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The chief End and
the chief Friend of man
Come! Let us be very practical...
WHAT then is it that should be sought ? and what should be done in the world of nations, and the micro-world of life, and the personal world of pilgrimage and the spiritual world of the chief things, the summit and the governance of life ? (Cf. Benevolent Brightness or Brothy Bane 82.)
One hears of the German industriousness, the Italian colourfulness, the French sophistication, the American enterprise, the British self-control and cohesion (or one used to do so perhaps more than now), of the Australian independence of spirit (though less of mind, perhaps). More intimately, one learns of this person whose life is to be to the full, abundant and vigorous, but to what end ? For the maximum sifting of experience ? for pleasure ? for variety ? for what then ? Again, another wants power to do, be and have whatever appeals. For what purpose ? so that there is satisfaction with oneself ? a sense of attainment ? for what purpose are all these things !
In international relations, does one adopt a most superior attitude and do business, if it were possible, directly with the devil, or to be more practical, devil worshippers, whose country is named for it ? or to soul slayers, whose young are to be immersed in indoctrination camps and 'subdued', or taught until they 'learn', by whatever degradations, tortures and humiliations, that they are nothing, the State is everything, and the State, it is run by MEN!
From the Biblical perspective, which alone has validity (SMR , That Magnificent Rock ), the case is always far simpler because the parameters and the ideals and the principles are set. There are still rather abstruse questions to answer from time to time, but the structure is plain. It is rather like having a new traffic light installed on a dangerous corner, where one must wait long to find a safe moment for crossing amidst the multiple turnings which meet there. Then it is RELATIVELY simple, for one simply waits for the light, and then, ensuring that no one is drunk or drugged or turmoiled, to the point of being fierce or foolish, makes one's way quietly to the turning one desires.
All the above falls simply into place now. Biblically, one DOES gain abundance of life, but NOT as the aim. The aim is never selfishly contrived, considered or conducted. It IS however PERSONALLY conceived, amidst other PERSONS and below the magnificent BEING who is called God, who IS personal (SMR , A Spiritual Potpourri Ch. , , ).
One does have power to do whatever He wants (notice the capitalisation!). One does not get it at a power machine, like the drink vending machines, but from God. One does not arrive in HIS presence in the first place, in order to relate and proceed, except by REPENTANCE from all the sin which has been to DO what appeals to one, to SEEK power to do one's own will, to FIND the work of one's own hand as the summit (Luke 13:1-3). Clear and categorical it is. That line of life, indeed, is to ignore the maker which is a type of theft, a species of unspirituality and a work of self-will, whereas the self was not made by the self, and hence does not do well to act as if it were.
In repentance one comes to the ONLY NAME which is provided to man for his salvation, his deliverance from feckless unspirituality and his transfer into the operating zone with his Maker, God (II Cor. 5:17ff., Acts 4:12). That name is the Lord Jesus Christ, who made clear that it is no mere commerce, in spirit, which is instituted, like trade between two nations. It is an inter-personal friendship which is deep, pure and powerful, transforming and true. It involves obedience, it allows liberty and indeed grants it. It is not paradoxical, for in many things liberty is granted within principles; and employment is often, but not always, one of these cases, the amount varying. With God, we read that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (II Cor. 3:17). We find that "if the Son shall make you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:31-36), and that this statedly relates to knowing and doing what He says; indeed, to knowing the truth, which sets free.
Many have sought things along some of these lines. They want truth, realising justly, that without that they are little better in understanding, than educated brutes, machines or devices. Without truth, one is subject to the darkness of ignorance, the mistakes of mindlessness and the depths of depravity, all unknowing, or more realistically, in view of the tenuous but not non-existent residual relationship with the Creator which all people have, without effective insight. Conscience may trouble, or be troubled, thought may hope, or seek, but there is no knowledge; it is all operational felicity or otherwise for dubious ends, which, however much one congratulates oneself on effectiveness, are neither calibrated nor tested.
One lives then by oneself, for oneself, with oneself, whether oneself seeks pride or prestige, satisfaction or self-realisation, or merely bread, in various amounts, and this is an insult to the Maker of the same, as if His manufacture counted for nothing but to be ignored. It is an insult TO oneself, as if its mere operation were the summit of its place, duty and responsibility: an eft thing of irresponsibility. One acts as if one were the centre of the universe, when one is a product. It is invalid, the work of an invalid of heart.
THE TRUTH FOR ONE, FOR ALL, FOR ONE TIME, FOR ALL TIME
Assuredly it is right to seek the truth, and to avoid the chasms of meaningless, presumption and arrogance (cf. SMR Ch. 3, pp. ff.). When it is FOUND, as shown in SMR, in Jesus Christ and in Him alone, since HE alone is the way, the truth and the life, appointed and sent to exhibit it, being in Himself the living Word of the Almighty, then one has place. Then right and wrong are not notions but facts; fulfilment is transferred from self and its various extensions (not to be excused with extenuations) such as family and city, to the fulfilment of the will of God. Christ Himself made it clear to the disciples (John 4) in the episode of the water and the Samaritan woman who realised with many there, that here was the Messiah, that He Himself had a meat to eat which was not measured in what we would call calories or cholesterol. It was what ?
"My food," He declared, "is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work!" (4:34).
Was HE not free ? but of course, yet voluntarily in humility, sacrificially in service, not to 'the community' which is merely microcosm of this world - but to His Father. As to that other 'possibility', he who loves the world is not of God, James tells us, it being an abortion of the true place of love, with the Lord who made man - He and His Father were ONE, He declared. WE who are His by personal reception, are adopted, to become brothers under His Lordship. Nevertheless, His Lordship is not one of dominion and authoritarian rule (Matthew 20:25-28), like that of flinty dictators, corrupt politicians, where the means may be devious but the result is the same: it is one of service, not as if the recipient were not personal, but in view of the fact that it is.
HIS service is so principled that the RICH young ruler went sadly away after coming RUNNING to Him in search of eternal life. Christ LET HIM GO, and did not try deviously to pin him into making 'party contributions'. If the man was not willing to follow GOD AS GOD, then there was nothing more to be said. If GOD is not your object, YOU are not His subject.
That is what God is. He is the I AM, the author and the finisher, the one who comes and presents, absolute, invariable and the truth.
When, then, in repentance of life, you come to the Lord and seek His face, you know the truth, for He gives it, His written word states it, His person IS it, and you have the dignity which is not pride, the situational felicity of knowing who you are, why you are, Him who made you, and His purposes. In the reference above in Matthew to service, we see that the acme of activity in this that He "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many."
It was NOT for all. It is available and desirable; but it covers what it put under it. The "we" in Isaiah 53, who are "healed" are the "us all" whose transgressions are laid on Him. TRANGRESSION is the impact in view, so that what is 'healed' in verse 5, is the correlative of that, and in particular, the correlative to the punitive whipping, namely the soul that receives pardon in the premises of guilt, and concordance anew with God, in the place of separation. This is the process imminent and actual as one believes (John 4:14, Matthew 20:28); and it is that for which the final coverage even in the resurrection itself of the body itself (Romans 8:18-23), is the procedure eminent!
The generality of the spiritual offer is delightfully found in the particularity of those who believe (Isaiah 53:1) and believing receive, receiving are stripped of sin, as of booty, and arriving without encumbrance, are covered by Him who knows the skin of the body, and the purity of the soul, and how to achieve both.
Thus the knowledge of the truth, which makes one truly human, which is the fulfilment which is just because it is designed and necessary to be in the image of God operationally, depends on first repenting and secondly receiving Him as the ransom price for the sin which deserves death, and which, till justly purged in His vicarious provision of Himself as butt for it, and offering, is the separating wall between man and God, ignorance and truth, living death and abundant life in the principles, purity and presence of one's most loving and gracious Maker. Receiving Him NOT as suggestion box, but Lord and God is then the realisation of reality; but what a Lord, who being in the form of God, became in the format of man to deliver us who believe!
You do not have to ask about your income or sins, your pluses or minuses: come and receive and He who is true, will receive you. But make no truck with pretence, and do not imagine a four letter word, Lord, is the answer. It is the ONE, the PERSON to whom it belongs who is the site, the paragon and the power, so that He even rebuked those who THOUGH RIGHTLY seeking in the Bible, did not FOLLOW its directions to HIMSELF, not another with the same name, but to the ONE WHO CAME and SPOKE as no other ever did (John 5:39,40, 7:46).
"You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
"I do not receive honour from men. but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me: if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honour from one another, and do not seek the honour that comes from the only God" - John 5:39-44.
He as God in flesh had no need of 'honour', but we who are not God have every need of His presence who came, that He might bring us back to the one with whom He shared glory before the world was, Himself the very I am, the word of the living God.
As to those who are in the "we" of Isaiah 53, whose sins are consigned to Him (and gratefully! Isaiah 66:1-4), they are not to find out by awaiting the 'draw' from some gambling institution. You come and you are in, freely (Isaiah 55:1-4, Galatians 5, Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:8-10). That is simple, but the cost of surrender is far too high for many, when they count it (Luke 14:28,33). Moreover, there is the actual coming, and as with dinner, it is wise, if you want it hot and readily available, to come when called. Thus it is not so simple really, like the case of some lackadaisical lord, or as if it were some supermarket, though it IS most free; for you do not WANT to come today, but did yesterday and so on. "SEEK THE LORD WHILE HE IS NEAR," says Isaiah 55. If however one does not want the truth, then one does without it, and is wholly responsible for defrauding oneself of this destiny, and making oneself a waste product, a thing eternally detrimental in this exalted area, where humility is the beginning and friendship with God Himself, the end (Psalm 51).
How simple then all the thoughts of fulfilment and attainment and knowledge and truth become. They are all sown into one bag, all of one kind, all aspects of one rainbow, all filaments of one lamp, strings of one harp (and what a harpist is HE!), all cohere when they are found in the right place, like a beautiful mathematical formula, simple and clear, and 'powerful' through the knowledge it implies, and its correct relationship with the world of events. But this! it is more than events - though not less. It is the stable of the horse, the dock of the ship, the nest of the bird.
HOW LUDICROUS, the Lord intimates, the thought that asses can know their crib and birds their seasons, but PEOPLE NOT KNOW THEIR PLACE IN GOD, and with Him! (cf. Isaiah 1:2, Jeremiah 8:7).
"Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times, and the turtledove,
the swift and the swallow observe the time of their coming.
But My people do not know the judgment of the LORD."
how does this affect the international sphere ? What sort of result does
this imply for trading with imperfect people ? WHAT ABOUT PRACTICAL RESULTS ? yes even in business. HOW God hates oppression (It is from HIS word that the idiom "grind the faces of the poor" is found! - Isaiah 3:15ff..) In a free enterprise system, there may be as many faults as freed partisans can perform, depending on the Christian law back of it, or not! But in some systems, the LAW back of it is oppression itself!
First, then, we are all imperfect, and so it might be said, let us trade freely with all.
However is this a sufficient criterion ? Thus as to our nation, some of our people murder. One might draw a gun and kill 1000 people. Is he also imperfect, one of us, of no difference, to be tolerated every time he feels the yen for the men, or the children, to kill, kill, kill ? I think not. Do we then make certain rules at a broader level: IF A NATION attacks and subdues other nations for mere profit and power, or philosophical satisfaction, that is too bad! It is like our case in the individual, but now applied to a nation. Did we then not deal with Hitler in 1938, on the ground of his actions ? WAS it so ? or did Chamberlain bring 'peace in our time'. One still seems to remember the picture of him coming down the aircraft steps, with a piece of paper, assuring this, months before the World War II!
What if man had so resisted him in moral principle and outrage, at that time ?
If this had been so, it would undoubtedly show a resolve that he could have read, and attest a morality which could impinge, and fortify those who look on, as leadership tends to do in difficult cases, the one encouraging the other, and all discouraging the bully.
What however if a nation should enslave its people to the point of their souls. Oh! says one, does not the free commerce country do this, for the rich are like lords, and the poor life serfs! Really ? If one lived in a soul enslaving country, one should soon feel the difference. If money is given too much power, and winning from gambling $10 million gives too much lordship, then over whom is it to be wrought ? Does one go to prison for re-education if one does not sell what he asks, for what he wants ? Is the loss of liberty so profound ?
Can one then not read the desired books, or practice the sought profession ? Imperfect ? Of course. The world is so bad it is not even to be loved (James 4:4), and per se, Christ did not even pray for it (John 17:9,14). Its condition can be ameliorated by graded income tax (such as we have), pensions for the disabled or unemployed (such as we have), aid to the elderly (such as we have); but it is not good. The hearts are not usually in the hand of God by that ONE NAME which He has appointed (Acts 13: 30-38, 17:31) so that it is basically in a rebellious state, even when money and prestige go with it. You can have powerful and well-placed criminals, and indeed, as Professor Charles Hodge of Princeton once put it: the testimony of and evidence for God is so great that it is criminal to neglect it.
puts things in perspective, and on this site we have laboured to show these
things in considerable detail, and with logical rigour. God makes it clear that
His nature and power are obvious (Romans 1:17ff.), and it has been a delightful
exercise to validate that, to follow that lead, to attest that it is so and
cannot be otherwise. Similarly, His expression is unavoidable as also shown on
this site, and
there is "NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN BY WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED" (as Acts 4:11-12 tells us). The name is the ONLY ONE whose actions and words and principles and prophecies never fail, never alter, neither are they adjusted, surpassed or able to obsolesce. Nothing can defile or defy, show imperfections or error in them: as He was, so His words are: truth (cf. SMR Ch.6, Repent or Perish Ch. 2, pp. ff.).
With what nations then should a nation of personal concern and godly thought NOT do business ? or for what criminals should none seek imprisonment ? the questions are not unrelated.
one finds that a criminal INSISTS in principle on killing a goodly number of
people, one should not be likely to hesitate too long, as he is no more than
they whom he kills, and seeks to be arbiter of their earthly destiny in a piece
of prodigious arrogance and violence, so to judge by force without reason.
ˇ If one finds a NATION INSISTS
ˇ in principle on RE-EDUCATING those who do not like the power some of its people have, and
on torturously and insidiously making them believe or appear to
believe that all this force and
violence to the spirit, to the mind, to the way of life is necessary,
ˇ then this is a similar case, and if possible worse;
ˇ for here it is not merely the biological that is in view, but a certain enslavement of the very spirit.
The US independence war may not officially have been fought essentially on slavery, but undoubtedly, as Lincoln told famed novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, she was the little lady who did much to bring it about. It was NOT acceptable morally that people be treated like cattle. It stirred the heart, assaulted the mind, afflicted the conscience, was brutal and unfeeling, irrational and arrogant.
How much LESS then is it acceptable morally that their minds and spirits, even these, be invaded, as if humiliation and slavery of body were not enough, that even in the private entrances of thought, there MUST be acceptance of what puts itself in the place of God, without any wisdom to support it, but violence, any test to attest it, but failure (cf. above).
With SUCH a nation as did such things, how would one then do commerce ? Would our people perhaps decide that it did not really concern ourselves if we are fortifying such a nation economically and socially, and acting as if such criminality of the deepest dye were merely an 'imperfection'; or listening to the ramifying claims that it was all their own business.
ˇ Might not some school slayer with a bren-gun (if it were still around from the Hitler era) do the same ? Do not harass me, says he, it is my own business what I do with that trigger. Let it all work out. I am an individual and who in the world do you think you are, to be interfering with the use of such power as I can contrive to get. Let me stay at school, and I will make some concessions, but I want most favoured group treatment, and do not let me hear one word please, about loss of equality with others. Do you want REAL trouble ? and if I am about to seek to attack a girl on the way home, do not let this trouble you. She should really be ONE UNION with me, anyway, for we used to get around together.
The girl ? it is Taiwan. The boy ? it is the Chinese government. That is one contemporary case. We must here be very clear. It is NOT the Chinese people, a great and fascinating people, often exhibiting a work ethic, a humility and a readiness to be most industrious, and of no small charm. It is the tragedy of our era that this people are now so SYSTEMATICALLY enslaved, with the target no less than this, the SPIRIT and the SOUL and the MIND. So we stand back, and say,
ˇ Well now, we find trade with you profitable and nice, and we are really HELPING your people and all people, as well as ourselves, by not being too concerned about all this!
I think not, not if we are to be in the smallest degree godly in our thinking in this point. We do not FORTIFY by needless commercial acceptance, the régime which so deals (and the results of such indifference show, if we receive the well-attested reports of what the Chinese rulers did with the rocketry data and/or equipment which one American firm so helpfully tested for them, or with the laxly left material obtained from a US laboratory).
One thing often leads to another; and when one acts as a steward in the restaurant of a brothel, proximities can be compromising, disease can be near, and the mute acceptance of such follies to femininity, can be a knife in the fabric of the soul.
If the US loses some of its eminence through this foolish preoccupation with material things, then it has assuredly asked for it, by its equivocations and vacillations on most favoured nation treatment for an enslaver of souls. We want Taiwan, the government chants. Children want all-day suckers, perhaps too, but it is not good for the teeth, and can corrupt the constitution if clamour is merely met, let alone ... routinely!
it is of course true that the soul does not HAVE to be enslaved, at that; but to
watch in commercial felicity while the efforts are specifically and most broadly
directed to just that end, with cunning devices and long years of attrition with
force and guile, it is like saying to someone known to be tortured nightly,
where one delivers milk in the morning: It is no business of mine.
It would help perhaps to tell the
police ? The thing should not be and one should not be a KNOWING participant, or an accomplice after the fact...
THE ECCLESIASTICAL ?
But let us proceed to the ecclesiastical as well as the commercial and the personal in our probe on priorities and truth. If CHURCHES teach that one should fulfil oneself, or worship or acknowledge their greatness, their authority or their power, their wisdom or their might, then they too are infiltrating; and in one way the case is perhaps even worse than the Communist one. For in this case, they even dare to USE the NAME of the ONE through whom one receives truth and life and meaning, to become a friend of the great and humble and loving God, who stopped at nothing short of sacrificial death in the format of His Son Jesus Christ: THEY USE HIS NAME in order to exalt THEMSELVES. THEIR knowledge or THEIR authority is to be above us all. But ONE is your master, even Christ (Matthew 23:8-10). NOT TWO OR TWENTY TWO OR TWO MILLION and one. Take it or leave it: it is HE who was crucified, not the church, as Professor John Murray of Westminster Theological Seminary, so aptly put it!
Thus Romanism like Communism, like all the sects which elevate their wares and do not say, "GOD FORBID THAT I SHOULD GLORY EXCEPT IN THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BY WHICH THE WORLD HAS BEEN CRUCIFIED TO ME AND I TO THE WORLD" (Galatians 6:14), and like all the radical churches which put their philosophy forcibly, if it were possible, into the mouth of God, adjust or limit the word of God, and spout out their own thoughts no less:
ALL of these are likewise at war with God. These too should not be objects of godly involvement, far less membership! We do NOT accept the new Christ made by altering the Bible, of one Uniting Church president before his access to power, and do NOT find it fitting to relate to ANY church which permits ANY such modes or movements, far less when it does not EVEN indicate clearly and incisively (as would have to be the case for such an elevation to power of such a teacher) that the Bible speaks truth on all topics to which it makes address, since it is "immediately inspired by God" (as the Westminster Confession so accurately puts it - cf. SMR , I Cor. 2:9-13, Isaiah 34:16, 59:21, 8:20, Matthew 5:17ff. etc.).
THE RIGHT AND THE WRONG
It is not just or mainly, however, that MANY THINGS ARE WRONG, and SOME FATALLY in this world of personality and trade and social interaction and churches (some so in little more name only as in Revelation 2, where 'deaths' of churches were sometimes imminent through contra-Christ involvements). It is not just a NEGATIVE. It is something PROFOUNDLY POSITIVE.
It is rather the case that there is ONLY ONE way which is right, and this is the logically required, spiritually unique, that of the Christ proclaiming gospel, the word of God the Bible, the God of the Bible who spoke it, the Saviour whom He sent: one God with one word which does not vary or change.
Rome can be sorry for killing in the interests of 'truth', in flat contradiction to Christ, but not indict the criminals responsible, or acknowledge that it was no truth which made a principle of such killing.
Communism can make concessions or release this or that victim from torture of mind, soul and spirit when someone from the US visits; but it is no change of principle.
Lutheran bodies, in a significant percentage, in one group, can re-unite with the dictatorship of doctrine that is Rome, beyond the Bible and contrary to its express prohibition; but it does not do other than alienate the godly thereby. The blood of the martyrs was not shed for luxuriation in equivocation, but for adherence to truth, and Rome condemns the gospel quite categorically (cf. SMR pp. ff, and esp. ; and see News 101, above).
it be this ideology or that, this philosophy or that, this ecclesiastical body
or that, the point is still just one. IF it be with Christ, be happy in it.
Rejoice that His word is honoured, and set above all doctrine, and that this,
not some tradition, is what rules the waves of teaching. If it is not, then
spiritually disjoin at once (after making sure there is no misunderstanding).
some degree of moral parallel, when the question arises of commercially trading
freely among the nations, consider a whole nation's posture, which IN PRINCIPLE
DOOMS or so acts, as distinct from the mere imperfections of any system, which
allows some freedoms that count where it is of most importance.
ˇ Moreover, personally, if you are serving yourself, do not imagine that your exalted ideas or ideologies make one whit of difference in this, that if CHRIST is not SPIRITUALLY in charge, and if his word is not your rule, then you are irresponsibly disjoining yourself from truth, and making yourself by your own foolishness, a servant of sin (John 8:24, 31-36).