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News at Easter
To start: Time Magazine, March 31, 1997, p. 70.
That which remains shall be for our God.... is that it ? Is that what the word of God says ? No. It reads: And He who remains, even He shall be for our God! It is found in Zechariah 9:7, just before the announcement of the coming King, seated on an ass's colt, who was to bring salvation with and within Him.
As we read of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) deciding over a computer-aided voting process to void the aids-entry fiasco of same-sex 'marriage' for clergy and office holders, a move which compares favourably with its voiding of the clout of authority in the Bible in its Confession of 1967 (see Clowney of Westminster Seminary, Another Foundation), we must consider the movements of today. There IS movement. It IS today. How long for tomorrow ?
This is a singular improvement of direction, relative to what was shown before in contradictory movements, such as seen in the 1966-67 froth in New Zealand Presbyterianism, whereby the crucial bodily resurrection was made optional at will (cf. Luke 24:39, II Corinthians 5:1-6, I Corinthians 15:1-3, 51-55). Similar in scope was the case in the Presbyterian Church of Australia, where a whole book or books of the Bible could be tossed out to a large or significant extent, at the caprice or conviction of theological Staff, a circumstance which directly led to my own presentation by the grace of God, of unanswerable logic to scuttle the anti-Biblical approach on a point at issue; and a compulsory voiding in consequence of my place as a trainee ministry student, complete with libel; and thence the Lord's provision for my move to Westminster Seminary, USA. That of course is no final harbour of faithfulness, though it is undoubtedly a bastion in many ways, and has accomplished much.
It is always important to make it clear that NO human resource is to be relied on; and the more some move in that direction of flesh focus, the more dangerous it is. The Presbyterian Church of Australia, for its own part, had a healthy and commendable stress on the love of GOD, from 1901, and put it in its Declaratory Statement: that stress in its context was a beacon of truth amidst the petty narrowness of many, more concerned to follow traditions (often very good ones, in the main), than to be faithful to what is actually written. (Cf. SMR pp. 633, Appendix B, pp. 1113ff., and Predestination and Freewill pp. 77 ff, 87, 113 ff.)
It comes and it goes: flesh seeks to set up shop in spiritual places, as it did in the Temple of old, to which Jesus addressed Himself with whips. What goes on, is often what goes off. It will not stay.
Take Australia. It has moved imperceptibly at first, then like an avalanche, and now with some more modesty, since it has come so far so fast from its original moorings, or some of them. It WAS in the case of the massively important State of Victoria, at first in its 1851 Constitution, that CHRISTIANITY appeared as its preferred religion; and in fact many churches, on a proportional immigration policy, gained access to State help at the start.
The concept was that the State was for the people, and this was the way the people were. In my boyhood, there was a strong emphasis even in State schools, on virtue, courage, work, endurance, faithfulness, loyalty, having heart, a sense of responsibility to your country and acknowledgment of God, the ultimate heart source and vision. True it was far from perfect; but it was far from folly. It had a measure of wisdom, often helped from outside the school.
Now ? Touting such terms as 'multi-culturalism', a nascent next generation, twenty-first century Australia aims accurately to forget all that, moving from freedom to fiasco, after the sacrifices of wars, the hopes of freedom of speech and from tyranny. This is the leaven that does not rise.
It plays coyly with the United Nations and its unspeakably follies of ungodly government on the basis of unearthly but not heavenly values. And these ? They descend from a mount that is a plain, and plainly subterranean in the massive overlooking of the requirements of individual conscience, of the reality of God and the unreality of any moral power in the squabbling bloc of nations which presume to fill in for God in His ... as it would seem from their literature, presumed absence.
A brotherhood of all, much like Hawke's folly, is imagined when in reality the diversity of morals, of vision if any, of hopes, standards, religions makes it clear that this is mere mumbo-jumbo; or worse, a preliminary to a world in which man without god, plays god, and makes man not best but rather bestial. Deny the Creator of man's mind, the saviour of his spirit and the devastation is worse than mere deprivation; so that in many cases, the disease grows to be devilry rather than mere declivity. It is currently rife in many nations, broadcast for inspection by those who must assess, or the ghoulish.
But what would this present world make of him, of man ? this. Whatever self-interest, self-satisfaction, self-esteem and self-importance might suggest; while wryly removing the things of God who made the heavens and the earth and ... focussing first on man, with his massive inventive capacity, including at worst, one of etherealising himself into a god-maker without basis, logic or any sense of etiquette to the Almighty: who does not approve (see Chs. 3 and 10, SMR, cf. Ezekiel 28:9, Psalm 2, Acts 4:25-29). It is precocity gone wild.
This will all pass, like same-sex and racially unprocreative marriages, or the same-squalor and religiously unproductive addiction to god-images, made for the nineties and beyond, at will, whim and as occasion suggests.
Sometimes, it is put in the 'racial bag' as if religion were a racial phenomenon. Asia is not an issue racially. It is one religiously, as is much of the rest of the world. While multi-cultural tolerance is intoned righteously, the slight step of slighting God with slight regard, and sleight of mind, and making all religions equal in the sense that none is objective fact, so dismissing God Almighty without a handkerchief or a tear at the barriers of the next century: this is the real and irrational phenomenon for which the racial issues are frequently mere camouflage. (Cf. SMR pp. 254 ff.).
It may not always be conscious: what leads to accidents often is not; and that is a large part of the trouble.
Anyone deluded enough to discriminate against races for the mere colour of their skin (minimal in genetic divergence anyway) and so forth is then blended with anyone alert enough to discriminate against bombastic cultural folly, religious impudence and topsy-turvy skips to ever deeper pits, from which the wails are yet to come, as man plays god and God works on history, and the horror this type of confused fuss succeeds in producing, goes on. The book of Revelation has documented it in unhappy detail, from the first. The news makes much of documenting it as we come nearer to the last.
Aiming to be sophisticated, Australia is in imminent peril. Through such measures as:-
a) the Child Rights Convention,
b) the religious anti-discrimination provisions of the UN (actually, potentially a trap for freedom of both thought and of speech in the interests of a convenient statistic-fantasy that surrealises all religions - cf. SMR pp. 750A ff., as for a) above), and
c) its sexual discrimination against common sense and the common racial realities by equating anti-design with design,
this land is bidding fair to become the opposite to wise. Both duped and dumped, Australia increasingly is asking for the discipline of nations as well as that of God; for its lavish vision of a reliable international 'community' is intense folly, wild nonsense coming from any place but from history, remote and recent; and its slighting of God, the only one with the logic and the evidence, is a radical about-turn from its former, constitutionally expressed, approach to reverence.
That which remains ? no, "He who remains will be for our God" (cf. SMR Chs.1, 2,3 ,10).
The ONE who will remain, after a little flirtation with antichristian values, really in logic a mere extension of volition, will be the One who made the designs and the designer-minds to act: God Almighty, the One with the Son who died, not the one without such personal expression, without a testable and verifiable word, without a Bible, without testimony demonstrating His reality, without power and without blessing.
Australia like ever so many churches and groups is going for its new way. It is not a New Age glory, however, to which it directs itself: it is a pit. This is the nature of movement from the God who evidences and attests Himself from the first. It always was; and it always will be, till it becomes permanent. One may perhaps be excused for hoping that a greater wisdom will prevail in many who, mentioning the name of the Lord, do not bother to act out what He says. Now is the time. It is not a question of intolerance of unchristian approaches, but of observing the growing intolerance against the Christian morals, ethos, word, gospel, creation and law - yes, and grace. It is precisely in this way that S.A. has fallen by political dominance and intrusion, to unspeakable laceration of child mentality, as of logic.(See Ch.8, That Magnificent Rock.)
This State is not alone in such things, though it is far advanced in degree of outrage. However, the saints of God are not few, and their works are abundant. It is time they were more clear-cut in this country, rather than becoming an oddity, a case of frequent confusion of assumed psychic needs, of social security and convention, with what God says is ... This, His speech, for many grows more distant than the latest 'community' vapidity, pretending that what is not there, is nevertheless in some distant, remote and irrational way, the dominant theme.
Who IS this community ? Christ we know and the Cross we know, and the final victory over death we know, and the command of Christ at His ascension, to "teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded" we know: but this other ? It appears a sort of idealised aggregate, as if numbers made validity, and statistics could speak. It is kept in the charge of the community breeders, it seems, and allowed to make statements.
Its watchword is virtually this: IF it is commanded, don't do it. Keep the name Christian, and keep the intonation, multicultural, and keep anything else you may want, but as to this word of God, DON'T DO IT! And above all, don't think that it is true! Believe what; you like, but never, never, never think that this is true. It is socially inconvenient and politically unacceptable, incorrect. That is the final commandment - shall we say, the TWELFTH COMMANDMENT. (For the 11th., see Ch.8, That Magnificent Rock.)
The Twelfth Commandment: Like Twelfth Night, it is a flirtation with irrational folly; but unlike Twelfth Night, it is not in the end, a matter of entertainment. The article in TIME, this week, bears wonderful testimony to the unity between 'churches' which the excellently moral Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) decision, in its view, voids. This is one void we need more of, if a too populous one is not to be seen on scene surprisingly quickly. AIDS epidemics are merely one of the many appearing as more and more routine in the book of Revelation, as - to take the point quite scripturally - mankind in the large, "neither repented... of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts" (Revelation 9:21, cf. 21:8); but continued with their idols, not equipped like themselves with the vitality of life and understanding (Revelation 9:20).
As Revelation 21:8 shows, heaven is decidedly heavenly, and the negative omissions are balanced by the positive inclusions (22:1-6). Life wasn't meant to be polluted. It was designed for purity; it works in that mode, and works with the God who made for it a delighted joy in that capacity. In-between is the Cross of Christ, which was a pollution not by the Creator, but of His human form.
That is the bridge to eternity, when it is coupled with faith, not the fiasco of Time Magazine style composition religions, as noted below. That bridge is built with the same power which abolished death as the destiny of man, in the just resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:39, Titus 1:2, 3:5-6, II Timothy 1:10, I Peter 2:22-24, 3:18, I Corinthians 15:1-3) ; though it is true, there is a death not to be desired (John 5:19-23): really, an abortion without a clinic. Life however is the product of God, for man; and when duly in Christ, it is in His keeping.
No more wonderful concern and love is conceivable than that which He displayed ( I John 1:1-4, 3:1-4, Titus 2:14, 3:4, Romans 5:7-9); but for all that, there is no violence in the requirement of faith. In a way quite contrary, a former series of generations were held, often in thrall, often in torture, by some who professed some kind of faith, but failed in its practice... That was as wild as is the current indolence tedious, tepid.
God is mocked by neither. HIS church continues notable in this: it DOES what He commands, and repents when it errs. It has faith which receives Christ apart from works (Romans 3, Galatians 3, cf. SMR pp. 520-532), for its redemption, being saved without works, but not without faith; and as to faith, it works, when it is the faith that God gives, not the sentiment which the psyche imagines. In the opposite mode, the secular and the spiritual psyche will often dream dreams (Jeremiah 23:23-29). Their peculiar products strew the earth (cf. That Magnificent Rock, Ch.6).
"There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12)...
Death ? yes death by war in the millions of dead bodies, death by aids which does not help and spreads to innocent victims in the 'wise' mêlée of governmental sleep, which even descended on Tasmania like a drug, to extinguish their return to the morality of design; death by endless exaggerated law suits to reap millions for damages, lest society settle down to stability; by gambling, spelling with government-backed casinos, the word 'death' yet again, this time to virtue and labour, to care and consistency.
Meanwhile, people so encouraged, spend and are spent, not for good works in the grace of God, but for good pay in the service of risk; and with this, what more ? Death to the vulnerable children who newborn, inherit Aids as again Time Magazine documents for us; death to the earnest honesty and sincere goodwill which comes from recognising one's place on earth before one's Creator and finding His service to men - not by courting risk, but by reality in recognising our sin and our Saviour, so that there should be a haven.
But life ?
Contrary to the tenor of the approach of Time Magazine, March 24, 1997, on the topic of heaven (cover picture included) : heaven is not found out in any sophisticated-seeming survey of what man has said, or in any review of statistics on earth, but in the willing receipt by faith of what God has done. It is like a house: you do not find one by surveying plans, but by going to where one is built, and having due and adequate access.
You have the first 'house' at birth, and you have to inherit the second from the same source. Heaven is no haven for the ungodly, and no haven is found for them who reject the power of the absolute Creator of the heavens and the earth: psychiatry is powerless, sociology is foundering in incapacity mixed with humanistic compassion which finds no answer but try, try, try again. "There is no peace for the wicked", we read, and in the Bible as in life, what more wicked than this: to pour out scorn, or to dispense disregard to the One on whose life your own is dependent.
No merely "religious survey" as in Time Magazine, has even a relevance to heaven beyond, or a haven on earth. In the end, heaven is that state of fellowship, concord and peace with God which, for each and for all of His people, pilgrimage on earth finished, is filled with a freedom that has love not as an immigrant, but as a fixture; which is based on the precision of the performance of Jesus Christ in the atonement, its validation in His bodily resurrection, and its purity in the celestial magnificence of His life on earth.
For His sake is heaven for His people. It is the post-pilgrimage consummation of perfection visited upon men and women, and children, who are in Christ. Its temple is Christ and He is its light for His people (Revelation 21-22).
Heaven is for the heavenly-minded ("Set your mind on the things which are above, not on things on the earth" - says the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:2) : not as a merit, but as the untainted milieu of Christ their Saviour to which they come. These gain such a mind now, perfected then (Hebrews 12:23-24), from the mind and Spirit of God through His transmission- procedure of sending His own Son to dispense mercy, and to dynamise the defeat of death: bearing sin for the ungodly without condition, except that they receive Him, repenting and being relieved of their sin (Romans 5:1-10).
Thus they come back to God in truth and simplicity, that is yet profound, accepting the Gospel of God in Christ Jesus, who has no competitors in performance on earth (SMR Chs. 1,3,6,10). In Him, now they have life: Because I live, you will live also, He cried. In Him, they have a peace which even now passes all understanding.
The madness of creatures without their Creator by choice is one thing; the wisdom of the actions of the Creator who is theirs by fact, is quite another thing. Indeed, as Professor Gordon Clark has pointed out, if you make your survey to contain "religions" and religions to be as defined by you in the first place, so that you may know where to go, to look in your survey, then it is all a mere circle (SMR pp.1009-1010, 268, 290). You decide what is religion, and then YOU survey what you decide, and YOU FIND what put into your definition. Religion becomes what you think.
Is religion the voice of morality in conscience (which varies and is often partially defunct), or some tremor of the existential angst, a sort of inbuilt god who has his problems; or is it a consensus of what people think about the supernatural, this being whatever that may be by preliminary and previous definition; or is it what people think of the Creator, or is it the words about these things, or the deeds concerning them, or a trust in one's biology, or in one's psychology, or in any other human construction which neither rests on nor gains validity from anything?
What remains however is the word of the living God, fulfilled continually in morals, in history, in news, in power, in performance, in Christ and by Christ, whose hold in and upon history is precise and unintermittent.
What remains is the morality which does not dabble in the reckless disregard of the Creator's construction of the body, of the mind, of the soul which presumes to adjudicate even when it denies its own existence.
What remains is peace which passes understanding instead of endless misunderstanding, wrought in violence, even by some who name the name of Christ but who do not follow His words, who seek THIS world for their diadem, and do not rest in the One who has control both of this and of the next.
Rest is found in the one who arrests restlessness with reality, and who presented the dynamism of God in front of the face of man, to be received in and through Him (cf. Acts 2:22ff., Romans 1:4). It is then, only then, that the way is open, even to heaven, and indeed trebly secure, as Christ put it: "If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (cf. John 10:9, 27-28).
There is no lack of power with God; it is not even an issue. What lacks is the love to and knowledge of Him; and that? The earth is filled with His knowledge, though it be largely disregarded.
What remains is morality, not a projection of desire, but a pronouncement of God; spirituality, not a seizure from drugs of the mind or of the body, but a derivative of the power, pronouncements and presence of God: a godliness which none can invent because it comes from Him who is eternal.
For the time, this remains for its death tremors: a polluted earth which is no haven because the heaven which God controls is mocked daily, and the end which God began history to fulfil, is disregarded while the end which is the pit is pronounced whole and safe, like the aircraft which have inadequate parts, but which are nonetheless flying (Time Magazine, March 31, 1997, Flying into Trouble, pp. 54ff.).
False parts do not fly well; and false religion does not live well, while the world is dying into trouble, while the world's flight, #000 to hell, continues at ever-increasing speed, and people question heaven, because admittedly, for the many it is an ever-increasingly academic question: the flight is not that way directed.
What remains then is the Gospel by which one is able to make in-flight transfer, not of fuel but of passengers; and this Easter is a good time to remember it. Yes, but really, it is HE WHO REMAINS who determines what remains, and will do so, in His own appointed way. Meanwhile, in one Western Australian school a teacher was instructed that the core of Easter, one of the most spectacularly national holidays you could wish, could not be freely conveyed to the students without permission from parents (and reportedly at one point, even with it).
There is the essence of paganism; not even information can be provided, so that the knowledge of God does not become available, while The Child Rights Convention, for all its errors, seems rather more interested in information being available. So it goes: but where does it go ? Not to heaven, not this way.
Go back. Wrong way. This is not the way to God, and hence not the way to heaven. This earth's 'heaven' is no haven. Since the tower of Babel, its occupants have been exceptionally slow to be convinced. Every violence on the one hand, and insidious charm and baleful effrontery on the other, appears to have been tried to displace, replace and restore what was never there in the first place: a self-sufficient earth with either
a) no god or
b) no speaking god,
or at any rate, no god in the way to actually DO anything, believe what you will. And how self-sufficient is the self-esteeming earth with its idolatrous community and its frenzied disunity, and its fabrications and altercations and alterations. God ? He swears by Himself, He does not change (Malachi 3:6).
It is He who remains. So does His word: and as to it ? it acts. (See SMR Chs.5,6,8-9.) It acts for good and for evil: for blessing and for cursing; and it is available as it has been, whether or not men prefer darkness to light. Darkness? it is any darkness, be it called what it will, preferred to the light of Christ, the light of the world (II Corinthians 11:4, 13), the light which knows neither substitute nor side-issue: it is this that excludes. It is that negative preference, as that word puts it, which is their condemnation (John 3:18-19).
How wonderful, when you look at it, that THIS present predicament of the human race is not the irrepressible, irresistible END for all its members, but the announcement of the way to it! It is in fact a way that need not be taken. If followed, however, it is the end indeed. Let anyone who thirsts, therefore, drink of the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17, the 5th last verse of the Bible).
What then remains ? It is the way of Him who remains, has remained and will remain:
"I, the Lord am the first; and with the last, I am He", (Isaiah 41:4). "Look," He says, " to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other" (Isaiah 45:22).
That, for the time, that remains; and He who speaks it, He remains, and His peace remains for the one who takes hold of His strength and makes peace with Him (Isaiah 27:5, Ephesians 2:14-18). And Christ, He remains: the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). And the place He has prepared for His people remains, and the resurrection reality of each individual who is to inhabit it: all this remains. Is it not enough!