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THE WORD (Part 1 of 2)

By Geoffrey T.Bull.
(From “God Holds The Key”Chap.11)

The devil said... “Command this stone that it be made bread.” Jesus answered...
“It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but every word of God.”’ Luke

There is a land of unparalleled appeal, small in compass, yet excelling all territory in its significance. Its affairs are interwoven with the destinies of every nation. It is both admired and hated, loved and despised. Men have fought for it till all its borders are now drenched in blood. King have conspired to its overthrow. The armies of aliens have ravaged it with fire, yet to this day it stands unmoved, fresh in its entire length run the great ranges. Peak upon peak rises, lifting the gaze to heaven above, and the shimmering white of untrammelled snow beckons the traveller on to realms still unexplored. Through the ‘Stern-Country’ the might ridges run, so that, from the green pastures and the comfort of the valleys the inhabitants look up into the unchanging solemnity of truth. Such however, is the general contour of the hills that all the ranges large and small, converge upon a scarred and rugged promontory that occupies the central region of the whole domain. In every part of the country this is visible and from it all distances are measured and every direction determined. From the foothills of the mountains, living streams burst forth into the valleys filling the fertile earth with vibrant life. Everywhere vigorous growth is encountered and famine is totally unknown in its villages and happy fields. Scattered through the lovely countryside are innumerable lakes, each like a mirror reflecting not only the countenance of all who peer into their crystal depths, but also the sense of the Infinite above. Below the surface of the earth there is a wealth of unfathomable mines.
Although the evidences of life are so prolific yet there is no sense of confusion. There is an atmosphere of peace and order and a sense of perfect suitability of each adjacent stretch of country to the other. Light and shadow interweave across the chequered landscape, reflecting somehow the every mood the human heart can know. One of the most striking features is the absence of any man made roads. Communication between place and place is by natural rights of way following, largely, the slopes and undulations of the terrain. There is no artificial transport. Whilst at first irksome, in a little while you realise that a superb character of the country can only be appreciated by walking at leisure in the direction of the central mountain and in paying attention to detail all along the trails. Even should you tread the same path twice over the country always yields fresh wonders to the discerning eye.
The people that dwell there are drawn originally from other nations. Their diversity of language, nevertheless, has not prevented them from contributing in harmony to the permanent reputation of their country, and if you enquire of them, you will find that now their speech is one, and the themes of their conversation in complete unity with each other. Those coming from the outside world, provided they are of the same mind, actually find no difficulty in understanding the inhabitants, although it takes a long while to be able to speak their language with any fluency. The people who inhabit the land, irrespective of the weather, have permanent light in their houses and welcome all who are willing to stop and talk with them. There is not one who would not spread a veritable feast if you but take the time to stay. Amongst them I have found folk who in their lifetime have fulfilled a variety of stations. There are people like peasants, fisherfolk and shepherds, there are scholars, princes and kings. Two of the most outstanding examples I recall are a physician and a tentmaker. All these are so interested in pointing the visitor to the central mountain and in speaking of the ruling Authority, who, apparently, some good while back now, laid the foundation of a plan in that district, which should bring blessing to all nations and ultimately, subject the whole world to the beneficent principles at present prevailing in their borders.
Contrary to general opinion, the frontiers of the country are well defined, but the borders as a rule are largely unguarded and this defenceless frontier region sees from time to time large unauthorised intrusions from hostile forces. Whilst wars have been fought in the country’s defence, generally speaking the aggressors are compelled to withdraw, by reason of popular support for the country’s integrity throughout the world. Perhaps the most inherent cause is the county’s ability to revive in even greater vigour, whenever the marauders retire. Actually the most unusual thing happens to the would-be invader, particularly if he has preconceived opinions of the territory or tries to carry out some pretentious scheme of survey not authorised by the Authority. Once he crosses the border he become affected in his vision. He is afflicted with something like colour blindness so that luxuriant foliage and fresh green fields look more like a desert than verdant pasture. It is due partly to the air. If he is caught by the Authority he will be presented with an edict which simply says, ‘I am come into this world, that they which see not, might see, and they which see might be made blind’. Such people generally retire in confusion, although frequently they will write books about what they profess to have ‘seen’, giving a thoroughly erroneous picture to the general public of the beloved country. Sometimes you will get an intruder who will persist in his injurious trespass, and those often die tragically of thirst; the blindness becoming so bad that even though streams abound on every side, they do not avail themselves of the life-giving waters.
Proper access to the country is sadly misunderstood. Many dignitaries of scholarship, experts of scientific standing and critics of acclaimed ability arrive daily at the frontier stations and present their special credentials. They are issued by renowned governments and seats of learning the world over, but, ironically, when these papers are examined, in the vast majority of cases, you find that the vital visa is missing. When told that they have failed to qualify for an authorised entry they are sometimes very angry but on inquiry they can find out that the procedure after all is quite simple. The unique part about the Authority in this matter is, that no visa issued by a human government or educational organisation is considered satisfactory. What is required is a bona fide declaration of the intention of the entrant. This includes an indication of an attitude of faith in, and submission to, the Authority, and a willingness to act sincerely upon the information obtained within the boundaries of the country. The Guide of the Authority is to be acknowledged as the official interpreter of the country’s policy and purposes, and the would-be entrant is asked to show willingness to co-operate with the Guide as He may deem fit to lead and instruct, towards the Central Mountain. When these conditions are understood many turn away in disgust, saying that they would want to be able to judge things for themselves. Some resent them as a restriction of their freedom and return in high dungeon to there own country. Some however, do persevere and submit themselves to the requirements of the Authority and go in. To these the Guide proves the most gracious person they have ever known and the Authority although unseen becomes an increasing prospect of wonder and desire. Every tract of the country proves something more of His excellence and soon the sense of His presence even in the remotest parts or secluded glades begins to be felt. As the traveller covers the various provinces, the Guide brings him by easy stages to the summit of the central hill. By the time the last stretch is reached all encumbrances are left behind and it is then that the traveller is suddenly overwhelmed with an indescribable sense of poverty, iniquity and need. On the pinnacle of the mountain is a weatherbeaten wooden cross. It marks the summit and from there you look out in ever direction. You gaze into an open heaven and yet peer down into the depths beneath. You can trace the road you have just trodden, you can even see the country from which you came. Suddenly it seems very far away and yet strangely enough there is no homesickness. Before you there stretches in all its indescribable beauty the territory of Divine Revelation - the country of the Word of God. You look away into the past and onto the future. You look within. You know that your country is not like this, nor is the arid selfish waste in the desert of your heart. You are suddenly nearer to God than you have ever known. The cross stands silent in the sunshine and the golden ridges protrude above the sombreness of the valleys far beneath, tracing their way to where you stand. This then is where they lead. All the mighty arches of His truth have brought you to Mount Calvary. The stones were rough when the cross was first raised many years ago but now they are almost worn smooth, for some many coming from abroad have knelt, and, in that quiet places so high above the world’s harsh turmoil, bowed in full allegiance to the Authority who lives in every portion of His Land. As Jesus comes many are the words that break upon the mountain air. There the cries of repentant and aching hearts throng the wilderness. ‘Lord remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom’, or others say, ‘Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?’ Most will simply cry out as they see him ‘My Lord and my God’ and in that moment old things pass away and all things become new. Once the new Authority is recognised the traveller becomes an inhabitant. In a sense he never returns to his former realm unless it be as an ambassador of the Word of God. This causes great resentment in the world. The change of nationality is so final. I suppose that is what hurts. ‘You are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints.’ The new language is gradually learned in the degree of your submission to the Lord who reigns and soon you join every creature there, saying blessing, honour, and glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

During my years solitary confinement I lived in a very real sense in two countries. Physically I lived in a realm controlled by the principles of Marx’s theories of dialectal materialism. Mentally I lived in the incomparable country of the Word of God. I looked across my frontiers from the strongholds of Divine Revelation into their deserts wastes and improvised fortifications. They were the best attempt that I had seen I bricks of unbelief and mortar of reason, but, when you saw their territory, what after all had they worth defending? Frequently they would come in force raging against the border, declaring that I lived in wilderness, and try to drag me from my Lord of the Mount to become a slave under the spurious authority of that material space. There were many battles and I was wounded and torn from often they could never change my spiritual nationality even though at times they might entice me into their territory. They failed to understand my occupation. They thought I should be scheming how I should escape the Authority under which I served and come over to their dominion and serve with them. They spoke of the great improvement and advantages that their type of principles and government had recently achieved. My realm, they said was passing away. It was just a matter of time. Their blindness to Reality was complete so they pounded on until a truce was called, and they abandoned hostilities. Today I am still dwelling with joy and satisfaction in the magnificent country of God’s Word. Food for the mind and the soul is unfailing. Occupation with Christ is the most rewarding. A little while and the Lord of the Scriptures shall be Lord of all nations. Then shall the truth be known.
During the Temptation, our Lord and Master knew Himself the experience of the two dominions. Satan looked at Him and saw Him in a wilderness. Actually He was living in the glorious and sufficient territory of the Word of God. ‘Command these stones to be made bread’ suggests the tempter. The Lord’s reply reveals just where His days were being spent. ‘It is written, that man shall not live on bread alone, but by ever word of God.’ We might ask ourselves today - what is my country? Is it the realm of stones or the realm of revelation? The material or the spiritual? The way Satan spoke would give the impression that it was something very wonderful to turn stones into bread, a kind of proof of deity. Of course that is what the materialist thinks today. The stamp of Satan is certainly upon his philosophy. He has learned to ‘make’ stones into bread a long ago. The arid steppes of Russia are producing food for the millions. In this way the contemporary son of man ‘proves’ himself the son of God, at least to win his own satisfaction and the God of the Bible is not wanted anymore. To the Marxist, on the plenty of the bread ‘made’ from the stones, the Living God has become historically obsolete, superseded by the outcome of an ‘historical process’ inherent in human society. That is their boast. They maintain that men that have every material advantage yearn to more for a Creator, for they have lost the concept of the creature; yet, out of the darkness comes the light of Revelation on the lips of Christ. ‘Man shall not live on bread alone but every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ In a moment He could make the desert blossom as the rose. He could make the wilderness a place of pasture and sandy ridges into fields of waving corn, but He will not create millennial conditions where there is no highway in the desert for the advent of their God. Life does not consist of eating bread. Paul says, to use a recent translation. ‘Food was meant for the stomach and the stomach for food; but God has no permanent purpose for either.’ On ultimate life is dependent on our assimilation of the Word of God. In the wilderness the Lord Jesus lived in His own domain and found all His sustenance there. His was the hidden manna of the Overcomer. He had meat to eat of which His enemy could never know. In the strength of that meat He had gone His forty days alone. This is the answer to all who would stand today against the inroads of a creeping and insidious materialism.
As Christians then, we are to know our Lord and to know our country. We are to be occupied whilst in the stony sphere, with the Word of God. Encompassed with matter, we are to be children of the Spirit. Amongst the things which are seen we look to the things which are eternal.
The Word of God is to be to us more than our necessary food. When we rise, it is to be our meat, as we lie to rest, our portion. As we walk and as we sit, it is to dominate our conversation. The very posts and gates of our homes are to know its constant adornment. It is to be sign upon our hands and as frontlets between the eyes. It is to show our feet and crown our head. It is to dwell with us richly in all wisdom.. In our youth it is to cleanse our way, in our pilgrimage to be our song, and in our age our sweet remembrance. In our prosperity we are to love it above fine gold. In our affliction though we be as a bottle in the smoke, it is to be our confidence. It is to be a lamp to our every step, our guide for the distant path. Every thought and intent must come beneath its scrutiny. By it we are born again and by it we are nourished every day. It is our bread, our milk, our meat. In the storm we have no other anchor and in the haven of His presence, His Word forever settled there, remains His personal guarantee of our eternal good.
The Word of God is to be the constant occupation of our heart and mind. The great questions is then: how should I approach it? This is vitally important today, when the emphasis on methods of Bible study is ousting and the emphasis of the trembling heart.
Over the years there have formulated in my mind a few basic principles in the matter of our approach to the Holy Scriptures. They underlie the little allegory you have just read and are now stated here
They underlie the little allegory (Continued in Part 2 )

By Geoffrey T.Bull.
(“God Holds The Key” Chap. 11 (Out of Print)
Hodder and Stoughton Limited ..London 1959

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