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CHAPTER 7

THE HARMONY OF HAPPY PAUL
IN THE MIDST OF THE PASSIONS OF THIS SINKING WORLD -

and what it attests

Communication for Corinth, and for us All

News 337

The Advertiser, January 25, 2005

 

I

Introduction

Currently the Kyoto Protocol (you could almost call it the Kyoto Canons) is merely one sort of caution. The fact, reported in The Advertiser, that the earth is little more than  "just one degree from climate catastrophe", is another.  "Meeting The Climate Challenge" is the name of a report compiled by the Institute for Public Policy Research  in Britain, the Centre for American Progress in the United States and The Australia Institute. In its view, the case is this. If the temperature rise is over 2 degrees C above the average world temperature of 1750, before the industrial revolution, there could be a point of no return. Such items as widespread drought, water shortages, crop failure are then likely.  The rise already being 0.8 degrees, there is, on this view, just 1.2 degrees left for the activation of this cumulative result, one not ready to be reversed.

This is the source of much world disharmony, for not all are willing to act, less action seems forthcoming than desirable, and the terminal dynamics seem to be faced with the eagerness of sick man, for his good. It is also the result of much world conflict, which requires resources for war, lust and greed, convenience and disregard of the critical stringencies of ordinary life in a produced system. Its combination with radioactive escalation potential is almost comic, as if wild school children were on some witless spree.

What is needed is harmony; and what is needed for that is knowledge of the Producer's requirements psychologically, morally, spiritually and socially, and for that His word, and in that, His Redeemer, and with all this repentance and faith, as His will being found, His world and the people He has made, can find in Him the resource required, and the renewal of that critical resource called man! What is not found is this harmony, and the reason is that the holiness needed to act  on this globe and in personal life with wisdom, is not desired.

All kinds of substitutes are found and pursued with passion (cf. ERRORS, Red Heart, Dead Heart and Pure Heart Ch. 6 The Biblical Workman Ch. 4, Trust ... Ch. 5, News 122, 121, Acme ... Ch. 9) ; as if a house were burning and the people in it were frowning and quarrelling about who caused it, and who will act first top to try to put it out, as if there were neither Fire Brigade nor any water.

All of these things are mere palliatives, not facing the issue, which is man and his ways, before the Maker of the system and of himself, and hence in their very erratic irrelevance and devious and various desires, they become fuels for conflagration.

 

II  

CORINTH, COMMUNICATION
AND THE CHALLENGE OF PERSONAL RESOURCE

IT WOULD BE USEFUL TO CONSIDER AN EARLIER TIME WHEN CRUCIAL CHALLENGES WERE MET, SO THAT WE MAY PONDER THE PATH WHICH IS CURRENTLY FOR MANY, SIMPLY OUT OF BOUNDS.

Consider Paul in personal and pastoral challenges with those of Corinth. They all mounted to the skies like great oceanic swells; but the answer was surer than the problem. This will introduce us not to the mere scenario of evil, but to the pathway of peace, with power and purity, where it is to be found.

Paul knew what it was to be faced with passions and perils, questions and needs, crises and challenges, but he knew one thing more: God through His gift of grace and wisdom, operating on the ground of  total regeneration in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer (Galatians 1).

Hence Paul is filled with reality. To be sure, on occasion, he can be almost despairing of life (II Cor. 1:9) so much as continuing at all in this mortal coil; but then in prevailing prayer with the Lord, whose comfort the apostle knows so well, and finding what he sought, he can not only rejoice that the GOD OF ALL COMFORT delivered him from the prevailing pressures of incontinent seeming events. He can gain benefit from this; for he even set himself to bring from that comfort, aid and renewal to those who are also afflicted, through that self-same Source, available to them as it was to them (II Cor. 1:6). God comforts him, and he with the love of God uses this grand event to succour others. Is it comfort ? there it is to those who similarly seek the Lord.

He has the answer, resident within, having become redeemer outside, on time when sent as predicted (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4). THIS, it is enough; for a mechanic can help a car, but the manufacturer's specifications plus his on site specialist, this is pure joy! Christ is that on site specialist. Since HIS is to GIVE, His people are concerned give aid through His gifts, to others willing to go to the same fountain, source and all-knowing God.

Accordingly, instead of evil stirring to bring itself to others as well, here in the experience of the apostle, good is used as a resource to share; and it is a far better thing to do this, than to litter the earth with the spawn of spiritual evil, conceived in selfishness, produced in lusts and applied in depravity. Both the body, mind and spirit of man, and his environment, these virtually shriek at the hostilities of desire, as the heritage both personal and physical is spoiled; and if nowadays the Kyoto protocol demands attention, and one expert claims we are within little more than one further degree of overall global warming, before an irreversible process sets in, it is all one in this.

Moreover, it is merely one phase of the future as foretold by Christ on His first visit to this earth, concerning the time before His culminating coming, when the mists of illusion are dismissed like cranky kids from a school, and His reign is realised as directly as His crucifixion, both predicted from a millenia before He came (cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25). The future, now coming to be the present, was that the earth would become so littered with illicit licence that UNLESS Christ returned, HUMAN LIFE COULD NOT CONTINUE (Matthew 24:21-22)! This is one of the indices not only of His accuracy as always without exception, but of man's plight as he piles wood on the fires of devastation.

There are limits to the follies of contempt, indifference, exploitation at the psychological, physiological, physical and elemental levels in our lives, as in any product, and this world itself is another phase of the entire production created in its day; and although our spirits may soar - to God, or dash to plod or sod, there is a payment that is to come, for misuse; and if that of Christ is despised, then payment it stays.

The limits visible do indeed command attention; but it is those which are invisible which are crucial, and which produce the conditions which in due course become visible, crucial and even catastrophic.

Life is a battle! says someone in sporting commentary, in a way seeming to reflect an imagining that the ultimate is conflict, as if fighting made what fights or experiencing made what is capable of having experience, as if driving made cars or drinking made beer! Life may indeed be involved in a battle, just as a four-wheel drive in the desert may face many challenges; but these, they by no means make the land-rover, they merely test it out... nor do they indicate its proper course, or line, but only items on the way. This you find from the Maker of persons, of which you are one whom He has formed.

Paul welcomes test, just as God not only welcomes but challenges people to make TEST of His words (Isaiah 41,43-45, 48), showing in terms of actualities, that NOTHING and NO ONE can or does provide the detailed short and long range forecasts based on knowledge and fulfilled in resolute security, that He does. This is so and in Pitter ... Ch. 4, as in SMR Chs. 8-9 esp. with p. 973A,  we give attention to this fact. Indeed, it is inevitable in any substantial survey of the Bible, that many chapters of our 99 books on this site should be either devoted to, or amply involved in pointing out the detail of these practical and verifiable realities.

Test is good when you are authentic, for what is to be disclosed but the authenticity ? Thus, when someone picks up some minor sin, where a Christian, losing his temper or making a foolish choice, errs, this does not unduly discolour the happiness of heart; for where the sin came from, the evil, it is beaten, and the heart and character and normal practice is not altered by the anomalous error. Thus if your car becomes too hot, and you find you need the radiator cleaned, this is not an epic for pandemonium, but an opportunity to regulate with due attention, what needs attention, so that for long the vehicle may then endure without further trouble, being sustained for what it is, by what first is duly done to it.

What is a good tree may not look like it to the jaundiced eye of those who generalise from an instance; but it is so to those who consider its character and manner of living and producing fruit. It is not autonomous; but duly planted, and truly watered and fertilised, its stock is such that this is the way of it: it is a good tree and useless it is to note that only last year you had to descale red spot from it, by using some pesticide. Red spot can occur, but in a cared-for tree, need not stay; and having been removed, it exposes the fact that in many vicissitudes the tree meets test, and is a good one.

Test indeed is needful; for it is not only good to see what a creation can do, be it tree, book, play or man; it is also good to have it do it, for there was purpose in its production, and the exhibition therefore of its function meets the purpose. It can thus consummate the plan of its creation, and doing so freely exhibit the wonder and the wisdom of God, while enjoying His free fellowship;  but if it a person is merely sitting still in the shade, if you will, with feet up drinking lemonade, then what is the point of having ... it!

Paul himself is seen in II Cor. 6-7 as under test. As missionary at large, he founded churches, and in the case of the Corinthian one, he discovered not only some gross immorality which crept in, and needed drastic intervention, but a tendency for some to discount him as contemptible in presence (even if forceful in letters - I Cor. 10:10), and even to consider him a fool, in contrast perhaps with the weighty workings of some sect which had sought to take over the Church at Corinth, exploiting it with another Gospel, another Spirit and another Jesus Christ, all manufactured in the minds of man, drably copying the reality of the One who made history by authenticity as the Messiah, and using His very name for their own productions which were neither divine nor honest (II Cor. 10:12, 11:3-15).

It is the same now, for some would produce 'Christs' who

bullet WOULD NOT have all men to be saved, or
 
bullet DO NOT know from before all time who are theirs, or who
 
bullet DON'T MIND gross immorality, biblically defined,
and even would be happy with sexual perverts appearing in pulpits,
despite II Cor. 5-6, I Timothy 1:9-11 and Leviticus 20:13,
as if He had changed His mind about every jot and tittle of the Law being fulfilled,
though heaven and earth should pass (as they will - Matthew 5:17ff., 24:35), or
 
bullet had altered the plans on which man in His creation of him, had been based.

 

In fact, however, the removal of sin as sovereign, instead of making something novel, merely makes of man what first was created, except that instead of liberty to stay or go, he now has a donation of eternal life, being redeemed and freely in receipt of the gift of God (Romans 6:23, Colossians 3:10) firstly, as objective grant, eternal life, and then as dynamic presence in the person of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9, Colossians 1:27). It may come to the point that the testing of the saved soul will include a willingness, having been remade separately by God, to act in concert with those of like mind, and to separate from those who, while using the name 'Christian' do so with another Christ, who is none at all (II Cor. 11). What then ?

                                            III

TIDYING UP, TESTING

AND REALISING WHO IS TESTING WHOM!

As we saw in the last Chapter, the idea of separation requires not some unbelievably strong Christian conviction, for even a grain of faith moves mountains, if it is faith indeed (Mark 11:23ff.); and being on the sunny side of the Mountain of Separation, that is,  on the declared side of the will and word of God, thiws is not really strange IF YOU BELONG TO HIM; for how WOULD you tread where Judases spawn, or walk where His work is derided, or stay in the factory of philosophy, both deviously and dishonestly making new christs with new ideas and new words, untested, unauthenticated, not given prophetic prelude, or capable of prophetic forecast, now long verified and never more dramatically than NOW, in our own dissident generation of the dispossessed (cf. SMR pp. 611ff., 685-707, 1056-1088H, Generation of the Dispossessed, News 121-122).

It is good to test, as I Thessalonians 5:21-22 tells us: "Test all things: hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil."

It is good for you and for me to be tested, for our religion to be tested; and Christ was freely available both to men and the devil, to be tested, and in His life each test was 'bested' by Him because He was, as He remains, superior to all test, having all things in full measure, even the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form; and now He is glorified (John 3:34, Philippians 2, John 20:17ff., I Timothy 3:16). The test quest shows the best; but you need eyes with which to see it: and where prejudice, passion and self-serving self-aggrandisement, for one's own part, or that of one's family, clan, nation or race distorts, then for vision you can see double, without there being anything even singular about what you see! If pride blinds, vanity vitiates and arrogance distorts, yet for all that, however, the realities remain, like the aircraft which roars on, however badly one seeks to locate its place in the skies.

Despite all such glosses and systematic spiritual losses, the cross and conduct of Christ, His power and compassion, His agility and ability, His words and His ways are incomparable, unequalled, acting in the full glory of the only begotten Son of God, and using power to match, both verbal and therapeutic, doctrinal and decisive. These things we have often seen. Let us remind ourselves however of the presentation in Generation of the Dispossessed - especially here,  as in What is the Chaff to the Wheat Ch. 3, of some of these expositions and presentations.

The latter has the advantage of providing us with further references from within itself, while also carrying us to the two chapters, op. cit. Chs.    3 and    4, which consider these testimony in its systematic emplacement in the whole!

 

bullet

This is the Lineage of Christ Phase.

See SMR Ch. 6,

Christ the Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 8,

Repent or Perish Ch. 2 for example.

See also SMR Appendix C,

Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 2.

Thus the personal experience of God, and the Person who as God by prediction and detailed prophecy came to earth and by power did what was required to make a testimony unequalable in principle and invulnerable in practice: these meet in an intimacy of correlation which is its own field.

 

 

XI-XII

Turning now from the personal, and in particular the historical testimony of the Christ, 

bullet

that wonder of a subject enabling man to experience direct, 
the self-demonstrating objective reality
(cf.  TMR Ch. 5),

bullet

who also has become the self-revealing exhibit to man in his own terms:

we come to the criteria of the demonstrable word of God, the Bible, the sole authorised word from Him to mankind.

This matches and correlates with VIII above, but has the beauty of being His own diction, not the living of life on the part of an imperfect being, such as each of us is. As such it has its own intense and intensive contribution to method.

bullet

In method, then, here we come to

Sublimity for the Sublime
, in Scripture,

which in measure has already been noted, in terms of the just expectation
that if GOD is back of this book, if GOD is the Father uniquely of Christ,
from whom come adoption papers, if you will, for His brothers by their faith in His Gospel,
then there should be a majestic
and all but immeasurable might and lustre, superiority beyond mere calculation
in the exhibition of His power and wisdom, in the Book.


As already noted and often expounded on this site in detail,
this is precisely the case.

This phase is
more than mathematical measurements, and predictive flourish including dates and names:
it concerns the surpassing splendour of the totality.

Just as the walk of an athlete is not entirely
what displays his skill or power, nor yet his face, though both relate,
but rather the composite capacities
wrought for the purpose of his speciality,
so here it is not merely this or that aspect,
but the impression of the whole,
where features and facets, foci and powers
intermingle with the facility and naturalness of a family given to one aim, one purpose, one love, who love moreover each other.

Here that impression is of a sublimity which stops nowhere,
hates display, delights in teaching and opens up time and space,
heart and spirit as if a mere library item taken for loan.

(See for example,
Let God be God
Ch. 6,
The Christian Pilgrimage
Ch. 5 and
Highway of Hoiness as one whole. These aspects are almost pervasive on the site.)

bullet

One of these aspects includes what is called here the

Resonance Phase
.

This refers to the way in which one scripture presents a similar impact to another,  yet with all the reality of individuality, even though each comes from a different writer in a different period of history, or even culture. There is a certain intimacy of correlation, precisely as one would expect of a single author of incisive purpose and unitary mode!  

Answers to Questions Ch.  9, Light of Dawn ... 1; Pall of Smoke, Diamond of Joy Ch.  11 give numerous illustrations, and these may come in the form of verbal parallel, phrased ricochets, resumed expansions of concepts or prefigurings, as if a century merely was a pause before the 'lecturer' resumed, of  historical illustrations of principles or depiction of principles applicable to cases, so that foci on Christ that arise so frequently, may repeatedly be adumbrated by foreshadowings, with different degrees of directness (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 10). It is like a family, each member accustomed to the other, all in one purpose with one language and one insight into what is denied to all others!

Let us however resume now our more general dissertation on the majesty of the utterance, reflected in myriadfold manners in the writings.

Naturally, at this point, we are merely considering the phases in TYPE, of method. In this, both at the personal level and in the written one, there is just that supernal marvel which excites delight and stirs worship, being objectively beyond all that might be expected, but in the very level to which one might in general terms, have looked. What is found in the ricocheting verbal modes, is likewise seen in the connotational and principial exhibits.

Thus meaning comes into harmony with assertion, not contrariety, knowledge has its basis, truth its origin for man, order its genesis, brilliance of originality in the universe as in the mind of man, its security of causative conception, freedom its fabric; and the varied orders and liberties observable in man, and ready for realisation logically (cf. The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy), these gain their validity of source just as this matches their insistence in application. There is no need to seek to make one particle, one sort of personality, one dynamic, such as an elimination concept for an 'explanation' of an arrival requirement for all the brilliance and diversity of life.

All things lie bare in this light, and more you look in any corner, the more both simplicity and abundance of coverage are found. This is one of the characteristics of truth, both scientific and other, in its various fields.

In this respect, to use analogy, it is like a case in tennis, when you not only see the amazing score line, in verification of truth, reality, but witness the shots, their classic proportions, abundant brilliance and intelligent design, evocative of more than admiration, for here is a Champion indeed, come as man but so far surpassing him as to constitute the very standard and inspiration both!

FOR METHODOLOGICAL PHASE  XIII see below, next Chapter.

End of Extract.

 

 

bullet Paul then both tests (the Church at Corinth) and is tested (by some in the Church at Corinth) and deals with the matter with a mixture of grace and simplicity, the evidential testimony of truth and honesty, the work of God through him and the sufferings involved, his mission and commission and his self-crucifying course of godly action.

He cannot be tested and be found perfect, since no redeemed sinner is on this earth perfect (cf. Philippians 3:12-16, I John 1:7ff.!).

What is only from Him is not His equal; for how can the finite equal the infinite, or what is not perfected in righteousness of life, equal what is complete; or what is fallible and must be strengthened in Christ when it is weak, equal what is omnipotent; or what is given wisdom as needed on request, yet equal its source! (cf. John 8:58, I John 1:1 with Ephesians 4:4, Philippians 2, John 11:42, Isaiah 48:16 with I John 4:14 with Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 53, Colossians 1:15ff. with Isaiah 44:24, 45:5,12,18; Romans 8, I Peter 2, II Corinthians 12:9-10, and see The Bright Light and the Uncomprehending Darkness Ch. 10).

Nevertheless, while only God is God, and only Christ is His incarnated word, demonstrative of His authenticity as none else has been or could be, since what is, and what is not, is not, and that is it! yet His sheep do not roar or whinny! for they bleat, and His hand does not fail in keeping them, for it prevails; and His power is not lost to them, for it is present (Ephesians 1:19, II Corinthians 13:3-10), just as it was in Paul, as he prepared to come as an apostle to Corinth.

And why did he so plan, intend and propose ? In all questions, the purpose, the motivation and the desire is crucial to the nature of the action as also to the outcome. Quality is relates to quality out; and when it is the will of God that is in, then the outcome is blessed indeed.

Paul's motive ? It was once again for the Gospel's sake, in order to set things in order and have all things tested, so that what is authentic could endure unmolested by confusion, unpolluted by depravity, unalloyed by poisonous additives, becoming instead upright and functional, blessed and sanctified, with the very simplicity of the Gospel and the reality of the word of God, so attesting the Son of God who alone is Saviour, and the way of God which never changes.

It is now possible for us intelligently to review some main features and the chief flow of argument, in what Paul does in writing to Corinth, as seen in II Corinthians 10-13. This is a good pattern for testing one's own conduct, and a splendid example for the world in its wicked, whizzing attempts at re-wiring itself to its own confusion, instead of being sober, spiritual and working with the Maker, by His own Captain and Coach, who is also Saviour and Lord.

 

 IV

The Schema which Appears

 

Pleading with them to respond and be pure, consistent and spiritual, Paul appeals to and exhorts them,  as some of them seek to discredit or replace him. With what would they replace the apostle, these dissidents ? Perhaps it would be with what is more a salve to the itching ear or the obstinate heart; and to such discreditable opportunism the apostle presents a brake with various mutually augmenting considerations.

bullet

I) Though we WALK in the flesh, we do not WAR IN THE FLESH.
II Cor. 10:1-6
 

bullet

II) Paul's apostolic authority is not from self-commendation.
II Cor. 10:7-18
 

bullet

III) His concern is to deliver from the delusive ministrations of another gospel,
artificially concocted by imitation and limitation, not from God.
II Cor. 11:1-21
 

bullet

IV) If his word is to be taken, for all that, as the word of a 'fool', then being all things to all men,
he will speak in their milieu, so that they can be satisfied even where there is no need.
II Cor. 5-33
 

bullet

V) If revelations and the knowledge of God intimately is in view,
he has been signally equipped; but these things are more for those who boast, another breed,
Paul's data provided here merely as a glimpse,
to set to rest those who rove restlessly into such things.
I Cor. 12:1-6
 

bullet

VI) Discipline he receives, yes, and that from God, since such gifts
are not to be added to self-esteem,
but on the contrary, may lead to vanities;
whereas what is apparent is the due coin of conduct.
Hence with a 'thorn in the flesh' God has kept Paul awake and realistic, avoiding pride.
I Cor. 12:7-10

 

bullet

VII) His own apostolic actions toward Corinth lacked self-indulgence, for he did little to charge them,
mainly supplying ministry and ministrations!

|If this was a wrong, he asks them to forgive them, with superb irony!

It is of course true that in this world, especially in government circles it seems,
sometimes people are valued much because they are paid much,
and contractors or executives are 'hired' as the disgusting parlance goes,
with name and fame to gain wealth and grandeur, as if
a type of minor king, whereas much more with less prima donna status might be obtained
where humility and work, transparent honesty and simple integrity made its home.
I Cor. 12:11-13.
 

bullet

VIII) He comes in order to secure spiritual fruit, not to indulge himself or his ideas or his life style.

bullet

II Cor. 12:14-21
 

bullet

IX) THEY should examine themselves, and having tested him, test themselves.
II Cor. 13:1-5
 

bullet

X) The issues are beyond all, in God, and just as God has sent His Son to perform
the unitary act of salvation in all history,
so has He sent those who are endued
and made capable to help in the construction;
but this power is for edification, not destruction,
for the work that saves,
not the work that enslaves, far less destroys!
II Cor.13:6-10

In all this, Paul is an example of sincerity, testability, consistency, authority not for pride but for advance in godliness, and help in knowing the Lord and serving Him in spirit and with heart. He does not consider it wise to be selfish, or an additive to be spiritually minded, acting in the Lord by His own blessed concern.

 

V

An imaginary paraphrase of the thrust, in terms of sequence,
relative to our point of the apostle's happiness even in test,
because of divinely given authenticity, even in the midst of some turmoil.

 

Are you beginning to have doubts about the one who fathered you in the Gospel ? Let us then be tested, but be aware that though as ordinary men, equipped with flesh, our ways of working under contest and challenge, in the interests of the Gospel, these are not matters of flesh; for our weapons are spiritual (as shown in some detail in Ephesians 6). We are but men; but it is God who anoints and appoints, giving us the things needed for our task.

In fact, the call to the Gospel ministry and the power to do it are from God, and these things have nothing whatever to do with personal this or that; but instead they depend solely on God, the source, the sender and the One who provides both the personal equipment and the strength for the task so dear to His own heart.

In particular the indulgence being shown in Corinth to haughty, expensive, domineering interlopers, who merely mouth 'gospel' but do not preach it, move themselves in their own ways and become their own measurers, without means of testing authenticity except in this, that creating a new Gospel with the name of Jesus Christ, they are impure frauds, in fact ministers of Satan who is good at masquerading as an angel of light, since deceit and deception is in him and comes from him: this is a folly to be repented of.

Avoid this subterfuge and awake to your need, to what it is that I have come to present, and the Christ presented, and do not dabble with adventurers whose light is darkness, whose authority is vapid and whose verification is absent. There is but one Gospel, and one Christ; what then is this but an unspiritual pastiche!

Now if there is some kind of 'contest', it is all irrelevant for what God has done is the point, and whom He sends, this is evident; but if this is for their own reassurance, then into this for your sakes, let the thing be addressed.

Thus listed from this mind that serves the Lord, as God enables, are what might be stated of :

A)  personal background.

B) sufferings in the way that authenticity in love in a hostile world demands.

C) personal reception of divine revelation by which he was brought close to God,
but this not as a criterion,
rather a part of the call to serve Christ.

D) reception of divine discipline to keep me in usable shape as a spiritual athlete on divinely sent service

E) abundant signs, wonders and works which God has wrought through me, as an apostle, which are not reproducible, nor are they reproduced, being a result of the fact that God who sends IS God! What you might expect, you have received, yes and more in such evidences of divine power as God has acted through me.

F) self-support, since in love, the desire in the heart has been this: to be as slim a burden as possible, both to encourage you and to help your growth.

 

Let us pursue the point.

You want revelation ? that was given in supreme abundance to the converted sinner called now Paul. With it, there was discipline, lest in normal human weakness, pride made function distorted!

There has to be self-discipline in the work of another, and thus what charge was made ? Are Corinthians offended because no big-time manner was deployed, no physical arrogance or demanding appetite for worldly support ? If this restraint offends you at Corinth, please forgive!

In fact, my journey in view is for fruit, function and growth. This is not in disorder, self-indulgence or critical forays based on nothing; and since the equipment given by God is to enable growth and edification in the church, not to destroy, with this limit, the power of the risen Christ, whose crucifixion and resurrection alike are a superabundant display of divine authority and concern for man in the Gospel, this will be present for the task. It is not as man but in the grip of God, that any journey I may make to Corinth is to be made.

Therefore examine yourselves, for it is God who is at work, and the super-critical aspects can be mere cover for unbelief; yet there is hope for cleansing and correction, becoming in turn and in time authentication from God, which is what is being sought for a living and lively church, not in form but in function, usable by God.

Thus whether it be

bullet

call,
 

bullet

or revelation,
 

bullet

or sufferings,
 

bullet

or perseverance,
 

bullet

or an appalling list of gruelling difficulties and eminent perils,
 

bullet

or divine discipline RECEIVED,
 

bullet

or divine grace given,
 

bullet

or works wrought by God for all to see,
 

bullet

or concern for the removal of definably fraudulent teaching,
the exposure of false apostles merely using the fact
that human beings are being used for this gospel work,
to seize it as a hyena might seek to seize a corpse;
 

bullet

or the very nature of the objective gospel itself and its unchangeable source and site,
 

bullet

or the slim requirements made of the church as an apostle, for one's own support,
 

bullet

or the stringent spiritual needs for your growth and attestation as genuine;

 

bullet

and whether it be willingness to come and pursue in the very power of the risen Christ, the need,
even if it means grave disappointment to be suffered if a whole package of pollution
is diffusing its evil contents in what may be found on arrival as a polluted church:

it is all one.

That then is the sort of impact Paul is providing and the structured composition of realism which he caused them to face.

For the Christ and the Gospel he came; and for the same he will as he is enabled, come again, equipped not with mere personal features and characteristics, but with the power of Christ, for the purposes of Christ, for the purgation and purification of the milieu as the case may require.

Here then from the apostle Paul comes this experimental testimony for those who prefer to think in terms of scientific method, which has its place (cf. Index): and it is one of labour and love, of experience and overcoming, of challenge being met, of spiritual poise in the face of a combination of doctrinal and personal attack, of integrity in the midst of mud, of power in the perils that mount like waves to the skies, and of peace in the midst of arduous labour, physical and mental, of commitment where ingratitude looms.

This is what one would expect in such dimensions claimed; and it is most assuredly, PRECISELY WHAT ONE FINDS. Power without love; patience without discrimination; rigour without understanding; pep talks without grace; wanderings without correction; heady loftiness without redress; self-preoccupation without peace these are things you can find almost anywhere. It is here that the heat arises, of which the Kyoto specialty, the world's temperature gradient upwards, is merely one simple physical attestation. At war among the nations, is man in his rebellion from God; and the violence is showing even to the heavens.

The avoidance of the negatives present in racial paranoia, whether in peoples or their leaders, or indeed both as the race is made the pretended source of wisdom, while its follies produce amazement at its heedless and reckless presumption: this may be claimed, but not seen. The pit is avoided as if it at the end of a stainless steel shute! or as if it were in the midst of a passionate love affair. Such avoidance, if utilised by aircraft, would remove airplanes from the skies! If this is avoidance, then honey does not stick, and sugar does not cloy. What then should be done ?

Required  is what follows such an apostolic example (I Cor. 11:1).

That includes in spiritual composition

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the positive and effectual testimony of the combination of capacities, as in a DESIGN, which in the apostle, is restored to the divinely made design applied in the first instance (Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24),
 

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the power of God with the love,
 

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the eagerness for Him with the unction from Him,
 

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the self-control joined with the ardour,
 

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the patience with the activism,
 

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the self-testing with the wish that the church test itself,
the overall vision and the continuity of the awareness of the divine guidance
and the divine hand whether in discipline or direction, depth or kindness:

it is this divinely given spiritual life which is needed.

Man is a spiritual being (cf. Little Ch. 5, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9), and voiding this concept, he voids his own part, place and peace. Hence do the waters boil, and how hot is the flame man applies!

Rather is it in the demonstrated presence of the power of God as seen in Acts 9ff., sensed in the words given and applied in the consistent spiritual grace and strength from the Lord, such as the apostle found and USED from the day of his conversion: it is this which gives that attestation which confirms itself. God and man need to be in peace, in the world He made; and since this is as far from being so, as is the East from the West, the very terrestrial site itself is becoming slowly but with increasing pace, a scene of horror, holocaust, maritime disaster and passionate immersion, increasingly.

It is so whether in the estimated .8 million toll of the Hutu, or the explosive toll of Hussein, or the 6.5 million of Hitler for Jews only, or the 2 million in Cambodia, or the millions dead and dying from an Aids which moral licence helped spread: these are the litter on the littoral, and it is literal litter for man playing lord.

Are these figures already growing long past 10 million in the few examples simply selected, to be seen as statistics ? or as one in agony, one in anguish, another deprived of parents, more misused by ghouls who prey on the afflicted, one in torture, one beheaded, one with arms chopped off ... how can one continue. It is ONE BY ONE affliction, and the numbers comprise a horror which all the world could not contain in its suffering and its wild and devilish frenzies in massive numbers of cases.

The need is to forsake the arrogance of presumptuous autonomy, the wild spree of humanity hitting the skies in its arrogant thrust, and finding the ditch in its infamous pitch. It is instead to find the God of all comfort, rest the problems in Him, find therein the solutions, practising godliness, love, patience and self-control, and with wisdom from Him as source, to be following His creator's instructions, in the beauty of holiness, receiving help, work through the challenges and enjoying the answers of the Almighty.

Since this world has but little taste for such disciplined delight, and devoted co-partnership with the gracious and kind God, who has done all quite simply, wholly effectively; and because He in His biblical clarity, unchanging message and historical consistency is  yet rejected by the temporary and passing powers that be: then it is not surprising that  this self-same world is not winning a peace, a beauty or an order which it might on its own terms desire.

It is not willing to be having its own charters, conduct, and  motivations assessed in terms of the creation itself; and instead prefers to be ignoring its Maker and mentor, or making ones of its own as it goes awry, like a car with an imaginary steering wheel.

What however of those who for their part wish to follow Him in Christ Jesus, His divine visiting Champion and Redeemer ?

These in the kingdom of heaven pursue His course, each for His Lord and all in the the Lord's Church following not man but His word; and these await His return, for He came to go and is going to come; and this they do,  while doing good, working with patience and pursuing holiness in the fear of the Lord, with diligence and devotion (II Corinthians 7:1!).

This is the prescription which needs no alteration, founded on God, featured in Christ, applied by the Spirit of God, administered with peace and wrought with power. This, and not preoccupation with wrangling and tangling, with arrant aspirations and drastic desperations, this is the need. It does not vary, nor does the Lord, nor does the pattern and plan for man. Nor does His salvation, nor does its necessity (Galatians 1, I Corinthians 1, II Corinthians 6).

Millenia do not mangle it, nor do the years subdue.

What then is the message to be received from such authenticated action in the awe of the Lord ?

 

VI

THE MESSAGE RECEIVED,

APPLIED TO THE CHURCH
AND TO US AS PERSONS

This message may be seen as we consider the ingoing and ongoing, the income in spirit and the outgoing in work of the apostle. It comes as the DIZZY DASHES and HEADY CLASHES are seen in contrast to the BRILLIANT HARMONY of the INEVITABLE TRUTH; for in all the endeavour in that domain, there is intrinsic peace. In all the need of action, there is yet assurance; and in all the challenge, there is God, infinite and loving, at work with irresistible power. And this, it is used not to force 'faith' as if it were a toy, but to find from the lost those to be found, and to forge a church in the hearts of those who believe, so that it may be functional and spiritual, chaste and chosen, choice and constrained, endued with wisdom and given to godliness.

There, like a patch of green in a brown, dried land, it is available, its message clear, its waters sure (Psalm 1), because its life and trust is in Him (Proverbs 3:3-5); and where it is not, it is mere brown papered over and irrelevant to the issue, a sight which has no substance, except as a complication within ungodliness.

First, on the contrary, then  consider this phase of godly faith and action, with a little more concentration.

Paul  charges them at Corinth, at the end of his epistle accordingly, to become complete, to be of good comfort, to seek the holiness in which the harmony of truth is to be found and prized, to be peaceable in disposition, so that "the God of love and peace will be with you." Then he blesses them with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit, seeking that this should be for one as for all, in its trinitarian truth and holy balm.

Thus a now happy Paul, who having, as we see in II Cor. 1, having passed through a personal cleansing as his power and position had perhaps misled him into some degree of self-trust, so that he could become greatly harassed and troubled,  now is  delivered from this both by a change in his situation for service and a welling up of divine blessing. With this has come comfort and consolation in his heart, enabling him now to move to complete his task with joy and longsuffering, rejoicing in hope, joyful in trial, enabled in work, led of the Lord.

Thus for the Churches as for the Christian individuals, there is a message.

DO NO be afraid of test, but relish it; for it releases a divine power as necessary for you in your own station, to perform as needed for the work you are given to do.

DO NOT trust in yourself even a little, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do; but purging yourself of all self-preoccupation, BE diligent and conscientious, handling all things without fear or compromise in the strength that the Lord gives.

STAND up in test, speak up in challenge, and do not try to live down the errors you make, but rather overcoming them in the presence of the Lord Himself, show the victory which nothing can either dim or control, which is found to abound when you follow Him whom you serve, faithfully.

Churches must abandon ruthlessly, those preoccupations with the Smiths, the Joneses or the Browns, highly placed, of high income or profile or critical facility with the tongue, with people who seek to rule and to divide, with "contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish assertions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults". Instead,  moving with the Spirit of truth and the strength of love, discipline as needed, fearless of loss, determined for growth, not primarily in numbers, but in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18), act as they seem, and believe as they profess.

They must likewise treat those evil emanations from the theological families of disfaith (q.v.), which some in the church will surely seek to bring in, evil philosophies from false apostles which now as then, abound; and this all the more, as now,  like worms in the decaying carcasses of many bodies which are no longer alive, they crawl into the body of the church.

If you seek harmony in the inevitable truth, then live it, and do not leave it; and be contemptuous of compromise with what leaves the word of God written (cf. I Corinthians 2:9ff., SMR Appendix D). Rather, trusting personally in the Lord, and as a corporate Christian body, do not even consider what some may want in terms of debased and philosophically invented erraticisms, but feel free in faith to overcome all adventurism and to adventure rather with ardour in the service of the only Christ, the only authenticated Lord, the only verified Saviour, and to work with the only word, the Bible, which comes demonstrably from the God, who even went so far as to DO IT PERSONALLY and to come Himself (cf. Ezekiel 34, John 10).

Churches must thus be keen on missionary work, faithful in foundation, assured in biblical doctrine, active in attestation, fearless in testimony to State, to business, to neighbourhood, not intrusive, but not elusive, content in Christ and acting in His hallowed name. They need not be superior, for green grass is from soil and water and stock; but they need gallantly in this turmoil, to present the source of all where He may be found, not in the helpless heating of hotheaded preoccupations, but in the green sward by the still waters where those who are willing to be still and know God, may do so, and drink abundantly of the water of Jesus Christ's own gift, which once taken, ensures one will never thirst again.

When you have the source of all water within you, you do not thirst (John 4:14, 7:37).