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22. PREDESTINATION

 

When Wesley and Whitefield could have such an exchange as they did (the depreciation was probably largely Wesley's, but the divergence was clear), then the subject must be of some portent. It is.

 

Augustine, the great scholarly thinker, the African bishop whose early church Confessions is so notable a writing , held several views (whether or not he realised it) and expressed them at various times (cf. Predestination and Freewill, Section 2).

Calvin has the characteristic stress on sovereignty,
Wesley on love, Spurgeon on moderation.

 

The stress in this presentation today,  is simply on the Bible. It is true that sovereignty, God's control of events (Ephesians 1:11) is absolute, and NO diminution of it is scriptural. EVEN when it comes to the
question of WHOM God 'elected' 'before the foundation of the world' ( Ephesians 1:4), there is no change. Romans 9:1‑18 takes care of that. He does what He pleases in heaven and on the earth (Psalm 115:3, 135:6);
but it is like Him in ev erything else, a GOOD pleasure (Greek
eudokia, Ephesians 1:5).

 

Unfortunately, some argue (and Spurgeon rightly resists them) as if THE FACT THAT GOD BY NOTHING
BUT GRACE SELECTS SOME (there is NO merit in the selection, inclining Him to a given option ‑
Ephesians 2:8, Romans 5:15, 3:23ff.) means that when He does NOT select, He was not gracious; that if He does not choose someone, then love was somehow in a measure of abeyance. Yet GOD IS LOVE (I John 4:7ff.). Such propounders or philosophers act as if for those not to be chosen, in such instances,
then there is a breach of grace, a lack of it, or an omission of its exercise.

 

How is this manifest contradiction of scripture reached, then ? It seems that, concerned for sovereignty,
as if it were some flower they were to protect, rather than what God Himself discloses it to be,
and fearful lest it seem to be breached if God LOVED in His deep way any who are to be lost in the end,
many reason in a sort of philosophy of their own that God COULD not have deeply loved such.

 

THAT, they opine, is why He did not save them! In so speaking, they defile Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy
2:1ff., John 3:16ff., and the whole tenor of scripture, whether in Jeremiah or Ezekiel, for example, where appeals and challenges, hopes and presentations, exhortations and tendernesses alternate with judgment
and pity, poignancy and grieved relinquishment; and yet, this occurs not in weak willowy failure, but in a DIVINE HOLINESS that WILL not relent without true repentance, actual faith and a purging which He alone can impart.

 

This is human reasoning intruding into the issue, of which the Westminster Confession rightly warns us, telling us to be very prudent in handling this matter. Spurgeon regards such an 'inference' as producing a 'hideous caricature' of the love of God. One cannot but agree: after all, God IS love, and anything which makes it merely disposable and not elemental, contradicts 1 John 4:7‑8 (cf. SMR Appendix B).

 

On the other hand, anything which would make a parallel but opposite 'inference' from this love, as if God merely has to 'give up' and become frustrated, dare to make a caricature of His knowledge and power
(cf. Romans 9:16, John 1:12ff., Ephesians 1:11, where as in countless other cases it is so clear), and are
in in danger of 'creating' what they do not understand, like some psychiatrist, intoxicated with ignorance, presumption and pride. rThus, reconstructing the mind before him, he often opines without that knowledge which only God can have (Jeremiah 17:9-10). If such a case would be strange in human terms, then when
it is the divine to which one looks, it is the more ludicrous. Shall a man intimate to GOD what is His
thought! Such telepsychiatry is derisible, and with far less wisdom than with such 'operations' on men
do such opine, since God is infinite, and man finite!

 

What God says is the truth, and in this field it is clear as dew (cf. The Predestination Trilogy).

 

God takes whom He will, does not force, determines in His truth who are His, foreknows them
apart from any works of theirs, and secures the victory through His own Son of which those who are His
are the recipients.

 

 

He does not dilly-dally, nor is He overcome; He does not fail to secure His will, nor does He fail to treat
those in His image as He deems fitting. In love He does all, in power He secures all whom He does not
thus violate beyond the image imparted, in the creation; in grace He manipulates none, for He is the truth.

 

The extremes of an uncapable God and a dominating one are far-fetched, insecure mouthings without the divine word. Neither position accords with scripture; and that is one reason why contestants have often treated one another rather shabbily, convinced that this or that position is correct, and that the
 'opponent' is all wrong. In these two cases above, EACH of the opponents is wrong, BOTH have
transcended the word of God. Meanwhile, a little love can go a long way here! In the end, however, we
have no mandate and no right to transgress with philosophies: GOD HAS SAID and both these extremes ignore elemtns both of scripture and of the principles it imparts.

 

What IS sure is what is written.

 

The "election" of Christians before the world began - that is, the eternal choice God made in entire
agreement with all the DECLARED principles of His nature, does indeed mean it is pre-arranged.
The fact however that it is PRE‑arranged says NOTHING on HOW this was done. WHEN something is done is not the same issue at all as to this: IN WHAT WAY was it done!

 

Now Jesus Christ is the Son of God and anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father (that is in John
14:9). Thus when He mourned for Jerusalem, there is no question of the longing love of God for it (Luke 13:34‑35). He WOULD have 'healed Babylon', cries Jeremiah (51:9), and He would have healed Isaiah, intimates Hosea (7:1), but it is not healed. HE WOULD have, do we see in both Testaments, and
repeatedly in each. It is His own holiness which will not proceed beyond the case, either to defile the
image of God in man by manipulation or force, so continually pleading WITH TRUTH, in terms of JUDGMENT
and MERCY. In love He would go to the most extreme point, in truth, He will not deviate. 

 

Accordingly, He went to the cross as He made so clear in Isaiah 50-55, Zechariah 3, 12, Psalm 2, and
He did it  willingly (Psalm 44 cf. Joyful Jottings 22). He SO LOVED the world (as in I Timothy 2,
Colossians 1:19ff.), that He GAVE, and in giving, incarnated His eternal Word, His fellow, His outshining (Hebrews 1), Him with whom He created all that is of the created variety (John 1:3), as distinct from
Himself, increate, eternal, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Isaiah 48:16, II Corinthians 13:14, 3:17ff., Matthew 28:19, John 15:26).

 

In this way, it is none other than God Himself who gave His life in human format, on
account of sin, and dying with it, killed it as a judicially necessary result for man. The love GAVE, but it
did not dictate. The sovereign God selected, but not without the love which is endemic in Him; and He
knew, not from some psychological quirk in pathological man, but in His own omniscience who are His.
Naturally, being the supernatural sovereign, He knew all this before He founded the world (Ephesians
1:4), since time is a mere invention for our world, and a place for events, not the source of the wisdom
either of creation or salvation.  As to that, it is in Him: whom HE FOREKNEW, yes this is first, not in
their coming works, but in HIMSELF (Romans 9:11,16), it is these whom He in logical sequence, then
PREDESTINED.

 

How foolish it is to speak in hushed tones of 'predestination' as if it were some ogre! It is GOD who is love
who has kindly both foreknown and predestinated, the former first in order of described sequence, in our
time language. It is because of this, not despite it, that ANYONE is saved, and equally that NO ONE
is lost needlessly in the face of such mercy and love. NOTHING can go wrong! You want Him now ? He is
there saying this, He who comes to Me, I shall certainly not cast out. It is CHRIST who says this, since
He went to the trouble of BEING HERE, and appealling to us. There is no other way (Acts 4:11-12,
Ephesians 1:10), nor will there ever be, whether for sin in heaven or in earth (Colossians 1:19ff. says just this).

 

 

Paul tells us that
God would have all men to be saved
and to come to a knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:4).

This he does in a categorical context of God, man, sin and Mediator. There is one God, one Mediator, one
sin deserving execution, however manifold its manifestations. There is one account, one overall depiction,
one opportunity in Him. In this vast exposure, like hills upon hills to the distance from some great height,
you see what God is doing. There is no need to invent for Him: FOR HE TELLS YOU! That and that alone
is biblical theology, which takes heed to what He says, and acts on it, not sidelining it for philosophical
impertinences, nor yet augmenting it for theological aspirations born of flesh.

What amazing wonder that in this, His most costly but simple way, profound in beauty, direct in thrust,
God should overcome all the problems of man's mind in this sphere! Nothing else does or can: for if
it were left to the actual working of man's will, as if he held it all in his own hand, then his pathological
condition and the vagaries of events would work ruin, limitation, consternation, and defilement would
obscure (cf. I Corinthians 2:14). The sick are not good at operations! On the other hand, if the will of
man were not declared to be relevant (though not sovereign as above), then it would be outside this
that the work of foreknowing occurred, so that there would be a characteristic or condition which was
critical. Then where is love to all ? and where love is not operative, then there is simple selection
according to some plan or purpose or preference. That does not implement mercy into mankind,
but preference into its teeming multitudes. In that way, the sovereignty becomes mere selection,
not endemic seeking for man as he is; just as the opposite extreme, of man selecting himself by and in
himself, becomes mere pathetic working of a ruin, like seeing which way a skeleton will stick up its arm,
if the wind blows.

 

In the way God has shown this joint sovereignty (entire) in Himself in the predestination, and on the
other hand has shown this terminal limit when it is a question of invasion of man, manipulation or mere
'handling', as if his will were not only sick but irrelevant. Thus human responsibility is TOTAL, for GOD KNOWS what He is doing, and how He loves.  Again, the One whom we find is not an aristocratic
incumbent, for He humbled even Himself, and no amount of mystery would hide the concept that HE
CHOSE the ones He preferred, without the actual and scriptural emphasis, so blindingly dazzling, but
so pellucidly clear in the water of His word, that in so preferring He thrusts on man this consideration of
restraint. GOD DID NOT COME to condemn, but to save. If YOU had not heard the words and works
NONE other has heard, said Christ, you would not have had sin (i.e. that which leads to damnation, as in the
context - John 15:22-24).

 

How often as in Jeremiah 17, the Lord promotes and presents NEW mercy and NEW offers, even after
categorically announcing doom (as in Jeremiah 4:5ff., and even in 15 cf. Marvels of Predestination
Ch. 7). HE can do this because He KNOWS what is to be; but it shows the untempered mercy and the disposition to love, which though it abides with knowledge, yet breaks like surging breakers beyond the
level of the ocean, and declares itself again and again! HOW OFTEN...! said He in Matthew 23:37,
we read. It is no different in the Old Testament when we read in II Chronicles of their increasingly
arrogant apostasy, TILL THERE WAS NO REMEDY, though the Lord had industriously been sending
prophet after prophet, rising up early in the morning (Hosea 12:10)!

 

 

SEEING THE WONDER OF HIS HOLY HARMONY
AND UNIQUELY EMBRACIVE TRUTH

 

Thus does love allow meaning to responsibility, and mercy to repentance; and the opportunity divinely
given for a new creation, though He Himself must interpose to produce it, is not a mere act of power,
but of implementation of the predestination wrought in Christ, who on earth showed as the Lord does in all
the scriptures, the disposition to love, which nothing either tames, frustrates or intimidates
(cf. Luke 19:42ff.). Thus too does choice, though it is the Lord who implements it Himself in sick man,
become something beyond a mere exhibition of a component of the self, since the self is not sovereign,
but known by the ONE WHO IS!

 

Here then is genuine liberty, even in the sick souls who constitute mankind, and genuine sovereignty,
missing none, seeking all with NO frustration, but genuine grief, as love has, for the lost. Nothing else in principle CAN explain these components of man, the rigour of life and the reality of liberty, and
responsibility simultaneously, nor could it: for the least requirement is the actual: a sovereign utterly
loving Being beyond all the weakness and limitation of man, a genuine option beyond the restrictions
of man, and a new being which is not a mere outcome of the innate nature of man, but a gift from God.
 

There is no other God; there is no other love in sovereign quarters; there is no other solution. It is not so much a lack of thought that has blasted philosophy into such confusion in this sphere, as failing to have
the ingredients, both necessary and actual, which alone can suffice for the result that covers what man actually is. This is because man, being a creature of God, CANNOT be explained except in terms of God.

 

This, then, both the total explanation of man and his ways, on the one hand,
and the information for this divine saving action coming alone
from the God who ALONE HAS what it TAKES to explain
what man is, and alone has provided this over the millenia,
in the inscripturated and testable testimony that He is there:


it is a verification of the Bible.

 

It is likewise a verification of man's condition, need and salvation.

 

Predestination in the Bible is the most beautiful thing! (cf. The Heavens are Telling).

 

 

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Thus the ATTITUDE and ACTUATING love of God is clear.
 

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It is NOT dismissive and none goes to hell because of any short‑circuit, lapse,
diminution of the brightness of God's love; only despite it. GOD IS love! (John 4:7ff.).

That is what makes it so important that in Revelation 1:18 we find that
no one can go to hell

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unless Christ,

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who has the keys to it,

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suffers it to be so.

 

And what does HE say ? It is this: that He came NOT to condemn the world,

but that it might be saved (John 3:17). 

 

What does HE expostulate ? This : HOW OFTEN I WOULD HAVE GATHERED YOU, and this,
IF YOU HAD KNOWN, EVEN YOU, IN THIS YOUR DAY, THE THINGS THAT BELONG TO
YOUR PEACE, but NOW... (Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:342ff.).
Now they would be desolate!

 

To whom does He here speak ? To the Jerusalem of His day! What does He say of others, but this,
that many would come from the East and West to be with Abraham, while the physical children of Abraham
in so many cases, failed (Matthew 8:10-12).

 

What else ? This: If I had not come and done among you
the works which no other man did, you would not have had sin .
.. (John 15:21ff.).

 

Did He then suggest
they were not sinners, or would be free of sin ?

Of course not (John 3), but rather than in terms of His words there,
they WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DAMNED! (cf.  John 8:24,39ff.).

It was not His desire for this, but the heart of man which led to this result,
DESPITE His willingness, so pure, passionate and with such a dynamic of performance power.

 

The ATTITUDE of God is not subject to some veiled mystery in this; for the FOCUS of His love in Christ
is stated most expressly (Colossians 1:19ff.); and
the damnation of many ( Matthew 7:13‑14) is also
clear.
HIS FOREKNOWLEDGE (not a matter of seeing that someone WILL believe or WILL do this
or that, as Paul makes so apparent in Romans 9:11, but of His actual knowledge in His own eternal way,
of the person concerned), is a sure thing, an unhurried thing. In this, God is perfectly and beautifully
able to FULFIL every single one of His principles: whether law, or love, or justice, or pity, compassion, willingness to save, repudiation of sin or non‑violation of the will, overlooking none, dragooning none,
appealing to all, providing for all, and justifying those whom, in His love toward all, He calls.

These principles of His, you see them continually held forth, exemplified, applied, and you see them
continually in the prophets, as in Christ;  and what God exposes of His nature is true for ever,
for He does not change ‑ Malachi 3:6, Psalm 90). There is no second course (Ephesians 1:10,
Revelation 21-22).

 

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HOW He does this is a secret thing (technically, if you will,  Deuteronomy 29:,29);
but that He does it
is declared
(Romans 8:29‑39, I Tim.2:1-6, Col. 1:19ff.).
 

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IN doing it the way He does, GOD loses
NONE whom He selects,
violates NO principle,
for all principles He declares are HIS OWN, and all POWER is His, as all WISDOM
(Ephesians 3:8, Romans 11:33):

no, nothing is lost, aborted or dumped, on the one hand,
or ignorantly chosen or imported, on the other,
duplicity has no triumph, and love is undimmed and undiminished.

Nothing fails:-

   not the LOVE which He is

   nor the POWER which He has,

   not the SOVEREIGNTY, nor the pity.

 

COMPASSION is as upright as law and love and mercy. GOD DOES WHAT HE PLEASES ( Psalm 115).
HE INVENTED a system where His will works. It is as simple as that.

 

But HOW ? It would be quite possible for God in His foreknowledge to know the person and resolve the ultimate issues in His mind without the person at all being present, like a great architect, striding through buildings not built, in His mind (cf. SMR Ch. 8). Our wills, sunken in sin before our conversion ( Ephesians 2:8,4:18‑19) are disenabled from choosing God in the sense that Adam chose sin; but as to God,
 

HE  is not disenabled -
at all.


If HE is (and He is) beyond our unconverted wills in choice (for spiritual things seem foolish to the unconverted ‑ 1 Corinthians 2:14), that by no means implies that our wills are at all beyond Him.
There is not even a problem: it is just that we do not know the way He elects, only the principles
ON WHICH He elects. It is sufficient for faith, more than sufficient indeed, to know that the principles He states will be fulfilled.

 

Will He not violate the person whom He has made ? Not at all, in His seeking. This is simplicity to God.

 

Will He know without being diverted by the sin which blinds the person ?
Of  course: what could be simpler to infinite knowledge and comprehensive understanding
based on exhaustive creation in the first place.

 

 

SEEING SOMETHING SUMMARY

See Predestination and Freewill for an exposition of the unique harmony and comprehensive adequacy ALONE of the Biblical presentation on the issue of freedom, sovereignty, responsibility and love, as also
the trilogy of which it forms part, including
The Heavens are Telling and

The Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will.


Again, you may wish to consult SMR Ch. 5, for a brief word.

 

Various intimations and requirements arise as various scriptures are considered in the trilogy; but in Predestination and Freewill, more is given.
 

In this a presentation, as a hypothetical exhibition, and nothing more, of how it might be done, is presented, SIMPLY to demonstrate its lucid logic and entire reasonableness, thus giving biblical principles the pre-eminence which is theirs, in clear-cut demonstration on the one hand, and intimation of possible procedure on the other. The obvious fact that the greatness of God is beyond us, is not relevant here, for it is enough to show that even in what can be seen in terms of the co-operation of His stated principles, from the Bible, there is so far from problem, a harmony so intense and so immense that it is inspiring!

Again, it is clear that when HE CHOOSES TO TELL us about His heart, and SHOW us
how He operates in history, complete if not indeed replete with examples and comments,
in fact commentary, then the imagination is by no means unassisted: it is just that it is
not for us to lay down how He does it, in His dazzling splendour, merely to show how it
might be done in perfect logical cohesion, which nothing else in this field even has or even
could show. When God speaks, the result is light! "In Thy light, we see light" - Psalm  36:9.

 

Christ is always the criterion of salvation and His rejection explicitly constitutes the ultimate criterion of damnation (John 3:18‑19); indeed this is stated as its ground, that preference against Him is in view
(John 3:18‑19 cf. SMR Appendix B, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4).


How God does it, in spiritual function as distinct from principle, which is revealed, in these deep areas,
is HIS BUSINESS, and it is good to leave it to Him. He is to be trusted, and much of the over‑emphasis on will and choice and sovereignty and frustration and so forth, in endless-seeming entanglement, seems to come from the fact that people tend to make philosophies.

 

In biblical terms: Quite simply: salvation is entirely of grace
(NOT because God found some people more suitable, or with better character, or more mobile wills,  or more sensitive or any other meritorious thing ‑Romans 3:27);

and damnation is entirely without
negative inference on the scope and dimensions of the love of God, God who IS love.

 

While, then, God chooses on His own terms ( Romans 9:18), there is a total love backing to those terms
(cf. Romans 9:22) towards the whole human race. AT PREDESTINATION, there is the backdrop of FOREKNOWLEDGE (Romans 8:29ff.), and IN PREDESTINING there are the principles including His love towards all (Colossians 1:19ff.), which operate. Being ahead of time is a guarantee of losing nothing
which might justly be gained, not the opposite! It is a safeguard and a guarantee. If YOU want GOD,
then HE wanted you long before that. HE is not against your coming, but in favour of it, to the point of so loving the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son.

 

What God says, then,  must not be minimised or distorted or aborted; just believed. It is up to Him HOW
He does it; He does not lack power. There is no moral, logical , theological or ethical problem; just
ignorance of His precise procedure. It is readily imagined in terms of the constraining principles of His word, however, and this entirely reasonably. The technical side of things I am very happy to leave to One so infinitely competent to handle it. I am glad it is not for me to institute that. Leave it to Him who has what it takes, and has taken what He has, to ensure the fullest operation of divine love without compromise or intrusion.

 

As to that, how clearly you see it in Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:422ff. (cf. SMR Appendix B).

 

What IS for us, is to acknowledge heartily ALL His principles and to abide by them. It is not wrong to
imagine possibilities for Apologetics and to present the position in principle and in illustration to
demonstrate the wonder of His holiness and the unique brilliance of His word; but it is not wise to
presume them true. All that is known that He fulfils His principles, His word; but what may be seen is this,
that in His principles there is such a coverage of every facet of the issues involved, that nothing either
does or by its very nature COULD so cover them! This too is shown in the trilogy noted.

 

Predestination is one ground of our ASSURANCE; for GOD is not hastily compiling lists. On the contrary,
with infinite power and entire sovereignty, He has fully satisfied all His principles, and has chosen whom
He will. That choice is made manifest when a trusting soul is saved. Without predestination, there would
be no such event. That is the way God works. Eternal things have eternal dimensions. He makes no
mistakes; He does not err, He knows what He is doing, and has known the end from the beginning,
not to its compromise in reality, but as an assurance of this! Indeed,  what He says, as in Romans 10:9,
simply occurs. The door is open and the soul that does not enter has an account to settle ... with God.

 


 

23. The DAY of REST and LIFE at REST in CHRIST

 

God will provide 'rest from their labours' for all the saints who, having completed their pilgrimage on this fascinating, challenging and great opportunity, life on earth, return to their Maker (Revelation 14:13, 11 Corinthians 4:16‑5:3, Revelation 7:13‑17, 1 Thessalonians 5:9‑10, John 5:24, Romans 10:1‑4). Here is the eternal rest which is from the toils and suffering of sailing in the distressed seas of humanity. When that phase is past; here is the rest which, following the INTERNAL REST which Christ provides NOW (Matthew 11: 28‑29), becomes EXTERNAL, with works 'following' in this rest, as the wake follows a speedboat which suddenly stops its career across the waters.

 

But NOW ? Now EVERY seventh day there is a DAY OF REST, a preliminary instalment in ONE sense, of that eternal rest. HERE there is to be a cessation of the grind of body or mind, the toil to produce in terms of one's obligations and career, commission, task.

 

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1) There is to consider first, the COMMAND to this effect, found in Exodus 20:8‑11.

The SABBATH day ‑ it is a term meaning 'cessation' day. GOD created and CEASED this, His labour of brilliance, that prodigy which is our universe within, and universe without, so acutely correlated that we can reasonably contemplate the one through the other; and so WE labour, and CEASE. THAT is the reason given in the ten commandments, for this, our most blessed day of
rest. As to that, it is BASED on something that HAPPENED, inthe past. It cannot unhappen.

There is no way God's statement that we (in His image as creations‑ Genesis 1:26) rest
BECAUSE He did, can be removed. WE are fulfilling what HE did, in image form, at our own
created level; and this is a stated requirement on THAT basis.

What then ? Violate it ? Remove the creation and you may have some appearance
of a case; till then, you have nothing to do except TAKE WITH the creation, this requirement!

 

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2) REQUIREMENT ? Let us however look at that formulation. It is this, but that is like saying to a child that it is required that he eat his ice-cream.

It is a delight,
a provision,
a management kindness,
a Creator's judicious thoughtfulness,
a marvel of abundance,
a luxury of joy,

to be able as a DUTY to STOP. It is almost an irony: STOP the toil that however delightful,
is yet tiring, moving on towards exhaustion, challenging the heart. It must be abundant while
it lasts, and rest must be relatively short, and abundant, when this toil ceases. Then can one
consider the trend, the good and bad features of the week's accomplishments, draw new
inspiration, strength, direction, guidance, help, vitality.
As one does there is rest in Him, whose rest is refreshment and joy.


Do you ever consider that IF what you are doing is not much, or not really taxing, then stopping might seem a little less delightful!  ONE way to find whether what one is doing is indeed a
heavy use of one's talents, is the joy in finding, 'AH, it is  the DAY OF REST and now I will be
still!'
  It therefore has this practical diagnostic payload as well! You can self-check...

 

DELIGHT ? Yes, the author did not invent that thought. Look at Isaiah 58:13‑14. Here the prophet Isaiah gives the INWARD and directly SPIRITUAL realities in view. You are NOT to tread on the day of rest; not to make it a 'my pleasure day' scenario; you are, on the other hand, urged to call it 'a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable'.

 

Thus it is an opportunity to spend time with less intrusion, with the ONE you love, with the GRACE of His presence, the COMFORT, CONSOLIDATION and CLEANING of His friendship and function, with the PASTOR over all, the Lord Jesus Christ, yes, with your God. You CEASE (remember , 'cessation' ?) from your own ways; it is not even a day to fulfil your temperament. It is a day ... FOR THE LORD. IF you love Him, it will not be onerous.

 

Imagine having a date with your girl friend, and battling to avoid it! or calling it onerous, an imposition. So does the rest day for your God, your Lord, your Shepherd, likewise test your love!

 

It can therefore also be a TEST OT SINCERITY!  Let us revert to our illustration of the young man and the one with whom he has a date. SHE would be quick to discern if it were a bore to him, an intrusion. If then you expect HONOURABLE reality in a pre‑marital situation, courtship, for a companionship for a lifetime on earth, WHAT is to be expected for a pilgrimage with the LORD leading to the pure and exquisite delight of friendship with the ALMIGHTY FOR EVER! Take then this thing not lightly! It is a life‑line.

 

DO NOT even make it a time for blather ‑ do not 'speak your own words'. It is not for the fulfilment of your fleshly desires, but the development of life with the Lord, and your honing, caring, sharing, resting, being instructed in the inner man, far from the whirls of the day's winds and work's impacts. Quite simply you are FREE BUT consider the implications of what you do: DOES THIS HELP the holy purpose of the day ? It is NOT a time to judge this or that interpretation of rest, as swimming or walking before the Lord with Him in view; it IS a time to judge for oneself. In judging, this is the criterion, is it rest from your labours.

 

 

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3) JUDGE ? Yes, alas, man is prone to judge; but GOD is judge. Now this GOD judges,
that MAN IS NOT MADE FOR THE SABBATH BUT THE SABBATH FOR MAN (Mark 2:27‑28). CHRIST DID a work of casual mercy, something which came up, on the SABBATH, and HIS FATHER was working in this with HIM as Christ was using the format of MAN for Himself (being incarnated), to show mercy, be an example, provide redemption, provide the testimony for faith
and break death in resurrection. AS He was doing this, an opportunity for service, for a healing
arose on the day of rest (it was NOT an appointment!). He met the need, in pity. He did not earn. He did not plan. He did not organise it. A need arose; He met it in mercy, without charge.

 

Yes a work of mercy is not awry or amiss on the DAY OF REST. ALSO, CHRIST is explicit in HAVING LORDSHIP OVER THE DAY OF REST. HE CLAIMS a divine sovereignty even over this provision. Far from teaching that we DO NOT CEASE from our labours as provided on the basis that GOD RESTED after six creative days, He rather was showing the deeper meaning. You do not cease to be kind because you rest!

 

As to Christ, is providing such an input to the meaning of the day, the prerogative is HIS as Moses made clear, in Deuteronomy 18:18‑19, speaking of that prophet to come who would be 'raised up', often shown as the MESSIAH in the prophets (cf. Luke 24:25ff. ). It is HE who must take precedence, as the living and eternal word of God become man. We must see WHAT then HE said. What then, to the point was that ? It was  BOTH that He came to fulfil, not to abrogate or annul the Law; and that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 5:17‑19, Mark 2 as above).

 

 

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4) But JUDGE ? THIS sort of arrogant intrusion into man's affairs by his fellow man,
God has judged! (Matthew 7:1). Yes WE must not act as judges. Of course what HE SAYS
is binding and this HE has judged already! It is however when HE forbids certain actions, be they adultery, theft or grabbing the day of rest and making ourselves immune to a condition of our
creation, that we must heed or face the results of such casual disregard of 'the Manufacturer's
specifications'!

 

HE (Colossians 2:14‑17 cf. Hebrews 10:1ff.) judges that NO MAN may judge another with respect to sabbaths, as the vast majority of Greek texts have it (cf. Bible Translation). The whole range of sabbaths (rest could be specially proclaimed for various days and reasons, as well as on the seventh day, in the Old Covenant), this was NO MORE to be a subject for particular judgment (i.e. by APPLYING the law to a case clearly covered by it) . The intricacies and specialist interpretations and applications of sabbaths, as defined by external symbols, COULD NO MORE be judged.

 

There is only one possible reason. THAT PART of the law which was a shadow (as defined in Hebrews 10:1ff.) or symbol (Colossians 2:17 in our immediate context), which Christ had fulfilled, the part which was in line with new moon ceremonies, feasts and the like: THIS was OUT. Examples of the provisions which would relate include the death penalty for picking up sticks on the Sabbath ‑ a severe provision to impart sensitivity to the issues involved (cf. Romans 7:13, Galatians 4:2,9). The RITUAL, CEREMONY and MULTIPLIED DETAILS are GONE. The SABBATHS as co-ordinate with things to come (Colossians 2:17), these were no longer available for negative action, for judgment as to whether one had done this or that, or not. However, THE SABBATH which is DEFINED in terms of THINGS PAST ONLY, in words so clear that even a verbal mechanic could not reverse them, even in terms of the creation as wrought in seven days!

 

Christ did not come to abort the law, as He said (Matthew 5:17‑19). HE has made it clear where the process stops, in fulfilment. "I did not come to abort the law (abolish) or the prophets," He said." I did not come to abolish but to fulfil." He went on to say that not one jot or tittle of the law would pass till ALL was fulfilled. God says it; God means it; God DOES it. He is a fulfiller, not an abolitionist, of HIS OWN WORD.

 

The 'rendering *sabbaths' is normally taken to refer, then to the weekly, monthly, yearly or other ceremonies of rest, and in context the issue is the entire area of ceremonial multiplication.

 

Christ did not then abort the law. He removed shadows, symbols into substance. He did not re‑constitute man; He redeemed men. He did not re‑make nature; He restored man in nature (Colossian 3:10), and that EXPLICITLY.

 

GOD has not ceased, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, to be the Creator in 6 days who rested on the seventh. Man has not ceased to be the creation to whom this is tied by virtue of image‑bearing from God. The 10 commandments do not fail because Christ has died: for these are modes of life, not rituals or ceremony such as Colossians 2:16 lists, and Colossians 2:17 defines for 2:16*1 . That, the futuristic phase of sabbaths is what is in view, not the past phase. The law, is ' ESTABLISHED', not annulled, as Paul says (Romans 3:31). Its fulfilled portions are incorporated in Christ's atonement, all the symbolism that was for 'minors', as Galatians 4 depicts, is past in the maturity of Christ. Now that we are 'of age', Paul teaches there we now see direct to the core things.

 

We do not however confuse the future with the past, which Paul expressly uses in delimiting his words, nor is maturity capable well of confusing creation with atonement.

 

The word of God is never outmoded, only fulfilled. He does not deny Himself (I Timothy 2:13). Abraham indeed was saved by the same faith as we (Romans 4:2-12, 23-25), and neither God nor His Gospel has changed as Paul there declares so clearly.

 

Let us now proceed with the point that Paul has shown the core to be now open to us, who inherit Christ, and that there is now a next phase, one of comparative maturity, as we pass in some things from preliminary (but quite clear) symbolism, to the substance (as also in Hebrews 8-10), to the things signified themselves.

 

We see the core ? This however does not mean that we surrender the core!

 

 Quite the contrary; it focusses the core, it is established as the apostle teaches (Romans 3:31). "Do we then make void the law through faith ? Certainly not. On the contrary, we establish the law."

 

The skin of the banana is off; but the fruit remains. The symbols and ceremonies of an earlier phase are fulfilled (Hebrews 9 & 10, Isaiah 22:21‑25). The truth however remains. The truth ? it is that God created the world in 6 days and that THEREFORE, as thus constructed by THIS CREATOR, we rest too (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri Ch. 9).

 

It is a monumental perversion of the truth to seek to annul the facts, or the divine perspective as stated by God. As Isaiah says in the chapter after 58 (the 'Sabbath' stressing verses are here indeed), in 59:21,  the words the prophet gives will go on throughout the

generations:

 

      "My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your

      mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your

      descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants,

      says the Lord, from this time and forevermore."

 

There is no further gospel, no further Christ, no further covenant than this, the One foretold at the Head.

 

Isaiah ? This is the "evangelical prophet" who proclaimed in advance the Gospel (53,11, 2, 22,40‑42,49-55 etc.) and the coming into grace of the Gentiles (Isaiah 65:13‑16 cf. Jeremiah 16:19ff.); and the word stands.

 

How then may we not judge, even by applying the word of God ? In sabbaths and new moons, and so on, says Paul in Colossians, we may not. Why ? Because, being fulfilled in this, it is no longer operative. In respect of forms, contradistinct from the reality, the truth of the matter (Colossians 2:17), sabbaths do not apply.

 

What then remains here ? Christ who came not to annul but to fulfil ... Did He 'fulfil' that God rested on the 7th day ? THAT would be to contradict history, not to fulfil; and to contradict He did not come, we learn from His lips. He redeemed; but He did not deny our creation or what followed from it ... like periodicity of rest on the divine model.

 

We do indeed 'enter into our rest' ( Hebrews 4 with Psalm 95:7; Isaiah 63:14), in Christ, who did not annul the truth but exposed it most beautifully. In Him we rest, obedient to the explicit will of God.

 

Catered for and covenantally covered by His blood, we rest in a free salvation provided by grace. We do not however prosecute this rest by denying our correlative format, our image from the Creator*2 and the specialised formula and format of rest, as statedly consequent upon this.

 

Reverence for the word of God does not make a sort of plastic key for undoing anything at all in the word of God. (The rest cited in Hebrews  4 from a quotation in the Old Covenant, headed: TODAY! - the offer being then current and apt for the Old Covenant therefore.)

 

Christ, then, gives rest in redemption; but He does not perform this by deleting our image and the gracious counsel which God has pronounced on that basis; He does not give us rest from our 'works' by deleting our day of rest, from working in the 6 day cycle,  that we might rest in the 7th.. Our creative status remains, is rectified in the reception of the rest that is in Him, and has always been available to the people of God; but it is neither defiled, nor deformed, nor essentially altered in the created model and pattern by this. Rather is it renewed, restored to holiness, more apt than ever, since we are  placed back in the image of Him who created us, in
this way!
 

Of that, this this rest is part, in its created condition as specified quite clearly by God. It is the mode of this type of creation, made in this way, restored to its made mould as it now is.

 

Thus we read in Colossians 3:10 that the Christian has

 

      put on the new man who is being renewed to a true knowledge

      according to the image of Him who created him (NASB); and

 

in Ephesians 4:24 that we are to put on the new man who (NLKJV):

 

      was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.

 

This is the Biblical perspective, and this we must follow.

 

No judgment on FORMS (a 'shadow') then, is to occur, because THAT IS fulfilled; but as to the SUBSTANCE, the truth of creation as divinely specified in the PAST, and the results as divinely commanded in the past for man:  God has not altered, nor has He abrogated this in the slightest degree. He knew what He meant from the beginning and said it. He does not 'grow up', and knows from the first, the last (Isaiah 46:10).

 

He does not change and in Him is no shadow of turning. He may make progressive but not regressive revelation, has no need of revisionism; the word of. the Lord, unlike the grass of the field, stands forever (I Peter 1:24). The house built on that rock stands; and just as Christ IS the Rock, so HE specifies the use of His words, which include Matthew 5:17-20, as the rock-placed action! (Matthew 7:24-27).

     The word of God is never outmoded, only fulfilled. He does not deny Himself (1 Timothy 2:13).   
     Abraham indeed was saved by the same faith as we Romans 4:2‑12,23‑25).
 

 

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5) What then did Christ DO relative to the DAY of REST, as 'Lord of the Sabbath' ?
which could no more be bound in its symbolic forms, but had to remain in its DAY OF REST
essence, being founded on a defined past event which as such was unalterable ?

 

He appeared on a Sunday, fresh from the dismissal of dismal death as the inheritance so richly deserved by mankind. To be sure, all this was known to God from eternity, and predicted for a millenium; but its PERFORMANCE was realised rest! His appearance on the Lord's day, Sunday, therefore, was productive of rest instead of restlessness, and giving occasion for worship of Himself (which happened in fact), in particular on the second Lord's day, proceeding then as now, in sequence,  on the part of Thomas (John 20:19‑23).

 

Why did He not so come with SUCH rest on Saturday, the Sabbath that commemorated God's creation ? It is this: He was as to body STILL IN THE GRAVE, on the da.

 

No use for rest came to the troubled disciples because of that simple but profound fact (cf.Luke 24:19‑21). Quite the contrary was the trend. The incarnate God did NOT appear on that Saturday in the redemptive plan; the work of the resurrection was NOT then performed. Resurrection was NOT creation, and the rest for the people of God was NOT made in the work of original creation, but in the work of the new redemption. Then did God rest, then did Christ appear, then could man rest; as rest he MUST, as ordained, and rest he COULD as seeing the Redeemer first hand, fresh from His tour of triumph over all creation (cf. II Corinthians 2:14, I Peter 2:18ff.).

 

Now notice this, that Paul says in Romans 4:24‑25, of Christians, concerning the righteousness of God:      

 

       It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord
       from the dead, who was delivered up for our offences, and  was raised up
       for our justification.

 

There is rest: justified NOW, now that HE, the Christ, the Messiah is raised up, the soul has rest in Him. There is the essence of rest, reception into eternal life and assured companionship with God as Creator, Redeemer and Guarantor, as friend (Romans 8:32‑39).

 

Thus there was 'Peace to you', as a theme consummating that earlier, peace not as the world gives, now that their joy was inspired with His post‑resurrection visit. HE was there; HE was restored as He said He would be, when giving His peace earlier, when still proclaiming the coming crisis to come,  before their rejoicing.

 

The disciples before this resurrection had wrestled; now they rested.

 

They worshipped, He blessed, refreshed, communed, showed, strengthened and confirmed them, intimately and personally. THAT is rest! Before the resurrection, He had said:

"Therefore now you have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you"
(John 16:22).

 

He did not make the disciples now into a novelty in their persons; no, but they, re‑created in the image of Him who first made them, into that which God first gave man, could rest in His presence now. THIS image is required to rest on the day of rest as God shall see fit, on the model provided, that of the creation. What it was, thus it rested; what it was remade to be, thus also it rested, in each case by unalterable divine decree for that result of that creation.

 

THIS now was of necessity the DAY of rest, commemorating rest. THIS too was of necessity one day in seven, adapted to the creation.

 

What ? Was God not at work in raising Christ towards the dawning of the day on that first Sunday, when the women came with spices ? Will it be said that THIS was not the greatest work of God, to deliver up and raise up His own Son for the sins and for the justification of life of the whole race, those who come to Him (i.e. the whole family of believers ‑ cf. I Peter 1:21,2:9) ?

 

What then does the Lord say (I Peter 1:21)? This: God "raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."

 

This is the seventh work of God; the work of redemption is here  finished and its proclamation assured in power (Romans 1:4): declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the  Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.   THIS work of God was necessary NOT because the first work was  inadequate, but purely because the greatest work, man, having the marvellous gift of liberty, misused it, crashed his 'car', inherited  death and needed deliverance.
 

God worked once more, and 'It is finished', Christ proclaimed from the Cross; and it is only when THAT necessary restoration is finished, the strange and marvellous work of which Isaiah speaks, that man can find assured rest for ever. In quality it came before and was received by faith; in basis it came then, observable by sight! So the day of worship as of rest commemorates this greatest work of God, on the day when THIS is finished: Sunday. We do not slight the greatest work of God,  by which we stand. We remain in a six stage creation, but the restoration for that creation, though not integral to its first being made, becomes integral to the work of God, for us, in which we rest. And rest ? Only and of course as the Church did, at the outset, when and as the Lord enabled by COMING INTO THEIR MIDST, fresh with the rest of victory.

 

HENCE, to enshrine God's works in 6 days ONLY... NOW that the greatest work has come (Hebrews 5:7-10, 2:10-18, Galatians 6:14), is to omit the labour of life by His Son! CHRIST‑ians - those who know, honour and follow Christ as Lord, Saviour, Redeemer, eternal Word of the living God enshrined in flesh, incarnate: these naturally honour the work by which they are constituted, claimed and covered, in a way focussing Him who did it on the day it was done. They do not lazily return to creation when the Creator has come to them! Their symbols do not signify demeaning, degradation or dismissal, as if they had not noticed that THIS was the work par excellence of God, a redeeming work, not constitutive of their created natures, but restorative, without which they could not even live. And they 'rest' in that! or symbolise it as if it had never occurred in their 'day' of rest!

 

 

To revert to Saturday in this context, and for this reason, would of course be blasphemy and folly. It.would indeed deprecated, degrade, demean, or even ignore SALVATION, that gracious work of God without which a man does not even know God, and COULD NOT! (cf. John 17:3, Ephesians 4:17‑19, 2:1-8).

 

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So to act would be a contradiction of what one is, as a Christian, and of what God did! Whatever would be intended, this would be the implication. If we then are not to glory EXCEPT in the Cross of Christ by which the world is crucified to us, and we to the world,, that effectual work of the Cross towering into the clouds of wonder in the resurrection which is its obverse, andGalatians 6:14 so directs us, what would this be ? to imply a workless Saviour in the New Covenant in his blood! Will Christ be pushed back into the womb, and the work of birth, indeed the coming from heaven be countermanded ?
 

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Or will the work of God in the salvation which Christ secured be the new labour which the new day commemorates in the old way!
 

What would it be  ... if this were refused, in terms of Galatians 6:14, for example ? It would be this: a very precise contradiction. As to that, leave it to the devil. To be ensnared in such an outrageous gambit is not wise, is not necessary and is repugnant to the heart in which the very EXISTENCE of life before God depends on ONE THING: Christ crucified, yea risen from the dead, the work that made man man  again,  and His image actualised again in law, in love and in provision, covering for all time in one time the timing of the restoration.

 

We do therefore,  for all these reasons as a mere commencement, have our IMAGE-OF-GOD DAY OF REST as divinely prescribed NOW, through THE LORD OF THE SABBATH, on the day that brought REST, both for God (as Redeemer) and for man (where redeemed) ... and that ? The DAY OF THE RESURRECTION, on which the offerings were duly put aside (I Corinthians 16), on which the Lord duly and of course met His disciples after resurrection, on which He met them again in the saga of Thomas, on the next Lord's day, instituting a pattern of power and presence for such purposes, and so providing even for Thomas then, as for the rest on the preceding Lord's day, REST of heart. Here was the time for such deep and supervening operations, for the gathering of the people in the public performance of the necessities of worship and what underlay it. Could not other day do ?

 

God can act when He wants to; but this rest was typified, exhibited, implemented on the day in which its interstices were provided, its basis was created and its Lord, the Lord of the Sabbath, saw fit to exhibit it, depending on Himself, historically, theologically,  redemptively, psychologically, emotionally and publicly.

 

 

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6) It was not only operationally these things, it was dramatically so. Let us look a little further at the second Sunday worship day.

 

in full accord with what we have already seen, Christ appeared to the waiting disciples again (John 20:24‑31) ... when ? On the NEXT first day of the week, in order to shorten the time ? Not at all. It was, by Jewish counting, the 8th day from the former, the resurrection day. It was the first day of the week, the next Sunday.

 

What then did  Christ do ? He appeared on that day in such a way that there was worship (John 20:28). Indeed, Thomas worshipped Him there as "THE GOD OF ME, AND THE LORD OF ME"! (to translate literally, giving the designation more obviously, a bane to Jehovah's Witnesses and Christdelphians with all the others misled to deny the deity of the Lord of glory, who did what His Father did in the same way, which no man can do without being ... GOD!). It would not be readily conceivable how a man could do what Einstein did in the same way (at the same initial time of his mathematical inventions) without BEING Einstein, but certainly when it comes to the infinite God, there is a categorical impossibility in even drawing measurably close to doing so, unless of course the one in view IS God, the only God there is (Exodus 20 and Ephesians 4:4 are emphatic on this point).

 

It is, indeed, only when you realise what is being said, that the whole glory of the Cross and the salvation of God, of His love and nature becomes clear, and that Christianity is in view. Thomas had to learn this lesson in  the most public way, and in the public meeting on the day chosen for this, the Sunday. There he made his testimony, and then did he awaken on the day, that memorable day,  that day more important that the explosion first in New Mexico, a destructive one, in its first use in war, in Hiroshima, that obliterative one, that day which is the axis of salvation and the entry for man to the presence of God freely (Romans 5:15, 3:23ff.).

 

Thomas expressed his belief to Christ. What then did Christ do in return, in response ? He then made this testimony of Thomas a criterion of ALL faith, so declaring by divine fiat, this fact of salvation. Thus the first day of the week not only exhibited the RISEN CHRIST, and impelled the FIRST WORSHIP OF HIM AS SUCH, but to Thomas also, then, He appeared on the first day of the week, as He did to the others, declaring explicitly and formally a great fact, reflecting a chief criterion of the Christian faith.

 

On this day, instituting this test and truth as a crux, Christ declared: "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed" - John 20:29. Indeed, this He enunciated AFTER, on this self-same day, providing PHYSICAL PROOF of His resurrected reality, this same Jesus, as Peter designated it in applying the prediction of David in Psalm 16, "he foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, nor did His flesh see corruption" - Acts 2:31. It was concerning the BODY WHICH DID NOT ROT which the resurrection occurred. It is not some illustration: it is a categorical presentation of the crucified Christ, one doomed to death for man, whom death could not hold, erupting victorious and triumphant, intransigeant and indomitable from the grave, and appearing on the day which showed the way for all time to come, for rest, on HIS OWN DAY.

 

It was also in HIS OWN WAY, which, since He is the eternal word of God (Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 45, Zechariah 3:9 with Isaiah 43:10-11, 53, 48:16), is the WAY OF GOD. To disjoin what He has joined; to sever what He has put together, to ignore what He has performed, to resist the crux of eternity for man, in its objective signification on the day which PROVIDED the rest is worse than restless. It is to de-objectify the core of the Gospel. Let us then rest when rest came, and do so one day in seven, as we were created in the format chosen by God for both our instruction and our restoration.

             

Thomas missed*3 the congregation on the FIRST great rest day, on the FIRST day of the week (Sunday), and he gained deliverance on the second great rest day: the second FIRST day of the week (i.e. the following Sunday). Then he became an example and his word a focus for the faith for all time from then. Let us not evacuate these hallowed premises, more than symbolical, but not less.

 

 

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7)
 

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Thus it was on the first day of the week that

      this new labour of God was completed

      this fundamental labour

      this soul‑freeing labour

      this labour that our hope and faith might be in God,

      this labour that produced rest for the disciples  - and Thomas -

      was completed: that Christ arose to be worshipped.

 

 

THIS  is the day of rest for God and man. To think less is to elevate man to demean God, to derogate Christ as if not having equal honour with the Father,

 

as if His sacrificial death were sublime but not categorically divine in our own format, (John 5:19‑23),

 

as if it were not comparable to creation and more personal and marvellous yet,

 

as if it were not necessary for the continuation of creation, that work which alone could and did produce rest.

 

It would malign His crucial and epochal work ... physically and theologically, both personally and spiritually, in the resurrection; degrade Him who said, "Before Abraham was, I am"; as if God created - and ONLY GOD is the Creator (Isaiah 44:24, 45:18, Colossians 1:15ff.), yet Christ who with His Father statedly created the universe (cf. John 1:3), being Lord over anything which could be called 'created', were a mere christ of some sort, who got himself involved in some way in salvation. Again ONLY GOD is the saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11), and not only is Christ the Saviour, but this is HIS VERY NAME (Isaiah 52-53), and the ONLY NAME for the purpose (Acts 4:11-12).

 

Without Him, says John's Gospel,   no created thing did appear, just as He, NOT creating Himself before He was there,  is eternal, Creator with the Father of all things. GOD created BY HIMSELF as He says, and HE SAVED AS HIMSELF as He says, and it is simply not possible to divorce these two works in commemorating rest, either in terms of WHEN HE DID IT, showing by the resurrection that justification is authentic, since its basis is likewise (Romans 4:25ff.), without invading the word of God and its witness, with simple dismissal.

 

This is the work of God on the body He assumed, His great and strange  work of which Isaiah spoke, in terms of His power, when also declaring the coming of the Messiah as the great foundation stone (Isaiah 28:21, 28:16 cf. Isaiah 26:19, Psalm 16). This it is, which being finished, is now of necessity, in truth and in love, in the dismissal of death and the glorification of life, God's life, eternal life, the basis for all commemoration of rest: for without what it signalises, there is no life, only ruin and damnation, and because of it, there is only rest and restoration. Here lies the perpetual access to the divine power of God for His divine purposes in the hearts and lives of Christians, for we rest in Him, who has all power and on this day, SHOWED IT, not in some abstract way, but in terms of our very bodies which HE CREATED, and how they may now find rest! (cf. Ephesians 1:19‑20).

 

 

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8) This they found; this we find; this the early disciples showed in word and deed.

Not only did Christ commence divine dealings with His own essential, small band of apostles,
on the reality of the bodily resurrection on a Sunday that GAVE rest, but He completed this
decisive impact on the SUNDAY that AGAIN gave rest, the worship day of commemoration and
action.

This was the first opportunity for verification following that FIRST Sunday, Lord's day, when
Thomas challenged the physical fact, after missing the meeting in which he could readily have done

        so at the first. THAT of course is a standing rebuke to the concept of missing church when  
       downcast, which can be an apt recipe for having MORE grounds for sorrow. Here again the 
       FIRST DAY, the LORD's OWN DAY, teaches many lessons in its very nature, for on it the power
       of God to restore the created image, was displayed, so providing rest, inducing worship and giving
       ground for lessons in life.

 

Thomas stood ready to verify, and Christ came to suffer it, scarcely a work of dignity, but one of display of deity in humility: on that second Sunday which was the FIRST IDENTICAL day of the week,  to show what Thomas stood ready to verify. It was as it were  the next LAB. day for the Class!

 

Not only were there grounds for it to happen on that day; happen it did. When it HAPPENED fresh from the power of the Creator, as if we were seeing the very spreading of the spirals and panoply of the heavens and the stretching out of the earth with its subtle and magnificent display of divine wisdom and intelligence, imagination and wonder, the world could never again be the same. Small wonder the calendar sought to provide a testimony to it. Much more must the day do so, incorporating the provision of rest in the attestation of its ground for ever in this world, as long as it shall last.

 

Indeed, not merely this, but others stood ready so to rejoice in this discovery and declaration, duly and fitly assembled, and to follow in THAT day, the worship of Him who declared to Thomas, YOU have seen and believed; BLESSED are they who have not seen but yet believe! Not only did they stand ready then, but for all time till He comes, the eternal and only Saviour for all or any creation, as many as shall come (Colossians 1:19ff., Ephesians 1:10), they are to stand ready to worship on this day which HE instituted, USED, DEPLOYED, ENTRAINED and WITNESSED both in word and deed, in example and in action, pastoral and cardinal, practical and doctrinal.

 

What then ?  THIS was the day which was that of the rest‑producing resurrection when HE who was raised came with peace, that prelude to and necessity of rest; the day of worship of Him thus available for it, in the bodily format in which He came, magnificently renewed; the day of demonstration to the doubter. It was moreover the day of declaration of the PRINCIPLE of faith which the doubter evoked from the Master, for ALL who would so believe as Thomas now did, and on this day there was healing ... of the mind of the troubled Thomas. On this day, Christ by divine power invested the congregation, blessing and delivering, teaching principle and performing practice, with power.

 

Not unexpectedly, therefore, in 1 Corinthians 16:2, we find that Paul says this:

 

on the first day of EVERY week, let each one of you put aside and

save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

 

Again, in Acts 20:7:

 

On the first day 'of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them.

 

Now Paul talked ... to such extent and effect that a certain young man fell asleep AND off a window sill! It was no casual chat!

 

Here is the notation of what happened in system, as to collection, and in an extensive prepared worship service. It is stated in a natural, normal way, not as an exception, any more than were the first great meetings with Christ. It is indicated in a systematic way, just as also was there system there, at the first. Indeed at the first, it happened in a NECESSARY way, excluding worship before and requiring it THEN. Then too it was seen in an EXPERIMENTAL way ... and worship there was REQUISITE as Christ came to them, for them to honour the Lord.

 

Special days one may construe for personal thanksgiving before the Lord, on an individual basis. THIS DAY is THE LORD'S DAY, which as Lord of the Sabbath, He made His own, and makes OUR DAY OF REST. WHAT then, HE as Sabbath's Lord cannot deploy it to recognise what HE DID for rest, without which there would and could be no rest ? HE is some junior spiritual office clerk, then, not God Almighty to whom the people must give heed or be cut off, greater than Moses (Deuteronomy 18, Hebrews 3, as the Son is greater than the servant, as it is written!

 

Thus He disposed it, so it is, so it must be, so it has been. It is not for us to dispossess Him, whom the Jews first dispossessed by Roman means, of His body. Enough is enough!

 

THIS is our day of rest as creatures of Christ, new creations justified by His resurrection, as Paul has it, able to rest (in terms of day, both symbolic signal of rest and substantive memorial of what it cost Him so to engrave it with His own suffering and triumph) not at all till then, unable to avoid rest, since then! Indeed, what to us is a day symbol, was a day celestial: it happened then!

 

THIS is the day THE LORD has made, commemorating His works -
works now extended that we might be amended.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it, showing in this way

the creation of this rest to be altogether and only in the magnificent labours of Christ,

through Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath,

whose mighty work is commemorated in a New Covenant in a new day,

priceless in what it exhibits to us, immeasurable in the gift it,

consummated in history, and  secured in the heart.

 

 

 

 

ENDNOTES

*1

 

 

                Extension ... ON REST

 

 

For some, a further and more intimate look at Colossians 2 re rest way seem helpful ‑it is not really necessary, but it may be expedient, and for those this Endnote is further supplied.

 

One might first refer to that great OLD TESTAMENT  passage of Isaiah 26: 3:

 

"YOU WILL KEEP HIM IN PERFECT PEACE WHOSE MIND IS STAYED ON YOU: BECAUSE HE TRUSTS IN YOU."

 

Forsaking the clear teaching of the word of God on spiritual rest and the day of rest yields

THE
SUNDAY TRAGEDY:

DEFIANCE OF THE DIVINE

IN TERMS OF LIBERATION FROM THE WORD OF GOD,

AND CONFUSION OF THE REST ALWAYS PRESCRIBED - WITH THIS DAY!

 

THE REST SELECTION, BOTH SOVEREIGN AND SUBSTANTIAL

 

COLOSSIANS 2:16 advises you not to let people judge you concerning sabbaths. This can be a perilous practice, an involvement beyond wisdom! Some say, You way not swim, or walk or whatever it may be. But to me, the issue is clear, IS IT or IS IT NOT in conformity with the SPIRIT of the day of REST (which 'sabbath' means) to do this or that ? Does it cohere with, is it in the spirit of  REST IN THE LORD, of HONOURING THE LORD, DEEMING HIS SPECIAL DAY A DELIGHT, or is it not ? Does it conform to the spiritual principles of rest declared from the unchanging God, or does it not - and Isaiah 58:13-14 gives an eminently spiritual test.

 

THAT is how each issue for the Sunday is to be considered: not by YOU or by me, as if we were some sort of criterion, but by the word of God, in this as in all things, honestly applied and with integrity followed. Obviously, resting from your labours in order to rest in the Lord and be arrested for His purposes without the conflict of interests which duty might otherwise command, has from the first been fundamental. Doing it graciously, with love, not self-production of merit and the rest of the false salvation methodology, is clearly and repeatedly, yes dramatically taught by Christ (cf. Mark 2). Indeed, one of the few references to ANGER is found when some sought to trap Him because He, finding one in need, met that need, unplanned in procedure but practical in outcome (Mark 3:5), On this same occasion, this attitude of harsh conformity, not loving understanding with a clean spirit and a pure heart, grieved Him.

 

As to that, by THE AUTHOR OF THE WORD OF THE LORD, the Father whose it is, with whom intimately Christ His only begotten Son always worked (John 8:29, 5:19ff., 12:48-50), there is a clear message. It is for the whole establishment, if you like, of formalities and ceremonies: a superior attitude in mere outward form is inadequate. It must be shown in an inward light which uses the commandment in its own texture of grace and goodness, both for one and for all.

 

Indeed, with the FULFILMENT in Christ (Matthew 5:17ff. is just as emphatic that there IS fulfilment as that there MUST be no slackening in regard to the word of God which is never shunted), there is a removal of the future references of the symbols.

 

ALL THAT was a 'shadow'; but the REST ITSELF was no shadow. Indeed, if you look at what Paul is saying, here in Colossians 2, instead of considering some substitute in philosophy which gazes at Paul but then does what it pleases: PAUL says of the commandments on sabbaths in view, that these 'are a shadow of things TO COME, but the substance is of Christ'. Now the eternal rest is indeed focussed by the variety of sabbaths, of rests and releases, including the jubilee year of deliverance which brings in the eternity of the rest and its utter liberty of donation in Christ,  and so on; but the ONE DAY IN SEVEN DAY OF REST has two special features, yes three.

 

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1) It REFERS SPECIFICALLY to things PAST! Thus in Exodus 20 God tells Moses that man must rest because of... WHAT GOD HIMSELF HAS DONE IN THE PAST! The thing in view was past even then! It was past by thousands of years, even then! It was not at all future. Nothing could be LESS future for man, than his creation, the topic in view here in the commandment.

 

Thus any attempt to sacrifice the day of rest on the altar of the future, by those misreading or even misquoting Paul, is out of the question.

 

 

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2) This day of rest is instituted on a STATED GROUND. It is not only that it relates TO WHAT GOD HIMSELF DID IN THE PAST, rather than to the future category which Paul notes in referring to the varied sabbaths the Jews had, as something in common;

it is ALSO referring to a GROUND for keeping it at all... and
THAT GROUND is in the PAST.

 

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3) Yet this is not all. Not merely is it a thing in the past, not in the future, which seals the irrevocable character of 1 day of rest in 7 for man on earth; nor merely is it a question of a STATED GROUND
for keeping it at all, drawn from the past - from what is EVEN THEN a thing past in the actions of
God. There is this also. The ground is a thing operative in man BECAUSE of its past character.

It is not only past in fact, but past in principle. It is not only something given by God because of
what HE did in the past, as if in some generic manner; it is moreover given by God

BECAUSE THE THING HE DID WAS IN THE PAST in the most practical and relevant of
ways! This is HOW YOU GOT here, and this is how you'll go.

Nor is this all, for there is a substance-pattern relationship of GOD-man, of GOD the MAKER
and man the made; of man having to honour this day BECAUSE GOD HIS MAKER, IN WHOSE
IMAGE MAN IS MADE, did so ... giving man a ground that GOD STATES, not merely implies but articulates, not merely commands but explains, not merely indeed explains but expresses in terms of the whole structure of His own operations: for doing likewise.

 

Now if you could ABOLISH the 10 commandments

(Christ, you recall STATED He did not come to destroy but to fulfil the law, and Paul that he does not destroy but rather establishes the law ‑ Matthew 5 and Romans 3 respectively),

 

on the alleged ground that God is not really moral but merely plays around with moral questions for interest, is not in fact holy but pragmatic, so blaspheming indelibly; and if you could at your say-so REMOVE THE SUBSTANCE, rest one day in seven, and pretend  you were removing only the shadow; and if you could also make the things to come, which Paul mentions, by some magic come to include things past, thereby contradicting the word of God and subtracting as well, acting in the grand rebellious way, as men so often do and have done, and if you chose to do all this in the face of all this,  which God deplores and has deplored on times all but innumerable, with results cumulative as in II Chronicles 36: what then ?

 

It is not a pretty sight. Then ? then -  rather understandably: then you would still have to re‑make man in some other image (so that God's prototype action, that is, statedly resting straight after HIS series of 6 actions), and re-make God's mind in some other way, which would mean He would not then STATE that HE wanted this rest in MAN on ONE DAY IN SEVEN BECAUSE that was how He made man. All in all, you would have a spiritual blood‑bath; and that of course is what they really did at the crucifixion. It is always inclined to be a spiritual (sometimes also a biological) blood‑bath when you manipulate the word of God. (See the contrary course recommended,  in II Corinthians 4: 2!)

To all this, I have only one word of ADVICE: DO'NT. It is an exhortation and a request for your own welfare and for the testimony of Christ, if you are a Christian. In Ezekiel 20 you see how this willingness to give to God the power and rest day which He requests is integumental. It is like being willing, or not, to take your car to the Dealer at the time spans requested in the manufacturer's handbook.

 

REST on the one day in seven, and now on the day which the Church used to commemorate the greatest of all the works God has done for man and in creation: THE RESURRECTION FOLLOWING THE CRUCIFIXION FOR SIN... and that not His own, on the part of Christ. If this does not appeal, why talk about Christians things at all. If it does, then do it! REST from your work, on THE LORD'S DAY...

 

Even in the days of King David, the SPIRITUAL and CONTINUAL rest which is a category of the faith relationship to God, was ardently offered ‑ yes, right in the midst of the days of the law, and hundreds of years before Christ even came, let alone paid for sin, (as Psalm 95 makes exceedingly clear). It always was the manner of life of faith in the Lord, rest being always the counterpart of faith and the place for power;  and its FAILURE ALWAYS WAS A FAULT BEFORE GOD, both in the heart and in the procedure, in spirit and in practice!

 

Would they not rest in His power as they approached Canaan ? No, they would not, despite all His miracles (Numbers 14), and what results came from that. Would they not rest on HIS OWN DAY, as in Ezekiel 20, or even come back to the concept, as in Jeremiah 17, for if they would, said God, He would not bring on the judgment about to come! Could they, would they even then repent, as the threshold of destruction offered itself, like typhoons now even visible off the
coast ? No, they would not. They refused the reality as they refused the means to heighten it.

 

Yes, then as now. Hebrews 4 deals with this perennial matter of resting in quietness and confidence in the ways of the Lord,  with a disciplined spirit on the basis of His covenant. NOW however as THEN, the honouring of a particular day for the Lord, in terms of

 

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1) what He did and

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2) what He said,

remains indeed as always ... an accompaniment of being a created being on this earth, responsive and responsible to God, not wise in your own eyes, but following the pattern from
the first pronounced, in the way to the last, provided.

 

Alas, here as so often (cf. Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2 for others), one finds that practice tends to extremes, whether NOT to rest on a day, NOT to rest on the Lord's day, or to rest but NOT in the spirit of gracious lovingkindness which freely helps, when opportunity arises, in the God of love. It simply needs, avoiding these roarings off as in some youth's sports car, to come back to the word of God, all of it, all the time, in spirit and in truth. Rest therefore in the Lord, and rejoice in His perfect provisions, rest in His power and rejoice in His adequate answers to the prayer of faith, rest on a day in terms of His creation of your life, rest on the Lord's day, in honour of the ground of all rest, and the day on which the LORD of the Sabbath has made it happen!

 

 

 

 

 

2  NOTE on the REST DAY and the REST WAY

 

* Let us take the case of the Christian to whom, after all, these commands related in such a way that understanding is required (as with any commands to any servant). We retain our IMAGE as in our creation (cf. Colossians 3:10) as Paul shows and nature declares. It is NOT as if, because we (Christians) are REDEEMED, we cease to have been CREATED! As SURELY as it is the case that we were created the way we were, SO SURELY, we are to rest one day in seven. That is what the word of GOD declares (Exodus 20:11). While we are in this world, that is how we are commanded to behave. 

 

Concerning the fact as Acts 16 shows, that the offerings were taken on the Sunday, that the first Christian worship service following the resurrection was on a Sunday, and the next one recorded was on a Sunday, and that Thomas' absence on the first one is notable in this, that it was on the NEXT SUNDAY that the next phase of the drama of doubting occurred; and the fact that it would be a sort of holocaust of holiness, to dare to suggest that by far the greatest work of God did not occur in His personal dealings with death, and dealing death to death, by which it was shown to be overcome and sin indeed covered for His people, so that the new day is SUNDAY for rest, see Biblical Blessings Appendix 2, but also in a series on this field, Appendix 1 and    3      .

 

It now the REDEMPTION era, when the long forecast crucifixion and resurrection is past (cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), and no more is 'mere' creation the criterion for a memorial to the work of God, and rest provided for His people. If creation is magnificent, and it is, how much more so is His PERSONAL giving up of His life, and in this life, breaking death, which could not hold Him (Acts 2: 24). THIS is the day of rest relating to the labours of God, for this is the day completing His greatest and most loving labour. NOW, the day of rest is a putting right day, a dying for life and living for the breach of death, day. It is the DAY before which the disciples were far from being at rest, as they waited and waited; and it is the day ON WHICH HE appearing, GAVE peace, and rest by His presence and all that this shown of His completed work. He had DONE IT! Rest and worship followed as day after the night.

 

It is the day specified in the New Testament by example, by record, by administration, and it is the day relayed by divine necessity, lest the cross be made subservient to something else (contrary to Galatians 6:14). To try to continue to relate the day on which REST is apt for man (who must rest one day in seven by creation correlation), to a lesser labour of God is pernicious, and not merely wrong. It is the sort of thing which one might expect to go with 'conditional  salvation' and other derogation of the divine gift to man (Romans 6:23, cf. John 5:24). In the case of Seventh Day Adventism, it is precisely this which has for so long been taught, errors multiplying on an anti-scriptural basis.

 

All such error should be avoided as unworthy of Christ, contrary to the scriptural evidence, example and dimensions of God resting from His labours. Man of course must still rest from his, in the way the mode of creation attests, just as WHEN he rests, is historically commemorative of WHEN he COULD rest, on Christ's resurrection, and when he DID on Christ's appearance on that day! Having his faith then clear on the object of His rest, focussed on Him (Matthew 11:28-30), the Christian may indeed find both the foundation and the function of all rest; and if at any time, his way becomes wayward, or his stresses intemperate, or his actions lacking in depth, then back to the Lord (not the board!) he goes, and labours to enter into his rest (Hebrews 4:4-12), be diligent to do so, not avoiding the issues to be faced, nor voiding the Issuance which is sure to come from the Lord, as you wait upon Him, and thereby renew your strength.

 

On these topics, see Questions and Answers   6 ,  Victory Ch. 7 and Christ, the Wisdom of God and the Power of God, Ch. 2. 

 

In all these things there is a beautiful balance, intimacy and mutuality: the use of the day in humility as a CREATION for the special drawing near to God, and focus extraordinary upon Him; the value of the day for dealing with problems which tend to surface and need attention taking spiritual time above the norm; the choiceness of the day in allowing and indeed fostering fellowship and sharing with the saints, in an atmosphere far removed from the carnality of this world, and seeking to cherish those who seek the Lord, in fellowship and functional growth as His works are done in unison. At all times, prayer and care is to be used to draw near to God; at this time, it is greatly facilitated.

 

 

*3                    ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ ~ ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑

As to 'missing church', Thomas is a standing example of the grief and

needless turmoil which can result; even though the Lord delivered him.

 

 
 

 23 A   GOING TO CHURCH

 

Indeed, as was shown in the case just noted, meeting the Lord is the primary aim, in the context He denotes. He loves His people, and will meet them alone, or together ‑cf. Isaiah 64:5, according to His purpose. Wise is the man who seeks Him at all times, in ways appointed, in ways private as when the Lord appeared to Peter (I Corinthians 15:4) and may appear to any as they abide (John 15:21-23), and even when they rebel, if His mercy should so reach them.

 

But as to this well‑known phrase, Going to Church, if it be translated in the following, what then may be said:

 

Assembling with the congregation of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ

 

 

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who love Him, willingly 'forsake all' for Him, take up their crosses and follow Him; who love one another (John 17:21,13:35),
 

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who 'hold fast the form of sound words', believe in the immediate inspiration of the Scripture from the Holy Spirit (cf. I Corinthians 2:9‑13, I Peter 1:10‑12, II Peter 1:15‑21, Isaiah 8:20 etc.),
 

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who have a bold faith in God (Hebrews 10:19‑24,4:16) through the blood of the everlasting covenant by which they have eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12,15) and draw near by faith;

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who glory in the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14), confess to Him their sins (I John 1:7‑2:2),
 being by faith cleansed on the basis of His work, sacrifice and power;
 

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who believe in His assurance of eternal salvation (John 10:9,27‑28, Romans 8:16,I John 5:13, Romans 5:9‑12),
 

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are zealous of good works but do not at all trust in them for their salvation from sin;
 

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who practise team-work  of God-given specialities (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Romans 12) in love;
 

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who trust in the mercy of God and show mercy, seek peace but are willing to fight for the faith, are steadfast in prayer and zealous to praise God; and look for the personal, visible return of Jesus Christ ...

 

 

If THAT is what is meant, how COULD a Christian FAIL to worship on Sunday in the full, formal meeting as prescribed:

 

"NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING OF YOURSELVES TOGETHER, AS IS THE MANNER OF SOME, BM EXHORTING ONE ANOTHER, AND SO MUCH THE MORE AS YOU SEE THE DAY APPROACHING" (Hebrews 10:25, 1 Thessalonians 1:9‑10, 11 Thessalonians 1:6‑10, Acts 1:7‑10). Is this then unclear ? But behold, it is a privilege.

 

Will team members

NOT join in team exercise;

NOT assemble (Thomas' initial error ‑ ONCE!),  with fellow members,

NOT attend the PREACHING of the word (I Peter 4:11 Timothy 4:2, 11 Timothy 2:15), with joint prayer (Acts.4:24, Ephesians 6:18) ?

 

Heaven forbid. Even a cricket team will NOT ONLY attend practise sessions, but naturally ... come for the MATCH (in their case, on Saturday afternoon ... how would  they belong who would avoid such a focus, or withhold when needed ? If the thing is voluntary, it would be neither natural nor functional.

 

If however a church develop a defect systematically, what then ? Then after due tact and care as way be, such a development must be faced and if need be, challenged, till in any event, it is cleared. Yet let us be practical. Cricket clubs have rules, as well as cricket, and the purpose may even be to preserve cricket and play it! So in a Church, there are rules for the purity of its being and worship, not as poetic devices, but actual realities.

 

If the word of God is AT ALL doubted or forsaken (it is a test, apply it I Thessalonians 5:21, I Timothy 1:19, II Timothy 1:13), or if false associations such as the World Council of Churches occur, then after challenge without cleansing, one must leave such a body (Romans 16:17, Isaiah 8:20, Psalm 12:6,11:3, 1 Timothy 6:3‑5, 11 Cor.6:5‑18 - see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7.) There are no other options relative to a church at that level. We are not our own.

 

Note also Peter's delightful word to that part of the team called 'elders', of which (I Timothy 5:17) the pastor is one. "The elders," says Peter in 1 Peter 5:1‑2, "who are among you I exhort, who am also an elder ... feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight of it, not by constraint but willingly ... neither as lords over God's heritage, but being examples ... "

 

Read this passage! It was the elders Paul spoke to at Miletus, telling them of the prospective (like an avalanche, to change the imagery for the purpose of the calamity) of unsparing wolves, into the very flock itself, exhorting them to "take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers". As to Paul's own example (I Cor.11:1), he speaks to the Thessalonian church: "We were gentle among you, even as a nurse..."; but as to wolves, the word is to Titus 3:10. You DO NOT leave wolves among the children.

 

The mode is love; the end is purity and growth in Christ ‑ love, faith, hope; the word to elders: BE FAITHFUL!

 

On the topic of a church leaving the biblical basis, see above No. 19 A, which also provides further reference.

 

On gifts from the Lord, for service in the church, see No. 27 below. Romans 12, Ephesians 4 and I Corinthians 12-13 make it clear that the church is like a body, with Christ the head, who empowers, enables and blesses, giving such functional capacities to members as are needed, from the Head, for His purposes and grace, His love and Gospel, His worship and service. These He gives by His own sovereign will (I Cor. 12:11), and not by some sort of arm-twisting, and the gifts to be desired function in the realm of the understanding. Love transcends all, and without it, no gift is authenticated.

 

 

23 B   G I V I N G                        

 

. . . with special reference to 'the first day of the week'.

 

WHAT shall be given to the Lord ? In the Old Testament, it is notable that Abraham 'gave a tenth part of all', as we read in Hebrews 7:6. That pre‑dated Moses, and 'the Law' by hundreds of years. In the law of Moses, there are numerous references to this 'tithing' principle (e.g. Deuteronomy 126, 14:22); and you see it reflected in Nehemiah 10:37 and so on. These things were to forward the work of the Lord.

 

If you live in an invisible but potent kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, for other motives, objectives, on another way and in a different life from those who wilfully refuse the life of God where it may be found (Isaiah 55:6), then is it at all surprising that you seek to forward it by the means the Lord supplies ? (cf.  Matthew 4:17, 5:1-10, 13:52,  Luke 11:20 and see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 2).

 

In Malachi, the matter is given great force. Many people respect this presentation in a special way, because of its fervour and its relationship to the context. Here God has been chastening, verbally, challenging half-heartedness... mere formalism and downright hypocrisy in the people, on many topics. As far as this one is concerned, He associates it with the coming King and His 'refiner's fire' ( Malachi 3:2), in that the point of tithing is made immediately after it.

 

He chides them for 'robbing God'. He then makes the famous declaration: "Bring all your tithes into the storehouse, that there way be food in my house, and test me now herewith, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." That is in Malachi 3:10.

 

It is certainly difficult to see how tithing is removed by the removal of the law of Moses on sacrifices and ceremonies, WHERE Jesus has fulfilled these ( Hebrews Chapters 9 and 10); for not only did Abraham precede Moses and the system of law that related, while tithing, but in what way is Christ a 'fulfilment' of tithing ? This question is no easy one to answer.

 

It might be said that HE gave all; but in what way does that suggest that those whorn He ransomed at such cost should give less ? Shall‑we 'progress ' by opposites? Therefore ‑ in view of these two considerations, and seeing the call to fervour and the blessing, many do in fact tithe in the New Testament era. To many, it is not even a question. They would not find themselves easy in heart or conscience otherwise. Many also are the accounts of the way in which God is faithful to his people, who do this. Your pastor is one of these; the Lord certainly fulfilled what He has said here. Tithing of course may be in goods, services or money, other things equal. It is the impartation of monetarily measurable value.

 

This is the recommended course therefore, the tithing of income or correlative value to that amount,  that is actually available to YOU. No one FULFILS your giving; YOU do it!

 

Nevertheless, it needs to be said that in I Corinthians 16:2, Paul says this: "On the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, so that there should be‑ no gatherings when I come."

 

This, by itself and without the entire scriptural context some of which is noted above,  could be interpreted to mean that giving is purely open, that you give to the work of the Lord what you deem fitting, in view of your relative prosperity.

 

However, in the light of the whole word of God, New and Old Testament, of all that God has said, it would seem far better to be construed to mean that tithes are normal and additional offerings may occur when prosperity is strong.

 

In any case, it is especially difficult to see how those who love the Lord should feel that it would be good to offer LESS than Abraham, or the Jews of the Old Testament era; and the immense emphasis on wholeheartedness in Malachi which makes this a specifically spiritual issue, could not be 'spiritualised' into contradiction.  Like the Biblical command on a day of rest, it stands as when it was first written.

 

The other element is this. The 'widow's mite' (Luke 21:3) is far superior to any offering, however large, WHEN it is a costly sacrifice made out of love. It is the spirit and the reality of what is being done which is to be paramount. GOD IS a Spirit and discerns the heart.  Note the commendation was that she had given her all ‑ she had not scrapped the main call!

 

As we all know, or should do, a willing heart is more valuable than any money; no money even touches the core of things which is not offered in a right spirit( I Cor.13), and love must be the mainspring ‑ the love of God ‑ for any giving, whether it be of heart, or life, or deeds. As noted, giving can be in kind as well as in money; and the provision of what has value, though it be not money, is equally gift, as you see in the offerings of cattle in. certain Old Testament cases. Let every one be persuaded in his own mind - in this thing, as in many things (Romans 14:5); but know that the Lord knows the heart, and ensure that THIS is straight with the Lord.

 

What does He say: "To the pure, You will show Himself pure" (Psalm 18:26, bold aded). Giving is a private matter; but it is not private from the Lord. "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Hebrew 4:13).

 

Persuasions based on the word of God, and true to all of it: these are blessed. it is God who knows what is given in heart or service: seek Him and fly like an arrow to His will, for HE is no mere principle, or preference, not projection, no personality idiosyncrasy, such as are the life-motifs of many. He is the living God, founder of the universe, judge of all, redeemer of His people and lover of mankind, in kindness and compassion uttering all that is needed, even the truth, giving what is needed, even pardon and power, bringing what is needed, even gifts for the rebellious and new hearts to a despoiled creation.