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All this Rot about Not
Believing the Gospel
Look at our title!
Public relations experts, who abound, may quickly advise... inform? us that this is no way to address one's public. It is offensive, harsh, has discord, is not advised, ruffles the ego, troubles the peace loving instincts, and so on, and on. However, if it is rot, why not say so? Are we to be so anaesthetic a people that we lurch towards some soporific-looking drowsiness, lest we awake?
The implication of the title is in any case not personal, in any individual sense. I used to think of the Gospel, myself, in something of that negative light. Oh, there would have been some element of fearfulness perhaps, as if it had some majesty, and something almost unspeakable; but for all that, it appeared at that time perhaps as the lurk for weak people, strange people, emotional people, oddly and curiously holy (godly ?) people, and at any rate other people; and it appeared altogether such an intrusion, such a way of direction and inconvenience that naturally it was best avoided, and that rather ... quickly.
So you see, it has nothing whatever to do with one's IQ. Mine has not changed. It has much to do with drowsiness spiritually, a sort of insulated, isolated, consecrated devotion to i) oneself or ii) the world or iii) one's success or iv) one's way of life and so on: it was this for me then, as it is now for multitudes. For the time I found it, as many find it, just - an alien phenomenon.
What however has THAT to do with its truth ? People who make such excuses do not excuse themselves for not facing the truth. The truth WILL be faced, whether one chooses to face it or not; that is the nature of truth. It IS!
Incidentally, that is close to the name God gives for Himself to Moses, and Christ likewise to Himself to us in the New Testament (John , Exodus ): "I AM" ! I love that name. It is so uncontrived, so lacking in salesmanship, like oak furniture; it has grandeur and simplicity, it is strong, right and serviceable, but not changing in order to be so. It just is.
As Keil and Delitzsch point out in their Old Testament Commentaries, names formed with the imperfect tense, as here, show that the quality in view is constantly manifested, is continually deployed. Here it is the divine being, the life which is manifested, and in this glorious being, life is without constraint, containment or intervention.
What it is, it is, and it goes on being it, not in the abstract, but in a constant deployment which exhibits the character, here not formed but formal, not intruded into, but as it were, extrusive. It is independent in existence, in action and in life.
THAT is the truth. He, having created persons, His will transcending them, can communicate with them, for "in His image" is precisely what our capacity to so speak and consider implies. ONLY when we are willing and able so to learn, can we have valid logic (SMR Chs. 1, 3, 10 ; That Magnificent Rock, Validity ); and ONLY on the basis of a person who is
i) not only THERE, but
ii) able to speak HERE
and so communicate what IS there, at His will and His discretion,
is there any POSSIBILITY of what? Why this: of having the perspective which not only is helpful pragmatically, but far more, is past all investigation, accords with all reality - while capable equally of withstanding perfectly any investigation - that which is correct. This, it incorporates all aspects, omits nothing and sees things as they are in the unique, transcendent mind of the Creator who needs neither hypothesis nor instruction in anything.
a splendid opportunity to consider these facts, and an excerpt now follows from The Shadow of
a Mighty Rock (SMR), pp. 299-300,
to attest this.
God is, and must be known; even to know that He must be known, He must be known. Oh yes, you can show the NECESSITY, as we have done in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, that He must be; and that He has spoken - but as to WHAT He has said, until you READ it, you know not what the highest and final assessment of all things is.
Now you may of
course read it, and yet know nothing. How? In this, that you do not BELIEVE IT!
It matters not at all that it is PROVEN that it is true; if you do not BELIEVE
it, then as with anything else you do not believe, you are not in possession of
this thing, but alienated from it, divorced, it does not inhere in you, is not
one of your operating facts, features, or functional contributors.
II. The PERSONS OF THE GODHEAD
But why does this relate ? Surely persons who comprise God are not to the point here or yet ? On the contrary, it is vital to know and to understand this. Let us start by making the distinction between personality and person. It is just a verbal definitional matter of preventing confusion. If we define personality as:
|The operating system and
proclivities which constitute the deployment of will and desire,
understanding and thought which works for and between human beings as such
- if you like;
and we call it,
|That combination of mind, matter and
spirit, in the special case of human beings
in whom this trilogy enables unitary action and interaction with others such,
both physically, mentally and spiritually:
then we can at once see the danger humans may have.
This synthetic unity is susceptible to INFLUENCE, from within, from without. It can be damaged, deranged, polluted, infected, distorted and so forth. Its springs can be poisoned, its vision vitiated, its desires contorted, twisted, sick, unrealistic and ruinous, and all this without it being realised; for when the unity is wrong, the results are wrong, and the unity may be more or less unaware of the condition with which it is afflicted. Sick personalities are not automatically self-analysing! (hence the highly dubious value of psycho-analysis - dubious because, to put it in a symptom, many psychiatrists commit suicide, or more formally, personalities without truth are not good assessors, and truth is not an automatic result of ANY human education as such).
If THAT is personality, what is "person" ? We now define this to refer to:
Beneath the contrivance, or the cultural conditioning and so on, lies
the identity which was created. It is what it HAS BEEN MADE. THAT is the first and most obvious difference between it and God! He IS WHAT HE IS!
The person then, is the goal. THIS is what matters most. For man, the design specifications thus matter much, for even the person may be from birth imbued physically or mentally or spiritually with poison, with needless limitations of decline, as well as with necessary limitations which belong to all that is MADE, or in this case, CREATED. Still, we move nearer in terms of the design basis, to the truth.
GOD comprises three persons. As shown in Part IV of Chapter 7 in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, they do not ADD UP to Him! He is not an integration of 3, since He always was, and hence there were not three in independence which had to be made one in synthesis. You simply have to stop thinking in terms of the processive and the progressive when you think of God; for that is the childish matter of the temporal, when we are here confronted by the Eternal. Hence in all details, we must preserve this necessary perspective.
As to BEING: ONE. As to PERSONS: three. As to NATURE: ONE. As to individuality, THREE. The three with the identical nature, character, yet have a differentiation of function. All this was dealt with rather well by the Cappodocian doctors, early in Church history, but it is well to become aware in our own time. There is in infinite intimacy of the three, a dynamic without interstices, so that there is not SPACE or THING or OBJECT beyond them, but rather their very beings and inter-relationships all are without confinement, condition or conduit. From this arise our CREATED and IMAGE-of-GOD related families, loves and so on. That is the basis of them all, this Creator.
As created, they relate; but also as created, they lack the supra-temporal, supernatural eternity which always was, and from which 'time', our time, came as we know it, and experience it. Indeed, it is precisely because of this, together with the fact that we are made BY and FOR the Eternal God, that there is such glamour and resurgence of interest in so many drug related feelings of unity and depth and so on: there is the natural impetus even in deformed and defiled personalities to experience or know ... God. Mischievous manipulated substitutions attest the form, through ... even disease.
Now let us look
at an illustration which I have often used, and we shall not extract this, as
"Where to go ?
This gives you the illustration. The movement of God to express is in the Person of His Son - not of course biological Son in eternity, since GOD is a Spirit (John 4:14); but the Eternal Son is the eternal EXPRESSION (WORD, John 1:1 - there being only one God, as is demonstrable - SMR Ch.1,3 - as Biblically affirmed very often, as in Isaiah 41-45 - this is the One with GOD, and who IS GOD, as in Colossians 2:9, 1:19-23, John 8:58, 5:19-23).
The FACT of human sons indicates the REALITY of transmission in our terms, of being, nature with tenderness towards company and mutuality, with continuity, and so on. The REFLECTION of God, in whose image we are, is that HE has the EVERLASTING SON, to whom, in due course, He gave biological expression in the person of the ONE formed by direct supernatural intervention (Luke 1:35) in a human format, through the person of Mary. The result was this: the ETERNAL SON, WORD of God, the living person became flesh, took for His current or contemporary format, that of man, while He went as sent to redeem those who would come to Him.
It is most
important to realise this, as the passage in
Colossians 1 just noted, attests, that it was to ALL that He came - GOD SO
LOVED THE WORLD*2; but it was not a world of system. It was PEOPLE IN IT, for
whom He came. The corrupted people have a corrupted system, and no system,
however fine, ever works or could work or even should work, because they leave
out God and the
trinity? You might as well forget your visa on an international tour. It is HE
who is the entrance - John 10:9. Without Him, your flight does not even leave. You
sit meditating (transcendental meditation? ) on the
tarmac. But in this, there is no lift. Feelings do not lift aircraft. You see,
we are dealing with reality, with what is, not with what it seems to be, should
be, might be, could be. We deal with the things that
IV. The Flight
The Father SENT the SON. Without the Father, there is no sending. The Son likewise leads you TO the Father (John 14:6). Indeed, ALL THINGS ARE DELIVERED TO THE SON FROM THE FATHER (Matthew , cf. John ), and they are His.
You cannot even KNOW the SON by
yourself. NO MAN knows the SON except the Father, He knows Him. No man knows
the FATHER except the SON reveals Him (cf. Matthew ) - CHOOSES to reveal
Him. Thus Father and Son are not penetrable like a recess in
Christ has come forth from the Father (John 16:28, 30), yes, like a waterfall from the lake; but more than this, He has come CLOTHED IN OUR OWN FORM AND FORMAT, displaying in terms most natural to our hearts, if only they look and see, what He has to give and to show and to offer and to be for us.
You TAKE OFF on
your flight when you ARE TAKEN. For that, you need to be ON the flight, and the
"aircraft" is Christ.
But you may say: How do I get on this flight? I CANNOT just grab Him, my eyes are not in my control to see, and where would I put my feet to "board" for the flight?
A good point.
You do not want Christ, the Son, the Word, then? Why worry, you have what you want! You DO want Him. Simple: Tell Him so - and tell Him that you repent of your sins, that you are without significance except by His mercy, that you deserve destruction according to strict justice for which only perfection is even relevant (and incidentally, God IS perfect, and what is not does not cohere with Him in heaven: indeed it would no longer be able to BE heaven with THAT in it!).
TELL HIM! Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity, and receive (me) graciously" - that is how Hosea 14:2 has it. You DO NOT BELIEVE this? very well, again, why worry! You do not believe it, so what are you missing - to your mind. Certainly you are wrong, since it is demonstrable, but if you do not believe it, why let it concern you! You will suffer for your contumacy, obstinacy (I Samuel gives a good picture of the pure folly of not knowing God): but since it is not in your heart to even believe it, why are you concerned?
You DO then believe it? Fine. No further problems. Go to HIM, as noted above, to the SECOND and the SENT PERSON of the TRINITY who came for you, and is ever ready to succour and receive you. Tell Him more, that you accept that HE is God, that it is to HIM you must come, that HE alone leads to the Father, and in COMING, then GO with Him TO the Father, who is then not only as to form and body, but in spirit and in truth YOUR FATHER, and accept His redemption through HIS Son, in which He DIED for you, so that your SINS are now BORNE by HIM, since He is willing and able to bear those of all who come, and could take unlimited numbers, being infinite. His death is sufficient cover for any and for all; but it is deployed ONLY for those who coming, avail themselves of the pardon so compressed in it, so available, so devastatingly available - to sin, so wonderfully available, to hope.
You come? Alas, there are many who do not because they will not. Let me share with you an experience with quite a large group at a University, and for this we go to our Questions and Answers - The Word that Speaks, No. 7: we shall give it in a little context. It was dealing with the question of Good Government, and we shall allow the illustration to appear as you read below. The indent is the quotation from the work just noted.
of course shows up one important focus. People in general do not really WANT*3 the truth. THEY are and
THE TRUTH IS*1, and there is a strong move to keep it that way. The truth is
fine if IT SERVES.
Serves what or whom ? The personality who wishes to avail
him/herself of it...
For what ? For the purposes of the
Where do these come from ? From itself.
What is it ? Without the God to whom it belongs.
does it do about this ? Keeps its distance (cf. Ephesians -19).
Where then can it find relief ? By
How does it get it? By repentance and coming to the SECOND
PERSON, the SON who was SENT for just this.
HOW can one come? By the power of
the Holy Spirit, the THIRD Person, sent from the Father by the Son, who, on
going, said He would not leave them comfortless (company-less, strengthless, without the presence of God). This SPIRIT
CONVICTS (John 16:7-11).
|What is the
good of being convicted ?
|In a law court, it is bad, very bad. True, but where
it is THE TRUTH (and the Spirit of God is also called the SPIRIT OF TRUTH)
which, who convicts, then that is fine, just fine.
|Why ? Because then you find the truth, and the truth finds you - or this is at last along the way to becoming an occurrence. May it cease? Of course. You could grieve the Spirit.|
That is terrible? Yes, it is. But IF YOU COME, THE SON UNDERTAKES NOT to cast you out (John ). So come. You do not want to? Again, why worry! You do not believe it, as before. But you DO want to, but cannot? Nonsense. If you want to come, come. It is not hard to fall down before the Lord Jesus Christ as noted. IMPOSSIBLE! you retort. True, IF you do not believe. But if you do, then it is impossible NOT to! It is WHAT YOU BELIEVE and you will OF COURSE act on that. If shares are about to fall to nothing, and you value your inheritance, and wish to use it, then you sell first... don't you?
You may be disposed to argue. I MAY not, you say? No, you may not; but if you VALUE your inheritance and BELIEVE this is about to happen, then you will. Your double-mindedness (singularly unblessed before God - James 1:5-7) will not alter the fact that in that case you do not BELIEVE. A double mind is like double vision: as to sight, you are not there. If you believe, act; if you do not, there you are. You have what you want. I pity your plight then, but not more than that of someone with a fatal cancer - unless there be immediate operation. If the personality refuses, so be it. It is sad; but nowhere near as sad as would be the case if the OPERATION WERE UNAVAILABLE!
It IS very available; and it was made so by a grant of the Father so immense and so intense, that to refuse it is folly.
famous Dutch scholar of the reformation, wrote a book, In Praise of Folly,
in which he lashed the follies of
One further element, which follows from the others, is this. If it were felt that God, the Almighty, the Creator had in fact not spoken, not merely would it be contrary to the justice which is from Him, who made all things in their relationships as they ought to be; not merely would it similarly conflict with His truth, by which all reality has an owner and a word. Not only would justice and truth lie dead, while injustice and lies and fraud abounded. (Cf. Isaiah 59:14-15, and the divine sequel in 59:16-19, as to judgment, and Isaiah 51:16 as to remedy. Here the scripture also implies by revelation, and concerning revelation, that to which we have reasoned in terms of His manifest, divine nature.)
If, then, God had not spoken, while the world remained as it is, then God would also be insulted by the very thought that He would remain inactive in speech to direct and resolve the problems in His world, leaving in silence the insolence and madness of man, assaulting and offending each one the other.
It is not only blasphemy, that is a misuse of the very character of His glory; it would also be a denigration, a travesty and a direct personal offence so to speak or to think. A problem out of the power of God! a problem in the very world which He created, out of His depth, beyond His scope, when He had freely created all things, the whole set of abilities and of circumstances for all created life! It would be like telling a film star that she had no face, or a financier that he had no funds, or a real estate agent that he would not know a house if he saw one!
The concept that He would be willing, moreover, to let be such folly and filth, such wilful, wanton pain as we have just seen in Kuwait and with the Kurds, when, having a solution, He did not use it, this would be like telling a social hostess that she couldn't care less if her guests starved!
Thus there is not only the metaphysical madness of such assertions, such views, such positions: there is also the moral assault on God which is involved. If, indeed, we his creatures would be amazed at the madness of anyone suggesting such things about us, how much more should we be ashamed even to think such things about God, who gave us the power to think and the knowledge with which to know (cf. Psalm 94:8-11).
A solution He has indeed shown; and man, willing to move the blame for undoubtedly high-level immorality and actual agony, often sustained, onto God, wants Him a dumb dog, lying down and snoozing. Thus we, whom He created, are active, we think, we look for solutions, we can feel the horror of so much pain for others... but He, who made our hearts and our feelings and our moral thoughts in the beginning (however we misuse this equipment, yet it is there, in our hearts, however spoiled, leaving its residue at the worst), He does not feel ? God who made the heart, does He not feel? God who made the mouth, does not speak ? God who made the mind, does not think? To ask is to answer.
We have elsewhere traced the impossibility ontologically, the frank contradiction in having the all-powerful author of justice and ground of truth needlessly allowing flat and continual contradiction, when merely to apply His power removes the problem by removing the people who make it! Now we dwell on the incredible cheek, the irrational implicit assumptions on which any such notion is built.
The solution is available; has been shown from the first, predicted for centuries, performed by Jesus Christ, published, proclaimed and preached for thousands of years*4 concerning this same Jesus Christ, concerning whom no one has been able to show even one sin, and of whom even Muhammad had to admit the righteousness. To suggest that God has not spoken when His word circles the earth, His predictions noticeably control the whole direction and character of history, uniquely and utterly, and His Son went to the pain and anguish of bearing the sins of those who will forsake their own: this is to sustain, reinforce and add to the insults of the Cross, the calumnies of Calvary, the madness of the priests. It is to stand, arrogant and upright, in the presence of love, and call it hate or indifference; it is to look, princely and pure, at one's Creator and call Him dumb; compassionate and sensitive (courtesy of being created by one's Creator) and to call Him heartless... this while all the time, ignoring the solution which He has constructed, the sacrifice which He has made, the pardon which is so needed, but so ignored.
What is it like ? It is like prisoners in a prison, cut-throats, immoral and dead in spirit, raging at their victims, buried as a result of their crimes against them. Thus Jesus Christ was made a sin-offering to take the burden, the blight and the bane of sin from all who come by faith to receive Him. But He is not dead, and this insult to the moral nature of God is similar to the studious blindness which also slanders His power, by which His people have for centuries lived, their hearts in His peace and their persons alight with His love and presence.
It is therefore one more sin, that God is so `sentenced', as C.S. Lewis phrases it, God in the Dock, at the hands of man, His judges. But let us add this: He is being `sentenced' by those sinners to whom He is offering pardon, who are meanwhile slandering His sacrifice and sentencing themselves. In their hearts, truth is contaminated twice: once by sin, and then by sneering at its solution! For all this, the Bible has provided.
It is unwise and indeed the utmost in arrogant presumption if derivative man, with unmoored mind, man who does not accept the specific, identified and rationally necessary revelation of God, comes to pontificate on `truth', on the reality of things.
Will a conditioned or limited man, reacting and being able to do only what has been given him to do, erect himself as a founder of truth, a source of criticism of the God who made his little mind ? Will a cog discuss the design with the designer ? Will a man without the revelation of God, tell Him what it would be ? Will man show God His own mind!
Will a limited and sinful man without knowledge of absolute truth, even as a perspective, say that something is absolutely true, or work on bases and ideas as if they were valid and worth arguing from, when he does not yet have the knowledge of absolute truth, on which to start and on which to proceed: either not knowing God, or if knowing something of that, not believing it; or in any case, not having access to this absolute truth in the mind of God, who speaks when He will, as He will...
The case is hardly improved if man does not believe there is such a thing as absolute truth, while making various statements in which such a property is assumed to inhere, or presumed to be possible! Surely the Primary School student is scarcely guilty in his first beginnings of such enormities, through sheer immaturity, as beset the mind of mature man, through rebellion. (Cf. Chs. 3-4; pp. 292-315, 934-936 esp., infra.)
As to the LOVE of God, see Love that Passes Knowledge, Ch. 4 in The
As to the KINGDOM of heaven, see The Kingdom of Heaven... Ch.2.
All these thing are interwoven, like a tapestry of exceeding beauty, unutterable distinction and of a uniqueness which is literally divine.
Force is an irrelevance in matters of faith. Moslem approaches almost enslaved Europe in the 8th century, but it was delivered at the time of the Battle of Tours.
It is one of the reasons why such religion cannot be accepted, another being its lack of verification and the presence of anti-verification (cf. SMR pp. 50ff., 65ff., 829ff., 978ff.).
Thus Surah IX.27 also has this: ``Fight against such of those to
whom the scriptures were given as believe neither in God nor the last Day ... and
do not embrace the true faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are
Force however is merely an abortion of truth when it is made a criterion. To
bring retribution is one thing; to imagine that subjection by force to a 'faith'
is relevant to truth is to forget what man is: an evaluating being. What
distorts humanity in the name of divinity is neither humane nor divine. See also
Koran text in Divine Agenda Ch. 6.
See also, More Marvels ... Ch. 4.
Force is equally devastating to such religions as that of Hitler (his absolute was in fact a mystic haze and craze, in some kind of association, it seems with Rosenberg), of Communism, and modern variants such as al Qaeda, which is a horn of Islam; but it applies no less to the more subtle efforts of any ostensibly democratic States, which use people to annul freedom of speech, of a rational and well-researched kind, for this is just one more FORCE. If this puts people in prison or annuls posts at Universities or fines: then it is in the same direction, enforced spiritual subservience by exclusion and indirection both: an errant substitute for faith, masquerading in this case as secular. What students do not get, their teachers may not give. It is an iron triangle: force, exclusion, deprivation.
It is sad. Thus so many of these students will look forward to the everlasting darkness of gloom, where reality has been countermanded by their wills, and reality is NOT available at their desire.
Excuses, excuses, excuses! They are like the people who were invited to the King's Feast for the Marriage of His Son (Matthew 22:1-4). Some were pre-occupied with a new wife, a new land purchase ... but not occupied with that which was right and due and required.
Whether it be rational or volitional or cultural or historical, whether psychical or emotional: there is no valid excuse, but there are many words. Neither reason nor culture nor emotion nor will has any sound ground to offer; only the vexatious contumacy of alien desire. Nothing logical so much as stands, as shown in SMR Chs.1,3,10 and in That Magnificent Rock so often.
Reality countermanded by will is not countermanded; it is merely denied, and where denied it can crush without apparent feeling, though in fact, the system which is then the steam-roller, having been opted for, and this without its Maker, it can seem that way (cf. Psalm 1:4-5). Like the chaff blown away are the wicked, and what more wicked than this, that the invitation of the King of Eternity is given in time, short, breath-drawing time, an asinine rejection, as if the passing wave of a moment, were worth the ocean!
Many like jet-setters seem to rush to their doom as if there is scarcely time to reach it, before, before ... But it will be there. The flight in this short life is so fast. The time is so short, to reach an eternity emptied of all except judgment, it is quite fast for so short a time as that in which we draw breath on this earth. There is not the slightest danger of missing this, on that way and walk and procedure and ground. What is vapid does not stand; and what is rested on, being not there, gives no support. The bottomless pit is what it says, a way of life without support, ground or meaning, that goes down, descending to ever more apt and desolate depths that are grounded on ... nothing.
Paul Davies' metaphysical theories must be given credit for having formulated this part, from the physical side, so well, yet alas, so blindly! However this, his nothing is not what he imagined (That Magnificent Rock, Ch.7), this efficient nullity that does so well without anything to it ; and alas, it is not merely physical, but spiritual; and is not a genesis, a contradiction in terms, but a destiny; and as to that, not its totality, but its heart. His 'nothing', as illusion, should be tagged, not trusted in. There will be enough of it before the judgment seat of God, where it consists not least in the no-basement to the pit ( Matthew 22:13).
It is this which the Bible teaches, the Book which changes not over thousands of years, while physics makes its bow to the 'inevitable' almost every year, a mutability as ephemeral in its ideas as the butterfly. God? He says it, and it endures (cf. Matthew 24:35); and then endures.... Nor is it surprising that He should know so much better! Nor is it wise, in treating His word, to disregard it. It does not change. THIS is the analysis of God, not man, for all who disregard His infinite wisdom and counsel and might, as a Person: THE FOOL HAS SAID IN HIS HEART, THERE IS NO GOD (Psalm 14:1, 53:1), and the noteworthy point here is this: The word 'fool' in that context means - empty person!
God in the
Bible is the Almighty, is Spirit, is the Creator and Purveyor of all, and the
divergence between Him and .... nothing,
is infinite. That is some error, to make: an infinite error. The results of it
likewise have no end. The rebuff? It is from God - not
man, from His word, not that of man: like the result.