Category Archives: the new creation

“Whoso Findeth Me Findeth Life”

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The other day I was browsing here and there in my old copy of William Gurnall’s The Christian In Complete Armour.  I was reading absent mindedly (not a practice I recommend) because I was thinking of a passage in Proverbs Chapter 8 that has laid hold of me for many days.

Blessed is the man that heareth me [that is, Wisdom], watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

I was savouring the words in my thoughts. “Heareth me… watching daily at my gates… waiting at the posts of my doors…”  Here is someone with a one-track mind.   Someone intently focused day in and day out.

Suddenly before my eyes on the page of Gurnall’s book was this:

     It becomes thee, poor creature, to wait at the posts of wisdom…

Could you be speaking to me, dear Lord, poor creature that I am?

It’s a wonderful chapter, Proverbs Chapter 8.  Wisdom cries out to all men (this is gender inclusive language).

          Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men.

What is the cry?

          O ye simple, understand wisdom, and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

And so while the cry goes out to all, the implication is that those who are wise in their own eyes are not likely to hear Wisdom’s cry: this is for the simple, for fools.

I wish we had space to savour every word in the chapter.  About halfway through we come to this:

The LORD possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old.
I was set up [anointed] from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust [the primal dust, NKJV] of the world.
When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth:
When He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep:
When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth,
Then I was by Him as one brought up with Him [as a master craftsman, NKJV]; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him;
Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.

And so the veil is drawn back a little; we begin to comprehend that the One who is speaking here is the Living Wisdom and Word of God Himself, who was with God in the beginning, and by whom God created all things.  It is not merely that God in illimitable power created all things; all that He did, as we discover in this chapter, He created with transcendent Wisdom.

And therefore it is Wisdom who says:

Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.  Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

“Therefore…”  Whenever you see a therefore, find out what it’s there for.  This one is there to cause it to dawn on us that those who hear Wisdom’s instruction shall become Wisdom’s own work, akin to the wonders recounted in this chapter, which to read fills the heart with awe.

And so we come to the verses that have arrested me:

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.

“Whoso findeth me findeth life.”  That one line has especially captivated me; this is why the call is to hear, and watch, and wait so intently and so continually.  “Whoso findeth me findeth life.”

To find wisdom is to find life.  God asked Job (if you recall from last time):

          Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom?

No, not by Job’s wisdom; God’s wisdom, which He gave freely to the hawk, wisdom with life in it, wisdom empowering it to fly.  The bird of the air and the beast of the field, the tree of the forest and the rock of the hill, the clouds above and the fountains of the deep—everything God created—is a revelation of some facet of His eternal Wisdom, who, as God’s Master Craftsman, wrought all His works, rejoicing continually before Him, and was daily His delight in the bringing forth of the old creation.

You know where I’m headed with this, don’t you.

For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before prepared that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).

“Created in Christ Jesus…”  The new creation!  And, “we are His workmanship…”  We—that is, the Church.  The word workmanship is the Greek poema, which means this Master Craftsman’s handiwork, His masterpiece, the project He has poured His all into, even Himself.  It is His life’s work, the crowning piece of all His wisdom and works, beyond which there is not, nor ever can be, any greater.  The Church of Jesus Christ, “the church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”  I know, it’s a far cry from what we see in our world around us today.  But let us tred softly, and remind ourselves that we don’t see it all; much of the work is behind this Artist’s veil, and He—Wisdom the Master Craftsman—is not finished yet.

Wisdom is, as we mentioned above, the Logos, the Word who became flesh—our Lord Jesus Christ.  But I am almost reluctant to state this, lest we file this in our mental filing cabinet as more information in the “Things I Already Know” file.  We need to look at this the other way around.  To hear our Lord Jesus Christ is to hear Wisdom speaking the word that is life, and which, as we respond, builds us uniquely and vitally into Wisdom’s new-creation building project.

If we’re not hearing (that is, hearkening to) that kind of word, we’re not really hearing our Lord Jesus Christ.

And so, I lay this to heart. I take my place with those among the sons of men to whom Wisdom cries—the simple, the fools.

But I am told that though I am such, I am blessed…

…If I hear Wisdom’s instruction.

…If I take my place at Wisdom’s gate, watching daily.

…If I stand at the posts of Wisdom’s doors, waiting as a servant waits.

For I know that Wisdom shall surely speak.   And I will find life

…And draw out from God His favour.

Wisdom continues with these somber words:

But He that sinneth against me [or, as some versions have it, he who misses me, or does not find me] wrongeth his own soul.  All they that hate me love death.

What a fearful warning.  Could not this wonderful chapter be concluded on a happier note?  But that’s the way Wisdom ends the chapter.

I’ll leave it there too.

 

 

God’s Whispered Word And Wisdom

Now that with age my eyes are getting a little better, I’ve discovered they’ve been graced to see more often in the old creation the invisible things of God.

The grandeur of a great mountain.  A growing tree.  A branch.  A leaf.  A brook flowing crystal clear.  The speckles on a trout…  These all have a message to speak that, when understood, enables us to know better the One who created all this and left us with a sense of wonder about it all.  And He created it not just a display of His great power, but also of His great wisdom.  Everything He created contains, and reveals, some aspect of the wondrous wisdom of God.

O LORD, how manifold are thy works!  In wisdom Thou hast made them all…  (Ps. 104:24).

Some time ago I was out in a popular recreation area.  It was a beautiful day, and warm, and around me were many people, most of them young people preoccupied with themselves and their play, rapt in the illusion that youth is eternal, enjoying themselves and the beautiful day, and God’s beautiful creation—yet totally oblivious to the God who created it all.  I felt such a darkness there, the darkness of the darkened heart of man, the lostness of man.  It started to close in on me, and I wanted to get away.  As I turned and took a step I happened to glance down at the ground.  The once green grass had been worn to the dirt by the many people walking back and forth, yet there at my feet was a bee seeking nectar in a little flower of clover that had somehow escaped the foot of man.  And a sudden flash of illumination came upon me—I wasn’t even looking for it—of an Order, a Wisdom, that had brought a whole creation into being.  I felt a sudden yet familiar fear.

And in that fear, a longing prayer—that my own life become more and more an expression of that same eternal Wisdom that pervades the natural creation.

A longing, I say, and an expectation.  I am reminded of something Job said:

Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways: And how small a whisper do we hear  of him! (Job 26:14 ASV).

Job had been reminding his friends about certain wonders of the natural creation that reveal God’s power and wisdom.  Yet marvels though they are, Job said these are just the outskirts, the fringes, of God’s ways.  By His word God had spoken it all into existence—the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein.  But, said Job, that’s only His whispered word.  And he just knew, somehow, that God had more to say.  That led him to ask a further question:

But the thunder of His power who can understand?

To what extent Job discovered the answer to his question I don’t know.  But if the old creation is God’s wisdom and word in a whisper… is not the new creation His thunder?  Thus, my expectation.

Later God asks Job many questions about His whispers, and by them He “convinceth Job of ignorance and imbecility” (as the heading of the page in my old King James Bible reads).  Thus God opened his eyes to see Him like never before, and he repented in dust and ashes.

Oh what wondrous questions He asked him.  When I read them I too am convicted of ignorance and imbecility.  Among them He asked, “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts?  Or who hath given understanding to the heart?” (Job 38.36).

Again He asked, “Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom?” (Job 39:26).  You mean the hawk flies by wisdom?  Apparently, yes.  That is God whispering to the open, attentive ear.  The wisdom God gave the hawk is a wisdom and understanding that is not mere blackboard teaching, but has empowering life in it by which the hawk soars in the heavens.  That is wisdom.

And that is the kind of wisdom His new creation Man is to walk in; that’s what is ours in Christ Jesus—that kind of wisdom, wisdom with power in it, wisdom with life in it, something akin to the instinct of life that we see in earthly creatures like the hawk.  We call it instinct.  God calls it wisdom.  The New Creation man is not someone who is trying to live by rules written in the Bible, whether in the Old Testament, or even in the New.  He is living his life out from what he is by nature: a new creation in Christ Jesus, in whom a Law and Wisdom is written in the inward parts—in the heart—the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

The new creation Man, we are told, is God’s handiwork, the masterpiece of His creative genius and wisdom (Eph. 2:10).  He is creating us in Christ Jesus, is bringing to maturity a many-membered new creation Man governed by a Law of Life and Wisdom that the old creation is just a whisper of.

It means an order, a harmony among those members, that is utterly breathtaking.

And when the Queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance [the standing] of his ministers, and of their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel, and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the LORD, there was no more breath in her (2 Chr. 9.4).

What did the Queen of Sheba see?  What took her breath away?  Solomon’s wisdom, yes.  But the transcendent order of it all—of his kingdom and temple, the house he built for God.  The order, the harmony, of his many attendants and servants.  Yet the temple Solomon built was only a type, a shadow, of the new creation temple a Greater than Solomon is even now building in the earth.  With what is He building this new creation temple?  With Wisdom—the same Wisdom and Word by which He made the old creation (Pr. 8.22-31, Ps. 104.24).  And when He is finished, this Temple, this House, will shine forth all the fullness of the wisdom and glory of God such that all nations shall bow before Him—and principalities and powers in heavenly places as well—when they see in the Church “the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).

I tremble to think of this—that this is actually going to happen.  Even unbelievers, even the most godless of men, they love to get out in nature.  It’s the order, the harmony, they touch in the old creation, and though they refuse to know God, they stand in awe of it all.  But when those in the world around us see God’s order fully revealed in the kingdom of His new creation Man, in the Church which is His body, in the House and Temple which is the masterpiece of all His works—when they begin to see the Christians at last walking together in the new creation Life and Wisdom of God, and in the harmony of a new creation Order, it is going to be order out of chaos to them, and the fear of God is going to grip them, and they are going to believe (Jn. 17:20-23).  They are going to see such fearful harmony ordered by the new creation Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that it is going to utterly take their breath away, and turn their hearts to Him in a way that present-day Christendom, with the cacophony of all its discord and divisions, has not been able to do.

They are going to hear instead a voice of many waters blended together in one majestic Voice—the thunder of His power.

I tremble at the prospect.

 

 

 

 

 

I Long For Beauty

This will be a bit of a confession. I recently listened to a renowned opera singer performing what I think must be one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. It was beauty so exquisite that I was in tears.

This is not the first time I’ve had this experience—the beautiful music, and the tears. Apparently it’s a weakness I have. The tears, I mean. They well up out of my soul when I hear beautiful music.

I took violin lessons as a boy and—another confession—was never very good at it. But I loved the music, and always wished I could play the violin the way I knew it could be played. Those who have listened to great violin music played by a master know what I mean. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Chaconne from Partita No.2 in D Minor played by master violinist Jascha Heifetz, for example. Some consider the Chaconne Heifetz’ signature piece. “We call Bach the Bible,” Heifetz once said, adding, “As many years as I’ve played Bach I don’t think I know him. I’m discovering, and rediscovering, new things.”

(I don’t know if Heifetz said that because the Bible is like that—a book in which one continually discovers and rediscovers new things, the result of which is that after many years one finds oneself saying, “I am so glad I know Him,” but then after reading something else, or even that same passage another time, “I don’t think I know Him.”)

Bach, we are told, wrote his music to glorify God. You know that by listening to his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor played on a magnificent organ. There is a majesty, a grandeur, about this piece; I listen, and the chords start reverberating in my heart, and fill my heart with the fear of God. I cannot listened to this without being overcome with worship.

When this most recent experience was over and I was drying my eyes—it was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Pie Jesu sung (sorry, it is far more than singing, but I can’t think of a better word) by Sissel Kyrkjebo—I realized something about myself that I don’t think I’ve always been able to articulate. Yes, I have always loved beautiful music. But this time I became aware that what’s in my heart is more than that. It’s more akin to an ache, a deep ache for beauty, that apparently over the years has grown in my heart because of all the ugliness in this world. There is a lot of ugliness in the family of man, the result of the grievous disconnect between man and his Creator because of the entrance of sin into the world.

Yet how is it? Fallen man is capable of beauty. I could name the names of many of the great ones in art, music and literature. Where did this beauty come from? It comes from God. All beauty comes from God. Even though man is in a fallen state, vestiges of the original beauty that God bestowed upon Adam are still there.

We see it in the arts. Much beauty. It is seldom returned to Him, that is, given back to Him, although there are some who have returned His beauty to Him, giving Him glory for it. I am thankful that Bach wrote his music to glorify God.

But all too often, man makes himself famous for that beauty or talent instead of God. He keeps it for himself. He uses the beauty God has given him to glorify himself instead of God.

We know where this comes from as well. We gather from our Bible that a being called Lucifer had originally been created in unmatchable beauty. God’s whole purpose in creating him so beautiful was to the intent that he return glory to God for his beauty, and thus bring praise and glory to God. But the time came when Lucifer the light bearer (for so is the meaning of his name) decided to keep that glory for himself. He wanted to be praised himself.

Thus into our universe entered… ugliness.

The beauty of the Lord

The prophet Isaiah acknowledged that there is beauty in man, but added that it is like the flower of the grass—here today and gone the next. We hear words like “the immortal Shakespeare.” Yes, much of what Shakespeare wrote is beautiful, and has endured long. But it’s the flower of the grass. It’s the flower of the grass, which, though beautiful, is but for a moment. There is coming a day when Shakespeare will no more be remembered.

I have come to realize something about this desire in my heart for beauty. This is not something that just grew of its own accord. This came from God. Will He not, then, satisfy this desire? Yes He will, and beyond my greatest expectations. In this ugly world of ours I am going to see beauty (I already see glimpses of it) beyond anything I am yet capable of comprehending—the beauty of the Lord. The psalmist David prophesied of this when he wrote of his one desire—to dwell in the house of the Lord all his days so he could behold the beauty of the Lord.

Think of that, beloved. Where did David anticipate seeing the beauty of the Lord?

One thing have I desired of the LORD: that will I seek after:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life [that is, forever];
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to enquire in His temple (Ps. 27.4).

The beauty of the LORD… in His temple? And so, what am I pursuing in my earthly life—or even in my Christian walk? Anything less?

Let it all go the way of the grass.

For, our Bible tells us of Zion—that is, the new creation Zion—which is “the perfection of beauty,” and “the joy of the whole earth.”

Out of Zion the perfection of beauty God hath shined… (Ps. 50:2).

Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great king (Ps. 48: 2).

Who hath shined out of Zion?

The joy of the whole earth?

Beloved, I do not hear in this hour all the earth shouting for joy because of the beauty of the church, the city of God, the bride of Christ. In fact,

All that pass by clap their hands at thee [in mocking scorn]; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying,
Is this the city that men have called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth? (Lamentations 2:15).

There is a lot of ugliness in our world. And, I am grieved to have to say, there is a lot of ugliness in our churches as well. But the scripture cannot be broken. All that God has promised will yet come to pass. And when we see the beauty of the Lord revealed, unveiled, in Zion—in the temple of God, the church of the living God, the Bride of Christ, the City of God, the new Jerusalem, Mount Zion—all the beauty and glory of man from the beginning of the world will disintegrate to dust and be forever blown away.

Some will shout for joy to see this beauty. Some will weep uncontrollably.

I know which of those two groups I am in.

The Church of the redeemed is the crowning work of the great Artist and Architect and Sculptor Himself. “For we are His workmanship—His poema, the Greek says: His masterpiece, His ultimate work of art—created in Christ Jesus…” When it is fully unveiled—and the Artist finally draws back the veil that has hidden his life’s work—the beauty of the Lord in His new creation Temple will so surpass all the glory of man, so far outshine all the beauty that has ever been seen in man, will so completely eclipse it all… that man’s most beautiful music, poetry, art, sculpture, architecture, achievement… will no more be remembered.

None of the former things will be remembered. For this is what the Temple of the Lord is all about—the full unveiling of the new creation beauty of the eternal Lord God Himself.

Where? Where is this beauty to be seen?

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

Dwells in whom? In creatures who were once ugliness, but have been redeemed and transformed by the God of Calvary’s love into the beauty of the Lord by the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin, the ugliness, of the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgIg-CG3qSg