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AND THE NEED TO FOLLOW ON
Genesis 3:15, John 3:16, Revelation 3:17
SOVEREIGN LOVE LACKS ALL SHOVE
ONE ONLY - THE ONLY ONE!
NO MORE NEEDED OR AVAILABLE
THE PROPHETIC PRELUDE
WHY did it all happen ? In our last Chapter went into that field, and found many blooms.
WHEN it happened, just as it was a test for the first pair, what to DO with their liberty, so that they did not HAVE to be and do what had been arranged for them, so it was a contest as to what would happen next.
The devil, who using the preformatted material of a snake, which had some beauty at that point, had desired to deceive them into thinking that God, their very Maker, was not a reliable character, and had clandestine motives for keeping them from their just dues: just so that He could be above them. In so delusively speaking, the enemy of souls, of God, of truth, was an artisan of deception,
He succeeded well enough to induce one of the original pair of human beings, made in God's own image, capable of direct communication with Him, to fail the test. This one duly induced the other. Having facility to talk to God, why did they not do so, and seek Him clearly amid His provisions. Why do men not do so now ? To be sure, it was easier then, since there was no consolidated impediment - though even now there is none that God cannot overrule. Indeed, this purges confusion and allows the elemental fact to be most obvious. Will in conjunction with lack of reverence for God can lead to folly, and that to death.
There was a test, and the devil helped them to fail it; but they themselves allowed that help.
It is stated what fruit was; but symbolically, as the fruit of a tree, it spoke of being something beyond them, providing what they lacked, knowledge not just of what was good, but from some superior vista, platform, occasion, perspective: the knowledge ofgood AND evil, seen as a pair! What a discovery! How world shattering, or since they were only two among so much, how seductive to the heart!
Satan with all the skill of a politician seeking re-election (as perhaps applies in Australia where, after some of the most disastrous mismanagements ever seen in this land, brought forward in haste which, on the later advice of the Auditor-General, was based on inaccurate information, a call for continuance has come) had managed in essence, very nearly to being elected as the superior intelligence, deserving government. HOW could they doubt one who had done so much, and follow one who brought such shame ? HIS advice had been followed. They hid. This is common: behaviour fails, doctrine follows, defences arise, truth is scattered.
What then of the devil in this Garden of Eden ? HE had been followed. HE was now, as far as might be, their spiritual father - not to MAKE them to exist as what they were, for that had already been done, but in terms of where their reliance was.
In the same garden, there had been another tree, THE TREE OF LIFE. What joys this might have brought to those who introduced to life, and passing the test they so despicably failed, could have been duly authorised to eat of it; for THAT fruit was testimonial to something beginning to move toward infinite joy. What a leap into delight that would have been, far greater in this, that it would have been a worthy delight, expressive of simple goodness before God. Such a tree would symbolise in simple graphic form, such as the Lord so often uses, something showing deeply the results of being well-grounded in God. It was, however, not to be.
Instead, the primary pair were confounded.
Who would deliver them from the artful foe who had once been a princely denizen of the earth (Ezekiel 29). Indeed, Satan would take flight to take over heaven, and though, like Absolam before his father, David, he would fail, yet the very idea of such an invasive dynamic was appalling! How could the first pair ever get out from hands such as these, having allowed themselves to be violated with his vileness, so leaving or ensuring their departure from the very splendid spiritual horizons in which to look for the beauty of the Lord's holiness ?
Such a deliverance could not come from their level, sunk to the subterranean as it now was, or from the devil's level, from him whose lies would make for many, a harridan of their lives, a hurricane of their living and a holocaust of a civilisation. To be sure, this that evil eminence could do only as permitted for a purpose (as is seen in the use of Pharaoh to show the power of God - Romans 9); and yet what dynamic was his to devilishly direct activities, when once the barrier was removed from his wilful terrorism, and ardent destructiveness. How great was and is the appetite of him who would at any cost, seek to debase the Lord and exalt himself. He started this way, and will end in the same mode, mood, model (as in Revelation 19-20).
From where would their deliverance come ? It could only come with One with the power of God, to disestablish the train of events and the terror of evil which was unleashed. How ironic was their threatening doom, for this guilty pair, as they hid in the garden of the test! When therefore the Lord announced the curse on their work, in this, that it would be covered with troubles and harassments, yet He added His signature to the Bill which gave them a coming deliverance. It was a thing of majesty!
He had plans. These are disclosed in Genesis 3:15.
He would USE the lowly fallen nature of the race, in ONE person, who would have the power completely to spoil the devil's eminence, self-glorifying boastfulness, evil and sinister atmosphere. Such would be the power, anointing, commitment of this One, that the very vanity of vainglory, of which the devil is so proud, would be reduced to something under the Lord's FOOT! To be sure, the action would bruise the foot of the Lord, but the HEAD of the devil would be reduced to its proper place, bruised and under His foot!
So began the pathway increasingly revealed as in a progressing painting, of the Messiah in God's revelation to sinful, fallen man.
This was the first part of the PROPHETIC PRELUDE to the action of which this figure spoke: that of bringing to scorn the power of the devil THROUGH a member of the human race, who yet would have the very power of God. It would be ONE such member, with that one and wonderful power of God, someone who in his own PERSON, would smash the entire regime and regimen of the devil. We read more of this in Hebrews 2:14.
Here, Chapter 1 having shown the deity of the Messiah, we find reference to the aspect of incarnation, His humanity. It declares this Hebrews 2:14, Berkeley translation):
"Since, then, the children share flesh and blood,
He personally shared it with them,
so that by means of His death
He might neutralize the one who wields the power of death,
namely the devil, and set free those
who throughout life were held in slavery by fear of death."
Small wonder then that the Lord could say of the devil, in his role as the leader of this world ("whoever wants to make himself a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God," says James 4:4), this (from John 14:30):
"He has nothing in Me."
Thus from the outset, in the very day when man fell, and mankind in and with him, the Lord announced the remedy, the rescue program, one of USING someone who in the flesh, would be a descendent of the first pair, as if to show what such weak littleness as that of man COULD accomplish, if GOD used it! Violate the work of God, by rebellion, disobedience, ruthless ruin of truth in the mind, bruising of the heart, sundering of the spirit from blessedness, yet even then, God can vitiate the vileness, invigorate the road to recovery, and do so not with a pep talk or a drug, but with an action of His very own, and that through a man! It was this which would restore the place of man as apt to rely on and love God, and over-turn the horror of a devilish world, doing homage to its lying, lordly, spiritually illiterate boss.
The full vainglory of the devil would die in the humiliation of his overthrow, his neck under the foot of his conqueror, that puppet man, as he tried to insinuate he was, and man the weakling would become by divine enduement, man the victor! What a scenario, and here likewise would be shown the ludicrous fraudulence of those works, written in books and beliefs, without fulfilment in history, except in defeat: the pandemonia and parades of carnal victims of delusion, such as Marx and Freud and Darwin (cf. SMR Ch. 7 as marked, with Ch. 4), and the multitudes of parallels, who love to make a parade of man as defective, derelict or defeated, inert before forces, divorced from any God, or better for them, abandoned without one. While sin brings debasement, God has more in store (cf. SMR Ch. 7 as also marked).
Man had failed in freedom, being deceived then, in the purity of Eden, as he is prone so often now, out of it, in tests no less challenging to a clouded mind or defiling heart, being driven in the very presence of the lie-monger, of whom Christ declared: "there is no truth in him." Yet for all that HE would deliver: who else, but the manufacturer Himself! Amazing that He should bother; but given the love, sure that He would succeed.
This deliverance however would not, because it could not be by anything inherent in the fallen race; it would be by a plan of God to make man CAPABLE of CONQUEST at the spiritual level, as now he had been shown to be susceptible to conquest, on the receiving end of shame. What man could do this, what person, except one not with the inherent weakness of the fallen, and who could so inhabit, yes and BE there AS a man with nothing to yield to the most intense evil ? Who but the One who made mankind, one who could without the liabilities of sin, which the devil loves to lampoon, crush that fulminating foe! To crush him in form of a man, this would show for all time that the creation was not inherently wrong, but capable not only of avoiding sin, but despatching the marksman who sought to ruin people by it! With love went wisdom no less!
Not for one day was the fallen state of man left, as if God could or would tolerate untruth in residence, without the savour and focus of remedy. God is not willing to have ANYTHING stand which derogates truth, abases spirituality; and though His plans are long, He left it in no doubt: He has always the power to overturn any rebellion, and takes his strategy in terms of that depth of wisdom which sees every side, facet and perspective. This He can do without taking any time, for time as we have it, is itself an invention of His own (Romans 8:38-39).
Had man fallen by Satan ? then through man Satan would fall before God! Would Satan ruin God's fascinatingly remarkable creation of liberty of thought and conscience in man ? Then God through that very fascinating and remarkable creation known as man, would smash the devil from his lordly pose, and put him under the foot of the same. Small wonder that Satan was no interested in wooing Christ! (Matthew 4). On that leant the full weight of history, which is not a disordered oddity, but a list of knaveries and naiveties so profound, interspersed with heroism, courage and love of truth amid those redeemed of the Lord, and His many miraculous interpositions, that it attests what happens to choice instruments, such as man, when, given a will, they use it to abscond, rescind the truth if they were able, and loiter as exploiters of a misused liberty, often little better than drunken sailors, to use the saw, on the rampage. There is more than life at sea that makes man turbulent; nor is this or any thing a necessity for it, since God is near. When man is far, the limits are as seen... scarcely visible. Yet the results are VERY visible, and the mercies which abound still more so. If you have to look, that is what eyes are for!
Not by himself would man do this, for God Himself would do it, and the vulnerable flesh of man would be so dealt with - in fact in incarnation - that not mere man, but deity in that battle dress, not merely helping, but BEING man, would turn the devil's work to ruin.
What then of man's deliverance from such brash, dynamic infidelity as belonged to the devil, and spread like fungal infection ? It would not be by His own power. It was God's own promise for God's own action. The very head of evil would be bruised under the foot of the Son of Man, and God Himself would engage in Himself (as later seen for example in Hosea 13:14, Micah 5:1-3, Isaiah 48:16, Psalm 40 with Psalm 2, 45).
But how would it be presented as merely a bruising of the heel (Genesis 3:15), which in fact, as we progress through Numbers, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Psalms, we find, would in a fuller presentation of the divine covenant of cure, of remedy, of restoration, be a DEATH! The Messiah must die (Psalm 40, 22), and God AS man (Hosea 13:14, Micah 5:1-3, Isaiah 48:16) would reach this sublimity of personal sacrifice to remove the impediment to eternal life, menaced by eternal death!
The answer appears both simple and clear. Death is but for a moment for the righteous, for the Righteous One in whom is no sin, through whom ALONE is life to be found for sinners, even eternity of it. Through the supervening circumstance of resurrection, breaking death like a piece of cake with a cake fork, making it look ridiculous when faced with the power and regal compassion of God, the thing would appear almost like a bruise.
That is, a bruise of the heel, it is bad enough when made, and may be most painful; but it heals rapidly. It does not STAY bruised. In fact, as Hosea 7 showed, it would last only three days, this sundering of the stricken body of the sublime Lord. There would be, so far from ignominy, instead triumph, a result so distant from failure as life from death, incandescent power itself applied for victory.
As Isaiah put it in prospect in prophecy,
"He will swallow up death in victory"
- Isaiah 28:5, and again in Hosea 13,
"O grave, I will be your destruction!";
and indeed in doing so, God said this:
|"I will ransom them from the power of the hell".|
The 'grave' in translation renders the realm where the wicked are turned (Psalm 9), and it with the uttermost gratitude that one recalls this fascinating fact of divine prodigy, wrought in mercy, performed in practicality, and consummated in resurrection. God gave and the One given DID it all till it was finished (John 19:30).
Small wonder then that there is so much rejoicing at the unspoilt virgin (Isaiah 7 cf. SMR pp. 770ff., Matthew 1:23), whose child is born, who son is to be, be called and show Himself as Wonderful Counsellor, the everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace*1, whose kingdom will know no end. Who would not rejoice at such a thing! I certainly would, and DO! That is the point: keep it up, walk in the Spirit, and if the Spirit of God is in you, how else, but "Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice!" gladly said with Paul.
Thus from anguished darkness (Isaiah 8), we proceed through this Child to be born, to everlasting peace, amid the thrill of learning that His Kingdom is everlasting, just as one of His names is, after the introduction of Wonderful Counsellor, Father Everlasting, before coming to rest as Prince of Peace, whose kingdom shall never end. This is the annunciation of that colossus of grace, God Himself ransoming, as in Hosea 13:14, the Lord Himself BECOMING the Good shepherd (as in Ezekiel 34), not by proxy or by prophetic appeal, but using mankind, in the person of a virgin, for translation beyond empathy, into incarnation. How could love go further! This work done, its application followed, and does follow, and will follow till judgment supervenes, of which Christ, the very centre, the epicentre of this divine thrust, made very due warning (Matthew 24:36ff.).
Thus Genesis 3:15 alerts the mind from the first to these further prophetic and then historical developments. Here is the incandescent light of God, refusing any compact, compromise, concession, stain on His glory, even for one day. On the very day of man's failure, and of God's announcing of it, on that self-same day of the Fall of man, there was shown the fervour of God to overcome it. This, it was articulated, declared, decisive. God is indeed of purer eyes than to behold iniquity! as Habakkuk propounded.
Without remedy made clear, God's whole name would have been soiled in this: that BEING Almighty, and BEING omniscient, He yet, otherwise, would have failed to prevent what contradicted His very nature. He would have failed without address, even amid heralded rebellion, letting it pass without remedy. He would have suffered the testimony opposite to truth to endure on an earth which nevertheless, misaligned and unremedied, had no resolution. He could have destroyed it, but did not, preferring at this stage its continuance. He did not; and SO He DID speak and ACT and foretell the remedy in what would become nothing less than redemption.
Ruinous rubbish would have been the word of description for a world in this case; and this the God whose word constitutes truth, whose words and works agree, for whom the lie is the affront of war, the desolation of what He is and presents, would not endure. Indeed, the Lord could endure such blatant contradiction in form and word, only if He were impotent, since then He must. But such a Being is not God; and the God who is, acted, at once.
It is in the Bible alone that this reality is seen: there the Lord is, at once directing rebuke to evil, indicating the ultimate remedy to come, and providing in judgment and mercy a word of revelation so intense, that at once the cause of the evil and the coming cure are both clear-cut and announced. The thing is not distant or delayed: it is immediate. No system is endured which testifies amiss.
An alleged God who did not do this, would be no God, but a god of the human heart, mind and imagination, futilely keeping abreast of developments, not destroying what imposed on truth, nor yet remedying it, but living with it. What price then wisdom ? or power ? or purity! No other religious faith has this point covered, but all move amidst a fallen earth without an immediate remedy: long time passes, but either never is the sin shown, far less the remedy, or the alleged action is left so late that much of history becomes a mere passing without the divine qualities manifesting themselves, a situation where some 'god' is merely immersed in this world! The God of truth is not like that, and has given freedom its place, grace its work, with love the motivation, and He has made it simple, free and glorious. Time is an introduction. It always was. Eternity comes, and its way is open, event the subject of a free invitation.
When we move to our next text in ascending mathematical order, from Genesis 3:15 to John 3:16, we come to more knowledge, with more understanding adorning what is already in the Bible, such a revelation of remedy and majesty, power and wisdom, as to stand apart from all else. Here the intimations of the prophets become the exclamations of God. We attend therefore to this, our next verse, which concerns itself with ...
THE DECISIVE DIVINE DECLARATION
This John 3:16 leaves no room for doubt. Some might have been wondering: If God is loving and good, why does He permit evil, and this has been the topic of Habakkuk, though he put it in a far more reverent fashion (see Possess Your Possessions Vol. 5, Ch. 8). The answer has already been outlined in this present volume. Love requires liberty, or it cannot be; liberty enables evil by opting for what expresses the self and its imaginary sanctity, reverence for one's own soul, this above all, and for whatever its preferences may be, muddied or pure.
Even if they be pure in ideal, they can include such an underlying impurity as to be forgetful of the Rock which begot them, to use biblical language, of the Creator who made them, of His will, word and Being, of His availability and His ways. These apply both as the way TO Himself and IN Himself, once one has come to Him. They relate to His command that all men everywhere repent, and to His redemption, His liberal payment of love, to demit sin by paying its bill in His own person, if only one receives this cover, one which is both judicial and personal in character, for we deal with the living God, than whom none is more lively.
Thus in the PRESENCE, loudly proclaimed for millenia, of this His Gospel, His good news, which many, pampered and spoilt, dismiss while they indulge every lustful appetite of mind, spirit or body, or any combination that appeals, in a world which continues in an inane rebellion, there is an answer. It is in terms of will, where the problem lies, and of course of all the resultants of its misuse! (cf. Ephesians 2:1-12, 4:17-19).
Thus the problem with evil, it is not
essentially one for the mind. If you rebel, and have a pardon on offer amid the results
of rebellion, there is no intellectual problem, only a moral one: why on earth
you do not repent! If God is your enemy, by your own lassitude or imperiousness
or whatever other fault lies on your will like heavy, yellow and green
smog, such as one once saw in Los Angeles, then what do you expect ? If you
indulge in religions without ground, attestation, verification or
validation in the presence of what has all these things in clamorous and clear
degree, what do you expect ? (cf. SMR Chs. 1,
RELIGION, RELIGIOSITY AND REALITY IN CHRIST).
Of God's foreknowledge, and His power and prevenient mercies, and ultimate grace, we have had many occasions to deal; and this expression of love, that He misses none whom His love may reach, but compels none who from the first, He has foreknown as distinctively desiring no relationship*2, completes the clarity of the consistent picture. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
Now we have in John 3:16 a simple, a direct, a pervasively applicable statement from the only God.
"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life."
Elements in this declaration are exceedingly clear.
1) Firstly, love led. This was
motivational and directive.
2) Love was so intense that even the
total results achieved by it,
3) Gift followed. In its activation, love
4) The gift was of the most exceedingly
intensively felt kind,
5) The giving was not compulsory, as to
6) The special objective of this love is
to deliver from perishing.
Much more one might imagine someone wanting to save old jewelry, which had come adrift from its securing on some pendant.
God's love was bent on saving amid the entire world, WHOEVER believed in this sacred gift of His only begotten Son. Clearly, BEING begotten, He is human in format now; being His Son, and not a mere oddity, He has like characteristics, as is made clear in John 8:58 and 1:1-14, with 5:19ff., and John 14. In believing in Him, therefore, one is believing in God. Christ emphasised this in John 8.
However the intention was not only to deliver from perishing (and which of us does not lament the passing of someone who in leaving this world is at least for a time, departed from sight, though not necessarily from life, some being saved), but to make a further gift.
7) Love sought to impart eternal life to those who believe, and so acted.
In John 3:17 we learn more, most clearly.
1) The extent of the love was the world.
2) The exclusion in the task, was of
judging the world.
3) The objective was world-wide,
inclusive, though the condition remained as stated.
4) The fulfilment of the objective
5) On this mission, so characterised in
intent and extent, the only begotten Son was sent by God.
Thus love led, the gift followed, grace
But in what must one believe ? It is IN HIM.
Who then is He ? He is as detailed by the apostle John and his colleagues who had been with Him and known Him from the first. What does He say of His words ? It is that they are commanded by God (John 12:48ff.), and that those who love Him not, will not keep them; whereas if you do have these His commands and keep them, you do love Him (John 14:21ff.). Is it then by obedience that you are saved ? No, this is merely a matter of recognition.
To use the words of Christ in Matthew 7, a good tree bears good fruit. However, the fruit does not plant the tree; so in Matthew 15:13, you find this, that UNLESS God Himself has planted you, you will be uprooted. There are no intermediaries (I Timothy 2); there is no other name (Acts 4:11-12). In this expression of God in man, a perfect exhibition (John 14), you find the truth, and no one comes to the Father except by Him who IS the truth, as God incarnate (Hebrews 1-2).
For this One, then, with salvation to give, not in this phase as a matter of judgment but of escaping it (cf. Hebrews 2:1-3, 6:19, John 3:17), judgment is excluded in the mission centre; but salvation is the focus, the world the scope of the mission. If the offer is excluded, then judgment remains (John 3:16), and the objective of removing perishing, is not there reached in this world.
There is no question of the love of God failing in its stated objective, for its declared parameters are believing in Him, and He, having made man in His own image, is not denying His own works, or 'saving' what is a mere ruptured rump. It is the soul, the life He saves.
There is no question of escaping this responsibility on the part of man, towards God's gracious and extensive gift, so oriented as stated in the mission in John 3:16-17. Indeed, in John 3:19, God, having made Himself most clear in the preceding verses, proceeds to note that there is, despite this love, a ground of condemnation.
This is no fudge factor; it is part of the nature of the gift. That ground, of course, is not, by a simple contradiction, to be found in the nature or extent of His own love, the intensity and extent of which has been categorically stated. It is to be found where the preceding words would indicate. It is found in the objective, in man. Some prefer darkness, the dismal dismissal of this gift which love led to give to the entire world for its salvation; and it is THIS which is the stated ground of condemnation. If love, in its own milieu, in its own gift, is so miserably dismissed, then the staggering thing is this, not that there is condemnation, but that it is the resultant of preference, one NOT for this light, for this gift, for this grace, for this only begotten Son, but for a life and a world without this.
Alas, the very extent of the love and of the gift is shown in the resultant of its dismissal BY THOSE WHO PREFER DARKNESS. This is found in John 3:36. It is the wrath of God over the dismissive.
So far, then, from being inept, inert, inactive, God has not only searched out sin and from the first provided news of His detestation of it and remedy for it, but has shown His motive in so doing, its result, and the result, long known, of death in curse, for its dismissal: since the sin in the first place had just this result, which the love sought to intervene in avoiding for its objects, not less in scope than the world.
If anything could be clearer, it is difficult to know how.
That in foreknowledge with the predestination which RESULTS from that, a confirmation of the realities of the outreach effective of God's divine love, there is to be none lost whom God in His love has found, beyond time, is a most reassuring fact, based on the omni-competence of God. It is found in a knowledge that is quintessential and of truth, moving from the first to the completing of the work of wonder, of God. NO ONE is going to be kept out who in any sense of integrity might have come. Though men mislead men, none misleads God. From foreknowledge before time, before any fall, to glorification, God has His way (Romans 8:29ff. gives the circuit of events). It is not as a sergeant-major, but as One who loves, seeking and finding those who are His. IF, said Jesus the Christ, you had not heard these words which no other man ever spoke, and seen these works, which no other man ever did, you would not have had sin (the topic is death outside Christ or life within Him by faith). The rich young ruler was loved by Christ, but not arraigned! (Mark 10:17ff.). Love has its integrity and its restraint. The man went sorrowing, his grief a measure of his voluntary loss, known by God, seen in history, as in Luke 9:26).
Once again, it could not be clearer.
Informed rejection or its equivalent as known and foreknown in the mind and heart of God, is the criterion of this mission not reaching any in this world. Since then, even this is foreknown by God, there is no confusion. The immensity and intensity of His love, and the sublimity of His power see to that! How He, in this love, mourns for those whose preference is eternally known to be away from Him, as in Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff., Isaiah 48:16ff., Jeremiah 9, 48:36. Even in the case of Babylon, He reviews His willingness to save (Jeremiah 51:9), just as for Israel (Hosea 7:1). Indeed this is a grief which is the correlative of the love, for the world, not its evil systems, but its inhabitants (Ezekiel 33:11, I Timothy 4:10, I John 2:1ff.).
If then He does not pay for those not believing, it is nothing to do with any shortage of love, but with the realities of truth. Those for whom He is delivered up, whose sins He actually bears, have ALL things (Romans 8:32). Others are offered this, but do not avail themselves of His loving gift of grace. Redemption for them is a matter of saying and alleging; but actually there is denial and it is all talk, pretence or pretension, deceiving God not at all, who even derides the gloss without reality, at times even with irony (as in Revelation 3, Psalm 82).
Thus we have found in these verses in John 3, the expedition of love, and where its gift is rejected despite its scope of desire (cf. Colossians 1:19ff.), then there is the imposition of judgment. But even this, it is only the confirmed reality of what was already in store through the severance from God which is the birth-wrong (as distinct from birthright) of all (Psalm 51, Romans 5:18-19). Thus through Christ many are CONSTITUTED righteous, the gift being given as in 5:17, and through Adam mankind is CONSTITUTED sinners. Such is the teaching of Romans 5:19.
Ignore the diagnosis and die then, but if the doctor dies before you do, don't blame Him! Rather receive Him, for there is no bill (Isaiah 55): why labour for frippery when life is available free ? So the Lord pleads in Isaiah 55.
To be sure, it is not a life of sin that is the follow, sin the dereliction! but then what is the good of living without the service of your manufacturer, and the acquaintance of Him in whose image you have been made! It is mere perversity of spirit and darkness of mind. Yet if you love yourself more than God, this being like a grain of wheat which does not fall into the ground but rots, so be it (John 12:24). There is no military manoeuvre to 'get' you. Perishing is a very lively option, and Proverbs 1 has the case in a very summary format, which with Proverbs 8 at its end, has a lovely and yet significant warning!
So God in love has made an expedition not for gold (He made all of it anyway), but for souls. Praise God He is so thoroughgoing. Slackness has no appeal, for in man, the value is far other than befits that, and vulnerability far greater than allows it.
THE PENETRATING INVITATION
We come now to Revelation 3:17-22.
"Because you say, I am rich,
and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;
and do not know that you are wretched, and miserable,
and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire,
that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed,
and that the shame of your nakedness should not appear;
and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see.
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:
be zealous therefore, and repent.
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:
if any man hear My voice, and open the door,
I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.
To the one who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me in My throne,
even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Here we have SAYING, that is the proud ostentation of the one whose spiritual life is signified in his or her own view, as one of fulness and cover and fitness. There is certain luxurious rhetoric about this claim, and the Lord dismisses it gravely. In fact, this religious fantasy is false, fraudulent. The self-satisfied arbiter of his own position in life, is utterly wrong, the truth being diametrically opposed. Spiritual eyes are not seeing - they need eye-salve to see! Otherwise the objective fact of the nakedness of the soul, its non-cover, its utter desolatory condition in denial of the gift of God, will lead to shambles and shame.
While there is a command to repent (Luke 13), yet this is the urgency of necessity, that it be faced. There is here, in the intensity of the love of God, however, an invitation. To be sure, if you are blind in sin, you will not be inclined to open the door to its enemies! Nevertheless, the God who has foreknown His own, entering by His Spirit can lead to repentance so that the door is indeed opened. And never forget this: this foreknowledge of God is not some substitute for the actual operation of the preference of man, but its guarantee! God is its Guarantor! It is a real response made sure in the presence of sin. God's love is as stated; man's case is as stated; God's operation is correctly therefore characterised in this way. It is you who open or shut, even though in current state this privilege requires a divine operation of an incredible mercy and a glorious grace.
Thus in addition to the saying, the boastful blast, there is the hearing, the needful humbling and listening. Hear and open, for this is an invitation. Being called come! Remember Matthew 23:37, for it is like a hen calling her chicks, and how often He calls! Love is like that. There is an end to it as in Isaiah 57:15ff., for man being a created being, there is a limit to his power to endure. Yet look at Manasseh and marvel (II Chronicles 33:10ff.). There is no limit to what the Lord can do! Among ear doctors, there is none like Him!
See on this text, Isaiah 9:6, and its closer and more extensive context:
Massifs of Pure Splendour Ch. 10.
On this topic, see from recent publication:
POSSESS YOUR POSSESSIONS Vol. 5, Ch. 10, Ch. 6.
For further reference in this field see the following assemblage.
THE AVAILING, UNRESTRAINED LOVE OF GOD
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 2,
The Glow of Predestinative Power Chs. 1, 4, 8,
SMR Appendix B, Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 8,
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3,
How Great is the God We Adore Ch. 3, 3 Epilogue,
Repent or Perish Ch. 1,
Predestination and Freewill, esp. Section III.
A useful combination of references on this topic:
The Glow of Predestinative Power Ch. 4,
Christ's Ineffable Peace and Grace Ch. 2,
Great Execrations ... , Chs. 7 and 9,
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes
and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 6, esp. *3
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3,
Celestial Harmony for the Terrestrial Host Ch. 2,
Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Ch. 8,
Deity and Design ... Ch. 10
See also with special reference to the reality of the love, its purity, sincerity,
that God is love, removing errors of Calvin and Clark:
Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Chs. 7 and 9,
A Time to Praise God, Appendix 1, with
Message ... Ch. 9,
Marvels of Predestination ... Ch. 4, Ch. 6, Supplement 6,
The Spiritual Sagacity of Predestination in Love Ch. 4,
The Pride of Life ... Ch. 7,
Dizzy Dashes, Heady Clashes and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 6, esp. *3
Massifs of Pure Splendour Ch. 7.
A further Useful Grouping on Love, Predestination, the Bible
and the Beliefs from the Word of God to the Mind of Faith ...
The Glow of Predestinative Power ... Ch. 4, 5;
The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 3,
Christ's Ineffable Peace ... Ch. 2 (extensive), 3,
Massifs of Pure Splendour Ch. 7,
Jesus Christ Defaced ... Ch. 2;
Gratitude for His Glorious Grace Ch. 2
Outrageous Outages ... and the Courage of Christ Ch. 9;
The Majestic Might of the Merciful Messiah Ch. 5
(the extensive attestations in the Bible, of the love of God for the lost,
without attenuation of heart), with
Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah,
Chs. 8, 9);
Great Execrations ... Greater Grace Chs. 7, 9.