W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for this Volume What is New
The Superb Construction of Salvation
and the Sublime Sovereign of Salvation:
Difference from Dissidence
and Stability amidst Disintegration
Practical Christianity in an Impractical, Pragmatic World
Movements Among the Nations as the Return of Jesus Christ Draws Near
THE BEGINNING, THE END AND THE WALK IN THE MIDDLE
I Timothy 1:5,
Galatians 5:6, 22-24, Philippians 1:20,28, 2:3
THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" is a well known incitement to thought and mandate for understanding. Nevertheless, people nowadays are so busy inventing their own commandments
(be good to people, what goes around comes around, don't dictate to others but do what you think, don't condemn anything or anyone unless it is torture, cruelty or death, agree with anything or anyone so long as life goes on smoothly and so on)
that the "very ideah" that GOD could have objectively true, design-relevant, desire-confirmed orders is about as near to popular thought as is this, that you don't believe in YOURSELF for power and propulsion, but in the revealed and righteous God.
However, the Maker, Creator, Designer, Saviour and only one for man (God is not a committee, even if socialism loves to direct committees with sophistry and gain a 'popular' result) has other things to say. If your car is the invention of sophisticated knowledge, engineering savvy, mathematical thought, computing research, trials and tests, considerations and refinements of thought and vision, and THIS NEEDS MANUFACTURER'S INSTRUCTIONS, how much more does the body and the mind and spirit of man, when its Creator speaks to its needs!
You might be arrogant enough to ignore your manufacturer's specifications if you were an eminent engineer, or you might be assured enough if you have devised the car yourself; but when it comes to life it is simply an objective fact that no man has devised it, and what it has is more than the most refined intelligence of man, his millions and his best thinkers can sort out. Far from swiftly making something as novel and profound as life, they cannot even fully understand how it is done, except in superlatives concerning its measured methods, concerted organisation and microscopic miniaturisation in cellular, organic and cerebral structure.
All that is being found is this: that if there is anything minute in engineering marvels, this is smaller, if there is anything sophisticated in brilliance of operational complexity and contrivance, this is better, if anything demanding of practical thought for solutions, this is more so, and if any solutions in reams and masses to a related assortment of prodigious problems, then the compound and complex life of man, this is still more amazing in its sheer brilliance.
It is used for engineering, to copy. It works as one, but is made of a multitude of exquisite co-operation. Knowledge is galloping, and recent books by such as Dr Robert Humphreys, Dr John Hartnett in astronomy and Dr John Sarfati in engineering and bio-chemistry ("Design"), in the realm of living creatures, incorporate much detail of new experiments and findings, such that problems outside life that often beset man are seen as solved within it, and difficulties almost past imagination, are seen solved in not just one way, but a multitude of inventive ways in living forms from bacteria to man. It is all done by COMMAND and it is all WRITTEN in a type of code: not a variety but one is the singular nature of the general case.
What then speaks but one language ? Chance is a name for what is not ordered (just the system to which it relates in order to be discussed); but language is ONLY order to format to conform to symbolic meaning. It is meaningless without implicit symbol-meaning apparatus. This is how our bodies are built from babes! Order is used for giving orders and the speaker is God, the addressee man. This comes in two ways: in the CONSTRUCTION of man from the initial zygote, the little seed from man and woman, and in the INSTRUCTION from the Bible, which verifies itself in all things just as the system for man's body does. Both deal greatly with command.
You COULD put a knife into the developing embryo - and in fact this is just what happens in millions of abortion cases - they call it a curette. That changes things, and is not the best care. However, if you let the orders flow, in the vast percentage of the cases, a wonderful thing called a child results, though of course as the thousands of years pass since creation, we learn that we are getting mutations to damage new generations of babies, and that these mount in such a way that left to itself, the race would ultimately have to die.
Such is the domain of NOT keeping the commandments over millenia, where judgments both from the Lord and from the laws of our physique mount up. It is marvellous how this amazing series of commands to make a man’s body from the zygote, has lasted. What a design!
You CAN put a knife to the word of God, a theological curette, and cut out this or that command, or add, but the FEAR of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the verse continues in this way: "a good understanding have they who keep His commandments" . To be sure, literally, it is "DO". To fear the Lord is where one begins wisdom, and to DO is the mark of a good understanding. DO what ? Why obviously what the Lord who is to be feared wants, desires, commands, orders, seeks, instructs, that to which He exhorts, of which He speaks positively. James is keen on this (Ch. 2): what is the good of so-called faith! Faith that believes does. It is not the emblem of perfection; but it IS the hand that holds the hand of power, and the power of God prevails.
HOW wise is a given person ? This is a matter for divine knowledge, but there is one aspect which is given for man to see for himself. If you do NOT fear God (reverence, trustfully hope in, rely on and practically take to heart and life all that God is and requires and provides), and so DO His commands, but instead avoid, despise or are contrary in heart, mind and spirit to them: then what ?
Then you have not even begun to be wise. You are not yet in the Beginner's Class, not yet in Prep. This is where the heavy irony lies: many who are so bold and self-assured as to TELL us what we need to obey and what not, what is good enough to do and what is mere cant, culture or nonsense: these so-called leaders may imagine themselves teachers of babes, trying to help the old-fashioned ‘idiots’ who imagine that God both is and speaks and being personal, has a will expressed in words. They make up gods, seek to become them or wrap arms around composite old ones... They would want one to believe that God is far less efficient in having/expressing thoughts than they are.
Yet it is precisely these, who act like the scribes in Jesus' day (Matthew 21, Luke 11) who THINK they are (relative to others) MOST wise, who lag like nags with broken legs. They have yet even to start their schooling in wisdom; for they are ignoramuses par excellence, unschooled and unskilled in wisdom to this point: they have not begun in it at all!
THE END OF THE COMMANDMENT
I TIMOTHY 1:5
This is the beginning, but what of the end ? First of all note that Paul's topic in the above verse is the COMMANDMENT. That is, taking it as one THING, all that God commands, what is the OBJECTIVE of it ? The Greek word used by the apostle here is telos. This, as in Luke 1:33 can mean 'end' or termination or completion. It can also mean purpose, aim, completion in that sense. In English our word 'end' can likewise mean purpose or completion, termination.
In this case, it is obvious from the context that Paul is not telling us what terminates the word of God but what fulfils it. What is its point, its thrust, its office in life ? What is it FOR ? This is his question. That ? It has three major purposes, he goes on to indicate. It is love, first of all. It is not however undifferentiated 'love' which for some means passion, for others predilection, for others again, a pleasurable fulfilment which one likes to dwell on and so forth. No this love as in I Corinthians 13 likewise, is defined and refined, both. It is love out of a pure heart.
What is more wonderful than a pure heart, the necessary source for true love: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5). Here God has no use for ulterior motives or of self-deception, but rather values willing and even delighted submission to Regal Reality as one's control, as for the actual knowledge of the God of truth and power, in Christ risen from the dead because indestructible (Acts 2:23). THIS love which is the end of the commandment is of THAT kind, and comes in that milieu.
This does not mean that you wait until you are perfect (in the resurrection as in Hebrews 12) before showing this sort of love. Does it not state that if we confess our sins to the Saviour whom we receive and in whom thus we operate by faith, that He is faithful and just both to forgive and to CLEANSE from ALL unrighteousness (I John 1)! ALWAYS act by faith in these ways, not trusting to your performance but to your Lord; and if, O woe, you do fall into some sin, then repent of it with speed and have it processed into purification at ONCE! Do not linger any longer in it.
Thus love from a pure heart, from a good conscience and unfeigned faith: this is the stated END of the COMMANDMENT. A good conscience ? Have you made any submissions to sin, have you confounded your heart by having some kind of accord, some entente cordiale with some iniquity, wrong-headed feeling or attitude to someone, to some commandment ? Have you ceased to seek good for someone and do you merely make use of that person, or even hate ? It is for you rather to hope, and to hate the evil, but leave to God the just One for the ultimate personal sanctions. To be sure if someone rejects Christ, he or she is judged already (John 3:15ff.); but this is a simple scriptural fact, not a judgment of man.
Keep your conscience clear, and make no bargains with sin; by FAITH UNFEIGNED, operative and actual, and working: not kept in the garage in case you ever need it, to moulder among the cobwebs in the dust. Instead, MEET every challenge and overcome by the grace of God, never ceasing from keeping your house, your spiritual house in order, by the power and peaceable mercies of God. Be SATISFIED with nothing that dissatisfies HIM!
That is the PURPOSE of the commandment. It has a reason, a point. It is simple, now in the New Testament, in Christ; but it is clear and it is written in propositions and is no matter of opinion. WHY do you call ME Lord, Lord! Christ rebuked, and NOT do the things that I say!
IN THE MIDST - Philippians
1:20,28, 2:3, Galatians 5:22-24
That is the beginning and the end of wisdom working through the word of God to the heart and the mind of man. What however of the intervening WALK in the way, of what lies in the midst of it all! Various ingredients pulse and attest themselves in the word of God.
A) The BOLD Faith - Ph. 1:20,28
"My earnest expectation and my hope" ... This is something that Paul holds dear. What is it then ? It is that IN NOTHING he should be ashamed. He who trusts in the Lord will not be ashamed (Isaiah 49:23, 8:20, 64:5). Instead of being ashamed, then, what is Paul's chosen course ? It is this: "that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death." Being silent when challenged, by circumstances or enemies of the faith, being low-lying like low-level life, this is NOT the way. Speak out, be open, consider Peter and John in Acts 3-5, and all the martyrs who did not escape – why ? it was because they were faithful. Don’t seek success, but to be faithful. Do not even consider wise and prudent self-first survival techniques. The point ? what best magnifies Christ in your body with ALL BOLDNESS. For Him, take courage, instead of hiding in sin's entourage.
You can deny Christ by not speaking when you should, or HOW you should! or again, by continuing to speak with others, or even being with them, when you should not (cf. Romans 16:17, Jude, I Corinthians 5-6, Ephesians 5, Numbers 16, Jeremiah 15:17, Psalm 1:1). IN so challenging, clearly and boldly, you must be IN NOTHING TERRIFIED by your adversaries, for it is by your confident faith that you help them to realise that their perdition, lostness and judgment is real. If you REALLY believe in the Lord, why fear the puny pugnacities and protestations of man! Speak from the heart, one imbued with boldness because of the truth, Christ in you (Colossians 1:27), whose word is truth.
B) The LOWLY Mind - Philippians 2:3
That is the matter of faith in the face of adversaries; but what of your normal mode of living ? You must be ready to defend the Gospel, to decry evil, to help the afflicted; but what of the normal pulse of the WALK in Christ ? There is this: Seek to resemble Christ in spirit. Never allow strife to rule you in spiritual sulks or squalor, through silly things for your own petty self, rather turning the other cheek. Never seek your greatness, control, mastery and anything wonderful for yourself, for Christ is enough (cf. Psalm 73:25, Phil. 1:21). To Him is all due.
Never be emulous, seeking self-first, or self most recognised. Seek not your own things but those of others: your own DUTY DO; but your own greatness, bury. Let THIS mind be in you that was in Christ when, in His case, equal with God, He yet humbled Himself to BECOME (down) a man, and to be obedient (down further) to death, the death of the Cross (down furthest). It was not success through Christianity in wealth and manner of life: it was success through obedience in DOING what GOD DESIRED. You must be like this, not seeking your own ambition, except it be given of Him, and then it is DUTY, for, by, in, with and through HIM. Walking with God is beauty, truth and holiness.
C) The ULTRA-LEGAL Walk and the UNDERLYING Heartbeat Galatians 5:22-24
Further, there are some things against which there is no law. That is interesting is it not ? In these ways, you CANNOT go wrong! What then are these glorious and so acceptable paths in the midst of Christian living ? Paul tells us.
love (further defined in the preceding
joy (irrepressible because of Who He is and WHERE He is! - I Peter
peace (Oh SUCH a peace past all
understanding when you are with God, Christ is in you - Colossians 1:27 - and
you study to do His will in all things - Colossians 1:10), being
long-suffering (not 'agro' by
disposition, forcing yourself, will, ways),
gentleness - not pressurising from your own
mere psyche - and being filled with
GOODNESS, that glorious impact from the
very heart of the liberal and loving God! –
faith ( as shown in Stephen in Acts 7, a lovely testimony so 'successful'
meekness in your own being, and
self-control OVER your own personality.
That is the family against which THERE IS NO LAW!
What friends to have in your depths of heart, these!
Indeed, though 'flesh' - that actively subversive, spiritually horrid, self-centred and ultimately devil-activated thrust of lust of mind, spirit and body – assert itself, yet it is CRUCIFIED with Christ, and ITS FRUITS can drip and die with Him!
Such is the way, the walk with
the Lord, the BEGINNING of WISDOM, to keep His word and do His will. Such is
the END of the Commandment in unfeigned faith, a clear conscience and a pure
heart, all out of love. Such is the WALK in the Spirit, which invites all
(Revelation 22:17), and
dissatisfies never. Though the flesh rise like a volcano, the devil spew, yet
of the living Christ, who
died and rose that He might be Lord over all, this diverts the lava and love
the Christian looking in responding love to Him, to obey (John 14:21-23).
IN THE MESS OF THE SECULAR, COME HOME!
In these well-defined premises, there is stability, security, meaning, method, marvel, a repose for nobility, a dynamic for morality, a purity for purpose and something which, so far from pandering to the debasement of man which is to be found in shows like the Simpsons, so popular in its unrighteous sardonism, as in the politics of contempt and vile violence, such as have become common to the point of becoming a new atmosphere to mirror the pollutions of the meteorological one, gives man back at last his proper place.
He has lost it for a reason, but needs it nonetheless. Here in the Redeemer, God moves man to the level of his construction and the heights of his production. It is neither to become super-man nor sub-man, both a spiritual milieu, depending on the heart; it is to become man as designed, in the image of God, creation of deity, one able to become the friend of God. The gap that counts, it is this: that between what man is made for and what he does. It is rather like using a sabre for ploughing. It is not irrelevant; just ridiculous.
Let us consider an illustration. Many Sudanese have been coming to this country. The erect posture, the dignity and calm which appear outwardly have been very impressive in one's observation of many. They tend to dress simply but attractively and to be clear-eyed and pleasant. Tall with apparent self-possession, they are an apparent acquisition to the nation. However, we learn from the news, such as in The Australian, November 14, 2008, that there are gangs, that this and that one is stabbed, that there are conflicts. There are multiplied offences, disproportionate to their percentile basis for comparison with others, it is revealed.
Yet, say some, look at the background of many of them, brought up in refugee camps, with inadequate food or fluid, let alone sewerage, dispossessed, amidst depraved assaults, wicked religious persecution, gross betrayals and inhuman swoops by Islamic zealots, even to take children physically from families and bring them up in an alien environment without mercy, concern or awareness of what is being done. How could you expect to have their new lives vacated from their carefully learned responses to such things! they may ask.
The methods of upbringing in this our own land, they declare, are different, where crisis control and aggression are early approached with solutions.
What are these solutions so available in Australia ? In part, it is a sense of the features and foci of different people, to have concern for these, to realise the differences and not simply react, but rather with tolerant mien accept and proceed to inject peaceable productivity. You may find exemption in certain high schools, they might admit, where unsolicited visiting teams of the violent come and create physical havoc, amidst these serene Australian persons, after all themselves so vulnerable! You may consider statistics of our own nation's crime rates; but it is felt, at least there are forces of solace, of counsel, of restraint and these new immigrants must be allowed to find their feet, on a ground less tilting and to learn our ways. By all means, let them be helped and that with grave compassion and a reticence which does not bludgeon.
Yet the weakness of this position for our own country is precisely this, that our own ground is tilting more and more. First of all, the State increasingly seeks to subjectivise morals, as does the UN connection of which, unlike the preceding PM, the current one seems to be so fond. Its grossly intrusive and arrogant intrusion into the field of religion has been noted before, and merely tends to sedate, unman, and distance from deity (cf. Mystery of Iniquity) those of the human race over whom it achieves, directly or more often indirectly, any control.
It is from such premises as these that the various efforts to control free speech*1 arise; and it is in the spirit of the Age that the UN in its godless terrain, subsists. Its simplistic secularity and urbane idealism, making of man a mulch of the meaningless and a mess mesmerised by vacuous ideas without warrant, set like a stench instead of God, is too well-known. It proceeds in seeking to address truth by ignoring it and making expediency a dream for a mankind to be rebuilt on the premises of nothingness, adorned with the propositions of vague idealism which ignoring God, find only dust as their basis and dirt as their result. It is not that they never do good. Rather, it is the cost of the heavily limited dealings in spirit and ideal, in morals and in mind, in religious presumption and a plastic mouth which has no certainty, but speaks its commands just the same: it is this which is profane as well as secular.
It is thus not surprising that the reputation of that body has become that of inadequacy, powerlessness, prejudice and a certain pomp, as exposed by Shirley Hazzard in such works as People in Glass Houses. Its failure in Biafra, in the Sudan, in the Nasser invasion of Israel is merely the obverse of its insolidity and spiritual adventurism. It is like a word machine, disinclined to find a logical basis or a religious reality, trying to operate in a dust-storm, or in its desert conditions, a sand-storm, while keeping the kitchen clean in principle.
Those who favour it have a tendency to become like it, as with other idols of mankind in history.
The same spirit of blatancy, more aggressive, is to be found in the current follies of excluding the realities of creation*1 from schools and colleges, in toto at the rational level as in this sad State, or in similar oppressive procedures throughout much of this world in its brutalised civilisation, which for the best of ostensible reasons does the worst of possible treasons to what man is and needs to be, in order to function.
It is not merely a question of how this or that tribe, race or people has spent its childhood and adolescence. That is relevant but not the determinant. The point at issue is what man is, who made him, what he is supposed to be doing and how; and so long as this is made a subject of irrational naturalistic idolatries, it will be aborted, reason being scuttled and desire being formalised, as has been the case (cf. SMR, Beauty of Holiness Ch. 3, TMR Ch. 8, Secular Myth and Sacred Truth, The gods of naturalism have no go!).
So long as the nature of man, the character of his spirit, the launching pad for his soul, the responsibilities of his life, the morals of his design, the work of his Maker and the wisdom of his Designer, indeed the way of His Saviour are ignored, bypassed or made irrelevant by statute, custom, rewards or penalties or decree, so long is man himself bypassed, distorted and distempered. There is no cure for absent truth.
The same mistake has been made with our aborigines. So long as monetary pampering in ever increasing allowances for this and that, such as sending children to school who do not for all that by any means always come, donating large tracts of land with inbuilt capital upgrade taken from owners thereby dispossessed or disqualified, and providing houses ready to be broken down freely given to them, but often not appreciated, and this amidst the misery of some of their own elders who appear with others not seldom to engage in child molestation, while drug abuse and drunkenness abound, so long with the 'problem' abound. It will moreover be expected to lead to such results as the infamous Gang of Forty Nine, privileged, progressive aboriginal youth in the glamour of wrong-doing as a notoriety. Towards what, however, do they so progress ?
Man is not a recipient of bounty from man, or an object of tolerance from man, or a member of mankind subject to his race whether conceived as universal or partial, in intent, estimation of meaning and duty; and so long as he is so regarded as such or treated so, his reality of spirit is in vast peril of being damaged, his spirit of adventure and originality is oppressed, his duties to God are invaded and his whole nature is distorted. As a result, there is 'amazing' failure to respond to social efforts and even some aboriginal leaders have gone on record to the effect that the current approach is demoralising, because it lacks the stir and stimulus to labour and responsibility, allowing weakness to be rewarded and effort to be degraded.
How often has one seen bright young aboriginal people seduced by pleasure, drink, drugs, inertia, laziness, abuse of life, manipulation of authorities or misuse of funds! In some ways, it oddly enough can resemble the careless ineptitude which some children of the very rich learn to acquire. NOTHING MATTERS, is often the underlying thought, and something somewhere HAS to be found.
There is SO MUCH that CAN be found in times of extended leisure, with some means but nothing to do. This is in some ways a parable of other people, who though different in immediate circumstances and racial background, also seek rather violently (whether this be physical or psychic in kind), for SOMETHING. The force of the desire is a measure of the repression, suppression or aversion from the actual psyche in man, given by God, not for indolence or sophistication of self-pleasure, but for more than work as such: it is given by God for God, in man through man with the supply of His Spirit that man might be a worthy image-bearer of God. In some ways, this means being like a little child before God, He being infinite and infinite in understanding; but in others, as history's flaming examples in science, law and military life illustrate so often, it means becoming men and women of stability and strength, known purpose and clear values.
But what of the secular, the separated, the sepulchres of man's spirit in the form of idolatries, false prophets, false and ill-attested christs and the like ? There is but one narrow way to God, but the highway to hell is paved with honourable mentions and good intentions. In this case, it is very definitely the issuance, the quality, which is important. If someone is trying to shoot you, the important thing (unless there is a sacrificial case) is not to be shot. Avoiding the meandering and finding the mission, this is essential for man. Otherwise a mission finds him, often mere demission of duty and violence of mind or body, in pursuit of something which neither satisfies nor meets the case.
Hence comes the unruliness of man: he is otherwise occupied so often, than in what he is designed to so; and this, in the full grace of God, not as some mere instrument, but as a person shrouded in spirit, with affinity to the Creator, which though ruined, is remediable.
It is this which makes man's declivity the worse: it is not hopeless. This is only so if he continually avoids the operation of God to restore, redeem and recover him.
Thus, while the simmering ponds of waste secularistic fluids, the effluents of philosophy, are used for drinking water, what can man expect ? It is easy to state for it is observable at the international level in endless wars, proliferating like acne on the face of an unfortunate youth, or AIDS in the midst of those contra-design exponents of a liberty which our design does not grant, as well as amid victims conjoined incidentally to such things, as by infected blood. It is seen in the silliness of grandiose nationalistic efforts, like those of Putin, ever seeking to show others, to intimidate, as in Georgia, to harass as with energy supplies so that Europe is now taking vigorous and organised steps towards insulating itself from the Russian motif of manipulation and power-demonstration, with a growing net of other supplies (The Australian, November 14, 2008).
Nor is the Russian Prime Minister alone in his mirage of greatness, which perhaps he would extend in the current move during the Presidency of another, to extend the term of office to 6 years ...as we read in the same paper.
the childishness of a Mussolini
the ambition of a Hitler seeking to enhance the
agility of a race,
the Aryan component, or the export of
the Rising Sun of a pseudo-divine emperor,
or any other parallel:
the result has its cost, often devastating.
It is all one in one thing: when GOD is neglected, there is almost no limit to which man will not move, exalting himself, his ideas, his race, his theories, his pleasures, his rule, his imaginary self-sufficiency, his superiority, his mythical 'making it' to be himself, and doing it all CONTRARY TO ALL EVIDENCE, and all success. He pays and pays and had he prayed and prayed, and that not amiss, to his Redeemer-Creator, then history would have been so utterly different that we must await the approaching millenium (The Holocaust of Morality and the Coming of Christ the King Ch. 4) to see something of what it is like when "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14, cf. Isaiah 11).
In fact, in whatever form, the spirit of man without God wishes to expose and elaborate on itself, pushing this nation or philosophy in the very face of the Gospel of grace and the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, or making this subsidiary or shadowy spectre in its place, so does this planet decline and are its resources wasted. So does fuel breed fire from the spark of human self-determination, self-will and self-exaltation, amid the wastage of lives mislived, deluded, denuded, unfulfilled, exempt in spirit from reality, find truth tedious, or violating it like some new crucifixion.
The fact is that the pure expense
in bodies (slain in millions in the last
100 years of disgrace),
in atmosphere (intruded on with endless
in heart (as psychic stress, confusion, concern
and anguish mount cumulatively,
in living becomes incalculable:
These are as varied as the social results in races, the financial backlash in nations beset with greed and irresponsibility, in the second childhood of man in his resentments, competitive lashings, deceitful pretences and inordinate ambitions for religion or material, for pride or for consequence, as if force were his father. It becomes almost as if his mentality had arrived from Alice, in a letter from Wonderland, and not from God, in a display of paint throwing 'art', making magnificent minds from the absence of mind and form and wisdom, in a construction of amazing and wholly magical facility and extreme correlation of working concepts, induced into a singularity called man. In this, no truth created truth, no wisdom made wisdom profound in construction, no concepts made a conceptual integration far beyond in working practicality, anything man has done in any construction and non spirit made spirit, while matter was dumped from something that isn't there, or is begged into existence, like charity to the blind.
If you MUST follow Alice in her dream, it is necessary to remember that dreams do not make you pay; but living them does do so!
The case is not essentially different if you use a religion without either divine warrant or any valid ground in that reason which God has given to man to enable him to think and test and seek with facility and find. This is dismissed with a lordly wave; and no more is it to be your deputy in such things, whether in jihad or inquisition indifferently. Further, it may be, changing the name only, a philosophy which witlessly serves the turn: for both come from man, ignoring the strong declarations of deity, who after all, has not left us without a witness, demonstrable, validated and verifiable*2. This is found uniquely in the Bible in propositions, predictions and analyses of our condition, yes and remedies for it, as in parallel, personally in Christ. It is He who is God manifest in flesh once and for all, in His work of mercy and grace, self-discipline and empathy, to cover once for all in a single sacrifice the gross depredations of man upon himself and his neighbours, so that once more he might live with God, as intended and provided for so richly (Hebrews 6, 9-10, Titus 2-3).
Post-Christian thought is merely a further fall.
there was the first, where
freedom became an idol and competition with God its issuance;
the second when evil became
paramount and sovereign
the third came in Israel, when for
all the miracles of revelation and provision,
the fourth arises, as man improvises
and acts as he will.
The world is falling apart because it is rejecting all that would hold it together.
Thus man seeks, in segments or internationally, a meaning and motivation. This is so, whether through the new Babel, the United Nations; through any other collection such as the EU, or the Russian pseudo-empire (such that Putin told Ukraine it performed a CRIMINAL act in helping Georgia during the Russian invasion and devastation of that small country); through the Chinese expansionism, of which Tibet is the suffering victim, not through seduction but by force; or through the United Religion, the One World camp in the One Religion endeavours (cf. News 121, 122).
The heart and culture of man may expand into the realm of the Papal-Islamic discussions, or the inclusivism*3 of having a Buddha on the Roman altar as once reportedly occurred*3 , or as in the World Council of Churches or the movement associated with Bishop Swing, or typified in the Temple of Understanding, or into the New Age thrust into spiritual unities and consciousnesses of an ephemeral and indeterminable kind. Man may seek to force or to entice, to attract or to retract and exact, to spoil or to overhaul; but restless and without a Rock*4, or even worshipping as if 'rock' what is in fact forbidden, man in his vestments posing as God Almighty on earth, or in his philanderings of philosophy dressed in gown and cap, he acts as if to evacuate once and for all, heaven if it were near, and to make for himself a hell in anticipation.
In this he succeeds with wondrous ability and agility, his pace quickening as the mountains of ruin, smoke ready for eruption as such misuse of force, devious deceits and vacuous verbalisings.
In contrast to such emptiness (and it was not nothing that Carl Jung, the notorious psychiatrist of great fame in his day, called emptiness the central neurosis of our time), there is the communion with Christ. This wonderful alternative to man-worship, nature-worship, self-worship: it is the RESULT of the Gospel of grace, the divine provision for the heart and the spirit of man. By the people of the Lord, it is found as the working reality, as they like aircraft, continually filled from a tanker-airplane as they fly, are serviced from within. By whom ? WHO is this mechanic of yours, this prince of peace whom you know, through whom you live ? the question arises.
It is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the divine excursion of the eternal into flesh to remove the mess and restore for the heart of man, the majesty of Him whom man worships, and so the filial beauty of what man should be, but is not, could be, but will not be, until and unless he comes home to his haven in his Creator-Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He Himself did not come and do all that He did (Philippians 2), in order to have it ignored, or God deplored as if He had not done it. That ? It is like a nation given 500 billion in funds, which does not take them and complains of its poverty and the mingy, stinginess of those who do not help, of the poorness of their works and system, or the coldness of their heart, distancing, distancing, distancing.... until he forgets that the funds came or the giver ever acted, and lives in a nebulous dream of false action and deprived furies.
But this Gospel is not for sale, not for ignoring. It flames and has done so since the first.
Man needs this; he is made for it; and without it, restless he has no rest; mindless he reasons with cavil and equivocation*5; heartless he extravagandises as in torture and anguish and death for millions, and then wonders why he did it and seeks to make it better, as by the tender 'kiss' of documents. NEVER AGAIN! he cries, before resuming in two or three decades or even sooner.
He regrets the carnage: so. But shortly he is at it again. His ideals crumble, his pseudo-morals retreat, his exasperation mounts, his pride rises like a poisonous vapour and his intemperance, worshipping this or that idol, makes those who might have been wise with God, foolish in their desperations. It is precisely as traced, indeed, in Romans 1:17ff., where the nature of the pathology of man without the abiding presence of God, of Christ, is portrayed in a realism which bites because it is fulfilled continually, cumulatively and increasingly obviously, fatally. There is the syndrome examined, its path traced and its end attested, right to the end of the Chapter, which like man, comes to the point of completion.
UNLESS, said Christ, those days of many christs and false prophets and war and anxieties and rebukes were shortened, NO FLESH COULD BE SPARED (Matthew 24:21-22).
The just answer is not more nervous tension, defiling energy, desperate measures, but return to the Lord of creation and salvation, without whom NOTHING may be wrought that stays and abides, by man; but instead, like a falling star, a busy meteor, he moves with temporary light only to abide in darkness, after a little. Methods of avoiding the issue, as in the phrase post-Christian, merely dupe the simple and mislead, if were possible, the elect. Many are they who, about to enter the kingdom of heaven, are aided by the philosophic scribes of our time, the false christs and prophets, into a delusive alternative: neglecting the door and hammering on the wall (cf. Luke 11:52).
It hurts the fist. It incites violence. It distresses the mind. It wastes the time. It bespeaks the approach to the end of the race for this Age, as it comes to judgment and the direct rule of Christ on this earth, vindicating and verifying, till judgment itself comes decisively, and is final. The world's dipping situation and desperate plight precedes not only the ACTUAL, as predicted (Acts 1:7ff., Matthew 24, I Thessalonians 4, I Corinthians 15), but the NECESSARY return of Jesus Christ, if man is to survive at all. It is this which He stated would be the case (Mark 14:62). Shortly, this will occur (Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
May it be soon! May repentance, realisation and restoration to the Creator-Redeemer, Jesus Christ, come for many be SOONER! It is not God's will that any should perish, and as to Him, HE takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, those who ignore His word, will, ways and majesty, His diagnosis and His cure, His ransom and His free salvation, His peace and His own power (Ezekiel 33:11, Lamentations 3:33, I Timothy 2, Colossians 1:19ff.). Thus one looks for many to come while time is there; as one might seek an operation for a friend with fatal cancer, before it irreparably spreads.
That, it is the hope of goodwill, towards which end one labours.
In seeking Him, then, you are not operating against a headwind, since He seeks man and came for the purpose (John 3:17), not in order to judge; rather you have a tail-wind. Yet the devil, the flesh and the cultural clamminess of man moves to retard, to dull the mind, to distress the emotions and to delude the spirit. If however in His grace, you should seek Him with ALL your heart (Jeremiah 29:13), then you will find. If as is the case, He deplores double-mindedness, qualified Christianity and urbane substitutions for spiritual zeal, yet He hears the cry of faith from the weak, and is near the bruised reed or the smoking flax (Isaiah 43, Psalm 145, James 1:6).
Let us then continue to look at the GOD OPTION. To be sure, it is He who must first open your eyes, but you can ask; and certainly it is by grace alone, but HE is on record that He would LIKE all to be saved (Colossians 1:19ff.). Never forget it. Nor ignore the fact that He does not harass and harness by force. The preference for darkness is the stated ground of divine condemnation in the presence of the Gospel. God does not bend the result, but He bent Himself to make it free and functional, sufficient and spiritual, adequate and beautiful.
There is and can be ONLY ONE ground for a person's exclusion when GOD has made Himself so clear. His oversight is not any excuse: the condemnation is preference for the dark when the light shines, in the very face of the divine desire to give. The objective is not judgment, but salvation. His total competence in knowing all, says nothing of His heart's desire in seeking all. Both are true. In the end, HIS is the action, man's is the responsibility. Indeed God's power makes sure that there is never any mistake. Love is chaste but power is utter. There are in the end no divine regrets for lost that might have been found; only human ones.
It is therefore necessary to repent and to trust Him; and the result in continual.
COMMUNION WITH CHRIST
Continuance in Outage is no Less So
Genesis 6:5, Psalm 73:23, Nahum 3:19, Acts 6:4, Hebrews 13:15
FIRST, THE NEGATIVE THINGS Genesis 6:5 cf. Nahum 3:19
In Genesis 6:5, you see what, apart from the contemporary situation as predicted (cf. I Timothy 4, II Timothy 3-4, II Peter 2-3, Matthew 24:24), has been one of the most heinous seasons in this world's history.
Imagine if a teacher put in a report for your child, saying this:
"the wickedness of Tom is great in the school, and every intention of all his thinking produces nothing but evil all the day"
(or "is only evil continually").
You would perhaps challenge the teacher: What do YOU know of his intentions, and the pedagogue might reply that it was all too obvious to all. When however it is GOD who says so, it is time to repent. They did not do so and their 'world' was removed, so that a fresh start could be made. A Constant dripping can mar even stone, and a fiery heart can burn itself out yet more quickly. When evil DOMINATES even when a person RUMINATES, and products come to match, worlds fall, as this one did, and our one will!
That world the flood removed, enabling a fresh beginning. Yet it was not washed by the water adequately, especially in the heart. The next purgation is by fire! Even when Christ was on earth, He declared as He approached the sacrifice which enemies (conveniently) were going to make of Him, "If they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry!"
As to that, this world of World War I and its millions chillingly killed, World War II and its masses incinerated, the Cold War and its prodigies of evil thought, the Islamic crusade and its calumnies on its enemies and brutalities on many foes, the many subversions, inversions of morals and all humaneness, the ruined lives and constant threats and explosions, the termination or ruination of the lives of many children the more to enjoy life in some imaginary paradise and the like: it will soon find out (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
Instead however of making of one's life a fateful experiment in evil, it is simpler and better to REPENT and believe the Gospel, appealing for acceptance through the love of God and the passion of Christ, to be given authority to become a child of God, and by faith receive the same with gratitude for the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5-8, Luke 13:1-3, John 1:12).
THE NEGATIVE and POSITIVE THINGS IN COMPANIONSHIP Isaiah 58
The Lord had been very vexed. His creation, man which had proliferated into mankind, had a dire situation which as we saw, led to the Flood, an event of destructive force far greater than the man-made one of Hiroshima. Much later, in the theocratic kingdom of Israel, He had had blessed times under David and much of Solomon's reign, with His people, but shame, mere form, lips that did not mirror the heart, slackness and slovenly behaviour, ritual instead of reality had made of the land a sickening and slick combination, largely that of slide and grasp, nominality and desire.
Into this pathological spiritual morass (as in Isaiah 6! and 1), God spoke with a promise. You fast! He declared, and wonder why you have no greater reward. But WHY do you fast ? It is for debate and strife. Suppose instead of these affairs, you were to consider need. Do you see those recklessly oppressed, ludicrously suppressed, do you even consider your own relations ? What if now your 'fast' were to take a different form of self-denial and instead you were to feed the hungry, bring relatives to your own house, even those neglected, deliver those wrongly put into outrageous circumstances of life ?
THEN "your light" would break forth as the morning, "your healing" would spring speedily to life, your righteousness would shine and the Lord Himself would be in His glory, your rearguard. THEN you would call and He answer, "you will cry and He will say, 'Here I am!' "
Now this is no new religion. It is an OFFSHOOT or if you prefer a FLOWER of what has already been planted in repentance, covered by sacrifice, sought and found in faith, engaged in devotion and found in reality. It is work for those spiritually established in the foundational covenant since Moses and Joshua (cf. Joshua 24:16-28); but instead of questionable antics, there is now an unquestionable result, a spiritual serviceability and a testimony in truth. It does not substitute for faith, for it is its very expression. It is not done for oneself or one's reward, for that is to be double-minded, serving self-and-Lord. It is done because GOD LOVES IT, and loving man, wants His love shown in those dedicated to Himself.
One remembers the amazing account of George Mueller's orphanage ministries, when time and again the exact amount needed would come as a gift, when the Lord simply undertook and kept the organisation going, but ONLY when it was moved BY FAITH; and it came in response to the FACT that His presence was continually involved. Such things are not always so dramatic, but the spirit of watchful service is good, and the seeds sown in the wasteland of abandonment can flower, and even find rain from above.
THE POSITIVE THINGS
1) Psalm 73
Psalm 73 is one
of undulation. It moves from grief to gladness, from underlying troubles to
perceived grace, and rejoicing that God "is the
strength of my heart and my portion forever."
The Psalmist shows satisfaction, nay satiety in this, that he has ONLY GOD in heaven, but what more! and on earth, who besides the Lord, for who in preference or competition is there to compete! It is enough.
Now what is his delight ? It is this:
"Nevertheless I am continually with You: You hold me by my right
You guide me with Your counsel and afterwards receive me to glory."
The chastening, far outstripping what happens to the idle self-assured in many cases, is thus received wisely, and for their episodes of disaster and despair, self-praise and confusion, he has this in exchange: I AM CONTINUALLY WITH YOU. It is not man but God who says so.
Is there a period of challenge ? then He is continually there. Is He less manifest ? nevertheless, in consolation and continuity of grace and goodness, there He is, not distant, but like a Father, available even if one fails in something, showering kindness and mercy, providing discipline and direction. Yet even this is not like a spiritual mechanic, but so personal as to be apt; for man is not machinery but person, spirit with equipment of mind and body. Houses may come and go, as may good governments and sound colleges, but Christ continues right there, available to call, to seek, to find, to provide rest and peace past all accounting.
If once man was continually evil in all his thoughts, now in Christ there is continual input, through the Spirit, from the resource and recourse of man: that is, when man IS man, is completed by attachment to his own source, base, Father and King. Thus it is by faith and not by rebellion, as in breaking commandments IN PRINCIPLE, as now some 'churches' churlishly do. So says Paul, "put to death by the Spirit the deeds of the body", the last in this context referring to 'flesh' (v.9, cf. Galatians 5:18-20), which is another name for an independent spirit, conceived in culture, content with nature, serving its own nature and no stock-holder in God by gift or otherwise!
Yet for the Christian who is abiding, we read this, and this is the inheritance to be named, claimed and implemented through the divine power, compassion and comradeship: "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwell sin you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11). It is reliance, not contrivance. It is not in physical extravaganzas of oddities (as distinct from worshipping with reverence as in Psalm 89:7), allegedly wrought by the Lord, but in moral might and spiritual zest inherited from His presence that one is 'led by the Spirit'. Indeed, as one sees in Acts 8, 10, 16, this can reach to the point of directing one's feet in things unknown and leading one's understanding in things needed to serve the Lord
Small wonder Paul exhorts, "Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18-19), using means co-ordinate with such intention. If there is anything adverse in your ethics, morals, decisions, desires, then surrendering this to be justly crucified with Christ, the place for the flesh, one needs to be so enlightened and led that no other influence is competitive with that of the Lord. It is not a redisposition of mental, moral or intellectual forces, primarily, though such things follow, but rather the primary power of the Lord in His inward work and godly companionship, His power and His mercy, which both enables the victory over the avidities of the flesh, and the joy in His presence (Romans 8:1-3, Galatians 5, I Peter 1, I John 5:4).
Thus there is the negative, putting to death the flesh, being crucified with Christ (cf. Galatians 5:24, 2:20), and the positive, being filled with the Spirit and putting to death those things of the flesh which vie not to comply with Christ. It is to Him, alive from the dead, by His Spirit that one must continually resort (Psalm 71:3,6, 9, 14).
Here is the certainty that follows the regeneration, the reality that is implicit in the redemption and the restoration which means life in company with Christ, indeed, with Him who is "in you, the hope of glory" - Colossians 1:27.
Far is this from ignoring His words. On the contrary, as in John 14:21-23, obedience is a touchstone of love, as anyone with significant thought about human relationships of those who are in the image of God, may readily perceive. If you LOVE someone, something around about their wishes is NOT and decidedly not the same as what they actually ASK. Their inwardness and subjective thoughts are CHERISHED; and how much more is this so with God, whose we are, and who in Christ has died for us, being offered to all, and effectual for those who receive Him.
Again, far is it from any misconception about Paul's use of the term 'letter' as in II Corinthians 3, where he states the that 'letter' kills, but the spirit gives life. It is apparent in Romans 7, that 'letter' kills by virtue of its being an edict from God which disobeyed, brings curse and death. That is the nature of LAW between God and man. Thus when you serve "in newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter" (7:6), it is in conjunction with 'the law' in terms of which we DIE.
This law of God is not deprecated but appreciated: it is deadly to sinners! Paul continues concerning covetousness, how the very word aroused desire in his heart, and so
"when the commandment came, sin revived and I died, and the commandment which was to bring life, I found to bring death."
In Galatians 2:18-20, we find indeed that the law is the agency through which Paul 'dies' in flesh, so that he might live to God. "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God." He did not simply die to the law: THROUGH the law, he died to it. This good and righteous law which the apostle so describes in Romans 7, was the means of DUE DEATH, for as in Romans, the commandment ordained for life was used to bring death (Romans 7:10). How "for sin taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me." The law did not deceive him; it enlightened him; sin deceived and deserving death, got it, but Christ giving life, took it for all who so receive Him as He is.
THAT is the apostolically defined way in which 'the letter kills.' Romans 7 tells us, Galatians 2 adds even more detail. Indeed, Galatians goes further, in the just famed Galatians 2:20:
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live,
So great is this cleavage between the power to perform and the purity required IN THE FLESH, in the life which is neither rendered nor surrendered to Jesus Christ, if not in the drains of pleasure in sin, then in the weakness of succumbing to it or even being overtaken by it, and so intensely pure in concept and style, in height and in expectation is the law, so that if we had been robots it would have been fine, but we are not.... that Paul declares it once for all, in the next verse of Galatians 2.
"I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law,
then Christ died in vain."
The LAW, then, it is declared to be just and holy: but it requires for sinners the antidote, the antibiotic to the lively lawlessness of sin, and as to that ? ...
"what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh,
God did by sending His own Son ... on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh."
THAT is not what is wrong with the letter, the law, but what is right with the true and ever righteous God who BORE ‘the letter’ so that we should be content not without it, but without the death which guilt by it, provides! It is utterly useless, as Paul dramatically shows in Romans 10:3, to attempt to rectify the accounts by one's own righteousness: this is delusion, just as it is to imagine that the 'letter' is not the law, or that the law is not right or good or holy, as Paul affirms it to be (Romans 7:12).
The death to be avoided is not from wrong laws but from right ones; and the remedy is not to deny the validity of the law, but that of oneself, and acknowledging this, to repent and thus receive where the heart now has room, the mercy of God in the Cross of Christ.
The law is obsolete (Hebrews 8) then, but only in the respect there shown. It is in one respect only that it is removed: the sacrificial commands are replaced by the sacrifice of Christ, the ceremonial minutiae are similarly replaced by His righteousness, death and life, the shadows of things with the performance wrought in the purity and prevailing of Christ the sin-bearer, vindicated in resurrection, demonstrated in life. Thus, what was fulfilled in Him is no more applicable at all, EXCEPT in Him, who having taken it upon Himself has borne its pain and pangs, and so forged for faith the DIRECT deliverance .
No more does anyone have to use, or indeed without insult to Christ proceed to use, the sacrificial multiplicity designed to picture and portray, so that by priestly means, the sin might be forgiven. No longer is Temple-ordained continual sacrifice to be wrought in blood, and not at all must Mass be intruded without it, being both useless as sacrifice (Hebrews 9:22) and supernumerary. How is it supernumerary ? It is as repetition of the once only (Hebrews 9:23ff.) work done by the only competent party for this purpose, God Himself, as well as derogatory of Christ whose life no man takes from Him (John 10), for He lays it down of Himself. It is He whose own offering of Himself was necessary, who has been received into heaven (Hebrews 9:24) UNTIL the restitution of all things, which assuredly is NOT YET! (Acts 3:19ff.).
HE ONLY is the priest of offering (Hebrews 9:14), and it is Himself He offers. In fact, "Christ has ... entered ... into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" and as to repetitive sacrifices, "it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these." The better is defined as the work of deity in the flesh.
The ONLY ONE, ONCE made, by Christ before He entered into heaven
itself, it is the one "necessary". All else is at
best needless, and at worst the acme of presumption, pointless and detractive,
priests of supererogation daring to add to the work of the High Priest of
destiny (Hebrews 4:14ff., 7:11, 9:23ff.), whose work by blood and suffering was
what was NECESSARY, and MUST not and cannot be continued: it is the divine word
which determines the matter*6.
Christ in this has fulfilled the law. ONLY the utterly holy God COULD perform at the utterly adequate level, and only He, sinless, self-sacrificing, could cover the case for man, as many as received Him.
The law ? He did not declare it wrong, but QUITE the contrary (Matthew 5:17-20); for when He fulfilled any part of it, that IS the cover He indicated, the inescapable condition: it MUST be fulfilled, He declared, every jot. THIS HE did! Who else! (Romans 6:23). This having been done, He thus replaced the picture with the performance, the prelude with the theme, and died for sin.
Fulfilling its penalty therefore, and exhibiting in Himself certain sacrificial modes, so far from annulling the morality of the law, or its indications of the will and approach of God in principial terms, He exhibits just how important these things are: since Christ DIED to fulfil the law. OUT OF love, to be sure, but INTO death He plunged, as the law prescribed and for what it prescribed (Galatians 3), in vicarious passion to save sinners. Not only did this cover a multiplicity of sacrificial requirements under the law, but a multiplicity of sinners who would receive Him.
Therefore, far from demolishing morality, He declared it worthy of death to fulfil, even if ... it were His own (Galatians 3:10-13). Having suffered for the full rigour of perfect righteousness, fulfilled by Himself vicariously, and covering sinners of all kinds, for this is the gap absolute, His is direct cover for one and for all who receive Him, the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:26), God, Lord and Saviour upon repentance and faith. It is not some other Christ, made by man, hammed by actors or purveyed with charge by agents; it is THIS ONE, whose word as always is truth, by whose spirit the scriptures, the Bible was given (II Peter 1:20-21).
Now HE is priest, sacrifice and offeror, also the victim offered; but it is IN HIM that this is so. It is not annulled but fulfilled; and being fulfilled, it is by Him that pardon, peace and power comes through. HE is like a new husband, not NEWLY in righteousness and truth, since this was depicted in symbol as by sacrificial depiction and words of ineffaceable truth (I Peter 1:23-25), but in DIRECT dealing and TOTAL coverage IN HIMSELF. Needing no more cover from shadows of symbols to display what was to be wrought by Himself, through a preparatory faith, now man who comes to Him (John 6:47) has the consummated provision. It stands forever for those who receive as He is, by faith, since now HE HAS ALREADY DONE IT.
What then, in the immoveable immutability of God, He upholds what He dies to cover, realising in Himself what was missing; but as far as the principles and the truth of the law are concerned, He lives to sustain us in its righteousness, since it is HIS WORD, showing HIS WILL and HIS WAY (Romans 3:31- 5:1).
Indeed, He did not die to abolish His way, but to establish it (Romans 3:31), and that those who find Him should be covered from every slide and slip, and kept by His power with never a thing able to single out His people for condemnation (John 5:24). Indeed, though their disciplines may be real enough (Hebrews 12), He is always interceding for them (Hebrews 7:25), constant in companionship, the price for such privilege fully paid, the love behind fully operative, His sheep (John 10:9), never to be lost. It is HIS word which says so (John 10:27-28) of such! (cf. Ephesians 1:11).
We return to the Psalm 73 text with which we began this section.
"Nevertheless I am continually with You: You hold me
by my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel and afterwards receive me to glory."
It is this totality, finality, ultimacy of the sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 9:12, 10:10-14) which thus gives the assurance through the work of His Spirit, that “You guide me with Your counsel and afterwards receive make to glory.” When it depends on what HE has done and not at all on what you can do, then the ground is clear to faith, and all the fumblings of man, psychological, ecclesiastical or sacramental, are mere outage from the grace of God. But he who is his is kept by the power of God to his place, reserved in heaven (I Peter 1:5), by Him who went to prepare a place, and makes it ready (John 14) by the same grace with which He came to pay for it. The marvel of it is that so far from being presumption to believe what God says, it is presumption to doubt it!
Does this encourage lapses, or making up commandments of some other God, or slighting those of the God who SO loved ?
Scarcely, when His death is the requirement and payment for transgressions, His truth the requirement, then this very word and law, rather than dying like a sunset, which is sin removed, arises like a dawn, truth vindicated, pardon provided and a sure pathway in righteousness both enabled and given sanction in peace.
Does this make law-keeping the way of salvation ? Of course not (Galatians 3, 5), for why otherwise did He die, to cover what! (Colossians 2:14), and to provide what exculpation (Romans 5:17ff.), by gift. But it DOES make the keeping of His word, where unfulfilled, the testimony of love and the ardent desire of those both saved and to be kept by His power to salvation reserved in heaven! (John 14:21-23, I Peter 1:1-18). A transforming delight from His presence and wonder moves in the heart, as the testimony of truth abounds in the soul, and the desire for Him and His ways is encouraged in the heart by His Spirit (Romans 5:5, Ephesians 1:17ff.).
Indeed, here is the fulfilment by faithfulness of the very ground of faith known to Abraham (Romans 4:21-25 following 3:31), the ram in the thicket supplied for sacrifice - the Christ on the Cross (Genesis 22:11-16). To him righteousness was imputed as he trusted in what the Lord WOULD DO, which now He HAS DONE. Thus the initial lift into the life of God has become the deep transference of sin out to man for man, in the Lord Himself, and the visible ground for the pardoning mercies and empowering enablements which are now shafted in light, gracious in transformation and etched in His word and deeds, for ever.
How sublime are the words and ways, is the witness of the Lord, who over the millenia in His revelation in propositions, in actions, in vision, in covenant, in promise, in premiss revealed to His servants, each layer in consonance or development with the next, brings us as those who draw nearer. First is heard the distant sound of some vast and glorious waterfall, then one sees spits of its spray, then perceives the etching of light in the sky, as the rising, moisturised bands of colours surge skywards in tumultuous rainbows, then finds the first observable torrents of water, then coming to the place of the falls, stands appalled, amazed and delighted in vying admixture, at the sheer immensity of the power and the gift of grace that such magnificence should be.
It is when the 'falls' are the Cross and the rainbow is the mercy of the Lord, which it brings, payment once for all for sin (Hebrews 9) - though the feet of some will conscientiously AVOID coming near those falls to their own eternal loss (John 3:19) - that the sheer wonder of these things becomes apparent.
Praise the Lord for His wisdom, perseverance and the desires of His heart, the power of His word and the word of His power. Praise Him for His continuity of grace, through discontinuity of face, when He was outrageously smitten into abhorrence by the sheer violence of man (Isaiah 52:12ff.). Praise God for His resurrection which puts the worst that man and world, flesh and devil against Him, against the life He has given to mankind, and then erupts not as lava in destruction, but as waters of life in vitalising beauty, from the dead. If poetry can depict it, then fact has expressed it, and in His resurrection of that very same smitten body is the life which this world needs, avoids, ignores or deters, the just ground of its condemnation (cf. SMR Ch. 6, The Magnificence of the Messiah).
2) ACTS 6:4
Another aspect of Christian life is continuity in GIVING ONESELF to prayer and the exercise of one's gifts. In the case of the apostles, these were those of an apostle, including proclamation with authority of the word of God, ardent care for the churches, resolution of difficulties by governmental gifts and healing; but especially prayerful communion with Christ, who by the Spirit CONTINUED to act as He had done when on earth (Luke 1:1), via many channels. The redemption is finished but the love continual.
Thus Paul speaks in Ephesians 6 of all that they be
"praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints",
adding his request for prayer for an effectual ministry for him, which a wise church does for its Minister and elders.
3) HEBREWS 13:15
Now we find the Lord through this writer of the scripture, exhorting people who after all, have no CONTINUING CITY (Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70 and as to Rome, it was then as now, a pagan city, involved with idolatries cf. SMR pp. 911ff., 1032-1088H). No, it is not in a continuing city that Christians find rest, but something else continuing, is to be CONTINUAL. That, it is a substitute in one sense, for the continual sacrifice of animals which had occurred in the Temple in Jerusalem for so many centuries.
Now it was, with similar fidelity and conspicuous endurance and zeal, to be this.
"Let us," He says, "continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."
Instead of the fruit of the soil, there would now be the FRUIT OF OUR LIPS. Would you want a poisonous, an 'insincere' or rotten, an unwholesome or unnourished fruit, one which gave no refreshing ? Not from the soil: nor does God want it from our lips which like a good plant, resting in the rich ground of the purified heart, are to produce fruit that endures!
Fruit is in spirit (Galatians 5:22-26). It is in works. It is in words; and here the words are stressed. These in their own way are works, for they are lines of access to God, whose promises do not vary from the days when they were written; and it is they, more than the pet dogs which need exercise daily! Therefore begin at the beginning, continue to the end, remember the 'end' of it all (I Timothy 1:5), and in the midst, pray. Provide sacrifice from the lips, in praise to the Lord.
Be diligent in mercies, effectual in the use of your practical gifts, and make short work of any failure in repentance that brings life to the parched soil of error, and receive the rain of blessing (Acts 3:19-20) from that Lord who is CONTINUALLY making intercession for His chosen ones, those who have received Him AS HE IS, by faith (Hebrews 7:25).
Moreover this one stresses: PRAY FOR HIS RETURN (I Corinthians 16:22, II Thessalonians 2:4ff.), who is the final and ultimate, perfected and profound, divine and eternal Bishop of our souls!
Ch. 1 above, as marked,
and the letter to Members of the Legislative Council, South Australia, March 2001.
See for example:
Deity and Design ... SMR, TMR,
The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy.
See for the Buddha episode, Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Ch. 5.
For inclusivistic religious movement, see News 121, 122.
From News 101, we have some background for this Romanist phenomenon. For more on that, see SMR pp. 903ff. 911ff., 946ff., 1032-1088H.
As to the first point noted above (1), Rome is notorious for combination (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri Ch. Ch. 17, p. 233) with other religions, even the case of having a Buddha on an altar in a joint service with another religion, having come to light (cf. II Cor. 6:14ff.). She embraces so many things with so many words of allure, that she is indeed in the famed and fabulous inclusivist tradition of Babylon (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch.2). She initially mixed with secular Rome with its high priestly concept, near the beginning of her fall which this world calls her ‘rise’. Since then, she has mixed with blood, violence, regality, aspiration for dominion over all churches and nations (cf. SMR p. 903), even playing a medieval comedy, known as the investiture contest, historically, in which pope and emperor vied for pre-eminence, like tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee (cf. SMR loc.cit.).
It is NOT the adoption of the absurdities of pagan cultures for which Rome is apologising, as well she might, but for INADEQUATE respect for these cultures. Alas it is her enthrallment with these things, in the politics of power, in the philosophies of paganism (high priesthood of Rome, philosophy of Greece and goddess style of status for Mary), which is one of her syncretistic syntheses, her magic combinations.
VAIN is philosophy says Paul (cf. I Cor. 1, Colossians 2:8), and dangerous to the unwary; but the cultures of the flesh and of the prince of this world (cf. John 14:30) are here made things to respect. PAUL indicates that there is little to respect in the traditions of man, as does Christ (cf. Mark 7:7, Romans 1), for their eyes are blinded (John 12:40), and their hearts alienated from the Lord (Ephesians 4:17ff.). It is the PEOPLE whom we respect, not their errors, any more than a doctor fails to respect (ideally) his patients, but certainly has small regard for their viruses!
THAT is Biblical religion: from God, for God and defined by God, for after all... if it is anything, it is HIS, and it is HE who states the tones of pardon, the cost and the way. As to the religious element in culture, it is - if not of Christ, then alien, vain. It may have elements of the residues of the image of God in us all, preserved, but always without the clear perspective truth, which comes ONLY through the Truth, which is Jesus Christ, without whom, no man so much as COMES TO the Father (John 14:6). Without Him, as He says, a man is not even BORN in the spiritual sense. Far from going to school, he is not even available, if you will, for school enrolment, since a foetus is scarcely acceptable; and as to the foetus, where is THAT!
It is one thing to be tolerant and loving to the unconverted; it is quite another to respect the diseases which like cholesterol, threaten their hearts.
In this case, the disease includes:
- DESIRE to rule this world by a sinner, when the Saviour alone has this privilege, ex-sin - I Peter 2:22-24, Psalm 2, John 18:36;
- DESIRE to use what means suggest themselves to do so, including whatever it has taken, or may seem indicated in the future;
- DESIRE to create doctrine, on false premises about who is BOSS! contrary to express words of Christ (Matthew 23:8-10);
- DESIRE to make the end justify the means, contrary to the fact that the righteous Lord loves righteousness, and no iniquity is found in Him (Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 11:7, 45:7, 48:10) - nor is there anything unrighteous, either instrumental or purposive, therefore;
- DESIRE to rule the church when this manifestly collides with the fact that there is ONE LORD, and many brethren, in a case where He expressly contrasts Himself with their brotherhood, in TERMS of being Master (Ephesians 4:4, Matthew 23:8-10);
- DESIRE to worship some essence invisible, attributed to the body of Christ, as if physically present in a concocted drama called a mass, never authorised in the Bible; when His body is in fact received in to heaven until the regeneration of all things (Acts 3:19-21), and is one in number, owing to the fact that this is the case for man, which format He took (Hebrews 2); and moreover, He expressly warns against the invasive deception of being told that He is in some chamber, before His manifest and brilliant return that confronts the earth, in Matthew 24:24-28, and He does this expressly in terms of false christs, masters who are not authentic, whereas He only is so;
- DESIRE to have other mediators, such as Mary, when there is, between mankind and God a collection of mediators to the number of one - a mediator in this Biblical case, being one who exercises a mediatorial function between man and God (I Timothy 2);
- DESIRE to postpone assurance of heaven till the church sees fit to grant it, whereas the Bible makes it clear to faith which needs and accepts neither the dictatorship of man nor the minimisation of flesh, but is called the vehicle of certainty (Hebrews 11:1), and even Peter, to use his words, is not one having dominion over the souls of the saints, but 'also an elder' (I Peter 5:1-3; Colossians 3:1-3, Ephesians 1:11, John 5:24, I John 5:13, Romans 5:1-11, John 6:47, Proverbs 30:6, Romans 5:1).
- The APOLOGY if it is to be relevant to reality, schooled in the Bible, must be for these enormities, for the oppression of Christians (from the army-assaulted Waldensians to myriads of others, via the Holy Roman Empire arrangements with Rome); and of Jews, by heretics, in the service of error… and of course, of Rome.
- It would involve apology for the treachery of butchers, the thefts of robbers installed in the church, arrogating the funds of the deprived, as they burnt their bodies. It would acknowledge that many popes were because of these things, as much war criminals as Cardinal Stepinac, living on the temporal ruin of those who lived by Christ. This of course Rome cannot do until she admits the folly of her power concentration where she pleases to put it, in man, in papacy, in philosophies of power and of pretence.
- The remedy as for any other spiritual disease is only ONE. It is a PERSON. He ? the 'desire of the nations' (Haggai 2:7, Psalm 2, Psalm 73). The DESIRE OF THE NATIONS, however is not the papacy and its desires, but Christ, Himself, eternal, sinless and as different from popes as infinity from the finite, He being the 'I AM' over all history (John 8:58, Exodus 3:14, Haggai 2:7, Isaiah 11:1-10, Hebrews 7:25-26). It is He who is a descendant through his mother's side of David, as Isaiah here shows!
- It is not possible for anyone drinking of the water He gives (John 4:14, the Spirit - John 7:37) to thirst again, let alone in some hell arising from the non-confirmation of the religious organisation of Rome! The terms of His Gospel are spelled out by Paul in Galatians, in which he assures us (Ch.1) that what he had already preached was it: and that then number of new ones or transmutations to it that were permitted to 'arise' was zero. The number of other 'names' to be used relative to salvation is likewise, zero (Acts 4:11-12).
See SMR pp. 98-99, 1032ff, Matthew 23:8-10.
From Christ Incomparable, Lord Indomitable Ch. 8, we have this:
There is only one sinless, sovereign and eternal God, and He is no pope! It is as if it were pope and not the deity who came to earth once and for all to become the offeror, the sacrifice and the substitute in Himself for those to be redeemed, and who returned to heaven to await the time of regeneration of all things (Acts 3:19-21). Yet this is not so, for such is only one and He, He is infinite! Just as only one Christ is there, so only one sacrifice and only one ritual, that of the Cross, actually counts, only one power, that in the resurrection. The prerogatives of God are not available to man (I John 1:1-4); but His life is, for repentant sinners, not rulers of man (Luke 13)!
Than that time of regeneration of all things when Christ comes back, NOTHING could well be further than the present; yet they maunder on and move ‘Him’ about, another Jesus (II Cor. 11). We have our many exhibits of the sort of playing that Christ deplored, in our time, as He had in His day on earth! Indeed, they abound, they leap, the sects rise like factory smoke into the polluted atmosphere, and the sun of righteousness is for many obscured. It was so; and it is so, but now it is reaching its unhappy climax as many neither enter the kingdom of heaven themselves, nor suffer those who might enter to do so, as in Christ’s day (Luke 11:52)! And how they chided and sought to harm Him, when He told them so! (Luke 11:54).
"For who is God, except the LORD ? and who is a rock, except our God!" David exclaims. There is ONE GOD and ONE ROCK of salvation and rest. Indeed, as Paul declares in citing the Lord: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." It is in CHRIST the sinless, the eternal, the Lord that one is to believe (John 6:47) and in Him ONLY (Acts 4:11-12). It is time for trivialisation of this fact to cease, where His name is to be known. THERE IS NO OTHER NAME, said Peter. Who ? Jesus of Nazareth raised up from the dead. That is what is written. If God speaks, listen; if man speaks, refer to the Lord; if they differ, trust God: after all, that is central to what is ALL about!
Said Christ of Himself (Matthew 21:44): "And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder." He spoke of the stone which was rejected but which became the headstone of the corner, His very self; and He spoke of the one to be rejected, not acclaimed, and seeking to destroy resistance for centuries, in his estate and glory. He spoke of the one to be killed by the Pharisees and others of that ilk. There is ONLY ONE such. To work IN His name WITH others is one thing; to use it of oneself is infinitely wrong.
See SMR Chs. 3, 5, 10, for example.
See also SMR pp.1086ff..