AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH February 10, 17, 2013
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
THE GLORY OF THE GOSPEL
Paul wishes to make known the
riches of the glory of the gospel,
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. The cross is the centre, the riches result.
The basis is blood, the
love, the necessity is justice,
the mode is mercy, but this done, there is enrichment in this,
that Christ is IN you (as a
branch in the vine), a deposit through the Spirit,
with its seal (Ephesians 1:5) attesting eternal life (Romans 8:16).
I) ITS PRODUCTS 1:1-14
In his salutation, Paul makes it clear that faithful brethren are saints. They are not manufactured on earth, but designated from heaven with each conversion (I John 3, 5, II Cor. 1:1, Ephesians 1:1). In addressing the Church, Paul speaks to the saints.
Their faith and mutual love are reported, flowing from their hope in the testimony and the Testifier, lodged in heaven (Colossians 1:5, 3:1-2, Acts 3:19ff., Hebrews 6:19-20). Seeing their fruit, Paul prays for them, for a rich revelation of the will of God to them, enabling a full conformity to His desire in all things, as in character they are strengthened with power divine, enabling "all patience and longsuffering with joy."
Qualified to partake of the inheritance of the saints, in light (Col. 1:12), being conveyed from the power of darkness to love in the light (Col. 1:13), a kingdom of the Son of God, these have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14). These are all MEASURED TERMS. They are most productive for the believers, citizens of His kingdom, foci of grace.
2) ITS PRODUCER 1:15-18
OWING to His being the image of the invisible God, crafted into flesh for the saving purpose, THEREFORE though born relatively late in history, He has the status of the first-born. As to birth, forever He has proceeded from the Father (Micah 5:1-3, Hebrews 7:16, John 1:1), at last into flesh that He might be the forerunner of many brethren, saved by His blood (Hebrews 2:14-17). Colossians 1:16 gives the reason for His startling status, namely His yet more startling function as the creator of all things. Of course, if He had been created, then HE COULD NOT BE the Creator of all things. He is the eternal God, the word.
Not only so, He is the creator of what is on earth, to be sure, but also of the entire paraphernalia and persons outside deity in heaven, no matter whether these personages and powers are visible or invisible, domains and dominions all derivative from HIS creative activity. Such is the Person of our Saviour; and indeed, GOD ONLY IS SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43:10-11), and the only name given in this connection under heaven, is that of Christ (Acts 4:11-12), who performed this, executive and king.
Nor is even this all. These things through the loving grace of the Father are created FOR Him (Col. 1:16). Indeed, the power to consist, as with man, body, mind and spirit in one unit, or in atoms and molecules as such, waves and particles in their structured poly-potential and fascinating interchange, atomic power liberally held within, brilliant DNA devices: all are His product.
As to the redeemed, if they are the body as in Romans 12, then Christ is the head, as echoed in Isaiah 55:4. The identity crisis of 1960s fame was the result of ignoring the 'head' as if an aircraft came complete with upkeep manual and programmatics, and one had no idea who made it or why. This is the precise opposite of the case, and wilful removal of the biblical necessities, showing the power of the Creator in action, and the personally inescapable realities of Jesus Christ, means simply a devastating vacuum, or identity crisis, even for the nations, divisive and dividing, with endless seeming false prophets and the like as forecast by Christ (Matthew 24:24 and Jeremiah 23:18-21). God has it all covered, just as He has not only the plan but the performance for the cover for sin.
Christ is the irreducible Producer: to ignore it is to dance to irrationalism, and to commit psychic suicide for the race.
3) ITS PANORAMA 1:19-23
Here we see that God would have ALL in heaven and in earth to be reconciled to Himself. Vain are the words of philosophical theologians, like Calvin, on this point, for such shroud in a forlorn mist of uncertainty, why God is choosing some, and why not others. IF this is left merely mysterious, then it is contrary to what He would have, wishes to have (Col. 1:20), but will not take by force, this, both the amplitude and the liberty, being in accord with His very nature. The reason why the Lord so appeals in Isaiah 1, for their change, is that they do not HAVE TO do so (cf. Isaiah 1:16-19).
The reason why He so often would have gathered the people of Jerusalem in His generation, like a hen her chickens (tender, natural, necessary - as in Matthew 23:37) is the same: He would like them all to come. No mystery is in Him in this matter, but the one which counts invasively is "the mystery of iniquity" which grapping sinful man, unrepentant and inventive, works away for denudation, deceit and then intimidation of the human race (II Thessalonians 2). Like a virus, it infiltrates, seizes control and then uses the very matrix of man to trick him!
Vast as is the scope of the love of God as He surveys mankind as an overall unit, as in John 3:16-17, for He did not come to condemn the world but to save it, yet truth does not compromise, but adorns love like a vast sapphire, glinting, gleaming and radiant. Thus there is a cut-off. The peace with God is not for around-the-world pundits of philosophy (Colossians 2:8) or religion transients; it is for truth, and hence repentance is needed before trust is complete. So we learn from Col. 1:22-23.
Behold therefore the goodness and the severity of God. Truth is always severe, for it can yield in NOTHING! But when truth is that God is love (I John 4:7-8), then you have the double traction: the love of truth and the truth of love.
4) ITS PROFUNDITY 1:24-29
The Three Mysteries in One
In Colossians, Paul does refer to a mystery which HAS BEEN hidden from ages and generations, and it is Christ in you, the hope of glory (1:27). Likewise Paul refers to such a mystery in terms of fellowship, Jew and Gentile, in Ephesians 3:3-7 and of crucial information, in Romans 16:25. First, note that in Romans, the prophetic scriptures also made known something of the Gospel and the preaching of Christ, but we understand that this was not to the fulness now made known in the matter of Christ in you, the hope of glory and its riches. Of course even that may be dimly exhibited before, but as in Ephesians 3, not AS it is now made known. As in Romans the prophetic scriptures have been one source of eminent knowledge concerning the Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ (marked (3) below..
The Startling Wonder of the Totality now Made Clear
In all three of these former 'mysteries' or deep and imbued knowledge from God's own word in the New Testament, written and living, there is a revelation which alone COULD and actually DID show the staggering step He took. As above, Romans, Colossians and Ephesians present these three. How great are "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8) who being sent, came, and having come finished the work willingly (Hebrews 9:12). As of God the trinity, He made the worlds, came into them as one amid them, did not limit Himself to harassing sin, but took its guilt upon Himself in offer (I John 2:1-2, I Timothy 2:6); and for all who so received Him in actuality (Isaiah 53:1-5). Indeed, to those healed by "His stripes" (metonymy), He granted the peace of reconciliation with Himself. For those who did not receive the offer, whether in the New or the Old Testament, there has never been either redemption or relief (cf. Deuteronomy 29:14-20), but the uninterrupted curse on the wilfully averse to the offer (John 3:36).
God is already averse to sin and neither double-dealing nor double-mindedness achieve aught but ruin to the relationship with God: all that might have been is as a zero breeding debt.
Stark Options are Utterly Unmysterious
There is of solutions, but one, of truth, but one, for sin's snarl, guilt and guile, as of the redemptive offer, but One; just as there is, of Saviour but one, He providing eternal relief of mind or spirit, as one source. The earth is littered with the failure of every other imagined option.
1) Nature (Romans 1:17ff.) shrieks for its Maker and is lost without it.
2) Sin demands an answer, and man is lost without it.
3) God provided the answer, and it did not deny anything, but covered all the facts.
Man tries to prop up nature and himself by idols that never stand. God holds up both nature and man, and His own word, by power, and these stand (cf. Jeremiah 23, Matthew 5:17-2-0, Hebrews 1:1-3, 11:1-3, cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, The gods of naturalism have no go!).
God met the whole bolus of belligerence from man, with diligence and dynamic. Before however we pursue this point, let us examine the first point listed above, further.
It is not only the ludicrous considerations of physical nature, with its vain endeavour to make matter, born of nothing or of begging the question, in either way irrationally inserted, beget mind, act as its source: the one analysable, the other the analyst. Nor is it just that both may be construed as having come from 'nature' which has to make itself before it is there to do it, since mere assumption in logic, being causeless in concept, is irrational (cf. SMR Chs. 3 and 5). Such miserable monuments of sliding from causation into callowness have adequately been considered as in the above listed works.
There is HUMAN nature also in its working to consider. This also is treated in SMR Ch. 3, but let us look at some topical elements here. In Australia, an Anti-Discrimination Bill is big news, and its meanders into might have been heavily assaulted by numerous writers, some eminently placed, as noted. With a sleight-of-hand movement from the Preamble to the Constitution which speaks of reliance on God Almighty, in this Bill, which has raised such a clamour with thousands of responses reported, we find ourselves immersed in neo-morals, which one politician described as a fine indication of how people are to behave. It becomes an Ideal Bill, a Moral Mouth, a Thrill of Bites, with heavy consignments to those who fail on such stringent points as managing to insult or offend someone, where guilt is to be assumed, after the matter is received, and innocence in the face of this, a thing to be proven.
Churches are granted certain exemptions as has been explained, but our present point is that this is a problem with human nature, taken for granted as a set of conditionable qualities, ready for the Religion of the State to announce, as it ravishes religion with its concepts, laws and penalties. It has already been urged that for such a make-over, a referendum would have to be held, so that instead of being BARRED from establishment of any religion, the Commonwealth can bathe in it*1, and rule religion. That is a first condition. Indeed, in any re-writing of the Constitution, which is also in due course in view, it would have to be honestly put that not only is this so, but the insistence that any one race has certain provisions before the law not given to others, being discriminatory, divisive and patronising, as well as unjust and ultimately a religious matter of the concept of what the human race really IS, would have to be considered in its national and historic context. Removal of God, or insertion of race with special preference in matters of justice, would alike need informed debate, referendum and vote if the matter is pushed.
This should be retrospective for any errors already made in this respect, in prior legislation. The Bible does indeed say, Blessed are the merciful! but it does not say, Blessed are the unjust!
These aspects merely emphasise the degree of control in a religious field, which is being usurped in a proposed Commonwealth Bill, coming up for action NOW. The point is this: WHY is there such uproar and outrage from eminent figures in law and elsewhere ? WHY is there such horror and amazement at the effrontery or transmutation involved, or such call to challenge at all levels, such an abasement of Australian citizens ? Why does it MATTER ? To be sure it would matter if you were fined a few thousand, given a guilt finding with the opposition funded when you might not be, by the Government. It might even be a tad troublesome to have, no, not a priest, but some official who would force a meeting between you (assumed guilty so far) and your verbal assailant (that is, the one claiming to have been hurt or offended or insulted and so forth), and to have to endure instruction on morals as a wrong-doer for some meetings.
However the criticism, though touching in this area, is nothing less than a matter of JUSTICE, of workability, of intrusion, of the dagger into the heart of freedom, not only with needless moral nannying, but with gross under-qualification for such tasks. Who is the one to determine such issues of morals and motives and what was and what was not said, and reasons for offence, and whether it is legitimate, and if so by what moral law, or not, and whether on the whole you are an acceptable type of human being or ... Or what ? Why whether perhaps you need re-education, as they have in China. Perhaps, as in the new China, there would be a new Australia, where practical expression of remorse might be required, in practical needs to show the chastening effects of the Humanistic Religion, unholy and hapless, inhuman and totalitarian, a social dictator based on the baseless.
As man tries to institute his inane, empty and vacuous visions, where reason departs, presumption rules and arrogance has its nexus, there is never peace. The USSR in some respects became a magnified thuggery, millions killed, the work of centuries deleted with a bullet, conformists given luxury, the least given power, the Reductionist Royalty sovereign in their godless forts. The "god of forces" of which the Bible speaks, certainly had a heyday, as with Hitler and Mao alike, racist or irrational, on the same basis, moving where NO TRUTH could be found, in a system which systematically lacks it. Instead, though wilfully lost, it is ostensibly yet spoken and applied like an atomic bomb. With Hitler, it was a racial vision, based on assessment: one mind over history, no rational ground, with EXALTATION the rationale.
Whatever 'nature' man tries to irrationalise into dictatorship, whatever 'dream' of what are manifestly false prophets, is taken seriously, leads on to the nation ruined, mankind deeply distressed, the least using power as if a peacock were to imagine it were a lion. It is all one. It does not have a logical basis, an ethical foundation, a rational reality; and it does not work. It may catapult a people (like Germany under Hitler), into the misery of ruin after greatness. It may ooze the blood of the young into the ground on both sides, as in trench warfare. But it does not work. There is revenge, there is horror, there is cynicism (cf. SMR Ch. 3), and there is moral squalor and rat-race rationales come into such force (based on nothing but desire to survive for some unknown reason), so that LYING can become a METHOD in politics and misuse of language, as in Australian Parliament recently, a seductive stab in the air, which however is ready to land on a victim.
How ludicrous that a law not to murder might be made, when the lawgivers, with their solemn faces and legal force, murder freely! Where is that ? you ask. It is only an analogy. Suppose it ? such hypocrisy ? so you might aver. Suppose now a Parliament, not passing such a murder law, but an insult law, and then displaying insulting freely in its own midst, without effectual rebuke, reprimand or much visible restraint: is the case any better ? It is almost as if the law in itself recognised that ACTUAL PEOPLE may SEEM to insult and intimidate to those who do not like what they say, that is outside the Commonwealth Parliament, rated to be immune; and so these are then given a legal weapon to defend their errors, in some cases, or avenge their pride, in others, for example. Truth is fallen in contempt. It grows all too reminiscent of Isaiah 59:9-15, describing a time leading on towards the return of the Lord (Isaiah 59:21). Such a state of affairs neither does nor could work, and it declares itself in confusion and corruption.
We have been considering the list below, and this has been a recent, relevant look in recent history and in Australia in particular at 'nature'. This, whether material, or immaterial, visible or invisible (like a vision of purpose), whether personal or particulate, shrieks for its Maker. Much more may be found in The gods of naturalism have no go! in Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 3, The Wisdom and Wit of the Word of God ... Ch. 2, as in SMR Ch. 4. and in its extension.
1) Nature (Romans 1:17ff.) shrieks for its Maker and is lost without it.
2) Sin demands an answer, and man is lost without it.
3) God provided the answer, and it did not deny anything, but covered all the facts.
TAKE NOW POINT 2) above.
2) Sin, we note, similarly demands an answer. Whether it be arrogance and the reactions, dishonesty and its appalled response, untruth and its vain endeavours to deceive, rejected with horror, slaughter of facts, ignoring of evidence, mercilessness: the human spirit, not to say mind, is not at rest in this sort of quest. Sin demands an answer, and it is not to be found in 'nature', composing itself before it was there to do it, but in God, there always, lest nothing should always be all. If nothing were ever all, then it would of necessity by definition, be all for ever, meaning we are not here: which is simply not so. To be deceived, you HAVE to be there, and to be undeceived, you have to find the SOURCE of your nature, logically and if possible, in terms of instructions, wisdom, knowledge and identification of our right ways and correct procedures, of truth and of necessity, and why these things are so, and what in general are not.
The answer is not found in working around self-contradictory relativities, absolutely denying any absolute (but this your own). We come to 3).
3) Such a piece of work as man is not seeking for rational grounds for irrational reasons; and in seeking, he finds ONE ONLY source, with ONE ONLY BOOK, ONE ONLY validated and verified.In this, focussing on God incarnate and self-attesting, in Jesus Christ, you find in reason, the answer of revelation (as shown in SMR and noted in The Bright Light ... Chapter. 7, and It Bubbles ...Ch. 9, 1A).
In the Bible as in the historic record of Christ, indeed both as predicted and as performed, you find the answer to sin. But consider not only its effectuality, but its quality! This brings us to point 3, as listed above. What is it like ?
Not only did God meet all the facts, but in His pardoning performance, He met them in a peak of beauty, love, mercy, pardon and sacrifice, leaving none to inherit hell, but those who escape the net of His desire, His stated desire, His loving desire, clean of lust. Colossians makes this very clear. Nevertheless, He is ready to leave free of Himself, whoever prefers captivity, captivated by the solecism of naturalism, the blindness of unbelief, in whatever mode. Devoted to the salvation of the few who so receive Him, He achieves it at prodigious cost (Galatians 3,6:14). That is in full accord with the very nature of love. The offer is impassioned; the result of its rejection stirs love to the uttermost, as does the wonder of its acceptance. The issue is stark.
Suffering in the flesh, in order to make near the love of God for those to whom he proclaims truth (Colossians 1:24), Paul seeks to preach, warning every man, teaching in all wisdom, seeking the completion of man in his redeemed image, saved by that member of the Trinity sent to save, and to breach death. Returned to heaven (Acts 3:19-21), He waits (II Peter 3:9, Revelation 6:10-11) while all is tested, and all His own are found and gathered (Revelation 6:9-11), till He returns to rule in truth and power (Isaiah 59:21, Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Jude, Matthew 24:21-51, Philippians 3:20-21), majesty and compassion.
Truly Colossians 1 is filled with the theme of the glory of the Gospel, wrought through the glory of God working through the gore of God incarnate (Colossians 1:22, Acts 20:28), lingering upon it from the fair lips of the Lord (cf. Psalm 45, I Corinthians 2:9-13), confirmed in the grandeur of the irreversible resurrection which man, given a thousand years of notice as in Psalm 22, 16, could do nothing to derail. God always gets things done: the word and then the deed. There are no exceptions.