The reception afforded to our first broadsheet was encouraging beyond our expectations, and after some unavoidable delay we now address ourselves to the task of fulfilling our promise to bring to the attention of our friends the crucial importance, in this present crisis, of an ADEQUATE DOCTRINE OF GOD.
The relegation of the divine to make way for the human even in regions sacred to evangelicalism, is symptomatic of the fateful disease which now afflicts the whole church. We have discovered widespread bewilderment and distress among ministers and people of the evangelical persuasion. While the defection of trusted leaders, and the modifying of the Reformed outlook among some who were regarded as champions, places in peril the entire movement towards Spiritual health which has promised so much in the last few years.
The modern age, which may be considered to have begun in the disaster of 1914 to throw off the last disguises of religious piety, exhibits itself now in naked paganism. The very idea of God is fast becoming incredible, and agnosticism is becoming exceedingly bold, even within the boundaries of the Christian church. The Age of Reason, inaugurated nearly two centuries ago on the continent of Europe, must have a last flowering, and that moment is now upon us. We are to expect that heathenism will return to its strength in the twilight of the human mind, and show itself in a worldwide surge of crude Satanism, with all its drapery of violence and immorality. This is happening before our eyes, and the error is openly and brazenly seating itself in the very precincts of the Church Visible.
Even amongst evangelicals there is widespread ignorance of the vital message of the Divine Word and this is palpable in our proneness to fall victim to a listless devotionalism without theological backbone, or to an evangelism which lays the chief emphasis on the human rather than the divine.
There is no significant field of human endeavour and thought which has not been invaded by the atheistic spirit which relegates God Almighty from the universe. The Doctrine of God is in tatters no matter where one may look, and it is a major requirement of the evangelical witness to rehabilitate the doctrine of the Almightiness of God in Creation.
It is a field of peculiar importance in the second half of the Twentieth Century. The DOCTRINE OF God as creator was not seriously in question in those ages that knew not Darwin. Now the greatly expanded field of scientific knowledge and achievement has been captured and dominated by the evolutionary hypothesis, and that hypothesis is now proved to be (what its early opponents feared. and were ridiculed for fearing) entirely atheistic and materialistic in its end product. The scientific heresy is clearly seen to be the devil’s trump card in the last deal against the fact of God. Not just in the purlieus of academic learning are its ravages to be marked. The political error of Communism is built upon the ground cleared by the Darwinist spade. Nor just in Moscow and Peking does the materialistic philosophy of an accidental creation reign, but in the best circles, of education and learning throughout the once Protestant and Reformed world. A Church divorced from faith in a totally inspired Bible has fallen a meek and, ready victim until today what is not a Pharisee wedded to useless forms and rituals is a Sadducee, denying the supernatural and relegating God to the category of a blind and impersonal force. At best, God is a being whose interest in the universe is confined chiefly to the recording of results. God reduced to the status of some vague and inconsequential computer.
ILL EQUIPPED FOR THE TASK
We repeat, it is a major requirement of evangelicals today to assert the Almightiness, Sovereignty and Absolute Wisdom of' God but alas, evangelicalism was never so ill-equipped to do its duty. How few there be who intelligently accent the doctrine of a predestinating God who formed the world for Himself spread it over with innumerable families of moral beings and selected this field for the working out of the drama of His own life in grace, redemption and righteous judgment.
Even fewer are those who are competent to declare that this is so, and are fearless to oppose the atheistic spirit of the last days at every vital point, and to demonstrate the total inspiration of the Divine Word.
At a time when mighty preaching is called for, the voice of the evangelical pulpit was never so feeble and debilitated. Nothing will survive in the confusion of the last days, but the old theology of the Almightiness, Holiness and Sovereign Wisdom of God who rules in Creation, Providence, History and Redemption, to whom the teeming nations are but a drop in the bucket, and who rules in the affairs of men according to His absolute will, even setting over the nations the very basest of men (Daniel 4:17).
The glory and the meaning of human endeavour in the field of testimony, sacrifice and martyrdom does not lose anything by the fact that it is submerged in the holy purpose of God, but it receives something of the gold of divinity as it becomes the willing response to the constraints of the Spirit of the Lord. In eternity it will be well known that Christ is the only One who is worthy. All other crowns are cast down before His. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power". (Psalm 110)
Those who believe in omnipotent predestination are not blind fatalists. Their God is the efficient First Cause in an all-wise, all penetrating, and universal providence, and they accept with thankfulness and worship, that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the Ending. History has proved that these are the people who have moved kingdoms, opened up continents, and bound the kings of the earth in chains and their nobles in fetters of iron.
WHAT DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY IS
By the Sovereignty of God we mean that the Supreme Being is, and must ever be, the originator of all causes, the controller of all results and effects, and the absolute Ruler in Creation, History, Providence, and Redemption, so that the entire drama of life moves onward according to predestined plan, down to the minutest detail, and works out the absolute pleasure and purpose of His perfect will.
While all right-minded persons are conscious that there can be no conflict between the divine decree and the fact of the true moral nature of the universe, it is equally and obviously true that there is no region of absolute liberty except ill the mind and will of God. The essential goodness of God is guarantee that in Him, absolute power is wedded to absolute wisdom and grace
The hearing which such a doctrine must have upon the attitudes and methods of worship, upon theology and upon “evangelism” is self-evident.
GOD IN CREATION
“Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:11)
It is essential that it be taught that not only is God the eternal Creator who made all things for Himself and for his own pleasure, but that Creation enshrines a purpose which must and will be achieved down to the minutest detail, and that its achievement will fill the entire realm of being with the praises of the Lord –“Thou art worthy O Lord to receive glory and honour and power”. (See first part of text above)
It follows that Creation itself is a necessary and inevitable act. It is unwise to say that God was free to create or not to create, for anything God does or has done. He was bound always to do, as the highest activity of His Being. The necessity of God’s nature and acts is a much neglected doctrine.
Only in Creation could God find the means to clothe His attributes with the garment of intelligibility, and only in the calling into being of countless myriads of sentient beings, endued with the image of His own moral nature, capable of seeing, hearing and applauding the vast panorama of His wisdom, perfection and grace, could He find an audience which would give back again the praise of His glory. There was nothing selfishness in that. There can be no selfishness in a Being in whom all originates and to whom all returns. “of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, to whom be glory for ever” (Rom. 11:36)
The Creation of men and angels infinitely expands the area of joy and blessedness which otherwise was confined in the eternal repose of the Blessed Three in the unison of the Godhead.
Let this true conception of Creation be set against the mindless, purposeless thing conceived by modern atheistic science - a mechanical accident occurring in the entirely fortuitous confluence of blind forces coming from nowhere, and departing no-one knows whither.
GOD IN REDEMPTION
If Creation is indeed the field or the theatre through which the glorious and fascinating drama of God's life moves to its fulfilment, what then is that fulfilment? There can be no hesitation in pointing to the fact of Redemption as the answer. The inspired Paul puts it this way.
“The earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God . . . the whole creation groans and travails in pain . . . and we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, even the redemption of our bodies “ (Rom. 8: 19-23).
The grand conclusion, in short, is that the pleasure of the Lord will be consummated in the uniting to Himself of an immense family of glorified beings in whom is reproduced the beauty and grace of His own nature and who evermore be the mirror of His perfection and joy. To achieve this magnificent end, God is prepared to pay the full price. That price is the surrender of His own life and its emergence on the other side of death, in a great act of atonement.
It is this act of reconciliation and redemption which is the key to all mysteries. The agony of God, by which love and grace come to their highest expression and most glorious fulfilment could only be experienced as God stepped down into His own Creation to bear in Himself the total evil of the world’s sin, and weave through the process of His own sorrows, that diadem which signifies His own worthiness to receive and be the bearer of all honour, power, riches, wisdom, strength, glory and blessing (Rev. 5:12). So the world becomes doubly His first because He made it, and then because He loved and redeemed it, and DESERVED the worship, homage admiration and adoration of all.
By this act of redemption God is likewise revealed as a holy and glorious Triunity of Persons. The Holy Trinity becomes an inevitable doctrine, as the pages of the drama are turned and the climax is reached at the Cross. There the Sufferer is revealed as God, yet as One also subject to God as Father, and who, through the Eternal Spirit offers Himself without spot to God (Heb. 9: 14).
That is why there could be no full and final revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity until after Calvary. It is by Redemption only, that God can be fully known.
The ultimate point of predestination is the manifestation of the mystery of the divine Being, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in the ineffable love, harmony and unison of their Persons as they pour themselves out in that great act of love and grace known as Redemption. The salvation of the elect is seen as the reward and gift of the Father to the Son in a bridal consummation of which the Holy Spirit is the pledge and seal. Behold our dowry!
GOD IN PROVIDENCE AND HISTORY
To achieve so grand a design as that we have indicated, it is evident that God must be as omnipotent in His direction and control of means as He is of all other considerations. His hand must be upon the page of history, and all the arrangements of His providence in the affairs of nations and empires, and all natural events, famine, flood, storm and tempest, life death seedtime and harvest, day and night, must likewise be at the sole disposition of His power and wisdom.
This is precisely what the Bible teaches. Moses declares that the very geography of the nations is determined according to the number of the children of Israel that is, according to God's purpose of redemption. Paul says the same when he tells the mocking philosophers of Athens that God has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of the nations’ habitations, and for this end, “that they might seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him and find Him”.
(see Deut. 32:8; Acts 17:26-27).
It will not be necessary to enlarge upon the proof of God’s sovereign hand in history, so long as the Book of Daniel is read, with its graphic map of the entire course of human events, in the rise and fall of the great monarchies, the coming of the Kingdom of God, and the subsequent ecclesiastical apostasy of which we need not now speak particularly. We make only the observation that it is beyond all dispute (to quote the great saying of Luther) that God foreknows because He predestinates.
Nowhere is this sovereignty of God more dramatically asserted than in that part of the book of Daniel which deals specifically with the contest, of God with the Satanically inspired heathenism endemic in the human race. It is of great significance that the declaration of His sovereignty is forced as a total confession from the mouth (and from the pen) of that king of the ancient world Nebuchadnezzar who symbolised in himself the, world’s relegation of God from the throne of the universe and from the throne of history. After his pride had been broken on the wheel of the divine contempt the once imperious man now “blessed the Most High and praised and honoured him who liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion and his kingdom from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of' the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, AND NONE CAN STAY HIS HAND OR SAY UNTO HIM, WHAT DOEST THOU?” (Daniel 4: 34-35).
THE HEAVENS DO RULE
Nebuchadnezzar’s reformed Theology represents a considerable advance on most theology today. We need to learn again, as he learned, that “the heavens do rule”. (Dan. 4: 26)
This great Book of Daniel with its exact tracing beforehand of the entire course of human history to the end of time almost with the precision of a calendar of accomplished events, is not only a supreme effort of Divine Inspiration, stamping the entire Bible with the imprimatur of the supernatural and the eternal, but is also a stupendous demonstration of the truth that God is in control of all history, and all events and all souls. He has the mastery of all opposition, and is the arbiter of all time. It is clearly unthinkable that God foretells the future without planning it. The orderly course of history traced by Daniel, the rise and fall of empires and kingdoms to clear the stage for the kingdom of God, and the progress of that Kingdom through time and history and against all opposition of human and satanic power, cleaving its way through the jungle of human sin and violence of human hate all this evinces plan and purpose: the working of a divine mind in consummate wisdom and omnipotent power.
God can only do this as He is in sole and absolute control of the destiny of all souls. The great events of the Christian Church are likewise subject to the same absolutism, and so are the events of the individual lives of the humblest believers, for whom all things are made to work together for their good.
Christ appeared in due time - the very time which God had prepared and ordained. In due time He died and in the precise manner which incomprehensible wisdom determined.
Mystery here! Of course. Are not the nature and the wisdom of God incomprehensible? Who can find out God or measure His thoughts? Who can guide the Spirit of the Lord or' give Him counsel?
But the fate of the wicked? That solemn fact is wrapped up with the moral nature of the universe –and it was not possible for God to create any universe but a moral one.
Accepting then the inevitability of moral failure, why proceed with the plan? Hush, my friend, and aspire not to things too high or you, as though you would climb the heights of heaven to bring God down. Holy and adorable wisdom decreed that it MUST be so. The advantages and recompense far outweigh the loss which human wisdom sees. Let that suffice. Further we cannot go. Who art thou that repliest against God?
Robert McCheyne of Dundee spoke for us all when, contemplating the mystery of his own conversion inquired “But why me. Lord? Why me?”
And the everlasting patience of God can afford even now to bear with the foolish boasting of men who write Him out of the universe and set up their own ensigns for signs.
A great day is coming when God will plant His banners on the very ramparts of hell, and in the glory of the Eternal Son will declare His Name and merits, His honour and worthiness, and there will be unanimity at last in Creation when all above and all beneath acknowledge that He is righteous, and none but He, and every conscience and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
The guarantee and the only guarantee that this will be so, is the Sovereign power of God.
They hold the key to the situation who stand just there. The one cure for bad doctrine, man-centred faith, bad worship and bad practice is a return to a submissive acknowledgment of this greatness of God in His prerogative of Creation and Redemption. We know of no other cure for the evangelical sickness which is today betraying our cause.