He appeared in the civics class, and He said: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Some mocked with this, others skeptically shrugged their shoulders at that term “kingdom” for we have a democracy. If that kingdom moreover is not of this world we shall have to rethink our position on civics, it might mean a new civics book and a new philosophy of sociology and ethics. That is all so revolutionary it seems. And who will write such a new book and where will we get teachers to teach it if such a new book should be written. In geography class He appeared and said, “The things which are seen were not made of the things which do appear.” That contradicted our geography book. It is so revolutionary. That means we must have a new geography book also with a new approach and a new appraisal of the science of the earth. Geologists mocked with this. In history class He stood and said, “There is no new thing under the sun.” The more part of the class contradicted this contradiction, several of them inquired about what this new conception of history might be. At the dinner table He appeared long enough to say, “I am the bread of life” and “man shall not live by bread alone.” The family had lived by the vitamin chart. That had plainly been contradicted now. It meant that they shall have to rethink the matter of eating and drinking. At the peace table where able staff officers were engaged in winning the post-war peace He stood at their side and Commented, “What is crooked cannot be made straight.” Their entire peace program had at once been contradicted. At the race track He appeared and said, “The race is not to the swift” and on the battlefield He contradicted the theory of logistics when He said, “The battle is not to the strong.” At the beautiful altar where men sent up sacrifices in flowing robes of incensed smoke He said, “Incense is an abomination to me.” That plaque hanging on the wall which said that sacrifices were pleasing to the Lord had been contradicted, and men chafed under the impact of it. In the beauty parlor He commented, “If a woman have long hair it is a glory to her,” and added, “not in plaiting of the hair but in a meek and quiet spirit resides womanly beauty.” While in the hygiene class He openly avowed, saying, “To eat with unwashed hands defileth not a man.” That defied the very rudiments of hygiene and the greater part mocked with this. Several among them however expressed need for a new book on hygiene.
The crisis of contradiction.
Now I understand what they meant when certain lewd fellows cried out concerning Paul and his company “these men have turned the world upside down” and when the men of Athens said, “thou bringest certain STRANGE things to our ears.”
Everywhere therefore where the Word of the Lord comes you find a crisis developing. And this crisis develops because the Word of God contradicts the word of men, of any men of all men. It contradicts the word of man at every point. This is not accidental. This is so because the very essence of the Word of God is that “No prophecy of the Scripture is by any private interpretation.” Notice the emphatic negative in this word from Peter. The Word of God as we have it did not come up out of the thoughts of a man. It is not derived, it is original. No man, as man, ever conceived of the things which are incorporated in the Word of God,. It never came up in his heart, it never entered his mind. It originated in the mind of God. With the entrance of sin into the world a crisis developed already very early in Paradise when Adam said to himself that eating from the forbidden tree would bring him preeminence, but God said that dying he would die. Shortly thereafter you witness that same thing in Cain, he said that he was an individualist and not responsible for being his brother’s keeper. Everywhere along the broad front of Old Testament history one sees this same crisis, throughout the history of the Judges and Kings and especially in Israel’s national history later we hear that God sent prophets “rising up early and protesting.” The supreme crisis develops when the Word Incarnate appears upon earth. At His birth mother Mary is already assured that He will be a sign “spoke against.” He will be contradicted for He speaks the Word of God and He IS the Word of God. And it conflicts everywhere with the word which has its origin in the minds and hearts of mere man. Paul speaks of Christ as enduring “such contradiction of sinners.” As He was contradicted, He Himself also contradicted He spoke against the Jews, the Scribes and the Pharisees. He contradicted Judas Iscariot and Peter; Pilate and Herod. . . .even His own friends. . . even His own mother was contradicted.
The world was indeed turned upside down. Wherever the Word of God came it found itself contradicted thereby, whether in the civics class or in geography or history or wherever it might be. Science and philosophy and psychology, all of them were contradicted. The world was turned upside down. It revolted. I. in turn reeled and plunged upon Him. Rather than to endure such contradiction any longer, in half-crazed anger it crucified Him. If perchance the cross would put an end to His diction and thus terminate further contradiction. But soon enough His apostles appeared, carrying that same Word of God and “they were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit by which he spake” (Stephen,). In stark madness they gnashed their teeth and they stopped their ears. The Jews relied upon salvation by empty forms, Rome depended on her forensics; Greece on her philosophy, but Paul stood among them; to the Jews he said that through the law was the knowledge of sin, to Rome he said that with all their jurisprudence they had crucified the Righteous One and had turned the truth of God into a lie; while addressing the Greeks he said that their wisdom was foolishness.
The crisis of contradiction.
For men speak according to the foolishness of their own darkened minds. They speak that which best fits their own lusts, at best they speak according to the imagination of their own deceived hearts. But God speaks as the original. He speaks of the things as He has created them, as He in His eternal plan knows them as they really are. And these two clash in endless conflict. No wonder then that when the world sees the Two Prophets of Revelation, murdered on the streets of Sodom, she jumps to the conclusion that she has triumphed in the crisis of contradiction and therefore they “make merry and send gifts one to another.”
Wherever true faith appears, there contradiction ceases and it becomes confession. There we cease to contradict and we begin to confess. And there He no longer contradicts us but He blesses us. If God contradicts us, if His Word clashes with ours we must let loose of our own word lest His contradiction become condemnation. Is it not a condemnation when He tells us that the wisdom of this world is folly? Love not the world, comes His word of contradiction, followed at once by the word of condemnation, “If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him,” inasfar as God’s people today confess the truth insofar they “speak with” God. But, inasfar as they do that they too will contradict and be contradicted. Many will weary of this continual crisis, many will despair under it and many will conform to the world and “speak as the beast speaketh,” but until Jesus returns His followers will bear the testimony of the Lamb and go forth conquering and to conquer, but, contradicting and to be contradicted.
In view of all this we would make a few observations. First of all, if in the matters of labor and business, ethics and morals geography, civics, history, hygiene etc. God’s Word contradicts the current word of men, it speaks for itself that we must have a world and life view which is of no private interpretation, but which is based upon the Word of the Lord. Not only is our preaching and teaching and all vain if God contradicts it, but, wherever He contradicts it and we go on in it He condemns us. Our political and national outlook in these days of war may neither be of private interpretation. From one end of the world even unto the other men champion a kingdom of this world, a country on earth but God contradicts them and He says that His kingdom is not of this world and our “better country” is in heaven. Neither may our children be exposed to the private interpretation of schools without the Bible, but history and geography and hygiene etc. shall have to be built upon the Word of the Great Contradictor. And so also in our own private and personal lives, His words of rebuke and admonition and warning must not be left unheeded, but when we are contradicted of God we should submit. Only in that way can we come to peace with God through the Spirit of the Lord.
In the second place we see it our calling to contradict all that which is contrary to the Word of God in all branches and departments of this life. This makes for ever sharpening antithesis. To this Paul refers when he says that we shall have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but that besides that we must “reprove” them, lest by not contradicting them we are guilty of connivance. No fear then that the Christian will sit in the seat of the scorners or stand in the way of sinners, his words, his actions but also his walk of life shall contradict the philosophy of sinners. This must be done in all humanity. It will be done in weakness and infirmity. But only that way can we bear the testimony of the Lamb.
Finally, this will develop into the final great crisis. As in the days of Enoch ungodly sinners with ungodly words in ungodly speeches railed at the faithful, so shall it be in the latter days. As the philosophy of sinners becomes more and more unified under one head in the False Prophet, and as the Truth under Christ shall develop into a power which none can resist, the Great Crisis will come.
Then Christ Jesus shall return.
He shall say, “Be still and know that I am God”.
Sinners and deceivers shall end in confusion but they who have borne the testimony of the Lamb shall triumph.