W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
AN OVERVIEW OF EVENTS PARTLY FROM A 1997 ACCOUNT
THE WORLD BELONGS TO GOD AND I AM HIS!
There follow nine accounts of divine deliverances,
which in turn related to Biblical promises and so come under this heading: BIBLICAL BLESSINGS.
The first of these appears in this chapter.
THE FIRST DELIVERANCE
THE VICTORY IS THE LORD'S
BUT HE IS GOOD AT SHARING
THE ACTION BEGINS
Many years ago, indeed nearly 45, there was a student for the Ministry in
, in a Presbyterian seminary. Long had the fires and follies of radical liberalism raged there, reducing much virgin forest to ashes; while as if this were not enough, the pride of flesh had invented world-wide the fabrications of phantasmal man, and these held sway, like waves (*1) surging over the Dutch lowlands in dangerous times. It was like the case in Australia where an inferno of bushfires in Summer was seconded by massive floods in Winter. Many were not prepared for either, and some even acted as if nothing were happening, and the toils and growth of the years were facilely expendable, a thing of nothing. Victoria
The Old Testament had been systematically misinterpreted with the absurd follies of Welhausen, and although these were perhaps beginning to be seen as... inadequate, being increasingly obviously anti-historical as well as peremptory, arbitrary and inconsistent, those facts were merely heralded a little in the rank attacks in the Classroom, which appeared like a record needle well stuck. We were told that in any case, one thing was sure (one might have hoped that this would
be the word of God, as written, as Jesus indicated and history has constantly confirmed, but
no!): it was this. Moses as the author of the body of the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the
Bible would never be returned to.
How cutting were Christ's own words in sublime answer to such folly - John 5:43-47!
"I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me;
if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.
"How can you believe, who receive honor from one another,
and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you -
Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"
Here we did not even have Moses believed! but certainly 'one who came in his own name' was believed with an unremittingly irrationality which bode ill for the church!
In fact, the manufacturers of religion, using God's name and that of Christ, dared to continue their toil and tirades alike. Many honour each other in the ecclesiastical ski-jumps of "inspiration" to follow some new thing, like the case of the men at
- Acts 17: but the honour of man is destruction when the word of God is the butt. Christ appealed to the writings of Moses as one of His own testimonies, for they testified of Him. Athens
Now this positive approach concerning the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) has in fact been returned to with a conspicuously large and impressive sway of scholarship, due to logic and history, and in some cases because of faith as well.
Thus this seminary statement of disfaith, just cited, concerning Moses
a) is itself shown to be just as poor as a prophecy as, by contrast, the word of God is demonstrated on all sides to be acute and accurate: indeed, consistently authentic in its forecasts, each one in its place as history moves. (On this, see SMR Chs. 1, 3, 8, 9, for example, including pp. 68ff., 378ff..The patient scholarship of men like Gleason Archer and E.J. Young has done much to attest these facts concerning the word of God and the word of man in the Old Testament. Almost endless examples appear throughout In Praise of Christ Jesus, our 141 volume theological set now on the web at http://webwitness.org.au.)
b) appears in the broader setting, in all its torrential passion, like a sudden cloud-burst.
That, incidentally, was how it sounded, back in the Classroom at that time. Anger seemed to furnish no bounds to fact, but even to replace it; and propositions without base appeared to flourish in this field, like unchecked weeds. Small wonder I was called on to attest the truth in the face of it all. It was a costly procedure but as necessary in direction as the work of Phinehas.
Professor James Orr, Professor in
, we were advised, had been a plague, or something like it, always seeking to show the harmony and consistency of Scripture. As a student, by courtesy of the Melbourne Principal, I was likened to him, in spirit: but it seems in one feature only: I was a pest. Did I not, though a lowly student, this candidate for the Ministry, have the brazen effrontery, the misguided "faith", the insidious certainty that constantly confronted and countered these attacks on the Bible with the text itself, with reality. "No doubt, Mr Donaldson will be able to tell us!", came one frustrated outburst from this, our instructor. Teaching was ... different in those days! Scotland
THE SURGING OF THE WAVES INCREASES BOLDLY
Meanwhile, exactly as a bacterial infection can follow a virus scourge, so a New Testament teacher came in to this blighted seminary, and to him, it seemed, the words of all four Gospels were mere symbols from which, shall we say, quasi-advanced scholarship could turn with confidence and with total power of reconstruction. When challenged as to the logical outcome of these desperate and unfounded surmises, these distant attempts at biography without the apostles, his answer was not apparent! The action of that institution, from the Class room of the Principal instead, however, this would soon become very apparent: indeed, it was to occur on the next day.
Thus the seminary was inconvenienced. Challenge interfered with its blithe program. Christ Himself inconvenienced the priests who killed him, who found that the people might follow the Lord just because of His speech and miracles, His benign presence and His remorseless power. What a disaster, they felt, this would have been. Lazarus' resurrection from their viewpoint, was completely intolerable therefore. However, history has been replete with disaster flowing from His neglect, for the Jew first, but also for the Gentile. Moreover in Luke 19 you find this same nuisance who had been getting in the way, predicting that destruction with that exquisite combination of pathos, tenderness, lament and historical certainty which flowed from the grace of Christ.
If they did it to Him, then, and the servant is not greater than His master, as Christ put it, with delightful but realistic irony: one thing was clear. This particular servant had reached maturity date. I had to go.
Soon in a thrust of irrational professorial fury, I had words put into my mouth: illicit logic at the personal level was indulged in, and as it were, bound and trussed with slander and libel, with the consent of the other teachers, I was removed. First it was from Class, then from seminary, and from the financial support, and then from a good name as the libels mounted, again like the waves on the Dutch lowlands when the waters enter, or if you will, like the
Yellow River, 's sorrow, in flood. Thus and therefore, the inexpedient pupil was extinguished, so it seemed, by the dragon's water supply (let him who has Revelation ears, esp. for its Chapter 12, hear). For a further account of this development and seminary event, see News 57, Endnote 3! China
Now I say this for the encouragement of other students; for after all, we HAD BEEN EXPRESSLY CHALLENGED IN CLASS to resist and if we were able, falsify (*1A) this sort of teaching.
For the doctrinal arena involved, and its total destruction as false teaching, in this case in the book of Daniel, see Ancient Words: Modern Deeds Ch. 10, and for its general place in the devil's warehouse, see Ch. 12 op. cit. The unanswerable character of the answer to this doctrinal deviation at the seminary, was doubtless no small part of the thrust behind the assault on myself as student, accepting and overthrowing challenge to the book of Daniel's integrity. There is as there was no answer to the exposure of this infamous false doctrine. Fury was the substitute. Answer to my counter-challenge never occurred. The waters of will overflowed the sand--bags, which many worked to remove, and flooded the ecclesiastical countryside.
The word of God, however, and this is what mattered, this still stood, untouched.
It stood as it always stands, since it is the word of God, and as to Him, He is alive (cf. Luke ). Praise to Him is factual as well as fervent. Fact and fervour unite to praise Him and of course, His word, since although some seem to forget it, our God can speak. Indeed, our own utility with expressive symbols has arisen from His won, as has the equipment to record and the spirit with which to accord it personal meaning, that perquisite of spirit. The Lord is immensely and intensely praiseworthy, wholly faithful and of illimitable resource! Thus the book of Daniel stood and remained triumphant in the seminary, but this particular student, your present writer, was sacrificed.
What however is a solider for ? is he to be unexpendable who fights ? Let us then return to the battle.
This sort of teaching; THAT was an explicit test given to us on pain of acknowledging we lacked intellectual integrity. One might have hoped that a response would receive better than this, foul play. However, in all fidelity to the Lord whom I know, I did respond to that public challenge made to the students: I did that as permitted. Indeed, it seems, I did it much too well, by the grace of the Lord whose promises have never failed, never do fail and never will fail. As later in the New Zealand of 1966, no other seemed from the Biblical basis, to meet the challenge. Why ? What had become of that very faith which the Westminster Confession as subordinate standard of the Church had outlined, and by which beyond that, in Biblical blessedness multitudes had lived, and in terms of which this very Church had been brought into being in 1901!
What now! I had been converted by the power of God to the Lord Jesus Christ, called most explicitly by the wisdom and grace of God into the ministry of the word of God and the proclamation of the Gospel, framed through Staff, betrayed by my fellow students (consciously or not); and with the tempests of outlandish attacks mounting against me, what hope was there for a continuance of that CALL to the MINISTRY which GOD ALMIGHTY in the name of JESUS CHRIST had given me! It looked grim, but my God lives for ever, has even conquered death, and He gave me a most exquisite joy, ebullient and radiant (cf. I Peter 4:13-14).
The interpretation of that Peter passage I found in my own heart with abundant vigour. How great is the living God and how reliable His word!
Would God Almighty call, and not effect His call ? would someone's temper and intemperance become an embargo on the call of God ? Scarcely, but faith was needed that the power of the living God being invoked, it should move mountains. Indeed, there is no mountain too much for Him, and the impossible is merely so in faithless systematics, constructed about man: it is not so before God! A near relative of mine, an unbeliever, once said at this period, that it would be a miracle (following the drastic action taken against me on false grounds), if I were ever to be returned to the ministry in the Presbyterian Church. I was returned, and it was a miracle! God is the God of miracle, and many have I seen in His profound mercy in my pilgrimage. They do not come cheap, but tend to occur in the midst of battle. Yet by grace they come when He will.
That reminds one of the case of an ophthalmologist of note, who seeing a serious condition in my right eye (following an impact) declared, as he considered three options in treatment, that NONE of them could rectify the matter.
I asked him if this meant that it would require a miracle for the eye to be restored without an operation (which would leave an unhealed hole in the eye, as the 'solution'). He affirmed that it would so require. No other solution was possible. In a day or two, my son anointed me with oil (as an elder in line with James 5:14ff.), and we prayed with all solemnity, for I needed the eye if I were to continue writing as I had to do, labouring expressly for the love and glory of the Lord. A sound eye, despite my age, was needed for those very substantial ocular toils. It was this, and not a vulnerable basis as the doctor pointed out, for infection, which would result from the operation he had in mind as the only solution. You would have, he declared, to come in to see in any case, whether inflammation was that or infection! It was good that the Lord caused the matter to be put so baldly: the case was very plain.
Two or three days later, I returned to the specialist, with the operation hanging over my head like a crowd of wasps. Through miraculous healing, and divine grace, and that beautiful co-operation with which the Lord adorns friendship, and enlivens work, the pressure in the eye had reduced from around 40mm of mercury, to 18mm, within the normal range. Later it went down to around 12. Over time, indeed, so perfect was the healing that in a driver's licence test for eye capacity, not only did it reach the level of 20/20 vision, but in another scale, 6/5, or better than normal perfect vision. Assuredly the Lord is both good and thorough. But let us return to the time of the miracle. How I have appreciated this continued mercy in sight!
The specialist then identified it as a minor miracle, but my own Christian doctor had no doubt, 'That was a miracle!' he affirmed, in line with the specialist's own preliminary statement. Empirical facts are just that!
With God, NOTHING is impossible, and He can and does perform what is needed for His work, His glory and this as His mercy and wisdom desires. There are no limits to His power, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge and kindness, whether in creation or in restoration, in conversion or in regeneration, in things great or small, like the desert flowers.
It is however in the area of saving faith and His promises, that the thing is defined at this level!
As to the call to the Ministry which I had received before all this, because of which I was in seminary: it was a call which had been recognised by the Church before this confrontation, before this raising of a banner for the truth had been required of me (Isaiah 59 gives the concept of such a banner). After all, it is required of a man that he be faithful, and Peter and John have made it perfectly clear, even to the High Priest himself, that we ought to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:18-20, 5:26-29), and I had done this! What then would THE LORD do, in His mercy, grace, favour and faithfulness? He did what was necessary. He did it in His own way: it is GOD who does it HIS way.
Then came deliverance, for God does deliver, has delivered and will deliver, and from every evil work to His heavenly kingdom (II Corinthians 1:10, II Timothy 4:17-18). I have believed that, do believe that, have preached that even in seminary and act on it, finding it true, for He is faithful altogether.
At that time, a very old man was friendly to me, and he had a huge library which afterwards I believe he donated to an Anglican seminary. Amongst his books, which I found useful in my confrontation at the Presbyterian seminary in Christ's name, was one called The Infallible Word. In those days, such works of a contemporary and scholarly kind were not as common as undoubtedly they are today. In some ways, this was rather a 'darkest hour' situation.
To that seminary in the USA I wrote, and from them eventually, after I had by the power and mercy of God continued my University studies in Sydney (and that involved a separate deliverance), received an invitation to come in order to finish my course for the Bachelor of Divinity in Philadelphia, so qualifying for licensing and ordination. This, in fact duly, but not without more drama from assailants and detractors, ensued.
The delightful, and indeed I feel deliciously off-hand way in which this whole train of events came to pass is edifying. By simply seeking where I could find scholarly materials which were to the point in my conflict with unbelief about the Bible, as defined in the Westminster Confession and indeed within the Bible itself (see Appendix D and Ch.1 of the Confession), there it was. I had found the answer to the vocational question, following my expulsion. I did indeed meanwhile count it an honour to have been permitted to suffer, in name and in vocation, for so great a Person as that incarnation of the Godhead, Jesus Christ, who has in this neither predecessor nor successor, for there is no other name given among men under the whole heaven, by which we must be saved; and as to the Lord, He says: I am the Saviour, there is no other! (Acts -12, Isaiah 43:11, Ephesians 1:10).
It was for God Himself I had been acting; and in His faithful graces He acted for me, for He says, "Those who honour Me, I shall honour" (I Samuel 2:30). Hence when my cable went to Westminster Theological Seminary concerning my academic results, back came the thrifty deliverance:
'Westminster Acceptance Confirmed'.
Soon on the aircraft for scores of hours to Philadelphia, I was able to reflect also on the miracle of the supply of the necessary US currency (for US dollars were governmentally restricted in their supply to Australian citizens in those days, and I had to make application, which in the circumstances was not easy, but I told the Bank the facts, and they acted).
SO HE LED THEM
TO THE DESIRED HAVEN –
On arrival in what looked vaguely like a snow-bound castle - I believe it was on a Saturday, I found no Staff, but an English student and others who showed me to the basement with its huge pipes conducting steam throughout the 'castle'. Soon I found that with 2 others, one of whom later became a Professor in the seminary, I was housed below the surface of the earth. In that land, however, perhaps these things are routine. In my final year, I even had a room with a view, looking across the snowy gardens, and with much pleasantness.
One day I resolved to do a little athletics, so ran on the oval, only to find on return that there was something lacking: I did not seem to possess any arms in terms at least of feeling: the snowy clime had little use for this health regimen.
In many matters, however, I prized the seminary instruction, which came from men like John Murray and E.J. Young, also John Skilton, whose vision and power were noteworthy; and from Meredith Kline whose kindliness and courtesy were so pleasant; as indeed from Cornelius Van Til, whose delicate and sometimes blatant humour and ironic oddities were such a relief and pleasure, just as his boldness in Christian Apologetics was so welcome.
In some other things, not so Biblically founded, I could not agree, giving reason; and in the Old Testament field, both professors for their part, were impressive in their willingness to hear non-amillenial presentation: but much good was done in the rigorous student climate, with strong expectations. Once I sat an examination, using only the Hebrew Bible, quite unaware that the English Bible was permitted in it. One seemed to think this very scholarly of me, perhaps, but in fact I was painfully disadvantaged by it in that case.
However, all was passed, and eventually the B.D. came, and the B.A. from
, and the adventures of return to my oppressed homeland arose. It is oppressed still; but at least in the mercy of the Lord, it has had one more voice to call it to arms, to the arms of Christ, to the armour of Christ, and to enterprise in His name, as this belaboured country reels politically, morally and religiously (*2). Melbourne University
For the doctrinal arena involved, and its total destruction as false teaching, in this case in the book of Daniel, see Ancient Words: Modern Deeds Ch. 10. The unanswerable character of the answer to this doctrinal deviation at the seminary, was doubtless no small part of the thrust behind the assault on the author as student, accepting and overthrowing challenge to the book of Daniel's integrity. It stood as it always stands, since it is the word of God, and as to Him, He is alive (cf. Luke 21:15). To praise Him is factual as well as fervent. The Lord is immensely and intensely praiseworthy, wholly faithful and of unlimited resource!
In those days, the phases of philosophy held an almost fatal fascination for many. Books of small worth poured out of the Presbyterian Bookroom (along with better ones); fashion was intellectual dissidence, movement FROM the Bible to whomever and to whatever.
The storms of turbulent self-will, like a tempestuous whirlpool, allowed fancies without foundation, inconsistent with themselves and the facts, to draw spiritual flotsam and jetsam, and larger objects, unmoored too, into their raging tumult, dragged down to the depths without light and without air, to the bottom of mud or sand, without distinction, without discretion, with no meaning except defeat.
It reminds one of Jude with his "raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame". The word of God is very categorical about the irrational fantasies which swell vainly (II Peter -19,3:4, Isaiah , Matthew -20), about their origin and, unless mercy intervene, their fate. Such movements ever old, ever new, appear like storms and subside... until the next, creating havoc for the unwary, the unsheltered and the wayward.
The Bible is equally categorical about its tenor and truth, its precision and its divine pronouncement without disturbance, distortion of invention of man. (Cf. Appendix D, The Shadow of a Mighty Rock.) This fact is basic to many more. Thus some traditional denomination may, through the infestation of devilish doctrines and damnable heresies, decide to have a FORM of sound words, without adhering to the FACT of what they say. Such is the predicted course of events, to reach climacteric proportions in the last days (II Timothy 3:1-5).
Some ecclesiastical bodies may resolve, with more or less duplicity and casuistry, to act in this way, follow this penchant; and some in doing so are subtle and suave, some more trenchant. They first SAY the Bible is true, is God's word, and so on, depending on how much they wish to detract; and then in some sense of progressive or developmental theology, some evolution of receptors - you name it, the ‘result’, like a chef’s creation, will be neither Biblical nor true. Then will they proceed to say something quite different from what is written. It is the old approach of division by steps, habituation and the deployment of increasing indifference with insatiable desire to mutate the Gospel, the word of God or His ways and witness.
This, to take the obvious case of female elders (see A Question of Gifts, pp. 17, 101-112, A Spiritual Potpourri, Chapters 7 and 8, pp. 147-164), means practical business at once. Thus I Timothy 2 with Acts 20 make it crystal clear that to woman is not given in the church, the authority to rule over men; and that elders are to do just that, in the sense of being supervisory agents with a limited but real judicial role. Especially and explicitly for woman, does this negation apply to anything in the area, in the arena of teaching, which to the church, for them is excluded; while for all who are in fact elders, we find in Acts 20, the supervisory authority is notable; nor can duties in teaching be excluded from elders, whether or not they are outstanding in that category (Titus 1:5,7-9).
Specialities may vary; all that oversight involves however is the liability and responsibility of every elder; while for woman, directive authority over man is excluded. Nor is an event in Eden made the ground of a woman not sinning, as if it needed this criterion; it is to the contrary, the stated ground of differentiation in the roles of men and women as defined. Nor is silence in the Church the environment for instruction! The case is not in the least unclear. Women with authority over the people in a church may exist, but not in the mind and the will of God.
IF a denomination BELIEVES the Bible in the sense of Matthew 5:-21 and II Peter -21, what then ? Then they should reflect on the minute accuracy to which the author is committed, and on the fact that the REASON why the Bible is not of private origin or interpretation, is just this: that GOD MOVED men, as a wind moves ships, so that the "prophecy NEVER came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
Why is it not of private origin or character ? What does the
to be the cause of this result ? For THIS reason, that the God who gave it did so in such a way, as there stated, that the writers were not able to intrude their wills. Hence it is what it is: the word of God. Otherwise it might be an interesting cultural museum piece of cultural assumptions, presumptions, psychic cliques and tics and so forth, an excellent excursus for a Ph.D., but wholly indeterminable as to what God might have said. THIS is PRECISELY what Peter and Christ remove, as does Isaiah 34, 8:20, I Corinthians 2:9-13, as shown in the Appendix noted. Bible STATE
Hence the whole clamant confusion on this very simple topic, which is culturally separated to the beginning in Eden, as explicitly found in Timothy, which bases it on an episode which is by its nature unrepeatable (cf. Romans 5:1-4), is decisive. Emotional upset and contrary changes in church polity here are merely a reflection of an unbiblical view of the Bible. To put it differently, since as we have shown the Bible is in fact what God has to say to mankind: it is based on the classic rebellion syndrome. It is therefore QUITE sufficient ground for leaving a denomination, and has NOTHING to do with the individual's private views on marriage, women or anything else, but on the word of God.
It is to be believed and done, because God is rather more to be believed than any of us; infinitely more, because infinitely wiser, and incomparably good.
Blessing ? Yes this is our topic so note it here. Isaiah 66:2 -
- "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and who trembles at My word".
For the blessing of the Lord, to be looked upon heard, considered, what a relief and what joy, what comfort and what privilege! The FEAR of the Lord is CLEAN, so that Peter directs, "Fear God!" But who loved Him more than Peter ? It was admittedly the subject of a very direct conversation between Peter and Christ (John 21), but of the answer there is little doubt.
We are not in the business of categorising God's love, and designating degrees of it in man; but God may do so if He wishes, and one of the criteria is this, straight from the mouth of Christ:
"He who has My commands and keeps them, he it is who loves Me.
And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself
to him" - John .
Again He says in verse 23:
"He who does not love Me does not keep My words, and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me."
Blessing ? Match that, if you love God! If you do not, you love what is less, more than it deserves, and do not love even your own soul. In fact, ALL WHO HATE ME LOVE DEATH! says the wisdom of God (Proverbs ).
The commandment which matters most is the first one, to love God with all your heart; and when you do, how much of it is left to compete with HIS words!
To be sure, hypocritical Pharisees may be great on appearance, but before God, the reality is discerned. One way appearance is countermanded is this: that man ADDS to God's word, his own traditions (Mark 7:7ff.), and another that he subtracts according to his own demissive desire. Revelation 22 with Deuteronomy 4 and 12 make quite clear what God desires, as does Isaiah 8:20. Manufacturing the word of God and minimising its impact alike are not wise. People who manufacture other men's words, in this are in general liars and slanderers. It is not a good area to enter!
To be sure, you can keep commandments reluctantly, and have chafing within, but this is better than disobeying; and again, such grumpiness is not lovely, but the discipline is not unlovely. Song of Solomon 5 shows such a case, but where the love is real, so is the ultimate response, which focusses on the Lord Himself, but not minus mouth!
Again, there is an important distinction between the MATTER to be done and the METHOD by which it is done. Thus many are the ladies who could contribute well to the counsels of the Church. One has found in general that it is often the lady who has the sensitive perception in the area of personal developments and social relationships. Far does the removal of authority over all in the Church, under Christ and His word, mean that such counsel is not to be used. If ladies who are now elders, if it seemed good, were made into counsellors or deaconesses, whose advice could be sought, there is no question of authority there, but simply of function.
Such a solution to the current situation is simple and readily executed.
and Sodom complain that contra-design use of reproductive equipment was not regarded as being quite so normal, nice or necessary as design usage ? or insist that it should be so well-regarded... in addition to their well known practice ? It is by no means certain that they went so far. What is certain is this: the Bible says - Woe to them who call good evil, and evil good! (Isaiah 5:20). It is most unpleasant to see one's land basking in the sermonettes on immorality in this and other matters, which become the new morals, founded like the abyss, on nothing (cf. Deuteronomy 32:15,17,21, Isaiah 5:18-21, I Corinthians 6:9, Revelation 21:8). Gomorrah
To remind of these things is not only to contribute to the reduction of Aids, in all statistical probability, but a realistic prelude to offering the mercy of Christ. By this, received in repentance, these things and all offensive to God may be removed from the log, and covered in the sacrificial death of Christ. Thus the beauty of holiness and the life in Christ can proceed. NOT to remind is like the watchman who ... didn't watch. It is simply not fair to the city to do that. Popularity does not create morals, nor does parliamentary vote, when as so often, the question is God or Baal, the Author of man or that which is not god!