29. A REASON FOR THE FAITH
From the work in archeology and in prophecy, we see that every testable claim is fulfilled where it may be tested; none is not; many are made; and diverse in the extreme. (For a longer treatment, see my trilogy, THE SHADOW OF A MIGHTY ROCK, Chs. 8 - 9, esp. pp. 931ff., 755ff., 973A: much of this section is adapted from that trilogy.)
Now the Scripture tells us to give a reason for the faith to those who ask (I Peter 3:21), so let us spend just a little time in this area.
If, now, the Jews had retained Jerusalem and kept their sacrifices going there (as Hosea 3:1-5 declared they would NOT, as likewise Jeremiah 3:16), the claims would not have been verified. When GOD is claiming to speak, the pass rate for identification is 100%. To do that in prophecy over millenia requires more than flair, than perception: it requires omniscience, since any single error could lead to a mass of consequential changes making the end scarcely even recognisable, compared with the prophecy made. God in His own way, covers millenia, centuries, with ease, and is detailed, highly specific, conveying data in terms of emotion, occurrence, development, trend and even arithmetical notations, and chronological precision (cf. SMR Ch. 6, Highway of Holiness Ch. 4). This in turn resoundingly confirms, through His own unique and prodigious perspective, the name of the Author.
If the Jews had not for long periods been hideously persecuted, then again there would have been non‑verification; if they had not been helped back (Isaiah 49:22 ff.) to the occupation of their land by non‑Jewish money in particular (inter alia), the case would have been the same, negative. If non‑Jews ('Gentiles' - the term means 'nations') had not invented for themselves a world in which, with fear, confusion, hatred and endless new religions rejecting Christ and seeking often to substitute others for Him, sometimes indeed new 'Messiahs', while the very continuation of biological life on earth was threatened (Matthew 24): if this had not happened, then that too would have falsified it.
in precisely the same way, these FACTS do verify it. If the core of Europe had not indeed united to form a super‑entity, with social, political and economic power (soon scheduled to be further increased with more advanced monetary unity (resistance from Margaret Thatcher, in her day, when P.M. attesting its significance), that basic fact too would have falsified it (relative to the Daniel 7 prediction). But instead, it verifies it, But why go on ? The detailed investigation of data is available for inspection by any desiring to be confronted by, and to confront facts.
The challenge is there to every
theory and to every religion. ONLY self-revelation of truth admits of
rationality in presentation of the nature of the world and man (cf. SMR
Ch. 3, Barbs, Arrows and Balms
6 -7), and ONLY Christianity
provides this, equipped with the necessary tests that the mind of man, created
by God, can honestly consider the evidence. ONLY Christianity has the remedy
required for a world in frank confrontation with the God who made truth, abhors
lies as war, and injustice as malevolence to His creation (cf. Amos 4-6, Isaiah
1, II Thessalonians 2:4-10, Romans 1:17-25). Without this, man could not
continue to be (cf. Member Notes 16-18 above,
pp. 47ff., Repent or Perish Ch. 2).
has either the practising Person (Jesus Christ) who meets all criteria for being
God: the personal immovability, purity and consistency; the prophetic criteria
that match ONLY a God of all knowledge; the archeological
validation which astounds experts and readers alike; and
the facility to meet every logical challenge, both at the time and since, and to reply with a zest face‑to‑face, and with an amplitude born of its reality and concurrence with the truth.
The tests, logical and empirical, are enormous in scope and significance, and the results are consistent and continually confirmatory. The contrary cases are not found.
What then ? 'All the LAWS underlying all of the universe have no cause...'
If THIS is not a myth, I would not know one. It has all the objective_ criteria of myth, such as self‑contradiction, illusion, irrationality, desire and defective ramblings without rigour. Building on all that is now known, it despises what is known, ignoring every basic logical premiss.
The myth‑maker par excellence, perhaps surpassing all the former races and times in the scope of his unsophisticated verbal grandeurs, is this twentieth century self‑contradictory man who, with his increasing technology is so advanced that he here denies everything he has ever seen, flouts the way all things are observable to proceed; and, based on nothing, he proceeds to have for himself something from which everything has come, itself based on nothing. Here is inadequacy idolatrised.
Why, what world sitting on a turtle is worse than this! What it lacks in subtlety, it gains in assurance.
¨ Myths, yes, but nothing can compare with the myths of atheism, and the mimicries of agnosticism; whereas truth, this is as we have shown, the prerogative of God, and His power to communicate is seen not least in His power to make communication units so vastly programmed and yet so subtly free as we are.
¨ Myths ? Yes these there are, like the myth that this God has seen the ruthless folly of lies, deceit, injustice, murders, race genocide, myth‑making caricatures of His name, and even at times IN His name,, and has done nothing about it ... has not communicated so much as a "Whoa!".
¨ There now, THAT is a myth to make the child's spine creep.
¨ Myths ? Yes such myth's as this: That He did not make it clear what He wanted and what it was He said, or that He did not send what it took to get what He wanted.
¨ Myths ? Yes, such as this: That Jesus Christ was not deity and yet was incapable of being successfully criticised and effectively confronted by brilliant and trained men with maximal motives, securely entrenched and surrounded by force, EVEN WHEN He claimed to be God Almighty; or that the people of that time were oafs barely able to think, and so failed to handle it ... whereas Hammurabi and Ebla and the ancient writings showed man had the brilliance which can and does challenge the intellect of modern man.
¨ What a lordly myth‑making society modern man has made for himself. Or if you want myths, take this of His disciples: That they forsook all because they believed nothing, and that they lost their lives to defend a pretence in order to reach hell for deceit after suffering or tortured on earth; or that they practised folly with an outlaw where the necessary evidence required by their scriptures, for His authentification as the claimed Messiah was clearly lacking, and all this, despite their passion and the stakes for fraud, here and hereafter. Or again of His disciples, this: That His stalwart followers did not bother about the scriptural identikit by which the Messiah was to be known, the predictions and the requirements showing that He must perform miraculous healings ... and just to finish it off, the predictions demanding that He must physically rise from the dead. (See Section 26 above ‑ His flesh not to see corruption, not to rot: Psalms 16,22 etc.).
¨ How arrogant modern man has become in his myth‑making!
THAT, physical resurrection, is really hard to do ... As I believe Prime Minister Gladstone said, If you want to found a new religion, just get yourself crucified and rise (according to prediction) in 3 days. Try it some time, if you want to be experimental. Myths, yes these our current cultural gods in their framework, are myths: BUT CHRIST IS IRREVOCABLY RATIONALLY ATTESTED. He showed Himself the living laboratory, deity Himself who sacrificed His body but NOT His truth; in Himself He displayed one not merely unmoulded by the conditions of culture, but directing the very history of culture, according to scriptures He endorsed, or words which He provided: meeting all criteria of evidence, reason and morals and handling contemporary and coming history as though it were His obedient child.
In the scientific aspect, IF ANY CLAIM can be falsified, THAT IS IT, FINIS! The matter is closed at that level. On the other hand, a testable and consistent approach that meets ‑ if unique in this‑ EVERY single attempt to prove it wrong, each effort to find a non‑verification‑with consistent ' , positive FACTUAL EVIDENCE: this must claim RATIONAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.
A blunt refusal, such as we in fact find in this area from many unrealistic. academics, is totally unscientific, and suggests the idol of irrationality ( It is useful when talking. about things, NOT to be contradicting yourself at the outset. It is no less admirable to be based on what meets with NO non‑verification. True, it has a cost which is not merely academic, noted earlier in terms of the distortions and disenablements of sin; and expressible indeed in terms of the need to approach God as sovereign, Christ as Saviour, being willing to take up one's cross and to follow Him as Lord, instead of being one's own boss, and following one's sinful inclinations. To the eyes of sin, this can seem so great a cost that mere self ‑contradiction and irrationality, a sort of un‑creation of one's mind, can seem a price to be paid; and if possible, a matter to be clouded over with a vague mist of congenial confusion.)
On the contrary, THE RATIONAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT to which we have referred, of God and His truth, this enables the AVOIDANCE of logic‑in‑chaos, on the one hand, while it is STILL being used on the other (a sort of doubly undextrous juggling). That is, this acknowledgement allows escape from a stark failure of reason attesting relentlessly an aborted attempt at its use. This avoidance of unreason by accepting the truth, it is a peripheral part of the peace of truth; the central feature being its King and His procurement of pardon, so that life might be full, abundant and ordered in all its paths ... such for example, as this one!
We turn now to apply scientific method to aspects of the resurrection where it is applicable, adding to our earlier recognition of its commanding mandate on history, in terms of other phases of the evidence (see also Chapter 6, THE SHADOW OF A MIGHTY ROCK).
Actually, the resurrection fits into the necessities of logic concerning Christianity as a religion, with the accuracy of a naval launched 'plane, landing on the same deck as that from which it became airborne. This further point, however, let us see, after a look at the alignment, and then the abyss in the meantime.
Systematically, prophecy is seen in the mode of verification, relative to the scripture, which has independently and previously been shown to be the word of God.
Though it has this secondary status, it is by no means either uninteresting or unimportant. Indeed, so important are the issues, and so spectacular is the claim of the Bible, to be the word of God Almighty Himself, that it is for many fitting and useful to follow the methods of science as far as they can be applicable to religion: and in the case of Christianity, this is, as we have seen, very far indeed. Cohesive and complementary considerations continually confirm the preliminary proofs (Chapter 1 supra), and do so with a freedom, a grace and a force which tends to remind one of the New Testament atmosphere itself, of the frank and ardent candour with which the writers speak of what they neither could nor would suppress.
We have touched on scientific method, and it will now be good to give it some slight review before applying it to prophecy. The result is as spectacular as is God's claim to be the inspiring Person, Presence and Power behind the Bible; nor would one expect less when God in Isaiah 48 (cf. Chapters 43 and 41) not merely permitted, not only invited, but provocatively issued challenge to man to survey the scene, and consider if any idol could predict as He predicts, who tells the end from the beginning and things which were not - indeed, He tells them as if they are, in that vivid and narrative, almost journalistic style of so many of the prophets, who are describing what God causes them to see - hence the term 'seer'.
Thus provided in this case, that of Christianity, with what correctly claims to be an objective revelation from God Almighty, we could find that it is equipped with elements capable of test for verification. We do observe that this is so in abundance. The provocatively presented prophecies could, in principle, readily be shown to be false; or else verified.
Should they all be verified, which admit of verification - and some are such as to make the claim extremely vulnerable and hence exceedingly valuable - this, in the line of scientific method in general, becomes exceedingly impressive. Professor Karl Popper in his general coverage of this method does not fail to state this obvious, general and basic fact of scientific method.
If the fulfilled prophecies related moreover to different centuries, different races and to entirely different culture patterns; and if they did so with precision on the one hand, or with significant coverage and foresight of trends over many centuries on the other, this would attest a sovereign stature and a freedom from fear of failure, appropriate to such a Power and Person. Indeed, it would resemble what we know of the Author: there would be a coherence and a composition because of the presiding intellect and conforming spirit, that would be made manifest throughout it all - like Chopin in the field of music, with dancing or lingering notes, in brilliance and in pathos... but still Chopin. Here however we deal with the world of events, to be played by the Almighty with His magnificent touch, neither domineering nor languid, but directive without the removal of the mind and will of man, while securing what He said with a precision that is profound in meaning and particular in accomplishment.
These events, it is to be realised, are played in this profound way, after the score has already been published, so that the predicted pianoforte performance of history is realised just as prescribed. Indeed, now pianissimo, now forte, it proceeds after the score: not kismet but kindness is operative in the God who has planned everything with full allowance for all the ingredients, from the status of freedom (not autonomy, two cannot have that in the same regard in the same system) to the status of servitude to sin for those who prefer it, to the cadenzas of conversion and the codas of salvation, tearing into the heart of the 'audience' with triumphant tenderness or terrible awakening. Thus the word of the Almighty proceeds, the score is written, the score is played and history is its music: so is prophecy fulfilled, and so are men directed to the Creator, through the movement of His salvation, the Divine Mastery Movement, of the Messiah.
In fact, it does all this, the Bible, the Spirit of God working. In parallel, the very cells of our bodies, though, like the books of the Bible, in some ways exceedingly diverse, these also show elements of continuity of thought (see Ch. 2 supra), plan, purpose and code: indeed one code is seen for all life. It is, biologically, as if all the world spoke English, or French, or Russian. After all, the cells did not rebel, as man did. It is God who has spoken their language.
As with the cells, so with the components of the Bible, the effect is cumulative: the intellectual acuity of the divine Biblical predictions, in kind and in detail, in endurance and in scope, in their language and in their operation, would have to be related to a sufficient cause.
With Jesus Christ, a Person pursued in the course of our earlier studies (Ch.'s 6, 8-9), it was seen that according to the evidence of the New Testament and the requirements of the predicted Messiah in the Old Testament, the correct claimant had to appear as God on earth, perform plenteous and even characteristic miracles, be pierced and murdered by His own people, be physically resurrected ('not rot') from the dead: and following His desolation and piercing, He was to give praise and be acknowledged in the great congregation as such (not something secret, Psalm 22:22, 25, cf. Psalm 16). His flesh would rest in hope 'because' God would deliver from rotting (Psalm 16:9-10, Acts 2:26-27).
He was to be a RANSOM for sins of those who received Him as a sacrifice for sin, to be judged as a WRONGDOER being punished by God, and REJECTED BY the Jews nationally. He was then to have this GOSPEL of Himself as Saviour and Lord published among the non-Jews, who world-wide and in great numbers would accept Him as such.
The record of Jesus Christ fulfils ALL these particulars. The Scriptures concerning Him, from Paul and others, were in large bulk received as sacred within living memory of His death, and the 'great congregation' right in Jerusalem arose with great vigour and powerful attestation. From the beginning, there was a testimony found in the New Testament scriptures, without any divergence of teaching, on the status of the person, on the fact of His resurrection, miracles and fulfilment of prophecy. in fact, the emphasis is profound and the whole matter proceeded from, as factual history by these writers in concert, as they deal with the issues arising or relate the matters frankly, with a lack of restriction or contrivance that marks the writings as extraordinarily free as well as lucid.
It could have been otherwise. The mighty power of Rome could have kept the body (if it had not become inaccessible by a power mightier than that of Rome); for it was forewarned in a most clear-cut way, and the issue was dynamite! It did place a guard and regarded with care the possibilities of trouble. The disciples, and those who claimed to witness the resurrection, could have noted that no such thing occurred, or could have failed to agree. The positive occurrences, so precise and interwoven, in scientific method constitute therefore a vigorous verification. In this area, fantastic and contorted theories about what the evidence does not tell us, are not to the point. It is rather what did happen which serves as a base for approaching the claim. In the case, Rome versus Jesus Christ, Rome versus Christ's prediction: Rome lost.
In this field, it is necessary to note the need to be aware of the background of a claim, and to avoid placing into a tested situation, one's own theories, built in other ways, and proceeding from there rather than from verified evidence. In this case, the Messiah is attested by overwhelming evidence, as indeed the scripture predicted of Him, so that He had to meet criteria: a strenuously careful prophet to fulfil every scripture.
His case, His pace, His fame, His power to move rested on His distinction as Messiah, and that rested on the predicted identikit of actions and stature required for Him. A failure to meet any test by learned scribes, challenge by any circumstances, intended or other, to meet any commandment, to perform the miracles predicted, or to rise from the dead meant one thing, scientifically. It meant the end of the road for any sustainable Messiah claim. This was the question: Is He or is He not the Messiah? In that context, we and they indeed, looked. It is precisely this approach which is apparent in the discussions on the road to Emmaus, noted in Luke 24:21, 'We hoped...' Messiah-anity, Christianity, would have ended with an obstinate corpse, and required the body resurrected.
All the ways in which things could have gone wrong are potential negatives, in tests for verification. Not one requirement, however, is not met. This is the basic fact to consider at this level. Both then and now, each of the hundreds of prophecies of Him, as Messiah, and the requirements had to be met; for with God-as-man, there is zero room for error. The test is absolutely simple, and simply absolute.
Similarly, if the Jews had not then lost their territories for a long age, if they had not rejected Him as a people, if Gentiles had not received Him worldwide on the basis of the predicted Gospel, which in turn rests on a basis of requirements never once invalidated; if the Jews had not returned to their land - and this, still not believing in Him, as a race; and if they had not then fought extraordinary wars against vastly superior multinational forces, making Jerusalem a world-wide problem... this too would have falsified the scripture concerned.
We have presented very much in the work on prophecy, and in considerable detail in Chapters 6-9; but even what is here summarised, is clear. We have peered, and pondered, and detailed vast scenarios; it is all there. It is all in order, fulfilled, being fulfilled or in the line of fulfilment. Nothing clashes, contradicts; every single thing proceeds with that same systematic motion that is found in the biological cell work, coded into our construction. Yet while our bodies can be marred, this is not to be postulated of the word of God. If God has spoken, sin is not to the point; so that perfect score is the only apt or appropriate score, for prophetic fulfilment and hence verification.
The point is very simple. Every testable claim is fulfilled where it may be tested; none is not - many are made, and they are diverse in the extreme...
Again, if the Jews had retained even Jerusalem and kept their sacrifices going there, the claims would not be verified; or if they had not for long periods been hideously persecuted, again, non-verification; if they had not been helped back to their land by non-Jewish money in particular (inter alia) the same. In any one of these cases, it simply would not do: the prophetic pass-mark for God, is perfection.
If non-Jews (Gentiles) had not invented for themselves a world in which, with fear, confusion, hatred and endless new religions rejecting Christ while seeking often to substitute others for Him, sometimes indeed new 'Messiahs', while the very continuation of biological life on earth was threatened: if this had not happened, that too would have falsified the Biblical claim. In precisely the same way, these facts verify it.
If the core of Europe had not united to form a super-entity with social, political and economic power (for years scheduled to be further increased with more advanced monetary unity, with resistance from former P.M. Thatcher attesting its significance): that basic fact too would have falsified it.
Instead, it verifies it. But why go on ? The detailed investigation of data is available for inspection by any desiring to be confronted by, and to confront facts (see Ch.'s 1, 6, 8 and 9 supra). The tests are enormous in scope and significance, and the results are consistent and continually confirmatory. The contrary cases are not found. Science properly so-called, the science of scientific method smiles benignly.
On the other side, if this basis is not accepted - that is, an absolute basis in the revelation of the Creator (and the errors of evolutionary theory have been noted*1 in the simple area of non-fulfilment where there is an expected fulfilment, in empirical non-verification, instead of the faithful fulfilment we find here for the Bible): what then ? Then there are moreover logical problems.
Here philosophy always appears a keen battle area. It does not rest, but is always restless in and with itself, like a student who will not regard the authoritative answer. Thus relativism, as noted, contradicts itself. To be able to declare anything to be essentially so concerning the real nature of the universe per se (enabling one to argue and reject or affirm on the stage of knowledge), one must be able to void subjectivity.
Where are those who may do this ? Not for such a person, not for a valid declarer, are the cultural conditioning, the intellectual blindness, the non-existent areas of perception (of what might be crucially important), the failure to know beyond oneself, where and in what categories of all possible knowledge, one's own exists! On chance theory, the limited, irrationally bred piece of meaningless apparatus, called man, is not competent to reach beyond his inter-relationships and self to the actualities, to what in reality is there. Indeed, what would it be, for where is the viewpoint from which to view it ? Indeed if nothing is absolute: then of nothing is anyone absolutely sure, past the category of mere experience... subjectivised experience.
Then there is by definition, no objective viewpoint, orientation, perspective. It is not there and you could not grasp it, if it were, subject to and subjecting all else to your own subjectivity, that passes understanding. These are the implications. (See Ch. 3 supra.)
To make objective declaration contradicts the subjective self-imposed status of man, required by this theory. If such claim is made nevertheless, then this contradicts that theory. If it is not, then no world-view can be presented. But self-contradiction is an end to logic. If you contradict yourself, there is no need for anyone else to do so. Either way, it is an impasse.
If we however are interested in reason - wish perhaps to reason for and against - then this is accordingly a wrong way, go back situation. Data, on that basis, are merely meaningless meanders of whatever it is that relates to the experience of whatever it is; and on that basis, no knowledge of what in fact is, is possible through this limited and limiting subjectivity. To assert then, on that basis, that this or that is the nature of things: this is pure contradiction. There is, on that basis, no objective standpoint freed from circumscribing limits, gifted with absolute knowledge. Indeed, to act as if there were, is one further verification of the absolute fact of the absolute Creator, that men do not even logically operate, except with such an (implicit) and (often denied) reality. That sort of conduct, on the part of man as a rebellious rational being, is also in precise accord both with expectations and scripture.
What then ? This impasse is met by the self-revelation of the absolute God. Not merely is this logically required, as shown; it is logically used whether admitted or not. We made reference to the need to check every plausible claimant, scientific per se or other, for its power to meet every due challenge without self-contradiction.
Now of course, reason does not prima facie have to be followed (see further, Chapter 1, Section 1, Part B supra, however); but without it, no challenge in its name can be made. The challenge is there to every theory, scientific, pseudo-scientific or other, and to every religion.
In the scientific aspect, if any claim can be falsified, that is it, finis! The matter is closed at that level. On the other hand, a testable and consistent approach that meets - if unique in this - every single attempt to prove it wrong, each effort to find a non-verification with consistent, positive factual evidence: this must claim rational acknowledgement. A blunt refusal to give this, such as we in fact find in this area from many unrealistic academics, is totally unscientific, and suggests the idol of irrationality. To do so while talking as if plausibly of reason, this indicates the congregation of confusion, signifying the 'sacred mystery' ... service of self-contradiction.
It is useful when talking about things, not to be contradicting yourself at the outset. It is no less admirable to be based on what meets with no non-verification. To be sure, it has a cost which is not merely academic, noted earlier in terms of the distortions and disenablements of sin; and expressible indeed in terms of the need to approach God as sovereign, and Christ as Saviour, being willing to take up one's cross and follow Him as Lord, instead of being one's own authority, and following one's sinful inclinations. To the eyes of sin, this can seem so great a cost that mere self-contradiction and irrationality, a sort of un-creation of one's mind, is a price to be paid (and if possible, clouded over with a vague mist of congenial confusion.)
On the contrary, the rational acknowledgement to which we have referred, of God and His truth, this enables the avoidance of logic-in-chaos, on the one hand, while it is still being used, on the other (a sort of doubly undextrous juggling): a stark failure of reason attesting an aborted attempt at its use. Thus we AVOID MEANING AND TRUTH as protégés of a system which has no truth, no meaning, contradicts itself, uses what it contradicts and affirms what it denies. This avoidance is a peripheral part of the peace of truth; the central feature being its King and His procurement of pardon, so that life might be full, abundant and ordered in all of its paths... such as this one!
We now turn to the objective evidence, in the style for which scientific method shines: concerning the resurrection. While we have treated this in depth much earlier, it is instructive to tarry for a moment, where science can normally act, surveying the evidential scene and giving due note to results which abstractly, could have gone either way (a necessary point for scientific verification). Such an approach may have special value for some, who are more accustomed to such procedures, in isolation.
Actually, the resurrection is found to fit into the necessities of logic concerning Christianity as a religion, with the accuracy of a ship-launched aircraft, landing on the same deck as that from which it became airborne... or, for that matter, of a migratory bird, returning from thousands of miles away in Winter, to the same garden. The One who made the navigational equipment of the bird (now being investigated with wonder), and the mind which makes the navigational equipment of the aircraft, has no difficulty in navigating the ship of history to the points prescribed.
This special point, however, at this level, let us see.
AXE OF TRUTH
LEAVES NO ROOM
FOR THE LIE
A. It was Rome versus Christ's claims. To be objective, Rome had to keep the body. That would have been sufficient anti-verification of the Christ.
B. The disproportion of Rome's power to that of the disciples is extremely tasteful and apt for an experiment. It makes Houdini seem amateur. It is good, indeed excellent verification test material.
C. The motivation of Rome is intense: it has indicated that it wants this man 'out'. Death is the answer to alleged kingdom ambitions; and the case is a remarkable one because of miracles widely held for numerous public situations, the agreement of this with the predicted performance requirements for the Messiah, together with the difficulty of performing miracles involving the sick and the dead, in a non-failure and overwhelmingly public fashion.
D. Rome is not interested in killing, but in death. It is not a matter of 'Get him!', but 'Keep him dead!' Neither sadism, torture-compulsion nor power-display is to the point. It is just that He must go and stay gone. He must die and stay dead; for the issue is not punishment but threat ... His imagined threat to them. (Actually, there was a far greater challenge to their physical pre-occupations than force could prevent; but this they did not know.)
E. So soldiers, a boulder and an alerted officialdom are in it to see He stays dead and stays clearly dead... is seen to be dead; thus the round of the guard in the first place. No rising; no pretended rising; no trouble, no bad publicity: the Jews are notorious for their national aspirations and this Messiah is close to the heart of the whole stability of the land. He must die, stay dead, be seen to stay dead: no ruse or reality about His being a god of some or any kind, since there is talk of being a king. Any resurrection (cf. Matthew 27:63 ff.), restoration or return is, in the vernacular, 'on the nose'.
The point being taken, the data from the priests (Matthew loc.cit.), a guard is given. In Rome of the day, efficiency under orders was ... expected.
F. Any failure in any of this is a total failure for Rome, sensitive to its name, and proud of its glory.
G. A simple act of power will cover a complex series of problems. Rome is strong on power, is an occupying power, is the world-wide imperial power. It is famous for administration. Thus the 'lab.' is set up.
H. Verification: the body is not kept by Rome.
I. The disciples attest the resurrection in the eminently bodily terms of eating and touching and walking and talking, and in large numbers. No counter-measures for love, money, power or reward are found by Rome... or by the priests, or by the Jewish people, which rejected this Messiah. The whole interlocking mesh of people and occupying power, in joint action, can do nothing: this is a massive verification at the objective level.
J. A massive grouping of Christians begins to arise - a minority but a growing one. These complete further the verification of Psalm 22 (vv. 22, 25, 30-31), not only by constituting a "great congregation" for the witness and consent to the resurrection, as was predictively required, but by being a 'seed' to 'serve Him' (Psalm 22:30). This then would be the "people that shall be born", to whom David referred, who would come to perceive the things denoted in Psalm 22. It is as orderly as any laboratory experiment, as sequential, as exact. It does what is prescribed like a first-year University Chemistry experiment, duly executed.
K. Now the text, texture and character of this Christian community needs consideration. Let us start with the first.
The challenge of God to man is met by the acute apparent vulnerability which God suffered for the format chosen to deal with our sins, in that His Christ was open to assault and murder. The power of God openly prevailed in ensuring that:
i) The death was by penalty as an ostensible criminal, as Isaiah 53:12 predicted.
ii) It involved piercing and protracted waiting in agony, as David (Psalm 22) predicted.
iii) It followed miracles as Isaiah predicted (Isaiah 35) and
iv) The person concerned came at the exact time in history that Daniel 9 predicted (DANIEL FILE, Part A supra), while ... v) It followed remarkable teaching and wisdom as Isaiah 11 predicted.
vi) The Christ came from the tribe Judah as Jacob predicted (Genesis 49) and
vii) He was born in Bethlehem as Micah 5:1-3 predicted.
viii) He was sold for 30 pieces of silver as Zechariah predicted and
ix) He was in 3 days physically raised from the dead as Leviticus indicated and Hosea and David in Psalms 16 and 22 predicted (and also Christ Himself, repeatedly forecast): publicly evidenced, performing amid praise (Psalm 22:22,25), not as a moribund corpse, able to defile for days any touching it (Leviticus 22:4-7, Numbers 5:2,19:11-22); and so on... All these identikit matters had to be fulfilled, to allow any reputable following, short of madness.
No objectively verifiable test is negative; all that can show a direct and positive result, does so.
What then of the texture and character of the Christian community ? We have already seen the candour and force of the apostles' appeal to facts, facts, facts... and in view of the New Testament being written in large degree, within easy living memory of Jesus Christ, and the Christians being under enormous pressure from envious and fearful priests and angered and autocratic 'Emperor worshipping' Romans, who desired no competition in the area of God, there would need to be no opportunity to deny them! The wicket-keeper is sharp. A ball does not need to be clipped.
Even if it were not for this fact-stressing 'loading', there is still the point that people looking for the long-prophesied Messiah, that Prophet predicted by Moses (Deuteronomy 18), are in need of natural and normal verification on all testable points, and these are numerous and prodigious, for they involve the power and knowledge of God.
They assuredly will not get it if the Messiah, having duly and properly announced that He will indeed rise, objectively, factually in three days, then fails objectively, factually and actually to do so. The sanity and sobriety, the self-discipline and enthusiasm, the level-headedness and quiet readiness to sacrifice, the enormous love for and declaration of realities which cannot be denied, as the very feeling of the spirit of their utterance, is not a natural companion for obvious and open fraud. (See p. 466 supra.)
People who have seen the miracles (or, if you will, purely as a point for argument, lack of them) are not going to be impressed by obvious man-handling of the facts; and the facts are stupendous, epochal and unique. In living memory, you will not move into top-gear among a prepared people who know of and are constantly taught in the religion of the very practical, Creator-Redeemer God of Moses who brought them out of Egypt, when your much emphasised facts are not there.
Nor are you likely to consider the desirability of being killed and possibly crucified and unpopular, and living in highly sober style the while... for the sake of trying to persuade people who have no reason to believe you, that history really did not happen as it is well-known it did.
This brings us then to the explicit area of motivation.
L. Motivation in Christians is not a measurable matter here, but it is capable of rational review and evidential enquiry. It does merely confirm what the more observable matters already exhibit. What is the cost to the apostles, if seeking to mislead ?
First, loss of life is likely, loss of property possible; loss of power to earn for the family (by death, performed on the Master, not unlikely for His servants)... unless of course they believed Christ and knew Him to be both true and deity, as they consistently in all circumstances, rejoicing, affirmed... Next, very likely is the loss of prestige, in places of political and ethnic power certain; then alienation of friends, likely.
Further, if any lied (not that a lie would or could have won the day, objective matters being required for which only the power of God would suffice): then
a) such a lying person would undertake to pay the above cost as a penalty for 'joining' Christianity;
b) the person, if wanting something better than hell, would fail to achieve it, and indeed be knowingly sending for tickets to everlasting exclusion from God by wilfully backing the wrong 'horse' - on the basis of believing in the God of the OId Testament; and
c) the party, if a disbeliever in this, pretending merely to believe, would be backing a movement (in that case) proved to have failed, one depending wholly on the God who, for such party simply would not be there: not much of a base for the lying person! It would resemble trusting in or requiring atomic weapons, and knowing you had none.
Infiltration moreover (for that is what this would then be) would constitute a weak movement in something exultantly moving on faith. To divert Christianity or pervert it, if an aim, would founder rather obviously, both on the rigorous, factual, Scriptural emphasis, and on the utter rapturous assurance of the people gladly paying with their lives against immense persecution, with words which are on display as the most extraordinary in assurance of life-for-ever. Objectively, the resurrection met every verificatory test; subjectively, its stature is again confirmatory of the objective evidence.
Reflectively, it is further attested by the unsolicited force of the affair, in the freedom, ease and readiness, the rapture, rejoicing and constraint, the sobriety, love, rationality and concern, especially before their persecutors, of those afflicted and treated as refuse. This sort of incremental force is further verificatory in this: that it is constantly being found in the arenas of evidence that we investigate, and not in this one alone!
There follows a relevant Verificatory Supplement, for readers abreast with this, and in pursuit of speed. It provides a quick coverage of some important points in the document tested or challenged, that is, the Bible, relative to openings for positive verification. (Read with Ch.'s 6, 8-9; Appendix C; esp. pp. 755-774, 805 and 889-896 supra.)
First we shall focus on the Messiah and the Gospel. Christ could have
i) failed to be born in Bethlehem.
ii) failed to be of the tribe of Judah.
iii) failed to give convincing testimony of miracles (in fact He gave it, even as seen or seized on by the envious, helping create the 'problem' needing 'solution' - cf. John 12:47-50).
iv) failed to master every verbal challenge.
v) failed to show the requisite knowledge relating to His mission as God on earth: something making our knowledge competitions look like kindergarten exercises.
vi) failed in any of the above once, however many positive verifications occurred.
vii) failed to collect prepared executives to fulfil the worldwide prediction of gospel sending, and impact; or collecting them, failed to have them implement their task! an enormous danger on His departure.
viii) failed to provide the basis for this gospel in word, power and personality.
ix) failed in any one moral response to the great array of commandments of the Old Testament (being then 'under the law') - even once.
x) failed to secure agreement among His surviving apostles-to-be.
xi) failed to be killed in such a way that He was left long to public and humiliating exposure (Psalm 22:13-18), or
xii) failed to be pierced (Psalm 22:16, Zechariah 12:10), or
xiii) failed to keep His bones intact and unbroken (John 19:32, Psalm 22:17).
xiv) failed to pray for those who were killing Him.
xv) failed to break Rome's powerful grip on His body - a potentially damning possibility, this one being able to undo all the rest.
xvi) failed to have witnesses to His resurrection of the body.
xvii) failed to convince all the living apostles of this, leaving a divided and ineffective, sensational and discordant camp (contrast Acts 4:23 ff.).
xviii) failed to have one of His intimate associates betray Him (cf.John 13:21, Psalm 41:9-12, with 69:20-25).
xix) failed to have this one come to an end in desolation.
xx) failed to have people deem His death a judgment of God (Isaiah 53:3-5).
xxi) failed to be rejected by His own Jewish people, despite the amazing record He also had to accomplish, being so successful a Messiah in all the requirements that could be tested - rejected by them as a people (Isaiah 49:7).
xxii) failed to have His gospel accepted by a vast number of very varied non-Jews (Isaiah 65:10-13, 49:6, 24:16 ff.).
xxiii) failed to provide in particular an offer to Gentiles that they might be covered in the righteousness of God, their own righteousness being as filthy rags'. (Isaiah 61:10, 64:6, 65:10-13.)
xxiv) failed with all this to be also lowly in demeanour (Zechariah 9:9) and yet robust in meeting challenge (Isaiah 11:1-5, 9:6).
xxv) failed to be sold by a traitor who accepted 30 pieces of silver as the 'price' (Zechariah 11:10-13) - a traitor close to his personal life (Psalm 41:9-12).
We could go on, but the point is that an abundance of factual verificatory elements exists, any one of which constitutes 'fair game' if it is overthrown. None is. Pass mark is 100% as in all such matters; and as with scientific theory, in the way noted. Indeed, Christ could have
xxvi) failed to implement any one of the multitude of prophecies which related to His sacrificial visit to earth and service to man, thereby undoing all the positive verifications (Joel 2:11, Mathew 5:17-19, Isaiah 45:25-28).
In addition, the Biblical claims for the history of the Jews could have been a failure. There could have failed to be
xxvii) a world-wide dispersion of the Jewish people and they could have
xxviii) failed to be persecuted and shockingly treated by many people (Leviticus 26:30-38, Deuteronomy 32:30-38), till it became a characteristic of their world-wide dispersion that they were so treated; and this dispersion could have
xxix) failed to be of long duration and
xxx) failed to have been followed eventually, by a decisive return to their land after all that, heavily assaulted but still a determinate body of people (Hitler helped carry this out, but could go only so far, as the tenor of the prediction allowed. German reparations helped their return - Isaiah 60:11, 49:2-3). Further there could, during the interim, have
xxxi) failed to be no opportunity for the Jews at least to sacrifice, according to the Old Testament command, in Jerusalem (cf. pp. 822-829 supra on Temple).
Further, as to the Gentiles and Jewish people in one world: Gentiles could have
xxxii) failed to give material aid from several nations (Isaiah 49:22-23) for the Jews' return to their land and their general fostering, and Jerusalem could have
xxxiii) failed to become an international 'sore' and problem; while the new Jewish nation could have died in myriad ways (cf. p. 805 supra): or
xxxiv) failed to repel Gentile attacks on their city in dramatic and electric-seeming fashion (Zechariah 12), and indeed
xxxv) failed to act in an utterly astonishing military way against a huge preponderance of attackers; and they could have
xxxvi) failed to take halfof Jerusalem in the midst of it all (Zechariah 14:1-2, with 12:11), and there might have been
xxxvii) failure to have pillage and raping in that war relative to Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-2). The Gentiles throughout the world could also have
xxxviii) failed to find the prophecy-fulfilling Christ, or gospel or its church-bearer (q.v.); or failed to receive the gospel with enthusiasm and a sense of the profound majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 24:16 ff., 49:6, 66:20, 42:1, 12, 51:5 with 52-53), and
xxxix) failed to have false Christs and false prophets (Jeremiah 23:16-21, Matthew 24:5,11). The Gentiles moreover could have
xl) failed to bring on a state of massive and varied international wars and
xli) failed to bring in a period of acute fear and apprehension allied with hatred in a developing syndrome (Matthew 24): instead developing into a peaceable, loving and harmonious aggregate of super-people, with super-ways that made superior pathways in a glorious world, as so many (now shown to be) false prophets - like poor Himmler and other Darwinian devotees in the last hundred years - suggested.
There could have
xlii) failed to be a large falling away in such a period of substantial segments of the Christian church relative to the Bible, into a condition which in effect excludes parts of their basic heritage and beliefs (whereas this development is a fascinating and complete, not to say dramatic study, considered earlier cf. II Thessalonians 2); and there could have
xliii) failed to be evidence of people IN THESE LATE TIMES, USING THEIR ALLEGED CHRISTIAN FAITH AS A MEANS OF MAKING MONEY, AND MEANWHILE MAKING MERCHANDISE OF MISLED PEOPLE WHO FOOLISHLY TRUST THEM (II Peter 2). Even if such a phenomenon had happened, then it might have
xliv) failed to be eminently notable, or notorious as required; and eminently notable it has become, especially in the last few years!
With this, there could have
xlv) failed to be a popular attitude refusing to believe that there is coming a time of judgment from God upon the world, amidst a type of uniformitarian philosophy (II Peter 3:1-7), and it could have
xlvi) failed to be arrogantly aggressive, while gratuitously dismissing the earlier flood judgment. Further, there might have
xlvii) failed to arise a cult and a culture engaging in grossly obtrusive self- or pleasure-seeking, that can even dare to mix with religion, in a vain attempt to legitimise itself. This is exactly as attested by much of the hippie-culture, with its form of religion in many phases (II Timothy 3:1-5), its love ... and peace ... and flower ... and unity-culture; and as further exemplified by the self-fulfilment motif, popularly distancing sin in a form of religion. What it does with such concepts contrasts with the Biblical teaching in precisely the predicted manner.
Further the Jewish people could have
xlviii) failed to engage in a vast reafforestation program in their newly revisited land (Isaiah 55:13), some 185,000,000 trees planted in little Israel since 1948 (W.Z.P.S.) and
xlix) failed to make a name for themselves in the abundance of flowers in their former 'desert' land (Isaiah 35). There could, from the Gentile aspect, have
l) failed to be any evidence - for the coming judgment in terms of the 'elements melting in the fervent heat', and in terms of life on earth being subject to serious, or even acute challenge or the heavens and earth ceasing... There could have been failure, or indeed, there could have been a chasm of contradiction.
But in all this and in all matters there has not been one failure.
Each test as it has become relevant has become successful. The pass mark... has been met. Further, it was the Bible which first issued the challenge... in God's name. The Lord has succeeded in doing everything precisely as He said. It could have been far otherwise; but it has proceeded as if history were a test-tube, as if a law were observed in operation. In this case, it is the 'law' of the mouth of the Lord, who has spoken first, and then done.
For good measure: there could have
li) failed to be signs in the heavens (Luke 21:25-27), in particular in the moon (historic, epic U.S. landing in 1969, Luke 21:25) and these could have
lii) failed to have occurred in the predicted setting. That gives one for each week of the year.
History verifies. The fact that numerous elements, early or late, are to be correlative in sequence, or simultaneous, gives a second dimension of verification. The point that any ONE failure is fatal, provides a third. See further at *2 below.
At any point, any item, aspect, sequence or situation, predicted date or fate, could have been falsified - shown false as obvious, or disinterred by bright lawyers and exposed. The motivation was intense enough against Christ's biblical insistence both on what was written and on His own personal fulfilment, insisting on every little detail (cf. Matthews 5:17-19, 26:55-56), to lead to great labours - as indeed it did! It was intense enough to require His removal by hurried murder, as if the people, who valued now His works, now His words, the like of which they had not seen, were too proper a judge, and only darkness and haste could remove the producer of this continual self-attestation from sight and hence from further popular accreditation! (cf. John 11:47ff., Matthew 27:22-23).
In all this, there was that incredible blindness (cf. Isaiah 42:7,19, 49:7), which hatred, greed, fear and ambition can so readily breed, so that in retrospect it is often almost difficult to imagine it, whereas on site in the contemporary situation, it may be almost as difficult to imagine it otherwise! Such is the kingly attribute of culture to those who bow to it, whether as to their own image or to their desire invested in their power. Such is its result when so idolatrised.
Why so blind ? How COULD they be so blind ? In what way is this found to be so ?
Why, in this murder to delete the difficulty of Him who called Himself the Way, the Life and the Truth, they merely completed the fulfilments of prophecy in His own Person which He had been amassing already, so that their murder came at the very date predicted, in the way predicted, with the emotions predicted, with the method predicted and the circumstances surrounding it as predicted (cf. Christ the Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 8, Repent or Perish Ch. 2, Highway of Holiness Ch. 4, Joyful Jottings 22-25, SMR Ch. 9). Could they not - those inveterate and vehement alike in their abhorrence of this Person, would they not see that they were being pushed into a pocket, surrounded by their own guile into conformity with the appalling prediction which showed in advance by a millenium, just what they would do! But no, for they were blinded!
Could they not have shown Him a fraud, for the power of God is far from the power of man, and when someone claims to be the Messiah in the intensely scriptural way that Christ did, it should be child's play for educated men to expose the peasant! A peasant playing God for such as Judah was, where God lacked NOTHING! in wisdom and power. The work of a moment to expose it. The work of two millenia has not done so.
The examination was severe for Christ as Messiah, as Son of God. There was no test, no healing, no word, no work, no requirement of the Messiah, as God on earth (Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 45, Zechariah 12:10, Isaiah 40:10) that He could fail, not any ASPECT, on not any OCCASION, irrespective of provocation, circumstances, weariness or any other matter. Emphatically, infinite wisdom is not difficult to expose in its absence! Five minutes should suffice with ease for so simplistic a work; but no case is found, no victory is exhibited for Christ's detractors, no failure is noted even under this extreme wind-tunnel test of the contemporary motivational magnates who decided to kill Him instead!
No, neither in time, nor place nor in formal proposition, either from His own lips or in His reference to the whole gamut of scripture relative to Himself, neither in the PERSONAL nor in the PROPOSITIONAL, HIS statement or that of scripture, nor in the correlation between the two, could any success ever be achieved under any circumstances. He always prevailed against one antagonist, against an army of such a kind, on one day as on the next, in one year of His mission as in the following one. He even prevailed in the precise features of His death to the point of fulfilling Isaiah 53:12 in the process (Luke 23:34).
That was the point: circumstances were not something He was UNDER but obviously, dishearteningly (John 11 - ALL the world will believe if we do not ... intervene! said the Priest of the day), they were something He was OVER! The more the test, the worse the result for the haters. He COULD not fail! Desperation came as not less but more power was shown, continually, like a triumphant athlete, a hundred yards ahead with ten yards to go to the line! It was threatening ... Lazarus was raised after FOUR DAYS!
Nor did it stop there, but history for two millenia has revealed the negative thrust in its dancing and prancing; but like a horse not moving, merely exhibiting, no one since that time has succeeding in doing anything by archeology or logic or evidence, to discredit these infinite claims made in a book where ALL claims are ALWAYS fulfilled; and where one claim is that of the death of the Messiah at the time of Christ, after the life of Christ as He lived it.
Few items or people have been subjected to such attack by so many for so long, nay none have been! Great was the skill of vehement contenders (cf. Matthew 22, Luke 11:52-54), whose whole professional venom dribbled in anticipation and expectation, in hope; but was reinforced in depth by endless frustration, as He acted not only with dynamic, but dignity and modesty.
In His own day, there were some desperate for many reasons, not least the pragmatic of 'survival', both professionally and nationally, to sink His spiritual ship. Great was their learning, motivation, skill and persistence. Easily could ANY of the hundreds of points have been broken concerning His deity claim (cf. SMR Ch. 7, pp. 533-560), His messiah claim, which scripture required and events exposed. His deity claim could have been hurled out as ludicrous, but instead what became ludicrous was any and every endeavour to overthrow it. Their plot merely affirmed both the Bible and the Christ! They were outwitted as it was predicted they would be, with notice given for a millenia, the better for them to plan! (cf. Psalm 2, 16, 40).
A millenium of notice of how God would act and they failed, then, despite all their political, financial, social, ecclesiastical power, and the association of the Sanhedrin with Rome, all there to activate and operate!
Instead, the Gospel -
predicted from the birth-place to the death date predicted of the Messiah, from its method and its meaning, to the resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit, in its impact in many nations, drawn from Him in all points investigable at the time, and in none exposed but in all composed:
rolled on like an inevitable, inexorable, irrefragable, indispensable part of reality itself.
You kill the Christ and then the Gospel continues AS PREDICTED (cf. Acts 1:1ff.). You try to kill that and it also is resurrected for millenia, despite Rome, Islam, New Age and whatever other fury affronts and confronts it (cf. SMR Ch. 6).
Alas for their pride, they even secured in this way the Gospel predicted and the national rejection predicted, for the time predicted after the events predicted with the betrayal predicted, and it was so from the birth predicted in the place predicted to the death; and in NOTHING THEN OR SINCE, could any prevail in anything.
If ever there was a test, if ever the outcome required infinite power in the finite, infinite knowledge exposed, infinite wisdom, this was it. If ever a time was available to test, re-test, this is the greatest. Everything fails for one and only one POSSIBLE REASON: it is this. Truth is in the end impossible to displace, and when you try one someone who IS the Truth (John 14:6), your ingenuity versus reality and the power of God combined, you must fail.
It has been so. Any, all and each alike, at this time and at that, have accomplished nothing but the polishing of the testimony.
Demonstration and verification in this are engaged in holy wedlock.
FINALLY, in this Reason for Faith Section, let us look at SUFFERING.
On this see also, Pain, Suffering and Evil, in Appendix C of this volume.
The Suffering of Creation and the Longsuffering of God.
The suffering of creation is Biblically attributed to its sin; and the sin to its freedom; and the freedom to its Creator. Is then the Creator the sinner ? God forbid. He has opened the doors to eternity, but many love temporal things, not eternal things. Hence their suffering is temporal and their end is not; for we are created to last. ("God made man upright but he has sought out many devices" - Ecclesiastes 7:29.)
You have then freedom; and if freedom, therefore consequences and correlations.
Does a person object ?
What then would you have God to create ?
Is man to be a mere isolate in a vacuum, unable to touch or be touched, lest sin should spoil ? That is a marvellous individual creation, like a prison cell. Or would you like God to say: Oh! how unfortunate! Would you like it that God should speak like this... ?
You have ignored
broken my laws, invented new religions, making gods according to your wits,
or... demoting, demolishing or deleting the God who is;
you have caricatured my name, or invented ridiculous politics,
corrupt systems, immoral manners, squalid sociology.
Forsaken fiascos of philosophy, you have fostered like orphans... and you live by them.
Now would you have Me come in, only to be accused of interfering, and of interventionism, and change all your results, like a card trick, so that what you ask for and act for, somehow... does not happen!
But, He might add: what you sow, you reap, except you accept the divine specifications for mercy.
If then man is not just an individual in a vacuum, if he has family and friends and others relate, and if man has freedom, then sin will spoil except for what God rescues (cf. *1, p. 531, and S32 supra, and pp. 1181-1186 infra). Man astray readily brings others dismay. Now shall God rescue according to our sinful specifications ? Or will not God, according to His own freely offered Gospel, of His good news, act to rescue and redeem ? Or would you like to publish God's bulletin, at your will! Interventionism ? yes more, wild and erratic folly would this be, that the injuring party instructs the infinite God on how to dispense mercy, doing without such... minor matters perhaps as repentance, regeneration and sanctification.
Will man limit God and prescribe how He will act, or on what terms show mercy ? Does even man so direct an offended party ? As Paul notes in the end of Romans, the Gospel is what God has exposed, and indeed long exposed in the scriptures, even those of the Old Testament; and as he shows in Timothy, Christ is what He has exposed, even of Himself, for the life of the world (cf. 1 John 1:1-4). If now the world is not very interested, will God repent, or will man! Is God to be judged because man is slack ? GOD is not slack (cf. II Peter 3:9); the gospel is not slack, and judgment is not slack after nearly 2000 years, as God said it would not be, when the time came; and the soup would be... well cooked. (Cf. Luke 23:27-32, and Revelation Ch. 13 ff. - Christ portrayed what men did when the 'tree' was 'green', on the way to the Cross, predicting worse when it was 'dry').
In fact, God has been most longsuffering, and as to those whom He does not select (super-natural selection), we have His word (1 Timothy 2:1-3, John 15:21-23, Ezekiel 33:11, 1 Peter 3:7-9, Lamentations 3:33, John 3:1-19 esp. 17-19, and see Appendix B infra) that He does not avoid and disregard; it is not His wish that any should perish but that all should come to knowledge of the truth.
Will God then be blasphemed by this: that men should frankly disbelieve His word, as well as judge His grace, while showing their disgrace, and continuing in sin! Is there no limit to human blasphemy and ill-will! And will man add to his other sins, the blood of Christians for his ire! That has been a customary social convenience. The Father is blasphemed, His children assaulted.
The Word of God will rule (Matthew 7:23), and His word does so, whatever man says; and will judge (John 12:48-50), whatever man may judge; and whoever judges the word, judges God who spoke, just as the Jews with the kind co-operation of the Romans, judged the living Word. He is no longer available (except in name)... for torture; but the written word is. Judge this then, O man, O children of man: do you judge the word of God ? Your judgment be accordingly.
In this trilogy, it is shown why it is required by reason that the Bible is the word of God; the word of God shows by revelation where you are, who make a travesty of it, and who will not follow what it requires. Mercy is available, but not to God-makers, for God is not made. Indeed, Christ authorised His apostles to proclaim the Gospel, teaching to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20).
The mercy of God is available on the same old terms to those sinners who, having found an end of themselves and seeking an end of the dominance and sovereignty of their sin, come to Christ on His terms. As Christ says, we are to make peace with the power of the Mighty God, and surrender (Luke 14:31-35, 27, cf. 6:46). This is to spell an end to the control of sin, when that surrender is by faith to the Christ of the Gospel: crucified but alive according to His word. It is only then that man gains the victory (1 John 5:4, Romans 6:1, 8:10-11), which he so desperately needs, and comes to live, and abide in the truth. To depart from the truth, from the Christ whose word requires it, who IS the word, is to depart from the God who made you; and John speaks of it in terms of the spirit of antichrist (1 John 2:18-19, John 14:21-23, 29- 30). Not to come to Him is to be "without God and without hope" (Ephesians 2:12). And He ? One "despised and rejected of men", racially rejected, "led as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53), in the prophetic identikit (cf. pp. 757-774, supra).
The spirit of antichrist has many forms, like that of those who imagine the Romans did not know how to kill, or to attest those whom they killed in crucifixion; or that blood and 'water' separation of the elements of our life- giving fluid (John 19:34) is a suitable base for sustaining life (it being the discharge of ruin!); or who imagine Christ was not killed, or did not rise bodily from the dead, as if a tormented relic showed the power of life eternal; or from a callow, crippled condition, a crucified butt produced the formula for immortality and the function for faith.
Chapter 6 supra has dealt with such contrived follies of desperation, flits into the fancy of existential irrationality; but God's word deals with those who withhold faith, and so test... the Almighty, as if judgment were not just around the corner. Indeed, will a romanticising theologian allege that the this-worldly 'deceiver' in some ancient document of a sect of zealots (anti-Establishment penitents who spoke of a teacher of righteousness, but did not perceive the Lamb of God suffering for sin in His divine passion of lovingkindness, in their doctrine) is in fact the sublimely altruistic Christ! What is this but jousting with reality by sheer anti-evidential guesswork!... contrapuntal procedure by contradiction, while constructing on this basis an irrelevant 'political' potentate or party, who yet said:
My kingdom is not of this world... (John 18:36)
and lived it; who did not fight or seek political power and said so, as also from the first in His withering rejection of the devil (Matthew 4:9-10); who instead carved a kingdom of truth on another basis altogether, deeply embedded in the scripture, one explicitly, emphatically and continually so (John 6:15,27-29, Matthew 16:20-21), declaring: "My kingdom is not from here!"
Will rational man listen to such irrational reconstruction of unevidenced anti-history, in endless vendetta with essential and available reality, at daggers drawn with the data ? as equally with the essential logic ? (Cf. Ch.'s 1, 3 and pp. 931-936, 989-1010 supra.) If fairies may then contrive, so that neither data nor logic, nor history nor Old Testament nor New Testament nor Church foundation nor church history, nor indeed anything pertinent empirically or rationally be involved: let them. We are talking of Christianity, not plagiarism.
Man now mixes his blood with his ink. Much of both... has flowed. He is unkind to himself, his race and his future. Only redemption remains, then judgment. (Cf. pp. 316Cff., 592 631A-B supra; 1174D infra.)
In fact, the creation still has that wonderful bounty, originality, that poetic imagination that enlivens the spirit of man, justly inducing worship of its Creator; but it has been marred beyond recognition in many ways, such as these (cf. Ch. 2 S1-S14) :-
i) In the heart of man: without Christ, this is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9), not least in imagining its own purity or wildly seeking to reconstruct... God.
ii) In the environment, which is charred, broken or marred, its magnificence subdued... being subjected as Paul states in Romans 8:20-21, for the time, to things lower than its original disposition, to vain things, a fitting rebuke to the sin of its 'lord' (Psalm 8:4-6), yours truly, man: forming a chastening picture in terms of its... deformities, of man's own, a continual sermon on sin. Man is not the only one who can give sermons; and God can provide them in stone (archeology) or in life (biology) with the same consummate ease with which He first created life forms in their teeming complexity and fascinating compression of code and format (cf. Ch. 2; 631A-B supra).
iii) In the human form created for the eternal Son of God, as we read in Isaiah 52:14, an 'astounding' matter for many. Here the highly exalted servant of God, Christ as man, becomes a sin-bearer, and in that form He is marred beyond recognition (lit. "beyond the form of man") by the barbarous cruelty, the sophisticated hatred and the carnal convenience of man. He has presented us, like a barber, the 'back-view' of our own sin, in terms also of our own creation. If to that some object, this merely exposes yet again the same marring... within. Our evils as a race are not photogenic within or without. They are not good to look at; but look we do, and must.
Yet despite the marring, the marvel still remains: both of the love of God who sent His Son for deliverance from damage (not for damage control), and of the majesty of God who made not only man, but also his environment, in His time mirroring how He would, the vain faults of fallen man. It is not reason which can object.
Thus for the Christian, God instead becomes the ultimate environmemt (Colossians 1:27, 3:11-17), the Maker for the made; and indeed, as Christ is now resurrrected, so in due time, at the end of this trial, when the pages of this history have finished their first turning:
The creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21).
It will be time then. Meanwhile, God has started with the children.
The Poor Environment ?
Yes, of course, but what in the world is the environment ?
It is that part of the creation that is not you, or whatever it is that you think of, for a given time. Is it then so surprising if what is not you, may hurt when you do wrong ? or if others may hurt yet others again, when they go wrong? or indeed may perhaps hurt you ?
To what do you point the finger when you do wrong ? To yourself ? Perhaps. To another ? quite possibly. To all things or to the scheme of things (invented by God and so His scheme of things), do you point ? or is it to God Himself more directly ? to life, then (which He invented, and so to God as its author)?
Whichever way it goes, wrong is attributed to the creation of God, and perhaps to God directly. Is it then strange if God points back ? and indeed, as we have shown extensively in Chapter 1, with good reason!
How shall He assess ? Perhaps the more reasonable will agree that it will be just as man has himself assessed: entirely as seems good to him. After all, if man, in danger now of individual idolatry, as before for some time, of collective idolatry with its idolised 'community': if man is to be assumed capable of assessing and propagating evil as he will, what then ? Is it too much to expect a liberty, at least as great and parallel, for man's divine sponsor - for God, in terms of the consequences which to Him seem good, as He will! Reason is not advanced by being unreasonable.
God then will appoint these consequences to man and to his system and scheme, as He sees fit, as seems good to Him; just as man assessed what he would and did what as he might, in his case, for his sin. God may (and in fact did) cause the physical and the biological realms to be "subjected to vanity" and so illustrate to man, teach him by the causes and effects in those areas (Romans 8:20, Isaiah 65:25), the principles of the folly man works on himself, and the defilement of man who, given dominion over Nature, lacks dominion even over himself (Proverbs 25:28).
God may indeed choose to appoint judgments for the things man has hurt, such as race, family, such as environment physically. Remember that environment is itself one part of the whole, for analytical purposes, identified as separate. Should there be no web ? no tissue ? interchange or interaction ? no overarching hold such that one thing may disturb all things, or things more broadly ? and why not ? Is not the body of man such ? does not even the little finger cause havoc to the system when it is infected and ... no remedy arises ? or may it not ? Will not one thought disturb the peace or tranquility of all ? If then many parts of the totality that is the human race, are disturbed because one maniac defies God, or defiles man, or brutalises the truth, highlighted by the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ: who may reasonably object! Certainly, we have individuals; but not in a vacuum. Where however remedy is disdained, the case is merely aggravated.
The rest follows. The point is that we do not need to follow the corruption or to inherit the judgment. If individuality is desired, there it is . The interactions and the judgments follow in God's scheme, it is true; but another part of that same divine authorship is the mechanism, the procedure, the escape route so that man need not, though he may choose his doom, proceed to suffer in vain. Instead, he may contract out! and this by the grace of God.
That is the remedial area of that same Cross of that same Jesus who suffered in the same way that has been told for the same 2000 years, and was foretold for some 1000 years before that, and in less obvious ways, before that. This is the event of the Cross of vicarious confinement of the Innocent One; an act not for His refinement, for He had no sin, but rather as work of substitutionaryatonement for all who receive Him as such... This is the Cross where Jesus Christ provided a place for sin, a dump for damnation, for contractors-out. He can take it; and He provided it on a strictly individual basis.
It is then not that all sin has... drifted there; it is one of the grand follies of many that they imagine this. Christ most emphatically has NOT borne the sin of mankind. The offer is as broad as that, but as with the Old Testament sacrifices (Deuteronomy 29:10-20), the meaning and applicability is as narrow as faith, and works in no other sphere. Confronted sin is never removed, except there shall be faith. "If you do not believe that I am He," Christ said, "You shall die in your sins" - John 8:24; and that, it is not because He has them, in such a case. The magnet of sin is man, not God. The attraction of God is for sin by faith tobe confessed, conferred on Jesus Christ. That is the transmissive medium. It is that which Christ, who knows all things, has grappled to Himself in liberating love.
Christ is a ransom for "many", not all (Matthew 20:28, 26:28, cf. Appendix B for detail). On Him, was laid the iniquity of those who are "healed", we find in Isaiah 53:5-6. Those whose sins He has in fact borne, those for whom He has been "delivered up" (Romans 8:32, cf. 4:24-25, the latter being those to whom His righteousness is "imputed"), what then of these ? These are then God's children, who inherit all things (8:32): and thus not those on whom His wrath rests (John 3:36)! Retain your sins if you will; but if you abandon them to Him by faith in Him, then are you His. What then is to be your environment? It is Christ (Colossians 3:11, 1:27), presiding resident and residing president, restoring and transforming (11 Corinthians 4:16-18, 3:17-18).
If then you are not dissevered, separated, disjoined from your environment, if this is to be: then yours is its fate. Then you are wilfully disregarding the disjunction procedure, from an afflicted environment which shares in the guilty flaws of afflicted and afflicting sinners, man or other. Spiritual pollution becomes your preference, and on spiritual smog you have set your sights.
It is you and not someone else who has done this, for your personal equation (cf. pp. 631A-B supra).
If however you are sincere with God, you should at once cast away your sin and decline to be implicated, involved any more, for ever with that evil thing.
This you should do, instead of complaining that God has done as He pleases (exactly in that respect, like you, but with more wisdom). You should be rid of the cause of all this suffering of man and environment through the evil for which, for the believing and penitent, Christ has suffered; so that His suffering, instead of being in vain, as far as you are concerned, should become through His resurrection a victory conferred upon you (Romans 4:25, 5:9, 8:8-10).
Why not ? Too proud ? too pure ? What! too pure to disjoin yourself from the domain and dominion of sin ? to become an ambassador for righteousness, of release and of the realisation of what God has planned for His people ? You detest then the Mafia and so join it; or being offered deliverance, you spurn it? for the mafia of autonomous sin! Are you in favour of the suffering which you thereby willingly increase, then ? in that you remain in the thrall of sin, like an oily-exhaust automobile, free from the mechanic but not from its consequences ? You would like to emit for ever ? That is scarcely the hallmark of sincerity. Those who prefer pollution, who find darkness better than light, they have their reasons; but goodness is not dominant where goodness is demeaned. Christ stands over you, offering cogently what you reject.
What then ? All of this race except Jesus Christ have sinned (Romans 3:23). God has responded as He will (Romans 6:23), both in fearsome judgment and in wonderful love. To ignore it is no sign of peace or peacefulness, but rather suggests implacability, in which this century abounds, and which God predicted (II Peter 2 and 3) for the end of the Age.
Speaking of those rejecting the words of Christ and His godliness, Paul indicates people "of depraved mind and deprived of the truth" (1 Timothy 6:5, NASB); and dealing with the End of the Age, our present precincts, in 11 Timothy 3 he extends the evil list ... ''Traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. And from such people turn away'' (II Timothy 3:4-5).
Indeed, many will do as they list ... ''obsessed with disputes and arguments about words ... useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of truth'' (NKJV from I Timothy 6:4-5). Small wonder Paul also says: ''From such turn away''. But God's love remains.
The Bible teaches that God has secured a way; that you culpably neglect it, if you do not wish sin to cease, or suffering to have a remedy, preferring to join (or stay joined to) forces which produce suffering through sin: ignoring the remedy on offer from God, purchased by the passion of His Christ.
The amazing thing is the intensity of the surging mercies of God, which play on man like the breakers on the rocky coastlines of the sea (Romans 5:12-21, Titus 2:11, 3:4, I Timothy 2:3-5). The intensity of human folly in the face of freely restorable life makes starkly startling the restraint of God in judgment (II Peter 3:9) after the infinite cost (John 3:16) even in divine sacrifice (I Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:6, Colossians 1:15-22), proclaimed for around 2000 years, amid derision, intemperate distortion and deformation of the Gospel (cf. pp. 1163A-1164, 631A-B; also 836-884 and Ch. 10 supra).
Startling ? It is as startling as Spring after Winter (cf. pp. 316A-C, 592, 1164 supra); but much more delightful.
Meanwhile, in the environment of human relations, the disease intensifies. If then you go that way, this is your option; but if you exercise it, the provision of Jesus Christ then makes it doubly foolish to blame God: it is you who now individually and separately aggravate your blame, augmenting recklessly your already negative balance, with ramifying results.
That is your own individual equation, making you acutely to blame (cf. John 15:22-24) not only for your own suffering (in the environment of your soul), but for your continued contribution... through the sovereignty of sin over you, remorselessly chosen, to the suffering of others, yes, even to that of that poor earthly environment of yours... even to the world.
The ultimate in poor environment is hell - a strange choice (John 3:17-19, I Timothy 2:3-5 cf. p. 639 supra).
*1 See SMR Ch. 2, esp. pp.
145ff., and pp. 931ff. relating to scientific method. In these places, the
situation is not merely set forth, but summarised to show the dereliction facing the organic evolutionary
hypothesis or more strictly myth (pp. 145ff., cf. Earth Spasm ... Ch. 1, TMR Chs. 1, 8), on the one
hand, and the application of scientific method to the reality of the resurrection, on the other.
and the scientific approach to the resurrection reality, on the other.
is one of the ingredients in identifying the speaker of divine revelation, as seen in Ch. 1. The revelation was necessary, the competition was abysmal and there was only one result: the Bible. The detail for these things lies in Ch.'s 1,6,8-10, but a brief overview of a few elements may help the minds of some. (Cf. pp. 59, 769, 830-831, 936-943 supra, 1082 infra.)
In sum then:
¨ The generic coverage as to historical type of human development over thousands of years;
¨ the intimately and exceedingly detailed coverage of the Jewish developments re Christ and thereafter, dispersion and the mode of it, temple non-access, high impact and startlingly sudden re-institution of Jewish State,
¨ its products, its scenery, the half of Jerusalem gained, and the whole, the intrinsically amazing nature of the military operations against overwhelming odds on the epochal Jewish return;
¨ the world attitude to Jerusalem upon this Jewish return, and this amid a highly defined and distinctive contemporary world situation to be in place at this time, with precise parameters politically, morally, academically and spiritually;
¨ the type of amazing gospel, and its detail, to be in broad Gentile operation relative to the to-be-slain Jewish Messiah;
¨ the Jewish national and world responses to this same Messiah, with alternations in the response by the time of the Jewish return epoch, becoming notable and distinctive also; action in travel and knowledge, in philosophies and religious and moral attitudes to the revelation of God, in this same contemporary period, again covered like so much of it, thousands of years in advance, with parameters as neatly dissected as if the work of an investigating journalist, currently on the scene;
¨ the rigorous and deadly Messianic identikit, likewise given vastly before Christ came, as was the time in history of His (then) coming death;
¨ the plethora of phoney Christs and phoney religions predicted to adorn the world as it developed, rising to a crescendo;
¨ the continuity of the Christian church (q.v. Index) amid vast dimensions of slide, nevertheless unbroken in its organised testimony:
Grounds for what ?
Grounds for identifying far beyond any normal, scientifically oriented recognition criteria, the word of remedy, in any evidential approach. There is simply no competition at this level. As we have seen, that is precisely one of the things the God of the Bible pointed out. It is one of the essential features of recognition of the speaker: no grounds for confusion on any sound evidential approach. On the other hand, there has been shown to be multiple disabling of all relevant contenders, quite apart from their identification-dereliction in this area. Identification of the word of God has only one rational claimant. The rest is religion without reason.