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THE STATE OF ANIMATED SUSPENSION -
AS THE END ANNOUNCES ITSELF (SEE Ch.6)
THE PROVOCATIVE INVENTIONS OF MEN, OR THE PLAN OF SALVATION OF GOD ...
THE PHANTOM FLOTILLA OR THE VESSEL OF CHRIST
"Yes, they turned their back and tempted
God, and limited the Holy One of
"Thus they provoked Him with their inventions; and the plague broke in upon them" - Ps. 106:29
"You were a God who forgave them, though You took vengeance on their inventions" - Ps. 98:8
"Lo, this only have I found, that God has made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions" - Ecclesiastes 7:29.
1. THE PROVOCATIVE INVENTIONS
Man, Morals, Mandate and Mind
Wry Inventions, Man forgets his Inventor
inventor abuses his gifts in four easily distinguished dimensions.
A. In Gender
Gender invention, additive novelties, abuse of privilege, these we survey first.
Engendering gender, making unisex, homogenising man into a life-possessing unit, denaturising mankind, devaluing creation, playing in this, as in much else, the role of God without having the privilege of being He: this is the pastime of many. Like black industrial diamonds, it is not the same as the sparkling beauty of the lustrous product.
Manipulating gender physically, psychologically, except where there is already some physical defect needing remedy; or man-handling marriage mores, so that unholy and ungodly folly ruins marriages: this flirts with sex instead of using it as an instrument of devotion, of reproduction, of sharing love with creative delight. Sad is this sacrilege, for the physical department of love is emblematic and expressive of a spiritual love, an inter-personal delight which, when absent or devalued, like teeth left unbrushed in thoughtless adolescence, makes pain, leads to decay and can be an utter mess: expensive to fix, requiring patience and suffering, if fixed at all.
It is true that the miraculous intervention of the Maker as Redeemer, when repentance arises and faith in Him is granted, can transform; it is equally true that defilement is as unwise in life as the casual smashing of a car into a lamp-post, on the premise that there are plenty of panel-beaters. It does not help the car to be so treated; and for the human heart, there is ONE ONLY panel-beater.
Casual 'affairs', dumping the wife of years in favour of some more interesting/attractive/appealing specimen of human life (it is rather like insects or fish in glass jars, quite unlike life, and unspeakably less delightful), are one of the major modes. How anyone can so treat the companion of labour, the aid of industry, the mother of children, without adultery the ground, is hard to understand! The effect on the children however, is less so. Examples of disloyalty, forsaken 'love', affection as a mere emotional 'high' provide intimate aid in the devastation of the young and growing hopes, vision and aspiration!
Results readily include broken lives, homes, children and loyalties, breach of beauty, stability in God's invention of this phase of family and reproduction, spoiled or soiled nests for young chicks and a flurry of worry aiding follies innumerable.
Again, there may be a variation. 'Affairs' which use unisex attitudes, Biblically 'perversion', since God turned it one way and this turns it another. These may be the postponement of adolescent beginnings through ignorance or intemperance; may be a channel for the love of power over another human being; may be the expression of frustration with some, through domineering physically over others, for there is no physical provision for such use; may be the capitulation to the active pervert, as of an adult moving illegitimately back to child-hood dependence with an abhorrent addition which defiles the whole concept of what God has produced for us in family relationships. It may be many things. But its end is one thing: provocation of God, devaluing of the beauty of what He has made without the facility to create it oneself.
The Bible is particularly vigorous on this "invention", and the death penalty was provided for it (Leviticus ). There is a Biblical sense in which death has occurred already, death of structure and form, of the exquisite blending of gender differentiae, which dance illustrates, and so many things in nature parallel by contrasts of their own. In the current day, the theocratic penalty is not executed, but the divine exclusion from the kingdom of heaven is just as sure and just the same as for many another folly, such as adultery (I Cor. 6:9), thieving, extortion and so on. In each case, the realm of justice or order or created design is broken, the creation is abused, life is presumed upon, and peril pursues its unpleasant path to destruction... EXCEPT THEY REPENT.
Forgiveness is not an alternative to godliness, but that salve and wonder whereby those imperfect may continue in the Lord (Psalm 130:3-4). It is not an authority paper for spiritual, mental or physical promiscuity (Romans 6:1); and those who are the Lord's, imperfect as they indeed are, "depart from iniquity" ( II Timothy ), just as orange trees planted, depart from bearing lemons. That is what they are, and that is what they do, if, indeed, without being at all times prize specimens. Orange trees they are and oranges they produce (Matthew ); and that, it is precisely what the Lord Himself taught.
B. In Morals (cf. The
in the field of morals, inventiveness
about what is right and good, we next consider.
to use Solomon's term, is inventing ethical putty, puny morals, bendable, mouldable, manipulable ideas of
right and good, till even the Jesuits, once abhorred for their casuistry and manoeuvring outside truth in much of
It can seem small, but the
results loom like a liner overtaking a canoe in a fog. "Mad cow
But here, the case is longer. The same situation occurs when, to take one of the cases, perverted sexual liaisons (which by report can amount to hundreds, disease-wise, more than foolish) lead to Aids infection. Rash act, slow disease; fast folly, prolonged deterioration; failure to resist presumption against the design of God in the body, and the word of God in the Bible, and the processes of family by which one has come to this earth in body, and failure to be ABLE to resist other diseases.
The divine irony (history is in God's lap - Ephesians ) is intense, and it is corrective and should produce repentance. (On that see Amos 4, where the disciplines of God on the lax land were followed by the statement, "yet you have not returned to Me, says the Lord", and the same is seen in Revelation 9:19-20).
The concept of divine outrage after mellow mercy is rejected on top of the strenuous deeds of sin, is seen in intense format in Proverbs 1. Listen: "Turn at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit to you, I will make known my words to you..." ().
There, in phase 1, is the offer, the presentation of truth, the provision of free teaching, the instruction into the very spirit, to the core and heart of a man. It is rejected.
"Because I have called, and you refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
But you have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when you fear comes... the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them." This is phase 2, from Proverbs 1:25-32).
Phase 3 is the blessing: "But whoever hearkens to Me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil" - . True, you may be murdered for Christ, but as He indicated, though this might occur, "there shall not a hair of your head perish" - Luke -17. In other words, the integrity of your work and life and allotment from God is not adversely affected when the destroyer gets to work on you; your life is deathless, your inheritance from God, who created the heaven and earth, and has for you - like butterfly from grub - a far more excellent scenario. These are trials to which truth relates. None can make him ashamed who does not himself live shamefully; and there is no shame like that of preferring darkness, illogical (SMR 1-3), unlovely to the God who made what love is, and provides for it.
Morals of God, they are not
for sale, possess exquisite beauty, not glamour, are an outward expression of
inward holiness, a seashore of peace, an arbour of quietness, a pathway of rest. Inventions here are
the childish casuistries of those products of God who would improve on their
Producer, and are indeed highly productive of evil, with which this world so
abounds, that like a pressure-cooker, it is bound to explode into spittings, flashes, as it now does, and will continue to do
until in the end, it is dispensed with by the Maker, who creates a new Heaven
and a new Earth, in which righteousness lives (II Peter 3:11-13).
C. In Politics (cf. The Kingdom of
Inventing bloated political ideas, with panache, glorying in guidance, like ants, or in wild arrogant aggression, like killer bees, filled with evolutionary ideas to 'justify' cruelty, self-assertion based on dreams, hopes or wild frenzies of desire, as in Nazism and Communism, false, furious and self-aggrandising, or in destructive flurries like paranoid gorillas, or delusive and beguiling autonomy, as in community-ism, seemingly pleasant but oppressive by desire without God: this is an art form of man.
Why so little merit? it is because man is not merely small, he is in heart capable of such heartlessness, in pride of such pomp, in pleasure of such rapacity, and in self-control such self-congratulation that his due deserts are defined by 'perishing' and the deserts for likewise rejecting the mercy to avoid it, by 'hell'. Inflated with pretentious political fictions, whole regimes do not hesitate to declare issues moral, theological, spiritual with a deadly brutishness, bucolic only in lack of imagination, ferocious as a tiger, or imperious as a volcano, and often with as little constructive capacity.
With overweening pride and pomposity, often with an insalubrious verbosity attached, like a dagger to the heart in case it lived, the rationalistic and irrational 'systems' of man spill from the mind, skewer the heart and bring the sewer to the soul: and why? It is because they do not have the fear of God which is clean! We shall look shortly at the Realm of the 4th Invention, which because of the misplaced work of the human mind, is also related to such follies.
Have not men bent in two to satisfy the law of the tyrant, been philosophised into obligatory stupidity by courtesy of the State, imprisoned and festooned with folly, on top of suffering, by the outrages of which Tiananmen was merely a symbol, though a bloody one! Stability says the Prime Minister, is thus attainted (see News 37 and Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 18). Is it? So is it obtained when a rock of granite lies on the foot of a child. It is the other effects which become of interest.
Man is not gifted at such art, not having been made with the talent in question; for the question is the disjunction of the rule of God for the fool-rule of man.
It is not that man cannot rule under God; it is that man runs to riot in rule like an adolescent with dad's car, before sobriety sets in. This, however, it is the lust of the flesh, the desire of the mind, it is the conceit of imagination, it is reckless, renegade and rebellious, distant from facts but close to suffering, agony, torture, folly civic, military and mental. It is that earnings of sin in the field of invention in politics.
Many wish to blame the politicians, and in vast arrays of cases they are to blame; but the sin which makes the earth a breeding ground for these follies, and often actually votes them in, this is the base. The fault lies at home, and the first step? REPENTANCE. It is not only personal but political, the need for repentance and realism; and it is not going to be found where it does not exist.
"I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more", we read in Ezekiel, "until He comes whose right it is and I will give it to Him" (cf. SMR Ch. 7 part 12, pp. 623ff.).
And what comes before this in the text of the prophet:
"Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same. Exalt him who is low, and abase him who is high!"
This is a divine order to deal with the pretensions of human aspiration in politics, where it does not avail itself of humility, holiness and wisdom, justice, honour and truth; and there is but one FIT TO GOVERN the whole being of man, and that? the Son of God, Jesus Christ, already tried to the uttermost, and about to return with the majesty which is His! Meanwhile the Caesars of this world and their incestuous weddings with this world in invading the lives of mankind, the ungodly bastions of misrule, continue to ignore the proper place of politics, and to aspire to ascend, to set their seat as if they were God! Their case is not improved by their verbal abuse of the Almighty! Woe to those who conjure up cordial co-operation with such oppression, and such disdain for the source of their own powers, temporary... though they be!
Whether we look at Iran, Iraq, or at much in Africa, at Yugoslavia, or within China, even in Indonesia's troubled provinces, in the disarray of Russia not yet quite sure whether it will for ever abandon what is only to ready to re-address itself to its downfall in red, or the various religious dominations which lack nothing of the intrusion of some of the more ostensibly soulless regimes that are explicitly anti-God, the epidemic rages, like Florida fires in this US Summer of 1998, out of control.
It has all but destroyed Europe twice, and earlier came close when the Moslem menace at the point of the sword, was beaten at the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D., and sought often enough thereafter to arise and take control; and in this same 20th century it has humbled this antique place of civilisation. If last time the US with prodigious generosity hoped to rebuild this classic continent, yet now the US is itself so sunk in the realm of the first two "inventions", those of sexual innovation and moral novelty, and in the fourth to which we must soon turn in our thoughts, that her powers, like her debts in trillions of dollars (US), bring compromise, weakness and decay. In the Gulf War, it was almost as if she needed, like mercenary soldiery, to be paid. Such reliances do not make for independence, and the huge religious base in the US is itself being transformed, but alas, not like the frog into the prince, but rather in the reverse direction.
Even the Southern Baptist
Church harbours a Billy Graham who is becoming
increasingly brazen about his intimate relationship with the scourge of England
in the 16 and 17th century, mounting to the dizzy heights of Bloody
Mary, as the flames leapt upward, a religious work for 'God Almighty on
earth', who alas, does not have the capacities of the real one. (Cf. SMR
pp. 915ff., 1056ff., 899-956, 857ff., 750Aff., 422Eff..) Ever 'new' blindnesses caressing the concepts of theology,
spin through the US in particular, though Europe is not behind, as if the world
were dizzy and needed only irrationality to right itself. If the Moslems once
brought the sword to Europe, now both Europe and the US bring their own swords
self-expression without a self.
Meanwhile, inventing himself as both master and meaningless, an evolutionary (That Magnificent Rock, Ch.1) thrust of strange derivation, saying much and amounting to nothing
(That Magnificent Rock, Ch.7, Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Items 19, 29 and Appendices 1, 2, 3,4 ) or other focus of what is not there, not found or not desired, man declares from the UN, the new Moses, the morals fit for his tribe, and raises his buildings whether in Kuala Lumpur, US or Japan, as if to form the new Babels in architecture, which are already so throbbing in his mind.
Self-proclaimed mirror of the meaningless universe, decked in this hideous ideological tuxedo, sophisticated man-of-today, often using the Universities as a hostel of power, place of persuasion and intoxicatingly easy opportunity of influence, while students are not always welcome who do not ... conform, proceeds for his own part, to assert "meaning" in all directions. From a (suitably) ghostly figure (or figurine of the imagination), Hoyle would have the universe beckoned to brighter things; others would see its ground of being in nothing, while yet more make the hard rationality of the universe to have sprung, perhaps in a moment of absent-mindedness from the powers that are not there, from the resources that are lacking. The term lunacy came from the concept of being moon-struck, and spiritually the sheer profusion of authoritative statements about what it is all about, from a basis which commences by knowing only that there is no truth, seems to attest a moon-struck generation. So knowledgeable is it, that knowledge is invented, where it is not found, discounted where it is, and man rules the waves instead of Britannia.
In principle, thus, depriving himself of meaning, in practice he asserts it, denotes it, promotes it - it is this! that! or the other! Often the sophisticate of today, to whom the people listen as if it were some more succulent form of the rural loudspeakers which were used to keep Chinese countrymen in the right thought patterns, wallows in the concept of meaningless, only to assert it - IT IS meaningless! So much meaning to be known by one so meaningless is like a fortune to a beggar, who still insists for income tax purposes, that he has no fortune and is indeed still a beggar. It HAS no meaning, he roundly declares, as though a meaningless member, midget in a meaningless universe, could know it! This he knows, or should know, and is responsible for knowing, that his foolish heart is darkened with myths of his making, while he is far better at the making of myth than the making of man! He has not even made a living cell!
contradictions abort logic, and he even gives reasons for being irrational, as
if common sense had marred reason and fled! The rational necessity of God, he
flees from, the superabundant testimony of the divine, he despises, and the
more obvious it is made (cf.
The Biblical Workman, Ch.4, pp. 60ff.), the more he runs from it , saying to a stone, 'You are my father!', as Jeremiah, both scathing and accurate, depicts it from his own time. The mental miasma, idols of the mind, changes merely the outward form of this flight to fancy, always in the rebellious heart.
life where it is not to be found (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri, Chs.1, 7, 8, 9, 12,That Magnificent Rock, Chs. 1 , 8 and Appendix 1), he frazzles his
resources in vain searches (as does the US re Mars and beyond, as do vast
efforts to find evidence of intelligent messages from 'space', while vast
arrays of intelligent messages in their billions, reside in the brain between
the listening ears of every man, in his delicately programmed DNA).
Yet he has no eyes within, with vision of heart dimmed and blurred:
slain by his own beauty (cf. Ezekiel 28:17),
immunised to truth and indeed trampling on it,
he progresses with that strange, sad feeling of regress
which the statistics of folly repeatedly attest.
How do they do this ?
It is in millions killed, children maimed, babes sundered by starvation,
youth distressed, alienated and degenerating,
while tall, amid the growing judgments of God -
not surprising either morally or factually, in view of their prediction for the last few thousand years -
man waits for the ending of all this folly,
a bitter cup and drear, for those who blind themselves to reality,
but choice indeed for those whose heart desires Him whose is the beginning and the end, and find Him where He is to be found, in Christ Jesus the Lord.
Now let us transfer to the maritime metaphor, and speak in NAUTICAL MODE, proceeding in parable form.
Think of Matthew 14:22-33. Christ has fed the 5000. He has prayed alone; the people wanted a king who could produce such a luxury of free food, so powerful in word and deed; but this was not the point, mere power, nor even words without meaning: it was words so directed that their eyes being opened, they would become the children of God.
The disciples, well knowing their Lord might pray all night, as when He chose the disciples, had gone on their way by boat. In the night, they see someone who seems surely a ghost, walking on the water. They have trouble enough in the deep to keep their own lives safe, without this extraordinary vitality of walking on water, as if the whole universe were a pot, that could be put on to boil at will (or for that matter, made to subside in peace, as when He told the elements in their tempestuousness, to be "muzzled", like a dog!).
He seems (Mark's parallel) as if He would go on; but Peter is wondering ... The disciples have cried out, and the Lord tells them not to fear, but Peter is for testing, and indeed, seems to have faith that it is the One, for He is willing to actually try to walk on the water himself, to meet the Lord. "Lord," he says, "if it is you, command me to come to You on the water!" Peter is called, comes and then seeing the thrashing waters, fears, commences to sink and cries, this time personally, "LORD SAVE ME!"
The LORD stretches out His hand, does so, and soon they are both in the boat. THAT is how He gets there - by the Lord's personal intervention.
Next, note that it is Peter's faith which led him OUT! Then, that it is Christ's hand that brings him IN! So is it with the church. Faith in the Lord and His personal intervention are your parameters.
Next, we see that Christ controlled the boat and the weather, in this and the earlier instance; and so it is with the Church, it is, if His, under His control.
We observe too, that Christ would apparently not have come at all unless He had been asked. So we read:
"Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And there He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice:
Blessed are all those who wait for Him...
You will weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry:
When He hears it, He will answer you" - from Isaiah 30:18-19.
We are also reminded of Job 9:8:
"He alone spreads out the heavens,
And treads on the waves of the sea," and of Psalm 77:19,
"Your way is in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known..."
It is easy to be blind to the presence, the promises, the offers and the graces of the Lord, and not to CALL UPON HIM IN THE DAY OF TROUBLE, or not to call upon with all your heart. As Hosea puts it, "They did not cry to Me with their heart when they wailed..." Or again, as Psalm 77 phrases the point,
"They returned and sought earnestly for God. Then they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer.
Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth,
And they lied to Him with their tongue..." (v.v-35-36).
For such reasons as these, then, people may be formalistic, hypocritical, half-hearted, still unrepentant in heart, filled with their flatteries of empty of the heart-cry which is no sail set up on the Self-Boat as convenient as a form of religion, useful as a deployment to constrain God to do something; with no notion of the repentance which abhors sin and detests its very memory, loves God and blesses the purity that expels folly.
When however it is the church of God with which we deal, it is one calling to the Lord, heard by the Lord and brought into fellowship by the Lord, with Him through His saving them first, and then with others in the boat which He controls. Thus, earlier when He slept and they feared for their lives, it was the whole boatload whom He saved. The figure, it is no more, shows the point however: the boat is His, the peace is His, just as the saving is His; and those who are His are in this position in His boat.
Now when someone walked outside the boat, it is like some reformer, who for the time detested, nevertheless must be prepared to SHOW that it is THE LORD, and not some tradition or pope or priest or prelate or assembly which constitutes the impelling, constraining and saving power, the point of their very existence as a church. Thus Peter is WILLING to SHOW that it is the Lord, to have it DEMONSTRATED; and unafraid to put it to the test. For such, however, it is essential that they themselves KEEP THEIR EYES ON THE LORD, and not on the circumstances, the waves and the dangers, about them! Peter DID SHOW IT, or rather so acted that the Lord Himself showed it by saving Peter, despite his fluttering faith when his feet were treading on the waves, and then all were blessed. It is the Lord alone who saves, directs, protects, and all else is attendance on His mastery, for "you are all brethren" (Matthew 23:8-10).
We observe however, at that, this point: if Peter had been left to himself, he would have drowned in his willingness. It is not enough to be willing; sincerity itself would count for nothing if it were not that the OBJECT OF FAITH is in fact THE LORD, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Almighty! The papal armada however is involved in the concept of a pope as "God Almighty on earth" (SMR pp. 1042ff.), and hence looking at its own feet, will drown in its own mischievous conceits, imaging great things for itself, and not looking ALWAYS ONLY to Christ (II Corinthians 1:3-9, Philippians 1:19-21,3:10, Galatians 2:20, 6:14).
In the pilotless papacy boat, they depend not a little on their own dreams, navigating by their own "infallible" thought, like Peter after Caesarea Philippi, and are like nothing so much as a Peter who became not a small stone but a large rock (SMR pp.1042-1088H, where the unauthorised character of these actions is shown in detail from the Bible).
Peter refused to be moved, until the rebuke to SATAN quelled the folly, and he was able to be corrected. Infallible? The concept is as laughable for the first 'reconstructed' pope, as is the change of name, on which Christ so beautifully played (little stone, great mass of living rock, the two contrasted terms) before the practical demonstration (Matthew 16:22-24)! How marvellous an opportunity to show this profound LACK of infallibility, and then this :
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" - Matthew .
The assertion of primacy is of course as far from ONE IS YOUR MASTER (leader): YOU ARE ALL BRETHREN (Matthew 23:8). It is for THAT reason that one cannot even be called 'Rabbi!', nor is the term father Biblically permissible in the spiritual domain, except for the Father of lights (James 1:17) and King of Eternity (Micah 3:1-5). Alas, this is the spiritual church-self boat, the aggregate formula mirroring the personal exhibit. You have likewise the spiritual political-self boat, in which another sort of aggregation of people, start to use their togetherness to dictate to others, at the spiritual level.
For some, of course, for this world it can be very congenial for a time, a sort of mystic fling with success, so valued by so many in many*1 of the Protestant and in the Romanist churches alike. Christ's ultimate success, we do well to remember, centres around one of the greatest acts of disparagement, of insult, of disgrace, of "failure" even to death, of all time. Its triumph is of a different order than "survival" and "self-fulfilment", something this world does not and cannot know. Repentance is the need, stepping out of such boats, and like Peter, crying to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to save, not to the occupants of the boat, and being planted in that cross-masted vessel, by Him and Him alone (Acts 4:11-12).
But let us for a moment return to land, like boatsmen in Summer, who return to the shore in their delights, for a time. How easy it is for people to become spiritual observers, to watch the vaulted ceilings, study the oil paintings, consider the past, the wonder of ancient times, the sense of tradition, to feel but a small part of an ongoing operation of people in high places, of august and austere solemnities that continue with concrete and glass and art and wealth, to manifest their importance. Watching the idolatrous fabrication*2 of the mass elevated, the choir sing, the art flourish, the multitudes wave or bow, the imagination unfettered bounding here and there, it is easy then to feel religiously serviced, promoted, handled and helped, to breathe the air of antiquity with the help of men... and yet....
Yet with all this, the pageantry is no substitute for salvation, for repentance not to be repented of, for being saved without works (Romans 3), so that one not merely begins but CONTINUES in the same way (Galatians 3:1-13), never relying on the flesh, one's own productions, but justified by a horrendously crucified one, not present in some flourish of magnificence, but in the death-cross in shame and rejection.
What says Paul, "ARE YOU SO FOOLISH? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? " No, he says, the law was a tutor to bring us to Christ, "that we might be justified by faith." NOT by any form of works, EVER, for that is incredible foolishness, says the apostle, who goes on to tell Timothy (II Tim. 1:9) of the whole nature of Christian salvation.
Of Christ he says this: "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began..." The salvation is accomplished and this is done in a predestined perfection present before the world began.
v "NOT ACCORDING TO WORKS" on the one hand, and
v "ACCORDING TO ... GRACE" on the other.
The negation is total in kind, category and conclusion, and the affirmation is total, pervasive and comprehensive. THIS is the way; THAT is not. From predestination to consummation, there is no other way, no other salvation, no other procedure. The extravagant seeming liberality of God is not adjusted by the carnal surmising or the calculated intrusions of man. "GOD FORBID that I should glory EXCEPT in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ by which I am crucified the world is crucified to me, and I to the world" remains as true as when Paul penned it under the promised and blessed inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Thus all the traditions, the ephemeral wonders and glories of religion, while they may calm the breast and comfort the spirit, do not constitute any part of what is essential before God, a workless salvation which works by the faith which can do no other, and not in order to be saved, being already saved (II Tim.1:9, Ephesians 2:1-10, Titus 3:5, Romans 1:1-11). Where such power is given to a man not God, there is a breach of the divine regulations of the One who is! Sleep here and it may soon become the sleep of death.
But let us return to the maritime expedition.
Look now, are there not
MANY boats, some grouped about the papal boat and others in its entourage, the
apostolic succession necessity, the baptismal route, the existential glorying
in some enduement that needs no objective basis, all
move in one grand march, sometimes one taking the lead, sometimes another, but
all somehow tending to group in a vast armada of Babylon, where religion is
created and tolerated, yet at other times, with a decisive leadership, when
that tolerance fails to extend to the truth. This cultural cluster is roving on
the high seas, embracive mutual acceptance alternating with the most rigorous
rejection; caressing calls with rejection notices; flags aloft! Alas, as
Revelation 17 makes so clear, it will burn, this flotilla of
"A lion has roared,
Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken!
Who can but prophesy?" (Amos 3:7). To faithful men is this handed on, not for tradition, but for presentation (II Timothy 2:1-2). Like the power lines that carry the power from the coal fields, so the faithful carry the message: it is not theirs but His, the judgments of Almighty God and His mercies; who did not come to condemn, but that the world might be saved, but who, in His salvation convicts and charges, dealing with this spiritual cancer here, that critical condition there: it is the error not the man who is judged, that judgment may be removed and those caught in these woes and perils delivered, according to the very word of that God which we preach and teach; why? Because it is His.
Flags? We were speaking of flags as we returned to sea. But let us look again at the Biblical barge, the picture of the church of Jesus Christ, for there is, even in heaven, none like the Lord among the mighty (Psalm 89:6-8). If the heavens lack it, the earth more so!
Christ's boat is of those saved by Him, like Peter. The vessel is simply where they are - again like Peter, PLACED BY CHRIST. To move momentarily from the maritime to the botanical, it is where they are PLANTED by Christ. Thus on land our Biblical boat of Christians becomes like forest, watered by the Spirit, planted by Christ (Isaiah 61:3, Romans 6:5); while at sea, they are placed where they are to operate, the flag fluttering above them. The flag reminds them of the Cross, placarded as Paul puts it in Galatians 3, when rebuking them for adding to its efficacy by futile pollutions, and changing their religion into something puny instead of majestic and wrought by the Master, as to status and assurance and position and power.
The waters are the world - we should travel thought it, but not sink into it. The winds are trials, which we most overcome - the spray is the sting of challenge (I Peter 4), which we must endure.
It is important to be in the right boat, piloted by Christ: just as His church lives by faith in Him, follows His word and with Him, their guarantor and a guarantee, its members enter into His life as derived from His death: for flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Forgiven, faithful, fostered with fortitude, with this His gift to them, there is a life where death is diverted from their persons to their sin, and the stream of life is converted from Him to His saved ones (John . They have brought with them words (Hosea 14:2), saying, "Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously...", to Him who says, "From Me is your fruit found!" (Hosea 14:8).
It is GOD who redeems them from death (Hosea ), and what He redeems shares no other coin (I Peter -19). They are saved by no other works, and when it is HIS works, all other works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). God indeed states that He is the ONLY Saviour, and it is necessary to add to His words, this: NOTHING (Isaiah 43:10-11). There are not 200 million other saviours, each one operating with the presumption of a Peter BEFORE Christ rebuked Him.
But let us revisit our boat. The mast reminds us continually of Christ's cross, its fluttering in the wind like the work of the Spirit of God, as the Lord is 'lifted up', who said this: "I if I be lifted up will draw all men to Me .. " (John 12:32-33), so signifying what death He should die. It is under that flag so waving that the church rests, it is with this flag that it works, but it does not work to come into the boat: that is by DIVINE placement, as Paul announced to Timothy. Dead to any other standard (Galatians 6:14), the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has no other pathway of power, listens to no pole of pretence, no alternate standard, has no other passion.
In the shadow of His death, we have life; in the safety of His ship, we have comfort and this? Because it is His.
Trust - therefore not in the ship but in the Lord; for the ship that is the Lord's responds to His voice, and He controls it. HIS? They know Him and follow Him and HE GIVES TO THEM ETERNAL LIFE (John -28).
That is the way it is with Christ in the ocean of life - the life that HE created, and which He ALONE redeems, the sacrificial sovereign, who gave and gave, and needs neither help nor puffing to make His ship go. "FROM ME IS YOUR FRUIT FOUND" - and yes, to return to the botanical, good trees are no more MADE good by their fruit, than are they PLANTED by their forests. It is the LORD who plants, we read, those who are His.
There will be storms: but "so He brings them to their desired haven" - Psalm 10-7:30. How did it happen?
"Their soul," in the storm, "melts because of trouble.
They reel to and from and stagger like a drunken man.
And are their wits' end.
Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
He calms the storm so that its waves are still;.
Then they are glad because they are quite:
So He guides them to their desired haven
Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Let hem exalt Him also in the assembly of the people,
And praise Him in the company of the elders..."
There is the phantom flotilla, sinking in the storms without the Lord's stilling voice, stepping out without faith to lead the church to some new depth, and spluttering in exhaustion while being hauled impotently up, drowning, or dragging others down in existential leaps, that have no objective Lord. They rove and roam, a true Babylon maritime force, each to his own, all surrounding and browsing the idols, the new things upon the sea, caught in the maelstrom of iniquity as the storms rise, and the pope advises so many, spiritists and all as we have seen (A Spiritual Potpourri, Ch. 17, pp. 220-221, SMR pp. 946ff., 1056ff., 1072ff., 729ff., 743ff. ), that they all worship the one God.
Meanwhile on Peter's liner, pseudo-petrine, in the ball-room is the form of a cathedral. How it reminds one... There back on land, were there not those wonderful ancient traditions, of Rome, of Orthodoxy, with the same brand of masses, of apostolic succession and other equally delusive aids, unwarranted, or prohibited and as additional as a paragraph after a signature, that of the Lord (Galatians 1, Ephesians 2, Jeremiah 23:29-32, Amos 3:1-7, Revelation 22:17-20, SMR Appendix C, D).
Did not these icons of the spirit ... did they not speak to the wandering soul about peace and continuity in life, suggestive, artistic, dimly dazzling with a sense of what might be wonderful, but is so indistinct and inchoate, unformed and yet formulated, that the soul, at first leaping to find the arena of religion, realises this is no release, but an anodyne, forged and forced upon man, by a delusive authority, anon that of the pope, anon of the obsessive-compulsive individual soul itself, anon of some philosophy of religion that espouses itself with a basis on nothing, and a belief in believing...
Yes, there is the phantom flotilla, sinking in the storms without the Lord's stilling voice, stepping out without faith to lead the church to some new depth, and spluttering in exhaustion while being hauled impotently up, drowning, or dragging others down in existential leaps, that have no objective Lord. They rove and roam, a true Babylon maritime force, each to his own, all surrounding and browsing the idols, the new things upon the sea, caught in the maelstrom of iniquity as the storms rise, and the pope advises so many, spiritists and all as we have seen (A Spiritual Potpourri 17, p. 223 ), that they all worship the one God.
There is the ship of Christ, girded with grace, countenanced by His face, without addition or buttress, ballast or safeguard other than the Saviour Himself, Lord over all, only Lord and always Lord; and underneath are the everlasting arms. Joining ship by crying to Him, "Lord, save me!" and relying on Him alone, being placed in His ship by His own hands, and living by faith in Him, and through Him, the Son, in the triune God - this is a matter of repentance, whether your craft be the self-boat or the church-self boat, or the existential canoe. With Him, repentance is greatly facilitated, for in the aura of His greatness is a grandeur greater than that of the ocean, in His unassuming simplicity of life was a testimony greater than mere meaningless millions, whether of devotees or of bullion.
By His side, and under the flag of His cross, there is a wonder of love, a glory of compassion and a beauty of holiness with which nothing can compete, which shows up sin as an arc-light shows enemy planes, indeed, it fills the heavens and banishes to hell the roving infelicities, the graceless presumptions whether of one's own making, or of any one else who would vaunt himself, or his party or his church or his policies or his politics into the arena of God. GOD has stood in the arena of this world, and it butchered the form He chose in preferred vulnerability, being as we are, yet without sin.
The final arena of His judgment is no mystical thing in this fundamental principle, but it is straightforward:
“THIS IS THE CONDEMNATION, THAT LIGHT HAS COME INTO THE WORLD, AND MEN HAVE LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT, BECAUSE THEIR DEEDS ARE EVIL,”
as said Jesus the Lord (John ).Evil? then repent. You have repented, then believe. You have believed, then believe in Him. There is no other life-jacket but His own, which He provides for you on arrival in the boat, through His own hands, and it is this which remains, the dress of arrest, for those who are His, these seek to apprehend for what they are apprehended, so that they may serve Him. Their salvation assured by His priceless gift of eternal life (John -13, 3:9), they are those who rejoice in Him, saying,
greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has
clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of
righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride
adorns herself with her jewels" - Isaiah 61:10.
See SMR pp. 686ff., 699ff., 857ff.. The matter is more than the decline of various Protestant bodies, for it moves into the World Council of Churches (cf. SMR pp. 722ff., 732Bff., 743ff., 867-888, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7, pp. 135ff., Mystery of Iniquity) and into many unchartered but quickly churning waters (News 121, 122). The issue of authorising homosexuality even in the pulpit occupants is merely one of the more grossly obvious cases to indicate to the elect, who are not going to be deceived, the ludicrous character of the imposture (I Corinthians 5-6, I Timothy 1:10) which is being made, of the transference of substance in such 'churches', while retaining the name.
Surely the 20th-21st centuries are the non-pareil of double-speak, as if Orwell's new speak were de rigueur, and even theologies as in neo-orthodoxy, capable of proposing virgin birth equals God is gracious, shout to the unwary of the inane take-over.
Yet is it not with many as in Jeremiah 5:30-31, in that trailer which Israel provided for the Gentiles, giving a preliminary exhibition of how things go as the ultimate betrayal draws near:
"An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land.
"The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priest rule by their means,
and My people love to have it so.
"But what will you do in the end ?"
See also, The World Belongs to God and I to Him.
See SMR pp.1086ff., with Massifs of Pure Splendour Ch. 6.