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LIGHT FROM THE TRINITY IN BROTHERLY LOVE
ITS NATURE AND PLACE
Part of the reason for love's existence in this world - and it is not of mutual affection that one essentially speaks, where this is pleasant and companionable, soothing as this can be - is the Trinity. Without this, there would be no such thing as love for another, since it would not be there at all, for a basis, and its construction therefore would be outside the realities of the Creator, when making anyone in His image.
It is there, however. It is an internality of the most intense kind. In sin's domain, there are opposing elements: competitive emulation, dissimulation for advantage, lying for a lair for hiding and prospering and so forth. Therefore pure love is normally impeded. Abnormally, that is, in the spiritual norm of the design model from God, what it is meant to be and ought to be, this is released, and brotherly love becomes once more a part of the life which is created; though not perfectly. This no more means that one loves a little, any more than it means one is honest a little. It is THERE, this brotherly love, and so sodden in pollution is some University teaching, that some may gain the understanding that brotherly love is something sexual, or opportunistic, or a ground for acute competition.
It is none of these things. Competition may enter in, as in a friendly game; but the aim is never in this case to vex or destroy the other, but to take what is offered and to improve. Sometimes, tennis players are asked how they find playing a partner in doubles, now in singles, and this type of thing, as if competition is a destructive thing in itself, and a type of war and effort to outdo or opportunistically outwit the other so as to have more prestige, money or power for oneself. That is the earthy substitute for brotherly love, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Do not misunderstand. Even the disciples were prone to talk of who was the greater, but for this gained rebuke (Luke 22:24ff.). Worse, they did so not long after the Last Supper! Perhaps the fact that one of them was to betray Jesus, as He had just disclosed once more, led to the topic of who was the worst and so the opposite, who the best. However it came, it was so. It was soon en emulousness jarred to reality as peril to perish arose, as death itself loomed large on the horizon. Moreover, Jesus taught them that where greatness lies is not in listing of credentials but in actual service, and continuance in trials, in authenticity and actuality of association with the Lord in His ways. In Matthew 20:27, if possible, the case seemed worse. As with sheep, diseases can arise and the Shepherd seeks to heal!
James and John, through their mother, had a place sought for them, at the right and left hand of the Lord, in His kingdom. Let the one who wants to be first, be like a slave, He said. After all, did not HE have no place to lay His head, and how much care was taken of his rights to life, as some might construe them, in His early risings, outgoings of power, eating a meat which others did not know, to do the will of His Father in heaven, while on earth! Who would want to compete for such exhaustion from clouting and whipping and mocking and late judicial proceedings, that another has to bear the cross!
This was not brotherly love, and Christ by example and word, denied it access: as irrelevant.
Love does not seek its own rights and will and ways and self-elevation and comfort and power, position and premises. One may order such things on occasion (Acts 16:37ff.), but they are not the pre-occupation, the desideratum, and may if need be, all be foregone.
Brotherly love is something different entirely. It is to see as accurately as one may, the nature and need of the brethren and seek to meet it, even at cost. So with the preacher who seeks to aid the congregation, with the helper who seeks to do the same differently, with healing gifts. They are not even at all about serving yourself, but loving one another. You are not gifted with the gift of giving, in order to give to yourself, of healing in order simply to heal yourself, of preaching to preach to yourself, to indulge an appetite for talk.
It is about a form of co-operation which does not seek an atomistically conceived blessing and elevation. To be sure, as with Daniel, this may be given in great measure; but the life is not about reception as much as giving, with the power of God for the good of His people and the deliverance of the lost. The love of God does not NEED for Himself, and while men do, yet there is always the question of priorities and purity. Those who overlook their own pressing needs in order to accomplish their work for the Lord - my meat, said Jesus, is to do the will of My Father and to complete His work, John 4 - are showing love.
To be sure, you need to keep yourself in order,
for how will a broken car convey passengers! But this is not for pleasure or
portent, but for facility in service and for honouring the Lord who, having
given you equipment, might well expect you to maintain it well. That is not much
to ask! Bernard Montgomery, between WW I and WW II, kept himself fit, apparently
with a view to being ready for what was to come, and perhaps mounted like clouds
as if to come, before it did.
ELEMENTS IN BROTHERLY LOVE
Now there are different elements in brotherly love. We are all very low down, in this, that we have to eat and drink, and keep our skin in order, and wash out our eyes and digest and excrete, and are susceptible to injury, and error. There is nothing overwhelming about this aspect of things. Indeed, the difference between the love of God in a person, who acts in it, and the lowly nature of the instrumentality in these regards is quite amazing. Paul tells us that we have this treasure of the Lord in earthen vessels. It does help a sane view of our lowliness; and yet amazingly, paranoia is not uncommon, self-elevation is not rare, and the blowing of trumpets echoes so much that the quiet and still of the Lord may need many a door closed!
This tends to show just how wisely chosen was our lowly format enclosure for our spirits, in the making of man! On the other hand, we have amazing minds, staggering spirits, capacities, especially when you consider the whole team of the body of Christ, which taken together are a monument, a living monument to the workmanship of the Creator. Drop a stone from a height, however, and the cranium is crushed, the vehicle lives no more on this earth. Again, how amazing, these things being so, that man is so prone to pride, arrogance and self-importance, self-will or self-centredness, according as one or the other or all appeal!
There are then pits for the unwise, and for the unprepared, and costly indeed are these. Brotherly love, however, like a hurdler who does NOT tip the hurdles, or a runner who avoids the pits, is not a matter of pits and tip-overs. These are tests and they are challenges; the love is what occurs when these things do not prevail, when the love of God moves in the heart and wins. The flesh may creak, like a heavy door; but brotherly love has to overcome this, as any athlete must overcome weakness of muscles or frame. The running is not these things, but what occurs when the innate gift is released from such disturbances.
There are then two different topics. One is what is to be avoided, what battles are to be won, as one lives in the love of the Lord; and the other is what one does as overcoming, and when overcoming, in the normal walk and work of spiritual living. These need not be confused.
Within the confines of brotherly love, moreover, there are two areas. In one case, there is, as with David and Jonathan, a mutual admiration or joy, that is natural, sanctified by spiritual affinity with the Lord and HENCE with each other, and can lead to a blessed companionship of value for the kingdom, and joy to the hearts, where love dwells. The trinitarian impact in man's place as in the divine image, can in joint consideration in friends and close associates of one mind, abound in joy. On the other hand, some may manage to hit the exact note which tends to shatter glass in the heart, where some weakness responds to a weakness in another, so that association if among Christians, is as by discipline, when one is marching!
Thus in the one case, love finds ready expression; but in the other, it does not cease to discern its end and the grace needed to expand adaptation to what is not at once pleasant. In other words, in one case, it is love under siege, but it must overcome and break out. In the other, it is abounding already. In some cases, false brethren, like Demas (II Timothy 4:10), may exact much when they appear for a time to be brothers; so that one must preserve a quiet mind, even amid difficulties, knowing that if this were not a test or growth phase, or service component for Christ, it would not be permitted to happen.
Since inordinate affection is scripturally to be guarded against, as well as hate, therefore the dangers of either extreme must be tempered by the all-present and all-sufficient presence of Christ, and a waiting on Him such that one gains orientation from a wisdom greater than one's own. So far from this being a drag, it is a delight, for dealing with One so great and pure, is in itself an opportunity more than a duty, and to learn from Him is a privilege that makes life abound.
CHALLENGES IN COMPLEX PHASES OF HISTORY
What then of challenges during difficult phases of relationships ? One may not be particularly impressed with this or that feature or focus of one's body; but in the end, it is appropriate to love its members to the end or objective of their good together. I myself have a left finger which was crushed when I was four years of age; and this so readily cracks when I am not careful, and limits my piano playing with that hand, and limited golf when I played it. It is not admirable; but I have had to learn to consider it, and not chafe, to try to enable its best performance, by ignoring it or binding it or being careful, and managing the best for the whole.
So some may have weaknesses in the body of Christ, and one must consider their needs, without judging, but look at what transpires when it needlessly hinders, and seek what is good to ensure maximum blessing and result. It is easy in such modes, to judge things that one does not understand, without meaning to be censorious, and to assume what is not so. This can then lead to well-meant actions which may find the exact weakness in another which in turn results in response which on its way, tends to induce another, until brotherly becomes as intact as the pieces of orange peel, severally stripped off. Since it is obvious that this can happen, there is a joyous experience and a peaceful action available, when either as peace-maker or as one learning to understand, or with apology, or with empathy, or with correction in some cases, with truth, or being corrected, one may participate in the cure.
On the other hand, take Jeremiah. He had to tell the truth in the midst of lies, injustice, inequities abounding, hypocrisy, on which if possible Isaiah specialised even more (Isaiah 1, 29), and to endure the bumptious replies, keep his temper, answer in the name of the Lord as led, and seek good for his foes (cf. his gracious message from the Lord, seen in Jeremiah 17), whose brotherly love could almost resemble that of the Mafia. Of course, in that case, they were in the main, by no means brothers, serving a different Lord with a mere cast of thought, or tradition conceived of as minimally in common, which allowed them to harass, hinder and persecute Jeremiah. Judas was one type of these.
For all that, in such cases, it is easy for people to call the prophet Jeremiah, a big-headed, self-willed, socially undesirable remnant of arrogant pride and dismal life, without any truth at all. That was the opposite of the truth, but it may readily appear like this, to the dissident, the arrogant, the sojourners in Sodom, in idolatry, in the modern equivalent of "high places" where a composite worship is in view. Correction for such is intolerable, just as their own treacherous sins are in many cases incorrigible (Jeremiah 3:7-11, 9:2, Zephaniah 3:7; Jeremiah 5:3, 11:10). The last two verses appear below (bold added):
O LORD, are not Your eyes upon the
You hast stricken them, but they have not grieved;
You hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction:
they have made their faces harder than a rock;
they have refused to return.
They are turned back to the iniquities
of their forefathers,
who refused to hear my words;
and they went after other gods to serve them:
the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant
which I made with their fathers.
Again you see the categorical condemnation, NOT
because the Lord had any mysterious inclination NOT to show them mercy, but
despite His intense longing to do so, attributing here as in John 3:19,
THEIR wills as the ULTIMATE ground of their rejection in the very face of His
longing to the contrary. It is of course HIS knowledge in HIS way in His
pre-temporal scope, as He states, and the decision IN time is not from the
fallen heart of man, but from the prevenient knowledge of God, OF that heart.
Since church history has been full of contra-scriptural extremes in this case,
it seems needful to re-state it not seldom. Moreover as the word of God comes
into focus, it is good to consider it well.
UNTHRILLING WILLING WHEN AUTHORITY DEGRADES
However, never is it to be forgotten that in the end, GOD attributes MAN'S will, to the contrary of His own utter desire for all to come, to man's unavailability from his own contrary intention, to come. It is not a pervasive thing, however, but where it belongs, there it is found by God, who loves to show grace from the informed substance of His absolute and entire sovereignty, to Noah or to anyone else. He knows it all in advance, what He will do, and saves none from the merits of that one, internal or external, but in His OWN knowledge.
Thus not only in principle as in Colossians 1:19 but in practice as in the Psalms and Kings and Chronicles (cf. II Chronicles 36), this is what is found. Why God's word should be made into some foundling instead of a prized find in this crucial regard, centring around the cross which crossed out all inhibition on the free route to holiness and pardon with peace attached, surrounded with a divine grace not only in the origin but in the maintenance of fallen-and-to-be-saved man, is a question answered in the taunts of Sadducee and Pharisee alike, in Christ's own day. Preconceptions ruled, and just as the living Word of God COULD BY NO MEANS be accommodated by the ruling philosophical-religious-cultural powers of the day, so the same trend shows itself in history.
Once and for all, come to the word of God for the meaning of the word of God, and you will do well; suffer NOTHING else to have ANY ruling force EVER in the matter, for that way is traditionalism; yet use the gifts of men for HELPS, that function to the which the Westminster Confession so delightfully assigns its work.
Turning once more to the Psalms, then, what do we find ? This is to be seen in Psalm 81.
"I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.
You called in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered you in the secret place of thunder: I proved you at the waters of Meribah. Selah.
"Hear, O my people, and I will testify to you:
'O Israel, if you will heed Me: There shall no strange god be in you;
neither will you worship any strange god. I am the LORD your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt: open your mouth wide,
and I will fill it.
"But my people would not heed my voice; and Israel would none of Me.
So I gave them up to their own heartsí lust:
and they walked in their own counsels.
Oh that my people had heeded Me, and Israel had walked in My ways!
I should soon have subdued their enemies.' "
Again in Psalm 78:8, we find this characteristic passage in this theme:
..." and might not be as their
fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation;
a generation that did not set their heart aright,
and whose spirit was not steadfast with God."
So did God show the entire earnestness, the devoted desire, the effusive longing, and the dire discipline of all desire, to seek and to find them, knowing just what He longed to do for them and precisely what WOULD have happened if only they had heeded as it was His Creator-Redeemer's desire for them; but instead they reaped an alternative result, resolving His longing and their 'fate' in the sense of Psalm 1, as chaff.
In such modes, then, are people persecuted who, like the godly prophets, are moved by this same love of God, this disciplined and not loose seeking, which brings not to automaton status nor to merely apparent status by the same token, but to Himself for regeneration and restitution to the form of the image in which man was first created (Colossians 3:10).
Such actions as Jeremiah met scarcely savour of brotherly love, and indeed it was just such a fraud which hit Christ with such grief in His heart, when He was betrayed by those who wanted something else, other:
"If it is agreeable to you, give Me My wages, and if not refrain.
So they weighed out for My wages, thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said to me: 'Throw it to the potter - that princely price they set on Me. "
It was in the process of appointing what would follow from this licentious liberty of spirit, long foreknown, that God then appointed the result for ears to hear and lives to experience: "Next take for yourself, the implements of a foolish shepherd", then called a "worthless shepherd", to whom woe is appointed. So as in Isaiah 48:18, is the divine longing turned to the appointments of justice, of judgment instead. Mercy does not contravene truth: it meets it; but when that meeting is annulled, no more is left.
DIVINE PATIENCE AND OUTCOMES OF EVIL INPUTS
How long the Lord waits (as in II Chronicles 36, as in II Peter 3:9), before with such a reluctance, He acts (as in Ezekiel 20, repeatedly). Yet just as it was the Trinity itself who acted, when God the Sender gave mission to God the Sent, and He came (Isaiah 48:16), leading them in the way that they should go, as He says, SO His longing bursts forth even then with an entire depth to the heart, for their breach of His kindness and the thrust of His disappointed mercy:
"O, that you had heeded My commandments:
Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the see..."
But it is not so, then and now, and many are those who in the service of Christ, mourn as they see people and churches and nations, which drew near, go far, on the wings of needless delusion, casting away their destiny in determination not of the Lord, but of the human heart in its intrinsic pollution. As Jeremiah puts it, from the Lord,
"I have seen your adulteries, and your neighings, the lewdness of your whoredom,
and your abominations on the hills in the fields.
"Woe to thee, O Jerusalem!
will you not be made clean? when shall it once be?"
Instead, they brought false charges against Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:11ff.), the princes petitioning the king, "Please let this man be put to death," (Jeremiah 38:4):
"Therefore the princes said to the king,
We beseech you, let this man be put to death:
for in this way he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city,
and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words to them:
for this man does not seeks the welfare of this people, but the hurt."
That was in line with the expedient thoughts of the High Priest, Caiaphas, somewhat later, when Christ came in Person Himself, to tell them what hurt pride but helped destiny.
So do those sunk in sin, in rebellion, often make a craft for life, of extinguishing its godly requirements and if need be, those who faithfully express them: like those who condemn those who advise to quit your smoking before you quit your earthly life for this cause.
What a horrid joy and pernicious pleasure for those who condemn the godly, in their exercise of such rebukes as may be needed, against hypocrisy or misalliance, breach of righteousness in falling churches, blasphemy from the pulpit, evacuation of truth as happened in New Zealand in 1966, when the author was called (even by Session in that case) to confront the Assembly in an Overture concerning the denial of the bodily resurrection on the part of the Principal of their Seminary. What assaults, what attacks, and later, what efforts to remove even the fact that the Assembly was so confronted, what deceit, what denials, what unprincipled pretences even from an Australian Church concerning the matter: what a hullabaloo of horror there was!
It is as if the doctor who told you as in this case, the FACT that you had cancer is beyond the scope of normal evil, daring to speak as if your health system could conceivably have failed, is nub for the nuclear. How dictatorial, intrusive, invasive is he, goes the cry. One can well remember as if out of a comic book, a letter received from Presbytery in New Zealand in the midst of this challenge, to them as to Assembly, detailing the exact evils of which one had allegedly been guilty, in daring to confront authority and make the point that Christ DID rise bodily from the dead, as the Bible indubitably pronounced, as in Acts 2, and that it WAS the most unholy evil to permit its treacherous denial in the Church. Romping home with the ball for the goal, the next day or so, the Presbytery expressed regret for having failed to include another few choice adjectives or expressions of loathing in their first letter, now adding these to the denunciatory team of words already sent to me; and so they concluded their efforts at their own exculpation with these tirades of illusory judgment *1 . At least one was not being ignored!
This kind of ravaging and rampaging, then, against one exhorting and seeking remedy before ruin for a body, church or other, can breed an inward satisfaction on the part of those who harass and condemn, that at least they may not feel themselves to be quite as bad as that, and some may elevate in their minds (as the disciples began to do before being roundly corrected), a ladder of self-congratulation for themselves, where they are far from the bottom rungs.
Paul however did not even judge his own self, leaving that to the day when God would do the judging competently (I Corinthians 4:4-5).
LESSONS TO BE LEARNED WITH JOY AND THANKSGIVING:
FOR NOTHING CORRUPTS GOD
It is well, in the interests of brotherly love, in its due subordination to the love of God*2, to remember these things; for being judicial without being judge (the judge is at the door, says James), is itself a matter for judgment! Elevating authority to DO the word of God and teach it, to counsel, to judge those who exhort the same, is rather a pernickety substitute for obedience, on the part of whatever person or body. It will not stand that one cannot stand what stands for the Lord and insists on His ways, and so judges, then, now or for ever.
Within, then, the normal domains of seeking a peaceable path for brotherly understanding, there is this maverick aspect, where what seem to be brothers and name the Lord as their own, are by their words in collision with those of the Bible; and their application of their contrary, divergent or additional principles comes under a different head, there is a challenge. Moreover, they may not at once be seen to be such, so that a chameleon complication or a slowly divulged ingredient proceeds like mercury poisoning. This complicates the matter, as do spies in national life; but it is merely a masterpiece of the Lord to encourage counsel and prayer, vital relationship with Himself, while these challenges come, that they may go like stumps when one is ploughing, put to one side.
It is with joy and with thanksgiving that one passes through these tempests, for the Father has His own ways which one may see all the adverse winds, since more of His power may be called forth, of His encouragement and of His strength: praise be to God that these are always adequate, that He is always liberal, never sloppy.
Thus in brotherly love one must consider the peace and the place of things, in two ways. Firstly, there is what might be managed as far as self-control, and an expansive heart, seeking the good of all, is concerned. Secondly, there is another category: what must be managed, at whatever cost of wrongful condemnations against one's obedience to the Lord, to secure that work and so to reduce or remove judgment where one may, or induce grace which is His desire in thus mauled by false desire. Judgment, said Peter, must begin at the house of God, and where will it go after that! If there, much needs to be done in what is or purports to be the house of God; what of the rest who do not obey the Gospel of Christ! (I Peter 4:17).
LET BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUE
Let brotherly love continue then (Hebrews 13:1). In Hebrews this statement comes after an inspired and inspiring book on many topics. The last few included the fortitude and power available to faith, the sufferings it endures, the cloud of witnesses from the past now in heaven who surround those of today, the need to be able to endure the hostility of sinners, the discipline of the Lord, to be enlivened, hopeful, trusting and valiant, the fearful nature of the divine fire, which is consuming, and the awe of His presence, who not only shook the Mount where Moses was, but WILL shake the whole earth (Hebrews 12:26ff.).
Yet the Lord is kind, and a refuge for those who trust in Him. What would you ? you are suspended from a vine over a raging stream, caught up in it through ineptitude, and someone is offering you a way out of the situation, but you simply do not trust him and so perish. Trust is not an option, but is the beginning of renewed relationship with the Lord on the part of those who do not know Him.
While at the brotherly level, many are duped (II Peter 2, II Timothy 4, Acts 20:29, II Timothy 3), shameless shams, so that one must expect betrayers, in which I for my part seem almost to have specialised; but this can no more prevent wisdom from redoubled prayer to find the way the Lord desires, nor must wounds from the past inhibit the present. Prudence must grow, but even He who is wisdom itself, Jesus Christ, not only was betrayed, but knew this would be and accepted it as part of the plan for the triumph of His labours (John 6:70), this indeed being predicted (cf. Psalm 41,69,109).
If the electricity, then, at times jumps its wires, let us not fail to use it. If we are burnt at times, let us not fail to be abundant in good works, with good grace, and to let brotherly love continue. The understanding, the grace, the frankness at times, the forgiving spirit, the lively heart, the sympathetic perception, the willingness to help at short notice, the awareness of crises and action to match: these are things which are spiritual, divinely blessed, and intrinsic to that blessed reality gained from the God of all grace: brotherly love.
Consider moreover, the love which yields not to the temptation to forget the lost, straying, braying with the tone of asses, but seeks, searches, researches, yearns for the lost, whether in recalcitrant and impervious seeming folly from within the church visible, or outside it.
Consider Paul, who as seen in Romans 9, declares:
"I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying,
my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
that I have great sorrow and continual grief to my heart,
for I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren,
my countrymen according to the flesh,
who are Israelites,
to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants,
the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises
of whom are the fathers
and from whom according to the flesh, Christ came,
who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen."
This is an exceedingly close-knit statement in Greek, with a continuity of grammatical form which makes it all coherently, consecutively a unit. Here then brotherly love, inspired and infilled with the very yearning of God, seeks for those who persecute him, for those of his past generations, for those who had so much, who trifled with it so often for so long, who vexed the Lord to the uttermost ... and yet he yearns for them. Indeed he could almost wish himself accursed from Christ if by any means he might win them.
That, it is brotherly love; it is a gift of God, a task force from the very love of God, who SO loved that He not only could almost give His only begotten Son, sent not to judge but to save the world, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish: HE DID SEND HIM IN THIS GLORIOUS WAY.
Thus the inter-trinitarian immensity of intensity in mutual love, sends forth, as it were, a flare as does the sun now found to send out exceedingly large ones, and it touches the hearts of those receptive, if by any means what remains of the sufferings of Christ, that is, their application in contemporary times to those sought from of old, might attest the more and the more be gained.
In that case, the Presbytery's non-rave notice concerning myself as daring so to act in confrontation, could take no effect, since in that country at that time, Assembly met in two halves, over two years. Until my departure from New Zealand, therefore, we in the Session, until that too failed, had opportunity to appeal to the next Assembly against this mouthing and brouhaha of Presbytery, distractive as it was from the Presbytery's own failure and indeed refusal to join in the condemnation of the evil assault on the bodily resurrection of Christ (which it did by just one vote!).
Long before that time, it being apparent, since I was the only one in the 1966 Assembly on the basis of the infallible word of God, the Bible, formally to denounce the action of making bodily resurrection optional, that only more evil to unchurch itself (as in Revelation 2:5,21) could be expected in the case of this PC in New Zealand, I transferred to the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod in the USA. I had for some months sought to galvanise the people and help them realise their plight, but Session failed and so there was no longer any stay on the Presbytery's efforts to exterminate my ministry!
in this American RPCES, my ordination remained from 1967 to 1998, during which time this denomination had been absorbed by the larger Presbyterian Church in America. When it eventually decided to subjectivise Genesis on creation, I transferred similarly to the tiny Australian Presbyterian Bible Church, for where even two or three are gathered in the Saviour's name, there is He in their midst. In serving Christ, loss is irrelevant: truth and His honour remain paramount.
On the the PC in America change of doctrine, where it sought to authorise what cannot from the Bible, by any argument or even appearance whatever, establish what it sanctioned to satisfy some, and hence breached the conditions of association, read Let God be God! Ch. 12. The breach is not only in principle but formal, since in the Westminster Confession, the system of which binds that Church, as subordinate to the Bible, there are explicit LIMITS. This means that the Church must keep to what is stated in the Bible, or can by NECESSARY logic, be demonstrated from it:
Wisdom keeps to what is written, as did Christ in dealing with the devil, and to add to the word of God as condemned in Proverbs 30:6, in order to endue a church with authority for extra, extraneous or merely desired ideas, is to engender its own doctrinal traditions, condemned in Mark 7:7ff... That, it is merely to make a new traditionalistic Church, like that of Romanism, in rank mockery of the divorce from that fallen body.
The fall even among churches that was to come before the rise, the resurrection is most dynamic near to the time before Christ comes (II Peter 2, II Timothy 3-4, Matthew 24:24, Revelation 13, 17-18 cf. SMR pp. 946ff.); and as it was, so it is. It is useless to shut the eyes, bury the head in the sand, and do an ostrich work. The shut eyes and the shut heart do not establish any safety considerations, but only increase by folly what faith must face.
One of the practical results of having the FIRST commandment in place, the insubordinatable love of God above competitive considerations, is this: that if someone wants SERVICE and aid in terms of brotherly love, then things such as 'HELPING' in crime, immorality, robbery, hypocrisy, self-deception, are excluded before they arise. One set of moral values is thus delivered from helping another set where they contradict, the FIRST taking precedence. There is in this no need for adjudication, since one of them is a whole ORDER above the other. Moreover one commands ALL the heart, so that in challenge, in differences of what appeals from a contrary source, there is nothing left to command.
The relevant love for God is with ALL the heart; and that for others, as oneself. Indulgence of self or others for the sake of distancing the love of God in an invented milieu has no relevance to Christian command or living.
Further, since helpfulness has its entire place, orientation and disposition at the command of ONE GOD, ANYTHING which appeals in contradiction to Him, is by definition out. You exempt what is against His will and word, as a private puts the Field Marshall's word above that of a Captain.
If only those who obey captors and opportunists in terms of fealty or fear, admiration or hope, would consider this, their moral sweat could be avoided.
SINCE God IS love, and His commandments are its expression, derogation is mere chaff.
Does this make one unfeeling for those who are caught in some folly, and whose feelings, heart, convictions are for a time astray, in captivity are alien to the Lord ? Not necessarily: Christ wept over an alienated Jerusalem, and spent much time in seeking it out; but He did not join its woes or ways, and was killed for it, as He spoke of the PRIOR claim of truth (John 12:48-50), and commission (John 4:34)
Further, His duty was not only to do the will of Him who sent Him, but to COMPLETE HIS WORK. This leaves no place for surrogates, substitutes and voyages of illicit discovery. God is sufficient, and true and righteous and just and compassionate, and knows all things. Beyond that, is merely less, unlovely and injudicious as an aim, principle or procedure.
Indulgence is not the same as help, and having a standard and a standard bearer in Christ not only defines brotherhood but denies false claimants; for some have another father, as Christ revealed (John 8:44ff.), even among religionists, even indeed among those who name the same God; and loyalty to that other one is not love but deception, fraud and ruin. Help in that is mere treachery.