Friday, November 30, 2007

Contact With the Infinite

It cannot be denied. Man is a poor finite creature: he is a denizen of the earth. From one point of view, he is very much like the beasts that perish. Like them, he lives in a world of phenomena; he is subject to a succession of experiences, and he does not understand any one of them. Science can observe; it cannot explain. When it tries to explain, it becomes laughable. Man is certainly finite. But that is not the whole truth. He is not only finite, for he knows that he is finite, and that knowledge brings him into connection with infinity. He lives in a finite world. But he knows at least that it is not the totality of things. He lives in a procession of phenomena. But to save his life he cannot help searching for a first cause. In the midst of his trivial life, there rises in his mind one strange and overpowering thought – the thought of God. It may come by reflection, by subtle argument- from the effect to cause, from design to the designer. Or it may come by ‘a sunset touch.’ Back of the red, mysterious, terrible, silent depths beyond the silent meeting-place of sea and sky, there is an inscrutable power. In the presence of it we are helpless as a stick or stone. As helpless, but more unhappy – unhappy because of fear. With what assurance can we meet the infinite power? Its works in nature are horrible in the infliction of suffering. And what if physical suffering should not be all, what of the sense of guilt? What if the condemnation of conscience should be but the foretaste of judgment? What if contact with the infinite should be contact with a dreadful infinity of holiness? What if the inscrutable cause of all things should turn out to be, after all, a righteous God?...

…This great beyond of Mystery - can Jesus help us there?…

…The church hurled anathemas at those who held that Christ, though great, was less than God. And rightly! That difference was no trifle. There is no such thing as ‘almost God.’ The thought is blasphemy. The next thing less than the infinite is infinitely less. If Christ be the greatest of finite creatures, then still our souls are restless, still we are seekers after God. But now is Christ, our Savior, our Champion, the same who says, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee,’ revealed as very God. And we believe! It is the supreme venture of faith; faith can go no higher.

Such a faith is a constant mystery to us who possess it; it is ridiculed by those who have it not. But, if possessed, it overcomes the world. In Christ, all things are ours. There is now no awful beyond of mystery and fear. We cannot explain the world. But we rejoice now that we cannot explain it. To us it is all unknown. But it contains no mysteries for our Savior. He is on the throne. He is at the centre. He is ground and explanation of all things. He pervades the remotest bounds. In Him all things consist. The world is full of dread, mysterious powers. They touch us already in a thousand woes. But from all of them we are safe. ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

J. Gresham Machen - God Transcendent

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