AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH December 20, 2009
Continuing the work of the Australian Presbyterian
the Lord without Compromise
and the Bible without Qualification,
THE PROVISION, INSTALLATION, PROCLAMATION AND CONSUMMATION OF SALVATION
"Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word,
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles."
Recently, I was trying to make sure of my new file-saving and securing device, so that indeed, as I typed, the back-up would also be saved. In this way, no more would things created disappear, through some occasional breach, so losing what came after the last time the text was automatically saved, nor would all of it go, when it had not been saved at all. The supervisor, evidently not too accustomed to English, but trying, would point me to a page and ask me to sight a tab that did not appear. This was difficult for both of us. The intention was there, but the result, for whatever reason, sometimes did not appear. In the end, he had to simulate the situation on his own computer, and this helped, till at last the desired test could be made.
It appeared that he had to come to terms with what I was in fact seeing, not what he thought that I ought to see. So this illustrates salvation and its provision. God did not simply fling a few words at us and tell us to see. What if someone did NOT see! and reasons for this, in our case as sinners, are very numerous. Firstly, there is sophistry and philosophy and bad will, and false intention both in the hearts of those who imagine themselves pure and are not (Jeremiah 17:9), and in the hearts of those who are under-shepherds, some being indubitably Judases (II Peter 2:1ff.). Thirdly, there is the occlusion of sight coming from cultural smog, which is also very acid. For many reasons, man may not see.
God took further action. He forecast the date of the death of the Messiah, the words in outline that He would speak, the power in some detail that He would show, where He would be born, the mode of His death, the reason for it, and how this related to salvation, indicating that the Jewish nation would reject and even abominate Him, and that many Gentiles would come to Him, since from God and as God provided now in human form,
He was for all, sufficient for all, directed to all, however many would prefer His death, defeat or distortion. When people cannot beat someone or show them false, are false, and do not want the truth they give, I have found in country after country, the standard technique is betrayal as with Judas. You sell the person, whether attacking their name, person or productions. That is easier than impossibly defeating the truth. It is almost routine: just as they say, 'boys will be boys', so here, liars will be liars, and slanderers slanderers, and fraud is the method of avoiding truth, take it this way or that.
In taking further action, as with the computer case above, God ensured that He would be in our midst with similar equipment, and we would be able to relate directly, not by means of mere programs but by His speaking word for word to our very ears in answer to direct questions, by showing openly under numerous circumstances just how and why He acted, by evidencing interest and concern, and power to match. God became man that man might the more obviously find the path to God. Here was the provision of salvation.
Nor did it come in one of those tortuous documents which require you to fill in from a list, this or that fact about yourself, when NONE of the options is right, or apt. It came in flesh. HE came as a child, facing hunger as in His fasting, rather than use His power, that His intimacy of empathy might be most real, and His own test, self-imposed, the more actual (Hebrews 2).
Thus when Simeon, a just person, devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel (what a consolation, Christ as man to bring individuals in Israel to know God direct and simply, assuredly and without mere symbol!) found Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit directing him, "He took Him up in his arms and blessed God" (Luke 2:28). This was not a form, like the words of a theologian preferred as the heretical Niebuhr is said to be preferred by Obama, one not even believing in the virgin birth by WHICH God became man, and so excluding the whole point.
It was nothing of that kind; for instead, Simeon took Him as He was, in his arms. No change, no theologian, just Christ. There is nothing wrong with being a theologian provided what you provide in presentation is what God provided in fact; otherwise there is everything wrong with it.
Have YOU taken Him not only in the arms of your mind, but into the heart of your life ? Nothing less is relevant. That is the nature of this provision: He came in empathy, and must be received with nothing less; and as He came, God as man, His word must be applied with zeal, nothing less (John 14:21-23); and with heart, nothing other, and in love, not abstractedly, but as people who can love, DO love. Love cannot be invented, and if you have not loved Christ, you have not met Him as your God, the God of creation and salvation, more necessary to man than any antibiotic to a suppurating infection.
Simeon was waiting, expecting, knew what he was looking for and when he found Him, the babe filled with promise for man, he took him in his arms. If you download a program in computing, what is that! To meet Christ, in itself, what is that ? In the case of the rich young ruler who came running in urgency to meet Him, and then showed in his conversation an eminently direct approach to God and His commands, he was even loved by Christ (Mark 10:21). Yet he had a disease, a distemper, an infection of the heart. His money was great, his possessions vast, his authority considerable: all this COULD not (of course ...) be sacrificed, and Christ, seeing the problem of heart, prescribed this individual solution to it. In his case, he had to give it up.
It appeared that God, for the young ruler, was not in heaven but in the haven of his possessions; and so he lost eternal life, though he longed for it so much he would have thought nothing else mattered; but it did. He came running, he went away sorrowing. How many similarly sorrow and get themselves into endless seeming conflicts and diversions, so that in the end their whole lives have no coherent meaning (except as devotees of some 'god'), and though love was extended to them, they walked away. How many mental cases arise because of such tensions and wrong turning. It is not necessary to generalise; there are many ways to disease, but this is a path most common.
For man's salvation, it is not sufficient that the salvation be provided as it has been these 2000 years, and forecast another millenia before that, while indicated several more before that. That was and is marvellous, and many programs of man may be fine; yet for personal salvation, it is not enough. It must be installed into your system, imbibed by your heart, received by your spirit, embraced by your life.
For this installation, you need to de-install all that competes or relates differently. Repentance to life is what is required (Acts 11:18). It has, the divergent approach, way of life, to be deleted, removed, de-installed, devoted to destruction, or as Paul denotes it, your 'old man' has to be put off and your 'new man' put on (Ephesians 4:22ff., Colossians 3:9ff.); or again, you must be crucified with Christ, planted with Christ, and arise from that de-installation, that death, to life in His risen presence (Romans 6, 8, Galatians 2).
How simple are some of the greatest things of all! Paul in Romans 10:9 tells us that if you confess (not merely profess) with your lips the Lord Jesus (not some variant invented by man, II Corinthians 10-11), and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead (not invented some spectre - Luke 24:36ff., Acts 2:29-37), you will be saved. The core is Christ; the foundation is Christ (I Corinthians 3:11), the expiation is His death (Colossians 2:21-22), the application is your reception, your eyes opened by the Holy Spirit, and your coming in faith, just as Simeon did.
When you so confess Christ, and when you indeed confess Him openly before mankind (Luke 9:26), not hiding Him, your light under your fears, and carry this out, then even your feet become 'beautiful' (Isaiah 52:7), gaining a derivative comeliness from the message of Christ that you bear, so that even your least attractive part becomes a thing of beauty because of its message! The great commission (Matthew 28) is a testimony to truth, its reality and reception and its obedience as in any truth; for who but a liar, knowing what has to be done, thinks otherwise or does otherwise and so speaks or acts!
Yet you say, Who is perfect ? Christ is perfect, and if you are in the habit of betraying your best friend by letting his name be put in the dust or agreeing with fraud concerning him, then you may find this difficult to understand. Of course no one is perfect, but even Peter, that valiant, but once so confused disciple after Gethsemane, though he DID deny Christ once for a few minutes, was so smitten by this that he wept bitterly and arose for a life-time of godly service. A slip is not a slither to hell, but a heart is not a nothing, and love is not denied in practice - though some error may slip in. If its fire is in the hearth, it cannot be; it is too warm.
So Simeon could go in peace. It is a great thing so to live in Christ that when this earth spins its last under your feet, the heavens open. His eyes had SEEN the salvation of the Lord, prepared for all peoples, openly, with nothing hidden, "a light to bring salvation to the Gentiles" so that whole empires or nations would give at least lip service, and millions become His children, though being early smitten to death, He had none of His own on this earth (Isaiah 53:8). Indeed, He was not this only, a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6), but He would also be "the glory of Your people, Israel"; for though that nation slew Him by its authorities (Rome adding its own betrayal through Pilate as well), this no more relates to reality in salvation than does running away from an operation relate to its performance. In the end, Israel has to have it, and it has already, as a nation, operated on Christ.
The next phase is this, that He operates on them, to the heart (Zecharaiah 12:10-13:1).
As to Israel, with hideous vehemence, it has been slain and murdered, mutilated and slandered, its good deeds misrepresented and its efforts ignored. It is rammed by the United Nations, a subject of rampage by the ignorant, and while far from Christian, it yet has much of Old Testament ethics still lingering.
Having so treated its Lord (and ours), it has itself been so treated most sadly, in its unbelief, yielding its Shield, Jesus Christ, its own Saviour, born as Simeon saw, into its very midst. Slaughtered and slandered, it has learnt what it did. It is time for it to return (Zechariah 12:10-13:1), as God has prescribed (cf. Ezekiel 36-37) for a large part of it to become the spiritual remnant: and HOW He will act on the nations when the crisis comes (Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32, Ezekiel 38-39)! They will become like snakes seeking to hide in holes, we read.
This, it is all part of the consummation of salvation; for when all who are His from the Gentile people come, and His remnant in Israel at last comes in that final flush (Romans 11:25ff.), then this earth will see a disjoining as His 'bride', not in parts but as one (Romans 11:28ff.), is given the sudden thrust home. It is removed abruptly to heaven (Matthew 24:30ff., I Thessalonians 4), from a turmoiled and slandering world, which having seen His salvation, unlike Simeon, has attacked it with arms, rather than receiving it into its arms.
Then comes that end of the test, as in a great examination of many days, the end of the pilgrimage, as in a long desert journey, with beautiful dawns and blistering heat, of a tour of service, when one is removed from some distant land and brought 'home' to be with the Lord. It is here that eternal life shows its glory in consummation, and the peace which passes all understanding has its substantial emplacement, where His people see Him face to face, whom Simeon took in His arms. Then all His people, Jew or Gentile, come back home to heaven. The knowledge of God, who made us, becomes not only indispensable and available, as on this earth (John 17:1-3), but brilliantly and spectacularly fulfilled.
May God add to His people, day by day.