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A TRIP TO
with Luke 14:31-33
Taking things as they come
and receiving the Lord as He comes,
in surrender (Luke 14)
What happened ? It is written for example in Jeremiah 31, what happened.
Speaking, indeed of Israel, and not simply of an individual, but as if of an individual, in a highly personalised mode, we hear the Lord saying to that entity, "There is hope in your future, says the Lord ..." This is a fact that He knows, co-ordinate in its type, to His foreknowledge of each individual as in Ephesians 1:4 and I Peter 2:8. The Lord as also in Romans 8:17ff., foreknows in logical succession before He predestines, and this before He calls and this before He justifies and glorifies. We are not exposed to chance psychic convolutions, assimilations or contortions, but to the Lord before our time so much as existed; and for that matter, before we ourselves did, or the world, or human sin, since none were alive to have done it. And there He knew His own.
This being so, the Lord is quite clear that for some there is hope in their future. Rebellious, blind, deaf they may be, but they are not dehumanised as a group, that is, those many yet to be converted when their time comes. They still bear His distorted but not aborted image. They are still instituted as created persons through the chosen method of procreation and divine invention.
Therefore as in Luke 14, they are represented, each one, as if in a rebellious contingent in military operations. How does the teaching here go ?
It is this. They see a power impressive, overwhelming and irresistible, nearby. Clinging to their own identities and personal sovereignty, they resist, but in due time their leader decides to capitulate, and instead of being destroyed, to make peace. He may not much like or even be drawn to the army confronting him, but recognises that they have what it takes for a take-over. He therefore receives the terms of peace. It is not someone else who does it, but the rebellious who does this, overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord. The things of that kingdom may seem different and not to be desired of themselves, but there is a certain intrinsic drawing which beyond all questioning, summons surrender. It is the LORD who is the immediate and complete confrontation, sui generis Master (if there were a genus, but there is only God and God only). It BELONGS to Him.
"He asks for conditions of peace," we find in the parable of Christ in Luke 14. He is surrendering. The terms are not in his power, but the asking is. He may even disrelish the transfer, but he recognises that it has to be made. It is not another who surrenders but the party who is to make peace by surrender. He does not invent the conditions, nor does he invent the Lord, who in fact, invented Him. These realities hit him, not as a sovereign but as a suppliant. Thus in love the Lord both challenges and confronts, draws and repels, yet the confrontation is over, and the soul is handed repentance (v.19, "surely after my turning, I repented"), and receiving it, surrenders into faith, through faith which is playing coastal wind breezes about his yacht as the events unwind.
So it is in Jeremiah 31:17-20. There IS hope in your future, the Lord says. Before all the dynamics of history, this is a known fact, a foreknown reality for that person. "You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained bull." What now is his cry, as so far unrestored ? It is this: "Restore me and I will return," and already he recognises Him, "for your are the Lord my God." Now caught in the turmoil of former disobedience, he exclaims, "I bore the reproach of my youth," meaning that his sins are now recognised in the presence of the Lord and abhorred. Indeed, it is the presence of THE LORD which is inescapable, capable, with underlying authority and recognition of its actuality. It goes further.
To the things of the Lord, receiving repentance, he now opens his blinded eyes, and intimations of sin become extravaganzas, wonderings become a version of wanderings and "ashamed, yes even humiliated" he is exposed to the Lord who after all is amazingly tender.
"Is Ephraim My dear son ? Is he not a pleasant child,
for though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still.
Therefore My heart yearns for him. I will surely have mercy on him,
says the LORD."
There is therefore something far deeper than a mere semi-automatic take-over in a mysterious manner taking over the soul concerned. The underlying facts are blinding sin and illimitable love towards ALL, even being designable as this, "God is love." He may not seem it to the everlastingly recalcitrant, the eternally indomitable. But He is.
Remember, in heaven or on earth, as in Colossians 1:19, and for the whole world to the point that I John even talks of the sacrifice for all in the sense of its provenance for all (2:1) by Him who IS love, as in Israel's sacrificial presentation for the people, whether they receive it or not, and so benefit in any way, or not. WITH such desire and capacity, intention and disposition the Lord KNOWS His own, from the first, Himself never in a quandary, the One who has even predestined them as in Romans 8. But his own know Him.
That is, before their birth into earth, they are seen born by the Lord in His own mind and spiritual wisdom before our time. WHAT He knows is that they are His. WHAT He would in grandeur of mercy receive is ALL, as He often states, implies and mourns about (cf. Isaiah 48:16ff., Luke 19:42ff.). Yet He is not thwarted since love is not possessive (I Corinthians 13), and does not disrupt by some kind of invasion past all portals to stage a take-over of a cipher of some kind. It is a person that is found.
Love gains its objectives AS LOVE, and is neither itself distorted nor distorts what it finds, and finds when GOD SEEING, man is not even active at all. But he is known as before sin, whether by penetration past such events and consequences by the irresistible discernment of the Lord, or in a manifestation before the Lord before sin in the human race, after all is as yet actually invented. The mode of divine foreseeing, apart from all merely earthly attainments, knowing the preference (John 3:19), it is not to the point to know. Whichever way it occurs, it is the fact which is dynamic. Indeed, what precisely God does in the form of God is not to be construed past explicit instructions. Nevertheless His nature and desires are clearly revealed, and are not a subject for prevarication, distortion or change. On the other side, what might be thought of as the technical side, is past the point.
So the call in Jeremiah comes before the repentance is vouchsafed, and it is the entity to be saved who calls; and after this, he states, "I repented," received donation, but he did it. As a gift, it is received (Acts 11:18). In Luke's terms (Luke 14:31-33), he sets out to receive conditions of surrender in the presence of the magnificent might and underlying authority of the Lord; but he does it.
It is not seen as a mystic body which does it, but he, he who calls as in Jeremiah, he who calling seeks conditions of peace, as in Luke 14. There is a sure conducting of the Lord who has the knowledge from of old, but it is a conducting, not an alien constraint, and the Lord appears in His overwhelming magnificence as IS natural, for that is what He is, and although its intimation impacts on wilfulness and fear, yet it is undeniable. It is HE who is not at all now seen as a matter of foolishness, though the matters of His kingdom may repel the untaught heart, and excoriate the suffering sinfulness of the divine focus, the sinner, like a searchlight. The presence of God makes a difference, discerned before time and the fall, but able to envisage freedom's motion.
Thus in due time, the truth of the foreknowledge, becomes the experience of the conversion, the call is made and the repentance is received, not as an automatic thing, but as a divine donation to the ravaged soul. In the era of our kind of time, faith and the regeneration are simultaneous logically, for neither can come without the other as resultant. But the logical aspect, with cause and effect has two vast sides.
First, the love of God yearns for the coverage, and His sacrifice in itself is sufficient for all; while second, the realities of sin and the defiled image of God in man are not the be all and the end all, for there is a non-saving conviction moving, a piercing involvement which is exceedingly personal, so that the call is to the Lord. So does the Lord open to history the wonder of eternity, and lead into it in turn, saying, "Is Ephraim My dear son ? Is he not a pleasant child ? " with that inimitable cherishing which is in His very being, desiring all, knowing who are not His own, these being averse in mind and will and heart to the uttermost, to the ultimate, from the first, irrecoverable except with violence both to what love is, on the one hand, and what the person is, on the other.
So God does all things well, and this like no one and nothing else, being pure in heart so that there is no desire or need for profit or advancement at the expense of another (unique in this), but His is an inventive and practical, a personal and profound reality in the seeking for the lost. At the same time, there is a sincerity and perception past all barriers, which knows and donates all, without overwhelming the person to the point it is a mere product, as if it were not one in God's image who is gained. It is important here as always in dealing with the things of the Lord, not to be suppositious, or superstitious, blindly affected by the philosophies of men, as in the horrendous case of Calvin*1, making Matthew 23:37 a ground of division of thought between Father and Son!
As always the inimitably eternal and uninfectable, indefectible love of God is the unique base and the quality control, rescuing what may be rescued, but without the totalitarian trumpery, rather with an infinite penetrating light that knows its own, and accomplishes a redemption which is not susceptible to fading or faintness, to defilement or eviction, the fraudulent aspirations of some who do not come, being no harrier or barrier to the prevailing of truth, where what enters the door has eternal life (John 10:9,27-28), and "will be saved and go in and out and find pasture," John 10:9. It is in this ultimate of love, without pretext, limitation or subordination, without mere gain as its motivation, but with truth and reality held in desire for its object, which activates freedom in its scope and confirms blessing in its operation. Sheering away from it, as in Proverbs 8, is like loving death, a sacrifice of life in its riddance.
Serenity not Serendipity ... Ch. 14.