W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
Chapter 3 Epilogue
THE PROFOUND PURPOSE
OF THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT
TO CONDEMN OR NOT TO CONDEMN ?
There is no Question!
The Marvel is the Divine Prodigy in the Answer
There is no question. When Christ came, the opportunity was for love, the aperture was to induce non-condemnation, the desire was to oppose the judgment, to show it was no fate but a spiritual fatuousness which was neither necessary not desirable nor good nor apt for the creation called man.
This fact is so uniformly omitted from the perspective of many theologians that one is tempted to wonder why their reading glasses seem to obscure the obvious, even the obstructively clear, instead of making it, if it were possible, more so!
This amiable and apt, this ample and profound seeking for mercy, as with Nineveh, as in the thrust towards Jerusalem, both in the day of Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 17) and in that of Christ on this earth, is so often confused with other things, that it is almost as if it is not to be looked upon, like the unclothed human form in public!
With what does it seem to be confused ? At times, it is mixed almost to a liquid, with the DUE and PROPER character of condemnation of sin, or the SOVEREIGN certainty that it will be condemned where left unkempt in the presence of the KING, or the severity of the condemnation which absolute purity imposes, or the necessity of such condemnation where peace is the proper option, or even the atrocity which sin is, or the total disablement from decision making processes which afflicts the race, at the level of receiving or even recognising divine mercy, past a touch or a taste: that one wonders why the list of substitutes for the teaching of the word of God on the issue of motivation for mercy, is so frequently left like a large suitcase on a railway platform, without an attendant.
This attendant ? In large letters his little station on the platform has this written: NOT TO BE CONDEMNED. Of course, another official passing, sets up another notice: EXEMPT PROVIDED PAID FOR.
They are both true. It is also true that the owner of the stuff, the emblem for sin, has maybe some desire to have it covered by proper arrangement, but not so much of this as to actually take paper and pen and sign the cover contract. It therefore attracts the withering gaze of those good at that sort of thing, and is in bad case altogether. Those are dogs, or pigs, or dingoes, or whatever else seems disapprobative, they chant.
However, the Station Master is a decent man, a fine example of moral probity and care, concern and consideration. It is not his DESIRE that the stuff be condemned, or that if it must be degraded, that the owner be condemned with it.
Intensely he seeks out the owner, presents the case for the contract; but the owner, though stirred at his thoughtfulness, is so prone to parsimony that he comes even in his own twisted mind to seek some other motive, or to wonder if the Station Master might not have some ulterior motive, or perhaps, is only apparently in charge, with some behind the scenes boss making a bit out of the deal.
The extravaganzas of sin can hardly be exaggeration: exaggeration and impoverishment of data by desire, are its very nature.
The DESIRE of GOD that NONE should PERISH but that ALL might be reconciled is so often stated, as in Colossians 1, that one wonders what is the obstruction in the vision of the authoritarians; and the certainty of condemnation without atonement is so clear and so often repeated, that one wonders where the permissive people have mislaid their glasses: that is when either bother to look at the Bible at all.
It is not enough to condemn the blindness of those who imagine that it all works out in the end; though like other blindness, it is potentially fatal, for when the car of correctitude hits you, there is no other option now, to intervene and make it miss. Nor is it enough to assault the apparent heartlessness of those who maintain that God looks at the race, lets most of it have it, and selects a few. That too is a half truth.
GOD DOES NOT DESIRE TO CONDEMN. If that is not clear from John 3:17, what could be! He did NOT come to this world to CONDEMN IT, but that it might be saved. The ONE who did this and said this, is GOD. Why the argumentation from theologians ?
But He DID, goes the super-Calvinist chorus; but He did, look at the passages telling us of the severity and disabling power of sin. But that is irrelevant. The point is here the divine motivation, and this is eminently, statedly clear. It is universal, even to the point of heaven and earth; and this is not only stated, but affirmed with rigour, with celestial and terrestrial scope, with emphasis and with repetition.
We are therefore NOT, emphatically not dealing with a divine procedure which turns from condemnation in a few little cases which are a testimony to grace. That too is a half-truth. We are looking at the magnificent attainment of deity in saving ANY while seeking ALL! That is what He says. When will the world of competing and antithetical theological camps wake up to this fact, without moving to the opposite, and then either deleting condemnation altogether, or making it less, or leaving other means of getting places other than the mire! The slime of the slither is not appreciated: neither is fully true. One ignores the statement of divine motivation, the other ignores the reality of what comes when the divine provision is ignored, trifled with or deemed tedious.
NOT TO BE CONDEMNED in on His breast plate. NOT to be condemned is in His mouth at the case of the fallen woman depicted in John 8:1-11. "Neither do I condemn you..." He declares to her.
NOT TO BE CONDEMNED is on His lips, as He addresses Peter, telling him that though he will deny Him three times, yet He has prayed for him; and that although Satan is lusting to get his soul, yet he will fail.
NOT TO BE CONDEMNED is the pith of His purpose when He heals the paralytic as in Mark 2, and indeed these words of pardon precede the healing which was the purpose of the letting down of the man into the midst of the Messiah's presence, in the densely packed room. The case of the blind man recorded in John 9 is one where man judges, and the poor afflicted person is cast out of the religious presence of the condemning crowd of exotic scholars and clerics because he dares to say of Christ, "Why this is a marvellous thing, that you do not know where He is from, yet He opened my eyes...", turning for a change from the dogmatic to the empirical. Earlier he had made a parallel point: "Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I can see."
The interrogators have the view that he should see it differently: "Give God the glory, for we know that this Man is a sinner." The healed man points out that "God does not hear sinners", and that "if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will, He hears him."
Faced with the simple prophetic fact of the Messiah, blind to the fulfilment of the myriads of associated predictions resting in and vested in Christ, they yet continue in dogmatic slumber, more blind than the healed man ever was.
Yet Christ penetrated this theological mist, this confused calamity of blind rhetoric that had been developing over time, for expression from time to time, and healed the man. When duly awakened, the man met Christ later, he was faced with the point.
Many receiving goodness from God prefer never to face the point, but this man did face it. "Do you believe in the Son of God ?" Christ interrogated him, for His own part. "Who is he, Lord ... ?" asks the recipient of healing. "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking to you," Christ replied.
Did the man equivocate like some refined theologian at this ? Not at all. "Lord, I believe!" he declared and worshipped Him. His lips responded to his eyes, and what his eyes saw was God in flesh, motivated, activated, merciful and just, powerful and true.
"For judgment I have come into this world," Christ declared. How strange, some might think, that this be so, if He did not come to condemn the world, but that it might be saved.
However this is the repository of reality, and it has its phases. It is the motivational phase and the thrust of the desire that is here in focus, not the result of its abuse.
If your purpose is to save a camp site, and you dig around it and restore it, and then it is found afflicted with deadly mosquitoes bearing plague, then you may have to condemn it; but your whole purpose in coming to the site with labourers in the first place was that it might NOT be condemned.
THAT as all could see if they bothered to open an eye, was your objective. It is normal if you refuse remedy, that you are unremedied. This has precisely nothing to do with the availability of the remedy, or the heart with which it was offered, or, for that matter, the cost of making it available here and now in the situation of need, and that both freely and lovingly, with mercy and thoughtfulness combined in all directions. Though there was a procedure in its implantation, yet even then, when the Syro-Phoenician woman BESOUGHT Him to act, He did so!
Not only however is there a procedure to ensure the total amplification in due course (as in Romans 11), but there is one for what obstructs.
You see, indeed, as you examine John 9:39, that the matter is categorised. He has come that "those who DO NOT SEE may see, and that those who see may be made blind."
Thus there is the mercy that seeks the OUTCAST, the CONDEMNED, the CRUSHED, and seeks to restore, renew, relieve and help and heal. However as to those who would OBSTRUCT this and INSIST on condemning from their own merciless disposition, He rebuked them sharply and directly for this very thing as we read in Matthew 9:9-13.
There He exhorts the condemning critics, as He gathers the despised tax collectors together and presents grace, to learn what Hosea meant (6:6), in saying that the Lord desired MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE. It was the objective, and it was not to be changed into toiling about with unchanged heart with a methodology ineffective because of no faith: it was this thrust for mercy that mattered. It was so in the day of Hosea, who declared it in the name of the Lord; and it remained so in His own day, and He resurrected it plainly before their eyes. "I did not come to call the righteous," He declared to the self-righteous seeming critics, "but sinners to repentance."
THAT was the constant purpose; but with what severity THEREFORE He addressed those who sought to PREVENT that mercy reaching the sinners by their obdurate obfuscations, and desolatory obstructions. In Luke 11:52 you see it at its height: "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering, you hindered." How they counter-attacked! But His desire was this: NOT TO CONDEMN, as in John 3:17. He had to seek out, as He showed in preview and in spirit and outline in Ezekiel 34, in the very midst of ostensible 'shepherds' whose heart was set on profit and palmy days for themselves. Resistance ? it was not underground but had pride of place even in the Temple!
Those whose desire was TO CONDEMN, were antithetical and had not learned first principles. Therefore great was their rebuke; and as to those whose artificial and art-form religion was brazen as a business using humanity for profit, His excoriating condemnation was vast and still echoes down the ages, as may be read in Matthew 23, where the flash of ire is almost like radio-activity. God is not content with triflers, official or unofficial, ostensibly friends or openly enemies. His desire not to condemn means exposure both of the remedy and of those who discount. As in Jeremiah's day (5:32), "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power, and My people love to have it so, but what will you do in the end ?".
If a doctor, impassioned to deliver eye patients from blindness, finds those who seek to burn down the hospital, one can see that this is a field where the medical clemency meets an enraged enemy, and this is the obstruction to such mercy that needs to be identified. Because it seeks to sever the mercy, it is condemned. Neither working for it nor with it, but and obtrusive if not delusive enemy of good, it acts to diminish life. It is like poison in the aspros, and it is to be removed from the product, here the proclamation. Those responsible are asking for judgment, and unless they too in good time seek mercy, what is their name! Identified, they are less dangerous, like any victimising agency.
Mercy seeks, meanwhile, for the good BECAUSE it is mercy, and shows KINDNESS because it is so.
Yet so far from indulgence of sin is this that Christ told the man impeded at the pool from gaining healing, "Go and sin no more lest a worse thing befall you." In other words, mercy is no substitute for righteousness, but a way back to it, a brake on breach and a reasonableness in fracture. The design neither ceases to be what it is because of mercy, nor does it lack tolerance, through the provisions of goodness. Mercy shows the tolerance, not of indolence, but of tragedy; and it moves back, not to self-will, but to righteousness.
"If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that belong to your peace ..., " we hear Christ speaking of the entire city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:42ff.). There is love, mercy, patience, truth, reality and pity. Truth is not deleted by mercy; mercy is not deleted by truth. In truth mercy played an immense role in the life of Christ on earth, in His ministry of word and deed, in His warnings and in His exhortations. Indeed it was so even in His judgments, which for some may well have had a therapeutic spiritual effect, since many priests joined the church (Acts 6), in due time. At all events, in His mercy the Lord was drawing all men towards Him (as specified in John 12:32-33, of His death), and in His death came the epitome to which He referred; for when He was at the lowest, pity was at the highest, its price supreme.
NOT TO CONDEMN, NOT TO CONDEMN! it is like a loud hailer going before the official car, a motorcycle escort giving the advance notice. Let the curious find out the nature of the danger of condemnation, since this Person is so keen not to be confused with those who simply would legislate condemnation. Let the hopeful investigate, and see what is this publication of peace! (Isaiah 52:7, cf. Mark 1:15). Let the estranged wonder what is the offer, and marvel that it is still the day of non-condemnation. Time to repent may be dying for those who do not receive Him, but it is not dead yet!
Yet let those who, like the scribes, the Pharisees, the disdainful, those without mercy or unwilling to take to heart the endless statements concerning the POLICY and DESIRE of God, the amplitude of His Spirit and the wonder of His patient heart: let them think. Was it not that those who "see" might be blind that He came ? Those obstructionists who philosophically make hey while the day still lasts for the Gospel, and declare that God has only a few in mind, as if the RESULT of His love were the same as the THRUST of it, who confuse predestination with a change of heart and not a security of spirit (cf. The Glow ... Ch. 8), who ignore the foreknowing that precedes it logically (Romans 8:30ff.), and the type of knowledge which the God of all comfort and mercy has: let them beware.
To truncate truth is horrid; to truncate mercy and to shred love is quite as horrible an ambition as a consequence. There is only one safety in the word of God: KEEP to it, all of it; add NOTHING to it, any of it. Then the believer dwells secure, surrounded by wisdom, the very wisdom of God.