AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH November 7, 2010
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
THE DEITY, THE DISMISSAL AND THE DEBACLE,
THE DIVINE, THE DELIGHT AND THE DELIVERANCE:
WAITING, DISMISSAL ... These elements have been considered, but the latter has been so pungent and pointed, so sharp and unrelenting that it cannot yet be let go, but needs the more attention in this address, for which the title used is as above.
Last Sunday, in considering first waiting, and then dismissal of pity at the last, we contrasted the blessedness of waiting on the Lord and on His word, to do it because believing it, with the opposite, NOT waiting. This is the course Israel followed in precipitately abandoning their Messiah, Jesus Christ who as in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, is also the Christ for the world. Pity ? We considered this. In dismissing Christ in all His glory, Israel then, as this world now, is merely pitiless on itself, as on truth, mercy and viability. It is the lure of lordship without glory, fecklessness without faith, and the trap of the false shepherd to which such heartlessness brings straying and recklessly vulnerable man. What then did Jesus Christ do ? and what step did HE take during all this ?
Kings do not cry, but to God in their hearts, and God has made us priests and kings in Christ (Revelation 5:10); but they may lament with tears as did Christ Himself (Luke 19:42ff.), with that depth which only love can know, only its derogation with loss to its object can discern, as it experiences torture and travail for the lost, those wilfully so, entrapped, ensnared, misled, but willing to follow what is hollow, the sound of the voice which has lungs but no heart.
Christ did not cry to Pilate for mercy, yes, not even when Pilate angled things so that He could. Scourged unjustly, mocked calamitously with physical buffeting to add to the scorn, presented, Behold the Man! by the Governor, He had a short interlude. Don't you realise, Pilate queried, that in me lies the power to crucify or release you ? The tenor of his heart appeared to be this:
Is there no communication, terror, exposure, is there nothing that you want to do or say so that the result might be affected ? You see how far it has gone already, indeed in more ways than one you can feel it, indeed the blood already has begun its fateful course from those systematic physical assaults, which you have had to bear, from the thorns of mockery of your hated crown!
So far from making a plea in terms of this world and its so-called insights, which are a torment and not the truth, a series of ripples spreading across the lake of time, with no depths, for it is but an enlarged puddle, Christ let Pilate find the perspective needed, though he did not yield to it. YOU, He declared,
"could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."
Notice three things. Firstly, Pilate's power would not be LESSER if God had not accorded it to him for responsible use: it would not be there at all without a divine plan in the matter. Secondly, that power is not intrinsic, but dependent on God and His purposes. It is therefore not at all autonomous, but wholly accountable to God. It is not only Christ who is being (wrongly) judged, but the judge who dares USE as he will, this just claimed power to release or crucify! Thirdly, there IS sin in Pilate's use of power, but it is just that the traitor from the midst of Christ's own disciples, this turncoat, this nominalist, this two-tongued mouth, this two-faced countenance, has a yet greater sin.
Any plan for an entente between this world and its ways, and Christ and His majesty, as King not only of the Jews, but Ruler of the whole earth to come (Psalm 2), is doomed, it is abandoned, it is dismissed. No entreaty to Pilate is to be made, nor may the Christian make ... accommodation with this world, in ludicrous affairs of combination of unbelief and the Bible, as so many lecturers, teachers, schools and Principals seem, unprincipled, to do and to have done.
You can no more serve God and specious, unspiritual government when it tries to take over the Church, the beliefs of a Christian, than you can serve God and Mammon. That is the whole point of separation: you MUST put Christ first in ALL your ways, abandon all, forsake all for Him (Luke 14:27ff.). How obviously then, if this world and its ways and ideas and affairs invade the Church, you have but two options. By the reforming power of God, rid the Church of it, or leave it, which so grows to be no Church but an abandonment to folly, kinky, corrupted, slighting the majesty of the Lord (Romans 16:17, II Chronicles 19).
13) Pilate at this point became decided, if not decisive. He "sought" to release Christ. Fancy seeking to do something for which you are specifically empowered, with governmental power supplied from what was at that time the mightiest State on earth, in human terms! So do many try to excuse themselves in spiritual affairs: I HAD to do it, they cry, because if not, the Church/School/scope for service would be gone. Service ? of whom! Do you serve God who abandon His principles, loose His procedures and consort with the works of the devil, even TEACHING them in your schools as if you had an option to be two-faced, because it is an institution ? Is it not like Sir Humphreys' answers to Hacker, in Yes, Minister: Well Minister, yes and no!
There is the fine balance of opposites, of the desirable and the apposite, and there is the wobbly waffle without wisdom, which sees means above ends, as so many governments seem to be doing now, not least in Australia, as if these were all of a kind; when in fact a government of godly purpose need have no such blinking, winking and compromise. A government of integrity has no need to endorse or allow the principles opposite to its platform in order to govern. Its course is NOT to govern, except on its stated premises, and circumstances do NOT alter this, as if what is elected for one thing, may from the start, or indeed, in ORDER to begin, do something quite different, both in direction and in detail, so ditching the declaration made from the outset.
If governments fail, foiled in their own contrivances, if the people are thus misled and misrepresented in this world, yet there is no need for this to happen in the Church, where there is a mandate and commission for it NOT to happen: in Christ you see the lead required (Luke 6:46, cf. Romans 16:17).
Going one step on the false way, it is easy to find the next one, indeed it may rise like an adder from the grass, to strike the unprotected leg which strides where it ought not. Pilate, now viewed as an individual has seen the right course, is fortified in it, begins to feel not only the indignity done to the wonderful leader, Jesus Christ, but the damage to righteousness, in an awesome ache in the heart. Therefore, before Pilate, the surging populace finds manipulative tongue, that is, those with voice in the affair. As often, it is an evil voice which arises when leaders dither, as in some churches, which having erred, put on the after-burner as if not noticing it, or nod to a corrupt co-pilot as if it were an affair of nought. So with the hungry populace in Pilate's care ...
The religious leaders of Israel had an idea: spare Christ and insult Caesar. They saw the danger of baying for blood and not licking it, so they acted. If YOU do not act when given opportunity, do not imagine that the evil one will long fail to do so. It is necessary to be decisive, not abandoned, and having access to God, to USE it, fearlessly, at whatever cost.
If Pilate acted positively in his own heart, yet it was not so in history. A division occurred: he fainted into a fallacy of horror. He actually allowed the reality of Christ to be DISMISSED, ABANDONED by the people in a subtle slur, as if there were any real conflict when to Caesar should go the things of Caesar, and to God the things of God, a fact that now seems increasingly ignored by full many a church, once standing, now fallen in ruins. He finally fell when they cried:
"If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend.
Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar," John 19:12.
What specious and sophisticated nonsense! When Stalin asked Churchill how many (military) divisions the pope had, he was applying his ruthless philosophy of power, as if it came from nowhere and went anywhere. In fact, power is a quality of designated creations whether corrupt or not, and is a matter of duty or miscreancy on the part of all to whom it is for a time provided, before the judgment. If the Jews who spoke were religious, did they not know this from a myriad of lessons over the centuries! "Power belongs to God!" says David in Psalm 62:11, "twice I have heard this!" It does not belong to man, except instrumentally, for commendation or condemnation, and God Himself will intervene as He will.
14) If someone has 'power', what of it, for it is but temporary and subject to judgment, as is one's own! except the Lord pardon, in Christ's name through the faith in the sinner, by grace. Is Caesar the ultimate ? To be sure the practice of worship arose in Rome, where in Caesar, State was worshipped, as it falsely did later in Romanism, where bread was worshipped as dispensed by ecclesiastical power; but the availability of power is not the same by any means as sodden submission to it, spirit spent. Alas Pilate! the heart mourns for him. Perhaps like this, his thoughts ran.
Not Caesar's friend, you say ? The words may have echoed in his heart. THAT is as it may be, but assuredly the risk of a swollen psyche, a mad mind, an inventive spirit, a dominating folly could read it that way. Yes, these people could so twist Caesar as to make it look as if this Jesus, a man of love, healing power, gracious disposition, who expressly refused the crown when it was offered, were in fact some kind of an aspirant to political power! The peril is very great... So he capitulated, he became abandoned. Always remember Pilate if ever you consider capitulation into abandonment of spirit.
Here Pilate abandoned principle for practice, and practiced folly. He winced, he flinched, he gave in, and principles being dismissed, pity was left wounded in the sun of danger.
15) Now Pilate leads Christ into the public eye: "Behold your King!" he declared, with such a mixture of subdued admiration (for Him), horrified contempt (for His persecutors) and woeful expectation, that his aroused heart must have smitten him, with perilous awe. Crucify Him! cry the mob leaders. "Shall I crucify your King!" asks Pilate, as if to appeal to any lurking realism in the people, for here was such a Man and King as he had never seen, and they were in danger of losing far more than a national treasure. Were they indeed playing truant with their very religion and heart and soul ?
Here the people dismissed Christ's regality, along with reality, and inherited a bad dream, to last for the nation until they say of Him, as He TOLD them, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 13:35).
16) "Then he delivered Him to them." Crucifixion it was, except for the notorious washing of his hands which did not reach to the affair in his heart. Later, subdued, abandoned, he let his heart have momentary respite, for when they demanded he remove "The King of the Jews" from the heading for the cross, he refused, saying, "What I have written, I have written!" Thus Pilate at least dismissed attempts to rename Christ (John 19:21-22), so that as in some churches, so-called, at least the NAME remains! This alas is not for the purpose to derogate churches, but to warn them, and to seek an end to derogating Christ by arrogating His glory to the fallen tongue, nominality nurtured, abiding illicit in a misled administration
Here was the smitten failure of a governor quietly, though marginally, assuming his power, so soon before abandoned, and TELLING them what was to be. There was not much danger in that; so this, the smaller step he would take. This reminds me of a time when I was speaking to some independent Baptists about the need to deliver the children from the governmental assault on their minds in scientistic, anti-biblical instruction, only to receive a sodden lecture that one must take whatever little things one could, and not confront! Alas others also lapsed during action, and suddenly withdrew from the group at work. Is this not a Pilate pollution! if the children of God will abandon their children to folly, let them answer for it, for whose children are they who are so abandoned! But if they are to be steadfast, let them speak boldly as they ought to speak, being so instructed (Ephesians 6:20).
We have access to God in Christ, we who are Christian believers, and there is to be realised the immense, the inordinate contrast between service of Christ and of this world. This increasingly is finding itself religious, in a slanted phase: stirred a little, like Pilate, doing a little, like Pilate. Yet such service is not of Christ, but convenience: from religion, rather extorting an additive, than discerning a cross to be taken, except for others. But Jesus the Christ said this, TAKE UP YOUR CROSS. He did not mean your neck-piece. It involved forsaking all, not magpieing.
In conclusion, then, let us reflect on the division between what is, but SHOULD be abandoned, and the following of Christ, in the field of religion, and State or other undue intrusion into it.
Indeed, religions of religiosity, whether secularised, sanitised or transcendentalised,
You see the beginning in the world, in Genesis 3, the type in Daniel 9:27, the proliferation in Matthew 24:24, the atmosphere at the end, in Daniel 12:2, Revelation 16:12-14 and the terminus in Revelation 19:20, 20:7ff..
That, it is a terminus devoutly to be avoided. Let us who follow the Lord and His word then, be on our guard, not ignorant of Satan and his devices, dismissing compromise, fearless and well grounded, serving the Lord with confidence, and answering with conviction. Access to God is infinitely better than access to income, capital, social acclaim or any other alien feature. It is to God one looks for what is needed, not to man, be he never so filled with his own religiosity. When you glorify the Lord, you find in Him the rock unshakeable, the resource unquakeable, by anything this earth or heaven has to offer.
Do not therefore Pilatise, but abide in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be faithful in these last profoundly testimonial days, and moreover, rejoice in His praise as you go!
Next Sunday, DV, we plan to complete this series.