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WOUNDS OR WOES.
IT IS NOT AS SOME SUPPOSE
REDEMPTION OR RENEGACY
It is always interesting to go back to the beginnings. You hear of the beginning of the love and romance that led to a beautiful marriage, to an enduring interest, to the foundation of this world, to the rescue of people from its woes, which are not as many suppose.
Where did it all begin ? It began in God as often shown on this site. But where did the drama begin ? In a sense, it is always dramatic for anyone of significance to begin things. What sort of significance, that is the question. Is a mafia outfit significant ? It is so only in the sense that flies are, for they are such a nuisance and need to be ... treated.
Significance thus is not a sufficient term for our concern and our interest. We need to see something more definitive. Salutary significance ... salutary ? But then, what is health ? and what is healthy ? The question is not very hard to answer at the physical level, but at the spiritual ?
People can have cars and boats, houses and lands, social institutions including convenient, man-pleasing churches (like boiled sweets, nice in a way, but not so good for the teeth when they want to get into the heart of things); and yet is this spiritual health ? Is it to kill for the thrill, or fight for the drill, or rush for the fill ? Some seem to think so. However it is not so very healthy, on the other side, when the knife serves an insistent urge founded on nothing but the empty notions of the impassioned mind.
Is it then to work hard and have two boats, for good measure ? But sail ? where ? and when ? and what of the storm ? and is movement the answer to meaning ? How!
Health MUST include well-being, to be sure, but being well - for what! One well remembers a Punch Magazine cartoon in which the young blade is seen by his uncle, going off for tennis in a setting of brio and sun, and telling the aging relative, Got to keep fit! ... Fit for what ? asks the Uncle.
Well-being for the sake of being well still begs the question, for what IS well in spirit ?
What is the purpose for mankind, for a man, for a person young or old, male or female, let us not be bogged down in needless sub-distinctions ? What is it well that they do ?
You can do many things well, but is it well that you do them ?
Meaning cannot come by some chance universe in which cogs turn, fuels burn, atoms chatter, impacts stutter, words utter from meaningless minds with a mantra pre-occupation to keep them going in some unknown direction, can it! But then a chance universe is not even a possible thought, in terms of logical validity, at all. If it WERE all chance, then the word would have to have relevant meaning.
What is that meaning ? Its meaning is simply this: that in some system, there is no purposive or personal input to direct it beyond its natural parameters. It just happens as it is, alone, unaided, unimpeded, uninvaded, unpervaded, unladen with responsibilities beyond, unresponsive to powers that are not its own (or those of its ilk).
That is merely an abstraction however; for the system, in a world of logic, and if we were in some other then good-bye, farewell, auf wiedershein, as the song in the Sound of Music has it! If you do not use reason, then you are not even in the contest to find what logic requires, and cannot even exhibit in words the very differentiae of the referents, which require categorisation and correlation in order to be specified; and hence reason.
If then you have a system, then not magic but method makes it. Method requires the input of reason, which requires its existence, and its adequacy for it is is inadequate, it will not succeed by definition, in the task; and if it failed, we would not have the system. But voilà, it is the system of which we are speaking!
If then, to resume, you have a system, and we are speaking broadly of what is operative as one in all respects and climes, places and styles in the universe, then you require its Intelligent, Reasoning Maker (IRM); for if it were a programmed putation, it would require, as simply one of the systems, the same as the rest, so that we return to the IRM.
The IRM however is not part of a system, as just described, but their maker, and as such, is not at all their butt or victim, but their overseer and creator. So where is this famous chance ? It is merely an abstraction for the concept of an intrusive purpose not being present, for argument's sake.
However, for truth's sake, the IRM IS present. How personally He elects to be present is His business. As to the use of the pronoun 'Him', it is merely a form since the male has tended to take the lead in history as far as names go, and since persons are the minimum for the making of the same, as far as principial power is concerned.
Therefore, to enable the intelligence to be relevant, we use 'He'. It is not at all relevant to gender, since obviously this is part of a system, programmed, automated, input relevant, and is not per se applicable to the IRM. Of course, since as we have often seen on this site (e.g. SMR Ch. 1), He HAS come to this earth in the format of a person, even in the mankind version of it, there was THEN for that advent, adventure and format, a gender relevance. This is no more essential to the matter, however, than is an Army Great Coat relevant to what wears it; for it can be put off, and left hanging up, without in any way compromising the personality of the wearer of yore.
Obviously, then, in a system, and as a person within it, before one can do well, one must know what one is for ... one's purpose. If you see a fountain pen, and still are left wondering what it is for, it is difficult for you to find out whether it is doing well. As a mini-fork for olives, it might taint the green with blue. As a pin, for awakening sleepers, it might be blunt. You could imagine many uses for it, and as to some highly complex, advanced, inventive and specialised electronic equipment, if you met it in the raw, that is, without introduction, you might indeed wonder what ON EARTH the thing is for! You need to understand.
The only way, short of total knowledge, you could hope to do this, would be to speak to its maker. When there is only one Maker, and the universe is the issue, then this sort of talking is special and requires care; and without this Maker, the sort of knowledge as a mere participant in the MAKING that you would have, is of necessity inadequate to answer the question. You could guess, but to found life on a guess is not only risk-taking to make all casinos look sure things by comparison, whereas their custom decidedly is to make a profit, and not from geese or swans but man; it is also absurd pretension, since to read the mind of God requires an infinity of understanding to match His, and even then, His permission. It is necessary for impartation from the divine.
This is by no means to say or even suggest that some things are not even at that perfectly clear. You should not hurt His equipment, and so not kill. You should not distort the facts about what He has done, and so not lie. You should have true and due regard for the ones who, in the patterned, programmed and procured matrix, are your parents, and so honour them, and so on.
However, in what way do you MOST honour them ? Why, in doing what you are meant for; but they, like yourself, are part of the entirety made. SOME ONE MUST find out what man is meant for, and if available, what individual people are meant for, if there is to be well-being, and we may know that people are in fact, and not in mere psychological fiction, doing well. Similarly, this sort of knowledge is necessary if we are to find out whether or not a man, and people in greater numbers, are ... fit. Fit ... for what ?
There is here a certain lack in the apprehension in man without aureole, without information, without impartation from his Source. Hence they war in words and in steel, with radioactivity and cerebral activity, in deviously and deceit, this not least, since they are convinced in their own little uninformed but imaginative selves of this and that, as the mood, mode and fashion changes over the centuries, and now, even the decades. War is on, and knowledge is off, where it matters most, man's well-being and how he is to do well, how indeed he is to relate to what is his creation, his IRM, and for what he is made.
Here we have an IRM and mankind the most prodigious collation of concepts and commands, internalised, miniaturised to the uttermost and far beyond our own capacities as Michael Denton has in detail pointed out (q.v.), to achieve in our own right (or wrong, if doing what is not fitting, which is always open till it is found out what IS fitting); and what is the point ?
People are very properly concerned at such a question. It is not only unwise to be superficially smug that one is to make money, have children and die nicely, after living comfortably, as if this were some obvious purpose. That is in fact worse, in that it is a way of avoiding the issue. Ignorance through avoidance is not only not commendable; it is deleterious to truth and hence both safety and wisdom.
For what do you exist as a person, and possibly, by procreation, aid others to engage in, having the same scope ?
The Maker being the only possible exponent of truth on the point, and of necessity both exponent and true, being not against Himself, whose works are all free and without limit from beyond or any other source which betokens mere programmatic intrusion, and whose words do not contradict that same Being who has acted, as if in some limitation warfare*1A: it is from what He has to say that one must learn the crucial, the vital and the pertinent facts.
Now you come to the anti-fundamentalist obsession, which ought really to be added to the other flavours in the psychiatric models of madness ,or at least, models of mental disrepute. Some are so afraid of having the Maker mouth anything, as if He were to be likened to the ultimate, austere and rather unfeeling Headmaster, that they will become so irrational that atoms might be thought purposive marvels by comparison, in their fearful flights to escape this. As to God, they dote on His very absence.
This is not so much in word (since this is not instantly backed up), or in form (since this is often imagined, and frequently both imaginatively created and imaginary in kind in so many religions of custom and culture, power and glory for man, mankind or some segment of the same)' but merely in FACT! Anything savouring of fact becomes if not merely undesirable, then often obnoxious to the unbelieving heart, set in its ways like the elephant stirred, and running on the rampage
Since however the word is in fact backed up in power, the more you study it the worse it is for human autonomy which, though an impossible dream for those consigned to birth and death without their will (except for the latter in the negative case of suicide), is often found like other narcotics, rather attractive for the time. It can come in religious or irreligious packages, with ostensible 'submission' one of its disguises, for the submission can be to men, to swords and to the opening of veins, not to faith which knows no violence for its parameters (cf. John 18:36, contrast Divine Agenda Ch. 6 *1B .) Hence the 'fundamentalist' furore,
as if the Islamic violence and vile torture
so often associated with many of its practitioners on the world stage,
were in some way, because it is
allegedly based on a revelation
the same as
for any other religious revelation in obnoxiousness or at least undesirability!
(cf. The Biblical Workman, Appendix 3).
With ludicrous disregard of logic, then, many thus come to regard the Bible as obnoxious, as if this were some sort of erudite excuse. On the contrary, its mode is love, its weapon is truth, its power is for redemption and its mode excludes violence. How foolish is this verbal twisting and distortion which disdains thought, ignores fact and acts to implement fiction with the solemnity of the very drunk!
However, the Bible has shown*1 its unique validity, cogent character, consistent concepts, cohesive strength, predictive power, moral force, Personal Vitality in exposing its own Author, in Jesus Christ, who in turn has done all of these things once again, but directly and not merely in writing, so that it is very simply a matter of finding out what it says.
Now it is clear what He says, that we have sinned, do sin, continue to aggravate in sin our delusive world structure of culture and self-containment, are rebellious as a race, contemn His cautions, or ignore His exhortations, despise His remedies, in large numbers, so that such conduct as this is the very nature of the world system of culture, politics, economics, things academic and literary, philosophic and religious. (Cf. I John 5:19, John 14:30-31, I John 3:10-15, Ephesians 4:17-19, Ephesians 2, Romans 2, 6:23, Isaiah 1, 64:6.)
To be sure, millions may be converted, repentant, redeemed and restored by receiving the Divine Remedy of the Divine Redeemer, but even there, multitudes of false christs and false prophets, just as Christ predicted (Matthew 24:24, 24:12), confuse even the most simple things, and the Gospel itself is a subject of diabolical invasion attempts, like a sort of negatively-directed D-day for Europe (cf. News 122, and Things Old and New Chs. 9,10 Epilogue, Appendix. Love as Christ declared it in Matthew 24, is growing cold as it was ordained to do, as the prognosis of the Human Disease, that sydrome of sin working to its convulsive conclusion, proceeds on its harassing way.
Without love, there is misunderstanding, violent competition in which not attainment but possession is the prize, strenuous servitude to the taskmaster of superiority, triumphalism, pride and the attendant falls which blindness always secures in the end; so that not only is the Biblical mode lost with degradation as if of God, but in fact of those taking such licence, but the Biblical GOD is also left without that love in which He moves, together with adequate and just insight, which makes for peace, prosperity and the absence of enormities based on illusion.
CELESTIAL POSITIONING REVELATION
Well-being, then, consists in being well-directed to what you are fit and fitted for, by God, and having strength to perform it. To what however are you directed by God ?
Man is fitted for no good thing until redeemed from sin, restored to divine knowledge, brought back to the word of God by the living Word of God incarnate and crucified to achieve this redemption effectually and freely, so that those who receive Him might have authority to become the children of God (John 1, 3), and accept the authority of both the Redeemer and His own word (cf. I Peter 1:10ff., John 14:26, Luke 6:46, I John 2:27). When however brought back, then he finds the truth, the taste for it, the heart for it the Spirit of God aiding in comprehending it (Ephesians 1:17); and so finding both the plan of salvation and the Person who is Saviour, and with Him, the Lord who is commander-in-chief of his heart and Teacher of his mind, he is then in no doubt about what he is fitted for, equipped to do.
It is like joining the Army, for it has requirements of order and action; but it is unlike it in this, that the Commander in Chief is available to all His troops, that the fight is worthy to infinity, not to inflict harm but to achieve good, that it is personal and not merely strategically programmed; yet for all that, it is exquisite in wisdom and explicit in grace, since the Lord of it all, is the Maker of the men who bear arms, the arms of truth, and of the women who provide mercies, so that all in one great family find the function of faith in love.
But what is man equipped to do ? It is for one and for all to do what is the wisdom of God to provide, and if some reject it, it is no less their duty. What then of the one who takes up his equipment and receives his Redeemer ? what is he then prepared for, directed to, aimed at and in what does his action consist ?
It is to serve and love God with all heart and mind and soul and strength, and to love his neighbour as himself.
This does NOT mean supine acquiescence in a neighbour's errors, for one would not want to have been left alone, if not knowing God, as a matter of reflection, on finding Him, but rather to be sought out, and actively moved to find Him.
Of course, I should not enjoy being invaded with endless force, or continual entreaty as if time were not available to think, or as if 'no' had no meaning; but it would be fitting for me to be enduringly sought with wit and wisdom, grace and persistence. This, in retrospect, I would appreciate! Many people are not keen, for instance, to be told to give up smoking, but when ten years later, and having at last given it up, they see others die of that from which they themselves are now delivered, they do not regret the urgency and wit of the one or ones who sought them out from the smoking pit.
There is to be sure, a play there: there is the medical pit of smoking, and there is the smoking spiritual pit of life. The one is merely a symbol of the other; but our interest is the other, the spiritual.
|To what then is a man directed ?
It is -
|To find God, to
know God, to find His word,
to follow His instructions, to receive His redemption, to delight in His peace,
to take joy in His radiant reality, to keep close in heart to His Spirit,
to find wisdom by His promises and to relish His premisses, which He has built for man,
even the New Covenant in the blood of Christ,
the victory over this world which is by faith (I John 5:4)
and the personal availability of divine power for His service (Ephesians 1:19).
GENERATIONS AWRY AND AMISS
and ENGENDERING OF REDEMPTION
It is then, our current interest to look back to how it began, to understand the more sensitively how it proceeds, and for the matter of that, how it is ending, for like a fire in its end hour, after burning readily all the evening, its glows its last with an appearance which is quite clear - it is near its end. On that, parables apart, see Answers to Questions Ch. 5.
Let us note from Genesis, the book of beginnings, an initial input. First, there is the test situation for man. As with many tests, it is eminently practical, pointed and essential. The essence is this: Man is in a good environment genetically, ready to become a 'kind', physically, the surrounds of his spirit as of his body being well designed and carefully prepared. The latter, despite some thousands of years of reproduction of the design by that part of the design designed for this purpose -
(you don't see Empire State Buildings extending their life span by this particular method of procreation, since it was not part of the design - far too hard for man! and they are simple by comparison with our bodies as pure, pragmatic fact),
presents irrefutable evidence of its care and industry.
It is STILL FAR BETTER than what we can do. What we have for our work, our lives, is incomparable equipment beyond the whole range of human invention; and this is merely a fact. It is CATEGORICALLY better, since we cannot create the capacity to think discursively or even wilfully. It is SUPERNALLY better than what we can create, since we cannot create what can seek God, or even meaningful fellowship with others.
It is, for its part, despite these thousands of years, still by inspection, most brilliantly crafted; and it still shows it.
As to the garden, the environment of the original test, it is as noted in the text of Genesis, not available, and indeed, this is not merely casually, but systematically so, in view of the curse on the earth which came for the failed test resultant (part of the death scenario - cf. Romans 8:18ff., and Biblical Blessings Ch. 7). However, beyond all this, things pass in this temporary universe, as its three laws so well show (cf. Creation, in That Magnificent Rock), and the word of God clearly declares (Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35, II Peter 3), all of which are in perfect conformity to the word of God as the above reference exhibits in detail.
Accordingly, we must use in one point, the environment, our imagination to move back in time to the first beginning for man. Let us take, however, our equipment which is still visible, with us, and this makes it far easier, albeit it is now in a somewhat shameful state in the arena of sublime perspectives, when outside its Maker.
What then is the nature of this initial test of man ?
DO NOT is part of the test. They had work to do, in naming created things, and they had life to live, things to develop, wonders to discover, but there was the test. How would the first man meet it ?
The test was not so much set for a time limit, as exams normally are, but for a life limit. They quite simply were not to try to taste, to eat the fruit of a tree. A tree can be beautiful and to my mind, most are, some fascinating as well, and magnificent when fully grown. It can be almost like a wound to me when some deliciously high, magnificently festooned tree, replete with blossoms and so knowledgeable about its ways, times and seasons, is simply cut down. Of course, if it is very sick, it may be better, and to return directly to our point, man is very sick.
His sickness festers like sores, in the Sudan, in the sovereignty squalor that still seems to be tempting Russia, in the Aids crisis that not only extends from Africa to South-East Asia, but to China, to Europe, as if charmed to obey the divine prediction of man's ways, and their outcomes (cf. Revelation 6). Man ravages reality in his foolish philosophic imaginations, and accordingly he is ravaged: what would you expect, except for the forbearance and the longsuffering of God, which stretches over these millenia! As for man's waywardness, it is like that of some tree that insisted on trying to put its branches downward. It simply does not fit.
It was not always so. The principle from the first was clear; and the way it is voided, to the last, is queer.
This, it is a definite human invention, to do the saucy thing, the unspiritual, the ungodly. It is a simple misuse of the marvellous faculty of freedom. Without this, neither love nor meaning can find rails; but with it, the scope for folly is transcontinental.
In the first test, man did not have the results of the failure of this test, that have come by inheritance to this race, like shipping sent on. At the first, he had only the opportunity to fail it, or of course, to pass. Passing meant the continuation of that consultative comradeship with God which is the first and prime need of man, after - of course - the washing of the keel of his misguided ship.
What was the response to the first test, that arboreal in form, but spiritual in reality ? The tree became a subject of romantic thinking, it seems. Certainly, the point was reached when man became, in the woman part at first, readily capable of being tempted. What if, said the Tempter (freely supplied with the test), what if God is merely holding out on you, with guileful guilt seeking to maintain a superiority which look! you can overcome by becoming LIKE HIM. Eat and you will KNOW ? Is this not what His words imply ? Doesn't the name 'tree of the knowledge of good and of evil' show just that! So eat and know, and grow and be comparable to God Himself!
That appears as the tenor of the evil temptation. It was bombastic, absurd, untrue, twisted truth into lie, held a non sequitur and so was irrational; but it appealed. What God had said by no means implied any such thing (Genesis 2:17).
Oh what a shallow thing is a man who is not like 'one of us' (Genesis 3:5), and does not belong to that superb category of gods!
Such was the tenor of the temptation which Eve suffered, and not too unwillingly, endured. The thought took root, sent up spouts, grew leaves, budded and blossomed even faster than the arrival of the blossoms on Aaron's rod (cf. Numbers 17). Ah yes! She ate, disobeyed, set philosophy above truth, and found death the award for the performance, as stated from the first.
How shallow the sin's foundation! IF God really had really been trying to hide from man the way to comparative power, to being like Him, why on earth should He make the means so available! Of all the ridiculous temptations one could imagine, this must win a prominent prize!
This, however, is the nature of sin. It is not very clever, very wise, but rather mongoloid in some ways. Its propulsion, apart from pride or rebellion of spirit or both, or more even than this in the subtle realms of satanic darkness, is LUST.
Lust is not careful about things. It wants and that is that. If the case is improbable, then the imagination of man can be harnessed to make it seem plausible. As shown in the references in *1 below, this is precisely the case with the foolish and febrile philosophy of organic evolution. Its relationship to scientific method and logic is not tenuous; it is vapid, like clouds that bear no water, a house built on air. It is comical. Such has been shown on this site from multiplied aspects, and the references noted are some of them. Useless except to fanaticism or lust, it is yet popular. So was the case with Eve. Ludicrous as was the satanic suggestion, she fell for it, as a maiden falls for some slick and spoilt man of thrust, only to regret it for the rest of her dominated life.
In this case, it was a family affair, Adam joining with the same folly, and thus the full wonder of a glorious potential, through an odious misuse, loomed into world history, as the moon might loom above the earth if, out of control in the spatial dynamics, it became a missile. This time ? It was not like a romantic light, not to mention its actual purpose, a night light, but rather was it like an al Qaeda rebuke, that tribe getting its own divine come-uppance with a rather larger flying object hitting the earth itself. That, incidentally, is also to happen to this earth (Revelation 8:7,19), and objectively has often come close to happening as we have noted on this site before, from astronomical and empirical data.
Both the pair, male and female, creating to pro-create but not to downgrade what they pro-created, nevertheless did just that. It was not that there was no hope -- no, it was not that, for God at once (Genesis 3:15), promised what would become a counter-sin insurgency of celestial power to overcome not only sin but the devilish advocate who suggested and seeks it (cf. Hebrews 2): and this, it was in terms a human who rising above the sin of man would rescue him.
Not as fallen would man conquer Satan, the adversary of subtlety and vainglory, but as God had made man, so would He rescue him with His own purity and power, impregnable, immovable, triumphant. The seed of woman would crush the satanic power at its head and source.
Thus, for man, this was the first exploration, the experiment better not made, the misuse of capacities most gloriously bonded and bounded, with which he most futilely absconded, with no more wisdom than that of a mouse, rushing as if chased by a cat, from a cat that was not there, to one, unseen, that was ...
Falling from heights of benediction to depths of despair, man became one needing a cover, and the promise was there in what is sometimes called the protevangelium. Seen in Genesis 3:15, the initial phase of John 3:16, is the first dawn of the Gospel.
Now children come. Cain and Abel now adorn the earth. That is the development recorded in Genesis 4.
What is to be the nature of these, nurtured in a family where sin has soiled the sky of thought and eroded the mountains of motivation ? We shall see.
There is approach to God. Now that they are out of the garden, and the spiritual and physical environment is soiled, spoiled, there is need of return, if not to the guarded garden, then to the Governor.
For approach to God, Cain chooses work of his hands, some grain; but Abel finds fitting the sacrifice which betokens sin, acknowledges it and seeks its resolution with humility and realism. In Genesis 4, we see that Cain's self-made product, a mere extension of his own life by his own means, is not at all divinely satisfactory.
Let us take up the narrative.
At this, Cain was very angry, instead of repenting when God said, "If you do well, will you not be accepted ? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it," like his parents, he thought of a novel course. After all, in these words of God, just cited, there is an indication of error, a prescription of what should be the case, a diagnosis of the error. Why did not Cain change course, acknowledge that there was no contest with Abel, just a personal failure, and do it right ? Sin can snarl like a vast traffic mix-up, and indeed even become sedate and vicious at the same time, as if light lacking, there will at least be lust.
He did not CHOOSE so to do. Return in repentance to act rightly, this was not to be his way.
Stretching out his hand, exquisitely made to do right and sound things, he destroyed the physical life of Abel. Murder was his method. He acted like one intoxicated, which is what sin does to its victims. He would destroy what DID please God, if he did not. He would not ALLOW anyone doing right to live in his disorderly and rank presence.
Thus did CAIN, second reported son of Adam, in slaughtering Abel; and he did very much what Islamic terrorists with their bizarre and devilish beheadings, are now doing. Islam does not have a sacrificial system, but is based on works, those of prayer, alms, deeds, just as Cain's offering was - the one which God refused to accept. We saw that Cain was very angry, instead of repenting when God analysed his failure, like a good and helpful examiner, slew what did better.
That is another aspect of Islam, fighting, and battle honours are large in its repertoire, even able to reach to heaven for those who execute them (cf. *3 below). Work, battle, belligerence, power, product: but this is not the way to God, whose pardon is to be obtained not by action, but by a broken heart and a contrite spirit, turning to what shows His honour, His remedy provided for sin, the overturning by divine means of human folly.
Let us however reflect on this work of Abel's murderer. Cain's reaction was NOT to repent, NOT to seek instruction and repeat the offering in an acceptable way, acknowledging sin and the due judgment of death (as at first announced by God!), so bringing sacrifice as Abel did. How different history would have been if he had done this!
How this teaches us,
If you do wrong, do not let sin rule over you,
but backtrack, repent and finding instruction, do it right.
God is like a Father, and is known as such by His children who, unlike Cain, instead of killing others, have repented of the sin which causes the due death penalty on their spiritual lives, and accept redemption, that magnificent correction which incorporates pardon, provides peace and by cost to God, turns the table on sin and reverences His righteousness in its absolute and unqualified form. Essential for His honour and truth, it is likewise essential for man's restoration to that realm of righteousness which knows no lapses and is the Lord's own.
As to His own, He does not expect perfection in sinners, but DOES expect in His redeemed, a zealous seeking to do His will! (cf. Matthew 7:21). The difference is all covered in His own sacrifice, as the justifier of him who believers in Jesus, that He might be JUST (Romans 3:23-37). But refusing this, Cain did it differently, which is the human norm that deforms. It does not however deform God, for no terrorist can change Him; it merely deforms the form of the foolish who practice such autonomous efforts at access, deluded or not. Delusion, it is not a chance happening (cf. II Thessalonians 2); and as Proverbs puts it, the curse causeless does not come.
What then have we found ? This act of violence on the part of Cain, removed SACRIFICE from the agenda of divine approach, as central and basic. Regrettably, this mirrors the Islamic rejection of the Old Testament system, in flat contradiction to its claim to the godliness of the Jewish prophets in a whirl of confusion which has let pools of blood flow turgidly throughout history. The Koran has no such provision. The Old Testament prophets have it as fundamental, inexorable, insuppressible, of constant necessity (cf. Ch. 3 above, The Excursion at *8 ).
Coded in patterns in the Temple rites and the popular and populous provisions, sacrifice is consummated as prescribed in Isaiah, in the Messiah. Without this, the religion of the prophets of the Old Testament rather than being made a consort, is actually made a target, as was the World Trade Centre for the work of the Destroyer, al Qaeda, which like Satan, would smash up the products of liberty. Certainly, the USA has gone far astray, but it at least avoids LEGISLATING, like the Taliban of Afghanistan, and other model, modal Islamic tyrannies, for a religion which defies the testimony which alone stands rationally, empirically and in terms of scientific test, the Bible ( cf. Ch. 3 above).
It is the clamour of Cain in precise principle and practice that this version of Islam exhibits. It is the work of a false prophet, in the Koran claiming basis in the very prophets whom he centrally contradicts! Blood by its life makes atonement (Leviticus 17:11 cf. SMR pp. 1080ff., More Marvels ... Ch. 4). This in the Old Testament as in the new is neither dispensible nor deniable. It is central, basic, constant, coming to culmination in the Messiah (Isaiah 53). No other basis is consonant, blendable or permissible. All else is entirely and utterly alien, an attack, assault and no company whatever for the context, conspectus or perspective of the Jewish prophets.
Islam in the Koran has no place for this necessary step before any knowledge of God, and for any company with Him, basic to the very door to life, and its threshold and foundation alike 1.
As may be seen in our site in Divine Agenda Ch. 6, violence and subjugation in faith regions is by no means lacking in the Koran. Yet force is NEVER faith! Cain's way was one of works, self-expression, self-funded approach to God, and it led to force as he was guilty before God and man alike, having failed in what was demonstrated as perfectly possible and not particularly hard, wrought so well by obedient Abel. Where sin is present, and is statedly bringing DEATH, as was the initial condition in the garden (Genesis 2:17), it is quite useless to act as if God had not meant it, and to seek to approach Him without a death-acknowledgement in seeking mercy.
So Cain fell and became the first terrorist, destroying what was right and asserting his own religion with intemperate zeal, and unclean hands. Many have done the same ever since, both with secular philosophy and religious invention, bare and bereft of any buttress of evidence or consolidation with what has gone before, but isolated like a child in a paddock, facing a bull that charges, as sin does, and is not satisfied with empty talk.
AN ABRAHAMIC ALTERNATIVE
At the other extreme, we see in Genesis a much more attractive case of approach to God. Here we find that Abraham (cf. Genesis 22, as also Hebrews 11:17ff.), was willing, if need be, to sacrifice his ONLY begotten son, even though the promise for blessing to all the nations of the earth was in time going to need to be through this son (Genesis 12:3, 21:12). After living to around one century in age before having this son, by explicit divine gift, Abraham was in no need of losing the son so miraculously born. However, the son who so came by divine promise and action, very directly exposed from the first, was now in point. If then Abraham GOT the son by these means, and trusted God, he was still quite content that God could raise the dead if need be. He went accordingly, as if to sacrifice his son.
Of course, it was only his willingness that was under test as we see in Genesis 22, since murder does nothing to sanctify approach to God.
Nevertheless, , as in the
Garden at the outset, willingness was crucial.
Abraham, one of the Lord's people, very willing to sacrifice, trusting in God, was indeed willing. His willingness teaches us that there is to be NOTHING between us and total fealty to God, although of course in Christ, HE requires no violence in the interests of the faith (cf. John 18:36, Matthew 26:52ff.). Indeed, violence has never been relevant to faith, only to judgment (cf. SMR pp. 1186Aff.).
What then happened to Abraham, when he was about to sacrifice his son ?
God instead of permitting any such thing, said STOP! and Isaac was not harmed. In fact, a sheep caught in a thicket became the sacrifice instead. Obviously, as in Psalm 49:7,15, this means that God is going to provide the sacrifice Himself. It was neither necessary nor good enough for Abraham to offer his son (far less anything beneath that level!), for God Himself would offer the One to bruise the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15), a fact shown more and more in detail in Zechariah and Isaiah 48:16, 49-55, with Micah 5:3-5, Psalm 45.
By FAITH however Abel offered that better sacrifice, and in faith, Abraham, willing to offer all, was required to RECEIVE the offering which God supplied freely.
Thus, when the substance of the matter eventually became clear, it was to be this:
TO FAITH, God offered His own and only begotten Son, the Messiah.
Faith always works with the God who knows, since it trusts Him! (cf. Proverbs 3:4-5).
Abel did his part as the light came; Abraham as his light came further; and in that same light, the light of the world, that of God in His Messiah, the same willingness is needed: not wilfulness, but that same centrality for sacrifice as for Abel and Abraham, to whom the promises came in the very midst of sacrifice.
Not then in the mist of self-will is solace and meaning to be found in God, but in sacrificial splendour underlying the intense gravity of sin and the unspeakable disco-ordination from God which it breeds, like some odious nuclear breeding reactor (cf. Genesis 15).
So was the covenant made, with blood. So was it consummated in blood. So did God Himself do the work, without terror, which terrorists now try to enforce in the world, absentees from the Bible from first to last, enemies of the faith which can be tested, as man has been tested, evacuees from what alone stands as an exhibit that identifies God as author, empirically, logically and cohesively*2. We will consider this in what follows, as we have already done in the references just given.
In review, then, what is the position ?
It is this.
That beginning leads to this end.
The Bible is now available to mankind, just as the garden was to man at first. As the tree of knowledge of good and evil was not to be taken, so the Bible is to be taken, and both for the same reason. As ruin was seized by man, so remedy is granted by God.
As the former was prohibited, but pursued, so the latter is required, and to be received.
As man fell to need remedy, now he may fall beyond all remedy; but on the other hand, now may he at last receiving this remedy, become a child of the living God, who Himself has proposed, propounded, expounded and performed the work, requiring repentance, acceptance both of it and of Himself as its Donor.
As the one was attested evil, so the other is attested as good, the very word of the living God. In this way, although man is no more in Eden, and TEST I is no more available, let it not for one second be thought that the God of truth and justice has allowed such a world as this to continue without remedy being present, in attestation of His divorce from it, and His opportunity still contained within it. Because of this, the Bible is far the most important thing ever written on this earth.
Paul says, TEST ALL THINGS. This is a book which not only stands any test, not only indeed withstands any probe, but understands in its spirit and scope, as only God can, all that was and is, and is to be, and how man is to be met without mere destruction, such as he eminently deserves (cf. Genesis 6, Matthew 24).
SACRIFICE IS PRIMARY
THE BIBLE IS DIVINELY GIVEN
REDEMPTION IS CONTAINED IN SACRIFICE AT LENGTH
AND NONE BUT THE BIBLE HAS IT IN WORDS FROM ANCIENT TIMES,
DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTED TO GOD, FREELY AVAILABLE
MAN GOT OUT - HE NEEDS TO COME IN
As noted in More Marvels... Ch. 9:
Indeed, there is no problem in life and truth which He does not resolve; and in this, He is the thrust of the Bible, the living WORD fulfilling the written word. NOTHING else (cf. SMR Ch. 5) is able to meet all problems in all things. He does. There is no problem with the Biblical teaching in its consistency, validity and adequacy, and of NOTHING else can this be said; and further, its self-identification as the word of God is not only from its unique validity (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 -7, That Magnificent Rock Ch. 5, 7, Repent or Perish Ch. 7, SMR Ch. 3), but from its operational perfection, never failing in its multitudes of self-exposures. It also TELLS us that this is so and CHALLENGES us to fault it (Isaiah 41, 43, 48). No one has ever succeeded, and this site is one living testimony to that fact, as it proceeds over the years; yet it is by no means the only one.
How wonderful is this book beyond all books, just as its central figure is the man beyond all men, for the very simple reason that here is the Creator Himself, enshrined in flesh, exponent of truth and purveyor of His own redemption by His OWN work and His OWN nobility, His OWN enterprise and His OWN purity and superiority. When tested, it is found invested with glory, solving all problems in any scope of perspective, leaving nothing unresolved, accurate, steadfast and rightly challenging man to acknowledge its truth, just as he must likewise acknowledge his own sin.
If man seeks to test the word of God, at the very same time it tests man, and in its answer to every probe, its resolution of every difficulty for man, it leaves man without excuse. If he wants to fail, so be it, but it is the book which stands and lives, and sin which fails. There is no excuse in insisting on being a failure when remedy is at hand.
God in the Bible solves the mode of re-entry to God on the part of sinful man, when the issues are infinite, and man's differences are finite. How to distinguish ? that is the question. Preventing disproportion, and in perfect justice and equity, He does this by means of free redemption. Again, He provides the solution to the problem of realism about will, which being sinful, is not in accord with God, and rests in sinful bases, but which if merely changed without reference to what man is, becomes a discriminatory issue, in absolute terms, for more minor diversities.
Again, WHO enters ? Mr 33% good deeds, or 44% ? or 44.444 ? Where lies the bill for will ? without God, it is a meaningless collation of consequences, and with Him, it is an inadequate reflection of what the person is, and has in diverse circumstances of every order, inward and outward, become. Only in HIS action can anything concerning infinite diversity be found, and only by HIS work can this be applied. If it is changed first, it is irrelevant; if it is not changed, it is inadequate. If it is inadequate, it does not resolve the question why God has suffered suffering, caricature, misrepresentation and misleading of many by artful deceivers.
Only if HE knowing all, and seeking all, works is will relevant, the heart changed by Himself in terms of what He knows of will, beyond its own calling and capacities, then with will relevant, suffering is explained in terms of its evils, destinies in terms of His knowledge, with love the anti-discriminatory force, so that this knowledge is not based on what transcends will, but what seeks it.
On a related topic, 'good works' as a criterion of divine adoption or acceptance, since these depend on 'good nature' and nature is not self-made, but inherited, and cultivated by many diverse forces, it makes will to become meaningless in nature, leaving God responsible where man in fact errs, and no realistic cut-off point for entry back to God, there being only relativity when the issue is the final reality, the resultant difference in destiny without limit of any kind. A leopard does not, by willing, lose his spots. Will is part of man's nature, and without God's decisive differentiating action, man being sinful, it has long lost its decisive difference and capacity to be different, striving with differentiation effectively.
Further, in and by itself, all the aspects of a life which go right back, give more and more reasons for this and that part of a character's life, but where is the liberty ? It is only in spirit as before God that this can exist, and only when there is an option which DOES NOT DEPEND on the person himself or herself: for otherwise, the self being given, is its own limit. It cannot choose what it cannot find, understand, or excavate. Some tools for excavation are better than others, and some wills more determined. However the limit is the self, and its application is of itself. Is this however liberty ? the expression of nature and nurture, character and formation! How can it choose what its self cannot find, being its own restriction and its own limit! There is no liberty in being what you are. Option is the only possible liberty.
Thus, if liberty is to have meaning, it must have a living God to supersede man's limitations, so that a genuine option is present, beyond the limits of self, will and nature. If however such an option is able to be preferred by some, and not by others, in their own wills, then some natures are superior to others, so that some wills are so, so that not liberty, but the person's condition is the criterion. It is, however, necessary for liberty, to go beyond all circumstances, all influences, all limitations, so that the will becomes meaningful. Yet how will it do this, since it is not so beyond, being subject to various inputs and dissolutions, in and of itself ?
There is but one solution, and it is biblically donated, since the Maker of man does not labour under problems insoluble, or criteria inaccessible. Knowing man from the first, He has constructed him meaningfully and the solution with operative efficiency, nay grandeur before the history came, as an architect has the house in mind or even heart, before it is built (if he is a good one!).
The human will must be relevant, so that God is not responsible for the attacks on His being and nature, by man, which not merely distort reality, being of the nature of lie, but mislead many, some by cleverness artfully devising the fall of others, as in sects and other squalid and unspiritual devices which draw many to doom.
Moreover, the entry to the blessed presence of God must be in terms of purity itself, not something less, since sin in heaven means heaven is no more heaven, and God would then fail in His character and nature, evoking what is dissonant, yes ghastly. In the end of all tests and quests, what is polluted is not of God; and it must be purged, and this not by man's goodness, since in that case will is again irrelevant, the nature of the person being what it is, and given, so that even in its innermost strivings, it is but the expression of what it is. Liberty would then be irrelevant being inoperable where it counts: if some were sufficiently better to be able to see right in order to choose, this would be endowment, not choice, constraint by constitution, not liberty.
For will, then, to be relevant to divine adoption, it must be seen past the power and condition of man, and the only one able to do this is God. Yet if such differences in ultimate destiny were based in any measure on works, then the nature would condition the result, thus removing liberty, leaving God once again responsible for assaults on Himself by man, which has been shown impossible in the SMR and Spiritual Life Ch. 4, above.
Further, even while tests are conducted, if God did not have what is both a supervening power and action to choose who are His for Himself, beyond mere performance criteria on the part of man, and a remedy so that NOTHING of His is under the sway, power or control of what is contrary in nature to Himself, both in principle and in resultant, for such would simply deny His existence, or put differently, make of 'God' a component in a working system, which means the same, for such is not God but a member of mere creation.
|There needs, therefore, from the pure
God, to be a remedy, one that is freely conferred,
and there needs likewise to be a discrimination and discernment by God who,
knowing the mind and will of man, yet supersedes it with greater depth,
and knowing man better than he knows himself, discerns the occasion for love and liberty
in the soul concerned.
|Thus in the Bible, it is not God predestinates whom
and then foreknows them, but this: Whom He foreknew, these He predestinated ...
Without this, and where works and force
alike enter into the realm of faith itself, or of standing before God at the
ultimate level, or selection pivots on some kind of work, whether glory in
battle or other*3,
where remedy is not both freely donated and divinely accorded void of all works, what is to be found ? Then, there is only a 'God' who permits evil without preparing liberty in a world which continues to mock Him these millenia. Man might see the solution (as in the Bible, and seen from it, above), but in such a hypothetical case, not the called named 'God'. This is meaningless derogation of deity, express or implied, intended or other.
It is really quite simple: if there is
no liberty, only He is responsible for all sin and evil. For liberty, this is
what you need. If there is no free remedy, man being inept for such decision
because of pollution and manipulation, and his will becoming a form of works of
a given nature, then this is merely a subset of the above, with the same result.
If thirdly, there is no free remedy, then not merely does the one called 'God'
suffer His own caricature and all the suffering that results for man, without articulated response to meet
the case, so preserving His own standards and truth, but further, if works become the criterion of acceptance, then even liberty being inoperative at the relevant level, such a being would become responsible for all suffering and evil. Such a 'god' would become in fact the devil. It is what Christ called the 'god of this world', in which HE HAS NO PART (John 14:30-31). Small wonder!
Such a position FOR THE TRUE GOD is as impossible as any other self-made man concept of superiority to the Maker of his very nature, soul and scope (cf. SMR pp. 100ff.), as if man could see the answer, and God could not.
The 'answer' outside
relevance to man's will,
is no answer but a charge against the Lord, by implication;
the 'answer' by means of the operation of man's will,
becomes a meritocracy, in which people made to be better, by whatever means, therefore DO better, so choose better, so come to God, so that the entire proceeding becomes a sort of scheme, whereby some with the illusion of liberty, merely act out what is given. The will is once more, irrelevant, and God is implicated in the way noted earlier, a vacuous proceeding, similar to reductio ad absurdum!
There is nothing of absurdity, however, about God. The love of God as defined repeatedly in word and deed in the Bible, for example Colossians 1:19ff., II Timothy 2:1ff., means in its colossal nature and embracive outgoing ab initio, that the will of man is entirely relevant, so that the Saviour could and did even say (John 3:19), "And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
The blame is on man, for God has ensured both in scope as in His own image, and in operation, as in His own foreknowledge and action, that man is effective in responsibility, relevant to the destined result. This is clear-cut, direct and simple, stated by God on earth as the Messiah personally and in the simplest of terms. The word became flesh, dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, so loved the world as also seen in the above texts, that He being given, would be lifted up in shame as surrogate victim and sacrificial substitute for the sinner, and those who reject Him do so in a way wholly their own personal responsibility in the light of the amplitude of the love so defined.
Notice, now, that had there not been such a love, then there would not have been such a responsibility, for something other than and beyond the relevance of the will of man would be the operational determinant of destiny. God did not 'have to' make such a solution, if there were one, since He is statedly not like that. You have no need to find out what sort of tyres to put on an ocean liner which is landing from some imaginary flight in the azure, since this is not what happens. God is who He is, made man in His image, and for man made such a construction and such an historical situation that the solution is Christ sent, Saviour, liberating, who chooses man rather than the opposite (John 15, Romans 9), but does so with a love that would have all, and being such, is apt for all, fitted for all and efficacious in its own terms, man being left wholly responsible.
It is perhaps one of the aftermaths of Romanism, but not of this alone, that the sense of a God who looms for judgment, as if this were the criterion, and escape were in the face of a somewhat meagre love from the Almighty, is for many still great. Now while it is eminently true that sin is an atrocity that man often does not begin to understand (and Genesis 6 in its initial verses shows this clearly, as does Ephesians 4:17-19, and Ephesians 2:12, which latter it is well to ponder), it is no less true that the love of God is a marvel which man does not begin to understand in His fallen state, distorting this way or that. Such is the nature of spiritual things for those divorced from Him whose they are.
Let us see this passage in Ephesians here, therefore:
"Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh - who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands - that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near
by the blood of Christ."
Thus is the estrangement in its totality, and this properly induces a sense of the fearfulness of being without God, as indeed does Hebrews 2:1-3, asking how any could expect to escape if ignoring or decrying such a great salvation as God brings! Equal in force to this unbridled righteousness of God, and the abyss into which man falls, more and more obviously, by ignoring it, is the love of God which would have all to come to reconciliation and repentance, yes all whether in earth or heaven! (Colossians 1, I Timothy 2). There is the purity in all its rigour and the passion of love in all of its vigour, and foolish is he who seeks to understand the things of God without grasping both, not as a nettle, but as one takes a loved one's hand, yes both hands in one's own.
It is the very fact that the righteousness has such rigour and purity (being indeed the pre-condition in the end of peace), that makes the love so amazing and divine, the mercy so savoury and the concern of God so astounding. This however is the nature of the reality, and without this, one talks merely to the birds, and then, when they are not even in flight!
What then ? God the Lord has provided, as in the Bible, not only a liberty to man, but a freedom of re-entry, and then a personal supervision past man's knowledge of what is to enter, in terms of His own omniscience, scope of love and power (Romans 9, John 15:4, cf. Marvels of Predestination ..., Predestination and Freewill, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4, Great Execrations ... Chs. 7 and 9). Since, statedly, He WOULD HAVE ALL to be reconciled to Himself, and this is His principle, He does take where love may come. Works and force are alike irrelevant for salvation, and God often affirms this (Ephesians 2, Romans 3, Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff.). Thus is the Bible consistent internally, and explicatory without antimony, irrationality or obfuscation, externally.
Thus the Bible demonstrates the folly of force as a matter relevant for faith or operations in that domain, just as it excludes entirely works as a matter of selection, since God freely GIVES eternal life. There is neither competition nor point in force at this level, since force is irrelevant to love, and without the liberty of which love is the bloom, God is then irrationally and irresponsibly made responsible by irresponsible man! If man does not wish to realise this, it does not alter it.
If FORCE can avail, why not use it and why have evil! Why allow so much suffering! Force however is irrelevant, God Himself pleading repeatedly to man, and Christ even weeping that man had not found the day of his visitation, his opportunity in Christ - in the case of Jerusalem as a city! In all things, the Bible meets all questions with all answers, and then adds the wonder of its sovereign majesty, speaking without limit in its wisdom or pettifogging in its boldness.
Again, if force cannot avail for the life and destiny of man, being here irrelevant, what uses it for faith issues, in the way that Islam so drastically both does, has done and is seen to do in the Koran (cf. Divine Agenda Ch. 6), is merely man's idea.
It is then his WORKS, his POWER, and not the work and the power of God that becomes critical, whether directly or indirectly. It is humanistic in this: failing because of its lack of liberty, its failure to signalise love and liberty in consort, so avoiding the reality and necessity for liberty, that deliverance is from divine scope and purity, not from meaningless works or mutinous force. As to works, since these are a merely human option, with all its limitations and eventuations, they merely adorn the will, define the nature of man without God, and have no possible part in his salvation where liberty makes suffering meaningful before the all powerful and pure God.
The Bible declares and depicts in a system of thought, a set of principles with a personal being whose these things are, and of whom they are in part descriptive, whose glory is in love, whose wonder is in truth, since all depends on Him, is His creation, and liberty a prize correlative to love, in turn correlative to personality and reality for man. It explains suffering, evil, pain, pangs, pride, folly, false religion and continues impregnable in harmony internally, operative in power externally, impactive on history so that it follows it like a lamb.
Thus do the testable reliability of prophecy, the consistent schema and the all-explicatory scope of the Biblical perspective, the pure personality of Christ, God making His personal being inspectable, the conformity of the same to prophecy and of subsequent history to His word, show in calamitous contrast the Islamic failure for decades in the Middle East, though the jihads of horror are frequent enough and the Allah is supposedly Almighty. All of this, moreover, mixes even more negatively in the case of Islam, with the inability to provide any book which is testable scientifically for performance. In this as in all things, it fails to meet the mind which God gives, the tests which God enables, the meaning which truth requires and the requirements of realism.
There is only one Saviour, only one salvation, one redemption, one cover for man, one way in which infinite difference can divide finite man, and infinite power work with evil which inheres in this world, for so long. Without this redemption, this remedy, with mere continuation of striving and seeking, there would be only an evil God who would tolerate evil for ages without a remedy which realises His purity, attests His reality and enshrines His principles. The striving of imperfect sinners is no more remedy than is a puddle a reservoir.
It is only because there is a categorical remedy which God Himself has created that the continuation of this world in its present condition is in the least degree compatible with divine wisdom and power. Without it, God tolerates the system and condition in free, flat and total contradiction of Himself, without covering the case to protect His name. Sin is then still sovereign, imperfection still the criterion, effort in what is fallen is still the path, and His purity and righteousness has no compartment In the world He has created. Folly still finds its mark and man must still work his way out with what he is, gravely imperfect. The perfection of God is thus neither protected nor portrayed, but only a loathsome imbroglio of sin and strenuosity.
In such a way as that, God would be categorically implicated. Remedy however is of the essence of the biblical faith, and in this it shows the wisdom and the power of God as nothing else does, or even can.
Indeed, it is only in the love of God that the suffering of man can be understood, nor is this any paradox. When there is this love, then there is this resolution at the end, just as there was this Fall at the beginning, so that whatever is for the Lord is found without respect to the work of man, his marrings and his captures, his obliterative horrors and emotional torments, to children as to others. God knowing all, and loving, has all who are His, and nothing that the mean wickednesses of man can do, can prevent it. In the free redemption of Christ are any to be found; and in the love of God, it is not GOD who will deny them, but themselves alone*4. He has seen to that, and in the freedom of the favour given in the Gospel of grace without works, and the power of His supervening love, none is lost, none lacks meaning, God doing all, giving all, securing all in His own perfection and justice.
In sum, just as the Lord in love has foreknown, not the works but the very person beyond history and in His own all-pervading truth (Romans 9:11), so He has predestined; and as He has predestined, so He regenerates, so that all His people come home, and what is regenerated is adopted, justified, sanctified and kept by the power of God till that day (I Peter 1:5ff., Romans 8:30ff.), so that each one of His people knows the surpassing glory of His holy Person who redeems (Psalm 84:8-11, Christ the Lord.
He foreknows, He predestines, He calls, He justifies, He glorifies (Romans 8:17,30). This is what is written; and this is how it is.
It is He then who ensures that not one lost sheep of His stays alone, not one rejects that Gospel which comes like rain to the regenerated heart, faith and life an ensemble intertwined (cf. SMR Ch. 6, *6). It is He who by Himself has predestined in the infinitely harmonious trinitarian splendour, who loves, who would have all come to Him, and it is He who accurately attributes the preference for darkness, in the very face of His love and light to those whose it is.
This being genuinely free, past the confines of sinful psychology, true beyond the input of the arbitrary or the merely select - as He WOULD have all; and since it is made so by divine sovereignty without dint or brutal dynamic, but in reality, thus the kingdom of heaven is a glorious enterprise, filled with grace and love. Not here is to be found that foolish vying spirit which seeks for the big toe some special glory, but the body is entwined together, just as His love is entwined with every heart. Each one appears before God, as the Psalmist sees with his prophetic eye (cf. part of Psalm 84, below), and discerning spirit, the essence of the Gospel having been present for David as for Paul (Psalm 32, 17, 51 cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, TMR Ch. 3).
"How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
"Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
"As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.
"O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
"I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield ..."
Indeed, there is no dynamic typhoon which can divorce God's elect, whom He foreknew and predestined to Himself, from their landing in the domain of grace. If sin and Satan lust for their overthrow, as Satan lusted for Peter, yet the power of God is greater. If some, like John Bunyan, are in much turmoil for long before their conversion is complete and they sit in heavenly places in Christ, soaring in spirit like those who in body go gliding or hang-gliding, yet their adoption to come is sure; and when it comes, it is kept (I John 3:9).
The love of God is greater than the powers of darkness, the mind of Christ is clearer than the smokings of hell, the embrace of His Spirit is more certain than the seductions of flesh, spirit or mind, and for His own, He is irresistible. There is, accordingly, no slightest excuse for those who rejecting the Gospel, find their outage a thing of shame. It is not God who excludes them, and the responsibility for the exclusion of what force could obtain, but not without sacrificing the image of God which He created in man, is solemnly and solidly to be placed where Christ places it, in those who reject Him*4. It is in the active face of His love that they pursue and persist in departure even from His own invitation, despite the power and the love of God who WOULD HAVE ALL...
Thus He also finds those who have never heard the Gospel, so that in His own predestining splendour, these are confronted in the form which counts, in the very mind of God, and He knowing what is the essence of the matter, does not fail in any. What is sure, is this, that there is none who is excluded through lack of technical facility, as if history, instead of being girded, governed and guided by God (Ephesians 1:11), were an obstacle which even He could not surmount! On this topic, see I Peter 3:18-22 and see *4A below.
does wisdom prevail, and so does God have His way in the end, and the panoply of
grace keeps what is committed to Him, just as the power of love finds them,
before all time, and reaches them in time in every sense of the phrase!
If then, to be personally practical, some soul wants the Lord yet feels incapable of coming, is this not a signal to stop trying and to rest in repentance in the love which is far from seeking exclusion! Is it not attestation to trust in the power of God and so being led, find the Lord whose delight is in His children!
Even further yet again, in this divinely revealed plan, the wicked corruptions of man become illustrated in history for all time, and liberty has its outflow in exemplary lessons for all eternity. There is nothing allowed no scope, and nothing without God has a result that stands. To eternity are the realities of history to be seen, their follies and fiascos, heartlessnesses and pragmatisms, their insolences and their isolations from reality, all attested, like so many World War II bombs, shown up for what they are. There is nothing to be said when freedom is done! Wisdom is justified and truth is then verified to the uttermost.
All may try, any may defy, but in the end, all is exhibited in its true colours, however untrue it may be!
So does liberty with love win the day, and solving all problems, the Bible stands alone as the word of God. Folly may reject it; but never knowledge.
TRIUMPH IN ONE
But what must be said of the WAY in which the supernal spiritualities of God Himself have come to this earth, according to the sublime biblical pattern and plan of salvation, but not in word or thought alone, rather in vitality and reality of actual performance in history!
The solution is not as found in the back of some mathematics text-book, but as found in the field of battle, in the scope of adventure and in the reality of advent.
God did not make a world and philosophise; but He acted. He gave a test. Man failed. Adam failed as did Eve, and Cain failed as does Islam, as did the Inquisition, as did Judaism in crucifying Christ and assaulting initially, as through Saul before he became Paul the apostle, so many early Christians. All the philosophies of force have failed. Alexander the Great*5 failed in a way which, in view of his courage, imagination and initiative, is near to comic, were it not so tragic. In his passion - it was no less than all encompassing - to conquer the world, to be the one who would do this thing, he took foolish risks as you see in Ussher's The Annals of the World, with something not quite bravado, but rather passion.
In a moment, poisoned as it appears, he lapses. Various appealing qualities are seen in his concern for his men, though many died in his geographical and even exploratory extravanganzas. They are seen even in his concern while dying. Yet it all comes to nothing, and if even will and earnestness, zeal and effort were a criterion, here it is. But it is insufficient. Though the whole world be a testimony to one's prowess and power, what has been achieved ? One dies as one who achieved, and leaves achievement for those who did not do so.
Hitler similarly with his Aryan adventurism came near to the same, if with much less appeal, and in his endeavour to re-organise history, he merely came into collision with the One who organises history, and whose word is quite clear. In what to this point is it clear ? It is in this: that Israel is NOT going to die or fail, but despite its follies; and that it has a place accorded in divine history which, try as man may to remove it in the day of "Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:5ff. - a 'day' without parallel as the Bible declares - cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 1), that man can neither qualify nor erase. Without apparent effort, God simply brings to pass the return of Israel after its 'trouble', its return still unbelieving, its return by divine grace without NO respect to merit of any kind, but to His own promise (cf. SMR Ch. 9).
Man then has acted, and acted out the avenues of his philosophies, wounded and cunningly contrived at times, but always in disarray, and hence always changing, not because of any imaginary advance, but alas in the same old collection of non sequiturs, force and frenzy, until the dizzy race is left in the ditch beside the road, the highway of salvation, the way of God which alone valid, is likewise alone undisturbed. Man tries to crush it as he tried to crush, and still tries, Israel. Shortly, we shall see, as the Bible declares, how God disposes of the coming events.
Even now as we have already seen in this volume, man is trying to make liberty more difficult, bringing in new alliances and laws to dispose of man's freedom of speech, in order to protect this and that, always what is ungodly, never what is godly, in all recent developments. It is part of the final lust to crush the ways of God. We have spoken in this volume much on Islam, since its blood-letting seems increasingly, after the Cold War, to be the latest thing since Hitler and Communism, both, for such arrogant intimations from mortality. They all however fail, being neither true nor empowered, though each in its day considers itself all but invulnerable.
So the treatment of Israel is merely a preliminary to that pressure to crush Christians which has been severe enough already in Russia and in China, as in many Islamic countries and in the Middle East. Man is always at a venture, because his adventurous nature refusing in such masses of the world populace, the truth of God, seeks by wits to make wonder and then to worship himself, his human race, his own face, seen in the reflections of inane philosophy, never satisfied, never right, always cruel in the end, as imagination must be, when it undauntingly vaunts itself in the very face of fact.
Organic evolution (cf. *1 below) is another of the flights of fancy which ignoring reality, breeds war as swamps breed mosquitoes. It is a supplement for the incident of man's self-vaunting in the international assemblies, where as in Europe we have shown earlier, as in preceding volumes, the phenomenon is gaining fast, with the UN, its destined flavour and dissavour.
Man however is not alone in venture. God has made the supreme adventure in sending His eternal Word into the form of a man, so that eternity looked on the temporary, and the eyes of God could weep for those astray. It is His action which is paramount, His war which is most moving, and His gift which is alone adequate. It is not made by signing a cheque, but by consigning His only begotten Son to show righteousness not only in a word of remedy, but in a work of remedy. He did it not by talking of might and showing it in fulfilled prophecy to the very last iota, as He has done, not in this alone, but in coming in Person to show and to share, so that man might for once, and only once, meet God as man, and find in such a man, the highway to God.
He was sent, however, as Isaiah foretold centuries before His advent, not only to be extolled and to be very high, having power as predicted in that same prophet, to judge, heal and do wonders, but to be abased so that in His very format, as a man, He would physically become almost unrecognisable as man showed the disparity between the love of deity and the folly of his own culture, carefully cultivated in that case, even in the very name of God so that when He came in person, crucifixion was the comment. How justly did Isaiah in Ch. 1 excoriate hypocrisy, and did Christ, as seen in Matthew 23, the same. Indeed the whole nature of the case is summarily disposed of in His words as shown in Mark 12!
God in His own Person IS the remedy, and that this is no mere phrasing is shown in His coming to PAY for justice the fee of the folly of man (Isaiah 53:1-6) and to offer to man the way out of it (Isaiah 53:1,10), so that as John 1 puts it, in receiving Him, not according to will or blood or any cultural, biological or other implement of the flesh, but according to His own loving knowledge and knowledgeable love, He might save His people. In so offering to man this way out, He offered Himself, since He IS the way out; but in making the way for such as man now is, He became what man needs to be, the recipient of judgment, yet vicariously, since there is no peace without truth.
Since moreover there is no peace for sinners who flout both the justice and the truth of God, He has become the peace for His people, His advent leading to His venture and this to His adventure to the Cross, according to the predictions of the prophets; and from this Cross, taken in all awe and wonder at such love and resolution for reality felt even by the centurion in charge, He has concluded His peace path. In resurrection He has charged His church, from the fishermen and tax-collector, from one and from all, to declare the guilt-collector and to describe the salvation-man, God as man, whose venture was victorious.
In all this, it is only as God had said for centuries before (cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), and in these things, it is as has been proclaimed now for millenia. Not by a hair's breadth does anything change, whether as to the victory of the venture, the awe of the adventure, the triumph of truth, the path of peace, the magnificence of the Messiah or the singularity of the way home to God. What would one expect ? 10 ways to one purity, 20 paths to one truth ? Many right answers to righteousness ? Would God then become a chameleon for man's mutiny to enjoy itself to the full! Scarcely.
His qualities in this have been seen in Christ, the Wisdom and the Power of God as in Ch. 8, and His clarity in SMR Ch. 6, while the tangles of philosophy which can never find answer without Him are often seen (as in Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 13, SMR Ch. 3). His word is there from the first, His love to the last, His participation has been total and man's opportunity remains till the Age ends.
It is wounds or woes: HIS WOUNDS or MAN'S WOES. Never let it be said that these woes are the work of God, through not caring, through not coming, through not providing for man on this earth some remedy, some love, some mercy, some concern and some triumphant justification both for man, freely, and for His own purity, which has been shown, its face uncovered, so that man might by contrast, mutilate even that, but not for ever.
God is just and loving, but also wise, and heaven is not polluted, since its door is the Cross, where not only has Christ died, but where in spirit, man must join Him, becoming crucified WITH Christ. Not only is Christ the substitute for those whom He saves, the identification target, so that the sins of the heart being pierced in the condemnation, the joys of His service might be found in the power of His resurrection. The atonement thus has legal, moral, dynamic and transformatory aspects.
When God acts, it is for ever; when God saves it is total. When man is raised to become a friend of God, the requirement is perfection and only is Christ is this met. It is IN Christ that man comes before God, when indeed he has received Him, as He must with repentance for his sin; and in that cover, must is at rest, at peace, clothed in the purity which knows no spot.
It is not merely that man is thereby without excuse; it is rather than in view of the fact that it is through His wounds, whose goings as Micah declares, are from eternity, that any is to enter eternity, that man who disdains His enterprise, derides His love, diverts from His provisions is as one for whom a mother died, who facing liberation as a result, scorns the opportunity; or as one for whom his father died, that he might be free, but turning aside, deems it not something to be preferred.
While many talk of hell, its essence is just this, that darkness is the chosen light, and it is a dim thing to choose; and that the light left is awesome in wonder so that its omission is awful in enterprise. What results from this is as if one asks, What results if you cut your throat ? It is more atrocious in advent than in consequence; but the latter is minister to the former.
See Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6, with references therein, and Spiritual Life ... Ch. 4.
See also further, on the ostensible
and the actual in this religious field of false prophecy,
foretold by Christ. On investigation, it is found to lack little in its inventions and self-contradiction in vital errors and areas, internally and even externally:
More Marvels ... Ch. 4, Highway to Hell,
SMR 829ff. (almighty ...), 1080ff., 986ff., 1088Dff.,
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8, *1 .
This is in line with the perspective supplied perhaps a millenium before in Ecclesiastes 7:29.
"Behold , this only have I found, that God has made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions."
The case of SMR pp. 1080ff. is of peculiar interest, since there it is shown the impasse for Muhammad. Wanting authority from times past, he makes the Jewish prophets of God; but these insist on redemption through salvation, as central, while the Koran avoids this. It is like saying, I am following on from people who believed there is a heart in the body; but I don't; and then adding, and all of us are spokespersons for God!
Whether in the physical or the metaphysical, in the political or the academic, in the religious or the admittedly irreligious, such maladies of misused inventiveness have come like industrial smog (cf. Divine Agenda Ch. 3, Highway to Hell cf. Aviary of Idolatry). As in the industrial revolution, so in these religious revolutions and irreligious revelations of unmitigated mysticism burning with an intensity diffuse and undirected, unbased and aerial, there is a certain indifference to humanity which marks their modes. The Bible, with its plan of love in infinite contrast, shows God becoming man that man might be found in God. He came among us with His concern, to show in our concerns, the way home. Home is no armed camp, or irrational derangement, for that matter, but a place of rest in a reality which nothing can imitate.
*1 Reason, Reality and Revelation ...
Rather than be repetitive, let us refer the reader, for example to :
SMR Ch. 1, Secular Myths and Sacred Truth Ch. 7,
TMR Ch. 1, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 -7,
Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 9,
Worn-Out Earth and Coming King Ch. 3,
Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Ch. 6,
Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Chs. 3, 5.
Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 3, Spiritual Life ... Ch. 4.
So does liberty with love win the day, and solving all problems, the Bible standing alone as the word of God. Folly may reject it; but never knowledge.
*3 The Koran, Surah 9:99 provides just such a situation from battle.
*4 From Marvels of Predestination and the Ways of Will Ch. 4, the following excerpt deals in some depth with the point. It commences with words from Micah 7.
“Who is a
God like You,
who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression
of the remnant of His heritage ?
He does not retain His anger for ever,
because He delights in mercy.
“He will turn again,
He will have compassion upon us;
He will subdue our iniquities, and
You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Ezekiel 33:11 is similar and of incomparable breadth, while Luke 19:42ff. shows a concern in parallel, and Jonah 3 in action. There we see that divine desire was for a very different human response, and the divine grief was profound at its omission. In seeing Christ at work in His love and nature, we see indeed the Father (John 14:9), if not in form, then of course in fact.
Love being restrained and not mere dynamism, God is wholly victorious in gaining any, and not at all frustrated in losing some. Love is like that, and does not defile itself in order to improve a statistical performance, as if out to impress.
Proverbs 1 is a classic of the entreaties that all but fill the Bible, for a change from folly to wisdom, not directed at God to exclude less, but at man to include more. Accordingly, John 3:19 apportions the ground of the exclusion of man in his own preference for darkness, not as something which God in citing, has as His own ultimate responsibility, but which man has in the very face of that love for the world which God showed and stated, making accordingly as in I John 2:2, an offering sufficient for all.
Sovereignty of course determines outcomes in that the final quality is from God, but what of the means! The initiatives as with a father and his son, are not to be put as if God were a mysterious exclusive agent, for His word is to the contrary concerning His motivating initiatives and desire. The end of a matter as in II Thessalonians 2:10 can indeed become unalterable, as in cancer operations that mar the flesh (cf. Isaiah 57:15), and God has known all things for all time; but this has not the slightest iota of relevance to HOW He did it before all time. As to His nature, His love then and desire towards all, He is on record. In this, foolish and biblically offensive is he who ignores it in terms of philosophy.
God loves mercy and God cites condemnation in terms of ultimate sin against the ultimate light. So much has been said by so many on the sovereignty of God, and by so many others on the freedom of the human will even in sin, that the justice of the first and the error of the second tend to be stalemated in terms of the bypass of the love of God often found in the second: something which had Wesley*1 in almost apoplectic seeming passion against Whitefield to the point.
It is of course the simple case that God is UTTERLY sovereign and UTTERLY merciful, and the way these things are at work together is as stated in the Bible, portions of which both sides have tended to ignore, suppress or treat too lightly. If only one could remember at all times that God means exactly what He says ON ALL SUBJECTS.
SIN is remorseless an agent to do what it can to undo; MERCY is NO LESS SO as the agent for deliverance. GOD in His wisdom moves wholly, truly and justly: in all His stated principles, magnificently true, truly magnificent. What He states to the Jew in terms of His love, He states to the Gentile, to the world! It is all written, whether by apostle or prophet to the Jew or to the Gentile... He would have all to be reconciled to Himself, and has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; and says so (cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4 and SMR Appendix B, with Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Chs. 7 and 9).
Does however II Corinthians 5 limit the application of this mercy? IF Paul warns people of their facing judgment on the score of 'receiving' sins done in the body (5:10), does this NECESSARILY entail that the supervention of mercy will not occur unless believing is done in the flesh (in which case, farewell those not able to receive the ministry of the word, as cited from the Westminster Confession earlier).
However, Jesus said that believing itself is THE WORK OF GOD. (John 6:29 is an example, and similar portent is Ephesians 2:8.) It is not a work done in the flesh for which reward is 'received', as in II Corinthians 5:10. It is a work of God which has its own reward.
Since many scriptures indicate that saving faith is not a work of ours, something evincible as meritorious or citable as attained; since merit is out, not indeed attributable to us as agents in salvation any more than such would be citable to a baby being born; since it is clear that this categorical and unrescindable (Romans 8:28) gift is given so that GOD DOES IT, and it is WROUGHT in us: then this becomes one more case, like that in Romans 1-3.
The universal condemnation or susceptibility for it or both is spelled out first; and then the supervening mercies in the gospel are spelled in. CATEGORICALLY and ANALYTICALLY and even PRINCIPIALLY, we ALL face and deserve hell; but divine supervention BY the Gospel WHEN God pleases chases away the law, and institutes redemption.
For each Christian, therefore, for each called at this or that time, this principle is equally in force. Into this arena of judgment, ALL must have the intervention of God; and the question is this - when does He do it?
Believing becomes the operation interceptive, the anti-missile missile carrier which brings deliverance. It intercepts what it will when God wills. For whom then does it make this interception? For all to whom this occurs, for them there is the deliverance from this judicial scourge, impending but disrupted by the gift of eternal life in which it is God who justifies, as Paul puts it in Romans 8.
"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again... Who shall separate us from the love of God!..." (see Romans 8:33-34,38-39).
WHEN DOES GOD ELECT TO ACT ?
IT STARTED BEFORE THE WORLD,
IS EVIDENCED AT JUDGMENT
We are in this context therefore faced with this: it simply means that all face the sourness of hell justly by deserts of their deeds, but in His inimitable style, God has sent Christ His Son, and will send sentences to those secured to Him, to the depths of the sea; whenever this has the assured correlative to predestination: in which the whole thing is determined at and indeed, before the outset of the world. That correlate is saving faith, the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).
Paul, out of love, not out of terror (II Corinthians 5:14), but with terror in mind, then tells whom he may, so that they may be saved, and none will be, without preaching (Romans 10); for without this Christ none will be saved, and that involves revelation and preaching, or its just divinely functioning equivalent in reality, known to God. It is indeed well to leave the secret things to God (Deuteronomy 29:30), and to employ and deploy the revelation HE has given to us, while leaving HIM to consummate its principle in His illimitable wisdom and freedom. What then God may do in terms of His freely declared PRINCIPLES and HOW He will do it , is HIS PREROGATIVE. He does not contradict Himself (Proverbs 8:8). He will act just as he says.
The full text of this chapter is available from the hyperlink at *4 above.
Concerning I Peter 3:18ff. and an understanding of this, see The Biblical Workman Ch. 5, from which the following excerpt is taken, and The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4.
Thus in view of I Peter 3:18-20, which is expounded in The Kingdom of Heaven Ch.4, and which does not lend its language to fleshly persons, but rather to the ‘spirits in prison’; and of Matthew 11:21, which shows that IF Christ’s works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, substantial repentance would have been gained in those cities, and of God’s omnipotence without limit in the fulfilment of all His plans and purposes (cf. Isaiah 43:13, Psalm 115, Ephesians 1:11) and hence of His love: there is strong attestation that those foreknown to God, His own, are able to be found WHEREVER and WHENEVER His dispositions have them. If ignorant they have left this world, then knowledgeably He will save them. The fact that the Westminster Confession speaks of such elect persons who have not been reached by the ordinary means of grace as being nevertheless saved, does indeed broach this principle (Ch. X, 3). It does well.
It means that it is not by any means sure that if you do not hear the gospel in this world, you will be in hell. It is no use making up things, pleasing certain cultural expectations and not other points in parallel. The fact is clear: we do not KNOW what will happen to those ignorant of the Gospel hereafter; but we DO KNOW that it is WRONG to LIMIT the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:41), to add to His word or to proclaim in the dark what is not revealed in the light. Ours is a covenantal religion, and we do not have access to new things to tittivate. What God has revealed, let us keep to; what He has not, let us not declare.
We DO know that the love of God is never shortcircuited, for He is NEVER frustrated who does what He pleases in heaven and in earth, and He WORKS and WHO will prevent it! as He states (Isaiah 43:13). Hence He will gain His own by His own Gospel wherever and however He sees fait, and has assuredly done all and known all in His predestining splendour of love and light, compassion and truth: for whoever knows Christ, knows the Father, and has seen Him (John 14, Luke 19:42ff.), and the nature and will of God, it does not vary, nor does incarnation defile His truth, but rather express it.
We DO know that WHOEVER is elected in love (for again, Christ did not change, does not change, was as deity in the predestination of all, the Christ who is the exact image of His Father), that such a one is God’s and nothing in heaven or earth will prevent that person’s salvation, through the Gospel.
We DO know that this will be CHRIST only, by His GOSPEL only, whenever it may be fulfilled in time which was predestinated in eternity (Col. 1:4).
We DO indeed know that it will be a salvation in which works and relative merit is as irrelevant then as it always is now, that the Roman Catholic doctrine of being judged according to the light given is nonsense, for there is NO OTHER NAME given to men under heaven, but this one, by which they MUST be saved, and the proclamation of any OTHER Gospel even damns the preacher, though it were an angel (a good point for Mormons to remember, along with there being no other God before the Lord, nor any after - Isaiah 43:10). By NO OTHER GOSPEL or way is any ever saved.
Further presentation on II Peter 3 here, is found in The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4.
SPIRITS IN PRISON
Another index which prima facie holds the suggestion that some who have been ignorant of Christ may be found, by sovereign and predestinate determination, after life as they were foreknown before it, is found in I Peter 3:17-19. Here we read in a sequence of historical steps, of Christ visiting the spirits in prison. In prison, as servants of sin, sinners are without the Lordship of Christ exercised on them. "Spirits in prison" however is a phrase not found, to my knowledge, in the Bible anywhere, OR SUGGESTED. As to the statement that Christ went by the Spirit, to preach to the spirits in prison, it is worth noting this: the Bible is indeed entirely devoid of Platonic philosophy. This sort of statement would not appear to be in the perspective portrayed Biblically, if it means He went to people living on earth. This point too is pregnantly suggestive, just as the alien nature of such terminology must be so.
The 'spirit' may be in prison, but it is the person who is the servant of sin. We are not disembodied, and although certain forms of speech are conceivable, they are not found. Spirits in chains awaiting judgment we find in Jude; but these are not on this earth. They are angels who left their first estate. Jude is talking of spirits as spirits.
From a verbal point of view, this language is that of the after-life in the Bible. Releasing the captives in Isaiah 61, is people on earth, not spirits in prison. There are times and places of being captive, and the Biblical mode of referring to the one and to the other is distinctive and apt. From the point of view of sequence, naturalness of progress in I Peter 3:17-19, we move from Christ suffering for sins, to bring us to God, being put to death, quickened by the Spirit: and from there we launch into the excursion noted in vv. 19-20.
Do we then move back a few thousand years in time in a sort of time jump? Or are we pursuing the point to the environs of judgment to which He wished to relate? Are we finding the other vast judgment which covered the earth so that almost all people were physically extinguished one earth; and here seeing Christ visit in a giant illustration and indication of the Colossians 1:19-23 scope and grandeur of His magnificent love and outreach and desire to "reconcile all things to Himself? The match is a marvel*1B.
And with what power and force does Paul speak of this reconciling passion on the part of the Almighty? This: "and having made peace by the blood of the Cross, by Him to reconcile all things to Himself: by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven", in just collaboration with I Timothy 2 and John 3:17-19.
Past all exegetical questions, the generic statements of God concerning His love and power, make it merely a technical question HOW He will do it. While the scripture both inspires us with granted revelation, and limits us from errors, it does not find it necessary to make us technical experts concerning the modalities of the mind of God in His infinite brilliance, in the performance of these things. It is enough that He is able and is committed and will do it, saving all who are His by the Gospel of Christ.
In other words, God has worked in Himself the means of everlasting righteousness for sinners (Daniel 9:24-26), and defers judgment for the world till ALL peoples have heard (Matthew 24:14, II Peter 3:18-19), and at the judgment seat itself, knows His own whom He has predestinated in Christ..
Alexander from Macedonia, the Greek member of Daniel’s foursome who ‘went through’ if you want to use the golfing figure, helps to make these things simple. First in Daniel 7’s four empires, is Babylon, the Media-Persia, then Greece and then that succeeding which has flitted and flirted in the spotlight or shadows ever since, Rome (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 8).
In Daniel 8, the first three are specified by name in the explanation, and the third, Greece, the ‘male goat’ in the symbolism, is described as coming “from the West, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground…”
This is deliciously apt in describing the rampancy of Alexander, his onrush, his intemperate speed, his all but incredible gobbling up (or snuffing down) of empires and kingdoms. That young man had a sense of religious mission which was blended with a personal triumphalism, it seems from all the historical material one finds, and it is in the most acute degree a matter of sad solemnity to see so much so wasted by clever but intoxicated dynamism, so that at 33 he himself was snuffed out.
After him, as indicated in Daniel 8:8 came four divisions of his empire, and following this, as in Daniel 7, the residual empire in that low-power microscopic coverage of the affair in its broad outline.
What then of Rome ? It was very different from dynamic Alexander. It has tenacity. Not satisfied with reaching earthly glory for several centuries of strong power, even when it was invaded and overcome, it continued its Eastern Empire in Constantinople till 1453 in one form or another, while Europe had another more local unifying force in the most unholy Holy Roman Empire, that bond of aggression and persecution which hounded Luther and often became little better than an armed arm of the papacy. Political and religious power, by virtue of Romanist emperors or kings, as of France or Spain for example, continued in the very name of Rome, to pound the pillars of history, to make them conform on pain of torture, confiscation of goods and the like.
Competitions between Emperor and Pope were as common as vanity and arrogance in ludicrous combinations could make them, and these, known as the investiture contest, were a form of sport in this partly brittle continuation of Roman power, with the Roman papacy a binding element, often obliterative.
Partly strong, partly fragile, brittle or broken, as Daniel 2:42 in its foursome coverage has it, this fourth kingdom continues until it becomes the base for as arrogant a piece of clay with eyes as you could wish, a mountain of autonomy and a fountain of pompous words. Napoleon and Hitler both sought a unity in Europe, each in his day, whether Franco-Europe or Germanic; and then the Common Market came, hat in hand, telling of its small ineffectuality. It would not do great things, but merely …. It would be economic.
However now as we have been seeing in Dastardly Dynamics Chs. 4 and 10, with Ch. 3 of this volume, above, it is anything but that, and it is telling us indeed of great things in the common destiny it now proposes or imposes for all who have unwisely contributed to its mystically pagan processes.
In its now clear and lordly aspirations and Constitution, its powers over its members and its formally irreligious but factually religious desires for destiny, it arises like a European version of the Twin Towers of New York, conveniently displaced to a new home. For the beacon on top of the site, the predicted epitome of depravity, see the biblical depiction in Biblical Blessings Ch. 2 (cf. II Thessalonians 2)..