AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
OCTOBER 26, 2003
TALKING FAITH AND WALKING FAITH
I Corinthians 15:13 to the end
No, this is not to feature a contrast. These are simply two of the things that faith does, and Paul shows both in this passage. The heart filled with Christ demands expression, and the body filled with His zeal demands action. That is all.
But to the topic: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1. A SIMPLE SAMPLE OF FAITHLESS MEANDER
I Cor. 15:12-20. The thoughtless confusion is exposed, of speaking of Christ and then acting as if there were no resurrection of the dead. Here is the absolute case of ‘believing’ and not even thinking what it is about, as if religion were of all things the most emotional, irrelevant and confused. This is merely the obverse side of disbelief, which knowing nothing of the reality of God in creation, in the new creation of one’s life, in the scriptures, not yet His power, turns off thought and gabbles. Christ rebuked such an approach (Matthew 28:22ff.).
"You err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that what was spoken to you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
It is in such folly that liberalism had its day, just like the Sadducees of old, speaking as if the Bible meant something to them, and then immediately going back to their useless categories of thought, their truth-reduced emulsions, like dogs returning to their vomit, as Peter puts it. Similarly “New Age” may sometimes dare to refer to a “Church”; but its thoughts are man’s thoughts, and first would gag truth, so that they might speak for it. Truth however has categorically spoken for itself to ALL AGES, and does not change (cf. Psalm 102, Malachi 3:6, Matthew 5:17-20, Rev. 22:18ff.).
All such things are readily
found through the simple test of the Bible. It lasts, does not need to change,
speaks from the first, and informs us of what is coming to the last! How puny,
or example, are the empty thoughts of the Koran, untested except in this, that
the almighty Allah fails constantly to impose His will; though his people try
hard enough, as Dr Mahathir this week has made so clear
Chapter 10 below
cf. More Marvels … Ch. 4,
SMR pp. 1080ff.,
This form of false religion, ill-attested from the first and unverified to the last, fails as it has done and must do; as likewise does science falsely-so-called, as Paul calls it in I Timothy 6, where the reference to knowledge embraces all knowledge that men tend to idolise, even their own!
Biblical Christianity however, is not, despite PM John Howard’s erroneous thought expressed this week, a matter of higher levels or lower, nor is the Koran at all comparable with it in this, his thrust against extremism and terrorism, yes and prejudice.
On the contrary, the Bible’s message of justice and judgment is true and unaltered from the first in Genesis 3 to the last in Rev. 22; and such is no less the case with the Gospel from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 (cf. TMR Ch. 3, Barbs ... 17). Nor does the love of God at all abate, because of judgment, since HE HIMSELF took this judgment making a clearance available to all, even to as many as TAKE HIM (John 6:50ff.).
The Psalms are as full of mercy and tenderness and reprobation as is the book of Revelation, and for that matter, John (John 3:15-19, is followed by John 3:36), in the same vein of Gospel and glory or judgment and eternal estrangement. In mind in the protevangelium in Genesis 3:15 is the Gospel mined by Christ, in the tomb, and manifested in His resurrection. The same love in the same plan for the same purpose of the same God for the same mankind which in the same series of sinfulnesses required the same extradition from hell, has always been operative.
Always what the Lord has spoken of, the everlasting Gospel (Rev. 14, Ephesians 1:4) does not flit or flutter, but soars like an eagle, seeing all, imparting knowledge, providing pardon, doing it in love, but expressing the reality that without this mercy, there is no other (John 3:17-19,36).
As to judgment, it is according to truth (Romans 2:1), which being violated by surmising man, violates in the end, what is not repentant into the Father’s hands: and it does so by the way appointed (Acts 17:31, Luke 13:1-13. There is no other name given among men but Christ’s (Acts 4:11-12), no other Saviour by whom they MUST be saved (Isaiah 43:10-11, 52-53), but He, God as man, sent for this purpose. There is no other Redeemer (John 19), no other confirmed and validated Lord (Ephesians 4:4); and with Him NOTHING is comparable (John 7, Psalm 89:8ff., John 14:6). As the Psalmist declares in 73:25ff.:
"Whom have I in
heaven, but You ?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Indeed, what is more "extreme" than the truth, and what was more potent in reaction to just this, than the high priestly body when Christ was crucified. To be the ONLY GOD is extreme, extremely true of Christ as the Lord in flesh (Micah 5:1-3), smitten, and saving in the process in glorious wisdom and power: and Christ biblical place is extremely repulsive to the Muslim book, the Koran, which has no redemption, no deity come as man, no substitutionary atonement to cover His people, no free gift, no salvation by grace through faith, no love that shows God becoming man to enable man freely to find God, and to live forever with Him, based on God's own excruciating judgment, suffered for man: for as many as so receive Him (John 1:12-14), for the One who He is (Matthew 20:13-16), who has done what He did (Romans 10:9, John 20:24-29).
Rather than being able to join forces with followers of a false prophet in fighting extremism, Christ is the most extreme, God is the most extreme: it is always extreme for ANYONE to tell the truth AS the truth, with no option for argument, though with vast scope for reason. Collision with Christ is common throughout history, and the history of this world shows it. His principles are voided, His ways are assailed, His purity is to be combined, His words are to be synthesised, the world is to be served and not to serve Him, His love is to be compared with the insignificant by contrast, His call is to be compromised, and He, the incomparable God, is to be made a matter of levels, the integrity of His will and word bypassed! (See Spiritual Refreshings ... Ch. 10, SMR pp. 582ff.).
THE RESULT IN THE WORLD ? it IT IS AS YOU NOW SEE IT!
2. THE HIGHWAY FOR FAITH I Cor. 15:20-28
Here we see the vast scope of faith: the first man, being designed and endowed, slipped, fell and inherited death, and in him, all receive this tragedy for our race. The second man in the overall dynamics, is Christ, who saved and imparted salvation to all who would receive it, to those foreknown by Himself, who applies it. When He has done all, defeating the final enemy, death in the resurrection also, He restores to His eternal Father, the Lordship that He exercised, and with the Father, one Trinity reigns forever (cf. Revelation 5, 21-22). It is one of the extreme beauties of holiness that just as Christ yields to the Father, so the Father endues Him with parity, with glory and with praise.
THE WORK OF FAITH – WHAT
FLOWS FROM IT! I Cor. 15:29-34
Did those who died, as Christians, have others take their due place, being baptised into Christ, for some odd reason ? Does Paul suffer inordinately for fun ? Will genuine Christians live for themselves or for their Lord, following Him in His intense serviceability, who redeemed. Will they then act, themselves, AS redeemed: not for idleness or idolatry, but for believing action in the power of God.
4. THE FACTS OF FAITH – THE SCOPE OF IT I Cor. 15:35-50
Facing then the practical question, How are the dead raised ? Paul compares the new body with the germination from seed, wrought in this case by the natural process miraculously made at the first. Considering DIFFERENCES of body, he compares diverse astronomical lights (which in fact DO differ enormously, as in the case of quasars). Pursuing the theme of germination, he declares that the body of man, now in sin with its penalties physically (for we still await the resurrection of the body – cf. Romans 8:23), is sown a natural body, but raised a spiritual one. The contrast is not between the physical (which would be fusikos not yukikos) and the spiritual, but between the natural unit with its corrupted emotions and liabilities, and the spiritual. It is not, said Paul, that I want to be stripped or naked, relative to body, but covered over, over-coated (II Corinthians 5). It is not less specific, but more, eternal; it is not that the resurrected body could not endure being poked or gripped (Luke 24, Matthew 28), and indeed such potency is specific to the faith (John 20:27-29), a criterion for ever for all, in faith, and then in fact a characteristic. It is that it will be glorified, and like His, who in resurrection was thus, and THEN proceeded to be glorified, and as such will He return (I John 3:1-5, John 20:17).
It is this spiritually pure and constant body which at the resurrection is supernaturally conveyed, as indeed the natural body was in the first place, through creation: but this is fit to live for ever, and specifically designed for that, and not for mere testing of man’s spirit within it! It surpasses, it abounds, it is the triumphal contribution from the victor, Christ.
Inspired, Paul summarises:
“As we have borne the image
of the man of dust,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
THE FUTURE OF FAITH – THE GRACE OF ITS OUTCOME IT I Cor. 15:51-58
“Corruption,” says the apostle, “cannot inherit corruption.” Now comes a mystery: a select piece of dramatic, specific divine divulgement. What is this ? Just as God spoke and commanded, at the first, and it was done; just as God spoke into our hearts, who are His, and the new man arose in spirit (II Corinthians 6, 5:17ff.): so again, in the twinkling of an eye, as befits the work of so great a Creator of man, now changing man’s format, the dead will be raised. In what way will they be raised ? Incorruptible. The mortal will now have immortality as its divine donation, for the death that Christ swallowed up, is now exposed in defeat, with life triumphant for man: as by One, so for all.
This final victory is sweet, intelligent, compassionate, exalted, grace-filled, power’s trophy, Christ’s prize, purchased in love for the unlovely.
What then is the point of being frustrated, incapacitated in depression, fulminating in moods, playing with this world’s modes! It is vain, vainglorious, foolish, a fiasco. Live as becomes those for whom life knows no end, being given immortal in kind, incorruptible in state. “Therefore, my beloved brethren,” declares the apostle, “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
We have been talking faith, and showing Christ’s actions. This now is for you: walking in faith!
If you do not yet believe,
the power of God, in the resurrected Christ,
in repentant heart,
the gift by grace of His eternal life (Romans 5:15, 6:23, 3:23ff.),
walking in the Spirit,
not obeying the will of the flesh:
be abundant in liveliness, on account of the loveliness of the Lord.