THE SPIRIT OF THE WORD
THE INTERPLAY OF GOOD AND EVIL
by Ed Gregory
The reality of evil in the world with all of its accompanying miseries and sufferings staggers the mind of most people including Christians. They cannot understand why an all-powerful, loving God, who completely destroyed the works of the Devil through the death and resurrection of his Son, allows evil to continue to exist in the world. Today there are an increasing number of Christians who are being given a deeper understanding of this mystery. There will continue to exist in the universe an interplay of good and evil until our Lord Jesus Christ in his many-membered body fills all in all.A.P. Adams stated: "The Word of God untangles the great mystery of evil and shows us clearly that it is not an interloper in God's economy. It is not a foreign substance in the delicate fabric of God's great plan, obstructing and disarranging its intricate mechanism. It is a necessary part of the plan. It rightly belongs to that marvelous congeries of forces, that under the control and guidance of the one supreme mind, works and interworks steadily, without interruption and delay, to the glorious end of creating a divine and god-like race."
Evil does not co-exist with God and will under no circumstances be allowed to exist eternally as a blight upon the creation of God. Evil has boundaries that are set by an all-powerful God and they cannot be broken by Satan and his cohorts. All of Satan's powers are delegated and at no time can he go beyond the limits set of God. See Job, chapters 1 and 2. Satan is our enemy and at no time should we give place to him as a "roaring lion" or as "an angel of light." Through Jesus Christ and the power of his Spirit we have all power against the negative forces of darkness. However, we must not be children and fail to understand the purpose of evil in the universe. God uses the divine interplay of good and evil to establish his purposes and to teach us many deep lessons. Evil and our sad association with it was the thing that put us in a position to receive the mercy of God. Had it not been for our carnal minds and the over-indulgence of our flesh God could not have revealed himself to us in his mercy, long-suffering, compassion and forgiving love. "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us and we hereby perceive the love of God because Christ laid down his life for us."
Evil and our own association with it has taught us that there is nothing but heartache, misery and woe in it for us. The pleasure it affords is fleeting and leaves one empty and devoid of life, light or love. Well did Jesus say in John 10:10: "The thief comes not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." As evil has come against us and at times overwhelmed us we have learned through Jesus Christ and the power of his Spirit to overcome it----thus we see how this negative instrument and servant of God is used to bring us into the positive life and attributes of God. Those who are being brought into full maturity as Sons are learning that under no circumstance are they to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which almost all Christendom does including full-gospel and charismatic Christians). Whenever you allow your mind to think on evil or the negative realm and the power of Satan and his works you are giving place to him. We must learn in all circumstances to acknowledge God and to seek to understand why he is allowing evil to come against us. This is what it means to eat of the "tree of life." We recognize that there is only one true power in the universe and under all circumstances we acknowledge him. There is a vital principle here that is absolutely essential if we are to progress on into true Sonship. What we behold we become. "As a man thinks in his heart so is he." (Proverbs 23:7) Whatever you give your mind to will produce its corresponding emotions in the physical body. Great multitudes of God's people are filled with fear because they continue to fill their minds with the knowledge of good and evil. This births a duality in them and seriously retards spiritual growth. As you eat only from the Lord himself you will find God's love filling your mind and driving out every vestige of fear. Perfect love casts out all fear. The true mark of any ministry is the place it gives to the Lord Jesus Christ; to the power of his Spirit; to the authority of his Word; and to God's love being ministered to heal the whole person. Any ministry that is Satan centered and ministers fear among God's people is missing the mark.
If you will read such passages as Isa. 45:7; 1 Sam. 15:14; I Kings 22:23 and Job, chapters 1 and 2 and other related passages of scripture you will see how God uses the interplay of good and evil. "The Spirit drove (led) Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil." Why? Because we are not to be sheltered from exposure to evil, trials and suffering but are to completely overcome all vestiges of evil through our Lord Jesus Christ, who completely overcame evil. It was never God's intention that Adam and Eve remain in an innocent state in the Garden of Eden. Our Lord was not sheltered from evil but was in "all points tempted as we are." God is raising up a many-membered body of Sons who have completely overcome evil and will be used in the ages to come to rid the universe of evil. Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ!
Following is a message addressed to evil that was given by the Holy Spirit to Ed Richardson, a Spirit-anointed minister and teacher from Denver. He received this message on the evening before the funeral for Mrs. Pat Sibson. Pat was a dedicated, Spirit-filled Christian and a student at the College of the Rockies at the time of her death. She was found murdered outside the city of Denver. Her death has been used in some amazing ways to exalt our Lord Jesus Christ and to bring further understanding of the absolute triumph of good over evil.
"HEAR, O EVIL"
"Evil, we have something to say to you. And as we speak we do not deny your present power among men, nor the pain your intrusion has brought to each of us. You have raised your ugly head in our midst. You have pierced our side. Without mercy you have mortally wounded. You mock You scoff. You gape at us, your bleeding victims. You laugh with derision and hideous howl as a fiendish victor.
Yet, we have something to say to you. Know this, O Evil, we have learned what you have not, though your days have been long and ours quite short. We speak of your delusion--your defeat. For three things abide; only three realities remain. Under these all else shall be subdued; by these all else finally conquered. Not hate! Not lust! Not fear! None of these! Rather: Faith, and Hope, and Love.
FAITH in Jesus Christ, who gave Himself up for us all.HOPE in Jesus Christ, who shall make all things new.
LOVE, The Love of God, the final and consummating reality, to which everything and everyone else shall bow.
Hear our words, O Evil; they are sure. God has spoken. God has acted. This is your hour--your day. You show yourself plain. You foolishly boast of triumph and gain. There soon comes an hour--a day--an age--when your laughing shall be turned to wailing, your confidence to terror. Every victim bloodied by your ruthless hand shall rise up over you in that day. You see, while you were scheming in hate, we were living in love. While you were murdering in fear, we were dying in faith. While you were destroying in lust, we were enduring in hope. While you have been mocking and scowling, we have been praying,
"Our Father, which art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven
Our Father is God. Our Father hears us. His kingdom shall come!
Every evil plan of yours on earth is countered with the loving purpose of Almighty God in heaven. Every vile act of yours shall be swallowed up by the holy love of Jesus. Every thrust of spear and sword and knife is muted by forgiveness. Every man and woman and child you have ever deceived and used, to execute your deeds shall be embraced and liberated by their victims, and subdued by the loving judgment of God.
Then you will be naked.
You will be alone.
You will be stripped--your power shattered; you reign broken; your life gone.
No place shall remain for you.
Jesus is Lord! Not evil! Jesus is Lord! Remember him? One of your victims. Remember that day? Scandalous betrayal.....infamous trial.....cruel mockery.....ruthless beating. A hill.....a cross.....nails.....a spear. Meaningless piercing of the Son of God's side. The earth trembled; the sun hid its face. But that gaping wound spells your doom. His death is your death!
Death could not hold him. Look at that empty tomb! He whom you slaughtered is alive for evermore! Add more blood if you will; kill if you must kill. Death can not hold us! He lives---we live.
Our FAITH is in Him!
Our HOPE is in Him!
Our LOVE is towards Him!JESUS IS LORD!
You attack our faith with senseless brutality. You challenge our hope with death and distress. You threaten our love with vile deeds.
But hear this, O Evil, Jesus Christ Himself strengthens our faith. Jesus Christ enlarges our Hope. Jesus Christ deepens our Love. Even our death at your hand increases our triumph over you. You have bruised our heel; we shall crush your head!
Everything is ours! The world.....the present.....the future.....life.....death. All things are ours, and we are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Jesus is Lord." Amen.
The morning after Mrs. Margaret Fritsche of Denver heard of this tragic news she was in travail for Pat and her loved ones and the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to her:"They meant it for evil, but I meant it for good."
Then she sat down at the piano and received this beautiful song:
"THAT WONDERFUL STORY"
THAT WONDERFUL STORY,
HOW CHRIST LEFT HIS GLORY,
TO SUFFER FOR YOU AND FOR ME,
IS STILL BEING WRITTEN,
IN VESSELS THAT ARE SMITTEN.
PREPARED BEFORE, THAT ALL MAY SEE---
HIS MERCY EXTENDETH, TO ALL HIS CREATION,
FOR, FATHER, THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO,
THOUGH THEY MEANT IT FOR EVIL,
YOU MEANT IT FOR GOOD.
SO THEY COULD KNOW YOU, TOO,
THO' THE CUP BE POURED OUT,
GOD'S GREAT PLAN IS NOT IN DOUBT,
FOR TO YOU IT IS MADE VISIBLE,
THAT FROM DEATH COMETH LIFE,
EPISTLES NOT WRITTEN BY PEN OR BY MAN
ARE CONSTANTLY MAKING IT PLAIN----
THAT WONDERFUL STORY,
HOW CHRIST LEFT HIS GLORY,
IS WRITTEN FOR YOU AND FOR ME.
ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD
by A. P. Adams
There is no statement in the Bible, that was made by an apostle, that is more remarkable and even startling than this statement. When you think of it seriously, it seems as though Paul was very unguarded and careless in his language. We are apt to think that he ought to have modified and limited it in some way, such as for instance, all good things are of God.
But no, Paul makes the sweeping, unqualified statement, "All things are of (literally, out of) God." Furthermore, so important did Paul consider this truth that he repeats it over and over again. The direct statement is made no less than six times in the writings of the apostle. See Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6, and 11:12; 2 Cor. 5:18; Eph. 1:11, and Heb. 2:10. Now was the apostle careless and a little too bold in these utterances, or did he mean just what he said, and are they true, taken full strength? I say, without any hesitation, yes, to the two latter questions. The more we learn of God's works and ways the more we shall understand that in a sense absolutely "all things are of God;" or in other words, as it has been often expressed God is in everything. We will notice a few passages that will set forth the Bible teaching on this point.
Says Christ, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Matt. 10:29,30).
In Luke 12:6, we read, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God." Do you realize friend reader, the stupendous character of this statement? How many millions of sparrows think you are there in the world? And of course it is not sparrows alone that God cares for, but all creatures, not one of them is forgotten, and even the very hairs of your head are numbered. The great men of the earth manifest their greatness by their close attention to so called great things; the affairs of state, national interests, business ventures involving the risk of millions, vast philanthropic schemes, and such like matters of world-wide importance. These men generally have very little care, and pay very little attention to the common every-day affairs of life: But God, between whom and the greatest of all earth's great ones there is an infinite disparity, displays His greatness by caring for what would seem to be the most trivial interests of his creatures, like the numbering of the hairs of their heads, and taking notice of apparently the most unimportant events, like the falling of a single sparrow. Well may we exclaim with Faber, in view of such greatness,
O, God? thy loving greatness ever lies
Outside us like a boundless sea;
We cannot lose ourselves where all is home,
Nor drift away from thee.
Thus doth thy grandeur make us grand ourselves,
Thy goodness quells our fear;
Thy greatness makes us brave as children are
When those they love are near.
If you would see this thought of God's universal providence carried out in every detail, read Psalms 104, 107 and 147.
See the case of Joseph for an illustration of how God is in affairs of greater moment as it would seem. His unnatural brethren determined to kill him; (Gen. 37:12, etc). Being dissuaded from this they sell him to the Ishmaelites, thus bringing upon him a cruel servitude, and upon their aged father a heart- breaking agony. A blacker or more wicked deed could scarcely be imagined; and yet in the sequel of the story, when Joseph is made ruler of Egypt, and his brethren coming down to buy corn at last discover that he is their long-lost brother, whom they had so cruelly wronged, he reassures and comforts them by saying, "Now therefore, be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither, for God did send me before you to preserve life. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God." (Gen. 45:5,8). Could we have a more striking and positive illustration of how "all things are of God?" He is in everything. even in the crimes and cruelties of man. Take another illustration not so prominent in the Bible but just as positive. See Judges 14:1-4. Samson becomes enamored of a Philistine woman and must have her for his wife. In vain his parents try to dissuade him from so improper an alliance as it would seem, Samson is completely bewitched and insists upon having her. Who would suppose that God had anything particular to do with this apparently foolish love affair? and yet it was of him. For the 4th verse reads, "But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines." For another illustration see 2 Chron. 10:15, 11:4.
Another very striking example of how all things are of God is brought out in the case of the priestly house of Eli. Read l. Sam. 2:30-33. Now see how the fulfilment of this prediction was brought about in 1 Sam. 22:18-20. A more cold-blooded, barbarous butchery was never perpetrated, and yet it was the carrying out of the purpose of God. In 1 Sam. 2:31, God says, "I will cut off thy father's house." According to the account in chapter XXII, it was Doeg that did the awful deed, and yet it is plain to see how God was in it. Abiathar escaped the massacre; the denunciation was against the entire house of Eli. Abiathar must be banished from the priesthood. See how it was done in 1 King 2:26, 27. "So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord; to fulfil the word of the Lord, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh." Is not this a very plain illustration of the great truth we are considering. The awful deeds of wicked men are "of God" in such a sense that he makes them conducive to the carrying out of his own plans and brings good out of them in the end. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise him; the remainder of wrath [that which he cannot turn to his praise] will he restrain." "All are his servants." (Psa. 119:91 ). "Fire and hail, snow and vapour, and stormy wind fulfil his word." (Psa. 147:8).
The heathen king Cyrus is another illustration of this truth. See Isa. 45:1-7. Cyrus was God's "anointed" to do His work. God used him as an instrument to accomplish a certain purpose, though Cyrus knew not that he was thus being used of God; (See verses 4.5.). The case of the Assyrians is still more marked. God was using them just as the carpenter uses his tools. See Isa. 10:1-19; especially verse 15; and in the same connection see Jer. 51:19-20.
Again, see Josh. 11:15-20. Israel destroyed the Canaanites and made peace with none of them, except the Gibeonites, "For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle that He might destroy them utterly." See also a very remarkable illustration in Psa. 105: 25. God sent his people down into Egypt, having sent Joseph before them (verse 17; this verse confirms Joseph's own statement that God, and not his wicked brethren, sent him), to prepare the way for them. God increased his people and made them stronger than their enemies (verse 24) and now mark, "He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal deceitfully with his servants." What! did God incline the hearts of the Egyptians to hate his own people, to deal deceitfully with his own servants? So the record reads. Truly, "All things are of God."
Take still another illustration from the New Testament. The crucifixion of Christ is always looked upon as the most awful crime that ever was committed, and the perpetrators of it are considered as deserving the most severe retribution; and yet they simply did what God's hand and counsel determined before to be done, (Acts 4:28). And Peter tells us that Christ was "delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." (Acts 2:23). Thus we see how even this stupendous crime was of God, and since we know that he worketh all things after the counsel of his will," (Eph. 1:11), we can readily understand from the illustrations cited how true it is that "all things are of God." Thus in God's universal sovereignty fully established by the plain teachings of the word.)"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?" (Dan.4:35). See also Isa. 40 whole chapter, and Rev. 17:17.
To the child of God this truth is most precious and reassuring. It teaches us how absolutely safe we are while we "abide under the shadow of the Almighty." His power extends not simply to the smallest affairs, like the hairs of our head and the birds of the air, but also to greater things, individuals, communities, states. nations, and worlds, and no creature moves but by his appointment or permission. "All things are of God," therefore I can understand how all things work together for good to them that love God;" and how, also, all things shall yet turn for good to man, since God loves him. God uses the forces of the world whether human or otherwise —just as one would move the pieces on a chess-board. They are so many instruments, —tools, in his hands. Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if a rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood." (Isa. 10:15).
FREE MORAL AGENCY
by A. P. Adams
Do not the views set forth in the foregoing article clash with the doctrine of man's free moral agency? Do they not make him out to be a sort of a machine without any will of his own? Before answering these questions let me call the attention of the reader to the fact that the foregoing views are most plainly Scriptural. The many illustrations I have given (and I might give more) clearly set forth the absolute sovereignty of God. Let me also call attention to the fact that the phrase, "free moral agency," is not a Scriptural one, any more than the phrase "immortal soul" is Scriptural. Free moral agency is simply a theological expression, man-manufactured for his own convenience, and it may be that it does not express the truth. Let us by all means fit our theology to the Bible; and not try, as many do, to conform the Bible to our theology. Now then to the question. Is man a free moral agent? I answer most emphatically, no. Is he a machine then? Again I say no. What then is the truth? An agent is an actor, one who is able to act; a free agent is one who can act as he pleases without any restraint; a free moral agent is one who is free to act as he pleases on all moral questions, i.e. all questions involving the qualities of right and wrong. Now we do not hesitate to say that man is not a free moral agent. One passage of scripture would confirm this position if we had no other. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." (Psa. 76:10). If man is under restraint then he is not a free agent; and surely the illustrations we have given in the preceding article clearly show that God does restrain and control, and use man just as he pleases. And yet man is free; the Bible teaches it and I firmly believe it; but how free? Free as to his will, I answer; but not free as to his acts. He is a free moral chooser, but not a free moral actor. Man's will is free, he may choose what he pleases. His purposes, determinations, volitions, are entirely under his own control and guidance. But his actions are controlled and directed and over-ruled by God. We have seen this to be true in the illustrations we have already given. Let us notice another. The Jews were exceedingly desirous of getting Paul out of the way; they wanted to kill him. Paul was arrested and forty Jews banded together under a great curse that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed him. (Acts 23:12). I do not know whether these wicked Jews kept their oath or not, but if they did they starved to death for they never killed the apostle. They were murderers in the sight of God just as much as though they had committed the deed; but he interfered so that they were unable to carry their wicked purpose into action. But God did not interfere to prevent cruel Nero from taking Paul's life later on. This illustration shows how God sometimes restrains and sometimes permits evil. He restrains it when he cannot overrule it to his glory. He permits it when he can so overrule it. The very night before these forty Jews had formed their murderous intention, the Lord had stood by the apostle and said, "be of good cheer, Paul, for as thou has testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also in Rome." (Acts 23:11). God's word was thus passed to the apostle, assuring him that he had no immediate cause for alarm, and mapping out his future service. Would God allow forty Jews to thwart his purpose, or cause his word to fail? No, nor forty millions of them. Paul is delivered and God's word comes to pass; as God, himself, says: "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isa. 46:10) . But now why did not God interfere to save Paul's life from Nero? Because the apostle's work was done then, and he could glorify God in such a death. Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy from a Roman dungeon, while awaiting his execution, in which he exclaims, "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand; I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished my course,—henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." (2 Tim. 4:6-8). Paul's mission was accomplished; hence, God allowed Nero to carry out his wicked purpose; and yet he was no more guilty of the murder of the apostle, than were the forty Jews who were not permitted to carry out their purpose. Turn to the case of Joseph again. His brethren were determined to kill him, but God "restrained" them. Then they decided to sell him into slavery; this God allowed because he could over-rule it for good. Thus does the wrath of man praise God, and the remainder (what cannot be made to praise him), he restrains. Man may purpose or determine what he pleases, and as he purposes, so he is judged. "For that he hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, therefore shall he eat of the fruit of his own way, and be filled with his own devices." (Prov. 1:29,31). "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," (Prov. 23:7), and so will he be judged. But whether he will carry out his thoughts and plans, will depend upon whether God will let him or not; and whether God will let him will depend upon whether he can overrule it for the good of his creatures and his own praise. If he can, he permits it; if he cannot, he restrains. But whether he permits or restrains the man is equally accountable for his purposes. Christ makes this plain in his sermon on the mount. He there makes the guilt to consist in the purpose of the will, not in the outward act. "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart," whether he is allowed to carry out his evil desires or not.
This is the Bible doctrine of man's freedom. He is not a free agent; his actions are entirely under the control of a higher power; this does not render the person guiltless, however, when he commits a wrong deed, even though the deed were foreordained by God. The crucifixion, we have seen, was foreordained and predetermined, and yet Peter lays the guilt of that sin upon the Jews. "Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." And Stephen denounces them as "the betrayers and murderers" of "the Just One." But though man is not a free agent, his will is free; he has the full power of choice and volition. Now let us notice how clearly this view is confirmed and fully established in the book of Proverbs. "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings." (5:21). "A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." (16:9). There are many devices in a man's heart, nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand (19:21). Now mark the next passage, "Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" (20:24). "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord as the rivers of water, he turneth it whithersoever he will." (21:1). And finally we have the whole doctrine in a single sentence in 16:33 "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." This is a scriptural version of the old maxim, "Man proposes but God disposes." And thus it appears that the Proverbs of Solomon are unmistakably in harmony with the view I have presented of man's freedom.
I will call attention to only two more passages in this same line. See Psa. 37:23,24. I have read this passage many times, and in former years taken it for a text, and in preaching upon it I have laid great stress on the word "good." "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." It is only recently that I noticed, while reading Young's translation of the Old Testament, that the word "good" is not in the original. This is indicated in our English Bibles by that word being in italics. The passage is general, not particular; "the steps of a man (any man, all men) are ordered of the Lord." Young renders it thus; "From Jehovah are the steps of a man, they have been prepared and his way he (i.e. God) desireth. When he falleth, he is not cast down, for Jehovah is sustaining his hand." The translators had to "tinker" this passage because they did not understand the great truth that "all things are of God." That the meaning of this passage is as indicated above is fully confirmed by other Scripture. We have already noticed two such confirmatory passages from Prov. 16:9, and 20:24. We will refer to one more in Jer. 10:23. "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." Young renders it; "I have known, O Jehovah, that not of man is his way, not of man the going and establishing of his steps." Is it not plain—is it not absolutely sure from these scriptures that man is not a free agent (actor)? and yet it is equally plain and sure that man's will is free, he has the full power of choice. Thus is God's sovereignty and man's freedom fully harmonized and scripturally established, and it gives the true Christian a most comforting view of God. He is Supreme Ruler, Universal King. All things are under His control, all things are of Him. The wicked purposes of man are not carried out unless God permits, and he does not permit unless he can overrule it for good. Oh, how safe and secure the trustful child of God feels when he realizes this truth! "All things are of God " whatever comes to him, whether for the present joyous or grievous he knows that it is by his Father's appointment or permission, and hence, must be for his good. Whether it be a blow or a gift, a pain or a joy, tears or smiles, reproaches or blessings, persecutions or benefits, slander or praise, sickness or health, death or life, in every case, and in all it is the will of God, and that will is always the expression of a Father's love, and therefore sweet, and precious and good. These truths give us an idea of God that is at once grand and reassuring. He is "Our Father," the Almighty, infinite in Wisdom and boundless in Love. O, what a God for fallen man! from whom we may expect nothing but good, and always good, and only good and all good. "Thou art good, and doest good." (Psa. 119:68). "I will love thee, Oh, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my Strength, in whom I will trust; my Buckler and the horn of my Salvation and my High Tower." (Psa.18:1,2).
"Father! what hast thou grown to now?
A joy all joys above,
Thy love to me may teach me how,
Thee, in return, to love.
With gentle swiftness lead me on,
Dear God! to see thy face:
And meanwhile in my narrow heart
Oh make thyself more space!"
This BibIe view of God is not only thus personally blessed to the Christian, but it assures us of another thing. God's plans and purposes are being carried out. Amid all the mutations of earthly things, its sin and sorrow, and tears, and woe, runs the golden thread of God's "purpose of the ages," (Eph. 3:11, N.V., margin), binding all together and to the eternal throne, and leading the creature unerringly to the final goal—the image of the Creator.
Not only is it true that God's plans are not retarded or hindered by the wickedness of man, but God uses wicked men to advance His plans. He not only does not allow the wrath of man to work against Him, but He causes it to praise Him. How wonderful is all this! There is nothing to fear. God reigneth. "He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." If we can only see this great truth, and, in some degree, realize it, we shall have no cares and no anxiety either about ourselves or concerning God's work. All things work together for good. We have seen how some things, apparently evil, and only evil, have nevertheless under God worked together for good: though in the beginning they seemed to be all bad, yet in the end good has been the result. Can we not believe that this is true in all cases? Is it not certain that this is thus true? If God is almighty and all wise need he allow anything to take place that he cannot bring good out of in the end? Would He allow any such thing to happen? Surely not; to suppose such a thing would be to make God less than infinite, i.e., to dethrone him altogether. Hence it follows,—and the conclusion is wonderful as well as inevitable, mark it well—that all the events transpiring around us in the world, all the movements and actions to man, good and bad (as we term them) are all woven into the warp and woof of God's great plan—light and shade, bright threads and somber ones, tears and laughter, woe and joy, and even good and evil—all woven in to make the grand pattern of that rare tapestry that shall carpet and adorn eternity. Now we are looking at the wrong side of the figure, and we see many tangled and apparently ill assorted threads, disconnected ends and unsightly knots. But, ah! when we reach the other side! the fair pattern, the rich figure, the exquisite blending of color, in God's finished work! Then we shall exclaim, "O, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out?"