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I have heard the view expressed that although God is there all right, the girl to whom I spoke did not happen to like Him! Differently put, it has been said:
WHY SHOULD I WANT ETERNAL LIFE?
God is, God offers, His offer is true, but there is someone who does not want Him anyway
1. If you have life, and do not like it, is that any criterion for judging all possibilities, God included, who being more than a possibility deserves special attention!
2. If you do not like life, in any case, is it certain that
a) it is not your own fault and
b) you are living it the way it should be lived.
Thus if you buy a Jaguar motor car, and do not like it, it could be on account of your not understanding its features, knowing where they are, how to conserve them, the service procedures and so on.
It would be far from irrational to check the hand-book, the relevant garage and even perhaps... the car, to check its condition. You would not normally, with such an abundance of GOOD testimonies concerning Jaguar cars, simply ASSUME that nothing could or would or even should be done, so junking it, or high-handedly forsaking all questions of its service requirements, mode of driving and so on.
3. If you do not like life, perhaps you could find a CHANGE. If you are bad tempered, you could try a different mode, or even consider why it is so, whether it is good, and in what way to change it. Often one fault will spoil the entire feel of a car, the entire impact of a personality ... won't it!
4. If you feel the world is not good enough, with all its wickedness and vice and squalor of mind, body and spirit, then have you considered your own contribution? A ditch may be a place to fall into, a place to clear or a place to avoid, even a place of which to warn people. There are ways of treating ditches of which NOT LIKING them is perhaps not the most conspicuously clever or sound or wise.
5. But you may like life, merely feeling your own version is hopeless, or undesirable, unfair or whatever - even irreparably spoiled because one thing or a series of things happened to you.
In that case, is it necessary to assume this is fatal? In most cases it is far from extraordinarily difficult to solve the problem, given goodwill, power and a proper source of spiritual supplies.
6. Have you then looked for a place for such supplies?
7. If not, look. Why not? Do you normally quit without effort?
8. If you have looked, WHERE have you looked? My SMR (The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Christian trilogy) has shown along with the other volumes on this Web site, that the place to look is the Bible, the Person to whom to look is Jesus Christ, and the way to look is with faith, repentance and a receiving heart, towards His offer.
9. But you may say: I HAVE looked, DO understand what is offered, saw it in your That Magnificent Rock, Chapters 2 and 3, at this very site. However I do NOT WANT the life Jesus Christ offers, the knowledge of God this brings, the pardon of sins or the spiritual power and peace which exists in His presence among His friends. This has no interest for me; no interest at all!
This is true. It is precisely here that I wish to consider in more depth, the position such a person - possibly yourself - would be taking.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
That in essence is the complaint. WHY? If you fail a student in a test, it is not because you do not like the student, but because the skill/knowledge/presentation is not good enough. You have grounds, criteria. Now with your own life, are there then criteria by which you determine that it is not good enough.
Oh! you may say. I did not mean that at all. My life is fine - considering. I MEANT that GOD is not good enough, so that should I have to spend an eternity with Him, THAT would not be satisfactory.
Is it possible to ask, with adequate propriety, WHY? Why do you say so?
If so, if reason has any place at all, let us proceed.
WHY would anyone
not be good enough for one's company?
It could be that
his STANDARDS are too low; or that
his reliability is too poor; or that
his concern is too selfish; or that
his dynamic is too meagre; or that
his heart is too miserable; or that
he has no warmth; or that
he is dishonest; or that
he makes you feel inferior, because of real/imagined virtues or powers?
What then? Since none of the above deficiencies apply to God, and all virtues in contrast, are eminently His, pre-eminently indeed, let us look at one which might be at least rationally pondered further - the last case cited. He makes you feel inferior. You may wish to express that - I want to do naughty things and I don't want the teacher around; or the Creator about! Perhaps, but why? What is naughty, since we are getting back to obviously developmental days, in order to remind ourselves that development does not stop!
Why be 'naughty'? Oh you may say, that word merely means that my standards differ from his, and he is the one who sets himself up to judge what is right and wrong.
In what way do you standards differ? You approve perhaps of murder, of theft, or adultery so that another person may be cheated, or mutual exercise of adultery by agreement among married couples for fun, and find there is no fun in being pure in your faithfulness to the one whose children are shared with you! That may be so; but it is hardly defensible, for since both share in the production of the children, it is not to ask much to return the compliment to the children, from their production to their maintenance, and lend a hand in the same specificity as in production, in bringing them up.
After all, it is exceedingly hard to find ways in which THEY will be advantaged by complex living and breeding arrangements brought about by people who do NOT love each other, but yet share the child; or who SAY they love each other, but not particularly much.
But you may say: I WANT to do as I please, and that is that.
True, it is just that you were not made for that - we are discussing people who just do not like GOD, or the sort of life He prescribes; and hence do not WANT eternal life; since it is more of what IS the case, and what they do not WANT.
Is it defensible to insist on living in a way for which you were not made? If a car did that, insisting on being an aeroplane, would that be wise? It would be mere wilful folly, a thankless, graceless, ungrateful pre-occupation with what is not, so that what is, becomes neglected.
Yet you may insist: GOD does not have the record I can admire, want or value.
Yes? Why? Perhaps He should have made you still more amazingly wonderful than He did? Why? Is that ground, because your construction is beyond anything we can do, to a staggering degree, that you insist on being yet more amazing?
Perhaps He should have left you alone to use your equipment, which He made, any old way, irrespective of design specifications and use-by dates? But that is mere infantility, childish tantrums. The real point is this: CAN YOU really criticise the way God did it, and have any sound grounds for despising the life He has made, so that to ditch it is the preferred option! CAN you rationally ask more than this, that He should sacrifice Himself, majesty in meekness, purity for pollution, and offer healing of all the diseases of the soul? Record, beat that!
Briefly, now, I propose to show that you cannot rationally ask more
than this. Fantasy is what it is: fact oblivious. We are however looking at
what is, to study the case. We are also of course in this case proceeding on
these parameters: the Bible is true, Christ is authentic, you
are a sinner and your have your own will. It is of course damaged by your
internal pollutions, external impacts and subject to the slaveries of sin,
which do not have the grace to provide neat tags to advise you. That is only
one of the difficulties of trusting in yourself ... in
HIS GOODNESS IS WONDERFUL,
JUST AS IT GIVES GOODNESS ITS NAME
In fact, it is God who gives goodness its name. If there were no God, then each being would be what it was, in a sea of circumstance, no mind to think the thoughts, possess the principles that are THERE: present, merely our resultant reactions. What would goodness BE? A preference of an object, a mental dash of a subject, an idiosyncrasy of the wishes of a reactor, a thrust of an existential wisp, which was merely an outcome of what it was; and what would it be, but matter in motion. Nor could matter so be by itself - but that is not our present topic, but that of SMR Ch.1. It could not be 'good' as objectively superior, sound, excellent, evoking due wonder: merely desired.
GOOD? This ideal, this principle, this looking beyond what one is, this esteem for what produces... what? What OUGHT to be, what is the DESIGN need, what is the SOUND resultant, what BEFITS the realities, the correct potential development, the due interests, the just concerns of what it is, the highest achievement of what is.
Yet what is just, due, sound, the highest, what ought to be ? THIS: what God is, for He as Creator has constituted all these things for His creation, and placed them in His care, profound in His comprehension and without parallel in His creativity. Our concern has been this: to show that as Creator He is not only the source of goodness, but incomparable as such, in quality.
Rationally, nothing greater is conceivable. No potential has power to compete. Made in His image, fit for His fellowship, met by His sacrifice, man can only soar without Him, by deceiving himself as to the nature of his equipment, which CANNOT make him God, and CANNOT evacuate him from the place of God's creation, can merely evacuate him from their power, purity and splendour.
In Him, however, reality has its meter, its measure, and - for the souls of men, its LOVE, and where this is met, its LORD. But without this? He still rules, but is not known. Simply that. And what is the good of that ? It is a divesting of reality, an investing of degeneration, a pathway to the tip. Tips have their place: there is no doubt of that. The question is this: IS it YOUR place? You can say that it is. HE however has said enough, and done enough, and displayed enough, and demonstrated enough to make tips the choice of inverted fantasy, passion for the outraged who have no GROUND for it, only CHOICE, which, indeed, is theirs, and in this only in the end, the choice to act as if the tip were choice, to prefer the darkness of decay - in splendid isolation, but not from reality, merely from redemption and light. But now let us attend to the realities in order.
1. God is gracious: He does not willingly afflict the children of men as Lamentations 3 tells us. Hence if you are afflicted, it is for a reason.
This could be
a) that you are in need of purification.
b) that you need development in patience, gentleness, understanding.
c) you are an illustration of what you stand for, working out slowly (to you) what it really amounts to.
d) you need chastening, in view of your conduct.
e) you decline to separate yourself from sins of culture, society, your family, your past, and hence inherit them, perhaps in somewhat cyclotronic form.
These are examples.
Is there reason to despise life because you abuse it, refuse to purify it, insist on a polluted version?
If you were a Christian - or are - then of course you might be an example of reality, in that, like Job, despite your loss of many pleasurable things, your love is shown sincere, authentic, genuine, and in the interim, your heart is given grace. Love is like that. It does not mind showing its desire to be good; because it is.
2. God is longsuffering (II Peter 3:9). He can tolerate almost incredible slippage, but not systematic slackness. Do you?
3. God is not 'superior' but was willing to experience at first-hand are humble condition (Philippians 2): for although ours is a fantastic piece of multi-form and layered equipment, replete with floors, stations and programs, as well as will, it IS vulnerable without God; and subject to pain and harassment even when we walk with Him - sometimes for reasons to be found in the above.
Hence there is no charge of aloof impersonality. GOD IS personality, in the deepest sense of a person; and more than that, beyond even family, He is a fellowship of persons (John 8:58, Matthew 28:19, II Corinthians 1:1-22,13:14, 3:17-18).
4. God is not unloving, as if viewing like a socialist programmer, the technicalities of want and need and greed and feed. He CARES for His people, and hence, when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. His desire is to make the unlovely, lovely, the seedy sanctified, the self-centred realistic... realistic? Yes.
If you are self-centred - and that strictly means that you see everything from the heights of your own self, the basement of your own reality, the nerve-centre of your own construction, with the ambits and ambitions of what is for you as distinct and contradistinct from anyone and everyone and anything and everything else: then that is a lie. You are NOT the centre, and to act as if you were is illusion.
Now here we come on a different principle. If you WANT illusion, lie, fraud, duplicity, fantasy in conflict with the facts, so be it.
THAT has its own place. Christ said that the devil was a liar and the source of it, or the father of it; that some prefer darkness and that THIS IS their condemnation. IF that is your preference, then the case is closed. You really DO - no kidding - want fraud, lies, deceit and so forth. Well, you CAN have them. They ARE available, and their generic name is garbage. THAT is what Gehenna is really all about - the slowly burning refuse dump, where denatured products move along the joint road of destruction and condemnation, a mess of ruin.
In the case of spiritual beings, it is not quite so simple. There is an everlasting shame attached. You have an eternal, a spiritual significance and there is no escaping that. It is for this reason that we discuss it: it HAS meaning, significance, consequence, a place, an avenue to placement, to categorisation.
Yet, that is your CHOICE. You want it, you have it. GOD however allows the way of escape. You WANT life, you have it in Christ. The cost of reconstruction is too great to be paid by anyone not infinite by nature. He paid it; and it applies, this payment to all who ever come to Him, since His own were chosen "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4).
5. God is not unreasonable. You do NOT want this escape, chosen or not. It does not interest you, you spit it out! So be it. Yet if you at any time DO want it, it is there. If you want it, it is God who shows mercy, and the offer is real: walk in through the front door, Jesus Christ, with complete confidence, for "he who comes to Me, I shall in no way cast out!" (John 6:37). What more could you honestly ask?
You do NOT want it, you do not have it. You DO want it, it is there. Do you want it to be thrust upon you when you reject it ? Why ? Because secretly you REALLY do want life? Then away with secrets, want it, have it. But do you perhaps merely like to think that secretly you really do want it, while all the time you want something else more? such as lies, deception, fraud ?
In that case, away with deceit. To deceive yourself does not deceive God. You REALLY do not want it, merely like the illusion that you would? SO be it. By this then, your own statement, you do NOT really want it. We are dealing with reality. You do not want it, you do not get it.
But you WANT illusion ? Very well, then HAVE IT! Imagine you want it, when you don't, and live with the lie until it is exposed
You don't not WANT lies to be exposed? That is just another way of saying that lies are your milieu (John 3:20-21). In hell, you should be replete.
You wish you were different? Then be it. How ? True, if God did not exist, you could not be, for your inwards would be limiting you at every phase. The cast and calibre, condition and quality of your spirit in which all would occur, would not be in your gift. It would be a flat, featureless functionality. But since God is, the very mercurial or variable quality of your being, the calibre and the circumstances are all composed but not all comprehensive; for HE is there! These features in you are subject to infinite power in all adjustments and changes at all levels, or at any level. Hence you might subject yourself to God, and ask Him to change whatever needs to be changed, so that being different you could be whatever you ought to be. If you have the heart for it, rejoice and act; if not, why lament ? You do not WANT it! You DO somehow want it ? Then humble yourself, admit your abject inability and repenting of all sin, seek His face, embracing with delight the free gift of eternal life.
When His mercy is involved, circumstances are a small thing to God; so that even humbling Himself to the form of a man, in the Person of His everlasting word, as the only begotten Son of God was not too much. Love impelled, action excelled. The humble lot for love, He took it; the challenge to act, He met it; the work, He did it, completed it. If HE can do that for HIMSELF, what can He do for YOU, who are NOT the everlasting Son of God, but a sinner. If infinity can stoop to that, what can be done for raising that already in a lowly condition! If His love is so great, and His power so complete, you have nothing to fear from mere circumstances, psychic, bodily or other.
If you won't be where you might be, then you will be where you wouldn't be, in such a case. Yet that is what you WANT! If not, then act in the grace that will not sink to this, and take what He offers, being careful to acknowledge your own guilt, and forgiving whatever has been an offence to you, unload your OWN offences on Christ crucified, the just for the unjust to bring us to God. From Him, is your life found (Hosea ,14:2-4, 13:, 11:1-4,8,14:8* ).
6. God's love is exceedingly liberal (Colossians -23). His willingness is out of the question, being profound and proclaimed.
1. I will ransom them from the power of the grave:
I will redeem them from death.
O Death, I will be thy plagues!
O Grave, I will be thy destruction!
Pity is hidden from My eyes.
(With this one,
you may care to read Luke and -44 and Hebrews 5:7-8, John 3:16.)
2. Take words with you, and return to the Lord.
Say to Him, Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously,
For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips...
I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely,
For My anger has turned away from him.
I will be like
the Jew to
(With this, you
could read Galatians 6:15-16 and Romans 2:29.)
And out of
As they called them,
So they went from them;
They sacrificed to the Baals,
And burned incense to carved images.
I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms,
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them.
"they" in line 3 of No.3 may refer to the prophets, with whom God
spoke in intimate rapport - cf. Jeremiah 9:1, 1:5-7 Hosea 12:10.]
4. How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand
How can I make you like Admah ? How can I set you like Zebolim?
My heart churns within Me,
My sympathy is stirred.
I will not execute the fierceness of My anger:
I will not again destroy Ephraim,
For I am God, and not man...
5. O Israel, this throws you into distress [or hurls you], for in Me is your help! I will be your King:
Where is any other, that he may save you in all your cities?
(Keil, in his Commentary on this verse is rather helpful
here in the translation.)
6. Ephraim shall say,
"What have I to do any more with idols?"
I have heard and observed him .
I am like a green cypress tree;
From Me is your fruit found.
are from the A.V., the NKJV, the text direct, or with reference to Keil and Delitzsch's or other