AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH November 14, 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.
ABANDONMENT and ACCESS last Sunday were a further strain in the theme.
DISMISSAL AND DELIVERANCE:
SPURIOUS OUTCOMES and GLORIOUS INCOMES:
these form the final coda today, as we trace the final stages of dismissal, and the early phases of superabundant deliverance. We start with the former, to specialise in the latter.
In the official dismissal of Jesus Christ, there was a certain thoroughness. Thus as in John 19:24, even His robes needed to be dismissed into the hands of those who made of them a gaming plaything, so that though He was not rich, whatever He had could be gathered for gain, while His infinite preciousness was undergoing its marching orders, in a very slow motion.
A spear, again (John 19:34), likewise was a gift of metal to the Messiah, just as the nails had been, the latter more permanent intrusions into flesh, till resurrection day, the latter just a passing, uninhibited joust. There must be no doubt of the outcome, of the dissolution of the elements into blood and water.
Thus the trade-in of Jesus Christ continued to the end, a metallic disruption to hands and feet, another for the bowels, signifying mercy, but providing NOTHING. As Daniel was inspired to formulate it: "and there was nothing for Him." Affirm any good thing: it is removed. Name any post, position, social commission: it is not. It is negated. Evacuation is the keystone, removal is the rhyme, denial is the rhythm. It might also be rendered: "There was nothing to Him." The intimation: there was nothing accountable to Him for this action certainly lies latent. That is, He did not die for His own sin. He is simply negated.
Messiah comes by divine appointment: He is given nothing, cut off from the people, ignored in His role, and by the nation (cf. Isaiah 49:7), abhorred, as predicted. When will people learn that God knows the intimacies of events beforehand, and cannot be outwitted! (Psalm 2, Isaiah 14:27, 44:24ff)! Alas, the penalty for wilful ignorance here can be very high indeed!
But HOW much this world has suffered for its very thoroughness, with metal sent now viciously in the flesh of millions, false prophets abounding; for this world has denied its own peace, and need not blame God whom it has dismissed. If any repent, is not the way open ? It is more than open, it is paid for! He too was thorough, even in the midst of His dismissal, through it and beyond.
Christ did not stop in His program. He did not come down from the cross, object to the throwing of dice for His robes, or the detestable horror of the deliverance of His body to death, with a sword wound to add to the slow suffocation and blood drainage. Let us consider first how His initial and victorious refusal to be delivered before the time, attested in His endurance, has led to our being delivered for all time.
That deliverance, its point is not primarily that for Christ, whom death simply could not hold (Acts 2:24), since He being innocent, paid for the guilt of others, and this done, arose "for their justification" (Romans 4:25). Its purpose in love is to redeem. It is good to stress that the preposition back of "for", in the case it has in Greek, gives the sense of 'on account of' or 'for the reason of.' His rising provided its everlasting grounds.
We NEED justification, and THIS is how it comes, in that He, being authentic, to start with, is demonstrably authenticated. He being raised from the dead in any comprehensible sense, after being slain as if a sinner, IS a justification of Him, and since He is to justify us who believe, it is for us who believing receive Himself, the warranty, confirmation and enablement of that! It is like the litmus test in chemistry: if the colour changes, so has the chemical condition which it signifies. This was not a mere colour change, but the non-rotting of a corpse, and in that life, all Christians live; for it is the evidence of eternity and the provision for it, both at once and altogether.
THAT is why, not only in Romans 5:1, but likewise in Romans 5:9, we find that we who are Christians HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED. It is not a painful process; for the painful part has already been performed by the Saviour. He needs no help. There is no good work which signifies here, done by sinners. Heaven is not casual but complete. Coverage is not spotty, but total. Transformation is not tedium but triumph. The Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5ff.) is POURED OUT upon us, whom He "has saved" , and having had the "washing of regeneration", a work through Jesus Christ, the end sustained is what ? It is so that "having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
The redemption He gives is "eternal" says Hebrews 9:12, and the death He performed is that of a testator, says Hebrews 9:16. It is thus that He transfers the heritage of life eternal which is His (I John 1:1-4) to give, to those who participate in His will, dedicated to those who receive Him (John 1:12). These, "by one offering are completed forever," we learn in Hebrews 10:14, and it is thus that they have an anchor, not in some mere transient thing, but within the veil - that is (Hebrews 6:19), in the very holy eternal glory of God the Father, symbolised by the Holy of Holies in the Temple, which was separated by a veil from the rest. IN that was the mercy seat and ON that came the blood, sprinkled as normal for cleansing, by the High Priest who came once a year for this purpose.
Touch up a Raphael painting ? ridiculous. Put your work with His for salvation ? much more so.
But Christ has come ONCE ONLY for HIS glorious purpose and in Person (Hebrews 9:23-28, Philippians 2), and having shed His blood, there is no more sacrifice for sin left (Hebrews 10:18). We "have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all," Hebrews 10:10.
Eternal redemption thus having been purchased, everlasting sanctification is procured, so that the anchor within the veil is "both sure and steadfast", and He who has so planted it, has declared, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," Hebrews 13:5, just as His sheep will never either perish or be snatched from His hand; and behold, how do they become His in practice ? It is simply by entering the door of faith in such a Shepherd, willingly herded into His domain by Himself, and for His own flock, because of what He did and is, who does not forsake His sheep.
Work (His) did it; faith (given to us), receives it. Promise (His) keeps it. Grace has achieved it, and our participation by our works and will as a component in securing salvation is zero (Ephesians 2:1-0, Romans 3:23ff.). It is He who has ascertained the will, the mind, before all time, and it is He who administers it in a sovereignty both sublime, making no error, and a mercy incomparable, losing none who might be gained. How articulately He has made this clear and in how many ways, and for how long! (Ezekiel 33:11, Colossians 1:19ff., John 3:16-19, Ephesians 1:11).
Work is needed to create anything, work is required no less to remove its desecration and restore it to its place. Life is needed to make life with its spirit, mind and consciousness components, and life is given to those who having lost it, retaining the mere form, formula and format, need it nonetheless. When, however, the need is rejected, so is the feed. When the mouth is opened wide, He fills it (Psalm 81:10).
It is not that God does not desire us to work (Titus 3:8); but we are not to imagine we are like car manufacturers when we are mechanics, or that we are salvation procurers, in part or in whole, when we are recipients. Nor are we to conceive or that the price of the car, in this case, regenerated model in Him, costs our accounts, for He PAID it (Matthew 28:20).
To imagine otherwise is not only insulting to Him, a virtual blasphemy that puts the sinner at the cross level, whereas He only was upon it, but it injects pollution, as if someone to be injected with an antibiotic, first ensures that cancer colonies are transferred by the intended needle!
Rest, therefore, in His works, and work in His rest (Matthew 11:28ff., Hebrews 4), labouring to enter into it, with non-spurious faith, and to receive the gift of eternal life without pollutant concomitant.
Let us now resume the dismissal items, from 16) moving to ...
17) Thus Christ, having borne all, in blood letting, name calling, buffeting, thirst, curses, blasphemies of fury, dismissed His spirit: "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit," Luke 23:46. In John 19:30 we find that He declared these words of His Messianic, His redemptive, His saving work: "It is finished!"
It was done. His life in the flesh was no more for this earth. It was retracted, abstracted from the cursed reception. He would return in Person from the grave, teach in Person for 40 days, return to the glory from which He had come, and then send His Spirit (Luke 24:46-49, John 15:26, 16:8ff.), to continue His work, with power for service in His name, spreading the Gospel and demanding that ALL His commandments be kept.
When you shoot the Physician, and repent, it is well to keep His words in mind and heart ... (John 14:21ff.). Hypocrisy is no part of holiness, and while weakness occasions pity and help, rebellion is mere religion of another kind, contrariety instead of Christ.
18) We then learn, in John 19:38, of the dismissal of His body. Joseph of Arithmathea, a rich man with a beautiful tomb, solicited the deposit of the body of the crucified Lord. Do you not see how this shows that the most glorious things may be done even if you seem far from the centre of things, for what the crowd omits, you may perform, as a supernumerary, and yet as a significant spiritual servant.
Has not the solicitous concern and practical tact of Joseph become notorious! He did what had to be done and he did it very well. It involved sacrifice, certainly, humility and wisdom; but it was done. He did it. Do not therefore let any one of us lose heart, as if nothing mattered, since others may seek control of the furious pace of the wildly run train of fate, where most are stationed today. Every action matters, each deed signifies; and let us be in prayer, that WHAT it signifies may be what will glorify God our Saviour.
19-20) We move forward just a little, to John 20:17, with the dismissal of the grief of Mary Magdalene. It was small verbally, large in heart. "Mary!" He said to her (John 20:16). Recognition stirring, the apparently impossible, as in the incarnation and redemption, simply wrought as in the creation itself (for where power is, results follow, and where supreme power, supreme results): she replied in two syllables: "Master!"
"Cease clinging to Me," He admonished, dismissing even her clinging as if to retain Him in the flesh on this earth; for His crucial work in the flesh being finished, this was time to look ahead: "for I have not yet ascended to My Father." She had to convey the message to the disciples, who sought confirmation, and John gained it at the tomb, Peter in a personal interview, with more in that evening (John 20).
Let us who grieve at many things, not let it tamper with the rejoicing of our spirits; for though for a short time we may be vexed with temptations and tiring things, let us never cease to have patience, or to seek the power of God to perform His works, whatever the hindrance, like soldiers indefatigable, resolute, undeviating, disciplined, yes and delivered.
21) We pry a little further past John 19, this time to John 21:15-19, where Christ dismissed Peter's past, in a new commission which would end in his own physical death. In one way it seems fitting that Peter, who disoriented after his first burst of defence with the sword, of his Master, denied Him, that his courage be highlighted in his mode of death.
Finally, today, we find that Christ also dismissed any idea of a short term for John, who appears to have lived into his nineties, with Gospel and Revelation, as well as Il, II and III John to be inspired into existence through him. Christ disposed His troops diversely, but overall, with a beauty of completeness that speaks of a team, in the truth, in love committed to bringing peace to all who will receive it, and knowledge of their destiny to those who will not.
It is not a threat, to tell a patient of cancer infestation, of his condition. It is information that may prove helpful, especially when ... as here, in fact, there is a surgeon who can act to deliver, the Great Physician! The threat lies in the heart of the one who dismisses Christ, yes this all over again, so that "there is nothing for Him." Alas, when you act as if to bankrupt your God, however, as in the crucifixion, you merely bankrupt yourself through the promptings of perfidy, or the casualness of indifference. Alas when you do that, it is for yourself that the sentence comes, for He who bore the brunt provides the destiny likewise, the necessary price of redemption, procuring adoption as a child of God.
Truth does not die because error lives; and Christ is He who was dead and is alive forevermore! You deny Him who is undeniable, dismiss the indefatigable, are casual with the core and Creator of life ? Then you merely crucify logic and Lord alike (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Ch. 2). Alas when you do that, it is for yourself that the sentence comes, for He who bore the brunt provides the destiny likewise, and all that is left for the negators, the indifferent, is the unrelieved doom of denial. This is residual reality for the one who forsakes the necessary price of redemption, but forever, it is the ground of praise for those who, with no merit to the match, are freely found by God in Christ.
Simply, a person on this earth is to be found by Him, or confounded without; and as John 3:15-19, 3:36 show, there is only one party who can be successful in securing the sinuous path to judgment, since God has paid enough for all, given enough for any, acted enough to cover an ocean of error, a maelstrom of evil, a fountain of woe: hence His own, in love broad enough to encompass ALL THINGS, by His own statement (Colossians 1:19ff., John 3), deep enough to bring any to adoption (Micah 7:19ff.).
Grand it is to be in His image, with thoughts aloft and understanding critical; but woe to the one whose love is for the darkness of autonomy, bravado or indifference, and not for the all-penetrating, all-explaining light of truth. To be and become a minion of mortality when the marvel of immortality is available from the Creator-Redeemer is voluntary starvation. Eat therefore of the medicine of immortality, and resist not at all the conviction of sin (one's own), of righteousness (His who died and makes of it a gift in standing before God, Romans 5:17ff.), and of judgment, which awaits as a consignment of last resort (Proverbs 1).