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THE ABSOLUTE ACTIONS IN GRACE
OF THE ABSOLUTE GOD
When someone says to you, Do you really believe that ? and you reply, Oh absolutely! the meaning would normally be this. While there was a question about your simple certainty on the point, you resolved it emphatically, showing that in fact, there was no doubt or question whatever about it. It was not relative to circumstances or to a given situation, one or another, but absolute, beyond variation.
Sometimes of course it is used in a slovenly and superficial manner, almost as if to prevent further discussion; but the term has a basis, and that is it.
It is God who is absolute. Nothing else is or can be. Nothing could not form anything, but much is formed, so nothing is not its source; law is not made by chance, so what makes law is part of the source. Understanding is not a particle or a material servant of some system, but its overseer and comprehending mind, so what has understanding is part of the source. What has power to make all, and is over all, since no mere qualities are much use in making things without power to do so - even if some system were imagined to have acted, this too would similarly need its producer, all over again - is God. Logic short-circuits excuses, and gets to the point. So absolute is He that competitive comparisons with Him are ludicrous; although being in His image gives ground for access, though on His own terms, confirmed uniquely in the Bible.
Today, let us turn to the Psalms 20-24 to see some of these absolute commissioned for man.
PROGRESSION IN THE PSALMS
Before we commence this study, let us note that as in Ch. 2 above, there is a bud-bloom relationship between many of the doctrines in the Old Testament, and those in the New. Some, first, are shown as emphatically to be announced and proclaimed when the Messiah comes (as in Isaiah 40); some, secondly, proclaim it when He has come (as in I Peter 2, for example, following Psalm 22's terminal prediction about a generation to come, occupied in telling what He has done, very closely). Some are directly stated to be for the generation to come (as in Psalm 22, 102). These are Messianic predictions, salvation proclamations concerning the once only and for all, the coming even of the second Person of the Trinity as Saviour-in-man-in-Person (John 8:58, Isaiah 48:15ff.).
Some, in a different form, show the way for the theocracy, directly ruled by God, in Israel of old; then, in extending parallel, for the New Testament, as His people grow to the shape of the international Church and the ways it is to proceed, in a scope of many nations, with precisely the same Lord (as shown in Romans 16:25, Romans 13, Ephesians 2 and 4), as He who spoke through Moses (The Whole Counsel of God).
Again. Psalm 22 showed would be the case, after the Messiah who was to come, did come and was duly crucified for the sins of the people, for there would be a resurrection of the body (Psalm 16), which would be an answer to the prayer of the duly anguished, sin-bearing but sinless Messiah. This would lead to His announcement of the saving strength of God, manifested in Him, the Redeemer, and a whole generation of those who would be thus redeemed from death, and find in Him eternal life, would transmit the message, WHEN the job was done, when the Messiah had completed this, in the year Daniel had predicted some 6 centuries or so before (The Christian Prescription Ch. 2).
In this, it needs to be added, that in Psalm 22:30. It does not say, this will be accounted to the Lord as a generation, but for THE generation. In Isaiah 53, there is the piteous exposure of the fact, that mightiest of all Kings of Israel, Jesus had no generation, to give a genealogical listing of His descendants; but now we see, even before that, in the day of King David, the notation of what would take its place. THIS would be THE generation, accounted to Him as the generation, to come and declare TO THE PEOPLE, what, in this crucifixion Psalm, He is predicted to do. That will be the publicity, when the prediction is duly accomplished. It would be therefore a spiritual generation instead of a physical one, and thus a timeless one, incorporating all Christians ever to be, before the end. How massive the magnificence of HIS generation, as a battalion, when others were so limited to a simple family line! In this, as in all, Christ has the pre-eminence (Colossians 1:18).
God is like that. He can foretell results before even the action which leads to them has occurred, and commandments for the time when it does. In this, in a way, He almost resembles a zealous school-teacher who outlines the course, and what is to follow before ever teaching it.
So, without any change in the doctrines of God, of sin, of regeneration (as foretold in Jeremiah 31:31 but also in principle noted earlier (Ch. 2 above, with what is to be seen below), of eternal life. Not omitted in this prior listing, whether as to come, or already implicit or even proclaimed, are free pardon (Isaiah 55), overarching grace to all eternity (Isaiah 54), for that one Gospel and those who have taken it whether in prior or culminating form.
So does the Old Testament symbolism amid principles, lead on to the New Testament, deeds to fulfil, amid unveiled principles, unchanged principles, and culminating expressions often long-standing in their prior enunciation.
All these things are THE KING'S COUNSEL, that so it should, so should Spring lead to Summer, just as the Flood led to the rainbow; but in this, it is glory to that which culminates its expression relative to the other, awaiting not this time, the Lord's physically accomplishing salvation, for spiritual integrity, but the people's resurrection (as foretold in Isaiah 2;6:19), to see these things in the kingdom for themselves. Thus preparation yields to culmination, prelude to the passion of Christ, shadow of symbol to substance of performance, and vista to plain view.
We even find mini-progressions likewise, within say, some of the Psalms. There is one for today, to be found in the series, Psalms 20, 21, 22 and 23. To this marvel we now attend.
ABSOLUTE GRACE OF GRANT TO THE HEART
In Psalm 20, as we hope further to attest shortly in reviewing it, there is provided an absolute assurance of divine nearness and readiness to "grant to you according to your heart's desire" and not only so, but to "fulfil all your purpose." In the divine salvation, those who know Him will rejoice. How unbarren He is, so outgoing when the shore is there, spread out and waiting for the breakers to come in upon it, drenching with their fresh and free grace.
These things naturally remind us on the one hand, of John 15:7, if His words abide in you and you in Him, you will ask what you will and have it granted; and Psalm 37:3-5:
"Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of you heart.
"Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass."
Indeed, as so beautifully composed in Mendelssohn's Elijah, in Psalm 37:7 we have this:
"Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him" blended with these promises, and the whole is a symphonic musical marvel, just as the promises are a spiritual wonder, reminding also indeed, of Elijah's fleeing to Mt Carmel, and the still, small voice, as of Matthew 11:28-30, where the incarnate God declares in His own now direct way, "and I will give you rest."
THE ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL LIFE
Nor is this all; indeed very far from it: for in Psalm 21, we find a new spiritual vignette from David's life with the Lord, for now he is filled with great joy, because God "has given him his heart's desire." What then was this desire ? It is then shown. God, meeting him "with the blessings of goodness," responded to his request. David says of himself, "He asked life from You, and You gave it to him -length of days for ever and ever."
Time duration for ever is great; but what is the quality, character and what the companionship in this period ? The answer: "His glory is great in Your salvation," and not only was he king at that time, but "You have made him most blessed for ever." David was always astonished at such grace, so absolute in character, with such unyielding love, categorical commission and grant as you see in II Samuel 7:18-27. Later, in II Samuel 23:2-7, David reviews the fact that "the Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue." Indeed, "the Rock of Israel spoke to me," and then David outlines the glorious way in which men should be ruled by real monarchy, who should be "ruling in the fear of God."
Then it is like "the light of morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds..." Then he admits, alas the entry of sin into the situation, not to annul but to make it painful, and adds, "Although my house is not so with God, yet has He made with me an everlasting covenant."
Staggering as it is, soiled as it became, yet David
ruled marvellously well, despite his one bad lapse, and the other occasion of
wilfulness, and he RECOGNISED his sins (cf. Psalm 51)! God never leaves or
forsakes those who are His own family of faith through grace. It is a simple fact that
giving and reception can have much in common: both are eager, effective and
transmission is staggeringly great, sublime in intent, when the heart is ready,
the spirit both humble and penitent, and the desire for God beyond any other.
THE ABSOLUTE BASIS FOR THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE
The question arises: How can God be so gracious to sinners, and WHY! Psalm 22 (with a touch of Psalm 40 at verses 1-5) supplies the answer.
Sin is like a gaping hole in the bow of a battle-ship. The whole thing is anything but sublime, and it is a parody of power, a devastation of design, and dysfunctional for its major purpose. God transferred this CONDITION to the body of His Son, who became a human being to experience it in the form of one of our race, even born from heaven into it, as in Hebrews 1-2 and 7, and stands ready to evacuate the disaster, as arranged in terms of His long exhibited and foretold death in human format, Psalm 22 a chief exhibit of this forecast.
They ruined His outward form, as if a torpedo is seen striking the battle-ship, as in Psalm 22:16-17; they taunted Him as sin taunts those baited by it (22:8); and it felt as if His Father had forsaken Him even in His humbling role as Messiah, as predicted in Psalm 22:1, even foretelling the very words He used (Matthew 27:46). He HAD to find this to be so, since as sin DOES this, separating from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), and since He was bearing it as in Isaiah 53:1-6, He Himself was stricken by all of these results, though having neither sin nor guilt of His own (I Peter 1L19m Isaiah 53:9).
Result: He would tell many, and a "posterity will serve Him, it will be accounted to the Lord for a generation," and these will successively declare over time what He has done (I Peter 2:9-10, Psalm 22:29-31 - as detailed in THE KING'S COUNSEL Chapter 1, Section 5).
But why bother with man ? It is something called love. A mother senses it, in godly families the brood finds it, and even lionesses can show it to their cubs, each to the degree in view. Why make man at all ? God had all and needed nothing, but love gives, grace acts.
God in majesty awesome, in grace is in glorious and mystic solitude: like the highest peak, turned into a summit of all. He loves, so loves that He so yielded the incarnated Word of God to do much more than speak into life, the universe (you see much of the speech in places like physical law and DNA). Far beyond this magnificent creation, He who made man and his word power, was spoken from on high (Isaiah 48:15ff.), and having come (John 1:1-4), spoke words to the speaker, gave grace to the sinner (as in Romans 5:1-11) and performed deeds never before done, and finished His divine work (Hebrews 9:12ff.).
In so doing, He provided the absolute basis for eternal life, and the Holy Spirit applies it according to the Gospel concerning it (Ephesians 1:1-11). So are those found, also sealed (1:13-14).
PROGRESSION IN LIFE
Speaking of Romans 5:1-11, we find this shows more than the grace of love and giving, amid the enormity of the condition of what is "found" from among the stricken ships of the Humanity Navy. Here we see the Christian work ploughing on through the seas of time, now that in Christ, some of the ships are repaired. We find there is "access to this grace," which sustains (as to accompanying vessels for oil, symbol of the Spirit), and even when the weather is rough (tribulations), the experience with God in the midst produces perseverance leading to strength of character, and in the overall sustaining in such sequence, to hope, a living and faith-driven assurance manifested in the heart concerning God (as David had, shown in Psalm 21).
In turn, this will be verified in victory pursuant on the Lord's own resurrection (Isaiah 25:8, I Cor. 15:54), the love of God shed meanwhile in the heart to sustain it and give that spiritual communication of wisdom and help, as in Romans 8:16 indeed, where to the Christian, "the Spirit testifies with our spirits that we are the children of God."
There is no room naturally, for fake repairs, with fake expression of need and falsetto repentance, mere sorrow for pain, guilt or inconvenience: commissioned work on contract, or covenant, is not the same when there it is not a case of REPENT INTO LIFE, but a mere misery session. When however the deed is done, the result cannot fail (as in Ephesians 1:11, I John 3:1-3, 5:11-12, John 5:24, II Timothy 1:8-12).
In Psalm 23 we find a pastoral imagery for this wonder, that of eternal life. It is wrought in terms of a Shepherd, not man, but the LORD! From Him comes life and work and mission and direction, and the quietness for the soul, the stillness for the heart which understands its sublime Mentor, relishes the rod and staff of this Shepherd, and finds in the looming of death itself, merely a shadow which cannot annul eternal life (as in 21). Passing through death's very shadow, one moves to the substance of that eternal life in its consummation, which Christ both has and gives (John 5:19-23, I John 5:12-13). There is now a continual connection of goodness and mercy, and like a faithful dog, these follow, picking up, overcoming, attending ... while the Shepherd goes ahead, leading, giving, guiding. The beauty of the Lord is near, and the wickedness of sin may arise in squalls, but it is put out by the Occupier (James 4:7, I John 4:4, 10:9,27-28, Romans 8).