AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – I OF 3
The Just One Acts 3:14
A SERIES OF 3 SERMONS
CHRIST IS NOT FOUND IN THE IMAGINATION
BUT IN THE RECORD,
then according to Promise, in the Heart
March 27, April 3, 10
The Dates are Prospective, as the Lord Wills
For a fuller treatment in a contemporary context, see Impossible to Man, Open to God Ch. 2
The simplicity in Christ would be neglected, amid the sophistication of cultural marriages, when some 'christ', which would produce illicit children of desire, is in prominent focus. You see this in early phases in II Corinthians 11:3 where Paul says this:
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
Let us then consider the case of desire and reality concerning Jesus Christ.
This brings us to some of the current proclivities of man, and to reality by contrast.
I THOUGHTS AND FACTS
You may say in this Age that things are mathematical, so accurate, so moonlanding-ishly technical, so precise, that everything is computed. We have steel girders, and consider star wars. We have massive constructions from which soaring missiles proceed to the heavens - such that if there was the slightest mistake, millions of dollars or pounds, might evaporate in the gaseous fervour behind the exploding sleek object, designed for the heavens.
You may say this is an Age in which things are precise, so well-honed, so engineered, including DNA snippets, that we are in danger of losing that genteel lambency of the human spirit: that the things gentle, humble, merciful, kind, distinctively human, the things which characterise all that humanity should be, are being lost. You may even say that these things are evaporating with the heat of our space age.
You may say : I long to turn to something which has the old delicacy, the old-fashioned flavour, the feeling of the stature of a rational being like man.
You may reflect that this Age is producer of neurotics, if not psychotics, in massive numbers, because it is untrue to humanity, and warping humanity into a mould so barrenly and austerely mathematical and pragmatic that it is cramping our spirits out of a healthy and accommodating ... ease. You may say this - and you may say that failing all else, you will begin to think of God, who at least, you feel, is merciful and genteel and kind, and humane and reviving, and do this as a sort of welcome relapse from our too abstruse and inhuman pre-occupations.
BUT will you find by
contemplating the concept of God, such a result ? Will you find that fleeing
from engineered steel girders and vibrating burning heated gaseous trails, that
you will embark by mere wondering into the presence of God, that God who gives
fatherhood its meaning ? Is it as simple as
If you consider Christ as your Lord and Saviour in spirit and truth, then you will ... find Him accommodating and friendly and gracious; but if you are merely considering thought about God, ideas about Him, giving the benefit of believing that He exists, and nothing more than this: if you are considering Jesus as an interesting and intelligent man, merely, if you are considering God as an interesting and provoking concept - and if you are trying to get some sort of ease ... or satisfaction, some sort of rebound from a difficult , mathematical, harsh Age, by your thoughts about this sort of thing, of an accessible God on your own terms, then you will find yourself thoroughly mistaken.
If you want to jostle with Jesus rather than join Him: if you want your own christ or your church's designer-made christ, you will find the actual Christ, not that of fantasy or fiction but of historic fact, is very severe and has sharp edges which cut - and which kill; and if you stumble against Him in presumptuous unbelief, making your own little christ from desire, then He crushes. After all, would it not be a good idea to LISTEN. In Luke 20:17ff., you have these words:
"But He looked at them and asked,
‘What then does this scripture passage mean:
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” ?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be dashed to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.’
"The scribes and chief priests sought to lay their hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people, for they knew that he had addressed this parable to them."
Truth is like that. Ignore it and it does not ignore you: as it is, so things have to happen. Not all is mechanical, but all has its ways. Since in the mercy of divine grace, God is personally concerned for His creation, then this result, the devastating and crushing one, is not required. It is there in the end, only if you forsake your own mercy, and making a mental plaything of Christ, by making your own or following an equally arrogant production of some perhaps popular but misled church or philosopher, follow theirs, and so avoid Him as He is, and invent what is not even there - beyond the imagination.
It is like setting out from an aeroplane with confident reliance on a parachute which is really a tin whistle, but which some ingenious spiritual guru invented and called a parachute, even though it is not at all like one. You fall. You are crushed. Does not pride come before a fall, or in this case, a rocketing rush to earth to find that it is really what it seemed to be! Invention has its place; but when it comes to man making free with God, it is simply out of place.
There is no-one less accommodating in such cases. If I had to meet someone in wrath, I would not choose Jesus for mine enemy. There is no one more ruthlessly inflexible where truth is concerned. There is no-one from whom you can expect less, if you do not receive His salvation and follow His will to His mercy. Rebellion, the Bible teaches, is like witchcraft, and to do all sorts of things in His name, Christ indicates, is NOT by ANY means the way to please or to find Him. Good works are included in this irrelevance for salvation, regeneration and becoming a child of God (John 1:1-14). You see that quite explicitly in Matthew 7:21ff.. It is not that this idea is nearly good enough; it is not even relevant, and He professes to such people, I NEVER KNEW YOU, and they are consigned from Him as "workers of iniquity".
One can be quite sure that many people would be quite happy to have a Christ invented by themselves or their surrogate church, a quasi-quavering church; but it is not relevant. It is mere imagination, like juvenile romancing about careers without preparation or marriage without integrity.
II RELATIONSHIP TO THE CHRIST, THE LORD'S CHRIST NOT A SUBSTITUTE
It is capitulation and surrender, finding God as He is and not as you mean Him to be, that matters. It is reception of His salvation as it is, and not as you schematise it, that is important. It is truth that matters, and this applies in science as in salvation. There is neither excuse nor help in fiction.
He is not easy-going. He is precise and accurate beyond anything mathematics hopes for; for His words DO NOT change, and are susceptible to NO development (Galatians 1, Matthew 24:35, 5:127-20); for God is like that (Haggai 3:6, Malachi 3:6), and we are not: and making God in our own image is massive and manifest folly.
He discerns the truth and is impenitently penetrating. You cannot turn Him to the right, to the left. You cannot charm Him, you cannot disarm Him. You cannot embarrass Him into compromise, or talk Him from His wisdom (cf. Matthew 16:21-23). You cannot vex Him from His purpose: you cannot irritate Him from His will; you cannot add to His desires; you cannot attract Him into the perilous paths of your own choosing, and expect His concern to follow you, accepting your wisdom!
Christ was no less decisive on Himself when as a man, God in human form. Thus, facing at last, that last night before unspeakable and solemnised hypocrisy which as He knew and had been foretold, would man-handle Him, and act with gross enormity, and so pleading before His Father, He nevertheless amidst intense agony of spirit, proceeded to accept that it was the path He was to follow; and no human pity or fear could turn it aside; nor would He Himself be moved. In love it was prepared, in love it would go, and flow, and that flow would include, in sticky slowness, the blood from His arteries, His veins, His flesh, while mockery lacerated His soul and derisive abuse shrouded the air like an aerosol spewing out cancer.
Truth is inflexible and God knows His own mind. It is only when MAN, mere man, sets himself up with his version of truth, with or without a false christ, that there is enormity in foolish claims.
When GOD SPEAKS, the foolishness of not being willing to LISTEN and heed, this is the acme of pride and the condition of downfall, and in the end, of being crushed, to use the analogy from Christ's lips.
HE knew what it was to be crushed; He bore it. If it is not to be in vain for any particular person, then that person has to receive Him as He is, and accept that crushing as the due penalty payment for sin (Galatians 3:1-13, II Corinthians 5:17-21, Matthew 20:28), and realise in this, how heinous sin is. That, it is part and a prominent part of repentance, without which there is only judgment as Christ declared so dramatically and in such practical terms (Luke 13:1-3).
IF from this Age -
¨ of anxiety as Luke forecast for the end, of which this sign is but one participating element -
as you see forecast in Matthew 24:21,
which many do not
quite realise because it is not quite close enough to their own land,
though Al Qaeda is reducing the barriers of distance!
if from this you
if from this Age
of carefully made construction, of iron girders and sharp edges you are fleeing,
and if you turn now to think of the historic Christ in terms of man only,
or of God in terms of thoughts only -
one MUST say that you could not be more mistaken.
You will find yourself in far sharper cutting edges than this world has to offer. CHRIST'S WORDS to His implacable enemies - those who did not accept His claims and acknowledge His consistent deeds to match - and to those who had turned from His commandments, these were so sharp that on occasion they could almost cut the invisible spirit of man in two. Remember John 8:43-47 ?
"Jesus said to them,
'If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.
'You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
'But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.' "
You see, it was BECAUSE He told them the truth that they did not believe Him. They had - through the sovereignty of sin in their lives, the iniquity which closes all doors but opens its own mouth and deems itself a criterion, or its latest idol - a very serious condition. It was this: an incompatibility with the truth. They too, they would make a new Jesus, by making of the living one, as far as was in them and within their power, a corpse. In one sense, that is a Jesus, but since He is the same today, yesterday and forever, and died not least in order to signal and show the defeat of death by His ransom payment and the liberation of man who believes, by his faith, and reception of this divine and kind bounty: it is an unprofitable substitute. It did not work because it COULD not work, an exercise in futility which God planned and duly used for triumph.
Jesus, being bodily resurrected, is alive, and the murder did nothing to remove Him. It is an inveterate human sinfulness which seeks continually to oppose Christ with this or that, and if nothing else works, then with an idol made in His name, but in another guise, a fake, a fraud! Such is the Jesus whom many do not desire; but that of the record which nothing can alter, many have sought to subvert. Immune to callow reconstruction, the reality continues unaltered without parallel or corruptibility. All else fails, though numerous theologies have tried, now this way and now that, to produce this or that false christ, having the audacity to plagiarise His name and some of His words, while inventing the presumptuous work of an idle imagination. (See SMR pp. 857-877, 842-848, 685ff., 689ff., News 121, 122, It Bubbles ... Ch. 11).
Is it so strange that those who fall on the living Christ, are statedly to be crushed to powder ? He has died once, and is not available for further facial surgery.
Better take a hedge-hog for a pin cushion than take Christ for mere contemplation.
III THE JOY OF BEING JOINED TO THE JUST ONE
THEREFORE Jesus who is just, is no good for you unless you would be rendered just by Jesus. As to that, you find it clearly and simply in II Corinthians 5:17-21, Romans 5:1-19.
Your sin is junked onto the cross of Christ, who died to bear it, and His righteousness is set to your account. Simple ? What is not at all so simple is this, that it involves a faith connection so that by His Holy Spirit He lives within you (Colossians 1:27, Romans 8), and that as Lord; and this, it means not merely the washing of your heart, the change of your nature (Titus 3:5-7), the direction of your purposes and the institution of new ways and values (Luke 6:46, 14:27ff.), but the superintendence of the living God in the process. If you love Him, of course, the more the better; but for all hypocrisy, it is fatal. Rejoice in the truth therefore, and serve Him in reality.
This is the end of the second Easter Message; but those who wish, in due course, may wish to complete the full text of the address.
AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – APRIL 3, 2005
In view of these things, it is scarcely surprising, in Acts 3:14 to find these words:
"But you denied the Holy One and the Just,
and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the deaf, of which we are witnesses.
And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong,
whom you see and know.
"Yes faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness
in the presence of you all."
The term, JUST ONE is just right. The associated term, HOLY ONE is perfect. The association is superb. It was through the just and holy one that the man of inability to walk, at once became able to walk. He was known and his case was amazing therefore. He had been lame from birth, and daily carried to the gate of the Temple. Now, in the name of Jesus the Christ, rather than by means of alms, he was instantly healed and leapt like a deer, as Isaiah 35:5-6 and had predicted of the work of the Messiah (Isaiah 7,9, 11-12, 22, 32, 40,49-55, 59-60, 66). Not quiet thrift but abundant thriving was the case through the power of this Name, that of the Prince of Life, here attested in resurrected authority.
There is a rightness about health, a co-ordination and co-operation of myriads of components from cells to organs, nerve impulses to biochemical complexities of an inordinate depth, as Denton attests, and others confirm.
It is the JUST One who knows how to do this, whether in person or through those appointed to heal, as some may be, in His name. The case of Elsie Salmon has been considered before, and its attestation is of this spacious kind! (cf. SMR p. 339). While false christs are in vogue, it is scarcely surprising that false healing and false gifts are likewise in vogue, as are quacks in medicine for that matter; but the false answers of some students does nothing to compromise the reasoned ones of the true.
As you see, however, from the case of the woman with a chronically incurable flow of blood, when she touched Jesus and was healed - an act performed without her addressing Him at all - He was aware that healing virtue had gone out from Him (cf. Matthew 4:25-34). Labours are not done without energy!
Christ, truth and not fiction, able to act and not fail, was hard on rebellion since it short-circuited the need; but so is a surgeon on dirt in the operating theatre. We do not in the least think worse of him or that, but prefer to admire his perspicacity and concern. No less so, but rather more, since the stakes are far higher, is it in the case of spiritual things. Christ was moreover hard on Himself, with the same necessary severity.
Thus His own sharpness or grit in facing His own vicarious sorrows was conspicuous. This is the way it is, and confused thought or weak-kneed action is not to the point. To be sure, He can be compassionate on those not rebelling, but reeling, and helps the bruised reed; but this is entirely different to facing the spoilt spiritual brat who merely pumps out puss from a disorderly mouth. Even there, as with Saul of Tarsus, to become Paul the apostle, He can be forbearing for a time, and pressing the truth, eventually find His flock!
But as for manipulation of His name, His meaning, His truth, of His compassion in order to abuse it, as to rebellion in any of its robes, it must cease if it is to avoid finding its mark IN REALITY, where it belongs.
In losing the love of God, by avoiding it and confusing it, a person loses the source and fountain of it, and the truth which is inextricably intertwined; so that it is scarcely surprising that we find this, Whom I love I chasten!
The Son of God Himself did not come meandering in the courts of heaven, and listlessly wander off because it was too hard. Rather we read in Psalm 40 (cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), that He delighted to do the will of His Father, and was so exposed before He came, in the prophetic medium. Sacrificial offerings would, as noted there, end in Him, because, after all, a body was prepared for Him, and that for sacrifice as in Isaiah 53; and when God as man became sacrifice, enough was done and no more needed.
By divine appointment He left the amazing joys of heaven according to schedule, to die on the appointed date (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), destined for the squalid slums of sin on earth - to meet them, but not to share their slovenly iniquities. He came not to be a Saviour in sin, but a Saviour from sin (John 8:34-36). He indicated clearly that if they did not receive and believe Him, then they would die in their sins. They are retained by frank wilfulness, or consigned to the Lamb of God by faith; but it is nothing that remains in-between!
Thus sinless, He was inbred into the handmaid, Mary, with terrible innocence in His divine being. He loved and hated but one thing: sin.
When the teeming invalids besieged Him for cures after a hard day's work as the evening closed in, it was no CAREFREE JESUS, but a Conqueror of self who appeared. Weary or hungry, He cured them ALL just the same, not stopping then but serving as need came (Matthew 4:23-25, Luke 6:17-19, Matthew 12:14-20, 14:13-21). Whether attracted or appalled (Mark 5!), He spoke truth and did right. The prophetic Psalm 45 spoke of Him:
"Because You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore God has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows."
He, as the writer of Hebrews says - "for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising shame."
His joy ?
It was we read, To do the will of His Father and to complete His work (John 4:34), that is, His meat, what He lived by, was this thrust! "I delight to do Your will!" says Psalm 40 prophetically likewise. There is more joy in heaven, Christ similarly announced, over one sinner who repents than over 99 who need no repentance (Luke 15:7). Such is love, such was Christ's approach.
Rigorous, real, manly, disciplined, direct, true, holy, blameless, obedient even to Death, the death of the Cross - this was the Saviour. He wasn't effete, He wasn't lazy. No careless Christ was He. His way was narrow and the entry to it constrained. His word was, as it is, truth. He was always on call: and to His Father He always called (cf. John 11:41-42, 8:29).
"The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the father do; for whatever He does, the Son does in like manner."
There is no exclusion zone: "For the Father loves the Son
and shows Him all things that He Himself does..."
Not only is there godliness to the ultimate, but there is divine power to the utmost:
"For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will."
Indeed, "the Father has committed all judgment to the Son..."
This was the strength, this is the stature, and here is the basis for judgment, even the very One who bore it for all who would receive Him, so that He might grant to them authority to become children of God; and it is He who then is the arbiter of those refusniks whose love is their own (John 3:19).
Nothing broke this divine communion between Father and Son, till our sin smudged the Divine sight, while shame not His own covered Him on the Cross, and He cried, as the Psalmist had foretold He would: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!" The extremity of sin became the utter abhorrence as He bore it, so that though He knew well from the Psalm what it would imply, its crushing burden before justice brought forth this signal of divine distress as He bore what was foreign and repugnant to Himself, out of love, bearing it, broke it, and taking its cost, paid it.
Sharp, sensitive, irrevocable, righteous, realistic and full of rectitude ... this is Jesus. If Christ's life was that of strict service oiled with goodness and love, but remorselessly obedient - what do we find of His death ? Are we to dismiss this, His demise on the Cross, with a careless wave of a fat hand ? Was the Cross merely the end of all ? Not at all, it was a laborious masterpiece of art and agony, anguish and care, in which the divine lovingkindness was brought to the ultimate, and the love for mankind was shown to the uttermost FOR A PURPOSE, brilliant in design, effective in practice.
It meant a sinless life, no failure before any temptation ever, in spirit, mind or body, it meant the use of a divine power in a subordinate capacity as man, while being by nature in the very form of God (Philippians 2). It meant humiliation with aggravation, weariness with wisdom, and wit with works. When finished, the payment of goodness for evil, righteousness for sin, covering the cost, it was the beginning ended.
What did Christ say, when faced
with Death: "What shall I say ? Father deliver Me from
this hour ?
But for this purpose I came to this hour" (John 12:27).
Then came the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end: the thrust to all realms (Colossians 1:19ff., I Peter 3:18ff. cf. Member Contribution 3 ), leading to the resurrection with its victory over death, its vitality before vitiation, its visible hope and certain triumph. Even there, the same tender concern and thoughtful compassion displayed itself in His meeting with Mary, with the women near the tomb (John 19, Matthew 28), as with Peter (I Corinthians 15); and then with Peter again (John 21) in his recommissioning service.
It was all wise, clean, faithful and true. No wonder that is His name in Revelation 19:11-16
"And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True."
At His death, His role was fulfilled, ratified in the resurrection (Romans 1:4): predestined by the foreknowledge of God and His own divine counsel, to be the Lamb without spot, this was Jesus. Prepared, preserved, predeterminate as God's purification for man (Isaiah 53:6), for as many as believed (53:5), alive to be present, to empower, to exercise His lovingkindness.
His Meaning for our Lives
Now consider the avenue to this exaltation. In your mind's eye, as this passage in Isaiah 53:6 speaks, see a ship, made a target for surrounding guns, and from their explosive reserves they pour on it all they have. However, He voluntarily took that place and ensured till it was over.
Ours are the ships which fire, and those which hold fire are those to be on fire from their own munitions. retained only to erupt on board! The provisions of God in love may be scamped, but the screeching of shells is better than the horrors of arrogant disdain for the mercy of the Maker. It was our sins which produced His mockery, for He suffered as was due for the penalty; it was our sins which gave Him the sense of isolation, when He cried, Why have you forsaken Me! for sin separates from God (Isaiah 59:1), and to take them vicariously and victoriously, this does nothing to reduce the severity of the impact.
Thus His very death, Christ's death, was sharp: it went to plan even to its extremities. Under divine commission, His ways were set down in advance; and if He indeed is in the deepest counsels of God (cf. Ephesians 1:4, John 5:19ff.), yet on earth it was an executive mission in which tragic horrors were part of the scenario. It was not a possibility; it was a certainty, ordained!
One sees Him stage by stage, proceeding towards Jerusalem, cautioning the disciples that they do not what kind of spirit they are from, when they want to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan site which refused to welcome Him! We need to practise this grace.
Thus in Luke 9:53-56, we read:
"Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said,
'Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven
and consume them, just as Elijah did?'
"But He turned and rebuked them, and said,
'You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.' And they went to another village."
Thus as He steadfastly set His face to His divine duty, He did not even waver in provocation as some of those who would benefit, failed to respond. Their response could come later. He for His part, in decisive indifference to all that could be said and done to arouse His Spirit, precluded vengeance (Luke 22:34), irritation and breach, and proceeded relentless to His loving work of ultimate grace. Such is the testimony of His service, who came not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). His only is the ransom; but the spirit of His way is the testimony of truth.
See Him at Bethany, after supper. There amongst the love of His familiar friends in this household of joy, with imminent tragedy the path to triumph, He is anointed by Mary with burial oils. Judas objects, being sensitive to funds, and later wanting to invest in land with the price of betrayal of the Lord, which of course was also at the amount predicted in Zechariah: said the betrayer - The poor should have received this! While many millions of poor are about to have their redemption paid for at Calvary, Judas is still more concerned at foiling the beauty of the operation, or adding his junk language to the precious scene.
There is a cost for the ultimate sacrifice, and there is a memorial, and there is a fitness in things, which is not determined by relative economic needs. If the moon seemed profitable to some, much more was the Master. Jesus pointed out merely this: The poor you have always with you, but Me you do not always have. IN this way He smoothed and put into proper perspective a work which has expressed the feelings and faith of millions, no doubt, since, who rejoice at Mary's perception and expression of gratitude. The grace needed now is to serve with strength, love with joy and grow in steadfastness.
Remember, it is not merely following Him, but taking up your Cross and doing so, whatever it takes to overcome, to present Christ in word, life and deed; and you are not alone if your heart is in it, for God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. What you need, it is provided (Galatians 5), on HIS highway, the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35).
AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – APRIL 10, 2005
THE JUST ONE - III
Now see Him, likewise composed though He has passed through enormous agonies of Spirit (cf. Hebrews 5:7, Luke 22:39-49), in the garden, and in the process of being arrested. Peter is keen to act in militant defence of his Master; but Christ is not interested to the least degree in being protected; and indeed, as He was to tell Pilate, His kingdom is not of this world, otherwise His servants would indeed have fought (John 18:36). It is so sad that so many have for centuries forgotten that ‘otherwise’. Here the Lord points out that He could, at will, have twelve legions of angels to support Him if mere physical power were in view (one legion, perhaps, instead of each weak disciple); but how otherwise than by this arrest would the scriptures be fulfilled! (Mat. 26:52-54). Hence it ’MUST’ be so! and so it was.
In the path of duty, service, with love and devotion, immovable from the immolation to come, alerted with due horror, but with more love, He proceeded. Indeed, somewhat earlier, when Peter, the non-'pope', the one who moved, tried in total disregard of true theology and practice, to persuade Christ to avoid the Cross, even to this, His loved friend and ardent supporter did Christ reply in the emphatic negative. To Peter, He even characterised the basis of this approach from His friend, as from Satan (Mat. 16:17ff.):
Get Behind Me Satan!
You are an offence to Me,
for you do not savour the things that are of God,
but those that are of men (Matthew 16:23).
Incorruptible and incorrigible was He, since His ways were ways of rectitude, and acceptance of ‘correction’ would mean error! He proceeded, having clearly both stated and shown that the ROCK of their faith was not petros, a stone by translation, Peter’s name, but petra, the massive natural rock. And that ? It was what had just been shown (Mat. 16:13-18): the confession in Him as Lord, Son of the living God. Since God alone is the rock (II Samuel 22:32, Ps. 62:1ff.) - for “WHO is God except the Lord, and who is a Rock except our God!” - it could not be otherwise. Peter a rock ? not so, literally a stone. Christ, unlike the fallible Peter, HE did not move. He alone was and would stay the Master (Mat. 23:8-10).
THERE is the Rock in whom we trust (I Cor. 10:4, Psalm 71:16, Psalm 62:2, 5 –
“Wait only on God”).
Going back, now, earlier, we think of the transfiguration where He took a privileged few, and there with the light of dazzling brilliance showing Him in the purest white, He spoke with Moses and Elijah, about the DEATH He would PERFORM (Luke 9:30). None were at that time to be told of this, for the objective was not notoriety but the fittingness and function of all things in due time, for the salvation of men. The brilliance of light was not to dazzle, but to inspire. This spoke, but its words were for a latter time, when more knowledge would preclude their misinterpretation, and instead, enhance understanding.
One must note too the progression of ghastliness, as He projects what is coming. First, as in Matthew 16:21, He reveals that He is to SUFFER many things, and be killed and rise on the third day. Next, it is seen as into the hands of men, that He is to be placed, as in Matthew 17:22 when they are at Capernaum. This intensifies the disproportion for the Creator's vast and self-humbling role.
Then, in Mark 14:41, near the end, He exclaims that He is to be put into the hands of SINNERS! That is said when they are about to pounce! It is not fate, but men; it is not statistical probability, but sinners. It is this which is the prepared task force to serve Him, though hate controls their follies; and how strange it is, to see the Lord not merely ALLOW Himself to be taken in their trap, but to forecast it and for the scriptures to foretell it. Here is the brilliance of divine love as well as the keen sensitivity of Incarnation, as He exposes thus the tempest of increasing horror, at the onset of the Sin March to Smash God, still in vogue among the Gentiles as then alas with the nation, soon to suffer much, as do the nations now!
His triumphant plan: It is not one-upmanship, for He knows their ways, knew who was a devil (John 6:70), long before. It is the use of foul means to pay for the foulness, even of as many as come, and hence to focus their guilt if by any means, it might lead to repentance. He permits entrapment, does nothing to prevent it, uses sin to meet sin, and then He proceeds to pay for sin, in a triumph of ingenious strategy of divine proportions!
It is all done till it is FINISHED (John 19:30), each and every particle of scripture being punctiliously fulfilled, till the deed of love done, the work of power then awaited the consummation of restoration from the tomb, on the third day, as foretold often. So it was as His inspired word in the Old Testament had so often shown, and as He had foretold in Person, His flesh did NOT rot (Psalm 16, Acts 2:23-31), despite the rottenness of the attempt; and so it was all done to the uttermost, in precise power, keen perception and knowing compassion.
So it was as His inspired word in the Old Testament had so often shown, and as He had foretold in Person, and so it was done in precise power, keen perception and knowing compassion.
This however is not all. We come to the implications.
The life of Christ was sharply defined. His death was sharpened by criminal collusion from the heights of now depraved 'justice'. His salvation likewise is as sharp and strong as clear and decisive, as were those other features of His life. This salvation which He has produced is centred in Himself, and like Himself it is. What does Paul declare of the fact that the Father authorised Christ's death ? Why did He do it ? It was to demonstrate that He Himself is just.
That is what is written in Romans 3:23ff.. He did it so that He might be just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. That means that He will render just, He will account just by grace and by payment made by the Redeemer, the person who believes in Christ. Having satisfied the divine justice, He at once justifies the believer, so that as Martin Luther so stressed for Romans 5:1, the case is that the believer is one already justified.
HAVING BEEN JUSTIFIED by faith, we have peace with God, who then lives within (Col. 1:27). There is no need for vague shadowy, church-administered tottering steps towards some distant salvation. We HAVE BEEN SAVED, who believe in Him, as we read so emphatically in Ephesians 2:8 and in Titus 3:5-7, and we WILL NOT BE LOST as we find in John 10:9,2;7-28, 5:24, Romans 5:6-11, Ephesians 1:11.
Christ did not die to become a helper for a possible co-operative effort which might yet leave the soul in hell. He did it that they might be saved, secured, paid for, redeemed and realised as children of God, who have already received an inheritance, as Ephesians 1:11 declares. Sin has no part in salvation which demands total purity; there is no room for a variable purchase price provided by now more, now less sinful hands, futile before a perfect requirement; for in heaven there is no sin whatsoever.
Entry demands perfection. There is no prospect of boasting as Paul declares in Romans 3, since man is justified apart from the law, and freely at that (Romans 5:15-16, 3:23ff.). It is BOTH free gift and received FREELY. There is not even any transport cost. There is NOTHING to pay (Isaiah 55), though many of the foolish pay much for those who can do nothing but receive the money, and pocket it (II Peter 2:1ff.).
Sharp, free and fully functional is the salvation of Christ, and it needs and will indeed receive NO help from anyone, for it is eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).
Boasting in heaven ? therefore excluded as Paul asseverates in Romans 3. I got here because I … NoI
The fear of a just God is a just fear; but as we have noted, for those who find Christ their friend, their Saviour, their God, their Lord - there is no condemnation. It just is not there (Romans 8:1, John 5:24).
Exactly and with precision He took our place and our penalty, who believe. He was delivered up for our offences and raised up for our justification so that having been justified, we HAVE (present tense) peace with God. That is Romans 4:25 -5:1.
The humiliation of needing someone who bore our sins in His own self is not dispensable; you have to face your state, status and estate: lost (Luke 15, Ephesians 2:1-12, 4:17ff.); and it is total. We will receive help from God ? Oh yes, but it is on His terms. This means salvation by grace alone, through faith, so that we find this:
through faith you are having been saved persons,
and this whole thing it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God
(Ephesians 2:8 with attention to the grammatical construction).
Do we note the army of the great King and refuse to surrender ? (Luke 14:23ff.). Do we want to argue with Him and make our conditions! I do not, for it would be the most profound presumption to prescribe the conditions of one’s own pardon; but if anyone does, then it is to argue with eternal truth, and mess with the mode of mercy. Such a thing is as much an intrusion as an audacity, which would change God for its pleasure; but God does not change (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102:26-28), and is the same, today, yesterday and forever (Hebrews 1, 13:8, Acts 20:28, 4:11-12 Isaiah 43:10-11). Or does someone think that by some smoke-screen he may dim the eyes and lessen our anguish in facing the Truth ? Their own eyes they may dim, but not those of the Lord, before whom all things are manifest (Hebrews 4:13).
God's demands are unconditional (cf. Luke 14:31, 13:1-3). They mean surrender. The sharp sacrifice on the Cross allows no sleazy conditions to sinners - except repentance and faith for remission of sins. He was the propitiation, the removal of wrath (Romans 3:23), and not for some imaginary pleasure in our works; for it is NOT of works, lest the boastful bugle as Paul asserts (cf. Romans 10 also).
It was He who cooled the vials of wrath, by exhausting them on Himself: for we are saved from wrath through Him (Romans 5:9-10). It is He who placated just anger, as propitiation (Romans 3:23-25). His scars are ours - His death is ours. It is this which Isaiah 53:4-6 placards so dramatically; it is by HIS stripes we are healed. For if one died for all, Paul reveals, then were all dead (II Cor. 5:14-15). He made Himself to be sin, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (5:21).
Sharp and exact is His method, to blot out our sins and to remove them as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103), not maundering about, with spiritual solicitors sending in their accounts! He nailed them to His cross that they might be so evacuated (Colossians 2:14). He did not ignore them; He did not pass them over; but as a debt account might be nailed to someone's door, so He had the sins of us who receive His redemption, nailed to His own account. Before this, desire to merit one’s own account is unaccountable.
His Life in our Midst
Thus do we forgive as we are forgiven. Thus do we seek peace as it has been granted to us. Thus do we seek reconciliation as we are reconciled by and to God. Thus do we likewise have loyalty to Him, not to man, or world, or power, or blood of men, or fear or oppression.
Therefore vain and foolish indeed is any concept that one sort of fundamentalist, say humanism or secularism, should use a confused form of generalisation as an excuse for attacking those whose fundamental is Christ, and His word of truth. Misguided is oppression, constraint or other assault on biblical fundamentalists, if you insist on calling them that, or biblical plenary inspirationists, which is the term the pastor applies to himself. Its current ploy is to make them undistinguishable from the erratic hosts of those whose god seems violence and whose way seems grasping for power.
Why then does one prefer the term plenary biblical inspirationist ? It is partly because it is more precise, and partly because the other pejorative term, fundamentalist, has its own special historical connotation, and is in any case too loaded with confusion and conquest ambitions, as if to subdue by a specious propaganda. In fact, it is the fulcrum for force which is used by those who attack those whose fundamental is Christ, rather than that of those who preach not with law and prison sentences, but with Gospel and grace, within the constraints of John 18:36.
HIS servants do NOT use force in their work for Christ. Christ died, not because force failed, but because it was irrelevant and love ordained in mercy that His death should atone. .
It would be better to forget the tags of propaganda warfare. It would be better simply to say, avoiding the et ceteras of the illicit, that ANY principle of irrational hatred or injury which is employed by secular or other fundamentalists, naturalistic humanists or similar dominance-desiring or power-toting creedalists, should be viewed with concern.
To link them with ‘fundamentalists’ of force, is mere callow confusion, at best: as if to believe in God is to believe in force, such as those use who would imprison Christians, even in this country, if they seem to offend susceptibilities of those who like not at all to hear the biblical proclamation of Jesus the Just One.
In fact His principles, clearly written for millenia, do not fail to detest the use of force in the field of religion. What is needed is fearlessness for the truth, rationality about what it is; and willingness NOT to slander or oppress those biblical Christians whose creed seeks good for all - as if the case were otherwise.
What is needed is fearlessness for the truth, rationality about what it is; and willingness NOT to slander or oppress those biblical Christians whose creed seeks good for all - as if the case were otherwise, or to taunt those whose principles, clearly written for millenia, do not fail to detest the use of force in the field of religion. The correct terminology would be 'fundamentalists of force', and where the hat fits, it might be worn, whether by secular fundamentalists (as sometimes is relevant), or religious terrorists or whatever other brand uses violence to conscience, to education or to bodies.
Indeed, with such sound and rational provisions made, the latent human desire to domineer and oppress, might have significantly less scope. It would of course make it hard for those who like to misuse terminology, and make assault Christians by illicit generalisation with Moslems or others; but then, a little self-control, a little self-control, it often makes quite a difference. Facts are really ever so helpful.
When those who love to attack biblical Christianity, as well, are referring to the name of God, and mischaracterising His teaching by a manipulable tag, then the need for self-control and factual truth is all the greater. What if it became quite a cultural shock to cease distortion of the Bible ? or for that matter, of the term 'fundamentalist' ? Is not the truth, however, a worthy cause ? and is not accuracy a sound desideratum! Both of these would be most welcome in the mêlée of the terrible, where love is misnamed hatred, and avoidance of force becomes violence!
Such cultural slander is not really needed in any good work, though it grows more common: so that all men of goodwill, and women too, should sedulously seek to avoid it, and to concentrate on the real issues, not on verbalised tag-itis!
An additional advantage of honouring the truth ? Then the actual enemies of truth and justice, love and grace, might the more clearly stand out, and erroneous wars at least, might the better be avoided. Erratic visions are indeed one of the chief banes of this earth; but the time for truth is eternally apt, and for judgment, finally inevitable. It is wise to consider the judgment of God, for it is statedly according to truth.
When He speaks, whether in mercy as now, or in judgment when it is due, there is no other voice of comparable authority, whose words have comparable fulfilment, no other body with comparable sacrifice, nor is there any of comparable prediction, that He should be recongised. His thoughts need no revision; and if any who find God intolerable, desire it to be different, nevertheless, the evidence is far otherwise. It is the Bible itself which needs no revision; and indeed any such need is as clearly absent as it is divinely prohibited (Proverbs 30:6, Deuteronomy 4, 12, Galatians 1, Revelation 22).
His word stands unaided, in that inveterate and unvitiated Bible of millenia, in contrast to the continual needs for revision in the contrary compositions of naturalism, secularism and desire. These, they are never still, but go moving and floundering as if in a whirl-pool, always seeking, but never finding (cf. Wake Up World! ... Ch. 5, Ch. 6, Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 13, SMR pp. 149ff., The gods of naturalism have no go!).
In various countries, it is these which seek to FORCE their will and preference into schools, onto students as a condition, or into syllabi as an assumption; and the reason is obvious. Where reason fails, only force will do for the intemperate.
Those who would distance the verified and continually vindicated concepts of the Bible in this field, are left with the solemn hocus-pocus of their virulent naturalism and the erratically variable realms of humanism which, having no principle or basis that is secure, can go ... literally anywhere. Such intolerance will ultimately challenge freedom internationally, as it has already done nationally in many cases; for light banishes darkness, and it seeks cover by many means! As to such philosophies, so popular, their virulent pomp which has aided pride and indeed expressed it, has been a strident stay and febrile fever both for Marx and Hitler; and the futility of such imaginations is itself a primary cause of war, an aid to its griefs, and a vacuous vision for its outbursts.
In fact, such philosophies have already failed in logic and verification; but in appeal, they do not fail for many, and given the power will undoubtedly go where it is biblically destined for them to be, in the role of the excluded.
God however is not a user of force in the realm of faith, and those who do not desire His goodness and mercy are perfectly free to find their own realm, ex-God, and experience all that it has to offer, ex-Creator and ex-service maintenance. It has a name. We shall not here, however use it; for our chief concern here is to get to the substance of things, not now using names for the end of those who use nails to adorn the coffin of truth, a device which so many seem all too ready to construct, though it contains nothing but air. Rather we aim to be reflecting light, the light of Christ in the service of reality.
As to that nailing, however, it is a useless exercise, this entombing of truth, as Christ has once for all shown in issuing from the tomb, strengthening His disciples, appointing their commission till His return and shrouding all history with His word, to fulfil it (Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 24, I Cor. 15, Matthew 24:35, 5:17-20 cf. SMR Ch. 6, Ch. 8). To contain Him is impossible, the crucifixion His meat for our deliverance, the resurrection His meaning for our instruction and the confirmation of His pardon to those persons, and those alone, who receive His redemption (John 6, Isaiah 53, Romans 8:32, Romans 1:4, Hebrews 9:12-28, John 1:12-14, Titus 3:1-7).
What then ? what could be wrought against the Saviour ?
To arrest the
Saviour, it is possible as a predicted prelude;
to condemn Him, it
is possible as a procedure;
to kill Him, it is
possible as a sacrifice, voluntary, predicted, self-predicted and self-enabled;
¨ but to contain Him, it does not happen! It is not an option.
The end of all such action is in its own coffin, which none need create, for their own hands craft it all too well, for themselves (cf. Matthew 16:24-27). Theirs is the lonely litany of the lost.
History exposes such lost litanies and their exponents; yet, for all that, one seeks in Christian love, one seeks for one and for all, something far better. It is available, it is unchanging, and its day is still with us, the light of the Gospel for this Age. However, if it be not received, where therefore light is lost, freedom of speech also is likely to go, for darkness needs maximal protection, and it seems virtually gone in Victoria, one of the States in this very nation*1, as in many other places on earth, which cannot abide the freedom that reality confers.
This last throb of rebellion is coming, and the elect of the Lord are going at His call for them as He said. Awe-ful indeed is the end of those who refuse His new beginning. It is according to truth. The cry now is as it was when He arose: "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."
This word of Peter at Pentecost has not lost its relevance (Acts 2:40), force or its application. If Israel then was false to the Lord, so are the Gentile nations now so turning away, each to its own way (Matthew 24:6-12). There is no help in them, separate or united. It is not in man nor is it in the ideas without light which men invent; it is in the same Lord whose testimony neither ceases, changes nor fails.
Seek therefore and receive the light which is becoming to man, and darkness scatters like a storm arrested, while peace rules like a Prince, for He, He is the one and only Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:1-7).
Such is man; but what is impossible with man is open to God; and currently, God is open to man on the sharply defined, clearly presented Gospel of grace. If you leave it, no one has compelled you. If you find it, it is the Lord God who has opened your eyes, and grace has abounded; nor do you operate in a divine headwind, for as to Him, though He will never force, for truth does not depend on this, but works in love, He would have all come to repentance and the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2, Colossians 1).
Therefore, repent and call upon His name, for it is good, and His lovingkindness never fails to those who enter His door, though it took a cross and a ruptured tomb to pay for it (John 10:9,27-28), and the ultimate power that created the universe, including man, to propel life beyond judgment, in the Person of the sinless Saviour whose breach of death depended both on the infinity of His resources and that of His innocence and purity.
Concerning Victoria, for information, you may wish to consult
NEWS 156, Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy Ch. 10,
GALEV 7, esp. *2 - political, religious and educational liberty, on which also see
SMST 6, *7 and DIAMOND 10, (incl. Victoria).
On 'freedom' in some other places where 'religion' rules by force or fear, you could consult
Divine Agenda Ch. 6. On that religious topic, the Moslem, see also
More Marvels ... Ch. 4.