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GOING WITH GOD
THE CHRISTIAN ABIDING: THE LORD PRESIDING
The Brighter Way for the Declining Day
As Mercy Kisses Judgment,
The Cradle of the Gospel is Love
and the Child Grows in Power
Many are they who dispute, derogate or want to prune love. Man has become sick with it, they say, in an indulgent, permissive, self-loving, self-indulgent morass of pseudo-morals; and he needs the strength and substance of old-fashioned, and they say, biblical rigour and justice to make him move like something worth-while again.
They are not entirely wrong. They are not entirely right. They become a reactionary force to a reactionary force, and the muddle tends to be like muddy pools for dogs, caking the legs of the beautiful hounds with drying slush, and their undercarriage with dirt.
Such fashions and fads can be more than unpleasant, or a mere encumbrance however. The Roman Catholic stress on judgment and thus on the Church as a means of escape and hence as a medium for pardon and in supreme unction a safe bet, or at least provision for a good ride away from hell, at least in a multi-stage journey through purgatory: this was baneful enough. It substituted Church in all this, for Christ, who even allegedly became a wafer to be moved about by priests, making quite clear where the power lay. He was being USED. Purgatory was invented (Romans 8:1, John 5:24, Romans 8:29ff.). A fabrication was invented instead of the body of Christ, with HIM ONLY as its head (Matthew 23:8-10 cf. SMR pp. 911ff., 1032-1088H).
Their underlying stress on judgment, however, though perverted into this kind of procession and elevation of the priesthood (versus Hebrews 7:25, 9:12-10:14, as if Christ were not good enough to be given in its entirety the new role in replacing all sacrifice which is accorded Him here, this part at least, was not entirely without some basis. It IS true that when you consider the Gospel, the JUDGMENT of God is small cause for jubilation for those who simply stand and stare which, while it may be nice when you have a magnificent landscape before you, is not quite the right response when your life is facing condemnation by its Maker.
Stare all you will, there is still the bill. God will by no means acquit the guilty, says Nahum !;3, and Paul declares in Romans 3:25 that Christ has been set forth as a propitiation through His blood. ONE offering, ONCE made by His own action (John 10): this is the case, not many, not with priests, not with Church control, but with ONE Master.
Yet though Romanism sets out a false doctrine of priest and mass and offering, which bypasses the ONLY ONE who ONLY ONCE performed the sacrifice, with blood and with suffering at that, because THIS ONLY is authentic, the judgment MUST be borne. Though those who profess to cover it wrongly, are astray and promote peril, whatever may be their intention, yet covered it MUST BE. It is not merely simpler, but functional to have it covered in the way which God offered, does offer and will offer until the time for the acceptance of His offer is past (II Corinthians 5-6).
PROPITIATION, says Paul in Romans 3:25, is required!
What however IS a propitiation ? It is a wrath-cooling submission in order to placate, to remove WITH GOOD GROUND the fires of wrath. What wrath ? The wrath of God, the inspired apostle writes in Romans 1:17, is revealed from heaven. THAT is part of the revelation which constitutes the Gospel of grace! In John 3:36, we learn that to avoid and ignore or bypass this grace, this divine and focussed grace, this grace of the Gospel in the Lord Jesus Christ, only salvation, express image of God, the Word of God made flesh, is to ABIDE.
In what are you then to abide ? You abide in the wrath of God, or to be precise as to the formulation in John for any such person, "the wrath of God abides on him" ... With what result ? This: such a person "will never see life". This is the alternative fitting for what finds no favour for faith, no credence for Christ, no place for the grace of God and no foundation in the Gospel. But what does Paul declare in I Corinthians 3:11 ? It is this, that there no other other foundation that any can lay, than what is laid, and that ? It is Jesus Christ.
In what way, Jesus Christ ? In this way: Christ crucified, yes, rather risen from the dead. In what way risen ? Risen in our dreams, in the thoughts of the disciples in hazy, lazy and confused dreaming ? Did they lie their way into hell, or pretend their fictitious faith into agony of life, that the One who PERFORMED in all things by the power of God, might be disgraced by their evil antics, and did they dig the pit for themselves in a lavishment of lies to make Stalin seem a saint ?
Not at all. They spoke the staggering truth: but yet, not quite so staggering when you realise (as in Ch. 5 above), that this was foretold in considerable detail for a millenium before it happened, and in great detail for some 7 centuries before it would occur! They COULD NOT BUT speak it, as John and Peter declared, for which is better, to obey God or man! (Acts 3 and 4).
Into the grave went Christ, as Paul declaims in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and out of it came Christ. His Spirit was not buried. It was His body. You don't even NEED a tomb for a spirit to have its burial ground; nor is a tortured body oozing blood by any rational means to be confused with a spirit in its beauty, being meaninglessly interred into the earth, so that one comes with spices, as ladies did, in the third day to anoint it. You do not anoint spirits with oils and perfumes.
What commanded their attention was the ABSENCE of the body, and the words which echoed in their hearts were these, Why do you seek the living among the dead ? He is not here, but risen. What is risen ? Let us examine the text.
"And they entered in, and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said to them,
'Why seek ye the living among the dead?
He is not here, but is risen:
remember how he spoke to you when he was yet in Galilee, saying,
"The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
and be crucified,
and the third day rise again." '
"And they remembered his words ... " (Luke 24:3ff.).
What had risen ?
What had fallen.
What had fallen ? The normal human equipment: it is called the body.
Why was His body not there ? Because as stated, it had risen. What prevented the intended ministrations which the women had been expected to make to the body ? It was the rising of the body. Why were they amiss ? It was because they were looking into a tomb with the expectation of finding a body, but it was not there: hence their action could be, and in fact was characterised as SEEKING FOR THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD.
A tomb is for the dead, the body in particular; for that is where it is laid. The body was not in this expected position, this being the only residue of Jesus Christ, in their potential possession. Why was it not there, and why these women were mistaken in the direction and site of their search ? It was because this body, unlike the norm, did not reside in its due place among the dead. Instead, it had another due place, that is, among the living. WHY did it have such a due place ? It was because, instead of continuing to lie there, being no more a corpse, but equipment of one living, it walked away. Why did it walk away ? Because, to repeat, a tomb is NOT the place for the living and He, being alive, so displaced Himself.
Such is the need in view of the profusion of what is close to an inanity of unbelief, as people try, those such as Jude describes at length, and Paul in Acts 20, to ignore the obvious, as though EVEN WHEN the angel spoke (had they been the women), they would look puzzled and perhaps walk away. Why ? Alas, the biblical analysis and the sight of the eyes is clear: BECAUSE THE OBVIOUS WAS UNACCEPTABLE! That, as far as God is concerned, is precisely the nature of unbelief, and Christ, citing Isaiah, underlined this fact as in Matthew 13:15.
The case was as so often, clouded into a virtually visionless blackness;
"for the hearts of this people," He said, "have become gross.
Their ears are hard of hearing and their eyes they have closed."
What is more bereft of intelligible light than eye-lids as the view for the closed eye!
Not only, however, was the body displacement as reported, clear to the women on the day of His resurrection, but they faithfully relayed the data (Luke 24:8-10). Peter and John determined to test the amazing report of body-gone, angel present, and message confirmatory of the cause. They ran to the tomb.
Thomas however was in militant mood and mode. He was not there when Christ came to the meeting of apostles on the Sunday evening. The news disturbed his clamorous soul.
Of precisely what, then. did Thomas DEMAND proof of,
in his doubting cast of mind, mood or mode ? He had heard of the resurrection,
but only from the other disciples ? Of what did he defiantly demand
confirmation, since he had been absent on the day of the resurrection, when
Christ called not only on the disciples, but on those who took him for a normal
stranger visiting Jerusalem and had a meal with Him ? (Luke 24:13ff., 24:39) ?
Thomas demanded no glamour. Realist Thomas wanted visible verification, not some talk and form of sight, some relay. He wanted tangible body, not the sight of another. There was Jesus Christ, there was talk, no body did he see! It is hard to see when you are not present at a sight. But when God is involved, there are no limit. Genuine faith can call and expect (Mark 11). Personal experience must, cried he, be supplemented by individual probing. Nor was this to be merely peripheral.
In fact, literally, to believe he would want to poke his fingers in the holes in the body, to ensure that the biological thing was still there and could justly be said to have risen. To do this, he wanted opportunity. Now as you see especially in Isaiah 41 and 48, God actually INVITES you to test the unique and certain power He has to bring knowledge both of future and past, as testimony to His identity. A challenge was precisely right, provided it was for fact and not as a scurrilous search for mockery. The purpose of the information was confirmation of the doubting, inspiration of the seeking. Could He not, with such beauties of kindness in the way of prophetic data, also provide first-hand evidence to an apostle ? one repining and pining for it , but unimpressed without direct contact.
Thus when Christ came next, on the next first day of the week, this being the clearly established meeting time for the disciples, like an anniversary, as one might have for the Twin Towers, or the end of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th month in the 11 day of it; except that the day being a weekly occurrence, there was a weekly recognition: Thomas had Someone to meet!
So when it was on this first day of the week that they met, and there, as by appointment, was Christ and there was Thomas; and when the former invited the latter to do some poking of fingers in order to facilitate faith, opportunity outdistanced doubt, and the frank realities confirmed to the investigative disciple, the folly of his doubt. Did Christ EVER fail ? Had He not in word and deed for years ALWAYS used His power to demonstrate His identity and illustrate His compassion and supply need ? Would He now allow His friends to be abused by error! Thomas was overwhelmed by the simple obviousness of it all, now that he saw. The Lord of me and the God of me (literally, but in Greek idiom, this is My Lord and My God, the 'the' being prominent and dominant)! He exclaimed (John 20:28).
YOU HAVE SEEN, Jesus told Thomas; but blessed are those who not having seen, yet believe; and that principle of blessing includes billions who have the eyes of logic, the heart for faith and who bow at evidence and this with joy, when it means eternal life; for this increasingly deathly race, its very genes degrading at a great rate, as we learn*1, is more in need of eternity than of Mars or any other flamboyant whim. Our design is robust, but no design in a natural world can be expected to endue in this order of being, at any rate, for ever. You need a resurrection to remove the clammy hand of the second law of thermodynamics.
Thus it is NOT ONLY in Jesus Christ crucified that the Gospel rests, for that expiation and exhibition in agony of the terrible truth concerning our sins, and the fact that they arouse wrath and cause judgment in truth! It not only here that it is sourced. First, indeed, it is true that the depth of our depravity must be realised; for our sins are far more than 'mere' incidents but LIVES lived apart from the sustaining, directive and dynamic power and peace of the Lord who made them. Such is the case unless and until we be converted in the Gospel of grace, to the Lord Jesus Christ!
The total extent of Christ's triumph and impact must also be realised. Then it must be practised, as with Thomas, not with diffident hope, but with certain faith.
Sins killed, anguish echoed, horror unburdened itself on Christ on the Cross; but even this, it was and is only part of the regimen. This directive power and vitality of the grace of God is not words only, and it is not assertion merely, nor is it simply as a spectacle that it operates, though it provides one. It is not for this alone that it is sent.
It was lodged in man, Christ incarnate deity (John 1:14, Philippians 1, Romans 8:1-5). He thus took the format of one of our race, though remaining what never changes, Godhead (Hebrews 13:8).
The depth of our misplaced mission, of our sin, was indeed proclaimed through this same Messiah, and attested by His empowered grace AS man towards man, by contrast, and by purity.
Even this, however, it is not all. While the sin is as foretold in its impact on Him, by ruthless unruliness and lustful crushing, yet that is the start.
THEN, it is overcome by divine power.
Death in the end is the final abortion of life, and
But resurrection is the final answer to its
The point of the power is personal, it is precise. It is visible, it is enacted. It is wrought in what we use all our lives on this earth: THE BODY,
Moreover, it is taught through the same, as Christ taught for the 40 days before He left the globe of this malevolence, with the next phase just this: restoration to rule.
The interim ? It is that of the GOSPEL of grace (Matthew 24:14). How many and how lustful are those nations which erect dictators, or suffer them, and are moved to this or that false hope in foolish take and ludicrous conundrums, whether stuck in national militancy, racial superiority, better genes, more genius, contra-evidential theories or the like! INTO this time for the Gospel, before the bodily resurrected Christ, having done all, judges all, there has been play, grotesque play, killing millions through the heady irrationalities of potent dreamers!
This interim for the propagation of the Gospel is a marvel; for though surging through much history, it involves a mere couple of days in Peter's terms for this kind of action (II Peter 3:9). But WHAT a couple of days are these two millenia, and with what venom and foulness has the fiend of hell, with many human minions, sought to 'liberate' man from the power by God, the Gospel of grace, with miserable deceptions!*2
In this interim, then, what is its context ? It is what Christ took, the site in which He experienced death and delivered resurrection, the body; and it is the operative marvel which concocts logic and works with observation, the mind; and it is the wonder of imaginative originality and perception of perspective, and will, called the spirit: it is MAN.
It is billions of them, each one a marvel of construction, a site of drama.
This is the context for the application of the reality of the Gospel in Christ crucified, yes rather risen.
HIS is the power; this world is in doldrums and tempests, mental and physical, because it rejects the Gospel of grace AND divine power, reality and practicality, realism and operational sufficiency.
Bodies of men and women and children, with their minds and spirits, trilogies in glorious operation and horrendous misuse, whether in soaring pride or ruinous passion or debauchery: these are the context. Here is the appeal. Here is the impact. This is the place for redemption, bodies welded with minds and melded with spirits, bodies which can act on vision and knowledge and understanding, or on misunderstanding, wilful or otherwise: this is the field. The spirit of man is answerable to God, who having provided the answer. It is this living God who, having lodged notice of all that He would do for millenia, and having carried out, in detail and depth, the core of His plan already (Hebrews 7-10), equipped with the gift of eternal redemption, and inviting to it, adjudges the results.
The crucifixion and the resurrection have tied up the whole in a simple profundity, and the word of God presents this with an infallible demonstration and remonstration of divine power and love, all over again.
Judgment is thus as sure as was the crucifixion, lodged in order to make a path to avoid it, as one might have a little circuit in some other paddock, in order not to be where the raging bull lodges itself. "He MADE HIM to be sin for us," (that is, a sin offering, bearing sin), "that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him!" says the apostle (II Corinthians 5:21). There is a fair exchange, which as the children say, is no robbery.
We exchange our guilt, God's grounds for our condemnation according to TRUTH, for His innocence; and He exchanges our accounts in sin, which He quashes by His payment in the final deadly account settler, death. It is this which He has taken, for the reality of His righteousness is demanding and what is fallen cannot of itself, any more stand. It is this, HIS righteousness (Psalm 71:16), by transfer through the medium of His sufferings and the death in which they culminated, by the grant of grace, which He accords to us who believe, and SO receive it.
Receive it ? but of course, for believing is not a mere state of mind: it is the ground for action. If you believe that the bull is charging you when you forgot to take the little escape circuit around his paddock, and that in 5 seconds unless you move, you will be gored, the life in you does not reflect on a transfer of his momentum to you, and of this to your body, and reflect how nice it all would be to avoid this.
Instead, you move. That is faith's testimony.
To be sure, it is far deeper; but it is not mere shallow thinking. If you believe, you DO move, you act, you take what is offered and are grateful for it, and live by it, instead of dying. He lived that we might not die; but that if we do die, then we should be resurrected through and because of Him, in the day appointed (Acts 17:31, John 5:19ff., 11:25).
Thus has GOD acted, just as He did at the Exodus, and in the disciplines in the 70 year exile in Babylon, predicted by Jeremiah (Ch. 25), and the wonder of this same expiatory death of the Messiah (predicted for a date about AD 30, and thus fulfilled cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4). He acted yo provide the entire, multiple testimony of what the Gospel would be, as in Isaiah 49-55, and what Israel would do to the Messiah, as in Isaiah 49:7, coded in with detail in the succeeding chapters. No less did He indicate what would become of His own nation, which by its devious authorities, betrayed Him, starting with Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 24:1ff., Luke 21:24 cf. SMR Ch. 9).
He even provided the account of what the Gentiles would proceed to do (Matthew 24, Luke 21, II Timothy 3-4, I Timothy 4, Isaiah 60:9-10), and the sheer abundance in restored Israel of trees and flowers (Isaiah 55:13, 35:2), and the concentrate of events, in pattern form, which would be a prelude to His return (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). It is this which now rules in our contemporary history!
MAN MUST RESPOND
Man must respond. It does not help if man chooses to seek to inveigle God, by blaming Him, in any way. One way is to allege that He is partial to some, is lying when He declares that He is no respecter of persons, and that IF you just did not happen to be chosen, then there you are, in the hands of an indifferent God: so the shoulders are shrugged, a moue is put on the deceptive face, and the matter is left. If the bull charges, your legs are irrelevant. That appears to be the meretricious position in this self-deceit.
It does not really rhyme with reason. The concept that God is a liar is ludicrous, for He creates truth by His actions, and by His word, to make and to designate. What happens is what He wants, and there are no corners to turn, conditions to be met. To attack truth is to attack Himself, making of Him a self-in-conflict, which arises only when there are impediments, insuperable to will. That is the condition exclusively of what is made, which inherits what it inhabits, and is thus limited. But what ? Does someone imagine that God Himself might even play games for contentment in boredom, or for satisfaction in Himself or in His observations with others, games with the truth, twisting it! That would be to twist Himself, who alone decided what to do, and did it; and to be satisfied with the pangs of those to be deceived would argue an inadequacy in Himself, and hence the same creaturely status, so that we talk not of God but of a creation.
GOD IS THE TRUTH, and He does not vary. To vary is to become the thing of time, a portent in creation, a delimited object in an assigned system, where you HAVE to wait. God has no constraints, not is time relevant to His nature, character and situation. Into it, He pours what He wishes, makes it, uses it, deploys it, over-arches it; but it does not over-arch Him, the thing of His creation.
Playing with things in time to deny what He is beyond time is simply a self-contradiction, a reaching of a creation into the One who made it, with power to mutate. So to act for the Creator would be to mock in such a case, to mock Himself. Moreover, playing with conflict for pleasure, betokens joy deceit, since it is God who made it all, including the liberty provisions for man. Seeking conflict means dissatisfaction with peace, and that involves a status quo of a disequilibrium in kind, and hence one imbued with contrary aspects, a resurgence with reality, a collision. But with what does the Creator of all collide! There is for Him NOTHING ELSE, within, without, but WHAT HE MAKES, and makes with the whole of time under purvey!
There is no discovery, nor is there any lurking and unknown depth or dimension. There is nothing to entice, no self-deception. THAT is impossible, since it would mean a part of His being was subject to exclusion from truth, and that would be an imposition detrimental to His life, a being in thrall.
Again, if you know all, then you CANNOT mock truth, or be challenged, excited or sated by what is not truth. What is exciting ? what is known to be false. What is enticing ? what is known to be false ? That would signify a dissatisfaction with what is true, hence with Himself who made it, hence with His constitution, hence that it was a derived and imposed constitution, hence that the Being in question is not God.
But GOD, HE IS THE TRUTH, and to fight Himself is merely to be dissatisfied with it, whether in concept or past or prospect, and that is to imprison Him in time, the thing that MAKES you wait, which would once more constitute Him a mere creation, which is irrelevant, since then it is not about God that we talk.
As noted above, GOD IS THE TRUTH. Non-truth is not God, but an enemy; and satisfaction with non-truth, for oneself or another, is to be at enmity with God, the irresistible resource of reality, who neither denies nor fights Himself (infinite power would demolish, infinite power would resist - a mere contradiction in terms, signifying a change of subject from God to creation as always in such cases.)
Self-deception ? He knows what is the fact, that He planned it. If any such plan were ever to be made, He knows what would be the outcome of it, so that it would not even be possible to have self-deception! It would be like asking light to be dark, omniscience to be ignorant, irresistibility to be resisted. Such concepts instead of being puzzles, are mere imaginary conceptions in self-contradiction, like saying 1 is zero, and of no more significance than that of blow-flies buzzing in Summer.
Deceit when you KNOW, is hopeless. It does not even work. When you ARE the truth, pretence is impossible. To contradict truth is quite simply to be at war with oneself, when infinite, omniscient and omnipotent. That implies a donated, inscribed system to which one is bound, and such a being is mere creation, listed and turned out in a particular series of limitations and delimitations; hence not even relevant.
As noted in Calibrating Myths ... Ch. 6 (cf. Sparkling Life ... Ch. 4), the case is not against God but against the idolatrous misconceptions of man.
The Supreme Almighty Creator (SMR Ch. 1) cannot without contradiction of the concept per se, be inscribed, contained, by any immovable or directive system. Simply, the system is then his directive basis, and He would not be supreme, merely a manufacture of the mind of man. Nor can He be contained in machined premises, artfully constructed with the limitations of the mind of man, qualifying and calibrating Him this way or that. Against all such things, logic revolts, rationality wars and truth assails. Unlimited, He is One; unqualified He is yet what He is; unmoved, He is not removable; inexorable, He cannot be distanced, by means however artful; and though sin can distort His image, as on the Cross, as well as in the secular follies of self-contradictory philosophies, these can no more stand examination, than could death hold Christ (cf. Biblical Blessings Appendix IV, SMR Ch. 6).
As we have seen (SMR Ch.1, Repent or Perish Ch. 2), of God, He cannot lie (cf. Titus 1:3). This itself is not the result of such a system; but of its absence. If God could lie, He would be able to be internally self-contradictory – in verbal and executive powers – and as He is infinitely powerful, He would be obliterated. Since He is in fact necessary, immovable and immutable (SMR Chs. 1, 3, 10), this too is a self-contradiction, a conceptual non sequitur. Anything with irresistible forces compelling in opposite directions is not merely a contradiction in terms, for there cannot be two irresistibles in the same system in the same respect, but an equation with zero.
In fact, it is adverse and contrary to the minimal requirements demonstrated for the concept, for God indeed. In God is not such discord, such almighty war on His very self to extinction; for the existence of irresolvable antinomies (and they would be that if they had been MADE to be so) is an expression of incapacity, incoherence and non-unity, so exploding any such almighty being into incompetence. The contrary ‘natures’ would then be a mere creation, and God left without a nature, or rather without being at all; and since He is necessary this is a mere outré hypothesis, jargon without logical ground, verbosity without virtue, contrariety to the necessities established.
Indeed, to choose to make such war or to be subject to such constraints: the case is the same in this, that it puts the Almighty at odds doubly with what is imagined to be: by means of the action to create it so, and yet to desecrate it not so, backing both to the extinction of either. As each, however, is irresistible, the impossibility of the combination in view is apparent. God is truth, and what He says is to be believed, except one, being a creature, decides to lie, putting up one's tent in opposition to one's own Creator.
Such a flirtation with death may be appealing to man; it involves assault not only on the will of God, but on who He is. Is it so surprising that liars have troubles with conscience, memory, reputation and destiny! To put man's delimited potentials into the source of all potential without impotence, is both to mock and ludicrously to seek to mimic the Being whose power invents truth, whose Being constitutes it. He is not at war with Himself, but His plan suffers opposition to His own power beyond Himself, allowing lies in man, if that being so chooses, for his liberty. If liberty however allows this to men, judgment comments. Lies from man, He judges for the impertinence, while attesting the truth with sovereign inability to be deluded by any force whatsoever, of any imagined source or nature.
At this level, there ARE no such sources. At this level, lies are exterminated, delusive dreams, assaults on the work and word of God. Truth CANNOT be deluded. There is no power to achieve it. In heaven, a lie is meaningless, like saying on a clear Summer's morn, that the sky is black. It would be a special form of insanity. You COULD not persuade any. Deception can come only as the fruit of an evil spirit, to truth disinclined, at length aflame in judgment imposed (cf. II Thessalonians 2:10) as in fabrication composed.
For One Almighty, there is neither pleasure nor place for self-contradiction. When the whole heart of truth has gone into the creation of what one has done, its verbal displacement is merely war on one's very self, indicative of dissatisfaction and hence of a creaturely status. Nor is there room for such an event, when the action and the word being contrary, attest contrariety against each other and hence against reality, whatever might be the imaginary purpose.
Deceit and division are inseparable. It is not a physical but a spiritual matter. To counterfeit with word the action in deed is to divide two realms at war with each other. Who could sustain such a war ? the Almighty is not He, since it would put infinite power against infinite power, thus simply making reference to someone else. For the Almighty, self-war would be obliterative, and is impossible. It is merely additional that it would imply dissatisfaction of one self with the other, one realm with the other, collision of one with the other, and hence implies a created status of striving dissociates.
To lie is to deceive; and to deceive is the work of what does not have things the way desired, a resort of impotence for its own protection. Even a second, in such a situation, is failure for omnipotence. Even if a resort for pleasure, it would signify pleasure in departure from what such a One has done, and hence for One with all knowledge, and nothing to find out, dissatisfaction with what ultimately is. That, it is not then found good enough. Since in that case, it is God's very self that is held in such a case, this as always implies a creaturely status, where there is a 'self' which is distinct from the thrust of desire, a combination of creation kind, each aligned against the other, emplaced in contrariety, delimited.
With God, you have idolatrous misconceptions (if you worship), or truth. In that sense, it is good to worship the truth, knowing that this God, revealed in the ultimate exposure as Jesus Christ, contained in man's format, but being filled with grace and truth, inveterately right both in spirit and in word and deed. Hence no contradiction between word and deed, no inconsistency could ever be shown, however much enemies warred against Him when He was on the earth (cf. Matthew 22:46). God is not like that.
God never lies, nor can He (Titus 1:3 cf. Barbs 6 -7, Of the Earth, Earthy, or Celestial in Christ Ch. 14, *1 ). It is man who lies, and to attribute falsity to God is merely the ultimate anthropomorphism. It is quite useless trying to make God in your own image.
History, in fact, went the other way: GOD made man in HIS image, which is defiled by lust for greatness, peace, security, safety, self-will, self-congratulation, or whatever other idiocy of spirit may possess man who, preferring himself, avoids the living God and His Gospel of grace.
These things being so, it is simply an accounting error to expect God to be impressed with any allegation either that He is lying or that He is not trying. When He gave Christ as a propitiation for His wrath, as we read in Romans 3, and Galatians 3 for example, by the method shown in Isaiah 53 as fulfilled in the Gospels, time being no barrier to the knowledge of God, but only a potential one to our own, He did not do this because He wanted a few souls to snap to and wondered if they would. HE KNEW, and indeed it is only through Him that this is even possible!
Nor did He do it to condemn ANY, not any in the whole world. He SAYS SO in John 3:17. His purpose was to provide a sufficiency of grace so that WHOSOEVER believes, is saved (John 3:16); and this is wrought within a testified desire to avoid condemnation of the world on His part (John 3:17).Thus Colossians 1:19ff. shows that NEITHER IN EARTH NOR HEAVEN is there haven for pettishness. It was His godly good pleasure to RECONCILE ALL in BOTH these domains to Himself. It is man who lies, when he speaks to the contrary, and not God!
It is man's responsibility to respond. To be sure, sin smashes the integrity of his will, the objectivity of his mind, and to the 'natural' man, there is no escape here (I Corinthians 2:14); but when the Almighty declares what He is driving at, you may be sure He will reach securely the destination of His decision. In this case, it is that we should respond.
How then respond, whose very sickness involves alienation from His life! (Ephesians 4:17-19).
In this way, man is to respond, in the all-perceptive, all comprehending KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. SInce time is no barrier to His intelligence, nor block to His knowledge, this is wrought in FOREKNOWLEDGE. HE does not have to learn, courtesy of time; for time exists courtesy of God. Knowing His own as the apostle asseverates (Romans 8:29ff.), He calls and saves them.
The equation is the knowledge and desire of God (not to use force where love is, for that is a contradiction of terms, where ultimate outcome is in mind), this on the one side; and the rebellion and self-will of man sits on the other, with damaged desire brought to the fore. Knowing the realities, God acts on them and saves those who are His. It is not by some profound mystery of apparent contradiction that He acts, for His word is not writhed, self-contradictory, but right and truth (Proverbs 8:8). Nor is it inexplicable to man, for He there declares that it is all clear to the one who understands, and understanding is a gift by grace (Ephesians 1:17ff.).
What then is the result ? It is this. God seeks all, gains those for whom His side is not the preference, since darkness is found in HIS knowledge of their hearts and spirits, to be their preference. These, not being violated as to the image of God in them, as if they were mere draftees, but not being able to exhibit because of the compulsions of sin, what is their desideratum, are simply taken. He does not act without knowledge, nor does He know without action.
It is rather like someone drowning. Filled with apprehension, and various psychic tics, the drowning man may actually almost strangle his rescuer, in taut convulsions and incredible follies and contortions of his distempered psyche and body. The rescuer sees beyond this, recognises the situation, and interpreting aright, saves the body anyway. Afterwards, yes, it is obvious this was the desire of the drowning man, though he was too choked to express it.
Ah, says someone, in that way the Lord could simply select the ones He personally prefers, the more interesting and intriguing and weighty, and leave the rest, saying that it was all their fault. First however, we ask the question: How weighty is someone seduced by sin!
But the case is far deeper than this. THIS is what God has said concerning His willingness. He CANNOT lie. Besides, if you do not trust Him, then you CANNOT be saved, and must trust yourself or whatever manifestly ludicrous basis you may choose for your belief, surrogate for your preference or your very self.
Will a dressmaker select filthy rags for her preference ? (Isaiah 64:6). Does not Isaiah declare it, We are all like an unclean thing ? Too hard to believe ? it is THEN that you are as unsavable as the man who actually strangles his rescuer while drowning; for then you are strangling the truth, your precious psyche too proud to admit that IN disbelieving, this in itself, you warrant exclusion from the truth. Judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:1ff.), so thus you HAVE to be condemned, as BOTH contrary to the truth, and worthy of judgment because of it.
Thus there is no excuse. God so loves and would so have it, not accounting sin as a ground for condemnation, a sufficient ground for eternal exclusion from Himself, life's source, but rather as THE ground for HIS OWN death, so that without ground in sin to the contrary, He might justly accord life to the lost, and remove wrath from the contrivances of heart and mind and body, which are in alienated diversion from life itself. Thus the love of God cannot be over-emphasised, nor its primary intent extended: GOD IS love and nothing contrary to it is in His being ( John 4:7-8). If then truth requires disseverance of evil dynamic, which spits in the face of this love, love is not divine which compels. It is satisfied, has been applied, and it is judgment which remains for the bin, not love which is restrained!
Love does not work in force, and thus lack of force to secure it, so far from thwarting it, expresses it just as wisdom in seeking does likewise.
But what is the focus of His grace ? It is Christ crucified, yes rather risen, not merely in mind but in body, not in dream but in dynamic. The power of God is thus a cover-all for every situation in life in the body, for though it is least of the trilogy which is man, it is the physically expressive unit for the physical aspects of the universe.
Hence, there is no trial which can overcome you as you live IN Him and BY Him, whose righteousness is the gift of love to your moral credit account, whose very Spirit is your necessary gift as the source of strength and communion with God (Romans 8:9), and whose love is the source of such discipline as well as friendship, by which you live. By what are you enabled ? It is by the power of God that you are dynamised (II Timothy 3:5, Philippians 4:13, Mark 11:23, Romans 1:16).
Thus, it is through these means that you can come, and through no other (Galatians 1:6-9, II Corinthians 11) to KNOW GOD.
THE STARK LOVE, BRILLIANT PITY AND INEXORABLE TRUTH OF GOD
WHEN you wish to know God, it is important to realise where you are going. In an article in The Australian, July 11, 2008, an author depicts what he deems the near idolatry accorded to Nelson Mandela, as ludicrous. He summons evidence of his long continued insistence on violence such as terrorists use, his membership in a body using it, its unexpunged charges of torture, his friendship with the dictatorial enemies of the West, despite the help they gave in removing apartheid; and he states that South Africa is now in a worse state then when Mandela assumed government.
How easy, he declares, conveniently to forget the price some have paid in securing ideals, and the ideals broken in the process remain that way!
Knowing someone is thus not always what it seems. Knowing God may seem to some either a matter of crass authoritarianism, when you no longer need to think, or else a dim sentimentality when you indulge every whim, caprice and demand of the race or group or cause which has achieved focus for the year, decade or whatever it may be. It is neither. Hypocrisy, seeming to help by mere indulgence what you are ruining by treating below their ability level, and so exalting into uselessness, as one aboriginal leader declared was the trend, is far from godliness. On the other hand, demanding people obey the priest is just as far off; and demanding that they kow-tow to some so-called church in case they do not get extreme unction, in order to function in the next world is no better.
God is a lover of reality. He made it. He is a hater of lies; He cannot lie (Titus 1:3). Truth is His production and He does not fight Himself. Anything devious or pompous He despises as you see in Proverbs 8:8-9, Isaiah 1 and Matthew 23. To Israel, through Hosea 7:14, He declares the vanity, the futility of it, when they called on Him, yet "did not cry out to Me with their heart, when they wailed upon their beds."
THE STARK LOVE OF GOD
His is a stark love, with no frills or pretences, no formal codes of conduct devoid of spirit, and in nothing does He seek conformity which does not issue from faith and love (Isaiah 1). In Hosea 7:16, He acknowledges their religious moment, declaring this: "They return, but not to the Most High. They are like a treacherous bow." They are tricky, look like a bow indeed, but just try to use them and there are oddities of motion which baulk rather than bring accurate action.
It is despite all this that the Lord shows HIS
love. Look now further in Hosea, concerning this same nation, Israel, and try
to conceive what love, even then, will cry out for them, and then
read it, for it speaks like this (11:3-9):
"I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them.
"He shall not return to the land of Egypt;
But the Assyrian shall be his king,
Because they refused to repent.
And the sword shall slash in his cities,
Devour his districts,
And consume them,
Because of their own counsels.
My people are bent on backsliding from Me.
Though they call to the Most High,
None at all exalt Him.
"How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I set you like Zeboiim?
My heart churns within Me;
My sympathy is stirred.
"I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man,
The Holy One in your midst;
And I will not come with terror."
Discipline in large measure is certainly planned; tenderness from the time of early Israel is remembered, and His actions to sustain them, when they did not realise it, are considered. But when He looks at the simple option of national deletion, His heart churns, He is stirred. He will not destroy them, but remain open to their cry.
This gives us pause when we may be tempted at times NOT to seek the God of power and peace in our lives, and to imagine that this or that makes us unworthy (which we all are of love like that), or uninterested (since He does not seem to have given us some of our desires). Love begets love in a heart that is open to it: not lust, not interest, but LOVE itself which has in compassion the real interests (and certainly not the mere desires) of what is loved at heart.
While man may presume, God KNOWS. Where pastors well fit in here, is to remind people not of their opinions, but of God's truth, which is inexorable, declared, invariable, insupportable to mere desire. In James 3:15 indeed, mere desires, the soul's preoccupations, are put with being earthly in disposition and demonic in spirit in a tight little cluster.
THE BRILLIANT PITY OF GOD
"O Israel, you are destroyed,
But your help is from Me.
I will be your King;
Where is any other,
That he may save you in all your cities?
And your judges to whom you said,
‘Give me a king and princes’?
"I gave you a king in My anger,
And took him away in My wrath.
The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up;
His sin is stored up.
The sorrows of a woman in childbirth shall come upon him.
He is an unwise son,
For he should not stay long where children are born.
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
O Death, I will be your plagues!
O Grave, I will be your destruction!
Pity is hidden from My eyes," Hosea 13:9-14
Here Israel is shown as a babe bound in the womb, slow to emit, wandering woeful, staying unborn, risking his very life. Vacillating, enervated, listless, faithless, the nation in its mass moves like someone mesmerised to the devastations of judgment. Quite to the contrary: Faith acts; it does not simply fidget. It comes forth to the light of day, and breathes with spiritual lungs!
Despite this, God has prepared the ultimate sacrifice for the intimate way in which the remnant, for all that, will be saved. Past the prophets, like an athlete summoning strength and leaving the field behind, not dithering or delaying as Israel did, acting with discretion both divine and sublime, God declares His own course of action.
I will ransom! He cries. He will pay off the gangsters of sin, and secure the release from death of those who trust in Him. Indeed, death, that appalling and sinister spectre facing man for his sins, will be a paid up creditor, the cheque from God.
HOW is hell itself and the disgrace that for all sinners leads to it (Luke 13:1ff.), to be covered since its exclusion zone, that destiny of being apart from God, is deserved ? It is by a DIVINE RANSOM, wrought by grace, granted to faith. God is not willing to ignore sin; but He is willing to pay adequately for it, and cover its cost for each sinner IF and WHEN it is met by sincere repentance (not craven cowering without heart). Life then becomes the resultant, even a divinely secured and guaranteed life from Christ (Luke 13:1-3, John 6:40, 6:50ff., Romans 8:32, II John 2:1-2).
That donated life (comparable a little with not a replacement organ but the entirety of life granted that death may be avoided, and this not as a mere option, but as a divine and studied provision) is eternal. It is accompanied by the deletion of guilt through the substitution of Christ for the death of the sinner, and the grant of His inalienable life to the redeemed (cf. John 10:9,27-28).
The power of these mangling evils that He met, it is very great. It is however both merciful and natural that the power of God is greater, since death is His own sentence on sin (Romans 6:23); and the supernatural is both source and criterion for the natural, the product of God Himself. He can cover what He made.
Not every child can fix his own toy, though even a man can hope to do so; but when God makes man, He acts in accord with His own truth, both in condemning our race's misuse of the glorious options which man's spirit provides, and in pardoning the same on terms satisfying to truth. As to man, of these capacities of his, he is only too aware, often degrading himself by exalting himself and exulting in his undoubted powers, so that the higher his spirit flies, the lower his soul lurches.
What then do we learn from this ? Flying in the face of death is like cruising at 600 mph, into a tornado; but being evacuated from it is rather like finding a deep sea submarine near you, with brilliant transfer devices for you, when you are being crushed in diving too deep, and cannot suddenly break the surface without courting death. The intimate horror which sin is, has its placard, its poster in this, that God Himself sees fit to pay RANSOM to exclude this death and hell (Matthew 20:28). Here in Hosea 13:14 is the resolve; there in Isaiah 53 is the Messiah's payment.
Man’s image from God is a cause of sublimity and of the infernal alike. It is the ground of man's one great step into spiritual space, exposed and fragile, condemned and uncontrite, its issue a crash into the infernal; but it is the opportunity for God's great step into this world, the sublime, made vulnerable to the vicious, that He might cover the case in Himself, for man. ONLY GOD can make the difference, for none other has the power and the purity. It is not too hard for Him, since He both made and understands it all, and knows the things He will do, just as He knew them before the creation, as any wise and knowledgeable inventor might hope to do for his lesser products!
With God, it is not hope, but power and wisdom and self-control, performing without limit or external constraint, the desires of His heart. Making and redeeming man, as many as respond to Him in His grace: this is a grand creation, far beyond the material, even beyond the mental and spiritual realities associated. It is a work of spiritual finesse, profundity and love, for fellowship and wonder to the one created. it has a cut-off point, the truth. It has a cut-off surface, the Cross. There has to be a meeting there.
As to hell and the grave, then, that exit summons for man-in-sin, God Himself will constitute its destruction for His people. The term here, 'pity', has the meaning 'repentance' or change of mind, so that so far from denying pity a place, He denies any change of His pitiful mind, a place. It is PITY on His own heart, in giving the Christ, His only begotten Son for such a role as sin-bearer; it is PITY in the Son Himself, who with strong cries bore up His anguish as He prepared for Calvary (Hebrews 5:7, cf. Luke 22): it is SELF-PITY which is hidden from His eyes.
In marked contrast to Israel, God will NOT TURN ASIDE from His self-imposed duty of pity for those whose redemption is such a burden. In becoming man, He does not simply do, if you will, an accounting procedure: He pays in Person with emotion and sensitivity of soul, and abrasion of spirit as He bears the doom of man in concentrated form, the wrath due sin, till His aching cry ascends to heave, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!" as it was predicted in Psalm 22, would be the holy expression of the Redeemer's vicarious agony. Sin separates, and Christ bore the wrath of God against it, not as a symbol, but in an atrocity of grief; and what agony energised that lament! (Isaiah 59:1-2).
This is what it cost to rejoin any person who in sin, lost, seeks salvation and finds it by faith through the free grace of God. Here is the pity which knew no pity ... on itself!
THE INEXORABLE TRUTH OF GOD
Imagine showing SUCH pity and retaining such LOVE for such people! What confidence is the Christian given by such expression of the God who acts for the one who waits for Him (Isaiah 64:5). He KNOWS when to act.
For our salvation, He waited over half a millenium from the day of His utterance before, in the fulness of times (Galatians 4:4), as planned, He came to deal with death with finality and the grave with grace, once and for all. He had to die around AD 30, for in Daniel He had predicted this, and GOD exalts HIS WORD above all His name! (Psalm 138:2). If He says it, He does it! That is faithfulness, something hard to find in this 21st century, and precious where located.
When the President and Judge, Creator of the universe is found faithful, and gives free access through pity to truth, rejoice! You are delivered (cf. Romans 5:1-15). Not only is it a free gift, we there read, but it is a gift by grace: NO POSTAGE, FEES or administration charges! No priests, prelates or parsons are there to harass you. It is FREE, and what the servants of God must tell you is THAT VERY FACT.
If, then, they are there to remind you of sure and free salvation, inviolable in truth, no less must they remind you that God will be no means clear the wicked (Nahum 1:3), as inexorable truth exposes his guilt-smitten and uncovered soul. In tune with the cost to Him, is the discipline for us: KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.
If you seek to please your employer in the known requirements, how much more the Lord!
To be sure, this is not to achieve salvation, which is free, but for your conformity through the power of the Holy Spirit to the beauty of holiness in Christ Romans 3:23ff., Galatians 3, II Corinthians 3:18). If less than a full wine glass can be too much for your liver in one day (in strict diet measures), and that invites trouble for that organ, how much more does ANY sin invite heart trouble.
Just as God is not harsh to confront needlessly, so He is not lax to allow superficiality to anoint your fevered brow. Peace is found in a sincere love of truth, which seeks with humble diligence to be enabled to follow His way with fidelity. Love is like that, and it rejoices in the face of judgment (I John 4:17-19, Romans 5:11), knowing the God whose truth impels it, is He whose mercy covers it. With clear conscience it acts in His, who are kept clean by the blood of Christ, enlightened and enabled by His Spirit (I John 1:7ff., 5:11ff., Ephesians 1:5-21, Philippians 4:13).
THE GOSPEL CRADLE
WHEN MERCY KISSES JUDGMENT, WHEN RIGHTEOUSNESS KISSES PEACE, WHEN MERCY AND TRUTH MEET (cf. Psalm 85:10), then is the Gospel born, as if a child of inventive grace; and love is its cradle. Indeed, this child, it grows in power, for once the Gospel is received within, then the power of God is an apportionment, now available for His elect (Ephesians 1:17-19). Through the Gospel is the dower of power; not for leisure or for pleasure, for wealth or for prestige, but for service and testimony, for fruit in life and for deliverance from the lust of sin to dominate (II Peter 1:3ff.), and sinners to seduce the spirit (II Timothy 4:17-18, Luke 21:14-15). If God is for us, who is against us! (Romans 8:31ff.).
If however some reject Him, then is His power not used to subvert reality, but to express it, not to impress them, shanghai them into service; for the divine power is not contrary to love, but accords with it. .
Thus for two millenia this Gospel impact has grown, like a child becoming youth and man.
It grows in this, that its effects clamour into nations, transform lives, exhibit the will of God, call glorious things into being, make eternal friendships with God, while it endures past every test, remains immaculate though many are frauds, and sails on while this earth itself makes itself ready for departure (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 51:6).
Thus as we have seen above, the love of God is incandescent, insatiable, but still too pure to prostitute itself into force which is the way of this world, though there is enough of the love of God left to the obscuring view of sin, for many to realise this. It moves into the gears of mercy, and accelerates into the countryside of pity.
Judgment, truth is insatiable. It cannot be altered. The wounding and blinding and harassing and extravaganzas of pride and hatred, spiritual egotism and the maggoty remnants of oneself as the criterion, these move onto the field with their hatred of love, and exhibitionism of evil. Yet truth WILL NOT be blinded, inveigled, nor overcome. God IS the truth. He sees (cf. Psalm 11). He knows. He acts.
How then can mercy meet truth ? or pity find judgment and yet live ? In this tension, there is the grandest of creations, yes, indeed, since God is not chained to time, there is the vast innate originality of God, and it is the Gospel, the everlasting Gospel of grace (Revelation 14:6) s which is both the resolution and the solution. As if parents, truth and mercy, righteousness (giving wrath as in Romans 1:17ff.) and peace, move to deposit in the cradle of love, this beautiful thing, this embodiment of lovingkindness, the Gospel of grace.
Man cannot despoil this, though he tries (as in II Corinthians 11, Jude! cf. Message of the Words of God to Man in the World Ch. 3). Indeed, Jude makes it clear that though he was intending to write on their common salvation, yet he changed his mind. Now, let us note that this topic of the common salvation includes the Gospel in its nature, application, intimation, explication, its practical dynamics and all things in that domain. Hence when he resolved NOT to write on this topic, but moved to a substitute topic, it is something most distinctive. He characterises it as such.
It is here, this alternative topic for his current focus,
not to present the Gospel,
with all the elements of that
both direct and indirect,
that fit with that topic,
but to FIGHT for it. It is this that is in view.
To fight with it, were this sought as an oddity for translation, not being the idiom, would be impossible as a CHANGED topic. That would merely be one phase of application of the Gospel. It would be included in the 'common salvation' field.
No, instead, now the charge is to consider firstly that the Gospel is given once and for all. Bearing this in mind, the readers of Jude are to act on that basis in combating the loathsome pollutants that leg it into the legions of the faithful, to subvert, rebel, lead and inspire rebellions, the quislings of the church, the traitors of truth, not ignorant, but stupefied by spiritual folly, as if by some spiritual drug, a spiritual 'LSD'.
Change of it is what is in view, in the context of Jude and his exposure of assailants who seduce towards it. You have exposed by Jude in the field of examples in the past of such a polluting spirit, the sly, sleight of spirit of a Balaam, tricky, pseudo-orthodox, baying wolf that he was (cf. II Peter 2); you have the intrusionists, those who like Korah, reject due authority, and want to make up their own 'word'; you have Sodom and Gomorrah, liberal contradictories, whose very spirit lusts for the Gospel, to abuse it, even angels a prey in mind. You have indeed even the angels who "did not keep their proper domain" as in Revelation 12, and were hurled out. It is all about subtlety as a plague, grossness as an intimidatory force, unruliness as a motif, subversion as a process.
THIS, it is confirmed as emphaticallly NOT the topic of the common salvation, but rather that of the not so uncommon rooting against truth, to subvert it.
Mishandling the Gospel is the hymn,
subverting the faithful is the application,
wrath for the worthless horrors who USE grace
fighting for the faith when it is being
menaced by take-over, this is the new topic.
It was to have been what the Gospel is and how to use it;
it is now how to deliver it from subversion.
What do you do about it ? Fight for it. In what manner does Jude ask for this fight ? It is to be in earnest! Such is in fact one of the main features of this site, the common salvation and the reason for the faith being two others, together with the exposition of the Bible and the presentation with appeal, of the Gospel itself, as Jesus Christ is placarded to one, and to all. .
But what does Jude have to say about the agents of the provocation, the quislings, the plague carriers who invade the holy territories of truth ?
As he writes on his alternative topic, In the process, he provides such a characterisation of those guilty of such actions as to reach the most extreme imaginable: they are clouds without water (that is, give appearance of being Christian but are not so in fact, but mockeries of it, misusers of its very name as to general type) Uprooted trees are these. They are like those with shallow roots, which never get beyond the superficial' and not being planted by God (as in Matthew 15:13), they are subject to be being torn by storms of the flesh (if you will, in meteorological form!). They are wandering stars (apparent sources of light, but misplaced), and their destiny is accorded, and it is this: "for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever."
But what does Jude tell us in verses 22-23 ? You MIGHT find someone merely confused: look out for such a one, making a difference (22), but in any dealings with this territory of rebellion not only FOR sin, but AGAINST Gospel grace, be armed! for it is perilous even to deal at all, even in seeking to snatch someone from such engulfing flames. This is battle, war: here is the front line against subversion. Watch it! Life is real. Act with prudence, discretion, self-control, watchful alertness as well as compassion where it CAN enter in!
Such is the warning of Jude. Are people then to unite with such wandering stars, uprooted trees as they float by in the tempests ? NO, says Paul in Romans 16:17; for if they cause divisions against apostolic truth, then AVOID them. Of course avoid them: will believers have fellowship with unbelievers ? Of course not! declaims the inspired apostle.
What do you expect ? Will Christ have fellowship with the devil (II Cor. 6). Does one have to be spiritually daft entirely, is the tenor of Paul's prescription here against such fellowship; and it is in its heightened form in a Church, which is the BODY OF CHRIST (Ephesians 2, and 4). Fellowship with them there, as well have fellowship with Hitler in a wartime visit to Auschwitz.
No, the Gospel of grace is immiscible, and excursions to save must not be confused with fellowship in the body with the Head. You might as well have spies in a foreign land at war with you, having fellowship with the people at war, coffee with the high command, swimming afternoons with the proponents of your destruction. Such aims are either realised or not, for desperately wicked is the heart of man; direct or indirect; covert or open: but they are there, for the prince of this world has no time for Christ, and Christ has no place for him (cf. John 14:30).
Dabblers in the Gospel of grace will never understand; but this is war. Jude is right. Paul is correct. These are epistles of truth, and they are our instructions, and our command (cf. I Cor. 14:37).
Not thus is the babe of the Gospel born, or borne. It is not in such company that its growth occurs.
Judgment, in the Gospel is borne by Christ for the believer; judgment in these fields, is borne by the participants, and those who disobey directions here, are asking for confusion. Is it surprising that in various tensions and distensions, they gain it ? If some do not understand, perhaps they may be delivered; but for those who see these things in the word of God, clearly, there is only rebellion for which to answer.
Neither invocations of mystery, for the love of God is mysterious only in its purity, not in its extent, nor revolutions against its purity, fulminations for fellowship with those who distort it, nor featuring of this world's possessions (such as church buildings or one's own) is even relevant, except for refutation and discharge into the realms of odium. This, this is not the Gospel of grace, but the effrontery of disgrace.
But as to that Gospel, let it be prized like a babe, delighted in like a maturing youth, seen to be grasping grace with relish, watched with admiration like the works of maturity, savoured with delight like old age found in the ways of righteousness. The storms of the devil have sought first to attack the Old Testament in our time, and then the New, and then Christ. In their tempests, they have sought to prize out Christ from His word, and to make new christs and new 'words' and 'revelations', often in Pentecostal settings. As to that, the very word misnamed, for Pentecost did not this, but gave translation into actual foreign languages for those who could not OTHERWISE UNDERSTAND. What was given ? It was the Gospel, and not embellishments, not revelations of another kind or additive nature!
The Gospel of grace in its inviolable truth, truth in its inexorable thrust, mercy in its pitiful brilliance, love cradling the whole ,for God IS love, fidelity to His grace, word and call: these are the pathways of peace. There are not any other ones. Here is the entrance to His grace, and in through that door in repentance and faith come the people of the Lord, to feast on His word and trust in His wisdom and shepherding. None other enters, though many call at the gate, like lustful suitors seeking a choice damsel. With such there is no company. One may seek to win some, but not in that way. Their intentions are manifest, and storming the citadel of truth is one of these.
They will fail. It is important for the pilgrim on the pathways of grace, not to fail with them; but rejoice in this, that once you are His, paid for, ransomed, healed, pardoned, justified, then more sure than the setting of the sun are two things: YOU WILL be saved (John 10:9,27-28, Ephesians 1:11), and you WILL BE DISCIPLINED if you dabble in unrighteousness; for our God is a consuming fire, and knows everyone who is His own.
On this, see such chapters as:
Man in Retrospect, in Prospect and in Bold Relief Ch. 2,
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 8,
Message ... Ch. 2.
See Highway to Hell, Aviary of Idolatry and Errors, for example, and More Marvels ... Ch. 4, SMR pp. 1032ff., Divine Agenda Ch. 6.