Vol. 26&27 New Series October-October 1965&66 No.s 5, 6, 1-5

Part I
"Young people everywhere now are earnestly searching for truth." So we are told, and told so often and so shrilly that it has become embarrassing to doubt the assertion. Yet, strangely enough, we were told the same thing when I was young; and I can testify from my own experience that it was not true then, and that there are no evident indications that it is true now. In my youth our main energies were devoted to sport, pleasure and the problems of earning a living; and, as far as I can discover, exactly the same applies to-day.

We are also told, however, that "youth" is more serious now on account of the ever-present threat of nuclear war. It so happens that I spent all my boyhood and youth in Garrison Towns; and I was well aware of the ever-present threat of the war that eventually occurred in 1914, and which destroyed in Britain a large proportion of the young men of my generation. In the circles in which I moved the imminence of war was well realized, so well as to be almost a commonplace; yet I cannot recollect that either I or my friends were any "more serious" on its account; though we realized that the slaughter would be vast. The answer to all that sort of alarmist talk is that in this world one can only die once. Nothing more hangs over modem "youth" than hung over and eventually fell upon us, as it is unlikely to do upon them.

If "youth" were so passionately yearning for truth it would not be so open as it is to lying propaganda of every sort. Why, such propaganda is even telling us that in Britain we were prepared for the 1914 war and that it came as a complete surprise. Apart from the fact that these assertions contradict one another, the first is true only to a very limited extent and the second is a complete lie.

Mankind is seldom, if ever, interested in "truth" as a thing in itself. I owe the knowledge of the truth which is now the mainspring of my life to what appeared then to be accidentally coming across a book in the officers' library at Shoeburyness. God reveals His Truth only to those whom He calls.

Among us there is a widespread failure to appreciate just what "truth" is. The briefest definition is: Correspondence with things as they actually are. For instance, the almanac tells us that a total eclipse of the sun will be visible on a certain date at a certain time and place. We go, if we can, to that place and, at the time specified, the eclipse takes place. The statement in the almanac corresponded with certain future positions of sun, moon and earth: the statement was truth. Again, a text-book informs us that hydrogen and oxygen in certain proportions in given circumstances will combine to form water. We repeat the experiment and find that this is so. The statement is truth.

Such truths are inherent in the universe as it actually is; but some truths are not verifiable in this way. For instance, World War I broke out in 1914. I happen to know that this was so, for I lived through the experience; but the majority of people, being much younger, have to rely on my testimony and that of others and on the records of the period. Yet that is truth, too. On the other hand, if someone asserts that he is a hippopotamus, or that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden, or that the moon is made of green cheese; we may without hesitation dismiss the ideas. Why? Because they do not correspond with what actually is and can be proved not to correspond.

From all this, we may safely declare that reality, things as they actually are, means correspondence with some standard of comparison which is not subject to change and which is perpetually available to those who are equipped to consult it.

Once we get these points clearly and firmly in mind, we are able to consider intelligently what is meant by "spiritual truth." Actually, this term is very defective, for it is not to be found in Scripture and it can legitimately be used only as meaning "truth concerning matters that are spiritual or are concerned with the spirit in individual people of God, or with the Holy Spirit of God." If this is not borne in mind we can easily misuse the term dangerously.

Let us, then, reduce the issue to one brief question: How and where can we discover the truth about God, if such truth exists?

Actually, this implies two prior questions: Does God exist? Has He revealed Himself in any way? In the long run, every thing we have or desire in life depends on what answers we give to these questions.

As regards the first, there is in fact very little that can be said, because this problem is altogether different from any of those referred to above. We cannot check the existence of God against some standard of comparison; because, if the idea of "God" means anything at all, it must refer to something above and beyond everything else, the ultimate ground of being, the supreme idea against which all other ideas must be checked.

So the question, "Does God exist," resolves itself into an other: "Is there in the universe some standard of comparison so transcendent and all-embracing as to constitute one against which everything else has to be compared?" If we can say "Yes" to this, we have affirmatively answered the question. "Does God exist?" If not, we are in a position equivalent to that of a rudderless ship on a dark and stormy winter sea. We have nowhere to go, for there is nowhere we can go; for us, nothing is fixed, nothing certain.

Plenty of people deny that God exists; but I have yet to meet one who can explain lucidly why we should do good rather than evil, right rather than wrong, if there be no God. For it cannot be contended that doing good and right are at all evidently more profitable or convenient than doing evil and wrong; or, indeed that good and right even have any meaning in the absence of any absolute standard; or, one might well add, whether "meaning" itself has any meaning.

Some deny that there can possibly be any purpose in the universe. Man can generate" purpose" in his own affairs, but he cannot do so at all in larger matters. If there is "purpose" at all in our own planet, or in the Moon, or Mars, it certainly must be the product of some Person transcending ourselves. Recently it has been pointed out that matter is, by its nature, incapable of creating order. That is unquestionably true. Where order exists, it has been imposed on matter. The very air we breathe is composed of a vast number of molecules moving in completely random paths. Its physical properties are the consequence of its randomness. Only when mind comes into action can this randomness be modified; and, even then, it cannot be completely done away with. By suitable processes the oxygen nitrogen, etc. can be separated and confined in cylinders; but even in them the imprisoned gas remains in a state of random motion.

The foregoing reduces a very profound problem to its simplest terms, but that is in practise the only way to get to grips with it.

To talk of a "standard of comparison" as is done in the foregoing must sound difficult, but a few instances will make the point clear. At a shop you ask, say for six yards of a certain material, and the draper measures this out from a roll of the material using a yard scale let into the shop counter. How do you know you have received exactly six yards? Because it has been measured and you have seen it done. But how do you know that the scale is correct? Because it is officially tested from time to time and the draper is subject to severe penalties if he uses a false scale. But how do you know that the inspector's scale is itself correct? Because it in turn is periodically tested against a standard scale. That is ample for commercial purposes, but for research laboratories much finer tests are used. The whole of Physics is, in its ultimate essence, comparison with standards, and that applies to all the sciences. Usually the scientist, in addition to observation, refers eventually to data recorded in books; but these are not merely "something written in a book," they are records of experiments and facts (which imply measurements) made by someone else. No sane person complains because these data are printed in a book, though, strangely enough many effect deep disapproval when the Christian does the same with a book, the Sacred Scriptures. How else could records be preserved and made permanently available? True, microfilms, tape recorders, and the storage parts of computers are also used nowadays; but as records they differ in no essential from records in a book. In every department of human knowledge such records are necessary; and it is mere perversity to object to the Christian using them.

Fairly generally, in the modem world, it is appreciated that the material universe is itself the standard of comparison for all truth about it. If you come across a plant or animal unknown to you, those who possess and can understand and use the relevant books can name it for you, or if it happens to be a new species, will put it in its proper place in the scheme of things. If you want to know what happens when, say, you dissolve zinc in sulphuric acid; you can try the experiment involved or consult the appropriate books. Your standard of comparison is there; and the more we learn and record, the more accurate and comprehensive the standard becomes.

We know, however, that matter is not all that exists. For one thing, there is mind, the realm of thought, the side of man that is able to use the foregoing standards of comparison. Nor is that all. There is the realm of conduct, of right and wrong, good and evil.

Those who imagine they can get on very well without paying attention to such entities are actually in an untenable position. They recognise that the sum total of the material world is an entity which the combined minds of all the scientists cannot circumscribe or comprehend; yet they think, or pretend to think, that mind is irrelevant to it. Yet how can any mind rationally set aside what transcends it so overwhelmingly? To anyone with a scrap of intellectual humility there obviously must be a Mind that devised all these things, all these mysteries which our minds can only begin to grasp.

Even more is this true of moral and spiritual things. If right and wrong, good and evil, are mere conventions, devoid of meaning of their own, how can it matter what we think or what we do?

Pilate was in that predicament. A prisoner standing before him, said to him: "I into this, also, have been born, and into this have I come into the world, that I should be testifying to the truth. Every one who is of the truth is hearing My Voice." (John 18:37).

From the context it is plain that Pilate wished to do no harm. He was in the terrible position of being set face to face with something altogether outside his comprehension and experience while utterly unequipped to deal with his situation. His reply: " What is truth?" indicates that he was an educated man, familiar in some measure with the speculations of the philosophers of his day. In fact, it was a most profound reply, which demonstrated that he, like the world of his day, recognized the problem but could do nothing whatever towards meeting it.

From one point of view, the modem world is better off, in that it possesses the answer, and appreciates its significance, as regards material things. It recognizes that Science is Truth. Yet, in another way, it is worse off; for this achievement satisfies it up to a point, and thus serves to blind it to the existence of Truth in other matters. No man in Pilate's position now would answer exactly as he did. Rather, the reply would be: "Does Truth of the kind you mean exist?"

Even so, the reply of the Lord Jesus to this would be the same; for no other reply would be adequate or indeed possible.

That is because in Him is the fulness of the truth) and nowhere else. Although part of that truth was revealed before, in His prophets; it pointed to Him, and apart from Him could come to nothing.

These words of the Lord Jesus sum up the Truth. His birth, His coming into world were "into" one great purpose; that is, they were to interpenetrate and complete His testimony to the truth. The direct result of this is that His voice is heard by everyone for whom the truth in spiritual things matters; any person who is, one might say, a "the-truth-person" is hearing His voice. But poor Pilate was not, then at any rate, a "the-truth-person." He simply was not tuned into it, so he could not hear it. Whether an awful realization of what he had done ever came to him later, we do not know. Possibly, as sometimes happens, the fact of having been face to face with the Truth may have burnt into his being, so that eventually he might have come humbly to the One Who had stood before him. We shall never know in this life.

The only Truth is in Jesus, the Christ. The only way we can find this truth is in the records He left behind Him through His apostles and saints, in the Greek Scriptures. But can we believe them?

Definitely, yes. Not because any earthly authority says so, but because they are self-authenticating; just as the truth of the material universe is.

What we call, or used to call, the laws of nature are largely statistical generalisations or else order imposed on data by our own minds. Nevertheless, the more we dig into them, so to speak, the more clearly we see that they are self-authenticating. Never are they self-contradictory. Always, the same causes produce the same effects.

So with the Scriptures. On the surface they appear to show many self-contradictions and other flaws, just as does the material world around us. These are imposed on it, either by human carelessness and inaccuracy, or by our own private preconceptions and theories. Sweep away these imposed defects, and the Scriptures will be found to be self-consistent, and as perfect as the Lord Jesus Who caused them to be written for our learning. The faults we find in the Scriptures are the faults we have put into them ourselves.

For these Scriptures are not simply something in a book; they are a record of something that happened.

During a certain period, some nineteen centuries ago, a number of men and women came to be in a position to get direct contact with truth concerning God in a manner analogous with the way the research worker is now in direct contact with truth concerning the material universe. This period lasted only for something like forty years; but its essential features were recorded in what we call the "New Testament," the Greek Scriptures. The whole of this revelation is open to research by us in precisely the same way as the material things around us are open to research. The fact that they are contained in a slim volume does not affect this at all. As yet we are no more within sight of exhausting this volume's capacity than the scientist is of exhausting that of the material universe.

The fact that the time for contact with the Truth in spiritual matters was short) is unimportant and quite irrelevant. For centuries after that period there was no contact at all, as scientific researchers would understand it, with Truth of the material universe either. Only relatively recently has such contact been established. Just as in the Dark Ages what was thought to be Science was mostly subjective delusion, Pseudo-science; so in the present age of theological darkness what is almost universally reputed to be theological science is Pseudo-science also. It is all subjective, just as the then established so-called "Science" against which Galileo and others fought was entirely subjective. Men did not enquire by experiment, by direct examination of things as they are, what was the truth about things: they looked back to the guesses of their forefathers about what they imagined things ought to be.

Modern so-called "Theology" is in exactly the same state. Church leaders do not go back to Christ Who was The Truth, or to the records of what He came into the world to do. Their approach and methods are entirely subjective: what they rely on is what Professor X. or Dr. Y. teaches, or the things these men feel should be taught. So they are fixed even more firmly in the Dark Ages than were their predecessors a thousand years ago. The only difference is the kind of superstition they entertain.

The oddest thing about the whole business is that when research workers in Science become attracted by Christianity, they invariably leave their scientific method behind them. One, plainly a very earnest man, nevertheless accepted without question such ideas as that John's Gospel was not history but only gave the meaning of Christ's ministry (as if the others did not!); and that most of the epistles were written before the Gospels. He refers to the "brilliant research which informs us that Mark's Gospel is the earliest, written about AD 65-70" and that Matthew, Mark and Luke all consist "of both first-hand and second-hand material interwoven." Yet, in spite of his scientific training, it never seems to have occurred to him to investigate these theories for himself—not even the first of them, which flatly contradicts John's own assertion in John 20:31. Yet he must have known the very first principle of all investigation: "Go back to original sources, accept nothing as certain if second-hand." How he knows that this "research" was so "brilliant" he does not disclose; but it is all too evident that he is merely repeating what he has been told.

His strange blindness can to some extent be explained, though not excused, by the ridiculous contention of many ecclesiastics that theological truth is different in nature from scientific truth. Naturally, they avoid explaining their meaningless assertion. If they made the attempt; its absurdity would be so obvious that nobody could be deceived by it.

To us is given the high task and great honour of pointing the way back to the Truth of God as revealed in Him Who is the Truth.

The purpose of these chapters is to investigate what the Scriptures have to say for themselves about Truth and the faith that is called for if we are to believe the Truth. For whether we like it or not, this is the battlefield chosen for us in our wrestling against spiritual forces of wickedness among the celestials. Only along this line of study can we adequately help those who desire the Truth, but are hampered or confused, by the many aspects of the Lie which beset us on all sides.

Part 2
Among the peculiarities of John's Gospel is the fact that the word faith, pistis, is absent from it; yet truth, alEtheia, occurs in it more frequently than in any other book of the Greek Scriptures (25 times) as also does the word believe, pisteuO. Plainly, we cannot explain this by saying that John preferred to avoid abstract ideas, for truth is as much an abstract idea as faith, and the verb to be true, occurs only in Gal. 4:16; Eph.4:15, not in John's writings at all. Possibly, in this respect John goes deepest into the underlying basis of faith; for common-sense assures us that without truth there can be no genuine faith. To believe a lie is not faith, it is credulity, it is the mark of the fool or the knave.

There are not many places in the Greek Scriptures where the contrast between truth and what is false is set out; but those that exist are worth examination.

The first is the answer by the Lord Jesus to the Jews exploding their claim that God was their Father. He contrasts the Slanderer talking of that which is false, and Himself speaking the truth. They are wanting to do the desires of their father, the Slanderer, who is talking of his own; yet Jesus Who is speaking the truth, they are not believing. The passage (John 8: 42-47), as literally as English idiom will allow, reads as follows:

Several vitally important facts emerge from this reply by the Lord Jesus. First, the ultimate basis of all evil is the lie. Second, the reason for the lie, any lie, is basically "out of his own"; that is to say, preoccupation with self and therefore repudiation of truth, for the source of truth is outside self. The Lord Jesus was saying truth because He came forth out of God, Who is truth. So the Lord Jesus Himself is truth, as He declared elsewhere in John's Gospel. Third, the Lord Jesus came forth out of God, so those for whom God is Father know His speech and love Him, for they are hearing the declaration of God. Fourth, the Slanderer is talking out of his own, he is devoted to self, so truth is not in him. Consequently, those of whom God is not Father are out of the Slanderer as father and so are wanting to do what their father desires. As he was man-killer from the start, so they wish to do likewise and to listen to the lie the Slanderer is talking. Fifth, as the Lord Jesus is saying truth, those who prefer the lie, not being out of God, are not hearing Him. Consequently, not hearing Him, not wanting to hear Him, they are not believing regarding Him.

So, already, the fact, suggested by common-sense, that without truth there can be no genuine faith, is established from Scripture. Whatever they may insist on declaring to the contrary, far too many people act as if, for them, faith means believing what they know to be untrue. This foolish idea is never stated outright, yet such folk behave as if that were what they thought. The only other passage where believe and lie appear in close proximity is 2. Thess. 2:11, 12:

The direct fulfilment of this will be in the future; but the principle behind it is in a large measure effective now, as the majority of humanity press forward on their path to the coming apostasy. Only under the influence of satanic deception does mankind regard faith as believing what they know to be untrue; and the reason why, for them, "faith" in the lie exists is because the desires of the one who moulds their faith, their father the Slanderer, are necessarily their desires also. It all comes down to what people desire. If they desire the lie, their father the Slanderer is always ready and willing to provide them with it, and he does. The wishes of humanity, stricken with mortality and the sin and weakness that proceed from it, cannot do other than conform to the wishes (apart from God's intervention in grace) of the Slanderer who, ultimately, is the cause of the sin that brought about the mortality, and the mortality which brings about the sin which continually accentuates it.

Further light on this appears when we consider the preceding two verses (2. Thess. 2:9, 10) about the lawless one, "whose presence is according to Satan's operation, in all power and signs and lie-miracles, and in every seduction of the unrighteousness in those getting destruction; because the love of the truth they receive not into their salvation."

"The love of the truth"! How perfectly this harmonizes with the words of the Lord Jesus quoted above from John 8. And how strange it seems, at first glance, that writings so very different as this Gospel and this Epistle should touch at such a point. Yet, as always in Scripture, the harmony is perfect; for the seed of the lie is displayed in John 8:42-47 and its ripe fruit in 2. Thess. 2:3-12. And the love of the Truth would be into their salvation, literally. This love actually carries them into salvation. Without the love of the Truth there can be no faith, so there can be, no salvation; because believing regarding the Lord Jesus Christ is impossible without such love of the Truth; and, furthermore, such love can exist only in company with love of God; and this love can exist only in those who are themselves out of God.

Surely, however, is not this too great a thing to expect of any created being? Yes, in and by itself; but not in and by the love of God and the grace displayed by His love. "For as to grace you have become saved ones, through faith; and this not out of yourselves-the oblation of God-not out of works, lest anyone should be boasting. For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus on good works, which God makes ready beforehand, in order that in them we should be walking." (Eph. 2:8-10) The Greek preposition epi, followed by the Dative, as here, has the force of "resting upon" or "on the ground of," "on the basis of." So here, our creation in Christ Jesus is on the basis of good works which God makes ready for us beforehand.

Another important example is eph hO in Rom. 5:12. It is on the basis of the coming through of death into all mankind that all sinned. If that had not happened, all would not have sinned, at any rate in the inevitable conditions that now prevail. Sin could have come as it came to Adam; but the coming through of death means that sin has to come to us all after we enter the world.

To resume: neither does Ephesians fail to link up grace and faith with truth; for Paul writes, of Christ: "in Whom you also—hearing the word of the truth, the evangel of your salvation—in Whom, believing also, you were sealed with the Spirit of the promise, the Holy One. . . ." (Eph. 1:13).

So we are able to hear that word of the truth, the evangel of our salvation, because, as the Lord Jesus said in John 8, we are out of God; and we are out of God because we are His achievement, being created in Christ Jesus on good works—all made ready by God beforehand.

All this gives rise to ideas which those who have been thrown out of centre by over-emphasis on "dispensational" teachings must find strange and disturbing. For here we have a deepseated harmony between John's Gospel on the one hand and Ephesians and 2. Thessalonians on the other. Yet why should it disturb anyone to find harmony in God's Word? It is undoubtedly true that Paul's Epistles are primarily concerned with us, believers from the Gentiles, people altogether outside covenant, for such are the kind of folk they are addressed to; whereas the ministry of the Lord Jesus on earth was to the Covenant People; yet when we dig down to fundamental principles, we find, we must find, that they contain some matters that are the same for all. Proper discrimination takes these into account, it does not label everything as if it were the same.

Romans begins with God's Evangel, which is addressed to both Jews and Gentiles but which concerns them, not as Jews and Gentiles, but as sinners; yet when Paul has established this fundamental evangel, he has freed his hands to build up in the rest of the epistle his own evangel, which belongs only to Gentiles, concerns only those who are Gentiles or who, as self acknowledged sinners, come to God as Gentiles. This evangel, which Paul describes as "my Evangel" rises to its perfect expression in the Prison Epistles. Yet even in Ephesians there are elements that will be applicable to all God's people in the future as well as in the present, because they belong to the fundamental truths which run right through the Greek Scriptures. The new humanity is a realized fact for us at present, but it is certainly not ultimately to be confined to Gentiles as we are. This is essentially what is involved in the idea that has been called "rightly dividing the Word of Truth," more accurately, marking a straight, direct course in our understanding of it. Always must we make it our endeavour to distinguish between things that differ. That is, indeed, one of the main aims in all scientific research.

First, we have to distinguish between what is God's purpose, what is true, for all mankind at all times, and what is special to one particular set of conditions, such as conditions when one part of humanity is under covenant with God, or conditions when no such covenant exists, as at present. In turn, those two sets of conditions ought to be carefully distinguished from one another. Such distinctions are a vital element in God's Word; and if we confuse them or fail to get them straight in our minds, we are bound to run into error.

The boundary, generally described as "dispensational," though this is an unfortunate term as it has been so widely confused and misunderstood, is between what belongs to covenant and its sign, on the one hand, and the condition, and the people who enjoy that condition, of absolute freedom from covenant, on the other. The word enjoy is written deliberately; for while Paul's Evangel is in force, everything pertaining to Israel's covenants (except only what is wholly spiritual) is under the curse of the Law, broken, and impotent to bring about anything else. While present conditions persist, what pertains to this and to covenant has to be set aside so far as we are concerned; but that must not be made to mean that we are to set them aside for the future as spent and finally done with. So, in distinguishing between things that differ we must ever be most careful not to distinguish between things that do not differ. Trying to work out differences that do not exist apart from our pet theories is every bit as bad as suiting our theories by ignoring differences that do exist. Either act is evil and wholly harmful in its effects. It is of the essence of the lie.

Much error of this sort derives from the unfortunate rendering "dividing," which gives to the mind a bias towards thinking of the Word as something needing to be split into different parts. Thus under its influence everything has to be "divided," irrespective of whether it is, or even can be, "rightly" treated thus. So the Gospels have to be divided from Paul's Epistles, as they are supposed to belong to a different "dispensation." Apparently it has never occurred to those who favour that idea to enquire whether the Gospels can be confined to a "dispensation" in the sense meant by those who so divide them. Yet in this misconceived activity some difficulty is encountered in associating the Gospels of Matthew and John "dispensationally." Such passages as John 16:13 are pressed into service for this purpose. True, the Lord Jesus declared here that the Spirit of the truth would be guiding His friends (John 15:15) into all the truth (literally: "into the truth every"). Correctly, this is taken as meaning that further and complete truth was to be revealed; but that provides no justification whatever for making a concealed assumption that what had already been revealed by the Lord Jesus was not a part, and possibly (humanly speaking) even the most important part, of the whole truth. No sane builder would attempt to complete a building by removing the foundations.

We are in very great need of the truths revealed in John's Gospel; we may well be in far greater need of them than any of us now realize; as it is very questionable whether the truths revealed specially for ourselves by the Apostle Paul can be completely understood apart from these general truths record{d by the Apostle John. This is because in his Gospel in particular are set out some of the most wonderful unfoldings the Lord Jesus ever taught. Some treat them comparatively lightly; but they do not do well to regard them as inferior, even to the surpassing revelation granted to the Apostle Paul. "A disciple is not over his teacher, neither a slave over his lord. Sufficient to the disciple that he may be becoming as his teacher, and the slave as his lord" (Matt. 10:24, 25). Disciple is, literally, learner; and that is why as regards his Lord Paul was fully content "to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the participation of His sufferings." (Phil. 3:10). It never occurred to him to suppose that in becoming mouthpiece of the highest revelation of his Lord he was, somehow, rising above the teaching of his Lord. None of us should ever aspire to be regarded as anything higher than learners; and if God should on earth call us to higher honours, we need just as much to be humble and consider ourselves as still no more than learners.

In The Differentiator, Vol. 25, p. 55, Mr. Alexander Thomson suggested that the title of the entire Gospel of Matthew might well be "Jesus Christ's Lineage Scroll"; that is, the Book which shows Him as Israel's hereditary King. This idea is indeed attractive; and we might well take it further, and regard Mark 1:1 as the title of that Gospel and Luke 1:1-4 as a title preface of Luke's Gospel. Then it is but a step to regard John 1:1-5 similarly, with John 1:6-18 as an expanded Introduction. For that is, in fact, what those two passages actually amount to. Following them, we get a sequence of seed ideas that permeate the Gospel thereafter: the Word, life, light; and then as the Word becomes flesh, His glory, full of grace and truth. And so we arrive at the two key words of the Incarnation as it is unfolded by John: grace and truth in their fulness, and the fact that the grace and the truth came into being through Jesus Christ. So there we have it, at the very start. The fulness of truth came into being through Him; and the clash of this fulness of truth with the lie of the Slanderer and the unbelief of those who are wanting to be doing his desires, comes into view in John 8:42-47. These are foundation facts. They are not contradicted by anything which the Spirit of Truth guides people into subsequently, neither are they superseded.

The two passages we have been studying (John 8:42-47; 2. Thess. 2:9-11) are the main ones where truth and falsehood are contrasted. There remain Rom. 1:25: "who indeed alter the Truth of God into the lie"; Eph. 4:24, 25: "and to put on the new humanity, that according to God, being created in righteousness and benignity of the truth. Wherefore, putting off the lie, be talking truth each with his associate, seeing that we are members of one another." Lastly, the Apostle John's own comments on what is related, in his Epistle: "... no lie is out of the truth. Who is the liar if not the one disowning, (declaring) that Jesus is not the Christ? This one is the antichrist, the one disowning the Father and the Son." (1. John 2:22, 23). His other comment, the final occurrence, is in vv. 26, 27: "These things I write to you concerning those who are deceiving you. And the anointing which you obtained from Him is remaining in you, and you have no need that anyone should be teaching you; but as His anointing is teaching you concerning all, and is true and is no lie, even according as it teaches you, be remaining in it."

Here is something, chrisma, anointing, which is found only in these two passages; but the verb chriO, anoint, occurs five times, four of which (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb. 1:9) refer to the Lord Jesus Christ. These stand alone to all appearances; but not in actual fact for christos, Christ, means anointable. The ordinary rendering, anointed, is inadmissible, as -tos, the suffix, denotes ability, capability or worthiness. So Christ was "anointable" because He was worthy to be anointed. As He came up to God's standard, He was able to be anointed, and the first occurrence of chriO, Luke 4:18, sets out why He was anointed: "to evangelize as regards poor ones," as the literal translation of the Greek reads. Presently (Matt. 11:5), He tells the disciples of John the Baptist that "poor ones are being evangelized"; that is to say, He was carrying out what He was anointed to do. Acts 4:27 only refers to this anointing, and Acts 10:38 does so too, but there is reference to John the Baptist again just before; and the Apostle Peter adds that "God anoints Him with holy spirit and power." Heb. 1:9 is about His Throne and Kingdom.

Our anointing is from the Holy One, and John adds, "You have perceived all." (1. John 2:20). This is amplified by 1. John 2:26, 27, set out above. Those who have such anointing do not need to be taught by other people, for the Holy One will Himself do that. This contrasts strikingly with the condition of those referred to in Heb. 5:12: ". . . again you have need that one be teaching you what are the elements of the beginning of the oracles of God." So it is possible for the Christian in practise to miss the anointing, and in so doing to miss the teaching which he ought to receive; and, indeed, John adds the warning words: "even according as it teaches you, be remaining in it."

So in 2. Cor. 1:21, 22 the Apostle Paul lists four acts done by God: "confirming us together with you," "anoints us," "seals us," "giving the earnest of the spirit in our hearts."

In Eph. 4:20-22 Paul confirms the words quoted from John a short while back. After urging his readers not to be walking according as the Gentiles also are walking, he says: "Yet you did not thus learn the Christ, since surely you hear Him and in Him were taught (according as truth is in Jesus) to be putting off, as your previous behaviour, the old humanity. . . ."

That is the only way to be taught, in the Christ, the Anointable One, the One fit to be anointed, as His anointing is teaching us; and our anointing is as His own, with holy spirit and power. Though we, in the wonderful revelation of the body in 1. Cor. 12:12-14, plainly share the anointing with the Christ; it is not a thing exclusive to ourselves, but is applicable to all those to whom 1. John is itself applicable.

What John says about anointing he finishes off with a reference to doing righteousness, and this directs the mind back to our early reference to 2. Thess. 2:12: ". . . that all may be judged who are not believing in the truth but delighting in the unrighteousness." In fact, unrighteousness occurs in v. 10 too, and we would do well to turn back and read the translation of vv. 9-12 again. Disbelieving the truth and delighting in the unrighteousness are like the two sides of a coin. If you see one, then behind it lies the other. In fact, we may well doubt whether anyone who passionately loves and earnestly seeks the truth is ever really unrighteous. When Abraham believed God, it was reckoned to him as equivalent to righteousness. Yet if we look at what Abraham actually believed, though it was the same sort of thing as Paul exhorts us to believe, it was not the same thing. It was not what Abraham believed in believing God that mattered; it was that Abraham believed, and believed God. So the genuine truth-seeker is doing what Abraham' did, even though he may never have had the good fortune to come into contact with God's Evangel. If we look over the various people named in Scripture as "righteous," we will find that many of them had never been in a position to believe the Evangel or actually had any evangel at all to believe. They believed God, and for Him, that was enough. They believed Him where they could believe, so it is permissible for us to assume that with further light they would have believed further, as Cornelius did (Acts 10).

One of the most ominous characteristics of the present time is the paucity of people who seek truth for its own sake. Most, nearly all, research is directed to so-called practical ends, requirements of Governments or of industry, or for personal profit. If research is not "practical" it is not desired and it gets no assistance.

The first contact of truth and adikia, unrighteousness, in the Greek Scriptures is in Rom. 1:18: "For unveiling is God's indignation, from heaven, on every irreverence and unrighteousness of men who are retaining the truth in unrighteousness." The word katechO, rendered retain here, has the Greek elements down-have, an idea not easy to grasp in English; but I doubt if retaining is the best rendering here and, on reflection, prefer withholding. Such men as those have the truth in some measure; but they are keeping it down, withholding it from others. The verses that follow explain why.

"Those out, of faction and stubborn indeed as to the truth, yet persuaded as to the unrighteousness" are condemned in Rom. 2:8. "Love is not rejoicing over the unrighteousness, yet is jointly-rejoicing as to the truth" (1. Cor. 13:6). There is a delightful hint here that love's rejoicing is a collective affair. Lastly, 1. John 1:8-10 is a passage all too readily overlooked: "If we should be saying, 'Sin we have not,' we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we should be avowing our sin; faithful is He and righteous, that He may be forgiving our sins and should be cleansing us from every unrighteousness. If we should be saying 'We have not sinned,' liar we are making Him, and His Word is not in us."

From all these we readily see that truth is set against unrighteousness as definitely as it is set against lies. Why so many who have no excuse for not knowing better so pointedly shy away from the whole idea of righteousness, and also from its opposite, unrighteousness, would be a mystery but for the fact that the whole idea of righteousness and the faith on which alone it can be based, are the special targets of the enmity of the Adversary. And here it must be pointed out once more how wrong, even how damaging to our understanding of the truth, is the insistence of many versions on rendering adikia by injustice. The idea of "justice" does not come into this and cognate words at all. Even otherwise good men fall victim to this evil attack on the key-word of God's Evangel. They should reflect that the notion of justice is irrelevant to it. No question of "judging" the truth, as if it were in the dock, or even of judging one another, comes into this matter. The Greek word for judge, krinO, is entirely different from the set of words connected with righteousness or right. To drag a foreign idea by this means into these contexts comes perilously near to blasphemy against the truth.

What we have to do with truth is believe it. That is the position reduced to the simplest terms. And we have no excuse for not believing it, once it presents itself to us. To reinforce this point we must now study the contacts of the noun faith, and the verb believe, with truth in the Greek Scriptures.

Part 3
Before we start considering the words faith, believe and truth, it is as well to take a look at the distribution of these words in the Greek Scriptures. As we have already observed, the word pistis, faith, is absent from John's Gospel; and elsewhere in his writings occurs only in 1. John 5:4 and Rev. 2:13, 19; 13:10; 14:12; though every other book of the Greek Scriptures has it and it is particularly frequent in Romans, Galatians, 1. and 2. Timothy and Heb. 11. Yet pisteuO, believe, is far more frequent in John's Gospel than anywhere else, the next in frequency being Acts and Romans. We cannot explain this by asserting that the teaching of John's Gospel is essentially practical and therefore unfavourable for the use of abstract nouns; for alEtheia, truth, an abstract noun also, occurs far more frequently in John's Gospel than anywhere else, the next in proportion to their length being 1. John, 1. and 2. Timothy and Romans. Moreover, the noun alEthEs, true, occurs thirteen times in John's Gospel to twelve in the rest of the Greek Scriptures, and of these twelve, two are in 1. John and one in 3. John. Another word alEthinos, meaning real, occurs eight times in John's Gospel, four in 1. John and ten in Revelation, to five altogether elsewhere (Luke 16:11; 1. Thess. 1:9; Heb. 8:2; 9:24; 10:22). Perhaps there are several deductions to be made from these facts. For our present purpose the essential one is that the teaching of the Lord Jesus recorded by John deals with absolute fundamentals regarding grace and truth as they are in themselves, leaving the impact of these fundamentals, namely, their faith and what springs from it, on various people and classes of people, to the other writings. This subject is quite a wide one, and may be developed later.

We have already studied the first contact of truth with believe, which is in John 8:42-47. There is another in this Gospel, John 17:14-21, in the great final speech before the Lord Jesus was betrayed. There is no hint of this speech in the other Gospels, but it seems to have been made immediately before the Lord Jesus and His disciples came out to the Mount of Olives (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39) and the events in Gethsemane. It is impossible adequately to discuss this passage without setting it out first. It reads:

The very first thing we must do is rid our minds of any notion that this refers to what is commonly called "the Church"; that is, either what people ordinarily mean by the term, the whole community of Christians, real or nominal, of the present day, or "the church which is His body," which is the main theme of Paul's Evangel. It is so easy to read-in such ideas; perhaps it is one of the most popular of all errors; but the plain answer to them is that the word ekklEsia, church, occurs in the Gospels only in Matt. 16:19; 18:17. To insert it elsewhere is open unbelief, and a sure sign that the offender cares more for man's theories than for God's Word. The Lord Jesus began this passage with "I have given them Thy word"; but that is not the word such people desire.

In fact, the present popular craze for being ecumenical is based on the idea that the nominal "church" actually is the church which is Christ's body; and its present divided condition is described as "the broken body" which those who support the idea are almost feverishly striving to mend. Yet this idea is a mere guess, and wholly contrary to what the Apostle Paul teaches about "the body." This figurative body cannot be broken, by us, or by our divisions, or by anything else; for it is something which Christ makes, not ourselves. Errors, particularly of that sort, about "the body" are the surest signs of a basically heretical point of view; because those who support them are in so doing rejecting the Scriptures as the Word of God and, instead, using them as a collection of "proof texts" and even catch phrases.

Who are the "them" in the opening words of the passage quoted above? The answer is perfectly plain: Everyone whom the Father has given to His Son (17:2), the human beings whom the Father gives the Son out of the world (17:6). But, someone will ask, does not this mean ourselves? Yes, undoubtedly; but not ourselves only. The Lord said every one, the ones given to the Son out of the world. None of His assertion, taken as a whole, is open to argument or dispute; and only the unbeliever would argue or dispute about it. The facts definitely shut out any narrow allocation of these words; their scope is as wide as the whole human race. We have a part in it, but only because we, too, are out of the world; we too have become hallowed in truth, and we must not concern ourselves with the world. The modern glib talk about "world councils" and "world churches" is a flat contradiction of the Lord's words here; but that does not trouble the grievous wolves who first crept into, and have now seized control of, practically all the so-called Christian churches.

Yet, in actual fact, our commission in respect of these matters is a secondary one; for, relatively, we are little concerned with the kosmos, world; about which far more is said in John's writings than in the whole of Paul's. The verb apostellO, commission, occurs seven times in John 17 to four only in all the epistles named as Paul's, none of which speak in this way. Paul Was an apostle, that is, one commissioned; but his commission as regards the world was very limited, the only point of contact between apostle and world being in 1. Cor. 4:9: "For I suppose that God demonstrates with us, the last apostles, as death-doomed; seeing that we became gazing stock to the world and to angels and to men." So in this respect Paul's connection with the world was tenuous. His mission was not to gather men out of the world but to direct all who hear his Evangel into the way to righteousness, holiness and peace. Our connection is with John 17:2 rather than with John 17:6.

These words of the Lord Jesus, then, belong to those whose primary commission will be to the world, to such as are referred to in Matt. 26:13; Mark 14:9; whose glorious work will be to proclaim the Evangel of the Kingdom in the whole world, and the commission in Mark 16:15. None of these apply to us or directly concern us in any way at all.

All this shuts out finally and completely any notion that John 17:21-23 refers to the called-out company which is Christ's body. The unity of the body is here and now; and its aim is, emphatically, not that the world may be knowing that God commissions the Son (v. 23). The world does not care a straw about our unity, which is not the world's concern anyhow, or for that matter, about God's Son either. All this wonderful and beautiful prospect lies in the future and far beyond our earthly horizon. Those who pretend that it refers to our unity here and now, and our relationship with the world, are merely tarnishing it and dragging it in the mud. The unity here envisaged is explicitly that the world should be believing that the Father commissions the Son—a thing for which the world now has no regard; nor has it any interest in or concern for it.

Reserving 1. Cor. 13:6, 7 and Col. 1:4, 5 for later consideration, we pass on to Eph. 1:13, where Paul says of the Christ: "in Whom you also, hearing the word of the truth, the evangel of your salvation, in whom, believing also, were sealed as to the Spirit of the promise, the Holy (Spirit) . . . into praise of His glory." Here "the word of the truth" comes first, then believing it, then the sealing.

Having already considered 2. Thess. 2:10-13 we pass on to 1. Tim. 2:7. Here Paul states once again his appointment as herald and apostle, teacher of Gentiles in knowledge and truth. He emphasizes this with: "Truth I am saying, I am not lying." This reinforces our findings concerning John 17:14-21; for it contains no reference to the world, still less any commission into the world, to any unity other than that stated in v. 5: "For there is one God and one Mediator of God and mankind—Man, Christ, Jesus." The two passages could hardly be less alike in tone.

In 2. Tim. 2:18 we read of "Hymeneus and Philetus, who swerve round about the truth, saying that the resurrection has already come about; and are subverting the faith of some." This is another form of the antagonism of the truth and a lie, and of the damage those who put that antagonism against truth into practise do to the faith of their victims. Similarly, 2. Tim. 3:6-9 is an exposure of the works of evil men "in last days," described as those "who are withstanding the truth, men depraved in their mind, disqualified round about the faith." Lastly, in the epistle to Titus, Paul opens by declaring himself as "God's slave, yet Jesus Christ's apostle, according to faith of God's chosen ones and full knowledge of truth which is according to devoutness. . ." This does not lead up to any reference to the Evangel; but in v. 3 "the word of Him in proclamation with which I was entrusted" (very literally) suggests this. In view of these things, we might well consider the passages in which "truth" and "evangel" occur in the same context, especially after our reference to Eph. 1:13.

The first is 2. Cor. 4:2-4, which explains itself and is fully in accord with what has already been found. In Gal. 2:4, 5 Paul writes of "the false brethren smuggled in," and his repudiation of them so "that the truth of the Evangel should be continuing with you." In vv. 11-14 Cephas was self-condemned and "the remaining Jews are joint-hypocrite with him, so that Barnabas also was led away with their hypocrisy." So when Paul "perceived that they were not correct in their attitude toward the truth of the Evangel," he reproved Cephas in front of all. Eph. 6:13-17 deals with the panoply of God: "Stand, then, girded about your loins with truth, and putting on the cuirass of righteousness, and sandaling of the feet in readiness of the Evangel of the peace. . .." Note here the order of thought: truth, righteousness, evangel, peace—how certainly all is established in the first instance on truth. In Phil. 1:16-18 Paul writes of being located for the defence of the Evangel and rejoices that, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is being announced. In Col. 1:5, Paul writes of "the expectation which is reserved for you in the heavens, which you hear before in the word of the truth of the Evangel." The last is 2. Thess. 2:13, 14, which comes immediately after the passage we quoted earlier, 2. Thess. 2:9-12. After pronouncing judgment on all "who are unbelieving as regards the truth but delighting in the unrighteousness," Paul turns back to the Thessalonians themselves: "Now we ought to be thanking God always concerning you, brethren beloved by the Lord, seeing that God prefers you from the beginning into salvation, in hallowing of spirit and belief of truth, into which He calls you also through the Evangel of ours, into procuring of glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ." Here, as elsewhere, belief, faith, does not hang on nothingness, so to speak; it is always belief of truth, even if that is not actually said; and everyone who believes thus in present conditions is called into it through Paul's Evangel. Moreover, it is not too much to add that in future times, after we have been snatched away to be ever with the Lord, God's people will still be His in belief of truth, in faith in whatever Evangel is in force at the time.

Here we close this section of our study and can begin to draw the lessons from our findings. Possibly the most crucial passage that presents itself is 1. Corinthians 13. In it we find the word truth once, in contrast with unrighteousness. Love "is not rejoicing in the unrighteousness yet is jointly-rejoicing as to the truth," or "jointly-rejoicing with the truth" (1. Cor. 13:6, 7). The unusual verb here occurs also in 12:26, but elsewhere only in Luke 1:58; 15:6, 9; Phil. 2:17, 18. The force of it here is by no means obvious at first. However, on reflection, we can readily see that the meaning is: Love rejoices not in the unrighteousness that goes on all around us, but rejoices jointly with the truth. As truth makes its way, so love rejoices with it in its success. So we have love and truth, as it were, co-partners in God's plans, on terms of absolute equality of status and importance, not one in subordination in any way to the other. This unique idea is expressed in a usage of the verb sugchairO different from that found in its other six occurrences and perhaps unique also.

This suggests that the other contacts of truth and love should be examined. The one we have been studying, 1. Cor. 13:6, is the first of all. The contact in Gal. 5:6, 7 is only apparent, as the sequence is interrupted by a change of subject. Eph. 4:15 has the verb alEtheuO (only here and Gal. 4:16) and reads: "Now, being true, in love we should be growing into Him all these, Who is the Head, the Christ. .." Note carefully that here what is "in love" is consequent on "being true." Col. 1:4, 5 reads, literally, "hearing your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you are having into all the saints, because of the expecta tion which is reserved for you in the heavens, which you hear before in the word of the truth of the Evangel." This bears directly on 1. Corinthians 13; for the trio, faith, expectation, love, are reproduced, though in different order; and again truth takes the foremost place ("which you hear before"). The word of the truth of the Evangel is the basis, the sole basis, of the faith, the expectation, the love; so as before the priority of the truth is fully plain. The next, 2. Thess. 2:10, has already been looked at. The approach of the two words in Heb. 10:24 and 26 is not a real contact, and the same applies to 1. John 4:6, 7.

In the face of this, what can we rightly say of those who persist in following the gloss in the King James Version (A.V.) of Eph. 4:15, "speaking the truth in love"; and making the phrase "truth in love" almost a motto for right conduct? Some, we must acknowledge, know no better; but those who claim to be their teachers do know the facts here, or, if they do not know them, stand utterly condemned for their presumptuousness in daring to teach. For the idea behind the use of this gloss is that love is what matters, first, last and all along, and that the claims of truth are relatively of small moment. Thus, when we press the paramount claims of truth, such people insist that love ought to override every other consideration. They glibly quote; "Faith, hope, love, . . . but the greatest of these is love"—as if that closed all discussion once and for all. They cannot see, or they obstinately refuse to look at, the fact that the matter under discussion in 1. Corinthians 12 and 13 is "the spirituals" and, in Chapter 13, the three greatest, faith, expectation, love. Among these truth is not included. As we have just observed; as regards rejoicing, love ranks jointly with the truth; but this is the only reference to truth in the whole passage, because truth belongs to a different category of ideas.

That is the vital point. One can have faith, one can have expectation or hope, one can have love—at least in some measure—but truth is not something one can have. Faith is what happens when we believe, love is what happens when we love; but we cannot possibly say that "truth is what happens when we . ." No such sentence could be constructed. Some people, with reckless presumptuousness, declare that they have the truth; and by that very declaration we can at once class them as liars. Nobody, not even the cleverest, wisest, holiest of us "has" the truth. We can recognize that the Lord Jesus is the Truth, we can believe Him, and thus come into some knowledge of the truth; but Truth itself is His attribute, not ours; and it is not for us to claim it. At the best we can do no more than reflect God's Truth, as the moon reflects the sun's light. We can rightly think of "my faith," provided we recognize that ultimately it is God's gift to us; but to say, or even to think of, "my truth" is to be, in plain terms, merely ridiculous.

This is so in every department of thought. The Nuclear Physicist is searching all the time for something altogether outside himself, namely, the nature and properties of ultimate particles of matter. He is aware that the truth about them is something he is seeking for, not a quality in himself that has to grow as he cultivates it. He has faith—faith in the validity of Scientific Method. That is his faith. He may, and usually does, love his work. That is his love. But what he finds is truth—not his truth, but truth outside himself that he has ascertained. Those who carry out research into the Sacred Scriptures are in precisely the same position. Our faith, our expectation, our love, are higher than his; but Truth is God's, Truth is one and indivisible, whether the truth he is seeking or the truth we are seeking.

Instead of displaying this unlimited respect and even reverence for truth which the Christian as well as the Scientist has, the nominal Christian and the many unfortunate real Christians who are his dupes and, all too often, willing dupes, treat truth with a contempt that usually they do not even bother to hide. In so doing, they are allying themselves with the Slanderer and with the lie of which he is father. By their avoidance of truth, at best; and their hatred and contempt of it, at worst, they demonstrate that the Slanderer has them under his firm control.

Already the secret of the lawlessness of the lawless one is in operation, as the Apostle Paul tells us so plainly in 2. Thess. 2:7; but he does not add there that God has already sent them an operation of deception that they should believe the lie, for that is not yet true. Consequently, those who are deceived into believing lies now, at the present time, lack the excuse of those who in days to come will believe the lie. They are believing it because they wish to believe it, because they do not receive the love of the truth, for their salvation (2. Thess. 2:10). Such people and their successors will continue to exist in their present state of unbelief until the moment comes when "God will be sending them deception's operation, that they should believe the lie." For here "the lie" evidently is to be the summing up, the culmination, of all the lies that vex us and have vexed and distressed and damaged God's saints for centuries past.

Truth is what is real. It is the only reality. For what is falsehood is what is false, the imitation or distortion of the real that, in effect, denies and repudiates reality. Consequently, those who believe a lie, any lie, are by that very fact turning their backs on what is real. Sometimes they desire to escape reality by inventing a fairy tale world of their own, sometimes they want to escape the hard corners and sharp edges of life by sheltering behind dreams, sometimes they want to escape the heavy labour of study and thought by inventing an apparently simple formula that will by-pass immediate problems. This last is the favourite motive, and the commonest, among those who call themselves "believers" yet believe only part of Scripture. If they were to be honest with themselves and ask, "Whom am I believing, God or man, His Word or some self-appointed teacher's theories?" the spell would break at once and they could come into some knowledge of truth that eluded them. But this they cannot do, because there can be no honesty without truth, and truth is unattainable without an honest desire for it. So it all comes back to the two searching questions: "Do I want truth?" and "If so, am I prepared to bear the cross that comes with it?"

Startling though this may seem, the second question is in fact the crucial one.

"For the word of the cross, indeed, to those being destroyed is foolishness; yet to those being saved, to us, it is God's power" (1. Cor. 1:18). If we are preaching something that is wholly invalid for ourselves (in this instance, circumcision) "the snare of the cross of the Christ has vanished" (Gal. 5:11). And here is something even more searching: "As many as are willing to show a fair face in flesh, these are compelling you to be circumcised—only that, as to the cross of the Christ, Jesus, they may not suffer persecution." Here we have what some would call—if they said what they really think—a brutally frank exposure of the hypocrisy of those who are always willing to sacrifice truth in the interest of expediency. To the people of whom the Apostle Paul was writing, it did not matter one straw whether circumcision was right or wrong for the Galatians; the essential consideration, for them, was showing a fair face in flesh—that is, conforming to the wishes of the crowd for the sake of peace, as an act of "charity" in reality in order to avoid any risk of persecution. As always, the "charity," the "Christian love," is towards themselves, their own comfort, the avoidance of any hurt. It is an extremely convenient camouflage to hide the real motive—avoidance of the cross.

Many years ago, I attended a "house party" of the "Oxford Group," now called "M.R.A." One young man of their hierarchy told me of their successes, their enthusiastic meetings, the money that poured in and the good they were doing with it; and suggested that I might well seek to join them. I declined; and he then suggested that my reluctance was because there was not enough of the cross in my life. I admitted that there was not enough; but I pointed out to him that money, success and the plaudits of crowds were not my idea of the cross, still less God's as expressed in His Word. Instead, I invited him to join me in the lonely path of Truth, the thankless task of searching into the deep things of God and leading the very few who would listen on to that path and search. He turned away. His cross was the glittering bejewelled little cross the world loves so well, that one sees resting on the ample stomachs of so many prelates and church dignatories; not the cruel stake of failure and suffering of soul, loneliness, the contempt of the world and even its fierce persecution in many eras, and perhaps eventually in our own.

Part 4
Popular roads are never the way of the cross. Never is it trodden by the many. This way is always for the very few. It need not necessarily be a way of pain and suffering; though it may, and often does, become that. Being crucified as to the world (Gal. 6:14) means definite choice of truth first and definite rejection of the lies that the world esteems. It was the fact that the Lord Jesus was Himself the Truth that created the hatred which brought Him to the cross. The very first reference to anyone taking his cross and following behind the Lord Jesus is Matt. 10:38; and this is preceded by a reference to the duty of avowing Him (v. 32) and the assertion that He "came not to be casting peace, but (a) sword" (v. 34); and followed by: "he who is receiving Me is receiving Him Who commissions Me" (v. 40). Truth, receiving the Truth, avowing Him Who IS the Truth—these are the emphatic points here; and in the midst of them the terrible assertion of v. 34. So it has ever been. There is no peace where God's Truth and the Lord Jesus Who is Truth are despised, cast aside, rejected. The only peace is in creating the one New Humanity; the only reconciliation, through the cross (Eph. 2:15, 16). Christ Jesus humbles Himself, "becoming obedient unto death, even death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8). Those who likewise humble themselves are the only ones who have this disposition in them (Phil. 2:5).

Here we come to the root of the matter: pride. Most people, even most of those who regard themselves as "believers," have failed to humble themselves. They are not content to abase themselves before God, so they feel they must have something to offer Him, namely, what they conceive to be "the truth." They are not content to sit at the feet of the Lord Jesus and learn of Him Who is the Truth, so they have got to assert themselves by reading "the truth" as they imagine it to be into Scripture. They are not content to let the Holy Spirit lead them into all the truth, they must show Him how to do it. So in place of God's Truth they have a complex of doctrines of their own making or that of their leaders, supported by "texts" either out of context, or mistranslated, or both. Naturally, any attempt by anyone at all to question these doctrines is regarded as an attack on "the truth," to be contradicted, but never to be answered in the light of God's Word. When driven into a corner, such folk take refuge in angry abuse or offended silence. Their pride has been injured; so the offender responsible is beyond forgiveness.

"The enemies of the cross of Christ" are referred to by Paul in Phil. 3:18; and here he urges his readers not to walk thus but to "Become joint-imitators of me." That is the test of our sincerity. Are we joint-imitators of Paul? For if we are not, we are such enemies as he writes of. He adds: "and be noting those walking thus, according as you have us for model." Yes, indeed! We have Paul for model; and, one and all, we ought frankly to ask ourselves, as otherwise one day we shall have to stand before God and be asked in no uncertain terms: Are we walking with Paul for model?

Where do we find Paul compromising truth, sacrificing truth for the sake of love, let alone for the sake of the sort of spurious. love we find in operation all around us? There is no soft centre in Paul's message, no surrender to those who shrink from its hard corners and cutting edges. The sword of the Spirit bites ruthlessly and relentlessly through all shams—and it is a sword, not an imitation made of lath or paper. The sword of the Spirit is God's Word (Eph. 6:17). As Heb. 4:12 says: "For living is the Word of God, and active, and keener over every two-edged sword, and penetrating up to parting of soul and spirit, as well as of articulations and marrows, and judge of sentiments and heart thoughts; and there is not a creature not apparent in sight of it. Yet all is naked and laid bare to the eyes of Him toward Whom is the Word, as regards ourselves."

Some explanation of the closing words of the foregoing is called for, since they diverge considerably from the C.V. and other translations. The last words of the Greek are "autou pros on Emin ho logos"—word for word, "of him towards whom to us the word." The usual interpretation of this is "of him to whom we have to give an account," or as the C.V. renders it, "of Him to Whom we are accountable." I do not feel that this is close enough to the Greek; for it is hard to justify such a departure from the plain rendering of ho logos by the word. Nevertheless, it is for those better qualified that I am to decide this point, as it affects the main sense only little. Yet the way I have rendered it indicates a relationship to John 1:1. Surely, we can think of the Word as pointing towards God; as facing God and thus perceiving His glory and reflecting it on to ourselves; and also as a two-edged sword, laying bare everything within us, our real feelings, the actual thoughts of our hearts? Its fierce penetrating light is able to part soul and spirit; not, perhaps, in the way of slaying anyone, though that is by no means out of the question, but in making a definite distinction between what is of soul and what is of spirit.

The first reference to machaira, sword, in the Greek Scriptures is Matt. 10:34: "You should not be inferring that I came to be casting peace on the earth: I came not to be casting peace but (a) sword." These most stern words of the Lord Jesus have themselves disturbed peace down the centuries. The Lord goes on to display their direct fulfilment in setting man against father, daughter against mother, daughter-in-law against mother in-law, and He adds: "And the man's enemies are his house hold." Then He goes on to declare that He Himself has to come first in a person's affections. The first duty is taking one's cross and following behind.

All this is essentially for disciples of the Lord Jesus; and not only on this account but from its general context, primarily for them at the time and secondarily for Israel in days to come. Yet the principle underlying it applies to all God's people, and is not to be pushed aside because it appears inconvenient. To those who have any knowledge of history, this assertion by the Lord Jesus is the statement of a truism. This does not mean that we should treat it at all lightly. The fact that we see before us the history of this era as one long battle between the truth which came through Jesus Christ and the continual succession of heresies that have nearly, but never quite, swamped and submerged it; between the grace which came with Him and the enmity which brought Him to the cross and has ever since relentlessly assailed those who are His own; between the faith necessary for this grace to be received and subsequently in some measure realized in living even in our present state of mortality, and the unbelief which continually strives to counter it—all this is plain enough to the seeing eye. What gives it its full significance is that the Lord Jesus foresaw and declared that His mission was to cast a sword on the earth; and, most emphatically, not to bring, in this eon, any sort of peace, particularly the concept of peace by which the nominal Christian sets such store.

For us, there is peace, perfect peace; but it is the inward peace that is to be found only in His truth and complete trust in His faithfulness. There is no other; and it exists behind the front-line of incessant warfare that is, basically, warfare between God's Truth and the Slanderer's lie.

Regarding this, it is of the utmost importance to be quite clear that this does not mean warfare between ourselves and the liar or liars around us. For the Lord Jesus Himself declared later, "Turn away thy sword into its place; for those taking sword, in sword shall be destroyed" (Matt. 26:52). A particularly interesting feature of this event is the way John (John 18:10, 11) supplements Matthew's account here. Matthew avoids naming anyone; but John declares that it was Peter who drew the sword and Malchus who was the Chief Priest's slave. Also he adds: "Put the sword into the scabbard. The cup which the Father has given to Me, should I not in any way be drinking it?" For such an impetuous person as the Apostle Peter, nothing could be harder than to accept with patience such a challenge as the apprehension of the Lord Jesus. He had to learn, and we ought to learn, that we are not on any account to meet force with force. We are at war; nevertheless, "walking in flesh, we are not warring according to flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly" (2. Cor. 10:3, 4).

So the Lord Jesus had necessarily to drink the cup which the Father had given to Him; consequently He could not take any way of avoidance and particularly not the way of force. In the Canonical Order of Scripture which I am convinced is the order intended by the apostles from the first, the sequence of references to "the cup" round John 18:11 (the only place where he has the word) is deeply impressive. First, the cup of the Lord's Supper in Luke 22:17, 20, the prayer of resignation in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42, compare Matt. 26:39, 42), then John 18:11, then the cup of blessing (1. Cor. 10:16), the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils (10:21) and, lastly, the cup of the Lord's Supper again (11:25-28).

Accepting the cup involves accepting the way of sacrifice and suffering that necessarily accompanies it. By a paradox, it is the way of warfare; but not of warfare according to flesh—that is, not on our side, and not really on the side of our human opponents, however much they may seem to be warring against us. The word strateia, warfare, occurs only twice in the Greek Scriptures: in 2. Cor. 10:4, quoted above, and 1. Tim. 1:18, in the Apostle Paul's charge to the Apostle Timothy, to be "warring the ideal warfare, having faith and good conscience." However, there is another word to describe the effort we are called upon to sustain, palE, wrestle, which occurs only in Eph. 6:12: "Seeing that not to us (is) the wrestling towards blood and flesh; but towards the sovereignties, towards the authorities, towards the world-mights of this the darkness, towards the spirituals of the wickedness among the celestials."

This also assures us that our wrestling is not fleshly, though the word fleshly or carnal is not used, any more than our warfare is. We may seem to be warred against by our fellow men, often even by our fellow believers; but our real warfare is against the spiritual forces behind them. It is the triumph of the stratagems of the Slanderer that he deceives other men into making war on us; yet, in fact, they are no more than dummies and puppets from this point of view. The harm they can do us, as regards blood and flesh, is immense; but we must ever keep in mind that they are only the apparent enemy, just as we ourselves once were, also. That is why we are not to accept their challenge to battle, to carry on warfare against them, to wrestle with them. Their warfare on us is fleshly, but the warfare of the spiritual forces behind them is spiritual; so, all too easily, we can be diverted from the real struggle, which is spiritual, into a fleshly struggle altogether irrelevant to the realities of our situation and theirs.

Note well how the Slanderer comes into this! The very mention of his name should bring our minds hard up against the fact that the basic issue in our warfare and our wrestling is, as always, TRUTH, and nothing else. Ultimately, in this context, truth is the essential thing that matters. The Slanderer's main attack is always on truth. When he attacks faith, expectation or love, it is in order that he may undermine truth; because apart from truth these three become mere abstractions that have only the most shadowy existence. God is love, indeed, but the love of a non-existent "God" has no more existence than the nonexistent "God" can have; and faith in a non-existent" God" or expectation based on presumed promises of such a "God," are simply credulity. They are worthless in themselves and useless as something to lean on.

While this was being written, my attention happened to become switched to the attack made some twenty-five years ago on Mr. Alexander Thomson for pointing out errors in the 1930 Concordant Version. He was seeking truth in this matter, with no ulterior motive at all. Yet, quite soon, his struggle against the spiritual forces of evil was turned into fleshly warfare by those who found the truth he unveiled to be inconvenient. It overthrew an idol which they had erected for themselves; so, in turn, they sought to overthrow him and destroy his work. The significant feature of this affair was that the public warfare against Mr. Thomson was simply on account of the nuisance and disturbance he had created by making his revelations. Some attempt was made in private to cover the affair with some semblance of decency by assailing the facts he had adduced; but this met with no success at all. Throughout, nobody, apart from a few in the inner counsels of both sides, was ever allowed to become acquainted with the essential facts, because Mr. Thomson's critics refrained from disclosing them and his friends lacked the means of publicity. Such is the power of truth, however, that presently some of Mr. Thomson's findings appeared in a revised edition of the C.V.; but no public acknowledgment, let alone thanks, was ever accorded to him.

No people, however sympathetic by nature, can properly attempt to speak for others than themselves; so I can speak only for myself, and say that for me the greatest obstacle to faith in the Lord Jesus was uncertainty regarding the truth of Christianity. I needed TRUTH. I could not believe at all until I could believe that the Word of God was true, indeed, truly God's Word in the fullest sense. Others have, I know, gone through the same experience. I find it hard to think there is anyone who has really believed God who has not had something of this sort of doubt. How can those who have never cared enough for truth to be troubled with doubts ever fully overcome doubt and win through to faith? Human mortality and the weaknesses that accompany it always tend to make one believe what one wants to believe, to shirk the hard struggle to discover what IS, and to take the easy path of accepting what seems to be, particularly if that seeming is agreeable to fleshly desires or soulish inclinations. The yoke of the Lord Jesus is kindly and His load is light (Matt. 11:30)—yes, when one has lifted it upon oneself and begun to learn from Him—but it is the act of lifting that presents all the problems and difficulties; and, in fact, few only are called to receive it in this eon. Obedience to that call is possible only to those who are called; and that issue is in God's hands, not ours. Consequently, those to whom it has been given to receive His Truth owe it to Him to abase themselves utterly in humility and deep thankfulness to Him for His mercy and grace and, as it were the other side of a coin, to show the utmost mercy and grace to those who have not received that call.

Many delude themselves by describing themselves as believers and then imagining that this is all that is required of them. But Scripture does not say that "Abraham believes," just that, but that "Abraham believes God." No doubt, most of such people think they are believing God when, all the time, they are believing some system devised by other men. They are believers of this system, but not believers of God; and in practise they show little mercy on those who do believe.

Some time ago a man in Canada wrote to me pointing out that I was mistaken in my teaching about Israel and alleging that the British and American peoples were the real Israel. I replied with some salient points from papers by Mr. Thomson and myself which, I claimed, completely refuted his allegation; and I suggested that he owed it to us both, as well as to himself, to refute the case I had presented. No reply came. No reply exists; so I cannot blame him in that respect. Where I do blame him is for his indifference to truth. It is wholly irrational to claim to be "believer" unless one is prepared to defend one's belief and, if it is found to be faulty, to give it up for truth's sake. Moreover he was the one who started the correspondence; and, having started it, he had put himself under a moral obligation to carry it through. Evidently he lacked not only the courage of his convictions but also the ability to defend his own chosen case. What can one think of a person so unsure and confused, and yet so wanting in love for truth as he showed himself to be?

Surely there can be nothing more irrational than claiming to be a believer and yet being unable or unwilling to test what one claims to believe. What is the worth of a "faith" so feeble that it is in practise no better than mere credulity? Such people never care to ask themselves who they are claiming to believe or what they are claiming to believe.

Perhaps they rely on Eph. 2:8, literally: "For as to the grace you are ones having been experiencing salvation through the faith." The idea is that as regards the grace our God has shown to us, through the faith He has given us, we are in actual present experience enjoying something of the complete salvation which eventually is to be our lot. Yes, indeed; but what if the faith is the poor thin, feeble sort of faith we come across so often among us: Is it surprising that those who have such feeble faith find the salvation they experience is feeble too? The verb here is Middle, it is something in which the action is a matter of personal experience. Feeble faith means feeble life and feeble action, a weak spineless Christianity useless for the Master's service.

The most astonishing feature of all this is that such people can read Hebrews 11 without any apparent qualm of conscience. Admittedly the standard indicated is tremendously high, nevertheless in past times many ordinary people were able to rise to these heights of faith, and that has happened in our day too. Why, then, do so few people manage to attain to sufficient faith to be able to put truth first in their lives and pursue it with their whole heart?

The answer surely is that the heroic acts are done when the situation appears to be desperate; and no such furious spur to activity exists among the ordinary affairs of civilized living. In these easy conditions, truth matters just as much as it does under extreme stress, but it does not seem to matter. The mind is lulled into a false sense of security. Few realize how unreal and unsubstantial is this security; so few, very few, listen to warning voices.

No task is more difficult than to persuade those who call themselves "believers" to appreciate the paramount importance of truth. If the mental agility so many people devote to evading this issue were, instead, devoted to refuting what is false, we would all be in a very happy condition. Anyone who has ever put forward a plain assertion of Scripture to a person in authority who is teaching something apparently erroneous knows this to his sorrow. When I was young in years and very young indeed in the faith, I attended a meeting of the "Plymouth Brethren." Having heard of their struggles and many sacrifices to be able to expound the Word of God without interference from the leaders of the sects; I naturally, in my innocence, supposed that such freedom would readily be granted to me. So, after one elder had spoken, I ventured to quote from Dr. Bullinger. A moment of awful silence ensued; then I was told very plainly that it was not for such as me to question the statements of saints whose experience of the Word in years was greater than mine in weeks. The man who put me down added that the views of Dr. Bullinger were not mentioned in that assembly. Greatly daring, I replied that I was not querying or criticizing anyone; I was simply seeking the truth. The answer was plain and crushing: in effect, "Listen, and don't talk." That settled me. I had no further dealings with the Plymouth Brethren or with any other of the sects since. Those people bore the brand-mark of sectarianism plainly for all to see. Such are beyond human aid. We must leave them to the mercy of God.

In the light of the experience of a lifetime, I appreciate now the nature and extent of the offence I had committed: I had publicly exposed the poor man's incompetence as a teacher, and thereby deeply wounded his pride. Still, I was not to know that at the time and, anyhow, my naivety was excusable and his pride was not. This was my first experience of the kind of fool whose only desire in life is to dominate other people. I have shunned such folk ever since and done all I can to shun such folly in my self. Yet it is untrue to aver that they have nothing to teach us. I learnt from them a salutary lesson which I have never forgotten. Moreover, I learnt never on any account to think of myself as a teacher, but always as a learner or student.

Part 5
In the previous part we reached the conclusion that apparently most people feel that they must have someone to lean on. They ought to be content to lean on God and His Word; but doing that involves some measure of self-reliance, for to be able to lean on the Word one has first to believe that it truly is God's Word, and then, like the Bereans, to search it daily to see whether the things we are taught are so. This situation is a paradox. Yet there is no serious difficulty in perceiving why a paradox should exist. If God had created us as automata, like puppets in a show or complicated machines in a factory, we would have carried out His will completely. But we are not puppets; we are not even like the animals, whose response to stimuli is largely predictable; we have considerable freedom of choice, which means that, again and again, we have to choose. Choice, however, is impossible without some independence of mind and will; in other words, unless one stands firmly on one's own feet. God does not control our will unless and until we have first asserted it and then handed it over to Him. That done, it remains our will: we will what to do, but we will it in accord with what we know He would have us do. Then it becomes His will, but it is also ours; and if we are fully His, fully in accord with Him.

So to be able to choose to lean, one has first to learn to stand. God wants from us what we are able to offer Him, not what we are unable either to offer or to withhold.

In the splendid description of the panoply of God, we are told to take it up that we may be enabled to stand in spite of the stratagems of the Slanderer (Eph. 6:11), "having effected all, to stand" (v. 13), "stand, then" (v. 14). Here, the plain meaning is that we should maintain the erect posture, in spite of all attacks. The verb stand here is histEmi: but there is another and much rarer verb, stEkO, stand firm or stand fast, take a firm stand, occurring only eight times. The first is in the answer of the Lord Jesus to Peter about the withered fig-tree. First, He exhorts Him to utter faith; and then, when standing fast praying, to be forgiving (Mark 11:24). The Lord Jesus was facing with resolution the climax of His ministry, and here He was exhorting the impetuous Peter to similar firm resolution. Rom. 14:4 has this word stEko, followed by two occurrences of histEmi. Very regrettably, here neither the A.V. nor the C.V. nor even Rotherham show the distinction. The free paraphrase indicated by Alford (slightly altered) appears to convey the sense best: "Who art thou who art judging Another's domestic servant? It is his own Master's matter, and His alone, that he remains in the place and estimation of a Christian, from which thou wouldest eject him; or falls. Now he will be made to stand (notwithstanding thy doubts of the correctness of his practise) for the Lord is able to make him stand" (p. 694).

The idea of this word is resolution to stand firm where one is. and in what one is called upon to endure. So Paul hopes to hear of the Philippians that they "are standing firm in one spirit", (with) one soul, competing together as to the faith of the Evangel and not allowing themselves to be startled at all by those who are opposing: which, indeed, is as regards them a token of destruction; yet of you, of salvation—and this from God—seeing that to you is graciously granted on behalf of Christ, not only to be believing into Him, but also to be suffering on behalf of Him", having the same contest as that which you are perceiving in me and now are hearing in me" (Phil. 1:27-30).

This is very much to the point in relation to what was written a while back about the attacks made on Mr. Alexander Thomson. We must stand firm in one spirit against the opposer. With one soul we must compete together as to the faith of the Evangel. We must not allow ourselves to be startled at all by those who are opposing the truth. Tragic, indeed, is it that these people are able to terrorize so many of us, even to the extent that we hide our fear of making a stand against them under the pretext or showing "charity" or "grace." But Paul himself was wholly free from such falseness. He believed into Christ. He suffered on behalf of Christ. But never did he betray Christ by failing to stand firm for Him.

This theme is later repeated in 1. Thess. 3:7, 8: "There fore, we are consoled, brethren, on you, on the every neceessity and affliction of ours, through your faith, that now we are living, if so be you are standing firm in (the) Lord." Here on is epi followed by a Dative, so has the force of being based upon. Also, Alford suggests that "living" means here that Paul was in full strength and freshness of life and did not feel the tribulations around him, because he was sure the Thessalonians were standing firm. And four times does he exhort his readers to stand firm. "Be watching! Be standing firm in the faith! Be manly! Be staunch! (1. Cor. 16:13, 14). "Stand firm, then, and be not again enthralled to slavery's yoke!" (Gal. 5:1). "Stand firm in (the) Lord, beloved of mine!" (Phil. 4:1). "Consequently, then, brethren, stand firm and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether through word or our epistle!" (2. Thess. 2:15).

The last of these follows upon Paul's warning about "the secret of the lawlessness" which "is already in action" (2. Thess. 2:7). Because the full operation of this prophecy lies in the future, there has been a tendency among us to overlook that its preparation has been going on from the early times or Paul's ministry. Much of our trouble nowadays stems from the fact that his warning was to a large extent ignored. The traditions taught by Paul through word were soon forgotten. We have slowly and painfully recovered some of them from what he called "our epistle," i.e. 1. Thessalonians, and the others; and a long and bitter struggle against opposition it has been! We have had to advance to re-take lost ground, as well as to stand firm on the ground we already possess, in the teeth of assault from false friends and bitter enemies. It must seem at first sight all wrong that we should have such adversaries to stand firm against; but that is the way of it in this eon; and the passages quoted above should brace us to endure with calm strength.

Many unbelievers think, or affect to think, that Christianity is a weak, even effeminate, sort of affair. Much of the blame for this rests squarely on the "Gentle Jesus" cult so common among half-believers. No travesty of the faith is less excusable, none more harmful in its effects. Those who propagate it do not know, because they have never troubled to find out, that the word gentle is never applied in Scripture to the Lord Jesus. Considerations of that sort do not appeal to such people; for they are concerned only with circulating their own pet fads, quite irrespective of whether there is any sort of ground for them.

The word occurs five times in the ordinary version, the A.V. Three times is it used for epieikEs, lenient, found in Phil. 4:5; 1. Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1. Peter 2:18; and twice for Epios, gentle, or mild in disposition, in 1. Thess. 2:7; 2. Tim. 2:24. All these can profitably be considered together, because the virtues of leniency and gentleness are usually associated; but for our immediate purpose 1. Peter 2:18 should be noted first, for it shuts out the "Gentle Jesus" idea completely. Peter tells his readers among household slaves of his time: "You, the domestic slaves, be in subjection to your owners, in all fear, not only to the good and lenient, but to the crooked also; for this is grace if, because of conscience towards God, anyone is undergoing sorrows, suffering wrongfully." Note well; nothing is said here about being lenient or gentle because the Lord Jesus was lenient or gentle. On the contrary! For, immediately afterwards, Peter's readers are exhorted to copy Christ in other and more positive ways (vv. 22-24). He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, He did not revile in retaliation for being reviled; suffering, He threatened not, bearing our sins.

Nothing could indicate more plainly the virile, vigorous, positive attitude adopted by the Lord Jesus. Not by any stretch of imagination could anything He did be interpreted as condoning evil or laying Himself open to any suspicion of condoning it. Had they been appropriate and true, Peter could have attributed gentleness and leniency to Him; but he did not. That was simply because those virtues were unsuitable for the conditions in which the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus was undertaken. And, as we read through the Gospels, we do not find 'gentleness and leniency. On the contrary, the Lord Jesus was generally a stern, unbending figure, as were the prophets who pointed forward to Him. His actions, like His demands and often His words, were firm and sometimes even ruthless. Early in His ministry He forcibly cleansed the Sanctuary in Jerusalem (John 2:13-17). At the end, after His first entry into Jerusalem, He cleansed the Sanctuary again (Matt. 21:12, 13; Mark 11:15, 19; Luke 19:45-47). True, He described Himself as meek (Matt. 11:29; 21:5); and so He was, in following the path of suffering unto death prepared for Him by His Father; but not in relation to evil and sin. There was nothing meek about His demand just before the latter declaration (Matt. 21:3). Rather, it was the command of a King.

In fact, that idea pervades Matthew's Gospel, the Gospel which portrays the Lord Jesus as Messiah and King and begins with a "Scroll of Lineage of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham." Soon, a rival king tried to destroy Him, John the Baptist proclaimed Him and His supremacy; and presently He Himself proclaimed, "Repent! for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near" (Matt. 4:17); and then He set out the code of conduct binding on those within His Kingdom. "The throngs were astonished at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority and not as the scribes" (7:28, 29). Soon, the failure of Israel to respond became evident, in spite of the wonderful works He did: and in Matthew 13 He announced that the inevitable consequence of their unbelief had taken effect, and set out for those capable of understanding Him what all this meant.

Yet none of these matters declare, or are meant to imply, that the Lord Jesus was only the stern King. The simple truth is that He was meek and gentle and kind where meekness, gentleness and kindness were appropriate; but not when they were unsuited to the circumstances of the occasion. As in most of the events recorded in the Gospels the matters in view were of an altogether more serious and even sterner nature. That adequately explains why so little is said of His milder characteristics. They are there, and they show themselves plainly in the background of the narratives; but they are not displayed as outstanding features because the whole setting was too serious, even grim, for them to be suitably displayed without introducing an element of frivolity. The Gospels record the most tremendous event of all history. Anything that detracted from the tragic seriousness of this could only have cheapened them. Even joy hardly appears except at the birth and the resurrection of the Lord; and how soon after Pentecost does it vanish!

That is the core of the matter. There is no getting away from the fact that the "Jesus" of the churches is to some extent, and all too frequently to a large extent, a sentimental and even weak and feeble creature. The effect of this distorted portraiture is inevitably to inject an element of sentimentality and therefore unreality into the doctrine and practise of the churches; and this in turn makes what is supposed to be Christianity quite irrelevant to the stern realities of life. That is how it appears to those outside; and its effect on the believers or nominal believers who regard themselves as within is possibly even more serious. For them, the faith is not a thing to be struggled for, to brace and strengthen the believer to face courageously the problems of life. It lacks even the vitality to encourage the believer of this sort to face the problems of faith itself! Lying in a sort of cocoon of cotton-wool, he just dreams away, satisfied with a "faith" that in practise means little or nothing.

Anyone who may think this too severe has only to peruse a modern hymn-book or listen to a broadcast service. Almost invariably the whole thing is unfavourable to, and largely in compatible with, clear thinking, let alone bright, hard mental effort. People sing words which, if looked at in the cold light of day, as for instance in a newspaper, would be seen at once as feeble or meaningless where they are not sloppy and silly—and sloppy and silly thoughts produce sloppy and silly people, as they must!

Whether there ever was a time when it was possible safely to withdraw oneself into a private world of trivial make-believe is doubtful. Mental hospitals are filled with people who for various causes have tried to do that; and so are the churches. In the latter, however, there is not such extreme dedication to the attempt; and the result is unreality only in one department of life instead of the whole of it. This may itself sound extreme; yet perusal of what is known as "Christian literature" with reasonably careful attention readily shows that it is true. Anyone, in his business affairs, so slack and vague in thought as these things and the people who treasure them usually are, would soon be discharged by his employers, or find himself in the bankruptcy court, if working on his own account. In business, as in science, thoughts and acts are speedily measured against the hard facts of commercial life or plain reality; whereas if one sings nonsense or listens to unsound or illogical rhetoric in the pulpit, no immediate catastrophe ensues. What happens is that ability to receive spiritual truth declines and spiritual life withers away. Freed from these restraints, business success may even be enhanced. Disaster becomes apparent, not here and now, for the immediate future at any rate, but in the hour of need, when one is brought face to face with ultimate reality and no evasion is possible.

Beyond question, the faith was intended to give consolation, succour and courage to the weak, to the ailing, to the old, to the helpless; and these it gives to them by its own mighty strength, which derives from its truth and from God's love and grace which are its mainspring. Yes, by its own strength. For one of the outstanding features of Scripture is strength, tremendous strength. The Gospel narratives have the impression of such strength underlying everything in them. What other man who has ever lived could have been so truly a MAN as was the Lord Jesus Christ throughout His ministry? Why, it is filled with courage and strength such as are to be found nowhere else!

Not for nothing did the Apostle Paul write what he did about being strong, staunch, sober, sane. There was nothing weak or feeble about him. He tells us that the weakness of God is stronger than men (1. Cor. 1:25); and so is revealed the operation of the power of the strength which He has (Eph. 1:19) and the glory of the strength of the Lord, one day to exterminate His opponents (2. Thess. 1:9). Paul's brethren are exhorted to become invigorated in the Lord and in the power of the strength He has {Eph. 6:10) and so to put on the panoply of God. Thus Paul exhorts the Corinthians: "Become staunch!"; and yet he adds, "Let all things of yours come to be in love." There, surely, is the perfect and complete expression of the faith in action. And in Paul's second great prayer in Ephesians he prays on behalf of the saints that the Father may be giving them the power, according to the riches of the glory of the power which is His, to be made staunch through His Spirit (Eph. 3:16). Only twice elsewhere (Luke 1:80; 2:40) is this verb krataioO found. To us is given the immense privilege of sharing this virtue with the Lord Jesus Himself.

Both Paul and Peter three times urge their readers to be sober (nEphO), in 1. Thess. 5:6, 8; 2. Tim. 4:5 and 1. Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8; and Paul has the corresponding noun sober in 1. Tim. 3:2, 11; Titus 2:2. Sane (sOphrOn) occurs in 1. Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; 2:2, 5; and its verb sOphroneO, in Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35; Rom. 12:3; 2. Cor. 5:13; Titus 2:6; 1. Peter 4:7. Another verb, sOphronizO, bring to sanity or bring to a sense of duty occurs in Titus 2:4. The word sanity, sOphronismos, occurs in 2. Tim. 1:7 and saneness, sOphrosunE, the accompaniment of sanity, in Acts 26:25; 1. Tim. 2:9, 15. There are coincidences of these two ideas in 1. Tim. 3:2; Titus 2:2; 1. Peter 4:7; and it is important to note that nowhere in these contexts is there any disharmony between Paul and Peter, neither is there any vestige of the past weakness of the latter in his two epistles.

Sheer strength, with resolution and firmness, is an out standing feature of Paul's second Epistle to Timothy. When he wrote it, the situation was clearly desperate; but, equally clearly, the Apostle Paul himself was by no means desperate; and in this Epistle he braces the younger and junior Apostle to share his own courage and confidence, as we should learn to do also.

Another outstanding feature of this Epistle is the entire absence of sentimentality. There is none of that sloppiness and even cant which are so often the mark of insincerity where they are not simply an exhibition of feebleness and cowardice. So, just after the introductory words, Paul remarks the "God gives us, not a spirit of timidity, but of power and of love and of sanity" (2. Tim. 1:7). Thereupon, the younger Apostle is exhorted to suffer evil with him as regards the Evangel, according to God's power. Then, speaking of his sufferings, he says: "But I am not ashamed, for I am aware Whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard what is committed to me, into that day" (v. 12).

Behind it all is the essential meekness characteristic of Paul: as it was of his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. He prayed for mercy to Onesiphorous and his household. He was fully willing to suffer evil, and he exhorted Timothy likewise. He exhorted to gentleness, he prayed that the defection of others might not be counted against them. Yet there was no weakness in him; nor the pettiness and smallness of mind that accompany it. Paul the gentle was Paul the strong.

There are many who tell us that all we need is faith, that it is enough to believe God; and that we need not regard our life as one unceasing battle if we have sufficient faith. Taken at its face value, the first part is sound enough. Where it goes astray is in their interpretation of the second part, because that is a flat contradiction of what God has taught. If we refuse to believe what is most plainly asserted in the Sacred Scriptures, we are not believing God. Instead, we are believing the lie.

Probing down into this matter discloses that the cause of the error is misconception of the true scope of faith. Among those who have been influenced by extreme dispensationalism there is, a strong delusion that once one is "justified" by faith nothing else remains to be done. Even to mention "works" is to raise an outcry that Paul's Evangel is being departed from and even betrayed. Whether this fiction is a deliberate distortion of Paul's Evangel or merely stupidity and ignorance is hard to say; but its consequences are deplorable, and it is inexcusable. The second reference to faith in Ephesians should have killed any such idea, for in Eph. 2:8, 9 Paul says, literally: "For as to the grace you have achieved salvation through faith, and this not of yourselves: it is the oblation of God, not out of works, lest anyone should be boasting. For of Him we are achievement, being created in Christ Jesus on good works, which God makes ready beforehand that in them we should be walking."

Here is the issue, crystal clear. For salvation, faith. There upon, good works.

The sort of "faith" that leads its holder to imagine that he can go along and win through on it alone, is no faith at all. It has been the fashion among some to decry James for his insistence that faith without works is dead—but we need not rely on James to justify our insistence on the vital importance of works, for Paul's later epistles do this very effectually. We have only to look at 1. Tim. 2:10; 3:1; 5:10, 25; 6:18; 2. Tim. 2:21; 3:17; 4:5; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14 to perceive this truth, even though there is a warning (2. Tim. 1:9) against any idea that works can avail for salvation.

King James' Version (the A.V.) was very good in this respect, though occasionally it had "deeds" instead of "works"; but in the passages listed above and in James' Epistle it was strictly concordant, and therefore never misleading, with this word. It is therefore all the more regrettable that the 1944 revision of the C.V. uses "act" or "acts" in more than half of the foregoing, though in James 2 it reads "works" throughout. This suggests an unconscious bias in the translator. Nevertheless, it is not unfair to say that among users of the C.V. there are some, at least, who show that bias in their dealings with others. It does not appear to have occurred to them that if through faith they have achieved salvation and are new creation in Christ Jesus, there is an absolute obligation on them to do good works, and that inevitably means to eschew evil works.

In Scripture, "faith" is the act of believing God. In this there is an element of paradox; for if it is something one does, it is to that extent a "work." There is no way of wording this definition of "faith" without incorporating, directly or implicitly, the idea of act, deed or work. But, most emphatically, it is not a "work" in the sense that the Apostle Paul uses the word in Romans 3 and 4; and, in fact, the very first occurrence of "works" in these (3:20) refers to them as "works of law." Moreover, in 3:27 Paul asks: "Where, then, is the boasting? It is debarred! Through what law? Of works? Not (so), but through faith's law." So, in this sense there is a sort of law which is "faith's law." That is why Paul can ask in 3:31, "Are we, then, nullifying law through the faith?" and answer, "Nay, we are sustaining law."

The conclusion of this matter is that, although there is such a thing as "faith's law" and that there is a sense in which faith is a "work," the element of "faith" in both puts both into an altogether category to "work" apart from faith or "works of law." The difference is that although "faith" is something done by ourselves, such as "Abraham believes God"; yet that ability to believe is itself God's gift. "Works of law" we can do or try to do, of our own volition; but we cannot believe unless we are first given—and these by God—something to believe, and the ability to believe it. That is, indeed, the essence of what Paul says in Rom. 10:14-21. This is usually regarded as a most mysterious passage; but it is so found only because the reader has not thought through the subject, as we have done above, in the light of Romans 1 to 4.

Part 6
Some readers, no doubt, will be inclined to object that all the foregoing matter may be plain enough in theory, but divorced from reality in ordinary experience. The force of this objection is appreciated; but there is the almost overwhelming practical difficulty that to cite an instance of its importance, even so far back as thirty or forty years ago, is to bring upon oneself a veritable hornet's nest of angry complaints. So I propose to go back some seventy years; though even with this I shall have to tread carefully, for an earlier paper I had prepared on this theme brought me such private censure that I did not care to publish it. So if I am over-reticent, the blame does not rest on me but on the extreme sensitiveness of others.

The original trouble arose when extracts from a book published by a well-known teacher was criticised by another, who described them as "heretical and awful teaching." Subsequently, two different periodicals published a disclaimer by the writer of the book; but, so far as I can discover, he never explained how the statements complained of could be reconciled with Scripture, even if adjustments according to his disclaimer were made. Privately, it has been shown to me how some of them, at least, can be so read as to achieve such reconciliation, though, even so, I could not help feeling that the attempt was no more than "special pleading." Nevertheless, such attempts were the author's responsibility, and he did not appear ever to have made them. It is not for the reader to try to reconcile a writer's assertions with Scripture, but for the writer himself. My critic appeared to be blaming me for not appreciating the writer's meaning!

Soon a third party, a very influential man, intervened. He deplored the terms used by the writer of the book and, though he regarded his disclaimer as "noble and candid," he added: "Not that even it is, to my thought, perfect in caution and precision." Yet he "grieved over the tone" of the protest, and asked whether nothing could have been said of the writer of the book in love.

The critic seems to have yielded to this pressure, for he accepted the appeal. And there, apart from a few quotations from writings by others, the matter was allowed to rest.

For our present purpose it is this shelving of the question that is the most serious issue; for after study of it, and meditation on it, I am convinced that both author and critic were victims of traditional error which they had inherited from others, and therefore that neither ought to be wholeheartedly condemned for their mistaken attempts to make the best of their faulty inheritance. So far as I can discover, no serious effort to examine the book's teaching has been attempted since, presumably because nobody cared to risk a further rebuff. And apparently, it never occurred to anybody to question the desirability of, in effect, pretending that the dispute no longer existed; or if it did exist, was of little consequence.

Does anyone seriously contend that papering over the cracks will confer stability on a rickety building which is on the verge of collapse? That was the position in 1896. In 1966 the collapse is well-nigh complete. Then, there was a turning away from the Apostle Paul. Now, it is difficult to find anything at all in Scripture from which the churches have not generally turned away.

Well may we sigh at the thought of what might have been accomplished if, instead of deploring the tone of the protest, those with influence had urged both men to argue their case as keenly and publicly as possible, but without rancour; and even led the way by one of them offering himself as chairman and referee—not at any verbal contest, but in a calm and orderly discussion in print of the various issues. That, however, was not to be; and it was not the intervener (in this life, at least) but the many unfortunates, puzzled and distressed by the difficulties and problems involved in the dispute and denied the light and help that ought to have been given them, who had to pay the price of his folly and, to be wholly candid, wickedness.

To his honour, the critic of the book, although he dropped his case, made a protest against this failure,

Although this brave man did not depart one hair's breadth in them from his conviction concerning the teaching of the book's author, I do not see how any honest person can dispute the truth of those four short paragraphs with which he concludes. In them he places his finger squarely on the issue. If other leaders of past times and, alas! of our day too, had similarly put first things first, it would not only be the beginning of the end of our unhappy divisions but a return to conditions in which God would once again be reverenced among us. However, there is no reason to suppose that this can ever come about in present circumstances.

Talking about speaking in love, and about tenderness, in such contexts as these may sound very fine; but it is not so easy to justify it from Scripture. The verb to love and the noun love never appear in those passages which deal with judgment and overcoming evil, except by way of contrast. The sole occurrence in Matthew 24 is in v. 12, "the love of many will be cooling"; and the words are absent from Luke 17 and 18, and also from the first four chapters of Romans. Their occurrences in 2. Thessalonians refer to God's own people except one, 2. Thess. 2:10, which is of the same kind as Matt. 24:12, literally: "because they do not receive the love of the truth into being saved." In the Revelation, after Chapter 3, the verb is used only of the martyrs and "the beloved city."

This has brought us back to 2. Thess. 2:10, one of the deepest and most searching passages in all Scripture. The two epistles are the last of those addressed to churches, so we may expect to find that in many respects the others lead up to them. Paul had shown that faith is essential for righteousness and for salvation; but here he goes even deeper: the fact that the love of the truth is needed to take us into the condition to be saved. The inference is, therefore, that the love of the truth is needed for faith. And, when one comes to reflect on the matter, this is so obvious as to be self-evident. For faith in God is by its very nature a voluntary thing; we do not believe God unless we desire to. The path of faith is not open to any person at all who does not love the truth.

We see this fact from the reverse side in the following verses (11 and 12), which we examined at the start of these studies. The Greek itself shows a parallel which does not readily appear in the English, for we have literally in v. 10, "the love of the truth they do not receive into the to be saved," and in v. 11, "God will be sending deception's operation into the to believe them as to the lie." The act of receiving the love of the truth will bring them into a state in which they can be saved. If they fail to receive it, God will bring them into a state in which they can believe the lie and what is associated with it, through and through. Why does God choose to act thus? "That all may be judged who are not believing as regards the truth but are delighting in the unrighteousness." It is the unrighteousness they are delighting in, not the lie, for that comes only to those who do not delight in what is right.

How many of those who describe themselves as "believers" appreciate at all the tremendous implications of this? The trouble with so many of them is that they are prepared to believe just enough to scrape through (as they suppose) so that they can be saved, but not enough to go beyond this, to move forward into the full joy and blessedness of belief and salvation. Their failure to go beyond the bare minimum of belief has two consequences: their own fearful loss and, what is far more serious, the loss they bring about for others. It is to a large extent on them that the responsibility lies for our present weakness and failure. If their hearts were filled with burning love for their Lord and for His truth, instead of careless selfishness and indolence, putting self first and safety first; in place of being satisfied with believing themselves to be "saved" they would be driven by consuming desire to be so filled with truth and love that they could forget self and place Him at the forefront of every activity. But they are not; and that is the reason, the only reason, why our present situation is desperate.

We must not imagine that it was this affair in I896, or similar ones, that brought about the distresses of our situation now. Instead, the affair was no more than a plain symptom of the long-standing disease of spirit which has brought about our situation as it now is. If believers then had cared enough to insist then on a "showdown" between the two contestants, how different everything could have been. Yet, apart from a sprinkling of faithful men, they did not care. So a dispute over a vital issue was quietly blanketed, a problem that ought to have been solved was carefully shelved—all for the sake of what was called "love," and peace, but in reality because an open contest in which the issue would be thrashed out was felt to be inconvenient because it would unsettle so many established ideas and annoy the leaders of so many established institutions. What God thought seemed not to matter at all.

There is a story of King George III. that he was observed one day conning over a volume of Shakespeare and murmuring to himself, "Poor stuff—but one must not say so!" His taste in literature was exceedingly poor, but at least he had the worldly wisdom to try to keep the fact to himself. The believers who hushed up the dispute had this worldly wisdom in abundance. The pity is that they did know that it was stupidity in God's estimation (1. Cor. 3:19).

Few people seem able to realize that a schism is no less a schism because it has been hidden. In our day there is talk everywhere of reunion of Christians; but the movement is not to be based on any effort to return to first principles. Instead, in every manifestation of it, those who speak and write act as if there were no first principles to which to return. And, as regards themselves, this view is wholly right: they have no first principles. Their appeal is openly and nakedly to expediency. Any who have the courage to maintain that some item of reunion plans is contrary to their own principles are regarded as trouble-makers. And from the point of view of those who put expediency first, that is precisely what they are. The two notions are always incompatible.

And trouble-makers are what we are, if we are faithful to our Lord, Who Himself declared that He came not to be casting peace, but a sword (Matt. 10:24). For the Christian life is one of perpetual warfare against the spiritual hosts of the wickedness among the celestials. "But," someone may object, "that is very different from fighting our brethren!" Yes, indeed; but whose fault is it that our warfare is so often turned into fighting our brethren? Surely, those same spiritual hosts. Here one can only speak for oneself; and personally I can most solemnly declare that I have never wanted to fight a brother. My enemy is, and always has been, false doctrine and evil acts proceeding there from; and the same applies, I am sure, to the one who protested against the book referred to in the previous pages. If its author and his friends had been less sensitive in feelings, less centred around themselves, their work, their teachings; and more sensitive on behalf of God's truth and the spiritual welfare of His saints; they would have had no time for anger and no inclination to avoid full and free discussion. Rather, they would have welcomed the opportunity to put their doctrines on the firmest and most scriptural basis possible, knowing that truth itself has nothing to fear from straightforward criticism and discussion. Is it not, then, reasonable to suspect that their foundations were not so secure as they believed? Possibly, they even realized this subconsciously, and shrank from the realization.

False doctrines are almost always to a larger extent subjective. Never do we find their exponents declaring, "Thus saith the Lord" and pointing as well to the actual words of Scripture in their original form. Often they are keen believers in the verbal inspiration of some translation which does not happen to be either correct or adequate, or in some chosen teacher: that is to say, in man's words instead of God's Word. Most often of all, they believe in the verbal inspiration of their own ideas. Their minds are turned inwards, into some church or system, or their own particular congregation and its minister, or notions they have inherited from others, or in the worst cases their own thoughts and judgments. Their centre is self, instead of (as it ought to be) God, His Word and His works. Their real selves are most truly represented by a statute of Buddha, placidly contemplating its own calm self-centredness. One sees the same look on the countenance of a cat that has eaten a good meal and is comfortably crouched on a wall with fore-paws tucked in and eyes closed, wholly uninterested in anything but its own comfort and contentment.

The attitude of self-satisfaction is that most to be dreaded by us, for it is the complete antithesis of everything the Christian ought to feel. Many people hold in their minds some sort of picture of the Lord Jesus Christ; but surely very few, if any at all, carry a picture even remotely resembling that of Buddha. The thought of a figure so satisfied with self and environment enduring the cross, despising the shame, reaching the very furthest limit of suffering for our sakes, is too grotesque to be taken seriously. Yet so many who regard themselves as Christians are at heart like the self-satisfied ones. Fools! For it is those who are enduring who will be reigning together with Him (2. Tim. 2:12), not those who maintain the way of selfish ease. The sort of peace that is won at the expense of faith and truth is the peace of death, not of life.

Furthermore, that attitude is not to be found in the scientific research worker. Even if in his private life he may be self-centred, in his work he cannot be; for, all the time, he is looking outwards, to things outside himself as they actually are. Sometimes he will be pleased, satisfied and even self-satisfied when some endeavour is crowned with success; but always that success is the launching pad for further endeavour.

"Religion," so-called, is never like that. Those who practise it are never people probing into what lies beyond. They have some sort of idea of God) of Christ, even of the "saints," which they imagine to be something pointing outwards from self, towards which they are looking, or think they are. Yet, in fact, they are invariably gazing at an image of their own making projected, as it were, on a screen of their own devising. They sit and gaze at, they kneel, they even prostrate themselves, before this image. What they never do is test it to discover whether it is gold or merely gilded plaster. They have abstracted themselves from reality as it actually is and created a little imitation of reality as they imagine it to be, to suit themselves. Further ideas are rejected out of hand unless they fit into it.

An amusing story has been told me of a little girl during a Scripture lesson at school. The teacher had announced that Sunday is the Sabbath, and the little girl pointed out that Sunday is the first day of the week, whereas the Sabbath is the seventh. The teacher retorted that the seventh was the Jewish Sabbath; but the girl replied, quite correctly, that there is not any other sort of Sabbath. The teacher asserted her authority and closed the argument.

This affords an excellent example of the way the dogmas of "Religion" are manufactured. Church leaders, at some period, deemed it necessary to produce a substitute for the Jewish Sabbath. What more suitable day could be chosen than the one on which the Lord Jesus rose from the dead? But then came the problem: Just what day was it? This was readily solved by translating mian sabbatOn in Matt. 28:1 by "the first day of the week." So the conjuring trick was accomplished! The simple fact that this is impossible as a translation of the Greek was quietly glossed over. The idea was convenient: whether it was true just did not matter to these church leaders, blind leaders of the blind.

The practise of infant baptism is reached and defended by a rather different method. The "arguments" in support of it really boil down to one idea: "We consider it ought to be, so it must be." There is not so much as a scrap of evidence for the practise in the Scriptures. The whole process of evolving the cult is curiously like what passed for "Science" in the Dark Ages. An example is the famous "proof" that sunspots could not possibly exist: "The sun is the eye of heaven, and as it is impossible that the eye of heaven could suffer from ophthalmic, it is impossible that there can be spots on the sun." Apart from the fact that both premises are utterly absurd, the argument is valid.

Right through the Dark Ages, that was the way men thought, even the wisest of them. They supposed that all truth could be arrived at by the process of logic.

There is an element of truth in this idea, and that is probably why it held sway over men's minds for so long a time and still does to a large extent in theological matters. For if we had complete knowledge, it would be possible by chains of reasoning to show how all knowledge is a logical whole as well as complete. The catch in it is that we do not possess more than a fraction of the necessary data, even the basic data from which some of the remainder might be reasoned out. Where we have fairly full knowledge, we can systematize it. The fact that we can do this suggests that ultimately all knowledge could be systematized; but without the knowledge the systematization is impossible.

The old proverb, "You cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs" holds good here. If one can do no more than make guesses, no matter what one does with them the end product will be no nearer certain truth than they were. We must have something tangible with which to make our omelette, and it must be real as well. A porcelain egg is useless.

The times in which we live are supposed to be enlightened, and in many ways they are; but it, is a delusion to believe that enlightenment is universal. We are all by now well accustomed to the notion that if we wish to know what happens in any phenomenon, we examine it scientifically to find out. Therefore, it is astonishing at first sight to discover that outside the physical sciences this is by no means always done. Why should this be?

Part 7
Even now most people underestimate the crushing weight of tradition, even when what claims to be Science is in view. In the modem world we find that where scientific method is attempted, its application is often circumscribed by the terms of reference governing it. These are often hidden, only to make their appearance when results are obtained which are inconvenient, either to someone's reputation or to commercial interests. It took tremendous efforts to obtain recognition of the fact that the once famous "Piltdown skull" was a fake. More often than not, people believe what they want to believe, or what governments or scholastic authorities want them to believe.

This power of modem propaganda is almost overwhelming, and it is used without scruple. In fact, in an attack on those who believe Scripture, the "Church Times" of 2nd December, 1938, even wrote: "Fundamentalists, like Communists and Nazis, realize the importance of injecting their doctrines into the young whose minds must at the same time be closed against the reception of any other teaching." But the truth is that it is those who are opponents of faith in God's Word who see to it that minds are closed against the truth, otherwise their propaganda would not be so one-sided as it always is. This assertion is another example of the now well-known practise of accusing others of doing what one does, or is about to do, oneself. In our day, so strongly entrenched are the enemies of faith in God's Word that the true Christian seldom has a chance to do anything about it. As always in the past, though that fact has not generally been as obvious as it is now, no matter how strong our will to defend the truth, we can do nothing at all in that way outside the will of God and apart from His power.

The strength of modern propaganda methods is well understood by "the powers that be" in the various churches. So successfully are the facts withheld from "the laity," that is, people like you and me, that only by great effort can we discover them. One of the most effective methods, now more widespread than ever, is the presentation of faulty versions of the Scriptures. Never was a version more loudly and boldly proclaimed than the "New English Bible." Yet it contains far more faults than the A.V. or King James' Version. Rarely does it adequately correspond with the Greek text, of which it is claimed to be a translation. We are told that "it is an authoritative attempt to present the meaning of the original, as understood by the best available scholarship."

This claim has been discussed elsewhere, but one example can be cited here by way of illustration. Three times is a statement in Habakkuk 2:4 quoted in the epistles. In Greek it reads: "ho dikaios ek pisteOs zEsetai," literally in English "the righteous one out of faith shall be gaining life." The first quotation, Rom. 1:17, adds de, yet. The third, Heb. 10:38, does this also and in some texts adds mou, of me or my. But that is not good enough for the "New English Bible!" In Rom. 1:17 and the second, Gal. 3:11, it says something quite different: "He shall gain life who is justified through faith." This can fairly be described as a "howler"; but the third is too bad even for that: "And by faith my righteous servant shall find life." This is outrageous, and the outrage is obviously deliberate. These scholars (!) evidently could not even agree among themselves. As regards the third, the the before dikaios in the Greek is omitted. The words and and servant have no equivalent in the original Greek. Of the first two we need say no more than that dikaios is not a verb, and cannot possibly be rendered is justified by anyone with even the most elementary knowledge of Greek.

At once this raises the question whether among a certain set of ecclesiastics there is not an element of malice in their attitude towards God's Word. An outstanding example is in their treatment of Luke 23:45, where the Greek reads: kai eskotisthE ho hElios, and darkened was the sun. As Dean Burgon pointed out, most texts and versions read thus, the earliest being by Marcion, who flourished A.D. 130-150. Yet by the time of Origen, some copies read tou hEliou eklipontos, at the sun being eclipsed. Origen, and Jerome after him, pointed out that this was a physical impossibility, and opined that this alteration "was due to the enemies of Revelation, who sought in this way to provide them selves with a pretext for cavil." (Burgon) Now, Luke was a physician and therefore, by the standards of his age, a man of Science; and at that time Astronomy was a real science, because to a large extent it was, as it still is, based on observation and comparison. The times of eclipses could already be calculated well in advance and to a considerable degree of accuracy; and it was well-known that no total solar eclipse could possibly last for three hours or anything like that duration. Thus, it is altogether incredible that Luke could not have been well aware that a solar eclipse at or near the time of full moon was utterly impossible. Such a reading, plainly forged to discredit Scripture, only discredits Codex Aleph and Codex B, the sole authorities for it of any importance.

Yet the New English Bible has the effrontery to read: "By now it was about midday and there came a darkness over the whole land, which lasted till three in the afternoon; the sun was in eclipse." Origen and Jerome were right: this iniquitous rendering can be attributed only to malice. It is astonishing that those deceived by it can retain any faith at all in Luke's veracity.

But we have no need to deduce the existence of this malice, for it comes out plainly in the recent writings of certain ecclesiastics who write outspokenly of "the menace of Fundamentalism." One such says: "In fact we shall only preach the true gospel if we understand the menace of Fundamentalism and uncompromisingly condemn it." This hatred of "Fundamentalism" appears again and again. As far back as the 2nd December, 1938; a Leading Article in The Church Times bitterly attacked it; speaking of "the harmful effect of Fundamentalist propaganda" and did not hesitate to impute dishonesty thus: "When the Fundamentalist is hard pressed. he is always able to confuse the argument by directing attention to the differences between the higher critics, and to the arbitrary character of some critical theories." But why not? Why should all reference to such things be suppressed?

Presumably the answer is that in the eyes of our enemies the higher critics are themselves above criticism. And why not? Men who claim to know so much more about the authorship of the Hebrew Scriptures than the Lord Jesus Christ, and about the authorship of the Greek Scriptures than His apostles, must be—in their own eyes. Otherwise they would not dare to be so presumptuous. From time to time I have read articles and books by men of this sort; and I have found invariably that they have one outstanding characteristic in common: complete absence of humility. Only a person like that could criticize such writings as the Scriptures. Anyone with any humility at all must find their impact wholly shattering. That is why the better sort of unbeliever avoids them; their points are too sharp, their edges too cutting.

Scripture IS shattering. That is why it meets with such varied reception. Those who naturally love truth and, with God's help and by His calling, are able to break through the entanglements and snares with which its enemies have managed to surround it, come to find Scripture by far the most important thing in their lives; Those who feel its sting and who cannot bear what they have felt, turn against it in bitter hatred. The rest are too lazy and careless or too stupid to do either, or they have managed to blunt its words by changing them virtually into incantations. So they take good care to pass by on the other side, indirectly supporting the enemy by their cowardly evasion. That evasion allows them to escape a decision here and now; but in the long run it will have to be made, and what has by then been lost cannot be recovered.

Another enemy wrote in The Church Times of 16th October, 1959 :

He may well be correct in this, for one who studies and tries to absorb irrational ideas for too long a time is almost certain to become irrational himself.

That is the penalty of unbelief. Such unbelieving people are usually distressingly confused thinkers; but occasionally some one of them comes up with a statement that has a veneer (of rationality. The best example that I can find is in a letter by Mr. S. C. Watson in The Church Times of 2nd February, 1962, in' reply to a Mr. F. A. Rees, who had written:

To this Mr. Watson replied: Certainly the disciples and the first believers had "the fact of the Resurrection" before their eyes. Certainly the record came later than the events it recorded (Why had Mr. Watson to stress the obvious ?). Certainly those who saw the events did not need a record. But, equally certainly, as they were intelligent men, they foresaw that those who came after them could not possibly have "the fact of the Resurrection" before their eyes, and therefore that they would need a record of it. What other record could they have had but a written one?

Mr. Watson answers, "The living Lord in his living Church." Then why does this "living Church" trouble about this "written record," particularly if it has any "possible in accuracies"? Anyhow, the "living Lord" is no longer on earth; and, in fact, the Lord Jesus told His disciples quite plainly of the Spirit of the Truth Who would be guiding them into all the Truth" (John 16:13). Where, then, is the Truth to be found? In "his living Church"? But this entity is not mentioned in Scripture and does not exist in experience, for the teachings that claim to be those of "the Church" are as many and varied as the teachers. The Roman Church does indeed claim to be changeless; but it depends for its teaching on written records which, as a matter of indisputable fact, have changed or developed throughout the centuries and are nowadays changing before our eyes.

Furthermore, if others may use written records, why not the Christian?

Moreover, Mr. Watson does not dispense with a "record" altogether. He says:

Mr. Watson's idea is irrationalism in its most extreme form. In the absence of all written records; how could any sane person be expected to believe that certain extraordinary events occurred some nineteen centuries ago? Were it not for their self-consistency and their grandeur, the Greek Scriptures would barely be credible at all; yet Mr. Watson expects us to believe parts of them on the testimony of an entity that does not exist on earth. And, moreover, such men never define fully for us what parts we may believe, and why. The inextricable confusion in which these people involve themselves should for us to be a source of immense comfort, since confusion is a hallmark of error.

We are frequently told that we ought to accept without question the "assured results" of biblical criticism. What we are not told is why we ought to do this without any adequate assurance that the critics themselves have been adequately criticised. For that is the weak point of their whole system.

When I was about twenty years of age I abandoned Christianity completely because I found I could not believe its teachings as presented by those under the pervading influence of the critics. Their system, I was assured, was by that time established beyond any possibility of cavil. Presently I was persuaded to examine the Scriptures for myself; and so startling and convincing was the result that I went further and examined the writings of the critics for myself too. I was not sufficiently mature to be able to test their results properly; but I did make a discovery that settled the matter for me once and for all. I found that their methods were unsound and illogical, in fact, that they were unscientific to the point of absurdity. Nothing I have come across since has changed this finding in any way at all. The examples of muddled thought quoted above and elsewhere are not only typical of the critics, they are universal among them.

This is an extraordinary uncritical age! A man has only to be called a critic to become in the eyes of his neighbours above criticism himself. Whether he is competent does not seem to matter; he is a critic, so must not be criticised.

Another authority, Canon G. W. H. Lampe, writes as follows:

Here is another skilful evasion of the truth by means of a half-truth. It is not those who believe that Scripture is in the fullest sense God's Word who are trying to dictate how God must have acted, but the laws of thought themselves. If God's self-revelation is not the truth, but a mixture of truth and falsehood; then it is impossible for finite minds like ours to sort them out and unreasonable to accept it as a revelation of God at all. The Canon boldly asserts his paradox, but he does not attempt to prove it; If he is right in his assertion, then his must be a very queer sort of "God," and those who reject that sort of "God" have good sense on their side. He goes on to repeat the old gibe that our teaching "imprisons the Spirit within the narrow confines of the written word." Yet who is he, or anyone else, to dictate to the Spirit of God just how, and how much, He may reveal Himself? And what right has he to speak of "narrow" confines? It ought to be obvious to anyone with any intelligence at all that nothing would be gained by doubling the bulk of the Scriptures unless something fresh were added thereby that we needed to know in order to gain a better understanding of God's will. When we have mastered what already exists in those "narrow confines" it will be time enough to ask for more.

That the Canon is very far from this goal is painfully evident from his recent pronouncement that "the Resurrection was an absolutely objective fact, Christ really did return in glory from the dead and appear to his disciples; it is only the empty tomb that is a myth." He also writes of "a real but unbodily resurrection." If he had troubled to go through the occurrences of anastasis, resurrection, in the Greek Scriptures, it is possible, but I fear only just possible, that he might have perceived what nonsense he was writing. One thing is certain: only a man cursed with what is called "the modern mind" could present such a contradiction in terms as a serious contribution to thought. We are also informed that "the earliest view, which we find in St. Paul's epistles, did not imply the raising of the Lord's body. .." How he squares this with 1. Cor. 15:35-44 is (understandably) not explained; neither are we told how Paul's account can be the earliest, considering that it was derived from the Scriptures (15:3 and 4), that is to say, in accordance with written standards already in existence.
Elsewhere, in a much earlier pronouncement, Canon Lampe quotes "the contention of Mr. A. M. Stibbs (The New Bible Commentary) that 'a surer faith' would enable those who deny the authenticity of the Pastoral Epistles to accept them as Pauline." He puts his finger on what can only be adequately described as the besetting sin of most of those who called themselves "Fundamentalists," and he rightly pillories it. Moreover, behind it is a fundamental error to which most people who regard themselves as Christians are prone. The question whether Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles has not in any way to do with faith but with evidence. If the evidence against their Pauline authorship could be proved to be overwhelming, then "faith" would accept the fact without question. But if Peter, say, or Jude, had declared that they had been written by Paul, then "faith" would accept them as authentic. The sort of "faith" that involves "the unquestioning acceptance of propositions that are open to rational doubt" is not faith at all, but mere credulity.

Incidentally) most of the case against the Pastoral Epistles rests on the fact that "it is not easy to bring the circumstances, in which the Letters are represented as being written, into relation with the record of St. Paul's movements, as preserved in Acts." This fact is reinforced by some much less factual "facts": that Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote 2. Timothy, that Acts concludes with Paul's "two years incarceration in Rome," etc., all subjective and therefore of no real weight. The whole case rests on the (unstated) assumption that Acts is a complete history of Paul's ministry; so that as Acts contains no record of it after the "two whole years" (28:30), it must have ended then. Reduced to its simplest terms, the critical argument is this: "Because we know nothing of Paul's ministry after Acts 28:31 apart from what the Pastoral Epistles tell us, these epistles must be spurious." That is the sort of fatuous talk we always get from the critics! Yet, others have complained that Acts leaves untold so many things we would like to know. The two cancel one another out.

There is a further consideration which has a high evidential value but is too large a matter to be considered here: the way the Pastoral Epistles fit into the rest when examined microscopically. This cannot be said of even one of the many books generally regarded as apocryphal.

The Canon then goes on to discuss the practise of some Fundamentalists of reading their traditional dogmas into the Scriptures. Here his complaint is largely justified; and that is the reason why We should avoid the label. He says:

Again he is all too often right. The trouble with so many of those who claim to believe the Scriptures to be in the fullest sense the Word of God is that they insist on adding some man-made creed, even the so-called "Apostles' Creed." Thus, they flatly contradict themselves, and give to the unbeliever occasion for scorn.

And scorn they receive, and justly so! The Canon quotes Dr. Ramsey, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, thus:

This is a true saying! Would that we all could take it to heart, and go back to God's Holy Word, and nothing but His Holy Word.


Last updated 12.4.2006