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CHILD-LIKE FOR THE CHILDREN
ROLLICKING JOYFULLY WITH THE SIMPLE reality of things
PSALM 100 really is so simple, so profound, so profoundly simple and so simply profound.
It says it; it says it well; it covers the case; it evokes the conscience; it startles the mind, it rests the soul and illuminates the spirit. God speaks to man, here, in 85 words.
If you are seeking the Lord, or love the Lord, or are weary of this world’s fantasies and clogging spiritual arteries, mental blocks and psychological contrivances, then listen to this word from the Lord.
ALL THE EARTH is addressed (v.1). It is not for some parish or denomination, some religion or some mental set.
JOY is commanded. You CANNOT produce it on demand. How then ?
IF you are HIS, then JOY is as NATURAL as breathing, as cool as a Spring shower and as flowing as a crisply fresh country stream. You do not EXPECT it to be luke-warm in Spring. It isn’t, in this country at least. To ask to jump into that stream and experience its waters lovely caress of cool refreshing, is to be answered with ease. One simply jumps in. That is the way that it is.
Now if there were no stream, or worse still, no country, or if one did not have motion devices such as feet, or were paralysed, it would NOT be simple: definitely not. However this is a SPIRITUAL COMMAND and the spirit is not limited by flesh. It merely inhabits it. If you are going to jump into a SPIRITUAL STREAM then you just do it. The spirit is more intimate and prior to the flesh, the body and the material things of this world. That is a fact. Without the spirit, you could not deploy your mind, it would merely be an operating conscious device. It would not be disposable. Without mind, there would be no knowledge of what you are about, in disposing anything. ONLY then can you theorise even about matter, material things. They are an inference. They depend on your spirit. Materialism is the crazed by-product of a suicidal spirit which neglects, in disposing all things, itself as disposer. It is really an omission of a total character, like writing a book without hand or mind.
But HOW can you jump in spiritually, if you do not SEE the stream; or worse, if you do not KNOW it is there.
You are expecting, perhaps, that one should say: By faith!
That is to come.
For the present, however, it is by waking up. It is not good to sleep too much in the day-time. Our days on earth are limited, so let us be awake.
We proceed for answer to this question, to verse 2. "Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing."Your mind is needed and your spirit. You USE them constantly (cf. SMR pp. 3-10, 348ff.), so let us deploy them now. Let us read on to verse 3: "Know that the LORD, He is God: It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves…"
DID YOU set about it ? Do you RECALL taking the DNA pieces of a sort of protoplasmic mechano-set and constructing yourself while you were not there ? It is so absurd that A.A. Milne would laugh! How would you make yourself without being there to do it! As for something EVEN LESS intelligent than you constructing you, when you would fumble with an infinity of deficiency compared with the spiritual necessities of creating a freely deployable spirit, not to mention an analysing mind or an instrumental body, or one in empathetic closeness to both mind and spirit: that is worse than absurd. A mindless non-mind makes a mind ? What understands NOTHING makes something the chief component of which is understanding ? What has NOTHING IN THE WORLD to do with mind is its origin ? What merely plods on, makes the mind to tell what plodding is ? What happens makes what surveys ? What is alien to the heart from will, constructs a will!
Such thought is not childish. It is literally infantile. Spooks perhaps REALLY do lie in those shadows at the side of the room, and fairies too, they REALLY do remove your old tooth and give you a sixpence! This is not thought, but its denial. This is not the work of mind, but its virtual vacation. It is not merely bad logic; it is a laugh at logic. It is not merely bad science; it is a departure from its method.
DO you normally ask for the answer to a question in logic, by kicking your heels ? At least that would be something. This is to stare grimly and gaunt, at space, and to throw your mental arms around it and say: I am sick of all this. YOU did it, go on, say that you did! It is mental abeyance and spiritual death.
In science you look for an interface. You are required to SHOW that the SORT of thing to which you make reference in accounting for anything, HAS DEFINABLE and MENTALLY DISCERNIBLE and PRACTICALLY DEMONSTRABLE RELEVANCE, within a ground plan of concepts and analysis which coheres, co-operates and concludes with an adequacy of ground for action, interstices of things for conveyors and logical repletion for assurance.
Here NOTHING of ANY of this is even IN SIGHT!
BECAUSE matter is merely instrumental, and is instrument for things on board, as if a space ship with a computer running the engines, which hence are RUN IN A PARTICULAR CODED WAY, we do not assume that the ship came from precisely, scientifically, nowhere, with no ground, no construction and no coder. We look devastatingly simply, for the code-productive facility, the ship creative craftsman and the space understanding navigator. We may not look for it in this or that SOURCE, but we look for it in an adequate FUNCTION BASE, or series of inter-related function-bases. You do not get function without something functional adequate for its production. That is the way it is empirically and logically.
ALL of these powers COULD abstractly be vested in MANY co-operating functionaries. IF so, since we are now LOOKING for the source of matter and mind and spirit, then we ask, WHERE is the functional being who PUT IT TOGETHER, that is, the factory manager who constructed the premises where these functionaries do their various things ? When we find that systematiser, then we are looking at the Creator of all. He is called God.
We did not make ourselves. It is the LORD who made us (Psalm 100:2-3). THAT is why we SHOUT with joy.
Hold on! you may say. I agree about God. Most Australians would do so. However all this talk about SHOUTING! I am not particularly STIRRED. All right, I am a made thing; and good enough. It is nice on a Summer’s night to reflect on the stars and space and beauty and duty and friends and the mobility of mind and the fantasies of the imagination and the love for what is lovely. But this shouting bit! Where do you buy that ?
WE ARE HIS PEOPLE! says Psalm 100: 3 at the end. HIS PEOPLE ? our interlocuteur may chime ? Are you ? How would you know ?
Let us finish the verse first: "We are His people and the sheep of His pasture."
I am, and He is a great Shepherd. NONE like Him! Haven’t you met Him then ? one replies.
MET HIM ? asks the interlocuteur. HOW ?
WHEN, one replies, you REALISE in your spirit that you really ARE His product, then it is only natural to seek to find Him, isn’t it ?
Now dialogue is simpler.
Int:Yes, of course. But how would you set about it ?
Robert: First by SEEKING Him. How in the world would you find someone who of necessity does not LIVE in this world as His home address, since He made it and obviously therefore has an existence beyond it, but by USING WHAT HE MADE, that is your voice and thought and spirit, and if need be, body, and going on a search.
Int: That is not easy. To search is one thing. To search out of and beyond space, His product, how would you do that ?
Robert: You use the part that is NOT limited to space. You use your mind and spirit.
Int: But …ah! I see. HE is listening.
Robert: He who made the ear is not without hearing beyond the method He constructed for OUR use in this matter-girt, mind-open and spirit disposable world (within the product specifications, that is).
Int: You ask Him, then to LISTEN ?
Robert: Of course. But then as you read this Psalm 100, it should occur to you that you are NOT a sheep of His pasture, and you CANNOT therefore SHOUT for joy, and you may not indeed feel at all like shouting anyway, so obviously something is wrong.
Int: I see. So you apply to become one of His sheep.
Then you notice in Psalm 100:4 that you are directed to "enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise." But you may well ask, ‘gates’, where ?
They are open ONLY to the faith of the heart, the request of the spirit and the person who is WHERE THEY ARE. You do not enter a gate from the back paddock, into the house. You have to be where it is, don’t you!
Int: Sure. I see the Psalm goes on , "Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting." I guess I am not very thankful, but it is now becoming quite ridiculously obvious why that is so. I do not know Him, am not a sheep of His pasture and hence do not feel thankful, exuberant, rejoicing, like shouting, and if I did, would not know what to place within my shout for content, anyway!
Robert: Precisely. CONTENT is found where He is, and obviously there arises that little question: Has anyone found out what that is ? When you know the mix for strong concrete, you do not need to experiment for ever. You just use it. You can check it; but if it is there, it is usable.
Here you ask, Has God made any approach to ME to SHOW me where the gate is ?
It is obvious that mere bouncings about in the intellectual or spiritual universe, or the emotional condominion are not very productive. They vary so much, and there is discipline required. Even then, when one finds that there is NO OTHER WORD ON EARTH but the Bible which shows decisively and conclusively that it COULD come from no other source, exhibits in the laboratory of history a lack of competition, shows the height of the majesty involved and the detail of knowledge which only God could both HAVE and EXACT of the universe, so that it would do what He predicted (ONE error would lead to a maelstrom of contrary events, spreading like the ripples from a stone, throughout history - things covered in SMR Ch.8), there is still a question.
Int: I know. It works for others, why should it do so for me ? But even I can see the answer to that simple ask. If GOD indicates the WAY the gate opens, and WHERE it is, then it is simple. One goes where it is and puts the hand to the door.
Robert: The gate ? Jesus Christ. History has no equal, prophecy no counterpart (SMR Ch.6, Repent or Perish Ch.2), logic no alternative (Repent or Perish Ch.7) and life that endures, no other option. The Father of spirits STATED He would be pierced, cursed, murdered, rise in 3 days from the dead; and He was; and He did. Just to fail in the miracle because of timing would be quite fatal. Lazarus had to be raised from the dead from the tomb where he would have been stinking, or else Christ would be instantly discredited. But when it came to His own body, it had to be not merely DONE, but DONE ON TIME, and His rising had to be not merely credible, but transforming so that death no longer mattered to the battered but now fearless disciples. (For a fuller treatment of Christ and His disciples and the necessity of the bodily resurrection, see SMR Ch.6.)
None could hold that body down; none could release it from storage to discredit the Christians. Neither motive nor power were present. No Christian could ask for hell by pretending a false Messiah was the true one; and no one could hope to steal the body to rouse a clan to overcome Rome. Minus the resurrected body, the claim of its raising would be tantamount to a self-defeating absurdity. True disciples could not be convinced; false ones would lack incentive.
Pretence ? It would put God at enmity, facts at odds, produce a leader focus minus the leader himself, clear fraud and rank farce: a myth without mastery. It would mean the guards had to be careless about losing their lives, and that the authorities had to connive and give the 'sleeping' guards money to silence them, when it should have been the authorities who would castigate the guards. The NEED for the priestly party to HAVE it PROVEN that the body did rot was as near to infinite as this world can go; it was personal, legal and moral; it was professional and it was self-attesting. Fail in this and their puny power would look pitiful: immoral, outrageous and ineffectual! Rome had to evacuate any would-be king; and yet was something far worse: a man they could not kill, whose body was their preserve and whom they could not KEEP in order and under observation AT ANY PRICE!
NO ONE could do ANYTHING, either then or later. NOTHING could be found, in motive, in power to subvert, to move. EVERYTHING could be found in power to motivate, activate and convince. The case opens like a door, and shuts like a prison gate. It is the GATE of Christ Himself, access to life everlasting, which has to be sought. The integrity of Christ could find NO SHADOW to haunt it, no word to discount it, then as now, and then as before then, HE was the ONE rendering all attack, verbal, moral, spiritual, physical, and all exposure, through death and disease, hopeless, since He conquered both continually. He could not EVEN BE MANIPULATED WHEN DEAD. His disciples were astonishingly SATISFIED and FIRED with words of His resurrection (Acts 2,4), in the most public way, in the most engaging manner, in the most scripturally accurate sense; and all was hung on a corpse which was not there.
In fact, like a rocket, it was hung on the dynamic which surged and could not be stopped, because the power to do so, in this as in all things, was nowhere to be found on earth. Motives of envy and church authoritarianism were like millstones around the neck of His adversaries. NOTHING could be found and nothing rational could be said. HE HAD DONE IT AGAIN. THAT is the way with God. It is IMPOSSIBLE to BEAT HIM, WHATEVER the odds, the powers raised. They are, after all, merely some of the things He has made and over which He has that personal and perfect control, in the end, which is the Creator's privilege. He knows it all, and has made it, freedom included, to serve Him.
GET ME THAT BODY! WE COULD IMAGINE the ecclesiastical mafia saying! But it could not be found. No money, no influence, no breaking of 'secrets', NOTHING could find it. It was under its own locomotion and moved in ways no longer limited to, but entirely substantial upon, this earth. It was not there because it was risen. It was quite literally IMPOSSIBLE to 'find' it since it was not a body, but the flesh equipment of the risen Christ, who showed life and immortality in this as in all things.
WITH the risen body, the core of the disciples would be galvinised, the lovers of the Lord would be astonished, the most doubtful would become heroic (like Thomas - John 20), fear would become fearlessness and intimidation would become a boldness knowing no limits. You would get what we got.
That of course, in other words, is precisely what happened: when lightning strikes, you can tell by what it does. When Christ arose, not only did ALL emergency plans, intended to KEEP THAT FELLOW DOWN, such as moved the enemies to ask for a guard in the first place, fail to extinction, but sorrow became fearless joy and troubled minds about what His rising from the dead should mean now needed no tuition! (Mark 9:10, 31-32, Luke 9:44-45). The gate of knowledge and the gateway of power were one and the same, and both were to be found in the never to be defeated Jesus the Christ, whose very death was not some self-serving euthanasia, but a willing sacrifice for a necessary function, to deliver us form sin by making just payment. Only in that way could God be just and the justifier of those (Romans 3:25ff.) who believe in Him. Hence HE is Himself the gate.
Int: But HOW do you turn it ? I mean, it seems quite a bit presumptuous to me to go up to a gate which is a Person and ‘turn’ Him ? After all, you speak quite a bit about spirit, and if there is one thing about spirit which I detest, it is being arrogant, self-assured and blindly self-centred, as if the spiritual universe owed you a living and you just blunder about expecting everyone to do what you NEED because YOU need it, great thing!
Robert: This is exactly right. In fact, in Isaiah 66:2, God says that to THIS person He will look, one of a contrite spirit and who trembles at His word.
Int: Yes, I see. You come and say, I am a creature, part of your creation, and mercifully and thankfully, have a spirit, and want to talk to you.
Int: And then… Thanks
for making me. I want to know you… Oh! I know there are faults, and that
my temper (or whatever) is not quite what it could be, and my consistency
of virtue has had its lapses … and
Robert: Look! Why not go MUCH further ? What about something like this: Thanks for making me. I am far from a clever, let alone an expert exponent of what you have made, and must confess rather frankly that I have laid waste to some of your commandments, for example have not even worshipped you, except perhaps at odd times in a rather vague sort of fashion, and ask you to forgive me what you could well regard as an unpardonable omission. Please forget about the past and open the door to the future for the sake of the Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Int: I would not feel quite right stopping at that. What about adding this: My life is not under your control, and I might as well admit it. I am a space ship in the midst of space with fantastically clever contrivances on board, but the ultimate guidance of my affairs has very definitely and completely (as far as I willed AND could make it), and whether for good or bad, I have followed my own mind, yielded to my own spirit, whether in hope or pride, in self-will or self-fulfilment, and I truly am sorry about all this. Please pardon me, and accept me… BUT WAIT A MINUTE! WHY ON EARTH SHOULD HE! I do not wish to presume!
Robert: THAT is the point. Christ came to earth to save sinners - the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. If IT is not interested and you are, you must clearly DISTINGUISH yourself FROM IT, and repenting, ASK Him, since He came for sinners, to take this one.
Int: Good. Fair enough. Will do. But CAN I ?
Robert: YOU ARE INSTRUCTED to enter into His gates in Psalm 100:4. DO IT.
Int: But would I be
good … enough. No, wait a minute. Of course that would be a ridiculous
question. IF HE COMMANDS ME TO ENTER, then that is all. It is, I suppose
because I am not acting as a sheep that it is right to turn around and
act as a sheep, and to become one, why of course, I enter into His gates.
Robert: "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture" - John 10:9. SO HE is the door; YOU are TOLD that if you enter, you will be saved. John 10:27-28 tells you that in fact He gives to you eternal life and you won’t perish, and that there is in existence NO POWER that can make it happen otherwise.
Int: How could I be sure if I entered, He would receive me ?
Robert: I know the sort of tremors and uncertainties that can arise in the analytical mind. It is quite good to face them; we were not given a mind to allow it to lie waste. "He who comes to Me I will CERTAINLY NOT cast out!" - John 6:37. THERE is the guarantee. Actually it is much deeper than that. "Christ Jesus CAME into the world to save sinners" - I Timothy 1:15. THAT was His purpose. If you went to a surgeon, would you expect him to wonder if he would do surgery ? Of course, there is the cost. With Christ, HE paid it! "The Son of man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many!"- Matthew 20:28.
You OBEY His command to come, accept His invitation to come, DO NOT congratulate yourself, for if HE opens the eyes of your mind and the vision of your spirit to see, then THANK HIM FOR THAT AS PSALM 100 tells you to do. Come into His courts with thanksgiving. After if you did not make yourself, what you are is His affair; and if you have sinned, then that too is for Him to fix; and if He fixes it, who is it that fixes it ?
Int: How simple! THAT is why one shouts, enters, comes, sings, and is thankful. He is OMNI-COMPETENT and I do not have to worry about my will or anything else. If HE gives me repentance, then HE who make my free spirit understands all those things, and to HIM I attribute the mercy of being found. Come, let’s go!
Robert: Good. Enter then.
Int: O God, I am a sheep of your pasture who has strayed from your care, NOT entered into your gate at all, let alone come as a sheep who belongs constantly to your premises, and I am sorry for all this. It is ridiculous of me, and grand of you, and I receive Jesus the Christ, your offering, as for me, and His work as gate is for me. I enter now. Thank you for your GOODNESS, as the Psalmist says, so it is, and for your everlasting mercy. It has waited for me, and I come now to you who do not change, for I know in the Psalm too, it says this: "His truth endures to all generations." Thank you for that. I am so glad it endured long enough for me, though I know your ways do not change, for all depends on you, and none is your Director who directs all. You are what you would be and will be what you are, for all time is as a moment to you, and you are past all goodness, the author and original of it, knowing all, being what your name is.
Robert: One last thing
amongst these first things (being born again is birth, one has the
whole of spiritual LIFE AFTER THAT - you know, LIFE AFTER BIRTH!):
"Bless His name!" That is in Psalm 100:4. But you have really done
that just now, thanking for "being what your name is," as you put it.
Int: Bless His name! NOW I know what that means too. How simple this Psalm is. It is like a nice clear, well-marked road map. You know, there are others I want to bring to the gate.
Robert: Then lead them. Only the Lord can open their hearts, but you can bring them to the gate. Come now and let us look together in fellowship with the Lord, further into His house. It is splendid in proportion, beautiful for praise, and He in it, He DOES wonders, and acts for the one who waits for HIM! There is the thing to watch: STAY on the inside in your heart. Do not allow anyone to tell you that God this or God that, and that it would be fine to do this and that, like joining with the swim. False prophets are two a penny today. Some seemed good once, but apparently they have loved this present world, and numbers seem natural to them. God however is supernatural.
Int: Where HE is and HIS WORD IS, THAT is where I shall be.
Robert: May the God of everlasting mercy bless you. May you "come before HIS PRESENCE with singing"!
Int: SINGING! In HIS
PRESENCE! That is wonderful. Of course, my invisible spirit and His nature
as Spirit, we get together, and I am in HIS PRESENCE, and so can talk and
walk and think and plan in His presence. THAT, it is enough to MAKE one