AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH January 20, 27, 2013
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith
THE THREE CONFRONTATIONS,
THE THREE GRIEFS
AND THE ONE TRIUMPH
THREE CONFRONTATIONS and THREE GRIEFS
1) Christ and the devil - Matthew 4, Revelation 12
The devil had hunger: as such he is depicted in Revelation 12, awaiting the birth of the Christ child, that he might devour it. Israel, the nation of 12 tribe fame (as Rome was that of seven hills notoriety) was the source for the foundational entry of God into the human race (Revelation 12:1 - Revelation 5 shows the deity status ). The startling addition that it was He who was to rule the nations with a rod of iron (as in Psalm 2,110), just when assault on Him is in view, shows the long-term plan in prominence. He however, having overcome the babe-assault of King Herod, and the body assault of official Israel, is "caught up to heaven" ? No, here it is to "God and to His throne." In other words, this is Part A of the program (as in Revelation 7:14), one trinitarian in scope (John 3:16, 16:5ff.).
God suffers for man, then man, in masses finding God to be insufferable, therefore suffers in collision with wholesome truth. Then Christ returns, having suffered in the flesh, now to rule the earth to show His glory and the wonder of it all for man, before God stripping away this earth and the heavens, like Primary School, moves on to a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells (II Peter 3). Moreover, this is for those who have drunk of the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17), with no contribution but reception through faith of the extraordinary offer of God (Isaiah 55).
Thus from the birth of Christ, the devil failed to prevent His endurance till the time for effectual sin-bearing sacrifice was ripe. Instead, he merely moved forward in futile wilfulness with Judas (John 13:27), in amazing ignorance of his part in the ruin which through the wisdom of God spelt vicarious victory for Christ in the end (cf. I Corinthians 2:7-8). It is staggering what follies hatred can secure, making many as if witless, even amid those who aim evilly! For some, dim hopes and disturbed longings may ignite as gunpowder under their personal house of parliament in their souls, Satan the match.
2) Christ and the treacherous church of the day - Mark 14:54-65
More subtly the treacherous quasi-church (Acts 7:38 - the proto-ecclesia from wilderness days) clamoured for compromise, not in His sufferings to be inflicted, but in the way to look at it - yes, He was important, but the nation more so, and this one man would be a sacrifice so that the nation would not be destabilised by unwise exhibition of power and glory, which could incite a confused Caesar! (John 11:49-53). Thus the devil in Herod and Judas, and the thoughts of self-preservation in the proto-church, that of Israel, co-operated with the State and the State with the religious leaders.
Then as now, many in religious high places, find compromise, concordats with the State convenient for what falsely appears their survival. Here the proto-church of the Old Testament becomes the full quasi-church, equally treacherous to Christ, in New Testament times, a mere mockery of that Church which is Christ's body. Now the quasi-church, the false body (cf. I and II Peter 2) crucifies, crushes or corrupts what it can get itS hands on, and ruins access to any mercy for itself. But there is an end. The beast, composite civil and religious as one, inherits his due (Revelation 19:20), in due recognition of the duo in their evil prime! (Revelation 13:11-12).
Thus, as with Rome and Jerusalem, this betrayal yields merely apparent gain, for just as Jerusalem was utterly destroyed within a little more than a generation, so the beast(s) with the false prophet of Revelation 16, all are met with a fate fitted to their hearts. It is to come, as that was to come, and duly came.
What however of current targets now ? Of these, there are three. First is the Bible, SOME re-writing and editing it with befouled and presumptuous hands (II Corinthians 4:1-6); second is the image of Christ. Editing that amiss with hideous surrealism, they seek to create a sort of contemporary version of convenience, instead of the historic figure of Isaiah 52:12-15, and 53, bent on acting as if to reform Him to conform to their own desires. Thus, they mislead many just as Peter foretold for the last part of this Messianic Era, the Christians their third target, the subversion of souls or the slaughter of saints the aim, depending on conditions.
So just as confrontation by the proto-church with the State in alliance with it, led to calamity, so the quasi-church inherits shame, nor at last did the collaborating State do better; but more of that later. Outwardly, destruction was to the victims, but ultimately it is to the perpetrators of the betrayal.
Civilisations suffered and suffer (USA and Britain, both once strong in Christian testimony, but not now). Like stars, however, enhanced by contrast with darkness in their light, some valiant for the truth, are shining as such stars have shone (Daniel 12:3), pinpoints of Christian courage and character.
3) Christ and the culture-conniving nation - John 18:13 - 19:16
We now specialise on the international aspect amid the nations (cf. Revelation 13). At this time, not only radical nations in direct hostility to Christ's way (ex-USSR, China, Pakistan, Iran) or in open suppression of His witness (Saudi-Arabia, Iraq, Caspian Islamic hegemonies, some in Africa), but others in more clandestine hostility, work at least in the same manner. Trying at times to appear ambivalent, as Australia, Europe, the USA, they show their drift in increasingly dynamic unveilings of their idols or idolatrous dynamics (cf. for Australia, Now the Highway, Then the Heights Ch. 8 and Epilogue, for the USA, The Unsearchable Riches... Ch. 4).
All make their various official Pilate acts (The Christian Prescription Ch. 5, Glory, Vainglory and Goodness Ch. 5, Bon Voyage Ch. 4, His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 3). While many individuals and some organisations resist this flow, it is the overall go, even children being filled with sham, unashamedly (cf. TMR Ch. 8, Beauty for Ashes Ch. 3), in what passes for education, but in this field is simple spiritual seduction through indoctrination. This the directive politicians and directed educators do, in astonishing blindness or wilting weakness (cf. Romans 1:17ff.); but they have no rest (Isaiah 59:19-20). Children are not given to become State wards while living in the homes of supporters, the while.
As in Revelation 12:15-17, the devil acts vigorously to inundate his victims, but the earth swallows it up, that great enveloping tide of infectious culture, booming its flood waters, while the Standard of Truth is fearlessly raised (Psalm 60:4). This Standard continues its power, as is the case with the cross (John 12:32).
It is this which put paid to the alliance between sin and sentence, for those who in Christ seek peace, that they may gain it where it is to be found (Philippians 4:4-6, Isaiah 26:1-3). But where there is dereliction from truth and duty, backing off from the beauty of holiness and the rule of the Creator in Christ, the remedy for sin (Acts 4:11-12), both unique and necessary as Saviour: then folly gains its reward.
Since the banner because of the truth is ignored, therefore the impertinent impenitence meets exposure in the end, in memorable episodes: as for Babylon, Tyre, Nineveh, formerly, so now the judgment is arising for the whole world, this time not flood but fire the mode before the new heavens and earth, following judgment. Ignominy is the inheritance of the rebellious nations (cf. Micah 7, Isaiah 2, Daniel 12). Warning enough was given, as one often finds minor editions of national and other judgments, on the way. The finale exposed in the Bible is one not to be forgotten! (Revelation 19, Psalm 2, 110, Isaiah 59, Micah 5, Isaiah 2).
GRIEF AND ITS GOAD Great have been the confrontations with false churches, spurious nations and the very devil in person, for he is a person, and a guileful and subtle one at that (Matthew 4, Ephesians 6:11, II Corinthians 2:11). The creation of God, this he likes for input, disaster for output, such is his grievance against God (Revelation 12, Ezekiel 28:12ff.), the worship of whom, rather than of himself, he detests. The devil is not so derisively dismissed now that the modern mind has had its own pride abased in the last century of almost unspeakable abominations, clamour and mass murder.
Great therefore have been the griefs, when disillusion replaces illusion, amongst failing individuals, societies or nations, and often enough, intransigence continues (cf. Isaiah 1:5-6, Jeremiah 7:8ff), till doom announces its open freeway (Revelation 9:20-21).
GLORY AND ITS GOODNESS There has however been one greater grief from one greater glory: that of Christ, seized in the rapacities of hatred of goodness, slain slowly in the magnitudes of fraud, bearing sin while producing none, in love facing disdain and in rejection, outfacing it with truth (Matthew 22:46). In the seeming impotence of death, He smashed its portals and resurrected from the dead, showed and insisted on exhibiting the broken insignia of death in the wonder of unquenchable life (Luke 24:39), even eating fish as they watched.
In the body of His incarnation, murder and resurrection, the scope was small in size (by astronomical standards); but it was illimitable in significance: for there faith had a central situation, by its own testimony, the investigable wounds and wonder the most central practical criterion of Christianity ever since (Romans 10:9, Gal. 6:14). It stood for much; it signified more. This testimony, in its biblical, historical and logical setting, may be examined, but never rationally rejected. The necessity of the location of the divine remedy for man is the the theme in The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy. The Bible specified it; Christ secured it.
Reason bows to it. What then ? If the highest creation had been mere automata, virtual robots, then indeed there would be neither sin nor meaning. If on the other hand, they were to be given liberty for alliance, there is scope for great evil. No verbal pretences can hide this simple fact. How then could this be resolved ? It became needful to dispense with the former option and to secure the latter. This requires countermanding action that is more than a command, lest freedom perish in efforts to rescue it. More than command! but not less (Acts 17:30), since the method can be rigorous, while the taking of it can be open. How then ? It has been divinely resolved. It is in rescue from freedom's results. Otherwise, amid the fumbling, stumbling, mumbling, the seductions and misconstructions, the severed sequences of those from the first producing the results of their sin amid the ongoing race, who could stand!
What a wonderful method and means the Lord has chosen. What a glorious rescue, itself the criterion of love, without which it would not exist! Rescue through redemption with a depth born of deity, a price required by justice, a reconstruction freely available and a bearing of sin meaning death for the Prince of Life, the very eternal Word of God - that He could and would come, and that with delight (Psalm 40, Hebrews 12:1-2). Here is glory for the trinity, with gore for the Saviour, remittance not by cash, but from sin, from the smitten Lord.
GLADNESS AND ITS GROUND This greater grief on the way (Hebrews 5:7), becomes therefore the Greatest of All Triumphs, that of life over death, disrupted body yielding to resurrection of the same, rejected salvation thus made available to believers through that very, transitory but agonising death which the Saviour suffered, wrought with the wisdom of God and the love, it becomes like the moon and the sun in the spiritual skies (I Corinthians 2:6-8).
Thus like a beacon, a glorious lighthouse beams the spiritual sequence:
successful crucifixion as foretold in Psalm 22 and
before by Christ Himself repeatedly, before His death,
physical and testable reality of His resurrected body (foretold in Psalm
informed and transformed dire delight of the disciples,
verified gateway to immortality, open for inspection, with
unavailability of the same to murderous authority to parade, and
following donation of spiritual power (Acts 2) as also foretold by prophet
All these things are the testimonial of truth, ever present, usually rejected, always inspectable whether earlier physically or now logically (cf. SMR Ch. 6), unanswerable except on one ground: preference for darkness (Matthew 15:13ff., John 3:19). It is a very beautiful situation, such triumph amid such provocation, such pardon amidst such guilt (Isaiah 53-55), available without price (Isaiah 55 amplifies on this), through a love illimitable and a justice which refuses to take action, till mercy has done all!
How chaste is the love of God. It is illimitable (Ephesians 3), but it does not cease to be love because of that. Whom He loves, these also He chastens (Revelation 3:19); far better is that than what John 3:19 offers as the price of mere obduracy. Truth purifies, love draws.