AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH January 24, 2010
Continuing the work of the Australian Presbyterian Union (1901),
following the Lord without Compromise
and the Bible without Qualification,
In the Way of Righteousness, There is No Death -
with Proverbs 11:7, 13:8, 8:18-19, Matthew 20:28, Romans 10:2-9.
Don't Take Death by the Spoonful, Take Life by the FLOOD
What joy it is to savour the word of God! Take Proverbs 12:28, for example, and then see it in the whole context of the Bible! "In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death."
Life without death ? the life for humans as defined by God in His holiness, without death ? What more could you ask, God being God and full of a lovely and holy righteousness, pity, mercy and fatherly compassion, as well as being strength to the upright! Death does not HAVE ANY PLACE in its pathway.
It is useless to protest that death is one of the most common maladies for man, and that few have escaped it (exceptions being Enoch and Elijah). You say, What about Christ ? did He not escape it ? Yes, but with Him, only after doing what neither Enoch nor Elijah did nor could do. He faced it and then outfaced it. How could justice possibly allow the criterion of righteousness, its source and power, to stay dead. As Peter says in Acts 2:24, Christ who died put to death an impossibility: It was simply not possible that death should hold Him!
In Proverbs 13:8,
we find that
"the ransom of a man's life is his riches," and earlier we find this defined, in Proverbs 8:18-19:
"Riches and honour are with Me, enduring riches and righteousness."
"My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver."
This is not enough, for He continues,
"I traverse the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice,
that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth,
that I may fill their treasuries."
What treasures are these, but those which are "durable", which last, which do not take wings as wealth does ? They are those of wisdom, seen in Proverbs 8 as the eternal Word of God, as One always in a filial relationship with Him (8:30), as confirmed in John 1:1, 8:58, 5:19ff.. That One, made flesh, is given as "a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).
What does He provide ? Now since the devil cannot exact payment for sin, being merely a controversialist, a contrary quantity, seeking to quantify sin and bring down the saints, opposing God, to what does the payment, the ransom of Christ go ? It goes to two addresses. The first is the sating, the satisfaction for sin (II Corinthians 5:17-20), and the second is to the accounts of Christians, into which His righteousness pours like an ocean, indeed this is what Paul calls "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8). Not only is it guilt's cover, but God's gift of Himself. Grace reigns, "through righteousness to eternal life," Romans 5:21.
These not only comprise an account of illimitable right standing with God, vicariously produced by Christ's death for us who believe and have believed and will believe (Romans 5:17), but that we be "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man", given a grounding through faith in this same Christ, and that with a comprehending of the love of God, its dimensions surpassing knowledge as a ransoming death attests.
For what man with a thousand million would give it to ransom a son or daughter; but what man gives His life to ransom. But if he does, what man dies in excruciating horror to do so, but even if he does, who in infinite purity tastes the entire woe of sin's guilty shame, in order to extract the poison from the heart of man, Himself its butt! Who ? why Jesus Christ is He: and small wonder that in HIS paths there is no death.
Those paths, then, have two parallel lanes. One is that for the clearing of the mess of sin, and the other is the highway of righteousness of which Isaiah speaks in Isaiah 35. One is the extraction of evil, and the other is the production for those plying the way as pilgrims, of the way of righteousness in which now freely to walk. Thus in Proverbs 11:7, we read this:
"When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of the unjust perishes,"
but in 12:28, this,
"In the way of righteousness there is life, and in its pathway, there is no death", so that
"the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise" -
Small wonder then that
"the way of the Lord is strength to the upright", and that
"the righteous will never be moved" (10:30),
for as Psalm 49:14-15 divulges, as to the wicked,
"Like sheep they are laid in the grave, death shall feed on them;
the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning;
and their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling.
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grace, for He shall receive me."
that redemption - Psalm 49:22,
"the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever"
The REASON for this is that "none can by any means redeem his brother" (49:7), but
"God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave."
ONCE God redeemed (Hebrews 9), and ONCE He died for sin, having come for the purpose in the flesh as man. That past, that forgotten, that ignored, reviled, mocked, disdained, then THERE IS NO MORE! The redemption of their souls ceases forever!
Just as, therefore, there is a brimming cup of beauty and wonder for those who receive the righteousness of expiation of guilt and provision of goodness in the highway of holiness, being both covered and quitted, and given entrance to that highway freely, so there is nothing but barrenness and horror of death to those who despise beauty, hate goodness, ignore life or seek to transform themselves by their own words, works, worries, provisions, inventions or disputations. You take it or it leaves you. It is as simple as that.
The Flood of Righteousness, of Faith and of Doom
But what does Proverbs 8:35-36 say, as that Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 1:30) speaks ? It is this:
"For whoever finds Me, finds life, and obtains favour from the Lord;
but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
all those who hate me love death."
Life, that translucent, that light-filled, that wonder of abundance of vigour and vitality and design and purpose, imagination, fascination and innovation, skill and engineering felicity, artistic creation and mathematical marvel, filling the earth with its exuberance and rebuking it with its plagues, LIFE, you find THIS, from Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God (I Cor. 1:24)! Not only so, you not only gain access to what life is meant to be and can be and should be for man, when you find this wonderful offering of wisdom in the very midst of the removal of the guilt of sin, here is the way one "obtains favour from the Lord."
To be happily and blessedly related to the Lord of life and God of our creation, as redeemed, delivered, complete in Christ, and to have a discovering relationship with Him as He anoints you with blessing, while you are "watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors," this is a thing of splendour. It is revelation in righteousness, and companionship in life, from its source! We are not now in the nurture of philosophers, but in the bosom of God.
Small wonder that David refers to the words and ways of God as "sweeter than honey and the honeycomb" while Proverbs 8 tells us "My fruit is better than gold, yes than choice silver". It is not surprising then that Paul directs our attention to the "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8), for there is no end, in eternal life, to the brilliance of the Lord, His majesty and purity, His kindness and His mercy, His triumphant and earned gift. Indeed, it was earned by Him who was "delivered up for our offences and raised up for our justification" (Romans 4:25).
Can you then see Him walking on this earth after His resurrection, telling them to meet Him in Galilee, as He also advised them to do, before His death (Matthew 26:32, 28:10), just as He told Philip to go into the desert in the very midst of an evangelistic campaign in Samaria, a thing of great sensitivity and success. Similarly, the Lord told Paul to go to the street called Straight for his next directions from God, and again, to continue stay in Corinth, since the Lord had many there (Acts 18:9-10), indeed summoned him, saying, "speak, and do not keep silent". How blessed is such a challenge, indeed what joy in such a work!
Can you begin to realise that He who made life and realised its sin, and released for us that underlying and girding righteousness that strengthens, and is the hand clasp of joy, is THERE, alive, available, potent, friendly, incapable of confusion or manipulation, Himself! In His gift is righteousness, that is not only keeping the right way, but being sustained in the love of Christ, for the "righteous Lord loves righteousness" (Psalm 11:7). In this He gives us relish, for "it is joy to the just to do justice" or work righteousness in all its ways, as the Hebrew word chosen, there shows (Proverbs 21:15).
Small wonder then that Paul could speak of the abundance of the divine power like this:
Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us,"
and again, how he had
laboured greatly in the Lord,
"but not I, but the grace of God which was with me," (I Cor. 15:10).
But just as the Lord floods the ways of life with abundance (John 7:37), and springs up in us who have His life in Christ, with liberality (John 4:14), so that we never thirst again, so there is a tempestuous flood for what insists on unrighteousness, resists the truth and lies fallow without redemption, as in Daniel 9:26, where it shows Jerusalem receiving a flood of retribution following the crucifixion of their own mercy, the Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Indeed, Daniel's prophecy there goes on speaking of desolations to come.
Similarly, as II Peter shows, 3:5-6, it was by a flood that the ancient world perished, and likewise the devil, as we see in Revelation 12:15, cast out his evil waters to seek to drown the righteous in Christ, though mercifully the earth swallowed up THAT flood! Indeed, does not Christ speak of the days before the world-wide flood, in which men were unquestioning, blind to their doom, in comparing that with this, our own Age! (Matthew 24:37ff.). When the flood of judgment comes at last (Revelation 20, Acts 17:31), then there is nowhere to stand.
The Rock above the Flood, in which there IS NO DEATH
Life, it is eternal for those who receive Him whose it is, Jesus Christ. We should remember that He and His words are inseparable. This attempt is, in effect, now being made by many who speak of Him as Lord, to sever His lips and cut out His tongue of divinity, who speak "great swelling words of vanity" (II Peter 2:18), having "forsaken the right way" (II Peter 2:15), as predicted is mere a request for the flood of judgment, not this time with water, but fire, in its superabundance and vehemence.
And what is it that He says of building your life on Him and His words, as in Matthew 7:24ff., but that this is the way to avoid ANY storm, any undermining of foundations, for He IS the foundation (I Corinthians 3:11); and he who is founded on Him will never founder (John 5:24). There, soaring above all floods, is this magnificent Rock, Jesus Christ, who as Paul declares in I Corinthians 10, was that rock which accompanied the children of Israel in the desert. Thus when Moses struck the rock, physically, it represented the striking of Christ, as foretold in Micah 5:1-3, that Eternal Word of God, and from this, His vicarious atonement, came 'water', even the water of life that of love and grace and pardon, abundant as it is, which works in the beauty of holiness, sustaining in cleanness and pulsing with purity.
Thus, just as there is no OTHER ROCK (II Samuel 22:32-33, Isaiah 44:8, Psalm 18), so in THIS ROCK there is safety, eternal security, strength and a hiding place from folly, a recourse for strength and a joy in His everlasting power!
No flood can reach up to its heights, no evil can erode its eternal glory, and in Him is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4).Though He crushes to powder what in the end, wilfully confronts Him (Matthew 21:44), yet those who know the entrance to Him (Psalm 18, Exodus 32:22) and find Him, find what even the departure of this earth, cannot touch; for that, it is one of His creations, just as the Christian is another (II Corinthians 4), a 'new creation'.
Those who depart from the Lord will not see life (John 3:36), but those who know Him, these shall not see death (John 11:25-26). It is quite literally a matter of life and death. As to life, its ways are those of righteousness and as to death, it is a freeway to hell that its ways follow. Thus, "in the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death;" but as to unrighteousness, of which unbelief is the height, putting its own righteousness not only in place of that of God (Romans 10:3), but this despite Christ who laid down His life to make up the difference, what do we find ? It is this: "he who sins against me wrongs his own soul: all those who hate Me love death." Such is the word of the wisdom of God (Proverbs 8:36). in whom are enduring riches, those of righteousness.
How amazingly similar are these verses in the two Testaments, Proverbs 8:36 and John 3:36! All that hate Me, love death, says the one; he who does not believe, says the other, on him the darkness broods, the wrath of God. How gloriously different are the two ways, and what a wonder of wonders, in that blessed, NO DEATH! We can hear of no profit, no gain, no joy, no peace, but this, NO DEATH! Here is the licence for joy and the fulfilment of life. Endure and enjoy it, for there are tests. Believe, and have it for ever, for our God is a God of grace, love and mercy, and none who comes to Him will He cast out (John 6:37). Cast away then all doubt, and do; give place to all sin and find in Him the fund of favour! Never equivocate, never qualify or compromise: in Christ is all your hope, help and health.