AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH November 11, 25, 2007


Sermon Notes


but the Imaginations of Mere Musing Man are Going

In Acts 1:7-11 we see that just as surely as Christ was to come (Genesis 3:15, Luke 2:26-32), and came as Saviour, with the vast detail in time, place and method of His execution and time of arising from the dead incorporated over the millenia in the Book of the Lord, the Bible, SO He is to come, this time as King. He planted the foundation; next time, He raises the building and dashes fraud (Matthew 21:44, II Thessalonians 1).

Like a thief before police, man flees in thought and deed, often making futile stands of aggressive defence.

Man has this delicious freedom which he utilises, scarcely ever more in practice than in denying it in theory, as he seeks to escape the responsibility which for all that invades his every moment, as he sets up his OWN priorities and preferences, principles and positions on the basis of a chosen model. This may come from early Greeks, as in atomic theory, or evolutionary dreams in a sort of ultimate totem pole and naturalism, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah mock, or any other idea that fixes itself on him, like an implacable octopus.

From his heart, with its deep desires controlling all, he loves to assert, the compelling notes come as if he were a pianola of preference, a thing he then miraculously knows! Master of truth, modern man  with Pilate laughs at truth, expert in what he excludes; and he bombasts his way to ever more ludicrous ideas, seeking escape in these  or any other scape goats he invents, so that man of the twenty first century might be what he wants and shrug off cause and destiny alike, making of himself a god, an ignoramus oddity, not deity, and certainly not divine.

It is moreover as no god that he acts.

It is an illustration to hear of the Queen Mother allegedly having told 'those queens in the kitchen' that 'this queen' would like certain commodities, I think of food. It is all very well to throw a name around your desire, or nature, and then, for all that, be what you really are: that is a dream. When however you come to the fact, the real, the actual Queen in that case, and the actual LORD in this, it is far different. In fact, you move from rambunctious roving to authenticity. You are forced to face up to facts.

One of the models that man thus idly manufactures is the myth that from the scripture, the Bible, it may be seen that early Christians thought that they were soon to have Christ back! This needs removal with other garbage man collects as he does his little god act.  



Thus Peter in II Peter 3:9 tells us that even from THAT early day, his own so near to that of Christ, there is to be NO thought of the Lord delaying too long in His return. History has to happen first. The ground is laid, as if a factory were built; NOW it has to operate for long, before the ... assessment of the owner. Christ makes the same point at the end of Matthew 24: many of His alleged servants may begin to live to enjoy themselves, but they had better beware, for HIS RETURN, WHEN it comes, will catch them by surprise. Again, He speaks of Himself as a nobleman (Luke 19:18, Matthew 25:14)who owns a property, who will go on a journey to a FAR country, and then return. The term 'far' in those days, was all but synonymous with a long TIME, since travel was slow.

Thus in II Thessalonians 2:1, Paul is at pains to remove any thought of an imminent return of Christ. Just as Christ Himself in Matthew 24 showed the immense canvas of history of nations, and the multitude of things which had to occur before His return, even outlining a whole course of action which was to be merely the BEGINNING of sorrows, before the final action, so does Paul here in Thessalonians.

The mystery of iniquity, the apostle there indicates, already at work in the world (as Christ told in terms of the prince of this world, in John 14:30, who has 'nothing in Me'), has yet to be consummated. As to that, it is only when that which restrains, is taken out of the way, he declares, that the man of sin will reveal himself, revelling in his notion that he is as God, and so showing himself to himself. Meanwhile, there is NOTHING of that final order that CAN happen. So he re-assures the people of his own day.

DO NOT THINK the day is imminent, impending, threateningly close, says Paul in II Thess. 2:1. The term, as the Greek dictionary of Thayer points out, properly indicates the impending, the near at hand, what is thrusting into existence. It may be used in other senses, but this is the one also to be found emphasised in Liddell and Scott's classic Greek dictionary. The day of the Lord is not something coming INTO EXISTENCE now, says Paul. Much has to happen. Nor, for that matter, is it a question that it is here already. If that were the meaning, then there would be the ultimates of power devastating the ultimates of rebellion. It is not a quietus but a confrontation that this involves, with ALL power on the side of the Lord.

No, says the apostle, the day of the Lord is not threateningly close. It does not impend. Much has to happen first, there being a FALLING AWAY before the end turmoil and the decisive action of God. The testimony of Christ in the world has to rise, before it falls, as now in our own day, in many places and ways. The whole Christian sweep across the world, of which Christ spoke in Matthew 24:12 has first to happen. It is then that there is a falling away. It is only then that the next step comes, with the revelation of the man of sin and his decisive engulfment in the fires of God. RESTRAINT was the condition, therefore,  in which the early Christians found themselves; a restraining force was operating preventing the direct end confrontation, and even its early coming.

REVELATION of God was what was to come, and that done, in God's own due time, there would follow personal confrontation with the evil lusts that seek to make of men, their own gods, and of a man, a master to rule them. All THAT, says Paul, is yet to come, in its complex steps. Now, do not be confused by alleged talk, letters or the like, he urges. It is a future thing, this day of the Lord, removed from your present horizon. Indeed, they already knew of time of waiting, the future events of the day of the Lord (II Thess. 2:5); for they had been told of it before by the apostle. What he here therefore is emphasising is this (as in the AV and the NASV), that all that is NOT EVEN NEAR.

So knowing of course that it is not the day itself, they must also realise that it is not impending. Sight tells them it is not present; revelation tells them it is far off. That is the fact of apostolic teaching in that day.  So too Peter in II Peter 3:9 declares that they must be patient. God is NOT slack, says Peter. He does not delay incontinently, unnecessarily. Consider HIS time frame, says Peter. In terms of making human history conform to His will, a thousand years is as a day.

That indeed is not the case when as in Genesis 1, God first defines hat HE means by 'day' in creation itself, a thing of darkness and light in alternation, morning and evening, and then declares how in defined terms He made the universe. This is the opposite. He is telling how in a made universe, one now limited by time, where the message of the Gospel is to penetrate throughout the earth before He acts to end it all, a thousand years is as a day. Multitudes of man-made historical things have to happen within the plan of God.

It is therefore if TWO days, for example, in the time frame that Peter here uses, then two millenia before the return of the Lord to this earth. That is PRECISELY the time frame now. It is around two thousand years since the time of Peter: two eschatological 'days'. Days other than the sort we now have,  in order and sequence are not a biblical usage; but one day may have its own dimensions. Thus thousands of years was for Peter the type of time before Christ would return.

That the time is NEAR (another word found in Peter for example) in the perspective of God, is true. The whole historical background is already complete. God created the earth, rebuked its foulness in the flood (II Peter 3:1-5), put in the rainbow to remind us that this is not to be repeated, and as a token of mercies, foretold His Messiah, the time of His death and the nature of His gospel to come, then sent that same Messiah come and suffer as a sin offering, proclaiming that no other Gospel being permissible or in view (Galatians 1, Ephesians 1:10), had Him rise from the dead just as Christ Himself had raised others, removed Him after 40 days to welcome acceptance in heaven until His return (Acts 3:19-21).

All that was DONE. That meant that ALL the preliminaries of divine power in preparation for blessing were complete. In that sense, in the divine historical time frame noted, His day is near.

This however is in the view of the Lord in this domain, where a thousand years is a day. Thus we find references to this facet in this same Peter himself, I Peter 4:7 (time is near),  as in Paul, I Cor. 10:11 (the end of the ages), Phil. 4:5 (the Lord is near), and James 5:7-8 (the coming is drawing near).

Yet NOW it IS near, for 2000 years or so have now passed. The case is that it NOW IS imminent. This we see from the restoration of Israel to Jerusalem and many other features in concert, like a complex pattern before our eyes. WHEN this happens, we are INSTRUCTED to look up for our redemption (for Christians, that of the body), this is now near (Luke 21).  


November 25, 2007

but the Imaginations of Mere Musing Man are Going  



Ignoring God, as in morals (paralleling Romans 1 in its prophetic analysis of the fast fall of man, and where it ends!), so in spiritual life (II Timothy 3:1-5 predicts this like a mirror image of our contemporary world and its direction), man bypasses Him also in hope. He seeks for an ending, a happy landing from hope not faith; so man acts from desire. Ignoring a third time, tossing out divine declaration, man proceeds now to his end. It is not a pessimistic view to say so, for here to be found is the glory that MATCHES not man's desire, but his state.

Examination is fearful only for those ill-prepared!

God has something better. Relieving man, as many as come to Him on His terms of surrender,  of folly debunked, and pardoning folly, through redemption and transformation in the Gospel of divine grace, God provides the consummation in the resurrection of His people at Christ's return. This is not an idle thought or a rancid theory, but an action enshrined in Jesus Christ, the foretold, the fulfilment, the centre and the exemplar from God for man, Himself raised from the dead. Yet man is immersed in his own idle thoughts, escapist theories and degrading debasements. Let us examine some of the ... dreaming hopes for a moment.

Thus an interesting News item in The Australian, which appears to have the date Nov. 5, 2007, talks of 'deviant' Muslim disciples in its heading. It notes that there is a Muslim sect with tens of thousands of adherents spread across Java, South Sulawesi and Sumatra. Turning from gambling, adultery , murder and the like (a welcome change in the last), it is not terrorist-linked, apparently, and some seven years old.

After much fasting, its leader found a revelation, he asserts, like Muhammad. It is this: he is the new one, appointed as the next prophet after Muhammad. Muhammad's relegation of prophets now has its own come-uppance! Why not... If he could invent a false claim and confuse people without evidence concerning Christ, then why not another displace him likewise! It is like air, for birds to fly in.

Once you start without verification or validation, and using force, as Muhammad did, there is always the next one train of thought. If he could start from no basis testable, why not the next ? This is the precise nature of false prophets, and this development shows up the superficial unreality of the earlier distortion of Jesus Christ by Muhammad, without evidence, 600 years or so too late for him to be a witness!  As to this successor ... Islam is to be perfected, he cries, just as Muhammad tried to 'perfect' Christianity and Judaism.

A similar sort of sect is noted in Pakistan, with perhaps 500,000 followers in Indonesia, as well as many in Australia, Britain and elsewhere. This Islamic sect does not take Muhammad after all, even in that religion, as the last word. Indonesia is thus debating the nature of their religion.

This is good to the extent that the basis of Christ, already tried, tested and come after long predictions fulfilled, before Him and by Him, can be registered and compared. This applies both with those who seek to supplant Him, or like Muhammad to place Him, ex-redemption, ex-deity, in some anomalous religious invention that ignores the historical facts and prophecies alike. Many are those, false prophet and false follower alike, who seek to replace or act to deface Him, as did Israel of old, have multiplied calamities, both to themselves and to others. They paid; other payments come later. Baulking at truth is like ignoring the fate, as the old saw had it, that there is something to face, for "what are you going to do when the rent comes round!"

Relative to Christ, here there is no evidential comparison: there is nullity. No contest is the result!  There are others who similarly are trading on that name of Jesus Christ, one that earned its place in unique prodigies on all sides in fulfilment of precise prophecies which cynics can neither exclude nor debase, things wrought before the critical eye of the unbelieving, maximally motivated Jew of Christ's day, performances at the level of deity that left no option to such inexorably envious power-retainers except murder! (John 11). The One, He is sure; the others are equally surely without any support of an evidential or logical kind.

Recall this: If you want the fulfilment of something, firstly, it needs to be testable and secondly, it needs to be truth. Thirdly, it needs to have what it takes to do it; and to SHOW this!

God has what it takes, has shown it, in only one place, in one Person with many prophets before and after focussing this same Jesus; and the perfection is not in thought alone, for what does this accomplish, when in opposition to truth! It is in fact. It is as in the incarnation, so in the return, thundering ever more nearly into sight, like the roar of the express train, clearly audible if you put your ear to the rails, and then, a little later without even that help! (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). It is something done by God, as indeed in the creation in the first place. 

Others manifestly and munificently LACK THIS! (cf. SMR pp. 829ff., 1080ff.., Chs. 1 & 10).

What then do we find ? Playing with God produces wars enough, as Islamic contests from the first have shown to those disfigured and despatched, subordinated, not least women, and ground down. The same is true of Romanism, which making a Christ out of bread, can move Him about at will, as if He had committed suicide in the Last Supper, though He being true man, has but one body (Hebrews 2). For this duplicative figment, they have murdered, demeaned, tortured and expropriated this world's goods (stolen them) from many, over centuries.

These religions of force are equally those of the imagination of men. But the Christian looks not for this but the dealings of God.

Thus we also read of different Muslim groups expecting a new religion, a new prophet, a post-Muhammad extra, an ultimate leader, the coming one and so on, as they imitate Biblical truth with their ideas of later origin. Thus the unsatisfied yearnings of the Islamic revisionists are focussed, parallel indeed to the Buddhist development of Maitreya, in a generic of generations: in the thought of one to come. In line with the Buddhist concept of half-way houses of enlightened pseudo-saints in the heavens or some kindred spot, they all, Buddhist or neo-Islamic aspirant, have this expectation. In this, they but prepare the more for the coming 'prince of this world', who as in John 14:30, was to operate in his fallen power and broken brilliance when Christ left (cf. I John 5), but who is to find his role in egotistic, delusive culmination.

This is to occur,  as in II Thessalonians 2, when the end of the Age ushers in the 'unifying' liar, this ultra-Hitler to his own end in a delirium of destruction amid fallen glory, which is both his due and his due expectation!

What does it matter whether it emanates from Buddhism, itself a Hindu development starting about the 6th century B.C., or Islam, with a false prophet development, creating a new Christ and a new religion on his own visions, around the 6th century A.D.! It is all many centuries after Moses (Deut. 18), and lured by distorted longing that error tends to engender, just as truth the corrective, fulfils. Thus, this was long before the alien faiths, interpreted in terms of the Creator and Redeemer, the Lord. Mangled, those merely move in illicit paths to the same end; except that there is that little question of NAME, and what it means. We have here, as in the current election, the ME TOO phenomenon, which is so sickening. Truth acts; dreams imagine (Jeremiah 23:16-29).

Thus you could have a pack of young men dreaming of wives, and one of them might say, I have the idea in mind of the wife to come, the one who is to be perfect; and they might all agree, and go and write about the exact nature of this wife; though they might well fail to agree on her precise identity! So here. God has shown to the longing, deluded and defiled soul of man what HE has in mind for peace and destiny and ACTED on it to show it over millenia. He declares in word and deed HOW it may be obtained freely from Himself who as in Creation, will do (as He has done) all needed to make this happen.

Then man, much later, invents his own ideas of the desired destiny, like a young man dreaming in an office of future management power, or a supposedly better boss, and lays this down; but it is but dream. The dream, as we see however, has a basis both in NEED and in the revelation: the former needs to be examined, but the latter in the Bible ONLY is testable, valid and verified as the work of God. It points to what is coming; but at this stage of expectant history, the developing path taken by this world, though strong for change, is foretold as being in the wrong direction! So does drab humanity riot and regale itself as if possessed increasingly. God does not change; He does not need to do so. It is always from God that the good will come.

To the end,  the Bible points, and to the phases of history, as this is approached,  it makes reference clearly. For the rest, all this futuristic pointing in unreasoned mimicry is but a sign and a portent, a signal and a reminder of the latent desires and fires of man, who being deprived wilfully of truth, invents fiction in the same area!

Similarly, to whom does an unfaithful husband go so readily, as to another woman! It is at the truth that it fails, with explicit or implicit religious, lust; for it goes not in the valid hope, but in the hiatus created by its own thoughts; for power lacks without God, and the Creator-Redeemer is not involved in flimsy dreams (as in Jeremiah 23), changing now this way, now that. He has spoken consistently for millenia, and changes not one jot! It is written and remains and history simply follows it. You may change from concern for God, to gods; but He changes not.

This Buddhist Maitreya, this Islamic new leader idea, it is as  with many another human longing, based on need, on the very nature of our construction. When this is perverted from its divine rest, it is subjected to that ceaseless human unrest (as in Isaiah 57:19-21), which brings not peace but pieces of power and vainglory. It provides conflict and bloodshed, foolish aspiration and proud domination until its day comes and its lessons to and in history being done, its number is called. Then, it too joins the dead, the deceased, the demoralised and now demobbed forces of the god of forces (Daniel 11:38), and ends in the pit.

The resolution of the need is not in vague and variant imaginations, but in the truth of the word of God, long before made known and long since verified on all sides.

Like the longing for a home, so the longing for a home-maker long diverted, is based on our creation, made the keener because of our sin. Yet with the ONLY POSSIBLE answer in the far older, long continued, always-confirming-itself WORD OF GOD, with CHRIST, it will not rest; and restless it riots in all the godlets of unreason, using to an increasing degree, the force of arms, where the force of evidence and proof is missing. As to the truth,  JESUS is He, the Bible the book of the Lord (Isaiah 8:20); and Christ has already SHOWN who He is and where His heart lies. It is no more a question of the heart speaking, but of the Lord TELLING! He who has seen Me has seen the Father, said this same Christ (John 14). If you don’t believe Me, He indicated, believe for the works’ sake. There is no 'god in man' about this; God created man and condemns his presumption and pride.  2000  years of wriggling leaves only riot, or else by return to the Redeemer, rest.

Like the Gospel (Galatians 1, Ephesians 1:10), He never changes (Psalm 102, Hebrews 13:8).



In II Thessalonians 2:13-17, Paul proceeds with the conclusion for practical living.  

"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you,
brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
to which He called you by our gospel,
for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"Therefore brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught,
whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation
and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts
and establish you in every good word and work."

What beautiful words are these. Give thanks that it is all DONE. Realise that you are chosen through SANCTIFICATION, just as an athlete is chosen with his regimen attached. This is not what makes the athlete (chosen first), but the way of the athlete. This is seen in II Timothy 2:4-5 with 1:9-10! the former the way of it, the latter the basis for it, which embraces the beginning AND THE END, for the Christian, there being no variation.

This expectation, it is a thing of glory. It is personal, it is destiny; and it relates to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and not another, at His time and not another. It acts with the completion called, and in its basis, accomplished. It includes standing fast in the apostolic teaching, not varying at all. God has DONE and the apostles have STATED, and it is all fixed, as indeed in the mind of God before the creation was (Ephesians 1:4), and it has been stated for millenia before Paul, the Gospel itself included as in Isaiah 49-55.

Here is not only hope, but "everlasting consolation" with "glory" that of Christ.

It is not hidden (cf. Isaiah 45:18-19). It is not unknown, but very known, very displayed, most manifest, settled in heaven and shown in earth in the first coming of Christ. God is not playing us for suckers, but calling us to be saints.

THEREFORE be active in every good work, and with joyful expectation LOOK for His coming as Hebrews 9:28 exhorts us: "To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." THIS SAME JESUS, said the Angel in Acts 1:17ff., will come again in a manner like that of His departure. THEN is our departure.

Lord Jesus, come quickly, we say with all His people alerted in His will and Spirit.