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UNITY AND DIVISION: THE GREAT DIVIDING RANGE
NATURE OF THE RANGE
Its basis and depiction
Unity is grand in design: the smoothly streamlined car, unified for going readily, reliably, thriftily for the result desired, aesthetically coherent, in mobilisation a message: how MUCH is there to represent in the 'simple' production of a good automobile*1A. So too in marriage: there is sensitivity and functionality together for a purpose which is ideally one, since two hands at odds are liable to become tangled, and there is love, for the unity is not for clash and clangour but charity and intimacy of thought and word, yet this with a diversity which adorns the unity and enriches it.
In fact, diversity of an utter kind within unity, as in the spirit of people in the human race, whether utterly wicked and intensively malign or delightfully gracious, is accounted for readily in the reality of creation, where will is part of the equipment, and meaning is the result of the Creator who made it; and will as an enduement within kind, makes objective clash and clash about overall objectives both explicable and readily so. Indeed, it explains; all else merely notes and is without basis for such a thing, where uttermost struggles occur about this very thing, meaning of life, purpose, thrust and method of procedure for those in it, its reality and its source, its portent and its intent! This of course has scourged the earth often enough, and now the Islamic thrust of many of this religion, is tainting the earth with a flood of blood and maimed bodies left to their own devices once made objects of internal or external torture.
How frequently, uttermost struggles occur within this very thing, as contrary principles, aims and desiderata mock the streamlined equipment of man, and make it the result of being for or against will's highest relationship, that for or against the One who made and wrote in a book with testing available as nothing else has; and then, they scout and tout and seek bout on the subsidiary points of human relationships, fight about that, and then sour it so that it has an adopted problem for them, as well as an initial one, hatred seething, jealousy soaring and revenge penetrating like penetrating oil, to the will.
Thus the very smooth brilliance of man's equipment, whether in DNA or in mind or body, in the billions of elemental units of data involved, is so far from mocked in inexplicable clangours of this kind threatening his extermination, that it is merely confirmed and consummated in this. What is it like ? It resembles an automobile of a kind scarcely to be imagined, thousands and millions of times better than any we know, in which the driver's seat is the site of continual struggles, internecine disputes, rough-housing that smashes the housing and injures the care, and then mighty lunges as one driver seeks to take the thing somewhere, while others who do not particularly like being passengers, seek to direct otherwise, even while the vehicle is in motion, and even on curves and downhill slopes, such as currently mar this earth.
What a thrill to have will, and to seek to smash it about like a drunkard, because you do not care to acknowledge your Creator, His redemption and cure, or His salvation and acts in history, from the first predictions to the last, all coming into force like a fleet of siren-equipped police car, claxons rending the air, even including His own coming! Such it appears
The construction of will, and power to love and hate, with or without reason, as an element of personality, and a gift of spirit, this means that just such results are PREDICTABLE, as have come. If they had not come, there would be no explanation. So does every other option of thought fail, fail in rationality, in validity, in the matters of morals, in empirical reality, as in the domain and field of creation itself (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go! Ch. 5), specifically in scientific method beyond all rational argument; and lacking this last, it fails again to explain the division among men, its nature and its vehemence, its point and its meaning, outside an insanity which is not otherwise found to any such extent as this.
Rather is it a spiritual misdeployment, disorientation following from the denial of the living, speaking and categorically challenging source, their Lord and their God.
Thus as always, does the truth, the existence of which absolutely is the rational prelude to any power to proclaim it, confirm itself on all sides; and this, without coherent opposition or power to explain.
How easily this is said, but in how many millions of cases is the diversity, either a dragooning by one, often but by no means always the male, or a dynamic of divergence, or even a tedium of contrary interplay! It is as if a car were partly streamlined but partly ludicrous in its lines, partly mobile, but inherently unstable and so forth.
Let us hear Isaiah 29:9ff. on this (red added for special relevance to our current point).
"Pause and wonder!
Blind yourselves and be blind!
They are drunk, but not with wine;
They stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.
For the Lord has poured out on you
The spirit of deep sleep,
And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets;
And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers.
"The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed,
which men deliver to one who is literate, saying,
'Read this, please.' And he says,
'I cannot, for it is sealed.'
Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying,
'Read this, please.'
And he says, '
I am not literate.'
"Therefore the Lord said:
'Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work
Among this people,
A marvelous work and a wonder;
For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden."
'Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord,
And their works are in the dark;
'Who sees us ?' and,
"Who knows us? "
"Surely you have things turned around!
Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay;
For shall the thing made say of him who made it,
'He did not make me' ?
Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it,
'He has no understanding' "?
So too in philosophy, there continually came the wild spree of excitable rashnesses such as those of the fuming or spuming
Hume, surging like a wave, clamorous in self-identification but ludicrous in omissions, like a car designed for four wheels, glorying in having three (cf. SMR Ch. 3); or those of
Kant, delighted in the obscurities of his noumenal and finally real realm, which he carefully obfuscates into inconceptual status, while conceiving it and many of its qualities in order to differentiate it into verbalisability and functionality in his system; or those of
Plato who, though at times showing chinks of light as in parts of the Timaeus, where he can even speak of the righteousness of God, is yet foiled in his system by forms which become ideas and ideals mixed, at the height of it all, his form of the good in his Republic becoming the good of anything and everything (a kind of plastic abstraction easily enough converted by Aristotle into the end or definitive completion of a thing from an aloof source too abstracted to operate). Plato's 'form' lacks basis either for the existence of what it supposedly interprets, the gulf of evil or the subsistence of all things; while set in a system giving no place of origin for the wiles of will, with a political desideratum constructed to be almost childishly oblivious of evil minds surging in non-notional places with intelligent corruption. Brilliant was Plato; but his failure to know God, though at times he seemed to reach toward Him, obfuscates his depiction.
(Cf. SMR pp. 422Eff. On Great Funerals.)
Thus, there is a dividing line; and there is a unity; and indeed, in this approach we are looking at the Great Dividing Range which separates what is metaphysically one, such as the human race, not into a bifurcation as if it were an ultimate two by nature, but into a diversity based on divergence. In other words, there is a moral absolute because there is a divine absolute and what is good from God becomes the good of a thing because He made it, and made it in a plan which is one, because it is not fragmented as if from the demented. Rather is man recipient of coherence from the source of the human mind, the sole sufficient source of its validity, by which it even acts rationally and coherently in the domain of thought, and hence of the coherence by which it even operates cohesively and rationally at all (cf. SMR Chs. 1, 3, 10, Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 16).
Thus, where absolute truth is deemed absent in a model, and/or there is no access to it, persons are without truth, and so cannot consistently present it or argue for it. Incidental reactions, happenings, happen, but the truth is not known, the nature of the system, the character of it; for only reactor responses are available in such a situation, which have no meaning, merely eventuation, unknowns giving empirical data which admit of no evaluation, interpretation or schema of actuality, this precisely being deemed absent. There IS no actual truth on such a schema, for there is no holding place, actualising place, standard or criterion, merely interaction. Thus its self-depiction cannot be true, for this uses what it affirms to be absent! It is involved in a writhing mass of self-contradiction.
What then ? What is absent, it is fatal to present; for it is, by definition, nothing, which gets you nowhere, whether in argument, dissertation or dogma. Indeed, it cannot consistently be presented at all.
Accordingly, mankind in intelligence, one, in wit, one, in capacity, one, in construction, one, on capacity to co-operate (disease apart) one, is nevertheless most obviously two; for the construction called man can hate and fight for sheer wilfulness and pugnacity, egotistic, self-affirmatory, delusive, elusive, without understanding and without any ground for the same. Gifted with created will, man can in fact use it to deny/defy reality.
Indeed, as to reality, when this is known (cf. SMR Chs. 1-3, 10), so far from being unable to give any reasonable account of the elemental dissension among men (cf. SMR Ch. 5), the self-destructive warring of ideas and weapons often based on this, concerning ultimate reality, this provides a prediction basis for it! Equipped with capacity to imagine, hate, love, desire, man becomes a dissident or a recipient, a lover or a hater, of the truth, of the reality to which it refers, of the Creator who gave him will, which could adjoin to itself or adjourn from it. SO far from being surprising that he uses such powers, creating another hole in the model of emptiness, it would be amazing if he did NOT!
It would be like a young man with his dream Ferrari, who left it in the garage. Truth speaks and has much to say, at EACH and EVERY point of what faces man, explaining all, and demanding a response, which incoherent destabilised mental roamings demarcate as merely a negative! (cf. Proverbs 1!).
Without Creator however, will becomes meaningless desire, oriented for no reason, an aberration of type, and its aggregation in direly opposing camps becomes an eccentricity of folly, a form of mania, an ordering and organisation without warrant.
Then, making the gulf of separation, or the Ridge as in our own illustration, on the other hand, on the basis of creation and Creator, the delusive and confused passion so often in man is natural to the presence of man in God's image, able to think, reason, determine and will. It is then that it becomes merely an operation within the created function, where the parent is derided, the creator cavilled at and the reality dismissed; and an inveterate, deliberate, determined division is certain to occur; as it has occurred, does occur and will occur until the time comes for judgment BY the same Creator, which of course He has declared in the Bible categorically is to come, as in II Peter 3, Matthew 24, Isaiah 24, Daniel 12, II Thessalonians 1-2, and so on. He has even given the criteria by which to assess how near it is! (cf. Luke 21 and see Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
Here then we see the two sides of reality, a derivative from its ground of existence in ONE MOULD, in terms of the liberty occasioned for its participants, in their original construction, where will acts in constriction and contradiction. Indeed, more, it may act within the stringencies, either consciously or not, of separation, sedition and conspiracy, actually designing to segregate the design called 'man', from his source, to grasp the power and run with it! Where however can he run, since the course for his feet, this too is constructed. Thus the mob of violence runs each into the other, and much of the blood-soaked mud of history is so created.
What on any naturalistic or monistic ground
aesthetics mere mumble (cf. SMR Ch. 5,
in ethics platitude without meaning
in epistemology mere vacuity (cf. TMR
in politics defeatism (cf.
Questions and Answers Ch. 7),
or else towers built on invisible clouds,
now on the supernatural origin of the regimented and volitional natural, becomes
in essence predictable,
and assuredly verifiable on the
ground of the creator, whose verified word is without inhibition
exhibiting the fitting conclusion, like a thunder-clap to a murder.
In all things on such a basis, it leaves nothing in the least difficult, whereas on the other model, there is nothing but failure, for there is never explanation for knowledge, existence, division, beauty or morals, but only tired reductionisms, without power, without ground and without the necessary result . It is simple fact that creationism in general, but more specifically biblical creationism with the creator who has acted and declared Himself verifiably in the Bible (cf. SMR Chs. 1-3, 10, 8-9, 5), accounts for everything as nothing else either does or can (cf. Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer).
Thus created man, in one mould but with spirit in an actual universe of knowable kind with a Creator who made him, rather than some glorified incapacity, can believe in culturally sanctified myths (cf. Secular Myths and Sacred Truth, Delusive Drift or DIvine Dynamic 7, 3, SMR p. 252I)) without too much trouble. This phenomenon can come from the consequences of will in his mind and in his spirit, so that he can readily believe the deluded and childish concept of organic evolution, by which he affirms whatever it is that he thinks he is in order to become more of it, whatever that is, though he never finds it making the substance of what-is, that great experimental absentee in any naturalistic viewing, nor does he discover the grounds of it, nor the way of it, but rather explores delusion in battling camps*1B. He may even talk of principles*1 as if they were powers to do, not mental conceptions to cover with words what actually happens - which, sadly for naturalistic man, this does not manage to do*1.
The Bible however speaks of diversification within kinds only, from the Creator in His initial impact, formation and formulation; and as to creation, it is over, as the evidence continually attests while man tries to prod, curse, bless or induce it to do some more, to which it responds rather like a dog having its toe-nails cut by someone with aspirations to be a surgeon. (Cf. The Defining Drama Ch. 10, TMR Appendix I, Ch. 1.)
Thus it is mere routine exemplification of the supernatural schema when we find that naturalistic man wills to be what his position voids in operation, both in its very statement and in its performance criteria, as well as performance exhibits; and this, by sheer exuberance of imagination, in one of the choicest pieces of ludicrous cant this world has ever produced; this while he is born and dies and is given his genes and is faced by his God, whom he ignores as if his very life depended on it. That is what will is about in a creation which has it, and is placed in a natural climate with supernatural access.
It is moreover, precisely what Romans 1:17ff., tells us about, a further verification in the specific milieu of the Bible. Further, it is precisely there that the remedy for this consequence of such a creation is presented, with its own verificatory testimonials
(cf. The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy, It Bubbles ...
Ch. 9, Repent or Perish Chs. 2, 7).
Accordingly, the ensuing centuries depict in history the developing dynamic, what Romans 1:17ff. shows as a systematic prognosis. Moreover, time in our Age thus fulfils the specifics of Romans 1 in detail, just as the thrust nears its consummation (Romans 1:28-32). Let us see this so that our eyes may rest in this ancient word, as if written yesterday; and it is so, because this is the end of such things, apt, accurate and acrid, divine in depiction, just in outcome: and to this we proceed.
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,
God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness;
they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
who, knowing the righteous judgment of God,
that those who practice such things are deserving of death,
not only do the same
but also approve of those who practice them."
This line of development, either in its secured base or in its final outcome, obviously it is not all; for all have not fallen for irrationalism and myth (cf. Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Chs. 7, 3) instead of rising to receive divine mercy; but it is the signal of the times, the sluice gate open for the day. It is the culturally popular way and the intelligentsia's burden. Here you see the two sides of the one reality, the evil fantasising and the truth; and of the latter, you discover its basis accounting for whatever is and happens, with nothing unaccountable or even impregnable in all thought. Moreover, it is found with the divinely given and single perspective and of the Bible, that testable book of the Lord, as it is applied to the dimensions, dynamic and detail of all creation, with its whirring worlds of thought and deed.
(Cf. Above references, together with
Earth Spasm ... Chs. 1, 7,
Secular Myths ... Ch. 8,
Wake Up World ... Ch. 5,
Spiritual Refreshings Chs. 13, 16;
Secular Myths ... Ch. 5,
The gods of naturalism have no go! Appendix 2.)
But where is the line to be drawn ?
Is one to be as above displayed, in the passion of irrationality,
and to know whatever it is in a conscious,
merely mesmeric obtrusion into this world,
while another, being more Buddhistic (cf. SMR pp. 995 -1026), may perhaps aim to be it,
aspiring to have modes of deployment to avoid needless clash
while the car of life goes on the highway of pragmatic convenience,
morals resolute in their vagueness with a possible ally in opportunism
for some kind of quiescence, as various syntheses may be tried,
like a synthesis of dead eyes or blind visions
(cf. Isaiah 8:20, Jeremiah 10:11, Matthew 13) ?
and are these and many more objectives in the ones who do not know God, the Creator,
to be made into one in some way ?
No, they are not, for their dissonance and disparity is complete; but they are to be conceived from the God of creation as diverse ways of doing ONE THING in this respect, and that, it is what is contrary to Him, a substitute for Him, and hence rebellion against Him, thus creating a TYPE of duality. All of this is but one packet, slant, slide, or quasi-dominion; and it is to be found on one side of The Mountain of Separation, where the light of the Creator-Redeemer is seen only in the distance, as in another land; yet look, it is but on the other side, so that will through shadow, distance and desire alike, is disfiguring the features of its base.
What then is this duality ? Let us be exceedingly clear. It is the diversity, just one pair, between conformity to the concepts of God and deformity from them, conformity to the will of the wise God and deformation of it in the mind and heart, between surrender to the salvation of this perfect God, and severance from it, desertion from the call of this one God and assertion of His goodness, between knowing Him and doing His will and blowing Him and seeking to have Him disperse. In a word ? it is the cleavage between God's way, and man's, God's life given, and man's life seized, the mind of God and the mutabilities of the will of man.
In this alone, is validity, rationality, empirical fact covered, met and embraced, diversity in unity explained; and it is explained absolutely and in detail. Let us therefore regard it well.
This is The Great Dividing Range. When this is crossed to the sunny side, then is man, one in creation, at one with his fellows, for though there may be much diversity yet there is charity, and though there be difference, yet there is desire for understanding, and though there be stages of understanding, yet there is a desire to find from the one source the clear comprehension of His word, way and will; for though wolves masquerade as sheep (Matthew 7:15), yet there is the Shepherd alive and active. It is like children in one school with one curriculum and one text book series, with one set of Staff and one objective who from time to time have upsets, but who are ruled by the Principal and the principles.
Where is the limit to such diversity in unity as distinct from such divergence from deity ? It is found in the text book, the Bible which alone provides the entire conceptual apparatus which explains every facet, the interaction of the parts, the scope of the whole and the meaning and ground of every aspect (as noted in Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer), but this ?.
This indicates that
love is patient, but truth is firm;
kindness is continentally, continually and reliably of one kind where the sun shines,
that it does not indulge
hatred as if that were to be kind; or desecration
that sacrifice is needed in a world of sin, but not that of the truth.
that growth is part of spiritual
that neither should lordliness (condemned in I Peter 5,
Matthew 23:8-10) such as that of
In this Age, the sheer diversity of ways of adding to the foothills on the far side of The Great Dividing Range becomes for many a source of confusion; and the shouting and pushing, not to say putsching of the plastic surgeons of spirituality, seeking to operate now on the very brain of man, to subdue and to seduce him: this becomes a great chasm into which love may be poured, leaving but hatred and deflation behind, cynicism or sourness, with the occasional little peak of pique.
That is precisely what Jesus the Christ foretold, saying this (Matthew 24):
"And then many will be offended,
will betray one another, and hate one another.
Spiritual lawlessness is seen in the many false prophets, mouths referring to the reality who God is, but divorced from Him, like so many forgers of cheques where no funds lie, trying to use the book of One who has funds, their frauds costly to the disappointed and cheeky to the One who has appointed salvation where it may be found (Isaiah 55, II Corinthians 4-6, I Corinthians 15, Galatians 1-3; Jeremiah 23! Ezekiel 14), and victory in His own way where it is to be gained (I John 5, Romans 7-8, Isaiah 25:8, Ephesians 1:17-19 cf. Victory: Heritage of Christians, Exile from the World).
And this ? He has provided it with the simplicity that can meet a child (cf. Matthew 19, Isaiah 40), and the profundity that makes man's philosophy look like the little ripples that make tiny bars on the vast expanse of the sand.
Now, the tempo increases, the forces of darkness, confusion of mind and spirit, proliferate in their false prophets, false christs, false hopes and vapid imaginings, while lusty battle becomes misnamed courage and blood an attestation of greatness, though it be obliterative of good, and the mere mental mirage of the obsessed who can neither give a reason nor deliver themselves from the charge of treason to truth.
All this produces grief or grudge or both, and this produces for many a spiritual dyspepsia which allied with self-will, leads on to cold hearts and calculating conditions which lack vision of truth and desire for it. Hence all over again, many such become prey for further foragers, who find among the muck, the things they desire to pluck: spiritual entrepreneurs, requiring a profit, as far from self-sacrifice for the truth, the Lord of Creation and the God of all comfort as the East is from the West. This too is foretold as a plague of these last days (II Peter 2:1), and its stench is apparent.
This had to be; it is part of the "dry tree" of which Christ spoke at the time of His crucifixion, when on the way He told the "daughters of Jerusalem" not to weep for Him, but for themselves and their kin, since if they did this in the green tree, what would they do in the dry ? (Luke 23:28ff.). In Jerusalem they found out something of the meaning of His words 40 years later when the Romans performed in their own imperial way a work of devastating horror and climacteric crushing which disadorns history to this day.
This symbolises for ever*2 the price of liberty from love, from the mercy of God and the Messiah He has sent. It is however biblically merely the Jewish section of the impending pounding of the waves of history on the default of man, which will heighten its scope as the era of the Gentiles as designated by Christ and Paul (Matthew 24, Romans 11), draws to its splenetic close (cf. Revelation 6-8,19).
As to what has happened already, in the Jewish sector, indeed in the Jerusalem of AD 70 and the following years of devastation, exclusion and persecution of the Jews in their land, and from their land, this, it is the temporal preliminary to Gehenna (cf. Mark 9 with Matthew 5:22, 18:9), and the illustration of hell for those who like the pictorial and find it hard, as they put it, to think 'in abstract terms'. There is nothing abstract about the pain of guilt, the anguish of moral depravity and failure; and in all earnestness, what CAN be more depraved than bypassing your Creator, ignoring His redemption, despising His mercy, set up in your own thoughts because they are yours and this without ground in reality, only in desire, and seeking to use for such arrogant and arid deployment, the equipment given for your own thoughts, be they this or that!
Is it not then small wonder that Jesus Christ delivered one of the most vehement denunciations this world has ever known (as in Matthew 23), on those who not only fouled the faith and foiled the mercy of God in its sublime outreach, to their own devastation, but acted as if they were at the same time, morally admirable and religiously outstanding, leaders for the blind and teachers for babes, or at least studies in the statuesque in the realm of spirituality!
This then is the nature of the case as reason points to it, as it does to the Bible as the revelation of the one and only God; and this is the approach God makes to what He has made in the Bible, when its revelation teems down from the mountains of eternity, through the channels of His written word, for the instruction of man.
There is then The Great Dividing
Range not on the East coast of Australia, this time, but in the history
of man, demarcated so markedly on biblical maps: on the one side is the light of the countenance of God, and the abundant
rain of His Spirit in showers of a blessing which is both personal, individual
and corporate for His people, the word of His heart and the instruction of His
wisdom, set in a book, which is "the book of the Lord"
(Isaiah 34, Matthew 5:17ff., II Timothy 3:16); and on the other ? There is found
really just the same mountain, for it is metaphysically still only one; but it
is dark, scarcely recognisable, often flooded but with an acid rain, and a site
of scrubby dwarf trees, exalting their names to the heavens, while they shroud
the earth in yet more darkness, obscuring the little light with their little
Our task then is to find what the Bible says about handling this two-sided but one range, how to arrange one's ways on the range, and how to understand its nature. On the second point, there has already been consideration given; but what of the practical ?
Where does the Christian act in this unity which thought demands and God attests, so that the bifurcation of FUNCTION merges without confusion in the unity of actuality, the light like a shaft penetrates all darkness, so that indeed, the way in the light rather the way in the dark, being seen different, may be followed aright ?
How could it be followed aright ? Why first one must find the right way, and then follow it. Following is not too difficult, the highway of holiness is not obscure, when once you are on it, watching the pointers, programs and requirements, an eye to your Guide. The way is not hard to find as we have often seen as in SMR, being the Bible in propositional presentation, and Jesus Christ in saving operation (II Cor. 5:17ff.), made available by the Holy Spirit applying this redemption with transformative power and grace (Titus 2-3, II Corinthians 3:17ff.): but how is it to be followed as the different sides of the ridge show their features ?
As to the realities concerned, these, they agree in all things, and that with passion and compassion in the impact (cf. Matthew 5:17-20, SMR Appendix C and D, Matthew 26:53-56, Isaiah 40, 42,49), the word of God exalting in written form the Messiah of God in human format, and the latter exalting the book of the Lord, each sent from the Lord (Isaiah 48:16), the one in words to endure visible and unimpugnable testimony at all times, the other as the Word of eternity, to continue victor over death itself, light everlasting.
This agreement is only one of the agreements which are pervasive and on occasion invasive, in the ways of God, never changing His message (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, TMR Ch. 3), and always operating on His speech; for as He says, so He does. History, it is the book in which you see it, the laboratory of life where the principles and the propositions inhere and visibly operate for all to see, who care but to open their eyes (cf. Matthew 13:14-15). This is ONE AGREEMENT of the ONE GOD who in ONE WAY makes His word clear in our day.
Yet as the Age progresses, and false faith regresses, how do you treat the two sides of The Mountain of Separation ?
What is the ridge recipe for godliness ?
How does the one who receives the Redeemer operate in such a diversity on the one side of the Great Dividing Range, and distinguish its darkness, as they are building more powerful neon lights of sheer confusion, to imitate if they can - though they fail ignominiously - the eternal light ?
THE WAY AND THE DAY AT THE END OF THE AGE
This is not really so very difficult, but it is challenging, for life involves challenge because of the two sides of the Range.
Let us then attend to the written word of God and see (and for those who want much more detail, rather than basic orientation, see Separation 1997). We shall therefore from the Bible, take 5 spiritual seductions and dissecting their charms, their disarming deviousness, see the 5 responses to be but one!
There is firstly
the case of SPIRITUAL DISSONANCE (II Timothy 3), and then
the case of SOCIAL GREED (I Timothy 6) , next
the case of DOCTRINAL DRIFT (Romans 16:17) followed by
the cases of MORAL and SPIRITUAL INVENTION (I Timothy 4 and Ephesians 4-5),
these last being wedded or melded into one, but differentiable to thought.
If we look at I Timothy 6 (cf. The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 5), we find two criteria for judgment. One is "the words of our Lord Jesus Christ", which are seen in the style of "wholesome words" and their pivot and place. The other is "the doctrine according to godliness".
As to the latter, II Timothy 3:16 makes it clear that "ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete ..." (capitals added), not as an index for obfuscation but as a prescription for performance, designate and determined; while Christ makes yet clearer the point by declaring that man shall live by every particulate word which proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), and again, that many were making void the word of God by their traditions, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men (Mark 7). This He did, just as Proverbs 30:6 limits even the most robust, declaring that one should not add to the words of God, lest one be shown a liar! ALL and ONLY scripture is the criterion; and what is wholesome as so judged by it, and with it, is sound.
To the point in view comes Isaiah 8:20: "To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." As to that, not a jot of it or tittle will fail, declared Christ, and as to His own words, though the very heavens and the earth DO PASS, as things temporal, and will, yet His words, being divine in wisdom, eternal and nature and from the lips of the Lord of all, they do not. Indeed in Greek, we learn that they shall certainly not pass away: the contrast is complete, the verity indelible, the utterance decisive.
Here then is both permanence and precision, and here is the criterion. You might see heaven and earth disappearing with great noise and becoming obsolete, a departed norm and form as in II Peter 3, and this will be, it will go, for it was made for its time; but the departing of the words of Jesus Christ is not to be seen, not rarely, not eventually, not at all; for His words stay.
What then do we find from the word of God, the book of the Lord (Isaiah 34), the propositional speech of the Almighty awaiting total fulfilment and consummation in heaven, that constrains the earth and controls history as demonstrable from its testable characater ? What do we then find ? It is this: that word covered with control, supervised with spiritual dynamic and presented to man with precision being derived from deity, must be applied faithfully to humanity (cf. Matthew 5:17ff., I Corinthians 2:9ff., Matthew 4:4).
The consequence ? what to do in this field, and when to do it, that is the result.
Let us take first
1) the case of SPIRITUAL DISSONANCE (II Timothy 3).
Here Paul lists what on a menu would perhaps be called a special. Firstly, it is in the last days, which makes it special to us, who live in them (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). That is the period for this description in Timothy, and this is the chronological site for its performance.
These days are described as
PERILOUS! This means that one is advised to be especially careful. And how could
it be otherwise, when many seem especially careless, even all but negligent in
this field, staying in churches where homosexuals are EXPLICITLY suffered to
occupy pastoral positions, places of leadership, though these are BY NAME excluded from the
kingdom of heaven in I Corinthians 5:11 with 6:9-10, and the thing is denounced
as lawless in I Timothy 1:10. Indeed, there it is associated in list with such as the unholy, the
profane, and murderers
of fathers and so on. It is not pretty: neither is cancer. It does not help to
put a bow on it.
What then of other phases of the predicted condition, which has this definitively evil sort of flower prescribed for the end time, from so far back, in II Timothy 3 ?
We find there is to be rash of self-love (HOW OFTEN do you hear in sporting matters of self-esteem, self-belief, believing in yourself, your powers, your touch, your prowess, your competitive savvy and so forth, as also in often ranted in the field of education!). With this, we find pre-occupation with money-love - and more and more in many societies people forget the moral law, the social graces, and find only WHAT WORKS, what produces income for now and 'security' for old age, together with the sense of having what you want and being dependent on no one: and this blind belittling of design and destiny, it proceeds though the person may die in a second or two at any time, which makes the whole concept preposterously shallow.
With these two frauds, go other things for the end-time period of ripening evils.
One is blasphemy ('God! I ... is always just a form of speech nowadays, on the air). Another is disobedience to parents - and here society is becoming so reckless that children because of the other sin of brutality becoming more obvious, are advised of their rights in schools, and may seek to have their parents legally dealt with, at whatever loss, being young and with little understanding while they so dishonour them. This often is associated with ludicrous limits on discipline, as if anything other than a tap were assault.
The fact however is that while brutality and force-reliance are alike monstrous, meaningful discipline is not, and on occasion, perhaps quite rarely, a corporal discipline may indeed be useful to help by its sharpness (FAR from injury) to bring a foolish temper to book before it becomes so ingrained as to constitute a character defect. It is unwise to throw away means of goodness, in a fit of philosophic fantasy, making gods out of children, just as others in their day, may have tended to make them mere out of sight, out of mind objects to which one did one's duty. Such of course was never the way of all; but trends change, as do extremes, like mini- and maxi- skirts, rather than clothing for beauty, function and convenience. Indeed, now to one's horror, there are to be seen ragged jeans, pre-faded, pre-worn, in some degree of tatters, to be bought for money, as if life were a party, and a sour one at that. Such is the gentility of waste, and such are the clothes of contempt.
All this is in principle dealt with in one aspect or another, in such sites as Joyful Jottings 13, Beauty for Ashes Ch. 9, Divine Agenda Ch. 2.
Thus society is joining with inherent sin in the individual to make an appalling mess, a fiasco where some dangers of illicit brutality on the one side, become on the other an undisciplined folly, so that children are to become elements in a growing tide of undisciplined folly, truth debased, direction masked, platitudes invested, because of the unseemly restraint put on disciplined parents. So does the philosophy of gods become the doctrine of devils most readily.
Readily now does one find shrill shrieking and gabbling grumpiness vie with deliberate disregard and the pretence of equality, as if infancy were wise, or adolescence the very acme of understanding. The opposite is not to the point, as the only way to change; for if you do not go too fast, the other option is not too slow. There is the right speed, which meets the case. This speed is often not noticed, as in the case, the appalling case, the literal case of giving driving licences as in this State, to children of 16 years of age. Whatever facility of speed and capacity for technical oddities they may have, the balance of maturity even of the initial kind, the control of any kind of sagacity in terms of realised wisdom, these things would only by some magic be likely to appear in those so young, in any great percentage, thus putting at risk through their grave immaturity the lives both of themselves and of others. Gods alas, without glory, they are being sacrificed to shame.
The basic and underlying case here is that parents are not gods, but neither are children; that parents may be brutal, but that is not met by brutalising their due procedures, when with love in force, with grace in action and with self-discipline in control, they are seeking to prevent the short-circuit of wisdom by the dogmatisms of philosophy, whose children readily are aided to become mini-adults, traitors and unfeeling little robots, when they live to tell the tale. It is easy to die in many dimensions through ill-advised leaps into dark places which appeal to untutored minds, filled with the fantasies of their generation, seeking to arrive, to survive and being submitted to strangulation in class-rooms innumerable as the myths are mouthed, often enough as an unadmitted philosophic injection into the science class-room (cf. Beauty for Ashes Ch. 3, . Earth Spasm Chs. 1 and 7, Secular Myths Chs. 7 and 8 with SMR pp. 149ff.).
Of or through what are they so helped to become robots, if it were possible, or to approximate them more and more ? It is of this: they participate as pseudo-robots of the delirious dynamic of dissidence from God and righteousness, which lies underneath much of such things. The reasoning appears to be something like this: if there is no truth, how can parents be so right; and if there is no right, how can discipline be more than slightly tendential!
Yet if there were no truth it could not even be validly asserted that this was so. Contradicting themselves, they duly contradict righteousness with immoderation and fantasy, awash in the storms of philosophic self-will.
So does blasphemy join hands with corruption, and so is love replaced by the methods of the sightless, who not knowing God, act on that basis and seek to constrain others to do so, often starting with the young, as if determined that the ruin might become irremediable, the remedy available unsightable in the mist and smog of corruption.
Thus juvenile madness become an epidemic, such as seen in the throwing of rocks from a car in one direction, at one in moving in another, since presumably life does not matter, and the asininities of organic evolution are applied; for what new form is coming which so acts, and what new originality is to be found in the erratic! Where no morals have place (apart from irrational add-ons), why morals can be disgrace! The young ? they wonder and try now this, now that, in erratic adventures: seeking to intuit where the rules may be which seem so erratic, or so despotic as may appear so often to their mistaught minds, or else seeking to escape the confusion by at least adding their own.
Our immediate present point is this, that the last times as in the above reference, are defined; and that they are here, while their symptoms are present with a vengeance, a literal vengeance; for who is not suffering from surfeit of these estrangements from design, on the part of those who are chased in schools from such criteria into the benumbing void which is neither their due inheritance nor their need! Thus does inherited sin join with inculcated sinning, that the cyclotron of unreason and the acceleration of spiritual blindness should cover, if possible, the earth.
Fear not! good Christian, for it is all planned, and its prognosis though foul, is limited in time. It displays what needs to be seen, and is a lesson in time which lasts to eternity! God has not invented history in order that it should be mute, or its lessons less than eloquent, and so they testify for ever.
Thus we find that with these symptoms of the last times, in the prophecy in Timothy, go such things as a proclivity for being unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers (the law courts groan with endless and often greedy-seeming litigation, so that it is almost a profession or life's work), without self-control, despisers of good (and how the educational authorities so often love to demean religion in universal propositions of disdain for their content, as if all doctors were to be packed off with quacks! and how the children suffer - cf. TMR Ch. 8), traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Such 'form of godliness' is precisely what is to be found when churches decline to affirm the bodily resurrection of the Saviour whose work in life on death is pivotal to the universe, to man and to destiny, decline to practice even basic sexual self-control, and congratulate perversion by inducting it into pulpits, who ignore the magnificent courage of the Reformation and revert to the idolatries of Rome, and all those other testimonies which mount to the skies, like green-brown smog.
It is fitting that we see the exact nature of this review of Paul for our times then far distant but now with us. It is not an episode in an item; it is a texture and a veritable tartan, a composite, a jewel of facets, and a slice of complexity of unique kind. This is the more obvious in view of the testimony of Jesus the Christ, concerning the restoration of Israel to its historical site (Luke 21:24 shows it, just as Ezekiel foretells it in detail cf. SMR Appendix A). No rising for ever, but a decline is foretold; no perfect browning of the scones in the over of time is predicted, but a charring stench as you see in Matthew 24 (cf. SMR Ch. 8).
Moreover, it is like a reporter of yesterday in style, as if only then provided; but it is exact and it is the divine prognosis for our defined day (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). Now it has come.
What then is the way to go ? The emphasis is on the last word in that sentence!
Where this is the way, stay away, is the order concerning CHURCHES of this calibre. You cannot leave the world, but you can and must, if a Christian, leave as you are freely able such churches or fellowship as this (and you ARE freely able to leave churches which any such things continue). You are apostolically directed to quit such places where such things as these are practised, and how much more, where any of them are touted; for ALL of them are contrary to scripture, to the canons of righteousness, to the words of godliness, to the Bible.
WITH SUCH ... where SUCH things are found,
be not found!
This is the order of II Timothy 3:5.
How readily do some cite 'doctor's orders', and then do what they are told, for they value their lives! How less readily do we find men and women and children, obey what God tells them, who is as far greater than any doctor, as the universe is than an atom, and much more so, for that contrast is disproportionate in the extreme, but this one is without proportion at all, is absolute.
THIS, this is the outcome. If then you have homosexuals permitted in the pulpit, in the pastorate in a church, and such by name, then that church has violated its mandate, left the godly, is at war with the word of God, and ONLY if you wish to join with it in this, do you stay. The issue is not preference, but the word of God, not a matter of viewpoint or culture, but viewpoint and culture in frank rebellion against God.
If you stay under a captain who is attacking the Army Headquarters, do not imagine that because he has put you in charge of the luggage, that, being yet part of the whole, you will escape. In fact, you would normally be expected to have such a horror at the outrageous madness of the captain in warring on base, that you would not even give your refusal to join with him in such an escapade, a moment's thought, apart from that required for immediate negative response to such a denial. Yet in one church we find talk of networking, as if under one ecclesiastical roof, one Church which defined itself as such when it came into being, you can be named; while in one room there is the mansion's permission to do what is unseemly, condemned, abhorrent.
To dwell where there is such a front, is divine affront; and is this then the desire ? If so, this is one way to do it.
Such participation is not excusable, and such rebellion against the scriptural prohibition on being associated, which is not obeyed when you are with such a body - whatever its name or pretensions, or identifiable in any way as of it, or with it - cannot hope to escape the impact of the One whose word is so despised as not to be implemented.
The other side of The Great Divide is available for you to walk on; and if you choose so to do, talk about names and the like will do nothing. The thing, be it identifiable as this or that, which declares what may be done within it, so that networks of it are participant in it as being authorised by it, so giving it coherence and meaning: the thing you are in becomes the name of your game. If you call TURNING AWAY, continuing to stay, then as a scribe of our times you excel; but as a rebel you continue.
You do not turn away from what you continue to adhere to, participate in or recognise as having power to speak about networks or anything else. If you did, you would not 'hear' the words, or be affected by the dictates at all, nor organised through them: you would have turned where this is not so.
Slackness here is simply one more commandment broken, and if this our time is one of PERIL, as Paul declares, then to disobey your walking orders is to act as one who is not a soldier at all, and must examine himself or herself to see if sound in the faith; for believing ? what does James say ? Faith without works is dead, and if you want to show your faith by your words, James prefers to see the deeds, and declares this, "Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" - James 2:10.
Thus there is no exemption or exception, and while God in mercy is ready to forgive the repentant, what sort of repentance continues in its own way ? or as John the Baptist had it, BRING FORTH FRUITS WORTHY OF REPENTANCE.
2) Next comes the case of SOCIAL GREED (I Timothy 6).
Here a social case arises, that of gracious service, even to brothers in Christ, on the part of bondservants, rather than such devices as social revolution. If anyone teaches-otherwise - no, this is not a misprint but a method of alerting the reader to the fact that the Greek term is a compound one - if anyone, then, presents a contrary doctrine, and does not consent to the teaching of godliness and the words of Christ (criteria already considered), Paul here declares, then what ? Then there are spiritual matters to be held in view. What are these spiritual matters revealed through the apostle Paul ?
In such a case, the person heterodox,misaligned, in error , as the New American Standard Version has its translation (I Tim. 6:4-5),
"is conceited, understanding nothing,
and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.
From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people
with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain."
One rendering has, "among people of depraved minds and deprived of the truth."
Paul proceeds, "Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it." Godliness with contentment is indeed great gain.
The text then itemises those who desire to be rich and the readiness with which they fall "into many foolish and harmful lusts" which "drown men in destruction and perdition": the pollution of the present and the dire destiny of the lost. In 6:10, he further characterises the love of money, noting that some having strayed from the faith here, with greediness, are pierced with many sorrows.
Next, there is a challenge to Timothy in the most general terms, just as the terms immediately above were becoming more and more general. He is instructed to FLEE these things and to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love and patience, gentleness; to fight the good fight of faith, to lay hold on eternal life, as called, and to keep this commandment without spot, blameless till the day of Christ. Then comes His appearing (I Timothy 6:14), wrought anew by the government of God, Himself inviolate, eternal, unapproachable except in Christ.
This is the terminus to which we look, and it is the beginning of eternity beyond the current testing times, the return of Christ, "the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Did not Christ make it most apparent that He is like a nobleman leaving for a time His property, but who will return and act as the case requires on those who have misused and abused it! (Luke 19:12ff.), or a householder who let his vineyard and then returned to apportion results to those who had misused those seeking the fruits for the owner, year by year! (Matthew 21:33ff., cf. Mark 12). Indeed Christ directly asserted that many would be surprised at His restoration, when He comes unexpectedly, their guilt exposed who had disregarded Him, His advent sudden, like that of a thief by night! (Matthew 24:32ff.). As to the manner of it, at the time of His departure, the angel informed the disciples that this same Jesus would return in a similar manner to that of His departure (Acts 1:7ff.), and the glory to be is parallel to the wonder of His surrender as a sin-offering on the cross (cf. Luke 24:26, Mark 14:62, Philippians 2:1-12).
Thus there is a special problem faced in I Timothy 6:1-2, a mode of test by the criterion of I Tim. 6:3, and a delineation of the characteristics of those who reject such teaching, teaching otherwise, and rejecting the criteria of Christ and godly teaching. This condemnation is linked to one of increasingly broad kind, as we see in the succeeding verses, since the criteria cover all deviation from divinely revealed doctrine; and then there is presented a challenge in the most cardinal terms of righteousness and Christ.
From this, we see that a special question arises, a statement of the criteria by which to judge questions is given, and then those who reject the specific answer to the question, and do not consent to Christ's words and godliness are shown condemned. The criteria then expand in their coverage, and Timothy is exhorted to keep the criteria, the faith, the word of God in general and in faith.
In the midst of the condemnation and characterisation of those rejecting the divine criteria and the teaching given, CONTRARY-TEACHERS, Paul tells Timothy WITHDRAW HIMSELF.
While then some of the characterisation of the rebels may include a specific feature drawn from the bondservant issue, the criteria in terms of which it is all to be assessed are made the basis for the exhortation to Timothy. They are presented in their entire breadth and scope, while the breach of the authority involved becomes the basis for the condemnation.
It is from "such" - from people like that - that Timothy is to withdraw. This is a complete parallel to the case of II Tim. 3. In our last chapter, we were seeing much in the way of parallels in doctrine; and here we find it in practice. To believe and to do, these are as brothers in Christ; and what is pure is to be practised, what is corrupt in teaching, to be severed, its practitioners avoided.
Thus the decree nisi is read where this authority of Christ and His word is denied, where contrary teaching is involved: for there is to be no fellowship where such things as this occur. The denunciation is specific, but part of a generic. It is from this type of error that Timothy is to subtract himself; and the type is that which is adverse to Christ's verbal authority, Christ whose word in Matthew 5:17-19 is so utterly categorical concerning all the scripture, so intimate to each in Matthew 4:4, and in Mark 7:7ff. is no less concerning addition.
3) Following comes the case of DOCTRINAL DRIFT -
In this, Paul having outlined fundamentals of the Christian faith in the preceding chapters and verses, makes a declaration of a practical kind. What happens, then, if someone or some party or group or sect should preach contrary to the doctrine of Paul and the apostles, should actually seek to be involved in the church but adverse to the doctrine so clearly formulated and so forcibly presented, so reasonably made manifest and so graciously delivered by these leaders sent by Christ for just such an office (cf. John 13:1-14:26) ?
There is in reply to this question, not merely the answer, but a moral and spiritual deed of witness delivered concerning those guilty of such teaching. This is scarcely surprising in view of the treatment of the Gospel, defined and made unalterable in the Epistle to the Galatians, where so stringent is its purity, that even if Paul himself, the apostle, should have erred by preaching otherwise, a different gospel, he too would be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).
It is important to realise this, for in the grand sweep of comprehensive truth, in terms of which all things become comprehensible and meaningful, if what God says of an injurious creation, one misusing liberty for lapses in love, indeed for active hatred and the follies of a pretended autonomy, for indifference towards their Creator or worse, active slander of His great name: if THIS also should be ignored, or diverted or perverted, then only calamity remains.
Christ did not send a telex, email or
letter; He came.
He did not speak in romantic terms as a verbaliser
in air, but acted.
He did not call Himself the Good Shepherd as an exercise in speech, but died for sinners. He did not come to die in order to be thwarted, but to witness the eternal life which is His, in breach of death, the work of love and mercy in overcoming judgment the costly way, for sinners.
If it had been indifferent whether those who also PERSONALLY WERE CALLED, having been His witnesses in life, death and resurrection, should teach, or others like Muhammad some 600 years too late to know, should present the truth He promised them, then it would be astounding.
How could the ONLY GOD there is, bring the ONLY WAY He has for those whose ONLY OTHER OPTION is a deserved hell without the One they did not desire or know or cherish in the very face of His light, love and Gospel (John 3:19), make it indifferent as to communication!
How on earth or in heaven could He, having done all that and having shown His glory in the face of Christ Jesus, in the very axes of eternity, being brought to man, permit the matter to be dissociable, derelict, the road train of some other truck, which had packed some other word from some other source for some other reason!
Thus, not surprisingly, but as part of the brilliant harmony of inevitable truth,
in contrast to those dizzy dashes of those who think they can ventriloquise for God,
or make gods like little dolls, that speak, the heady clashes of those who want to show
how to find the god they invent, or the collection of words they admire:
Paul makes a clear prohibition.
Today, to say that this apostolic prohibition is more honoured in the breach than in the observance would be a ludicrous under-statement. There is, indeed, today a passion for its defilement, an adoration of its breach, as if to breach this one apostolic commandment were a ground for the highest praise and the most rewarding social commendation. To obey it, on the other hand, becomes like a testimony that leprosy is good, and all should have it. One does not exaggerate, for this is the Age of concord in every presumptuous, sumptuous substitute for God, or if not God then His Christ, or if not His Christ, then His written word, that could be imagined.
Paul however speaks quite simply about the case where his and the apostles' teaching is not followed (and we remember the basic ground for the group in witness of Christ from the first, who He was, what He did in history, having come from heaven for this express purpose).
Having, then, in Romans 15-16, first asked us to pay attention to the needs of the Gospel messengers to be faithful and sustained, and to the people who as teachers presented doctrine which they had learned (and Paul makes clear that his doctrine is of this kind in I Cor. 14:37, 2:9ff., being from the very mind of God, who sent Jesus, the Lord's Christ - Luke 2:26), the apostle deals with the contrary case.
Indeed, those who called division and offence by contrary doctrine to that given, were subject to one single command here, and that of two words.
Now one should think that a two word command, each word 5 letters or 4, would not be excessively hard to comprehend. It is this: AVOID THEM! That is Romans 16:17.
Then Paul gives an approach to such, which is most like that of I Timothy 6 in 2) above. "For," the apostle proceeds, "those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ." That is a sufficient indictment. If you do not honour the mouth of the Lord, how can you honour the man, Christ Jesus ? If you do not honour the name of the Master, who is boss ? and how is He Lord ? “Why,” queried Christ, “do you call me Lord, Lord and not do the things that I say!” (Luke 6:46). If your boss directs the manner and shape for your company, and asserts principles, procedures and aims, is it some kind of fantasy which would make others think you a fraud if you said you served him, but denied his words ?
How could they serve Christ if they de-specify His mouth, ignore His word, decry or disparage His requirements, fall foul of His directives or shamelessly invent their own doctrines in HIS name!
What they serve, declares Paul, is their own bellies. Now there is here obviously a figure of speech; but it is a common one, and has a name, such is its frequency in language among men. It could be called metonymy, which means the use of one thing to speak about something else, which is associated with it. If it were a criminal of stout countenance, then you might perhaps be moved to say this, 'As the violent work of the gang proceeded, the face appeared.' Thus, 'he was the best English bat' similarly, does not suggest that the person concerned was fashioned out of willow.
Here the 'belly' has many overtones. It is part of the viscera, where feeling is thought of, as in this, 'his bowels were moved', which suggests emotional distress, feeling of a high order, of great disquietude. Thus the gastronomic per se is certainly not the meaning here, in the context of such breadth; but it is a symbol of what is. They serve, in other words, their own desires, personal and selfish, and not the realities of truth. That is the meaning.
By smooth words, the apostolic denunciation continues in Romans 16, "and flattering speech" they "deceive the hearts of the simple." In other words, Christ was it, said it and did it, as the Truth; but these do not do it, are not it, but yet in His name dare to proclaim what is the product of their own internal ramblings, with a presumption so preposterous, as they abuse His name to help their own vile ends, that deception is their ware, smoothness their mode and flattery their arrow.
Paul's exposure of such continues in II Corinthians 11, where the dissemination of another gospel, or their having another spirit, or presenting another Christ, when there IS no other, shows them as false apostles; for, Paul declares, Satan is able to disguise himself as an angel of light.
It is forbidden to be in any kind of spiritual fellowship, where such light that is darkness is being given scope for its exhibition. Indeed, the word concerning such people is this: AVOID! Let it be as a void in your life; and this, it is not done by sharing communion with it, now, is it ?
4) - 5) The cases of MORAL and SPIRITUAL INVENTION
(I Timothy 4 and Ephesians 4-5), now arrive.
In the former of these two, I Timothy 4, we find another reference to the phenomena towards the end of the Age to which Christ came, and coming, commenced. Paul declares that there is a special revelation that as this time comes, there will be notable 'doctrines of devils', and in the train of these dynamics some will depart from the faith, listening to 'deceiving spirits'. Lies will become a trade mark, hypocrisy a condition of heart in such cases, as might be expected where devil in reality and God in appearance are mixed!
Indeed, declares the apostle, such have "their own conscience seared with a hot iron." This is clear if you have ever left a hot iron inadvertently on some sheeting. The scorching, perhaps first detected by the nose, is seen in its clouded byproducts by the eye and soon felt by the hand as the disaster unfolds. There is no remedy, unless of course, the scorching is minor in area, and a patch can be sewn on. The tissue of the sheet at the point concerned is unserviceable thereafter.
In the case given by this special revelation from the Lord, Paul indicates, there are some specific signals. Consciences such as this are derelict, diving anywhere, like ashes.
This will, as in all signals, help identification of what is in view. What are these then ?
A) in force, there will be some
prohibition on marriage.
B) a food fad will arise, in the form of a command NOT TO EAT certain foods.
So important is this revelation, that contrary to the unwise ways of these now openly flouting the word of God in an agonising world, there is a need to WARN. Paul knew the need, and did not hold back in meeting it! Timothy would be a faithful minister if he alerted the brethren to this declivity, this debasement, this coming fraud (I Timothy 4:6).
The world now is delighted NOT TO WARN, except against those who believe the Bible or kill; and in England, the former Home Secretary has been noted as joining the two, in a way which appears to constitute one the most barefaced attacks on the Gospel of love without force, perhaps ever made! (cf. What is the Chaff to the Wheat ? Ch. 5). Terrorism and evangelical Christianity were actually by a ludicrous, contradictory and exceedingly slanderous assault, conjoined; as if the cross and the scimitar had some comparison, or even the cross and the airliner bombs, or the cross and the fires of Rome! Small wonder protests of force were forthcoming at this gross and hideous slander concerning any evangelical Christians. Next perhaps Nazis will be called Communists, or Falun Gong terrorists, or Marx a capitalist!
Such is the intemperate and ludicrous reaction maturing towards the Gospel of the love of the God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son in death, to bring life, and in contemptuous exposure of contemptible folly, to bring back some. How true it is that there is a departing, and that the doctrines of devils have come in such a season as this. Here we see the fulfilment, incidentally, of the "despisers of those who are good" as one of the final flavours of culture in this world, in II Timothy 3:3. Where such is the flow, much may go; and this double food and marriage doctrine of devils, it is one which Paul announces for this late phase of the time for the Gospel to circumnavigate and be instilled into this passing world (cf. I Cor. 7:31).
In passing, it should be realised that this "good" in this verse is variously translated as "the good" or "good", meaning the people or else, even what goodness is ... or of course, BOTH! The Greek here is just one word, and it involves a negative adjoined to loving and good, in a triple alliance, a threefold unit, together with the ending signifying many or plural. This word readily lends itself to such a translation as "despisers of the good"; but as a complex noun, it can refer to the other also, despisers of goodness! Such is its assignation in Thayer's Greek dictionary.
There is a NO to goodness and those who love it! That is part of the pathology of this end-time case, and as noted, this is the period of its domain. Watch for it, and be encouraged, then, you who are Christians, for it is but one of the many signs that His coming is near, and so lift up your hearts as Christ told you! (Luke 21). If you mourn for those so misled, and seek them spiritually, yet do not let your joy be diminished, as you go. His coming is near!
Paul, for his part, assuredly does warn, and it is well as time has now advanced, to consider applications of his words. There is only one case where deception, abstention from certain foods and prohibition of marriage can be discerned; and this is one which has come about over the centuries, as the Bishop of Rome became pope, and doctrine, not only not to found within the Bible, but contrary to what is in the Bible, became common for a body which grew massively in scale. This it did, as likewise it did in the use of force to crush those who, naming Christ, did not share its contradiction of the Bible (cf. SMR pp. 1032 - 1088H as above). This ghoulish phenomenon is indeed found where such teachings were found.
Thus it can be seen, not merely that this was a most important warning from the apostle Paul, since there are computations which suggest many millions of death in Inquisition and long before it, from this scandalous conduct at the behest or sanction of the Bishop of Rome, called then 'pope', father, as if further to scandalise the word of God which prohibits by name any such title to man, at the spiritual level (Matthew 23:8-10). It can also be realised, and this even more importantly, that these errors are historically joined to the deception of having Christ's expressly stated memorial supper (I Cor. 11:24) turned into a sacrifice. How appalling it is, that someone who as genuine man, had one body and could die therefore only once as Hebrews 2 and 9 emphasise and require, is made to appear as if He broke His actual body unnoticeably in the Last Supper, as MUST have occurred if He MEANT that the bit of bread to be used in memory of Him, was in fact His body and not a symbol for it! as John 6:60 makes even clearer, if possible.
To imply such things, intentionally or not, it makes no difference here, and then to act as if having had this poetic and bloodless death, in terms of juice being called it, and bread given its own name, He resumed the work, with an implicit resurrection or some other magic not noted in scripture occurring invisibly and untestable in time, in order to be ready for Calvary: it is to breach all reality and every word of God to the point. To die at Supper in order to bring a memorial for a death to be wrought on the Cross by divine prescription over a thousand years in duration, this is a mockery not to be masked!
To KILL others because they would not inter the word of God in order to obey such traditions of man, nor go contrary to it, nor beyond it, as the depths are beyond the mountain peaks: this becomes an ultra-murder and is indeed in line with the apostolic characterisation of the case, not only in terms of forbidding marriage and certain food, but in calling the schism, "doctrines of devils".
Faith is not another name for confusion and addition to the words of the founding Christ, or contradiction of them or both, relative to those whom He actually authorised, is not a form of obedience, but a spurious supplement, a spiritual invasion and a corrosive influx. Against such things, Proverbs rightly speaks , warning as one must in the Lord's name, those who add to His words, in this or other ways, as if HE SAID THEM; so advising not to do so lest one be found a liar (30:6, cf. SMR Appendix D).
It is clear that if one is to warn the brethren about this sort of thing, stylised in Paul in terms of doctrines of devils and deceiving spirits, that the warning is NOT to engage in such practices or to accompany those who commit them. The Great Dividing Range has the side of light and that of darkness, and we are advised to WALK IN THE LIGHT (Isaiah 2:5, Ephesians 5:8). In the latter, the advice is this, and to this we shall return: "For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light ..."
Thus the realm of darkness is diverse and contrary to the realm of light, but those who know the light of the Lord, who is the light of the world (John 8, 9), are to walk as children of light do, and in a way wholly contrary to what is contrary - that is, that of darkness.
This of course means that not only the Roman Catholic body, but those who now insist on 'walking' with them, such as the Uniting Church, increasingly the Lutheran body in Australia, and the World Council of Churches are not for calling, for fellowship, for spiritual involvement of any kind. Let us be clear: it is not to say that once a great body like the Lutheran Church begins to slip, it is forthwith, to be left. It IS however to say that once it is duly tested, checked, confronted, and refuses to turn from such wilful disobedience, then it MUST be left, as all the above scriptures indicate, as well as the general principles of Isaiah 8:20. The time for such testings is now long past, years having flowed past this lachrymose default.
This word in Isaiah, one may recall, advises us that if they do not speak according to the book of the Lord, the case is that there is no light in them. That is a profound statement, and it is to be heeded.
God is very zealous to love, to die, to be resurrected in human format, to donate eternal life, and if it is felt that it is more important to have medical hygiene in a hospital, dealing with a few years of mortal life, than in the church, which deals with the eternity which comes from the heart of the God who first made us, and judges all things, then this is to make the endless less than the ending! the eternal a minor to the temporary, the divine subordinate to the passing, and the sublime inferior to the supine.
It is also to defy God.
Let us then turn now to Ephesians 4-5, the 5th of our illustrations of the results of light and darkness before the Lord, the one FROM Him, the other CONTRARY to Him.
Here we find in Ephesians 4:30-32 that one must avoid GRIEVING the Holy Spirit. You must, as Christians, says Paul, not show bitterness of spirit, or surge up with anger, with all sorts of upset and bad words and evil ideas about other people, but instead be kind, tender-hearted, forgiving, just as Christ forgave you.
This relates to personal desires, insults and all the things men do to one another, as if to hurt, destroy and ruin; it is to do with man against man, in matters of dual concern, for their own sakes.
Instead, in Ephesians 5, Paul continues, be imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself an offering and sacrifice for us ...
Then turning to the dark side morally, he adds, that fornication, coarse language should stop; because those whose lives are of this kind, including those who are covetous and idolators, have no inheritance from Christ, and do not therefore have eternal life. Do not, he directs, be deceived as empty words may act to mislead you; the fact is, the apostle makes clear, that the wrath of God comes because of just such things.
First, then, remember the words in Ephesians 4:30-32, which showed the sort of spiritual errors walking in darkness can mean. Avoid this, and act in the opposite way, he said. In view of this, he adds the word 'therefore'. THEREFORE be imitators of God, he proceeded to state, in 5:1, and walk in love; while avoiding those evil things such as idolatry, covetousness and ALL UNCLEANNESS. Thus the carnal, bodily sins and the cluttering spiritual sins alike are in view, and ALL of them are to be avoided, so long as they qualify as unclean.
This is in perfect parallel with II Corinthians 7:1, which speaks of cleansing oneself from all uncleanness of flesh and spirit, completing holiness in the fear of the Lord.
What however is one to do when uncleanness of body or spirit, persistent conduct to the contrary of the love and holiness of God is pressured in and accepted ? In view of the nature of such things, the apostle makes a declaration in Ephesians 5:7: "THEREFORE DO NOT BE PARTAKERS WITH THEM."
These commands are always reasonable, based in principles and the very revelation of God, applied to cases; and they have one result, whether the special emphasis, as here, be on moral and spiritual invention and deviation, or as before and above, on doctrinal deviation, or social greed or spiritual dissonance, where a strange contrariness enters in.
More than once Paul warns that there will be culmination of these things as the Age comes near its end, and always the step to be taken is clear: AVOID, do NOT PARTAKE. If now a billion people do this or that, then that, so far from being a ground for joining them, is a ground for caution, for narrow is the way, and in this part of the Age, the end part, such popularity is precisely what deviation from truth and goodness is to enjoy! a specious enjoyment and a delusive thrill.
Thus there is one design for man, who inhabits the Continental Divide which was made by one God, who shines His light on one side, where also the rains loom and cascade down, where the eternal waters being imbibed, flow up in so many springs to eternal life, where healing in His wings makes of the place a torrent of grace and a triumph of kindness; but it is a place where the invaders from the other side seek constantly to use the missiles of madness and the coruscations of dark light to create trouble, pain and persecution.
Nevertheless, the light and the rain are so abundant, and the peace of the hills and sward on this side is so great, that those who live on it are replete with joy, so that in longsuffering with joyfulness they endure and delight in the light, walk through the waters for pure abundance of felicity and look to the clouds of majesty which protect them (Isaiah 4:5, John 4:14).
On the other side, those of the same original design as these on the near and sunlit side, in darkness continually try to create artificial light, which has a baleful and flickering orangish hue, suggestive of its origins, and enables the bare discernment of darkness to be made more palpable, so that odd shapes and sizes now come, now go, and nobody actually knows what is what, and what is not.
They seek also to manufacture water, but their night is so vile and baneful, that it merely leads to a slow seepage which unlooses the binding in the hills, which tend to fail and fall; while the cold is often so intense, that glaciers form, the moraine of which with the other disturbances, moves slowly, but occasionally in great heavings, to the dark netherlands below.
For mankind on either side, there is one destiny, and one way to the one Designer, who as Creator is also Redeemer; and when one is swept by strange winds to the near side (John 3), there is much rejoicing on that side (Luke 15:10), and much strengthening is given, and help, that the very clothing (Jude 22-23) which was on the body, can be rapidly replaced; and such is the wonder of this, that those who come declare they are new creations (II Cor. 5:17ff.), as in fact they are.
Although indeed their form is one with that of the others, its state made them unrecognisable, and with the removal of the chemical coverings which were present in the air of the other side, and with the impact of light, with that remarkable change which seems to liberate, loosen and make more lovely their most interior parts, they grow and find the rock under their feet; for all the houses here are built on rock (Matthew 7:24ff.), the most delightful stability they have ever known or could even imagine (Isaiah 33:6).
The division between the two sides of the Mountain is a ridge, called the lines of demarcation, for it is so high that no one can pass it, except with the aid of the wind; and those on the far side, they find the darkness seems to be unable to be penetrated by the light from the near side, so that there is a sense of specious confusion, which with the height of the ridge, the sharpness of its edges, makes it appear a towering height which proceeds into the uttermost parts of the heavens; for in blindness there is no relief (Matthew 13:14ff.) and for wilful blindness, no cure of human invention.
The name of the ridge is the Reality of Truth, and from the near side, it is better understood, for there is more light there, and it is also called the Exclusion of Unbelief; for though faith is needed, and lost on the other side from any reality for any, yet it is to the same original design of man that it comes. It is in accord with the facts that it works, the fact of the one God and one Designer who having made man, brought to be the Range when man fell, so that though the two sorts seem like two races, yet this is because the darkness makes dimness of anguish on the far side, and the darkness also within makes of them such a confusion that the coruscation seems incredible on the other side, of which they gain indirect record and reports, even sometimes blazing ones, though they do not believe them.
Those who have been caught up at times, on the near side, they gain a perspective which the others readily recognise, because it confirms all their own intimations, and they call the ridge The Great Dividing Range, since there is no pass through it, and only the wind can bring those on the nether side, to the light by acting from above (John 3:6,8). The children of light love this, but the children of darkness who live on the other side, they regard it as unattractive; for despite their gloom and doom - which some of them do not like to face, but others grow morbid about, blaming God, while others deride them, not believing anything but themselves, and knowing so little because of the darkness - they prefer to think of something which will happen.
They never know what it is, and sometimes they make up little gods who inhabit the hills, like organic evolution, and sometimes gods like the destiny for man, and sometimes gods like the dance of progress, as into the current malodorous pit of selfish scheming, pompous mouthing and unutterable cruelty, amid falling standards, contempt for truth and a plague of injustice. At other times, they seek to make organising gods who never work, but whom they like to pat on the head fondly, though the head is not there, so they invent little pats called philosophy, and pat the words on the site for the head anyway; for there is a theory that it is good to pat, so they get it all pat, and pat and pat and pat. Some think this is patronising to man in particular, since little gods take away from the glory within, though no one on that side ever quite knows what this glory is; so they agree to have a feeling that something will happen, as it will, when the mountains being removed, and those on the near side taken to the common Designer of the entire race, find the One who restored them to their original design and light and the love of His creative heart.
These who stay in the dark at this time however, they inherit what darkness portends, not what they themselves pretended.
There is beyond it all, this profound harmony; for though the two sides differ so much, there is a continual call to those on the far side to look above, from where the wind comes, and to call on the name of the common Creator and man's only Redeemer, which some do, and then they find themselves amazingly changed both in location and vocation, and proceed to send messages to those in the dark side, which they for their part grind under foot, though sometimes one will come upon it, and believe and leave.
There is therefore a profound sense of an overarching, all-sufficient One who is active and not belligerent where faith looks for Him to find Him where He is, but whose hatred of the shameless name of sham is so intense that like dazzling lightning, ever now and again, it penetrates even to the heart of the nether side (Romans 1:16ff.), leaving them upset and turbulent, looking somewhere other than above; for though they know, many of them, within that there is a site where both unity and the end of division lies, they prefer to be confounded to finding it. But lies love them like fleas, and hide in the crevices of their hearts.
Many in this far side love to talk of the things of the messages, and some form Dark Churches, which are really not churches at all, but spiritual cases of playing the fool, or else being fooled by the play; and they continue with those who love the little gods they pat, and they try to combine it all, and the darkness there is incomprehensible, for there is no sense it in at all, but the sense of reality, which is not seen, which announces the end of it all, which is an interminable exclusion (Mark 9, Matthew 13:42-43). Some indeed form something called the church of Roam, and they do roam, for you never know where they will go next, for their leader they empower to tell them where it is.
Some even make an altar (SMR pp.1032-1088H), where it is said everything is altered, but you never see what it is, and they use words about Christ, whom everybody could see, who said His words were spirit and life (John 6:60ff.), who did not die at the Last Supper, but once as is given to those who take the place assigned to the form of man, and that on the Cross (Hebrews 9:25-28, 2:14-17); for He did not take the form of angels, but of man and was in all points in this regard like man (Romans 8:1-3, Hebrews 2:14), except that He did not sin; and He as God, so took this form (Philippians 2). so that He could in all points be tempted like man (Hebrews 4:15),
Others prefer a different altar, and it is called the Uro-Paean, and they do not accept the altar of Roam, but sing praises to themselves, for whom they declare a 'common destiny' though it is not in their power to secure it, being on the nether side, where there is nothing left to secure, except an insecurity which itself is not secure, since its end is everlasting night; while others again, form pacts and let words become parasites on thoughts, so that they eat them up, and you never know how much is eaten, and how much is left, for it is continual; and they like the ambiguity, saying we don't know much, but this much we know, we move. The sense of direction does not help them, and they are like busy traffic which is too pre-occupied to find out where the streets go, or even their names or the points of the compass. Thus they are encompassed with confusion.
Even here on this dark side, some realising that the messages do not allow for such unholy synthesis, and such ungodly alliance, find a thrust within, and call on the name of the Lord, and gain the other side, declaring it a gift of glorious magnitude that from such a near approach to the moraine of mud and reeking boulders, coldness and melting icy slush, they could ever have been lifted high enough to pass over the seemingly impenetrable Ridge. It is indeed impenetrable, unless the wind blows; but it is the word of the practical love and divine saving passion of God which they pick up, it is this in the power of the Common Creator which leads to the thing called faith, which on the dark side they all dread, until they have it, when of course they are not there anymore.
The glorious harmony of the inevitable truth thus displays itself in the mountain, which high enough above it, you can see to be one, in the light which shows the truth clearly and coherently on the near side, exposing anew the wonder of the transition from one side to the other, in the power of the Common Creator who with power, pathos and pardon brings some from the far side of the Common Mountain, to the other, which in sum, though uncommon in any one time, yet mounts to a very large and sizable number.
These are called the elect, and though some try to say it was their own election, the Book says to the contrary, for they are not born of their own will but of His who is above (John 1:12-14, 3:27, 6:65, Matthew 11:27), whose the wind is and whose the word it is which liberates; and the Book has a name, the Bible. Yet it is He who acts, He whose love reaches past all the scar tissues which polluted hearts exhibit; and He ceases not with any because love fails, but because it is pure, and will not stoop to shame itself into sham force (Luke 19:42ff.). Over all the disparity, His love and power loom like a burning fire; though some feel its heat and others find its light (John 9:4, 8:12), the darkness finding it incomprehensible, while some prefer to call it reprehensible, though they never quite find out why, since even their streets have neither names nor known destinations.
Moreover on this near side, it is realised clearly by one and by all, little and large, small and great, though even the great do not parade what they do here, inside or outside, but simply serve, that the wind which brought them came from the One who as Common Creator came in their midst to show them who He is, and that on the far side they slew Him, since He went there continually to bring back what He called the lost, who neither knew where they were or how to get back. In fact, there is much sympathy for the nether side, for never was one on the near side who was not brought near by the death of the Redeemer, who paid the cost of transport in His death also, since it covered the entire case of those living in darkness (Colossians 1:12-13).
He knew they would do it to Him, and that is one reason He went there; for what they did to Him was the way He could bring them back to His Father, since sacrifice of the just for the unjust saves (I Peter 3:18), when it is taken by faith, at which the entirety of divine grace both prevails and rejoices (Ephesians 2:8-12). As to the other reason, it is His love for them, though it is amazing how love of such a height could be, for there seemed but little to love (Romans 5:8); but as Common Creator He had the heart to look beyond a mother's or a father's love, and to love in the great original of love, which is for ever His own.
This is the basis for the blowing of the wind, for unless He had done so, there would be only judgment in the moraine at the foot of the nether side; for sin against the common design means foulness, and foulness stinks to high heaven, and is irreducible except by due ruin, which He suffered, bringing justice its prey in Himself (II Cor. 5:17ff., Isaiah 53:2-6,10-11). This was good because this is how He made it to take effect, so that only He could be their God and only His salvation could be their escape and altogether His work could be their ground, so that none could ever slip back to the other side, as if in anything it finally depended on themselves; and so while some even try to become their own joint Saviours, this savours of ruin, for their foolish hearts are always trying to do without God, or His salvation or His grace or His face, or His security or His certainty or His reliability or His word in this or in that or in all, and their plastic surgeons are ever at work trying to make new faces for Christ, and new names for Him, these are like paper dolls of those whom one loves, which are not really quite the same (II Corinthians 11).
Indeed, assuredly in negative rampagings and releases, the continual trend is not to do anything but make an idol to worship, which is an exceedingly peculiar way to spend one's time; but on the nether side, there is no light, except in flares or occasional lightnings or lurid seepings.
Those who escape (Hebrews 6:18) declare they have an anchor both steadfast and sure inside the very holy premises of the heart of God Himself; though others, still affected by the flesh, seem to think they can up anchor and go astray from the Lord, which of course is not faith, and is a most monstrous exhibit of the prong of the dark. Search-lights are sometimes turned on to remind the children of light that the light is no light thing to have, now that lightning flashes are no longer needed; and then many find in Him what they thought they had, and many eye diseases are thereby cured, so that people learn to rest in the reality of the salvation of God, who in Christ is ever alive to make intercession and not only is able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25), but gives ETERNAL REDEMPTION (Hebrews 9:12), which does not really mean uneternal redemption.
As to that eternal redemption, it is the name which is sometimes seen in the grass and sward of the light side of the Mountain where the meadows expand, in little red flowers and in the gardens in irrepressible scarlet blooms which come in such sheer abundance that many come to the realisation that there is no limit to the salvation of God, so that they perceive with new and final intensity, that when work is in it, it is no more grace, but if it grace is its name, then it is no more work, lest any man should boast (Romans 10, Ephesians 2:8ff., Romans 3:23ff., Galatians 3, 5).
On this side, indeed, boasting is regarded as the sickness so gross that comedies are written to expose it, at which all laugh, for they really know within themselves that birth is no more a work of will when it is into His kingdom, than it is when it is merely a coming into this world; and that what is born of God, what believes in His name, has eternal life as John says (I John 5:13, 1::12); and as Hebrews so well affirms possesses its eternal redemption with its anchor, so steadfast: certainty and anchorage being linked to eternity and life. The anchor within the veil does not move, being immovable, His achievement, for it is He, being everlasting life as a donation from Himself whose it is (I I John 1:1-4, 5:;11-13).
They call this salvation by grace through faith, the whole thing being not of yourselves (Ephesians 2:8), which is just as well, since the common design, though brought back by the Common Creator in His comprehensive truth to its former state, yet has become vulnerable, and only He can keep back the cancer of corruption which threatens; and in all of His people whom He has changed back (Colossians 3:10), there is none who is ever lost (John 10:9,27-28, 6:50ff., 4:14, I Thess. 5:9-10). Judas ? he was a devil from the first (John 6:70-710), and the devil claimed him at the last (John 6:27ff.), the Lord's people being chosen before time as we now have it, was so much as invented (Ephesians 1:4), and the book of life in its eternal form, clear from the start (cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25, in the prescriptive descriptions, with Romans 8:28ff.).
Meanwhile on the nether side, there are many who speak of having had experiences of great things, and who seem to have grabbed some small part of the Bible, but they find the heat so strong that the paper burns in their hands, and they cannot read it any more, and they toss and turn in their beds at night, being unstable and unusable because of lack of faith, for their hearts are not broken, nor could they repent, and the word of God does never penetrate, so that their case becomes hopeless, and they harden the more, until even the surface of the soil of their hearts become too firm to admit much rain, even when it falls (Hebrews 6:4ff., 10:29). What they taste, at last they spit out, and what they have experienced in introduction, becomes the consignment of their negation as they limp off, like the rich young ruler, confronted and having experience with Christ indeed, but not coming, but rather going without faith.
It is however not generally realised on the nether side that playing and tossing about the word of God is not a sport to bring joy to the heart, and that when all is done, the cross is not a toy, but truth (Matthew 13:21).
Many can come to recognise with joy the word of Paul, that he is persuaded better things of those to whom he writes (Hebrews 6:9), than this toll on folly, even with the faith, and there are those on the near side who have songs to sing because of it (Hebrews 9:14-15, Isaiah 24:16), for they recognise that if the former sacrifices, which were but symbolic of salvation, could cleanse in the merciful prevision of God, HOW MUCH MORE does the blood of Christ, not dabbed but received, His very life given into death which it broke, cover all sin and cleanse all evil, even for ever (Hebrews 10:14), yes, just by one sacrifice! Having given His life, He gave all, and having given it personally (John 10:17-18), it held no thrall for any to appoint themselves seconds to Him! ONCE He suffered, for if sacrificed more He would suffer more, we learn in Hebrews 9; and once He saved, whose salvation is permanent in concept, in occurrence and in consequence. FAITH is its reception and REPENTANCE its preliminary.
Many sing together a song: One sacrifice from one God for one salvation, this is the way for this our spiritual nation, and though the heart complain, and reckless thoughts remain, we disown their moan and never roam, for grace is the very name for our race.
It remains only to differentiate emphatically the case of separation, so that you are on the right side of the range and not just a nominal sunshine side, while walking in the bleak neon mistiness of the other, on the one hand, and the stringency of judgmentalism, on the other.
It is indeed unfortunate, though most readily understandable, that those who are appalled at this very confusion on the part of many, and who desire reform and remedy most justly, should in the excess of zeal be at times inclined to summarily judge this person or that - even Wesley has been subjected to such arrancy of aristocratic seeming disdain (cf. Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Chs. 8-10 for context).
Yet it was as Bishop J.C. Ryle points out in his Lecture on George Whitefield ("New Birth" volume), none other than Wesley concerning whom Whitefield had made a very special request. This, says Bishop Ryle, was made shortly before his death, when he asked that Wesley be the one to preach the sermon at his funeral! Indeed, Ryle declares this, "as Calvin said of Luther, so Whitefield was resolved to think of Wesley. Differences apart, he was ‘determined to know him only as a good servant of Jesus Christ’.”
Doubtless this is more appearance than reality, in at least some cases; but some tempestuous judgments have at times a somewhat sulphurous feel. It is essential that we realise that there is a place for grace and a place for truth, and that the ideal and possible solution is that they as one operate in the heart of man who, being careful to be meek, knowing that in the times of turmoil especially one should seek meekness, seek righteousness (Zephaniah 2:3) ... watches his words, and the churning or burning which may come to his spirit with care. This Paul shows in his own case in I Corinthians 4:3-5, while Zephaniah declares: .
"Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment;
seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger."
The ocean makes great blow-holes well into the land, in places, so that its surgings can be heard, and even its liquid thrusts and explosive moments may be perceived rising perhaps to sight or even thrusting into the upper air, as if the excess of violence were uncontained. It is so with man; there is always the danger that the upthrust of exasperation or the onset of Don Quixote charges may spoil what is good, by its very untrained exuberance; just as the opposite error is not hard to find, where the sheer desire for placidity leads to the pollutions of the most notorious kind being left to slaughter the spiritual atmosphere, or those within it, if it were possible.
Thus when one is dealing with a sect, where for centuries the evils have been shown by careful work in contrasting the scriptures, there is a system and it is readily dismissed as mere originality masquerading as biblical. It is good to be original in the place where the sun shines, where the very earth is healthy; but on the dark side, when the issues are saying things in God's name for yourself, or in your name for God, or some infelicitous combination, then originality becomes just one more forgery in the cheque book attributed to God, and one more devious deviation from righteousness. You can't write God's cheques for Him, though you bluster like a cyclone, bellow like a bull or croak incessantly like a frog.
When however one comes to any given 'member' of a sect, one has to be a little more careful: in case on the one hand, one may rescue, or as Jude puts it, "save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 23), or else on the other, ignore a differentiation which has moved into the fallen soul concerned, and so fail to be just. PRINCIPLES and SYSTEMS are one thing, and with these there is a relative simplicity in condemnation from the comparison with scripture, if it is decisively negative; but with people there is room for care.
Thus some say one thing in one place, and deny it in another, as appears to have been the case even, to go to an extreme, with Wesley (cf. Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Chs. 8 - 9, in the context of Ch. 10). To 'send these to hell' as some may wish to do, becomes then an exercise in JUDGMENT, which is forbidden (cf. Matthew 7), a derogation of the dignity of deity by rough-housing His creation, and knowing too much for meekness, in failing to differentiate between confusion and rebellion. Assuredly in any foolish statement there is sin; but sin and hell are not identical.
It was not least for some such reason as this that the author, when a Minister in the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, in 1966, did not with the Session of St Ninian's PC, directly deal with the heresy-maker in the resurrection case, that being left as a resultant matter; but rather with the ISSUE and the PRINCIPLE and the DOCTRINE. The first thing was to cleanse the church from the total departure from the faith which their ambivalence on the resurrection of the body of Christ Jesus the Lord, entailed.
A failure to assert this in a church is conspicuously a denial of the faith, for it was a central affirmation by a central apostle on a pivotal occasion in the very institution of the Christian Church as such (Acts 2:23-32). It was the practical difference between rotting and rising, between fulfilling scripture and not doing so, between triumph and disaster, between being shown a monstrous and egotistical liar and a marvellous and authentic Messiah. Such things were pointed out in the paper giving the grounds for this author’s dissent from the infamous resurrection statement made by the Assembly in 1996, one formally recorded by specific request. What then was the issue ?
It was the distinction between
a messy messiah and THE MESSIAH, the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26).
of God to speak truth,
of the Christ to do it, Him who
could never be defeated in healing or verbal contest,
of Father and Son to accomplish what
was foretold (cf. Joyful Jottings
of the disciples to attest truth,
of thousands of
the populace to accredit truth by evidence
of the Lord to
perform to the day what He foretold
and of the risen Christ to be
investigated by doubters (John 20:19ff.),
It meant a denial
of the assured results of scientific
method applied to the data (cf. SMR pp.
of the declaration of God from a
millenium before, carried out with no slightest testimony of error,
of the continual fulfilment of every
last prophecy concerning the Christ, when in the flesh,
It implies an assault on the Bible, which never in any point yields over the millenia to criticism, but mocks in every Age, scourging the pompous pride of its assailants with facts and reason, with developments and fulfilments to the precision of jot and tittle, while they dream dreams which lack as much relationship to any factual arena as dreams do; and it bespeaks a specious and gratuitous affront to the Lord in the pivotal reality of history at the Cross. For a 'church' to do this, unchurched it. But what of this anti-resurrection regime, and what of its place ?
It thereby has mocked whether by intention or distraction, not only the central provision of God to procure pardon but to destroy death (cf. Hebrews 2:14, II Timothy 1:10); and that, not some dream of it, but the very thing itself which stings (I Corinthians 15), in a divine deliverance wrought by rising in the third day with the very thing interred, as Paul declares (I Cor. 15:1-4). Indeed, it travesties gratuitously and vacuously His power to destroy with death itself, the enemy of life, and the deserved terminus for sin, that infernal spirit, the devil, who had the power of it: and so to devastate it categorically. This Christ wrought by justice, suffering and ransom, thus delivering from the due results of dire justice which none could deny (Matthew 20:28, Psalm 49, Hosea 13:14), in an only action, the unquenchable exhibit, following the word of the eternal God, our Maker.
It was, after all, merely the summit of many such miraculous actions wrought before all, many in incurable diseases, and some in death, brought to health or life before the eyes of all, just as the corpse of Christ was available on the third day and thereafter, for none to see, seeing it did not exist.
Thus as in so many areas and arenas, unbelief forges dreams, and without evidence, seeks to arrest anew the mighty works of God; but one might as well arrest the dawn, for it declares itself.
Here then was the cardinal difference between faith and unbelief, between the One who categorically met a doubt by requesting the poking of finger into His side to Thomas (John 20), and imagination making new gods, new christs and new gospels.
As to that challenge of Jesus Christ amid His disciples, that practical, that pragmatic, you could almost say that prying test: it became the occasion for the principle of faith which Christ then enunciated (John 20:27-29). The demonstration of His bodily presence was the occasion, this very thing, the time and the event for Thomas to be moved to declare of Christ (to follow the Greek literally), "the Lord of me and the God of me".
It was in terms of this very direct and physical thing that Christ went on to make His classic declaration. It was this: that Thomas believed on seeing, but blessed were they who would believe without such seeing as this; and believe what ? Believe what Thomas stumbled at, with the precise physical emphasis Thomas made as a criterion of test, namely POKING the FINGER into the wound and demonstrating that the resurrection was, so far from poetry or confusion, a physiological fact!
The NZ Assembly of 1966 however was in the grip of disbelief, wandered from the Bible, from history, from reason, from evidence, from its basis, from the Lord, and discounted the point as having any significance. It was a privilege to expose it, and on its very floor at that very meeting, publicly and vocally to dissent from it, requiring that this dissent be recorded, and to condemn its follies, even though in the end, the cost was the pastorate, who nevertheless were given every opportunity to respond.
Alas, in the PC of NZ then, who cared about the body in that collapse of a church! By the testimony of the REGISTERED DISSENT at least, there was one, one who cared enough to direct from a biblical basis the eyes of the people to the folly of their leadership on this occasion. This will remain for ever a reality which can be denied only by lie, just as the resurrection is subjectible only by the same method.
Calling 'resurrection' what ignored the body was mere pap. Indeed, if this ambivalence were to stand, the Church in New Zealand would have fallen; it did, and that followed. That is why one left it after showing these things; and that is one reason why one went so far as to denounce them, both in the presentation of the Overture in the 1966 Assembly, and in the 17,000 or so word exposition of their infamous betrayal of the biblical Christian faith, which according to Church law both could be and was deposited with them as a testimonial. That is why the author had no option but to shake off the dust of his shoes on this unadmirable collusion with unbelief, irrationality and ecclesiastical autonomy before the Lord who requires faith as a firstling for the dawn of operational day (cf. Matthew 28:19-20, John 8:24).
New christs would be constructed, Christ indicated (Matthew 24:24), false and fraudulent, and assuredly this is one, this platonic christ, joint creation of philosophy and unbelief. It is not he, this constructed doll, however, who saves (cf. II Cor. 11); and one can but read the denunciation of Paul of such new christs, gospels or different spirits!
One can see that this does not read like a comment on a pleasant Sunday afternoon concert. That is so. The PRINCIPLE and the DOCTRINE and the ISSUE are categorical, and the CORPORATE CONSEQUENCE was clear. There can be a subsequent repentance as with Peter when he betrayed Christ, but one has not heard of it. You do not announce repentance of a rebellion by insipidity and ambiguity. Talking in riddles is no denial of a denial, and repentance does not appear in conundrums but with clarity!
As to the question of any given member of the muted Assembly (as far as one knows, one's vote was the only disclaimer to the Resurrection Statement, which of course remained inherent in any other Assembly vote concerning the matter, for the one who made it), one would not care in the least to make a judgment. How would one know whether some one was so disgusted with himself that he resigned later, or sought action in the next year, or moved to another denomination ? News of it, however, is hard to find.
Thus, there are personal matters which the wise do not dabble with, lest they presume, and fail to recognise Paul's injunction to judge nothing before the time (I Corinthians 4). That of course does not exempt clear and categorical proclamations, made against what both teaches contrary to basic scriptural requirements (as distinct from inept ramblings that lack insight and clarity), from due judgment; nor does it prevent the consequences from being exposed equally categorically; for wandering into new christs while affirming the One who did it, is not only misleading, confused and faithless. It is worse: fictional innovation mocking at history and making truth irrelevant, even while using the name of Him who declared, when in open test by ferociously pugnacious opponents (cf. Luke 11:53-54) where it could not be refuted, "I AM ...THE TRUTH!" (John 14:6).
Thus neither does any such consideration make it improper for a godly church to exclude from its membership those who proceed to insist on such diverse teaching (Romans 16:17). Yet it does even here, make for some care, lest any be confused, and ready to receive when approached.
It is easy for fools to rush in where angels fail to tread; just as it is simple for inept failure to tread where at last, one must, if one is to be faithful.
How does one discern the difference ? That too is found in principle, though the work of the Lord, in His Spirit, can move a people to find the way. Thus there should always be charity, clarity, helpfulness, hope, there should not be arrogant arguments about words, mere sites for the insertion of prejudice and preferred philosophy (cf. I Timothy 6:4) as one found on occasion even in Westminster Seminary (cf. Questions and Answers Ch. 7). One should not 'seize on' some inadvertence or over-statement from mere fuming emotion, for although this is sin, it must be sure if judgment enters in for a church body, that it is not a legalistic parade, that is in question. Rather should the object be, if possible, the deliverance, even of one whose very garment one may find stifling (Jude 23ff.).
One should patently realise that JUST AS it is God who chooses in love, SO in love He would have all to repent (Colossians 1:19ff.) categorically, and in selecting sovereignly by no means ignores the realities of what He seeks or commands, nor departs from His repeated asseverations, intimations and declarations of a love which stops at nothing, not even the cross, except for the violation of its own purity*3, in calling that love which is shove (cf. Isaiah 48:17ff., Luke 19:42ff.). One must realise by no means less that when the diversity in man, through misapplied human will, is overcome in Christ, so that harmony with God the Creator is now meaningfully obtained through the Cross that cancels and the resurrection which answers to the pure and undiluted power of God, then there is a freedom in unity and an individuality in grace which makes for genuine friendship, and a love for man which coming from the Almighty's own heart, seeks to deliver rather than co-suppurate in the wilds of the torment of frozen spirit, heated mind and stricken soul.
We all fail at times; and there is need to be helpful in case some one can be delivered, while at the same time bearing in mind the fate of lambs while wolfish teeth are just a little under sheep's clothing, the excess of wool perhaps covering the aperture sufficiently not to let the teeth be too visible.
Zeal, then, to cleanse is good; and so is meekness; and so is due care; and so is restraint; and so is self-control; and so is charity; and so is patience, and accuracy, and goodwill; and so is wise provision to protect the lambs from unduly woolly wolves, and so is obedience in the end to the categorical directives of the word of God, the Bible. Love does not chafe at truth, but ensures it is so.
In the end, there are modes and nodes, and the eventual outcome in such cases has to proceed, not too fast, not too slowly, but with deliberate care and conscious love such that one is hoping even in the surgery, for a better result, and desiring strongly that one may prove successful, not in some lawyer's parade, but in delivering the fallen while one may.
A recent book, Lemon! by Tony Davis, is a fair illustration of this, as he seeks to assemble ill-thought out, misconceived, misconstructed, inadequately integrated, sub-facility products of the automotive world, not without humour.
See for example, Wake ... Ch. 6, Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 13, SMR pp. 252 Hff., 252 Aff., 234ff., 226ff., 157ff., 108ff.
See News 57, 59, TMR Chs. 1,8, SMR Ch.3, and pp. 159, 315B-316A, 137, 1-50, Repent or Perish Ch. 7, End-note 2, 4; A Spiritual Potpourri 16, 4 Section 4 Wake Up World! Your Creator is Coming Chs. 2, 4, 5, 6; Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 2 (the historical trends, the tedium and the non Te Deum of nescient naturalism) , Chs. 3 - 4 (the last with much much in free verse, cf. ASP Ch. 9); Defining Drama Ch. 10 (and smuggling in gods); Sparkling Life ... Ch. 8, CASCADE ... 3 - and I Timothy 6:20; Earth Spasm ... Ch. 7
This symbolises it, just as it had a preliminary symbol in the earlier devastation of Jerusalem, set in terms of intense lament in the tender heart of the prophetic Jeremiah, who predicting as he exhorted, that it would occur, though offering many opportunities of escape which were ignored (cf. Jeremiah 17). The Lamentations of Jeremiah are themselves a portent of the evil work done on Christ, who came to bear sin for the repentant recipients of his ransoming remedy
(cf. AQ 4, Part 6,
TTT 9 p. 114ff.,
DIAMOND 11 ).
God COULD simply mysteriously take what He wants. That He does not do this, nor does He imperiously grab His desire, like some Eastern potentate is part of His glorious holiness, which does not seek its own. His desire towards all, of which any father has some intimation, being made in the image of God, and showing some signs of it despite sin, is not a mockery of His strength, but an attestation of His merciful love and its outthrust which led to the thrusting out of Christ into this world (John 3:17).
This, it was NOT to condemn the world, but that it might be saved; but IF there are any who are so bold as to call it bluff, or to recall their mind from such an open door, as if it were a pretext, a superficial presentation that fails to coincide with fact, an illusion of virtual propaganda, then this but illustrates what the Lord has known. He foreknows, He who from all eternity has in mind and knowledge, the foreknowledge not merely of works but here to the point, of their hearts, does not err. If His love is slandered, yet it is violated only in image, even should it be traduced into mere invigilating traction, as if not love but indirect force were the criterion. If they are to come, it is in love, from love, and fulfils love, and far removed from what would constitute anomalies of force, not grace.
God does not fill His word with such numerous appeals and laments, at loss, patience and entreaty in order to fulfil an internal constraint for Himself, but rather to give outlet to the grace of lovingkindness. God so loved that He acted. It was not for another thrust of conquest, or complement. When He so loved, He gave; it was not to get, but to give gain to man, even eternal life and not judgment.
To aver otherwise is a distortion which in words repeatedly as in deed, He denies. Alas, when some speak wrongly of God, they may deter others; but ultimately, when any man is in final rearguard from God, as known before the fall and in Spirit by his Maker, or any group, then lost they are and remain. God knows beyond the flesh, beyond the works of man, and acts beyond it; but He acts with a divine knowledge which declares: LOSS ? It is NOT that God did not so love but that man in those cases DID prefer darkness to light. That is His statement. It not only makes all scripture comprehensible when followed in this theme, but solves the riddles of human philosophy in their relevant sites, as if they were mere trifles.
What then of the lost, those at length as from the first known to be lost ? Love mourns for them; but it does not descend to pollution, either to make of itself a self-fulfilment or of what it loves, in quality, a grasping and not a response. It loves; it loses; it grieves; it does not compromise love into force, mystical or other. It knows response even when response does not know itself: for God is without limit, omniscient, but man alas through sin can scarcely know himself!
None and nothing is lost. The Lord KNOWS who are His, not by mysterious contrivances, but because His STATED condemnation being this, that they preferred darkness, this is the case, and predestination, illustration in practice of foreknowledge (as in Romans 8:29ff.) merely sets what is known. It is STATEDLY NOT that He wanted to condemn them, NOT that He came to condemn but to save the world. That is the position in thrust: not to condemn, He came, but that the world MIGHT BE SAVED.
He saves His own, too deep in sin to realise of themselves what only He can show; but in a mould which is immeasurably removed from mere invasion He knows who are His own (II Timothy 2:19): hence the Father's laments and exhortations, appeals and remonstrations, pities and repeated invitations. These express the divine reality, for knowledge does not dethrone love. Love is like that. When however what is foreknown, is historically shown, or when the case is exhibited to the wisdom that God shows, then the hatred of sin becomes the condition of the renegade, and foreknown always, the condition of its soul.
Why is it seemingly not possible for some to keep to what is written on EVERY FEATURE in these matters, but to insist on Arminian atrocities or Calvinist extremes! (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 1, SMR Appendix B). Alas, it is all not merely written and that repeatedly and clearly, but perfectly harmonious, and more than this: it provides the ONLY resolution of the meaning of man that is possible. This ? it is the revelation of the GOD who knows beyond man's sinful limitations and variable gifts and opportunities, and GIVES beyond the imposition of man's sinful self which obscures reality systematically and limits results to itself. In this way, it would become its own criterion and so not a freedom at all, and not a responsibility, merely a code for doom, or a differentiation for glorying in a self not glorious.
So knowing, God liberates what is therefore to be liberated, and so overcomes both the obliteration of liberty, and the adulteration of love. He does it; but He does it in knowledge of truth and in a love which is as broad as the earth, yes and the heavens themselves (Colossians 1:19, II Timothy 2). The imagination that this is contrary to grace is disgrace, for the liberation is beyond the self, at the wisdom of God; and where no sin is strangling the soul, no differentiation between degrees of sin is relevant. God is not limited as man is; nor is man sovereign as God is. Pre-fall, where God chooses, there is no differentiation within sin, in the realms of failure, for there is no sin. God knows before time, beyond man; but WHAT He knows is who are His own, chosen in love, in reciprocities discernible in the divine.
Where thus His love does not reach, having no place, however much He mourn, He does not take. On the other hand, those granted grace in truth, however impervious in sin they might become in history, being foreknown are assured. Predestination merely implements foreknowledge, as foreknowledge love.
It is well at this point to provide from Message ... Ch. 9, *4, a further coverage on this point. In more general terms, see also Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace, Ch. 7 and Ch. 9, and those listed immediately below. On the wonderful harmony available to overcome divisions and schisms, in this and other spiritual sites, when the Bible is carefully followed in all its intimations, see BAY OF RETRACTABLE ISLANDS. On the topic in this Excursion, see in particular Island 1.
EXCERPT FROM MESSAGE ... Ch. 9
This has been expanded slightly for our present purpose.
EXCURSION ON LOVE, LIBERTY, TRUTH AND MAN AS MAN
See especially, The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4, and To Know God, the Power of Christ’s Resurrection and the Fellowship of His Sufferings Ch. 1.
This is the FINAL MESSAGE FOR THIS VOLUME
"Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel:
'Thus you say,
"If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us,
and we pine away in them, how can we then live?" ’
"Say to them:
‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,
but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
Turn, turn from your evil ways!
For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:10-11).
Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation
to the ends of the earth’ " Isaiah 49:6, cf. Luke 2:31.
Such is the love of God toward man (Titus 2). It is undifferentiable in scope, foreknown in result, citable in its end or in its thrust of desire, chaste in its holiness, choice in its purity, certain in its results, immutable in its beauty,
Irremediable, pariah of the hospital ? Is this then the solemnity of spiritual pathology ? Not at all. Love is far greater, mercy far more incandescent than that. This is a case instead of death by choice! It is the sought but abortive sinner who secures this hanging of such a sign! (John 3:19). Just as God knows the result, so He leaves nothing undone to avoid it, even SO loving the world that He came into it, that whoever believes in Him should be saved. Judgment ? Not at all the aim, He discloses, but that the world might be saved (John 3:17).
How entirely transporting is it that there is no need for the fatal sign! God WOULD HAVE ALL to repent (I Timothy 2), and if you are someone, and outside Him, it is time to become someone else, the saved version of your individual self (John 3, Titus 2-3, Romans 3:23ff.; 5; 8). Here you can see it and have it, a NEW CREATION (II Corinthians 5:17ff.).
This too shows with emphasis on deity Himself, Man as Man.
Of great interest is the fact that of necessity, ONLY in the Bible do you have the resolution of the predestination and freewill, the determinism and the voluntarism, the sovereignty and responsibility conflicts of philosophy. This is because in this book alone, there is a sovereign God who can control as He will, who has made man as He will, who has given to man a meaningful responsibility in allegiance or lack of it to the meaning, issuance and character of his life which, while not deleting its generic character, makes for culmination or disruption.
Here also is there the love which is not interested merely in self-serving will on the part of the sovereignty, or mere impulsion on the part of the direction taken towards and those brought to salvation. Here you have the only real choice, that of a different life, for a given life has its own parameters, and even given opportunity, may fail from pathological blindness even to be able to appreciate it (cf. Matthew 13:15ff.), and is bound to its own parameters.
Thus here there is indeed the occlusion of sin, which blinds, but the eye of God which sees, and is not limited by the sinful obscurations of the fallen creation, man, just as He is not merely seeking His own will by compulsion for His gratification. Love seeks the lost. As lost, they are not attractive (Romans 5:8ff.). Thus while HE chooses His people, HE also desires all, and so desiring, secures what is His, those who come, without disturbance of the reality of the image-of-God status of man. Man is not superior who comes, since sin blinded him and his will was inoperative (John 1:12, Ephesians 4:17-19, I Corinthians 2:14). God is superior who calls, and He knows who are His, past the incidentals of particular sins and the obscurations of flesh, seeing all, even He to whom all is manifest (Hebrews 4). In so selecting, He neither forces nor allows comparative graces to be relevant. In His image is man, and as in His image His place is sought, and where gained, is given (as Proverbs 1 so dramatically illustrates, and Luke 19:42ff. so categorically indicates).
Thus it is GOD who does it, and MAN who is the subject, not a mere object. There is no room either for boasting by man, nor aboration of love in God, neither for its pollution in power nor its frustration in weakness. It achieves what is fitting, and it does it in its own integrity; indeed God who is love (I John 4), so that nothing contrary to this is to be found in His ultimate motivation, does it. It is all HIS work.
Thus is man given that freedom which is ultimate, by the operation of Him who is ultimate, dealing with the penultimate personality of man with knowledge, not mere will. Indeed, this means that God may be grieved by man, and for him, but man being so understood, and THUS so placed, is indeed responsible, so that no one may inhabit hell without if you will, having to tread over Christ's dead body to get there (Colossians 1:19ff., John 3:19). It is no deficiency of love on the part of God, but the reality of man's liberty which is in view. NOTHING which savours of propulsion, compulsion, programming could ever make man's love of God be real. It would always be a militant substitute for love, a programmatic substitute at some point. That God gains some and none fail to find Him, who are His, nor is any lost except through the utter and ultimate departure from the seeking God of free grace and salvation: this is the marvel.
It is a fact, but it is also a logically cohesive fact, without antinomy or antilogy of any kind, nor has this world its logical equal. That is precisely why secular philosophy is ALWAYS bogged down in this issue. Given air is necessary, it is like saying this: How can I have breathing without air or its equivalent ? The answer is: Don't waste your time trying. Get air. The correlative of air in this case is the Gospel.
Liberty and love thus are wed, responsibility and realisation are friends, compulsion is never substitute for comradeship, whether artificed or finessed. Reality rules, and God being the ultimate reality, the everlasting personal Being, in His rule, justifies His own claim, that He is love, light, truth and filled with everlasting lovingkindness. It even reaches as far as never compromising truth, with people or events, with propositions or principles, procedures or peace. Peace is intrinsic, since it is for sinners like man, the result of truth in mercy and love in liberty.
Nor is this all. God not only STATES His heart in this crucial aspect of man's salvation and the extent and NATURE of His love, not based on merit or lustre or achievement, but in its purest and original character, on its own divine desire for good and kindness and eternity for mankind as in Titus 2:13ff.. Statement is the beginning (as in Genesis 3:15). The Lord God also ACTED. Nor was His action limited to that of sending some worker to do good. He CAME (as in Ezekiel 34, Hosea 13:14, Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 45, Psalm 2, 40, He said He would).
Nor was this in any aspect like a presidential visit. There was no acclaim pre-arranged, nor was there any stooping from the chariots of power. He came in such a way that He Himself had to endure what man endures; even to the humblest beginnings, and the most agonising exit from this earth. He did not even condemn the adulteress in the public forum, though He delivered her and directed her clearly enough. His office was to give, and at times, He gave correction to the mighty (Matthew 23), and often help to the helpless. He gave Himself. That is what love is about, not merely acting at a distance but being involved as required.
Not only that, He gave Himself not in a path which reaped reward in securing the most glorious of humans, the most attractive, but those who were renegades with the rest, those deeply fallen along with those drawn before such had overtaken them. He made it clear explicitly that God loved the WORLD but those whom He did not take were exponents of preference. They preferred darkness (John 3:19). He WOULD have liked to have Jerusalem repent and continue, BUT THEY WOULD NOT! (Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff.). His death covered in extent of offer and sincerity of grace ANY who would come, and while the take related to His Father's will, it was also to His own (John 6:62, Matthew 11:27). It was not His will that any of the little ones, for example, should perish (Matthew 18:14): such was not a select purpose of the Father.
The closed eyes (Matthew 13:15) were responsible for the lost sight. They were closed because they did not RECEIVE the love of the truth (II Thessalonians 2:10). What God has said in conjunction with what the Lord has done means this. His love would (as in Ezekiel 33:11) save the wicked (cf. Isaiah 55). He exhorts, He entreats and in the last resort, He exposes the judgment of truth on unforsaken, uncovered sin (Proverbs 1, 8), as well as the felicity of faith in Him, to take His gift. He acts to PRESENT the cover, even to those who resent it. He dies to make life available from the uttermost to the uttermost, in sincerity, in demonstrated integrity of its depth and purity; and He arises from death as foretold both as to timing (3 days, as repeatedly foretold) and date (as in Daniel cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), making asses of Rome and Jewish authorities, who cannot so much as present the body they found it expedient for safety, to kill.
Meanwhile His Church arose in the very place of so many of His miracles of grace, kindness, mercy, healing, testimony and action, which had seen Him and could see with their eyes the truth of His life and His power over death as all else: in Jerusalem (Acts 2-6).
Hence what He has said in word concerning His entreaties and willingness, and what He has done at Calvary, in cover as large and as late as the thief ON the cross, or the lunatic from the tombs, gives verified expression to His heart. Since this is His desire, and all power and wisdom is His capacity, and this is the EXTENT of His desire, shown practically in the cover of the Cross offered to man (I John 2:1ff.), as wide as humanity, though the payment is as little as for those who come to take it, as deep as death, and since the selection work on this basis has been done FOR man BEFORE the foundation of this world (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.), as sure as the life of God: then there is here found the only offered, sustained, verified and vindicated way for man to have liberty, to find truth.
God is back of it. Action is at the front of it. Statement and action confer in it. A different life is the result of it. It does not depend on the sinful occlusions which distort, but on God whose will is known and this includes avoiding force and ignorance as criteria (as in John 15:22ff.). IF they had not heard His words or seen His action they "would not have sin", He said. Since they had both heard and seen and had rejected it, then "they have no excuse for their sin". In some way to HIS satisfaction, exclusion from salvation for anyone is not by lack of love, of spread of it, depth of it, of concern, nor is it in any failure in coming, in action, in presentation, in desire, but in persistent, informed preference, be its mode what it will. Treatment of man in His image proceeds with that restraint which love has. Love never forces; for if it did, it would change its character and not even BE love!
Thus man as man is here given unautocratic, undespotic, unforced, deep and abiding meaning not as a controlled unit, be it by sin or other, but as a divinely sought person, with ample facilities past all the conditions inner and outer of his life, which might make a foregone conclusion of eternity. Here and here only is this to be found, and as history is so largely spent, in the life of this world, only in the Biblical Christ, the Lord's Christ does man come to fruition, his liberty sustained even in the constraints of sin and his God his lover and seeker.
Without these pre-conditions man can at best start to realise what he is, and being in sin, this is occlusion. This glorious collusion of charity and clarity in the mind of God Himself, and profusion of grace and love toward man brings not merely the only STATED way for man to have freedom, to be what God made him to be without systematic loss and exclusion, to be meaningful, but the only VERIFIED one; and in fact, it is the only one in existence logically.
Hence we rejoice that there is a way, that it is only one, that it is clear, that it is practical and that there is no excuse for man. What man misses through the lack of missionaries, or access by them, God does not miss. This no more makes missionaries unnecessary than does air make oxygen needless. Love does not falter because of fail-safes, but acts because of WHAT IT IS. If it does not, it is not there!
Christians were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), so that eternity does NOT depend on circumstances alone, but on a knowledge both above, before and beyond time. In this way, we do not have the oddities of 51% pass rate making all the difference for those who want to impress God with works, a defiling enormity, nor the X-factor which APPEALS to God in those who ignore the Bible to the extent that they make almost hideous caricature of the love of God, as if He did not SO love the WORLD and desire that none should perish, yes in heaven or on earth (Colossians 1:19ff.), as Spurgeon also attested (A Time to Praise God, Appendix I).
Rather, from the Bible, we have the love of God
whose heart churned at the
tragic result even for autonomous Moab (Jeremiah 48:36),
whose affirmation reaches
like a net over the wicked with beautiful longing,
who - as in Matthew 23:37ff., Luke
19:42ff. - wept at the results of
In this, while He is seen as sovereign over obfuscation and unchanged by rejection by any, it is also stressed that this negative response by man is something vastly and categorically undesired by Him; for judgment according to truth becomes inevitable when mercy is manoeuvred away by this His creation, a divinely deplored negation even in the face of Him who went the whole way to the Cross in His kindness toward man as in Titus 2, the offer being to all the world (I John 2:1-2).
Thus NOT ONLY is there a whole series of domains in man to which God in His word addresses Himself with precision and patience, with word and deed, with love and appeal, but there is at the side of salvation, the provision for that relationship to God which is to be sought and expected when the Creator is acknowledged, just that coverage which is elemental, universal and yet not compulsive. What man is and what God has done for him match like bars in a tartan of select quality and amazing beauty.
There is no limit to the testimony to truth, at the levels biological, physiological, psychological, moral and spiritual, from the divine to the human empirically, logically, testimonially, in exhibits for the mind in words, and for the eyes in deeds. There is no limit to the responsibility of man, or to the felicity of being saved by the God of creation.
All this is its own testimony, added to the inexhaustible supply of verification, confirmation, attestation and cogency in Jesus Christ, the Rock of man's salvation, however many may slip from its sides, never mounting it, or move from its strength, leaving it undesired.
What is the Wheat to the Chaff Ch. 4 (A),
Deity and Design ... Ch. 10, esp. *1
Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will
*2, will and meritless operation;
Ch. 2 (selections);
The Pride of Life,
the Prince of Life and the Destiny of Man Ch.
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 11, esp. pp.172ff.;
Great Expectations, Great Enervations and Greater Grace
His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 4 (also contrasted with Islamic deficiencies);
Sparkling Life ... Ch. 7,
Earth Spasm, Conscience Chasm and the Renewal of Life Ch. 6;
Scaling the Heights, Scanning the Depths, Spanning the Breadth:
Jesus Christ the Answer Ch. 5;
Gratitude for His Glorious Grace App;
Downfall from Defamation ... Ch. 3.
It is indeed part of the majesty and glory of God that He solves the questions that vex the minds of men by His own reality, neither grasping nor manipulable, neither yielding truth nor compromising peace, neither fierce in expectation nor lax in love, neither failing to love all in heart, nor ceasing to discipline any requiring it, neither adjusting the truth to desire, nor indulging desire to distort love, neither disguising the end of disobedience nor deterring the onset of final justice, yet delighting in mercy, sovereign in His Gospel, impervious in His grace which admits of no substitute in salvation, at any point or in any part, glorious in holiness, effectual in the consummation of His love without violence, worthy of worship, who makes His servants a flame, and gives His Spirit to His children.
The mountains of separation are derivative from the malingering mind of man and his misfashioning will, and it is vain for man to seek to impose on the heart of the Almighty, the folly of his own malfeasance, taking what is created as if it were the seal of authority over all things, and imputing to God an unholy reluctance, when, though his heart is obscured by sin, it is ultimately his own.