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and the RELISH of REST
LOVE is not another THING
LOVE is not another THING.
Sanctification is … something else
but allied to love as love to truth and both to mercy
When you look at Peter,
Ø you see not a potential priest for the papacy, with claims
o that, though merely a sinner on this earth, that ‘he alone is most high over princes’, or
o that he is ‘greater than man, who judges all, but is judged by none’,
or anything remotely approaching such exquisitely anti-scriptural folly (Matthew 23:8-10, I Peter 5),
Ø but a man
Ø whose errors were serious,
Ø whose rebukes were varied,
Ø not as giver but receiver,
Ø whose heart was most sensitive,
Ø whose sincerity was of that almost belligerent quality of grand simplicity and simple grandeur,
Ø whose ways were humble,
Ø whose spirit was steadfast,
Ø whose failings were corrigible,
Ø whose delight was in the Lord,
Ø whose loyalty could crumble, but
Ø whose strengthening was prodigious,
Ø whose sanctification was on the grand scale.
For his part, the apostle Peter was not, like a lost column in some temple, by itself, not especially noteworthy or declarative, but was like one in its setting, supported on its glorious base, soaring into the unequivocal heavens, not useless, but supporting a cover and bringing it to our attention, a work of art that is not artful, and a support of strength that has been wrought with labour.
The labourer who made it, in this case ? Christ. It is precisely the moulding of the disciples into the beauty of holiness that testifies to the truth. Look for example at James and John. Who could conceive that such men would ever even dream of that classic prodigy of failure, the desire for ‘being first’ ? Yet what do we read in Matthew 20:20ff. ?
This, and one almost hesitates to review it. Their mother wanted them to
be seated on the left and right hand of Christ. Where ? at some feast ? Not at
all, but rather, apparently in some outstanding way, “in
Your kingdom”, the very kingdom of God (cf. The
How could such a one as was called to write I John 2, possibly have so acted ? Had not the message of Luke 14:8-12 come home ? or any such message as in Matthew 11:28-30 ?
v “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
So important is this message that it is rendered this time in red! Nor
is this humility so in name only, as if it were a trade-off of present desire
for pre-eminence against eventual satisfaction of this lust! Is it not also
exalting oneself to HOPE for exaltation as the GROUND or even A GROUND of one’s
action ? What dentist would I trust in expensive treatment, if it were ever established as a fact that not my teeth but his eminence in his profession was what consumed his heart, or drove his eyes ?
You cannot serve two masters, for one or the other in competition will be despised, and if integrity, love, grace, goodness be not ruling in Christ, but rather Christ as a means of self-exaltation, a utensil for holding one forth, in what way is this to worship God rather than oneself ? How is He GOD whom one uses, the instrument for one’s glory ? Is it not rather that the servant serves his Master ? and when worship is added to this service, is this His glory to be shared as the objective for the servant alike ? Is not God, God ? But look at Christ …
Was His objective in coming in to this world to be great when greatness,
even to Godhead was His already ? (Philippians 2). Did God so love the world
that He decided to honour His Son by some charade for the greater honour to be
grabbed, through some specious spectacular in which suffering was a means to
parade ? Is the love of God to be impugned, love to be ignored, as if by a
Is it meek and lowly in heart to receive people so that you can use them as stepping stones to your own glory ? Is this the rest which the Saviour accords ? (Matthew 11:28ff.), if He Himself were roving and restless, eyes bent on self-exaltation! Is this not ‘saving one’s life’ (Matthew ). In fact, let us take this yet more closely to the text: Is this not ‘desiring to save one’s life’ ? What type of spiritual perversion is intent on contravening the warning of Christ in the very exhibition of obedience, clad with vain desire for exaltation, or defiling the faith in ostensible demonstration of understanding! This is the way of the double-minded, what else!
v Some people in some cultures set high store on ‘humility’ …
v but for what purpose ?
v Is it to impress others with a pleasant demeanour in order that they might exalt you ?
v Is this not the very essence of self-will, exploitation, insincerity and heartless pre-occupation such as is the contrary of love and the precise placement of pride!
Small wonder Christ did not yield, then, to the request in Matthew 20:20ff.: no 20/20 vision was there! Yet how graciously He replied, saying it was not for Him so to appoint. In His address to the other disciples, which followed, Christ in principle contrasted the whole world view, the whole culture of dominion, power, lording it over people, having authority over them, with the concept of service. If you want to become great, He said, SERVE. If someone wants to be first, let him be your SLAVE! Slaves do not order about do they, now ? In other words, this excoriating criticism of the cultural concept of self-advancement is saying this:
Ø If you want to be a heavy-weight with clout and power, authority and impressive presence, an official with uplift like mountains and all that sort of pathological pre-occupation, then try being a slave, being ordered about as if you were an underpaid underling. Will that try your sincerity ? is this then your desire, is love your plea and passion for goodness your thrust ? If so, how would this concern you! Be a slave …
Now to be fair, it may be that there was a desire to be CLOSE to Christ in this word from the mother of James and John (and she was not the only one with such a desire at that time - Mark -36). Whether in company, consort and collaboration with their mother, or in conjunction with the part she played in some other way, they specifically sought this for themselves. Their approach, moreover, does not fill one with admiration. “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”
It was only then that they asked! What a lesson about prayer is there! IN HIS NAME is the asking to be done, and this accords with HIS PRINCIPLES! One of these is humility, not unsavoury unspirituality in which your own elevation is the motive of your heart, a distinctive elevation putting you where by the nature of the case (as envisaged in the request about right and left hand) none else could be!
Humility is not a manufacturing plant for a hollow holiness by which you are not what you seem (not normally characterised as purity in heart which indeed puts you close to God – Matthew 5:8), and aspire to the opposite of what you profess! That, it has a name: hypocrisy!
Were then the disciples hypocritical in this, when they made this extraordinary request about sitting on His left and right hand ? Not necessarily: perhaps merely inflated with desire which, in being close to Christ, was commendable; but in having this closeness in so conspicuous a way, in such an elevating way, they were not tending the kingdom, but the placement in it. If they had not been corrigible, but incorrigible, if they had not been changed, but continued in this spiritual mutant desire, then the case would have been different!
v LOVE DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN (I Corinthians 13:5)…
So in time, did John and James become wonders of beauty of life and spirit; for look at their Mentor, and consider His desire, which led to humiliation, shame and spitting, the stripping down of face, the haunting horror of having to cry from the heart, even from the heart which had nestled in eternity in the Father, one God, Sender and Sent, Speaker and Spoken,
“My God, My God,
Why have You forsaken Me!”
As one shameful episode, however short, can be magnified out of all relation to reality, caricatured by the accuser of the brethren (and he, that loathsome liar has many followers on this earth), and act like tar, so the exposure on the Cross is monumental in littleness, quintessential in lowliness; for it allows mankind to see one in the gruesome depravity of sin; and if it is not His own, yet with Christ, it is there to be borne, and it is in its impact horrible beyond all conception. Its dynamic is separating Christ as man from the God from whom He came, in whom He worked and for whom He was the only begotten Son.
In humility He was prepared to DELIGHT in such a role. In practice, it was grievous anguish (Hebrews 5:7).
Why ? in order to get where He was before He came ? Somewhat circuitous and ridiculously lowering for such a result. Why then ? For the glory which was set before Him ? Yes, but what glory ? The glory of WINNING souls, of RESCUING the lost, for as He said, He came to seek and to save what was lost (Luke ). He did not lie. It was not to USE the rescuing of the lost to gain what He already had. It was to rescue the lost. WHY ? Because He loved them, and as a Good Shepherd was willing to give His life for the sheep (John 10).
Love is not duplicable. It is not
devious. It is conjoined to truth as the right arm with the left ( I
Corinthians 13:6), and as Paul declares, it is “faith
working by love” which is in point (Galatians 5). It is not faith which
works by lust, self-oriented, manipulative and manoeuvring with mock majesty
for heights from which to peer at others. God IS love, and when dealing with
Hear Him who declares it: “… because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them …” (Deuteronomy ), and again in Deuteronomy 7:6-9:
Ø “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.
Ø The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Ø Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments…”
WHY did He choose them ? It was because “the LORD LOVES YOU”. Why did He send His only begotten Son into the world ? (I John 4:9), because He loved us. “In this,” indeed, “was the love of God manifested toward us, that God has sent Hs only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” It is not that we loved Him, but He us, and SO “sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins.”
That is why we should love: God is like that, acts like that, feels like that, is thorough and practical in being like that, and we being redeemed are regenerated, taken or translated from one kingdom to another ( Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 1:13). One speaks here naturally of Christians whom the supernatural has made natural, and no more despoiled as by a pathological fungus infection of lust for this that or the other. That, says John, is why we should love one another.
What do we read of Christ near the end of the drama of salvation wrought on this earth openly before all ? This (John 13:1): “ … when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” And what is the word, as it were, at the commencement exercises ? In Psalm 40, we read of it, “Behold, I come: in the scroll of the book it is written of Me. I delight to do Your will, O my God…”
And what was it He came to do ?
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire:
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require”
What then DID GOD REQUIRE ? That the Messiah should, as the only conceivable substitute who could give a substitutionary offering in place of its mere depiction in animal sacrifice, COME and do Himself “YOUR WILL”!
How did He view such an outing and outage ? “I delight to do Your will!” HOW could He so delight ? WHY indeed would an excursion into time and space such as we men have for our physical environment, a descent from eternal glory, on such a mission, be treated with anything but demission, derogation and at best, dour dutifulness in a hated task ? It is in the scroll of the book written of Him ? Yes, for you find it in Psalm 22, for example, where the paean of praise AFTER the crucifixion there depicted is this, “Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Your heart will live for ever.” HE was killed in short order so that you should live forever.
WHY however will all the ends of the world remember and turn to the LORD ? (Psalm ), and WHY “worship before You” ? “They will come and declare His righteousness that He has done this!” (). To be sure, and it has happened for two thousand years now, the voice of praise for the Redeemer’s gallant enterprise, and it IS righteous to deliver the oppressed from the spiritual squalour which otherwise is their eternal disgrace and poverty and shame.
WHY is it righteous ? It is so because in this justice is satisfied and mercy is triumphant.
WHY should mercy wish to be triumphant ? It is because GOD SO LOVED the world that He gave. LOVE was the propellant, seeking a place for mercy and meeting the requisitions of justice, that firm ally of truth.
See it in Jeremiah 31:3-11, in its intensity and practicality.
§ “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
o “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
o Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
§ “Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt,
o You shall again be adorned with your tambourines,
o And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.
“You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of
o The planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food.
§ “For there shall be a day
When the watchmen will cry on
‘Arise, and let us go up to
o To the Lord our God.’ ”
§ “For thus says the Lord:
o “Sing with gladness for Jacob,
o And shout among the chief of the nations;
o Proclaim, give praise, and say,
o ‘O Lord, save Your people,
The remnant of
§ “Behold, I will bring them from the north country,
o And gather them from the ends of the earth,
o Among them the blind and the lame,
o The woman with child
o And the one who labors with child, together;
o A great throng shall return there.
§ They shall come with weeping,
o And with supplications I will lead them.
o I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters,
o In a straight way in which they shall not stumble;
For I am a Father to
o And Ephraim is My firstborn.
§ “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
o And declare it in the isles afar off, and say,
‘He who scattered
o And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’
§ “For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
o And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he.”
God has loved them with an everlasting love. It is not mere passion, though its drive can make passion the very name of that love, and this for its enduring felicitous reliability, not for some summary selfishness which can afflict man so readily.
Now notice in the red type above, the place in this scripture, of the THEREFORE!
I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore …
BECAUSE HE LOVED, therefore He has acted.
In both Testaments, as always, you have the same message from the same God with the same motives, the same mind and the same faithfulness, whether in bud or bloom, symbol or substance, preliminary or fulfilment. The ardour does not vary. The action is adequate. The passion is pure.
What do you read in Hosea 11, but this at the outset, that God loved
And out of
§ “As they called them,
o So they went from them;
o They sacrificed to the Baals,
o And burned incense to carved images.
§ “I taught Ephraim to walk,
o Taking them by their arms;
o But they did not know that I healed them.
§ “I drew them with gentle cords,
o With bands of love,
o And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
§ “I stooped and fed them.”
There is the background to the ransom God performs in His Son (Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 9:1-7, Psalm 2), and it is in Him that one is to trust (Psalm 2:12), the exposure of the very face of God (II Corinthians 4:6) whose light is as commanded as was that physical light which tore through the darkness that it might be seen as such, and all things made manifest. The presence and presentation of that light is one of the vast aims of God, enormous specifications of spirituality, glorious expressions to mankind, and its beauty is this, that it is not cold, like some fluorescent beams, but warm and warming. What is shown of Christ towards the rich young ruler whose portentous ponderings on life were interrupted by his portfolio considerations of wealth ? This: HE LOVED HIM! (Mark 10:17-22). But when the ruler left, Christ did not run after Him, or even walk! Love is not possessive.
COMPREHENSION BY OPPOSITES
IS NOT APPOSITE –
PLUS DOES NOT MEAN MINUS, NEVER DID AND NEVER WILL
What was the cause of the love drawn forth from Christ ? It seems that the ruler’s diligent desire for the commandments and zealous seeking after them all his life was basic to it. Alas, the habit of obedience was not enlightened with the motif of love in the time of the young man’s challenge to find life, so that when this was focussed in isolation, he went from it. He went sorrowing, for he realised the loss through financial/social lust.
Love seeks the redemption of its object when it is lost; and what would one expect ? that it would calmly contemplate its loss without concern! So too it seeks good for its object. When therefore Jesus wept, in that shortest of the verses it is depicted, why was this so? It was because, as the people realised, He loved him, Lazarus, dead now and in the tomb! (John 11). Here was to be depicted and rehearsed the very resurrection of Christ Himself, with the same impelling love by His Father, when the time should come; with this difference, that that love was not redemptive, for in Christ there was nothing to redeem; and with this similarity, that love it all was, applied in the dimensions of resurrecting the sinner, or the Saviour Himself, that His salvation might be to all the earth, inflamed as with the colours of Spring, perfumed with her scents and outlaid with the source of her abundance.
Love was prepared to pay to redeem, to act to resurrect the redeemed, to face and overcome death in order to make the payment; but it did not stop there. It stooped without stopping to show this love in the very presence of personality, and even portraited that personality from itself, by having the Word of God made incarnate. In so doing, Christ is shown wishing redemption and life for His people, yes, but also that that they might have resident within themselves, in experience and dynamic, that same love of the Father with which He loved His Son.
Thus, in John 17 we find this, that Christ is praying that “the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” What HE has He is seeking to impart to them; the love of the Father for Him, He desires this for them! The love of God is not competitive, but dispersive: that is love. He is seeking that “they may be made perfect in one,” and why ?
It is for this reason: “That the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me!” He is not concerned about retention of priority, for His is an indisposable, indispensable and eternal immutability; but His desire is the dispersal of this love, not with pre-eminence but with ardent pursuit of its donation, not with parading power but with their exaltation in mind, and in this He exults. That, it is love: it does not make a parade, nor chat in specious charade, but eminently desires the good of its object.
Hence, loving them, He loved them to the end (John 13:1) and WHAT an end! If it takes that, it will be paid! It took that and it was paid in love. I, said Christ, and my Father are ONE! (John 10:30). They saw it, feeling it made Him equal with God, so seeking to stone Him: they were right, not in their perception of His intention, but in their response. God had so loved that He sent His Son as a Servant, and they had so contrived it in their hearts that they despised the love and delighted not at all in being its objective, only instead, in themselves.
What a farcical sin twist is this, that they resist and resent the love which is bent to straighten them, and scorn its impact, hating its donor and providing in the end, for His death in an ignominy amounting to passion. It reminds one of a patient detesting the doctor whose work despised, continues diseased as before.
Christ however continued till it was completed, to the end, both in the mission, the program of redemption, and in the love for His people. He did not expand it to include the world, the system of those who did not receive Him, this redemption, nor did He turn hurt from His rejection and its surreal recalcitrance. However, He did not limit it to those who were His in that generation, but expanding it to the whole of His creation, declared: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word…” (John 17:20).
So do we have that glorious equality between the totality of the creation, all things visible and invisible, in Colossians 1:15ff., and the redemptive proclivity and outreach, which follows in Colossians 1:19ff., one of the most manifest possible dramatic, verbal equivalents in scripture. ALL He created; ALL He would bring to reconciliation to Himself. To say otherwise, is flat contradiction of the Bible, distortion of the love of Christ, and attenuation of the scope of the Saviour’s passion and compassion.
Love is not constrictive or restrictive, except in reality in terms of restoration; for it is not posited where it is not preferred, and that is why THIS IS THE CONDEMNATION, “that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” – John 3:19. It was not limited because it felt like being limited; this is the precise opposite of the affirmation. It was embracive of the world, but the world was not embracive of it; and in the face of such love, the condemnation is read out accordingly that it was the human preference for darkness which constitutes the divine ground of condemnation despite the celestial compassion, even to the uttermost.
Does God then so love that He does nothing to penetrate that darkness ? Is this then the message ? The precise opposite (John and Chs. 1-3 cf. The Kingdom of Heaven … Ch. 4). DESPITE a love embracive of the world, and in the face of it, so that ANYONE who believes does NOT perish, which is the stated outcome sought, there is a contrary episode in man which does not like this love. It does not want it.
It is this which is the ground of condemnation, not a secret counsel affirmed in utter denial of Colossians 1, I Timothy 2 and John’s Gospel, to note just a few. Did then God really mean that He did NOT so love the world that He gave so that anyone who believed should not perish, but that He so loved a part of the world that if He chose to liberate anyone’s mind by mere will, without respect to the affirmed scope of the love, that anyone on whom He so operated would be saved ? That is not at all what is written.
Delighting to DO what the Father DESIRED, He did it in one Spirit with one heart, locked in an incandescence of love in which purity and truth, peace and joy inhered, as mountains in a range, crested with Alpine lake, covered with the snows of purity, with the azure skies above, filmed with the mist as of compassion, looking down with a serenity that seems paternal: but with God, this is precisely what it is.
WHY are some condemned ? STATEDLY it is because of their preference. WHAT is the attitude of God ? STATEDLY it is one of so loving the world that the case provides for the difference. God is not a liar, and it is impossible for Him to lie (Titus 1:2 cf. SMR Ch. 1, Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 8, Repent or Perish Ch. 2, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 - 7).
How sad it is that so many, so perversely wanting to PROTECT the sovereignty of God, which NEEDS NO PROTECTION for it is just as absolute as His love, make His love to be short-circuited and His statements to be contravened! Of course, it is in one way, quite as sad that others so short-circuit if it were possible, the sovereignty of God, that salvation is made a consequence of a mode of the human heart at some moment, of the vast scope attributed to the damaged and sinful human will, when this is JUST AS SECURELY denied in the Bible, just as expressly, just as explicitly, as in Romans 9:16, John 1:12, John 15.
YOU did NOT choose Me, I chose you, said Christ. NOT of him who wills, say Paul. Born NOT of the flesh or the will of man, says John.
Why is it that the clearest of words
are in a thing called theology so often made into utter wastelands, as if a
Boeing 767 were smashed into them, to destroy the twin towers of TRUTH! It is
the sin of man. God does not need help in articulation: HE SAYS what He means, that
He would have ALL to be reconciled whether in heaven or on earth! (cf. Predestination
and Freewill, Tender Times for Timely Truths
And that ? it is equally categorically affirmed that it is BY HIM, by Christ, and not another, that this must be done, implemented, this passion given its fashion and this fullness its income: it is by this love and by this practical expression of it in redemption, not by some other way (Galatians 6:14, Colossians 1:22ff.).
God is not thwarted in His heart by not forcing what He does not wish to force, for it would mean abdication from love, and distortion of its very being, which being His own, is a sort of spiritual suicide! He is entirely sovereign; man is entirely dependent on God’s entirely gratuitous grace for his salvation, and none of His own are lost. As shown in Predestination and Freewill and Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 11, so far from these facts constituting, with all the rest of the scriptural revelation on this topic, a problem, they provide the ONLY solution and in their principles, the ONLY POSSIBLE solution to what philosophy could never solve, the relationship between human responsibility and will, and divine sovereignty and power. Further the ‘solution’ being simply reality, has all the choice loveliness of flowers, the chaste beauty of grace and the tender-heartedly reality that is His from eternity.
It is not now however this glorious harmony and symphony of divinity that we pursue, but another: the effectiveness of this love of God, when received, and the necessity for its reception for the mere continuation of human life. Hell is not merely a censure, a judgment; it is the negative summit, the inverted mountain of folly, the end of the way marked, without the God of Revelation in Person in Christ, and in writing in the Bible, without the God of Redemption and the Creator, the Truth.
The consistency and coherence of all these things is to be found on all sides, in all ways, merely awaiting, like some flower farm, the attention to be placed in order to reward the enquirer with the solicitous savour of the beauties of holiness, of God.
THE PLUS THAT NONPLUSSED THE DEVIL AND DELIGHTS THE SOUL
Let us look at Peter in an early phase of his spiritual career.
Thus when Peter –
Ø as far from the renegade papacy as it is possible to conceive anything, the papacy of primacy, its very name, its ‘fatherhood’ so forbidden (Matthew 23:10-12), in words as clear as those on the scope of the love of God and the sovereignty, the purity of the one and the probity of the other –
Ø when this apostle falls into self-expression and novel concepts, he is not left alone, as the pope is, alas, for in non-reception of the rule of the revelation God has given (cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H), there is no alternative.
Not so was it with Peter. On the contrary, while James and John had an excursion which, however tinged or even impelled with devotion, did not limit itself to the mode of love, as we have seen (Mark 10:35-36), and erred, Peter did it in more practical terms. Each erred, whether in one way or the other, and each was corrected by Christ.
What appears to be the essence of
Peter’s mistaken protestation to Christ,
from the text in Matthew ? This.
Ø The CROSS ? Oh Lord, this is far from you, says the misled apostle to Christ, his Master and Saviour, the LORD! (Matthew 16:21-23). YOU on a cross ? YOU dying in the hands of sinful men as you have JUST SAID is to happen ? Not at all. Let me set you straight, put you right, orient you better, says the apostle to the Lord.
It is humorous, to be sure; but severely dangerous, eminently perilous. Better alive is Christ, in the sight of the fond disciple, dispensing good, performing miracles, doing the undoable in the power of the Sovereign God, showing a love inimitable, a total truth and reality otherwise unthinkable among the sons of men, indeed being the Son of man because the Son of God, so wrought by the Father into mankind: continuing like this, it is better that than merely dying. That seems to be the apostle’s mistaken thought.
If followed, this counsel of Peter, would however have removed two things: the payment of redemption and the power of the resurrection, annulling the counsel, as predictively exposed, of deity, and exposing man to nothing more than damnation. The result would have been a work damaging to love, intolerable to truth its companion, and rejected by Christ. As the living word of God, He would not rescind His call and the cause of His coming. He HAD DONE one part, in making manifest the love, power, purpose and nature of God; He would not fail in the other. God does not fail. He says so, He does so (Zephaniah 3:5).
This indeed is therefore one of the most vast of all verifications, for as God sketched out what He would do, so He did it. It was hard. It was excruciating and humiliating, and the great may find that too much; but not God. He said it, for centuries, and then did it for all time. Had those snarling Sadducees beaten Him in the verbal contest, the seething Pharisees in the scurrilous censures, had the power of His declarations as in the healing of Mark 2, failed just once, then God would have filed. Had Christ, crying, If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me … LET is pass, then God would have filed, the scripture would have failed, His word would have failed; poetry would replace clinical practicality and the world would be lost.
God however NEVER fails; and the lost world NEVER has ANY excuse, but only the light to reject, as it will, for its own ruin.
As to the Lord, He passed His own test, and in showing man the power of God, He showed also His reliability in word and deed.
But not die ?
Let us endeavour to follow further the more subtle enterprise by which Satan sought at that late stage, through Peter of all people, to overcome Christ. Die ? Most unfitting, look at the good you can do. How many have felt this in the purely spiritual realm, the physical apart, deciding that no, they will not become Christians, for the loss of autonomy, of wealth or of prestige (and at certain times in history, yes, of life), what is the point of that ? So they try to save their lives, ignorant of the love of God, sees refusing germination, designed for life, designate now to rot.
What, then, the apostle to come, Peter seems to have been musing, what is the power of death ? Why, Jesus, should you go on that route ? Listen to me: we NEED you. Don’t go on with this dying project.
Death ? Can it confer blessing ? Will it help the sick ? Will death bring life ? Surely Christ, you must be wrong, thinks the apostle, and this concept of dying among the hateful sinners, the odious theologies of corruption, the vehement despisers of you ways, Christ, this is no work of love, no place for purity! What put one’s dog into the paws of a leopard ? Put one’s funds into the hands of a corrupt financier ? By all means, but NEVER put yourself, Jesus into the hands of men, far less those elders and chief priests.
These as Christ Himself would say (Matthew 23) were whited sepulchers, tombs of spiritual death made to appear majestic, but veritable slums of the spirit. Such seems to have been the direction of thought of Peter, mercifully not some ‘sovereign’ and thus contra-biblical pope, but a delightful fisherman READY to learn, to be rebuked, to find his own weaknesses and leave to Christ the Mastery which by His own claim, and by His deity, could be and was His own alone. It was not of course a self-affirmation, but an affirmation of His Father who sent Him, who in turn affirmed Him whom He sent, calling Him His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, again and again, and that from heaven to earth, just as He had come from heaven to the earth.
Thus Christ corrected Peter, any ‘papacy’, teaching authority on his own right, in his own name, was as outré here as absurd in any case, and so Peter became the one whose next weakness, this too, would be corrected, even when he actually three times running, denied that he so much as KNEW Christ! As Christ corrected the one group, James and John, so Peter also. He after all, alone is God and Lord, and He alone rules, so that to add to His words, or attempt the mastery of others, instead of simply being their brothers in the case of Christians, this is the way of daft deafness (Matthew 23:8-10), of blind contempt, continued from the scribes and Pharisees to this day.
However our present concern, seeing these tests of Christ, and temptations of some of His disciples, is to consider the transforming beauty of the power of the Lord, WHEN and AS they simply abided in Him, not seeking greatness by His side, or to instruct Him with some erratic teaching authority such as papacy and sects alike have poured out into the generations since Christ’s day on earth, just as He indicated (Matthew 24:24).
What then of Peter ?
Peter’s intensity, his love for Christ, his boldness were so delightful. However he had to learn that the love even for Christ must bow to the will of Christ, as He bowed to the will of His Father, for GOD SO LOVED the world that He GAVE, not alone the picture of truth, not only the pinnacle of spiritual power, not just the purity of personality, in Christ, His only begotten Son (Luke 1:35), but even to the death He gave, Christ as the vicarious sacrifice for sin. God did not want man to lie murdered by the madness of iniquity, forever wallowing like some poorly built, but more to the purpose, wrongly handled craft in the midst of the seas.
As to Christ, He
Ø sent in a rescue team of one,
Ø paid a rescue price of one redemption,
Ø displayed the rescue authenticity in one resurrection, as in the preliminaries of that power in the life of Christ, and
Ø sent forth one Holy Spirit to accomplish His good purposes until His return.
Ø He came as indicated;
Ø He passed all tests as prophetically prescribed, to the last intimate detail; importantly, indeed vitally, He maintained a love to the end, for how would love cease to be love, endued with eternity and displayed on earth;
Ø He deployed His resources in word and wit, to overturn all captious, carping critics, in tableau or putation, and
Ø He did it all till it ended, and then ending the end,
Ø He brought life into the eyes of His friends, covering the raising of Lazarus, dead of sickness, with His own resurrection, dead of hate and the nails of preference for darkness, dark nails of dark design, deftly inserted as a testimony to the heart of man.
Christ ? He would GIVE in LOVE whatever it took to deliver man from his own willful, crafty, ill-crafted ways and bring him back to reason, to righteousness, to reality, to Himself indeed.
HOW would He so give ?
By bearing the penalty Himself.
WHO would then bear it ? (cf. Psalm 49:7,15). Not some commissariat (with dachas at the Black Sea), not some uppity talk at Downing St., or some columned mansion in Washington, not in Tokyo’s screeching property prices, seething upward or scurrying downwards, not in the diseased communings of devil worship, not by trances or dreams, not by commission to investigate, or by precepts alone: for God would do it Himself, investing flesh with His eternal word, and then having it made the carrion for carrying sin.
Peter therefore was wrong. Christ rebuked him. Peter took it because Christ is Lord, and Truth, and love has ways of its own; and the love of God is at peace with truth and justice and compassion and mercy all at once. But notice now the apostle Peter. His leadership was untainted with self-elevation, his heart was tender who had been made more tender by rebuke, yes and by the effect of a look from Christ, when he actually denied His Lord, and this after blustering and picking up his sword to protect Him (again! –as in Matthew 26:31ff.,69ff., Luke 22:61). How Peter wept at that look! What tenderness was in it, and what truculence of truth continued in the steadfast eye of the One to be scourged, erect, undissembling, virtuous, implacable in love.
But what of Peter ? He DID love; though he had failed not once, but twice, and both times very badly. There is love, that is willing to be corrected by a look; for a small thing will influence one ready more than a 100 lashes, the self-willed and spiritually opaque. Peter wept, for he loved the Lord, not himself or his elevation or his primacy or any other seething psychic splendour to which the flesh is heir. He was willing to be corrected, remoulded, inspired all over again, and resume his walk and work with the Lord. Better a faithful man, however many his faults, than incorrigible perfection that parades its pride.
Then again in John 21 you see it, this change, and the horizons of it, as it swept in from the ocean vastnesses of the love of His Lord for him. John and Peter had run to the tomb, but perceptive John, himself much chastened by this time from earlier ways, realised the resurrection while at first Peter WONDERED. When Christ re-commissioned Peter, with what tact and what depth He persisted, using different words (in the Greek – John -18), in seeking answer to the question: DO YOU LOVE ME ? How apt to ask, since frank and rank denial that he so much as knew Christ in time of danger and of Christ’s own supreme test, this is no normal accompaniment of love!
But the Lord did love Peter, saw through and past his errors, and using him as simply one of the brethren, not a potentate, restored him, who later had again to be corrected, but did not die for that! (cf. Galatians 2:14ff.). THAT was the point. GOD IS LOVE, and without this, there is nothing to do with Him! (I John 4). Peter loved the Lord his God and was willing to be pardoned, to repent, to find better ways, and to travel no more the downward path which had tricked and trapped him.
Our point here now appears. PETER’s sanctification, his change of nature, his moulding by the Spirit (cf. II Corinthians -18), his indelible coloration, his modelling in the way of His master, is a vast and utter change. Look at I Peter 5, and you do not find someone about to sit on the right or left hand, in the manner of the earlier John, or about to delimit for God the way of salvation as if some pope! Not at all, nothing could be further from his way. HE IS “ALSO” AN ELDER! He tells the OTHER elders things, as if he had listened when Christ said, DO NOT CALL ANYONE MASTER, or FATHER, for GOD is your Father and CHRIST is your Master. Can they not read ? Peter could listen. Do not be lords over God’s heritage, he says in this 5th chapter. He had learnt how to avoid the mere presence and pressure of opinion, in favour of the very word of God.
It is time many others did so likewise. SO the beautiful spectacle of NOT being lords over the LORD’s heritage comes in, most necessary and most critical, crucial indeed, in I Peter 5. Act as those to give account, be faithful, reasonable, SHEPHERD them, and don’t drive them: this is his instruction to the elders. How does he give it ? as a fellow elder.
Surely Peter was to write in the inspiration of God (as in I Peter 1:10ff. and II Peter 1:16ff.), when so given, and that was one facet and function; just as John was to write far more, and Paul an amazing amount further still. This role in being, like the prophets of old, deposit stations for the deposit of the faith did not alter their humanness, or their own capacity to err in their own private lives, or even on occasion in judgment.
Notice in this connection with Paul’s affliction of the eyes (II Corinthians 12) where three times he sought deliverance, and the Lord did not remove it, since the visions and powers given to Paul had to be tempered, not in their reality, but in their personal impact, lest he should become exalted. THAT is the word: sanctification is necessary in all, whether apostles or prophets or healers or administrators, and woe to that one who allows the functionality which God supplies in the power of the Holy Spirit to become an excuse for the slightest pomp or self-importance, as if judgment rested or was vested in you or even your group, by some sort of divine right: God is the wright, and we are the things to be moulded.
The use of gifts in no way enables or renders proper, the distortion of the life of the one to whom the donation is made. God is love. He does not use power to destroy, but to build!
Thus do we see in these instances the sheer wonder of the spiritual surgery of Christ, as His people are moulded into the ways of the Master, not manufactured by specifications, but led into love by truth.
Here lies one of the greatest depths of the ways of God, that He can not only create, and not only redeem, but sanctify, and that not by prison and propaganda, as is the way of Communism, Islam in so many ways, of Romanism, of various sects and world-rule aspirations among mankind. This is not His mode; for He acts in love, with grace, in compassion, with relish and the sheer penetrating laser of life. In His light we see light (Psalm 36:9), because it is there to be seen!
Making life for man, He remakes it; and remaking it, He sanctifies it. He does not brutalise it, force it, but forges it, not on an anvil of totalitarian control, but in the friendly fashioning of His beauty of holiness, with appeals, exhortations and example, with longsuffering and discipline, never too severe, with grandeur of heart and implacable integrity of thought, with wisdom and the wholesomeness of truth. “The lie” (II Thessalonians -11) cannot afford this, and so does not, nor is this way known there.
Thus do His people also share in the sufferings of Christ, for if He has to teach, they to learn; if He came to redeem, they are moved to be remoulded; as He used power, so they receive it in His service, for His purposes, like a composition, with all paragraphs in order, and the point at the end. And what is the end, and what do you find in these apostles, as also in Stephen, in Paul ?
Let the latter tell us as we also see it occur:
“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience and from sincere faith…” (I Timothy 1:5).
The COMMAND is from the Lord, for He is God.
v The purpose at once embraces love, for God is love.
v A pure heart is incomparable felicity, for without it the waters are muddy and the peace of the lake is not seen, nor its serenity and delight experienced as in truth man is made to experience them, in that love of God.
v A good conscience is the alternative to faulty motives, mixed machinations and fouled pursuits, known or unknown; for it is not as a means, but as an end that God works in all who are His.
Sincere faith is as important to the Christian as is the umbilical cord to the baby.
It is the connection to the source.
Is it then left to the psychological situations of man to kept it intact ?
Not at all. Man is no more able to cut it than is the baby in the womb. Faith is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and saving faith is one of the donations of deity (Matthew 16:17, John 6:65), and once given, with Christ its object, salvation its platform and the cross of Christ its focus, His resurrection its lead, it can no more be vanquished, quenched or smothered than the sun by a butterfly (John 10:27-28, I Thess. 5:9-10). YOU come, HE keeps; and indeed, it is only by His grace that you CAN come; and it is only by His predestination that you DO come; but that predestination, yes you have guessed it, it is IN LOVE, for God IS love, and mere time no more distorts that time that does a leaf distort stainless steel struts.
The knowledge that surpasses time no more obliterates the reality of what occurs in time than it does the words spoken in time: as HE IS, so God has chosen, and as WE ARE, so He knows us, and as to Him, He does not change whether in the character of Christ on earth or before all time; nor does He elect quiddities, but people; and this neither for their merits in any regard, nor for their superiorities with X-factors of God-suitability, a nascent superiority (cf. Chapter 1, *2), but in the way love acts, when it is the love of God, neither subverting nor submitting, but penetrating in truth with the mercy, where it is fitting to be placed, with love where it is received. It is He who knows all, and as He is, so He acts.
There is no mystery in the love of God in this, that to all is His love first directed, and where received, it is never lost; for it is not a passing mode or mood, when God begets a spiritual child through the redemption in Christ, but an unsurpassable gift, unsearchable in depth, illimitable in time and beyond our time, the work of a Father who has added to His family, and though men may rob children of earthly families, those who can rob the family of God do not exist. Their ‘seed’ remains in them, as physiologically in the parallel, it also does in a family, as I John 3:9 teaches.
In love is the knowledge of God, in truth His peace; but it is not, as Peter had to be taught, an undifferentiated ‘love’, as if a word were God; for the very word of God has defined His love (and who or what else would be able to do so), a love which refuses in the end, to co-exist with sin, but insists in the meantime on doing what it takes to prepare a place for man. This, it is for those of our race, even one by one, everyone who receives the Saviour Himself (John 5:39-40, 14:1-3, 1:12-14, Acts 4:11-12), the perfect expression of God; for of what use is it to be married to a picture which is not the original, or to an imagination which is mere dream, or for that matter, to a photograph when it does not represent the person concerned!
God has acted, and man has reacted. It is only in the love as defined by God, expressed by God, actualised by God into a Cross and a Resurrection, not as symbols of truth, but as truth which men may symbolise perhaps in the Lord’s Supper, and exemplify in their deeds, yes and in the VERY SPIRIT of those deeds, with true humility as servants, not tricky time-servers: it is only in this that man lives.
There is no other life but His; and even attempt to duplicate, replicate, refurbish, revise, disturb, replace leads to idiocies so terrible that if this world has a reputation, it is not one that any sane person would want to share. It loves its ways, and its ways are those of death (James 4:4), self-seeking in defiance of the reality of creation, striving for effect more than truth, for ‘success’ more than spirituality, for placement more than spiritual harbour, for power more than godliness and in so doing, losing all power except to deceive, distort and disturb their own souls, their world and their destiny.
It is all written, in the book of life, in the book of history, in the book of the Lord, the Bible, in the publication of Christ, in the application of His words, whether to history, as in fulfilled prophecy, or in sanctification, as in those who truly serve Him, whose witness strides across the globe, like the shadow of a cloud, on which the sun plays, which moves like an army across the terrain. As it was to be, so it is, and as it is, so it will continue until He comes, and the warnings for that, they are profuse, like cloud of locusts beneath the sun. You did not notice ? It is not eyesight but eyes that are then needed (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
Here then is knowing God, the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection, at work in the hearts of men, in the paths of history, in the accumulations of His works through His people over time, in the fellowship of the saints over all time, in the sanctity of truth and the peace which passes all understanding. Without it, the race in renegacy from the truth, while aspiring to endless seeming wars (as predicted in Matthew 24:7, Revelation 6, 19), without any understanding at all, mistakes its true opponent and seeks only to rule man. Not thus is Christ ruled, for His kingdom is not of this world; and the prince of this world has no part at all in Him (John ).
As for this world it CANNOT be rescued; it WILL NOT be sanctified and is not EVEN CONVERTED! As well seek to shine a candle into an abyss in order to find its base, as deliver this world from its ways. It is INTO this world that Christ came, that people who are His may FOLLOW Him, in the end, out of it.
It is not even possible for each to strive without divine plan from the Designer, imagining or acting as if dreaming that his welfare, her glory, his aspirations, her dreams must be true, because it is their own, or those of this nation, of some other compilation from uncomprehending will, or that. It can and does only lead to carnal and contentious strife and smitings; and now, with its empty opinings without God the Maker, the cultures of this world could obliterate the world: a fact which should have been obvious from the first, from Cain, and is now made manifest so that a 10 year old can conceive the thing.
Unsanctified selves with power in a limited world cannot work. It is good to be individual, for we are so made; it is madness to be individualistic, as if your self were your own saviour, your thought your own governor and your god your own being; for it is not so.
You were made, designed, and deliberately divesting yourself, in thought’s imaginary autonomies from your design specifications is bad enough; but when to this is added the arrogation of the inventor’s privileges, it is not less than demented, spiritually so: for there is nothing so devious as the heart of man, and nothing so misdirected as his own direction. It is not in man who walks to direct his steps, says Jeremiah, nor is it in man to ignore his responsibility. In his own right, realm, domain (albeit one invented by another, fashioned and fabricated for another purpose, one of exquisite harmony and unelaborated truth), man is like a mad hatter in his castle. The lead of his soul has gone to his head. IN the end, the castle cannot protect him.
The corruption lies within. So the world wearily picks up its departing steps, like a lost child, meandering; then like a drunken adolescent, raucously and relentlessly seizing this and that; then like a terrorist, acclaiming ‘divine’ rights to anything and everything including the lives of others, as though eyes had been denied, and sight was deleted; then like someone senescent, dreamily evaluating morals without God, as if wants could sanctify goodness into existence, or definition could create truth: so it goes. It has not much further to go. It learns the lessons of means, and squanders the necessities of ends, and making its own ends, ends.
In this vagary, the more you know, the less you stay. So it is with this ravaged world. When you know God, you know enough, and there is no end to the wonder of His wisdom, giving light to all things (cf. Psalm 43:3, 97:11, 36:9); and when you do not, you are bathed in such ignorance that it is dangerous to be about. That is what the world is finding out; but for several millennia, it has been told , and told how it will end. Daniel had pithy words (cf. Daniel 12), as did Isaiah (cf. 24, 51) and Christ articulated the nature of its end (Matthew 24, Luke 21). But it does not heed, nor hear, nor concern itself, except with its predicted fears and tensions, distress and anxieties, its disquietude and its demands.
Christ predicted that unless HE returned, the world could not continue, or rather, flesh within it could not do so (Matthew 24:22). But it does not listen, achieving its deafness with great knowledgeability, and theorems so simplistically surreal as to constitute for all time, its judgment (cf. Spiritual Refreshings 6, 13, 16, Wake Up World Chs. 4-6, Earth Spasm… Chs. 1, 7). Perversion of body, of mind and of soul mount like volcanoes, rising from the tormented surface, the stricken energies erupting instead of flowing in peace from a stable basis.
It is a peculiar but not wonderful feature of this world that it cannot learn. It does not desire humility except as time-serving substitute for spirituality, truth except as ground for ambition, peace except as place for pre-eminence or for the indulgence of self, a throne for Satan or splendour, the imaginations of its own heart, as if God who made it were its enemy; and so it becomes the chief enemy of itself, not deficient in power to destroy, only in power to continue, or to know the truth (cf. Matthews 24:12-14,22ff., Luke 21:20-28.
The Jews are back in
The world however is not back in its right mind. Payment has been made for the redemption, but it is one by one (cf. Zechariah 12:10ff., John 3:16), and when people will not pick up the cheque for their pardon by price paid in Christ, then no price is paid, for God knows the ways of His funds (Romans 8:32, Isaiah 53:3-6) and the hearts of His people. Each cheque therefore is individually designed, received and credited (II Corinthians -21).
As Isaiah 53 shows so clearly, with Romans 8:32 no less, those paid for are healed, and those not healed, stay sick. What Hospital Benefits scheme is like this, that the sick do not want their own private room, but rejoice with passion in their debilities, and relish the absence of the surgeon, despising all medicine, even that ‘medicine of immortality’, the blood, the devoted and sacrificial life of the oblation and offering, Christ Jesus Himself. His riches, offered to all, are receipted only by some; and there is no loss in the divine riches, for those whose squandering is merely for spiritual adventurism, hollow hope or the devices of doubt; and rather do these find their treading under foot the blood of Christ, an act for their own eternal loss (Hebrews 10:29-31).
The scope of the blood is as wide as the blood, but its payment as narrow as those on His path; and if all are most vigorously invited (cf. Matthew 22), many most rigorously refuse. There is however loss on the earth, the soul that prefers darkness to light, and as to that, it is there that its condemnation lies (John ).
It was a great game; but the game in the end, is up! It is best to know the Maker, and to find in Him, the reasons for the game, and to deliver yourself from the treason of mischievous maligning of the truth. That, it is no game.