AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – May 10th. - 17th, 2009
A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL
THRUST AND BASE OF
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA, ON CHANGELESS BIBLICAL LINES
WHAT IT MEANS, THAT GOD ACTED
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him,
and without Him nothing was made that was made.
"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light,
that all through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
"That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him,
to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying,
'This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
"Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him,
'Who are you?' He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."
And they asked him, 'What then? Are you Elijah?' He said, 'I am not.'
'Are you the Prophet?' And he answered, 'No.'
Then they said to him,
'Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you say about yourself?'
He said: 'I am
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord,"
as the prophet Isaiah said.’
"Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees.
And they asked him, saying,
'Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?'
John answered them, saying,
'I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.
It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap
I am not worthy to loose.'
"These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,
'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!' "
I WHO HE IS
The opening verses of John's Gospel are a little like Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. They so obviously relate to Genesis 1:1 (red above), and that to the creation of all things. In John 1, we learn that God did it through one who was with Him at the first, the Word, Reason, Ground, Cause, His Expression, and that this one was also God. The Jehovah's Witnesses make such a rubbish out of this that it needs a word; besides, like the Toccata, the fact is that it is extremely beautiful. Let's look at it.
The Greek tells us that in the beginning there was the Word, and there was a companionship: it was WITH God, and there was moreover, a thrill of magnificence, for 'it was God that the word was', as one would translate it. Briefly, the point is this. In the Greek here is a simple statement of subject and complement.
Which IS the subject ? Is it saying, The word was God, or God was the word ? To prevent ambiguity, the rule is that the subject has a 'the' with it. Hence since it has the definite article with 'word' we know this is the subject. But it does not come first in order. Instead, the term 'God' does in this sentence. Hence the subject comes at the end of this sentence, and it means that it starts with what is NOT the subject. Thus, for emphasis, as we often do, it puts the stressed point first. GOD was the Word. The Irish strain can help here: It is God that the word was, is the sense. It is emphatic, even a little dramatic, soaring to the heights like the organ music of Bach.
There is in fact NO SUCH THING as any other God in the Bible. It is Creator or creation (John 1:3, Romans 1:17ff.). In the latter, it is fools fallen to worshipping anything else. There is, in Psalm 82, an ironic twist to the fact that some IMAGINE they are, or act as if they were gods; but THEY WILL DIE LIKE MEN, says the inexorable irony of God, who mocks self-vaunting, not least that in men when they forget that they are born without their consent and die at His decision. Indeed, in Isaiah 45:21, with 43:10, you have ONE OF as the number applied to both the Hebrew term transliterated EL and ELOHIM! and that, not without some passion. There is NOTHING LIKE the Lord in heaven or on earth (Psalm 89:6).
What does the Lord GOD say in these two verses. It is this: there is no EL before Me nor shall there be after Me; there is no ELOHIM besides Me, a just EL and Saviour!
To imagine anything else in the God realm, anything in this form, height or depth, formed or being formed, whether you make it less in this or that way, or any other Creator (Isaiah 44:24) or Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11): this is a monstrosity, illicit, an exposition of woe, a transgression in the ultimate. There is no greater error one can make, than here; and no greater loss than in this.
In Psalm 96, we learn that the gods of the heathen are idols (the 'heathen' simply referring to all other nations, and hence to all other gods, for it is the God who 'created the heaven and the earth' to whom the Bible refers, and as to Him, there is ONE as in Exodus 20, Isaiah 44-46).
Indeed, Psalm 97 tells 'all you gods', in the greatest derogatory derision, to worship Him, in the context of putting to shame the images that men ruinously worshipped, which could neither smell nor hear! (Psalm 94). Inventions of man are many: the God who IS God is one, is to be worshipped and the rest is idolatry. Thus when Thomas as in John 20, worshipped Christ, bodily and demonstrably so, risen from the dead as He declared would be the case, what happened ? Rather than being rebuked, his action was made the template of truth for ALL who were to come, who having NOT seen, yet would believe!
Thus the Word IS God, God it is that is His nature and being; and then we learn this, in John 1:3, that NOTHING that was made was instituted or made at all, without Him. If there is a 'made' category and the Maker, then ALL in the 'made' part are HIS doing. He cannot be part of it since ALL of it whatsoever is His work. He cannot be a result when He is the cause of ALL the results! Maker and made: He is the one and the rest is the other.
To fail to worship Him is folly, for God's executive arm is also HIS arm and is no mere employe, but enjoys the privileged status of the Eternal Himself who is not satisfied with mere words, vital though these are to expression, but has One who is THE WORD IN HIMSELF. He, the Word of God, is the one originating all that is to be, being with God, and God Himself in this dynamising, creating magnificence.
II WHAT HE DID TO ARRIVE
How amazing then that John proceeds to tell us of John the Baptist, most famous of prophets, as the introduction to this same God the Word, the Messiah. John ? He was not that light which lightens every man, the One of whom it is written that in Him was life and He was the light of man; whilst the darkness nevertheless did not comprehend. Darkness by its nature does not admit light, just as man today is busy not admitting Christ, uncomprehending as in masses of shanghaied human disaster areas, he is drafted by culture and knowledge falsely so-called, to an end not to be desired.
Rejecting the Word as Designer, though nothing COULD be found to match the design which we are in designatory features and staggering commands in its DNA, the multitude goes into anti-design mode, and clashes and kills with an insurmountable appetite for folly, and death, just as Revelation 6 predicted would be the case. If you do not love LIFE, that life that was in the Word of God, the Christ, then death is your portion. It spreads its wings before it takes off.
John the Baptist, HE WAS NOT that light, we read, but a testimony to Him. Indeed in John 1:29 we find that this WORD which became flesh, God taking the format of man for a sacrificial function, is the LAMB OF GOD.
What lamb ? Sacrifice abounded in Leviticus, for example, and a lamb could be used as a pictorial image for sin-transfer purposes, so that its death would signify the sinner's admission of his desert before God, so that guilt through this representation was moved. Of course the animal could not in itself do this, but it depicted sacrificially the necessary facts for repentance at sin and acknowledgement before God of its fatal character and judicial end. At this, death was a clearing house; and then, at last, the ONLY ONE ADEQUATE came, as John declared, the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world: THERE HE IS! The next day, John made a similar affirmation, and at this, some disciples of his then followed Jesus the Christ.
Thus law was given through Moses, said John, but grace and truth in Jesus Christ. He paid the bill, met the invoices from the past and for the future, and did it in a grace that teemed with mercy and was singular in performance at Calvary, once for all deleting sin for a life which received Him, but His life for ever delivered to death for the believing, receiving sinner (Hebrews 9:12-10:14, John 5:24).
Not all did receive Him, when He came, as now not all do; but millions have done so. He was, after all, "full of grace and truth," and although "no one has seen God at any time," yet "the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him" - or led Him forth. He IS, who declared that before Abraham was, "I AM"!
His word gives life to faith as at the first, physical life to flesh; and this, it is that eternal life which is His (I John 1:1-4). He has shown Him direct, not in symbol but in fact (John 14:1-10), and He came, not in dream but in body; and the Lord provides Him, not to works, but to faith as a gift (Romans 6:23ff., Titus 3:5, John 3:17).
III WHAT JOHN'S NOs LED TO
Since John was the phenomenon of those times, multitudes of people going out into the desert to seek forgiveness from God through His ministry, the religious authorities, who were not the best - the high priesthood was a rort thing, being available for sale for example, and traditions were added to the word of God as if He were some kind of echo chamber (a thing Christ detested, and He said so - Mark 7:7ff.), the priests were interested and quizzed the prophet.
WHO ARE YOU! came the thrust of interrogation. “I AM NOT THE CHRIST”! He was not the Messiah.
WHAT THEN ? they pursued the point. If not the main one, what are you ? ELIJAH ? ‘I am not!’
In fact, some misunderstand Malachi who referred to one coming as Elijah; but Saul's rebuke for seeking the spirit of dead Samuel is enough in itself, to show this reference is a FIGURE! "Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and fearful day of the LORD," (Malachi 4:5). Though of course not in himself Elijah, yet through the word of Jesus, John was shown to fulfil this role-type, a latter-day Elijah as a preparation for the coming of the Christ Himself.
Are you then 'that prophet', the priests queried the prophet. “NO!” again came the defining certitude.
It is good to see someone who knows who he is, what he is doing and why! so unlike modern day democratic slither in examining authority's word from heaven. The reference here is to the Deuteronomy 18 passage where Moses indicates that while his presentation ruled, it was not the final revelation, since there was to come a prophet who would have to be followed on pain of divine collision; for God would put HIS words into the MOUTH of THAT PROPHET! (as Christ attested of Himself in John 12:48-50). He would speak all God COMMANDED.
This was parallel to an early reference to the Messiah of Isaiah 49-55, who would be a COMMANDER (Isaiah 55:4), leader and prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6-7). WHO ARE YOU THEN ? came the ecclesiastical pursuit of the point. “What do you have to say for yourself ?”
They wanted some key for John, who then cited Isaiah 40:3, a prophecy also cited in Mark and applied in Matthew 3:1-4. His was
“the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the paths of the Lord.”
He was preparatory, baptising with water, a symbolic occurrence (cf. Ezekiel 36:25), a sprinkling with water as there stated, one to occur when those of Israel turned to 'David their King' - another type matter, meaning: to his famous descendent on the mother's side, the Messiah.
The One for whom he prepared, HE was actually even then, as One ‘who stands among you!’ As to Him, John declared, he was not worthy even to untie His sandals.
It was HE, the Lamb of God ‘who takes away the sin of the world!’ It is present tense: He was even then on path to Calvary, the Lamb, and the ONLY sin-bearing sacrifice available, being GOD HIMSELF, His WORD as man! Nothing greater could be imagined, nothing as great was available, no other time would do, and no other person could compete. Here was the Saviour and besides God there is NO SAVIOUR (Is. 43:10-11).
This is what John's NOs led to, when he eventually made the affirmation!
Remember, then, that saying NO can be just as important as saying YES.
Do you believe in the various false prophetic courses and tricksters who inflict their odious wares on this present world (as foretold – Mat. 24:24) ? NO!
Do you accept the slithering sects, such as have false doctrine or false prophecies that are not fulfilled and then cover up their own fraudulence with imagination, and have masses of people follow them ? No of course not!
Do you worship bread, and believe Christ committed suicide at the Last Supper ? Of course not!
Do you believe it is good to call 'good' the Islamic religion which degrades Christ to mere man ? Never in the world or out of it.
Good. Say NO where it belongs, as John did.
Will you alter the word of God, the living God whose LIVING WORD spoke the TRUTH on this earth being in Himself THE TRUTH (John 14:6), a "man who told you the truth" (John 8:40) ? Will you have male-marriage, ceremonies for perversion as the Bible characterises this misuse of the continuity medium for this race, and the expressions that go with it ? Never. Will you seek to pastiche a god and then change the first letter to G, for convenience ? NO, I am not going to despatch myself to hell by picturing my God in terms of my own thoughts and mentality.
Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay!
Say NO to every temptation, but YES to the Lord, to His identification. Do this:
1) in affirmation from your own lips (Romans 10:9,
2) In faith by believing and therefore applying His word and promises
to the vicissitudes and challenges, yes and to the opportunities also of your own life.
3) ) in love, seeking to be a faithful reflector of HIS love,
for it was not that we loved Him,
which is the criterion,
but that HE loved us and sent His Son to be the Saviour from sin:
He who would have all, and who chose those who were His
(Colossians 1:19ff.,Ephesians 1:4).
4) in hope, not wondering whether you will be resurrected,
but envisaging by faith what hope has prescribed,
and seeing that it is NOT of your will or blood but of GOD
that you were chosen (John 1:12),
then resting on this work-free way to heaven,
work out of delight in His dealings,
not in any presumptuous endeavour to work your way in!
As to the first, hear Paul the apostle: that
"if you confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,
and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believes to righteousness;
and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed."
Being ashamed of Him and thus WHO HE IS, this is divorce (Luke 9:26). By His grace, His children are kept from such denial! They are regenerated and so actuated by actuality, in Him who not only is the Truth, but is in them (Colossians 1:27); and he who believes in Him will NOT be ashamed. The one category envelops the other for ever and ever (John 4:14, 5:24, 5:1-11, Ephesians 1:11, Romans 9:33).
What then of your journey with Christ ? When you are ON a highway, you do not press the accelerator to get in, but to go on! Let us therefore go on, bump or breeze, snow or typhoon. He will not suffer us to be tested beyond what we are able to bear (I Corinthians 10:13). Keep close not to your computer driven machine, or its parallels, but to your Christ, the one and only, first and final, in one work completing all redemption, the LORD'S CHRIST (Luke 2:26); and so do not be surprised, for He is a resource and wisdom to those who seek Him.
It is He who is not some psychiatrist, counsellor of flesh, limited and twisted this way or that at this time or that, and influenced by this theory or that at this incident or that, or politician seeking for himself this party or future or security, or that. It is HE who is the WORD of the living God and He IS GOD. With Him, you are safe, secure, given spiritual food and drink, and in Him you grow, putting on spiritual weight, never to throw about, but the better to endure. Worship HIM, as Thomas did, declaring with him, My LORD and MY GOD (the God of me!). Avoiding HIM is slandering God as a buffoon who lets the world rot while doing nothing: HE DID ALL!
IF you confess HIM (not some invention) with your lips and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). That is what He came to do. Then that too, it will be done. Praise God! for the profundity of His work, the simplicity of His entrance to life (John 10:29-30).