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Citizens Upward Bound,
Life in Love:
and the Visible ?
Pestilence, Suspicion, Irate Iran, Islamic Iraq,
Korea and a Morose UN
Suggest it's Won the Ashes - literally!
ABC News Radio, April 25, The Advertiser April 24
The Love of God is Colourful, Boundless and Beautiful
Psalm 9:6ff. has these words:
"O enemy, destruction are finished forever"
And you have destroyed cities:
Even their memory has perished.
But the LORD shall endure forever;
He has prepared His throne for judgment.
He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed..."
There is the visible with its furores, furies, fiascos, intemperance, odious blind rages and subtle probing for gain, lust of body, mind, religious culture, while trust dies, love is twisted, hate rises aloft and pity is pummeled. There is the invisible where the love of God is fresh as Spring, but His judgments await, cold as Arctic Winter to the frozen hearts which invite it.
While the world is in the waiting room before being called to the examination of its heart, how it scrambles. We see pictures of students in Hong Kong with their faces covered in masks, hear of rigour in some places with masks required at air ports, a shortage of masks, of other cities where they do not seem to care, perhaps inured by many diseases and deaths in haste and writhing for long, for many causes from Communism to rebel action, from careless hygiene to lustreless government, when it does not actually slaughter in some visionary odium. The disease is bringing wild fear, economic downturn and is altogether like an AIDS epidemic with a shorter life span, for the victims.
North Korea meanwhile, facing famine and with its economy in Communist tatters, spares a moment to sabre rattle at all and sundry, with atomic edges allegedly being prepared in one of the most publicity oriented displays of weaponry one could ever imagine, as if someone had misread the roles in the drama, and replaced top secret with topic news items! It seems to fit the mould of maximal thrust for the psychological rocket bearing aloft its banner, PAY UP or SUFFER! Perhaps there is no other acceptable way for the leadership to get money, and continue in power but blackmail of this intemperate kind. It is rather limited as one report, intentionally or unintentionally 'leaked' has it that the USA has plans for a 'surgical strike' against its nuclear site, if necessary.
While this proceeds, there come reports of Iran sending in special revolutionary elements to inflame the Mullahs and set alight the mosques, not with literal flames, but with emotional incendiarism, in hope that the war effort of the USA will not free the land. Rather, the concept is, the desire is to turn the US victory into a seizing of this oil rich land for Islamic purge, violence and 'submission' programs, so like those of the erstwhile Communists, the one like the other in the field of any opposition to their clamours: intolerant, without rational basis, so that it seems almost like aspiring sisters, now one, now the other seeking to interest the suitors in their charms (cf. More Marvels Ch. 4, Aviary of Idolatry, Of the Earth, Earthy ... Ch. 2, News 150, Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 8 with Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Biblical Blessings Appendix III, SMR pp. 125-128, 925ff., A Question of Gifts Section VI).
Nor do some of the Iraqi Muslim elements need vast encouragement in their bid to achieve a submission to Allah in Iraq, taking the form of an Islamic State, with all the ferocious disregard of human liberty which that so often implies. The US meanwhile, through Donald Rumsfeld, is clear that an ISLAMIC State is NOT what is needed; and perhaps this is one reason why it is not greatly stirred by the ‘relevance’ of the UN, except for food distribution, meeting of manifest need and the like. What does it include, and in what proportion are its forces set; and moreover, in what way has it treated Israel in particular, to earn any name for even-handedness in the cultural, not to say religious affairs of the Middle East!
If it is not entirely pleased with this role, as noted earlier (cf. also The Australian, April 11, 2003), then perhaps it could earn a different … reputation, based on different merits and conduct! But what of this Moslem desire, fired by opportunity, and perhaps ignited even more by Iran ?
Forcible inundation with religion is demeaning to man, degrading to faith (c. SMR pp. 50ff. 62ff., 1186Aff., Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 8, esp. *1), impotent before the Lord, a fiasco instead of a reason, a ruthlessness instead of a reality, and it has afflicted this earth long centuries at a time, while the idolatry of some is seized roughly by the idolatry of others, whether the object of this false worship be a man, or woman, as with Romanism, not Christ but His "vicar on earth" whose authority proceeds from himself, or a false god as with Allah through a false prophet, Muhammad, or the worship of mankind, as in Communism, with special emphasis on SOME of them, who are the Party Commissars, through whom as allegedly through the pope and Muhammad, comes the inspiration to 'interpret' what rules the world.
Meanwhile, there stirs a martial lust in North Korea: that living example of the folly of Communism in its idolatrous leadership (NOT in the sense, this time, that the people worship him, or his status, or his ways, but that it, the leadership, is erected for such expression of life that all must submit). This is that same Muslim idea, with that same misplaced force as so often there found, as indeed also in Romanism, all as far from the realities of human nature, which must be touched in profound love, moved in assured faith and energised with personal conviction, as is the East from the West!
While these feverish ideas spend themselves like obsessed ocean breakers in the stormy surf, SARS adds itself worldwide to AIDS, earthquake to famine, insurrection to ideas of more, and one could be forgiven for thinking or at least feeling that the whole scene had been wrought by a world devoted to the fulfilment of the words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24, Luke 21), all but obsessively; rather than to the ignoring of His ways and the affirmation of its own. The power of God is seen in this, that the more the world TRIES to be serenely autonomous, free to and for itself, the more it is enchained, and the more it is bound by its own bewildered arrogances, aspirations and thunder, the more it meekly expresses what Christ declared would be its own outcome!
There, it is power.
It is also irony, that the more this world grows into a formless, shapeless mass of evil and derogation of the living God, or at least departure from Him, the more it conforms to the words of His mouth: subject even in rebellion to His telling truth! Even if they will not tell it, it tells them where they are going in ways eminently verifiable and verified constantly!
Organic evolution never could help him out: for it fails to lift its head above the pompous words of its constantly changing theorists, who war on each other's inane rambling, while 'nature' wars on them all, being unconformable to such illusion (cf. TMR Chs. 1, 8, Spiritual Refreshings 13, 16, Wake up World!... Ch. 5). The more man uplifts himself as a superior 'species' moving aloft, the more he becomes an incompetent, one knowledgeably foolish, and ignorantly learned, unable to control either himself or the world which he did not make.
Reductionisms fall about him like Autumn leaves, bare remnants of life, with little resemblance to the living original; and of these materialism, psychological and political programming together with social engineering for the humanistically conceived object call man, are as common and as helpful as dirt (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri Ch. 9, Earth Spasm ... Ch. 1, Biblical Blessings Appendix III, Cascade ... Ch. 6, Little Things Ch. 5, Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 9, *1, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9).
As man thus misconceives himself, in vast multitudes, cut down
philosophically like so many
Its pathos is interminable, like its rebellion. It is like a glacier in its coldness; and from this moraine of the lost, one must look for those who may be found, revived, warmed into life, the seed of reality embalmed in their lostness, brought back to its environment of nurture.
What man needs, God gives; and the reason man needs it, is simple: GOD who made him is LIKE THAT, in that love is crucial, truth is manifest and understanding flows from Him like rain from the clouds. It is inherent. Man without God is like drought-stricken territory, denied its natural environment. Here however the pathos is more poignant: for man is not denied rain, merely refusing the reign of Christ, as if to reject his own nervous system! Naturally, this being so, his politics look sometimes too absurd for contemplation, his social engineering too pathetic to ponder long, his manners beyond consideration and his death-throes, social, imperial, personal, psychological, often appear confused with life. The artificial becomes a dramatic orgy of mixed inconsequence, because of its unrealism, frequently erupting in dire consequences, for the same reason.
Not only however is God available, but He is so by supreme effort.
the Cross which implies the incarnation (to be there),
the love (to want to be there),
the justice (to find the need to be there),
the power (to turn the Cross, like scones turned over in the oven, to its desired objective and complementarity in the resurrection, that irrepressible and practical thrust affirming life beyond sin, and beyond this world's mere natural power and resources) and
the peace of God (for where the cause of war is removed in the God of truth and justice, the profundity of peace is immeasurable).
When therefore THIS is neglected, it is like SARS sites with never a mask to be seen. There they lie, the instruments for life unused, tossed aside, while hospitals teem, so often fruitless in the plague, sometimes in a perfect orgy of disorganisation and distemper. Refractory rejection of truth is like that; its results teem, though the protestations, as at first in China, might make them seem meretriciously ... small! Small the word, not small the distemper; small the number cited, not small the toll of those afflicted.
But how great is this love of God, revealed both in Christ and in the prophets who portrayed in detail*1, in advance, His coming, the reasons and the results to be, which now have been and obtain.
As to the reasons for His lavish expenditures on behalf of man, let us consider a moment, John 3.
THE INSURGENCY OF
IS CLASSIC, CONTEMPORARY,
The love of God ? Necessary and delightful, its omission in all the reductionisms of human philosophy is like omitting the heart in the perspective of physiology, or the conspectus of conscience. To be sure, in its own ramshackle way, philosophy pays tribute now to this aspect, now to that, but it is forever like some shamefaced boy, unable to face reality. This is because, as Paul is at great pains to point out, as the Lord inspired him in I Corinthians 1, that philosophy has failed since man has failed: the natural, the carnal, the merely terrestrial his girding, his guide and for many his god! (cf. Secular Myths and Sacred Truth Chs. 6, 7, Earth Spasm, Conscience Chasm: and Renewal of Life Ch. 1, 7, Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Chs. 9 and 13, Spiritual Refreshings... 13, Beauty of Holiness Ch. 7, Divine Deliverance Chs. 7 and 8, News 132 ).
They have talked of 'love-ins' and self-love, and love is to be found where it is sourced, in God, not in the twisted and often nearly demented derelictions of duty to Him, and wisdom with the body, mind and spirit which He, and He only has provided.
Love then ? The love that is safer than hatred, however, needs the truth. Without this, horrors may habitually be 'loved' into decadent power, and corruption in self-interested 'enlightenment' may become the prelude to self-fulfilling power grabs, or passionate desire for the fulfilment of heartless visions not to be sure from nothing, but often by express post from hell itself, from decadence, from desire for misrule, for man, for self, for race or nation, for its own sake, or even to avoid the rule of God, if it were possible. Such is the intemperance which is one of the first diseases, first plagues ever to hit the human race.
Truth and love, however, are natural and indeed necessary partners. When you love, you need to know what is lovely; for if you love contention, emulation, self-adoration and the like, then the love is mere misnamed lust.
There is of course no solution amid the humanism stakes, nothing goes: all fails. Man HAS failed; so his ideological pronouncements are a failure in advance. They never work because he wilfully ignores the realities, building either without plans or with absurd 'solutions' based on crassly reductionist philosophy or ludicrously self-expansive mirages of 'greatness' (cf. Aviary of Idolatry, Earth Spasm ...Ch. 1, Little Things Ch. 5, SMR pp. 125ff., Beauty of Holiness... Ch. 4).
The need, then, is for love which is based in truth, which is not another name for force; and though such love has power, yet it does not use it to adorn itself. Such precisely is the love of God as in I Corinthians 13; and its longsuffering hopefulness and intelligent planning exhibit its calibre just as its mercy is shown in the concern for the lost (cf. Luke 19:10, Mark 2). Lost they are and remain, not only in the personal and individual sense of not being in place, and not knowing - or at any rate caring to recognise - how to get back into their place, but in absenteeism from God, the maker of created mind, the master of all ceremonies in the appointments for man, and the non-condoner of wickedness.
This need of man, God meets: naturally, for He made our natures, supernaturally, for He is God.
It is only one of innumerable verifications, that He does so. "The LORD is slow to anger and great in power: and will not at all acquit the wicked" - Nahum 3. He will however have mercy on those who care to come where it may be found (Isaiah 55), and being found of God, receive regeneration from His constant power, mercy from His ONE ACT in Christ, made to be incarnate and so to become sacrificial for sin. All this was enshrined in His ONE LIFE, pure and holy as becomes the Almighty, expressed on earth (I Timothy 3:16, John 14:9 cf. SMR pp. 532ff.) and so able to remit the sin He did not commit, but yet bore (I Peter 3:18). Indeed, He CALLS them (Isaiah 55), to receive freely the freedom which is His (Isaiah 61:1-3).
In the light of this, let us then look at the affirmations in John 3, as we survey the relationship of the provision from the mind of God, and the obvious needs of man.
As to the kingdom of heaven, FORCE is irrelevant as its operational maxim, as Jesus declared (John 18:36): "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were of this world, then would My servants fight." Not only so, it is a kingdom that concerns itself first of all with the spirit of man, for GOD IS SPIRIT (John 4:21-24). It does not come, this kingdom, as an externally manifest thing: "The kingdom of heaven does not come with observation" - Luke 17:20. It is not "here" or "there" but in your midst! This term is used of the "inside" of the cup, and has an inward emphasis. It allows for both the individual (as in Revelation 3:20, John 14:21-23), and the family of God, the plural form being used here, though its distribution is left open. It is both within you and in your midst.
This, the kingdom of heaven, it cannot even be SEEN without regeneration. That is, a man who is a sinner, though created by God in the first instance, when the race began its seed continuity procedure, is astray and alien both from the knowledge and the life of God (Ephesians 4:17ff.), so that even if haunted by desire for the ultimate, he may still not find the gate.
Confused, bemused and even of feverish spirit, a man can be deluded very readily, and perhaps the more so when he is too wonderful to contemplate such a possibility, in proud flesh! (cf. II Thessalonians 2:10). It can be passed by, this kingdom, as a bull might pass by a buttercup, an ambitious knave, a fine wife in favour of wealth in a rich one; or as a politician might ignore a wonderful option for his State, because in his self-importance it would impact negatively on his pride, role, hopes or self-oriented plans.
Further, the kingdom of heaven cannot be ENTERED without regeneration. This too Christ declared (John 3:5). The first birth from the womb with its watery buffer is needed to BE there at all; the second is needed to be in HIS KINGDOM. You have to be made into a person relating to such a kingdom, before you CAN enter it. Here, boat people cannot arrive and dextrously invade its shores. It is mutually exclusive with unrepentant sinners, and exempted far beyond the power of any or all men, when it comes to birth rights: there is no right birth for this kingdom except one which is PERFORMED by GOD on the unconverted, transforming their inward beings, bringing peace as published, and pardon as promised, so that the dynamic of mutuality between man and God can resume! Those who thereby know God, are in His kingdom, in His grace and even in His presence (John 14:24, Colossians 1:27, Matthew 18:20, 28:20).
These basic things, concerning seeing and entering His kingdom, we learn in John 3:1-5.
THE WORTH AND NATURE OF BIRTH
Further, in this Kingdom, PARENTHOOD is essential as a consideration. IF GOD SPIRITUALLY is not yet your Father, but only in the systematics of original creation and its train of generations, then YOU are still 'flesh'. In the Bible, this means:
an array of potential autonomy,
without its base, source, or savour,
without the knowledge of God and that perception which would enable you to LIVE in such a kingdom,
invisible but powerful, as this.
This we find in John 3:6. What is BORN of the flesh IS flesh; and what is born of SPIRIT IS spirit!
As to this, the kingdom of heaven, its PRACTICALITIES are INSCRUTABLE. The "wind" blows where it will, and though meteorology may hope to know more about the weather patterns and the like, even the most rambunctiously optimistic does not speak of knowing it all. If then weather can defeat the pretensions to omniscience in man, how much more is man duly and justly humbled by the obstetrics wing of the Divine Hospital, where God Himself, and NO OTHER brings to the birth. This is seen in John 3:8.
Indeed, birth is not an option, but a disposition of parents by which what is not yet able to think and choose and have intelligent perception in an organised and operational manner AS A PERSON, comes into the first beginnings of it, when born. It is therefore, in the ultimate, NOT CHOSEN. It may be found by CALLING on the name of the Lord, in deep repentance OF LIFE, and SEEKING Him where He may be found, and indeed it is God who works in you both to will and to do (Philippians 2); and the finding of yourself in HIS kingdom is not a matter at all of YOUR doing, as John directs our minds to realise, in John 1:12, for neither is this birth of the will of man, nor of the flesh. It is neither a summation of desire not a compilation of thought. It is an entry which ONLY GOD can provide.
Birth ? It is not at the option of the one born! Just as Abraham, Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord, and were chosen, not for their goodness but in God's absolute divine discretion, so here. It is a finding of love in foreknowledge, not of works but of what is to be born (Romans 8:28ff., 9:16, John 15:16), and as in I Timothy 1, Paul himself, despite atrocities of sin. was called even to be born and then be made into an apostle! (I Tim. 1:12ff.).
On the other hand, we are dealing just now with the love of God as in the Bible, and we find that this love is non-discriminatory in any sense of lacking the universality of its initial scope (John 3:16, Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2). It operates without desire for self-fulfilment, for as to God, He is NOT a constructed Being in need of fulfilment: all things are consummately present from the first in Him who depends on nothing. This He does, not as do those philosophers who use reason while denying it, trying to make nothing the god back of it all, in rampant irrationality, self-contradiction and inconsistency: but simply as lacking dependence on what is not Himself. All depends on Him; but He, eternal and the base of all that is made, owes allegiance to none and to nothing: He is who He is, as He declares, and in this as in the magnificence of His being, there is simply none like Him, nor even could there be!
HENCE we find in entire and perfect consistency that He neither frustrates His principles, nor yet sates His mere will by finding some, as if they were the very best, the cream, the most satisfying for His companionship (since companionship is sated in the first, for He lacks nothing, being in any case a Trinity from eternity). In such ways He does not seek gratification in human 'magnificence', magnitude or mystique, for all was His from the first, and He made it good but it has fallen, and His lack is null, time His mere creation. Moreover, as He declares, love (I Cor. 13) DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN, is not an intemperate or grasping thing. It GIVES.
There is no X-factor which is congenial, desirable, closer to the heart of God by its very character, mystical, strange, WHATEVER, which is at work in His selection, divine choice of His own, that He might know them, and they Him. He does not select blanks but people, and that is one item on which men think: Did He select for His will, as operative in a selfish pleasure, a self-satisfying incubus, what best met His desires ?
Categorically no. It is scarcely possible to think of anything further from the pure and holy love of God who yearns, laments, advises, surges, urges, insists, offers opportunities and more, as in Jeremiah, whose hearts pipes in lament, whose eyes weep whether in incarnation or empathetic-depiction, than this. It is NOT to be sure, the impure and imperfect will of man that makes the choice either, for God's love is the criterion for its non-self-interested grace. There is no scope for deals, for deviousness, for enlightened self-interest; for in this kingdom, to be crucified with Christ is a mode! It does not proceed as it did not begin...
The love of God would have all, so that He is offered as a ransom, for all (I John 2), not in dubious detente, but in passionate totality as in John 3, a good pleasure for absolute reconciliation towards for all whether in heaven or earth, as in Colossians 1:19ff.; and this is its lustre, to give, not to have solace for what is in solitude. It is to have the world, not as a defunct and defrauding system, but as a container for people, in His view, in His heart, in His mind in giving. To be sure the OFFER to all is not the PAYMENT for all: transfer is to account open, not closed. What is paid in is where the individual is redeemed for ever (Romans 8:32), for then He is actually delivered up to bear those sins, then ransom paid.
For these then, ALL is there for them, even to heaven itself (Romans 8:32ff.). Payment is procurement and procurement is forever. Cynical or plausible substitutes, nominalists, are never gained; and lost to stasrt, they are lost to the end. There is indeed limited atonement, but this is not to be read backwards to a limited love; nor is love to be made into a self-satisfaction function; for it has restraint and is satisfied, though it may lament, with what purity obtains. Not for this is what stage management or mystery despite a rejecting will, might contrive to gain.
Therefore, being competent in conclusion for some is not the same as lacking compassion for ALL, in the very theme, topic and phase of SALVATION in its outreach. That is HIS statement. Human maraudings to the contrary, or more or less are irrelevant and close to irresponsible. Love is restrained, and yields like David with Absolam, with mournings for the lost, but will not descend to subterfuge, force, mystical or other, while prevenience, foreknowledge is guarantee of love's fulfilment in its own majestic purity, toward all, though many lack all resonance, even in eternity, even before the fall, even as known to God before all.
He neither shanghais onto His ship, by operations outside consciousness, to gain a crew, nor operates in any other way than in that total, absolute, giving-only love which has the good of its object in view to the uttermost, and indeed of the whole world which He did not come to judge, but to save, and it is in this pure and holy wonder of concern for His creation that He makes new creations, and nothing less.
This is the nature of God; but it is ALSO the nature that He seeks for man to receive, and receiving illustrate in a life of joy and fulness, these not sought but gained in the truth, since the truth is that God is filled with these things, and empties them out to man with zealous attention, as love does with what it has. Infinite, he never lacks; love, He does not cease to give; pure, He does not cast pearls before swine, but yet seeks with a tenderness of solicitude which is its own witness.
What then do we read later in John 3, for example in verse 16 ? God SO loved the world that He GAVE His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, so that whosoever believes in Him should NOT perish but HAVE everlasting life.
Let us focus this, for some have become confused, astray. The word of God however is clear to the uttermost (cf. Proverbs 8:8). jk
Thus God so loved the world
(not a segment of the world, as if to say, God so loved a segment of the world, that if any part of this segment of the object-state, should believe in Him, He would on that condition act to save that segment of a segment).
The case is far removed from this. The divine speech here is declarative, enunciating a generality of kind between GOD on the one hand, and the creation, this WORLD on the other; and it is the BODY, the whole, the thing made, which includes its parts, towards which His own love is directed.
However, this love is not a mandatory thing. You do not have to respond to it. It may grieve Him sadly FOR YOUR SAKE if you reject its appeals, exhortations; but it does not alter His purity. Heaven is populated in liberty, not in compulsion.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is (II Cor. 3:17), THERE is liberty.
Nor is it contrivance, as if people made in God's own divine image, could be hoodwinked, manipulated or manhandled (God-handling) into acquiescence; for love is not of this sort, so that Christ could WEEP for Jerusalem (Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff.) at the same time as enunciating the horrible devastation this rejection would OBJECTIVELY cost it, since the ONLY way out of their sin, being rejected, the only result could be to PAY for it!
Justice never takes a vacation in the Lord; it is mercy which interrupts it, not in unseemly discourse, but in divine love meeting the cost and so keeping holiness in place, and wonder in its orbit about the creation. Such is the teaching of John 3 here.
The WORLD is the object of this love, so that IF anyone in it should believe, then to that one, surrounded as it were, in a magnetic field of divine love, there would be salvation, with eternal life in train. Just as Israel was the object of divine love (as in Ezekiel 33:11), so that AS I LIVE, the Lord declared, I HAVE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED, this being an ultimate divine reality, but that HE SHOULD TURN FROM HIS EVIL WAY: so now was it with the world!
God had predicted this new amplitude of immediate application in such sites as Jeremiah 16:19, Isaiah 49:6, 42:6, and now, in Christ's day on earth, it had come to pass. Moreover the PARALLEL in Jonah, on mission to the Gentiles as we read in the book of that name, is seen in Jonah 4, where God REMONSTRATES with Jonah at the hardness of heart which he displayed in not caring adequately, indeed passionately and hopefully to the uttermost, in not sharing with the Lord His passion for compassion. It was through this that He delighted not to destroy Nineveh, which had had the bans put on it, with NO exemption, except of course, the removal of the cause! How that ? ONLY BY REPENTANCE and seeking the Lord: this they did. God was swift to turn from the otherwise inalienable purpose, brought for so long by so much on that wicked city.
Since God is merciful to the uttermost, the cause is readily removed in repentance, for man coming to receive the gift of God, NEED NOT PAY (Isaiah 55, I Peter 1:18ff.). Indeed, if he tries to pay, he is outside it altogether (Romans 10, 3). That is how this very principle is exceedingly clearly stated in Colossians 1, that He would that ALL in heaven or in earth, ALL should be reconciled, as in I Tim. 2.
These things being so, and the parallel with Israel of old being express and explicit (John 3:14-15), we find this intense stress on INDIVIDUALITY, this "whosoever", which is paralleled in the negative by His statement of His own divine purpose, namely this, that God did not send His Son in order that He might condemn the world, but that the world by Him might be saved (John 3:17). THAT is the reason why it is the case that whosoever calls should be saved: FOR ... THIS is His will, that working individually with the locus and focus the world, He might save any, with the negative being by desire excluded to the uttermost, without being removed from existence, since mercy is so often despised.
(for the double-decker see Appendix below)
What then is to be found in this word of God ?
¨ The object - the world.
¨ The motivating power - such love.
negation - NOT to condemn.
As E. J. Young so well pointed out, the negative is often necessary or at least most useful, in removing possible misinterpretations. It is not "all positive" but balanced in clarity between affirmation and negation!
¨ The affirmation - THAT the world might be saved.
explanation - failure to believe. It is emphatically NOT God blockading the world,
one which in fact He
SOUGHT. No, not that, for this is His stated purpose for the world, that it
should be saved, and that by believing, so that eternal life becomes the consequence.
The thrust is salvation, and such is the desire for the stated body, the world, out of which individuals are envisaged as being brought on a belief-despite-sin basis, and others are removed on an unbelief-despite-love basis.
¨ The result (John 3:19) - The preference of man for his own evil works as a motif, man is seen PREFERRING darkness to light; but much more than that. What of the world then ? The many in it are witnessed as having a preference, an inordinate and inveterate one, for their OWN darkness, over the DIVINE light, which is exhibited not only in word, but in a love which PAYS utterly, personally and in vast humiliation, attesting its savour for the object, the world. The world alas ? This is seen as intent on the whole, and as a whole, on treating this love in all its truth, with distaste. HENCE there is a penalty for this result. THIS is the ground of it; it results; it is consequential, derivative, in the very face of contrary divine desire, provision of contrary dynamic and performance of contradictory feats.
¨ The penalty (John 3:36) - The wrath of God broods over them, looms, dooms. They are intractable not because God did not love, but despite His so loving; not because He did not work, but despite His work, yes despite even His objectives: for the world is set on refusing grace, pardon, power and liberty, and this condemnation of those so preferring comes from the very MIND and CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE of God Himself (Romans 8:29).
noted, for all this, the PARALLEL is the divine chat to Jonah (Ch. 4), the Lord
not at all free of distaste for that prophet's desire to have some kind of satisfaction
in destruction of the vagrant city. To be sure, this was not only eminently
deserved for Nineveh, but brimming over into immediate action. However, such
devastation was for the time quelled in mercy, because of the city's repentant
frame of mind. The prophet was troubled because the curse had not come. Not so
is it with God, however, who roundly upbraided and scolded Jonah.
What is the good of having all kinds of godly love for ALL if the results are distasteful UNLESS they come! Even though Jonah was aggrieved, God not only was of a different mind, but wholehearted so, pointing out to the prophet the cost to man, to cattle, to children if the judgment had come. Was it not delightful that it now could be removed! Sadly, it was not for ever, though the deliverance was for well over a century! The city fell further as time showed its passions and lusts, religious, social and military.
The point here is this: that in this case we see in a dramatic and serial form, the operation of the mercy of God in vast preference toward saving ALL of a pagan city, at the least opportunity in accord with His mercy, truth and compassion.
SIN was the topic of trouble, REPENTANCE toward the Lord, the result for relief.
¨ The proposition - is seen as also noted in Colossians 1:19ff., in entire certainty and indeed drama of categorical pronouncement. GOD WOULD LIKE ALL TO BE RECONCILED, WHETHER IN HEAVEN OR ON EARTH, in the light of the cross of His payment, and the the glory of the incarnation towards this end. What is the use of denying the One who tells it as it is! The tendency of man to psychiatrise God, or if you will, tele-psychiatrise Him in aspiration, as if to tell of God what he does not even know of his own neighbour, is both ludicrous and common. It is however never possibly true. God is as He is, and is not subject to declaration from other hearts, even created ones indeed, who propose for Him what His plans and purposes may be. While His divine nature is clear (Romans 1:17ff.), His divine plans are HIS OWN. Face it: GOD WOULD HAVE ALL TO BE RECONCILED! Theologies that teach God as otherwise in defiance of this, which He Himself declares, are as nothing, mere impudence and imprudence of flesh.
¨ The reflection - If God so loved, and fought the evil and wrought the good so that even the LEAST of men might join the blessedness of God, since the payment to cover is utter and entire, correlatively with the love and passion of God who omits NOTHING from His love and presence and purchase payment (Hebrews 5, 9-10, with 2:3ff.), then ought we to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Yes the family of God should be loved in intensity as brothers and sisters under ONE OPERATIVE FATHER of purity and light; the very enemies, with His action in praying, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing!" become an opportunity for love, as a criterion for kindly forgiveness on our part.
Nothing is omitted. In these combined features there is no room for outrageous surmisings, or disruptive occasions.
Nothing could be further from this scripture than any thought of some mystery about the love of God, concerning the sublime splendour of its scope in the ambit of salvation, its zeal, its overview of this entire world, its seeking, so that its selection of His people is not through its demise or deficiency. On the contrary, its limitation as it surges to victory is through but one carefully CITED cause. What is this stated cause of rejection and judgment among men from the Lord ? It is this: it lies in evil and definable OPPOSITION to His wishes, namely the discerning and captious PREFERENCE to the contrary. THOUGH HE so loved, MEN so DISMISSED. (Refer to Appendix and to *3 below.)
He does not make His mind so plain in all universality, in order to pretend that the blame for non-coming is differentially from this publication of His will, to be found in His own lack of coverage; far to the contrary, it is to be found, the light having come, in preference for darkness (cf. John 15:21-23 where it is obvious with dazzling emphasis). In fact, that divine and impassioned coverage in the realm of world on the part of God, is already shown to the very point that single transfers from this world into His KINGDOM are expressly provided for as the outcome of His terrestrial liberality and the desire which moved in His program.
On the negative side, non-coming is set at variance with such liberality, not as a defect, deficiency or lag, a lack or a negative within the purported positive of the One divine, but entirely to the contrary. It specifically and specified as being wrought on the part of the ones so significantly, so strenuously, so expensively, so passionately sought. They lagged in the face of deliverance; they withheld in the face of divine coming; they were averse and even perverse in betrayal of His Creator's love; and it is of them that His life, so placarded for the world, is not received.
Hence they are responsible, not merely for their sin, but for its retention when its dismissal was expressly divinely sought, with payment available most ample, with purity most intense, with practicalities most obvious. Indeed, FOR God did NOT send for condemnation but for SALVATION. That is what He says. To contradict Him, it is vile, as it is knowingly to say or even imply.
But what is it like ? Consider such a word as this, as if chattily to redefine the divine declaration.
'But ah yes! we know, WE know! REALLY, now, you did not send for the salvation of whosoever would come, for you secretly, in mysterious circumstances, did not even WANT their salvation: if you did, you would have taken them; and the whosoevers were, quite apart from what might have been, most elaborately avoided in practice as simply not in your purvey; and this for all your protestation, is simply your own love-defective or at least love-avoiding fiat.'
Not so! Not at all so: what impudence is this that would erode and corrode the love of God with gratuitous invasions of His word, and evasions of His declarations...
However blind some may have become, to arrest the word of God in its direct and repeated universal statements, and negativing of the contrary, to make it a prisoner of some more aristocratic mould, this is both an express contradiction of God (who does know His own love), and a denudation, like soil erosion, of His fertile will. My desire, He is saying, is as stated for the world so that any may come; FOR I did not send to condemn but to save (John 3:16-17). Such a proposition, then, as italicised above, drop it! Its tenor as well as its words is wholly averse to what is found written. What then is being said of the Saviour ?
Coming to condemn, to do a double work, to save AND to condemn, by a selective shielding or omission from such love as this! False! To the contrary, He is saying in effect, in John 3:17, to ANY SUCH proposition: HE DID NOT DO SO. This is alien to fact. The purpose was ONE, not two. The purpose was NOT to condemn. It was to save. So is it written; and the residual condemnation where unbelief occurs in the face of the light, this is contradistinct from the first great loving motif and motivation: as a purpose of His coming, what then ? It is SOVEREIGNLY rejected. THIS, it is sovereignty! and it is HIS.
The thrust then has this theme: That, condemnation, is NOT AT ALL what He sought. YOUR desire, however, the challenge is to unbelievers, that is to stifle this thing, and in that (as in John 15:21-23), you bring on a judgment in the face of this love which makes your position THEREFORE irremediable, even by love. It is the love from which you turn: intent on your other occupations. Wrath THEREFORE abides on you. God is explicit: the application of the thrust of the love which sent Christ, so that all believers should not perish. is that this was NOT to condemn, but to save the world.
This exposition of the nature of the action in 3:16, to be found in 3:17 defies dalliance with contrary consideration, such as a two-fold purpose, thrust and intention, to save some and implement a negation for others: the motivation and the actualisation differ; and though this was foreknown, the motivation is known, now as always, by the word of God: both as to what it was, and what it was not. The negative aspect did not, repeat not, form part of it!
Such is the flow of the argumentation.
APPLYING THE LOVE OF GOD IN THE LIFE OF MAN
Of course, as to God, it is in HIS MIND, not in the mind of man that this matter is resolved, and in HIS KNOWLEDGE, not that of man; but the principles are purely, passionately and pervasively, categorically and repetitively stated. How often must they be stated before they will be believed ? But believed or not, they are there; and this is our current interest. THIS love is that which solves the problems of the world.
Why ? Because it is non-discriminatory, not tied to prejudice or alien segmentalisation in its outgoing thrust as in Colossians 1; but discriminating, in the sense of knowing the truth, aware of what is what. It is what it is, and not its opposite; it is what it is declared to be, and not some invention. Those who invent love, are unlovely in the process, dysfunctional in the illusion; but those who find it, find what it is; and in the Lord, it is what it is stated to be, and stated to be what it is. It verifies itself in word as in deed.
Applied as it is, it is functional, favourable to man, strengthening to his development, contrary to his wilfulness, wise in truth and beneficial in interplay among those who have it, know it and so show it. It is as averse to manipulation and imagination as love always is; and as useless as is such misconception amongst mankind, so much the more is it with the love of God.
It satisfies the mind, anoints the soul, enlivens the Spirit, and is like the very expression on the divine face, seeking with understanding, and among those who receive Him, regaling with the relish of His loveliness, the harmony of His peace, the reality of His truth. As a thirsty horse, climbing uphill on a sweltering day finds its trough, relaxes, surges to the cool refreshment, enjoys its savour, so does the one who loves God rejoice in His presence. The Song of Solomon is its marital symbolism, the life of Hosea its pictorial depiction, the work of Christ its historical enactment, building forever its structure in the visible, for the spirit of man.
That love of God ? It is pure, determined on justice for all. It is compassionate, willing to go to any lengths short of evil, for any, even to bearing many evils, and breaking them. It is filled with mercy, so that our efforts have no ground for vying and emulation: in mercy it acts, and only by mercy are any ever received through its portals. It is to be found active in the place of pardon, so that like a hospital accepting someone about to die, so does this kingdom accept those who come, not with boasting and self-fulfilment, but with humble and contrite hearts, MADE SO by the simple fact that their acceptance was based on entirely and precisely NOTHING that they had done (Titus 3:3ff., Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-10). That is only part of it. It is also CONTRARY to merit, and cancelling demerit (II Corinthians 5:17ff.).
"THIS is the work of GOD, that you should believe in Him whom He has sent!" said Christ (John 6:29), and again, said He: “All whom the Father gives Me, will come to Me!” (John 6:37)… and after that ? “and he who comes to me I will certainly not cast out!” , for indeed, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
This love of God is deep; its cause is profound; its objective lies in horror, which without intervention, only waits for its time to come: I WOULD that they come and SO are not CONDEMNED; BUT they WOULD NOT, since their deeds are evil: this is the sequence in outline at our section of John 3.
IF thus they come, THEN the divine purpose is satisfied. It is not other than this, His purpose in coming; but this is on the contrary the exquisite passion of desire with the circumscription, not of His love, so poured out for the world, but of the WAY HOME which in His love, He paid so infinitely to procure. They may avoid it; there is no forced march to it. They may come. If they do not, then the comely beauty of His love does not deliver these self-imposed and self-inflicted detainees. He would have it so, but He WILL not abort love into carnality in order to satisfy some. He did not come to condemn but to save; but what He saves is the one who comes where He is to be found.
Peace, justice, life and purity are as one in Him, available; but these are not available for dismissal; nor is any. The offer may be dismissed; but not the beauty of its place or the purity of His abode.
The case is complete, the love is eternal, its results eternal, its purity infinite, its compassionate character supernal, its source supernatural: its focus here the natural, and within the natural, its bugle call is to ALL, so that ANY may come.
It must of course be noted that if any of those for whom He prayed DID NOT repent, then as stated in Luke 13, they would all likewise perish. This is the nature and name of His justice; which is met with such impassioned and sincere embrace by His mercy as in Psalm 85:10-11. Righteousness, through this love, is able to be at peace, since the payment, requisite for sin. is satisfied; and mercy is able to be harmonious with truth, since in very truth Christ has died to save sinners, yes even chief ones!
NO ONE has ANY credit in Christ but that OF Christ (Galatians 1-5), and whatever blessedness occurs thereafter - that is, after conversion, regeneration, washing - this has entirely NOTHING to do with the BEING IN the kingdom of heaven. It is then merely a matter of ACTING as ONE who having been brought into it, is now living as belonging to it, of it! (Ephesians 2:1-12, Romans 3:23ff.).
Vying becomes spiritual squalor, debasing in the truth which accounts (cf. Matthew 20:20ff.), and what is guilefully self-seeking is not even relevant, since to lose one's life is the necessity if one is to be in the kingdom at all (Matthew 16:24ff.).
Hence the vying for superiority, the seeking for personal glory, national wonder, racial superiority and the like, are so many false paths, worthless, rags, follies. Wars built on such causes are mere day-dreams, bringing in the night, when no man can work, when judgment rules and many will gnash their teeth, being last not first, as in incompetent and passionate spiritual prurience, they had sought.
Peace is the publication of God. Here it is. It works; but even here, there are false ones who would steal grace, and make men work for their entry; and rob pardon, and make men labour for this result (Isaiah 55, Galatians 3-5); there are those who would use the monies for their upbuilding of some other kingdom, blasphemously making use of the name of Christ, perhaps even killing Christians in the wild folly of their carnal zeal for themselves and their own glory.
Did not Christ even foresee such folly (John 16:2), and predict such false teachers, some even assuming HIS OWN NAME! (Matthew 24:24); and did not Paul extend the list (II Timothy 3, I Timothy 4), making clear the coming horrors, before they should come, so that when they came, the faith of many would be strengthened, God glorified and all opposition made ignominious, being foreseen, foreknown, like contraband declared over the radio before the aeroplane so much as landed! Such is already exposed and destined for the pit (Mark 9).
The world, for its part, needs to see this kingdom, by faith, grounded in Christ, attested and verified in history, logic, personal testimony of His promises, truth: and then to cease the inane wars, hatreds, vengeances, and vices. Yet this world counterattacks by trying to invade the church, and much that is wealthy or powerful succumbs: but His kingdom does not succumb. It continues aloft in spirit, stout in heart, unvanquished, and vindicated. The kingdom of heaven continues is irrefutably functional reality, mocking its tormentors and providing for them the testimony they need.
So should the Christians in peace, bearing all things, seek to win sinners to Christ (we are all sinners, but the Christian is no longer under sin's sovereignty, any more than a boarder in a school is at that time still under his father's roof), and to consolidate the faith in many and its impact on the world: for God SO LOVED this world, and WOULD HAVE all, in heaven and in earth, to be RECONCILED TO HIM.
So too we should aggregate, not keeping ourselves apart, but in the body of His team, act as He enables us; and seek to STIMULATE others both to seek and to find, both to work and to be kind, in the ways of this invisible kingdom, where Christ, resurrected, by His Holy Spirit, invisibly but powerfully rules. After all (It Bubbles... Ch. 9), our own spirits and thoughts are invisible; but they are back of many actions of mere flesh!
When He comes, then the current trials become the coming manifestation: all, as on a School Speech Day, is exposed. It will be very wonderful then. Coming to speech night ? there is a place for His scholars.
What a pilgrimage is this Christian one, not into cities, but into Christ, and with Him (Matthew 28:19-20), and by His grace, so do His people, all sought, not founded on superiority but on HIS LOVE and MERCY in the Cross, come to see His face (Revelation 21ff.).
Another Geneva Convention
that of Calvin
John 3:16 is delightful, with 17-19, more so. Let us then extend our thoughts on this topic in this realm of the superabundant love of God, denying it the parody to which it is often, perhaps with excess of zeal, mistreated.
Does it say, then, this:
For God so loved a part of the world that He gave for that part of the world only, His only begotten Son, so that whoever, strictly of the part noted, should believe in Him, should have eternal life.
Nor does it continue in the next verse:
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but rather only part of it, His desire being that the other part - the one specified earlier - should be saved.
This is a parody of the verse, but not of what is often assigned to its 'interpretation'. In John 3:16-17, however, it is altogether a different statement that is to be found. it is one of non-restraint, non-limitation, maximal amplitude, total coverage and utter correlation of this with the free payment of the horrendous cost. It was and is the case, that it is because of the love of such a kind for the world, that even ANYONE in it might, adopting the provision, be saved.
It is altogether a different and opposite connotation which follows the staggering affirmation of verse 16, in verse 17, declaring blankly that the PURPOSE of this PURPORT, what drove it, was NOT condemnation of the world. This was not the basis of the action towards the body specified in the line of fire between God and His creation, this world. Instead, it was that the WORLD MIGHT BE SAVED.
Universal, inveterate, unbounded in His love in all its purity, He stops at nothing of cost, embarks to all the world, and deletes any possible ground for obfuscation by adding this, that the purpose was positive not negative towards the world, that it was not for the quest, fulfilment, implementation or purpose of condemnation, but that of salvation; and as to that salvation, it was directed not in some limited way, but to the world.
It is that same universalisation of which He later spoke (John 4:21-23) to the Samaritan woman, declaring that the days were coming, in the terms and terminology of His Messianic fulness, that the worship of God would in no way be restricted to this or that situational category, but would be in spirit and in truth: place would not be a consideration; it was the RACE, the human race as one whole, which was the setting for the action. The place was important as that of the Cross; the grace is not so limited, for though the payment was made in one locale, it was limitless in application to any.
The "world" of John 1 is similarly the one created by the Christ with the Father, as specified in this Chapter from the beginning, so that "all things were made by Him", He thus coming as the "true light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him," the word of God continues, "and the world did not know Him."
We are in no doubt about the extent of the conception which imbues the world to which John refers in terms of salvation: it is logically coherent from the first, definitively apparent at the outset, consistently applied and devastatingly total to the end.
But what follows John 3:16-17, but v. 18 telling us that he who believes in Jesus is not condemned, while the one who does not believe is condemned already. It is of universal application.
In verse 19, we have yet more to the point of what we are considering. What does it NOT SAY ?
This: And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and that men who were not in the part of the world in which God was savingly interested, loved darkness rather than light.
Not at all, but rather is it this: "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
The conditions are these: man, love of God, light, the world, the coming of Christ into the world, the criterion of salvation in the world which 1) He created and 2) was the site of His coming, where the things stated about the world, as for the world, so specified applied.
The effort towards narrowing things down to something less represents an entire mis-disposition, not only of the terminology, but of the thrust.
As to the latter, such an understanding as appears in the bold italics above,
moves the ground of condemnation surreptitiously,
from human preference - in the very face of
divine willingness, averse to the light of Him sent
to divine inhibition, limitation, circumscription of His saving interest.
This would be such as to make
concerning His love for the world to the point of sending His only begotten Son
to be fraudulent, and
correlation of the limitless degree of that love with anyone believing,
so that the
ascription of the ground for condemnation - despite SUCH love for this world,
And this astounding result is obtained by departing from the vocabulary and perspective in view in the text and context, the thrust of the salvation always in view as correlative to this world and to mankind (as in Titus 2 and 3, with Colossians 1). It would be outrageously and flagrantly narrowing the ambit of the intention from that specifically stated, and then re-writing scripture in one's own mental image.
As the English might say, Rather not!
Such distortion of the ingredients of this divine declaration, wrought by flatly anti-scriptural philosophy must stand, or rather fall, as one of the most monumental pieces of equivocal theological daring in modern times (that is, since the 'modern era' from the 16th century). For more detail on the WAY in which some of these things occur, relative to other scripture's 'interpretation', see Predestination and Freewill - PF - Section 2, Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 2, *1.
Augustine (PF Section 2) was variable as has been demonstrated, but by no means so daring.
The so called 5
point of Calvinism (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, where
here indicated) are, strictly
by themselves, and read in the light of the Bible, not vice versa, really
excellent in summary. Indeed, the tulip acronym there shown is really exquisite,
and in this sovereignty of the Almighty is correctly maintained. The pre-systematics
of love however are side-stepped. They are left out in their dimension, like a
stamen from a flower. It may still look pretty, but it is dysfunctional for a
Correction is needed.
The love of God, moreover, is in the accompanying presentation of Calvin in this area, so defaced and in such contradiction to the word of God (cf. SMR Appendix B, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, and above references), that it is high time as in principle, Spurgeon so rightly emphasised, that justice be done to both. His reference to the "hideous caricature" of grace, which can be brought in to this field so readily, is to be seen in PF 2, at the section concerning this so famous preacher.
What then ? When God specifies a most costly love for the world so that anyone at all may come to accept from its abundance (cf. Isaiah 55), for a liberty which God there heartily enjoins one and all to come, to take and to find, and then cites the exclusion factor in terms of human preference for evil, for an "interpreter" to equate this to the divinity making a costly provision, not for the world with meaningful issuance on all, but one that in scope excludes much, indeed, most of this world by divine desire, this being the 'true' nature of His love: what do we have ? This is to distort to negation, what is passionately positive, to twist to contradiction, what is categorically clear, and to put man's wisdom into God's mouth. (As to man's wisdom, consider I Corinthians 1!)
It is nothing less, whatever the intention to be 'helpful'. Such help is neither needed nor anything other than unseemly pollution of the word of God with the mouth of man.
God and this world, Creator and created, it is these two which are involved, precisely as in Colossians 1:19ff., except that there the scope is even BROADER YET! To state that He did not come to condemn the world, but came that it might be saved, then, is by this attrition of the word of God, flatly contradicted. Thus, the Biblical index to the motivation of divinity excludes one thing, and asserts another. This heady doctrine of Calvin, however, includes one thing as a motive, which in the Bible is EXCLUDED (John 3:17), and makes a broad category in the original, into a sub-class in his derivative, thus fouling the direct assertion of the nature of the divine love and nature.
Let it be clear: one does not speak as a Calvinist, since such appellation is biblically forbidden, and one has grown not merely more and more adverse to such nauseous substitutes for necessity, by bypassing a command in the name of this or that, including ... convenience! (I Corinthians 3). Nor however does one speak as an anti-Calvinist, for since one does not accept the term 'Calvinist' as biblically proper, neither does one feel any call to attack the man. It is merely an error in his presentation that needs correction; to be sure it is large one. That is precisely why Wesleyanism and Calvinism never mix, and never seem to tire of their mutual assaults. They are both categorically wrong in certain places. Calvin in his remarkable talent, is so often most thorough, but has this exceedingly great weakness. Wesley in his very correct and vast emphasis on the love of God (as in Luther too) is also at fault in his Arminianism (see PF Section 2 and index). Hence they never end their dissatisfaction, each with the other: nor does reason for it cease to exist. Each is biblically in error here.
One of the purposes of PF has been to show the beautiful harmony which does not at all depreciate or even deprecate the excellent contributions of these emphases on love and on sovereignty; to show them nestling together in harmony, so that God is exalted, error is resolved, peace can be profound, co-operation cordial and above all, so that the word of God is taken as it is. In this, at one stage, a model is presented as explicative of the sort of relationship scripturally in view; but this done, the scaffolding removed, we are left with the most adequate amplitude to be found directly in the word of God. That was Christian Apologetics; this is the word of God. As to the love, it declares it, unremittingly, unbound, undefiled, undimmed and undiminished. God IS love (I John 4).
What then do we find ? This, that we return to the Bible as our source supreme, infallible, unmixed, and it leads us back to itself again, for when we do this, it resoundingly answers all problems, endorses its authority, fulfilling its function, verifying its capacities, astounding the senses with the marvels of light, incandescent but clear, illuminating all.
There in one thing the author has had to be most careful, to keep PRECISELY to what is written. In so doing, there has in this way been a huge bounty of amazing harmony and beauty, so that one comes to see (below) that not merely does the biblical position resolve the difficulties into which philosophy has fallen in this field - or for it, quagmire - for many centuries, but it ALONE has the necessary ingredients for any POSSIBLE resolution*2. This is turn is testimony and verification of two things: on the one hand, of its place as the word of God, telling all, learning from none over millenia; and on the other, of man's place under God: for it is only this word of GOD with the POWERS of God, which He alone has, that any resolution is even conceivable. Here however, it does not need to be conceived, for it is already conceived, AND WRITTEN. Where ? In the separately demonstrable word of the living God (SMR Chs. 1, 3, 5, 8-10).
How beautifully this illustrates the WISDOM of God in refusing to people the privilege of having 'name-brands' in biblical exposition as if this man is the leader and others follow HIM, whether Wesley, Calvin or Luther, yes or the pope also. These vary in their approach, the pope MAKING himself master (cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H); with others, often, mastery is accorded: but to none is it given, whether purely voluntarily or under threat of duress, to have ANYONE in such a position.
Again, as we see in such illustrations (cf. PF 2), not only does the Bible not PERMIT such human additions (I Cor. 3), such party-name procedures (with some amply verifying results of trouble when this advice is disregarded! - party procedures tending to overshadow just research and scriptural liberty), but the case is even more emphatic. So intense is the purity of the word of God, that you might as well add arsenic to aspirin as an analgesic, as add human wisdom to this, God’s word, to make it work better: whatever the intention, adding traditions at the first or at the last, makes the word of God null (Mark 7:7ff.).
Its going is precise; and its purity is incisive. Administered pure, it adds great wisdom and mists and mysteries recede; taken with traditional or name-brand additions (since all names but His are imperfect), divisions and vyings proceed, unsuitable for spiritual peace, unprofitable for spiritual understanding.
Here it is the ACT that counts, not merely the intention; and when that act is to follow a mere human tradition about the word of God, how is God glorified in view of what HE has said (Mark 7:7ff.). In essence and in practice, the Bible without men's names must be the resource, and helps, such as the Westminster Confession, indeed, that most modest Creedal Statement, must be seen as subject not only to change, but to interpretation in terms of the Bible. This alone has the definitive inspiration of God for mankind.
What is asserted is the word of God. What is comprehensively correct is the word of the Lord. What is consummately profitable is the word of God. Never must it be harassed, or subjected to the party-calls, to the vyings, prides and limitations of men. In this, the Westminster Confession is virtually exemplary; but not so is the way in which many have treated it, as if to make of it, what it forbids men to make of such statements of Assembly.
Though the act of party-names and code-names for teacher-patterns is biblically forbidden, as constituting criteria of teaching, this error has its value. The results of this disobedience in turn verify the purity of the word of God. If you seek or so act as if to manage it, it humiliates you; showing in your divisions the divisive character of your imaginations, holding to this one, to that. As to the word of God, however, it is impossible to manage it to the least degree; and this is becoming to the Creator of the mind of man!
The word of God manages itself and man must live by it as it is (Matthew 4:4). How sad that so many try to protect this or that, and in so doing so often merely distort these things! when the word of God in sublime certainty and diligent perfection maintains the truth to challenge mind-wandering, and to make replete the heart that trusts in it, free from the clamour of man, and the inventions of flesh.
By this, the church is not helped*3, but hindered; and by this, the discipline required tends to dim the illumination of the church: which is Christ. By the profound mercies of God, He Himself however still unveils His own word to men, and His own person, by His Holy Spirit; and moreover, in keeping His word there is great reward; for this word is as nectar to the mind, as beauty to the soul, unsoiled, in perfect harmony with itself, covering all cases, bringing understanding without tension, and the same with joy that endures.
The Bible then, works and harmonises with itself. In this field, covering all cases, it meets all challenge as nothing else could or does. With beautiful brevity, yet with incisive survey and careful detail, it describes the derivation of created reality from God, while covering the nature of the entire creation in general and of man in particular, superbly, precisely, just as it is. This applies also in terms of the love, sovereignty, predestination and foreknowledge of God. What would you expect from God ? This too is verification, and that no other coverage in this special field works, this verifies yet further, so that in the field of verification, we find continually without number or limit, sought or unsought, constant attestation, just as truth exhibits.
Unwearied, the word of God, the Bible, expresses; unmanipulable, it discloses. The Lord is Lord indeed, and what He says goes; and what goes from it, in the end, goes from Him.
N.B. For this topic, see also Marvels of Predestination ... Ch. 4 and The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4.
*1 See for example, SMR Chs. 8-9, Joyful Jottings 22-25.
*2 See Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 11, Sparkling Life ... Ch. 7, Earth Spasm ... Ch. 6, Great Execrations Ch. 9.
*3 It is so delightful to find that one church, The Presbyterian Church of Australia, in its founding constitution, insisted that the Westminster Confession a standard under the Bible in its substance for the Church, should be read IN THE LIGHT OF a certain ADDITIONAL statement which was made. This, the Declaratory Statement for the sake of 'tender consciences' prescribed that we must understand that the Confessional position is to be read in the light of various statements of a general kind, one of which was this, that God is not willing that any should perish.
Unhappily as the churches, in many, many cases, fulfil the predicted fall of II Thessalonians 2, the PC of Australia, which lurched earlier into the most radical of liberalisms, later justly deplored in the PC of Victoria in one of its post-union statements (from their point of view, post-separation), later swayed as if still off-balance and seeking to recover, towards this severe Calvinism. In insisting that the provision of the Declaratory Statement adds NOTHING to the Confession, thus ditching the concerns of tender consciences as expressly provided in the 1901 Constitution of Union, the Assembly of 1991 has not merely marred its Constitution. It has departed from an excellent provision to counter the weakness of Calvinism, outside its 5 points.
Just as was the case in the days of Jesus Christ on the earth, the Sadducaic and the Pharisaic, the debunking and the traditionalising, tend to cause divisions, distortions and weakness. These leavens are like viruses, always ready to operate. Wisdom avoids both. Christ condemned both (Mark 7:7ff., Matthew 16:8-12, and all of 23, 22:23-45).
For the solution, and further on this point, see
1) Predestination and Freewill
2) The Biblical Workman Ch. 8 as shown
3) Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 11 and Ch. 2, esp. *1
4) Aspects in Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will
5) SMR Ch. 5.
God is glorified
both in the excellent insight of the PC of Australia in its founders, and in the
fulfilment of His prophetic word in the lapsing from that insight now
unfortunately found. Not for nothing did one Anglican Bishop declare that the
time seems coming when churches may have to meet in houses!
C. S. Lewis made his own peculiar lament also, that the sheep were having to stir up the shepherds, and the future of that church was therefore in disarray. As noted in SMR Ch. 8, the matter is of some interest.
C.S. Lewis's dire and tragic comment (*14) is a good reflection of the position: Now, said he, the sheep may have to teach the 'shepherds'.
In the endnote, it continues:
C.S. Lewis, famed Christian Professor at Cambridge University who played a very important role in England in his field, during and after World War II, one of the greatest writers of this century indeed, was in the Church of England and said:
Once the layman (i.e. the non-clergyman) was anxious to hide the fact he believed so much less than the Vicar: he now tends to hide the fact he believes so much more. Missionary to the priests of one's own church is an embarrassing role; though I have a horrid feeling that if such missions work is not soon undertaken the future history of the Church of England is likely to be short.
This statement, in Christian Reflections p. 166, epitomises a trend. In its setting, it is one more vigorous verification of the word of God (cf. pp. 699 ff. infra).
See also News 100, 152, 121, 122.