W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
‘Scapegrace, Skategrace and Scantgrace face Grace
Religious Rodents Gnaw, and
Many Civil Ones Ignore
As they Gnaw …
and are not wisely Ignored
In our last chapter, we noted the presence of one, ‘Scapegrace!’ He was very doughty, as seen in Malachi from which his words were taken.
This old-fashioned term has up-to-date meaning. To ESCAPE GRACE - when God’s loving grace is, as shown in Ch. 1 above, so limitless in its attitude, though of course - human beings not being robots, not in its attainments: this is one of the great exploits of man.
In what sense, however, is it great ? It is great numerically, in popularity, in amused delights of scorners, in the eyes of the execrators of God, those who find it too much to ask, to consider their source or even their destiny, who trust in themselves for reasons never made clear, since their control criteria and manifest physical end are not attractive. This ‘scape grace preoccupation so bold today, shows the kicking of the heels, the determined piece of human autonomy flaying life with its wildness (like a miswired rocket, or better, the Challenger expedition in its doom, spinning about futile, but doing its destructive thing, though this was never the point of its original construction)!
That rocket was not able to think, just as many others dis-enable themselves, but to the viewer its agonising vagrancy was a wildly erratic thing, gravitated to destruction. The point us symbolised too well by the lady teacher who was going on that very Challenger rocket, to lead the next generation into space, as she said, giving her all for its beauty and whatever else it is deemed to have for man.
Yet God has not appointed space for man’s placement! Psalm 115:16:
Ø “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.”
There is here an apportionment, not of convenience but of authority, of disposition, of deity. You get from God, what you are given. The earth, not the cosmos is given. The function of heavenly bodies relative to man is spelled out in Genesis 1. The division for the divine and the human, with the allocation for man is exhibited in the Psalm. Whatever the divine purposes – and one of them is shown in Isaiah 40:26, with a further indication in Psalm 8, a habitat for man is not among them.
What then is man, given a house, doing living in the gutter of space. Gutters serve useful purposes, and the stars are not like a gutter in many ways: but in just one they do resemble it for man. It is an inhospitable, unprepared, unmoulded entity for the life of man. It is not arrayed for him to live in, but to watch and to humble himself at the majesty of the Lord.
If however he should want MORE, MORE and MORE, and make space his dominion as well as the earth ? Then he moves into the illicit.
Alas the Challenger rocket, after the manner of secular man,
not properly prepared, with some little O-rings
perhaps not checked as they should have been, spun out of control and with a
sweeping irony, the unbiblical exploit ended downwards into the same old sea
that has challenged man for millennia, not in the avant-garde heavens, which
are the Lord’s, but in the depths of many an earlier conflict. Ah but, someone may say, WE MUST use them or
For while the grace of God is unlimited in its provisions, the earth which He made is not. It is virtually so, in view of the smallness of man, but not actually so in view of his untutored appetites for power, for war, for superiority, for racial impact, for religious impact, for cultural impact or human racism, eternal power or whatever other folly possesses, from time to time, like fashions from Paris, the heart of man. The apostles of war are never far distant, who war in offence and flashing threat, who mouth menace, while there are those who refuse surrender, who mount defence, and prepare to strike in its favour. But is the LORD trusted in all this ? Alas no, for His directives are not trusted and so not done! (cf. Red Alert … Ch. 6).
ESCAPING GRACE, it seems, is such fun, such wanton fun; such power, such spoliation of power; such excitement, such ardour of death (cf. Proverbs 8:35-36), and the conversations in Malachi so very well illustrate this mind-set (1:12-14, 2:13-15, 16-17, 3:8-9,13-15). It is like the royal sport of hunting, causing such pain and anguish to creatures, for whatever imagined gain. It is apparently fun. It is to be done. It draws out the boys, makes the lads have something really vital to do, even if their power is in the hunting case, ludicrously overwhelming. In the ‘scape grace hunt, however, the reverse is true. Here the foxes by their cunning seek to outwit the hunter, scorning him, for His hunt is not to present death, but life. So they smirk and grin, and strife and produce counterfeit logic of which a matriculation student might be ashamed (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 1-3, SMR pp. 140ff.).
But the earth is not pleased, as they provoke its balances and it provisions with their ardour and recklessness, as if eternity were their time, and infinity of resources their inheritance. The spoiled human spirit is always spoiling for a fight, and just as it is spoiled, so it spoils. One remembers well an Asian whom one sought to help, in his pitiable distress, with dangers of persecution in his own native land, it seemed, so that he gained eventual access to this land.
He was grateful, but his endeavours were short-lived, yes and short-loved towards the Lord. He was intent, it seemed, on being a notable ‘scape grace. Not at all had he become a Christian, not at all did he seek the hand of the Shepherd, no such thing had occurred, or was to occur, he later indicated. Our staggered ears heard this story, and saw his property investments before long make him a very rich man. Falling one day from a roof, and it could have held a paraplegic result, he was safe, but never heeded. So do the embers of folly ignite the passion of the soul for weird desires, as to possess more for a while than is needed, is set as if it excuses any folly, any defiance of reason, truth or grace.
How many have fallen thus when young, attracted to grace and by it, yet attracted the more to power, the more naked the better, to the fulfilment of their own favourite desire; and with fuel from ‘success’ they rage like uncontrollable bush fires, till all their heart is burned, and only that final and irrevocable severance from Christ, the only Saviour, occurs, leaving them to reflect on destiny in their doom (Isaiah 14, Daniel 12:2, Matthew 8:12, 13:42,50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30, Luke 13:28).
Yet not all are so bold. Not all simply make their own lives the practical, empirical centre of life, and play the game that way, in absurdity of irrelevance to truth. Some rather like to be coy, to dance a little here, a little there, like James VI of Scotland*1A (to become James 1 of England), with his love for the outstanding and doughty nobleman, Robert Bruce, a leader in the Scottish Church so great at one time, that he appointed him a trustee of the kingdom when he went abroad: yet his pomp and self-preservation seemed to move him as the wind the sea. Time and again, like King Saul with David when the latter was but young, contrasting with his more civil moods like night with day, he afflicted, accused, broodly evilly over Bruce, as when he avowed he wanted his head of the great preacher, apart, that is, from his body; and often did the king persecute the much loved man of God so popular with the people, though his enemies of State were many, who detested his frank faith and fearless exposures.
Where then does such a one as this King of
These, they skate on grace, like those Olympian dancers on ice, whose turnings and cavortings are ever unexpected, new and original, with the aim of the applause. This is not to speak amiss about such dancing, only concerning the purpose of the image, the use of man’s morals and loyalties and heart and mind for but one purpose, to turn swiftly this way and that, in order to catch the spiritual wind a while, and then, moving more grossly, to catch the rewards of the flesh. You can rely on them in but one thing: that they will prove unreliable; and if so in man’s pursuit of God’s heavenly kingdom by his own ways, how much more in the talk of the kingdom itself. Here they may be found using words to the point of absurdity, to combine opposites as apposite for their skilful treachery and abundant worships of whatever is to be on board, or held aloft, now this additive, now that, as the mood, the fancy and the ambition might dictate.
But what of SCANT-GRACE ? Here is the religious professor who may have some words sewn together to give some sort of exhibition of some sort of doctrine, to please those who assess, or at least leave them, charmed, satisfied; whose aim is his advancement, whose life is his idol, whose joy is the savagery of soul that seizes all and neglects the least, so that in saving his life, he might appear to leave it, and in so fictitiously leaving it, he in fact is conserving it: and this, not merely a matter of an inward duplicity, but a spiritual indifference: whose doctrines in the end reflect the sallow shallowness of the soul, and may mislead many. Such are numerous theologians, neologians, counterfeit apostles, wolves in the flock as they have been since the days when Ezekiel wrote Ch. 34, God resolving to COME AND DO IT HIMSELF (cf. Hosea 13;14), as there may be read, and in Christ may be seen (John 10).
So you have amazement when you join a small denomination which seems to have some hope of fervour and loyalty to truth, only to find it preoccupied with its latest acquisition of some small but well-endowed denomination, in a style which alters irrevocably its own testimony, more elevated in this world, less so in the realm of scriptural truth. Then it has others from a still larger denomination, much larger, approach it… CAN WE JOIN YOU ?
the astute reply, for the intention evidently is that the finer small
evangelical church will be swallowed up
whole and entire into the larger one, and the nobler seeming testimony
will then come, that WE began back in the 1700s or some such irrelevant
nonsense. One has seen such things, and it is rare indeed to find that the
children of light are as wise in their day and generation as the children of
this world, so that again and again the ugly cattle, to use the image of Joseph
In such ways do the larger congregations and churches lose their bearings as religious varieties of ‘scapegrace, and skategrace, effect their fell purposes. The people then are left in smaller numbers, in this or that group or aggregation, far more easily slandered by Satan and assaulted by his ministers of the State, as it seeks to subdue all things to itself, as formerly in Russia and now in China, and soon in the world at large, it is predicted so to be (Biblical Blessings Ch. 2).
The great execration continues apace: the failure to conform to the word of God, endless artful compromises to secure the survival of the Church, carried out with such an extreme of passion that the contrast with Christ in HIS passion, with the opposite direction ensuring His NON-survival on this earth (in any natural way, as He faced the gallows of His day), becomes a comedy, a comic fantasy, as if the object were some kind of evil pantomime or burlesque.
This parody of piety becomes the more obsessive, the further the church sways for its survival, or that of the pensions of its participants, or whatever else that is sordid may control the aborted consciences that move to their own ruin, as in Ezekiel 34:10,18-22. How is the people of God helped by such palpable pretensions and pretences, now this and now that truth or doctrine surrendered!
So it was to be; so it is, this falling away to mark like an end of the race flagging, the coming end of the Age (cf. II Timothy 3, I Timothy 3, II Peter 2, Matthew 24, Jeremiah 23:18-20, II Thessalonians 2). Things cannot, to use the word of Paul, FALL AWAY, unless they are first of some height, and so has been the way of fraudulent, pseudo-unity, which ignores John 17:6 as a preliminary to John 17:21. They had to do it, so they rose in order that they might fall; but the church of the living God does not fall.
Schism may rend the unbelieving ‘scape graces of religion, as they move for advantage and the satisfaction of their flocks, erratic sheep with pride, money or power themselves sometimes leading their pastors; but the true church of God, the one which keeps His commandments, this continues as it has continued, despite the oily pretences of many as Romanism was exposed so mightily in the Reformation, people who wanted to satisfy something of conscience and much of reward in this world, and combining the two, making of themselves something like two-headed monsters.
THE SCANTY STATE
Moreover the thing is not only in the churches, many of them as those in Revelation 2-3, churches that have been but soon are so no more: it is also to be found in the State. What of the apparent indifference of many a country to the situation in Indonesia, where a news item from New Life (Melbourne, January 23rd, 2003) gives report, not for the first time, on this appalling horror*1.
Thousands of Indonesia’s Christians, we read, “displaced from their homes by Islamic terrorist the past three years – face a bleak future in view of the Indonesian government’s plan to shut down” camps for refugees, or displaced person accommodation. The plan ? close down these camps for the dispossessed and send the inmates back to where they came from, such and such islands.
The New Life article notes that over the past 2 years there have been two earlier efforts to do just this. What of the 2002 case ?
Many of the
displaced persons ? On their due return, we read, many
found their home and lands possessed by thieves who, for ostensible religious
reasons having effected the banishment, often on pain of death by earlier
report, for such minorities, now find some kind of Moslem satisfaction in
grabbing the riches and adorning their nests with the properties of the
dispossessed. It is acutely unlovely, more like the vulturous
than the virtuous. Others were reported as attacked as they sought to resume
their former place and property. Others were told … but here, wait for it, is a case of scant-grace that is like an inverted
THEY were told that they could have back their lands if they ‘converted’ to Islam!
Here the ‘scape grace, that ignores all decency, order, justice and truth, meets the skate grace of all flimsy pretence, and the two march in rank with the scant grace that for all times brings contempt in the foul and fallen use of religion for gain, of force for faith, as if you COULD believe because someone would take away your home.
What would you believe ? That his religion was ‘scape grace in massacre mode ? that his ideas of justice and truth amounted to delusion ? that he was ascribing to God Almighty the miniature wit of man, and fouling the life of one of His creations, in terms of an impossibility, that a gun could create truth, violence could conduct faith, or a crowd constitute its source.
In such ways is the very name of God made a matter of great execration, His justice, truth and way, His creation and order all thrown away in one vast militant swipe at true spirituality, governed godliness and apportioned directives: and instead, the foul process proceeds, thrashing out the earlier misuse of force by Muhammad when he brought his religious dreams to Mecca, and so defiled the truth by his arm.
Such spectaculars of horror, brutalisations of dreams are not the first; nor will they be the last in this our fallen race, which cannot live but by grace, but so wildly for so long in so many ways chooses disgrace. The Romanist did much the same in the Inquisition*2, not even minding adding to the grab, the riches of the victims, from the children of the same; as if it being “worse than an infidel” to fail to provide for your wife by your own neglect, it should be any other when you PREVENT the provision for children, by your rapacity, however many popes or Muhammads or other misleaders might be involved. And does not even justice teach that for someone to kill someone else, or dispossess, brings in the charge: Are you then God ?
Is it your will to prevent the toil of one from helping the wife or offspring, when God has made all ? Are you to visit the sins, even if they were so, of the parents on the children, and so to rupture moral reality in the name of God! Is this not only scant-grace but skant-grace, if we might wed scant and askance into skant! For it is militancy askew, mercy maligned, goodness made scanty, as if we had a sort of reverse order processs of skantification instead of sanctification*3!
So does this awful trio, ‘scapegrace, skategrace and scantgrace, place its footsteps in the past hollows of horror, left by those equally ruthless, and so does the execration of the name of God, who in His word (SMR 1,3,10) defines such things as defilement (Matthew 5:7, John 16:2, 18:36), continue, while the enervation of those States who minimally expose or protest, continues to join the throng of folly, as if in this latest case, these victims, being only Christians, and that in such a large country as Indonesia, it really doesn’t matter.
Gilbert and Sullivan had a way with them, and in this we can almost hear the comically inane repetition of one of the presentations … ‘doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter’, as their iron irony protests in gaunt mirth.
See Robert Bruce, Minister in the Kirk of
FM 6, 10, A Spiritual Potpouri
Ch.7, pp. 100ff., SMR pp. 946ff.,
1032ff., Wake Up
World! … Ch. 3,
Stepping Out for Christ
Sanctification is simply the making sanctified. To sanctify is to institute or increase in the feature of holiness. Holiness is nearness to God not in some psychic sense, or humanly acclaimed way, but actual nearness, wrought by the blood of Christ as an entry to His presence, the blood being the signal of the sacrificially sentenced Christ, who died the just for the unjust to bring us to God. Scant-grace is not really affianced to grace at all, but uses it; ‘scape-grace is not set on escaping it that he does not really know what it is; while skate-grace has so much to do with mobility that nobility does not normally enter his mind, or if it visits, he has no time to entertain it, far less make up its bed.
On abiding in Christ, see Questions and Answers 6.