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WHAT IF GOD WISHED TO ABDICATE ?
A Query met and Answered ...
For the fullest answer to this question, one needs to read The Shadow of a Mighty Rock (SMR) Ch.1, and if need be, Ch.3, together with That Magnificent Rock Chs. 5,7 and Barbs, Arrows and Balms 7, for example. The first should suffice, but the others carry one about in the realm. The last indicates with Ch.3 of SMR that to assert anything as true of ultimate reality, and not a mere response or reaction that satisfies the self, there must be 1) God and 2) the knowledge of Him which is operative, and not merely theoretical, so that the truth as such, is available FROM HIM. If this is not found, then the question which is in this chapter being relayed, pre-supposes that the topic or any such query about truth is valid, which however it would not be in such a case.
Only speechless confusion is possible, logically though not psychologically, for those who reject absolute truth and yet still want to know the fact about actual reality. Self-inflicted though their wound be, it is still fatal to their desire in such a case as this. To speak intelligibly is to invoke logic, which insists as SMR Chs.1,3 show, on the objective God, AND His revelation, the Bible, as the sole authorised, written communication from God to mankind. How this is so, is looked at from a slightly different perspective in That Magnificent Rock Ch.5. Without self-declaration of absolute truth, even relativity is not absolutely statable, with validity! To claim it as absolutely true, is to denounce it as operative, and self-contradiction.
But let us
revert to the simple beginning in the divine nature, which implicitly in this
question, is being approached. After all, in terms of the above, it is the ONLY
way to go for reason, and reason is one of the ingredients in giving a reason
for the faith, in which we are now engaged. The rationality of reason is
operative only where its validity is attested, and when God is found, the sole
possible ground for this is derived. To deny Him, is at the outset to
invalidate the relevance of reason, since its current task is then beyond the
nature of its capacities; to follow it without such denial is rational, and when
He is found, it is demonstrated to have been valid as well. It is the only way
which is not a cul de sac ab initio.
Procedurally, for validity and functionality, one must demonstrate what Paul calls in Romans 1:17ff. the MANIFEST reality of the divine power and eternal nature, as in SMR. Now however our question is in the APPLIED field: Granted that the God of the Bible exists, what is His nature ? This too is answered to the point as above. He does not change (Malachi 3:6, James , Hebrews 13:8, Psalm 90:1) ; indeed, "in whom (Him) is no shadow of variation or turning". He is immutable; and hence a desire for radical departure from His sovereign sway would constitute just that, and is hence ruled out. Indeed, He is called the "blessed and only Potentate" ( I Timothy ), and Paul apostrophises us thus:
"For who has known the
kind of the LORD ?
Or who has become His counsellor ?
Or who has first given to Him ?
And it shall be repaid to him ?"
Moreover, we find: "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:33).
As to Christ who does not change, "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8) and who with the Father has ONE throne (Revelation 22:3, cf. Isaiah 44:6, Rev. 2:8), we find that under the sovereign presence symbolised by that throne, the saints shall "reign forever" (Revelation 22:3-5). The designation 'servants' and that of 'throne' sufficiently show the immutable fact that "from everlasting to everlasting" He is God, and as to God, "He shall work, and who shall prevent it!" (Isaiah 43:13); and there is no God before Him, nor shall there be after Him (Isaiah 43:10-11). In fact, He does not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8) and "to HIM every knee shall bow" (Isaiah 45:23). "Of HIS kingdom there is no end" (Daniel ,27). His reign is for ever (Micah 4:7, Psalm 146:10, Exodus ).
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations" (Psalm 145:13).
Again it is stated that "from everlasting to everlasting You are God," and "His ways are everlasting" (Psalm 91, Habakkuk 3:6).
Looking from I Timothy 6:16 to Romans 11:33 to Isaiah, we find that God is immutable because
A REASON FOR THE FAITH MOVING IN DIRECT LINE
In point 4, we are beginning to move from the question, WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL FAITH on this topic ? to what is the testimony of giving a reason for the faith. The first point is entirely clear, and when one proceeds in Ch. 1 of SMR one comes to the principles which just as Paul declares in Romans 1, are indeed manifest. The realities beyond these can be discovered only by revelation; the requisitions however from the works are apparent, and enable a discernment as manifest, of what Paul calls the eternal power and divine nature of God.
Now let us pursue the reason for the faith with all due restraint, in that it is enough to show the eternal power and divine nature of God, for our present purpose, and that the God of the Bible would contradict what is His necessarily divine nature if He were to do ... what ?
This bring us to the actual question put to one of us: WHAT IF GOD WANTED TO RESIGN ?
The first answer is this:
1) show that the Bible contradicts this thought.
Then we can proceed to the next two steps.
2) show the divine nature, Biblically expressed, and its necessary wonders to be contrary to this. We can show not only a contradiction of the Bible, but in the process, that it reveals various principles which would be breached if this were so. Why ? Not least, it is because this involves change of administration, and since there is only one God, change of the disposition of things and of the ultimate veracities and priorities and values, either in that they are no longer HIS, or in this, that they are no longer in operation BECAUSE they are His, but an option without the constraints of reality. An option for what ? indeed, for what no longer has the intrinsic power over all reality.
The contradictions of any thought of resignation are so numerous that they could be classified in terms of the breaches involved. This has in outline been done above; but this could readily be extended if the desire for it, in terms of a reason for the faith, were expressed.
3) show that the divine nature as attested by reason, is contrary to this. This moves back one step.
We have touched on all this above; but it may be profitable to pursue the question in terms of the nearest segment to this topic in SMR Ch.1. It assumes a knowledge of what proceeded, but for any wishing to operate at this staging post, here is a presentation.
If any wish to go back
further, the commencement of Ch.1 of SMR is
the place to go.
EXCERPT FROM SMR
# God is Changeless
God does not change, because if He did, it would signify that He had not - from all time or beyond any time, understood something. This is impossible, as He has no conferred constitution to understand, and no other constitution can withstand Him and all is made by Him; so that He is always the same, because that is the only thing consistent with the nature we find is obvious. (It would be of interest to refer to Malachi 3:6, which reads: "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed"; at this level in our procedure, however, we refer to this without using it in our logical order.)
The divine being itself is not forwardable into any superior, more desired or essentially better situation or condition, all things being available from the first, and nothing limiting to the last, no growth in 'stature' being consistent with a non-created being whose existence is held in the power of none, neither of any nature nor of any other thing. To find out or have to experiment to ascertain, would imply the exercise of faculties or of facilities which had met limits within or outside their own being, thus being intra-systematic entities.
It follows with simplicity that God being always what He wants to be, and never hindered in being it, in anything, is it always; and nothing developing to summon His mind to new heights, all heights being His from the first, there is neither (from knowledge, from satisfaction, from desire or any other source) occasion for change, nor a way to it which does not contradict what He is. He is it and has it and stays it, possessing not a mere optimum (which implies limits) but the sheerest completeness at all times and, for that matter, before time. He needs nothing from His creation; it needs everything from Him. Now let us pursue further the related topic of limits.
Limits ? Suppose now that God were limited by a natural scene. Who made it ? If it is there without articulation in anything, then what are its characterisable features ? If it has none, it is not even definable. If it has some, does it work in accord with them or against them? If not in accord with them, how are they 'features' of it rather than nonsense words uttered in jest ? If it works in accord with them, it is articulated according to them, and is there for a cause. If the cause is personal, we may say 'reason'; but it is still a sufficiency of background as when an author, for example, creates a poem.
If then the 'natural' scene is made, the Maker is God; for He is the One without deriving grounds, being self-sufficient, the only logically viable option. Thus there is not a natural scene for God.
If it is thought He may have an internal constitution, such that it is limiting to His freedom (material - or other): then who made it, was sufficient, was the reason for it ? If nothing, we end as before. If something, then that is God, for the same reason as before with a 'natural' setting. He therefore can have no internal constitution confronting Him, no essence to which He is bound. What however if He were merely susceptible to something because of an internal potential drift ? Then what is the reason for that drift ? If nothing then this is ruled out as before. If something, then as before, that would be God. Therefore He is not subject to it, but sovereign over it, always was, and always would be.
God is not subject to anything, confronted by anything, forced to do or be anything.
He is, in sum, illimitably free. Neither time with its partial processes nor space with its constraints and confinements, nor matter which exhibits dependence on both is or can be to Him a restriction, therefore. Contrary in nature to His essence, they have existence conferred on them by creation, being caused to be for one reason only, this: that He wants them to be; and for as long as He wants them to be, they will be.
As limitations, they do not and cannot exist. They serve Him.
Neither within nor outside God can limitations rule, neither intrinsically nor extrinsically, except by decree at His will; and even then their 'rule' is their subjection to Himself! Neither can they intimate to nor teach Him, who makes them serial andlimited from His unlimited estate. Toys or contrivances, this trio of time, space and matter are derived at will, removed upon desire.
The creation of time in particular, of course, implies an episode originating the series, instituting the limit so that it might be applied wherever God saw fit; for an underived derivative is a contradiction in terms, and the partial cannot be co-extensive with the complete. What is arriving on the scene cannot already be totally present, consummate and unchanging. Beyond time, God is not subjectible to sequence or that special form of it called development. Or if He were to develop, what would be the base of potential which would realise itself in such consequences! That would be a dowered, a donated, a given nature or character, a simple contradiction in terms.
Take man. If God wanted to rule by violence, He need not have made him in the first place, or He could have made him without freedom, preserving His own principles in peace. He is what He wants to be and is limited by nothing, driven by no constitutional constraints, for no one constituted Him who, being self-existent and almighty, needs no 'completion' by man or anything else.
Conferring freedom out of the disposing of His own will, with freedom, God made man to be what he is, because that is how He wanted him to be, in his essential capacities. To man was given potency and potential. Responsibilities result; but these are not beyond God; He is beyond this phase of His creation, as beyond every other. He does not outdistance His wit, for that would imply a disparity between His desire and His ability, a constitutive limit, which contradicts a non-constituted being, someone not derived, contrived or set up within a situation and limits. It is necessary to remember that in consistency there is not and cannot be any system or constraint whatever above or over God, for if there were, the formulator, fashioner, creator, sustainer of that limit would be God's disposer, and that would be God! It is a contradiction in terms.
As for God, He always is what He wills to be, and is not subjectible to or limitable by sequence with its directions, institution, execution and directedness. He does not impact negatively upon Himself, in terms of some auto-militancy, schizophrenic squalor being the potion of incapacity; and knowing what He wills to be, He is not in two minds about what that is, since that would be mind limiting mind and a barrier or limit to freedom, a constitutive constraint impeding what He wants in an eternal duality of being. so that it would be polytheism.
Even if it were maintained that He wanted to be contrary to Himself, that would ultimately entail that His wants were those of two gods, which need their maker of system for joint immersion in it; or that His will was operative against itself, being moved eternally in two opposite directions, so that He was not free, but bound by constitutive incapacity for resolution, at war with a self which is merely an anthropomorphic reflection of our own created conditions, whilst contrary to His necessary freedom. He, however, and a 'self' constitute two eternal entities, so that the case is essentially equivalent to the former one. There can be no war within when there is nothing to resist, present, past or future, over and before time, timelessly in eternity. (Cf. pp. 88ff., 92ff. infra.)
He awaits nothing for His completeness and is dependent on His entirely derivative creation likewise for nothing: whether this be construed as material, psychological, social, existential or moral. So far from seeking to derive some need out of His creation, He puts into it. (Cf. Chapter 7, pp. 578-582 infra, "Topical Thought".) There is neither growth nor development in the nature of God, neither desperation nor aspiration for anything in His creation beyond the constituted powers of their dower and design. Unconstituted Himself, He constitutes His creation in harmony with His will.
Divine-Sovereignty-squeezing-from-creation hypotheses are therefore hallucinatory, just as are the 'constitutive limits', in self-contradiction.
Truth is constituted by His deeds, words and decision, His eternal will; and justice by His determinations and the configurations of that nature which He both made, and knows - His creation. Deeded no 'potential', God does not serve its fulfilment; complete, He does not change. (We add: UC - unchanging.)
Nothing is His inheritance, or able to be an obstacle to His constitution. You cannot inherit when there is nothing to provide the inheritance! He has not been constituted, lives in no system, has no confines, psychological, moral, ethical or personal. He is what He is by no control or disposing of His form. Nothing is there to dispose it, limit it, regulate it. Absolute freedom is His (AF), and this concept, necessary in our logical structure and in terms of the reasoning provided, must be realised. Because we do not have it, we may irrelevantly prefer it, or be moved to imagine it ours. This however must be unimagined if we are to be logical, not psychological.
Thus God has no system, confines, bounds or limits, internal (cf. *22) or external, in any sense of those terms, imposed upon Him, delimited before Him, impactive upon Him. As One, not two, He has nothing outside His control effectively to war with Him, create a compelling resistance to Him, within or without. Any thought of war involves two gods, at this level, for One is incapable of frustration by what has been worked either within Himself or outside Himself. Within, He works and that, as One always what He wants to be, as shown, illimitably pleased with what He does.(Cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 6, and A Spiritual Potpourri, Ch.5, p. 90)
What then can limit His working! No code, element or contradiction.
Thus self-war is impossible, no constituent - constituent? no function being given; and internal distortion of, or resistance to what He either does or is, being an example of self-war (or auto-militancy, if you are psychologically minded, will do). Since He created all things as He will, including their systems, limitations, opportunities and potencies: it would be at His own discretion if He were embarrassed; but then that would be indiscreet, a lack of either ability or foresight, a limit! There is, quite simply, nothing fixed against Him, whether to thwart, divide, defile or contort, so that intimations of conflict, mutability ... self-assault and degeneration pre-suppose what is not.
p. 33 :
(for p.32 Illustration)
Passenger Adrian: It really is so free up here. Not like the train - no rails, no clanging.
Passenger Robert: Yes, it is freer. Yet the engine is limited by the engineer who made it, the interior by the manufacturer who made it, even space by the God who formed it, by the astronomical system that lies in it, while the aeroplane is limited by both of these.
Passenger Adrian: It is also limited, if you come to think of it, by the passengers, pilot and engineers who are in it - their skills and the demands they make of it.
Passenger Robert: And now you mention it: The passengers too are limited by the form, the talents and above all, the spirit that each one has... except for this: that some know and freely love God.
For them, there are no absolute limits, except for the fact that they are creatures while God is their Creator. Yet that's the way they want it. It's no use being God, if you are not as good as He is. Besides, it is like walking in the Rocky Mountains. YOU are not these massive beauties, or soaring peaks, but you have access to them, and live with them
They are your heritage. When God through Christ is freely your heritage, there is no limit to the glory of your inheritance: as He says, all the Father has is mine, and as Paul says, Christ is yours, all things are yours.
Passenger Adrian: The mountains below suggest the power, majesty and strength of our foundation in God, while the delicacy of the clouds and the sheer grandeur of the immensity of space recall to us the spiritual marvel of vertical ascent to ever wonderful heights, lateral movements to the refreshment of His provisions, varied in nature but profound in concept.
Passenger Robert: The solidity and security has its symbol, as does the freedom and the delightfulness of mobility. It is sad so many seem to want to destroy the majestic foundations and fly about with marvellous mobility without any spiritual encompassment at all. It is rather like ploughing with porcelain and running with plough-shares for shoes. For my part, I'll take the limits God gives me and experience the freedom they enable.
Always what He would be - and deriving what He will, He neither changes nor has any need which is in the power or the gift of His creation, to provide Him. It subsists; He consists. What He is, what He does, is what He wants and what He gets. There neither is nor can be any divorce between Him and reality; for He is its basis, engenderer without constraint, compulsion or control. To Him it can add nothing, nor is He nor could He be at war with Himself (cf. *22 and p. 581 infra), for that would necessarily imply an inherited, potentiated or processed power that was not His will, resisting Him; and that, as always, requires the cause beyond Him, to institute it, which merely makes it clear that the Being called 'god' was not; and that this Being behind is the one properly so called. It is all a matter of contradiction in terms, to gain such anomalous situations; and the terms are logically required in the first place, as has been shown. Let us then recapitulate.
Were His desire baulked by 'reality', the 'reality' could be changed: He thus always is independent, and what He does conforms to what He is, and what He is has no donor, disciplinarian or control. He is what He will be, and will be what He is. Beneficiary of none, He makes all. Nothing can force Him to deny Himself, abort His rules, or principles and ways even momentarily. This last point is, as we shall see, of great importance when we come to revelation into such a world as this one is, in comparison with what God is! (Cf. pp. 44-47 and endnote 22, pp. 88 ff. infra.)
God is, we say, illimitably free; nor could it be otherwise. Thus even self-contradiction in word or deed is self-assault. If now there were other 'gods' as we saw (or other things), they would with Him constitute a system, and the systematiser for that is then needed; and that is God. So God is One. If the other 'gods' (hypothesised for argument's sake) were defined as not being in God's system, then by definition, there are at least two systems, and we need the grounds for their susceptibility to the unitary thought (in being called 'systems' for example) we would be engaging in at this point, relative to them. Here we would, then, have systems of communication about them, thought involving them, subordinating them to one rational system.
If however the 'other god' were thought of as not being part of one rationally orientable system, then it could not be conceived of or construed in our rational system of thought, in which, however, it has just come. It is already here! Hence, as before, you would need God to invent the intimate correlation of capacities of the two 'gods'.
If it is, for all that, defined that the other 'god' must be in no way relatable to God or to our thought, then the definition at once violates the condition implied in the statement concerning the 'god', which starts with the correlation constituted by the very concept of 'goddishness' which is at once involved.
To fulfil the condition, such a thing literally could not even be thought; for if it is, then the correlation is established and the ground of it is God, as a basis for the duality. If we want to conceive a 'god' who is inconceivable in order to 'beat the system', then we are engaged in a flat contradiction of terms so that our thought attacks itself and destroys itself, before it can destroy or attack anything else. Like the Challenger spacecraft, it blows up... on the pad, or nearby.
There can be no correlation, no inter-relation and indeed no existence of any other than One God. If it so much as existed, it is at once within the confines of an existent system with another existent, God, so that the system of existences needs its creator, and some creator at that, when God is part of the scenario! that however would then be God.
Thus God is free, and our freedoms, which explain our behaviour of artistic creation, our alteration of heart (not necessarily for the right - the susceptibility is the point) as a race, or our recreation of heart by God - these relate to this (*7).
Let us summarise a little. Not composed of fashioned and comprised units, such as is the case with matter, which exhibits that it has no power to create, God is thus a free Spirit. With no limits to His thought, and all things being not barriers, He knows all things and at all times is what He would be. Self-determining without limit and changeless without adjustment, for Him there is no state preferable to the one He adopts, itself intrinsically beyond time; though changes of form are matters of foreseen purpose and program from time to time, such as in the case of the incarnation.
END OF EXCERPT from SMR
that can lead to a
1) the Direct Answer, preliminaries being in order
In simple terms then, God does not relieve Himself of the 'burden' of His affairs and His responsibilities because
1) He upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:1-3), and
2) by Him all things consist (Colossians ), since neither logic nor order nor causality is anything if the power and the presentation of all the interfaces is not systematically invented and maintained. If God did not bother to operate, nothing else could manage to do so.
The equipment wears out; the energy runs down; the light of knowledge as distinct from the observation of interactions is extinguished; the meaning of soul departs; the unifying purpose of creation recedes into dimness of darkness, and nothing makes sense. Garbage is the offspring, and unless automatic controls were left on, incineration of concepts would follow.
Automatic controls ? Could He simply 'leave' those ? These cannot give the knowledge and the understanding which RESTING in the BEING of God, would not EXIST in order to be there, if He departed the scene, bag and baggage with Him - as the Russians put it, before they came to the bottom recently. But what if HE still being there, yet not in sovereign power, wanted to have things continue in His personal absence, by systematic provisions ?
Would that work ? With God nothing is impossible in terms of His will (what is contrary to His will is impossible because that very fact MAKES it so, for who can resist Him, on whose power, all power depends!). However that He should desire the change is impossible as noted, since it ruptures the aseity of God, it puts Him into time and developments situations which arise from His creation, into the configurations of limits which are bounds, which none can give to the Creator. To take a format for a purpose with NO change in His being, and power in andover the creation is one thing; to surrender the thing is quite another.
No more the mere observer of time, He would be planned into it, participant by sojourn, ruling and relenting, as if it were not a contrivance but an equal, and He would become for all the world like an author stumbling into the insane folly of imagining he could become one of his own (limited and circumscribed, invented) characters, and write the story as he went. It would be for a toymaker to become a toy, a pianist a piano. But God is not so limited; and he who is, is not God but a careerist in powers and plays, a casual worker, not the infinite inventor and executor of His will in all things, in all ways as long as they exist. Hence the abdication is merely a creaturely concept anomalously conveyed to the Creator. It is like 1 divided by nought, but worse, for not only is it meaningless in the abuse of symbolism, it is to divorce meaning itself from the arena being assessed for meaning.
Abdication ? What does it resemble ? It is like an attempt to draw interest from an account when the capital has been withdrawn; except that in this illustration, the bank is gone too, the active basis for any transactions at all.
To adopt such limits over a prepared creation as envisaged, this would be to change; it would be to change to the formula of the creation in its time and development programs; and moreover, even if such change did not deny His very nature, even to change at all the character of His Being from its essential sovereign majesty would be to breach the competency of His knowledge, who, knowing all from the first, is what He wants to be to the last. Free from all development, being not created in a system, but rather for all mere system, the Maker, He is not of the order of the investment planner; for HIS ARE the riches. That is their nature. Systems may come and go; the creator stays, and stays just the same.
Moreover, the departure of the Creator from a system designed by Him, for Him, is an infinite and ultimate decadence, since His status and power know no bounds.
Hence the concept is a contradiction in terms.
Indeed, it is a contradiction of presence, and His presence is the criterion of the operation of all things, in that they have only derivatives of His life, and His removal from the scene would remove the living reality, leaving but a hollow shell. Life formulator gone, living creator absent, the creation would be an orphan from the correlations of design.
Man, then, incapable of BEING the person he is without the Person he is not, being a dynamic derivative fitted for interpersonal relations, is one whose capacities in action are the repository for peace available to such of God's creations in His likeness. Bereft of fellowship with Him, his susceptibility for both blessedness and vital operation in the divine presence aborted, man would be like an unborn child, shrouded in the darkness of a vacated world. God and man are both personal, and the absence of His presence would be infinitely irreplaceable; for it, with His word, is the light of understanding. There is no other but His, who alone knows the whole of time and space and design and purpose. A dead understanding for a living being is a systematic deprivation, a collapse.
God however does not collapse: all limits to His power being alien and the stuff of mere creatures, with bounds set: and set by God.
Moreover if HE were to cease to operate, the creation would writhe into terminus, being terminal in quality and cursed to boot (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch.7); for the difference between the living originator of the power to will, and the dead working of system, is infinite. Abdicate ? The residue, the abandoned creation, depersonalised by the voiding of the participation of its creator and resource in living interaction, would be demeaned into a garbled and deprived collapse, and eventually be hurled into a sort of hell of vacuity, which is the ultimate in horror. On HIM, would devolve the responsibility, from HIM would be the irresponsibility of having made what He dumped, and to HIM would be the omission of foresight (impossible systematically as noted) and the lack of sustained purpose, implying ignorance from the start.
Further, His principles of justice, relating to what He has made in the format HE chose, because it seemed good to Him and in accord with His principles, in the relationship which He appointed, would be breached; and therefore HE HIMSELF would be a casualty. He knows, and He does as He is, wise and all-seeing, aware of the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and choosing wise ends, which relate to His powers and His self-sufficiency which needs nothing from any, but gives to all.
Many are the principles violated by the violation of the presence of God; and great is the downfall of what He does not uphold with what He IS, being the creator in this manner.
Of course when the creation in the form of mankind, erred in rebellion, using the conferred potential, grasped for a divine status in knowledge as shown in the Bible, then in JUST accord with His principles, the realities He made being defiled, He pronounced death.
In heaven, where any imperfection could ricochet and all quality can interact freely, sin is like a virus epidemic. It is a non-arrival (cf. Revelation 21:4-8). What was to be done therefore ? Death duly came and the atonement duly arrived, by long programmatics announced and illustrated, at the date duly pre-announced by several hundred years, in Christ (SMR pp. 886ff.). His total knowledge, sustained purpose and comprehensive understanding was now found to be allied with what logic cannot prove but revelation can show, once the Bible is proved (as in SMR Ch.1-3,10) to be the word of this One God Almighty, Immutable and Sovereign into eternity, always what He would be, what He could be, there being no limit and no time as we know it to impose itself on Him.
What then does it show (Romans 5) ? LOVE, so profound is it that the exacting work of the creation is complemented by a marvellous motivation: children of God, holy and blemish free, covered by the guilt bearing of the everlasting word of GOD, incarnate, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53 gives the outline in advance also - cf. the vast preliminary coverage in the Biblical works - Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17).
Such a profound task, plan and wonder is called customarily the PLAN OF SALVATION, and it is not God, but sin which has to abdicate. Its power is such, however, that this is precisely what it WILL not do. The only way therefore is to ask the Lord to make it abdicate in repentance for one's having it, so that no longer does it reign.
How is this done ? God is willing that none should perish, and having acted once in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), now acts on this basis, having the power available. Thus the call is the word needed, the call on His name in the appointed channel of power, Jesus Christ (cf. Hosea 14, , Acts 2, esp. vv.21,37-38).
While, then, God is the only and the eternal absolute One, whose power is His own, as are His resources, His nature, for whom to be is to rule: yet He DID one thing to which the question bears a slight relationship. God DID, for a short season, abdicate the FORM of God in the case of His eternal word, and took the FORM of a man, though without sin, in that form. In pursuance of His program of deliverance for many, He died the death on the cross, so that format-wise, He has undertaken far more than a holiday: He has evacuated from dignity of place, the form of eternity, to become though the One God, available for ridicule, test, query and healing; for death. He became available for leering, jeering, disgraceful and fatuous suppositions, to be shouted in His ears, for false practice of law, to be wrongly and ruthlessly condemned.
Indeed, poor Simon Peter even took Him aside to lecture Him against this dying program (Matthew -23), so concerned with solicitude for His disregard of the costs and penalties of His mission (Matthew ).
In all this, HE did NOT
forsake that unbreachable capacity to relate to His Father for all the power
needed to get the job done (John 8:29, 11:42), nor did He forsake the honour of
His own name (John 5:19-23), for His is equality with the Father in heaven
(Philippians 2); but He was ready to be forsaken on earth, and was; that we who
believe might be found in heaven. He was willing to be slammed with the filth
of tongues that we might be washed with the grace of truth, through His blood,
our entry, for all who in faith receive Him (Titus 3:7-12, 2:11-14).
The provision was not easy, nor was it mere physical torture, but mental assault, verbal contempt, the pulsation of inane pride assailing Him as victim, while its vainglory added piquancy to the piercings that were merely the outward scene of the inward load of sin which He bore, compassionate to the end.
Earthly power forsook Him, in its judicial form, in Pilate; in its ecclesiastical glory, in the high priestly party; imperviousness, in His suffering of normal pangs like thirst; and the very radiation of glory forsook Him when He cried, inundated with the sins of the many, "My God, My God why have You forsaken Me!" as predicted in Psalm 22. It was indeed there that His piercing and contemptuous despatch were in detail forecast, and covered closely almost as in some time machine! God changed form to deliver those who fouled form, as man to deliver mankind, all who would come to Him for such a purpose; but He did not change His truth, His intrinsic majesty, His mercy or His power of judgment which is to come, though deferring its impact on man, He took it upon Himself selectively, for as many as believed in Him (as in John 8:42,23-24, Isaiah 53:1,10).
· Small wonder is it then that this same Jesus Christ is the acme, the alpha and the omega of salvation, sent like an arrow from the ardent desire of His Father (Isaiah 49:2 51:16), fleet in His personal desire to do it (Psalm 40:1-3); and having secured the target, and still without violence, He secures His own, as it is written, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power" - Psalm 110:3, or 'volunteers' as the NKJV has it. The divine review of this glorious action speaks truth, with wonder*1.
· Instead of abdicating to the ruin of His creation, God has transmitted His eternal word into human format, for service in sacrifice, the most noble, profound and awe-inspiring of all, that of God as missive, sent from the Eternal Father (Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 3:9, 2:8, Psalm 45, Hebrews 1), like a waterfall pouring out from a lake on a high mountain, leading upwards to its source (John 14:6).
· He relegated glory, but remained all glorious because of His identity, minus trappings; and it is now we who are required to relegate pretended glory, and receive a lesson in humility, for before honour comes humility, and before usefulness comes truth; for so is man made. Apt for truth, he is a danger to himself and to all, until he finds it.
· His compassion was immovable, His method undeterrable, His changeability zero, His accessibility by ONE way, in the "everlasting Gospel" (Revelation 14:6 cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, That Magnificent Rock Chs. 2 -3). Impervious to torture, He exempted those whom He freed with just and measured certainties, becoming to the captain of salvation, integral to the righteous immovability of the ways of God.
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created, " and again,
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honour and glory and blessing!"
and for the creation to resound:
and honour and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever ' " (from Revelation 5:9,12-13).
They perceive the
inflexible rectitude of God in the immovable compassion which met the case with
the felicity of the One who made all things, and knows the way for each.
The coherence, consistency,
insistence, majesty, planning, righteousness, purity and provisions of the
Lord, as shown in His book are all that reason could relish in its grandest
hopes, when examining this provision, for it satisfies in system to the
uttermost; but more, it is all that heart could wish, for it abounds past all
that hope could propound, being the balm to the spirit which the disparities in
this world with its sin abounding, make the more apt (Rev. 7:16-17). It is the
acme of that alpha and omega, Jesus Christ, coming as a servant, returning as a
sovereign most just; and now is the time before the omegas of judgment to find
Him, to serve Him, for as to Him, He is past all comparison in grace and truth.
All that is needed, is done. Christ came and
did it. What is done should be received.
ABDICATE ? WHO ? FROM WHAT ?
What then ? All this God HAS DONE, in Christ, abdicating glory but not reality; untouchability but not immutability of spirit; leaving scenes of splendour for the ruins of physical form, by murder, that the iniquities of those who have murdered the truth might justly, and vicariously be borne away. In this way, mercy and truth met, and righteousness and peace were friends (as in Psalm 85). But abdicate His power to run things, to rule things, to plan things, to deal with things, whether in love, humility and mercy, or from celestial magnificence, no, not that.
Incalculable vulnerabilities would then supervene for those whom He loves, has bought; inconceivable spiritual abrasions would claw at their hearts, and dim their minds, through lack, as one who gasps for air, but it is not there. Instead, innumerable graces conquer the hearts of His people, and all who come to Him come to certainty, a sovereign security not only present in the features of His divine nature of which Paul speaks; but in His divine performance, of which history is the repository.
What then is to abdicate, and what is to be changed intrinsically, transformed, given dismissal notice ?
It is SIN which must be changed for something better; and God is unchangeable in His eternal felicity of wisdom; so that the actual abdication in view in truth and in reality can only be one: to resign, surrender and come to the Lord as a sinner happily met with the Saviour and receiving Him, to witness His transforming power so that the sovereignty is now where it ought to be. Nor does it seem to strenuous when it is the authority over one as a son or daughter of God, a citizen of HIS kingdom; and the more especially since His infinite reliability has been shown to heart and eye as to mind and spirit, in His willingness to go so far as to suffer in the person of His son, eternal with Him (Micah 5:1-3) and inserted for deliverance, into temporal things in a love which is the basis and background to all human love.
THIS is the abdication practically available. As to God ?
Rather, He being WHO He is
and the ONE He is, God remains as He always has done, being aware of what is
good in His sight, and learning nothing, knowing all. He is as He was and will
be as He has been. He does what He will, and He does it as Himself, invincible,
unmanoeuvrable, unteachable, but eminently reachable, in view of His
terrestrial excursion, by the simplest of means, procedures, the call in
Christ's name, for His mercy's sake, in repentance, on the basis of His actual
wrongs borne, that wrongs being cancelled by atonement, righteousness should
arise as a gift of grace (Romans 5:1-12).
2) The Implications which Can Relate
However the question must now arise from our own side, from the reality of the Lord and the wonder of His word and power: WHY ASK THIS ?
One possible reason is psychological. If a person is weary of being confined by religion, and by God, then the concept of God abdicating might appeal, since if ONLY He would do so, then the soul could feel it would be as nice and religious as you like, and still be ITS VERY OWN SELF, lorded over by none, afflicted by no limits, in control, capable of securing almost ANYTHING by mere intelligence, craft, guile or some other thing attractive in the particular case.
That is one possible psychological source for any thought of divine abdication! Let us however be clear, for the heart without God is by Biblical standards "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). WHO can know it! asks Jeremiah. ONLY the Lord, he answers.
Hence it is quite vain to expect to KNOW what the motive, conscious or perhaps more likely, unconscious could be, for this. Yes, indeed, it might simply be the roving of an enquiring mind. We are looking at the sort of thing which COULD occur, since in any disciplined discourse and activity, it is well to look where and WHY you are going.
If a Christian were weary of being obedient
(as Jonah was to his enormous subsequent, and wholly deserved distress, from
which however the Lord delivered him in highly dramatic style) then such a
proposition as the Lord abdicating might, some would say, have some appeal. But
would it ? It would seem assuredly not: for the Christian is REGENERATED, and
CONVEYED into the
What, however, if someone is merely interested in considering the nature of God, and of power, and of authority, and of limits, and of what is available, and hence were simply researching the case ? It is entirely possible that there is no larger motive than this, if one is already at peace with God, in which case however, the above does apply; but other possibilities bear investigation by anyone interested in the question. An insatiable desire for devising might arise from an unmet desire for the knowledge of God, like the child’s desire for ice-cream, the more when appetite is not sagely met. Absolam, for example, that attractive son of King David's, was certainly asking JUST this sort of question about the power, dominion and authority of his earthly father, when he began his political campaign, at first cleverly. He was mistaken. He lost it in various senses... What God appointed in the crown of his father, David, was not for sale to greed or for availability for the purposes of pumped up power.
Similarly, many try to remove Christ, or to misuse the name, or to glorify the natural products God invented, or the human mind; but it is all in vain. None of them has intrinsic power and capacity; all are limited, devised; all need service; all run down unless enlivened, given meaning and place by the manufacturer, like car bits wearing out when nothing more is manufactured, and the roads are bombed... (cf. for interest Isaiah 51:6).
It is in fact a glorious reality that God is by nature, power, work and quality without any facility to become what He is not, but is He who is, was and is to come, as Revelation puts it, the "I AM" (John 8:58, Exodus 3:14, A Question of Gifts VII) ,whose independence, incapacity for entrammelment, being deceived or dumped is far greater than the same applied to the power of the oceans in the presence of a voracious bath: it would wear out before it made much impact on the seas! In this case, however, the 'bath' is the product of the seas, to follow the analogy: and to tangle with them ? a bath ? the concept is ludicrous.
What would it be like in terms of the car ? it would be like tangling with the manufacturers, service personnel and spare parts representatives, by using your car as a battering ram, a weapon for defiance against them. Yes, but there is more, for in this case, the knowledge which God has, would precede the operations against Him; for He is aware of the whole constitutive capacities, natures and movements of His created equipment and system, much more than the computers which dead in mind, but alive to direction, are being used increasingly to resort to the resources of information and enable increasing control.
Actually, it is this information capacity, not least, which will misdirect man in his aspiration in due course as shown in Revelation 13, when the systematising powers will reach the point of virtually complete economic control through data and system. God however, being neither slave nor limited in any way by anything, and always alert to all that He desires, is what He desires with time a mere capsule for the creation.
· Accordingly, He does not abdicate, that is, resign His intrinsic creative power so that there would be nothing for anyone; and having been what He is from everlasting because this is to His infinite, non-time restricted will, what is good, He continues for more of the same, investing time systems at will, creating at will.
· Having sent His Son ONCE to die for the MANY sins committed by our race OFTEN, He is without CHANGE in this also, the desire to degrade the work of His only begotten Son, and to make it all a mere bubble. Hence the Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9) is also timeless, immutable and in this case, as with some chemist fouling up carefully researched effective medicines, there is a dire penalty announced for the tampering!
God, however, has on the contrary resolved, we read in that book which is called "the book of the Lord"(Isaiah 34:16) to the last part what He shall do; and He has constrained all things to this end, that they should be gathered together in this same Jesus Christ, incarnate from heaven, to return to earth (Ephesians 3:10, Acts 1:11). What is it like ? It is like a practice green, and after this, its short course finished, golf, if you like, the game is played on another and far better fairway. This one was for trial and practice; that one is for those who have accepted His green jacket (to follow the analogy). It is so very different: for THAT jacket is a gift, from an attainment of that same Jesus Christ who died, the just for the unjust to bring us to God.
If this topic is to your mind, then you would do well to look up Matthew 22:1-14, especially verse 12, and Isaiah 61:10, and then Romans 5:1-12.
Abdication is a very good word, therefore, in this context; but its point of application is not God, but man. When he refuses this, it is merely the continuation of illusion; for he is not sovereign anyway, though his desires often lead him to imagine that he is, since arrest is so long in being performed, and termination (cf. Luke 14:31, 13:1-3) ? that is not till the Age ends.
Again, it is rather like a grain of wheat, as Christ put it (John ):
"Unless it falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves me, him My Father will honour" - -26. See this parable extended if you will, in Barbs, Arrows and Balms 3.
For convenience, this follows as an insertion.
The Proud Grain of Wheat...
There is a saying of Jesus Christ found in John 12:24 - Let us hear it and consider its thrust. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone; but if it die, it brings forth much fruit. He who loves his life shall lose it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal."
Once there was a very well-formed and sweetly rounded grain of wheat. It had heard of the cries of other grains, about the time they fell to the ground and having lain there long enough, began to crack and open, losing their precious rounded form. "Ah! he had heard one say. I am undone! Literally! My sides are bursting and I cannot any longer call my life my own! This is a most rending and breaching thing, and hard to bear."
Fired by this thought, he resolved never to be duped by this dying business (II Corinthians 4:10-11, Romans 8:10-13, Galatians 2:20). Not for him, the woes and the throes of such enormous change! I am reminded of a foreign student of mine, whom I taught years ago. One day he called me up: Should he lie for a certain purpose! He could see no other option. At once I told him NOT to do so! To lie! It hurts the heart, the conscience, the life, the mind! It becomes a ruin, and if you lie and stay that way, rather than coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, and finding in Him the solution to the problem in the TRUTH, why then it is a matter of dying in lies, in the end.
I was right. You are right, my Teacher, he said; BUT EXCUSE ME! He went on to say it was out of the question. In such a world as this, where all is not what it should be, if one is wrongly accused and so forth, it may be that the only way to meet a liar is to lie! Such was the sad story! I urged him to consider the power of Christ, told of another who had been helped when in crisis, and urged him to call me again.
Alas! whatever may have been the eventual outcome in this case, the nature of the case is all too clear. GOD is fine on a fine day, but in the storms, one has to "paddle one's own canoe", be canny in the ways of the world, join the rats in their race and ... go for it! Not so! I told him, in effect (Romans 6:1-3). The CHRISTIAN...
"Ah yes!" he said, in effect, "but Christians will tell the truth!" This, it seems, was a luxury which would not fit into his current crisis. But where does it go? I asked. You go from lie to lie, from error to error, until the while thing is evil, wrong!
So our grain of wheat found that this new life sort of business that some of the grains he had known, opted for, was too much. It is "too much altogether!", he thought. So he chose to remain, beautifully rounded, unconfounded until he rotted and being dead, turned to dust.
Our grain of wheat this time is merely in trouble. He finds a profound change is beginning to occur in him. Lying on the dirt, he has some tremblings as if of germination. He feels certain loosenings, tearings, stresses and strains. He is discomforted, experiences hyper-angst, wondering whether to see his village priest, Anglican clergyman, Presbyterian Minister or Baptist pastor; goes to each of these. The resultant fabric in his mind is turmoil. Neither does baptism nor mass nor predestination nor any other combination or development of these seem to help him (I Peter , Hebrews ,22,28, John 6:63, II Peter 1:5-10). One spoke of being repentant, regenerated and - but it appeared impossible (Luke 13:1-3, John , 10:9, 3:1-20, I Peter 1:1-5). HOW could he successfully live - so he went to the charismatics. Yet their power seemed puny, and where it seemed different it appeared in the grip of sensationalism (I Corinthians 14:8--38, 1:1-2).
Neither sacrament nor sensation appealed. He went into the deepest recesses of his mind. WHY should he do ANYTHING? The Bible? One of the religious people had recommended this, even saying that if it was not according to this word, there was no truth in it. But the Bible? He did not want to soil his soul with someone else's opinions. So no! He WOULD NOT yield to this strange movement in his seed. He wanted to stay a seed forever, to be ... seedy! So he did.
Oh the depths of heart, the spiritual grief, the loosenings of old views; but no! he would forever be a seed. The "germinations" were mere miasmas, dreams. He took up yoga and transcendental meditation, and so gained a good post in a large company. Soon he had it all pat - terrific potentials" became the watchword.
But he never germinated.
And so he died, captive of the life that he summoned to his throne, subject of death, shallow to the end; an idolater of form, not believing in the power of God.
is sad that being seedy is so in vogue: how many millions will share the fate
of this seed!
coming in the likeness of men,
form of a man is what characterises him as specific to his kind, quality or
The form of God is what characterises Him as being in that infinity of eternity, power and omniscience, sinless purity and aboundingly holy beauty which intrinsically is His alone, to an infinite degree.
Having this form, Christ without ceasing to be who He is, eternal and co-creator, increate and inalienably deity, took another form and in this abdicated not authority but unapproachability, that unbreachable might, so that only by invitation could one come, and that by the way provided. In so doing, He rendered Himself by gracious design, vulnerable to viciousness of mankind.
In this, by redeeming plan, He died: abdicating external magnificence for the portrayal of that within, and this for the portrayal in contrast, of human sin; so that those who sought Him and received Him should slide like skiers from the heights of calamity, not onto the rocks of judgment, but along the course prepared and equipped by Him, to the victory provided and assured both by His lively presence (for there is none like Him) and by His covenanted guarantee (Ephesians 1:1-11, Psalm 2, 45).