AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
December 11, 2011
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
in accord with the thrust of the Constitution of 1901
of the Presbyterian Church of Australia
The All-encompassing Grandeur
of God in His Glory
Overwhelmed by the sheer scope and munificence, the boundless bounty of the lavishly liberal God, in His giving and presentations, David calls on his soul, his communing self-conscious life, indeed he extends it, saying "all that is within me," let it bless His holy name. Thus girding himself to leave no part out, in his soul's delight in the Lord, and EXPRESSION of that delight, he also wants to ensure that NO PART of His benefits be forgotten or ignored.
His Vast Benefits
"Forget not all His benefits." Faced with fault, in His people, He forgives (just as we are challenged to forgive others at the end of the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6), and forgives all. He heals all your diseases. This David had found, and great were his trials and tribulations, perils and conflicts, privations at first and persecutions. While for all saints all diseases are not in practice always cleared up, as in the case of Paul noted in II Corinthians 12, if this be so, it is for good reason. Thus in the case of the apostle, so great were his benefits, powers and privileges with God that lest his head swelled and his heart grew gross, he was by a 'thorn in the flesh', an affliction, kept in check. In the case of Job, it was a specified part of his trial, to show that he was not a self-seeking, self-serving cynic whose only interest in God was what he could get out of it, as if on a commercial basis, this much in, that much out.
NO disease is beyond the Lord, and in the midst of His enormous strategies to bring man to heel, to repentance, to wisdom before he is ready to destroy his very world rather than repent (as is coming to be the case, as predicted in Matthew 24:22, sin literally stopping at nothing), He can and often does heal beyond what could even be imagined. He relieves the distress as in Psalm 107, when folly has caught the heart, foolishness the mind and waywardness the spirit; and for just such cases, there He challenges man to praise the Lord and acknowledge the great goodness of the Lord, instead of hiding hatred or unbelief in some foppish form or invented procedure. It is for the heart to speak, and the mind to order its thoughts aright.
The Lord "redeems your life from destruction", David proceeds. Destruction is our due. Often one finds this thought. If civilisation in its child-abuse, slave-abuse, religious pretence to forward rights abuse, civic authority to squash reasonable desires instead of finding how to meet them, God-abuse, in the form of dismissal with smirks when the folly is found in His denial, who made the power to have rational thought in the first place, for no chance can invent what is not there ... at all: if this proceeds, in the divine mercy the time comes when He answers the question, Would it be better REMOVED, instead of perpetuating horror and distress! Sodom He removed, for good reason, as also the North of Israel, this becoming the alien Samaria. Judah was exiled for 70 years a little later. Further, Babylon was smashed to nothingness (as foretold in Isaiah 13:19), with Nineveh, as predicted in Obadiah, and Tyre as in Ezekiel 26. Dramatically in the case of Tyre, in His judgment, duly fulfilled, came this sentence: "And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD."
It is a wonder to be redeemed from destruction:
1) bodily, in
the resurrection to come with the return of the Resurrected Jesus Christ
2) in mind, in the renewal of the Spirit of God, which embraces,
3) in spirit (Titus 3), where guilt departs with guile, and truth
forms like an ocean,
4) from hell, that infernal given substitute with the
Indeed, so great is that deliverance that the dismissal of destruction is a forerunner to the Lord who "crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies." What was out of place, is placed outside, and what was not in place, now occupies it not as an occupying force, lordly in its take-over, but as a pitiful Father, glorious sovereign, source of meaning and object of desire, the founder of life, dashing to pieces what confounds and founding one on ROCK, even Christ (I Corinthians 10), God being the ONLY Rock for life (Psalm 62).
Moreover, when the asthenic, the weak comes to disrelish life, He is able to bring fatness to the soul, renewing one's life like the eagle's. Where pride or apathy strikes, then weakness may ensue; but what joy He can give as if virtually to intoxicate with the elixir of youth (103:5), even when age reminds that this phase is drawing to a close (as in Isaiah 40:26ff.). He can indeed teach one things not foreseen, like an eagle, tossing its chicks on outspread wings, teaching them to fly with a solicitude and realism mixed (Deuteronomy 32:11-12).
His Magnificent Mercy
In Its Scope
Firstly, the Lord, despite the fallen and squalid state of much of the peoples of this earth, "executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed." Where His name is denied, so His grace may be missed; but when the Hebrews of old were as a covenantal people, made into slaves following the fantastic gifts Egypt received through Joseph's rule under Pharaoh, a degradation occurring with new rulers, God took thought for them. Indeed, He manufactured a mission through Moses not only bringing them out of slavery but far from the enslaving land. In a non-theocratic land like our own, there is no such covenantal relationship to God, though it IS true that our Constitution has a Pre-amble which, whatever its legal standing, states that the States agreed to unite as one Commonwealth IN DEPENDENCE ON GOD-ALMIGHTY. Nor is there any question, in the then still cordially Britain-related land, which 'god' they had in mind.
That is one of the significant facts about all this talk on changing our Constitution. It is made to appear multi-cultural and good and all that; but in fact, if it is going to make each equal, then special privileges by race would not be tolerated, though they currently apply to a large degree. It is not law which is needed, but compassion mixed with intelligence and objective morals such as formally obtained in earlier times. It is useless to call that compassion with degrades and kills; and indeed an aboriginal leader has excoriated the practice of making mere dependents who have no challenge.
While a people who had some parts of Australia before us are by some made into some kind of religious ferment, with special impartation privileges, so that through this, an entirely different religion takes off, making anything as good as anything else in 'nature' amidst all, Australia tends to lose all character and to become the plaything of whoever and whatever wants to put its great or depraved foot in our land. Thus it is more and more divorcing from what coincided with its former greatness and solvency, in a falling phase of mere transformation by slackness. ITS benefits like those of any other kind of slackness, are that the slippery slope leads to that crushed, crashed meaninglessness where this or that moral or racial or civil germ flourishes to make a national pandemic, leading to deserved destruction. That, it is almost the norm for many a nation, forgetting its base and becoming base itself, in both senses of the term.
However, where the people draw near to God, and His ways do exalt a nation (Proverbs 14:34), then as in Dunkirk, before much of the moral ruin that has afflicted Britain especially in its relationship with the Common Market, you find great deliverances. Indeed, great were those both for Britain and the USA, for many a year, before decline became a passion and alteration towards relativistic seediness became de rigueur for many. Where, however, the Lord's ways are made known, there is an approach to righteousness and His delight in it.
Slow to anger is He (which you see in how long so many were delivered amid peoples, individuals and nations), even amid growing evidences of falling, as from a high crag to the rocky base; but the time comes (Amos 4). He does not always strive, we read; His is not a mere desire for a meaningless rigour but for a real righteousness, not founded on illusion, but on Him who made us and knows what He is about. Indeed, each Christian knows this, that "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities," Psalm 103:10.
In Its Profundity
How great is the mercy of the Lord ? In height, "as the heavens are high above the earth." In distance ? "as far as the East is from the West" has He "removed our transgressions from us." How personal is this mercy ? It is "as a father pities his children." While great and gross are unnatural follies even among parents, and amid States, which dare to tell them how NOT corporally to discipline at all and as now is becoming more common amid a besotted culture, likewise to use drugs to deal with wrong channeling of children's ways, as with attention deficits and the like, there is a better way. It relates to the natural tenderness and affection, care and responsibility of parents towards their young, prominent even amid magpies who do not let their babes tumble up, but bring them up. Mixed with truth, this is a continuing wonder.
If it is unnatural for a father to misuse his children rather than care tenderly for them, how much more is it so with the God of all creation, when HE deals with His own special children whose faith in Him began in repentance, was founded in truth, based on redemption, covered with mercy, stretching, as is becoming for the Eternal God, TO eternity (as in I John 3:1-3). In these, His adopted children, His "seed" remains, as surely as Jones or Brown seed remain in the physical being of such as bear those names (cf. John 5:24, Ephesians 1:11).
While pretence is always noxious, and superficial dreaming is no substitute for any kind of reality (Hebrews 6:4), nor is tasting swallowing, nor touching finding, nor knowing about the truth the same as receiving it (Hebrews 10:26-29), it is still true that what by faith takes His covenant in His own blood, trusting not man but God, this in the day of His coming (John 6:51,54, 4:14), He will raise up, vindicated and victorious through His life (Matthew 20:28, Colossians 3:1-3, Philippians 3:20ff.). It is SUCH a challenge to mean thinking: the MORE you rely on Him only, the MORE you gain of Him altogether, and when you try to supplement the basis of your salvation, you merely deny it (as in Romans 10). Affirming it, you grow.
It is WHEN you are saved that works abound with joy, WHEN you are planted that fruit becomes relevant! (Matthew 15:13).To try to FIND salvation through your contribution of will (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:1-10) or any other current part of you, however, is to risk becoming co-saviour and mere worker of folly. Since He desires all (Colossians 1:19ff.), it is necessary in repentance to trust Him ALSO for His willingness beyond your own will, and simply CALL on Him, knowing there is no mystery about His mind to man, and that it is not man but his irreconcilability that He hates, with man trying to make himself acceptable in himself, or by himself, slighting the Gospel, walking in pride or pretence, heart amiss. Those who do not merely give to Christ their calling card, but call on Him in faith as Lord above all people, trust Him as Saviour above all including themselves, rely on His mercy and being regenerate, KNOW God (John 17:1-3), who being His children, rest in Him (Matthew 11:27ff.): These are equipped with eternal life (Hebrews 6:19, 9:12,10-10-14, John 4:14). HE is their anchor!
It is a thirsty site, hell, but there is no thirst for those who once drink of the water He gives, eat of the bread or take His sacrificial offering to heart by faith (John 6:62-63), for on these, He has conferred eternal life, His body and blood the necessary entry fee. It is these whom HE, being Himself therefore risen, raises up at the last day (John 6:51-58), who having once so eaten and quenched their thirst, are moved to continue as a life in Him, so to imbibe and to feed, faith in His bodily resurrection the catapult to trust! (John 6:54, Romans 10:9). As He abided in His Father, so these abide in Him (John 5:24). There is no treachery in truth, nor mud in His mercy. What a Father God is, and what a Saviour is Christ, the Christ of God, "the Lord's Christ"! (Luke 2:26).
We still at least have no difficulty in knowing what the love and cherishing of parents towards their young MEANS! Like that is the tender-hearted pity of the Lord, who sees and seeks for His children, born again by His Spirit and word into His kingdom (John 3, I Peter 1:23,Titus 2-3, I John 3).He knows those who have a reverential trust in Him, who relish His authority and delight in His wisdom (Ps. 103:13-14). Not His are weird notions about the nations or individuals, for He knows how we were fashioned from the elements as chemical basis, and inhabited with spirit as a living mode. He is not some kind of self-filled zealot, like many socialists, who dictate their will, often divorced from God and acting as if to replace Him, or Communists, who kill for conformity, or sects, which instil their own personal authority into what could have been churches, and make new notions the rule. God Himself does not alter, nor does His word, nor does His way for man: it is intensively merciful, and not without discipline and pity (James 5:11, Heb. 12, Ps. 102).
His Covenantal Faithfulness and Strength for Obedience
"His kingdom rules over all," (Psalm 103:19) and what doubts it has many opportunities such as that classic in the case of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4), to find it out! He is very deep and the superficial parodies of Him and His authority which man sets up have become intensively oppressive, disruptive, draining and dictatorial, often fearful of free speech, or even removing it on specious pretexts. In a little (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5), that will become most obvious (Psalm 2, 72, Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11), but amid the lavish freedoms given to man, He still teaches these things amid our ceaseless calamities, and brings pause to the corruptive arrogance that so soon sweeps over man and his governments, like a misty haze dangerous to shipping in the early morning. He knows man's weakness and yet apportions His own strength to His own people, to endure, to understand, to attest Him, while the divine drama comes to its last act. To children's children His covenantal mercies rush ahead, like scouts in a new territory, even for all who realise His truth and are bound to His will and ways, freely by love, joyfully by faith.
This they do in mercy and pity, in compassion and in dutiful courage, if by any means any may even now be found - if you will, in the byways and in the hidden places. Strength He gives (Ephesians 3:16), and those who find this (Acts 5:32), let them also "bless the Lord," even His angels and missionaries, servants and disciples, to whom God gives His Spirit, doing His word. Do not even professional doctors have keys and paradigms to follow; how much more the word of God for those who fear Him, and love Him, and delight in Him, not cutting off His mouth in some figment, but loving every word of it. Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.