|- J.Preston Eby -
In the increasing light with which God is filling the hearts of the elect, this scripture, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is ONE Lord, bears a depth of meaning greater far and deeper than the surface truth we have presented thus far. That this passage may become clearer to our minds, scintillating in heaven's light like the ray which is broken into many prismatic hues, consider now the glorious things concealed in this mighty word of the Lord. The Lord our God is ONE. One, in the numerology of the scripture, means UNITY, UNITED, UNDIVIDED, UNFRAGMENTED. One is the primary number, denoting beginning or source. Unity being indivisible, and not made up of other members, is therefore independent of all others, and is the source of all others. "One," excludes all difference, for there is no second with which it can either harmonize or conflict. One means unity and unity comes from the word "unit".
In reference to His substance, God is SPIRIT. In reference to His state of being, God is ONE. That which is ONE is that which is UNITED, UNDIVIDED, UNFRAGMENTED. Oneness speaks of unity, harmony, singleness, concord, solidarity. God is ONE! The fact that there is ONE GOD must not be confused with the truth that GOD IS ONE. Perhaps, as someone has said, this is only another aspect of viewing the same truth, for God is truly one, undivided in Himself, or in His will and purpose. And surely HE alone is God! But this One God IS ONE. It is a great and blessed fact that God is ONE. He who is united, undivided and unfragmented in every aspect of His nature and state of being cannot be influenced, affected, moved, upset, frustrated, changed, altered, damaged, destroyed, made discordant or set at variance in any way. The character of God is eternal, changeless, unaffected. The love, joy, peace, righteousness, wisdom, justice, power and will of God do not rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall. Matters not what happens nor what men or devils say or do, the love of God, the purpose of God, the power of God are steadfast, unmoved, unquenched, unaffected, without fluctuation. He is Jehovah, the SELF-EXISTENT ONE. He is ONE. No power in the universe can cause any deviation whatsoever in God's nature, will or action.
There can be no doubt that each aspect of God's being moves in perfect harmony and accord with every other part of His being. Here in the physical world there are contradictions in our value system because there are contradictions in moral philosophy, limited by finite and faltering human nature and reason. What is the ultimate contradiction in moral philosophy? In moral philosophy, the ultimate contradiction is between justice and mercy. The judge, if he is a good judge, will be just. He will not let somebody get off, without paying their dues. Moral justice demands that evil be punished. Because if evil goes unpunished, then the judge is a participant in the crime, by letting it go unchecked. Justice is one side of the coin. The other side, the other value is mercy. Mercy says, "I want to forgive you, when you don't deserve it. And the more undeserving you are, the deeper my mercy runs." This is a contradiction. How can you possibly combine these two creatively?
We speak of law and love, of truth and grace, of justice and mercy, and so long as sin does not exist there is no controversy between any of these. If there be no sin, law and love are never out of harmony with grace or each other; truth and grace go ever hand in hand; justice and mercy sing a common anthem. If the law be broken, what is love to do? If truth be violated, how can grace operate? In the presence of crime, how can justice and mercy meet? This is the problem of problems. It is not a problem as between God and man. It is not a problem as between God and the angels. It is a problem between GOD AND HIMSELF.
Justice and mercy can only be harmonized by making them ONE. And this can be done only in the realm of the God who IS ONE. Every facet of God's nature is unified, so that His justice is not warring against His mercy, neither is His judgment set against His grace. Herein lies the mystery and the wonder of it all - there is no conflict in God, no contradiction! In God, and in God alone, we see the contradictions combined, and justice and mercy kiss each other. Christendom has spoken of God's justice being satisfied, as if He were an incorrigible tyrant that must somehow be appeased. They speak of eternal punishment as a self-evident result of God's eternal, unchanging nature of infinite justice. Apparently, according to this crude theory, one is to think of two parallel lines, divine mercy and divine justice, two divine properties, running close beside each other but diametrically opposed to one another, each in its own right, continuing on into infinity. Not only love, but also justice must run its full course, and thus justice and mercy are isolated from each other endlessly. In this view God is both INFINITELY JUST and INFINITELY MERCIFUL at the same time but never the twain shall meet! This crude theory is responsible for the ridiculous doctrine of eternal life for some and eternal torture for others.
I am constrained by the Holy Spirit of God to cry out against such a blasphemous absurdity! Our God is not schizophrenic, He does not have a split personality. He is not both INFINITELY MERCIFUL and INFINITELY VINDICTIVE! The Lord our God is ONE, all the attributes and powers of His Being are working together in perfect accord, each harmoniously synchronized in the same purpose and toward the same end, without any contradiction. In the scriptural view, HIS JUSTICE is linked inherently to HIS SALVATION. "There is no God else beside Me; a JUST God and a SAVIOUR; there is none beside Me (Isa 45:21). He is a SAVIOUR because He is also JUST. His righteous nature requires that He be our Saviour. He "knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust," and He knows right well that "the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope" (Rom. 8:20).
Yes, HE WILL CORRECT US, and by this very correction make the necessary changes in us, and then He will bring us into the fullness of salvation. IN HIM "mercy and truth are met together; righteousness (justice) and peace have kissed each other" (Ps. 85: 10). These are never to be viewed as OPPONENTS to each other, they are gloriously WORKING TOGETHER to fulfill God's redemption in us. Where mercy alone cannot produce the needed change, God applies His judgment. And when judgment has accomplished its full work, "in wrath He remembers mercy" (Hab. 3:2). His wrath and His mercy COOPERATE one with the other, both designed to play their role in bringing man to the one expected end: reconciliation to God and deliverance from sin and death. There is no conflict between the two - the objective of each is redemptive, not vindictive. If we have a concept where the judgment of God is pitted against His mercy, or where the justice of God becomes greater than His love, or where wrath triumphs over grace, then we have a distorted concept of God. We have not yet learned this one simple but sublime truth: The Lord our God is O-N-E!
I have never believed that by teaching the ultimate salvation of all men we were pitting one group of scriptures against another, or one aspect of God's nature against another, for it is my conviction that the solution can only be found in the correct HARMONIZATION of all the scriptures and all the characteristics within God Himself, not ignoring one while advancing the other. God's justice and His mercy, God's judgment and His salvation must MEET TOGETHER AS CO-AGENTS IN GOD'S REDEMPTIVE PURPOSES, else there is eternal warfare and irreconcilable conflict between the two. I find all the judgments of God to be disciplinary and correctional rather than vindictive and final. Therein lies the harmonization of which I speak. According to the Word of God, God is at the same time the JUDGE OF ALL and the SAVIOUR OF ALL. He is not the Judge of some and the Saviour of some, but both Judge and Saviour of ALL! "Judge of all" must mean that He judges all; none escape. "Saviour of all" must mean that He saves all; none are left out. Within that one wonderful fact can be seen the beautiful HARMONIZATION of the justice and the love of God - His judgment leading to repentance and a knowledge of His mercy. Praise His wonderful name!
The judgments of God can never be rightly understood apart from His nature of love. If God's judgments spring not from His love then they come not from God at all, for He IS LOVE. What ought this to teach us about His judgments! The pen of inspiration wrote, "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord LOVES He chastens. and scourges every son whom He receives...for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness" (Heb. 12:5-10). God doesn't go around purposelessly punishing or vindictively torturing any of His creatures. But He does go about precise paths of bringing forth correction UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS, as the prophet says, "When Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Isa. 26:9). God's judgments, whether upon saints, nations, or the wicked in general are all corrective in nature, accomplished by the motivation of His nature which is LOVE. Truly, the Lord our God is ONE!
Do you recall the story about the wind and the sun arguing over who was the stronger? They decided that whoever could take the coat off a man walking down the street was stronger. The wind tried first. It blew and howled furiously. Twice it knocked the man off his feet, but the coat did not come off. In fact, the harder the wind blew, the more the man buttoned up. Finally the wind gave up. Next was the sun's turn. It started to shine, and the man, glad with the change in weather, unbuttoned his coat. But the sun grew warmer still till finally the man took off his coat. The sun won. One of the hidden morals of this story is that both the wind and the sun had the same objective - to take the coat off the man! While, in this case, warmth won out over violence, there was no conflict between the two. And so it is with God's judgments and His mercy. He will send what is needful to work the necessary changes in our lives - but ALL THINGS are of God, and all things WORK TOGETHER for our good. The Lord our God is ONE!
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