GUIDANCE MUST FIRST BE TO GOD
BEFORE FROM GOD
You enter the Door before you go in and out and find pasture!
The Wisdom of the Divine Circuit
This is from LICENCE to be LED Ch. 7 …
But first, for the present purpose, we have a NEW introduction to make!
In what follows, we see an exposition on guidance. In the midst of the presentation, we come upon the concept of the circuit in Romans 8:29ff., where WHOM HE FOREKNEW, these GOD PREDESTINATED, and those HE CALLED, and in turn, JUSTIFIED and GLORIFIED. This means that there is beyond what this our present chapter so stresses, in the field of guidance, the prioritisation and the privacy of the quasi-autonomy unconverted man, whether this be DISPOSED into the ready and waiting arms of this or that culture or political schema or system, or some cultural concoction in the field of religion, something else. It is an action by God. It does not depend on YOU plus CULTURE plus EDUCATION plus PSYCHIC inherited structure and so on to whatever level of nausea appeals. It depends on God.
HIS is the plan for the human mind, HE is the ultimate environment for man, from HIM comes the liberty of the will, and in HIM comes the depravity gradient which results from the misuse of this will, together with the judgment which so many so supinely confuse with determinism*1: that is, the enslavement to this or that sin, culture or set of morms, internal or eternal, so that man may be a psychic cot-case, despite the obvious composition of his tastes which can choose cultures or psychic states as a preference, as well as modes of reviewing them analytically, giving a double variable without further ado, and before any more are considered.
However it is not here our desire to proliferate the obvious, but to examine the action of God. In acting TO MAKE man, then, God has comprehensive knowledge, essential and actual, beyond our own thoughts, and not in any way limited to the craft to make, in slender but impressive degree given to us in our derivative minds with their largely pre-set ambits, which for all that have enormous scope for play within these, and capacity likewise to examine their validity – for God is liberal and gracious to us.
WHEN therefore God, our ultimate environment decides to transcend our littleness, institute over our heads the ultimate perspective (not yet entirely with the breadth of eternity, but with the accuracy of His word to us, which is total – I Cor. 2:9-13, 13:11, John 17:17, ), when He resolves to remove from us our sinful substitute for knowledge as it ought to be, and to do so in the very presence of instituting our knowledge of HIM in the inter-personal inter-face which is natural (because the supernatural in making the natural, made this a natural ford), then a decisive result obtains.
What is this result ? It is this: conversion occurs, with regeneration (Titus 3:5-7). The ULTIMATE BASIS of this is scripturally and actually His love by which HE DESIRES US TO GAIN THIS KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH (Colossians 1).
The PROCEDURAL MEANS by which this is done, without violation of love, is statedly by FOREKNOWLEDGE (Romans 8:29ff.), and the way that is implemented is by CALLING and JUSTIFICATION together with GLORIFICATION (cf. Romans 8:17).
The WISDOM of it all is seen in this, that
¨ the love is authenticated on the Cross,
¨ our coming is prepared in foreknowledge and assured in predestination,
¨ and all deceit, deviousness and subtle cunning is removed in advance by this means.
Those who come to Him do so actually; those who merely appear to do so, do not do it actually, and God discerns. Moreover, since sin paralyses in this sphere (Romans 9:16, Johh 1:12), it is God who performs in His own foreknowledge, not in terms of our admirable or other works, not in our estimable or other desires, not in the particular strength of our burning yearnings, but in truth, where our will and heart lie, despite their diseased condition.
HE KNOWS HIS OWN (I Timothy 2:19), and these then are marked in advance, rather the way in one sense, that antibodies are placed on foreign cells, to demarcate them for action, but in this case, it is the opposite: these are the cells made kin, these are those marked as His own. The historical action which all Christians feel, or know, is then in due course (as when the corpuscles come equipped for action against foreign bodies in our system) eventuated in conversion. It is not to attack (though the sin is attacked, its guilt detached), but to rescue that He acts. This is the difference once more, that it is the opposite of the phagocyte case. The alien becomes friend, being not destroyed but transmuated. The person becomes a Christian.
Here it is for ACCEPTANCE that the power of God arrives, to institute what has been wrought.
Some may object to the simple concept that it is God who knows what we WOULD have willed if we COULD have willed, and had not sinned; but this is merely a model to express, in total conformity to the Bible, the direction of action. What is certain is this, that GOD desires ALL, and that GOD does NOT violate any, that GOD FOREKNOWS His own before time commenced, or if you will, outside the intimacies of a time-related system, and that God states, in the very face of this DIVINE DESIRE of His for ALL, that it is the human will which differentiates in this sense, that it and it alone is CULPABLE for not coming.
This we have seen repeatedly, in particular in SMR Appendix B, PF, and PREMARVELS 4 and so on. Here we merely summarise. This is the simple pronouncement of the word of God.
In what sense, however, COULD it, the human soul, the will of man, his person be culpable when the will when unconverted, is statedly inoperative at his level (I Corinthians 2:14 and refs.above) ? It is in this sense, that God Himself READS it when it cannot read, when it is spiritually illiterate. HE did not need a Primary Teacher to teach Him to read! (cf. Psalm 94:10-12).
HOW does He read it ? Do we need, really, a work in the technical department of divinity to be understood!*2 God is well able to read ANYTHING in any condition, in any model situation, whether hidden to any or not. ALL THINGS says the word of God, are open and manifest before HIM! (Hebrews 4:13). There is nothing logically difficult there. In HIS OWN WAY, God sees, knows, knows before time, knows before plan becomes building if you will, that human will A is not to be reached with the limits which the restraint of love requires, in His own perfect will and moral beauty; and that human will B is not so exclusive, but one of His own.
Does this make the A type better ? Is a horse better that drinks than one which dies next to the trough, for want of water ? You may say so, but the latter horse could be far better equipped with intelligence, racing prowess, capacity to respond to all sorts of commands, genetically and the like. It is just that the former one WANTED the water.
The latter horse may have experienced its thirst far more exquisitely, if you like to think of this as a parable for things such as the way Augustine wrote of his unconverted estate, and you find in someone like Hugo Wolf, the composer, comparatively exquisite expressions of his forlornness and need! (as on occasion in Tchaikovsky).
However, it does not see fit to accept. Why ? It is because perhaps it is afraid of the water, of the trough, has a memory about troughs, hates the one who leads him to the water… there are many possibilities.
That parable is imperfect. NO HORSE IN ITSELF wants, to follow the original parable in its form, to have the water ULTIMATELY, since spiritual things seem to the unconverted foolish (I Cor. 2:14 - actual spiritual things, not conveniently imaged substitutes for them!). However, if you wish to bring the parable to the pre-temporal setting in which the Lord sees fit to assign to those wills which WON’T, the responsibility (Ephesians 1:4 shows the actuality of the process in pre-time) for so negating, then you realise that craft it how you will, the MODEL in the scriptural setting must involve, but in God’s own way, a will known by God, a desire which is divine for that will, a response to love by that will discerned by God however He wills to discern, but in fact as truth, since the LORD IS TRUTH (John 14:6).
The parable therefore goes from the historical to the anhistorical, from the pathological to the procedural in predestination.
Let us consider this theme.
The original DIVINE action, being outside the actual, defiled, created sinner who is to be saved, and in the foreknowledge of God, specifically a matter not of a mere works kind (Romans 9:10ff.), is not limited as it would be, if man were himself operative in disposing his own will. Since sin does not limit the knowledge of God, and truth can penetrate into all things from the brilliance of His knowledge, before whom all things are laid bare, therefore the very possibility of some slant being LESS sinful, and MORE acute is irrelevant. We are not dealing with the OPERATIVE efficiency or INCLINATION or PROCLIVITY of fallen man, but considering the work of GOD (cf. John 8:29) which is back of belief, and here in particular, the FOREKNOWING part of that program.
Here in history is the domain where imperfection is the rule; but there God sees everything without any veil upon it. Always KNOWING ALL things, He then however is dealing with them in His own way, before the Fall so much as ever occurred. The Fall is history; His foreknowing is the only genuine pre-history, and in it history is carved.
He foreknows those to be His as they are, not as they are spoiled: He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the living, and has known, as with Jeremiah, before their birth, that they were His. He was not limited in this knowledge by their being defunct, inoperative, partial persons, shadows in sin; but knew them as HIS, as thus beings into which His light pouring (in His creative understanding, outside actual time as Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:4), where there is left no shadow and truth is not troubled by the insidious rebukes of irrelevance.
In all this, it is not the historical will which is involved, since this is negative simply. It is not the operational capacity of the will, in nature, since this is negative entirely (Romans 9:16, John 1:12, I Cor. 2:14). It is the divine knowledge of that will beyond its incapacitation. THAT is the knowledge specified in this matter: HIS, NOT LIMITED BY TIME, and involving the FINAL BEING concerned. These are not conjectures; but written facts from the word of God, this time NOT subjected to the intrusions of philosophy, but taken (as in Predestination and Freewill) point by point as it comes. If this annoys some people, let it. It is as it is written.
What then ? It is the teacher who sees the student as he is, could be, and indeed will be, and not as he is just now, with his pneumonia making his mind inoperative. God sees the reality before history began.
This is simple. But someone may ask: Is there no merit in the will which GOD CHOOSES ? None, and this for the spread of reasons already mentioned above. When the view is in the mystery format of Calvin, contrary to scripture as to WHOM God excludes, there is a question of character, for on that philosophical model, such wills are deemed more God-suitable BY GOD; and who is as godly as God to be so taken ?
When however it is the will, as is the scriptural mode, albeit not in historical format but before all time and indeed before even CREATION has occurred, as shown in SMR Ch. 8, rather like an architect acutely and accurately knowing (foreknowing) the house he has not yet built: then God sets before it what it will. If it values eternity in its own company and its own devices, so be it. If it values God, so be it. It is GOD ALONE who knows, and who institutes. If you choose to say that this is not correctly indicated as God knowing what the will would will if it could will, so be it. The format of the proposition is not as important as the model number! What is that ?
GOD and the human WILL are in RELATIONSHIP and GOD deems the RESULT by HIS OWN KNOWLEDGE and ASSIGNS responsibility to the will when the result is negative. It is CONTRARY, statedly, to HIS DESIRE. THAT is what the scriptural teaching incontestably is, as shown not once or twice, in the above references and works.
Now we turn to GUIDANCE. Until you belong to God, guidance may by grace be allowed to enable you in this or that way, but there is simply NO SYSTEMATIC correspondence between the person involved, and God. The person unconverted might be led by a devil, a dream or a desire in metaphysical clothes, or a resolution from his own heart, specially made for dream world. On the other hand, God may resolve to use a dream to awaken the soul to life as part of his INTRA-HISTORICAL work in awakening the soul He knows to be His. These, they are two entirely different things, one coming from the psychic environment of man, the other from his MAKER. It is rather like the distinction between fiddling without much mechanical knowledge, with your new computer-assisted car, on the one hand, and returning it to the manufacturer for refitting according to computerized specifications, on the other. In both cases, things … happen; in only one case, however, are they much to the point!
In terms, then, of practical, actual, historical guidance such as you or I might seek, the knowledge of God personally, as you might know your banker personally, is utterly essential. You must know Him in contradistinction to the sharks, and the swindlers for example! And for that matter, to the wolves (Matthew 7:15).
HOW can you so know Him ? First, however, there is something one must realise again, to be realistic and not to form a reductionist model of SCRIPTURE ITSELF, as so many do in these realms, not facing its words. It is an important fact. What is this ? YOU MUST IN FACT KNOW GOD, before reliable guidance operates. THIS, said Christ, IS eternal life, that you should know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3).
HIS sheep KNOW Him and HEAR HIS VOICE and follow Him (John 10).
To be sure, this format of the illustration of the ‘sheep’ does NOT need to be taken literally: the whole thing here is a mini-parable in any case. What is required is to take seriously the pith of the message here incorporated. What is this ? It is that IF and WHEN you are one of His sheep, then you are aware of certain things in a routine and sure fashion, in distinction from those who do not have the mercy of being His.
What are these differences ? First, you do in FACT know His voice. You do not confuse it with another: that would be horrendously contrary to the whole point, that so many have followed false shepherds to their dismay, or ruin; and that many such had come before Christ, He Himself DECLARED; but HIS sheep know the DIFFERENCE. That is the point, or one of the points, which He is explicitly making in John 10.
First, then, they, His sheep, do not think His voice may be or is better as in the case of the person who says Christianity may be wrong, but it is better: the appalling case concerning an Archbishop, reported elsewhere. THIS IS NOT AT ALL WHAT IS BEING SAID. THEY KNOW His voice. THEREFORE they follow Him, because their discernment is not in question. Put differently, as the GOOD SHEPHERD, His pastoral care includes the clarity of His voice and its relevance to and impact on the aural equipment of the sheep!
What is this
voice ? Is it the scripture, the word of God ? Of course. Is it only
this ? Of course not. It is ALSO the APPLICATION of the promises which IT CONTAINS! The word of God is not putty for messing with; it is a declaration to be DONE, a form to be FOLLOWED, a provision to be UTILISED!
Did not Philip (Acts 8) receive DIVINE GUIDANCE to leave a most successful evangelisation crusade and go into the DESERT! If he had not been LED to do this, how in the world could he have justified such an expenditure of time in competition with the needs or opportunities, the scope, the historic doors opened in this phenomenal mission to those in Samaria (Acts 8)! How could he actually leave that to … go into the desert!
Someone says, But this was a deacon! True. There are thousands of them, and he was not an elder, even. Someone says, But this was then. True, but the Bible does not state that then is to be compartmentalised. When it says it, when it gives a word it is for advice, exhortation, rebuke, correction, instruction. How does one know this ? It is because it SAYS SO (cf. II Timothy 3:16, Matthew 4:4 and see The Christian Pilgrimage Ch. 5).
Again someone protests, But this was in a time when miracles abounded. True, but the Bible does not limit the times, as in some revivals, and in some healing crusades (but not many) when miracles abound. If you are interested in the BIBLE, there is no way you can differentiate. If you want to do this, you have the choice of following a chosen tradition (contrary to Mark 7:7ff.), or inventing your own, resting on your own understanding.
The other abstract option is to believe and follow the Bible. This being the present topic for understanding, and application, so that it may be seen in its dignity and efficacy, in its completion of the needs of man, it alone is relevant.
Let us not however leap to conclusions as from some overhanging precipice, drawn to the depth below, without regard to the gravity of the situation! WHEN a person is converted, he/she is NOT beyond any error; nor is a sheep.
But the sheep in general KNOWS what is what in principle and in normal practice, though it may have to learn a few things! These things in practice, to follow the state of the parable, do not show that there is no shepherd, but rather the need to adapt to one. Again, the sheep may have liver fluke, or a rotting syndrome in the feet, requiring careful and painful, not to say time-consuming and at times nauseating correction.
Man is not exempt from life because he lives with God, but provided with a shepherd. In guidance, he may need to be cured of impetuosity or carelessness, as may a sheep. He may need to learn, too, to find what is written and apply it in its purity without admixture. So a dog, to take another example, may be taught perhaps 100 commands and know them. Within these, he may learn further how to understand the way the Master expects him to leap to His voice, stirred by this or that word. How beautiful it can be when a dog almost jumps out of its skin in its sheer ARDOUR to discern and do what is sought, to seek this or perform that! Zeal and zest without doubt are both good and enabling functions, for as in any apt student, you can the more readily teach when he the more readily learns! That, it is an affair of the heart.
On the whole, however, we expect the sheep to learn and to adapt, and to improve, and to be effectively led. It is a sumptuous thing when one receives such care and follows its ways, and in this case, it is the SHEPHERD Himself, alive, His will inscripturated, His promises active to the present under His living care.
Our basic thrust here must now be pondered, and it is this. IF you are not converted, then you are in position, biblically and actually, WHOLLY different for receiving guidance, from someone who is NOT! Secondly, the difference does not make the converted person some species other than man, but it DOES make FUNCTIONAL what is unhappily DYSFUNCTIONAL in unconverted man. If you will, it is like a torch minus battery compared with one which has one, or a flat battery in a torch compared with one that … works!
The principles and practice of guidance, then, relate to this absolute divergence between the converted and the unconverted to Jesus the Christ, as a condition, on the one hand, and on the other, to the highly intimate and personal relationship of the Christian to his/her Shepherd, as a function. It is this that is needed, together with a healthy knowledge of the Bible in order to know what GOD PROMISES and what He does not, and in particular to realise that HE DOES NOT promise (or exclude) an audible voice, What He does provide is merely a comprehensible communication; and this is not in addition to the Bible (Proverbs 8:30), but in fulfilment of its various promises, and compared with its words with scrupulous scrutiny!
These things being said, GUIDANCE becomes an application of predestination in the field of man, since it has principles which are purely spiritual and scriptural, in that marriage of faith in God and reliance on His chosen instrument, here the Bible and the work of His Holy Spirit.
It is NOT that the converted person is one whit better than the one who did not come home to Christ as Lord and Saviour; it is therefore NOT that the converted person has some kind of reservoir of superiority which constitutes the hope and ground of good guidance. It is NOTHING of this (Ephesians 2 and 4). NO merit is present and NO differential is operative, but ONLY grace and love from God. What then ? It is, therefore the case that God gives by ENTIRELY gracious means, the quality dependent on Himself alone, the guidance man needs as he seeks for wisdom (James 1).
Moreover, it is not individual nor is it social: it is WHAT IT TAKES. If we have a pastor, then consultation may help, but the Bible comes first and faith must ALWAYS be present, as James makes DECISIVE, in terms of receiving the wisdom from GOD, whatever the means that He may select.
In all these things, therefore, in this as in all other phases of the Christian life, it is the case that BLESSED are the POOR in SPIRIT, and the MEEK, and are THOSE WHO HUNGER and THIRST after RIGHTEOUSNESS (Matthew 7, in the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes). It is when for whatever reason you have some expectations from your great (or pitiable or desirable or susceptible or some other kind of highly qualified) self, or indeed some other substitute for God as the ultimate in your life, that your grief is sure, your guidance is corrupted and your brightness is your black hole!
Now we proceed to the chapter, to be read in the wake of this introduction for this purpose, from LICENCE TO BE LED.
NOTES from Introduction
See SMR Ch. 8 in the opening section, and Predestination and Freewill Section 3.
In fact, not didactically, but for illustrative purposes, in SMR Ch. 8 at the outset a diagrammatic rendering of one conceivable divine procedure is provided. This covers the case and fits all scriptural input; it is not however necessary to do more than show how readily the principles of scripture provided, are met in order to exhibit the harmony in view in this way, also.
The advantage always over all systems where either good works, or good acceptability or even RELATIVE desirability on the part of God to be found in what after all, is not nothing, but persons being foreknown and predestinated, is this, that the BIBLE declares as we have so often shown, itself repeatedly, that it is GOD’s contribution to DESIRE that all be saved, and MAN’s contribution to rebut this saving grace, in the way, and format that God in His all-sufficient knowledge, cognizes.
WHAT is cited in man in this regard ? His will. What is then the cause ? His will. HOW could it be when it is divinely overseen and the result is known only to God, who acts and activates on that basis ? Only by the knowledge of God. Of what then does He have knowledge ? It is not for surmising: it is divinely declared. It is the will which in His knowledge is understood when it cannot understand itself. HE does not distort it, so that it is KNOWLEDGE on His part. He does not misrepresent it, so that it is desire on man’s part, and indeed, it is preference EVEN IN THIS MILIEU for the evil which is the divinely declared GROUND of the divine resolution, determination, which in the form of knowledge, leads on precisely s Romans 8:29ff. shows, to predestination as a RESULTANT, just as the justification is the resultant of the CALL, and the glorification of the JUSTIFICATION in that closed circuit, depicted categorically by Paul.
These are simple scriptural FACTS. Philosophic desire to reconcile this with that, in terms of some conception derived from this or that culture, has led to enormities of excess on both sides of the line. Neither is warranted. It is time for the people of God to forget their FORBIDDEN ‘authorities’ and return as Spurgeon could so well show, to what is written. If he did not resolve the matter, he at least DID show the reality of both aspects. It is the Bible which finally resolves the matter, when you do one simple thing: believe it and keep to ALL that it says ALL the time when discussing ANY part of it, in this sphere.
It is, as Paul tells Timothy, ALL scripture which is profitable, and not some today, some tomorrow, but ALL of it ALWAYS, for the word of God is that by which a man must live, and how often are you alive ? ALWAYS, and while you are, use it coextensively with your life (Matthew 4:4). Then there is no scope for the foolish party warfare which is a disgrace of so-called Christendom, but worse if possible, a distortion of His word, which sits outside these extremes, by itself, for it is the expression of the very mind of God!
END of NEW INTRODUCTION
LICENCE TO BE LED
Slightly adapted and
WHERE IS YOUR LICENCE
You may say that you need no licence to be led, that this is a personal decision, existential, emotional or intellectual, and that even if not some combination of this trio, it has nothing in the world or out of it, to do with authorisation.
Ask the Communists, however, and you will not find consent, or consensus for that matter.
Ask the Army, and they will not agree. They view it as a matter of echelons of command, political, military and sequences of thought and order, organisation and procedure.
Ask a democratic country, if you can find one, and see if they agree: Oh no! it is for the representatives to be elected, their parties to grope and group if necessary to find a majority, for the majority to rule, for the rules to be made, and for the electors to abide by them.
Ask yourself: DO YOU allow yourself to be led by ANYTHING ?
If not, why protest. You need licence to be led. . . even if YOU are the licensing authority, that is, in your own eyes.
You will have priorities, even if one of them is to have no priorities: THAT then becomes the exalted statute of your heart. You will have codes, even if not codified, what one should, may or WILL NOT do, even if it is merely NOT to do what these MORAL people do, viewing them as heartlessly bound, inconsequentially circumscribed or in whatever other light your own light (or darkness, as the case may be) LEGISLATES in your own thought, conscience and convictions.
There are some things you will not do... but it is a little more complicated than that, even at the outset. There is a distinction between what you WOULD NOT WISH to do, and what YOU DO NOT DO. Paul is extreme in his depiction of this, but only because he is so spiritually sensitised as to SEE what goes on, without the clouds of self-justification covering the case. In Romans 7 he is clear: the case he is reviewing as indicative of the need of salvation was nothing less than his own. It was not merely an episode in which he lapsed, but a condition of heart in which he languished. What he would do, he failed to do; what he would NOT do, he would find himself doing. His ideals were like a glider, aloft but subject to downdrafts. There was inadequate power, propulsion upward, control of currents to compensate, for achievement of direction OF THE EXALTED KIND HE HAD IN MIND.
So, the apostle indicated, he served God with his mind, but there was a law in him, sin, which disturbed the complexion of the lake of his heart, and brought up a turgidity to the look of its waters. Indeed, the more, in the aroused sensitivity of his soul, he urged upward, the more he found a downdraft to combat it.
· "FOR I KNOW THAT IN ME (THAT IS, IN MY FLESH) NOTHING GOOD DWELLS: FOR TO WILL IS PRESENT WITH ME, BUT HOW TO PERFORM WHAT IS GOOD I DO NOT FIND." Thus, "the good that I will do to, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practise ... for I delight in the law of God in the inward man, but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind ... O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death ?"
We have considered this elsewhere and told the story of the young boy with his powered little plane who allowed it to circle to the rapture of other children, in its zooming flight, who grew to maturity in time to belong to the first of the few, in 1939-1940, who gloried in attainment, in achievement in clever combat manoeuvres, in shooting down the enemy raiders, free to be led to the heights so that they did not see him against the sun, in those illiterate days of guidance systems; and then, swooping with daring, he would destroy them. When another went yet above him, and played on his swooping with a more altitudinous swooping of his own, and shot HIM down, then we had the drama. He would GO UP, with his mind, but the 'wretched machine', like Paul's 'body of death', would have nothing of it.
DOWN it went, even though it was so magnificently built, a Spitfire! Yes, and one might point out, the excellence of its aerodynamics might assist its flight downward, mispowered and misdirected !
He could not more contrive an upward passage, in his aircraft, than Paul in his earlier life.
Just then, an aircraft carrier beneath directed fire into the aerial scene, and a chance bullet hitting his harness, he was at last enabled to escape the tormented mess of his machine, and parachuting to safety, was able as he wafted, to discern his smoking relic of an aeroplane, by another amazing eventuation, moving straight onto the aircraft carrier as if he had directed it. It was his own!
Soon it hit, the vessel went down and oil remained to attest, with whatever other colours, its departure.
The code is of course means this: the pilot is Paul, or for us, anyone with enough perception and humility to see the failure of the highest, of the very brilliance and radiance, the excellence and purity and peace of God in his life. Indeed, it is anyone so stricken by God, that he at least begins to see his real position relative to sin.
He would be led above, but he is not. Whatever plane of operation he may reach, it is beneath what he perceives in God, as the desirable, the spiritual. Perhaps he is tending merely to satisfy himself or his own ambitions, with God an admiring bystander, or whatever other arrogance; but whatever the perception, it is clear that this is not good enough for God!
Our pilot, then, enjoys his victories; his heart grows accustomed to lower levels, and soon he finds his rejoicing cut short. He is exposed to himself as a failure in what he would do, and some sin moves to capture him.
He cannot escape. Suddenly a bullet, the gospel, hits his harnessing contraption, and he is released miraculously. He is now "in heavenly places" as Ephesians describes life in Christ; but to his horror perceives the COST of his release as the sin-laden craft of his life meets its destiny of judgment ON the Christ, from whom the deliverance first proceeded. Christ dies, and the crucifixion covers the craft he lost, the life he had yielded to Him; and he perceives this: "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world" - Galatians 6:14.
This was the resolution. So Paul covered in biographical form, the deliverance his life now attests, as he says in Romans 8:
"... the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
Thus we have come to the conclusion that there is a LICENCE which you yourself have, concerning the things into which you may be led, and may not; and that this is not the same thing entirely as its exercise. A gap or gulf can arise, depending on how exalted your aim is, or how low. It is however there. Perfect people are sooner met in their words concerning themselves, than in the observable deeds!
WHO GAVE YOU YOUR LICENCE ?
Of course, you could make any moral rules, at your own will, and these are not really moral if so, because this is merely the outward or propositionalised presentation of your inward desire. WHY it is your desire is the all important question in definition. If it is that it APPEALS to you, so may passion fruit ice-cream on a hot Summer's day, but this is not moral. If it appeals to your sense of rightness, then the origin of that sense becomes the burning issue.
If it just that it occurs to you that it is right, then that becomes merely a preference of your mind, like one for watching clouds, and is not moral, but a question of inclination at the mental level. If, again, it is merely a marvel of your heart, something that fascinates you, or has always seemed right to you, that then becomes an inward cultural matter, a thing of what has been and is, and is no more moral than eleven o'clock services for Church (or immoral). It is a happening within the person which appeals to a sense of fitness. It is not necessarily right or wrong, and has no moral ingredient.
If however you say this: I am convinced that this set of priorities, preferences and penchants (whichever one you choose to name, we'll called it PPP) is good and right, and so moral, then we must enquire further. Is it good and right for all, and hence should it be carried into effect by all, so that you become Moses II ? or something of this kind ?
If you say, YES, then we must enquire into what knowledge of the HUMAN SOUL, NATURE, DESIGN and PURPOSE has been committed to you and from what source. It CANNOT be from observation, since what IS constitutes an entirely different domain from what OUGHT to be. It cannot be from analysis of any kind in that direction. It might be from an inspiration of your spirit, but then we must ask in all propriety, before your legislation hits the tarmac of truth and is obligatory for all 'right-thinking' people, what was the SOURCE of this inspiration ?
If it was ANYTHING to do with yourself as the medium, we do not find the grounds for the authority of elevating you to the hierarchy of holiness so that you can legislate by your own perception; there are other perceptions from other members of our race. If you say, It would help us to survive better, that is not moral. That is merely instrumental. It might be right or wrong, but unless you knew all, you could not tell that. Then, moreover, the question of the morality or otherwise of selecting survival as a goal arises. It may be a subordinate question, as in the physical life of Jesus Christ, where it was infinitely, deliberately, and predictedly MOST subordinate. That is merely begging the question, then.
If on the other hand, you have some religious experience, existential uplift or whatever, then we must again ask, Is it merely from yourself ? If so, as before. Is it however from a spiritual source which possesses the ground plan of man, his purpose, his design, his place, and from this have you been gifted to read the result, which you now graciously depose for us to look at ? If so, we are bound, since many have such experiences, and they too are human, to ask what is the authority and certainty of your utterance, and how can we attest this source; for if the source is willing, doubtless his or its authority can be verified; but if unwilling, we are in a turmoil of contradiction already, and can leave such fights to their own domain.
In short, to be led means either presumption in ignoring the due source and recourse and designer and maker of man, failure in finding him, or HIS leading.
We have in SMR seen in detail, as often elsewhere, that God is, that His propositionalised presentation to man of His desires and design is in the Bible, that it is epitomised in exemplary form in Jesus Christ, who was in the most astounding way, actually God definitive, God declared, incarnation once only at one date only as prescribed in the Book, the Bible. All this is in the same work and we have often reviewed and rehearsed this; but now it is our desire to proceed from this to our next concerns in the area of being led.
What we have now seen is this: that unless it is from the verified, attested God our Maker, nothing is moral. Now do not misunderstand: it may be MEANT to be moral, or FELT to be moral, or TAKEN AS moral; but it is misled. It may have approximation in some degree to what is divinely granted and so near the vein of the moral, indeed; but it is not in itself moral unless it is objectively what OUGHT to be, and this is the only ought which exists.
Nothing which happens CAN be the source of morals; only what is directive from the arena of creation, divinity, where to be beyond us, and over us, and to know us, and our purpose, is endemic, intrinsic; whereas for us, without God, it is extrinsic and in ourselves, we cannot attain.
All our moral efforts without Him are but reflections of the dual folly: unenlightened aspiration towards goodness, or righteousness, language to suit, and no basis whatever to differentiate it or meet its mandate or quality, like a ship's name without any vessel. Only the diffused deliverances of the spoiled image of God remain, giving any yen or acclaim to what is after all, otherwise merely what someone desires or someones want, in this or that respect, useless and impossible to propagate without that inherent readiness to receive, which likewise is the source of such awe and hymn-like worshipping as seem to occur in the soccer crowds, amongst such of them as do not die in the recurrent crushes.
The imprint of the maker is on the brick, whatever the subsequent flames, and however defaced. We however are not bricks but persons, so that the structure of language and yearning remain, even when the structure of faith has vanished. (Cf. The Other News 19, SMR pp. 582ff., 258ff.).
TO BE LED, then, requires our finding the source of obligation beyond power and human authority, which latter can be wicked and corrupt and constantly clashes in principle and practice, each one of various contestants, calling the other bad.
To have principles and standards, duties and obligations MORALLY, and not merely socially or economically, matters of convenience or presumption as the case may be, of feeling or hope, this requires God. To practise them requires His grace, presence and power. This Paul attests.
It also requires peace with Him, through the Cross as in Romans 8:1-2, 5:1-11, so that this power might flow as a river to the plains, and that as Jeremiah puts it, as pure water from icy sources to the needs of the soul. We find it in the negative in Jeremiah 2:13:
· "For My people
have committed two evils;
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water."
· Here the futile character of moral midgetry is considered, its temporary, temporising and impure constitution, its lifelessness. However in Jeremiah 18:14 we find this:
· "Will a man leave
the snow water of Lebanon,
Which comes from the rock of the field ?
Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters ?"
In this case, the source of the cleansing, refreshing, uplifting agency to the spirit of man is noted, and it is seen clean, comparable with snow waters, such as one finds from Mt Kosciusko in the lower reaches, blue and pure, cool and delightful, with the authentic taste from the authentic source. It is not from oneself. One is not for one's own part the snow of Lebanon. One is on the plain, and its abode is mountainous, aloft. So is the picture of the source of what is NOT ONLY or even SOLELY moral, for morality is the word of the living God, but spiritual in kind, directed in given pattern, available with delight to the thirsty and pure in the process.
Hence in Jeremiah likewise we find this:
· "O Jerusalem,
wash your heart from wickedness,
That you may be saved.
How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you ? ... (4:14)
My people are wise to do evil,
But to do good they have no knowledge" (4:22).
And why is this ?
· "For My people
They have not known Me.
They are silly children,
And they have no understanding..." (4:22).
· It is amusing to find the tradition of some, from liberal days, as if Jeremiah did not make it superabundantly clear, like an atomic bomb in Hiroshima declaiming American intransigence and whatever else, what was wrong or what was the nature of the 'problem' from on high!
· In fact, however, Jeremiah could not be clearer, so that this is one more testimony, if it were required, of the obfuscation of intransigence, when it is set against the word of God. Let us then perceive what is actually written in Jeremiah
· It is as he says repeatedly in essence, just this (2:35):
· "Yet you say,
'Because I am innocent,
Surely His anger shall turn from me.'
Behold, I will plead My case against you,
Because you say, 'I have not sinned.' "
That is why.
Here then we have already seen two causes, both in God's mistreatment by them. They lack understanding, their morals are wrong-headed, their consciences are distorted, they are self-congratulatory, they ignore reality, they turn from God to themselves and imagine morality, spirituality, what you may wish to call what they congratulate themselves upon, and are altogether such a noxious misrepresentation of reality, combined with self-esteem that it is an intolerable anguish of wreckage to behold.
And if more were wanted, it is to be found in such places as this:
· "Return O backsliding
Israel, says the LORD...
For I am merciful, says the LORD ...
Only acknowledge your iniquity,
That you have transgressed against the LORD your God..."
(from Jeremiah 3:12-13)
But how do you transgress, except against what is the standard ? But this too is explicit also:
· "How can you
say, 'We are wise,
And the law of the LORD is with us '?
Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood.
The wise men are ashamed,
They are dismayed and taken.
"Behold they have rejected the word of the LORD:
So what wisdom do they have?" (8:8-9).
But if you want more, concerning their wills, as well as concerning His word, their foolishness, their inflated self-normative wisdom, and their sleazy and conniving customs of misusing the word of the Lord as well, let us consider this:
· "But this people
has a defiant and rebellious heart:
They have revolted and departed.
They do not say in their heart,
'Let us now fear the LORD our God…’ …
Your iniquities have turned these things away,
And your sins have withheld good from you" - from 5:23-25.
There you have it, the law, the Lord, the way, the word, the rebellion, the diffusion of their own thoughts, the ingenious and disingenuous ways of seeking to rationalise rebellion.
But there are two more features of this approach which are both germane to our current purpose. Thus we find that they have a proclivity to listen to fraudulent substitutes for God, of whatever name, description or ascription:
· "And the LORD said to me, 'The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them nor spoken to them: they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart" (Jeremiah 14:14).
As if this were not enough, this proclivity, in ignoring the Lord, though not so much verbally as actually, they heed follies without authority, according to the whim, will, caprice, convenience of the moment; and then dignify this with some sort of religious significance ? no, actually, more than that, in this case, with being from the LORD! How far must deceit and depravity go before the people will listen to the realities, find again the word of the centuries, the work of the Lord, and HEED IT.
It does not change. It is; and it is not, and never has been, hard to find. It has no comparables; there is no other pedigree; and in our day, NOTHING ELSE meets all the requirements of scientific method, let alone with such a lustre of lordly super-competence as to make that seem what it is, almost child's play (cf. SMR pp. 931ff., 140ff., 830, 991ff., 1081, Ch. 10, TMR Ch.1).
The DISSEMINATION of the word, and the cost of making it effectual, when God became man to pay the price of sin on the Cross, that is the hard part. WE however neither did nor do have to do it; it is humility or realism in accepting, in receiving it which is to the point; and what it portends, the LORD HIMSELF!
Thus the love of God, in all this, either then or now, it is not lacking:
· "O Jerusalem,
wash your heart from wickedness,
That you may be saved... " (4:14); but consider this,
"Woe to you, O Jerusalem, will you not be made clean ? when shall it once be ?" (13:27).
· But do you wish a summary ? By all means:
· "Who is the wise man, that may understand this ? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD has spoken, that he may declare for what the land is perishing is burned up like a wilderness, so that none passes through it ?
“And the LORD
says, 'Because they have forsaken My law which set before them, and have
not obeyed My voice, neither walked in it; but have walked after the stubbornness
of their own heart..."
(from Jeremiah 9:12-14). Another rendering for 'stubbornness' is 'imagination'.
· They cling
to what THEY make, and
call it what you will, religious or irreligious, novel and new age or old and really desirable: it is all one.
· It is NOT the
and it is NOT what He requires,
and it is NOT moral,
· but a mere
medley of psychological, social, endemic and desired things,
vitamised but without vital spiritual vitamins, being profusely polluted, and with a sort of incandescent impudence,
· put into the
mouth of the LORD,
or, the Lord being dismissed -
· however not disbanded or demolished, despite the crucifixion, as attested in the resurrection and all the prior and subsequent power of His word and name -
· put into the
place of the Lord,
or this being dismissed,
· put into the vacuity in the heart where He should be.
· "Yes," declares Jeremiah from the so neglected LORD, "the stork in the heaven knows her appointed times; and the turtle and the swallow and the crane observe the time of their coming; but My people do not know the ordinance of the LORD" (Jeremiah 8:7).
HOW DOES THE LICENCE WORK ?
When however you have NOT insufferably congratulated yourself on your religion or religiosity; and NOT confused the Lord with the latest in low cost, self-esteem oriented butcheries of truth, which blow their trumpets as if they had a delayed contest with the Pharisees of Christ's day (Matthew 23 exposes them), to find the all-time championship for arrogance, disdain, and self-will, in religious modes, or in irreligious ones where the religious is so suppressed that its very name is omitted in the subjectivistic moral legislation which fills the spot in the forsaken heart where the Lord should be: what then ?
Then it is very interesting, intriguing and delightful. It is like all reality, a matter for study, for practice, for realisation and growth - that is, for man on this pilgrimage. "Not," says Paul, "that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind..." (from Philippians 3:12-15).
The WORD and the WORK of God is perfect; but what of us who have received Him (John 1:12) and so become children of God ?
What of those who have found in Him our Lord, and so follow His words (Luke 6:16, Matthew 5:178-20, John 12:48ff., 14:21-23, Matthew 23:8-10), and not those of someone else at the moral and the spiritual level ?
What of those who, likewise, recognising that these levels being those of the Commander in Chief of the whole Universe - an item which He in fact created (Colossians 1:15), so that He is the first born over it, though long since was it born, was His arrival within it - then they are sovereignly His, and His alone: what of these ?
These have to grow, to learn. You have a licence to grow, a fact we may consider more later, but have considered in the past, noting that being born again is the nursery, or midwifery; but there is the SCHOOL of CHRIST, where you grow UP INTO HIM, who is the HEAD (Ephesians 4:15). What does it say ?
¨ "but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body, for the edifying of itself in love."
In the matter of BEING LED, what then are some of the matters for growth, for effectiveness, for good discipline, for strength, in order to be "pleasing Him in all things" ? (Colossians 3:10). Indeed, let us expose the direction more fully, of this moral and spiritual dynamic: "that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power; for all patience and longsuffering with joy..." (Col. 3:10-11).
We shall at least postpone the latter part of this, till we consider the former part. The way you live has to be worthy of the Lord; it has to reflect the standards of His house, its purity, its fearlessness, its faith, its ruggedness in the face of all opposition, its gentleness in the face of all need, its forgiving spirit, its resolute deportment, its fruitful attention to production, and it has to be a way of living such that as you abide (cf. Questions and Answers ), you GROW.
Indeed, as you grow you are strengthened, and this not merely by an internal harmony and feeding, but by His Spirit; yet the power is not gross, but gracious, and you find patience is a power in you, for its end is clear, and you have a longsuffering as you go about shining in the light of the Lord, irradiated in your devotions, enabled in your work, so that even bearing things is a matter of joy. You know WHY you are doing it all, and both the end and the aim, the intrinsic nature of what you do and its results are all good.
Your morals in the Lord, are intricately interlocked, and exquisitely worked out, for it is HIS hands which made the stars (Psalm 8), and the mathematical processions and precisions associated with them, and indeed with your own brain and nervous system, these being almost trifles compared with your spirit and its liberties, and licences, both proper and improper, the dower of freedom, the result of being in the image of God.
Your morals are a spiritual consequence of knowing the Lord, a sort of hi-fibre consequence of abiding in His spiritual realities, in which the living dynamic and the lovely nature of God has issuance on earth in things of this sort.
They are laws delightful, because they have spiritual source. They are goods as goads, because they are pricked into the heart by the wonder of the Lord. They are like spray from high waterfalls, because the torrent is strong, like iridescence from the spray, like the sound of the waters: you love the falls, the water, so the results are lovable too, not done in mere automatic and arid desire, but wrought in love from the heart. Hence you must LOVE the LORD with all your heart and soul, mind and strength, and then the goodness of the Lord being present, you love it too. You believe in Him, so that His power is always sufficient for your need, and if at times, as Peter twice indicates, you have heavy trials (I Peter 1:6, 5:10-11), these the more establish you; and if it seems too much, then you have the escape-or-strengthen provision of I Corinthians 10:13, by which EITHER it is reduced, or YOU are increased!
You will notice in Romans 8:10-17, that there is a fascinating exposition of things spiritual, the power needed and supplied, the direction and the quality. Thus Paul declaims that if you are a Christian AT ALL (Romans 8:8-9), then you are not "in the flesh", that is, subject to the calls of mind, body and psyche, to do what comes naturally, as if it were your Lord. Further, you are in that case, "in the Spirit", which does NOT mean in some exalted state obliterating mind and duties, but DOES mean in the sway, power and presence of the Lord Himself, by this outpouring and presence and intimation of His being, sent to those who are His children (8:16-17) and heirs.
If then, as for ANY Christian whatsoever, Christ is in you by His Spirit (and as Christ fully exposes in His expression, the intimations of the deity, so the Spirit exposes the realities of Christ, not speaking for His own part, but as conveying and communicating Christ - John 16:7-13. Christ, then, being in you (as in John 6:51-54, Colossians 1:27): then "the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness".
But you may ask: WHAT, please, has this to do with GUIDANCE ? In response: Did you not notice in Romans 8:14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" ? The word ... LED! And in Romans 8:15, that it is the SPIRIT OF ADOPTION ? Did you imagine then that the adopted child of God would never be subject to, indeed privileged to find the presence of God in all the needs of life ? or that he or she would be treated like some vagabond!
Now let us resume. “Christ in you” - now do not complain about "Christ ? " "in you ?", for if you know Christ, you will rather be looking for vocabulary with which to express it, this knowledge, this Christ in you, than querying what it means; as those who listen to music to not need to be told that the sound is distinctive, though indeed they may legitimately wish for more knowledge of its tonal qualities, melodic variations and thematic content.
“The body is dead” - is simply metonymy for this: that the whole call and plausibility of natural forces, such as the physiological, the psychological, the social, the cultural and so forth, is not an object of art in the drawing room of your soul, is not a desideratum, far less a religion or religious entity, or composite one. It implies this, that GOD takes the place of the creation, as is just and seemly and fitting and orderly, in the soul of this CREATION=YOU.
It is thus you, the Christian, who having the specific imprint of the image of God in the very fact of being created, now have the linkage appropriate, lively and working. The case then resembles that of a car in which someone did not know the air-conditioning was so much as there; but when it was at last duly serviced, he simply turned it on, like a car in which someone did not know the air-conditioning was so.
You cannot, of course, lest the imagery mislead, be said to 'turn God on', but you can use the facility of the Spirit of Christ in you, and He can use you, to communicate in such ways as He pleases, with Him, and He does as He will, in reciprocity.
That is prayer. But if you are in some way led, how could it be ?
It could be a vision; there is no legislation for it or against it, except to avoid impressions of angels and of new doctrine! (Colossians 2:18ff., Rev. 22:18ff., Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1). The age of the master builders is past (I Corinthians 3:9-10, Ephesians 2:19-20), and the foundation is laid, the building HAS BEEN BUILT, as there written, and we are the stones (cf. I Peter 2:5ff.).
It could be in an impression, it could be in the impact of the word of God as you read it, applying itself to the case, in your knowledge of the same, in your researches in the same, in circumstances which God may invent to help you find His will and way, in friendly counsel alerting you to the things of God: but IN THE END it comes THROUGH YOUR FAITH, BY HIS FAVOUR, in answer to believing prayer (James 1:3-8). Again you may ask ... "faith ?" But if this is unclear, it is presumably because you have omitted to believe, since faith, whether in a mother or father or friend, is not so notable and abstruse a thing as to cause trouble. You trust or do not; and with God, you trust (as is apt and fitting and appropriate to your Creator and Redeemer), absolutely and entirely.
Indeed, "Trust in the
LORD with all your heart,
And lean not to your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths" - Proverbs 3:5-6.
Philip, the deacon, was led by the Spirit to go into the desert in the very midst of a most 'successful' or effective spiritual campaign in the Gospel; and when he got there, he met an Ethiopian eunuch at that very time, reading from the prophet Isaiah, at that very place in Isaiah 53 which REQUIRED his being instructed for understanding. Called and having come, Philip duly did this, confirmed that it led to faith, and baptised him who was not beforehand baptised; so that the gospel could go to Ethiopia. No amount of research could have revealed this need; and the Lord LED him, and then led him away (Acts 8:26-40).
One always remembers a poor theological student who seemed to laugh at the way in which Philip was carried away on this mission, as if to ridicule the language of such absolute direction; but alas one says 'poor' since this man became crippled not too long afterwards. There is nothing we can do to LIMIT the Holy One of Israel, with wisdom, for any of the ways in which He may choose to guide His people (Psalm 78:41):
"Yes, again and
again they tempted God,
And limited the Holy One of Israel."
There is no WORD in the Bible to SAY or STATE in principle that such guidance will STOP. There is no word to promise that it will come IN THAT WAY, either. It is an example for our instruction in righteousness, and neither for the presumption of disbelief, nor that of making it a law that it is an 'inner voice' or any such thing. God guides HOW He will. It is His affair; it is for us to have the faith in His fatherly power and love, His redeeming effectuality so that SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER YOU (Romans 6:1ff.), and far less will you sin that grace may abound!
SIN is the enemy of life; and the devil merely its exponent. It is to be avoided. If it is not, then any amount of grace can be defiled, and the good turned to evil, and good things withheld, just as Jeremiah stated and we saw earlier, because of it. The children of God are not so disenabled, through His gracious workings (I John 3:9), not making sin their practice of life (nor any false conception of anything like perfection, measured in Christ, their self-acclaim!).
It is necessary to be OPEN to guidance, but CLOSED to presumption: on the one hand and upon the other. God will guide us, who are His in Christ; we can be sure of that. If we are willing and redeemed, then as adopted children we are guaranteed His Fatherly love and mercy and lovingkindness, and competence and sufficiency in all things (I Cor. 10:13, II Peter 1, II Cor. 3:5, Psalm 145:8-18, 86:7-11, 94:12ff., 68:19-22, 69:31-33, 68:28-29, 97:11, 43:3, 143:10, 112:4). It is worthwhile in our current purpose, indeed, to examine the last four a little more, and some of the context:
1. "Light is sown for the righteous,
And gladness for
the upright in heart"
(Psalm 97:11cf. John 16:22, I Peter 1:7-8).
Thus there is a providential presentation of the light which is needed to walk in a world so dark in so many crevices, crevasses and torments of evil. So does the Lord provide.
"Oh, send out your light
and Your truth!
Let them lead me:
Let them bring me to Your holy hill,
And to your tabernacle.
Then will I go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy..." (Psalm 43:3).
This reminds us of two things. Firstly, we must both SEEK and EXPECT the divine guidance into truth and righteousness, whatever it takes; and secondly, there is a congregation of His people, with whom fellowship and conversation are good, in the midst of which there is much blessing, as in love His work is wrought (cf. Malachi 3:16-18). We do not confuse them with the Lord; nor with strangers. They are brethren in the faith, and how good is unity in their midst (Psalm 133), and what wonderful guidance can there come in matters relating to the body as one whole.
This is illustrated in Acts 13:1-3, in which case Paul for one, was chosen as a missionary! Note too the glorious harmony in the very midst of affliction shown in Acts 4:23ff., just as the apostles were being subjected to repetitive official persecution, and were being required to be BOLD and CLEAR in the faith, in a way so diverse from so much that is now found, in the great apostasy (as in II Thess. and compare Answers to Questions), that it is a delight to read of it, almost like rain in drought.
“Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me into the land of uprightness” (Psalm 143:10).
Here is the yearning for the tang of truth, the relish of righteousness, based on the love of the Lord whose are these things, and who is liberal with them to the heart, conscience and life of His people. Here is a leading which is a brace and support for much more!
"Unto the upright there
arises light in darkness:
Gracious, and full of compassion and righteous..." (Psalm 112:4).
Here the relationship between the MORAL and the GUIDANCE is clearly close!
That brings us back to precisely that relationship in Romans 8:10-14, where the elimination of the sovereignty (not existence) of sin in the life is in the same swathe as the presence of being led by the Spirit, and further, led in a way which is TOWARDS righteousness. MANY things happen WITHIN the righteous walk, as when Abraham's servant, BY FAITH, went out and found a bride in the place appointed by his master, in a way, again, past all prediction, and with the very writing or wiring if you like imagery, of the Lord upon or within it! How amazing that the young lady who came was both of the kin and of the heart needed! (Genesis 24).
Does someone laugh at that ? That is then because of a lack of faith. WHEN you know your heavenly Father as such, it is nearer, except for pity and courtesy, to a laughing matter when someone does NOT believe that hard or easy, the PLAN and the way will be given, that light WILL arise for His children, even in darkness.
The fascinating thing here is this: that it is the faith which makes the heart ready to receive, and the very disinclination, be it one of mockery or mere mist, is its own reward. It has a tanker jet beside it, and laughs at the conception of transfer. So be it. It saves petrol, one is tempted to say: but in any case, if the heart is not ready, then the gift is of small use. It merely dribbles over the side of the unconnected plane, and is lost. So it is not perhaps given at all!
ASK and you will receive, SEEK and you will find, KNOCK and it will be opened to you. But make sure of one thing: that the hand that knocks is one of a child of God, who having entered by that authorised and divine gate (John 10:9), becomes one of the children!
THE LICENCE TO BE LED !
SO there IS a licence to be led. It starts with being led to the Lord; then in being led to receiving His pardon; and in being led to take His ransom, and in being ready to surrender to Him all things, as in Luke 14:27ff., for when God is concerned, there is first of all no one else; and only then does all fit back together.
It is amazingly close to the manner in which my CD writer was fitted into my now not so young computer. Effort was made, in vain, to get it to work. The agent could not, and it would not, and trouble if not torment ensued. At last, one was advised that he would have to remove all the contents of the hard disk, and give a virgin instalment, as he called it, for the CD writer, and only then could all the rest be re-fitted.
It was costly that, not so much in money but results. He seemed to find or give, or in any case be met with some foreign material, so that things had to be dumped, and some of the contents were lost. Fortunately none of these were crucial, so the Lord enabled and led. Many days (perhaps 14) passed before all was back in order. But then, after such an implantation, how WONDERFULLY well the CD writer has worked, often causing one to marvel in gratitude for so efficient, hard-working and unobtrusive a piece of equipment, which scarcely seems to know how to err!
THAT is a parable if you like! How well and wisely it goes if you are radical in faith and true in reception, as one must be, when in need of God! Therefore, get the installation of the word of God complete, of the ransom of God total, receive of the presence of God without apology to the world or to one's life, which, comparatively, one must HATE, in the sense that it has no compromises for its own dear sake! When you are so fitted out and received, how pleasant it is to KNOW the Lord, and to FIND in experience what He says in word; because, you see, the installation is not then fictional, far less fictitious, or meretricious: instead, it is actual.
THEN, as a child of God, as adopted, as sealed (Ephesians 1), and so according to Romans 8:29ff., as one elect and predestined (for you CANNOT be in the JUSTIFIED position, UNLESS first you were in the predestined one, as you see there in the internalised circuitry in Romans at that place), you act as one, are treated as one, and find the love of your heavenly Father. It is not without discipline (Hebrews 12:7ff.), and certainly not without awe (Hebrews 12:21ff., 28ff.); for God is not without glory, but is the very base and original of it all! Then the knowledge of God (John 17:3) is secure, spiritual and a thing of wisdom, and His wisdom, staggeringly as in James 1, He is willing to impart by faith.
It is not so much some MIGHTY WORK of faith which is required, but quite simply this, that in the reception of His salvation, you utterly trust Him.
If you do not trust God, you are it seems quite clear, not born!
HOW on earth would the unborn, then receive ANY guidance for the path to walk. They do not even have feet!
But rather as Hebrews again tells us, "make straight paths for your feet" (12:13), and make strong the "feeble knees" and being girded and engraced (Ephesians 1:6) by the Lord, proceed with all due deliberation. Then, with information from the word of God, and faith as the occasion presents, and the word of the Lord directs, the wisdom accorded enables, and the provisions show. You are led. Because God is there, so is the way.
For more detail on guidance, see A Question of Gifts,
Meanwhile, here is the licence in Romans 8:16, and here is the example in Acts 8:26ff., or in Acts 10:9ff., or in Acts 16:6ff., and here is one of our islands, where there is division from the mainland, and it is needful to avoid excesses.
NEITHER is it true that you CANNOT have such guidance as here is exemplified, for ALL scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness and edification (II Timothy 3:16); NOR is it true that you can EXPECT such forms of guidance, as if by divine right; NOR is it true that this was only for the mission field, then, or now if it is needy enough, or whatever other rationalisation culture or tradition may supply.
As to THAT, it is God's own affair. He is very deep; He understands these things. He does not need us to give HIM guidance on what type of guidance is fitting for His church. Pastors and elders do not NEED to instruct the most high on the preferabilities pastorally, and on the dangers of vulnerable and misguided souls replacing stern study of the scriptures for light and frothy imaginations!
The truth is simple:
· HE will guide
in any way He wishes.
· He requires
study of His word.
· He requires
that we abide in His presence, removing sin with zeal, waiting and watching
for Him (cf. Psalm 42, 66:18).
· His church
may be of aid in the finding of His will.
· One is not
so limited in all cases by any means, and may have to seek correction
in the church.
· One should
beware of contrived imaginations, which are not the fruit of dutiful living,
sober self-discipline and Biblical principles.
· One should likewise beware of excluding Biblical examples, as evidence of what the LORD MIGHT see fit to do.
This is then, one more place where leaving extremes on both sides, either forgetting biblical principles, or bringing in new ones, one can find that beautiful unity, and return from the isles of isolative extremes. For other "islands" of this kind, to which return would well be made to the 'mainland' of Biblical moderation, following what it says, and not tradition or inflated and spurious misconceptions: see Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2 and News 124, Part II.
Your licence then, to be led, is as good as the word of God, and is as it shows; but the personal involvement, like that of a mechanic in a car, is not a mere principle (or even a wonderful one): it must be worked out with prayer and care, if need be with fasting as in Acts 13, but crucially, with faith. It should moreover be without trusting in your METHOD, but in your LORD, as you do it. As it is written, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," which may sound threatening, but it continues, "for it is God who works within you both to will and to do"! (Philippians 2:12-13).
He has foreknown all things, gropes in nothing, exposes all things in their triviality without Him, in their depth in His presence, in their pretence and in their purity, as they may be, knows motives, moves hearts, has friends who know to keep His commands as a duty of love, makes history a lecturing board, makes a mockery of mockers, makes the beauty of His holiness available to His people whom He foreknew, commands deliverance, leads as He did Joseph and Mary with the babe TO Egypt (of all places at that time), and then from it.
He treats His children AS such; and those who play the man need to know this, that ‘the man’ is to be a CHILD before God, not so self-possessed as to be exclusive of any wisdom, any power, any deliverance which is not his own, and hence merely an empty pretence to belonging to the family of God.
In other words, when saved by grace through faith, we gain the adoption; when adopted, we live the life. It may be strenuous, but not galling (Matthew 11:27ff.); it may be testing (I Peter 1, 4), but not too much (I Cor. 10:13); it will be an abundance of grace, of power and of guidance as required.
Sometimes the Lord might test our loyalty, or our love, in NOT giving a guidance where it should have been obvious to love what to do; but on another occasion He may intervene in ways spectacular, and the false conclusion could come, this is the way God acts for ME! It is not so. It is just that on that occasion He CHOSE to act that way, as best for you and proper for the case. He has known it all from the beginning and shows it to the end, when complete, the Tower of the Flock shines as burnished gold.
There is -
v no rule, but the gift of grace for the need,
v no exemplary reservoir but the Bible, and that which comes from its following,
v no Lord but the Lord of life, the Prince of it, who died to banish death, who sends His Spirit to renew, illuminate from His word, show His will and lead His people, chosen, known from the first, before our sort of time so much as existed, kept to the last;
v no fear but the fear of being ungodly,
v no lack for those who follow Him, for His abundance of grace in salvation is like His abundance of provision, for our growth in Him: it is all of one.
And He ? He is wonderful. Forget that and you have forgotten your ABC.
When you remember it, you can see the words forming! You are ready. He is always able, and indeed one finds just as Paul states it,
"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. Amen."
Truth is like that: it does not alter.
There is a beautiful restfulness about relying on the Lord, and being led by Him and for Him:
“As a beast goes down into the valley,
And the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people.”
This is the Christ who not merely has fulfilled prophecy with all the zeal of the truth, the authentic, the author and the authoritative, but fulfils in the persons of His people what HE IS! In HIM, is rest, for right is the Lord and His ways are godly, gracious and enlivening, never dark, always challenging, never forgetful.
Thus one fulfils again the prophecy concerning the Messiah in Isaiah 11:10:
“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse
Who shall stand as a banner to the people:
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.”
An arbour, a harbour, a place of resolution, rest and strength, He lacks nothing of compassion and knows us far better than we could know ourselves: the living God who leads His people like a flock (Psalm 77:20, John 10).
Moreover, just Paul advises to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us both to will and to do, he also in the very next chapter indicates the end of that matter, looking past the pilgrimage to its assured result according to that very will of God (as in Romans 8:29ff.):
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly await the Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself."