AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH January 7, 2007
A CONTINUATION as we wait
for the coming of the Lord,
OF THE THRUST AND BASE
OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
JESUS CHRIST: WHY DID HE COME!
AND FOR WHAT DID HE NOT COME ? - John 3:17
He did come willingly (Psalm 40), and in addition, He WAS sent (I John 4:9). The purpose we there read is "that we might live through Him". I John 4:14 declares that "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world". John 3:16 declares the underlying motivation in this giving of His Son to come into this spectacularly sinful world: He loved it. Nay, He SO loved it that He gave even His only begotten Son. That is a treasury of love.
Today however our task is to consider the verse following John 3:16. It being most clear why He sent His only begotten Son into this world, we can the better follow the meaning if we discover why He DID NOT send Him, or in other words, what was the motivation NOT in existence when He sent Him. If the positive is clear, what is the negative; if the grace is obvious, what is the barrier which excludes. If the drawing of love is manifest, to what may it not be compared. If the presence of a holy passion of love is as clear as a mighty river flowing in Spring from the mountains snows, what then is as clearly absent as cactus in a denuded desert ?
Before we come to the biblical answer, let us note why some come to the stage of human history, since this is this world's more customary way.
Some come as martinets, to marshall and demand, their commands their mode, their sovereignty their glory and their squalor. Stalin was such, and Mao. Their fair words in the end do not deter the mind from the facts that their best language, by which they most clearly state their case, is blood. If the human body has 5.6 litres per person, then these two would seem to have spilt some 112,000,000 litres or around 24,600,000 gallons. In the end, if without repentance, what a lake of fire they have made for their swimming consciences and just ruin. If all this blood has not been 'shed' directly, but some were simply despatched from vitality to mortality through imposed death of one sort or another, yet to ravage the Lord's creation as a personal tornado is in no slightest way to discount justice. Their blood cries for it.
Some come to the stage not merely as marshalls or martinets but as paranoids, for which the earlier noted, absolute tyrants would seem to qualify abundantly, being so carried away with dreams that neither truth, nor results, nor heart, nor sympathy, nor humility seemed able to enter. Obliterating guilt by decrying morals, they asserted it with murder, made on 'moral' grounds. If morals were a myth, how could they condemn ? IF morals were as real as power, how could they themselves escape condemnation! That was a puzzle they never resolved. Desire never has answer in truth. Such was their confusion.
Some are precisionists, desiring that their exact specifications be followed, and impose these with unflinching passion; and Hitler had with both of the above qualities, perhaps this as well, seeking by exceedingly scheduled methods, to extinguish a significant portion of the human race; as did the Inquisition, where the high profile person was the pope; precisely contrary to Christ (John 18:36). Some again, are rank human ideologists, whose fervour for their ideas is almost aesthetic, as with some of the leaders of the French Revolution, with its Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, where as so often, those deemed NOT the right stuff for brothers, were deleted. Thus, some who once led the movement, found the sharp teeth of Madame guillotine about their throats.
Let us praise the wonder of the loving God of truth and mercy, that for NONE of these reasons did the long-foretold Christ come. So far from instigating the death penalty, He forbade the use of force even to protect Him (John 18:36, Matthew 26:47ff.). So far from coming even to condemn the world (that entire body of humanity which He created, much of which is enthralled more and more with ignoring, disposing of Him, or dispossessing His people of liberty or life), He came NOT to condemn but to save it! (John 3:17, our text).
How could He as God do this! Have not 'lords of the nations' shown a love to have dominion for this or that reason, or simply for the expansive implementation of egotism ? In Christ however, was One far better, with a better wisdom, way and a greater love. The Creator loves to restore His creation, even if they jest at His quest and slander His servants. Love suffers long and is kind.
I THE PROGRAM
Did Christ then declare that the law of God did not matter ? Far from it.
Said He: "Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets; I have not come to destroy but to fulfil." He went on to say that the least particle of the law would be summarily fulfilled. Did He remove the moral truths ? Not at all, even to the paralytic as in John 5, His word after healing was this: "Go and sin no more." Was then indulgence the new rule ? Far from it, as in John 5:14!
MERCY is what He desired, not mere application of law (Matthew 9:12-13). He cited Hosea 6:6 and made clear that mercy is a priority without which man is no more man; for it is at the heart of God as in Micah 7:19ff..
This is not lawlessness, but law in its place under grace; but it remains the rule, as in Romans 3:13.
II THE PURPOSE
The purpose of His coming being mercy, love and salvation, that we might have love, truth and consolation, the thing He abhorred in this program was condemnation, mere regular, heartless, ruled exclusion. His task was to include the excluded, to win the lost, to sever the damnation of sin and to take it upon Himself in a selective work, where faith was the way, and its absence was the finale. There the marshy places ruled, and the fresh beauty of mercy could not come.
HENCE in His eye, in His mind, in His spirit was not the desire to jump on the personnel of this sinning and squalid earth, and justly deliver to condemnation all the sinners who alone populate it. Firstly, there would have been no one else left; and secondly, the restoration of the ruined, the remedy for the rejected, the quickening of the dead, the healing of the sick in any or all dimensions, these were the objectives of His task. The cost was to be borne by Himself, even to becoming a ransom (Matthew 20:28); the removal of reality was not in view, but the transference of the accounts, where the new life came, and the gift of the grace of life that is eternal (II Cor. 5:17-21).
He did NOT come to CONDEMN but to SAVE the world. That word is what He said. That mission, it is what He did. The soiling of history was met with the splendour of the Sovereign on mission.
III THE MAN AND THE METHOD
Thus through Him, it was not programmatic, but personal in emphasis; and any program rested in redemption in Himself, payment in person, priest in application, to act as sacrifice in sentence. Contrast this with the rulers of this world, whose latest round of trough snouting seems never to find an end, whose objectives seem often, even in democracies, to be voted into power, this first, rather than to find out the need and perform it. Why does not Australia have a sound water system to use all the water of the North, or the energy of the middle ? It appears that it is not least because there are reasons that objectivity of rule knows little of, where companionship of State and Federal Government, realisation of the state of national emergency and forgetfulness of partisan advantage, are distanced.
Why do not the nations co-operate better ? It is partly because not caring to know God, or departing from the living God, they have regimes, philosophies, objectives of power, hegemony or survival, which are not seen in unison but in daring, secrecy, dispute, disparities, deceits and delusions. It is because as in Psalm 2, they cast away the right, the Messiah, and walk in the night where you HAVE to stumble (John 8:12, 11:9-10); and the more power you have, the worse the smash. Currently, the practice of walking in the night is becoming almost incredible in mortality.
Again, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the answer to man, is a wonder, in that although condemnation could be the entire theme, His work is that of mercy; and He, He is not optional but necessary. Thus in Acts 4:11-12, we find as one would expect of whatever is divinely authentic, that there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which they MUST be saved. God is not an option box, but the Designer, the Commander and the King. Who else has created man ? Certainly not man; and to become subject to Him as Lord is mere factuality; it is the motivation of love in response to His own which contains heart (cf. I John 4:10-11,19). Thus comes Christ's procurement of free salvation (Romans 3:27ff.) and the heart to give spiritual showers of mercy upon the earth. Some soil is so clayey, hard and tough that waters do not lodge.
IV THE MEAT AND THE MEANING
Nor is His salvation casual, for it is permanent (John 6:50ff.), and while fidget-faith, mercenary religion, selfish substitutes are as barren as the desert of ocean, yet faith in Him and His atoning work, His restoration in the resurrection even of His own body, in His faithfulness secures water that not only does not fail, but wells up to eternal life (John 4:14, 7:37-38). Put differently, reception of this bread is an act that obviates hunger (John 6:47ff.).
His redemption is not sentimental but salvatory: it is not a mere offer, but an accomplishment (John 6:62), a grant of the God who like a tempest, covers all: but like rain, comes into the pastures that are under its sway. None tricks Him; but He finds all who are His own, seeking all and knowing His own people (Ezekiel 34, Isaiah 65:1, 49:6).
The marvel is this, that the question, Am I His ? is so easily answered. Coming by faith to Him in repentance of life from sin and acceptance in life of His life and redemption, of Him raised bodily from the dead, this PROVES you are His (Romans 10:9, John 20:27-29, Lke 24:39ff.). If you desire it not, who then frustrates you ? If you desire it, it is there. Does the hungry refuse bread because of some superstition ? Does the seeker after God not eat when it is available, and indeed when Christ CAME NOT to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved ? Are YOU not part of the world!
It comes however at a cost: that of abandoning the alternative (Luke 14:27ff.). It does not come as an increment for life's features, like chocolates after dinner, but as a profound peace offering against all odds; and while it does not force, it does not come into a crowded room. When God is God, His is infinite superiority, to Him is limitless devotion: the additive of anything else is like adultery, food pollution, the prescription of death.
Small wonder therefore that James declares this: Friendship with the world is enmity with God (4:4). Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (4:8). The life of the body is structured from the design, created into being with words such as those in the DNA and genome. The life of the spirit is desecrated; and a new creation (II Cor. 5:17ff.) is not merely far more significant than the code for our bodies, but brought to bear at infinitely greater cost.
God's power made bodies; God's mercy made peace (Psalm 85:10): therefore live in Him at peace. Act not as another person's slave, or even your own, but for Him as the Prince of peace.
His blood was that of one, not of 20,000,000 as reportedly might be laid to the charge of the twin dictators. What they spoiled in many, others, He wrought in one: Himself! That is one difference between giving and grabbing, between selfish slaughter and self-sacrifice, between commandeering property and granting His own property in Person as a gift; between the ideologies of man and the inundations of God.
Moreover He did not abstract it from victims. HE paid it, His own (Ephesians 1:7).
Again, while your blood is said to travel thousands of miles in one day, He covered infinity, faster than light, at His coming: for the Maker of Space became the Saviour of the world. Fast as He is in mercy, so must the cry of faith be to Him, for mercy; and marvellous as are His works in the human body, yet greater by far is His work in His own body, which promotes the body of faith, even the church of the living God, operative wherever two or three are gathered in His name, and His word is the criterion of conduct, with faith the channel of dynamic. But it is THROUGH HIM alone, says John 3:17 with 14:6, that life comes, that salvation replaces condemnation. There is no other option.
It is so with life: you take it where it is, or you lack it. THIS lack is infernal, eternal; but this life is eternal. It is His (John 1:1-4).