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Pantheism or Purity,
The glorious and absolute difference of God!
This is in the form of a letter,
rather personal, and
although it has been removed from the particular form of the original,
it should be understood that this is its source.
Minding Matter, A Matter of
Dispersing Contradictories and
Using Spirit to Discern the
Creator and Created,
Good and Evil,
the Constrained and the Free,
the Illimitable and the Delimited,
the Self-Defined and the Appointed,
the Absolute and the Derivative,
seeing what it is that we use when
we discuss things,
and finding with wings the destiny accorded.
The 'letter' that follows may differ from the original, as the purpose now differs, but it resembles it in much, as the purpose resembles in much, the original also.
Much of the background may be found in It Bubbles ... Ch. 9, with its internal references. See also Little Things Ch. 5 and with it, Repent or Perish Chs. 2 and 7, with Spiritual Refreshings Chs. 13 and 16.. Reason and revelation at this stage, alike are considered.
LOOKING AT DEITY, DIVERSITY AND DECLARATION
Thanks, then, for your note. Confessedly, it is entirely clear at all times what you wish to propound.
However, you seem to want to blur distinctions in some ways, and keep them in others. Let me come to particularities, in response then to your coverage.
Matter does not have the capacity to decide, purpose and therefore err. If you think otherwise, simply show it doing so. Since it does not, this is the nature of the definition in that respect.
We HAVE brains, and these are material (cf. SMR pp. 316Dff.). Magnetic tape HAS some song of an operatic singer perhaps, recorded on it digitally. The marks are material. What they represent is not. It is the work of fallible beings who can plan, purpose and fail. Matter does not do this. If you think otherwise, show it.
The tape is merely a manner of recording. It conveys by material means what is not material in kind; this is simply because it serves as a slave, a reliable slave which cannot do other than it is; and what it is, does not provide for thought, plan, decision, purpose and so error. Its work is represented, but not contained by the record. The actual work, performance, this went on with or without the record. It does not affect it: the recording is simply an option.
That is just a case of a man's art and artifice, for one thing, to convey it, being different from what it conveys, as a car is different from oneself. One is not a car or anything like it, because it conveys one, and an opera singer is nothing like the nature of a magnetic tape, because her voice can be coded into a reproducible form through matter.
Spirit is not matter: spirit decides, resolves, purposes, programs, errs and fails or succeeds. Matter merely does what it is. If you think otherwise, show it deciding, purposing, failing.
We are required to test all things (I Thessalonians 5). Test matter then, and this is its nature. What is tested shows what it is by what it does; and as it consistently shows, so it is.
Spirit is what God is as Christ declared in John 4. John 1:3 tells us that ALL things that are made are in a distinct category from Christ. He is not made. These things are temporal (to be removed – II Peter 3, Matthew 24:35); God is eternal (never moved, changed – Malachi 3:6, Zephaniah 3:5). Creation is at His will (Revelation 4:11), but not part of Him, in ANY sense. My books are not part of me IN ANY SENSE. They represent my thought, at one point, to the extent it is correctly put down. They are entirely disparate in kind from me; but record some of my functions to a degree. Even with me, they come or go, but I am not changed by this. The record was convenient. With God, the option does not transgress His power: NOTHING is too hard for the Lord. Means can be created at will, or destroyed. They are creation. He is God.
That is the nature of creation, in this world. When you move to the Creator, so that all made things are contradistinct from Him, obviously you move to a form of action which we cannot duplicate, though we may in some measure follow the concept in our own creations. God created the heaven and the earth, which of course is matter and design according to His purpose. He created time and space too, necessary ingredients constitutive in matter (Romans 8:38-39), that come or go.
In this totally diverse milieu, He created life, which is not matter, but is able to use matter. In this, He created man, who has spirit, which has contrary characteristics to those of matter, and excludes matter as a thing made, made to be what it is, programmed and performing on its created lines. However with man, there are limits to his liberty. One is the fact that his wisdom is circumscribed, another, his power, and a third his goodness: all are limited, delimited. If God helps him, then it is God's action, not man's that is the limit, so that if God be for us, WHO will be against us! (Romans 8). Infinity can act for the sake of finitude, but it is infinitely diverse.
There is no fusion at all, except confusion! IF man had not fallen, he would not need to be redeemed ? True. But if he had NOT fallen he would have continued to know God, as he did at the first, talking with Him, walking in His presence, communicating, exchanging thought in benignity, blessedness. There is no gain in falling. Eternal life was also in the garden, represented by the tree of life, to which man, having fallen was NOT to stretch forth his hand. He then needed redemption to have what was already there!
But falling as a part of development, what is it like ? It is like saying that if I had not hit a lamp-post, it would be a pity, since I got a much improved car from the wreckage at the cost to insurance. Man has eternal life (evidenced as available in the garden, but not then in point) through Christ, when he comes as a sinner, in repentance, and by faith receives the LORD’s Christ, not some other (Luke 2:26, II Corinthians 11), being thus adopted from enmity to acceptance by the Creator. But who is He who accepts ? It is He who is no part of creation, since it is made and He is not. If He were, He would have to be part of the things made, and hence to have made Himself before He was there, which is nonsense. It is to nothing less that one comes; it is to nothing other.
It is easy to say, I AM WHAT I AM, and in one sense everything is what it is. However when God said that this was His NAME, this was an absolute declaration, from everlasting to everlasting He is God. He is independent, illimitable and yet Himself. When Christ said, Before Abraham was, I am, and before the world was, He had glory with His Father (John 8:58, John 17), He is simply indicating that this world and He have nothing in common AS TO EXISTENCE. Ontologically, they are wholly diverse. HE MADE IT, it did not make Him. It depends wholly on Him (Hebrews 1:1-3); He does not depend AT ALL on it (Psalm 50:12, Psalm 115, 102, Isaiah 45:18-19, 44:24, Hebrews 11:1).
VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE ARE NOT ABSOLUTE,
BUT RELATE BOTH TO CREATION AND CREATOR
in different ways!
In the last reference above, you see that the visible things come from the invisible, just as in John 1, that the made things come from the unmade, the creation from the increate, creatures of time from the Creator in eternity. Indeed, in Hebrews 11, we learn that the things which are visible did not come from the naturally attested manifest style of thing at all (the verbs in the Greek are different, one broader than the other). They are divergent, diverse, wholly and impassably other, the each from the one, because the one was formed, formulated, constructed by the other, through His word. Word expresses you, does what you want. This did it. The initiation was not from something in our domain, but from His. The disjunction was more than visible-invisible. It was natural-supernatural, word-made and unmade.
God, the source of creation, was not of the type which we know; but of His own nature. Things proceeded not from the manifest and evidential expressions of our world, but from the invisible domain in itself, insusceptible to such material display of any kind; though of course He can ACT in creation, if He wishes, as in a vastly more elementary way, an author can correct his work. When, as with God's creation of man, that works MAKES the mistakes through misused liberty, then the correction can have a tutelary or even a judgmental character. Ultimately this led to the Cross, because of love, and justice, so that God might be just and the justifier of the one who believes in Christ (Romans 3:25-26).
From the domain invisible by nature, not having creation as an ingredient, source for it, not of it, came the Lord. What is that domain, which is deity, in contrast to our own?
Just as matter cannot change itself,
but keeps to what it is,
whereas God has no limits, and He being Who He Is, and what He would be,
does not change,
so material things wear out (Isaiah 51:6);
being embracive but not embraced,
limiting but not limited,
supervisory but not supervised.
What of things created then ?
He speaks, they exist;
He speaks, they do not exist.
He disposes; they are disposed;
He creates, they are created;
He sets limits, they receive them.
The difference between matter and the Spirit of God is NECESSITY for character, a GIVEN and RECEIVED nature, with creation; and one free from all things with the Creator. They are not in one system; created system in its entirety He has wrought. There is our system, and there is it systematiser. There is the creation, and there is above it all, over it all, God (Romans 9:5). For the former, there are limits and delimitations which do not alter themselves, invent themselves or show any concordance with such feats. All they can do, as in man's case, is defile the equipment, deny the reality, and suffer the consequences. It is like a typist in annoyance, using a hammer instead of fingers. She is free to do this; but not to avoid the evil consequences. It is not an option for the actual use of the machine... This is a distinctive for personal created beings, such as man.
Diversely, matter shows no thought, no purpose, but plan, and that imposed. God is filled with thought, with purpose, with plan, and that not imposed, except BY HIM on what is to be made. Man fails slowly, but he also purposes within limits, understands, purposes, proposes, hopes, fails, succeeds; and God disposes.
Whatever is in the creation, all of it, is neither God nor of a kind with God, whether it be the mind of man, or his spirit, or mere physical life, or matter, in elemental form or contrived into designs by the Creator. When God created the heavens and the earth, man’s spirit was not there at the first, but was created separately. It was neither the heavens nor the earth, nor of the dust, but given direct by God, as we read in Genesis 1, 3. Man’s spirit is neither the heavens nor the earth, then, but a specific facility wrought by God enabling fellowship with Himself, so that though it is not eternal, it can relate to Him who is.
If it moves as He leads, and receives His redemption from Him as He is (you receive HIM, not someone else), then it can become eternal in the FORWARD direction, in company and indeed companionship with Him. It cannot of course be eternal in a backward direction: for non-existence, before creation always makes an infinite difference.
These things you see in Genesis 3:7, Ecclesiastes 12:7, I Thessalonians 5:23. In so far as spirit is what links God, it is above matter, its mere instrument, just as mind is its implement (I Corinthians 14:15,19). The spirit, Proverbs declares, returns to God who gave it, the body to the dust; and this is pending the resurrection. As to that, I Cor. 15 shows that this is an explicit work of creation to the uttermost degree, in which, as in II Cor. 4-5:6, a heavenly tabernacle is prepared for God’s people, each one (cf. John 14:1ff.).
That is why JOY comes in the
MORNING! cf. Psalm 17).
The morning of eternity
receiving the temporal children, the adopted aliens, now reconciled, is a day
That however is then; and this is now. What is the relationship between the spirit, in God's image, and the flesh, contoured by sin, a design molested, a setting disturbed ?
Spirit and flesh accordingly, are counter-poised, and the spirit of man, illuminated by God’s own Spirit, strives against the normal desires of flesh, with all its material workings, ways and interface with what is physical (Galatians 5:16-25).
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
Flesh, spirit, sin, the Spirit of God, its fruit in spirit, and the travail of the latter in overcoming the derivative deviations of the flesh, with the purity that comes from reconciliation, habitation for the Spirit, and peace that is a concourse for power: these things are that interface*1 between the immutable God and the beautiful grace, and the disposable man, and his entire disgrace, in which the former overcomes the latter, being wholly untouched by it in His innermost Being (ontologically), even His death in the format of man, being that of One without sin (I Peter 2:22ff.), whose was all power.
Yet it was a power He declined to use except for the purpose of His mission (Matthew 26:53ff.); for God keeps all things distinct and in their place, creation from the Creator, sin from sanctity, test from results, glory from defilement.
There is design, and abuse of design; there is combination and perspective and point for these, in the unitary outcome; there are species of creation and there are species of disorder; there is ONE KIND of restoration however (Galatians 6:14, 1:6-9). No flesh can touch it. Such is the position before the Creator.
It is of the essence of creation that each category has its own kind, is not something else, is made, designed, emplaced, given order and power, place and due priority.
Nothing merges that is a distinctive class. Kinds are kept. Categories have their place. Plan accords significance and a day; things created have their day and pass to their Maker. With man, there is a parallel naturally enough, since man has a spirit which is in the image of God, though of course finite and not infinite, limited and not illimitable, with responsibility to Another, and not a case of I AM WHO I AM independence, lordship and sovereignty.
THE SIN MERGER SYSTEM
Sin makes for mergers, as of spirit under flesh (instead of flesh as a means for spirit), the physical over the spiritual (instead of the spiritual disposing of physical means for spiritual purposes, ultimately under the word and wisdom of God, who made it all for His own purposes, not for interaction as a form of decay, delirium or counter-creation licence, in any sense inherent in, or applicable to Himself!). I do not feel hurt, or have a textural wrench when a bit of paper goes to the bin. How much less does He who made ALL the ingredients of all things, and is possessed by, limited by, wrought by none! There is not even any comparison, or ground for comparison (Isaiah 46:5,9).
Analogies may be used; but the analogical is not the logical. The comparison in reality is NIL, the effort to construct a correlation NULL, the nature of God in relation to His creation in terms of its being is a ruined thought, a devastated concept. There is NOTHING He says, like Him.
Thus God the Creator makes for apt placement, due order, distinct responsibility, uses and conditions, this being the work of design. If then your washing machine has a lust to become a dish-washer, nothing is advanced, all is mere mockery of your design, need, purpose and plan.
Similarly, I am one author, but my books are very many. It would be ludicrous for me to consider (or worse, for the books to do so IF THEY COULD – they can’t since they are NOT in my image) a merger between books. Each has a plan, purpose, occupation, point, thrust, dynamic, topic; and while they CAN be related, that is profitable ONLY when their specific features are not immersed in relationship, but made profitable, like a train wheel with the track. They DO relate; but they do so profitably only when they relate AS made in the design proficiently accorded them.
Otherwise come chaos, loss of creation, confusion of characteristics, ruin of entries, de-specification of specificities.
NOTHING remotely like a merger is in view; if it were, NOTHING WOULD WORK.
In the case of man, he has matter, mind and spirit in a gloriously unique harmony. Sin has wrecked this. It is NO part of goodness that this is so, NO part of necessary or wise development. It is ABHORRENT to God, as it would be to you if your child smashed your car. If you get him out of court, and repair the car, only if you were yourself DEFECTIVE in spirit, would this perhaps help. If would not help the car. Its misuse would be wickedness. The world would suffer because of it. Breaking someone else’s made equipment is in NO sense good, unless the maker being evil, his works merited destruction, adverse to his creator, the demise of his engineering would be a reduction of loss.
God however did not create for vanity, for null point, for poor purpose: Isaiah 45:18ff.. The opposite comes in judgment on misuse as in Jeremiah 4:23ff.. In Him is no iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4); He is not at war with Himself, and in His own terms having made the creation, He is not against it, but against what defiles it.
As Paul puts it,
“Shall we then continue in sin, that grace may abound ? Certainly not” (Romans 6).
Again we find this,
“Why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’ ?
as we are slanderously reported,
as some affirm that we say.
"Their condemnation is just” (Romans 3).
Sin, such as in the Garden of Eden is SO distasteful to God that it led to expulsion, with protection of the garden from further entry. SIN is so abhorrent to the Almighty that you read His opinion of it in Psalm 14, of His wrath in Deuteronomy 3:24-26, so that even Moses, faced by this divine anger at his lapse, was not permitted to enter the promised land. Indeed, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness (Romans 1:17ff.), and it is vain to imagine that this is in any sense good, that it be aroused, or to so trade on His mercy as to consider that sin, ANY sin at ANY time for ANY reason, is other than an enemy of God, of His plans and of His holiness. It is paid for, certainly, and its wages are the affront to life known as death. When there is redemption, the wages are still paid, but Christ picks up the 'cheque', one death. It is revolting, a rush of revulsion, a clamour of contempt.
Thus it is an AFFRONT, and death is its declared result. There is nothing good about it. Categories do not merge. Good is not bad; God is not creation; creation is no part of God; it is not merely distinct, as my books are from me, but contradistinct, in this, that what HE IS in no way at any time or for any reason subject to change, or reproof, whereas creation is subject to arrival and departure, except where there is redemption or divine permission, which is contrary to nature, and demanding payment.
Nothing merges from its category into that assigned elsewhere, though they will work together in the appointed assemblages of potential and performance: all things that are made, HE made. He made them, each one for a purpose; and for the rest, He did not make Himself: as to God, if HE had done that, then before He did it, HE would not be there, so that NOTHING would ever be made, for none could be there to do it. However things were made.
God is Spirit, not commanded, not created, not imparting part of Himself to anything; man includes spirit, but created spirit, and the border is as easy to cross as that from the finite to the infinite, from the redeemable, to the Redeemer, from the temporal to the eternal, from the things started to the immutably extant, from the constructed to the increate. GOOD is as diverse from evil as is God’s will from its confrontation. Evil is as diverse from good as hell from heaven. It always was, and always will be, since God, He does not change (Malachi 3:6). Of purer eyes is He than to behold iniquity. It is trash. It is only because of love that He took it; but He broke it (Isaiah 25:8, Hosea 13:14), as one breaks a snake's back, in revulsion but with suitable action!
As Christ put it, A "Spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me to have" (Luke 24).
We have much to learn ? Yes, but not apart from God, if it is to be knowledge indeed. Not apart from His word; and reason, it merely conducts to that word (SMR Ch. 1), not to intersperse its findings with His speech, but to show the marvel that He has made, that even man's mind attests Him.
You cannot tele-psychiatrise God, to find His heart, though He can (and does cf. SMR Ch. 1) tell us. Without God indeed, there is no truth, for then it is all a matter of relationships, interactions, limits and delimitation on the part of the assessors, who do not even know themselves (cf. II Corinthians 10:12). Without HIS revelation of the truth, there is no truth AVAILABLE, for the same reason. If there were any merger of this, His speech in definitive revelation, and man's thought: equally that would be hopeless, for the intrusion and insertion would invalidate the conditions necessary for truth, adding unpredictably, subtracting, being blind and the like.
Man is humbled in many things, as in this, that his is an inability to declare the nature of truth (and hence to declare that we do not know it, for example, since that would be truth, absolute and assured), leading to self-contradiction; or else, he must find God, who has revealed the truth in His own signed way!
It is truth and consistency, or it is chaotic irrationality. How great is our God, who illumines all things with light, if it is only sought, and leaves in impenetrable darkness what ignores His revelation! (Romans 11:33).
THE REVELATION IS INTIMATE WITH REASON, BUT FAR TRANSCENDS IT,
JUST AS GOD'S GOODNESS IS UNIQUE, IMPERVIOUS TO CORRUPTION
He, as Paul affirms in I Timothy 6:15-16, alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, to whom be honour and everlasting power. That is the difference. That is as far as it is possible to go from being part of something. You are not only not a part of it, have no place in it, but cannot even be approached by that thing, in this case the universe and all in it. It is well that He has made a way, so that man may come, not from his sinful, created estate like a spectator or visitor to God (scenic tours, laboratory inspections) but BY INVITATION so that through divine power, and divine incarnation, a way is available by grace, through power for those who come in truth, repentant, redeemed and received.
What then of the Spirit, of God in the form of God ? Spirit: Spirit is invisible to colour considerations, to length, to breadth, to ALL the ingredients of matter, in principle and in practice (cf. SMR pp. 80). Neither space nor time can confine it, these being part of the creation which is NOT GOD (as in Deuteronomy 32, Genesis 1, Colossians 1). Space and time, and hence matter, not God, being creations, are the work of a platform which is to be removed (Isaiah 51:6), just ageing, just a thing. It does of course now include man, who goes to his destiny as appointed, whichever it should be.\
Spirit: it moves in imagination, it surveys in thought, it constructs worlds in idea, far removed from material displays. Space and time are mere options. With God, Himself, heaven and earth can come and go, and He, Spirit (John 4:14), remains the same (Psalm 102), unchanged to the smallest degree, with no ontological point of contact.
What is not, in its own nature, participant and ingredient in the heavens and in the earth ? It is God. He was before it, is and continues the same after it passes away, like an old garment (Isaiah 51:6), dismissed, a throw-away, not integrally related in any way at all, just tossed off, with no rending, no loss, a nothing.
What is not made ? It is God. Is
not matter found by nature in the heaven and in the earth, and made ?
It is not God therefore. The heaven and the earth is the thing that He made, indeed created, needing not instrument lying about. He simply spoke. He is before it, all of it, any of it; He is after it; He speaks, it comes, He speaks, it goes. The distinction is absolute, to the point of infinity.
Is man’s spirit found in the heaven and in the earth ?
It is not God therefore. It is wholly other than He, in its being. Indeed He made it separately (Genesis 2:7), after the heaven and the earth, to be in it, but different from it. It is part however of the day of creation (Genesis 2:1). Like Him, it is not material, not dust that returns to the ground (Ecclesiastes 12:7). There is a derivative parallel, but not a participation. Unlike God, it is a made spirit; for He made it. It lacks His power, His eternity, His purity as it is; it lacks His creative omnipotence, His authority, His eternity; but it is capable, when He so redeems it, of knowing Him, spirit to Spirit. But does he ?
Is sin found in man (Romans 5:1-12) ? It is not good therefore, since God condemns it.
Does then God condemn what is good ? Does He bring death for what is a good thing ? What justice is that ? Does evil, when met, paid for and the soul that sinned, redeemed, become good because God paid! Is the suffering of Christ on the Cross to become a good result of man’s sin, because it cost so much ?
Is a billionaire who has to spend all he has to rescue his son, to be told it was on the whole good, then ? He would not agree. Happy to pay the pain, he is not happy to diffuse reality, and make evil good! Woe to those who call evil good and good evil! the Lord says (Isaiah 5:20), who put bitter for sweet and darkness for light!
Is Christ’s necessary agony, when He bore the sin which separates from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), to be conceived as really sound and good as a happening, so that sin was just a good way of getting wherever it is ? Scarcely. It was the way of rescuing from where man should not be! That would be to condemn God to suffering as a result of our misused liberties! It would be irresponsible, like some rich child despising what it cost his parents to deliver him from the results of his follies.
Folly is not wisdom; wisdom is not folly; sin is not good; God is not a fool. He does not approve of what is evil, commend sin, or use it as a means of good. HE does not do evil that good may come, even in plan (cf. Romans 3:8).
IF MAN decides to use the priceless gift of liberty so misuse it, to abuse it, that is foul play. It is to impose on God. It is to thieve the property, it is to kidnap, if you will, the creation (even if it be oneself). We do not need to philosophise about it, as if God’s use of our evils becomes a good thing because He can and does handle it! No, it is slanderous, Paul affirms, to assert he meant that the concept of doing evil that good may come, is acceptable. It deserves, says the apostle, condemnation.
Shall a man confront God and conceive it a nice way of necessary development ? Was even Moses’ (seemingly relatively slight) error in striking the rock without giving the glory to God, a development technique and really necessary ? Did not God then LIMIT and REDUCE the blessedness of Moses to the point he did not even enter the promised land (he remained with the Lord, but this was a subtraction of what Moses naturally greatly desired, of a culmination, a fulfilment).
Does not God say to David, when HE SINNED about Bath-Sheba, “I would have given you much more,” in indicting David for his sin.
“I have you
your master’s house … And if that had been too little,
you despoiled the commandment of the LORD to do evil in His sight ? …
David was told that he was forgiven, but “because of this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme.” Hence the child to be born would die?
This, it was good. David's REDUCTION was good ? David's loss of what God was willing to do for and with him in blessedness, peace and friendship, this was good ? God’s condemnation of David’s appalling act was wrong ? His punishment was wrong ?
The real issue is simply this. Is man to do evil that good may come ? The Bible as well as commonsense in terms of the dignity of God and His express COMMANDS, makes it clear that this is absolutely false. Did God then make a plan, requiring evil that good might come ? Not at all. That is to blame God for man’s misused freedom, and make Him a sinner by creating a breach of His own law.
Did man then sin in the first, of himself, abusing good, and so inheriting untold suffering ? Yes. Could it have been avoided ? Of course it could, for it is COMMANDED to be avoided.
Is God to be imagined as COMMANDING what He secretly wants ? Heaven forbid such a schizoid imagination. If His word is all powerful and He legislates something, that IS IT! Nothing limits, controls or frustrates Him, His word and deed an expression of who He is.
As Paul says, He cannot deny Himself (II Timothy 2:13). Since He is omnipotent, NOTHING anywhere can force Him to do anything, and being that I AM WHO I AM, He is neither two nor subject to some sort of constitutional failure. If He were, then HIS creator would have to be found, who so limited Him. On the contrary, as we read in Psalm 115, He does what He pleases, and is without iniquity (Deuteronomy 32).
It is therefore, in terms of His holiness, to realise that what He says, He means. He hates sin. He COMMANDS its absence. He PROVIDES for its being committed, but ONLY ON REPENTANCE, which is absolutely the opposite of some concept of its being all right anyway! You do not repent of good, but of evil, of what God approves, but of what He disapproves, of what He commands, but of what he proscribes. God does not prescribe sin, but repentance. He does not use what He abominates, or employ what He hates.
It is impossible to try to import into God man’s sin, man’s ways, man’s matter, man’s goodness*1. They are infinitely apart, and so far apart, that sin requires the Cross, matter requires destruction (II Peter 3, Matthew 24:35), and it will grow old as a garment (Isaiah 51:6) which science also teaches. The implement created being defiled, the rescue of the redeemed complete, the world itself and its works is blazingly destroyed, says Peter.
But God, He never grows old, never is defiled, never alters, never fails, never is constrained, never departs; and for that matter, never arrived. Eternity is the condition of creation; nothing is the beginning of nothing, and the end. We are not nothing.
As to God, His creations arrive, in the beginning, only for one reason. HE CREATED them. Before that, they were not there (Hebrews 11:1). After that, they were, contrary in type to Himself, for they HAD TO BE MADE to be there; and HE is there BECAUSE HE is not made.
IN ABSOLUTE BEGINNING FOR THE WHOLE UNIVERSE ,
STIMULATING, DELIGHTFUL, FILLED WITH LIGHT
There are diversities WITHIN the material creation, as when things have a new generation according to kind; and there are diversities BEYOND the material creation, which statedly HE MADE, and which HE WILL DESTROY, except for His own people. HE is not made according to KIND, for HE has no other kind which can exist from eternity, without constraint. HE is God and there is no other (Isaiah 45:21-22).
“All things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominion or principalities or powers.
All things were created through Him and for Him” – Colossians 1:16-17.
Visible and invisible things alike, being created, are for His use; and visibility is not the criterion, for our limited optics, but incapacity to be seen, whatever the optics. Manifestability in material form is one thing, as we saw in Hebrews 11; being beyond all such criteria is another. The latter made the former. Taht ias its source, so that it has a course. The source continues with or without the course of its creation. It despatches it into existence; sends it out of existence, at will.
There is that distinction between ALL things and SOME things. In having a child, SOME THINGS are created, distinct from the parents, yet with some distinct resemblances, and the resemblance in particular of KIND.
What then ? With God, there is NO KIND, only ONE, and there is no other. What is NOT GOD, is creation. In this, there is kind, and there is continuity, of kind and BY kind; and there is a certain complementarity, as of the one and the child. With God, there is NO continuity of kind or by kind, for what He is, He remains, from everlasting to everlasting, and His ways are the same, they do not change.
The entire scope of creation is of a different kind altogether. Invisible creations (that is, to our eyes, or even indeed to our TYPE of ocular activity), you will observe, are just as much creations as seen in Colossians, as visible ones. The fact that the spiritual is invisible has nothing to do with the fact that some invisible things are created. The uncreated is invisible by nature and not susceptible to this type of investigation. We must not mix the categories or falsify the logic.
Invisible things are of two sorts: the created and the uncreated. The created type has all the control, plan, input and requisites of creation. The uncreated ? It is in fact ONLY ONE BEING, who is personal. It has NONE of the requisites of creation, whether visible or invisible, that is: it has neither imposed plan, nor starting point, nor liberty to be what it is not, if it wanted to be. It is CONSTRAINED. God determines for His part what He shall be, and finding what He desires, IS IT. We find what we are given, and ARE IT.
That is the profound and unavoidable reality, of which the constrained, controlled area of matter is merely one example. Things were created THROUGH Christ and for Him: not OF HIM! If creation departs, NOTHING of God departs. In fact, the opposite is emphatically affirmed:
“They will perish, but You will endure. Yes, they will all grow old like a garment, like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But YOU are the same.”
In sum: Creation comes, creation goes, God is unchanged. NOTHING of Him is in the creation as part of it. It is distinct. It is contradistinct. There is no merging. There is INFINITE difference, since He makes, it is made and none made Him. It is made in its form, in its formulae, in its fashion, in its fashioning, in its dispositions, in its dynamic, in its decline, in its judgment: it is all as made. He is not fashioned, not judged, not constrained, not construable or comprehensible in creation's terms: and wholly disparate. They were created for His will, and by it exist. They rely on His will for the tenure of existence; He is by nature eternal. These courses never meet in nature; only by will.
Thus the reference to Adam, atoms, protons, and the like, has no bearing whatsoever on God, except in this in the negative, that it was not OUT OF Himself that created things were fashioned (that is nowhere in the Bible but wholly contrary to it, as in Hebrews 11:1, Isaiah 44-46), as if He erred in all His contradictions of such a confusion of infinite Creator with finite creation, the one insusceptible to material methods, the other susceptible. He made it, He declares, by SPEECH.
He worked. It arrived, this universe. He does not wince if it is destroyed, suffer change if it changes. It is wholly unrelated; as is evil. The concept that evil is there and God is there, and sin comes along is likewise wholly unbiblical, as also irrational. Evil and good in one system, eyeing each other, require the Maker of the system and its provisions for such action. God is good and in Him is no iniquity, shadow of turning, relationship to what moves in space at all: space He made. He does not need it. He lived without it.
THE CREATOR AND THE EVIL
Your universally mature beings are alas a myth. Maturity may be of evil as well as good, and in no way provides omniscience. A mature frog is still frog; and so with man or woman. Destruction is always in the Bible a matter of EVIL's due, and this is in focus to the uttermost for example in Jude. Wages are PAID, and death is the come-uppance of sin. Evil is something God's eyes are purer than so much as to behold. It was not around; it is by nature a usurpation of liberty, a realm in which sin is the entrance door, and judgment the exit. God creates desolation, indeed (Isaiah 45:7), reproof and the destruction which it often receives. Man creates garbage dumps too. There is nothing abstruse or strange about that. Doing evil that good may come is a principle that is condemned; and God who is light - in Him there is no darkness at all - is the criterion of goodness, source and beginning, and that, endless in nature. Evil confronts Him; sin is the mode of it, destruction, where redemption does not occur, its end. It is a trivial and stupid thing.
As to the fool who says in his heart, There is no God: if you say in your heart of a boy friend, NO FRIEND, it is simply a denial of such a thing as being in existence. What is NOT GOD, however is a category, and it means all other than He. The fool says that all of it is thus, hence not God, mere negation of that category (as he in folly might understand it). It is being pre-occupied with this "not God" as the Bible puts it, which is a decisive danger, and peril from the wily one. Giving place to this in terms of God is expressly condemned (Deuteronomy 32:21), and of course, for it invades God with His creation, as if a piece of paper aspired to get into my thoughts, because I used it for something. They provoked God, says Deuteronomy, by their attention to what is NOT GOD. The two are far more distant than East and West: they go in opposite directions. God is of a different realm!
God is love indeed, but this is far more than relationships, and series. Love bears all things, believes all things (I Cor. 13) and one of the things which it believes is this, that we see now dimly, then face to face; and another, it is this, that the deep things He HAS revealed (I Corinthians 2:9-13). We know God now (if His), and will know with admirable clarity in all points then, as when one turns from a photograph to the reality; yet even now, the Christian knows His word, His will.
Knows His will ? Certainly, you have only to ask in faith for wisdom, with willing and regenerated heart, created by that Creator who relies on NOTHING in creation, which is His mere product. Imagine the horror in the mind of a car manufacturer if you thought part of him was in the car. It would be worse than demeaning: it would be a collapse of comprehension.
You must comprehend Him with whom you have to do, to have effectual dealings (Jeremiah 9:23ff.). Knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent IS eternal life. You do not fail to know what you HAVE! Having Him, knowing Him, you trust Him, trust in His word, believe in His promises, and do not imperil your own soul by changing Him into something in any way allied to His creation, not OUT OF Himself, but BY it, as is normal in creation; and is far more complete with God than with man, where even so, it is categorical.
LOVE AND MATURITY - AND THE PLACE OF EVIL
In other words, our 'maturity' is nothing by itself, mere usurpation by imaginary autonomy. IT is not to be trusted in AT ALL. That is just one more HAS GOD SAID ? of Satan. HE says that the world by wisdom failed to know God. The word to trust is His, plus nothing. Think ? Of course, Give a reason for the faith ? I have in His leading, written 69 books on it; for reason is from Him, the creation is from Him, the two match perfectly as nothing else matches reason. But in the thinking, remember this, which the apostle did, "Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." And what is with this in II Corinthians 10:5 ? "Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God...."
That is the tenor of it. With God there is no competition since nothing is nearer in power or wisdom, than infinitely far, except what is HIS. Some things are nearer; but when infinity is concerned, you know Him or you do not. Your thoughts may in some things (as from the Greeks on) do justice to truth, in others foul things up, but until you have it right, you do not have God, only thoughts. When you find Him, the key of all knowledge is there, for truth is light, and nothing can overturn it. That is WHY, in the power of the Spirit of God, Paul could cast down all imaginations, bringing every thought into captivity to the TRUTH, which is Christ Jesus the Lord.
Love then ? It is the partner of truth, the action in liberty.
It must be imbued with the truth (love rejoices in the truth, more than relationship - for they are one in one God); and in truth, it does rely in a mutual affinity of infinite depth. The truth is the word of God (John 17:17), and love is never divorced from this, the acme of authority, and the plane of perspective. Love reduces nothing, confuses nothing, simply takes the word of God as given, and in so doing keeping it, finds the exquisite mutuality between the Christian and his/her God, which is a matter of eternity and substance, reality and actuality. The relationship is a gift; God precedes it.
What then ? God creates evil as man creates sin. God loves man and is willing to provide, and being all powerful and knowing the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46) has provided (on time - Highway of Holiness Ch. 6). In bearing the evil, He prosecutes the good to bring it to His people; and caring to bear the evil, He met justice, for evil is the reward of sin, even death. In effectually cancelling the evil in abundant payment, a ransom (Matthew 20:28 cf. Galatians 3), He has shown His love, truth and justice in one. In bringing a peace past all understanding in the resultant for the believer, He has shown the beauty of peace in the ONLY GOD, available to His creation when it worships Him in spirit and in truth.
There is no problem, except for those who love or want to excuse evil, or feel it strange that God throws away blotted paper, when the liquid paper is declined.
On the other hand, you can see how your thought of having everything up in the air and never settling is precisely what happens when dust is stirred. The dust of the thoughts of man is like that; it never settles. Only in the Lord is rest (Matthew 11::28ff.), and it is GIVEN, which means it must be RECEIVED, which is what happens when one comes to God as He is, and not to thought in His place.
Only His word is consistent internally and covering adequately all that is, satisfying reason, but not dependent on it; and such has been shown in the set referred to above, In Praise of Christ Jesus, and in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock and in That Magnificent Rock in particular. It CAN be shown because it is true, God is true, He has spoken, His word stands, nothing can match it in consistency, in reason, in revelation, in performance, in accuracy, in practicality such as sending the Saviour to be seen as well as to serve as a ransom. This, it is to be expected, not that He would so love, but so loving, His word would be so contradistinct, just as He is as Creator from the creation, from all 'competitors'.
What then ? It is, after all, His speech, seven times refined (Psalm 12:6-8), and to all generations. That is why it lasts. It is His. It is truth; science is up in the air with continually competing theories, confused by continually invasive unscientific philosophic nostrums, contrary to science, like unethical directors. It changes, if not as fast as an alternating current, yet on such a model. Give it ten years, and much is wrong; give it fifty, and much is ludicrous. Give God's word nearly 3 and one half millenia, and its acuity is still irrepressible, its accuracy unimpugnable. He does not change; it does not change. He tells from beyond all things, the things needed for those IN some of the things that He has made.
But without God, science (as it often is, it is only the wisdom of man) says this. It lasts a little. Then it says that. This is especially notorious when they move from the apparent realities before our eyes, and make imagination their boost, beginning and philosophy their mother.
Others, Christians with biblical prespective, among the scientists, often challenge these dissidents from scientific method, to return to facts; but their eyes are so blinded that the ridiculous becomes a substitute for reason, and imagination, in actual fact, not observation, becomes for many and those who follow their confused ways, the determinant, despite all law and all reason. SO be it. That too is what God said of it, the way of man in HIS OWN wisdom (Romans 1:17ff.).
Evil ? This is one example, persistent, insistent and often domineering (look at the spectacle of some of the educational systems which explicitly indoctrinate in terms of preference without any boost from reason - cf. That Magnificent Rock, Ch. 8).
As to "evil" however, does not Malachi declare it in the name of the Lord, that the very idea of declaring that one who does evil is good, is not only noxious but obnoxious. What is the word detested by the Lord ? It is this: "Every one who does evil in the sight of the Lord is good, and He delights in them" - Malachi 2:17. Evil is CONTRARY to God, and HE DETESTS it, regards as extreme provocation any assertion linking Him and His ways with evil.
That said, it is simple to realise two things. HE WORKS and WHO CAN RESTRAIN IT (Isaiah 14:27, 43:13). If He detests evil, then it has no part in Him or in His blessing or purpose, but only as a measure of reprobation, detestation, overcoming and removal. All power and all hatred does not mean ANY existence to what He hates, in itself, for ever and ever. Why then IS there evil ? It is because, OUTSIDE HIMSELF, where by His power it CANNOT be, and because of freedom granted to some within his creation (initially man for example), there is a necessary pre-condition of love, which God is. If liberty (which God always has) is required for love, then man has need of it if he is to love. If however he misuses his liberty, defiles his equipment, does sorcery with philosophy on his mind, what then ? Then evil comes in its nature (misused confusion) and in its judgment (divine displeasure) according as the Divine Lord elects.
Evil, it is the consequence of hating what is good, both in being and ethics, and in deserved desolations and reproof: both senses of the term.
Since then the Lord seeks love for His people, and grants them freedom, He brings evil ("I create evil", Isaiah 45:7 or "calamity" as the NKJV renders it - that is, desolation, destruction, difficulty). It does not create itself. He creates darkness and peace, He forms light and creates calamity. His is the post to deal with abuse of reality, and in so doing, sin has its end of the road, final stop. There is evil to reproof, to reprimand, to remind, to judge, to warn and forewarn, and final to exhibit as a side-show the end of what dares to impugn God with its petty creation criterion, misapplied to the Infinite God.
Man creates sin by virtue of liberty; God creates the evil for the creation which so abuses itself, and so rebukes it; though in mercy, through love, He may delay for a time (as He did with Nineveh, and for some hundreds of years with the land of the Amorites - Genesis 15:16ff.). The LORD alone will be exalted Isaiah 2:9-11) when the evil of the thoughts of the heart of man (which went on continually before the flood, for example, Genesis 6, and occasioned the near removal of human life) are rebuked categorically; just any conception of its being in ANY way acceptable by Him is not only rejected, but rejected with appalled horror (Malachi 2). He did it with nations in Old Testament times (as with Egypt, Ezekiel 26-28, with Mt Seir, 34, 29-32, with Tyre), yes and He even rebuked Israel, giving Judah opportunity to return after exile, declaring
"Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel:
‘Thus you say, "If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and
we pine away in them, how can we then live?" Say to them: ‘As I
live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,
but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil
ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ "
Evil is what God would avoid for the people; sin is what makes it unavoidable except to mercy; salvation is what makes mercy surely applicable. Evil is not a 'problem' but a consequence of breach of good. God is co-operative with the converted heart in overcoming it, having paid for His own; but discipline is still possible as with King David, on the near side of ruin!
Evil as a sort of living room cat, around ? Not at all. God, almighty, harbours it not at all, detests it.
Man, not almighty, free but bound in sin, invites it and gets it far less than he deserves (Micah 7:19ff.), such is the pardoning delight of the Lord. But it is on hold, the final devastation until the full number of His people is complete (Revelation 6:11), and those whom He appointed before the world was (Ephesians 1:4), are completed.
Evil about in the realms of God ? It like having tar in the presence of purity, slime in the soul, evisceration in the midst of bowels being made. It is making ruin, to be located in the mind of the creative artist as he paints his painting; it is making devastation to be in the mind of the one who builds; it is taking the contrary to be in the mind of Him who has ALL things work together for good to those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose.
What more simple, more scriptural ? God creates man, with freedom; man falls into the idea of trying to make a sort of ethical continuum, with himself and God co-partners, or even colleagues, so that he with God would be 'us' (Genesis 3:5), they would constitute a pair. This is sin at the outset and you see its virulent character, no more conducive to spiritual health than Aids to the body! It lurks, it tears, it is irrational, it makes God to look as if weak, it puts a system there with God, and who made that ?
It is to deny the God of the Bible, and reason as well. It is to ask for 'evil' in the sense of confrontation from Him so confronted. It is a pitiful thing and a weary one, for it means that instead of the mercy of God, from His purity, one is in danger of finding His rebuke, so that false attributions of evil bring presence of the thing, and what is the good of that! It is necessary with God, to deal with the One who is, not ones who are not: that was the problem for centuries with Israel. Making your own god and following it, it is not only provocation to the Almighty, but it is a breach of mercy, asking for evil instead of finding good.
Such is the way where evil is seen not as a created thing for creation, but in some pretended guise which would even blasphemously assert it in the presence of God Himself, some system, some environment, as He were not the absolute Creator, but some stoodge stuck in the middle of things. Who made the system so complex, and who indeed! It is not God of whom such talk speaks. There is help there. For the help of God, deal with God, who is pitiful, merciful, profound, and whose heart is good with an effulgence of beauty and sacrifice as needed, for the people who trust in Him; and as to them, THEY will NEVER be ashamed.
Evil is the ethical result of negation of what is good; of the confrontation with the One who is good; it is the destructive result from the misuse of what is made good by the One who is good; it is the discipline for the abuse; it is the judgment mixed with or even replacing discipline when mercy is despised, and God is mocked. Avoid it as you leave a masked criminal in a car-park, when alone.
Let us however return to the illimitable, irresistible, analogically exempt God, to whom nothing may be compared, the source and criterion, whose word is both good and pure, whose judgments are just, who in condemning the evil ultimately brings to nothing that which is nothing worth. Let us look now in this light at man.
RESEMBLANCE AND REALITY
What then of man ? Is there some distinction here ? Yes, within creation, not beyond it.
Even if man resembles Him, in some things, when he follows Him: he is a being still infinitely different in power. It is different, as with parent and child, but far more: for in that, there is a SIMILARITY OF TYPE, in that both have equipment donated. With God, there is NO DONATION, nothing is given, nothing is arrival from some source, nothing is not under His control, including Himself. There is NOTHING in KIND similar between God and man, then. God is ONE, and man is ONE KIND, as created.
The similarities are not at all in kind, in matter or even in created spirit, for God’s spirit, being God, is NOT CREATED AT ALL. In God’s image, the case of man, to be sure, there is a similarity; but it is one wholly diverse from operations within KIND. NO KIND of comparison is available between infinity, and finitude; between unmade and made; between what makes something and the something that it makes. There may indeed be inputs which CREATE a created compatibility (as when one makes a type-writer, wholly diverse from one’s own spirit, but not from its formulations); and God has in fact created by input a created spiritual compatibility with man.
Sin disrupts this. It is an invasion of God’s equipment. He is willing to pay for its cover (the Old Testament term often used is "covering" in atonement), but only on HIS TERMS, which are unnegotiable, being His.
BREACH OF COMMAND IS CONFRONTATION WITH COMMANDER
NOT EUPHORIC DESTINY
It is always better not to sin, not to defy God, not to confront God, not to steal from God His own equipment and use it for your own desires, mentally, physically or spiritually. Enmity with God is the result (Ephesians 4:17-19), and this, it is no good at all if you value God. Only the devil is keen on that.
With colossal fortitude and favour, God, being willing to pay, has paid for those who receive Him, in His substitutionary sacrifice wrought on this earth by His eternal word (Micah 5:1-3); the Christ, but this payment is only for those who DO so receive Him (Romans 8:32), as you see also in Isaiah 53. Those whose sins He bears are precisely those whom HE HEALS! That is what is the concept written.
Absolution from the Absolute is a marvel; but it is not as good as absolute joy in Him, without sin. Offence is not as good as non-offence. Pleasing God always is not as good as pleasing Him from the start to the finish. All mankind, except the incarnate Christ, have sinned, however. What then ? God acted.
God is able to do His work without needing ANYTHING (Romans 11:33, Psalm 50:12,22-23, Isaiah 40:6-8, 13ff., Romans 11:34-35), far less the sin which is enmity with Himself, as He says. He is not limited to employing enemies to get His will (cf. Isaiah 30:1ff.). Things are wrought not by power not by might, but by HIS SPIRIT (Zechariah 4:6). He is entirely and wholly contradistinct from His creation (Isaiah 45:17, 2:11-12,17, Hebrews 1:11). When He sent His only begotten Son into the world as the Saviour, it was the Godhead which went, the format only be man, because it was for man (Hebrews 2).
As Hebrews 11:3 shows, things that appear, the whole domain of the apparent, what can appear, what is before us, the creation, did not proceed from itself. It came from another source. The created things, that which is not God, whether it be the visible, the material, the mental, or the spiritual, one and all of these came wholly from Him. They proceeded from His work of creation, for His purposes for creation, and proceed back to Him for review, judgment, whether for entire dissolution, as in the case of material things (Revelation 20:1ff., II Peter 3); or for remedy, as with His people in Christ; or for damnation, as for those who prefer themselves to truth, creation to Creator, thoughts to reality, machinery of their own wills and ideas, to the Gospel of God.
This preference cannot be sufficiently with any readiness condemned, as you see in Jude and in II Peter 2; and indeed, the Gospel, like everything else about God is distinct, contradistinct form the thoughts of man. Indeed, I Corinthians 1 laughs at the tinny, tiny presumption of philosophy, as does Colossians 2, the former noting that man by wisdom did not find God, and that God’s foolishness (being so loving) is wiser than man, and God’s weakness (in being in the format of one deemed a criminal and slain) is stronger than man (in his naturalism, self-worship, confusing the creation with the Creator, as Romans 1 so deeply denounces, especially in 1:21ff.).
What has been the way of this so
marvellous 'development' and maturity in man,
as shown in Romans 1 ?
They professed ‘wisdom’, He says, but became fools. They exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an entirely different thing, the whole category of creation. They merged, they mixed, they sought a unity that was not God, embracing with Him their own tired thoughts, tiresome ways and littleness of vision. It is not however God whom you may so embrace.
They changed, God says in Romans 1, the “truth of God for the lie”, “the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man.” The contradistinct, became the amenable, the wholly and gloriously, infinitely and by and from creation comprehensively diverse God, they sought to subdue into mere categories of thought, amid the creation.
In some companies, they are subjected at the Stock Exchange level to what is called “hostile take-over” bids. People try to buy up shares until there are so many in their control that they can do what they will by voting rights, with the company. Some seem disposed to do this with God. He has the name, they have the desire. It does not however mix. God being all-knowing, all-powerful and not in any way susceptible or submergible by man, his mere creation, is not susceptible to any take-over. To be sure, Satan tried it (Revelation 12), but naturally enough, it was not successful; and was rather silly.
God does not appreciate this sort of endeavour. In fact, as a result of such naturalism, or pantheism, such irrationality, such intrusive presumption, He “gave them up to uncleanness”, resulting in almost every form of evil imaginable, as listed in Romans 1:26-32. The evil ? God creates it justly for what has long asked for it. Ask and you will receive ? It is just mercy that He may wait a while before the receiving part in this case!
In the latter verses of Romans 1, the list of spiritual evils which befell those who toyed with the truth is impressive: it is seen in part in 1:31-32! It is traced back to confusion of the infinitely great God with any part of the infinitely lesser creation.
What then ? There is a very ‘natural’ process, in the chains of sin, which tends to seek to empty God of His entire diversity from every phase, facet and mould of creation; for in Him, there is no space or time, or past or present, or future or form or format, or combination, or continuation in all of it, for this is expressly creation, the limitation which is a contradiction of the illimitable, the result of being PUT in a system. Matter is space-time; God is not. That is that.
God constructed it, participating NOT AT ALL, merely making it by His power, His word, which executed His will and made what is exclusively, comprehensively NOT GOD. So does limitation arise; it came second, the illimitable first, and necessarily so, since system needs construction. In His everlasting domain, He makes what He will; and to matter and all the other limited things, He appoints a time and a place; as to man, via his material body; as to the thoughts of man, via judgment; as to the spirit of man, via destiny; and as evil, in hell.
GOD AND NOT GOD
Indeed, it was the lust for what is NOT GOD, and the confusion of this with the ONE who IS God, and the merger of things made, in this or that facet, in their minds and before them, in their hands, which brought God’s strong irony, decisive judgments and entire dissolution of the pride and power of Israel; and in fact, this was even predicted before it happened, as in Deuteronomy 32:21-28.
NOT GOD is it ? He indicates. Then He will mock them, just as they mock Him with their mergers, unifications, syntheses and intrusive manipulation of His name. Therefore, the Lord indicated in this prophecy, a nation which is scarcely worthy of thought, NOT A PEOPLE, will provoke Israel. If they do not value what IS GOD as infinitely diverse from what IS NOT GOD, then He will show that He will seem to value them as if they were NOT A PEOPLE. SO will they become the subject of horrid little peoples, arrogant and intrusive, humbling THEM! He said it; and then He did it; but in between, they asked for it, and again and again, over centuries.
God is patient; often misconstrued as weak. Children often make the same mistake in classes, and one remembers one 'teen-age student complaining that there had been considerable liberty, and then, sudden discipline. But of course: liberty is good, but if abused, then upon this being taken to the point of mere foolishness, there is discipline. Why seek evil ? That then, is by way of illustration, even at our own small level.
The point is practical here. It is important not to arouse the wrath of God. Those who know God, are careful to REJOICE WITH TREMBLING (Psalm 2 has this delicious phrase). Why ? in mere craven fear ? Not at all, for rather is it in that reverential, clean fear which is delight at the same time, so that you can “rejoice with trembling”. He is so wonderful that it is a fearful thing to be in His presence, ultimate, final, with totality everywhere, since He knows all, can do all He pleases, and nothing can restrain Him at all. Yet with this clean reverence, there is allied such a comradeship (cf. John 21 and Peter) that it is wholly delightful, and the more it is splendid and fearful with reverence, the more it is rapturous in joy (I Peter 1:8).
Such greatness needs no hands of man; but alas, when man moves into the constructive phase of conceiving God in some way which involves the creation in any regard whatsoever, as to His being in itself, then grief is predictable; for God is not a respecter of persons, and Israel is not alone is receiving the due result of such words. God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. The whole SOUL and BODY of man is diverse from his SPIRIT (I Thessalonians 5:23); and the spirit in a man can even dispense, not merely with body, but with MIND, in the sense that it can leave it alone (I Cor. 14:13ff.).
Prominent in the felicity that is spirit (or can and should be), what is to be found ? It is will, it is an energy of being parallel to, but infinitely below that of God, to whom the heavens and the earth relate in one way only: HE MADE them, HE CREATED them, they come, they go: there is no change with Him, no interface, no immersion, not even a sprinkle. It is a spiritual sort of energy, a personal one, a comprehending one, a aspiring one, one suitable for divine illumination, destiny in love. It can elect to labour for understanding, to dismiss all understanding, to be provocative, evocative, to singe its wings on folly, to fly in comfort, sitting in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).
When it is redeemed, then it has the Resident President of the Universe, beyond all things, over all things, then intimately moving in its midst, cleansing, keeping, empowering, enabling, infusing grace, occupying place as Lord, exhibiting the mercy of salvation and the tenderness of Shepherd. It is a magnificent thing, to have created a spirit for man! Let us use it with restraint, seeking only Him, only through His word, and walking in His Spirit who brings light (Ephesians 1:17ff.), and power as needed for all things of His will (Ephesians 1:19) on a vast scale!
How splendid is His majesty, fearful in praises, glorious in holiness, doing wonders (Exodus 15)! With what an exalted being does one have the merciful provision to relate, being found IN Him, because through redemption, being adopted. A child of God, what more could anyone want!
Without Him, nothing was made that was made. HE is the Maker, unmade, for the made is made BY Him and FOR Him. It is entirely diverse from Him, landing you in stark impossibility the moment you think differently, so that He has to be there to make Himself. If it is a made thing, HE made it (John 1:3). If it is not, It is HE.
The divide is absolute, impassable, precise, basic to all and any understanding. The Bible starts with it – He who is the Creator, made it all. It ends in Revelation, declaring in 4:11, that ALL things were made for His good pleasure: thus this includes the visible, invisible, cogitational, empirical, factual, imaginative, whatever. If it is not He, then it is infinitely less, and by Him comprehensively understood, created and instituted, existing at His pleasure, or ceasing to do so likewise. In such a setting, having promise of eternal life (Titus 1) is unspeakably magnificent; and it is kindness that He so acted (Titus 2) and in transforming power (Titus 3), granting eternal life by such marvellous means.
He is able to deploy resources to vanquish those enemies, even death in the end (I Corinthians 15:53ff.). God condemns sin, so it is condemned. It does not please God, so it is not for the best. It is overcome for those who receive the actions of His liberality, despite their impudence against Him; but ONLY with repentance not to be repented of, only according to His word, by His Gospel, through His grace, from Him as He is, and not another. How Paul lashes the lordly makers of another Gospel, another Jesus, another spirit! It is to put tar on lilies, lice on roses, Aids in nursery.
God is not mocked. He is not sinful. He does not use or approve of sin. He uses redemption to rid it. It is a plague, and its end is well described in Isaiah 14:16ff.. Its nature is correlative to everlasting contempt (Daniel 12). It is anti-God. There is no slightest difficulty in all of this. We are very familiar with it. We err; it is wrong; it costs; it may be rectified if there is love: it was erroneous; it was foolish. It is good that someone loves. When it is the race which falls, by the nature of the case, there is none who can help from within as such (Psalm 49:7). ONLY GOD can redeem (Psalm 49:15, Hosea 13:15), ONLY GOD is the Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11); and GOD is wrath with sin (Romans 1:17), not pleased with its cute capacity to develop.
It is, as shown from His word, HE who casts down pride, imaginations, philosophic pretension. In the end, it is well: dirt needs cleaning out. For the dirt, it is not nice; but then, IT is not nice, so out it goes. If man had been wise, it would never have come, so evil would never have come; but he was foolish. It came. He went. Christ came; and bore the evil, so that man, unless he prefers the darkness which in itself is condemnation, can be free.
He bore it for one ? yes for one. For two ? yes for two. For how many then ? FOR THOSE, says Isaiah, and one must repeat this succulent and essential fact, WHOM HE HEALS. Outside that, it is mere words. He worked to cover sin; He works to apply free salvation. It is done or not done. When it is done, the recipient is His, and loves Him (cursed, says Paul those who do not - I Cor. 16); and what does love do, according to that Great Loving Lord, Jesus Christ ? (John 14:21-23). Its desire is to His word; he who does not love Me, says He, does not keep My word. Of course: would you love Him, and hate His mouth, or slap it ?
IN THE SIN SPHERE
AND NEW CREATION, REDEMPTION AND REALITY
rebuilding Europe was costly, rebuilding man vastly more so
Sin, the obstetrics wing for evil ... It develops nothing but wrath. It is only in redemption, at enormous cost, that anything is developed, by a new creation (II Cor. 5:17ff.) which those who sinned must see as the vast wealth of God deployed in grace (Ephesians 2:8 – it is ALL of grace, not contrived plan). It is the Lord who therefore develops what was ruined, causing wrath, occasioning giant suffering from the Lord. He did it before time (Ephesians 1:4), even to the foreknowing of His own; He executed it in time on time, according to the date set centuries before for it; He then applies the merit to those who receive Him. It is His Spirit who then works in man (Philippians 2), at his redemption, to change and transmute him, after it, to change him from glory to glory (II Cor. 3:18).
The opportunity for this work of deliverance, remitting the sin, covering the evil, bearing the guilt, however, is horrendous in its scope, just as sin is horrid in its nature. It is to be despised in all its ways for ever, like those who linking to it, seeking in vain to contain it in some way. It is uncontainable, inexcusable, deserving of everlasting contempt.
Only God can meet the requirements of God, the just sentence on sin of God. It is humbling, but then how much, if one realises at the first that the Creator has made us as we make a book, but much more amazingly, formed from imagination, strength and power the fabric of the universe, its form, its features, its kinds whether atomic or cellular, its permissible combinations, after sin its curse, and after this, the cure for those WITHIN IT, who come to the Creator, supernatural but not supercilious, beyond all things and above them, but willing to humble Himself for those who would not, though they were but humble creations, humble themselves.
It is He who having created all things (Colossians 1:15), is the One preceding them, not only in time, but in terms of preceding time as we have it altogether, itself a creation (Romans 8:37-39), and hence all that is constitutive of creation; standing in role as creator to creation, eternal to temporal, not participant to partner. By Him, to the contrary, were created all things, as Paul declares in Colossians 1, visible, invisible, things in heaven, things on earth, powers, principalities, dynamics, what you will: if it is a created thing, HE DID IT: He wrought it, it was wrought, and never the twain, in Being, meet. Its qualities can be what they will, but if it is not eternal, it is not God. If it is in any way not eternal, it is not God, in its essential nature. What you create is not yourself; and when it comes to God, to be uncreated is the only option: if you create yourself before you arrive, you are indeed a delusion!
Upholding all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3), so that they do not slip into non-existence as an object created, He Himself remains the I AM WHO I AM, who changes not at all, neither by age, nor by power, nor does time have access to change Him, a mere creation of His own, nor is He liable to anything extraneous or internal, being without constraint, compulsion or compliance to anything.
Such is the Being who gave, who loved, who made freedom, who covered the price. The cost of His doing this is spiritual; as one said, the soul of His suffering was the suffering of His soul; but it was also physical, since man is given a body, and mental (Hebrews 5:7, Luke 22:44). Despised on behalf of those who are despicable, He endured for love, the cost of the supernatural governance of the natural, in particular, of man (cf. Colossians 1:19ff.).
What value is there in what God despises ? Certainly none to God. Is there value in touching an Aunt’s heart so that she gives you a million to pay for your debts ? Yes, but it is not good in any sense, and a responsible niece, nephew would not merely hate the sin, but grieve at the need for such a payment from the Aunt. Sin may be spectacular on occasion; it is scarcely a spectacle deserving respect.
There can, it is true, be no love without liberty; and liberty, to be sure, enables sin; but it does not require it. It is not necessary to debauch human nature, in order to develop it, or else it would be a poor creation, and one would become ‘wiser than God’ in one’s own estimation! HE called it good, and HE is good, needing nothing from man or creation, giving all, including its very being. No system requires anything of Him, nor does need indicate a created being: for He is increate. Giving only is His grace; whether it be life, eternal life, or when mercy is despised, everlasting contempt.
Accordingly, repentance can have no hand-holds on excuses as if God were in some plan of evil and payment, which is cute. What He loathes and condemns with fury, is no part of His authorship, and no part of His creation’s need. What the omnipotent loathes has no part in Him.
It is necessary then to repent of sin not only in one’s folly in its commitment, but in one’s folly in making necessary in God’s love, such a payment in such anguish as Christ exhibited and suffered. Sin has no part in goodness; matter has no part in God; spirit has no part in physical equipment, though it can use it; evil has no part in God, for He is without iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4, I John 1:5): "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." Man’s sin has no part in God’s good graces; what is despised has no part in eternal wisdom. It is despite all this that love for man, even for those still sinners (Romans 5:7-8), has borne the horror of helping, impassioned by undying love. Only its rejection is sufficient for its loss (John 3:19), and as to God, HE knows the heart, and being willing for all (Colossians 1:19ff.), loses none who may be won without defilement of their being in His image: He does not invade, but He DOES inveigh against sin (as in II Timothy 3:1-5, such a description of these last times!).
Indeed, God despises sin (in that its unredeemed fruit has everlasting contempt), and abominates that entirely when it asserts itself in His presence as if He had any part in it (as in Malachi 2:17). Indeed, in Zephaniah 1:12, we read this:
"And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil."
Shall WE sin that grace may abound ? asks Paul in horror. Shall GOD! Shall He provide for evil's presence, rather merely than that of liberty, so that grace may abound! Is goodness variable then ? Is He to be an object of horror who provides for sin as a method of getting something, and so legislates for it ? Is evil to be inducted ? Is God then to be called evil ? There is a god who is evil: it is the god of this world who deceives (II Corinthians 4). Beware then of confusion of plus and minus, good and evil, God and the devil. It is as simple as that.
The god of this world (cf. John 14:30) is to be avoided as a pustule of sin, and his philosophies with him.
GOD, says the prophet Habakkuk in Ch. 1, is of purer eyes than to look on iniquity. Once again, it is as simple as that. He does not regard it, but as an abhorrence, or use it, but as an enemy; and those who do regard it in His presence, are alienated from Him; but He is not alienated from Himself!
The rebuilding of Europe may indeed have given it more modern buildings; but to suggest it was a good thing for the suffering to occur, and for the USA to have to suffer financially in order to do this, it is to ignore the nature of suffering, of sin and of reclamation. It is better not to bash what God makes. It is better to use it. God does not provide for bashing. He provides wrath for it, and what rejects His account and diagnosis, He rejects, and His wrath abides on this, as His distaste from the first.
It is God, the Spirit, who remakes man; it is God whose mind is available to man only by permission, by covenant, by Gospel (I Cor. 1); it is God who is to be honoured and glorified, His creation in its parts according to design, able still to be confronted by Him, just as it affronts Hi. It is man who is able to be given His company and blessedness in joy unspeakable, when as a creation and not a god (cf. Psalm 82, Ezekiel 28:9), it receives Him. And how is it to receive Him: how else but as He is, infinitely above, beyond and the source of all creation, the same removable by a word from Him, while He is the same whether it comes or goes (Psalm 102).
Heaven and earth, says the Psalmist "will perish" (102, will "pass away" said Christ, Matthew 24:35); but God is not even touched. They come or go: nothing to it. It does not at all affect Him, entirely other, neither limited by, nor in, nor through this little creation of His: if He wishes to act, then He will, deeming it good. HE works, and who will restrain Him, or what! (Isaiah 14:27, 43:13). What is limited is not He; and what He became is in the format of a servant for a purpose, not His own FORM (Philippians 2).
It is finished (Hebrews 9:12-28) in its ransom; but He is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Absolutely nothing can contain, limit or enrol Him, encompass or control, engineer or contribute to Him, on whom all things depend, through whom and for whom and to whom are all things (Romans 11:33). Since they are through Him, they are not He; since they are to Him, they are not He; since they are for Him, they are not He. Letters are not addressees.
Even death could not hold Him (Acts 2:24).
Indeed, happen what will, He is entirely the SAME, no change, no difference, no impact, no relevance to His being whatsoever. Further, it is He who "works all things after the counsel of His own will" - Ephesians 1:11. Without His work, nothing works, and even evil, product of sin or punishment for it, could not lift up its head, if He in His wisdom giving liberty its opportunities, did not so enable. Such is what is written, and such is the nature of the Supernatural Creator.
Spirit, He is to he worshipped as He is, not in some way which corresponds to a god of the imagination (John 4:23-24). The worship in spirit and truth comes from the initial given fact that "God is spirit". Hence this is the worship required, when I AM WHO I AM is worshipped as He in fact IS, in the beauty of holiness and reality of truth.
It is then that the blessing that sees Christ as the very definitive image of this eternal God (Hebrews 1:3), whose goings are with Him from everlasting (Micah 1:1-3), is found; it is then that one is able to receive Him as He is, who opens the eyes of the blind; and when God is for you, WHO can be against you! When God is against you, on the other hand, what is the use of anyone being for you!
And with Him, this God who is Spirit, this infinite Being, needing no resources other than He, on whom the whole creation is dependent, who upholds it by the word of His power and will destroy what is not made eternal, by the same word: with Him there is a rest, and when it is in Him that one delights, He gives the desires of the heart (Psalm 37).
His goodness never fails; His
strength is sufficient for anything in this little universe He has made – for
though it is extensive, yet compared to Him, for whom neither space nor time are
other than creations (Romans 8:37ff.), and these contain matter and are its
métier, it is but a puddle by a lake: and less than that. It is like ? but what
? It is God Himself who declares it, “To whom then will you compare Me ? …”
(Isaiah 40:25) and again, in Isaiah 46:9,
“For I am God
and there is no other (literally, the sense is nothing more that is God),
The “nought” here
in the Hebrew has the sense of failing, nonentity, nothingness, failure,
and is often used in cases of utter destruction and inconsequence, derisory rejection,
complete denial to the uttermost.
Likeness in ANY respect to Him, there is NOT.
It is and is portrayed biblically to be a ridiculous concept,
to be dismissed with irony.
Comparisons are EXCLUDED, naturalism is abomination,
or any part of it, hint of it. It is unmentionable in the same theme, irrevocably irrelevant, wholly disparate.
As to God, grounds of similarity do not exist: He took counsel with none (Isaiah 40:13), considered limitations in nothing, and in His being, is controllable, influenceable, touched by NOTHING, as you see likewise in Isaiah 40:13-14. Christ was with Him, the Father, pre-incarnate (John 17:1-3), eternal (John 8:58, Micah 5:1-3), the very eternal life of God (I John 1:1-4): so that all that is in the category of the made did not exist until He chose to make it (John 1:3); and having made it, He comes and goes concerning it, at His will, until at last, like a coat that grows old, it is tossed off (Isaiah 51:6). Such is the destiny of what is wholly disparate from what has had it formed, inimitably irrelevant to His being: the creation that now is, this world which with its works, is to be burnt up.
His being ?
This is source and setting, and none participates in that, except in terms of creation, as derivative, and the goodness of none extends in any way to HIM (Psalm 16:2-3). Indeed, in HIS righteousness ONLY does David trust, accordingly (Psalm 71:16) just as from Him alone comes pardon for offence against this (Psalm 32) because in terms of substitutionary sacrifice, to the believer He does not impute sin (Isaiah 53, Acts 4:11-12, Ephesians 1:10). So it has been, now is and always will be in principle, for the everlasting Gospel is just that (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, TMR Ch. 3).
As to what He rescues (Hebrews 2:1-3), indeed He clothes him/her with His own righteousness (Isaiah 61:10, Romans 3:23-27). It, like a derivative eternal life, founded in time, yet conserved to eternity, is pure gift (Psalm 17, Romans 5:15, 6:23, I John 5:11ff.). Nothing touches Him; He touches all. In heart, in kindness, He concerns Himself, by grace alone, in mercy alone, in lovingkindness alone, and meets justice to enable mercy to kiss truth in peace (Psalm 85).
In ALL things He is unique and without comparison; and what He donates is by grace, so that heaven and earth flee away, there being no place found for them (Revelation 20:11). If He is the beginning of all creation, He is also the end. He is the first, He is also the last. In the beginning, He acted, being there. So it is for creation.
He has given all, in love. But in Being, its loss touches Him not at all. A museum burnt does not change a people's nature: merely removes something they made (Psalm 102:26-28). This world is fast becoming a museum of life, and as in Elijah's day, few there be who are not of it, immersed in its muddy waters, baptised by its blatant codes; and its form and fashion is passing away, like an old car (I Corinthians 7:31). Engineer's stand to lose nothing within, with the departure of some structure; they make a new one. God is going to make a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells: test concluded, nothing is occluded. Job does indeed show the reality of TEST, and the necessity of SINCERITY, along with the necessity of the Redeemer, and acutely reveals the folly of philosophising instead of believing in the One who has revealed Himself.
But sin in being of liberty, created as one of the most stupendous feats of all time, and beyond it, since God is beyond this little segment of His creation, and hence of all which is affected in ANY way by it ... what of their sinning. Is it not provided for ? So is an air-bag provided for a crash, but who would suggest that the manufacturer thereby sanctioned a smash!
Sin ? They may do it, as at the first, but they did not have to do so. They do not have to now, except that sin has passed to all men (Romans 5), and that is judgment both internal and external. People may choose to sin, then. God chooses to make a new heavens and a new earth, to the unutterable joy and delight of His children; but He does not have to do so. It is His will.
His people love Him for the liberty He gave, re-institutes, breaking sin's evil dynamic in cancellation of guilt, intimation of life, regeneration into life, investing by His Spirit, shepherding with His skill. So enabled, what then of His people ? They in no way confuse this costly bane of sin, with Him, who brings and removes as a scrap of paper, the indictment and the dynamic.
Indeed, the whole creation in one aspect is as a scrap of paper (cf. Isaiah 40:10-17). You put your thoughts on paper, but as to any comparison with the vehicle, paper, and the one who for a time chooses to use it, the author, it is a ludicrous merging of disparates, it is mere confusion of instrument and person. How much more so is it with the only One who is invisible AND uncreated AND unreliant AND so disparate that the removal of the scrap, the universe with its time and forms, is an incident of no significance whatsoever as to His being.
He conserves what He will of the children of men, and that by entire new creation (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), wrought in a dynamic of creation comparable to the first one (II Corinthians 4:6): for "God who commanded light to shine out of darkness ... has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
There is similarly nothing like HIS lovingkindness; for though many are most loving, yet His love is its source, its purity to perfection, its eternity its precincts, holy and wholesome, beautiful and deep, remorseless in its insistence on standards of truth, on His word. A manufacturer may insist on STANDARDS, while he lives, for his products; but God, like him in working His will, though absolutely, yet having no ‘hands’, as Spirit for all time maintains His standards at whatever cost, to Him, and to the just condemnation of the mutinously irreparable, despising His remedy. He has make things by the power which MADE hands (Psalm 94).
Like a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:39), He burns up the dross; like a hearth He comforts, in compassion He refines, in determination He tests, in gladness He meets with Him who works righteousness and remembers Him in HIS ways (Isaiah 64:5), and what a meeting THAT is.
He never fails. He sheep may wander, but He never leaves nor forsakes them (Hebrews 13:5). They grow weak, but they are free to wait upon the Lord, who renews their strength not a little, but like the eagle’s (Isaiah 40:26ff.).
How wonderful are His ways, and as to His heart, He is past finding out; but just as I Corinthians 1 declares, despite this, HE HAS REVEALED these things to us, EVEN THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD. It is done. It is available. THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE, to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Philip, said He, have I been so long with you and you did not know Me! (John 14). If and when a person knows God, then indeed "JOY comes in the MORNING" (Psalm 30:5, 17 cf. Preface), when His rule complete, His people have no ulterior motive, no superior thought, no configuration with which to instruct God as to His being (Isaiah 40:13-14), nor conflagration of His word, witness or ways, and find the Lamb the Light and the Temple (Revelation 21-22).
Then the righteous shine forth in the splendour of light (Matthew 13). Sin gone, evil is an abyss. Then not only spiritually (II Cor. 5:17ff.), but physically, old things have passed away, in the regeneration of all things (Acts 3:19-21), wrought so readily in the Lord, who is apart from His creation, able to call, recall, redeem or destroy at His own will, BECAUSE other than He there is NO GOD, and because there is NONE LIKE HIM, no analogy adequate.
To whom would you compare Me ? He asks; and it is not for information!
IMAGE AND IMAGINATION
Grandeur and Grace
*1 There is a beautiful humility in the Lord (Matthew 11:27-28), without which no Cross could ever have been! Thus ALTHOUGH ontologically, in the nature of His being, there is nothing to affect Him from His creation, yet in His grace there is a willingness to be touched by the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15), a pity, and that lovingkindness which is increasingly wholly alien to a generation being taught to look out for number one, to strife and survive, and another-like enormities of defilement of man.
Such abominations in contrast to
Christ, they do not work; they kill. They produce nothing worthy, however they
may thrill. They leave lost remnants, sold souls, enormously immature
relics, contrary to creation, debased almost to hell before arrival; and here is
the worst of it, that it is wrought often with an almost MORAL fervour, as if to
be so base is the height of attainment. This calling evil good and good evil is
just what God so roundly condemned when Israel was the exhibit, in Isaiah
5:18-23, in terms of "woes" (cf. NASV):
"Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood,
and sin as with cart ropes,
Who say, 'Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it,
and let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
and come to pass, that we may know it!"
This exposure of diligence impudence, is apt in our last days, as in those bringing judgment to Israel of old. It proceeds, a little later in Isaiah 5:
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil:
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness,
Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter"
Who to those who are wise in their own sight!"
Despising mere 'morals' as well as any Communist, and like Communists even when they are not of that brand, they revel in self-contradiction, thus having moral thrust about their horridness, a sense of obligation to 'life' whatever this is felt to be in such depraved circumstances. So do they they trample happily, or miserably, squelching with their toes the 'mud' of other humanity, while ignoring their Maker.
Small wonder we read in the ever precise and right Bible, this characterisation of our times, of its trends, in the prophetic word:
"But realise this, that in the last
days, difficult times will come.
"For men will be lovers of self,
lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers,
"For among them are those who enter
into households and captivate weak women,
As you look at Cambodia and Communism, Afghanistan and the Taliban, New York and al Qaeda, the PLO and countless Jewish bodies murdered, with some specialisation at times in the young, murdered, half-murdered human remnants their badge of belief, at homosexual bishops, marriages of males to males or the analogy with females, disproportionate, disjointed, counter to design, at the luxuriating in the ugly, the violent, the selfish, and the whole philosophic Pandora's box of worthless things opened by the rejection of God and the irrational regard for 'Nature' as a mother, when it is merely a stage, people fascinated with folly, bound to delusion, it comes to mind how extraordinarily apt is this report by Paul through the Holy Spirit, from nearly two thousand years ago, on the state of things to come, when the time for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ would grow near.
Where is this ? It is in II Timothy 3. One rendering the author once spotted, at verse 8, was "men of depraved mind and deprived of the faith." The term rendered "rejected" in the long quotation above, and "deprived" here, is one which means to be rejected after testing, reprobate. The sense of 'deprived' is derivative in this, that IF you are rejected and reprobate, you do not have the thing in question, and it is because of a fault in you (like a rejected manufactured article, not up to 'scratch'). It is then in the SENSE of the passage, though not an exact rendering, to say 'deprived'. Nevertheless, though implied rather than stated, it brings out the thrust of the passage and the term should be pondered. Depraved, deprived; or if you wish for alliteration in the translation, men of depraved mind, and dumped as regards faith.
Another rendering is this: "those withstand the truth, men utterly corrupted in mind, found worthless as regards the faith." With this is Romans 1:17ff., which is likewise a magnificently accurate depiction of the erosion of society, as the last stages of the rebellion against God specified by Paul come into being in our "last days".
In contrast to all this, both powerful and poignant, Christ stands, and stood in an unusual form of elevation, on the Cross, being supported in His work by man, by the equally unusual help of nails, for the better securing of the object, inserting through hands and feet. This suffering, both of pain and of sentence, was voluntary; it was love in action, it was remedy in process, finished when He said so, before His Spirit was sent back to the Father (John 19).
It is obvious then, that in speaking ontologically, as to intrinsic BEING, when it is said that God is not 'touched' by what happens to His creation, it is not to be confused with the grace and humility of His heart, by which, through a grace that is infinitely free, He chooses to stoop, to suffer, to redeem all who come to Him in faith, receiving Him as He is.
Again, the interface between the infinite God and the finite man, by which the incomparable magnificence of the eternal God is in communion with man, through faith in the Mediator Jesus Christ, who being God (Philippians 2), is able to bring the whole beauty of holiness to man, and being man, is able to show man the way to the wonder of the Lord: this is grace despite the infinity-finitude contrast between God and man.
It is not in a physical way, or in a comparable way, but in a functional way a staggeringly apt way of securing such a boon for man, not by nails for man, but by kindness towards our race (Titus 2:11, 3:4). It is this functional 'image' that brings the compatibility of man to God in man's own spirit, into the realm of actual fellowship (I John 1:6,3). In this operational, gracious sense of giving and enabling, there is an 'image' of God in man. It does, however, absolutely nothing to render man comparable with God, who asks, With whom shall you compare Me! A baby is not strong because held near his father's face, nor learned because he can speak to his father, nor wise because he can listen, nor wonderful because he is loved.
Some trade on this infinitude of grace, to imagine that they can rollick about with the commandments, but it is not so. YOU are My friends, Christ declared: if you keep My words ? no, stronger even than that, rather this: "if you do what I command you" (John 15:16). God did not cease to be God (John 20:28), because He took the salvatory format of man! He does not cease in the least to command because He was crucified. His love is shown, His truth is not delayed, and will not be waylaid! It is still perilous to toy with it, far more so than waggling a lion's tongue in his mouth, while he is thought to be asleep.
As Isaiah says of the Messiah, He is a commander of the people (Isaiah 55).