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LET GOD BE GOD!
LET THE LEADER LEAD
THE CALL TO LEAD
AND THE CHARACTER OF THE LEADER
There is about leadership, a peculiar quality.
Is it love ? is it admiration ?
Is it strength ? Is it savvy ?
Is it popularity, and if so, why for this purpose ?
Is it charm ?
Is it foresight ? Is it insight ? Is it a species of concerned friendliness and social poise and address ?
Whatever it is, it has a large following on this planet. Many seem to FOLLOW as if sheep, and to elect shepherds more than gross, if less than horrible, though some seem to follow what is grotesque, as shown by the Hussein crew still on board the ship that sank. You may say, But there, it was probably their monetary gain, social advance or political clout which they gained from him, which caused the popularity. Why then did they follow in the first place, when death in such a case as this, was so easily obtained in the process ? Did they want gain, on a gamble, more than any sort of safety ?
Why was Hitler followed, even when his evil intentions towards Jews were better known ? Was it because of glory (cf. News 82), or revenge, or making Germany once again a significant force, even a LEADER in Europe ? If so, who wants to be a leader ? Apparently, many do, whether as nations (Putin seems to have a leadership aspiration for Russia, not now necessarily in the monolithic field, but in terms of authority and prestige, power and past, as shown in the multiple flags chosen, one still dripping), or as peoples (Japan had such a fraternal feeling, it seems, to lead Asia that it went quite a long way to institute it, starting in China, quite actively in 1937 or so), or as Premiers, or as Ministers of State.
You may say, Well in these last cases, it is the money, which is grotesque when it is all added up with the privileges, and undoubtedly much less payment would improve government immensely, reducing the power lust, the lucre love, the status grasp and such other deletable objectives which often cross the minds of many.
However, not all are of this mould, it would seem, since some, though perhaps not many, DO lead.
That is, they indicate their position, their principles, their priorities, their reasons, their vision, and proceed. Sometimes they appear arrogant, and sometimes they probably are; at other times, they seem visionary, and some may be. Even Stalin, it appears, felt that Churchill was ONE who had influenced the course of history. At times, they seem to essentialise for large sweeps of the country of destiny, the objectives that are worthy for a people, such as compassion and plan, as some see Roosevelt to have done in his New Deal, or at least in some of its objectives. Something new politically seemed needed in the midst of soup queues.
Why do people, however, granted there is something usable in the field of leadership, so often make such ludicrous choices ? How many HONEST leaders are there ? We do not know, but this we find, that MANY are found guilty of public embezzlement, or call it misdirection of funds if you will, in receiving illicit moneys for this, or misusing funds for that, and they apologise, in Japan, in Germany, or wherever, and sink a while, and possibly float, if they find a spar to hang onto, as the seas rage, and then calm.
They follow someone rich and powerful, insignificant and loved, humble and practical, ostentatious and showy or smooth as butter, melting at the first warmth, guileful and guilty, loud and uncouth, but why ? Some feel bewildered or annulled in spirit, as persons or individuals or members of this or that body, or nation, and want SOMEONE, just someone to lead there SOMEWHERE. In their dispirited state, and dissipated motivation, they often like a sense of lordliness, masculinity, tempo, action, power, pride and panache, or at least thrust, as if to project their lowliness onto such arrogance, assurance or panache, and feel uplifted.
Thus Henri Spaak, of Common Market fame, asked for a leader, be he god or devil, and they would follow. It does however make a difference, such as heaven or hell; and the way can be heavenly or hellish, and if not obviously so at first for the proponents, then for those used as a path on which to tread, on the way: such as Jews for the Hitler dream.
Let us come nearer to the present. Send us, reportedly said Henri Spaak, "a man who can hold the allegiance of all the people and whether he be God or the devil, we will receive him." That is quite a comment from a one time President of the Council of Europe. It speaks. It reminds one of Christ's words, John 14:29-31:
"And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.
I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do."
He then proceeded not to immolate a people, but to sacrifice, to becoming a sin offering, to personally obliterating the penalty of death and instituting the free path of life, the point of the sacrifices of old, the pass for the celestial city. HE did not embezzle funds, or make charm the cross. He declared the problem, met the case and conquered at personal cost, providing freely what was needed but on a VERY selective basis. If you did not believe in Him, then you were of no relevance to His provisions, path and destiny. Faith in God and this, the way of God, was indispensable, and without faith, the connection was never made, the path was never open, for cost or without it! As it was, so it is (Hebrews 11:6, John 3:36).
The prince or ruler of this world, the devil (I John 5:19, II Corinthians 4:4), is of course interested in destinations, having had trouble in heaven and expecting it in hell (Revelation 12), while providing it on earth (cf. Ephesians 6:11ff., Matthew 4), having great wrath for he knows his time is short (Rev. 12:7-8,12). He has many followers, that wind-down way being broad, easily accessible and delusively smooth in places (cf. Matthew 7:13ff.). His followers follow him, in his pride of place, his lack of grace, his sultry unspirituality, his profound ungodliness, his love of power, his practice of deception, his willingness to be unprincipled provided he is the principal and so on. This multiplicity of sub-lusts, with the profound and eminent chief lust, to avoid God and to use His products in exciting, alluring, expansive, hopefully satisfying ways, naturally plays like the wind on the waters, when leadership is concerned.
It appears epitomised in Spaak's remarks.
Thus the leadership of the leaders relates not a little to the psyches of the led, to their aspirations, concerns, lusts, pride or lowliness, beauty of holiness or baseness of corruption. It is for this reason that there may be appeal in leadership because of egregiousness, originality, spirited independence, as with William of Orange who came to England in 1688 to bring a measure of peace after the lurid horrors of the persecution of equivocating James II. Instead was now WIllian, and his highly individual mien yet calm and determined way, and the people were led.
Some however are drawn because of smoothness, most appealing where the lost do not want to appreciate their condition, to savour their ditch, or to look deeply into anything. The smooth glissade over the downward slope is then deemed a thing of beauty, and the result of gravity in such a case is disregarded, until it asserts itself too plainly, by which time perhaps dictatorship, perhaps churning misery has come.
With what elasticity of mode may then the Evil Shepherd come (Zechariah 11:1-13), after the rejection by Israel of the incomparably compassionate, immutably powerful, and intensively sacrificial Saviour whom they despised (as foretold in Isaiah 49:7 and predictively itemised in 52-53), at the national but not at the racial level! When the man of sin (II Thessalonians 2) comes, the epitome of evil and the consummation of guile, or of that mouth that speaks pompous things (Daniel 7:24-25), which Israel inherits by virtue of its rejection, then will the contrast of darkness to light be total! That, it is the temporary eclipse to smite the earth, and interpret the drunken dreams without God.
Nor in this coming scene is Israel alone, for in Daniel, it is for the world that this priceless gift of high-power corruption is to be given, when the time comes, that spout for the lava of evil to cover the earth! When another comes in his own name, said Christ concerning His own rejection and impending crucifixion, him they will believe. Yes and follow, for there is their leader, sophisticated oratory, pomposity and éclat, mixed with inveterate evil, inflated psychic paranoia and ruthless methods. Those who want him may have him: better a maddened hound, or a scourge of locusts, but unbelief in the Lord has its outcome, and the dispersing of truth makes way for the lie (John 8:44)!
This brings to light the question, not only of the MANNER and MODE of the leader, whoever and in whatever field, but the DIRECTION in which he or she moves, and draws or ushers, pushes or compels those led to go. It moreover leaves for us to realise there is a question not only of direction, but of destiny, and before that, the principle and the passion, or the matrix and the substance of that to which the led are being taken.
Leaders do not, at first anyway, MAKE the people what they are, or MAKE their psyches by which they receive the palaver or the principles or the purity, as the case may be; though assuredly they may stir them in a given direction to which, for whatever reason good or bad, they have little resistance or perhaps large desire. It can be shaped in many cases, so that by degrees any sign of an initial vision is so swallowed up in the 'developments' because of time and tide and means and mode, that it becomes a wholly diverse thing in the end from that presented in the beginning. That is where purity is unreplaceable, and mere convenience as goad becomes confusion as god! In misusing means for some end or objective, people often forget that the means become items of the heart, morals of the mind, impacts on the spirit, and the ones who use debased means become debased.
This is but one reason why FOLLOWING is so deadly in peril, for those who practice it, whether it be a political party enshrining things desired (and not desired, in combination), through which the latter become stronger and the former, still being desired, bring about a following to what is NOT desired by many, but tolerated in the interests of what they can find no other means of obtaining. This emphasises the question of means and end, ways to do it and what it is that you seek to do, so infamous in the name of the Jesuits with their mental reservations and violence in past times; and this too, it tests leader and led alike.
Where there is a godly basis, in the IMMUTABLE and the BEAUTIFUL, the meek and the equitable, the caring and the compassionate, the high-principled and the holy, where people have drawn near to God in the way in which He MAY be found, since He has demonstrably assigned it in Christ (cf. It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls ... Ch. 9, SMR Chs. 1, 10), leadership has less absolute scope. In fact, it then is limited to what does not connive against God, but what follows Him. It has no more impact than the word of God permits. In an evil world, lying in the wicked one (cf. I John 5:19, John 14:30-31, cf. Matthew 4:9ff.), the one in whom Christ dwells (Colossians 1:27) does not by contrast permit abstract philosophy to make a new direction, or for that matter, distracted religion to make a bogus new Christ, perhaps foisting it into the realm of politics, perhaps making it an adjunct.
As to this last, two beasts, two leaderships of corruption, one socio-political, one religious, working in tandem in one glorying in trash, not truth: this is as foretold for the ultimate division of labour, to be practised by the dynamics of the Adversary of man and his happy holiness, and peaceable godliness. You see it in Revelation 13:1,11.
What is the essence of this predicted last chapter for this Age, prior to the return of Christ with His people ? This mutual admiration society, the power of the State infernally pompous, promiscuous in spirit, defiled in heart, is UPHELD and even lauded to the heavens by an ecclesiastical power of some derelict kind (Rev. 13:14-15), like a theological rubbish dump, so that it at least seems a little more modest than mere direct arrogance, and the team of two acquires greatness and government, and leads by stringent financial controls (Rev. 13), and inflated self-absorption (Revelation 13:15), to leadership euphoria (Revelation 13:4) and a vile worship. In this, as Paul shows in II Thessalonians 2, the movement is from Romans 1 and the nature worship, to that part of nature which is man, and the worship of him, but far beyond even the humanistic fallacy, measuring yourselves by yourselves (II Corinthians 10:12), it moves to its apex.
Apex ? What here is that ? Coming from the creation called 'nature', as object of worship, that forsaken naturalism which erects its nullities from age to age, it moves to the creation called 'man' and from this in general, to one in particular, to the 'man of sin', the one whose is the big mouth apparatus, the participant in the glorying, the 'little horn'*1 of Daniel, the pomposity producer, the oral peacock, who showing himself that he is God, in the temple, epitomises the sheer madness of worshipping creation or any part of it in the first place.
What pathetic pomposity, what ludicrous self-contradiction, what chaotic confusion is to be found in this evil being, this forecast 'man of sin' : able to be destroyed and yet claiming to be God, unable to prevent being born, and yet self-assigned as God, able to stand except in DNA provided, and merely operative, and yet acting as if his own author! What picturesque filth and what picaresque delusion! a mental patient in robes of glory, and a tin god soon to melt in the Lord's despising of all this acme of folly and zenith of delusion (II Thessalonians 1:9, 2:8, Revelation 19:16-20), when Christ comes at the end "in flaming fire taking vengeance" on wilful ignorance, deliberate disobedience, which leads to this witless end as the spiritual disease develops to full measure of its divinely revealed prognosis. So ends the sad saga of leadership without love, power without law and puniness without God!
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THE WORLD GOING
... being led?
In the world of today, with various evil forces becoming more forceful, and many deliberately ignoring the light that shines none the less because it is ignored, there is a reminder of the department store scenario. On the ground floor, the patrons are asked if they would like to go down: Going down, basement! Many of them do, and this is the parallel to the present. Let us however consider it in a more powerful picture, in the Alpine regions.
The slide, when there are no substantial foundations left, may start with a mere passage of one skier over the slope. There is a feathering of layers, an overcoming of minor frictional resistance, a ponderous relay of impacts, a softening through warming, a glissade not of skiers but of snow, a wavering and a hesitancy, perhaps, then a beginning that mounts, that roars into an avalanche, that trespasses on anything in its path, wild, demonic, moaning in the wind, crushing, ruthless, witless, wandering where there is least resistance until its devastation is done. Then there is a still.
When, to leave our illustration of inanimate forces, the foundation is debased, or merely soft, when evil means are tolerated thus removing any solidity in the basis, when there is a vacuum of virtue, a weakness or asthenia of moral muscle, then virus enters like the tread of the errant skier, entering where he ought not on the perilous slope, and with this, disease arrives, in lust for peace at any price, war at any cost, direction at any point, insistence on every point, and desire in profusion proliferates. When this is the case, we are ready for the 'music', the sin-phony of the events to come. Let us then consider it anew with some help from the musical realm.
A skilful social player or political leader may then play on this prurient pathology like an organist, an exponent of disease, a carrier of plague, fascinated by his or her own power, carried on in the catastrophic dimensions of the avalanche. Revenge, as in post-world war I Germany, or establishment of a national profile, land lust likewise, lebensraum, religious tyranny as in the Islamic moves made by so many of that belief, financial reward, attracting to oil: multiple can be the OCCASION of the leadership lordliness for a man, a party or a nation.
The results are all but inconceivable, foolish, strutting, cruel, arrogant, the brief candle of lordliness imposed while it yet flutters in the wind, before being extinguished in guilt and shame. It is chosen because man without the true and living, the leading and loving God is debased coinage, is disspirited relic, is apt for disease, deluges his beauty with dirt, uses the drains of nature for his inspiration and finds the swamp of algae. The laboratory of history continuously gives the reading, but man is rarely willing to read it. Verification of vitiation, of wandering is on all sides; but the gauge is largely ignored.
The broad way is wide, to be sure, but it is witless, and its deviousness is legendary! It is swamped in avalanche so often that one wonders at the daring that despatches truth for fiction with feverish haste.
Its lack of foundation in the morals and faith of a nation, however, a justifiable faith verified and not vitiated by events, and of words that none can imitate and against which none can prevail, words that countervale all interference and do not need human bombs to assist their explosive force: this is the situation on which its moment works, when the crisis comes. Despising foundation, discarding faith, renouncing Jesus Christ, selecting the puny, following the fictitious, mastered by make-believe, the people of the spiritual avalanche descend, their earth descending, their way a revolt of the very ground under their feet, so long ignored in its nature and in its truth.
So it has been often enough nationally, and internationally with all the former apparent ease of the national past, it will be. It is programmed in the Bible, evinced continually more obviously in the world, where dynamics make groan the underlying softness, preparing for the acrid avalanche with all its passing dirt, to swallow up what is in its path.
Turning from image to reality, what then ? Once the direction of flow is clear, and the director is sunning himself in his aura, then the lust of lordliness and the pathology of spirit, working on the basis of the slithering softness of long preparation in the heat of listless hearts and debased spirits among men, will allow the sudden explosion of a 'deity' without tears, an antichrist of inward savagery and outward savvy.
It is all common; but not at the international rule level. It is that which is to come. There have been empires; but rarely have they even begun to approximate the coverage of this globe as their imperial butt. The world has grown used to it; it IS growing used to being one object, internationalising almost everything but truth, and peace, and justice, moral worth and a defensible, far less an assured faith. 2 plus 2 will shortly perform their additive malady, the initiating forces will soon sweep to their impermeable conclusion as in this field, as it all surely comes to be. As for the character of the "image of the beast" in our developing Concert Platform for Tragedy, this world, ponder News 5! (Revelation 13:14-15).
The end is the normal avalanche-ending, much excitement, terror and devastation. Eventually this world itself goes, just as initially it was created, having served its Platform Position well, giving to man the scope to declare himself, wherever it may be, ready for the eternity which awaits those in the Lord's image (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 51:6) or ripe for plucking.
After the millenial wonder*2 when the Lord returns*3 to the site of His crucifixion as King, and the whine of rebellion which will come even then, though the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11:9), that is all that is left for it. What cannot find its place, does not have any. It is displaced, and in the case of our current universe, to be destroyed, though judgment is not destroyed!
Of what kind, then, is the leading which is apt for man, the Lord's leading, when the Lord is God!
THE LORD'S LEADING
A) ITS FUNDING
We have seen many times the character of Christ, the nature of His dealings, the wonder of His life, and hence have had occasion to consider the character of His leading. Examples occur in Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ, Chs. 6 and 8, Repent or Perish Ch. 2, SMR Ch. 6, Christ, the Wisdom and the Power of God Ch. 8. It is also found in Lord of Life, Ch. 9, where a brief excerpt is taken, slightly adapted, for today.
The case is met, His standards are not broken by collision with His principles in a manner which is without remedy, as if adding here a little, there a little, met infinite purity and covered the case of Him whose it is: HE HAS MADE UP THE DIFFERENCE AND CALLS TO ONE AND TO ALL to come! (Isaiah 55, II Corinthians 5:17-21).
How is this possible ? It is because Christ is LORD: it is He, and not a phrase, not a ceremony, not a magic in mass, not a mass of military power, not a people power, not a submission to violence, not an anti-evidential faith-leap, not an unknown God, not a synthesis of insights, not an insidious power crawler, seeking nations and popery of this or that guru or 'divine'. It is necessary to let God be God, or to find the destiny of guile without Him.
Christ even vacated His OWN premises on the Cross to break death in resurrection. There is no limit to the power of God's life, no judgment He has not taken, and no exclusion zone except disbelief.
It is He who declares, Blessed are the poor in spirit! (cf. Questions and Answers 12).
It is He who demonstrated His deity
- in the very face of some of the most subtle, unified, radical and unbowing men you could ever wish,
- in power, in miracle,
- in word, in death,
- in unkillable overthrowing of this assassination by arising, His body free,
- His word performed to the last as from the first,
- defying power of Empire and his own nation alike,
- who could neither keep Him nor control Him;
- in fulfilment of prophecy,
- in sinlessness, for none can show any in Him nor ever did, despite the wonderful opportunities to do this, to expose the slightest marring in One who worked at that public and therapeutic level for body, mind and spirit, amidst enemies and friends, few and many, year in and out;
- in prophetic word;
- in the date of His death,
- and its centuries-old provision (cf. SMR pp. 886ff.),
- in the sheer singularity of His coming, for He has no competition,
- and in the clear signals of His word of things to come, and still coming as years pass and they descend into history; for there is no comparison evidentially anywhere.
Fatal to His work on earth would have been ONE slip at ANY time, in healing, in argument, in prediction, in His many miracles of multitudinous kinds, in confrontation, in having His body available for demonstration that He was dead, in order to repudiate His untouchable claims, themselves so unanswerable that murder alone would do. One mistake or ineptitude in His predictive words, in argumentation, in logic, in knowledge, in command failing: and He was done.
It did not happen, for authenticity has ways of its own; and He was received as He is, the LORD.
It is Christ ONLY, and Christ as LORD actually (Luke 14:27ff.), or it is that sundering of spirit that results in ruin, when the living of a lie is exposed at the end; for there is an end, as there has been a beginning, and the last phases of the consummation are now upon us (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). As to that, even that, it is all written, scripted and programmed, and now being done as violence and vileness, false christs and prophets, people making gods and making saints by their prayers and killing as their profession, proceed to enter the Stage as the program requires for the last Act.
It is better to have died on the stage in the love of Christ, than to die and then doubly, in the hatred of truth that knows what it cannot find, and finds what it cannot know (John 9:31-41).
Such is the nature of the Lord as displayed on earth before man sought to displace Him, and indeed, in the very interstices of physical BEING displaced, only of course to resume His place by virtue of the resurrection as clearly predicted as the rest (cf. Psalm 2, 16, 22, Isaiah 26:19, 53, Hosea 13:14, and see Joyful Jottings 22-25).
AS such a Being, He has led, visibly on earth. There is the Leader who ways do not wince, whose work does not lapse, whose name does not fudge.
Let us moreover look at the finding of Paul as seen in Romans 8:16 in context. As many as are LED by the Lord, these are the children of God, the apostle there declares.
Clearly leading is a characterising capacity from the Lord. In fact, as we read in I Corinthians 2:9ff., the unspiritual person CANNOT please God, finding the things of God foolishness. He is as lost as a telephone unplugged, though the 'electrician' in this case CAN work miracles! They are assuredly needed (John 3). Leading the heart in love and the mind in truth is the monopoly of the Lord, and only as His truth is received, is His way known.
Let us then examine more closely the context of Romans 8:14, where we have found that as many as are led by the Lord, these are His chidlren. In this, we notice three things about what Paul is showing us from the Lord. First, the arena of discourse is that of being crucified with Christ. We are listening to "mortifying" the flesh, of being "spiritually minded", hearing of the exclusion of the "carnal mind". As to this, the apostle affirms that it is not in the comprehension zone before God, that it CANNOT be subject to the law of God, for its ultimate situation is one of enmity with God.
By contrast, the Christian situation is close to the teaching of Galatians 2:20, where
"I am crucified with
Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me:
and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me."
What does that mean ?
It simply indicates that
not only does the sin which has enslaved the unconverted -
(whether lust of mind, spirit or body, self-will, indolence of life, self-trust or whatever else of misappropriation's woes, living apart from God),
not only does this come to the Cross for cancellation by His bearing it,
but the very PERSONALITY itself must come likewise, being a source and scene for the sin.
Not only deeds, but the doer needs pardon; and as the former need cancellation of guilt, so the latter transformation of dynamic, of life.
In fact, this, the sinful personality prior to conversion, must take its place as crucified, ended in death with Christ, who bore the death in His own sinless personality, then arising from the dead, shrugging off death, that bitterest of foes, and conferring life eternal, death-proof to those who received Him (John 1:12, I John 5:11-12, Acts 2:23-24).
"Mortifying" the flesh, that is the whole potentially independent, God-forsaking nature of man, means
setting that erratic desire and those errant thoughts to their end in the dynamism of death, as unworthy of life, and
taking one's life where it should always originate, anew in God,
so that it is a derivative but friendly communion: the Maker with the made, the Originator with the originated, the Creator with the created, the Redeemer with the redeemed, God with man, in His sphere of thought, in His spirit's LEADING (cf. Galatians 5:16).
It is in this way that the groundwork is laid, if you will, the hardware installed, the functionality prepared, so that man may be led by the Lord, as a child of God. It is of this that Romans 8:14, in context, is speaking.
Now it is not only a moral strength which supervenes and surpasses the pollution of personality of the past, but it is a spiritual intimacy, for it goes on, in Romans 8:14ff., to note that the SPIRIT attests to our spirits (that is, to the spirits of believers) that we are the children of God. It becomes like the loving eye of the father, the tender solicitude of the mother, but more, the encompassing attestation of the love of God, making the reception cordial, the enmemberment functional, the grace active.
Thus what is the nature of this being LED BY HE LORD ? it is a PROPOSITIONAL leading in moral and godly terms, according to the word of God which defines righteousness, and it is also a PERSONAL leading in intimate and directive terms, like a father who knows the way, and shows his child how to go in it! Obviously, this cannot be unless the person concerned IS a son, is a child of God, has been redeemed. Christians are called "adopted" children of God, but still by regeneration, children (Ephesians 1:1-11), and their future is certain. God does not forsake His own children (I John 1:1-4, 3:9, 5:11-12). He leads them.
That is wholly parallel to Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack. He leads me beside the still waters, He makes me lie down in the green pastures. He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. You have to change shepherds, leaders for that, so that the Lord Jesus Christ is your Leader. It is only then this biblical prescription becomes operative.
On the other hand, if someone IS NOT in the hands of the living God, is NOT enabled to find the power of God, is NOT able to mortify the flesh, does not find the cordial grant of power to overcome, is not in short operative by FAITH in the presence of the invisible God in terms of His visible covenant, then of course this is NOT a child of God. Those who are, they live like this. Sinless ? Of course not (I John 1:7ff.), but rather freed from that shrivellingly contemptuous and contemptible hold of sin which shrinks the life, defies the Lord and asserts it authority.
Let us remind ourselves of a pivotal point. If, said Christ, the Son shall make you free, you will be really free! John 8:36). Those under sin are its servants, He declared; those under Christ, HIS servants, have the freedom of being where they belong, related to their Leader as the led, the loved by God, moving in His own attested and reliable name! These are His friends, as they abide (John 15:14). Abiding is living where He is, as if in His household, though as yet invisible, of braver roof than mere matter can provide.
ONE of those things, those ways of being intimate and close with the Lord, is of course to CONFESS your sins, and in this, to confess what you DO NOT KNOW, for you may be sure that the Lord can see far more than you! (cf. Psalm 139:23-24):
"Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."
In all these things, there is a consistency of the
CLAIMS of God
with the WAY He leads, the
PROMISES of God with the things He performs (cf. Psalm 57:2), and the
PURPOSES of God with the things He promises (I John 3:1-3).
It happens as prescribed, and if it involves a profound calling, and a desperate adversary, yet it moves in peace, the redeemed with everlasting joy on their heads (Isaiah 51:11, John 16:22, I Thessalonians 5:16, Galatians 5:22).
B) ITS FUNCTION - how it works
Here we virtually come into the phase of Leadership with the invisible God, which is prayer, so we shall ponder this aspect first. It will now need to be in the next chapter than we consider C) ITS HISTORICAL EXHIBIT - testimonies of His working.
Above we have been seeing the FUND of leading , where its power and access comes from, namely the love and action of God in history, and the work of the redeemer, Christ, and the Holy Spirit applying His power and compassion on this basis, called the New Covenant, whereby Christ having borne sin for all who will ever come and have ever come to Him, bears fruit in those whom He has purged, cleansed and covered, cancelling guilt in redemption, covering life in indwelling, living within the life and heart and spirit of His people (Colossians 1:27).
For the present however, let us see how from the human side, through prayer, this leading works, in some of its basic elements. One of these is simply this question:
IF YOU BELIEVE God will answer your prayer, how is this not arrogant ?
If you do not, why do you expect an answer (cf. Mark 8:27-30).
Is faith in conflict with humility ? How does this consist, cohere, operate in practical terms ?
BEING PERSONAL ABOUT PRAYER
How can you 'believe' for something,
if you are also yielded by grace, to the will of God ?
That is the question.
Let us consider a bevy of answers, according to the case.
CONFIDENCE IN PRAYER
If the word of God in the Bible, has said it (Matthew 4:4), to disbelieve the
answer to your prayer
is to doubt GOD! Let us see these things in consistency terms, how the Christian can EXPECT and what and when and why!
One example is the prayer for wisdom as in James 1. If your heart is trusting in the Lord altogether, and if you are not 'leaning to your own understanding' (Proverbs 3:3-5), if you acknowledge Him in all your ways, then HE WILL BRING IT TO PASS. If you sin, He can cover it; if you walk in the light, He can show it. He will, in this case moreover, not chide or scold, for it says so: hence you can have confidence.
If again, you are beset by some sin, again pray for its removal as in Mark 11, as a 'mountain' and watch it go. To be sure, it may humble you, make you lean heavily in supplication, but "sin shall not have dominion over you" (Romans 6:14): it is not just a matter of law, but grace, of compassion and fashioning of your spirit (II Cor. 3:18), of knowing how to bring to pity, strength, to strength grace, to grace wit, and to all, a good understanding. Grace is not an excuse for sin; it is a reason for NOT BEING UNDER SIN! That is what this scripture says. So many would turn all but anything into licence, but this gives nil scope for it.
|"For sin shall not have dominion over you,|
|for you are not under law but under grace."|
Notice the result (line 1),
and notice the cause (line 2).
Since sin involves falling short of the will and hence of the word of God (Matthew 4:4),
this is not a licence to sin but a liberty to cease its dominion!
Not the law as the instruction of God (II Timothy 3:16, Matthew 4:17-20, John 14:21-23),
that devious Pharisaic distortion of it as a ground of meritorious acceptance with God,
instead of the work of grace because of the simple, sacrificially based pardon of God
through faith in Christ (cf. Psalm 32, Isaiah 53:6-10):
this is gone. This is buried.
The consequence of the adoration of God, the love of God in the redeemed, is not the cause of their BEING redeemed! (cf. Romans 3:23-27, Ephesians 2:8). Their redemption through faith in Him, enabling personal knowledge of God and assured access to Him, this is the basis of the Lord’s action in delivering them from the domination of sin (Romans 6:5-10, 8:3-14, Hebrews 4:15-16, 9:14).
Life arises in the Lord, not for collision with His word, as if it were not His, but for excision of the languor and littleness of being the subject of the lordly rule of sin! If the Son shall set you free, you will be really free! said Christ (John 8:36). One Lord is enough, and if you should sin, then His spade is very ready! (Proverbs 24:16, Isaiah 55, I John 1:7-2:2).
A third case: you wish to be of service in the church and kingdom of heaven, and so if you ASK believing you will be it, for as Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 tells you, the BODY OF CHRIST has many differently gifted members, and as in a body, nothing is useless, all is utilised. Never doubt such a prayer, for it is based on the very way the Lord works amid His people.
2) What however if you simply ask for something because it is YOUR WILL to do it: it is not sin as far as you know, but you simply WANT it. If it has no godly perspective, aspiration or realm, then of course it is at once without proper depth and dimension. In this case, it MUST be submitted as a query, or if it has some grounds in goodness or soundness, then as a petition with explanation (Psalm 62, Philippians 4:4-6). If a prayer like that is not SUBMITTED with a yielded spirit, it is simply dictatorial; but we all know as fathers with children or mothers, that there is sometimes a case for special grace, when we see that the child DOES need some concession or help, or lift, and the request is granted because the plea comes where kindness loves to grant.
It is however up to the Lord: for there is no assurance that mere desire, however good, will be met.
3) Suppose now you ask for something you need, like a place to live, if you do not have one. If you DO have a place where you can live aright, you should be considering how to serve the Lord, and whether any change is warranted. If however you do not, or if there are reasons for change for Christ's own sake (John 14:13), and especially if the point is that through such an issue, such a change you hope to glorify God in the name of Christ, then with confidence you can present your plea.
The criterion, what you should be putting first, is a place to live where you can do best for Christ, considering the gifts He has given you, your needs in team and in instruction, and all the surrounding issues which arise in a given place. Moreover, you should be MOST submissive in such a case, for a charming place may be now, or in some weeks, surrounded by neighbours with noise, parties or swearing and such things. You need then to submit your reasons, your hopes, your acknowledgments that there is much you do not an cannot know, and seek with CONFIDENCE for GUIDANCE as to where you are to go. You expect to get THIS!
4) Let us now suppose that you realise there is much room for growth in spiritual things in your personality, in your spirit, in your life and walk and for the LORD.
It is wise to see this, and II Peter 3:18 makes it very clear that there IS bound to be scope here, for we are all instructed to GROW in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. Some of the ways to grow are carefully listed in II Peter 1, and these include the following depths and dimensions:
add to FAITH, VIRTUE, to this, KNOWLEDGE (of spiritual things), to that, SELF-CONTROL (for he who controls his spirit is better than he who takes a city - Proverbs 16:22); then to this, add perseverance, or patience, and then add godliness, that beautiful glow of content and a chaste spirit, looking constantly to the Lord, moulded by Him. Next in our additives, comes brotherly kindness, and with this, love, that cherishing hope and grace which so secures victories and stirs life.
Prayers for all these things are assuredly in order, being ordered as components of your life, so in prayer, ASK for these things in CONFIDENCE. It is clear, since Peter instructs us to seek these things "with all diligence", that there must be real labour in these seekings from God, heart-searching, scripture-watching, waiting on God (cf. Isaiah 64:5). Indeed, the one who rejoices and does righteousness (for godliness with contentment is great gain - I Timothy 6:6), who remembers God in His ways, this person is the one whom "You meet", whom God speaks with, aids especially and fertilising, causes to grow and to show the work of God in him.
5) What however should be expected when one prays for one's church and for the church worldwide, not the visible structures merely, now increasingly corrupted, but the places however small which work in the word of God faithfully ? Prayer with confidence can be offered for sound teaching, Gospel penetration, brotherly love, due combinations of gifts. It is a case of a door which no man can shut, as in Revelation 3:8. Missions should be savoured and outreach sought with conviction (cf. Ephesians 6:18-19). Pastors also should be prayer for, that godly utterance be granted as they preach, and scope.
6) Prayer in confidence may also be offered for growth in love, and in knowledge of the will and the power of God, as in understanding of His word (Ephesians 1:17ff., 5:17, I Cor. 13, I Peter 2:1-3).
7) One should also be asking for lessons on the art of fishing for men! since he who wins souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30).
In short, in all of the scriptural cases listed, as examples, you are already LED to BELIEVE, since God has shown in His own word that this is what HE WANTS. You are led in this case by propositions, helped by the Person, and operate by faith. The leading is clear, constant, character building, has outcome in beauty and income in the power of God. This leadership is for one and for all, but is equally individualised wherever different gifts or persons are concerned, as to how in their situation, what is desired may be done. This does not alter the principle or the character of the thing: merely the application and the outcome in particular.
This leading, because like Leader so leading, is savoury, spiritual, godly, brotherly, kindly, well-intentioned, assured, enabled, actuated by love, intimated by grace both to the eye and to the heart. This leading is FOR the creature FROM the Creator, and not for vying, striving competitively for superiority. This is not say that it does not strive for excellence, but that the vitiation of competition is not the aim, rather than consummation of what is good in every form and in every manner, in truth.
The world has nothing like it. It is not aimed at INDIRECT gain, or an INDIRECT power as a blessing for obedience. Christ was crucified to the last drip; Stephen was stoned to the last stone; the thousands of martyrs to the Inquisition fires and torments, suffered to the last screw. It is aimed at the glory of God, the finding of people to love Him, whose sins may be covered, who may for themselves, each one and one by one, find the friendship of God, than which nothing is more intimate, more cordial or more clean.
This however being the nature of things for that creation called man, the way it is designed, so that the one who is newly re-created in Christ (Colossians 3:10), a "new man" is only after all restored to the image of Him who created him, what follows ? This, it is simply that other ways do not work. Many are tried, and in some measure, relate to truth and divine righteousness, but ignoring God, they founder in superficiality, inadequacy at best.
Now there is the competitive emphasis (has a good outcome if the spirit is right), now the fraternal (good if you ARE brothers, and the 'father' in view is good), now the militant (which war ?), now the irenic (whose peace ?). Diverse 'solutions' are offered, each inadequate, mere games and gushes.
It is indeed a sort of peace for a while, which the antichrist, that adversary to the Lord, will seek to obtain (cf. I Thessalonians 5:1-4), in terms of his blatant ascendancy and futile delusion of power and glory. Since peace without truth is less than a piece of life, indeed it is a fragment, like a strand of DNA at the visible level, this is a costly delusion. However, truth without love is not an issue, for where truth is, there is the word of God as demonstrated in SMR, and where the word of God is, there is I Cor. 13, and there is the primacy of love in this, that without it, NOTHING HAS ANY VALUE (I Cor. 13:1). The way of the Lord is more than any of these, and it is enshrouded in divine light, showing reality in its outline and in its truth, so that mere concoctions are as foolish as eating now stone, now mud, now meat, without discernment.
The LEADING of the LORD, this has all of the components, principles, extrication from pollution in His word, and it has them in the LIVING GOD, not only in propositional form, but personal, so that it is like reading a book and meeting the author simultaneously. Some lecturers come near to this at the purely human level, being present in sparkling lecturing form on the one hand, and setting the book in this and that chapter, on the other, the two divulgements blending to perfection!
As God is inimitable, so is His leading. As the Lord is removed from the mere lusts or pressures of life, so is His leading. As that goes, NOTHING else works, for that is the fuel needed for this vehicle called man. You can splutter and suffer, you can skitter and patter, you can roar and bang, but whatever way it is done, it is merely a superficial splash in the waters beside the road, that highway of holiness which the Lord has provided (Isaiah 35).. There is no correct ingestion; superficial, it does not satisfy, and since it does not because it cannot meet the need of man, man is dissatisfied, empty and assured, empty and starving, full of boast or pomp, pride or self-respect, knowing nothing of truth and in truth, desiring none. Such is his unenviable case until the Lord acts, drawing his heart, meeting his conscience, covering his sins, matching his need, opening his way and LEADING HIM!
Meanwhile, man is mangled.
Such is the broad way, and to be sure, it is not entertaining! You do not need much in the way of leading upon this, for you tend, downhill, just to flow.
ATTITUDE IN PRAYER
Let us in this phase, then, consider one of the background aspects of the prayer which, whether through direct propositional impartation in the Bible, or application of its promises, in vital action, constitutes a leading from the Lord.
First, one must be THANKFUL (Philippians 4:6), and this is like the air you breathe as you pray.
Secondly, the procedure is to be THOROUGH in your presentation, as to a King, a friend and your Father, in this case the very Father of spirits (Psalm 62:8); so it is not apt to skirt issues in prayer, but to FACE THEM (Psalm 73). LIGHT does not run away into darkness, and as Christ put it,
"For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light,
lest his deeds should be exposed.
What is OF the light comes INTO the
light! If it is an issue, one faces it; if it is a problem,
Remember Gethsemane, and Paul's prayer consistency when challenged on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:13). Why, he asked, do you break my heart, for I am willing not only to be bound but to DIE for Christ! The key is he King, the Christ by whom you have access (Ephesians 2:18, John 14:13, Hebrews 7:25).
Thirdly, the atmosphere should be one of humility, a delight in the Fatherhood of God, the kindness of the Saviour, a seeking for the will of God with that urgency and strength which comes from the great value set upon it, for His sake, that you may serve Him best!
It is in such attitudes that the milieu for effective prayer proceeds to its conclusion. TO THIS MAN, said the Lord, will I look, to him who is of a contrite spirit and trembles at My word (Isaiah 66:2). Then impediment is removed, readiness is achieved, like putting a battery, clean and fresh into a torch, and an awareness is present, productive and profitable for action, that if God has said it, He CAN do it!
FAITH, next, can never be merely dormant. As well expect lava flows from a dormant volcano. It must be active, focussed on Jesus Christ, the object of faith, the cynosure for bearing sin, the sovereign for breaking death. From John 14:13 you see that OBJECTIVE of godly prayer, that the Father be glorified in the Son, that what you are seeking is what fits with the salvation of the Christ who came, and the way of deity which He has shown, moreover, that it brings praise to Him.
In this aspect of leading, one does not therefore act as if not EXPECTING one's godly and scriptural prayers to be answered. Acts 12:15 has a case which might indeed have been negated, since Peter could have been martyred, but in view of his role in using 'keys' as he did regarding the Gospel to Samaria, to the Gentiles, concerning Paul's letters as scripture, it was a special case of prolongation of life on earth for a purpose. God answered but how strange it was when those praying actually DISMISSED the very thought of Peter appearing safe and escaped, at the door, by thinking the servant girl out of her mind who introduced him: Peter is here!
Again, in the dynamics of prayer, it is important not to let sin dominate, so that if sin overtakes you, it is to be regarded with all the affection you would have for a death adder in your bosom, or around your neck, or a 10 inch centipede in your shoe.
It is important procedurally in this instance, to void it in the power of God, of Christ who declared this, "If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). As to that, it is not only a proposition, but a proposal, and not that alone, it is a performance undertaking. One expects, as a Christian, in this great things from the Lord, because HE IS great!
It is also apposite at times to share with others what great things God has done for you, in praise and in gratitude (Psalm 66:16). Thus the Christian may seek in prayer, receive your leading, find that God acts (Isaiah 64:5), and then share at times His marvellous deliverances, directions in one's life, showing how He has prevailed to provide what He has shown. This is part of the testimony of truth, helping others to find His leading. It is also a matter of being thankful and assigning power where it belongs, which is an exercise in the truth.
When the Christian's prayer is answered, he may well give fervent thanks, and WAIT on the Lord, as we have seen, in waiting, see in what way He now wishes one to proceed, what follow-on He may have in mind. If a person is pulled out of a bog, the next step may be to look for the road map to see now how to walk, or run, in the highway of holiness, and to show the light of His love to others, develop the life of His gift in fruitfulness, and please God. That in turn, is part of the LOVE of God. Since God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that anyone believing in Him should not perish but gain eternal life, it is obviously a matter of consistency for His children so to act. If one is begotten, born, recreated in God's image through this salvation in Christ (John 3), then it would seem NATURAL to wish to do this. Like Father, like son in this, that the love of God permeates the heart (cf. Romans 5:5).
Such things then are practical taps for the fountain of grace, to travel and to act; and in using them, one is acting in accord with the One who is leading, and hence not defiling the relationship, or being a strange son or daughter for such a Father. From the Christian apologetic point of view, these things are important as guideliness, like laboratory rules; for in them there is health and wisdom, making for just that knowledge of God, in which such leading can be accurately discerned.
Half-heartedness is a bane not merely in degree, but in kind, and is contrary to the entire perspective of Christ's Gospel and way (cf. Luke 14:27-33), to the point that unless you are willing to forsake all you CANNOT be His disciple. This is a challenge not to promote the endless interchange of goods, but the entire forsaking of self-government in the interests of having in heaven a Father, in Christ an elder brother, in truth a constraint and in love an issuance.
What then: for the Christian, the man of faith, the woman of trust, there are always the PROPOSITIONS which TELL you what to do, and the PRESENCE of God which enables it. In entire conformity with what He undertakes, He acts.
Reference: For more on prayer, see Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy, Ch. 8.
Now for THE NEXT PHASE OF
THE LORD AS LEADER,
LET US SEE IN THE FOLLOWING CHAPTER,
C) ITS HISTORICAL EXHIBIT - testimonies of its working.
For this, even the most cut-down reference requires a further chapter, Ch. 9 below!
*1 See Biblical Blessings Ch. 2.
*2 SMR pp. 506ff., Sparkling Life ... Ch. 10.
*3 Acme, Alpha and Omega ... Ch. 6.