AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
Presbyterian Call to Christ - July 10, 2005
TRAVELLING ON THE WAY TO GLORY
I THE PERSPECTIVE
For the Christian, on his or her way to glory, whose presence is there for company ? It is the God who, having met sin in Jesus Christ, is by Him able and willing to transform and accompany His people. It is He who in the end conforms their new relationship, ex-earth, via a new heavens and new earth and in heaven itself, by subduing all things to Himself. This He does, even to the extent of providing a new body, as one might put a new case on a computer, indeed have a computer adequate for the case as well. This we see, at the ultimate, in the "spirits of just men made complete" as in Hebrews 12.
What then do we find ?
power to PUT INTO EXISTENCE;
power to REDEEM that existence;
power to bring what is saved,
those who are redeemed to the full stature of eternal citizenship in the heaven
which is the haven prepared, as in John 14.
The end, like the beginning, has power, and the dynamic of the creation and of salvation is there; and for all the power, yet this eternity, this end, this destiny for converted man, in Christ: it is personal, individual and fascinatingly elevated in conception as in consummation of what has gone before. So do Revelation 5, 20-22, Philippians 3, John 14, I Thess. 4 so clearly show; and where God shows, fact follows, since nothing can abort or contort, qualify or alter His word, eternal in the heavens as Psalm 119 so beautifully says.
Such is the power of the kingdom of heaven.
It is in this realm that Paul has moved while yet on the earth, and it is in this Christ that he has lived, so that this end is merely the completion of the course, and the rest provided for the agents of mercy, the lovers of God, the propounders of the Gospel of grace, who are also its recipients (cf. Matthew 28:19ff.).
II THE VICISSITUDES OF THE WAY: SO WATCH!
Now all this is preceded by the journey, when the Christian is en route to this consummation in Christ. This travelling time, it is no mere simplicity. There are challenges, as is meet for what is to be developed.
Thus in II Corinthians 1, Paul shows how despite the magnificence of the provisions of the Lord, and the many exploits done in His name, he on one occasion became tense, concerned and troubled, feeling almost that he had already finished his course in this world, as if death were near;
but it was not so. Thus he was met, comforted and delivered by the Lord in that, as in all else! (cf. Isaiah 64:5). To the Corinthians, he says this:
"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren,
of our trouble which came to us in Asia:
that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.
"Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves,
that we should not trust in ourselves
but in God who raises the dead,
"who delivered us from so great a death,
and does deliver us;
in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,
you also helping together in prayer for us,
that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf
for the gift granted to us through many."
Despite such dramatic moments, the enduring patience and power of the Lord in peace within continues like a stream that on occasion, leaps over the rocks into some little waterfall, before continuing its appointed path through the meadows (Philippians 4:4-9).
This you see in the end of II Cor. 4 and in II Cor. 5:
"Therefore we do not lose heart.
Even though our outward man is perishing,
yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
"For our light affliction,
which is but for a moment, is working for us
a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen.
"For the things which are seen are temporary,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.
"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed,
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens.
"For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our
which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed,
we shall not be found naked.
"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened,
not because we want to be unclothed,
but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.
Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God,
who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
"So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in
we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body
and to be present with the Lord.
"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent,
to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear
before the judgment seat of Christ,
that each one may receive the things done in the body,
according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
"Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;
but we are well known to God,
and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”
When Christ is your Advocate and Ransom, a living payment and a faithful Saviour, then that terror gives way in His presence (Rev. 5). HE has provided, demonstrated, delivered. So is it all external, objective, like the flowers of beauty, the roses of fragrance, visible in its performance and irresistible in its wonder; but like the thorns and the manure, there are things to be done, to be endured, there is tribulation to be met, persecution to be overcome, as the garden of the Lord is made ready, and the work of His testimony completed.
This, no less than the power and the wonders of His guidance and deliverance, is the continual exhibition of His greatness: for in everything, whatever the challenge, it is met; whatever the pain, it is overcome; whatever the inhibition, the cross is its target, and whatever the need, it is given.
The power of His resurrection is the measure of power available for His purposes (Ephesians 1:19) for His people; and these, they are not to covet the kingdoms of this world, which in His day will becomes the kingdoms of the Lord (Rev. 11:15), but to overcome and to replace them, at last, the very heavens collapsing as the saga over, the curtain falls on this stage, and rises on that, His own.
THE DRAMA OF THE BATTLE
TO THE WONDER OF THE END OF THE RACE
In the interim, valour, virtue and vigour alike are needed, watchfulness in prayer, the seizing by faith of the will of God and the comparison of all one's works and ways with the criteria God has given in the Bible, for refinement and growth, as in dynamic surge, or in patient continuation, possessing the promises, one proceeds till the work is done, the purpose of God is fulfilled and the divine light has led us to the contribution's end, for which we have been assigned and in which enabled.
Thus, Paul, having done much, suffered much, endured all things, continued to the apparent end of his course, setting continents aflame with the fire of truth and the wonder of salvation, declared this in the 4th Chapter of II Timothy. It was on the occasion of some vigorous trial at which enemies
had sought to bring death to the apostle, just as Judas did bring death by betrayal, to Christ (cf. Joyful Jottings 25).
With Paul, it was an item on the way, just as with Christ it was a vastly foretold procedure, showing both to and at the end the inveterate disjunction from God, which is one of the foremost pillars of all evil.
"But the Lord stood
with me and strengthened me,
so that the message might be preached fully through me,
and that all the Gentiles might hear.
And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
"And the Lord will
deliver me from every evil work
and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.
To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!"
This kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, there is nothing like it, for there is nothing and no one like God, whose it is, and like Christ, His eternal expression, the "I am" (John 8:58, 17:1-3, 5:19-23), on earth, who was there before Abraham so much as took foot to the earth!
DO you so walk with the Lord NOW ?
If not, why not! If you do, then the next step is but one… the resurrection after death, or when He returns if you are still living, one flowing like a mountain stream into the meadows. It follows. Christ is not a word, a syllable, a vocable, but a life!
If now you depart before He comes, it is as Paul says, far better (Philippians 1:23); but when He comes, one and all of His are taken with Him, for Him and through Him. This world is but a passage, a journey.
Not therefore in half-healed refusniks do we find anything of authenticity or reality, but rather disgrace and shame; and not the less is this so, if they have all forgotten how to blush.
Not there, but in the faith in Christ, and the Christ who is its object, is there to be found
¨ the candour of the converted soul,
¨ that conquest over this world, over the fleshly appetite both to run things and to be in the field of the devil,
¨ that willingness to do the will of God, enlightened with vision, enabled with gracious power (Ephesians 1:17-19), which is the inheritance of the saints and to the glory of the God, not of this world, but the One who alone is God, and who made it (Isaiah 44-46).