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THE GRANDEUR of GOD
From Creation to Consecration
from Salvation to Illumination
from Truth to Contemplation
from Love to Longing
THE GRAND SCOPE OF THE DIVINE DESIGN
What! the reader may perhaps expostulate, has contemplation to do with God, let alone with His grandeur. There are always likely to be, in any congregation, those who find some pastoral remark, advice, counsel or presentation an occasion for some degree or measure of testiness.
Well does one recall one lady in Canada, referring to a rather delightful and godly pastor in terms of some displeasure, including the point she did not like his having a little salesman's moustache, or something along those lines.
However, in this instance, it is just a simple matter of understanding. The ABILITY OF man to contemplate is certainly a work of God, showing the eminent brilliance of His hand by His handiwork.
It is the work of GOD that man is able to be, in the first place, that engineered wonder, that architectural joy, that systematic splendour, that acme of creativity, enjoying liberty in proportion to closeness or alienation in spirit, relative to the Creator.
As in all creations, the degree of liberty depends directly on the extent of disciplined regard to its nature, or limits, or functions, and care with its dangers. When there is a self-motivated creation, then disagreeableness to its Creator becomes necessarily a loss of liberty. On the contrary, imbuement with His desires, whose it is, results in maximal liberty, releasing more fully and aptly what it is designed to be. When, as with man, that is something in the very image of God, and hence to some extent and in some regards, self-determinative, then alienation from God becomes institution of belligerent brio, disruptive passion, dispersive dysfunction and interference with each other, leading to confusion, misstatement, discharges and false charges.
That having been said, the integrality of the design, its robustness and its eminence shows itself despite all these negatives of abuse and misuse, thus exhibiting to an even greater extent, the grandeur of the Creator who minted such marvels.
It is ALSO the work of God, you might almost say the labour, that man is not only able to ponder precepts, analyse choices, self-project values, conceive ideas, but determine between them, for good or for evil, as a person. It is not man's insanity which makes him moral and morally sensitive, as if an obviously ludicrous category were manufactured in the face of facts, but man's designation as design, so that what it is for, becomes what is its meaning and method by implication. Where what it is framed for, is fellowship with God, as consummative of its very being, then attack on God or on His ways or on the design's ways constitute immorality.
That God has prepared us with such diligent care, conscientious patterning, and meticulous even prodigious programmatics, linked to personal capacities to commune, or not, fellowship with Him, or not, communicate, or not, contemplate or deviate, is however, though approaching infinity in its scope (for ANY capacity in ANY regard to relate to the Infinite God requires work in that dimension, for the interface, if you want to use analogy to cover apt communicative facility), is far less than He has done. But of that, more anon. It is sufficient to observe now that the scope of man, which brings in a multitude of disciplines, some notorious for initial and abstract indiscipline (cf. SCIENTIFIC METHOD, SATANIC METHOD and the MODEL OF SALVATION), has that rollicking majesty of design which distinguishes the Creator, unique in power and conception.
As to the often systematic indisciplines in the corroded cultures of man, when these are used in educating the young, they maximise the stress on this magnificent creation, mankind: but do not confuse the thing created and the work of creating it, however: it is the latter which is the surpassing magnificence! Let us however, bypass the extraordinary (but not unlimited ... designs have limits cf. Isaiah 57:15) resilience given to man, that his freedom might be more than ostensible, and show its claws, flaws and beauty, depending on the nature of its use, while stressing its testimony as a work of splendid creation, and consider further the positive features, free of abuse. It is these that are granted to man, and for the many, await their fulfilment, like films awaiting development of their pictures, and though over-exposures are rife, the nature of the film is our present theme.
AND THE MODEL OF CREATION IN MAN
Thus there is considerably more than this involved, in creation of man, in the correlated codes, supervising strengths and spiritual dimensions of our race, each person, one at a time. It is indeed very much the work of God that in making all that we have just traced, He made also the very PERSON which reflects man's spirit, and becomes different WITH the choices as do rocks which meet fierce gales, seas or eathquakes: depending on their placement. It is a matter of mutual interaction. IF you choose some woeful folly, then this reacts on YOU, and so affects your very capacity to choose, the light you are given and the understanding you retain, or lose. CHOICE becomes more a matter of detached will in the dark; and darkness becomes more intense as the light meant for man, that of the Lord, is despised, as in the case of soldiers preferring to work, without maps, in the darkness of some acidic haze. The WILL to choose remains, but its nature, effectiveness and even meaning become ... more and more obscure.
Therefore the PERSON which man, each one, consists in, has a myriad of influences, spiritual, moral, ethical, physical, mental, and these, depending on abuse or use, soundness or mere revolt, affect the person, changing the spiritual topography, as when meteors blast the moon, or asteroids the earth.
What it is, becomes ... different. Thus what it can do, becomes diversified; and impact on design, is rarly beneficial, and on perfect design, never so.
It is rather like dynamically interactive simultaneous equations, in which not mathematical quantities, but personal qualities are operational modes. In a word, sin affects spirit and spirit changes in sin, while darkness blights the means of life by light, and confusion becomes not the less so because of pragmatic progress, when wisdom for the use of the progress, is as past as Eden, the flood or the Cross.
Let us then review it.
Thus the work of CONTEMPLATION, by man, involves first, his being created in the image of God, so that truth is even conceivable (such as the 'truth' that he does, or does not, see it this way or that, and is or is not capable of making logically valid assessment at all, depending on the nature of his imagined systems, which cannot provide what they deny, and the nature of the real environment in God), other than operational observations.
Man conceives he can reach the truth (even when he declares it true that there is no truth, and other misologies), precisely because it is true, instilled, inbuilt, environmentally correct, though operationally not autonomously available (because of sin, the breach of the connection by which it comes). It is not because he is inane that he so conceives; it is because he is sinful, and having the natural functionality, as essential equipment, to find truth, he continues to do so as an aim. It is rather like an amputee who, having no legs, yet FEELS that he has. It is not madness, just the residual result of the fact that he was made with them, but now has lost them.
Next the creation of man, that grand act of God, requires that he should, being created, have the whole array of spiritual, moral, ethical and evaluative capacities which make contemplation something other than movement in a void, by a reactor: that is, meaningful as such. In particular, there is what is called consciousness, by some popular articles, as if this were some mystery, some confluence of electrical or other components, from which it is as far as is an opera singer's sound track from her personality and comprehending milieu, back of its mere means of transference, whether to the outer world, or to any others at a distance.
Consciousness, so mysterious to man, is simply the illuminative experience of the spirit of man by which the components of his person, will, rationality, feeling, understanding, personal qualities and spiritual realities are known. It HAS TO BE what contains all the grounds of each of these as a butt, as a creation, as a conveyance. It does not create such diversities and dynamics, but it must allow them to meet and have confluence, affluence or dissonance, to be subjectible, scrutinisable, seen in sequence and in antithesis, and in all the array of all of the aesthestic, moral, logical, metaphysical, spiritual and personal aspects of which man is not a function, but a confluence. In person, he is an integrality (not an integration, which would suggest a bringing together of bits), a designate totality for a purpose: to know God, and follow Him; or divest himself of his Creator, and so follow the Challenger rocket, in symbol.
The equipment, as in a tape recorder, is present to enable the storage units and conveyors of various kinds to have a PLACE, for part of man is a place; and the spirit which activates that equipment is present, as the experient, the user, to which this is all directed, and for whom constructed. This too, it is a marvel of interface, and a wonder of symbiosis, the spiritual and the mental, the mental and the physical, the notational and the knowledgeable, the empirical and the rational, the moral and the mental, the personal and the environmental. However it follows from two things: the place-time scope for man, and the spiritual basis for his meaning, in a designed confluence and configuration which is operative with an agility and facility which enables thought to cover volumes of ideation, in a moment, to soar and to strangle evil, to gain wit and to secure enterprise, swooping and diving like an eagle on the wing. The wings it did not make; but it surely uses them!
All of this, the substantial realities and the means of their utilisation, in turn requires that the agent in these actions be in existence as such, not merely in thought, let alone someone else's thought. Somebody might try to imagine you, and by empathy and drugs, imagine he or she IS you; but the case is very different when somebody tries to make you think that you are independent when you are merely one of his thoughts.
In that case, the 'you' to deceive has actually to BE there, in order to be deceived. It is more to the point to make you think that you are not there, in this way or that, which is most common, and a grand game of the devil, from his viewpoint, that you are not responsible, in some reductionist ridicule of what you are, which being swallowed becomes the spiritual potassium cyanide which with many others, results in man's death, and hence defective liberty, as more and more resembling a drifting hulk, sometimes using an outboard motor to reposition itself slightly, and then in a relapse even in spiritual death, to pride, thinking this is quite an achievement. Of this kind, in no small measure, is man's launching of himself into space (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri Ch. 3).
Thus PERSON must be created, with all its vulnerabilities, abilities and scope for vanity, pride, humility, watchfulness, prudence, discretion, ILLUMINATION by the Lord, love and longing. In all of this, there is an enormous combination, correlation and integration beyond all system, to enable the unit called man to act as one, directively with knowledge and some measure of understanding (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Six Dimensions).
These things being done by the labour of the Lord, they therefore, as in any construction, attest the power and nature of the Creator. Even the abuse of such powers merely, from this aspect, emphasises their reality, that they are not just potential, but capable of activation with predictable and for that matter, predicted results (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9). .
Architects are creators, surgeons co-operate with God in creation, since their constructive cutting is useless unless there be ultra-skill healing as a principle, past the scope of surgery. Authors are creators, and dancers, and so on. Their products attest their minimal intelligence, or profound genius, and all in between, as the case may be.
THESE products of God, which we have the blessed wonder to be, ourselves, each man, woman and child of our race, with our model, our image, our translation from divine mind to human kind, from divine conception to human creation: they have something. What is it ?
THE EYE OF LONGING
What do they attest ? Take the LONGING for a moment. One sees it often in the eye of youth, as it looks for some example, some lead, some lord, some experience, some ground, some rock, some meaning, something to admire, some example to make exemplar, and in the end, with or without ever even realising it, for God. When cynicism betrays the creation's scope, then this is like a premature funeral . When scepticism infills like specious spiritual AIDS, the life, then there is a little more hope, since to doubt what is undoubtably worthy of doubt, is a very good idea. When however the capacity to discern between grounds for doubt and indubitable irrationalities, then the scepticism begins to set in, like migrating, colonising cancer, and short of a miracle, the goose is cooked. For a human to become a goose, this is a tragedy. (On all of which things, see SMR Ch. 3.)
However, to our present point, the very fact that there can be tragedies of this order, or escape from them, and vitality of penetration and thought in the issues and their arrival at their various and several destines, this is part of the creation of GOD. What SORT of creation ? what grandeur or meanness is to be seen in the Creator from this ?
The meanness, alas, is in the fading vision, as shades of the prison house grow upon the growing youth; but the real, the operative, and in a limited sense, the determinative prison-house is this, the spirit. If it is clammy and contained in its concrete pre-conceptions, misconceptions and self-protections, or projections as the case may be, then meanness is indeed about. There is desecration instead of consecration, and ruin instead of reality. There is, in short, a smash.
Does one however determine the quality of the car manufacturer, because some driver has a smash ? Do you consider that a Holden Commodore, in two pieces about an oak tree, is shown a derelict creation ... or do you the rather consider it a foolish or evilly wrought desecration, with the silliness of the drunkenness, with speed, inattention or drugs, as may have been the case, of the one who so MISUSED the vehicle ? To ask, is to answer.
Thus the sin which sunders in spirit from the Creator is indeed a mean thing; but it is NO MEAN THING to make it so! With what ease the oak tree beside the road of life may be invaded by the frilly silliness of the young or old, for that matter! In the case of the young, it is just often the more poignant because the car was young, if you will, and glossy, and had such ... potential.
The potential God has made; the wreckage relates to man's spirit of rebellion, of spiritual, moral, ethical or mental promiscuity, of leaning on paper walls and standing on piercing nails, those of nihilism, which knows as truth that there is nothing, and so has something on which to place this conception, which is anything but nothing, and so with the rest, the whole list of devious desecrations of reason and verified actuality. It is a vacuous exploration in space that should be filled with rational reality, not with irrational absurdities (cf. SMR Ch. 3 in contrast to SMR Ch. 5, and Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host, The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy).
Thus, the potential comes to grief with repeated smashes ? Of course. It is a marvel, however, that with the scope for folly of almost meteorological vastness, and labyrinthine intricacy in that wonder of creations, the human mind, following the lead of the spirit of its life, to whatever end, destiny, desire, dereliction or construction it seeks: that there is yet such resilience, and part of this resilience is in the continuation of longing, not mere wishing, but aspiration with animation, seeking with inspiration which, however, like so many missiles, without divine intervention, falls in hapless defeat of nobility, to the ground.
A man may fall seven times, and yet not be a write-off: to speak of it in automobile terms. A thousand follies may beset his steps like packs of hungry wolves, and yet he may be delivered by illumination, following salvation, following repentance, following realisation, BECAUSE there is with the package called protoplasm, and the marvel, called mind, and the spirit often seen as the person: a remedy.
It is not just a principle, for of what use is a mere principle when the person is so corroded by sin, corrupted by cynicism because of lost hope, invaded by irrationality by reason of deflated pride, that the response is like that of a flat battery in a winter snow-storm, when the car is half-buried and is visited after a pleasant night indoors.
It HAS principles, to be sure, but these are naturally propounded (for we do not believe in magic, but logic, as an operating procedure, since it is continually verified and integrable with all else on all sides - cf. Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer). Even scientific method, specialised and delimited though it is, helps here. To find the cause, you do not seek it where it is systematically and on all sides denied in the operational world of events, and the necessary world of rationality (cf. SMR Ch. 1).
You look for it in the site where it is indicated in terms of the interfaces of reality, the combinations of necessity, always keeping your mind open for the attestations of actuality. You find it here, where what is capable in all these spheres systematically, mathematically, creatively, integrally, synthetically, in oversight and insight, where law is not lord but a means to the ultra-legal, and where liberty is not deterministic denial, but over law, so that disposability of the will can arise, and perception of denials of liberty can be tested, attested and applied (cf. Predestination and Freewill, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9, Little Things Ch. 5). It is not principle but mental, spiritual, moral and creative potentate which is required, free of all harassment, being creator of the created, and basis of the invented, and its director, so that neither matter nor any other created thing has more relevance to His power than does a novel, to an author.
For this in detail, see SMR Chs. 1, 10. While this is intensely humbling to the would-be autonomous and autogenous reckless irrationalities of beleaguered man, the humbling must be received, or else the fall is augmented by self-deception.
FANTASY, FACT AND FULFILMENT
There are principles indeed, but not autonomous ones, for they are part of the creation on account of the Creator, who like any author, has placed them there. Because however man is in the divine image and THEREFORE able to consider, reason, correlate and contemplate in the divine sphere, yes and test and verify, these principles are not merely created, but derivate from the ultimate truth of Him without whom there could not logically BE any absolute truth - such as the conception that there is no absolute truth, and that this is ... true, merely one of the antinomies of rebellion, and the antics of logical oblivion which follows spiritual decline.
The principles obviously include accountability, responsibility and self-actualisation as ultimate, or surrender from sin to realism, as necessary. These things are, in one sense, horribly simple. If you want to pretend laws make liberty, and their absence (chance) makes laws and so forth, it is your wonderful option. That is the profundity of your Creator as attested in His creation. You can be just silly, profoundly philosophical absurd, or a willing scholar of the truth. What a creation is this that has such privileges, which no robot can find! For the robot, in the end, whatever the procedures SET UP, it is UNDER them, and even if it is to choose between options, it is in terms of OUTCOMES set for it.
With robots, you cannot escape the deterministic, though of course, it is not necessarily the mechanistically deterministic; it is for all that, at the very least, the creatively deterministic, since YOU provide for it the whole set of parameters in terms of which it is to secure what you want, by whatever means. Even if you wanted to make it want what it wanted, not what you wanted, it is what you wanted that leads to your desire for it to be thus, so that it is always circumscribed.
Only God can make what is not limited, since He is not, by parameters which preclude exposure to absolute truth, liberties, surely to play-act as if god, and yet, to follow this through, the very nature of such a creation creating such avenues. Again, they cannot WORK, but they can be tried, and efforts to FORCE them to work can be made, so that truth becomes a verified thing, and life a blackboard for the lecture called history.
In the meantime, man as creator, however evil in some applications, is a prodigious thing of marvellous mind and grandeur of spirit, to come into being: a testimony to the splendour of the Creator.
Wonderful indeed is a creation which can so create, and great in glorious grandeur is the Creator who creates such a creator as this! Yet it is all very small COMPARATIVELY. While the power to think and tinker, to triumph in tedious technicalities and overview of material possibilities is an outstanding thing, how much greater is the power to decide to do this, or not to do so, to evaluate the opportunity so to create, negatively or positively, and with that, for these or those reasons, and with that, invalid reasonings or valid. What profundity of liberty is dowered to man!
Here then is the grandeur of the Creator of man. Yet this is just a beginning. Towering over all of this is the TRUTH. If a man could not know the truth, he would of all things other than devils, be the most pitiable. Indeed, as to the poignancy for devils, we need to remember Judas and his opportunities, as well as his outcome, for whether for the heavens or the earth, the Bible demonstrated as the word of God (Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer) declares a principle.
It is this. God would have all men come to repentance and the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2), and another: it pleased God, having made peace through the blood of the Cross, to reconcile ALL things to Himself (Colossians 1:19ff.).
There is the source of longing, for it rests on reality, the love of God for which it is a relevant intuitive response, and it is matched by His own love for His creation, the dower of the power to long, and the source of its reasonableness.
Colossians 1 refers to His good pleasure in seeking for the reconciliation of all things, having made peace through the blood of the Cross. What then is this good pleasure ? (cf. Ephesians 1-2). It does not mean more or less than this, that it is His will, in perfect harmony with His principles and His personal nature that so it should be. Devils are not merely consigned, for it is in the face of this love of God that anything in heaven or earth, can find a destiny other than the God whose love it is. Yet love is not lordliness, and truth is not tyranny, friendship is not coercion and fellowship is not artificial. Though God would be pleased in this, having made man in His own image, He does not delete the creation to secure His good pleasure, but rather fulfils it.
Even we do not normally make cars in order to drive them furiously into oak trees, so that they are cars no more.
When He fulfils it, it is for consecration, that most beautiful reality of relationship with Christ, which brings consummation of the capacities of heart and spirit; or it is for its demise in devilry, dissidence or devout folly. It is like a car which will not be steered. There are always results, and if in this wilful sense, steering fails, there is always the oak tree, if not at once, then in due course ... or another tree, or object, or subject, or significance, and in any case, destiny. The destiny of design is most lovely; to have designs on destiny, that one be autonomous and THEREFORE free to create a non-god and treat it as god, whether it be man himself, or another, or an idea, or a power or a principle, this is the disaster of misused dynamic.
There is an interim sub-destiny for all mankind. His PERSON having been the subject of myriads of influences outside the blessing and designation of God, it becomes blind as in a sand-storm: not disabled from willing, but from the sight which makes of will something relevant to the destiny to be desired, with the Creator whose love does not bully, nor does it fade, but continues attested in the Cross, invested in many by this means, and irrevocable in nature, just as it is never in enmity with truth.
THE MODEL OF SALVATION
In what way, however, does God fulfil His gracious destiny as designated for man, who comes to Him ? It is NOT by asking it simply what it wants, since sin secludes in shame the mind from reality; and it is precisely this which makes of so much potentially useful discussion a mere playing of cards (with plenty hidden in the sleeves of irrationality). Most frequently, people IN PRACTICE do not WANT God, unless of course, he is a nice, manipulable, helpful sort of super-robotic servant who comes to the party when it is sad, helps when grief arises and attenuates suffering when it hits. While this is not universally true, it is common, just as sand is, and the particles, as with that substance, are very numerous which lie in that way, by the sea-shores of destiny.
While man CANNOT (cf. John 1:3-14)
choose God (cf. John 15),
God in choosing man does not delete the stated principle of love (which suffers long),
nor the declared reality of being in His image,
and so having a resolving reality.
While man CANNOT (cf. John 1:3-14) choose God (cf. John 15), God in choosing man does not delete the stated principle of love (which suffers long), nor the declared reality of being in His image, and so has a resolving reality. HOW then does God both give due respect to the glorious potential for height of this creation, mankind, made in His own image? and how is this done in terms not only of His light, humanly dowered in terms of realisation ability and relatabilities, but also of man's terrible condition ? Sunk in the pit of sin, whether that of pride for allegedly not being what he is, a derivative of deity yet by sin an outsider to His assured grace, foundering in the subterranean caves of despair, cynicism and caustic self-protection or flitting like demented sparrows, with self-congratulation about the streets of spiritual slums: how is he to be arrested, invested, restored, or even found within, where in his own spirit, the action lies ? or how can be be found without a heart to respond, with a will to wander ?
In scripture, once again, is the glorious and triumphant solution is found. God DOES the choosing. God does NOT do any forcing. God operates the keys, but He does so in terms of His knowledge, indeed His own foreknowledge of all things, who calls man many times, and yet again, who leaves the rich young ruler to go on his wealthy way, if that is the reality of the matter. At the same time, He does NOT leave the sinning Peter in his temporary spiritual squalor, when he denies the Christ, approaching His crucifixion. He appears to him (Luke 22:31ff., 47ff., I Corinthians 15) who was whose tears were wrung from the splendour of divine solitude, facing His sacrifice fearlessly, the restraint of divine rebuke, limited to a look, and the glory of truth, unflinching since there is no other option for truth..
Peter ? he wept bitterly at his sin; the rich young ruler, however ? he was sad at the perceived NECESSITY of not losing his wealth. He went OFF (Luke 18). Behind all these things, and before any of them, God who knows His own, neither distorts the reality, nor lets pathology simply dump its victims; He moves with knowledge, divine, chaste and sovereign.
All differ. Whatever the passion, that for God must be greater. There is nothing wrong with the things of life as such, but there is everything wrong with their manipulation of the PERSON of a man or woman or child, so that each one becomes a sort of indirect robot, subject to self-imposed program, whether in open slather, consciously, or in muted blather, unconsciously.
Thus God who KNOWS, chooses in terms of the LOVE THAT WOULD have all reconciled (Colossians 1:19ff., cf. Ezekiel 33:11), but in so doing takes nothing contrary to the ultimate realities of the image of God within. He does not defile it to deliver it, nor abuse it to release. This ONLY the God who created can understand, and understanding, do. It can only be in terms of a knowledge of the truth, since otherwise there would be no reconciliation at all, but only a wearisome confrontation with actuality, injurious to start, lethal to end, meeting its fiery end like a misspent rocket. Truth and love in God are illimitable companions.
The Lord then does not make children of God by fiction, but by fact; and in choosing, does not choose for merit, but for the entry of light where in His own all-penetrating power, it goes. THIS is the condemnation, that light has come and men have preferred darkness (John 3:19). It is not other! (cf. Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Chs. 8 and 9 with Great Execrations ... Chs. 7 and 9 ).
Any other condemnation is faced, confronted, dissolved in this, that the entire scope of the death of Jesus the Christ, the just for the unjust is adequate to cover all, though of course channeled only to those who use it, like ample water in a little-used well (cf. Romans 8:32, I Peter 3:18, I John 2:2). Set as available on behalf of all, it reaches those who receive it; and as to these, He knows and has foreknown them, and institutes Himself, what no flesh fallen, could do (John 1:12ff.). As Romans 8:32 tells us, ALL things come to those who have Christ in place as actually delivered up in ransoming redemption, for their offences, as we there learn. NO good thing comes where mercy itself is dismissed, light scattered with the dust of the atmosphere of alienation, with that prodigious effrontery which so often distinguishes - as darkness distinguishes a mine - the human race.
It is in the FACE of the light that the preference for darkness is fatal - that is the context of John 3:19, in the light and face of the Word who became flesh, dwelt among us and acted in the love of God that none might perish, being offered up as a sacrifice for sin (cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4). Yet lest there be any merely momentary mood, mode or madness, God who foreknows not only what is to happen, but of what it is a happening, and the persons as such, takes those who are His own with utter certainty. He does this beyond and before and apart from all historical happening (Romans 9:11, Ephesians 1:4). If it were not so, then infinitely important things would depend on minor matters; but it is so, and is declared to be so more than once. This is one of those endlessly apt, always appropriate, brilliantly original and yet substantially certain things about the integrity of God, whose uttered principles as His own, He so well keeps that His reliability is unlimited, His faithfulness proverbial and His judgments fateful because true!
What then of the children of God ? Finding in Him the removal not only of dissidence and dissonance, together with the dismissal of the dynamic of devilry, this with cancellation of guilt and transfer of penalty, the children of God are blessed indeed. To them also, because then they are found and His and He is with them, lives by His Holy Spirit in them, communes spirit to spirit, are gifts given, especially that of His own presence (Colossians 1:27), so that they find power to perform His will. This is not wrought in the overwhelming splendour of mere solitude, but in Him whose manhood shelved forever insufficiency, and brought life and immortality to light with industry, discipline, love, mercy and obedience (Philippians 2).
Thus, just as He, become a man for the deliverance of design, by the designs of mercy, showed that in whatever circumstances one might be placed, even in the most appalling hatred, contempt and slander as He was, and that amidst legislative murderers, erupted from death in a body risen from the dead, His children participate in this power, not by proxy but by grant (Ephesians 1:19).
Space-time could not contain Him, who has placed man in space and time, and then there placed Himself. Indeed, He not merely overcame the limitations, but broke the penalties for those who did not overcome, but instead received the remission; and thus is liberation complete (Romans 10:9). The Author of our salvation, received by those who are children of God, has SHOWN the way, DONE the thing with divine dynamic AS man, and for man has granted the status of children of God, the sending of His Spirit to empower, enable, grant peace, produce joy and fruit, shedding love like a giant waterfall in dazzling splendour, yet with a naturalness which becomes Him who became Himself, a man, to do it (Romans 5:1-11, 8:1-10, John 4:14, 7:37ff.).
It is all so very clear: not only does God call according to election, His choice, but so that His purpose in it should stand (Romans 9:16), we read: and as to that, it is apart from works of ours, based solely on His own, as in creation, so in salvation (Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-8). If it WERE some work of which some are capable, then that would be result, not response. It would be allied to the robotic, meaningless in love, useless in liberty, a masquerade; but it is not so, and few things in the scriptures which are the word of the living God, are more stressed than this. In all things and in all ways, what revelation shows, logic delights in, for the consistency of all revelation in itself, and its exhibition of the power and work of God, always covers the case, always with wonder. It is the garbage collection which is fearsome; but then, what hates life, would find it abominable, whether in heaven or elsewhere!
Where work has any part, liberty has none. In the end, it is always so (cf. Predestination and Freewill). It is only in the work of God, therefore, that liberty and hence love either does or could have place, where sin defiles; and it is only in the creation by God, that liberty would even be relevant.
Incapacitated from choosing Him by the obscurations of sin, which even prides itself on its own perspicuity, they are not relegated to ultimate ruin because they are unable to choose Him in themselves, nor to meaninglessness because it is He who chooses (John 15, 1:12, Romans 9:16). In sovereign majesty He chooses, desiring all, with prodigious purity both of motive and procedure, and saving some with the same infinite integrity of heart. He acts in terms of His being able to choose them, where their pathology in itself pollutes them through darkness, from power to choose Him; but this He does always with this in mind, that His majesty does not grab image-bearers, just because He longs for them; rather does His truth find in the midst of darkness, the scope for light.
Nor is that scope for salvation to be found in MAN, because of superiority of one compared with another, as if in any intrinsic superiority: for sin it is which makes degrees of light relevant; and God seeing beyond all sin, knows who are His, and who are not, choosing IN CHRIST (Ephesians 1:4). Superiority is irrelevant. In this field, the only superiority is that of God. Purity and power are relevant: but they are His, to know, to find, to cover and to erupt from death, the Victor who as Creator, saves His creation, not robotically, and not again as if they were autonomous, but sovereignly, and with irrepressible mercy, allied to truth. It is the sovereignty of love, not the love of sovereignty which is in view, as is seen so often that it almost makes of scripture a very inventory of pathos, poignancy and grace, as He pleads and recedes, returns and restores, exhorts and invites*1.
There is glory, wonder and majesty. YOU cannot go to hell because heaven scorned you as a person, but ONLY because in the very face of the truth, you prefer darkness IN GOD'S OWN KNOWLEDGE*2. In such a case, would not heaven become as hell for the pride of spirit which refuses grace! (Cf. Spurgeon as cited in Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Ch. 8.)
Thus there is illumination upon salvation, and there is consecration in sanctification, because of the wonder of the Creator who is Saviour, and because of the scope of His mercy and the grandeur of His truth, and because He bothered to make us in His image, who is God, so that though mere creations, we might in His new creation (II Corinthians 5:17ff.) become apt for the place of children of God. This, it is not an imagined projection, like a theological exercise, but a dynamic enduement and dower, which does not formalistically conceive of itself, but functionally arrives, like a jet darting from on high, and landing where before, it had no place, in the aerodrome of peace (cf. Matthew 15:7-11, Isaiah 29:13).
What a creation, then, is that of God, first to emplace man in a time-space universe, with a spirit integumentally relatable to His own; and then as if this were not enough, in love and mercy, to engender once again, a new creation, arising not with the pitiable hammering or screeching horrors of foundry work, but with those same invisible dynamics of Spirit which are His, overcoming the disqualifications of sin both legally and administratively, both at the personal level and at the wilful one! To do this, and preserve the meaning of liberty and the message of love in the mastery of mercy, is a work of God swept past all earthly conception, but readily expressed in it, by the word of life, which parallel to His performances in this double creation, is sent by His Spirit, in His word, for mankind (I Corinthians 2:9ff., Titus Chs. 2-3, I Peter 1:10ff.).
With what grand majesty He then has created; and re-created the desecrated, not in entire separation from man, but in coming to become man; and not in submersion in the byways of sin, but walking in the environment, yet without sin, and finding what was lost, not with inflexible power as if it were alone, but with inveterate sympathy, a profundity of empathy, which yet is never indulgent! Here is the love of the Sender and the majestic might of the merciful Messiah, as one.
Meanwhile, man longs, wrongs, sings of his sin, and wanders in the night; until he is found. Each one found, it becomes a work of mercy more profound than the depths of the oceans, more triumphant than the cohesion of the body's staggering design, higher than the peaks, past the wonders of space: it is the signed salvation of God. It is with this that His people are sealed (Ephesians 1:4,6,11-13).
Yet let us look even further into the interstices of man in his misled cavortings, abortings and seekings.
THE HEART OF LONGING,
ITS SOURCE AND SENDER, DRAWING DESTINY
Imagine making something that longs ... not by program but by person. See again in the eye of youth, that longing mentioned earlier, where the desire for truth and sanity and reality and love and understanding, though perhaps not formulated as such, activates the mind, stimulates the spirit, and the soul LOOKS for help. When it seeks Him, NOT ONE of these will fall to the ground, for it is not the Father's will that it should be so, from mere oversight (Matthew 18:14). God compiles His company, missing none (cf. John 13, 6).
Longing is not provided as an aspect of the passion of the divine image-bearing soul, in order that it be frustrated by oversight; for Christ was so far from neglect in coming to the Cross that He has branded on this universe for all time the conscientious consecration of deity to cover any, reach any, teach any, overcome darkness with light, sin with salvation, death with resurrection and desire with reality (cf. Paul's reflection of it, in Colossians 1:24-28, and statement of it in Colossians 1:19ff.). Is it then such a wonder that angels delight in the salvation of one lost sinner as we might in a glorious day on the cliff-tops, surrounded by the majesty of creation, the splendour of light and the grace of beauty in multitudes of wild-flowers, as if each declared the wonder of the desires of God; for such is the heart of the living God! (Luke 15:7).
It is not however a species of hedonism, opportunism, self-fulfilment or carnal contrivance, nor is it for those who seek always number one, whether this be family, their own glory, that of their race or face or place, inventions or pretensions. It is love, which loves the truth: which is that in all truth, God is love (I John 4:7ff.). That ? it is a far remove from indulgence, exaggerated sensibilities; it is that studious and careful, that patient and glorious, that majestically inclined and sacrificially instilled reality which being of God, comes from God, can reach man (Romans 5:5).
It can even imbue him when his spirit is redeemed, his soul reconstituted, his life regenerated. It is that desire, that longing, intimate with wisdom, inspired with power, never abused, graciously used, that is deep in the heart of the Lord. Anger does not overcome it, nor does wrath extinguish; but truth is its friend, and it never passes or surpasses reality, or seeks by contrivance to have its will, in some inglorious way, making appearance to bear semblance to reality, without being it.
It is GOD who longs, though in His consummate power and wisdom, His longing is fully expressed in the Cross (Galatians 6:14), sufficient to cover all, effective for any who in faith calls upon His name where it is to be found, in the Lord's Christ Jesus (Luke 2:26, II Corinthians 11); and it is fulfilled as love is, not in mere quantity of persons saved - though a multitude are His, but in what in the uttermost reaches of reality, known to God, responds as love does. To be sure, it is only through His supernatural action that it CAN respond, but it is in His supernatural and omniscient awareness, that He brings all whom love might, to Himself. If this action surpasses human participation, yet it is not done, wrought, as if man were not in God's image; but His action is with knowledge as well as desire. Thus, though His grief is great at what is lost, as expressed in Christ at Luke 19:42ff., and in the prophet, yet His passion is fulfilled.
As to the latter, consider these three divine declarations, the first from Jeremiah 13, the second from Jeremiah 31 and the third from Jeremiah 48.
"Say to the king and to the queen mother,
For your rule shall collapse,
the crown of your glory.' "
And look what precedes:
"Hear and give ear:
Do not be proud,
For the LORD has spoken.
Give glory to the LORD your God
Before He causes darkness,
And before your feet stumble
On the dark mountains.
And while you are looking for light,
He turns it into the shadow of death
And makes it dense darkness.
" But if you will not hear it,
My soul will weep in secret for your pride;
My eyes will weep bitterly
And run down with tears,
Because the LORD's flock has been taken captive."
(Colour and italics added.)
" 'Moreover,' says the Lord,
'I will cause to cease in Moab
The one who offers sacrifices in the high places
And burns incense to his gods.
Therefore My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab,
And like flutes My heart shall wail
For the men of Kir Heres.' "
In these, cumulatively, you see the depth of the divine longing, the degree of it, the grandeur of it and the eventual withdrawal for judgment, when despite a love which does not shrink from helping the proud as well as the humble, and gross as well as the refined, there is merely a final consolidation in iniquity. It is God who judges. He is not vexed, though His compassions do not fail (Lamentations 3:33); yet the price He paid for deliverance, on the Cross, is as vital as the love which led to it, as the mercy which impelled it, and it is so in the face and light of the judgment, which it would, could and is well able to avoid in terms of the scope of His splendour in sacrifice and its relevance for man (I John 2:2). He has done ALL, and in sincerity and even passion, personally and not by proxy.
Though it is only many who find the cover (Matthew 26:28, John 1:12-14), who are found by God (Galatians 4:9), and few in comparison with those who do not (Matthew 7:15ff.); yet each is precious, for here is a fellowship with God created in the precincts of trial, of test, where vulnerability for man is too great to be pretended absent, and where the power of God is so far greater as to require realism in response.
Here is the realm of invitation, limitation, delimitation and investigation. Here is the sphere where Job was tried, whose trial issued grandly in Job 19:23ff., where his desire and passion for God in all sincerity came with a fearless courage, that is inspiring in its liberty, if at times almost overbearing*3.
Here is the earth where Job's cry that his words of realisation be inscribed for ever in the very rock of the earth (Job 19:22), is fulfilled, not least when the Messiah enshrines them, every Christmas, to name but one time, for many millions in one of those prodigious fulfilments of His word, in the realm of liberty, where the sovereignty of God is made manifest for all to see.
We too must come, not by proxy of pope or prelate, philosophy or fantasy, but in person: Luke 13:1-3.
So does He meet longing where it looks for Him, from whom it comes, to whom it goes, when not sated with spiritual squalor, diverted, perverted, converted to calumniating God or calling on the creation for the succour it cannot provide. He looks, He knows, He understands, and has known before all time, for whom time is mere contrivance in creation, whose knowledge is of the end from the beginning, and whose field surpasses time as the sky the earth (cf. Isaiah 46:10).
ONLY by Him is man made; and ONLY by Him can man be saved, and the brilliance of conception, like the merciful love of His disposition, in the mode of salvation, clean in sovereignty, entire and utter in grace, but neither defacing the image of God in man, nor acting the tyrant, nor yet impeded in pity nor invasive in love, is of a beauty that is exquisite. It reminds one of the subtle magnificence of that lowly daphne bush, in its all but indescribable fragrance of mellowed cleanness, quiet suffusing and tingling sweetness, as of the declarative wonder of the rose, intricate and varied in design, but of a kind, a kindly kind which suffuses its strength with abundance, reminds of reality with its thorns, and is prodigious in perfume.
Accordingly, NONE has anything to boast about, for SIN was the severance scissor on ALL, and salvation is the GRACE mode for all, for NONE deserves anything but sin's recompense, and none gains anything but the merits of Christ's grace (Ephesians 2:1-12); and if any seeks to compile his own compilation, so that his imaginary merits (such as inventing by so saying, a new gospel in God's name, an effrontery as great as a blasphemy), then he merely makes his own sin the more stupefying in its density. To bring in work into salvation, other than the direct divine work of God, Himself the Saviour, this is but a lie; and like all lies, in truth an irrelevance which changes nothing in it, but perishes like thorns for the burning.
Such is His grace and mercy, wisdom and non-autocratic but sovereign control.
THIS, in its entire felicity, leads on to the companionship of heaven in the presence of salvation, personally wrought by the Creator, which is the greatest of all news for all time, and being called the Gospel, is not misnamed.
GOD forbid, says Paul, that I should glory except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which I am crucified to the world and the world to me (cf. Questions and Answers 2). In so glorying, we are glorying in God, who is like that, who did that, whose creation in His own image we are, who handles all things well, whose no headwind to prevent our coming to Him (James 1)*4; but a tail-wind, and who beyond all mere winds of tendency, sovereignly selects His own (John 1:12-13, 6:39,65, Romans 9:16).
ONE of their features is this, that they KNOW that it is grace only, with no merit, no differential ground for selection, a work carried out by foreknowledge, apart from all action, and hence all sin (cf. Romans 9), where He who is divine turns (in some cases), His DIVINE LONGING (Matthew 23:37, Ezekiel 33:11, Luke 19:42ff.) into divine Lordship, and this into the Shepherd's tenderness, whose word is truth, and whose truth is love (cf. Revelation 7:13-17, John 10:9,27-28).
See the three above, for example. With these, ponder Matthew 23:37 (cf. SMR Appendix B), Luke 19:42ff., Ezekiel 33:11, the many appeals and exhortations of Jeremiah as in Jeremiah 9, 13, 17, 23, and notice how even when doom is pronounced, yet he appeals (as in Jeremiah 17); for God knows the outcome, but this in no way reduces His passion, for the knowledge is gained in reality, not by mere program, and the passion to save is not reduced by mere items of knowledge, but rather permeates all.
Notice also in Jeremiah 18, 33, the underlying speed and secure certainty, in terms of our historical mode of having events come to pass, with which the Lord is ready, waiting and eager to dismiss sin, to acknowledge repentance, to pardon; and where more ardently is this seen than in Micah 7:19ff.. He LOVES, delights in mercy, and is no respecter of persons. There is no headwind where seeking mercy in reality where it is to be found, is the operation! Rather does the wind blow sweetly to aid; and while it is He who chooses, does He not know with what He deals! and how to deal with it ? and that in entire integrity and that restraint for which love is paramount in fame.
See on this: The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 2, p. 32, Ch. 4 , and Biblical Blessings Ch. 3.
You may wish to consult also, Predestination and Freewill, Section III,
or Great Execrations , Great Enervations, Greater Grace Chs. 7 and 9.
*3 See TRIALS, TESTS and TRIUMPHS in TEMPTATION.
*4 On this, see the sermonjames1.html.