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(See infra: pp. 91-94, 701, 827-831, 842, 986-996, 1032-1033, 1080-1082, 1176-1186C.) Muhammad, of course did not claim to be God. That helped to this extent, that death did not destroy it all. However he did in due course make it clear that people should be forced to believe, in various cases, whatever it was he thought it would be a good idea to believe, what he said "God" had said and so on. Evidently, he opined (*23) that a sword would be good means of converting people (it does, oh voice-sore parsons, save the voice, though hard on the message of those wielding it).
Force is no remedy however; for if God had wanted to get what He wants with men by force, He need only have made them puppets; denied them will; or killed them Himself effectively! (and not so ineffectively as the Moslems did, who probably did not remove that way, more than a few millions; leaving so many over... suggesting they were not working with all power, which is something God, for His part, has). Force cannot provide the remedy, or be it; though it can speak judgment; but if it is the answer, it must prevail. Of such a kind, however, this world is not! nor has the Almighty so conducted history. So the Moslem "faith" cannot be from God. One almost feels like saying, "Sorry it is so simple." Yet one is not indeed sorry; for it ought to be simple; for that is one showing of the fact: God has made it clear.
Incidentally, one must here make the distinction between war as war, or for punishment, and war with the objective of securing 'conversion'; a Moslem specific. Force is alien to such a result, a debasing misnomer. Nor does it help the record that the 'Christ' of the Koran is biographically 'rebuilt' some 600 years after the event by the imagination of Muhammad, with his own varied new specifications, such as non-deity and variable seeming versions of... His death (Surah 4:157-158, 43:51-70). One could imagine the free marketeer Professor Friedman if he were so minded, rebuilding Marx in that way.
But as to physical force, the less subtle variety, it is no remedy for the heart and ways and wills of man. Death in particular is not a useful remedy when each party matters, and we are dealing not with justice for crime but therapy for souls. In looking for the revelation with remedy, then, we do not find it where force may be used as a criterion, and we wish to emphasise that. Judgment will come, and current instalments of it may come; but in the meantime, we are investigating the place of remedy and where it may be found! (John 3:17, on the contrary, broadcasts just this.)
There is also the question: What of the time before Muhammad the man ? We do not find a body of historical literature representing God before that time, one clearly conveying His mind to men, in this particular model... I mean the Moslem model. But since God had the motive and the power... before Muhammad - this is fatal to the claim Muhammad made. You recall perhaps the Old Testament in this connection (which the Moslems cannot have, since it does not agree with them).
You may recollect indeed that in addition to the (anticipated and, in turn, verificatory) fact that the Old Testament has a consistent and continual revelation, there is a reference to God's remedial and revelatory activities from the time sin began, within its pages and its record. This is to be expected, such an expression! On the one hand, then, the absence of such a constant and definitive revelation disqualifies (not again ? but yes!) the Moslem position; and on the other, the presence of the same in the Old Testament verifies with great and almost effusive precision, the Biblical claim both over against the Moslem and toward God. (Cf. pp. 68-70, 1002A-1003.)
Then there is the point of identification. There are with the Koran and Muhammad, no rational grounds why one should believe that God gave birth to the Koran as His diction. I am not going to descend to talk about its contradicting itself in various accounts of the creation and so on (there is such a thing as being invidious); it is just that it does not have indices which compel the view... to say no more... that God is back of it; and furthermore, God (and even this is an understatement) is inordinately distinctive. On the contrary that religion and "revelation" could equally well have Muhammad back of it, per se; and this does not only refer to the massacres and the plunders performed by this expansive "prophet", but to the rational grounds such as might, but do not in fact at all, constrain to the acceptance of his utterances as explicit oracles, as determinate communications from Almighty God.
When we, however, communicate, and wish it to be clear we said it, we take steps to identify with precision (we do this, for example, when writing cheques even when the fate of the world, or even of anyone in particular does not hang on it). Communication with identification, performed with all power has to be effective as such.
Thus the Koran falls again and irremediably. Only in total defiance of all reason could it ever be accepted. (Cf. Chapter 10, Section 1 B infra, pp. 986-993.)
Christ did say, on the other hand, that false Christ and false prophets would come (Matthew 24:5,11 - the Jews had such 'dreamers' ... Jeremiah 14, 23, Ezekiel 13-14), and this Muhammad set himself up in terms of a prophet, remaking religion. Indeed that fits also, and confirms from Christ's lips hundreds of years before, the warning against just such copying of divine diction (which of course Muhammad and the Koran are exposed to be, or to promote). It alerts us to realise afresh that if God says it, it must be clearly His. Again, you would expect such a thing, too, as that warning from Christ, as surely as He was the living word of God, as He claimed.
In fact, it shows the comprehensive and sovereign sufficiency of this Person to cover the coming misuses of the palette of presumption; it accentuates the incisive impact of His utterance (of which anon): and that is still further verification of Him. When communication must clearly distinguish itself, even verifiability becomes a verification. Due fulfilments, as have occurred and are exemplified with the Christ derogating claims of Muhammad, verify further.
What the opposition would do is demarcated in advance, in a spoken word which details the enemy moves before they can enact them. As we shall see, the 'many' (false prophets predicted by Jesus Christ, as to come) transcend merely Muhammad, who was only one, but not the facts! Relative to, and subsequent to Christ, we will find, false prophets have in fact swarmed! Muhammad however is categorised, his case is covered by Christ, and with it the scope of many such cases and their multiplication. (See Chapters 9, 10 infra.) In terms of the Bible, moreover, Muhammad is in catastrophic collision with Jesus Christ (John 14:6, Galatians 6:14), denying both His sole mediation of mercy, the crucial means, and the sole avenue to God through Him.
Now you may say: why refer to Christ so soon ? but you see, in checking the objective criteria on what fails even in advance, you are alerted to topics to come from another contestant. Grounds of exclusion of the one alert the mind to the use of them by another, so that they do not exclude but include, are in fact barriers at once overcome; and their height merely designates the champion.
But first, while on the Old Testament more particularly, we turn to Judaism. We do so with utter despatch; for any one point incisively checked and decisively failed in the Moslem claim, ends it. However, it really presented several such points, each clear and each fatal; but any one point being enough, we'll spare time and proceed at once to Judaism. (For further detail, see review pp. 986-993 infra, and Index.)
Before we do so, however, it is of some interest to wonder whether Muhammad qualifies as a false Christ (as predicted for many) as well as for a false prophet.
Muhammad claimed to be the very latest, bringing express and new sanctions to to bear on the earth which had known Jesus Christ, but which now found this mouthpiece bringing definitive and defiant doctrines with no limit! In that sense, yes, he is a false Christ as well as a false prophet.
What he lacks in power and personality (himself acknowledging indeed the sinlessness of Jesus as a distinctive phenomenon!), in prophetic majesty (fulfilling no authenticating role from scripture for his part, not at all), in sacrificial scope (others died in his wars, not he), notwithstanding: he yet did seek to displace as the latest, the Christ whom the Old Testament presented as God (see Ch.'s 6 and 8-9, and esp. 286 ff., 294 ff., and 319 ff.), as both ultimate, unchanging and unsurpassable (Psalm 72, 11, 14, 17- 45:6 Isaiah 59:20-21, 42:6, 40:10-11, Micah 5:1-4, Daniel 2:35, 44, Jeremiah 33:20 ff., Malachi 3-1-6). And so Jesus Christ presented Himself (John 14:6, 9, 5:19-21), indeed as the final judge of men (Matthew 7:22 ff.). In the midst of Muhammad's claims, however, this did not figure. He neither claimed to be, could claim to be, had the power, even the self-evaluation to be... God. Doubly false, therefore, is his seeking of substitution of his own words and ways in competition with those of Christ, rather than in subjection.
There are not two Lords, two Gods; and what acts as if to displace the one who is, is a false Christ. Inadequacies for the post merely accentuate the error: challenge to and competition with Jesus Christ make any such character, in Christ's terms, a false Christ (cf. John 14:6, 10:8, 14:30, 5:19-23, Matthew 7:21-23, 24:23-26,31-32, 37,42,44,46, Luke 21:8,33,36). He declared: "I am come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive" (John 5:43). Again, "For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father... The hour is coming, in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice, and will come forth... to the resurrection" (John 5:22,23,29).
As for the God of the Bible, He has made it clear, He has no plans of being surpassed or superseded, and having come, He does not plan to make place for another! (cf. Zechariah 11:12-17), but rather merely to allow the devastations of the diabolical to have their place for their day. Thus Isaiah 9:6, having decreed the birth of the wonder child, the Messiah, notes: "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom... from henceforth and for ever" - Muhammad is not known to Him, but only the Messiah, in the context of remedy for man; and as to the Messiah, He is both predicted in detail and Jewish... None of this does nor can Muhammad fulfil, nor did He; whereas Jesus Christ was meticulous in ensuring fulfilment of all the scripture concerning Himself (hundreds of items are involved, prophetic reference upon reference in the Old Testament - cf. Luke 24:25-26, Matthew 26:52-54, Luke 12:50, 9:51-56, Mark 15:28; and see pp. 755-769, 936-946 infra).
Thus Muhammad qualifies doubly by the authority of Christ as false; as well as through the criteria, themselves decisive, already reviewed. He is wholly immiscible with the Bible, condemned by Jesus Christ and qualifies both as false prophet and false Christ in the predictive words of Jesus Christ.
Rejected by reason as the bearer of the word of God, he is then also in conflict with the Bible, Jesus Christ, His gospel, while verifying at the same time two of Christ's rationally investigable predictions. Fatal as well relative to our quest for the bearer of the word of God, is the circumstance that Muhammad had no remedy to offer, but a hope for a future based on the pass rate for works done on this earth, (what of 49.9%?) thus failing to match the requirements that guard the eternal power and nature of God. No power to remedy is offered, only some hope of escape.
Remedy as such, however, is the only logical alternative to conflict with the very character of God, with His illimitable righteousness and power. For all these reasons, the Mohammedan religion fails to meet the test; and any use of force relative to the forwarding of that religion, whether in holy wars for its honour or other violence, is merely another rational ground of exclusion, a further violation of requirements for authenticity.
We must now see whether there is any contestant which not only offers rational grounds for credence, so identifying the speaker as God, not only avoids the use of force in the area of remedy for man's sin (as distinct from judgment on it), but actually both provides a remedy to the malady of man, his collision with God, and supplies power over sin and satisfaction for it.
Sparing time, then, but not without some amplification of review, we turn to...
Here I have sympathy. They are so very right in so many ways. They do have this concerted, consistent, age-old Old Testament with its references to revelation in a consistent and rational way from the very beginning of human sin, such as we have noted: that is truly great, meeting some necessities of the case. Indeed, here is one necessary index of authenticity. It is of course true that the Christian faith has the same Old Testament. We will therefore need to see if there are any ways in which we can separate these two contestants; for they can't both be right, in that one says the Person whom the other calls God (Jesus Christ is that person - cf. John 8:42-44), simply... isn't. And that is a fairly wide difference, when the question turns on who God is, you see.
Of course it would be quite in order to note a singular and interesting fact here. The Old Testament does talk of a time, before the Messiah (Christ) brings back Israel, when sacrifices are in, orderly, divinely prescribed; but the Jews don't now have them. Further, when sacrifices were in, they were prescribed for the Temple (*24), but the Jews don't now have such a Temple operational. It follows that either the absence of their Temple sacrifices is a discipline of God to them (more especially during their long exile from Jerusalem itself! with its Temple site); or that such sacrifices are no longer specified for them. After all, God, you recall, has all power, so that nothing He wants will fail for lack of it!
It is of course true that in the Old Testament there is reference to a time of such discipline to come (Hosea 3:4-5, cf. Leviticus 26); and that this is said to result from a kind of national spiritual adultery relative to God, a point which the prophet Hosea made in a most vivid manner, by divine direction (Hosea ch. 3, cf. Ezekiel 23).
Similarly Isaiah 65 reveals a national, obdurate provocation to God associated with His being "found of those who did not seek Me" (65:1). As to the backslidden Israel, He ascribed His not being found by "a people who provoke me continually to my face" (65:3), to "your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers" (65:7).
Deeming this nation "those who forsake the Lord" (65:11), despite their elevated spiritual past, in that "when I spoke, you did not hear" (65:12), God, with stinging deprecation, turns our attention from Israel with a vivid contrast, to the people yet to be favoured, and not hitherto so favoured, saying with alternate exultation and execration:
Behold my servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry... behold, my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be ashamed: behold my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but you shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall wail for vexation of spirit. and you shall leave your name for a curse to my chosen: for the Lord God shall slay you, and call his servants by another name (65:13-16).To this is added a divine rebuke of monumental rigour (Isaiah 30:8-9), removing for ever any thought of Israel as such being a base for blessing. The new criterion is the Messiah Himself, and whoever will receive Him. You see there is a certain differentiation not merely between former bounty given to Israel, and predicted isolation and punishment for them; but between the judgments to fall on Jewry and the unmerited munificence to cascade on the Gentile, favouring as many as will receive it (Isaiah 53:10). Further, the climax of discipline (Leviticus 26:32 ff.) is national dispersion, from which they must return to an ultimate contrition relating to Him whom they pierced (Zechariah 12:10)... and it is God who is speaking... in the summit of their sin. Indeed, the actual historical circumstances are depicted1 with particular care.
This is the testimony of the Jewish scriptures. In estimating Judaism as a contestant, these matters, along with the earlier position of the Jews, need to be borne in mind.
Such a baneful time was to come to a nation formerly truly given to the commands of God, the Old Testament says; and the nation Israel is that nation, the word of this same book continues - this book so carefully transmitted, by Israel... and which many in other nations have now received! That, through Israel, to us! So profound is God in His ways2. Through Jewish prophets, He reveals what would befall Israel, what would come them, what would come to the Gentiles through them, and what at last would come back to them, when they should return to Him. His name? ''Our Redeemer from Everlasting is your name'' (NKJV Isaiah 63:16 - it. added) - cf. Genesis 3:15. The necessary category is focussed and eternal! It is the response that baulks ...
We were, you recall, trying to see how the nation of Israel could be so negatively placed relative to sacrifices, and have come to the point of its long exile from its land over a couple of thousand years, and its notable and extreme suffering in that time, just as God foretold. In passing, we have noted that God will "call my servants by another name." Now we look back to Isaiah 53 to check what this signifies. Isaiah 52:13-53:12 reveals someone to be rejected, despised and oppressed, and slain; someone to be disfigured so abominably as to be scarcely human in appearance (52:13-14). By virtue of His sacrifice for and in the place of sin for all who receive Him (*25), great results should follow. One of these was that a new sort of children would be given to this victim (v. 10): namely those who receive His life as an offering for their sin.
Par excellence, here is a remedy, one which vindicates the character of God, that divine nature which was so obvious. But then how does it apply to the Jewish people?
Well of course Jesus Christ went through this sort of horror, and the priestly formalists assisted the process; and the people, rather widely, participated in the violent removal, of the One who had secured a great name in word and deed, and claimed to be the Son of God; to be in fact this predicted Person (Luke 22:37).
In speaking of Him, Isaiah asks: "Who hath believed our report ? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ?" Speaking of the same Person - who is to be God's salvation to the end of the earth (49:6, 42:6), "though Israel be not gathered" (49:5,7); who is to be glorious in the eyes of the Lord - of Him, he says:
Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to Him whom man despises, to Him whom the nation abhors (sic), to a servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord who is faithful and the Holy one of Israel, and He shall choose Thee (Isaiah 49:7).Here is a disjunction between Israel the nation who despises what God loves in this Person; and God's honoring of this despised Person. In fact we even read of His being vindicated - in one respect - in the prolonged dispersion of Israel as a nation (cf. pp. 822-829 infra). Faith in this Person (Isaiah 53:10) is the ground or way by which He has "children" of His own in whom He takes pleasure, even though Israel the nation is to be rejected to such a point that God will indeed call His servants by another name!
In Amos 3:4-8, we find written: "Surely the Lord will do nothing but He reveals his secret unto his servants the prophets." You see a wonderful example of this divine oversight and overview and panoramic predictive depiction, in Deuteronomy 32; and it is similar in Leviticus 26, relative to the coming epic of the Jewish race.
Our present point however is simply this: this coverage is guaranteed to be given. Such predictive pronouncements, rich in the preceding scriptures, of such scope that they are like a surveillance in advance, these are promised for the future. This is the way the Lord undertakes to act for them. Further, the statement just quoted is declared in the most dramatic context. God compares His utterance with the roaring of lions and the blowing of trumpets in a city: high impact, eminently clear, and arresting indeed, are these, and they are... causes of response!
He proceeds to announce with the word 'surely' that He for Himself, will not act towards His people without due announcement by His prophets. Indeed it is declared with triumphant vigour and encompassing power. Small wonder, then, that Jesus Christ pointed the disciples precisely here (Luke 24:44), to the prophets, relative to His doing in history what He had done, in all its scope, in fact calling them 'slow of heart'... That is, the scriptural mode, explicitly chosen by God: forecast and fulfilment.
In one way, there is a still broader statement, though it is not couched in such intensive vigour, rather in majestic sublimity: "For lo, He who forms the mountains, and creates the wind, and declares to man what is His thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads upon the high places of the earth, the Lord, the God of Hosts, is His name." (Cf. Amos 4:1, 5:1, 7:12-17, Isaiah 45:19-22; pp. 623-631 infra.) In this case, the recipient, or the party to whom declaration is made is "man" - to him God will certainly declare His thought.
Thus we find that while His predictions range to terminal cosmic climaxes of totally catastrophic proportions (e.g. Isaiah 24:19-23, 51:6) including specific national disasters outside Israel (Isaiah 34:4-17, and for Tyre, Ezekiel 27 - all precisely fulfilled), befitting the God of all the earth, they also proceed immovably (Isaiah 44:24-28, 51:6, 59:21, Jeremiah 26:2, 44:28, Isaiah 31:2 - cf. pp. 712 ff., 757 ff., 935 ff., 973A; Chs. 8-9 infra). By His "counsel", they are performed (Isaiah 44:25-26).
God declares to man what He thinks, you observe; and His determinate decisions, these He performs. In particular, what He is going to do to this nation of Israel is something He undertakes to declare, indeed to provide for preview. Accordingly, this He did; He told Israel what He would do, and He did it conclusively.
He has declared in this Old Testament what He would do to the nation of Israel; and He has done what He said would happen. It follows with necessity from these propositions that what has happened to them is identified. It is just what He said would happen. The predictive perspective is so exhaustive and so stringent that the meaning of the relevant history when it comes - is inescapable. There is but one place for the part of the jig-saw puzzle, and when it fits - it is then seen in its picture.
Now what is this particular piece in this case ? It is the disjunction of the Jews for the noted reasons, and God's bringing of "another nation" or indeed of "Gentiles" (Isaiah 49:6 cf. 65:13-16) to Him, calling them by "another name"; and in particular, God's bringing anyone to Him by the means of his receiving the life of the Messiah, the Christ (officially rejected by the Jews as a nation) for his individual sins. Let us take it more intimately. The Jews had to receive the life of this coming-to-be-sacrificed-Person. Now He had to be sinless in order to be a sacrifice for sin, as the Law abundantly attests (Psalm 49:7-9, Isaiah 53:5-6, Leviticus 6:6-7, 5:18, 9:2, 16:22, Malachi 1:8, 13-14, Micah 5:1-3); whereas all men simply descended from Adam, non-divine men, are sinners (Psalm 14:1-2, Ecclesiastes 7:20; Isaiah 66:2). To this end, contrition is essential (cf. Zechariah 12:10-14). For them, a sacrifice for their sin was required; but as for Him, He in Himself provided the sacrifice for sin (Isaiah 53:10).
This then is the teaching of the Jewish prophets.
Now no one else except Jesus Christ has subsequently claimed this at this level and offered Himself thus, as the Old Testament predicted. Further, following His doing it, the nation Israel received the very penal treatment described in advance, by the One who said they would not undergo such basic treatments, unless He so predicted it. Relative to the predicted result (accursed dispersion), there is only one underlying predicted cause (execration of Christ, His rejection) and with it, there is another predicted result.
And this ? It is the spreading of the good news of salvation to other nations universally. Now in the centuries before Christ came, that good news was duly prophetically identified for us. It would concentrate on this rejected Person fulfilling Old Testament Scripture (identifiable in terms of fulfilled prediction to this day, only in Jesus Christ). Concerning Him, it was as we noted, that Isaiah asked: "Who has believed our report ?"... that too was covered!
Accordingly, because anyone accepts the Old Testament, he has logically to accept Jesus Christ; for except He be the One, the Old Testament is false in claiming this basic, competent and adequate racial preview of history with its Gospel data and world resultants, or anything remotely resembling it.
Indeed, far worse, it would be guilty of ruthlessly or riotously misleading documentation of what would be the greatest hoax or swindle of all time. It would be one giving spurious credentials through false claims about a correct historical preview which in fact, in that event, would be rather a marvel of mischief, a cruel betrayal and a saturninely comic confusion of light and darkness, giving historical credence to the most powerful attestation of God in word and works ever made. It would verify in the name of the God of the Old Testament, in advance, an unholy hoax or folly.
Now relative to this very definitely fulfilled racial and Gospel history, covering the race, the Man and the Gospel: Christ (slain and resurrected - Isaiah 53, Psalm 16) is the assigned cause; and the blessed predicted consequence towards nations other than the Jews.
Prediction is predicted. Performance is predicted. Performance has occurred. This thing has happened: there is none other such. Further: the history has happened: not just items, but in the very texture of racial development, it has all cohered. Thirdly, then: the precisely predicted gospel has accurately happened, indeed following the predicted lines of the prophet Isaiah and others with a quite extraordinary fidelity, that preserves even the emphases as such! Hence the Christ is He, Jesus. There simply is no other possibility. If this Messiah were not authentic, then this whole fascinating and fantastic concordance of all these events with the predictions would have been omitted from the Old Testament preview, which it claims to make (such indeed that one error would be fatal to the divine claim). Isaiah's gospel - and that of Zechariah and the rest- is fulfilled in Christ Jesus, alone.
If this is not it, the predicted preview has failed; if it is, then He is the One previewed. If the Jews are right, in their religious base in the Old Testament, then of necessity, from their own prophets, they have crucified their own Messiah, who now is available to everyone who rightly receives Him, in terms of the gospel, the good news, the free salvation and forgiveness, announced by Isaiah, and preached in Christian churches ( as it was predicted it would be presented ) for thousands of years.
So surely as God did not omit thousands of years from the guaranteed prediction covering Israel, so surely is Christ the Messiah; so surely is Judaism a religion of error, a route failure, where the people were warned of coming sin, and still committed it.
So much for the Judaistic religion. It was a good one; but then it ended with men telling God ( and it is not the only religion that did or does that! ); and telling His Christ in particular ( admittedly just as God said they would - cf. Psalm 2 and Isaiah 49:7, 53:1, 49:5, 65:13-16 ), following an historic bent (Isaiah 30:8-10); so that it is replaced. In its place as vehicle of grace and proclaimers of covenant is... whatever it is, whoever indeed, who does follow this Christ, who does accept this Messiah (Isaiah 53:10, 65:13-16) ... the One to whom the noted things happened with the noted results to the Jews. Now that is - but a caution here, to follow the Biblical definition of the term - the Christian church.
Now let us recall that the confirmed and contemporary news of this Person is for the record, in the New Testament alone and concerning Him, the Christ who is the cardinal, the pivotal, the all-essential criterion of relation of one sort or another to God, such news had to come. Let us emphasise that Isaiah 53 for example adumbrated the very good sort of good news or Gospel it was to be; and this is exactly what it is. We have then the third part of this Old Testament predictive array in the New Testament. That is, the exact Gospel relative to Christ in the Old Testament, to Messiah to come - is just that one based on Jesus in the New Testament: Jewish prophets gave it detailed prediction and here it reposes as record!
More directly: with all other possible competitors failing to meet specifications as the explicit expression of God, we are forced to accept the Bible, in which are found the Old ( preparatory ) and the New ( consummatory ) Testaments; the one predicting Jesus Christ and His Gospel, and the other exposing and applying Him (*26). ( For detail: see Ch. 9 - Sections 1-3, and pp. 931-943, 973A infra.)
The predicted Jewish Messiah is predicted to be rejected by His fellows, the people who were to be His nation, as well as predicted to come; and His coming is not merely predicted by Moses and Isaiah, but by Jeremiah and indeed, as elsewhere to be studied in detail, by Zechariah and by David in the Psalms. The Old Testament is imbued with Him ( as indeed Jesus made so very clear for His part, in due course, as we saw- in Luke 24 for example) . Not merely is His stature predicted, but also His Gospel, His provision for man, and its individual application, national rejection and continued presentation over a time that would be long enough to mark out a whole new people, called by 'another name'.
Now in addition to the pure multiplicity of the predictive elements which could occupy a treatise of considerable length in itself, there is one crucial, specific content of this Gospel so openly and clearly preached predictively in the Old Testament - for our apologetic purposes. There is a further consideration in this phenomenon of the Old Testament manifesting the Messiah predictively and the New Testament applying Him; of the pre-figured Messiah whom animal sacrifices for so long preceded, but who statedly in Isaiah should in Himself come and bear sin and - as Daniel put it - " be cut off, but not for Himself "( 9:26 ).
If this is precious to the Christian, it must at this point also be essential to the logician. What then is this added procedural benefaction ?
It is this. This book, the Bible, this Gospel in particular has the added advantage at this point (in fact, it meets this added logical necessity - recall ?): That it contains a remedy (*27) for man. That as the alert reader will remember, was necessary; and now he will see- it is Jesus Christ!
Simple, isn't it ? Praise God for that. By the way, that - simplicity to the extent at least that the matter is clear, and the communication readily attestable as from God - was one more necessary logical condition that had to be fulfilled, when we decided to seek for the remedy of God, for the express and explicit communication of God. That communication, on prior grounds, we were settled and certain must somewhere be identifiable and available. It is - and it is herewith identified.
It has superabundantly met all the criteria; indeed, it has met them with a flair, an originality, a force and a fervour which has (another relevant verificatory point) the impact of high majesty and absolute power.
In other words, the way in which the case is covered, the matter is resolved, is in itself so startling and remarkable as to be an independent indication, at the level of manner and method, of the Source of the Communication. Here are, as so often, the trappings of majesty in written form.
We find they are stringently guarded by God, these words: they are not susceptible to addition or subtraction of human thoughts. This we learn. (See Appendix D infra for review in detail.) The dimensions of the Bible (Appendix C) have unequivocally been acknowledged by the Jews for the Old Testament (cf. Romans 9:4-5), and by the Christian Church for the New Testament; and it has been closely related to the phenomenon of prophets and apostles, together with the incisive determinations of Jesus Christ Himself (Appendix D infra).
This stringent guard and prohibition of subtraction or addition to the words, this exclusion of the intrusion of thoughts of which man stands as author: it is noteworthy! You would expect that.
Possibly a man may notice, even today, that he himself is not God; and that God is great, and has made the mind, and the spirit of man, and matter; indeed that God is infinitely great. If so, he should note that to add to or subtract from God's thought - if permissible in any alleged revelation from Him - would be a certain indication that the thing did not and could not have come from God. Here again, this communication, the Bible, as precise focussing on Jesus Christ... as the only remedy... as sacrifice for sin, and as risen Lord, bearing God to the cleansed heart continually, and its possessor by His grace, to Himself: this communication is confirmed. Indeed, much that is persistently false is shown to be such at the same blow.
This is one of those continual and consistent verifications which constantly confirm the reality of that with which we deal. Multi- dimensional consequences tend to follow from what is real: it is rather like using your eyes as you walk in the real world. There is then a certain cohesion between information and exploration... a continual confirmation.
Now that salvation is only to be found in the One to whom the pages of the Bible point; and that one, we see is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God (Mark 8:27-41 and Matthew 16 - cf. pp. 532-560 infra).
He is the rock which crushes (Matthew 21:44, and 1 Peter 2:6, Matthew 21:42, cf. pp. 532-560). He is the Rock on which to stand (Isaiah 28:16, 1 Corinthians 3:11, Psalm 62:2). Biblically, He as God is indeed the only Master your soul is allowed (Matthew 23:8-11, II Corinthians 1:24, John 20:28, Hebrews 1:1-3, 8, Isaiah 44:6, 8, John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14 cf. pp. 233-234 infra).
He is the Master and Saviour without whom, God says, you justifiably are declared null and void and indeed voidable by Him in your spiritual relation to God (John 3:18, 3:34-36, Matthew 22:1-4). He is the sacrifice whom you must appropriate and take personally (John 6:51-54, Matthew 26:26-28), on whom the curse which sin brings, is placed for those who bring their sin to Him (Galatians 3:10-13, 6:14, John 8:24, Romans 8:32, Acts 20:28, cf. Leviticus 4:27-28, Isaiah 53:10).
Let us interpolate to emphasise the teaching of the Bible that this curse is cancelled for everyone who believes (Galatians 3:10-13), while this sin-bearing does not apply of course for those keeping their sins, any more than in Old Testament days it applied to those not laying their hands in repentance and by faith on the sacrificial lamb or bullock - Leviticus 1; 4; cf. John 8:24, 10:11 with 10:26, Deuteronomy 29:18-20. Hence when actual remission of sins is involved, it is for many, not all - Isaiah 53:11, Matthew 26:28, that the actual cure is effected. (Cf. pp. 637-643 infra.)
And that, in terms of our quest, means a selective application of the highly focussed remedy, a sovereign donation on the part of God both in terms of method and application; but an absolutely available salvation, deliverance and peace to those who for whatever reason, desire it!
God, in this therefore, stands freely in His glorious justice and majesty: He is not the cause of man's sin, rather the provider of man's scope for wonder and glory, suffering the misuse of that prime gift of liberty by those who for whatever reason, so desire. He thus is revealed as a donor of wonder to man, while man in reverse is shown as a misuser of the same; but again, not implicated, God, as revealed in the Bible, has from the first made a provision that remedies the sickness of man, provides sentence on the sin and salvation from its presence, so Himself being free from any implication in it, but in providing the wonder it misuses, and the remedy it needs, being so misused by man. The remedy, further, now available, becomes a more perfected wonder when a new heavens and a new earth replace the current temporary structure (Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35, John 14:1-3, Revelation 21).
The case, as required, we see more and more fully, is superabundantly met in the Bible, as the word of God; alone it meets it; transcendently, it covers it. It is, then, as Cambridge Professor C.S. Lewis so beautifully put it in his essay, God In The Dock, not a matter any more of seeing if God meets the case, but rather, reader, to find this: do you ?
In this, where do you stand ? He will receive all who come - John 6:37! Have you cast yourself in confidence, however desperately, on Him, His cross, His accomplishment, His compassion, His life borne back from death ? Has His remedy become yours personally ? It is appropriate, we find; but is it appropriated ? How inappropriate is the appropriate which is not appropriated!
His mercy is everlasting to you after you receive Him as He is! Now He is perfectly clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Will you receive Him by faith ?
Jesus Christ redeems in reality those who believe in fact, that He is the Son of God; that He is the sacrifice acceptable to God on their behalf (I John 2:2), the sinless substitute meeting for them, if they believe (John 10:25-28), their duly and truly meted out judgment; who believe that His integrity and validity is evidenced without limit, in ways including His rising from the dead with body unrotted - this demonstrating the irrepressible power of God Himself.
This power and viability has availability without limit to anyone outside God, indeed to everyone who receives thus the Saviour (Ephesians 1:18-20; Romans 10:9; Luke 24:27-48; Acts 2:25-40; John 12:47-50, 8:4-45; 9:39-41, 5:44-47,37-38,30-31, 9:35-38; 10:27-28; 11:25; emphasised in John 12:44-50; John 2:18-21; Matthew 28:18-20, 20:28, John 1:29, Luke 22:37 with Isaiah 53, Leviticus 16:16-21, with Hebrews 9:28, and Galatians 3:10-13).
Such people - those who thus believe
in and concerning Him - receive Him as He is - which by the way, is the
only way to receive Him: In truth! The Bible having been identified as
what God has said, it has been appropriate then, in this way, to examine
what it has to say to us, and this without delay. Let us
summarise a little. As we do, let us remind ourselves of the symphonic
marvels of creation, august and creative, where sin does not wholly desecrate,
or judgment expose: with these great words, set to music, and taken from the
book of Job, paralleled with another beauty of the earth.
(Available only in the CD.)
2. You see the necessity to act or to have acted on the fact, for He Himself demands you come to Him (John 5:40) and intimates His desire for such a thing (1 Timothy 2:1-3, Colossians 1:19-23).
3. At some point, you as a hearer of His word, if your position is to be remedied, must come or have come to Him: that is, have received Him (John 1:12-13). In doing so, you trust Him, trust in Him: you have received Him as the Saviour actually bearing, and bearing away indeed the tyranny of, and judgment due to your sin; and you have received Him as the living Lord of all (John 14:19, Romans 14:9, John 5:26-27, 13:13, Acts 2:36). That is His position (Philippians 2:9-11, Acts 2:36). It breathes ineradicable joy (1 Peter 1:8-10, Galatians 5:22, John 16:20-22).
The Lord you receive is the Christ who actually engages to answer prayer in accord with His promises; to inspire and fire you to serve God Himself whose Son He is; and to keep you to the end of this course on earth for final awakening to the fulness of God unveiled in His presence, a God from whom you will never on any account be separated (1 Corinthians 13:9-12; John 5:25, 1 John 3:9, 5:13,14-15).
You do - or you don't - receive Him. If you do, you are a Christian. The converse... is true.
These believing people, big or small, young or old, have God Himself, and know God and are God's: relative to God their situation is remedied - relative to God who governs all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11); and that remedy has been found through the communication of God (Psalm 40:6-8, Isaiah 40:9, 52:7, John 12:49, 8:45, Amos 4:11-13,2, 3:7-9, 5:4,6-8,18, 7:13,16), sent most willingly (Colossians 1:19-23).
This was written in the Bible (1 Corinthians 1:9-13, Isaiah 34:16, 59:21). It has been actualised, dynamised and fulfilled in that Jesus Christ who is the fulness of the Godhead, and in the form of a servant was crucified, and who has indeed risen in that body, and has been translated to glory, from which He came and will come, when the thrust and scope of the remedy has freely spread over the earth, impacted and imparted to His satisfaction, to the completion of His love, which bore pangs to deliver, and takes pains to deliver also the word.
As to these believing people, it is in Him and through Him they live. This they do according to that same communication, the Bible. They live in the name of Jesus and through the Spirit of God who applies the truth, inspires the mind and spirit, effects the answers to prayers, dwells within the heart of the believer, accompanies him/her and is given over to presenting Christ in His truth and power, and to giving Him the honour which is His due (John 15:16,26, 14:12; 16:7, 17:13,15, 1 Peter 1:3-9).
Speaking to those who have come to the Lord and believed in Him according to His word, Paul in writing to Titus sums up so much pithily:
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasure, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ the Saviour that having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7, cf. Amos 4:12-13).
2. THE BIBLE IS WHAT HE HAS THUS PRESENTED.
3. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS HIS REMEDY AS PRESENTED IN THAT BIBLE: namely, born of a virgin; living without sin; dying - bearing the penalty of all who put their trust in Him as He is; now alive and available being resurrected unrotted - as Peter and John pointed out - from the dead (Acts 4:2, 2:31).
This Christ (and not some manufacture of man's mind) who lived on earth, through faith in Him, gives life both abundant and abundantly close to God, from whom the once believing and receiving soul will never again be separated.
We have then noted that this calls for so trusting in Him, and have itemised and verified this matter, that all may understand who have a mind to do so; and we have charged all so to do in Christ's name, and for the love of Christ who is the truth!
In all this we have given a reason for the hope that is in us; and demonstrated that this is what God is - and of course that He is - and what He has to say to men.
What we have done is to prove that God is (Romans 1:19-21, 1 Peter 3:15 show the propriety of the task!), and must have spoken; and we have duly identified what He in fact said (which results in clarity from His power, not our own, or any man's, or from any short of God!).
We then had to read it to find out what His thoughts are, for we could never have found them out otherwise. Nevertheless since we did prove the Bible to be His communication, a Bible which claims incidentally to be wholly inspired from Him and to be kept in all integrity in doctrine: THEN WHATEVER IT SAYS IS THEREFORE INDIRECTLY BUT PERFECTLY COGENTLY PROVED TO BE WHAT THE TRUE GOD WHO SPEAKS TRUTH, DOES THINK. This is the way it has been presented, step by step, duly proved, duly discovered, then duly applied.
In terms of method, let us put it this way: Having identified it (proof), we find by reading it (perception) what He thinks; and this we can do only because He tells us therein His thoughts towards us, distinguishing His truth, for us (Amos 4:11, 1 Corinthians 2:9-13). Through His grace, having followed His steps to Himself, all of us who have done or do this, we find Him available and outreaching; and having found Him, we have understood. To this same Christ, we have then pointed you. While only He can convert you (John 6:44,65), if you receive Him you are His.
This will cover the life of man in the flesh (Chapter 2), the writhings of man's mind (Chapters 3 and 4); and the resolving power, on the other hand, of God's word (Chapter 5) in answering what man cannot. This last topic will be relatively short because of the character of our aim there, to encapsulate, compare and expose the terrain; and not because there is not much more that could be put down; for in dealing with One so great, where could one stop, otherwise ?
From this, we proceed to the stupendous verification to be drawn from the life on earth of Jesus Christ (Chapter 6), and to the overwhelming testimony of prophecy: both that from His lips (Chapter 8 specialises here), and of Biblical prophecy more generally (Chapter 9).
Finally, in Chapter 10, inter alia, the awful folly of 'comparative religions' is exposed before the fascinating monolith of Jesus Christ.
Page 65 continued in the next section
1. Zechariah 9:9,11:10 ... cf. Ch. 9 infra.
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2. Cf. pp. 790-857 infra; and also Appendix A.
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3. A perfect surveyor's
sign from a point in the plains to the Rocky Mountains does not in itself
bring you there, however beautifully it is prepared, crafted, structured,
inscribed or scenically placed. The words of Christ here are:
"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you might have life!"
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