AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH December 27, 2009
Continuing the work of the Australian Presbyterian
the Lord without Compromise
and the Bible without Qualification,
of God on Earth, and
therefore of the Day, Age, Roaring Rage, Restoration
and Index to His Return
The Day, The Age of Grace
The everlasting Gospel broadcast! says Revelation 14:6 - to all. It features God's birth on earth , incarnate as a babe! (John 1:1-14, Isaiah 7, 9, 48:16, Psalm 2, 22, 45).
When it happened, there was no drum roll, but there was a birthday on this earth which was to be forever singular, significant more than the rise and fall of mere nations, a blight to many by showing the subversion of their own souls (John 15:22), and a grinding for the haters of their own souls. Yet in this lay man's only hope, not in Copenhagen and its inane haggling, with self-interest making mockery of need for the race, and morality spurned, earning its shame of face. No, it was not there; while others awaited a temporary deliverance, amid the dissolving stanchions of our physical home, destined for convulsions not a few before its termination in His Majesty who came as a babe, and not a blight, whose light will shine not merely as a lighthouse, but as a transforming brilliance.
Wait a minute! you may say, when precisely WHAT happened, to make this the beginning of a day for a babe, for its life on this earth, for an epoch which could never be the same as what preceded: what then ?
Why do you not know, have you not heard ? When GOD became in format a babe, through the Person of His own infallible, eternal Word, not mere words but in Himself personal, there was not an eclipse of the sun, but of all history. He who had spoken of this day for millenia, now made it His own birthday in babe format, for a task He has savoured with passion (Hosea 13:14): to give death its come-uppance by meeting its just demands of sinners, and to give life for man its manifest eternity, through a door as narrow as the babe, and as high as the heavens. Thus His birthday, it became the intention of man, should divide the Ages, B.C. before Him, A.D. afterwards, He the pivot, division and Lord over history.
Why, you might pursue it, would it make such a difference ?
It is because God being infinite - our Creator of all verbal systems, such as DNA, all cogitative capacities, such as show His being and eternal, nature and might, all that deliberative and rational freedom which makes of man a responsible agent and true lover, or hater - became one of us in this way. HENCE given birth in the day which we celebrate by means of Christmas, His coming was not only that of a babe born, but that of an Age. In this, the Gospel payment being made, its beauty arrived with a masterful pregnancy which in turn brought forth an epoch, that of grace, where God who did not come to judge but to save the world, and not with a heart just for some of it, but for all as in Colossians 1:19ff., set about His own method.
Method ? you may ask. What is this about a method ? Surely His mere presence would suffice, if anything would.
Yet there is method in His cogitative splendour in the DNA, enormous, in tripled intricacy of storage and dynamic, we learn, in a startlingly advanced miniaturisation of command; and there is method in His spiritual provision for our roving spirits no less than for our adventuring bodies. God is not profligate, although liberal beyond all imagination. I was much impressed with an employer who gave to someone working for him for only two weeks, a holiday at Christmas of the same duration, provided he stayed on; but this is the birth not only of the babe, God on this earth as one of us, yet without the sin which slices spirit and dumbfounds mind, but of the Age in which God who thinks, acted, and God who speaks, secured salvation, long thought of. Now in its predicted time, it was at last fulfilled.
If not, then all who had gone before could have had no eternity such as King David delighted in (Psalm 17, 21), and there would have been a mass abortion of hope.
Here then is the birth of God on this earth, of an epoch, an Age for His work, His strange and marvellous work (Isaiah 29:14ff.), starting with a babe sought so hard for premature death, that a King slew masses of babes in a vain effort to kill Him. Such is the way of this world, in the heart of the nations, which though they at times flare with a light which reflects something of the Grace which this Age provides, yet fizzles too soon, just as the Empire of Rome, flashing in sudden subscription to Christ, aborted in the papacy, and in proud boasts by a non-Christ, presuming on His majesty, who declares Himself only the Master and all of us brethren, who believe Him and receive what He offers (Isaiah 53:1-10). Later comes Copenhagen, the dervish dance of devilry, the acme of disagreement, the triumph of formality, the abasement of virtue, the exhibit of man's confusion and pretence, pretension and impotence. And this fiasco, it is merely another view of what the United Nations drably displays and emptily enunciates.
How the nations rage against Him, as in Psalm 2, Acts 4:25-26 picking it up and applying it, and this, not merely in the early time of this distemper under Herod, babe slaughterer, not only with Pilate and priest in inglorious communion in the crucifixion, nor in their godless lapses from whatever profession of Christ any of the nations once made. It was the same sordid story in the ruined but restored Roman Empire, in the persecutory and most unholy Holy Roman Empire, in the godless boiling of Communism as in the erratic dreams that master so much of the East, one aggressor in which we now learn also has atomic bombs courtesy of the USA. This is but one which threatened the earth in living memory; but many are the other sites slowly or suddenly becoming spiritually unsavoury.
There it booms in the gross depths of immorality that even the USA and Australia, England and Europe seem determined to plumb in their increasingly godless permissions and pollutions for the ways of man. If the physical air is at risk, how much more the very spirit of man.
Yet this, for all that, is the Age of Grace: not a mere time for technical progress, but for an advance which will never regress in a kingdom which will never end, as the angel told the father of John the Baptist, as Daniel 7 exhibits, and Christ showed (Matthew 24:35). Indeed, HIS kingdom, instituted by the payments of the Gospel, which is everlasting (Revelation 14:6), is to come for a time in manifest splendour on this earth (Revelation 12:15), replacing this present misrule as a youth replaces a fractious child, or a man a dissolute youth.
Small wonder, then, since after that the very earth is to dissolve (II Peter 3, Isaiah 51:6), the Gospel is energised on this earth in this Age of Grace, gift of the generosity of God, through the birth of the babe, which instituted not just the ground of celebration for one being, but that for millions, to be born again each one in his or her own day, by faith. When ? when as in Isaiah 53:10, the Lord is taken, His soul a sacrifice for sin, thus giving Him, though Himself childless through early murder, yet a spiritual species of children, in the millions! (Psalm 22:30). These with Him in heaven's haven, live for ever.
The Wry Way, the Epoch of Disgrace
Yet as we follow Revelation 14, we find that in this overview Chapter, intense in its depiction of the resurrected arrival of saints, freshly grabbed from the torments of the persecuting nations (vv. 1-6), there is a quick sequence. The deceptive spiritual harlot, lure and pit to the deluded, is defeated (as in Proverbs 7-9): wisdom has prevailed in her call (as in Proverbs 8),and a sudden flash of light exposes a fallen body, corruptor of millions. What is this, then ? this fallen body, you might ask.
What is this, then ? this fallen body, you might ask.
It is Babylon, identified in Revelation 17:9 as Rome*3, who there bears the death mask to the charade that has blasted this earth with ceremonial mockery for millenia, that of mixed religious pomposity, underwritten by the State, its surrogates or diverse powers. Here is the end of the Age, and here is the focus on evil overcome, exposed for a flashing moment.
It has survived in Rome as Romanism, misnamed Roman Catholicism, the least catholic possible in its citified centre, with variable degrees and kinds and species of international rule over the Age.
Here in Revelation 13, 14, 17, we are coming to the end of the Age, and here is the focus given for a flashing moment. This Babylon, mystery Babylon as in Revelation 17, that is the embodiment of all the evil that Jeremiah apostrophied in Jeremiah 50-51, it is featured and figured as a final site of rebellion and witchcraft; and here in preparation for Revelation 17 which identifies it, it is seen as about to fall.
"Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (Revelation 14:8, cf. 17:5-9).
The city of the seven hills, in its religious disposition, is seen as about to be destroyed by fire. It has survived in Rome as Romanism, misnamed Roman Catholicism, the least catholic possible in its citified centre, with variable degrees and kinds and species of international rule over the Age. It here comes to an end.
She, said the angel of it, has made "all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Such has been the way of the spirit of Babylon since the very term was made a cry, and its overarching condemnation a proverb and a byword through Jeremiah.
Now a nation or city as such does not literally 'fornicate', though many in it may do so; but this is a spiritual designation as in Ezekiel 16, 20, and in Hosea generally, expressive of corrupt dealings with the God of salvation, such as moving even while naming Him, into other religious beliefs, like those who despise the differentiation of 'denominations' even if some worship a piece of bread and others pursue homosexuality in pastors as quite acceptable, though biblically condemned for such liberties (I Corinthians 5-6, I Timothy 1:10, 4:1ff.), idolatries and such laxities. The babe become man, did not die by suicide in broken bread at the last Supper, a thing in fact expressly for remembrance, nor did Christ die in order to liberate from morality. He both died and rose to make godliness available, even to sinners, and eternal life a dower to those deserving only death, and that as a beginning (Revelation 14:11): to be Lord over both living and dead (Romans 14:9), not licence pool.
The Right Way, the Reality of Restoration
Against such things, the saints have set their faces; and whether in flaming and fiery deaths, their own spirits a flame (Psalm 104:4), their bodies burnt as in the Inquisition, which put man in torment for centuries, courtesy of 'Babylon', this same Romanism, or in the earlier days of the Roman Empire, or in whatever manifestation of this same spirit, they have had to show patience (Revelation 14:12). This they have done, and will need to do still further, as Rome's religion in its power structure is at last cast aside by the ruling nations (Revelation 17:16-18) and there arrives the final imperial dynamic, that darling of the devil (Revelation 20:3), the "man of sin" to mar this earth more than greenhouse gases will ever do (though they make a notable contribution), that of the antichrist, the man of sin (II Thessalonians 2, I John 2:18), who meets them clad in its arrogance and carnal pride.
Patient the saints must be in the face of cultural propaganda regarding,
firstly, the imaginary NEVER exhibited fairy tale of life in its glories, by
secondly in the sedated dreams of organisation by actual or pseudo-imperial
power from man
thirdly in the moral diatribes against morals as from China and increasingly the
finally, in the seductive clamour of the devil himself, no mean agent of ruin.
No wonder the cry is heard, as in Revelation 14:13,
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on,"
and the following accord,
" 'Yes,' says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them.' "
With them, their works do not precede them, as if a means to grace (which would be contrary to Romans 3:23ff., as to Ephesians 2:1-12), but they follow, as fruit FOLLOWS a planted tree of the right description.
Every tree that is not planted by MY FATHER, Christ declared, will be uprooted (Matthew 15:13). What could be simpler than that. Eternal life is NOT a gift to the lust or imagination of man, but by the grace of God, and a gift it is! (Romans 6:23). At that, it is a gift BY GRACE (Romans 5:15). What a delicious rest, after so much trouble and such patience, that the works wrought by faith, follow like a delightful dog, the saint being not made by his/her own works, but rather for them!
The Rule of Righteousness, Judgment at Last
Alas, as in Jeremiah 13, there is need for humbling by church and nation, individual, old and young alike. It may sound old-fashioned; but then man was fashioned long ago, and God, his Creator, does not change (Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102). It is He who is the source of growth, and stability, and alive as that Eternal Spirit whose existence has been the eternal ground for any existence in time. It is from Him there pours into creation its intelligence, its wisdom in construction, and its blessing and its cursing, as also eminently in this Age of Grace, the dynamic for its dispersion in inglorious judgment. It is this which is prepared, for as much as prefers darkness in the very face of light, foreknown to God before the ages ever were (John 3:19,36, Matthew 25, Acts 15:18).
What then of Jeremiah 13 ?There the king was told this:
"Give glory to
the LORD your God, before He causes darkness and
before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death, and makes it dense darkness.
But if you will not hear it, My soul will weep in secret for your pride; My eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears because the LORD's flock has been taken captive."
The Lord can so express Himself through the prophet, the more readily because it was HE who would come as the blessed babe even daring to die to cover the sin which excludes from heaven both judicially and practically; for there is no haven in heaven where sin is! Thus He proceeds as God to speak in Jeremiah 13:24, continuing His address in its pity, poignancy and pathos.
No wonder there is blight for the worship of the 'beast' (Revelation 14:9), which is the obvious and devilish course of its core desire: the elevation of man through him as a pinnacle to maximum height. Ignoring God in delusions about man and might, it is as if he would estimate himself worthy to take over, once and for all, the lands God made, and to make some time of partial occupancy, the certificate of ownership, as some like to do for one race in Australia.
No wonder there is a coming reaping differentially of those of whatever race who in patience possess the promises of God, who look for a city which has foundations and a grace which never loses it glow.
Finally in this Age of Grace, there comes then, a reaping (Revelation 14:14-15), wrought in the name and power of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:14, as foretold in Matthew 14:30-31). To be part of a crop is to delight in the sickle, otherwise symbol of death; for when you are prized as wheat, your grain the desire of the Desire of the nations, Jesus Christ; then to be found by Him and eternally to be separated from sin in His presence is like a vacation after enormous toil and tedious labours, a rest after prodigious wrestling or a wash after the mire of the common day, with the perfume of His presence, whose word is truth.
Being gathered to His barn, that is the destiny to be desired. When this earth finally is made recipient of a rule in righteousness by Him whom it despised (Psalm 72, 45, Isaiah 11, 32, 59, 66, Malachi 4, Revelation 19-20), and the knowledge of the glory of God has covered it as the waters cover the sea as Isaiah and Habakkuk foretold, then it will be most pleasant to have a place, when this is gone (Isaiah 51:6), where His righteousness and salvation are indispensable.
What is that place ? you may ask. It is a place by Him, because of His grace, which His birth portended, His death confirmed and His bodily resurrection exhibited with power, whose are the worlds, by whose power was the creation, and by whose wisdom is judgment. How wise is it to use this Day of Grace in this Age of Grace to seek His face, receive His redemption to the heart, and repenting of sin, begin in grace which never ends.