AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH September 17, 2006
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
VICTORIOUS LIVING IN CHRIST
The Blessed Peace of Rest
in accordance with Hebrews 4:6-11
Last time we saw that THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE LIFE OF PERSONS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT,
IS NOT FOR SPIRITUAL AUTOMATA BUT LIVING CHILDREN OF GOD.
NOT FOR THE PAGEANTRY OF PENTECOSTAL EXCESSES
BUT FOR THE SIMPLICITY OF FAITH,
NOT FOR PARADES OF PSEUDO-PERFECTION
BUT IN PEACE.
Today we look at the amazing reality, that the FIGHT aspect in VICTORY - where the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, that body of self-will and independence from God - is not only given and indeed granted victory as we saw last week, by the power, presence and promises of God. It is indeed blended with a rest in heart which is the cordial of vitality and the signature of the sovereign God.
I THE SPIRITUAL SETTING
I THE SPIRITUAL SETTING
We have meditated on Romans 8:5-11 last week.
You operate then by Christ's power, and not by dollops of your own; for dithering in dynamics of blindness, as without the control of your Creator is as foolish as following the deadly dynamics of self-possessed, self-assured numbness of heart, and blundering occlusion of spirit. What is contrary to Christ needs no site, should have no dwelling place in the heart, nor access to it. Rather, disowning such intruders, one must fight and act, and resolve, and trust and not fear. It is personal, more so than mountain-climbing, since these mountains ARE personal.
This is faith's milieu; and to ignore what is primary data for the recipient, the personal from which the rest is mere inference, it is as foolish as going to a doctor to have a leg restored, when the poor man does not realise that legs exist!
It is then that you must act, if you act in godly fashion at all, as seeing Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). who made all that is visible to be such, constrained, endowed with qualities and features, set up and set in the organised mass of inter-related controls. Now the same Creator invisibly acts with most visible results (Hebrew 11:1ff, Mark 11:23ff.). Thus just as you operate by Christ's power, so you work in His presence, one not of pressurising push, but godly leading.
Therefore as we abide personally in the very personal Lord, so operating in the form in which we were created, and to which as Christians we have been restored (Colossians 3:10), then the entire perspective, orientation, scope of its formation, integration, spiritual access to Christ, proceeds to operate. For the Christians, born of God, our hearts are united, each one, in purpose and worship (Psalm 86:11), in precept and power, in His presence and will. It is in this milieu that the 'finger' can tap the key of power (Mark 11:23ff.), or simply having access to the Lord, convey the message that leads to an action (Isaiah 64:5), both divine and individual. This can deliver, direct, disentangle, re-orient or cover whatever other aspect needs attention (Psalm 145:17-20).
So does He bring the prow of the sailing vessel to land! How often in Mark and Matthew's Gospels, it may indeed occur in John, do we find sudden or direct action, with the word "immediately" appended, as Christ moves amidst the world of mankind. Some trying, challenging, difficult, undefined or disorderly action arises, only to be followed by the point that "immediately" Christ took action, that the resolution occurred, or that the realisation was aroused, brought to life. Naturally, not all such actions are of this chronologically advanced kind, but many are, and their genre is most striking as Christ walks with His disciples.
Such cases may be seen in such sites as Mark 1:31,42, 2:8,12, 4:39, 6:50, 10:52 as in John 6:21.
II THE STRENGTH of HIS REST
An Irresistible Rest
Whether at the directly spiritual level, the physical, the geographical - it is the same. We wait - we are to depend on His dependability - and when He is ready and ... we are, He acts (cf. Isaiah 64:5). Faith operates freely, not by force. Judgment waits long, but sums up at the end. Freedom is to serve God, not be be god; and when it is expressed, it is assessed! Indeed, when He is ready He will act globally at His return for His saints, as He institutes the events of the End of the Age.
The time is near, and we know so much about this period, simply because the "end" has much specific delineation in the Bible (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5), and the match is not only precise, but includes elements of a unique character, permitting no possible error. One of these is Israel's return to possess and govern Jerusalem, the case since 1967 (Luke 21:24). No wonder the world clutches towards regaining it. It is unsettling to Satan to see the plans move on to the end (cf. Revelation 12:10-12)!
Thus, as His people pray, His
answer comes as He will,
but meets the need of His personal saints in ways,
justly personal and then spreading,
reaching as far as the movement of upstart mountainous folds and the
entire change of situations apparently irresistible and irremediable.
Moreover, while we Christians fight the good fight against the world and for those who might be won from it (II Timothy 4), against the flesh and the devil, the powers of darkness and the insidious desires of false ideologies (Ephesians 6), the confusion and rambunctious forces of spiritual seduction (II Peter 2:1ff., II Corinthians 11), mental subordination and physical weakness, there is in Christ after all, beyond all this, over us like a cloud, under it like a rock, an irresistible rest - Isaiah 11:10
"And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious."
There is an indispensable and undispersible peace, because of utter reliance on His word, His power and His love, His mercy and His pity, His fatherly favour (Psalm 103) and His irreparable ruination of all that is contrary to the Gospel and glory, in the destiny and dynamic of His people. The reliance is on what is objective; and it works without limit, for who will limit the Lord! (Psalm 78:41).
This is no small part of the point in Hebrews 4:5-11, for the rest of God
Himself is available.
It comes in abiding, searching, seeking, loving, waiting and acting in the presence of Him who calls, not to dissidence but dynamic conformity. It is He who enables even when we are weak, by His own power (II Cor. 12:9-10).
To faith is rest granted (Hebrews 4:11,16), when it is based in the sufficiency of Christ and His resurrection power displayed when His body did not rot but rose (Romans 10:9, Luke 24, Acts 2); as also on His word (Matthew 7:24ff.): and it embraces His promises, whatever is needed to glorify God and to grant a live of godliness (II Peter 1, Hebrews 1). By grace through faith, it is granted (Matthew 11:28-30); and in faith, it operates by love so that in all things God being present, is active and glorified (Galatians 5:16-26).
We who are His are not restless in His rest, though knowing our God we must fight in His faith (Daniel 11:32, II Timothy 4:2-8). Knowing our place in Him, we do so, using spiritual weapons, against spiritual forces (Ephesians 6), while it is His Spirit who brings love, joy, rest in His wisdom, faith and strength (Ephesians 3:16, Galatians 5), as those who bring munitions, the munitions however of peace.
"Quietness and assurance forever" are as Isaiah 32:17 declares, "the EFFECT of righteousness," His! (Isaiah 32:2, 53:4-5,10-11, Romans 5:17, 3:23-27, Galatians 3:1-9, Matthew 11:28-30, Hebrews 4:8-10, 9:12, 10:10-14, Psalm 71:16, Romans 10:1-4, 5:17). It is moreover as Isaiah declares "for ever", for it is as Hebrews states, "eternal redemption", our "anchor" having gone for assurance "beyond the veil", beyond symbols into eternal realities, where the place prepared is the place assigned (I Peter 1:1-5, John 14:1ff.).
Rest comes from faith, when that faith is in reality, and the reality being personal, we have the witness within us of the Spirit from the personal Prince of life, promoting peace. Just as the price of it paid, the revelation made, confirmed, verified and victorious, the fruit of it within us, as from Christ: so is His word fulfilled (John 14:15-20). Thus it may be received freely (as in Isaiah 55:1-6, as in Romans 3), and by His people, it is (Romans 3:23-2, Galatians 3)!
Prodigious as it is, it is without price (I Peter 1:18ff, Isaiah 55:1-4.), not being valueless, but priceless! There is no limit to His faithfulness, His power; and His rest is proportionately glorious (cf. Isaiah 11:1). What He said, He has done ... personally in Christ (cf. II Cor. 5:17-21); and what He has accomplished, He has applied, by the vitality of the Spirit whom He sends (John 15:26). Daily more find Him; daily more learn to abide in Him, and experience this, that His resting place is glorious!
The gift of eternal life induces rest, but it also produces robust zeal to honour the Lord in body, mind and work (Romans 12:1), in labours many, in quest for His glory unceasing. If any are overtaken in any sin, there is the barrister at hand (I John 2:1-2), and blessed discipline as required (Hebrews 12). The life in the Lord is comprehensive, personal, intimate and objectively addressed in the premisses, the promises and the fatherly power of God Almighty, through the Word incarnate, the Lord of glory, crucified, resurrected, communicating not only peace and rest, for the job is already finished, but a joy that cannot be quenched, like a flame continuing in a log of oak, all night.
Watchman, asks the character in Isaiah, what of the night ? The reply: the morning comes but also the night. If you will enquire, enquire! Return, come back! (Isaiah 21:11). A similar confrontation appears in Revelation 18, where "My people" are warned to COME OUT of the false works of spurious and furious religion!
It is Christ who is crucial, the Lord's Christ and not some concoction of the thoughts of man. Then rest is in realisation of reality, in knowledge of Him on whom all experience and knowledge is based, from whom all wisdom comes, whose speech is everlasting in truth, immutable in message, glorious in Gospel, whose is all power and whose promises are oases in the desert, whose words are as distilled water and whose courage, character and grace are as a forest of blooms, magnolias in their magnificence, filling the garden, refreshing in rest, garlanded in beauty, like wistarias trailing from the high branches, against the blue sky.
Dallying with infinity has interminable results. It is necessary to act, to rely on and rest in Him; and to remember what Jesus said:
"Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal
and these are they which testify of Me.
But you will not come to Me, that you might have life."
Come, therefore, act!
III REST IN THE ROCK
There is rest in the Rock of certainty, of security, the life of spirituality which is in Christ (cf. the presentation in SMR pp. 570-581). It is not a supine rest, but a sacrificial fiesta, where the Lamb having already been slain, the work of eternal redemption finished (Hebrews 9), the labours of His love are a joy even under duress, sacrifices for Him are merely reciprocity with thankfulness (Revelation 12:11). It is so in things both small and great (cf. Revelation 12:11, Galatians 6:1-2). Here faith having already received eternal life (John 5:24, 6:40,50-55, 4:14, Romans 6:23, 10:9), where the appointments of destiny on this earth are realised, relished and wrought before the time of His return, there is eager anticipation of this great event (Hebrews 9:28), the balm for beauty and the judgment for what ruins the life He has given.
In all these things, in Christ, we find one thing. With God, nothing shall be called impossible (Luke 1:37,42). That is the experiential as well as the historical fact. As history, unveiled in prophecy, anoints the eye with fulfilments of His word continually, so does joy surge like a river about the individual, and it has much on which to move (Ezekiel 47), for the Lord having already worked redemption, works in His people, both to will and to do (Philippians 2). His performance is practical, His path is pure, His way is reasonable, and is based on the love in which the created, redeemed soul rests as in a meadow, for there are no limits here.
As Proverbs 15:24 puts it, so it is found to be: "The way of the Lord winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell beneath."
Crashes are easy, and when the equipment is under-valued, and its Maker despised, there is only confusion in collaboration with unrealism. The denial of reality in Christ, this brings only the ruin which design ignored finds in intemperate and wilful ignorance of the Creator's love which is better than a thousand laws, and uses truth and mercy in inspiring integrity (John 14:6, Psalm 89).
Law however is not dead because love rules. Yet its cost of breach is met (Romans 10:4-9, 5:17. Galatians 3); and truth in peace embraces what is right with the rest and relish of righteousness both divine and freely granted. To the soul, it is rest from one's own works (Hebrews 4) and delighted participation in His. The living God leads (Psalm 32, Acts 13.16. 8): it is not the propulsion of push but the drawing of kindness. Small wonder it is joy; for WE as Ephesians 2 reminds the Christian, are His workmanship. Indeed this is in two respects, creation and redemption, and in redemption is nearness to God, and rest in the Lord. It is precisely in the heart as in the word, at Isaiah 27:5 and 32:17. It does not change.