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The 'preserved', a distinct category of the people in the words of the prophet, the elect of the people, THEY would come to Him, though the nation... had other plans! So did God have for them, in view of their rejection. Psalm 2, in speaking of the Messiah, indicates some of the fervour, force and furore, with which they would reject Christ. The divine reflection on this perennial bent of so many (not unduplicated amid the Gentiles), is seen in Isaiah 42:19, amid another Messianic presentation, focussed in that chapter: "Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as the messenger whom I send!" (Cf. Isaiah 30:8.)
*2 As if to focus the folly more profoundly, they would - were they liars making a specialty of 'CITING FACTS', insanely but successfully have decided to make Jerusalem (the very site and populous centre of so many works of Christ, the field both of WITNESSES of the past and enemies of the present) - the centre of commencement of the Church!
*3 Irenaeus deals interestingly with Valentinus, active in his period of history. It is worth an excursion into Irenaeus' work, Against Heretics (XI. 8, pp. 428-429, Ante-Nicene Fathers), T0 OBSERVE THE ATMOSPHERE IN WHICH - SO FAST - THE NEW TESTAMENT COMPLETED THE TOTAL BIBLICAL CANON COMMENCED BY THE PROPHETS. The cohesion of this is shown so fascinatingly in II Peter 3:16, Galatians 1:17; with 2:1-10 relative to Paul and the other apostles: in Acts 2 with regard to Peter and the prophets; in Acts 13 with regard to Paul and the prophets, as in Romans 16:25; in Luke 24 with regard to Jesus Christ and the prophets, as in Matthew 5:17-19.
Indeed, it is qualitatively shown in Paul's writings relative to the Gospels; in the harmony in worship and witness between his writings and the gospel writing; as in the ardent accord with all scriptures which was manifest in references such as those of Clement and Ignatius. These references pre-suppose a corpus or cadre of apostles in concert, and precise prophetic preludes to the incarnate life of the sent Saviour, seen to be emanating from the power of the Spirit of God - from them, and before them (cf. Hebrews 2:3-4).
N.B. Stonehouse in the The Infallible Word, p. 124, states of Ignatius:
The apostles are accorded a place of unique authority and privilege as proclaimers of the gospel; their ordinances possess the same authority as the Lord (Phil.5:1,2; Magnesians 13:1; Trallians 12:2; Ephesians 11:2). Ignatius himself speaks with a high measure of authority to the churches to which he writes, but for all of his claims he is far from associating himself with the apostles.On the one hand, Irenaeus, in his adroit and scholarly argumentation and his intimate knowledge of the preceding identities and authorities, merely confirms with expository intensity and abundant detail, what the writings of such as Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Clement of Rome and the listings of the Muratorian Canon attest positively. Indeed, Irenaeus' reference to Matthew's Gospel as first (op. cit. 111,11,i) agrees well in turn, with the now notable Magdalen College, Oxford, Matthew papyrus, claimed by Dr C. Thiede, from handwriting style, to be from mid-first century (The Australian, 26/12/94).
On the other, the failure of authenticated documentation to attest any established apostolic work beyond the famous four gospels and constantly corroborated works; the conspicuous failure of the spurious to penetrate the sanctum of historic authorship, despite philosophic submissions of late reference seeking 'success', even making appeals to scripture while making efforts to twist or subvert it: this leaves the negative side as decisive as the positive testimony to the authentic.
Speaking of the so-called 'Gospel of Truth', a gnostic effort of the Valentinians, Irenaeus writes revealingly of "their comparatively recent writing":
... it agrees in nothing with the Gospels of the Apostles, so that they have really no Gospel which is not full of blasphemy. For if what they have published is the Gospel of truth, and yet is totally unlike those which have been handed down to us from the apostles, any who please may learn, as is shown from the Scriptures themselves, THAT THAT WHICH HAS BEEN HANDED DOWN FROM THE APOSTLES CAN NO LONGER be reckoned the Gospel of truth. But that these Gospels alone are true and reliable, and admit neither an increase nor diminution of the aforesaid number, I have proved... (Capitals added.)The categories of old and new, apostolic and non-apostolic are clear, distinct and contra-distinct; and the gnostic productions ? FOR CHRISTIANITY FOUNDED on Jesus Christ, with the testimonies in scriptures of the apostles and prophets and Paul expressly stated: These are simply irrelevant. They are also - to catch Irenaeus' thrust - recklessly boastful. What are they then, these innovators ? Irenaeus deems them: "Wretched men indeed ! who wish to be pseudo-prophets, forsooth, but who set aside the gift of prophecy..."
It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are ... it is fitting that she ( the Church ) should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh ... He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit.Without doubt, this has the very ring of the treatment of Paul, who dealing with adventitious intruders from without the scene and dealings wrought by those "preaching another Jesus whom we have not preached", those involved with "a different spirit which you have not received," or a "different gospel which you have not accepted", calls them: "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ," (II Cor. 11:4,13).
Indeed, F.F. Bruce, writing in the New Bible Dictionary, p. 487 notes :
The Valentinian Gospel of Truth (c. A.D. 140-150)... among the Gnostic writings from Chenoboskion ... was not intended to supplement or supersede the canonical four, whose authority it presupposes; it is rather a series of meditations.Such "meditations" have some of the resemblance, we find as we read Irenaeus, of a gilded frosting on an apple, an arsenic additive to an aspro, and all the ingenuousness of that delusive dreaming which knows no way to make its own thought able, but that of parasitic leeching on the works and words of another, whilst pursuing a philosophy neither harmonious, nor attested nor historically related to its butt.
Nevertheless, this 'presupposition' of gospel authority and basis in the canon as source book for the extravaganzas, provides the testimony of the cohesion and character, the availability and recognition distinctively of that which had been evidenced by deeds and words, in the crucible of history and in the test-tube of trial. Irenaeus' protest merely calibrates the intensity of the response to this incredible seeming effrontery of the mountebank. The thistle is putting its prickle into an oak; it is found unfitting, unseemly and rather ludicrous by Irenaeus, attesting still further the readily traceable status quo.
God did not so
love the world that He gave His only begotten philosophy
that whoever believed in it (if he could find it),
should not be able to distinguish it from the pathetic turmoil of unevidenced thought,
illogical hypotheses and torrential verbiage common to philosophers.
be had with no effort at all!
Mars Hill sufficed for that; and these are the people with their unknown God,
whom Paul confronted with the known God, the known gospel and the known Jesus Christ,
in utter contradistinction (Acts 17:19 ff., 1 Corinthians 2:9-13, cf. II Peter 1:16 ff.).
Similarly, he warned the Galatians (1:6-9, 3:1-13) of the utter immutability of the gospel,
instructing the Corinthians from inspiration such as Clement of Rome attributes to him.
Such was the early claim, the early name,
and such was the later retrospective attestation in an ensemble of subtly harmonious evidence which is susceptible to no division.
This emphasis of Irenaeus, and this implication from Valentinus accord with the consistent and overwhelming detailed items of early references made by so many 'early Church fathers' (as for example, in part reviewed by Westcott and cited by Laird Harris in his Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible, Ch. 9). Frequently, these witnesses seem to bathe in apostolic authority, as does Clement of Rome who refers in that same first century in which Christ was on earth, within a few decades of Him, to Paul writing with "true inspiration"; or Ignatius, who refers to apostolic authority as towering categorically above his own, because of the specialised authority vested in them as apostles.
Indeed, the expostulatory denunciation of Irenaeus is instructive. Referring to men like Valentinus, he deems them "altogether reckless", while they put forth their own compositions... having "arrived at such a pitch of audacity as to entitle their comparatively recent writing, 'the Gospel of Truth', though it agrees in nothing with the Gospels of the Apostles."
The stark evidential reality is the historical fact of the canonical basis, its apostolic authority, penetrating power to evoke recognition, and the contradistinct character of the writings engendered: the gospels themselves so fixed as to be the subject of figurative parallels, and the scriptures so clear as to be objects on which to proceed in investigating contentions and resolving them.
Wilbur N. Pickering also discourses pointedly to our interest in reviewing the evidence of the "early Fathers" in his work, The Identity of the New Testament Text, Ch. 5:
Not only did the apostles themselves declare the New Testament writings to be Scripture, which would elicit reverence and care in their treatment, they expressly warned the believers to be on their guard against false teachers. ( See Acts 20:27-32, Galatians 1:6-12, II Timothy 3:1-4:4, II Peter 1-2, I John 2:18-19, II John 7-11, Jude 3-4,16-19. )God always has the case covered in his word, whether morally or prophetically, and this is merely one of the innumerable seeming verifications which arise when truth itself is on the scene.
Noting the 'deep sense of solidarity binding (the churches) together', as it appeared, Pickering points out that the wide circulation of news and attitudes should have made the life of a heretic... not an easy one. Illustrating the 'strong feeling about the integrity of the Scriptures,' he refers to Polycarp (7:1 of the Epistle to the Philippians):
Whoever perverts the sayings of the Lord... that one is the firstborn of Satan...Close was the concern - so well enshrined in the Jews for their own scriptures - which showed for the most sacred records, and flowed to the most sacred life on which they all depended; and as Pickering phrases it (op. cit. p.102), Irenaeus in his work, Against Heretics (IV, 32:8) had made clear that "the doctrine of the apostles had been handed down by the succession of bishops, being guarded and preserved, without any forging of the Scriptures, allowing neither addition nor curtailment, involving public reading without falsification."
This corpus of apostolic or apostolically sanctioned, approved or even intimated works, set forth IN THEIR AURA AND AUTHORITY AND IN THEIR TIME WITH IRREVOCABLE AUTHENTICITY, AND A MULTIPLY CONFIRMED ORIGIN, facilitated this result: that despite grave times and the transport limitations, no imitations, no philosophisings, no adventitious performances beyond the ranks came to be accepted as non-spurious (pseudepigraphic efforts were often a lurk, a 'good try'). They simply lacked the historical antecedents that might allow them to broach the guard, like a well-groomed Soviet spy. It would be rather like trying to prove to a family that it had more members than it thought, even as it lived under its one roof.
Hence the frank and undisguised outrage of Irenaeus at Marcion's liberties with the scriptures (Against Heretics XXVII), carried on in the interests of his mere philosophisings, recklessly tilting at the inspired harmonies of the historical products, formed by the Spirit of God, in Christ's name, through the apostles of that same Jesus, and their intimate associates. The impact would seem - and appears indeed to have seemed - so outrageous as to resemble, for the careful British, nude dancing during a match, perpetrated on the pitch at Lord's.
What the 'pitch' was, and what the rules were: these things were, to follow the figure, so distinct as to allow a dissecting analysis of the whole operation by Irenaeus, in the light of the authentic activities. The Lord, the apostles, the transmission, the number of the gospels, the authority and inspiration: all these things were not only known and clear, but indelible in their impact, decisive in their power and intractable in their reality. Intrusions of gnosticism were an evidence of ignorance, outrage and spiritual folly: they simply did not belong to the family affair, the affair of that great family, the Christian Church, resting on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Jesus Christ the chief corner stone. (Thus Paul put it from the first in Ephesians 2:20, freely mixing apostle and prophet, in accord with the place he, with Christ - Matthew 5:17-19, gave to the latter cf. Romans 16:25-26.)
Indeed Irenaeus' extensive argumentation from scripture against the whole structure of ungraftable thought, which the heretics sought to impose, exhibits not merely a norm and a form, but a ground and a passion for what the scriptures assert. To this, the entire thrust of the heretics was merely an opposition from outside, masquerading as relevant: an alien attempt at infiltration which was as ridiculous as it was blasphemous and presumptuous. The energy and fire of Irenaeus is expressed in precise scriptural argumentation which reminds one of Psalm 149:5-9:
Let the saints be joyful in glory;
Let them sing aloud on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
To execute vengeance on the nations
And punishments on the peoples;
To bind their kings with chains,
And their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute on them the judgment written-
This honour have all His saints.*4 F.F. Bruce, op.cit. pp. 98-99, refers to the discovery of gnostic writings with originals dated around the mid-second century (the materials themselves being put around the third or fourth century). These are the Nag Hammadi texts from the west bank of the Nile.
Of these, one is the 'Gospel of Thomas', though it is not strictly a gospel at all, but a collection of structured sayings evidenced as relatively late and unattested where 'novel'.
As Professor E. M. Blaiklock puts it in his work, The Archeology of the New Testament (p. 61): -
Some of the sayings reproduce those already known... natural enough if one remembers that the collection is dated about A.D. 140, almost half a century after the Canon of the New Testament had closed.In the New Testament we have nothing ever intruded from beyond: the flow came from the first, from the apostles and their correlative co-workers, thereby keeping the central focus on the historical Person and reality of Jesus Christ. (Cf. Acts 1:22, John 14:26, Ephesians 2:20.) In the last of these scriptures, note the phrase "having been built" followed by the words "on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone." The tense is past as to foundation; and indeed, as Paul writes in I Corinthians 3:11: "Other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." This is the constant and continuous testimony of the apostles, ardently reflected in the early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Polycarp and Ignatius.
The core of the corpus of writings, like an incandescent radioactive electricity production plant, stands out with its cohesion, energy, vitality and manifest presence, in a way that may be denied only if rationality itself be forsaken, in oblivion of the facts.
Fascinatingly, this may equally evidentially be affirmed of the corpus of the apostles themselves, in their united, conspicuous and wholly recognised labours. (Compare within the scripture itself, Acts 4:23 ff., 15:4, 1 Corinthians 4:9, 15:9, Galatians 1:19, Ephesians 4:11, Revelation 18:20...in the last, the apostles being linked with the prophets, whom Jesus linked with 'the law' in the phrase, 'the law and the prophets' in Matthew 5:17.)
*5 The Biblical Canon of incorporated inspired writings, was borne on the wings of apostolic writing or that of those closely associated with the apostles, resting in turn on the Rock who preceded them and authorised them (John 14:26), who thus was predicted to be present with them, as to memory and teaching with respect to "all things". Here lay a categorical privilege and power to His disciples linked to historical criteria in their election of a replacement for Judas, as apostle (Acts 1). This authoritative canon was presented in terms of such inspiration as to preserve the testimony of God in and through Christ: a swift propositional present to the Church. Various matters of authorship were to be resolved in some margins, and the result was not divisive but clear and sure.
If God bothered to send and willed to sacrifice His own Son, it is not at all surprising that He planned wisely to secure the authentic record. How otherwise should men relate in subsequent generations to the Christ! How otherwise would they be able to respond to these fateful words by which, as it were, God portrayed His face (cf. John 15:6-7, 14:23, 21, 12:47-50, Matthew 4:4, 7:24-29) ? God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and does not willingly afflict the children of men (Lamentations 3:33). His word does not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:10-12) nor does it disappear (Psalm 12:6-8, 111:7-10, Isaiah 59:21, 34:15).
Once it is reasoned TO the scripture, then we must see what IT says. In this respect we find that history reflects it, yes here again. The teaching on inspiration and preservation of scripture accords with its availability and purity in astonishing scope and impact, and amazing multitudes of evidences.
Our present point however is this: if the question arise - Where is the scripture ? the answer is clear. It came from the apostolic core and the apostolic aura (apostles and close associates) in terms of promises so that it was first used and acknowledged in the church (cf. *3 supra), with all the assurance and the grace which people like Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Papias and Polycarp attest, finally being discriminated to the last detail and in agreement declared.
Such is the New Testament. What of the Old ?
Just as the Greek New Testament is the original available and the authentic required, as most immediate, so the Hebrew (and Aramaic where this is indubitably used) Old Testament is abundantly clear as to its extent.
One may say: Clear! Do not the Protestants and the Romanists differ on the extent of the Old Testament (though agreeing on that of the New) ? Indeed they do. Clarity however does not depend on divergence, but on facts. Not for nothing did the famed ancient scholar Jerome make it clear that the Old Testament is that defined by the Jewish people who passed it on, from the long authority given to them for this purpose. This accords with Paul - Romans 9:4): ... "the Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises..."
and again in Romans 3:1-4:
What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe ? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness GodThe New Testament, clearly accepted objectively as to extent, from the first received because of its authors and the aura and authority of the apostolate, and with agreement later precisely defined: this itself is clear beyond rational dispute. On the criteria of the OLD TESTAMENT'S acceptance as to its extent: the JEWS were the custodians. It was to them they were given, these writings.
without effect ? Certainly not.
They are to be received from the recipients, as from the Donor. THAT was their covenanted basis and they used it; and if they rebelled, then still it remains. No word of reproof from Christ came to denounce their ways concerning the extent of what scripture itself was. Nothing outside these 39 books is quoted in the New Testament as Old Testament Scripture. No question exists as to which the Jews deem to be the scriptures passed on to them. It is not within the power of man to go outside the Jewish part (i. e. to accept or except on their behalf their scripture). Indeed, there in their own scriptures, what they were to do with the Saviour was clearly demarcated in most negative terms!
God has it all in control, and it all works to perfection: there is no ambiguity. The batsmen of the second innings (Gentiles) take over with the implements left from the first. They do not invent what they did not receive. As Paul states; their unbelief does not make the promises of God without effect, and it was to them that the oracles of God were committed.The rules have not changed, even if they have been broken!
As E.J. Young puts it (The Encyclopedia of Christianity, vol.2, p. 343):
What is of interest is that Jesus Christ placed the approval of His infallible imprimatur upon the canon of the OT as we now possess it (Luke 24:25-27,44-45). And on this point there was no quarrel between Him and the Pharisees. It is true that He did condemn the Pharisees because they in effect made void the Word of God by means of addition of their own human tradition. As to what that Word of God was, however, there was no disagreement between our Lord and the Pharisees.As E.J. Young notes, the Talmud incorporates reference to the meeting around 100 A.D. at Jamnia, and this dealt with certain questions, to resolve them on the law; but there was nothing more than a verification on certain questions, not a creative or authority-creating promulgation. The authority of the word of God is not derived from councils, but was inspected by men - in councils or not - should challenge arise. The word of God itself was determinative, not determined, recognised not ratified:
The prophets very boldly declared that the evils which came and would come upon the nation were due to infringements both of the Law and of their own words. They had not the slightest hesitation in proclaiming that their own messages were the Word of God and that dire suffering and punishment would come if their own words were not heeded. (Young op.cit. pp. 342-343).This, as has been indicated, applied whether the whole nation or official prophets, whether priests or princes disagreed: God spoke and no institution rated against His voice (Jeremiah 5:31; 23; Isaiah 30:8 ff., 34:16, Matthew 5:17-19). The office of true prophet of the Lord was commanded, the man as it was commandeered (Amos 7:14 ff., Isaiah 44:26, though with submission, Isaiah 6), and even religious ceremonies could be condemned because of unbelief (Isaiah 1).
Just, therefore, as prophets could not be created by man, just as their writings were not subject to discovery-cum-authorisation by councils, but councils were subject to their commands: so there was merely a matter of recognition and compilation, as a company, of such writings. As such Jesus Christ and the New Testament referred to them (e. g. Luke 24:27, Matthew 5:17), as such they existed, as such they both were and had to be contradistinct, for they were from God, recognised as such and wholly unauthorisable, uninventable, merely capable of collection. The custodians appointed by God were in no lack of clarity about their extent, and we Gentiles have no part in the assessment whatever.
It is to the Jews, then, and not to others that God gave that covenant and those writings; and it is for them to pass them on, however they might respond internally to their requirements, or even to their formal reading (as in the case of Isaiah 53!). It is beyond any dispute, that this they have done, venerating their scriptures as a class; and it is this that the Old Testament is clearly defined be, by those to whom were accorded, "the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises", as Paul put it. New Marcions may want to add or subtract; but to the Jews was given what they greatly reverenced and so sadly disobeyed. As Jesus put it:
Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets, (Matthew 23:29- 31).Alas veneration without true virtue was their vice. Well enough, however, did they know what was venerated and tenaciously they asserted it. It is precisely the 39 books of the Old Testament as we now have it.
*6 The general ecclesiastical councils of Hippo 393, and Carthage, 397, acknowledged the canon for the Greek New Testament; in its authenticity and authority, it stood.
*7 The Suffering of Creation and the Longsuffering of God.
The suffering of creation is Biblically attributed to its sin; and the sin to its freedom; and the freedom to its Creator. Is then the Creator the sinner ? God forbid. He has opened the doors to eternity, but many love temporal things, not eternal things. Hence their suffering is temporal and their end is not; for we are created to last. ("God made man upright but he has sought out many devices" - Ecclesiastes 7:29.)
You have then freedom; and if freedom, therefore consequences and correlations.
Does a person object ?
What then would you have God to create ?
Is man to be a mere isolate in a vacuum, unable to touch or be touched, lest sin should spoil ? That is a marvellous individual creation, like a prison cell. Or would you like God to say: Oh! how unfortunate! Would you like it that God should speak like this... ?
You have ignored
broken my laws, invented new religions, making gods according to your wits,
or... demoting, demolishing or deleting the God who is;
you have caricatured my name, or invented ridiculous politics,
corrupt systems, immoral manners, squalid sociology.
Forsaken fiascos of philosophy, you have fostered like orphans... and you live by them.
Now would you have Me come in, only to be accused of interfering, and of interventionism, and change all your results, like a card trick, so that what you ask for and act for, somehow... does not happen!
But, He might add: what you sow, you reap, except you accept the divine specifications for mercy.
If then man is not just an individual in a vacuum, if he has family and friends and others relate, and if man has freedom, then sin will spoil except for what God rescues (cf. *1, p. 531, and S32 supra, and pp. 1181-1186 infra). Man astray readily brings others dismay. Now shall God rescue according to our sinful specifications ? Or will not God, according to His own freely offered Gospel, of His good news, act to rescue and redeem ? Or would you like to publish God's bulletin, at your will! Interventionism ? yes more, wild and erratic folly would this be, that the injuring party instructs the infinite God on how to dispense mercy, doing without such... minor matters perhaps as repentance, regeneration and sanctification.
Will man limit God and prescribe how He will act, or on what terms show mercy ? Does even man so direct an offended party ? As Paul notes in the end of Romans, the Gospel is what God has exposed, and indeed long exposed in the scriptures, even those of the Old Testament; and as he shows in Timothy, Christ is what He has exposed, even of Himself, for the life of the world (cf. 1 John 1:1-4). If now the world is not very interested, will God repent, or will man! Is God to be judged because man is slack ? GOD is not slack (cf. II Peter 3:9); the gospel is not slack, and judgment is not slack after nearly 2000 years, as God said it would not be, when the time came; and the soup would be... well cooked. (Cf. Luke 23:27-32, and Revelation Ch. 13 ff. - Christ portrayed what men did when the 'tree' was 'green', on the way to the Cross, predicting worse when it was 'dry').
In fact, God has been most longsuffering, and as to those whom He does not select (super-natural selection), we have His word (1 Timothy 2:1-3, John 15:21-23, Ezekiel 33:11, 1 Peter 3:7-9, Lamentations 3:33, John 3:1-19 esp. 17-19, and see Appendix B infra) that He does not avoid and disregard; it is not His wish that any should perish but that all should come to knowledge of the truth.
Will God then be blasphemed by this: that men should frankly disbelieve His word, as well as judge His grace, while showing their disgrace, and continuing in sin! Is there no limit to human blasphemy and ill-will! And will man add to his other sins, the blood of Christians for his ire! That has been a customary social convenience. The Father is blasphemed, His children assaulted.
The Word of God will rule (Matthew 7:23), and His word does so, whatever man says; and will judge (John 12:48-50), whatever man may judge; and whoever judges the word, judges God who spoke, just as the Jews with the kind co-operation of the Romans, judged the living Word. He is no longer available (except in name)... for torture; but the written word is. Judge this then, O man, O children of man: do you judge the word of God ? Your judgment be accordingly.
In this trilogy, it is shown why it is required by reason that the Bible is the word of God; the word of God shows by revelation where you are, who make a travesty of it, and who will not follow what it requires. Mercy is available, but not to God-makers, for God is not made. Indeed, Christ authorised His apostles to proclaim the Gospel, teaching to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20).
The mercy of God is available on the same old terms to those sinners who, having found an end of themselves and seeking an end of the dominance and sovereignty of their sin, come to Christ on His terms. As Christ says, we are to make peace with the power of the Mighty God, and surrender (Luke 14:31-35, 27, cf. 6:46). This is to spell an end to the control of sin, when that surrender is by faith to the Christ of the Gospel: crucified but alive according to His word. It is only then that man gains the victory (1 John 5:4, Romans 6:1, 8:10-11), which he so desperately needs, and comes to live, and abide in the truth. To depart from the truth, from the Christ whose word requires it, who IS the word, is to depart from the God who made you; and John speaks of it in terms of the spirit of antichrist (1 John 2:18-19, John 14:21-23, 29- 30). Not to come to Him is to be "without God and without hope" (Ephesians 2:12). And He ? One "despised and rejected of men", racially rejected, "led as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53), in the prophetic identikit (cf. pp. 757-774, supra).
The spirit of antichrist has many forms, like that of those who imagine the Romans did not know how to kill, or to attest those whom they killed in crucifixion; or that blood and 'water' separation of the elements of our life- giving fluid (John 19:34) is a suitable base for sustaining life (it being the discharge of ruin!); or who imagine Christ was not killed, or did not rise bodily from the dead, as if a tormented relic showed the power of life eternal; or from a callow, crippled conditon, a crucified butt produced the formula for immortality and the function for faith.
Chapter 6 supra has dealt with such contrived follies of desperation, flits into the fancy of existential irrationality; but God's word deals with those who withhold faith, and so test... the Almighty, as if judgment were not just around the corner. Indeed, will a romanticising theologian allege that the this-worldly 'deceiver' in some ancient document of a sect of zealots (anti-Establishment penitents who spoke of a teacher of righteousness, but did not perceive the Lamb of God suffering for sin in His divine passion of lovingkindness, in their doctrine) is in fact the sublimely altruistic Christ! What is this but jousting with reality by sheer anti-evidential guesswork!... contrapuntal procedure by contradiction, while constructing on this basis an irrelevant 'political' potentate or party, who yet said: My kingdom is not of this world... (John 18:36) and lived it; who did not fight or seek political power and said so, as also from the first in His withering rejection of the devil (Matthew 4:9-10); who instead carved a kingdom of truth on another basis altogether, deeply embedded in the scripture, one explictly, emphatically and continually so (John 6:15,27-29, Matthew 16:20-21), declaring: "My kingdom is not from here!"
Will rational man listen to such irrational reconstruction of unevidenced anti-history, in endless vendetta with essential and available reality, at daggers drawn with the data ? as equally with the essential logic ? (Cf. Ch.'s 1, 3 and pp. 931-936, 989-1010 supra.) If fairies may then contrive, so that neither data nor logic, nor history nor Old Testament nor New Testament nor Church foundation nor church history, nor indeed anything pertinent empirically or rationally be involved: let them. We are talking of Christianity, not plagiarism.
Man now mixes his blood with his ink. Much of both... has flowed. He is unkind to himself, his race and his future. Only redemption remains, then judgment. (Cf. pp. 316Cff., 592 631A-B supra; 1174D infra.)
In fact, the creation still has that wonderful bounty, originality, that poetic imagination that enlivens the spirit of man, justly inducing worship of its Creator; but it has been marred beyond recognition in many ways, such as these (cf. Ch. 2 S1-S14) :-
i) In the heart of man: without Christ, this is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9), not least in imagining its own purity or wildly seeking to reconstruct... God.
ii) In the environment, which is charred, broken or marred, its magnificence subdued... being subjected as Paul states in Romans 8:20-21, for the time, to things lower than its original disposition, to vain things, a fitting rebuke to the sin of its 'lord' (Psalm 8:4-6), yours truly, man: forming a chastening picture in terms of its... deformities, of man's own, a continual sermon on sin. Man is not the only one who can give sermons; and God can provide them in stone (archeology) or in life (biology) with the same consummate ease with which He first created life forms in their teeming complexity and fascinating compression of code and format (cf. Ch. 2; 631A-B supra).
iii) In the human form created for the eternal Son of God, as we read in Isaiah 52:14, an 'astounding' matter for many. Here the highly exalted servant of God, Christ as man, becomes a sin-bearer, and in that form He is marred beyond recognition (lit. "beyond the form of man") by the barbarous cruelty, the sophisticated hatred and the carnal convenience of man. He has presented us, like a barber, the 'back-view' of our own sin, in terms also of our own creation. If to that some object, this merely exposes yet again the same marring... within. Our evils as a race are not photogenic within or without. They are not good to look at; but look we do, and must.
Yet despite the marring, the marvel still remains: both of the love of God who sent His Son for deliverance from damage (not for damage control), and of the majesty of God who made not only man, but also his environment, in His time mirroring how He would, the vain faults of fallen man. It is not reason which can object.
Thus for the Christian, God instead becomes the ultimate environmemt (Colossians 1:27, 3:11-17), the Maker for the made; and indeed, as Christ is now resurrrected, so in due time, at the end of this trial, when the pages of this history have finished their first turning:
The creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21).It will be time then. Meanwhile, God has started with the children.