AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH ...
Sermon January 25, 2009
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA
ON BIBLICAL LINES …
2700 Hundred Years Ago Foretold
2000 Year Ago Realised
Luke 4:16-30, Isaiah 61:1-3
Not Political Hope, Not Social Dope, but Spiritual Life …
TODAY … PART I
Today, we consider the forecast in Isaiah, and make our first application.
WHAT IS NEEDED
This is no secret. It has been told from the first, declaimed by the Psalms, detailed in the major prophets, such as Isaiah, shown to the world in Jesus Christ, attempted in Empires, sought by kings, found by millions and transformed societies, making many among mankind to shine with a reflected splendour, clad in humility, fountained from fearlessness, living in testimony, thus leaving like dead leaves amid the rubbish, the flaunted failures of a descending race. So has God acted to redeem many through the Messiah, Jesus Christ, dying as foretold, around 30 A.D..
Some 2700 years ago, Isaiah presented amid his many messages concerning the Messiah and His mission, methods and manhood, that One sent from heaven with the format of man, a great dispatch. It was a quick coverage of a core of His then coming mission. It is found in Isaiah 61. Christ mouthed it in the synagogue meeting and it was applied to Himself.
THE COVERAGE OF THE CLARION COMMUNICATION: TRUTH FROM THE TRUMPET
First, let us consider its elements, noting that it is given as UTTERED by the Messiah to come. Magnificently, when presenting this scripture, Jesus Christ is not reported at that point to have included the 'day of vengeance' (as in John 3:17!), but this residual reality is well attested! (John 3:36, 12:47ff., 9:39,41, 8:24, Mark 9). Judgment is reserved for where love does not reach, being rejected ultimately (cf. John 15:21ff.. We proceed now with the pith of the Messianic prediction.
1) The Spirit of the Lord
is upon Me
2) Because the Lord has
To preach the Gospel to the poor
4) Sent Me to heal the
5) To proclaim liberty to
6) and the opening of the
prison to those who are bound
7) To proclaim the
acceptable year of the LORD,
8) and the day of
vengeance of our God
9) To comfort all who
10) To console those who
mourn in Zion
11) To give them: beauty
for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning ,
WHAT IS NOT BY ANY MEANS THE SAME
It is to be noted not only what this this revelation is, as we plan to do, but what it is not. Thus this is not the annunciation of some great leader, hallowed in anticipation, or admired in retrospect because of a summation of qualities meeting a series of quandaries facing a nation. It is not even a matter of moral applause, as was moral rearmament in the 1930s. It is far beyond this, as Jesus Christ is beyond Obama, now installed into the US Presidency.
For that matter, Obama's great inspiration to many is not for anything like that of Christ. At the outset he has shown in three ways, that his presidency is not even in the direction of Jesus Christ, and where elements of it may be, the basics are so biased away from Him, that the superstructure is that of another store altogether.
1) Obama has made it quite clear that religion is sacred in its own right, but that philosophy in the form of the popular piece of naturalism called organic evolution, has rights quite equal. Thus he endorses uncritically the scientistic fallacy of evolutionism, popular with many scientists, but exposed by multitudes of others, hundreds of Ph.D. scientists in Korea alone, dedicated to the contrary. Contrary to this parody of science also, have been some of the finest minds in science, including foundational original thinkers of vast fame like Newton, Maxwell and Faraday and Lord Kelvin, Fleming and Von Braun.
Whereas President Bush was content to ask the two divisions of science in this matter of origins, to talk to each other, being himself assured evolution could not explain the mysteries of life, Obama has abandoned, according to this newspaper report, any such approach, giving absolute preference to the one and total nescience to the other, without ground or reason. That is, his words appear clearly to equate science with a popular version of philosophy which has invaded it, one never seen supported by direct data, found as a mode of procedure or attested by experimental application. "I believe in evolution," says he. He implies that creationism, as utterly opposed to evolutionism, doesn't "hold up to scientific enquiry", without any attempt at giving grounds for so febrile a thought. It is clear in his speech that religion is being utterly separated in this area and arena, from what he is pleased to imagine is 'science', in accord with evolutionary theory.
This results from his view that religion is in no way to be a consideration in science, whereas that simply excludes the Almighty from revelation that is as factual as the Creator would have par excellence, while proposing that theories always invalidated and unverified are worthy of monopoly in science teaching (cf. SMR pp. 140ff., History, Review and Overview Ch. 5, TMR Ch. 1). It is in fact NEVER the case that experimental results attest evolution, or do anything contrary to creation's attestation: whilst they deny the postulates of organic evolution, that non-happening to all sight and vision, logic and reason, and confirm the criteria of creation.
In thus departing from the clear biblical picture and one clearly authoritative in logic and smiled on by empirical reality (as shown in The gods of naturalism have no go! TMR Appendix), he is as far from the way of Christ as the moon from the sun. THAT evolutionary way has a Creator of incredible brutality, folly and cruelty, for this is implicit in what is purported to be the way things came to be; whereas there is a God of love, compassion and judgment, and in this last aspect of judgment, this present world is an alienated and defiled part (Romans 8:17ff., 5:1-12, Genesis 3), reeling into unrighteousness, creative about its Creator, with ludicrous thoughts insulting to His honour and confronting His biblical name.
2) It is reported by AAP, that Obama's list of religious speakers for his Inauguration included a Muslim party, who was scheduled to speak at his inaugural prayer service; while another such speaker was famous 'gay' Bishop Gene Robinson.
What in the world has a PRAYER session by ANY Christian in ANY capacity, mixed with Islam or biblically perfidious morals, to do with the God of the Bible ? and what has Jesus Christ to do with any other God (cf. Matthew 5:17ff., John 10:30, 5:19ff., 14:6) ? In Christ's opinion, nothing except to judge any such fiction! (John 14:6, Matthew 5:17ff., Jeremiah 10:11). It is FORBIDDEN for a CHRISTIAN to be spiritually yoked to an unbeliever or biblical dissident (II Corinthians 5-6, Romans 16:17), and this in terms of light having no communion with darkness. Islam DENIES the incarnation of Jesus Christ, His redemption and offer of free grace. This is betrayal: popular, but not altered in that. CHRIST kept to the word of revelation, the Bible. Such composites are the opposite. It is often convenient to make up contrary commandments, contrary thoughts on creation or spiritual fellowship: it is NEVER either wise or warranted. THIS is a new religion.
3) There was in the Washington Inaugural Festivities, provision for a strong impact from those who are biblically defined as perverted, a point already made clear in general principle in an earlier Obama explicitly all-inclusive speech on togetherness and oneness. He stressed that he was putting all in one, naming the varieties explicitly, whether of this or that mode, and this including sexual 'preference' as it is often called. In Journey to God or Fantasy's Flight to the Infernal Ch. 7, the way in which a Christian could be President or PM and remain both serviceable, honest, practical and pure in terms of his faith, is made clear. There is no excuse for religious promiscuity of utterance EVER for ANY Christian, nor does having and exhibiting close personal standards in any way compromise the care due to and provided for those of a divergent view.
Cohesion of thought or word with what is biblically abhorred from that authoritative source, is treachery. Giving unearned favour to one group when one is President however would be inequity. ALL peoples, kings or commoners have principles, and to become unprincipled in utterance or implication for the sake of anyone is merely to undo the force of one's own contribution. The soul or mouth, it is NEVER to be for sale, not even in the interests of appearance of being even-handed. To be fair in favour is one thing; to be synthetic in respect for alien principles is to subjectivise religion. If you want it that way, you can have it. It is the direct opposite of biblical requirements (cf. Lead Us Not into Temptation Ch. 4).
Love does not require agreement but truth abhors assent to what is defined as wrong in word or deed, and love rejoices in the truth (I Corinthians 13:6). IF, said Christ, anyone loves Me, he will keep My commandments.
A sense of unity of all in one spiritual complex or condominion is impossible for the Christian. This however is the sense of a NEW AGE which is being touted, one Australian newspaper using of this inaugural event, the phrase, "A NATION REBORN", as a massive headlines on page 1! America is to dust off old phrases, look for new ways, new approaches, less opposed to Islam, more diplomatic. As if applying the Obama look a further stage, China's news coverage of the Speech of Obama, it is reported, omitted detrimental reference to Communism and suppression, as enemies, as contrary, as not of 'us' in the USA.
There is a sense in which Obama, parallel to the way Billy Graham appears to act in his later crusades, has imbibed the ecumenical spirit to the point of vast rapprochement with this world and its unbiblical concept of leadership, law and purity, so that the idea of being with Paul, the offscouring of the universe would in this setting seem all but ludicrous; but it is the way the apostle put it (I Corinthians 4:13). His actual phrase was, "offscouring of all things", but this is even more dramatic. Taking up your cross and following Christ CAN be no matter of acceptability in this world, because the cross is an emblem of being condemned; and of all men, Obama at the present, being INCLUSIVE in spirit of government of all things, has a radically different direction, and perhaps, in view of speeches before election, a substantially other mandate! It is only now becoming clear just HOW FAR this has gone.
WHAT IS ANNOUNCED
The thing that Jesus the Christ announced was so UNPOPULAR, as we read in Luke 4, that after He had read the cited passage of Isaiah and announced "today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing", they were impacted with the gracious words He spoke. But a new approach quickly arose, like a storm at sea. Is this not the carpenter's son ? How does He do such things ? Let Him show us HERE the kind of things He did in Capernaum!
When God is rejected, and faith is thus inoperative, the kind of thing that comes easily is judgment as the scores of soldiers sent to capture Elijah found out. As to co-operation with the power of God in peace, this is a contradiction in terms for those at war with Him: able to be accomplished either directly (as in a declared war, as with Germany in WW II) or indirectly (as when Admiral Canaris was not following Hitler's wishes, but cannily had rather less evil ideas). Thus Christ did not attempt to impress Herod, when he came for the thrill. God is not mocked, and those who engage in this pastime are themselves likely to become their own betrayers in the end.
A prophet, said Christ, is not without honour except in His own country (Luke 4). Then He made a point which was splendidly courageous and necessary. Recalling history, He stated that Elijah was NOT sent to ANYONE in Israel in the pressure time, but to a widow in a city in another land, in fact near Sidon. Many lepers were in Israel, He added, in Elisha's time, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian. This obviously both questioned and challenged the faith of those in Nazareth, and they exploded in an effort to hurl Him bodily over a precipice, which however He avoided, since He had not yet finished what He came to do. Yet to come were many messages and miracles, culminating in the raising of Lazarus from the dead, before His own resurrection. All this, in an orderly manner with counsel and wit, was still to be performed. Kept till His appointed time came, Christ then went to Capernaum and nearby districts, spattering miracles like snow-flakes making the ground white with comfort, and clean with purging power.
HE was appointed and anointed by the Spirit of God, we read in Isaiah 61 as in Luke 4, for the Lord had set Him apart for many things, the first one mentioned in the Messianic list, being to preach the Gospel to the poor. It did not take some 800 million dollars, or their contemporary equivalent, to instal the Messiah. He was appointed and anointed by God Himself, who sent Him from heaven (Isaiah 48:16, Isaiah 9); not to do His own will but that of Him who sent Him, not to present His own doctrine but that of His Father (John 12:48-50).
Many false prophets and false christs will come, said Christ (Matthew 24:24); and when it is a question of messianic expectations, those with hope for the resolutions of the problems of this world in a way it can approve, then alas, since without the word of God both written and incarnate governing all, you merely rebel in that realm, travesty or tragedy await you. None of this is to question the sincerity of Obama; it is merely that he is on a different course, differently derived, with different morals tolerable, different religions capable of association and a different dynamic attested for the work of creation which is under the control of the deity. This does not fit Rev. 12:11…
None of this is to question the sincerity of Obama; it is merely that he is on a different course, differently derived, with different morals tolerable, different religions capable of association and a different dynamic attested for the work of creation which is under the control of the deity. This does not fit Revelation 12:11.
THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR
It is the Gospel with all its parameters intact, its spirit pure, its basis clear and its fundamentals untainted (Galatians 1) which is to be preached. The poor are not simply to be funded instead. To be sure, mercy is absolutely required with consideration and concern; but the concept that without decisive morals and responsibility, pagan, secular or urbanely grounded funds are to be given in a moral vacuum is as far from Christ as may be. Morality is the ROAD for it, TRUTH is the source for it, GRACE is the manner of it, and TRANSFORMATION is the way to receive it. Flowers on a coffin are not the point; it is life that is to flower.
Social palliatives can be kind; but spiritual rehabilitation is the prior necessity. Omit this, and all the synthetic morals and ideas in the world are but skin treatment for a patient with heart disease.
The Christian, as a follower of Christ, must be willing to reach and teach and preach to the poor, whose inalienable need is spiritual 'support' for which only the Creator is competent, in whose comfort is to be found the place precedent to all of life's means. Well does one remember when a pastor in New Zealand, a young minister was clamouring, at a time when the PC of NZ was busy denying the basic necessity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, for more salary since his family was large! The spiritual necessities seemed all but lost, with little attention apparent in the essential spiritual thrust, as the Church proceeded to disintegrate in doctrine.
It is like the Captain of the Titanic urging, 'Full steam ahead!' when the poor, doomed vessel is about to hit an iceberg in such incredible folly that even its near impervious provisions for safety are... not enough. The Gospel is not some specially strange spiritual thing that some desire, but the air of the spirit, the release of the heart, the joy of the life and the gift of God. Estranged, by this you are brought near. Detached, by this you are adopted. Awry, by this you are straightened; for here enmity with God (shown by omission of His stated will as ground for living - Colossians 1:21, Romans 5:10) becomes friendship, condemnation is rewritten as pardon and exclusion becomes inclusion.
By this, a man can both know and go with God, be resourced in grace and envigorated with victory over wilful sin, woeful error and seeded like a garden bed, with new floral graces.
Without this, no nation can become great. Wheedling or wheeler-dealing without this as the criterion of one's personal conduct, without the laws of God decipherable and indeed plain in all one's ways and life, it is an option commonly called 'worldly' and commonly associated with the rise and fall of nations. It is the testimony of impermanence and the prelude to decline.
Whether a Christian be President or PM, it is one in this: either he will be set to keep the law and morality and have the standards back of all his decisions which God requires (you do not cease to serve God if you elect to serve somebody or something else, as Daniel so well showed), or he will move to sell the soul to gain the power or implement the will of someone or something else. ALL those who lead have morals of one kind or another, absolutes (even if it be the idea that it is absolutely necessary to have everything relative only), and ethics. ANY who calls for election can make this clear, as can one applying for any other job. This has been a norm with myself. It has proved costly, but meaningful and impactive.
Believe it, do it (James has this to say). Don't do it, then where is the faith! he asks. Such is the tenor of some of his presentation.
Let us then make this that is secret, the Lord in one's heart, be that which is public, the principles, laws, ethics, morals, practices and pronouncements that go with Him, to go with us. All have them; we have this. Is it necessary for 9 to become 0 in order to be acceptable ? If so, find another slot, and do not change; for to be ashamed of Christ is to be excluded (Luke 9:26). You can nurse someone on these or those moral principles, and they may accept that this moves you and you will be faithful to these; or not. If however your acceptance is based on their insistence that you decline from such things, then in selling your services, you come near to selling your soul.
Let then preaching the Gospel to the poor, remind us of what spiritual priorities are all about; what ungainful employment - when you wait on God only as you serve in His Spirit - may mean as God alone is your support (Matthew 6:24,33), and how faithful are those who have love for God, more than the loving husband for his wife, or the solder toward his flag; for those are important, but this is all-important. It does not liberate from grace, but requires it; it does not allow foul deeds, but insists on service. It is not arid fundamentalistic folly, using violence as if engendered by the God of the Gospel or any other. Faith is the fundamental and God is the basis.
If this is excluded through fear, misused phrase or other fiction, by employer or government or one's own opted faithlessness; and if some other word than that of the Bible, without verification, without validity, becomes your OPERATING MANUAL or joins it: then weep for there is no comfort there. You are fundamentally astray. All have fundamentals: they are true or false, that is all. Truth matters and sand will never substitute for rock, no, not even by calling rock rigid! It needs to be.
But for the poor who receive the Gospel, there is not only cause for joy, but as we shall see Lord willing, next Sunday, there is a plateau of presentations which makes a floral wreath seem both symbolic and meagre. Here is all man requires: God's gift of grace, peace in pardon, redemption in sacrifice, funneled through faith, the Lord Himself present, a rebirth in truth and continual spiritual transforming for a soul reborn. Alas, nations are not so reborn when they re-arrange the models in their shop windows.