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The cause of killing is removed upon the removal... of 'disbelief' of those who possessed this particular relationship towards the visions of Muhammad. The Battle of Tours, in 732 A.D., was one place where the violence of religious drives was halted, before Europe, in dire peril, could be engulfed. Again, Surah VIII shows Muhammad, stirred by contrary religious action, advising: ''Make war on them until idolatry cease and God's religion shall reign supreme'' (refer p. 1081 infra).
Similarly, Sydney Cave in his work, An Introduction to the Study of Some Living Religions of The East on p. 212 gives Surah IX. 5 of the Koran as follows (italics added):
When the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever you shall find them; and seize them, besiege them and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush; but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is gracious, merciful.Such a 'god' would appear also to be profitable in some circumstances where religions meet in a vortex, and power is in the arm of some, not others.
The historical impact of Moslem 'forced conversions' is no more ambiguous than is this directive above. It is not an aberration of some unauthorised segment of the 'faith', but actually written in its 'scriptures'. (See pp. 987, 1080-1082 infra.)
On topics in relation to this religion: see Index - Moslem.
24 Leviticus 16, Exodus and EXTENSION 2, pp. 822-829, esp. p. 824 infra.
25 This follows and fulfils the practice of the Old Testament covenant. In this, a person might receive... say a Lamb for his sins, for a sacrifice in terms of various specified trespasses (e.g. Leviticus Chs. 4 to 7, and Exodus 12, Psalm 51).
26 God then, eternal, almighty, righteous and truthful has authored the Bible. (See also Appendices D, C.) That Bible focusses Jesus Christ as remedy for sin, remedy for ruin, as victor over evil and death; and it addresses men in His name for action, requiring repentance and reception of his Christ in His claims; in His place as God manifest in the flesh, in His Person. The One who admits members of our race to life in the Spirit of God under His own name as Redeemer, gives entry indeed to everlasting life (cf. I John Ch.'s 1 and 5). He is available to those who come to Him and who, in view of His invitation (John 6:37) are thus His by adoption (Romans 8:15-16).
These have been justified (Romans 4:25, 5:1, Titus 3:7) by faith in Him, as that wholly authoritative Lord, who knows all things, and who works all things after the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:11).
Thus it teaches and so it is.
This in itself does not for some, initially, however clearly cover the Biblical statement on what it teaches about itself. Identified is one thing; characterised is another. Being God's word, then, what does it say about the way it says it ? Identified, how does it define and depict its task ?
Obvious ? Yes, in that the God whose we are, and who has all power, and who makes expression from His own Person, will be superbly, infinitely adequate and not violate His truth (and He IS the truth). Yet for all that, the human mind can be remarkably dulled by cultures and conceptions long running riot; so that we will investigate in some detail the self-designation of the Bible in APPENDIX D, more for completeness than for need. (See also Chapter 9, Daniel File, Part 2; et al..)
27 EXTENSION on: A Simplified Schema (with focus on suffering q.v.)
At this point, a simplified schema, a swift list of stopping points in the hike, may prove useful. A point of departure for this brisk walk (rather like an Autumn hike in the cold over the long trails of Summer), one which commends itself for its pith, is the film, The Hiding Place, based on the book of Corrie ten Boom.
This redoubtable and justly famed Dutch resistance leader had the exterior of an abundantly straightforward and tender-hearted daughter of an elderly, lovable and loving watchmaker. Hiding Jews in a carefully contrived, and architecturally brilliantly conceived shut off part of the house, an invention among walls and levels, the family were at last exposed, despite earlier kindly police 'ignoring' of the heroic efforts to spirit away the persecuted Jews, on an underground route.
The book recounts the horror of Ravensbrook, the suffering, the callous indifference to the suffering of her father, who, rather than have his offered freedom, would not give his word to help the Jews no more. On the contrary, said he, when offered a specious freedom, when need knocks at my door, I will open. Jews would by no means be ignored or disregarded.
With such a blank contrast of light and shade, evil and virtue, kindness and cruelty, constructiveness and destructiveness, the story allows us to listen in to a camp conversation amongst the abused and harassed, over-worked and dragooned inmates.
While people were being marched off to death, were being struck for being sick and too feeble to lift, disregarded, burdened with forced labour under inhumane and even inhuman conditions, the question arose: Why ? We listen as the prisoners address themselves to this aching thrust to their troubled bodies.
A former first violinist of a major European orchestra was there... with hands now ruined for the skills so painfully learned, and no doubt so much appreciated by concert audiences. Why ? came the question. In Corrie ten Boom's own mind would have been the knowledge of the cruel, heartless way in which her own father had been allowed to die... and so on.
If, said one of the speakers in the film, if God is good, why does He not stop this: if He is all-powerful, He can; if He is also good, He will.
He has the power, so why does He not use it ? This was the question.
The immediate answer of course is this: He does, but not as you might expect. Give it however some thought, and what is found is this. Freedom, something many Chinese and Eastern Europeans, many Latvians and Estonians and Lithuanians would cherish if they could get more of it, it seems: Freedom requires certain results. If we are not to be programmed like computers, set like alarm clocks to 'go off' at this and that, but rather are free to do good or evil, then we have shame and guilt and accusations: things which all races practice, whatever they say.
We also have results. Thus if you do evil to me, that may affect my teaching and so you may do harm to students; and if they are impatient, then they may do more evil to themselves. If a father is a drunkard, there must be effects on his children; and similarly, if he is a bankrupt and so on. True, the children may work and escape; but the waves! the currents, the results tend to come. If Hitler may not do evil, then you may not do good. If he may not hate, then you may not love. With freedom, you have all; and without it, none of these things are free to happen.
If you are not suicidal, then you will appreciate having life, the opportunity to express yourself, find the way of life and follow it.
The cost of this open door to good, is the open door to evil.
If God made things, people, in order to get pleasure out of hurting them, then 'He' would have an appetite for something obtainable best by creating and spoiling what He made. But if God had such a need, a vacuum in His life, He would not be self-sufficient, but making things to make up for things that were not there, but which He would like to the there. To do evil to His creation could not be the objective, unless He had unmet needs, so that what they were constituted to be, became a butt for 'divine' appetite. Even if it were deemed a matter of mere caprice, it would then be implied that THIS was a vacancy in His self-sufficiency, so that 'He' thus indulged desire that required us of creation fulfil His whimsy quotient, or whatever. The case is not altered in the least by such additives to the imaginary 'needs'.
That could not be God, but only the product of someone who would have given Him that sort of constitutional inadequacy, creating bounds in Him which were bonds, limits defining dissatisfaction, dependency on what was not Himself; so that He would neither be ultimate, nor the ultimate, but constituted as an interactive agent in a system of give-and-take, a creature.
God cannot be like that. Making freedom, He opens the door to love and hate, good and evil. If then, hate and lies and injustice come along in great power, as they do, and the human race is nearly full of it (oh, there is much good too, but we are dealing with the dark area, the 'problem' area), then does God make the race suffer this evil, and be spoiled ? That He would work good simply by desire, not need, this is one thing; that He would work evil, spoliation of His creation by need, working one thing and attacking it gratuitously, all as one, this is another. If He wishes to share His wonders with others, this is His option. If He were to wish to violate His own works or word, this would be self-contradiction, outworking of internal violation, apt for self-contradictory beings, but not for One whose will and being accord, nothing added or subtracted, the only and ultimate autonomous being! Self-violation is assault on self, and hence dissatisfaction with it, and hence inadequacy in it, betokening a created status.
Such contradiction would be a contradiction in terms, a specious imagination of no relevance to reality.
What then of a system where human liberty is created, allowing love and nobility, if likewise their obverse, desecration and lies ? What will become when the evil assails the good, His word, and His works are compromised by other works of His ?
Will He tolerate evil to rule ? Of course not, for then it would be true that He had the power to do good, and did not use it, and this, that He suffered what HE would not do, to be done so that the system of His creation became an engine of what was against His personal desire, whose power is unlimited. HE would be contradicted not only in word, but in work, not only in work, but in system. Since self-contradiction requires no other contradiction, such an imaginary 'god' may be dismissed by reason at once.
He COULD destroy it all ? but where then is His foreknowledge, which embraces with other knowledge, all things, having limits in nothing, while He Himself imposes limits for each, which in turn, work towards the creaturely definitions of His products ? Destroy all things ? He did not actually do so, for if He had, this writer would not be now typing; but I am!
What then ? He could rebuke it, but this in itself would not remedy it. Protest is not solution! Therefore, in such a matter, one can see this, that He issues a remedy. If not, then He accepts the rule of evil, sinking to creaturely status, an exploiter, making 'Him' (impossibly) not good and self-sufficient, or (impossibly) not all powerful, a mere product. That would be the same as non-existence, and this is no resolution, but mere impasse that teaches us the necessity that the remedy be there. Psalm 50:16-23, with II Peter 3:9, trace this logical fact. Needing nothing from creation, God does no evil to it. It follows that He DID issue remedy, and He holds it out till His good pleasure deems the matter concluded! What then of this remedy for which we are logically driven to look ?
This remedy must include something about forgiving us, for we all fail this way and that. That can only be found if God speaks. Now the only basic religions which show God speaking in so many clear words (not man talking about Him) are: those of the Jews, the Christians and the Moslems. As to the Moslems, their Koran contains areas which allow forcing people to 'believe' in what they call "Allah". But if God were interested in using force relative to believing and acting with Him or not, then freedom would have no place, so that then HE would be responsible for the evil. Further, Muhammad, their leader, makes up a 'Jesus', some 600 years later, calls Him sinless but wants to bypass Him. This is hardly historical. Indeed, there is no reason to believe any of it.
Again, it has no remedy: you work out, as told, and maybe, just maybe, you will make heaven. It depends, it seems on the pass mark. What if you just fail and someone elsejust makes it: will a total fate depend on a little difference. This is no remedy. It merely reflects the problem. Indeed it intensifies it, both affronting justice and minimising mercy.
The Jews, for their part, have themselves passed on to the rest of the world their Scriptures, which are in fact what the Christians call - the Old Testament. This is some 39 books, as the Jews say, and in it you find that someone called the Messiah (that, in their language, Hebrew, stands for 'Christ') will come to earth, being God, and die for the sins, the evils, accepting the punishment, the curse deserved by those who have done wrong, who come and receive His pardon on this basis. He would rise from the dead, and in the end, His kingdom would rule the world, which, in turn, would be removed and replaced with one in which truth, love, goodness, mercy and justice are ruling, through this Christ, this Messiah.
The Jews' scriptures say all this, and add (Isaiah 49:7) that the Jews will reject their own Messiah, the Christ, and will be scattered all over the world, at last being brought back to their own land (which happened in 1948). They also say (Amos) that God will foretell to the Jews what He is going to do with them.
Now all this has happened, and God did foretell that the good news of this Christ would be given, preached, taught by people who were not Jews; and indeed (Isaiah 65:12 ff.), God stated that He would call His servants by another name. The Jews would not accept Christ, and God would not accept them, until they did!
Therefore, it follows that the Christ who has happened must be the One foretold. Otherwise God would have left out all this long and painful part of the Jews' history. However it has all happened, just as He said. Therefore Jesus is the Christ, based on the Jews' own scriptures. His people are naturally enough called 'Christians', which is 'another name', no longer... Jews. The Old Testament therefore is not an option instead of the New, but requires the New; and both are the divine remedy inscripturated.
This leaves us with both the Jews' scriptures (the Old Testament) and the New Testament of the Christians as the statement of the remedy, of necessity. God has indeed not left us without a witness! Unchanging, the remedy spans the millenia (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, News 87, Dayspring). Indeed, the Christians accept both of these, the one which told of the Christ who would come and the one, the New Testament, which told of what He did when He did come.
Finally, it is of interest, in so vast a topic, to consider what may have been the particular aspects of divine wisdom in such a seemingly unredeemable situation as that in the Ravensbrook concentration camp, of which the book and the film speak.
Corrie ten Boom herself, at the end of the film, makes a short address. In this, she indicates what to her is a crucial demonstration-lesson aspect of the whole matter. For her part, it has shown that God is able to reach to the deepest situations of apparent hopelessness, what the world might call - deepest hells. He is able to reach down, she declared with the voice of experience, the experience of the personal God whom she knew before, during and after Ravensbrook in the decades of her ministry following the war: He can reach down so far there is no further to go. Nothing is too hard.
Now her own release was evidently a result of a mistake on the part of the Germans: not so on the part of the Almighty. Her release enabled the vision, so strongly forwarded by her sister, a victim of Ravensbrook who after callous treatment of her physical weakness, succumbed - to be fulfilled. Indeed, her sister's vision was fulfilled in a grand international and buoyantly obvious style, as thousands were helped by Corrie's patient works of rehabilitation, teaching forgiveness and being forgiven in and through the Redeemer, the only Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
He had continued when Hitler was done. Indeed, we might add, the might of Hitler, so grossly disproportionate in character as it seemed, to that of Corrie ten Boom in her incarceration, confinement and humiliation, ended in his suicide and her release. He ceased to afflict the earth; but Corrie continued to bring, in Christ Jesus' name, a blessing to many. We count it strength to endure; and in this case, her experience in the long hours of her life, her observation of the fulfilment of prayers and the continuity of the companionship of Christ, His morals unchanged, His grace always sufficient - it was this: it was His strength which so enabled her.
That is lesson number one from Ravensbrook. His power is sufficient in all circumstances.
The second lesson appears to be this: the sister, Betsie, died under duress (but not without the love and closeness of her sister, Corrie, not without hope, without vision, not without constructive plans for the future, plans which in essence were to be realised in the grandest manner).
Thus one Christian was delivered amidst suffering, to declare the power of God, to implement vision, be given victory and help others to victory: to proceed in Christ's love and through his sovereign power in the midst of any circumstance, to find the hurt and to help them, and with his believing pilgrims, his disciples, testify of Him.
This, pitying and praying for the bullying guards, considering their end and state, which illustrates for the contemporary world, the wonder of Christ. This practically illustrates the wonder of Christ.
In her sufferings, there was highlighted the grace and love of Christ. It was shown in this aspect, as well as in the other, in integrity and for all to see. Both sisters wished to serve Christ: one did in word and work, the other not lest in suffering, pity and forgiveness. Paul put it that he was filling up what remained of the sufferings of Christ, clearly in that he was practically demonstrating the reality of the love of Christ, in seeking and in the way he sought, in Christ's name, to bring full, free and perfect salvation to sinners (Colossians 1:13 with 1:24-29, cf. Philippians 1:29).
What of such suffering ? First of all, for the Christian, it is willing. (Acts 5:41). Nothing then can banish this, debase it: if the heart believes, though the furnace blaze, the grace is sufficient, the thing endures, the grandeur is not lost.
That is the second lesson. Important ? So important that, in the case of Betsie, this is very close to that of Job (consult Bible book of that name). His suffering was explicitly allowed in order, using his integrity, to demonstrate to the accuser, that in his sincerity and not opportunistically, he loved God. It was not for gain that he was godly.
Thus, to take the case of Corrie who also suffered, though not then to death: before she was in prison, someone who was an onlooker of her life reflected or received the testimony that Corrie was contented. Very well, that content was not a mere function of a stable and spiritual home, parental love and security and so on. Poor and harassed people cannot, then, with any justice look at the blessings of being godly at the simply human level, and say: Oh yes, if I had all that, I would be godly too. And again, the mouth and folly is exposed which would have said: if she were to suffer, then she would cease her "godliness". She did (suffer) and she didn't (cease her godliness).
Nor is it for the exceptional alone. Many were shown to be seeking and finding the Lord in those horrific conditions; and even amidst them, qualitatively, the ten Boom's could testify to this, that they lived continually in a kingdom of grace and love and forgiveness (*28), which no horror could invalidate, over-rule, blot out, even from their hearts. They were, in the end through His grace, impervious, kept by His power, accorded His presence, living with God in such a way that the world did not control them, could not dictate to them, was not as real to them as was its Maker; nor were they impractical; rather empowered by, through and for God.
The history of the human race is multiform and manifold: such trials and demonstrations as these are not lost. As the world watches sport and often makes sport of religion, experiences and testimonies like these become one more, a practical, experiential and qualitative verification of the promises of the Bible.
Such things are only some of the results of such things as Ravensbrook: another one? It is this. In such exhibitions of Christian strength and composure, there is a rebuke to the tinny, the tinsel glamour of wild-eyed human systems; one by one, yes from the days of the persecutions by gladiator and lions, by making Christians suffer by being tarred and used as amphitheatre lights, through the Roman Catholic Inquisition and to this day, the spirit is there, the courage endures, the testimony continues. The passing parade of the unstable philosophies of man, and their political counterparts, so many 'WRONG WAY' follies in the very face of the light of Christ, are shown by contrast, both in principle and in practice, to be unstable, vapid and vaporous, follies without logical or practical power or value.
The precious and inspired words of Job echo throughout the vault of history, and it is timely to hear them (Job 19), set to music from Handel. We can imagine Corrie's feelings and the thrust of joy in her faith, when liberated from her task of suffering; and how often Christians find just this, whether in faith after trial or by faith within it, as timelessly expressed by Job (Ch.19), and in part heard from "The Messiah":
"I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last upon the earth;
and after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
that in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!"
When man will not cease what brings corruption, then Christ suffered that man might be rendered incorruptible (cf. I Corinthians 15:22-24, 50-54); knowing this, that IF we died with Him, we shall also live because of Him ... if we are faithless, He remains faithful: He cannot deny Himself" ( II Timothy 2:11ff.). If people deny Him, HE also will deny them!
28 For Kingdom of Heaven, refer Index
29 EXTENSION on: THE TRINITY. (See also Chapter 7, Section 4, pp. 532-560 infra.)
God is One.
That is one of the basic premises of our earlier demonstration; and Paul in Romans 1:18-19 notes that this is manifest, His divine power and nature.
To some, the mode of His existence, the form in which He consists is subject to a priori ideas: that is, they simply assume He must be like this or like that. Not only is this assumption, it is also a matter of a personal kind, since God is a person; thus it quickly becomes presumption. If you told me how I think, what my motives are, how I resolve things, based on your own ideas, that too would be presumption. Christ's judge not! has much to do with this (Matthew 7:1). There are areas beyond our sure knowledge; and if this applies between one of us and another, how much more is it the case when the Person is the Almighty!
It may seem nice to some, that God would be unable to have company in Himself, that He should be conceived as a sort of isolate. This to them might satisfy some inner desire for the design of God: I say 'design', for that is what it then becomes, the design for Him! of some human thinker...
Now His works show the minimum He can be; but His form and thoughts are His own wholly. That, we have reasoned, is one constraint forcing us to realise that if He had not spoken, we could not know whether we could be or how we could be forgiven, or in what way to co-operate.
Thus, in divulging (for God is a Spirit as has been shown from the first) how He exists and what He thinks, God tells us. Even among ourselves, it is so; much more so with One whose form is hidden from our eyes, being spiritual.
If then God tells us that His form does provide internal communication, is this a matter for chagrin or surprise! After all, if it did not do so, He would be so limited that we should, as a race, as a kind, have the advantage over Him! We should know something of fellowship, internal racial relations, communication, consultation, the exuberance of mutual involvement and so on, but He would not! He would have to make us, to learn this most basic datum.
It would, then, be a strange desire on he part of any man that God should have a design which excluded such things, a capricious insistence as well as a presumptuous insistence on the part of any man... to so denude the Almighty as to render us in this, His superiors, rather than containers of what He donated, expressing in created form, something of the uncreated love.
It would also involve that of necessity He would have to learn what He did not know, when He created our august... race; and that would show a design deficiency in Him, since this is a mode of fellowship among our own kind, and there is but one of Him! Potential in Him would be realised through us; not just action in His character, but development of it. As shown elsewhere, potential implies its placement in a system, and this in turn, implies the placer and maker of the system, who then would be God.
For God to have to learn such an ingredient of life would be to make Him circumscribed; but by whom! Since He is God, nothing can circumscribe Him, condition or limit Him. It would be both, therefore, a bizarre and an inconsistent wish to have God without internal consultation, communication, counsel and fellowship.
When we read the Bible, as in Isaiah 48:16, Zechariah 3:8, Psalm 45, Colossians 1, Exodus 20, Ephesians 4:4, Revelation 1 and so on, we find two things very quickly. God is one and God is not unitary. One is the number of gods there are; and singularity is not the way He exists. He is not a community, it is true; He is not a society, very surely. He is what He is, as He says. We have to learn the mode of existing and consisting, what we are told of the nature of God in His form.
He is an internal fellowship, for the Son has fellowship with the Father and the Father has fellowship with the Son, and the Spirit proceeds from both, as John 15 exhibits. Our society is based, as is indeed our capacity to hold counsel within ourselves (yes, give exhortations to ourselves), on a potential for fellowship of one kind; and God's form provides for a fellowship of another, but not wholly dissimilar kind. We are not infinite; He is. We are in His image, but He is neither biological nor multitudinous, like us. His form of fellowship from eternity is one of a being who is one being, whose consisting is always a collaboration of personalities, persons who differ nothing in nature, but differentiate significantly in function.
One expresses, one is the expression; one sends, one is sent; one is the speaker, to use that form, one is the spoken. Now we speak and have what is spoken; but in the Eternal One, His expression is a lively person. He does not initiate His speech, for that being is always present. we, being created and partial, do initiate our speech. God's speech to us may be sent; but the full expression of God, this is part of what He is, is never sick, does not die, never ages and is in involvement with the Father in a way so ageless and intimate, as requires knowledge of God to begin to understand.
WE are prepared to discover new coastlines; we do not pre-specify their contour; and we must logically be ready to discover the form of God! In the Bible, He tells us what we need to know. In this, there is no slightest difficulty of reason; it is simply that, if in other things how much more in this, it could not have predicted it. In the end, God must be known. Our purpose is to show where He is to be found; the finding follows, and is a personal rather than a merely logical step. Logic exhibits where the truth is found; it is God who provides it!
We have looked at some of our perceptions, rendered possible by our construction as 'image-bearers' of God, correlatives at the derivative level, in terms of fellowship and company. Now we shall consider some of the things we have in interpersonal relationships which relate more to authority and representation.
This, in ascending order, we could have a representative (like an M.P.), or an ambassador (one of many which a country may field), or a special envoy (sent, for example by a President entirely to represent him in a land, or for an issue in process or in progress), or a brother, as in some companies, Smith Brothers, where there is not merely the combination of talent, but of genetic background, family background, emotional background, background in many toils and adventures and intimate acquaintance, each with the other's actions, motives and involvements. This may be somewhat limited; but often it is comparatively open, and the more so, as the brothers are pure in heart, honest in intention, clear in industry and fortified by common ideals.
Beyond this, perhaps, there is the representation of a son. In this case, an aged king has a young prince. Not merely was the prince carried in his arms when young, not alone has he shared many things, the father has tenderly considered and construed and sought to give a good completion to the young man's education, providing for his house to come and seeking with singular attention his good in all things. Not only does the son share (it may be, and where there is integrity and truth, it may well be) his father's ideals, but the father has tended to nurture the son's perceptions of these things. A tenderness of involvement tempered by an awareness of the young man's individual identity and responsibility plays upon the scene, like the flickering of the flames of a fire. Friendship may also contribute, and shared dangers and overcomings.
Each has watched the other: the one, as one developing, the other as one contributing to that development and meeting his own challenges and confrontations without.
When then, in such a case (and it is true we are, and advisedly are construing the case where such a natural and supernatural harmony exists, as it indeed may) the father sends the son to war, or to work, or to a mission, there is more, far more than is the case in the sending of an ambassador or even a special envoy or legate.
There is something of the father in the son; there is no mere fortunate harmony or at any rate harmonisation of elements of ideals and purposes and points or view or perspectives: no, there has been a formative involvement, a prizing of things together, a sharing of both perceptions and of energies which anoints the matter.
The son, in such a case, represents the father in heart and in strength and in ideal. He is becoming, as we describe this special case, a natural case if only people would follow the truth together, more and more of an image of the father.
Now there will be diversities, of course; and as well that this is so. For the father, in the earthly case, is both partial and special. But in the area of the divine, the Father is wholly the source of all creation, and the Son is wholly and eternally involved in the Father, as a person who embraces and displays the Father, involved in all His works, such as creation (John 1; Ephesians 3:9).
Thus, in the Trinity, where gender is irrelevant, for ''they neither marry nor are given in marriage''- the angels; and God Himself, He is Spirit: there is the eternal companionship, the everlasting sharing, the ever young realities and there are the ever old relationships. It is not sequential but operational. It is this Son, this Word, this Lord (Zechariah 3:8) who is sent, appointed and anointed for the task of being on earth the Messiah, the Christ, the plenipotentiary and prince through whom the Father is seen, so that He who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9). This is the character of the Biblical exposé, exposition and expression of the state and stature, the form and function of the Son, of whom it most understandably says: "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does no have life" (1 John 5:12).
That is why Peter's illumination by which he was able to see the revelation of Christ's position and office (Matthew 16:13, 16-17) was so crucial that Christ would build His Church upon it (Matthew 16:18). The 'petros' or stone as Peter was there called, would be used as an expressive medium, Peter would be a testifying witness.
This is what must be seen (cf. John 6:40, Matthew 16:17), Christ as He is, providing salvation, for faith to be focussed on the right object, on God via reality, not via obscuration or distortion. This, the Son is the only one (John 3:16) and no other way, of course, is even conceivable (John 14:6, cf. John 10:8, Matthew 24:23, 24, 27, 31, Galatians 1:6-9, Revelation 22:18, noting "these things"); for we are dealing with God as He is; and only as He is may He be received with any value by man (cf. John 4:23). Even a medicine is not useful in pretence, whatever words and labels may be used. It is the reality which matters, it alone, in the truth. Placebos do not perform what only the power of God can do.
The 'Petra' (a different word), 'living rock', on which Jesus Christ said He would build His church is not 'petros', 'a stone', Peter... who in addition, in that very context and on that very occasion, proceeded to seek to dissuade Christ from dying on the Cross - basic Gospel, being rebuked, "Get behind me Satan", because of the temptation he was forwarding, the error he at once committed, at the highest level! No, nothing like that was the Petra, the rock on which the church was built. It would have been dead long ago if that were its base. The words applied to Peter, petros stone, and to the foundation of the church, petra, rock, diverge in form and basic meaning: ignoring words and their meaning is no way to interpret them - as contextually dramatised!
Rock, petra, the church's stated foundation (cf.1 Corinthians 3:11) and Peter Petros, the words denote the Biblically immovable Christ, God, and verbally and factually movable Peter. It is what Peter saw and said, which, as Jesus pointed out, itself came by revelation from God, which is the crucial truth. There is available for man's salvation (cf. Introduction vii, supra, and index under 'rock') no other rock and God says so (II Samuel 22:31-33, Psalm 62:1-2, Isaiah 44:9, 26:4 in 1:20, Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 18:30, I Corinthians 10:4, 3:11). This is the foundation of the church, and God says so. Woe to the man who puts himself or his church or his will or his views or his ideologies or philosophies into that place ... reserved for the Son, whom to have is eternal life (I John 5:12) whom to know, Him and His Father, is eternal life (John 17:1). As Christ said, "If God were your Father you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself but He sent Me" - John 8:42.
Blessed is the man who knows the Lord: the man who, with John (l John 1:1-4) can savour the reality of knowing the Son and living thereby that eternal life which was with the Father and which was revealed to us. Thus "he who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him" (1 John 5:1); and such remain the very children of God (1 John 3:9). As Christ said, He shared the glory with the Father before the world was (John 17:3); but God will share this with no one who is not the eternal and uncreatedGod (Isaiah 42:8). Seize it then? Those who 'take' it, take but air. Those who take those who take it, take but a snare. Those who take the Son have thus and therefore the Father;... God himself bearing testimony that He is the only rock, over and over, He is the One He expects us to rest on (Father and Son, cf. Isaiah 11:10, Matthew 11:28), He the everlasting Rock, He, the eternal God is our refuge (Deuteronomy 33:27), "the sure foundation laid in Zion" (Isaiah 28:16)... (See Index: 'Rock', 'Peter' and 'Petra'.)
To contest this, to contest His own place and prerogative, it is merely to request the destruction, of an avalanche, which crushes to powder (Matthew 21:44)!
This is the Biblical testimony concerning the Trinity in the facet of function... the salvation of men, and this is how and why it is utterly crucial to deal with that Son who shows the Father and not to add to or subtract, and in following Him, to put confidence in none other (Matthew 23:8-10).
Love embraces broadly, but faith rests on the Lord; for salvation is of the Lord as Jonah testified after his frightful fears were gone, and he was delivered (Jonah 2:8-9, Psalm 3:8, Revelation 5:9, 12, 13, 7:9).
Faith rests on nothing else but the Lord Himself (Jeremiah 17:5 ff., Acts 4:11-12), in Him whose goings are from everlasting (Micah 5:1-3); and it accepts the appointed, anointed, everlastingly co-equal Word who portrays with precision the Father (Hebrews 1:1-3). It is He who is the outshining of His glory, who always is His word (John 1:1-4), to whom Thomas says, "The God of me", or "My God" (John 20:28), of whom the scripture says, "Thy throne, O God" (Hebrews 1:8), who came to earth (Colossians 1:19-21), filled with all the fulness of God, in bodily form (Colossians 2:9) so that He could chide the unbeliever - "If God were your father, you would love me for I proceeded and came forth from Him" (John 8:42) - saying indeed, "before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58, Exodus 3:14): Deity available (John 14:9).
30 One further element, which follows from the others, is this. If it were felt that God, the Almighty, the Creator had in fact not spoken, not merely would it be contrary to the justice which is from Him, who made all things in their relationships as they ought to be; not merely would it similarly conflict with His truth, by which all reality has an owner and a word. Not only would justice and truth lie dead, while injustice and lies and fraud abounded. (Cf. Isaiah 59:14-15, and the divine sequel in 59:16-19, as to judgment, and Isaiah 51:16 as to remedy. Here the scripture also implies by revelation, and concerning revelation, that to which we have reasoned in terms of His manifest, divine nature.) If, then, God had not spoken, while the world remained as it is, then God would also be insulted by the very thought that He would remain inactive in speech to direct and resolve the problems in His world, leaving in silence the insolence and madness of man, assaulting and offending each one the other.
It is not only blasphemy, that is a misuse of the very character of His glory; it would also be a denigration, a travesty and a direct personal offence so to speak or to think. A problem out of the power of God! a problem in the very world which He created, out of His depth, beyond His scope, when He had freely created all things, the whole set of abilities and of circumstances for all created life! It would be like telling a film star that she had no face, or a financier that he had no funds, or a real estate agent that he would not know a house if he saw one!
The concept that He would be willing, moreover, to let be such folly and filth, such wilful, wanton pain as we have just seen in Kuwait and with the Kurds, when, having a solution, He did not use it, this would be like telling a social hostess that she couldn't care less if her guests starved!
Thus there is not only the metaphysical madness of such assertions, such views, such positions: there is also the moral assault on God which is involved. If, indeed, we his creatures would be amazed at the madness of anyone suggesting such things about us, how much more should we be ashamed even to think such things about God, who gave us the power to think and the knowledge with which to know (cf. Psalm 94:8-11).
A solution He has indeed shown; and man, willing to move the blame for undoubtedly high-level immorality and actual agony, often sustained, onto God, wants Him a dumb dog, lying down and snoozing. Thus we, whom He created, are active, we think, we look for solutions, we can feel the horror of so much pain for others... but He, who made our hearts and our feelings and our moral thoughts in the beginning (however we misuse this equipment, yet it is there, in our hearts, however spoiled, leaving its residue at the worst), He does not feel ? God who made the heart, does He not feel? God who made the mouth, does not speak ? God who made the mind, does not think? To ask is to answer.
We have elsewhere traced the impossibility ontologically, the frank contradiction in having the all-powerful author of justice and ground of truth needlessly allowing flat and continual contradiction, when merely to apply His power removes the problem by removing the people who make it! Now we dwell on the incredible cheek, the irrational implicit assumptions on which any such notion is built.
The solution is available; has been shown from the first, predicted for centuries, performed by Jesus Christ, published, proclaimed and preached for thousands of years concerning this same Jesus Christ, concerning whom no one has been able to show even one sin, and of whom even Muhammad had to admit the righteousness. To suggest that God has not spoken when His word circles the earth, His predictions noticeably control the whole direction and character of history, uniquely and utterly, and His Son went to the pain and anguish of bearing the sins of those who will forsake their own: this is to sustain, reinforce and add to the insults of the Cross, the calumnies of Calvary, the madness of the priests. It is to stand, arrogant and upright, in the presence of love, and call it hate or indifference; it is to look, princely and pure, at one's Creator and call Him dumb; compassionate and sensitive (courtesy of being created by one's Creator) and to call Him heartless... this while all the time, ignoring the solution which He has constructed, the sacrifice which He has made, the pardon which is so needed, but so ignored.
What is it like ? It is like prisoners in a prison, cut-throats, immoral and dead in spirit, raging at their victims, buried as a result of their crimes against them. Thus Jesus Christ was made a sin-offering to take the burden, the blight and the bane of sin from all who come by faith to receive Him. But He is not dead, and this insult to the moral nature of God is similar to the studious blindness which also slanders His power, by which His people have for centuries lived, their hearts in His peace and their persons alight with His love and presence.
It is therefore one more sin, that God is so 'sentenced', as C.S. Lewis phrases it, God in the Dock, at the hands of man, His judges. But let us add this: He is being 'sentenced' by those sinners to whom He is offering pardon, who are meanwhile slandering His sacrifice and sentencing themselves. In their hearts, truth is contaminated twice: once by sin, and then by sneering at its solution! For all this, the Bible has provided.
31 It is unwise and indeed the utmost in arrogant presumption if derivative man, with unmoored mind, man who does not accept the specific, identified and rationally necessary revelation of God, comes to pontificate on 'truth', on the reality of things.
Will a conditioned or limited man, reacting and being able to do only what has been given him to do, erect himself as a founder of truth, a source of criticism of the God who made his little mind ? Will a cog discuss the design with the designer ? Will a man without the revelation of God, tell Him what it would be ? Will man show God His own mind!
Will a limited and sinful man without knowledge of absolute truth, even as a perspective, say that something is absolutely true, or work on bases and ideas as if they were valid and worth arguing from, when he does not yet have the knowledge of absolute truth, on which to start and on which to proceed: either not knowing God, or if knowing something of that, not believing it; or in any case, not having access to this absolute truth in the mind of God, who speaks when He will, as He will...
The case is hardly improved if man does not believe there is such a thing as absolute truth, while making various statements in which such a property is assumed to inhere, or presumed to be possible! Surely the Primary School student is scarcely guilty in his first beginnings of such enormities, through sheer immaturity, as beset the mind of mature man, through rebellion. (Cf. Ch.s 3-4; pp. 292-315, 934-936 esp., infra.)
Will a relative man tell absolute truth to absolute God, without the speech of that God? If man will presume against the thoughts of his fellow man, will he presume also against those of God (cf. Isaiah 7:13, 44:24-26): or will man with a panache of delusive power presume to tele-psychiatrise God, construing by his candle power the brilliance of the thought of the infinite and all-knowing God! Here has paranoia its perfection, here irrationality rules.
1. Thus Surah IX.27 also has this: ''Fight against such of those to whom the scriptures were given as believe neither in God nor the last Day ... and do not embrace the true faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued.''
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