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The Eternal Warrant
Not a mere matter of condemnation as for arrest
But of Eternal Life
Eternal Life Starts NOW!
ITS LIGHT IS MULTI-DIRECTIONAL, ITS BEAUTY UNTOUCHABLE
ITS HARMONY RESPLENDENT
Recently, massive outpourings of fire and slaughter have raided Iraq, itself the sick source via a paranoid ruler, of peace threats, gross and vile torture of many of his own people, and open assistance of mass murder in Israel, which oddly, does not seem to concern many, though the bodies of the young be charred, or severed. The devil for that matter has been a mass murderer from earliest times, seeking now in this, now in that, even in heaven if it were possible, to wrest control and simply assert himself (Rev. 12, John 8:44ff.). Yet God is in peace and invites to peace, with a massive outpouring of the oil of spiritual security, the perfume of protection of godliness and the gift of commission to serve in the kingdom of heaven.
On this occasion, we shall look, sometimes merely schematically, at Titus, taking the elements which are our special concern at this time, those dealing with the absolute integrity of God, His absolute gift in love and kindness to man, and the absolute certainty of these things.
I WHAT IT’S ABOUT - TITUS 1. 1-3
PROMISED FROM ETERNITY, ETERNAL LIFE
In Titus I:1-3, we find a magnificent display of the pith of God’s grace, not so much in its MANNER (for which see Titus Ch. 3), but in its GIFT. Since this verse is not always translated as well as it should be (though Berkeley and Weymouth treat it rather handsomely), let us consider it carefully as it comes from the Greek, into our modern English.
“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s chosen people, and the sure knowledge of the truth which is in accord with godliness: in hope of eternal life. God, who is alien to all lying, promised this before time began; and so, in its own appointed times, He has openly shown what He has in mind, expressing it through preaching, entrusted with which am I (or , with which I stand entrusted), according to the commandment of God our Saviour:
TO TITUS, my own son in terms of the common faith …
We shall postpone further approach to this translation, till point IV below. Let us then consider the substance.
TRUTH in terms of what God is about, wants, is like, is to be found, and from this comes the invading force of LIFE ETERNAL into the ruins not this time of Iraq, but of sin as it has affected the image and function of man, in his mind, body and spirit. It does not bomb; it convicts, and its invasion is no more violent than is the ocean breaker. It does not destroy the rocks, but it pounds upon them, as if to ask them to be washed, constantly (Luke 13:1-3, I John 1:7-2:2) . God promised this everlasting life, in heaven before our time on this planet with its patient processes began (cf. Romans 8:36, Ephesians 1:4); and of course from earliest times in Eden (Genesis 3:15).
He has not ceased to confirm, clarity, amplify, and then even to pay for the offer, when Christ came and was the Redeemer (Ephesians 1), as which He still offers Himself freely, with all His peace and power and purity, His compassion and His royal commission for those who are willing to serve Him with all their hearts and minds, soul and strength. It has been so since the Fall, and it is so now, in the most MANIFEST MANNER in which He has seen fit to present it over time, until the whole beauty of it appeared in the prophets, and this was consummated in the way the actuality fulfils the word, the reality the depicition, and consummated in the action of Christ in His own Person.
Thus truth which is the territory of God, has come, and in truth His love has come from the God of all truth, who mercifully is the God of all comfort! (See Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, with TMR Ch. 3, Marvels of Predestination ... Ch. 3 and SMR pp. 25ff.) You will notice the Epistle talking thus of "the sure knowledge of the truth which is in accord with godliness." We will see something of its scope in practice and in heart.
II HOW YOU GO ABOUT IT - Titus 1:5-16
A. Elders to be Faithful
The church is a structure, built like a temple of living stones (I Peter 2:9, Ephesians 2:19ff.), and supervisors, elders, have to have qualities of knowledge, patience and an enduement of teaching capacity which is epitomised in the pastor (I Timothy 5:17), but should be at least latent in all. Rather than dipping into the latest dripping from the slaughter-house of Satan, as has become customary for some, especially in the USA when many went for theological training in avant-garde philosophical centres, masquerading as seminaries in Germany, in earlier parts of the last century, pastors should be “holding fast the faithful word”. Which one ? the word of God as he has been taught, the word of the non-lying GOD!
This Christ used fatally on Satan, and briefly, and pastors should seek to do the same with the same weapon (cf. Ephesians 6:10-17, I Corinthians 2:9-13). The people of God are not the people run by the pastor, the elders or the church, but as a church are a people devoted to the word of that God whom they adore, and need pastors who are of like mind, lest religion become a railroad and the church a Grand Central Station of mere spiritual waywardness, without bona fide travellers on the Highway of Holiness.
B. With Pure and Lively Heart amid spiritual pollutions, confuting the errors effectually
Sharp rebuke may become necessary. Never pleasant, any more than a cancer operation, it must be realised that life is a serious affair, and though it has its humour and delights, it is not a bauble. Infections can set in, whether for the spirit or the mind or the body. All must be attended to both with diligence and purity of heart. Discrimination is necessary, and the refusal of refuse masquerading as ‘holy’ is often as important in the short term, as the imbibing of the truth! An upset stomach can cause serious difficulties and may need some purging…
III HOW ALL MUST ACT - Titus 2:1-10
Faith with discretion in the
older ones is to impart wisdom to the young, who must be led by sound labours,
integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, words that stand, voiding the
opposition of adversaries.
chaste, virtuous and reliable all must be! young men in particular sober,
should not revolt but show faithful service, so an occasion for testimony.
In Ephesians 6:5-8, the case of bondservants is shown in its double-sided nature, with masters exhorted to avoid roughness, being forbearing, seeking like the slaves, themselves to serve.
Thus not a revolutionary social eruption, but a regenerative spiritual transformation is the need, which should, like leaven in flour, move the hearts of masters to consider how THEY would like to be slaves, and hence what they would appreciate having done FOR them, if this were their lot. Some slaves might prefer that position (Exodus 21), and then, as with the Jews of old, provision could be made for their doing so, such with kind masters being groomed for grooming. How gladly some masters might then free them! Thus advance from the sordid condition of slavery is to be by erosion not eruption, by conversion of all, not by violent breaking of heads.
Neither uprising on the one hand nor harassment on the other, far less covetous abuse of manpower for purse-power! The French Revolution ended in being revolting, cutting and killing on all sides, for all its “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality” in WORD! Saddam Hussein too started as … Socialist!
YOU can be a voluntary slave to Jesus Christ, as Paul was (Titus 1:1). Look at the code of spiritual conduct in Titus 1:9ff., with 2:7-8. To be sure this is for pastors, but they are specialists, not supermen; for though they be called to preach, teach, yet the qualities of character are applicable to all. Remember Stephen, who was not an elder, but a glorious character in the faith. Such things belong to the life which God presented in Christ, which brought to John such enraptured delight (I John 1:1-4).
As then in a garden, keep your eye on the objective: beauty, blooms, atmosphere, grace, peace and rest, while keeping out what destroys. For this use pruning, as you discipline yourself and accept it from the Lord; fertilizer as you become enriched with the word of God in your heart. Seek abounding blooms: grow in grace, knowledge, love, patience and faithfulness.
IV TAKING THE WONDER OF THE INTEGRITY AND TRUTH OF GOD
and its PERSONAL PURVEY FROM THIS TEXT AND HEBREWS JOINTLY
A) It seems best first, now to consider the translation of Titus 1:2-3 more diligently.
Both the AV and the NKJ provide the sort of translation which includes the word
"which" as object of "promised"
and then proceed to "in due course manifested" with the object "His word" in such a style that in English idiom, you are left with
the scenario of "which" as apparent object of both "promised" and "manifested":
This first appears in the sense, if we follow these two versions: which God promised and has in due course manifested.
Then, one is faced with the perfectly astonishing phenomenon of translation, that the word "His word" comes as a SECOND object of manifested in the preceding WHICH God promised and has in due course manifested. In short, it appears to read: WHICH God manifested but which God has in due course manifested His word...
There is no indirect object; there is no additive, as if to state: which together with His word God manifested. As presented in these renderings, it is just the rather cacophonic format: WHICH God promised, but manifested His word.
Now you really need to clarify this. Is it which God promised, and has in due course manifested AS His word, as one translator has it rendered. Yet it does not SAY "as". It says which God promised, and has in due course manifested His word ... except that in the Greek, the verbal form CONTAINS the personal pronoun so that you have the option of spelling out that pronoun in English, if you want to do so. Thus, avoiding this idiomatic catastrophe, you have: Which God promised, and He has in due course manifested His word. This is clear and the precise original.
Just as Paul continually reasoned in the synagogues that this Jesus was the Christ of the prophets, so this statement of manifestation of His word is not set at variance with the declaration of the prophets, but in consummation of their words*1, as in Romans 16:25-26. This has this word from the Lord:
"Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel
and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery,
kept secret since the world began
but now made manifest,
moreover through prophetic Scriptures:
according to the commandment of the everlasting God,
for obedience to the faith to all nations, made known -
to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen."
(In the NKJV also, incidentally, there is displacement of some words and the result might seem almost turgid and a little unclear, but this rendering above seeks to avoid that. It is rather beautifully done in the main, in the Berkeley version).
Moreover, with its distinctive felicity and internal harmony, its precision without obtrusion, the scripture states (Titus 1:1-3) NOT that it is "in its own appointed time" that the earlier revelation occurred, but "in its own appointed times", plural, so that in its time here in Isaiah, there in David, here in Moses, here in earlier intimations it is made known, and preached to mankind. That 'since the world began' might be our idiom for the Greek here, literally 'in the times of the ages'.
It over these times that the special and consummatory revelation given to Paul, in conjunction with the other apostles (Galatians) was NOT made known, that now it might be revealed with the actual coming of Christ. Of course, since the scriptures are ONE of the modes of the presentation over those times, as Paul indicates by his 'moreover', it is over those times that that earlier and participatory revelation came. It is ALL now for obedience to the faith in all nations, the prophetic words and the consummatory revelation, and for that reason made known. This is in fact an extraordinary and fascinating passage combining the New with the Old Testament as one whole, one revelation focussing Jesus Christ as Saviour, one revelation concerning Him, which in its entirety is propelled by divine commandment and made known for obedience to all the world in the dimension ? of FAITH.
In the Greek, there is a series of perfect passive participles which in the expository thrust of the passage are like tie rods for steering. KEPT SECRET, MADE MANIFEST, MADE KNOWN. The REVELATION is the feature: the degree of SECRECY in the past, is contrasted with the MANIFESTATION of this new thrust, epitomising and completing all, in the present of Paul and the apostles; and when the prophecies of the Old Testament are added, we learn that this is a totality COMMANDED by God, for the purpose of obedience to the faith. The remarkable holding to the last of 'made known', the third of the passive participles, which some translators seem to want to move back, is significant.
Having considered the 'secret past' aspect, and the 'manifest present' part, Paul completes the picture with the 'moreover through the prophetic scriptures' inclusion, just as he so uses those very scriptures continually in the Epistle to the Romans. Then he is moved to tie up the whole with the last incisive stroke, in the very last word of the main passage 'to all nations made known'. It has thrust at the start, inclusion as it proceeds with the prophetic scriptures, universality of binding by the word of the apostle to all nations (as by others in Acts 4:11-12), with the conclusion that THUS and FOR THIS, it is made known. As eloquence it is prodigious; but with tidiness and clarity it is suffused, with just that requirement to PONDER it, which brings it home to the heart as well as near to the mind.
It is all MADE KNOWN, he says, after all his former words, so conclusively comprehending the entirety of what preceded in this glorious fulness and embracive wrapping for all nations. It is indeed, as his words began, a thing in this composure to which he then addresses himself, able to establish them!
Whether it be the then current revelation of the apostolic crew and their participating companions, consequent upon the life and death of the Messiah, or the moreover portion, so well known and used, the prophecies that went before in the scripture, in what even then was all written, whether the first signal reference to revelation or the additive not to be forgotten, it is in the interests of Jesus Christ as first noted, it is with its various phases of revelation, the one and the other as added, all together bound, commanded, and as such MADE KNOWN, for the glory of that One everlasting God with whom Paul began the passage, as exposed in Jesus Christ for all mankind.
This command aspect which comes with the participle at the end, is as indicated by Paul, for example, as scripture writer in I Corinthians 2:9-13, 14:37, in the latter part of which, he indicates that the words that he speaks are the COMMANDMENTS of the Lord! But what of the earlier part, in those TIMES past, which are added by the 'moreover' reference to the revelatory whole.
Yes Isaiah, the evangelical prophet, and David too, these were preachers in the sense of open proclaimers of the Gospel, though its payment for efficacy was yet to come, and its delightful and vivid focus, Christ Himself the Redeemer, was seen at first in vision, before in victory, calamitous to the devil, triumphant for the saints, eviscerative for sin, and with deliverance for those awaiting penalty.
Thus Paul is not saying ONLY TO HIM, did it come, not for example to Peter or to Isaiah; but it is COMMITTED to him, and he plans to be FAITHFUL with his own commission, yes and in Galatians 1, shows apostolic authority against all diversifiers who at any time, be they angels, or even himself should he deviate, and announces a curse on such a blight to the only hope and way to man! .
What do we then find ? The "appointed times" , special select times by divine judgment, these embrace all scripture that manifests the Gospel, but their apostolic mandate portrays the pinnacle, yes and if you will follow the figure, makes its topography definitive, its height (if it could have a height which is infinite in glory) specific and its location determinate, its speech express and guaranteed against all falsification and fraud.
Small wonder then that Paul instructs Titus that a heretic, one contrary to the apostolic teaching, when once and twice admonished, is to be rejected. What colossal pain and loss would the churches of the 20th century have avoided, had they followed this directive! and even now, what solace for their companionship, peace for their hearts and strength for their performance if they returned to such standards. Some have them; many fail and falter, not being faithful in this.
Using the fact that the term 'word' in the Greek, can mean what you mean, that is, your thrust as well as 'word', it seems best to convey the sense carefully, to use the translation suggested in red below, in this, that it leaves no way anyone can either wonder what it means, on the one hand, or fail to see the sense. The "manifested" gives the sense of putting the thing in His mind into our purvey, taking it from its abiding place and presenting it expressly, and the term "word" here conveys the sense of giving this very thing in verbal format, in expression as logos can signify.
What then ? To what He had lent promise, He now gave explicit expression in manifest form in the Gospel. That is what is being said. Thus with due care to preserve this precise sense, it could be rendered in this way.
“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s chosen people, and the sure knowledge of the truth which is in accord with godliness: in hope of eternal life. God, who is alien to all lying, promised this before time began; and so, in its own appointed times, He has openly shown what He has in mind, expressing it through preaching, entrusted with which am I (or , with which I stand entrusted), according to the commandment of God our Saviour:
"TO TITUS, my own son in terms of the common faith …"
In this presentation, the excellent suggestion of Weymouth, entrusted "am I" is a clever rendering of the sudden introduction of the "I" in the epistle. However, for those who find it slightly strained in our idiom, certainly the sense is well conveyed by "with which I stand entrusted". It has both the force and the dignity of the original. To capture the precise sense without straining our language (which really is not a translation) or allowing ITS idiom to force some slightly different sense into the words given for translation: these are dual aims which one has sought to fulfil in this rendering.
One last point is worthy of mention. It could be said that it would be more literal to render it, "which has been entrusted, I" and so it would be; it is just that it would not be a translation into ENGLISH! Again, one has rendered a "which" relative pronoun as a new sentence, where it appears as "this"; but this allows one to seek to give the precise sense of the beautifully apt and CONCISE Greek term, 'non-lying', with some care as to its sense, without prolonging the sentence beyond what Paul wrote, and so keeping the sense of his style.
As to "who is alien to all lying", this sums up the Greek term used with care neither to make it appear that it is precisely "who cannot lie", which it is not, though it is exceedingly close to it, nor simply that He DOES not lie, for it is much more than this. The character, nature, way of the One concerned is wholly directionally divergent from lying, His way diverse from it, other and contrary to it. This being so, the phrasing seems to convey it.
B) While the word in Titus is deliciously divorced from all lying, a perpetual discord with such a thing, a severe sundering of any company, there is another presentation to be found in Hebrews 6:17-18.
This is as follows:
"In this matter, God, desiring more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise
the unchangeable character of His counsel, interposed with an oath,
so that by two unchangeable things in which, as to God, it is impossible to lie,
we who fled for refuge might have strong encouragement
to grasp the hope which is set before us, which we have
as an anchor of the soul, both certain and sure, and
entering into the inner part of the veil, where that forerunner on our behalf entered:
Jesus, according to the order of Melchisedek. become high priest for ever."
Here we find a fresh impact on the issue of God's infinite divorce, distancing and divergence from the lie*2, the process, the actuality, the attitude, the atmosphere, the land, the way of lying. It was perfectly expressed to this effect in Titus as we have seen, but here there is yet further divulgement on this issue. First we find an enormous emphasis on the divine unchangeability. This has often been considered on this site, most recently in Marvels of Predestination Ch. 3.
Always aware of all things, and under nothing, sole author of all creation and other than this, having nothing but Himself, God is what He would be, and finds what He wants. Not within a system, not dependent on one, not dependent on anything within or without, unconstituted, uncontrived, uncomposed, beyond all intrusion, penetration and disposal, He simply is the Being which He is, without a character, a self, an inheritance, a set of limits, or anything else which is the assigned and express property of that which is endowed, endued, constructed or set in or part of any system: all of which for its own part, requires its own creator, so that the laws, the form and the functionalities should be specifiable in contrast to nothing, and given their causal ground which is sufficient for their composure, composition, contrivance.
Time with its requirements of patient waiting for what IS TO HAPPEN, is merely His invention and is a creature's domain, limit or embracement. He waits for nothing in Himself, and is thus always what He would be: there is nothing to find out, no potential to realise, for of whom is its placement!
It is with this background so firm, and it is as Paul cites in Romans 1:17ff. obvious that God is like this, once you remove your mind from the burden of the customary conceptions of created life to the domain of its sole Creator; and in Hebrews we now proceed to find that allied with this unchangeability is the impossibility that there should be lie in God. To lie is outré, outside actuality, a stranger to the spiritual reality which relates to the word of God. His oath merely confirms this yet further in this Hebrews case.
To have all that He does dependent on Himself alone, so that no requirement, nothing where power is inferior to desire or design so much as exists or even could exist, and then to counter-construct this with a verbal denial, opposition, requires a contrary character in the speech to what is in the deed, an alien expression relating to the construction, a phraseological fight against fact, and hence war within God as was shown impossible both in Marvels of Predestination Ch. 3 and in SMR as cited. There is nothing to gain, since all is His already; and thus there is only an EXPRESSION of what God is which can be back of His deed, both this and His word.
A divergence implies war, contrariety, disharmony, division, and hence a disparity between the executive and expressive arm or function, so that one limits the other. A limit however is precisely what is impossible for God: there is nothing He does NOT do because it is forbidden, that cannot be because of a limit which exists impelling, constraining or requiring Him so to act or so to speak. Denial then becomes self-denial, and this postulates a ‘self’ to be denied, other than God who does the denying. Suitable for creation with its inheritances, this is not credible for God. Who made such a self ?
Such a thing would require the limit-setter, who would be God, not this, which would then merely be a construction of the mind, at variance with reason and reality alike; and as we see here, contrary with emphasis to revelation as well.
What was in all respects satisfactory to Him, and done, would become in word what was not in all respects satisfactory to Him, yes this even to the extent that He would speak against it, being moved by nothing, and expressive of Himself alone. That self is thus seen divided, opposing itself, and hence a construction of the mind, for NOTHING can oppose God, whose word works, and whose works He depicts. Moreover, once again, it is with the normal scriptural felicity, the Greek in Hebrews 6 does not say GOD CANNOT lie, but that it is impossible, as to Him, to lie. It lies outside the prescriptive felicity and internal harmonies, realities and desires of God!
It is this non-lying (as Titus has it), this God whose word is in a liquid fire of truth, if you will suffer the analogy, who has declared the site of refuge for those who flee thus to Him: it is set as an anchor, Christ having furnished the bed for it, for the soul who comes in faith to HIM!
LOVE AND GRACE OF GOD
A) ITS DECLARATION
Back to Titus now, and we find then that this summary truth is expressed in the promise of eternal life, and this eternal life, once premissed and promised, is now definitively declared, and indeed, as we move to Titus Chs. 2 - 3, expressed in further action, the warrant become the work. Christ died for sin, paid for redemption, and He did it for a reason (Titus 2:11): the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men. Indeed in Romans that not only did the free gift of justification abound to many (5:15), that is to those who received it (John 1:12), but just as judgment came to all men through their representative forefather Adam, so the free gift comes to all men, resulting in justification of life.
But is this free gift acceptable to all men ? Water may be piped past your property, and it is to all properties; but does it enter your domain ? In civic affairs, one remembers of a property once owned on an island, that one PAYS for the entry of this commodity to one's own land in the first instance. It may go TO it, but it is a very different affair involving both work and expense for it to ENTER one's land and so become PERSONALLY available as distinct from generically "there", in the street on which one fronts!
So this justification abounded to many, but it came TO all; and again as in Romans 5:19, it is only to MANY that this phenomenon of being MADE RIGHTEOUS occurs, such that the cancellation of debt is caused by the payment of the same, effectually moving through the account system if you will, until there is a complete coverage, as in II Corinthians 5:17ff.. The remission as in the Lord’s Supper is for MANY (Matthew 26:28): and that IS the NEW COVENANT!
Devils will die in their sins (cf. John 8:24). They keep them; and the sins keep their authors in such cases. Poignant as this is, purity must be found for one to live with God, and HIS PURITY is found ONLY in Him and ONLY by gift, and ONLY by grace, and ONLY in a gift by grace (Romans 5:15), with no component either of the flesh or the will of man operative at all (John 1:13).
Thus there is a double layer of grace: the generic grace which pours out the water, piping it to the domain of ALL; and there is the grace which individually MAKES IT ENTER into the domain of some; and the reason for non-entry is not the expense, for there is no limit to the water; and it is not the work, for the work is finished (Hebrews 9:12-28), eternal redemption having been purchased. It is rather this, that the owners of some properties do not WANT the water from this source, and would hope to find a well of their own.
Since it is FREE (Romans 5:15, Isaiah 55), and this is stressed in the most dramatic way, one may ask WHY is it not taken ? The reason is not obscure. Some do not like the management, and even if they find no fault in it, they prefer to be of themselves, for themselves, by themselves as agent, and if they are to have company it must be as it were, chosen by themselves as if they had made it expressly for the purpose: they are their own lords. They may be subservient to others, but this case merely expresses themselves.
Eternal life is not forced; the glory of God is not an invader; nor is it to be found by the will of man: but without violating man, God makes available His glory as He will, and this will involves first its readiness for all men, and then the payment of connection fee adequate for any man, and then the actual entry where love finds the way, knowing beyond the petty and depraved will of man, those who are His, not so as to exclude any, nor yet so as to include any in violation of the very nature of a being in the image of God. God does it; His principles He adheres to: these are love to all.
Therefore it is grace, and kindness as Titus 2:11 and 3:4 announce, and it was costly this accommodation provided for man, as shown in Titus 2:14, for the Redeemer had to give Himself that we might be saved, become heirs (3:7), being regenerated into the form and function of spirit which can SEE the things of the kingdom of heaven, so entering as sight comes and seeing as entry comes, and arriving in the love of Christ from that love, and to it indeed.
The Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) is poured out on man, effectually working; the Redeemer paid by His effectual dying; and life refusing the penalty to stick even where it was paid, pouring out in Christ, continued against the blatancy of sin, free in the resurrection. Thus Christ is He who was dead, and is alive for evermore. This inheritance is from love, grace and kindness, the Epistle declares, and it is only from the TRUTH of GOD who is CONTRARY to ALL LYING that you could know this. He has however declared it in His word, the acme of purity, the criterion of truth, verifying itself in every field just as it is impossible for it to lie (cf. SMR Chs. 1, 3, 5, 6, 8-9).
B) ITS INTIMATION
We find ourselves surrounded with the power, majesty, kindness and confirmation of God's love and action on all sides. Let us then consider it, now a little to one side, as it were with the head held that way, then on the other, merging and moving this way and that, as one considers a gem!
Grace is total, not additive, salvation is free, not acquired, coherence of all these spiritual realities is intense, not casual. It is all in the light which is dazzling to prying eyes, but entrancing when one walks in it.
How perfect is the perfect accord of reason and revelation: assuredly the second is determinative, but the former is confirmatory as is fitting where it is what the Lord has given to man.
God WHO CANNOT LIE, has shown it. Christ who did not fail, has done it. What of the salvation itself ?
The NEXT confirmation is the experience of it, in life, the next, according to the specialised promises which are integral with its nature (II Peter 1) and testable in eventuation, and the next, the inter-personal communion which is correlative to the experience, but specific within it. With all of this, is the Gospel which succeeds in Titus, from 2:14-3:8. This is the source of the splendour for man, the fuel from which the hose comes. This comes in the four propositional statements, 2:11, 2:12-14, 3:4, and 3:5-8.
These proceed to expose the heartland of action, the purposive splendour in the heart and mind of God, the grace, and the kindness and love, and then in each case show the extent of the action entailed. He gave Himself for us in order to redeem; and He saved us by His own mercy, shown as exhibited in 2:12-14, and exempted entirely from any works of our own. Indeed, it is a matter of regenerative result and action by the Holy Spirit, in the name of the Redeemer, the Saviour, so making Christian heirs of God, in terms of eternal life: for there is a completion of the process of justification already, and the end result is consummative, not additive.
The delight of BECOMING in dynamic reality and action, a child of God is correlative in this way to the GRACE of God who institutes all this as truly and with such unique monergism, such sole action as is the work of a father relative to the begetting of a son: the latter is not consulted, since he is not there. The pre-Christian is not the final operative in conversion, since he is blind and in a spiritual sense, through pathology and blindness, alienation and divorce from God, dysfunctional (John 3), to the purpose.
Here is a composite of divine provision: the grace is such that what is degenerated from its first high condition, is not expected to engender its own release, redemption, to pay its own costs or to change its own nature: as Christ put it, you cannot even SEE, far less ENTER the kingdom of heaven, unless first you are born again. How would you enter without regeneration then ? and how would you be regenerated without seeing what you are about ? Do you enter where there is no (visible) door, or do you take what is not to be seen ? Does faith operate before conversion, and are you regenerate and equipped before the regeneration occurs ? Such duplicative nonsense is outlawed at once.
It is not of the will of flesh, of man, says John 1; not of the will of man, says Paul in Romans 9, but of God who shows mercy, says the apostle Such is the munificence and the magnificence of this wholly homogeneous beauty of love; and such is the wholly homogeneous incapacity of man to come. This is the composition in which the divine painter performs His eternal art.
Hence the derring-do of dashing into the kingdom with your own sails flapping is removed: not of works lest any boast (Romans 3:23ff.). Not of him who wills, lest any be exalted (Romans 9:16, Ephesians 2, John 1:13); but of God who shows mercy (Romans 9:16), that all be humbled (Romans 3:27), which is apt and fitting, for what is this which needs 100% bail-out, which is to exalt itself! It would be childish, absurd, a ploy, deceitful, manipulative. But GOD CANNOT LIE. It is He who is freely available, and that not "of ourselves". It is His willingness, His work, His way, His engendering, His release, His regeneration and man's contribution is his sin.
What we are is not made excusable, for it is inexcusable. It is made remissible by kindness, and the kindness is made actual by blood, and the blood is made fitting by power, and this power raising the dead, just as Christ raised them before His vicarious sacrifice, is not wrought by man, any more than his regeneration or pardon. God in man's RECREATION through redemption, is just as total a giver as in the CREATION in the first place.
On the other hand, the love of God is not inhibited; you are not fighting to make it happen: it is there. Like a father pitying, He seeks; He does not use a machine-gun to delay or disperse the entry of the one whose heart is moved before his feet and who comes in faith to Him. This specious lie (cf. Luke 15 and the elder brother’s attitude) may be precious to some, misled; but it is an infirmity of infirm human flesh to let it loiter in the premises of the heart.
The passion of God is sufficiently shown in what He has done! And His word attests it as well as His works, and both speak as one (Titus 3:4-7). Nor is His desire less than total, nor His inheritance when given, less than eternal (Titus 3:7, Romans 5:1-11, I Timothy 2, John 3:16, I John 5:14). In accord with this, His method is His own!
Thus Paul has this (II Cor. 4):
"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh."
It is always the case "that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us" : (II Cor. 4:7). It is so in the creation (Isaiah 40 showing He needed and had no counsellor in it! and this emphasis being immense in 44:24, 45:12, 40:18ff.), in the plan of salvation (Ephesians 2:-12 in parallel emphasis), where equally, none provided help, in the execution of that plan. Indeed such was the desolation of the Messiah, who HAD to bear it alone, since sin separates ((Isaiah 59:1-2) to be effective and satisfy justice, that in a very special and intimate sense, God also did that ALONE.
As Psalm 69 puts it of the Redeemer,
"You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor;
My adversaries are all before You.
Reproach has broken my heart,
And I am full of heaviness;
I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none;
And for comforters, but I found none.
"They also gave me gall for my food,
And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."
It is from this Psalm that Peter quotes when Judas is being replaced (cf. Joyful Jottings 25).
The same is seen in Isaiah 50 and 53-55 where God only, come in the flesh, bears the sin, through His OWN knowledge as He endures it and fulfils all specifications for His people, and for the offer in its amplitude to all (Isaiah 53:2-6).
C) ITS INSPIRING LOGIC MATCHES ITS MAGNIFICENT SPIRIT
How marvellous is the consistent harmony, adequacy and scope of it all. Not a line varies, all is logical, all is persistently clear and inalienable from light.
If now man could choose God, then what of the merit of such a superior functionary compared with his brothers! Would God create such a superior one, and so exclude what He did NOT create in this level ? Would that be love or self-indulgence, simply making nice things for Himself and excluding the rest, alas too bad, to hell! Or would it be simpler to tear them up, remove them in a sudden fling of power, so that there was nothing at all left ? so that it 'wouldn't matter' that they then ceased to exist for ever ?
If however He created what had to be destroyed and what at the same time was made in His image, how is it in His image at all ? Yet if, as is the case, it is defiled through the very power which arrived from being made in His image, choice for evil if so desired, then that defilement is to suffer itself to be yet superior to those who do not receive Him, so that while fallen from His presence, it is, or those who are such, are yet categorically so fine that they can see what the others do not, and choose God ?
Does this then imply that they were created superior in the beginning, and if some, why not all (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri 16)? and if not, from what resource but from God did they gain the difference ? and how would it be love in God so to make the inferior when there is no principle involved, as if the whole lot were of no special consequence, and the whole thing merely a celestial production episode ?
Yet if it is really in His image, that is, in line with scope to know Him, and to operate as a friend of God, to be loved and to love, and hence to be free in essence, sin apart, then how could it be inconsequential what became of any one of these creations ?
Would He not -
if unselfish, and not indulging in a suffering program in defilement of His own nature as we have seen, one where there were really no rules, but on the contrary really acted to make man in His image -
be most concerned for the same, and be willing to go through the very teeth of the winds of horror, to rescue such beings ? and this without sovereignly aborting all sense of their liberty, for love is not by command, nor is it meretricious by fiat.
So it is as light shows: God does love, God did make in His own image, God was not selfish, God did commit Himself utterly to rescue and remedy, He even suffered Himself in that transcendent way where utter purity meets crass sin, and He bore it for all who would come to Him. He did not bear it foolishly for all who would not bear it, for how is it to be borne which does not come, or paid for which is not shed, or cancelled by payment which remains, as He said: If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins! (John 8).
This however, once again, is precisely the case put in the Bible: those in Isaiah 53 who are HEALED, and the same "we" whose sins He bore are identical. IF He bore your sins in particular, THEN you are healed. IF He did not, then in predestinative realms, YOU are the non-recipient of His love and this, as He does not change, is PRECISELY because in His foreknowledge of YOU (Ephesians 1:4, Rmoans 8:29ff.), HE found you not willing! YOUR will is cited by Him in the very face of HIS WILLINGNESS. He does not deny Himself in affirming any; and where love is alien in the end, then salvation is absent to the end.
The love, the care, the concern, the payment, the sovereign selection IN love, the absence of any differential in man to enable it to be conceived as a mere production of better things chosen by God from worse ones, and so not love but self-indulgence: it is all of one piece, a seamless robe of consistency and warmth, with nothing vulnerable, and everything sustainable, filled with light. No one else could do this, for no one else has the power plus knowledge with which so to transcend man without violating him, and so to forgive man without violating justice.
Thus, though many become (justifiably) concerned when they learn of this just work of God, in this, that they feel that this means He did not really LOVE ALL, so that He did not bother to select some, and so did not sovereignly act for their redemption, this is not the biblical case, and so does not relate except for some other religion. It is however of this, its summit in Christ, of which we speak, and Him whom one must praise. It is here that the action and the composition live.
Such concepts then as His not so loving ALL in His outgoing beauty of lovingkindess (Titus 2:11, 3:4, Colossians 1:19ff.), ALL men, MAN, as we see it in Titus, ALL THINGS in heaven or on earth, as in Colossians, would indeed be a confusion; but it is not with God, but man that this arrives.
It is the same, regarding the will to "choose God", which as noted above would mean that some were made better in the bases and perceptions that led to insights and action. NEITHER can man "choose God" as the ground of coming (John 1:12, Romans 9:16, John 15), nor does God fail to love all and to provide what is SUFFICIENT for the redemption of all (I John 2:2), though NOT PAID except, of course, for those who take the "cheque" so that the "funds" change hands! Thus in Romans 8:32, we find that those for whom He is delivered up (on the Cross) are precisely those who, without qualification, have all there is, heaven and inheritance of eternal life, and in Isaiah 53, those for whom He is delivered up are precisely those who are healed. His love is prodigious but not prodigal; it surrounds all and is adequate for them, but where it is despised to the uttermost, even as before and in His own knowledge, then in grief is the lost left, and though Christ wept, He does not change, does not make of His love a tyranny so that heaven itself would loose its moorings, and be no more.
It is all coherent, and there is no flaw in it; but to achieve this logical paradise, there had to be a departure from actual paradise on the part of Christ, so that the love would be sufficient for all as in Colossians 1:19ff. quite expressly, and a payment, so that it would be sufficient for all who receive it, and a sovereign action in terms of precisely this love, so that it would NOT depend on inherent superiority of any, which as noted, would reflect on the love of the Creator for those not so endowed.
It sings, it also carols; and it needs to be seen in its various facets, now this emphasis, now this point of departure, again and again, for man has shown such intemperance in seizing one aspect or another, to the virtual exclusion of the multi-faceted reality.
Again, for there is no end to its perfections in scope and harmony, in coverage and beauty, the cover is so great and total, that great as any sin might be of any who come to Him, it is not too great to be cancelled (I Timothy 1:12-17). When Christ died, there was no end to the total adequacy of the death of the Infinite One, for the finite; and when He rose, there was no end to the infinite cover in power over death, secured for His own.
The power is of God, the suffering is of God, the payment is by God, the restoration is from the Lord, as One who opens a prison. It is by grace, and not of works. It is even a gift BY GRACE (Romans 5:15), so that content and mode of deployment alike are non-meritorious in every phase and grade, mode and manner for the recipient.
In love, it could not be otherwise. Let us rehearse it then.
It is not of the will of the flesh, which is incapable of such a willingness, being alienated from the life of God, and all in this regard, are in the same condition; and indeed, blind and is natural man, is not impressed with spiritual things (I Corinthians 2:14). He is alien to them and they are alien to him.
So blind is the unconverted man, that some, seeking to profit by these things without real repentance, might merely trifle with them for psychological, or emotional gain, and many are those "evangelists" in name only, who play on such things, so that the love of God is not predominant, 'repentance' is method and salvation is a trophy, rather than the sinner being a trophy of grace.
It is with all the heart that the love is to be by the first commandment, so that heaven will not have self-fulfilment freaks. There are no ulterior motives. God is a Spirit and spiritual duplicity or double-mindedness do not relate: a cause of much suffering for many, no doubt. Yet not only is this a great relief - for he who saves his life will lose it, Christ affirmed (Matthew 17), but it is in principal part of the scriptural statement that NONE WILL BE ABLE TO BOAST (Ephesians 2, Romans 3:23ff.).
No one can be so canny as to USE GOD! It is we who are to become HIS servants, delighting so to be out of love engendered from His own (I John 4:9-10, 4:11). There is not even any place for some to say that they were superior and merited selection for this reason, that they loved God the more. It is only when love is in its transformative place and so placed in the heart of man, that it acts, moves and operates in that reality which is the very love of God, purged from the confines of flesh. NOT, says John, that we loved God but that He loved us.
Some might seek to profit from Christ in some other way, without predominant love; some, if not manipulative, then too proud, or too clever, might subtly be seeking to make the Gospel different, as has been common in the last 100 years especially, until the fearful falling into the hands of the living God supervenes at length, when the spirit fails in man (Hebrews 10:29-31).
These are the affairs of eternity, of God, of the celestial realities.
Spiritual things do not just "go away". Being in the image of God, man can have a magnificence of friendship with the Almighty, through the passion of the self-humiliating Christ, who delighted to do what was needed because of His great love of which Titus speaks in Chs. 2 and 3, as noted (cf. Joyful Jottings 22). Mankind also has liability to a contempt for the preference of darkness, confounded, unfounded, flirtation with folly; but not because of education or other oddment; for many indeed from the WORST of educations are found becoming outstanding Christians, whether the 'badness' of the education was its slenderness or its perversity, as in some seminaries!
Spiritual things are real, and do not fade, except into the dimness of perversity, when their due fruits accrue. Even here, however, since it is God who in His love reaches whom love will, not acting the despot - for how could you BE despotic in LOVE! - then there are no mistakes, there is no omission. Where a person ends is not an accident or incident, but the ultimate result in the hands of One who WOULD have all repent and come to a knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2).
He not only WOULD have it so, He CAME to provide for it to be so, DIED to pay for it to be so, ROSE to show it is so, and to eternity it is freedom in love, and love in freedom which bounds upward like everlasting springs (cf. Ephesians 3:14ff., John 4:14ff., 7:37, Revelation 3:9). When men in their philosophies change the statements of the text of the Bible, as they often do from the Liberal left in order to make man more important, or the astringent right, to make man irrelevant in his will altogether, even in the eyes of God who oppositely declares times almost without number, both directly and indirectly (cf. Marvels of Predestination ... Predestination and Freewill), they merely illustrate the perfection of the Biblical propositions.
These, they CANNOT be bent either this way or that, but in the hands of God, so they are and so they operate. Then the logical supremacy is but one aspect: the infallible is the indefeasible, the indefeasible the acme of precision.
You cannot touch it, just as it is not recommended to touch E=MC2, since it is rather intricately discovered. And even if you could, yet it serves as an illustration in its comparative sophistication, of the standing perfection of God's own word: alter it and you hit the muck. Adhere to it, and all is well. It is simply an empirical fact: that is the way it goes. What would you expect ? When it is God who speaks, would you anticipate man to be able to burrow into those depths ? He can but admire, and receive it. So it is verified in this also, as always in all things.
The celestial is pure, is poured out in love, but never becomes grimy. Even gaunt, in horrific marring, Christ is pure and as in God there is a profundity of purity in peace which is infinite in scope and consummate in perfection, so does it communicate itself to His people who knowing Him (John 17:3), experience something of the beauty of His holiness. It is like the atmosphere of some deep lake, the waters lapping in a lively quietness, the wind soughing in kindness above, to His people; for it is not the flesh but the spirit which is the criterion.
The earthiness of man’s ceaseless inventions of gods who are not there, of goads that are unworthy of thought, this stirs him but sticks to him like clay, an enduement troublesome as impure, and the more he seeks to be free, the worse is his begriming.
The earth is to be found delightful only when one’s domain is in heaven (Ephesians 2:6); for it is from there it came, and to that place that one must repair not only for peace of mind, as it was made to find, not merely for purity of heart, its necessary inheritance to be functional in its designed holiness, not even solely for the mercy without which God cannot even be known: but for truth. Without this, man is a derelict on earth, in it and of it. With it, and following it to its criterion of the cross, man finds that the sublime shines as the setting sun on the last, coloured relics of the day; and follows the sun of righteousness daily in the warmth and loveliness of its lofty sufficiencies and glorious power.
THE HARBOUR OF HOLINESS
This, it is living with God;
¨ and when this earth is gone (Matthew 24:35),
¨ and when this format of flesh is departed (II Corinthians 4:14-5:8),
¨ and when the Lord has returned to disperse shame and glory (Matthew 25:31ff.), when the freshness of Spring inhabits the glorious enshrinement of everlasting life in a new body,
¨ when the general resurrection is past,
¨ when sorrows and griefs have flown away (REVELATION 21:4), the tenderness of youth in its newness is replaced by an everlasting Summer of light and loveliness (Psalm 110, I Corinthians 15:42-58),
¨ when the Creator Himself is known and seen, the Lord Jesus face to face in His glorious repose (Revelation 7:14-17), His arresting power and His gleaming wisdom, the summit of peace who has in Himself the episodic wonder of creation yet without sin, the original of mankind and the salvation of men (John 8:58, Colossians 1:15ff.), yes of women and children:
then eternal life in full flush, heaven in its majesty brings the originality of the Designer, the energy of the Maker and the heart of the Saviour to those fashioned in faith beforehand.
Then does that eternal life which God who does not lie, and who has promised it, and manifested it according to the sure knowledge expressed in Christ and inspired into the apostles (I Cor. 2:9-13, Titus 1:1-3), bless those with everlasting joy upon their heads (Isaiah 51:11), the ardour of unlimited truth revealed to them in unmitigated splendour (I Corinthians 13:9-13); for now the sufferings of trial, the pains of performance with the patience of prayer have found their eternal harbour.
*1 See on this, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, TMR Ch. 3 and for Isaiah, With Heart and Soul ... Chs. 4-7 especially, and on Psalms, Joyful Jottings 22-25.
*2 A short citation from Barbs, Arrows and Balms is given for ready expansion in this field. It is slightly adapted, and extended for this presentation.
Potency unchanged in the changeless
prescriptions of the changeless Christ
As for God, as demonstrated in Chapter 1, SMR, He is no grossly squirming, tormented molester of His works, creating them for deception while He acts out in their lives - the lives of His creatures - the restless inferiorities of His own nature. There being no inferiorities in His own nature, there is no restlessness, yearning or seeking or turning for the desired, but unattained: as we have already pointed out.
Here we must pause a moment to consider the godless character of such a conception, not merely to remind ourselves that it is excluded from logical possibility, for the Creator, but to consider the implications for those of this ilk who are creatures. Instead of realising potential with delight, growing with joy, achieving - with fulfilment of divinely composed task-equipment: people, through ambition or fear, may worry and weary out their folly in a defilement of the wonder of life... before, as here, seeking to project their own incompetent aspirations, impiously, impudently and irrationally onto their Creator. IN OTHER WORDS, people often harass themselves into a morass, a bog of folly, and then preposterously try to imagine their God is either as impotent or as impure as they. But let us revert.
There are, we said, no inferiorities or restless elements in the nature of God; this is to
affirm what we have reasoned in Chapter 1, as being clearly the case. To what would they be inferior ? To His own standards ? If so, then He would have instituted aspects, standards not in harmony with His capacities or will or both; so that there would be inability, instability and limits, constitutive limits, so that HE would be created: for how else would He receive such limits! Since He is NOT created, this One of whom we speak, such conditions and qualities are logically impossible for Him, a simple contradiction in terms.
To extract this or that from His creation, when to it has come ALL in its environment, internal and external, being and conditions, is a purpose twice illogical, if attributed to God. First, there is NOTHING THERE which he did not put in, including the system in which it all works. He would be extracting His input! Second, IF He needed something, or thought He did from His creation, to fulfil, complete, advance Himself, or whatever, then without the creation He would be inadequate, circumscribed, limited in Himself, qualitatively incompetent, incomplete, immature, undeveloped. But if THIS were so, then to God would be attributed the same conditions, limitations or growth phenomena, potential to actual, as we, being created, have as our gift, our dower, the manner in which we live. It would in that case be simply imagined that He was in a growth phase, in a deficiency mode, and would again simply require us to find HIS creator.
Since however it is of the creator that we speak, this simply means that this imaginative concept about His inadequacy, this also, is a contradiction in terms. What He is, He does, and to this opposes nothing, nullity its name...
for what can oppose Him! no self, and therefore no contrariness of the same, nor any
self-contradiction, for from what source does what opposes Him find itself the creation?
Or what will alter Him who is both changeless and omnipotent!
Or what consideration or mitigation is not already composed before action and what plan is
without its due refinement before release; and indeed what time can span Him or His actions
who made time, and is beyond its limitations!
Or what would contrive to contravene His deeds, assault His counsel, subdue His thought,
assail His actions, or manage to give utterance to assault on His name, by His word, in the
vexation of war, the penetration of negation! or what, spewed from nothing would obstruct,
for nullity has nowhere from which to send, nor yet anything to disperse!
Or what brakes hinder the progress of His determinate will ? for there is no variability, no
situation, no longing, no frustration, no hidden desire, no self-alienation for there is no self
or other character to direct Him in distinction from His own Spirit, or in dysfunction from His
desire: for of all these things there is no example, nor for them logically any possible place.
To God belongs power, capacity; and nothing at all limits Him in any way, whether conceived as internal resistance or external.
How aptly speaks the word of God on this point, and it is wise to consider it which is true:
"The cattle on a thousand hills...", He says, "are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine, and all its fulness."
Nor is there any question, in that supreme nature of God, of embattled or embittered psychic components, alert to project themselves into a quarrel with the texture of His creatures: there is no way His words will work against His deeds. For God, truth is as sure as His Being. For confirmation and pith, let us note again, the Scripture says: God ... cannot lie.
What glorious inability; what omnipotent incapacity!
How we learn the supernal nature of omnipotence!: it does not deny itself. If it did, it would not be omnipotent, but a writhing system, contorted in its set conditions: and set, one must ask, by whom? Only by God; and since this is He, then not set for Him.
He sets what He will and makes all what He would, there being no source or strength for any other action in despite of this. That is the nature of the Almighty, as we have seen at length. Necessarily the case, it is also given by revelation as we see.
So does God confirm with His word, the light which He has given us, the latter subordinate, the former inordinate, all harmonious.
We may add, for the sake of completeness, that it is also of necessity true that God is no experimenter, vivisecting His toiling creation - His pressured products - while gaining more knowledge for future divine exploits. He already knows all, as shown in Chapter 1. This is merely one sub-case of what has already been shown to be impossible.
Neither morally nor intellectually does God's very nature allow, then, alliance with lies. Accordingly, He has spoken His truth, His word, His remedy - provided His Redeemer to man, Jesus Christ, one infinitely pure, wholly efficacious. Creation is not a covert operation for divine growth, development, catharsis or deception. In confirmation, what does the Scripture say: God does "not willingly afflict the children of men'' (Lamentations ); "Thy word is truth'' (John ). It is good in this Chapter of John, to see this; as well as to reason to it, as we do and have done.
Yet there is more. God is lie-less, we have earlier shown; but truth also has in Him its only possible basis, an emphasis of Chapter 3, above. In fact, without God, truth does not exist. (Incidentally, this leads to the delightful absurdities that afflict the atheist - and as we see, the agnostic. If God did not exist, then, we would not truly say that He did not exist; for truth would not be available with which to say any such thing. No statement that He does not exist is logically possible even in terms of self-consistency. The atheist is at once in a bog of confusion.