God and Christ
The many editorials written by A. E. Knoch for this magazine through the years contain a rich testimony to the deity of God. Reliance on the living God, His power, righteousness and love, as it is centered in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is a major theme throughout these brief writings. Starting with the following selections, slightly adapted for current needs, we propose to reprint some of these editorial thoughts as a series of meditations on the greatness of our God and His Word. We pray this will be helpful to many in the midst of their personal problems and struggles, directing their hearts into a growing confidence in God and the assurance of faith:
THE POTENCY OF TRUTH
THE fancied difficulties arising from a belief in the universal reconciliation are nothing compared with the traditional beliefs about fate of the “non-elect” dead. The millions who never heard the evangel and had humanly speaking not the slightest opportunity to believe– what of them? What of the character of God Himself, Who seems unable to bring His creation into harmony with His will and heart? What of the work of Christ as compared with the success of the Adversary?
There is no truth so potent as that of Colossians 1:20 in reaching those whom the traditional teaching has failed to touch. Nothing is so powerful in the case of the open infidel. Much of the gospel effort of today has lost its vitality and knows little of God’s sovereign grace. God grant that there may be a little reviving and that the recovery of these precious truths may rekindle the zeal of many, for the furtherance of the evangel!
GOD’S OWN PEACE
THE PEACE OF GOD, which is superior to every frame of mind, should preside in the hearts of all who have grasped the glories and grandeurs of our God, especially those who acknowledge Him as the only Creator and Reconciler of the universe. He commenced all, and He can bring it to its consummation. But, more than this, all is not only out of Him and for Him, but it is also through Him. Not only the past and the future, but the present is His concern. He is not unmindful of the stress and strain, the sorrow and the sighing, the confusion and the conflict which surround us now. Let us not be moved by these things, as though the reins had dropped from His hands, or His heart felt no concern in the tiny tribulations of this nether scene.
We have our trials in common with the world, from which we hear, above the din of the daily grind, above the hullaballoo of the medicine men who have remedies for all the earth’s varied ills, above the roar of the cannon on the fighting lines, a despairing but persistent cry of “Peace! Peace!” when there is no peace. We need not deceive ourselves as to this peace, or accept the marvelous fable that the pacific dove can only live and thrive in the iron hulls of dreadnaughts and tanks, and in the air perfumed with powder and poison and flame. Armaments are not a sure antidote against warfare. We know that the world can wish for peace, but it must prepare for war, for that is soon to appear on God’s program. This is not our peace. Indeed, our peace depends, in measure, upon the world’s lack of it, for it rests on God’s Word, which predicts the opposite.
We have our trials in fellowship with those whom God has called out of the world. In some countries, many have lost their very lives merely because they belonged to Him. Many a believer in other lands has had to suffer severely in seeking to gain a livelihood. Even in so-called Christian lands the strife in the nominal churches, or between the church and state, has led to much unrest.
Beyond all this, there is a special danger to the peace of those whose privilege it is to learn a little of the deeper things of God. Their own fellow sufferers for Christ and for His Word are disturbed when we present for their faith, truth long lost, and now not only unknown but despised. They remind us that these things disturb the peace of the saints and, therefore, cannot be of God. They exhort us not to make His glories known, lest we divide His own, and bring further strife into the household of the saints. They want no disturbance, for they fear that God cannot work in the midst of confusion.
How contrary is this to fact and truth? When has the greatest progress been made in the things of God? In times of stagnation, or in times of stress? In the upheavals of a reformation or in the stale sessions of an established church? Let us not be disturbed when God’s glorious truth brings trouble in its train. So it has ever been. It should not disturb us. Nay, it should be our delight to see God’s spirit at work convicting, troubling sinners, and convincing, distressing saints. These are but the pangs of progress, the precursory pains which must ever be the prelude to light and peace. Just as evil as a whole will eventuate in good, so also will these temporary and local ills lead to a knowledge of God, which is the only sure foundation of lasting peace.
We are reminded of the sons of Israel in Egypt when Moses and Aaron came to lead them out. What was the first effect? Because they demanded that the people leave Egypt to worship Yahweh in the wilderness, Pharaoh increased their burdens, and they had to rake together their own straw for the bricks they made. Their superintendents were smitten, and they went to Pharaoh, without avail. Then they encountered Moses and said to him, “May Yahweh see you, and may He judge, since you have caused our scent to stink in the eyes of Pharaoh” (Ex.5:21). Poor Moses, he was a troublemaker. Most of us can sympathize with him. So he went to Yahweh and said, “Yahweh, why have You done evil to this people? And why is this that You have sent me?” (5:22).
At first, the message of light and deliverance often makes matters far worse, and God does not step in to hinder it, for this evil is a necessary part of His purpose. But, in due time, God dealt with Pharaoh, and the people were delivered with a great deliverance. Let us take this to heart. We have a marvelous message for God’s dear people. In most cases it brings with it effects the very opposite of those which it promises. Our message brings unsurpassed peace—but it usually starts by stirring up strife. We have the true basis of unity—yet, at first, it may cause division. It displays and evokes in us the utmost grace and love. But its appearance may provoke exhibitions more nearly allied with detestation and hate. However, as in the case of Moses, God is only preparing for the display of His own glory by provoking its opposite at the start.
Let us not follow the example of Israel and berate God’s servants when their message seems to bear contradictory fruits at first. Nor let us be like Moses, and actually take God to task for not fulfilling His promises. God sent Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt, and who will deny that He did it? We usually forget the first disappointment. So let us not be disturbed by the effect of our endeavors to make known God’s glorious grace to sinner and to saint. Salvation through the blood is worth all the inconvenience it may cost. So also no amount of persecution or persuasion should keep us from proclaiming the grander glories of our God.
Just as, in the midst of the world’s unrest, we may be at perfect peace, so also, in the midst of the whirlpool of theological distress, we may rest serene and unafraid, confident that God’s hand is at the helm of our frail craft, and no current is too strong for Him to stem, no waves too violent for Him to pacify. He may seem to sleep, and have no care lest we perish, but how can He calm the storm if it does not arise? Let men rant and rage and roar! That is their part, and they must play it. All will subside when God’s time comes to calm the commotion. Some of His saints seek to keep the storm from coming. Others fill their lungs with air and blow with all their puny might against it. Let us sit by, unafraid, and see the salvation of the Lord. Let us at least come up to the standard of Job, and bless His Name for the evil we receive at His hands.
The preciousness of our peace springs from the surrounding turmoil. Let us look upon the trials and the tumults, the opposition and the persecution, the strife and the hatred as all from God. Let us not seek to keep Him out of it by lamely alleging that He allows it. It is, indeed, contrary to His will but necessary for His purpose. Let us value it accordingly. We should not merely endure it but thank God for it. Then, instead of disturbing and destroying our peace, it will contribute to it.
Peace is to be found only in God. He is the only stable and immovable point in the universe. Yet it is possible for all to be at peace in Him. As sinners, we received peace with God through the blood of Christ. As saints, it is our privilege to go far beyond this and to enjoy the peace of God. God is not worried as to the outcome of His eonian travail with His creatures. He knows all beforehand. But that is because every single detail of the present is not only within His control, but it fulfills its microscopic mission in preparing for and bringing about the grand consummation He has in view. That will be a time of perfect peace, but it could never be enjoyed or appreciated without the preceding panic of the present. Israel must suffer in Egypt before she can sing on the shores of the Red Sea. And God could dwell among them only as among a redeemed race.
May the peace of God preside in our hearts, not in spite of the unrest in the world and the strife among the saints, but because of it! The God out of Whom all is, and into Whom all tends, now operates all, and especially the evil, so that, in the consummation, His creatures will know good because of their experience of evil and will be able to praise and adore Him in a degree worthy of His Name and satisfying to His heart. Let us live in the realization that all is through Him now. Only thus may we really share God’s own peace–the peace of God.
OUT AND THROUGH AND FOR
WHAT DISTINGUISHES our position from that of many others is briefly summed up in a single passage of scripture, one of the simplest, yet by far the most comprehensive in the Word of God. It is this: “out of Him and through Him and for Him is all . . .” (Rom.11:36). We find the source of everything in God, the course of everything is according to His will, and He is the goal of all. The realization of this sublime truth gives comfort and stability and satisfaction, but above all, it glorifies God and His Christ.
All Scripture (when properly translated) is in full accord with this majestic summary of God’s course with His creatures. While this truth is so simple, it solves almost all of those knotty problems of theology which make the Bible so hard to understand for many people. If those new to these things will have a little patient perseverance they will be rewarded with such a grand and glorious conception of God and His purpose and grace as will turn their theological gropings into the brightness of the noonday sun, and will not only illumine the glory of God but the lives of those who step out of the shadows into His marvelous light.
OUT OF WHOM ALL IS
THAT all is out of God is the basic truth of divine revelation, yet who believes it? Almost all, even men who stand fearlessly for other truths, cannot break the bands of tradition, to acknowledge that evil as well as good is out of Him. The sad effect is that, not being able to glorify Him as God, they become vain in their reasonings, in their attempt to spare God the onus of evil. Almost all translators and expositors do their best to expunge this great truth from the Scriptures, so it seldom is allowed to reach our ears. When God says,
See now that I, I am He!
And there are no other elohim beside Me.
I Myself put to death, and I keep alive.
I have transfixed, and I Myself shall heal. (Deut.32:39)
We listen politely but do not think of believing what He says. God, we say, allows, permits, and bears with evil, but of course, He never began it! We are like the heathen, who usually have at least two gods, one good (whom we do not need to regard very seriously) and one evil (who is dangerous and needs to be propitiated). Yahweh Elohim Himself says:
I am Yahweh, and there is no other;
Except for Me, there is no Elohim . . . .
Former of light and Creator of darkness,
Maker of good and Creator of evil,
I, Yahweh, make all these. (Isa.45:5,7)
The most incredible explanations are offered to keep us from the fundamental of all fundamentals, that there is only one God. Satan is usually made the creator of evil. How foolish to flatly oppose God’s own words, and give His deity to another! Thanks be to Him that He alone is the Source of all, and has control of all, for only so could He bring His creation to its glorious goal! Let us revel in one God, the Father out of Whom all is, even the evil which He will transmute into glory for Himself and blessing for His creatures!
WE HAVE the precious privilege of giving thanks at all times and for all things: not for good things only, but for apparently bad things; not in seasons of prosperity alone, but when all seems dark and dismal, even “when all further expectation of being saved” (cp Acts 27:20), seems taken from us. All things, whatever their appearance, are cooperating for our welfare, and the keener our realization of God’s supervising care and control, the more ready we are to rejoice, even in the midst of sorrow and suffering.
It is not the mission of this little magazine merely to teach the truth, but to put our readers into the most intimate relations with God, Who is Truth.
It is possible to talk about the omnipotence, omnipresence, and immanence of the Deity, yet deny them in thought and action. The apostle Paul wished to attain, in his experience, to the resurrection life. So it is our privilege, not only to see the grand vision of God’s ultimate but to allow its rays to illumine our lives even now.
Unless God retains the reins of the universe in His hands today, He can never guide it to the goal. And, since He controls all and cares for His own, we must not only trust, we may not merely acquiesce, we should tune our hearts to continual thanksgiving, unphrased, inaudible perhaps, but grateful to the heart of God.
A. E. Knoch
“The Potency of Truth,” vol.13, p.133; “God’s Own Peace,” vol.26, pp.3-7; “Out and Through and For,” vol.15, p.5; “Out of Whom All Is,” vol.27, pp.257,258; “Thanking God,” vol.16, p.193.
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