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BULLETIN THIRTY SEVEN
Inspiration, Provocation and Unwavering Truth
God is the truth. There is no other. He knows it all, has it all, is in need of nothing, has no limits set, has no snivelling lust for anything, being replete and uncircumscribed. Christ, in declaring as the Eternal Word of God made incarnate, that He is the truth (John 14:6) said no more than actual fact. As such He is also the life, since conflict with reality is not truth, but either ignorance or lie; and when the truth has been told for thousands of years, as long as man has been there to receive it, avoidance of it is the more readily characterisable as "the lie" (cf. II Thessalonians 2:11), an adversative alliance with falsity, that mankind is increasingly coming to believe.
Yet it is not just the more obvious departures from the word of God which are the inane charge of those who seem unwilling, unable or astray from realising that there is no lie in God. He NEVER speaks what is deliberately false, though He may enunciate some ludicrous proposition in profound irony, which is a normal part of communication procedure, in certain forms of eloquence, of course.
Now in the Journal of Creation, Vol.30(3), 2016, we find at pages 25-26 an approach self-named equivocal. That is, it is projected that the recipients of messages from God did not have the vocabulary for God to transmit what He might have wished to say, or that He could not be understood if He had transmitted it at a superior level in certain practical regards, and that He took the option of making His statements in such (scientific) areas, as where this was applicable, of deliberately rendering His words equivocal. Only by inference could any find room here for attack. The inference is not in the text however, but purposely permitted by it, so that the people would not be needlessly fazed.
This is a very light version of the error of Calvin, where seemingly implying a foul Christology (bending apparently to what he felt a need, though not necessarily consciously doing so), He dared to assert the profound error that while Christ was moving in Matthew 23:37 in one direction in His statements, the Father was moving in another. Hence what is written is compromised. This is treated in Predestination and Freewill, in the section on Calvin amid others.
WHENEVER this is done, it is an insertion, an intrusion and a confusion which results. His distortion here (for some idea of accommodation) is banal, as is shown in that same volume, as elsewhere in the Seven Volume treatment on predestination and freewill, and their associates (HEPTAD).
What is WRITTEN IS the truth, when it is the word of God. It is not a stab at it, a departure from it, a variant from it, whether this assumption be based on this or that idea. It is at once a case of the ideas of man versus the truth of God. This then becomes oppositionism and stands next door to obstructionism, whatever the intention. That is always the danger of overseeing what God is doing: you simply presume.
Let us take the immediate cause of the application of this "equivocation" which is attributed (of course for 'nice' reasons) to God. It concerns the term translated in the New American Standard Bible as "expanse" in the context of Genesis 1:20, where part of the verse is thus: "and let the birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens." In the margin, it has "literally on the face of," and "or firmament." Let us consider the matter. The point is first of all that the Hebrew here rendered "expanse" for some in Genesis 1 sites, is a problem. That appears rather strange. A brief coverage is presented as inset.
In Genesis 1:7, consulting the Hebrew, we find that something like what is hammered out, stretched thin, lengthened and extended by thinning, is in view. Such, we learn, is the meaning of the Hebrew term in normal usage. The most obvious contrast is with what is NOT stretched out, thinned by expansion, but on the contrary very solid, dense, congregated, concentrated, things like earth. Conceiving earth as the opposite of thinned out extension, and so the latter as the opposite of thickened concentration, you have space and expanse on the one hand, and on the other, fixity, solidity.
To try to make from this point any idea that the space is represented as a solid entity, like the earth, or in analogous relationship to it, seems not only astray, but almost perverse.
Thus in turn the birds were to fly around above the earth and "on the face of the expanse of the heavens," as in the margin of the Revised Version is given for the Hebrew rendering.
Difficult indeed to fly on a hard surface, since the opposite is the norm, to fly in an expanded, thinned, stretched out, attenuated medium. That is in fact what the Bible is exhibiting. Waters were aggregated on the earth, and elevated in the skies in an assigned and extensive space.
It is necessary here to make a distinction. Indeed, anyone may make statements which take the reader just so far. The reason may well be that this is as far as he wishes to take the reader. Christ spoke of many things for which they were not yet ready. Thus in John 16:4, He declares this: "But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of tem. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning because I was with you." And more directly to the present point, He declared, as recorded in John 16:2: "I still have many things to say to ou, but you cannot bear them now."
It is always in teaching proper to choose the time and situation for counsel. But choosing NOT to divulge something at any given point, for reasons of open strategic instruction, is NOT the same by any means as choosing to allow error to lodge in the very midst of one's teaching, because things addressed are left deliberately wobbly in meaning, for the comfort of error. To omit with wisdom is to be sure, sometimes difficult, for one may long to go further, but does not in case there be confusion or too much at one time, and so forth. But the art is NOT by ANY means to allow a false conception, or to minister to one, or permit the retention of one. It is not only what one omits, but where and why and the context of what one omits it, that is to the point.
One often finds it necessary to refine something written, lest it become a lead to error, EVEN IF it is not one. Truth is not to be paraded, but presented in all things. NOTHING should deliberately be permitted to be a minister to the lie, to false conception. You do not have to educate in everything always, or how should it be learnt; but one does need in serving the One who IS the truth, to try to be, in writings of import, as much in conformity with it as wisdom can find, and the wisdom of God is not limited. That is one delightfully beautiful thing about the God of the Bible: nothing ever makes Him authorise evil. He may authorise what is less that might be; but not what is simply wrong, or motivated by permitting misconception. Truth and He are not in alliance merely; but identical. He is more; not less.
God may indeed say something deliberately consigned to awake by jarring with idle convention, or shaming customary concepts (Matthew 5-7, 23), all such things being in the domain of teaching and impact modes within the truth and in the very spirit of the truth. But allowing something in His foreseen and foreknown disposition of events (Ephesians 1:4, 1:11, Psalm 115, Isaiah 46:10), which would constrain Him later by its nature, to vary from truth so that the formulation is MEANT to allow error, is a gratuitous diminution of His divine prerogative, beauty and inalienable wisdom.
Buy the truth and do not sell it, says Proverbs. To the jot and tittle what is predicted will be effected (Matthew 5:17-20). With this power of truth in practice, to the utmost detail, there comes the rejoicing in it, which love does (I Corinthians 13:6), so that there is no spot on it. If the bride is to be spotless, how much more the saving 'husband', and if the Father gave Christ a command (John 12:48) what He should say and what He should speak, omniscience is never wanting. Again, we read in Luke 24:44: "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all thins which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled," italics added.
That is the comprehensive character of the standards, and indeed not only is the substance true to God but the very teaching expressions are, the words (I Corinthians 2:9ff.). God may, again, elect not to force an issue, and legislate only so far because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew 19:8). But exacting less than might be, in order to take them quietly, like a stamping thoroughbred horse, given a little leeway, is not the same as asserting that all things always run through deficits for mercy or provisions for care. Care however is not carelessness, and what is permitted is not the standard of what is perfect in conformity, but of what mercy provides. Yet mercy is not error, and restraint is no definition.
As Psalm 119:160 puts it: "The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever." There are not hidden errors or provisions for errors (not a matter simply of withholdings but of deliberately permissible distortions), but what remains fit for eternity. It is then always necessary absolutely to distinguish between careful formulation, constrained by truth, and what is carefully constrained on the one hand by truth, and on the other by error, or lie or whatever else in whatever culture or situation may be in mind. The word of God is seven times refined, and as one writes, one realises and rejoices the more, the supremacy of that standard brings rest and worship. It staggers the soul and enlivens the spirit. There is One who knows and who speaks, not an upstart but the Creator who also redeems.
People often in their limits impose translations or problems which presuppose God is not the author, and mistranslate, only later to be shown premature pundits and false leaders. But God's word as Paul declares and history confirms, is to be received, and was received as it really is, straight talk from heaven, the word of Him who, beyond all and founder of all, knows, says and fulfils, all three, what He means (cf. Matthew 5:17-20). Working on the Bible in this approach, you have access to what does not alter or falter. Praise the Lord for that.