AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH, December 2, 2007
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
Christ Jesus Came into the
World to Save Sinners
No Half-Measure: What do you expect after a smash!
I THE VARIED CASES
Consider the case. Psalm 51 sums it up. David, loved by God and friend of God, has a rush, a torrent, a tumult of lust. It is focussed on another man’s wife. As King he should be an example of kind concern, but flaming passion desires this woman. He is prepared to scheme for the husband’s exposure to death, in order to have her. He gets her: the child dies. David is told by the prophet Nathan that from that time on, his household would know tumult. Indeed, the Lord promised to raise up peril from David’s own household, for him who despised the peace of another’s man home!
YET for all this, the Lord would not depart from David, and still delivered him, albeit not without humiliation, as you see when the King left his capital, Jerusalem, rather than fight in it against his rebellious son, now invading! And he was even cursed by Shimei as in travail and grief, he vacated the city. To be sure, he won the war that followed, but nearly lost the people, Joab having to remind him that they were not amused by having fought to deliver him, risking their lives, only to find that his grief for the death in the battle of his son, was greater than any gratitude! (II Samuel 18-19).
Psalm 51 shows David’s restoration amid horror and grief, with faith and extreme repentance, the man chastened, cleansed, purged, purified. For the magnanimity of the Lord, this has few parallels in beauty. It teaches us the folly of passion’s pathways, without wisdom and purity, and the grandeur of the Lord’s mercy for the penitent whose heart is ready for life-changing reconstruction.
Vehement, remorseless, relentless, persecutor because of his religion, Saul clamoured against Christians, giving them the whip and the prison as a regime apparatchik. As he hastened to continue his ghoulish and horrid work, heartless because his heart was dipped in the tar that covers its tenderness, and this because he had rejected the Christ whose people he persecuted, Saul was confronted by Christ.
The Lord's question was this: WHY are you kicking against the goads! That showed understanding and a kind of sympathy which could see things in terms of Paul’s own consciousness. Paul asked his heavenly visitant who He was, and it was Jesus "whom you persecute!" Again, the understanding sympathy showed, since it was the BODY of Christ, the church of believers which was being persecuted. Christ’s heart was for them, and this led to Paul conversion, commission and cleansing, making him a valiant and useful servant once the blindness from the light which awakened him, was removed.
See then, it is not only the sensitive, the poets, the concerned, the kindly who may be found in their little castles and called out, it is the brutal, the passionately provocative, who may be found. It is one Lord, one salvation, one Gospel and one overwhelmingly vast power which stops at nothing, though it never simply invades the human heart as you see in such passages as Psalm 106, Ezekiel 20, Colossians 1:19ff.. His grace is sufficient, but with the heart, while power is required to thoroughly change it, it is not utilised to simply strike down the tissue of the soul.
II Timothy 1:1-7 shows us a young man in need of encouragement and reminder of the power and presence of the great God who calls, and who had called him. “God,” said Paul, “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Don’t be ashamed of me, now a prisoner of State, Paul exclaimed, and went on to provide the plan of salvation, which encompasses all who have ever received the Lord in faith as Lord and Saviour, sacrifice and sanctifier, so that having them from before time, He keeps them past all times.
It is not merely those robust by nature, but those in whom the sensations of weakness and the aversion from being unpopular may rise like scorpions, ready to attack. Heroes are not always blusterers; for the point is what they do. So is salvation ample for the meek, sufficient for the shrinking, a wonder for all.
4) The Proconsul in Cyprus
In Acts 13:7, we read that this official was an intelligent man. His trouble lay in his associates. Thus there was in his presence a magician, like so many astrologers and romancers today in their innovative philosophies pushing this and that; and this man sought to prevent Sergius Paulus, the proconsul, from believing in the Christ whom Paul presented. The apostle, however, using the power of the Spirit of God, struck the man with mist and blindness, reminiscent of his own when HE was BLOCKING the way to Christians. Thus, whatever your personal surrounds and difficulties, wife, husband, employer, nothing is too hard for the Lord. He can help, clear the way, open the door and you tumble in.
5) The Gaoler in Philippi
Away in Philippi, in the Greek world, what hope did this man shut into the awful work of managing a prison, have of stretching his spiritual wings and finding life eternal. Yet Paul was imprisoned and lashed there, and despite the folly of this persecution, he and Barnabus deep in the night were singing praise to God. When therefore an earthquake arose and freed them, the gaoler, thinking he would lose his prisoners and hence his life (a thing the guards over Christ’s tomb would doubtless have had in mind, but when the Lord cast them into a deep sleep, what could they do but sleep, and then talk of what happened while they slept in one of the starkest idiocies of cover-up of loss ever known to mankind, a point pursued by the priests with some relish), was one to act! He was, in fact, about to kill himself, but Paul sought to prevent escapes, and presented himself to the amazed gaoler. Someone had actually CARED for him. He received Christ.
You are never hidden away out of sight of God, and the most oppressive realities can be lifted by God to bring ANYONE to Him, by faith, opening doors as required! Never therefore despair, for the channel of faith to Christ is not able to be closed by man, circumstances or oppression.
Called one of the ‘sons of thunder’ by Christ, Mark 3:17, and acting in concert with his brother James in seeking a place for them at the right hand and the left when He was in glory (Mark 10:35ff.), he yet became the apostle of love, in I John repeatedly from many angles exhorting to love one another, and the Lord in faith, life and obedience, like little children in peace and harmony with His grandeur who gave all for peace and purity for those who receive Him.
See the CHANGE! There is no nature so harsh, so feeble, so misled that it cannot be entirely reconstituted, regenerated, and made holy in the Lord (John 3). It may require pain as one takes up one’s cross to follow Him (Luke 14), but the one who takes it has been changed! (Titus 3:5ff.).
Here was a man of substance, social standing and considerable fame, righteous, just, merciful and kind. Chosen to be a test case to show that yes, Job did not serve God for profit, like a means to an end, but in probity because of His goodness and truth (Job 1), he was taken through a course of sickness and loss enough to shatter many.
Could he stand it ? At times, he thought it unjust, and wished for a mediator between himself and God (Job 9); but he knew that God is just and so he proceeded to hammer on the door to find the meaning of his many, varied and immense afflictions. In the end, as in Job 19, he affirmed his entire assurance that his was the Redeemer, that He was just, would stand on this very earth at the end of the times, and that though his own body itself should dissolve in death, yet in life from his own eyes, not through some intervening party, he would see GOD! This implied confidence in resurrection, and anticipation of it with joy!
We learn from this firstly that no misfortune is adequate to bow the Christian, though he tremble, nor to alienate him or her from the power and grace of God, who knows what He is doing, secondly to learn fast any lesson that comes, seeking to find it and to apply it! and thirdly, to trust in HIM not ourselves. As you see in Job 29:21ff., Job had been very aware of his place of grace in society, but in the end his awareness centred firmly on the Lord and HIS kind mind and everlasting grace.
8) Blind Bartimaeus – see II for this.
9) The Young Man – Mark 2
Here was a man in deep trouble, a paralytic, depending on carriers even to bring him to the place where Jesus was speaking in a house to a great and pressing throng. The roof was used as a door and Christ forgave him his sins, only as proof of the reality of that pardon, healing his disease. So is the centre always the peace and pardon in the Lord, and this is seen divinely prior to any other need. All things in place, the Lord is piteous, but we learn to be prepared for divine perspective, and to trust Him as child may trust his parents.
10) Mary of Magdala
Mary was one in whom seven devils had lodged (Luke 8), and the question arises of her post-conversion stability. In fact, it was to her FIRST that Christ showed His resurrected body. Her intensity of grief led her to come to the tomb, questing, questioning, insatiable, and this resulted in her finding the greatest prize to be found on earth, better than real estate to 80 million, name and fame. Clinging to His feet, she was told to cease doing to, but to tell the others that He was ascending to His Father (and ‘your Father’) and to His God ( and ‘your God’), giving freely this glorious humility showing what He had accomplished for mere man (as in Hebrews 2), and this assurance to her. Thus the least can become great, and the most futile, marvellously used, and not only sustained, but cared for with a pity which is garnished with a deep understanding.
II THE CONDITION THAT IS THE SAME
All these were saved – none was lacking. There is no complaint too bad for Christ to heal in heart. When faith sprints like a rocket to His ear, there is nothing so subtle or so terrible that He cannot restore that soul, provided the cry rings clear. He loves to hear His children and to bring the outcast home – Psalm 145:17-18, Titus 2-3, Luke 15.
Are you saved by sincerity ?
If your blood flushes from a wound, are you sincere in asking for it to be stanched ? It is not the exquisite tone of your voice, but the fact of your urgent and expectant cry for help, that matters. This is not an elocution class, but a cry from pang, pain, peril to be rescued, redeemed or restored.
III THE PROBE THAT PROVES
In the case of Blind Bartimaeus 8) above, the urgency of reality was there. It seems that he heard of the coming of the Saviour on His way into Jericho, and then reinforced with another blind man, cried unremittingly to Him as He returned from the city.
What do you want Me to do for you ? came the question from the Lord. How crisp, clear and unconditional! He had the Lord’s attention, had his affliction, but it was necessary to STATE what he wanted in order to get it! It could have been riches, servants, or power; but it was indeed the eyes that required help, and Bartimaeus neither twisted nor turned. That I might receive my sight! came the reply. Nothing was shilly-shally, there was no subtlety. The answer was nothing less. He RECEIVED BACK AGAIN his sight. In the healing mission, it was given. Abide in Christ and His words in you and await the glory of what you find; for God is good and gracious, and a wonder to all.
This is a case of the simplicity that shows. In return, from Christ came in response, the touch that added power to pity. Observe that He was there to GIVE, and to listen concerning what was needed. There He was – ME – and there was the connection – What do you want ? and here was the conclusion of the matter: TO DO! Deeds were the issue. Words travelled to bring it to the light. He did it. So in Psalm 145:17-19, we read this:
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in
all His works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to al who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.”
NEVER settle for the idea you are OUT of the way and cannot be found in this, that if you want the Lord, call, and if you trust Him, settle on Him like locusts on a field, and eat of the goodness of the Lord (cf. John 6:50-54); or fall for the thought that you cannot now make the grade, but CALL on the Lord for His action, and trust HE will do it. Christ never fails (Zephaniah 3:5, John 16:15, I Cor. 13:7, Hebrews 13:8).
“The Lord is righteous in her midst,
He will do no unrighteousness.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He never fails.”