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THE EIGHTH HARMONY
Led by the Nose, by Desire
or by the Spirit of the Living God
According to HIS WORD
The 8th island -
Licence for Liberty Ch. 7, esp. pp. 119ff..
See also, as for Ch. 7 below, TTT 9.
It is not a matter of not testing the spirits (as in I John), or on the other hand, dispensing with divine guidance as in classical theological complacency; nor is it a question of selecting as unacceptable certain biblically exemplified modes of guidance, such as dream, vision or constraint, as if mandated to deny them; nor is it sound carelessly to follow such. It is not a matter of denying or as if autonomous, merely relying on the use of the mind as it surveys the scene, since if it is based on the Lord and His word, it is a utility divinely provided.
Rather is it a matter of trusting God according to His promises, neither adding to them nor subtracting, never adding to His word written, the Bible, and with due use of all the faculities granted to man, then by faith ascertaining the wisdom promised (James 1), checking all things by that same word of God. Fears of abuse are met by faith and the Bible, since both come from God, and lead to God, who alone will guide, and that as He will.
LICENCE TO BE LED
WHERE IS YOUR LICENCE
You may say that you need no licence to be led, that this is a personal decision, existential, emotional or intellectual, and that even if not some combination of this trio, it has nothing in the world or out of it, to do with authorisation.
Ask the Communists, however, and you will not find consent, or consensus for that matter.
Ask the Army, and they will not agree. They view it as a matter of echelons of command, political, military and sequences of thought and order, organisation and procedure.
Ask a democratic country, if you can find one, and see if they agree: Oh no! it is for the representatives to be elected, their parties to grope and group if necessary to find a majority, for the majority to rule, for the rules to be made, and for the electors to abide by them.
Ask yourself: DO YOU allow yourself to be led by ANYTHING ?
If not, why protest. You need licence to be led. . . even if YOU are the licensing authority, that is, in your own eyes.
You will have priorities, even if one of them is to have no priorities: THAT then becomes the exalted statute of your heart. You will have codes, even if not codified, what one should, may or WILL NOT do, even if it is merely NOT to do what these MORAL people do, viewing them as heartlessly bound, inconsequentially circumscribed or in whatever other light your own light (or darkness, as the case may be) LEGISLATES in your own thought, conscience and convictions.
There are some things you will not do... but it is a little more complicated than that, even at the outset. There is a distinction between what you WOULD NOT WISH to do, and what YOU DO NOT DO. Paul is extreme in his depiction of this, but only because he is so spiritually sensitised as to SEE what goes on, without the clouds of self-justification covering the case. In Romans 7 he is clear: the case he is reviewing as indicative of the need of salvation was nothing less than his own. It was not merely an episode in which he lapsed, but a condition of heart in which he languished. What he would do, he failed to do; what he would NOT do, he would find himself doing. His ideals were like a glider, aloft but subject to downdrafts. There was inadequate power, propulsion upward, control of currents to compensate, for achievement of direction OF THE EXALTED KIND HE HAD IN MIND.
So, the apostle indicated,
he served God with his mind, but there was a law in him, sin, which disturbed
the complexion of the lake of his heart, and brought up a turgidity to the look
of its waters. Indeed, the more, in the aroused sensitivity of his soul, he
urged upward, the more he found a downdraft to combat it.
· "FOR I KNOW THAT IN ME (THAT IS, IN MY FLESH) NOTHING GOOD DWELLS: FOR TO WILL IS PRESENT WITH ME, BUT HOW TO PERFORM WHAT IS GOOD I DO NOT FIND." Thus, "the good that I will do to, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practise ... for I delight in the law of God in the inward man, but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind ... O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death ?"
We have considered this elsewhere and told the story of the young boy with his powered little plane who allowed it to circle to the rapture of other children, in its zooming flight, who grew to maturity in time to belong to the first of the few, in 1939-1940, who gloried in attainment, in achievement in clever combat manoeuvres, in shooting down the enemy raiders, free to be led to the heights so that they did not see him against the sun, in those illiterate days of guidance systems; and then, swooping with daring, he would destroy them. When another went yet above him, and played on his swooping with a more altitudinous swooping of his own, and shot HIM down, then we had the drama. He would GO UP, with his mind, but the 'wretched machine', like Paul's 'body of death', would have nothing of it.
DOWN it went, even though it was so magnificently built, a Spitfire! Yes, and one might point out, the excellence of its aerodynamics might assist its flight downward, mispowered and misdirected !
He could not more contrive an upward passage, in his aircraft, than Paul in his earlier life.
Just then, an aircraft
carrier beneath directed fire into the aerial scene, and a chance bullet
hitting his harness, he was at last enabled to escape the tormented mess of his
machine, and parachuting to safety, was able as he wafted, to discern his
smoking relic of an aeroplane, by another amazing eventuation, moving straight
onto the aircraft carrier as if he had directed it.
It was his own!
Soon it hit, the vessel went down and oil remained to attest, with whatever other colours, its departure.
The code is of course means this: the pilot is Paul, or for us, anyone with enough perception or humility to see the failure of the highest, of the very brilliance and radiance, the excellence and purity and peace of God in his life. Indeed, it is anyone so stricken by God, that he at least begins to see his real position relative to sin.
He would be led above, but he is not. Whatever plane of operation he may reach, it is beneath what he perceives in God, as the desirable, the spiritual. Perhaps he is tending merely to satisfy himself or his own ambitions, with God an admiring bystander, or whatever other arrogance; but whatever the perception, it is clear that this is not good enough for God!
Our pilot, then,
enjoys his victories; his heart grows accustomed to lower levels, and soon he
finds his rejoicing cut short. He is exposed to himself as a failure in what he
would do, and some sin moves to capture him. He cannot escape. Suddenly a
bullet, the gospel, hits his harnessing contraption, and he is released
miraculously. He is now "in heavenly places" as Ephesians describes life in Christ; but to his
horror perceives the COST of his release as the sin-laden craft of his life
meets its destiny of judgment ON the Christ, from whom the deliverance first
proceeded. Christ dies, and the crucifixion covers the craft he lost, the life
he had yielded to Him; and he perceives this: "God forbid that I should glory
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to
me and I to the world" - Galatians 6:14.
· This was the resolution. So Paul covered in biographical form, the deliverance his life now attests, as he says in Romans 8:
· "... the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
Thus we have come to the conclusion that there is a LICENCE which you yourself have, concerning the things into which you may be led, and may not; and that this is not the same thing entirely as its exercise. A gap or gulf can arise, depending on how exalted your aim is, or how low. It is however there. Perfect people are sooner met in their words concerning themselves, than in the observable deeds!
WHO GAVE YOU YOUR LICENCE ?
Of course, you could make any moral rules, at your own will, and these are not really moral if so, because this is merely the outward or propositionalised presentation of your inward desire. WHY it is your desire is the all important question in definition. If it is that it APPEALS to you, so may passion fruit ice-cream on a hot Summer's day, but this is not moral. If it appeals to your sense of rightness, then the origin of that sense becomes the burning issue.
If it just that it occurs to you that it is right, then that becomes merely a preference of your mind, like one for watching clouds, and is not moral, but a question of inclination at the mental level. If, again, it is merely a marvel of your heart, something that fascinates you, or has always seemed right to you, that then becomes an inward cultural matter, a thing of what has been and is, and is no more moral than eleven o'clock services for Church (or immoral). It is a happening within the person which appeals to a sense of fitness. It is not necessarily right or wrong, and has no moral ingredient.
If however you say this: I am convinced that this set of priorities, preferences and penchants (whichever one you choose to name, we'll called it PPP) is good and right, and so moral, then we must enquire further. Is it good and right for all, and hence should it be carried into effect by all, so that you become Moses II ? or something of this kind ?
If you say, YES, then we must enquire into what knowledge of the HUMAN SOUL, NATURE, DESIGN and PURPOSE has been committed to you and from what source. It CANNOT be from observation, since what IS constitutes an entirely different domain from what OUGHT to be. It cannot be from analysis of any kind in that direction. It might be from an inspiration of your spirit, but then we must ask in all propriety, before your legislation hits the tarmac of truth and is obligatory for all 'right-thinking' people, what was the SOURCE of this inspiration ?
If it was ANYTHING to do with yourself as the medium, we do not find the grounds for the authority of elevating you to the hierarchy of holiness so that you can legislate by your own perception; there are other perceptions from other members of our race. If you say, It would help us to survive better, that is not moral. That is merely instrumental. It might be right or wrong, but unless you knew all, you could not tell that. Then, moreover, the question of the morality or otherwise of selecting survival as a goal arises. It may be a subordinate question, as in the physical life of Jesus Christ, where it was infinitely, deliberately, and predictedly MOST subordinate. That is merely begging the question, then.
If on the other hand, you have some religious experience, existential uplift or whatever, then we must again ask, Is it merely from yourself ? If so, as before. Is it however from a spiritual source which possesses the ground plan of man, his purpose, his design, his place, and from this have you been gifted to read the result, which you now graciously depose for us to look at ? If so, we are bound, since many have such experiences, and they too are human, to ask what is the authority and certainty of your utterance, and how can we attest this source; for if the source is willing, doubtless his or its authority can be verified; but if unwilling, we are in a turmoil of contradiction already, and can leave such fights to their own domain.
In short, to be led means either presumption in ignoring the due source and recourse and designer and maker of man, failure in finding him, or HIS leading.
We have in SMR seen in detail, as often elsewhere, that God is, that His propositionalised presentation to man of His desires and design is in the Bible, that it is epitomised in exemplary form in Jesus Christ, who was in the most astounding way, actually God definitive, God declared, incarnation once only at one date only as prescribed in the Book, the Bible. All this is in the same work and we have often reviewed and rehearsed this; but now it is our desire to proceed from this to our next concerns in the area of being led.
What we have now seen is this: that unless it is from the verified, attested God our Maker, nothing is moral. Now do not misunderstand: it may be MEANT to be moral, or FELT to be moral, or TAKEN AS moral; but it is misled. It may have approximation in some degree to what is divinely granted and so be near the vein of the moral, indeed; but it is not in itself moral unless it is objectively what OUGHT to be, and this is the only ought which exists.
Nothing which happens CAN be the source of morals; only what is directive from the arena of creation, divinity, where to be beyond us, and over us, and to know us, and our purpose, is endemic, intrinsic; whereas for us, without God, it is extrinsic and in ourselves, we cannot attain.
All our moral efforts without Him are but reflections of the dual folly: unenlightened aspiration towards goodness, or righteousness, language to suit, and no basis whatever to differentiate it or meet its mandate or quality, like a ship's name without any vessel. Only the diffused deliverances of the spoiled image of God remain, giving any yen or acclaim to what is after all, otherwise merely what someone desires or someones want, in this or that respect, useless and impossible to propagate without that inherent readiness to receive, which likewise is the source of such awe and hymn-like worshipping as seem to occur in the soccer crowds, amongst such of them as do not die in the recurrent crushes.
The imprint of the maker is on the brick, whatever the subsequent flames, and however defaced. We however are not bricks but persons, so that the structure of language and yearning remain, even when the structure of faith has vanished. (Cf. The Other News 19, SMR pp. 582ff., 258ff.).
TO BE LED, then, requires our finding the source of obligation beyond power and human authority, which latter can be wicked and corrupt and constantly clashes in principle and practice, each one of various contestants calling the other bad.
To have principles and standards, duties and obligations MORALLY, and not merely socially or economically, matters of convenience or presumption as the case may be, of feeling or hope, this requires God. To practise them requires His grace, presence and power. This Paul attests. It also requires peace with Him, through the Cross as in Romans 8:1-2, 5:1-11, so that this power might flow as a river to the plains, and that as Jeremiah puts it, as pure water from icy sources to the needs of the soul. We find it in the negative in Jeremiah 2:13:
"For My people have committed two evils;
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water."
Here the futile character of moral midgetry is considered, its temporary, temporising and impure constitution, its lifelessness. However in Jeremiah we find this:
a man leave the snow water of
Which comes from the rock of the field ?
Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters ?"
case, the source of the cleansing, refreshing, uplifting agency to the spirit
of man is noted, and it is seen clean, comparable with snow waters, such as one
finds from Mt Kosciusko in the lower reaches, blue and pure, cool and
delightful, with the authentic taste from the authentic source. It is not from
oneself. One is not for one's own part the snow of
Hence in Jeremiah likewise
we find this:
"O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness,
That you may be saved.
How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you ? ... ()
My people are wise to do evil,
But to do good they have no knowledge" ().
And why is this ?
"For My people are foolish,
They have not known
They are silly children,
And they have no understanding..." ().
Let us then perceive what is actually written in Jeremiah.
It is as he says repeatedly in essence, just this ():
you say, 'Because I am innocent,
Surely His anger shall turn from me.'
Behold, I will plead My case against you,
Because you say, 'I have not sinned.' "
That is why.
Here then we have already seen two causes, both in God's mistreatment by them. They lack understanding, their morals are wrong-headed, their consciences are distorted, they are self-congratulatory, they ignore reality, they turn from God to themselves and imagine morality, spirituality, what you may wish to call what they congratulate themselves upon, and are altogether such a noxious misrepresentation of reality, combined with self-esteem that it is an intolerable anguish of wreckage to behold.
And if more were wanted, it is to be found in such places as this:
"Return O backsliding
, says the LORD... Israel
For I am merciful, says the LORD ...
Only acknowledge your iniquity,
That you have transgressed against the LORD your God..." (from Jeremiah -13).
But how do you transgress, except against what is the standard ? But this too is explicit also:
can you say, 'We are wise,
And the law of the LORD is with us '?
Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood.
The wise men are ashamed,
They are dismayed and taken.
they have rejected the word of the LORD:
So what wisdom do they have?" (8:8-9).
But if you want more, concerning their wills, as well as concerning His word, their foolishness, their inflated self-normative wisdom, and their sleazy and conniving customs of misusing the word of the Lord as well, let us consider this:
this people has a defiant and rebellious heart:
They have revolted and departed.
They do not say in their heart,
'Let us now fear the LORD our God...' ...
Your iniquities have turned these things away,
And your sins have withheld good from you" - from -25.
There you have it, the law, the Lord, the way, the word, the rebellion, the diffusion of their own thoughts, the ingenious and disingenuous ways of seeking to rationalise rebellion.
But there are two more features of this approach which are both germane to our current purpose. Thus we find that they have a proclivity to listen to fraudulent substitutes for God, of whatever name, description or ascription:
"And the LORD said to me, 'The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them nor spoken to them: they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart" (Jeremiah ).
As if this
were not enough, this proclivity, in ignoring the Lord, though not so much
verbally as actually, they heed follies without authority, according to the
whim, will, caprice, convenience of the moment; and then dignify this with some
sort of religious significance ? no, actually, more than that, in this case,
with being from the LORD! How far must deceit and depravity go before the
people will listen to the realities, find again the word of the centuries, the
work of the Lord, and HEED IT.
It does not change. It is; and it is not, and never has been, hard to find. It has no comparables; there is no other pedigree; and in our day, NOTHING ELSE meets all the requirements of scientific method, let alone with such a lustre of lordly super-competence as to make that seem what it is, almost child's play (cf. SMR pp. 931ff., 140ff., 830, 991ff., 1081, Ch. 10, TMR Ch.1).
The DISSEMINATION of the word, and the cost of making it effectual, when God became man to pay the price of sin on the Cross, that is the hard part. WE however neither did nor do have to do it; it is humility or realism in accepting, in receiving it which is to the point; and what it portends, the LORD HIMSELF!
Thus the love of God, in all this, either then or now, it is not lacking:
Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness,
That you may be saved... " (); but consider this,
"Woe to you, O Jerusalem, will you not be made clean ? when shall it once be ?" ().
But do you wish a summary ? By all means:
"Who is the wise man, that may understand this ? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD has spoken, that he may declare for what the land is perishing is burned up like a wilderness, so that none passes through it ?
"And the LORD says, 'Because they have forsaken My law which set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, neither walked in it; but have walked after the stubbornness of their own heart..."
(from Jeremiah -14). Another rendering for
'stubbornness' is 'imagination'.
it what you will, religious or irreligious, novel and new age or old and really
it is all one.
it is NOT what He requires,
and it is NOT moral,
vitamised but without vital spiritual vitamins, being profusely polluted, and with a sort of incandescent impudence,
"Yes," declares Jeremiah from the so neglected LORD, "the stork in the heaven knows her appointed times; and the turtle and the swallow and the crane observe the time fo their coming; but My people do not know the ordinance of the LORD" (Jeremiah 8:7).
HOW DOES THE LICENCE WORK ?
When however you have NOT insufferably congratulated yourself on your religion or religiosity; and NOT confused the Lord with the latest in low cost, self-esteem oriented butcheries of truth, which blow their trumpets as if they had a delayed contest with the Pharisees of Christ's day (Matthew 23 exposes them), to find the all-time championship for arrogance disdain, and self-will, in religious modes, or in irreligious ones, where the religious is so suppressed that its very name is omitted in the subjectivistic moral legislation which fills the spot in the forsaken heart where the Lord should be: what then ?
Then it is very interesting, intriguing and delightful. It is like all reality, a matter for study, for practice, for realisation and growth - that is, for man on this pilgrimage.
"Not," says Paul, "that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind..." (from Philippians -15).
The WORD and the WORK of God is perfect; but what of us who have received Him (John ) and so become children of God ?
What of those who have found in Him our Lord, and so follow His words (Luke 6:16, Matthew 5:178-20, John 12:48ff., -23, Matthew 23:8-10), and not those of someone else at the moral and the spiritual level ?
What of those who, likewise, recognising that these levels being those of the Commander in Chief of the whole Universe - an item which He in fact created (Colossians 1:15), so that He is the first born over it, though long since was it born, was His arrival within it - then they are sovereignly His, and His alone: what of these ?
These have to grow, to learn. You have a licence to grow, a fact we may consider more later, but have considered in the past, noting that being born again is the nursery, or midwifery; but there is the SCHOOL of CHRIST, where you grow UP INTO HIM, who is the HEAD (Ephesians 4:15). What does it say ?
according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body, for the edifying of itself in love."
In the matter of BEING LED, what then are some of the matters for growth, for effectiveness, for good discipline, for strength, in order to be "pleasing Him in all things" ? (Colossians 3:10). Indeed, let us expose the direction more fully, of this moral and spiritual dynamic: "that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power; for all patience and longsuffering with joy..." (Col. 3:10-11).
We shall at least postpone the latter part of this, till we consider the former part. The way you live has to be worthy of the Lord; it has to reflect the standards of His house, its purity, its fearlessness, its faith, its ruggedness in the face of all opposition, its gentleness in the face of all need, its forgiving spirit, its resolute deportment, its fruitful attention to production, and it has to be a way of living such that as you abide (cf. Questions and Answers 6 ), you GROW.
Indeed, as you grow you are strengthened, and this not merely by an internal harmony and feeding, but by His Spirit; but the power is not gross, but gracious, and you find patience is a power in you, for its end is clear, and you have a longsuffering as you go about shining in the light of the Lord, irradiated in your devotions, enabled in your work, so that even bearing things is a matter of joy. You know WHY you are doing it all, and both the end and the aim, the intrinsic nature of what you do and its results are all good.
Your morals in the Lord, are intricately interlocked, and exquisitely worked out, for it is HIS hands which made the stars (Psalm 8), and the mathematical processions and precisions associated with them, and indeed with your own brain and nervous system, these being almost trifles compared with your spirit and its liberties, and licences, both proper and improper, the dower of freedom, the result of being in the image of God. Your morals are a spiritual consequence of knowing the Lord, a sort of hi-fibre consequence of abiding in His spiritual realities, in which the living dynamic and the lovely nature of God has issuance on earth in things of this sort.
They are laws delightful, because they have spiritual source. They are goods as goads, because they are pricked into the heart by the wonder of the Lord. They are like spray from high waterfalls, because the torrent is strong, like iridescence from the spray, like the sound of the waters: you love the falls, the water, so the results are lovable too, not done in mere automatic and arid desire, but wrought in love from the heart. Hence you must LOVE the LORD with all your heart and soul, mind and strength, and then the goodness of the Lord being present, you love it too. You believe in Him, so that His power is always sufficient for your need, and if at times, as Peter twice indicates, you have heavy trials (I Peter 1:6, 5:10-11), these the more establish you; and if it seems too much, then you have the escape-or-strengthen provision of I Corinthians 10:13, by which EITHER it is reduced, or YOU are increased!
GETTING ON WITH LEADING
You will notice in Romans 8:10-17, that there is a fascinating exposition of things spiritual, the power needed and supplied, the direction and the quality. Thus Paul declaims that if you are a Christian AT ALL (Romans 8:8-9), then you are not "in the flesh", that is, subject to the calls of mind, body and psyche, to do what comes naturally, as if it were your Lord. Further, you are in that case, "in the Spirit", which does NOT mean in some exalted state obliterating mind and duties, but DOES mean in the sway, power and presence of the Lord Himself, by this outpouring and presence and intimation of His being, sent to those who are His children (8:16-17) and heirs.
If then, as for ANY Christian whatsoever, Christ is in you by His Spirit (and as Christ fully exposes in His expression, the intimations of the deity, so the Spirit exposes the realities of Christ, not speaking for His own part, but as conveying and communicating Christ - John 16:7-13. Christ, then, being in you (as in John -54, Colossians ): then "the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness".
But you may ask: WHAT,
please, has this to do with GUIDANCE ? In response:
Did you not notice in Romans 8:14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" ? Did you not heed the word ... LED! And in Romans , that it is the SPIRIT OF ADOPTION ? Did you imagine then that the adopted child of God would never be subject to, indeed privileged to find the presence of God in all the needs of life ? or that he or she would be treated like some vagabond!
Now let us resume. "Christ in you" - now do not complain about "Christ ? " "in you ?", for if you know Christ, you will rather be looking for vocabulary with which to express it, this knowledge, this Christ in you, than querying what it means; as those who listen to music do not need to be told that the sound is distinctive, though indeed they may legitimately wish for more knowledge of its tonal qualities, melodic variations and thematic content.
"The body is dead" - is simply metonymy for this: that the whole call and plausibility of natural forces, such as the physiological, the psychological, the social, the cultural and so forth, is not an object of art in the drawing room of your soul, is not a desideratum, far less a religion or religious entity, or composite one. It implies this: that GOD takes the place of the creation, as is just and seemly and fitting and orderly, in the soul of this CREATION=YOU. It is therefore you, the Christian, who having the specific imprint of the image of God in the very fact of being created, now have the linkage appropriate, lively and working. The case then resembles that of a car in which someone did not know the air-conditioning was so much as there; but when it was at last duly serviced, he simply turned it on.
You cannot, of course, lest the imagery mislead, be said to 'turn God on', but you can use the facility of the Spirit of Christ in you, and He can use you, to communicate in such ways as He pleases, with Him, and He does as He will, in reciprocity.
That is prayer. But if you are in some way led, how could it be ?
It could be a vision; there is no legislation for it or against it, except to avoid impressions of angels and of new doctrine! (Colossians 2:18ff., Rev. 22:18ff., Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1). The age of the master builders is past (I Corinthians 3:9-10, Ephesians -20), and the foundation is laid, the building HAS BEEN BUILT, as there written, and we are the stones (cf. I Peter 2:5ff.).
It could be in an
impression, it could be in the impact of the word of God as you read it,
applying itself to the case, in your knowledge of the same, in your researches
in the same, in circumstances which God may invent to help you find His will
and way, in friendly counsel alerting you to the things of God: but IN THE END
it comes THROUGH YOUR FAITH, BY HIS FAVOUR, in answer to believing prayer
(James 1:3-8). Again you may ask ... "faith ?" But if this is
unclear, it is presumably because you have omitted to believe, since faith,
whether in a mother or father or friend, is not so notable and abstruse a thing
as to cause trouble. You trust or do not; and with God, you trust (as is apt
and fitting and appropriate to your Creator and Redeemer), absolutely and
Indeed, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not to your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths" - Proverbs 3:5-6.
deacon, was led by the Spirit to go into the desert in the very midst of
a most 'successful' or effective spiritual campaign in the Gospel; and when he
got there, he met an Ethiopian eunuch at that very time, reading from the
prophet Isaiah, at that very place in Isaiah 53 which REQUIRED his being
instructed for understanding. Philip, called and having come, duly did
this, confirmed that it led to faith, and baptised him who was not beforehand
baptised; so that the gospel could go to
One always remembers a poor theological student who seemed to laugh at the way in which Philip was carried away on this mission, as if to ridicule the language of such absolute direction; but alas one says 'poor' since this man became crippled not too long afterwards. There is nothing we can do to LIMIT the Holy One of Israel, with wisdom, for any of the ways in which He may choose to guide His people (Psalm 78:41):
There is no WORD in the Bible to SAY or STATE in principle that such guidance will STOP. There is no word to promise that it will come IN THAT WAY, either. It is an example for our instruction in righteousness, and neither for the presumption of disbelief, nor that of making it a law that it is an 'inner voice' or any such thing. God guides HOW He will. It is His affair; it is for us to have the faith in His fatherly power and love, His redeeming effectuality so that SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER YOU (Romans 6:1ff.), and far less will you sin that grace may abound!
SIN is the enemy of life; and the devil merely its exponent. It is to be avoided. If it is not, then any amount of grace can be defiled, and the good turned to evil, and good things withheld, just as Jeremiah stated and we saw earlier, because of it. The children of God are not so disenabled, through His gracious workings (I John 3:9), not making sin their practice of life (nor any false conception of anything like perfection, measured in Christ, their self-acclaim!).
It is necessary to be OPEN
to guidance, but CLOSED to presumption: on the one hand and upon the other. God
will guide us who are His in Christ; we can be sure of that. If we are willing
and redeemed, then as adopted children we are guaranteed His Fatherly love and
mercy and lovingkindness, and competence and sufficiency in all things (I Cor.
10:13, II Peter 1, II Cor. 3:5, Psalm 145:8-18, 86:7-11, 94:12ff., 64:19-22,
69:31-32, 68:28-29, 143:10, 97:11, 43:3, 112:4).
It is worthwhile in our current purpose, indeed, to examine the last three a little more, and some of the context:
Thus there is a providential presentation of the light which is needed to walk in a world so dark in so many crevices, crevasses and torments of evil. So does the Lord provide.
2. "Oh, send out your light and Your
Let them lead me:
Let them bring me to Your holy hill,
And to your tabernacle.
Then will I go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy..."
This reminds us of two things. Firstly, we must both SEEK and EXPECT the divine guidance into truth and righteousness, whatever it takes; and secondly, there is a congregation of His people, with whom fellowship and conversation are good, in the midst of which there is much blessing, as in love His work is wrought (cf. Malachi 3:16-18). We do not confuse them with the Lord; nor with strangers. They are brethren in the faith, and how good is unity in their midst (Psalm 133), and what wonderful guidance can there come in matters relating to the body as one whole.
This is illustrated in Acts 13:1-3, in which case Paul for one, was chosen as a missionary! Note too the glorious harmony in the very midst of affliction shown in Acts 4:23ff., just as the apostles were being subjected to repetitive official persecution, and were being required to be BOLD and CLEAR in the faith, in a way so diverse from so much that is now found, in the great apostasy (as in II Thess. and compare Answers to Questions 5), that it is a delight to read of it, almost like rain in drought.
"Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me into the land of uprightness" (Psalm 143:10).
Here is the yearning for the tang of truth, the relish of righteousness, based on the love of the Lord whose are these things, and who is liberal with them to the heart, conscience and life of His people. Here is a leading which is a brace and support for much more!
4. "Unto the upright there arises light in darkness:
Gracious, and full of compassion and righteous..." (Psalm 112:4).
Here the relationship between the MORAL and the GUIDANCE is clearly close!
That brings us back to precisely that relationship in Romans 8:10-14, where the elimination of the sovereignty (not existence) of sin in the life is in the same swathe as the presence of being led by the Spirit, and further, led in a way which is TOWARDS righteousness. MANY things happen WITHIN the righteous walk, as when Abraham's servant, BY FAITH, went out and found a bride in the place appointed by his master, in a way, again, past all prediction, and with the very writing or wiring if you like imagery, of the Lord upon or within it!
How amazing that the young lady who came was both of the kin and of the heart needed! (Genesis 24). Does someone laugh at that ? That is then because of a lack of faith. WHEN you know your heavenly Father as such, it is nearer, except for pity and courtesy, to a laughing matter when someone does NOT believe that hard or easy, the PLAN and the way will be given, that light WILL arise for His children, even in darkness.
The fascinating thing here is this: that it is the faith which makes the heart ready to receive, and the very disinclination, be it one of mockery or mere mist, is its own reward. It has a tanker jet beside it, and laughs at the conception of transfer. So be it. It saves petrol, one is tempted to say: but in any case, if the heart is not ready, then the gift is of small use. It merely dribbles over the side of the unconnected plane, and is lost. So it is not perhaps given at all! ASK and you will receive, SEEK and you will find, KNOCK and it will be opened to you. But make sure of one thing: that the hand that knocks is one of a child of God, who having entered by that authorised and divine gate (John 10:9), becomes one of the children!
THE LICENCE TO BE LED !
SO there IS a licence to be led. It starts with being led to the Lord; then in being led to receiving His pardon; and in being led to take His ransom, and in being ready to surrender to Him all things, as in Luke 14:27ff.; for when God is concerned, there is first of all no one else, and only then does all fit back together.
It is amazingly close to the manner in which my CD writer was fitted into my now not so young computer. Effort was made, in vain, to get it to work. The agent could not, and it would not, and trouble if not torment ensued. At last, one was advised that he would have to remove all the contents of the hard disk, and give a virgin instalment, as he called it, for the CD writer, and only then could all the rest be re-fitted.
It was costly that, not so much in money but results. He seemed to find or give, or in any case be met with some foreign material, so that things had to be dumped, and some of the contents were lost. Many days (perhaps 14) passed before all was back in order. Fortunately nothing crucial was lost, and so the Lord led. But then, after such an implantation, how WONDERFULLY well the CD writer has worked, often causing one to marvel in gratitude for so efficient, hard-working and unobtrusive a piece of equipment, which scarcely seems to know how to err!
THAT is a parable if you like! How well and wisely it goes if you are radical in faith and true in reception, as one must be, when in need of God! Therefore, get the installation of the word of God complete, of the ransom of God total, receive of the presence of God without apology to the world or to one's life, which, comparatively, one must HATE, in the sense that it has no compromises for its own dear sake! When you are so fitted out and received, how pleasant it is to KNOW the Lord, and to FIND in experience what He says in word; because, you see, the installation is not then fictional, far less fictitious, or meretricious: instead, it is actual.
THEN, as a child of God, as adopted, as sealed (Ephesians 1), and so according to Romans 8:29ff., as one elect and predestined (for you CANNOT be in the JUSTIFIED position, UNLESS first you were in the predestined one, as you see there in the internalised circuitry in Romans at that place), you act as one, are treated as one, and find the love of your heavenly Father. It is not without discipline (Hebrews 12:7ff.), and certainly not without awe (Hebrews 12:21ff., 28ff.); for God is not without glory, but is the very base and original of it all! Then the knowledge of God (John 17:3) is secure, spiritual and a thing of wisdom, and His wisdom, staggeringly as in James 1, He is willing to impart by faith.
It is not so much some MIGHTY WORK of faith which is required, but quite simply this, that in the reception of His salvation, you utterly trust Him.
If you do not trust God, you are it seems quite clear, not born! HOW on earth would the unborn, then receive ANY guidance for the path to walk. They do not even have feet!
But rather as Hebrews again tells us, "make straight paths for your feet" (), and make strong the "feeble knees" and being girded and engraced (Ephesians 1:6) by the Lord, proceed with all due deliberation. Then, with information from the word of God, and faith as the occasion presents, and the word of the Lord directs, the wisdom accorded enables, and the provisions show. You are led. Because God is there, so is the way.
For more detail on guidance, see A Question of Gifts, Section X*1.
Meanwhile, here is the licence in Romans 8:16, and here is the example in Acts 8:26ff., or in Acts 10:9ff., or in Acts 16:6ff., and here is one of our islands, where there is division from the mainland, and it is needful to avoid excesses.
NEITHER is it true that you CANNOT have such guidance as here is exemplified, for ALL scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness and edification (II Timothy 3:16); NOR is it true that you can EXPECT such forms of guidance, as if by divine right; NOR is it true that this was only for the mission field, then, or now if it is needy enough, or whatever other rationalisation culture or tradition may supply. As to THAT, it is God's own affair. He is very deep; He understands these things. He does not need us to give HIM guidance on what type of guidance is fitting for His church. Pastors and elders do not NEED to instruct the most high on the preferabilities pastorally, and on the dangers of vulnerable and misguided souls replacing stern study of the scriptures for light and frothy imaginations!
The truth is simple:
· HE will guide in any way He wishes.
· He requires study of His word.
· He requires that we abide in His presence, removing sin with zeal, waiting and watching for Him (cf. Psalm 42, 66:18).
· His church may be of aid in the finding of His will.
· One is not so limited in all cases by any means, and may have to seek correction in the church.
· One should beware of contrived imaginations, which are not the fruit of dutiful living, sober self-discipline and Biblical principles.
· One should likewise beware of excluding Biblical examples, as evidence of what the LORD MIGHT see fit to do.
This is then, one more place where leaving extremes on both sides, either forgetting biblical principles, or bringing in new ones, one can find that beautiful unity, and return from the isles of isolative extremes. For other "islands" of this kind, to which return would well be made to the 'mainland' of Biblical moderation, following what it says, and not tradition or inflated and spurious misconceptions: see Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2 and News 124, Part II.
Your licence then, to be led, is as good as the word of God, and is as it shows; but the personal involvement, like that of a mechanic in a car, is not a mere principle (or even a wonderful one): it must be worked out with prayer and care, if need be with fasting as in Acts 13, but crucially with faith. It should moreover be without trusting in your METHOD, but in your LORD, as you do it. As it is written, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," which may sound threatening, but it continues, "for it is God who works within you both to will and to do"! (Philippians 2:12-13).
In other words, when saved by grace through faith, we gain the adoption; when adopted, we live the life. It may be strenuous, but not galling (Matthew 11:27ff.); it may be testing (I Peter 1, 4), but not too much (I Cor. ); it will be an abundance of grace, of power and of guidance as required.
Sometimes the Lord might test our loyalty, or our love, in NOT giving a guidance where it should have been obvious to love what to do; but on another occasion He may intervene in ways spectacular, and the false conclusion could come, this is the way God acts for ME! It is not so. It is just that on that occasion He CHOSE to act that way, as best for you and proper for the case. There is no rule, but the gift of grace for the need, no exemplary reservoir but the Bible, and that which comes from its following, no Lord but the Lord of life, the Prince of it, who died to banish death; no fear but the fear of being ungodly, no lack for those who follow Him, for His abundance of grace in salvation like His abundance of provision, for our growth in Him, is all of one.
And He ? He is wonderful. Forget that and you have forgotten your ABC.
When you remember it, you can see the words forming! You are ready. He is always able, and indeed one finds just as Paul states it,
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Truth is like that. It does not alter.
There is a beautiful restfulness about relying on the Lord, and being led by Him and for Him:
"As a beast goes down into the valley,
And the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people."
This is the Christ who not merely has fulfilled prophecy with all the zeal of the truth, the authentic, the author and the authoritative, but fulfils in the persons of His people what HE IS! In HIM, is rest, for right is the Lord and His ways are godly, gracious and enlivening, never dark, always challenging, never forgetful.
Thus one fulfils again the prophecy concerning the Messiah in Isaiah 11:10:
that day there shall be a Root of Jesse
Who shall stand as a banner to the people:
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious."
An arbour, a harbour, a place of resolution, rest and strength, He lacks nothing of compassion and knows us far better than we could know ourselves: the living God who leads His people like a flock (Psalm 77:20, John 10).
Moreover, just Paul advises to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us both to will and to do, He also in the very next chapter indicates the end of that matter, looking past the pilgrimage to its assured result according to that very will of God (as in Romans 8:29ff.):
a double caution on COUNSEL AND GUIDANCE
A SPARKLING SILVER COMFORT
In these days of multiple philandering with Pentecostalism, even where gross departures from the Scripture may be involved, there are two dangers which are conspicuous in this field of practical living.
One is this: "I felt led" - pastor
shrivels, or gapes, depending on posture.
Why ? One reason is this: it is sometimes the preliminary to wild erratic, selfish, self-indulgent psychic disturbances and exuberances, void of team-concept, harsh in subjectivity, not scriptural, not tested, a sort of spiritual vacancy. Hence, some pastors might shrink. The classic case is one where the person feels led to join the choir, and the choir director's tests reveal a startling lack of capacity to sing... Others may feel led to seek spiritual experience in the latest rollick of holy laughter, and so forth. It can breed division, bypass scripture and constitute some kind of unofficial second Session or governing body.
As to the other reaction readily imaginable to such a statement: the pastor may invoke blessing, feel how spiritual his people are becoming and give himself up to anything from happy and undiscerning tolerance to a variety of spiritual voyeurism by which he shares in these wonders from above.
Do not mistake. They may be. That is not the fundamental point. It is a question of the criteria invoked. It is a vulnerable area, as are many estates in the pastorate, if you do not follow the word of God. You may merely react to 'all this talk of leading', and throw out the guidance of God in His spiritual governance wrought how He will - for it is always unwise to limit the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:41). How do you do this fearful thing ? Simply by not having faith in Him according to His word. How do you achieve this ungodly distortion ? It is not difficult. You may :-
a) not bother to have studied His word to know His will where it IS declared.
b) not bother to have checked what you DO know of it, and leave it to a vague and undisturbed memory. Again...
c) you may fail to apply the word of God to the case, by being mentally slack, spiritually
torpid, or moved by the lusts of the flesh, ungoverned desire for this or that, ranging
from a quiet life to spiritual excitement.
d) you may not specifically consider the Second Commandment, omitting from the view
the rest of the church.
e) you may give short-shrift to the First Commandment (fatal if you want to keep the
Second one - I John 5:2), letting man or self or culture or 'success' or 'my idea of
getting fruit' or any other consideration evacuate GOD from the centre.
f) you may, on the contrary, act as if God really WERE dead, in a sort of sultry spiritual
odyssey in your soul, in which the living God does not appear (assuming here of course the case that the person is not a Christian).
g) you may 'swallow' the anti-reality pill, as if God had stopped using power since the
days of the apostles, or did so except on the mission field, or some other man-made
LIMIT. This is despite the condemnation of such things in II Timothy 3:5; and further despite the fact that this disease of the soul is predicted.
h) you may, hence, unwisely ignore divine guidance when it comes:
whether through a combination of circumstances and counsel from several,
or from the clarification of spiritual principles in your mind,
or in terms of a 'constraint' such as Philip had (Acts 8:26), at the hand of an angel, or as Paul had without one (Acts 16:6), or as Paul had via a
vision (* 16) (Acts 16:9).
i) you may again, bow down in voluntary worship of angels, as if they had power to
alter or ordain the word of God, which they emphatically do not; and this is the opposite
spiritual deviation (Colossians 2:18).
j) you may act without faith, allowing impressions and sensations to rule you, instead
of the word of God through faith.
k) you may fail to ask in faith (James 1:5-6), thus
inheriting a promise ... as it were, a divine withholding tax, for WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD.
l) you may rebelliously, or in callow spiritual sleepiness wallow outside holiness of life (Psalm 66:18-19).
God may prove you and try you (Psalm 66:10),
purify your motives,
manifest your confusion or your compromise; and the remedy is -
to be teachable
and to learn and to live on the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35:8).
This is not a matter of 'sinless perfection' (I John 1:8), which is delusion.
Rather it involves
voiding of known sin through the blood
(I John 1:9, 2:1), indeed through
the advocacy and the blood of Christ,
applied by His Spirit in the seal on believers (Ephesians 1:13),
impressed at conversion and never cancelled (Ephesians 1:11),
by Him who knows His own from the start, and before it (Ephesians 1:4).
It involves repentance and preparedness to test your ways, in patient prayer (Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26-27, Psalm 139:23).
It results in this wonder: that 'the wayfaring men, though they be fools, will not err in it' (Isaiah 35:8-10): how vast a blessing this is! BE, as it were, a very fool, yet HIS WISDOM will suffice you! You might not fully grasp the specialised and sure gifts of spiritual kindness in the ONE who LEADS you in the paths of righteousness, will never leave you nor forsake you, and has provided for you, yes and for your children in terms of the wisdom and situations you need, whatever is good. (Cf. Romans 8:28, Acts 2:39 - see also my work, "3 Presentations of Baptism" which is neither propounding baptismal regeneration nor breach of covenant on the other extreme! See also in Questions and Answers, The Word that Speaks - Q & A, 9, 10, 11 and 12,on the whole topic.)
IF however you simply believe in Him whom by faith in terms of His New Covenant in His blood, you have received; and act in Him in whose power your life is covered, and follow His word, allowing that, by faith, it is right and appropriate to expect an answer to any good thing you need for His sake: then guidance is yours.
In Christ's name (I John 5:13-14), what is needed for godly living is available (II Peter 1:4). In Christ's graces, equally, seek to grow (II Peter 3:18): indeed the failure to do this can be a sort of heresy or rebellion! Add what He provides (II Peter 1:5-9): knowing that while you ARE kept by the power of God to an inheritance incorruptible, reserved for you, if you are a Christian - if you are His, through faith in Him according to His New Covenant in His blood: BEING KEPT is a vital and dynamic totality. It is not merely formal, but functional, assured but evidenced, sketched but experienced, formulated but found. In this, indeed, you are WITH HIM and HE is with YOU; and when THAT happens, spiritual growth is assured.
In such a context, seek guidance. You will never outgrow either the word of God or the liberty of the Spirit by which He will answer believing prayer as He will, in accord with the principles and promises and precepts in His word. As you grow, you will as a child of God, continue to need the word and the life of the Son.
You could ignore the specialised and sure gifts of spiritual kindness in the ONE who LEADS you in the paths of righteousness, will never leave you nor forsake you, and has provided for you, yes and for your children in terms of the wisdom and situations you need, whatever is good. (Cf. Romans 8:28, Acts 2:39 - see also my work, "3 Presentations of Baptism" which is neither propounding baptismal regeneration nor breach of covenant on the other extreme! See also in Questions and Answers, The Word that Speaks - Q & A 9, 10, 11 and 12, on the whole topic.).
To grow however, as you know from your own children, or those whom you see, is not an option. We happily teach our children many things, guiding and comforting. WHILE they are not yet like us, we have to give more guidance; but while they are children, they will need some. Never let false impressions of maturity lead you to limit the Lord as to He modes of His guidance, or as to the total sufficiency of His word, in all doctrine, and principles and promises.
The counsel against the extremes of ungoverned subjectivity and dead formalism comes, then, from the Bible with its two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), while the sparkling silver comfort comes from the glistening of this sword, and the dazzling beauty of the Lord himself, whose word it is - the living God.
'THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD'
In guidance, then, as in many other spiritual areas of the Christian life, there are the extremes of reckless, hapless rush, on the one hand, and of unbelieving formalism, on the other. In this, as in so many other topics, task areas and functions: it is necessary to abide in the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), watching with prayer (Acts 20:28), active in faith (Hebrews 11).
The objective criterion of the word of God, definitive, determinative (cf. pp. 4, 62-63 supra, & I Corinthians 2:9-11, Matthew 5:19-21, Proverbs 30:6; and The Shadow of a Mighty Rock esp. Appendixes C,D, and Ch.1) must first rule in one's life, as the arteries rule the course of the blood from the heart.
ALL of it rules (Acts 20:19-27); and within this concourse of magnificence, one must abide in Him who, being living, manifests Himself as He will (John 14:21-23, Acts 2:17). Nor is it right to move in philosophic leaps, as if personal abiding is 'mere subjectivity'. In this era, then, personal dreams, visions, manifestations can no more be scripturally excluded from godly life per se (cf. Psalm 78:41), than may God's word be adjusted or added to, by them (cf. pp. 4, 36ff., 43-48, 62-63, 73, 91-92 supra)! It is GOD who is objective; His word verified and definitive: it is for HIM to lead and show as He will (Psalm 32:8-9,73:24, Isaiah 58:9-11, James 1:5-6,), WITHIN those counsellors, His words, which HE has set forth to be believed, received and ground for operation. We must neither add to, nor subtract from His word, nor limit the Holy One of Israel in determining ahead of time, how He will direct us, within that word. He is alive; and we must be so too (John 14:19).
In this as in all, the Christian must be faithful. Like an electric railway train, once one is on the tracks laid down, there is a wonder of opportunity for driving, viewing and participating in the life upon the way. But once deviate from those tracks . . .
Thus it is not a matter of a preferred or 'added' section of His word and wisdom, or of a fascinating dereliction from His will, His word or His way; but of abiding in the living and changeless Christ, His words abiding in you (John 15:1-5,7, 14:21-23, 8:30, Ephesians 6:18, Isaiah 58:13-15, 26:2-4, 33:14-20). HE is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. His is not so in succession, or episodically, but constantly, integrally and intimately; to the world, whether they like it or not, as offered; to the Christian, who DOES like it, as taken, and for all time, in His everlasting Gospel, the good news of which abounds on all sides.
Rejoice therefore with
trembling (Psalm 2:11), and devoted to Christ, following Him, growing in
Him, showing Him in testimony, great is your blessedness from the all-sufficient
God, who IS love; for He is glorious in holiness, excellent
in praises, doing wonders (Exodus 15:11). As to that, there is none like
Him (Psalm 72:18, 71:19).