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WHY should ...? How often does one hear this kind of protestation! Why do I have to ... why should he be allowed to ... why isn't ... ?
In fact, there is one aspect of Biblical Christian Apologetics - which in principle deals with the whole scope of life and all things with a special objective of exhibition and demonstration of the truth, being reasonable and it is one which needs emphasis. It is this.
What kind of knowledge of electricity do you have if you never saw a wire, never were en scène at any of its manifestations!
What kind of 'knowledge' of God do you have, even if you see its necessity but do not bother to find Him on those terms! It is practical. You must seek Him with all the heart, and there is no excuse for not doing so; for since He would have all, NOTHING is permitted to exclude such a prospect beyond repair, even though the result be known. If the end is known in advance, so is the scope supplied in advance; and though all be of grace, there is nothing given by disgrace, for with God there is no horrible decree, but the result of a love from One who is Almighty which, though never turned into force, never lapses (Colossians 1:19ff.). Hence each is responsible, and this hs the glad side, that there is hope. When hope operates, then faith can be found as a stream in the wilderness. We did not create it, but it was to be found; and it is He who leads.
Here, it is not merely that practice makes perfect, an old saw, but rather that the practical is the point. By all means think, but having thought, act. By all means, ponder; but having pondered, don't wander as you ponder. Seeing, act; but if you still don't see, ask for the kind of eyes that do. If God desires all, then none is excluded from His beneficent love of heart; and even the most evil has hope in this, that Paul was won!
Hence an exhortation is indeed a part of this 'course'!
Take now Psalm 119:119, an interesting figure, and see this:
"You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross;
Therefore I love Your testimonies."
implicit reference to Psalm 2, 110, 96:13, 98:8, Hakakkuk 3:3-7
WHY does the Psalmist LOVE God's testimonies, attestations, declarations, indications of His mind, will, ways and requirements, delights and enhancements to understanding ?
Why does he love the word of
the living God ? distinct, clear, unresting, yet already wrought!
(Psalm 119:30,72,m88,91,95-96, 144,152).
It is, for one stated reason, this: it is that there is firstly AN END TO EVIL.
That: evil! It has no crown rights. The endless spewing of disorderly psyches onto the tarmac of this earth, so that evil is thought, wrought, taught, sometimes taken in sport, and the evil gain and rule and conquer and control forces and powers and invade, disable, double deal and so forth: it is not a PART of life, but of death. It is a segment of the detritus from the destructive flow of what will end in the sea of undistinguishable melting, and has a finish. It is not intrinsic to life as such, but extrinsic. It has come to test, it has no rest, it continues to wrest; but it gets in the end, not even the second best, but the bane. It ENDS. Its impact departs.
The word of the One, who being all powerful, will ENSURE THAT THIS HAPPENS is THEREFORE to be loved. Imagine not a vain thing, but a virtuous one, not a vacuous lunacy such as inhabits so many of the rulers of this earth, in spiritual terms, but a glorious delight in the love and wisdom that has made our very lives.
Consider the millenium when virtue flowers and the inordinate and often narcissistic vanity of the former rulers, who have shown and tested all their wares and ways and have been found wanting: consider that, and then ponder this point. THAT is no more (cf. SMR pp. 508ff., Sparkling Life ... Ch. 10). It is to END.
Now the regal vitality of reality is shining like the sun, as if it had been veiled for a few days. The millenium flourishes as God vindicates His truth, not now in the laboratory of staggering liberty where even the devil sun-bakes; but it too, it ends.
Then even this inadequate, though it became a good lecturing point; for now the Lord removes the entire earth where so many so often and for so long have laboured to inhabit the best places with the most graces with no limit to their spiritual squalor or moral ineptitude, dishonesty and fierce force. Isaiah 51:6, II Peter 3, Matthew 24:35 ... it happens!
Now the very bounds and
environment which had been so ludicrously invaded and so malignantly invested
by such disgusting lust and lapses, is removed, so that for ever if need be,
those who sold the soul can see the vanishing of the very place of their
disgrace, and the nullity of their gains!
Then this world is no more, and it perishes with its evil inventions, intentions and graceless rambling through false priorities, and task forces to make findings of the blinded.
Thus the Psalmist loves the word of God because there is an end to evil, just as there was a beginning in Eden, and a near end from which the race was delivered when the ark landed on the Mountains of Ararat (not quite the same as Mount Ararat), a fact so well attested that you need special glasses to blind the eye if you do not observe the evidence (cf. News 1). The current trend to be blind to this is of course, this also, as foretold in the word of God (II Peter 3:3-5).
But all of this, it ends.
Moreover, it is an EVIL END, and not just a finish. It is categorised negatively, its power negated, its flourishing not only abated but made absent, past all the illusory delusions of those who want to re-organise it, as so many of the political, metaphysical and educational philosophers have done (cf. SMR Ch. 4 in contrast with Ch. 5, and pp. 422Eff., 923ff.), while, deep in delusions, they deliver only pap at best, and vicious illogical viruses to the mind of fallen man, at worst, viruses that will deeply threaten the entire body of mankind at last (cf. SMR pp. 502ff. cf. The Moon Soon!).
It is shown up, has no derivative glamour from self-serving and self-seeking, self-centred and charm blandishing servants of evil, but is tied up, trussed up and delivered to the pit. The form of this world, said the apostle Paul, is passing away (I Corinthians 7:31); and when it IS past, then is glory that endures without admixture.
Then EVIL has no more power, play: this is to come.
Now there are episodes, such as those of Babylon's overthrow, that of Tyre and Rome, of Nineveh and Hitler, of the USSR and Napoleon, and there are victories often at great cost, while new follies are found for the sport of the godless. Indeed, even worse is the case of those who manufacture gods and in ever descending spiritual madness, becoming religious on their own terms and so kill and thrill at the thought of maidens, money, power, vainglory or whatever other inducement makes for such madness. They continue in exultation, even if their invented gods have a glory which winks at murder and is friendly to submission at the arm of force, in the realm of faith. Such is coming on an international scale, surpassing even the present imbroglios with a custom-made delusion for 'the end' - that is, the end of this Age before Christ's ever nearer return (cf. SMR Ch. 8).
Surely, evil has been rebuked on this earth, but liberty allows its self-manifestation while the books are readied and the entire scope of man's spiritual declivities and experimentation is made manifest, so that judgment might be in knowledge with more than authority, but not less, as it proceeds as it will, at the last (cf. Acts 17:31).
The fact then that the wicked are serially - that is from time to time - PUT AWAY is a prelude to the entire end of their parade, and THIS is one reason why the Psalmist loves the testimonies of God.
We are not only made BY God but FOR Him;
and hence in the soul delivered from the power of sin
(but not sinless till He comes, yet delivered from sin's sovereignty and regal oppression)
looks for such an end
to the wavering irreligion and false religion of this world,
yielding to the glory of the God who made us,
in whom alone there is rest, since He is not only best,
but the original whose personal imprimatur is on each one of us.
That, it too is a glory since we are not made to appreciate the least or the better,
but the best.
the exceedingly common delusive pre-occupation
with what is better than the worst
(by marginal degrees) for example,
is mere dross, moral carnage, the grinding of moraine, the dynamic of detritus.
It saps the soul and afflicts the mind; but GOD in HIS testimonies,
He is light for the life, joy to the heart, inspiration to the spirit
and sheer wonder to the being (cf. Psalm 146:2).
WHEN He has finished with the evil, which comes only to go,
when His power to remove the wicked at last is consummated
in the end of the laboratory work of life which shows all
and eventually all to all in judgment or bliss
(the bliss of truth for those made by it and for it),
then seeing God face to face, in His grace and place
(His SPIRITUAL place manifest)
becomes more than mere culmination.
Why is this ?
It is consummation; and even more than this, as a generic:
for it is the exhibition of glory which is glory indeed,
being that of One pitiful and personal, gracious and good,
of power illimitable, of knowledge
surpassing the mere exhibits of sheer intelligent wonder in the creation,
being the Original of these works and and their eternal and infinite source
who can made anew, make another, remove or disperse.
Thus with such an operation in kind and to come in consummation
(as in Psalms 67:4ff., 72, 2, Isaiah 51:6, Revelation 20, 22),
no wonder the Psalmist loves the testimonial truth,
the word of the living and loving God.
You might almost ask: Who wouldn't!
but then sin slithers its way in and won't!
Little children are not the only provenience of such dictatorial little dicta.
There, at that age, it is 'naughty'
but in the end it is nought, but the judgment is not nought.
How the Psalmist loves the word of God
we find continuously throughout this illustrious Psalm,
for his soul breaks with longing for the word of the Lord (Psalm 119:20)!
As for that God who so speaks,
in Psalm 42 the inspired writer even pants for Him.
In Psalm 119:111, we find of him who writes this,
that he has taken the word of God as a heritage forever.
An end to evil because good is SO good!
It is not just a terminus, but an incisive, derisive termination! (cf. Daniel 12:1ff.).
Contempt for the contemptible becomes part of the truth in application.
There is NO grey area,
such as those afflicted with double-mindedness may now love.
What has been partly inward is to become
wholly outward and manifest.
Thus the desires of truth will flourish.
The desire of the heart for goodness,
the search of the soul
for purity as purity without admixture,
for principle beyond pragmatics,
for love beyond expediency,
for truth beyond condescension,
to be at one with God BECAUSE He is good -
its source, meaning and eternal origin,
as the One needing nothing,
demanding what is honourable,
and giving what is gracious,
just and kindly -
is thus met in reality and not only in security.
The brand of heaven, stamped on the soul,
however overgrown it once became despite the open exposure
to its source and origin,
is exposed at last to its Moulder face to face,
and the celestial
is not only transmitted as now
(cf. Colossians 1:13, II Corinthians 5:17ff.),
but exhibited in its entirety then
(I Corinthians 13, Revelation 22).
Hence the soul loves His testimonies, who so attests.
But how will a person KNOW these things
if the soul is merely sunk in the deeps of delinquency,
impassioned with the desire for self-fulfilment,
making itself implicitly its own god!
This being false to fact can only abase in the end,
like simultaneous equations requiring a solution,
for which one considers only one;
but even this is a poor analogy,
for the equation which matters infinitely the most,
is that with the truth.
This in no way inhibits the cogency of the reason for the faith;
but it markedly impedes its appreciation!
Spiritual dyspepsia, being a matter of indigestion, can pre-occupy.
The truth is its own antidote.
Finding it is more necessary than breathing, eating or drinking:
it is the meaning of all, and the ultimate in spiritual edibility!
To be sure, as in Psalm 119, there are seasons of travail,
even acute travail, but this is good for the soul;
for the yearning and the availability being conjoined,
there is a wonder in the result,
so that the toils of the ascent from the things which would pre-occupy
are a preparation for the summit.
It is found now in spirit; it will be found then in sight.
But let us turn now to Psalm 121, as part of this exhortation to a good digestion, an adequate quest not only for the 'best' but for the source, original and basis of all, that any might find in personal experience, what experience cannot teach, but can receive, and then finding, conjoin to the other domains of certainty and wisdom.
"I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
"Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
"The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
"The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore."
Let us consider the teaching of this Psalm.
Does help indeed come from the hills,
from their strong reliability as terrain, uplift and place for vision afar,
when one looks above the ordinary,
seeking a site for refreshment in the Lord's regality,
and for pleasant loneliness, but not from Him!
No, it comes not from such sites, but from the LORD HIMSELF,
not from the made, but from the Maker,
and that, Creator not of hills only, but of heaven and of earth,
of all races and each of the faces,
and every one of the graces which distinguish man,
when he is not acting as agent for evil, from beast and dust.
It is He who keeps from loss of steadfastness,
whatever the impact, struggle, and source of the same.
He does not become witless in sleep, and so fail your case.
If you know Him, you will find it; if you seek Him with all the heart
look where He MAY be found (Isaiah 55, Ephesians 2:14-18),
then for yourself you will know it.
It is not He who lapses.
His Church is kept indeed, the modern international body of Christians
not replacing Israel in its national part in the plan of history,
but replacing it in its ecclesiastical role, in which Israel, or much of it
at last will join, so that neither replacement nor defacement is permitted,
but enrolment in the ONE CHRIST, for ALL peoples
(Galatians 3:24 cf. Open Door, Closed Mind and the Call of Christ Ch. 8).
Do pulpits squander their God-given right to present the truth which frees,
and make it the ice that freezes,
as cold words from hot-heads make a muddle of all things ?
Yes, false prophets disadorned Israel but God continued (Jeremiah 23),
and false prophets disadorn the Church,
and tear great chunks of ecclesiastical flesh
from it as foretold - II Peter 2);
but these are but cancers in the first place (cf. John 6:70).
God preserves His people, who ought to be looking now more and more
for the way to avoid the treachery of many bodies that fall and are fallen,
Once parts of His body (but historically, while churches come and go,
yet the CHURCH in spirit, continues,
not under a pope - a mere man, Matthew 23:8-10 -
nor under some priest, or potentate, or nation,
but under the LORD who IS Lord and who having purchased it, OWNS it.
It is HIS body, not that of a sinful, once begun surrogate. For God,
here is no surrogate!
It continues with Him who remains,
first in the resurrection of His body,
then in its glorification,
then in His reception into heaven from which He came
(John 3:16, Philippians 2, Acts 3:19ff.),
then through His Spirit which does not speak of Himself,
but as given from the Word (John 16:13),
who reflects the Father,
till at last it is swept up to Him who sent it,
having completed His work
(Matthew 24:12, 28:19-20, Philippians 2:15, Revelation 6:9ff., 11).
Yes, His Church is kept, and think now for a moment of individual congregations;
and it is not about to be taken for a ride
while the devil slaughters all.
On the contrary, He guards, is Carer for the soul and for His body.
It is He who ensures the irresistible for evil cannot be,
it cannot be found, for it is always contained by Him
who will let none of His children be tested beyond what they can bear
(II Corinthians 10:13).
This He ensures by devices gracious and kindly, like shade in hot sun,
by exclusions of what would be overwhelming (like the sheer burning of the sun)
as with martyr Stephen who,
though met with stony hearts that had attached,
hands that cast stones,
for his part could not be quenched:
his words have lived and enlivened for millenia,
who giving up the youth of his young days,
has a continued youthfulness amid the days of many who now grow.
How is this so ? As great as is the challenge,
so is the provision.
Neither sheer dynamic nor illusory appeals can conquer
him or her kept by the power of God though faith for that reserved in heaven,
for each such one; for faith gives eternal life as gift (Romans 6:23, 5:17ff.),
the transmissive agent of God,
and what is eternal is never transient (cf. John 4:14).
Indeed, the day comes, it is fast coming near (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5),
when His Church will arise, each individual member of His body,
and what had seemed consigned to dust,
will become raised bodies,
given a welcome equal to the praise of Him
who appreciates the least,
and is not overwhelmed by the greatest,
since all greatness is from Him,
and it is He who works exceedingly in His saints,
for it is HIS own working (cf. I Corinthians 15:10).
Evil, in ALL forms, is excluded from conquest of the saved soul
(cf. Ephesians 2:-8, Titus 3:5),
so that it cannot move your life, you who are saved;
and this life, lost in and for Him, is gained for ever (Matthew 16:25).
It is not a testing paradox that what is lost is gained;
for what is lost is a specious, self-centred control
(or equally that by appointed proxy!),
and what is gained is the companionship in worship and delight at truth and peace,
of God Himself, the God who having made us, is meet for us,
and being everlasting has no fading, nor does His inheritance diminish.
If He is gained for ever, He is also gained in minor daily dealings,
for every detail not only CAN be but SHOULD be brought
to Him who cares (Philippians 4:6-7),
the place of peace.
These too, then, little things, will be overseen;
for the mind of the Lord plays on His saints
(believing people, whose faith, being alive, is not without works,
though their salvation is by faith without works - Romans 3:23ff.).
It plays on them as a water spray on those showering,
or on the ones who stand under a waterfall, in this case, that of His grace.
IT IS HIGH TIME TO ACT
What then ? THEREFORE abide, obey,
rejoice, be fearless, valiant for truth,
indomitable because commanded and kept.
Remember Joshua and the first chapter of that book:
YOU are not commanded to take a nation,
but the city of life, your own (cf. Proverbs 16:32),
in His name and to have it conquered and thence invested,
instead of infested, with faith instead of by futility,
and being emptied of the inglorious,
to be filled with the Spirit of Him who never changes,
whose holiness is content and whose quiet is serenity.
It is to be functional in Him whose work is before Him,
and for whom indolence is no necessity,
for His team has His blessing,
and His grace has no furlough.
Is there fighting ? Of course (Ephesians 6);
yet it is not for a small prize,
but in the service of Him who is above all prices;
and there are spiritual weapons, in themselves good,
the deployment of which is itself a blessing;
for it is not to grab but to give that is important,
and Christ impelling, it is not to give what is worthless or weary,
but Him who is strong: that is the criterion.
Let us then live to give, and to give the Gospel of His greatness,
the word of His truth,
the goodness of His living and the kindness of His heart,
as not fooled by appearance, we adhere to the reality of His truth,
in a love which fears nothing,
and takes nothing that is foreign,
nor praises any poison.