A Critique

by W. Kelly of:

"Lights in the World," and "The Gravity of the Moment." by F.E.R.

After a careful reading of these, I am compelled to say, that to any one of spiritual discernment they prove a mind abandoned to its own ideas and unsubject to God's revelation of the truth. They have been sent for a judgment; as I never seek such reading.

"Lights in the world" in Scripture mean heavenly luminaries, in no way comparable to a candle or lamp, which is the figure for prophetic light in 2 Peter 1:19. In Phil. 2 the children of God shine as Christ, and bear no such earthly analogy. Nor is "word of life" confounded with light anywhere as in this poor fancy, though it seems a new thing to speak of life, after giving it up as unintelligible previously. Here it is analysed into "two or three" elements meeting in one person which is mere stuff. Life is itself as Scripture clearly shows; but this system is sound and clear as to nothing, only launching out into fancies foreign to God's word.

After a good deal of irrelevant talk about the wick, i.e. "Myself," he comes in pp. 6-9 to "the first great fact in God's work in the soul." Yet characteristically he avows "I cannot tell you what new birth is." Why then did he speak or write? He tries to get rid of the stigma of such ignorance by saying that his auditors were equally ignorant. But, though this may be true of both, a birth is a manifest fact whether naturally or spiritually. Ignorance of the new or spiritual birth is simply because they deny God's impartation of life to the believer. This writer entirely left out the Spirit's use of the word to the soul dead in trespasses and sins by revealing Christ as life to it. He talks of its not being "the communication of anything"! but by the Spirit's power without the word or anything else. This is all fundamentally false and fanatical. The effect he says is "collapse," and "a cry" both clearly the effect of a new life, which he denies to be communicated in defiance of the plainest scripture.

The next thing is the "light" (p. 13). What foolishness! The True Light lighteneth every man, converted or not (John 1:9). Life alone profits by it; but this victim of his own imagination puts it after the new birth! He understands nothing according to God. Further he shows his utter darkness by making the second thing, the enlightening, to be "properly the work of the evangelist"!! For he excludes the evangelist and human agency in general from the first work. One verse of scripture exposes and demolishes this wicked nonsense; "For in Christ Jesus I begot you through the gospel", (1 Cor. 4:15).

As the oil figures admittedly the Holy Spirit's anointing, we may leave this.

But a great deal is made in the latter part of Christ's "glorifying God on the earth," in distinction from His being lifted up so as not to die there. Here however the truth is quite missed. For it is in addressing the Father that our Lord said "I glorified thee on the earth. I finished the work, which thou hast given me to do" (John 17:4). On the other hand in John 13:31, 32 He said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God also will glorify him in himself and will glorify him immediately." The glorifying of God was as to sin on the cross, the glorifying His Father was all His life through on the earth. Here all is muddle with egregious pretension to accuracy. So it is also to say, I could only tell you that "the light is the love of God." How much better to have been silent than to let out such unconscious confusion oracularly!

On the "Gravity of the moment" a few words suffice. "The Son of God," who is the rock on which the church is built, is revealed in Rev. 2:18 as the unchanging object of faith, when Christendom was given up to idolatry and persecution, combined with the pride of prophesying or the claim of infallibility in the church; but not in the earthly place of Ps. 2. Again, it is false to confound the promise "I will give him (the overcomer) the morning star" at (the translation of the saints) with that star arising in the heart now as in 2 Peter 1:19, which ought to characterise the Christian's present hope. The promise includes the two parts of the Lord's future presence: His kingdom judicially as the Sun of righteousness; and the special heavenly hope that He will give us the Morning-star before that day dawns.

I have only to add the inveterate error as to righteousness (p. 15), a shameless misuse of Rom. 5:21. For he makes it "obligation to righteousness" and "the practical setting aside of sin"; instead of believing it to be Christ made to us righteousness, and the obedience of the One (just before spoken of) to constitute the many righteous. This too is fundamental error destructive of the gospel of God. What is the worth of many true things with such falsehood? "No lie is of the truth."