AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH January 31, 2010
Continuing the work of the Australian Presbyterian Union (1901), following the
without Compromise and the Bible without Qualification, by Faith
SINCERITY AND SPIRITUAL SAVOUR
I Peter 1:2, II Corinthians 2:14, with reference to Isaiah 59:19, Philippians 1:21
SAVED THROUGH WHAT, IN WHAT, FOR WHAT ? I Peter 1:2
In I Peter 1:2, we read that the Church is composed, in its convinced and convicted members, of pilgrims, sojourners, people who so far from wishing to inhabit this world, if possible forever, that they do not even inhabit it NOW for its own sake or theirs.
On the contrary their status, place in pilgrimage, meaning in life is this: that according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father, they are elect, that is chosen, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.
KNOWLEDGE in truth precedes, God's own knowledge who would have all to be saved, reconciled, come to a knowledge of the truth, but whose love is neither possessive nor obsessive, but hearty, true and genuine. That established, so that the souls who may be saved in terms of God's own purity of love and grace of desire, all others being themselves wholly responsible for the omission, are saved, what do we find ? It is this. They are saved IN SANCTIFICATION of the Spirit. That is their function. Status ? Chosen by the Father. Operational specifications ? It is "in sanctification of the Spirit." That is their medium, their functional reality. Here, if one may have a comparison, is the water in the radiator, the oil in the engine, the oversight of the action.
They are not chosen in flight for the fight. They are chosen in sanctification of the Spirit. HE may indeed raise up a standard when it is the enemy who comes in like a flood (as in Isaiah 59:16-19), where this is in the area, the arena of ultimate conflict; but it is THE SPIRIT who raises up a standard against him. We fight; it is He however who inspires, enables, enacts, stirs as in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah through the prophets Zechariah and Haggai. It is not a lumpy, bumpy, grumpy army that HE leads, for these walk in the Spirit (Romans 5, Galatians 5). They are far from perfect, but this is their dynamic, here is their directive, their containing housing, housekeeping dynamic and illumination. Paul accordingly wants people who are Christ's to ensure that they are sanctified WHOLLY, in mind, soul and spirit (I Thess. 5:23). Christians are not made so that they operate on one engine. There is a totality of power, cohesion. As David puts it, Unite my heart to fear Your name! (Psalm 86:11).
FALLS are followed at once by REPENTANCE (as in Psalm 51, Luke 22:61-62).
But then ? Not only are they chosen by the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit (just as fish are chosen to move in the waters they inhabit, their medium), but as to this choice, in this ample and liberal, and endowing grace, the Spirit of God, it has a purpose. This follows in I Peter 1:2.
What is this purpose ? It is for OBEDIENCE and SPRINKLING of the blood of Jesus Christ.
I once had a horse, a lovely fellow even if a little cranky at times; for he had a good heart, a willing and even eager foot, liked as I did, to sail like the wind. He would (usually) obey me, and together we had I think, quite a great time. When he galloped it was so even that you hardly felt the movement, except of the air in your face and the trees and surrounds as they leapt backwards. Great as our times were, he DID (again, usually) obey me. With this, riding had meaning and his gifts and mine could work in a glorious symphony.
WE who are Christians are chosen by God in sanctification of the Spirit for OBEDIENCE TO the Lord, which is not an imposition, but an exposition. In this, you learn, like a student or laboratory assistant, what great things He does, and find the fellowship of agreement, the companionship of concurrence. Not we, but He will specify WHERE we will live or work, or at what, or our morals or methods. His Spirit leads, His word directs. While there is vast room in mankind for creative intelligence, it is not a matter of intelligence to find what God wants you to do, but of obedience as faith, by which you know Him, works in you and He through faith directs you. But IF, and indeed alas, when, we slip here either in impatience, or pride, or folly of some kind (it can never become a practice as in I John 3:9, we learn, but it CAN be an event, attitude or failure of many kinds), then there is room for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ, our barrister.
To be sure, it is once shed (Hebrews 9), once only, but this blood reference MEANS that we are enhanced, advanced, acquitted by our lawyer, because HE has paid the price of sin already, and it is an ETERNAL REDEMPTION, hence one covering all "expenses" en route. Indeed, this cover is instituted at birth (in this setting, that means rebirth), in its character is complete cover; and with it is the discipline, if need be the chastising, not to regain pardon, but to ensure purity.
SAVED with SAVOUR
Purity ? Blood poisoning is an example of impurity; and clouding of certain solutions, on testing, is another. Evil thoughts accepted is a third, want of faithfulness is a fourth, slackness of heart about one's acknowledged duty is a fifth, failure to acknowledge duty is a self-centred way of being impure, purely taking, not responding, like a dead appliance, made with directed energy, often using it, never responding: this is a sixth. But what, you may ask, if the appliance had a will ? and a mouth ? Then it might speak, and indeed, on the way to the tip, we might converse with it. What does it say ?
Do not think that I appreciate my life. To be sure, I can perform, but perform I will, no more. I prefer this quietus, this quiet rest, and see no reason why I should serve anyone or anything but myself. I will let you know if I ever feel otherwise.
Has your equipment failed you ?
No! it says. I despise it.
Do you not see the virtue and value of your images, which you cast so that all can see ?
No, I don't really. To be sure, they are helpful to many, reduce pain and increase knowledge, but I just really do not feel it in me, any more to do this.
But, one might pursue, What then is the good of you ? Oh, it might respond, I enjoy myself, and the inertness of being big and bulky, and just doing nothing has a certain perverse appeal. Anyway, why SHOULD I serve. I was not consulted before being made!
Why indeed! If you do not want to live, why not die ? If you find the way to death pleasant, why not enjoy it, for after all, garbage in your field is made up precisely of what is useless, consuming without producing, for whatever reason.
You sound harsh, it replies, for where is there love in that ?
I did not know you loved!
I don't, except myself. I am then not totally devoid of it.
But do you EVEN love yourself ? What you can do, you won't do, so rendering all your values null.
I myself have a value, because I value myself.
Any reason for that ?
Yes, I think I am great.
Yet you do nothing.
Oh yes, I do: I enjoy myself.
You enjoy being useful only to yourself, and that not in terms of power, function or service, merely in terms of a feeling.
The feeling is great.
How does that make you great ?
It doesn't. I don't need anything to MAKE me great, I just AM great.
Why ? what are you good for ?
What sort of a self is that ?
A very vain and selfish one.
Why should you not be garbage ?
I love to deceive; but you have me there. At least I am very self-satisfied garbage.
Leaving our friends, the latter becoming like a Cheshire cat in reverse, more and more obvious, but then departing until only the grin is left, we see the more clearly that if one is a Christian, there is a certain savour (II Corinthians 2:14), not a stench. There is a free love of God, and not of one's self. HE does the loving of oneself; it is to Him and His will that our created love directs itself with great reason. He made us, saved us from spoliage and has given us a life that does not end, where mercy and pity and truth and service and abundance of love moves like the mist on a quiet morning, the sun dappling the lawns in Summer, casting welcome shade through the trees, like streams in the meadows, the song of larks in the Spring.
Paul declares this:
"Now thanks be to God who always
leads us in triumph in Christ
Thus we find this too "For me to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21), and again, he reveals that he would rather "remain in the flesh," because "it is more needful for you."
Thus the FIRST command, to love God with ALL one's heart, mind and soul is felt, and the second, to love one's neighbour as oneself, is evidenced. It is not just a matter of words, but of living, just as an appliance is not just a matter of what the specifications are, but of what happens when it works, if ever, in the way specified. If a toaster, for example, did not toast, but sang like a lark, that might be a lark, but it would be useless for its supposed place.
What then if an alleged Christian cannot be bothered enjoying anything but what appeals to his inner man, his private desire, leaving out Christ ? Then it is either a kind of a temporary jolt into Jonah mode and mood, to be dispersed by the light of the Lord, or else a signal that this is no Christian, but a person of his or her own plans, preferences, and these are self-centred and self-willed. God, if given any place, is to SERVE the self, which being sovereign, would like the Lord as a lackey.
It is not only persons who make this hideous mistake, imagining that they are good and right, when in fact they serve only themselves, cut off from morals by their own psychological skin, several inches thick: it is nations.
NATIONAL TAINT and PERSONAL CHALLENGE
Australia has long emitted spiritual stench and not savour, in its blighting hypnotism, which it conveys to children, in teaching fanciful tales about what is never seen, organic evolution, with no testimony but hope. It falls from what made it great, in Christ, to empty-headed musings and stringent discipline to ensure conformity in educational places. But consider the US, for which one's heart burns. In Bush's day, so far from having a presidential purity in which HE PERSONALLY always made it clear that for his part, NO OTHER NAME but that of Christ would mean anything to Him, for the knowledge of God, he praised the Moslem heresy (which has another Jesus which it invented to serve its purposes). Of course Obama was in the same line, calling the Koran, which with all the other sects rejects the God-given redemptive purpose of Christ, and His deity, 'holy', though it is wholly amiss.
Now the USA, we read in The Australian and The Advertiser over the past week, is moving to strange action. It seeks to remove a certain series of letters from the highly advanced gun-sights which it has used for decades, which is inscribed on them. It is simply a reference in brief form, such as jhn 3:16, or something rather like that, to a biblical verse. Though it STATES nothing to the point, it had not been considered in all those years, yet now it is to be removed, or that is the latest statement read! Why ? It might give Moslems the thought that the war in Afghanistan was a Christian crusade.
That, it is ridiculous: Christ declared that His servants were not physically to fight for Him (Matthew 26), rebuking Peter who began to do so, and gave the principle:
"If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight...
- John 18:36.
It is enough to cite the principle, if the matter is raised. That would be good because it is in complete contrast to the Islamic terrorist movement, which invades, just as Muhammad himself invaded Mecca with military force.
If ever a nation asked for DIVORCE from the Lord as sovereign deliverer! A coded signal on gun-sights ? REMOVE! Righteousness exalts a nation, and just as the removal of the Lord's prayer from public places was one excursion into theological nihilism, disregarding God entirely, and cultural invasion, by anti-religious tyranny worked in the removal of any testimony to creation in the schools' science courses, is another, parallel to the tyranny in Australia, replacing science with impulsive myth, so does the USA, so generous and pitiful after World War II, abase itself. In one way it serves us:
Do not efface Christ and His word in your life, but LIVE, so that you can say,
For me to LIVE IS CHRIST!