Corinthians 4:1ff.), as if an incompetent journalistic apprentice could not make clear what He had in mind, and fouled it all up in slovenly thought. On the contrary, it is expressed in precise and consistent language with no suggestion of any other mode being chosen (Proverbs 8:8).
Such innovation is not the work of the God of creation, nor is such the mind of man through whom the Lord poured out these details, expressions of divine dynamic, performance, human assessment and solution with resolution, and indeed, the grounds for the same. Long before Moses, the most intensive work on commerce and mathematics was inscribed in the tablets of Ebla. Man did not lack power; he lacked will. God did not lack willingness; He spoke.
Thus, it was not in order to achieve some symmetry of words in a poem (cf. II Peter 1:16), some nuance of notation in some evaporative emotionalism: it was a matter of becoming definitively incarnate once for all, and of allowing man to take this Man (not a myth but a maestro, with heart beyond man) and seizing Him (not disliking Him), so that He was arrested (not put into some structural where declining favour wafted). Then after precise and decisive interrogation (not an interplay of floating ideas), He was taken to the Cross (not some noughts and crosses affair of mind, subject to varied interpretations), and died over some 6 hours (not 6 days or seconds). Where poetry and figure supervene, the good author does not fail to make it clear. The clarity and brevity of these reports is like the chiming of a bell, precise and decisive. .
It is all clear, specific and denoted in a way which from first to last, using terms of specified and never changed meaning, expresses the thoughts of God in the words of His mind, conveyed by His Spirit (I Corinthians 2:9ff., 14:37, I Peter 1:10ff., II Peter 1:19-21ff.), according to His will; and it is so done that what He DOES, to create and to those who desecrate, is specific and confirmed throughout the Bible (as for example in Romans 5 and 8). If He chooses to adorn the prose with a song or poem, this is manifest. Even in Shakespeare, you do not need to be a genius to know what is the character of a particular passage.
This, then, is what the word of God does as history proceeds in complete composure and summary integration (Genesis 2:1ff.) with creation, its terminology unmutated, its agents unaltered, its processes in contiguity and continuity alike.
We are even told of the movement to myths which would come in the arena of time when His return to rule on this same earth would be accomplished (I Timothy 4). This ? it is the one He described, which now we see in all its bald blatancy: it is not another one secretly intended through mutation of words and meanings, structurally dissociated: rather, it was as it is, this one, so described, that would come.
Those, we learn from the apostle Paul in II Timothy 3:7, who are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" will be as Jannes and Jambres who resisted Moses. They will have (v. 5) "a form of godliness, not believing in its power." They must seem to help God or openly hinder, but in any case act as if to evacuate the power that is His, in favour of the wandering that is their own, expressed in their ungoverned ideas and the intrusive dispositions of their minds, toward the word of God: if indeed they heed it at all. The time, Paul continues in his inspired depiction from God's own mouth (II Corinthians 2:9ff.), will come when "they will not endure sound doctrine" but will "heap up for themselves teachers", the better to "turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." (The Greek word signifies here an invention, a falsehood, an intrusive philosophical conception as from the Gnostics for example, telling 'stories', as parents sometimes say, to too inventive children. So will they innovate from ignorance and proclaim from pollution, daring to name the Lord in their wandering.)
Accordingly, there are those who would re-write the history of Genesis in notions and ideas of their own, culturally more acceptable*1B. Another approach thus would have it that there was simply no telling what such terminology, and indeed numbered sequence of days would mean, as the text of Genesis 1 moved on to the continued use of such terms in the days of mankind. It could be, it was implied, that the terms changed meaning without notice or indication, that definitions were wholly indistinct, yes unknowable, that the account in terms in normal use, in a sequence of numbered units of days, and logically sequential operations in the earth and in the heavens, was without significance, except that is given some shade, some nuance, through what the mind of man might invent
So do the teachers teach, and then insert into the text, saying 'this is what it is,' or 'that', according to the invention trawled and brought to shore. Indeed, in the PC in America creation document, as shown in Let God be God Ch. 12 as marked, not only is the vexatious liberty of unsustained imagination allowed to re-invent the word of God, but what it says is illicitly attacked. Thus it is made to appear that verse 16 is an act of initial creation, not a moulding. The text does not establish this, the term for 'create' being used in v. 1 and not in v. 16. The creation of heaven and earth, with the earth then being given attention (vv. 2ff.), and then in sequence (as is normal in this logical exposition and deposition from deity), in vv. 14ff., the heavens in their own turn, is a matter of order.
The matrix of all is made, the heaven and the earth : created. Then the earth is for its part, without form and void, and its development is pursued in steps. Then the heavens are in focus, and their development is pursued in steps. The one in immediate focus is RULE ON the earth FROM the heavens. As to that, as with the earth, so with the heavens, there is a formation of what is there but in need of adjustment and direction to duty as envisaged by deity. As noted in the above reference, the emphasis on the duties of the lights in the heavens, forged and formed to desired formulations, is immense. The case is parallel. There is no question that the source of the evening and morning sequence was not there in a regular natural manner, since this is an account of supernatural power implementing the norms for natural expression of those powers, in natural results. That is the character of the exposition. The case is this, that what had to be DONE is now what is the object of the forming, fashioning, moulding.
Now since this multiple rule aspect is refined, does this mean that the basic fluctuation of evening and morning was not sufficiently provided for at the outset, without the moulding and formative divisions of astronomical rule now disclosed (vv. 14ff.) ? There is no possibility of such an imposition on the text, nor can it be made to require it; and further light is shed on this whole area by Professor Gleason Archer, as noted in Let God be God! Ch. 12.
What then ? Heavy as is an error of blatant permissiveness that misrepresents the clarity of Scripture and accommodates to cultural agnosticism, that permits a détente with deviousness, a rapprochement with renegacy from the Bible: yet this case and development in the PC in America is even worse. It not merely authorises what is undemonstrable from the Bible, and contrary to all context and every consideration of sequence and characterisation in the text, deeming such promiscuity acceptable teaching, but further makes assault by ludicrous disdain on what it does teach, thus daring to go even further. Thus it overthrew at Assembly level a presbytery's finding that a student characterising this early part of Genesis as poetic was unfit for licensure in the denomination. thus precluding the purging of grave intrusion into the text in shameless fashion.
This indeed is far from a question of some one item: it is a coherent textual assault in kind, now formalised into the document which we are regarding.
If the word of God i misused in this style, deviously flexed, as in II Corinthians 4, then the sanctity of the brotherhood is broken and separation is required. To this one will later return
Many have been those who have pursued such blatant intrusions into the scriptural text, in the past century in particular. Their unrighteous imaginations were to rule the word of God, and change the laboratory notebook style precision and brevity of an account using historical terms and depicting the stages of creation and desecration, proceeding univocally to salvation: now by this view now by that, now with an insertion here and now with one there, they would move into something they would forge and fashion from exclusively their own thoughts.
Adding these to those of God, they would weave a composite myth, made by man in association with God. Some do and did it at this level, commencement, some at that, sin, some at another, salvation, some at one related, the nature of Jesus Christ, inventing here and there the unclean thoughts of undisciplined minds, more or less, as the mode and the mood, the compromise or the clear rebellion would move. It would and did traverse like a squalling shower, dropped now in this place, now in that, from the black depths of some massive cloud formation, obscuring the sunlight.
So would such actions resemble the uninspired actions that were closely associated with the fall of Israel, as shown in II Kings 17:33: "They feared the LORD, yet served their own gods - according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away."
The regimen becomes almost a regime as unfaithfulness to the clear word of God is based on musings, confusings and illicit enterprises into the work of another with a free mind, unbound to the text. In a contract, this would be deplorable, almost comic. The word of God is indeed for information, but it is also for formation, instruction and to be bound on man as truth, with the appurtenances of results for thought and action. Alas for the day, for the grief is extreme as more and more bodies fall into the polluting floods of illicit permissiveness if not in morals, then in re-creating the very word of God.
But what of that ancient day in Israel, of which II Kings 17 speaks ? Biblical hermeneutics could be made to serve a wounded conscience and defiled mind, as they sought to find ways of ADAPTING to surrounding cultures, ADOPTING some of their ways while still making mention of the LORD, and ADULTERATING truth with lies, fraud, folly or fiction. So it was, and alas, this is the trend of how it is, just as Peter foretold (II Peter 2:1ff.), as church after church summarily capitulates, now here, now there, to the clammy cultural clamour of ideas without ground, thoughts without logic and conceptions without authority.
So it was to be (II Timothy 3, 4, I Timothy 4, II Peter 2, II Thessalonians 2, Acts 20), and so it is and has to be, just as Jesus said of what happened to Him at His arrest and all to which that led, in His own time.
Often these matters have been reviewed in major detail*1C, with only one conclusion for the word of God as it defines itself to be. Here we proceed to indicate to the present point, that it is past all argumentation that it is NOT POSSIBLE to DEDUCE from the biblical text any account of the creation which has it NOT in the sequence given, NOT in the logical development, step by step in coherence of thought and action, as provided, but instead equipped with concepts of vistas on divine action given in varied assortment, or of natural processes with a divine oversight of some non-sovereign kind, and not as indicated both morally and physically.
However, addition and other alteration of the text is expressly and often forbidden (Deuteronomy 4, 12, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18-19); and enterprise here is destitute of excuse, whilst capitulation to the formless nebulosities of current, highly variable, constantly changing culture, is the very nadir of obliterative failure. Glints of thought, rumblings of the deep, philosophical 'of course' dicta, founded on air, groundless, aspects of the great: such nubilous waftings are mere additions and subtractions, depending on the mode of insertion, often testimony to vague thought on the reality of revelation or even of the self-defining power and personal Being of God Himself. It is like introducing somebody else, in the very midst of a formal introduction to some notoriety, and then reverting in a confused manner, to the one ostensibly in view. It is to multiply Majesty and to dignify mere nature, fondling the creation when the Creator is the focus.
The word of God shall NOT be so accepted, mutilated, mutated, but will stand while all this falls now as always for such types of innovatory folly, whether by Eve or the pre-flood era, or at Babel or in contemporary inventiveness that dares so to deface the word of God, inexcusably with intent condemned from the Bible as we see, in advance.
Culture passes; the word of God remains. This, like the rest, is simply historical fact. The ideas that are obtruded and intruded into the word of God as man seeks to seize more and more knowledge from 'nature' increases, these become more and more ridiculous as knowledge grows*1D .
The word of God continues unmoved, immovable, constantly and consistently verified with a joyful majesty which needs nothing but itself to continue, indefeasible because coming from the same place which provided salvation for a rebellious race (cf. I Peter 1:24ff.).
In fact, in Genesis, in the creation, in the explanation, in the account of it: the word and the need are expressly related in such a style that the divine mind and mentality, view and desire are directly implemented with nothing whatever contrary to His thought as stated and actions in correlation with this, constituting creation of the universe. God takes words of defined character, moves through them to events of normal or normative nature, implements in text what He did in fact, and says so. THUS the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. It was not in some other way. Rest in it, this is the authority of God which speaks.
Thus views along those inventive and intrusive lines noted, are NOT to be shown as IN the text by its statements, nor are they to be gained by necessary implication from it. It is not relevant to consider literal or other ‘interpretation’. We are told how it was done in words given by One who undertakes not to present confusion, but clarity (Proverbs 8:8) and proceeds with consistent terminology into the insistent world that has resulted, with a maximum of continuity of thought and verbiage.
Thoughts of something else, not textually presented, as the ‘real’ meaning may be held; they cannot be shown to be so. If it 'really' means, in some abstruse allegory or analogy, what it does not say, and if the ordinal numbers *2 in this way are never elsewhere used to show an abstraction when natural chronological sequence is purported, and if the declaration is this, that SO it happened, steps being shown in logical order, as in Genesis 2:1ff., and with consistent historical actualities, right down to the use of the same term 'generation' for heaven and earth and families alike, then to differ by declaring that maybe God meant that they did NOT happen in this order, that this in Genesis 1 did NOT show HOW He did it, that it was some question of giving insights not sequential stages as purported for the method of creation (THUS, He did it), and that He did it in some other way: it is quite simply to make a liar out of Him.
Fanciful assertions and contortions of what is written, to mean what it does not say, imply, suggest, indicate or in any way assert, these brought into play, are what ?They are just that: play. It is necessary says Paul, to be a biblical workman who does not need to be ashamed, however (II Timothy 2:15). Work is to be done, not play; and rightly dividing the word of God is to be labour of precision, not pollution, faithfulness, not favoured ideas.
There is work to be done in this world before He comes who word has already come both in its sole, its unique written form with its information, and in its Eternal become incarnate man, form; and the night is coming when no man can work. Let us then work, not to transfix the written word of God, as if it were the sole remaining way of intruding on deity, abusively, but to do the will of God, itself clear and not sublimated into poetic scenarios or political pretension (cf. John 18:36ff.). Let us take what God says and get on with it, instead of wasting valuable time in paralleling the pre-devastation performances of artful mixtures and inane recompositions of the word of God, as in ancient Jerusalem.
He knows. He stated that this is the way it happened. We do not know, unlike Him, not being there. We are instructed.
Let, then, God be true though every man should be a liar! Let the author of man instruct him, and not be subservient to his imaginations, even when He speaks!
What then ? HE says that THUS He acted and SO it was done (Genesis 1, and 2:1ff.).
The language of action based on order, and fulfilment bringing in known things as resultant is thus confirmed. It is not styled in the language of the natural in order to mean the unnatural; or in the style of institution in order to mean dilation of thought. It is the universe which is being dilated as indicated, in natural terms associated with divine directive.
The ONLY way in which it differs from an account of natural things is in this: that here they are being PRODUCED and PUT INTO PLACE so that they might operate. It is an emplacement from creation's enduement, and not an account of action based on this as already done, the later being the natural depiction of man's science. In this it is unique as is a necessity if creation be your topic. In all else it is natural, concerning nature, concerning its correlatives in creation, the language of definition; and there sequential operations in the process of enduement first with being, and then with function. If any term has a variant meaning, it is only as demanded by the context. The first light, for example, has to come there, and then be; but this is obvious, because it is stated.
But what do we have ? It is that some say, to the contrary of the Deity, that THUS He did NOT act and SO it was not done. Such a contrivance is an enormity of intrusion and an arrogance at which to tremble. If it is a contrivance, then it is nothing but confusion; and then it should be dumped in godly fear. The Creator is not to be silenced by traditions which make the word of God of none effect (Mark 7:7ff.), nor subdued, nor endued with man's 'brilliance' nor corrected, nor amended in His speech as if the figurative were to fly into being in the midst of the natural, and speech should give nothing by way of indication that it is flitting into fancy, while yet it should be so understood.
In this composition, we are not dealing with a Year One Secondary Student, but with God who made man!
It is as if a lawyer, coming to declare in some home the will of the father now deceased, and announcing according to his own statement, that this is what the testator wrote, should then merrily proceed in some such way as this. 'Now my dear people, even though this will states that 20,000 dollars are to be given to Margaret when she attains the age of 21, yet there is a question here, and it seems that he really was indicating a juxtaposition of those dollars with another intention entirely, and that these were to be associated with another sequence, perhaps that of her children.'
But you say, The WILL is STATED in known terms to known parties in known linguistic setting and with normative intention; and yet you dare to speak of some incomprehensible contention in such a setting ? Indeed, Are you a lawyer or an impersonator of my husband! the wife might exclaim.
The text is clear, explicit, normative in the defining realm of nature, from supernature, and so described. It proceeds with the utmost clarity and consistency (cf. Let God be God ... Ch. 12). It gives neither licence nor liberty to vary from it. It is arithmetic in steps, it is sequential in logical operation, it is decisive in utterance and it is of GOD whom it speaks.
Let those who would tell God what He did in such a situation, be ashamed. HE is telling us what we CANNOT know, and declaring that this is how it was done, and when; and THEN He declares that SO it was done, as if foreseeing the monstrosities of spontaneous alternation to come, a sort of GM text that some would create! Other considerations of how and when are not even relevant, being nothing but addition, contradiction and cocksure assertion contaminating the Church, if they be allowed by authority as just.
With such action, this man who fears and loves God, could never combine, nor is fellowship available while such contretemps proceed . From all spiritual disruption and contamination of the word of God and His ways, we are to be absent (cf. Romans 16:17, Ephesians 4:28 - 5:11), and from ALL the apparatus forwarding impurity as declared :
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light
(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),
finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,
but rather expose them."
If it is to be a question of the sweet fellowship of the brethren, those whom one has known, at the cost of distancing of the doctrine of deity; if one must put into practice the word of Psalm 73, whom have I in heaven but Thee, and whom do I desire on earth, beside Thee; and if it is a cost, yes a cross to be borne and carried as one follows the Lord, then it must be paid. The first commandment is not the first for nothing, but for priority, and it is then that the rest may secureloy follow (I John 5:2). If the brethren at length see their error, and return to His word as written, with all its devices for clear comprehension from the greatest communicator of all, then that would be felicity indeed and with them one could continue with restful relief; but while the battle is to be fought, it is no time to solace oneself. Thus if they will not return (Jeremiah 5:19) , then one must abandon felicity in this, in order that one may serve Him who calls, in obedience and faithfulness, never wavering. If we all sin, and to imagine otherwise is to deceive oneself as I John 1 declares, yet to add to sin by seeing the good and freely doing the lesser, this is neither an option nor a call.
Authority is what is Authorised by the AUTHOR
WHO IS this authority which can so allow and so add to the word of God by its own! One thing it CANNOT be in this, is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is bound by His word to other practices than this, and to purity not profundity of pollution. It is now a test whether it returns or proceeds amiss. One thing is MUST be is Jesus Christ, the word of God, and the written word to which He has put His name (Matthew 5:17-20, John 14:26, II Peter 3:16, I Corinthians 14:37, Revelation 22:18-19 cf. SMR Appendix C, D).
Beyond the word of God, the Church of Jesus Christ has NO authority (Matthew 23:8-10, Proverbs 30:6), as we shall shortly see further. It is in HIS words and in Him that one must abide (John 15), and not in the words of men (Mark 7:7ff.).
Hence what does this, and does not move, is authorised; and what alters, avoids, enhances or adds, is a matter exclusive of divine authority. What opposes this and exposes it by His word, is authorised and sound; and appeal from the misused authority of the carnal church to the Lord, whom wittingly or inwittingly it disdains in this presumption, is as sound as was that of Joshua from the wanton folly of Israel, when it would not enter the promised land (Numbers 14:6-10). It is this which this Minister has done, and praises the God of creation for enabling it. Faithfulness MUST be found, and we all fail in enough to make a deliberate or deliberative exercise in it a folly.
It is simply not possible to have two standards. A Church is not a loose cannon, pointed as it will, lavishing upon itself an authority in name only, but a body to be in the fear of God all the day, not inventing its own doctrine, which even Christ did not do (John 12:48-50), nor making 'peace' with this or that party, sedated in spirituality or corrupted by non-Christian culture, nor finding ways of getting on with things, conveniently, as others have done in the past with deplorable results. It is sent as He was sent, in submission (John 20:21).
Accordingly, the AUTHORISATION of such views by a Church CONSTITUTES not only a defilement of the purity required for treating the word of God by that same word, but in fact, it even transgresses the fundamental counsel of the Westminster Confession, freely taken by this PC in America as being in its system of doctrine in accord with the word of God. Therefore a breach of the most fundamental basis not only of the word of God but even of Presbyterianism has here occurred. The NATURE of its final authority is transgressed both in itself, and in its own subscription at the subordinate level. Breach of association has therefore occurred, and that association is no longer viable, where this exception has been cited. Indeed, to continue where such breach occurs is the most perilous of proceedings, and to recognise authority when this is in view is to sate seduction.
Here the just concern is with presenting what the infallible word of God has to say with NO addition, and this in the name of the Lord, the Gospel itself and the depiction of the Lord Jesus Christ being no exceptions. Any Church or Presbytery therefore which indulges in such endorsement, authorisation or acceptance as the decision of the Church, is in principle, as much adding to the word of God as are the exponents of Romanism. It was expedient for Rome to add to the Bible to achieve its goals; and in this case, the PC in America has done the same. Teaching for commandments the word of man however is expressly excluded by Jesus Christ (Mark 7:7ff.).
It is not possible to relate to such liberties, which breach the basis of union between pastor and Church, with impunity or loyalty to the Lord in this field. A Christian Church must be prepared to adhere to its biblical fundamentals, and not simply, or unconstitutionally rollick in whatever appeals, whether for its own imagined ‘survival’ or any other reason. Saving your life, indeed, individual or organizational, is in principle a method of LOSING it (Matthew 16:25ff.). To lose life is not the purpose of the Lord but that it be given more abundantly (John 10:10). This is better achieved when one adheres strictly to what He gives when teaching in His name.
The narrow stream (cf. Matthew 7:15ff.) may seem in a worldly aspect, not as attractive as the broad flowing river; but its force in its in flow of purity in its course, not in making of the environment, a flood plain of human self-indulgence, self-reliance and self-expression. It is God who is expressing Himself, and what is required of man is fidelity. If one wants to write a novel, fine; but if one wants to so indulge in the NAME of the Church of Jesus Christ, it is as Proverbs 8:30 declares, a perilous exercise, making one apt for the rebuke: LIAR! How dare man use his own words where those of God are in view, in the name of Jesus Christ.
From such a Church one therefore had unilaterally to separate, for where such liberties are taken, the authority of God is supervened, and one can only appeal as one has done, to this, His authority, and to Him who in Christ provides one’s unchanging basis. This is not only the sure word of the Bible (Matthew 23:8ff., Mark 7:7ff.), but even according to the wise counsel of the subordinate Confession, the Westminster, which in this is wholly biblical in approach, forbidding the imposition of the extraneous to the Bible (its Chs. I, VI, XX, II, XXXI, IV). Its system is superlatively, indeed its excellence, precisely here: its declared approach to His word above all, and man's liberty from whatever supervenes it.
The separation from this erring PC in America in 1998, was conjoined with my ministerial entry into a small, independent Presbyterian Church in Adelaide, essentially continuing the work of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, in terms of its original union of 1901, which was basically a most delightful and sound affair.
In so doing, one neither as such condemn the PC in America, though one exposes this decisive drift into multilateral mutilation of the word of God by the word of man, nor assumes any kind of personal authority. The authority of that of Christ and His word, because it is His. One STAYS where one was on entry into that denomination. Where is that ? It is in the place where ONLY this word of God, the Bible, as taught in its own authority is given the recognition which is due, along with what may OF NECESSITY be shown from it (in fact, asserted also in the Westminster Confession as above).
It is only this unique biblical doctrine, with what may be necessarily implied by it, which may be asserted, accepted and proclaimed or taught in His name, as the word of God or possessing any divine authority or valid Church sanction in doctrine. NOTHING but what is thus clearly and categorically shown relates. Preaching and teaching of doctrine is of and through the word of God, with NO additives.
Thus, when the body to which one came (arriving in the USA, in my own case, immediately after the defence of the Gospel in the point of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, in 1967), – one which became part of the PC in America: when this separates from scriptural limitation, what then ?*2A Indeed, if one finds that, after some 30 years, intractable defaults in doctrine are proclaimed by this body, what then ? It is then a straightforward continuity in Christ, the foundation immutable, His word intractable and unpollutable, the fellowship beautiful because His holiness IS splendid in grace and nobility. Thus one remains where one was, in the Lord Jesus Christ according to His word; for though this earth be removed, still He remains, and His word rules (Matthew 24:35) and remains (I Peter 24-25).
Accordingly, the authority remains just where it was before, during and after my residence in the PC in America, and in that denomination as before in that Church which became absorbed by it, the RPCES. It is in propositional form, the Bible as decisively, doctrinally definitive, and in personal form, God Almighty Himself, as depicted in that word and personally definitive in the Lord Jesus Christ whom it exhibits with its pervasive aptitude, reliability and certainty. There is authority, and that is what may and must be decisively believed and taught. It is in this authority that one does and must move, lamenting the fall of the PC in America in this arena, but lauding the Lord who lives, to whom one appeals and in whom one seeks continually to abide.
particular Pastor or Minister has changed in nothing concerning these matters,
and is by faith as firmly fixed in the basic Presbyterian setting of entry in
1967, which puts the Bible before and over all doctrine, suffering no addition,
as when ordained before that entry in 1966. The Church having changed, one has
been left like a Jeremiah, outside of it; for though one’s heart has not
changed, the Church community has done so. Often in Church history, people have
had to do this; and this Pastor is no different in that.
The Individual and the Church
Meanwhile, one should clarify a particular point. If some Minister teaches beyond the scripture, then that is a mistake. He can of course give opinions or make reasonable constructions for Christian Apologetics, so long as the actual teaching in them does not go beyond the Bible in doctrine.
Even if someone errs demonstrably, this is to be taken up with concern and reasonableness. Was it intended rebellion, obvious departure, or was it confusion or simple woeful lack of watchfulness ? If not rebellion, then correction and discussion may help and even resolve the issue. Pastors are not the premises of the Church, but executives for the Lord, in it. How any such Pastor, so erring, is dealt with depends on earnest thought, careful evaluation and biblical principles. He may be cautioned or asked to redefine the WAY in which he is presenting opinion and so on, and carefully to distinguish it from the word of God, while emphasising as decisive doctrine, ONLY what IS the word of God.
Frequently, as in the Auburn Affirmation case, this careful compassion is misused to allow red-necked assaults on biblical doctrine, and church camps are organised, or even efforts made to gain a majority as at Princeton in the 1920s. Thus the entire approach of the body may be changed. Pity is often misused by guile, and godless departures from the word of God are authorised as an absolute priority, such declension moving as foretold, so that the word of God is fulfilled that thus it will be (II Peter 2, II Timothy 3).
However, this impending apostasy (II Thessalonians 2, Matthew 24:24, II Timothy 3-4, Revelation 13) is no reason to discard, qualify, compromise or add to or subtract from the truth, the word of the living God, Himself. It is indeed, now as always, the duty for faithfulness to proceed with the unchanged requirement of purity in the presentation of the word of God AS SUCH. Neither is it arraignable by the word of man (I Thessalonians 2:13), nor attainable by or subject to invasion by the thoughts of man, as if the thoughts of the infinite God and those of man could be conjoined in any kind of mere collaboration (Isaiah 55:8ff.). Even with an earthly author, this would be anomalous; with God it approaches an act of categorical unfaithfulness, to which none may with impunity submit.
Thus it is one thing – one of great testing for any Church, to consider any vagrant, personal teaching by any one Pastor and how to bring blessing and restoration most wisely to the Church from any such variation from the word of God, from any teaching given as if it were sure, or His, or to be entertained with any confidence, when the Bible does not warrant this*2B. To recount: What is acceptable in this domain is either what is expressly written or necessarily implied in the Bible, as the Westminster Confession so justly says, relaying in this biblical doctrine concerning itself and its proper usage as the word of God Himself (cf. Isaiah 8:20, Psalm 119, Mark 7:7ff., Matthew 4:4, 5:17ff., 26:54ff., I Thessalonians 2:13, I Corinthians 2:9-13, 14:37).
It is quite another, however, when the Church itself as a body sets up a STANDARD or GROUND for acceptability, any TEACHING which is NOT so demonstrable from the Bible. In such a case as that, we pass beyond the bounds of grace and charity, seeking to procure good with gravity, to those of capitulation to error, the disease of addititis (Mark 7:7ff.), which so far from being any matter of grace is one of disgrace.
It is quite another, however, when the Church itself as a body sets up a STANDARD of any TEACHING which is NOT so demonstrable from the Bible. THIS is what has happened; and this is the error which most unhappily has defiled the PC in America. It has set up an additional authority, a permissive approach as standard or acceptable; and God has given no such permission. In this, then, they are interfering with the word of the Almighty, adulterating it, just as Paul assured us that he, for his part, would not and did not do (II Corinthians 4:1-2).
There is an intense purity about the word of God and the Church has nil authority to push its weight to this or that consideration because of a need to compromise, pseudo-stabilise or anything else. If the word of God is not deemed sufficient in doctrine, then the Church has already moved into a peril, like an unprotected financial institution, into which God-fearing persons are unwise to pitch themselves! The Westminster Confession very aptly turns from anything such. In moving beyond, the PC in America has put itself in a novel position relative to its ostensible standards; though it is not one unusual in the flagrant errors of the past cf. Mark 7:7ff.).
Back to Biblical Base
In leaving it, without any mode of detachment but severance, as a Minister in good standing in it at that time, and moving to be received by an independent Presbyterian Church in Australia, one has acted as seemed best and needful, to testify, to protest and to evacuate, not accepting the testimony or organisational propriety of a body in connivance with such action.
If any in the PC in America wish to condemn this action of severance, after their change in doctrine, and one’s continued protestations about biblical purity, and after one’s own morally required separation, so be it. This is not unusual in history, that a body, when biblically confronted, attacks what so acts in the name of the Lord; indeed it is habitual in the historical presentation of the Bible, as seen for example in Matthew 23:34-35, Acts 7:51-53. Athanasius in New Testament times, like Stephen, is just such a case; and of course many of the English Reformers like Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer were not well received by the ‘Church’ of the time, when they exposed its errors, being denied the means of continuing life on this earth, and not merely executed verbally.
In fact, they were burnt, and that with flames more than verbal. The principle however is the same.
Thus while one does not condemn such a Church as this, one does and must condemn its actions in doctrine in this field, its compromise, its enhanced peril for so adding to the testimony of the word of God by formal authorisation (Isaiah 8:20), and sincerely declare that to belong to such a body in such an excursion is spiritually and morally compromising for the Christian (Romans 16:17). This by no means excludes prayer for its return to the pure word of God, not only in word but in deed, nor does it expunge hope that it may yet escape this devastation of convenience and this encumbrance with the intrusive thoughts of man.
Who knows how the good Lord in His providential mercies may re-organise many as the time of His return draws near. Meanwhile, all who love Him must keep to HIS word and neither add nor subtract, nor authorise such things with any pretended authority. From first to last the Church which is that of Jesus Christ has NO authority except to present what HE has presented (cf. John 12:48-50, 17:14-19, Revelation 22:18-19).
In reasonings to show the truth of His word (I Peter 3:15, II Corinthians 10:5, Philippians 1:7), one may present many things; but as to what is acceptable in doctrine itself, this is limited to what is written and what is necessarily implied, the Bible not a field or sports day for contrivance and innovation, but a field of the majestic speech of the Almighty. It is the infallible word of Him who governs all, and is governed by none, nor by the thoughts or say-so of any, including those who dare to use His name while so polluting and opining.
Thus is the mode of Presbyterianism, of Reformed doctrine in its classic presentation, where in the realities of the horror of Romanist persecution, even to the death, the purity of the word of God was seen, striven for and declared. If any, in so doing, faltered, failed or erred, without so intending, this at least was NOT the same
as merely making
declarations without scriptural warrant, in the face of exposure; or acting
as if some
imagination, not provided for in the biblical text, were to be authorised.
as if a
non-biblical 'necessity' could supervene,
as if it had a
divine capacity to declare new doctrinal data;
as if again,
such things were
pleasing to Him, when accepted in His name.
In being forced thus to leave the denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, which was the gobbler up of that which I joined in 1967, the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod, there is of course a deep regret, a sadness that what appears mere pragmatic convenience has so distorted the proper function of a Church of Jesus Christ as to make this necessary. Yet as one obeys Him whose one is, following Romans 16:17, after so long in so much (cf. Titus 3:10), indeed some 30 years, there is the ultimate preference which has to be shown.
What is this ? It is that for the pure doctrine of the word of God, over that of the cultivated and intrusive cultures of man, with his mini-mind daring to intrude even into the word of God, as if he could legislate authority for what is not demonstrable from it, and so join those palatial premises and that popular throng, which is never satisfied with what He has said. Leaving the one, one finds continued peace and deliverance with the other and far greater One.
His word is very wonderful; therefore His servant loves it.
If this is to be one more expression from within the body of Christ, His Church, that such is so and that this is no idle affirmation of its wonder and delightful integrity and reliability, yes and clarity and applicability to life, so be it. It is then not in vain.
Thus this Chapter 6 brings us right back to Chapter 5 above, where from Psalm 71 and Psalm 119, as from Romans and Isaiah, one considers the wonder and the witness of this amazing word of God, never old-fashioned; but when fashioned anew by the mind of man, illicitly making a new and hybrid product, it is merely abused. Like Christ, this it suffers; but like Him also, it arises unscathed, its text triumphant, and its statements verified where not words but works speak.
What grows old and decrepit ? It is amended version, this altered text, this human defilement, this new production which readily grows old with those bodies who so defile it. But the word of God itself, in its pristine purity of expression where the very words are authorised by the Spirit of God, direct for all time, this, it is this which endures for ever (I Peter 1:24-25, Isaiah 40:6-8). While it is true that when direct sight of God comes immediately in the resurrection, so that the depictions of word are surpassed by the immediacy of seeing God face to face as in Revelation 22 (cf. I Corinthians 13:11-12), yet does that word not lapse from being truth, any more than a perfect photograph ceases to be true, when one meets the One to whom it refers.
May God therefore be praised and glorified, and His name and word flow freely over this earth which, despite the belabourings of man, will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11). The engines of mortality savage truth, but the engineer of man, the living God, already in Christ resurrected, has endured far more, and on His return will indeed, as Psalm 2 declares, deal with the 'judges' of this earth.
To them He speaks:
"Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry ...
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."
It is divine assurance and not self-assurance which matters. It is divine authority, and not that transmitted conditionally to the Church, that which abides in His word, which indeed shall not fail; but this is not because of its words, but because of Him and His words, in whom it must abide. AS HE did not preach His own doctrine, but that of His Father, and His people are sent as He was, SO and much less, may they preach or teach their own doctrine. On the contrary, they must initiate it where He speaks and end it where He stops speaking as in Revelation 22:18-19, and this with that discriminating care which Isaiah 8:20 enforces, and Matthew 5:17-20 endorses.
When the extravaganzas of that specialist in such abuse, Roman Catholicism or Romanism as it is better called*3 , since what is delimited to a part cannot be affirmed of the whole, are the additives, or those of an equally unauthorised appeal to spiritual donation, that of the bible-surpassing brand of Pentecostals, or that of sects with their visions of angels or spectacles or golden plates or earth consciousness or any other source: when these are considered, it is clear to what indulgence can lead! What can be added is ZERO, what can be removed is NOUGHT. What must be affirmed is what is written, and what may be qualified is NOTHING.
Quite simply, God is a personal Being; when He speaks, that is that. What is the need of waffling or compromise or authorising this or that, when neither stated nor demonstrable ? If one wishes to show the relevance of reason, being all things to all men and fulfilling a divine mandate (I Peter 3:15, II Cor. 10:5ff., I Cor. 11:1), so be it; but this is far removed from adding doctrine. What is to be added, as II Peter 1 shows is rather godliness and virtue and brotherly love which is concerned for its brother and seeks his welfare at personal cost, the very love of God, perseverance in His purity.
It is THIS which is legitimate addition, and this, it is spiritual life in its overflowing fulness from Him whose it is. Praise God for His word, for it both works and speaks never amiss. It is radio-connection to the pilot and ground for his landing. It is as one abides in it, and in Him, that the blessed work of His Spirit continues uninhibited by improper licence. God does not need help with His word; He needs that one so abide that His authority is unquestioned, His work is continued in and by His word, His will is sought and His power is found to do it (Romans 1:16, Acts 5:32).
For detail, see Let God be God Ch. 12.
‘Twisted, crooked, perverted’ are renderings given through the NASB and Berkeley Version, for this word in Proverbs. ‘Wrestlings’ is the meaning of a derivative of the Hebrew term used. Contortions, crookedness, perverseness, twistiness, misleading complexity, this is the realm excluded from the word of God, product of His wisdom. It is for this reason that given HIS understanding, clarity follows, as shown in Proverbs 8:8.
BECAUSE it is God who gave His word, THEREFORE we do not need enterprise to prod it and contort it, to twist it and squeeze it, to remedy it and contrive within it, to give it flying buttresses for support, and to build engines for sustaining it from the human imagination. When these are used, the patronising pollution becomes as shabby in spirit as seductive in imagination.
For such trends, see for example, SMR Ch. 2, and its Supplement, Ch. 4 with its Extension, Beauty for Ashes Ch. 3, Secular Myths and Sacred Truth Chs. 3 and 8, The gods of naturalism have no go.
See SMR pp. 179ff., 482ff., TMR Chs. 1 and 7, and *1B above.
See TMR Ch. 1,
The Bible: Not the
Declamations or Distillations of Man,
but the Doctrine of Deity Ch. 5,
The Message of the Word
of God to Man in the World Ch. 2,
Hapless Hitches and Holy Healings ... Ch. 4,
The True God has Go, Gives Growth and Glory Ch. 4, *1A.
Not only however is this Hebrew term mwy (day) not used biblically with ordinal numbers in sequence to represent period, not day. In addition, The Answers Book, Edited by Dr John Batten cites the biblical finding that the Hebrew term transliterated yom is used, with evening or morning 23 times, and each time means an ordinary day. With 'night' it is used 53 times and each time means just the same (cf. Genesis 1:5 for this conjunction).
In fact, when one has in mind an extended period, it is ease itself to indicate this by evocative phrase, term or context, and when there is presented a sequence with the appurtenances of sequence, it is facility itself to be clear. The entire problem that some would imagine that their powers of imaginative, creative comprehension so far outstrip the powers of clear expression of their God and Maker, that even the simplest and most uniform of matters such as an ordinal sequence must become a lair for co-authoring the divine text would be astonishing, were it not a regular feature of the falling away in many biblical fields, in the last century.
To be sure, the parallel term in English may be adapted to many meanings, even three in one sentence; and such is the cognate quality often found in languages, that it may be used in various senses in Hebrew.
However, the writer who wishes to convey his mind will obviously, if at all competent with words, make it clear what he has in mind. If the context as first might be be set down by an author does not convey it, then it must be made to do so by the manner in which it is left to rest. If one wishes to do something outside the ambit of all examples, and that is verbally otherwise confined to an unexceptional usage, one does well to ensure that the imagination of the reader is not left without support for its proclivities, and that the mind is filled with just grounds for comprehension of what one is telling.
Incompetence and confusion may produce anything, and frequently do in pseudo-scientific and proto-theological discourse. However, as in politics, the abuse of language by those whose meaning is perhaps in some cases even the last thing they want to make clear is not the point. If, by high contrast, the discourse here is as far removed from ambiguity in terms of grammatical, etymological association and context as possible, then the confusion does not lie in the writer who doubts, but in the reader.
Of great interest in this connection is Hosea 6:3, which though it does not list a sequence of numbers in stated ordinal sequence concerning days, and so does not provide an exception to the uniform usage of the Bible noted, yet does mention one item of interest. It speaks of 'the third day' just as it notes three days. It does so as simply one item, not a sequence, and that one item is so heavily related to relevant symbolism as to be beyond question to have the same sort of meaning as all ordinal, biblical sequences with the Hebrew yom. This item conforms to the usage norm, and does so with the contextual vice which holds it beyond question. It is thus an illustration of the point in view.
Naturally, 'third day' would be heavily inscribed in symbolic sacrificial mode in the minds of those who had for so many hundreds of years had the Passover and the third day waving of the sheaf, in testimony following death and the rest day, of the abundant and overpowering assertion of life. The harrying work of preparing sacrifices and following the ceremonial prescriptions year by year in this focal feast time would be as well known as the agricultural Show Day here in Adelaide, or in Melbourne.
It appears that some, seemingly inundated with ignorance of the issues involved, however, want to make this also something vague. It is in fact so precise that the point of dawn on the third day in Christ's tomb comes out as He does. This coherent theme, so strong and consistent in both Testaments concerning this third day, at first in the sacrificial symbolism in very ordinary days, and then in the resurrection actuality, in very chronological and normal days, though with extraordinary significance, as in Genesis 1, is one of the first things in the faith: that Christ rose on the THIRD day.
He Himself emphasised it repeatedly, the angel in the tomb referred to it. Moreover, Christ not only made massive impact with it before His death (Matthew 17:23, 20:19, Mark 9:31, 10:34, Luke 18:33, 24:46 for example), but even the disciples on the road to Emmaus mentioned that this was the third day since His death, and thus they seemed somewhat concerned that nothing had happened ... being uninformed that He was just that very day risen; but this ignorance was soon remedied. Soon they found that they incognito fellow-traveller was in fact the risen Christ - when they began to eat with Him!
Of significant import is the fact that when Christ confronted the disciples with His resurrection demonstration to one and to all, including Thomas, bent on scientific method and amply rewarded by provision of the test, declared this, or rather exclaimed it: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory!" (24:26-27), and followed it up with a further arithmetical exhibit. In Luke 24:46, He added:
"Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer
and to rise from the dead on the third day,
and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached
in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Let us see what is implied here.
1) It was written
in the Old Testament (the only one then extant!) that Christ would suffer.
2) It was also
there written that He would rise from the dead.
3) Likewise found
is this: that He would do this on the third day.
4) This totality is
integral to the proclamation
5) It would begin in Jerusalem.
Thus it was so written that it was NECESSARY that He would rise on the third day, and this no less than the fact of the resurrection, of the rising of what was buried, the body as in Psalm 16 and Isaiah 26:19, was inherent in the Gospel. That is of course precisely what we have demonstrated in the above. His words are not 'froward' but clear to everyone who understands (Proverbs 8:8-9). Force conversions of terms to alien usages, contexts to alien meanings, creative comments to imaginative enslavement are not examples of unclarity but of disparity, between the works and words of the writer and those of the reader.
For a fuller treatment of this fascinating and coherent theme throughout the two Testaments of the Bible, see Going with God: the Christian Abiding the Lord Presiding Ch. 5.
This is mere cream on the cake, already delicious enough. God does not leave His contexts uncertain, and makes them clear to anyone willing to pursue them in their total contextual apparatus, all the scriptures. Definitive exhibits of this or that kind are there; if ignored about days in the resurrection or days in the crafting of creation alike, they do not change, nor does the message. God undertook to irrupt with the body of His saved, incorporated in His own arising, on the third day; and He created in six of these abundantly specified days in this item by item specific account which merges into history with its similar specificity, moving from the generation of the heavens to that of man, in his various families in an account of coherent historicity and semantic fixity in phrase and logical sequence of all these events, even emphasising the latter.
Import of other themes, genres and semantics is merely obtrusive, intrusive and illegal licence, to disrupt His law. Whatever the intention, the outcome is unconscionable in the deferential treatment of ANY literature. So to harass the word of God is like making a discourse on the derivation of hydrogen from sulphuric acid into a paper on politics.
Similar and parallel movement away from biblical requirements had been made in the PC in America, step by step, over the years, as shown in A Time to Praise God, Ch. 6 as marked, in terms of stumbling into and remaining involved in false ecumenicity, with confused fellowship.
This was correlative decline, for the body of Christ must not be joined to a (spiritual) harlot any more than the physical man should be so (I Corinthians 6:15-20, Ephesians 5:11, Revelation 2:20ff., Romans 16:17, with Ezekiel 16,23) - where the correlation between spiritual and physical defilement is made clear in the parabolic parallels.
Similarly in Revelation, there is not only the physical aspect, but the permission of the heretical woman to TEACH, which is condemned, with a time limit for exclusion and repentance. ALL uncleanness (including covetousness, a stated idolatry) is to be avoided, we learn in Ephesians 5, and from all such dealings one must be separate, not partaking with them (Ephesians 5:7), just as in I Timothy 6, where one example of unsound doctrine is given, not according to the soundness in Christ, and with this as criterion, one is told to withdraw (I Timothy 6:3).
Withdrawal (I Timothy 6:5) does not mean to continue; not to partake (Ephesians 5:7) does not mean to inhere in the same spiritual establishment. These actions contradict those words.
It is just as in II Thessalonians 2:15, where they are told to stand fast in the traditions which they had been taught (cf. Galatians 1:6-9), while in II Thessalonians 3:6ff., they have this applied to a particular case. As to that case, it is a MOST mild one by comparison with more advanced rebellion; but even here, they are not to have fellowship, so that the party might be ashamed. That is the apostolic instruction.
There could be no question of BEING in an assembly together, for that is the very heart of fellowship with each other, as parts of the body of Christ, which is not cancerous, but wholesome in Him who is Head and directs it. Indeed, in Ephesians 4, we learn of it that this, the body of Christ has apostles and prophets, pastors, teachers, and is very visible accordingly. We must, he continues, grow in all things into Christ "from whom the whole body, joined and knit together" acts in such a way that "every part does its share." Belonging to such a body is not to avoid its members, name or function, unless Paul be called a liar, and Peter a key failure (II Peter 3:16).
What then of the Thessalonians passage ? The having no fellowship is for the purpose, even in this mild case, of MAKING ashamed, and so there is a turning aside, an obvious withholding. They are NOT to be together OSTENSIBLY in Christ. This is to be registrable, so that the message is given, the impact is made. It is not that it makes no DIFFERENCE; it must make on the contrary, a categorical difference. Don’t, says the apostle, be mixed up with such. If this is the mild case, what of that more serious!
Will people suck at the bosom of wolves for the pure milk of doctrine (cf. Acts 20:29), act in concert to deliver them ? or will one expose children in a fellowship in Christ's name to such molestation of mind and spirit!
Is that how you AVOID them, and cease to be partakers or have fellowship with them ? There are many ways to HAVE fellowship and hence many in which to AVOID (Romans 16:17) it, and those of whom the apostle speaks in this direct vein: that is, those who cause divisions from the apostolic doctrine. This may be wrought by teaching contrary to it, or insisting on pursuing a contrary line in the very face of its application. Ignorance or habit may count, but seeking to defend such a position is to amend the apostolic command, which Paul assures us (I Corinthians 14:37) is the command of Christ, and would require a new religion.
What then of those who are outside the kingdom, being clear-cut rebels against His doctrine/practice, but who yet name Christ, in the light of Timothy, Corinthians, Ephesians and Romans ?
One way is to have communion with them in the same room, another is to have communion with them in the same denomination - where the body is defined by the body as its total self - another is to share spiritual life with them, another is to recognise them as Christians in any way, such as being in a denomination which accredits them, so that you as part of it see fit to conjoin with it, as they with heresy, so implicating not only your name, but your spirit, and defiling the name of Jesus Christ by your own volition.
You can bear with them ? you can acknowledge them as part of a church so sound that you can be part of it ? yours is joint membership with them in the official body in which you choose to have your earthly spiritual habitation ? This is spiritual integrity ? Here is your testimony of participation: for if you do not participate in that of which you are a member, how are you enmembered! This is the voice which you would hear and have spoken by CHOICE, when on earth, in Christ's name ? What then are you, if such a person, trying to do to His name, that you have it violated and conjoin with the wolves, as part of the stated, spiritual pack in which they raven, which you FORMALLY acknowledge as His!
So the squirming of misled spirits seek to be conjoined with a body which is in formal and official spiritual harlotry, as if so joining the body of Christ were a brothel in which to inhere. Small wonder the Lord so castigates Israel in Ezekiel for its wanton alliances, partnerships, movement and action together with what is astray in unbelief, just as it excludes what is ostensibly in faith, but alien in action.
Such was the famous case of Balaam, who corrupted Israel gravely and grossly by his impositions and posturings (cf. Numbers 22-24, II Peter 2:15, Jude 11, Revelation 2:14), words and ways apart, disobedience to the word of God so great that an ass had to speak to him, to his shame! Ezekiel 23:14-19 makes such false alliances, though spiritual and political in kind, matters of lust, having the characteristics of playing with paramours and harlotry. Just as ALL impurity is what is in mind in Ephesians 5:3, so all classes of it are subject, in divine prohibition, to merger.
Separation 1997, Message of the Word of God to Man in the World Ch. 3, Keys to the Comfort of the Kingdom of Christ Ch. 3. The Defining Drama Ch. 4;
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 6 ;
Hallowed Be Thy Name Ch. 9, Ch. 3,
Going with God ... Ch. 1, Ch. 6, Ch. 8,
Holocaust of Morality and the Coming of Christ the King Ch. 4, *2.
In short, when you are told to AVOID, it is not for you to qualify this as if co-author of the Bible. Paul in I Corinthians 5:9-13 shows just what zeal should be shown, in executing this spiritual separation.
Consider it anew. Thus he HAD written to them not to keep company with the sexually immoral; but he makes it clear that he did not mean in so saying that they were to avoid ALL such, the covetous, extortioners, idolaters with them in a bundle. Why then, he continues, if they had taken it that way ? Why then they would have had to go out of the world! In so saying, he is expressing the impossibility of obeying such a commandment, if it were taken to be applicable to all persons in this world. He is indicating that had they taken it that way, it could not possibly have been done, so that in fact it was to be taken in another way: namely with reference to their own fellowship ONLY. This he now elucidates and states directly in I Cor. 5.
He was not legislating for the world, but for the Church, not the standards of the world, but those in the Church: that, he indicates, is the position. If you applied such standards of purity to all relationship with this world, then you certainly could not be in it! Such is Paul's explicit and apostolic direction. DO what I said, as if it applied to the whole world, and you would have to leave it. That is Paul's decisive and incisive, direct and directed message.
If you leave part of this world, going to a monastery or other segment, where this world would still decidedly be, with who knows what aberrations: then still, it is not heaven. You are still in it. Such action is far from being something out of this world. In fact, has a goodly stake in it! It would indeed have been both possible and ineffective, in seeking to fulfil Paul’s requirement,to take such a course. That is a mere shunt WITHIN this world. His meaning cannot abide in such misconceptions.
Thus he makes it clear that it is not possible to have obeyed what he was taken to mean; he did not mean that: and if he had, it could not have been done. As to this sort of religious apartness, by contrast, you COULD have done that. Clearly, this does not do what he says, is an evasion of his intent. It neither follows the force of his argument that what he had said was not possible if rightly interpreted, nor even its own romancing additive to his word. It is not out of this world, then, nor would it serve logically if it were.
The point is very simple: OBEY his command if taken most generally, and you would go out of the place where you have to be, in order to live here - the world. You can't; and that is of course not what he meant, the apostle indicates as he instructs them. What follows then ?
He makes it explicit. It is the Church world of which he speaks. But in so speaking, it is clear that in this case, the separation is strict and stringent, not oozy and fuzzy, as if still petting a fornicary partner, while not actually engaging in copulation. It is directly comparable with going out of this world, except that now it is limited to going out of THAT world as totally as would be the case if you had to physically go in orbit, or elsewhere, had it still applied to all!
If he had meant out of normal circulation, let him say it. If he means the world, he has said it. Invention of what circumvents argument such as the apostle makes, and ignores the words which he speaks, is a double whammy; and when what does not even meet the case, but imagines what is not given, even in the thing imagined and inserted, it is a third one.
Going out of this world as a reductio ad absurdum point to clarify a meaning, this does not mean going into a little world. It means what it says. Telling God what He means is always unwise, and adding qualifications or inhibitions or modifications to Him is merely to co-author His word (v. Proverbs 30:6).
Thus Paul states that he CERTAINLY did not mean that his prohibition was to cover all in such categories without restriction, not only in statement, but in logical force. IF you had taken me to mean that, he says, it would certainly not be correct, “SINCE THEN” you would have to go out of this world. Those are his words. He is so far from qualifying them that he is magnifying the point.
It is OBVIOUS, he is stating, that if you did this (what you took me to mean), you would have to do that; but you CANNOT do that. He gives as his GROUND for your not taking it that way that it could not be done, and this makes the reduction of the possibility to nothing, the reason why it should be clear that this was not its intention.
Any place where you could go which is possible is to ignore his argument and defile his reasoning, miss his point and depart from his speech.
Let us review the implication however.
What then of those who acting as believers in apostolic Christianity, do not so act, do not so disengage from EVEN THIS REDUCED CATEGORY OF PROFESSING CHRISTIANS WHO ARE RESOLUTELY IMMORAL! What if such people adhere round about those apostolically excluded, in this way or that… It is thus, for any doing so, to act in the very face of the apostolic authority, with those who despise it, joined in this, that it is defaced.
Such derelictive disobedience, pursued and sought, thus becomes this: to write your own rules with the prodigious error of using His name still, while you do it. It becomes like using your father’s cheque book in order to finance a robbery. What does this do to his name, while you forge his signature!
Disobedience thus to Romans 16:17, AVOID, involving avoidance, is not a small matter; nor is any rebellion; for it is 'as witchcraft' and unworthy of the saints (I Samuel 15:22-23). In fact, says Samuel, in this context, stubbornness is iniquity and idolatry. Rejecting the word of the Lord, the criterion he announces to Saul, is courting spiritual confusion and worse.
Let us however return to the New Testament.
What then ? As Paul goes on to show, you must not even EAT with those of this disposition which he is excluding when they name Christ, nor must you keep company with them.
How extensive is this prohibition is shown not only by the stated necessity to leave the world if you tried to apply it to all people, but by these additional illustrations NOT EVEN to eat, far less to participate in anything more meaningful that the sharing of physical food! It is in the one sentence: not to be mixed up with such people AND NOT EVEN to eat with them! It is presented as an enforcement and application with singularity.
Consider then: if you tried to stay in this world and keep what he has in mind, YOU COULD NOT DO SO. If you stay in the same denomination with spiritual criteria ostensibly shared in common, and acknowledgement that you are a member of this joint facade, then you CAN easily do so. You can do anything if you can do that. Be your own auditor, write your own bible. But then, for such a person, who is God ? Failure to act is one thing, moreover, teaching contrary to his word, or seeking to excuse conformity to this world or not to the Bible, it is ... another.
When you come, to be more complete, to the category of those who frankly reject Christ as the only way to His Father, the sole avenue, as God to God, to this more advanced, simple and categorical case, why then you might as well, says Paul, expect to link the body of Christ the devil as do that! (II Corinthians 6:14ff.); for that is to conjoin light with darkness, the temple with idols. In that way, you make a twilight world, you parallel the neither hot nor cold ‘church’ and instead of proclaiming in disciplined obedience, Christ the light of the world, you combine His lustre with darkness, His integrity with the father of liars.
PHASES AND TRAILS IN CHRISTIAN BIBLICAL APOLOGETICS
The parameters of power, of intent, of the nature of revelation biblically defined, are relevant to Apologetics. .
Knowing what is said is needed to test; showing the proof that it is true is one aspect, the results of its declarations, another. Testing logically and empirically are further domains. Each has its place, and they inter-relate.
Thus, elsewhere on this site, the focus is sometimes on logically establishing, demonstrating the objective validity of the biblical doctrine concerning its origin and nature, its truth. Such presentation is found for example in SMR Ch. 1, Appendix C and D, and is extended in this way and that, for emphasis or summary in various points, as in The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy esp. Ch. 11, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9 ; given with brief overview of significant steps in SMR pp. 91ff.; and presented in terms especially of method, in What is the Chaff to the Wheat ? Chs. 3 -4.
Its unique capacity to meet reason and validity criteria is found for example in Deity and Design ... Section 8 with the sets listed there, and Section 11, including TMR Ch. 5.
The criteria and considerations of creation are provided not only in TMR Ch. 1, but more broadly in Deity and Design ... Ch. 2. Indeed, the entire scope of that latter work covers various aspects of the logical, empirical and analytical aspects of the Bible. Deity and Design, Designation and Destiny, which is its full title, enables whatever major facet or field is a matter of concern, in the system of procedure, to be studied with resolution provided. Such is the nature of the Divine Light of God, that His word providing the perspective and leading to the truth, this enables it to be focussed and shown in any field to which it is applied, both exhaustively in overview and uniquely in freedom from entanglement. Light, when divine, it is like that. It has no darkness; though to be sure, this world does not comprehend light (John 1:1-3), not because it is too dull, but because it shuts the eyes, as if the grace of it were a glare!
Such instinctive reaction (as in Ephesians 4:17-19, Matthew 13:15ff.) is not a normative consequence of our design, which is such that we are well able to learn of these things and find them, but of our disorientation and disinclination as a race, to be found by the light which seeks us; for alas, the darkness being what it is, does not comprehend the light (John 1:1-3, Romans 1:17ff., Ephesians 4:17ff.). This is so far from its being incomprehensible as is E=MC2 being meaningless. If in the latter, you need orientation in mathematics, then in that of divine divulgement and light, you need simply to open the eyes, for it is not an intellectual giganticism which is needed, but a willing confederation in the kingdom of heaven where truth broadcast must be received in its integrity and purity, which consistently gives 'problems' for many, who insist on adding their own pollutions and irrelevancies from confusion, which make darkness their 'light' and stumbling their result (cf. I Peter 2:7-8).
The struggle to suppress is pathologically but not systematically normative, as in Romans 1:17ff., and leads to a foolishness which is the direct result of blindness. Blindness however is not the criterion of truth, but openness. When this is followed, the thing is obvious as Paul indicates in Romans 1:17ff., II Corinthians 10:5 and such sites as Acts 13:40-48.
Then again, the verification proceeds in terms of the comparison of the results of revelation, its intimations, propositions, predictions, orientations and their consequences, and this is a fascinating and necessary undertaking (cf. I Thessalonians 5, TEST! as in Isaiah 41,43, 48), given much attention in SMR Ch. 8 - 9, as systematically in Ch. 5 of the same set, and more broadly in Ch. 10, and in overall survey.
That feature is to be found in a
Dwells with the Lord's Christ
Who Answers Riddles and Where He is, Darkness Departs
Bible or Blight,
Christ or Confusion:
The Comprehensive Resolution of Man's Intractable Problems
is Found Only in the Bible, the Word of God
A Pair of Volumes: Opus 128 and 129, of some 2.3 million words
Here, in this arena, the stress and import concerns what follows from what God has said in the Bible. Matters of biblical interpretation on this basis are for the sake of considering the point, purport and message of the text and so showing its qualities in assertion-actuality. In that sense, it is an applied area. Verification is its crown, validation is its prelude. Volume 2 of this set in particular deals with some of the logical elements involved, and their insistent, persistent clamour for satiation, found only in the Biblical propositions, perspective and revelation.
It is like seeing bits of the undercarriage of a car, and the headlights, and never being able to find out what the thing is, or why it is, or who and what is using it and with what purpose. You have to learn such things from a broader perspective, a personal interview with the driver and and awareness of how all of these data cohere. Simple indeed it is when you have gathered this information and digested it; but some become depressed, deflated and averse, giving up instead of believing and receiving from the singularity of the sovereign God, what He has so conspicuously provided in the Bible and its Saving Centre, Jesus Christ.
Let us however return to our present Chapter, and the insistence on finding the meaning of any given part of the Bible, not by adding cultural pollution, but in terms of what the biblical model provides: its own intimations and insistences. You do not, in parallel, presume to find out what Shakespeare really meant by studying what Ben Johnson may have said. You study Shakespeare, and the more eminent is the author, the more is it necessary to study intimately just what he says, so that the matter may be discerned.
This activity in hermeneutics is still relevant to Apologetics, because the claim-performance criteria of the Bible, to be evaluated in test, in order to attest it in its unique performance exhibition, providing a parallel of its origin and its impact: these demand require the ascertainment at all times of its meaning. This is a prelude to the work of verification. Thus, to move from the one model, with its various conditions, to their test, we do not change horses, or import contrary ideas and so merely pollute thought with inconsistency. The meaning established in the entirety of the model-face, the verification proceeds and the verification status is accordingly reached.
In disciplined thought, there come the restrictive criteria for such a case. The biblical conspectus involves that God is the Author, that His words have been subjected to spiritual control as shown in the references above, so that in their original status they are free from error and correct factually in perspective. He not only does not, but cannot lie (Titus 1:3, cf. Sparkling Life ... Ch. 4 Going With God Ch. 6 , Little Angel Ch. 11, as marked).
What then ? What is the outcome when the product is tested ? Its qualities must be ascertained in any given place, in order to see what then follows from it. On the one hand, there is conduct which the Bible-believing Christian must follow (as in Separation 1997), and on the other hand, there is information which may be tested (as in TMR Ch. 1 and The gods of naturalism have no go!).
What then ? This present Chapter, then, is about finding the data, what the Bible declares, as also in showing the conduct consequence from the same source. Other volumes and chapters concern more specifically its demonstration as the word of God, the truth, and again more, the task of using the data, to show the empirical triumph which they have in contrast to each option which may be used to divert from these statements and principles, to other conceptions.
So much is needed to ensure that no reader might confuse the present issues, since each point and aspect deserves to be taken in its own place, as the whole is pointed in this or that way for its ascertainment and testing. God is not afraid of test ? would infinity quail at the finite! Thus in Isaiah 41, 43, 48 He demands that one compare, that one consider the results of His words, and not prevaricate or equivocate: there is nothing of this scope with such results. It is simply fact.
See on this, SMR pp. 912ff., 1032-1088H. Just as ONE is Master (Jesus Christ - Matthew 23:8-10), and teacher, and we do not need that any teach (I John 2:27) in this, that servants serve and do not direct, and His word is made contradistinct as the Church recognised, indeed as it always was (Matthew 5:17ff.) and continued to be (I Thessalonians 2:13, I Corinthians 2:9-13, 14:37, II Peter 3:16), so there are no angels or pseudo-angels (as in II Corinthians 11!), who indeed in personal adulation or self-authorisation or reception of authority may seem such, who may add or subtract, innovate in doctrine or act except as undivinely directed. Indeed, speaking of such, Paul declares this: that since the devil who can make himself appear as an angel of light, it is small wonder if some who serve him may do the same (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
The Church from the first was securely founded on Christ and the testimony of those called for the purpose, so that even in Paul's day, the foundation was a thing past, so that the Gospel was inviolable, decisive and complete (Galatians 1), there being no chink left (Revelation 22:18-19) for the innovative.
See also ERRORS and SECTS.