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Softly, Softly, and Listen to the
Tone of His Voice
LOVE IS INTRINSIC WITH GOD
In Psalm 110, which we have been pondering earlier in Joyful Jottings Ch. 9, and also in the Preface of this present work, which should first be read, we come to the Messiah as King, for we learn that He will "execute kings" and "judge among the nations" (Psalm 110:55-6). That is His operational signature for field work, in Psalm 72:11, where also, we find, He redeems the poor and precious is their blood in His sight, just as in Psalm 89, the world itself is His dominion (cf. Psalm 72:8), a rule which endures with the earth’s own history (Psalm 89:19-29, Daniel 7:13-14); and does not cease at all.
Even the War Crimes
Tribunal has much to be concerned about; how much the Judge of all the earth!
How unwise those kings and judges who ignoring His mercy, insist on judgment to
come. Psalm 2 tells us of these:
Be instructed, you judges of the earth:
Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way…
work, as we have considered in the Preface (q.v.), our concern is with the dawn
of light. The day which so many fantasies of thought have sought, so many
political manoeuvres have tried to induce, economic master plans have striven
to reach, engineering works have sweated to confirm, it has not come to a world
still in the darkness which knows no dawn. For this world is NOT going to
believe in Christ. There will come a time, to be sure, when its outward show
will be that, called the millenium, but even from this, it will revolt. As
Isaiah puts it ,
In the land of uprightness, he will deal unjustly,
and will not behold the majesty of the LORD."
Will this world then so lack in the love of God, the truth and purity of holiness, that it will forever be as that which lingers in the darkness, sallow in the shade ? Will it all come to grief, and be judged with a rod of iron ? Will its hopes be but lurking shadows, doomed to darkness, unredeemed ? As a culture, yes; but as a comprehensive contact, no. How then is this so ? It is for this reason: FROM this world, millions are the Lord's over the millenia of history, and these, known to Him (Romans 8:29ff.), are an innumerable multitude, we read in Revelation 14. These all however have their robes washed in the "blood of the lamb".
Nor must we, as Calvin does, dismiss the reasonable surveyal of predestination as providing a scene of darkness*1, one which need not however concern faith. FAITH is in the Lord according to His WORD, and His word states categorically, this: HE WOULD HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED (I Tim. 2, cf. SMR Appendix B). Of course this is far from saying all WILL be saved, just as having a desire to depart and be at rest is far from being that in result. However when the personal being is omnipotent, this desire is the same as its fulfilment, not in the attainment of all BEING saved, but in the assured certainty that according to HIS standards, what may be rightly done in this direction, will be.
ONLY HE is the limit, and HIS POWER and KNOWLEDGE is neither inadequate nor harassed, for His WILL is stated! This, it is not darkness! Nor has He who is the light of the world, left it so; but rather is it the tender unfolding of dawning light in the area.
Love is chaste, not lustful, and what He would have is here shown to be NOT some strange and incomprehensible exclusion, in the very face of what He, whom nothing can limit, WOULD HAVE. Refusing to do violence, He takes what love would receive. Hence come in holy grace, His appeals so numerous, poignant and continual throughout the word of God (as seen, for example, in such diverse cases as Isaiah 55, Ezekiel 33:11, Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff., Jeremiah 17:19ff., Deuteronomy 32:28ff., Isaiah 1:18ff., Jeremiah 13:27, 13:18, Proverbs 1:8ff., 20ff., Ecclesiastes 11:9ff.).
You see exactly the same
thing in Colossians 1, where it pleased the Father to have all fulness dwell in
the Son, and that through the blood of the cross ALL should, in heaven or in
earth indeed, be reconciled. Not all will be, but one thing is categorical and
critical in this matter, to ignore which is just as horrendously unbiblical as
saying it all depends on your own will. It is this: that it is NOT a block in
GOD HIMSELF which prevents all being saved, and it is not that there is some
deficiency or limitation in His love by which it is excluded from some. On the
contrary, Colossians states with emphasis, "by Him to reconcile all things to
Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven". What ? It PLEASED the Father!
Shall we then hear, did NOT please Him ? To do then, what ? To reconcile! To
what ? ALL things! Indeed, not merely is it so stated, but this emphasis is utterly categorical and profound, and it is double as well.
Thus by HIM, it occurs twice. It scope is stated, and then itemised to the uttermost: "all things" is enlarged to "whether things on earth or things in heaven"! It is true,
"Esau have I hated" is written, but it is also written, "whom He foreknew" (Romans 8:29ff.) It would contradict Colossians 1 if this meant that He willed other than to make His love relative to salvation a realistic matter for Esau. On the contrary, His foreknowledge is a guarantee. These dealings, they do not have to be conscious; and this provision, it may occur as He will, but in CHRIST only, for the sake of "the blood of the cross" as Colossians specified and history regarded in its time!
The charge, the challenge, the provision, it merely has to be. How it is rejected, in what way God determines this is of the utmost interest; but as it is done in the form of God, it is done as He will. In Predestination and Freewill, it has been shown that not merely is this perfectly comprehensible as to the nature of the case, though not as to the actualities in the form of God: it is logically coherent to the uttermost: but more also. It is shown that there is no system of thought which can cover the case of determinism and responsibility, guilt and law, predestination and freewill; except what is provided in the word of God, in the power of God; and this, it is necessarily so!
Taking another aspect, as Berkhower points out, there is some indication of a consequence in the field of exclusion of souls from heaven, and of course, this is repeatedly seen, in conditions most emphatic, dramatic and cogent. Thus in Matthew , Luke , Ezekiel 33:11, and again and again in the Psalms, we see the courting, the exhorting the hoping and the communicating God appealing, and we find the words:
True, sin can blind; equally true, God's intentions of heart are stated, stipulated and as clear as the light of dawn, unsullied, sincere and unobscured. Also true, repeatedly God states the causative element in His eventual expressions of repugnance and rejection. It is nothing whatever, heaven forbid, to do with some shortage of love of the requisite calibre or quality. God IS love, and He does not vary (James 1, I John 4).
What then ? There IS a
scene beyond our powers to KNOW, but not to understand in essence, in terms of
revelation as given. God WOULD HAVE all reconciled, come to a knowledge of the
truth, but He emphatically and directly WILL NOT take certain sorts of action
to SECURE this, after the nature of a strong man, dictator or psychological
manipulator, or hypnotic coercer. HE does the choosing, it is quite clear in
Romans 9 and John 15, and moreover, in principle in I Cor. , . Natural man, unconverted, is too
obscured in heart and vision to be ABLE to choose. Calvin is not wrong on his
five points, but on his love presentation WITH these correct counters. That is
why the Presbyterian Church of Australia, before its 1991 alteration, was so
fine in this matter, ADDING that He would not have any perish, together with
It is not that people do not see or have not seen these quite obvious things. It is rather that a desire, as statedly on the part of some in that church, for some sort of 'stability' or cohesion, which can lead to sacrifice of what is so clear. There are always those who prefer some system to scripture; and again, whom nothing seems to rouse from the former to the latter. Tradition is a terrible thing when it has the LEAST part in the faith. Like so much, it CAN help, but NOT on a level with the word of God. Thus much from many is of a great blessing; but to trust in this or that Apollos or Calvin, it is a wanderlust which has terrible portent for the peace of the church. Their gifts and excellent features are one thing; the word of God is quite another. IT is the standard; they are but ministers, able to err. The word is the perennial corrective; yes, and light also to the path.
Is it then darkness, as Calvin indicates of his own view in this predestinative field, and in this one respect, not without reason, but equally, without need: is it darkness, then, to say that the love of God is unlimited in kind, that His love is pure in character, that it does not force as He manifests times almost without number in case after case, but that His is the choice; and in this He fulfils both His own purity and His own willingness, in categorical conformity to His own gracious and exhaustive truth ? All of this His word depicts clearly. Calvin states that where the Lord stops revealing, there "we must stop and take our stand where He has left us." This is utterly diverse from stopping by lack of acceptance where God HAS spoken, and that clearly, categorically and repetitively. To use the agreed bounds of divine declaration to man in the Bible, to suppress, contort, omit what is there stated, in terms of a secret counsel concept which is inapplicable because it is plainly stated, even what Calvin omits, is confusion perfected, light dimmed, and in this case, love suppressed.
To talk of blindness in the very area where to the open eye God has brought light becomes a meddlesome piece of wholly extraneous verbiage, a special pleading that is especially disjunctive from the word of God. Indeed, see The Christian Pilgrimage ... Ch. 3 with Great Execrations... Greater Grace Chs. 7 and 9, with The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4 on this area.
But someone perhaps
objects, Then I have to trust HIM to implement His love ? Of course. If
it means you have to trust Him, is that so bad ? Are you going to DOUBT that He
REALLY will do
AS HE SAYS and that He really would have all men to be saved and so there is no lack-love exclusion ? Then your problem is merely unbelief. It is not with God or with His ways. That, it is a problem of a very different kind. It is like refusing an operation because you do not trust the doctor. That is your fear, not his competence. With God, the competence is total, the morality is certain. He says it, and His divine nature is as the Bible says manifest (cf. SMR Chs. 1-3).
Is it not indeed, the very essence of man's relation to God that he MUST trust Him (as if He would quietly keep out John Smith, because really, you know, actually, He just did not quite like him, prejudicial matters of a personal indulgence which would militate against the sincerity of the love as stated) ? If you MUST TRUST in any case, is it so dark a thing to trust Him in this matter!
Now all this has a very particular and precise consequence of the utmost importance. A seeking soul, abashed, concerned, conquered, wonders in some Calvinist settings as one has seen, whether he/she is saved. Of one most versed in such things, someone who in a church of that kind had hear much, the author asked this: COULD you say to someone at the door who confronted you, say from a sect, I AM SAVED ? NO, I could not, in effect came the answer from this highly churched person!
Biblically, there should be, however, NO doubt about the love of God, about His desire for one's own salvation, as if predestination were some kind of negative in this equation. That is quite as far astray as saying that it all depends on you indeed in whole or in part, when the Bible is just as emphatic that it DOES NOT! as noted above, and pronounced so emphatically in Ephesians 2.
It is important, simply, to follow what it says, not to group into divisive and darkened camps, to use Calvin's term on this topic. Dark ? On the contrary, it is FILLED to overflowing with light. It is quite delightful, the way God has all these ingredients
with unconquerable and pure love to all,
with undiminished and undimmed sovereignty,
with relevance of man in his image,
with total removal of ANY ground and all grounds for boasting,
with salvation without merit and contrary to demerit,
and defilement of the human will and intellect as well as other spiritual components,
all intact, all harmonious, all the wonderful ways of the glorious Lord;
so that God is not available for a tour de force, but repentant seeking, so that He MAY be found.
All this in perfected harmony, with the azure of integrity and the peace of directness.
When it is GOD who is the one seeking, it is not surprising that things are a little different. When INFINITY of goodness and power is in action, there is something not merely sui generis, but simply alone; but it is not without its depiction in His word. Indeed, He is personal, and we are created in His image, and indeed, when converted to Christ, re-created in the image of His making, so that we can find ground for our thought and understanding of what He says ( it is NOT biblical to assume things are incomprehensible in some stark and contradictory way, in view of Proverbs 8:8), even though of course there is much to learn, for all these things come in the sublime inheritance of the saints, as in I Cor. 13. NOW we have more to learn, but His word does not! It is not tangled or confused; and His protestations must not at all be discounted in order to hold to some secret theology which quite simply contradicts them.
As I Cor. 13 points out, of love, without it there is nothing. GOD IS LOVE. To imagine that in some way there is NOT love is simply a flat contradiction. That love has restraint is to characterise it, not limit it. The soft light of the gentle dawn of God is there in the Bible, and it grows in intensity as we read Romans 5, 9, I Timothy 2, Colossians 1, I John 2, I Timothy 4:10, Ezekiel 33:11, John 1-3 where we see the only begotten Son of God brought to earth so that whosoever believes should not perish, in terms of God so loving the world, yes even coming to His own, who rejected Him, but as in the parable of the king's wedding (Matthew 22:1-14), this so far from ending His search, merely intensified it!
He does the calling and He does the choosing, but He DOES call, and He does seek! even for what does not come! So is it here written, and so in Colossians and Timothy and the rest of the scriptures, is it to be found.
What then ? His willingness is coming to His own, who did not receive Him was not a case of His not receiving them. In all earnestness and directness He wrought, sought and in His own style, ceased as the case to His mind, required. Such is the one who would have all men to be saved, but not manipulated. He knows who are His, not by exclusion of love, constantly affirmed at the outset of His actions and feelings, thoughts and desires, but by the very purity of it. That, it is light, not darkness, delight not sorrow and assurance not doubt.
Thus the doubting soul should at once shore up its failings hopes in this: that if that soul WANTS GOD, this is itself an indication of His gracious availability. If the soul is prevented from wanting Him absolutely, then after all, whatever the reason, whatever the searing of conscience, as in II Thess. 2, where a failure to receive the truth can have such RESULTS, as the apostle Paul indicates: you get what you want. You cannot in the end be frustrated; for if you long like Esau, yet in not repenting you do not ultimately desire what you do not get!
Anyone can long for something, for example, a child for a sea voyage. This is not desire of the whole heart. If it were there, then he might become a sailor. Desire alone is not the point: it is a weak thing. God is to be sought with the whole heart, desired above all, and if not, then He is not desired, for you see, God is a SPIRIT and the spirit of the thing is therefore quite essential.
It is God who liberates, and His love towards all men is stated not only in the outcome of this visitation of John 1-3, this coming to His own, this enlargement to showing His love to the whole world, as shown equally in I Timothy 2, where God and man are the elemental categories (if you could confine God to this) or better, the beings considered.
If then you have the grace to take Him, do it. If not, then why groan ? You do not want Him. Your own impediments are still with you. If you want them removed, ask. If it be said that you could not, do not worry about philosophers. DO it. If you do not want to do so, then do not complain. You are dealing with incandescent sincerity, the warmest of love, the truest of seekers. It is He who gives grace to the lowly. His mode of implementation is His own; He KNOWS His own and you would not be stirred to SEEK and SO find, or to KNOCK and SO have it opened, if you were already seared and scorched by rampaging interplay and foolish pollution in the very saving arena!
Let there be, therefore, HOPE and ASSURANCE. Once you ARE His, avoid likewise the foolish contrivances which philosophers produce for doubt. IF GOD WOULD HAVE ALL MEN to be saved, and you are a member of this race, and have become a member of His (I Peter 2:9) by faith (I John ): then realise that GOD IS FOR YOU, and then WHO CAN BE AGAINST YOU. Laugh at the follies of the devil's arrogant desires to unseat you. If God has said, YOU WILL NOT PERISH (John 10:9, 27-28), be assured you CANNOT. His word rules all things. You say, I doubt that! What - and you call that faith ? By FAITH you are saved through grace, and all that, it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Indeed, it says more, right there: BY FAITH YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED BY GRACE. That is the position for the Christian. Literally, you are a having been saved one!
You say, I am not sure of
this gift ? and you call that acceptance! That is NOT to receive what is offered.
Instead, receive it. Faith, saving faith, is an undying thing, kept alive by
the great furnace controller, whom nothing outwits.
TOO POOR TO RECEIVE RICHES ?
Again, you say, Furnace! I only wish it were. My faith is a poor, weak and scarcely ignited thing, and I am a horror even to myself, that my poverty of spirit …
What! Poverty of spirit ? you say. Yet this is BLESSED expressly by Christ in the sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 as recorded clearly!
But you say, You do not understand me (you might go further if you feel so frustrated that rudeness appeals as an outlet, but let it pass, let it be, let us get to the point). Not THAT sort of poverty of spirit! you say ? What sort, then, do you have in mind ? Look, our desire is that you and all such should rejoice with joy unspeakable in what is there (as in I Peter 1:8-9), "receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls" as Peter puts it.
Hence, it is desired that
from the word of God, you should see it and not be obscured in faith or fidgety
in mind because of alien inventions of men, however great in other respects
they may be.
It is the word of God alone in all things, which is your resource of what God wants.
If then your 'poverty of spirit' is of the kind which doubts God, then it is merely a misnomer. That is pride of spirit: fancy even daring to DOUBT the TRUTH of the word of God. This is arrogance, and enough to bring anyone low. If this be your case, then arise from it in the grace of Christ and lower yourself to believe. What! believe the Almighty! It is better than believing the world is spinning. That depends on His maintenance in the end, as His creation at the beginning. THIS, it is not a thing of mode; it is GOD Himself, whose word abides forever.
If you have not come, then come and receive Him as your own Lord and Saviour, Creator and Keeper, the Good Shepherd (John 10, Titus 3:3-7); and if you have come, is your case and place not clear from His word, which is as readily separated from Him as your full face from yourself, yes and less so; for what He says He means, and eternity does not cancel what has come from it. You are troubled by doubts as to acceptance, though you have come ? Consider then what you could do.
Not with simmering doubts, but in poverty of spirit you could say this, or something of this kind, to the Lord:
¨I am not good enough for you to care about; I never was and do not at this moment ever see myself becoming so, in this world; but I do accept the elemental fact that you SO loved the world, that you would have ALL men to be saved, that you would have ALL to be reconciled; and hence, knowing your desire, I gladly submit myself unreservedly to your power and discipline, as the case may require. Only DO as you have said, inscrutably magnificent, not only to intellect but to heart, as your love is, pure and stupendous like an abundant waterfall foaming in a vast circle of power and purity, spray and rainbow of mercy.
"Thus I accept that YOU WILL not only keep me, but keep me as you have desired when first I came to receive you without any addition from me of will or mind or any other thing of my flesh; for I accept that in me, as Paul says in Romans 7, that is in my flesh, dwells NO good thing. Nothing up to the standards of God is with me as myself. It is only through Christ's merits that I can even speak to you.
"Hence I repent right now in sackcloth and ashes of my sins, such as have led to this present contretemps or gloom session, and simply trusting in your word, according to your grace, acknowledge this. It is NOT for me to assess myself in terms of salvation, but for you to do so. If I examine myself, it is to be sure that I have put my trust in you; and then I DO trust, and so gain and gather all.
"Therefore, I may enquire of my sins and seek their remedy, but when I make enquiry, of this I first enquire, what have you SAID. When you said, THEY SHALL NOT PERISH, and I know I entered by that door (John 10:9), far be it from me to call humility what is mere self-assertion presenting some other thought or plan for you, as though I were the programmer and you the employer.
"Election, predestination, it is yours; coming is mine. It is not by my merit or grace, but entirely by yours; but when it comes, it is there. Hence, history is fact. In coming I entered the confines of your word, and in your word, I do not leave the confines of your grace, in such a case. Hence I trust with humility, accept in poverty, and THEREFORE do not doubt.
"Hence YOU are mine, ETERNAL LIFE is mine, it is all given as Paul states in I Cor. 3:22-23, and I receive most gladly, grace from grace and for grace, in abundant grace, for I am a having-been-saved person, by grace."
How amusing it is, in a grave and sad way, that we humans can so distort the love and the grace of God, as indeed so many other things, that we can even USE things like HUMILITY as words to cover DISBELIEF, or poverty of spirit to cover RANK DISCORD with what is written! Or indeed we can use holiness, and seek to proclaim if not to others, then to ourselves, that we are so holy that we doubt God! We are so base that we have this special kind of sanctity which can see right past the word of God to make a new form of destiny which He knows nothing about (as in Jeremiah 19:5, where the LORD says this:
SO MEEK THAT YOU WANT
SOME TRUST IN YOURSELF !
You OUGHT always to have self-doubt, if by this you mean that you do not see in yourself, that is, in your own flesh, the goodness that deserves salvation. If there is NO GOOD THING IN IT, what would you expect! IT did not save you, and so it does not keep you. It is not the task of flesh to save OR to keep you! It is the task of the Saviour, who, having committed Himself that those who eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, simple aorist, once (John 6:51), are HIS and shall be RAISED as such and have eternal life; just like those who of course ONCE drink (John 4:14), so that they shall never thirst again, again aorist, one action. This was the position put by Christ to the Samaritan woman. SHE came often to the well; but once receive the water HE gave and you NEVER thirst again.
Thus there is a change of state and status (John 3, I Cor. 5:17ff.); but the status is the gift inalienable, and as to the state, its character is clear (I John 3:9, Romans 8). The state is the result of the status, which is also organised with the power of salvation (Romans 1:16, I Cor. 12:13); and the change called regeneration (Titus 3:5), is such that though you fall in this or that, you are not changed in this, that you are ONCE HIS, ALWAYS HIS. He simply brings you up (Hebrews 12); and gives what it takes. Parenthood is often fickle today, but for millenia the love and patience of parents is a poor but fascinating illustration. They bring us into the world in temporal things for a time; but God by His Spirit and salvation, brings us into His world for ever They were, in myriads of cases, kind and sacrificial for a time; but the Lord, having brought us not to a dying world, but to an undying kingdom, is sure for ever.
He did not buy the soul by His ransom payment for sin, His bearing of it in justice that we might be free in grace, so that He would lose any! He expressly contradicts any such self-reliant idea: Romans 5:1-12, John 13:1. IF we are justified by His blood, MUCH more we are kept by His life! In fact we rejoice, says the apostle here (Romans 5:9).
In BEING HIS, and in BEING HIS CHILD, and of course, in being subject to discipline as King David was in strong terms; but any needful discipline is in loving mien from the Lord, for all that. It is, says Paul in Hebrews 12, for the illegitimates, the outcast, that there is no discipline. But the greatest feature of discipline is love. For love a mother may do things all but inconceivable for her child; and for love a child may respond with address. When you are a spiritual child of God, and His Spirit is therefore in you (Romans 8:9, 11, 16).
When David saw the Lord before at all times, holding him up lest he should totter, stagger, it was by faith (Psalm 16:8). That is the sort of thing a child quite readily may do for his childhood; but the Christian, child of an eternal Parent, sees Him forever holding him/her up, for this is the word of the faithful One.
Do not therefore short-circuit faith in the false terms of ostensible humility. The HUMILITY IS HIS who came to save you, having so loved the world; the FAITH must be yours, in receiving His assurances, based on Himself as covenant, once and for all (Hebrews 9:12ff., 10:10,14). It is THEN that humility humility comes, for you have accepted what is forever and forever, independent of your own flesh, expressed by God who expressed Himself also, and definitively in Christ, who is so sure He even gave His life that you should live. He is neither unloving (He DID it) nor inefficient (He FINISHED it - John , Hebrews 9:25ff., Romans 3:23ff.).
You, your flesh ? It has NOTHING to contribute. In sanctification, by His blood and Spirit, you strive, but NOT to find salvation, but to delight in Him whose it is, and to go for Him who has called you, and so justified you, and so as He states expressly through Paul, WILL GLORIFY you (Romans 8:29-30,35ff.), even to the point of Romans 8:17. The glorifying in view is nothing short of this, that we are to be "glorified with Him" after the suffering, as He was after the resurrection, when He told Mary to cease clinging to Him, since He was not yet glorified.
We must suffer with Him ? But of course, whatever else would you do if you die daily! Frauds may not. We are not talking of talkers, but those who having faith are disenabled from NOT having fruit, from NOT having works. Faith cannot do otherwise but neglect the bogus and fulfil the true. What then of those who having saving faith in Christ Jesus, the faith which being living, cannot do otherwise than work, in the life which is entrained to grow ?
These, they follow from the seed, and grow from the dynamic set within; yet if you examine yourself, do not make the other mistake of being your own judge, for I do not judge even my own self, says Paul in I Corinthians 4:4. It is God who judges. It is not men, it is not a church. It may rebuke you if you steal or commit adultery or sing drunken songs in the sermon, for these things are wrong; but it is not your judge (Matthew 7:1). GOD is. It can exhort you, warn you, but the faith is yours. Their eyes do not REPLACE your faith; they merely minister to it. Elders are not lords over your faith but helpers of your joy (I Peter 5:1ff).
Foolish therefore is the man who lets the pope or any other prelate or association of them, so act. Do you fulfil their specifications in their value estimates, subjectively assessed, presumptuously accorded, if by any means, whether from super-Reformed, crypto-Pelagian or simply Roman emplacements, you may have your liberty spied out, and your joy deleted ?
Are you to become like genetically modified crops, with human intrusion where only God can be, in the very interstices of your heart ? (cf. Jeremiah 17:9).
Are you dependent on their assessment as to whether you have saving faith ? Or are you to be given entitlement to believe ?
What nonsense! As to true servants of Christ, these who should be HELPERS OF YOUR JOY are far removed from the lofty entitlement of being lords over your faith, either formally or functionally. Bind ? They can settle only what is settled, and apply only what is written (Proverbs 30:6, John 20:21-23, Matthew 18:18-19), and AS Christ was sent by the Father, so even the apostles were sent, as He said (John 20), and that ? It was not to teach His own doctrine but that which His Father commanded (John 12:49-50, 7:16); so how much less are others to seek to teach and find their own will and doctrine, not in the word of God, and apply it to the detriment of Christian liberty, indeed the personal abiding under the Shadow of the Almighty, the Lord Himself their refuge and warranty, guarantee and girding (Ephesians 1:1-11, Psalm 90:1, 9:9-10), for "they who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee!"!
The word of God is their promise. As to that, it is applicable anyway, and not least when it declares, JUDGE NOT! As to the living Lord, the Word of God incarnate, the word points to Him, He abides by His word, and those who know Him, find in Him ONLY their trust (Psalm 31:19, 52:8-9, 118:8-9, 141:2-3, 146:3, 57:1-3, 5:11, 18:30-31, 25:1-2, Proverbs 3:5, 29:25). He with whom they tryst, in Him altogether and without the will of man in his engines and his importance, his sin and his wisdom, do they trust.
On the other hand, it is for this very reason you should HEED those who minister when they do point out scriptural things, for we are to minister to one another. Exhortation to what is written can only be good, but it is no excuse for judging. There is, in the end, ONE Master, whether for this or that ‘school’ and the school of thought which does not acknowledge Him in practice, is not a school but a sedition! It is schools of being TAUGHT by the word of God which are needed!
The ground of faith, then, it is this: scriptural (Matthew 7:24-27, 5:17-20), just as its object is CHRIST, sinless, higher than the heavens (Hebrews 7:26). Fruit-inspectors and soul-assessors are not wrongly so characterised as shunting towards one aspect of Pelagianism, when they reach between the spirit of a man and his Lord! The quasi-Pelagian irony is this, that even some who despise it, may implement one of its themes, in supplying faith as legitimate for you, that you are a Christian, in dependence on their perception. Are you indeed 'fruitful enough' to have your 'faith' accredited by man ? False doctrine quickly exposes the heretic, the false prophet, but intrusive ‘assessment’ may merely become the ‘judge’ when there is ONE judge! Judge not! says Christ (Matthew 7).
But faith which is faith indeed KNOWS the Lord, and needs no man to supervene, as I John 2:27 so aptly emphasises. The living individual faith in the Lord of the harvest, according to HIS WORD is both crucial to faith, and its crucial attestation.
The emphasis, accordingly, it is this, scriptural. Let the word from which, if a Christian, you were begotten in the first, place, then, be that by which you proceed in the second place. Indeed, this is just what Paul is saying in Galatians 3. ARE YOU SO FOOLISH ? Having begun in the power of the Spirit of God, by faith, are you now going to carry on in the flesh, in compulsions and arrangements and self-presented criteria, or those of some body! some persons! Do you not realise that the free gospel is a way of freedom, and the way of it, it is the Lord's, not as a METHOD of self-justification, but as a route!
If you are sincere, you
WANT this; but you do not follow a road by attempting to build the thing! Read
then Galatians 3 and 5, and keep clear of trusting in these contrivances of
men, and while you are at it, contrivances of YOUR OWN SELF! It is no better.
Your salvation is of the Lord. HE is reliable. Trust in Him according to His
word; if you do not, then what help can others have. Fruit is not faith. Faith
in fruit is not faith in Christ. Christ is not fruit.
THE PRIMARY AND THE SECONDARY
Justification is the acquittal of the guilt, penalty and presidency of sin. It is a divorce from its sway and sentence (Romans 8:29-32). It is primary; sanctification is secondary, not in importance, but in time. ADD these things, says II Peter 1, having believed: it is fitting. But you are KEPT by the power of God, says I Peter 1, to an undefiled inheritance reserved in heaven for you. GOD is the Saviour. It took poor Jonah much to realise this to the full! His rebellion compromised him and made him seek the Lord in real earnest from the cavity of the large fish.
It is not necessary to be there! If you are, however, it may teach you this lesson, already present in God's word! As to justification and sanctification, then: When the first is there, the second follows; but would you rejoice in eternal life in the KNOWLEDGE (John 17:3) of God which MUST be yours when you are saved, and not follow! If you believed that all your life was bound up in your scout-master, would you not burrow into the manual with speed, ask questions, seek hard ? But of course. So here: faith works. That is its nature; and how often is too often to say it: You are saved without works, but not without faith, and faith works. First however, it receives the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
Start right and continue
right! There is no other way. Go wrong and there are numerous minions and
millions to abet you, confuse you. Get on the rock; HE has power to keep and to
save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25), and to keep you from falling (Jude 25).
Leave that to Him. You get on with the job of joy in the Lord (a command, but
so easily followed if you are His - I Thess. 5:9ff.), and with the certainty
that God has not appointed us (who believe) to wrath, but to obtain salvation!
That is what it says. Believe it.
THE TENDER DAWN
The tender light of His word, so probing, so demanding, and yet so gentle when you see it as His and understand His many protestations of love: it is like a dawn. It is a dawn of light, never dark, having no part dark, filled with a suffusing purity and a commanding delight which is all the more enticing and enrapturing, because it is the light rod of the shepherd, always filled with the light of kindness and competence. His dawning light, always pure in the soul, is one making the smoking flax flare with its touch, and the doubting eyes to sparkle (Isaiah 42:4).
Indeed, in that last verse quoted from Isaiah, we find that He will not be broken (fail) or be discouraged, and the smoking flax He will not quench. But there is a parallel in the Hebrew. HE will not be broken, and the bruised reed He will not break. Unbroken in His delectable, His enterprising, His illustrative, His victorious and triumphant vulnerability, while taking human format like our own for the repository of His Majesty, though without sin, He broke the pattern of human degradation DESPITE humble circumstances.
I AM THE TRUTH, He said, as He exercised the divine prerogatives which the powers that be found intolerable, as usually today, in their incensed and incendiary responses. If the light was found intolerable, yet it is left in its tenderness in the hearts of millions not minions to culture or the devious caress of the seductiions of the spirit, but children of God.
BRUISED REEDS, LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS,
FOR IT IS HE WHO LIFTS UP YOUR HEADS
Let bruised reeds, therefore, take heed!
Whether caught with
let them take HEED of the HELP in the Saviour, who is not a mere word for religiosity, but a person incomparable for whom nothing is too hard! Christ is an expert with bruised reeds. Come to Him, and taking account of what He has said, all of it, realise at last, if not at the first, that as your Shepherd, He has infinite skill, infinite patience, infinite power and infinite determination. NOTHING can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (II Timothy 4:18, 1: 8 -10, 1:12*2).
But, alas, someone is not yet converted. HOW, he/she asks, could I ever make the grade ? It is a question of how elephants could fly... Of course you couldn’t! Your misgivings are most just. There is not only little hope, there is none in the last vestige of existence. Nothing in the world can save you. It is utterly hopeless.
It is hopeless ? Yes, this is the case with all that is the world. What is in the world is incapacitated by sin, by imperfect motives, inadequate power, and inability to deploy the divine mercy. The same is true of that part of this world which is your own flesh, that is, as in Pauline usage (cf. Romans 7), your separate and particulate power by and in and through yourself, and the same applies society of other such beings (cf. Psalm 49:7 - "NONE can by any means redeem his brother"). THAT is why the best of persons can by no means, as the psalm here says, redeem his own brother. Not a chance.
As the Psalm goes on to say, however, it is GOD who will redeem the soul. Even the grave will not at all have the last word: in fact He will redeem it FROM the grace, we read (Psalm 49:15), in the case of the believer, David (cf. Psalm 16:8-10). GOD, it is he who is neither priest nor prelate, sinner nor church; for all of these sin. God is God; and let Him be so; and the Saviour is saviour, and let Him be so, and so accept what He undertakes. It is then that you need not fear in the least, not being good enough. That is then not even the point. HE IS good enough, and that is precisely why HE is accepted in the eyes of His Father, being holy, harmless and undefiled, higher than the heavens, as your adequate redemption, payment for the shortfall, both in experiencing the separation sin brings, and in overcoming the result with life, in the bodily resurrection (Hebrews 7:26-27, 9:12-15, 10:10,14).
But, you may say (and I have heard one speak in some such way): That is all fine. IF I keep my baptism, defer it till I am about to die: then with my sins new washed, I may have some hope of finding eternal life in purity at the end.
What! Trust in the sprinkling of drops or in some humanly contrived bath! What nonsense! Again, how sad to be so misled. Look at I Peter 3:21: saved by baptism ? of course, if ONLY you understand this to mean spiritually this - the witness of a good conscience to God. HOW ? What does it say in this verse ? It is BY YOUR PERFORMANCE ? Naturally not, for your name does appear in the annals of Scripture as Saviour. As this, you do not figure AT ALL! It is by the witness of a good conscience THROUGH the resurrection of Christ from the dead. That is what it says. Emrbacing this by faith, you indeed receive salvation.
DO YOU resurrect from the dead, so that you may depend on it as your basis ? Are we then to make results causes! Why then try to make your conscience good through lesser works! It is through HIM, who without spot offered Himself by the eternal Spirit to God, and through His blood that you are cleansed (Hebrews 9:14). It is a ONCE only performance by Him, but it is an ETERNAL result which accrues in the donation of eternal redemption, which HE HAS ALREADY PURCHASED. That is why there is NO OTHER NAME for salvation, given among men (Acts 4:11-12). YOURS is not there. Why then seek to act on it ?
Is baptism there ? Is dunking, dipping and so forth a Saviour ? Certainly not! Peter expressly dismisses such a concept. It is ludicrous, it is to make the Lord's Supper into a Mass, the same contrivance of symbol for reality! No, Christ did not send me to baptise, says Paul to the Corinthians, but to preach the gospel (I Corinthians 1:13-17). Paul, the apostle declares, was not crucified for you! As to baptism, this is NO PART of the gospel, accordingly. To preach it, the apostle was sent; to baptise, he was not. THAT, it is what he says.
Thus do not fear at all
that you will not be good enough to measure up. It is HE who has had to measure
up, and He did it (Hebrews 7:24-27, 2:10-14).
IT ALL DEPENDS WHOSE ARE THE CHILDREN!
AS THEY ARE, SO THEY DO
Will I then simply do as I please if I should become a Christian ? someone may ask.
Far from it! Do you not know that those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the lusts and the affections of it ? asks, or indeed remonstrates St Paul! (Galatians 5:24). IF you become a Christian, it is by HIS grace, and through HIS salvation purchased by HIS redemption and it is by HIS grace, which is sufficient for you (II Corinthians 13:9), that you stand, for HE is able to make you stand (Ephesians 6:10-14, Jude 24-25, I Thess. 5:9-10, Romans 5:1-11, 8:29ff.).
You COULD NOT even BECOME a Christian unless predestinated; and if predestinated, you are then justified; and it is ONLY when predestinated that you are either called savingly, or justified; but if justified, you are glorified. Once enter that circuit, and the line is never broken. Predestinated, called, justified, glorified: the one implies the other, and none of it can come except in the pack! WHOM He .... THOSE He! That is the form and formula alike. HE does it at the first, keeps it to the last. He who has begun a good work in you, will complete it (Philippians 1:6). It all rhymes and chimes, is resonant, the one part with the other.
Do you think He will fail to complete the good work which He begins in you when you come to Him as He is for what He has done, by faith ? "… He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" - Philippians 1:6. Is that long enough ? WHEN it is His day, He Himself is with you, and you see in sight what now you take by faith.
It is written over and again. Moreover, how would He not keep what is committed in faith to Him on the basis of His own redemption: since He has paid, and ever lives to make intercession, so that He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by Him! (Hebrews 7:25).
But you may say: ABLE, yes,
but willing ? His will is His word, and we have seen what is is written.
Indeed, have you never read II Thess. 5:23-24 ? Let us then read it now:
THIS SHEPHERD IS
INESCAPABLE, TIRELESS AND TRUE
THIS shepherd LOSE His sheep, which you become on so receiving Him ? It is expressly, emphatically, drastically, in detail rejected. Read it in John 10:27-28:
neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
Or do you imagine He forgets which is His sheep, or who has come to Him (John 6:47)! Is this faith in God ? Surely, if you have faith in God, and receive the ultimate, unsurpassable, definitive revelation of Himself in Christ Jesus, this with no competitors (John 10:8), the One, the Saviour attested by the prophets, conveyed by the apostles, imparted in His salvation by the Spirit of God, then NOTHING can separate you from the love of God.
What! If having come, you will not perish, by His own word, can EVEN YOU do it ? Can you then achieve perishing ? Naturally not. What cannot be done, YOU certainly cannot do.
But again, the smoking flax may become cloudy. But then I CANNOT leave Him, when I have come! it storms, its acid fumes stinging to the eyes that love God. NO! in this one thing the one who speaks is entirely right. Indeed, you cannot. That is precisely so. If then you do not love Him, why then there is the available option to be accursed as Paul advises in I Corinthians 16:22!
You call that the light of dawn! you cry. It is more like a searchlight.
Perhaps it is, but one for a wandering soul, needing to be found. Come and the light is gentle. It is harsh out there. IF you do not love God who is love, why then are you not a hypocrite ? Their end is dusk and the dark, not light and the dawn. The DAWN, and the light of it, is for those who come to the source of light, made tender in Christ, so that we can bear it, yes and love it. If you do not like even that, why then, it is you who forsake the dawn, not the dawn which forsakes you.
"For judgment I have come into this world," said Christ, "that those who do not see, may see, and that those who see may be made blind."
do not see in the dark, and any light at all then comes to seem to the
sheltered eyes of doom, unbearable.
SEE IT IN THE NATIONAL CASE OF ISRAEL OF OLD
Then, remembering that all
scripture is profitable for doctrine and edification (II Timothy 3:16, Psalm
119), look at the ancient case of Israel, and gain a glimpse of the heart of
God towards a sinning nation, so far astray that one would almost have to imagine,
to invent, were it not all written. Yet is it not so with some who read
this ? You may regret the past, and can scarcely believe it ?
If so, then he who is forgiven much loves much (as Christ told the scoffing Pharisee who dared to criticise Him, thus showing the superficiality of his own spirituality - Luke 7:44-47).
Hear then the living love of God, in Jeremiah, when the nation was ensconced in sins so appalling (Jeremiah 7), that it is hard to believe, and yet, and yet … see what He said (Jeremiah 31:17-22):
17 "There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.
18 "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself:
‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained bull;
Restore me, and I will return,
For You are the Lord my God.
19 Surely, after my turning, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh;
I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated,
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
20 "Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a pleasant child?
For though I spoke against him,
I earnestly remember him still;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.
21 "Set up signposts,
Set your heart toward the highway,
The way in which you went.
Turn back, O virgin of Israel,
Turn back to these your cities.
22 "How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man."
There, as shown in The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, and Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 1, we come to the words on the Messiah, as indeed just before this, we did likewise, in Jeremiah 30:21 explained in the above reference. THIS Messiah, who imports to the very eyes of man, to his very side, to his city and to his land, to this planet and to this plaintive need, the very face of God (II Cor. 4:6), formatted into a visible countenance and fashioned as man: what does He provide ?
It is a compassion
indomitable, which He provides: a grace unfading and a mercy without limit
either to depth or breadth. Refuse it, and its depth need not concern you.
Approach Him, and His willingness is as stated, and it is without omission.
There is none deprived when this source is tapped! It does not however even
drip where there is no thirst! though still He may yearn. Yet His yearning is
not without effect, for His own are His and nothing can deter it.
NEVER therefore say, It is not for me for I am too far gone. If you are not willing to come, then you may indeed be; but let not some lapse of mind, some vanquishing of heart substitute for the fulfilment of that yearning. IF you ask, you receive; only ask in faith. Look what He has done for Israel, even now, bringing them after 1900 years back to their land as appointed (Galloping Events Ch. 8, SMR Ch. 9), and yet giving them just that tireless trouble which their still unconverted state as predicted, occasions (cf. Zechariah 12, Ezekiel 36, SMR Appendix A)! NOTHING is too hard for the Lord: He can do ANYTHING He pleases (cf. Psalm 115, Ephesians 1:11).
As for Israel, the combination of restoration and trouble, it is this which is doubtless to help prompt their coming return in such large numbers to Himself! (Zech. 12:10, Romans 11, cf. The Biblical Workman Chs. 1-3). He says; they do; and He says what He will do; and does it.
If HE is willing to do that for THEM, after all that they have done (as predicted likewise in Deuteronomy 32, Leviticus 26, before it all came); and could even also predict their return to Him in due course (cf. Ezekiel 37 and references above), and be concerned to be faithful and kind to that extent, in still keeping faith with His promise to Abraham and the patriarchs (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4), then dare you imagine He is not willing to do it for YOU!
But, you say, I do not presume! Is that it ?
This, it is excellent to hear, unless of course you are joining fateful Ahaz (Isaiah 7) who WEARIED GOD with his procrastination and casuistical pedanticisms.
GOD ASKED him to trust and receive the deliverance he, then as king, needed. He would not ask, however, and why did he state this, what was his reason ? "I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!" That is what Ahaz said.
That! what undying hypocrisy. Had not Isaiah JUST offered anything up to the heights, or going down to the depths (see Isaiah 7:11 - the Hebrew at this point is intense in its specifications for the realm of asking available to Ahaz!)! Had not this been expressly provided for faith, with the prophet announcing that the present problem would dissipate!
Is it to PRESUME when you DISREGARD a passionately presented offer, or when you accept it ? and if there is doubt with man, what when it is from God Himself personally! When assured that it is the will and heart of the giver to give it, is it humility and self-effacement to thrust it away with whatever language! What however when you need just such an offer, as a land with shrunken cattle, drying up like grass, needs rain!
But you do not need it ? Then join the gods (see Psalm 82 for their just end). You DO need it, but do not wish to presume ? Then join Ahaz, whose end was not pretty! Join those whose humility is so profound, whose sense of the holy so finely tuned, that the REQUEST to believe and receive is taken meekly to MEAN this: Do NOT trust and do NOT receive! Such humility is unholy, and such trifling is merely wearisome!
Hear what the LORD said to this straying king:
"Hear now, O house of David!
Is it a small thing for you to weary, men,
but will you weary my God also?"
What, historically, happened when Ahaz so provoked God with his deadly verbal flak ? It was then that the virgin birth prophecy was given (see SMR pp. 770ff., and see Isaiah 7:14, 11:1ff., and 9:1-7), parallel to what we have just been seeing in Jeremiah 31, where the woman would encompass a man, showing the procedure in more detail.
IT HELP AHAZ, that this prophecy was given, in response to his unbelief ? Of
course not! Since he had not taken what was offered, he did not evacuate grace
from all or for all time. He merely lost it for that time. Thus, when the
Messiah came, it was far too late for Ahaz: but GOD PERFORMED HIS OWN PURPOSES
as He first proposed them (cf. Ephesians 1:11).
STIFF-NECKS CAN BE PAINFUL, BUT THEIR RESULTS MORE SO
Those who missed through a contrived mission of deviousness, missed. So be it! To resist the Holy Spirit so is most unwise. Consider what Stephen said to the erring religionists of his own time, as recorded in Acts 7:51-53:
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears!
You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?
And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,
who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
God is truth, and God is love: it is in Him that these things are. You cannot find the one without the other. Divorce from truth, and there is no love in that realm, the domain of the devil, of lies and fraud (John 8:44). Thus Christ declared, "I am the way, the truth and the life,"(John 14:6). NO OTHER WAY of course could be found to the Father except through Him who came from the Father, sent for the purpose, eternal with Him (John 8:58, I John 1:1-4, 5:39-40, 8:29,24,42). Thus He declared and thus it is.
If you fail, disregarding Him, it is for yourself alone. If you come, however, it is for HIMSELF, and even as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling, it is after all, in that most blessed case, GOD who works in you BOTH to will and to do (Philippians 2:12-13). It is THEN that the assurance is GIVEN PRECISELY that "our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which he able even to subdue all things to Himself."
When … YOU are His, YOU are part of that "all things". "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom" - Luke 12:32. Yes, then what is found ? This: "Therefore let no man boast, for all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come - all are yours. And you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s", yes even His only begotten Son who came because God so loved the world …
DO NOT rely on Calvin or Wesley or things Methodist or Presbyterian or Baptist or Anglican, or this saint or that. Be thankful for EVERY good thing, but rely solely on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. RELY ON CHRIST without admixture or addition, as the excellent Bishop Ryle, that great preacher in the Anglican church in the nineteenth century emphasised. "USELESS kinds of religion," he affirmed are those which EITHER OMIT Christ or ADD to Him. Be thankful for ALL the saints, and learn from them as enabled; but TRUST IN GOD ONLY and in His DEFINITIVE EXPRESSION Jesus Christ, the living word of God ONLY as your Saviour, and follow HIS word only. It is so simple, you would need to be like Ahaz to avoid it.
But then, his fault was not being too simple to understand, but too clever to accept.
"GOD FORBID that I should boast EXCEPT in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by WHOM THE WORLD is crucified to me and I to the world!" said the apostle (Galatians 6:14). Neither pope nor prelate, assembly nor culture, state nor philosophy in love was crucified for you, in power rose from the dead, in reality has the answer for you. It is HE, and in HIM that your fruit is found. Leave that to Him; YOU get on with trusting Him (Colossians 3:17, Matthew 23:8-10, Galatians 1, 3, 5, Romans 4:25-5:11, John 14:6, Mark 7:7), plus nothing. Trust Him and not ceremony, tradition, armies or constitutions, churches or champions. The only church that matters is the one which trust ONLY in Him, and through Him alone has access to the father (Acts 4:11-12, Hebrews 4:11-16, 9:14-15, Jeremiah 17:5ff., 9:23-24, 23:8-16, 20-22,28-30, Matthew 24:24, Proverbs 30:6), abiding in Him, loving Him and serving Him.
When He says there is NO
OTHER NAME but that of Christ, in Acts 4, believe it. It is not a case of your
name or that of any other, high or low, any body, great or small; and as to
human wisdom consider I Corinthians 1. THAT is brought to nothing, showing that
the apparent weakness of the love of God, in sending the vulnerable victor,
Christ crucified and yes rather risen, is the answer of divine origin for
people of divine origin, fallen into sin. Other names are presumption,
rebellion and futility.
See Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, The Epistles of Paul, the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians Trans. R. Mackenzie, at Romans 11:34, p. 260, 9:22, pp. 210 et al..
Calvin rightly guards the unique knowledge of God from presumptuous and prying eyes, but wrongly presents the whole area of predestination as one not only of divine prerogative, but one which admits of no more illuminating survey than that of a blind man in darkness. The subject, however, as revealed, admits of wonderful clarity and provides no logical problems.
Again, in rightly defending the divine sovereignty in Romans 9:22, he wrongly overlooks the limiting force of the shaft of light in divine mercy, at this place, in which, just as explicitly in II Thess. 2:10-12, the will of God is not, in revelation, by any means a mere enigma, closed book, an intricate labyrinth of the obfuscatory in the presence of survey. Whilst it is true that we know no more than we are told, it is equally true that the sovereign of predestination is not only over it, Himself, but declares that He IS love, who is such an overseer. The sovereignty is by no means stark and unrelieved in this regard, but full and brimming.
It is a grievous thing that Calvin could so depart from the clear teaching of scripture on this point; for under the guise of not going beyond the word, rather he did not transmit all of it, but rather truncated. Since these things are all clear to the one who understands (Proverbs 8:8), one might as well confess that where they are wholly unclear, that it is the agent and not the Lord, who lacks the light, and that His word is not a darkness to our path, but as in Psalm 119, a light.
Imagine working in such a realm from such a Lord and declaring as Calvin does (op.cit., p. 260), that in this matter "men can discern no more than a blind man in darkness".
To be sure, he is speaking of going beyond what the Lord has revealed, and the dangers inherent in such a practice; but for all that, he speaks not only of this, but of doing so "WHILE we learn in this matter men can discern no more than a blind man..."
As he goes on, without relevance to the point of light in revelation, to talk of these things being beyond man's comprehension, there is no doubt about his meaning. It is this. If men lack the presence of God, they do not understand spiritual things. If they have it, they dare not go beyond what is given. The difficulty is this, that Calvin does not proceed in this matter to the point where the light and the Lord and the word go, but stops short, not crossing the bridge provided and hence experiencing, though not an unbeliever, the phenomenal darkness in this field, to which he refers. He then defends the situation thus here lacking light, for the believer, calling for faith. Faith however is not the name for what shuts the eyes to revelation as given, and given categorically. Darkness is what light chases, and stumbling is its realm. There is nothing incomprehensible, dark or hidden here, at least in outline, however many the illuminations to come in heaven. Here is a glory, not a shame.
Not so is the word of God, for far from a scene of darkness, it is a light to the path. To excuse an incomprehensible muddle taken by omitting clear scriptures and affirming merely one aspect is a double failure: it lacks the light of the word of God, which of course leads to darkness, and it imputes to the revelation a darkness to comprehension which it neither affirms not presents. Indeed, it is true that one should not go BEYOND what God has said in doctrine; but no less so that one should not fall short of it. It is this which aborts, and prevents the healthy child of resolute doctrine which the God who made the mind of man has given.
Exercises in truncated muddle are not at all the same as healthy awareness that we know in part. What we ARE told is to be seen not only to the contrary entirely in Proverbs 8:8, but in Psalm 119:105,130. The entrance of His words gives light... not darkness. These are opposites.
as in Genesis 6:13, I Tim. 4:1ff.,
in Matthew 13:15
(Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff., I Tim. 2, Colossians 1:19ff., John 3 - cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4), sincerely and substantially provided; and
Light of love shines undimmed in all of these things, just as sovereignty is wholly untrimmed. These things neither contradict, nor even are they contrary, nor is there any darkness at all, for the eye to behold (cf. John 8:32, 11:9-10, Matthew 5:14ff., Luke 11:36), nor any way to stumble as one walks in Him who IS the light, with His word which shines on the way; for there is nothing contorted or twisted about it (Proverbs 8:8), which the wisdom of God says, and it is this which is the divinely given REASON why it is all clear to one who understands. Never attribute to God what one does not find, but rather seeking, find what He has given, and given abundantly. Never talk of a dark walk with the light, for its pure outshining prohibits darkness, just as searchlights prevent the aeroplane from dancing unseen in the sky.
As in much, we have wonders
with delight to find on arrival with the Lord in paradise; but in the meantime, the
harmonious completion of His revelation is an object of delight and praise. HE
only knows precisely HOW He does it; but the scope for it in terms of His
principles as revealed is profound
(cf. Predestination and Freewill). Moreover, as there shown, the principles of predestination are such that not only are they a totally reasonable matter, with no room whatever for antinomies, obscurities and oddities. They answer what nothing else can in this field. They are one of the glories of the divine revelation, for anyone giving a reason for the faith. They prevail in profundity of harmony and meaning, where nothing else stands at all.
See on this, further: Great Execrations Ch. 9; MARVELS of Predestination and the Ways of Will Ch. 6, *2, will and meritless operation; Tender TImes... Ch. 11, esp. pp.172ff.;
Sparkling Life in Christ Jesus Ch. 7, Earth Spasm, Conscience Chasm... Ch. 6.
What we know in part, is wholly glorious in its reasonableness, its grace and its consistency with the love of God. There is no sticky residue, far less area of darkness. To be sure, man without Christ is without truth, but then it is equally true that man in this state, is in the realm where truth is held down and man is in a torment of trouble, for it cannot be controlled; he is captive to sin (Romans 1:18-21, Ephesians 4:17ff., 2:1ff.). Let us not however accentuate the situation by making it appear that he is as a blind man walking in darkness in this realm of predestination expressly. Man's thoughts (as expressly presented in Romans 2:13-15) are by no means without opportunity, nor do they deal without any light which lightens every man (as John 1:9).
There is what some call common grace, and whatever you call it, is a residual remembrance in function and in form, of the defiled image of God. In this certainly UNCOMPREHENDING situation (John 1:5), man is nevertheless not so derelict that he has NO function whatever. It is just that he distorts, obscures or fights against it. Thus in logic he is not at all points astray and at all times. He squirms when the pressure is on certainly; but at times there is a degree of continuation which takes him some distance, before he falls.
Thus it would be neither true nor relevant to act as if, in particular, the doctrine of predestination is too much per se and in all things and in all times for the unconverted mind. This doctrine, biblically, is INHERENTLY clear and intrinsically just, sound ;and it contains that glorious blend of sovereignty and love, compassion and competence, oversight beyond all time and decision from deity, desire to deliver and determination for the love without which nothing has value (I Cor. 13), predestination included since this is of God, and God is love: which commends the truth of God. Christian apologetics justly points this, and has the conspicuous opportunity to show that nothing else meets any and all that reason can ask, with a coverage unimpugnable, glorious and consistent, as this does.
On Romans 9, see further in Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2, End-note 1.
Unfortunately, as there indicated as in Predestination and Freewill, Calvin apparently unconsciously omits some of the revelation, and moves virtually to divide Father from Son to escape more (cf. Tender Times ... Ch. 2, Note 1), and hence is left in a measure of obscurity in what he presents in this particular field, an omission which does nothing to glorify the Lord. It is the truncation of truth, not the truth itself which creates the problem. On the other hand, Calvin has contributed, even in this field, much most useful material.
As always, one is forced to delight in Paul's reference to specific teachers in I Cor. 3. NOT of Calvin, Apollos or anyone else.
You can put in pope, you can put in your pet ceremonialist, church lawyer, conference, council and the like: but NOT for that. When God speaks it is time to remember the gap of infinitude between His thoughts and ANY ONE ELSE’s (Isaiah 55). What is HIS WORD is one thing. EVERYTHING ELSE, is another. To act on such precepts is intolerable to God, being condemned, and made the subject of a lecture to the contrary, based on biblical precepts, from the apostolic pen itself. Get the commands from God only, by whomever is His chosen writer in the Bible, and even then, AS the scripture is given to that one.
The pride and preposterous pomposity of having someone else pose in this place is under the most intensive divine contempt. The foolishness of having even a good teacher set up in His presence is folly. They help. HE commands. They explain. HE declares. WHAT they explain is testable in one place only: HIS word. Nothing can touch it, nothing equal it, nothing be in the same realm with it, in its serene and stable, its sovereign and peculiar status, of limitless authority, available to all, sequestrable by NONE!
NO OTHER NAME is here tolerable: THAT is what is commanded! If something helps, praise God, and be happy in your team. But NEVER elevate a team member to a potentate! The LORD ONLY is that.
As always, one is forced to delight in Paul's reference to specific teachers in I Cor. 3. NOT of Calvin, Apollos or anyone else. THAT is what is commanded! If something helps, praise God, and be happy in your team. But NEVER elevate a team member to a potentate! The LORD ONLY is that.
Oh! and it is forbidden! by GOD! Read I Cor. 3:1-3. NOT of APOLLOS. What ? an Apollonian ? ... a Calvinist ? IF you agree with the famous 5 points of Calvinism, it would therefore be scripturally proper, not to say you are a Calvinist, but that you find these 5 points Biblical. It is the word, not the worker, by which you are to be named; and as to that, the word of the LORD.
As to the writers of the Bible, wholly inspired by God (Acts 4:25, Matthew 5:17ff., II Timothy 3:16, Isaiah 34:16, I Peter 1:10ff., II Peter 1:19-21, Exodus 24:7, I Cor. 2:9ff., Deuteronomy 31:24, 29:1, Joshua 24:26, Psalm 119 and see SMR Appendix D), these give the word of the Lord, at His will. The difference between being an emanuensis for God, and teaching is of the order of infinity. One is CONVEYING what God says; the other is conveying what appears from what is said. One is the mind of Christ conveyed by the power of illumination with verbal facility provided as in I Cor. 2; the other, with help for teaching, is the exposition conveyed.
Direction from God and
efforts to express what He has said for instruction are as different as the sun
and the moon, yes and more so; for the sun gives the moon its light for
reflection, so that it is merely secondary in substance, while the sun also has
a source within itself.
It would be good to hear these words.
First, II Timothy 1:8-12.
"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner,
but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of
9 who has
saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but
according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus
before time began,
10 but has
now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has
abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."
II Timothy 4:18.
the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly
To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!"