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FUNCTIONS AND FAVOURS
FROM THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
MEANING OF THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
The spirit of truth, like the kingdom of heaven, is one of the phrases which Christ used with spectacular impact. In these ways, important realities are brought to light speedily, like brilliant codes; but they are more than that, for their very constituent words bring out the truth as they arrive.
Truth ? What is truth ? asked Pilate, almost as if to denounce the very concept. However, truth includes quite obviously what is without intentional distortion, as to fact or face, and carefully shows what is the object of concern, what happens for or to it, or what is operational in it. Reductionism is a chief enemy of truth, declaring that this or that is merely the other, when operationally this is neither so nor to be derivative from known sources of such a kind. It is defiant guesswork, based on nothing, arriving nowhere, like an airline determined to betray its passengers, after using advertising hype to get them in, taking them elsewhere.
Straight lies are also excluded from truth, when the speaker declares what he knows to clash with fact. What is fact ? whatever occurs is fact. What of interpretation ? whatever assorts well with all known data, events, happenings of whatever kind, and the laws of logic, these things are basic as a minimum for any truth, since their violation removes ground for truth in all endeavours, both in input and in method, making fantasy functional and reality indistinguishable. The follies of Immanuel Kant in this respect are noted briefly in SMR Ch. 5, and at length in Predestination and Freewill, Section 4.
You cannot delete objective causality as a means of happenings, without using it as a weapon in ANY endeavour to do so, for in ATTRIBUTING grounds for causality, you are invoking it, and hence merely begging the question.
What is coherent within itself is also a criterion of truth. Objective truth is not the same as truth not seen by any subject, that is, any person, since that is merely a semantic confusion. IF you make whatever any person or subject thinks or says, to be called subjective, then you are simply begging another question. The question is this. What is the status of the thoughts and speech of that subject ? Is it in accord with a merely arbitrary and personal inclination, or subject to reality, and hence objective ?
That question is not answered by the mere slide of having two definitions of terms, subjective equals relating to a person, and subjective equals lacking in objectivity. ANY person as such NOT lacking in objectivity, ultimately, has to be God in this, that ONLY He can by nature exclude defects, deficiencies, orientation errors and the like. Since He is a personal , the knowledge of this Personal Being makes objective truth obtainable by those who are not God, when by the very Spirit of Truth, He invests them, enables them and illuminates them. The criterion remains as always the actual word of God, since man varies, however once enlightened, and while he may be used to exposit, to expound the word of God, THIS is not infallible, but only the word of the One who is!
Further, man as biblically in the image of God - and we are examining the Bible in its consistency and scope here, its adequacy to cover all aspects - is by nature in an enabled mode TOWARDS truth: though for that very same reason of the nature of his creation, he be also equipped with independence sufficient for defiance of God and hence of truth. Accordingly, to lie, whether only discretely and deviously, or openly and brazenly, or both, this is an option, and in those not yet regenerated into alliance with God, this is a considerable one (cf. I John 2:22). It is when his natural enablement, hurt by unnatural but historical sin, is met by the Spirit of truth, and he is delivered from warping, wiliness and wantonry, that he is re-enabled to find the truth and in principle and normal practice, both to present it and to do so with that chaste concern, which does not add to or subtract from the intrinsically pure word of the living and Almighty God, who came to earth once, and died once for sin.
On the positive side, when so transformed, man is in tune with, harmony with, alliance with the truth, and it comes like necessary food, protective from the artfulness of spiritual asthenics, feeding the robust. When man becomes a child of God, he receives the divine tutelage.
This regeneration in fact, again in terms of the Bible in its adequacy and sufficiency to cover all aspects in mutual harmony in its analysis and presentation from God (cf. SMR), involves a review of his spiritual structure, which has suffered an earthquake from sin, its lines of crack, its moved foundations, and restoration of solidity and limpidity. Man by himself is often explicit in the worship of gods, either acknowledged as in Hinduism or unacknowledged as in Communism, and its gods of forces which bring out of no law, strict law, on which the theory is based (cf. News 37, 97, 98). This means that man has to be rebuilt, like an earthquake city; and more than this,since he is personal and has a spirit of enterprise, original thought and self-examination, it means he has to be reborn, the mode for persons on this earth. That requires a creative function comparable to his first arrival on this planet earth, and its biblical name is "regeneration'', in that man is first of all 'generated' by God, His speech in DNA, not least, and fallen, failed, defunct in objectivity because of a lying, or devious, or deceitful, or self-based spirit, now divorced from his Maker (Ephesians 4:17-19), he needs a relodgement. Indeed, the method of renewal is as deep as to be called RE-generation.
That is wrought by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:3-7), on the basis of the meeting of the law of truth, that sin means death and man is sinner, and to cover this without mere quietus but with truth, Christ has met this death for which the Father sent Him, in love to mankind (Titus 2-3). In this, He has become an adversary to judgment on man (I John 2:1-2), a barrister who pays His own fees, and this because of divine love, in which not onlly did the the Father send Him, and delightedly in such a mission, He came (cf. Psalm 40). The recipient of that judgment, therefore, in Himself, as the only way to clear the books, remove the clamour of justice, prevent subjectivity and restore truth undimmed, undamaged and uncompromised, to man, He became sin (that is, a sin offering on which sin is placed) for us (II Corinthians 5:17-20) even He who knew no sin, that in Him we might through gift to faith, become so allied to the righteousness of God (Romans 5:17), that it is actually set to our accounts, and in this, as those with a visa, we live till perfection itself comes, at His return and the resurrection of all who are His, to join Him in that great exploit.
What then ? Christ came to provide cover for heaven, when the last dregs of dissipation are at last eliminated (Hebrews 12). In so acting, the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of Truth, is therefore acting both IN the truth and FOR the truth, its very spirit nameable as that OF Truth. He shows the truth, both in focus on Christ (John 16), and in the authenticity of the word conveyed from Christ by Him. He applies it to the heart and sustains in strength those who so receive it.
Indeed, there is even in fallen man a recognition not seldom, that there is in truth not only a factual identification of what occurred with what is said about it, without making prevarication or excuse which dims the fact or daunts it, that is, objectively, but more. There is in truth also a spirit which relishes, loves, embraces, is zealous for the preservation IN WORD, of the realities of the case. Such is to be found more or less, in this person or that, sometimes in flashing fire. The spirit of truth is not an alien thought for man; but in him, it is but a reflection, until the Spirit of Truth personally abides in him (Colossians 1:27, Romans 8:8).
Prevarication and extenuation are in this way, NEVER allowed to alter that to which extenuation is extended, as if the fact would change because of love and concern. Rather and instead, the challenge of fact is met in purity by the cover of cost to truth, which in and as Jesus Christ (John 14:6), who is the way, the life and the truth, is crushed: crushed ? but this, only to arise from the very dead, shedding neither reality nor body nor anything else on the way,. In this, Christ is disruptive of disruption, corrosive of corruption, defiant against dissolution, possessor and giver of eternal life; and being vital and victorious, His has as God shown to man a better way, based on better premises and confirmed promises, for life never to be smattered to judgment, or chatted to confusion.
Such is the resurrection of the Truth, when assailed, assaulted and assigned to death, as if objectivity would never again be even possible; when in fact, subjectivity has done its worst, lies being lord, and has failed in that self-same resurrection as declared indeed by that very same Spirit of Truth (Romans 1:4). Truth was smitten, but the very Spirit of truth has announced, in confirmation of the facts (cf. SMR Ch. 6), that He is arisen, and He has announced that though once dead, He is alive forevermore (Revelation 1:18-19), since as to God, death, His own penalty for sin, CANNOT hold Him (Acts 2:24).
This declaration of His resurrection is something the Spirit of Truth is able to do since Jesus Chrisr's arousal and arrival as non-rotting (Acts 2) after His murder has a result. It means that the Spirit of Truth has this to say, that He did not rot; and so saying it, He shows it the minimum or rather a part of it, for restoration to God (Romans 10:9). What then of this verse in the word of God ? It this means not only that one confesses, own up to Jesus Christ as Lord, the triumphant Saviour, God as man making man again fit to meet with God by divine sacrifice (II Corinthians 5:17-21), but that one BELIEVES in one's HEART that He has been raised from the dead. That is a matter for the enduement with the Spirit of Truth, the anti-warping, anti-devious reality in Spirit; and it has as a pre-condition logically and experientially both, RE-GENERATION. As to that, it is itself a logical consequence of pardon and restoration, through the medium of faith, and a ground for peace, which is both internal and objective.
WORD ON THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH and
THE WORD OF GOD
Jesus Christ spoke of the work of the Spirit of Truth as seen in John 16:8-15). He is to CONVICT (that is, bring to acute consciousness in the mind and heart of man) the world of sin (because they do not believe in Him who came, declarative, decisive, empirically incapable of being other than God, foretold and completing His testimony in detailed conformity to the predictions, which alone God could perform*1). Of what is He to convict the world ?
First it is of sin, through such unbelief.
Secondly, it is of righteousness, which is the obverse: that is, this shows that Jesus Christ being righteous and being no more on this earth, since it found itself at large incompatible with Him, being seized by desire to act as if God itself: one thing follows. What is that ? It is left as a reluctant residue, like dregs in a wine barrel, the spirit gone, due for judgment, arrested while the Gospel of divine mercy pounds the pavements of earth, sings over the mountain tops and moves down to the valleys, crosses the seas and meets all races (Matthew 24:14).
Thirdly, He, the Spirit of Truth is to convict the world of judgment, Christ revealed, because the leader of this world is judged; and as to that leader (John 14:30), he is such that his correlation with Christ, his affinity for Him, his ability to co-operate with or even to understand Him, is ZERO. "He has nothing in Me", He declared.
This means that His work is to focus the life, work and wonders of Christ, to apply it to mind and heart, and to move into hearts, via the spirit of man, created in his construction as its logical basis, so that the issues are clear, the weight is felt and the pardon is made clear to those so convicted and if so be, convinced. It is this same Spirit of Truth, of Christ, which inspired the prophets (since He was pre-incarnation, the source of the revelation provided, as the everlasting Word of God) as seen in I Peter 1:10ff..
In II Peter 1:19ff., we learn that He did this work of inspiration leading to revelation, with ultimate divine power and authority (20). It is the work of the Spirit of God to present this, His word from the living and eternal Word, this outcome, so that this written word comes into being; and it is not a matter of any individual's understanding or interpretation (19). It is worlds apart, yes and more than that, from any such origin, basis or coming to be. It is sui generis, of His own, not of anything comparable; for with God, nothing is comparable. To what will you compare Me, He asks.
Rather is this the case: that what is the holy scripture is released beyond the will of man altogether, and that, says Peter in II Peter 2, is based on one salient fact. All such words of God, all prophecy, not only did NOT come by any man's private notion or nostrum, idea or thought, but DID come by the impelling power of the Holy Spirit.
That is the stated ground for their being so describable, as outside man's peculiarities and particular participation in culture or anything else. Not by man's will or thought were these words loosed, released, says Peter, FOR they were impelled by the driving power of the Holy Spirit. That is the force of the logic, and there is no other coherence. Indeed, Peter declares that the prophetic word is a light in the darkness of developing time, of which we do well to pay heed, consider, watch, SINCE the source of old was not the opinings of men, but the driving power of the Spirit of God. Not only was the (literally) loosing, origin, making available, of these prophetic scriptures NOT a matter of private, inward, personally idiosyncratic, the penchant and plan of man, says this statement from God, it is not even anything to do with the WILL of man at all. Exclude it as nothing to do with any personal, particular man, and then reinforce this by the more general statement that the will of man is apartheid here, in this, that what the Holy Spirit brings from the mouth of God is not what man brings from the mouth of man. It is not only not in the power of man to do such things as are to be found in these prophetic scriptures; it does not even attach to his will at all.
Neither man's church nor his heart nor his head, nor anything else that is not PERSONALLY GOD had ANYTHING whatever to do with these biblical books. Man in church or out of it, has gifts according to a measure (Romans 12:3), and those in the Church, all of them, are exhorted by Paul to think of themselves soberly, according to that measure. If, on the other hand, you are God, then it is yours to claim and such action is for you; but if you are man, it is NOT. Any man who takes it upon himself to lay claim to this sort of inspiration, origin, basis, power, to mingle with or mangle these things, as if on a par with them, is guilty therefore of an infinite error, mixing up God and man concerning what God has done, and that to which He claims absolute claim as His own territory by right of birth, origin, delivery into this world, loosing these things by the driving power of His own Holy Spirit. One might reflect further, by way of application: if Arabs are trying to reclaim the promised land from Israel (cf. Galloping Events Chs. 2 and 4 , SMR Appendix A), contrary to the divine award (including the time out for sin as in Leviticus 26), and this is leading to follies all but innumerable, how much worse is it when the territory of God, His own holy Word, infinitely apart from the will and ways of man by express statement, is made subject to "authority" of man, on specious and unreal grounds.
The point is not who is to interpret the word of God, but why it is reliable as a light in a dark place; and the issue is not what man is to lay claim to action here, within the deposition of divine meaning, but how this reliability and edification of prophetic scriptures is so absolute in times of futuristic darkness for Christians. It is NOT because someone may take it upon himself in direct affront to the exclusion of Matthew 23:8-10, to 'unbind' this word, but the direct opposite. It is because God took it upon Himself to DRIVE home these scriptures, past the will and ways, the restrictions and limited gifts of man, whoever he be, from the infinitude of His OWN divine wisdom, that free of man's errors and designated limits (Romans 12:3), they stand like rock. Man as one whole or man as one individual, to him it is NOT given to work at this level, BECAUSE holy men of OLD had the ineluctable power of the Holy Spirit producing the result which stands for all time, past every claimant and tempest, with an entire sufficiency for the task. It is God's territory, and let no man meddle now, as no man meddled in their origin and deposit for the human race.
It is to be noted that the milieu, the area of thought is to be found in the parallel as well as in other aspects of this statement in Peter. Not only is the origin, the unfolding (as in the case of Daniel, who declared that God was a revealer of secrets), of these prophetic scriptures NOT of a private, personal, individual, gift-limited kind, as might be found in the Church in its various gift-structures. No it is NOT that; but it is also the case in answering the question of the reliability of these words, that holy men of old DID NOT act according to their own will. In other words, we are in the arena of what happened, and how it might be characterised. WHEN holy men of old acted, the matter in no way depended on their personal insights or interpretations of things; and further, the will of man WAS irrelevant in this declared area of discourse.
That is the teaching in these three verses, and this is an application. The source of these useful prophecies being the driving inspirational power of the Spirit of God, moving in man beyond his control, two things are clear: firstly, they are reliable and valuable intimations of fact for the future, and secondly, their source was in no contradiction to this origin, and they were not, repeat NOT founded on the interpreting power of man. God's word is holy, instructive, reliable and to be studied in the prophecies already made in this day of Peter, in the those given, for it is beyond changing climes, cultures and novel events which the future has stored up in itself, and the will of man and the limited gifts of man do not even apply (cf. Deity and Design ... Section 5, Endnote, *1A, which also covers these issues).
It is not saying that because its origin is the illimitable power of God, driving men like a tempest in its deposition, that therefore some one person or other, among men should interpret it, since this has no logical force. From that, nothing follows: it could result in anything in that limp idea. When however you realise that the power of God is being contrasted in times past, with the puniness of man, of his individual ideas versus God's originating control, and that therefore it is reliable, and to be followed EVEN in the future where ONLY God has power to know, so that danger has no bearing, the directions having already penetrated the potential darkness, then the conclusions follow from the premises; and in no other way is there logical force in this reasoned stated. We do not move from the matter of past origination, shown as above to be the milieu, and one meticulously described, to present claims, a notoriously inept change of venue! It means that GOD drew out the words and thrust them by grace down to man by overwhelming power, and that THEREFORE they are no way dependent on man.
It argues equally, that SINCE they are in no way dependent on man, THEREFORE they are trustworthy for the future, and THUS the apostle's call to heed them (some do NOT, as if it were some kind of virtue, but ALL the word of God is profitable for instruction as in II Timothy 3:16), is reasonable, forceful and advice of great value. HENCE he gives that advice with his compassionate concern for the help to be given to those for whom his heart cares, as implied in I Peter 5:7.
Accordingly, as the infinite knowledge of God is the source of this prophet word, SO its adequacy is instantaneous, invulnerable and secure, as is always the case with the word of God (cf. Isaiah 59:21, Matthew 5:17-20). The profound power and wisdom of the origin of the word of God is both ground for use and free from man's weak input: cease indeed from man, as Isaiah 2:22 declares, for of what account is he! If he relents, repents, receives the Lord, has saving faith in Him, without works, receiving the immutable Gospel of grace, well; and if he thus be adopted by God, if possible, better yet; but if he spouts out his puny opinions (as forbidden in Matthew 23:8-10, Galatians 1), as if parallel to the word of God, then not well, for this is no basis for living, or in any kind of contest with God.
No Church has any such authority, and any body, person, organisation which claims it is in statuesque violation of the absolute prohibition on taking a superior teaching role, as if power rested in you.
The only exception has a name above every name, has and never has had any sin, is eternal, above the heavens, possesses ALL authority in heaven and in earth, and is beyond any comparison among all men (Philippians 2), being God from the first, God the Word, and to the last (Revelation 21-22; 5). If anyone can claim to be sinless, born of a virgin, raised from the dead (as in Revelation 1:18-19), to have personally borne sin as a vicarious sacrifice, offered to all, received by those who believe, and to be called, as the historic original, Jesus Christ, to have fulfilled all prophecy and to be currently received into heaven (Acts 3:19ff.), until the regeneration of all things, and hence not on this earth at all in body: then that person might claim to be this ONLY teacher who has any authority in his own name, who can add in any way to the foundational and operational teaching of Jesus Christ, the One now in heaven, whose Gospel has not changed and will not (Galatians 1), from the days of Paul till now.
No one on this earth is such; and any on this earth who ignores these things, as I John 2:19, is fraudulent, be it man or church or any other body, religious or otherwise, who dares to speak of the ultimate truth in final terms. Specially gifted persons (and each church member of the actual church of the living God is gifted, just as each part of a body has work and focus and place for action - Romans 12, Ephesians 4, I Corinthians 12) may indeed offer understanding of what is written, but only IN TERMS OF IT, for otherwise they become teachers as forbidden, not clarifiers, expositors and appliers, taking no part in the composition of the word of God, final truth, being only spectators and those who give the sense and exhibit it, expose and show its impact.
The words of God, the prophetic word via the prophets of God as known to Peter, these have been given. These have been sent by God in irresistible power, like that of a tempest, and they are therefore to be received as immune from the wiles of men's sinful hearts, the ignorance of his mind or the intents of his purposes. They are NOT LOOSED by any individual's grasp of truth, they WERE DRIVEN by the Spirit of God. The latter is the stated reason for the former. It being God's own explicit work through His commanding Spirit, constraining, the resultant WORD OF GOD is not to be attributed to the idios, to the idiosyncrasies or perceptions of the mind of man or of his culture. It stands supreme over it, and and to add to it makes of the presumptuous culprit involved, merely a man on mission to be a liar (Proverbs 30:6), being already in sharp confrontation with the Almighty. There are many of these, from papacy to Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, and their name is legion. The name of Jesus Christ, however, it is One.
What then of II Peter 1 ? These inspirited and inspired words, as in II Timothy 3:16 which gives practical definition of their recognisable extent: these being such that they are not at all the work of man, but of God's own impulsion of His words from His Word (John 1:1), yes through the Spirit of Christ (I Peter 1:10ff.), they are precious and to be studied as light in a dark place. They are MOST reliable, for thus LOOSED TO MAN by God, therefore nothing in these written words has anything to do with man's ideas or culture or conditions, as criterion. Indeed, beyond our frailty and susceptibility to sin, just as God is beyond man, they are reliable as God is; for man will perish like the grass, but the word of God endures for ever.
Try it, taste it, follow it, it is light in darkness, God's direct expression in this world, final and not contributory, divine in nature, as a direct product, and not human, as if a product of man. Rejoice, eat, eat it well, masticate and mouth them, chew, view, be nourished by it, learn, be instructed, for here man passes from view and the divine splendour, not the subservient susceptibilities of man are revealed before you. Here is revelation: let your heart revel in it.
Remember Psalm 119, where we are admonished by the example of the devout writer, whose heart yearns after the word of God, which is settled in heaven for ever, which is worthy more than thousands of gold and silver, of which every unit is exhaustively true! The position has not now changed. God does not change, nor does His word, as He has revealed the creation, the fall, the faith, in Christ to come in the prophets, in Christ having come in the apostles and associated writers sent by God, in the New Testament.
Precisely the message of I Peter 1:25 is to be found in Paul.
This is in detail affirmed in I Corinthians 2:9-13.
Here we find that not merely is it the case that the internal magnificence of God is not known to man by his own unaided powers, indeed in these he fails to penetrate to the divine wonder, seeing only the power and eternal nature (Romans 1:17), not the glory of His character and revelation (I Corinthians 2:9-10); but that God has REVEALED this internal magnificence to man. He did this in two ways,
First of all, the SPIRIT of God searches all things, even the deep things of God, and not with any blemish or inadequacy, but fully equipped, reveals them; and secondly, the substance and nature of such things being revealed, the question arises: by what means are they specifically and reliably conveyed. Granted as shown in I Peter, that the culture of man has nothing to do with the word of God as a constraint or criterion or limit or disqualification or additive in kind, yet what of the WAY in which this substantial revelation is conveyed TO MAN, so that its objectivity may be relished, realised and used ? What of the actrual words chosen to convey these deep things of God ?
In this, the Spirit of God even and also TEACHES the very words, concepts, expression, data, material, faithfully, as God is faithful. Here it is from the LOGOS to logoi, from God as Speaker as so often in the Old Testament, to man as hearer. THE LOGOS to our words of expression, God Himself as Speaker, He so acts that these words for His revelation are supplied to man by inspiration. Thus there is conveyed, not only the revelation of the substance, what is to be declared, but no less, the words with which faithfully to do this. As to substance, the realities stand revealed by His Spirit; and as to words for conveying these things, these too the Spirit puts into words, with which to exhibit, describe, indicate, profess and proclaim. These are the two chief points in this I Corinthians 2 passage.
Indeed, in I Peter 1:24-25, where the apostle is given to contrast the permanence of the word of God, with the impermanence, indeed the transience of flesh as grass, it is the very REMATA which are in view, in what God has revealed to man from Himself. These in Greek are in effect the grammatical units of expression, in that these construct the meaning, thus granting not only the semantic guarantee, but that of the means for it. The same Greek term is used concerning the word of God in Romans 10:17, II Peter 3:2, Matthew 4:4, in which last case, we find Christ refuting the devil by precise reference to the words written in the Bible as it then was. Thus we find this: the Spirit of God performs acts of educational enduement, facilitation, enablement, both at the time chosen, to inscripturate truth, and at others, to make clear to tense hearts, its meaning, as in Proverbs 1.
Now as to the Spirit of Truth, and the revelation through Him, we learn this also from John 16 (15). The Holy Spirit, who issues from the Father, and whom Christ undertakes to send to man (John 15:26), Himself being in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18 cf. 3:13, I John 1:1-4), it is He who will "take of Mine and declare it to you," since "All things that the Father has, are Mine." Such is the declaration of Jesus Christ.
In other words, Christ as the expression of God has all that God is, exhibited in His expressiveness; and the Spirit of Truth is to take from these, "all things" and bring them to us who believe, and to this world, whether it believes or not (chiefly it is NOT), and He is likewise to "lead into all truth," John 16:13. In John 14:25-31, He who comes and reveals the truth is the Holy Spirit; in John 16, it is the Spirit of Truth, but it is one, since Christ AS the Truth, thus sends the Spirit of Truth to perform the works of truth.
Infinite is the contrast between these divine things, pure and unsullied, unhurried and inviolate, inviolable, and the thoughts and ideas of man (Isaiah 55:10-13). The word of God, then, wrought through the Spirit of God, this is not the same, naturally, or rather supernaturally, as the spirit of man which has its own limitations and words, impulsions and flashes, perceptions now pure, now distorted. Not at all. Far from the heavenly status as direct divine expression-product is the word of man. If God inspires him, in just expression of this scripture, well; but this has zero compelling force, except as true to that word. Even the Spirit of God does not speak on His own authority, but as He hear, so He speaks, taking from Christ the things to be shown, who as the Word, has them all from the Father.
One sort of thing is created, human; the other is the word of the mouth of the Almighty, under His definitional signature, assigned to man. One might override the word of a Major, if only a Captain, in some dire conflict, and at least be a little excuse; but to over-ride or add to (a form of negation through pollution) to the word of God, this is revolt, and nothing less, just as revolt and rebellion were shown by the Lord in Ezekiel's prophecy, to be pandemic in his own day, among Israel.
The status of the word of God, then is so far from being that of man, or anything of his authority, that the stars are nearer to us, than this to God. To be sure, it is not wholly and utterly divorced from man in application and in principle, as noted above; for man as in the image of God is both susceptible to such a work in his heart from the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, and like an echo, sings with it, when in his right state, From the Truth being made, he is made for the truth, and his whole created construction, his very spirit and life, sings as an anthem when the Spirit of Truth is in him, that sublime Spirit realising man's created human potential, and assisting it, while being absolute and above it. Here then is the TRUTH in action, never blemished, though man fails, never fainting, though man faints, always vivid, always inordinately based in the word from the mouth of God, never corruptible, corrigible, descending to man for meddling, only descending for understanding and absorption (cf. II Corinthians 4:2, I Thessalonians 1:13).
As to the last one, let us hear it:
"For this reason, we also than God without ceasing,
because when you received the word of God which you heard from us,
you welcomed it not as the word of men,
but as it is in truth, the word of God,
which also effectively works in you who believe."
It is the Spirit of God through whom this, the word of God, has been sent, and to it He attests. Though He may be grieved, it is man who suffers; and as to the Word of God, it is He who having suffered to the uttermost, saves to the uttermost those who are divorcees from the truth, who are no more implacable, imperious and impervious, but being freed, relent and repent and return to the very truth of their creation, namely to the God of all truth who made them. Then saved by the Word of God living, they attach themselves with zeal to the word of God written as to milk for a babe, meat for a grown man; and they find written so readily, that he who does NOT love Christ does NOT keep His words, that he who loves Him, does. It is not sinlessness (I John 1:7ff.), but non-rebellion which is in view. It is one thing to be an imperious provocateur, or to follow an empty cymbal, clashing in the pews, but it is quite another to slip here or there, and to need correction in your own personal life.
In man, there is this seething, breathing of coarseness, spiritual witlessness, almost incredible, the militant flesh, and it wars on him, while the Spirit wars on that and seeks to aid man in the conflict, and does, so that evil practices are not something to which man is to be subjected, slip and slither as he may.
Man is so vulnerable in himself, and his insight-deficiency without Christ, is not a relative matter of how much intellect he may have. That is here irrelevant. The defect is wholly distinct from the question of superior or less intellectual enduement, but rather constitutes a sort of distortion not from the optic nerve but from the spiritual chasm that opened up in man near the first (Romans 5:1-2), and has continued so remorselessly to threaten all stability in the human race.
Thus, only when regeneration occurs, is man once more harmonious with the truth, though before this, in truth he may seek, and find glimmers, and hope, and burn and yearn and turn this way and that in his inconstancy. The beauty is this, that if he seeks for the Lord with ALL his heart, he will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13), but who will anoint and appoint unity to his heart that he may do this ? (Psalm 85). It is the Lord, who having foreknown apart from all that man might do, who are His own (Romans 9), as to all His chaste love reaches in truth, and moving on man makes of man what he might be, and now is, through regeneration. He knows His own, and before creation He so knew, the outcome of universal love (Colossians 1:19ff.), amid universal human sin, taking in chaste reality and sincerity, without mere force, but with knowledge, those who are His own.
To these, irresistibly in due course, God makes Himself known (John 6:65, 8:47). Everyone who is of God hears God's words, declares Christ, for the Lord knows who are His, and to man alone is the responsibility for exclusion (John 3:19); for even when SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that none might perish, through believing in Him, even then, it was NOT TO JUDGE that He came, not to judge this world then, but to SAVE IT. THIS is the condemnation, not that He came to judge and DID IT, but despite His NOT coming to judge, but to save the world, it nevertheless, man in it, preferred darkness to this light. There is the responsibility defined, in the heart of man, not in delimitations in the heart of God, which from the outset sought for all; and His mouth, repeatedly it says so.
Denial of divine affirmations looks no better in pseudo-orthodoxy by whatever name, than in acknowledged heresy. Short-changing the scope of the love of God, as distinct from the predestination which follows the selection in foreknowledge (Romans 8:30), is an harassment of truth. While we must be slow to judge, we must be fast to proclaim precisely what God has said, and no theologian, papal or Protestant, is to be heeded in anything which departs from this word, adds to it, smuggles things into it, or removes things, like bodies bound and gagged, from it.
The Spirit of God has given this word; the word of God will not be moved; man who moves from it, will be.
These then are some of the foundational operations of the Spirit of Truth, His bounties, His graces, His correlative work with man, intimate but distinctive, never merging, never impugnable, never mutable, always beautiful in holiness, apt in disposition, in application wonderful in intimate activity, in persistence to the uttermost, never moving groundless, in power boundless. It is the spirit of man which has the limit (as in Isaiah 57:15ff.), and alas, if playing the fool, it is this which will be fooled by its own play
MOVEMENTS BIBLICALLY NOTED OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD
Historically, we find some of these potencies and gifts, graces and activities of the Spirit of God, which illumine the situation for us. For this, we consult a number of weighty words from the Bible, which exposit realities concerning these things, from God.
Thus in Nehemiah9:30, we find in the classic and uplifting prayer of confession by Nehemiah, on behalf of the people, this insightful coverage:
"Yet for many years You had patience with them,
and testified by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen.
Therefore You gave them into the power of the people of the lands."
First, notice the patience of God, of whom His word speaks, and who applies it by His Spirit. For MANY years He had patience. I myself have perhaps found patience in some things, hard to learn, and for that reason, perhaps, have been caused to have to find what SEEM at least, prodigious quantities of it. Once failed, often taught! Once in the provocation of years of prevention, for unjust reasons, in carrying out a vast reform and uplift movement in my professional work, I erred: one remembers that Moses did the same thing when exasperated to the uttermost by all but ENDLESS grumblings and the like from the people, and thus was disciplined, for God in his case, would not allow His own glory to have an intruder, however unintentionally. Therefore Joshua and not Moses, led the people into the promised land, AT LENGTH (Numbers 20).
Patience is a choice thing when it is not another and misused name for lassitude. Zeal is good so long as it can be contained (not for compromise, not for keeps, but watchfully until the time for action comes). God IS patient. He is also ACTIVE. Thus He testified to them by HIS SPIRIT, to the prophets, no, to HIS prophets, we read. He is personal, so are they, and they are His.
However, despite this double action, patience and testimony, the people were unmoved, and more, they WOULD NOT LISTEN. It was the same as seen in Isaiah 6 and in Acts 7, in the accusations of Stephen, as in Matthew 13:15ff., where Christ made the same imputation against their deaf and blind follies, not as by those to be pitied, but from those pitted against God by pure wilfulness, arbitrariness and self-direction. Stephen declared (Acts 7): You do always resist the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the work of the Spirit and of the word, and the divine patience is ignored, and therefore, they at last, met what had to come, just as a slanting wall awaits its fall (Amos 4).Iin terms of relevant realities (for a car without petrol is not the same as one with it), their time thus came to be given up to the surrounding, also spoilt peoples. As Moses was led to write in Deuteronomy 32, having provoked God to anger by their dabblings with deities not gifted with existence, which are NOT-GOD, they were provoked by Him by becoming vulnerable to other nations, themselves vain. Avoid truth, and low is the gutter to which your soul, heart, spirit at last becomes accilmatised.
In Ezekiel 2, we find in the case of Ezekiel, at a certain time, imbued with the presence of the Lord, and given vision as in Ezekiel 1, from Him, that he received a special entry of the Spirit of God into him, which both enabled and inspired him for his mission, his task, the will of God for him. The immediate background to this entry of the Spirit of God was that God wished to address Ezekiel categorically, to give imperial imperatives, categorical commission. He was SENT, then, "to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me!" This apparent repetition in fact shows that not only is rebellion in its naked principle in them, but it is against the very LORD their God that it has been directed - an all but inconceivable audacity, folly and deadness of heart, for it was to act against their mercy, their kindness, their King who had done things unique to deliver them on this earth! (Psalms 105 - 107).
Indeed, God categorises the Israel of that day to Ezekiel in this way: "they are impudent and stubborn children." In view of this, God is sending Ezekiel, on that day, to them, and he is to say, 'THUS says the Lord.'
In this, he merely announces, not his reactions or mere responses to them, perhaps with some measure of the subjective, even though he is seeking to follow the word of God in love to the lost in terms of His commandments and kindness. It is not this that he does, but rather, as a godly diplomat, he proclaims the inspired and inspiring the WORD of the KINGDOM from which he comes, the kingdom of GOD. Indeed, so dissolute has the nation become that God adds this:
"Whether they hear or whether they refuse - for they are a rebellious house -
yet they will know that a prophet has been among them."
As to the man used, God has this encouragement:
"And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words;
though briars and thorns are with you, and you dwell among scorpions,
do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks,
though they are a rebellious house.
You shall speak My words to them,
whether they hear or whether they refuse..."
As for Ezekiel himself, he has a personal equation; but this is not to apply, as is right for one bent on service, for he is used in the schema of obedience through desire on his own part, and design on the part of God.
"But you, son of man, hear what I tell you.
Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house:
open you mouth and eat what I give you. "
Then He 'swallows' the book of the word of God (Ezekiel 3:2), in heart, in figure, for the deliverance of the same to the people, in fact. He is then to "speak with My words to them."
Thus Ezekiel strictly does not enter into it, being chosen as was Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1), and called, and equipped and enabled by the Holy Spirit to execute the remarkable rebuke, the sad duty, the selective speech which he was given. Thus after much disablement from disease and disaster from recalcitrant obstructionism towards God, audacious vacuity and mendacious milling about, they are in a remnant (as in Isaiah 11:10), to be found once more and given an everlasting covenant (Ezekiel 16:60-63). This, which is to come at last, in the domain of the majestic rule of the Messiah, and in the grace of this, there will be no room for boasting nor any for despising the covenant any more.
As in Jeremiah 23:1-7, this comes at the end of a long day, when all else finished, the Messiah at last comes to His kingdom in righteous thrust, liberty having had its own day, misused in lordly licence as well as various types of licentiousness, so that at this day, truth is demonstrated, just as it was often shown in remonstration.
Indeed, later still in the words of the prophet, Ezekiel 37, we find Ezekiel brought out in the Spirit to learn from the Lord a new and wonderful message. Israel is seen in its latter days, as a people spread out in the world, like dry bones, scattered, despised, buried; but through this Spirit Ezekiel learns of two calls to come to this people: this, in the days before the return of the Messiah to rule in great strength. This is found in Ezekiel 37:23-26, as in Isaiah 11, where not the sufferings of the Messiah, but the regality is in view (cf. Luke 24:24-26). One command which the prophet is caused to hear, as the Lord pre-enacts in vision, what is to occur in that distant day, is for Israel's restoration to its land, and the other is for breath (a word that can mean breath or spirit is used) to enter into them so that instead of being a skeletal collection, restored to their land, they become a living army of persons, as raised from the dead. The breath in this case is not just physical, any more than the bones were actual bones, but simply indicative of their dispersed and dead estate, lingering in history apart both from God and from their homeland.
In this with what precedes and follows, it is clear that this brings them into the new and the everlasting covenant with God which knows no more rebellion as its unreality, but truth as its impactive criterion (as in Jeremiah 31:31ff; cited in Hebrews). The spirit which enters into this collection of skeletal assemblages, back in Israel in the vision is, it seems perfectly clear, the one relevant to full life, the Holy Spirit (as in Zechariah 12:10ff., where they repent of what led to their dispersion, the killing of Christ). In Him, they now see what they did, find anguish in repentance, and find the Lord who cleanses them in His fountain (Zechariah 13:1).
Further, in Ezekiel 37:14, God says "I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live ... Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it ..." This is a spirit of revelation and knowledge (as seen expressly in the Messiah, in Isaiah 11).
This adds one point, "I will place you in your land." That at this terminal epoch, has now happened, since 1948, and it includes the city of Jerusalem (1967) and its announcement as permanent capital (1980), and has become, as would be predicted for the rebellious Gentile nations, a cause cÚlėbre, a provocation for the provocateurs, a reason for reviling, death squads from Arabs, arms invasion from Islamic sources, notably Iran, land grabs by the UN (despite the gift to Israel of a homeland there by the League of Nations as a body, and Britain at the time when it was an increasingly victorious people, in 1917).
The prince of this world does not like it, as it attests the Prince of Peace who DOES PRECISELY WHAT HE SAYS, whether the time be days or millenia! He acts as he may, through this nation and that, this liberation, this violent group, this insurgency, this kid-killing body and that, remorseless, hateful, unreasonable, bent on the destruction of the people returned to their divinely appointed homeland, disciplined but not forsaken (Zechariah 12, Genesis 17:1-17). They are fair game ? Many think so and act so; but God is not playing games, for neither was the Cross a game, nor is sin.
In their time, they will all learn (Ezekiel 37 is very clear about this, as is Micah 7).
In His time, the Spirit of God as in Zechariah 12, has a momentous work to do in Israel, in the very same terms as with Gentiles in the past (John 16:8ff.), and with specific locales of life in mind. For all it is specific, individual or nation; and truth is spefific, and neither flinches nor flounces.
In Isaiah 42:1, following the intimation in the preceding Chapter, that Israel in itself could produce "no counsellor, who when asked of them, could answer a word", and this in view of the fact that "they are all worthless, their works are nothing", we find the exact opposite. SO apposite is this opposite, so glorious is this contrast, here in 42:1, named "My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect in whom My soul delights", that though so gentle that "a bruised reed He will not break," yet "He will bring forth justice for truth, He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth, and the coastlands shall wait for His law." You see Him in this role not only in Psalm 2, 72 and 110, but in Isaiah 59, 11, 32.
For our point today, we observe closely that God declares this, "My Spirit I have put on Him." Christ in fact, as seen in Luke, declares that the Spirit of God is like the "finger of God" by whom He, Jesus, was casting out devils! (Luke 11:19, with Matthew 12:28). While the Spirit of God may come upon various people, in this instance He is placed on someone whose work is equal to that of deity Himself (John 10:30, 14:9ff., 8:58, Philippians 2 with Isaiah 45:23ff.), and so justice, judgment, will be dispensed, whether in dramatic initiation (as in Isaiah 59, Micah 7), or in sustained exhibition (Psalm 72), till all is fulfilled. Here the Spirit is in infinite alliance within God, in contrast with the case, where finite man is involved. Then, when placed on others, though they as with Paul, are indeed sent in special voyage by the Lord, it is a dispensation, a deposit for a purpose, given by God to what is not God, but serves Him.
In Isaiah 61:1, we find the same distinction, in this, that the Messiah's ministry is divine in scope, for He will "heal the broken-hearted", and "proclaim liberty to the captives" as in John 8:30-31, to those whose sins make them puppets in prison. Indeed, in His own personal being, He will give to them "beauty for ashes", and small wonder: for not only is it He who dies to cover sin (as in Isaiah 53), whereas ONLY GOD is Saviour (Isaiah 43:8-10), but as He prophetically proclaims of Himself, "the Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me..."
Whether to saved sinners, or to the Saviour when come as man to this earth to institute a sacrifice OF Himself for those whom sin has caught, the Spirit is given; but in Christ, it is given "not by measure," (John 3:34); for "the Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands," as you see in Isaiah 11.
This is no mere plenipotentiary, for this is a case of the unique, infinite God, giving ALL things into His hands, and this implies what He is, to be able to do what He does (as in John 5:19ff., "in the same way"). It is, as in John 8:58, the Godhead. That in turn is as is clear in Isaiah 48:16. Thus whether it be God incarnate, God-man, sent from heaven, or just man, sinful man spoiled on earth and a mere creation (as in Colossians 1:15ff.), there is given a special supply of the Spirit; and whether it be with measure (as in Romans 12:3ff.), or without measure, illimitable in profundity, the Lord who is and speaks, Father and Son, acts through the Spirit, and endues, produces, applies, moves wherever, whenever and however He is sent, to do His work of Truth.
With Christ, in heaven till the end, it is the Spirit who comes as expressly sent by that risen Saviour, and from the Father, to do the entire work of enablement of His Church. How glorious is His work; and yet He does not attest this, being focussed and centred on the Son (John 16:13-14), who from the Father from whom He proceeds, has sent Him.
We will plan, DV, to return to this when considering the work of the Spirit as revealed in Isaiah 59:20ff. There we will see the difference between the Standard and the Standard Bearer.
In Zechariah 4:6, we are shown the work of the Holy Spirit helping and moving to and through the rebuilders of ruined Jerusalem (as happened in accord with the words of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, both). Marvellous were the works of endurance and zeal, but as to their basis in this reconstruction crusade, this is from God, and enabled by His mandated Spirit. This is shown in the famous words: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." It is the LORD who says this, and indicates at once after it, that the mountain (of difficulty, obstruction, vastness above human strength, that hinders the impact of light, perhaps) will become a plain.
That is, it will be voided of impossibility, its success not only enabling the avoidance of defeat but the proclamation of victory, and its attestation in the rebuilt city, wall and temple. Not only the temple, but the wall and the city were rebuilt, a triple triumph, even if in troubles times, as Daniel foretold in Ch. 9.
In Numbers 11:17, we meet another question about leadership. Moses is harried, harassed, overworked, dealing at many levels (rather like the apostles as seen in Acts 6, when they appointed deacons); and so he is permitted to have 70 auxiliary elders to help. God declares this:
"I will take of the Spirit what is on you and will put the same upon them;
and they will bear the burden of the people with you that you may not bear it yourself alone."
This indicated that although to Moses was the task with its responsibilities given, by special selection and call as in Exodus 3 and 6, yet God was willing to enable others to work in the same way, by a subsidiary appointment, one which had bounds, but which had boundless energy from God, for whatever was required. That is one of the most glorious things about God; that while He does not sanction wantonry, waste and folly, and does not encourage slackness or laxity, yet He is amazingly reliable and generous beyond measure, in this, that WHATEVER His work requires, whatever His commissions need, this He gives without sparing. If it hurts or cuts, or requires patience, so be it: but it is forthcoming. We are imperfect servants, and alas, may need discipline, even thrashing at times; but for all that, Ephesians 3:20 remains perceptibly true in practice, and is available as an operational fact to faith:
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church,
by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever."
Not only is this power enough for what we ask in service, but it moves to the point of excess, and further, this is an exceedingly abundant excess; and not only that, it is not only above what we ask, but also extends above what we think, like cloud banks upon cloud banks, each surmounting the other, up and out of sight.
Beneath is the faith rock, this stability and strength; for the battle is not ours but the Lord's, and it is for Him without limit to do what He will, to accomplish what He commissions. Acting on this, one has a mixture: on the one hand is the fellowship of His sufferings; for the trend is this, that the more is your commission and the more is the power for it, the more you may suffer in its application, for this is a spiritual war, and a rescue charge in the midst of hostilities. Thus on the other hand, though there is the power of His resurrection available (Philippians 3:10), this is still indissolubly linked to the fellowship of His sufferings! but what is that, when even an Olympian sportsperson can suffer agonies for the prize: and this prize is eternal, its quality undivorceable from its reality!
How amazing and yet, how saturated with the holiness and provision of God is this, that one finds that whatever one is to suffer, yet the work is not allowed to be baulked, the power of God is unlimited, not in brash tempestuousness of human style, will and artifice, origin and manner, in degree, but through godliness to secure its mission. Whatever the slander, the slither of the serpent, the assault, the confrontation, God acts and provides, and so has one found, does one find and one trusts, will one find (cf. II Timothy 4:17-18); and so does history show.
Did Romanism thrust the Gospel into the power of man, and was it mauled and marred to a degree so great that the world seemed shattered by its imperial armies in Europe and all hope must be lost ? Yet God had kept through the ages, His own people whose power came like lightning flashes, as in Wickcliff and Tyndale, in Huss and that spiritual escapee, John Knox, Calvin and Luther, Spurgeon and Melanchthon, the Westminster Assembly and John Wesley*2, none perfect, but cumulatively an army, and with the masses of marching men, not in military but spiritual arms, the day was saved. The Reformation removed the clamour of false pope and presumptuous pedant, who knew nothing of Matthew 23:8-10, of I Peter 5, in their practice (cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H, 911ff.).
So now, although the stage is set, and the plan is for evil to become manifest in this world, with what will appear a brash comprehensiveness, all powerful and irresistible, crushing man with financial and other powers, moving him to more false worship, even beyond that of the mass, at an internationally GOVERNED level, yet this is just a pre-announced part of the plan, and it was declared millenia ago by Christ and Paul and Peter. Do let not this trouble the believing saint, for tests were just as horridly impending and apparently powerful whether the matter be universal in this world, or at a point, as with Daniel and Nehemiah and Joshua and Esther.
One dies but one death in this world, and has but one guaranteed and divinely espoused life, being sealed by the Spirit (Ephesians 1), and designated without recall (Ephesians 1:11), to an eternal blessedness with one's Creator-Redeemer, Jesus the Christ. These waves and billows, these water-spouts, when one is near them, and swimming, seem a tumultuously overpowering horror; and yet they are all contained, and the saints do not love their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11-12).
Whatever the cost, whatever the challenge, the need is met, the impossible becomes possible, the mountain is moved (Mark 11:23ff.) and the devices of the devil are tossed, with other unutterable filth, to the final fiasco of their blatant pretension, condemned in truth. It is but a little while, and in this time, the divine power is adequate and overflowing, not for a kingdom which is of this world (which Christ did not desire, as in Matthew 4 and shown in John 18:36 as in Matthew 26:52-56).
It is at the present time, in NON-judgment of this world (John 3:17), a site for the Gospel. The world is warned; but the kingdom awaits the return of the Lord (as in Acts 1:7ff., Matthew 24, I Thessalonians 4, Revelation 19, Daniel 7), first FOR His saints and then WITH them (Zechariah 14, Revelation 19); and then it will be seen (Psalm 71,110, 2, Isaiah 2, 11, 59), and then is its time before the earth itself is blown away like hay in a storm, yes, chaff in a fire (II Peter 3, Isaiah 51:6).
That then is the liberality of His provision as His servants fight, not with carnal, physical weapons, but with spiritual ones (as in Ephesians 6).
Meanwhile, in this same passage in Ephesians 3, we
find that those so called and acting (3:16), as members of His body, are
"strengthened with might, by His Spirit in the inner man."
Amidst all this, the devil has many wiles, and in this he excels; in deviousness he is the very devil! Hence, you find his endeavour to imitate the prophets of God, as in II Peter 2, and I Kings 22:24ff.. The practice of imitation, fraud, the very mockery of authenticity, is discovered in depth in Jeremiah 23! where the prediction is made that such spiritual frauds - often, but not always, known as theologians, though these like others may be true or false, the word of God the judge - are to become more of a pandemic at the end of the Age. At t his, we have now definitionally arrived (Answers to Questions Ch. 5). So have the frauds, mockers, theological innovators, dispensing with the Christ who saved, for the sake of outcomes, fruits, fruitions that neither honour the Lord, nor avail themselves of His power, mere mutinous human deceits. It is not new. Its prevalence is to be the novelty. Let us turn to an early example as found in I Kings.
Dramatic indeed is the confrontation between the prophet of God, Micaiah, as seen in I Kings, and the false prophet, speaking from himself in words not to be fulfilled, adventitious and meretricious, not sound and not sent but making plentiful sound amid superficiality. Here MIcaiah, meeting the vain and arrogant King Ahab, a regal figure well equipped with hubris, tells him of the error of his false counsellor, Zedekiah. By no means was it wise to carry out the military operation in question (Micaiah had been summoned to the King because the true King, Jehoshaphat, who had requested it when he was himself in illicit unity with Ahab in this matter). This, Micaiah indicated in a specially forceful way. He told of a vision in which he had seen the Lord enable a desirous, deceptive spirit to go and deceive Ahab to go to battle, to his own destruction.
Indeed, comes the impactive reply from the false prophet, Zedekiah, "Which way did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you!" He prefaced his enquiry by striking Micaiah on the cheek, showing the kind of force that animated him. Micaiah's answer is classic, as given from the Lord (cf. Luke 21:15), whose generosity and loyalty is incalculable: "Indeed , you will see on the day you go into an inner chamber to hide." That was the devastating prophetic response, such because such was the historic outcome; nor did it come by estimable logistics, as forecastable. It came by an arrow sent at a venture into the heavens, which killed the King Ahab at its astonishing landing where it hurt most!
What then did Micaiah mean by this reply ? This indicated that the King would be beaten, defeated, and the false prophet, then shown to be such, would be in danger of the death penalty! (cf. Deuteronomy 13)!
This reminds us more generally, in type, of modern times: of the anti-realists who insist that we have things in hand, that God is not in view, that the world is to go on, and we must just continue to plan for generations of stability, or near stability. To their wisdom, the answer is similar. "You will see the value of your baseless and imperceptive predictions, in defiance of the word of God, in that day when you go like snakes to hide in holes from the tempestuous realities that are to come, both earthly and heavenly, both human and divine."
Of just such things we read in Micah 7:15ff., and Isaiah 2:21-22. The Lord's advice, there, in the latter: it is this.
"Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for of what account is he."
That in turn reminds us of Isaiah 40:21-31! While the Lord gives strength and power, grace to the lowly and help to the hindered who wait for Him (40:27ff.), yet the callow world, whirled about and bewildered when not so arrogant at times, is in stature like grasshoppers before the Lord.
It is only His distinguishing love which makes it other; and while He WOULD have all to be saved, reconciled and brought to the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2, 4:10), where this is forsaken (as dramatically seen in Proverbs 1), then the love refused tends to make refuse of refusers, who in this way forsake the very conditions of their lives. In this very passage in Proverbs 1, we see that when the Lord appeals to people to find in Him wisdom, He indicates His willingness to remove their blindness, to reach with the truth and to teach! This is one more case, in very broad terms, where His underlying attitude is verified and vindicated, for it gives Him no pleasure that the wicked should die (Ezekiel 33:11, John 3:17).
To any turning, He will, He says, POUR OUT HIS SPIRIT on them, so that they WILL KNOW, and understand. They are not stepping blithely over a cliff, but steadfastly onto an aeroplane.
God in His universal love, knowing who are His own, to whom His love is then specifically and ardently channeled, His ATTITUDE being unconditional, not only brings outrageously gracious outcomes to the most fallen, but scatters the intemperate, the refusniks. In fact, as to His love and Lordship, grace and cancellation of sin's guilt, in the Gospel, its refusal is fatal; and He who knew before history, what would be (Isaiah 46, Acts 15, Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.), and who would be what, beyond all sin and sequence of flesh (Romans 9, John 1:12), is not to be trifled with on the basis of ill-considered and ephemeral equivocation. This is indited in Hebrews 6 and 10.
Wilful ignorance of His model, His mind, His plan and His ways is itself perilous; it is rejection which is fatal, unless repentance comes before death. God is very deep, and any person EVER confronted, enabled, directed, finding Him near should at once draw near and in repentance, make sure of the Lord, as it is written: Seek the Lord WHILE He may be found, and CALL upon Him WHILE He is near! (Isaiah 55). Rejoice in His promise, then, in Proverbs 1, that HE will pour out His Spirit and MAKE His words known. The only schools are not those of men, often cultural disasters, damning those who might have entered! (as in Luke 11:52).
God can and does teach by His Spirit, according to His word (John 16:14-15), from whom He is sent (John 15:26). HIS teaching is the ultimate in intimacy, and the beauty of truth (I John 2:27).
Whether the Spirit of God is seen, as in Genesis 1:2, hovering, brooding over the incipient creation, a movement of atmosphere above the celestial, from heaven, operating in constructive intimacy on earth, or broods upon man, upon His own children, that Spirit of holiness who spoke of the raising of Christ from among the dead (Romans 1:4), teaching their hearts, structuring their thoughts, informing their reformed minds, and creating holiness in their renewed hearts (II Corinthians 7:1), it is one creative Spirit of wonder and glory.
Thus in the reference just above, we find this:
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved,
let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,
perfecting holiness in the fear of God ..."
completing in application the work to which sent (as in II Corinthians 318).
This is seen dramatically in Acts 2, where having been told to await the sending of His Spirit, as a birthday foundation for the Church as Christ's continuing body, now that He has gone to heaven until the time of regeneration of all things (Acts 3:19ff.), the disciples duly found this happen in an unexpected way. In this regard, it was just like the alighting of the dove on the Messiah, something highly impactive for the sight of John the Baptist (John 1:31-33).
Physical emblems of the work and presence of the Holy Spirit in this new and direct manner linking to Christ, now that the atonement was past (Hebrews 9:12, 10:10,14), were seen at Pentecost (Acts 2*3), where a vast flame was seen as if embroiled in itself (resembling the vision of Ezekiel, as in Ezekiel 1); but dividing out from it as base, came individual flames, each anointing the appointed head of the disciples, liberating them from fear, enabling them in staggering acts of what would come to the hearers as polyglot speech, commissioning them and encouraging, signifying the bringing of each in intimacy to the one Head, even Jesus Christ. This fire and power and particularisation of blessing, signifies the work of His Spirit, who anoints and seals the Lord's people (Ephesians 1:13).
This in turn resembles and amplifies another biblical exposÚ, that to be found in Psalm 104:4: "Who makes His angels spirits, His servants a flaming fire."
There is in the work of the Spirit of God a refining, a conforming to the beauty of holiness in Christ, so that not only is it the case that where there is the Spirit of God, there is liberty (love INSISTS on liberty for its reality!) as in II Corinthians 3:17, but in this liberty of love, there is a holy contouring, carpentry, moulding, so that the people of the Lord, each in an individual basis, are moved into the model, wrought into greater holiness, imbued with transforming operational power (II Corinthians 3:18). This, in turn, makes great things available in His Church (as in Ephesians 4:15-16). There is a movement, says II Corinthians here, "from glory to glory,"" developmental, enduing, "as by the Spirit of the Lord."
In Part II, to follow DV, we meet next The WATER MARK, and THE STANDARD and THE STANDARD BEARER, along with diversified criteria of ultimate unity, where the more it differs, the more it is the same: but it differs not in word or in Spirit, but in the individuality of its testimony, based on one Rock, but broadcast on many waves.
Since life and lie, sin and power, grace and gumption, gutlessness and goodness, these and many such things are of virtually infinite extent in the world of man, this created orb, therefore prediction over millenia of which nations, which persons, which ideas, which developments, which procedures, which detailed data will be applicable is subject to a virtually infinite variety. Any ONE error of foresight means that billions of results are apt for misconstruction, and any ONE of these becomes a point source for billions of others, in a reticulating net, so that knowledge of what might otherwise have been truth, becomes a fitful spasm of phantasm, a phantasmagoria, a folly, an erection of nonsense.
God, however, knowing all, even more easily than we can read in advance of the result of an experiment, even better than anyone can foretell what a friend might do in a given situation, with immense and majesty certainty knows outcomes, and declares them. Not only do they never fail to occur (cf. SMR Chs. 8, 9), but God specifically challenges man (through Israel - as in Isaiah 41, 43, 48), to compare and declare WHO ELSE can do this! As there are NO competitors, to the practical verification is one, and admits of no other.
See Anguish, Ecstasy and the Mastery of the Messiah Ch. 8, Predestination and Freewill Part 2; 'Fellowship'.
*3 Some Cumulative Movements away from, adding to or subtracting from the Word of God.
Acts 2 provides the opposite of the Tower of Babel, when God by supernatural power confounded the rebellious unity of the human race in its false surge for man-made religion. Here the diversity of languages was overcome by a polyglot resultant, more efficient than translations in the UN, as an index at the Christian Church's New Testament birthday, of the kindness of God toward man and the cost now paid on the Cross (Titus 2-3). In Corinthians (and Pentecostalism by contrast, resembles this, making it really Corinthianism, not Pentecostalism, which is entirely different in its major stress), another form of spiritual manifestation with what are in some ways opposite results occurred. At Pentecost, for grace's sake, what COULD NOT have been understood, was rendered comprehensible by miracle, whereas in Corinth, what could well be understood, in a given area and Church, could now not be understood except by special interpreter!
For the nature and developments of major kind found in Pentecostalism's in its manifold excesses, see the small volume, A Question of Life.
This may also be said here. Some, in increasingly explosive reaction, to some neglect (as foretold in II Timothy 3:1-4, in a most clear inspiration from Paul concerning the "last days" which is now - cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 6), in one field, have equalled if not indeed bypassed it in liberties as rash as the foretold error was supine.
The neglect foretold by Paul, was multiple, but in one direction, a depraved deletion of much of the reality of Christianity in a merely formal substitute for the functional fact of living in Christ, who is the power and the wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:24). It included the turning away from the power of God in the interests of a substituted insincere formalism. The POWER of God was neglected. Surges to replace it were soon to be seen, with whatever movements back to biblically designed access to this power were with more simplicity, first sought. But it proceeded like a whirl-wind, as often happens in reactions.
In other words, the reaction was extreme, as so often. It was first against the foretold listless and de-energised formalism, and then by thunderous contrast, in the direction of gross and disobedient activism, often neglecting fundamental issues of the faith, and then joining frequently with such long-term and long-revealed heresies, such as that of Romanism. The latter was exposed by great preachers and theologians in many countries over half a millenium and more, being basic to the British Empire; but the opposing force of supra-biblical Romanism has often been hungrily sought after by Pentecostal bodies, such fellowship being on the basis of this illicit super-activism, when that too moved into areas of Rome. Thus the forcible meddling with Mary and 'tongues' in a new combination, became symbolic of the surging force of pseudo-Christianity, each adding to the deception of the other, just as Romanism equally was meddling in increasing boldness in recent popes, with a type of naturalism, in what appears as one more marriage of worldly convenience (The Holocaust of Morality and the Coming of Christ the King Ch. 5.).
Thus an enlargement of liberty into licence, and of power into fields of strange doctrine, rather than its use as appointed, which is itself most wonderful and needs no addition, with a trend to morbid exhibitionism (shown in one variety when some barked like dogs, or laughed as the Bible was read, a sort of reduction ad absurdum of earlier undue and unbiblical licence), has become manifest. It has been aggravated in this Pentecostal development. How ? It is by this, its engagement in treacherous ecumenism.
Once again, this is not the biblical kind, but one so large that we even had a most notable case in this city, where one so-called senior pastor a very large Pentecostal body declared that they were indeed orthodox, BECAUSE they agreed both with the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic body (cf. SMR pp. 911ff., 1032-1088H, A Question of Gifts). This became of course a flamboyant combination, since Luther had exposed Romanism as few did, and these two, the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation forces as together making the core of orthodoxy for a Pentecostalist body, was a masterpiece of confusion. It was also a betrayal of the correction of the Reformation, to which Lutheranism had most vigorously pointed, of the Bible (Proverbs 30:6), to which Romanism so readily adds by authority of the Church and its Canon Law (cf. SMR p. 1086), and of the Christ, whom Rome re-creates in terms of bread (virtually, as if the Last Supper had been a suicide), to whom, it adds by its Redemptrix (cf. Jeremiah 44:19ff.), and from whom it takes by its Pope equipped with an infallibility never found in Peter, the rock which moved, one expressly allowed only as master-teacher, in Christ Himself (Matthew 23:8-10, I John 2:27). ONE is your teacher, said He, and ALL of you are BRETHREN, with NO FATHER but God Himself. This Rome countered by rebellious assertions (cf. SMR pp. 911ff.). The infallibility of God is assigned only to Himself, and to His word which being product of Himself, His own speech to man, has His own control (cf. Matthew 5:17-20) and hence achieving its title (as in Jeremiah 23:23-29).
As to Pentecostalism, the strange fire syndrome of Nathan and Abihu, being deadly and visited with death (Leviticus 10) , in the theocracy that then was, is an opposite extreme to that of the neglect of the power of God in the interests of forms; but the creeping into mere forms of godliness, is a flaw that has now equalled if not exceeded the foretold dead formalism in folly, that Paul predicted for the last days. Flights of fancy past the revealed word of God have become common in sects as in such major movements as those above, and current preoccupations move into the psychic and the exhibitionist, even the ludicrous, on occasion, as if it were to be made some comedy show. One aborigine of my acquaintance made it clear that going to a noted Pentecostal meeting was a dramatic event in life, and appeared to resemble some going to a play, for pleasure, seeing strange things at small cost, diverting and odd.
Nathan and Abihu, in terms of their syndrome, represented a seeking for, or at least being diverted from what is right, yet this in ways neither authorised nor implied. It signifies a liberty with the grace and power of God which confused rather than clarified, and was subjective in its import rather than objectively granted for the flow of grace and goodness, power and mercy from the Lord. Whether therefore some sects take the power kept for Christ's own person, to the Church as if it had been crucified and buried for sinners, or attempt to show it in an exhibitionist manner, unlike anything from or in the Lord ever seen, or spruik up the spirituality, or become listless in loss of reality, moving in mere mouthed forms, and whether or not they join together, as in a marriage of false ecumenism, misusing the unity IN the word of God which Christ sought (John 17:6-11), and replacing it with unity beyond it: the wheel turns. In such ways, there opens opens the way for that final ecumenical humbug, the antichrist, whose liberty will to total, whose presumption entire and whose ways are under-written from the under-world (II Thessalonians 2). Like intruders in another war, after a little, it goes down in flames (I Thessalonians 1, Revelation 19).
In particular, different strands of Pentecostalism have become apparent. Thus some insist that if you do not speak in 'tongues (A Question of Gifts) you are not converted (the question arises, however, converted to what!); others claim that until you speak in these 'tongues' you are not really sanctified, and others again, that failure here is a road block to growth, and that ALL should speak in 'tongues' though Paul could not be clearer in systematically demolishing such a conception. Thus in I Corinthians 12, he sets up a systematic picture of a body as illustrating the relationship of people with different gifts, in Christ the head. There are many limits imposed here (as have to occur in any body to conserve both its purpose and its integrity), and one of these, to the present point, Paul specifies in a dramatic fashion (I Corinthians 12:26ff).
Do all heal ? he asks. Of course not comes the answer to this rhetorical question. If that were so, what a fountain of healings would flow. Are all apostles ? he urges. Scarcely, for in Romans 1 he cites his apostleship as a calling thrusting him into Rome, and in I Corinthians 11:1 makes it such that people should follow his teaching, just as they follow Christ, while in II Corinthians 13, he speaks of the power of Christ in him, weak in crucifixion but strong in resurrection (cf. Ephesians 1:19), to bring order and discipline to the Church there.
Do all speak in tongues, he enquires, in this same schoolmasterly tone of instruction, providing negative after negative in terms of the obvious fact, brought out earlier by the apostle, that the body has many members, each different, each with its own unique function ? Of course not. Yet this is sought by many, by very many indeed in this movement to the point that it is extremely hard to find any exceptions, as to intent. On the contrary, Paul makes it clear that he would rather in the church speak 5 words with his mind than 10,000 with 'tongues' ( I Corinthians 14:12-19).
Neither false ecumenism, abusing due unity by
substituting forbidden congregations awry and astray
nor unbiblical and heretical extravaganzas ,
nor the de-emphasis of the power of God,
nor the pre-occupation with forms apart from the
information of the word of God and its performance,
present more than options in folly, such as so sternly warned against in Proverbs 1, and 5-9.
In our time, such movements of extreme and heterogeneous diversities, verging on the inconceivable, way beyond the biblical, have lunged forward, with more acceleration than brakes. They may start with some biblical emphasis, but finish, like a car that moved ahead (good), but then rushed with foot flat to the floor down a slope near to the sea! Thus the beginnings are often quite good; it is the end of each matter which constrains the Christian both to thought and to action; for let God be God and man be man, and the word of God, as validated and verified, be applied, and by no means let the psychic oddities, the authoritarian desires or the intemperate quirkishness of man be indulged (cf. SMR).
Whether it be for money, popularity and power, prestige, competitiveness, or some other desire and design, such as ruling the world or becoming important in such a world (unlike the case in the kingdom of heaven as seen in Matthew 13, where God is God and Christ is Lord, incomparable, immovable, immutable, singular Saviour), and whether the means be psychic volatility or philosophic extremism (as exposed in SMR Ch. 3), when the truth is so readily available and testable (cf. SMR Chs. 5, 8-9, Deity and Design..., LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST, WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES AND WHERE HE IS, DARKNESS DEPARTS), the result is one: man overboard. Another Jesus (such as Muhammad made and many others since) is merely a mental projection, and from whatever source it may come, it has is expressly condemned by Paul as a sign of false apostles (II Corinthians 11). Another Gospel (such as the Moslem) and another Spirit are likewise of the same kind, Paul there declares.
The Jesus Christ who turned history on its head, revoked the final death penalty by bearing it in Himself (cf. I Corinthians 1, Galatians 3-4), both is and has declared the source, standard and basis, and His word has His own indelible sanction (cf. Matthew 5:17-20, John 14:26). Without adornment, without addition, without subtraction (Revelation 22), it is to be followed, its spiritual principles applied. The word of God is not a playground, but holds marching orders, its comforts not for presumption, arrogance or infatuation with philosophy (Colossians 2:8), but for abiding in Him and in His word (John 14:21-23, 15:7, I Peter 1,Psalm 119).
As in the days of Nehemiah, what is required is a rebuilding according to the biblical plan, not now in a physical structure, as then, but in a spiritual one, as what is written is visibly prevailing on all sides, as history unfolds, just as it did in the life of Christ, Himself the Head of the body and LORD! He does not need, nor will He accept surrogates, whether ecclesiastical, philosophical social, political or psychic (Philippians 2); there is simply no other name for the people of God, by which, there is no other Saviour, through whom, in part or in whole (Ephesians 2), people may return to God, without whom there is only the prescription of ruin. Remedy or ruin remain the two ways; and the former cost infinitely, and is left at infinite cost likewise (John 3:15-19,36).