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A STUDY IN SLUMP AND SPIRITUALITY
And a TONIC from the BIBLICAL TRUTH
II Timothy 3-4
ABC News Radio, September 11, 2005
Enlightenment Magazine March-May 2005
See also SMR pp. 661ff..
Outcasts, Impostors and Divine Imprint - II Timothy 3:1-9
In II Timothy 3:1-5, you see a spiritual X-ray of “the last days” before Christ returns, and its burden is what you now see: formalism, hypocrisy, self-centred hedonism, hatreds, sexual miscreancy and brutalities coupled with a despising of goodness; and even religious people will indulge their passions, ‘learning’ but never learning the truth. Many denominations now appear to be forsaking truth, pursuing popularity and convenience, and to be riddled with professional corruption. Their sins will “become manifest to all” (3:9), for indeed they will be “depraved and deprived of the truth” (3:8); and it is thus well to expose them, seeing their coming as a signal the end is near, in the whole context of a returned Israel, the Jews ruling Jerusalem and Gentile millions slain with them (Luke 21:24, Matthew 24, Revelation 6-8).
Fervour, Fables and Function - II Timothy 3:10 -17,4:4
The apostle is now able to give his life as a contrary to all this: its manner, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love and perseverance (3:10). More, so far from merely becoming bent or prostrate to the mere enjoyment of his lusts, he has stood upright, so that he has even been persecuted, in many towns or cities – in one, Lystra, he was stoned and left for dead – and he adds that IF you are living a godly life, it is CERTAIN that you will suffer persecution. Black does not bless white, when grey is excluded!
Despite the prediction that ungodly men, even impostors, are to become a rash, Timothy is to continue in what he has been faithfully taught, knowing that ALL scripture is inspired by God, God-breathed. You do not need to hunt: it is PROVIDED. The thing is to USE it and not LOSE it, to DO it and not RUE it, so that the man of God becomes well-equipped as a viable soldier, sure-footed, stable and steadfast.
Victory amid Vice - II Timothy 4:1-18
Paul challenges to an opposite example to the licentiousness and ill-spirited maladies foretold, before the face of that Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will examine living and dead at His coming and in His Kingdom. Preach, he exhorts, teach, exhort, rebuke, not giving up, but enduring with longsuffering: for the time will come, says Paul, when “they will not endure sound doctrine”. Instead, with their “itching ears”, they will heap up for themselves, preachers to reach or even preach and teach their lust-levels.
This helping their debasement – and precisely is this now being fulfilled! – they will turn their ears away from hearing truth, preferring the folly of mere fables: and this we see in the
litanies of organic evolution in its abysmal dreaming, as of
world government, the pretended cure for all ills, as it reaches ever new lows of morality, currently in the case against Annan’s son, with abundant evidence of discourses between father and son during the corruption. If proof does not appear evident, a staggering deal does!
Nor is this all.
Buddhism with its founder rejecting deity, to which one branch in their midst wishes
to elevate Buddha himself in an inglorious confusion, his foundations empty of explanation
of what is founded, a mere way of life in darkness, removing the very possibility
of truth and proclaiming this true: this has made a move.
Now in the National Geographic of November 2000 we see depicted a statue, a sitting statue of Buddha, to be sitting atop a 17 story building, a 500 foot construction, far larger than the Statue of Liberty, the figure a shroud and cover for a building complex, the statue itself uncovered from the elements, set above such things as prayer halls, museum, art. Further is to be found on this in Enlightenment Magazine, March-May 2005.
A mere reported 200 million dollars, spent amidst poverty: this is the fee for this construction, one with varied other statues of Buddha within, with preparations for his alleged future descent back from 'emptiness', even the man who did not believe in God (cf. SMR pp. 995-1026)! Yet a 'place' cannot be very empty if he is there, nor very void if it be a place! Nor is there holding place without God, nor hope in Him, by empty talk. He who made the world in brilliance, does not reside in vacant dreams, but where He states, and is to be found as He has shown for millenia, and exhibited in practical terms in Jesus Christ.
Thus Paul's prediction that they could not at the last days, endure sound doctrine, Christ's that then too there would be many false christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:24), both are fulfilled on all sides,
in churches once sound, now inventing their own moral and dogmatic teachings,
in promotion of Buddhism as empty of ground as is Communism,
which has had its little gods with their large cars, like Brezhnev,
and their empty exchequers, bringing them down to realm of bankruptcy.
Maker of empty fables, man now comes of age, and that age appears to be his dotage, as foretold in II Timothy 4:4. Living with fables, rusty with unrealism, conducting himself amorally, forsaking with his precious liberty, the love of God who provided it at the first, while binding himself with obliterative philosophies (cf. SMR Ch. 3, and SMR Ch. 5 by contrast), it is small wonder that mankind, unkind in increasing devotion to itself and its lusts of mind, spirit and flesh, is harrowed with helplessness, as it seeks witlessly to manipulate both the power of God in the atom, and the principles of God in wilfulness.
Indeed it is, if possible, even worse, in the fulfilment to the letter of Paul's predictions concerning the time before Christ returns, as planned from the first, and announced before He first came (Zechariah 12, 14, Isaiah 59, Malachi 3). Via evolutionary myths, empty words never verified, immersing itself in 'nature' ex-God, this wayward world builds other projects. In its endless temples, we see what the organic evolutionists make with their litanies of devotion no less, to this accursed globe, ignoring the clear salvation provided, making their peace with the things that are, not the Maker, teaching, preaching, lecturing, enforcing this froth even on the children, on whom its slime often settles unbecomingly, when the bubbles burst.
Such evolutionists too have their religion (cf. Evolution as Religion), the priests and preachers in nearly every university, TV station, radio network, in schools, colleges. Their sacrifices are those of their own souls, and of those who, continuing misled, follow them. This is a modern Moloch who devours children.
How vastly the erratic embolisms which clog the understanding of truth in the modern mind in millions of miseducated cultural relics, show a common antipathy to God! Thus just as the emptiness of the ideas about Buddha's place, and the vacuousness of the concepts of his residence from which to proceed back, with no God to sustain nor any basis to endue, are mesmerising many, so does a very parallel emptiness, coming from an opposite basis, but ending in a similar destiny, occur in the Western emphasis of many.
Accordingly, evolutionary motive power is never found, but comes from nothing, which presents its works just as much as one would expect from nothing – not at all, for the bankrupt pretence. Similarly, information moulding power for ongoing products of enhanced and advancing design, this too is never found in itself, but comes form the same source, nothing, and presents for us the same results before our experimental eyes: nothing. Indeed, Paul Davey*1 when at Adelaide University in the Physics chair, was interesting in nothing also, as a basis, for what as we saw, was in fact anything but nothing in the assumptions underlying! Indeed, it became effectively an apotheosis of nothing, which alas, not only has its arms tied, but no arms, and no place to be.
It all, this philosophic froth masquerading at times as science the better to devour you, once and for all in the end, comes to nothing. Its way is as fraught with nullity in language as in performance. Nothing is its name and nothing it does: it is one texture of self-deception, deceit or both, all of the paraphernalia, generalisations without even the particulars, 'principles' which enshrine the deity without acknowledgement, and somehow by having a descriptive name like that, can do ANYTHING, principles which do not create any universes before our eyes, or even any progressive information in terms of their vast powers.
Yet, mere mental tags, descriptions of what does not there evince itself, emblems of nullity, depictions of absence by verbal presence: they are to be there, in nothing, anyway.
Indeed, it is now just as it was in the day of Israel’s decline in antiquity! The words LYING VANITY occur in Psalm 31:6 (cf. Jonah 2:8), and the phrase is interesting concerning just such naturalistic evasions of truth (cf. Jeremiah 2:27). The term translated ‘vanity’ means emptiness, uselessness, froth, air, lightness and the term for ‘lying’ refers to the same, with the additive of deceit, untrustworthiness. Together they become a phrase of noble proportions, an indictment in two words, of the useless pretence and arrant pretension which has always gone with emptiness enthroned. In this, it resembles Churchill’s phrase of two words for Hitler, as that ‘bad man’.
It is all thus which will not come to the Creator, eternal in power, never missing in mentality, above all confusion, from whom all that comes has a basis both logical in validity, and scientific in verification *2.
IT IS NOT FOR NOTHING THAT THE HEBREW FOR IDOLS
CAN INDICATE VANITY, NOTHINGS
Nothing else has. Fairies leap upon the muck-heaps, like naughty children loving dirt, for it is too hilariously attractive to be left alone.
Mysteries in defiance of all logic are brought up, wrought up, and while reason may by alogisms aplenty be illicitly appealed to, yet they deny logic when they arrive, in this maestro work of the 20th - 21st. century, which puts a cap on the empty headed processes of mechanical-mad culture of the preceding century, which alas, did not happen to arrive either to its grand destinies, but became a testimony to pride and philosophic pretensions in rich mixture, making poverty for many. It is however not in pride of race, or genes, or gyrations of nobility assumed for man, that relief or rest, reality or a grand destiny is to be found, nor does anything act but what has acted, and finished, as God said (Genesis 1-2). His provisions at the first in creation, and at the last in salvation, do not alter (cf. Galatians 1:6-9). His is the key to all intelligence whether in the symbolic manipulations and orders in DNA or in the mind and spirit of man, whose grand gift of liberty becomes a lasso for his own neck, by misuse.
Small wonder Gould was so weary of Darwin's follies, his theoretical folies, that while he paid his respects, he could not avoid an utter derision of the gradualistic concept altogether (Wonderful Life …*2A), in the face of the abrupt attestations he reported; and in this, there was advance, but only to punctuated nothing. That, after all, is all you have when you ignore what is in fact there!
Nothing else has. Fairies leap upon the muck-heaps, like naughty children loving dirt, for it is too hilariously attractive to some, to be left alone. Mysteries in defiance of all logic are brought up, wrought up, and deny logic when they arrive, in this maestro work of the 20th - 21st. century, which puts a cap on the empty headed processes of mechanical-mad culture of the preceding century, which alas, did not happen to arrive either. Small wonder Gould was so weary of Darwin's follies, his theoretical folies, that while he paid his respects, he could not avoid an utter derision of the gradual concept altogether, and in this, there was advance, but only to nothing. That, after all, is all you have when you ignore what is in fact there!
It is really a cultural verification of the whole irrational urge and surge to dismiss God and take over His premises of creation, that it has even been formalised and apotheosed, this "nothing"! It is indeed, much ado about nothing!
In sad and useless sacrifices of truth, West and East in diverse ways, often join. Thus one famous search engine, data base company has been reported to have yielded a personal name to the ruthless, nature-loving regime ruling China, that one which hates Falun Gong and recklessly imprisons many of those who do not deny the spirit with which they reason and err, yes but rather seek freedom: one in which they might indeed seek God.
That name which the Western company yielded to Chinese authorities ? By report, it is that of someone using their commercial base to criticise on the Web, errors in approaches to liberty in China. Was Tiananmen mentioned ? Reported result: ten years in prison for him.
The reported plea of the company: We have to obey the laws of the country in which we work. Unfortunately, they do not seem to see any need to obey the rules of the created race in which they exist, to have regard for each other, let alone the God who made it. Christ did not obey the 'rules' of the Temple staff who cried for His murder, nor did Peter and John! (Mark 14:60-64, Acts 4-5). There are higher sanctities than those for one's own benefit, or that of one’s company, as God is higher than the earth.
It thus appears that here as often, business may sacrifice morality to continuity, even to the point of giving up man to the Communist regime, one without God, but with a philosophy which has sacrificed man already, yes, and that under Stalin, for example, by the millions.
Is this far better than denying Him direct ? Did not ancient Israel in profession accept Him, but in works deny Him! (cf. Isaiah 1, 3:14-15, 5:7).
In the last of these, we read of such an attitude as it once existed in ancient Israel:
"For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah his pleasant plant:
and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression;
for righteousness, but behold a cry."
Whether then, as Paul proclaims, it be to false doctrine of one kind or another, false christs or prophets here or there, "fables" - a word to be translated equally, deceits - a matter of finding truth unendurable (II Tim. 4): the people of these last days MUST turn aside; for so it was foretold. God foreknew the cultural vapors that would come, the mystic nothings which would be sitting in the hearts of many, the lying vanities that would seek shelter in human breasts. From the truth they therefore turn to whatever confused rigmarole, mythical machination or ideological dream that may appeal. So it was to be, so was it foretold; and so it has come.
Indeed, so it was in former times, in that other and preliminary exhibition of the folly of falling from the living God, as exhibited by Israel. In Deuteronomy, it is clear: You turned to what is NOT God, to gods newly come up, newboy gods, ones without basis, testimony of truth, verification or strength (cf. Isaiah 48). You kicked, you were unmindful of the rock which begat you! as Deuteronomy 32:18 has it. It is to this rock that Isaiah 51:1 invites return as it moves on to the declaration of the long fulfilled coming for redemption, of the Messiah, in Chs. 52-53.
This avoidance ? It is so like the modern flirtation with the irrational, based on rational thought, in a web of confusion quite good enough for Don Quixote, borne along on the winds of some idea/ideal, until windmills became fortresses; although there was nothing to it. Just so, is the case with all this morbid contemporary dreaming for domination over an earth to plunder for man, but using processes which do not act, on theories which do not find their verification: there is nothing to it. Moreover, all of this is in the face of a testimony in all points verified, and alone valid*2.
As was noted in dealing with Isaiah 64:4-5, here is the testimony to nothing doing in a vast scope, in marked contrast with the continual testimony of what the Lord can do, does and has done, according to His word! It is well to pursue this ancient testimony to truth, based on evidence, and to see the parallel to the present, for 'nature' does not change in the interim, nor does the sinful nature of the rebellious heart of man, set for inferno by intoxication with the rankly vapid and the ideationally vaporous, without help from reason, or word from the lab. Hence we cite from the volume, On Biblical Translations ..., below, extending as our present case requires.
The verses, in Isaiah 64, are these:
"And from eternity, they have not heard, they have not given ear,
nor has eye seen a God beside You, who works for the one who waits for Him.
"You have met with the one rejoicing and executing righteousness.
In Your ways they remember You.
"Look, You have been wrathful, and we have sinned: in those ways is eternity, and we shall be saved."
A God beside Him ? Such is not to be met, it has never been found, from eternity to eternity (as in Psalm 90:1-2): HE ALONE is God. It is HIS WAYS which are everlasting and HENCE NONE has ever found, ear has not heard, nor eye seen, any besides Him, no, no deity, for they lack, eternity does not know them, nor does temporality find them, for they do not act, since they are not there. Nothing is impotent. It does not show itself, for the very simple and good reason, that it has NOTHING to show. God does show Himself, and we ourselves are part of the show (Psalm 100), His words to us, and their fulfilment, another part, and reason a third, while a fourth is His power in lives committed to Him, in acts of mercy, grace and deliverance, but in the complexion of peace and charity, which all continue as always, when the path chosen is the one proclaimed, in Jesus Christ, who came here, so that we might act there.
From eternity this is the empirical fact; it is in eternity that the reason lies, for HIS ways are everlasting. This is their unique nature, their sovereign disposition: on earth they resound, in heaven abound.
There is none else, and over eternity other 'gods' are vainly sought, or their base equivalents, which have not the benefit of existence! It is for this reason that they are not empirically attestable!
It is precisely there that 'nothing' lies: for there is NO OTHER GOD, for all else there vaunted is in the realm of NOT-GOD (as in Deuteronomy 32:17) where the name alone is to be found and withers to nothing, like a distant scene painted, but having no reality, with only the inscription left, as viewed as in some fusty gallery.
There, in the NOT-GOD realm, is the domain of imaginative corruption, intellectual corrosion, ideational dispersion, ontological vacancy and human asininity. This makes ruin to the lungs from smoking cigarettes, to be like sheer wisdom by comparison: for that is NOT AIR which corrodes the lung tissue, but this is NOT GOD which by its sheer vacancy, kills the lungs of the spirit, gives exit to life and entry to damnation, that final disposition of the dynamics of inherent folly.
End of citation.
Attention has been drawn to Deuteronomy 29:2 and Joshua 23:3 where quite the same emphasis is being made. Moses recapitulating, says to the people,
"You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the
to Pharaoh, and to all his servants and to all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen..." landof Egypt
Here, Moses' words could readily have been part of this very address in Isaiah, so close is the wording, the concept, the emphasis to it!
It is a case of what the Lord DID, and indeed did BEFORE YOUR EYES, and further, the things which YOUR EYES HAVE SEEN. This moreover fits with the recurring emphasis in Isaiah 41-48, that God is the One who DOES IT, fulfils it, makes it happen, without parallel, competition or other occupant of the Chair of certifiable performance: and this is applied, whether in general, as in Ch.48, or in particular, as for Cyrus, Chs. 41-42, the coming deliverer for the Jews, who would send them home from Babylon.
Practical performance and attestable fact is also precisely the emphasis of Peter and John (Acts 4-5), when challenged on their teaching of the resurrection*3: We CANNOT but speak of the things we have seen and heard ... and again, Judge for yourselves whether it is right in the sight of God to obey you (and be silent) or God (and be truthful)!
Let us however turn to the case of Joshua 23:3, where we find this:
"And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations
because of you: for the Lord your God is he who has fought for you."
Again there is the relevant action, the rescuing action for a people whom He had delivered from slavery in Egypt and many times thenceforward, leading to a vast climacteric phase as Joshua led them into the promised land: yes, here is the notable action. It is paraded, it is appealed to, it is undeniable, it is a platform, a basis, a panorama for the spirit and a vision to the mind.
This is a frequent theme.
In Psalm 78 it is the same; as in Psalm 106. The rehearsals of fact are the point, and they are vastly extended by Isaiah in Chs. 41,43, 48, where his own prophecies are in view; and now, in our own day, that the whole compass and spectrum of divine word controlling history is here, as in some detail attest in the references to SMR Ch. 8 and Answers to Questions Ch. 5, as well as in SMR Ch. 9 and Ch. 4 of The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet, just as a beginning: there is the empirical reality which stands alone.
It was so in former times; it is so, now. The canons of evidence were unvitiable then, just as they are clamant now. NOTHING else conforms to evidence, achieves logical validity, exhibits itself in all realms, whether we seek or not, striking the eye like lightning*2 (cf. Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host esp., and Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 9 with Repent or Perish Ch. 7). The Bible, like Jesus Christ the living word of God, is unique, vigorous, practical and irrepressible because of fact.
Despite the inciting turbulence of those who would affirm the magics that do not attest themselves and the gods who are not there, like that of the men of Ephesus for their Diana, now become a chanting for the seductive call of the myths of naturalism in our day: these are consistently violated by verification in a most antipathetic mood and mode. Anti-verification is their lot! They do not go. Like wooden idols, they have to be carried, and weary those who would sustain them.
As to fact, with this naturalistic pit of writhing, It NEVER agrees (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!). To the written word of God, the Bible, there is ALWAYS agreement, whether concerning nature or history. It is His in both cases, and He knows it (cf. Amos 3:7, Matthew 5:17-20).
Now, as in Isaiah 64:5, you see there the additional challenge. THEY, despite all this, the Israelites to whom the word was given, had sinned and provoked the Lord. This was done in the very face of such repeated and marvellous ACTIONS, wonders, things DONE by Him, and indeed for them, not least! Yet whatever their dealings, as to Him: His ways are eternal, unchanging from millenium to millenium - He even foretells what HE will do (as in Amos 3:7 and the newspapers of today, as if too charmed to deny it, merely indicate what happens, just as He decreed and foretold what WOULD happen!).
In this lies salvation, says Isaiah here; and in Isaiah 52-53, in their precise predictions, as in Daniel 9 and its precise prediction of the date of the death of the Messiah, you see His enduring eternity, granting rest to those in time who come to Him, in time!
It is now as in Joshua's day, to which he so spoke. Energy and power and wonders of mind and spirit have been poured out upon the Gentile world, and it has at times and in measure, sometimes outstanding nationally indeed, responded; but it drifts as did the latter Israel in Isaiah's time, and it becomes unresponsive, its mind occluded like bowels obstructed.
In Joshua 23:14, we read a further strand in this theme:
"... not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you; all have come to pass to you, and not one thing has failed..."
It was so, it is so, as Jewish history becomes Gentile history, and the whole human race falls not so much upon its knees, as to its needs, unmet in the oblivion of casting away the truth. What, indeed, would you expect! As it was to be, and had to be, in such a turmoil of untruthfulness, so it is; and it grows like the throat of a lion to the eye, to which it ravenously approaches. If you ignore reality, it does not shrink!
GOD reveals Himself as He will! If you leave it, you leave yourself, your meaning, your meat, your drink, your peace, your future of any kind worth having, and your integrity at length.
The NOT-GOD crew are wholly deficient in evidence; God abounds in it. Here is the desert and it is in the ultimate contrast with what is far better than dessert, but not less! for after all, does not the word of God invite (Psalm 34:8):
"TASTE AND SEE that the Lord is good! blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"
But with what is this more than dessert, this very destiny with the Deity to be contrasted at the end ? It is with that unquenchable fire near those forsaken because they forsook, for what can destroy the truth of their exclusion of God and His exclusion of them ? Is it to be hypocrisy as if they desired Him ? Is love to be prostituted ? No, indeed, but it is to be received, and it is so by whose thirst is always quenched, in that glorious and most delightful combination of free power and human satiation, which God as God the Creator both knows how to give, and to maintain! as John 4:14 shows and life attests to those who receive Him.
But what of those who, gripped by Satan, culture, diverse sins, pride, pomp, ceremony, formalism, traditionalism or mysticism that abhors evidence and ignores fact ?
AN UNPARALLELED PARALLEL
Does this signify they are forced to be foolish ? Not at all, for the disease is well-known to God, and its symptoms in rejecting Him have been foretold for millenia, and man warned for the same time (cf. Proverbs 1, Deuteronomy 32, Leviticus 26, Isaiah 13-14).
So does God rule, reminding, appealing, warning, providing. Indeed, in the earlier case in this twofold drama, Jew and Gentile, you see Israel step by step, rejecting the power of testimony confirmed many times, ignoring the pleas of righteousness, avoiding the attestation of judgment, swerving from the repentance for what led to it, step by step. It was wrought amid cries of compassion and entreaties of ardour. These forsaken, the history proceeded with precision on the one hand, amid compassionate calls on the other. In Jeremiah 1-17, you see a litany of entreaty, an army of opportunity, a cloud of avoided contentment: but all to no avail. Such was their plight, from which a number returned after the 70 year discipline in Babylonian exile, in the later days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Such is the lesson. Truth is a wonderful ally, and the God of truth is gracious to a level which makes man guilty of not adoring such liberality of love; but if you insist on trying a lying vanity, vain is your hope.
We have looked to the past for experimental verification and laboratory demonstration in history, in the case of Israel.
That is for many a closed book, as they heartlessness seek to extend the persecution of Israel, which has already suffered its come-uppance as God foretold (cf. Leviticus 26); and in so doing, they merely show in their own minds the power of judgment they themselves deserve, for the cases are in much, quite parallel. God is of course not unaware of this syndrome (cf. Isaiah 51:22-23, Jeremiah 50:17ff.).
In what are they parallel, the case of Israel and that of the Gentiles of today ?
It is in this. Both Jew and Gentile civilisations have had whole national arrangements and cultures, in various cases, attesting the God of the Bible, and then with riches, or power, or a sense of glory, have left it for the wealth and power which it quite often secures. UK and US are too sad examples of all but unbelievable power and blessing coming while the ways of God were in MANY things, in the structure for individual and liberty increasing, the call to holiness and godliness so much attested; and of all but incredible decline as the things of God were mixed with nothings, mere nothings, given names and fames based on desire, never logic, never truth.
You CAN do that. God has left man such a freedom. You CANNOT however do it with impunity!
To be sure there is a coming, in power to rule, of the Christ, foretold long before Buddha ever denied God (around 6th century B.C.), indeed it was reported from the first as in Genesis 3:15. Report of this divine action was later and repeatedly provided, and that both abundantly and in testable detail for Christ's first coming, indeed given four hundred years earlier than Buddha, in the Psalms; and it was given centuries before him, again, in Isaiah. This return of this same crucified Christ IS coming, just as His coming to die was to come, and came!
Of His return, all the many and verifiable signals are flapping in the strengthening breeze.
It is not an atheist who comes from emptiness, but the Son of God who comes from heaven (Acts 3:19-21, Matthew 24-25) to judge! just as, at the date predicted by Daniel (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), He came to die for sin, to justify believers in Him, at first. For the date of His return, no detail is assigned, but unexpected suddenness is! We are warned to be ready. Moreover a tartan, a pattern of signals is given to show when it is near, as distinct from a time when it may be said of it, Now, or again, No now! (cf. Acts 1:1-11, Luke 21:1-24). That pattern sits before us as clear as the McDonald tartan (Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
That is a fact; Christianity is the factual religion: this is because it is God who having created, unleashed history, and knows it very well, as one in an aeroplane might know the scene below, the pilot having long since walked it!
God plans, performs and acts. It is cardinally unwise to turn aside to fables (II Timothy 4:4), to become intolerable of truth, to itch for false doctrine.
BETTER THAN PARALLELS OF EMPTINESS,
SURGING VAINLY INTO THE DISTANCE
Against such puffs, then, one must move rapidly to another wind in another area (II Timothy 4:5), present the Gospel, reach sinners with it, being sound in doctrine and dealings alike. Paul saw himself as a 'drink offering', poured out like the oil and fruit of the vine, with burnt offerings (though not with trespass or sin offerings!), a savour to accompany sacrifice, a lead to fellowship and a sweetness to garnish the burning (II Timothy 4:6, Exodus 29:40-41). A drink offering poured out, then, he felt that his time for departure appeared to be drawing near. He knew that the entire rendering of his life and service to God had nothing withheld, like a liquid poured out in the vessel of life.
Such is his apostolic example, not INSTEAD of our own, but as a stimulus to it; for as Christ had done all, so there should be withheld from Him, nothing (Luke 14:27-33). Instead, each one found as His servant, and all, His redeemed, should whole-hearted, gladly yield life to His command, whose princely procedure produced pardon and dowered life; for He is a leader, a commander and a witness to the people (Isaiah 55:4, Revelation 1:5, II Corinthians 2:14).
Paul as a leader had suffered vastly: but had fought a good fight and knew that he would receive a crown of righteousness. This, he declared, would be given to him. It is, then, first of all a DONATION (given – II Timothy 4:8); but secondly it does not jar with the life he led once converted, for although he was far from sinless, his Christian character was outstanding and his devotion to duty phenomenal. This DONATED crown is not for himself alone, he declares, but for all of Christ's people, “all who have loved His appearing,” for God is love; but where the love for Christ rules, reality opens its wings (John 14:21-23).
In II Timothy 4, the apostle then notes Alexander the coppersmith’s heady efforts to nail his coffin in the trial, but
“the Lord stood with me and strengthened me”.
In fact, he uses this debased threat to show his faith, the sort that moves mountains (4:18):
“the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.”
While Paul spoke of the challenges he faced and endured, it is great to note that Luke stayed with him, loyal reporter and heavenly minded friend, and that Mark, who earlier had failed in his first missionary venture by early packing bags for home before it was finished, is so useful that even at that advanced hour in his perils and work, Paul calls for him to come and help! Here is a devil’s defeat, failure turned to triumph, and WHAT a triumph, for Mark with Peter was used to make one of the four most famous books in the world, the GOSPELS, under the inspiration of the Lord Himself!
It is here of Christ, with the other gospels, that we read of an example impervious to rebuttal, impregnable to ruin, despite two millenia of desire to destroy Him, in heroics of pretence parallel to that of many of the priests, Pharisees, Sadducees. In their very face, however, then as now in His ultimate control of history (Ephesians 1:11), He has proceeded impeccably and inexorably fulfilling, to the letter, the staggering things prescribed in the identikit for the Messiah (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9). On earth, when His actions could be seen in themselves, with no clutter from the sins of man, what a spectacle of purity and a realisation of truth, what a donor of peace, a worker of health, a provider of compassion in practical terms was He, who had no home mansion, to lay His head!
While thus humbling Himself, He never humbled the reality of truth, declaring, "I am the way, the life and the truth! No man comes to the Father except by Me!" (John 14:6). This could not be other, since truth does not vary. "Before Abraham was, Christ declared, I AM!" (John 8:58).
In no particle did He vary from the way appointed, the truth declared, whether in word or in performance, then or later in the time when His words showed to history the light of His foreknowledge!
In His own day on earth, and in His own way there before mankind, what was His relationship to the word of God written in the Old Testament before He became incarnate ? It was not difficult to discern!
What it said, He did; for it was through the Spirit of Christ before He came that it was given (I Peter 1:11) in the first place; and it was out of love that He relished His task for the King of Eternity who sent Him (John 8:29, Psalm 40, Matthew 26:52-56). Far more did He desire to become the sacrifice for sin, than merely to remain in a world which stripped of pretence, was on collision course with death (John 3:16, 10:10, Matthew 26:28, 45).
Vulnerable at ANY point (cf. Luke 11:52-53), and leading to storms of odium and delectation, preludes of the holocaust focussed on Him only through the lens of sin, He spared nothing that obstructed entry to heaven, opening it wide to man; and was spared nothing from those who detested the only way to peace with the God on whom life depends (colour for emphasis):
" 'Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.'
"And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.
He was yet capable of being excluded from this world ONLY by murder! False shepherds, abhorring the true, only increased their own damnation, except they should repent (Matthew 23:9-35*4). He came precisely as God said He Himself woud do, in Ezekiel 34, despising the misuse of truth by many false pastors, and determined to do all well, Himself! As the Good Shepherd there foretold, He came, and noted this fact (John 10)!
All points foretold, He sustained.
These He did with an ease to be expected of the deity as man,
and with an anguish at times to be expected in One
coming to a snake-pit of evils, to destroy the poison on a selective basis,
mirrored in the healing miracles, where He could even ask,
What do you wish that I should do for you! (cf. John 3:15, Numbers 21:4-9).
Done this way and that, however, they were DONE! Performed in purity, contained in forbearance, applied in severity where necessary, invoking limitless power, taking nothing for self-satisfaction, He showed by contrast the villainies of this world, which suffers, will suffer and has suffered accordingly. Yet HE has not suffered one particle of His words to fall, either in the generation which found murder necessary, nor in any following (cf. SMR Ch. 8, Matthew 24:1ff.).
The same is true of His own statements in diagnosis and prognosis for the human race. They fill the voids left by sundry reductionisms (cf. SMR Ch. 4), provide the verifications left by sundry mysticisms, while here alone is there to be found the answer to the riddle of man: HOW could such evil happen when (say some!), I am so good ...
The answer ? Examine your goodness, and consider who is this, what kind of being is this unsaved sinner, who is his own auditor, who knows not his Maker, or even if believing about Him, has that sort of 'faith' which lacks legs and lags like a drunkard in a cross-country race, to fulfil explicit and various commands from the Creator, the heart being elsewhere! (Hosea 7:14-16).
What superiority is this imagined by the crafted, over the Craftsman! After all, when some wish to deny the salvation in Christ, they merely indirectly attribute to the Lord, what would then be the folly of having such a history as this, without remedy provided and attested; for the whole point is that HE HAS PROVIDED, and man is GIVEN TEST AND TIME, so that not only may some may be delivered, but all show the meaning of truth, if not in their hearts, then in their history!
We are not immersed in facts, bereft of wisdom, except it be by desire; for that is the manner of chaff blown by the wind (cf. Psalm 1:5-6). Nor could we know this if we were, since such immersion is what it claims, and not a surveyor beyond. Rather are we provided with the heavenly wisdom our state, status and condition requires; nor is it like a syringe for the drug addict, a governmental sop, but an open door to the knowledge of God (John 10:9, 14:1-10).
If it was costly to God, such is the price of making people with freedom; if the price was paid, as it was for all who receive Him, even offered to ALL, then such is the principle of Him who made the universe with mankind in it, in the first place. He does not shrink from the completion of the task begun, or renege on the liberty endowed; nor for that matter does He fail to preclude judgment, by bearing it Himself, and this again, for those who receive the exchange of crucifixion for sin, and pardon for life. These, they are His; those, they are ours...
This is what the disciples found: the power, the principles, the presentation, the explanation, the inspiration and the example; and with it all, the salvation from sin and the access to life eternal.
These were all inspired by Christ, to whom we are currently looking, Mark, Paul, Peter, and it is part of the testimony to the reality of the Creator whose salvation it is, that such inspiration does not stop with feeling, but embarks into fact. The resurrection*3 broke all bounds for silence as Peter and John confronted the entire focus of priestly authority with undeniable FACT: they had failed to curb the Christ, could not even find Him, and His restoration announced, His disciples continued to have access to the power that He had shown, in His name (cf. Acts 4:18-22, 5:12-25, 12:1ff.).
Thus we see lessons in fearless continuance, inveterate victoriousness of spirit, gracious lowliness of mind, encouragement to hope for the end, as also in having willingness to work with one and all who love the Lord and follow His precepts; as in the life of faith which WORKS by KNOWING the Lord and so SOWING His word and GLOWING with His internal presence by His Spirit (Colossians 1:27).
Is YOUR meat to do His will ? and hence to KNOW it ? and hence to STUDY His word and SPEND TIME with Him spiritually in no rushed manner, waiting on Him for His leading in all things, in nothing vexed by mere impossibilities, as the flesh regards them, but fresh in spirit, filled with joy at His presence and His nearing appearance ?
Have you loved His appearing and do you look expectantly for His return ? (Hebrews 9:28).
Are you praying with one heart with His people ? (Acts 4:23ff.).
Is the support of His kingdom works more important to you than your own! Does the rattle of the spiritual sabre of those who confront you, rather raise your morale than crush it, since your trust is in the Lord, to whom the righteous run as to a safe stronghold, and are safe!
Do you LIVE your religion, and is your religion CHRIST JESUS, resurrected, real and spiritually dynamic, crucified in weakness, coming in power ?
Better than nothing ? Infinitely better, as God than vanity.
Paul urges us to FOLLOW his example (in I Corinthians 11:1). Thus, while we all have different spiritual gifts and talents, using what we have to the uttermost is the plan. Remember the talents, and the one who had five bringing five, while the one who had one, sulked and did nothing much!
Learn from this that we need originality, imagination, fearless courage, to act and to know in whom and for whom we are acting! The sea is powerful and you see this in its surges: not in its inactivity.
Let us therefore abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that we are
“looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour,
Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us
that He might redeem us from every lawless deed,
and purify for Himself His own special people,
zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13).
He is a great God, and the only God, and to serve Him with diligence, in His dynamic, praying in spirit, working with grace, fashioned by love, through the salvation received: this is a gift better than that of any gold-mine, and a glory that dwarfs any invention or investment of man. Try the OPPOSITES to the evils of II Timothy 3:1-5, for every vice, discovering the contrary virtue … purity, reliability, self-sacrifice for Him! When our lives SHOW such things, then we show we KNOW Him.
*1 See in general terms,
Barbs ... 29, and in particular,
SMR pp. 422Aff., 422Eff.,
Causes 1, Sparkling Life ... Ch. 8,
TMR Models and Marvels,
A and F Schools,
The gods of naturalism have no go! with
News 68, 109,
Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 13,
for exposure of some of the alogisms and indeed antilogisms into which such a position falls.
The gods of naturalism have no go! together with
The MEANING OF LIBERTY and the MESSAGE OF REMEDY,
REASON, REVELATION and the REDEEMER
SCIENTIFIC METHOD, SATANIC METHOD and the MODEL of SALVATION
CELESTIAL HARMONY for the TERRESTRIAL HOST.
Wake Up World! 5, End-note 1A, cf. Chs. 4, 6;
Wake … Ch. 6 at pp. 109ff., with Questions and Answers 3 at pp. 32ff., SMR pp. 315Aff..
*3 See SMR Ch. 6, pp. 936ff.,
On Biblical Translations Ch. 4,
Biblical Blessings Ch. 15, Extended Endnote 2,
Things Old and New Ch. 2, Excursion 2A;
LIGHT ... Ch. 3,
Beyond the Crypt ... Ch. 2;
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes ... Ch. 2;
Spiritual Refreshings Chs. 5, 6,
Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 8 .
His words, as in practical tests at the physical level in science, should be audited the better to gain the spirit of the proceedings, for His words are spirit and they are life (John 6:63). The denunciations were a virtual pass to execution from the hands of those who lived for, or at least loved, the praise of men rather than that of God (John 12:43). Yet He had to alert mankind to its plight, and spare Himself nothing as He fought the fight of life over death, deliverance over judgment, Himself the butt for all who would come, whatever their past follies, in faith to receive what He would do, and take Him, the Son of God on earth by faith (John 12:49-50, 3:16-17).
"Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’
"Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’
"Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
"Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
"Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ "Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
"Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
"Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar."