AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH May 29, 2011
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
Direct Dealing for Those who Cannot Stand Stand-by
The Passage is Narrow, the Glory is Great
through dangerous waters of confusion to the clear sight of the ocean vastness
of the truth. We move through the shallows to the grandeur available in that
ocean of wonder, the Lord Jesus Christ, only Saviour, Lord of all.
Having moved through 25 or so diversions, we move through the 26th to a better
- Isaiah 35:3, Hebrews 12:4,12, Isaiah 42:3.
"Encourage!," says Isaiah, "the exhausted, strengthen the feeble!" and again, of the Messiah, "A bruised reed will He not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish" (NASV).
There is glory, that even here, where some might surrender the task, Christ is more than equal to it, and has proved Himself strong in weakness and undeflectable in purpose.
Beaten and bruised Himself, He does not abolish the bruised, but rather heals - in Hebrew, the words are specifically similar in 42:3 and 42:4 - for HIM who gives, and for us (cf. Hebrews 4:15-16, 2:17-18)! Foot-dragging may come from a problem in the area of the spine, and strengthening is called for; or from exhaustion, and refreshing is needed.
Where slowness to perform the will and word of God is however based in rebellion or obstinacy, the case is different and through deviousness can quickly degenerate into apostasy. Nevertheless, the children of God are to be cured from weariness and weakness, even David once feeling "ready to halt" (Psalm 38:17), and the Messiah has a tenderness which is an elixir through which His strength flows (Isaiah 40:10-11, John 8:1-12, 21:11-19).
As for being a bruised reed, at times the signal changes. You become more pressed like crushed berries, producing the juice of humility in the framework of Christian service to God and man. Indeed, as Isaiah 40:10-11 has it,
"Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.
shall feed His flock like a shepherd:
He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom,
and shall gently lead those who are with young."
His real zeal is shown not only in His beauty of holiness, as in Hebrews 5:7-8, Luke 22:44, but in His exposure of frauds at the constant and imminent danger of death (Luke 11:52-54), finding His people among the false leaders and comforting them with His own power and presence, love and zest. It was just as Ezekiel foretold (34:14-16): contrasting the betrayal of those appointed to act, but consuming their time on themselves (34:1-5), with what ? It was this: with that utter fidelity that the Good Shepherd, God Himself would come to show. Indeed He CAME to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 15, 19:10). God came, Christ His definitive incarnation (Hebrews 1, John 8:58). Salvation ? He did it Himself!
In all this, God does not forsake His people, but encourages them as they are made white, as Daniel puts it, and purified, strengthened and moulded, given more grace as is for the lowly in mind and meek in spirit. Look at the encouragements given to Daniel (Ch.10), to Paul (Acts 18:9-11, II Corinthians 12:9-10), and to Christians who suffer for Him who sent them (I Peter 3:14-15, 4:12-14).
Look again at the triumph past all tragedy in Isaiah 42.
"A crushed reed He will not break, and the dimly burning flax, He will not quench;
He will bring forth judgment to truth.
He will not BE crushed, nor dimly burn, until He has established justice in the earth,
and the coastlands will wait for His law."
That is, the tender mercies that He will show, in His atoning agonies as in His bracing miracles, in His endurance as in His patience, in His power as in His spiritual vitality: these will be shown to Him. HE will not be broken, nor suffer discouragement, He will not smoulder but in flames of spiritual fire blaze with incandescent vigour, unsubdued, though smitten; and in Spirit He will be masterful and massive, even when in body subjected to squalor and violence; but hurling His spiritual arrows at the underbelly of sin, He will be neither quenched nor subdued.
Like mercury, He will not be contained, and like fire He will not be put out; and His compassionate kindness and mercy will surge to those whose contrition calls in faith to Him. He will pursue His program of pity, His triumphal task of truth, and continue His work till the entire earth, mutinous in murders, becomes subject to His law, and the entirety of His mission is accomplished. But all this, it is not for the sake of gaining the earth, but that it might be enabled to behold His beauty, and the suffering and groaning creation behold with relief the spectacle of the children of God (Romans 8:17ff.), the transformed testament of beauty, the denizens of duty, the offspring of God. When this is done, this earth and heavens will be despatched by their Maker, now that the glory of God has been shown in the face of Christ Jesus (Isaiah 51:6, Matthew 24:35), and He has found and saved His own.
Therefore be encouraged.
Consider Isaiah 40:1-3, where a people have come through to trust in the Lord after a bleak beginning, and Psalm 37:2 where you are taught to rest in the Lord, and to "delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart".
So work, but do not put your trust in your works (John 9:4), but in Him who gives you the call to serve Him (Psalm 40:4, Proverbs 3:4-5); pray, but do not trust in your prayers but in Him who can answer them (Ephesians 3:19-20).
And be with those who are
return now from our task, to the deviations, back to the wake of truth.
3. FULL CIRCLE
A1...) THE CIRCULAR QUAY CHRISTIAN - John 10:9.
Notice here that in Sydney there has been a central quay to which the ferries would come, and from which they would be despatched to Manly outside the Heads, and various inner places. There the people went, from there they were transported in the open sea, or even ocean.
This reminds us of the fact that ONCE you HAVE entered that door which is CHRIST by faith as in John 10:9, THEN you belong to Him and WITH HIM go in and out and find pasture. HE is Circular Quay in this parable, and TO Him those who are His go, in order to find IN HIM the next destination, step, event in their journeys, and to GO AND DO IT (Luke 17:8-10). The ocean reminds us of the pure joy in serving the Lord and the ferries of the potent power available to those who are in Him and work and live for Him (Ephesians 1:19).
So with holiness have help, in help have service, in service have strength and in strength have a journey in the peace of Him who MADE the seas and works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). Never forget that, and if you are His, trusting in His blood - symbol of substitutionary sacrifice for believers, in His power by which His body was raised physically from the dead (Romans 10:9, Luke 24:39), then what have you to fear! Fear God and love the Lord, for in Him is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4).
Thus we are led to the articulation of the form, format and provisions for the Biblical Christian.
4. THE BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN
TO LIVE IS CHRIST ...
(Philippians 1:20-21,Col. 3:1-3, Romans 6).
This is one who ...
LOVES the Lord, and KEEPS His word. Although imperfect and not fully mature (Philippians 3:12-15),
and this one
understands where to find forgiveness at once (I John 1:7-2:2),
runs and is not weary (Isaiah 40:27-31): BECAUSE waiting on the Lord,
renews his strength;
walks on the Rock (I Corinthians 3:11),
knows the Lord (John 17:1-3, Jeremiah 9:23-24), and that salvation is indeed his
(Isaiah 33:17, Titus 3:5, II Timothy 1:9-10, Ephesians 2:1-8),
co-operates with Christ's team, who abide in His word (I Cor.12,John 17:8-9),
exhorts and is exhorted (Hebrews 3:13),
is alive and therefore has Christian vitality (John 4:14),
dies daily (Romans 8:36, I Corinthians 15:31),
hates his/her own life, as autonomously or rebelliously assertable (Luke 14:26) but
pants for the word and friendship of God (Psalm 119:11,20,24, 43:1, John 15:14-15 - and note that He DID call THEM His friends),
knows the power of God (I Corinthians 1:24), because God has it and so makes it available to His children (Ephesians 1:19),
knows the companionship of the Lord who guides by grace, calling His sheep as it pleases Him (John 10:27-28), giving eternal life and gracing it with His presence,
falls but calls on the Lord (Psalm 142:1-3, 9:12, 34:6, 4:3, 61:1-4, 138:3, 57:2, 65:4) is lifted up (Prov. 24:16) by the divine ambulance and rushed to the spiritual hospital in Christ with a humble and a contrite heart (Isaiah 66:2).
Avoid these pathologies (A-Z) if you belong to Christ;
but if you do not,
then seek Him, repent and submit yourself
in contrition and faith,
asking the Father for Christ's sake to accept you, purge and clean you, making your heart as He would (Titus 2:11-15, 3:2-7),
planting your will in His love
as He also plants you in His kingdom;
and BE THANKFUL for His mercies, for the Lord delights in mercy (Micah 7:18-20). You are not being 'trying' when you seek the mercy HE LOVES TO GIVE!
If you ARE CHRIST'S and find any of these pathologies lurking or energised within you, repent, submit your fault, folly or failure to the Lord, call the ambulance, go to His operations unit, and by faith be delivered. If for any reason, like Elijah, by faith you have for a time to stand alone, be fortified by faith to fulfil your mission, and seek in love for the blessing of those who are faithful.
Much that is vague, vain and illusory masquerades, parades or even chaotically chums up with the concept of Christianity. The latter is as defined in the word of God, in the life of Christ, in the gospel of life. God is its origin, man is its target, truth is its way, and immutable are its ways: they are everlasting, in grace, by faith, and never fail. When therefore what is definitive of Christianity is systematically absent, or constantly contravened, contradicted or confused, this is alien pathology, not relevant to the question of the church. It is a convening of imitation, an art of artificiality, if by any means the very elect might be deceived (Matthew 24:24). DO NOT however, be deceived. Avoid what is of this type (Romans 16:17).
Often the term 'Christian' is used through re-definition (as in neo-Orthodoxy) of major terms, or some may hold to it with the implicit heresy that believing does not impel to doing (contra James 2:17 cf. SMR pp. 520-532). In fact, it does. Some even attempt to re-define the Christian faith (as in neo-evangelicism); or even to re-define God Himself, with the soaring grandeur of blasphemy, in one's own fallen image or desire, along the lines often displayed in the Mormon structure, taking the glory backwards, not proceeding from its infinite Source who declares His mind; while others move in terms of the diabolically immoral concepts of theistic evolution, which are as far from the evidence as from the self-declaration of God (cf. That Magnificent Rock, Chs. 1,6). Man who would make an immoral god is doubly immoral.
Thus Christ, though in the infinitely superior form of God, voluntarily proceeded to anti-survive - such was the love in Him, such the plan of His Father for salvation (Philippians 2) - in order that those defeated in sin should arise and be adopted as children of God. Paul accordingly adjures us, "We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves" - Romans 15:1.
The climax of His call was the death on the Cross, forever ending animal sacrifice, and the consequence was His breach-birth from death, overcoming it with a life that nothing could crush (Acts 2:24ff.). It is all to be found in Him; and in Him ...
May the LORD BLESS YOU AND GIVE YOU REST (Matthew 11:28-30), who seek Him with all the heart.