AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH, Sunday May 13, 20, 2012
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
The Mastery of the Messiah, Jesus Christ
Luke 21:36, Luke 9:23, I Peter 1:8-12, Mark 7:1-30Philippians 3:21
CHRIST SAYS IT AND DOES IT
The mastery of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is on all sides. He came WHEN it was predicted (Daniel 9:24-27, Christ the Citadel Ch. 2), for the PURPOSE predicted (Isaiah 49-55), with the result specified (Psalm 16, Acts 2), with the power foretold (Isaiah 35), the suffering unveiled a millenium before (Isaiah 50ff.,Psalm 22), and indeed since the word of Genesis 3:15, with a mission to Jew (Isaiah 49:6) and Gentile alike (Genesis 12:3).
He showed this mastery in every setting while on earth, within the poles of birth, death and resurrection. Thus if someone has to be healed instantly of lifelong paralysis (Mark 2), in a test situation to attest by visible means, His invisible power to forgive sins, then this HAPPENS. There is no need for spin; there is sin and salvation and He is the Saviour, and what He says, in complete and unvarying mastery, He does. Here is at once a message about being reliable!
Nor is He any figure of build-up, as if promoters were making money out of Him, and hence made a big fuss and glamorised mere sullen facts. In thousands of years, His report is good only, as it was then. Failure under test would be fatal (Deuteronomy 18:20), whether for reputation or indeed, for life itself!
His test is greater yet. If He labours at Gethsemane, in horror at the inward, human and personal level when the time for bearing sin from others as their Saviour arrives, like entering the sun naked by a sudden magnetic impulsion: He does not fold. Instead, He laboured in prayer, sweat like blood dripping as He drove into the hideous and lamentable reality of what it was He had to bear. This was to cut Him off as Messiah (Ps. 22:1) from the anointing of His Father, an awesome breach of communion. Sin separates man from God, even God as man when He bears it (Isaiah 59). It was real, with no special treatment since as man for man He was doing it.
Despite this immense effort and gift, if someone rejected the Messiah, there was no mere irritation, which in His case could have brought down fire from heaven; He passed on to do what had to be done, with complete self-mastery and mastery of environment and conditions. He prayed, but He did not pause. There was no intermission (Luke 9:54). You do not know what manner of Spirit you come from, He chided them when they asked regarding such a punishment for a village rejecting Him at the outset. While it is true that earlier fire did come down to consume two lots of 50 soldiers (II Kings 1), who sought to arrest Elijah when he was on a hill, this was a special theocratic case in which the nation and its idols had already been judged (I Kings 17). That was in open contest, showing that the fire from heaven could consume even sodden sacrifices without human intervention.
This ended decades of utter folly, cruelty and hypocrisy, and purged the place of pretenders. When therefore, a later King sought to grab Elijah from this spiritually sick nation, the Lord saw fit to emphasise the point already made so dramatically and formally in the contest, for without some action, all could then merely glide back from a one day wonder into their former fallen ways.
However, that special case of the prophet Elijah was an end to a long trial and interchange; for God is not irritable, but longsuffering; yet neither is He is a dupe, manipulee, nor is He co-operative with folly. HOW OFTEN would I have gathered you, as a hen her chicks, He rebuked Jerusalem, and you were not willing (Matthew 23:37). In prophets many, in Christ Himself, in manifestations of power, of pity, of pardon, in faithfulness even when they were unfaithful, He had acted; but they were not willing. Now will your house be left to you desolate, He cried amid tears (Luke 19:42ff.).
There comes a time when truth continues at mercy's rejection; and so after so long, in AD 70, it came. Is this world to imagine it is now different, that it has outgrown God or that He is indifferent to the millions of groanings which it unjustly exacts of so many in so many places, amid historical engines of hated and intolerance, imperious wills and self-centred enterprise! There comes a time.
With Christ, it was to come. As He was about to go, so much rejected as to be crucified, He told them in tears FOR THEM, of what destruction was going to come. In grief but in mastery, in control of the city, He announced what would be and it was what, over one generation of merciful opportunity, would be delayed. Jerusalem stone by stone, was to go; and so it went. Does this not teach assiduity when mercy pleads! Is it not like a disease ? If you do not conquer it, you can be dissolved, dissociated, body-wise, cell by cell! in death.
THE ISSUE OF SELF-CONTROL
When Christ therefore was tested by the devil as in Matthew 4, He did not negotiate; He was not dazzled. Thus when you are tempted, do not even listen to the impact of all kinds of music accompanying dazzlement. Let it be rather seen as glare, glaringly obvious seduction. In II Peter 1, the apostle tells us of things to be added to your Christian life to make it rounded, like well-trained muscle, secure and sure. One of these is self-control. God has given us a spirit, each one, and with this we understand and probe and perceive, not only what is the nature of what is going on in the world, but of some of the tests which meet us within!
Self-control reminds us as a term, that there is an item on the agenda, the self, one's own distinct and possibly distinctive personality, with its spiritual state, condition, modes, preferences and ways. With what do you control it then ? For the non-Christian, the self may be all, the beginning and the end, the receptor-transmitter not to be questioned, which seeks to work out on its own principles whatever is to be, makes the most of things, co-ordinates and has priorities and so forth. That is living in the flesh, in dissociation from the Maker. It is possible, like a radio not plugged in; but it has severe limitations: you do not receive at a certain level, at all.
However, for the Christian, there is your life or psyche or soul, there is your spirit and there is your body. Your spirit can indeed address your life: you can rehearse a matter, as Hamlet did, to be or not to be, and muse on your situation, probing and testing, trying and penetrating to principles and hopes, and applying this, meet your natural desires and responses from beyond them. You can in this way try to CONTROL yourself, showing self-control. If a Christian, indeed, this is far from all. Not only is your spirit like a candle, it is like a candle from the Lord, with which He searches (Proverbs 20:27). HE freely moves in our inmost being, and enlightens, disciplines, convicts of sin, shows the savour of righteousness, enables when things are obscure, enlists when work is to be done, directs.
In fact, for the Christian, this same Jesus Christ, through His word and Spirit, has mastery. We seek (cf. Romans 7), to ensure that self-control is not lacking, and if we do slip, then as in I John 1:7ff., we seek pardon and power as in Romans 8.
That is one application of the continual mastery, including the perfect self-mastery, which Christ showed, not least in the Garden of Gethsemane. To permit the horrid and defiled hands of mordant sinners and their mouths the liberties they were about to grab, grasp, as if they had the real power and Christ were merely one of their victims, would be like putting petrol on flames. It would tend to exalt them and humble in gross misrepresentation, the One freely sacrificing Himself, with mastery and self-control, with a power beyond man, enduring what man in his weakness had produced. It was like taking, cell by cell, a gross and malignant cancer, having each cell slowly transplanted from some criminal, into one's own flesh, while they laughed and mocked: He, all the while, doing this freely for their good. " If he is the King of Israel," they cried, " let him come down and we will believe him," (Matthew 27:42). Believe what ? A moral moron who failed the test of duty ? the Messiah on mission, seeking intermission ? Believe in other words, in a creature they were prepared to worship, since God was not to their taste.
This is little different from the modern muddle, which would believe any christ who does not have this or that moral code, who is willing to co-operate if not coagulate with any breach of belief, action, truth, and so become a mere name, misused. When will it be realised that it is in this setting, exceedingly simple. God is, God speaks, God sent, God paid, God has testified, God does not change: take Him or leave Him; but if you leave Him, you have left your master for a mess. President Obama now embraces same sex marriage, as if to pulverise in innovation, strict biblical principle (I Timothy1:9-10): for whom and for what ? Australia too dabbles, and not in this alone! What then ? Enjoy disjunction... if you can, since then there is nothing good left. If a car abandons its engine, it is perhaps still in some sense a car, but it doesn't really go as made. It does not do what it was made for. If it were a person, it then might ask, What do I mean ? and other sad things, when all along the problem is very clear. It is not willing to operate how and for what it was made. Other tasks may indeed come to seem meaningless.
THE ISSUE OF SELF-DENIAL
Life in Christ is a phrase, but it is a vocation. When it is realised that Christ is Lord, and that "for this purpose Christ both died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living," (Romans 14:9), then the fact that as God, of the time before Abraham had any being, He could say " I am," means that as God, He must be approached. That, as in John 20:28-29. is categorical for all Christianity, as the issue with Thomas directly showed: Christ, breaching death in His risen body, is indeed both Lord and God, this adopted personally. It is this or nothing. THOMAS had seen and believed, the essential faith, and many who had not directly seen, would yet believe!
As Luke 9:23 shows, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." You know what you want to do. Right, then do it ? No, entirely wrong! You certainly consult your priorities and principles, and morals and methods. Is that all ?
It is something, but not enough, and often even that is not done at all, for passion rules and desires can turn a person into its slave, for a longer or shorter time. Resentment, lust, hope, despair, the whole gamut of unbelief is available. The Christian may be tempted, and repenting, find grace; but this is the fall of the athlete, not his method of running. As to that, you DENY yourself. You are to put on the NEW MAN "which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:24). As in Colossians 3:10, as a Christian "you have put on the new man who is being renewed in righteousness according to the image of Him who created him."
This is a transcendent reality, in a way resembling the vision of the artist, the splendour of the insight of those who are architects or thinkers. It is far more: it is the operation of God, both as to TAKING YOU IN through faith in the objective Jesus Christ, and making you WORK OUT within Him, through dedicated devotion and interchange, as He purifies, giving grace, strength and understanding (Ephesians 1:17-18), what life holds (Philippians 2:12-13).
When you are in Christ, it is an entire life in God that you are living. HIS is the mastery, but it is a friendship as you abide in Him and His words (John 15:7); otherwise, it becomes but mockery and mess, words without reality.
Self-denial in fact is the other side of Christ-affirmation, not just with the tongue, but with the heart. If God is for you, this does not mean that you are Lord, for He has both died and risen again that He might be Lord (Romans 14:8-9). Who is better Lord, the infinite majesty of the lively God, who made you, or your misconceptions and misunderstandings, following from limitation and self-assertion, like that of a fly caught in a spider-web: valiant, should it so happen, but both vain and miserable in his protestations.
If God did not love as He does (Colossians 1:19ff., John 3:16ff.), then the valiant in heart might insist that their love is better than mere majesty. Since however God loves categorically and would have ALL to be reconciled without the blazing path of ruin, as typified and symbolised in that Challenger rocket which was to bring a teacher on behalf of the young, into space, but brought only all of its passengers to ruin, then what ? THEN, to withhold allegiance that is real, and felt, and keen, and practical, is disdain for the lovely, disregard for the necessary and delusion in place of reality (cf. Sinners Only).
Without your Maker, your options run out! It is not just what we HAVE had in spiritually jaundiced, morally moribund and egotistically dynamised dictators like Stalin, Hitler, Mao and a raft of others setting forth on the high seas of aspiration and the low deeds of slaughter in Africa, USSR, China, Syria, Iraq and Iran, and such places, with secularised religion or robbed ingredients from the Bible in regions where false prophets rule*R. It is what is still offering.
Take a more recent offer from The World Wildlife Fund, with patron Prince Philip, and one reported to be endorsed by the European Space Agency. The WWF has released a statement concerning world-wide poverty that the wild things might live, and that the carbon footprint must be made low in the ground, and even reportedly held a word from Philip to the effect that in his boyhood, stock had to be culled, and so population limitation is needed. Would such an approach lead to eugenics, which so many for so long love to ignore in Hitler's robust little world (before it collapsed in its hideous caricatures of life). There is no limit to naturalism, without God using God's creation. Whoever says what, this unloveliness always lurks.
This is only ONE little way in which there is fulfilled Christ's prediction that UNLESS HE RETURNED, mankind would be unable to live on this earth (Matthew 24:22). With frenzied and futile, confused and with misdirected vision, a hundred nostrums come up, like the reputed thoughts of someone drowning; though those tend to be in the past, while these are for the future. They are grimly held out for mankind, stricken and ridiculous in his self-imposed orphanage, while abundant life comes from its eternal source.
Indeed, the time is drawing near when His rule will cover the earth by His advent, to which all communion services have properly been pointing for two millenia (cf. I Corinthians 11:23-26). Just as Back to Jerusalem has been a Jewish desire for some such period, and now they are back BECAUSE and ONLY because God had that in His oft-stated plan (Micah 5-7, Isaiah 42-49, 66, Deuteronomy 30-32, Zechariah 12), from the outset provided for this in His faithfulness (Genesis 17:7ff.), so Christ Himself will come back (Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Psalm 96:13, 98:9, Matthew 24:31ff., 24:24-31).
Selection in the end is not natural selection (what lives is in some way 'selected', though many factors may endorse what is weak, and Gould of Harvard could find no superiority of design in what remains over time). Rather for what matters, it is supernatural selection. This is not on the basis of chance or strength, but acceptance of His rule, of the depravity of sin and the necessity of repentance, of the reality of the ransom paid and reliance on Christ.
HE is to be held in absolute trust as Saviour and Lord. God would have all reconciled to and come to Him, and says so repeatedly (cf. Colossians 1:19ff.), but in selection makes no mistakes. It is the cross-selection (Galatians 6:14); it is in His foreknowledge with due divine regard for what His divine principles for all time state: come freely to His love and salvation through the cross of Christ in its redemptive brand, or go where you will. None is forced. Any is enabled. There are no further options. He supervises and authorises, but these are the principles. He transacts and enacts (Romans 8:30), and this is His glorious will. STAY outcast on your own if you must. There is no need!
In contrast, then, to all the wiles and wits and wisdoms of man, which fail as in I Corinthians 1, God has His own way, vastly beyond all need, in wisdom, and comes to rule in majesty as foretold both in general and in the precipitate return of Christ at His own time (cf. Revelation 19). There cannot be two masters. Self-denial and taking up your cross after Him, finding your feet on HIS path, this is the way. His mastery has been present from the first, and needs to be followed to the last. IT does last, because it is an expression of the everlasting truth of the Mighty God, Maker, Saviour and Sender of salvation.
HE is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). There is no point in the human pre-occupation with synthesis, making a mix-up of man and God for wisdom, or even dispensing with God and licking the perennial wounds. The way of spiritual disease and conflict is common, but unnecessary.
Our God does not wear out, but we do and need not only restoration but strengthening in heart and conscience - Isaiah 40:26ff.. Dereliction is by misplaced desire. Deliverance is by divine grant.
THE WONDER OF CHRIST'S MASTERY
Like everything else but God, this situation has a beginning. OUR involvement with GOD, freely and fervently, is a result of His being who He is, and having done what He did, both in creation and for Christians, in redemption. offered to all, received by some. But what is HE like ? that is the question. To seek in humility, grace and disposition, to be like Him, that is the derivative question for which the Christian has already given the answer, and it is God who works (II Cor. 3:18).
But He ? When did even the incarnate and hence vulnerable Christ (Hebrews 2 shows His position as man), ever fail because of weariness, even when present in the highly vulnerable Christ, God incarnate once and for all ?
Thus in Mark 7, we see a spiritual situation that speaks. In Mark 6, prior to this, we find that Christ came by boat to the region of Gennesaret (6:53). Vast human needs were met, turbulent seeking rushed on His resources, and His healing went out to them like the rays of the sun (Mark 6:54-55). They
"began to carry about on beds those who were sick
On top of that, there was a beautiful confrontation with the Pharisees, stripping bare their pretensions in the interests of authentic love and consistent grace.
After such a throng and battalion of blessing and healing pouring forth from Him, and such a confrontation, naturally weariness would beckon. He sought to go privately to a house (Mark 7:24). However, this was penetrated and once more call was made upon Him. Even here a new challenge came, a new need was presented. A Syro-Phoenician woman came and kept asking for healing for a demon-possessed daughter. Christ replied most understandably that the "children", that is the people of Israel, had to be 'fed' first, and that it was not fitting to take their bread and to throw it to the little dogs. This, as so much in the Lord's ways, TESTED. Angry denunciations so often come because meek and wise approaches, BASED on His very written word, are not made. He does not always heal indifferently to the nature of a situation, but He always hears, and acts as is good (illustrated so well, in the case of Job).
This Syro-Phoenician lady was willing so to act. When then she spoke up about His saying,which indicated that He had come pre-eminently for Israel, she then urged in response that even the little dogs under the table could have crumbs: here was a word like that of the thief on the cross, showing an acceptance of the position but a persistence on a proper principle, as she continued to seek His aid.
At this, Christ at once made a provision for her also; for though this Gentile outreach was in essence for the future, after His Church began, yet it was as it is, a true feature of His love, for each and all. Therefore, being given this approach, He granted the request at once, and He healed the sick one as requested (Mark 7:26). Moreover, notice this, how CAREFULLY and correctly Christ had spoken at the outset, concerning the bar to healing. He was not weary but at all times heard what was good and did what was well.
The Lord never is captive to weariness (Isaiah 40:28),
nor does He dither.
What then of this situation about the demon-possessed girl. What of the impact when she met His word about little dogs, and acted ON it, not against it. Was He uncertain ? affronted ? Did He dither ? Anything but this. No, not at al. He HEARS the cry of faith for the things that are right. She MET His concern, and He RESPONDED decisively, directly and dynamically. Let us review it.
"Let the children be filled first, for it is not good
to take the children's bread and throw it away to the little dogs," (Mark 7:27).
This He had said. Now the little dogs in that family setting were still objects of affection, though the term could have overtones that some might have found in it. The issue was which came FIRST. Here faith was a great pre-eminence (as in Mark 11, for moving mountains). This invoked, and the priorities acknowledged as for the time applied, and the word "first" having been used by Christ, the avenue existed for agreeing, while yet still urging Him; and this succeeded. He sought and found the heart.
Thus with mastery you find pity, with prohibition, you find reasons, with priorities, you find ways and avenues, and with due attention to HIS WORD, you find what in grace He has provided; but you must look for it, and not just blare! Thus His mastery is as far as conceivable, both from dictatorship and manipulable power. He has discretion, love, pity and power, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and depth which is infinite (Psalm 145:3). "His greatness is unsearchable."
Thus if you have a problem, He has a solution IF YOU ARE FIRST HIS. It may require considerable understanding before you can grasp it; but it is there. It may need real application to the word of God, the Bible, but it is there. It may cross your natural inclination, but it is available.
It OFTEN crosses mere desire, or one's taste or preference. Because one is infinitely less than God who is infinitely wise, this is scarcely surprising; and our fall as a race, so eloquently now being shown on TV screen and paper, makes this the more likely. Culture loves to capture; so that even breaking with its bonds can be painful, like removing sticking plaster from a wound. But it has to be done. The apostle Paul in Romans 8:37, writes as follows:
"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."
What things ?
He lists those like tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and the sword ? HOW ? It is through Him who loved us and went to the practical length of being denied life on this earth, even granted death for doing good, and yet using that to do even more good, in dying for sin while being killed. Thus in utter and complete mastery, He used everything thrown at Him, to fulfil the better His loving and most gracious purpose.
He who controls his spirit is better than the one who takes a city. This is achieved through Christ who by HIS Spirit, dwells within each of His people (Colossians 1:27). Two things: never be overwhelmed in sorrow if you fail in anything; and never be overwhelmed with desire when tested. Be overwhelmed instead with the magnificent mastery of mercy which Christ tenders tenderly, and rejoice! Watch and pray with assurance of heart, for He has already spread out His intentions, for millenia past, and duly fulfils them.
Great is our King, who instead of coming down from the cross, USED it, as a resurrection prelude, in all things, master, in nothing, defeated. Live in and with and for Him, for this IS life more abundant, and worthy and noble, and it is His we then share, as a branch that is in the vine. False branches may shrivel, but the true bear fruit, as a consequence of just abiding, which is now their new nature! How glorious that the Christian may say with Paul (Philippians 3:21):
"our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour,
the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body
that it may be conformed to His glorious body,
according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."
MANY false prophets were predicted and have come. On the Islamic variety, and this is really a heresy of Christianity, drawing on Jewish and Christian source, to which various visions are added, for it has a 'christ' both demoted and dislodged from deity in its presentations, and reconfigured the Saviour after some 6 centuries from the new biographies in the head, not headed by evidence of what had happened: see for example the following.
First, Robert Spencer in his work, The Politically Incorrect Guide to ISLAM (and the Crusades), does a fine job of research and exposure.
Again, there are many files on this site concerning this false prophecy. These include:
More Marvels ... Ch. 4, esp. *4,
SMR pp. 50ff., 62ff., 829ff. , 1080
Dancers, Prancers, Lancers and Answers Ch. 3, *1A misconceptions about the Cross, variable and mutually conflicting, on the part of the Koran
Lord of Life Ch. 3 (and force), 1081ff. (and faith), Outrageous Outages ... Ch. 5;
His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 4; 3
Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 9,
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8 (in perspective), see also *1,
See Divine Agenda Chs. 6
with 3 (an overview of religious truancies, including Marx, Darwin and Koran)
and Highway to Hell - (Koran citations in both, with ideational parallels in perspective, in the latter two; and in the former, futile depravities in endless ideologies such as Sudan has shown so significantly, Islam ablaze without glory),
cf. Overflight in Christ Ch. 1 (and the Koran's musings);
1493 (esp. Britain and sharia);
News 138, Beauty for Ashes Chs. 4, 7
Jesus Christ, Defaced, Unfazed: Barrister of Bless Ch. 5,
Acme ... Ch. 9 , Great Execrations ... Ch. 3,
SMR p. 1O88D - three major religions in some ways in concert, astray.
News 138, Beauty for Ashes Chs. 4, 7,
SMR pp. 1074ff., esp. 1079, 1081ff..
On Communism, see:
A useful selection:
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8;
The Grating Grandeur ... Ch. 2; SMR pp. 925ff., 971-972;
Beauty for Ashes Ch. 6 (and Hong Kong, and the movement of nations in the last century a concern),
with News 98, News 37.
A useful larger selection:
Aviary of Idolatry, Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 5,
News 37. 44, 69, 97 (the exploiters, the fanciful,
the Communists, the de-godders and the realities), 98,
News 150 - Taiwan,
The Grating Grandeur and Aggrandisement of Man,
and the Meekness of the Majestic Messiah Ch. 2
Beauty for Ashes Ch. 6 (and Hong Kong, and the movement of nations in the last century a concern),
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8;
SMR pp. 925ff., 971-972;
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 3
(war and force, rising downwards, Tiananmen and truth),
Ch. 4 (liberty, Tiananmen, worship and its direction in time, its terms and code of truth); History, Review and Overview Ch. 1,
Impossible to Men, Open to God Ch. 5
See also Lord of Life Ch. 8.