AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH August 22, 2010
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
SALVATION IN CHRIST JESUS - Romans 1:16-17
SALVATION IN CHRIST JESUS - Romans 1:16-17
In the last two weeks, we have been considering good things about the salvation of God in Christ Jesus, and then bad things that would warp or dismiss it, or daunt the children of God who have been brought into His kingdom by this salvation.
In particular, reference was made to the Maitreya of Islam and the Mehdi of Buddhism.
Let us consider this further from an event in last September.
A religious Parliament no less!
A Presbyterian Minister from the USA has arrived for a conference. Indeed, the Executive Director of the Parliament of the World's Religions, ready for the next meeting of the said body, is in Melbourne. This global "inter-faith" event was first held, we read, in Chicago in 1893, and now is convened on a five yearly basis. Lasting 6 days, it is expected to draw some 8000 people.
Scope is provided for those ranging from Dalai Lama to Native American tribal leaders. It includes those who "embrace any form of spirituality" - and with New Age, this is a spectrum almost as vast as the universe, in ideational scope, variety of concepts, new and old, miasma and martiality, models of force and favour, of grace and adventure. "Our work," he declares, "is to reduce the shadow side of religion, and the violence that accompanies it, and ... maximise the positive of religion to human relations."
The one point is good: violence in the name of any world religion is currently both unnecessary, dire and ready to damn this world, as well as damage it. That is, the powers of the religious-political pen and the nuclear sword are becoming correlatives, as Iran so eloquently exhibits. In fact, in terms of the force issue, it could scarcely be more obvious there. President Ahmadinejad is now abundantly using a well-known dogma of much of Islam, one of wide if not universal recognition in this field, and vastly esteemed by various branches of it, that of the Mahdi, evidently a special spiritual leader who is to rid the world of injustice, error and tyranny, and may come in company with Jesus (some differ), taking some 9 to 19 years to clear the mess. Arabs of course will gain whatever land is deemed their due in the process.
This has much in common with the Buddhist belief in Maitreya, sometimes rendered 'lovingkindness', or friendliness, a parallel figure, whereas the Mahdi idea relates to this being as "the guided one."
In the Maitreya case, the coming one is taken to be a bhodisvetta, of a special order or kind, who is supposed to gain complete enlightenment and teach pure dharma (or law, or justice, what is fitting). Various aspirants for such posts seem to appear, or are claimed to be close to appearing.
The Mahdi concept in Islam comes with Muhammad, into a religion which itself did not exist before that; and the Maitreya one appears in Buddhism with its 600 B.C. beginning, and is found in various references in that religion. Just as the Mahdi is a rather obvious take-off of Christ's Second Coming, the latter being founded on the One who has already demonstrated His power without attrition, is naturally the prime focus and empirical source for any such concept. In the Old Testament, however, there are other indications of just such a One, who was to be, as He came to be, Jesus Christ the Redeemer: and that not in some 'enlightenment' specialty, but as the One doing the paying for the redemption from the real results of sin, on the Cross of conviction, thereby quelling most just divine wrath, by vicarious sacrifice.
The presence of Jesus in some of the conceptions in the Islamic literature, merely emphasises this huge disjunction between Him and all fabrications, fancies and imaginations. Firstly, He always was the eternal word of God, was predicted in successive detail and scope, thematically, and in detail that was testable, and is, came not to be enlightened but as the Light of the World, demonstrated the power of God empirically and HENCE gained much of His followers, passed each severe test, for being deity is easy to exhibit or fail to exhibit, and showed a vast spirit of love in bearing the anguish and mockery which sin deserves, and He for man took.
However, to revert: In Psalm 2, 1000 B.C., centuries before either of the above religions began, you have in Psalm 2, 72, precisely this Being, who as a man has all the power and place of God, being the One in whom one MUST TRUST, whereas in 'man' one must NOT so trust (Jeremiah 17), a fact made even clearer in Isaiah 11 (where as a descendant of King David, as foretold, in the flesh side, He rules with power and majesty, dominion and peace), 22 (where His power is preceded by His anguish in bearing sin), 32 (where again He is seen as ruling King), 40 (where His coming is with tenderness as well as majesty), 42, with 49-55, where His salvation is seen in detail as to its substitutionary sacrifice for those who by faith receive Him as He really is (and not, as above, in some excrescential, incidental or mutative format cf. II Corinthians 11!).
Moreover, right from Genesis 3:15 there has been the divine promise that THROUGH MAN God could deliver from the superior spiritual power of the devil, of satan, whose overthrow would be accomplished with pain and bruising to the deliverer, and total judgment of satan's person.
In the case of Ahmadinejad, there is as shown in the testimony of Israel My Glory, September 2009, a commitment to this Mahdism so complete, that he conceives himself in direct contact with God, and is moving towards the coming to the point that the route for the appearance of the leader concerned, as he passes through the streets, has been determined, and that with access to this privilege information on the part of the President. Victory and accomplishment are all to come, and the Iranian politician is evidently working towards a perceived climax in world history of this type.
In this way, you see three things.
Firstly, two of the world's larger religions, encompassing some 2 billion or 14% of the estimated world population are looking for a CHRIST, a false one since it is not He who ALONE came to earth, showed the power and face of God and LIVED it with power and unassailable purity, on prophetic stop watch time, and with resurrection results which none could ever touch with reasoned argument to controvert, this also as prophesied.
THAT statistic fulfils clearly the Matthew 24:24 prediction that false christs would come, not only false prophets. Indeed even Israel some few years ago had an internal and noted 'messiah' of its own, though the works to attest the the truth in categorical order, as He did, never come, a legitimate scientific test, which Christ not only performed, but which He noted as HAVING been performed, asking them to believe Him for the works, if not more directly as in John 14. Not only so, but false prophets abound. Thus there is even a newly named WICCA movement, which is increasing, it is reported, at a major rate in the USA, the acronym standing for Witches and Pagans, as nature worshippers with the cliché mother earth high on the agenda. It is even reported that a Steve Wohlberg, in his book the Hour of the Witch, asserts that we are now in a turning point and that Wicca would emerge as the third largest faith in America and would directly challenge Christian ideals of church and state. While that may be hype, the fascination is understandable for three reasons.
Firstly, it is a sign and signal of the times that nature worship should move into high gear, as you read in Romans 1, of the characterisable decline of the human race, when it rejects the clear knowledge, found in numerous religions at their base, of God the Creator. It is like rasping breathing if you have bronchities. It is one of the things that occur for this spiritual disease. Secondly, 'mother nature' and 'nature strove to do' this or that has for so long in so many texts and treatises been either explicit or implied, in its vaguely illicit thought patterns, as if what cannot think devised things, a mere symptom of the missing God in their thought, that it is not surprising if now 'she' becomes an object of worship. Being evil as a human deviant devotion, the term 'witch' is used, and being confrontational with the actual owner of the universe, as the One who made its information and substance and gave it energy and a way to work, thus 'pagan' enters, and you have an educational institution where it is healthy to be acting in this way, a sign of a coming configuration to be welcomed.
Thirdly, however, it LACKS the power of God in Christ to salvation, and as a path to perdition, it becomes one of the many Vanity Fair preoccupations of those who refuse to surrender to God, and to find His ONE ONLY appointed way.
Thus there is a movement FROM Christianity in almost any imaginable violation to the truth, and a current political candidate for PM in this land is reportedly an atheist, while other leaders like Ahmadinejad can verbally blast Israel as a nation and announce the need to annihilate it, just as the Bible predicted for the intention of those who cannot stand the word of God, which is to the effect that vast will be the destruction of those who attempt it (as in Exekiel 38-39, Micah 7). The ultimate assault on the Lord, as in Revelation 19:19, will be quite direct, and these developments reflect the direness of the coming dynamic.
This leads us back to the third and last of our sub-topic headings concerning the SALVATION OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS, as we ponder Romans 1:16-17. The Gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation, and salvation is precisely what this world, in such turnings away as we have been considering, is found to be lacking. If it is conflict, or conflagration or confrontation or conquest or disaster or deadly weapons or horrid dictatorship, wild oppression or multi-million murders you want, then this world is your harbour. Turning from this lamentable licence, this folly that misuses freedom, an increasing flow of the devilries and disasters they produce, we remind ourselves that nothing has changed, only the roughness of the breathing of the spiritual bronchitis which is racking the very breath of this world.
As then to the HEALING and HELPING and REALISTIC and EFFECTUAL Gospel of the grace of God in Christ Jesus then, we remind ourselves of three things.
3. BASIC THINGS
1) The LORD requires it (Acts 4:12).
"Nor is there
salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven
given among men by which we must be saved."
Notice it is all exclusive of other names, and all inclusive of the whole sinful race of mankind, who need it.
2) Ditherers desire options outside it (Galatians 3, 5).
"O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you ?" ...
"This only would I learn from you: Did you receive
the Spirit by the works of the law,
or by the hearing of faith. Are you so foolish ?
Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh ?
Have you suffered so many things in vain!"
Cultures are craving new centres, not least that in the USA, and Europe is scarcely different as they move to remove religious reference from their proposed Constitution. They are going to GO FORWARD TOGETHER, BUT IN WHAT DIRECTION AND FOR WHAT PURPOSE IS NOT CLEAR! They are to have a 'common destiny' but grounds for considering it less than disaster are never to be found. In fact, their forwardness of spirit is a backwardness of direction, as if they confused their tail lights with their headlights, and went dizzily into reverse. They are in droves leaving that NAME which is irreplaceable, that of the DOER of salvation, and the SHOWER of it in His own Person, in that brilliantly tragic manner, which love chose, incarnation, restoration and ruin followed by resurrection, to pay for sins REPENTED OF, not for those now ruling in the heart of unbelief, fashioning its own glory amid murder and maelstroms of international furores, and private lusts.
You have to be FOUNDED or you will be CONFOUNDED; for there is no other name given among men, and this increasing concentration on FALSE CHRIST FIGURES, persons to COME, as in Buddhism and much of Islam, with its political trumpet in an Israel confronting Iran, is all part of the racking cough with which man is spitting out his only hope.
In our second scripture at this point, that in Galatians, we find one of the features of the disease of disfaith. It is happy with miracles, and is not sad about a new birth if it be emotional and dramatic and does not require discipline and just drops down ready to be moulded into anything one may happen to think of; but as to that new birth which brings you back to GOD in repentance and faith in HIS GOSPEL of Christ crucified, yea rather risen, that is another matter.
Paul deals here in Galatians with those who having been offered the free gift of grace in Jesus Christ for a salvation not to be repented of, are now trying to make themselves the source of their own salvation by what they do. While what you do expresses what you are, like a good or bad tree and its fruit, it does not PLANT YOU! It is a result of planting, and this world is adjured to put its trust in the FOUNDATION, or in botanical terms, in the God who having made it, plants it, giving salvation at cost, HIS cost, for reception by FAITH. Don't come as a sinner in repentance, and being born again, suddenly forget that it is WHAT GOD DID ONCE AND FOR ALL, that being received by faith, is the basis of your salvation.
Rest in His reality; labour in His grace; give praise for your place in His kingdom, inalienable, reserved in heaven for you (I Peter 1:5ff., Ephesians 1:11). Trust in God, not in flesh, or ideas, or philosophies or religions: in Christ who DID IT. REST in the Lord for salvation; WORK for the Lord in love.
Don't come as a sinner in repentance, and being born again, suddenly forget that it is WHAT GOD DID ONCE AND FOR ALL, that being received by faith, is the basis of your salvation. Rest in His reality; labour in His grace; give praise for your place in His kingdom, inalienable, at the last, reserved in heaven for you (I Peter 1:5ff., Ephesians 1:11).
Trust in God, not in flesh, or ideas, or philosophies or religions: in Christ who DID IT.
Thirdly, then note that ...
3) Disciples delight in it (Romans 1:16, I Peter 1:3-8).
"I am not ashamed of
the Gospel of Christ,
for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..."
Ashamed ? Peter puts it like this:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy
has begotten us again to a living hoe through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,
reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be,
you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith .. may be found ...
the revelation of Jesus Christ
whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him,
yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith,
the salvation of your souls."
This way is as narrow as the cross, as high as the truth, as deep as the mercy of God, surer than the universe, which looks towards disaster, but this to eternal life via the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the only One to perform, founding the only religion to be based on power, not of the sword, but of mind and heart and Spirit shown in love and healing, wisdom and fulfilment of the written word of God. RELY on Him. Next week we plan to look to Jeremiah 37 to consider the whole area of surrender, and to see the King Zedekiah in his power, refusing to surrender, leading on to the necessity to surrender to a very different power, than that of the God who gave him repeated opportunities, all of which he as if drunk, refused.
Praise the Lord for His goodness and His focus in faith on Christ, who DID IT, all required.