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We paused in Chapter 1 at South Col, a term drawn from Mt Everest, a stopping location, and as a col, a place able to act as a pass between the towering mountains, higher grounds on either side: a saddle or ridge. This we did on our way up to the unavoidable recognition, logically speaking (some, you see, get vertigo), of the heights surrounding, abounding, peering majestically down.
Now the drawing facing suggests the watchful eye looking back to the valley, seeing the base religions beneath, aided by powerful field-glasses. (The inset at the bottom of the following full page illustration shows something of what is seen from these glasses ... in the depths of the valley.) It is God who made the higher ground, and indeed ourselves to stand upon it; and it is no honour to Him to pretend that it is not there, or has no elevation; or that valley and mountain height are all one.
This is a species of verification, this looking at the depths, deep below, seeing the systematic incapacity of such religions of human desire - those not granted by the self-confirming word of God - to find any place at the alpine elevations of effective perspective - and why!
As God put it in Jeremiah (10:11):
Thus will you say to them: The gods which have not made the heavens and the earth, these shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens.Their systematic deficiencies, so that not only were they not acceptable at the first, but now, at the last, they are found again intrinsically woeful for logic, these become the topic.
This is negatively directed verification, wrought by perceiving these systematic defects which leave such derelict and defeated religious 'options' - far below, in the valley.
When the famed Lord Lister discovered wonders of hygiene and antiseptic which brought down relevant death figures for those on whom operations were performed, from something like 80% in one major German hospital, to near zero, the English, we read, were slow to follow; until Lord Lister took up his position at Oxford, and his influence began more speedily to spread in England. Failure to utilise objective facts may have helped surgical pride, as one writer suggests, in surgeons being unabashedly covered in blood rather than scrubbed up; 'economy' in time; and disinclination to depart from cherished long established traditional practice. Sin has itself a very long practice; but cherished cultural preferences (like that for condemning any word which says, this is right, even if from God) lead to knee-jerk and illusory relativism, saying in flat contradiction of itself: That is right! That is not merely hypocrisy, but an invitation to doom.
This, however, is rather an invitation
Thus the illustration below, pictorialises in its little plateau near the top, the place of peace in the radiant light that reveals reality, because reality is its source and substance. That light, leaving the figure, is Jesus Christ, the true Light which came into the world.
In this final Chapter, the tenth, we show in terms of comparison, the weak inferiority and discernible error of religious 'competition' (or indeed composition) beside the Lord Jesus Christ and His word, which is His. We see in this present Chapter some of the multiplying errors of religions which with good reason, we were indeed logically obliged to fail, in Chapter One (supra). All this is done in relatively rapid survey and appropriate system, as a retrospective expression of the wonder of the word of God - now long since identified - in the context of the marvel of this world to which it has been sent. It is a world on which it takes hold like the jaws of a dirt extractor, in earth moving equipment, leaving visible ... merely the hole where the rubble was.
In the course of the survey in Section 1, we shall cover various religions, with special application to Buddhism and some modern derivatives, providing in particular: Extension 1: On Buddhism.
We shall moreover survey some of the
ancient testimony to the one God, from whom man has come, and to whom he
has from ancient times looked, before turning, and looked again, while
turning: this gives us occasion for:
Extension 2: On Tribal Testimony.
However, as we course through the Section 1, part of the retreat observed will concern mysticism, and part the more strident form of antichrist activity, where retreat from reality is coincident with a retreat into certain forms of violence. That will involve several religions.
This will allow us in Section 2 to specialise more especially in Roman Catholicism, not least because of its close relation, but not identity, with the terminal events of the Age. In these two Sections, we shall consider several distortions or diversions from Christianity, with special attention to one ancient derivative, that has majored on violence and provides a readily accessible case study: Roman Catholicism.
There are five Extensions to Section 2, namely:
1: Peter and the Prince ... 2: The Christ and the Pope
3: No Other Name .... 4: The Weaving of the Ways for the Antichrist
5: No Peace Evidenced for a World at War with God.
As we shall see, or have seen, here go the Buddhists, Hindus, the agnostic philosophers, to join the Jewish nation. The last of these retreated from the Cross of Christ direct (Galatians 6:14), but in masses will one day return there; just as, in accord with Biblical prediction, as a first instalment on the word of God concerning them and their destiny, they have already returned in millions to their land. Indeed they now speak of a possible ten million strong nation before very long, as they come by buses, by planes, by trains, by boats in what has been called the second exodus, to their promised land.
With these, are the arrant evolution worshippers1, the Confucians in their distance from God, the New Age mechanics, adjusting 'god' to experience and experience to 'god': together with their allies, the existentialists; the fragmenting polytheists; the divine illusionists whose highest glory is their 'roaring silence', which, dwelling in the land of fantasy and oxymoron, they find so instructive; the druggists, dealing death blows to their nervous systems to find some spark, some scintillation which suggests its Maker, suitably incognito (His name suppressed); the sects, dissecting out the deity of Christ from their dead gods... and some of these are beginning to move to the area of our next Section - Retreat Into Violence, not always with blood. Others may figure in both sections, first in the creative illusion side, with constraints placed on others, to share in the illusion, and secondly in the overt violence section per se, where the emphasis is violence done both to the truth and to the body of Christ, as if to create what is not there, and to deny, denigrate or demolish what is.
i) of 'the people' - the People Messiah, the Proletariat Principal, in fact as ineffective as sin is; or
ii) of a mirage coming from a novel abyss, divorced from history, in the supra-historical imaginings of new-Christ creating Muhammad; or functionally
iii) of a wafer, or a man, 'father', or a mother, defiling truth with idolatry. Nor is SHE, this image in fact, that mother of Christ; for it is He who said,
Behold, my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother.In Matthew 12, where this is found (vv. 49-50), we find that He said this, when He ''stretched forth His hand towards His disciples''. On what occasion however did He say this ? It was when He was advised that His mother and brothers were standing by, to speak with Him. It was then He asked, ''WHO IS MY MOTHER?'' making the universalising statement concerning those who do the will of God. His address was therefore demonstrated both in gesture and in incident, and both by contrast and by comparison, in the very presence of a mother desiring to speak with Him. This categorically denies any special spiritual position to Mary, arising from her specific motherhood.
Nor, as we stress and will stress, has God turned into bread or into a sinner: that this should merit worship, or a sinner should control the soul; and the word of God will abundantly attest this, as will be seen (e.g. 1 John 2:27, Matthew 23:8-10).
It is then for these three, the Moslem, the Romanist and the Communist heretics that here we chiefly deal: the first taking the husk of Christianity in an ... adjusted and imagined Christ; the Romanist heretics, taking the form of it, changing the content and the Christ into one directable and locatable in this Age, on earth; and the Communist heretics, taking the structure of Christianity, recoding and dealing with opposites. Certainly there are other admixtures as there is wrought a sort of cyclotronic transformation. All of these are transformationists, and all make new Christs: docile to priests; or the creation2 of Muhammad, a reconstructed relic suitably subdued: or else, in Communism converted in His humanity to human only, and then carnalised into a self-seeking people, using force for their food. These "created Christs" are not to be confused with the original, who alone was sent as Saviour.
Original elements inhere in each of these false Christs; this is not denied. Creativity is in man, and man uses it. It is when God is the object of such creativity that idolatry arises. The cyclotronic element was noted: violence is done to the name of God and violence is then done, with this new 'god', done to man. Violence is back of it, and violence is used for its advance: in each of the 3 cases. Further, in each case, violence is used systematically in the manifest historical works of the 'faith'. To all this, we will then attend.
This misuse of force, this violence abuses:
i) the reality of freedom (q.v.) and hence the divinely created status of man.
ii) thereby the name and necessary glory of God. He, as shown earlier, if willing to use force to allocate human personality at this level, would become responsible for evil, which otherwise becomes the product and by-product of mischievously misused freedom. God's name is thus defamed and demeaned.
iii) the integrity before, and for God of His own creation, in that man is then presuming to act as final arbiter and disposer of God's property, in terms of its relationship to Him, whose kingdom is now not of this world. Otherwise, as we have noted, and as He has said, His servants would fight for Him with force; and these misled, do so, thinking as also noted, and as He also has said, that in killing Christians, they do God service (John 16:2). This 'god' - is a new creation of such religions: the god of forces of the Communists, earlier reviewed, or the forceful god of the Romanists, or the non-redeeming god of the Moslems. That 'god' is served in 'holy' war of one sort or another; though the slain may be more holy than they!
This 'god' for whom they slay, thinking they do Him service: who is he ? For the Moslems, it is a recently attested 'Allah' with a re-worked Christ; for the Romanists, a manipulable man of house (Matthew 24:26) with Redemptrix Mary and directive pope to whom the Romanist is to give 'complete submission... as to God Himself' (Pope Leo XIII, in Sapientiae Christianae), a captive Christ, pre-time available in Masses, though Biblically3 for His time, reserved in fact, in heaven; for the Communists the god of forces, though 'not there', yet allegedly ably directing historical process. This, however, as has been shown in history and earlier in this work, is a disastrous effort, in which 'he' has failed: in terms of Winter Olympics, failed even to complete the course, with no sign of any medal. However, for a 'god' who is NOT THERE, this is scarcely surprising. Overall, these 'gods', false gods shall - as the word of God has clearly predicted - famish (Zephaniah 2:11):
The Lord will be terrible to them: for He will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship Him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the nations.iv) the words of Jesus Christ, as cited, and the work of His Spirit (John 16), who it is that 'convicts' of sin, of righteousness and of judgment.
v) the works of Jesus Christ, who died, to cover sin, not forcing death on others, but accepting it on their behalf who come to Him, not pushed, but drawn (John 6:44, 12:32):
No man can come to me except the Father who sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day;and
I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to Me ... (Christ was the One bearing violence, so that what is vile might be redeemed; Himself the gift of God by grace - Romans 5:15, Titus 3:4-7).Such is the result of this religious abuse of force, in these five categories.
All this is to be shown, or has been shown, and here is surveyed or given detail and due attestation. Meanwhile, specifically in this very survey, prophecy is, in detail, again shown fulfilled, giving dual verification of the word of God, as pure and consistent, on the one hand, and both foreseeing and verified in history, on the other. This procedure on the part of Christ, that does not so use force, moreover, also removes all the horror of senseless, heartless bloodshed from the field of true religion, attesting both the sovereignty of peace at the hands of God, a peace that will prevail for ever, and the folly of men, who need Christ, HIMSELF SLAIN by the hands of men, that they might live (Matthew 16:25, II Peter 3:18).
Like a mighty rock, the Lord of the word manifests strength. That might is shown openly in the word of the Lord, by which He confronts and has long confronted the world. He indicts the world, commands His word, predicts with it, empowers the penitent and comforts the pilgrim in ways so numerous that as David says:
You comprehend my path and my lying down,and in Psalm 40:5:
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether ( Psalm 139:3-4 )...
Many, O Lord my God are Your wonderful worksOne of the many specifics of the Lord's revelation in the Bible is the revelation of power. As Joel puts it ( 2:11 ):
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts which are toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order:
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.
Strong is the One who executes His word.With such power, He was able to create the unique distinctives necessary to identify the word of God written (Chapter 1 supra). Thus it was possible to prepare a path to the word of God, identifying it with certainty; and this path we trod earlier. Nor was it essentially too difficult, for His power has differentiated it from all foolish, fraudulent or fictitious contestants, claimants and cases in terms singular indeed; and some of this we have in detail reviewed.
Whether it be in terms of rationality, of power to produce results, power to predict, power to convict the human race, power to analyse, power to make many mighty things perfectly consistent with each other over time and place, in concept and performance, power to comfort, to purify, to pardon as the word of the living God: this it has, this it can do. Similarly, it exhibits the power to make practical promises to those who put their trust in Him according to His word, and to perform them. It is practical; it is theoretical; it is incisive; it is clear and it is as surely operational as any law of physics; and more so, for such theories change, but the word of God does not mutate with the generations. It is fulfilled; not abolished (cf. Matthew 5:19-21, 1 Peter 1:24).
The more we have investigated it, the more it has confirmed itself; and the more it has been seen to verify itself where we look, the more it shows specifications for which we have not looked. It has been, to put a very minimal parallel, like a new sports car: the more you try it, the more it surprises you. Yet in this world, this word in the full open company of almost an infinitude of events over history, needs no review, no revision; history itself is controlled, performing with precise submission to prophecy and, as our Pathology Department has just shown, even the diseases of the rebellious go according to plan. With a planner like God, what would you expect! It is when men play God that, as European Communism has so starkly shown in 1990-1991, they mess it up... When indeed, He came, they provided Calvary4.
Now, however, it is time to look back in a different review, to cover some of the features of the unblessed systems of unbelief in that Mighty Rock whose word this is, and to see how they fare from our forward post, in comparison with our Rock (cf. Deuteronomy 32:31: "For their Rock is not like our rock ...").
Their torturous contrivances, irrational writhings, desperate efforts to make a picture, remain like rejected artists' sketches, as was shown above. They do not permit selection, if our minds are to be used; and if minds are not used, then we forego a testing technique, leaving man in the dust of destiny, with will pursuing what reason denies.
Reason, as we have seen, cannot create divine revelation; but it can distinguish what will not do. The presumption of reason awry is to create gods; the folly of unreason is to let them stay.
The MIGHTY ROCK is by comparison, even after we have left the rest behind on the way, evidenced like Everest, before foothills: more, like the heights of the heavens compared with anthills where little things bite, and do not rest.
Whilst strictly, this Section is not necessary for our purpose, the case being already proven as we proceeded, yet for some, a somewhat closer look at noticeable anthills may be helpful, an exercise in anticipation, before looking again into the heavens.
One of the elements of the PEACE OF TRUTH, our immediately following consideration (p. 983 infra) is the consistency, persistency and consummate accuracy of articulation of what it provides; of what, in this case, is written. The defilement of this consistency, of this persistency and this accurate articulation, is one of the negative properties which shows up in false claimants to the status of the word of God... where indeed anything rational is provided at all! Let us illustrate.
The Roman Catholic body provides a good example. Parties have arisen in it, pushing now this, now that doctrine. 'Fathers' have said this and that, over the centuries during which the 'Canon Law' has been compiled; so that it almost becomes a romance of adventure to seek to compile their utterances, for sheer diversity. Some hold starkly to Christ and some are church-based: one Pope indeed (Leo II) declaring heretical the doctrine of a predecessor (Honorius) as did Church Councils and Pope for 800 years. (Cf. Dr. Laird Harris, Fundamental Protestant Doctrine, II, p. 13; The NewSchaffHerzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, V, p. 353; Lorraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, Ch.'s 4, 6, 11.) Yet 'they', these 'fathers' should be believed... What would you believe; but rather Christ (Matthew 23:8-10), who covered the case by forbidding such practice from the first (cf. also Mark 7:7).
Evolutionists also differ and diverge as did the Pharisees and Sadducees of old. Of these latter groups, some stressed the rigours of law, not to mention, as in the case of Rome, their own additions; some declined from the doctrines of 'orthodoxy'. Sad claims, before the eye of reality, weakly crumble.
Jesus for His part was severe on traditional-itis, where men became their own measure, suppressing and repressing scripture in the name of their own long-held views... the views of preferred workers. Thus in Mark 7:7, we read Christ's own stricture that they were "teaching as doctrines, the commandments of men", showing from His divine authority that this is a spurious rather than a curious practice! Indeed this procedure drew from Him the comment: "In vain do they worship me", in concurrence with Isaiah's words which Christ there quoted. In fact, God, as we have seen, expressly disallows all additions to His word, as Proverbs 30:6 makes abundantly clear, even to those not familiar with Deuteronomy 4 and 12, and Revelation's last Chapter. (See Appendix D.)
The Presbyterian practice here, of acknowledging the Bible as the supreme doctrinal standard and having the Westminster Confession or its system as a subordinate standard, one always open to challenge, itself declaring that councils have erred, and refusing to have anything bound on the conscience beyond the word of God, is in essence apt, though like other endeavours, it needs to be practised with the same zeal as the writers of the Confession expressed on such matters. There is only one name which is relied on; the rest, this is a matter of Biblical scrutiny under His authority. Traditions, then, are possible contributors of aid, but must be watched; for their usurpation of the place of the word of God is a constant evil, epitomised in Rome.
Now traditions either add to doctrine or they do not: if they do, they are expressly disallowed. If they do not, then they are not in our field here, being matters merely of interest. If however they come to be bound as determinative doctrine, or in any way relating to doctrine, then in this new status they are again excluded. This occurs even if they are not more than regulative of interpretation: for that is adding to the word of God by expanding or restricting meaning, by means of sources other than itself. The addition of an axe is no less a breach than the addition of a branch. God speaks: let man be silent in any matter of authority which adds man to the word of God. Such additions make void the word of God (Mark 7:13). Again:
The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? says the Lord.So Jeremiah delineates the beginning and the end with the word of God - (23:8). You start where God starts and finish where He finishes, asserting nothing of yourself. Obviously it is otherwise - not His word.
Rome on the one hand, then illustrates the force of divergences, and contrary concepts in its traditional approach to scripture; and its traditions can erupt at any time in new additions. Interestingly, the theory of organic evolution is quite similar: its many variants agreeing neither with each other nor, in this case, the observable facts of nature (the work as distinct from the word of God in this instance). Thus naturalism, both theological and biological, founders.
For some time, evolution, for its part, has exhibited worries and flurries into such varied mutants as 'quantum evolution'; chance mutation of slender proportions; 'hopeful monster' evolution; 'punctuated equilibrium' - evolution that seems oddly enough to specialise in the full stop; while it has moved into collisions in different recastings of thought, as to where this imaginative and wholly imaginary process of evolution went and why, in times past. It apparently 'went' without being detectable at all!
Neither in traditional Rome nor in contemporary choices in evolution, do we have any peace! Again, divergent from the Bible, even some Protestants also join the ranks of chaotic-seeming clangour. Your Barths, Brunners, Tillichs, Bultmanns are merely famous name varieties of gala god sessions in book format, teaching ever new and divergent divertissements - anything from depersonalised god, to desupernaturalised Christ: unknowable god hidden in the vapours, it seems, of his theologian's breath (cf. II Peter 2:1-3 with verse 18).
Here is another utterly precise prediction-fulfilment: read the materials such speakers produce, and judge! The prediction here is that towards the end of the Age (and II Peter 3 is dramatic on the terminus for which it is a sign post), popular false teachers will come with with "destructive heresies". We saw that, and we find it as one of the characteristics of such movements at such a late time in church history; and to these, the sects are super-added in their enormous popularity. There is no peace and no unison in all this; except perhaps, in the latter case, the spirit of worldliness (*1A - p. 1031C) which speaks with many dissonant mouths, all doctrinally harmonised in this one thing, that they reject the living God who spoke His verified word in the Bible alone.
"GREAT SWELLING WORDS OF VANITY" (II Peter 2:18) is the designation reserved for the verbalising and the oratory of the anti-Biblical, pseudo-Christian, false prophesying phenomenon in view... for what these religionists utter; and the accuracy of this description given thousands of years ago, as if it were this morning, is astounding.
In Pathology (pp.
837-877 supra), we saw some of the works of such speakers: concepts
that crumble in the mouth, like apple charlotte lavishly spread with the
whipped cream of appeals to different elements of the human
psyche. Prominent in this, is the redefining of basic Biblical terms,
to complete the confusion; so that you can gain such verbal manipulation
as this piece of theological chiropractic: "In the man Jesus, God is not
only the 'electing creator, but also the elected creature'," (Van Til quoting
Karl Barth, in the former's work: Karl Barth and Evangelicism, p.
17). If the infinite Creator can BE the creature, rather than Biblically
take that form (Philippians 2:5-8), then words have no meaning... Airy,
they 'swell'! That however is precisely the form and function of this deviation,
making voluminous verbal vacuity, with 'swelling words', appear as if the
acme of acuity, the badge of belief; while denying it with
anti-Biblical licence, with a devoutly linked impudence and irrelevance. The 'school' for this sort of thing is called in its opposition, neo-orthodox.
Philosophy too does not solve its problems, so its exponents likewise do not agree, warring as individuals or in 'schools'. From the days of Heraclitus and Parmenides to today, change and stability, essences and abstractions, pragmatics and dogmatics continue to oscillate, returning in new dress, frequently the 'ultimate'; but never delivering on the ultimatum: "But why You!" When the ear itches, any finger will do; and when this Biblical prediction (II Timothy 4:3-4, 1 Timothy 4:1, II Peter 2:1) is fulfilled, any doctrine will do, provided always and only, that it is not sound. That is the itch.
Major axes of church development can come from a tiny contribution like that of Joel, a prophet with miniscule dimensions of space but almost unbounded time scope (for example 2:28-32), one part being quoted by Peter in explanation of the massive works at Pentecost. Indeed, you can draw and even gain a comprehension of doctrines, like that of the Messiah from a whole mass of complementary developing contributions, say here from Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Micah, I Samuel, Genesis, in perfect harmony and crystal-like composition, though from different pens, times and cultures. You can take them consecutively like a detective, or concurrently like a synthetic chemist... and on and on. The quality of composition is perfect. They match, fit, cohere, coalesce at times; they grow like the very 'natural' scenes we have been accustomed to seeing from the Creator's hand, in the botanical scheme of things. They form assemblage with entourage.
Like desert flowers, you may find these Biblical books after years and years of study, providing some new delight of composite construction. Their capacity for sustaining careful scrutiny, and refreshing it with a response, both reasonable and stirring a sense of relish, seems unlimited. It is rather like resonance: a note here is felt, is echoed in sounds in many another place, all mutually reinforcing. Stimulating, challenging, uncontrived in mere stylistic preciousness, but precious in word and spirit, like pure sound, the Bible's speech comes with an authenticity that needs no striving.
You find people like Daniel (Chapter 9), consulting and considering the claims and promises elsewhere in the book of the Lord (cf. Isaiah 34:16) - here in Jeremiah concerning the 70 year exile (Jeremiah 25:11). You find Christ weaving numerous elements and extending them as naturally as a baby's hand growing in the womb: it seems organically from one source, and in one sense, programmed into compilation - by an awesomely quiet and mysterious form of co-operation. Such is the internal harmony and mutual consorting of the Biblical components, verifying its source.
In this case of this book, it is not however, over months, as for a foetus, but over some 15 centuries that it happens; and the death penalty quietly awaited as we saw (Deuteronomy 18), those who misused the office of prophet. Thus, just as the outcome of His word was guaranteed by God (e.g. Joel 2:11, Isaiah 55:10-11), so is the case with the in-coming, the call and work of the prophet; for this is statedly supplied by the only One who could make such things happen (cf. Ezekiel 12:25-13:23, Jeremiah 23, and 1 Peter 1:10-12, II Peter 1:21, 1 Corinthians 2:9-13).
As if this were not enough for marvelling, this same scripture has other notable harmonies. It provides a harmony for religion and reason (noted supra for example, pp. 270, 3 ff. and passim), by satisfying every legitimate seeking, and meeting moreover, every basic problem of thought that has broken on the centuries of man's enquiries into basic matters (Chapter 5 supra illustrates). Nothing stands before it and the perspective it provides. Like locusts, it 'eats' the opposition; and what is more, it says so (Jeremiah 23:28-29 in total context of exposition throughout the chapter). It eliminates by its conceptual provisions, duly applied, such imagined antimonies as Immanuel Kant sweated out (as pointed out in some detail in my Predestination and Freewill, pp. 228 ff.).
It collates incomparably, concepts of majesty with an ease and grace that is astounding. (Cf. Chapter 7, Section 5 pp. 560-569 supra, where salvation-and-creation is in view.) Its elements may be assembled - almost as if prefabricated. Its predictions, as we have noted continually, proceed to be fulfilled with an inexorability which made it seem necessary for us to deal with the whole topic of foreknowledge first, simply to understand how this could be (supra Chapter 8, Section 1).
Beyond all this, its references before the event, to the Messiah are now known to the studious reader, if they were not indeed before, for they are often told and have been a focus of attention for thousands of years, of scholars in scores of countries, and devotees of Christ by the million. There is a prophetic devotion to the distant figure of the predicted Messiah, with all the intensity one might have expected, if He had already served on earth for years; and there is moreover a coverage of events, from ancient times, as in Daniel, before and after His advent, with all the aplomb of a professor dealing with events 1900-1950, with prior and subsequent knowledge.
There is, in short, a preciousness about this word, a sovereignty and a majesty, which is merely heightened by the all but stunning thought that this book was wrought through men, sometimes quite ordinary in cultural accomplishments, while bridging centuries of diverse culture, and living in different nations in times of prosperity and famine, triumph and defeat, carnage and conquest. It is an expression so momentous and yet so multiple in form, so magnifying of the Lord in message, and so consistent in content: without a hint of enervating sameness!
This last is a feature so notable in the Gospels of Jesus Christ that it fulfils any expectation of wonder and miracle and ... the unexpected, which might be hoped for in a direct, intervening act of God: for to speak, is to intervene when what is said, is done. They bear resemblance to some honest scientists, with total and refreshing candour, and with great zeal seeking one thing: to show what they saw and heard; and indeed in so many words, both John the Baptist and apostles said that it was this they did, must do, or was being done (Acts 4:20, 1 John 1:1, John 3:32). Yet there is more.
Just as there are external aspects to the face of the peace of truth, like the mist-anointed granite faces of huge Rocky Mountains soaring into the limitless-looking sublimity of the skies, so there are internal aspects no less. This is not the enduement of physiological or psychological strategy, which subdues nature to the necessities of desire, or seeks to do so; this is a peace which surpasses understanding, by no means limited to these grounds, nor yet divorced from them, but moving like sunshine into the lower earth, penetrating now here, now there, the leafy cover of the planet (cf. Philippians 4:6). In one sense, similarly, the sun IS there; but its radiance may also practically be found in reliable relationship to its position.
It is the case, and Chapters 4 and 6 supra have provided material in this area, that the inward peace of the practising Christian does pass all understanding, as the ocean depths pass all the superficial currents and waves. It is a conferment, not an attainment; a comradeship with the Almighty, neither through abstraction from 'desire' not attraction of nothingness: it works by grace with truth, in the perspective of the Prince of Peace, who is peaceful. All this, in comparison with false religion, is like flowers in the presence of plastic. These have reality, life and, among them, fragrance.
If this peace has not been brought very much to the fore herein, it is not because it is not to the fore; but because it is more difficult to display; and as such, and being not necessary either, it is merely noticed. Nevertheless its price is beyond the pockets of millionaires, and many of them would give, were it necessary, all they have to acquire it.
This grace of Jesus Christ is free, as air was, before it was polluted; the grace and gift by grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, alive from the dead, IS free, though many false religions would pollute it. Thus it is becoming, in a work on apologetics, both to provide what IS found in the Bible in a way that helps the misled, bringing out its directness beyond the reach of those Sadducees who neither enter nor suffer others to do so - of whom Christ spoke; and to categorise something of the confused contradictions of what must be cleared away (Luke 11:52), like garden rubbish, from the flower bed of truth. Then may this inward reality be tasted in all its fulness, and people may verify this also: "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). It is important, for this purpose, that there be no substitute of a plastic apple, flower or philosophy.
Hence the importance not only of the Parts to follow; but of the second SECTION in its specialised excursion, on the topic of the famed religion of Rome, prototype of pollution, and plague of peace.
Page 986 continued in the next section
1. Seeking mutant 'advance', credulous worshippers of this kind may misname crass folly as youthful advance, while bikini-moralled children, fostered in evolutionary myth, not re-born but denatured, may wound, abuse, torture or kill younger children, grasping at life - while divorced from it.
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2. Cf. Deuteronomy 32:17 - ''they sacrificed to devils, not to God ... to new gods that came newly up'' ''new arrivals'' (NKJV) - cf. pp. 305 ff. supra. 986-990, 993; 1037-1086 infra. The Jews rebuked by their own prophets, do not have a monopoly on this imperious practice! - forecast in its singularity and its multiplicity for our era, by Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:11,24). Have not Muhammad and the Pope have been very inventive, stark verifications of God's prediction! As foretold, many come, many follow them. Quasi-Christs, false prophets ... are in!
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3. Acts 3:19-21.
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4. Man's ultimate mess - but God had it subdued to plan (Acts 3:17-20, 2:23).
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