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THE PRIZE OF THE PEACE OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD
APOLOGETICS, APOLOGY AND REPENTANCE
THE PROPOSITIONAL CASED IN THE BIBLE AS THE WORD OF GOD
In Chapter 7 above, for which this is really the application, following Chapter 8's excursion into religious developments in Australia that need attention, there was joy about a matter. That ? It was the liberation of Biblical Christian Apologetics (BCA) from intrusive befoulings from various theological sources which failed in biblical fidelity. Remove, in other words, the fuel-filled aircraft from their intrusion into the building of BCA, and it stands superb, free and functional. There is no need for apology for it, just removal of what does not stand and does not belong. As in a hospital, cleanse and continue.
With the removal of such errors (as in a delightful mathematical proof), the flow of understanding is not only profound, but delightful. Some may be apoplectic at such wonder from the Lord of Creation, such a testimony, sharp as an arrow, and as straight in its line to the target of truth for mankind, that the Bible provides, and in which it persists, sound and insuperable. That is the way with the word of God from every angle. . Some may at last realise that there is NO APOLOGY for the word of God. It speaks, and even in rationality as in spirituality, none can still it.
The beauty of biblical consistency, insistence and persistence could then be seen clearly, as when windscreen wipers take away the polluted moisture, so that you can see. Then the light penetrates, as so often in so much (cf. LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST, and What is the Chaff to the Wheat! Chs. 3 and Ch. 4).
THE PERSONAL, ENCASED IN FLESH, THE MESSIAH
AND HIS FLOCK, ENCASED IN GRACE
Now it is time to follow up in this volume on
prince of peace (the peace often forfeited by failing to have Him as prince),
the Lord of Longsuffering (which not only saw
Him come to the Cross
the Christ of Command. That, It is no mere
Let us ponder the case where someone is seeking, with moderate interest, then, to find the Lord, the life, the solution, the way assigned to man.
THE WAY OF LIFE AND DEATH
DOES NOT HANG ON A HAIR:
BUT ON HIM
If then you are moved to seek, this portends well. It is essential however not to rest content with what has preceded life on earth, that is, the foreknowledge of God; for unless you are already His, through conversion, you simply do not know what that is. It is as if exam results are not yet (as far as you are concerned) out and available.
If, on the other hand, you fear lest you have been omitted, yet knowing full well the desire of the Lord for you, take heart; for you cannot fail if you ask in faith, so conclude it by doing so, ensuring that nothing be left undone, and that while breath is in you, you appeal, apply to and receive Him (John 1:12, 5:24, 6:50-54, 4:14, I Peter 1, Romans 10:9), thus made free to continue in Him, and with Him, and through Him, since He is faithful who calls you, who also will do it (I Thessalonians 5:24). Faith in the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26) by grace is conclusive in the realm of the inclusive (Ephesians 2:5-8). it is the robust signal of salvation. If in your heart you believe, for example, that God has raised the murdered, sin-bearing Messiah from the dead, and confess Him, the same Christ, with your lips, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).
You don't want to be making other christs, however, or other gospels, or to imagine that because it is simple enough for a child that the devious speculators or the mixers of man and God are in the least included (II Cor. 11, Col. 2:8). Leave that then and keep to the point, and it is both sharp and clear.
Confess ? you CANNOT do that unless He is there to confess, in your heart (Romans 10:9). SINCE He desires to be there (Revelation 3:20, SMR Appendix B, Bible Blessings Ch. 3), your invitation seals it, when it is to the RIGHT PERSON, not some new-fangled, mentally butchered christ of your own making (cf. II Corinthians 11 and Luke 2:26). When the high priestly circle wanted to crucify Him (John 11), as after His amazing power was exhibited in the raising of a four-day-old corpse, with complete conviction and assurance, on arrival from another place, He might bring crowds of believers to His kingdom, THEY were adding THEIR views and their religion, to Him. It was admittedly in the form of a negation, but they did believe in principle; just in the wrong Christ, because they both added to and subtracted from the word of God. It is often so. By changing the Bible, making some new-fangled neo-faith, they subtract the Lord, whether by crucifixion in the body (as then), or by the same type of movement in their minds.
It is one way of proceeding to "tread under foot the blood of Christ," which clearly is not a variant of taking His sacrificial blood, testimony of life so given, as index of your trust in Him as Saviour. The one is ruinous, the other reverential. But this has nothing to do with the simplicity of the Gospel: you do not show reverence by murder, or faith by reconstruction.
So He is there, does not change, the resurrection being the more dramatic of His attestations of that fact, even death being beaten to death rather than being able to hold Him, since nothing can do so (Acts 2:24,31), as foretold centuries before (Psalm 16, 22, 40, Hosea 13:14, Ezekiel 34). This being God (Isaiah 48:16, John 1, 5:19ff. Philippians 2:1ff., John 8:58), you need no relays. In coming to Him, then, you have all (as in Romans 8:32).
CAN you still lack ? Not if you believe (John 5:24). If at some stage, you are hearing His words and believing in Him who sent Him, then here are results. It is like a critical mass regarding atomic bomb work; but this is constructive in the result with a dynamic yet more vast, than is that in destruction.
What then does John 5:24 tell us that is applicable in any such case.
First, you do not come into condemnation, secondly you already have eternal life and thirdly, you have have passed from a condition of death to one of life! The reception of faith in Him, as He is and in what He has done, means the reception of His gift (Romans 6:23).
Salvation is of the Lord and not from yourself, so that the matter is in His hands, already pierced, so that you by His sin-bearing are inscribed on His hands (cf. Jonah 2:9, Psalm 27:1, 37:39, II Peter 3:14-15, I Peter 1:5-8, Galatians 3). Do you NOT trust Him? there are results for this too. Then prefer yourself to Him for all you are worth, and trust in yourself. But why trust a sinner before the Saviour, before God Almighty whose test record underscores the written record, so that both He and His word are in harmony, entire perfection in their declaration and doing (as in SMR, TMR . andLIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST for example).
You are afraid to step out of your boots and be led by another ? Since however you have no choice but to be self-led or Lord-led, is it reasonable to trust the product beyond the Producer, to the interplay of spattering events, genetic distributions, psychic urges and variable purpose rather than your very own self or its appointees at your personal pleasure and desire! This is the more so in this, that in Psalm 1 we learn that it is precisely this lightness to which the determined unbeliever is consigned, like chaff in the wind. Some chaff may have pointed edges, but it is still chaff, and the wind is still wind.
But your interest lapses. If so, let it be. In the end therefore, you prefer protoplasm that dies to Creator who lives and made it live, to the Redeemer who died once that you might live forever! Yet you say, No! Never. What a fool is that, who builds bigger and better barns for his psyche, and has nothing in it to store, or to conserve the wheat, letting go the chaff! Then trust Him, receive Him and enter that door by faith as in John 10:9, which is He, Jesus Christ, from which there is no reverse; for whoever enters in will be saved, emphatically and declaratively, the mode of it traced out in detail in John 10:27-28. Read these promises and see for yourself, if you trust in the living God and in His power to save, to know His creation and to rescue on His stated basis, which is sure.
Yet you want, perhaps, to be able to reverse ?Then you still trust yourself (ultimately) more than God. But we saw the folly of that. Therefore be crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20, 5:7), and let the life you now live, proceed from Him, as He prescribes. What better ? I am very much in favour of getting to the basis of things, and home base being the God who made me, that is the place; and since it offered by grace, I have no fears at the outset that He is inadequate, nor does any inadequacy in me matter, for it is a gift BY grace (Romans 5:15). I am not in the business of creating either material or spiritual universes, but happy to find in the one the testimony of the other, from the services and power of which it came (Hebrews 11:1-2, and the on in its testimony). The home base is the place where one can feel at home, without having to trust in feelings!
That after al, is how it should be (John 7:37-39, :14, John 15:7, 6:50-54), a man from his God, and for Him.
Then look with relish at Colossians 3:1-4. SET your mind on the things above, His meaning given to you, His perspective, His power and majesty, His will and love, His kingdom and your work in it, His grace and your reflection of it as a light in a dark place (cf. Philippians 2:17). If then you are in Christ, then your "life is hidden with Christ in God," and you have this consolation, expectation and triumph to come, that "When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." There are many glories on the earth, like dawns of purity and sun-sets of knowledgeable artistry, traced through the centuries, the love that does not set and the faith that does not fail, being based where its object is worthy; but the greatest glory is it source in heaven, who came to earth, who attested the precision of His power and of His way, and who calls.
Yet you may shiver with fear lest something go wrong ? Don't, for God seeks you (Colossians 1:19ff.). Dithering is undesirable, quivering is better but faith has its stay in Him (Hebrews 11, II Timothy 1:8ff., Romans 8:30ff.), and His love, when found through the Gospel, is there, it casts out fear (I John 4:18-19, Psalm 27:1-4, Psalm 17:15).
Yet you may wonder whether your heart freezes ? It is frozen already if you don't know God: so seek the warmth of His love, for the sun of righteousness will appear with healing in His wings to those who fear His name (Malachi 4:2). You don't have to generate, being placed where it is when you come through faith by grace to Him. Indeed, we know that the fear of the Lord is clean (Psalm 19), enduring forever. Reverential trust in Him costs nothing, except your life, and its presence as set in Him, breeds all things needed, including life as from the dead, regenerate like a seed that spring up, always ready, but never planted (Romans 8:32, 6:23).
What if, however, someone may ask, He has already decreed my omission ? You fear God and have faith in Him by His word in Christ the Messiah, bodily risen and gloriously granting eternal life to those who so receive Him (John 6:47-54) ? Only by flat contradiction of the Bible would this question even arise. You, having come in such case, to find something tp deny your ultimate desire for Him ? even that as foreknown to God, who WOULD have all, as if omnivorous! Indeed, that is to gain for the mouth, but this for the gain for His loved ones who trust in Him. That is to grab; this is to grant: each has its passion, but this is the passion of God (Ezekiel 33:11, Hosea 13:14, Matthew 26:53-56). Even Job, so long ago, was quite clear about this, though his confusion needed purging and the light had a clearance made for a path to his soul.
Again it is as ore and metal: for the temper of dross is as sin purged and in shining saints He has His desire. WHY is it impossible ? ONLY if you decline to fear the Lord, refuse to trust in Him and will not receive Him without no addition or subtraction: for THE Christ and not an important being amongst many. There is NO other name given to man, by which HE MUST be saved (Acts 4:11-12). It is not Mary or a Church or a nation, a philosophy or good works when God, being a spirit, is concerned with the spirit and where it lies and why it acts and of what disposition it is.
If such is your heart of trust, then it is impossible that you were omitted, since HIS desire is to include you, and HIS power is able to summon power to prevent any circumvention and trap for those ones who have received Him, as He is, by faith. It is a gift BY grace, and it works with no mistakes, even rejection being self-achieved in the end, as at the first, through preference for a darkness which does not know the light of God (John 3:19, 1:1-3). The foreknowledge ensures the truth; it does not defile it. It is the assurance of His love reaching whom He may, without violating it into force or folly. THIS so far from being a barrier is to ensure reality, and the fact is that the love of God WOULD HAVE ALL. You are not fighting the universe or its Maker; for the point is to find the One who would find you. Therefore one must examine oneself not the less but the more, and in confidence take what being offered, is free.
Indeed if you trust Him for this merely as means to the end, and not as the end of all means, your target and objective, then such is mere subterfuge, and what is the good of that. He is not an easy way to riches (cf. James 4), nor a site for squirming to secure the best of it for your unrepentant, self-centred soul: so that so to act is merely to play games with God, an unlikely player in gamesmanship of ANY kind.
But if you put your trust AND future and LIFE in His hands, so that you love Him beyond yourself and beyond all (Luke 14:25-33), then it is not you against powerful spiritual beings and earthly ogres, psychic forces or social and political or military ones, but such against God: and if GOD be for you, who can be against you! (Romans 8:31-36).
But perhaps, you may muse, you do not, as foreknown to God, really desire Him, or if you do, it is but a mangled thing, ready to be distorted or even dismissed under pressure. If this is so, why worry ? it is then what you want. Relish and wallow in it: why not ? In that case, it is the reality concerning you, even what you prefer. Yet you say, I do NOT prefer this ? Then at once, this being so, you act on it and receive Him as before.
Again, Maybe I do not... You equivocate. If you do not trust, why worry about when it is found out, for there is but one result. If on the other hand you do, however, why worry about foreknowledge, but rather relish it, for whom He foreknew He predestined, so that nothing can be moved, and and whom He predestined He called and justified. You trust in Him for the justification ? you receive forgiveness through Him ? Then you are in the cycle that nothing can break, that of Romans 8:30, so that if you are found placed in any part, you are in the circuit for every part.
Equivocation will get you nowhere; holding back will leave you nothing; your sacred self-life may be preferred. Then have it and go with it where it can get you, even where the light of life is lost. Complaint ? why then you have your heart's desire. It is then precisely as in Proverbs 1, where God pleads with the soul to come and heed, hear and He will pour out understanding. But the soul retracts like a snail into its inadequate shell before the steam-roller. It is then exposed to forces and powers, like an African violet left in the desert sun, which challenge it to death since it is not made for such life, without the shade (as in Isaiah 32:1ff.). Why tempt God then!
But again, why be concerned if left out ? for it CAN ONLY be if this is your ultimate heart's desire as known before time by God, and apart from ALL your works (Titus 2-3, Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-12).
You DO desire Him at all costs (as in Luke 14) ? then HAVE Him. You do NOT, then have what is left, like orange rind, admittedly colourful, but not the same, no, not at all the same.
Is it then that you have to get on the band-wagon and enjoy yourself ? If so, that is to be simply a spiritual sybarite, a variety of self-worship, as the ultimate. Not at all, you say ? It is not so, for want God! you exclaim. Well and good: then TAKE HIM, Christ Jesus the Lord, as YOUR Lord, and His salvation as yours, and be replete in Him (cf. Ephesians 1:6). He is as always in our Age, available through the immutable and indisputable Gospel of His mercy, by faith through grace (Galatians 1, Ephesians 2:8, cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17), so that yours is the thrust from the trust, as repentance moves in, a repentance not to be repented of, and you stand confirmed as a child of God, standing on the promises of God (I John 3:1ff., 5:1-3, Ephesians 1).
Through these, mountains may be moved (Mark 11:20-24), and very delightful and grave it is, when you are given power to change the spiritual geology about you!
Christianity is an operational thing.
By which promises of God other than this ? Many. Take John 10:9,27-28, where you CANNOT be snatched away, WILL NOT perish and know His voice as that to one who, entering by Him as a door, is accepted and settled in His fold. Thus you are given eternal life, not through your performance, but through His, that you might live and work in His kingdom and seeing His face, know your God in consummation at the end, and in preparation now (I Corinthians 13, Isaiah 33:17). Even a dog knows his master's voice, and reads his hand; but you are more than dog, and the degree of loving and devoted interchange is fitting for those who are His adopted children (Ephesians 1). A dog I say ? what depths of understanding can exist even there, what interplay, what reading of intent, what faithfulness and what co-operation when the relationship is once established ? That, it is phenomenal; this, it is one of the features of eternity (John 10:27-28), lingering like mist on the earth, and giving it a beauty before the time.
But which promises, again ? Romans 8:30, investigated before, in which once in the cycle of divine action, even to forgiveness, you inherit the entirety of which this is an inseparable part. Then, backwards you have been predestinated and forwards will be glorified, and in the midst, you must be active, as a solider of the faith, using not evil weapons, but good, so that both the fight and the right are together in blessedness (Ephesians 6). Take again, Romans 5:1-12 and see the superabundant assurance, this overwhelming all protest, or Ephesians 1:11 and discern the certainty of inheritance in Christ, or Romans 8:32, and notice that as to those for whom Christ is delivered up, so that for each, sin is attached not to you but to Him as crucified, ALL things are theirs; or again, John 15:7, when abiding in Him and His words abiding in you, you ask what you will and gain it.
To be sure, IF and as you do that, you are a being so changed that your horizons are above, but the results are below!
Yet you fear, perhaps, lapse ? But have you then not understood that lapse is breach of the power of God as above promised to sustain you, as indeed in I Peter 1:5-8! IF as Paul says in II Corinthians 3, you find Him, then what ? Then you find this: "not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think ANYTHING as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient...". Then your self as a saved and purchased entity, has no contribution to make to the reality of SALVATION. The entry is free without fee; the continuation is as of what on entry is changed (II Corinthians 5:17ff., John 3).
It is called sanctification, as you work, like a sheep-dog, in delighted if testing co-operation with the One now your Saviour, as for the dog, its guide. In sanctification as we have seen earlier, to do, there is much; for salvation, nothing. Again, the entire process of salvation through grace by faith, as in Ephesians 2:8, is not of yourself, it is the gift of God, so that how can YOU provide anything to point, since this is by name excluded, thus making the matter independent of yourself. You may need discipline, but there is no severance ONCE you are planted by Him! It is that which God did not plant which is to be uprooted (Matthew 15:13).
It is only when you RETAIN your so sacred self, and fail to render up your life, that you sit next to Christ as co-pilot: but indeed, He is not even willing for that, for unless you forsake all that you have, not only WILL you not be His disciple, but you even CANNOT be (Luke 14:27ff.). So that case does not arise; it is for the hypocrite, the two-timer, the equivocator, the unrepentant, and it is as for one with the shallow soil which does not receive in its depth, the word of God, having there the stone of an unrepentant heart. That is the superficial show, the taste of salvation which is spit out, the brush with rush, which is not faith with repentance, but stimulus with joy, without it (Matthew 13:20-21). In such a case, there is no change of life, but there remains the obstinate, superficial heart beating its two-time fibrillation yet.
IF you trust in Him, then, HE has spoken, and you have entered and that is that. HE then attests that He will then never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 12).You run ? He does not leave you. He is still there. You are not fast enough! You faint, He picks you up. You are not too heavy. The Good Shepherd is like that. He is great, and this not in part, but altogether.
Consider now Isaiah 26:1-4, then 26:19-21, and spreading the wings of faith, fly; for He is like the eagle who flicks up the chicks on the wing, so that they learn to fly (Deuteronomy 32:11-12). Then rejoice in your rest as you read Philippians 3:20-21.
Trust God, He never fails, and His ways, they are everlasting (Habakkuk 3:6, Zephaniah 3:5). His children, they are too! (Psalm 90, 145, 16-17, I John 5:11-12, 3:9). To be a child of such a Father is purest joy; to be eternally with Him is beyond all imagination, and such is life, with Christ, be it ended on this earth by stoning, as with Stephen, assault as with Paul, many beatings before his final death, slander as with David, who endured after an army long sought him. It is He who is the prize, and to know Him, the Father and Him whom He has sent, through the work of His Spirit, this is eternal life (John 17:1-3). That is its nature; eternity is its span, which does not end. It is almost as if it is TOO WONDERFUL (Psalm 139:6). To abide in Him, then, it is like breathing, and the air is fresh as from the mountains, as from the sea.