AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH December 23, 2012
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
CHRISTMAS, A TIMELY REMINDER OF THE BEGINNING
AND A POINTER TO THE END
THE DAY and timely THOUGHT
In two more days, it is Christmas Day, a genuine possibility for the anniversary date of the birth of Christ. At all events, it is a memorial. It is not a little unusual. One does not usually have a period of some 2000 years, named for many nations, made to start with one's birthday. This however is a memorial of Christ's birthday. It concerns Him who is the beginning and the end. It tells us how long since He came. It does not tell us how long before His return, for just as His coming was dated in advance (more specifically His death date in Daniel 9:24-27), so His return date is deliberately left undated, leaving a challenge to live EACH day as if He were coming, as under His scrutiny.
First, He IS the beginning since He made the worlds, and indeed as John 1 tells us, there is nothing made that was made, that HE did not make. Everything fabricated, given identity, given even dependent existence on the creative might of God, was instituted by Him. That is one reason why He is called the First and the Last in Revelation 2:8. He is also the end since God has appointed Him Judge of all, and the day for it to be (Acts 17:31).
His coming is like the sun in this: that there is a point at which it is visible from this earth, there is one at which it departs from sight, as He did at the ascension, but there is no question of its going away, for it is merely lost from sight, and continues its course till when ? It is till its return in a dawn of some splendour. His dawn is to come, indeed it is more like a lightning which spreads from the East "and flashes to the West," Matthew 24:27. Then, "the powers of heaven will be shaken," 24:29.
So great is His accomplishment, indeed, and so much turns on Him from first to last, this same Lord Jesus Christ, that WHEN He comes to bring one home to heaven, and leave another as in 24:42-44, then there is resurrection of the body for His people also (Luke 24, I Corinthians 15), so that mortality is swallowed up in immortality. Thus the one whose heart, faith and salvation is in the Christ of the Bible, is through Him also to be like the sun which departs, perhaps for many in the red sorrows of affliction. Yet it is not just gone, merely screened from sight, and continuing with Him as in Revelation 7:15-17, and 21-22, till the great day of the resurrection at His coming.
THIS then, Christmas, is the day of a unique memorial to Him, 2012 meant as a register of the years since He came, and placarded in millions of places throughout the world, as such. Some may wish it were not there; many are trying to remove it, as this world becomes the unspeakable horror predicted (Revelation 6, 9, 13, 17, 19), in direct confrontation with Him, as is already happening in this country with the teaching of a spurious concept instead of creation, forcibly in the schools, as with the making of new morals in an Anti-Discrimination Bill which would tend to throttle free speech, till it becomes a mere cipher, a residue after people's innermost feelings have cut out what they find unattractive to the psyche. Here is the New Society which legislates freedom in terms of the IDOL of FEELING, to enable current culture to rule in the midst of what operate as ultimate ruling realities which are still tolerated. Hence it is one which, if legislated into existence, acts as a religion of what man must live by, and thus is clearly unconstitutional. The Commonwealth may institute no religion.
That however is merely one aspect in the wave of confrontational assault on the ways of the foundation of this country as called Australia, though it may encourage litigation for a multitude of reasons, in the Draft, apparently paid for as potential victims are legally assaulted!
Yet Christmas the anniversary remains. He whose birthday it is, is coming and it is near as Jerusalem back in Jewish hands attests categorically (Luke 21:24), and all the profile of concurrent events predicted to give an idea when His return is near
At this time, near the end, there is to be endeavour (Daniel 7:25), to "change times and law." We have already noted this, and the laws now tending to make it offensive and legally culpable to condemn what the Bible denounces, are already rank and objectively growing to the uttermost like the case of Sodom, noted in Holy Writ in Jude 6-7 in a way such as might put the Bible in prison, were it alive and vested in a person now, on this earth. It may yet have much the same result with Christians, if this wave of anti-Christ, that is contrary-to-Christ political push, putsch and propaganda continues.
Daniel 7:25 is already well on the way for its TIME.
Christmas ? how many more of these, whether calendar wise or rejoicing wise, will there be. A newspaper letter recently noted that some 60% were for a certain religious heritage to continue, and 40% were not for it. Thus there was a move to squash the desire of the 60% on the anti-democratic ground that the thing might offend the 40%, and thus had better STOP. Why, asked the correspondent, is the majority to be ignored ? Have they no feelings ? one might ask. Is the majority feeling of no account, whether hurt or fulfilled, ONLY if it is Christian ? Such was the direction of the letter. These are those times when the mark of the beast, that is the signal of surrender to heady Statism of a kind confrontational with Christ, is to come, and it speeds! Its trickeries are many, for deceptive subtlety is one of the marks found in the modes of confronting Christ foretold in the Bible (e.g. Matthew 24:24, Revelation 20:28).
It is a test, like a cricket test, and the more you ignore the bowling, the more foolish you will be; you need to STUDY the ways of the Christ-confronting end of the Age phenomena, and watch out for the devil's twisters, especially his twisting of truth, in the defiling arts of which he has such a dark and evil record. If it were possible, said Christ, the very ones chosen by God would be deceived also! ONLY God protects them from the muddle-mission of the evil one. Such is the word of the Lord in the Bible.
ONLY God ? It is infinitely sufficient, that! And look at the perspective to keep in heart, just as at the international level, the Second Front was kept in heart for Europe; but here, it is past already in the incarnation and salvation bought by Christ; it is the spreading throughout which follows, when the final break-through occurs, at Christ's return WITH those taken at His coming (Revelation 19). Mass movements, like movements of mass, are readily wrought by God, who started the exhibition for us all, in the creation of the entire universe with all its mass and energy, following with the mind and spirit for man.
Consider now II Timothy 1:8-9. "Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner," said Paul, but "share with me in the suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." That is His own glorious competence, who leaves no room for chance or change, but knows those who receive Him from before the universe was planted, before day of sin came, or its differentials blighted the human soul. God knows; and if you love Him and His word is in you, and you in Him, then there is no possibility of error: indeed as in John 5:24, you already have eternal life and have passed from a state of death to one of life, with no condemnation in view whatsoever!
That is not all. II Timothy 1:10 continues concerning His own purpose and grace and current salvation, that all this
"has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who has abolished death
and brought life and immortality to light
through the Gospel..."
I have never liked the disruptive despatch of death. It is grand to have immortality assigned not only as an ingredient of thought, or a focus of longing, as is natural to such as we are, who without Him, would develop so much and in so many things, allied to the thing eternal, only to be decommissioned suddenly. But the things which are eternal are non-temporal, they last and those who Christ has redeemed are among them, the very body prepared and ready as in II Corinthians 4:15-5:5.
The breach of the breacher, of death itself by the One who has led to so much, by "the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ," and all that He wrought, is magnificent, in itself leading to eternal praise and delight. He however has also brought LIFE to light. Immortality is of LIFE! Christ is the LIFE (John 14:6), and blessed those who know Him. You see its exuberant fulness as in John 10:10, for here is its Maker giving it its place as it ought to be, surely with many a test and trial, but with reality within and guarantee without (John 10:27-28). Beautiful is the character of Christ, for sinlessness, for authenticity, humility, grandeur in grace, modesty in power, goodness and perseverance, effectiveness and wonder, removing the scare of death and the scar of mortality in its derivation from sin, leading to immortality striking like the sun in its rising strength, this One never to depart.
For all who know Him, it resembles Israel's long longing for its homeland, as promised (Micah 7, Ezekiel 36-39, Genesis 17:7-8), now at last gained. For Christians however, it is far better, as it will be for those yet to be won in Israel at the spiritual level (as in Zechariah 12:10-13:1). Here is our EVERLASTING HOMELAND which WILL NOT PASS AWAY, as this world will and must do (Matthew 24:35). Thus with zeal and affection we await (Titus 2:13), "the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a special people..." In the Greek, this is "the appearing of the glory of the great God and saviour of us, Jesus Christ."
In other words, "the great God and Saviour" is one phrase, it is not the great God and the Saviour of us, but the great God and Saviour of us. Who He is, is both God and Saviour, as clear from Isaiah 43:10-011, where ONLY GOD is the Saviour, just as ONLY the name of Christ is given under heaven among men by which they must be saved (Acts 4:10-11).
It is the great God and Saviour who has come, His time memorialised uniquely in our dating system, and as in II Timothy 4:8, His coming moves to those who have loved His appearing, and their enlivening reward. But for the rest, as in a test, it is well to act. No paper presented is nil result, and the only acceptable paper is that supplied by Christ, through whom we have obtained an inheritance, who believe Him, in Him and receive His word (John 17, 1:1-14, 5:24, Ephesians 1:11). You are not in darkness, says Paul in I Thessalonians 5:5, so that you will not be OVERTAKEN by the day of the Lord, as by a thief at night. Imagine you are moving along in this world's night, and suddenly action is too swift for you, so that Christ comes and takes His own people with Him for the grand congregation as if of a marriage, and with them comes as in Revelation 19, Faithful and True. Then, there is nowhere to hide (as in Isaiah 2). It is like being overtaken as by a super-charged sports car, you are left behind.
What a day! what a memorial the date is! what a better memorial is His name, by His Spirit: so be strengthened in the inner person by His Spirit (Ephesians 3:16) and rejoice greatly.