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STRIVING TO NO EFFECT
SPIRITUALITY WITH PROFOUND EFFECT
PETER'S SCOPE AND SOLEMNITY
IN HIS INSPIRED EPISTLES
Many LOVE to talk of spiritual virtues and performances, and others of spiritual inwardness and purity of heart, and James links the two in no uncertain manner (cf. TMR 2 (see other refs. there) , esp. pp. 54ff., TMR 4, Allegory 7; SMR Ch.7, pp. 520-532; The Biblical Workman, Appendix on Faith, Deliverance from Disorientation Ch. 5).
Some insist that there is a complete renovation, re-institution, re-creation of the spiritual being of man on conversion and that the seed of God who imparts this, remains; and they have only to refer to I John 3, for it is so.
Some advise that there is no way in which one can shut the eye to the performance criteria, and blind is he who does so. It is true that good trees bear good fruit (Matthew 7); but not true that the fruit plants the tree, for God does (Matthew 15:13), or that the fruit bears the root, but the opposite, for fruit is the simple consequence of a fruit-bearing tree: and of a certainty, this is the nature of God's children (Galatians 5); and the fruit, it is spiritual fruit, as Paul there shows. It is the performance OF what is His, not performance in order to BECOME what is His, therefore, that is to the point (cf. Romans 3:23ff.).
Others seek to temper the concerns, and indicate that no one can be really too very good down here, and that a nice comfortable faith with a nice conformable performance is really a good and sensible way to look at it, and perhaps rumble along the way in their coaches, as the springs squeak and the leather wears. In this, they greatly resemble the case in Malachi 2::
" 'Behold, I will rebuke your descendants
And spread refuse on your faces,
The refuse of your solemn feasts;
And one will take you away with it.
" 'Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you,
That My covenant with Levi may continue,'
Says the Lord of hosts.
" 'My covenant was with him, one of life and peace,
And I gave them to him that he might fear Me;
So he feared Me
And was reverent before My name.
The law of truth was in his mouth,
And injustice was not found on his lips.
He walked with Me in peace and equity,
And turned many away from iniquity.
"For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge,
And people should seek the law from his mouth;
For he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
" 'But you have departed from the way;
You have caused many to stumble at the law.
You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,'
Says the Lord of hosts.
" 'Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base
Before all the people,
Because you have not kept My ways
But have shown partiality in the law.' "
Here you see that laissez-faire sort of spirituality which does not really bother too much about what God actually is or says, but finds a way of jogging along that is convenient, not offending too much, not dithering too much, making pragmatic judgments and at all costs making the locomotive that substitutes for zeal and love to rumble along the twisted tracks which are expedient in the day where truth is too virtuous and the law of God too narrow. As Christ pointed out, however, the WAY IS NARROW, if entering into life is the intent! (cf. Matthew 7:15ff.).
In fact, there is no room for controversy at all.
It is as true as the word of God that the new man in Christ is not merely renovated but re-created (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), and that the same is intensive in fruit-bearing as a new plant set in its spiritual soil but none other than God Himself (Matthew 15:13, Isaiah 61). Why then the argument ?
There are wheels within wheels here, as some want to make man his own co-saviour, a ludicrous position since the very coming to Christ is not of the will or flesh at all (John 1:12, Romans 9), and once come as called, there is nothing but glory to follow (Romans 8:29ff., I Thess. 5:9-10). Yet many want to avoid predestination, a ludicrous omission, like making a man and forgetting to stick in his heart, for it is as clear as is the sun at midday (Ephesians 1:4, John 15, Romans 8 and so on and on and on as we have seen in The PQ).
The fact that God predestines before time began (Ephesians 1:4) has nothing to do with HOW and WHY He did it. It is like saying, when a plan for a building is prepared, Oh no! how terrible! Now we shall have no liberty ... but WHO created the plan, and was it not by consent ? and did not God in His own love and character as shown in Christ in Luke 19:42ff., prepare that plan, so that no one, but no one, could conceivably be lost in its outworking!
It is better to actually read what is written both in Colossians 1 and in Matthew 7. There is predestination, there is this all-incompassing love in terms of salvation, there is a choice on the part of God, not by diminituve love, but through an all-encompassing love in its integrity (cf. Colossians 1:19ff., SMR Appendix B), so that none is left out for want of love.
There is likewise a result in regeneration, it is total reconstitution, but not novelty, being a remaking on the original mould (Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24), so that the results are radical, and the fruit assured in the new construction; and it is better for I and II Peter to be read without endeavours to make galvanised, Calvinised misconstructions to distort, or Arminianised desecrations to comport. Let us just see what he says.
THE CERTITUDES OF I PETER
In I Peter, there is passion, love and devotion, as one might expect from the one
who had sought to defend Christ
with the sword,
who had had accepted rebuke for doing so,
who had then run off, but had
stayed near enough to receive a rebuking look
and who had been met specifically by
the Lord after the resurrection,
Therefore when we commence I Peter 1, we are struck by many things of certainty, solidity, irrefragability.
First of all, the inspired apostle tells us that he is writing to those
"elect according to
the foreknowledge of God the Father
If you read this with the eternal perspective in view, which is so prominent in Peter's epistles and words (cf. I Peter 1:5,20,23-24, 2:8, 3:22 with Acts 2:23), it is readily comprehended. Thus you start with the concept of their predestinative election, sure selection in the heart and wisdom of God, who knew them before life ever entered their bodies, their bodies became alive in the womb or, for that matter, the world had so much as been laid down, in order to exist (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.).
Moving then from selection and foreknowledge, outside all question of being BASED on approbation of works (cf. Ephesians 2:8, Romans 9:9ff.), the action proceeds onwards to the sure and steadfast result, that as children of God there is going to be found in them 'sanctification of the Spirit'; for to this they are chosen. This is the QUALITY of life; but with it there comes issuance in life, namely OBEDIENCE. However what obedience can come, as you move nearer and nearer to historical considerations, and further from the nascency in foreknowledge, unless there be salvation in the first place! Hence this arises like the sun in the dawning of the morning, the enablement of regeneration, and and the continuing remission of sin in the second place. Hence are covered the oddments of life creep in to soil the garments of praise: and so it is "For obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (cf. I John 1:7ff.). Starting in heaven, we proceed to earth, and arrived, we find the implements of salvation and the results of it. Such is the biblical perspective in Christ, in Peter and in Paul (cf. John 10:26, , 8:47, 6:65, 15:16, Matthew 11:27).
Naturally, where predestination, election, foreknowledge is so basic to the understanding, as it so harmoniously is with Peter, there is no question to be asked about eternal security. OF COURSE the saved soul will endure to eternity, for was it not CHOSEN precisely, there, in eternity, where no winds crumple the parchment, nor any wiles contrive their woeful and wicked wares!
Thus Peter comes now to dwell on the actuality of being "begotten ... again" by which the archives of eternity are translated into historical action. Naturally, this is to a "living hope" (I Peter 1:3), not a dead or purely formal one; for where life is, there are its emblems and its ways, and where eternal life is, that very life of God (cf. I John 1:1-4, 5:11-13), of course there is a living thing, even in the hope, which one recalls in Paul is not some uncertain thing, but faith relative to the future not yet there (Romans 8:19ff.).
Let us hear Paul on this, where he is so amazingly parallel to Peter that it seems as if there is but one Author, which of course ultimately, there is (I Corinthians 2:9ff.).
Parallelisms in scripture we are finding in this volume, to be numerous indeed, in fact one of its characteristics.
"For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
"Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we do not know what we should pray for in the way we should: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He who spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also is making intercession for us.
"Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
"Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For Your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
There you see in Paul precisely the same eternal setting for temporal events, both before time and at the end of this type of time's road, on which we now travel!
Therefore it is without surprise that we find in I Peter 1, that this "living hope" is one which is come to us who are Christians "through the resurrection of Christ from the dead", so that it is based on objective reality, and is donated to faith by that means, in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16), who attests this position as children of God.
Now if we take the entire statement here in I Peter 1, we see that we who are His now, are begotten again by the resurrection of Christ from the dead to a living hope. In other words, we have become CHILDREN of GOD (as in I Peter 1:14 - Greek tekna - here in terms of the begotten as distinct from adopted, in terms of re-generation cf. Romans 9:8), and as such have a LIVELY HOPE which is apt for ETERNAL LIFE, as bark for the tree. As I John 3:9 tells us, and it is as deep as life itself, the SEED of the begetting spiritually (as physically) REMAINS in what is begotten.
HENCE, it is to an INHERITANCE that the children with this lively hope are begotten: that is the nature of the case with begotten children and a loving Father who acknowledges them!
Of what type is this inheritance ? Could it conceivably be like some ancient Scotch or Irish castle inherited by some all but forgotten offspring, coming from a distant relationship, formed many generations back ? and could it be little better than an ancient ruin, run down, with costs far exceeding usage ? NO, for it is an INCORRUPTIBLE INHERITANCE (I Peter 1:4).
Could it however, although not run down, nevertheless be polluted, spoiled by misuse ? Not at all, it is UNDEFILED.
Ah! but perhaps it could be ever so pure and incorruptible, and yet just ... fade away, like a dream ?
Far from it, for it "does not fade away".
Yes, the indefatigable doubter might prompt, then it is all right, and is pure and eternal and incorruptible and always there, but what of ME, the inheritor ?
Does he who inherits, then NOT inherit ? or are you called the one who inherits, because it is so or not so ? It is best to allow words to have meaning when you interpret them, for otherwise you might as well write the book yourself; but of course, not sign the name of God to it, in which case it would have no further interest whatever for those concerned in the matter.
Moreover, Peter ministers to such nonsense, for savage is that evil spirit the devil, and he adds: "reserved in heaven for you!" Its status ? reserved. Its place ? heaven. Its individuality ? for "you", its quality ? undefiled, its eternity ? incorruptible.
Such is the petrine correlative or parallel to I John 5:11-13, where those who believe in the name of the Lord Jesus are to KNOW that they have eternal life: Peter expounds it in detail. It is simply a fact. SO does Peter acclaim it, like Christ (John 5:24, 10:9,27-28) and like Paul (I Timothy 1:8-12).
Now we come to the little visit to Paul, as an introduction to the II Peter text to our point.
THE DIRECTIVES OF II PETER
It seems good now, the more so in view of our exposure of the intense parallelisms in scripture, by no means limited to the psalms, where it is even an art form as well, to look at II Corinthians 6 - 7:1. This forms a prelude to our transition to II Peter by way of comparison.
Here we see, following the basic mediation of reconciliation for faith, by the atonement on the part of Jesus the Christ in Chapter 5 (II Corinthians 5:17-21), the APPLICATION of this fact.
Before we look at this, for it is a transition similar to that between I and II Peter, let us note that in II Corinthians 5:1ff., there is the categorical announcement that there is a body eternal in the heavens, kept for the Christian; and this we know, declares the apostle. Our desire, he proclaims, is NOT to have this current body, unsuitable for eternal dimensions in heaven, being corruptible (as in I Corinthians 15:50ff.) stripped from us, leaving us like naked spirit, but to be CLOTHED OVER with the body which
something that is
"a building from God, a house not made
with hands, eternal in the heavens", adding,
"for this we groan" being in the temporary tent of our current body.
This is the provision; its time of availability is at the resurrection; its place is sure, and it is longed for like a school holiday, so that when it comes, its pure delight may be savoured.
The Spirit, he continues, has come as a guarantee of this body (II Cor. 5:5), just as in Romans 8:16, we read that the Spirit testifies in our spirits that are the children of God, as we await the redemption of the body (Romans 8:23).
Moving as do the words in I Peter, with this categorical certitude, Paul then challenges the hearers, and to this we attend in survey, before returning to II Peter 1. In considering this section of scripture, we ponder its words a little, as we proceed.
BE PLAIN, BE CLEAR, BE CLEAN, BE SPIRITUAL:
AND DON'T PARADE WITH REBELS
I THE CALL …II Cor. 6:1-2, 7:1
DO NOT receive the grace of God in vain! Paul quotes Isaiah 49:8 concerning the Christ then to come, now soon to return, and shows that there IS an acceptable time, and it is now; for when Christ is available, THAT is the time.
HOW COULD anyone receive the grace of God ‘in vain’ ? Very easily, as readily as pouring beer down your throat, or acid out of it! The seed hits the hard ground where the underlying rock of non-repentance and continuity of slavery to the concepts, the culture or the constraints of this world operate, and it soon dies, so that the word of God giving grace, finding an ultimate disgrace, found no place.
HOW COULD anyone then be sure that this is not so ? In II Cor. 7:1 Paul declares, “Therefore having these promises beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” The promise just stated above 7:1 is this, that people should leave the polluted premises of having communion with darkness, unequal yokage with unbelievers; for what has light to do communing with darkness, or what place has a saint of God linked to the ploys and plyings of the devil ? Unbelief is rebellion and truth is to be sought at any price. If you come to Him, leaving all, then HE will be a FATHER to you, and you a child of His own! That was the promise (II Corinthians 6:16-18).
Having done this, then, how to you proceed to cleanse yourselves from filthiness of spirit and
flesh ? What is this preoccupation with unclean spirit, unclean flesh ? It is nothing less than a Lot’s wife syndrome, where failing to be salty, to be alive to the leading of the Lord, and the life in His presence and by His word, she BECAME herself a salt source, though then dead! You EXAMINE YOURSELVES (II Cor. 13:5) as “to whether you are in the faith”, for if Christ is not in you, says the apostle, YOU ARE NONE OF HIS! If He is, He fills your life as water fills the cup, or the river bed.
Is there an error in your past ? repent of it, do not frame it! Is there a sin lodged in the psychology of your desires now ? repent of it, do not pursue it. Have you cheated someone, failed someone, been selfish, or do you pursue the field of self-interest ? If then you are your own god, how can you worship the One who IS God, whether worshipped or not, or escape judgment! IN all things be sincere, serviceable to the Lord and submissive to His will, and trusting in the Lord, you will find that you are not ashamed; but you MAY have to purge many things from your life, and putting first things first, be readable as so doing, like modern Noahs, who though few would follow you, yet build in the kingdom of God, and not for yourselves.
The life in Christ is not coming to Church to be good as well as effective in life; it is putting Him first in quality, in concept, in truth, in passion, in perspective and in practical events, so that your light so shines that men glorify God; it involves being full of light (Luke 11:34), so that darkness is as stench.
II THE CALLING … II Cor. 6:3-10
Like sea water, walking in the light purifies. You act in your calling as builders in the kingdom of heaven, sheep of His pasture, ships of His steering, and as you do so, the relief from His presence, the strength from His power, the faithfulness from His covering promises (II Peter 1, John 5:24), the love from His heart and compassion from His grace are like stars, shining endlessly in the heights of heaven; but these, they shine in our hearts. It is disobedience that is nonplussed; it is obedience by faith through grace, and that not of ourselves, it is this which is purposeful and blessed (Eph. 2:8), it is here that treasure is found: being enriched, you grow, growing you rejoice, and He is near, your coach and your trainer, your teacher and your friend. But you will suffer!
See Paul’s list of HIS service (3-10) in sincerity and consider! See it in these verses in FRANK FACT, in SPIRIT as in FEARLESS HONOURING OF THE LORD! seeking His mind in all things.
III THE CALLING OUT … II Cor. 6:11-18
Here Paul is asking them not to make the divine yoke a carnal joke!
It is a temptation to be a mere formalist, whether in church or in personal life.
Let us then consider the apostle’s message here. What COMMUNION does light have with darkness ? Does it join it in its colourlessness ? does light rejoice in the spiritual blindness that is produced for the sightless one who sees not, though eyes are there ? does it have comradeship in sin, or row in the same boat to the opposite shores, to those set ? Or do you yoke your neck with contrary kine to find the ways that are on stony soils, avoiding the richness of divinely directed living, because Christ is near ? Scarcely: or do you stray in such company because you value His word ? WHY, Christ asked, do you call me Lord, Lord and NOT do the things that I say (Luke 6:46).
His words are not suggestions for your employer’s box, but commands; nor hard if you KNOW Him and LOVE Him entirely beyond your self, your world, your desires and your self-sufficient hopes, or self-serving desires or ways. If you do however so love Him, and do put your heart into keeping His words, are prepared to sever from false partnerships with rebels, sullied spiritual darkness, then His life is near (II Cor. 6:14ff.). John 14:21-23 repays intensive study, prayer and thought!
Would you join with fatuous DIS-faiths ? Would you attend a church where a sexual pervert proclaiming his condition, is pastor, in violation of Leviticus 20:13, I Timothy 1:10, I Corinthians
6:9 ? and lightly esteem the word of God altogether ? and if so, what is He to you, a Father, whose word you supinely dismiss from all relevance to your conduct ? Such things do come and have come even in this country. Small wonder the Lord expostulated against Israel when they too were near with their lips, but far with their deeds (Isaiah 39:13).
When it comes to the sharing of life, of life’s deepest pursuits, of friendship, of business partnership, of marriage, of fellowship, of heart to heart rumination, there is Christ, and whatever company fits with His presence. Do you want to win another to Christ ? then act with salt, talk with truth and let it be that that one is won; but do not sit slovenly in unspiritual squalor and call this living … in Christ! Or honour what dishonours Him, or sit with the rebels.
If darkness and its denizens are so valuable, who is it then who so values it? But if it is not so valued, why then put all your energies into the way of light, the grace of truth, the government of Christ, the following of His leading and the kindness of His compassion, to find His will, follow His way, using the gifts for service which He gives, and finding your place in the building team which is His, called the Church, the one which HE calls you to work in; for the darkness comes when no man can work (John (John 9:4). The TIME is NOW for work, for building, for testimony and virtue.
III THE DIRECTIVES OF II PETER
Thus it is becoming apparent that there is certitude to faith in the individual, like John, Peter, Paul, Job, David and this faith is proclaimed as for all who are the Lord's; but a church is composed of many, and the 'elders' or disciples of Christ, the 12, had one devil long known in their midst (cf. John 6:70). There is NO certitude to a particular church body, since it may have various devils, some contrite without tears, some in tears but not contrite, some in other words strong on appearance, but fakes, some weak in appearance, but fakes also; and there may be some who think they are not fakes, boasting of their sanctity, weighty and noble, but in fact dim in spirit and never illuminated by divine light, rather being directive and managerial merely.
It is to a crowd that the word of II Peter applies, and these may be very varied in their spiritual domains! It is to everyone working together in the way appointed, in the group, and one can sense the unity in corporicity in Acts 4:23ff., , just as much as in individuality in the cases of Acts 4:10ff.. There is always need to challenge in church, since the case is multiple, and there is, as in Christ's parable of sower and seed in Matthew 13, a spread of cases, some genuine, some too hard-hearted to retain the word which regenerates, some too pre-occupied to hear it, and so on.
Peter then, here was addressing the church before his departure from this life, which he was assured for him was near (II Peter 1:13ff.), and wanting them to have an enduring testimony and test (II Peter 1:12,10,15), even though assured of their integrity (II Peter 1:12).
He then outlines a number of qualities of the life in the Lord:
faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control,
brotherly kindness, love ... saying that those who produce such qualities are assured of a good entrance into the kingdom. Moreover, those who lack such things are mere mirages, forgetting the cleansing operation which in this case, did not reach to the heart.
Therefore, he advises, "make your calling and election sure".
THIS, we recall is to a varied assembly in the church. IF they have faith by grace to receive the salvation which endures, well; but some may not, and may think they do, or may be on the brink, and not realise there is a step of surrender to which they do not dare to come (cf. Luke 14:27ff.). To all, then, the reminder goes forth, in case to any it is essential to bring the wake-up call from a spiritual sleep which is merely clad with the form: as if someone were tossing in bed while wearing dinner-suit.
It is perhaps rather like saying to children in hostel, Make sure you were born!
Born! they echo, incredulous ? How would we not be so ?
Now it is admittedly unlikely that any would be angels, but the mere act of finding out and being sure they know, each one, who is the mother and who is the father and when the birth came, could only make them clearer about their identity. In the case of spiritual birth, it helps to know to whom you have come, from w whom you have been brought life and when, and by virtue of what promises and assurances, when engaged in discovering or confirming WHETHER YOU ARE BORN! For you notice in I Peter 1, it is to those who have been BORN AGAIN in this lively hope, that the promises apply.
Certainly, the child may not know the date of the birth, helpful though that is, but even so, casting the mind back should reveal that at such and such a time one was wholly surrendered to the Lord, actively trusting in Him according to His word, and then one could affirm that at least by that time, one belonged to the kingdom, being a child of God, begotten again to an inheritance incorruptible, not fading away, reserved in heaven for you.
However, not all will be able to do this - Judas for example would have been entirely rebuffed in any such enterprise, since the active ingredient was missing in his case, and always had been, whatever might have been the substitute 'substance'! Then the, in terms of II Corinthians 13 and 6-7, gives the need to EXAMINE YOURSELVES. Assuredly this is so, but no examination of the engine under your bonnet will PUT IT THERE; and no car which has an engine, is going to proceed without one. It is not so very hard...
In particular, as you see in II Peter 2, there are some whose MOTIVES are MONEY, or GAIN in some sense, and they
"make merchandise of you"
if you are foolish enough to let them; though those who trust in the Lord are not for such hands as those, since He conducts them aright, they study His word like treasure, and are not ashamed.
Yes, evil has many tentacles; but truth is one. Christ is one. Salvation is one. It has but one result, unlike that for those who merely echo the tone of the term 'redeemed' or ‘bought’ and are no more so than is the daughter of some rich man married by an adventurer for her money, 'loved'. The Lord has provided a sacrifice sufficient for all, adapted for all and sincerely offered to all, and is the saviour of all men, but "especially of those who believe" (I Timothy 4:10).
Yet though there is indeed an irrevocable justification which is TOWARD ALL MEN (Romans 5:18), it is received alone by those appointed, not in word alone, but in heart, for those whose lives God has foreknown to be His; for He does know those who are His! (II Timothy 2:19), and likewise those does He know, as Christ long knew of Judas, who are in this sense, fiscal frauds and fiduciary falsettos.
Directional presentation is total; internal reception is selective. Some only receive Him, the Lord who in magnificence of munificence has paid enough for any and all (cf. I John 2:1-2 where ‘on behalf of’ shows the breadth of the objective provision, as in the sacrifices of Israel of old, in Leviticus 17, though not all received them by faith). Broad as is the provision for the sake of all, far is this the case for all, as in many a movement and an offer.
For many, vast as is the offer on their behalf, the cheque is never cashed, the gift never taken, and hence the funds never transferred. Shallow in heart, they are not reached by the seed of the word, the donation of the Gospel, which shrivels in their hardened spiritual hearts. Their involvement in the love of God is mere mockery of it.
It is as if a mother were to say to her forsaken daughter, "Oh yes, the man who loved you and married you!" ; but her words are mere tearing irony, mocking the ghastly pretence of form, in indubitable collision with... FACT! Loved ? loved by the man who professed it with words and denied it with deeds! Loved indeed, a person indirectly desired, for her pocket! This love stops at and with the word…
Scoffers and mockers will be many in the last days, so BEWARE, BEWARE! says Peter (II Peter 2:1, 3:3) and be holy (II Peter 3:11-12). Assurance is not a substitute for reality; but its result!
INTEGRAL HARMONY REMAINS
Thus assurance is the name for the certitude of faith that Christ is God in the flesh, that His words are certain, that His gift is a grant by grace, that those who receive Him, the Lord's Christ in heart and reality with repentance as Lord indeed by faith, are His children and the trust for one's own case, this being so, that God is indeed one's very own Father, by adoption on account of the atoning sacrifice and bodily resurrection of Christ, thus authenticated: these are His and will of course remain as eternally begotten spiritually children. Such is Christian assurance, normal, fitting and dynamised by God.
It is NOT the name for the belief that somehow or other some good God or other will do some good thing or other in some good way or other and probably get some reasonable sort of a bloke or gall to a suitable end, somewhere or other. THIS, it is not assurance, and if assurance is lacking in any such, it is certainly good that it should be, since it would be but self-deception as II Peter reminds us. In OUR generation, this one with the characteristics of the "latter days", with Christ impending in His return, that one to which the culmination of hypocrisy and pretence addresses itself: this is the more urgent a reminder.
However, it would be even more foolish to seek to dismiss, disparage or even dilute the endless certitudes in scripture, Paul, Peter, Daniel, David, Job, in the words of Christ, because some do not receive Him thus! Do quacks make you avoid doctors ? Do sharks make you avoid all bankers ? Do accidents stop you driving ?
How much less should pretenders and the shallow perversions of the truth of the word of God make anyone fearful! It does however remind us that Christ told us to be careful, saying TAKE CARE HOW YOU HEAR! (Luke 8:18). IF you INSIST on following pulpits that do not honour God, and churches which rebel against His word, WHY do you do so ?
Is it because you prize His word ? and if it is because the church means more to you than the word of God, who then is your LORD ? Be your own judge in this, and then repenting, FOLLOW HIM, and do not omit His mouth!
It is this, after all, which is the source of all assurance, the Spirit attesting their state and status by grace, in those who have found Him, based on that word on which a man may build, as on a rock, immovable, immutable (Matthew 7, I Corinthians 3, Galatians 1, I Peter 2).
Man can strive with man, but with God, the result is ever sure. Man can attempt to strive with the word of God, but its dominance is that of truth, which cannot by truth be evacuated; and being assailed only by lie, lies secure in its integrity. Trying to take elements of eternal life and set them at each other’s throats is vain and incoherent patter; for they relate as to the facets of crystal, spreading out the light into its various colours, the light which is itself pure white, just as the crystal itself, is perfect in its construction and its facets.
Heady clashes and dizzy dashes are interesting perhaps; but the harmony that is holy is not found in intemperance, but in understanding, adhering to the word of God as love to its object, as the ocean waters to their base, as the mountains to their underlying rapport with the earth. Yet if those mountains heave, this one merely grows (cf. Daniel 2:36, 45, 7:13-14,25).