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"And do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
In this we shall make use of botanical, of landscaping acronyms for understanding the word of God. We shall find not only the famous "tulip", but new flowers from the unchanging word of God: begonias, daffodils, violets, pansies, petunias, roses, and with them, the olive tree, the fountain, the oak lawn, clouds, gentle-stream, the bridge, the crazy-path and the sun-dial, the paths, the lawn and the shade. They will have much to teach us, from their beauty.
Glory of God, the Beauty of
the Garden of God and
the Wonder of Completeness in the Word of God,
without Flying Buttresses On the Rock Walls
It is not enough, however, merely to talk about Him. It is absolutely essential that one should KNOW HIM PERSONALLY, and that, not in terms of presumption, but in reality. It involves propositions, of course it does, there are FACTS which need to be faced as in I Corinthians 15:1-11, and the faith is definable in many phases, as in Romans 3,5 and 8; and indeed, it must be passed on by faithful persons as in II Timothy 2:2-4. It must not be cramped or crimped, limited or lassoed by partisan squads of violence, which would run the kingdom of heaven "my way", or Wesley's way, or Calvin's way, or Augustine's way, though for all of these saints how can we fail to be very thankful, their dedication and their contributions.
The message is clear, and the case is firm: it is THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD WHICH IS REQUIRED (Acts 20:27). There are no short cuts, no personality cults (even Paul refused to have a gospel which HE HIMSELF would preach, acknowledged, if it should differ from what he had preached - Galatians 1:6-9, yes even if an ANGEL should preach it):
The word of God is HIS (Psalm 12:6, 111:6-7, II Peter 1:21),
and is un-fashionable by man,
however fashionable the practice may seem.
To this we must be fashioned, whether or not it be fashionable; for it fashions well, in or out of fashion, in or out of season, being preachable, teachable to the tractable. The process is spiritual, mental, profound, psychic, to the soul, to the heart, to the understanding; it affects the personality, already made new in Christ, it inspires the spirit; it transforms, and what it conforms is conformed to the height and source of originality, that Creator who with the Father made this world, and ourselves in it! In Romans 16:25 Paul says, moreover, this:
It must be kept pure, and means to this
end are numerously given. We have already, in Repent or Perish Ch.1, from the outset, and at End-note 1 to it, noted the simple
disobedience to the word of God of making one's name to be called in terms
of Calvin or Apollos. It is a shameful thing, not splendid and to this further
attention must be given.
FACTIONALISM THAT CAN LEAD TO SCHISM
The system of Calvin, it has special beauty, being an apt and useful tool in dealing with many heavy and deep errors, such as those of Rome and those more generally in the Arminian direction. The 5 points of Calvin, if understood in terms of the relevant scriptures, and not vice versa, as if they were lords, are signally valuable in formulation, and a useful net for catching cat-fish, which are poisonous creatures in theology and in life. The Wesleyan emphasis in the love of God, though alas less so his system, which fails like Calvin to net all the fish that are around in the Biblical sea, is magnificent. Efforts to conserve both the love of God emphasis (as in I John 4:7-10, Colossians 1:19-23, I Timothy 2:1-3), and the sovereignty, by which God makes all things conform to His counsel as in Ephesians 1:11, have been made.
Another example of this is found in the Presbyterian Church of Australia (PC), which, at least before 1991, in the days when its constitution in this regard was honoured, was very explicit on the need to make due emphasis, with the Westminster's Confession's stress on God's sovereignty (and not instead of it), on something else. What was that something else, which so happily it inherited, but which it forsook from its origins ?
It was on a special feature of the love of God relative to the sovereignty of God. It was to be on the fact that God's attitude is such that He is not willing that any should perish: for if one has the power to truncate the one, then the other no less. In fact, one has power to do neither. It is best not to be childish or vain with empty philosophy before the Father of lights, but rather to allow what He categorically asserts repeatedly in both respects, and to ensure that His word is not marred by gratuitous intrusion in either respect. That is why it was wonderful that this great old church insisted on this double feature in its Constitution, by which it even so much as came into existence. But it laid to rest what gives rest, and took upon itself what lost that delicacy and beauty of structure which gave it such loveliness.
Such was a tragedy and some of its roots
are shown in News 112, End-note2. In fact,
and in principle that should not be tolerated which merely
nullifies what is asserted whether directly
by God, or in the words of the agreements of men (cf. I Timothy 2, Repent or Perish Ch.1, pp. 18ff.). If the latter are to be removed as unBiblical, that is excellent if this indeed be so. Yet then let this be said, and let it be acknowledged and let due justice be done to the parties breached in the accord that was; for agreements should be honoured, or their nullification acknowledged and Biblical grounds given for such action.
When as here, however, the agreements of men are violated as well as the word of God, we have just such a despatch as so often injures the liberty and loveliness of the things of God.
As to the attitude of God, so vigorously expressed in II Peter 3:9 and I Timothy 2, in sublime categories and utter disregard of the thoughts of quibbling man, this willingness is as real, neither more nor less so, as His entire sovereignty which brings to pass His determinations with precision. (Cf. Repent or Perish Ch.1, and esp. End-note 1; Predestination and Freewill, The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Appendix B , The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4 etc.). It is, let us be explicit, also specifically required in the PC of Australia in a formal 1901 Union Document, called the Declaratory Statement (DS), in the light of which the Confession MUST be read, constitutionally.
The words of the DS that God is not willing that any should perish should not be taken to mean their precise contradictory, that He is; nor should they be extended to imply that His willingness in that direction is the same as a decision, for many are willing for many things, and Christ was willing to gather His chickens under His wings (Matthew 23:37 with SMR Appendix B), and God would have healed Babylon and Israel (Jeremiah 51:9, Hosea 7:1): but these things were not to be. He does not sacrifice truth for love, but rather sacrificed Himself in Christ on the Cross, for love, while truth stands. It was a sacrifice to the Father to give, and to the Son to bear!
Rather a Cross than a loss; but rather a loss than to deny Himself.
Deny Himself! If He did, then heaven itself would be no more; but it is not possible (II Timothy 2:13), as He says; for how should the eternal One who is who He is, I am that I am, always what He would be and with time as a mere instrument (Romans 8:38-39), be other than His eternal self. Moreover in this there is great reward, for His love is greater than all, and His truth like eau de cologne and roses in the presence of wysteria blossoms, and cool streams under shady trees, and high mountains pointing to the zenith, but substantial themselves, and His faithfulness is like the empyrean over all. He does not change nor does His word, that He would have all men to come to the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:1-6). All scripture is the criterion and blessed the church which keeps to that.
The PC of Australia in the beginning wisely added this stress on the love of God, removing any ambiguity from the Westminster Confession, and requiring it to be read in this way, which as so often shown here, is in effect to take it with the amplitude which the Bible requires for this doctrine.
In 1991, however, the bland General Assembly statement that the DS does not alter any doctrine in the Confession, and its action in binding the whole Confession per se UNTIL it be shown from it that there is that in it which it does not require, nullifies this provision on the love of God, as also the liberty formally guaranteed in the same DS. From the first, this liberty in the church was granted and operative, as a thing done, and not merely prospective, to all; and there was formally required no more than the substance of the Confession, with certain basic provisos which were too direct to be annulled.
The Bible ruled as the fundamental, the word of God; and the Confession helped, bound only in its substance. If ANYTHING was the substance of the Confession it was of course, the focus on Christ and the focus on the Bible as the infallible source and criterion of all doctrine (Ch.1 is eloquent). That could not be altered; and this was officially indicated in a church publication by the church's lawyer or 'procurator' (Basic Documents on Presbyterian Polity, 1961, p. 92 - see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 9, pp. 181ff.). Legal documents must, he stated, be read as one whole, and the unalterable adoption of the word of God as the criterion of doctrine for the Presbyterian Church of Australia, was as certain as the definition of just what that 'word of God' was, BY the Confession.
The 1991 General Assembly, in proceeding in this way to make the whole Confession, itself, the Church’s Confession, naming it by itself, unfortunately has subverted by this language, by this phrasing feature, the sole determination place of the Bible, and with it the requirement that WITH the Confession allowance must ALSO be made for the emphasis in the Bible on the love of God.
In this it has derogated the Declaratory Statement which preserved a Scriptural breath on the topic. It was this which the Declaratory Statement (DS) REQUIRED as the light in which the Confession was to be read, and it is this which this cavalier approach to the Confession arrests, binding it to an extent which is past its own self-imposed limitations and permission, while rifling the Church's constitution of this amiable breadth, which had ensured the added emphasis on love, from the Bible.
Now of course it does give just that! This is the irony, intense and almost comic - in its Chapter on Liberty, Ch. 20, Section II, together with Ch. XXXI, Section IV. These indicate that the Lord has left man's conscience FREE "from the doctrines and commandments of men, in any thing contrary to his word or beside it, in matters of faith or worship." Thus from the BIBLE ONLY could any such matter be determined, not from the commandments of men as a criterion. The TEST is the word of God, not the word of men; the standard is the same; the binding is no more and no less. The rest, such as any confessional statement, is a "HELP" as the Confession in XXXI, IV states, noting that "all synods of councils since the apostles' times whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as an help in both." (Colour added.) This simple and admirable fidelity is not what by itself, now appears to be bound.
Actually of course, this does not remove the always present requirements of the scripture, or legally, for that matter, of the Constitution which here through the DS, evokes this aspect of Biblical teaching which we are considering, namely, the love of God. In practice, however, the provision of 1991 is an affliction, a misstatement and precisely the sort of error against which the Confession so wisely set itself.
Worse, since the Confession refuses to have itself bound, the Assembly meantime refusing to go beyond it and affirm categorically and directly (as in the late 70's) the infallibility of all the Bible, the rigour is laxity. Only what refuses to have itself bound (the Confession), IS bound; and what is allowed is this: that what it does not require is not required. Hence is ultra-conservatism and traditionalism the downfall of the very doctrinal basis of the church, which while legally present by argument, as we have seen, is not so by the enforcement of this legal consideration. Indeed, where direct faith fails, what is left! But let us return from the implications of this change, to the current reason for our interest.
On the love of God, then, the Westminster Confession was to be read in the light of the DS; it was not to be read some other way. There was to be no allowance for the Confession's approach, UNLESS it was to be taken IN CONJUNCTION with this specified OTHER indication. The totality of standard was twofold, at this SUBORDINATE level: the Confession's teaching PLUS that of the DS; or you prefer, it was to be the one in the perspective of the other - in its 'light'.
It is useless to protest that in the opinion of this or that body, they are the same on the point. It is enough to see just how many times the love of God is even mentioned in the Confession! (In fact, twice, with one reference to 'loving' in its around 16,000 words.) The Confession indicated what was (and is) a body of system; and the pre-systematics are not given the express and extensive place they have in the Bible, and intensively this is true of the LOVE OF GOD. Some may feel they are implied; some may not.
Whatever the FEELING however, the FACT is that the Confession WITHOUT the added and extraneous, or extrinsic, because imposed from outside, emphasis of the DS is NOT PERMISSIBLE, by the constitution of this church. THAT is what the Union of 1901 demanded, in reference to tender consciences. The 1991 Assembly however made this fact NOT ONLY to be left behind, but countermanded. It was REQUIRED that the ONE be the determinant, just the one. That was the status quo. Which one ? The Confession.
Thus, in terms of the Constitution of the Church, whatever way the Confession might have been taken on this point of the love of God, the requirement in the DS removes one way. The sovereignty of God, says the DS, is to be taken in conjunction with the fact that God is not willing that any should perish. Thus, to say no more, it moves to stifle an ambiguity that might be found in the Confession. Its two or three references do not require this understanding. The DS does!
Whether or not Calvin would be happy,
is not the issue (cf. Predestination and Freewill Ch. 2, pp. 76ff.); the word of God is
clear. The system of his 5 points is not in fact contradicted in this (cf.
Predestination and Freewill)
; but this DS condition or qualification, assuredly provides a pre-systematic
addition of the utmost Biblical importance, concerning the glorious amplitude
and abundant wonder of the love of God. It prevents a restrictive misuse
of system. It is good to be tolerant and gracious in dealing with one another
in these mighty depths of the wonder of the love and sovereignty, both wholly
intact and Bibically required. It is not however good to subvert an agreement
of history, even if as far back as 1901, which gave to the Australian church
its constitutional existence, and which maintains with fidelity the Biblical
breadth: either ethically or doctrinally!
Alas! making the broad, detailed and varied Confession by itself mandatory is not only Confessionalism, but a form of traditionalism; and it is one wisely better avoided by the Presbyterian Church in America’s more limited "system of doctrine" requirement, which does not so arrogate to the Westminster Confession what that Confession itself justly refuses to accept (namely a place for itself as criterion! - Ch. XX, point 2; Ch. XXXI, point 4)!
Since it is the Bible which is the word
of God, and the word of man is far beneath, Mark 7:7 exposing this practice,
naming this pollution all too well, for any to have comfort in such
the Bible always, only and altogether is the standard, both temporarily and permanently.
If any abuse it, then they are subject to correction in a Biblical Church, from the Bible. Rightly called the absolute standard in the Presbyterian Church, it must rule as such, without tampering, pruning or swelling, through addition or subtraction, in any church which fears God and not man; for the fear of the Lord is "clean" (Psalm 19:9, I Peter 2:17). This new movement in Australia departs from the historic, and indeed apostolic standards, and the more so in view of I Corinthians 3 (cf. Repent or Perish 1, End-Note 1).
In SUM: What is intended in a Confession, as "help" (Westminster Confession Ch. XXXI, point 4) , must not become a director. The decisions of assemblies and councils, it indicates, cannot be "the rule of faith or practice" - (italics added); and this one notices with admiration. NEITHER the one NOR the other does it prudently permit to usurp such a place! Otherwise, a dual standard in practice is afflicting the faithful.
Original liberties, such as were granted in the PC of Australia, and are the spiritual birthright of all Christians, to follow the Bible only in doctrine, unless an error be shown in their understanding FROM the Bible: these, in such a case as this of 1991, then become hypothetical and potential. Indeed, the love of God requirement as stated in the DS, is by these means, phrased away in current ecclesiastical practice. From one extreme in liberal radicalism (see also *3 infra), this movement represents in essence a traditionalistic over-correction, one which brings in its own oppression. Whatever the intention, this is the result which impends. Reaction is ever the perilous substitute for reasoned, Biblical response, from the days of radical Sadducees and tradition-touting Pharisees, till this day.
How carefully must godly liberty be preserved, with what acumen must all trends to intrude be appraised! What started in contradiction of the intrusions of Rome, a Confession denouncing such errors, is not well seated as an instrument of deprivation, to bring again the ways of human philosophy! Less still is it well so used, when it prohibits this very thing, with its own words! Biblical liberty and Biblical responsibility are required, and needed on deck in all integrity, with thankfulness for things past and insistence on things present, and MOST present, ALL the word of God. Ironically, the PCA had it wonderfully right in this regard, from the first, and has been eroded and then imploded, in two major falls.
As to all these basic doctrines, they have been considered with zest before on our site (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 1, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, and Biblical Blessings Ch. 11, esp. pp. 118ff.), or in this family of works in Apologetics. It is not here our purpose unduly to ramify, but to make a survey of this entire TYPE OF THING. It is enough to stress that the combination of these two scriptural emphases, the
In this way, an irenic, cohesive substitute
for "Camps", theological conflict on the point, is made manifest, following
the intimation, indeed the call of the apostle in I Cor. 3. It is in fact
to the glory of God to see how stress and counter-stress are swallowed up
in the victory of the word of God, as it is written. Here is unity and here
is grace and blessing.
THE IRENIC AND THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY RESTORATION OF THE PURE WORD
All these things, then, contemplated in detail, and often, in such places as Predestination and Freewill, and in The Kingdom of Heaven..., Ch.4; SMR Appendix B, and at the outset in SMR Ch.8, need practical outcomes as well in the peace of God, in the family of Christ. At once, therefore let us turn to PRINCIPLES that relate to the substance, as well as to those within it. Let us see what the word of God says also about that! There is at once a brake of an absolute kind on what could be called inflammation of the -ism, theological personalism of the intrusive kind: ism-itis.
NAME CALLING, not the spiteful kind but the awesome kind, is forbidden. Read, as was urged in Repent or Perish Ch.1 what is written. Does Paul not explicitly and with marvellous simplicity say just this:
In I Cor.3, the apostle continues to read the riot act on the topic of name-calling in the sense just given.
Hence we BOTH adhere to the word of God, all of it (cf. Matthew 5:17ff.), rightly dividing or comparing it (II Timothy 2:15), and keep clear of disobedience to any aspect of its teaching (cf. Matthew 28:20). Indeed, what could be clearer than this commission to the apostles,
In detail, let it be repeated, all this has been resolved and shown not only to be harmonious with itself, but such that the Bible is presenting in its own context, an understanding of predestination and human will that nothing can match, which resolves all problems, secular antinomies left for dead beside theological reasonableness. Indeed, this has been shown, as we constantly affirm, not in presenting some new doctrine, but in a work of Christian Apologetics which
The facts do not change. What is written is written, all of it, EVERY EMPHASIS, and it remains true that to say, "I am of Paul" and "I am of Apollos" ( I Cor. 3:4)*1is FORBIDDEN. How much more, then, "I am of Calvin" or "of Wesley". This is a sure-fire method of creating division. It is not that one is taking it upon oneself to condemn people and churches in this, but merely to point out that the practice happens to be OUT OF BOUNDS. If you do it, you ask for trouble and injury to yourself and those who follow you and your ways in such a matter.
What! says Paul,
There now, there is a 3:16 verse, and it is amazing how many of them there are in the Bible, which is of great significance. Here we find that this divisive delinquency in glorying in the flesh is disruptive. Now this is not to say that the insistence on truth is disruptive, but that the brand names are not the correct focus. Convenience is not king, for the kingdom has but ONE KING.
it may be that here I am writing most to Christians, so I speak here personally
to them, let us not ignore these scriptural injunctions in any event; let
us not say, 'Yes, but ...', like a 'teen-age speedster, with charm telling
the cop, if you will excuse the evocative language, WHY it REALLY is necessary
for youth to speed! Or why must man enter his name into the arena here forbidden!
It is forbidden. Can then that so divinely regarded and prohibited,
in ? It cannot be done without offence to God.
WHY is it forbidden ? The apostle gives some reasons. CHRIST IS NOT DIVIDED. Now if you disobey this, then you are intruding into the beauty of the harmony in the body of Christ. THAT, like any defilement, will produce certain results, perhaps response, perhaps reactions, perhaps these both in some order or synthesis. It may lead to wild or intemperate reactions towards the opposite one of the "names" you have chosen, bad for all; or to a pugnacity in terms of "our party", which leads to yet worse extremes*2.
Unfortunately, in this particular area of predestination and freewill, and it is only one of several major ones in this respect notorious, there is perhaps a rank defeatism which defiles the integrity of the word of God, as if, as indeed we were in effect taught in one of my seminaries which I attended, that these doctrines of human responsibility and liberty and divine sovereignty and direction, are not resolvable. That is contrary to fact. Not merely are they, as has been shown in the writings noted to the glory of God, resolvable; they are magnificently, gloriously harmonious. They are deep; they need enormous care, and what is shown to demonstrate harmony must not be taken to be a DOCTRINE, but an analytical device for apologetic purposes, of course; but they are in perfect harmony.
Thus defeatism, which would ignore Proverbs 8:8 and its testimony to the clarity which attends to the word of God (we should grow in it, but for its part, it is perfect), may lead to partisan foolishness, thus doubly defiling the temple of God, to the Paul's apostolic language, foundational in the church. We should TAKE, as Spurgeon so rightly insisted. BOTH and ALL these things. We should NOT compromise ANY ONE OF THEM. Certainly misunderstanding which ignore the context, or which mutilate the thrust, should as in all literature be guarded against. There is however sometimes such "sophistication" that in the interests of safeguarding, there is sundering and removal of explicit teaching: as indeed here, in having people "of Calvin" or "of Wesley".
Let us be very clear. If Calvin or Wesley introduce some emphasis as some point, and it is delightfully clear and useful, there is no harm in noting that he pointed this out, or that someone else did so; God is glorified by the prodigious provisions which He has made throughout history through his non-master-builder saints, just as He did through master-building apostles (I Cor. 3:10). All things in their place, as in the human body, let us proceed prayerfully and carefully, but gladly and with enthusiasm. There is NO DEFECT or DIFFICULTY with the word of God. It is incredibly clear, marvellously deep, and it indeed humbles the intellect of man, through its magnitude, just as it delights it, through its supernal clarity, like crystal from heaven. His word is wonderful, and sheds light; it is indeed, very wonderful.
However, to say "I am Calvinist" is most dangerous. Does Calvin then die for you, or does his doctrine take precedence over the Biblical inerrancy, chasteness and consummate, indeed exquisite precision ? Did he make no mistakes (one is shown clearly in Repent or Perish 1, Endnote 1); or is his system the trade-mark of the Christian faith! IT IS (in its 5 points in the way indicated) a marvellous help. It is not the criterion. This only the Bible is. Talmudic mentality is not appreciated by Christ (Mark 7:7). The Westminster Confession (Ch. XXXI, V) has a beautiful humility and care at this very point, insisting that church councils (not just individual teachers) can err and have erred, and that "therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as an help in both".
In contrary mode, doubtless many THINK that THIS or THAT is REALLY what matters, making it a shibboleth in man's words*3. THIS ALSO IS CONSTITUTED ONLY BY THE BIBLE. The word of God always, only and altogether is the basis of all truth, just as His Spirit leads into it (Proverbs 30:6, John 16:7-13, 14:21-23, II Corinthians 4:1-3, I Cor. 2:9-13, Isaiah 8:20, Jeremiah 23). This PRINCIPLE cannot be contravened without contradiction of the apostle, writing as an inspired Biblical writer and master-builder. Foundations do not grow on trees, whether Swiss or French, American or British. They are found underneath, with the everlasting arms; they are found as placed from the first (Ephesians 2:19-22, Revelation 22:19. Neither may His words be subtracted from, nor THESE THINGS added to. It is NOT a question of the mere intention; many do not INTEND to act amiss; it is a question of the action, is it or is it not FORBIDDEN?
It is also a question of courtesy. When God speaks, who on earth can add his chatter - it is NOT chatter when it presents as ordained for preaching and teaching; but it is little other when it is used as criterion or basis, essential or pivot. It is certainly forbidden.
ONE of the dangers of this amazing disobedience, in which some even may seem to glory, is this. Where the theologian concerned, be it Calvin or Augustine, both exceedingly great and most helpful, makes some marvellous contribution, that is a wonder and for praise to God. But just as soon as the WHOLE THING, the NAME OF THE GAME is called "Calvinism" or some such thing, not only is the Biblical command transgressed, but more: the limits of the contribution become the limits of the
faith, instead of the boundaries of scripture being the limits of doctrine. Now that, it is atrocious! It is to limit the Holy One of Israel, just as Israel did (Psalm 78:41)!
It is sad that so much knowledge and
zeal, then, should so often be so misplaced, that in the very thing God has
given through some saint, to bless the church, this trend to idolise (not
of course by name or on purpose, of course not that!), this thing, it becomes
a trap. It is exactly as in the case of the brazen serpent which God gave
to Moses for use in a circumstance, to make a point and bring blessing to
the people. IT however is not to become a criterion, because it is used.
It had to be broken into pieces in due course by Hezekiah, because it became
a religious shrine, as it were, a misplaced focus, even that which had been
used by God.
FLOWERS IN GREGARIOUS GROUPS -
AN OLD BED,
BUT BEAUTIFULLY PRESERVED
I am very partial to flowers. Roses can be almost a floral ecstasy to me, wisteria a wild joy. One could continue, but let us move rapidly to the point. Calvin's aids present what is termed the "TULIP", and a very fine flower it is. Again, it is not our present purpose to be particular here, but to give overview, as a dimension dwelt on, for the particulars are often covered in these works.
However, let us specify. The T is for total depravity, in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing, as in Romans 7, which is allied to Psalm 51. There is no unsinful and intrinsically reliable part of the human psyche. It is all sinful. It is only by grace, sovereign grace that one may be and is saved through the blessed intervention of Jesus Christ, the Lord and only Saviour, the sinless and the specialist in this operation.
U is for unconditional election, that glorious reality by which God does not select us on some X-factor of superiority (see Predestination and Freewill, - P and F - Section I, pp. 30 and Section II, pp. 82ff. with notes as there indicated). Amusingly enough, Calvinism when limited to the forbidden usage, can do this. We are selected without relationship to our being known at all, so that there is some X-factor which is relevant. God does not foreknow whom He does not know! as has been shown both in Repent or Perish Chs.1-2 and in Predestination and Freewill. If then it is not will which relates, there is a distinguishability. Is God then to choose the thing which is alien or the thing close? There is a terrible danger in this abortively reduced approach to the topic, where in fact God indicates His own WILLINGNESS, and in the very face of this, repeatedly cites man's unwillingness relative to that divine willingness, as the ground of exclusion.
It is in John 1 in the light of the presence of Christ, who came not to condemn but that the world might be saved, that the ground of exclusion is made the preference of man. If Christ had not come and done and said among them the unique things which were His, they had not had sin; but now - their sin remains. It is in the very presence of this willingness, that rejection is measured; and though it is foreknown and predestinated, that is not apart form the nature and will of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, but orthodoxly, in accord with. ONLY by going beyond this willingness towards all, which is on the part of the God whom nothing can prevent, but who has His own desires in dealing with men, and so acts: only then can a man go to hell. That is the explicit teaching.
Yet it is equally NOT AT ALL a matter of any superiority of perception or response which is in view, for it is by grace through faith, and that whole cycle is NOT OF YOURSELVES. If the X-factor brings caution to Calvinism, the ME-factor brings more than caution to Arminianism (see above ref. To Section I, P and F). It is in the light of such teachings as that that the full flavour of the tulip can most readily delight the nostrils of faith.
In fact, it is not at all some X-superiority or some ME-factor. It is this neither inferentially nor explicitly.. That is the teaching of the Bible. The will is inoperative and cannot do what it might. God is sovereign and does do what He wills. But what He wills is not to foreknow what He does not know, but what He DOES know, for He says so.
The resolution of all this is given elsewhere, but our present point is this: it MUST ALL be preached, presented, and any adequate Christian Apologetics in this sphere MUST show the relationship of all these things, should show their harmonisability, and in so doing, increase in knowledge, meditating on the word of God.
Hence the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD, not limited at any point, makes for growth as well as providing a magnificent testimony to the greatness of the one whose counsels, like friends, nestle with grace and composure, side by side, with no sibling contests, as it were. We must as Christians do justice to these facts, and not barricade ourselves into corners, fighting corners which reduce the loveliness of the amplitude of scripture, the beauty of Christian brotherhood and defile the temple of God into squalid corners, which does not deal with corners, but with the Holy of Holies, with Christ high, heavenly and separate from sinners, but marvellously available with words of truth which do not stop anywhere, as He leads into all truth. These words, they remain unshakeable, unable to be added to, with no subtractions, though the earth depart (Matthew 5:19ff., and see SMR Appendix D). The word of the Lord remains forever, as I Peer tells us.
We, we must relate to it in the way it prescribes. That way is beautiful. The garden of God has flowers. The tulip, seen in its soil and setting is a beautiful flower. So is the rose.
But before we come to that, let us look further into the TULIP. L is for limited atonement; and this is close to the former considerations. God knows who are His, and pays for them (Acts 20:28). They have always been envisaged as His, before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and will always be His; like a Father, He pays for them and they come to Him in the time appointed. Hence the actual payment is quite limited, the offer is not. That, as we touched earlier, is why the phrasing of the atonement as "sufficient for all, adapted for all" is so good, a phrasing used in the Bible Presbyterian Church in America, many decades ago, before it split into sections, to the great misfortune of the saints of God.
Here as before, great care is needed. If, as Christ told the misusers of God's name, they did NOT believe, they would die in their sins. Actually that is in John 8 where He also says,
See SMR under 'limited atonement', and read Romans 8:32, where those who are paid for are those to whom all things come.
That is the beautiful stamen, the limited atonement without which the love of God is prostituted so easily, into something merely sentimental, and by which its amplitude is preserved along with its knowledge.
Next comes the IRRESISTIBLE GRACE, in the I; for clearly, if God knows and foreknows who are His own, and actually predestinates them, then there is no way the thing is going to fail. When He comes, you go - to Him.
Finally, there is the
P for necessary
PERSEVERANCE, the fact that if you once become a Christian,
Satan may drool, positively for you (cf. Luke 22:31-32), for as C.S. Lewis
indicates in his Screwtape Letters, he has a big appetite,
almost insatiable. However, God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain
salvation, as Paul tells the Thessalonians in I Thess.5:9, so that we shall
ever be with Him, and the sheep once entering the fold by the door which
is Christ (and not, incidentally by some other way!), has eternal life, and
not only will none be able to snatch them out of the Father's hand, but they
will in fact quite simply never perish (the aim of the Lord as shown in that
magnificently ample verse, John 3:16; and for the above, see John 10:9, 27-28).
That is the way it is, the TULIP says it very well, but should neither be
worshipped nor become detrimental to other flowers in their beauty,
by ignoring what they contribute.
OF THE ROSE,
THE ARTISTIC ELEGANCE OF THE VIOLET
Let me introduce you to this one, earlier touched, then: the ROSE. This is done, not as a focus but as a feature in the spreading and gracious gardens of God.
R stands for the reality of the love of God - not merely ostensible to the lost (Colossians 1:19-23), but real to them, vital, uncompromised, and to exercised in the Gospel of Christ, in whatever zone and manner He chooses (cf. Repent or Perish 1). THIS is not the same as any which we may imagine, but again, our imagination is not the limit of God either.
R also stands for the reality of the power of God (cf. II Timothy 3:1-5, esp.5). The reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:1ff., where, as Machen pointed out, the thing buried is the thing which rose, i.e. the body, as in Luke 24 where He ate and asked to be handled, to show His contra-distinction from a spirit in this respect) is crucial here. Indeed, believing this in one's heart is one of the simple criteria showing one is a Christian (Romans 10:9), according to the inspired word of the apostle master-builder of the church of Jesus Christ, which rests on Christ as foundational.
Those who are His, inherit this victory from Him, and likewise in their season, will be raised by the God who made them, to the destiny appointed in the place, power and favour of the Almighty (Philippians 3:20-21, I Cor. 15:23,42,45-47,50ff.).
ALL THINGS NEEDFUL BY THIS POWER OF GOD ARE AVAILABLE TO THE CHRISTIAN (II Peter 1). Needful for what? for godliness, and what more could you possibly wish. To be godly! Ah there is an aim! Not in order to SAY it, but to BE it! The term almost seems to pass from knowledge these days, so great is the stress on oneself, one's satisfaction. The Communists in 1929 brought forth some noxious document which wanted registration for all Christian churches, and in this one had to acknowledge that one was seeking to satisfy one's religious needs! Satisfy myself! What rubbish! Nor is it because it is satisfying that one seeks to satisfy God. It is because He is God and is worthy and this is what is fitting to Him; and because He is wonderful, whether one should be satisfied or not. In fact, one is satisfied; but it is not by seeking it, that this is the case! There is just one of the marvellous depths of Christ's statement that he who seeks to save his life, will lose it, and he who loses it for His sake, and that of the Gospel, will find it!
That is the R - the reality of the love in all sincerity, and of the power, in all depths and dimensions for godliness for the Christian: of these things.
O is for OVERCOMING, the overcoming of the world, the flesh and the devil as in I John 1-3, in Romans 6-8, in I John 5:4. A sovereignty which is aborted at the threshold of one's personal life is not Biblical, and some systems of theological thought almost seem to specialise in omitting this. It is true that no Christian is approximately perfect, that we all fall short, have much to learn, many places in which to grow, and as soon as you look at Jesus Christ as the criterion, any self-exaltation seems frankly ridiculous.
It is also true however that he who sins is the servant of sin, and that if the Son shall make you free, you will be really free. Try it and see, by faith. THIS TOO, this is part of the garden of God, of the beauty of holiness, of what God has for man according to His word.
S is for
SANCTIFICATION, and how marvellously does the apostle Peter,
that fantastic fisherman, show this in I Peter 1:2. We who are Christ's,
we learn, are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in
sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of
Jesus Christ". It is indeed in those terms that he adds this, "Grace to you and peace by multiplied" - 1:2.
It IS multiplied, and currently our purpose is to show just a LITTLE of that multiplication by be sure to follow ALL that God says, and not merely so to specialise on part of it, let alone a part which some saint has carefully brought into just focus.
The ELECTION, the CHOICE OF GOD, for you have not CHOSEN ME but I HAVE CHOSEN YOU, is clearly a teaching of Christ (John 15:16), and His foreknowledge does not depend on any action of ours... this election is according, then to HIS foreknowledge. It is not accidental. It is not dispensable. It is a fact, and it is in accord with His whole nature whether pre-temporal or not, which never changes. So many seem to fear His predestination, but it is a glory and not a shame. I tis the insurance that nothing contrary to reality happens, that what the all-knowing God has is what will happen. Since He IS love, what more could you wish; and anything less would be too little! It is great that God is God, massively delightful, enormously wonderful.
Very well, we are chosen by Him according to His foreknowledge by SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT. It is quite quintessential that this is so. Sanctification is not a regrettable absentee from the Christian life, but a certain ingredient. The POWER of God already mentioned, is adequate for that; the love of God already noted, is present for that; the Christ of God without abortion or contortion, compression or limitation, living in One, ensures this. NOT, let us emphasise, that this is perfection, or anything like it; it is IMPRESSION and it is power to prevail in overcoming besetting sins. It is NEVER a matter of sinning so little that on is good enough for God; God forbid. Christ is that. It IS a matter of never letting a decayed tooth stay in one's mouth without seeing a dentist, to speak metaphorical, and if necessary, having the thing OUT! (cf. Matthew 45, where if necessary one enters heaven halt, but this is better than entering hell, whole!).
This sanctification, incidentally, of the Spirit, is also to OBEDIENCE, as for example in that I Cor. 3 teaching which here is being brought to light, and this accords with teaching them to OBEYD all things Christ has taught as in Matthew 28:19-20. It is also to the SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. It is never apart from that, and has no being or place without it.
That is the ROS
We come to the final E.
E is for evacuation of the sovereignty of sin, as in I John 3. This is one facet of the phase already mentioned, but it stresses the severance side, the decisiveness with which the Christian life must be life. Thus in Isaiah, we read, "O Lord our God, other lords besides Thee have had dominion over us but ..." the Lord is the only one (Isaiah 26:13). "Other lords... but by Thee only will we make mention of Thy name." You CANNOT serve both God and sin. If sin is glamorous, it is treacherous; if it is appealing, it is annealing, and leaves massive injury. It must go. It cannot stay. It is not merely to be overcome but ousted as a householder by name.
But let us also consider the VIOLET in the garden of God.
V is for virtue, as in II Peter 1: this must be added. That delightful USE of one's gifts with assiduity, with INDUSTRY, but there, we have the I already.
O is for OTHER and L is for LORDSHIP, and the E is for EVACUATED - ALL other lordship is evacuated. It does not matter what it is, if you MUST have it, it must go. Do you see ? It is not that some things are not precious, and justly so, so that one is exceedingly thankful to God for them. It is that they cannot be LORD, cannot be indispensable in the sense that ... let us say it then, you would SELL CHRIST for them! I do not speak at all playfully. It galls almost to the heart, it is exceptionally horrible when you see someone CLING to something which while not necessarily at all bad in itself, has become a fetish, a way of life even, so damaging the necessary EVERY PART LIGHT, which Christ in Luke indicates for the Christian. There is simply no place for the lack lustre second who takes up emergency teaching in one's heart, when Christ ... is grieved or offended.
If, Christian, then, you have offended the Lord in this or in anything, PUT IT RIGHT and DO SO NOW. There now, that is the smell of violets and how charming, refreshing and delicate it is. How wonderful is our good Lord who puts up with our errors, but disciplines, bothers to discipline, lest we become conceited, or defeated, or heated in the flesh. It is all abundantly worth while; and there are other flowers too! Let us rejoice in all of them, not the 100 flowers of human proliferation of Mao, but the flowers of the word of God, strewn already, and only needing picking, and smelling for fragrance.
Finally, for our violet clumps, there is the T for TRUTH TRIUMPHANT, both in our tongues and in our hearts, for it is Jesus Christ who is the truth, the word of God without which there is no truth, without whom there would be nothing to regard truth.
It in such a garden that the Christian, who of course loves the word and the woods as it were, of God, is living. That is ONE of the reasons why there is a fragrance, as Paul speaks it, about the Christian (I Cor. 2:16), a fragrance of life leading to life, and of death leading to death. It is also of course because the Lord of the Word is in the heart of the one of whom He is Lord (Col.1:27), and with this, the Holy Spirit who strengthens and refreshes, as showers of blessing, not twice, but limitless times according to the divine will and counsel of God, who sets us up from the first, so that just as we are members of His body (I Cor. 12:13), so too from the first, HE IS IN US (John 6:51-54).
Worship HIM then, for HE is your Lord, and follow ALL of His word, and let nothing crimp or cramp the amplitude of the word of God in your heart, or its impact in your life, as you walk in Him who says this:
"He who has My
commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.
And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father , and I will love him and manifest Myself to him....
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word;
and My Father will love him,
and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
Again ... He said this:
"He who does not love Me doe snot keep My words;
and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me" -John 14:21ff..
Before we leave
the roses, let us reflect on their fragrance. The aroma of the rose is spectacular,
but undemonstrative. The folds and recesses of the petals allow a deep acquaintance,
just as the perfume surrounding it clings without cloying, lingers without
intrusion, instils itself with delight. So the Christian in whom the Lord
dwells - Col.1:27, and there is none in whom He does not (Romans 8:9-10)
has this inner reality which unfolds itself. The peace of God in His gracious
place in the heart, the joy of the Lord in - if you like - the very depth
of colour in the petals of personality which He imbues, the testimony of
Christ as you hold fast the word of life (Philippians 2:14-16), presenting
yourselves living sacrifices in the tasks and tests of His pleasure, uncomplaining,
proclaiming in seemliness the salvation in Jesus Christ: these things are
suitable for the rose. When HE arose, the strength of the perfume of His
victory became characterising for all Christians, like cuttings from His
planting, a savour of HIS life (I Cor. 2:16), resting in the beauty of His
OAK LAWN, THE BEGONIAS,
DAFFODILS AND THE OLIVE TREE
The oak lawn is one of those hidden away but not lost features which manifests its superb beauty without trying. Its massive members wave gently, not loftily, and abide in a place of peace. Here we see featured the fact that
OVER ALL as KING, the LORD ALMIGHTY WITNESSES to the NATIONS.
It really is an expression of Psalm 97, and to some it may appear as the Psalm 97 lawn:
The final step of vast arrogation of divine powers by a parading mortal may not to many seem so awful, so deluded and into so vast an abyss as it in fact is. The transition to that fateful and delusive hour will be so much the easier through the preliminary blindness (cf. II Thessalonians 2:8-10), induced for so long by so much.
Yet this is grief for the world, for the resurrection of the body of the Christ who came, cared and focussed the actual power of God, burning like an arc light, dynamic with truth, radiant with reality, translated from eternity into flesh for the salvation of man, this raising from the dead is one step towards the manifestation of His power, with that quiet reality which no irreverence can touch, nor wind of wandering affect. As the prophecies mount, so the world falls. It falls to the truth which it will not embrace, and falls from the reality so consigning itself with its irreverent comedies to tragedy, as if misalliance were its message.
Yes, we love this lawn, which answers in its shady loveliness to so much of the need of mankind, for whom the oak heart of truth is forbidden by cultural norms, psychic lusts and faithless propaganda. Nevertheless, the Lord of the whole earth is not limited; He forces none but calls all; and the lawns appear, leading here and there to this summit with the oaks, symbolising the One of everlasting strength, entire reliability and that delicate touch of which the oak's Spring tassels speak so gently..
Nearby is the BEGONIA patch, and what a felicity is that, with quiet colours, touched here and there with startling brightness, a delicious subdued assurance like a haze over all of them. This speaks to us too, saying,
BELIEVE in the EVERLASTING GOSPEL, ONE for the NATIONS, IN AWE.
Begonias are so important in the garden of the Lord. It is not one gospel for Jew, and one for Gentile, or one for sects and one for mainline, or one for male and one for female, or one for rich and one for poor. It is ONE FAITH, ONE LORD, ONE BAPTISM (Ephesians 4:4), and whatever speaks differently is not of Christ in so doing. (See Item 17, The Everlasting Gospel, in Barbs, Arrows and Balms.) Or does one forget that
This bed does not switch and twitch, but is carefully conserved, for there is an integrity about it and its message; for we know that
However to faith, this garden speaks now; and all the preparations of the gospel and of the world according to prophecy (SMR Chs. 8-9) follow like a farmer's crop rotation, and seasons for work, with undisguised certainty and irresistible precision.
In the begonia bed, there are such lovely differences among the unity, such delights of diversity in the unity. Thus male and female are heirs together of this salvation as Peter taught (I Peter 3:7), though there are subdued diversities in their functions (see A Spiritual Potpourri, Ch.11). Jew and Gentile are one in Christ Jesus, though their backgrounds contribute specialised actions, such as the return of the Jews to Israel, wrought thousands of years ago, subsequent to the Gospel, in prophecy; wrought now in history (SMR Appendix A, Ch.9) in detail both fascinating and fantastic. Yet they are all one bed, nurtured and cared for by the gardener whose province this is, so that their very idiosyncrasies become delight, and all abound with an aura of loveliness.
The message of Isaiah 66, where Jew and Gentile have their
joint mission with Gentile "priests" is not lost here (cf. Isaiah 65:13-15, where the point
is shall we say, underlined); nor does any exalt itself, knowing full well
this is mere preliminary to due humbling (Ezekiel 17:22-24, 36:22-23,25-26,31-32,36,
37:23-24), and that it is all mercy (Micah 7:17-20), and all grace (Isaiah
53:4-6, 54:5, Daniel 7:13-14,27) . Indeed, Israel has suffered (SMR Ch.9), and has returned, but not yet to
the Lord as it will (Romans 11, Zechariah 12:10), when, after a partial blindness
UNTIL the time is ripe, it is regrafted into its olive tree (Romans 11:23-26)
as shown in some detail in Ch.3 above,
Yes, and indeed just a little distance away stands the olive tree, reminding us of these things:
The OLIVE TREE has no notice, for it speaks in silence; for Paul has said it already, and its presence symbolised much, as its fruits have oil of goodness.
Near the oak lawn are little clumps of
DAFFODILS which come up, wild,
in Spring, a score here, fifty there, 15 in another place, in a sort of quiet
diffuseness which yet has a majestic littleness and a frilled gentleness.
These have a little point to present:
FOR the ODYSSEY DETERMINED for ISRAEL
by the LORD and SAVIOUR.
It's a big message for a little flower, but then it is seen in the backdrop of oaks, which make its largeness when you focus on it alone, seem somehow smaller; yet for all that, not lacking in charm. Israel is neither to become dominant nor to rule, it is neither to have another gospel nor to play the fool; it is to return to the SAME olive tree into which the Gentiles are grafted, to the SAME gospel, which is everlasting, unalterable and fulfilled, so that the former things become obsolete (Hebrews 8), in the irreversible, unrevisable reality of grace and substance, following shadow and pattern (Hebrews 8-10), from which any turning is merely to fall into the rubbish area, a certain "fearful expectation... and fiery indignation" (Hebrews 10:27,12:18-29), which is only right when the garden is maintained. A beautiful garden can tolerate much for a time, but nothing for ever that rescinds loveliness and asserts folly. Things go to their own place, and judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2), which makes one realise yet the more the wonder of grace which fertilises the beds, waters and plants them, caring with solicitude and knowledge both.
The daffodils are a gentle people, and they do not assert themselves (Isaiah 19:21-25), but take their lowly place with such a delightful air that it is arresting in its own way. This reminds us that the land of Israel (SMR 9), though of great significance BECAUSE of the promises of God, in no way enshrines some other olive tree, some other gospel, some other grace (II Cor.11, Galatians 1:6-9), as though God would forget Himself and deny His former assertions and requirements concerning the everlasting gospel, annul Christ, or shut up His graces; for as to Him, He is the eternal word (Micah 5:1-3, SMR Ch.7, Section 4, cf. General Index trinity) which is the Christ, and HE IS the eternal life (I John 1:1-4), whom all men must honour just as they do the Father (John 5:19-23), He being with the Father the one of whom we hear the singing in Revelation (5:13):
As to the massive, international assault of the nations on this land, noted in Ezekiel 38-39, after the restorative passage in Ezekiel 37, showing an Israel never again to be dismissed by force from its land:
1) It is not at the end of the millenium, for then where is the enduring peace it depicts as in Isaiah 65:18-25, on earth! Heaven and earth flee away then (Revelation 20:11).
2) It is not during the millenium, for then is the peace that is so marked that "they shall not hurt nor destroy on all My holy mountain" (Isaiah 11:6-9), shown in so many places, in the time of Satan's binding as in Revelation 20. THIS is not THAT!
3) It is thus before the millenium, and it parallels Zechariah 12-14 with precision, Zechariah 14:1-3, like 12:5-8 having already happened as the 1947 U.N. decrees on the part of the nations were overturned. These chapters constitute a passage climaxing in the last chapter in the personal return of the Lord whom they pierced, to this earth, amidst great force and power.
In the first episodes of great note, the surrounding peoples are to be involved (12:2), and Jerusalem
Rather in Zechariah we move from varied references to the Messiah and His betrayal by the nation (9:9, 11:10-14), before this event in 12:10, to the subsequent announcement of the coming of national judgment and an "idol shepherd". It continues this theme of betrayal of the Messiah like a chorus (Zechariah 13:7) , noting a national reformation (13:1-5) in Gospel terms (13:1), before moving to depict, following 13:7 review of the betrayal, to a vast disciplinary judgment on the nation, with a substantial part of them killed (13:8-9). This precedes the announcement of that more terrible seeming lunge and surge at Jerusalem, which moves on to divine rescue, and indeed, to the Messianic arrival in Princely Power (14:4), with terrestrial upheavals.
What happens and when to the newly spiritually awakened people of the land we do not know. We do know we are dealing now with a vast Christian multitude. We know we are dealing likewise with the impending movement of the Lord elsewhere referred to as Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Before this terminal catastrophe outpoured on the evil in the world (Matthew 24), we find that the Christians are to be removed, divinely seized, and brought to the marriage of the Lamb, mentioned earlier. Jews, incorporated with the Christian Church, we have found from Isaiah 65:1-13, 52-53, and 66, will be co-workers with Christians in one body, in one fold, before that time.
If we do not add
to our knowledge given in the word of God, therefore, we find what appears
a simple but profoundly interesting and significant movement. Israel, newly
brought back, and soon to be won in large numbers to the Lord, is incorporated
with the Christian Church - that is, to the extent that we are dealing with
the large Christian body in Israel itemised in Zechariah 12:11ff., and will
be removed with it, as part of it. This is part of the deliverance culminating
in the Lord's feet standing on Mt Olivet once more, the crucified now King
The scene continues, in the Biblical forecast. Thus, meanwhile, Israel having turned to the Lord, lives by Him (Ezekiel 37:26-27).
It is with this in view, that the Lord then announces in Ezekiel, the enormous, engulfing greed and blitz to assault the newly settled land. This is met with divine counter-thrust, so that the ruthless and pitiless onslaught for all its power is overcome, and the nation being rescued, the world is given its needed instruction (Ezekiel 37:28)! It is thus at this time, that the world will also see what the Lord will do (39:28), as before the judgment yet more total and devastating to come which issues. THAT judgment, involving His personal return to the earth, is noted in Zechariah 14.
The awakening then, dramatised in Ezekiel 37:8-10, is presented as prior or intimately close to the massive, international assault on the land (Ezekiel 38ff.), an attack which is in fact occasioned by this very return of the Jews ("the land of those brought back from the sword, and gathered form many people"), its overcoming by the Lord continuing the expression of the power, mercy and the wisdom of the Lord of all, amidst the grace poured out on Israel in particular, however belated might be their coming. Following that ALSO, just as at the return of the Jews before it, the nations will be instructed and consider (Ezekiel 39:28-29): the world being ready and in place, duly matured and awaiting what is to be, will be given this warning, though it will not heed it. In Deuteronomy 32:42-43 we find the same intervention from the Lord, on behalf of a reduced and humbled people.
As to that warning, it is in terms of Israel's restoration despite its sale of the Lord, of Israel's deliverance, despite its demerits, of Israel's turning in its time, in large number, to the Lord. It is not in terms of any sudden abstraction of people from the scene. What is written, is written. What is not written, is not what is known; and it is better left alone.
We cannot add to or abstract from the word of God, or alter His dealings with a people whose very return as in Ezekiel 36, to the land no more to be taken from them, is to bloom in a repentance to the Lord and a sprinkling. It is, indeed, a sprinkling not with blood as in Exodus 24, for the blood of the New Covenant announced by Ezekiel in Ch.11 as by Jeremiah in 31:31ff., having been shed, only the water of baptism thus remaining (Ezekiel 36:21). As we have noted however that the instructive parable of Ezekiel 37 shows, there are two phases, the geographical and the spiritual, for the return of Israel: this is related to the second one. The one has come, the other is yet to be.
Of all these things, the daffodil in our garden is speaking:
FOR the ODYSSEY
DETERMINED for ISRAEL
by the LORD and SAVIOUR.
The daffodil, you remember, is close to the Olive Tree, which speaks of the integral relationship and intimate unity achieved between Jew and Gentile in Christ, issuing in Paul's exclamation of wonder in the midst of the integral actions of the Lord, the revivals and the restorations, the insertions and the graftings. The daffodil is speaking then in its place. It has a message*4 .
But the daffodil is not self-assertive. It blows gently with the wind. When the Lord removes His bride, it is "His wife" (Rev. 19:7), who has "made herself ready", and as one is of the redeemed, so another, as one group, so another, as one aspect, so another; for He is Redeemer of all, and His marriage is not partial, but rather the consummation of all.
The Lord is not forgetful of one of the two arms of that maiden, the whole historical beauty of Israel is not omitted; the redeemed do not lack this greatness of the past in the glories of the present, and the wonder of the wisdom of the mind of the Lord to ALL, Jew and Gentile, is not gloried in by the apostle, in Romans 11:26ff., following the regrafting of Israel into the olive tree of covenant and calling from the God of all grace and comfort, in order to indicate some kind of severance! Isaiah 59:20, to which Paul refers in Romans 11, is an indication of the action of the Lord towards Israel IN VIEW OF THE ACTIONS OF THE GENTILES (cf. Deuteronomy 32:43), dealing with the status quo of such long-standing endurance, with sudden impact and dynamic deliverance; and this of course accords with the continuing context of Paul in Romans 11, as already shown.
The millenium will suffice, whatever its length (where a day is as a thousand years for the Lord), for the display of the characteristics specified in the word of God, and so Israel will have its opportunity to display the features in the way the Lord will choose, as expressive of the glory of the same Christ, with the same Gospel, with the same blood which the petunias so bespeak, the same culmination of the same glory of the same God, one faith, one Lord, one baptism (Ephesians 4:4), with the same Gentiles, all one in Christ Jesus, none pre-eminent, none abased, but all rescued in the vast scope of the gathering of all things into one in Christ, which knows no reversal, no lagging and no contradiction, no alteration and no compromise. Small wonder that the apostle exclaims,
He is the God
of history and fulfilment; He is also the God of creation and institution.
Let us turn in our garden now to the source of all this unity, the Creator
whose creation each part is, from whom flows the being into existence through
creation, as the history into life through continuance, from whom comes the
construction as also the consummation.
PATH, THE FOUNTAIN
AND THE PETUNIAS
Stretching away to the south is a crazy path, at first seeming erratic, but on examination, moving with discreet aim to the fountain, beset with petunias.
The CR is for CREATION, without which the knowledge of God and of Nature is indeed crazy, a crazy path; but this path has the virtue of surmounting its setting, merely exposing its follies by mimicry, which is more apparent than real. It is a well-constructed path, for it has the A for the ANSWER to evolutionary, magical mysticism, fairies done up in the clothing of a Princess called Nature, who has been asleep for millenia, but who is thought by her devotees to be able to arise, and to be secretly at work despite her long sighs, and obvious incapacity for the task.
Z is for ZERO-RATING and the Y is for the YAHOO philosophy which sound creation replaces, called thus not in disrespect for those who hold it, but because as a theory, it is anti-scientific, obscurantist and a dreamland imported from the days of childhood, including the childhood of the race in the days of the Greek philosophies B.C., and brought up in a deprived atmosphere where the main qualification for a theory seems to be this, that it does not work, does not produce, is to be protected from all investigation, from referring to anything which ever does anything to the point, could or indeed would even if held up by atomic powering in order to imitate power.
This path, which really is a beautiful thing, because in the garden, as we see, it exposes so much to the view, leads to the fountain, and an exquisitely proportioned and constructed thing it is, from which comes the purest water from the high hills, fresh from the heavens, and on the fountain, around its sides, is written a series of words:
THIS ALWAYS IN NECESSITIES,
( Romans 8:32, II Peter 1:4ff.),
and it is here we find the
FOUNTAIN, from which the water comes to show us the need of spiritual reality in our lives.
Around the whole structure is such a bed of petunias as you have never seen. They are various shades of red and white, with purple also, the same with white collars and rims, delicate and lacy. The P is for PRINCE and indeed we can readily see how it comes to mean
for that explains why they are red, and the various reds indicate the various stages of His whipping, the marring of His face, the bruising with its special load of discolouration, the white the purity underlying, for He was without sin as Hebrews 4:15 and 7:26 and I Peter 2 tell us, indeed He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" and has become "higher than the heavens"; and the lacy parts indicate His beautiful answers to His tormentors such as this, "Therefore David himself calls Him 'Lord'; how is He then his Son ?" (Mark 12:37), in reference to Psalm 110, which says, "The Lord said to my Lord...", from the lips of David. The white lacy s edges refer to other sorts of beauty, as when He kept on crying, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!", one of the heights of compassion and depths of concern, which fell from His lips and moved through His hands, as Autumn leaves fall in their wonder, and kindness moves through the hearts of the disregarded.
The atonement refers to the at-one-ment, or really, reconciliation between God and man, made available only because the divine offence at sin was divinely covered in a divine performance in which divinity in humanity, as to format, born into it as to reality, should pay the price that justice demanded, and do it willingly as love desired, meeting mercy with a kiss, as Psalm 85:10 has it:
"Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven" - and indeed He did spring out of the earth when righteousness did look down from heaven, for the earth is as Mary's womb, and the looking down is the incarnation, in which we read this:
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you, therefore also, that Holy One who is to be horn, will be called the Son of God" - Luke 1:35.
Such delicate beauties arrive with messages
THE CLOUDS, THE GENTLE STREAM AND THE BRIDGE
It is easy not to see the stream. It is so often covered with beautiful grass approaches, nooks and crannies of branches, longer bullrushes reminding of God's delivering power even for the babe Moses, that one may not realise it gives great energy and help, without heat, quietly to the whole environment of the garden.
Yet it runs on, bubbling a little here, refreshing everywhere. The meaning arrives quietly too: for it is -
SURELY His TRUTH REACHES EVERYWHERE, to ALL MANKIND (Isaiah 66:18-21, Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Colossians 1:19-23).
The STREAM as we should gather, is a
gentle one, for its murmurs quietly assure us of
this: that -
GRACE ENTRANCES THE LORD'S ELECT.
Over this at one critical place in the freedom of the garden, enabling ready ambling in all directions, is the BRIDGE. This has very notable cross-beams, so that we at once see that it refers to Christ, and its message is this:
BROKEN REDEEMER RISEN IN DIVINE GOSPEL EVERLASTING.
(Cf. Item 17, Barbs, Arrows and Balms.) It is well it is a physical bridge, for a metaphorical one would not allow one to cross.
Over this bridge, you can see a SUN-DIAL, made in the same rustic style as the bridge. And it declares this:
SON, UTMOST NAME OF DEITY, INCARNATED AS LORD (Hebrews 1:1-8).
Its SHADOW speaks also, for this is a garden that speaks. It tells the time of prophecy, showing how near is the appointed hour for the Gardener to Return to His team who work the area under His authority, and its message is this:
SURELY HIS ACCURATE DEPICTIONS OVERSHADOW THE WORLD.
When you are crossing the bridge, the opening is beautiful, revealing the CLOUDS which seem to linger as if drawn to the whole gentle splendour by a gracious attraction, and their message is clear as a Summer's day -
CHRISTIAN LOVE IS ORDERED UNDER DIVINE SUPERVISION.
They are very high, these clouds, though
some stoop down as if to give more shade. The love of God is pure, and associated
with the rains of blessing, it looks down, it alights like a bank that touches
the top of a hill, it moves, it lingers seeming still, it blows vigorously,
and it is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit of God in the name of Christ,
the bridge. It may seem strange at first to see that love is "ordered", but
it is to the children of God that this order is seemly, for it is to obey
what is already in their hearts.
PANSIES, LAWNS and SHADE
In completing this garden-scaping joy, let us consider these final three. The PANSIES speak of P for pathways - the pathways provided by, and of the Lord, of the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15). Do not forget Proverbs 3:5,
Along the path
you may well see strewn, especially where there is quietness for reflection,
those subtle softnesses, those superb mini-garlands of beauty, the pansies.
The A of PANSY is for
AMEN and the
NIL NEGATIVE, and the
even saying surely yes. For the promises of God in Christ Jesus
ARE YEA and AMEN. There is no gainsaying that. Thus the pansy ( with some double petals in
its natural manner) quietly affirms:
from the PRINCE ARE AMEN:
NIL NEGATIVE, SAYING SURELY 'YES'
Let us watch here, for disbelief loves to find little nooks in which to ply its nefarious trade. God MAY say NO to DESIRE, but He will NEVER say NO to His promises! This is because of and through CHRIST JESUS, but for the saint - that is the believer in Him - the answer to and through the PROMISE IS YES! So we find it in II Corinthians 1:20-23 :
AS you delight, so you are enlightened, and so lightened, with light within you, you are moved toward His desire, which so comes that this boon is yours! E is for ENDLESS, reminding you that this earth with its trials and burdens (II Cor. 4:16-18) and its disappointments, as some beautiful spiritual ship suddenly snaps its mast and some hopeful youth is moved to show the evanescent littleness of a way which merely, as with Demas, looked good, this is not the end. And the Lord whose presence is better than daphne (which, incidentally, is a wonder of lowliness, a dwarf of beauty but a boon of delight, with a perfume arresting and intimate, pure and pungent, yet savoury and bracing), His blessing does not end, His love wears out anything which the temporal can think of, and is correlated with an eternity where He is KING!So the SHADE declares:
AND DELIGHT ENDLESSLY ...
in the Lord ... from whom holiness must come...
SHADE with its
daphne is delightsome. D is for
A is for
ALL THINGS with
Thus daphne declares,
do not forget the lawns. These with their shade
from some of the larger trees, to which DV we may one day return, can bring
a quietness not to mention that enlivening oxygen which wafts from them.
The L is for
Love Always is the dictum; for it
is God who designates to the end, and it is we who hope, and LOVE BEARS ALL
THINGS, BELIEVES ALL THINGS, LOVE NEVER FAILS (I Cor. 13:7-8). Indeed, love
endures all things. So we have the
L and the A, and the
W reminds us that this
love in our hearts from God, shed abroad by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5),
withstands all trials, and looks
with visionary eyes that are good too at translation, for the vision is translated
into the deeds. N is for
S is for
SUNDERS, reminding us both to
live and to believe and to walk, and to work (two other places for the W),
Love rejoices in the truth, it LOVES it, so it also reminds us to love the word of God, to be diligent in the work of God and to see it stretching forth like lawns, quietly gracious, sweeping on in its prepared contours and producing rest. It lives in rest, for there is a rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4), which as always, is in Jesus Christ the Lord; and so restful is this work, that faith works through love like a yacht in the wind on the harbour bordering our garden.
Meanwhile, it is in love that we work out our own salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:11), and it is God who works in you, both to will and to do (2:12). For the garden needs work. Its layout is already ordered, but there are places which can be developed, there is still scope for wisdom and growth in graciousness, there are new arbours and recesses to be constructed, some new surprise at the height of some path which peeps afar off (Isaiah 33:17). The garden of your life is created (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10), and it is being renewed. There are things to "put on", there are developments in knowledge and grace to be attained, attunements to the heavenly lyre, to be attained, as the leaves rustle crisply in the wind. Just as your garden is created, so it is secure in its destiny, if you are His (Philippians 3:20-21), for the power of God will translate you to His own inheritance (Ephesians 1:11, I John 5:12, I Cor. 15:50ff.).
Yet in the meantime, there is a work
to be done to use your garden for the peace and prosperity in spiritual things,
of those who visit. The worlds were created by the word of God (Hebrews 11:3),
and the word of God dwells in you if you are His; so that its readability
as you live as a living epistle of the Lord (II Cor. 3:2) is a testimony
you can give. Make therefore the lawns, the shade and the quietness of your
garden a thing which, though surely imperfect, gives a savour of the word
who made all, Jesus Christ.
into Things Fundamental and Authorised,
and the Petty Squalor of adding Flesh to Faith
A short review of what Paul is doing in this respect in I Cor. 1-2 is in order - of the apostolic teaching in this area.
I Cor. 1:12-15 shows the carnal trend to separate into groups for illusory reasons, carnal distinctiveness.
Does it MATTER who baptised you ? (1:17). After all, as Paul says, "Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the Gospel!"
Now here the emphasis is on the phenomenon of FOOLISH DIVISIONS (1:10-11). At once the issue is backing some act, some merely secondary person, some aspect in some way that appeals to something, but is not based on reality; and hence dividing on that basis.
THAT is the folly! It is here the apostle grows vigorous, to preserve the beauty of the church from the natural man's all too typical modes and manners, styles and sub-cultures.
It may be that in the area of baptism, someone was baptised by Paul, someone by Apollos, someone was personally baptised by the Saviour's own hands. This aspect is no ground of division, just to take for the moment, that case, seized on like others, with the rapacity of a magpie for some glittering thing.
BAPTISM! Is THAT what it is about! What nonsense, for Paul was not SENT by Christ to do that. That is entirely peripheral, consequential. It matters not who baptises you among the people of the Lord, more than which way the wind blows on a quiet Spring day. It is not to the purpose.
PAUL declares himself thankful that he did not baptise any, except some handful, himself, just because it gives, at least in his name, less opportunity, a smaller scope for people to MISUSE this incidental fact as a childish ground for needless division.
ONE OF US? WHICH ONE! Stuff and nonsense, as we might read in the language of Alice in Wonderland, the unreasonableness sense of which comic account is too close to what the Corinthians were doing, for comfort! The outrageous inappropriateness in principle and practice of their little camps, pugnacious mini-loyalties was precisely like the comic vagaries of Alice, but the humour here is not the point. It is the tragedy which supervenes, for this is no longer imagination, it happening, though it would be better placed in the imagination than in actual history! THERE it fits like a child's shoe on a man's foot!
Some one man, even an apostle, did this or that! What is that! Is Paul crucified for you ? Was, we may add, the pope ? or some theologian of equally disastrous modern departure from the Bible ? Is the Gospel in chains to some, to any one man, even if an apostle ? Is salvation in the hands of man! God forbid. It is CHRIST who was crucified, who said, "ONE is your teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren," (Matthew 23:8), and again, "You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you do well, for so I am" - John 13:13.
"WHO THEN IS PAUL!" he asks, rhetorically.
"WAS PAUL CRUCIFIED FOR YOU!" still echoing in our ears from the earlier chapter, and the admonition, "But of Him are you in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord' " - I Cor. 1:30-31.
It is in the Lord you are to glory.
Paul then, having shown in Ch.2 the divine source of wisdom in Christ, and its doctrinal expression in the scripture given by the Holy Spirit, resumes his point. The whole man-trend, division by man, into man groups, it is false. It is the same whether you look at the crucifixion itself or ANY OTHER ASPECT. It is the case for ANY ISSUE, that the appeal of mere secondary workers and their personal programs, peculiarities is NOT to become a ground for party-creation, and for calling after the name of this one or that.
It is not a baptismal issue per se - THAT merely illustrated it in a broader context from the first, such that even Christ's own baptising became an issue for this divisive spirit - as if ANY issue would suffice, provided the point could be missed, that it is CHRIST, His dealings, His word, His performance which is the concern; and the executive agents are not presented for vying discord but for patient service, each in his place. A good example is fine; a partisan naming of camps is NOT!
It is ONE CHRIST, ONE GOSPEL, no camps, no side-steps - such as sacramentalism
(cf. That Magnificent Rock, Ch.3, Section
The Kingdom of Heaven..., Appendix ;
Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Appendix 3, The Living God) ;
or man-heroes, MY preferences (cf. Mark 8:34-36). It is God or it is nothing; it is the Gospel, or nothing stands.
When he says (3:6) - "Apollos watered," he does not refer to Apollos as a baptiser, already discounted as significant! Then Paul would preach and Apollos sprinkle in the figure, that one planted, one watered - and that of course is not at all the issue. They both are labouring in the full scope.
It is a figure - ONE performs one gardening function, the other another. One may be more in the pioneering vein, the other, more in the consolidation, but it is a matter of growth, of what matters, not of what is peripheral, that the issue stands. They have NAMES, and people tend to cluster around them in camps, whether using this or that feature, focus or ground for making it a mater of PLAYING THE MAN, as they say in football, or rather here, becoming man-grounded man-founded, man-followers, as if Christ were not the issue, and the functionary merely a mode of application.
They ALL garden. Some take the plants to ground, others water them when planted, so that in all respects they are refreshed, and given the normal need of continuing life over the years.
This, it is a second but by no means a secondary step.
In fact, the planting was salvation, the watering the means of growth, after-care, teaching.
Indeed, in I Cor.3:11,we find ...
"OTHER FOUNDATION CAN NO MAN LAY THAN THAT WHICH IS LAID, WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST."
There is the culmination. THAT is the issue. There is no room for any other name in any matter.
Hence the issue is as stated. Name-calling, starry-eyed rejoicing in secondary workers as men- Paul, Apollos or whoever (I Cor.3:4) becomes a childish, a sickening phenomenon, or at least carnal, a divisive , a misconstrued, and a mischievous thing, a division, a misconstruction, a misplacing of the whole point - ( I Cor. 3:1-3). That is the apostolic pronouncement, and how beautifully he shows the apostolic wisdom in demonstrating so clearly what so many for so long in so many different directions have ignored with such detriment to the church of Jesus Christ!
It is not even the man who write the scripture - since Paul did in fact do this - it is the scripture by the Holy Spirit which is given, as to the prophets. Even they as people are not in the lists - we do not say I OF EZEKIEL! How much less of non-scripture writers. They have their place, their use, they provide what God gives them: it is however to the gift which passes through their hands, not to them we look. The first GIFT is Christ, and these, they are workers, scripture conveyors (II Timothy 2:1-3), people on assignment. The foundation and the name is ONE AND ONE ONLY, Jesus Christ.
It is quite
simply, all this "I of this person," and "I of that" - FORBIDDEN.
Wantonness and Withering.
One of the reactions possible, all too possible, is just this. Feeling cornered, crumpled by some partisan particular emphasis which crushes some other aspect of the teaching of the word of God, some people - almost as if in desperation - may lean towards that false ecumenism which is the other tragic template of our times. Here, some offence, some lust, some desire will lead them to homogenisation with the flesh, the devil and the world, AS IF this were their very salvation.
It is an enormous
responsibility, and in view of this, if possible all the more, for Christians
to avoid needless offence. Glory in the Lord, and love His word - all of it,
and so teach. This builds up, the other ? it blows up, till the balloon with
tissue thin, threatens to burst and blow its fragments into people's very
Similarly, but in the other direction, some -
whether "of the
reformed faith" or "Presbyterian", "Baptist", "Anglican" - it is pandemic
- but in any case, normally now neo-evangelical (others frequently being more
blatant about the same direction of flow, and actually descending
The Final Falls) -
may devalue things like :
1) creation, altering Genesis to some distillate which ignores its name, fame and claim (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 7, A Spiritual Potpourri Ch.9 , That Magnificent Rock, Appendix 1). Thus clear statements shining like brilliant crystal, are to be treated like cut glass, and divine engendering orders to create, disregarded with chatter, money and time.
2) simple obedience as in avoiding women with authority over men in the church (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri, Chs. 10-11).
Such things are increasingly seen to be done
as if this were mere child's play
for the cognoscenti,
for those with great depth of understanding, who can divide the word of God from the word of God with philosophic secateurs, made from metal found in the molten mouth of Molech, where people are burnt for their presumption, and children suffer, now as then. For the fact is that the word of God is surely not for sale, upgrading and downgrading, but all things there given are for our instruction (II Timothy 3:16), and besides,
MAN SHALL ...LIVE BY EVERY WORD WHICH PROCEEDS
Why otherwise is it thought that He speaks to us - so that we may not hear! Or hear with such sanctification that we do not DO! And why did Christ resist with such stringency the advances of Satan, with such a word as that just quoted, if it were really over the top; and if He found it needful so to say and act, are we, sinners, to do better by setting our sights to doing and saying less!
Why otherwise is it thought that He speaks to us - so that we may not hear! And why did Christ resist with such stringency the advances of Satan, with such a word as that just quoted, if it were really over the top; and if He found it needful so to say and act, are we, sinners, to do better by setting our sights to doing and saying less!
Such then is the way - to change the imagery - of the flying buttress. The church of God, it seems in this error, is not so good without our name-calling aid; so we take this, because the name is famous for it, but we leave that, because the name did not find it necessary at his point in history, to stress it. THIS doctrine "says it all", but that one, well, it is not needful. We will build up with our selectivity and anoint with our graces.
Now that it is clearly necessary to say what some famous name did not say, because the people of our time are rebelling differently, it is doubly time, at the double, to return to ALL the word of God. In all things whatsoever - is the divine covenantal call for obedience, whether from Moses, or God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Presbyterianism has historically sought to avoid this by making the Bible the sole determinative of doctrine, with the Confession effectually subordinate. That is however readily countermanded by requiring the whole of the Westminster Confession to occupy the place which it requires to be left free on principial grounds.
What of the failure of the General Assembly of Australia in the late 70’s, when requested by the General Assembly of Victoria to affirm EXPRESSLY and EXPLICITLY the main statements in the Westminster Confession about the infallible scripture, perfect in all its parts and without contradiction, immediately inspired of God, and so on (all cited)? This categorical and rather pathetic failure, to grant this wholly apt request to endorse this, is precisely in line with the former radical liberalism. Indeed, one of the official books of the Presbyterian Church asserts that its basis of union of 1901 makes clear that the "word of God", from which it CANNOT vary, "contained" in the Old and New Testament is to be interpreted to MEAN what the subordinate standard, the Westminster Confession MEANS by that term, which is WHAT IS WRITTEN, in all substance preserved to this day. The failure of the Assembly to ratify the request was decisive.
While this radical liberalism is not now in vogue, being a former distortion of the truth which afflicted this church, the idea that no relevant Committee of its own General Assembly was available to process the request of the Victorian Assembly was like Yeltsin saying he had no appropriate mechanics to redirect rockets from New York.
Equipped with power to judge such issues,
the Australian Assembly had only to bestir itself to declare it in any way
it chose. What it is authorised to do, very simply, it declined to do.
The thing requested: DIRECT DECLARATION on the infallibility of the Bible in a setting which made that meaning CLEAR.
The failure in terms which are unspeakably equivocal in appearance, and an awesome failure in substance, is in parallel with the exaltation of the CONFESSION as binding in toto, PROVIDED THAT no ‘liberty’ to do otherwise is shown in IT. Here is confessionalism confessed. The scribes of Christ’s day might be proud of such terminological evasion as would here appear.
The glorious opportunity for a resounding
return to reality in the Bible was lost. The Victorian Assembly was relegated
to obscurity, like some tedious child. Confessionalism of a hypothetical character
came instead. SO the falling away predicted (II Thessalonians 2:3, II Peter
Chs. 2,3, II Timothy 3) … continues; and systems replace reality, theology
as determinant, the Bible and uncertainty of utterance, simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’
is too hard. Nevertheless, uncertain sounds are - for whatever appropriate
- no place for battle such as the Church of Jesus Christ is called to (Ephesians
See on these topics, the eschatological
section in SMR Ch.7,
Section 2, pp. 502-520 , and Appendix A, pp. 1089ff.