AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH December 26, 2010
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
WONDERFUL IS HIS NAME, AND WONDERFUL HE IS,
GRAND IS HIS COMING AND GREAT IS HIS SENDING
There is a limit to everything except what God makes otherwise. There is a first limit to all but God, since before He made it, it was not there. There is a limit on power in all made, for except He extend it, it frets itself out. There is no limit to what God unleashes, eternal life which though starting for man, ends for the believer, never; nor is there terminus to everlasting burning of the chaff, though time itself is as God makes it, and has the modes He assigns to it.
The ocean extends as if to infinity, so the skies; and this touches a chord in the human heart, for it is to the limitless his soul is attuned, and those who know God see in such things a symbol of His eternal grandeur, while those who still suffocate spiritually, avoiding the divine air of life, may feel the inner impulse and pull towards Him, moved to ponder what they are missing.
How simple was the babe, the incarnation, in its outcome. Here was God, not in the philosopher's notebook, in the carnal wrangling of deceased spirits, dead to God, rotten with unreason (Ephesians 4:17ff.,2:1-12), but in a womb, then in the air, then as to form and format, growing up until at maturity, there was the Messiah. So was fulfilled His mission as man to show God, not as if crushed by His new covering, flesh, but exhibited through it. This was unique in mode, marvellous in conception, both as to the gift to mankind, and in Him, the arrival of the divine parentage of this Eternal Word into a form where questions could be directly asked and answered, problems could be seen to be met, challenges overcome, character exhibited, eyes sated with miracles, hearts satisfied with meekness.
Thus no more could men well say, God is sovereign and He does what He pleases, without adding, God is love and it HAS pleased Him to place His body and format at man on the line, to cover anyone and everyone to whom His coming is acceptable, His love is a missive sent, His salvation is a wonder craved and found. There are no classes in the saints, as if some were irresistibly charming or good; they are sinners saved by grace or quasi-saints, not real at all. There are no categories with God, as far as the outreach of His love is concerned (Col. 1:19ff.), for whether in heaven or on earth, ALL THINGS are the object of His saving desire, as deep as the blood of Christ!
This is an army, in the kingdom of heaven, of remade persons, not qualified by mystery or desirability, but in the foreknowledge of God, as found of Him, who desires all, and saves where in His understanding, which is infinite, place is found for Him. HENCE what of those who reject the babe and His salvation, what of these ? Just as His gift is one with no addition of either man or church or word, this His salvation, found in Christ, in the Godhead only, is secure and sure. Altogether, always - though mediated by His word, ministered by Church - it lies in Himself the criterion, so that its omission, rejection, this has the wrath due to sin, abiding on the one whose way is to be such (John 3:36); for there is no other kingdom or place or face but His: for "it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," II Corinthians 4:6. There is no other Lord, Life Eternal (I John 1:1-4) or way for man.
Christmas day is past, that chosen time for commemoration of the greatest advent in history. The kingdom endures. It was announced in Micah 5, the Judge of Israel smitten, even on the cheek, by gross and outrageous outlawry, though it is He who in His second coming, as seen later in this very Chapter, will guard His people and in Micah 7, will deliver them. It is seen in Isaiah 7, where a momentous event of grand design and massive import, even as high as the heights and as deep as the depths, is shown in terms of a simple unmarried girl becoming mother of One to be called Immanuel, God with us; except it is not 'a girl' but THE YOUNG GIRL.
There is one chosen for the One who choses to occupy Himself with man in his sins. There is this historic marvel as spelled out through Isaiah, to an equivocating, vacillating King Ahaz. ASK anything to the uttermost of God in your dilemmas and disasters, the offer was made. ANYTHING. But He tempted God while pretending not to want to tempt Him. How many do just the same! They would not care or dare to seek to the pith of their problem and have God for Christ's sake resolve it by faith. They do not ACT IN FAITH.
Therefore though Ahaz lost out, the world was given anyway the gift above all, GOD WITH US, via a virgin, an almost incomprehensible marvel as shown to Ahaz, but not quite. After all, though such love is staggering, such divine initiative is compelling, such grace is overwhelming, such an event is unspeakably glorious, such a heart for such a start is inundatory with delight, yet there is nothing odd about having the One who first made man in His own image, come Himself into that image to do a work to restore fallen man to grace! It fits like clockwork, though it acts like a torrent of grace.
This, then, is the child to come, though the King Ahaz, offered just such soaring wonders, was deemed to be rejecting them, because of lack of faith (like jaws that open, but do not close on the food offered). It was not he who would find the babe in his day, nor indeed would the nation; and in fact it would even be after the King of Assyria had devoured the land: for in the future, long ahead, would this thing be! (Isaiah 7:17-25). As so often, in graphic prophetic writing, what is predicted is seen as if it had already happened, as if to say: "Yes, here it is, I see it, the mother has approached the child and it has died."
THE NAMES IN PAIRS
Micah 5 and Isaiah 7 in this way introduce, with vigour and drama, this incarnation of the only God only once in only one Being, the Messiah. This is not to say that there are not episodes in His coming - that is, His coming to save and NOT to condemn the world and His coming to rule and not to relinquish His people in this world, and His dismissal at last of this same world: but there is one God and one Messiah who is always the same (Hebrews 13:8) and thank God for that. Imagine if God ever changed: you would not know what was what and what was not, and which version would accomplish which! But God has made it exceedingly plain, and praise His name for this.
In Isaiah 9, now, God itemises things in a most straightforward manner. Glancing back to the grievous past for much in Israel - "then they look to the earth, and see trouble, darkness, gloom of anguish, and they will be driven into darkness," God declares an enormous change. Past things were complex with mercy dispensed and dismissed in unbelief, but coming things are to be grouped into one. What was dark, will be brilliant with light, says Isaiah 9, following on from the times of vast griefs.
Galilee is to be the divinely chosen place for illustrious episodes and power which is overwhelming in its contrast with the evils past (Isaiah 9:1-2). The nation has grown, but not its joy; yet there is to be a new race who will have abundant reason to rejoice. The greatest of all yokes is to go begging, and worst of oppressors is to cease its jurisdictional jibes, for there is coming One who will have all things that the heart could desire, in whom is such peace, that those who know Him will see an end of passing travails. Isaiah 50-55 shows how this is accomplished, in whom and when, the free gift to faith and the finale for condemnation in the Saviour, for the guilt of sin; but here in Isaiah 9, we find this.
It is the itemisation of His portent, of the nature of WHO HE IS who so comes for mankind in such kindness (as in Titus 2-3).
Here then is the text of Isaiah 9:6-7 as translated by Professor E. J. Young. Short lines are used for visual ease and impact.
"FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN, UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN,
AND THE GOVERNMENT IS UPON HIS SHOULDER,
AND HIS NAME IS CALLED
PRINCE OF PEACE.
"OF THE INCREASE OF THE GOVERNMENT AND OF PEACE
THERE IS NO END,
UPON THE THRONE OF DAVID AND UPON HIS KINGDOM
TO FOUND IT AND TO ESTABLISH IT IN JUDGMENT
AND IN RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM NOW AND FOREVER;
THE ZEAL OF THE lord OF HOSTS WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS."
Looking at Isaiah 9:6 with 9:7, we find that there is a Prince of Peace upon the throne of David, who is to have a kingdom which will both increase and not fail, nor will it end. In that it is here announced as to come, indeed with rule on the throne of David, so it is not other than that associated with the Child as His. It is the kingdom of heaven. Thus the Child to come is to have an eternal kingdom, and it is HIS name which makes that clear. It is not somebody else's name. We find looking back then, that there are in fact four pairs of terms, and 'prince of peace' is the last couple.
His name is this:
1) Wonderful counsellor;
2) mighty God,
3) everlasting Father;
4) Prince of Peace.
As the prince of peace, He has a name; and the rest of the combined pairs in their symmetry, are more of the revelation of who He is, the whole making a sort of trumpet blast of annunciation. Wonderful - that is the name of God as seen in the birth of Samson, predicted in Judges 13. It consistently refers to things beyond the natural power of man, and within the competence of God, to be or to do. In Isaiah 10, we find God as 'the mighty God' and so we have a record: the name of the child. This distinguishes Him, making Him notable and comprehensible in this: that wonder is the mark of Him as Counsellor, might is the signature of Him as God, everlastingness is the criterion of Him as Father, and peace is the thrust of Him as leader or prince.
The terms bind themselves together, as in mighty God, and cannot be torn apart or made to refer to anyone else. It is the CHILD's name, that of Him who is to have the kingdom which is to arrive and to increase, and the end of it shows the focus, just as does the beginning of it. What is the name of this remarkable being ? It is revelatory of who He is, and this is who: then the phrases come out with undoubted duality, rising to everlasting Father, to show in just the way Jesus did in John 14, that He who has seen Him HAS seen the Father.
There is nowhere higher to go, and as in Mighty God, there is none else to find. This door is integral to the house (John 10:9), and this prince is intrinsic to peace. The child's name is not what God the Father is setting Himself to think about, as if talking about Himself; but divinely known, it is here revealed, for it is not a nullity but a revelation, and it shows what the child is. His kingdom is not what God rules anyway, but what is the particular status of the sovereign child, the topic with such a fanfare of majesty.
THERE IS NO OTHER
Who else in all of human history has come and DONE all that is required to characterise God Himself, omniscient, omnipotent, set in flesh, incarnate for testing, available for questing thought and ingesting glorious reality, open to test in word and miraculous deed, able to be defenestrated at any time, if failing in anything! (cf. SMR Ch. 6). There is no competition. There is no option. To negate this is to bankrupt reason, initiate treason, savage truth. That is precisely why the Bible expressly is to be found stating that THIS is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men have loved darkness rather than light.
This world now cannot stand or withstand much longer the rampant evil temper, the inveterate hatreds that tamper with truth and ignore reality in order to vent themselves, like weaknesses, not in the surface of the earth, but in the human psyche, on trial and failing, spewing jealousy, vengeance, vindictiveness, pretension, pretence and offence, as if infinity were available for ill-will, and no limits were applicable to the bill for these vices.
It is not so, and the stress is beginning to show, as man grasps, grapples, plays, toys, frowns, laments, invents and exercises prodigies of anti-life antipathy, the one to the other. It is as foretold; it is as is meet; it is coming to a climax.
Christmas reminds us that it is wholly unnecessary; that the solution has long been sown, and is available for reaping; that this world can do what it wants, and ultimately pay in destruction; but that each individual must answer, like King Ahaz, for the love of darkness, shunting from and shunning faith in the irrevocable and indefeasible offer of God, and finding only a precipice for that act. Is it dark ? then seek the light. You do not have to imagine it, create it in yourself by illusion, or dream it up in delusion as is customary in the totalitarian monstrosities that strut this earth.
The resolution of man's problems is available; the reason for his plight is well stated (cf. Romans 5 and 8). It is a matter of profound relish, His provisions answering all challenge, alone capable of incapacitating all objection*1, and enabling all that is required of man, in mind, body and spirit. In a word, it is Jesus Christ, incarnate, crucified in the flesh, inviolate in spirit, unassailable in truth, the eternal word of God invested with humanity, providing the founded path to eternity, and with it, eternal life. In words, it is the Bible. In working, it is the Gospel (Galatians 1-3).
You DO have to receive it. But is that such an effort ?
Do you expect it to fly into your mouth and force open your jaw ? Eat abundantly of it.
THE KINGDOM AND ITS PEACE
If you seek counsel, He is the very WONDER of it; if you see God, He is the very strength of it; of you look for your heavenly Father, here is the very zenith of it, though coming of all things, to man to save Him. But that! it is precisely that which IS heavenly, and in coming to earth, it so exposes heaven itself. If you want peace, here is the PRINCE of it, not just the preacher.
No-one else is in mind, in view, now or forever. No New Age new-formed christ is in view, since this is the eternal and changeless God AS man: see for yourself as Christ told Philip! No repetitively sacrificed Christ is in view, since without the shedding of blood there is no remission, as Hebrews 9 tells us, and that was shed ONCE, in terms of the child's coming (John 1:29, Luke 2:29-35) as foreseen and heralded in this glorious way for His coming mission, and of His going, as finishing the work of travail, as man experiencing and breaking death like an airplane the sound barrier!
There in THIS SAME JESUS you will find peace, one which this world cannot even understand, for deity that has no outranking, and through this Son you come with boldness of access to the Father (Hebrews 4). The way alters not at all, is available without doubt, the bridge built, the highway made, the entry guaranteed. In HIM, you are already there! (Ephesians 2:18, II Corinthians 4:6, Colossians 2:9).
There is no other access (John 14:6), no other way, no other wisdom, no other insight, no other counsellor worth anything by him/herself, no other Almighty God, no other Father and no such peace!
Rest therefore in Him who was arrested, who arrested death, who broke through it with eternal life (Acts 2:24), and brought life and immortality to light (Titus 1:1-3); and seek for no other rest; for He has arrested like Paul, everyone of us who is a Christian, and called each one for a purpose. In the New Year, ensure you know this purpose, both scripturally and individually, as Colossians 1:9-12 makes so clear. What a prodigy of a gift it is, this Christ, who lives and invites and gives rest while we work, and works for us while we rest, constantly conforming us to His glorious image (II Cor. 3:18), through His Spirit living within each of His people (Colossians 1:27, Romans 8:9).
There is liberty (II Corinthians 3:17), to be sculpted by the God who first made us, then redeemed us, and now gives us to grow more and more like Him. Seek HIM forever.
For Reference ...
LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST
WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES
AND WHERE HE IS, DARKNESS DEPARTS
Bible or Blight,
Christ or Confusion:
The Comprehensive Resolution of Man's Intractable Problems
is Found Only in the Bible, the Word of God