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These flashing falls are contrasted with freakish options which would make of history a programmed pap. This would fail as a scenario, in neither proving nor exhibiting the vitals of vitality nor exposing the vials of vice. WHY, some ask, does God not do it MY WAY!
If God were out of it all, there would be an immediate downgrading to programmed pseudo-people. But again, if He were not there, NOTHING could be (SMR Chs.1,3,10). He IS there, and some still ask questions. Let us look at freedom.
Why, the question goes, WHY did not the Lord invent a world to which only those foreknown to be good, would go? It would be one where ONLY THESE would be given the benefit of existence! If you think this is fanciful, it IS a question which has seriously been asked, and not in mere fun!
THE ANSWER IS THIS.
1. He HAS done so. It is called heaven. True, they needed to be redeemed first, genuine faith-tested, receivers of the Lord Himself: but He DID it!
2. As to THIS world, imagine if it were allowed to receive only those who turn out right. That, incidentally, includes the concept of a pre-selected Adam and Eve, chosen because it is known they would not fall. That is one sub-set of this imagined scenario.
No great gain appears in this latter point. So long as someone falls some time, the baleful forces of evil will lurk, loiter and rove.
But what must be said of such "stacked deck" approaches: a party, a selected group of inhabitants for the earth, is this! Then is there no test for faith in the grip of real adversity (other than stage-managed contrived diminuendo pseudo-confrontations), no challenge to the limit, that other options chosen brings forth, no real exposure to the force of darkness, no exhibition of the deceitful charms of virgin (or should we rather say, harlot) evil arises.
Such a scenario, an imaginary revision of history, would involve a phoney war, a delusive exhibition both of the power of God (not situationally challenged to the uttermost) and of evil (claws clipped), so that lurking doubts and impious propaganda remain without historical answer. LOGICALLY it is clear; but some want history, and history they get. On ALL sides, the Lord shows the integrity of His genuineness of goodness, power and provision. In the end, this leads with an apparent inexorability to the incarnation and the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, deployed with an artistry that lacks nothing of stoutness, an imagination which covers all, a power which answers any and an integrity which shines.
3. If however a cut-down history were to be what was provided, with the to-be-good ones in exclusive occupancy of this earth, then the sly, reductionist, simplistic forces and propagandas of the numbed spirit, and the deluded mind: these are not shown in the fabric of history to be the stuff of mere dreams. They might strut, declaring: NOTHING was ever fully tested.
Reality however is better, greater, deeper and higher than the chants of the loveless and the chiders can know; and only in untampered truth and unhocked challenge is this shown on all sides and in all ways to all.
In the faith of the saints, exposed to the rigours of harsh and debased realities is there a pageant of answer to the devil's age-old taunt, "DOES JOB SERVE GOD FOR NOTHING!" (Job 1:9-21). Now is there answer clearly read in the history of
man to that great defamation of love and trust, answered from the well of suffering and the presence of God! (cf. Job -27 - *1)
4. Indeed, we might here
develop some intimations from point 1.
A 'god' who is not in the realm of the spiritual, limitless and profound above all, where spiritual forces are not way beyond the puny power of man, a 'god' who insulates himself from reality, rather than being Creator of liberties, is a mere invention of man, perhaps a supreme idolatry. The God who is - He exposes the threats, taunts and distortions of The Lie (II Thessalonians 2:9-11), the language of unbelief, to the rigours of objective testing, showing the stability of truth even in the earthquake zone of taunt and trouble. While He is not readily available to the reckless rampaging of irreconcilable irrationalities, His light is always searching, scorching the pretensions, assailing the arrogances, inviting the seeking of man (Proverbs 1, Isaiah 55; Romans 10:6-10, Matthew 11:27-29).
To one and to all, to heavenly auditors, to man on earth (Ephesians 3:9-10), God uses history in all its stark sinfulness, obdurate obstructiveness, unrepentant militancy, devious murderousness, lust and thrust, intermingled with holiness, much patience, goodness, mercy, kindness, truth, wisdom and repentance, to demonstrate. And that ?
To all time and to all who live, think, query, and muse, it will be demonstrated, as it has been demonstrated, whether in short flashes or in mighty thrusts, eruptions or substantial developments, that every option outside the Gospel of repentance and redemption with God through His eternal word, incarnate as Jesus Christ, simply - does not work. The secular alternative, the philosophies of rejection, the pads of unbelief in Him, failing any possibility of truth, fail likewise any savour of endurance, reality, workability.
In short, world minus gospel = world minus God, one impossible to EXIST, on the one hand, and to SUBSIST on the other.
Nothing else COULD work, as shown in such detail so often in our earlier works; and nothing else DOES work, as shown by history in great progressive, cumulative and ironic detail in its earlier centuries. Light demonstrates, just as He often remonstrates, it depicts, shows, exhibits, does not hold back but rather rebukes error and manifests truth. It does not leave this office, exhibiting on all sides, leaving nothing standing, no word, no hope, no other way.
Nothing surpasses it, nothing can compete with it, and God is that light, and Christ the incarnate deity, the word, He is "the light of the world", so that without Him, it is merely uncomprehending in darkness neither natural nor necessary, but procured by sin, and retained by wilfulness in the light of truth (John 1:1-5, 9:5, 3:15-36, 15:22-24, Ephesians 4:17ff.).
As Paul puts it -
(Galatians 1:6-9, 3:1-14), preached through Abraham and executed by Jesus
Christ, the payor, is the cutting edge of the
invitation of God to man (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms
The Bible, the word of God, written in its unalterable attestation, Jesus Christ, displays of truth its physical incarnation, so that, the living word, His is the face to be marred by the murderous appetites of man, relayed in our own century, in the surrogate actions of marring the word of God written, with impossible and ravenous philosophies, which try to impact upon it, as did the whippings and tearings on the face of Christ.
God is a Spirit, and is in spiritual purlieus, divine places. It is He who deals with spiritual forces and attests before all what is the truth. As to Him, HE is not limited and a limited God is unlimited fiction. Fiction however is no reservoir for "options" when reality is concerned. This concept of enshrining God in a tent, in a convent, making make-believe worlds without openness and opportunity, by mere direction: it is therefore a "NO WAY - GO BACK!" sign for the imagination which explores what might be. A discretionary God who avoids confrontation (as in the concept of Aristotle for example), does not put to the test what claims its own place without Him, whose truth is not manifest and whose ways are not inveterate, indisputable before any and every bar, is not the One who is, and says He is - the I AM! (Exodus 3:14, 6:3, John 8:58).
God is no principle, though He deploys principles; no distillate, though He distils history; no suggestion, though He exhorts; no experimenter though He exhibits demonstrations for all to see, for their own sake; no tyrant and He rules with mercy.
Personal, confrontational, gracious, proclaiming His name, filled with all goodness, He shows the truth without limit, and it is in its limits that all must subsist, for there is no other truth. He speaks it, does it, requires it, and where it is finally discarded, disregarded, in truth the pit is bottomless, for that is its nature.
As to Him, He says this:
"For thus says the Lord
who created the heavens,
God Himself who formed the earth and made it -
He has established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited:
'I am the LORD, and there is none else.
I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth.
I did not say to the seed of Jacob, Seek Me in vain:
I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right '" -
5. As by a powerful current, that is in fact the logic of reality, we are therefore impelled to... the waterfalls of grace, the limpidity of love and the infinite reliability of truth, cascaded in real history, not ersatz, sadly artificial clusters. The realities have heart and actuality, and do not display what is true in the fake, ivory towers of pious pretence. These rather are revealed, met, tested and labelled as by the Lord (cf. Ephesians 5:11, I Timothy 6:16, Isaiah 50:8-9, 48:3-12, 45:9-11,18-24, 43:13). God is shown great, the wonders real, His heart magnificent, His grace incommensurable, incomparable - in a world NOT ungoverned, but not muted either, where reality can leap like a lion, where the lion-hearted Saviour Himself, the "lion of Judah" (Genesis 49:9-10) can break every chain,
It is in a real world, not doctored for invalids or plotted for mere appearances, it is here that there is exposed in grand, competent and indeed complete fashion the heart of sin, the blatancy of evil, the cost of redemption and the magnificence of the reality which finds both its source and home only in God. History acts as tutor. For all eternity, truth now blazes exposed, revealed, a revelation impeccable, impassable, matchless (*2), tried, tested and sure. Carping critics are silenced by its prowess as much as by their own ineptitude, irrationality and derisible follies of the imagination.
The grandeur of God, life, the wonder and excellence of being in the image of God is established past all sick thoughts, shallow surmisings and mutinous musings. Its provisions, its requirements from the hand of its Maker are profoundly apparent, not reticent, manifest as the sun in the heavens in its glory, insuppressible.
He who seeks to repress it, covers an atomic bomb with His hand. It affects his hand, and does not deter the bomb. Yet the truth is if explosive against pretence and deception, benevolent in the beauty of holiness, and even went so far as actually TO COME to this earth, that it might be tested to the uttermost, even directly, even personally, even while deploying its force to secure salvation for those who repent and believe in Him who made us and can remake us.
Planted like a tree in such a soil of reality, the lovers of God flourish in, with and by a grace that knows neither limit nor end (Psalm 1, Psalm 61:3, Romans 6:5, 8:31-39). As to them, they have heard the word, "Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope" (Zechariah ), and from of old has come the Gospel (Zechariah 3:9, , cf. Isaiah 45:25, 52-53). Hope is no more a prison when its guardian is one's Lord, but a conveyor belt which takes one to the appointed realm. It languishes when faith is out, flourishes when truth is known, and abounds when life is lived in the glory of the countenance, marred but revived and impregnable in its purity, of the Saviour. Moreover is His purity is dazzling as Peter found in the transfiguration, it is enlivening in its sheer splendour, and surrounds the pilgrim like the sun in its brightness, enticing, drawing, furnishing, as he who is radiant, works within the heart, drawing it to Himself.
Again in Zechariah 9, the prophet in God's name is heard declaring,
"As for you also, by the blood of the covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit in which is no water." No empty motion is that of salvation, but it rescues from empty folly, needless vanity, certain frustration and grants a living fountain from within the heart, since there is Christ and there abides His Spirit, in all who are His, exuberant in refreshment, vital in quickening of mind, enabling perception (John 4:14, 7:17, Acts 5:32, Isaiah 32:156-17).
Objectively based, historically gained, this salvation is liberal in mercy, effulgent in grace and practical in expression. Of that blood, the blood of the covenant, now fulfilled from preliminary picture in consummation completeness in Christ's adequate and profound sacrificial death (cf. Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Matthew 26:28, SMR Ch.9 and Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17), we read,
day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the
There is none whose hearts desire Him, to whom it may not apply (Isaiah 49:6, 65:10-13).
Neglecting the truth from of old is the folly of secular history (cf. Jeremiah 2:13) as man in multitudes has turned from the magnificent provision of God the Creator and Redeemer (Isaiah 44:22,24-26) in Christ Jesus (cf. Isaiah 49:7, 53:1, 55:1-3).
Though this patent and manifest gospel is often neglected, it is constantly affirmed, continuing with durability in the crests of the waves, as they approach the shore of judgment (cf. II Corinthians 6:1-2).
As of old, so now, is the pathos of folly, Jeremiah 2:13-14, putting it as Christ put it in Luke 19:42, and the former follows first :
living waters, and hewn out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Is
Yet it is not all who so neglect, and how many and for how long, have rejoiced: for though they may be small in percentage, who love the Lord Jesus Christ, the chosen, the elect, the incarnate Son of the living God, the eternal (Micah 5:1-3), the Lord of glory, they are vast in multitude over time (cf. Revelation 7:9), and tested though they be, and tested though their Saviour was (Hebrews Chs. 2,5), yet with true faith those whom He has saved embrace Him who is invisible, so much better than mere principles, whether of beauty, of peace or friendship: Him who made all, to whom all must come, from whom comes truth, whose truth moves not an iota; for such is the way of truth (I Timothy 6:16, Revelation 22:3-5, 5:13).
Nevertheless, in His grace and love, HE moved to earth, than man might move to heaven, and as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the children of God (John 1:1-14). The Gospel is effective, moves as appointed to all the earth before the judgment (Matthew 24), and nothing else is or can be; for truth is inviolable, and what lacks it, falls, for it does not remain to attest what is not so.
Of gods there is but ONE (Ephesians 4:4, Jeremiah , Psalm 89:6-8, Isaiah 45:21-25), and He is God; and
Only by the utmost folly can man reject this multiply tested, irrevocably demonstrable and peaceable truth. Only with the utmost delight may He be received!
Burying teeth in His 'errors' (cf. Psalm ), is like biting the air, for there is no substance in the folly of complaint: our sin is our doom -
salvation is our hope, by faith it is to be received, so that it is both
gained, current and known (cf. II Timothy 1:9-10, Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5,
Romans 5:1-9); and HE is
known (John 14:1-10, 17:1-3).
Not in mutinous mutterings
are our minds to dwell, ephemeral dreams of developing gods, all of whom are
mere tools of the mind, created in our hearts, and if real, would at that be
engineered units, fulfilling the dowered potential implanted in them ... by
GOD. It is in God that we must find our place, or be displaced in a double
evacuation, spiritual DPs, wilful
DPs, both from righteousness and from correction,
from reality and from redemption.
And that redemption? It is of the Lord (Matthew , Isaiah 50:1-2, 51:11, 53:4-6), and none who comes in faith to Him for this salvation is ever rejected (John , 40).
As to God, He is as He was and will be as He is; and as He swears (Malachi 3:6, cf. James 1:17), He does not change, being always what He would be and limited by none, used by none, modifiable by none, adequate for all, longsuffering but not excusing the impenitent, whose sin is their shame; for it is in the very face of the delicious pardon available in His name, of the liberties which are in His company, like the flashing falls which teem in their splendour, ever pouring, ever free, coursing in sheer wonder of life.
Job, in the Bible, typifies this response: for in the midst of physical torment, social indignity, financial loss, domestic devastation, uxorial contempt, foolishness of children, false charges from friends, he could cry to the Lord in pangs of prayer that included the fervent belief that God in the last time would stand on the earth, available, visible in human form, death to death and friend to immortality: God His Redeemer. Death would not hold him, nor any power prevent his salvation. Though broken in heart, his spirit still soared to his Source, his soul to its Maker and his life to its Messiah: His would be the final word, and the word was good. Job lived by faith that could be shaken, but not seduced. In Job 19, we read:
"Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last upon the earth:
After my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh shall I see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another."
His REDEEMER, on the EARTH, whom he shall SEE with his own EYES, individually and personally without mediation of another!
Meanwhile, despite the fractures of stress, like those of metal fatigue, he maintained his stand with this robust faith soaring above every weakness.
The point is set in principle in Habakkuk 3:17-10:
"Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labour of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls -
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
He will make my feet like deer's feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills."
Books like Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Schaff's History of the Christian Church, Russell Hitt's Jungle Pilot, Elizabeth Elliot's Shadow of the Almighty and Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place - the last from the time of the worst death camps of World War II - and episodes one finds about one, all abundantly bring to more recent date and then to contemporary experience, the same decisive testimony.
These fascinating, crucial
findings of truth and integrity, are on the one hand fastened like steel
rivets to the faithfulness of God, by faith based in the living vitality of
Christ "in you, the hope of glory", while on the
other, they attest a close security despite the dealings of the adversary,
more surely than the baby kangaroo is found in the mother's pouch. (See SMR pp. 92ff..)
Such faith moves mountains and is not afraid as if to hide under them, for it finds
sufficient Rock in foundation and eternal strength, as in radiant candour, in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 28:15-18, I Corinthians
3:11, Matthew 7:24-25)..
As Paul puts it:
Great is the mystery of godliness.
manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Preached among the Gentiles,
in the world,
Received up in glory ..." I Timothy 3:16.
Truth itself has cascaded down the rocks of trial,
a sheer blaze of unsearchable splendour moving through liberty .
Like a lion in the forest,
it is also unfettered, unfavoured by pretence, real;
and mingled with liberty like love in marriage;
it has for its testimony - for the Saviour is the Truth -
the unsearchable riches of Christ (Colossians , 3:8).