BIBLE CHURCH –
A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL THRUST AND BASE OF
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA, ON CHANGELESS BIBLICAL LINES
DARKNESS AND DEATH FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF LIGHT AND LIFE
Focus on Psalm 49 with
Theme from Ephesians 5 and
Application from I Peter 5:10
THE THEME Ephesians 5:8
“For you were
once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”
Darkness and light are contrasted, and though the human kind is specific, it is vulnerable to disease of the spirit, as of body and mind; and in this case, it resembles one built to see, yet walking without light! It is however quite wilful (Ephesians 4:17-19, Matthew 13:14-15). On the other hand, if one of the fallen human kind (Romans 5:1-12) finds the kindness of the Lord, then a new kind of being arises. To be sure, it is as originally built (Colossians 3:10), but now it is operative once more, seeing by divine light and so walking as one who understands. This sort of light-walk includes protection against infection, and deviation, so that there is to be NO FELLOWSHIP with what is not of the light, and indeed, this is to be EXPOSED. All of this we both seek and should seek to do. THAT is the direction of the apostle Paul as cited above!
Now we turn to Psalm 49 to find an exposition of the background to these things, and a description.
THE LOCUS Psalm 49 and the FOCUS of verses 12-15
In the first 4 verses we have introduction to the light of life. In the next 5, we find the impotence of man to redeem, to recall death, and the fact that once redemption passes you, you are past it. In verses 10-11 we see the lost cause of trying to establish a footing on earth, after you go.
Without God, man is like a beast, a degraded offal in the end, losing the goodness in which he was wrought, and forsaking the opportunity to have been bought by His Maker by the Saviour. Off they go, and their posterity imbibes their this-worldly obsession with a ready blindness. Often it is called philosophy. However, elevated though their pretensions be, “like sheep they are laid in the grave.” There “death shall feed on them”, for life being ignored, in its source and spirit, they are mere liabilities, no longer on legs, but in restless rest (Mark 9). It is simply not possible to ignore God and live, and death for a spiritual being is a guilt-encompassing shame, that does not go away.
God will, on the contrary, redeem the life of the man who is His, from the grave, because He will receive such a man, as a desert shelter might receive a wandering traveller, and the hide him in the fastnesses of his oasis.
It is grace or grave, the Way of Truth or the Way of Error, and the grave has in this case a gravity past mere rotting.
The Psalmist knows well the “power of the grave”. This could also be translated “power of hell.” It is the situation when the soul finds death without God. The power of hell is precisely the power of sin to find its place where it belongs, and when it is identical to the sinner, so that grace is shouldered away, the sinner with sin goes as one load to its destination. From that POWER, redemption delivers. Without this, that power swamps psychologically, often physically and mentally. What is misdirected, like a drunk-driven sports car on the highway, is not delivered by its speed, but ruined by its misdirection!
You find a reflection of this theme in Hebrews 2:14: “Since, then, the children share flesh and blood, He personally shared it with them, so that by means of His death, He might abolish the power of death, namely the devil, and set free those who throughout life were held in slavery by fear of death.” The devil’s power lies here in the fact that SIN DESERVES shame and death, and thus accusation is not without ground, until in repentance one has fled for refuge to Jesus Christ, the Saviour (Hebrews 6:19 with 2:1-3 – “How shall we escape … ?”).
When the ground for just condemnation is removed, through the grounding at Calvary in the atonement of Christ (cf. I John 1:7), then the wrath of God being satisfied in truth, and mercy unencumbered enabled to fly and circle about the one it now protects, there is a sudden voidance. Of what ? It is the removal of the power of hell, of the devil to condemn spiritually, of the grave to triumph physically and of truth absolutely to demand shame and exclusion. In truth, the cause of damnation is by Christ annulled for His people! The dramatic dynamic of sin can no longer seize the blinded like toy dolls, but is discerned for its valueless folly, and put aside like a sore toe when it is healed, a sore heart when it grieves no more or a sore head when its bruises are covered with healing aloe, and repair (cf. Romans 8:6-14).
What then do we see ? There is the Way of Error (Psalm 49:6-7,12-13). Despite its follies, the fact remains: Dust does not do duty for deity, either to create life in this world or to grant it eternity in the next. God has unfolded life here and will unfold it there, according to the case! Like sheep the worldlings follow culture and counter-culture, and feed on it; but unlike Christ’s redeemed, whom God has bought (Hosea 13:14, Matthew 20:28), they perish interminably (Mark 9, Daniel 12:2 in ‘everlasting shame and contempt’), where time departs, but eternity proceeds. Thus the UPRIGHT shall have DOMINION over them in the MORNING (Psalm 49:14). Here is the Way of Truth (cf. Psalm 49:14-15, and 119:28-45 – ‘I have chosen the way of truth…’).
There is little more beautiful than this in the setting, incorporated in those three words in bold capitals: upright, dominion, morning. Why ? It is based on the Ruler who being King, transposes all things, the wicked to being ruled, the justified to being blessed in His reign of truth.
Where is the wickedness which rules at present in this world (John 14:30) ? It is in the places of wealth and power, authority and prevailing. Where, however, is it to be it then ? THEN the case is reversed, for in that morning when the day star arises in the heart (II Peter 1:19), the upright have dominion. Righteousness rules, in the power of the Lord, that Just One (Acts 3:14-15) whose word is truth. Yes, it is in the MORNING, when AFTER the night has come in which no man can work, this has PASSED AWAY (John 9:4). The light of holy day has come. THIS morning of Christ’s return to this earth ? It is a fresh morning, without mourning but with light illuminating to the heart, refreshing anointing the spirit and all dimness cast away as a scene at curtain fall, to reveal as it newly rises, incomparable majesty and beauty, as from snow waters in Summer, lyre birds in Spring (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 65).
Of all this, the word of God speaks in encouraging and reassuring vein:
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; to which you do
well that to take heed,
as to a light that shines in a dark place,
until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Knowing this first,
that no prophecy of the scripture is released by man’s resolutions;
for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:
but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
God used men, inspired by His Spirit to write of His will and coming in Christ; and again, He actually took the format of man. The former were the prophets and the latter came as His only begotten Son. Thus the Author came to His ‘book’. In this way, the flesh became a receptor, whether for Christ in womb, in incarnation or tomb, in vicarious atonement, or even in the hearts of the prophets who went before and attested not only the first coming of Christ but His eventual glory and rule.
Thus came the redemption that ceases for ever (Psalm 49:8), in this, that once it has come, there is no more, so that if Christ be neglected, there is no other! (Galatians 1).
The ONE God with His ONE contradistinctive word and His ONE Gospel for each ONE life to be redeemed and restored to sight in the light of the Lord, it is He in whom each one must trust, from whom each must receive the gift of eternal life which, in the efforts for self-redemption, self-restoration and self-fulfilment is lost. Here is the bowser of divine energy, the bench of divine pardon and the call to divine acceptance.
1) How poignant then it is, for the thought of redemption that shall cease for ever, the lost still lost, the rebel still rebellious, the self-trusting still enshrined in the ivory towers so useless against outside attack and internal contempt from the Lord for the arrogance of it all! Here is the poignancy of it, the useless folly of ignoring the Creator and so bypassing His redemption and what then ? as John 3:36 tells us, the wrath of God then abides on that one, and life is what that one shall NOT see. No it shall never be!
This is the Way of Error, where there is no redemption, and passed over by those in it, it ceases not for a time, but forever. We shall see more of this from Isaiah shortly. But in the meantime, note another loss.
2) Here potential is gone. What might have been for a life is not gone only for the moment, but the very scope for the restoration is gone away, like life's blood spilled in its entirety, when the wound might rather have been healed. That they should "continue to live eternally" as Psalm 49:8-9, this is missed like a train, but it is no accident or mere incident; it is rather the cumulative result of dismissal of the divine and rebellion against redemption. What is left knows no life. It is in Psalm 49:15, "BUT GOD SHALL REDEEM MY SOUL FROM THE POWER OF THE GRAVE", that this certainty is seen effective by faith, that death will be endlessly removed, and hell divinely dismissed when it might have longed for on onset!
3) Instead, therefore, now perfection of praise eternally is found. This is extended in Psalm 52:8-9:
"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God,
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
I will praise You forever
Because you have done it!"
What is done ? The gift of eternal life being given, it will be fulfilled forever and ever, just as the trust in the Lord will be continued by His own grace forever and ever, so that He may be praised for ever and ever. A heart that praises God is one of truth; for His is praise for the creation of liberty with which to love, and not be forced, of life with which to think and imagine and create and choose, and not be confused, as for the donation of light for the soul, in its entry, that one might walk in life with understanding, not being vague but knowing what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-16).
His is the creation of adventure, in which one may travel and travail in His service, and of kinship, fraternity and friendship even of Himself with His servants (John 15, James 2:23), of scope for presentation of His power and grace, love and redemption to others, that they too might know Him, of the majesty of His role in creation. His is the exhibit of the beauty of His heart in its prodigies of delight and the rebuke of His mind to the woes with which man disadorns himself, in the ditches of unbelief, where the worms of desire crawl in their dark places.
COME! He calls even to the desperados of false dynamic, to the disconsolate as to the discomforted, the declining and the dead of heart! (Matthew 11:28-30). Let the one who is thirsty come! He cries (Revelation 22:17), and drink freely (Isaiah 55) and without price, receiving what is by His payment, without cost to us eternally to obtain, since He has for all eternity paid for it (Romans 3:23ff., Hebrews 9:12). Eternal praise instead of eternal haze (cf. Daniel 12), this is the summation of His kindness (Titus 2-3) which He has shown to man. Having with desire sought to bring about reconciliation with ALL, whether in heaven or on earth (Colossians 1:19ff.), He misses none who despite the deadness of heart and the disinclination of emotion, may be found by His love!
For the rest, heaven would be as hell, since they desire it not, and would remove it from their sight. They do not believe, and hence, as is common for those who reject reality, do not receive, for who receives what he does not even believe! and those who do receive, receive life eternally (I John 5:11-12, Ephesians 1:11, John 5:24, 11:25-26, 10:9,27-28, Job 19).
For His own, His praise is forever and forever, for eternally it is a thing of truth, in the WAY OF TRUTH.
THE APPLICATION I Peter 5:10
In view of this sharp contrast between night and light, death and hell and life and refreshing transmutation, it is well to contemplate, for each to consider where he or she is going, with whom and even why! Is it in the love of Christ that we are drawn ? This it must be (Matthew 22:37-40). As you may recall from Ephesians 5:8: “Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.” The WAY of truth is in the land of UPRIGHTNESS, empowered by the Spirit of God and laid in its foundation in the Son of God. We see more of this in Psalm 143:9-10:
“Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.”
ALL goodness is flowing like a stream in its peaceful swelling, truth like its waves, righteousness as its course.
Remember how God lamented over Israel because it had LACKED these things, as in Isaiah 49:17:
““Come near to Me, hear this:
‘I have not spoken in secret from the beginning;
From the time that it was, I was there.
And now the Lord God and His Spirit
Have sent Me.’ “
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
‘I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
‘Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.’ “
In the light of this Way of Truth, we read in I Peter 5:10:
“But now may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal
glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish,
strengthen and settle you.
To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
v the peculiar path of the pardoned,
v the righteous way of the redeemed,
v the gracious way of the enabled,
v the noble path from the enoblement that comes from Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
In Him and thus in this, you do NOT have the “never see the light” (49:20) prospect; but you DO have until He comes, the sufferings of restraint, restoration into a spiritual format so that you are able to love God heartily, and seek good passionately; and as you endure the tests, so you gain the triumphs (I Peter 1:5-7), leading to settled character and strength of heart. This is far from perfection now, and so may need correction (like an altimeter that gets stuck); but there is beauty in the holy harassments that purify, and reality in the cleansing, keeping, shaping work of the Lord (Hebrews 12, II Corinthians 3:18), which works once you are redeemed: and it is GOD who does the redemption, to which repentance points and atonement invites. Walking in the light goes beyond mirrors, to life in the presence of Majesty! Not glitter, not glamour but goodness and life in the eternity of God’s knowledge, while power and peace supervenes all for those resting in Spirit, grounded in grace and active in faith: you glory in the Cross of Christ and take up your own (Galatians 6:14, Luke 14:27ff.).