W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
First, who is it who is to be trusted ? The Lord revealed, or unrevealed, the series of letters - L-O-R-D or the Person to whom they refer ? The answer is obvious: It says, Come unto me, and You will not come to me, rather than - You will not come to the series of letters.
Now who is this 'ME' ? Is it a Person to be construed according to one's mind or according to the scriptures ? Paul answers this. 11 Corinthians 11 tells us that if another Jesus should be presented, the erring Corinthians might well believe him. It is compared with accepting a different gospel or another Spirit (11:4). The case is decisive, for the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every who believes (Romans 1:16). In other words, part of believing in, trusting in the Lord, is believing the gospel about Him. This helps to define who He is and how He chooses to be related; it identifies Him and His business in contradistinction to someone else, who is on other business, or in another spirit.
How, further, does Paul characterise these preachers to whom he takes exception in terms like those above ? He calls them ''false apostles, deceitful workers'' and makes it apparent that he is thinking in terms of ministers of Satan (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
It is therefore perfectly clear that we are dealing with a Person who is revealed in words and by His Spirit, who has a message which must be believed: contrary action to that given on this topic meaning an insurmountable problem to salvation, meaning in fact that Satan is at work. It is therefore not enough to 'trust the Lord', if by 'the Lord' you mean your private concept and not the scriptural designation in terms of the Gospel (cf. I Corinthians 15:1-11) . This is hardly surprising. If Eisenhower gave indications of his military strategy and someone on his staff would not accept this, but went on his own way, whilst asserting nevertheless his fealty towards, trust in and support for Eisenhower, we would be inclined to consider him daft or a hypocrite.
No man, said Jesus, can be my disciple except he take up his cross and follow me (Luke 14:27). In 14:33 He tells us that whoever he be of you who does not forsake all that he has, he cannot be my disciple. Thus in John 12:45-50, Jesus is at pains to make clear that all He speaks is binding in that 'whatsoever' He speaks, He hears from His Father (v.50), and that this His word will act as judge, in the Judgment... The words are to be believed as part of believing in the One who said them (cf. John 8:47).
This last reference makes the point emphatically:
He who is of God hears God's words: you therefore do not hear them, because you are not of God.The teachings, the truths and the truth: All are to be believed. So to believe man by himself, is folly; not so to believe God speaking on earth, is fantasy. Not to believe this of Him, is not to believe Him; for so He claimed (John 8:58 cf. Section 4 supra).
Is not refusal to conform to this, a case of not forsaking all that you have - such as the personal predilections of your mind, its choicely esteemed and personalised, chosen channels, or your concepts in their culture ?
Again, if any man preaches any other gospel, then he is accursed (Galatians 1:6-9). This 'different' gospel is 'not another' (cf. II Corinthians ll:4). What then, will a man refuse to eat the bread of life, and yet be saved ? Will he refuse to drink 'the blood' and yet be owned by Christ ? Not if Christ has anything to do with it! (Cf.John 6:53-54, Colossians 1:14,21-22, John 6:62-63.) And one would think the Saviour to whom all judgment is committed (John 5:22) would not be baulked in this...
Further, if one believes the revelation of Him rather than some other revelation or gospel, then quite expressly, His words are here statedly those of His Father (John 12:45-50, 7:17, 5:30,24,44-47, Matthew 7:21-27). Indeed, they also contain positive requirements and specifications of an utterly final kind, amidst their categorically claimed divine authority (e.g. John 5:2-24,39-40, 6:53-54, 8:24,36, Luke 13:1-3, 10:9, 11:25-26, 12:47-50, Luke 14:27,33). John 6 :53-54 shows, as illustration, that acceptance of this, His sacrifice (not of course a divine suicide at the Last Supper, but the real redemptive sacrifice wrought by Christ's own will and men's hands at Calvary - John 10:17-18, Acts 2:23) is essential to everlasting life. It like numbers of matters listed, is categorical. It all centres on Him; but what He is is, self-defined, in the presence of the Father (John 5:31-32, 8:29).
Indeed, you do not find Christ in a quandary, quizzical, baffled; burdened for sinners, yes; baffled by problems, no. Discretely but categorically and continually He reveals His authority, without being authoritarian; He bears testimony to the truth, part of which is this: that He and His Father are One (John 10:30,33).
Thus Jesus Christ declared: "If anyone hears My words and does not believe ..." (John 12:47, cf. vv.48-50, John 7:16-19, 8:31,47, 14:21-23): in a context of judgment. "He who is of God hears God's words" (John 8:47), He declared, with these decisive words: "You therefore do not hear them because you are not of God." You will see that it is made a criterion of categorising who is who, relative to God.
The 'words' are the criterion (cf. Matthew 5:17-19) ! Christ in fact refers in John 12:47 to this hearing and not believing in the 'words' context, and then proceeds in v.48 to re-state it: "He who rejects Me and does not receive My words, has that which judges him..." and what is that ? "The word" (cf. John 12:49-50, 5:43-47, 1:14) "that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." He is the word, in John 1:1-14. How would you believe the word and yet reject what He had to say ? That is a crucial function. His requirement therefore is scarcely surprising; moreover, it is not given in a spirit of judgment, but in the light of His mission, to save! (John 12:47). He is not setting up a sort of verbal concentration camp with guards; He wishes to save; but the frank disavowal of what He declares does not comport with who He is, that is, God-on-earth, and suggests departure from His very identity.
Similarly in John 8, Jesus states and is questioned about this dictum: ''If anyone keeps my word, he shall never see death'' - in a context of gross hostility on the part of the questioners, who find the authority implicit in the claim intolerable; just as this in turn shows their unbelief in Him.
The attitude to the words is the correlate
of the attitude to the Person who speaks them here. "Why do you not
understand My speech ? Because you cannot listen to my word," states
Jesus Christ (John 8:43 ... cf. 8:47, 12:47). Thus the attitude to the
speaker corresponds to the attitude to His words.
Does this mean that someone who rejects
declares, will be damned? If by faith someone actually conceives that something
is what Jesus declared, authentically, and yet rejects that as a matter
of fact, deeming it false, it seems that person is refusing to 'hear' His
words and is categorising himself as not 'hearing God's words because...
not of God' - if this is the final response. You see, at this level, you
are heeding another... person. This Person does not err. You cannot
teach your Master what is the truth, when He is the truth (John
14:6, 8:45-46). He delivers doctrine on many points, even including its
source and status.
Such a basic view of Scripture itself implying some question of its being a true record per se - as if God did not in fact provide one, and hence made His Son up for artistic grabs by any creative theologian or popularist: this is a case which, in Paul's terms, means you are averse to what God has done and, using your creative ability (cf. Jude 3,8, Romans 16:25, I Thessalonians 2:13, John 14:26) as a Messiah Manufacturer, defile the truth (II Corinthians 10:12, 11:4-15). Autonomy does not bow. (Cf. Psalm 101:3, 119:145-168, Jeremiah 23:16-40, Micah 2:7, Matt. 5:17-19.) I do not know whether in Australia the Commonwealth Government would find such a work commendable for export purposes, if it generated largish foreign trade; but I do know what is the opinion of the apostle of these distant biographers.
What however if you have textual reason for questioning some part of scripture; what if there is some scholarly matter involving objective texts as to whether something was in fact in the original scriptures ? This is a highly special case. In my experience many people seem in fact to question things for no reason other than their own culture, preference or caprice; or moral desires - or for that matter, immoral ones. If however it is not a spiritual rebellion as such, and the transmitted texts do indeed provide real and objective ground for query, as to the original, this is a matter of faithful scholarship.
Actually, there is no room for any doubt on any doctrine because of such a case. The matter may have been clouded by the errant practice of fiddling with the text because someone 'thinks' (through some spiritual opacity very often) it is difficult, at times, to be assured with certainty of some word or word form. 'Inventive' minds may be active with superb effrontery at times, in this. However, in terms of what is objectively available in the texts, no doctrine is at stake through variants, as has often been noted, and I have often checked in processing materials.
There are of course 'wonder' feats, as for example in the case of Westcott and Hort in their travesty of textual criticism, on the basis of absurdly imperfect old MSS carefully checked as such by scholars of the highest rank and exposed in detail (Dean Burgon is only one example). Even this, however, does not make the actual facts of manuscript evidence break down on any doctrine, though it is a testimony to the delusive power which unbelief may generate. Pickering's The Identity of the New Testament Text, and the Dutch maestro Van Bruggen, have done much valuable work here. We can happily leave to God the results of such textual effrontery as men like these so well and ably (and fascinatingly) expose. It was a good 'try' of nether magic made last century, but even at that, it does not alter the case.
The point is this: The Gospel is inviolable and must be believed; and it is so highly particular that Paul spends much of one epistle differentiating it from other related fare, and denounces fiddlers (Galatians; II Corinthians 4:2-4). The words of Christ are inviolable in authority.. Rejection of these sayings - and some people left Him in practice because of His sayings, since they did not want them the only substantive option and it is well to face it - is rejection of Christ (John 6:66-69). No Lord who is truth and speaks the truth, is corrigible; and if not, why differ ?
God did not send Christ for a fun ride, and fail despite His Almight to keep the relevant issues clear. Explicit in the sermon on the mount is this simple fact: the sayings are decisive and the Lord will judge (Matthew 7:21-29); and relation in practice to these sayings is wisdom or otherwise. Implicit in John 5, 8 and 12 is the consideration that the words will judge at the last judgment. It follows that they are relevant before then ... and must be preserved, as indeed Isaiah 59:21, Psalm 111 and ... Matthew 24:35 inform us is the case. Logic and revelation alike require it. We are not accountable for minor variations of the text, nor are they for any variations in doctrine; but we are accountable for the clear teaching of the text.
Thus, firstly, question about which sayings He in fact gave is not legitimate where there is no textual ground, for it second guesses the divine mind, an absurd proceeding. Secondly, it is not legitimate as, contrary to numerous scriptures, including those extant when Christ spoke, it assumes or presupposes God did not manage to preserve what He states He does preserve (Psalm 111) and will preserve (Isaiah 59), and will not pass away (Matthew 24). How could a man be judged for not accepting His words - (and the statements are not time-limited till He come), if the words remaining are some contorted nonsense, and they alone were available ?
If however there arise some minutiae, little questions such as may sometimes be seen and verified as having no doctrinal importance because of their nature, or because of the rest of the texts being so clear, what is that ? It does not really affect the issue at all. Doctrine is unaltered; including the teaching on the authority of His words. The utter intransigance of the Bible to fiddling and refashioning, in its clarity on all doctrine is shown in SMR Appendix D, with Appendix C, and never has one met a case where endeavours to find the original text allow the slightest difficulty either about doctrine or basic fact of any kind whatsoever. A significant number of texts appear in Bible Translations, which illustrates this. It is understanding which is always the criterion, not verbal mechanics. Light makes manifest, and where it is, the case is clear! (cf. Colossians 1:17ff.).
Much more therefore is involved in the presentation and provision for salvation of the Son of God, than 'trusting' without creation and without gospel. The creation indeed is made part of the whole presentation of the gospel in Colossians 1:12-23, as stated or implied often enough in the gospels, as in Matthew 19:1-9, 25:34, John 17:5, Mark 13:19. This does not mean damnation for the slow of mind. It is rejection which is crucial. It is a case of - Reject His words, reject Him.
In the long run, people accept or do not, the authority and nature and identity of Christ and the truth of His words. If they do not, they are in fact dealing with a fallible person who ought not to be confused with Jesus Christ. As Paul says in I Corinthians 14:37, "The things that I write to you are the commandments of the Lord" - cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9-13. God will do the judging; but let us not deceive ourselves, for Christ has already said that His words will judge us and asks, "Why do you not understand my speech ?" He replies for them, saying: "Because you are not able to listen to My word," proceeding as we see, to describe the 'father' in view - the devil. "He who is of God hears God's words." (Italics added - Greek remata: see p. 1166 infra; cf. Matthew 7:21 ff..)
God is expressive. Man is able to be
impressed. We accept or reject Christ and may be rejected through His speech.
Thus there is the righteousness of God and the heavenly love. And that?
It is - Love which rejoices in the truth (I Corinthians 13:6).
A. Thus it is not the case that belief in creation is essential to salvation, per se. Someone may not yet have seen, or read, or heard, or considered this element.
B. Yet faith is in the apostolically-and-scripturally-proclaimed-Christ (the Lord's Christ, Luke 2:26), that Christ bodily risen (Luke 24:38-9), and by faith received as ransom sacrifice. It is not in a roll-your-own-'Christ'.
C. What is the case, relative to the doctrine of creation, is that such a belief is in the writings of Paul, the words of Jesus Christ and in the Old Testament, and it is required. If, in the long run, a person duly prepared wishes to reject it: then that person is tilting at the authority of the Lord, and the church is not broad enough to include such a one; for a captive Christ is not the historical One, nor is the captive, the Lord. He is gloriously free, always has been, always will be, and even in the throes of 'judgment' against Him, He acted by will and so was free even when bound (John 10:15,17-18, Psalm 40:6-7); and He confers His freedom in a way befitting the created-recreated-redeemed ones, His people (John 8:32, 11 Corinthians 3:17), both loving us and loving to do it (Revelation 1:5-8, Psalm 40:1-3).
D. Let us be clear. It is not, and never has been the case that evidence must thereby be ignored. There has never been anything in the way of careful observation and scientific law to support objection to creation; rather the opposite. As to the relevant definitive type of upward-grading (and hence relevant) 'evolution': it has never been seen, never been part of a scientific prediction-verification draft, has not even yielded systematic retrodiction by which to seem to validate, by theory, what 'must' have happened - even after it is supposed to have happened, a dunce of a 'scientific' theory, if ever there was one!
Indeed, deep variants are pushed as to the theory - by what steps, and why things happened the way it is assumed (not seen, not measured) that they happened. No principle for the envisaged evolutionary process is seen, and the opposite is seen, and grandly enshrined not only in the laws of common sense but of science. All this we have seen (esp. Ch.2 supra). It is well to remind ourselves here...
E. Even fossil frauds lacked logical base, just as they later lacked universal evidential credibility and acceptability. Such objection to creation, then, is a view foisted upon science and religion alike, irrationally so, an extravaganza of undisciplined thought, intrusive into, parasitic upon and alien to both science and scripture. All this also has been seen in Chapter 2 supra.
With such delusive propaganda, for example, as seen in the noted Circular of the South Australian Education Department, January 5,1988, to name one of the almost innumerable examples, we need to remind ourselves of the facts. The facts ? they are in danger of becoming like vintage cars, seen on Sunday rallies, but forgotten in the traffic; or Russian history, manifested on change of certain governments. In all areas, truth must be preserved without the fiasco of arbitrary authority; rather with the power of tested reality.
F. To reject creation is a vast step. It is not only to affirm a religion, as Popper at least has clearly noted. It is also to endorse elements of a whole alternative and irrational belief system ... (which is no 'other', to echo St. Paul), and to secede from the Saviour's authority by preference. This, says Christ, in the area of preference, is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). The principle of dark-lit negative preference is in general of great and in the end, crucial importance. Nor is faith confined to moral issues.
To secure to oneself such an 'alternative' system is to secede, we note, from the Saviour's sovereign jurisdiction by preference. By faith, however, we believe that the invisible gave birth to the visible, so that it is written, the observable is not the source of design (frame); but the invisible is ! (Hebrews 11:1-3).
Now what is written in this same book, indeed in this same chapter of it, in fact 3 verses later than the just cited statement on creation ? It is this.
Without faith, you cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).It does not say, 'may not'; rather is it 'can not'.
That Jesus who is Christ the Lord (Matthew 19:4-6) explicitly gave the male-female account from Genesis, including the reasoning from the event, to the behaviour that followed, and on which He adjudicated.
Further, Jesus called Himself the truth (John 14:6) and a man who told them the truth, asking why, in view of that, they went about to kill Him (John 8:40). Paul regards and teaches Christ as the very basis for anything's existence and cohesion indeed (Colossians: 1:15-17), notes that the process by which things have arrived en scène is creation, and does so in the logical and exegetical presentation of what the Gospel is.
It involves whose kingdom the Christian enters, who that Person is, what He did in creating, what He redeems, and how He is in all things pre-eminent therefore. From this presentation, which has in its interstices "redemption through His blood" (1:14 cf. Ephesians 1:7), we proceed to Colossians 1:19-23, where the ''fulness'' of divine glory in Christ is traced, as basis and background for the peace on the cross, through His blood. This is for the vast design of reconciliation, multidimensionally, of the ungodly who come to believe.
It is in this Person, in the body of His flesh (Colossians 1:22), that the Christian is to be presented "holy and umblameable and unreprovable": by whom is both Creation and Redemption, from whom is both Majesty and Sufficiency. This in turn leads to the propriety and wonder of the amazing mystery to which Paul gives in wonder and delight his testimony: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
This great crescendo and consummation may be seen in many aspects; but here in Colossians, it is seen with concentration on the broader realities of the authenticity and grandeur of the Person and work of Christ. Always implicit, it is here explicit; often noted, it is exegeted in this context of salvation, Paul propounding the very kernel of the gospel in base and application, with the scope and spread of this content present, practical and praised.
Creation does not, of course, preclude the variety of a thing, its established parameters (such as seen in the case of giants, noted Genesis) and so on. Something can include a variety in a way which is constitutive of, not divergent from its own dimensions and frame of reference, as part of its being: of what it is. You do not have to be very observant to note, for example, that men differ now markedly in size, face, features, and yet are for 'a that' ... men ! You do not need to assume Paul did not notice this, or refused the dimension of variability within a kind (as he travelled the civilised world - Acts 17:26): this is one which may be inherent in a particular creation, part of what it is, depending on the case .
The things themselves, in their defined categories, whatever their internal design-limits of variability, arrived by creation: things physical and in man, the lot. Even sinners, for example, are still human (though of course, as with much abuse, there is a consummation of desolation, typified by the fires of rubbish in Jerusalem's Gehenna).
Thus part of the very program of the designed entity or article may be its scheduled capacity to be adapted - as we exhibit with a car having various devices available, like four wheel drive, or over-drive - for selection on demand. That is part of the schema, of the fascination of the prescribed plasticities which arrive at their limits and levels of tolerance, as seen in 'pure' strains, noted earlier. This as Dr Tinkle shows so well, is part of the calibre of a kind.
This decisive character of things being created in their kinds then, with all their wonder, this is what is taught ... and great is the 'faith', imagination and dedication to illusory delusion which would will - one can scarcely say 'see'- it otherwise. Nor again, should we imagine that judgment is not included as a variable in the plight and state of the whole creation - it is just the arrival that is by creation. The curse, so blatantly apparent in scripture and in life- as we read in Genesis 3 and Romans 8:19-23 - has its impact both on environment and variability in ways scarcely suggestion of evolution! Indeed, more as an increase in entropy, in disorder and in degradation do we see change of order in things. It is this which is seen, if we may return to the almost forgotten element of what happens.
Creation is the apostolic, the prophetic,
the Messianic teaching; and contrary teaching, like any other contrary
teaching, in the end faces such disciplinary procedures as Titus 3 and
Romans 16:17 in fact enjoin, and require. In Titus, we are concerned with
the phenomenon of variant teaching, indeed variant belief relative
to that given, and maintained in the face of instruction (Titus 3:10, cf.
1:9, 1 Timothy 3, II Timothy 4:2,2:24-25, 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The directive
in Romans is specific to the teaching that is false; although in
the end, any who defend and announce in the face of correction what he/she
deems right, in such a style that the scripture is stated or implied wrong
(the criterion), is 'teaching' at length.
Indeed, for One called the Word, who was with God and was God (John 1:1-3), the 'part' that does not speak is decidedly hard to find... You don't have, by itemisation, to focus belief on every scripture, as in a muscle flexing program, to be saved: your understanding alone may have gained only so much. Salvation indeed is not by scholarship! However if you are (as a matter of fact - II Timothy 2:15-19) saved by Christ Jesus the Lord, the Lord's Christ and not man's, then you might reasonably be expected to embrace and receive the scripture and not - the crucial point - to reject it. It is the Lord who opens eyes (Matthew 16:17, John 7:17) and such eyes see. But let no one change his ground.
If it be claimed, Oh but I am ignorant; well, yet does a man set himself up as knowledgeable and enter into direct conflict with the word of God, because he knows himself to be ignorant ! Will a person by nihilistic 'faith', rampant irrationality and mesmeric magic flute existential musics that sack mathematics, purge experience and put a donkey's head on scientific method, or worse, assault the integrity both of the character and of the word of God? ... and so believe organic evolution? Let it be so. It is only one more cultural blasphemy of the mind and spirit, like the abuse of the body. It is no better and has no place.
To enter then into an adversative relationship bordering on, or at the very brink of war, this is not the mark of a disciple of a Lord who is - and we revert to Colossians - Lord of all. Even temporarily, to elect to disbelieve His word is a matter for concern and then, if need be, correction. Indeed, it is, as Christ Himself indicated in terms of criteria, not consonant with continuance. (See John 8:31, 6:66-70, 7:17, 8:44-45.) Note however that in the case of chronic rebellion, it is not the Christian who 'dies', as manifest in such words as John 10:27-28,10:9, Romans 5:1 ff., 8:29 ff.. Rather as taught by Christ in Matthew 13:1-9 in that great sowing parable: the 'seed' of the word of God may die in the unconverted and merely touched hearts, whose nether ground was and is hard, like 'rock', unbroken, untransformed, ultimately unreceptive.)
Rebuke ? (Titus 1:9 is in the same letter as Titus 3:10! cf. 11 Timothy 4:2) . It is indeed no small thing to pass from the feeling of 11 Timothy 2:24-25, to the surgery of 11 Timothy 4:2 or Titus 3 :10; but the same reasonableness and grace may be seen in both physician and surgeon, and though the knife cut, yet it need not lack grace. Since it is the Lord who "knows who are His", rebuke may in His graces be therapeutic. "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (11 Timothy 2:19). Let us rely on the Lord: not human 'wisdom'. (Cf. p. 950 infra.)
Those not corrected go their way; for "can two walk together except they be agreed" ... ? If you love me, says Christ, you will keep my words (John 14:21-23). And if you will not ? That is war, deplorably directed; it is anomalous confusion, breach of the first commandment: that is indeed too near the end of 1 Corinthians :
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema (accursed), says the apostle. Maranatha ( May the Lord come )... (16:22).Pastorally however, there is this distinction: it is one thing to seek to understand, quite another authoritatively to teach amiss. There is the criterion ( cf. John 9:39-41).
Creation of the universe, and the new creation of those drawn back in Christ to its Creator, bring at once triumphant conclusions not merely in the mind and for it, but in the living of life, and with it. Rest however can be a much misunderstood concept, as well as a missed marvel in life. Hence there follows an exposition, true to life, of Hebrews 4:10:
For he who has entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His.How refreshingly different, divergent and yet normal! God acted and rested in the entire creation of the whole universe. Then He stopped that creation. It was finished. Relative to the creative output, the institution of the real estate, the human estate, the spiritual myriads, God rested. The basis was laid. The groundwork was done. The building was complete: all Nature was the building. It has methods of pruning, editorial correction in the cells and outside them, behavioural correction; but it has freedom also. That freedom is abashed but operative still, in many ways, though harassed by sin and humbled by servitude to it.
Christ came. He acted, worked and declared it "finished" also. He came for His own and His own did not receive Him, but as many as did, to them He gave the authority, the power to become children of God! There was a creation, a new creation of cleaned souls! Eternal redemption, as Hebrews advises us, has been purchased!
But now, what of us? We may continue restless, agitated, cogitating coquettishly with conundrums of foolish philosophy, provoked by disbelief; or accept the word of God, and rest upon it. We may proceed, jaded, dispirited, or explosive and assured, disquieted, but knowing no rest in our quest for some unknown and possibly variable good, or fulfilment or whatever it may be! However, we may also accept the eternal redemption, and rest on what God has done in making the universe, then ourselves in particular, then making eternal redemption, to be received, believed; so that men and women, children too, may rest on His goodness, trusting in His mercy.
Thus for such people, for Christians, the structure of things is complete. The purchase that brings liberty has been amply provided, and fully received, so that one is in new employment. Christ is, for example, my employer. I work for Him. For whom else ? There is none so good.
Yet some still seem to become enfeebled through distemper of faith. How is this? Some still feel that they must help God work out the methods, with precision, by which they may be saved; they strain, and crane, and stain, in their tension, the wisdom of truth. They need to reassure themselves or their brethren; they want to create burglar alarms for their mansion, have parades outside it. They do not seem to realise that Christ may be relied upon.
Either their works are paraded, or pined for, or pushed, like the throb of the engine of a small car being used as a misplaced racer... They seem to lack peace, power and propriety. They seem to want to supplement the eternal redemption purchased by Christ. Like nervous investors, they seem to want to get out and dig in the mines!
Now of course there is proper work for investors. First, you should ensure that it is a sound company, has moral principles, sound service, real provisions for those whom it serves. You should see that you have your share certificates - with no confusion. You should use no shady or shallow lawyer, but be alert to the facts.
But what is there in the spiritual situation ? In this case, Christ is the barrister who is provided, if we sin; if any man sin, he has an advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous, says John 2:1. He keeps ... John 10:27-28, what is His. It is not the investor, but the Lord who does the keeping.
For I know whom I have believed, says Paul, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day ( II Timothy 1:12 ),and again:
Blessed be God ... who has begotten us again to a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God (from 1 Peter 1:1-5).To resume the image of an investor: the share certificate is provided: it is written in the Bible in the clear promises of God, and a duplicate copy is written in your heart, if you are His:
You are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God: not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart (11 Corinthians 3:3).Again, Paul writes, under the guidance of God:
The Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16).Not that this creates or should create brashness! On the contrary, we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Why and how ? It is, the apostle declares, because "it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (v.13).
The works of God are reputable and sure; He, says Paul, who has begun a good work in you will "perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
If there is any doubt about whose work it is, then make sure; as Paul says,
Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith: Prove your own selves. Do you not know of your own selves, how Jesus Christ is in you, except you be indeed reprobates (11 Corinthians 13:5).This is basic, that you know on what basis you are based. The rock which is higher than you, is also the foundation on which you are based, if you be His at all!
Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).On that basis you are securely placed! "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect ?", those for whom Christ has died, offered to redeem their sins! Paul in Romans 8 tells us:
It is God who justifies. Who is He who shall condemn ? it is Christ who died yea, rather is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God (Romans 8:33-34).Does not Paul argue it with clearest demonstration! -
But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him ( Romans 5:8-9).But how are you justified by Him ? Once given that, you are founded and will never be confounded. But how is it done ? Again, Paul declares it: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God" (Romans 5:1).
Faith in whom, in what ? In Christ crucified, yea rather risen. In what ? In Him as having been ''delivered up for our offences, raised up for our justification'' (Romans 4:25). With what result ? This, that we accept, receive what is offered, pay it into the heavenly bank account, and rest on the guaranteed credit in Christ, made available through His having died for us; and this, not merely as an offer, but as an offer received, accepted, taken and appropriated by ourselves.
What then ? Then
Whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, those He also glorified (Romans 8:30, cf. 8:17)).With what effect? This:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation ... nay in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37).Indeed, and here is the point to which we are coming:
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life: and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the atonement (Romans 5:10-11).There is a reconciliation (atonement); there is a peace. There is a joy in fulfilment (His!); for... ''By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,'' for He shall bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11). Thus will He: ''see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.''
He has built the house of salvation; you live in it. You must of course make sure you have gone to the right address, and on this we have in passing been looking. But once in, you are sure, you are placed, you are secured:
I am door. By me if any man enter, he shall be saved; and shall go in and out and find pasture ( John 10:9).These preliminaries complete, let us now examine - the folly of restless rest; the wonder of restful rest, and the vigour and vitality of restful labour.
You see, it eventually becomes almost a sort of blasphemy. If Christ is your security, then any effort to construct all or even the smallest part of your security, is an effort (by implication, if not by intention) to construct Christ, and He being God (Philippians 2:6, Colossians 2:9), that becomes an endeavour to make all or part of God, and that is a matter of idolatry.
Small wonder the anxious disquietudes of unbelief can become such menacing, gloomy, pathological seeming things. They are!
The Psalm puts it evocatively:
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him (Ps.37:7),and again:
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Ps.37:4).Can I put it this way, in nautical format: Do not try to build the boat, just use the oars.
God has told you that Christ is His chosen servant, His beloved Son in whom He delights, and (Isaiah 52:11) spoken with praise of His prudence and of His power; so believe Him, in Him, and rely on Him.
The author of Hebrews makes the point concerning Psalm 95 that if Joshua had given Israel rest in this final and functional sense, then there would be no reference later in this Psalm (hundreds of years before Jesus Christ came) saying,
Today if... today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 4:7).Hebrews has spoken of the entire eminence and deity of Jesus Christ (chapter l), the necessity of response (Hebrews 2) amidst His marvellous words and works, dealing dynamically, deliberately and wholly effectively with such deep issues as death:
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for every man (Hebrews 2:9).This 'taste' is a redemption price sufficient for all, but paid to those who receive it. He stresses the entire humanity of the Saviour, His power to understand temptation, His final power in the house of God, and challenges his hearers not to resemble the ancient Israelites (in their symbol), in not entering in to their rest, the path of God in their land.
There is peril in prevaricating here, in procrastinating, or equivocating. Simply go in; go on Christ the Rock, and stand there. Rely on Him! A shrinking from entry cost them their opportunity.
Today, the writer echoes the Psalm, let it be done. Then he uses the marvellous oxymoron,
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:11).Fancy being diligent (hardworking, industrious, providing good application) in a matter of entering into your rest. However, when you come to think of it, when you have had a long, hard day, and have to remove all your (perhaps many) exterior vestments, to keep out the cold, and to find your bedclothes, and prepare, and you are tired, it can be quite a little labour actually to find the receptive and reposeful sheets and... rest.
You have to ensure you are i) at the right address ii) in the right house iii) in the right room, one equipped with a bed. So with Christ: He is the right address, His is the right door, and you have the apt place or room supplied for entering. Does not our text say this very thing:
For he who has entered his rest has himself also ceased from his own works, as God did from His (Hebrews 4:10).Yours is not to construct salvation, which is received not only as a gift (Romans 3:23), but as a gift by grace (Romans 5:15). Gift is the meat or substance of it, and grace is the method of conferment:
For by grace through faith you are saved, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).Do you rely on the Lord, for whom He is, for what He has done, and have you accepted His so great salvation ?
As Hebrews puts it (2:3): ''How
shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation!''
2. The wonder of restful rest
Now you may object, feeling this is a quite shocking case of redundancy. If it is rest, the noun, then it is restful, the adjective. Why ?
You can have a bed and not use it right, either by falling down in a drowsy trance in a failed attempt to hit the sheets; or you can toss and turn on it feverishly.
Rest is inward and spiritual and the most income, plaudits of your peers (or even of your enemies), success in your set tasks can seem to many a mockery: because there is no meaning, no sense, no significance, no future, no destiny, no sense of fitting, matching, being real, being a person with a person-place in life.
A life held in the firm and vice-like ( or indeed, vicious ) grasp of one's own will and efforts, thrust in one's own counsel, and conducted for one's own purposes can be so dead that its morbidity and moribundity can create the unrest - of rotting. Did not Jesus Himself say this:
Unless an ear of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much fruit. He who loves his life will lose it (John 12:24-25).It is a wonder how rest comes. When the ear of wheat ceases, as it were, to try hatching itself (as if it were an egg), germinating in mid-air (as if it were an atom bomb), and prepares to be lowered to the ground, in humility and peace with its design and its fitting purpose, when indeed it is placed below ground level and is buried: then it rises up, well grounded and has life.
So we find:
On this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit and who trembles at My word (Isaiah 66:2).The look of the Lord is worth all good looks and good works; for it is with Him that you have to do; in His light we see light; and in Him is the fountain of life. It is better to please the Lord than to please yourself, for you in yourself are groundless, and know but little of sublime things; but He is sublime! He has done everything; all we have to do is enter Him, and abide in Him, and rely on Him, and accept His sacrifice, and believe in His living power by which He was bodily raised from the dead, and accept His word, because it is His.
We have merely to operate, not build; we have to proceed, not psychologically or emotionally or morally create the procedure. His is the arm, the wit and the wisdom. He has given us wits not to outwit Him, but to work with Him, at His hand, each one as a servant, yes as a friend looking to the master as such! I, who do not (like all men, other than He) so much as know the full story of how my brain works, in its fascinating virtuosity as an organ for my mind, how would I act except in a yieldedness to Him: which is yet active because it is a release that acquires what He gives.
It is rather like a calf that cannot drink because it is too fearful, though help is at hand. Rather, rely and drink; for he who drinks of the water that He gives, thirsts no more. There is rest. How speedily do false ideas, ideals and philosophies seek to take by storm the half-hearted, almost-Christian, pseudo-Christian, quasi-Christian! How truly it is said, that removing one demon may merely lead to seven worse ones; and this, applies ... except the Lord be Sovereign Saviour in one's life.
Not for nothing is His name called 'counsellor' in Isaiah 9:6, for so He is: indeed He is made to us
Wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (I Cor.1:30).Now note the purpose and thrust of this, as the scripture continues straight on:
That, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." Jeremiah has it, further:
Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches: but let him who glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising loving kindness judgment and mercy in the earth. For in these things do I delight,says the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-4).
Isaiah proclaims and predicts of the Lord who should come and save:
To Him shall the Gentiles seek, and His rest shall be glorious (11:10).And so it is. 'His resting place shall be glorious'- says one rendering. Where He is and what He is is the basis of what He provides and as to this:
Come to Me all ye who labour and are heavy laden. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28).Paul announces this also:
He who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things ? (Romans 8:32).If you have Christ, you have it all, for all things are given to Him of His Father. If you have Christ, you have glorious rest; and can be at rest in His glory; for the Father wills that His honour be equal to that of Himself (John 5:19-23). You are in hands more skilful than those of men; you are in the consecrating, consecrated hands of God.
In Isaiah He says:
Yea, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands (Isaiah 49:16),and again of His people,
As a beast goes down into the valley, and the Spirit of the Lord causes him to rest, so you lead your people (Isaiah 63:14).Page 576 continued in the next section