Christ Only

Fifth of a series of sermons on Reformation themes

READINGS:

Isaiah 9:1-7
Psalm 110: 1-7

Acts 4:1-12
John 14:1-6

INTRODUCTION                                     

If you had been born in Europe in 1500 you would have been immersed into a religious culture whose intensity we find difficult to imagine. The sacramental system covered your life span from baptism in infancy to the last rites in death. The priest would have blessed you at your first haircut, and if you were a boy at your first shave and so on.

An elaborate scheme of pilgrimages, indulgences, penances, tithes and masses was a part of everyday life and when you were in some need you would sought a saint to intercede on your behalf to God e.g. St Christopher for safe travel. You certainly would have honoured Mary as the Mother of God. Unless you were a part of the top 10% of society the mass and Bible in Latin were incomprehensible and you would have simply taken the word of the Church on spiritual matters.

If you visited of the great cathedrals their architecture would have confirmed your heart conviction that God was very far away and the best you could hope for was a quick deliverance from purgatory if you did regular penitence and good works.

This vast powerful and controlling religious enterprise was built on one great heresy; that Jesus could not be personally and directly known as the Way to the Father.

Then in 1517 something happened that would bring indescribable freedom to the consciences of millions.

When Luther began to testify:

The cross alone is our theology he initiated a rediscovery of the gospel that

Christ alonesaves us.

Luther

This gospel of the supremacy, centrality and all sufficiency of the person of Jesus burst like a bombshell on Europe. All the religious complexities of the day were made absolutely secondary or rendered useless. The foundational power of the Protestant Reformation was its undeviating Christ-centredness.

REFORMATION

The Swiss reformer Zwingli realised that the Catholic Church’s emphasis on good works was a dreadful burden and testified,

Christ is the only way of salvation of all who were, are now, or shall be.

Zwingli

Expounding on union with Christ Calvin states,

“our salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ (Acts 4:12).

Calvin Institutes II. 16.19

Calvin… We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else.  [{If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is ‘of him’ (1 Cor 1:30).  If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing.}]

 If we seek  strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth… If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross (Gal 3:13); if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection… [{In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him,}] let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.’

“[{Those who presume to say that every person shall be saved by the rule of life, religion or sect that he professes, provided he makes diligent efforts to live by that rule and the light of nature, must be regarded as accursed. For}] holy Scripture declares to us that it is only in the name of Jesus Christ that men must be saved.”

In its emphasis on Christ as the only Way the Reformation was being faithful to what Jesus said about himself.

JESUS

In his Farewell speech in John’s Gospel (ch.14-17) Jesus explained to his disciples that he was going to leave them and return to the Father, “that where I am you might be also” (John 14:3). This confused the disciples so Thomas replied to Jesus, ““Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”” (John 14:5); Jesus responds; ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”” (John 14:6).

Knowing he was the full and final expression of the life of God Jesus went on to say to his disciples, ““Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”” (v.9). He did not point to his teachings as the Way, like Buddha did, or to a book as the Word of God, as Mohammed did of the Koran, nor to his example of leading a good life as the way to God, like liberal Christianity does, he points to himself as a person as the way to God.

The writer Thomas à Kempis tried to expound what Jesus was saying in his Farewell speech by speaking as the voice of Christ;

Without the Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no living. I am the Way which you must follow, the Truth which you must believe, the Life for which you must hope. I am the Way unchangeable, the Truth infallible, the Life unending. I am the Way that is straight, the supreme Truth, the Life that is true, the blessed, the Life everlasting. If you abide in My Way you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free, and you shall attain life everlasting.

Imitation of Christ Book 3, ch. 56

Archbishop Michael Ramsey memorably said, ““God is Christlike and in him is no un-Christlikeness at all.”. Since God is completely Christlike this means there is no eternal life outside of Jesus; this is the gospel of the apostles.

APOSTLES

Confronted by the Jewish leaders for healing a man in the name of Jesus Peter boldly testifies; “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men and women by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12). Anyone and everyone may come to God, but there is but one point of access, only one who brings the Most High down to our level, Christ (Luke 1:35).

The relationship between God and humanity is like an hourglass; God being the top chamber and humanity the bottom one.

The two chambers of the hourglass meet at a single narrow point and this is the only passageway between them. Being God in human form Christ is the central point of the hourglass.

There is no other saving point of contact between God and humanity other than Jesus (von Balthasar).

The Reformation rediscovery of the person of Christ as the exclusive hinge point and sole mediator of salvation is as much needed today as it was 500 years ago.

NO WAYS TO THE WAY 

One contemporary challenge to the gospel is called religious pluralism. God willing, Donna and I will be in Myanmar next month, a country where 88% of the population are devout Buddhists.

Can Buddhists get to heaven without hearing about Jesus and believing his gospel?

Can people be saved through trusting in the teaching of the Koran? Or saved just by being “good people”?

Is the spiritual quest of humanity like climbing a great mountain whose peak is the presence of God?

The mountain has many sides but in the end we will all meet together at the summit. This lovely image completely contradicts Jesus’ words about his own identity; ““No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”” (John 3:13). Anyone who believes there are many ways to God is denying that Jesus is the Son of God and cannot explain why the needed to die on the cross. Religious pluralism always robs people of the passion to preach the gospel.

But there are far more common ways in which the “Christ Only” rediscovery of the Reformation has been weakened. Very many Christians live like there is a way to the Way: Baptists are tempted to think understanding the Bible and praying are ‘ways to the Way’; Pentecostals often treat speaking in tongues and powerful spiritual experiences as ‘ways to the Way’, many Catholics are more devoted to the sacraments than they are to a personal relationship with Christ.

Traditional Anglicans are likely to think that being a good person is their ‘way to the Way’. From a slightly different angle people from all spiritual traditions are tempted to treat gifted charismatic church leaders as mediating the grace of God. There is however no way to the Way. Countless times I have found myself dealing with folk suffering from spiritual disappointment, depression, burn out and confusion because they have put their trust and energy into some way other than the Christ the Way.

HEAVEN OR JESUS?

If you are still confused about the main point of this sermon let me try to make things clearer with an illustration. On Thursday this week Donna had a visit at home from a nurse who came to take a blood sample. Afterwards she was feeling emotionally hurt because this lady had put a needle into here multiple times but had shown “no interest in her as a person”. (Does everyone understand what I mean by “being interested in her as a person”?)

Those who are truly interested in knowing Jesus as a person will not make their first focus his teaching, his miracles or his good life, they know who Jesus is as a Person is fully revealed in his suffering for us at the cross. Knowing that the final revelation of the character of God comes through the crucifixion Paul taught, vs.5There is one God and one Mediator between God and humanity—the human, Christ Jesus, vs.6 who gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.” (1 Tim 2:5-6). The cross was Jesus Way to heaven, but most people don’t want to know this Jesus.

People want to get to heaven/paradise/nirvana as a final state of blessedness free from all strife and suffering but they show little or no interest in Jesus as a person. This is understandable for folk from other faiths but what about professing Christians?

A friend of mine was disturbed when some members of his home group admitted that they didn’t think much about or find the thought of eternity interesting or inspiring.

This is what I replied to him; “Christians long for heaven because there we will see Jesus face to face and become just like him 1 Cor 13:12; 1 John 3:2….seeing just how wonderful Christ is so we become “lost in wonder love and praise.””

Living forever without Jesus would not be heaven it would be hell. Christ is not a means by which after death we are reunited with lost loved ones or released from the agonies of this world; heaven is the place where fully and finally Jesus will share with those who are interested in him as a person his own relationship with his Father.

CONCLUSION

I had a demanding time last Monday. I had three very draining appointments with people who needed to deal with deep and sinful issues in their lives. Later in the day I went down by the river to pray and I had such a deep longing in my heart just to be with Jesus.

Do you want to be with Jesus?

Do you know Jesus personally?

Have you been freed from trying to find a way to the Way?

Have you experienced the revolutionary power of the gospel that to be saved and to keep on being saved (Rom 1:16-17; 1 Cor 1:18) all you need to do is to truly believe what Christ said;

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

John 14:6

Let us pray.


MESSAGE DELIVERED: 15th October, 2017 | St Mark’s Bassendean

Author: Dr. John Yates


MESSAGE AUDIO PODCAST:   


Related Link: Nil

The Final Romance, (SSM) debate.

INTRODUCTION

“love is love”, “same love” or “love wins”

The slogans “love is love”, “same love” or “love wins” used by the Yes side in the same-sex marriage (SSM) debate seem naturally irresistible. Surely “gay marriage (should be seen) as an expression not of desire but of love.” (Jamie Oliver). Surely any two people who love one another should be able to marry.

This “love-centred” form of persuasion is powerfully in tune with the rhythm and rights of our times; but this is not my interest (1 Cor 5:9-13). What deeply disappoints me is the spiritually impoverished level of discourse within the Church that reveals how little she enjoys intimacy with Christ her Groom (John 3:29). Multiple statements by Christians opposing SSM lean heavily on creation based arguments from Genesis and the natural order of things.

These arguments are valid, but they are not distinctly Christian and as such are inadequate to stem the surging tide of sexually immorality amongst us. New creation arguments concerning heterosexual marriage depend upon the people of God rediscovering their end-time identity (Gal 6:15); in this respect the book of Revelation is the inspirational document for our times. Revelation speaks most profoundly of marriage as a new covenant mystery and is the exposé of the ultimate love story, Christ and the Church, which makes all other love stories possible.

THE LAST IS FIRST

The plan of God in scripture is not to be read in terms of linear time. Since Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” we should view the way God begins things through how he ends things (Rev 13:8; cf. 1 Pet1:20). Paul’s prophetic exposition of Genesis, “vs.31Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.vs.32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Eph 5:31-32), teaches that the marriage of Adam and Eve was modelled on that between Christ and the Church.

The foundational wife/ counterpart is not Eve, but the Church, for the foundational husband is not Adam but Christ (1 Cor 15:45).

The essential marriage is not those which end in death, but the eternal marriage of heaven.

The union of a man and a woman in marriage is so profound because it draws its reality from the perfect Last Marriage which from eternity was God’s ultimate intention (cf. Eph 1:4).

All human marriages, whether folk are aware of it or not, are united in the will of God to the great “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:6-10). From the beginning “God has joined together” male and female in a unique covenant bond that is tied to his End goal of the wedding of his Son (Matt 19:4-6).

Everyday marriages exist through and for this Last Marriage (Col 1:16).

PREPARATION

We are familiar with the fact that Christ is working on the church “to present her to himself” spotless and beautiful (Eph 5:25-27).

But reading Revelation as a romance discloses that Christ the Lamb has perfectly prepared himself for his wedding through slaughter and resurrection (5:6). His blood and righteousness poured out for us is the price he paid to purchase his Bride (1 Sam 18:35; Acts 20:28).

Swept off her feet by “the revelation of Jesus Christ” as her all worthy glorious sacrificial Husband (Rev 1:1; 5:9-12) the Bride willingly “makes herself ready” for her wedding Day (Rev 19:7). She “washes her robes and makes them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14). The glowing wedding apparel of the “righteous deeds of the saints” is their identification with the sacrificial way of the Lamb by a readiness to lay down life as a testimony for his glory (Rev 12:11; Rev 19:8).

The sacrificial love of the saints for their Groom is the way in which the perverted eroticism of the Harlot is exposed (Rev 17:1-6; Rev 18:24; Rev 19:2). The Great Wedding is the prophetic climax of salvation history and the reason why God created the world (Rev 21:9ff.). At last the Lamb of God has a counterpart worthy to be his companion forever to the glory of God (cf. Gen 2:18). God’s plan for his Son to enjoy the utmost intimacy with his Bride is however intensely contested.

LOSING A LOVE

vs.2I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you pas a pure virgin to Christ. vs.3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Cor 11:2-3).

Revelation pictures a Church in danger of being seduced away from its love for Jesus to conform to the dominant culture of the day.

The Ephesians, though orthodox, have “abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev 2:4-5), the Christians at Sardis didn’t even know they’d fallen away (Rev 3:1-3) and the Laodiceans were so lukewarm they could not hear their Lover knocking on the door ( Rev 3:15-16, 20; cf. S of Sol 5:2).

Satan not only bullies, but through the powers of the Harlot he seeks to seduce the people of God through “spiritual” means (ch.17).

This is the case with all the “love talk” in the SSM debate.

In his ardour for his Bride the Lamb of God however demands exclusive passion for himself; the Church must be virginal (Rev 2:4-5;Rev 3:15-16;Rev 14:1-5). When she is not chaste severe divine judgement is inevitable (1 Pet 4:17). Our Father is never passive.

A JEALOUS FATHER/IN-LAW

The Father is a jealous God who punishes idolatry as an expression of spiritual adultery (Ex 20:3-5; Hos 4:12).

More than this, Revelation teaches he is the jealous Father of both Groom and Bride (1:6; 2:8, 18; 3:5; 21:7) and the one who gives the Bride away (3:12; 21:2, 10).

He issues the invitations to the Wedding (19:9) and will dwell with married couple after their wedding as their paternal protector forever (21:3-4; 22:3-5).

In this light the Australian Church must open its eyes to the stark realities surrounding it.

As God took an idolatrous people into Babylonian exile to strip them of their spiritual promiscuity (Ezek 6:8-10), so the Father, jealous for his Son to be worthily loved, has handed the Church over to the immediate prospect of living in a society that believes the myth that all loves are equal.

CONCLUSION

The Church is the special and beautiful Woman in the sight of God chosen for his Son; she alone is one in flesh and spirit with her Lord (1 Cor 6:17; Eph 5:32-33 cf. Mal 2:15).

But she can only see the true beauty of her holiness when she looks at herself through the eyes of the cross (Ps 45:10ff; Ps 96:9).seeing herself in Christ she is swept off her feet by the love of the Lamb and echoes his heart’s cry, testifying, “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”” (Rev 22:17).

She is a Bride motivated to holy discipleship to please her Groom hates all the harlotries of this world (Rev 18:4).

Moment by moment she draws her monogamous identity from her Husband’s all loving presence.

The SSM advocates are correct to say it is all about love, but not knowing the Lamb of God they cannot know what ultimate love means.

Who will show them, who will display the realities of Christ’s sacrificial love to a lost world immersed in ever accelerating sexual perversions?

What will you suffer the loss of for your heavenly Lover so that a generation sliding into the abyss of false loves might be saved by the sacrifice of the Lamb (Rev 7:13-14)?

Praise the wisdom of God for how he has ordained the SSM crisis in order to force such final choices upon us.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 08th October, 2017 | Editorial

Author: Dr. John Yates


MESSAGE PODCAST: N/A |   


Related Link: Nil

A Perspective on our times to a Christian audience.

Good morning. I bring you good news and bad news and the bad news is very bad but the good news is very good (sounds like a nursery rhyme from my childhood about a little girl with a curl on her forehead).

I trust that by the end of this morning you will be more alert than ever to our times and the need for prayer and sometimes action, and that you will be in tune with a theme that we have in our early morning weekday prayer time 5 days a week – grief for our nation, mourning for our world and the suffering church, excitement for tomorrow and joy for today.

And if anyone here does not know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, my prayer is that by the end of this morning you will come to that place of commitment.

My serious side is always mixed with fun which sometimes gets me into trouble. I have to be careful in the surgery consulting room to keep my sense of humour in check – but not always. I enjoy camping and it was around a camp fire about 5 yrs ago that I talked about some of the challenges facing us as Christians and threats to our world and one person who had been listening asked me the next morning “how can we prepare?” And so I talked about that the next evening and it became a paper on “A Safe Place for our Children” which you will find on the Choose Life Australia website and we will mention this briefly later.

And so, what are these threats?

There are so many books that we should read. Yeah, I know, people keep telling us don’t they? Elizabeth Kendal is an Australian writer who publishes the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin. Last year she published “After Saturday Comes Sunday” that highlights Islamic aggression “first the Jews, then the Christians”, an Arabic war cry – as sure as Saturday (the day of Jewish worship) is followed by Sunday (the day of Christian worship), first we’ll kill the Jews, then we’ll kill the Christians.

I don’t know whether any of you listen or watch Dr Michael Youssef on Sunday morning – I was amazed to hear him say one time that he grew up in Egypt with this taunt from other children.

We probably all realise the threat of Islamic extremism bathed in the resentment of many centuries. To understand the Middle East and the threat to the “Nations of the Cross” inscribed in blood from the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded on the beach in Libya, you need to read this book. And so, Islam, the first threat.

And we need to add in here the unpredictable threat of North Korea and nuclear holocaust!

The next threat is internal and is from the aggressive atheistic lobby with the leftists onside in wanting to erase anything Christian, re-writing our Christian heritage, stopping children from talking about Jesus in recess, replacing Happy Christmas with happy holiday, and with the militant evolutionists wanting to deny any uncomfortable evidences or logic in Intelligent Design and barring scientists who do accept ID – or, even worse, flood geology or Creation Science – promotions in their university or other fields.

And this of course leads to the threat to our freedom – control of belief and to speak of that which we believe, and beyond that, control of our thoughts and minds – if necessary with correctional re-education classes. This threat is spearheaded by the push for same-sex marriage, the “nice” name for homosexual “marriage”. But even that nice name is now not acceptable. As doctors in the response to the AMA statement supporting “marriage equality” we were accused of using the term same-sex marriage instead of marriage equality with a counter-response saying “which shows what we are up against”. So even using the nice term of same-sex marriage is regarded as hurtful.

But the marriage equality push is, as I said, only the head of the spear to control our freedom – Marxist philosophy in its “long march through the institutions” as Tony Abbott said in an editorial The West Australian just three days ago.

But this in turn is only indicative of the war in heaven and the satanic push to counter God’s creation plan and to wage war on God’s people.

So, how is this war in heaven played out at our level? By a direct attack on Creation and Creation order. By attacking that mankind is created in the Image of God and then by attacking the creation of male and female – first demonstrated by the attack on sexual behaviour, then the attack on marriage and now – with the transgender issues so much before us – with the attack on masculinity and femininity, what it means for God to have created male and female and make it of no essence.

John Yates puts it so well “the oppositional but complementary nature of heterosexual gender identity is written into the very framework of the order of the universe and the peak of the Creator’s genius. The challenge is far more profound than most Christians realise. This is a claim (for same-sex marriage) that God did not create His Image as male plus female, it is an attack on the very existence and nature of God. The spiritual warfare around this issue is very intense.”

This is direct rebellion against God in an intensity as we have not seen in our lifetime – and against His people, the Bride of Christ, the Church – to silence it, to divide it, and to destroy our freedom to teach our children about our Christian faith. Yes, we’ve been here before with Communism and German fascism but not in our time and not in the “free” West.

It reminds me of that scene in Revelation 12 where Satan declares war against “those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus”.

Yes, the real issue for humanity, for us – and it always has been – is what we do with our God.  Terrorism and war may then be what God does with us – or at least permits.

Are we in the Last Days? Who knows but if we are then remember the words of Jesus on the Calvary Road to “lift up your heads for your redemption draws nigh”.

And the other day I was reading Hezekiah’s prayer (2 Kings 19:16) when Jerusalem was surrounded by the army of Sennacharib and Hezekiah responded to Sennacharib’s challenge against God by praying “give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes Lord and see; listen to the words Sennacharib has sent to ridicule the living God. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God”.

And what is our way forward? More than anything else it is to engage in prayer as did Hezekiah. Remember as never before that our war is more than just against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

We are quite fortunate here in Australia in that we realise the agenda has become more transparent in moving from same-sex marriage to definitions of male and female and transgenders and gender fluidity with state driven indoctrination with its many broad aspects in our schools and even in our pre-schools. The push to wipe out “heteronormativity” is so extreme that in some early childhood education programs children are not supposed to ask whether a new-born baby is a boy or a girl.

The agenda of Ros Ward has become obvious in what she has said “Safe Schools Coalition is about supporting gender and sexual diversity… Not about stopping bullying. About gender and sexual diversity. About same-sex attractive. About being transgender. About being lesbian, gay, bisexual – say the words – transgender, intersex”. And her Marxist agenda slipped in a tweet about the rainbow flag flying over the Victorian parliament when she said “Now we just need to get rid of the racist Australian flag on top of the state parliament and get a red one up there and my work is done.”

And so, this plebiscite is more than just giving gays permission to marry and marriage equality. Equality was achieved by the law changes of 2008. There is no inequality. Gays too are free to marry but marriage is for male and female as a complementary biological pair.

Legislation has consequences – changing marriage law is no exception

consequence ˈkɒnsɪkw(ə)ns/ noun plural noun: consequences

1. a result or effect, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant. “abrupt withdrawal of drug treatment can have serious consequences”

synonyms:

result
upshot
outcome
out-turn
sequel
effect
reaction
repercussion

reverberations
ramification
end
end-result
conclusion
termination
culmination
denouement

corollary
concomitant
aftermath
fruit(s)
product
produce
by-product.

To include any “two people” as per law changes already suggested also includes different genders i.e. transgender marriage would be legal

Legislative approval of sexual indoctrination of our children to accept such a genderless society (gender is fluid), to explore their sexual orientation and their gender identity, being encouraged at a young age to declare their sexuality, that there are two virginities (with a chick and a dude), that homosexual behaviour is “normal” and without risk, and to groom for early sex

In giving such legislative approval of a homosexual lifestyle with reinforcement through our schools we are exposing them to all the medical risks of that lifestyle (but we’re not allowed to talk about that like we are able to talk about smoking and alcohol and drugs)

Legislative approval of a new “stolen generation” of children being raised in same-sex/transgender families without the solid foundation of mothers and fathers – particularly biological mothers and fathers

The attacks on freedom of speech and belief – at risk now as has already been demonstrated during this campaign – will be “weaponised” through anti-discrimination laws

On freedom to bring up our children with our own values and not be subject to “diversity/sensitivity re-training”. Ultimately, as we have seen overseas, home schooling will have to incorporate such instruction and children will be tested to ensure that they have “learned”.

The push to transgender, to change our sex when we feel like it and to approve of such to our kids is an extraordinary issue that has come out of this revolution and moved with lightning speed. On the one hand in Toronto parents are considered to be abusive unless they agree to their transgender child having medical or surgical therapy to help them transgender, and are threatened with having the child taken away from them. On the other hand we have very prominent paediatricians including our own Dr John Whitelaw considering it abuse if treatment is given.

The elephant in the room is biology (some elementary one-liners)

The biological design and purpose of male and female sexual anatomy and function is the creation of progeny and the formation of family

Sexual activity outside of biological parameters is not the same – it is different..

Sexual activity outside of biological parameters is associated with significantly increased rates of disease.

Legislative approval of “marriage” outside of these biological parameters is therefore a public health disaster

State indoctrination of our children through school curriculums that endorse and encourage sexual activity outside biological parameters is likewise also a disaster

Children have a right to know and be brought up by their biological Mothers and Fathers

None of these can be classified as hate-speech.

What is our responsibility to be? What did Jesus say that is applicable to this battle?

1.0 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’b? So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” As we have said, this warfare is an unprecedented rebellion against God and His Creation – we must preach and teach the fundamentals of creation and their application – male and female created He them, the ordinance of marriage and the Imago Dei – to be created in the image of God

2.0 Secondly Jesus explained and affirmed the command (Luke 10:27) to love our neighbor. Loving our neighbour and our neighbour’s children means warning against approaching calamity (e.g. a flash flood) or helping to protect their future from encroaching evil – in this instance against state mandated sexual indoctrination. It is not optional (oh, I don’t get into anything political, I just concentrate on evangelism). “Hate evil and love good, then work it out in the public square” (Amos 5:15 Msg)

3.0 Thirdly, Jesus saidwhoever 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). If we, as informed Christians, support SSM and support and vote for politicians whose firm commitment is the sexual indoctrination of our children through legislative mandate, then we too are guilty of allowing our little ones to be led into sin.

ACTION

Realise above all that this is a battle in the heavenlies and pray

Realise at the earthly level this is now a political exercise and for the sake of our country and our future

Talk about it. Know how to communicate with different age groups

Vote! And encourage others to vote. (No, of course!)

Do the Zoom program via the com.au website

Teach and learn scripture. Learn it and by your example teach your kids and grandkids to learn it. Teach them as we walk along the road, as they go to bed and as they get up. What they learn now will stand them in good stead as they face these battles in the times to come. This is Deuteronomy 6 of course – the Shema: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” 

For the same reasons learn and teach songs – the tunes stay in our head and we can sing along to the tune (even in times of trouble like Paul and Silas did in the jail at Philippi).

Good news. Bad news. I don’t think the bad news gets any worse than this. I come back to the saying of our early morning prayer meetings – grief for our nation; mourning for our world and the suffering church; excitement for tomorrow because God is ultimately in charge; and JOY for today. Every day.

Are we in the Last Days? Who knows but if we are then remember the words of Jesus on the Calvary Road to “lift up your heads for your redemption draws nigh”.

Lachlan Dunjey. Westminster Presbyterian Church, Maida Vale WA, Saturday breakfast 30 Sept 2017.


Getting God Angry

Getting God Angry: the parable of the unforgiving servant

Readings: Luke 7:36-50; Matt 18: 21-35

INTRODUCTION 

Since Australians are strongly into “natural justice”, the story of the unforgiving servant should “really ring our bells”. This servant is like the banks who during the GFC lost billions through their own stupidity pleaded for bail outs from governments, which they usually received, then never went on to release their millions of small debtors. Like such institutions the unforgiving servant plainly deserves no mercy. The righteous anger of the king in our story, who represents God, is surely deserved. However since none of us is in the position of God, something Donna reminds me of at times, this is not the main point of the story.  Its main point is a stern warning about the cost of limiting forgiveness.

EXPOSITION

The parable of the unforgiving servant is set in the context of Jesus’ teaching about church discipline. It instructs us how to deal in an orderly way with a brother who sins against us. In this circumstance Peter’s question is a natural one.

vs.21 “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” vs.22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Matt 18 vs.21-22

In this instance the sinning brother seems either has no awareness about or no concern that he has done wrong i.e. he is not repentant.

Some of the rabbis had put a threshold on forgiving at 3 times, so Peter would have thought his calculation was generous. Jesus however extends the disciples thinking beyond limit. The “77 times” seems to be the direct opposite of the threat of the evil Lamech in Genesis 4:24; “If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.””. 77 isn’t to be taken literally, it’s a way of talking about limitless forgiving of others. True forgiveness means a. I will not think about this incident, b. I will not bring it up to use it against you, c. I will not talk to others about it and d. I will not allow it to hinder our relationship.

For some years ago, after a sequence of church related disasters where I felt had been sinned against, I used every Sunday morning to make it part of my prayer routine to pray for the people who had most hurt me and my family. Until I came to a place of peace.

Jesus answer to Peter assumes that God’s own willingness to forgive is unlimited. If there was a limit to divine forgiveness Peter, the disciple who went on to deny Jesus, would never have been forgiven and we would never have this story.

The importance of Christians forgiving one another appears throughout the New Testament. E.g. Paul exhorts the Ephesians, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph 4:31-32; cf. Col 3:13). Later on we will consider what makes it possible for us to forgive sin.

vs.23Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. vs.24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. vs.25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

Matt 18 vs.23-25

This is a parable about the kingdom of God, especially about how forgiveness is central to God’s kingly rule in this world. The king in the story represents God/Christ, even though    some details suggest a pagan kingdom.

Crucial to understanding the parable is the fact that the debt of the first servant is unimaginably high, being more than the entire amount of money than existed in Palestine at the time. Since the talent was the highest unit of currency and 10,000 the highest Greek numeral Jesus seems to be saying that the debt is unlimited. The poor man owed the king something like 250,000 years wages for an average worker.  Compared to this mountain of debt (cf.v.32 “all that debt”) selling the man and his family into slavery would realise almost no return on the loss.

vs.26So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ vs.27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

Matt 18 vs.26-27

The key expression here is “out of pity”. This word has already been used in Matthew 9:36 for Christ’s “compassion” on crowds of lost people. The king is far from hard hearted, he is inwardly deeply moved to help the indebted man. While the servant had asked for time to repay the king forgives the entire debt. Now the story takes an unexpected turn.

vs.28But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,10 and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ vs.29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ vs.30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.

Matt 18 vs.28-30

100 denarii was around one six-hundred-thousandth of the debt the first servant owed the master, this was a debt easy to repay. In other words Jesus is teaching that the debt others owe us is nothing to the debt we owe God.

vs.31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.

Matt 18 vs.31

These other servants are compassionate “whistle blowers”.

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?’

Matt 18 vs.32-33

James says in his letter, “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13). Christ himself said, ““Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”” (Matt 5:7) and ““Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”” (Luke 6:36). To be merciful is to be like God, the merciful receive mercy, the merciless receive no mercy. God is longsuffering and patient (cf. vv. 26, 29) but he has his limits. To refuse to forgive others is the sure way to make God angry with you so the debt you owe him returns on your head.

vs.34And in anger his master delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all his debt.

Matt 18 vs.34

The “torturers” were jailers who by inflicting pain on prisoners put pressure on the defaulter and his family to produce the money owed. But given the enormity of the debt and that to come to the help of the jailed man would make someone an enemy of the king, the debt will never be repayable Now follows a dreadful warning.

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 vs.35

In other words pretend disciples will be consigned to hell forever by the wrath of God. There are no exceptions; those who don’t forgive cannot expect forgiveness (Matt 6:12, 14-15).  Notice that Jesus does not say that in his anger “your heavenly Father” will not forgive, but “my” Father will not forgive you. Those who do not forgive do not have God as their Father. If we are not like the all forgiving Jesus we will not be forgiven (Luke 23:34). Does this mean that we need to try harder to forgive other Christians…? No. The good news is that the power to release others from the debt of their sins against us comes from our union with Christ.

When Paul commands, “Put on… bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Col 3:12-13) he means that we will sincerely forgive others in exact proportion to how our hearts have been impacted by the full and free forgiveness that is ours in Christ. Much like Jesus put it about the sinful woman who wept at his feet, ““I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”” (Luke 7:47). The closer we get to Jesus the quicker we forgive others. This is a fruit of our union with Christ.

Saint Teresa of Avila was correct to say, “I cannot believe that anyone who has approached so nearly Mercy itself, will not immediately and readily forgive, and remain on good terms with a person who has done it wrong.” Or, if you don’t like Catholic saints, Protestant legend John Piper says, “If you hold a grudge, you doubt the Judge.” If Jesus is in your heart you will forgive others. Am I simplifying a complex moral issue? What do you think of this situation?

At a Concentration Camp in 1943, Simon Wiesenthal is summoned to the bedside of the dying Nazi soldier. The soldier tells him he is seeking “a Jew’s” (Wiesenthal’s) forgiveness for a crime that has haunted him since it was committed a year ago. The man confesses to having destroyed a house full of 300 Jews and as the Jews tried to leap out of windows to escape the burning building he gunned them down. After the soldier finishes his story he asks Wiesenthal to forgive him. Wiesenthal leaves the room without speaking to the dying soldier. Later Wiesenthal wrote a book about this ethical dilemma and asked 53 religious scholars and dignitaries whether or not he should have forgiven the soldier. Most said “Do not forgive”, some were “Uncertain”, a few [[Buddhists and Christians]] said  “Forgive”. What do you think…?

If we think the Christian thing to do is to forgive a Nazi murderer why do Christians so often find it difficult to forgive their brothers and sisters in Christ? Why, for example, are there many marriages in which two fellow disciples of Jesus refuse to live out the gospel of forgiveness? Surely the living out of forgiveness, not some outward profession of doctrine, establishes the boundary between the true and false church.

CONCLUSION

Let us beware lest we fit Christ’s description of false disciples, ““this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me,”” (Isa 29:13cf. Matt 15:8-9; Mark 7:6). These are people who claim to be Christians but deep down think there is some goodness in themselves which is other than a fruit of their union with Christ.

Only a true disciple of Jesus will freely confess, “Left to myself I am that ‘wicked servant’ (v.32) who deserves to be cast into hell…. Left to myself I will not forgive.” Such a confession shows we are really forgiven people, people who humbly recognise that the sole difference between the wicked servant and our own natural malicious hearts is that at some time the gospel revelation of undeserved forgiveness in Christ moved us to repent towards God and to forgive others (2 Cor 5:19 cf. 1 John 4:19-21)!

Let us live like true disciples, as men and women who love what Jesus loves and hate what he hates. If we love Jesus we love his cross and we will want to forgive all; no matter what they have said and done against us.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 22nd October, 2017 | St Mark’s

Author: Dr. John Yates


MESSAGE PODCAST: 22nd October. 2017 |   


Related Link: Nil

A Perspective on our times to a Christian audience.

Breakfast Talk Sat 30 Sept 2017.

By Lachlan Dunjey.

Good morning. I bring you good news and bad news and the bad news is very bad but the good news is very good (sounds like a nursery rhyme from my childhood about a little girl with a curl on her forehead).

I trust that by the end of this morning you will be more alert than ever to our times and the need for prayer and sometimes action, and that you will be in tune with a theme that we have in our early morning weekday prayer time 5 days a week – grief for our nation, mourning for our world and the suffering church, excitement for tomorrow and joy for today.

And if anyone here does not know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, my prayer is that by the end of this morning you will come to that place of commitment.

My serious side is always mixed with fun which sometimes gets me into trouble. I have to be careful in the surgery consulting room to keep my sense of humour in check – but not always. I enjoy camping and it was around a camp fire about 5 yrs ago that I talked about some of the challenges facing us as Christians and threats to our world and one person who had been listening asked me the next morning “how can we prepare?” And so I talked about that the next evening and it became a paper on “A Safe Place for our Children” which you will find on the Choose Life Australia website and we will mention this briefly later.

And so, what are these threats?

There are so many books that we should read. Yeah, I know, people keep telling us don’t they? Elizabeth Kendal is an Australian writer who publishes the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin. Last year she published “After Saturday Comes Sunday” that highlights Islamic aggression “first the Jews, then the Christians”, an Arabic war cry – as sure as Saturday (the day of Jewish worship) is followed by Sunday (the day of Christian worship), first we’ll kill the Jews, then we’ll kill the Christians.

I don’t know whether any of you listen or watch Dr Michael Youssef on Sunday morning – I was amazed to hear him say one time that he grew up in Egypt with this taunt from other children.

We probably all realise the threat of Islamic extremism bathed in the resentment of many centuries. To understand the Middle East and the threat to the “Nations of the Cross” inscribed in blood from the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded on the beach in Libya, you need to read this book. And so, Islam, the first threat.

And we need to add in here the unpredictable threat of North Korea and nuclear holocaust!

The next threat is internal and is from the aggressive atheistic lobby with the leftists onside in wanting to erase anything Christian, re-writing our Christian heritage, stopping children from talking about Jesus in recess, replacing Happy Christmas with happy holiday, and with the militant evolutionists wanting to deny any uncomfortable evidences or logic in Intelligent Design and barring scientists who do accept ID – or, even worse, flood geology or Creation Science – promotions in their university or other fields.

And this of course leads to the threat to our freedom – control of belief and to speak of that which we believe, and beyond that, control of our thoughts and minds – if necessary with correctional re-education classes. This threat is spearheaded by the push for same-sex marriage, the “nice” name for homosexual “marriage”. But even that nice name is now not acceptable. As doctors in the response to the AMA statement supporting “marriage equality” we were accused of using the term same-sex marriage instead of marriage equality with a counter-response saying “which shows what we are up against”. So even using the nice term of same-sex marriage is regarded as hurtful.

But the marriage equality push is, as I said, only the head of the spear to control our freedom – Marxist philosophy in its “long march through the institutions” as Tony Abbott said in an editorial The West Australian just three days ago.

But this in turn is only indicative of the war in heaven and the satanic push to counter God’s creation plan and to wage war on God’s people.

So, how is this war in heaven played out at our level?

By a direct attack on Creation and Creation order. By attacking that mankind is created in the Image of God and then by attacking the creation of male and female – first demonstrated by the attack on sexual behaviour, then the attack on marriage and now – with the transgender issues so much before us – with the attack on masculinity and femininity, what it means for God to have created male and female and make it of no essence.

John Yates puts it so well “the oppositional but complementary nature of heterosexual gender identity is written into the very framework of the order of the universe and the peak of the Creator’s genius. The challenge is far more profound than most Christians realise. This is a claim (for same-sex marriage) that God did not create His Image as male plus female, it is an attack on the very existence and nature of God. The spiritual warfare around this issue is very intense.”

This is direct rebellion against God in an intensity as we have not seen in our lifetime – and against His people, the Bride of Christ, the Church – to silence it, to divide it, and to destroy our freedom to teach our children about our Christian faith. Yes, we’ve been here before with Communism and German fascism but not in our time and not in the “free” West.

It reminds me of that scene in Revelation 12 where Satan declares war against “those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus”.

Yes, the real issue for humanity, for us – and it always has been – is what we do with our God. Terrorism and war may then be what God does with us – or at least permits.

Are we in the Last Days? Who knows but if we are then remember the words of Jesus on the Calvary Road to “lift up your heads for your redemption draws nigh”.

And the other day I was reading Hezekiah’s prayer (2 Kings 19:16) when Jerusalem was surrounded by the army of Sennacharib and Hezekiah responded to Sennacharib’s challenge against God by praying “give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes Lord and see; listen to the words Sennacharib has sent to ridicule the living God. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God”.

And what is our way forward?

More than anything else it is to engage in prayer as did Hezekiah. Remember as never before that our war is more than just against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

We are quite fortunate here in Australia in that we realise the agenda has become more transparent in moving from same-sex marriage to definitions of male and female and transgenders and gender fluidity with state driven indoctrination with its many broad aspects in our schools and even in our pre-schools. The push to wipe out “hetero-normativity” is so extreme that in some early childhood education programs children are not supposed to ask whether a new-born baby is a boy or a girl.

“Safe Schools Coalition is about supporting gender and sexual diversity… Not about stopping bullying. About gender and sexual diversity. About same-sex attractive. About being transgender. About being lesbian, gay, bisexual – say the words – transgender, intersex”. And her Marxist agenda slipped in a tweet about the rainbow flag flying over the Victorian parliament when she said “Now we just need to get rid of the racist Australian flag on top of the state parliament and get a red one up there and my work is done.”

And so, this plebiscite is more than just giving gays permission to marry and marriage equality. Equality was achieved by the law changes of 2008. There is no inequality. Gays too are free to marry but marriage is for male and female as a complementary biological pair.

Legislation has consequences – changing marriage law is no exception

To include any “two people” as per law changes already suggested also includes different genders i.e. transgender marriage would be legal

Legislative approval of sexual indoctrination of our children to accept such a gender-less society (gender is fluid), to explore their sexual orientation and their gender identity, being encouraged at a young age to declare their sexuality, that there are two virginities (with a chick and a dude), that homosexual behaviour is “normal” and without risk, and to groom for early sex

In giving such legislative approval of a homosexual lifestyle with reinforcement through our schools we are exposing them to all the medical risks of that lifestyle (but we’re not allowed to talk about that like we are able to talk about smoking and alcohol and drugs)

Legislative approval of a new “stolen generation” of children being raised in same-sex/transgender families without the solid foundation of mothers and fathers – particularly biological mothers and fathers

The attacks on freedom of speech and belief – at risk now as has already been demonstrated during this campaign – will be “weaponised” through anti-discrimination laws
On freedom to bring up our children with our own values and not be subject to “diversity/sensitivity re-training”. Ultimately, as we have seen overseas, home schooling will have to incorporate such instruction and children will be tested to ensure that they have “learned”.

The push to transgender, to change our sex when we feel like it and to approve of such to our kids is an extraordinary issue that has come out of this revolution and moved with lightning speed. On the one hand in Toronto parents are considered to be abusive unless they agree to their transgender child having medical or surgical therapy to help them transgender, and are threatened with having the child taken away from them. On the other hand we have very prominent paediatricians including our own Dr John Whitelaw considering it abuse if treatment is given.

The elephant in the room is biology (some elementary one-liners)

• The biological design and purpose of male and female sexual anatomy and function is the creation of progeny and the formation of family

• Sexual activity outside of biological parameters is not the same – it is different..

• Sexual activity outside of biological parameters is associated with significantly increased rates of disease.

• Legislative approval of “marriage” outside of these biological parameters is therefore a public health disaster

• State indoctrination of our children through school curriculum’s that endorse and encourage sexual activity outside biological parameters is likewise also a disaster

• Children have a right to know and be brought up by their biological Mothers and Fathers

• None of these can be classified as hate-speech.

What is our responsibility to be? What did Jesus say that is applicable to this battle?

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.” As we have said, this warfare is an unprecedented rebellion against God and His Creation – we must preach and teach the fundamentals of creation and their application – male and female created He them, 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 warning against approaching calamity (e.g. a flash flood) or helping to protect their future from encroaching evil – in this instance against state mandated sexual indoctrination. It is not optional (oh, I don’t get into anything political, I just concentrate on evangelism). “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). If we, as informed Christians, support SSM and support and vote for politicians whose firm commitment is the sexual indoctrination of our children through legislative mandate, then we too are guilty of allowing our little ones to be led into sin.

…taking on not just our own sufferings but those of God in the world, watching with Christ in Gethsemane.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer shortly before his execution

ACTION

Realise above all that this is a battle in the heavenlies and pray

Realise at the earthly level this is now a political exercise and for the sake of our country and our future

Talk about it. Know how to communicate with different age groups

Vote! And encourage others to vote. (No, of course!)

Do the Zoom program via the CoalitionforMarriage.com.au website

Teach and learn scripture. Learn it and by your example teach your kids and grand-kids to learn it. Teach them as we walk along the road, as they go to bed and as they get up. What they learn now will stand them in good stead as they face these battles in the times to come. This is Deuteronomy 6 of course – the Shema: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

For the same reasons learn and teach songs – the tunes stay in our head and we can sing along to the tune (even in times of trouble like Paul and Silas did in the jail at Philippi).

GOOD NEWS. BAD NEWS.

I don’t think the bad news gets any worse than this. I come back to the saying of our early morning prayer meetings – grief for our nation; mourning for our world and the suffering church; excitement for tomorrow because God is ultimately in charge; and JOY for today. Every day.

Are we in the Last Days?

Who knows but if we are then remember the words of Jesus on the Calvary Road to “lift up your heads for your redemption draws nigh”.

Lachlan Dunjey.
[Westminster Presbyterian Church, Maida Vale WA, Saturday breakfast 30 Sept 2017.]


Joy (for today)
Excitement (for tomorrow)
Grief (for our nation)
Mourning (suffering brothers and sisters)

Real Hate

INTRODUCTION

vs.28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. vs.29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, vs.30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, vs.31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. vs.32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Rom 1:28-32 ESV)

Paul is not describing an especially bad group of people, simply pagan society as he knew it in his day. Few can now deny that after centuries of Christianising these words apply to contemporary Australia where many believers have been shocked by the animosity of the Yes side on the same-sex marriage (SSM) debate.

Head buttings, sackings, attempts to de-register Christian doctors, threats to “hate-f…” those who believe in traditional marriage and so on have been astonishing.

Anyone who says anything in the least unfavourable about homosexuals is termed “homophobic”; i.e. someone who hates gays and is guilty of hate speech.

Whilst the marriage debate might seem to be a political or moral quarrel it is about something far deeper.

It is a manifestation of lost humanity’s true heart towards God.

Despite surface appearances the average Australian is not simply a “She’ll be right mate!” person happy to allow you to have your opinion as long as it doesn’t interfere with their hedonistic lifestyle. Rather, the average Aussie “suppresses the truth in unrighteousness…. hates the light… children of the devil…  curses God” (John 3:20 ESV; Rom 1:18 ESV; 1 John 3:10 ESV; Rev 16:9 ESV). In his wisdom the Lord is using the SSM debate that “thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”” (Luke 2:35 ESV). His gracious intention is to bring to an end the sheltered middle class spectator religion that has long dominated Australian church going.

HATE IS BLIND

The hatred of fallen human beings always robs them of spiritual clarity. If “everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light” (John 3:20 ESV), and “in your (God’s) light do we see light” (Ps 36:9 ESV), then the angry devotees of SSM are spiritually blind. In their wrath to destroy whatever stands in the way of their vision they cannot see the light of the gospel (2 Cor 4:4 ESV).

These are beast like irrational people (Jude 1:10 ESV; 2 Pet 2:12 ESV). God is no passive bystander in this conflict, in his wrath has handed people over to this dreadful condition (Isa 44:18 ESV; Rom 1:24, 26, 28 ESV).

Ordinary Christians are shocked by the vilification they receive on Facebook if they post, “It’s Ok to say No.”, but the Spirit is helping us to see that we are in a day of moral and spiritual insanity.

As ex-gay activist James Parker puts it, the real problem in Western culture is not homophobia but heterophobia.

This is why, for example, the Safe Schools programme in schools is agitating against heteronormativity; labelling as dangerous the view that the normal state of human sexuality is to be male or female.

It used to be said that “love is blind”, but in the case of God’s love this is absolutely untrue. Only through the love of God revealed in the cross of Christ can we see good and evil as they really are.

JESUS LOVES THE HATERS

This prophetic word about Jesus, “‘They hated me without a cause.’” (Ps 69:4 ESV; John 15:25 ESV), is a true description at one level but not at another.

On the one hand Jesus never said or did anything that was harmful to another person’s well being, so that there was no reason to hate him. On the other hand those who hated Jesus held an ultimate intention in their hearts, they hated him because he was God-in-the-flesh (John 10:31-33 ESV).

All human anger against God was projected on to Christ; ““The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”” (Rom 15:3 ESV).

The reality of humanity’s fury against the Creator became perfectly evident at the cross.

Here Jesus bears the rage of the nations against the Lord and the fierce hostility of men who behave like mad wild beasts (Ps 2:1; 22:12ff. ESV). The dying Jesus receives no mercy at human hands because he has become the focus of all of humanity’s resentments against God. Immersed in the darkness of our hate there is no divine light for the sinless Son of God; hence his cry, ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34 ESV).

The cross is the one place in history where human beings openly treat God as they think he deserves!

But when Jesus prays, ““Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”” (Luke 23:34) it is clear that however God hates sin (Ps 11:5 ESV; Mal 1:3 ESV; Rev 2:6 ESV) he in no way hates as we do. His intent is never to destroy, but only to heal; “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13 ESV).

YOU ARE IMPORTANT

Jesus promised us, ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you”” (John 15:18 ESV).

His assurance that the disciples would ““be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”” (Matt 24:9 ESV) has powerful implications long been forgotten in the Western Church.

Those who are ignored as irrelevant cannot experience the “weight of glory” that belongs to those who commune with the sufferings of Christ (2 Cor 4:17 ESV; Phil 3:10 ESV).

To be hated for faith is a sign of spiritual significance and imparts a deep sense of worth in the image of Christ. The bad temper of the SSM debate is a God-given opportunity for us to live out the unconditional forgiveness of the gospel. Where this is practiced in love we can anticipate a visitation bringing tremendous illumination of spiritual reality. This is how the Lord is using the bizarre attitudes and values of our time to purify us his Church.

CONCLUSION

When a believer recently prayed, “the path is narrowing” (Geoff Morris), I could hear what the Spirit was saying to the churches (Matt 7:13-14 ESV; Rev 2:7 ESV etc.).

The King is moving us off the comfortable broad way of church services where mood music anaesthetises “worshippers” against the oppressive power of the wickedness daily surrounding them.

He is shifting us away from motivational addresses that hypnotise against the depth of depravity into which our nation has fallen. For decades many have prayed that the Lord shake out of his people everything other than his kingdom presence; but now it is happening few can see how the Spirit is moving (Heb 12:25-29 ESV).

Good does not depend on evil to exist, but only against the darkness of the terror of hate can we ever know just how good God was in sending his Son into the world to save us.

If we would be more like Christ and his Father we must suffer more from the anger of a world in wild rebellion against its Lord.

Only through this path of enlightenment can we appreciate that the wrath released by the SSM debate is a great gift to the Church. A gift to be received with praise and thanksgiving for the all surpassing wisdom in the gospel of a crucified Saviour (1 Cor 1:18-25 ESV). May we all embrace such a mindset to the glory of God.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 2nd October, 2017 |

Author: Dr. John Yates


MESSAGE PODCAST: N/A |   


Related Link: Nil