AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH February 14, 2010
Continuing the work of the Australian Presbyterian Church (Union 1901),
following the Lord without Compromise
and the Bible without Qualification, by Faith
SHORT DIVISION NOW CAN SAVE LONG DIVISION LATER -
Part II: Luke 11:5-28, 12:35-48
with attention to some intervening verses
A SHORT DIVISION
Last Sunday, spent also in Luke, we saw something of earnestness, urgency, the spirit of necessity driving for home, the Lord's grace to such entreaty, and the wild folly of trying to impute cleansing from the devil, TO the devil, simply to make frothing assault on Christ, who snatched souls free from the power of the devil. We saw the opposite, when a man is cleared, but only superficially, and seven worse devils come back; and that the great thing is to abide in the Lord, know and keep His word, and so be blessed in securely based strength, not inflated squalor. It is not whose breast fed Him but whose heart follows Him that matters (Luke 11:28 cf. Matthew12:48-50).
Next we find the people, restless in the face of reality, seeking some sign, as if they had not already been wallowing in uniquely significant signs! (Luke 11:29-32). Christ speaks of Nineveh: there a rescued Jonah spoke, and they repented, but in Jerusalem, an empowered Christ speaks and they do NOT repent. Nineveh, He said, will rise up in judgment on this generation! In fact, faced with Christ, even Tyre would have repented if it had met with the works Christ did in places like Chorazin and Bethsaida (Matthew 11:21). Indeed, the only sign for those there querulously questioning, apart from and beyond all given in type already, this would be that of Jonah. Jesus is the Jonah of His own day, and much more; He would stagger His generation with a sign for all time.
In what respect was it similar to the sign of Jonah ? In this, that just as Jonah, as we read in the parallel passage in Matthew 12, was three days and nights hidden in the belly of a great fish, so Christ was going to be in the depths, in the heart of the earth for such a time. What is the meaning ? It is (as He declared in Matthew 16:21ff., in accord with John the Baptist's statement at the first - John 1:29), that He would be killed by the elders, chief priests and scribes and be raised on the third day. There is the parallel.
Why however three days and nights ? It is because on the Thursday night of His capture, He was in the heart of the earth, in its heat and intensity, immersed in its depths of horror, punched, clouted, mocked, dragooned, during the night of the trial, and much more at the hands of Pilate and his rough-handed men (Luke 22:63ff., John 19:1-4, Mark 15:12-20).
There was the intensity of the hatred given physical form, verbal twisting and grossly unfair expression, so that the One who had made man, the Logos, was being rendered physically a mutilation by-product of man's hate of his Maker, as, for that matter, were the hearts of those who afflicted Him, for whom, nevertheless, He sought divine pity, as they did not know what they were doing!
After that night in the heart of the earth, in the ruinous depths of fallen man's subterranean horror, He would be killed in the day, put away to the tomb, and after three nights and days, so recorded, Sunday morning the third day, raise His physical body, rebuild His temple as promised, that very body which was destroyed (John 2:19-21).
He was like Jonah, but far more categorically, raised up. With Jonah, it was from impending death, with Him, from three days with His body among the dead. Not potential drowning but actual death would be the sign, in the light of the resurrection of that self-same nailed body, this prodigy among all escapes. It was not someone else who was raised up, it was not some other body, for man has but one body (Hebrews 2), and God became man; but it was He, the One who spoke, who as such bore these criminal assaults, who was put down, and who likewise who would be raised up from the dead with which those frantic in misplaced fury, had placed Him.
You do not raise up a spirit; it is up already. It was His body which was the sign to parallel and surpass that of Jonah, the more so in this, that in Psalm 16, allied to Psalm 22, it was explicitly declared that the dead body would not rot, and hence be raised. Spirits don't rot; bodies do.
The clearance was of the body, and hence Christ declared, "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have!" (Luke 24:39). It was HIS flesh that did not rot (Acts 2:31).
That is the elementary lesson lost on so many millions of spurious, spiritually intoxicated and furious deniers who like the priests, think they could obviate the concrete horror of having the One to whom they put paid, arise like a broadcasting speaker, to declare what had been done and what HE Himself would do. But then, as for Jerusalem, this coming and awesome destruction, He had declared, with tears for its woes, already (Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff.). He would rise in 3 days; they would fall for centuries!
Thus there was, as there is, a dividing of the ways. Some crucified Him; some believed in Him; some would not believe in Him, seeking to dispense with His rising as He foretold (Luke 16:27-31, Matthew 28:17), as some destroy papers in the shredder: but they shredded their own souls.
The Church BECAME those who believed in Him, His bodily resurrection, His words, His actions, His life, His eternity and His sufficiency for man, as God sent to crusade for glory for man (Zechariah 2:6-8), first as Saviour, and then in power as King (as in Luke 24:25-26). To them were added those who shared this faith, even among the priests (Acts 6:7). It is all or nothing, to be full of light or emptied of it in darkness, as Christ displayed (Luke 11:33-35). One is filled with the radiant light of Christ or one is not. There is no mistiness. One comes where this is preached, presented, core and character, or one goes with the mob of miscreancy.
THE LONG DIVISION
Christ went on to bewail and condemn the religious lawyers, scribes (Luke 11:37ff.), telling them this, that their fathers killed the prophets and they built their tombs, part of the seething culture of unbelief, civilised, verbalised and tormented: it was then as now. On this generation there would come all the blood of those slain, He stressed. After all, this was an inheritance, not only to the third and fourth generation of those who continued to hate Him, as all too clearly shown in this frank, face to face encounter with their God, but over a long age of dabbling, dribbling and departing, and in so attacking the head, they summed up in one the work of an Age.
Thus this alas was true not only of that particular generation, which was to suffer utter desolation in some 40 years, when the Roman Empire ruined their land, but of the very race, to the extent that it kept to the paths of unbelief, and approved in disbelief, the work of this crucial generation in its own day. So it was to be, has been and in much, still is, though the signals are out with the return of Israel, for the great day of their emancipation as in Ezekiel 37 and Zechariah 12. Then, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, there will be a huge turning to Christ in Israel, doubtless not unlike those vast and strenuous revival of the nineteenth century Britain and America, about which Dr Edwin Orr has written so much.
Thus there came the second great division in Israel, the former being that between Israel in the North, and Judah with the Temple in the South. This time it was the murderers of Christ party, on the one hand, and the Christians on the other, both Jewish, several apostles!
Some endorsed it, or did not leave the religion, immersed in corruption as Christ showed it to be, both in His words and in their deeds; some followed Christ, the essence, fountainhead and basis of their religion from the first, Himself Jehovah (Isaiah 45, Philippians 2), that God to whom all must bow and other than whom none could or can be found, verified, vindicated. This trinity, of which Christ is the word, who operates and on whom man operated, the resurrection being the practical and physical rebuttal of the change! is the ONE GOD, warrant against agnostics, atheists, liberal pseudo-Christians, State religionists, Judaism and cults based on myths or manufactured gods, as with Islam (SMR pp.1080ff.).
Just as there is ONE division in Israel, Christian and non-Christian, and Israel NOW is almost entirely NOT Christian, there even being questions of heavy limits and persecution in some ways of Christian outreach, so there is division in the world. It too has its pseudo-orthodox frauds, whether with idolatrous armies, or not, all relating to what is not God (Deuteronomy 32:15-21), whether in sects or the secular worship of fantasies (cf. 'Errors', The gods of naturalism have no go!). Division has occurred, and it moves like a cancer, stratifying unhealthy flesh in the body of religions among men, whereas that which has the power and the purity from God, appears in Christ. One is by Him invested or by myth infested. This is for millenia the norm (John 14:30 cf. Religion, Religiosity and Reality in Christ). You follow the clear-cut Christ channel to glory, faithful, or fail.
Whether in Israel or out of it, the challenge is the same: the Christ of history and of the Bible, whom God sent and divinely ensured in fairness was made available biblically to all, or NOT. That, it is quite simply, the OTHER way. That, it is numerous, and as with cancer cells in different locations manifesting themselves differently in different organs, it has this in common, that it is destructive of peace and content, threatening death to the race, just as cancer does to the individual. Yet it is not entirely to the race, since Christians are in remission, having had their sins remitted; but these have escaped (cf. Hebrews 2:1-4).
This division among men has been throughout all recorded history, from Eve on, the fundamental character of the departure being simply this, that the word of God, focussed in Christ, which He endorsed and history confirms as nothing else is or can be confirmed, is either received as it is, or not. Man worships the God who made him up, or makes up his gods. It is God who, trusted, is in charge on His own terms, or a substitute, a prepared proxy. It is in this, the same as in the Army. There are not two COs, nor is there room or scope for a plethora of voices. Opinions may be great; authority is in one.
When man is concerned, this can be bogus, self-important and strutting pretension; with God, it is fact and truth, essential for man far more than air for lungs or gravity for stability.
In Luke 11:37-53, you see in ancient Israel, just one generation before its temporary demise, the Lord's rebuke to what adds to and subtracts from His words (Luke 11:46, 42). They left out rigorous justice and care, basic to life, and added fictitious and hypocritical things such as, condemned by the prophets of old, would lead to their confrontation or even assassination Immorality was one and false, unsent words were another, as in Jeremiah 23, Matthew 23:24,28. It is so now as it was then. It is Christ's new man or man's new man! There is innovation in making new gods and men, or there is recognition of divine invariance. When man makes himself new, it is like a disassembled caterpillar, now a dead stick.
It is necessary, we find in Luke 12:8-21, as in 9:26, to recognise God. Thus, we find that if you confess Him (not some variant) before men, so will He confess you before His Father (cf. Romans 10:9), but if you do not, neither will He. It is the LORD'S Christ (Luke 2:26), however, who is to be confessed, not some confection of philosophers or neologians.
THE FINAL DIVISION
Thus in the finale, the division is categorically simple. It is IN Christ and Christ IN YOU (John 15), with enablement by the power of His Spirit, as you abide in His words and these in you (John 15:7); or it is something else which governs you: whether, yourself or your inwardly anointed appointee, whatever you elect in the not-God, NOT CHRIST, category. Luke 12: 35-53 shows the necessity, as in athletics, to be in constant training, zealous, spiritual, concerned, applied. This does not earn your place, since fruit does not make a good tree, but rather a good seed well planted (Matthew 15:13, 7:17ff., I Peter 1;23, 2:24) shows itself in its fruit, though in some cases, because of distortion and slander, few other than God may know it!
For bad servants (Luke 12:42-47), there are two types of punishment. One servant did not know, having not learned about what is on offer; and the other knew well, but failed to do it. The former is beaten, says Christ, with few stripes, the other with many. While this could mean that in hell, one is more writhing with guilt than the other, guilt foolishly not carried to the Saviour for remission, it could also mean that the one is rebuked but a little, for not using well what he had, whereas the other has interminable punishment. In the one case, there may possibly be some who find the Lord, having in ignorance never known the Gospel on earth (as in John 15:21-23 and I Peter 3), so that for them the confrontation is not terminal, but introductory, followed by repentance, as known to God before time was. With none is it chance: it is divine choice in foreknowledge framed in love, sought in truth, sealed by Him.
ALL stand ready to receive at last what was done in the flesh (II Corinthians 5:10), but for ALL, once more, there is no other resolution, no other answer, cover, escape than this, that Christ has died for them, and risen, claims them through faith. If any received one ha'pence worth of what is done in the flesh, all would be damned; for sin has NO place in God's eternity. The Gospel is the ONLY way to God, eternity the place of His foreknowledge and the mode of application of that same Gospel, His and His alone (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.).
Rejecting what is known, is fatal; yet the love of God is such that it is NOT immediately called fatal if it is not known (as in John 15:21ff.). If they had NOT heard His words and seen His works, HE states that they would not have had sin (that is, in context, fateful and final judgment). So we move with His words, seeing both love and justice in tandem. One thing is very certain here: there is NO remission for knowledgeable renegacy, and the latter has no further cover (John 3:19,36). Here the word on earth becomes the word in heaven (Luke 9:26,Romans 10:9).
Then the faithful, having shown reliability, being redeemed and alive in the Lord, Himself alive in them, are given their place for service in Him (Luke 12:44). In the end, there is no revision of the division, which God foreknew from the first, no alteration of or alternative to the Gospel of salvation through faith by grace without works, and no other Lamb for man to claim, but this same Jesus, the same today, yesterday and forever; nor is there other Lord, director, who must be obeyed. Found with Him, you are in the end, permanently divided from all that offends, just as you seek in the beginning of new life, to follow His instructions, avoiding both sin and false prophets like cancer and like army ants on parade. God be praised that He has made the Gospel so easy for man, so hard for Himself, its fruits so beautiful and its ways so dutiful.