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versus Enmity and Strife
and even with God
LOOKING AT FRIENDSHIP
Friendship is not for fun. It is not for kudos. It is not for satisfaction. Fun can safely occur only when the structure is sound and sure. Kudos is a mere result with some, as they see fit to accord it, of no aspirational value at all, being in no small measure a product of the pattern of the changing thoughts of sinful man. Satisfaction is dependent on the soul that has it, whether it be with carnage, self-elevation against all reason and logic, or with oneself, drab and dismal, self-applausive or indeed intoxicated though the self may be. The thing is of no real value, unless of course, it is the satisfaction of God, who, being the truth, confers in truth.
Friendship IS for God, a breath of His love, a savour as of roses; but this, when it is IN God. Otherwise, though it be pleasant, and reasonable and helpful, where is its limit ? In the diverse ideals and concepts, hopes and paragons of the heart. That is its limit. Someone may be friendly with one who is not a believer in God, whose heart is fickle with the upthrusts of the hot air of man. This limits. They cannot jointly have prayer, have faith in the power of God, have a common upthrust of heart. It is a very limited matter. Or again, someone may be an idolater, and live by idols, whether of bread or clay, marble or of heart. This limits the friendship. It cannot then be in the only God who is there, ALONE, as its ultimate resource. Both may have cardiac idols, an ensemble of delusion, a fricasse of vanity.
It may still be convenient, and mutually helpful; but the blight is there. Convenient for what ? or helpful to what end ?
If but one be Christian, then in any depth, it is even forbidden since friendship MUST involve close association and fellowship, and it is this precisely which is FORBIDDEN with idolaters, in II Corinthians -15. Even 'concord' is in that case removed from sight! Indeed, short of hypocrisy, how COULD there be concord between darkness and light! a Paul expostulates.
But one says, In my case, friendship is past all that, or does not reach to it.
If so, it is mere affectionate correlation, without basis or height: call it friendship if you will, but for a Christian, being forbidden, and being deprived of concord at the level of life and person, it is mere trash. Indeed, in such a case, at the purely personal level, concord spells artificiality in FAITH. It would mean that the faith of the person was not practical. Now if there is one thing that faith MUST be, it is practical. James draws attention to the fact that faith was made complete, perfected in Abraham when he was willing to sacrifice Isaac, in whom all his hopes for the race, the future and the realisation of the promises of God were resting, his only son, his chosen son for this thing.
course he did not do it, his hand was stayed from actually sacrificing his son:
for God is never behind the misuse of humans, the one for the other, as if
pawns. A ram was found in the thicket, and it was the sacrifice, not Isaac; but
for Abraham the priority of heart was established. He trusted God with or
without the apparent means for his aims, and the trust was absolute. Indeed, he
even trusted that God could resurrect Isaac if need be as Hebrews 11 tells us.
THE PRECONDITIONS OF FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD
Abraham was justified by faith BEFORE he showed the completion of faith in works, and the Bible says so in Genesis 15, as in Paul in Romans 4. He was justified before GOD by faith alone. His faith was in turn justified before all, when it worked as above. In this, it was fulfilled, shown to be real, living and alive, not dead and purely formal, ceremonial or meretricious.
As often noted on this site, he was justified without works, but not without faith, and faith works.
What faith worked was the fulfilment of the spiritual realities which, being alive, could not but be fulfilled. Resident faith, provided as a gift (Galatians 5:22, Acts 11:18, Ephesians 2:8), acquires as a result what comes from such a gift. That is all.
Just as it is foul to justify the wicked (Proverbs 17:15), since they are not just, and this is mere declaration of righteousness when it is not present - an act indeed, but a false one; so it is fine for God to justify a man in the declaration of a righteousness which is present, in Christ, and transferred in the arena of repentance and reconciliation through the merits of Christ.
That ? It is justifying what is right. The justification of that justification is this, that it is based on the payment in kind of what was deficient, albeit by another. The fine is just, and the payment is just, and the criterion is just, and the result is just.
When however this just justice is justly implemented, the just results are joyously present also. The child lives. The profound transmutation is part of the process, the vital parallel to the legal transference. What is forgiven is also found. What is found is also revitalised, what is revitalised therefore lives, what is living before God and by the grace and power of God is a child of God, living by faith, able to move mountains, contoured by the Spirit of God (II Cor. 3:18), arrested by the power of God and kept by it.
This life, or anything by it, never was and still is not the CRITERION of pardon; it is however the case of life. It lives. As it lives, the faith in which it was born, the faith in the living God, has living results. These could never justify the man, since the only thing that can do that is the perfection of Christ (Romans 3), and in God's sight shall not man be justified (in the sense of being or becoming right - a different word - Psalm 143:2). But "blessed is the man to whom the Lord will NOT IMPUTE iniquity... and blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."
That is the Biblical way, as Paul says of Christ,
"whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness"
and this ? so that He was thus able to
"demonstrate at the present time His righteousness,
that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" -
Does this mean then that one is justified by works, not faith, in some way, or by some ensemble which denies the stated mode ? Does no milk mean some milk in a recipe, or does without milk imply some measure of it !
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to His mercy He saved us ...
that having been justified by His grace,
we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" - Titus 3:5 and 7.
The salvation is PAST, and
it results in a thing also past, HAVING BEEN JUSTIFIED, and it makes yet more
forceful this result, by stating it to be "by His grace". What it is NOT is
stated; what it IS, is stated. Its result is stated. Salvation is then a past
phenomenon, so that
"in Him we have received an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory" -
from Ephesians 1:11-13 (it. added).
Predestination to salvation and justification is of course just what Paul also states in Romans 8. You cannot unpredestinate, unless perhaps as an un-predestinarian, you want to challenge God and set up your pyre...
pyre ? Yes, for the funeral pyre of all rebellion is nothing lively*1.
Why is it excluded ? Because of this: that if a thing does not at all depend on you, it is ludicrous to claim merit for it. What does not at all depend on you ? What Christ did. How does this affect the issue ? It is because of two things - if indeed you are a Christian.
1) He did it for you, and
2) its merit is attributed to you as in Gal 3:13, Romans 3:23ff..
Thus Paul says in Ephesians 2,
Not only then, are Christians persons of whom this is said, that they are 'having been saved ones', nor this, that it is 'not of yourselves,' nor yet this, that 'it is the gift of God,' but this also, that 'we are His craftsmanship'; and not only that, but it is written that it is BECAUSE we are His craftsmanship that boasting is also excluded (Ephesians 2:9-10). How could a Holden boast as it travels on and on, if it is not its own maker, or a Jaguar or a Rolls, if its reliability is marvelled at ?
Very well. Justification of man as a performer is excluded. Justification of man as a sinner with sins remitted in terms of the meritorious offering of the sinless Christ in his stead, is included; and it is this which justifies a man before God. What justifies the claim to have faith, the topic of James, is the result. Life is justified, as a claim, when it has its habiliments, when what life does is what the object in question exhibits. It lives because the things of life are found in it. This however is NOT AT ALL what GIVES it life. It merely justifies the claim that it is there.
So with faith, the works are not at all what creates the life, or the gift of salvation, which is freely given without works (Titus 3:5ff., Romans 5:15, 6:23). It is however what exhibits the life that is there. It is what, to use James' term, by works is perfected. "For as the body without spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" - James 2:26. It lives, works live; but works did not make it live, or give it life: they simply attest that this has happened.
James' topic is practical evidence. Paul's is precisely the opposite: divine grant. Each is valid; each is complementary; Paul's point comes first, since you need the gift of life to have its works. James' comes second, since you show the works when the reality is already planted, in its own ways, according to its own laws, by faith through grace as it is written.
One is dealing with the car on the road; the other with the manufacturer's certificate. If the certificate is good, the goods will be good! How good ? Sound. Good trees, to change the image to that of Christ, bring forth good fruit. The fruit does not create them; it simply attests their creation in the first place. In no sense do they create themselves. In fact, as Christ makes clear in Matthew 15:13, it is ONLY when the trees are PLANTED by the Father, that they will not be uprooted. As to that, as James says, every good and perfect gift comes from above (1:17).
James' concern is the way it goes when it has come. Paul is concerned with the way it comes, before it can go. It is simply a sequence of considerations. The first one has centre in the free gift, the very nature of life, biological and spiritual. The second has centre in the sure outcome, again the nature of life when it IS there. It is amusingly like the organic evolutionary nonsense. They try to bypass its arrival, and to concern themselves with life's continuance. However, the continuation (by survival they think) does not create what is to continue. That is an entirely different matter. What makes it continue is actually the way it is made. So what makes the works flow from the already justified life (Romans 5:1-10), is the way it is made, or as Paul puts it,
Let us now return to our car analogy. The car will go according to specifications. What are the specifications ? No man is without sin, but sin does not prevail (I John 1:7ff., 3:9, Romans 6).
we are not discussing in James 2, a perfect Rahab or a perfect Abraham (his
examples in James 2), or anything like it. Alas, perfection was not the lot of
either. The relevant question is simple: Did each of these cited persons, in
the relevant criterion, act ? Did Rahab deliver the spies and not
just waffle ? Did Abraham show his faith, which already had been the
method by which he was justified before God (as in Genesis 15 explicitly), in
such a way as to justify its existence (when it came to a point, as much latter
occurring, shown in Genesis 22) ? Of course, the patriarch did so in being
willing to offer Isaac, and incidentally, in not continuing to the end of that matter, when God, having shown
the reality of his faith, intervened with the provision of the ram, the fitting
object in that case. He lived by God.
The CANTILEVER has its Place:
but you can't USE A LEVER
WHEN FAITH ONLY WILL DO
Direct and at Rest in Christ
Slaying Sedition to Right and to Left
James deals with justification of faith, of a man who lays claim to it in showing the non-fraudulence of the claim; Paul with justification of man (as sinner which he remains, though not under the tyranny of sin - Romans 6). James also shows that faith is not to be robbed of its fruit, if it is living; and Paul shows that fruit is not to be merited with the grace of acquittal, but is merely the result of the operation of that faith, by which a man is given a free standing and status before God. That, it is, entirely, wholly and exclusively the work of Christ, so that boasting is excluded; for it is He and He only who became a curse (Galatians 3), and the idea that you start in the Spirit by a grace and faith of divine conferment, and continue in the flesh by looking for status from your works is worse than unruly. It is unrighteous, bogus - spattered in the vehement denunciation given to Paul!
Thus both Paul and James utterly demolish the follies on the one hand, of creating a gift or status given by God, by your works in the slightest degree, or on the other hand, of assuming what you have is alive, when its life is indistinguishable from death!
It is fascinating really. James is determined to end all this artificial faith clamour, as if faith were a cloudy mixture to be taken daily. It is a gift of God (James 1:17), but IF it be a gift, it is a gift of what is alive. It lives. Its results accrue. It is justified by its works, and thus the claimant to it is justified in this, that his claim is verified. However the one who has it is justified by his faith, as Abraham was. Only after that did results accrue. They COULD accrue only because of that; they HAD TO accrue, since life is lively.
Man needs Christ to justify him before God. Faith shows works to justify the claim to it before any. However the justification of the claim is merely the outworking of what is true; it neither makes it true nor confers the truth. The true life comes as a gift. The fruit is a result only. Some presume (see root-fruit in Faith and fruit inspectors) to be the assessors, but God says, Judge not that you be not judged! (Matthew 7). Some try to reassure themselves, but the word of God says this, "the gift of God is eternal life" (Romans 6:23), and "the spirit testifies with our spirits that we are the children of God."
You believe or you do not. If you do, you have it. If you try to justify yourself in any measure by your works, how do you have a free gift ? However the free gift is the only thing available! (Romans 6:23, 5:15, Galatians 3).
Of course a man may examine HIMSELF! But what does he examine ? This, whether he is in the faith. His concern is simple: is his faith really resting exclusively in Christ, so that he is justified by Christ's having been delivered up for his offences and raised up for his justification, precisely as in Romans 4:25-5:1, or else he is resting, in part or in whole, elsewhere: in priests, masses, Marys made up by man, queens of heaven as condemned so scathingly in the name of the Lord by Jeremiah, for it ruined the nation, to do such things in defiance of the one God and His one way, resting exclusively in Himself (Ezekiel 8:13,14, Jeremiah 44:16-26); or indeed is he trusting in the judgment of his allies in the church, who 'vet' him and give him ground for faith in his own works!
If that is the way of it, then when he is examining himself he would have good reason to be concerned, to cease to do this and to rely on Christ only. Otherwise, believing in man's estimates and not in faith's action in appropriating the object of faith and the works of that object, Jesus the Christ, he is not cast on the rock, but rocked by the cast, the ecclesiastical cast that runs the show. IF you depend on Christ ONLY, being justified by faith, as Paul shows in Romans 8, you are inhabited by a life of God within you, sin is inhibited by His power, the Spirit works in you and SO you have fruit, an offshoot and outcome of being concerned NOT with fruit for your place, but with Christ.
The expectation of your heart is not from your fruit, but your fruit is from the expectation of your heart, in, for and from Christ, lodged in HIMSELF (Hosea 14:8, Isaiah 27:5, Romans 11:11, 6:22, 7:4, Ephesians 1:11-14, I John 4:13-18, 5:11-13)! It is only as you thus abide that fruit comes (John 15:5). By Christ's own word, THIS is how the fruit comes (John 15:5), not by fussing about digging things, or having church ministers do it for you. They point you to the fact - where faith rests in Christ. You rest there - in faith, in Christ ONLY (Acts 4:11-12). There is no other name. None else.
But what ?
Having begun in the Spirit will they then, these also, continue in the flesh ? (Galatians 3). If they veer or sneer or jeer, it is because, if this is their life, their experience was mere joy for a season, not an objective planting but a panting, a mere shrivelled seed of the word of God, not taking root (Luke 8:13), the life not taken.
No, but rather STAND FAST in the liberty accorded to you (Galataians 5), if indeed you are His, having received Him by faith, whose word declares that eternal life is thus given (John 6:47), and having received that ransom of His (John 6:50ff.), which is His dower (Matthew 20:28), so achieving for you, what then He works IN you (Colossians 1:27), even what is fitting for the one appointed to salvation (I Thess. 5:9-10).
Thus Paul is determined to end all this artificial meretricious meritoriousness, by which a man begins to get a swollen head, and even to imagine that, having been justified by faith through the death of the sinless Son of God as his substitute, of Him who confers that cover which is entirely His since He only does not deserve to die for sin (Psalm 49, Isaiah 53, Ephesians 2), there can ever be ANY question of some alien motif. It is outrageous and excluded from the truth altogether to look for any part of righteous standing before God to come from your imperfect self, or any of your own works as being adequate for any confirmation, where the Christ is not the only basis and the tower of refuge (Isaiah 64:6).
The works you DO, the works of the law, CANNOT justify you, for they are incapacitated through imperfection (Romans 3:20). They are excluded by name, by type and by repetitious opprobrium. SINCE they cannot in any measure whatsoever justify you, why look to them for justification of your 'faith' that you have faith!
Faith is there, if it is there, because you have cast yourself unreservedly on the life, truth and merits of Christ. If you have not done that, where then is your faith ?
It is missing. If you have however so acted, where then is your belief in the authority of God's word, if you doubt the certain and stated result ? If you must look to works to persuade you that you have faith, you look to performances duplicable in devious ways, to mind sets and assessment of which ONLY GOD is capable of giving sound interpretation. Looking to works to persuade you that you have faith, is like looking to internal assessments to persuade you that you are in love. However, if you are in love, it is an elemental and intractable phenomenon. It has intrinsic validity. Trying to tell by this and that signal or sign, whether you are in love is like trying to smell from the exhaust whether your car is going. You should KNOW whether you started it!
As noted previously, moreover, if you are not SURE that you have faith, then faith is missing, for it is defined to be a PERSUASION and a CONVICTION. If it is missing, then it cannot have its fruits, and the salvation BY FAITH is not there. If you DO have faith, then the glorious wholesomeness of the affair is this, as James reminds us, that it will of course WORK, and there will of NECESSITY be fruits. They come. James shows YOU by his works, that he has faith. He does not need to show HIMSELF! If he did, he would lack it, so that its fruits could not come. It is a self-defeating deviation from Biblical Christianity. In some ways, it is almost a mirage of Romanism, with its church-centric failings, though without priests or mass, and in leaven, akin to Pelagianism, in this aspect.
What happens after the death of Christ, attributed to you for your acquittal in justice before judgment, gives you the pardon that is sure for ever ? You have received it. It is yours.
From whom ? From Him. HOW can you receive it from Him ? By faith, and because you believe Him resurrected from the dead, both the overcomer of death and the cancellation centre for sin, in His own person. You live, yours is eternal life. Hence you confess it in gratitude, thus fulfilling Romans 10:9. What happens to such a person ? YOU WILL BE SAVED, says Paul.
Doubt that and you reject the word of God.
THAT- Christ Lord and Saviour bodily risen from the dead, in love granting what you receive, Himself the Son of God, and that alone is adequate; and it is likewise necessary, seemly, fitting, incomparable and complete (Hebrews 2:9-15, 9:12-28, 10:10-14, 7:25); for by one offering once made, of the Just One (Acts 3:3:14), we are sanctified for ever, having received eternal redemption, and those justified (Romans 8:17,29ff.), will be glorified. Indeed, they are already predestinated by Him who knows all, having conveyed an internal inheritance (Ephesians 1:11).
Paul is remorseless, as we
see also in Galatians 3. "WHO," he asks, "has bewitched you ?"
"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth,
before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?
"This only I want to learn from you:
Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
"Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
"Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you,
does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? -
just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'
"Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith,
preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand,
saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed.'
"So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse;
for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.'
"But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for 'the just shall live by faith.' Yet the law is not of faith, but 'the man who does them shall live by them.'
"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us
(for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'),
that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus,
that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
How then did God "justify the heathen" ? - Galatians 3:8. "Through faith." Since the law might justify the perfect (Gal. 3:9ff.), but none is of this calibre but Christ as a man, what then ?
This: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law" (3:13). What follows ? This, that we "receive the Spirit of promise" (3:14). How ? "By faith." It is in this way that "the blessing of Abraham" comes.
How in ancient times in
fact did the blessing of Abraham come ? By
faith (Gen. 15). When ? Before the works concerning Isaac, as noted by James.
WHEN was he justified ? BEFORE those works. Thus he as a man was gratuitously
justified by God. On what grounds ? (Romans 3), Christ as propitiation. This is
so, as Paul expressly proclaims (Galatians 3:8), "the scripture, foreseeing that
God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel to
Abraham, saying, 'In you shall all nations be blessed.' "
What then ? "You are all children of God through faith" - Galatians 3:26. In whom ? "... in Jesus Christ." What of these ? They are "heirs according to the promise."
It is the eternal redemption which makes heirs, since what is eternal is unconditional, being conferred, and what is a child does not cease to be that, since he is born, and the child is the child of the parent, world without end, a fact and as a fact, it too has results. One of these ? Eternal life (I John 5:11-12, 3:9, John 10:9,27-28, I Thess. 5-10). Another result ? You need no priest but Christ (Hebrews 8-10). Another ? If you take another, you demean the one, act as if to debase Christ.
That is not the work of a Christian, so entirely to repudiate the One chosen - Hebrews 2-10. Let not the one who does not trust entirely in Christ imagine that by his works of the flesh, or those of fleshly collaborators he will get anything. Works of the flesh can generate, but what they generate is woe. It is necessary to be RE-generated, so that in that generation, you now linked truly to Christ by faith, can bear what generators DO!
If however, like the Galatians, you look now at this and then at that, your works, some works, some contrivances, some ecclesiastical events or whatever, what then ? Then you put faith in the secondary not the primary, in the thoughts of man, not the thoughts of God, in your own devices, not the donation of God. Of this, says Paul, who has bewitched you! Again says Paul, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" - Romans 5:9.
THE UNIQUE FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD HIMSELF
Thus then we have seen the need to rely on GOD HIMSELF ALONE, the trinity, absolutely, like Abraham, and not at all on what you do, for the relationship with God. If you do not, then your ostensible if not indeed ostentatious 'faith' becomes a means, not a thing reposed in God, an engine of salvation not a mark of it. As your own work, in whole or part, it gives meretricious grounds for self-congratulation and is not merely irrelevant, but irreverent, offensive and in short, a foul work of scripturally-assessed spiritual slime, in which you DARE to include ANYTHING you do, with the standards of God in Christ! This is boasting at its sublime aspiration, and seduced pit. It is distortion, disturbance and calamity.
WHEN like Abraham you do really believe in the limitless power, mercy and provision of God by His entire and actually sublime grace, then only are you like Abraham, in the mode whereby friendship with God opens up like a glorious vista. THAT is the foundation. Without that, no superstructure as in Galatians 3 and 5! Then you can act freely, love fully and walk truly.
JESUS said this, YOU are My friends if you do whatever I command you. There you have it again. It is an utter disregard of ANYTHING competitive with Him, and His glory. It is resting ON Him, IN Him and working FOR Him, BECAUSE you are His, precisely as in Ephesians 2. AS His workmanship not only do you WANT to do this, but you are ENABLED to do it. Imperfection is your lot, but the Perfect and indeed Perfected One, whose engagement for man was brought to fruition in that glorious total sharing of life that bore and broke our sin who are His, this is your LORD! (Hebrews 2), and in Him is yoru redemptive friend (I John 2), and enlivening dynamic (Romans 8), by the power of His Spirit, sent in His name (John 14:16-17, 16:7-14, , II Corinthians 3:17-18).
As Lord, naturally, being alive, He manifests His power, to keep, to control and to make you grow, to lead you and to love you. It is then that friendship opens up. IF you sin, then He is the barrister (as in I John 2:1-2) to cover your error and bring you back and on. Like a good car, you may indeed make some amazing mistakes; but like a good car too, this is not the way or manner of your life. It is covered under warranty, corrected and the cost is borne in advance by Him who by ONE offering has sanctified for ever those who are justified, and has justified with an eternal redemption likewise, by ONE offering (Hebrews 9-10, Romans 5:1-11).
In this glorious setting, you are CONSTITUTED righteous by His offering, in the sight of God (Romans ), just as you were CONSTITUTED a sinner through Adam's contribution to your condition from the first, so that in this milieu of acceptance, "grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." By WHOSE righteousness then, in context here also ? "By one man's obedience, many were made righteous!" (). But by whose righteousness did justification of life come ? By "one Man's" (). Is one then many ? Scarcely, for it is written also, "For if by one man's offence many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many" - 5:15.
The gift of Jesus Christ, it is not like the condemnation from Adam, Paul indicates. For the latter led to condemnation of many, but this to justification, and how ? as a "free gift" (). What did this free gift do ? It abounded to many. To whom ? To those who received it (). What else ? As John says in 1;12, these are borne not of the will of man, of blood, but of God. It ends where it starts, as Paul indicates in Galatians 3, in faith by faith through grace, and it is thus you become heirs, not through writing your own will, and adding this paltry pittance to His amazing gift. It is a gift which seals and reveals alike (Ephesians 1:4-11).
It is Christ who is the
You doubt your faith ?
Invest it in Christ ONLY as your Redeemer, in whom your justification is GIVEN
freely, and a PAST thing, so that you WILL BE glorified as in Romans ,30, and that NOTHING will separate
you from the love of Christ, neither things past or future. But you doubt
this ? then you doubt God. Moreover if you hope to be saved with respect to ANYTHING in you, then you doubt God and congratulate yourself with false pride, as if you could equal the purity of Christ, His obedience, which ALONE being perfect, as Romans 5 instructs us, can count.
IF however you rest in Christ, and find His way profitable and productive and perfect, and rely ONLY on Him, using what He gives, but accepting the gift of eternal life so that you shall as His be raised up on the last day (John 6:51ff.), then you are ready for HIS friendship, which is as nectar and as dynamism and as tenderness and compassion, with the roses of reality and the delightful comprehensive kindness of daffodils, wisteria, massive eucalypts with their keen fragrance and health, as waterfalls of grace, as stars of light, as the sun in its stimulus, as armour in its brightness, as quietness in content: for He is our God. As God He has made us, and not we ourselves, and resting in Him is most energetic, for it is He who directs those who abide. (Cf. Questions and Answers 6).
Friendship here has its
height and source, to be friends of God. It is only then that human friendship
can have its summit; for then the aspirations, the abiding, the sublime
stimulus, the ideals, the hopes, the rest of soul, the power, the provision, it
is all one. It is one because it is of One. Then again, because there is no
limit to God, and there is no rashness in His liberality, you do not tremble on
the brink of divergence in things that matter most, but are reinforced each
one, within them, and co-operating in Him whose cover is of all things, you do
not find chasms of contrariety, but only hillocks to be mounted, that
misunderstanding being surmounted, the clarity of the crystal of God be found
at the top.
HUMAN EXAMPLES, OF THIS KIND
This, it is challenge, for we humans are but partial; none have all the gifts, and we vary deliciously (or disastrously if the perspective, power and rest in Christ is not right, or else agree disastrously, assisting each other to a joint and earned doom, for doom, you can indeed EARN THAT!). It is the love of Christ which can transform, through good understanding as submariners under a magnificent captain, the varieties of each into the splendour of the service together.
cases we plan now to examine a little, they are those of David, to be the most
remarkable king, and Jonathan, to die young in wonderful reliability in a
battle together with his father. Again, there is Ruth and Naomi, and the third
? it is that of Peter and young Mark. Each displays some aspect of friendship, a
DAVID AND JONATHAN
Thus with David, there is that trusting reliance which allowed him to work with the son of the evil-gripped king, for his deliverance. If Jonathan had betrayed him, knowing the likelihood, indeed convinced of the certainty of David's coming kingship, then all was lost. David did not hesitate to work closely with Jonathan in making his escape from what was almost certain death from jealous King Saul. Their covenant was strong (I Samuel 20), David to protect the offspring of Jonathan, yet always as derivative from and inherent in his first trusting in the Lord, the forte of David and constant lyric of heart and hand (Psalm 62:8, 145:10,17-19).
David's vulnerability as a servant of the king, one to whom the king tossed a javelin in spite even as David sought to bring him comfort through music, was immense. So had he his reliance on Jonathan. Doubtless his confidence in Jonathan could come because he FIRST trusted in God, and knowing what God had already through Samuel appointed him to be, was assured that this was an instrument of divine mercy.
How they loved one another, sought good for one another, protected one another, and how David mourned for Jonathan! What a find, a treasure of faithfulness, a man of courage and valour this Jonathan, after David's own heart.
His testimony to him in his mourning is seen in II Samuel 1.
Their hearts were knit together as men of valour (I Samuel 14,17), of courage that was not selfish, of zeal for the Lord, seeing beyond the visible to the invisible purity of God. Jonathan protected David, yet did not forsake his father, but rather died with him in battle. He risked his life readily as did David (I Samuel 17, 14), and his initiative as there shown was outstanding, as was that of David in his young battle with Goliath. Both evidently trusted from a young age in the supernatural power, indomitable strength and faithful reliability of the Lord. In this they were a pair, like two doves. Adversity cemented the bonds, danger activated them and deliverance for David was the practical expression.
From the start, perhaps
more impressive than David's killing Goliath, was his readiness to bear the
burden of the insult to God shown in Israel, when it failed to find the courage
to attack the giant who made mockery of God, by challenging Israel to man to
man combat, while they doubted and feared.
So, in similar vein, Jonathan was not distressed in an adverse battle situation, but with only his armour bearer went boldly to the very height of the hill against a host, and in the providence and provision of God was the one to 'teach them something'. The odds were as with Goliath, terrible; but the faith in the Lord was wonderful, and He acted in each case, securing their deliverance in these, their separate exploits in His NAME!
With such a hinterland of individuality on the one hand, and faith in God in practice and belief in His power, it is small wonder that their hearts were 'knit together' (I Samuel 18:1-5, ). Indeed, the self-sacrificing splendour in that stout heart of Jonathan is seen when he even encouraged David concerning his coming kingship, TRUSTING that as the Lord has said through Samuel, who anointed him, so did He intend. Not jealousy but fealty was his response, since it was the LORD who had done it.
In God their trust, in God their unity, in the works of God through them, their delight, in comradeship of like souls, a richness, a blending, a sacrificial service which David was careful to carry out to the next generation, in Jonathan's child.
That Jonathan, knowing the King's evil will and foolishness extravaganzas, not to mention his unregal, but personal jealousy of his son-in-law, stayed with his father loyally, even with the one who had tried to kill his friend, while in turn delivering that friend, shows a stability of heart and a depth of affection both versatile and lovely. Small wonder indeed that David so eulogised his friend, when he died in a miscontrived battle of Saul, who had foolishly sought a witch's opinion on the coming battle! (II Samuel 1:19ff.).
LOVE DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN (I Cor. 13), is one of the most beautiful marks on the epitaph on this fraternal love; but its testimony continues, while its works were wonderful, God laying a foundation of extraordinary national power in the kingship of David soon to come, from a beginning as perilous as a flame in the dark, founded on loyalty and mutual concern.
us now turn to the New Testament to find another example of brotherly love, of
friendship in valiant function, real results, good will.
PETER AND MARK
Peter referred to John Mark as his son (I Peter ). Tradition also has it that Peter gave to Mark the words for Mark's Gospel, though with what precise kind of co-operation one does not know. Obviously the relationship was FUNCTIONAL, FAITHFUL and FRIENDLY.
Thus in Expositions of the Oracles of the Lord, from Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, about 130 A.D., we have this of John the Elder: "The Elder used to say this also: Mark became the interpreter of Peter and he wrote down accurately" concerning the sayings and doings of the Lord. He became a "follower of Peter", and it was from Peter that the substance came in the Gospel according to Mark. We may look at this in a later chapter.
It is interesting to note that Paul also found, later in his life, despite the weaker beginning of John Mark, in his returning to Jerusalem before the missionary journey on which he embarked was over, that he was "serviceable for the ministry" (II Timothy 4:11). It could be 'profitable': the Greek term means easy to be made use of, disposed to be of service, and could be related perhaps in the English idiom, to getting a loan of something, or lending aid.
This is amazing in two respects, and admirable in two. First, Paul was the one distressed and indeed grieved that Mark left the missionary journey when very young, before its conclusion; and it was he who argued with Barnabus about not taking Mark on the next missionary journey. Barnabus, related to Mark, insisted on taking him, and so the severity that insists and the empathy which persists each played a part in Mark.
Paul's concern doubtless was used in warning him of the need to persevere, and Barnabus, that son of comfort, provided the encouragement also , for him to have more desire to do so. That Paul should later find Mark's help so notable that he called for it from a distance, by name, is startling confirmation of the charity of the Lord which persists, the grace of avoidance of personal grudges and the readiness to see good wherever it comes.
The second reason for the remarkable being seen in Paul's request is this. He himself, at this time, was facing imminent death, harsh and horrible from the crazed emperor of Rome, it seems. That he should call for Mark's service to aid his ministry at such a time shows the degree of trust, confidence and if not admiration, at least deep regard which Paul had come to have for Mark!
Thus the serviceability, the confidence-eliciting power of Mark becomes apparent. With Peter it led to a filial bond to the ageing ex-fisherman, so that one of the four Gospels came as Mark aided Peter and the young and the old in collaboration at least at the inscription level, produced one of the major postings of the truth concerning Jesus Christ, Mark's Gospel.
What rejoicing to Peter who, having himself failed once in the matter of the fire at the priestly palace, where he was warming himself and denying Christ at the outset, could find in Mark a youthful staff of energy and aid! Each had failed at one point near the first; and each was valiant to the last. What rejoicing to Mark, who having been at first less than admirable, became in the end such a solace to men of such distinction, and an aid to needful things of such sacred times!
if David and Jonathan could be seen as the PARALLEL sort of friendship, where
equals confirm and inspire each other, then in Mark and Peter we see different
generations by their very difference, each aiding the blessing of the other in
their diversity. The RESULTS are the beauty of it, and the grace is the ground.
RUTH AND NAOMI
Here is another case of charity in disparity. Indeed, there is a love, affection, loyalty, co-operation and constancy about this relationship which is inspirational throughout the ages. It starts in adversity, continues in kindness, comes into challenge, is resolved in loyalty and is fulfilled in a consummation of glory.
First, Naomi went with her husband Elimelech from Israel to Moab, because there was a famine in their land. Their two sons died in that land, and their two daughters married. Thus Naomi lost in a foreign land, adopted temporarily in her need, both husband and two sons. She was left with two married daughters. As if this trial was inadequate, she then lost the two new husbands of her daughters, so that her plight was this. She was with two daughters-in-law, deprived of her husband and her sons, and even of sons-in-law alike, in a foreign land, the relationship of which to Israel could be a variable one!
Thinking of her daughters-in-law, with steadfast resolve and careful judgment, widowed and reduced, Naomi insisted that they should not accompany her back to her own land, for the culture, religion and ways were so very different. One of these young ladies was loth to see her mother-in-law go, but was eventually persuaded to stay in her own land.
This at once advises us to ponder how different is an ALMOST is to an ACTION! How much people may protest and proffer this and that; but if in the end, they do not DO it, it differs categorically from what, be it with eloquence or without, is NOT DONE!
When it came to Ruth however, that particular daughter-in-law needed aid of no psychiatrist, no gloom, no argument. Her mind was set, her loyalty defined, her love was keen. The mother of her dead husband, so close to her beloved, so much involved in his upbringing, this was the one she would accompany. The world might evaporate, but her bond to this remaining one, her husband dead, this one living, this would NOT be broken. How beautiful her pledge of companionship and loyalty to her mother-in-law!
Once they had returned, Ruth without her country, its ways, its customs, its culture, in a land of its own stringencies and rules, to which she may have become vulnerable at any point, but following where her loyalty lay, became in a while the grandmother of Jesse. He ? It was this man who became the father of the lad who grew in fame and name, to become King David, of immortal blessedness, author of many Psalms.
Nor is this all. It was in the line of David, in terms of Mary the mother, that Christ, the ONLY SAVIOUR came.
It is not merely fitting that such devotion, dedication, tenderness, loyalty and love should precede David, and indeed Christ, in this way, but it is expressive of the wonder that love can bring, when it is used in such exalted fashion. It may be bereft of any apparent power; it may be ostensibly reduced to very little; but its place and power remain.
It should be realised that Ruth, when Naomi was in fact back in her land, co-operated with humility and close attention to the words of Naomi, not embarrassing her in unruly spiritedness nor in fear or timidity. Rather, though young, she moved with confidence to do was required, whether in little or much; and so the marriage to a relative of Naomi was blessed, and its amazing fruitfulness was accomplished.
Friendship can often in weakness illustrate the strength of love; and love in exposure, can attain what mighty powers fail to do.
where is the acme of friendship, its summit and its sun ?
THE SPLENDOUR OF THE SUMMIT
Friendship with God is the most important of all friendships, and the basis for all salutary ones. Brotherly love has in friendship, once it is founded in God, a source of stimulus, a sunset of rich colour, a dawn of clear character. Not all can so readily find those agreeable features which stir the heart, anoint the spirit and bless the soul. Yet all can see in such things the potential, and loving with that unselfish love of Jonathan, that devoted dutifulness of Ruth, that magnificent entente of Peter and Mark, can find promontories in what was mist, and outthrusts of beauty and service in what was rough terrain; for in conformity to Christ comes understanding, and with this, perception, and with that, co-operation and with that, the joy of accomplishment in Christ, of furthering the love which being pure and perfect, is the lore and Lord of all who are Christ's.
This, it is the love which being of God, whether among brethren in general or friends in particular, wholly outdistances the mouthing froths of film and filth which make grotesque the world and gnarled the wanderers in it, those ebulliences of hatred, those scandals of lying and deceit for the vanity of power and control, pride and pretension, which being adverse, contrary and always presumptuous neither find peace, nor can, nor will.
Thus in this as in all dimensions, the love of God, the truth of Christ leaves all competition miserable, confined or fouled, or both. With Him, there is no limit in the latitude for the attitude, the thrust for the altitude, no stint in the unbounded truth which is both sure and adventurous, since it stops at nothing, the very word of God and is blessed by His Spirit. Without Him, it is far less. Without Him in the heart, there is a chasm, and where a mountain should be are mere makeshift mounds. As this tars the nations, so it mars personal relations.
Nor is there the dissent in divine friendship, which would come from lack of conformity to it. If there is discipline, there is purity. If there is correction, it is desired. Without Him, it is either a march into armed conflict that mouths folly and mounts the dead; or it is a surge into spiritual presumption, which elevates man and fights with God, against whom no friendship of any kind, has either wholesome endurance or spiritual place. Disease may coddle disease, but death is the end, limit is the way, pollution is the precept and history is the pageant that abundantly has fouled the earth.
The love of God is pure, refined and chaste; it is sound, holy and delightful. There is no pretence; since He is the truth. There is no end, since He IS the beginning and the end, from everlasting to everlasting. There is a vitality borne of His presence and a beauty found in His peace. It is friendship with God Himself which is the ultimate; for as an Everest above all, who ever is, His is the place for all light, and in light, all love. Nothing changes there; and the sheer exuberant vitality of truth leaves nothing to be desired. With God, there is endless peace, and a peaceful end, or expectation, and of that expectation, there is no end. No reservation mars or marks the terrain, and no divergence destroys the unanimity.
Begun in grace, lived in power, it is kept in continuance, through this world to the next. It is only in such ways that the beauty of holiness is found, that the love of God flows freely: for, being entirely of grace, it is never without place; is not bounded or confounded in the imperfect works of man, but depends entirely on Him whose craftsmanship we are. In this, this is nothing crafty or careless, meretricious or feckless, changing or unsure, cloudy or obscure; but there IS the depth and the height which passes understanding, but not truth, which kisses the heart, protects the mind and inspires the soul (cf. Ephesians 3:14-21).
It depends on no circumstances, is confounded by no eventualities; for nothing shall separate us from the love of God, neither things present, nor to come, neither principalities nor powers (Romans 8:31-39). Nor does power for performance lack.
With Him, it is always good to be inseparable; for His is a love past all understanding, as is His peace (Philippians 4, Isaiah 26). It is meant for man, it is good for man, it is the consummation of the design of man to receive it; and it is free. It is only when it is made subject to the traditions and positions and pompous pretensions of man and his 'works' that it is sullied.
Indeed, when these take part in salvation, where is the love in fraudulence ? Where is the peace in being bewitched ? Where is the righteousness in pollution, or the ground for anything good at all, in systematic sullying and the precepts of imperfection!
It is when man is so 'perfect' that he wants to prove it, that he proves a dead loss. And that death, it is forever, without relief or remedy, a dire desert of a soul deserted by truth, seeking to make its own way, even into heaven (Isaiah 57:20-21, 66:24). If it is sad to see man seek to conquer earth, it is far more grievous to see him seek to stride, using his own spur if not horse, into heaven, kicking the air, to find only the abyss (cf. Matthew 7:15ff.,21ff.).
To heaven, that haven of friendship and height of peace, comes only one sort of being: the redeemed, having been saved by grace through faith, who CANNOT boast, since they are HIS craftsmanship, whose works are as filthy rags before his incandescent purity, and whose righteousness is OF HIM, and Him only, saying this, "The Lord our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6), and this, "...as through one man's offence judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteousness the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life." And who are those who "reign in life" ? Those who "receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness" (Romans 5:17). And whose is this righteousness ? That of One Man (Romans 5:18); and He ? Jesus Christ the Lord.
only to Him (Hebrews 12:1), the author and finisher of their faith, they come
home in faith, to the Faithful One who did all it takes, found all that is
needed and applied it freely (Romans 5:15), for they shall be kept by faith to
an inheritance unfading, undefiled and reserved in heaven for them, who thus
predestined, come by the will and power of God (I Peter 1:1, 3-5, John
10:9,27-28, I Thess. 5:24, Philippians 1:6).
Our topic is friendship with God. Funeral pyres for rebellion are emphatically NOT the way. What is the way, is therefore, made most clear, so that those seeking it should find it, not be lost in the swamps of self-will, however much some of these may be adorned by the additions of tradition (Mark 7:7), that fantastically effective way for making life miserable now and damned hereafter.