Christians challenge Costello’s advice to ‘suck it up’

Reverend Tim Costello

Church leaders have hit out at Baptist minister and former World Vision head Tim Costello for “raucously” telling Christians who want religious freedom laws because they feel persecuted to “suck it up” and “calm down”.

Reverend Costello, who is now a senior fellow at the Centre for Public Christianity, drew fire for his comments, which downplayed the experience of Australian Christians in the context of the government’s investigation into religious freedom laws and Israel Folau’s sacking over homophobic Instagram posts referencing the Bible.

“I don’t think there is a risk of persecution — Christians need to calm down,” Reverend Costello said in an interview published on The Guardian website yesterday.

“I would say to Christians if you want to see persecution, let me take you to places where there is persecution of Christians and other religious groups — let me take you to Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, and I will show you ­persecution. And if they read their Bibles, Jesus said the world will hate you and misunderstand you for follow­ing me, but to go on followin­g, loving, serving — so I would say, just suck it up.

“Jesus didn’t go around demand­ing legislation to protect his rights. Jesus didn’t advocate for freedom-of-religion legislation.”

A spokesman for the Centre for Public Christianity said Reverend Costello had been “trying to take a bit of the heat out of the ­discussion”.

But Bruce Meller, a minister and assembly clerk of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, called the piece a “strid­ent, raucous overstatement”. “The fact he says it shows that he doesn’t think other Christians are agreeing with him,” Reverend Meller said.

He said that while Reverend Costello was right to recognise the experience of Christians overseas, “negative discrimination is defin­itely being experienced here” and Australian Christians should be encouraged to speak up in the public debate around religiou­s freedom laws. “This is the most important issue we face at the moment, and not just for Christians,’’ he said. “The climate has changed dramatically, and it is that change to which Christians are reacting.

“The atrocious assault on the Muslim community in Christchurch saw an outpouring of grief that was right and appropriate. But when 300 Christians were blown up in Sri Lanka shortly afterward­s, the response was very muted by comparison. Christians are right to react to things like that … They are also entitle­d to speak up when societal pressure becomes increasingly hostile.’’

Michael Kellahan, executive director of Christian think tank Freedom for Faith, said while he understood the point Reverend Costello was trying to make by comparing Christians in Australia with those overseas, Christians needed to “beware of the speed at which things can change”.

“If Australia wants to be able to speak with credibility to places without freedoms we need to show that we take freedom for all people seriously here,” Mr Kellahan said. “I don’t think a comment like ‘suck it up’ stands well … there will probably be Christians who are disappointed to hear that.

“This is a time when all Australians need to stop throwing in quick-catch headlines and think about constructive ways to live together well. If Tim Costello wants to be part of that, we’d welcome that. But suggesting Christians shouldn’t be interested in religious freedoms protection is not a contributio­n to make.’’

Date-stamped: 2019 July 10 - Time-stamped: 12:00 am - By Elias Visontay  - Article Title: Christians slam Costello’s advice to ‘suck it up’  - Article Link: theaustralian.com.au

Mercy 4. Mercy and Judgement

1 Tim 1:12-17 ESV | Matt 18:23-35 ESV

INTRODUCTION

As we saw last week, the writer of Hebrews (Heb 12:24 ESV) was keenly aware of the availability of mercy when he stated, we have come “to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

If the blood of the first prophet to suffer, Abel, cried out from the ground for vengeance1)See Biblical References Gen 4:10 ESV; Luke 11:49-51 ESV the blood of Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of all prophetic witness, cries out with far greater authority for mercy and forgiveness.

Christians, whom Paul describes as “vessels of mercy (Rom 9:23 ESV), should naturally be aware of the disproportion between grace and judgement (Rom 5:15-19 ESV).

This James’ point, “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment(James 2:13 ESV).

Once “children of wrath(Eph 2:3 ESV) under terrible divine retribution we are now those who “have received mercy(Rom 11:30 ESV) and continue the age-long prophetic conviction that God’s nature is always to have mercy.

In this world, judgement isn’t an end in itself but a preparation for mercy. Being aware of the nearness of the mercy of God is a pulse running through the Bible. It is tied to a knowledge of God’s heart, that the judgement and destruction of the wicked gives the Lord “no pleasure2)See Biblical References Ezek 18:32 ESV; Ezek 33:11 ESV.

PROPHETS

This awareness is especially acute in the prophets, and perhaps most blatantly in the one prophet who didn’t agree with the Lord’s preference to forgive. The book of Jonah starts with God’s call to the prophet to “preach against” Nineveh for its wickedness (Jonah 1:1-2 ESV).

As we know, Jonah immediately headed away from Nineveh, because as he later explains, “I made haste to flee… for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and who relents from sending disaster.(Jonah 4:2 ESV).

Whilst Jeremiah is a prophet of judgement so notorious that there’s even an English word, “jeremiad”, to sum up threatening’s against evil, he is also the prophet of the endless mercies of a coming new covenant (Jer 31:2, 9, 20, 31-34 ESV).

And in his tradition come the inspired words, vs.22The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;vs.23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.(Lam 3:22-23 ESV).

Amos has 8 chapters of devastation, but he knows how to cry out for God to turn from afflicting his people, successfully, “ “O Lord God, please forgive! How can Israel stand? He is so small!” ” (Amos 7:2-3, 5-6 ESV). And God did relent. Amos ends with a prophecy about a sort of super-Edenic state (Amos 9:11-15 ESV).

Then there’s Isaiah who sees a new heaven’s, and earth3)See Biblical References Isaiah 65:17 ESV; Isaiah 66:22 ESV emerging from cosmic judgement.

Habakkuk prophesies a terrible invasion when God visits the world with pestilence, plague, fire and fury (Habakkuk 3:5-16 ESV), but his prayer ascends above the desolation, “O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.(Habakkuk 3:2 ESV). John the Baptist is at the end of this line.

I was once moved to correct a pastor who preached that John was “harsh and legalistic”. For  according to the scripture John came  in “the tender mercy of our God” and his message to the crowds to “ “flee from the wrath to come” ”4)See Biblical References Luke 1:78 ESV;  Luke 3:7 ESV was a God-given opportunity to repent and receive forgiveness5)See Biblical References Mark 1:4 ESV cf. Rom 2:4 ESV.

All these prophets, and others, such as Moses (Ex 32:30-34 ESV), were great intercessors because they knew God full of mercy (Jer 31:20 ESV) so that he never afflicts “from his heart” (Lam 3:33 ESV)

They all knew “mercy triumphs over judgment.(James 2:13 ESV), but none of them knew exactly how. This tension between the crushing righteous judgment of the Lord and the “wideness in God’s mercy” was resolved in the life of Jesus.

JESUS

In Jesus, there is always a victory of mercy beyond judgement.

This first becomes manifest at his baptism. vs.21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, vs.22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”” (Luke 3:21-22 ESV).

Jesus is immersed in waters that symbolise the destructive power of God’s judgement that came with the flood of Noah to cleanse the world from evil6)See Biblical References Gen 6:5-7, 11-13 ESV cf. 2 Pet 3:5-7 ESV.

His immersion is prophetic of the judgement that will engulf him on the cross7)See Biblical References Ps 69 ESV; John 2:17 ESV. But the “well pleased” of the Father speaks of the coming triumphant joy of resurrection life8)See Biblical References Luke 24:41 ESV; Heb 12:2 ESV.

The dove descending on Jesus, like the dove that settled upon the earth after the flood of Noah (Gen 8:6-12 ESV), symbolises mercy beyond a coming flood of judgement. Christ’s vocation is to fulfil the ministry of all the prophets, he will take away judgement and issuing in the triumphant endless mercy of his Father. the true intent of divine judgement is shown in Jesus anger at those who denied to the needy.

In Mark 3 when the Pharisees are merciless about healing on the Sabbath Jesus became angry with them (Mark 3:5 ESV). Even more clearly is his teaching in the parable of the unforgiving servant, in which the master stands for God.  vs.32Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.vs.33And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’vs.34And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt.vs.35So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” ” (Matt 18:32-35 ESV).

The seemingly unforgivable sin is not idolatry, murder, adultery or some other grievous act but a lack of forgiveness.

Forgiving the undeserving image God’s mercy and unconditional mercy is what human beings need to deliver them from the threat of eternal judgement.

I remember some time ago a conversation with a church worker talking whose church they were trying to reach out to the unchurched by avoiding words like “sin”. Instead, they’d use something like “darkness”.

Our tendency is to make excuses for our rebellious humanity, but being sinless Jesus could see our predicament clearly and our extreme need for mercy.

The legalistic and merciless attitude of the Pharisees directly opposed the mercy and forgiveness of God reaching out to tenderly heal the sufferings of broken people. Jesus understood the profound interconnection between mercy and forgiveness because his destiny was the cross.

The cross is the final revelation of God’s righteous wrath and his infinite mercy at the same time. The cross is the standard of the Last Judgement in its exclusion and inclusion of sinners into the kingdom of God.

To quote, “The absolute ultimate judgment of the world took place in Christ’s death….the last standard…The last judgment is behind us.  The true judgment-seat of Christ, where we must all appear, is the Cross… Christ… is eternal Judge in His great work as the Crucified, a work historic yet timeless and final.  In Him… the absolute condemnation … and irreversible judgment was passed upon evil.  There, too, the judgment of our sins fell once for all on the Holy One and the Just.  The judgment Christ exercises stands on the judgment He endured … He assumes judgment because He absorbed it. ….” (P.T. Forsyth).

That the Last Judgement is completed in Jesus (cf. John 5:24 ESV) is a remarkably potent truth that was once impressed on my heart in a highly unusual way.

Arriving at Uluru by a car late in the afternoon, when night fell I was strongly directed by the Spirit to go and pray alone facing the Rock.

As I walked onwards, I could sense that demonic powers were watching, as the site is an ancient centre for Indigenous spirituality, and more recently the New Age. I could sense in the Spirit that many other Christians had prayed at the site before me and that some of them had prayed cursing instead of a blessing (Luke 6:28 ESV).

Arriving in sight of the Rock I found myself not praying, but repeatedly proclaiming to the spiritual world, “Judgement has been taken away.” In Christ, there is no more judgement. because the fullness of God’s mercy has already been expressed in him.

JUDGEMENT AND MERCY

The writers of the New Testament have a sharp and deep understanding of the mercy of God. As “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” Paul received mercy in an outpouring of grace to make known the unlimited mercies of God (1 Tim 1:12-17 ESV).

And so he extols the wealth of God’s mercy; “you… were by nature children of wrath… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace, you have been saved(Eph 2:1-5 ESV).

And there are many other verses that highlight divine mercy9)See Biblical References 2 Cor 1:3-4 ESV; Tit 3:5 ESV; 1 Pet 1:3 ESV; 1 Pet 2:10 ESV etc.. But it’s the structure of the book of Romans that expounds the impetus of mercy for the Christian life; Romans shows that all God’s purposes, including his judgments, have his saving mercy in mind for humanity.

At the end of a very long argument beginning with how God in wrath hands all people over to the consequences of their sins, (Rom 1:18-32 ESV especially vv. 24, 26, 28), Paul concludes with, “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.(Rom 11:32 ESV).

This scripture is a tremendous encouragement to us in those times when the wickedness of the world threatens to depress us. With an inclusive understanding of the wideness of God’s mercy Paul goes on to exhort his readers, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.(Rom 12:1 ESV).

Gratitude for the judgement removing mercies of predestination, adoption, justification, sanctification and so on that Paul has presented throughout Romans motivates Christian living. Periodically throughout Church history moves of God have been propelled by a revelation of this limitless mercy.

CHURCH

Tormented by a guilty conscience Luther went on an impassioned quest to find a merciful God. In his own words, “At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I turned to… the following words: “In it [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written,He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ ”

There I began to understand the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous live through a gift of God, namely by faith.

And this is the meaning: The righteousness of God which is revealed by the gospel is passive righteousness with which the merciful God justifies us by faith… Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.”

Luther’s is an individual example, but as we see the strong hand of God coming heavier and heavier on our nation the Lord’s purpose is to intensify humility in all our hearts so that we might receive a revelation of both the necessity and availability of his mercy.

I believe that at the moment, an atmosphere of “cheap grace” in the churches is stifling such a revelation.

The letter of Jude combines communicates the sort of presence we need today, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.(Jude 1:20-23 ESV).

Jude’s confidence in the readiness of the Lord to show mercy is based on the revealed character of Christ, once judged for us and now coming back as Judge.

The mixture of fear and mercy before an imminent coming fiery judgment contrasts with prevalent church attitudes today where the sins of the flesh are either treated legalistically, the very opposite of mercy or treated as mere “mistakes”.

What we need instead is a revelation of the seriousness of sin settled once for all through the blood of the cross10)See Biblical References Heb 7:27 ESV; Heb 9:12, 26, 10:10 ESV. This brings us to the topic of the Last Judgement.

LAST JUDGEMENT

judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy(James 2:13 ESV) is a theme that echoes throughout scripture11)See Biblical References Job 22:6-11 ESV; Ps 18:25-26 ESV; Prov 21:13 ESV; Ezek 25:11-14 ESV; Matt 6:15 ESV; Matt 18:32-35 ESV.

We are in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed, not just for sexual depravity but for “pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy(Ezek 16:48-50 ESV).

Hard as it may be to absorb, the prophetic parable of the sheep and the goats teaches that those who don’t feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and imprisoned are sent into “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels(Matt 25:31-46 ESV).

There is a wideness in God’s mercy, but it cannot encompass the stubbornly merciless whose hardness of heart is a sign that they don’t have the love of God abiding in them (1 John 3:17 ESV). At the End the time for mercy is past. (Rev 14:9-11 ESV).

CONCLUSION

It has been argued that there are four stages of a society’s progressive descent into judgement, hardness12)See Biblical References Rom 1:18, 21, 28 ESV; Eph 4:18 ESV, darkness 13)See Biblical References Rom 1:21-22, 28 ESV; Eph 4:17-18 ESV, being handed over by God14)See Biblical References Rom 1:24, 26, 28 ESV; Eph 4:18 ESV and public shamelessness15)See Biblical References Rom 1:24, 26, 27-31 ESV; Eph 4:19 ESV.

If this is an accurate assessment our culture has reached the final stage.

A worldly society suffers under intensifying judgement16)See Biblical References Rev 18:6-8 ESV cf. Prov 137:8 ESV; Jer 50:15, 29 ESV; Jer 51:24, 29 ESV so that scripture appeals to the Church, “ “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues17)See Biblical References Rev 18:4 ESV cf. 2 Cor 6:17 ESV.

If we would avoid partaking of the judgement the world draws down on itself18)See Biblical References Rev 11:5 ESV; Rev 13:10 ESV; Rev 16:6 ESV; Rev 18:5-7 ESV; Rev 22:18-19 ESV cf. Deut 19:15, 19 ESV; Hos 4:1-3 ESV we must live radically different lives. Here’s an example.

The so-called Mother Teresa of Cairo, Mamma Maggie, was a wealthy university professor educating the elite. Then one day she visited “garbage city” where thousands of Coptic Christians recycle rubbish in an environment without clean water, schools, healthcare and a high infant mortality rate.  Overpowered and nauseated she fled to a dark room asking God if he was a God of mercy and of love, how could he let this happen?

She says, “Later I felt that he was saying that it was my turn to do something about it.” Since then she has started St Stephen’s School and charity with 90 centres in Egypt that have assisted tens of thousands of needy people. Where do we see men and women suffering in need of God’s mercy, and what is he asking us to do about it?

Grace and mercy in time of need (Heb 4:16 ESV) are ours for in Christ we are vessels of mercy who can confidently ask God to bring pour forth mercy through own lives. As Daniel in exile knew that the Lord would show mercy on account of his prayers (Dan 9:9 ESV) and as Jesus in his petitions in Gethsemane had faith for a coming mercy beyond a time of judgement19)See Biblical References Heb 5:7-8 ESV; Heb 12:1-2 ESV, through the gospel this can be our expectation.

The Lord will not abandon his people in this hour.

Related:

MERCY SERIES

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 16th June 2019 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

Date 16th. June, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Gen 4:10 ESV; Luke 11:49-51 ESV
2. See Biblical References Ezek 18:32 ESV; Ezek 33:11 ESV
3. See Biblical References Isaiah 65:17 ESV; Isaiah 66:22 ESV
4. See Biblical References Luke 1:78 ESV;  Luke 3:7 ESV
5. See Biblical References Mark 1:4 ESV cf. Rom 2:4 ESV
6. See Biblical References Gen 6:5-7, 11-13 ESV cf. 2 Pet 3:5-7 ESV
7. See Biblical References Ps 69 ESV; John 2:17 ESV
8. See Biblical References Luke 24:41 ESV; Heb 12:2 ESV
9. See Biblical References 2 Cor 1:3-4 ESV; Tit 3:5 ESV; 1 Pet 1:3 ESV; 1 Pet 2:10 ESV etc.
10. See Biblical References Heb 7:27 ESV; Heb 9:12, 26, 10:10 ESV
11. See Biblical References Job 22:6-11 ESV; Ps 18:25-26 ESV; Prov 21:13 ESV; Ezek 25:11-14 ESV; Matt 6:15 ESV; Matt 18:32-35 ESV
12. See Biblical References Rom 1:18, 21, 28 ESV; Eph 4:18 ESV
13. See Biblical References Rom 1:21-22, 28 ESV; Eph 4:17-18 ESV
14. See Biblical References Rom 1:24, 26, 28 ESV; Eph 4:18 ESV
15. See Biblical References Rom 1:24, 26, 27-31 ESV; Eph 4:19 ESV
16. See Biblical References Rev 18:6-8 ESV cf. Prov 137:8 ESV; Jer 50:15, 29 ESV; Jer 51:24, 29 ESV
17. See Biblical References Rev 18:4 ESV cf. 2 Cor 6:17 ESV
18. See Biblical References Rev 11:5 ESV; Rev 13:10 ESV; Rev 16:6 ESV; Rev 18:5-7 ESV; Rev 22:18-19 ESV cf. Deut 19:15, 19 ESV; Hos 4:1-3 ESV
19. See Biblical References Heb 5:7-8 ESV; Heb 12:1-2 ESV

Loving the Trinity

Prov 8:1-4 KJV | Prov 22:1 – 31:31 KJV | Ps 8:1-9 KJV | Eph 4:1-6 KJV | John 16:12-15 KJV

INTRODUCTION

Despite popular opinion, the revelation that there is one God in three Persons is the most foundational and practical of all Christian beliefs. For instance, contemporary society’s commitment to “equal” i.e. same-sex, marriage and the fluid nature of gender identity can be traced back to a rejection of the Trinity. Political correctness continues to infiltrate even the Church, which is called to be a place of holy communion with the one true God.

A Catholic friend recently sent me material about church schools using gender-neutral language in prayer so “Godself” replaces God himself.

This same crusade against patriarchy reaches up to an episcopal level were from time to time, instead of, “In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, you will hear, “In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier”.

But what God does isn’t equivalent to who he is and Jesus himself gave us the name in which we should be baptised (Matt 28:19 KJV).

The Trinity isn’t an intellectual puzzle to be solved but the revelation of a God who is love, who loves to be loved and who wants to share every element of his being with us.

Jesus prayed, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” ” (John 17:26 KJV).

For many years I struggled to feel loved by God, but those days are over and with the help of the Spirit (Rom 5:5 KJV) those still stuck in that place can receive a revelation of the scriptural truth, “God is love(1 John 4:8 KJV), today.

We shouldn’t hear this, as our idolatrous culture does, as equivalent to “love is God”.

The answer question, “I want to know what love is”, doesn’t come from a quest for “love”, but from insight into in the way that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit love each other and us. Especially in the cross.

LOVE IN GOD

Father, Son and Spirit are not named for three “individuals” who choose to love one another, in God loving and being are one. God exists-in-love.

The Father has always loved the Son with the whole of his substance, and the Son has always loved the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit in the totality of who he is.

The absolute primacy of love in God has massive implications. To say, for example, “God is wrath”, is completely false because the Father has never had a reason to be angry with his Son. Scripture unveils a history shaped by the other-centred love of the Persons of the Trinity.

The Bible testifies that creation comes from the Father1)See Biblical References 1 Cor 8:6 KJV; Rev 4:11 KJV; Rev 10:6 KJV through the mediation of the Son2)See Biblical References John 1:3 KJV; 1 Cor 8:6 KJV; Col 1:15-17 KJV; Heb 1:10-12 KJV and by the power of the Spirit3)See Biblical References Gen 1:2 KJV; Job 26:13 KJV; Job 33:4 KJV; Ps 104:30 KJV; Isa 40:12-13 KJV. Digging deeper we find a level of intimacy that reveals the Persons of the Godhead live for one another.

In Colossians 1:16 KJV we read about Jesus, “for through him God created everything… Everything was created through him and for him”. In other words, the Father created all things for his Son. Christ himself said, vs.22the Father…has given all judgment to the Son, vs.23that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father.(John 5:22-23 KJV). Since there is total sharing in the Godhead what is done by the Father for the Son comes back to him.

God the Father will be glorified through the glorification of his beloved Son (1 Cor 15:24, 28 KJV). As a return for his sacrifice, the Father has “highly exalted” Jesus with “the name that is above every name” ” so that “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father(Phil 2:1-0-11 KJV)

At the close of the book of Revelation, we hear of “the throne of God and the Lamb(Rev 22:1, 3 KJV).

There are not two thrones in heaven, Father and Son reign forever in the power of the Spirit on a single throne4)See Biblical References Rev 22:1 KJV cf. John 7:37-39 KJV. The Father loves nothing more than for us to love the Son, the Son loves us to love the Father and all this love is in the Spirit (2 Cor 13:14 KJV).

To forget that the glory of every Person in the Trinity is to glorify the others always leads to confusion. When I was a young Christian there were popular T-shirts around with John 14:6 KJV printed on them, “Jesus said,I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”; but none of them included the rest of what Jesus’ said, “no one comes to the Father except through me.

No wonder that generation struggled with the Fatherhood of God. “Love” is perhaps the most corrupted word in the English language, to understand what “love” means in the eyes of God we must have a revelation of the death and resurrection of Jesus whose life meaning was defined by these events. “ “For this reason” ”, he said, “ “the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” ” (John 10:16 KJV)

LOVE AS SACRIFICE

With the coming of Jesus a new form of knowing God entered the world, one defined by self-giving rather than self-seeking, selflessness rather than selfishness, a manifestation of all-embracing unconditional forgiving love. God’s love is defined by his sacrifice of himself for those who don’t love him.

What’s the most famous verse in the Bible? “For God so loved…the world” i.e. those opposed to him “that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life.5)See Biblical References John 3:16 KJV cf. 1 John 4:10 KJV.

Sometimes grieving people say, “I feel as though a part of me has died.” This is a metaphorical way of speaking about our human experiences, but it really happened when the Father was separated from the Son on the cross as he cried out, “ “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” ”(Mark 15:34 KJV).

When Jesus took all the lovelessness of the world upon himself6)See Biblical References Rom 8:3 KJV; 2 Cor 5:21 KJV; 1 Pet 2:24 KJV death entered into the life of God.

The Persons of the Trinity never stopped loving one another, but the infinite agony of the cross marks a suspension in the circle of loving experience in the Godhead. Suffering, sin and death were taken into God so that in Christ we might eternally and uninterruptedly be immersed in his love.

In the death and resurrection of Jesus for us, human nature has been beautified and by grace made worthy of love. “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has passed away; behold, everything has become new.(2 Cor 5:17 KJV).

Raised up with Christ and hidden with him in God7)See Biblical References ph 2:6 KJV; Col 3:3 KJV our humanity has been so radically renewed that love is now at the essence of our being. This love has no limits in its powerful working.

In a Japanese P.O.W. camp holding men building the Burma Railway, the prisoners were behaving like brute beasts. The officers refused to share their rations, theft was common, and no-one cared for others’ needs. Then one day a work party returned, and a shovel was missing from the count.

Infuriated, the guard in charge threatened to kill everyone unless the thief stepped forward and confessed. No one moved. Then finally a man stood up and said, “I did it.” He was mercilessly bludgeoned to death in front of all the inmates. Soon after this the work detail did a recount of tools and found they’d made a mistake, nothing was missing.

A Bible verse came into the mind of one of the prisoners, who later became a pastor, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 KJV). From that time on life in the camp began to change, men were still suffering and dying, but now they were caring for each other without selfishness.

They began to feel they were called to a fellowship of love and started doing art, founded a “university”, planted a garden, built a chapel. The miraculous power at work transforming the rabble into a community was the love of the man who gave his life for his friends, and enemies, on the cross, which is also the limitless love of Almighty God.

Christ’s sacrifice is the fulness of an extraordinary love that has grown to infinity through being given away. We are all called into this fellowship of love.

Mother Teresa said, “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts then there is no hurt but only more love. As I held and fed the morsel of life that was an aborted baby, I held the hand of our man dying from cancer and felt his trust and gratitude, I can see, feel and touch God’s love which has existed from the beginning.

Experiences like this, not clever intellectual arguments, testify to our hearts of the reason why God created the world.

KNOWING THE TRINITY

In the age of fake news and endless exposure of hypocrisy cynicism and suspicion of people’s motives abounds. But the gospel of the death-and-resurrection of Jesus reveals an all-powerful love that’s never manipulative or self-seeking.

The deepest mystery of the universe is not accessible to science, psychology or philosophy, but unveiled in the Trinitarian love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit poured out for us in Jesus.

Loved without limit, the call to follow Christ is a call to follow without limit, to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Matt 22:37 KJV).

A call to love totally and unconditionally. In this life, nobody can love God like that, but Jesus has promised, “‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23 KJV).

CONCLUSION

Jesus has shown us a Spirit-led way to the Father.

As he gave up everything for us, we must give up everything to him. That’s what love means, that’s how love works. The more we are united with the sacrifice of Christ, the more we have a revelation that God is infinitely loveworthy and the more we are freed from a selfish need to love ourselves before we love God and others.

The problem with the wider Church today is that it is choked up by an immature love. Mature love doesn’t love God for his benefits, real and wonderful as they are, but loves God for his sake.  It is being bathed in this love that drives out all fear of being unloved (1 John 4:18 KJV).

In heaven, we will fully love God as God loves himself. Who Jesus is and what he has done for us is that powerful.

I was out praying the other day and my heart was simultaneously filled with two sensations, I sensed this deep desire to share all things with the Lord, and far more deeply his desire to share all things with me.

This will be my life forever. Will it be yours?

Today, God’s love, the love of the Father, Son and Spirit calls us all to give our lives to Jesus, this is the loving thing to do. And if we do this, not only as individuals but as a church, we will find flowing through our lives Spirit-inspired actions manifesting the life of Christ to the glory of God the Father. Actions of extreme generosity, mission, evangelism, prophetic community, social concern…  such love is what it’s all about.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 15th Month 2019 Location: St Marks

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

Date 15th Month, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References 1 Cor 8:6 KJV; Rev 4:11 KJV; Rev 10:6 KJV
2. See Biblical References John 1:3 KJV; 1 Cor 8:6 KJV; Col 1:15-17 KJV; Heb 1:10-12 KJV
3. See Biblical References Gen 1:2 KJV; Job 26:13 KJV; Job 33:4 KJV; Ps 104:30 KJV; Isa 40:12-13 KJV
4. See Biblical References Rev 22:1 KJV cf. John 7:37-39 KJV
5. See Biblical References John 3:16 KJV cf. 1 John 4:10 KJV
6. See Biblical References Rom 8:3 KJV; 2 Cor 5:21 KJV; 1 Pet 2:24 KJV
7. See Biblical References ph 2:6 KJV; Col 3:3 KJV

Mercy 3. The Blood of the Cross

Heb 4:14-16 ESV; Heb 10:19-25 ESV; Heb 12:18-24 ESV

INTRODUCTION

In my first sermon in this series I mentioned that one reason why I was moved to teach on mercy was a heartfelt prayer by someone who quoted from Heb Chapter 12; we have come “to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.(Heb 12:24 ESV).

If the blood of Abel cries out for vengeance (Gen 4:10 ESV) then the blood of Jesus cries out for mercy on sinners like all of us. this is a tremendous truth.

So far in this series, I have focussed on how divine mercy frees us from our miseries flowing from the power and pollution of sin.

But the mercy of God goes to the root of things healing us from the penalty of sin and cancelling out the ultimate consequences of our guilt and rebellion against God.

The mercy of God is grounded in the very depths of God’s own being, it’s no afterthought once things have gone wrong in the world. Since Jesus is the Lamb slain from before the world’s foundation1)See Biblical References Rev 13:8 ESV; 1 Pet 1:18-20 ESV the divine provision of blood to cleanse us of sin is eternal.

The Father has always seen our misery and in Christ made provision for us before we could sin or confess or repent. There is a “wideness in God’s mercy” that is far more profound than the limits of human misery. The shape of this mercy for sinners was prophetically revealed in the Old Testament and enacted in the New.

THE SHAPE OF ATONEMENT

In the holy of holies, the tablets of the Ten Commandments were placed in the ark of the covenant as a perpetual reminder of law-breaking humanity’s deserving of divine wrath.

Yet over the ark and between the cherubim the all-holy God still dwelt in a cloud of glory.

The point of connection between the polluted realm of fallenness and the purity of the Lord came on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies enveloped in a cloud of sweet incense to mediate for the people by applying sacrificial blood to the ark’s mercy seat.

The priest’s survival was a sign that God had accepted his sacrifice and cleansed and covered the sin of the people for another year (Lev 16 ESV).

We know Jesus is the true High Priest2)See Biblical References Heb 3:1 ESV; Heb 5:1 ESV etc. who entered the most holy place in God’s heavenly presence taking his own sacrificial blood (Heb 9:11-12 ESV).

The cloud of incense around the earthly High Priest shielded his eyes from the death-dealing glory of God above the ark, but Christ’s own death is the fragrance that satisfies God’s longing for a complete offering of life given in love (Eph 5:2 ESV).

Through the blood of Jesus, the glory of God is mediated to lawless humans so that in the place of endless misery there might be an eternal pleasure.

CROSS

Whilst I firmly believe the heart of the cross is beautiful at a more profound level I agree with this statement by a theologian, “The cross is not and cannot be loved.” (Moltmann). In its appearance to ordinary human sight, the death of Christ is a foolish ugly scandal3)See Biblical References Isa 52:14 ESV; 1 Cor 1:18 ESV ff..

It is a very uncomfortable thing to come terms with the misery Jesus endured to bring us into the mercy of God.

An ancient spiritual principle teaches that if the whole of humanity fell in Adam then Jesus needed to be a complete human being in order to save us.

Jesus had a human body, soul, spirit, mind, will and emotions4)See Biblical References John 1:14 ESV; Rom 8:3 ESV so that he could take upon himself the fullness of our miseries and deliver us in the fullness of God’s mercies.

What happened to Christ on the cross must encompass the words of the lamenting prophet, “ “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger.” ” (Lam 1:12 ESV).

Martin Luther had a very powerful understanding of how Jesus took into himself our wretched condition.

“Our most merciful Father, seeing us to be oppressed and overwhelmed with the curse of the law . . . sent his only Son into the world and laid upon him all the sins of all men, saying, ‘You be Peter that denier, Paul that persecutor, blasphemer and cruel oppressor, David that adulterer, that sinner who ate the apple in Paradise, that thief who hung upon the cross… you be the person who has committed the sins of all men. See therefore that you pay and satisfy for them.”

Martin Luther

These are true words, but in relation to how Jesus has obtained mercy for us, they need to be more pointed.

Christ himself recounted in the story of the unforgiving servant the terrifying decree that the Master spoke, vs.32‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. vs.33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?vs.34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. vs.35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” ” (Matt 18:33-35 ESV).

The same thing comes across in the words of James, “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy(James 2:13 ESV). Gethsemane was so traumatic on Jesus because he knew he must bear the severity of these decrees.

To the natural man, the cross (1 Cor 2:14 ESV) looks like Jesus passively enduring a terrible injustice (cf. Matt 27:14 ESV).

This is especially true today when our society, obsessed as it is by identifying with victims, women, gays, trans, children, coloured people etc., can only see Jesus as a victim.

But we see Jesus actively embracing the totality of human misery in obedience to the will of the Father and for his glory. Misery didn’t “happen” to Jesus, his “blood” wasn’t taken from him (John 10:17-18 ESV).

On one level. since misery is the result of lost glory, Jesus suffers as the most miserable of sinners, but on a far more profound level, his misery is his glory because it’s the means by which his Father is glorified (John 12:27-28 ESV).

The frequent mention of the blood of Christ in the New Testament5)See Biblical References Heb 9:14 ESV; Heb 10:22 ESV; 1 Pet 1:2 ESV; Rev 1:5-6 ESV; Rev 5:9-10 ESV; Rev 7:14-15 ESV etc. isn’t an appeal for sympathy towards Christ’s sufferings, but a testimony to the power of a life sacrificed for others that we might live freed from endless misery. This is what the power of the blood of Christ is all about.

In April last year about 1,000 performers comprising an orchestra, massed choir, plus professional and community ensembles gathered on the streets of the City of Perth to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. At the centre of the event was an endless audio loop of a recording made in 1971 of an anonymous homeless man constantly singing on the streets of London. Here is what was played again and again;

“Jesus’ blood never failed me yet, Never failed me yet Jesus’ blood never failed me yet, There’s one thing I know, For he loves me so…”

There’s something ineradicable about the impact of the blood of Jesus. Jesus was not ashamed to indwell the true breadth and depth, essence and darkness, of human misery.

Our miseries are a weak echo of the miseries he has made an end of in his death (cf. Heb 5:7 ESV). We can only see the true depths of human misery in the misery of Jesus’ cry, “ “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ” (Mark 15:34 ESV)

The suffering of the cross without the revelation of the mercy of the Father was an indescribably horrible experience for the Son of God. The death of Jesus was no mercy killing, he tasted the sentence of endless misery on our behalf. How could God the Father ask his Son to endure into the place of no mercy far from his presence? The only answer is his unconditional unlimited love for us.

The Prayer of Humble Access from the Anglican Prayer Book is true in what it affirms about God’s relationship with sinners, “We do not presume to come to your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under you table. But you are the same Lord whose nature is always to have mercy.”

However, the merciful love working through the blood of the cross for us suspended Jesus’ experience of such mercy. In the wisdom of God, this absence of mercy for the crucified Jesus magnified mercy to humanity in Christ’s resurrection and exaltation far beyond any of the ravages of misery brought on by sin.

THE POWER OF THE BLOOD

In Acts 20:28 ESV Paul makes a statement which can be translated, “ “Pay careful …to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” ”

The blood of Christ has an infinite value, “glory”, which far outweighs in worth all the evil ever committed.

There’s a mercy in the blood shed for us that turns misery under wrath into glory in grace because Jesus first exchanged his natural glory for our sinful misery (2 Cor 5:21 ESV).

This is why the “sprinkled bloodspeaks a better word than the blood of Abel.(Heb 12:24 ESV). To gaze into the cross through the blood is to gaze upon the love of God encompassed in the cloud of our misery and to have a final revelation of the majesty of divine mercy.

When this blood touches the human conscience, all is absolved and we are cleansed us from every guilty shame we feel about our miserable state6)See Biblical References Heb 1:3 ESV; Heb 9:14 ESV; Heb 10:22 ESV; 1 Pet 1:2 ESV; Rev 1:5-6 ESV; Rev 5:9-10 ESV; Rev 7:14-15 ESV.

I remember testimonies of people saying that when they first came to Jesus they just felt “clean”. God’s own blood purifies us from the depth of depravity and pollution caused by the loss of his glory7)See Biblical References 1 John 1:7 ESV ff; 1 John 2:2 ESV; from wallowing in misery we know we are being re-glorified (2 Cor 3:18 ESV).

When the old saints spoke of “pleading the blood” for lost sinners they were not being ghoulish but reckoning with the only power that can shelter guilty humanity from the just judgment of the Lord.

From the time of Abel shed blood has cried out for divine vengeance, In our own time we might think of the blood of persecuted Christians, aborted babies, slaughtered Indigenous people, trafficked women, and most recently the victims of euthanasia8)See Biblical References Deut 24:15 ESV; Ps 9:12 ESV; Jer 46:10 ESV; James 5:4 ESV; Rev 6:10 ESV etc..

Thankfully, much louder than these voices is the cry of the blood of Jesus pleading for mercy. In Jesus, there is “the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.(Heb 4:14-16 ESV).

Jesus’ life in heaven is pleading mercy for sinners because his blood has cleansed the holiest presence of God (Heb 9:22-23 ESV). As the blood of the Passover lamb covered the Israelites from the destroying angel so Jesus’ blood covers the sins of the world (John 1:29 ESV).

To plead the blood is to claim the protection, deliverance and legal rights from the condemnation we have in Christ and to pray it will impact the lives of others. There is a dimension to this however which can easily be missed, or even avoided.

BLEED FOR THEM

Paul encountered countless sufferings9)See Biblical References 2 Cor 4:8-10 ESV; 2 Cor 6:4-8 ESV; 2 Cor 11:23-33 ESV; Eph 3:13 ESV; Phil 3:10 ESV; Col 1:24 ESV which in the normal course of events would have filled his life with misery.

But as with the rest of the New Testament10)See Biblical References Matt 5:12 ESV; 2 Cor 6:10 ESV; Phil 4:4 ESV; James 1:2 ESV there’s a note of joy rising above sorrow which is the distinguishing mark of what it means to follow Jesus. why?

Much greater than the miseries of his own condition the apostle chooses to endure suffering for others that he knows will make him more like Jesus.

This is a glory far greater than any misery. In describing deliverance from a crisis that he thought would kill him Paul uses the strongest language; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.(2 Cor 1:3-4 ESV).

Deliverance from affliction by the “Father of mercies” empowered him to live out the message of mercy to multitudes.

Like Jesus, he understood that God has not saved us from the cross but through the cross. Any situation in life, no matter how naturally misery-inducing, when yielded with understanding to the Lord, can be transformed from an occasion for misery to a vehicle for God’s mercy to flow out to others.

CONCLUSION

Jesus said, “ “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” ” (Matt 5:7 ESV). This was supremely true of Christ himself whose mercy extended to the point of being deprived of mercy for us in dying that he might be immeasurably comforted for us in the resurrection from the dead.

Christ’s call on our lives is to move through the power of the Spirit from our natural passivity and languishing in misery to share into the proactive power of the blood of the cross.

The outpoured blood of Jesus was the most active thing that ever entered into the world, carrying the infinite healing energy of the loving mercy of God it has carried all before it (cf. Heb 9:14 ESV).

This blood speaks not of vengeance but of complete divine victory.  

This is the power into which we are called, to offer up our lives as living sacrifices amidst the miseries we will undergo in this world so that these woes are transformed into mercies for others.

This is a high supernatural calling that inverts the whole order of life in a fallen world.

The mercy for which we can continue to plead personally will become in Christ mercy that flows out through us for the deliverance of many. May God in his mercy grant us such Christ-shaped life.

Related:

MERCY SERIES

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 9th June 2019 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

Date 9th. June, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Rev 13:8 ESV; 1 Pet 1:18-20 ESV
2. See Biblical References Heb 3:1 ESV; Heb 5:1 ESV etc.
3. See Biblical References Isa 52:14 ESV; 1 Cor 1:18 ESV ff.
4. See Biblical References John 1:14 ESV; Rom 8:3 ESV
5. See Biblical References Heb 9:14 ESV; Heb 10:22 ESV; 1 Pet 1:2 ESV; Rev 1:5-6 ESV; Rev 5:9-10 ESV; Rev 7:14-15 ESV etc.
6. See Biblical References Heb 1:3 ESV; Heb 9:14 ESV; Heb 10:22 ESV; 1 Pet 1:2 ESV; Rev 1:5-6 ESV; Rev 5:9-10 ESV; Rev 7:14-15 ESV
7. See Biblical References 1 John 1:7 ESV ff; 1 John 2:2 ESV
8. See Biblical References Deut 24:15 ESV; Ps 9:12 ESV; Jer 46:10 ESV; James 5:4 ESV; Rev 6:10 ESV etc.
9. See Biblical References 2 Cor 4:8-10 ESV; 2 Cor 6:4-8 ESV; 2 Cor 11:23-33 ESV; Eph 3:13 ESV; Phil 3:10 ESV; Col 1:24 ESV
10. See Biblical References Matt 5:12 ESV; 2 Cor 6:10 ESV; Phil 4:4 ESV; James 1:2 ESV

Mercy 2. The Teaching and Miracles of Jesus

Luke 1:46-55, 68-79 ESV | Luke 6:32-36 ESV |  Luke 18:35-43 ESV

INTRODUCTION

Whilst the mercy of God in the Old Testament period is often downplayed by Christians, it was only the merciful patience of the Lord which preserved human life from the time of the Fall1)See Biblical References Rom 3:25 ESV; Acts 17:30 ESV until the coming of Jesus.

Having said that, no matter how powerfully God’s mercy was expressed in his saving acts for Israel and in the Law and ceremonial rituals, it is only in the humanity of Jesus that divine mercy takes on a definite, permanent and unsurpassable form.

The coming of God in human flesh means the Creator and Judge has shared the depths and sharpness of our need for mercy.

Having lived all our lives immersed in misery our true need is easily overlooked. I was reading an article on mental health in Australia the other day. The author remarked that anxiety disorders are the leading cause of death in females between 5-44, 1 in 5 women in their 30s and 40s are alcohol dependent, women between 30 and 50 are 4 times more likely to die of an accidental overdose than in a road accident, but you never hear about this, and 1 in 5 Australians experience mental illness in any one year.

For men 1 in 8 will experience serious depression during life, 1 in 5 serious anxiety, 1 in 7 depression or anxiety in any given year. Human life is ravaged by misery. We need mercy!

In Jesus, and only in Jesus, is God’s heart of mercy fully exposed.

The mercy of God is no mere kindness for kindness sake, something he does to feel good about himself, it involves a plan whereby his own life penetrates inside the power of sin and evil to wreak misery, and through atoning suffering deliver us from the guilt that oppresses us.

The work of God in Christ takes hold of a world deprived through sin, of the full glory of its being and restores it far beyond where it ever else could be.

JESUS IS THE MERCY

Jesus’ coming is emphatically announced as a mercy; first in the Song of Mary, “ “his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation… He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,” ” and then in the prophecy of Zechariah, “ “that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; vs.72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,… to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, vs.78 because of the tender mercy of our God” ”  (Luke 1:50, 54, 71-72, 77-78 ESV).  “tender mercy” is a good translation, as is, “heartfelt mercies” (The Message), for the mercy that God reveals in Christ, comes from the deepest recesses of his being where he’s affected by our wretchedness.

The mercy from God that goes out to save wasn’t restricted to the people of Israel but extended to the nations. Paul explains this was at the heart of his missionary zeal, vs.8For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, vs.9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.(Rom 15:8-9 ESV).

In the coming of Jesus, God set himself on the side of suffering people. In his merciful and assertive actions of teaching and healing Christ sided with fragile, fallen humans in a war against the entrenched forces of evil we have brought upon ourselves. I am not convinced that the Church easily understands the mercy of God.

There have been 31 reported suicide attempts amongst the asylum seekers on Manus Island since the federal election a few weeks ago?

What does that mean to God? Is the popular sentiment expressed towards ISIS brides in Syria who now want to return home, “She made her bed. Let her lie in it”, something Jesus would affirm?

In his perfect sympathy with human sufferings (Heb 4:15 ESV) Jesus brings a new and deeper revelation which challenges all our popular notions of God, “He was great not because he was above feelings, but because he could feel as no man could.” (P.T. Forsyth). Jesus never brought mercy by accusing people but by shouldering their weakness upon himself. Remember what his disciples said when they came across a blind man, “ “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” ” Jesus replied, “ “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” ” (John 9:2-3 ESV) And he proceeded to heal the man, as he always did.

APPEALS FOR MERCY

The tender mercies of God manifest in the softness of Christ drew forth from the miserable pleas for mercy,2)See Biblical References Matt 9:27 ESV; Matt 15:22 ESV; Matt 20:30-31 ESV; Mark 10:47 ESV.

A pagan mother comes, “crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” ”, Christ sets her daughter free (Matthew 15:22 ESV); a distressed father appeals, “ “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water.” ”, the boy is delivered of the demonic presence (Matt 17:15 ESV); a blind beggar cannot be restrained, “he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” ”; straightaway Christ restores his sight(Mark 10:47-48 ESV).

These were all a fulfilment of those Old Testament prophecies we looked at last week of the day when pleas for mercy would become before God and he would hear and cleanse. When Jesus told the parable of the tax collector, who, “standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’(Luke 18:13 ESV), and who went home “justified”, he was recounting what he was already seeing happening in his ministry.

TEACHING

The Lord’s teaching about mercy was itself a mercy. “ “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” ” (Matt 5:7 ESV); “ vs.35love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most-High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.vs.36Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” ” (Luke 6:35-36 ESV).

To be merciful, not powerful, knowledgeable etc., things we admire is what makes us to be like God.

Jesus’ words extolling the Father as merciful remind me of an incident in the life of Charles Spurgeon. “When I was racked…with pain, to an extreme degree, so that I could no longer bear it without crying out, I asked all to go from the room, and leave me alone; and then I had nothing I could say to God but this, ‘Thou art my Father, and I am thy child; and thou, as a Father, art tender and full of mercy. I could not bear to see my child suffer as thou makest me suffer, and if I saw him tormented as I am now, I would do what I could to help him, and put my arms under him to sustain him. Wilt thou hide thy face from me, my Father? Wilt thou still lay on a heavy hand, and not give me a smile from thy countenance?’ … so I pleaded, and I ventured to say, when I was quiet, and they came back who watched me: ‘I shall never have such pain again from this moment, for God has heard my prayer.’ I bless God that ease came and the racking pain never returned.” Such is the mercy of our Father.

Remember the point of the parable of the Good Samaritan, “vs.36Which of these three [priest, Levite, Samaritan], do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” ” asked Jesus,vs.37 He [legal expert] said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.(Luke 10:36-37 ESV).

Christ spoke God’s Word to the self-righteous religious leaders; “I desire mercy and not sacrifice3)See Biblical References Hos 6:6 ESV; Matt 9:13 ESV; Mark 12:33 ESV, “you have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.(Matt 23:23 ESV). The arrogant and self-sufficient shunned Jesus but the humble and desperate flocked around him to receive God’s mercy.

In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, about the man who when released from an impossible debt by his master refused to cancel the tiny debt of a fellow servant, the conclusion is plain scary.

vs.32Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.vs.33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ vs.34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt.vs.35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” ” (Matt 18:21-35 ESV).

MIRACLES

The mercy present in Jesus’ miracles was operating at multiple levels. But most importantly it is working inside him. At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus is “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled(John 11:33, 38 ESV).

He literally “snorts” like a war horse going into battle, in indignation, anger and agitation at the reality of the evil confronting him. Jesus is completely intolerant of the power of death to hold back the glorious purposes of God for us. he goes on to raise Lazarus from the dead.

In other places when Jesus is “moved with compassion” to heal4)See Biblical References Mark 1:41 ESV; Matt 20:34 ESV; Luke 9:22 ESV the word means the movement of the inner parts, like the intestines.

The whole life of Jesus is engaged battling and overcoming the onslaught of evil as he steps forth as a total revelation of the heart of God. In carrying the sorrow of God for the world in himself Jesus needed to be continually sustained through prayer.

As the mercy of God moves through the humanity of Christ his own humanity was being matured (cf. Heb 2:10 ESV). But something beyond teaching and miracles was needed to completely atone for human sin and restore the glory of God to miserable sinners.

Why does no-one talk like this these days? The Creator must share totally in human suffering and death.  To bring mercy to the miserable will cost God everything. This is the mercy of the cross.

CONCLUSION

In Christ, God stepped into a human condition breaking up under the weight of guilt, shame and his own threatening judgement.  Despite all empty boasts and technological optimism, we are all subject to inescapable inner bondage and anxiety about existence and its termination in death.

And as we age the demolition to which we are subject becomes increasingly unavoidable. Only the limitless mercy of God revealed in Jesus, which is Jesus, can deliver us. In Jesus is a mercy, that refused to be defeated and has triumphed for us all, his death and resurrection has triumphed over our stubborn refusal to cry out for mercy to God.

Last week I commented on how we seem to be lacking the urgency that underpins pleas for mercy found in the Old Testament. Such prayerful pleas for mercy are also characteristic of great moves of God in the Church. When Martin Luther spoke of “my boundless misery” no-one considered him a depressive or suffering from low self-esteem.

He meant that the real truth is that outside of Christ there are no places in life where a human being is free from the misery and wretchedness of the loss of the glory of God. Karl Barth puts this in a potent, raw and even brutal way unobscured by any makeover.

 “I can toss and turn on my sick bed, I can transfer or be transferred from one sick bed to another. When it [sickness] is particularly severe, I can change hospitals, or, if I prefer, arrange for private treatment. But I am always sick, and my sickness is always the same. It is the incurable misery which dominates my life and always emerges in one form or another.”

If divine mercy flows to human misery then we surely need, an insight into how the Lord sees our present spiritual state, personally, in the Church and in the nation. Then we will cry for mercy, then the Lord will touch our misery. God’s heart wants to touch our hearts through the cross, the subject of our teaching next week.

We begin to sense the limitless nature of God’s mercy when we ask the most painful questions. Which are not about us but about Christ’s great sufferings. Why was there no mercy for Jesus when he died so painfully on the cross?

Where is the mercy of the Father when his Son cries out in utter misery, “ “My God…why have you forsaken me?” ” (Mark 15:34 ESV).

The mystery of God’s mercy is only fully unveiled when we see that when God appears to be a merciless Father, no Father at all, he is most fully the mercy our misery needs.  Let’s keep asking the Lord to reveal to us how he sees our need for mercy and how he has fully answered our need in Jesus.

Related:

MERCY SERIES

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: 2nd June 2019 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

2nd June 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Rom 3:25 ESV; Acts 17:30 ESV
2. See Biblical References Matt 9:27 ESV; Matt 15:22 ESV; Matt 20:30-31 ESV; Mark 10:47 ESV
3. See Biblical References Hos 6:6 ESV; Matt 9:13 ESV; Mark 12:33 ESV
4. See Biblical References Mark 1:41 ESV; Matt 20:34 ESV; Luke 9:22 ESV

Mercy Series 1: Introduction and Old Testament

Mercy Series : Ex 25:17-22ESV | Lam 3:13-33 ESV

This series on the Mercy of God was provoked by two things. First, a follow up to my last sermon here, “Handed Over by God”. This very weighty teaching focussed on divine judgement and the desperate need we have to submit ourselves to the sovereignty of God. The second episode which provoked speaking of mercy came at our “Firestorm” prayer meeting for revival two Fridays ago. There was a prayer then based on Hebrews 12,You have come…. to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.(Hebrews 12:22, 24 ESV). Abel’s blood spoke vengeance, but Christ’s blood cries for mercy. We surely need an outpouring of the mercy of God.

Instead of trying to tackle this massively important subject in one or two weeks

I am doing four studies: 1. Background and Old Testament 2. The Teaching and Life of Jesus 3. The Blood of the Cross 4. Mercy and Judgement.

On the surface “mercy” would seem to be a very uncontroversial subject, with the biblical terminology covering overlapping words to do with pity, compassion, grace and kindness.

Though unlike pity, which focuses on a feeling, the mercy of God stirs him up to take action for the needy.

In different books of the Old Testament, the Lord is likened to a nursing mother or a father whose inner parts move him to tender mercy towards the broken state of Israel.

Overwhelmingly, the mercy of God answers to human misery1)See Biblical References Isa 49:15 ESV; Isa 63:15-16 ESV; Ps 103:13 ESV.

There’s a popular song that begins with, “Well, everyone needs compassion A love that’s never failing But let mercy fall on me”. Instinctively we all know this is true and real.

(I think that overwhelming sense of the availability of mercy was what was lacking in the now famous Israel Folau post about sinners going to hell.)

The Old Testament is permeated by testimony to the limitless mercy of God.

When Moses wanted to see the glory of the Lord, God declared himself to be, “ “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness(Ex 34:6 ESV).

In various places the declaration is made that “God is merciful2)See Biblical References Deut 4:31 ESV; Ps 116:5 ESV; Neh 9:31 ESV with mercy “great… overall he has made”3)See Biblical References Pss 119:156 ESV; Pss 145:8-9 ESV; Pss 149:5 ESV “abounding”4)See Biblical References Deut 5:10 ESV; Pss 57:10 ESV; Pss 86:5 ESV and which “endures forever”5)See Biblical References 1 Chron 16:34 ESV; 2 Chron 7:6 ESV; Ps 136 ESV; Jer 33:11 ESV.

All the Old Testament saints deeply understood mercy was at the centre of God’s being. It was because Jonah understood, “you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster(Jon 4:2 ESV) that he ran away from the Lord.

When David foolishly counted his soldiers he was given a choice of punishments, three years of famine, three months of fleeing foes or three days of plague, “Then David said…, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” ”  (2 Sam 24:14 ESV).

MERCY AND MISERY

The Old Testament is uncomfortably direct when it comes to speaking of the fractured human condition.

David admits, vs.3 “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. vs.4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat…. let the bones that you have broken rejoice(Ps 32:1-4 NLT)6)See Biblical References Ps 51:8 ESV b.

Without God’s glory humans are in fearful pain, distress, anxiety, dread and torment, possessed by sin, caught in a vast network of evil, pressured by guilt and the threat of judgement and crushed by divine wrath.

The power, penalty and pollution of sin are all pervasive7)See Biblical References Job 15:20 ESV; Prov 13:15 ESV Eccl 8:6 ESV.

The Old Testament writers were blunt about our total inability to extract ourselves from final suffering and death (e.g. Ecclesiastes). But thankfully God initiates mercy continually open to release the distress of his people.

We read something very powerful in Judges about how the Lord feels about the effect of his own punishments on his people, “he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.(Judges 10:16 ESV).

As her covenant partner, God’s heart carried Israel’s pain, “In all their distress he too was distressedIn his love and mercy, he redeemed them(Isa 63:9 ESV).

In deep mercy, he repeatedly sets bounds to his own anger. “ vs.7For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies, I will gather you.vs.8With a little wrath, I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness, I will have mercy on you,Says the Lord, your Redeemer.(Isa 54:7-8 ESV)8)See Biblical References cf. Ps 78:37 ESV ff..

Though when Israel utterly rebels the prophets warn of a time of “no mercy”9)See Biblical References Hos 1:9 ESV; Hos 2:4 ESV; Zech 1:12 ESV or forgiveness.

Knowing that the Lord must punish, Habakkuk pleads, “in wrath remember mercy(Hab 3:2 ESV). Since such pleas for mercy are so rare today we must suppose that we no longer believe we need mercy like those under the old covenant. This may have a lot to do with their longing for atonement.

ATONEMENT

The cry “be merciful to me, O God10)See Biblical References Ps 6:2 ESV; Ps 30:10 ESV; Ps 31:9 ESV; Ps 57:1 ESV often arises in the psalms with a plea for forgiveness.

After the sin with Bathsheba David desperately petitions God, vs.1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.vs.2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!(Pss. 51:1-2 ESV).  

All the prophets know God is essentially an atoning God (e.g. Ezek 16:63 ESV).

Daniel’s urgent prayer (ch.9) for release from Babylonian exile carries an indelible sense of need for the mercy of God, vs.3I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes…. vs. 9To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him…. vs.11 All Israel has transgressed your law… the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses… have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned….. vs.17 Now, therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. vs.18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations… For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. vs.19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God…” ” (Dan 9 3,9,11,17, 18-19 ESV) The only hope for those who rebel against God’s law is his undeserved mercy.

MERCY SEAT

At the heart of the divine provision for mercy in the Old Testament is the “mercy seat”. The sin of the people was atoned for through the application of sacrificial blood to the cover on the ark of the covenant on the Day of Atonement11)See Biblical References Ex 25:17, 22 ESV; Lev 16:2, 14 ESV f; cf. Heb 4:16 ESV; Heb 9:5 ESV. This was a ritual full of rich symbolism.

Over the ark and between the cherubim rested the glory of God where he met with his people12)See Biblical References Exodus 25:17, 22 ESV; Exodus 29:42 ESV; Exodus 30:36 ESV; Leviticus 16:2 ESV; Leviticus 16:14 ESV. From there, the Lord governed Israel with the ark as his footstool and the site of his worship13)See Biblical References 1 Sam 4:4 ESV; Ps 99:1, 5 ESV; 1 Chron 28:2 ESV.

Inside the ark, however, were the Ten Commandments witnessing to their failure to keep God’s Law and consequent condemnation under divine wrath.

This was especially clear in Israel’s history as these were the second copy of the tablets made after Moses broke the original copy incited by the worship of the golden calf14)See Biblical References Ex 32:19 ESV; Deut 10:5 ESV.

The sacrificial blood sprinkled on the mercy seat over the tablets of the law made it the place where God’s anger was turned away from (cf. Ps 85:1-3 ESV).

As such the mercy seat was a symbol of the merciful power of God and the site where the heavenly King gave revelation15)See Biblical References Exod 25:22 ESV; Lev 16:2 ESV; Num 7:89 ESV concerning his laws, which apart from atonement were completely unbearable.

The mercy seat was a place of forgiveness in God’s closest earthly presence and a symbol that mercy triumphs over judgement.

The mercy seat mediated between the holiness of God and sin so that a forgiven people could continue to worship Yahweh in his presence at a sanctuary cleansed from the pollution of sin (Lev 16:16 ESV).

Through the sprinkled blood on the Day of Atonement God was favourable to the vows and prayers of his people. This was a wonderful system given by God’s mercy for the conveyance of mercy. But Israel only presumed upon it.

OBSTACLES TO MERCY

Generations refused to remove the pagan “high places” which were centres of idolatrous worship16)See Biblical References 1 Ki 15:14 ESV; 2 Ki 12:3 ESV; 2 Ki 14:4 ESV; 2 Ki 15:35 ESV; though God had commanded them to be destroyed without mercy17)See Biblical References Deut 7:1-2 ESV; Deut 13:8 ESV; Deut 19:13 ESV.

To substitute pagan sacred sites for the God-designated place of holy worship in the temple was to reject the appointed means of atonement.

The love affair of the people with merciless idols, “Leave Israel alone, because she is married to idolatry.18)See Biblical References Hos 4:17 ESV; Hos 9:10 ESV, meant, the Lord had to send them into Babylonian exile far away from priest; temple and land19)See Biblical References Isa 47:6 ESV; Jer 13:14 ESV; Jer 21:7 ESV; Zech 1:12 ESV. The divine strategy is always to pour out wrath, not to annihilate, but so mercy might be remembered by the people and called forth by their pleas to the ever-open heart of God.

In the end, the tender-hearted mercy of God will triumph over his “strange and alien” work of judgement (Isa 28:21 ESV). In the midst of a Jerusalem destroyed by the Babylonians Lamentations pronounces; vs.22The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; vs.23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23 ESV).

So the faithful covenant God prophesied a return from exile, “ “With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” ” (Jer 31:9 ESV). God is a merciful Father whose mercies are without limit.

ESCHATOLOGICAL MERCY

The prophets, possessed with a knowledge that “God delights in mercy” and forgiveness (Mic 7:18-19 ESV) predicted a time when the cycle of rebellion and grace would end 20)See Biblical References Isa 14:1 ESV; Isa 49:13 ESV; Isa 54:7 ESV; Jer 12:15 ESV; Jer 33:26 ESV; Ezek 39:25 ESV; Zech 1:16 ESV, a time of Final mercy.

“ “And I will pour out …a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn….On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.And in that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land…And also I will remove from the land…the spirit of uncleanness.(Zech 12:10, 13:1-2 ESV).

Everything that had ever been symbolised by the cleansing and atoning rituals of the mercy seat would be finally true for the people of God. This was great hope, a hope which we know has been fully realised in Jesus.

CONCLUSION

The psalmists speak unapologetically about their great need for mercy, “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.(Psalm 123:2 ESV), vs.2Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled…. (Pss 6:2 ESV) vs.9 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; My eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body!(Pss 31:9 ESV).

This is clear in the Old Testament, but do we realise that God’s people today have been struck by his justice so we might be moved to appeal for mercy. There is a gift of distress that earnestly entreats the divine favour (Hos 5:15 ESV).

P.T. Forsyth challenges us, “With us, mercy belongs to our spare time, with God it is his business…. The mercy of God is no near and so great that we often cannot see it.” (P.T. Forsyth).

Many Christians have never really felt the majesty of God’s mercy. Since the mercy of God is felt most acutely in his treatment of sin the Church needs a new revelation of forgiveness. Here is one of my favourite liturgical prayers,

“O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. ~ Collect for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost

Perhaps we should ask the Lord to speak to us about our how high places, family, finances, sport, prosperity, church, leisure, ministry…. and to ask him how he feels about them. Perhaps he will share the burden of his heart for the state of our hearts so that moved by his grief we might call out for his mercy.

Related:

MERCY SERIES

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 26th May 2019 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

Date 26th. May, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Isa 49:15 ESV; Isa 63:15-16 ESV; Ps 103:13 ESV
2. See Biblical References Deut 4:31 ESV; Ps 116:5 ESV; Neh 9:31 ESV
3. See Biblical References Pss 119:156 ESV; Pss 145:8-9 ESV; Pss 149:5 ESV
4. See Biblical References Deut 5:10 ESV; Pss 57:10 ESV; Pss 86:5 ESV
5. See Biblical References 1 Chron 16:34 ESV; 2 Chron 7:6 ESV; Ps 136 ESV; Jer 33:11 ESV
6. See Biblical References Ps 51:8 ESV b
7. See Biblical References Job 15:20 ESV; Prov 13:15 ESV Eccl 8:6 ESV
8. See Biblical References cf. Ps 78:37 ESV ff.
9. See Biblical References Hos 1:9 ESV; Hos 2:4 ESV; Zech 1:12 ESV
10. See Biblical References Ps 6:2 ESV; Ps 30:10 ESV; Ps 31:9 ESV; Ps 57:1 ESV
11. See Biblical References Ex 25:17, 22 ESV; Lev 16:2, 14 ESV f; cf. Heb 4:16 ESV; Heb 9:5 ESV
12. See Biblical References Exodus 25:17, 22 ESV; Exodus 29:42 ESV; Exodus 30:36 ESV; Leviticus 16:2 ESV; Leviticus 16:14 ESV
13. See Biblical References 1 Sam 4:4 ESV; Ps 99:1, 5 ESV; 1 Chron 28:2 ESV
14. See Biblical References Ex 32:19 ESV; Deut 10:5 ESV
15. See Biblical References Exod 25:22 ESV; Lev 16:2 ESV; Num 7:89 ESV
16. See Biblical References 1 Ki 15:14 ESV; 2 Ki 12:3 ESV; 2 Ki 14:4 ESV; 2 Ki 15:35 ESV
17. See Biblical References Deut 7:1-2 ESV; Deut 13:8 ESV; Deut 19:13 ESV
18. See Biblical References Hos 4:17 ESV; Hos 9:10 ESV
19. See Biblical References Isa 47:6 ESV; Jer 13:14 ESV; Jer 21:7 ESV; Zech 1:12 ESV
20. See Biblical References Isa 14:1 ESV; Isa 49:13 ESV; Isa 54:7 ESV; Jer 12:15 ESV; Jer 33:26 ESV; Ezek 39:25 ESV; Zech 1:16 ESV

Fear of God: Defining issues. Discerning good and evil. 2019 Implications for Voting.

The Fear-of-God builds up confidence and makes a world safe for your children. Prov 14:26 MSG

Which policies may we put into the category of “unsafe” for our children and what defines this choosing? Which policies show a lack of respect for and “fear” of God? We can generalise from the previous article #4 Fear of God: God’s Creation is a Safe Foundation that rebellion against God inevitably and crucially involves rebellion against his Creation which underpins so much of ethics and morality.

We may also generalise from the lessons of history and the underpinnings of Western Civilisation as shown for instance in the:

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS 

eng-Universal_Declaration_Human_Rights

INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS.

volume-999-i-14668-english

PRINCIPLE 1. There are zero choices other than save or kill. Saving the mother’s life is not a factor in deciding yes/no as labour can be induced without deliberately choosing to kill the baby first. See the Dublin Declaration and many of the submissions by Medicine with Morality.

PRINCIPLE 2. Legal compelling of participation in evil once the evil itself has been legalised – one evil on top of another.

As we have seen with Section 8 of the Victorian Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 doctors can be compelled by law to participate in the abortion process either by performing it or by referral to a doctor who will perform an abortion. In this, permission has become a compulsion.

Another example of this is the proposed law to criminalise so-called “conversion therapy” assisting a person who wants to change sexual orientation. Therapists (no definition yet so it includes doctors who may be involved in counselling) are only permitted to reinforce the person’s present orientation, not assist in variation. Clearly such should be left to the ethics of the various therapist’s organisations and, of course (!) the patient/client’s wishes. How dare a government say it is illegal for someone to seek counselling for change.

A further example of this compelling is the charging of parents who will not affirm their child’s wish to transgender. Also, see what is child abuse?

(By the way, there is no “need” to follow any of these links unless you wish more info.)

PRINCIPLE 3. Crushing by the law of the freedom to discuss and debate the issues concerned by “anti-discrimination”, “religious vilification” and “hate speech” legislation. Labor wants to further expand the limitations on freedom of speech.

PRINCIPLE 4. Educational indoctrination by the state of “gender fluidity”; acceptance of homosexuality as a valid lifestyle with implied experimentation to find out; choices re virginity (at least two); and access to pornographic and sadomasochistic sites with instructions how to hide from parents. Labour policy even includes funding for “gender affirming” treatments including chemical castration and mutilating sex-change surgery such as bilateral mastectomy. As a result of such ideology, we are now seeing a significant rise in the number of children presenting with gender confusion.

PRINCIPLE 5. The further erosion of parental values by the compulsion (yet again!) of private schools – that are chosen for their values – to accept teachers that do not accept those values.

I submit all the above are very clear choices influencing voting, a choice between right and wrong, good and evil, all influencing a world safe for our children.

PRINCIPLE 6. A little less clear as it may involve Parental vs. Government responsibilities are issues where the government could ensure a safe place for our children, for instance, clean-feed internet as a default that needs overriding.

Other issues that will influence voting are those that involve the “how” rather than the “yes/no” (rightness /wrongness) of the issue and include rightly concerning issues and justice

Indigenous health, housing and education

Refugee intake particularly for peoples suffering religious persecution and genocidal threat

The management of asylum seekers entering illegally

World nutrition and poverty.

While the needs may be clear there is disagreement as to their resolution and the quantity of relief. The relief of world poverty can be through non-government aid organisations or government (I prefer the former and its methods of distribution) and there are competing strategies to protect our own industries and future vs development of the nation in poverty. Christian mission and aid agencies have been at the forefront of relief and development.

Less clear however is the issue of “climate change” despite it being made into a critical electioneering issue. Yes, of course, emissions should be reduced and forests conserved. But there is appropriate disagreement as to the severity and impact of the problem and its causes, whether suggested methods of control will be effective, and will they have other negative effects and international implications that affect our future economy and industry. As with other contentious issues, people who wish to debate the current mantra are simply dismissed as “climate deniers”.

I applaud all who work for the marginalised in and out of our country and all who work as stewards of creation. I applaud efforts to have good enshrined in party platforms. These matters however with their varying solutions pale in comparison to the former principles when it comes to the ballot box. They involve the “how” rather than the “yes/no”.

.

Remembering, with respect to a world safe for your children, the words of Jesus “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea(Matt 18:6 ESV).

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. (Psalm 2:10 NIV).

The Fear-of-God

builds up

confidence,

and makes a world

safe for your children.

Proverbs 14:26 MSG

The Fear-of-God: The Fear-of-God and the Aussie “fair go”.

To be given a “fair crack o’the whip” – to be given a chance; to have a fair go – has been a part of our national identity and heritage and is now, once again, being promoted as a political slogan.

What does it mean and which policies should we regard as being important for a fair go? Which “fair entitlements” are currently under threat.

What do we want and cherish most?

A fair wage for a fair day’s work? Equal opportunity for education?

We tend to take for granted the right to have food in our tummy and clothes and personal safety. Yes, all these things are important and we know that some miss out, even in this “the lucky country”.

Freedom to vote in secret. Perhaps at a more basic level, freedom to barrack loudly for your favourite footy team or player without fear of being labelled.

So yes, freedom to be, freedom to live. Freedom to speak, to believe, to think, to debate, to choose, to express an opinion.

Further, freedom from class distinction, freedom to do well with minimal interference from government intervention or micro-management or taxes crippling enterprise.

In summary, I suggest, the Aussie “fair go” means the freedom to

express our beliefs and values

■ bring up our children in families that facilitate the sharing of these beliefs and values

■ join together with like-minded people who share these beliefs and values in the mutual association

■ set up educational facilities consistent with these beliefs and values and the liberty to exclude influences that are contrary

■ state these liberties without fear of accusation of intolerance or hate-speech

THESE FREEDOMS SHOULD SOUND FAMILIAR TO ALL WITH EVEN THE SLIGHTEST SMATTERING OF NECESSARY HISTORY.

1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

ARTICLE 18. 

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

ARTICLE 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

ARTICLE 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association


These values, these freedoms are at risk with many of the policies being promoted at this election time – paradoxically by those shouting loudest about the fair go.

The Fear-of-God builds up confidence and makes a world safe for your children.

Proverbs 14:26 The Message

ARTICLE 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

The Fear-of-God: God’s Creation is a Safe Foundation. by Lachlan Dunjey. May 8, 2019

We should have a proper sense of wonder, awe and respect for God’s creation.

The prophet Isaiah said it well in Chapter 40

Rebellion against God inevitably and crucially involves rebellion against his Creation which underpins so much of ethics and morality. It is foundational.

To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:25,26 ESV

God’s Creation Order.

Man created in the Image of God “let us make man in our image”

All human life has intrinsic value in all states of dependence and disability from fertilisation to life’s natural end.

It is attacked through abortion; euthanasia; physician-assisted suicide; destructive embryo research; embryo de-selection and eugenics including sex selection and Down Syndrome genocide; babies accidentally born alive after abortion procedure and left to die; after-birth abortion; cloning, chimeras and cyborgs.

Ultimately to control all reproductive and life processes, to create life and design it according to our own wishes, “cleansing” the human race for the future and in the meantime eliminating all that is deemed less than perfect.

Personal autonomy to the exclusion of any God influence.

Eden and the Tower of Babel revisited.

To be free of the Creator God, to render Him unnecessary and be our own gods. We will be in control of our own lives and will choose how and when to die and choose the same for others.

Terrorism.

Not putting the same value on human life, eliminating whole communities by conquest and genocidal killing with Christians as prime targets.

Further pushed: From within by the atheistic lobby and “God-haters”; atheistic or naïve genetic experimenters; leftist social engineers.

Remember: permission becomes a compulsion. Apart from the destruction of social order also at threat is liberty of conscience and discrimination in employment.

The creation of Masculinity and Femininity (“bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh”)

So much more than having physical intercourse but nevertheless includes the Creation Mandate to “Be fruitful and multiply”.

It is attacked through: Gender fluidity and transgenders; be whatever sex you like – you are in charge of your destiny – you are your own god. The rebellion against God’s design of “natural” intercourse.

Pushed by: The gay lobby, leftist social engineers and the PC brigade

Remember: permission becomes a compulsion.

Apart from the destruction of social order also at threat is liberty of speech, of belief and to teach our children.

Further specific attacks through public education e.g. Safe Schools Coalition Australia, “Respectful Relationships” and now re-badged yet again as “Inclusive Education” encouraging to declare sexual preferences early leading to identity confusion and also experimentation in sexuality.

Loss of liberty to speak about the dangers of these lifestyles and discrimination in employment and business.

Marriage as a specific subset of sexuality and a Creation Mandate; “one flesh”; “for this reason shall a man cleave to his wife”

It is attacked through: The destruction of marriage as an institution, pushing “marriage” and “family” as we choose and then discarding it as a useless concept with complete sexual freedom.

The decline of the West is achieved by intrinsic moral decay and by declining birth rate to demographic winter

Pushed by: the gay lobby, leftist social engineers and PC brigade

Remember: permission becomes a compulsion.

Apart from the destruction of social order also at threat is liberty of speech, of belief and to teach our children, even around the kitchen tableLoss of liberty to speak about the dangers to society and discrimination in employment and business ultimately also threatening parenthood and, in particular, Christian parenthood. The attacks are unprecedented.

Stewards of Creation 

The animal kingdom and the earth – bring order, subdue, care for, work.  Inclusive of a Sabbath rest – and God saw that it was good, and rested.

It is attacked through: Failure and neglect leading to ecological disaster; misdirected economics with chemical or radio-nuclear contamination and de-forestation; deliberate destruction through the war with the possibility of nuclear disaster.

We ignore the principle of a Sabbath rest to our peril.

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Psalm 2:10 NIV.

What did Jesus say?  A direct application for today.

Firstly, Jesus affirmed the creation story. Matt 19:4-6 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So, they are no longer two, but one flesh.

The warfare against heteronormativity – male and female – is an unprecedented rebellion against God and His Creation.

We must preach and teach the fundamentals of creation and their application – male and female (no spectrum), its complementarity as the ordinance of marriage and the Imago Dei – to be created in the image of God.

Secondly, Jesus explained and affirmed the command (Luke 10:27) to love our neighbour. Loving our neighbour and our neighbour’s children means not only caring for them in present calamity but also warning against approaching calamity (e.g. a flash flood) or helping to protect their future from encroaching evil – in this instance state mandated sexual indoctrination.

Loving our neighbour is not optional.  “Hate evil and love good, then work it out in the public square” (Amos 5:15 Msg)

Thirdly, Jesus said whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt 18:6).

Jesus’ condemnation re leading children into sin is quite specific as is its judgment. Other evils that concern us do not merit the same specific judgment. May this truth be reflected in our thinking and our living.

If we, as informed Christians, support politicians and educators whose firm commitment is sexual confusion by indoctrination of our children, then we too are guilty of allowing our little ones to be led into sin.

The Fear-of-God

builds up

confidence,

and makes a world

safe for your children.

Proverbs 14:26 The Message

Sometimes you just gently teach

Sometimes you preach with invitation

Sometimes you confront and challenge

Sometimes you have to condemn

Sometimes you have to drive the money-changers out of the temple

Sometimes you have to walk with Christ to Calvary.

by Lachlan Dunjey. May 8, 2019

Church Leaders to exercise leadership Where was the Christian Vote in the Federal Election of 2010? by Lachlan Dunjey.

Below is a paper of 16 September 2010.

I am saddened and sometimes overwhelmed by the anti-God philosophies of our day and by the failure (still) of many Church “leaders” to give leadership on the issues that really matter, giving essential information and guidance on how not to support the passage of evil into law.

Yes, it is more than just a battle for logic,

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

Lord, in Your mercy and grace, may the epitaph of September 2010 not be true of May 2019.

 

Did Church leaders fail to have a voice?

Did Church Pastors fail to give their people the necessary information?


Christianvalues.org.au
Checklists Current-Elections 2019


Lachlan, you were pretty outspoken prior to the election regarding what you saw as Christian issues in voting – do you think you were heard?

The few times I actually had the face-to-face opportunity in speaking at meetings, yes – but there were too few of those opportunities.

Is it a problem for you to be outspoken?

Yes, as a medical practitioner and a senior member of our society I have an obligation to be respectful of others and their opinions. Most importantly I must not bring dishonour to my Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you find yourself at odds with other Christian leaders?

Yes, I find myself at odds with what is said and what is not said.

Can you succinctly define those matters?

Firstly I don’t think the big issues are really understood by many, secondly, they get submerged in a lot of fairy floss or, thirdly, they don’t get said at all – these latter two for fear of offending people or for fear of being perceived as too radical and therefore not heard.

What do you mean by fairy floss?

I don’t mean it to be disparaging but I mean issues on which all Christians should be agreed as matters of concern even though there may be different opinions on how these should be addressed – concern for refugees, our place in international conflicts, third-world poverty, homelessness, overseas aid e.g. should this be provided by government or by private giving through international aid organisations?

Our vote may be split on how to tackle these matters but in my view, they are not the big defining issues. Biological sustainability and climate change are also matters of concern and bring out differences in how they should be addressed but they also are not big defining issues.

If these matters only are discussed and the really big issues are missed out then I consider we have failed.

So how do you define a “defining issue”?

Defining issues are wrongs actually brought into being by government introduced legislation as opposed to matters occurring or happening in our world.

With respect to things that are happening, we may argue about contributory negligence and about what might be required in legislation to rectify that and also to prevent it. But what we cannot argue about is when governments actually legislate to permit wrong.

What we cannot argue about is when governments legislate to permit evil. And especially what we cannot argue about is when governments legislate to compel evil.

Whoa! “Permitting evil” and “compelling evil” – that’s heavy stuff. How can you justify this language?

The law in Victoria regrettably illustrates this. In Victoria we have unrestricted abortion right through to term by any method which for mid-trimester abortion may mean simply pulling the baby apart with forceps – carefully reassembling it later to make sure bits are not missing – and for very late abortion may mean delivering it as a breach and then puncturing the base of the skull and sucking the brain out so as to collapse the skull thus allowing delivery of the head through an incompletely dilated cervix, and all of this without any consideration of anaesthesia for the baby.

As there are no restrictions for reason there is effectively state approval of eugenic selection of anything regarded as less than perfect through to birth, including readily correctable abnormalities such as cleft lip.

And – worse still – in Victoria, we have the legal compulsion of doctors to act against their conscience.

Doctors are compelled to refer to a doctor they know will support a request for an abortion.

Whoa again – that’s too much to take in!

Yes, agreed. It seems that the general public in Victoria have no idea what their government has done or have failed to realise its significance. But tragically it’s real. Do you understand?

But there must be some checks and balances surely?

Up to 24 weeks it only requires the mother’s request and a doctor to do it. Over 24 weeks it only requires one doctor in addition to the abortionist to agree with the mother. And if the doctor does not agree then he or she has to find a doctor who will.

Surely that cannot be?

One would think not but written into the legislation is the Section 8 provision to force doctors – even when such is against their deeply held convictions and conscience – to refer for abortion when asked by a patient. It is the first time in the Western world since Hitler’s Germany that doctors have been forced by government legislation to participate in evil. Now it is one thing to pass a law that permits evil but it is something more to pass a law that compels evil.

How come there wasn’t a huge amount of protest – at least from Doctors?

Oh, there was – from the AMA and from many groups. The overruling of conscience provision even flies in the face of Victoria’s own Charter of Rights and Responsibilities – all of this got ignored.

But how could this be?

It is a sad but inescapable fact that many MPs are elected with specific agendas to implement regardless of any logical argument that may be subsequently be mounted against those agendas. Victorian abortion legislation owes much to the influence of Emily’s List.

OK, tell me about Emily’s List.

Just under 60% of female Labor MPs nationwide are Emily’s List members. Founded in 1996, Emily’s List aim was to get Labor women into parliament and from its beginning, it was to be pro-choice.

This extremely pro-autonomy (seemingly at the expense of any consequences to society), pro-choice (read pro-abortion), the pro-euthanasia organisation boasts of the great victory of the abortion legislation “free of harassment”. The legislation was introduced by MLC Candy Broad, one of the founders of Emily’s List.

So what’s the connection between all this and the recent federal election?

Our newly elected PM Julia Gillard is also a founder of Emily’s List and wrote its constitution.

Oh! Would you like to enlarge on the significance of that?

The connection is inescapable. She is a believer in all that Emily’s List stands for and presumably in what it has achieved. If not, then she could easily have distanced herself from what it stands for and has achieved. To my knowledge, she has not.

And so, this is a defining issue for you?

Yes. And the majority of Church leaders have failed to get to grips with this as an issue or have been too reticent for fear of being seen as disrespectful.

But there is a time to grapple with the truth and declare it and challenge those who espouse the ideals of such as Emily’s List – a small issue in the eyes of some but immensely significant in terms of what I call straight-out good and evil and if you don’t like those terms then I challenge you to come up with another name for what has taken place in Victoria.

Does that mean that Julia Gillard can’t be a good PM?

No, it doesn’t. Although I would much rather have a PM who believes in traditional marriage as the bedrock of society and who believes there is a God, she has the potential to hold things together to actually work for the good of the nation.

We need to pray for her and all the disparate factions to this end and that the factions that would like to implement some of the bad – mostly social issues – will take a backseat and not make things difficult for her.

I do have some fears once the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate – and I do not think enough has been said by Christian leaders about the bad side of the Greens.

So you’re still upset by Christian leaders not having said enough before the election?

Yes, I am. There’s a time to pussy-foot around and “be nice” and there’s a time to confront and challenge and tell the truth.

Now I don’t mean to condemn my fellow workers in Family Voice Australia or Saltshakers or Right to Life or the people who put together the Christian Values Check List or other outspoken individuals and bodies – I mean denominational leaders and individual pastors of congregations.

We all have an obligation, to tell the truth. Pastors should all have some prophetic role in telling truth – not telling their parishioners who to vote for but defining evil brought about by the government. I challenge anyone to call what has taken place in Victoria anything else but evil.

Now I know you have been very active in the Christian Democratic Party and have also stood for election four times now. How does this fit with what you have been saying?

I really don’t want to detract from anything I have already said but voting intelligently is a Christian responsibility. It is not optional.

We are not confessing Christ if we vote irresponsibly. I will not tell people who to vote for – although I obviously wish they would trust me and the party I work with – I do want people to use their vote intelligently.

I want them to understand that if they put their minor party of preference first and major party second their vote will flow on at full value if the minor party does not win. It is so simple but people still do not understand – I think out of fear of losing their vote.

I still have people telling me they voted for me yet put me down in second place. In the illustration, I only need to remind you that if just 91 Liberal voters who put me as number two in 2005 had instead put me as number one I would still be in state parliament. 

OK, God was in charge of that process as a lot of things have taken place that would otherwise not have been possible but it’s a good example of the importance of knowing how to vote. Only 91 supporters who understood the system…

And are you saying that church leaders and pastors have a role in this too?

Yes. I consider this to be a part of Christian living, Christian behaviour and confessing Christ – as much as intelligent and ethical behaviour in business or driving responsibly, eating responsibly or whatever.

Such behaviour needs to be taught and I consider it needs to be taught from the pulpit. We have shied away from such teaching over the last few decades.

But pastors will disagree, won’t they?

They won’t like me telling them but when will they inform?

OK, at the moment we have a PM whose party in 2009 removed the definition of marriage as being between male and female from Labor Party policy, who herself has not married but lives in a de-facto relationship, who obviously prefers “counsellors” in schools to chaplains, and who believes in the values of Emily’s List.

Wasn’t this enough to inform? But what if we had been faced with the possibility of a PM who said they would bring in same-sex marriage, compulsory euthanasia for certain conditions and ultimately age, physician-assisted suicide, restrict palliative care drugs and hospice funding as medical insurance bodies have done in Oregon, limit benefits for children of “genetic outlaws” who have refused to abort their babies when significant abnormality has been shown – would pastors then define what is good and what is evil and then teach their people how to vote in a manner befitting Christian responsibility?

Or would they still be silent, like the church in Germany?

Wow! So what are you going to do now?

I have known for 20 years that I had another task to do that would occupy the rest of my life and that I was marking time so to speak with three very important matters in the ninety’s and 2000-01. 

What I am doing now in speaking publically and challenging, first of all, God’s people, I will be doing until God informs me otherwise.

Author: by Dr Lachlan Dunjey.  Article Title: Where was the Christian Vote in the Federal Election? Original Posting Date: 16 September 2010 Original Source URL: chooselifeaustralia.org.au 

Sometimes you just gently teach

Sometimes you preach with invitation

Sometimes you confront and challenge

Sometimes you have to condemn

Sometimes you have to drive the money-changers out of the temple

Sometimes you have to walk with Christ to Calvary.