AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH December 30, 2012
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
WHAT PASSES AND WHAT STAYS
Old and New
THE OLD YEAR
A challenging revelation comes in Psalm 49. In vv. 7-8, we learn that their redemption ceases for ever. We also find that it is costly. The context ? It is that no one can by any means redeem his brother. It would be very tempting if one could; but it simply is not possible: the One to do that is JESUS CHRIST ONLY, as in Matthew 20:28, Acts 4:12. But without that, with this avoided, their redemption ceases for ever. It is a costly thing, and does not sit stolidly as a book in the shelves. It is to be taken, not toyed with. When it is past, like the old year, when the opportunity is gone, it is like the last days of December. They portend Christmas for some weeks, and then, December is gone.
The year is past, good or bad, great and brilliant or calamitous: it is gone past recall. It is unavailable, as are some when you call too late on the telephone. It is not there.
Whatever the religion - including the new Statism to superintend the minds of men, if the Non-Discrimination Bill ever passes to drown Australia more than any flood, not a Bill of Rights but a Bill of Wrongs - unless it be that verified and validated by God*1, it will not help. It too will go, whether Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or the sects. Will much of Australia's political and personal liberty also go ? The Institute of Public Affairs says this of the Bill being offered: "An unprecedented threat to freedom of speech and thought."
The fashion of this world changes, and decades of reckless seeming carelessness with the things most crucial to life, have let Australia inherit such a peril as this, as it toys with same-sex marriage and has trifled with creation in education as if captured by fancy. Indeed the fashion of this world passes away, as Paul notes in I Corinthians 7:31.
Old ways, fashions, thoughts, unless buttressed by Christ, pass away, like a red sunset; but the dawn need not be dismal.
THE EVERLASTING ERA OF REDEMPTION
Some things come to pass away, and it is better so; but some come to endure, and this is wonderful, for the things everlasting are those of God, whose Son death could not hold, Christ irrupting from its clammy hand, a breach birth from mortality, innocent of sin, offering for guilt, donor of grace. Here are ALL THINGS NEW, as in Revelation 21:5, to come externally in heaven, and internally as in II Cor. 5:17ff., when it is not just a new year, but a NEW ERA which is in view, when a person makes peace with his God, and old things have passed away.
In Psalm 49, having told us that the redemption of souls is costly, and will pass away for ever, in verse 7, it proceeds in verse 15 to announce this: "But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me." THAT is the criterion of the new. When you go on a ship to a new continent, as I have done from time to time, you find a NEW environment, the maritime one, and when again you land, it is another new environment, your new home. When God redeems the soul, it comes to a new home, habitat and region of life. It supplants the old, it gives grace and liberty which no government can take away, though they scarify or crucify.
When does it come ? In the fascinating massif of prophecy, Isaiah 53, at verse 10, God having been spoken of as He for some time, is now suddenly seen in the Messiah, and YOU becomes the sinner. The "you" for man continues in the next chapter continually, as it preceded in Ch. 52. WHEN YOU, do what ? "When you make His soul an offering for sin, He will see His seed."
His life did not offer His life, but He did; and when you make of this already "put to grief" person, as in v. 10, an offering for sin, then He will see His child in you! What then ? Christ came to "gave His life as a ransom for sin," (Matthew 20:28), and when any of those to whom His love is directed, initially the whole world as in John 3:16ff., makes of His life an offering for sin, HIS human status extends. NOW, though as Isaiah 53 points out, He had no generation to declare for Himself, being slain without fatherhood, yet WHEN YOU so receive Him, YOU are one of His seed, generation, offspring, a child of God! Always in these Chapters of Isaiah, the appeal, the charge, the offering, is for YOU just as in Isaiah 55 He calls to YOU WHO THIRST! Thus do you become a child of God. He sees the labour of His soul, this suffering life being the offering He makes, and is satisfied (53:11).
HE, having made the offering of this, His soul, the same Hebrew word as in 53:10, now sees of the travail of that same soul, the offering of His own life, and is satisfied. Why ? He has offered it to God; you receive it. It is thus because here YOU respond and receive this, His offered life, and many like you, so that new spiritual children abound. That is an eminent satisfaction, being the very joy that was set before Him! He makes offering of His soul, and this same soul having suffered as sacrifice, He sees of the travail of that soul, and rejoices at its salvation effect, when so received. He is the provider of the life as in Matthew 20:28; His soul is what is provided.
It is offered to all the world, but when it is received, then, then is He satisfied. It was not at all in vain! (cf. Isaiah 49:4-6).
Anyone who takes this offering is part of His own generation, now giving to Him an extensive genealogy! THAT, it is very new, a new generation in a new environment by the Spirit of God, through the word of God; and it stays new in this, that it is never like the old. This is a year passing, our current date changing from 2012 to 2013; but that is a way of life passing, an eternity arriving and what ceases for ever, now no longer missed. You have then gained forever. How beautifully it is put in Isaiah 54, which follows this revelation. Let us take Isaiah 54:8-10.
" 'With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,'
Says the LORD, your Redeemer.
'For this is as the waters of Noah to Me;
'For as I have sworn
That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth
So have I sworn
That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,'
Says the LORD, who has mercy on you."
Such is His kindness (Titus 2-3) to those who ARE His new generation (as in Psalm 22:30 and I Peter 2:9). It is very new like the year, but never grows old as that does.
COMPARE THE CHARTERS
Death, however, uncovered, like radioactive waste, is not so kind. It needs the antidote. Look now at its loathsome state, when unadorned with redemption, in Psalm 49:14: "Death shall feed on them." On the contrary, for those who have received the gift of the everlasting righteousness of Christ, "The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning." Indeed, the way of the foolish (and remember the foolish five virgins, amid the ten!), "their beauty shall be consumed in the grave." Beauty is of God, who made both the sky for it and the eye for it; and only in Him can it be rescued from death, in a new body, for a new epoch when at last the resurrection comes, to complete the redemption, this time of the body (Romans 8:30).
In Him, immortality has arrived, new, but fitting for man from of old; and like the first body, it comes by creation from God, at His word. When Christ is received, not only is their a new time, like a new undying year of grace, but there is a "new man," whose chief environment is God, whose Director and Guide, Saviour and help is Christ Jesus, and whose animating power is the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16, Romans 8:1-10). There is now contest, but the spiritually reborn spiritual athlete meets it, being told:
"Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and ... put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness," Ephesians 4:22-24.
A new year ? yes but more importantly a "new man" to be put on, a new way of thinking, meeting trial, finding truth and peace, in the shepherd's domain, alert to duty, open-eyed to responsibility, one endued with spiritual power and equipped with spiritual peace, knowing God and finding in Him the blessings of eternity. The LEADER, it is the Messiah, Jesus the Christ (Isaiah 55:4), and THIS is the leader foretold of old, as new as the day and past all bounds, newly fresh for all time. Follow the leader was an old child's game; but it is a strong work for the children of God, who need no other leader for their souls; and indeed, other name for it there is none! (Acts 4:12).
Citizenry in the Kingdom of Heaven does not require a boat, nor a breach to arrive on foreign soil, but is permanently conferred, better than any permanent residency, on the children of God whose lives Christ has paid for (Philippians 3:20-21, Ephesians 1;11). Therefore as in Philippians 3:12-15, "press forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, and "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead," like Paul, "lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me!"
Of all written works claiming God directly as their author, only one is testable categorically and continually, and only one meets the test in the same way. God has not left us without a witness. Of all living persons who have inhabited this earth, only one has left us with a vast testimony concerning works neither seen nor heard before, with their character foretold and fulfilled, and concerning words, with illimitable personal penetration and direct authority. The former is the Bible, and the latter, Jesus Christ.
It Bubbles ... Ch. 9, *1A in the context of
SMR, TMR and Deity and Design ..., together with
Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ,
Who Answers Riddles And Where He is, Darkness Departs.