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CHAPTER FOUR

Batter the bitter

and disperse it;

but Secure the Sweetness of  Salvation

and imbibe it -

Matthew 22, Romans 10:3, 5:17-21.

 

The rupture of vain pretension, the horrific anti-glories of self-affirmatory self-assessment, self-display, self-made morals and trust in oneself is one of Christ's most potent assaults. You see it in the parable of Matthew 22 in which, after vast preparations, a vine-yard is prepared for occupancy. Those taking it AS GIVEN then fail to provide the fruits, the rent required for the use of such prepared facilities. They are rough with those coming to collect, eventually wounding and even murdering them. They consider themselves in line to be heirs of the whole place, free, gratis and for nothing, when they murder the Son of the Owner. Their guilt is plain, their position untenable and their destruction assured.

In Romans 10, Paul laments at those of his own race in their religious antics who are moving in such a life and manner as to seek to establish their own righteousness, their own title deeds for moral glory, spiritual significance, using what is given freely, ignoring the SORT of fruits required, and playing havoc in their mis-tutored minds, with the realities of ownership of their created liveson the part of the Creator, with necessary cover on the part of His Son. Whether equivocal, in an eternally significant and temporally endless seeming spiritual shoulder shrug, or invention of the melody of missing evidence, or in mere inanity of groundwork, seduced into spectacular idolatry of what has no more power to make itself than a baby, the universe, nature and the life, they do it their own way.

As all about them displays day by day the reality which they grab in vain, as the work of God,  in the realm of reality and verification, or in any other connivance with unreality, the result is the same, for they will not worship nor attribute creation to the Creator, nor just cause of condemnation to themselves. It is for this they are condemned, living in allusions of irrelevance and delusions that it is all for them as they will, to utilise as they will, in whatever way seems either good or bad to themselves. Such gods, so far from being unable to die, assure their death in the torment of disillusion (cf. Ezekiel 28:9).

Neither is the individual nor the race the criterion, but merely a site of divine disposition, made ready for the occupancy cited. ANY race in ANY place at ANY time in history, since the very beginning, can make the same errors, some more guilty because they have been given more light, and yet not repented (cf. Luke 13:1-3), and some carefully oblivious, to face at length the Messiah in the divine way apportioned (Acts 17:31), all as assigned from the divine foreknowledge in terms of the glory of God.

But HOW is it assigned, and with what criteria ?

What here is included in the glory of God ? It is this. It is His nature  PLUS the necessary but self-chosen deeds required for the deliverance of those amidst mankind who are concerned to escape delusion, demission of responsibility, arrogant pride, perfected presumption, renegade rebellion and whatever else is contrary to truth. What are those divine deeds making such restoration of the members of the human race available ? It starts with the greatest of all mysteries, the fact that God COULD and WOULD  love such as we are. That is in every sense miraculous. It is a testimony to His wonder as the Bible affirms in parable, vivid word and overarching depiction.

There are indeed in the Bible NO mysteries involving problems unsolved, far less insoluble, and that is what is expected of the wisdom of God (cf. Proverbs 8:8), and a vast and decisive index to its truth since in this there is no even any competition  elsewhere (cf. Department of Bible Vol. 7, Ch. 10, Vol. 8, Chs.   7, 8, 15, The Wit and Wisdom of the Word of God ... Ch. 2, SMR Chs. 1 and 10). There is no systematic problem left to be found, in what is given, however much more is to come in its time. That is a staggering but much investigated fact*1.Nor is there any looming data which will change the nature of things as presented in the Bible, for it, we are instructed, will merely show the wonders only now seen as a prelude, in their intensity and immensity. Even the DEEP THINGS are already revealed (I Corinthians 2:9ff.), so that in quality and nature, there is always a truth which endures, and it does so for ever with whatever glorious additives, expatiations and revelations.

The love of God then is as shown.

Not only so, but this love was such that it disdains the minor key misery in favour of the major key of joy in that there is no more that COULD be done to save the members of this straying race, so forgetful of its place, so inventive in substitutes for the unique evidence that God has given, with no change in the tenor of that revelation for millenia, its place merely affirmed the more as time makes knowledge more available, and the actualities of our hi-tech natures and low-moral deeds as a race become more obvious, if possible, yet.

Further, it was not an aristocratic sweep of the very best, as may have been the intention, judging from results, of the Babylonians when they chose choice young workers from Israel to labour for the empire in Babylon, on defeating the misled nation of Israel at that day. Not at all was it this (I Corinthians 1:27-28), for it was a love which was FOR THE WORLD. As John 3:15-19 shows, it was, that being said, great for the world. It was great in intention, that it might be saved; and the world is identical with that brought into context in John 1. Everything that was made was made by Him; and  nothing was made without His doing it. Such was the construction. There is the world loved. That is its identity here (cf. Department of Bible, Vol. 8, Ch. 7).

There is the same SO loved that God gave of His choicest, HIS only begotten Son, to enable Him as man to redeem man in the midst of reality (Hebrews 2), since this was a PERSONAL bearing of PERSONAL sin personally committed, and to be personally remitted.

Further, the love did not limit itself to statement (like the statement of the willing re dealing with the IS unnational body), or to formality (as so often in the UN, to the point that many adopt a derisory attitude to this much Islamic enmembered body);  but it dealt with naked reality, leaving this same Son to die in open shame and shambles, in terms of His executioners and their approach to deity, bearing sin to the point of actually experiencing the sense of separation from God which it brings (Psalm 22, Matthew 26, Isaiah 59:1-2).

The resurrection itself was back into human format, being a substitute for rotting, for God does not rot, willing to die as He is. He showed what He had done, just as His enemies could not show one single thing concerning it. As a captive, He simply was not there and the empty tomb, so lavish, in its own garden, newly hewn, a wonder that wealth could purchase and the lovers of Christ could mark well, it was there. God did not skimp. For 40 days Jesus Christ instructed, ate at will, and could even invite the empirically minded disciple to check it out in gory detail, with his fingers.

All this He bore. That was the practical character of love, bearing all, performing all, dictating to none, expressing the truth, as truth, showing the necessity of what He had done, no less, and the love in which it was done, as in John 17.

It was this, not self-affirmation on the part of  self-deluded man, or self-praise on man organised to present himself, like one for employment, now for divine deployment, as if to congratulate the dead on the particular form of spiritual morbidity they were pleased to choose for themselves.

The scope for love, from God, for man, so that man might respond, the matter clear from foreknowledge and available for experimental reality in time, is intense. Thus even those who had not heard of what the Messiah did, so that they might believe, of what the love of God was willing to do, and the outcome of His passion: these were not condemned in ignorance, but not until they were DULY faced with this reality was final judgment to be proclaimed, as you see in John 15:22ff..  God is very able,  infinitely so; and man who is not, often appears to confuse himself with God, an infinite error.

As to man, he is not at all infinitely able, though at times his cussedness, to use an old term, his obstinate, obstructive and at times almost obsessive dismissal or  neglect of, or  systematic or merely blasť indifference to the truth might make him seem  so in a negative sense! At times, it can almost be smelt like chloroform. But God! HE does not SO love the world and then muddle or mess with this love so that any who would be marked as His in reality, receiving His salvation (cf. John 1:12) were lost in a technical hitch with time. His wisdom is infinite, and the principles are clear.

Colossians 1:19ff. is emphatic and dramatic in pointing out unsubversively that God would have ALL to be reconciled to Himself, whether in heaven or on earth. Such a point was made by this writer when at Westminster Theological Seminary in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, in the theology class with the eminent professor John Murray; and it was never at any time answered.

That is what it says. That is what the case therefore is, if your interest is in the exposition of what is in the Bible, of the word of God as so affirmed in that place (and that, for its part, was no error!). The love is affirmed in John, and the thing is re-stated in I Timothy 2 and aflame throughout the Bible in particular cases of divine longing and mercy, effectually stretched to the limit (itself found in our created natures, as in Isaiah 57:15), such as exhibited in Ezekiel 33:11, Jeremiah 1-17, Psalm 78, Ezekiel 20, Jeremiah 30-33. This love is long, patient, impenitently passionate, staggering in intensity, in immensity, in depth, a glorious thing often intended when the word 'grace' is used.

When sin abounded, says Paul, grace the more abounded (Romans 5:20). Justification with God comes only as a gift (Romans 5:17-21, 6:20, Ephesians 2:1-12). The arrogant presumption and self-serving theft of the renters of the vineyard noted in Matthew 22 is its own form of antidote, not to poison but to grace, not to the performance of marvels self-assigned by God Himself, but to their reception. It can be like teflon.

It is like a living fish which, free to swim, nevertheless insists on being gutted. It is the goad to goodness, not for its presence but for its omission, and the self-elevation as of an aristocrat in the French revolution, INSISTING on having the head set on the block, to  dare the axe, or to exhibit its supposed ineffectuality!

THIS is the condemnation, says the Lord, that light has come into the world and men have preferred darkness (John 3:19), their deeds, perhaps touted in defiant self-will, being misplaced as criterion in their own eyes, their hearts unhallowed, their spirits hobbled with unholiness that WILL not find its own sin or endure accepting the common imprint, 'saved sinner'. Those so high in self-regard and self-will, insisting on writing their own bill of health without reference to the great Physician, misdiagnosing their own cases with a peculiar opacity, looking sideways in their own loftiness and ignorance, not upward, do not thereby escape the disease, but merely its cure.

Small wonder the Lord so often lamented and with such depth, as in Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:41ff., Jeremiah 1-17, with such passion, expounded and exposed the truth in attestation in vivid parables and images (cf. Hosea 12:10), and appeals to man to realise the depth of sin and the necessity of the deliverance from this spiritual cancer. Multiple in kind is sin; but it is singular in consequence, which man in himself inhabits, falsely loving to claim his own thought or idol, like a triumphant seeming robber, lithe just before the law apprehends him. Where, he for his part,  WILL not apprehend, it does.f

 

NOTE

*1 On this, see for example the following work. Its components are listed in summary. It is estimated at covering some 5000 pages.

LIGHT 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