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BEING OUT BEFORE YOUR INNINGS BEGINS
News 318 *
The Advertiser, July 9, p. 3, 2004.
On this occasion, one has received what appears some sort of form letter asking for a visit to a certain site. The writer affects to have ceased to be a Christian, and wishes apparently to share this wonder with others. It is felt that the reply may be found helpful to others, so it is given here, with other considerations added. Further, this is collated with other developments of a more general character, so that one may consider the scope of things more broadly. It is all news, whether of spiritual landscape or portrait. A citation from John Howard, Australian PM, is also found (as per hyperlink above), and this gives a further dimension to these developments.
First the reply follows.
I write in reply to your message, with one thing in view, the possibility of being able to help.
Now as to your thought that 'testing all things' as in the Biblical word, means checking someone's thoughts on why he or she is not a Christian, this is not to the point or relevant, actually. You are citing the Bible here, explicitly, so what it means is what must be in view, for this purpose. The phenomenon of unbelief has already been tested logically, practically and politically for millenia, and no further test is needed. In terms of the Bible, it is not asking us to test its rejection, for it has already declared on this point, itself (Isaiah 8:20), with extreme clarity, concerning the state of those who reject it, so that its finding is public. That particular test it has done for us.
I have been involved in such tests for about 50 years, in various countries, but never find anything but error as the Bible is attacked, or Christ is held up as if to slay Him a second time (something actually looked at in Hebrews 10:29, where it also talks of insulting the Spirit of grace). On the other hand, it is on our site repeatedly shown that there is no other logically valid option. It stands as nothing else can or does.
This however is not my present point for you.
That is more objective.
What of the personal side of things ?
Thus, on the other hand, it seems that you may well be in a difficult situation. What you say indicates another error at this level.
If you think it possible to be and then at some later time not be a Christian, you are mistaken. What a Christian is naturally is what the focus whose name it bears, has to say, and that is Jesus Christ. As to Christ, He affirms every jot and tittle of the Bible (Matthew 5:17ff., John 16). What then does He say about this idea of ceasing to be a Christian ?
You can have a religious experience at some time, and conceive of yourself as a Christian, to be sure; but this is not the same. In fact, in the Old Testament, there is a large number of cases where people liked to think they were the Lord's, when it was anything but true, and God detested their arrogant presumption and cold formalism (cf. Malachi 2:11ff., 3:1ff., 3:13ff., Isaiah 1:5-16). It is nothing new; but let us see what Christ Himself said here.
This exact case occurs in Mark 4:16, where in Christ's parable of the sower of the seed (the word of God), in the field (the world as Christ identified it), some seed fell on 'stony ground'. This of course prevented much root formation, so that the hard, unbroken, and in meaning, unrepentant 'heart' of the soil, its deeper places, this was useless. Hence when the sun was up, and some offence true or imaginary occurs, then the thing shrivels.
WHAT however shrivels ?
It is not the new born Christian who shrivels in this parable. Far from this is the case, as the Christian who is indeed regenerated and received into the family of God, is KEPT by the power of GOD (I Peter 1:5) and does not come into condemnation (John 5:24), indeed HAS received an inheritance of grace, being predestinated to the same (Ephesians 1:11).
No, it is not the Christian in this parable who shrivels. It is the SEED which does so, and as to this, Christ identified it as the word of God, as disseminated into the heart and life of the person. In this 'stony soil' case, then, there is hardness of heart, for it is still not 'broken up' or repentant from sin. Hence the seed, the word of God makes some impact, yet does not really penetrate. Superficial experience yields to sad death of the seed, and the soil stays as hard as ever, despite this little flirtation.
Was there experience ? Yes. Even the 'rich young ruler' who sought eternal life had an experience, for did he not actually talk to Christ and get a read-out on his own heart! Yet in his case, there was a pathological situation there which he was not willing to have cured, for the cost to him seemed too great. Preference for darkness eventually took over, and as in John 3:19, this was his condemnation. He did not 'cease to be a Christian,' for although he was KEEN and RAN to find Christ, and ACTIVELY ASKED for help, yet in the end, he did not take it. He was not a has been, but a never was.
Far is such a heart from seeking as in sincerity, seeking with nothing to offer but spiritual debt, humbly asking forgiveness for Christ's sake. No its soil, its heart, underneath is never anything other than hard. It keeps control, it has its own ways. The seed merely touches the surface. It has it own way and will still, and so did Judas, and Demas who left Paul, having loved this present world (II Timothy 4:9).
Thus there is "for a season" joy, just as you see in the parable (cf. Mark 4:16-17) as they believe what they have heard. The words enter their minds, as seed, yet not their hearts as faith. They feel this is correct, perhaps, like a child who likes visiting the sea-shore but who does not learn to swim, like someone who likes looking at a bath, but does not bathe in order to be clean (cf. Isaiah 1:16ff); or are persuaded to 'decide' or something such. Yet John 1:12 tells us the matter is not of the will of man, as does Romans 9:16, and John 15:16. Certainly certain psychological changes may occur, and a genuine experience arrives - for after all, the word of God has been received, though shallowly, and they entertain nice thoughts about it, superficially. That is the parable.
It is what Jeremiah calls being 'slightly healed', the most dangerous of occupations (Jeremiah 6:14), the cry being 'peace' when 'there is no peace', as the prophet declares.
Hebrews 6:4ff. also deals with this phenomenon, when people have actually TASTED of the things of heavenly nature, and had some impact from the Spirit, and some knowledge of the powers of the world to come, but turn away. The writer warns them, and yet encourages them to repent indeed and to find indeed, not join in that motley throng.
It is not some in and out phenomenon which is in view, since when this horrible spiritual carnage really occurs, the result is fatal and final. It is like playing with something till its use is gone. That then is all there is.
It is necessary not to taste but to swallow (as in John 6:51ff.), and then your nature is so changed (I John 3:9, Titus 3:5ff.), that a life of sin is now excluded. Sinner you still are; subject of sin you are not. That is what the Bible teaches (John 8:34-36, I John 1:7ff.). In Christ's own day on this earth, the people were often hardened, self-assured, cleverly adroit in seeking to avoid truth, playing with fire; and of course, they were burnt; in fact, their city was to be destroyed in about one generation from that time, as foretold (Luke 19:42ff.), with tears from the Christ about to die so that those of them who truly repented and actually received Him as one eats bread, might yet find life everlasting, city or no city.
It is therefore important if anyone is in danger of being in such a case, to review coolly and carefully where you are, what you are doing and why. A given person may not have reached the full maturity of this error, and it is only God who knows, so there may yet be hope. Further, if the person does not WANT it, then why grieve ? One may grieve for him, but if he does not want it, he gets what he wants. If he forsakes a preliminary knowledge of these things, so be it: he paddles but does not swim. He could not in all conscience join the life-savers' squad, if you want to put it that way.
If on the other hand, despite all his failings, he finds in the end that he does want to swim, to find Christ in reality, then it is available, and while the heart may be so marred that its time is over for all of this, yet in the grace of God, as in a cancer case, that point may not yet be quite reached. If not, then the desire is there, and the result is available.
If this helps, God be praised. If you wish to query something on our site, in order to gain and grow, please do.
Lastly, let me emphasise this, that if you really seek the Lord at some time, and do repent of sin and do seek His face and do receive His life-giving sacrifice as effecting a substitutionary payment for yourself, and do abhor yourself and seek mercy, and do put your trust in Him, and not in yourself or your nominee(s), that is a matter for encouragement. You CANNOT do that if you are excluded; so that if you do, you are not excluded. That is the good part of it all. God is not willing that any should perish, but does not strong-arm people, mere imitations of reality, into His kingdom either!
In any case, only God fully knows all that you have done in this sphere, but these are principles to watch, for they are not superficial, and the matter is not to be trifled with. Life has value, but it can be lost.
Do not reply if you do not wish. We are here to help, and help that is not wanted is just that! If it helps, we are glad; if not, so be it.
FOLLIES OF PHARAOH
SEEKING TO IMITATE AWESOME INPUT WITH PUT-PUT OF HUMAN CLEVERNESS
There may be others who are caught in this sort of trap, as outlined above. It is immensely sad when anything like this happens. One is reminded of Pharaoh of Egypt. He was going to SHOW this stupid Moses a thing or two. He would not have some alien adopted into his kingdom by a princess, now to feel free to be strutting around with orders from ANYONE, for him! No, power was power, and this world had for him its undoubted attractions, and he planned to be himself at any cost, to anyone. Saving your life in order to lose it is not the ostensible purpose; only the visible result.
As you read Exodus' early chapters on this matter, the thing reeks with just that spirit of contrariety and superiority which this world loves to affect. Pharaoh was asked for some religious liberty by a Moses sent from God to deliver His people, now living - since Joseph's day - in Egypt, and made into slaves. This they had bcome, instead of the most welcome visitors as they were at the first, when they came to join the now most exalted Joseph, in his new land. They had been given their own territory within Egypt, but now were scarcely free to enjoy it. Long had this horror replaced gratitude, on the part of Egypt. After all, it was through Joseph that they not only escaped a destructive famine, by prior storage in good seasons, but became very rich as well from the development, when others had to buy grain from them in the famine years.
When however Moses acquainted Pharaoh with the divine command from the God who made them all, to release His people go to hold a feast in the wilderness, thus putting the RELIGIOUS REALITY ABOVE the worldly power, the king would not listen. Indeed, he wanted the people fast back to work, and asked the overseers to make them have the same quota of bricks - for he liked to build on a vast scale - without being given straw. He then even had overseers punished, when the people could not make this greatly increased load.
Pharaoh's reasoning, if you could call it that, was this. If the people have time to think of religion and that sort or thing, clearly they are not sufficiently busy and need more work. That reminds one of the USSR and its pagan ceremonialism to gods that were not there, who conducted history in ways it would not go (cf. SMR pp.925ff.), and sought to make controls with no controller, and results with no cause (cf. Of the Earth, Earthy ... Ch. 4, Dastardly Dynamics ... Ch. 6, #2) . There was however, in the USSR, which effectually and in one case apparently verbally asked God to get out, bag and baggage ... plenty of cause for their humiliation which came after some 73 years.
This, it was not so long as reigns go; and after all, it was only because free nations helped it, or vice versa, that it gained the aid which overcame Hitler, whose reign, met jointly, was still shorter, perhaps 1933-1945. That was almost a record for such power, though Napoleon's French jaunt and gamut was not much better ... if you can justly speak of 'better' at all in such company. On this topic, see The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet Ch. 4.
Moses intervened with Pharaoh in God's name many times, first asking for liberty to go, then bringing on the plagues which betokened divine zest for the liberation of His people, as after all, first announced in terms of freedom of worship. It should be borne in mind that the sacrifices of the Jews could annoy Egytians since they had gods in all sorts of odd places, such as in cattle areas, so that sacrifice might seem lèse-majesté! (cf. Exodus 8:25ff.). Pharaoh would yield, but only as long as the plague lasted.
This resembles those States which insist that the religion be SUPERVISED and that the churches be REGISTERED, and that they do not go too far from the cultural norm, sick with sin though it may be! Three days' journey away from the place came to be the request of Moses, then, concerning the site for the sacrifice. Pharaoh, as usual in dynamic dictators, such as were in the USSR, in China and in other lands during the Inquisition (q.v.) which for so long made a mockery of any pretence of Romanism to relate to Jesus Christ, would not let this be. But his unyielding heart gradually was forced even to allow the children to go with them, though he had been most reluctant (Exodus 10:8ff.,24ff.).
This resembles those States, 'beasts' in the language of Daniel and Revelation, which act to miseducate the children, so that they conform to the cultural patterns of philosophy and configurations of religious perversity, and refuse to allow truth or light to enter into the matter. This is seen in violent violation in the USA, of course, was long seen in both Russia and China, and no doubt in their subsidiaries, tyrannically to be remoulded into the empty-headed, yet head-strong substitutes for reason*1 that appealed to the oppressors ; just as it is seen in prodigious parley with effete philosophy in South Australia as seen in TMR Ch. 8, noted in *1 below.
Is it any wonder that John Howard, the Australian PM*2, finds there is a coarsening in our society, an increased desire for violence, and that he is seeking for a restoration of 'decency'! If you feed fat, you are likely to suffer; if you feed fat-headedness, in the form of philosophic conundrums without any hope of validity*1, then do you expect sensitivity of spirit when they grow up ? but worse, if you feed for fat-heartedness in your philosophic crusade, anti-Christian and alien to all truth, in your schools, do you expect exquisite wisdom and restraint, self-control and appreciation of reality when they grow ? Do you want to live by miracles as if they have to counter-marshall what you create, or become a norm while you teach amiss!
Pharaoh was so insidious and perfidious that EVERY TIME a plague was withdrawn on the ground that he would let the people go, he broke his word, countered his command and insisted that the slaves continue to slave in his land. Cheap labour, monumental power, greater glory, imperial majesty, all were involved, as well as the very culture of that great power which Egypt then was, for which was wanted a certain wanton brilliance, that it might lead the world. It was therefore fitting that after many more trials and times, Egypt was to be totally and perpetually humbled. You see this development in Ezekiel 29:13ff.. For thousands of years now, this has been implemented, and those who have subjected or even subjugated Egypt have been many, from Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to Britain!
It was not so then; and in this, the history of that once so great nation is rather like the history of many individuals who, having seen some glimmer of the divine light, then renounce it before it penetrates into the depths of their hearts, and so become superficial wanderers, without meaning, without hope, without light and without base (cf. Ephesians 2:12). Those noted in Hebrews 6 and 10 were in some danger of this very thing, but their imminent wanderings from clear truth were interrupted, and there was a good hope that they would, though slow to receive, at length come into a sure and irrevocable faith such as the writer exhibits in Hebrews 11 (cf. Hebrews 6:9ff.). Indeed, then, when they so close with Him that there is total surrender and genuine salvation, not ephemeral volitions, then indeed they have Christ as their very ANCHOR in the heavenly places, assuring them of their ultimate result, just as by faith many receive it now (Hebrews 6:9-10).
Pharaoh however was not willing to bend even before the most prolific, terrific, impactive, ramifying evidence, no, not even when it became also devastating for his land. That unfortunately is the position that is now appallingly on the increase in many lands once more delightful than now they are. Pharaoh could not duplicate all the miracles of Moses, though he tried vainly and diligently to do so (cf. Exodus 8:19, 10:7). Thus does evolutionism, for example now, continue its hold whereas it is quite unable to duplicate the logical and evidential attestations which leave it wallowing in unfitness to survive. Yet the powers that be love its vainglorious unwisdom, apparently even more than life! It does indeed exact a toll as pride in race, or in the human race, or some other disgraceful substitute for the power of creation, leaves endless wars of hope, of pride and of developmental strategies, making their muddle-headed, muck-raking presence felt. If the head is soggy, the way is foggy. What would you expect! If the heart too is rampaging, and the spirit is rebellious against the Creator, why even talk of peace! You are at war
(cf. Dastardly Dynamics,
Delirious Daubs, Wandering Woes, Bleary Theories
and Immovable Faith Ch. 6).
When there is no vision, the people do indeed perish, and when you pay, pay, pay anyone who stretches out the hand, in order that he or she might smoke marijuana, or drink into oblivion or rowdyism, or ignore children in the process, or gain more money for more children while not caring for them properly, while others pay for this unwise outlet; and when you are so keen on liberty that you allow it to be from life itself, while death becomes the option, liberty misconstrued as mere licence: then you are in Pharaoh's danger. Your country is in danger of his country's eventual result. How many are the countries dangerously near to just such a syndrome ? Is not this one of them ? ...
Do not forget what wonders of the Lord had already been shown to Pharaoh's land, hundreds of years before. We recall this, as above. Thus when Joseph came, the REASON WHY he was given such eminence in the land was that he was honest, dutiful, verified in divine dealings before some of the Pharaoh's staff (however remiss one servant may have been about his responsibility to help him in return), that he interpreted a dream so aptly that the Pharaoh of the day believed him, and that it was then verified in the successive good and bad seasons, while grain was stored on the basis of the vision.
It enriched Egypt greatly, this foresight from the Lord, and indeed the people of Israel also came to live there; but the Egyptians chose to forget these dealings, and then ignored the negative ones when the Lord sought to intervene to deliver the Israelites in Egypt still, from the acute slavery to which, in fear of their power, they were subjected. Thus does Europe forget more and more the wonderful dealings of the Lord in spreading the Gospel among its peoples, and the courage and faith of so many who withstood the rebellion of Romanism, and gave their lives for their King, the Christ of the Kingdom of Heaven, who came not to crucify, but to be crucified! Nation and region, individual and society, it is in gross danger in our generation of just such flippant fancifulness as possessed the heart of that Egyptian Pharaoh.
Egypt had asked for it over centuries, and in drama and crescendo of captiousness as well. It got it at last. God is patient, which some interpret as weak; but it is not so. Love is not like that, as those who love will know.
So do many, individuals and societies, nations and cliques, clubs and camaraderies, ask for the blighting they receive; and often, resenting this, they ask for more.
That it might not be so in this land is a just desire; and that one should act to help deliver her is a righteous endeavour - as is our current endeavour in South Australia to awaken the government to its duty to science, to truth and to religion as detailed in TMR Ch. 8 and Worn-Out World and Coming King Ch. 4, and to liberate the children and youth from this mental slavery which they suffer.
No less it a good desire that those caught in the superficiality of much current religion, some even daring to call itself 'Christian', and no nearer to the biblical depiction than was the USSR to 'democracy', though it seemed to like the term, might be delivered before it is too late! God is patient, but not slack; He is loving but not a lover of licentiousness, moral, spiritual or carnal.
His INPUT in incarnation and incarceration, leading to the Cross (Philippians 2), in atonement for sin for all who receive it (II Cor. 5:17-21), is awesome. However as Hebrews 2 declares, How is there to be any escape for those who neglect so great a salvation!
Inordinate is the gift, but often, alas, inordinate also is the rebellion, one that flouts favour and ignores the exodus opportunity, preferring outrageous outages to the eventful outing from spiritual squalour to spiritual life that never ends (John 4:14), that has strength and vigour, guaranteed by grace (Romans 5:1-11), and is filled with the wonder of the fragrance which faith breathes, like upper air when one climbs mountains.
*1 Cf. TMR Chs. 1, 5, 8, SMR pp. 149ff., Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 7, News 84, Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 3, Secular Myths ... Chs. 7, 8, Earth Spasm Chs. 1, 7).
This is the report in The Advertiser, July 9, p. 3, 2004. It is of
course good that John Howard is calling for better vision, better norms, better
standards, better living, but with the call must come the means. Hence there is
change needed in INPUT, cultural, educational and moral; just as also the Gospel
itself, long the bastion of belief and the characterising dynamic in this land,
from its earlier days, must be proclaimed, and not some socially acceptable
cultural mulch with slight relevance to it.
(Cf. Importunity, Opportunity and Purity of Heart Ch. 6,
with Worn-Out World and Coming King Ch. 5, News 121, 122.)
Some more on this topic will be planned for the next chapter, in which remarks of another well-known Australian politician will be noted and considered for the case in point.