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OF CHRISTIAN LIFE
ISAIAH AS A PRELIMINARY ILLUSTRATION IN POWER IN PRACTICE
Isaiah is one of those prophets whose vision seems to flow as if from an overflowing reservoir, after flooding rains. It is a good initial point in considering the exuberance of life in Christ.
Take Isaiah 66. Here we see people of Israel being addressed, people who have been outside the general swim, who continue in sacrificial mode, as least in theory, rejecting the Messiah (66:3, 55:1-12), who had long before made it irrelevant to have animal sacrifice, satisfying justice uniquely in Himself, and His own offering through the eternal Spirit, without spot (Hebrews 7:26, 9:14).
Hear the word of the LORD,But why should they be ashamed ? It is clearly because - in terms of this, in Isaiah 53:1, "Who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed", that many rejected the Messiah (in the vision which was duly performed into history in its time). That is explicit in Isaiah 49:7. Indeed, in 65:13-15 we see that there is an UTTER repudiation of Israel as a God-honouring body at all, when New Covenant (as in Jeremiah 31:31) is now in force, because of the Lamb which was slain (as in 53). The "new name" (Isaiah 62) by which 'My' servants will be named, is not the former one (as in 30:8-16). It is tragic, but is true, was predicted and has surely come to pass.
You who tremble at His word.
"Your brethren who hated you,
Who cast you out for My name's sake , said,
'Let the LORD be glorified,
That we may see your joy.'
But they shall be ashamed.' "
Those (and they were many numerically, but not percentage wise, in the nation) who DID believe were of course persecuted and harried (as you see for example in the book of Acts 1-12), and to this day, Israel does not accept their testimony, as a nation, and toys this way and that, with more or less total CIRCUMSCRIPTION. If circumcision continues, no less does this containment, this difficulty for Christian testimony in the land, a testimony to the truth of their own religion, which they forsook, and hence one concerning the extremity of their persecution by many, as predicted from Moses on, which they inherit, until the day come ...
But more of that anon.
In Isaiah 66:6-13 we see a complete change. It is nothing to do with the Christian Church as a Gentile body at all. This is seen for two obvious reasons.
Firstly, the unbelieving Jews are to be ASHAMED in the face and light of the testimony of those who believe. This is CERTAINLY not the case while the NATION is so exclusivistic about Christianity, harries it, harrows it and rejects it. They maintain their cause with government, and their 'orthodoxy' and liberalism alike, with rigour. They present not shame, but alas, something nearer to shamelessness relative to Christ, a fact that will eventually change, but let us not be deceived, do not the GENTILE nations do much the same! and it is becoming worse in the USA as we have been seeing in recent chapters, in this deplorable intimacy which grows with convenient Islam.
That is not the possible interpretation. It is rather the case that the events envisaged are those in which the nation will change, and the ruling or powerful testimony of reality will so grip it that it will be forced, at long last, to acknowledge that the Messiah was and is Jesus the Christ. THEN, and then only, will the brethren who hated them (physical, they are brethren though wholly different in religion) be ashamed. Then only will that manifestation be able to occur.
Accordingly, we proceed in verse 6ff., to find national events. A nation is to be founded at once, as occurred in May 1948, fulfilling this long range prediction from some 2500 years previously. It is unexampled (66:8), for the 'birth' of the children of the Zion which is so transformed, occurs as soon as she labours. Thus in 1948, there was a seemingly hopeless and grievous situation in which the Jews were to be overthrown, though they had not even ANY national status, and were MERELY an element in an Arab land, to which Britain was handing over authority as it left its Mandate; yet into this came a new nation. It was spectacular, showing once again that not only may we with the uttermost certainty expect the predictions to be performed (cf. Joel 2:11, Isaiah 34:16-17), with meticulous accuracy, but that the more inconceivably difficult it seems, the less we may be concerned. God is original, personal and creative. He has His own ways, and these, they do not change (Habakkuk 3:6 cf. Psalm 90:1-2, 102:25-28, Malachi 3:6, Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:17).
That, it is what you would expect, when it is with God Almighty you deal. Is His imagination to be less than our own, His power to be measured by our puniness, or rather by the extravagance of liberal thought and amazing invention which our very programmed physiques attest! (cf. Romans 1:17ff., Psalm 139 and Joyful Jottings 16).
The second reason*1 why the church insertion, church as such, is not possible (though of course the converted of Israel will form PART of the church) is that there is not merely a national change in Israel which is central to the thematic development, as above, but there is a violence of judgment which turns the tables on entrenched unbelief, world-wide. Certainly it concerns Israel, but its effects are international and vast (as in Micah 7:15ff., Deuteronomy 32:43ff., and Isaiah 66:12ff., where the concourse of the nations is a result of her deliverance from many Gentile enemies).
That deliverance is wrought, like the foundation of the State anew, by power of a supernatural character. It is God who indicates that He will "cause delivery" will NOT "shut up the womb" (Isaiah 66:9). In 66:14., it is not a matter of balm, but of indignation, not of succouring the penitent but overcoming the proud with this wrath, and SO making the difference. It is invasive, obtrusive, a rebuke, an assault in deliverance on the one hand, in anger on the other, and the physical power turns the events in the slaying of opponents (66:16), leading to comfort. Nor is the 'enemy' Satan, for "they are many", nor is it evil spirits, for in its interstices, "the LORD will judge all flesh" (66:16).
In interpreting a passage, it is never wise to consider things not in view, not heralded, not paraded, and to ignore what is. The reason why what is paraded is selected is this: it is the desire of the author that this be so. Hence it is wise not to read between the lines and to ignore what is set upon them. In any case, the reading between the lines in this fashion, contradicts what is upon them, as well as being a work in the invisibility of the eisegetic inclination.
In the proclamation of the Gospel, let us be very clear, it is not a matter that the LORD will "render His anger with fury". That is the eventual result of its rejection; but in its projection, "God did not send His Son into the world, to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17). Another principle ? It is never a good idea in interpreting a passage, to assume it means the precise opposite of what it is saying. These things of course do attest how hard is the effort to suppress this passage and others like it; but it will not do.
Why however do so many for so long try so hard to achieve what is clearly impossible, and contrary to so much that is parallel in so many places in the Bible (cf. SMR Appendix A) ?
Perhaps it relates in part at least, and often, to a desire to escape the testable, and to be serene and clean in the clouds of religion which scarcely touches the earth in such things. God however is far greater than this. It is nothing for Him: He can send the Messiah to die at the predicted DATE, bring back the people of Israel to their land in the predicted WAY (sudden declaration of the State), and tell them emphatically, so that if words have any meaning, it is clear, "So will I comfort you, and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem" (66:13), just as in Zechariah 12, where the efforts to invade Jerusalem are to be met with mighty reproof over time by the LORD, we find this similar stress.
In this case, we find in Zechariah 12:9, "It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem." In the midst of this, He brings power to convict the surrounded Jewish people, and to convert them (12:10). As to where it is, "In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves: they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place - Jerusalem" - Zech 12:6.
This, as noted previously, would be like saying that this author would go back to his boyhood city, Heidelberg, and would be conjoined with this and that family (named) who then lived there, and that he would be established there, despite many contrary in mind to such an event, and would inhabit his own place - Heidelberg. Thus the last word confirms and emphasises the name of the place, in case any should be romancing. It means - in all its detail - JUST what it says. It is only then that they have repentance into life, in this national sort of way (Zech. 12:10).
the reason why we rehearse some of these things today is this. It is a
good and telling example, as was the virgin birth, as were the physical
miracles of Christ (following Isaiah 29, 35 in their predictions), as was
the provision of John the Baptist as preparing the paths of the Lord (as
predicted in Isaiah 40:3), as was the physical resurrection (following
Psalm 16 cf. Joyful Jottings 25),
the date of the Messiah's death and so on. Of what however is it an example
? It is an example of the LORD acting in history in designated ways and
times and fashions, without the slightest inhibition. He says and He does.
His word is not contrived (Proverbs 8:8); but clear. And it says what He
intends, and He provides for test for clarity (as in Isaiah 48) so that
we may verify. SO He does, and so do we respond.
CHRISTIAN LIFE AS A BASIC ENTERPRISE IN PRACTICAL REALITY
First today, our concern is with TRUST in the Lord, a practical matter, with practical resutls. Without that, no one is or even could be a Christian. It is not a matter of being perfect. Does a child who crosses a busy intersection, holding father's hand, for the first time in such a concourse of cars and exhaust, PERFECTLY trust his father ? That is not the point. He either trusts him or he does not. He either quivers and whimpers and tries to retract his tiny feet, or he does not. He may or may not stride with immature panache; he may or may not survey the landscape the while, with interest. Yet he either will or will not trust the hand and the wisdom which, here in a new way as often in other ways before, have led him, and now do again.
DO YOU TRUST GOD ?
It is a question to be addressed to Church goers as well as to explicitly unbelieving people. Some try to make this ALL there is to being a Christian, but this is an error as it is likewise to omit it from practical realities in life. It IS true however that IF you trust in Christ, as revealed in the Bible in the divine portrait, and hence in the divine promises attending Him, that you MUST be a Christian.
This is what makes it so interesting, this practical security on the one hand, and this doctrinal series of equivalents on the other.
You CANNOT trust in the Lord unless your heart has been moved to REALISE that He is trustworthy (as with Peter in Matthew 16:17, when GOD opened his heart to realise who Christ was, so enabling him, although immediately needing correction after this, at a fundamental level! to trust Him). The SUPERNATURAL opened the eyes of the heart to the realities. THAT came first. The statement concerning faith came second. You cannot have the second without the first.
This is quite parallel to saying that you CANNOT have eyes with which to see these things, unless there has been a supernatural operation in your life, enabling it (like cataract removal, if you want a mere analogy from the physical realm). This is what is expressly declared by Christ in John 3:
This is not another way of saying that without being born again, you CAN! In dealing with 'interpretations' as we saw earlier, it is by no means unnecessary at times to point out that it is NOT a good idea to contradict what you are supposedly 'explaining' or 'interpreting'; for then you interpret no more than your own mind, which in actuality, has nothing to do with interpreting something to the contrary someone else has said, but is merely seizing another person's name for the promulgation of its own thoughts, something as inaccurate as plagiarising.
IF then, you trust in the Lord, two things at once follow. You ARE regenerated and you DO KNOW the Lord (John 17:3). If on the other hand, you do NOT know the Lord, it follows, since the change is both necessary and sufficient, that you are NOT regenerated and that this supernatural operation has NOT as yet been performed upon you.
Now what is especially interesting here is this. There are MANY ASPECTS of being a believer, and they all like different quarters of an apple, relate to the same core! You trust God, you know God, you are regenerated, your eyes have been opened by the Lord, and so trusting, as with a little child, you FOLLOW Him (as indeed He expressly indicates of His sheep, in John 10:27-28). As HIS sheep, this is one of the things they do.
Sheep are far from perfect, whether used here metaphorically or in the intention of the metaphor, believers. They may scurry off like Peter, "I go a-fishing", or deny the Lord in some cowardly moment (only to be corrected and cleansed by the Lord as was Peter - Luke 22:61 cf. Matthew 26:69-75, John 21). They may commit adultery on some horrific occasion (as David did with Uriah's wife), and be disciplined as necessary, as the case requires (with David it led to repeated corrections during his later life, enabling him to gain the necessary sensitivity in suffering), but are pardoned. On the other hand, they are disciplined effectively (as in Hebrews 12) and may be so cleansed and purified, that you see as in Psalm 73, that the penitent, purged soul is near to breaking. I suffer all this cleaning, and yet look at these and those, who knowing not God, are filled with sins and riches!
That however is not to the point. If riches are your desire, they are cheap glamour. Get them. Those who get them can have cheap glamour. You might as well say, being an athlete, Look at such and such people who go on holidays to Hawaii, and gluttonise on rich foods, and swim! That is not the point. You are an athlete, and a Christian is a spiritual athlete (II Timothy 2:4ff.).
TRUST however is basic. It is not a possibility. It is part of what makes a child of God, just that. A SPIRITUAL child is by essence one who trusts, for this is no mere physical conformity from the marriage of two parents: this is an individual operation from the start!
You do not need to be the world's trust strong-man to be indicated here. A trust as small as a mustard seed is quite sufficient (Mark 11:22-26, Matthew 17:20) to 'move mountains'. It is something you do relative to someone or you do not. That is all. You may have problems for a period, and you may have upsets, but in the end, suppose for example it is a key employee, you either trust this person or you do not. If you do, then you will be assured that he will not steal from you, will not dump your instructions, and will not play the fool. He may err; but his nature is such that this will not be the last word. He will rectify.
He is trustworthy. There are undoubtedly such people, though at times, one is inclined to wonder how many!
Look now at Jeremiah 17:
Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings."
This is the nature of abiding in Christ, and being called and cleansed, regenerated and knowing Him. This is the nurture to the soul, the choice of soil, and these plants, they are planted by the LORD, not by opinions, or hopes or balance of probabilities. Whenever was that another name for the Lord and trust in Him! Balances are notorious for changing with circumstances; but the LORD, He does not change. Those whose trust is in Him, these are regenerated in order to be so, and being planted by the Lord, will not be pulled up (Isaiah 61:3, Matthew 15:14, John 10:27-28). Conceive of them as sheep or trees, they who are once entered into Him, seeing Him and hence knowing Him, they stay that way!
They trust, they cry, they are heard (Psalm 22:5, 34; 145:18-19). This again is the message of Psalm 107, with this emphasis, that they also praise Him, not as a condition, but as a result. It is a dynamic personal involvement, and it is not a button press situation.
It terminates on the LORD, and not on some quiddity, some imaginary being, some hope in the heavens. Such things are mere idols of the heart (Jeremiah 16:19-21, 10:16,11-12, Ezekiel 14:3).
this is eternal life to KNOW GOD (John 17:3) and Jesus Christ whom He has
sent. How would you call on Him whom you do not know ? and how would you
identify Him in whom you do not believe ? and with what approach would
you enter into what realm, when you cannot SEE ?
THE IMPENETRABLE PACKAGE: KNOWING, TRUSTING, FOLLOWING, SEEING
This KNOWING God and TRUSTING Him, yes and FOLLOWING Him, they are knit components, are all a parcel which is inseparable, like the workings of the eye, which needs every piece of sophisticated equipment made for and blending harmoniously and programmatically with every other part, for any part to work at all. It is a non-dissociable entity, and we know this well enough from our own creations. IF you have one, therefore, you have the rest. It does not BRING it; but to have ANY, you need to have what brings any, and this is the same as what brings all. It is a non-severable substance, if you will, an entity not for twisting or turning. You cannot arrive unless you see, cannot see unless you know, cannot know unless you are introduced, cannot be introduced unless there is a revelation in your heart. This does not of course create God; for that is the work of mere human inspiration, to create book or a plan. It merely exposes Him to you.
That is why the Archbishop of Sydney in a recent public address, was not really to the point when referring to those who have a personal revelation of God (reputedly, by some statistics or other, of the order of 30%), as if they were strong men, or way showers or such thing. There are many spirits (1 John 4), and Satan is expressly stated to be able to mimic an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14), and is revealed as aspiring to the position of God (Isaiah 24, Ezekiel 29, II Thess. 2:1-10). Such experiences may or may not be delusive; the option is always there.
It is only when you know God on His appointed path, the narrow one indeed (Matthew 7:15ff.), that there is anything sure. And that ? It is not necessarily a vision and so forth; it is an awareness in terms of His word, which acting like a funnel and stimulus, a path and a program, leads you into the Presence of God, who is very practical and hears and answers prayers according to His presentations in the Bible and His assurances there.
It is not that it CANNOT include vision, for that is a mere contradiction of Acts 2, and the speech of Peter. It is that this is not the essence, any more than jumping over a log is the only way to get to the other side. ALL things have to be tested (I Thess. 5). MUCH of what is tested will assuredly not be sound. The delusive forces are apt and active, purposive and ready to beguile. That is the teaching of the Bible, confirmed by countless episodes of history.
Knowing God is NOT a part of a universal program of soul search yielding fruit to this or that one, in this or that way. It is a RESULT of knowing the SON of God by REVELATION in the heart, which is a mode of assurance divinely wrought, but not necessarily accompanied by this or criterion. When you meet someone, it is not necessarily the warmth of his handshake, or the colour of his eyes and the depth there seen, or the sound of his voice, that convinces you that the meeting has occurred. Many things may figure; it is the result which is sure. You are at a certain time assured that this is a person whom you have met. Your eyes and your feet, your experience all enter in, when it is a physical case in a visible world.
spiritual knowledge of the invisible God, obviously the same sort of logic
applies, but then the realm itself is different. You meet someone on specifications;
There is a method. There is a provision. You do not hope that something
will happen. If your eyes are opened, so that you believe in Christ, then
on the basis of what He has said, God's identification of Him and of His
way and plan, the model of salvation, you KNOW that you find God in this
way, and hence as you do, trusting, you find and as you find, you reach
to the realm of the Almighty, and as a child with his/her father, so you
rest and realise and find. TASTE AND SEE that the Lord is good, says His
Again, read John 14:21-23, for this shows that this knowledge may have various depths and dimensions. One thing however is sure, it is GOD whom you know.
As with human acquaintance, so here, there are various forms which the knowledge may take. It may involve dramatic circumstances, deep communion and communication, sharing of programs, hopes, feelings and so on. When GOD is the other being, then there is AUTHORITY and TRUTH absolute and profound on the other side, and you adopt and adapt as it is, according to what is written and sure, that rock on which a house is well built as in Matthew 7:24-29.
Thus knowing God, trusting in God, following God are all part of the attitudes which are yours if a Christian. You have this APPROACH to God, and these are components of it. There is in you an attitude of trust, of friendly communion, of following. It is what you take from day one. It is inherent in all your relationships with God Almighty, shown once and once only definitively in Christ, and many times in the word of God, predicting Christ and showing Him as the way (Hebrews 1:1-3).
THIS TRUST is so real that if you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will not feel overwhelmed as in Psalm 23; that if you are surrounded by a host, you know that the Lord is with you, to aid your performance of what is right for you (Psalm 27:3); that if you meet an armed assault on the Bible, it will be rebutted by the power of God through whomever He chooses (II Cor. 10:5, John 14:12); that if a situation of grotesque character summons you to its side, wisdom can be given, and must be asked for, and it is by faith (James 1) that it will be sought. Trust is ever so practical, and God is equipped with unlimited power; hence the promises of God (II Peter 1), these are those by which we have escape the corruption of this world, by its various lusts as it is written. They are many, specific and efficacious.
So too we do not quaver when the Bible categorically declares that amazing events will happen. They have done with this a massive regularity (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Chs. 8 - 9), so that it is a wild and random mood, an anti-evidential fiesta which would ever doubt it. It would be like doubting whether the sun would explode tomorrow, and fearing; but much worse. For the fact that all scriptures are always fulfilled is only part of it; the demonstration that they are from God is separate from this, additional; so that this merely verifies it (cf. SMR Chs. 1-3, 8-9).
turn now, secondly, from ATTITUDE to ACTION relative to God, and Christian
we find repentance, regeneration, reconciliation,
restoration and adoption.
These are works of God (John 3, Acts 11:18, Galatians 1:5, Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:32, II Cor. 5:18, John 6:29-40). To be sure, there is human response, and much more, it is a matter of divine integrity ((I Tim. 21-3, Romans 8:28ff., Ezekiel 33:11, cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, Repent or Perish Ch. 2); for God foreknows His own, would have all come to the knowledge of the truth, and be saved, and yet does not force or manoeuvre, twist or contort.
thus is quite individual, real and wrought by God, is yet wrought in a
soul which in so receiving it, is not moved contrary by mere power, to
the realities, but in conformity with them, in the mind and knowledge of
God. These things, then, like the rest, occur, and there is not merely
the ENTRY activity, for there are as in 1) above, the RELATIONSHIP COMPONENTS,
so that you both are changed and are kept, in a continual transformed,
informed and responsive situation (II Cor. 3:18).
There is a reciprocity of relationship which also must be observed. Thus, "as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become the children of God" - John 1:12. These are NOT born of the will of man, of the flesh and so on. It is a sovereign act of God. Again, "Whoever shall receive one such little child in My name, receives Me," Matthew 18:5.
Moreover, there is the other side. GOD receives His own children, who are His without regard to competing influence, as He says in Luke 14:33, "Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has, CANNOT be My disciple."
But hear further (bold added):
will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
Here is the reception of man BY GOD. In the other, it is the reception of GOD by man; but in the latter, while the integrity of the action is protected in divine foreknowledge and desire alike, it is an action in which man is receiving God. This double reception is beautiful. However it is a planned procedure, like signing a wedding register, in love, because of love, for the fruit of love.
is something which has happened, in the Christian life; and as you see,
in the separation from spiritual pollution which is often the need, as
you abide in Christ and others fail to follow Him, this reception can come
when others leave you. It is then that you may be bereft of human help,
and relying only on God, like Elijah, must personally, financially, morally
and spiritually find in Him your sufficiency. But then, like a father,
in this He receives you, this also! For many, who must separate as church
after church follows the drive and dive into evil dynamics in this apparently
last generation before He returns, this is a substantial test of TRUSTING
Him, and for many others, it is a negative consignment, as they fail to
trust God, to trust in the NAME of Jesus the Christ, and so cite excuses,
like those who would not come to the wedding because of various preoccupations
(cf. parable in Matthew 22:1ff.).
Along with these attitudes and actions in the Christian life, there are various quite pregnant responses. LOVE is the chief, and without this, there is no life, but only separation from God. It is He who does not deal with pieces of putty, but people; He could treat them so, but does not. His sovereignty is such as would make men so, but His love is not so. WHAT IF ... says Paul in Romans 9, God with much longsuffering endured ... before He acted.
Along with love, is loyalty, both to Him and in your dealings with His people. While you FIRST make sure that it is based on truth not sentiment or desire - as in I John 5:2 - by keeping His commandments, it is still the case that in this very way, you love the brethren.
this is living. That is a condition which is distinct from spiritual death,
ignorance, clamminess of uncertainty, rigour of unreason, unrepentant hardness,
endurance with grit but not grace. Life has with butterflies or trees,
man or bird, a distinctive feature and focus. It is beyond death in ways
decisive; and spiritual life is no exception to this. It does however utterly
transcend it; for the life is the very life of God, which you share as
5) CENTRAL CLEARING HOUSE IN CHRIST
All of these things, the constitutive, like regeneration and opening of vision, trust and knowing God, and the responsive, like love and loyalty, the quintessential like spiritual living, are to be found only in the way of God's plan, the definitive person who is the Door, the Gate, the Way, the Life and the Truth, God expressed in human format, the determinant relative to status, one way or the other, in His own Person (John 14:6).
He is the clearing house, the grand central station. There is no other. Here, by His atonement, pardon is found; here is the decisive and personal meaning of God presented, He the word, eternal and express, of God Himself, here is the name of entry, the name of appeal, the source of power, the provision of pastoral care, the king of concern, the prince of compassion, the enduer with eternal life, His own (I John 1:2, John 17:2), the Judge (John 5:19-23) and the peace (Ephesians 2:13-14). Without Him, at the level of spiritual significance that endures, God-pleasing activity, we can "do nothing" (John 15:5). You must abide, having constant, continual, deep and personal relationship with Him, as a branch, metaphorically, has with the vine. Not only would it be futile to believe it could fruitfully act without the vine; it would be categorically absurd. It would be confusing a slow and prospering death process, as cut off, with a constant and enabling vitality of growth and fulfilment of His desires in the branch.
Now it may be observed that the categories 1) to 3) above, Attitude, Action, Reception, Response, spell out an acronym: ARC, twice over. You can separate them and make two arcs. This may or may not make a circle, if the arcs be joined. We shall conceive that they do not, but that the completion of the circle of Christian life now depends, as it always has done and will, on Christ completing things. The atonement is complete; the reconciliation is complete in kind, likewise; the adoption is complete in kind for each member of His spiritual family.
However as Christian life proceeds for each Christian, there is GROWTH IN GRACE (II Peter 3:18), and Paul longs that the church at Philippi may abound in love yet more and more (Phil. 1:9). Paul likewise prays for their entire sanctification in soul, spirit, mind and body (I Thess. 5:23) at Thessalonica, and this is a process that continues. it is Christ who puts Himself in the place of the sinner, not only to redeem, and pay for the imperfections, to write quit over the writ of sin (Ephesians 2:15, Colossians 2:14), but to cover the inadequacies, to put His own righteousness where ours however earnest and sincere, does not have the amplitude and grace that is the thing to be called perfection. There is thus much to cover. We have much in which to grow. Christ completes the two arcs, and makes the whole circle, having purchased for us "eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12, 10:10,14), so providing for a peace so profound that it passes all understanding (Phil 4:6).
is IN HIM therefore that we live, as from Hosea was so clear, "In
ME is your fruit found" - Hosea 14:8; and
what a panorama of purity, beauty and truth is seen in the chapter of aspiration,
penitence and peace, at the end of this prophet. It is worth dwelling on
it, and in it, as a plant in that floribund and fragrant garden! (Cf. Questions
and Answers 6, Ancient
Words, Modern Deeds Chs. 4,
*1 For further reasons, see SMR Appendix A, and Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 3.