AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith,
in agreement with the thrust of the PC of Australia Constitution 1901
August 28, September 11, 2011
THE PLACE OF GRACE
in the Old and the New Testaments
For Part I, use this link.
Grace is neither dictatorial nor dithering,
but direct and dynamic
In this survey, it is good to look up verses noted, and ponder
the lead being given, as also the perspective
and the place in the progress of divine grace for our race.
Maximise its profitability therefore, by studying
what the Bible says where the verses indicate.
If details are needed on the way,
in the Web version (http://webwitness.org.au/THIRDSUITE/sermontheplaceofgrace.html)
please use the hyperlinks provided for this purpose, underlined here.
OTHER PHASES OF GRACE AND ITS IMPLANTATION
The place of grace has enormous scope.
The divine grace was given for the 11 reasons already given.
It was also given:
OTHER PHASES OF GRACE AND ITS IMPLANTATION
The place of grace has enormous scope.
Last Sunday, we saw 11 purposes in the giving of divine grace.
It was also given:
12. to exhibit dominance over devastation: Incarnate, Christ banishes both death and disease at will, on demand, at time stated (Mark 2, John 11),delivering thousands irrespective of the malady, rigorously (Matthew 4:23-25, 12:15, Luke 3 6:17-19.)
13. To spread the testimony world-wide, the zeal and the world co-extensive (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 13-16, Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, Jeremiah 16:19-20), so that with the Gospel rejected, darkness becomes not only traditional, but re-affirmed as merely evil desire.
14. To draw together the strings of prophecy and divine enterprise, as with a string-bag containing groceries, so that all should be interpretable through One (cf. Ephesians 1:9-14, 2:17-22,Galatians 3:26-29, Romans 4),He the epitome and height of grace (John 1:14).
15. To prepare the way for His return as Divine Royalty, to regale His people with meekness, justice, mercy and loving-kindness on this earth, before its demise (Psalm 72, Isaiah 11, Micah 4, Psalm 2). .
16. To provide a new heavens and a new earth after the final departure of this model, one in which at last righteousness dwells; so that tests for life being over, spiritual life for the redeemed can become as apparent as the sun in the heavens (cf. Matthew 13:43).
17. To bring on the consummation when the people of God will see their Creator-Redeemer, face to face (Revelation 22, I Corinthians 13), freely, willingly and knowingly serving Him. Long has all of this waited, as did the world for Christ's first coming to purchase salvation. These were former times. What of the later days ?
THE LAST DAYS
There are many references to the last days. For example, in II Peter 3:2-5, we find them a site for scoffers who will ignore the formation stages of this world in water, and the flood which brought back some of this beginning, in overwhelming judgment (cf. Genesis 6). It is the day when people will become besotted with myths (cf. Romans 1), nature myths in which God is made a mere mirage amid creation, if that, and the gods that have not made the heaven and the earth (Jeremiah 10:11), will be idolatrised as things of force, or form, or this or that latent ability, man wilfully ignoring the Maker which other than nothing is the only logical option (II Timothy 4:3-4). Nothing however, like a bank account with that amount, can do nothing.
These, in II Timothy 4, are for the phase when "the time will come." It has an eschatological flavour, sitting next to judgment references. Again I Timothy 4:1ff. tells us this:
"the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will
depart from the faith,
Note the charges of hypocrisy and collapsed conscience; for in the antagonism to God in His glory and kindness, truth and justice, there is an inveterate hostility on the part of many! Again, some forbid to marry and to eat certain foods, one other index of presumption, foods " which God commanded to be received with thanksgiving." This is famously exemplified by such powers as those of Romanism, a religion which remains one of the largest on earth, flicking its ash into our own day with its misuse and re-creation of Mary, the Lord's Supper, Peter and its creation of the pope (cf. SMR pp. 1032 -1088H, Matthew 23:8-10). Other parallel sects and spiritual vagrancies will flourish with many abashed in their woes (II Timothy 3:1-5, Matthew 24:12-14).
Another of their value-deducted features will be the use of fables, of myths, where the grounds for assertion lack the proper logical interface, sustainable causation, basis and validity, as in the theory of organic evolution, itself a fulfilment of II Timothy 4:4, and a stunning contribution to a national folk-lore, that of the White race on this occasion. This is the negative; but a vast channel is also opened for the positive, the spiritual, as the contest continues to its appointed end.
In terms of "the last days," Acts 2:17ff. speaks of the entire spiritual explosion when the Spirit came in the way Christ foretold (Luke 24:49), as it did there. It came unforgettably in power and clarity, the Gospel impelled with grace; and as time moves, further demarcating events were predicted, as in Acts 2:19, which suggests acceleration to the end. One such event, as at first foretold in Joel (2:28-32), is the column of vapour which, in so short a reference to that day, obviously is a monumentally obvious feature, abundantly fulfilled in our atomic mushroom cloud, deep portent of peril to mankind (cf. Matthew 24:22).
Indeed, in our day, this is without doubt one, if not the most spectacular and best-known, of the emblems of increasingly dauntless human power, in many linked to inveterate passion and recklessness. Further references to the last time are found in Hebrews 1:2, 2:1-3, Micah 4:1, Isaiah 2:2, as the times of testing move towards the restoration of the Lord Jesus Christ, before the scaffolding being removed, such times as these pass forever (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 51:6), and salvation with the Lord's donated righteousness (Romans 5:17), or eternal shame without it, move into their stations.
I John 2:18 shows that the spirit of antichrist was already active (as in the account of Revelation 12!), and that THE antichrist was at that time still to come, as he is now in his distinctive horror (II Thess. 2), though his key stepping stones are more and more apparent both financially and politically..
Thus there is nothing foundational in the period between the predicted ransoming death of the Redeemer, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, His resurrection, the sending of the Spirit and His return as in II Thessalonians 1, except of course the increasing horror of spiritual disease, rebellion and misrule as shown in Revelation 13,17, the arising of a more united Europe and Israel's return to its land, all now accomplished (cf. SMR Appendix A, pp. 886ff., 902ff., 918ff.). These events come, with the impending destruction of the spiritually significant Rome (Revelation 18 cf. SMR pp. 946ff.) and the arising of multiplied foolish sects, using but abusing the Bible, deceitful and deceptive, as with the return of Israel (as in Luke 21:24), from its long dispersal (as in Matthew 24, Hosea, Ezekiel 36-37), to have victories in its valorous wars (Zechariah 12). These predictions for Israel are already fulfilled not only in giant measure in 1948, 1967, 1973, with collateral in 1990-1991, but in staggering detail. That includes the division of Jerusalem into two sections, as happened in 1948, on the high road to the return of the Lord (Zecharian 14).
For it, the day of trial is seen trailing on till that small nation repents on a large scale (Zech. 12:10-13:1), even of the crucifixion wrought by its national authorities in the day of the Prince Peace on this earth: and then returns to the Lord. Another deliverance then comes (Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32), in scope parallel to that of the Exodus! (Micah 7:15). This leads on to one total Church in Christ, however assaulted for a short time, it may be by the Antichrist and his precursors. God's plans are deep (Romans 11). He forgets nothing!
As in II Peter 3:9, the time for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is stretched to the uttermost; but it comes. Then after the first flush of judgment as in II Thessalonians 1, and Revelation 19, and the millenial demonstration of the rule of God so that the earth will then be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11, Psalm 72), there is JUDGMENT'S FINALE, after which the heaven and earth go (Matthew 24:35, Revelation 20), so that there are no more last days.
In this millenial period, following initial judgment as in Revelation 19, left are the resurrected saints, and those too young to know, too deprived to realise. Whether or not any of these be now converted, is not known, for it is not revealed; but it appears rather likely as Christ even descended into hell (in sequence, I Peter 3:18ff. ), being eminently concerned for all everywhere (as in Colossians 1:19ff.). His divine foreknowledge does not exclude His winning souls on earth or elsewhere, according to His own appointment, nor does it abate His missioning passion, but rather engages it. However those having rejected Him on earth face eternal shame (Luke 9:26).
THE LAST DAY OF THIS EARTH
and the ENDLESS TIMES of the Resurrection
Then with the terminal rebellion it ends. Heaven and earth flee away, we read, for there is no place found for them. All that is now past. Judgment has supervened, the book of life and the book of judgment alike, having had their last cases, being open, now are shut (Revelation 20:11-15).
Indeed, for this earth, and this universe (II Peter 3), this IS the last DAY.
Gone now is the whole systematic bloc of the beast's entourage, milling millions (cf. Rev. 19:21. As to the take-over attempt, abusing the divine liberty which God has SO given that He may be cordially detested while bestial elements seek to bring all mankind to enslavement to their foolish dreams, following the path of many preceding national dictators, but now international in theme: this fails as it did earlier assaults (Revelation 12). God is magnificently merciful and longsuffering, but there is an end, for the spirit of man cannot stand for ever the questing and the appealing that it so heavily resists (Isaiah 57:15ff.).
Left now are the resurrected saints, tried as gold ( I Peter 1, 4), whose hearts are with the Lord, whose love has expression in Him.
So grace has abounded, deception has been confounded, the place of testing has had its LAST DAY, and a new heaven and a new earth are there in their new profundity, where the inhabitants are now all righteous, pardoned, renovated, regenerated, completed (Hebrews 12:22-24). These now are ready for a non-cursed world and the beauty of irenic glory instead of the duty of participation in the route marches of righteousness over the brambled soil, the rambling follies of man and the wastelands of vanity, which have bred like rabbits in the fields of man, where he was wont to stay and to stray.
Now has grace abounded to the uttermost, truth seen now not as an illicit assumption of model-bound unbelievers, but an obvious outcome just as it has always been an available income where received; and righteousness is as lovely as the sun in the clear skies of monumental glory.
These things being so, let us receive divine grace with relish, including that of our own salvation, dispense it with relish, with longsuffering, kindness, amity, helpfulness, sense of mission, fulfilment of divine purpose, delight in the Lord as in a spiritual Spring, when the Winter of discontent no more parades its storms. In this way, the dilemmas, delinquencies and insufficiencies of man, that astounding creation with potential for access to God Almighty and for ruin because of the lack of it, are lost in the loveliness of a fulfilment not only necessary for reality, but inherent as health is in chronic disease: needing release!
What grace is to be found, moreover, in the concept of eternity. For my part, so far from this seeming strange, it is most natural. The idea of being naturally liable to death is so abhorrent as to seem vile; of losing what has been achieved, obtained, grown into becomes a flourish of horror: it appears a violation in integrity. Now because of sin, and heaven preserve me DV from those who do not know they are sinners, who tend to appear as spiritual slobs, too deeply in themselves as ultimate to even know the least about themselves, integrity is precisely what lacks. It may be that certain canons are zealously kept; but integrity means far more.
In the end, it means that what you ought to be, you then are; and where you ought to be in life-maintenance, you are now to be found in completion; that how you ought to relate to your God and Maker, you do relate, and what you ought to know of Him, you do. In its sublimity, however, it is now to be gained only by grace, and this first as a power to be continually transformed to the likeness of Christ, in adequately humbling circumstances to prevent unrealism (II Corinthians 3:17-18, 12), while retaining liberty, indeed realising to the uttermost, both what it is and how it works. Then, we shall know as we are known (I Cor. 13:12).
Being allotted place, through the sacrifice of Christ, duly received, and His resurrection, duly taken to heart, even of the body, and even of His own body as in Acts 2, so that one is to be with "the spirits of just men made complete" by no means involves no kind of development or growth. Thus you can have a young oak, which though delightful, is obviously not yet fully formed. You take it some years later and there are the thrills of its large and spreading branches, the delicate wonder of the contrast in Spring of its tassels with its robustness, and there is the feeling of permanence, and a stability in which one can both rest and delight, exploring as a child might, by crawling about its branches.
For years after reaching this maturity, the oak yet develops. For most of its life, it becomes a MATURE and COMPLETE tree, without ceasing in any way to develop into yet more richness of nooks and areas of abundance, sheer grace and loveliness, its Autumnal eruptions of colours more and more delightful.
So when the spirit of man, clothed in a body so that it is no wisp or will-o'-the-wisp, but definitive, decisive, definite (as in II Corinthians 5), as the resurrection arrives on the scene, is it a mere static thing, because now innocent of sin ? or is its pure deliciousness of development before the God who is INFINITE in knowledge, wonder, loveliness and holiness to be imagined incapacitated ? Can not what is perfect, in the Greek sense used in Hebrews 12, that is completed, be yet allowed to grow in the presence of the infinite; and is maturity a barrier instead of an opportunity for the more wonderful trips into reality and growth into more and more of the wonders that the illimitable God has prepared! Does it not declare this (Psalm 31): "Oh how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men," and indeed I Corinthians 2 extends the concept.
His understanding is infinite (Psalm 145), so there is never lack for learning, and indeed in Hosea 14 you see something of the rampant joy in living entirely in His presence. Where sin is banned, and with it that spoliation which is so tragic in the best of mankind, when curse is cast out, and life is unmitigated, why to me this is the most natural, normal, unharassed fulness imaginable, except that in KNOWING GOD PERSONALLY with all this, in the resurrection, even this more advanced (as in I Corinthians 13) than it is now, there is a blessedness so intense, so rational, so realistic, so delivered from a sort of life-threatening profanity, urbanity, superficiality, that it is almost impossible to give voice to the excellence of the joy involved.