AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH April 4, 2010
A Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise
Courage, Conviction and Enterprise from Christ,
from Malachi 1-4
Courage, Conviction in Malachi! Yes, but wait for it.
You may, if conversant with Malachi, marvel at the title. In Malachi you have a breed of half-hearted functionaries, priests in training for professional ease, incompetence and slackness, people not even beginning to understand in many cases, the felicitous wonder of marriage, the provision of woman to complete the presentation in man, people divorcing the wife of their youth, squandering their spiritual inheritance, not even closing the door to make the sacrifice for nothing: and we talk of courage ? We have that sort of curse on their blessings (reminding one of the papal blessing, not so splendid now with the involvement in failing to curb the lasciviousness of a priest in the past) of which Malachi 2:2 speaks. We have the law no longer given from the mouth of the priest as truth, but rather the more violated.
We have all THIS, and we have talk of CONVICTION! We have all this sludge of unspirituality and we even bring in the word 'spiritual' in the same paragraph!
The only sort of 'conviction' that this suggests, it might be argued, is that before a divine tribunal! but this is not yet; though it IS coming! and not for priests only, for the message is to one and all.
"A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where i My honour ?"
the Lord asks in Malachi 1:6. Indeed, here he speaks to "you priests who despise My name..."(1:1-6). Is this not precisely what happened, for example in Ormond College Melbourne, once the site of squalid perpetration of abomination against the word of God, false and foolish criticism of the wonder of the Lord, just as rebels in the army criticise their Major. But for the prophecy of Malachi there is good reason. These priests unlike the glorious Lord, are a tribute to spiritual degeneration. Indeed, it is a matter of contemporary concern, as its principles are applied. What then of the present ?
Has not much of the Protestant church, and that in no small measure, joined the Romanist worldly conception of the Church. This is increasingly putting traditions to work WITH the Bible. With Rome, these include items such as priestly celibacy, never found in the Bible as a RULE to them all, and the invention of a queen of heaven in the person of Mary, who told them when asked, in fact, to do whatever CHRIST said, and of whom Christ declared,
"Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!" (Matthew 12).
Is heaven to be populated with kings and queens then! There is ONE Mediator (I Timothy 2), and as that, it is the eternal Lord, Jesus Christ (John 1), who gave Himself a ransom on behalf of all (just as the priest would slay the sacrifice for all, though its effect was channeled ONLY to those who by faith received it!). There is one redeemer (no redemptress), one Lord (no pope, not other master - Matthew 23:8-10), one faith (not various additions or subtractions from the Bible) and one salvation (not one with works and one without - the latter being the only one as condition, as shown in Titus 3). It is Christ's own works which count here (Romans 3:23-27, Titus 3:3ff.).
There is no room for any other mouth of divine authority, but that of the Lord, and that spoken in the Word of God written, the Bible. This applies to Protestant and to Romanist alike, and for many Protestants to have new versions of such ancient rebellion is merely an approach to the end season, the end of the Age, when as with Lot at Sodom, few remain, and these are removed at the call of the Lord as in Matthew 24, Acts 1, I Thessalonians 4. Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Traditions! New ones which make homosexuality a feature or focus for church officers, , or other assaults on biblical truth and integrity. These mingle with other atrocious parodies of biblical truth in contempt of the Bible's domain, while the name of Christ who declared not one jot or tittle would fail, is wrongfully used, as if to bless in such rebellions! These are now in some Protestant circles. This is the very milieu of Malachi, modernised. Their blessings ? cursed already, says the prophet.
Divorce from God and from the wife of youth, this is all but the same (as in Hosea), in this, that it is disruption of what is good and faithful. Don't you realise, Malachi is moved to exclaim (1:15), that there was a residue of the Spirit, and that God made them one, so that the entirety brought completion! and now you even DIVORCE, as if marriage were mere convenience and convention!
You have WEARIED the Lord with your words, He says (2:12), Malachi is given to declare.In what way ? they ask like a school-boy suddenly named in class, asking, What have I done!
It is in this:
"that you say, Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,
or 'where is the God of justice.'"
In other words, that was being said, in that time, by PRIESTS, who appeared lazy, cynical, sophisticated asses past all faith, talking the stuff, but actually loving power and asserting that to get things done, that is real power, and this God favours, in the last resort! Justice! ask China about Hu, and yourself of the justice for him, not having crucial help from his Government, when charged with stealing Chinese State secrets! Justice, it is what happens that matters! such is the cynicism. Such is the anti-idealistic, anti-moral outrage of those jaded priests, which Malachi is used to rebuke with a divine fire in his inspired words.
For courage and conviction, then, we must look elsewhere in Malachi; but note this, that MALACHI is showing it in robust measure in denouncing these powerfully placed interests so openly! Prophets were killed often enough! Yet there is far more to be shown, this time not by the authorised report on that time, but through the vision of the One who Himself and personally came! Here was the Easter present that MADE Easter, the triumph over calamity that was the Cross. Malachi described it; Christ did it.
The MESSENGER of the COVENANT
It is this figure who is seen in Malachi 3:1-3. Before the divine judgment at last, there is this Messenger of the Covenant, to prepare the way, the one "in whom you delight", for
"Behold He is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming ? and who can stand when He appears ? for He is like a refiner's fire!"
Indeed, "the Lord will suddenly come to His Temple" - 3:1 (as in John 2:13ff., and Mark 11:15ff.).
This Christ did, and who could stand before His exposures as in Matthew 23, His rebukes to hypocrites, often very much in the vein inspired in Malachi (as in Luke 11). He has blazed with a revealing light, that shone into men's hearts and revealed their thoughts, even to themselves. While many sought to break the point, instead they were pierced for ever; for truth cannot be laid out dead, and felled forever. Thus Christ, though the body died, as foretold, first sent His Spirit to His Father's hands, and was then raised up in body also, so that the devastation of His body could be overcome in resurrection triumph, just as confessed and forgiven sin was overcome by this satisfaction for it. Thus the Creator's own power to create in the first place, left no difficulty in raising one of these created bodies when smitten, dead; and so Christ was restored with more power than before, just as He had restored others who died, to life.
What guilt would anoint the sham hearts of His murderers, who no longer believed in justice (as in Mark 14:61-65)! It was BECAUSE He told them the truth (that He is the Son of God), that THEREFORE they killed Him. Truth will out: just as Isaiah predicted would be the case, so it was: "BECAUSE He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth", therefore, using 'weakness' and abusing authority, they set Him beside the wicked. Fulfilling more of Isaiah 53, they even allowed His placement in an expensive and donated grave.
Murder in heart, it was sacrifice in divine intention. Thus the murder was not expunged except by His blood, and the world, intoxicated with its own strength and power, has lost millions slain in its flight from faith, even in the last century! They have only to turn in repentance, whether for death physically or spiritually dealt to His offered life; but if not, the heart remains smitten, and folly opens her mouth wide. Don't you Gentiles fail to learn! Paul asseverates, that the Jew failed for lack of faith: for your churches too can be cut out for the same error (Romans 11).
How great was His initiative, in this, that He came and told the truth, even into the very bosom of His treacherous betrayers! After all, the cunning, cavilling priests were in HIS employment, in His Father's house, and all who forsook Him, betrayed Him. Though His duty path was prepared, He followed it with a courage that did not flicker. Though He knew to the uttermost the infinity of the cost that bearing sin AS Creator was to entail, He did it!
Christ feared nothing, exposed the follies and the fallen faith and taught the narrow way and the sure foundation in His word, and built on Himself as the Sovereign who Sacrificed Himself for His people. Here was courage, here was transcendental conviction and here was enterprise; for although the way had been laid down for Him as Messiah to follow, for millenia in the Bible, YET it takes enterprise, even when you know your duty, actually to DO it and not to fall to obfuscation, obsession, obstruction or failure to see the obvious.
HE DID IT. Let us each one
follow HIS example in doing what is our own duty FOR HIM (Luke 14:27-33). Act
therefore "just as the Son of Man did not come to be
served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew
The COMING DAY
In Malachi 4, we find that the day is coming, "burning like an oven" in which the proud, those who dared to prod God, meet their time of judgment. No more can they speak their thoughts and culture, even in His own name! Then,
"all who do wickedly will be stubble."
Such is the burning of that time that it will
"leave them neither root nor branch."
But not to all does this disaster come.
"But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings ..."
Healing and help is so delightful in the midst of battle and evil! We were made for Him, but it requires courage and conviction and initiative to ACT in the midst of the evil scenes, so similar in Malachi's day to those which we face now. Act then, and testify of the truth, and join with those who do, not straggling, like Lot's wife where you have no business to be (Romans 16:17, Ephesians 5, I Cor. 5-6). Be like those in Malachi 3:16,
"Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
and the Lord listened and heard them;
so a book of remembrance was written before Him
for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.
'They shall be Mine,' says the Lord of host,
on the day that I make up My jewels,
and I will spare them
as a man spares his own son who serves him.' "
God bless you as you wait upon Him, to know Him, do His will, and show courage, initiative and conviction; for faith without works is dead. Gethsemane was vast, since Deity here experienced AS MAN in advance, the abysmal trough of iniquity which is man's. He then covered as many as would come to Him, so saving many, justifying their faith as He rose in that self-same body, like an epochal rocket, dynamised from the dead: determined but ditched, driven but triumphant even over death.
It is when you SO receive Him (Romans 10:9, John 10:9), that your own life is transformed;for death has no more power to frighten you, nor disease to terrify you, nor enemies to embroil you, nor lassitude to enervate you. You LIVE BECAUSE He lives (John 14:19).