APPENDIX ON FAITH AND LOVE
Looking from the natural to the supernatural, its adequate and necessary source, let us for a moment dwell on some of the features that the Lord of life presents. This is taken from Biblical Translations, but added to and adapted for our present purpose.
We start with a detailed look at the text and proceed to application.
Hebrews 11:1 is perhaps one of the most fascinating of translation confrontations. Its meaning is clear, but the way to express it and to ensure one grasps all of it is challenging.
Considering the notable term upostasis (A) often rendered assurance, but having a terminological relationship to underlying reality, substance and foundation, on the one hand, and the next basic term, elegcos (B) often rendered conviction, but able to mean proof, or evidence containing or constituting it: then taking the totality in one sweep, and next returning to ponder the parts, one comes to such a presentation or translation as this.
Faith is the foundational assurance of things hoped for, the concurrent evidencing and evidence-based conviction of things not seen.
It is true that as a translation is may seem odd to add 'concurrent' but then, this could be put in italics as is the custom in such matters, in the AV. This is here done. The flavour of upostasis (A) is thus gained on the one hand, and the interplay between this substance, or substantial aspect and what follows (B), the concept of a piece of evidence, a proof, of what shows a thing to be true, with its further translatability in conviction, is thus aided. Now when the second term COULD mean conviction, and MIGHT mean proof, may be evidence-based conviction OR is perhaps demonstration, then we touch on both the inward or the outward, on what produces the conviction and the conviction produced.
Thayer puts this aspect rather well in his Greek Dictionary, concerning the word some translate 'evidence', elegcos: "that by which invisible things are proved (and we are convinced of their reality."
This being so, it may seem a little harsh simply to select. In terms of the interplay of concepts between A and B, both having reaches in the objective or outward, and scope for the inward, it seems best to seek to bring out more than one might otherwise feel to do.
There is a mutuality of additiveness to which one would fain do justice. Hence both are brought in. There is the concept of a foundation, a base, and a conviction; there is next the concept of an evidencing and of evidence. To suppress this duality appears to be insensitive. Hence both aspects proceed. This fits the context in this, that it is full of cases where the profound assurance, going to the foundation of things, is present, and the operational power of what these witnesses so utterly and devoutly believe, is so no less.
There is the foundational conviction (1),
and there is the power to convict (2) of that in which they believe.
Thus "by faith the walls of Jericho fell down" (11:30), and in this without doubt there is an indication here of (2), this power to convict, to convince coming from the actual reality of the thing believed. On the other hand, we find that "others were tortured, not accepting deliverance" (11:35), and this too is by faith. Indeed, in the same verse, we find that by faith, some received their dead restored to life.
There is what could all but be called an inextricable interweaving of the two aspects:
the prominent power to attest itself,
and the conviction which moves effortlessly in the midst of such power, on the other.
It is like walking in the midst of some marvellous garden, flowing with architectural intimacies, grand domains, glorious vistas and profound sweeps, and being continually, on the one hand, filled with a desire and delight in the REALITY which thrusts itself into one's consciousness and objectively envelops one with its wonder, while on the other, finding evoked an inspiration and a conviction of how splendid it all is.
Without any doubt, the thrust of Hebrews 11:1 is on REALITY and SUBSTANTIALITY, and there is interchange between this and the CONVICTION and ASSURANCE which this infuses. Faith occurs when this is so.
While we are here, let us apply these things somewhat, in formulating them.
Faith is the absolute assurance of things hoped for - it is not a finger on a pulse, but a grasping with both hands.
Faith is affirming testimony of things not seen - the confirmatory cry in response, the conviction which draws on evidence, prompted by reality, stirred by actuality, like a fish, waving its tail and meeting water with it! It is what is found when both hands meet the hand of God.
Here there are two aspects. Firstly, there is a fundamental reality so great that its appreciation brings strong assurance. Secondly, there is an evidential thrust so enormous that it brings a conviction from its very plainness. Things unseen are inescapable, inveterate, basic and original. They include all your purposes, motives and aspirations, all your heart's store of plan and intention, but more importantly, those of the Creator of this universe, and the Maker of the heart and spirit of man. Spoken into a book, the book of the Lord (Isaiah 8:20), manifested in a person, the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3), applied by prophets with just one message over the millennia (Heb. 1:1), it stands under the power of the living God. This is the character of the conspectus in view in the Bible, and express in Hebrews 11.
You see that the source of the visible is the invisible, the source of the programmed is the unprogrammed, the beginning and the end for man lies in the free origin of his sinful spirit - the Maker of liberty whose product, man, has twisted and torn it, until only a new making can redeem it (John 3). Of Him we read in Hebrews 1:1-3: who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His Person, when He had by Himself purged sin, sat down on the right hand of Majesty on High. Where He lived, He returned (cf. John 6:62, 5:19-23, 8:58, 17:1-3, Micah 5:1ff.).
Hence in Hebrews 11 the text proceeds from the invisible source of visible and limited nature, to the invisible stimulus of the spiritual beings, men, who by faith grasp the One who grasping them in recriprocity, uses them, moving as "seeing Him who is invisible" and waiting "for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God", who built and made this temporary vessel called the universe, which is just as made, to be sent packing when test concluded, faith consummated, salvation manifest, the whole exercise in the temporal with the spiritual, ends in the eternal field from which it came.
In the interim, in Hebrews 11:3, it tells us that by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of tings which are visible.
The book is not made of the Author. I know that. The building is not made of the architect. The product of creation requires the operation, not the death of its performer, and its performance criteria require the lively work of that imaginative being who makes the creation. Pieces of stuff do not make themselves, because as 'stuff' they are already conformed, configured and constrained. Operations are afoot in them and for them to have being in such a delimited, defined and controlled situation. Not magic but power, not fuzzy thought but actual intelligence is required, not abstracted but impactive from personal depths to ensure performance.
The source of those operations is not something of the same kind as the 'stuff', since these things lack both the power in experimental observation, either structural or functional, and lack the criteria which we find necessary for creation which we practise in some form or another daily.
You cannot see God, since He is spirit and our eyes are made for other purposes, though as they go they are the most amazingly versatile and brilliantly constructed things, as you find the more when you try to make their facile brilliance reproduce in camera art (cf. Organ of Sight). Hence you need to exercise the thing you use continually, logic. By this, as we have shown repeatedly in SMR in particular, but in different ways in the Chapters of this volume, you find at once the minimal requirements for the Creator of what we are, and where we are.
You can stomp out and refuse logic; but then you cannot LOGICALLY even speak, since logic in its cause and effect notation is necessary even to define the meaning of a term, a word, so that its definable character relates to its observable characteristics and its functionality may be enshrined in what points it out. Your word is a symbol, but its portent is more. It is what you are talking about, observing ...
you cannot speak, then there is no argument. Logic is so courteous and so very
crisp, rather like lettuce from the refrigerator. Refrigeration on the hot
temperatures of feverish thought is assuredly needed, and it is by faith that
one accepts what reason requires, for will can say NO! NEVER!
I WOULD RATHER DIE! which it frequently does, which also is sad, even grievous.
There, however, it is. It is faith in the truth, demonstrable but not obstreperous, or making a fiasco of life, as is being done continually, most recently in Chechnya, where one has GREAT sympathy, but not for the means chosen by some for gaining independence, the blown apart bodies of children in a siege (September 2004).
Yes, you can blow apart what is here to try to build what is not, what is a fantasy, good, bad or indifferent in your imagination; but there remain the facts. We are not built by man or madness but by creation. If we neglect the Creator, we a) invade His property b) may misuse and abuse it, in ourselves or in the persons of others and c) we are therefore accountable. You have to refer to your Creator, not like some inane or arcane car, ignore your origins. It is proud, but not productive to do so. It is also not true.
So many talk of 'innocent' sufferers, but there is no innocence in ignoring your Creator. Indeed, Psalm 1 tells us that this refusal to be linked to the Lord makes of man something like chaff blown by the wind. God in His own predestining misses nothing and is concerned that all might be saved; but man is accountable for his ways, his denials, his treatment of children and his massacres in the classroom in false teaching to the ambitious young, and in the field.
When however you do trust in the Lord, and find in faith the realities which work at the personal level, and any other derivative as necessary, then the invisible resources which are already pressing in your mind, questions of courage, nobility, resource and sagacity, wisdom and peace, love and hope, none measurable or relevant to the inert or to inertia or to contrivance, but all found in personal aspects of your spirit: then these show themselves.
Love is like that. It shows itself in its own way. You cannot swear at it, pound it and seek to humble it. It does not look that way.
Ephesians 1:3-5 constitutes an amazingly delightful translation issue.
It could mean
1) He chose us in Him... to be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons
2) He chose us in Him... to be holy and without blame before Him, in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons
3) He chose us in Him ... to be holy and without blame before Him, in love having predestined us to adoption as sons
Punctuation is so helpful.
In Greek, it is not to be found here.
Hence, we need other considerations to enable us to find the best translation.
Many considerations point in just one way, as it happens. Nor is this by chance.
Firstly, let us consider the "in Him", "before Him" and "in love" adverbial phrases, all of this kind grammatically. We are chosen IN HIM. We are chosen to without blame BEFORE HIM. We have been predestined IN LOVE. The verb chosen, has its phrase, as does that 'to be' and the participial construction of the verb, 'predestined'. That is the position if you opt for 3) above.
We would in that situation notice that the verb 'to choose', has its phrase a little after it, as is the case with the verb 'to be', and that the verb 'to predestine' in that case has its phrase before it.
Thus schematically it would be as follows: We are chosen IN HIM, to be holy BEFORE HIM, IN LOVE predestined...
There is a certain balance of emphasis, each verb with its phrase, and there is just that emphasis on the "in love" aspect which Ephesians 3:16-19, which follows shortly, one of the greatest love passages in Paul, would lead us to expect. How is this achieved ? It is by reversing the order when it comes to love. Chosen in Him, holy before Him, in love predestined... becomes the sense. With love, it comes first!
This fits perfectly with Ephesians 3:18 which contrary to what may appear in some translations, has the same order, the phrase before the verb, which in the Greek appears as this: "in love being rooted and grounded that you may be able ..." Here not only is the phrase "in love" before the verbal form, but it is the SAME phrase, 'in love', in the same epistle which highlights love and uses this primary position of the phrase indubitably in this case of Ephesians 3, before the verbal form. Not only so, the verb is in the participial form, as is the case in the tested case, Ephesians 1:3-5. Thus we have this,in Ephesians 3 - "in love being rooted and grounded that ..." and in Ephesians 1, if we follow 3), "in love having predestined us to adoption".
This gives the following schema. Adverbial phrase, 'in love', for emphasis coming first, participle joined with it giving atmospheric emphasis, a graphical presentation, this verbal form thus adding to the emphasis of having the phrase first; and in each case, it is the precise phrase 'in love', not something merely similar, that is used, which appears rather like this: 'en agaph'. In sense, in the one case, we are found IN LOVE PREDESTINED, in the other IN LOVE ROOTED AND GROUNDED. In each case action results, in the former - Ephesians Ch.1, that we become adopted, in the latter, Ch. 3, that of Christians being enabled to comprehend the illimitable dimensions of love. (Cf. Great Expectations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Ch. 3, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4.)
Not only is this so, but the very emphasis on the illimitable in love, both in direction and importance, and in height and sublimity and in depth and wonder, makes an all-encompassing approach apparent from Ephesians 3 which would in the translation 3) for Ephesians 1:3-5, be reflected in full.
Thus structurally and topically, emphatically and positionally, it is all one. Paul is emphasising something, using primacy of phrase to do it, depth of expression, and placing first things first, is presenting divine action in participial graphicality before leading on to more blessing. In the first case, this blessing is adoption, in the second, realisation of the splendour of the illimitable dimensions of 'love', each site using the phrase 'in love'.
As if this were not enough, we find further that in Ephesians 1:11, this same emphasis on the primary in a primary positioning of the phrase is found: IN HIM we have obtained an inheritance, we discover. It is not "we have obtained an inheritance in Him," but that "in Him we have obtained an inheritance." Indeed, the same emphatic technique continues throughout. Thus in Ephesians 2:8, it is BY GRACE you are having been saved persons, once again, the phrase being placed first because of its eminence of consideration, its importance in the theme being presented. The primary has the primary place in these instances in what grammatically is called 'inversion'. The same inversion is found in 2:5, again by grace you have been saved, and in 2:18, where it reads, THROUGH HIM we have access...
Further, in Ephesians 2:19-20, we have a parallel form, in which the persons precede the participial construction thus: FELLOW CITIZENS, HAVING BEEN BUILT, with the two relative pronoun phrases, "in whom" occurring in 21-22, keeping the same feeling of thrust, as the apostle is impelled to write, phrase first, action later (cf. I Cor. 2:9-13, I Peter 1:10--12).
In Ephesians 4:1-3, again, we have WITH ALL LOWLINESS ... ENDEAVOURING, the same adverbial phrase with following participial construction which is deep in the heart of this epistle. It suits it. It is an emphatic device, a clarificatory emphasis, and a merging method, enabling matters in this way to be seen in a clamant perspective which cannot be missed.
These things being so, the thought of ignoring the emphatic mode, the emphatic topic (here love for our Ch. 1 concern) and the spirit of the emphasis throughout being alien, it is impossible to prefer what lacks similar credentials, so that one must applaud in this the translation of the Berkeley Version, the American Standard Version and that of the RSV (all with type 3) translation as above).
This, in essence ? 'In love having predestined'. The phrase is with the predestination!
Further, in Ephesians 1:9, we learn that God has made known to us the mystery of His will according to the good pleasure which He purposed in Himself. It proceeds to state that this purpose involves His gathering all things in Christ: the criterion. It is IN HIMSELF that this good pleasure is purposed. This brings out the intensely personal side of this predestination, and since GOD IS LOVE (I John 4), and since Paul is emphasising in this very epistle in language of the most intensive, the illimitable character of the love of God, these in combination lead to the same conclusion: the intensively personal God who is love, and in whose love is illimitable wonder, has in this mystery of marvel, acted in and with this love to forge links of salvation which do not break (Ephesians 1:11).
As to translation 2) above at the outset, while it is possible, it is rather limping, adding this phrase in that style, when the topic is so impelling in this epistle (and not this alone, as I Corinthians 13 would remind us soon enough!). What do we find in I Cor. there ? It is this, that without love, anything is nothing. It is not different in predestination. To be sure, the apostle in I Cor. 13 is speaking of man; but this is BECAUSE OF WHO AND WHAT GOD IS. Love is not pre-eminent for man because God is other, but because this Being, whose nature is love, is as He is and has made us in His image!
As to translation 1) above, it has no comparable credentials for selection. It would put the love last in the series of features in view for man's conduct, which is of course anomalous here, in this particular epistle. It would omit the 'love' from the 'good pleasure of His will' in a way which is not actually the case. It would breach the form found so often in the epistle, and that allied even to the content 'in love' as shown above. It would moreover tear apart a fascinating parallel. That ? It is as we now find.
Thus in 1:3-5, we have with this priority of love, a predestinating movement concerning His people. IN LOVE predestinating "to the praise of the glory of His grace". What then of this glorious grace, this kindness, this merciful wonder in the Lord which is infinitely filial with love ? It is to an end which is now stated in 1:6, and it is that BY THIS GRACE we should be "accepted in the Beloved." Thus the generic love in predestination, in 3) would lead to the entrance in an entrancing manner, to the Beloved. IN LOVE predestining, so that grace may be praised, He acts to make us accepted IN THE BELOVED, becomes the sense.
Thus the propelling love (of predestination) becomes the accepting love (of adoption in Christ), and the predestining dynamic becomes the acceptance dynamic. What moves becomes what accepts. He loves in predestination so that He accepts in destination: where ? IN the Beloved.
To tear apart so many considerations for a weak and strangely secondarily placed phrasing as in 1) above, is not really in the end, a translation but a divestment. Again, it is not that slender evidence attests translation 3), but that it is perfectly incomparable in force in context and conception, in form and structure, with anything else.
Therefore we translate as constrained:
"... just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world
that we should be holy and blameless before Him,
in love having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself,
according to the good pleasure of His will,
to the praise of the glory of His grace,
in which He made us objects of grace in the Beloved.
"In Him we have redemption through His blood..."
Love works in choice, blamelessness works in resultant in the adopted: the agent is Christ, the glory is in grace, its compass is objects of grace who are in this same Christ, not only agent but express image of God, who to this end poured out His blood, that its flood should enable the grace to abound, the adoption to astound and express that love so profound. It is in GOD, that we are based, in GOD that we find the action of predestining, in GOD that the grace is to be praised, and it is in GOD that the love is impelling to the Son of God who acts on it, so allowing our reception in truth as His own.
Any other construction would merely constitute a divorce not only in form, in situation, in force, in dynamic and in cohesion, but of the primacy of what is primary from the One who is primary. It is unthinkable, egregious and inconstant, unable to stand in the context.
When, moreover, we see the continuation into the redemption by His blood (Ephesians 1:7), we find once again the testimony of the love impelling, in predestination, with the love accepting, in adoption, and the love dispelling, as in the blood. It is bound as by vast magnetic forces of conceptual cohesion. We look further, "BLESSED be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him, in love having predestined us to adoption ..."
Thence we see even further the sequence. How blessed is the God who has seated us in things, in places spiritual, indeed in the realm of the heavenlies, and done it is Christ. This is entirely like the way He chose us in the first place to be holy and blameless, in love having even predestined ... It is all about the blessing imparted, the love exhibited, the grace found, the founding being profound, and the amazing thing, as in Ephesians 3, being the outthrust of a love uncontainable, expressing itself like sunshine in multiplied ways in the flora of the earth, so here in the flourishing of the soul.
Let us while in Ephesians, ponder directly the Ephesians 3 passage on love:
"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory,
to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the width and length and depth and height -
to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Faith, working by love, has
access to power, not to escape suffering,
as if Christ did not suffer violence and violation on the path of redemption for man,
yet the delightful divine power is there for the purposes of grace in delivering those who seek Him, activating their powers, realising the course of their calling
and coming continually to the eternal Father by the way of His own Son,
made man that man might know God. Power, as David well knew and declares, belongs to God.
It is so extraordinarily wonderful that where the power is, there is love;
where the love is, there is mercy;
where the mercy is, there is redemption and
where the redemption is, there is eternal life,
and in such company that none can equal it (Psalm 89).
Love is the criterion of personal life and where it is not, it is either invented, some kind of self-imposed definition which, forgetting the primary need of faith in the Lord, is mere fantasy and personal extravanganza, erotic, erratic or whatever may be its peculiar idiosyncrasy of conception, or else it is dumped. Either way, the reality who is God is not coincident with one's thoughts and ways. Some like to make sex the source of love, or even of more, as if the physical wonder of sensing love were to be turned into a thing in itself, a means to become an end instead of symptomatic of the reality which engendering is, when persons in God's own image act and interact (cf. Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 9, incl. End-note 1, and SMR Ch. 4).
Love is not God; you cannot invent your Creator by making your conception of love to be Himself, and then making that rule or have its place in the pantheon of appetite. God is love: that is, this is His singular feature which nothing impedes, on which nothing imposes, and while truth and justice, lovingkindness and compassion of course are operative, there is nothing to deny this love. If, in liberty, man loses any desire for the love of God, it neither removes it nor occasions the use of force, which is antipathetic to love, as anyone who loves would know. You do not COMMAND love. It tends rather to command you... Force may judge evils, but it is not the mode of love. It may awaken, but it is not the solicitation, merely the impact of reality (cf. Amos 4).
Love is kind, patient ... read I Corinthians 13. The love of God is illimitable - read Ephesians 3. It is not however subject to definition by man, but only as in all love, but in this infinite case a fortiori, to definition by itself. If someone wants to tell you the actual nature of the love felt, then this is by poetry or by prose, by word or by glance conveyed freely. There is no force about it. However if you want to call that love which injures by its brutishness, invades by its devilries, why you no more change it than when you try to force its actuality. You merely use the word while doing something else.
Love and faith are always necessary; and always to be seen in their source of which we are all subsidiaries, created subsidiaries, some imagining that our very liberty, necessary in our lives for the reality and realisation of divine love or any other that is not merely a misnomer, is able to construct what is not true.
This is because as products we have form and nature; and as in the image of God we are at liberty, within the limits of our little powers and systems, of corrupting our vocabulary or our lives or both. Nothing of the realities themselves however is changed by all this, except in the end - and even that only as the divine power works and knowing all, acts in its own love with its own restraint - for the way which might have been destiny. It is intensely sad to see the godless, the ungodly, or the god-creators invading their own lives and in a flurry or even flourish of wilfulness consigning themselves to contempt unspeakable before the truth (Daniel 12). Small wonder we labour night and day, for the deliverance of some.
Love, it does not easily give up; but it never compels. Thus Christ ...wept over Jerusalem, because even in that, the day of its divine visitation, it did not know the things that belonged to its peace (Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff.).
The world knows more and more the things that belong to its pieces, which smattered and scattered proliferate, and of which the Chechnyan affair noted is a gruesome symbol. It does not know nor can it without faith, what belongs to its peace. It knows no peace and one can lament with the prophet:
"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
'I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
"Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants also would have been like the sand,
And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;
His name would not have been cut off
Nor destroyed from before Me."
HOW OFTEN I would have gathered you, says Christ, as a hen her chickens under her wing. There was then a problem ? Yes, it was this: You were not willing. In Matthew 23:37 as in Luke 19, as similarly in Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, Ezekiel 33:11 and in the numerous laments in the word of God.
So far is God from forcing disfaith (q.v.), that He laments at faith's absence. When miraculously, He brings faith to reality, we rejoice; when in integrity, He does not do so as in the marshy places in Ezekiel 47, where the river does not flush out the mess, we lament.
Meanwhile, we work; and who would not if by any means any may be awakened to the sound solidity of faith, instead of the febrile romanticism of obstructive ignorance of the reality of God. Eyes shut is the diagnosis of Christ (Matthew 13:13:15), and to all reality it is so with the cultures of this world, which dies rather than look, even look to the Lord"
"Look to Me and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone out from My mouth in righteousness
and shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall confess..."
How beautifully John 6:40 goes with that!
Truth CANNOT be obliterated. It will rule when all is said, because, again in the end, there is nothing else to say. Liberty misused is its own end, without the mercy of God through faith in the Saviour, Jesus Christ wholly attested (SMR Chs. 1,5,6, Christ the Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 8, Repent or Perish Ch. 2, Ch. 7 , It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls
Ch. 9...); and though love does not force, it does not provide fiction with pretence as reality, for any faction.