AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH September 22, 2013
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
WHERE CHRIST IS, THERE IS GLORY
Part II, THE HEXAGONAL CRYSTAL CONCERNING DIVINITY
I TIMOTHY 3:16
Last Sunday, in Part I, we took the first five elements of this divinely inspired declaration concerning the Lord. God was MANIFEST IN THE FLESH (1), JUSTIFIED IN THE SPIRIT (2), SEEN BY ANGELS (3), PREACHED AMONG THE GENTILES (4), BELIEVED ON IN THE WORLD (5). Such is the vastly attested Majority Text. Today, we come to the last facet of that review. What is this last statement ? It is this.
God ... was RECEIVED UP IN GLORY. Notable at once is that the preposition for the third, fourth and fifth terms is the same on, in Greek en. He was seen, preached and believed on IN (or among, another translation of it), by those parts or parties: namely, angels, Gentiles and the world. In these three domains was His work done in a sort of machine gun coverage, always a witness, always at work; and He moved from the celestial to the terrestrial, the heavenly to the earthly, and in that, from part to whole.
Today our concern is with the next and remaining part of the hexagonal presentation: HE WAS RECEIVED UP IN GLORY (6). Just as He was manifest in those realms, so to His eternal status in glory, did the journeying and divine Messiah come; for as in John 17:1-3, He had glory always, so as in I Timothy 3:16, He returns to His eternal investiture, the Word of God, there from the first, glorious to the last; and indeed such is the message of Philippians 2:5-11, John 8:58.
His was a circuit of salvation, as He moved from glory to glory. Now, first for today, we come to this, His movement back from earth to the heaven which beyond all creation is His proper rest, repose and reality. What then of His return ? Note therefore in His going, first His Installation thrust from earth back to home: He is gone past creation to His abode in eternity. With this, His homecoming to heaven after working salvation, available for man in Acts 1, we hear almost in the same breath, the testimony of His Earthly Restoration to come! The work and its application move almost as one.
Thus we move, as in
the creation, so in His salvation for man (as in Titus 2-3), from a rapid work,
to a platform for its workout. In the former, wrought in 6 days (SMR,
TMR), it took several millenia from the
first, before Christ came, in history. So also was the case in the Gospel, for it too
wrought through a rapid Messianic ministry, has now had several millenia
for its proclamation, the movement this time, not to the flooding of the
earth with water, as in Genesis 6, but with Gospel (Matthew 24:14, 28:18ff.),
which now flows through
the interim before He comes again, like a river on course for the sea. As to that
flow, it is so far for some 2000 years:
having done all to save, now He is ready to judge (Acts 17:31), so covering the
outcome as we move towards the finale. Then last comes the consummation.
Let us trace these final features.
1 EXIT FROM EARTH TO RE-INSTALLATION IN HEAVEN, HAVING DONE ALL,
WITH RESTORATION TO EARTH, TO APPLY ALL
Acts 1:7-11 speaks of His leaving the odious follies of a murderous earth, having Himself been murdered, but this according to plan (as in I Corinthians 2:8, Isaiah 50-55). Having reached death, He breached it, taking the role of substitute for the sins of those who will by faith take what is offered and are redeemed. Then, erupting from the guilt assigned and the death confirmed, His was resurrection by the same power that created man and his world. It is as in Hebrews 7-10, and this being the categorical centre for man, in quest of life, it is like a two-edged sword, both to cut the bonds of many, and to judge more (as in Revelation 19-20).
First, He rose, not in levitation, as a mode in the flesh, but in disparity from gravity, out of the control laws that man faces; for all that man had to face, He had not only faced, but faced for man. Now, a person as forever before, He moves back to unrestricted personhood in the deity, from the mode of the creation for His adopted flesh, to that of Creator, for whom flesh is an invention of exquisite finesse, and a source for movement amid mankind, either to share with Him in His glory, or to jump to the mirthless anguish of contempt in hell, disdaining deliverance.
Murdered He arose, a 40 day testimony. Then rising now above the creation itself, He disappears into the initial target of a cloud, a new shroud, this time to hide the path of His going; but this is not without announcement. THIS JESUS, angels declare ... and then further define His being most carefully, namely not only this very one, not someone of the same name merely, nor having some likeness. This identical One, it is; and further, it is not someone of some claim or other, but this One who is TAKEN FROM YOU.
That's the One. He was with you; you knew Him; it is this One. Indeed, it is the One now being taken away from you: that is the Person in view, and to be kept in view. indeed, the One taken UP from you, not moved in some indefinable or vague manner, the One who in personal continuity has met not the guillotine but the cross as predicted, required and willingly received (cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), the very One who arose, who even now is to be seen departing this globe till the work done is applied throughout: it is THIS Jesus. It is HE whom you must await at the consummation. .
So far, confusion about the identity of the Saviour who came, who worked and redeemed; who departed having broken death, who taught for many days before departing to glory, is impossible; unless it be wilful, and hence a potential source of all but unspeakable judgment.
What then of Him, of THIS Jesus ? The message proceeds, He will come again. So, He came as a babe, He goes as a conqueror of the most fearful enemy of man, death, whether incidental or continuing, and in sovereign power will He come back. His evacuation is not for relief; but it is for developments, UNTIL the time comes for the revelation in unmistakable form, of the glory of God (as in Isaiah 11), the inward becoming outward, as in episodes before. As in the flood, the Exodus, the entry into Canaan, the testimony under King David, in Psalm and war, the sad stressed situation of His disobedient people (as in Isaiah 65:13-15), pending His return time (Micah 7) judgment, SO - HE WILL RETURN, as real as in the first coming, in an era as in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, after specifiable events. This, His coming again, is to be as clear-cut as in the departure, in the form as defined so unconfusably in text.
Not only so, but there are even specifications about the WAY, the manner, the nature of this, His return. It will be in a manner not only parallel to the way He left, but in a way LIKE IT. They SAW Him go. It was as a recognisable human being, who had exposed God in His very Being (John 14:9, 16:15, 5:19-23), who was VISIBLY, as in the going, to return, personally, as in the going, and recognisably, as in the going, so to come back. Confusion is excluded. Clarity rules, Definition shouts its message. Be not then deceived, as Christ warned (Matthew 24:24-28, Luke 21:8-9). "BE NOT DECEIVED," said Jesus, for "MANY WILL COME IN MY NAME... DO NOT GO AFTER THEM!"
Ludicrous impostors will come in great numbers, we find, some in some sort of inner room enticement (Matthew 24:26), as in the Romanist Mass - but it is not He, for He is not there, as was also the case on the Sunday in the tomb, for He is elsewhere; for when He does come, He intimates, it will be a vast impact on the earth, more universal than any asteroid, the whole earth like a house in a lightning flash, irrevocably aware of it; and it will mourn, in its self-made emptiness, as in Rev. 1:7, and "every eye will see Him," and all the "tribes of the earth will mourn." In the Great Depression, millionaires were reported to jump out of windows, having lost too much. Here, it is far worse, for that sort of fortune passes, and may come again; but this IS the coming again. Therefore do not follow other and lesser substitutes for the incomparable and defined Christ, in apparent grandeur or mere inner room pretension. WAIT FOR IT; IT WILL SURELY COME (Habakkuk 2:3).
Thus the SAME Jesus, in a SIMILAR manner will come again as seen to go, and the return is neither poetic, nor philosophic, nor in some unrecognisably different manner. It is personal, it is both recognisable and recognisably the very same One in the very manner of the return. So far is the return from causing doubt about who He is, that the very WAY of it is part of the identification to be given!
It is THIS Jesus in this total bundle of identification, not in a card, but in life and power and glory to which nothing outside deity can even begin to aspire. There is even a further word. It is not only the same Jesus whom they saw go, and whose coming is to be recognisable in view of this going, and who it was that went; but it was the One whom they saw GO INTO HEAVEN. It was, as with Elijah, when the young prophets wondered if in that prophet's going, he would be dropped down somewhere round about, NOT AT ALL merely a disappearance, but a triumphant one, beyond all the confines of earth, stringently clear, to heaven itself.
Thus the going of THIS JESUS; and its method, is inseparably connected to His royal, His regal, His ruling return (as in Revelation 19), which is sudden, categorical, confrontational in overthrow of bursting, rasping, grasping evil upon the earth.
That is the first part noted, of the last sector of I Timothy 3:16, that God was received up into glory, after the spiritual itinerary in fleshly format, declared. It covers His going: who it was who went, how it was He went and how that going is to be construed in terms of His return, and how indeed that relates definably as to mode, to His method of going, in the first place. There is a prelude for going, as to manner, applicable to the return. It does not matter how much more magnificence is to be found in His return, it must yet conform to this quality, of being recognisably His, that of THIS Jesus, not only in person, but in manner. Whatever differentiation in majesty comes, yet it MUST conform to this identity check, amid warnings not to be deceived. God does not speak in vain.
2 THE INTERIM between the two, AND THE OUTCOME
He has gone; His Spirit has come (as foretold, John 16:7, Luke 24:49); then He returns.
What of the interim ?
First, there is the STAYING PUT in glory as in Acts 3:19-22. He has been RECEIVED, WELCOMED into heaven, and there He remains UNTIL a certain stage of history is found. What is that stage on earth ? It is that of the restoration of all things. A refurbishing is to come. Some do not seem to like it; as if a house MUST never be cleansed, corrected and ruled aright, once it has been misused abominably.
That is one way; this one, the way of God is defined to be a case of entire restoration, regeneration. Just as souls have been regenerated in the interim, with the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the completion of the terms of the Gospel (Galatians 1, Hebrews 9-10), so the world is to be regenerated, They will in that time neither "hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," Isaiah 11:9, a situation almost as far from the present as it is possible to consider. Moreover, with the rest, it will be a time of the consummation of the return of Israel (this same Israel, indeed, as in Zechariah 12, who coming back, are still not converted till THAT time comes, following their return to their own place as in 12:6, 12:10).
TILL THEN (as someone might say, in leaving you on a journey, waving, and calling back, Till then, my dear friend, au revoir!) ... until then, there is no return!
This then reveals the DURATION of His going, when taken up into glory. Long was His first coming announced (as in Isaiah 48:15ff.), from trinitarian headquarters, and long would it be before His return (as Peter showed in I Peter 3:9). Patience would be needed.
3 THE CONSUMMATION
We learn of the testimony of His glory as in Rev. 5:9,11,13, and are reminded of the major wonder of His glory, the love to be found WITH majesty in it. The highest stoops to the lowest; past the pinnacle of height He comes to the deepest valley. Indeed, the valleys will be exalted (Isaiah 40:4). Let us not stumble in detail: the creation, the flood, the Exodus, the incarnation, the birthplace, the date for it (The Christian Prescription Ch. 2), all were to be as testably detailed. We are physically made in detail, of enormous precision (DNA), and no literary nonsense should be allowed to turn performance into poetry, or specifications deliberately set, into imagination's prey, whether it concern sin, salvation, restoration or judgment. It is not God but man who does not know what he is talking about, substituting his mini-mind in its confusions and presumption, for the mind of God, his word for His! It simply does not work, as you see in this world, to the uttermost.
What is this lowly stooping of this infinitude of glory which acts in announced ways and places, not in an imaginary cross, or resurrection or coming again, but AS ANNOUNCED! It is glorious. God always gives you clarity and fulfilment (Proverbs 8:8); but you must have faith in looking, in the reality you seek, and not fidget with what frankly are your own or somebody else's ideas.
Let God speak, and be done with it. There neither is, nor has been, nor could be anything comparable. Let HIS speech define itself; so follow it, all of it, knowing it will LEAD you where it is intended you should reach, not simply providing raw material for your own ideas (Habakkuk 2:16, Proverbs 30:6). Thus it is HE HIMSELF who actually beckons to man, pleads and exhorts: as in Proverbs 1, so in Rev. 3:20. To be sure, He has foreknown all and predestined all, but IN so doing, He has acted as He IS (as in Luke 19:42ff., Ezekiel 33:11), and as He states (Colossians 3:19ff.), and He is not ashamed to take the suitor's role, as so often before (as in Jeremiah 17, 38:14-18, 13:15-17). After all, the Church is seen as a bride (Ephesians 5, Revelation 19:8), and marriage is a disclosure of something of the nature of His love, as shown in the former, not a pathway for violence or meaninglessness!
Moreover in the greatness of His glory, He is always the same (Psalm 102, Malachi 3:6, Habakkuk 3:6). The very wonder of the vast oceans seem an analogy of His majesty. Here is something that makes man look tiny, something vast and swelling with power and beauty; here is something that absorbs refuse, and remains clean; and indeed, even cleanses what remains! this amazing ocean. What beyond all prodigy is the God who made it, who came and went and will return in like manner, reserved in heaven till the time comes when the glory is unleashed into a fallen earth, prior to its terminus and replacement (II Peter 3).
Do not then inhibit the glory and grace of God, but rejoice in receiving it and in His word, His work and His ways. Rejoice with trembling, and indeed never forget HIS ways, while you rejoice, and so be blessed (Isaiah 64:5).