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Don't be Haunted by Hebrews, but Vault on it!
Fear and Ultimate Failure for your life ? Forget it, if you are Christ's.
Christ has triumphed and there is only PEACE!
This is not to say that a Christian never fails. God never fails. It IS to say that the character of the people indwelt by the Lord, in His regal presidential power and grace, are CONTINUALLY changed, like oil in a car, like an oak that grows, like skin that is healing. Defeat as a way of life is not an option, any more than weakness is a norm with atomic power: unless the power supply goes wrong.
CHRIST does not go wrong. That is what is so wonderful. WE may; HE does not. I John 3:9 is quite explicit: a PRACTICE of SIN is NOT a procedure, but a parody of the Christian life.
A Christian may slip and be disciplined, as David was, quite severely at times; like Moses, who was deprived of a beautiful consummation, but not of a triumph in his life's work; like Jonah, who, to be sure, became on one occasion petulant, almost like a child, though his heroism was profound and his efficacy enormous. Christians are nowhere near perfect; but involvement in the scheming net of sin, in the callow troughs of its dives or the soaring pinnacles of its arrogance is not endemic. It is, like any other sickness, fit and ready for discipline. Often, people who are too holy for their own good try to correct before God does: not that correction is wrong, but it can be as callow as the fault, yes and more so.
Holiness is a twin of humility, and a brother of grace.
However our topic is not the nature of sin, but of salvation. It is raised by many who read Hebrews and quite incorrectly exegete it as if it meant people could STOP being Christians, as an engine can stop. It is simply an outrageous suggestion, contrary to almost endless promises, principles and provisions. Please see Christian Assurance. SINCE God's seed or birthright provision of spiritual engendering, remains IN YOU (I John 3:9), you are uneducable to be different, undivertible to be someone else's, and indeed, John wants you who believe to KNOW that you have eternal life NOW (I John 5:12ff.), just as Jesus wanted His sheep (John 10:9) who find life by Him, to be aware that it is not POSSIBLE for ANYONE to snatch them from His Father's hand (and that includes the wicked wilful impulses of your own flesh, as well as that of anyone else, or any spirit - ANYONE); and to know that they will NOT in fact, perish (John 10:9,27-28).
There is a divine APPOINTMENT (I Thessalonians 5:9-10) which GOD will keep, and it is the case, very simply, that if you are a Christian, a regenerate member of the household of faith, then you are APPOINTED NOT to wrath, but to obtain salvation. Thus, you are KEPT by the POWER of God (I Peter 1), to an inheritance which neither is able to fade, to sully or to vanish; and it is RESERVED for you. Thus again, IF you are ever justified (and you are nothing to do with Christ is you are not - cf. Romans 5:1, Titus 3:7), then you will as a matter of fact be GLORIFIED (cf. Romans -30, -17).
People often confuse the NATION or CHURCH of a given day or way, with the individual. Certainly there are similarities which can be traced; but the profound and principial differences include these: the nation is MANY people who at a given time may with their leadership fail, as Israel at times did, to the point that this CONTEMPORARY multitude are given an exclusion notice, as Judah was by Jeremiah (25) for 70 years, and the North was by Hosea (1), without mitigation, except that in the end, there would be a return to the Messiah by many from many tribes.
The righteous remnant, clad in the clothing of cover by the sacrificial certainties of the Messiah, would always continue (Isaiah 51:6, 10:20ff., 8:12ff., , 25:8-9, 30:18ff., 30:14-24, 42:3ff., Joel 2:26-27, 32ff., Isaiah 37:32ff., Micah 2:12ff., Ezekiel 14:11-17, Isaiah 46:3ff.); and as to the Church (Matthew 16:18ff.), it CANNOT be extinguished, for it is not a body of a formally called character, but consists of those begotten again, kept by the power of God. These, they may have to leave their denominations (Romans ), but they are themselves unavailable for destruction as Christ declared (cf. John 4:14ff., ).
What then of Hebrews 6 and 10 ? The verses here often cause some to imagine things without adequate thought, and to involve themselves in woes without reason. Let us therefore consider THIS PERSONAL PART of the DIVINE AGENDA, for the Christian, in the very light of the book of Hebrews.
1. The Nature of the Case
We are dealing with people, in these two chapters, who have had certain involvements with the Lord, His spirit, His word, His powers. This is the case of Matthew 13, of the seed which fell on the shallow ground. It dies.
Case finished, you may wish
to say ? There it is. Spiritually, then, a Christian
Not at all: if we examine the word of God, in this parable of Christ, we find this: that the elements are interpreted for us. In Matthew 13:19, it is clear that the seed is the word of God, which someone can hear and yet not receive. Thus , v. 27, "he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself,
but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles." Thus the seed is the thing that is received. The ground is the person who receives it. The ground does not die. The seed dies.
Thus it is possible, indeed, for someone to be IMPRESSED with the word of God, to REJOICE at hearing it, and to be MOVED to act in terms of it, to a point; yet still to be STONY-HEARTED, never breaking up the fallow ground and not to be gripped by the root structure, or deeply penetrated. Merely, perhaps, someone has said: YOU WILL FULFIL YOURSELF BETTER AS A CHRISTIAN THAN NOT! or some other rubbish. Thinking only of him/herself, the person then assesses the results in the short term, and finding that it is not so fulfilling to be put in prison, or as happened to the author, to be slandered at the outset, while defending the Bible: some such will leave, abandon the cross and being lost, wander into the gloaming, spiritual drifters. When the power of God is found, as again happened to the author in that case, and deliverance, though a high degree of testing may be given, and triumph follows, after many years, so be it. The Lord has SHOWN His wonders, and the person being born of God, grows in God (hence II Peter ).
Incidentally, to take that 'fulfil' case: the real fact is that GOD will fulfil what He has made and has in mind better - that is beautifully - when you are His. YOU forsake all (Luke 14). HOW then would you be secretly pining for YOURSELF ? It is flat contradiction, and such 'gospels' are pure delusion. GOD made you and knows what He would like to use you to do: DOING THAT IS fulfilment, because HE KNOWS. If you love Him, that is sufficient. It is also very developing, and what you have given up becomes a mere symbol of what you find. But it is not YOU who do the assessing; you are on board for the Captain. It is just that when you know Him, you know that He is wonderful, better than all the fulfilments in the world, and it is best to serve the best, and better still to serve your God, who so surpasses all things, as to remove the very thought of comparison. This is the life more abundantly, a companionship, a moral strength, a personal direction which, though by no means sybaritic, is dimensionally like being let out of a yard, or going from a puddle to the ocean.
Hence John -15,10. It is involved with KNOWING Him, and He is love, serviceable to the point of death, spiritual in life, grand in conceptions, merciful in heart.
Stopping short of knowing Him (John 17:3) which IS eternal life, knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, such people then, are mere experientialists, evacuees waiting to go home, walking in their own thoughts. The word of God penetrates their thoughts, not their lives. Their rejoicing is ephemeral, superficial, a reaction more than a response, or a peering rather than vision. The seed dies; and they are left like a burnt house in many cases.
This brings us to the point about the topic in Hebrews 6 and 10: that it is a matter of COMMENCEMENT, of the initiation of things spiritually. It is nothing to do with slipping in and out; if the fault develops here, that is the end of it!
"It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame" - is the word of Hebrews 6.
This is not a mere symptom of some slight spiritual sickness. It involves
If you do that, you are an enemy, are you not ? Would you crucify your parents ? This is no superficial aspect; but a Judas-like betrayal, shameless and graceless, AFTER (again like Judas) having been shown the wonders of the Lord's power, the grace of His words, the touch of His Spirit, the glow of the gift.
You "rejoice for a season" to return to Matthew 13.
is like the nose cone.
Consider a radar-sensitive flying drone.
Here you have a small-winged little object, perhaps 12 feet wide, which is a mere energised little glider. But place on it a nose cone, equipped it for receiving and sending signals, enabling it to be manoeuvred, to fly low to spy, high to evade, this way to inspect and then home, and you have something transformed. Once in the air, it tends to be efficient, effective, moving in its appointed ways, with a living person behind the scenes, perhaps at a truck at the site of launch.
If however the cone could not be attached, the special equipment were in some way damaged in the effort to attach it, then the drone could be a drone indeed, without any hope of attaching the broken slots and attachment sites.
So when a person is beginning (it is not the time it takes but the stage it reaches which counts) to relate to Christ, and the conscience is pricked, the heart warmed, the mind infused, the eye awakened to new dimensions, and THEN the disastrous non-linkage occurs, yes, then it can be fatal. It is all a matter of the engagement. WHEN it IS made, then the result is sure. If Christ is despised in the process, and the heart turns, the mind is titivated to some selfish desire, the heart moves to another, insult follows and folly rules, then of course you have a non-flying drone. You have, to change the image, a baby born dead. It never lived; it merely contorted in the womb.
Again, we have Hebrews 10, in close conformity to the above: "If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation... Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?" - Hebrews 10:26,29.
These are no light things, but the grossest of unholiness and hypocrisy, of deformity and defamation. It is parallel with and to be interpreted by this: that such people have TRAMPLED underfoot the Son of God. This, it is like crucifying Him, like exposing Him to an open shame, like jeering with the jeerers, sneering with the sneerers, considering the whole process of salvation trivial if not trite, a small and unworthy thing. This is not some communication difficulty or failure to grow, some slip. Consider the scriptures, look at Jonah, at David and consider how merciful the Lord was with them. The Spirit strives with the flesh, and vice versa (Galatians ,24, ). Holiness is not perfection, but prevailing in the Lord, as character is built and grace is given.
Now notice there is no
question of someone JUSTIFIED being lost; but rather someone who has been set
apart in some way, sanctified; and this is quite possible, for consider how set
apart Judas was! No, the redemption Christ purchases, says Hebrews, is ETERNAL
(Hebrews ), and the assurance of being kept if you are HIS, is that
of an anchor. What of this anchor ?
THIS is the property, the keeping place of those who have "fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us" (Hebrews -19).
This is what we find in
this very SAME chapter 6 of Hebrews!
These who are His ? They are not only covered by the blood of Christ, and hence justified (Romans 3:23ff.), but they also are covered by this blood in terms of the everlasting covenant (Hebrews ), given for the redemption of transgressions, so that "your sins and your iniquities I shall remember no more" - Hebrews . This blood cleanses from ALL sin (I John 1:7ff.).
It is thus that by ONE
offering ONCE made by the ONE Redeemer, "He has put away sin by the sacrifice of
Himself" - Hebrews
9:23-28. This is done, and indeed BY ONE OFFERING He
1) sanctifies (Hebrews 10:10), for there is no need of repetition of sacrifices for this and for that
2) perfects for ever (Hebrews 10:14), since all possible offering is condensed into this one, and when this covers, all is covered, the life is covered in one substitutionary emplacement, as in Romans 5:7-10.
It is FINISHED, and it has NOTHING to do with your works of any kind (Ephesians 2:1-10) that you are HIS. HE has chosen you (John ), and you shall not perish. As such you are ordained to go and bear much fruit. You are His, a purchased possession kept by the power of God (Romans 5:1-11).
This issue then in Hebrews, is the very different question that may arise with some. It is that of beginnings, spiritually, of entering in far enough to glimpse, to taste, and spitting it out, despising the sights, bringing contempt on the things perceived, showing scorn and antipathy to the very ONE to whom and from you alone, you could gain salvation.
is rather like coming into a family and enjoying some hospitality and then
going out into the town and degrading, denigrating and exposing slanderously, everything
you can think of, and bringing your heel down on the house. It is so, except
that this is a spiritual house. But there is something far
more important, in building up an understanding here. It is this.
3. The Assessment of the Case
The involvement is PERSONAL, not mechanical*1. It is with One who BECAME A MAN, not some esoteric and incomprehensible oddity, some capricious sovereignty, but LOVE, the God who SO loved the world, the God who having made peace by the blood of the Cross, desired to "reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven" - Colossians 1:19ff.. In Christ the WHOLE FULNESS of the Godhead dwelt in bodily form (Col. 2:9, ), so that GOD has done it Himself. YOU do not need to add your meritorious deeds, marvels practices, praiseworthy deeds and so forth. THAT would be an insult! HIS work is infinitely pure (Hebrews ), and this suffices. His work was that of deity, and infinitely adequate. YOU are a sinner, and as a sinner cannot meet the standards, whether it be the LIMITS of your understanding, the IGNORANCE of your heart, the DEFILEMENT of your perspectives or the PRACTICES of your life, here or there.
To fail to see this is really all but on a par with not knowing God at all. God is a consuming fire, and we, quite simply, are not. THAT is the standard to be reached, and now, when born, we are constituted sinners (Romans 5:1-12), so that we need to be reconstituted in a different mould (Romans ). Actually, as Romans 5:17 tells us, by ONE MAN'S offence, death reigned; and now it is necessary that by ONE MAN'S righteous act the gift should be received, being first made available by His work (Romans 5:17-18). To fail to see yourself as you are is the same as failing to accept the remedy for what you proudly do not conceive to be your disease, and so dying in sin, in the end, irremediably.
IF now you should dabble and then despise, be enlightened in measure and then trample under foot, and slander, derogate and deride the truth, then your case is coming perilously close. It is an act of pride, folly, ignorance, unspirituality, disdain, disregard, high-minded pretence and so forth. In the process, it aborts the gospel and bruises the conscience, invades the tissues of the heart and makes of a sickness, a breach. It ridicules the remedy AFTER being exposed to it; it flings contemptuously out the window, the blessed capsules, if you want another image, of peace.
Thus what never began, soon ends! That's all. In prodigies of grace, the Lord can still pick up some (cf. Jude 20ff.); for it is He who discerns when the point is reached, and HE IS A PERSON, indeed the source of all personality. It is not some strange, eccentric process. What then is it ? It is a judgment by the ONE WHO WOULD HAVE all to be saved, who has foreknown all His own people, who calls, justifies and keeps them, that this is the seared conscience that does not stand again. It is really only possible to go to hell over Christ's dead body, over the grandeur of grace, despised when once enlightening the eyes, storming beautiful into the skies, and acting in its power.
The grievous case is simply that, spiritually, of a still-born child. It never was what it never gains. It was lost, is lost and stays lost, after its blindly superficial fling.
But as to CHILDREN of God! The former case is like a speck of dust compared with a planet! Did David for all his faults in his great fall, cease to be a child of God; no, he foresaw the Lord always before him, in case he should totter (Psalm 16:8); did Joshua, for all the foul-up, the calamitous fiasco of Ai; did Elijah, even if he did feel once like dying, and leave the presence of a very wicked queen as if in fear - no, he carried on his task, chose Elisha to succeed him, wrote a letter to an erring king which continued his testimony on years after his life's thrust, gave example to all, completed the program, found peace in the Lord, completed his task. What of Hezekiah who most imprudently shared spiritual realities with pagan people, in an intimate manner ?
Hezekiah ? He was rebuked very sharply, but the Lord blessed him for the rest of his life. He even contributed to Christian NOW the severe warning to avoid admixture of spiritual living with unspiritual people: DO NOT be unequally yoked with unbelievers, doctrinal innovators, ecumenical falsettos, inspired by new winds of folly (II Corinthians 6:14, I Corinthians 5:11, Jude 3:10, Romans 16:17; see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7).
What of that king's disease when in profound distress he wept (Isaiah 38) ? The Lord healed him, even at that. He continued in the triumph of his Lord to the end (cf. II Corinthians 2:14ff., Romans 5:17).
of Ezra for all the strong testings, Nehemiah in his
mourning and enterprises of faith and burdens, of Jonah even if his ways were
in need of being shorn of selfish stylisation ? All
did their task, completed it in the midst of troubles, triumphed in the end,
humiliation or not, labour or not, false brethren or
not, false modality snatching at their spirits, or not. All were willing to be
corrected, as children are, by their true and godly Father (Hebrews 12).
4. The Exhortations of Hebrews Itself
But now look at the book of Hebrews. In both Chapter 6 and Chapter 10, we find that this atrocious situation does not belong to the concourse of hearers; it was the exhortation which was needed since they seemed almost rubbery in their resistance to proper growth in understanding (Hebrews 6:1-3).
Doubtless, as Hebrews, Jews, they were having their fair share of problems in finding the new understanding of Christ, of the New Testament covenant, of disregarding the so solid seeming stones and ceremonies of the past, as mere shadows, symbols and seeing things in the fresh light of Christ. In some ways, it was rather like people leaving primary and secondary school, to go more deeply into things. Hence there was a danger that they would actually draw back, not go on, having tasted these things THAT is the context, the position and the case!
It is from this very context that the exhortation, then, so much as arises. It is a most IMPORTANT one, but it is a highly specific one, and one of the utmost gravity. It is nothing at all of an aerial, a spiritistic kind. It is plain, simple, and profoundly insulting, dismissive and gross. It concerns the heart and pith of the very Gospel itself.
Then, the writer of Hebrews
(6:9-10) in God's name exhorts them confidently and positively like this:
"But beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." (Emphasis added.) And LOOK at them as listed in Hebrews 11!
In other words, EVEN in
this specialised case, the speaker is assured of
better things for them.
It is just that they must not draw back as they come to an understanding, but be encompassed by it, very much as in Ezekiel 47, the waters flow to the ankles, the knees and then must sweep on till one has to SWIM in them, carried on with their grace and motion. These are the waters from the altar, representing the Spirit of God, not speaking of Himself, but as He hears, so He speaks, coming from the Father and sent by Christ (as in John 14-15).
It is necessary then, in one's heart, not to undo the incarnation, as if spiritual things were esoteric and odd; but to realise that in God you are being dealt with, you are being encompassed by a PERSON, Jesus Christ, manifest on earth, filled with grace, conveying peace eternal, joy that no man can take away, eternal life. It is with HIM that you deal*2. It is always with HIM that you move, and to HIM that you look, and from HIM that you gain the understanding, for it is in His NAME, and it is HE who came as SAVIOUR. HE is the focus (Ephesians ). Christ is all and in all, says Paul (Colossians ) and it is in His cross that you glory, and all it entails and implies (Galatians ) - NOT therefore something else!
HE is the rock, He the stronghold, His are the keys (Revelation -19), and knowing Him, you trust Him, trusting Him you please Him. It is no matter of this or that experience at this or that time. It is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory (Colossians ). Children must grow. If at this time you had this holiday or affection or friend, and at that time, another, then grow. It is not looking BACK but ON which is commanded (Philippians -15). Then as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord, it is HE who knows HOW and WHEN to manifest Himself (John -23).
It is not that all is lost
because there is growth, or rebuke; it is that all is yet to come, and looking
to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we set aside the sin which so
easily besets, and run with patience the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1ff.).
It is the nature of such a race that you may not see what is around the corner;
but it is no use being so mesmerised by what was on
the last turn, that you collide with the lamp-post on the next! Christ is not
forgetful, and it is HE who gave in the past who will give in the future. THAT
is what the bride in the Song of Solomon found (
When she had indeed let her master down, and found Him ill-pleased, so that the intimate fellowship was temporarily withdrawn, that she might seek Him, SEEK HIM she did, NOT the experiences of the past. In this is a profound lesson. Imagine one who is so bemused by the exact feeling of some past outing with a romantically attached person before marriage, that she forgot to attend to him in the next occasion! IF SHE LOVES HIM, it is on HIM she will concentrate, not on the texture of experience. It is then that it will grow to the mature beauty that it should.
But let us look now at Hebrews 10, in its exhortation (10:32ff.).
These are already people, then, of faith, although, in their assembled total multitude, there have been sluggish tendencies, and dangers of recoil. Some might indeed so act, but the writer of Hebrews is assured of their own assurance, speaking of the whole, and reminds them in exhortation so that they realise to the full the dynamics of discovery in spiritual life, and proceed without fear, by faith, growing robust like mature nuts on the tree.
Remember, it is not the TIME it takes which is the most important question; it is the RESULT which is reached. Some children are post-mature taking an enormity of time to come; but IF they come IN time, then all is well. In this case, it is not a natural but a supernatural process, and it is the LORD who as a person controls it all, knowing full well all things. IF you come to Him, He is on record not to cast you out: Faith is not unfashionable, repentance is not unrealistic, the word of God is not mocked. It acts. You come, you are received. THIS in itself is the test. IF you are His, you are in the habit of coming to Him, as a friend to the house of a friend.
Do not then allow temporary feelings and unhealthy emotions to thwart your growth; for if you are His, and you are if you have so received Him according to His word, you merely ask for chastening! That, it is not profitable, except in this, that IF it is necessary, it is far better than not. Do not however allow such things to become needlessly necessary by allowing the problems or peaks of the past to preoccupy you. As in driving, this is a marvellous way of having an accident, which though it does not kill you, is scarcely helpful. Be then occupied in Christ, who, occupied in you, Himself brings forth the fruits as you abide. (Cf. Questions and Answers 6.)
YOU are a Christian ? Be sure of it, be clear in it, as the people of the Hebrews were made to be. Accept it, accept HIM, and all He has done, and draw near to Him in full assurance of faith. WHATEVER your weakness and as you see, they had their own of a very special character, overcome it. Overcoming is not a grace like perfume; it is a rule of the road like the right (or is it left) hand side! (cf. I John 5:4, Romans , -17).
But IF you ARE His, then act like it, walk like it, look like it, and be fearless with courage for the faith, in the power of Him who WILL not give you any test too hard (the promise of I Corinthians 10:13). Indeed, rejoice infirmities, as Paul advises (II Cor. 12:9-10), knowing this, that His grace is sufficient, and testings help towards usings, and serviceability for Christ! Better a donkey who carries Him (as in the Palm Sunday case), than a stallion who merely flares his elegant nostrils! (cf. Luke 14:26-33, Matthew cf. Tender Times for Timely Truths Chs. 3 and 4). There is, and can be for the Christian, NO COMPARISON with Christ! In HIM, you are complete (Colossians 2:9-10), who is the exact and definitive image of His Father (Hebrews 1:3).
THIS, growth in grace, looking forward WITH Him, not back on this or that in the past as a preoccupation, this is the DIVINE AGENDA. Heaven is the divine agenda; fulness of joy is the divine agenda, and walking with patience is the divine agenda.
But you want to run ? If need be do; but first WAIT on the Lord (Isaiah
40:26), and then mounting up with wings as eagles, you will both see more
clearly IF it is necessary and cover the ground more adroitly! Christ,
remember, is all and in all. THIS is the agenda for Christians. HE leads to and
uncovers the wonder of the Father, and the Spirit leads to Him; but HE is your
Redeemer. Be content in Him, as engraced in Him
(Ephesians 1:6); for His magnificence leaves every other avenue trite and
trivial*3; and in Him, you are brought near,
and indeed, as you abide, what does He do ? But read
John 14:21-23 and find what He says! But this ? It is
not to be sought; it is to be FOUND. It is like love between friends; you do
not seek its expression, but as you are friendly, so you find it.
EXCURSION into STATISTICS, SCIENCE and SPIRITUALITY,
REDEMPTION AND ETERNITY
The personal is not less, but far more demanding that the mechanical, just as the person who MAKES mechanical items, not only HAS mechanical aspects in the body, but IS ALSO a person for whom this is merely a subject of survey.
Many fail in this elementary fashion, imagining the one who knows what is perceptible, less impressive than ONE of the many items of his/her knowledge, understanding, imagination and value structures. SO absurd is this pretension, that many, like Hume (SMR Ch. 3) image to themselves a distorted if not aborted human nature, not at all resembling the scope and sweep of the actual one, as if its own validity and value were irrelevant, and the results of its exercise were not at all related to what it found when exercised. Statistics, as in the Kinsey report of many years ago now, are made into some kind of value system (though it is a flat contradiction in terms to do so, since what happens may be either right or wrong), and worse, it is deemed desirable to follow it, or proper, or an index of wisdom.
Absurd and quixotic if not worse, would be the appearance of the endless seeming mish-mash of questionnaires being displayed and parlayed from salesman, investigator and reporter these days. Which way do you align toilet paper, top down or under, was one of the most delirious parts of one project. Do you do this, or that; then it means this or that; or suggests that we could sell you this or that. 'Science' is speaking. Genuine, undiluted statistics are on the rise. They hold out their clammy hands to tell you all is well or not well, depending on the things that are normal (common is another word), or found to be profitable (that is, to make more dollars than they lose, in the current market climate), or non-sanguinary, or sanguinary, or whatever the case may be.
When science speaks, multitudes think of the moon and the transformation from romance to one little step and one big one, and being impressed, tend to listen. Science however is merely a form of knowledge, gained in one particular manner, tested in another, so that IF you can test adequately, and IF you know what you are talking about to some extent in the first place, then it is possible it is correct; and that it is not; until further testing relates it to the whole structure of such knowledge, which increases in stature as the cross-links cohere.
Back of all this however, is the understanding without which no figures mean much. Take a case: suppose a man was asked approximately how many pleasure units he got out of using shaving cream 1 versus 2, then this would pre-suppose, first, that the whole concept of pleasure units was sound and descriptive; and second, if so, that it was a datum measurable for man.
If not, it would resemble asking how many trunks a cicada had.
Is pleasure to be found in units ? They are not known. Could they be devised ? Of course, the only real question would be this, To what do you relate ? If it is to intensity of enjoyment, then what are the nodes ? If it is to duration, what are the time spans ? If it is to both, what is the relationship of each to the other, and how to you quantify it, what functions do you use, and what is the empirical basis for their mathematical compilation ?
These answered, you need to
consider and resolve this: What is the relationship also of joy to pleasure ? of peace to both ? and the inter-relationship of each to the other ? and what is the UNITY in terms of which each is to be given
significance and signification ? What is man ? How do
these invisible aspects or elements relate to him and to one another
? What is his eventual
destiny ? How do these elements relate to that ? What is the relationship of values to joy or pleasure or both ? What values are just ? How do you measure which is more when one may be defective, like a sickle cell anaemia producing gene, given time, and when defects relate to objectives, in the first place, and what are these, and how right are they ?
It is like trying to arrange assets for someone whom you believe to lack them, or plaster-cast a leg which you opine is not in existence; or not knowing the relationship of the leg to the body if it were there to have one.
This is not science but statistically governed, socially conventionalised drafting at best.
That is the problem with statistics and human nature in particular. It does not say what is right, what is the correct design, what is the nature of things: only what is happening to whatever things or parts of them, elements or facets you happen to realise to be there, or imagine to be there. Since so much is not subjectible to things visible, the invisible items of motive, personal principles, beauty and truth, mercy and kindliness or cruelty, pace and agony, creativity and dulness, the very concept of 'mechanical' style quantification tends to be two steps ahead: it assumes itself relevant, and imagines it can measure in the first place.
Even if it could, it does
not tell you what you are, what your aspects are justly, healthily and
ultimately. It is like going to a service station to have a car fixed, when the
mechanic does not realise the thing had to be
manufactured, never consults the manufacturer's handbook, is unsure what you
should use it for, is not quite convinced whether perhaps cars are properly
used for wrapping around lamp-posts, in that the statistics do not quite
re-assure him on the commonness of the event and to what extent it realises the ambits and ambitions of the participants. As
in the case where Everest climbers have a certain death rate, quite a large
one, the 'problem' is leaving a 'researcher' unsure just how to construe the
comparative propriety, or normalcy, or value, or drive, or motivation or
whatever other facet or feature is to be made into a goal to be achieved, to
what priority, or thing one should do or desire, a god to worship by implication; and
when to call it heroic, madness, feverishness or fiasco.
commonly, in social
conventions and religious confusion
while making himself ever so important.
and telling himself how
very godlike he is,
what profundity attaches to his knowledge,
how much better than primitive savages he is, and -
while deploring his tendency to kill,
children, youth, infants, or
on the other hand, even in some cases conceiving it just fine,
or possibly as a sacred duty as with certain Palestinian elements,
if at all restrained,
as often he is not –
he may be found admitting
to some degree of ... need for more research on such topics.
But is it past ? Perhaps, statistically then, it is after all present because of bloodshed, which actually empirically happens. Perhaps some research project could investigate motives and make psychological pronouncements, all worked out before the testing, to show that it is/ is not good to shed blood; or is good only if it is done for this or that reason. Carefully prepared statistics could show that for every child maimed, some young men are happy; and for every happy young man, there is more production and so on; until even the blind must begin to see some at least vaguely discernible results of the pride and folly of man in disregarding the manufacture of man, the handbook for man and insisting on acting as his own measure, measuring himself by himself in just such a way as the apostle Paul deems 'not wise' (II Cor. 10:12).
The divine agenda is for this to continue to the uttermost, till the antichrist figure in the temple is showing himself that he is God, so managing to be only infinitely wrong; while seeking sovereignty like a combined Hitler-Stalin who, instead of fighting, just rules (Revelation 13,16, II Thess. 2). Humanism out of control is quite as deadly as any other idolatry. The powers it can invoke depend only on the interest of those malign forces, and the permission of God, as the follies, so many, in their laboratory exposures, mount to heaven in aspiration, and descend to hell in destiny (cf. Isaiah 14, Jeremiah 51:24-44, Ezekiel 31:10-16).
Meanwhile, in favour with the statistical many is religion as MY sacred self, sacred sites, sacred nation, sacred fulfilment, sacred egotism, sacred enterprise, sacred sops from socialism, sacred life thrust or whatever is merely another name for rebellion plus invention. As Ecclesiastes puts it, "Behold, I have found this, that God has made man upright; but they have sought out many devices" - .
Wisdom, as Job put it, is not found from nature:
cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the
precious onyx or the sapphire.
The gold and the crystal cannot equal it; and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels or find gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls, for the price of wisdom is above rubies.
Whence, then, does wisdom come
? And where is the place of understanding ?
Seeing it is hidden form the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air, Destruction and death say, We have heard its fame with our ears.
God understands it way, and He knows its place."
Job proceeds to indicate the mathematical bases of the universe and the propounding of its material from the invisible God (as in Hebrews 11:1-3, and Isaiah 40).
In reality, the things that are visible, and do what comes naturally, without creating it, were not made from the visible, which is simply their site, and not their father; and the power that propounded all things has finished its task. It is like a baby born: the cradle does not have what it takes it make it, only to hold it up, its situation not its creator!
As to Him, it is now for us to find His will. That is readily resolved with logic, in view of the actions of God, since creation, in creating an expression of His will in writing, as likewise in DNA, and sending His everlasting word in human format to speak as God in the coat of man, so that all might realise to the utmost, the exalted state of man in being made fit for fellowship with God, at the first and hence able to create, and to the last, wrestling with perspectives and programs, to see whether they fit with what is, or merely jar; whether they cover the facts, or merely dismiss them. But there was more: it was that all might see likewise the depraved condition of the creation called man, but this without hopelessness, since the Creator deigned to use man's own format to ransom all who come to Him in faith.
Any thought of such original heights may for some be hard to bear, just a sad divorcee may find it hard both mentally and emotionally to envisage once more her first time as finance; and this the more poignantly, when the debased degradation of man is everywhere apparent, like weeds among roses. But it is in any case, merely an exaltation of model that is in view, one seen most vitally in its production rather than quality, to this day. It is the crash which has spoiled it, foiled its prospects and brought in divinely declared criminal charges (Ephesians 2:1ff., 4:17ff., Romans 6:23).
Fortunately for man, Christ has borne these for everyone who comes to Him, shedding His blood for MANY, as He said, and offering Himself as a sacrifice without stint or limit; though knowing full well whose are His, and who will be availing himself or herself, young or old, of this bounty. The account was big enough; but the funds are never transferred ineffectually (Romans 3:23-28, 8:29ff.). Justification is free, and glorification is inseparable from it. Paid up, you are brought up. You CANNOT be justified without being glorified (Romans 5:1-11), and you cannot be justified without being redeemed (Romans 3:23ff., 5:1, Titus 3:3-7, Isaiah 53:11). If redeemed, you are justified by His unremitting declaration; and when justified, to glory you will go.
How often the pundits fight, both being wrong.
There are indeed many who have made false claims as if they were His, and on them His irony is to be found (II Peter 2:1 cf. SMR pp. 1124-1125); but as to the redeemed, what is redeemed is forever by eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12ff., 6:19-20, Hebrews 10:10,14), His. He knew them and saved those whom He knew, in a manifesting of the eternal knowledge of God (II Timothy 1:9). There are no if's, submersions, contortions. Many fail in futilities of stress and striving; but as to arriving, you do or you do not. If you are His, you do, and these are many; and the blood is shed for these (Romans 4:25ff.) who are thus justified. It is of those for WHOM HE IS DELIVERED UP, AGAIN WE FIND, in Romans 4:25ff., that there is the inseparable justification, introduced by "THEREFORE", in Romans 5:1.
As Romans 5 so acutely
shows, once justified, declared right with God on the basis of redemption
effected, then NOTHING will prevent the entire and eternal salvation of such a
God's payments are effective,
and that lurking part of humanism
which infects the philosophy of many,
even of opponents of Romanism as appears at least to be the case in the Dave Hunt recent excesses on this topic,
and would have payment made for all,
They can escape
- neither the contradiction of the many contrary scriptures -
- as shown for example in Romans 8:32ff., where those for whom He was "delivered up" are without fail raised up with Christ, and given all things,
made inseparable from the love of God, as Paul is convinced -
- nor the exaltation of man, who then becomes of necessity partner in salvation in the most deplorable contradiction of Ephesians 2, 4 and Romans 3. Where YOU make the difference in status, YOU are a parturition officer, a mid-wife, an author at the divine level, an exponent capable of the very standards of God. Such is the contrary of the divine depiction of fallen man. Risen, man is then assured (I John 3:9).
No, the word of God is precise, and He, the authority of scientific method, ONE of the phases of human knowledge useful where applicable, one of the branches of logic, indeed the author of the author of scientific method, well knows how to pay for what He buys and to buy what is His.
Such is His love that this is no mere sovereignty exercise - and oh! HOW man loves to invent a philosophy, call it theology, and ram it into the scriptures (as in Mark 7:7), thereby making vain the word of God, like a child forever scrambling an equation and then and therefore misapplying it ad infinitum! God is sovereign but this sovereign is called love (I John 4:7ff.), not as a definition of God but of love, and HIS is such a desire for the lost (I Timothy 2) that He WOULD HAVE them all to be saved; and such a knowledge (for His foreknowledge is beyond all things and works first - Romans 8:28ff.) is His who seeks with pity (Luke 19:42ff.) of the utmost profundity and integrity, and takes with certainty of the utmost security and specificity. He never loses any who are His, and lays down His life for His sheep; others simply dying in their sins (John ).
GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING. To fail to purvey His purposes accurately is dangerous to one and to all. If it is perilous to intercept it or in any other way misalign, what of man who does not even apply himself to the word of God, or rejects it ?
When man does not find from the word of God the will of God, His plan, program, principles and procedures, lurks in statistical shadows, and puffs himself up with false theology, not gained from the word of God, or 'science' as if nature could tell him what it is for, or whether it is a model or a butt, and then tells people what to do in terms of what people do or mere assumptions about what they OUGHT to do, as if description could translate itself effortlessly into prescription: then what do we have ? It is a comedy that is tragic, and a tragedy that is comic, and it is loss, waste and delusion.
The divine agenda allows for such delusions in principle as God is departed from, as in Romans 1, and in ultimate practice, as the disease and pathology in its syndrome develops, as in II Thessalonians 2. What then of the prediction that the trend will be for man to become "despisers of those who are good... heady, high-minded" ? It is just. What of the generic, also in Romans 1 as in II Cor. 11 in a particular case, that men, esteeming themselves wise, will become fools ?
It is happening. It is not just error; it is misguided and ludicrous error. It is sad while sin is sovereign in the deluded, and the vultures prey on them, and the gurus delight in their practices, and men follow them as if anything would be better than God, anything would be of more service than His love, any way better than His narrow one.
The way of God is one, as in science, well-defined, and excluding much therefore, just as carefully wrought scientific definitions, in the fields where it has just empirical bases, can do. Yet the many appear to consider any walk superior to THAT SPIRITUAL ONE (not just SOME spiritual one) which is that of child with his Father, where he walks as redeemed by His (efficient as well as loving) Saviour, who NEVER FAILS, who loses NONE (John 13:1ff., Romans 5:1ff.), because He knows what He is doing, and pays the price, which is right, for what is His. Redemption is not some effloresence of emotion; it is hard cash. It is the blood of the Lamb which is effective for all who receive Him, though not at all for those who trample it under foot (cf. Ch. 9 above).
What then? it is under foot (in the case of Hebrews 10), because it is not taken to heart. If your heart were under your foot you would be a contortionist.
Not such is the love of God. It must once and for all be realised that as to God, He is brilliant beyond all luminaries, wise beyond all savants, the author and original, the devisor of the very thing itself, the mind of man, by a mind so far beyond this, and by His Spirit so utterly and infinitely above, that freedom itself is His donation. As to inculpation, He takes this on Himself for the repentant into life, who come where it may be found, and take as a gift, now and forever, in substance and in method (as in Romans 5:15), in spirit and in empirical fact (as in Romans 3:23ff.), through grace and without works (as in Ephesians 2:1-10), what He is offering.
As what then does He offer it ? It is as sovereign Lord, not as pal, as play-mate or dithering dynamic.
Be still and know that I am God, He declares (Psalm 8). He does not say labour and share with Me the mighty things that you are doing, in case this may bring you somewhere, and look, here is some blood, see what you can make of that.
Sometimes the lack of due and proper Christian assurance (Romans 8:16ff., I John 5:12ff.) comes from just this intrusion of the carnal heart of man, whether into the construction phase, where nature is being made to invent itself before it is there, or allied spiritual madness, or in the reconstruction phase, where the nature of MAN is being made to invent its own holiness in whole or in part, before it is saved, so that it might be found, and the crown jewels of Christ are parlayed into some kind of co-operation which is devastatingly alien to scripture and hence to God.
NO! says Ephesians 2, for we are ourselves "HIS WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus to good works". It is a creation, it is not a recreation, a pastime, a process, a sport. It is an intervention, not a match. Salvation is of the Lord, not of man, not of his will, or blood or anything whatever about him (John , Romans ). It is an act of God who knowing His will, has His will, and shows mercy from His own heart and hand, without redress because in His knowing of all things, there is simply no need. "You," said Christ, "do not believe because you are not of My sheep", but as to His sheep, "I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep," and "I ... know My sheep and am known by Mine!" from John 10:26,11,14.
AS Shepherd, with the tenderness of a nursing mother, the firmness of a trainer, the grace of Autumn's foliage, the depth that made the oceans, the rule of a prince, the solicitude of the greatest of friends, the knowledgeability past all medicine, the captaincy that the Creator alone has abounding, the wisdom never attained by the wise, His sensitive omnicompetence attests in heart what His word shows to the mind. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand" -John -28.
We look then, in spiritual things, not to the empirical, the statistical, the descriptive; but to the principles and procedures, the word and the wisdom of God. It is reinforced and realised by His actions, but stands like the Statue of Solicitous Lordship by HIS WORD. Right is not found by what people do, for people may elect to do wrong, or may do right. The word of the One who did the work is the criterion of the affair.
Statistics, therefore, here is an index of rebellion, not one of rational
grounds for behaviour, far less of truth. There is
nowhere else adequate, and nowhere else available but to the designer. That
makes it exceedingly simple. You just have to receive it as a little child and
children never take any part in their creation. The purchased possession is of
incalculable value in view of its purchase price, and nothing can remove it
from the Father's hand (John -28, Romans 5:9-10, ). God knows what He is doing, and
He does it. Great is the grief, abundant the mercy, but clear and precise the
foreknowledge from which predestination flows, and settled forever the objects of
effectual calling and divine and saving grace (II Timothy 1:9, Ephesians 1:4).
Thus you do not need to ponder the imponderable. Christ is not revealed for nothing; not for mere formality is He incarnate as man, revealed in His ways and accessible to the eye as one ponders the Scripture. The word of God rules.
If you sin in ANY way, whether it be in lack of response, lack of lustre, lack of love to the Lord (as in Revelation 3:20 where the restorative movement is clear), then it is indeed important. Love being the very name of God, it is no small thing if one’s love is cold. Remember that it is to a CHURCH in Revelation 3 that the Lord is speaking.
In the Song of Solomon Ch. 5, the bride having been cold and self-righteous in mood, is shown up to many, humiliated and thus broken down from too precious selfhood. In the process, she remembers how wonderful the GROOM IS, and SAYS so in no uncertain way. Seeking Him for what HE IS, she finds Him.
Thus if an individual is in need of spiritual revival, has grown too cold, too formal, or unserviceable, or even begun to become self-absorbed instead of Christ absorbed, then it is assuredly time to seek the Lord with care and prayer and, casting aside the weights whether psychological, emotional, ideological or other (Hebrews 12), walk only for and in HIM. He is not far off; He is near. It is not His will that anyone should be cold or astray. He is the Physician accessible, and free in His services. He may chide; but that is why one should then be VERY careful to seek Him diligently, and to be prepared for a cleansing, purification, purging, refreshing.
The Christian knows this: SEEK and you shall find. SEEK HIM and you will find in Him completion, and know your place in the fulness of God who fills all in all, and in His body, over which He and He only is Head. You will find the savour of the Saviour which does not alter, but can alert to the beauty of holiness.
Thus the whole idea of ruining other people’s lives, maiming and molesting them in violent efforts to force their submission to your merely political ambitions, is scarcely to the point. It is true that intemperate oppression, as in the Sudan, can lead to mere slavery, often quite literally. A people may arise to defend themselves from brutalities and slaughter. However, that is a political matter and not a religious compulsion. It is, indeed, not an option lightly to be followed; and its object is NOT to do to them as they did or try to do to you, but to deliver your people from misrule that slays their lives, not to make things nice and comfortable. Patience is a Christian virtue, and violent initiatives are not the mode of approach.
Christ is the temple, and it requires no real estate. Religion is NOT founded on locality, however much the Lord may USE locality to make points for His own word and faithfulness. It does not DEPEND on location, except in this, that you be translocated into the Kingdom of Heaven (Ephesians 1:3-6, 2:6, Colossians 1:13 and see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 2).
Remember that HE did not crucify, cut off hands and show His mercy by defending Himself with swords! (John 18:10-11, Matthew 26:52-53, John 18:36-37). He cannot be taken over, evicted, or crucified again in the flesh. There is no danger of armed interference with His liberties, nor is there possibility of exemption from His service, since though He WAS dead, He is alive forevermore. HIS are the keys of life and death, heaven and hell (Revelation 1:17-18), however misguided pundits and pontiffs, gurus and pretenders in His name may seek to manipulate or manoeuvre, direct or oppress the people of God.
There is no need for competitive bids for His real estate, spiritually; nor is there any insoluble problem. HE is IT, and HE is beyond the reach of man, who put Himself into this world that man should not be beyond the reach of the love of God, paying for the severance cost, for the reunion, and opening a door so sweet with savour that it is as if spiritual roses were entwined about it, flowing with blooms. Their beauty is the beauty of holiness.
There is room for all, and for none is severed the spiritual access, by faith (John 6:37). But how many have entered ? THIS is one of the lessons of the book of Hebrews. It is not only a matter of considering whether one shall ACCEPT the Lord in His complete fulfilment of the sacrificial, ceremonial pictures and procedures of the Temple, as for the Jew, whose Old Testament patterns were indeed from heaven. It is also, especially for the Gentile, a matter of His complete overturning of the rudimentary follies and philosophies of this world, in favour of the sovereignty of the Saviour, God Himself on earth, who has cut the cords which bind, those of sin.
Negativity is free! In that case, man BREAKS the BONDS of divinely imparted morality and grace, and severs the connection with truth (Psalm 2:3), blind with impotent glory; and when this is done in the very light of His countenance, as if to attack the gangway to God, despising the salvation and mocking that on which one had begun to place the feet, it is then that the contemptuous becomes the contemptible.
It is never sin which kills in the ultimate recourse; it deserves to kill ultimately; justice requires it; but mercy intervenes. It is the special sin of rejection, of sundering the cords not of only of morality, but of spirituality, indeed and crucially, those of redemption when they are near enough to be cut: it is this which is fatal. It is precisely like an operation. If you have cancer and only an operation can save, and only one doctor can perform it, and you knock over the operating table and aim a gun at him, then of course it is apparent that his services are not for you. In the spiritual case, this is ultimate dereliction (John 3:17-36).
But on this we must
be abundantly clear: there is no fighting to receive Christ. He is free. There
is no limit to His love, it is ample. It is available to faith with repentance,
according to the word of God; the one so coming is NOT cast out (John 6:37). It
is never that GOD is not LOVE, but that MAN will not receive it, believe it, or
must maim the Gospel with works or self-respect or some other fiction, and
refusing the diagnosis, make doom the substitute for delight.