AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH May 9,  2010

A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST AND BASE OF THE WELL-FOUNDED
AUSTRALIAN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH  (1901) ON BIBLICAL LINES
 
CHRIST WITHOUT COMPROMISE, THE BIBLE WITHOUT QUALIFICATION

 

THE SPRING THAT NEVER LAPSES

 

BLESSEDLY TENDER, ISSUANCE FROM CHRIST'S LIFE TO OUR OWN,

KEPT IN HIM FOR EVER

 

PERSPECTIVE

When the Lord went to glory, in the ascension, as when He rose from the dead on the third day: what happened ? Although there was a discontinuity on earth, in the first place because He left it, and in the second because He breached the death barrier and no more was bound to the form of a man with its vulnerabilities, but now had a formal power added, not normal for man, though He was not yet glorified: yet there was continuity for Him.

When He resumed His smitten body, and it rose, the triumph of Deity in His design and designs for man was total. There was an escalation of power in place, since the necessities of empathy as brother in the confines of the flesh, was no more. He had DONE IT!

There was therefore an upgrading of His bodily form, now freed from that constraint of mutual vulnerability that He might fittingly lead many children of His Spirit to glory; but there was no cessation of His life. To rise is not to stop; and when He preached to the spirits in prison (cf. I Peter 3:19-20, Jude 6 cf.  The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4), having descended into hell as the Apostle's Creed correctly declares, He was by no means inactive, but continuing in that heavenly circuit that all things be exposed to His glory and Gospel. To be sure, He is God, who neither sleeps nor slumbers; and man is man. Yet to what did Christ refer, when He told Peter that he would go where he did not wish, that is suffer death by violence, whereas John, that he would have to wait till He came ? The thought that this might have meant that John would not go through the transition known as death on this earth, is explicitly removed in John 21. What then did He mean ?

It meant that John would grow old, as he did, very old, and indeed his age seems to have been most serviceable in writing the word of God, and that when this very ripe fruit was ready, then through the Spirit (II Corinthians 3:17), Christ Himself would come for him, to bring him to the place prepared, the lot assigned, to His own presence to live with Him, as of yore, when they were together on earth. It is a tender and solicitous continuity which is in view, without a messenger, but with the LORD HIMSELF coming for His servant, that in Him continuity should be express and marvellous. In Stephen's death you see the ebullience of vigour as He beholds in the eyes of his heart, just as his human heart is coming to a stop, the glory of Christ as God with His Father.

It is to this same God in this same continuity, that Enoch is taken. It does not say of Enoch that he died, for that would require nothing unusual in the description; but that God took him. In what does this 'taking' consist ? It is that God who knew him on earth, stretched down with His creative dynamic, and brought heavenly life in continuity with the earthly life, like turning a page in a book, and took him  to Himself. Life continued by the opening of heaven direct.

But what of the water springing up into eternal life, to which the Saviour drew the Samaritan lady of five husbands, the last not even that (John 4:14) ? It is to be IN the saved person, it is to be refreshing as water is, and it is not to ooze or dribble, but to spring up to eternal life, not fitful, like the geyser "Old Faithful" at Yellowstone National Park, but after the manner of what springs to eternity, in continuity.

Thus is eternal life, not lapses nor languidity, but vitality. Notice here especially that Christ spoke of the one who drinks of the water which He gives. If someone can once qualify for that description, one drinking of the water He gives, then certain things are true of that one. Firstly, it is affirmed that he will never thirst again. It is an exclusion on thirsting at any time in the future. It is contrasted, incidentally, with the well, in the repetitive labours involved, and the frequent thirsts operative in the seeker to that well. Secondly, there is a reason for this contrast. Instead of the alternative offered by Christ, as if some other well, there are three differences.

Firstly the water is not still but living, lively, springing up. Secondly, it is no longer external: it is internal. You do not, therefore, have to go for it; it lives in you, at your address, even your physical and spiritual address, requiring neither going out nor coming it. It is there in its spring state, in its exuberance, welling UP! Thirdly and finally, the activity of welling up, of springing in life, has no terminus. This goes on to eternal life.

Such is anyone of whom it may be said, He is someone drinking of the water which Christ gives. Water is internalised, it is lively, it is therefore fresh, it is present in such quantities and in such quality that thirst is excluded, and this is the case for ever, even in the environment of eternal life. It is therefore not some ebullition, some upward thrust as of a physical spring, going on in its own way. It goes on in the setting of eternal life.

Anything more continuous, more connected, more lively, fresh and fulsome, enduring, effectual it would be virtually impossible even to imagine: and think of this, it is occurring as if you had an oil well, at your address, and at that, your very personal address, in yourself. Unlike an oil well, it is personal, it is clean, it does not mar. Like one, the liquid thrusts itself up. Moreover, it is not merely valuable, like oil: it is ESSENTIAL TO LIFE. Again, the life for which it is essential, is ETERNAL LIFE, and its welling up is coincident in term and tenure, to this self-same eternity of life in the one to whom it comes.

Again, what shall be said of the 144,000 of Revelation 14 ? There is only one resurrection, as outlined in I Corinthians 15 with the utmost clarity. As Christ became man ONCE, so in bodily resurrection, man will be made alive in Christ ONCE, when the trumpet sounds. There are no false starts.

What shall be said of the 144,000 of Revelation 14 ? There is only one resurrection, as outlined in I Corinthians 15 with the utmost clarity. As Christ became man ONCE, so in bodily resurrection, man will be made alive in Christ ONCE, when the trumpet sounds. There are no false starts.

Thus we find in I Cor. 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order, Christ the firstfruits and afterwards those who are His at His coming. " Even this has its own intrinsic order from the Lord: for as I Thessalonians 4 tells us, the 'dead in Christ' arise first, and then those who are alive at His coming, these are reclothed (cf. II Corinthians 5:1ff.).

Thus the 144,000 are not seen  as a resurrection contingent, but are simply a grouping, brought to heaven from the tempestuous times that come near the end (7:1-4), the 12 times 12,000 being an increment for Jew and Gentile as partners in salvation, an amplitude of symbolism with which Revelation is rife. These were not spiritually seduced (cf. Proverbs 7-9). There is no scatter. Viewed as before the resurrection, in line with the highly parallel Revelation 7:13-17, and the continued preaching of the Gospel on earth (14:6), then this shows them joyfully singing, as in 7:9-10 praising God.

They are not in some species of spiritual hibernation. That earlier vision of Revelation 7, far from the resurrection, which being general is not liable to partition, similarly occurs in the very midst of the woes on this earth, far from their completion. From these they are shown to be dramatically rescued, and described as having come out of the great tribulation, having washed their clothes in the blood of the Lamb amidst the thunderous developments. So do they sing, so are they led, are they never left, no, not at all, but are with Christ, which as Paul said of the option of staying longer on this earth or leaving it for Christ in his own day, IS FAR BETTER (Philippians 3:21-23).

Again, as Revelation 11 gives the resurrection (cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 5), the things that come being assured us (Revelation 1), and as this is the only such designation, this Revelation 7 scene assuredly appears pre-resurrection, a foretaste in heaven of what is to come. In any case, there is continuity with the talking of Moses and Elijah with Christ before His death (which is certainly before His and our resurrection), and in the saints who, while this earth continues in horror, are seen asking the Lord how long! as in Revelation 6, before the appalling tests and testimonies may be concluded through the suffering saints. These things are multiply assuring us of life, knowledge, concerns, and communication between the saved and the Saviour as we await the resurrection, on the part of those who have found the 'far better' thing of being already in heaven.

These other intimations merely mix with those in one canvas of paint, perspective, as is John's case, where the Saviour comes for him, prior to the resurrection, that is, while death is still a feature of physical life on earth.

Thus David in Psalm 21 speaks of "length of days for ever and  ever" in terms of continuity, non-cessation, constancy of the presence of the Lord; for he asked life of the Lord, and it was given thus without cessation. Moreover, Psalm 145:1  tells us quite simply that the saved soul concerned will praise God for ever and ever. Imagine now a person telling you that he will do something for ever and ever, and failing for a few thousand years. It is not a possibility in truth. Similarly in Psalm 119:44 we find the Psalmist "will keep Your law continually, for ever and ever, and I will walk at liberty..."

.Thus the saints in empathy in heaven (Rev. 6:9ff.), cry to Him, concerning their brethren still on the earth, "How long ?" The time of the resurrection was not yet.

 

PREPARATIONS FOR UNDERSTANDING

 

Let us then recall the teaching of things past, in Israel.

The children of Israel were topped up with triumphs, and while they often grumbled at their desert way, they were fed and watered, and when they lusted for food such as they used to have, like a new Christian indulging in a temporary lust for his old salary in a profession he had had, for Christ's sake to leave, they received more than enough, not only of food but of trouble. Still, they were always delivered and at last, with miracles aplenty, they made their epic journey to this inviting and granted land.

At last they had reached the longed for repose, the place of rest. To be sure it would involve no small sacrifice of discipline and attention, as this adventure above adventure proceeded, and the people of that land, for centuries allowed to continue in a class of corruption which had now reached its full, evil flower, were now met by an assigned replacement force, a new nation to give glory to God where His name and fame had been defiled by unspeakable moral atrocities (cf. Rash Shamra, and Gen. 15:13-16).

How slow we are, in this world, as a race, to LEARN that if you breach our supernatural law

(which is the basis for ANY law and for natural law in particular, since law requires principles and their application, which are both invisible and powerful, articulable and in the mental realm, correlative to the physical - and I say 'our' because it applies, like it or not, to the universe, to the cosmos, to the world,  to life in its massive formulations and for man):

then things happen. The laws of God are in some things breachable, and so is man. You cannot simply escape.

You may found a Reich for 1000 years and build up even in the little island of Guernsey, massive fortifications, and use slave labour impressed from Europe, even some as young as 16, to do this, while underfeeding them till they dropped. You may found the USSR as the flower of fortune, allegedly to have it somehow doing its definite thing in an assured way, though not really, and do much the same to people sent for their 'free land' to Siberia, in another ghoulish exhibit of human depravity at a systematic level. In treachery, you may do this and then fold some mere years after your grand vision, when it is at last vitiated, and East Europe escapes from the mad, perilous and paid out WW II alliance with USSR, using one fiend to overcome another, foul as he..

It ends. It was so for Tyre, Sodom, Persia, Babylon, Assyria, the Ottoman Turk empire, and multitudes of other exhibits at the height of horror, lordly fiascos abased.

The seemingly  impossible happens, and the horrors of unhappiness are brought to a just and desired end.

Yet the they continue, these levitational dreams, these fads, false premisses, evil promises (cf. Jeremiah 23:16-20. This tells us that at the end of this testing time, the phenomenon of miasmic dreams, forfeiting the Lord, will reach climax proportions. That is now, and it is as Christ foretold (Matthew 24:24), a signal with many others,  of nearing the terminus. Furious, spurious false prophets for the moment, flourish.

Israel, for its part, having been delivered from Egypt, another of the slave-driving arrogant apparats, evil empires, so that it might be different, yet failed in its own way (Isaiah 43:21). It did so by DISCONTINUANCE! It saw the place of rest (Numbers 14), the kingdom which had the power which delivered from Egypt, to back it, so that all its people needed to do was to enter by faith, power to be supplied as shown ALREADY. Yet they did not enter. They discontinued in their tumult, and threatened to stone leaders in their rebellion.

What was the good of that ? None at all. Instead of an evil empire falling to a mere nascent people in the national form, they lost a generation which had to wait for 40 years in the wilderness, sustained but not entering. Indeed, they even TRIED to enter when by faith they had not done so, by mere force (Numbers 14:39ff.); but their folly was recognised, and this was not to be. If you are going to act, do it by faith in the God who never fails; not otherwise. The former is wise; the latter mere madness.

If they had entered, then would have been a sustained victory, a glorious consummation, and the God who had guided them with cloud and fire, day and night from Egypt, would have swiftly satisfied their longings in purity and power. But they would not, and they did not do it.

Let this, should it reach anyone wondering and stumbling with a half-formed faith, be a warning, lesson and an enticement. Go with God through Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, STAY with His word the Bible, be washed if you fall, work as you rise and trust in Him with all your heart, not leaning to your own understanding, and HE will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:3-5).

In the day of Joshua, when that earlier generation had been lost and a new generation arose, they entered and some of the most prodigious miracles of all time happened, including the long day (Joshua 10). The Commander was with them (Joshua 5:13-15) - as by faith we find it so in Isaiah 55:4, and in Ephesians 4:4.

Then through faith they entered into the land of their quest, available for rest.

Thus Psalm 95 reviews the position of their fathers, who WOULD NOT ENTER IN! DO NOT harden your heart as they did: but rather enter by faith into your rest. You are, says Hebrews 12:28 receiving a kingdom from God, so enter into your rest (Hebrews 4). That is a rest past just one day per week, though by no means annulling that weekly time for the temple of the spirit, the human body. The kingdom you are receiving, the kingdom of heaven your surround, citizenship your present place, with a place being reserved for you in heaven your assured prospect (I Peter 1, Ephesians 1, II Timothy 1, John 5:24, John 4:14): thus you await in faith, either Christ's return, or your departure to be with Christ. As to that, it is is far better than merely being a Christian on this earth (Philippians 1:20-23), even though this has the relish even now of His reality. However you may not go until your have finished your work Such was the example of Paul.

This kingdom is yours, whether now on earth, if you are operative by saving faith in the God of all grace given freely, through Jesus Christ, the God as man Saviour and Lord, or in heaven with those led by Him as a Shepherd (Revelation 7): all things are yours (I Cor. 3:21-23), present and future. Nothing will separate you from the love of Christ, whether death of the body now or later judgment, now dismissed (John 5:24, Romans 8:33-39). Neither sleep nor weeping, neither time nor times, neither persecution nor nakedness, neither the works of faith in suffering (as in Hebrews 11), nor any other thing will allow you to be left or forsaken (Hebrews 13:5).

After passing away in this life, as one of His, you are WITH CHRIST. You are not benumbed, but alive to Him, which is far better than the knowledge of Him even now in active company and joyous marches, you continue right on,  in this kingdom received. You are not left, a dumped bundle, while He moves elsewhere; for how can He leave you without leaving you! YOU are there WITH HIM, never left. What is left is mortality, what is gained is immortality, and in everlasting life there is no cessation, and those wells that spring up to everlasting life, they do not cease to spring up (John 4:14). The resurrection to  come consummates it (Romans 8:23).

Those saints in heaven (Revelation6:9ff.) who were seeking an answer to the question HOW LONG! would the suffering on this earth continue, were not sleep talking, not unaware of pertinent data, not without cognition, imagination, intelligence, communication channel to the Saviour, for their word was to Him, HOW LONG O LORD! Nor did Moses and Elijah have no knowledge of things to come,  when they spoke with Christ centuries  after their time on this earth. Their topic was the death which He was about to execute (Luke 9:30). That is it, is it not ? It did not, in the ultimate sense, execute Him: He executed it; He performed this part of His plan, program, salvation odyssey, which would take Him as One sent express from heaven, through a virgin's womb, to become the greatest exponent of divine power ever seen on this earth, consummated in resurrection, applied as He preached to the spirits in prison, that is to those in exclusion, who had not found God on this earth (I Peter 3-4), so that in all things He might not only have the pre-eminence, but show the grounds for it

While you are on this earth, USE the time wisely, for it is your own, and giving it back to Christ, you make an investment of your opportunities, to be guided, governed and given grace for the best possible, indeed conceivable use of that time; for our times are in His hand, and how much better to be spontaneous, serviceable, in love transferring to Him, so that it becomes our reasonable service, to be living sacrifices for Him! (Romans 12:1-2). With Him, what is sacrifice! With Him, heaven is all about you, though hell should roar! It has both a throat and a heart infection, and our ears are graciously attuned elsewhere.

 

THE REST OF RELISH THAT NEITHER DRIVES NOR PAINS,
BUT LIVES IN PEACE IN THE LORD

Sleep and sloppiness, a test that adds turmoil and travail in this world to the attainment of eternal  salvation, a co-saviour situation which merely churns out words of  ambiguous, ambivalent character is of no use. Christ has done all: for salvation, our works are wholly irrelevant. Once you are His, you are saved (Titus 3,  Ephesians 2:1-12), and the whole work being of Himself, not of ourselves, there is no place here for any component but faith through grace: and that, it is entirely His work. Such is salvation; and the only doubt comes when the arrogant pride, presumption and rebellion of man wants  to give to himself some part in its attainment, somehow, somewhere, if by any means, like the children of Israel, they might make a further effort on their own (Numbers 14:39ff.). Thus some even call on His name, but while not waiting on His word. Then there is doubt indeed, as when a truck runs off the road: there is considerable doubt about where it will go then! That, it is not an option for the Christian, since Christ is the way, as well as the life and the truth.

You will then be brought up, sanctified; but NOTHING will separate you. HE will never  leave you. Thus let us concentrate, Christian brethren, on the road, the highway of holiness, not diverted by the unconverted, but resting in Him, in whose rest the children of Israel as in Numbers 14, did NOT rest, and entering into it, work hard, for this is the privilege of such rest of spirit and of soul as is His to give.

Now without saving faith,  it is as if you were the Israel which DID NOT enter the promised land when conducted right to its entry point; but with you who now believe, you DID. HENCE you did enter into your rest (as Psalm 95 shows they did not, though it was THERE for them to take, right then, an omission producing vast and horrid consequences). Therefore,  with relish,  consider it.

Now the rest provided for the children of God, of grace, of faith in Him, it is your own. In the midst of suffering or trials like those of Paul (I Corinthians 4, II Corinthians 4, I Corinthians 15), you may be cast down, but not out, assailed but not beaten, resting in the reliable Redeemer. It is not as with Israel, that having entered this Promised Land, now expressly for us all who believe, the life in Christ, you have foes to beat in your own strength (their required strength was given to faith), but rather the parade is past. Christ has already made a stinging show of all those powers, triumphing over them openly, leading them captive as the Roman armies exposed their beaten enemies, in triumphs publicly held in Rome (II Corinthians 2:14). Stronger too, is He who is in you than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).

Thus as you enter NOW, the entirety is already achieved, but your labours are not in vain in the Lord. He will NEVER either or forsake you, as He told Joshua. Never has no end. WITH you, He will therefore eternally be, your redemption irrepressible, eternal, free, assured, covering you who have not tasted it to spit it out, but received it as you entered into Christ and thus into an eternity with Him, which nothing can sever (Romans 8:29-36). THIS promised land is not on a promissory note; it is perpetual, continual, irreplaceable, unretractable, ineluctable, yours for ever, as is the Lord, for ALL THINGS are then yours, nothing is excluded, and NOTHING can separate you, whether you wait for Christ's return or continue with Him here till He comes.

The Trinity has achieved this thing: He has come, the eternal Word as man, seen eye to eye, face to face, intimate and vulnerable, tested and tried, open to question, able to answer direct, showing power, enduring grief, passing all tests in triumph, inspiring and firing, showing and allowing by direct placement, the ways of growth and divine loveliness. He has sent His Gospel, His Spirit indeed to empower, to illuminate, and He comes at last, having waited long, but not too long (II Peter 3:9).

He has envisaged, planned, procured, sent, saved, raised, redeemed, restored, remitted strength, given realisation, sent His Spirit, sealed, sustained: He returns, He resurrects, He dismisses what dislodges Him, and embraces in His threefold blessedness, all who have come.

All you need  to do, is to receive Christ, the Lord's Christ, through the godly Gospel, to enter the kingdom through Him as the only door (Acts 4:11-12, John 10:9,27-28) and as one of His sheep, then, you will neither perish nor fail to have everlasting life. This, it is not a pulsation of discontinuities, but one of the "all things" which are yours, one more constant than the stars (Romans 8:32), a donation that does not pass away, in a kingdom which never fluctuates, but continues forever.

What elevations in majesty are to come before all (as in Daniel 7:13-14), for Him (cf. Philippians 2:1-10), whose it is. What grand and  glorious peace is already His! From this, He gives a peace past all understanding, not dependent on works, but rejoicing to serve as He may appoint (Philippians 4:4-6). Of this inheritance there is no fading away (I Peter 1:4), for it is incorruptible. You are not bundled up like some orphan child, to be left in some mausoleum or emptiness without Him, as a log, forsaken in the wood pile. No, you are never left! for that Christ who is even far better after your passing (if He does not return first), than before, is He in whom you have at once a far better rest and a far more wonderful association than this world could offer (Philippians 1:20-23), He is with you!  True Shepherd, He pastures His flock where peace is profound, and everlasting joy in His presence is great (Isaiah 51:11, John 16:22, Revelation 21:4).