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STRAIGHT AS AN ARROW TO THE TARGET OF TRUTH
Simplicity for those who love it ... cf. SMR pp. 92ff..
"Though Your Sins be as Scarlet, they will be Whiter than Snow!"
There is a
cost to Him (He paid)
and there is a cost to you (you abandon pretence, but not Him!)
When one looks quite simply at this world, one finds law, one finds contrivance, method, algorithm, program, script in symbolic format, life dependent on symbolic directives for its generation, regeneration in healing, growth patterns, disease resistance and brain in patterns of incredible complexity, laying bare scope for rapid cognition; while beyond all program, liberty to resist its results, to ignore them or pretend concerning them, there is spirit and its cohorts of understanding (cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 9, Overflight in Christ, Ch. 2, *1).
On the other hand, there is no less - or not categorically less rather - exquisite conceptualisation exhibited in the equipment of blow flies, mosquitoes with their incredible array of surgical instruments and the power to deploy them inventively, of snakes with their weaponries implemented with grand and decisive lethal powers, in the arrays which produce plagues of sickness, stripping the land bare, or invading the defence forces magnificently arrayed in man, in opposition to all disease.
On ALL sides there is contrivance in flesh and life format. On the ONE side there is beauty and goodness of vigour and vitality, differentiation of plan and purposive capacity, magnificence of power and astonishing provisions for thought and conception, cogitation and origination, and on the OTHER, there is ugliness, sickness, disease, there are hundreds of horrors from tics and fleas, to spiders of surpassingly venomous powers and fish and extraordinary speed and subtlety of design, made in one unitary thrust of imaginative deadliness, such as shakes or stingrays or giant octopuses, stretching hundreds of feet.
It is useless to pretend. The skill, cogitation, power to manipulate symbols with skill and to provide interpretative receptors to perform the tasks which the symbols portend, and indeed the capacity to correlate both of these things with the regenerative and healing modes incorporated, and the instinctive parallel powers to ward off needlessly easy extinction, this is on all sides. To be sure, there are the laughable oddities, such as the Bible mentions of the ostrich, leaving her eggs, but this brings in a new dimension yet again.
There is in the hyena and the rat, a certain subtlety for destruction, and in the sloth a certain laziness for life which inhibits action but not humour, just as in the ant there is the precise opposite, as if they were communist ants, all set on the making new records of selfless endeavour in order to impress Stalin, who is not for his own part, famous for selfless endeavour. There is the clever artifice in strategy of the fox, and the capacity simply to follow in the sheep. In man, there is all of this, with the power to choose or confuse, to analyse or simply devise, so that he may in measure elect his style, and some of these styles are as it were mimicked by the animals, or if you prefer, paraded by man.
Thus with the ingenuity of the symbolic manipulation, combined integrally with the engineering facilities to respond to orders and execute them in life, there are three notable aspects which, like them or not, are there to be found. The first is beauty and goodness, where in the generosity and helpfulness and reliability of some men, or in sunsets, a liberal profusion of artistic magnificence; the second is assault and devastation, whether in spider or octopus, in man's militancy or in that of the lion; and the third is the presence, on the one hand in instinct, and on the other in choice for man, of various predatory or noble, sacrificial or vicious procedures and purposes; and with this, there is the comparability of much that is in man for choice, with what is in various lower order creations, by instinct.
What then is the source of the order, the law, physiological, programmatic, conceptual, executive, of the faciliation of integrality, so that a fox is not fur plus tail plus eyes, plus skeletal apparatus, plus brain, plus instinct plus power to run, swerve and crawl, but a creature of wit and wonder, some beauty and much cunning, who as ONE acts the purpose for which ALL is contributory, but NONE of the parts the being itself ?
What is the source of the evil embassages of plagues and the surgical instrumentation so visible and precise, integrated with exactitude of scope and power to harass, wound, infect and trouble, in another facet of life's formatted realm in this world ? What again is the basis for the institution of the ironies of man's choices in the light (or darkness) of some many of the bad offices found in nature, destructive and even torturing ?
Now it is easy to find that the visible being by nature contrived, requires for its limits and delimitations what does not share them, for to impose these things is one thing, to be the recipient, it is another; to make the language of life is one office, to run on it is another; just as to go to work each morning to the building in the city is one thing, to build that building to construct the purposes and strategies of the business, that is obviously quite another.
The necessarily invisible realities on which the
visible is based, are inevitable. But are they one or
many ? Is there a whole universe of these 'realities' or is there one being ?
Let us suppose there were a universe of the prodigies of communication, creation and construction which must lie behind the appearance of the same, provided you do not believe in magic, which would in any case require instead its own realms, only called differently and given a bizarre irrationality instead of a call by reason. Let this universe then exist. What is its cause ? What caused the prodigious brilliance of these contriving agencies ? And agencies ? What institutes intelligence and where is the source of initiative ? Required is what possesses not merely intelligence but power to institute it, power to think it through and impose it in integralities of life. The qualities of purpose, thought, contrivance, executive skill and fashioning originality are all required. Nothing less than a person has such powers.
Let then there be many at least persons in such a realm. They must communicate, mutually co-operate, since their putative existence depends on what is being found, as we have just seen. To be joint supplies they must act jointly. Who made the 'universe of the invisible' wherein they work with such prodigious results ? and who invented the common languages, for the power to think and to invent and to induce common agreement, all of this, with the symbolic facility and the referent attribution functionality, it is logically required. Again, magic or logic. We are giving a reason and so follow logic as before. There must be, then, the integration and origination at least person, who invents these powers and their facilities. (Cf. The gods of naturalism have no go!)
Since this must be one, lest we require the origination for two and their common grounds, as before, then we need not pursue further the concepts of middle agencies. We come to ONE power and personality (at least), in whom there is all of this, who is thus the Creator.
But why is there this diversity ? why is there scope for such supernal felicity, profound happiness, intense creativity in man, the product created, the creature, and such fell provision for pain, suffering, devastation, destruction, with SPECIAL INSTRUMENTS to MAKE it happen, instruments with the very gift of life and even instinct ?
How could ONE make so much good and evil, if in this case, we mean by evil 'the power, or provision or operation of what is destructive of harmony and vitality in life,' merely as a first phase from our observations.
We have earlier considered the impossibility that God (the AT LEAST PERSON and ONLY ONE BEING back of it all) needs anything, psychological or self-fulfilling or any buttressing, or product from man or creation in order to be content, and this willowy folly is not worth repeating, for such a Being being deficient in what it requires, is by definition already IN a system which it does not control, and so only a creature. (Cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 8 for example.)
Why then, in all simplicity and rationality, following the reason that we use to defend ANYTHING in argument, or to PROJECT procedures and inventions, why has God made these two phases ?
The good is not hard to find. Being creative, He creates; being brilliant, His devices show it; being AT LEAST personal, He acts personally, knowing all things, He elects to make integralities of purpose and means to ends, called living things, and to make them on a scale of capacities towards rationality, until formal logic comes to man.
Why however invent, positively invent, and invest things with power to spoil, ruin, harm, extort sufferings and inflict pain and terror, including the power of plagues to work such things on a vast scale ?
It is only possible, then, that this is done because of the state of the creation. Why however should this be so, such as to require such treatment ? Only because of the liberty which we use continually, including now, in deciding whether to follow and read one more word of this, or not.
Liberty means power to love what is good, and fine, and harmonious, and what does not cause meaningless suffering (as by cutting off your own arm and so on); or not.
It means capacity for rapacity, and rapacity can mean ruin to other life.
Why then did God not make life without this sort of liberty ? That is a contradiction in terms, which is implicit in this question. To make something ABLE to do evil, you have to provide the facility and the opportunity. To make something able to good, no less. Liberty requires both. To imagine you can so construct as only to allow the one or the other, in the first instance, is to deprive of freedom, and hence of the power to love, to have friendship, and aesthetic delight, for then it is all mere programmatic imposition, without meaning or reality for the object in which it is invested.
Creation of life and reason, choice and so love scope, this requires the contrary power to be operable. Selection of those, who, known in advance, would alone do good, and failure to create the ones who would elect to do otherwise is a pretty picture, nothing more. Liberty is not mere abstraction; you must be able to follow this or that. If there is no 'that', then the world of your liberty is not a world of liberty, unless of course you have so desired such a world. It might be argued, But what if God, having foreknown all, selected those who WOULD so desire, and hence did not bother to make those who WOULD (as seen by Him), desire evil.
Then the liberty would not be tested, would be abstract and conceived by the Creator only, would be a hothouse of pretence; for no other thing being provided, no other scope, not other way, the non-programmed but foreknown persons involved would not be able to deploy their liberties, find the tests or resist the traps, wisely discard the ways which beckoned or illustrate the devotion to duty which knows no interest or gives no scope for the beckoning ways of will adrift, which lie open in liberty.
Would that matter ? Yes, for then liberty would not be EXPERIMENTAL LIBERTY, DEMONSTRABLE LIBERTY or even PRACTICABLE LIBERTY. What it meant, what was its significance, what was its portent, its grandeur, what its scope, all this would be concealed. But such a deprivation of truth and demonstration would make of heaven a haven indeed, but not a place for activated choice, merely foreseen option. The demonstration of the nature and grandeur of liberty and love, friendship with the Creator and with one another before Him, this would be unknown.
It might be further urged, But what if God had lecture sessions for the ones who sought Him, and TOLD them all about the things He foresaw that they would resist ? Would not the potential boredom of such lengthy discourses be small pain compared with the suffering this wilful and cursed world has, cursed because of His displeasure and disjunction from the evil opted by many, and the results which in liberty, accrue ?
Here there is an implicit assumption that the minimisation of pain is an ultimate and essential purpose, and there is no basis for that. Boredom, too, for those who love what is being presented, is for that matter, not a proper perspective, EXCEPT to the extent that this boredom might be felt because of the frustration that might be felt, in never being permitted to experience the realities discussed, the trials imagined or the stings shown, when evil is elected. It might be like students given endless discourses on chemical analysis, but NEVER, no never, no, not hardly ever but NEVER allowed to see it happen, to experience and perceive, to rollick in the downs of delight in moving FREELY away from folly into truth, and moving with excellent liberty in the slopes of magnificence. It would all be voice only, that alone.
More importantly, however, pain is unpleasant and one could argue that its removal is good; but that is so ONLY if pleasantness (since we have used that term now) is a necessary good, and so good that it evacuates all competition for our attention. Is it better to know the truth, and to do it, or to feel pleasure ? If the answer be, Forget about truth, just give me pleasure! then since reality hurts if you impact on it, or it on you, without due caution and proper relationship., by the very nature of the case, you CANNOT have what you opt for. Instead, you merely gain unpredictable pain in a nightmare of dark ignorance.
The realities are not there for mere abstraction, but for actual experience, and creation is not cheated out of its options by an obscuring of the issues, but rather given the full measure of its realities by what we call history. In this, the outcomes and the incomes, the mind of man and the Mind of God, the rules of man and the RULES of God, the wisdom of man and the WISDOM of God, the initiatives of man and those of God, the loves of man and the love of God, the realities of liberty and the exposure of cant: all these things actually occur.
The evils are allowed their full scope, at times, cut short at other times; and the enticements of evil are allowed great office, and sometimes last hundreds of years, before their inherent folly catches up with them, and they perish, as in the case of Rome; or they may be able to ascend as it were to the skies in arrogance and self-sufficiency, till they become a by-word, and then sink in the slush and vomit of their disdain for virtue, and fall into the very mines of their own vices. It is all shown; and it is all tested; and nothing remains now but the direct affront on God, which more and more obviously is coming into fashion.
Is it even then a matter of mere power ? Not at all; for mere power does not satisfy reason, one of our created gifts. Power to push is not the same as truth, and since we are created, the only sane and reasonable thing, in the spiritual realm, is to find out WHY. This is not a matter of guns or cutting off heads, hands or doing other inane seeming things, stating cruelty and implementing what for all the world, en masse, seems a demented delusion, to be excessive in understatement.
Thus there is trial of the saints, as in the Inquisition, as in the notable case of Archbishop Cranmer, who weakly having agreed to follow the dictated line of the sovereign, and make a plausible peace with what he knew and had shown to be evil, in Romanism, then realised his folly. Having from the pulpit provided for his recantation, shown anew the folly of idolatry in Romanism, he held his hand first in the flames so kindly provided by the organisational authority of Rome, so that it might be burnt off first, as a fitting detestation shown for his former weakness, and as you see in Foxe's Book of Martyrs and other works, there has been courage, and constancy, sanctity and wonder shown in the lives and persistence of the saints in the love of God which demonstrates to and for all time, the reality of the love. You will recall that the devil sought to taunt God concerning a well-known figure, a rich and famed one, Job, claiming that Job served God because the pay was good, in effect.
God allowed the devil to test Job (cf. SMR pp. 92-95, and see Tests, Trials and Triumphs in Temptation), removing in the end even health, since the devil further taunted that if you give a man his health, even for this, he will lick your hand.
Job was tested, and his discussions at times verging on blasphemy, but in the end, always looking to God for vindication, and in Job 19 trusting Him absolutely for redemption, show the reality of faith, and what happens when it is stripped of all other support, at least in the case of this saint.
In this way, eternity is not a place for question; history has already supplied the answer. It is not a question of mere authority; the laboratory of history has provided the experiential and the experimental answer. For that, it is worth it.
But what of the evil men commit, is there no justice, then, or does truth hold itself in abeyance ?
Far from it, for God insists on justice. How then could He do so if ALL have sinned, and one is perfect, as is not very difficult to find out experimentally, either! God has provided us, as we saw, with intelligence and a field for history. With His intelligence, He has provided both the means for the institution of our own, and for its information through its exercise.
Is it then a case of our having to work out what God wants us to do ? For example, do we have to read His heart by some instrument ? Of course, this is not so; for what instrument can read even the heart of man, and far less could it do so to the infinite, the unbounded Creator! We have simply to read. God has not left in meaningless rupture the creation He made for the want of words (cf. The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy).
It is not so hard, that, to read. So we look in all the world for instructions, since life and death require instant knowledge, for the end is near! There is no TESTABLE book which in the face of IMPOSSIBLE demands, meets them, so providing its own attestation of its authenticity, but one. There is nothing near that one. There is at this level no contest. It is called the Bible, and it has flooded the earth for millenia. Its every word (and there are many predictions, declarations, compendia, collations, attestations, data of grand and small kind) is fulfilled; nothing ever fails; the type and scale, scope and patterns of the pronouncements is unlike anything else, for not only is it vast, it is testable, not only in some things, but in many.
Nor is this all. As the pattern in genome for man is ONE (cf. Lord of Life Ch. 5, Ancient Words... Ch. 9), and the book of life from the ALL-KNOWING GOD is one, so there is in the book, and in it for man, ONE person, focal in feature, who there stands defined in history, described in narrative, depicted beforehand, predictive for what is to follow, statuesque in dignity, evocative in mercy, unique in power, indestructible in argument, arriving on the date prescribed for centuries, defying death, unable to be captive even with the bars of the grave, filled with grace, with compassion, with healing as if it were all in a day's work, as it would be for the Creator.
Not only is there one Creator, one book, on central figure, but there is in this one figure, ONE SALVATION. There is no other. Prescribed in detail in Isaiah centuries before the works which made it happen were done by Jesus Christ, this Gospel was the exact one delivered by the exact deeds foretold, on which it is based, these being the deeds of God as man. Predicted as to be rejected by Israel, who would kill Him, this Messiah, this Christ, this only Saviour of the Old Testament, becomes the MANIFEST SAVIOUR of the New. Foretold as providing the Gospel which many Gentile nations would in no small measure embrace, this same Christ described the end of the Age before His next step, judgment, in detail as we have often seen (Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8), and it is there, to be seen by those of the laboratory sort of mind, and the scientific sort of appetite, and procedure.
Nothing that ON THIS BASIS should not be there, is there; nothing that ON THIS BASIS should be there, is not there. As in the life of Christ on earth, in all the numerous points as foretold, so the life of the nations on earth, as His return comes near, is all its multitudes of points, goes like a stream in its course. Nothing moves but history; and it moves only as foretold.
This ONE SAVIOUR is not hard to find, attested by millions for millenia, His power is no different now than ever, and events such as those of Elsie Salmon with her healing in miraculous and public manner of enormous numbers of people both in South Africa and in England (cf. SMR p. 339), attested broadly by professional and church alike, is merely one of the attestations of His power, as always when He was on earth, neither sensationalistic, for the works are done but not "promoted", nor undramatic. They happen as He resolves.
What then IS this salvation ? It is abundantly simple. It provides that the Creator loves what He has made with the power to think and worship, understand and be akin in heart to Himself, but not its violation of His virtuous prescriptions. Not wanting to abandon us, as He might have done by simple destruction of all as in the time of the flood (when the nature of things was made clear), He has foretold in such a way that reasonableness cannot reject it, the coming of the Saviour, and HOW He would save, and has done and caused to be done all that was involved, entailed and written.
It is His desire that we should KNOW HIM personally; and to this end, He has made a method of covering our sins, by having Christ die for them, as God in the flesh, AMPLE enough to cover any number, as TRUTH in fleshly format, covering those who would come, and do come, and to accept this salvation, and covering them wholly, fully and completely. When death is the penalty of the evil, as is the case, it is not very subject to misinterpretation when somebody else dies for you!
Having done this, and having in infinite wisdom settled all accounts, having known and foreknown all who would be His, this ONE God in His ONE Saviour in His ONE salvation, has spread the news of it throughout the earth, saying, "Who has received our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed!" (Isaiah 53:1).
"By His knowledge, says Isaiah, shall My faithful servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities," says Isaiah 53 in prediction. It is simple. The cost was not small. The experience of inhabiting the guilt of our sins, to cover in justice and due judgment their folly and evil, this is amazing in its sublimity delving into infamy for charity. It is however DONE and done by ONE!
It is so simple when you are reasonable. Sin is not.
God did not forget even this, and has thus sent out the proclamation of the path of peace (cf. Isaiah 52:7ff.), declaring beautiful the feet of those who "bring good tidings" and "publish peace." It is simple, it is good, it is news, it is the word of God, it is the work of God, and Christ did it.
You do not need to DO anything, for HE DID IT. You DO need to receive what He has done, for what mother does more than prepare the meal ? Does she force it down the throat of her grown family! If you do not want it, then you starve. Fair enough ? That, it is entirely reasonable. You have not wanted it ? then you need to repent for this implies only evil of God, as well as folly on your own part, or at best ignorance of your Maker, and hence of His will. What is, is and if it is wrong, then repent.
Repent, it is one thing; and trust Him, it is one thing; and believe in His Gospel, it is one unalterable thing (cf. Galatians 1), kept clear already for three millenia (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17 with TMR Ch. 3), accept His salvation, it is one salvation, and thank God. Then finding Him, you WILL treasure Him, for OUR MAKER IS a treasure incomparable!
Even a child can follow it! and many do, just that. In fact, Christ said that you must resemble a child in order to enter His kingdom. It is not in dizzy dashes of flirtation with death, mental, physical or spiritual, yes or all of them, nor in heady clashes with truth, loitering, perspiring in the dens of hot air where rationality is mortified and swagger grows rancid (cf. SMR Ch. 3, Great Execrations ... Ch. 6, Delusive Drift ... Ch. 3), that you come; nor is it in swaggering prestige, inflated ego or pompous pride. Rather the entry is in the clothes of repentance, that these being removed by His grace, you may be dressed with the garments of praise, and covered with the fleece of the lamb who died for you, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God (cf. I Peter 3:18, 2:20ff.).
It is then that you find the brilliant harmony of inevitable truth, answering all things (cf. SMR Ch. 5, Repent or Perish Ch. 7), and asking of you, Do you love Me ? as Christ asked Peter (John 21). If you do, then love is that essential not lacking; if you do not, then you took the wrong bus, and did not listen to the invitation. Instead of flying like an arrow to the truth, you fled like a fiend as if a bus could atone for such wanderings. Get off, and find the one marked, ONLY SAVIOUR and ONLY GOD and ONLY GOSPEL, and joining it, finding the Driver, speak with Him, for from Him is the knowledge of life.