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SUMS, SUMMITS and IN SUM
Adding Things Up, and Getting Things Down
Rigorous Exclusions and
Marvellous Inclusions of
The Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 18:21-25, Luke 11:3-7, John 15:22-25
Fondness for Wandering
At this time, we look at two marvels: how incredibly easy it is to gain access to the kingdom of heaven, and how astoundingly capable sin is, to deliver those facing a door of wonder, instead to the dustbin of hell. Hell, it is not a grind for the congenitally blind, since the blind close their eyes in the case which counts (Matthew 15:13ff.), whereas ultimately it is God Himself who judges in terms of light.
Thus Jesus told a crowd of persons that IF HE had not come and done the works which none other ever did (John 15:22ff.), and spoken the words that no one else ever spoke, thus joining precept with power, capacity with call, principle with practice, divine expression verbally and vernally, Himself the very Spring of the power of creation in the format of man - for that is what it amounted to - then SIN would not be their lot. Judgment would not then loom. However, having so seen and heard Him, and yet not having believed, they had outrun mercy by defiling truth.. Face THAT down, however, sin against this light of finality and redemption, and you are already defaced! Then ONLY judgment remained
In their case, this was demonstrated on the spot. He came, they rejected, judgment had no more barrier. No more stay on it could be found; for God is one God and there is one mercy in one Christ come from eternity, on one Cross set up on earth, validated in one resurrection in that same human body He had, and there is one result to this vicarious offer, that is effective for deliverance from sin: and that is reception (John 1;12). God does not consign to hell on ignorance, nor for any lack of desire on His part, but for what amounts to considered reprobation, human rejection, on the part of man, as foreknown by Him, prior to and beyond all expression of works (Romans 3,23ff., 9:1-22), before the world was.
The power of the Spirit of God is quite sufficient to convict of sin (John 16); but He never aborts the soul by mere power, but rather with light approaches the heart, having always foreknown it. In history, when it comes, as it goes, so it is. THEN there is just condemnation for sinning even against the light of absolute truth.
Responsibility in the end, for any finding hell their home, is their own; for to them, heaven is no haven, and holiness is rejected to the uttermost. They become engineers of their own defacement, wanderers without the Lord, outraged by heaven, desperate for what is not God. What then of those who did actually in history have the privilege of seeing God in human format, His works seen, His words heard ? THEY were telling HIM, of their judgment of Him, and HE was telling them of His judgment of them.
What was that ? It was this, that if He had not personally proclaimed in power and word the unique, to the God-created persons His claims to be God as man (as in John 14:9-11), then they would not have been put into divine disclaimer; for God WANTS to forgive sin. Micah 7:17ff., makes this dramatically emphatic, and emphatically dramatic, both WAYS, just as Ezekiel 33:11 and lamentations 3:33 confirm, and I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff. insist. He is not lurking, scrutinising with a view to final judgment, though it is equally true that He is not ignoring or disregarding the realities of sin (as in Isaiah 1, Romans 1-2, Psalm 11).
With God is divine realism, not defacing facts or defiling truth, but working with the facts that He Himself has made, those of freedom, love, liberty, perception, conception, perspective, will, relationships at the personal level with His other created persons and with Himself. This is ever the case. He does not shut His eyes, but opens them; it is man who closes the eye.
With God light is the milieu:
"God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5);
and in the incarnate Christ "was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). Nothing is surreptitious, injudicious, unjust, inequitable.
Freedom has its costs; and if man chooses to remain outside Him who made it, then there is anomaly which shows itself in friction, fractiousness and folly, in futility and not in faith. The world is lacking; and to lack the Lord is to find a misrule. In the beginning, man was free with knowledge of God, to choose. In the end, man is outside the Lord as a race, and is free to fret; and it is only the divine action of the Lord which can bring Him back. Foreknown is each one, and in the end, God will apply the Gospel Himself. to lose nothing where man might have perished, for this is His principle of light and desire for every man, that each person might be saved, and with Him nothing lacks.
Indeed, by foreknowledge, He has applied it already, according to truth. God is not willing to fall short in Fatherhood, lapse in concern or ignore the seeking wayward, in their destitution. Nor is He willing to call darkness light, or arbitrary exclusion of Himself ... righteousness. Provoked, He is patient; warning He yet spares; and as in divine foreknowledge of all those to whom His love will effectually reach in His all-knowing sight, by the changeless Gospel, He exposes truth. So He brings that same Gospel with patient sincerity even to all.
In fact, it is realistic to face sin and expose it, as a doctor does disease. Useless it is to pretend. What is, is, and that is that. Equally, it would contravene the divine disposition as Creator of man in His own image, with enablement even to probe the divine power and nature through the reason given and the spirit invented for persons (Romans 1:17), simply to leave them, fallen and forlorn.
God is not willing to fall short in Fatherhood, lapse in concern or ignore the seeking wayward, in their destitution. Nor is He willing to call darkness light, or arbitrary exclusion of Himself, righteousness.
Provoked, He is patient; warning He yet spares; and as in divine foreknowledge of all those to whom His love will effectually reach in His all-knowing sight, by the changeless Gospel, He exposes truth, so He brings that same Gospel with patient sincerity even to all. Before time and in time, He works; and the one though father to the other, so far from eclipsing it, exhibits it as far as the light of the Gospel reaches, successively in the generations, and finally in the judgment which you recall, CANNOT be EXCEPT as before God the light of redemption, earnestly applied, is not desired; and that not by mere fallen nature, but in the knowledge of God.
It is not as if the foreknowledge excludes any by lassitude, mystery or initial disinclination, for the stated generic is otherwise. Rather is it because God is the God of truth and omniscience, that there comes the guarantee that in the resulting predestination (Romans 8:30), NONE who might be found, FAILS TO BE FOUND! ONLY where the Lord's declared divine desire, high as the heaven, expansive as this earth, yes and to the heavens also, to bring all to reconciliation (Colossians 1:19ff.), as to truth, and to deliver them from perishing, is founded and applied, is judgment settled, in the light. Only when the divine lament in the integrity of love, is applicable, where hatred of sin becomes levelled at what will not cease to be its prey, in that omniscience of the divine being, in the very form of God (as in Romans 9, Luke 19, Colossians 1, I Timothy 2 and 4) will that God who is the Saviour of all men, in true logical order suffer reprobation.
The predestinative result (following foreknowledge in order) is as clear as the love was embracive. It is not as if some mysterious X-factor in the foreknown leads to acceptance, some differentiation of desirability in itself; it is as stated, because of the divine knowledge of the will of man, not dependent on its damaged and to the relevant point, impotent power, but on its exposure before the eye of Him with whom we have to do, that Author who is not prescribed to by the book, but knows all and each even past their own knowledge, and in grace gives what defiled man has not, in himself, any power to receive for what it is. So great and vast is the divine love, that it does not baulk at the comatose will, or the great wall of sin which expels the light; it leaps over it and knowing the person, exposes it in the light. Past human finding out, however as it is in practice, it could not be nearer to the divine knowledge, which stipulates its own finding: it is the will of man before God which love does not violate; and this, it is the will of God.
When, His love toward all of His image bearers is not received by some, found to be not fitting, no, neither in heaven nor on this earth, neither in foreknowledge nor even, when He comes, on earth: only then is there final exclusion. To be sure this is a logical order, for His foreknowledge precedes time; but this merely makes it all the more apparent. Circumstance does not dictate, nor does momentary moodiness secure. Divine priority in foreknowledge does no violence to the passion of His heart, to save, but surely implements it, as history so well discloses and verification illustrates.
What is excluded is inclusion in the kingdom of heaven, in the land of divine light, in His redeemed millions, of any not His, any who are extraneous to His call. For such, heaven would be a hell of warped will confronted with the blinding light of truth, with no room to escape into rationalisations and non-repentant sacrilege.
This, for them, it would be as if hell were merely transported; for as John 3:19 shows so clearly, it is PREFERENCE FOR DARKNESS which is the very ground of condemnation. It is not exclusion of light because it grew faint in dispersal, of love because it was unknown, of divine desire as if it were circumscribed. In the end, results accrue, but from the first, God's vast desire is PRECISELY as He claims. Far from this is it, and the very opposite, that limits: it is abortion of love in man, not lack of love in God. Such is the message of John 3. It is exclusion of the profusion of offered light, from before time to time (John 6:65), which brings darkness, its own demented drag-net for the perpetually reprobate.
Thus it is indeed incredibly easy to enter the kingdom of heaven, as far as the door is concerned; for it hinges on the death of Christ in the divine passion for souls, exposed in all to all. It is however all but incredibly able that sin is, to blind, to unwind the eyes, the lookout from the mast of truth, and lower it till it sees only the billowing seas and lacks all perspective when the storms come. The perpetually divorced will may rant and condemn God, like one who insists on smoking, reviling because of cancer. But it changes nothing; for truth in the end, is not for the ridiculous but for what is reasonable, just and true. It is not this world which is a comedy, an absurdity, but the theme song of the dispossessed who must possess God (rather than being subject to Him), which is the absurdity. Bound to the absurd, they tend to voice their absurdity in absurd assaults on the Creator whom they insist on despising, deploring, ignoring or distorting as far as they are able.
Thus in many ways do multitudes lapse from hope, turn from reality, expose their fraudulence, demean their supposed neutrality and express their hearts. Like volcano vents, from which lava pours hot and heavy, a black surging mess, morass, are their complaints, when avoidance is available, and the divine lift is near. From these vents will often be seen the falsity of the basis of many, not least, even of those who thought they were near.
Fraud on Forgiveness
Take, for instance, the case of Matthew 18. How often should you forgive a sinning brother ? First of all, is it only a 'brother' whom one should forgive, one of the same family ? In the case of Israel, where this issue was set, however, although to be sure the case was that of a theocratic nation, ostensibly given up to the grace of God as England once was under Elizabeth I, there was no question, if you judge from Matthew 23, of all of them being spiritually in brotherhood. In CHRIST'S own context therefore, it is without reservation to any.
In Matthew 18, we find Peter wondering how often you forgive someone who sins against you. First, perhaps, he cuts down your favourite tree, by leaning too far in clipping his fence line into your garden, and rejoices in his conceptions not put to the test. Then he calls you a fool, then makes loud noises all but driving you from the house, then he adopts an insulting posture towards your religion, on and on as if evil were his delight and self-indulgence his life. One day the next contribution comes along. He sees your dog and kicks it viciously, breaking a rib.
HOW OFTEN ? asks Peter, in such extensive aggravations, do you FORGIVE the fellow ? Expanding in spiritual context in conversation with the amazing Jesus Christ, Peter suggests maybe seven times. Surely this is a case of patience, grace, forbearance, toleration with a real contribution to peace. After all, how many will transgress against more times and in a greater variety than seven occasions permit ?
Christ's answer is provocative to the flesh, evocative to the spirit and a source of sublime contentment. There is no arithmetic barrier, is the import of 'seventy times seven', since it COULD have been seven times seven, and this abrupt escalation speaks for itself. Christ's parable, which follows, tells of one owing a colossal sum, as in a figure all people on this earth do, since NOT KNOWING GOD PERSONALLY is like being a car and having no oil, while it grinds along ceaselessly! It is a horror.
To cover and demit this unspeakable horror, involves a huge deficit, a massive debt, and in the parable the man's boss forgives him a catastrophic looking debt.
This is nice: in that the man in authority has pity on the debtor and his family and feels for the consequences if his servant is taken to task; so freely forgives him. A certain kinship with mercy and grace and patience and kindness arises in most created human breasts at this; for it is good and gracious, peaceable and forbearing, something of a real person here, after the mould of the original, that such magnanimity could be shown, such feelings experienced and such an achievement made, in actually covering the man's debt, from one's own resources.
However, the parable continues, the servant in this blessed condition of escaping condemnation most just, then finds some associate who owes him a pitifully small sum, ever so much less, and with his newfound liberty, he insists on total and immediate payment. Not getting this, the man not then being able, his tormentor has him thrown into the debtor's prison, something reminding us of Dickens' description of the same in the England of his day. Not out of this does that man come UNTIL he pays all! Small this debt, great its penalty.
The fact that it is rather hard to earn one's way out of such a prison does not help... Others tell the boss of what has happened, since it jars on the human spirit, manufactured in heaven, or in other words, moulded on the image of God's own nature, however much sin covers it like barnacles on a keel. Incensed at this outrage against mercy in general and his own mercy in particular, earlier shown to this now so lordly servant, the boss indicates that the pardon is rescinded, for the spirit of the thing has been violated. SHOULD YOU NOT, being forgiven when you begged for mercy, at least have passed it on, shown it! he storms.
So, said Christ, will My heavenly Father do to you, "if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." Notice that it is 'from the heart'. A grudging concession to the expectations of being a good chap is not nearly enough. It must be from the heart. A certain coldness is not to the point: there must be a heartiness about it.
Let us consider this. It is business! says one of his cut-throat action, taken to ruin competition, and make profits. That is not a moral matter; he asserts, for it is just the way it goes. Murderers like Macbeth, under wife's tutelage in that case, may feel the same. If you want to be King, you have to ... go for it, king of industry, no difference, trade union king of workers by psychological manipulation, the same. Yet it is ALL LIFE. It is not to be compartmentalised. You are living and eating and thinking and moralising or being moral, you are acting and submerging or subverting: it never ceases to be part of you, of your responsibility, grounds for praise or judgment.
To seek to ram the annoying Green Peace vessel might lead to murder. It is useless to challenge that it was annoying or vexatious. Did it THREATEN LIFE ? Did the response threaten life ?
It is the same in war. If an offence, real or imagined, threatens, is this the same as killing a few million instead of repenting of your error, or seeking the place of forgiveness for theirs ? Contest without heart, reason, mere emulation or vainglory, surging into calamitous carnage because of unforgiving hauteur! Is this the way of the kingdom of heaven ? Not at all. This is the work of vengeance and escalation, ramming things home with a power which does not fear to kill; evoking possible retaliation and vileness of life for many.
The Difference in Repentance
In Luke, we see in a different overall context, another aspect. Here we find the addition of another clause. Look at 17:3.
"Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him,
and if he repents, forgive him."
Here the nursed grudge is dismissed as unworthy of the hospice of faith. In the Alpine scenery with the purity of heaven, then this is the way: IF HE REPENTS, forgive him. What then if he does not repent ?
Notice now in the parable in Matthew that the lesser debtor, unforgiven by the hypocritical servant who had been massively pardoned, was asking pleadingly also for pity. He even fell at the other servant's feet and begged, saying, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you all." In this case, there was even some prospect of repayment, since the debt was relatively small. It was not here an overwhelmingly oppressive thing at all, and the man might well have got his money back, in time; but he was unmoved by this great difference, lessening so greatly lessening the patience needed.
Thus his boss would NEVER get back the sum; and yet he forgave. Here the servant might expect a return, but inhumanly ignored this and demanded that others be exact to meet his exactingness.
Thus the concept is clear: in neither Matthew nor Luke is the case one of indifference, unrepentant grossness. We are not here looking at imperious persons who refuse at all to change their ways, scorn truth, ignore righteousness and want only to continue to be their inglorious selves. That is not the issue.
Rather it is this: How LONG do you put up with someone who repeatedly, almost ad nauseam, provokes you by just failing to match up to need, and is MOST provocative therefore; but repents. Endlessly, for it is not for man to judge, but to pardon. There is no breaking point here.
Such is the love and mercy of God: He is not standing in threatening mode to the humble, to the poor in spirit, who just seems to fall so far short that there is a bewilderment whether he can still be accepted. Fear not, for if you confess your sins to the Lord, then by the blood of Christ you are covered (Hebrews 9:12, 6:19, 10:10,14), for it is an eternal redemption, and it is not failure but scorn which is fatal. That however is precisely what God preserves His children from; for in this case, the 'childhood' is one of spirit, and this is the nature of the case, in the end, with such.
What then of seeing the unrepentant provocateur, who carries on ingloriously in gracelessness with smirk or dirk ? How treat this ? One way of understanding is to say: HAVE A FORGIVING SPIRIT. God will judge soon enough; "vengeance is mine!" says the Lord. Justice will be done if mercy is not sought where it matters most, from the Lord. For us, to whom the word is, Judge not! (this does not mean pretend, but do not act as final arbiter). The attitude of SEEKING GOOD even for those ruffling the feathers repeatedly, virtually asking for retribution as if doing so were a profession in itself, is clear. LOVE your enemies, and do GOOD to those who despitefully use you - who do evil to you with the skill of a cunning batsman! Overcome evil with good.
Thus although there is a difference when the wrongdoer repents, in that total fellowship can be restored to where it was before, and good for that person may be sought without grudging restraint, yet the attitude is STILL this. Where there is no repentance, seek for this, that the person might yet escape the conclusion, not for this only, but for all the sins committed, from hell. Have a tender heart and a seeking spirit.
Where then does the difference lie ? It is in this. If a murderer still wants to murder you, clearly there is a barrier for close approximation of his weapon to your throat; and prudence indicates a certain constraint. If a false brother insists on his false way, failing in doctrine and abusing the truth, then you HAVE to SEPARATE from him (Romans 16:17), for he is abusing the honour of Christ, rebelling on campus, assaulting his (ostensible) President, putting his word in place of the Lord's, and is a traitor. Even this may be borne until it is clear, and then the exclusion zone occurs, not only from Church fellowship, but from heaven (as in I Corinthians 6).
Being 'in the zone', where it matters, is not a mere matter of feeling, but of faith, which placed firmly in the Lord's Christ with no mutations in person or work from man, is still what saves, what each Christian would seek for all, whatever the outcome.
The Rigorous Exclusions and
Marvellous Inclusions of
The Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 18:21-25, Luke 11:3-7
Introduction to Part II
We have been considering the divorce between much that is SAID and what is the actuality, between fair words and foul deeds, between claims of goodness, faith, spiritual insight, propriety, virtue, reasonableness, and the realities. We continue to examine cases, illustrating both how EASY it is to enter through the divine door, which is hewn from the wood of the Cross, put together with the love of God, and kept ajar with the mercy of God (John 10:9); and, on the other hand, with what calamitous facility, what astute agility, sin snares, deceit envelops and a ready passage to eternity with the Lord, becomes a mere strident sedition, self-deceived, or more blatant in the end.
There is a dividing and there are grounds for it (John 3:19,36, Matthew 23:37ff., Luke19:42ff., Hosea 7:1, Jeremiah 51:9).
Thus there are marvellous inclusions in the kingdom of heaven, for you do not have to be great (I Corinthians 1:27-31), but to receive the Lord who is; and there are amazing exclusions, for cleverness with words or sneakiness of heart achieves nothing but its own exposure, unless the Lord Himself - acme of truth, its basis, centre of knowledge, its production site, and discerning love with all of its passion and restraint, in ultimate purity - is really received in repentance, and His gift adopted (Ephesians 1:1-7).
Fraud on Forsaking
At the end of Part I above, this was pointed out: Being 'in the zone', where it matters, is not a mere matter of feeling, but of faith, which placed firmly in the Lord's Christ with no mutations in person or work from man, is still what saves, what each Christian would seek for all, whatever the outcome.
Before we proceed, let this be added. As to the walk in Christ, the mode of life, this issue of forgiveness arouses one close to it in certain outcomes. It is that of partnerships in business; and as each involves a parallel discipline it is well to mention this in passing.
Thus when the issue is not spiritual association with the cordially unrepentant, but with someone who indeed is an unbeliever, not involved in a forgiveness issue, but merely in a wholly contrary approach to life, partnership is similarly forbidden in the Bible (II Corinthians 6). You are not to be 'yoked' together with the unbeliever.
These are two cases with one outcome. It means that nothing of an intimate, a closely collaborative character, involving joint moral and ethical issues, marital or commercial, is to be chosen by a Christian. If it is an impersonal commercial matter, not dependent on personal relationships, that is one thing; but if it is a PARTNERSHIP, then this is expressly forbidden. The reason is simple: how COULD you use and choose things when you have contradictory bases, as if a body of arms and legs (each a person in this illustration) were to ride on two different horses. Stress and strain only end in compulsory division of the body in the end. It is required not to begin it at the outset! While confusion can readily arise, in this case, it is a trap.
Indeed, this is one element of a broader position, and here the case is simpler. Another way of avoiding the kingdom of heaven, beyond lack of forgiving spirit and heart, is to FAIL to sever from carnal control by evil talk (I Corinthians 5:11, 6:10), the swagger of the verbal dagger, sex play, drunkenness, covetousness, Paul there tells us. It is a transcendental matter. IF it is your spirit which is to be saved, then you cannot be Christ's while joined to a harlot. Would you, if a part of His body, join it thus! Do not be ludicrous! Would you have a part of His body slandering away with complete abandon ? Scarcely, for there is no place in heaven (Revelation 21:27) for liars. How does truth compound with lies ? Not in the light!
Yet once more, there is always room for the poor in spirit who, admitting with horror their sin, seek pardon and beg for it, seek help and trust in Him who gives it, and expect Him to do what He has promised (as in II Peter 1, Mark 11), in moving mountains. You are not excluded for slipping on the way up the mountain, but for walking down, or even delighting in the fall, and practising it, as if skiing down were the name of the game, not pious ascent as the view increases in glory, and the spirit is chided, trained, refreshed, revived and reinforced as one walks with Him whose mercy is profound. What more telling than this in Micah 7:
"Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over
What a wonder is the Spirit of God! How marvellous are His works, how gracious His love, how He wells up in the fallen and works in the weak, who poor in spirit, seek His cover and protection, power, grace and pardon; for it is He who is the God who pardons!
This then is where the case applies: UNLESS you forsake ALL that you have, says Christ as recorded in Luke 14, You CANNOT be My disciple! Honey may stick to you, but that is a problem of cleansing, not will. In spirit, one MUST disallow all evil, turn one's heart from it and to the Lord, as He enables His children, and loves to do for those who come; but it must be without exception. Then the pardon is without exception. Children are ever His, and the spirits of the contrite, who tremble at His word, they are those to whom He looks (Isaiah 66:2).
Fraud on Commitment
But what if, seeking Him thus in all fulness of heart and poverty of spirit, one is suddenly trapped. In a normal if slightly risky cultural setting, common before one became a Christian. What if one is suddenly confused as people speak to you in their old mode, and it becomes strangely embarrassing to correct them or at least testify that for your part, Christ, and not what is being said or done, is the way! You fall, fail, are weak, all but contemptible. The spirit is numb, the heart withers. What is to be done ?
Repent! Think of the seventy times seven from the lips of Christ, and rejoice; and repent; and seek to put it right if you may, and never to repeat it in any case, and like Peter, find the way in the light, in His sight who strengthens (Ephesians 3:16, Luke 22:32). Christ's word to Peter, about his coming denial of Him, was followed by this, "and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren."
The Greek term here involves a turning of oneself, but also tends to imply a turning from one sort of thing to another, and hence repentance. It thus here means this: when you see your error, turn in appalled horror of what you thought you never COULD do, and so turn to Christ for pardon and peace, strength and restoration. Then, having learned your lesson, by a gracious strength, give help to your brethren, knowing what it is to fall, and to be picked up, both!
It is thus not some one instance of weakness which is the fraud, for God specialises in the weak; but rather it is NOT to return to the Lord, like Judas who instead hanged himself, though others simply hang about, unrepentant. Again, you cannot ride on two horses going in opposite directions at the same kind. This would be not to quarter you, but to half you, a sort of spiritual schizophrenia.
Commitment spiritually to God in heart by His grace, through received redemption in the midst of true repentance, through Christ as Saviour, breeds a new birth, with results inalienable (I John 3:9, 5:11-12). This, the new birth, is not the saviour but part of His savour. Leaning on Him and learning from Him, in intimate commitment, is like breathing. Thus, while you can hold your breath for a time, breathing is inescapable. The spiritual child breathes in the Lord and breathes in His vitality and lives according to prototype! Do not lean on the new birth, but on the Lord who gave it and sustains it with virtue and vitality.
Fraud on Accessibility
Again, some do not like the intimacy of Christ. They sin, they are rebuked. He stands at the door of their hearts. If they are His, they hear. He knocks. The heart, whosever it is, responds: Go away! not today, I am busy with sin, myself, my thoughts, my ambitions... Otherwise, it may say, Please enter. You are always welcome and I thank you for coming to seek me out. I surely and sorely need you. Look, I throw the door open and rejoice!
If not, then how is a car to be serviced at a distance ? By proxy ? but you cannot electronically put a distant car into the mechanic's hands, nor can you put a distant heart into those of the Lord.
This fraud in accessibility, so that you simply are NOT AVAILABLE! and DO NOT DISTURB! is written on the office door of your life, makes of you then a hypocrite. How talk of Christ, call yourself a Christian if to Christ for whatever reason, you are simply not available. In Revelation 3:14-22, where this case occurs, we should consider the preliminary to the picture of Christ knocking on the door.
It is this: "I know your works, that you are neither cold not hot. I could wish you were cold or hot." Ambivalence, neutrality, formality, superficiality is so far from God, that to those who insist on RETAINING so woeful a heart, He indicates this: "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." Notice clearly that this is not a summons on poor performance, but on FAILURE to ALLOW Him access; and what child by faith of God Himself, would do that. He IS the Father. The heart IS His! But this finds out fraudulence, while giving the deliciously kindly and pitiful call to allow Him to enter.
Fraud on Faith
Finally we notice fraud on faith, where not Christ Jesus, crucified and bodily risen, but some substitute of the mind is made up, either by oneself or by one's own 'theologian' or 'school' and one follows that vomit. Consider the insult implicit in following someone's vomit in the place of the Lord's food! II Corinthians 11 speaks of another Jesus, another Gospel and another Spirit. Having no mind for the Lord's Christ, they duplicate Him.
Such may be wrought in Pentecostalism where it uses the "Spirit" in divorce from or movement beyond His word, and so runs precisely this risk. IF as in the Alpha Course, there is scope for advances beyond the word, such as seen in the alliance of the author of that course with Romanism as acceptable, and criticism of such large 'church' bodies as not; then you are running off the highway of holiness. This thus changes the Jesus into another, because it is the WORD of God which defines Him, the Spirit glorifying Him and sent by Him, and not speaking on its own authority. Following such false apostles is like trying to walk on water.
It can be done; by God; but when man tries it, not watching the written authorised word of God, then this displacement means that man displaces water and sinks! Such a result is fair enough. Instead, KEEP to the word of God and be safe, build on that rock and be sure: do not import concrete, nor dabble in various doctrines, driven by winds (Ephesians 4:14),
"carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men,
in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting."
Making up the word of God, seeking to 'progress' beyond the word defining the Lord and the Gospel for man (as in Matthew 5:17ff., John 14:23-26, Galatians 1, Revelation 22, Proverbs 30:6), is mere driven snow, dirty while reminding one of good, a mess while once so pure. This is fraud in faith. Such as follow such ways are named by Paul as "false apostles" and "deceitful workers" (II Corinthians 11:13), "transforming themselves into apostles of Christ."
Fancy even daring to use such a term as apostle, when there were 12 definitively (Acts 1), so that one having fallen, had to be replaced by one; and using such an extension indifferently, as if one could make news for the Bible, and deliver an Appendix for it from such inspiration! This contradicts Ephesians 2:19-20 likewise. Evicting the biblical Christ, it is itself ready for eviction.
Alas for the frauds. But the other way ? It is that of faith. Be therefore faithful, relishing HIS faithfulness who pardons you your iniquities, does not stay angry forever, "for He delights in mercy" and who in glorious addition from His OWN heart, proceeds to "cast our sins into the depths of the sea" while engaged in this delicious enterprise, that He will also "subdue our iniquities."
What will a tennis player seek to remove every kink from his serve, a golfer from his drive, or putting, and we consider the removal of all iniquity as too hard an aim, to searching ? May the good Lord forbid, and His people ever rejoice that His mercy fails NEVER! Faith has in Him an everlasting resource, so to Him put your course, to Him take recourse. God never fails (Zephaniah 3:5).
Glory in His Goodness
It is the wonder of His grace, the glory of His goodness and the magnificence of His holiness, that HE is not disdainful, and prefers a poor spirit and humble and contrite heart to the most massive parade of self-righteousness. Nevertheless, in all honesty and integrity, let us not lean to our own understanding, but prefer toying with a death adder, to defiling the glory of God, by distancing God, deleting His word, delaying obedience, or at all or ever being 'above' His commandments. Millenia pass; wisdom does not alter: Fear God and keep His commandments; love God and put His word as a signet, a ring on your finger, as one married and refusing to mar His glory by dissociation, deviousness. Instead, insist on His highway of holiness, that blessed path of peace and profundity, where God rules.