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STEADY ON THERE BROTHER! Whose Church is it ?
Steady on there brother! WHOSE Church is it ? and who is
its LORD ? and what does He say! and what is that which does other ?
ADOPTED AND ACTUAL CHRISTIANITY
The point is this, that it is not some nation which ADOPTED Christianity which rules the roost, or some PONTIFF who DIRECTS Christianity who is its LORD, nor is it some philosophy which INFILTRATES Christianity which is its boss, nor again, is it some new-look THEOLOGY, frank in its open face and dark of heart, subverting the truth with practical USES for Christianity, to which we can look.
It is to Christ, whose name it bears, without whom it is mere alteration of Judaism, not its fulfilment, that we look in considering its character. As for Him, He looked to His Father (John -50) who gave Him COMMANDMENT what He should say, and who NEVER left Him alone (John ), indeed who SENT Him (John ). In so doing, He used the SCRIPTURE of the Old Testament with utter reliance and assurance as in the conflict with Satan in the temptation in the wilderness preceding His Messianic Ministry (Matthew 4), this being entirely decisive. Man, said the Lord, shall not live by bread alone but BY EVERY WORD (grammatical unit) which proceeds out of the mouth of God.
Not merely so, but EVERY JOT AND TITTLE (cf. SMR Appendix D) has constraint, and will come to fruition, fulfilment.
we read of some often fine remarks from a Bishop in
Thus he states this that Christians are not better than others, that Muslims are no worse, and he declares "professing Christians have done some terrible things." The latter is true, of course, when you consider just as one example King David's machinations in that nadir of his career, when he took another man's wife by means the more shocking for their abuse of power! However this one example, comes near to the first and the last! David's purity of heart, consistency of character, love of God, sacrificial efforts to forward the kingdom of God, love of his fellows and provisions for the kingdom are utterly outstanding, and perhaps most delightful of all, is this.
He could come with contrition after error, or with seeking after spiritual draining, and seek God with all the simplicity of a child, the desire of maturity and the delight of that inward knowledge without which Christianity is mere form. It is itself the fruition from those roots in the Old Testament period, no new insurgency, but a designate completion predicted from the first, consummated at the last (cf. TMR Ch. 3, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17). A humble and a contrite heart is no excuse for error, but it certainly is lovely rather than a seethingly hypocritical one, when error is made and pardon is sought, with cleansing that is utter and deep (cf. Isaiah 57:15, 66:1-4).
However there is an issue which needs settling at once. The Bible is very clear in I John 3:9 for example, where it is NOT the occurrence of sin but its PRACTICE, grammatically, which is excluded as a characteristic of the Christian. This is not some odd doctrine of holiness but the avoidance of some odd doctrine of UNHOLINESS. Of course the Christian has not yet apprehended (as in Philippians 2-3), is not yet perfect, merely is being self-deceptive if imaging that sin is not present; but equally, to allow KNOWN sin to govern you is wholly contrary to Romans 6, and its purgation in the sacrificial symbolisms and provisions for clean and unclean is as intense as Ephesians 5 in its inveighing against the works of flesh and darkness.
BE YE HOLY AS I AM HOLY is not an eccentric suggestion (I Peter , Leviticus , Matthew -48), any more than it is a complete attainment: it is however a sense of aspiration which delivers the power of God to the purposes of God, which are not mere phantoms, but facts.
Often people will say that they COULD not do this or that, that there was NO WAY. How ludicrous this is, when it is a case of the commandments of God! The wisdom and the power of God is to be found in Christ Jesus (I Corinthians 1:25ff.), and any thought of CANNOT is faithless to start with; but any thought that something is impossible WITH divine aid as much as it takes, is as bad as the other, if not worse. Miracles are not ONLY beyond nature events from the supernatural source direct. They are also supernatural intimacies which strengthen the heart, illuminate the mind , revive the will, and at the same time open the door of opportunity psychically, mentally, spiritually or physically. God is personal and to persons His ways are personal, often intimate in graces which transform the understanding and transmute utterly the desires.
It is not
that the lesser finds some way of transforming itself (a chameleon has limited
powers of self-change, but actually the power to do it is inherent from the
first, within the creature itself!), in this case. It is that GOD Himself can
lift the perception, the conception, the comprehension and the aspiration to
what is becoming to man, not some higher instead of lower within the person,
but what is the actual environment for which man is made, ultimately Himself,
instead of puttering about in the mere stage settings! You see something of
this as II Corinthians 4 turns into Ch. 5!
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
proceeds to talk of the nature of the resurrection inheritance; but this is the
In fact, Ephesians 1:19 tells us frankly that right now the power of God which raised Christ from the dead is available for the work of the Lord.
There is no limit according to need: if as with Elijah, through lack of helpers one is virtually alone, then the supernatural power of God is not compromised by that (cf. Mark ). If on the other hand, there is a good supply of Christian workers (and what Christian does not work, for the night is coming when no one can work!), the Lord may alert and relate them as a team; but it is still He who brings to pass the miracle of His choice, as He will. It is divine power in such a case. It is the body of Christ in which the Head rules which receives, in one member or the whole, circumstances not the criterion but the adjunct, the work of God.
This is where the Lord is, in His body the fulness of Him who
fills all in all (Eph. ). What however may
occur in this world, using the name of the Lord, of His church, of His people ?
OTHER LORDS ? IN HIS CHURCH, NONE!
may indeed be invasions of the
For example, talking of Church of England, the ludicrous character of having a national church in which the ultimate rule is not professing Christians who follow the word of God, but some partly political power structure, a thing not per se limited to Christ, is found merely by contrasting this situation with Matthew 23:8-10. It cannot be. It is as anomalous as an acid acting as an alkali.
WHEN it is,
however, a body called a church, of this type, whether for political security
or other reasons, arising in past centuries when
Thus when the Church of England was party to heinous assaults on Scotch Presbyterians in the 17th century, not once, but in vicious and inhuman invasions of hearth and home, church and State; when Christians could be sought as if dogs by guns, in the woods, or put in cages for not conforming to this actually erroneously run body, this politics using the Church: then there was indeed a case of "terrible things." Rome has been far worse for far longer, but whenever what is CALLED the Church is captured by something extraneous, things of enormity may well happen, when it be nation or pope*1.
It has however this to do with Christianity, the religion of Jesus Christ, and His PRESCRIPTIONS for HIS Church: NOTHING!
That is the first clarification*1A. The second follows. ARE Christians no better than Moslems ? To assert his is a good exercise in humility, perhaps, but it is not for us to pass judgment where the Lord has spoken, if we are His. Is a Nazi solider worse than a British one in World War II ? In certain ways, at least, most assuredly he is. Let us work for the example, on a Christian set of morals. The German Nazi would be OPENLY COMMITTED to the delusions of a mass murderer, whose unscrupulous and irrational religion (his ultimate recourse and designated power source) is as harsh and unfeeling, as proudly voracious of men and machinery as an earth-quake. BEING so committed is IN ITSELF FAR worse than being committed to the attainment of justice and liberty, even if these lack definition.
There may be individuals on both sides whose OTHER qualities, to be sure, may differ in the opposite direction. Some Nazi, quite contrary to the PHILOSOPHY on which the thing was run, may happen to be an astonishingly thoughtful and humane man personally; but he is GIVEN UP to orders of a totally different kind and is pushing in a mass of humans for the success of such evils. In this overall fact, he is immersed in evil in a distinctive way and is worse. The ULTIMATE aim is worse; its success would be worse; the springs of relevant martial action, substantial and flagrant in the conflict setting, are worse.
Now let us move to Christ Himself. HE said that Christians are the LIGHT of the world, the salt of the earth. It is not automatic, certainly; but it is the NATURE of the case for those who actually do know God and worship Him in spirit and in truth; and the nature of Christians in this case, for comparison with the BOSS of the whole Christian Church, must be considered as given.
Is the light of the world, which must shine in darkness (Matthew -14, Philippians ) as black as darkness, and hence in this realisation, as dark ? Scarcely, for its office is for darkness to flee from it, as it does from light. That is the office and functions described in the Bible categorically. For the Lord's people, their failures are not endemic and pandemic AS CHRISTIANS; for this is contrary to the definition (Romans 6, I John 3:9), the dynamic and the indwelling reality of Christ Himself, who being alive, makes His presence transformingly felt (Romans 8:9-11).
Certainly they fall short; but they are characterisable, and are characterised. This is the doctrine; it is the dealing of the divine, when you know Him. It matches like a perfect tartan, difficult to envisage, marvellous when it is ... right!
Who is this then who says they are not better as light, than is darkness, as salt than is non salt ? What is this mission that people should share in darkness, masquerading as light, which is indeed no better! Is that then the teaching ?
Or is it rather this, which IS sound, that Christians are NOT chosen for the sake of their more meritorious beings, as conceived prior to conversion (certainly they have no more merit for none before God has any, without reconciliation, being alien from Himself - Ephesians 2, 4:17-19). That would be nonsense. As PEOPLE, they are no better.
However, when they are saved, reconciled, have the Holy Spirit living within them, recognise the nature of love therefore, since God is love, and this IS eternal life that one should know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (Titus 3:5-7, I Cor. 13, John 17:1-3, II Cor. 5:17ff.); and when they have the light of the Lord in them, so that in His light they see light (Psalm 36:9), have the victory through faith (I John 5:4): when in short they are converted, then two things happen in the realm of the person and the spirit that is his. First, there is no question of perfection (Philippians 2-3). Nor yet is there any question of non-transformation, non-illumination, lack of personal power through faith from Christ Himself, overcoming.
That sort of doctrine has nothing to do with the Christianity of the Christ, who is Head of the Church (and there is NO OTHER HEAD!). We may consider in our next chapter the nature of growth, growing pains and the like; but this is the first basic thrust of scriptural doctrine and spiritual life to the point. This is the character of the thing, the result of the light in the light-house which having such a light, perforce, as sure as His reality is there, makes it a better light-house than the one which shines forth its message with darkness in some way slightly visible!
There is always, of course, the spiritual nature of things. Thus to be proud and most productive makes the works vain and foibles, not a light at all. To be hungry for praise, makes the work self-centred and so unspiritual; indeed Christ make a zealous exclusion zone here! (cf. John 5:44).
It is not the AMOUNT of THINGS you DO (cf. Romans 10:1ff.), but the spirit in which you do them; it is not the quantity of vainglory you store up, your deeds as white as pitch, as wholesome as a rotten tomato, though much praised by men (cf. Luke 16:15ff.):
"And He said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the
has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.' " kingdomof God
Even in the world at large, there are many who WANT certain real modesties, real reliance on something greater than the mere sinful human being in view or in question, and find nauseous the glaring falsities of the 'so very humble' posturings of those whose chief admiration perhaps, is from themselves!
As so often, there is readily seen a spiritual reason for this, since we are made in the image of God even when sin distorts this. There is a NATURAL, construction-made desire NOT to see people act as if they were something, as if they had invented themselves by great eclat and flair; since whatever the theoretical pretence or pretension, that is not the case: Psalm 100 is still true and its doctrine that it is not we who made ourselves, but God who made us. Hence even in the darkness of confusion, man may instinctively wish not to see the flagrancy of metaphysical folly exposed at the ethical level. We are marked with the brick stamp of our Creator, whether we like it or not; and the facts are louder than the foolish dreams of the God haters, God neglecters or god inventors.
THAT BETTER THING - IT IS HE
To have some other head is to ask for anomaly*1B. Earth or heaven knows ONLY ONE master and head (Matthew 23:8-10, Ephesians 2, 4). Thus this statement about the ethical equivalence of the Christian and the Moslem or whatever, is fallacious.
In what way is this so ? It is mixing the intrinsic equality of all OUTSIDE Christ in this, that they do not know God and have in that no merit before Him at all, with the fact that once you have Christ, HE HAS YOU, and as an implement of His, even imperfect, but still grasped and used, seeking to apprehend with all your heart that for which He has apprehended you, you are in very other hands. Then there is a difference so radical, a light so powerful, a wisdom so superb now available and operative, operative within you, that faults or no faults, there is something MOST MARKEDLY BETTER.
It is not "in my flesh", to be sure; for as Paul declares in Romans 7, in my flesh is no good thing. It is however in the transformation worked by, inhabited through and continually burnished by Christ (II Cor. ), a very great better thing. It is Christ the light of the world without whom its inhabitants WALK IN DARKNESS. That is the teaching of Christ. It is not merely TALKING in darkness or light, but WALKING in it which is the biblical program (Galatians , John , Ephesians 5:8).
No more are personal morals self-made or world-crafted; or is personal spiritual life. These things are now made in heaven and exported to earth, working with the power of Him who works in us BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO (Philippians ).
That is better, since Christ is better than unconverted Moslem or unconverted merely formal church-goer, for that matter, who does not have this Christ. He is better in this, that there is active within him an operative principle which is beyond ALL, himself, the Moslem and any.
It is better in principle; it is better in power; it is better in practice since the principles are better, like even a slow sheep dog doing better when at least it is moving in the RIGHT DIRECTION! The values are spiritual, the power is that of Christ, and the results are not like the stink tree*2A, that amazingly corpse-like odiferous horror, but far more like the One from whom the life is given. The vine does, after all, much shape the branch! (cf. John 15).
Now it is true that the Bishop does make some point here. He refers to the evil jihad wars which make a mess of the Muslim cause. This is true. This is admitted. This has some relevance. However the flat statement that the Moslem is no worse than the Christian is false for the reasons above stated. It is not a humanly contrived difference, not is it merely the presence or absence of jihad. It is the presence or absence of CHRIST, the wisdom of God and the power of God which is the difference.
There is however a lesson here, and let us focus it. IF you as a so-called Christian are living in such a way that the principles of this world, the philosophies (even!) of this world and the power of this world are your ACTUAL recourse and resource, then you appear as a fake, a fraud. You may not be a conscious hypocrite by any means, and you may indeed do much to try to accomplish something for Christ; but if you do not KNOW Christ and the power of His life, then He is not in you; and if He is not in you, then you are no Christian and that by the word expressly of St Paul in Romans 8:9.
Now some may wish to quash this sort of talk. Certainly, it should not be confused with that other awful error, of imaging that your fruit is your passport to heaven; CHRIST, the wisdom and power of God is your passport to heaven, if you ARE saved (Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-8, Titus 3:4ff.,Galatians 5), without ANY addition of works of ANY kind! That is the biblical teaching, what goes in the church of which Christ is the head: that is, the Christian Church.
However this is not the point: THAT is a question,
That is one thing.
This is another:
A national church might wish to encourage all and sundry to be some sort of Christian with some sort of connection to some sort of church in some sort of way. This is nothing to do with Christianity. Again a distinction is necessary. We are not discussing mass estimations of individuals in terms of their churches; we are discussing the nature of churches when they, in principle as one whole, depart from the biblical teaching, and to what extent, if any, such can rightly be called churches; and even if in some sense they might be, to what extent actions on those false principles allow just claim to the term 'Christian'.
If, to take a case, Peter takes up his sword and seeks to defend Christ, is that right ? No, for Christ said it is not. If you cannot defend Christ with the sword, how can his church do so, that which is His body!
Certainly a nation may defend itself, but then we are discussing something else, the CHRISTIAN CHURCH. (Cf. John 18:36, Matthew 26:52-53). It is run on very different principle, and to Pilate Christ also makes it clear; for in that case, it was presented that Christ's Kingdom (there, you see a Kingdom and a King) is NOT OF THIS WORLD. That is precisely WHY His servants do not fight. HIS body does not so act, whether the body concerned does so, as in Romanism, or some of the episodes against the Scotch Presbyterians on the part of Anglicanism.
Nor are we considering who is a Christian in these terms individually; that is Christ's business. We are, recall, talking of but ONE THING: what is the church, or better, WHOSE IS IT! When that is clear, the peripheral questions could be considered, but this is not here our major task. If you are playing cricket, it is one thing to estimate the value of the players, or their moral worth; and it is quite another to consider who IS and who is NOT playing that particular sport, which has the name 'cricket'.
Here we are considering what is the CHURCH in biblical definition, what does it DO, and what does it NOT DO, and where can it not BE. The Presbyterians were absolutely right in this, that they insisted to the uttermost (this is not to include physical force) that they should be able to call their own pastors so that they should be sought for as primarily godly men. This was to be the criterion for selection, not their being king's appointees; for who knows what cute or astute political purpose may lie in his decisions or those of the realm! for after all, a nation has its own sometimes variable goals...
insistence, the Scottish Presbyterians were heavily persecuted, just as many
Anglicans were persecuted by
E. H. Broadbent in his work, The Pilgrim Church has some observations of interest in this connection. This in turn brings out some fascinating thought concerning the Chinese Three Self Church, which being a State invention, of pagan philosophy in its own heart, and foisted on the people, is rather worse than the Anglican error, for there many would doubtless have some sort of Christian faith, and at best, there could be some measure of corporeity in Christ; but in the Chinese case, it is categorically antichristian in origin, and brings this error of England to its ultimate extreme!*2
When, then, this being clear, we refer to the actions of Christians, let us know of what we speak. We are speaking of those who are in Christ's Church, with its principles, only Head and rule, with its word of God, and with its salty nature as a consequence. Christians are Christ-defined persons; and so is the Church a body defined by Him and His apostles, on which the church is built (Ephesians ), Christ Himself the foundation (I Corinthians , Isaiah 28:16).
As the Gospel is that which even at the time of the epistle to the Galatians COULD NOT BE ALTERED, because as Paul declares (Galatians 1:9-10), it is God-given: so also the Church cannot be changed. It IS what has Christ ONLY as Head of it, governor of it, and His word as its principles without philosophic addition or secretion, personal potentate or ruler, or cultural occlusion and confusion. ITS MESSAGE IS FIXED, ITS GOSPEL IS GOVERNED BY GOD, FROM WHOSE LOVING MIND IT HAS COME, apparent from the ages before, more and more revealed until the coming of Christ brought its necessary payment, and made of it an accomplished thing! (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, TMR Ch.3 ).
Is then only perfection to be found in this legitimate Christian Church ? To be sure, in this Age if you did find what is perfect, it would not be the Christian Church! No, that should by now be quite clear. What is it then ? It is what in PRINCIPLE is committed to the Bible as the only source of doctrine, Christ as the only governing Head, the performance of His word as a matter far surpassing all other action considerations, and knowing God seeks Him with all the heart, to love Him with heart and soul, mind and strength.
What however, you may ask, of the spiritual weakling ? First, IS he spiritual or is he merely an add-on ? Let us take the former case. Someone has foundered on some rock, his timbers are strewn in the waters of life, and he is disconsolate (consider Psalm 51 here, for the sight of David in such a case, from his own sin, of course). Very well, if he is in some sound church, then the pastor or elders or friends in the congregation should be able to show him the way up and on, help him arise, while CHRIST WITHIN HIM (and there is no Christian as Romans 8:9 tells us, where this is not the case), moves with His own inimitable power, and light.
The 'illness' make take some time, and the abasement some time to be complete, for humiliation is what Christ suffered FOR others, vicariously; and it may be that for their own sins, some must suffer in such a way, for a time, as David did with Absolam! However, to be broken in spirit and contrite in heart is not really so very weak. As Paul puts it, when I am WEAK, then I am STRONG! (II Corinthians 12:9-10). It is because one has learned, or is being RE-taught not in any way to trust in oneself (II Corinthians 1:8-11), that one is weak.
WHEN one learns that lesson, then relying on the Lord entirely makes one so very much more usable, that HIS strength may so much more be shown! Indeed, as one learns in practical dynamics of life to WAIT on Him (Isaiah 40:26ff.), then the strength supplied is indeed like that of eagles, as promised! That too, it is verifiable. It is not an alarm clock timing; it is an inter-personal relationship.
No, the various sniffles and difficulties which afflict
Christians do nothing to prevent the fact - as in a school - that while some
are now sick with this or that, and some are bloodied with this or that fall,
yet as one whole the school is characterisable. So with the
SOME AWFUL FACTS
But let us now turn to some of the excellent things which he said.
example of the Prophet Muhammed in putting
earlier centuries, it was the doctrine of jihad that led to the conquest and
subjugation of Christian and Jewish populations in
This reminds us that Islam not only applied pressure by force, but was founded in its very exercise! Its exhortations as shown (cf. More Marvels ...Ch. 4), are indeed presented on occasion as the road to paradise through faithful WAR; and such works of aggression which lead as noted earlier, to second class conditions for other religionists quite readily, with death if they 'disobey' the conditions imposed, are among the intrusions of force into faith which have marred the history of this sin-inundated globe.
Again, the Bishop proceeds, "It is the same open profession of jihad that today drives the government of the Sudan (former host to Osama bin Laden) in a vicious Islamicisation and Arabisation of the African Christian population of the South."
Of these, he remarks, 2 million have been slaughtered; 4 million displaced.
Why then do the 'sensitive' international agencies not lament and mourn about this in some sort of proportion to their endeavours concerning Israel, concerning the Palestinians, their perennial brothers in arms (by word, so far, in this case, from 1947 on*3), or about Australian aborigines, many of whom MUST produce doubt as to whether ANY OTHER NATION not only does equal the resources supplied to these, but would even consider it ? Let us however be clear.
This is not to suggest for one moment that there is not more than could and should be done for many of these aborigines; but it is most decisively to indicate that for many of them, cumulative pensions invite not only a careless attitude - and there is no race or tribe or nation which is helped in any way by this, but the substantial absorption of drugs and beer. One speaks from some exact knowledge in so saying.
The point of all this however, is simply that the physical turmoil in this world is not its only problem of militantly misplaced zeal; there is a similar militancy in some of the zeal to correct, so that there is ism here and ism there, whether popular from the millions concerned, oil, or both;
The non-Christian alternatives, whether for example these be in Islam or humanism, international agencies and the like, are as unviable as any other vice, and as alien to the actual and obvious needs of mankind as any other betrayal. Man needs more than food; more than indolence guaranteed by pensions; more than slaughter if you do not (obviously hypocritically) change your 'faith', more than jihad if you try to have a tiny fraction of some internationally promised land (as in the case of Israel, compared not only with the original Palestine, but with the amount given to Jordan so freely by Britain in the early 1920s).
Alas, such things of such moral calibre and sleazy degradation not only inflame passions, but hope of those oppressing, if by any means they might freely add to their depredations and increase their already bloated holdings in this area!
Indeed one 'eminent person', from recall, once made the point
that in the days of apartheid in South Africa, massive sanctions would be used
to bring it to the desired change, whereas in the case of Russia at that time,
these would not be used, since in the former case the nation could be
intimidated perhaps, whereas in the latter there was no hope. Such godless
moral models are precisely what this world responds to, in its errant course,
its erratic sequences, its hostilities, prejudices, complaints; and they
themselves tend to thicken the flames in that whole nether area of passion,
corruption and revenge. The cure which corrodes is no exemption from rust, but
another father to it!
SOME AWEFUL FACTS
The Church of Jesus Christ, the one made of people who KNOW Christ and SO are Christians, who abide in Him, and so are governed, this is not something to compare idly with pagan failure, beset with arrant mysticism, articulated substitutes for testable truth, slaughterous invasions and invitations, and parleys about such behaviour. Indeed, these may even come to appear to this world's squinting eyes, as though it were natural if not necessary for peoples so to act, aided by 'negotiations' through arbitrators of passion, whose judgments seem frequently slender in hold on any objectivity, when major power groups are concerned.
Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God is the answer for all of these, first in finding their actual Creator; secondly in finding how to love their fellow citizens in the kingdom of God, and to seek those outside it; thirdly, in practising forgiveness; fourthly in providing a zest for justice, not dependent on absurd pretensions that the earth belongs to this world!; fifthly in exhibiting faithfulness and reasonableness; sixthly in seeking peace and pursuing it as far as may be; seventhly by keeping to the code of Christ which in the sermon on the mount, to mention just one exhibit, brings to this world precisely what it WILL NOT TAKE, but desperately needs, for so much as life!
It is as so often, the cure requires a transformation, and without that, it is rejected (as in John 3!). It will not have the power, the purity or the perception for this, without first finding the light and life of Christ; it COULD NOT SEE without His light, or PERFORM without His power.
Hence death occurs, and it is this which the world is facing. The evils mount in morality as predicted, it becoming questionable how far Australia has already coursed the way of Sodom, or the US or some other nations, yes and not only Western ones, for shamelessness is now the badge of maturity, if not the requirement of legality! Christ declared this, as seen Matthew 24:12, and as to love, except for the distorted version called lust, it is indeed growing cold, with the clangour of power group disputation the very acme of attainment. The results accrue on many fronts and judgment is one of these (Matthew 24:13ff., Revelation 6).
This is the setting for the much needed light to come from the actual Church of which Christ is head, and not from despoiled bodies called the church, occupied either literally or symbolically by enemy troops, or even in these facile days, enemy troupes, with false prophets, pastors or ... public relations consultants!
Yes, it is so quite literally: HOW to put a good face on some tragedy of morals in some body or other which has long forsaken the words, but not the name of Christ!
It is this kingdom which will come when all liberties have been exercised to the uttermost, and then, as often happens after wild excess, when they have in turn been excised as far as may be by dictatorial ... kindness; when all nations have been subjected, not to military force, but to the knowledge of the Gospel; after all hatred and all pride have mounted in contumacious arrogance to displace God Himself, in the last flutter of the foul and evil imagination of man (as in Genesis 6, when a different discipline was divinely wrought, namely the flood).
When it comes, this kingdom of Christ, this visible manifestation of His power on earth, of His ways so that the earth will in fact be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2;14), then you will find it as in Psalm 72. That ineffable kindness and infinite love of God which provided the Saviour for the salvation from sin, will provide Him for the kindness of Kingship. What then is to follow ? (cf. SMR pp. 502ff.). It is an eloquent testimony to the construction and spirit of sin, that EVEN THIS is not to convince many (Isaiah 26:10, Revelation 20:7ff.); and it is these who will finish the millenium*4 of demonstration of God's wonder in rule by Christ by rebelling outright. In this, they are seeking to overcome all, take all and have all that they did not create!
This robbery failing, the spiritual follies flailing with futility, the Age and even its Epilogue will end, heaven and earth fleeing for there is no place for them (Revelation 20:11); and thus, the whole episode called human history on this earth of trial, will end*5.
This will be, and the deposit of all the preliminaries which in amazing and constantly augmenting measure have already come to be, is to be noted and realised, yes and researched with zeal and meditation (Psalm 145); but the more important question for the casual reader is this: WHERE ARE YOU NOW ?
Where your spirit dwells is the tag of your placement, justly at that. If it dwells in Christ, you contribute now to beauty, and nobility, and self-control, and justice with mercy as in Proverbs 3; and you have Christ in you, in His unsearchable riches, as to be expected of the Word of God with whom He created all that IS created (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15ff., Isaiah 45). This is good. Further, you continue later where you come to be now, if in Christ, then with Christ. After all, if God be for you, who can be against you ? They can try, but not prevail; they can push, but not imperil (cf. John -28).
This world is no mere tragedy, but a preparation it is, a pilgrimage, a trial, an exposure, a conflict scene of many things: not so much flesh and blood, but what lies behind its movements, spiritual powers and principles and futures and conditions (Ephesians 6). It has, like the stories we write, meaning and significance, and the sun will not set on this earth the last time, before all the translation of spiritual things to the inhabitants, in salvation and in the gracious rule of the Messiah, is finished (cf. Psalm 72, Psalm 2, Isaiah 11, 65).
Overlooking these things is
neither practical, scientific, nor wise. Of course if you want to get rid of
God, which is what the UN in its distancing effectively acts to do, then yours
is a battle indeed. Then your attack becomes not merely the height of
ingratitude, but so arbitrary and irrational an assault, to displace the
Eternal One with your created arrogance, that one can only pity. One can then
empathise the more acutely, and understand the more deeply, why Christ
wept over Jerusalem, who, in the day of its visitation, kept its eyes tightly
closed (Luke 19:42ff., cf. Matthew 23:37).
*1 See on this SMR pp. 446, 1032-1088H, 912ff., 946ff., with Biblical BlessingsCh. 2.
The topic is State and Church. In fact, in
In fact, in
The Gospel is just the same these three millenia, and signified long before then (Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17). Do I now persuade men, or God, asks Paul! (Galatians 1). If he were in the former activity in this regard, he indicates, "I would not be a bondservant of Christ."
God, who invented the Gospel, before our sort of time existed, indeed it is eternal (Revelation 14:6, Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.), needs no persuasion of its justice and mercy.
Man, who needs it, does need persuasion, and only God Himself can conclude this in the heart of any man (John 8:29, Ephesians 2, John 15:16, Romans 9:14-18). The mercy is divine in providing it, appealing to all, seeking all (I Timothy 2); the failure to follow the way is like taking an auto leap from the end of a pier, instead of following the narrow but sure way provided.
It is not possible that there is fatal water below; it is certain. That, it is not the way, quite simply. God knows His own business. Unwise is he who takes that wheel.
The need is to call on the name of the Lord for His gracious salvation, in repentance and faith, and follow His way. THIS is His work (John , Ephesians 2, Titus 3, John 3). This is His way. He does not change (Malachi 3:6, James ).
New apostles are nothing novel in Christianity (II Corinthians 11), but their credentials are viewed as Paul viewed them: another Gospel, another Spirit, another Jesus. His irony is appalling, provocative but like he knife of the surgeon, necessary. Better fast removal of a cancer than death by it, any day!
This sort of innovation as reported, of course is putting the Primate in contest against Christ (John 14:6), but the records have nothing to cause concern. Christ wins. He is prophetically forecast, precisely fulfilling His role, with the deeds of reality attesting what no other could do, has done or will do (John 15:21-23). It is failure to come to Him as He is which is deadly, as you see from this passage.
It is His religion, it was His atonement; and to follow Him it is necesssary not to become some new truth, or truth source, as if God were in the hands of men. When that last happened, in the form of flesh, He was crucified. The scope for change is such that if PAUL himself were to preach another gospel, he would invite the curse (Galatians 1). From everlasting to everlasting the LORD is God, and a thousand years pass like a day. He does not need to learn, under the expert tuition of any, such as Peter (Matthew -23), who on occasion may prescribe something different for Him. The rebuke to Peter was immediate and the result plain. If in some body called a church, that rebuke is NOT forthcoming, then its distance from Christ is plain to see.
CNN July 23, 02
has this to say.
Welsh archbishop Rowan Williams, a
renowned theologian and
outspoken opponent of
Williams, 52, was chosen by
Prime Minister Tony Blair to be
the 104th Archbishop of
Canterbury, spiritual leader of the
world's Anglicans, to succeed the
Most Rev. George Carey, who is
retiring on October 31 after 11
office at a difficult time
for the Anglican Communion,
which claims 70 million members
worldwide but sees only a small
proportion attending services and
increasing pressure on finances.
And where once there were hints of reconciliation with the
Roman Catholic church, now there are deep rifts between
traditionalists and liberals, particularly on homosexuality and
"If there is one thing I long for above all
else, it is that the years to come may see
Christianity in this country able again to
capture the imagination of our culture, to
draw the strongest energies of our
thinking and feeling," Williams said at a news conference after his
appointment was announced on Tuesday.
Williams, who was one of two nominees given to Blair, has been
praised in some church quarters as an orthodox Christian and a
deep thinker. Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of
But some conservatives have been alarmed that Williams
admitted ordaining a priest whom he suspected of living in a
This shows two things. First, how amazing that the PM of a country, one NOT chosen for his religious convictions, should dare to 'appoint' the 'head' on earth of the Church, any Church, in this case 'of England', on the basis of his discrimination about what the church needs. It is not that Blair's wife is evidently Romanist, nor that he when he wishes, himself attends that organisation for worship, which is quite likely to include the idolatrous invention of the mass, rightly condemned from the first by the articles of the Church of England (cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H). It is just that it is not
There is and can be NO head of ANY church on this earth, since ONLY ONE person is Master (Matthew 23:8-10). The most you could have would be some administrator who would help run what he in no way ruled. Even that person would need to be elected (Acts 13) from the praying members of the body.
There is however a third and most significant consideration. It is reported by CNN that the Archbishop in this inappropriate position, indeed, has admitted ORDAINING a priest whom he suspected of active homosexual conduct. It has been reported elsewhere that he is in favour of some 'gay' participation in the church; and whether or not that report is correct, this one seems to suggest that it may be. In any event, if there were any suspicion on such a score, in view of I Timothy 1:10 and I Cor. 5:10ff., 6:9, where sexual perversion is immiscible with the kingdom of heaven, it would be necessary to REMOVE such suspicion by due investigation, if following the Bible, for membership of a church, let alone a preaching or similar post within it.
Suspicion cannot rule; but if one is an elder, a supervisor in a church applying the word of God (as in Acts 20:28), along with other elders, one has to love, so that one hopes all things; but one has to supervise, so that evil is not permitted. You have only to read Numbers to see the havoc wrought by sexual immorality, biblically defined, and the abomination of the Lord (cf. Leviticus ); and it is richly defined in the New Testament also, with impervious prohibitions (II Timothy ).
If, however, the facts do not show the evil, then it is wrong to harbour suspicions. One is not to judge (Matthew 7). If the evidence requires this understanding, the scripture has to be applied, and the sin purged and repentance to occur before the member can be sustained, even AS a member of the church. This is the biblical position. You CANNOT inherit the kingdom with such ways, Paul declares. What then is your place in the church of the living God ? It is not that forgiveness cannot occur, but rather this, that repentance by faith must occur, and another way of life be found in Christ, whose power and whose grace is the sufficiency of His people (cf. II Cor. 12, I John 3, 5).
Again, we are not speaking of temptation, or of some fall. We are talking of a life style, an approach to morals, a way of living. How an archbishop could be called 'conservative' when his body already has long had female priests and he has not left it (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri Chs. 10 -11), and should there be what this report suggests, unbiblical laxity on sexual manifestations awry from the biblical spread, is a notable question. If in fact there is such a departure from the word of God written, then the suit for divorce from the Lord is placed. Who places it ? what shows the contrariety to His word. And in this case ? It is the Church concerned.
In view of the statements of the Anglical Archbishop of Sydney, and the principles exhibited there, as reviewed in Light ... Ch. 2, this is a development of a kindred nature to that. NO CHURCH which is Christ's can proceed in derogation, displacement, questioning or ignoring of the word of God. When God speaks, one has two options. One is to accept it; one is not to do so. In the former case, one believes and as faith without works is dead (this is not an exhortation of James, but a description), one acts. In the latter case, one declares assault on the word of God, and since this is HIS word, on Him.
No Church which is Christ's can afford such luxury, better befitting the clamorous crowed before Pilate or the double-faced fiasco of Balaam (Numbers 22ff.), than than the repentant such as Peter, the insistent rescued persecutors such as Paul, or the loving providers such as John. (Cf. John 14:21-23, I Corinthians 2:9-13, Romans 17:17, Titus 3:10, Ephesians 2:19ff.).
The Church has one head and one foundation; and wise are they who follow His word (Matthew 7:24ff., Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18ff.). To "these things" one may proceed to add, but only if one courts crises, such as those of which one reads in Revelation: of the utmost proportion. From Deuteronomy (4, 12) to Revelation, from apostle and the Lord Himself comes one message. God has spoken, and man shall life by every word which proceeds out of His mouth (Matthew 4:4), yes, and He will keep these things of His own, to the last iota (Matthew 5:17ff., cf. SMR Appendix D).
*2 This needs further consideration.
Thus, what interest could a State such as China PROPERLY, that is
in terms of concern for its stability from violent overthrow from seditious,
military-minded revolutionaries, have in the
It could not find in any sound and biblical church, in view of such principles as those found in John 18:36 and the episode of Matthew 26:52ff., any exhortation or intent to engage in or foster such an overthrow. This is not at all church territory.
If some church were fomenting this, then it would be in error, itself.
What however if the church were keeping to biblical principles ? What then could be any just interest on the part of the State ? The answer is simple: NONE. If the State wishes to prevent revolution by force, then the church is not concerned. If they wish to secure that there is no hidden intent, then they might want, as with plain clothes detectives, to keep an eye on it, for people can be misled. Above that, nothing. It is then mere intimidation, the desire to control thought, to be the master of the spirits of men, an insanely irrational, a belligerently antichristian war on God Himself PERSONALLY! This is the engagement to surface and then cohere and later to come in plush force as in Revelation 19:19, when the beast and his forces are gathered together against the Lord!
How harried, how oppressed in poor China, which we must not think of as an enemy, but as a site where THE enemy, the Satan, the forger of lies, is sitting pretty, enthroned in splendour, able to invade even spiritual things, for his own lies, which cannot stand the light of investigation, using mere FORCE!
Noted in The Advertiser,
God however is a Spirit, and NOTHING we do measures up to Him.
The thought is presumption, the hope arrogance (Isaiah 64:6, Romans -28).
His acceptance is APART from works (Titus 3:5ff.), and His salvation depends ONLY on Him. Its fruits, like vines that are indeed extended into their branches, are assured. They are inherent in their situation: abide in Me, said Christ, and I in you and you shall bear much fruit (John 15). This, it is not problematic; it is not foundational; it does not make you a vine but results from your being a branch, which naturally first requires a secure attachment. The fruit ? it exposes what you are. but does not ‘plant’ you: that is a work of God (Matthew 15:`13).
At that many judge unrighteous judgment, a prohibition coming in Matthew 7 as much as the fruit attestation; for, not seeing the left hand, as if they were God, many proceed in assessing their fellows in a true efflorescence of presumption, a flurry of subjectivity as if the divine mind were under their own control, their infected noses declaring 'stink' where there is savour.
Of these Paul speaks in I Corinthians 4:3-5. It is a small thing with me to be judged by you, he declares; nor does THAT make me righteous. Neither you nor I, says he, are my judge, but God. Judge nothing before the time.
This is the case with subjectivistic imaginations against people; and indeed Christ Himself was as a stench to the nostrils of many, as exhibited in the passion with which they cried, 'Crucify Him!' If the Master is a stink tree to some, when daphne is His provision, then His servants need not expect to be glorified in this world, nor desire it. It would make them vulnerable to condemnation; for what this world loves, God does not.
"You are they who justify themselves before men,
but God knows your hearts;
for what is highly esteemed among men," said Christ (Luke ),
"is abomination before God!
From James we find this echo, as it were: "friendship with the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4). In our own generation, as predicted (II Timothy 3, Matthew 24:24, 24:10, II Peter 2), many are they, even among false churches, whose form of godliness is the nearest to godliness they get, and whose judgments are accordingly astigmatic, myopic or distorted.
Displays therefore demonstrating how great you are so far from being roads to heaven, are more likely to be entries to the highway to hell. A humble and a contrite heart is of great value with God (Psalm 51, Isaiah 57:15, 66:2). Notice also this in the latter verse: "and who trembles at My word"! How many treasure this, or follow it in their judgments ?
But what is in the heart ? A willingness to be a saved servitor, a loving friend, to walk with Him, receiving His salvation and finding His strength for the day on the way that He chooses, according to His written word, which neither blushes, nor blenches, but says, This is the way! Vainglory is not the way; vicarious atonement is the way. Works for entry are not the way; except they be His. Works like clothes, act when you have them on. TO have on the works of God, you NEED first to be clothed with His grace, covered by His acceptance (Ephesians 1:6, Titus 3:5). Otherwise, it is an exercise in illusion.
What does Isaiah say ? This:
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations."
Note first of all that you have to be CLOTHED BY GOD, at the outset. This commences the marriage ceremony, if you will! Then there is no 'chance' of the works of God failing to appear in you, whatever man may say. As you abide in Him, so dressed, in His presence, in His company, even human analogy teaches you there will be results. In this case, however, the transformative dynamic of Truth, present in person, Mercy, His air, Grace, His profundity, will not release history from its bond. What He is, He shows; what He has, He uses, and it grows into His presence. In vine terminology, the branch is from the vine, for the vine, has the sap of the vine (the Holy Spirit in the analogy), and bears fruit as a result (Galatians 5). Some may gripe at grapes, and prefer pungent liquors or brandy, or some sought substitute not 'natural'; but when a person hates God, there is little love for His fruits.
*3 See News 32, 36, 39, Red Alert ... Ch. 10, Cascade ... Ch. 4, Secular Myths ... Ch. 5, The Impregnable Tower ... Ch. 1, Regal Rays ...Ch. 1 (the percentage question re Israel is not really questionable at all!).
*4 The exact length of the millenium is obviously unknowable from the scripture. As to the usage of time in an eschatological and symbolic sense, II Peter 3:9 applies the concept right there in this, that 1000 years with the Lord are as a day. This does nothing to make serial days, and clear descriptions of their usage, as day and night are explained for what they are, anything other than that; but in terms of the disposition of time when the point is not the definition of terms but the indication of eschatological largesse, there is need for caution.
It could conceivably be that the millenium will be literally that; but just as conceivably, it could be quite short. It is the PURPOSE which is paramount, and the Lord has been exceedingly careful about divulging anything to do with the timing of these end events, which themselves tend to have a test format, so that one may be surprised, as by a runner in the 800 metres when one is in front, suddenly thundering along at the end, to pass one! Its presence however is as often seen, dependent on simply one fact, that it is so written. It is true of course that it will EXHIBIT the righteousness of God in judgment on this very earth which slew the Son of God; that it will vindicate His glorious righteousness precisely in the setting where so much licence, under test, has wrought so much evil. However the ultimate reason is this, that God has so stated.
See on this Sparkling Life in Jesus Christ, Ch. 10 with SMR pp. 504ff., and Index.
*5 On this, overall, see News 87.