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THIRSTY in the middle of a PURE LAKE ?
It is sad that people can make up their own conundrums, not for fun or party fare, but for life, in the interests of death.
Thus you have those who dare so to abuse predestination, that they make it a 'mystery' whether God would take them if they came in faith, and drank of the water which is such, that he who drinks of this water shall never thirst again. Hell is thirsty, that is, characterisable by rampant desire for what is not available. To be sure, the substitute for spirituality in Christ is what is sought, but it is the absence of the need, although callously rejected in its reality by the citizen of that land, if such it may be called, which is the thirst. He who drinks of the water which Christ gives shall NEVER thirst again (John ).
Many are the parallel
texts, but let us look at this one (and see Biblical Blessings Ch. 16 for more). Now let us suppose that someone
comes along, fretted and pitted with negation of assurance, unable to assert, Yes
I have it, because I have Him who is faithful, but merely saying, Given
predestination, who knows ? as
if Islamic, or some theological traditionalist who knows not the word of the
What then ?
such a person has a solution both ready to hand and agreeable to heart (if so
be, the heart is not in a vexatious or even contumacious condition, unwilling
for its welfare and preferring its own demise, in the end). Such a person,
knowing that it is not a continual drinking which is specified to the Samaritan
lady, not a repetitive process, for it is contrasted to just such a repetitive
process as a singular one, and the verb is not present but aorist as well, has
merely to drink.
Drinking Mirages and Confusing Puddles
Someone may say, Oh but
I have drunk many a time before, and still I thirst ... or so I think!
It is hard to credit such a statement, and the only way one could credit it would be to give to such a person a credibility superior to that accorded to and found in Christ! It is as simple as that. Obviously, such a person either
· 1) does not believe the word of Christ, has a faith 'problem' or
· 2) has not in fact taken the water, the gift of eternal life, the refreshing of reality, the cordial of immortality at all, that washing which is the gift of blood, and the securement of the perfection of sanctity in Christ.
If the problem area is faith, the remedy is to believe. If one prefers one's own perceptions to the dicta of Christ, obviously one is not a believer, but double minded at best. If one believes what HE has said, however, then this problem is solved. WHY one should believe has sufficiently often been presented in these pages as in SMR, TMR and many other resources; but having irrevocable reason for believing is NOT the same as believing.
Thus the man who is overwhelmingly convinced on certain grounds that the Stock Exchange is about to suffer a profound reverse, if his desire in this is to salvage his investments, will sell before the fall. If however he does not REALLY believe this, but merely has a ... shrewd suspicion, then he may indeed not sell. He does not believe.
So too the person who does not REALLY believe Christ's words, will have perhaps all sorts of inhibitions and internal prohibitions, may inside the spirit and in the terraces of the soul, conduct a veritable campaign of uncertainty, quoting this theologian or that, as if bacteria were for the blessed, or disease were the summum bonum. ANYTHING is for such a person, better than belief. Very well, then no drinking and no promise, never thirst again.
But let us take the second possibility. The person has not in fact drunk. If the DESIRE is REALLY for a thirst-free eternity, then the person who believes, will drink, and the 'problem' is solved. Let us suppose however that the desire is somewhat complex. Thus a little girl recently, one who is presumably not yet a Christian but who listens, asked if one MUST STAY in heaven, upon arrival, and at another time, does one HAVE TO GO there!
It is by no means certain that someone who has wistful thoughts and varied longings, even if given some measure of credit to heaven, yet simply desires it. Thus in such a case, drinking of this water which Christ gives may not occur. Hence thirst.
When actual faith is present, that certainty which impels (for James indeed is central to the issue in pointing out that faith without works is dead - you do what you believe) has its work. Drinking occurs. If faith is not present, or is merely a contestant in the athletic carnival of the mind, in the energic crafts of the soul, then the race is run, and the result is there, such as befits such an effort on such a track for such a purpose. It is negative.
In the end, one believes or does not. There is nothing in-between. Half believing is NOT believing. Little faith is STILL faith. Needing faith bolstered by divine comfort is still HAVING it in order to have it bolstered. A grain of mustard seed faith is STILL SUFFICIENT (Mark -24, Matthew ). What is the latter ? This:
Now one might claim: that is for operational work when
one IS a Christian, and is thus not relevant. It is however not so limited.
It is speaking of faith, and what happens when it is present in the least
degree, AS faith. When one believes Christ, it is not a question of possibly
believing, or believing much or little. One either has the faith which moves,
or does not. One either believes the shares will fall catastrophically, or one
does not. If one merely entertains an opinion, however strong, that is not
faith. That is equivocal, or quizzical or a surmising quotient of various
contributors. It is a theorising and a construction.
That has its place in some actions; but when faith is the criterion, this is
not at all relevant. Nor is 'commitment' faith.
COMMITMENT, HOPE AND FAITH
Some speak as if the mere act of commitment is the equivalent of faith, since one would never commit one's life to God without first believing in Him.
That however is not so. Often it would apply, but not necessarily. Thus a man of action might estimate possibilities and then conclude that there is no real hope in anything but in STEP A. He therefore takes it, hoping against hope, and narrowly watching on tenterhooks. That is not faith.
Faith is not something other than itself: it is a cordial conviction that something is the case, so that one trusts accordingly (Hebrews 11:1 makes its definition of this kind). What however of 'nagging doubts' ? These no more disqualify faith than does 'commitment' assure its presence. Of course one may BELIEVE IN John Smith, but have concern when he takes several wrong turns. That is not at all incompatible with believing in the essential integrity and aptitude of the man for what he is doing. So with Christ: of course a person may believe in Him, trust Him, and care nothing for what the world or powers or devils or men in the garb of devils may do, and yet have nagging doubts.
Doubts however about what ? Doubts about one's worthiness ?
Of course. One is NOT worthy of the gift of eternal
life and neither did nor could earn it (Galatians
3), since it required the loving and merciful action and sacrifice of God as
man, on the cross, to delete the grounds of demerit, and provide a free
standing by virtue of HIS merit, accepted (and of course trusted in, for one
does not accept mere air, a frivol instead of a fact, unless insane). In such a
case, the person may indeed be troubled with a sense of unworthiness PRECISELY
because one IS unworthy. Indeed, in the case envisaged, the person might have
begun to imagine that his/her 'Christian life' was a contributing factor
without ever REALISING this subtle pathological trend in the inner sanctum of
the heart. Doubts however about
People, however, with a chest infection are not dead; merely infected.
When they are Christians, this sort of infection is covered and overcome by the One who promises one will not thirst again. Those who do NOT have faith in Him however, will not know where to seek remedy, and will fall - unless of course faith is now added! Thus, some may BECOME Christians in just such a test, for it is the equivalent of buying a metal, which is impure, and then realising its impurity, taking it back for total refinement. If the Refiner is able, then the result is sure. THIS REFINER is able (Malachi 3:3). Faith can then be brought to life, to light and be active as now present, and not merely presumed.
Clouding of issues is a pet theme of Satan, and one has seen a person who seemed obviously unwilling to have a simple faith in Christ in the interests of some apparent combination of pathological psychological desire and theological romancing. Sometimes even sound writings can trouble the unsound, for they wrest as Peter says, what is written, being themselves unstable (II Peter ).
On the other hand, a saint of the Lord might have difficulties about assurance for a season (cf. I Peter 1:7), as a residual imperfection is removed, painfully, and truth - inherent now in the soul since Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27), is integumental to Christians - works its way. In such a case, the simple fact remains: IF you believe in Him, then His promise is initial, final and certain. The trouble which obscures this fact for a time, needs attention like a melanoma. The purification is not to be expected for some protracted period. It is a house on fire. It needs putting out.
IF faith is present, then
in a little, when the embers begin to settle, it is seen that after all, it is
NOTHING to do with oneself, and that the gift of eternal life being a gift, and
the water an irrepressible spring (John 4:14, 7:38), there is no thirst, and
hence no doubt, and so faith has its own triumph because of the Christ in whom
it is placed.
CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND ASSURANCE
What however, someone may ask, has this to do with Christian Apologetics.
1) It has this: some people love to be tortuous and for obscure and possibly complex reasons, perhaps only dimly discerned by themselves, find some sort of comfort in discomfort. This is not something like masochism, but a sort of vexatiousness within. It may be, in some cases, a species of preoccupation, lest the requirements of faith seem too harsh, or it may be a substitute for godly works, in case there be too much sweat. It is however impossible to tell, merely to survey the scene and envisage various possibilities, for only the Lord KNOWS the heart (Jeremiah 17), and it is endemically appallingly wicked, its super-saintliness by nature, in many cases, being the worst wickedness of all, for it is a mask to the disease, and hence a death warrant.
In such cases, faith is obscured by the pollution inversion, the temperature inversion, the perversion of such preferences, and is not to be seen. Its form is there, but its fact is absent (II Timothy 3:5 - a testimony to the spiritual truancy to be rife in our Age, the ‘last times’ as shown in Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
In these cases, the resolution first must precede the operation, for what is not there, does not act. It is not only in the matter of the origin of the universe, that nothing comes from nothing is a relevant dictum and an absolute fact. It is so also in the soul. It does not matter with what words, what knowledge, what theological disputatiousness a person comes: if faith has a twiddle of words, a question of form, the form of religion, in its place, being absent, it does not work.
This is nothing to do with the inadequacy of faith in Christ, as a working model of absolute Christianity, but much to do with the adequacy of His promises, which not merely promise eternal life to those who receive Him and His works as they in fact are, free gifts of love to faith in Him, but alike promise that the one who does NOT BELIEVE is condemned already.
2) Similarly, the struggle in the soul
which is afflicted with some sense of unworthiness, and so finds faith
momentarily obscured in its operation, is not showing the falsity of faith, but
the fact that it can grow weary and tarnished, and needs cleansing. The
unworthiness may simply be a failure to realise that
ONLY CHRIST is worthy (Revelation 5, Hebrews 2, 7-10), and that except ALL
one's worthiness proceeds from this source ALONE, one is assuredly not only
unworthy, but presumptuous, indeed verging almost on arrogance. Daring to
suggest or even imagine that ANY part of oneself is good enough for heaven's
purity! That needs dashing! If the process hurts, that is
beneficial, like the sting of iodine on a cut.
· "We are like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses as like filthy rags" - 64:6.
plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be
Matthew . In forsaking ALL that you have (Luke 14),
your own misconceptions of your own meritoriousness,
works and ways as a payment even to the scope of one cent, for eternal life are
among these things. That is in line with Paul who says,
Ø "not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" - Ephesians 2:9-10.
But WHAT is not of works ? Salvation, that is all! The preceding verse has this:
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that, it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
(The "it is" is added here simply for clarity. The gender of 'that' assures us that it is not to faith but to the entire process that it refers.)
What then of the obscurantism of seeking testimonies of this and that kind, as if faith were a dependency of your psychic events ? It is only an insistence on something ELSE. THIS is the result TO faith, not a fish tank to manufacture it (John -23). Those who want to be founded on feelings, contrary to the word of God, can as well be confounded by them! This in fact presumably is no rare occurrence, for the flesh is hungry for its own accolade, instead of being, as is true of the spiritual person, grateful for the confirmations which come most naturally, between those who are ALREADY friends!
HOW God converts one is His business, by definition beyond one's own purvey (I Cor. , John 3), but by no means is this so in a heart the Lord has not known before all time (Ephesians 1:4). He KNOWS who are His own, forces none, expresses categorically a love for the souls of all, but rejects what love does not reach, like the marshes of Ezekiel 47, where there is no healing! It does not depend on oneself, but the soul is the item which is foreknown. It does not come from one's own merit, but the Lord is the One who knows His own. He does not select on attainment (Romans 9), but He atonement is sufficient for all (I John 2:2), offered to all and His love for the world omits none from His passion in presentation, only in His salvation in what He secures, on His own loving premises, without violence, from destruction (cf. Ch. 2 above).
But as to the METHOD by
which in this life He brings the soul to Himself, some as in
It was so with Abraham. He took what was given (Genesis 12), first, and then was given what it took. THAT is the order of things. You do not buy faith by feelings any more than by reason. Both may help; each has its place, all is relevant. However, faith is not the child of man or any of his faculties, but of God. If however you WANT God, what prevents the acceptance of the gift ? And if you do not, what hinders your procurement of what you DO want, assuredly at fearful cost, but so it is with life. It is not a plaything; it is reality. God ensures that.
3) Does this then minimise the importance of zeal, devotion, or reason ? Far from it. All follow from KNOWING GOD, without which one is in darkness. It is hard to see the light when in the dark! When God brings you into the light, you see the absurdity of trying to see the kingdom of heaven when great darkness lay within your unconverted heart. As Christ told Nicodemus (John 3), UNLESS you are born again, you cannot SEE the kingdom of heaven! By faith you have Him, without faith, you CANNOT have Him. Why then pretend, as if faith were a by-product! It is the rest which is the result, not the cause.
Thus in the heart astray, there may be much cleansing, and even in some Christian episodes, the alloys which beckon to become foundational, have to be purged. What then of this latter case ?
Such a process, like house cleaning, does nothing to falsify the reputation of the household, though it is certainly a blemish, but showing the need to avoid false premises and the admixture of these with the truth, surges and urges in the soul, for a true resting in Christ, which does not make of Him a co-Saviour, but the ONLY ONE.
Without this, faith is in abeyance, if present at all; but faith in abeyance, BEING faith, is not satisfied with that, and since it IS present, it acts. The obscurities of testings, so far from falsifying the realities of faith, are its opportunity. Like the love of a mother for a son, who has recently displeased her in much, but remains her son, it acts on need. Painful indeed may be its take-off in such clouds, but it does what it is. That is the nature of things: faith without works is dead, for faith being present, is no mere psychological stimulus, but a connector which, once present, and once taking its base, Christ, is not let go BY HIM (John 10:9, the initiation, 10:27-28 the continuation and consummation).
What however of the case of someone who for years is uncertain of salvation ? Is this even possible if such be a Christian ? The point here is that the mind, obscured with diseases of various kinds, may be only partly operative: the moment it sees the promise and having faith, rests on it, the matter is resolved. The clouds may take time to clear, those of various faults in the personality and spirit which are unconscious but aspirant to control the life in question; but IF the faith is present, there is no doubt of the result.
The clouds are cleared by the ONE IN WHOM the faith is vested. IF one is genuinely calling on this One, then the clouds clear, since He is able and willing. If much purification, as by a refiner's fire, is needed, so be it. These questions will need to be resolved, and if faith is there, then they will be, since the issue is a child's paradise of simplicity. IF you receive the inalienable gift of eternal life, then it is yours. It is so by Christ; it is He who has promised; believing in Him, you cannot doubt. It would falsify your faith so to do.
But to the point ? like this for years ? In such cases, it would appear that the faith is without wings, being a thought of, dreamed or envisaged thing, or that the mind is temporarily disabled. However the promise concerning thirst being so, one knows that as soon as the soul is thirsty for Him, the thing will be resolved.
Yet someone may say, But what of all those
fine and gracious Christians whose very doctrine forbids them to believe this
promise, and who nevertheless do splendid things and are even passionate about
their love for Christ and His grand sufficiency!
THE COLLISION OF CO-SAVIOURS
What indeed! IF in the end, they are really trusting in being co-Saviours with Christ, then their eventual refinement to the point that in their hearts they ACTUALLY are trusting in HIM ONLY, is the only resolution. It is this which is REQUIRED (Luke 14), and sharing of the role (contrary to Acts -2) is a monstrous imposition on the Christian faith, and a pathology. One stroke of grace, one of works, one Brethren man once preached, to this author's horror. If that were the way, it would be a Christ plus me symphony of cacophony, as rambunctious a rebellion as is this a dissonance of terms! Of course, one stroke is what MAKES THE BOAT SEAWORTHY, that of grace, and makes it unsinkable.
The stroke of simply working WITHIN that framework, not contributing in the slightest degree to its stability and certainty, but contributing much to progress on that base, in spiritual labours, is however a different theme (Ephesians 2:8 moves to 2:10, the cause and the effect, in different fields, one causative, one consequential, one granted (as in Ephesians 1:111), the other outworked. Acceptable work is subsequent logically to salvation; and it is irrelevant to its gift, since then grace is no more grace (cf. Ephesians 2, Romans 10). This, then, does not secure what is given, but exhibits it.
A good tree bears good fruit not in order to be a good tree, but because it is one. That is the nature of such a tree, and spiritually, as distinct from the pride of this world and its luxuriances of self-acclamation, this is in no way part of its becoming a tree. It first must be planted and covered as such a species of tree. That is the gift. It then performs, and that is the attestation of the gift. It is God who attests, moreover, since man waiting for man to approve, cannot have faith, and hence cannot produce the fruit.
Such confusions as these are rife and even rampant in some species of Calvinism; but they are all false. It is absurd to wait on man for your all clear, since man himself CANNOT know the heart, and God says that it is HE who knows it. Then you are simply trusting in man (his judgment to determine your eternal life, an atrocity of perversion and pathology against Christ, arrogant and self-esteeming), and cursed is he who does this (Jeremiah 17).
It is always altogether SIMPLE so that a child is apt for the purpose. Believe in Christ who makes the absolute statement concerning eternal life if you do(John , , , -54, 47, 10:9,27-28). If you do not care for faith in HIM ONLY, but prefer your theologies, or confusions, or man, or church, or products, or psychic feelings, or desire to be spiritually aware of being loved or whatever other thing you wish to invent, other innovation you wish to register in the pathology department, then the result is clear. You are NOT believing in Him, but in a synthesis. He declines all synthesis. If you do not forsake ALL that you have, you CANNOT be His disciple. It is He who so declares, expressly!
His disciple ? His own ? Not in years of wandering do you become such; not in digressions and impressions do you reach this level; it is a gift. It comes by faith ONLY IN HIM. It is obvious when you take Him and His word, and rest on it. It is THEN that He deems it appropriate to give whatever may seem fit to Him in the expressions of His love. It is not a supermarket: How much for assurance, what do I have to do ? It is a faith matter: HE PROMISES, you BELIEVE Him, then you of course have this assurance (Romans ) as the natural, normal and effectual consequence. NOTHING will substitute for this believing in Him only, for the purpose; and no amount of words or excuses will remove the ever so simple need. Not thus is the offer of Isaiah 55: it is rather to him who thirsty and who receives the gift at His hand!
Your faith wavers ? ask Him to reinforce it, and you CAN if you HAVE it, however little! Your sins appal you ? Have them cleansed: and you CAN if you believe in Him who is offered on behalf of the sins of the whole world, so that anything which comes into effectual range (that is by faith), has the certain consequence of cleansing (as in Psalm 51 as a classic case). Your theology troubles you ? Dump it and believe the scriptures instead: for the traditions of men, when in anything additional or contrary to the Bible, are under duress, so why join them in their prison of condemnation! (Mark 7:7ff.). Your heart troubles you ? So then you trust in that, do you ? Dump its protestations and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you want to trust in your own heart, by the word of God, you are a ‘fool’ -for that is what it actually says! (Proverbs 28:26).
Do you NOT want to make the
word of God void through your traditions ? Then void
your traditions when they dare to make you wiser, like serpent's children, than
what God has said. Indeed, does not the devil sneer to this day, and help to
inject and infect with that sneer, anyone willing to listen: Has God said ?
When man’s wisdom is added, your desert and your
dynamic may join: it is a case of discipline for the Christian, delusion for
the non-Christian most readily. Do not join Eve. That is not your seed, if you
are of God! Overcome the devil rather as is the natural inheritance: though the
fights may be tough, their end is quite certain (I Peter 5:8-9, I John 4:4, I
John , John ).
DARE TO BE A SPIRITUAL JUVENILE;
THEN YOU WILL GROW!
It is just as the Lord has said, little children are the typing format for the kingdom of heaven, or if you prefer it more directly, Of such is the kingdom of heaven. Simple faith in Him as providing what He promises is the source of assurance. The Spirit of God is not inoperative, but God did not test His Son alone, and it was not He alone who was to be led to suffer temptation, in the special sense of testing. The more obdurate your insistence on having the fruit before the tree, the more confused you are liable to become. This also, is just as He says,
Notice the "by no means" - this too is the word of God. One has even heard of a person, long a seeming pilgrim, being unable unequivocally to say, "I have been saved by Christ" when without Christ being the Saviour there is certainly no Christianity. Such is the very stuff of theology, obscurantism and confusion. You KNOW He is the effectual Saviour ? You KNOW He says, Ask and you will receive ? You ASK, and fear you do not receive ? Is this faith!
Faith however knows its man! It knows in whom it has believed (cf. II Timothy ). It is persuaded that NOTHING future or present, powerful or puny, can separate it, whatever its source and measure (Romans -39).
You prefer it otherwise ? You see the point. You get what He says: NOTHING. Nothing in the spiritual realm is just as unsatisfactory as in any other. It does not work. So it verifies itself again, as is the case with truth. You cannot hold it down. Christ, the truth, was careful to be resurrected; and being precise as well as faithful, on the third day. That, it was the delicious irony: the One despised is not merely strong, but precise. You not only cannot keep Him down; He comes up when He pleases, and knows just when that shall be (cf. SMR Ch. 6). By faith those who trust Him are shown that they will share the resurrection with Him who is the first fruits (I Cor. -58).
Why, because He says so, and these, they trust Him, who is on record NOT to thrust any out who comes to Him, AND that they shall go in and out and find pasture, and never perish, who once enter that door. The door ? You have entered ? He gives the result. It is interminable, appallingly to what does not love Him, inexhaustibly delicious to those who trust Him according to His word, which so promises. And that ?
It is faith.
Without it, you cannot please God (Hebrews 11), and with it, in Him, are all things in Christ, who has so bestowed them (as His word explicitly says - Romans ). Condemnation ? an absurdity! (cf. Romans 8:32-33). To faith this comes. Without this link, you are merely walking about with a card and no terminal! With it, the power, the pardon and the provision are all eternal: all things.
is enough. All
things are munificently adequate!