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CALL TO ALMS
THE ARMY OF GRACE FOR THE RACE
THE FACE OF TRUTH
There it is! Survival of the fittest becomes the caterwauling cry of the damned, or those aspiring in that direction by mere self-assertion, as if the creation were for fun, the world were a sport, crushing were curing and selfishness were peace.
It is not this. It is rather the Arrival of the Aptest; nor is even this a selfish mode or motivation. It is not APT in themselves, but APT FOR PEACE, PURITY AND THE POWER OF GOD. Nor is even that for power to prevail FOR THEMSELVES, but for the KINGDOM OF GOD. Nor is it even because of their genes that they so present, but because of their Messiah, who having made, knows how to regenerate His people and present Himself through them, since He both lives in them, guides and girds them.
Aptitude in God's class is not a matter of being the most brazen, the most entirely self-centred, race-centred, family-centred or house-centred, money-centred or power-centred. It is for being AMENABLE to HIM!
In His Kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, it is NOT a matter of achieving by cheating, crushing or pushing, some advance for ANYONE over everyone (Matthew 16:25, 20:26). It is first and foremost a matter of being welcomed home, from afar off, where this race stands, and therefore falls, and its current rate of falling shows that there cannot be much further to go. Then it is a matter of serving Him in love for both Himself and kingdom, and His people; and then loving concern for those still without Him.
A fallen race ? indeed, for we are already both by the appearance and observation of the intense hypocrisy and corruption, fanatical disfaith (q.v.) vested in self, race or other idols, gods of contention which are man's own invention, as well as by the indictment of God's word (Romans 1:17ff., Ephesians 4:17-19, Romans 5:1-17) exactly that. And what does man create for his desire ? Is it not gods such as Allah, the Naturalistic Negative or the Communist Confusion*1: leading to the deaths of millions, whether in the centuries following Muhammad till this very present hour; since 1917; or in the Hitleresque purely racial version of Naturalism, yes or in the Romanist Invention of a God who can be worshipped as bread*2, his thirsty claims coming in their intensity from after the first AD millenium closed, and proceeding till that horror camp in World War II which was called Yugoslavia (cf. SMR Ch. 9, l, incl. p. 920).
Tens of millions have been offered to these gods of delusion.
If Israel in Manasseh's day offered some of their sons and daughters to Moloch, actual sizzling sacrifices of flesh, have not these active delusions offered millions, enough to populate Israel entirely several times over, in their various days ? and if the false prophet Muhammad*3 is now combining, by his Koran, both Jewish blood and Sudanese, blood of Afghans and of those in Bali, terror in Iran and flows in Iraq to this day, is this not a combination of Revelation 6, in its depiction of blood lust, of a sense of slaughter as if it were a commission, precisely the case with many milling Moslem fanatics to this day (not all of course, for not all follow the injunctions in the Koran); together with Matthew 24:24. The latter depicts a mass of false prophets and false christs, and this with the vehement violence for blood fulfils the prophetic depiction.
Not however by any means for this reason alone, but for a spreadsheet of grounds, it is apparent as it was meant to be, and declared that it would come to be, that the return of Christ is near (cf. SMR Ch. 8, at Action in 8a-8d, Answers to Questions Ch. 5). The Lord did not declare that the Remedy of Redemption was necessary (Luke 13:1-3, John 6:50ff., Acts 4:11-12) in order to mislead the human race. He did not lie in order to see who would second guess Him and so find Him by some other means, such as trusting in their own too proud hearts, as if the REAL answer is that God is not like this at all, that it is all some dreadful game or mistake, and that really spiritual people realising this, trust in themselves, judge the word of God too unkind, and continue to meet judgment on the basis that God's word is a lie and theirs is the truth.
Do you think this is an unlikely scenario for ANY sane person ? Far from it. Analyse, reader, your own thoughts or consider those of persons whom you may have met. How often do people DECLINE TO DEAL with God in Christ, because they cannot, nay will not believe that He has REALLY invented a world where sin can lead to such sorrow and suffering, pain and anguish, where earthquakes can smite with iron fist, and typhoons with carefree seeming indifference, just as tycoons can strike with mailed fist demanding their portion of crushed juice from the human race, while summoning a pride intoxicating to their spirits, in order the better to stamp on the poor and stomp on the longsuffering for their witless aims (Isaiah 30:12, 32:7, Amos 2:6-7, Psalm 72:12).
What is behind such a disinclination to believe ? Often it may be this, the view and declaration of this particular class of unbeliever: that I WOULD NOT MAKE A WORLD LIKE THAT! Thus, believing themselves (quite literally) better than God, they believe in themselves and not in Him, reducing Him to a mere shadow of the moral eminence of His creation, which reviews 'Him' with critical eye! Since 'nature' however does not create God but God nature (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go), and the instiller of limiting laws in not made by them but gives them reason for being, this is not at all less than such an assertion of superiority to God Himself.
Now what Creator of all is going to be less equipped, less eminent, less perceptive and less understanding than what has rolled from His production line, yes come from His creative power! If He were to have invented man with power to surpass Himself, we run into two insuperable problems instantly. Firstly, He then would know the means of making what is better than He knows, and know the meaning and creative requirements utterly and actually to institute what was beyond Him: which is of course impossible and a contradiction in terms. Further, and secondly, it would imply that there WAS something more advanced than God, so that He would merely be an object in a grand system of design capacities surpassing Himself, and so not God.
Always it is impossible, moreover, for there to be God and contest that can prevail against Him, since ALL depends in ALL upon Himself, for without this, you have once again a system in which He merely inheres, so that the actual Creator would be the One who made both this 'god' and the system, so that we would not be even talking about God at all in such a setting and scenario!
Does not a moral contestant contest ? If God were deficient and defective in understanding, the contest would be one of mere power in which a righteous creation was pointing out a supreme deficiency in the divine make-up, and so would prevail at once in the domain of truth, in which God would then be deficient, so being a mere product himself, in the midst of, in the milieu of heights and depths in some world which is beyond himself. For this reason, once again, it is not of God that we speak, but of some imaginary being brought out for the purpose of mocking God!
Nor is it possible*4 for God to lie, since a being who CAN lie is one whose words have not created all things according to His own free specifications, whose works are not in accord with His word, or one who designs or desires to extract, extort or crush out of his creation what is for his pleasure, so distorting known truth. Yet an imaginary being whose words twist from His works, being dissatisfied with what He has not made as he would or with himself without it, is again a mere figment, a dependent variable in someone else's system. This is merely a weak being without all power, and hence not the eternal God, on whom all system depends, in its qualifications which He has qualified, and in its limitations which He has delimited.
Consider instead now the fact, then.
Since God has not lied in presenting the Gospel, and since the remedy is indeed necessary in order that His own justice and truth, His word and works, His ultimate reality should not be impugned, molested, degraded and waylaid by mere voluntary creation action which He only has chosen, in making mankind, these things being in tandem: then the REFUSAL to believe it is to collide with reality, and MUST result in doom.
What kind of doom ? The WORST possible it appears, is just this, to be so self-righteous or self-assured or both that you put yourself above any god and all gods, above God Himself, and judging all things, trusting in yourself, go to the grave of bodily degradation, just as your body came from the womb of non-existence into the light: you then would go a parody of mankind, making illimitable your own wisdom in the face of your own obvious limitations, resting on what you did not create, do not understand and could not, even if you would.
NO TRUTH is available to any where there is none; and those who evacuate God evacuate all option for truth, and hence but err when they talk of it on their own model and system, in these things: since then there is mere interaction and reaction and nothing has that absolute on which all depends. Impossible metaphysically, it becomes ludicrous epistemologically, and so does death seal the contract with hell.
It is not a language too strong. God Himself uses such a phrasing! Consider therefore Isaiah 28:16-18.
"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
'Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone,
a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation:
he who believes shall not make haste.
'Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet:
and the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
'And your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with hell will not stand; when the overflowing scourge passes through, then you will be trodden down by it.' "
SIN IS QUITE AS BAD AS IT SEEMS, and strangling truth (or crucifying it if you prefer) is not a way of achieving vitality, immortality or probity.
While the LOVE of God mitigates, yes annuls hell for the believer, it is the CROSS of Christ which effects this, and in Him the entire portrayal of human violence, viciousness and degradation is depicted. It is seen there, even that from religious people with their own gods, indeed even from those who dare to name the name of GOD and still not follow Him, purveyors of violence as Romanism and Islam, yes or makers of pseudo-gods with power but no glory, ascription but no confirmation, imagination but no performance (cf. SMR pp. 867ff., Highway to Hell, Aviary of Idolatry).
In all this, sin in the end is impervious impenitence.
But you may ask, Is ANY sin as bad as that ? It is not necessarily as impenetrably impenitent as that, to be sure, but we are talking about the case 'in the end'! Do you notice that phrase in the paragraph above. In the end, sin qua sin, sin that retains its form, character and meaning, REJECTS the call to righteousness, to its donation even as a gift, to its procurement AS a gift even by the crucifixion of God's only begotten Son sent for just such a purpose, yes for that VERY purpose (II Cor. 5:17ff., Romans 5:1-17); and so it is indeed of that character.
Even before it matures, sin is a rupture and an irruption, the one of bonds of felicity with God, and the other of self, be it 'sanctified' by the 'gift' of false prophecy or secured by traditional cultural bonds. It is after all the person himself, herself who takes the thing, the sin, the idol, the substitute for God, whatever the offering medium!
SIN is as bad as that. It ruptures reality in the heart, reviles the beauty of holiness in spirit, if not in word, and secures a disruption of purity. In heaven, it cannot be AT ALL.
Those who aim for heaven should realise this, for there is NO SCOPE AT ALL for sin in heaven; otherwise not only would God eternally grant leave for what is godless, but because it is godless and in irruption against the truth, there would be and COULD BE NO REST! which of course is a mistake about destination, for such is the prerogative, not of heaven, but of hell itself.
God is a Spirit, and these things matter infinitely. Love should not blind to the fact that truth is there; nor the marvels of divine mercy and compassion to the fact that truth hurts when sin is present, and sin has been deemed so horrendous that the aweful anguish of the Cross was declared necessary to clear the books, cover the guilt and secure the majestic purity of justice in judgment, that pardon might be true and peace assured in realism, not mere connotation.
THE CALL TO ALMS
There is, even now, in this world, a call to alms therefore.
It is not for mere giving of food here or a blanket there, though this good work is by no means to be deprived of praise, when it is done with a pure heart and in compassion. It is primarily a call for something which is crucial to spiritual life, a SPIRIT of GIVING. Now to give to any large extent, you have to be rich; and since the ultimate gift to man is one for his spirit on which his aims, thoughts, values and hopes all depend, as if it were the steering in a car: there has for any really effectual giving to be great riches IN spirit; for otherwise, what do you give ? Your sinful self perhaps ? You say, I am not sinful! Well, have it out with I John, who declares that if you think you have no sin, you deceive yourself. Assuredly, you are not likely, and this mercifully, to deceive anyone else in so self-vaunting a claim.
This author has heard it made on two occasions (one approximate in designation!) and in both cases it would almost make the hair stand on one's head to hear the sources from which such claims were made! Without sin ? is it where sin abounds, biblically expressed, that such sanctity is imagined!
IF you have known God in spirit and truth since you were born, and IF you have considered others as yourself for the same span, IF you have loved your neighbour as yourself in all situations, and IF you have crossed into self-righteousness and pride NEVER, and know it on secure grounds, so that your self-estimate is a perfect prize of humility and self-abasement, lest you boast; and IF moreover, you have sacrificed yourself constantly for Christ, always esteeming His will and wishes above your own in all things, and further, IF you have prayed through your every significant decision since childhood, making request in faith, and expecting the answer in truth; and IF moreover you have loved God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, so that not your imagined self-estimate but His glory has always been your goad, guide and governance: then you could start to wonder.
But how COULD your self-estimate be conceived in so lowly a spirit, when you are claiming the perfection of purity for yourself!
You are not sinless ? Oh well, then you confess yourself a sinner. ONE sin is a rupture, and ONE error of heart is a violence in spirit. EVERYTHING matters.
Oh but, you may declare, how could such standards ever be kept ? Ask Christ, for He did it. NONE has ever been able to convict Him of anything, except of His claim to be the Son of God which He in all things abundantly, yes superabundantly He fulfilled, and His words to this day continue to fulfil it; for every one of His forecasts is being fulfilled, nothing lacks (cf. SMR Ch. 8). It is so, just as in view of this, death as a penalty was the ONLY way His enemies, especially those in the field of religion, COULD overthrow His impenetrable purity and truth, power and grace.
Even that was only for a few score hours, since in His often predicted three-day resurrection, the combined power of Rome and the Sanhedrin of His own race COULD not produce His body, but HE could repeatedly (cf. I Corinthians 15). This failure of mortal power and triumph of the divine occurred despite the forecast both then and for a millenium before, that HE, the Messiah would rise, and for that matter, that of the date in history in which it would occur.
He overcame even that cordial hatred, which epitomised the disgrace of our fallen race in praying for His oppressors, and triumphing for life for all - including any who sought Him of their number - in His own epitomising of the love of God.
This therefore is a CALL TO ALMS. It is necessary for an army to form and to make manifest the grace, the self-control, the endurance, the resilience of grace, the piety of truth, the testimony of love, the declarations of God's truth in His word, the Bible, the centrality of the Cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14); and in this world, at whatever cost, to manifest what may be shown of the splendour of the Son of God, the beauty of His holiness, the intensity and immensity of His peace and mercy, relaying from Him who died, the call to His kingdom and to become His children, who made us in the first, that we might in this world be as salt to the last.
It is not to SURVIVE, for that appalling narrowness and prejudice for one's own self is worthy of a roaring bull or cunning fox, but not of the children of God. it is to be APT in GRACE to give what Christ has in us and for us, to this world, to as many as will receive it. It is to ATTEST in this world where the truth is to be found, where purity and where grace, where peace and where endurance. Christ is the best, for in sheer infinity of goodness He is best who knows no limit, and having all, needs nothing; and moreover, He is the truth, and it is the ENDURANCE OF THE BEST, not the survival of the fittest to cut throats or to become walking bombs which is to the point!
It is more blessed to give than to receive, for God is a lover and loves to give, and creation itself is a gift, just as is salvation (Ephesians 2:1-12); and it is then that a peace that lasts, a value which is not advertising but rather needs no advertisement since it is manifest, a power that prevails, even past death is found. It is now so and prevails, just as it did for those who have come before now, whether as John Bunyan, or Latimer, Cranmer and Ridley, whether as Wyclif, as Tyndale, whether as John Knox or John Calvin, as Luther or as those milling millions who gave their lives to the Inquisition, to the scimitar, to the murderous sickle of a seething race, rather than submit to attributing ignominy to God, and lies to the truth.
Have you read Foxe's Book of Martyrs ? and there are modern testimonies not unlike. What they endured, suffered, gave, young and blooming, childlike and tiny, motherly and kindly, fatherly and impaled, and what they endured lasts. It is a testimony to what this race can become.
It is more than peaceable; it is submissive to God and enduring before man, so that man to the glory of God, finding a better way than reviling in ignominious and meaningless judgments, might like Saul of Tarsus find a truth not folly, and a more beautiful composition for the character of man. It is not in cracking skulls but in the Place of a Skull, Golgotha where God Himself not only bore sin, but showed the way of testimony and of love, that man is to be found.
As to man, He is lost, and until found, it is not only in metaphysical sickness and epistemological inanity that he wallows, but in blood. The rate of flow is increasing as the diabolical snatches for the throne (cf. John 14:30, Luke 23:28ff.). Let us hear that last word:
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us!' and to the hills,
For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?"
ABRAHAM, MOSES AND SAMSON AS ILLUSTRATIONS
CHRIST AS THE CRITERION AND RANSOM
Now let us consider some of the testimonies of the past, taking just three leading edges, not all perfect by any means, but impressive and suggestive, as the line of faith leads on to Christ's own finale and finished work of redemption. This helps us to realise to the full the meaning of faith, of living in christ-like subjection to reality, to the Father, with love and joy, with a serenity that has strength and a passion that has purity. It helps us to see as the day approached, the way of the wounds of Christ, of the cross, of being deregistered from the glory of this world and registered with Christ, as His.
As Christ Himself declared it (Matthew 20:25-28):
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and those who are great exercise authority over them.
"Yet it shall not be so
but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
"And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave -
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
This time it is left red, since blood is the end of the first chapter, just as resurrection is the beginning of the second, regality on His return. That is its next phase till earth at last departs, and truth sits resplendent, clad in robes of mercy and called, MESSIAH! HIS service was to be the ransom payment to justice to enable mercy in purity to prevail; but on the way it was SERVICE and diligence to perform His duty even as deity in human format. It is this which His servants are called to follow. Taking up one's cross and following Him says much of this (Luke 14:27).
How ? It is by faith.
Let us consider this first a little, and the proceed to the examples chosen for the purpose of introduction to the Coping Stone and indeed, the Mount of Magnificence, Calvary. In this way, moreover, more practical sense will be given, and more illustration provided of a way in danger of being bypassed by so many, that they have appalling accidents on the wrong side of the road, as they go!
I The Dynamic God Hebrews 11:1-3
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!
Here there are two aspects (cf. Bible Translations 47).
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 purpose 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, manifested in a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, applied by prophets with just one message over the millenia, it stands under the power of the living God.
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. 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).
II The Historical Chain of Links 11:4-31
That is the principle, the perspective and the reality. What is the testimony of so many for so long in this faith ? We read of Moses who for God put himself where the going was grievously difficult, and endured as seeing Him who is invisible; of Abraham who OBEYED when he was called to go to the place which he would receive as an inheritance, just as Christians are called to go from the ways of will and of this world, to the inheritance which is Christ's (Ephesians 1:11). We see Noah who when warned, went to the colossal expense of building an ark, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
These we read, all died in faith, and "truly if they had been mindful of that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return." Abraham even believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead if need be, when at first challenged about the lad; and does not his willingness teach us that unless we love God more than father or mother or son or daughter, we are simply not worthy of Him (Luke 14:26). Your FIRST concern is effectually your god, and if it is not God, then it is an idol.
Notice the realm of family. But first consider that of your own SELF as in Luke 14:26. You have to 'hate' yourself to follow Him. Now this does not mean that you suddenly evacuate all sense of the meaning of literary form and figure. Obviously, if you hated yourself literally, you would seek some way of extinguishing such a horror. It is rather that in comparison with your discipline for and love towards Christ it is as IF you hated yourself. In other words, if there is any contest of loyalty, YOU OR CHRIST, it is that you are not treated as a major player, but rejected altogether, so that HIS will is done absolutely and to the extent it collides with His, yours not at all. It is as with Himself, when in Gethsemane, He passionately sought if by any means He might avoid the 'cup' of sin-bearing death, but then subsiding declared (Luke 22:42),
"Nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done."
It is the same with all relatives, for honour them as we may and should, we may not honour them in comparison with Christ, nor would any Christian parent seek such an honour, which in the end is merely contemptible dishonour and confusion of majesty.
III The Holiness Faith Requires 11:32-40
We read now of arrested heroes of faith, of those who "through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens ... Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection ... destitute, afflicted tormented - of whom the world was not worthy."
THIS is the stuff of faith, this is the dynamic response to the dynamising glory of the Lord who takes His people and uses them, whether in deliverance or dynamic testimony, through strength or in weakness, on all sides and in all ways through courage and endurance, attesting what the world still despises as it tramps its final miles to the cliff face of judgment.
Faith is not a nice little feeling of security, or a nice pleasant assurance that you matter. You might as well say that athletics is looking after your body. That may be true in part, but it is for a PURPOSE, to RUN or act in strength in contest, to bring glory to the art. When it is with God you deal, it is neither comfort nor 'success', neither feelings of content nor displays of power which matter: it is obedience to the call of the Almighty, to the tasks Christ sets for you in His church, with the strength, joy and peace which FOLLOW. Thus Peter declared this: God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5).
Money is given to get a work done for a firm; power is from God for His purposes. Yet do not imagine it is mere employment; on the contrary, it is DEPLOYMENT, willing participation in the dynamic power and wisdom of God in order to achieve what He desires for you while the earth lasts just a little longer, before Christ returns. The world is on fire, and the Christian is a fireman, not to put out what sin stokes, but to rescue many, showing the situation to the ignorant, and bringing those who desire, out of the smoke into the light and its pure radiance.
Remember, without holiness no man will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). Without faith, you cannot please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Without love, you are nothing (I Cor. 13). Without the Lord, you can do nothing (to the point, of value) - John 15:5. How much DO you do without the Lord, without SUBJECTING your thought, plan and hope to Him ? Is HE the criterion ? Is YOUR will the criterion ? If the latter, this is not even related to Christianity at all. Unless you FORSAKE all you have, you CANNOT be (not merely are not) His disciple.
Consider the faith presented in Hebrews, and consider your actions: there should be parallel lines. Let us then with all boldness, fearlessly be spiritual athletes, never imagining that mere form counts for anything but condemnation as in Isaiah 1! The sort of pseudo-soppish-christianity (small 'c' on purpose since it is anomalous error) which makes it relevant for some article (The Advertiser, July 12, 2004) to refer to "the thirsts for the sacred may be turning people away from traditional Christian churches to religions that demand greater sacrifice and a more zealous demonstration of faith", is simply an unbiblical hash.
It does however show that the long-known and increasingly violent departure from the Bible which many ONCE traditional churches (that is, once they were churches of a Christian kind) held to, but now seem increasingly to honour in the breach rather than in the observance, fails to fill the place God made for Himself in man's heart. Of course it does, since it is fraudulent.
The imperfections of the flesh are not the point here, for none is perfect, but the perfections of Christ are very much to the point, since when HE lives in you (Colossians 1:27), the transformation is radical (Romans 8:10-14) and dying daily is if not a routine, at least a rule. It never dies in its liveliness. Hence the failure of many formerly sound bodies, for 60 years or so in free fall from the Bible, has contributed to the growth of heresies of other sorts, violations of truth, of spirituality, mockeries of godliness, many money-grasping, power-seeking, satisfaction maximising as AIMS, major or partial (as in 'success Christianity' a strange version of taking up your cross daily), of foolish religions based on false prophets. This much is so, predicted, and predictable of the present falling away of which Paul spoke as a coming phase to precede the end of the Age and the return of Jesus Christ, in II Thessalonians 2.
But let us return to the Christianity of Christ.
Faith moves mountains ? It is GOD who moves them in answer to faith. Faith does what it pleases ? How could it, since it first seeks to please God. He is alive, His promises are clear: concerning all your affairs, ASK Him! Do not grieve the Spirit or do a Jonah, but walk in the Spirit and avoid the works of will. SEEK Him and His way, and do not merely hope you are on it. God is alive, and those who live in Him know it. Those who wait on Him, find it.
Life is not a mere theory, but a participatory reality. Being born is not an idea, but a reality; being born again is the same; being alive is not a surmise but a vital and enduring operation. Lifeless pretences do not make Christians; but Christians do still make the testimony of Jesus, and they are still being slaughtered, imprisoned, tortured, repressed, prejudicially suppressed, as many as follow Him and abide in His word. The record continues, and the mass of unbelief, whether in former churches, in fads of philosophy or their outreaches in false prophets, this merely aggregates till the time comes, as Christ put it, to take the weeds and burn them in fire unquenchable. Gardening is like that.
However, why be a weed ? Its whole life is an intrusion where it does not belong.
EXAMPLES OF THE CALL TO DISPLACE SURVIVAL WITH GRACE
Now this man was rich, secure and established, living in a civilisation with its own distinctive religious and commercial, social and financial culture. He came to know the true God, was subject of revelation from Him, learned to trust Him, and was called to leave his secure niche, his fine place, his cultural surround, his psychic milieu, and to follow GOD ONLY to go to where GOD ONLY knew, the land of promise.
In successive revelations (Genesis 12,15, 17), he was introduced to the concept of becoming the father of a race (indeed of many nations), and through one of his children, to a scenario leading on to a child who would become blessing to all people.
This of course had been clear since Eden*5, that it would happen, though through whom, this was not at the first to be known by man. Now it was being divulged. It was to be to Abraham of Ur, to be called to a new country, to follow God as invisible and to find through many vicissitudes, what was opened to him, that this blessing would come to every race. Not in some angelic power would sin that ruined Eden for man, be atoned. Not in some programmatic control would the restoration of man in God's image, be made. Not thus is that image restored. It is of God and from God and by God alone is it to be restored, by His purity, by His power and by His immediate restamping from His very self, with the image granted.
In Genesis 3:15, the protevangelium*5, we read that it is to be through a descendant of the woman that this victory, this overthrow of the sanctions of sin, is to be obtained. It will bruise the head of Satan, the adversary and protagonist of sin, rebellion and hence ruin (cf. Revelation 20:2), and that by a heel. God would do it, do it as man, by one heel. How would this be accomplished ?
With Abraham the case is revealed, around 2000 B.C., about as far before Christ as we ourselves are after His day on earth. The revelation came in stages, but was soon complete.
However, we should see the steps. In the time we are now considering, that of Abraham, it is found that it is him, all the peoples of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12). Later, he finds that his seed will be all but innumerable (Genesis 15), that the land will be theirs (Genesis 17); and then the focus intensifies: it will be by HIS SEED in particular (Genesis 21:12, 22:18), that this will be done, this universal blessing.
It is through his side, then, that the line of help, of blessing was then appointed to come to earth. The Messiah, Christ as the Greek rendering has it, He was to come from haven as that seed of Abraham, whose Death Date was likewise given by divine apportionment and appointment when the day drew nearer.
That came in the day of the prophet Daniel, in the 6th century AD (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), and the date for the bruising ? It was set through Daniel in the realm of 30 A.D., in terms of our current dating notation. It is of course one of the most amazing chronological forecasts of all time, if not indeed the most amazing: for it covers the most important relief work in history, the major divine work in history (not excepting the creation) and the conquest of death due to sin, and it sets it out with pin-point accuracy as is becoming for such a sign! Similarly, the birth-place of the Messiah is given in Micah 5:1-3, where also His eternal nature is revealed, and His focus on His divine work was shown to include Galilee (Isaiah 8-9), while miracles of healing would flow from His mercy and grace (Psalm 72, Isaiah 35, 28:16,29:17), and although betrayal would be His portion (Psalm 22, 68, 109), yet resurrection would be the outcome (Psalm 16, Isaiah 26:19 - cf. SMR Ch. 6, Joyful Jottings 22-25).
Thus and in many more ways would the Messiah, the 'seed' be seen. However, not all of this was known as yet to Abraham, but only step by step, what he was given. Thus did he walk in faith, by faith, and so become an example of faith in the living God, a team player who would contirbute as would others, to the magnificence of this inspired choir, whose voices come from here, there, this era, that, until all can be seen in divinely granted ensemble in the Bible.
What then of Abraham in his own day ?
In all these revelations to himself, Abraham is filled with awe (cf. Genesis 15:17ff., 17:3). Not only was this 'seed of promise' to come, but the land is unconditionally granted to His descendants (Genesis 17:7-8), though (Genesis 15), there are to be intermissions, such as that in Egypt, which was to extend some 400 years, while the wickedness of those whose land they were to take, was allowed to become so ripe that the invasion only then, was to be authorised by God.
Thus FORSAKING ALL, Abraham went out into a world which could kill (and in fact Lot his nephew was seized, and had to be delivered by Abraham and his servants), could steal and ruin in a moment. He had to go by faith under divine direction for a purpose and a mission which was to bring BLESSING to ALL peoples. It was not limited to family, to race, to tribe or to personal potency. It was to be a blessing for ALL peoples.
On this mission Abraham proceeded until God, having tested him sharply, then confirmed him absolutely, promising him, at age about 100 years, with wife aged to match, a child, the child of promise, for the line of promise, for the seed by whom ALL nations would be blessed.
The child was announced in advance, contrary to nature in all its norms, and duly came, according to God, and all His power to predict and to do, and to keep the two continually in correlation (Genesis 18). Yet even this test was not all that made the faith of Abraham rise in purity, like a snow mountain in the desert. Then as now, faith is not found like grass on the field, but as gems sparkling in the dazzling light of day, each one with this prize in its place.
Abraham had now to be willing to sacrifice his son. So indeed it appeared, and so he interpreted it (Genesis 22).
Would he dare to do such a thing ? Assuredly, and indeed the knife was poised in readiness, but the test was concluded: not in any such futility does God show grace. Sacrifice is assuredly necessary as we saw in Genesis 4 in the case of Cain and Abel (cf. His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 4). However, it is ultimately from the realm of God's own grant and generosity that it is to be found, not in man (cf. Psalm 49:7,15, Hebrews 9), so that in good time, God showed to Abraham a ram caught in the thicket, and it was this, not Isaac his son, which was the sacrifice of divine gift.
As Hebrews 11:19 tells us, Abraham by faith could conceive that God would be able to raise his son from the dead! That however was no small test. Was this son not firstly, his OWN son, and not from another! Was he not his ONLY son, moreover, thirdly, his SON OF MIRACLE, and fourthly indeed, his SON OF DIVINE ANNOUNCEMENT!
How COULD you be ready to give up such a prize, such a gift, such a divine gift, such a necessary gift, such a designated gift! Yet he was willing. The reason was perfectly simple in kind, though searching in nature. HE TRUSTED GOD, and that is why he was willing to face this test. However he also KNEW GOD, and that is why he was able to be told of the sacrifice actually desired, substituted for the useless gift of his son. What was NOT useless was this, that he was WILLING to give up and surrender, even what God had provided, and provided in a manner both so distinctive and so splendid!
Was it not GOD who had given the gift ? How then could he give it up ? But it was God Himself, not the gift, in whom trust was required. If you gave your son with much announcement a gift of 100,000 dollars, would he be expected to transfer his trust or regard from you to it ? That, it would be the most horrible possible misuse! It would defile inter-personal relations for the sake of purchasing things, or the power to do so.
Personally, one can well remember, after many trials and travails, victories wrought by God, and magnificent deliverances as the various powers that be in fallen or falling churches sought over some decades to annihilate one's ministry, name, reputation or whatever, block one's path and overpower one's testimony, yes and others also, how hard it was to demit the ministry in one's last denomination. How could it be done when GOD HIMSELF had brought it to pass and stand by His own power and mercy ? It could be for just the reason Abraham could be ready to sacrifice his son.
If GOD gave this ministry, then GOD could continue it without the denomination until such time as He moved otherwise. It was from God, and certainly, nothing contrary to HIM could possibly be allowed to be a price of its continuation. In the case in hand, the major matter was toleration of the designation by that denomination of Genesis in terms of poetry without the qualification to make it acceptable; and for this, to avoid implication in it, one could sacrifice a thousand ministries.
Is the word of God to be demeaned by an Assembly, members even joking about it afterwards, and is such a designation to be tolerated, a Presbytery's request to the contrary notwithstanding ? Is such a state of affairs to be long tolerated, over years, while damage is done to the word of God, and Christ is demeaned whose use of Genesis is far otherwise ? Far from it.
It was however not easy; it was a strong test! It was not some personal advantage, not some personal loss that made it hard, for these abound; it was the fact that as to this ordination in the midst of many crusades against it, GOD HAD OBTAINED IT. In the face of all opposition, God had done it and sustained it. Yet it is God, not what is a derivative of living for Him, who counts. It is in HIM alone that one's trust must rely, not relayed indirectly, but direct. When the Assembly therefore later brought out an appalling treatment of Genesis, it was not only confirmed that one left well, but a relief not to be bound to such failure*6. It had become necessary therefore to work in an independent Church, and to trust Him to establish the way in it for His glory: not for any change from the Bible, but in implementing it as it stands, which it does, whatever else may fall.
Thus, then, did Abraham set us all a fine, indeed a splendid example in faith, faith in God according to His redemptive grandeur in the Messiah, then to come, now to return, then to suffer, now to rule.
He set his sights on ANOTHER LAND, another plane, another climate and another culture, another walk and another way, not the one of nature, his or anyone else's, but God's.
He pursued the call until he had to sacrifice the most precious, so that God as God might rule in his life.
He achieved the place in due time, and passed on the faith to his children, to Isaac, whose Jacob continued the line. In no case, however, did this faith depend on man, but always on God, who to each of these showed Himself personally, in covenant, in promise, in security, in continuity, unchanging in His determination, just as they were devoted personally to Him.
In all this, Abraham has shown some glimmer of the brilliant light of Christ who set His sights on another realm, earth instead of heaven for His day of service there, and pursued His call to the Cross, giving up His most precious life, yes His very own, to become a garbage collection unit, surrounded by the guilt but not the dirt of sin, which could not reach His pure heart, though the penalty could and did!
Thus He came even to death, not merely possible or near as in the matter of Isaac before Abraham, but actual and pressing, indeed piercing: it was this that claimed Him, and to this, for His purpose of revealed redemption, that He freely offered Himself, foretelling*7 it and citing the word of God from earlier times, in the process, moving to it like some great liner coming in to dock, the captain steering FOR THAT VERY PLACE. In this case ? Calvary.
It could not, to be sure, keep Him; for just as Abraham believed that God could if need be, raise Isaac from the dead, so was Christ, not merely in belief beforehand, but in flesh and bones afterwards, raised from the dead (cf. SMR Ch. 6, Luke 24:39).
What Abraham, if you will, had mimed, Christ did not decline, but consummated.
Notice now in Hebrews 11:23ff., the robust language concerning faith in Moses’ way and day! Faith is not for fidgets, nor does it deal in fiascos, for our is the God of power, of creation and redemption, of the word which lasts to hundreds of generations without altering, cracking or being rebutted. It holds fast and its diction is done!
First, his parents were NOT AFRAID OF THE KING'S COMMAND. They did not kill their son, but hid him where he was rescued by a royal princess.
This is for you and me NOW! The UN is becoming, with the EU, a force for amorality and loss of liberty. As News Weekly reports (July 3, 2004), the UK Independence Party points out that the European law tends to be significantly less in favour of individual liberty than group liberty, much less tolerant of racial or religious minorities than is the case in Britain. This, with its Protestant heritage, has been amazingly clear on individual liberty, but it is in danger of being sunk in the collective market for secular society in the EU, which refuses any reference to God, and has rights without a divine source, making man king.
The EU, News Weekly advises, has member states already sharing cause with such 'liberties' (and corresponding individual losses) as euthanasia, human embryo experimentation, gay marriage, arrest without trial, abortion. It “lacks any basis in Christianity or religion,” it notes.
Thus with secular bases for the EU (it merely refers generally to past inputs, and declares with its own mouth), devastating consequences may be envisaged as this brakeless and religiously amoral vehicle*8, imposes its will as it will. Even in Canada, it is already against the law even to cite scripture publicly against homosexuality!
Britain’s glorious role for liberty and opportunity is thus being sunk ready for the “man of sin” of II Thessalonians 2. This is in high contrast to the action of the parents of Moses, a contrast for faith, and later for Moses himself who forsook culture and convenience and led a people from slavery, not into it. Indeed, we can with Moses here, as with Abraham before and Samson shortly, see what is called a 'type of Christ', that is a parallel in certain ways which helps us feel the dawn before the sunrise, which gives in principle a few resemblances as these prepared for the Messiah, in the spirit of their work, to His own.
We have just cited two of them, relative to the parental action and the forsaking of the culture and power of the land, for divine service, which Moses was to show. Christ acted AS divine, but Moses FOR the Lord; yet both so forsook what was available, Christ notably in the temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4).
Thus, in being HIDDEN in the reeds as a baby, Moses provides a third parallel to Christ first being 'hidden' in the womb of Mary by divine action to incarnate, and then as a small babe, hidden in Egypt (Matthew 2:13ff.) so that the multiplicious infanticides of Herod, trying to scrub out those children two and under, in a gigantesque, grotesque and Hitleresque effort to kill among them, the one he wanted, the Messiah. Could that babe become a future competitor for his family, or indeed a substitute focus for himself (Matthew 2:16-18) ?
Fourthly, in our 'type of Christ' parallel in part, we find that not only was the babe, Moses, hidden as Christ was, but he was delivered as Christ was, when hidden. Thus Moses was 'drawn out' as his name implies, but also taken into the household of a princess, possibly that of a future ruler in Egypt.
Royalty now entered in; whereas with Christ, it was endemic, inherent, since He was One whose goings forth had been from eternity (Micah 5:1-3), before He came (John 17:1-3, 8:58), so that in Hebrews 11 we read that Moses preferred the "reproach of Christ" to the riches and glory of Egypt. Christ ? He was present only in His pre-incarnate reality; and how did Moses know Him ? as Jehovah, the Lord (cf. Isaiah 45:23-25, Philippians 2:9-11, where EVERY KNEE will bow to GOD who alone merits it, as in Isaiah, to CHRIST, whose work requires it, as in Paul). After all, not only is their ONE LORD, but ONE SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43:10-11, Acts 4:11-12) and those who can make one two are financiers out of order in this place!
The HIDDEN and the ROYAL elements then are amongst the typographic parallels between Moses and Christ, the timely Messiah whom NONE can ignore, except at the expense of reason, the word of God and time. He came as predicted in ONE time, not two; and there is ONE who can so predict, not two, and those who make claims never verify them, just as organic evolution is without trace of evidence (cf. ... NO GO), Communism without vestige of confirmation (*1 below), Romanism (cf. *2 below) vilely contrary to scriptural prohibition (John 18:36 when it went after Christians, as Herod of babes, in its Inquisition) and Islam without remedy, reality, verification or possibility of anything but false prophecy (cf. *3 below).
Yet the royalty of Christ, His deity, is as carefully ignored by many as was the princely status of Moses when he, seeking to help his brethren, in Egypt, when they became slaves, was scorned so that he had to flee to another land, staying there for forty years! That is our fifth part in the parallel, or type construction. Indeed, not only was it turned from by the nation, but He was despised, and that too, as predicted, for with the King there is no small preparation for His coming! (cf. Isaiah 53:1-6, Mark 14:60ff.)
What then ? Was not Christ despised by the junta ruling in Israel, and even crucified, just as Moses indeed, was once sought out for stoning as he led his people from Egypt to the land they failed to enter! (Exodus 17:1)! This did not succeed, for the Lord intervened, just as the effort to hurl Christ over a cliff did not succeed (Luke 4:29), when He came back to Nazareth, because this was not the predicted, prescribed and necessary site or situation for His death!
Sixthly, then, just as Moses "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter", putting moral and godly duties above cultural or family desire, so Christ refused to be called the son of David as His criterion, being the Son of God, coming through David's line only in the maternal side, not the criterion for naming, nor here the crux of the matter (cf. Matthew 22:41ff.). On Moses here, see Hebrews 11:25! All the treasures of Egypt could not compete with the riches of Christ who as Lord (Isaiah 43:10-11, 53:6) was leading him.
By faith he acted, obeyed, took the passover confessing sin and redemption, passed over the Red Sea, fearless in the face of near popular revolt! He "endured as seeing Him who is invisible." Before we pursue the parallels here, let us ask ourselves a question. Are we to ignore the divine requirements of group prayer, sacrificial participation and alert living in the word of God, for Christ! Look at Hebrews 4:1-2! It is always all or nothing: when you know the Lord, all is only just enough!
Faith has legs, and the musculature calls for their exercise!
More than this, it is the CALL ALMS that we consider here, the GIVING by grace of the GIFTS of God, in the Gospel, so that HE then gives that of eternal life. It is necessary like these examples, to be faithful and to put all other things in competition at any point into decline. If however we discipline ourselves in the ALMS ARMY, giving from the richness, the inexhaustible riches of Christ, then the lack of contest makes the smoother the rough road and narrow to be trodden in this Army. What does not contest does not need to go, for it is in subjection to truth already!
Alas, in our next example, admittedly a highly flawed one, but one notable for all that, we shall see the penalty when there is indiscipline and contest is allowed to come where it ought not!
But what of the parallel items, in the passover paragraph, above ? Seventh, then, comes the fact that Moses work was begun, in the EXODUS act, with passover, this being the provision to differentiate Hebrew from Egyptian, when the last plague struck the families of Egypt. For Christ, it was the critical act, as He instituted the Lord's Supper and then DID what it symbolised at Calvary, in bringing many sons to salvation. Just as Moses took them to (but not into, since they jibbed in his day) the promised land, so Christ by Calvary as crux and the resurrection which it embraced for deity, encompassed His people to take them to the place He prepared (John 14:1ff.).
Again, and eighthly, just as Moses endured as seeing Him who is invisible, so Christ ALWAYS did what pleased His Father (John 8:29), and noted in infinite excess to all comparison, but with some parallel, that what His Father did, THIS HE DID IN THE SAME WAY! (John 5:19ff.).
So has the good Lord in His grace exposed spiritual principles and posed parallels to awaken, to reinforce, to alert, to lead, to display with a multitude of manners, what is crucial for faith to man.
Meanwhile, let us conclude the example of Moses here, with these words which HE UTTERED, as the weight of living the ALMS ARMY seemed to burdensome, and then we shall see what the Lord said OF HIM!
"Why have You afflicted Your servant?
And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people
"Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me,
‘Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,’
to the land which You swore to their fathers?
"Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight - and do not let me see my wretchedness!"
"So the Lord said to Moses:
'Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel,
whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them;
bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you.
Then I will come down and talk with you there.
I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them;
and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone."
Such was the fervour of Moses, and earlier when the people had turned to idolatry (Exodus 33:32), he had even asked God to kill him if He would not pardon the people! His zeal brought him almost to extinction, yet he called on the Lord and found the power and wisdom to proceed. Serving God CANNOT be done in man's power, for His standards are too high.
It can however be done in HIS power, and by faith is the grace received. Hence came the 70 helping elders.
In the Exodus idolatry noted, moreover, the Lord would not accept Moses' death for the people, any more than He would allow Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, having some One better and more, infinitely more effectual in store! the Messiah, through whom the promised blessing would come to ALL peoples. This was to do so, and so it has done, though many are they who forsake it, not accepting the promise which thus surges on like teeming breakers, to its chosen recipients, to all who will. Not few are those who receive it, in all nations.
So He has known them, and so are they His own whom He finds unerringly (Romans 8:29ff.).
Yet consider finally, the intimacy between God and Moses, a man called to bring to the people, the very word of God, part of the work of faith which the Lord wrought in him.
It is to be found in Numbers 12:5ff..
"Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream.
Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house.
I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the Lord.
'Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?' "
This is precisely in accord with the teaching of Paul on the scriptural inspiration accorded to him as an apostle of the Christian Church, some 1400 years or so, later, as found in I Corinthians 2:8-15. Paul cites from the Old Testament and then proceeds...
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.
For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
"For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?
Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God,
that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches
but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ."
Faith has always accepted the authority of God and of course, of His word, for God did not make man to have ears, not to hear, or eyes, not to see, or a mind, not to apprehend, but has told him so often and in so many ways His desire, His truth, His mercy, His truth and His way, essentialising it in the end in the very incarnation of the living and eternal word of God (Micah 5:1-3, John 8:58, Hebrews 1), that what rejects what He says, rejects Him who says it. So do we find in John 12:48ff..
Now let us turn to the example of faith most poignant because most loose, and only coming into its proper domain at the very end.
III SAMSON Judges 13-15 Here is strength.
Samson, called by the Lord, had parents who brought him up in a holy way, called that of Nazirite. His hair would not be cut, nor liquor come to his lips. In time a series of challenges and involvement with the Philistines arose in which Samson’s prodigious strength even led at one point to his LIFTING BOTH THE DOORS OF THE GATES AND THE GATEPOSTS as he thus made exit and escaped, carrying the whole contraption to the top of the hill. In another case, he was seen killing thousands with the jaw-bone of an ass, possibly inset with a blade. He struck terror in hearts and could almost act as he pleased; but in some things he did not please God, alerting us to the fact that FAITH must be PURE and in GOD, not merely an active observer of divine strength.
Foolishly, after judging Israel for 20 years, Samson sought a bad woman of the Philistines, and foolish about her, was asked time and again where his strength lay. He lied, but she persisted until one night, he told her, so that his hair, symbol of sanctity and calling, was cut.
It was not so much the breach of the symbol, but all that went before which this simply summed up, which led to his downfall, and having him now in their power, they put out his eyes, and made him an object of mirth, pulling weights around like an animal.
This illustrates the pure folly, if any folly could be pure, of DEALING with the diseases of the faith, as if they were acceptable comrades. To marry, to engage in pleasantries with the enemy (cf. Judges 14) is not wise. One thing leads to another, one feature to one feat, one feat to another, until confusion and sorrow can come like dry desert winds, scorching before them what had been green and fresh, with no good to be found (see Separation).
However, to revert to poor, contained, chained, blinded, harrowed, saddened, exposed and smitten Samson, someone great, but fallen, chosen to deliver but himself now delivered by his own folly into servitude, let us consider the end of the matter, by the grace and mercy of God.
Faith entered decisively when Samson, though still a captive, agonised and abased, at last, his hair grown, looked to the Lord and asked for the power with which to pull down two pillars under a large sporting structure where Philistines were having fun: gaining it, he broke the pillars' support so that all fell. He was of course killed himself under the collapsing structure, but some 5000 of the oppressive enemy of Israel died as well.
Thus by death, he was bringing more life to Israel, and so entered the heroic list. He teaches us also that faith must actually ASK and EXPECT from the Lord, as well as REST in His power and be purified by His mercy, love and Spirit: covered by sacrifice, it must also be led in heart. So, despite considerable faults in Samson, did faith by grace have results. Therefore be strong in faith! and despair not at all. With God, NOTHING shall be called impossible! (Luke 1:37).
Consider now the features which, despite the enormous errors made in the starting phase, reflect something of the giving of Christ. First of all, the announcement of birth of Samson follows quite closely that for Christ (Judges 13:7, Isaiah 7:14).
This is a signal of the divine power which was behind each prophecy, and the parallel to be drawn in some things. In the case of Isaiah, it was not to a wife but of a damsel that the prediction is made. It is as a classic phenomenon of the highest wonder, and of course, so it is when a woman 'shall encompass' a man (cf. Jeremiah 31:22 cf. context in Jeremiah The Biblical Workman Ch. 1), a prophecy given to Jeremiah also in terms of an unbelieving people, as for Isaiah, to whom the Lord in His own impervious grace, give such a gift of profound and indeed, infinite mercy.
Since God IS infinite, what He pays from His own self and in His own personal being, IS infinite! That is what it cost. That is one reason why slighting it is irreparable in result; the other reason is parallel, in this, that it is because the NEED was so great for one in the image of God, and defiled, that the cost was so high! To ignore that need is equally irremediable in ruin.
It is like saying, If the Twin Towers is not payment enough for you, what would be! except for this, that in this case, it is not Twin Towers but only Son who is 'paid'. If the payment is not acceptable, certainly it does not reach the unwilling recipient, for as to those who are healed, these are those on whom the sin is laid! (Isaiah 53, cf. Romans 8:32).
If then a man of enormous strength was to be used to secure deliverance for Israel in Samson, and to be given first as a babe by the power of God to a barren wife who would be enabled to have normal if divinely predicted conception:
then in surpassing parallel, by one of enormous grace and power was deliverance to be brought for those who in all nations would receive Him (John 1:12, Isaiah 49:6, 42:6).
The first would constitute a sign; the second a sensation. The first was a gift; the second was the unique work of God in coming to His creation in person.
If the one birth was announced to a barren woman who had borne no children, then the other was declared of a virgin (cf. SMR pp. 770ff., E.J. Young, Studies in Isaiah), where no other Father but the One who is "the mighty God" would be provided (Isaiah 9:6-7 cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7 ) as a sign parallel to one going to heaven upwards, or down to hell downwards, of the most absolute and indeed infinite proportions. Such had been the dimensions of the help offered to the unbelieving King Ahaz, (Isaiah 7:1ff.), and such were the dimensions of the gift made to the nation, indeed to the world, despite the loss to the King concerned and to the people whose faith had not been operative as required.
Must you weary men ? but also God! the Lord in effect exclaimed in the face of Ahaz' unbelief. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign." In other words, the scope of sign offered was vast, and the matter involved several nations; but when this was disdained by the febrilely fickle Ahaz, then the Lord would give it HIMSELF, although unasked. THIS was then to be THAT sign, yes one such that the prince of peace whose kingdom would come for ever, would also be everlasting Father in status of His name! You cannot separate the Prince from man, or from God before Him, so that the one is the other, the other the one, and this, it is a SIGN worthy of offer from the God who specified the dimensions in infinity from the first, and knew the rejection would come. THIS is GOD'S OWN SIGN. None can be mentioned in line with God, but deity, and this is what is here done. GOD would be the man, would become it, would incarnate in order to be it, would as such bring a deliverance of infinite proportion for man.
As Isaiah 50-55 go on to show, the cost would be equally infinite, but infinity can pay. It is love which is willing, and there is the marvel, so that by His wounds is eternity opened to man.
From God then comes this brilliant sign, but it is also to be a signal to man. Disparate, then, in much as the cases are and must be, the former is a harbinger of the latter, for God loves to teach in various ways and by many devices, if by any means people might find in Him what they need, and relying on Him, understand at last, become converted, His children and learn to love both Him and one another.
The next part of the parallel, however dim, yet instructive, between Samson and Christ is this. Samson lived in a land where the rulers were not godly, where Philistines were in power, just as later not only Rome, but false prophers held sway in the very field of religion, for the nation was sick even to death!
Thirdly, Samson was delivered up by his own people (Judges 15:10ff.), out of fear of the consequences of His power and delivering mercies to his nation. They betrayed him instead of being thankful for his power and trusting in the GOD WHO GAVE IT, the main point in view! So did they betray Christ and so was this also predicted in Isaiah 49:7 (cf. 52-53), as in the Psalms (cf. Joyful Jottings 25, Selling the Seer).
Fourthly, although so betrayed, Samson despite much suffering, at last made his greatest victory to come from the fact that he was forcibly held by the Philistines, as we have seen above in his destruction of their collection of notables by the thousands, in the games! So did Christ, despite betrayal and deep anguish in the crucifixion, which even required a sense of separation from His Father, since sin DOES separate and He was bearing its guilt (cf. Isaiah 59:1-2, Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:46), break death, openly flaunting His liberty in His continuing work, moving out on the very day He had insisted would be that of His rising (cf. Matthew 17, Luke 24:19ff.), and becoming unavailable to any, having broken death's bonds.
The soldiers on guard were even allowed to pretend that disciples had stolen His body, whereas firstly, their own lives would normal be payment for such a lapse on their part; and secondly, if they had slept, how could they know ? If they were telling the truth about sleeping, then it would indeed follow that they lied, since only ignorance comes from sleep. What they knew was this, that He was gone while they slept, but their inference that disciples took Him would not be true, merely the blather of noctural nescience.
Why could it not be true, however ? Firstly because ignorance is not knowledge, so that lying is in view; and secondly because He departed on time, as pre-announced, on the third day, and if there was one way to suicide, was it not this, to sleep on such a situation!
The erratic testimony of the guards merely attests cover-up; but not necessarily guilty sleep, since when Peter was delivered, the Lord appears to have given a deep sleep to the guards (Acts 12), who were to the number of four squads, Peter have two chains between two of them! Again, in the case of David’s persecution by Saul, the young man visited Saul’s camp, and the Lord gave a deep sleep (I Samuel 26:12).
Indeed, if they were corrupt, why do we not read of their death ? if they were honest, why do we not find the fight ? If they indeed slept, how did they know anything ? All that was found was that He had gone, and could go as He pleased. The enigma of failure and apparent indiscipline is met by only one testimony, that God raised up His Son and as often enough, provided the escape, except that in this case, it was from a tomb with a boulder and soldiers on guard against a predicted ‘escape’!
Let us examine the facts a little more.
Discipline ? No doubt discipline in such a case was most dubious, for where and how could it have been done ? If more were to be found to enhance Christ’s already great fame in healing the sick and raising the dead, recently in the case of Lazarus, which caused His enemies great pain (John 11:49ff.), it would become worse and worse for the power-lusting and security-seeking officers in charge of the nation. They would tend to feel more vulnerable than ever, relative to Rome, the occupying power of that day. There would be reason enough for cover up, and it would be in basis precisely the same as the original desire to bring Lazarus to death a second time, and Christ the first time! Security and running things their own way (cf. John 11:49ff., John 12:10).
Rather we read of reward offered; and none could ever find the most precious and important body of all time, no, not the power of Rome with its empire, given centuries of prior notice, nor the priests with their vast entourage of people and power. He was gone, as He said, when He said, and went then where He said, to Galilee, where He had been (Matthew 26:31-32, 28:7). It was not soldiers who conspired in idiocy, not disciples who stole in miraculous manner with guards investing the secure tomb of an illustrious case, but it was He who took Himself off, just as He had said He would do, when the predicted time came. Nothing else fits even these facts.
No, the soldiers did not fail to notice some disciples quietly removing a bolder from the sealed tomb, nor did the disciples fail to know where the most important person in the world had been laid! (Luke 23:55), nor to top it all, did the disciples book seats for the Hell Olympics by lying about the Lord, even if it would have helped, so that they could be crucified or killed upside down or whatever else the world would throw at them, in order to have a hardening before hell itself. Not really!
The resurrection won that war, and Christianity, based on the Messiah promised from Abraham, not only to the Jews but as a light to the Gentiles also (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), continued the work of presenting God to the world, in which Israel for the time utterly failed. So did Samson fail, as did the Jewish nation; but he yet triumphed in the end, as did Christ in all things.
was betrayed, suffered long, overcame and gained the victory by faith.
betrayed, suffered deeply, overcame not only the physical enemy
Samson provided a prelude in dying voluntarily, through the agency of betrayal, overcoming an enemy in so doing, acting on behalf of many. Thus he became, for all his failures, in his final action, a type of Christ, as well as an index that triumph can be gained in the very midst of apparent failure, when the name of the Lord is called upon, and one seeks the completion of one's calling!
though utterly foolish in dealing with a harlot, far less a Philistine one, and
even more in talking of spiritual things to her (cf. Romans 16:17, and the
prohibitions in force about marriage into the races concerned, with their ways
as notably displayed in Ezra and Nehemiah!), breaking all healthy rules of
spiritual separation, not to mention in his case the sexual licence: found
himself betrayed by one near to him. If ever a man had warning through Delilah's
multiplied treacheries of what was to come, he did!
Christ not only had warning, He knew and foretold it, for this was part of a plan so pure that light itself could hardly rest on it, lest it soil it! Thus, in partial parallel, just as Christ though not engaging in sin, was yet betrayed by one near to Him, as part of the plan, so was Samson as part of what was clearly developing. The One did it in prevailing wisdom; the other displayed something of it, though caught for a time in a web of folly.
Thus these trailers if you will, these foretastes, they point the more emphatically to Christ, and help one to savour the more fully the beauty of His holiness, who unlike Samson, did all things well. On the other hand, it helps us to focus on Samson, and to realise that although he paid heavily for his folly, his faith came at the end, and he became a hero of faith, fulfilling without requirement of payment, that for which he had been called.
We have looked at the good, the better earlier, but now ... we focus the best! Indeed, the RE-CREATION which is also by faith, the REGENERATION which is from Christ (Titus 3:5-7), is based now that its price is paid (cf. Ezekiel 11:19): it is better than CREATION itself. For if in creation, Christ in His pre-incarnate power made all (John 1:1-3), how much more wonderful is it when He not only laboured, but suffered for us; not merely to produce us, but to deliver us from what was as with Samson, our own sin, both generic and individual, for "we have turned everyone to his own way" (Isaiah 53:5-6).
Samson shows the need; Christ shows the solution. If the one foreshadowed the other in some things, Christ performed that necessary and exacting task with a profound vigour and triumphant grace and power left a legacy to all (Romans 5:18).
Christ is better too than Moses, who gave the law; for His word is law (John 14:6), just as the principal is greater than the understudy, the author than the writer!
GOOD, BETTER, BEST
How can this be ? What can be better than 'good' ?
God is good, and His creation was so; but man fell, and the creation was cursed.
How quickly does the neglected farm go from green landscapes to arid dust; and how much more quickly does the cursed creation become hostile in much, beggared from its beauty!
Better by far than this was the symbolic presentation of the Gospel to come,
The prophetic presentation of the grace to come,
But best was and is the Saviour:
The Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53),
The Man of healing and conveyor of joy (Isaiah 29,35, Mark 1, Matthew 4:24):
The substance of the symbol,
The meaning of the message,
The centre of the heart of God,
The way of life and
The eternal life of God:
In rescuing what was made good, and became unclean in heart, spirit and body, Christ did better than in creation; for if the one involved brilliance and power, plan and intelligence; the other involved not only these, but the retrogression of His own penalty for sin, which He as God had imposed; and this through His personal labour, turning anguish into joy and death into a mere breach, overcome and defiled forever. Eternal life, the implied offer at the first, in store, became actual, and death's rigour became history. If it continues until He comes, so does the Gospel; it is HE and in HIM alone that all is wrought, in store and to come. MY DEAD BODY will they arise, declared Isaiah (26:19), for the time when death would yield her prey, and power would disclose all things, each for its place.
So while as in Hebrews 7ff., we are conceiving Christ as the BETTER MAN, the BETTER MINISTER and the BETTER WAY, beyond even Moses in all categories and departments, for He was more than the preliminary symbols and words: yet in terms of the status of man at the first, given initial help and charge in Moses, but now final consummation in Christ, He is the BEST! He has FINISHED ALL that required to be done.
There is no replacement, no augmentation now, no consummation of His offering, no repeat, for by ONE offering He has sanctified for ever those who are justified (cf. Romans 8:29ff., Hebrews 9:1;2-28, 10:10-14). It is in HIM ONLY (Ephesians 1:10) that all is wrought, just as His people have been brought and bought (Matthew 20:28, 26:28), and His ransom having bought eternal redemption, it is made available freely (Romans 5:15), fully (John 5:24), irrevocably for those who receive Him (John 6:50ff., Romans 10:9, John 4:14), and that by His own word.
Let us consider some of the detail of the transformation from the former and preparatory time, where faith looked for One to come; just as now we look for His imminent return, as indeed we should (cf. I John 3:1ff., Hebrews 9:27-28. 6:18-20, Romans 3:24-25, Romans 5:1-11).
I. A BETTER MINISTRY - Hebrews 8:6
Priests, then as now, are mere mediators of a covenant, given in word, applied with power, available from God. They may sin, will die and are imperfect. They symbolised the one who would offer the sacrifice to God, on behalf of a sinful man (Leviticus 1, 4). Christ in Himself and His work substantiated what was symbolised, realising in practice and to the full what was foretold, accomplishing what was portrayed He therefore has a better ministry.
No more priests, no more mediators of imperfection, but ONE priest, the High Priest of Heaven (7:26-27). Now again, there is ONE offering (Hebrews 7:27 cf. 9:12-28), unrepeatable, since the One who made it died to sin ONCE (9:24), with blood, with suffering. Rome's mangling of this sacrifice figures in the most abhorrent phases of all history, in full line with the multiple mangling of bodies in the Inquisition, compounding false teaching with loveless zeal, killing the very servants of Christ (John 16:2), as Christ predicted. Thus, IN GOD's NAME! Rome has statedly a sacrifice without blood or suffering*9, but what alone is that of Christ has BOTH these, as the Bible declares (9:22,26). As real as the original death, conveying the actual body of Christ in mass sacrifices says Rome: yet how, without suffering or blood, itself necessary for remission!
"He was wounded for our transgressions" and "without the shedding of blood there is no remission" and again, if He died more than once, then often would He suffer, but now ONCE in the end of the Age, He has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; and not this well, it is HE and He alone who has done it, can do it, is authorised to do it, whose blood alone can atone (John 10:1-10, Hebrews 9).
But we by faith have ONE Saviour who is ONE Mediator who in ONE offering by ONE blood (His own which He shed, being then DEAD but ALIVE FOR EVERMORE - Revelation 1:18-19), conveys ONE justification for ever (Romans 5:1,11, Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:7ff., Romans 3:23ff., 5:1-11). He thus brings ONE reconciliation with the ONE God who sent His OWN eternal WORD as Son to die, to live, to shed forth the Holy Spirit to those who are His, to return, to reign and thus to consummate the ONE COVENANT.
2. A BETTER COVENANT (Hebrews 7:16, 8:6)
The Mosaic covenant was served with God's own voice, power and to His people (Exodus 20); but the second is the New Covenant in Christ's blood (Matthew 26:28). This covenant is served in God's own person, by the blood of the body in which He became incarnate (Isaiah 48:16, Acts 20:28), with the word of the God-man creating it, applying it, paying for it in person, and then, alive from the dead, demonstrating its power in His own Person again, living Saviour and coming Sovereign.
This Covenant is personal, direct, without intermediary, approved in power, applied in liberty, alive in the heart of each believer where Christ lives, as in every saved soul (Romans 8:9, Colossians 1:27).
Priest internal and external, eternal, in Him the promise is perfected. You need no other priest, you need no other sacrifice: you are forbidden any other priest, any other sacrifice. There is only BLOOD that carries remission, only SUFFERING that carries authenticity, only BLASPHEMY that puts up priests offering sacrifices, now that He has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:12,22,25-26). If you want the 'Christianity' of this world, with its use of force, forged symbols, derogation of Christ, replacement indeed in having His 'representative' on earth, as Father, when you may call NO MAN on earth by such a title, or some New Age 'Christ' who is remanufactured by thought, so be it. They do not save, because they are the constructions of the heart of man, in pointed contrast to the unduplicable, the eternal Lord.
You have it thus
a) in word,
b) in work,
c) in blood,
d) in the power of an endless
e) for ever, and
f) without replacement, for
having died to sin once, He is alive for evermore;
g) confirmed in the
h) attested in the apostles
who saw Him alive from the dead some 40 days, before His departure,
3. BETTER PROMISES (Hebrews 8:6)
The priesthood in the Mosaic covenant had priests of Aaron's family, but this one has a Priest from the heart of God (Micah 5:1-3), not limited to human family; for in Deuteronomy 18, Moses told them in God's name that there would be a new PROPHET who would SUPERSEDE his own work, completing the testimony, not abrogating it (cf. Isaiah 59:21, 40:6ff.).
God does not change (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102, 119); but He DOES complete His work. In Christ, the Messiah, there is the promise with an oath as seen in Psalm 110:4ff., from the day of the prophecy of David to this; in this, the Messiah is a priest FOREVER, and it is there confirmed in this intractable way. It is like Melchisedek (Hebrews 7:17ff.), who received tithes from Abraham, though his parentage is not noted. So Christ, not from a human source in His deity but from God direct, is sworn a priest forever, irreplaceable, intractable, unimpeachable, unbreachable, unimpugned, indefectible, eternal.
Replace the stars ? They will go (Isaiah 51:6, Revelation 20, Matthew 24:35), for they are just a night light for our present play on earth. But replace the Christ ? the High Priest founded on better promises with a better ministry in a better covenant ? "My words," said He, "shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). Certainly the heavens and earth will go when their office is fulfilled, but His is never over (Rev. 1:18ff., 5:12-14; 21-22). It is always present, and even now (Hebrews 7:25), He is ALWAYS ALIVE to make intercession for His friends, saved sinners under the blood, over whom the word of God works like summer zephyrs of relief, of remedy and of refreshment.
Kept by the power of God (I Peter 1:5ff.), theirs is an inheritance fadeless, unsoiled, just like the Prince of Peace who has provided it, holy, harmless, undefiled, higher than the heavens (Hebrews 26). Better than any man, He is sufficient for all men: but unbelief rots (John 3:36, Daniel 12:1ff., Mark 9). It awakes not to the Lord, but to shame (Psalm 17). As to His people, "As for me, I shall see Your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with Your likeness." Thus I John 5:11-12 assures us who believe, that we indeed have eternal life. The range blotting it out, has been borne, carried away and cast into the depths of the sea (cf. Psalm 103:1ff.).
Here in this Christ, in this Covenant, in this Ministry of His, there is peace and joy, holiness and help, sanctity and strength, and the delight of His presence, without which man is like a rudderless ship, a windless Summer day and a pit without resources, dug with futility, without understanding, without need (Ephesians 2, 4, Hebrews 2, 12, Psalm 32). With Him, there is the assured inheritance which is ... BY FAITH (Ephesians 1:11).
From these things, there arises a cry in the heart. It is the CALL TO ALMS.
CALL to ALMS
The CALL to ALMS is to give in Him, what He first gives. It is to be sanctified in grace, covered not in confusion but in profusion, to be longsuffering, forbearing, wise as serpents, harmless as doves, spreading the word of God in character, in face, in grace, in power, in concern, in intelligence as the wisdom of God is awaited, and believingly received (James 1).
It is a call to One greater than Samson in strength, than Moses in meekness, than Abraham in originality and mission. It is a call to be in the Kingdom of Heaven, citizens who revere their king (Philippians 3:20), to whom they belong before all visas of men, and above all the laws of men. Did not Peter and John declare that WE OUGHT TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN! (see Acts 4-5 for the double issue on that point!).
For all that (Hebrews 13), far does this constitute any licence to break laws UNLESS and UNTIL they require one to disobey God! The Christian is peaceable, but is not to fail to show the courage of Christ in his or her meeting of hostile laws directed against the word of God, or applied personally, subversive of the law of the kingdom of Christ.
The member of the kingdom of heaven can tolerate pain, but not lie; bear with longsuffering, but not with degradation of the name of Christ by consent, silent or other; achieve testimony by good works, but not in the vain endeavour which neither Cain nor Abraham was suffered to consummate: of achieving membership by such means (Romans 3:23-27, Ephesians 2:1-12, John 1:12, Romans 9:16).
There is a savour which is not from man's origination (cf. I Corinthians 2:14), and a light which he does not generate (Philippians 2:15, John 8:12, 9:5). This kingdom GIVES and its members are of it and like it; they like it for it is like the Saviour whose it is, and who inhabits both it and them individually (Romans 8:16,9-12). It is His wounds which gave entrance to eternity from which He came, and it is from His ransom that realisation of reality returns to man.
What can man do better than in one's own generation show the love of Christ, to make up to the current and contemporary billions of man, something what remains of His grace (Colossians 1:24), undimmed, still fervent, apt in spirit. Indeed, it is the Arrival of the Aptest, of Jesus Christ Himself, so by nature from eternity before He came in our own form and format (Philippians 2), who makes of His children those who as emissaries, members of His kingdom, yes His very body, reminders of WHO HE IS, and so apt in grace for the turning of many to His face.
These alms are of God, and the army which bestows them has ONLY ONE CAPTAIN, which is Christ (Hebrews 2:10-17).
*1 See SMR pp. 925ff., 127ff., 877ff., Aviary of Idolatry
*2 Cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H, esp. 1088Dff..
See More Marvels Ch. 4, His Wounds
Opened Eternity Ch. 3, *8,
Highway to Hell,
Divine Agenda Ch. 6.
See Barbs ... 6-7, Calibrating
Myths ...Ch. 6, Great Execrations ...Ch. 6,
Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Chs. 3, 5.
*5 As noted in His Wounds Ch. 4 ...
In this case, it was a family affair, Adam joining with the same folly, and thus the full wonder of a glorious potential, through an odious misuse, loomed into world history, as the moon might loom above the earth if, out of control in the spatial dynamics, it became a missile. This time ? It was not like a romantic light, not to mention its actual purpose, a night light, but rather was it like an al Qaeda rebuke, that tribe getting its own divine come-uppance with a rather larger flying object hitting the earth itself. That, incidentally, is also to happen to this earth (Revelation 8:7,19), and objectively has often come close to happening as we have noted on this site before, from astronomical and empirical data.
Both the pair, male and female, creating to pro-create but not to downgrade what they pro-created, nevertheless did just that. It was not that there was no hope -- no, it was not that, for God at once (Genesis 3:15), promised what would become a counter-sin insurgency of celestial power to overcome not only sin but the devilish advocate who suggested and seeks it (cf. Hebrews 2): and this, it was in terms a human who rising above the sin of man would rescue him.
Not as fallen would man conquer Satan, the adversary of subtlety and vainglory, but as God had made man, so would He rescue him with His own purity and power, impregnable, immovable, triumphant. The seed of woman would crush the satanic power at its head and source.
Thus, for man, this was the first exploration, the experiment better not made, the misuse of capacities most gloriously bonded and bounded, with which he most futilely absconded, with no more wisdom than that of a mouse, rushing as if chased by a cat, from a cat that was not there, to one, unseen, that was ...
Falling from heights of benediction to depths of despair, man became one needing a cover, and the promise was there in what is sometimes called the protoevangelion. Seen in Genesis 3:15, the initial phase of John 3:16, is the first dawn of the Gospel.
Answers to Questions Ch. 8. This did not come in a vacuum.
The virtual endorsement by the
American Church (PC in America) of the PC of Australia,
despite the latter's long-standing female elders (cf. Assault on Timothy), and
its new suppressive act relative to the necessary additive on the love of God, for its Confession,
while the direct affirmation of the Confession's statements on the Bible, in its Ch. 1, had long been bypassed by the PC of Australia's GAA:
made a nexus impossible for entanglement.
Long processes of enquiry from afar now came to a short end.
Indeed, the Australian body had in operation become a confessional church in this, that its Westminster Confession was cited as determinative in its 1991 findings, even though just WHAT it determined was itself left conditional on interpretation to be. This was a focus of un-Presbyterian traditionalism linked to a ferment of change (cf. The Biblical Workman, Ch. 8, pp. 125ff.).
If MISSIONARIES had to come to this land, why did they stay, if things were so satisfactory ? Has truth changed so quickly ? In fact the American Church itself failed at a crucial point even to withdraw from a compromising ecumenical involvement in the USA, despite an Assembly move to do so, giving an air that seemed to savour of a carnality unspeakable.
When the word of God is determinedly set aside, replaced, augmented, made subordinate in theory or in practice, it is not for no reason that this occurs, nor is it with no result! nor is it less than rebellion (I Samuel 15:22-23, Mark 7:7ff.). Is there then anything declared by God when any body, be it church or other, does this thing, doing it itself or combining or associating spiritually with those who do, and so demonstrating acquiescence with such a path ? Yes there is: LEAVE IT! There it is in Romans 16:17, II John 7-10, Titus 3:10, Ephesians 4:30-5:7 with I Corinthians 7:1, uncleanness being of spirit as well as flesh, I Timothy 6:1ff., II Timothy 3:1-5, II Chronicles 16:9-10, 19:2, and see Separation 1997. Do you wish to be partakers of their deeds, comrades of their creeds! (II John 11). Is the doctrine of Christ what tames the word of God, ignores its commandments, or as James puts it, in denying one point, one truth, is guilty of all! Liberty to so seduce the word of God is precisely the butt of Christ's ire as in Mark 7:7ff., and such liberty is but in name, liberty for man, not liberty in God!
To be sure salvation is by grace, but it is not in disgrace; and if God forgives He also urges, commands, and what He commands here is this: DO NOT PARTAKE with them! Is one poor in hearing, can one not read that this is so ignored by so many as cliques and clichés act as if to conquer truth and it languishes in the occupied hearts of many, an action that becomes like that of Jehoshaphat before his rebuke by Hanani, so that concord with what is astray becomes a noose or lassoo, necessitating correction! (II Chronicles 19:2).
If the foundations are destroyed, where can the righteous do, or to whom shall they flee ? It is to God they must flee, whom nothing changes, and whose word is seven times refined (Psalm 11, 12:6). If God is your Rock, and the Lord Jesus Christ is He (II Samuel 23:3, Psalm 18:30, I Corinthians 3:11), there is no lack of stability; and His righteousness has relish (cf. Isaiah 33:6). The fear of the Lord is clean and is precious to Him as to His people (cf. also Psalms 19, 112, 128).
See Matthew 16:21ff., 17:12, 20:28, 22:1-14, implied in 22:37ff., Luke 21:42, Mark 10:11; Matthew 26:2, 24,31ff., 26:27ff., 26:53ff., cf. Luke 24:44ff..
See News 19.
SMR pp. 1086ff..