AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH March 20, 2011
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
SPIRITUAL ORIENTEERING - Psalm 33
Japan's recent devastation and
ongoing drama leads to the question of evaluation: what is left, what is
to be done, who is to do what, and why! The directive for nuclear
workers to stay at their posts shows the depths of such questions and
tends to expose their bases! Tragedy may thus become profitable, leading to
ultimate questions which may in the mercy of the Lord, yet find answers which
are mightily available in Jesus Christ. Let us then do now some spiritual
Rejoice and Praise God, the Changeless God with new praise
God's way, His work is right, done in truth, love of righteousness and justice
His Word created, transformed and concluded the universe.
There is the silent speech of Psalm 19:1-3 - implication.
There is the creative speech in instituting heavens, earth,
then image-of God-life-on-earth, man - manifestation.
There is counselling speech - information.
There is conclusive speech - activation.
His Commands constituted the ground of creation in sovereign majesty:
While Contesting Counsels of Unbelief Fail,
His Counsel Stands Forever.
The Empire of Assyria, Babylon, Tyre, Rome, USSR, Ottomans ...
some are buried, some are humiliated. Apparently Bin Laden feels the
'humiliation' of World War I, and has dreams of old lands before these were
stripped at the end of that war.
Alas, even the
British Empire, as such,
having endured much for long, and started with new vision,
mixed its ideals,
softened its calling,
merged its morals, more recently with EU involvement,
is now all but ... no more. It is not the edifices which remain,
but what underlies them, and it is the extent to which the word of God
has underlain it which is their glory,
or in increasing absence in this case, their shame:
it is the extent of their dulness
which becomes blight, instead of transmitting light,
as the surfaces of operations lose their brightness.
Some never learn
and have to be ushered out till they are gone.
This has been the lot of many nations, inflamed against God,
seeking to roll their own deities, indifferent, mere flashes of power.
It is God who has the last word with all nations. Biblically, what is foretold, is.
Thus in one sense, 'the last word' is the first word. Thus He is both Alpha
and Omega, the First and the Last, and you see this latter of Jesus Christ,
in Revelation 2:8. It is He who speaks from eternity into time, and rules it,
who is to be worshipped. Other worship is vain, empty, unempirical, without
More categories for worship come, but this starts the ground.
Nation, with this at heart, is blessed of the Lord (cf. Psalm 144:11-15),
whose counsel does not fly with time, but is constant
Whether this be the remnant of Israel yet to come to Christ
or the body of Christ as it now is (Romans 12, I Peter 2), an inheritance is theirs.
For the one, .Israel, there comes first the geographic as promised,
a divine counsel of faithfulness and testimony (Micah 4, 7, Genesis 17:7-8, Ezekiel 37), just as for one and all, there comes that which does not pass when the earth does (Eph. 1:11, Matthew 24:35), for that is imperishable amid all that perishes (I Cor. 15), the summit of calling (Romans 8:28ff.), the consummation of life for believers in Him who made it.
Many are the opportunities for nations, as you see in Acts 17:26-27, for scope and Gospel impact come strangely and suddenly at times, while at others, there is a build up of godliness amid nations in a movement of the Spirit, as occurred over the 16th and 17th century in England, where inspirations and insights, restorations and revivals occurred in their own deep way, with reciprocity from Europe, and much was renewed in many places, with potential realised later for the changing of nations, as occurred in parts of the British Empire and of England, amid the clangour and the resistance, the hypocrisy and the opportunism of many.
With the contra-revolutionary impact of the Wesleys, who promoted one of the heart before all else before God, and of Whitefield, whose emphasis was solemn on the sovereignty of God, past all the ephemeral transitions of man, so that some balance was secured, there came in due course into the 19th century such an efflorescence and bloom, that Dr Edwin Orr devoted works to its exposition. Revivals became vast and impelling, almost taking over communities entire in the USA, and making vast impact in Britain, Scotland and Wales.
Great were the buds, and some of the blooms were wonderful; but the black spot of sin interrupted the wonders, while ludicrous 'scholarship', immersed in ignorance, expounded the wickedness of the deceitful heart of man both with some measure of truth as to its depth, in Freud, who though obsessed and pre-occupied with procedures, and whose theories lack logic*1, at least saw something of the depth of depravity to which man without Christ is heir.
WHAT lay in man's heart was only too obviously portrayed, in its actual and broad scope first in World War I and as if this sickening ditch for the flaming idealism on the part of many of the young were not enough, next in World War II, where convenience surpassed contrition and morality, so that one dictator was played against another, with vast and infamous folly visited forcibly for over 40 years on Europe.
Amid all these vast perturbations of nations, warring as Christ foretold, with the pillar of vapour as foretold by Joel and confirmed by Peter at Pentecost, seen at Hiroshima in apt fulfilment of its prominent prophetic focus, this one of the most obvious signs that the end of the Gospel Age is approaching, there have been strong spiritual movements. Thus prominent have been some wonderful works in missions, just as there have been betrayals even of what missions are all about, as happened at Princeton Seminary in the early years of the 20th century, when manipulations enabled that body to leave the Bible as its sole assured source of doctrine, and amid many sects, the USA moved vigorously to the rebellion from the Lord which is increasingly obvious in high places.
Not least of these is to be found in the current Presidency which not only declares holy that anti-Christ book, the Koran, but guarantees that the USA would neve make war on Islam. If this means that it would not defend itself against force from that source of world-power thrust*2, it is a folly of capitulation; just as the effort to work with Islamic bodies in its self-defence in Afghanistan probably led to the escape of its assailant, bin Laden Enterprises Ltd.. As to the book that body uses, it is founded on no sustainable rationale and borrowing heavily from Christian and Old Testament sources, repeatedly uses force for the completion of its religious aspirations*2. Yet the USA once more is making foolish combinations with what is far from righteousness as it did with the USSR and authorities in Vietnam, with Iraq at first, to smother Iran. If the Lord is not in front, the nation falls behind.
Thus the configuration of the nations changes, and violence is becoming endemic, almost pervasive amid the nations (cf. Revelation 6).
Let us however return to some of the positive aspects of missions absorbed indeed in Christ. Let us take Taiwan where a work wrought in no small measure through a very small woman, Lillian Dickson, wife of Presbyterian missionary in that land, became a national feature, vast in its ministries to lepers, the aboriginal hill people, orphans, strays, sick, impoverished. The practicality of these ministries was as real as the simplicity of procedure, where a heart of compassion and a bent for know how, led to gifts of land and funds as needed, to enable such an elaboration of works in the power of the Lord, as almost to beggar belief. One singular instance must suffice. Her husband having seen the enormous need of the hill people on one occasion, and having his own work to do, declared that he felt great need for someone to send. Why not send me! said his wife.
Once in the more remote hilly country, which had tended to be made separate in no small measure, she heard of a chief who was persecuting Christians, a large man. Since he was asleep in bed, when she was on this particular missionary journey, she shook him to awaken him, and confronted him, telling him that if he did not cease to persecute Christians, very serious things would happen. He ceased doing it! Physically, it appears she was less than 5 feet tall...
Thus a whole nation can readily be blessed through a work of missions, of Gospel teaching, and apparent total falls can become gardens of grace. BLESSED is the people who know the Lord. Blessed are they who, in the process, receive Him, as Queen Elizabeth of World War II fame for her spritely spirit, attested she personally had done.
Thus not only are nations in view, but Individuals have a personal fashioning of the heart; their works, for each one, are considered as the Lord moves, with perfect knowledge.
Their help as given, is not for the purpose of promoting strength for vainglory,
pomp or power for self-elevation or self-reliance:
the all-important eye of the Lord
has another criterion for both individual person and nation.
His concern is for those
a) who fear Him
b) who hope in His mercy, to deliver them from death.
This is seen in Psalm 2 at the final, international level, with advice
accordingly to those who think to 'manage' it, the exalted 'judges' with those similarly uplifted in spirit.
It is found also, in the personal level in Isaiah 26:19, where each who is His
is bodily resurrected, as also in Psalm 17, and at the pastoral level
in Psalm 23. In Hosea 13:14 and Psalm 22, we see the cost to the Almighty,
no distant sovereign but nearer than hands and feet, to so deliver (Galatians 6:14).
Personal Application 20-21
OUR living soul
waits on the Lord to help and shield us. It is so for each of us (33:15,18),
each living heart gripped.
We will rejoice in Him because we have trusted in His holy name. There are no surrogates or proxies: each comes, knows, acts. To be with God has no distancing mechanism: it is direct.
The cry is for divine mercy to be upon the supplicants
just as they trust in Him, and there is also this application,
in proportion as they trust
in Him, that is, it is in this style: 'as ... so'.
Thus in Matthew 8:8, you see Christ telling the man that according to his faith, so it is done to him:
"as you have believed, so let it be done to you."
You see a parallel concept in "according to the measure of faith" or "in proportion to our faith," spoken of New Testament prophecy as a general feature, in Romans 12:6. Mark 11 makes it clear that if in faith you address a mountain, telling it to go into the sea, it will do so. Mountains are definable by the word in accord with faith, and where promises are concerned, none is too big! Faith is however to be distinguished from presumption, where what is NOT promised is merely assumed, without prayerful, careful, biblical undergirding.
Holy living is godly living and godly living is based on biblical faith, centred in Jesus Christ. It is inalienable, just as He is immutable; and blessed indeed are those whom He has chosen as HIS inheritance (Ephesians 1:11-14, I Peter 1:5ff.,I John 5:11ff.). Blessed are all His people!
Holiness is the antidote to holocaust; happiness is the resultant of salvation which is the antidote to angst; peaceableness of heart is the repulse provided for misplaced militancy; and truth is the restorative for fainting minds. It does not change, the truth; the diseases for its forsaking can be ever more forlorn, and the maunderings from this omission more and more widespread: but the reality does not alter, God does not change. The rules do not cease their course, and the wonder of His divine grace, which accepts on faith through grace in Christ, who HIMSELF and Himself ALONE did all the works for salvation (Galatians 3, Ephesians 2), does not shrink (Galatians 1, 6:14).
Salvation is non-shrink, and its rejection does not alter it, its wonder or its plain magnificence and munificence: mock as any may or will, masquerading as themselves good, and finding no need of their source, in their pride. That, it is a most excellent preparation for downfall, a destructive and ultimately devastating delirium of dream and desire, that can end only in disillusion at cost.
Rejoicing in the Lord and praising Him, hoping in His mercy as One who delivers His people from meaninglessness, but not from suffering, from weakness, but not from the work of testimony to truth, from tepidity and turbulence, but not from the need for courage and constancy: this is the way to make all tragedy tractable, and life lovable and, pleasing the Lord, to have His solicitude and guidance.
Rejoice and Praise God, therefore, the Changeless God with new praise
Spiritual Refreshings ... Ch. 9, incl. End-note 1 (esp. programmatic psychology and its ilk),
Marvels of Predestination Ch. 7, including *1;
News 80; 44,
Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Extension 1 ;
The True God has God, Gives Growth and Glory Ch. 2,
Islam has had the propensity to make second class citizens of those who submit themselves to its submission demands, often requiring virtual affiliation, recognition of superiority, various forms of abasement, such as being tolerated and made ready for assault if they violate any of the submission requirements. Repeatedly victory over physical foes was elevated to spiritual triumph, and spiritual rewards were to be reaped for such physical prowess. Paradise was not too much for results of this kind. War if in view, had to be prosecuted till all acknowledged Allah.
As a religion using force in the arena of faith, it is automatically disqualified, since faith is conviction, not compulsion, and victory does not alter truth, merely giving more scope for lie or attestation. Where truth is concerned, its own measures relate: logic, evidence, the rational, the empirical, and the nature of the testimony in review. In this only the Bible attests itself, on all sides. It does so at the level of deity consistently.
On these things see:
SMR pp. 50-71,
More Marvels ... Ch. 4,
Divine Agenda Ch. 6,
SMR 822-831ff. (almighty ...),
1080ff. (contradictions, along with Tender Times ... Ch. 8, *1 esp. ),
986ff., 1088Dff. (involves summary aspect for 3),
1072ff. (terminal times),
Outrageous Outages ... and the Courage of Christ Ch. I,
Dancers ... and Answers Ch. 3, *1A.
See also indexes.