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TO KNOW OF WHAT KIND OF SPIRIT YOU ARE THE CREATION!
Christ Active in Education
Jesus had been transfigured, revealed in radiant, shining light with whiteness and glory, speaking with Elijah and Moses concerning the death which, as a saving sacrifice, He should accomplish.
The disciples were then told of that salvation by death: "Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men."
This was not the first time they had been told of this (Matthew 16:21 is before the transfiguration). Indeed, there had been the announcement right from the first, by John the Baptist, popular preacher and renowned prophet (John 1:29): "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" he had cried, pointing disciples from himself to Jesus the Christ. John's honesty and fearless courage were notorious. Some then turned to Christ Himself (John 1:35), after John had again said this of Jesus: "Behold the Lamb of God!"
Was it not clear ? Isaiah had written of the Redeemer who would come to Israel, only to be rejected and indeed sacrificed in unbelief by the very nation to which He came (Isaiah 53:1, 4-6).
"He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He did not open His mouth" wrote the prophet (53:7).
"He was taken from prison and from judgment ..."
Thus, "when you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed..." Lacking through death, in children of His own, He would have spiritual children in those who put their faith in Him, and so being changed, became children of God. I John 3:1 puts it like this-
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!"
This then was something of the background when Jesus and His disciples came near to a Samaritan village, one in that territory which had once been a part of Israel, but now having been repopulated by an invading King of Assyria, long before, had a different race of people in it. Its capital city and name, both, were Samaria. There was little attraction between Israel and this neighbouring country. It was no easy thing for people of that land to listen to anyone of the Jewish race!
Disciples went into the village however to ask them if they would receive Jesus, and they declined.
The thought occurred to the disciples that maybe this would be a good chance, opportunity to do what the prophet Elijah once had done, indeed twice, in calling down fire from heaven to kill killers sent for him, soldiers at the word of an evil King.
"Lord," they asked,
"do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them,
just as Elijah did ?"
After all, Elijah, a prophet to a declining nation, long held in evil and sharing other gods, had been confronted by the prophet and since his work was not then complete, God had removed the soldiers sent to arrest him, until they realised that he would come only on God's terms. God had things to say and murder would not stop Him!
Could not Christ do the same to the Samaritan village! they wondered.
You know not what manner of Spirit you are of!
That is what Christ told those His disciples who thought it might be a good idea to send down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village, since it did not receive Christ into its midst. This occurred when He was set to go to Jerusalem on a vastly important mission, one indeed the like of which has never before existed, nor will it exist ever again. Let us examine this rebuke.
In other words, He is saying something like this, to those disciples:
You do not know the quality, the nature, the characteristics, the evident realities of that Spirit to which you relate, who is your Origin, your Base and your Creator, in whom you work, and for whom you are created!
You are unaware of the sort of thing you are engaged in, because of the quality of being, the essence of life, the criteria of that personal Being, that quickening and containing, that moving and overseeing, that institutive glory and constitutive moulder and magnificent Creator of mankind in general, One now in close association with yourselves!
The tenor of the rebuke seems to include this element: Here you are, dressed in the graces of Him whose you are and from whom you come as creations, now kin to His incarnate Son, co-workers with divinity, and that divinity which has made you, yet of this you here remain incoherent in concept, listless in perception, your approach alien in thrust!
Why had the disciples broached the topic of fire to destroy the village ? It was because it would not receive Christ. But why would it not receive Him ?
Thus, it was BECAUSE Christ was going to Jerusalem, we read, this being a set determination and purpose, that the Samaritan village refused to receive Him. This could have been for various reasons. Firstly, as Samaritans, they were not drawn to things Jewish. For a Jewish prophet to visit is one thing; but for one who is set to go to the Jewish centre, that is another. Again, while this might have been tolerable, despite the cultural cleavage and religious division, for Him to be resolute in heart and spirit to go, so that they were not only a passing phenomenon for Him, but one as it were held in sight only with the distant view of His Jerusalem call in mind, it might have been this that jarred. Not only was He going, but He was resolute and occupied in heart with the trip and its heavy consequences.
Moreover, they might have been willing, conceivably, to have Him come and stay and probe a while, as they reciprocated over a leisurely period, but not to have what to them would be a transient. After all, it was first of all in the spiritual sequence, to Israel He had come, though this was not an end but a phase; and this was a matter of vast portent as the work through that would move to its international and universal spectrum situation (as foretold in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, Jeremiah 16:19-21).
Naturally, those in the village concerned might have sensed about Him something so intensely Jewish, be it reformer or centre, that they could not conceive the application, unlike the Syro-Phoenician woman (Matthew 15:21-28), who spoke of the crumbs from the table falling to Gentiles.
THE DAY OF ELIJAH AND THE DAY OF JESUS THE CHRIST
This being said, we are left faced with the question: WHY did Elijah do the thing about which the disciples were so concerned, namely call down fire from heaven to consume soldiers sent to arrest him ? After all, it was this incident to which they referred, in presenting their query about fire to Christ! If it was not wrong to use force then, why was it not right now ? HOW COULD it be a question of what kind of Spirit they were serving, if one did that then, but now it was entirely wrong to do this! Such may have been a movement of thought within them, more or less explicit... At all events, the example was before them, and they placed it before Christ.
Such an approach, however, would be making a rule out of an occasion, and projecting one situation into another, where not only the case, but the considerations were themselves were entirely otherwise.
The circumstances were different, the need was diverse, the occasion was of another kind and above all, the mission of Christ was highly circumscribed: He came AS Saviour and not to condemn or fight against the world and its forces, at some physical level (John 3:17), since the mission was not only spiritual, but one which deferred judgment in terms of its own glowing centre of grace (John 3:15-16). Judgment could come later if need be (John 3:19,36); but THIS, the advent, the attestation and the actions of Christ constituted a crux of grace. It could not be defiled by an ingredient of judgment at the physical level.
To be sure, when remedy was removed, there was a result in the very spirit of man, but this was the nature of the case, and by no means an insertion of intervention. Man without Christ, denying Him, IS up for judgment; but this, this was the day of invitation (cf. Luke 19:42ff.).
The only blood to be shed was that of Christ Himself, the Saviour.
Christ could articulate the nature of judgment;
yet He had not come to apply it to man, but to have it, though due for man,
applied to Himself AS man:
this format a function of His mission to sacrifice for sin, and to do this to whom ?
It would be to no other Person than ... Himself (John 9:39-41; 10).
It was not lack of insight that called forth judgment so much as making sight a criterion of one's life, when in fact one was blind! NEW SIGHT was needed, insight from the Spirit of God and concerning God Himself!
To think oneself able to see, when yet blind, this is an illusory condition, which does not generate any thrust to find sight, and so remains, a condition ready for judgment. This is as in John 9:42:
"If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.'
Therefore your sin remains."
We see! if uncorrected by knowledge, is a mere statement of mirage. ONCE they did see, once they KNEW what manner of Spirit they came from, THEN they could understand.
Force would NOT be used, as Christ was quick to remind both Peter with his swift sword-play (Matthew 26:52, and Pilate as He showed what manner of Spirit was He, who came as man, who would not EVEN have His OWN servants fight to defend HIMSELF!). NO FORCE can be used to make the kingdom of heaven work. Its use is to exhibit the folly of unspirituality, not to insert faith, or bring about insipid and unspiritual allegiance.
Thus those who now hear of Christ are in precisely the same position: if it is a question of force or murder, of violence or political thrust, of social powers or personal panache, it is not even relevant. It is PAST all that that Christ works. He did not come, He gave as reason for His restraint concerning the Samaritan village, to destroy men's lives. Rather it was to save them (Luke 9:56 cf. John 3:17!). "The Son of man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them!"
THIS was the testimony concerning the FAILURE of the disciples to realise what manner of spirit they were seeking to serve, that One from whom they had come in creation and to whom they would answer as now they followed the Word of God Himself. It is a testimony to one and to all, to that day as to this, to any and to all who name the God of creation and redemption, the God of all comfort, indeed the one and only God of all truth, whose word verifies itself continually, He whose Son Jesus Christ, only begotten is no less the only way by which man MUST be saved (Acts 4:11-12).
There is no other
God, no other unguent of grace,
no other salvation,
no other sustained
and ratified, testified and triumphant,
valid and verified word from God but this of the Bible*1,
personal as Christ Jesus, worker of miracle, healer of multitudes,
speaker of reality, erupting beyond death in risen body,
a light to darkened counsel and relief to the unredeemed.
v There is no other way for man, no other peace and no other place for this race.
If anyone does not seek His face, the very face of God in this way, there is no other mode, mission, mandate, testimony of ages or work of wonder; and here only is the Creator of our own minds and spirits, bodies and world, available. Make another ? It is a world already made which is in view; and for those made to imagine they can make another 'God', the thought is mere mirage of mental exuberance and spiritual defeat.
The contortions of violence in the name of God, are the foibles of folly, the clangours of the tormented, alas also of the tormentors. While man must defend the weak, yet to extend one’s ways and wealth and lands by the testimony of mere force, as to seek to enforce one’s ‘faith’: this is mere folly, as if one were to seek to force man under the water, while his lungs slowly imbibe the wrong medium.
Christ had no such intention. It is redemption, not destruction which fills the air of the Age in the declamations of God. Yet mankind in this Age, in ingratitude and self-esteem, desperation and irrelevant incantation, performs such antics and contortions of grave irrationality with flaming eyes and lordly hearts, that disgrace is the ingredient poured out instead, while agony replaces the Redeemer’s ransom, and anguish becomes nurse to hatred.
This is not the way of God, who has done all, to whom evasion is as search for aridity with tongue hanging out, while water, fresh and clear, clean and cleansing, is on free offer (Isaiah 55). Where this error is made, in this way or in that, they know not what manner of Spirit created them, and need to find the One to whom all must go, except they desire a judgment without mercy, which nothing can then deter. What do we read of the word from Christ in John 9:41 ? It is this:
“If you were blind, you would have no sin! but now you say 'We see,' your sin remains.”
What refuses the light of life, has only death to relish; and then the taste is waste. What finds Him where He is, through His living word, finds eternal life, indeed all things (Romans 8:32).
THE GOSPEL AGE BEFORE THE CONFLAGRATION
Concerning what is wrought in His name in this Gospel Age of Grace, this torrential stream of truth in appeal, mercy in protestation, hope in the heavens and opportunity on the earth, this is all, beginning and end, which none can amend. This is the offer, this is the grace, this is the bounty and here is the blessing. To act to the contrary, it is mere war with God; and that, it is an end to all peace as to all truth. Its end is seen in Revelation 19:19ff..
God did not come as the Son of man *1A, via incarnation, in order to institute a regime of indifference or a work of comparative lack of zeal, while real purposes of some other kind were realised. The task was clear, true and reasonable, loving, investigatory and explicatory of love, implicatory of sustained unbelief, and pivotal in terms of preference, not from any indolence from deity, but despite the uttermost passion of Him who would have ALL reconciled in heaven or earth (Colossians 1:19ff.).
Purity of heart in Him is where it beings, and it is the pure in heart who see God accordingly (Matthew 5). His mission was simple: He SO loved the world that being given by the Father, He gave cover as the Son; and in so doing He had no surreptitious desire to destroy, as if the love were so circumscribed that it were a mere liking, or preference for some. On the contrary, it is the preference of some for darkness, be this found and known to God alone from predestination or exhibited on this earth, for all His knowledge is one in this, that it is perfect: it is this which is cited. It is not induced darkness or one which is caused to reject light: it is one which in the face of the love of God SUCH that He gave SUCH infinite value in Christ, which is its measure, and nothing at all short of it in any way. As the motive is thus defined so the breadth of the availability is in like fashion (I John 2)*1B.
NO endeavour is made in terms of limited love or lurking force, like some ill-tempered teacher, only just able to maintain his composure. The love is integral to His being, and the desire is as deep as His being. If the result is both limited and foreknown, it is not that there is any shortage or short-circuit in His love, a horrid defamation of deity, but that there is a known indisposition to receive it which is individual, and not just generic to the race: known to God, it is found in man, and it is He who knowing, acts. Yet the heart that sought from the first, and foreknowing, in logical sequence THEN predestined, is the One which came and which sought, so that He lifted up would have such effect that all would be drawn to Him. Many are called; few are chosen.
So He came, and so He acted and so He spoke.
This is the day, the Age of grace. That is not to say that there was no grace in the day of Elijah, but that there was the veritable downdraught of judgment, whereas here, in Luke 9 which we search, there was in the day of Jesus Christ on this earth, the Saviour, a vast Niagara of mercy and so, the very torrent of grace flowed freely and without admixture.
The relevant episode, in the day of Elijah, was a work where judgment was rollicking in a race for hundreds of years asking for it; here was salvation for a people who for centuries had been waiting for just that, as you see in the case of Anna and Simeon in Luke. Here was the Lord Himself to show the right spiritual way, not to be entangled in crushing with power the terrestrial bastions of the wrong one. They would meet their come-uppance in due course, Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and indeed Rome in its later overthrow by invaders.
More than this: Elijah was rebuking a King in theocratic office, that he might find the irrelevance of royal domain and whim, caprice and will, including false gods and tedious draughts of intoxicating spiritual liquors, for his task. There, Elijah had work to do, and when his life was about to be extinguished, God simply extinguished the means of extinction, for the prophet still had more to do; and even here, Elijah was willing to relent when the crass use of force was distanced, and so spared the third group of assailing soldiers, when its captain sought mercy.
That prophet's task was to startle and introduce a nation amiss, at the official and formal level, to its sins. When Christ came, however, the judgment was near enough, but this was for the time, a focus on grace, THE FOCUS ON SPIRIT IN SALVATION, which would come only once, though great was the mercy shown through the prophets. Here was mercy essentialised, grace concentrated, the fallacy finished, the truth wrought in heart and spirit and in mind, constructive and not destructive. Here was a kingdom born and effulgent, one which was inspiring and not declining, invisible but powerful with a dynamic that was uplifting and not degenerative, as was the official priestly framework. Here was as it is, the kingdom of heaven.
Here, oh world! here is your answer, the divine solution, the direct, uncompromised, wholly distinct, definably monolithic, indisputably gracious outage; and here is its intensively loving entry.
"Say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!"
says Isaiah 40 in the midst of the Messianic predictions (40, 42, 45, 49-55). The results of failure to find, to focus, to relish and to receive this same Jesus, they would come in a generation when Jerusalem was to lie as flat to the ground as were its authorities in Christ's day, flat and unbelieving in spirit. The opportunity for triumphing in Christ, in grace, in gift, in pardon, in the good pleasure of God, in the cost-free salvation, one that cost more than the earth to its Maker: this coming once, came in utter purity of content, nothing mixed or added, no other work gaining either purchase or thrust.
While judgment could be spoken of freely, it was not instituted. A hand withered, was restored; but a good hand was not withered. Tables of disgraceful commerce bringing into worship the spirit of this world were tipped over, but the managers of these appalling inroads were not harmed (John 2:15). Christ was not at all willing to MIX the MESSIAH with the results of NOT MESSIAH, being ready to give whatever it took to transfer the sentence on sin to Himself; but as to this ? It was not itself to be accomplished with violence that harmed, nor with rebuff that ruined.
In the time of Palm Sunday as we now call it, It was a tree which fell victim to His curse, and that as a symbol of what the voidance of His mercy and grace, exhibited at cost, sealed at infinite expense on the Cross, must mean. The olive tree indeed shrivelled in hours of His curse; but it was a plant and not a person who suffered. Indeed, in expressing His curse on the tree, He avoided doing any harm to any person, but rather appealed through this symbolism, so that they might accept His spiritual therapy, His personal salvation, and so avoid the thing shown, but not yet applied.
"The time is fulfilled*2, and the kingdom of God is at hand," He initially cried.
"Repent and believe in the Gospel," Mark 1:14-15).
It was a kingdom of solicitude and not of sentence into which He came; and since it was He and He alone who would take the sentence, endure the violence, have cast upon Him the vileness, draw like a poultice the foul passion of man upon Him (Isaiah 53:6), therefore it would have been of the highest order of clash, or even confusion, had He cast some of what He came to bear, on others!
This He did not do. God might use force, but not in the realm of faith. He could rebuke, but not in order to establish truth in the heart, as by violent entrance, but to testify to actualities of which man becomes so crassly unaware. He could overthrow the evil, but not as an exercise in faith, but rather to protect His people, or to deliver those oppressed, whether in mind or body.
When it came to the direct question of receiving Himself, believing in Him, force became as irrelevant then as it always has been and will be. YOU KNOW NOT OF WHAT MANNER OF SPIRIT YOU HAVE YOUR BEING! He cries at the very thought of retributive action for non-reception at this level. Judgment may come in its truth; but now it is grace in its excursion which is the operative reality which is pressing, imminent, priceless and precious.
If God uses His power to reveal who He is and what are His purposes, yet this is not as either an enticement or an abuse of power, as if to make resistance impossible. Reality is exposed, but faith is not thereby created. That is a matter where God only can move (John 6:62). It is not that He does not DESIRE it, but He declines to fire it by secular means or carnal rubbish, as if as in a war, the battleship were more important than the spirit or resistance! It is the spirit which enlivens, He cried (John 6:63)!
|"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing."|
This is true whether of eating His body in any physical or pseudo-physical sense, rather than accepting what its juridical death confers, or of imagining any thing or power of earth is to be worshipped. It is the ONE WHO has it and uses it, or even becomes incarnate, who is to the point, not the question of the current condition of the body, whether smashed and ravaged, as in the case of Christ, or glowing and exuberant. That is format; God is the fact in view for all worship. The identification of God is crucial as incarnate; but Christ as bread or flesh, this is not the criterion, but Christ as Himself incarnate, the Person whose worship is just.
GOD NEEDS NO MAN TO LEND A HAND IN THE WORK OF SALVATION
VIOLATING BY VIOLENCE THE VIRTUE OF HIS LOVE,
CONSUMMATE IN EXPRESSION AND FINAL IN OFFER
It is not the clothes but the King who matters. It is the point that as man He has come which is crucial; but now as Paul points out, we no longer know Christ after the flesh (II Corinthians 5:16).
"Therefore," said the apostle Paul, "from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know Him thus no longer.
Therefore , if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation."
In the flesh, Christ toils no more; for now is His very body glorified (John 20:17, Luke 24:26, John 7:39), and now His ONCE suffering in the flesh (Hebrews 9:12,25-28), it is complete. The key has opened the door; the lock is prized; the prize is freely available, the highway is constructed, the lanes are ready, but as they do not go downhill, they take careful walking to follow, but there end is sure and the entrance gate closing behind one on entering, for all things are now new, and it is in a new spiritual universe that one walks, as one of the very children of God (I John 3:9), temptable indeed, and vulnerable, but granted by grace the victory which overcomes the world, and now passed from judgment to Him who bore it (I John 5:4, 10:9,27-28).
It is from God, not flesh that this comes; the flesh served as a medium; but it is God who serves as Himself. Into this, His kingdom, the Christian is now placed as a child of God (I John 3), faced with the challenge of a life-time, but with the life for the challenge, kept by the power of God to an inheritance incorruptible and which does not fade away (I Peter 1:1-8), experiencing in the process a joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is not insipid; there are trials, tests; but it is not subject to any solvent, nor to any assault that can overthrow it. It is a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), with a distinct result (II Corinthians 5:1ff.). The power of God, that is quite sufficient, and the word of God, that is quite clear (Ephesians 1:11). It is better to spend time in the hallowing holiness of God than in the inglorious and vain questioning of facts. To understand, it is to go and to do.
This then has been wrought by Christ, the flesh His medium, the incarnation His entry, and the Cross His redemptive payment, the resurrection His authentication and the glory His gift.
It was the incursion, not its format which was the self-revelation of God. The format was a function; the Person was the pith. That He came in the flesh was crucial as self-revelatory in His own light and self-sacrificial in our form, to cover our cost. But this same flesh, it is format and not criterion; of incarnation it is the form, but of spiritual life it is unprofitable. What He does and is in it, this is crucial in its performance; but the form is not the point, but the Prince who used it. Worship Him, and not His implements.
What then ? Rather does God allow resistance at the spiritual level to the point that the spirit would fail before Him, if He continued. To the uttermost He is able to save, and longsuffering is He and slow to anger. But while there is no limit to the love of God in its triumphant ministrations (Romans 8:29-36), yet there is a very decided limit in the created and subsequently sinful spirit of man (Romans 5:1-12).
Man can take only so much, being a limited being (Isaiah 57:16); and God knows this; for what does He not know! He remembers our creation at the physical level from dust; and it is not at all a question of who can prevail in force, since the result of that is obvious and irrelevant. It is not about force. Had it been so, He could have forborne to create us, or having made us, have programmed us.
It is about love. You cannot force love. That is no small measure of its beauty. A man might give all that was in his house for love, but it is not in the same plane. It would be despised (not by marketeering fathers, but by those for whom love is to the point). Give billions to buy love ? It does not even relate; it is foolish, ludicrous, like adding grains of dust to grains of gold and imagining it is a simple compilation. Song of Solomon Chapter 8 deals with these features at some length and with a grand majesty of style and beauty of spirit, one fitting for a King who is the God of all comfort and truth, who is love (I John 4:7ff.).
It may not seem like love when you are rebuked; it rarely does (Hebrews 12). It may not seem like compassion when you are roundly degraded. However, the realm of thrusts of carnal passion and mental desire, of spiritual lowing and bellowing, this has to be shown its disintegrating folly; and when events are useful to do so, they may be so used. Thus, when someone astray keeps pushing a folly, then even the most merciful may at last allow the results to flow, or even encourage their impact, before worse things befall.
Moreover, when love is despised and life is abused, when vitality is vitiated by madness and foolishness is given the key to fervour, the time comes, whether with a nation or an individual or a race, when redress is needed; and this may even come to that drab finale to misdirected dynamic, when it will actually go over the cliff on which it has been parading itself.
Love is not a substitute in its offers, for wisdom in its would-be recipients, who do not disguise their drabness but inhabit the hells of unholiness with relish (Proverbs Ch. 1 illustrates this most dramatically). Its ambit is one thing; but to demit it, this is to inherit the violation of life and the vitiation of virtue which has its own reward.
Thus judgment may oppress yet it is not a highroad to faith, but an index to its mangling. It may help someone to repent, but this is because the utter worthlessness of ungodliness may thus be so indicated that even the blind see; but in others, it merely increases the bellicosity and the inane desire to be as god for oneself, and admit to nothing divine in anyone or in anything that can have any effect, whatever verbal waffling may be acceptable. Man in his frequent passion for independence can become like a space ship contemptuous of earth, ignoring its genesis and blind to its future.
With Elijah, these last residues of grace were being scattered like blessed ashes from a hitherto beautiful fire, and judgment was coming into its own. Centuries had come and gone, mercies innumerable has past, cautions and jars had come and gone; now there was a warning solemn with truth, judicial in appearance, better than the ghastly desolations which continued blindness were to bring. Yet they were at least like a picture, before the reality.
With Christ, however, the colossal wonders of burning grace had centre-stage, and the whole question of the inheritance of folly was bypassed, not in word but in deed, so that the entirety of love and mercy and truth might have its gracious impact, and none be in any doubt about the nature of the beauty of divine holiness. It was like a garden of roses: when it is a question of finding their ultimate and wonder, then thus and so is their delight. There is, at this point, no robust digging as might occur in another season. This is the bloom and its season and desire.
|What happens when
you fail to fertilise, do not water, do not prune, this is there;
but not now relevant. The point here is to display what it is all about,
what manner of beauty is here, and what manner of gift from God is being provided.
|When it comes to
Autumn, then deeds must be done to prepare;
but never let the labour of character and the toil of the trade
be confused with the peak of aspiration,
with what it is all about, what manner of attainment and aim, of reality it is
which is the gardener's dream.
He is not versed in soils and fertilisers and pruning
because these are fascinating, though they have their interest,
or because these inspire the soul.
There is a place for the very finale of beauty and grace to be relished and realised.
There is a place for toil, as for sanctification in spirit.
Christ did the relevant toil, and into those toils man could not enter effectually at all.
He may, however, when found in Christ, serve in that same serviceable spirit, which led to the ransom, though now it must be based in its entirety upon it. In Christ's day on this earth, there was the bloom, and there was the incinerator preferred for the bloom, by the unholy horticulturalists.
Again, these things minister to beauty and grace and charm and perfume of wonder, but they do not create that glory: they merely minister to it. No amount of soil care will create a rose from a stone.
So when Christ came, the beauty of grace and the wonder of love and the intensity of concern and care, and the reality of personal salvation were in total Summer focus. It was the season of grace (John 1:14) to be given its peak and eminence in the love that would endure spiritual desolation and physical torment, social ostracism and moral slander; and not retaliate.
Reality in its due impact would suffice. Nothing would be given any place which was merely personal, no quirk coming from temper and no lack of forbearance resulting from being stung by barbs of iron or of tongue: nothing of this kind would be permitted. God is not a Spirit like that. He seeks the good, pays for the remission, overcomes mere reaction and provides what is good; and if in utter folly, man ignores the good, disqualifies the beautiful, passes by the merciful and misuses the just, then the results come because such is the nature of the construction, that of the creation which is man, and such is the character of test.
This however is a resultant, and it is one which God is divinely most unwilling to secure (Lamentations 3:33, Ezekiel 20:8-9, 13-14, 16-17, 33:11): preferring to endure the Cross rather than merely cross out mankind. The brook of life is full and flowing, capacious in content and peaceable in mode (Isaiah 48:16ff., 57:19-21). The crook of the Shepherd is for rescue. The crookedness of man is not pounced on, but its solution is sought, bought and presented. To think otherwise is not to know the quality of the spirit of which we are the product!
Here then is that self-revealing Light, the Lord in flesh, God as man, showing to the knowing that their knowledge is awry, in short supply (I Corinthians 1:20-25), that it is necessary to orient far more carefully to the only, the true and the living God. It is necessary to find the Self-Revealing Light, Him who is the light of the world, without whom man but stumbles in darkness (John 8:12, 9:4, 11:9-10, 12:35-36); and in Him, to find that it is all of grace through faith (Ephesians 2:1-8), that God only may be glorified, and this since He is love and as Creator both of man as a being, and salvation as a remedy.
It is He who does it, freely, inventor and origin, marvel of mercy and most reluctant to judge, intervening to the uttermost; and for those who find Him, it is again to the uttermost He is able to save (Hebrews 7:25), and even making the grant of eternal life (John 6:50-51, 5:24, I John 5:11ff.), to secure the soul for ever (Hebrews 6:19). It is this eternal life which comes as an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:29ff.), without cost to acquire, though there is cost in its pursuit. It is in this everlasting gift that the nature, the quality of the Spirit of which we come is to be found. How different is grace from judgment, and how estranged and even divorced is devitalised life from the God who made it, sealing it in covenantal beauty, moving in what is now become His kindred through faith, with inveterate truth and inextinguishable wonder. To lose that, is to gain nothing.
These things are
(REASON LEADING TO REVELATION
REASON LEADING FROM FALSE REVELATION
attested in broad scope in multi-volume form in Deity and Design ...
Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ,
See All This Rot About Not Believing on the Trinity in this connection. See also The True God Has Go, Gives Grace and Glory Ch. 5, *7 and the references incorporated.
See the provisions on this topic in *1 in Chapter 2 above.
The time had to be ripe, like corn. Just as Daniel found the time of exile fulfilled as he sought the face of the Lord, so now Christ declares that the time for HIS Messianic ministry is fulfilled. It does not sidle up; it comes with notice, programmatic perfection, has to arise and arrive according to the eternal counsel of the Lord. It had done so; and Christ came with His Messianic power and pronouncement, that which applied then as now: REPENT. The time is fulfilled (the Gospel Age is one, though it had here a starting point). The kingdom of God is at hand.
Let us consider the scriptures in view here.
There was as 70 year predicted exile for Judah, at the word of Jeremiah the prophet (as in Jeremiah 25), and there was an escalation of the duration of prophecy announced in Daniel 9, in which not 70 units but 70 sevens were to be accomplished. This was set for the fulfilment of prophecy, In this, everlasting righteousness would come, and as it goes on to tell, this would mean the cessation of animal sacrifice.
After 69 of these sevens of years, Messiah the prince was to be cut off, and there was to be nothing for Him (Daniel 9:26), a complete rejection and graceless horror awaiting this sacrificial victim, who became so both knowingly and willingly (Isaiah 49-55). It was in the middle of the 70th seven, that is some three and one half years later, that the Lord would put an end to the sacrificial offerings. Man might continue; God gave it no more place. That is the approximate length of the ministry of Jesus Christ. The prediction and its starting point is noted at Mini-Messages ... Ch. 10 as marked; and detail exposition of the entire prophecy is given in SMR pp. 886ff., and to be found in Highway of Holiness Ch. 4. This gave a death date as around A.D. 30, which meets the facts precisely.
It is the most astonishing arithmetic prediction, as far as one can discern it, of all time. That is, no biblical prediction of this kind seems to pass it in displaying the inveterate comprehension of all things by God. ONE slightest deviation in ANY historical events in a whole long CHAIN of them could falsify what could not however fail, since omniscience KNOWS! and does, choosing to give us strong warrant to trust Him EVEN TO THE DETAILS of our lives.
It is not surprising therefore that this prediction impinges most directly in the death of Christ. As Paul declares it, "God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which I am crucified to the world and the world to me," Galatians 6:14.