The Divine Worker

John 5:17.---'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.'

Of all scientists, God is the first and greatest. If God made---or is making---the universe, He knows much more about it and is far more interested in it than all the scientists together. Wireless and the constitution of the atom and 'cosmic rays' are no surprise to Him. What might surprise Him is to find a certain type of sincerely religious people regarding science as a sort of pagan propaganda. God is only waiting for us to find things out as our capacity grows to utilize them. Science is only finding things out---'thinking God's thoughts after Him.' To talk of science and religion as being in conflict with each other is tantamount to affirming that God is divided against Himself. "All's love and all's law," as Browning has taught us. This worlds progressive change [evolution] and Bethlehem have the same origin. So many people have the idea that God only talks theology, but the words of Jesus are, 'My Father worketh up to this hour.' For thousands of years the older thinkers, misled by a static rather than a dynamic conception of God, had thought His work complete. Today, that conception is being replaced by a greater and a truer. 'My Father worketh. . . . . ' Or in the words of the most recent science: 'This is a growing and evolving world, and not a static or decaying one.'

We do not mean that Jesus anticipated evolution. In Christ the Eternal took flesh as a contemporary man. If He had not been subject to the limitations of humanity, He would not have been man: and if He was not man we are of all men most pitable. He did not know everything that God was doing---He said so; which mattered nothing. But He knew that God was doing everything; which mattered supremely. And He knew---not by our tortuous proofs, but by the immediacy and the intuitive certainty of His oneness with the Father---the principle of God's all-comprehensive relation to this world. 'My Father worketh up to this hour.' This conception of God, really established, reinforces faith for us, and places religion on a new and unassailable basis. Primitive religion looks for the evidence of Divine action merely in the abnormal and the inexplicable: in the comet and the thunderbolt rather than in the sunrise and the growing blade of grass---with the result that the narrow margin left for the recognition of any specifically Divine activity at all shrinks day by day with every advance of human knowledge. No small part of human progress has consisted in getting away from the conception of the Divine as essentially the irrational. Science is the great cleanser of human thinking: it makes impossible any religion but the highest.

If science is to have a religion at all, it must be a religion in which God is working---not one in which God has delegated His powers to a fallible human institution, or His final revelation to a Book, however sacred. Science has long looked out into the black, unfathomable abyss and seen giant nebulae, which may be worlds in the making: but today it is looking upon this world as in the making still. This new conception of the world compels a new conception of God, and yet one as old as Jesus---God dynamic---according to Jesus the only true conception of God.

There is no clearer and more self-evidencing illustration of the vital principle of God's continuing working---and of the co-working of God and Christ---than what we call the Incarnation itself. We are coming to see that Christ is not a Divine interposition in the world so much as the inevitable climax and keystone of the whole Divine process, in the world from the beginning. And if it be objected that it is contrary to the evolutionary process that the climax should come in the middle, the answer is simple. Christ is the end of the Divine revelation to the world: but we are, as yet, only at the beginning of Christ for the world. He is 'the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.' One wonders if the Seer of Patmos realized what a tremendous thing---what a vital cosmic as well as theological thing---he had said when he wrote that. 'God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.' Christ was God working on His largest human scale. Whatever humanity's relation to sin might have been, Christ would have come to the world as the 'Light of the world,' the focus on the Divine interpretation of the world. 'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.' Christ here ranges Himself not merely with a Divine redemptive process, but with the whole historical Divine revealing process. For He here defines Himself in terms of the ceaseless Divine working for the world rather than in any lesser or secondary terms.

'My Father worketh up to this hour, and I work too.' The Incarnation has its fullest interpretation as the climax of the Divine 'work'. It is not the Cross, then, that explains the Incarnation: it is the Incarnation that explains the Cross. And the traditional confusion and the many conflicting explanations of the Atonement are largely due to the fatal mistake of endeavoring to separate between the functions of the death and the life of Jesus. We are saved not by the death of Christ, but by Christ, by the unity of His life and death. The Incarnation is the at-one-ment. And the very foundation-stone of our faith is that He that hath seen Him hath seen the Father, in the fullest sense and the only sense in which it is possible for man to have vision of God.

If all this is true---if God is still working---nothing is finished.

THE WORLD IS NOT FINISHED.---'The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord,' but it is not finished. How is it to be finished? Is it to be by some celestial catastrophe: by some interpretation of Adventism which becomes more and more unnecessary and inconceivable as you realize more clearly and fully the truth and implications of these sublime words of Christ's---'My Father worketh up to this hour, and I work'? 'I am here not only as the fulfillment of God's ceaseless cosmic purpose, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the historic symbol of the eternal redemptive principle of sacrifice in the Divine heart; but I am here also as the historic embodiment of the Divine method.'

My Father works: He effects His eternal purpose as a worker in the world, not as a prestidigitator in the clouds. 'And I work.' Divine work is going to save this world, work in the spirit and reinforced by the power of the indefatigable, undefeatable, unresting Divine Worker. To give up hope for the world, then, is to be radically false to Christ's most definite revelation of the part God is playing in the world, and the way in which He is carrying it out.

THEOLOGY IS NOT FINISHED.---God is still working in the human mind. The discoveries of science are not the creations of science: they are merely thinking God's thoughts a long way after Him. It is surely the height of foolishness and unfaith to imagine that God reveals Himself to theologians, but not to anybody else. All truth is one. What basis is there in reason or faith for accepting the fundamental heresy that the only new truths God has to reveal today are always about the universe and never about the soul? We are always hearing of the failure of Christianity. That failure, I would urge, is in the main due to the fact that the churches have never dared openly to break with the idols of the past, and publicly to discard certain ideas of God and of His ways with man which are no longer the highest we can conceive. That is true, but why should it be? Why should men hesitate to allow God to lead them to new heights of the vision of the Spirit---if to a new earth literally, why not to a new heaven? If 'My Father worketh up to now,' then religion is not static but dynamic: not creed, but an ever-expanding Life.

MAN IS NOT FINISHED.---There are many arguments for immortality; but none is more cogent than the argument of man himself. In two senses. First, the argument of what man already is; and second, the argument of what he is not---the fact that man is not yet finished, which is our point here. To believe that nature is content to give man capacities that he never fulfils, and is satisfied to leave him for ever half-finished, is to ask us to believe that that which has produced intelligence is itself unintelligent. And if for Nature you substitute 'God'---the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who 'worketh up to now'---the unfinishedness of man becomes an argument of constraining force for the inevitableness of a larger life. It is not reasonable to expect a man to think less of the worth of his soul than God does.

For myself confidence in personality's victory over the grave is deep, and, as the years pass, it grows more assured. God forgive me if I am wrong, but I look forward to it with an intense and reverent curiosity. To enter here and now into the world of spiritual values so that truth, goodness, beauty, and love are one's very being, its substance and its glory---that is the present possession of eternal life. And to have faith that these spiritual values are no casual by-product of a negligent universe, but, rather, the very essence of the real world, and that death has no dominion over them or their possessors---that is faith in immortality.

In Christ, timothy. Maranatha