The Site of the Silent Sermon
TWO SERMONS FOLLOW
1. A Spirit does not have Flesh and Bones as You see Me to Have! -
Luke 24:39 (April 1997)
Theme: The Resurrection
and What it Implies
Look at Luke 24:38-39: "And He said to them: Why are you troubled ? and why do doubts arise in your hearts ? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself.
Handle Me and see, for a spirit doe snot have flesh and bones as you see I have."
Christianity without the resurrection of the body of Christ is like ocean without water, a human body without bones, earth without atmosphere; indeed, without soil! Thus Paul in I Cor.15:1-3 makes it clear, as Machen pointed out, that the THING which went into the tomb to be buried, the burial item, was the body, so that the THING which was raised, was the body. What was buried was what rose again. Incomparably more glorious the future than the past; but in the meantime, identity existed in what went in and what came out: it was not the spirit of Christ which was buried. It was the body, which, likewise, was raised.
Without this resurrection, says Paul, your faith is in vain, the apostles are deceivers and you are still in your sins. All this may be found in I Corinthians 15; and it is just. Paul in Romans 10:9 makes it one of the simple, central features of the core of salvation: "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
For the Greek student, the tense is aorist. It means this: HE ONCE went through the Cross and the Resurrection for those who are to be redeemed as to action, and towards all as to offer: and if YOU once act as Romans 10:9-10 show, then you ONCE and FOR ALL, just as was the case with Him, are changed. With Him, the body rose; with you, it will, and meanwhile your heart is changed, and He is your Shepherd and none shall snatch you from His hand, nor shall you perish (John 10:98,27-28, I Thessalonians 4:13ff.). But it is in YOUR HEART that you believe that His body was so raised. God knows all. As a man believes in his heart... so is he!
1. Why are your troubled, and why do doubts arise ?
This reminds us of Mark 4:40, the stilling by the voice of Christ, of the wind and the waves, when the disciples were in fear of their lives from their rollicking ferocity. It is a case of events beyond the control of man; and it is a case of action within the power of God. The relationship has to be faith; and if it is not, how are they then His disciples ? but if they ARE His disciples, then let faith rule! THAT is the challenge.
Christianity is no matter of mere theory; it is truth, fact and act; and within that, as within much, there is reality and relationship.
It reminds us too of the case in Mark 8:17, where there was an omission of bread for the party about to sail. Christ warned them of the leaven of the Pharisees, and they wondered if He were in some way referring to the omission.
Omission? That was not even an issue. Bread? What mattered was what was no mere matter of power. As important as power undoubtedly is, it is nevertheless incomparably less important than is faith, reality in the heart, understanding in the mind, rest in the spirit. "Why," He asked, "do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?"
He then proceeded to remind them of the feeding of the 5000, of the 4000, marvelling at their lack of faith. But they learned! They learned...
Thus when we find the Christ talking in Luke 24 about their being troubled, we realise that it is the same power that answers the one sort of case as the other. The earlier experience is the same colour, control, mind as the latter. Waves, food, resurrection! In all cases, Christ controls the events, is kept by His Father even when His body deceases only that it may be resurrected when it has done in death its work, its strange and glorious work, while disposing of difficulties. Showing too little faith and too much sin is a case of being submerged not of abiding the One in control of all cases, conditions.
There was indeed far more in the way of demonstration. The lame leapt, the blind saw, the hungry were fed, the clever were exposed (Matthew 11:4-5). It was all one piece - God visiting men as a man to show them how to live, and why not to fear even death, on the way to the consummation of the celestial kingdom, which as Daniel says, is the one which shall not be destroyed. In that, it is very different from the rest.
2. Look at My Hands and Feet that
It is I Myself.
a) their brutalising. Here were pivotal points of power, given piercing punishment. Here were means of expression, exposed to means of bloody litigation. Here was the power of God expressed in the flesh, given the go-by in terms of slashing restrictions and abundant rejection. Here was the prelude to the death of millions, not only of Jews, but of Gentiles who in masses would follow in the same unbelief that caused the Cross, planned though it was in the foreknowledge and predestinative certainties of God.
If, He said, they do this in the green tree, what will they do in the dry? What indeed! The twentieth century is the century of the eye: the TV exposes to the eye of sinners the ways of sinners, that they might seek God.
b) their restoration. These same hands and feet were now operative again.
While (John 20) still available for inspection manually... as to their having
been crucified components, they were also able to act. God cannot be disabled;
though He can be attacked, as He often is, as by misled academics, as
c) their efficiency. Here was no case of limping deficiency, wasting; here was a robust individual inviting inspection without wincing, approach without restriction, observation with whatever scientific zeal scientific method (which was not unknown in practice) might suggest.
d) their expressiveness. Both the power of God and the mode of man were here. Hands and feet are such intimate articles of activity - as we are reminded in the case also found in Luke, of the Emmaus road conversation (24:13ff.).
Even rank unbelief could not fail to perceive the SAME hands at the work of breaking bread as they had seen before.
e) their individuality. There is about hands and feet (the latter often officially washed on arrival as a guest in those days) a certain particularity. There is that scratch, place where a wound occurred, special feature of the bend of the thumb, of the individual angles of the toes, of the character of the finger and toe-nails, of the alignment of sinews which goes with only one person. Often the very character of a man, while not at all deducible from such things as hands and feet, is to some significant extent represented in the manner and mode of them.
There is a certain individuality at these planes of impact of life and personality, as they met the world, able to display in a sort of signature the one whose they are. Thus it was no one else; it was the Christ Himself.
3. Handle Me and See.
Here we observe:
a) that scientific method is always applicable. Christianity is the one religion which INSISTS on it as shown in Isaiah 41,43,48 in a challenging manner, and in the repeated challenges of Christ and the apostles, that they spoke the things they heard and saw. In just such a way, Christ told the disciples of John the Baptist of the criteria of the Old Testament which were required of the Christ who was to come, and which He was abundantly fulfilling in His unique way, just as they were projected onto the Christ in their unique fashion.
Here - as for a student who has watched a Lecturer's science demonstration, and then wishes to come to the front desk to inspect it closely with his eyes, to determine that it is all as has been said, or other things not said, but needing checking: so they were invited to come and see!
b) that personal love likes being personal- and here scope was offered.
c) that this was not a philosophy being taught, but an event being noted.
d) that personal experience is never the basis of Christianity, but it is always the result.
e) that touch is so individual - contact evokes recollection.
f) that there was nothing fragile about the resurrection body of Jesus Christ: it could even be handled. Tough, resilient, unhospitalised, it was available for the student prodding.
4. A Spirit does not Have Flesh and Bones as You See I have.
a) A Spirit ... God is a Spirit, but He made us with a material coat, before breathing into us so that we had that critical adornment, indeed constituent of man: spirit (cf. I Thessalonians 5:23). He made us with a material coat, and at the incarnation, donned one Himself. Hence, we are reminded here, that practical things are in a dimension that God Himself made and then occupied in His Messianic both as a display and as a ground for action. Hence we realise that practicalities are so far from being beyond, or beneath the attention or power of God, that they were even created by Him in the first place, and used by Himself Personally in the second.
Hence it is vain, as we noted in His rebuke to the disciples above, to be immersed in a sense of the practical as though it were some abstract monster or magnitude to be subjected, if possible to order, by the orphaned
race of man. If we work with Him, the practical is simply a dimension He invented, and He can well handle it! Faith is needed to abide while He does so.
b) The two, bones and spirit, are nevertheless almost ludicrously apart in concept and impact, like a tin whistle and an orchestra. The body is indeed a wonderful 'whistle'; but then God IS a spirit! It is, in one sense, therefore, almost a humorous contrast which is made when the two are brought so closely together at such a time and in such a situation. But then, that is part of the point: there is a in one sense, a GULF between
the two, one readily surmounted it is true, ONLY by God; but there is no POSSIBILITY of confusion! If the question were, Is this a spiritual phenomenon, an ectoplasm, a ghost and so forth: the answer is bones! It is absurdly simple and beautifully scientific.
c) The simple fact, without fancy or philosophy, both was and is this: that God who exquisitely made the whole body in all its parts, resurrects it equally at His pleasure and in detail. We are not left to worry about the resurrection individuality of loved ones: they are individually wrought and individually taught in mind and spirit in this pilgrimage; and they will be individually resurrected by the power of the One who brought forth in this way, the first fruits of the resurrection.
This we know, that as He is, so shall we be ( I John 3:2), for we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him a He is. This indeed, John goes on to note, is an expectation which purifies, just as He is pure.
Therefore, look at the deep things of the law: look at justice and mercy, and ensure that the spiritual things are by your very bodies here on earth, given full and strong attention, fearing nothing from man. Let justice be done, indeed roar like a torrent as Amos reminds us; and let morals reach their required development; let minds be mended, for God is not the author of a fearful mind, and have stout hearts and be at work, for the night comes when no man can work! Let hearts be transformed in and by the Messiah; and death itself, let it be realised it presents no real problem, for it is scientifically overcome, to the eyes and hands of all!
Death like so many challenges constitutes a coincidence of circumstances that can be changed, as can the sunshine when the sun moves from under a cloud. The power is there; simply follow the One who made the sun and the clouds, and knows the impact of sun on skin.
d) We have so far omitted the word "for" in our text. FOR a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me to have! Christ said. God expects us to use our minds, to be real, practical and honest.
We don't come believing rubbish because it looks good; we believe facts because they are good. All His crucial works are so obvious in kind that the need to reason sharply about His nature and power merely tends to show how deep, how ugly, how distorted and distorting sin is. Nevertheless, for their sake for whom Christ died, we do reason; and the reason holds and cannot be broken; for in God, truth has no vanquisher. By infallible proofs He did indeed show Himself alive from the dead, as Luke commences by saying. You see this also in Isaiah 53:8, where His personal children do not appear in a genealogy.
Why ? "for He as cut off from the land of the living" - that is why. It seems rather clear, does it not. However, children He DOES see are numerous. When YOU make of His soul an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10), THEN He shall see them, whom He saw not in the flesh because of man's ideas about His future! It is interesting, that, is it not? Man had ideas about Christ's future, and the Lord has ideas about man's future: in two compartments, redeemed and unredeemed, those thirsting and ready to drink, who do drink, and those ... not. But of Christ ?
When God had Him bruised and offered for a sin offering, that was death. It is when YOU so receive and so eat of His body and flesh, in the sense of accepting their expiation in your stead by faith (John 6:51-54, Galatians 3:10-13, 6:14), that HE SHALL SEE HIS SEED; and as I John 3:9 tells us, THAT remains in you. If EVER a Christian, then, ALWAYS a Christian. My Donaldson genes do not alter their reality; nor do my spiritual genes. God put them there. There are internal, inaccessible and in this spiritual case, indestructible. God, He has seen to that (cf. I Thessalonians 5:9, John , I Corinthians 15).
The "children" whom Christ does see are both numerous and willing; and they are the ones it is lovely to have. These are those who shall be "willing in the days of Your power" (Psalm 110). These are clean, yes now all of them and this is because of something: "for the transgression of My people was He stricken," and He came thus to "bear the iniquities" of those who should be healed by His stripes, as "the chastisement of our peace was upon Him" - something represented by stripes, but cutting far deeper (Matthew 27:46).
What joy, then, to give Him joy; for "He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied", is what, in Isaiah 53, soon follows on His seeing His seed.
What profundity of family is this! What marvel of spirit is wrought by flesh and bones, in which the very Godhead had its member living, God giving of His own Son, the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God.
There are the bare bones of the matter; and the essence of the bony display for all its physicality, ministers to our spirits. But yet, let us never confuse the two. A spirit indeed does not have flesh and bones as they saw Him to have.
Handle Me and see! Taste and see that the Lord is good, no good thing will He withhold form those who walk uprightly before Him. Indeed, even the inestimable privilege of suffering for His sake may be an honour given, and so esteemed as did the apostles esteem it when so treated by the ... church that was, but fell, and was replaced by those of another name, until it shall return, yes even the Jews, to the Messiah whose name ALONE will stand in the hall of redemption. Of whatever climate, race or background you yourself may be, put this by faith in the foreground, come to Him and live!
2. A SERMON ON …
JOEL, ROBOTS and REALITY
1. JOEL’s DAY held a PLAGUE
In a little, we shall plan to survey the newspaper report of recent military, robotic technology, and what it is planned to do. Meanwhile let us see the prophecy of Joel in this connection.
Joel deals at first with a locust plague, in Ch. 1. It is dramatised, but our own mouse plague of some years ago, reminds us that drama has little need of invention in such cases: it is openly self-declared. There is to be a progressive devastation from this locust source (Joel 1:4). To a fast, they are exhorted to turn, for a “fire has devoured the open pastures” (), and this account is repeated.
As Joel opens, we are
in the midst of this rank series of (relatively) minor, but still ravaging
judgments (they are not destroyed as a nation, though greatly impoverished),
and then told of the day of the Lord. It is not A day; it is THE day of the
Lord. It is “a day of
darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness”. We are therefore reminded of the epochal judgment on
Now however a clearly new element enters. We are reminded of Daniel 12:1 which imparts in the name of the Lord, that
“there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation… and at that time, your people shall be delivered.”
In context, this is the end of the prophecy of Daniel, and is in conjunction with the realm of the general resurrection and eternal judgments, for its dramatic topography!
What then is this new element in Joel 2 ? It is this, in words close to those of Daniel, somewhat in form and mightily in force. The famous translator and commentator Keil, in his commentary on the Old Testament with Delitzsch, renders verse two here as follows.
· “A day of darkness and obscurity, a day of clouds and cloudy night: like morning dawn spread over the mountains, a people great and strong: there has not been the like from all eternity, nor will there be after it to the years of generation and generation. Before it burns fire, and behind it flames flame: the land before it as the garden of Eden, and behind it like a desolate wilderness; and even that which escaped did not remain to it.”
From eternity backwards, history has known nothing like this, which is to come. Afterwards, you could not find the like to the years as long as you wish. It is unique in all history.
Of this climacteric time, we read in a passage taken from Joel 2:6-10.
· “Before them the people writhe in pain;
All faces are drained of color.
They run like mighty men,
They climb the wall like men of war;
Every one marches in formation,
And they do not break ranks.
“They do not push one another;
Every one marches in his own column.
Though they lunge between the weapons,
They are not cut down.
”They run to and fro in the city,
They run on the wall;
They climb into the houses,
They enter at the windows like a thief.
The earth quakes before them …”
Keil’s rendering of verses 7-8 will help, in that it is graphic:
· “They run like heroes, like warriors they climb the wall; every one goes on its way, and they do not change their paths. And they do not press one another, they go every one in his path; and they fall headlong through weapons, and do not cut themselves in pieces. They run about in the city, they run upon the wall, they climb into the houses, they come through the windows like a thief.”
It appears that in
some way this action is serving God, but as we reflect on what He had to say
about Egypt, and His own work in securing these downfalls in due time, perhaps
after generations of patience, we must realise that by no means does this mean
that they are specifically in alliance with God.
In view of this coming judgment, this unique thing from all eternity which is scheduled for appearance in its time, this “day of the Lord.” we do well to realise the end of that day (Joel 2:11), for the Lord gives His voice before His great army, “for strong is He who executes His word.” As to the phrase itself, it is necessary to consider Joel 2:31, quoted by Peter at Pentecost, where “the day of the Lord” refers to the actual end-of-Age judgment before which dread hour for the ungodly, people are to call upon the name of the Lord.
Thus the term found in the earlier part of Joel 2 is paralleled later in the same chapter, and in the same tenor, style and sense of ultimacy for the flesh which loiters in this world. It is the “great and terrible” day, out of which and the environments of its terror, those who “call on the name of the Lord”, who is one Lord and not another! (cf. Exodus 20), will be saved. Never from eternity, we recall, was there one like this, nor does one arrive like it from generation to generation.
v What then are the dramatically, though tersely described devices in view, as noted in Joel 2:6-10 ?
v These are precisely robotic.
They act in some ways with an address and determination, a specific targeting of victims and the like, as if men; but their appearance is not that of men, and their vulnerability is not that of men.
That is just what robotic devices are.
These are to be instruments of terror, of judgment and of overwhelming force as the final judgment scene comes into focus, and before the Lord actually sits in judgment. Locusts remind one of these things, in their smothering numbers, their ceaseless insistence, their devastating thoroughness; but these devices are not susceptible to death, like locusts, being merely engines of devastation, without life, but with plan and purpose in some way bent upon them.
This, is it not the way with robots! But what is happening NOW to forward such things, as a preliminary ? Why what would be more appropriate than this: TO MAKE THEM!
2. THE NATURE OF THE CURRENT MILITARY PREPARATION FOR LOCUST-LIKE NUMBERS OF OSTENSIBLY INVULNERABLE DEVASTATORS
turn now to the report in The Advertiser,
Let us take for illustration of the trend and preparation, the Stryker of General Dynamics, and consider some of its capacities; but first we need to realise that its size is that of a small sports utility vehicle. It can SCOUT, and with this, SEARCH and DESTROY. It takes, we read, robotics to a new level.
It can detect enemy targets to 3 km. distant, and on receiving orders from the command post in its remote fastness, can launch Javelin anti-tank missiles. For eminently dangerous missions, its role is to replace … people!
Thus it is equipped “with an array of sophisticated sensors, infra-red cameras and images gathered by satellites updated by a highpower computerised mission planner 10 times a second.”
Referrring back to Joel, this gives the sense which we have already seen in this prophecy here, of directness, protectedness and zealous, purposeful continuance! Satellite reinforcement to the data bank ten times per second is rather quick, even for a man, and facilitates the element of surprise, the sense of the overpowering as in Joel! A quotation from Arniss Mangolds of Foster-Miller’s military robot division is so apt to our present point that it seems best to cite it as given in The Advertiser’s report:
Ø ‘When you see a robot coming down (on the battlefield), it’s interesting and even if it has a weapon on it, maybe it’s a little scary and you give it a little respect. But if you’re standing somewhere and see 10 robots coming at you, it’s scary.’
This is precisely the feeling evoked as one reads Joel: that it is a terrifying, a remorseless, and an inveterate foe that is coming, as insensitive to fear as locusts are, and as determined, yet without feeling the emotion, merely fulfilling the purpose for some reason. The reason, in this robotic case, would be clear. It would be the reason of the controller in his safe stronghold, well away from exposure to the easiest forms of retaliation. If you were in trench warfare and a group of 10 charged at you, then you could at least duck and weave, destroying their advancing forces in measure, and if others were with you, in concert; and however unlikely it might be that you would succeed, it would not necessarily be emotionally draining. You just do it.
In the robotic case however, their flanks are not open, their disposition is not easily deterred; their ‘intelligence’ is hidden from you, and not near!
With the Stryker, there is planned to be an assortment of other vehicles, from land or air, all unmanned. This provides the sense of overpowering multitude exhibited in Joel’s prophecy for the “day of the Lord”, yes that same “day of the Lord” noted later in this very chapter, as the finale and terminator for the history of our Age!
technology has been rapidly developed since the
Why kill the innocent if you do not have to, in hunting people down with the appearance of blood megalomania, which instead of prizing dollars (a vain pursuit), prizes death. In so doing, however, whatever the reason, and in this case without rationality (cf. More Marvels … Ch. 4, SMR pp. 986ff, 1080ff., 809, 1078, 625ff.), there is simultaneously, fulfilment of Revelation 6, where we find various crusades in the days leading up to the end of the Age, and two of them have these characteristics.
1) There is installed a dynamic of death. One mission is sent with stated purpose: “to take peace form the earth, and that people should kill one another, and there was given to him a great sword.” This is in Rev. 6:4.
2) Another messenger is sent. The vocation in judgment ? It is “over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death and by the beasts of the earth.” The morbidity of this assault on mortality becomes clear in the killing with death, a spreading thrust of lethality. ‘Death’ possibly by metonymy signifies just such a scope and frenzy, indulgence and inveterate consistency.
3) As noted earlier, the term translated here as ‘beasts’ is in form ‘little beasts’ and can include insects. (See Deliverance from Disorientation Ch 11, *1 where the Greek Lexicon’s contribution is noted for the term in view, namely fhrion.) The spread of these "little beasts" in the form of destructive insect attacks, has also been noted before (Licence for Liberty Ch. 5, in which Revelation 6 is being considered). See also News 84, and with it, Regal Rays of Revelation Ch. 5, where some of the current developments in our present Age and contemporary world are related to the prophecy. The heating process helps these insects to transfer themselves to higher mountains, and over them, and to threaten new plagues; and this is now, as things are merely what Christ has called “the beginning of sorrows”.
is, then, the multiple prophetic background on the one hand, and the time for its
fulfilment on the other. Here we find the present and the correlation in
intimate parallel, developing apace, with the presentation prophetically made.
What of the feasibility in operation for these new robotics ? It was claimed
that operation of a Stryker would be possible for those concerned, with one
week of training deemed sufficient -
presumably on a relevant educational basis, though not a highly
technical specialisation. In the defence sector, golf-cart sized robots would
soon, the report proceeded, be available to patrol sensitive
At the organisational level, we learn that Boeing is also involved in further troop-replacement technological systems, called Future Combat Systems, with a two billion dollar contract out for 2010 deployment.
2. What you DO about it!
We turn back to Joel. It gave the contemporary crisis and foretold that in our day, at the end of the Age of the Messiah, before His return. What did THEY have to do? Look at Joel 2:11-17. See it in our terms, but in the same spirit, and consider!
· “The Lord gives voice before His army,
For His camp is very great;
For strong is the One who executes His word.
For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible;
Who can endure it?
· ‘Now, therefore,’ says the Lord,
‘Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’
· “So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
Who knows if He will turn and relent,
And leave a blessing behind Him—
A grain offering and a
For the Lord your God?
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.
“Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,
Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord,
And do not give Your heritage to reproach,
That the nations should rule over them.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’ ”
God has done very
wonderful things in Israel, fulfilling His word in Zechariah 12 with precision.
Now there is a challenge, and we should seek the Lord. Power has failed in
frontal assaults on
God will have His way with the armies, eventually to be set against His very self! (Revelation 19:19). Even now the predicted weaponry is being forged! However, it is for each one of us to see that He has His way in our hearts, lives and spirits, conduct and motivation, that we glorify Him with all He has given, and abide in the Lord, and obey Him out of love, a sweet fragrance to Him!
Recall finally, the prayer in Acts 4:24ff. and seek to emulate it. Remember there is NO GLORY to be found except in the Cross of Christ (Galatians ) but much good to be done as you abide in Him WHOSE IT IS!
If you would like to further this thought, consult The Living God.
For more again, see Question and Answer 2.