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THE LORD IS MY LIGHT
Eminent, Immanent and Permanent
The Lord ? The Lord!
The concept of Lord is not now always readily assimilated to the modern heart. Let us consider this thing in the light of reality.
The Lord God is the
author of time, always in time as far as time is concerned, has no time
but took time for its removal, in time, so that beyond all time He might bring those in timely fashion to the timeless, where events still pass, but are not requisitioned for a pilgrimage of patience and a world which grows old.
The Lord of glory, who came to earth, that sovereign not of an empire but King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Creator of the universe, is eminent, imminent and immanent.
is, His name is above all and when you have finished your star gazing at
impossible philosophies, impotent politics and selfish policies, girded
with fear and stirred with aspiration, nubilous and as far seeing as anyone
else with eyes out of focus, He remains (Zechariah 9:7). It is He who remains
who is our God. He is not about to leave (Acme, Alpha and Omega:
Ch. 8 ), and His creation is not available for vacant possession. The results of force are dreadful, and history abounds in the vengeance and the vanity, the loss and the doom of the invincible from Babylon to Hitler...
IMMINENT: His return, as of One having already descended to the grave who by grace mad short work of it, in just 3 days, is very near. The normal dose of irrationals and absurdities, the endless stream of deluded imaginations that have everything but logic or empiric confirmation, evidential support or possibility of truth, this keeps His name far; but His name is near (Psalm 75:1, Ephesians 2:13,18), and His presence is imminent. It is part of the pre-announced plan and pre-arranged scenario that when He does return, doing simply what He has always done, exactly what He has said, it will seem to some like Hiroshima to the Japanese (Revelation 1:7), AFTER it had happened. HOW could it happen ? It was after it had happened that it became apparent that having the head in the sand by no means protects the body. So then it was for Japan; so soon it is for the world.
IMMANENT: Christ in you, the hope of glory is what is missing in the incomplete species of mankind who, having sinned, is not discovered, is not restored, is still not converted, is ex-God in a world made by Him, for Himself. It is like missing a brain, only worse; for in that case, you would not know, but in this, you know and will know the results of the carefully screened site in your life which you so exactly evacuate of the God who made you, keeping all thought of His redemption as far from you, as bankruptcy. Again the irony: it is just when you seek to conserve the 'millions' of autonomy, living entirely for yourself, whether it be a nice, self-congratulatory moral self, which makes its own morals, or other, that you lose the riches of eternity, and wedded to the stage of our pilgrimage, do not even look up to find the purpose, the principles or the power. Trusting in yourself, you are as wise as an ant solemnly going about its busy business, under the shadow of a descending elephant's foot. We are not alone, and have not been made to be alone.
PERMANENT: While however God by His Spirit can live personally in persons who are adopted by His grace, in terms of the covenant in the blood of Christ (Matthew 26:28), this dower, this wonder is not at all a feature of the universe, any more than a sheep farmer is immanent in his sheep. He remains in His own power and person, apart; and His friendship by His Spirit, that direct involvement of the Almighty in the human heart so famous in Abraham, David and Moses, in Daniel and Samuel, this in no way limits His normal total sovereignty in the uninterrupted integrity of His person, in and by Himself.
You may shake hands with your friend, but you do not thereby become him or her. The friendship of Christ is nothing whatever to do with indistinct and vague spirituality. It is simply the presence of God by His Spirit in terms of His covenant, according to His promises, in a personal mode which is the essence and proto-type of friendship.
He who can and sometimes thus does become immanent and so lives in His own people, and indeed in these it is His way, is thus permanent in and within Himself, saying, I AM. I AM WHO I AM, in Exodus, and as Christ (Exodus 3:14, John 8:58).
Where then does the world fit into His plan.
It is His space-time basis for the pilgrimage of nations, the production of persons and the stage of life. It is His model of marvels, His house of wonders and His arena for judgment.
Time, the child of His thought, neither contains nor compresses, constrains nor compels Him; for its existence is a dependency, and like matter and space, it is a piece of paper, and a place for a picture of things more important, for their transcription.
Time is running out: it is
not a scarce resource, but scarcely fit to continue. In it, man has made
a mess of a mansion, a mutilation of a joy and a macabre invasion of truth
with unenviable braggadocio which constantly increases with hope ever vain,
as its basis removes more distant, from his sight. God has provided otherwise;
but not to the taste of the bulk of the human inhabitants of time, whose
time is coming when, stark and manifest, is revealed the Eternal One's
assessment of their hasty deeds and hapless intrusions, their endeavours
with a little knowledge to surpass the works of the One who invented them,
their efforts to align electronic methods with biological bases, to insert
data past sensory equipment, as with pilots, to allow a faster processing,
as if death were no challenge, life were at their finger tips and they
were every bit as wise as God.
What however of man ?
The time for judgment has
long since come on Christ as Saviour; and now does the time speed for man
apart from God, on himself as misspent.
When time has done its little task, and eternity looks full face at the children of men, there is undoubtedly much to lament. The lament of Christ over Jerusalem is only one expression of the lamentable, the lachrymose, the tearful, the tragic. Tragedy of bodily suffering, said Christ, is not to be compared with the spiritual kind (Matthew 10:28); and the plight of many mental patients in self-wrought caves of discontent is but a portent. It is not at all that God is without pity, since His pity is so vast that He took the plight upon Himself in person, and the banished it with joy by bearing on the cross, the container unit if you will, of the stacked up, packed up sorted sins of mankind, as many as transferred them, as many as are His. He does not upload what is not downloaded; and there is precisely NO payment for what is not provided for garbage collection (John 8:24).
The tragedy is that when such arrangements have been freely made that so many insist on ignoring them, like householders unwilling to answer the call of Council to put out their garbage in special collecting units, for ready despatch. Thus, refusing to evacuate garbage, they become garbage. It is like cancer: if you do not get rid of it, then on this earth, it bids fair to get rid of you. You divorce or are divorced; and if this is physical life, much more so is it in the spiritual, where your whole life is at stake, and you are responsible to the last degree and point!
However, AFTER the lamentation for Jerusalem (Luke 19:42ff.), the God of all comfort, who is also the God of truth, who judges according to truth, proceeded to relate as a sure and invincible thing, that Jerusalem the heedless would assuredly now be destroyed.
Then it comes to a point beyond lament: the lamentable having been pitied, and the lost having been drawn only to repel in response, the refusal of these comforts leads merely to the land of such waters of sorrow that tears scarcely any more are relevant. The human heart is not eternal in itself, being always dependent upon God; and when it is fractured, and fractious, when it is never ready to repent, and when its last word is as in Proverbs 1:22-27, then its end draws near. God will not always strive with man, since he is flesh (Genesis 6:3); and he is unable to bear all things. Yet, if he is to go, then when he is gone, the lament which preceded it does not soften the terminus.
It is this, then, or the
rejoicing of discovery, of being discovered, like a cove, and discovering,
like a dog, his master. If you want a dictator, he is coming, this world's
evil ruler (John 14:30). If you want a Father (Isaiah 40:28-31), He is
here, this world's saviour, made available through His Son Jesus Christ
(Ephesians 2:18). HE does not alter (Malachi 3:6, nor is He ever displaced
(Psalm 90:1-2, Matthew 25:26ff., 46, Romans 11:3, Isaiah 43:13).
Piety ? It is a life which recognises God, is devoted to Him, has devotion from Him, understands His faithfulness, appreciates His love, does not call it freedom to pretend to be a god, since it is the mere flame of madness, contrary to reality. It surges with delight at the pure splendour of God, loves to be finite in the presence of the infinite understanding of God, seeks to serve Him and to grasp His will for His other creations, so that one may please and proceed intelligently in line with His gracious purposes, who needs nothing from His creations, and gives to man the supreme honour of access to His own friendship.
Piety realises rules, and is not under the misapprehension that to be lively you have to be exotic or despotic or chaotic; for in God is such a depth as makes the Flinders Ranges themselves in their deep interiors of sweeping geology, visual grandeur and minute floral provisions, to seem but small and pale. There is, in God for His friends, such a discovery realm as to make the entire universe but a playpen by comparison. In Him, there is such love as to make all romance the mere expression in a specialised format, of the original and author of love.
Thus when impiety proceeds to the desolations where piety is not present, and will not be present, and in spirit IS not present, there is a portent. It is a smell, as one doctor once said he could detect when near to a gastric ulcer! One supposes it was a complex of actual slight smell, tension, gravity and lack of humour and so on. It is a flavour. It is a feature, like the little Iron Knob, so famous for its ore, but such a rhinoceros pimple on the earth (the horn of the beast, not the bulk!). SO here: there is in impiety a rankness, like weeds, a blatancy like snakes that crawl and carry their hypodermic poison syringes in their mouths, a determined ingratitude, like a spoiled wanton child. It is a foul thing, impressed with its own nature or idols or both, since it chooses its own idols and in this at least, depends upon itself. It is denounced in the Bible, and more, it denounces itself as a thing unreasonable, exotically expunging as far as may be, the truth within and seeking to exclude the lordship without.
Unhallowed is its name. Its role model is again and again seen in kings and emperors, as we have noted in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Lusting to the heavens, these diseased pieces of spiritual equipment are sent lunging to their due non-repose, in hell. Hell, says one prophet (Isaiah 14:9) is excited about you, at your coming! It belongs. It is not MERE judgment; it is JUSTICE which puts the studied unrealism of mere desire, or the studied termination of desire in favour of some philosophy, itself the desire and hence a mere desire, into its place.
WHAT is desired, not being God, and God being the only desirable end and being, for one so made, and moreover filled with every beautiful gift, the source of beauty and the censor of folly: what departs like darkness from light becomes refuse, for which there is no refuge. Thus hell is the name of the terminus. The fleeing does end: and what ends is not the terminus but the track.
The pit is bottomless in the sense that there is no foundation; but the destiny is clear in that it is fitting.
SO does man lumber along the timber trails of 'nature', spiritually spineless, deprived of integrity, stridently stripped of all meaning, an equipment jettisoned, a horse unridable, a careerist who careers vainly into the voiceless void, which after all is not empty, being rather filled and even cluttered with the morbid features of eternal death.
read of it in Mark 9, in Isaiah 66 and in Isaiah 14. Fancy having a place
excited about you, filled with the humiliation of the proud, the detestable
dereliction of duty, the hideous results of irresponsibility, the paragons
of procurement, seeking a life that is not there from a source which does
not have it. What aggravates the doom and outlines it is this: that these
very things are in the very face of One who has brought life so near that
it irrupted into the earth and disrupted the very way of the Temple, the
curtain to the Holy of Holies being ripped open. Why was this done ? It
occurred since now HE was the direct entry to God, the divine highway to
the Eternal, who by becoming a man in the temporal realm, stood ready to
uplift to His own glory, any who would come (John 1:12).
THE END OF
AND CLAMANT IS MAN
BUT THE LORD IS INSURGENT
Man may come to Him, but this is not the only coming. At to Him, His coming, a second time, for the next purpose is now imminent; He who in being is eminent and pre-eminent as Prince and Inhabitant of eternity; and it is joy to expect to those who are His, for His lodging in the heart of man is a matter of the immanent, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." In heart they know Him, then they shall see Him, not alone with the eyes of faith, but with the light of common day.
This brings us to the other side of the irony ? Those who cannot hold from grasping all things, or any thing rather than their God, lose all things. But this other side of it ? It is when you are so filled with the Lord, alert to His presence (all right, a dog has delight when his master is available and collaborative in his vigorous joys!), that operating as friend, and not mere animal, as man in the image of God in the presence of God, it is then that liberty finds itself and freedom appreciates its own domain. Why ? I t is because this IS its domain, and this is where it lives, this is the road for the car which is not really free when, puffed up with fresh duco, it insists on going ANYWHERE, only to be bogged for its own pettish folly!
This is not the law of liberty. It is when you settle on celestial street that freedom avenue takes form, as out of a mist, showing features so desirable that the former desires for autonomy become merely as the prairie dust, unsavoury, touched with the artificial fertilisers which men of this world so promote, unhealthy and with no future but degradation.
This One is the LORD. He is not the pal, the partner in equal scope like the new marriage infelicity which does not recognise specialisation even when it is even VISIBLE. He is RULER, He is sovereign, He is presidential, He is beyond all but in His love, available TO all His children. Fatherhood has a name from Him, and children of God LOVE to be such, knowing it is far better to be identified as children of such a One as this, than orphans of this world (John 14:18), netted by the devil, run by delusion, awaiting export to places where no visa is required, since to arrive to be lost.
If man in the martial frenzies of his disturbed world must now increasingly face the insurgencies of rebels, its very carnal matrix being lost and acting like it with more and more resolution, accompanied by the bravado of the damned as alas many bid fair to be in the militant march to hell; and if thousands if not millions fall, sliced, sluiced or slugged by the imperious powers of heartless man, what is so amazing if righteous rule itself comes on this morally debauched scene ? When ? His patience has been great (II Peter 3:9), and the scenario is plainly stated by Christ. Not only will the emptiness of a thankless world be exposed like a boil no longer to be hidden, but the fulness of the Gospel will surge into a surveyed world with strength, until all the nations know. "Then shall the end come!" said Christ (Matthew 24:14). The Lord is love; but love does NOT abdicate, and undesired does not cease, though its lavishness if lost on the wilfully lost (cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 8). He is Lord who comes, and His absence has not seen a scene of peace in all the important priorities which importantly have vaunted their wares for the unwary for so long, that the world reels with brave face and long list of atrocities of mind, spirit and body.
Since then the LORD is coming, and has already come the first time to PRESENT Himself and His way, His gospel and show in flesh the wonder of His glorious nature, and has shown to what He is committed, His manner, His methods and His plans, His nature and His determination, and since the other options of mind are already likewise come, in all their vanity and profusion of illusion, the company of the confused: it is time to consider the name "Lord". Though it may not attract the self-worshipful, it is yet far better than the name "tyrant"; and the sole valid truth is far better than its wilful exclusion, so that lives for which it is in absentia, absent from the grace of God might spend their limited resources on what has no future because it has no truth. There is an endless end, but is nothing one could describe as a future; rather it is an unenviable past of guilt, perhaps unrecognised but now exposed, echoing in the vaults of the lost.
Moreover, what tyranny is worse than that of yourself, your idols and your emptiness, masquerading as life, when it is but a subtle variant of death, preparing for its due coffin in corruption of mind and spirit, for long in deceased mobility, still futilely active like the legs of the slain rooster.
It is time to seek the Lord, and it is still more time to find what it means to BE LORD! It is not some upstart politician, seeking by false ways and delusive charm to overturn the last vestiges of one's freedom, and for his own fulfilment, ambition or self-importance to govern with little knowledge and much reward. It is He who MADE YOU, whose destiny is available to you.
To be sure, YOU cannot choose the option of the Lord, since He is not dead fish ready for delivery by the fishmonger, to your palatial individuality. Your blindness, pathological condition of heart and soul may preclude this as vanity wedded to pride directs you, compels like a slave, to disregard the salve of the heart, the perfume of the spirit and cling resolutely to the smell of the coffin of dead works with dead heart and deluded mind, fulfilling the wishes of the creature, as if your invention meant that your Creator was less wise than yourself! YOU, whose delusion at any moment, death at any other, passion for this or that can dispel reason, whose body can be removed by the next assassin, whose reason can be disturbed by the next irrational rationalisation, are you to trust yourself! Are you then to prefer yourself and your precious morals drawn from your own obtuse orals of heart, parades of flushed ostentation, blatant, blind to the absolute, self-based and therefore self-deprived, as if you amounted to something!
And to what does man amount ? "Man being in honour does not abide: he is like the beast that perish" - Psalm 49:12. Such is his body, but says the Psalm,
Does a man's ignorance become knowledge by assumption ? Does at first his endless seeming development, from zygote to embryo, from babe to maturity, from age to exit: first up and then physically down, does this suggest an executor of the universe to pride himself on his powers and to determine for himself his meaning, his future and his desire ? Is man to make himself a god in order to be a combination of pride, gullibility and confusion! Is this the humility that strides to the wisdom of his Creator with panache, a prince and fearless being a god!
Is intention to be defined
to MEAN wisdom ? or is invention to be conceived as truth ? Is facility
understanding, or is work in the scene of the senses the knowledge of life
? On what possible grounds ? Only that it is given from Him who, knowing
all and not being subject to limitation and pathology, has given it. But
given it without Himself, and to the exclusion of Himself ?
If then the mind who made you is insufferable to you, what are you to Him, whose mind IS what yours is not!
Such vagrancy of spirit is merely the clamant decadence of the lost heart.
The Lord however does not allow these millenia to multiply. There is an end. This folly is not for eternity: that is too precious. However those in this field of folly who HUMBLE themselves, and SEEK the Lord, that He might see fit to grant repentance of heart, and realisation of spirit, that He might be believed, that His word and way and witness and wisdom might be received, these know that he who seeks finds, in this realm. It is not possible to be frustrated, unless of course you do not seek with all your heart. In that case, it is most wise to seek that the Lord should grant you this grace. WHEN of course He has granted it, it is already a heart that is healed! (Isaiah 53:5-6).
It is good then, for the knowledge of the LORD, in His mercy and grandeur, His splendour and His majesty, His love and His tenderness, not to pretend to be what you are not, but to seek Him who is, so that your delusions and confusions, your reluctances and rebellions might cease. When you know the LORD, it is like a child knowing his father; and for one's own part, by the great mercies of God, that for myself was a delightful experience. His patience and grace were entirely remarkable to me! As for the Father of fatherhood, the source and original, truly celestial is He, incomparable. Source of splendour, He became butt of doom, that breaking it in innocence, He might lead many to Himself, in the person of His incarnate Son, the eternal expression of God (John 1, Hebrews 1). Yet man becomes the butt of his own dooms as he writhes in misspent fatherhood, or in filial ingratitude, in consonance with culture, assonance with asininity, too proud to acknowledge the mischief, to self-assured to lose the loot of misused licence, fragmentation and fiction.
It is our delight that God has sent into this spoiled world, the unspoiled, that we might all see it in its purity and power, its radiance and truth.
Thus even if your own father was not thus to you, it is still time for you to experience the one WHO IS thus! His is the ultimate basis of all love, kindness, meaning and mercy. Let us then look on the concept and the person, LORDSHIP and the LORD: not as the nations do, who love to have dominion, the one over the other, outside themselves and within their borders; but see the One whose heart has given to each of us desire, that the most holy and most happy be found.
This is where it is, amazingly as it seems at first, but obviously as it comes to be realised at last, in LORDSHIP. Of whom ? Of Him who IS Lord, before all attribution, and shows it when received, the very summit of the heartland of sacred spirituality: precedent for man, origin and maker of man, a destiny for him to know, one greatly to be desired (cf. Haggai 2:7 - "the desire of the nations", though often they have no will or heart to count the cost and come, merely hankering for by-products, not coming the original and author Himself, so striving without peace, which is His). In the end, He shall rule (Psalm 2, Haggai 2:6-7), having fulfilled what He said, "I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations."
He IS Lord, and has shown it in creation, salvation and His word, in coming and in the way of His going!
We hear much of salvation from sin; and this is both basic and wonderful. However we hear rather less of LORDSHIP : and this is a poignant fact, as if the very delusions of grandeur of so many little tyrants who misuse their liberties and lose their love, little eddies of power going to the sea of oblivion in their own conceits, should rise up to rule. Alas, however, they travel to no oblivious oblivion but to a judgment not forgetful of what they have done, even in disregard of Him who is source and Saviour, Prince and Truth: for this, their judgment is not from themselves, as if these were the criterion and not the mere excrescence divorced from reality, who refuse to know Him. This terminus to come is judgment according to truth (Romans 2). It is to this they travel, with eyes hard closed.
These, if unrepentant to the end, they become the garbage of spirit to occupy their place in the category of their own folly. The Lord is filled with pity, has shown it, is effulgent with power, and has used it, being resurrected from the dead, wholly irrepressible from first to last, even when He took the form of a servant, and serving as priest, offered Himself an offering for sin. It all went according to pre-announced plan. Nothing could be disturbed in the whole scene as so often depicted in the prophets, so often disclosed in their predictions which like videos, are found in their many encasements in the Bible.
It is to Him that one should be addressed as a letter. The post is sure.
It does not tarry (Acts 2:21).
OF CHRISTIANITY IS
ENCAPSULATED IN THE MESSIAH
The post always goes to the Messiah, the communicator, the definitive expression of God, the Sent One (Isaiah 48:16, John 3:16, 1:1-12, Zechariah 2:8, Psalm 40 cf. Joyful Jottings), the Saviour, the everlasting word of the Eternal (John 1:1, Micah 5:1-3, Zech. 12:10, Psalm 45).
Christianity is personal, therefore, since the source of man and the universe is personal; but it also has principles.
These do not engulf God; HE HAS them, for they are His, and with such purities of person and expositions of His nature He is pleased to act. He adheres to His word; He does not abrogate it (Matthew 5:17); nor does He abdicate (Psalm 90:1-2, Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 8). His rule is sure and His kingdom is the one which does not end (Daniel 7:25). It is God Himself who is, speaks, rules, creates, judges, has principles, performs wonders.
He has an intimate relationship with these propositions, these principles; but this is the nature of the case which is His good pleasure. His word abides because it is His. The system does not run Him; He is the sovereign of sovereignty, not the butt of human speculation which seizing on this or that aspect of His actions and characteristic of His being, tries to construct theological architraves and make new doors, as if our thought on His word were the system to follow. In this way come the I of Apollos, I of Wesley, I of Calvin, I of Luther errors (I Cor. 3:3-4).
However fine in many ways these and such other saints have been, it is near to fatal to FOLLOW them. They err, like Augustine for all his intense brilliance, in this and in that. Augustine as shown in Predestination and Freewill even varied over time. This is not to derogate, but to facilitate realisation. Reality is NOT AT ALL under the control or the butt of the thought of man.
In this site, we have sought to give a reason for the faith, which after all is the deposition of divinity, the expression of God, the presentation of His word and will to man, the covering offered to sinning man and the exposition of the mind of deity, in all frankness and sincerity, to man. As to His word, it is not given as a lecture to taste, or as a system to manipulate like terrains in this globe, when the earth-movers come; but it IS given as a presentation to explore, comprehend and excogitate. In this, the walls are always what is written, and the finale is always as from the beginning. Nevertheless, in exploring we gain the sense of conspectus, not to impose but to expose because it is given; hence as in Psalm 119 we meditate on His law, and on HIM who is LORD!
It is good to show that the reason that is lodged within us, and which is one of our characteristic features as mankind, even that with which we perform all our constructed actions, will not tolerate any departure from this word of God: for as it moves from this, it is found orphaned, leaving itself in conquest under the chains of antinomies, self-contradictions and futility, of confusion and frustration when it seeks 'liberty' from God, as if the head sought liberty from the neck. That is normally called execution, or perhaps suicide. All this we have seen repeatedly and in great detail as in SMR and TMR, as in Repent or Perish and in Barbs, Arrows and Balms.
we are reflecting on the nature of what we have, of the order of what is
given, of the character of the relationship between man and God, and in
particular on the lordship which is His, and on what this means for man,
when, not arrogating the august majesty of God, he simply sets about living
in Christ. This is shown in perfection in Christ who, as a Person, related
most intimately to principles but not as slave, rather as friend, who abundant
aura of deity was nevertheless exhibited in the format of man, not by formula,
but in form. Through the Spirit He exhibited both the power and the purity
of the deity, the love and the mercy, the grace and the courage, the integrity
and the wonder, the self-discipline and the stringency, the expansiveness
of the grace and the pure wit of understanding in all things.
A LOOK AT LORDSHIP IN ACTION
Thus Christianity is both personal and rational, both intimate and exposed. As the Lordship of Christ is made manifest in the harmonious happiness of living with Him, there are numerous features, some of which belong in this minor survey.
One of these is DIRECTION. It occurs in terms of the 10 commandments, which are not things to fulfilled (as in Matthew 5:17ff.) and hence are things to be done. Direction ? It occurs in the very numerous exhortations and commands in the New Testament as in I Thessalonians 5, Romans 12, I Corinthians 12-14. It is found in principle (as in I Cor. 13): not a principle divorced from the personal Being who is God, but as personal dynamic expressive of Him, in Him and for Him. It is found in rule, it is also found in guidance.
This latter topic has been pursued on various occasions, such as in A Question of Gifts X and on.
However here our task is simply to glimpse its action in the case of three occasions with Paul, so that its texture may be felt in one phase, while its nature is not in the least limited to this. Indeed, to limit the Holy One of Israel, a bane and not a blessing, is a fault which can occur, for the sinning soul which merely thereby excludes blessing, either by imagining God MUST always act dramatically, or MUST NOT ever do so.
Both misconceptions are common; and we need to realise this, that He acts AS HE WILL. He does this precisely and exactly. It is not to be confused with the fact that He is merciful, kind, attentive to His children, any more than a child should expect a mother or father to REACT as planned, or to ACT on the basis of some childish schedule drawn up in the child mind for the parent to follow! GOD MAY act in vision if He wishes, and expressly indicates in a prophecy covering the entire New Testament Church Age, that He will do this AS He wishes, and by no means excludes this (Acts 2:17-18). One may grow a little weary of the churches which try to limit this by philosophy.
It gives the evil one a chance to contrast their 'conservatism' with the aggressive dramas if not melodramas practised by others, who seem to imagine at times, almost that the people must be amused, or activated or things must be 'promoted' so that the pews swell with excited souls.
To be spiritually deadened can occur in either of two ways, in this thing. You can DEMAND action, lights and camera for your afternoon tea, as if life were all excitement. Again, you can FORBID action, lights and camera, as if life were a tepidity. It is neither of these things, in Christ. It can HAVE drama and HAVE quietness, and in heart it is the latter. Thus, if a burglar arouses the house, expect drama. He is not however always at it!
Peace of heart is rather the norm of life in the presence of God. It is designed, but as with designs, one proceeds according to specifications, not in a whirl of will:
"In returning and rest, you shall be saved;In this section with Paul, we shall be looking at something certainly with a measure of excitement, as any new post tends to bring, when it is accepted for and in the Lord: but not with unrest! HERE is new territory, a new thing in the service of God; and who would not feel excitement to see what HE will do. However it is not exceedingly dramatic, for it is something which passes in the intimacy of the soul of friendship with that marvellous divine comrade, who nevertheless is Lord (cf. John 15:14 - "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you").
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength " - Isaiah 30:15.
It is however illustrative of one basic fact, and this is stated most concisely and yet with an inner grandeur fitting for the subject, by Paul under the inspiration of God Himself:
One is born from Him as a child, for the system is His and what is given is that infinite marvel, a being of such a trilogy of synthetic wonder as mind, body and spirit in one unit, a person which develops over time, and a potential for a prodigy, the real prodigy on this earth, something also born, a child of God. One does not frankly know whether this earth currently contains thousands or millions of them; but Revelation 7 seems to suggest millions. Still, for argument's sake, if there were 10,000,000 Christians on earth, it would be an exceedingly vast array if surveyed. There are however so many sects and false assurances, empty words and threatening deeds, that the appearance is far from the reality (cf. Things Old and New Appendix, Highway to Hell, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 30, Beauty of Holiness 4 and Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet 1; News, Facts and Forecasts 13, 14, Joyful Jottings 5, 14, Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 9).
One remembers one seemingly evangelical church, though it was alas dispensational and hence limited in vision, which sought to co-operate at one stage in a vast project of confrontation and deliverance for many. Suddenly, without rational explanation, it left the subject of prayer, stopped the provision of co-operation and went to what latter became apparent, a project it did not want to share. This did not answer the original problem for the oppressed whom we had been seeking to help. It merely enabled that church to do something on its own, apart, for a small section of those in need, with no apparent provision for the rest, the secular rest, arrested and tainted systematically in the education of the State. It is precisely this sort of blindness which makes one wonder how many are in fact Christians. Fortunately, we do not have to assess this: that is to come. Judge not (Matthew 7:1) is as clear as the need on occasion to rebuke (II Timothy 4:2)! Evil is to be judged by the book, but those who err are to be judged by the judge, except of course where their matters are biblically defined and items to order! If one murders, that is clear.
Again, Christians may be in a given body, and as in the case of this one, may realise error and not correct it. This is one of the places where the Lordship of Christ can be disregarded. Sin alas is by nature a thing that blinds. Thus if one finds a church to be false in doctrine, it is NOT the case that one stays. Certainly, the doctrine must be wrong in one of two ways: either it is clearly contrary to scripture and indefensible as something GIVEN BY GOD, and is preached nonetheless, or it actually attacks what is given. In other words, it may subtract or it may add. Neither of these things is permissible. How is Christ LORD when this is done! Is the church, then, lord ? Even Christ declared, I do not speak of Myself, and again,
From this we learn two things at once. IF CHRIST did not teach HIS OWN doctrine, how much less may we! Again, if WE are willing to do the will of God, we shall KNOW the doctrine, whether or not it is from God. In so doing, we should know that what is given is all, and what is required is all, and what may be added is nought, for to speak of oneself is the height of impudence when the LORD is being claimed as the Lord of one's life, and HE limited His teaching not to proclivity as a man, but to presentation from the heart of heaven itself.
HOW may He be Lord who is contravened. You will not countervail who contravene, for HE IS LORD, and alive, and the one who is His follower recognises this, that HE is Lord both of the dead and of the living. There is no facet of fact, in the Gospel, of teaching, in the epistles, of history in the book, of prediction in the prophets, but it is His, and from Him to Him it flows through the conduit of action; and these His words are to be followed as His (II Timothy 3:16, John 14:21ff., 12:48ff.). His mouth is not detachable. Our heads are not attachable. HE is the head of the body. This by no means implies that we do not think, for the order is this, to LOVE GOD with ALL of our minds; but it does imply that in the process we shall not INVENT or DENT what is given. He, the Head, is NOT detachable.
These things being so we are better placed to find, in its site and in its setting, the guidance which MAY come in the manner of a vision. It is, let us be emphatic, NOT the case that the vision is TRUSTED in; for it is in GOD ONLY that one trusts. It IS the case that if one finds such an event in one's heart, as one indeed may, that it must be tested with the principles and practicalities, the precision and the presentation of the word of God as in the Bible. It is also the case that IF God gives such a leading, it is not to be discounted because it is such. It is ONE of His modes, and as with all modes, one must never act without faith, or as if to deride the faculties God has given; nor must one trust in one's faculties, but in the LORD both of the living and of the dead, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The term "divine guidance", by vision, for example, then is not a convenient phrase, or an ecclesiastical technique, a mantra or a philosophy. It is a matter of truth, proposition, word, work, action, precedence, governance and that entirely lovely thing, the RESPONSIBILITY of God, the faithfulness of the Saviour, to BOTHER with us, and to enable us in the climate of being CREATED, still to savour the climate of being LED.,
The spiritual, then, is neither irrational nor rationalistic, neither autonomous in our converted lives as Christians, nor slavish. It is a matter of interchange of the created, converted, recreated, adopted child of God, in terms of principles, with the Person who endues them with His own will, and according to the LORD WHO HIMSELF IS LIVING.
Hence in Paul's life we see three cases of direct divine guidance which illustrate this phase of the Lordship of Christ over the Christian life. It is not to be discounted for relevance, because he was an apostle, since it occurs also with Philip the evangelist, who appears to have been a deacon! (Acts 8:26). These were chosen to enable the apostles to give themselves to the word and to prayer. Nor is the word in Acts 2 concerning dreams and vision limited. One must NOT and NEVER limit the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:41), as we see Israel doing in the adventures noted in the Psalm; for this was to provoke Him!
Our first case, then, in studying this leading of the LORD is found in Acts 16:9.
As with Paul as an individual, so the NATION of Israel as we have often seen on this site, is to be strongly moved to return to Him, and in the current setting, this is not likely to be a far distant scene (cf. SMR pp. 507, 776ff., 810ff., Answers to Questions Ch. 5, It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls ... Ch. 7).
So confronted in the very seat and centre of the religious unbelief, assaulted and in danger of death, protected for a time by Rome, being a Roman, Paul then had need. Indeed, in view of all that was to follow, it was a great need: it included the peril of the binding of 40 men by oath to kill him, fasting beforehand to show their tenacity of purpose and increase their devotion to his death; as likewise the shipwreck with all the turmoils on the way to Rome, where of course, all the time, the Lord had mission for him as a missionary! It was certainly an unconventional way of getting there, to sail as a prisoner under escort, but in the considerable liberty accorded him, Paul was able to reach and teach many, touching the Jews in Rome, and those of Caesar's household not least.
Guidance is but ONE of the ways in which the Lord shows His marvellous lovingkindness (cf. Psalm 31:21), and it is the way here chosen as it fits neatly into the context that the living God is LORD in fact, and not merely in form, phrase or theological jargon. He acts, He lives and He is One, holy and harmless, high and magnificent, all knowing and wise, gracious and merciful, never exacting too much, never leaving too little. On Him however, it is necessary to WAIT as Psalm 43 so emphatically declares. You do not rush home, like an excited kid, and say, Now dad, where are we going ? Nor, for that matter, do you come like a drowsy blow fly, and buzz, Oh much of the same I suppose! He lives, you live, and you live in communion with Him according to His word!
Of this, He is Lord, for it is HIS; of you He is Lord for you, if a Christian, are HIS; of history He is Lord, since it is but the permitted movements of affairs, enacted with liberties amazing, but constrained in depths all but unimaginable in the mind and wisdom of God. In this field, it is an entrancing, testing and purifying delight to walk, as in and for, as with and to the Lord!
It is IN Him, for He is like a vine in which one is but a branch; it is FOR Him, for He is Saviour and deserves our last joule; it is TO Him, since He is coming back, and we move nearer to this fine day, continually when the world will suddenly be bereft of salt, the Christians, the children of God gone, and the tasteless meat of its dealings will lead to that ultimate clash, the prince of this world and the Prince of peace, which leads to the ruin of the former and the rule in majesty and grace, of the latter (Isaiah 66, 2, Micah 4, Revelation 19, II Thessalonians 1-2, Zechariah 14, Psalm 73, 2).
Then He who has always been Lord, eminent, in His people immanent, no more imminent but as Prince pre-eminent, will appear as He is. The end is like the beginning: the Lord and His. Now the book is written, which was commenced; but its binding was always the same, and the print did not depart from the foreknowledge.
It has been a long rebellion,
multi-faceted but always with one feature the same, "We
will not have this man to reign over us," whether in distaste at
sin, disfavour for salvation, autonomous will-o'-the wisps or other inventions
on the common theme. Then the redeemed find in heaven the hallowing of
His name as natural as the Lordship of the Christ (Revelation 21:8,27).